Chapter 1: I'm Just Living In My Head
Chapter One: I'm Just Living In My Head
Story Note: Originally published in 2007 on fanfiction.net, but I stopped writing there after some of my stories were deleted. In fact, I stopped writing for a while. Decided on a whim today to pick up this story and finish it. I'm bad about finishing things, so here goes.
-Jaydn Rein (25.5.2011)
Author's Note: I borrowed the word caramel from "Round the Mulberry Bush" by backwardfruit. It was the only word that worked. The story title and this chapter's title are from lines in the Smashing Pumpkins song The Everlasting Gaze. I don't own it or American Dragon, if I did I wouldn't be such a poor college student.
The hues of his skin, two shades of perfection. One soft caramel, the other brilliant fire. I think of him and I'm almost there, like an idea or feeling you get so close to reaching, but never succeed in achieving. That blue-black of his hair entices me. I'll never understand why he added green, but I'm enchanted nonetheless. He is red, his is fire, he is my dragon. Correction: He is my dragon only in my dreams. Wet, hot, sticky, lustful and climactic fantasies that refuse to give me a moments rest. If only I could dream forever.
-Posted to the online journal of Spud, 6:18 am. Marked: Private
What if dreams do exist, in the afterlife. If there is such a thing.
-Posted to the online journal of Spud, 3:39 am. Marked: Friends
Perhaps it is not a deranged delusion on my part. Things could get better.
-Posted to the online journal of Spud, 9:55 pm. Marked: Public
Trixie slouched in the computer lab, listening to a lecture on how to find books through the university library's website. Already bored to tears five minutes into the class, she was attempting to portray the attentive student image while surfing the internet. Looking around it was easy to tell that she was not alone in her quest. She decided to go check out Spud's blog and see what he was up to. With classes and everything going on at the start of their freshman year, Trixie hadn't seen much of Spud. On the other hand, Trixie had been seeing more of Jake since he was finally beginning to cope with Rose's betrayal. Jake had even started leaving the house for something other than dragon training or school. Trixie was proud of him, picking up like that. 'Jake tends to dwell on negative things forever. The boy always needed a sense of perspective, hey, life goes on.' Trixie sighs, loudly and wistfully, getting glances from those around her. 'While one boy gets back on track, the other is deliberately zig-zagging around it. Fidgety little bastard.'
She hated thinking such thoughts but it was true, if only Spud showed the person he really was to his friends then perhaps... things could get better. She read the last line of Spud's latest post over again.
Things could get better.
Something clicked in Trixie's mind. This was the latest in a series of vague, unsettling posts by Spud. 'What's going on with him? You'd think he'd be happy, moving to a dorm far away from his demanding father, but no! Instead he goes all angsty-depressed-poet boy on us. This was worse than the one man band phase. Problem is,' Trixie realized with a sudden jolt, 'it doesn't feel like a phase.'
"Oh, hey, what's up?"
"Actually, I was wondering if I could talk to you..."
"Can it wait? I've got a quiz today that I haven't even pretended to study for. AmDrag business n' all." Jake started to walk off towards the library. 'The library,' Trixie wondered, 'some things do change, but this is too important to blow off.'
"No Jake, it can't wait. I'm worried about Spud."
"What now? He's just going through a phase and you know it."
"Fine, whatever, don't listen to me. Go study for your stupid test!" Trixie stormed off, once again getting noticed for her loud temper.
Chapter 2: Caught in the Wind
Spud sat in his desolate dorm room, playing with a gum eraser. '"Hot like a frozen sun"... I don't even know what that means, what was I thinking? Writing that song might have been one of my worst idea. Why don't I just come out and say "Hey, Jake. I think you're the hottest person I've ever met. Oh any by the way, I ought to mention that I love you."' In an uncharacteristic bout of anger, he slammed the side of his fist into the concrete block wall. It hurt, but by this point he was beyond caring for the vodka had already began to dull his senses. He decided to finish off the bottle before heading to bed, not like there was much left anyway.
The unicorn foamed at the mouth, eyes dark, hollow. "Spud! Get out of the way!" In spite of Jake's warning, or perhaps because of it, Spud froze. To tell the truth he wanted to move but couldn't. Jake flew into action, shoving Spud out of the way. Due to the force Jake used to save Spud they rolled onto the street. Spud was on top of Dragon Jake, staring straight into his eyes. As they paused, the world around them momentarily faded into oblivion, only to be shattered by the sound of a truck's horn that echoed loudly through their ears.
"Move! Jake! Spud! Move!" Trixie was frantic, yelling from the side of the road. She wanted to help her friends but knew that is was suicide to run out into the road.
It was Spud this time that sprung into action, jumping off of Jake and grabbing one of his claws.
"Trixie, you wanted to talk. I'm sorry, I was a jerk."
"Yeah you were!" Trixie paused, glad Jake was making an effort, but not past giving him a hard time. "Thanks for admitting it."
"This sounds kind of weird, but... well," Jake faltered not knowing how to explain the events of the previous night. "He looked at me weird. I can't describe it, and he hasn't been answering my calls!"
"I was reading his journal -"
"Wait, he still writes in that thing?"
"He posts all the time! What are you Jake - oblivious or somethin'?"
"Yeah right Trix, he hasn't posted in ages!"
"I'll prove it!"
"Fine!" Trixie proceeded to grab Jake's laptop and log on to her journal account. "See! Here," she pointed to one of Spud's latest posts.
"Woah, I haven't seen any of these." Jake logged out of Trixie's account and on to his own. "See, nothing! What's he doing, huh? Hiding shit like that from me! What a jerk!"
"Don't jump to conclusions Jake, maybe there's something more to this."
"Yeah, right, like he's desperately in love with me or something." At that inopportune moment, Lao Shi and Fu Dog walked into the room.
"Someone in love with Jake? Impossible," Lao Shi continued with an unintelligible string of Chinese mixed with laughter.
"Yeah, that is pretty crazy," Fu Dog chimed in.
Trixie rolled her eyes and continued the joke, "Well, you know he did get over Stacey pretty fast."
As part of an unfortunate string of events, Spud walked into the room. "You called?"
Lao Shi and Fu Dog made a quick exit.
"Yeah, I did call. Like fifty times. What's going on with you man?"
"Gee, sorry for having responsibilities. I was studying."
"Wait, you... responsibilities... studying? You've never studied! Liar."
Trixie just stood to the side, hoping this battle would come to an end so she wouldn't have to intervene. She hated being a mediator between her two best friends, almost as much as she disliked dealing with their problems. Okay, so maybe that wasn't so true, Trixie did like helping her friends, but all the drama is so tiring. Eventually the subject was dropped in favor of pizza, but it was still too late for Spud: Trixie had decided to find out what else Spud was hiding.
Chapter 3: Before I Go Insane
"The secret source of humor is not joy but sorrow; there is no humor in Heaven."
- Mark Twain
Jake, Spud and Trixie were sitting by the large fountain on the middle of the university campus. They weren't talking much, just enjoying the nice day. Occasionally one of them would get up to goof around on a skateboard, but no one felt particularly ambitious.
Spud interrupted the peace with another in a string of increasingly bizarre questions, "Why does my sweat smell like raisins? I don't even eat raisins much!" Spud wasn't joking – in fact he kind of enjoyed the smell of his own armpits. 'Although,' he thought, 'Jake smells pretty good when he's covered in sweat after a fight.' He immediately pushed the thought out of his mind only to be greeted with two annoyed looks in reply to his question.
"I still don't get it Spud: You're a genius you could go to any school anywhere in the world – yet you stayed in New York! On top of all that nonsense, you act like an idiot!" Trixie's pent up frustration was unleashed upon an ill prepared Spud.
Jake interrupted the tension before Spud could formulate a decent retort, "Come on guys, it's time to pick up Haley."
Normally Jake's little sister did not need to be picked up from her high school, in fact she usually flew home after she finished with her day. Even dragons can be injured and Haley was unlucky enough to break her arm. Even though it was mostly healed and in a sling, she was still not supposed to drive for another week.
Spud couldn't help thinking about the past as the trio drove towards Haley's school. It takes a lot to hurt a dragon, and it takes a certain combination of luck and skill to kill one. Rose had tried to kill Jake, turns out her destiny did involve dragon slaying just as the Huntsclan believed that the birthmark foretold. She had waited for Jake to let his guard down, and in the end picked the Huntsclan over the Jake. 'She said she loved him, liar!'
"Hey Spud," Trixie had turned around staring at Spud in the back seat, "Whatcha thinking about?"
Before Spud had time to answer they arrived at Haley's school. She hopped into the back seat nearly clobbering Spud with her cast in the process.
Haley was still a little short for her age, but her energy and enthusiasm for everything certainly made up for it. Worst of all, at least for Spud, Haley appeared to have a growing crush on him. What frustrated Spud the most though, was that Jake didn't object to it. Thankfully Haley talked nonstop on the way back to her home so Spud easily tuned her out.
"Man, why do you have to encourage your sister like that?" Spud was sitting on the edge of Jake's bed, and Jake was stretched out over the rest of it.
"No clue what you're talking about," Jake smiled, feigning innocence. "Anyway," he said, dropping the act, "She likes you, and..." Jake paused trying to be tactful. Tact was a new goal of his since soda was dumped on him last Friday night by a beautiful, but unreachable sophomore. His effort failed, miserably, "Its not like you've actually had a date since high school."
"Well, stop encouraging her, I'm not interested."
"Oh?" Jake leaned forward on the bed, "Then who are you interested in?"
Spud quickly stood up and walked over to the window, his back towards Jake. This was not a conversation he wanted to have right now.
Jake was concerned. After the posts Spud was hiding and the weird behavior, Jake couldn't help but wonder, 'Is this connected? What's going on? Is it Stephanie? No, can't be, he was over her ages ago.' Jake flopped back onto his bed and began sorting through all the girls he knew, 'Could it be Trixie? Oh, no, maybe – no it couldn't be – Rose? Well he already said he wasn't interested in Haley. Maybe he's lying? No way, not to me. Me? No. No. No. Not possible!"
In an attempt to shove that last thought out of his mind, Jake asked, "Is it Trixie? I mean I know you were into her a while ago..."
"No. I don't want to talk about it."
"Oh come on! Why won't you tell me?" Jake's whining caught Trixie's attention as she was returning from the bathroom. She paused outside the door to listen. That very instant, Jake was make up his mind to use the dream bracelet to enter Spud's dreams. Trixie saw the mischievous look upon Jake's face and decided that she ought to interrupt Jake's train of thought before he got himself into trouble.
"Would you just tell me? I promise I won't tell anyone!"
"Hey! Tell what to who and why not?" Trixie said as she stepped through the doorway casting a glance towards Spud. He didn't seem well at all and she suspected it had something to do with the conversation.
Haley, came in behind Trixie and announced, "Mom said you two should stay for dinner and that Jake can take you home after that." She shot a cloyingly sweet grin towards Spud and blushed slightly before running back downstairs. Haley was smarter (and a little more cunning) than most people gave her credit for.
Dinner was bearable for Spud, even though the first thing he wanted to do was get away from Jake. He desperately wanted to be near Jake, but was afraid that he might lose control over himself. Spud was terrified of ruining his friendship with Jake, the person he cared most about in this world. Haley spent most of dinner talking about her day, and keeping her parents busy with questions. Spud didn't say much. Thankfully Haley snagged the seat next to him and Trixie sat across the table from Spud so he didn't have to look at Jake.
The trouble for Spud came after dinner when Jake was driving Trixie and Spud home. (Sometimes driving a car is just so much easier than flying, since it saves on the questions.) Trixie was dropped off first, and Jake invited Spud to join him in the front. Spud had no choice, and had been dreading Trixie's departure since they left Jake's house.
"I'm sorry about earlier. I didn't mean to be a jerk."
"Thanks, I just don't want to talk about it."
"I miss you."
Jake's statement caught Spud by surprise, but he quickly recovered. "Yeah, we never see each other anymore."
"Let's hang out more."
"Okay," Spud tried to stay calm, but the thought of being alone with Jake scared him. "Care if I turn on the radio?" Spud's hand brushed against Jake's who had already reached for the dial. Jake laughed as Spud grinned, feeling somewhat giddy for the rest of the drive back to his dorm.
AN: Guess where the title is from! (Hint: Ramones) Well, thank you to my one and only reviewer, much appreciated! Well, the word count of this story is nearly that of the two previous chapters! This means I think I know where I'm taking the story! (Yay for plots!)
Chapter 4: Desired Embrace
He's my friend, I should feel lucky to have that much. So why do I want more?
- Posted to the online journal of Spud, privacy setting: Friends
Spud did not realize that the previous post had been set to friends, it was only fifteen minutes later when he logged back on did he realize his mistake. By the time he set it to private, Trixie had left her third comment, "Spud, what's up? Pick up your phone already."
Spud stared at the computer screen in utter horror. He was so careful, always double-checking, he never let his secret out before. Why now? His cell phone vibrated again. He hadn't felt like talking earlier so he had ignored Trixie's previous calls. The vibration of the cell phone upon his desk made a loud jack-hammer like sound. Little did Spud know, Trixie was standing outside his door listening for this very sound. "Spud! I know you're in there! Open up!"
Spud didn't make a move – he pondered jumping out the window to flee the scene but his dreams of escape were crushed when he realized that Jake would be out there waiting for him.
His thoughts were interrupted by Trixie's frantic pounding on his dorm room door. "Spud! Let me in – let me in or I'm calling Jak-" Tixie paused, the full impact of Spud's former secret sinking fully into her mind. 'The post! That's what it was about!' Trixie stumbled, feeling like the wind had been knocked out of her just as Spud gave in, grudgingly opening the door.
He timidly poked his head out, "Is he here?"
"Come in." Spud quickly ushered Trixie into the room, feeling like an actor in an old noir spy film. Trixie, in her usual habit, jumped up on Spud's bed.
"So – you – Jake – ugh" Trixie paused realizing she had lost all coherent thought. She occasionally had her suspicions about Spud but encountering the truth head-on was turning out to be harder than imagined for Trixie. Confronting the reality of the situation in such a bizarre roundabout manner left her stunned.
"I don't suppose there is any conceivable way that I could talk myself out of this."
"No, but I haven't said anything to Jake," Trixie hesitated, not believing what she was about to say, "and I won't say anything unless you want me to," she finished in a shaky voice.
"Want to talk about it? About Jake," Trixie ventured in a far more relaxed tone.
"I guess so," he trailed off, hesitant to speak about something hidden for so long. "I owe you an explanation."
"When did you know?"
"What? When I was hopelessly in love with my best friend? I suppose that sounds cloyingly sappy. It took me a long time to come to terms with how I feel. I denied it for years, I made excuses, pretended it was just a phase. I wondered, and still do now on occasion, if I'm just crazy. I guess the moment he stood up to Rose, or maybe before that. Really though, I think that was the first time where I acknowledged it, no strings attached."
"And," Trixie hesitated yet again, unsure how to phrase her next question.
Spud understood answering the unasked question, "About the whole being attracted to guys thing, I guess I just kind of always knew. Hey, remember Kyle's friend Eric?"
"Yeah Kyle's friend… He was on the baseball team right? What about him – oh, you, him…"
Spud laughed, "Yeah, I dated him for a while in high school but I realized that the only guy I'm interested in is Jake." Spud paused looking around his sparsely decorated dorm room.
Little did either of them know that the topic of their conversation had just landed on the narrow fire escape outside Spud's room. He was about to knock but paused when he heard Spud speaking, "I'd rather be single than be with anyone else."
As Jake leaned towards the window, cupping his now human hands around his face to get a better view, Trixie reached over to Spud pulling him into a tight embrace.
"Boy I knew Stacy was a front!" Trixie and Spud broke out into laughter.
"Was I really that transparent?"
"So are we ever going to tell Jake? I promise I won't say anything, but," at this point Jake flew away seeking the comfort of the sky.
Chapter 5: A Contradiction
Frustrated could not even begin to describe Jake. He knew that dealing in dreams could be a bizarre and heart breaking journey but he was woefully unprepared for this turn of events. He flew into his room collapsing on his bed filled with a mixture of mourning and self-disgust.
Normally Haley would stay far away from her mercurial brother during these spells, but as she walked past his partially open door guilt filled her heart. Turning back, she sacrificed her jovial mood to comfort her brother. It had been a long time since Jake was like this. Rose's betrayal had hurt Jake, but in a far different way. This brand of moping was unique to a certain situation: the rejection of a crush.
Haley cautiously made her way to Jake's huddled form. This was far worse than she thought originally. She ignored Jake's pleading for her to leave and persisted on past his faked anger. He said, "You won't understand," only to be met with, "Try me! Just explain it and I might understand." He caved without much fuss after that. Considering his current emotional state, he put up a surprisingly adept fight.
Haley turned to close the door then curled up on the bed next to her brother laying her hand on his clenched fist. This was natural to them and even though they still spent so much time bickering, they did look out for each other. She waited calmly for him to speak.
"My two best friends are going out. I should be happy but I'm miserable."
Haley had never sensed any real chemistry between Jake and Trixie so she immediately ruled that out as a possibility. In addition, on thinking about the topic of Spud and Trixie, she was unsure about Jake's information. More importantly she knew that Trixie had never seriously been interested in Spud or Jake causing Haley to think these developments unlikely. Haley recently, had decided to enact her own experiment, to see if Spud was interested in the opposite sex at all. She was beginning to suspect he wasn't.
"To be honest," she paused, hoping she was correct in her assessment, "I don't think that Spud is interested in Trixie. I think he'd be more likely, to well, like you."
At this bold statement, Jake's head snapped up, giving Haley quite the shock. She had occasionally entertained suspicions about her brother, but never had she thought that he might not be girl-crazy.
Haley quickly recovered, "You don't have to hide it from me. You like Spud don't you?"
A look of panic crossed his tear stained face only to be followed by a sigh of resignation. "How did you know?"
"I could just kind of tell," she replied, not willing to let her brother know that she had just uncovered his secret only minutes before. "Try not to be so upset about it, 'cause it isn't the end of the world and who knows, things might get better. How did you get this information about Trixie and Spud anyway?"
"I uh-" they were interrupted by a commanding voice from downstairs. Haley left to go set the table for dinner even though it was Jake's turn. Jake went to wash off his face desperately hoping that his parents would not notice that he had been crying.
As family sat down to dinner, Jake's dad began talking about his day. It was their normal family ritual. Haley would always pretend to be interested then go off about her day. Jake would usually respond to questions in one sentence or less so it was easy for him to ignore the chatter during dinner. After dinner was over and the table cleared, they went into the living room to spend some time together as a family. Increasingly, Jake's mother had been insisting on this, realizing that her children were almost grown up. Jake's dad turned on the TV as Haley pulled out a board game. Jake was about to make up an excuse to exit the room when news came on.
As a report about the Gay Mardi Gras event in Sydney concluded, Jake's father turned off the TV in disgust. "What is this world coming to? Now they're getting married and having parades! Its just not normal!"
Jake already being in a fragile emotional state, nearly lost control of his emotions. Haley, noticing her brother's mood stepped in, "Just because you think it isn't normal doesn't mean its wrong!"
Jake unable to bear the situation any longer just said, "Shut up Haley, Dad is right, I'm going to bed." He quickly left the room, ignoring Haley's protests. Walking up the stairs Jake couldn't help wondering if something really was wrong with him.
Chapter 6: Snap To It!
Once again Jake found himself in his room moping. He knew that no one would understand. How could they? Jake let himself collapse back onto his bed. He stayed like that until he heard a loud snap followed by the appearance of a stout little man at the edge of his bed. Jake groaned with dread; he did not want to deal with dragon business while feeling like this. He was about to direct the creature to Haley but was interrupted by the nearly three foot tall man.
"Hello Jake, sorry for the intrusion but I think I can help you."
"Umm sure, its okay, who are you?"
"My name is Tai Kokin san. Let us get down to business. A family locket was recently stolen from me. I can assist you in obtaining the person you desire if you retrieve this locket for me."
Although Jake did not trust this man, he found himself intrigued by the offer. Noticing Jake's reluctance, the creature repeated his offer, "I shall give you what you desire most, if you return the favor."
A simple trade it seemed, but was there a catch? There must be, Jake assumed, there always is one in these sorts of deals. At this point Jake was nearly beyond caring about the consequences. The only catch it seemed, would be revealing his secret to all. He agreed, flying out this window, as per the man's instructions, to go steal the locket.
Somehow, the thought of stealing did not upset him. Picking up the heavily guarded and warded locket in one of his claws, Jake experienced his only moment of true hesitation. After escaping the chamber undetected, he brushed his reluctance aside, returning to his room where Tai Kokin was waiting.
Jake leaned over to hand the locket to Tai Kokin after being assured the conditions of the agreement would be kept. Tai Kokin opened the locket. A small midnight blue pearl fell out into the man's waiting palm.
Jake was shocked, realizing that this deal was suddenly going south he said, "You lied to me! You said that this locket was a family heirloom. You didn't say anything about that-"
"This locket is a family heirloom, just not mine. It contains the power of my family, taken away centuries ago for dark magic," Tai Kokin paused to swallow the pearl.
Tai Kokin then looked up, eyes aglow as his bony fingers began snapping to an unheard beat. With each movement the creature gained power. The ritualized movements continued. Jake watched unable to avert his eyes. His mind grew befogged as he attempted to make his way towards the creature. Wading through air thick as water, the world grew dim.
The creature, overjoyed to have its power back, reverted to its true form. With the wave of a hand he placed the human into its bed and began to work his magic. Figuring that this situation would only call for him to expend a minimal amount of energy, the creature set to work.
After finishing the first part of his agreement, the creature flew off to modify the memories of Jake's love.
Chapter 7: Staring at the Sun
Author's Note: I know it has been forever since I updated. See my profile for more info. That being said, it has been a while since I've written fiction, so please be gentle. Be warned, there is some intentional OOC-ness in this chapter. There's an explanation so don't freak, it is all part of the story.
Jake awoke to a dim room. Trying to sit up he fell, dizzy and disoriented. He reached over to turn on the light only to knock over an old half-empty can. The second attempt resulted in the destruction of a picture frame. And while considering a third attempt, Haley walked into the room to investigate the early morning racket.
"Jake, it is five in the morning, what is going on? Seriously, you're a mess!"
Jake looked towards the screeching of his sister, vision still blurry. "Morning."
"Morning? Morning starts when the sun is actually up! And that's coming from a morning person!"
"Ugh, Haley, go away." Haley picked up another discarded can and threw it at him before storming out of the room. As much as Haley cared for her brother, she found herself too frustrated and let down to really care anymore.
Jake half-fell half-crawled out of bed. He knew something was off, something was wrong, but the feeling was pushed aside a strong bout of nausea. After emptying his mostly liquid filled stomach, Jake swore off alcohol. In this world, he swore it off every morning.
Spud woke up next to the half naked body of his girlfriend. Things had been rough between them lately, but the night before had been a welcome reprieve from their nearly constant arguing. Amanda rolled over, wrapping her arms around his chest. Spud sighed knowing what this would lead to. He wasn't in the mood. Honestly he wasn't in the mood at all lately. He only tolerated being with her last night because it was a welcome break from the fighting.
"Fine, if you don't want to, we don't have to, honey." To anyone else this would sound like the supportive remark of a partner, but Spud, having been through this conversation many times in the past month knew that he had already lost.
"This isn't working." It was something they both knew. "You belong with Nigel."
"No, Spud, I love you!" Even while saying it, she knew it wasn't true. "Let's just get through today. Okay? We have to be there in less than an hour. Let's just talk about this later."
"Fine." Spud wondered if they would actually end up talking later. He guessed to odds were upwards five to one in favor of not talking.
Trixie pulled Jake up off the bathroom floor. "Come on, let's get you cleaned up."
"I feel awful. Did I catch the flu or something?" Jake knew that something was off, but he couldn't figure out what.
"Yeah sure Jake," remembering what the counselor told her, she dropped the sarcasm, "Jake, you know you don't have the flu. Now get dressed, everyone'll be over here soon."
Jake dressed in the cleanest clothes he could find. They were wrinkled and musty, but at least they didn't smell like vomit. He drank the coffee, his mind slowly clearing.
'What is going on? How did I get like this?'
Trixie watched with concern. She could see the wheels turning in his head, and wondered again if this was a good idea.
Trixie walked Jake downstairs to the family room where Spud, Haley, Jake's parents, Lao Shi, and another person Jake didn't recognize were waiting.
"Jake, this is an intervention." The counselor leaned forward in her chair. "Everyone in the room had been effected by your actions. We care about you, and want to help you."
All at once, it dawned on Jake. That bizarre creature, the change in the timeline, the alternate reality he suddenly found himself in.'No wonder everything is so messed up,' Jake thought with relief, 'now if I can get them to understand that this isn't me then everything will be okay!'
"Wait! You guys have to understand! This isn't me! I didn't do this! There was this crazy short dude that wanted me to steal a locket and then he tricked me! He tricked me!"
Realizing the disbelief evident in those around him, Jake sighed and fell back into his chair. 'This isn't going to go well.'
"Jake, it is time to stop making excuses. We've let you get away with it for too long." The disappointment of Jake's father was evident.
"No! I'm not lying! There was this creepy guy – what was his name? - Thai Coke something? And he changed everything!" Jake was about to continue when a glance from his grandfather suggested he do otherwise.
For the rest of the meeting Jake was rather subdued. While leaving Amanda said, "I think we really got through to him this time." Trixie and Spud looked at her with incredulity. As Spud went to follow Trixie, Amanda asked, "Where do you think you're going? We're supposed to have a 'talk' remember?" Spud sighed, spinning around to follow his girlfriend, while Trixie looked on, embarrassed for her friend.
"Jake, do not lie to me. I am tired of your lies. If this is true, then you must tell me everything." Lao Shi sat down, his arthritis slowing his movements.
"Okay, so I was really upset. And then this guy just appeared in my room."
With a grimace Lao Shi clarified, "Upset about what?"
"I don't want to talk about it."
"What don't you understand about telling us everything," Haley said walking into the room.
"There is someone that I love, that doesn't love me back and who started dating one of my friends. I was feeling sorry for myself, it was pathetic, okay," before anyone could ask who, Jake continued, "He had this locket that he wanted me to steal – erm, I mean return to him. He said he would help me or something."
"And what was his name? What did he look like?" Haley's curiosity got past her frustration wit her brother.
"Ummm... short, like three feet tall. And his head was shiny but the rest of his body covered in hair. Like a poster child for male baldness." Seeing the annoyance setting in once again, he tried to think of the name, "His name was something like Thai Coke In Sand. Or something like- Tai Kokin san! That's what it was!"
Immediate alarm stuck Lao Shi's face. "Did you give him the Orb of Chablisha?"
"What? Wait, was it a tiny blue thing? Isn't that too small to be an orb?"
"I'll take that as a yes," Haley growled in frustration.
"The Orb is one of the most powerful dark magic objects ever created. If you are telling the truth, then this may lead to the end of all that we know."
"Is there any way to stop this Tai Kokin guy?"
"I hope so. Haley, will you start doing some research?"
At this, Haley perked up and replied, "Sure!"
"Umm, I guess I'll go on patrol then and-"
Jake found himself interrupted by a surround sound of "No!"
Seeing Jake's confusion, Lao Shi added, "That isn't the best idea right now, perhaps you should help with the research. And stay out of dragon form for a while."
"You aren't exactly the most popular guy around here anymore," Haley said, handing him a dusty tome on ancient magical weapons.
Chapter 8: Bullets Without A Gun
Story Note: This is the last chapter of the 'old version' that was on ff.net, next chapters will be the new part.
Author's Note: This whole story is going in a slightly different direction than I intended when I first started it ... but I think it has a bit more potential.
Haley found some useful information on the orb, but soon hit a number of dead ends. Jake, noticing Haley's frustration and the late hour, pulled her away from the books. In a way he found this encouraging, knowing that this Haley at the core, was still the Haley he knew.
They arrived home at about midnight, and immediately set about making a snack. At hearing someone arrive, Jake's father went downstairs.
"Where have you been? And Haley, were you with him?" The tone of his voice was harsh and accusatory. It was a shock to Jake to hear his father speaking like this to him and about him.
"Dad, we were just, umm, doing some studying!"
"At this hour?"
"Just ask Grandpa! We were over there the whole time!" Haley crossed her arms defiantly, making Jake wonder what changed her.
With a sigh their father gave up and retreated back to his bedroom, but not before adding, "I thought you were done defending him, Haley."
Jake and Haley finished making the sandwiches in an uncomfortable silence. Once seated Haley tried to apologize, "Jake, I'm sorry, I'm so sor-"
"Haley, it's okay, I understand. From what it sounds like, I've been horrible."
"I didn't even believe you at first, I thought it was another one of your stories. Just another attempt to shift the blame away from yourself."
"I don't understand what happened to me in this bizarro-world. It's kind of scary to be honest. And if you tell anyone I said that-" but Jake found himself interrupted by his sister's laughter before he could finish his half-joking threat.
After the laughter died down Jake continued, "When did this start? How did I get like this?"
"I'm not exactly sure, but I have a few ideas so hear me out. You started getting depressed about a year ago, y'know around the time when Spud started dating Amanda."
"Actually, I don't know, I don't remember any of it. Just like when no one remembered Rose!"
"Aw, not this too!"
"It must be weird for you, having to think so much about your behavior and how it affects others." Jake tried not to take offense to the comment, but he knew it was true, and it stung.
"Yeah, although it seems like Spud is happier in this world," Jake mumbled through a mouthful of sandwich.
"First of all, eww gross, chew with you mouth closed. And second, are you sure he's so happy? He just went to the intervention for his best friend today, which honestly turned out like the other one, with you just nodding yes and tuning us out, and nothing actually really coming from it so we can't call it an intervention anyway. Also he's spent the last month or so arguing with his girlfriend, who for some bizarre reason is still dating him..."
"Oh, I didn't know okay, so get off my case. It just seemed like he was happy." Jake stood up, preparing to leave.
"Wait, just answer one question for me. How do you feel about Spud?"
"What? I already told-" Jake stopped abruptly, "Oh, you don't know..."
"Don't know what?"
"Well, yeah, I guess I do like Spud. But I want him to be happy, and I know he's not interested in me, he's straight."
Haley paused at hearing her suspicions confirmed. In the past year as she watched the deterioration of her brother, every explanation she tried to find lead back to Spud.
"Jake, you're so pessimistic. You have this black and white view of the world, and it always ends up leaning towards the doom and gloom end of things. I remember when you were so optimistic, well, to the point of insanity really. You thought you could do anything! This isn't the end of the world, we won't let it be! Jake, it'll be okay we'll figure this whole thing out."
"Thanks Haley, you're a really good sister ya know? Good night." Jake set his dish in the sink and went to bed.
Haley remained sitting at the table. "No Jake, in this world I failed you. I gave up on you." As she started to clean up the kitchen, a thought occurred to her, 'Maybe if I stop this guy and return everything to normal – but no, nothing can make up for what I did – still, stopping Tai Kokin might help.' With that thought Haley finished cleaning and sat down again at the table to go through some of the books she brought home with her.
Chapter 9: "The Take Over, The Breaks Over"
Jake awoke to horrible smell, 'I really hope my room doesn't smell like this after everything gets back to normal. A tent in the backyard might be better.' Looking through the clothes on his floor he decided to find something reasonable to wear. Sadly, that involved buying new clothes or doing laundry. He pulled on a pair of sweats that looked almost passable even if they didn't smell like it and made his way to the washing machine.
Dirty work begun, Jake stopped in the kitchen to grab breakfast, finding Haley sound asleep at the table, drool dribbling out of the corner of her mouth onto a book probably ten times older than her. Jake stood there debating about waking her up, with his decision leaning towards letting her sleep until he could put his clothes in the dryer.
Walking into the living room he couldn't help but think how surreal this whole situation had become. 'Everything seems so similar, but different somehow. Like I'm in an alternate universe from sliders or something.' With the sci-fi TV reference Jake felt a stab of guilt reminding him that Spud in this world was so different. 'Maybe Haley is right, maybe he is just better at faking happy here.' Sadly, he didn't have the memories of this universe's Jake to help him test they hypothesis. 'Spud... I wonder if there's a universe where he is interested in me...'
Needing to distract himself from that runaway train of thought Jake grabbed the newspaper from where his father had left it on the coffee table, wondering if there were any other major changes in this reality – or whatever you want to call it. Looking at the front page he immediately sees a picture of … himself, in dragon form! Remembering what Haley said last night, he reads the title: Manhunt Continues: The police continue their search for the thief masquerading as a dragon!
Jake set the paper down in shock, realizing he probably shouldn't turn on the TV either. 'I have to fix this!'
Half an hour later, with his stomach growling and laundry ready to be transferred to the dryer Jake decided that it was time to wake up Haley.
“Huh? What? Oh hi Jake, what time is it?”
“A little after nine.”
“Ouch, we should get going soon! We're supposed to be at Grandpa's by ten!” She wrinkled her nose smelling Jake's clothing. “Do you maybe have something that smells less?”
“Yeah, I just finished washing a load of clothes. Help me dry them?”
“Sure!” Haley jumped up to help, taking dragon form.
Again, Haley realized that in some intrinsic way, the young man standing cheerfully before her was not the brother she knew. He was still the same person, but the course of events made him completely different. This time, instead of making her feel guilty, it gave her hope.
“We have a plan?”
“Sort of, see we have this box that blocks out magic just for situations like this.”
“And this helps us how?”
“Because inside that box he has a book of beings that could do this and how to beat them.”
“Wait – what?”
“Well the box blocks out magical changes to reality, so in case some sort of major life-altering shift to the universe takes place, we might have some way to fight it.”
“Why didn't he tell us about this last night?”
“He didn't tell you about it because he wasn't sure if you were telling the whole truth, but I think you are so we need to get over there to take a look in the box. Hopefully, there will be some way to reverse the changes.”
Once again Jake found himself surprised at his sister's actions. 'In one reality or the other she was still quite devious – or cunning. I guess its a matter of perspective.' He was just happy she believed him at this point.
They arrived just before ten, Jake startling Fu Dog by looking oddly bright-eyed and cheerful. Fu Dog had been informed by Lao Shi about Jake's claims. Both were still somewhat skeptical, especially since this wasn't the first time that Jake attempted to blame magic or someone else for the current situation and his own behavior.
“Where's the box?”
Grandpa glanced at Haley disapprovingly, “You told him?”
“I had to, he's telling the truth, I know it!”
“Fine, since he knows about it lets -”
“Here it is.” Fu Dog walked into the room upright, using his front two paws to hold a medium sized wooden box.
“Help me set the wards Haley.” Fu Dog began preparations to block magic from entering the room and changing the contents of the box to match the current universe.
Magic protection completed, the group crowded around the box as Lao Shi opened it. Inside the box Jake could see a small leather-bound journal along with an older looking softcover book.
Lao Shi removed the journal and scanned the most recent entry with Fu Dog and Haley looking over his shoulder.
“So, does it prove that I'm right?” Jake looked at them suddenly doubting himself.
“Answer a question for me, last night you said you loved someone, who?”
Jake paused, not sure about the relevancy of the question.
“Jake, you know how important this is, you need to be honest,” Haley looked at him with pleading eyes.
“Why do you need to know?” Jake backed away from the group, adding terrified and bewildered to that growing list of negative emotions. “Will this prove that I'm right?”
“There is something written in here that I need to confirm.” Lao Shi stood firm on the issue. “Who are you in love with?”
It came out as barely a whisper,
Fu with his canine hearing was the only one who didn't have to strain to hear and he confirmed it for Lao Shi, “Spud?”
“So now do you believe me?” Jake was shaking, closer to crying than he wanted to admit.
The look on his grandfather's face softened, “Yes. We'll need to leave the wards up, we need to make a plan.”
As Haley and Fu went over their research on the Orb of Chablisha, Lao Shi pulled Jake aside.
“I don't know how I knew, but I knew. What is interesting though, is that your memories do not seem to be modified.”
“Well remember after the incident with that memory changing creature – what was it? The shigarami or something – you gave me this,” Jake gestured towards a charm on his ankle bracelet. It was small and inconspicuous, but Lao Shi recognized it instantly.
“I … I gave you that?”
Jake knew the whole story, but didn't want to upset his grandfather further, so he pretended not to know. Although, he knew that it was likely that Lao Shi would look up the details of his friend's death in the journal later. “Yeah, for my birthday last year. You said it had belonged to someone very important to you.”
“It did,” Lao Shi replied, hesitancy in his words.
“I'm sorry Grandpa, sorry for everything.”
Lao Shi appeared to collect himself, “Yes, we must set this world right, back to the way it should be. Let's get to work.” With that, the group began to work in earnest on a plan.
Chapter 10: Black of the Night
AN: Okay, I think ff.net is holding my password reset email as a hostage until I write another chapter. This will likely be posted on archive of our own before ff.net. Yet another reason to love this place. So, here goes:
Tai Kokin san grinned as he watched the villagers burn. 'What's the point in being an evil bastard' he thought 'if you can't go back to your roots through a massive killing spree every now and then?' He snapped his spindly fingers and the purple flames disappeared leaving his victims shocked to be alive. He sent one of his new minions down to make the whole Worship-or-Die speech. 'This is honestly beginning to get boring, or at least tedious. Maybe I should find a dragon to play with', he grinned evilly as he thought about taking a short trip to New York to check on his young dragon friend.
It was late afternoon as Jake filled Trixie in on the plan. All they had to do was use magic to draw the Orb away from him. It was only mildly insane, at least by Jake's standards. Trixie, on the other hand, wanted to ensure that there was some sort of backup plan. Spud was usually a great problem solver, at least he had been before everything got weird. She had tried calling Spud numerous times but it appeared he was ignoring his phone.
Haley decided to take matters into her own hands sending Spud a text message. What she didn't realize at the time is that they were playing right into the enemy's hands.
Trixie and Jake looked at Haley with incredulity, “So we're going to use this – what is it again?”
“- Arbitt's Dust,” Haley repeated the name for the third time, trying to ignore her growing frustration.
“- to attack him, drawing the improperly bonded Orb of Chablisha out of his body, taking away his powers, and returning everything back to normal?”
“Hopefully, but we're not entirely sure if things will revert once he loses his powers. If that doesn't happen then one of us will have to use the Orb to change the reality. Being that you're the only one with the knowledge Jake, that has to be you.” Haley said the last part with greater emphasis this time, hoping her brother would understand her warning and not do anything too risky. Especially with him being public enemy number one right now.
“Okay, so we have a plan, but how do we find this guy?” Trixie still held out hope that they could avoid a huge battle. Everyone had small pouches filled with the glittery white powder that was Arbitt's Dust, they only needed to get close enough to use it.
Tai Kokin looked out the window of the high rise, mostly hidden from view by the glare of the setting sun. He took aim at a bus going down the busy street, lifting it equal to his height. He looked at the faces of his victims, grinning for ear to ear. 'Where is that dragon', he wondered shaking his head. 'Maybe its time to go for the direct approach.' He released his magical hold on the bus, letting it fall, pausing to enjoy the terrified screams of his victims.
Before the bus can crash into the pavement, two dragons suddenly appear, straining against the weight of the bus.
“Two, how can there be two?” Tai Kokin didn't realize he spoke aloud as both dragons turned to face him after setting the bus roughly, but safely onto the pavement below. Superior hearing and its advantages when in dragon form.
Tai Kokin lept from the window to float in mid air above the dragons. They flew to meet him. Haley flew above him, releasing the bag of powder over his head. Suddenly the evil being disappeared and struck her from above! “Now that wasn't Arbitt's Dust, was it?” Tai Kokin laughed evilly watching the young dragon unable to keep flying as she lost conciousness.
Trixie looked up from the pavement, 'Not good, not good guys, I can't help you if you're up there!'
Spud ran up, out of breath. “Trixie, what's going on? I just got your messages – Jake's allowed to do the dragon thing again?!?”
Trixie turned to Spud, “No time to explain! Here, take this,” she handed him her extra bag of powder. “If you get a chance, throw it on that guy!” She pointed towards the sky, knowing their intended target would be obvious.
As they looked up they saw Haley falling from the sky, wing at an odd angle. Jake cried out her name as he dove to save her.
Tai Kokin took advantage of the distraction and used his powers to draw Spud into the sky.
Spud struggled unable to move and floating an arms length away from the villain. “What do you want?” He managed to croak out before being silenced.
“Hello, dear boy. I'm sure you don't remember me, but I remember you. In fact, lets make this a little more interesting.”
Spud shivered with fear and disgust as he felt the evil the emanated from the hand that touched his forehead. 'I'm going to die,' was the last thought that crossed his mind before his old memories floated back to him.
As Jake set Haley down near Trixie, Tai Kokin whispered, “And now, you can watch the one you love – the one that secretly loves you – die.”
Spud, still unable to move or protest other than to groan “Noooo”, was released from Tai Kokin's magic hold. Lao Shi watched in horror as Spud's lifeless body plummeted towards the ground below.
Jake jumped into the air his thoughts solely on saving Spud from certain death.
Trixie thought, 'I've got to do something!' Haley wasn't responding to her or Fu. She felt helpless in this battle, she was used to being able to do something – anything – to help her friends. Then, she saw a convenience store and got an idea. “Fu stay with her!” She ran into the store and grabbed ice and cold water. 'At this point, it wouldn't hurt to try.' Fu and Trixie poured the water, and then the ice onto Haley, hoping it would wake her. Fu breathed a sigh of relief as Haley moaned, eyes fluttering open.
Looking above Haley sees her brother catching a falling Spud. “He really does love him...” she muttered before truly waking.
Still slightly foggy, Haley realized what she had to do. “Trixie! Give me your Arbitt's Dust, I've used mine!” Trixie handed it over without question. Knowing she couldn't fly well with an injured wing she used the cover of a high rise to half-fly, half-climb up the building, remaining hidden from the battle. Once in place – she leapt from the building.
Tai Kokin watched as Jake held Spud in his arms. 'Oh this is just too perfect,' he thought gliding down from the sky as he watched Spud brush his fingers across Jake's now human cheek seemingly in shock. As Tai Kokin made his move to attack them, Haley fell towards him from behind tackling him midair. Taking him down to the ground she used one free claw to tear the pouch open and release the Arbitt's Dust.
Knocked away from her opponent as they hit the ground, Haley watched as he grew brighter and brighter, until the night appeared like day and she was forced to cover her eyes. She could only hope that in this other reality her brother could find happiness – hopefully with Spud.
Chapter 11: Aftermath: Red Morning Light
Non-beta'd like the rest of this story, and posted really late so there are bound to be errors – but, in one day I've written nearly 5000 words and finished a story I've been avoiding for nearly three years. I felt like I deserved to post it. Just decided to end it here. Who knows maybe there'll be a ficlet epilogue one day if anyone requests it in via the review/comment section. And now, the long awaited (or forgotten about =) conclusion
As the light faded Trixie woke first, it was still night and everyone still seemed to be unconscious. Fu was closest so she shook him awake. His yelp of surprise awakened Haley who had landed not too far away. Immediately Haley checked on her grandfather who had rushed over in attempt to protect her from the Orb's blast.
“We need to disappear,” Trixie said, “fast.”
Jake was still holding Spud and both appeared unconscious. Just as Haley began to wonder if she'd have to carry her brother, he began to wake. Lao Shi wrapped a comforting arm around him, pulling him in for a hug.
“I'm serious ya'll, we need to get moving, like yesterday.” Trixie called over, noticing that other people were beginning to wake up.
Jake stood but wobbled and had to be supported by his grandfather. Haley limped over to Spud and used her dragon strength to carry him home. Hopefully, any witnesses would be too dazed to be considered reliable..
“Everyone that has possessed the Orb of Chablisha for any significant period of time has gone mad,” Lao Shi began once they reached the relative safety of the store. Most of the gang appeared to be in shock. Taking the Orb from Jake's hands, Lao Shi places it in a small pouch retrieved by Fu. The two then proceed to store the Orb in the magic resistant box.
Haley (still in dragon form) sets Spud down gently. Jake had been pretty non-functional since they woke up, but at this point they were all a bit more worried about Spud who had yet to regain consciousness.
Lao Shi pulls Jake aside, along with the journal. “We need to make sure that this reality is the correct one.”
Fu joins them, “Hey, Jake, are you with us.”
Jake nods, clearly exhausted but coming out of shock.
As the trio sets about determining the accuracy of their reality, Haley runs out to buy a paper, just to make sure. She quickly returns and Jake confirms that this is not the headline he saw earlier.
Trixie looked at Jake and Haley. “Go home, both of you. I'll stay with Spud.”
Both begin to protest but are quickly shut down by a stern look from their grandfather. This issue was clearly not up for debate.
On the way back Jake and Haley say little. They walk instead of fly, since in this universe, her arm is still broken. When they arrive, Jake begins an interrogation of his sister, baffled by her behavior. “If you thought that we were interested in each other … why were you hitting on Spud?!?”
She laughed at her brother's bewilderment, “I wasn't sure, I just wanted to get more information. Not like you were actually going to tell me or anything. Anyway, you guys weren't hanging out at all, so what was I supposed to do?” Haley's mood sobered, as she tried to let go of the residual memories from her other self. She promised herself that she would never let down Jake again, but she refused to drown in guilt anymore.
Jake noticed the change in his sister's mood and pulled her in for a hug. “Stop blaming yourself. You're the reason we're all still here, don't you dare forget that.”
“So what about you and Spud,” Haley asked trying to change the subject.
“I honestly don't know now. The way he looked at me, I kind of wondered if you might be right. I guess we'll see when he wakes up. Trixie was pretty eager to chase me out of there though, but as long as he's happy with her...”
“Do you love him? If you love him you should fight for him. I think you have the whole thing between them wrong,”
“Fine, I love him, but I want him to be happy!”
“What makes you think that Spud wouldn't be happy in a relationship with you?”
Jake's father walked into the kitchen. He had obviously heard that last question and appeared quite puzzled.
Haley turned to look at her father, who seemed oblivious to the whole situation. “Hey Dad!” Haley paused after that, she truly didn't know what to say, and for the first time in a long time, she found herself speechless.
Jake loved his dad, but if he had to choose, well, it wouldn't be a choice. 'Not that there was a choice even open to him,' he thought bitterly.
Jake's dad turned around and walked out of the kitchen without saying anything.
Spud woke up with a start. “Jake!” He called out, his mind still in the last moments of the battle.
Trixie leaned over so he could see her, “Its over Spud, everyone is safe. Jake is safe.”
In hearing those words the tension drained from Spud's body, and he drifted off to sleep.
Trixie turned and smiled as Fu ran into the room on all paws. “He woke up briefly, but just feel back to sleep,” she whispered as he got close enough. Fu looked for himself, using some sort of magical device to examine the sleeping figure.
“Good, he is just sleeping now, he needs it after having his brain traumatized like that.”
“What do you mean?”
“My guess is that Tai Kokin attempted to change Jake's memories and thinking he was successful went on to do the same to Spud. When he encountered Spud, he used the opportunity to reveal the old memories to the new Spud. Sick bastard, probably enjoyed the pain it caused Spud.”
Trixie was shocked by Fu's revelation. “Poor kid.”
Spud woke again not long after sunrise. This time he was calmer. When Tai Kokin touched his mind with his poorly wielded power – they had been quite lucky that this guy was a little stupid and a lot of insane – he let some of Jake's memories slip through. While Spud was certain that Jake's memories had remained unaltered, he knew that Tai Kokin had viewed them.
Trixie yawned in her chair, looking over at a now alert Spud. “Hey man, how ya doin'?”
“Better. I need to see Jake.”
“What's going on? Something wrong?” Trixie asked as Spud rushed out of the shop.
“What the hell, better go too,” Trixie realized aloud as she dashed out the door to follow him.
Hearing this, Fu went to find Lao Shi, thinking 'The old man will definitely want to be there for this'. The only downside Fu could see was that he was about to lose a $100 bet with Lao Shi.
Jake sat in the living room explaining the situation to his mom. His dad was still nowhere to be found, and his mom needed to know about the fight, along with everything else that had happened. As he finished explaining Spud ran into the room.
“Spud!” Jake leapt off the couch to embrace his friend, happy to see him awake and relatively undamaged.
Haley grinned from her 'hiding' place in the kitchen where her mother quickly joined her, knowing it would be best to leave the two boys alone.
“We need to talk, umm, sorry, I got some of your memories.”
“What kind of memories?” Jake silently prayed to any being had the power that these weren't those memories. He then proceeded to mentally slap himself for being so stupid, 'Spud is safe, that's all that matters. So what if he has a few embarrassing memories of you or – oh no, if he knows.'
“Hey! Earth to Jake, you there?”
“Uh, yeah, sorry, what memories.” Jake blushed, embarrassed even further by the fact that he was blushing. 'Oh my god, way to be lame Jake.'
Spud laughed at his best friend and decided to put him out of his misery. 'I really hope these memories aren't a plant or trick or – to hell with it,' Spud thought as he leaned in to kiss Jake.
Jake realized that he was being kissed by Spud a few seconds too late. Spud pulled away trying not to look worried. Jake realized his mistake and pulled them closer together returning the kiss. It was exhilarating, Spud moaned as he leaned into the kiss. 'Seriously, best first kiss ever.'
Minutes past, but they felt like seconds. They were distracted by a sudden flash. Coming up for air, they found themselves the subject of Haley's giggling and his mother's photography.
Trixie who had smartly entered through the back, avoiding the living room, had a hand over Haley's mouth trying to get her to quiet down.
Jake looked at his mom, worry clearly evident in his eyes. She smiled at him, appearing happy for her son, while attempting to hide the camera behind her back. This was an important moment in Jake's life, but she was worried about her husband's reaction.
Spud pulled Jake in for another kiss. 'If I'm hallucinating then I really ought to take advantage of the moment,' he thought while grinning inwardly, as his lips were otherwise occupied.
Jake's father picked this inopportune moment to return. He looked at his son, clearly still confused, and left the room. Jake's mother soon followed, hoping to change her husband's mind.
“He'll come around Jake, he just needs time, you know dad,” Haley said in an attempt to comfort Jake. Knowing her words weren't working she needed some way to distract him. Well, Spud started doing a pretty good job of that, especially now that the guys' attention had returned to one another...
As Fu and Lao Shi entered the home, Haley's stomach took the opportunity to make itself known with a loud rumble. “Come on guys, lets make breakfast.” Fu immediately went to join them in the kitchen
Trixie looked at Jake, deciding to help Haley and lighten the mood a bit. “Yeah, maybe it'll stop them from making out.”
The two girls looked at each other, knowing the full potential of teasing the guys had just opened themselves up to. 'All in good friendly fun, of course,' Haley thought with a downright sadistic grin.
Jonathan Long stepped outside, hoping that it would be more successful at clearing his mind than the his first attempt. 'First I find out that my kids are dragons and then this... I just don't know what to think.' He shook his head attempting to clear his addled brain. There were just too many thoughts and questions running through it for him to focus through the chaos.
“He may not show it, but Jake needs your approval,” Susan said to her husband, interrupting his silent confusion.
He didn't respond and she looked towards her father for help, not knowing what to do. After the problems she had faced in her family accepting her own marriage, she couldn't bear to see it happen again to one of her own children! Resisting the urge to bash some sense into her husband's head she decided to go back inside.
Lao Shi stood next to Jake's father. He had known that once Jake acknowledged his feelings for his friend things would change within the family. In fact, he was surprised that no one had noticed before then. The boys could sometimes be quite obvious about it, you just had to observe them closely to see.
The tormented father sighed, “I just can't figure it out. It doesn't make sense, Jake has always been girl-crazy. Its just not normal!”
Lao Shi studied the conflicted man next to him. “Normal has never really applied to this family. Do not make the same mistakes I did.” With those words he left the man to brood in relative silence.
Jake's father entered the room just as breakfast was almost finished. He looked at the happy family, friends included, and realized, that they weren't normal, and that – well, that was okay.
Seeing the nervous looks he got from Spud and Jake, he decided to address the issue directly. “As long as you're happy son, then I don't care who you're dating. I never want you to have to deal with what your mom and I went through. I'm sorry Jake.”
And with that, things returned to normal, Jake grinning from ear to ear, clearly relieved. “Its okay Dad,” he said as he went to hug him.
“So is there any food left for your poor old father?”
“Poor? Yeah right,” Haley said, wondering if it would be a good time to negotiate for a higher allowance. 'Guilt is a useful negotiating tactic,' she thought preparing to attack.
“You do realize that in addition to Jake cleaning out our fridge we'll like have Spud over here too?” He asked his daughter, preempting her expected strike. Still, his mind struggled to grasp the budget necessary to feed both boys.