Author's Notes: Thanks to ArkansanDragon for being my beta.

Yay for me! I have graduated my Bachelor of Business degree! I am now a qualified Accountant. Now I have to get a job and move out of home... sigh.

Three months later and I now have a job doing individual tax returns!

Disclaimer: I don't own… please don't sue. If I did, it would still be running with the original animation and the guy that came up with the idea for Homecoming (the ending at least) would be looking for a new job. I only own the characters I made up.


Previously on A Race to Protect

"That's where you come in, if you want the position. I've read your file, dear. You already seem to have a rapport with the American Dragon. That will be a huge benefit when trying to find out what that Dragon Council of theirs is going to do about this exposure fiasco. Also, you've met this Dr Clarkson and saved her life. If the local government asks her opinion when discussing what to do about the dragons – and they will if they have any brains – she might tell you before they go public."

Huntsgirl had already made up her mind. She would ask Jake's grandfather how her new position could benefit the magical community.


A Race to Protect

Chapter 17: Hold Your Breath

Several days after the rescue. Canal Street Electronics

Councillor Andam of Africa and Councillor Kulde of Europe – the same two Council members that had been captured by the Huntsman on Halloween a few years ago – had teleported into the shop the day of Jake's rescue. To his great relief, they weren't there to strip him of his powers again.

Unlike the Huntsclan, the Dragon Council had been planning what their actions would be if the magical community were discovered by humans for many years. The scenarios ranged from peaceful acceptance (very unlikely), to all-out war (the likelihood changed with the leaders of the most influential nations). After obtaining the accounts of the four dragons, Kulde had muttered not foreseeing this particular outcome – and only the American Dragon could pull something that unlikely off. Yes, dragons were exposed to the world, but the magical community had not been.

The resident dragons were told to ignore anyone that spotted them and calmly leave if approached – for the time being. The pair left the same way they came, needing to confer with the rest of the council and wait to see what the world's reaction would be.

That left Jake 'recovering from chickenpox' and bored for the next few days. Well... not completely. He was on TV after all.

To the amazement of the magical community (and ire of the Huntsclan) the Chinese, Japanese and several other Asian governments declared that dragons were sacred and therefore, harming one would result in the death penalty.
The United States was more conservative; passing a Bill putting dragons on the endangered species list when they were satisfied it was not a hoax. This was to give scientists time to do a population count, as well as gather data such as habitat and diet without the public shooting them to extinction for sport or profit.

Neither the government, nor the magical community should have worried about a mass panic. It turned out that up to a third of the population of most countries had seen dragons and had learned not to pay any attention to them.

The police had some success with assuring the public that they had nothing to fear from their newly discovered neighbors. The footage of his little sister dragging the divers back to the boat and lapping up the praise afterwards gave them the 'gentle giant' appearance. Furthermore, the more rational portion of the public came to the conclusion that if dragons were aggressive towards humans they would have been noticed by now. There would be only so many victims with injuries you could discount and distinctive markings on bodies would have excluded other known animals. Neither of these had been noticed by hospitals or law enforcement, thus dragon attacks were unlikely.

Following the 'avoid humans' order seemed easy when first issued, they'd been doing it for about 5,000 years. Not so easy when humans were actively looking for them. The adults mostly gave dragons a wide berth when spotted. The braver ones got closer to take pictures, and then scuttled back to a safe distance. Children... not so much.

By the time a dragon knew they had been spotted, the child was either on them or too close for them to make a quick escape without frightening the little one. Unsure of how to deal with the situation, the majority of the winged creatures allowed the child(ren) to climb on them, pull their tail and ears (so long as they didn't hit the sensitive spot) and generally treat them as the family dog until they were bored or called off by a relieved parent. It was this tolerance and gentleness towards children that won over most of the world. Websites like YouTube and various blogging sites were flooded with videos of dragons being poked and prodded by kids all over the world. Most adults that tried this found themselves viewing the dragons retreating backside.


Several weeks later.

It never ceased to amaze Ann on how the human race can adapt to change. A few weeks ago (was it only a few weeks?) dragons were relegated to myth and legend. Now it was like going whale-watching! Media vans still showed up at every sighting and there was a snippet at least once a day on TV, but life went on. Once the dragon flew away, everyone went back to whatever they had been doing.

Of course there were fear mongers and malcontents – people who spouted fear and hatred towards the creatures just because they could. But like most fanatics, they were frowned upon and shunned. Clarkson gave herself stitches when she viewed one of the delusional sods getting sneezed on by a dragon when he tried to provoke an attack by throwing ground pepper at it. The beast then used the man's coat as a handkerchief and left the snot covered dope in favor of a higher perch.

Dr Clarkson had been offered a place within a scientific team to study everything from the creatures' habitat and diet to behavior and the effects from living in urban environments. She suspected the reason the government was moving so fast on the issue was because of the dragons' close proximity to large numbers of people. They would never have moved that fast if mermaid-like creatures had been discovered deep in the ocean! I've been watching too much Discovery Channel. She mussed at that last thought.

Stella popped her head into her office, grinning "Doc, there's another sighting over the road. I think you'd want to see this one."

Mildly confused, Ann followed her receptionist outside. Stella has stopped bothering her about sightings in the first week. Besides, if you weren't quick the dragon flew away when there were too many onlookers. There was a large crowd staring up at a low rooftop a few blocks from the clinic. She frowned; most dragons would have left the area by now. Was this one injured? Sick? Clarkson shoved her way to the best vantage point, the roof of a 4WD. The doctor almost made a very unprofessional squeal of delight. It was Lucky.

Ann hadn't seen or heard him being seen since the kidnapping. She knew he was alright – the young woman in the ninja outfit appeared at her apartment window and told her so. She had believed the girl because she had shown genuine concern for him during the rescue, despite trying to hide it (most likely from the boys she was with if they were indeed trainee poaches). It was one thing to know something; it was another to have it confirmed with your own eyes.

And he wasn't sick or injured. He appeared to be enjoying being the center of attention. He would stand up straight, puff out his chest and shoot plumes of fire up into the air. After a few minutes of posing the young dragon took to the air and performed several lazy loops and rolls around the vicinity. Typical male, the doctor snorted as she jumped down and headed for the buildings' fire escape.

When she got to the roof, Lucky was sitting calmly a few feet away from the ladder. Ann slowly approached and extended her hand towards his chest. "Hello boy. You remember me, don't you?" Despite how intelligent she suspected they were, there was a possibility that one human looked very similar to the next as far as dragons were concerned. Thus, he might not recognize her at all. Lucky's ears perked and lowered his head for her to scratch. Breathing a sigh of relief, Ann gave in to his request. Now that she was close, the doctor could see he had recovered well from his injuries. There wasn't even evidence of scarring.

"I don't know if you can understand me – or if you can rely if you could – but I can guess why your kind avoided people for so long. We've never been very good at playing nice with other species…hell, we're still not good at playing nice with our own. There would be a lot of people wanting to exploit that high intellect you possess. And even more would fear it. As much as I would love answers to all my questions, I think it would be safer for you if I didn't ask. I probably know too much already." The doctor smirked. "Or I could be reading way too much into my 'evidence' and should team up with a certain monocle wearing German spouting off half-baked crackpot theories."

The doctor inhaled after her small speech and stepped back. Lucky had his head cocked, as if he was analyzing her. Turning around, he rummaged through what looked like a backpack propped against the ledge. Finding whatever it was, the dragon opened his claw and offered it to her. The woman picked the shiny gold item up and studied it. It was a whistle about the size of her forefinger shaped like an eastern dragon. Looking up to ask what it was for out of reflex, Ann noticed he was nowhere to be seen.

She pocketed the whistle and climbed down the ladder, heading back to her clinic to finish work. She was still waiting on the lab results from the scales and had a paper to write for the scientific community…

THE END


Author's Notes: Malcontent = not satisfied or content with currently prevailing conditions or circumstances. I think it's to describe people that complain for the sake of complaining.

I did it! It's finished! (does happy dance). Thank you to everyone who read and reviewed!