(A/N): Last chapter dudes, and dudettes. I know, break out the Kleenexes. (LOL -) I don't own American Dragon: Jake Long or any of the characters

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Hunts Man and his Clan had been taken into custody of the Dragon Council. The entire Council met and decided to grant Rose a pardon for the crimes she committed while she was with the organization. It seemed Trixie was willing to do the same.

Everyone was lounging in Lao Shi's shop, recounting their favorite parts of the battle and laughing. Rose had finally gotten out of her black fighting suit and now wore a pair of jeans and a light blue tank top. She sat atop the counter, and leaned back against Jake. His arms were wound around her and his cheek was pressed against her temple.

"So Rose," Trixie noticed this with some amusement. "Have a change of heart or something?"

She didn't understand her at first, but then it caught on and she frowned.

"Figured that would come up," Rose muttered and straightened up.

"Trixie…"Jake began, Rose turned and placed a finger over his mouth.

"No, she's right," she said. "You guys have a right to know."

She slid off the counter and stood in front of everyone. She looked at their curious faces and took a settling breath.

"Everything I did prior to my capture was an attempt to run you guys, well namely Jake, off," she began explaining. "I came back to New York, because I missed Jake, but I didn't think things through. Shortly after I got here, I began to realize the danger I would be putting everyone in. It was about a week after I'd came and I really got scared. That's why I ran that night. I knew that my first encounter with Hunts Man was coming and that Jake would get caught in the line of fire trying to protect me."

She remembered how cold and alone she'd felt, sitting atop her old school. She shuddered.

"The next morning I gathered up the courage to come back home, and just as I was arriving, I saw Trixie, Spud and Jake leaving," she began again. "I followed them to the café and saw him on what I thought was a date with some pretty girl. That was, as they say, the straw that broke the camel's back. I knew that it would be better if Jake had found someone more…dependable to grow attached to. So I sort of loafed around a while, trying to get my head straight. When I went back to the apartment, Jake and what's-her-name were there. It was then and there that I knew I didn't belong here and I needed to make my exit."

"So why'd you use the net?" Fu Dog asked.

"To keep Jake from following me," Rose answered. "I knew he'd never let me get past the front door if he knew what I was going to do."

"Okay, explain the thing with the TV," Jake asked, not questioning her, just curious.

"All an act," she said. "It was intended to keep you away and out of harm's way."

She cracked a grin, and said, "Obviously my acting stinks."

They all laughed.

"Lucky for me, though," Rose added seriously. "If Jake hadn't seen right through me, I'd be a trophy on Hunts Man's wall and he'd still be at large."

"One more question," Spud said. "How did it feel to make Hunts Man eat your boot?"

Rose grinned and said, "To inflict pain on the person that had made the majority of my life a living nightmare was the perfect closure. Although, Jake nearly strangling him did wonders for payback."

She winked at Jake and he sheepishly smiled.

"He didn't put up much of a fight, did he?" Fu Dog remarked. "But between a boot in the face and staring face to face with one ticked off dragon, I guess he didn't have a chance."

Rose climbed back on the counter and got back into her comfortable position with Jake, before commenting.

"Speaking of dragons, what was Nerk doing there?" she asked Jake.

"I guess the bait caught a little more than expected," Lao Shi answered for him with a suggestive smirk.

Rose shuddered and moved closer to Jake.

"I think I'll throw that one back," she said and then turned her head to face Jake. "You, on the other hand, I think I'll hang on to for a while."

"A while?" Jake asked, raising an eyebrow.

Rose shrugged and said, "Well, it depends on how long I stay here, which may not be long. Unless, you've got a reason for me to stay…"

She grinned and Jake pulled her closer.

"Oh, I've got a reason," Jake said, turning her around to face him.

He tilted her chin up and gazed into her bright blue eyes, slowly moving closer.

"Hey do you mind?" Fu yelled in disgust.

The couple looked at him and Jake gave him that crooked grin. Rose blushed and blinked in surprise when something large and red blocked her view. Jake had sprouted one of his wings and shielded them from prying eyes. He cupped her face in his hands and smiled at her tenderly. He resumed the kiss, surprising Rose with his gentleness. She leaned closer, wrapping her arms around his neck. Eventually, they broke apart and Jake's dragon wing disappeared.

"Hey, if you're going to do that, take it somewhere else!" Trixie scolded playfully.

Jake shrugged and transformed into a dragon as if it were nothing. He scooped Rose up in his arms, to which she responded with a startled squeak, and made for the back door.

"Whoa!" Rose cried in surprise. "Where are we going?"

"How 'bout a flight around town?" he queried.

"As if I'd say 'no'," Rose scoffed playfully.

Jake grinned and called a quick good-bye over his shoulder, before exiting the shop.

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They were over the Empire State Building when something occurred to Rose.

"So since Hunts Man's out of the picture, what is there to fight?" she asked Jake.

"Believe it or not, there are other bad guys besides the Hunts Clan," Jake said. "Though things will be much easier without them to worry about. The Dark Dragon's next on my 'to do' list."

Rose had heard of him in her travels. He was the only dragon that actually was evil. She'd never seen him, but she'd heard of his power.

"Yeah, he's the nut that wants to rid the world of humans so dragons can be the dominant species," Rose added. "These guys need to see a therapist or something."

Jake laughed in agreement. He flew a while longer before Rose suggested they land for a bit. They were atop one of the many tall buildings that made up New York City's skyline, looking out at the sunset. They sat on the edge of the rooftop, sides slightly touching. Both dragon and girl were thinking hard about the same thing and unsure how to approach it.

"Rose?" Jake said quietly. "Back at the apartment that night, when I said…"

He paused for a moment, half wondering if she'd react the same way as she did before. This time, he decided, she wouldn't get far. He turned to face her and gazed at her with his dark eyes.

"When I said I love you, I meant it." He took her hands in his and looked into her eyes of blue and said brokenly, "I gotta know do you love me too? I know I'm asking a lot of you considering what you've just been through, but I'm dying over here."

That sad longing in his eyes made her heart ache. Whatever doubts she may have had dissolved to nothingness. There was no denying it or how deeply she felt the same. That love ran right to the very marrow of her bones and into her soul. She had lost opportunities to tell him her true feelings before, but this time would be different. She locked her eyes on his and with determination she spoke.

"I love you too," she said. "More than words can express."

Jake's eyes got wide and bright. He let out a whoop of joy and pulled her to him in a tight embrace, spinning both around till dizziness caused them to fall. Rose didn't even get a chance to fear for her life before Jake spread his wings and caught the air in them. He loop de looped, and barrel rolled, laughing the whole time. Normally Rose would have been screaming at Jake to stop, but her heart was light and she was enjoying every minute of it.

"I've never seen him that happy before," Trixie said thoughtfully.

She, Lao Shi, Spud and Fu were watching Jake and Rose from atop the electronics shop.

"Five biscuits says Rose looses her lunch," Fu said. "Any takers?"

Trixie wouldn't admit it if anyone was to ask her, but she was beginning to like Rose. Anyone that could make Jake so deliriously happy was officially okay with her. It felt kind of strange to be thinking of the former Hunts Girl as a possible friend, but they had been wrong about her.

Rose felt free. That was the only word she could think of to describe what she felt flying through the air with Jake. No more Hunts Man hunting her down, no more looking over her shoulder, no more running, just living life. Being alive at all was all thanks to the American Dragon. She has a permanent home now, friends, and someone who loves her. What more could she possibly want?

Jake had stopped the crazy aerial maneuvers, and was just flying now. He held her bridal style in his arms and close to him. She had her head rested against his chest and her arms wound around his neck, clearly stating that the scales didn't deter her in the least. Neither was afraid to be together anymore, and nothing was there to stop them. Rose looked at the dragon birthmark on her hand, but, to her astonishment, it was gone. Jake noticed it too, and looked at her curiously. Rose smiled up at him, producing a normal left hand.

"I guess I can change my destiny after all," she said.

Jake landed atop their apartment building, set Rose down and changed back into his human form. He looked closely at her hand and grinned.

"Guess you had more control than you thought," he said.

"Too bad I didn't know that six years ago," Rose said, a hint of remorse in her voice.

Jake sighed and cupped her face in his hands, tilting it upwards until her eyes met his.

"Baby, you were scared," he murmured. "You knew what would happen if you stayed in New York. It took real guts to run from the Hunts Man, knowing what he'd do to you if he ever caught you. But you don't have to worry about him anymore, because the Dragon Council has locked him and his pals up for good."

He slid one arm around her waist and pulled her against him, while his other hand stroked her hair.

"If anyone wants to get you, they'll have to come through me first," he said and produced a clawed hand. "I assure you, they don't want to tangle with the American Dragon when he's protecting his girl."

Rose laughed and hugged him.

"Come on Mister Guard Dog," she said teasingly. "Let's go get some supper. I'm starved."

As they left the rooftop by way of stairs, another shady figure a couple of rooftops away watched. It glared at Rose as she walked snuggly beside the American Dragon.

"You will pay for your betrayal," he snarled. "You and your dragon."

The figure shrouded in shadow turned from the happy couple and leapt onto his hover board, fading into the dimming evening.

THE END

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I FINISHED IT! You know what that means…sequel!

COMING SOON: Heart 2 Dragon Heart (an ADJL, Dragon Heart cross over)