Dragons Don't Cry
The American Dragon stood in the rain, a silent shadow among the stone gargoyles. He gazed with little interest down on New York, his territory. Was being the American Dragon worth it if the girl he loved was the Huntsgirl? He couldn't answer that question honestly. Just the thought of Rose filled Jake with warmth, and yet at the same time unsheathed his claws. He loved Rose, and yet he hated her. The ultimate love-hate relationship.
He cocked his head to one side, hearing movement over the steady pounding of rain. "Ya know, interesting thing about dragon ears," he remarked. "They don't miss much, even in a storm like this." Silence answered him, and he sighed. "I don't bite, okay? I couldn't hurt you now even if I wanted to." The silence stretched, then he heard uncertain footsteps against the rain-soaked stone. Knowing who he would find, Jake braced himself and turned to face her.
The Huntsgirl stood before him, her arms wrapped around herself to stay warm. Her clothes were plastered to her skin from the rain, and her blue eyes seemed larger that way, making her seem smaller and more vulnerable then Jake was used to. "What are you looking at?" she snapped, shivering. "You look just as drowned as I do, dragon boy." Despite himself, a smile tugged at the corners of Jake's mouth. "What brings a lovely young lady like you out on a cold rainy night like this?" he teased.
"Maybe the fact that you saved my life," she retorted. "I want to know why." Jake shrugged. "Besides your good looks? What's not to love?" he asked, smirking.
To his surprise, Huntsgirl looked ready to cry. She looked just as confused as he felt. "No more lying, alright?" her voice shook. "What's the real reason? I don't mean anything to you. All I want is to slay you so I can be a member of the Huntsclan. Why risk your life for me if you hate me?"
"That's not true." The words were out of Jake's mouth before he could stop them. "I don't hate you. I…"
"You what?" To Jake's surprise Huntsgirl took a step forward. Was she willing to accept that he was in love with her, as long as she had her answers? He turned away and sat down, suddenly overwhelmed. He gave a nervous laugh. "Whoa. This… this is harder then I thought it'd be."
"What? What's hard?" Huntsgirl asked. She took another step towards him. He looked up at her, and in her eyes he saw not hatred but compassion, a desperate need to understand what he was going through. He hesitated, then patted the stones next to him. "Sit with me, Huntsgirl. I'll tell you what you want if you listen to a story."
Without hesitation, she walked over and sat next to him, her legs dangling over the edge of the Empire State Building like it was nothing. Jake draped one wing over her slim frame to shield her from the rain, and to his surprise she huddled next to him. Here goes nothing. "You see, there was this boy," he began, "and I guess you could say he was an average kid. He had crazy teachers, an annoying sister, friends… a crush on the prettiest girl in school. But he wasn't normal."
"He was a dragon, wasn't he." It wasn't a question. Jake sighed. "Yeah, he was a dragon, and his arch-enemy was a young ninja. But let's focus on the dragon's crush for a sec. He really liked her, and after a while she began to like him back. Everything in his mind was great." He paused, then added, "But it wasn't."
"He went on a…" he stopped. What the heck, I've got nothing to lose, he thought, then plunged on, "… a ski trip. And he realized that the ninja was one of his classmates. And it wasn't long before he saw her, trying to trap a yeti." He paused, waiting for Huntsgirl's reaction. The gaze she gave him was thoughtful. Would she realize? "Go on."
"The dragon's friends thought his crush was the ninja, but he didn't listen, and ended up getting caught by her. He got free, and they ending up chasing each other on… snowboards. The dragon knocked the ninja off her board, and when she tried to run he pinned her to a tree with icicles. She thought he was gonna kill her by this point."
"What'd he do?"
"Well, instead of unmaskin' her or hurtin' her, he pulled off her glove, and…" Jake stopped for a minute. Reaching over, he took Huntsgirl's right hand in his. She watched him, curious. Did she know what was about to happen? He resumed his story. "He pulled off her glove, and he saw this." Gently, he tugged off Huntsgirl's glove to reveal her dragon birthmark. For a moment she stared at the mark, then up at Jake before pulling her hand out of his grasp. She grabbed her glove and pulled it back on, trembling. "What are you trying to tell me?" she asked shakily.
"I'm tryin' to tell you what you want to know. I… remember the girl that boy liked?"
"Well… the reason I saved you is because… you're that girl. And the boy… the boy that likes you… is me."
She stared at him. Slowly she stood and backed away from him. "Who are you?" she whispered. He stood to face her. "You don't wanna know," he replied. "Trust me. You don't wanna know." He turned and spread his wings, lifting in the air. Gramps and Fu were gonna kill him for this…
"Wait!" To his surprise, Huntsgirl darted forward and grabbed his hand. "Don't go," she pleaded. "Please. I want to understand. I want to know. Who are you?" He looked at her. "You really wanna know?" he asked gently, and she nodded. Sighing, he landed, backing away from the edge of the building. "You won't like it," he warned.
"There are a lot of things I don't like," she retorted, still holding his hand. "I can handle one more." He gazed into her eyes for a long time, and he realized: she meant it. Whether she liked being the Huntsgirl or not, she had accepted it, and would accept who he was. But could she accept the heartbreak? I didn't mean for it to come to this, Jake thought miserably. I didn't want to do this to her. I didn't want to hurt her. But he had no choice.
He squeezed her hand gently before pulling away. "If you're sure," he said reluctantly. He stepped away from her, putting some space between them, before deciding to get it over with. Closing his eyes, he focused on his human form. By now Jake was used to the changes so they went quickly. Sadly, this also meant that Huntsgirl didn't have time to brace herself for what was about to happen.
"Jake?" The sound of her voice—a cross between Huntsgirl and Rose— startled him. He had heard her as either Huntsgirl or Rose, not as both. "You're the American Dragon." She sounded stunned, and when he turned to face her his heart sank. Her eyes were wide, and she was shaking, but not from the rain. "Yeah," he muttered. He didn't try to deny it. There was no point.
"It makes sense now." In her voice Jake heard only shock and grief, not triumph. "All of it makes sense now. Saving my life, your reaction to my birthmark…" she whispered, seemingly unaware of his presence. "I thought… after your friends saved you… as the dragon… it crossed my mind…"
"That I was the American Dragon?" Jake asked. "There were a few times that I got suspicious of you, to. The day after the play, for example, when your ankle was bandaged in the exact same place where Huntsgirl had been shot the night before."
"I didn't want to believe it." Rose peeled off her mask and sat down, leaning slightly against the building for support. "I saw evidence right in front of me, but I couldn't bring myself to think… that you were him…" She looked up, her eyes suddenly blazing, unnaturally bright in the dark rain. "How long?" she asked. "How long have you known?"
"Since the ski trip."
"The avalanche…" Rose's eyes widened as more pieces of the puzzle fell into place. "When you saved me… I thought I heard someone yell my name…"
"That was me… never scare me like that again, got it?"
Rose buried her face in her hands, and Jake watched her for a few minutes before realizing she was crying. He walked over and knelt next to her. "Hey... c'mon, don't cry."
"My parents…" Rose sobbed, not bothering to look at Jake. "They were members of the Huntsclan…"
"I figured it ran in the family…"
"When I was eleven… they went out… to slay a dragon…"
Jake's stomach lurched. He suddenly had the horrible feeling that he knew where this was going. "Not the Dark Dragon," he croaked. "Please don't say it was the Dark Dragon."
"I… I never knew… they never came back… but my uncle…"
"Thought it was him."
"Yes. He told me that dragons were cold, unfeeling creatures… and… God, I'm such an idiot…"
"You were only eleven," Jake reminded her. "And your parents were gone. You didn't know any better."
"I've hated dragons ever since… I was so convinced that they were all like him… the one who killed my parents…"
"The Dark Dragon makes all us dragons look bad," Jake replied angrily. "But we're not. We have homes, families, friends…"
"We love, we laugh, we cry…"
Jake fell silent, not to surprised by the ferocity in her voice. What happened now, he knew, was her call. Only she could decide now what happened between them. "You're all cold, unfeeling creatures," she moaned. "Cold, unfeeling creatures…" but the words sounded hollow, as if Rose was only repeating what she had been taught for two years, as if she no longer believed them. "Do you really believe that?" Jake asked gently. "Or are you just saying what your uncle believes?" She did not respond.
"Rose, look at me."
She kept her head down, not even acknowledging his presence now.
She finally raised her head, her eyes meeting his reluctantly. "Do you believe that?" Jake repeated. "Do you honestly believe that dragons are unfeeling?" A strand of hair fell across her face, damp and dark from the pouring rain, and without thinking about it Jake leaned closer and tucked the strand behind her ear. Her breath caught at his touch. Now their faces were only inches apart. After a moment—or possibly an hour--- or perhaps several days—she said shakily, "No."
Jake's heart leaped, but he had to be sure. "No what?"
"No, I… I don't believe that dragons… are… are cold, unfeeling creatures." Rose's eyes met Jake's. Her voice shook slightly, but she didn't hesitate. "Because you aren't. Because if you were anything like the Dark Dragon, I… I wouldn't feel this way about you."
Jake thought he would pass out; his heart had missed so many beats. And he could see the truth in her eyes. Rose meant every word she was saying. Although she was shaking, although she was cold and wet and looked the image of defeat, she had never seemed more beautiful to Jake. And, without really thinking about it, without really caring that their mentors might be watching them, he kissed her.
He caught her soft gasp of surprise as his lips met hers, and she leaned back. Jake wondered if she was trying to break contact, but she only shifted her body so she was leaning slightly against him, her arms coming up to wrap around his neck, pulling him closer.
Neither of them noticed it had stopped raining.
This is the first story I have ever written... some of you may recognize it, some of you may not. Please read and review! I accept compliments and constructive critisim. Senseless flaming shall be thrown at the Huntsman.
Huntsman: Yeah! ... wait a minute... HEY!