DISCLAIMER: I DO NOT own the characters from American Dragon Jake Long. They belong to Disney. I do however own the words to "Safe in My Arms".
May the light of God shine upon you and keep you safe as well as the power of water be with everyone always
"A Simple Act of Love"
Rose smiled, despite the pain that was coursing through her head. She was on a date with her boyfriend, Jake Long and she was enjoying spending time with him. They didn't get to spend time together too often in the physical world and it was nice to be able to eat dinner together at a restaurant without having to worry about the Huntsclan.
As Rose bit into her salad, she closed her eyes as pain made it's way around her head. She had been fighting a headache ever since she had been chewed out by the Huntsman two hours before, due to not being able to retrieve the second to last Aztec skull.
Rose let out a sigh, which got Jake's attention. He knew something had been bothering his Rosebud all day and he wanted to help her feel better.
"What's up, Rose?" Jake asked, wanting to see if he could help her.
"It's nothing," Rose replied, in a tone Jake didn't buy for a minute. He knew Rose too well.
"Come on, baby, you know you can tell the MacDaddy Jake anything." Jake sleeked back his jet black hair as he spoke, making Rose smile.
"I know you're trying to help, dragon boy, but I promise, it's nothing."
"You can't fool me," Jake said, giving Rose a warm smile. "I know something's buggin' you. Now come on. What's wrong with my Rosebud?"
Rose sighed. She could never ignore Jake when he used his special name for her. She didn't know what it was about him calling her 'Rosebud that made it almost impossible for her to ignore his request, but she felt she couldn't do it. Nor could Rose ignore his chocolate brown orbs that penetrated her soul like a search light.
"It's the Huntsman," Rose began, her fork falling from her fingers and making a clanging sound on her plate as metal met china. "He really gave it to me this morning for not retrieving the skull. I thought he was going to…" Her voice trailed off as she gazed down at her right shoulder.
Jake glared out the window as his thoughts traveled to what the Huntsman had done to his beloved.
"Did he…" Jake asked, fearing the answer.
Rose nodded, a blush creeping up her cheeks as she subconsciously touched a fresh bruise on her right shoulder. She winced at the pain that went through it.
"Rose, you should have told me." Jake said,, protection for Rose in his voice. "I would have helped you. Is that why you came to school wearing long sleeves?"
Rose nodded, her gaze on her plate.
"Rose, look at me," Jake said, his voice stern, but full of love at the same time.
Rose did so, knowing Jake was only trying to help.
"It's not your fault," Jake told her, hoping Rose would believe him. "What the Huntsman is doing to you, I mean. It's not your fault."
Rose's gaze wavered as she fought back a sob.
"It's not your fault," Jake repeated, hoping he would get through to Rose this time. He didn't want her blaming herself for something that truly wasn't her fault.
Rose shook her head as the tears came. She didn't feel much like eating and as she continued to cry, her stomach started churning, giving her the notion she was going to throw up. She swallowed it back as a sob escaped her lips.
"Rose…" Jake said, getting up and coming over to her side of the table. "Rose, it's okay. Come here." With that, Jake took his Rosebud into his arms and hugged her close. He started stroking her hair, hoping it would help her feel better. He planted a kiss on her cheek and rubbed her back, trying to calm her down. He knew she had been holding this in for a while and he was glad she was getting it out.
Jake paid the bill and the two left the restaurant. Jake dragoned up once they reached the sidewalk and flew Rose to central park. He then got a better idea and made a bee line for the Empire State Building.
Once Jake landed, he dragoned down and sat upon the building's rooftop, still holding Rose. He continued to stroke her hair, hoping it would help her calm down.
After five minutes of silence, Jake broke it.
"Rose, I'm telling you, it wasn't your fault. You didn't do anything to deserve what the Huntsman does to you."
Rose let out a sob before responding to Jake's statement.
"Yes it is! It is my fault! I'm the one who didn't do my job! And since I didn't do my job, I deserve to be-" Rose's sentence was interrupted by Jake kissing her on the lips.
"No you don't," Jake said, his voice full of love. "Nobody deserves to be hurt like that. And especially not the woman I love."
Rose nodded, finally convinced. She buried her face in Jake's shoulder as she let the remaining tears fall.
"Jake, I'm scared!" Rose admitted, her tearful tone breaking Jake's heart. "I'm really scared! The only time I truly feel safe is with you. But I can't stay with you all the time."
"I know," Jake said, kissing Rose's head as he continued to stroke her hair. "I know. It's gonna be okay, Rose. I promise. I'm not going to let that Hunts punk hurt you again."
Rose nodded, knowing Jake couldn't keep that promise, but feeling her heart melt at the way Jake cared for her. She loved him so much and she knew her dragon boy felt the same way about her.
The two sat there for an hour, not moving. Jake enjoyed holding Rose, but he wished she wasn't so upset. He hated and feared taking her home when the time came to do so. But as midnight rolled around, Jake knew he had no choice. He had to fly Rose back or risk getting in trouble with his grandfather.
Jake opened Rose's window twenty minutes later and flew her inside. He tucked her in and gave her a kiss before putting his hands through her long golden tresses.
"I love you, my Rosebud. Sweet dreams." With that, Jake landed one more kiss to Rose's cheek before flying silently out of the room.
As Jake flew along the streets of NYC and back to his parents' house, he prayed and hoped that Rose would be okay.
When Jake arrived home, he got himself ready for bed and went to his room. But as he lay upon his bed, he found he couldn't sleep. All he could think about was Rose. He hated leaving her when she was so upset and scared, but he knew it was for the best. If the circumstances had been different, Jake would have taken her back to his place for the night to insure her safety, but he knew with the second to last Aztec skull so close at hand, that wasn't a good option.
Jake knew the Huntsman would do anything to retrieve it, even hurt Rose. The thought made Jake's blood boil with anger as he thought about his Rosebud in pain. He loved Rose too much to see her go through that.
As Jake finally fell asleep, he prayed that he would be able to help Rose escape her home life and find a better one. Little did Jake know he would get his chance the very next day…
Rose groaned as she felt the warm sun hit her face, signaling that it was time to wake up. She rolled over, away from the glaring light and buried her face in the pillow. She didn't feel much like getting up and as Rose turned over, she felt her stomach churn as well. She sucked in a breath and managed to swallow back the urge to vomit. She was definitely not going to school today.
As Rose resigned to falling back to sleep, she heard a sharp wrap at her bedroom door.
"Huntsgirl! Hurry up! You're going to be late!" The Huntsman's gruff voice came through the other side of the door.
Rose groaned as she tried her best to quell the sick feeling that was making its way up her digestive tract and into her throat.
"Huntsgirl, did you hear me!" The Huntsman roared, his loud voice only making Rose's head hurt worse.
"Yes, master," Rose said, trying to hold back her tears of pain. She knew there was no way she would be able to stay home today, no matter how bad she felt. But somehow Rose felt a sense of comfort about leaving the house. At least at school she would be with Jake. And whenever she was with Jake, Rose felt safe and most of all, she felt loved.
As Rose got ready for school, she kept having to take deep breaths to keep herself from throwing up. Also, a feeling of dizziness encompassed her movements, making her move slower than she normally would have on a daily basis.
Needless to say, by the time Rose got to school, she was cold, nauseous and just wanted to lay down. She went to her locker and stuck the books she wouldn't need in while taking others out. She could barely hold them without feeling like she was going to faint.
When Rose reached Rotwood's class, she sat down in the back and put her head in her hands. She closed her eyes, hoping the nausea would leave her system, but it was no use. As Rose took another deep breath, she felt a familiar presence near her and chanced a glance at the door. Sure enough, Jake and his two best friends, Trixie Carter and Spud, had just arrived. Rose gave Jake a small smile before closing her eyes again and taking another deep breath.
Jake, meanwhile, was just about to sit down near Trixie and Spud, when he realized that Rose hadn't arrived yet. He hadn't seen her before school either, which was very odd. They usually met for a romantic rendezvous before the bell rang, but Jake hadn't seen any sign of his Rosebud all morning.
As Jake scanned the room, he spotted Rose in the far right corner. The sight that met his eyes, made his heart break and worry set into his stomach. Rose was hunched over, and it looked like she was in pain. Thinking that the Huntsman had beaten her again, Jake made his way to the back row and took the seat next to Rose. He put a comforting arm around her and gave her a gentle squeeze.
"Hey now, what's the matter with my Rosebud, hmm?" He asked, landing a kiss to the top of her head.
Rose didn't have to look up to see who had just spoken to her. She would know that voice anywhere. But instead of giving him a smile, she turned around and buried her face in Jake's shoulder, closing her eyes once she was comfortable.
"Rose, what's wrong? Hey, hey now, it's all right, baby. The MacDaddy Jake's here now. You're okay. It's all right. I'm not going to let that Hunts punk hurt you again." He hugged her close and put a comforting hand through her long golden tresses.
Rose shook her head, which made it pound harder.
"The…The…The Huntsman didn't hurt me." She managed to get out between swallows, followed by a sob that escaped her lips before she could stop it.
"Then what's gotten you so upset?" Jake asked, concern in his tone. "What happened?"
don't feel good!" Rose whimpered, affectively soaking Jake with
her now steady stream of tears.
Jake nodded. He pulled away slightly, so that he could get a good look at his girlfriend. He didn't like what he saw and he could understand what Rose meant.
"You don't look so good, either." He said, immediately feeling stupid for making such a comment. He blushed as he hastened to correct himself. "I mean.. That is…you look good, but not…" His voice trailed off as he sighed, fearing he had just made a fool of himself in front of the love of his life for the umpteenth time that year.
Rose let a little giggle escape her lips, although it sounded more like a sob. She loved it when Jake acted nervous around her. It was amusing to watch.
"Jake, it's okay." Rose said, swallowing yet again. "I understand, believe me. It's fine." Her voice trailed off as another whimper escaped her lips.
"What's wrong?" Jake asked, feeling Rose shaking in his arms. He didn't know whether it was from crying or just her fever, but he didn't like it.
"My head is pounding and my stomach hurts!" Rose whimpered against his shoulder. "I feel really dizzy and…" Rose's voice trailed off as she swallowed again. "…I feel like I'm gonna throw up!"
Jake's heart broke for his girlfriend. He wanted nothing more than to take Rose's pain away, but he knew he couldn't. But he was determined to help her through this, no matter what it took.
Jake had known Rose had been coming down with something for the last day or so now. She had appeared a little out of it during their last official date. When Jake asked her what was wrong, Rose told him that she had a headache. She had also looked flushed when Jake had dropped her back at her place the night before. He had advised Rose to stay home, but Jake knew that the Huntsman would never allow her to do so.
Just then, Rotwood came into the room, humming some kind of tune off key. He rapped a yard stick on the desk in an attempt to get everyone's attention. He only succeeded in making Rose whimper in pain. Her head was pounding like a drum and she couldn't take any loud noises at the moment.
"Rose, it's okay," Jake assured his sobbing girlfriend. "You're going to be okay. I promise. I have you."
"Jake…I…I…I feel like I'm gonna…" Rose's voice trailed off as she swallowed, willing herself not to vomit all over her boyfriend.
Jake got the message and signaled for Spud to create a diversion while he either snuck Rose out, or at best got her the trashcan that was sitting by Rotwood's desk.
Spud nodded, seeing Rose's plight. He was one to help anyone in need, no matter who they were.
Spud took out his mp3 player and set it to dolphin noises. He then set it to pigeons and crows and watched with satisfaction as Rotwood went nuts, wondering how birds had gotten into his classroom and where they were hiding.
Jake would have laughed at Spud's success, if it wasn't for Rose, who was starting to have trouble keeping the nausea at bay. She swallowed again and took a deep breath as the urge to heave came over her. She clapped a hand to her mouth just as Courtney, one of Rose's only friends, handed Jake what he needed.
"Thanks, Court." Jake said,, wanting the girl to know she had done well.
Courtney nodded and gave Rose a sympathetic look before returning to her seat.
Once Courtney left, Jake turned his attention to Rose, who was breathing rather hard in an effort to not vomit all over the place.
"Rose, it's all right, baby. You're okay. Come on, I got you." Jake carefully set Rose down in front of the trashcan and started to rub her back as she swallowed hard before giving into the nausea that had been plaguing her since early that morning. She took a deep breath and heaved, vomiting right then and there.
Jake could only hold Rose's hair back and rub her back as she lost the contents of her stomach for a second and third time. He wanted to do more, but he knew that would have to wait until Rose's stomach had calmed down.
Five minutes later, Rose's stomach had finally calmed down, but she was still feeling really bad. She was in tears and she still felt nauseous.
"Shh, shh, it's all right, Rose. It's okay now. Come here." Jake helped Rose back up and took her into his arms again. He made sure the trashcan was in reach before letting Rose lay her head against his shoulder while slinging a protective arm around her.
"Are you okay there?" Jake asked, starting to stroke Rose's hair gently.
Rose murmured something that sounded like, "Yes," before closing her eyes and burying her face in Jake's shoulder once again.
As Jake felt Rose start to shiver from her fever, he pulled her close and ended up pulling her onto his lap. He really didn't care what anyone thought and wrapped his arms around the love of his life. He loved Rose with all his heart and he was going to do everything he could to help her feel better..
Once Jake was sure that Rose was all right for a few minutes, he turned his attention to Spud.
"Thanks for the distraction, Spud." He said, reaching over and patting his best friend on the back.
"No problem, dude. You know I don't mind helping you out."
Jake nodded before turning his attention back to Rose. He was only half listening to Rotwood's lecture about gnomes and jumped a mile when Rotwood shouted his name.
"Jake Long! Can you tell us ze answer?"
Jake jumped a mile and tried to recover as he held a now whimpering Rose close. She had started at Jake's sudden movement and was now in need of the trashcan again.
"Mr. Long?" Rotwood asked, his voice full of expectancy.
Jake did the only thing he could think of and shook his head.
Rotwood frowned before turning his attention to Courtney, who gave him the answer he was looking for.
Jake really didn't' care if he failed or not. His only concern right now was Rose.
"Rose, what is it?" Jake asked, noticing the way she was struggling to get out of his loving and protective hold.
"Jake…I need the…" Rose's voice trailed off as she swallowed hard.
Jake got the drift and was saved by Spud, who placed the trashcan in front of the teenage girl.
Jake threw Spud a grateful look as he put an arm around Rose and helped her to face forward.
Jake hated seeing Rose in pain and he wanted to help her in any way he could.
Rose swallowed one more time before heaving, vomiting once again. She repeated the action once more before burying her face in Jake's shoulder, tears of pain and tiredness streaming down her peach colored cheeks.
"Shh, shh, it's okay, Rose. It's all right, baby. The AmDrag has you. You're okay." Jake assured her, planting a kiss on Rose's cheek while smoothing her hair away from her flushed face.
Rose merely whimpered while seeking comfort from the dragon she loved with all her heart.
"Shh, shh, it's okay, Rose. It's all right. That's my girl. That's my Rosebud…" Jake soothed, putting a hand through Rose's hair comfortingly.
Spud gave Rose a concerned look and to both Jake and Spud's utter surprise, so did Trixie!
"Is Rose gonna be okay?" Trixie asked, genuine concern in her voice.
"What the…?" Jake exclaimed, before saying another one of his signature sayings whenever he was surprised by something. "Say what!"
Trixie faltered, not sure how to explain her sudden empathy for Rose.
"You need to get Rose home, dude," Spud told Jake turning to his friend. "She can't stay here."
Jake nodded. He knew Spud was right and he had the perfect plan. He gave Spud a special whistle and told him to blow it.
Spud looked apprehensively at Rose who was now half asleep in Jake's loving embrace.
Jake gave Spud a reassuring look, practically reading his friend's thoughts.
Trixie cut in just then.
"Jakey, you can't just leave. You don't do the whole cuttin' class thang! And besides, can't someone at home take care of Rose? She has to have a family."
Jake shook his head as his protective grip tightened on his girlfriend.
"I'm the only "family" she's got."
Trixie didn't know what to say to that. For once in her life, she was at a loss for words.
Jake then turned his attention back to Spud. He was still looking at the whistle with apprehension.
"Don't worry, Rose won't hear it. It's not for Human ears."
Spud nodded and did so. He blew into the whistle and was surprised when a flood of pixies came into the room. They gave Jake a smile before darting for Rotwood.
Rotwood was momentarily stunned before diving underneath his desk in fear.
The distraction was just what Jake had hoped and he was able to get Rose out without anyone being any the wiser.
Once they escaped Rotwood's classroom, Jake carried Rose down the hallway, all intensions of leaving the school. They were just about halfway to their destination when Rose started to swallow. She whimpered in pain and Jake knew what was going to happen. He made a bee line for the nearest unisex bathroom, but was forced to hide in another room when he heard a teacher coming down sed hallway.
To Jakes horror, the room he had chosen to hide out in was none other than the girls bathroom!
"Awww man!" Jake exclaimed, a blush creeping up his skin. He was about to make a bee line for the door, but stopped when Rose started to heave. He got her into a stall and set her down in front of the toilet just as she gagged, vomiting right into it. She was starting to shiver again and Jake had to get her home quickly.
"It's okay, Rose. It's all right. Don't worry, you're gonna be fine. I'm gonna take care of you."
Rose merely whimpered as more heaves racked her slender form. She wanted more than anything to just lay down and go to sleep, but she knew it wasn't possible. At least not until she and Jake got to his house.
After Rose's stomach had calmed down, Jake picked Rose up gently and transformed into his dragon form. He then flew out the window with Rose in his arms. He knew she wouldn't be able to hold onto him even If she tried. She was feeling too weak and dizzy to do that.
When they reached Jake's house, he opened the door with his key and carried Rose up to the guestroom. He tucked her in bed and went to retrieve some things from the closet. He got a sick bucket along with a thermometer and a can of apple juice. HE brought everything back to the room and set them down on the nightstand. He then went about the task of taking Rose's temperature. He stuck it under her arm, knowing she wouldn't be able to have it underneath of her tongue in her condition.
"You're gonna be okay," he told her as she laid her head against his shoulder and closed her azure eyes tiredly. "The AmDrag's gonna make sure of it."
Rose gave Jake a small smile before she drifted into a half doze.
"No, Rose, you can't sleep just yet." Jake said, gently shaking her awake. "We need to see how high your fever is and then you need to drink some juice for me." He hated keeping Rose from the rest she craved, but Jake knew the drill from taking care of Haley for a few years.
Rose whimpered in protest, making Jake's heart break for the second time that day.
"It's all right," he assured her, stroking her hair gently. "After you drink some juice, you can sleep for a little while, I promise."
Rose nodded, fully trusting Jake. She trusted her boyfriend with her life and not just because he was the American Dragon. But because he was Jake. The boy she had known since they were both six and the boy she had then developed feelings for at age ten till now.
Jake took the thermometer from underneath Rose's right arm after it had beeped and looked at it. He sighed with relief when he discovered that Rose's fever wasn't too high.
"This isn't too bad," Jake said, patting Rose's shoulder. "According to the thermometer, your fever is 101.3 degrees. We just need to keep it from going any higher." With that, he produced the juice cup and helped Rose to sip from it.
"Jake, it's not gonna stay down." Rose said, her voice full of pain and tiredness. "I feel too…" Her voice trailed off as she swallowed hard once again.
Jake was about to reach for the bucket, when he got an idea. He took Rose into his arms and started stroking her hair gently. He then started massaging her neck, encouraging her to swallow.
"Jake, I'm gonna…I'm gonna vomit it back…" Rose's voice trailed off as she swallowed again. She felt like she had to heave and braced herself for what she knew was about to happen.
"Shh, shh, it's okay, Rose. It's all right. Just try and relax," Jake suggested. "You're okay." He continued the massaging of her neck until she swallowed and took a deep breath. "That's my girl. There you go." He said, landing a kiss to her cheek. He hugged her close, hoping it would help her feel safe.
It did the trick, until she nearly vomited on him five minutes later.
Rose let out a sob as she vomited into the bucket for the third time that afternoon. She was feeling awful and all she wanted to do was sleep.
"That's it," Jake encouraged, rubbing Rose's back. "It's all right, my Rosebud. It's okay. Just get it up. You're okay. You're all right…" Jake continued to soothe Rose until her stomach calmed down.
Once Rose was back in Jake's arms, he concentrated on getting her to sleep. This wasn't a hard task, considering Rose was tired out from the whole day.
Jake planted a kiss on Rose's cheek and stroked her hair one last time before laying her down and tucking the covers around her shaking form.
"I love you, my Rosebud." Jake said, planting a kiss on her cheek. "I'm right here. I'm not going anywhere." With that, Jake watched Rose sleep, hoping that she would be okay.
Twenty minutes later, Jake decided to read a book. He frowned when he realized that the book he wanted to read was in his bedroom.
Making a split second decision, Jake picked Rose up and carefully moved her to his room. He tucked her in his bed before going over to his bookshelf and retrieving the volume from his shelf. He then sat down in his computer chair and pulled it next to his bed. He wanted to be near Rose in case she needed him for anything. He was determined to see her through this and that meant not leaving her side for anything.
About an hour later, Rose awoke, feeling a little bit better. She wasn't shaking as much and her headache was slowly going away. She opened her azure eyes and looked around at her surroundings, forgetting for a minute or two where she was. She sighed with relief when she saw Jake enter the room.
Jake smiled when he saw Rose was awake. He came over to the bed and set the tray he had brought upon the nightstand before sitting down beside her.
"You're up." He said, giving her a smile. "How are you feeling?"
Rose sighed as she laid her head against his shoulder. She wasn't surprised when Jake lifted her onto his lap and cuddled her close. Nor was she surprised when he put his hands through her blond hair before their lips connected in a passionate kiss.
Rose smiled a little as they pulled away. The nap had really done her well as did Jake's TLC.
"A lot better than earlier." Rose replied, truthfully. "My head feels a little bit better and I don't feel as cold."
"That's good," Jake said, taking in the familiar scent of Rose's mango/vanilla perfume. "I'm glad. Are you up to eating a little something? It's not a lot, I promise." He hastened to assure Rose, who eyed the tray wearily.
"Can we share whatever you brought?" Rose asked, closing her eyes for a brief minute.
"I wouldn't have it any other way," Jake said, landing a kiss to the top of Rose's head. He then kissed her cheek and was relieved to find that her fever had broken.
Rose and Jake sat there in comfortable silence for a few minutes, just enjoying each other's presence.
Finally, Rose broke it.
"Jake, I just wanna say how much I appreciate what you did for me today. I know it wasn't easy to go against what you believed in and skip school like that just for me…" Her voice trailed off as she felt his lips on hers once again.
"Don't worry about it, baby. I would do anything for you. Besides, I hate Rotwood's class."
"Don't we all," Rose agreed, a little laugh escaping her lips.
The sound was music to Jake's ears.
Just then, Jake's bedroom door opened and Haley stood there. She had her hands planted on her hips as she surveyed the scene in front of her.
"Mom said you're not allowed to have girls in your room!"
Jake glared at his sister before getting up to face her.
"Rose isn't just ANY girl and you know it. She's my girlfriend and a member of this family. She's helped you out a lot over the years, so don't go dissin' her like that."
Haley glared at Jake before turning her gaze to Rose and giving her a dirty look.
"And anyway," Jake continued, ignoring Haley's look. "Rose is here because she needs my help."
"With what?" Haley challenged, her eyes boring into his brown orbs.
Jake glared at her.
"I don't have to explain anything to you." He said, making a split second decision.
"Fine," Haley said, turning to leave the room. "You can explain it to Mom." With that, Haley was about to call their mother, when Jake stopped her. He grabbed her arm and pulled her back while closing the door behind her. He had one sure way to stop her and he prayed their recent bonding experience wasn't for not.
"Haley, you can't tell Mom I had Rose up here, or the fact that she's going to spend the night."
"What!" Both Rose and Haley shouted in unison.
Jake flushed pink, choosing to glare at Haley before turning his attention to Rose.
"Rose, I'm not letting you go back until I know you're fully recovered. I would never forgive myself if the Huntsman hurt you and you couldn't try and defend yourself because you felt too weak."
Rose nodded, but she was interrupted by a bout of nausea that made her swallow hard.
Jake was at Rose's side in seconds and he helped her face the bucket as Haley held it for her. He was grateful to Haley for her help, but something told him he wasn't out of the woods yet.
After Rose's stomach had calmed down, Jake took his girlfriend into his arms and started stroking her hair.
After Rose had calmed a little, he turned to Haley.
"Haley, Rose needs me. If she doesn't stay here, she could get hurt. Really hurt."
Haley scoffed, as if she didn't believe Jake.
"Yeah right. She's the Huntsgirl. I'm sure she can take on anyone who tries to mess with her."
Jake shook his head as a light bulb went off in his brain. There was only one way Haley would agree to not tell their parents and Jake prayed it would work.
But as Jake went to lift Rose's shirt off her back, Rose pushed his hand away with such force, he almost lost his grip on her.
"Rose, it's okay. I'm not gonna-" Jake's sentence was interrupted by a glare from Rose that quickly turned into a pleading look.
"Jake…" Rose's voice trailed off and caught in her throat. "Don't, okay? Just don't! Please!"
"Rose, it's the only way," Jake tried to convince her. "If I don't show Haley, she's going to tell my parents and I don't want either of us to get in trouble. I promise, Haley wont' tell anyone about it. I know she won't. She might tattle on me every chance she gets, but she doesn't' do it to strangers."
Rose nodded, but buried her face in Jake's shoulder as the tears started to come. She knew it had to be done, but she was scared of how Haley would react. She was also embarrassed at what she had allowed the Huntsman to do to her. She, along with Jake and Fu were the only ones who knew the extensive damage the Huntsman had inflicted on her over the last four years, and Rose hoped it would stay that way.
"I know, Rose, I know." Jake said, his voice full of concern and love. "It's gonna be okay. I gotcha and I'm not going to let you go." Jake then turned his attention to Haley.
The eight year old was staring at Jake with a new sense of admiration. She also felt guilty all of a sudden for being such a brat. She had a feeling that whatever Jake was going to show her or explain to her was bad. She was proud of Jake for volunteering to risk his life to help Rose. But a part of Haley still hated the older girl for what she tried to do to Jake. Haley loved Jake and he was the only brother she had. She didn't know what she would do if anything happened to him.
"Haley, come here." Jake said, his voice steady, but firm.
Haley obeyed without question. She knew Jake meant business just by the tone of his voice.
"I want to show you something and then I'm gonna try and explain something to you."
Haley nodded, unaware that she was holding her breath.
Jake started stroking Rose's hair comfortingly as he lifted up the back of her shirt.
Haley gasped at the sight that met her innocent, sable eyes. She had never seen so many bruises on one person before in her life. She wanted to look away, but found she couldn't tear her eyes away from the sight.
"Now do you see why we need to keep Rose safe and not tell Mom just yet?" Jake asked, his voice full of pleading. "Rose could get hurt like this again and I don't want that. I love her, Haley. I love her just as much as I love you. I want her to stay safe. And the only way that can happen is if she stays here. Do you understand?"
Haley nodded, but she still had a bone to pick with her older brother.
"But how can you love her? She tried to hurt you! She tried to kill you!"
Jake sighed. He saw the problem now and hoped he would be able to fix it.
"Haley, come and sit here." He said, patting the spot next to him.
Haley hesitated, but in the end, she trusted her brother and did as he said. The minute Haley sat down, she felt Jake put his arm around her and pull her close.
"Rose isn't the same person she was a year ago. She isn't the Huntsgirl anymore. She doesn't want to hurt me. She loves me. She loves you too."
Haley shook her head.
"Rose doesn't love me." Haley said, turning her face away. "She never did."
Rose had to fight back tears at this point. She had always loved Haley from the moment she met her back when she was seven and Haley was just ten months old. She had loved the youngest member of the Long family as if she were her own little sister. And Rose's love for Haley never stopped.
"Jake, let me see if I can help." Rose said, seeming to come out of her state of fear and bad memories.
Jake nodded and released Rose so that she could try and get through to Haley. The nausea had passed for now and Rose wasn't feeling that queasy anymore.
Rose knelt down in front of the little girl and gave her a gentle smile.
"Haley, honey, I promise you, I would NEVER hurt Jake. I could never do that because I love him. I've loved him ever since we were ten years old and over these last four years, that love has grown. And I care about you too."
Haley made a noise as if she didn't believe her, making Rose frown in thought.
"Haley, remember when we all went skating and those kids started making fun of you because you fell?"
Haley nodded. She did remember that. She had been trying to skate like a figure skater and it hadn't gone over well.
"Do you remember who defended you?"
"Jake." Haley said, not sure where Rose was going with this train of thought.
"Yes, but who taught you how to skate after that?"
Haley knew the answer to this question, but she didn't want to admit it.
"Haley…." Jake said, his voice full of the kind of authority that said "Rose is a guest and we treat guests with respect."
Haley sighed and answered Rose's question grudgingly.
"You." She mumbled, her answer barely audible.
"What did you say?" Rose asked, truly not catching her answer.
"You." Haley said, a bit louder.
"That's right." Rose said, giving her a small smile. "And what about that time you wanted to learn how to ride a two wheeler and Jake was too busy with dragon business to teach you. Who taught you?"
Haley looked away as she answered Rose's question. She knew Rose and Jake were right, but she still was a little apprehensive.
"You." Haley finally replied, giving Rose a look. "But that was before you betrayed us."
Rose sighed, knowing she wasn't going to get anywhere with Haley, unless she explained her story a little bit more.
"Haley, listen, you know how I always spent every holiday over here?"
Haley nodded and she couldn't help but smile at the memories. She enjoyed making hot chocolate with the older girl and she really liked it when Rose would lift her up to place the angel on the tree. She especially liked picking out Jake's gift with Rose.
"I spent the holidays here with your family for two reasons. One, because I Liked being around you guys. And another bigger reason was because the Huntsman took me away from my own family. I didn't choose to be in the Huntsclan. I was born with the mark." She held up her left hand and showed Haley the familiar dragon insignia that graced her left palm.
Haley nodded, finally understanding a little bit better.
"I'm sorry," Haley apologized, her voice full of remorse.
Rose patted her shoulder gently.
"I know it may have seemed like I betrayed you and Jake, but I didn't have a choice. If I had one, I would have NEVER tried to hurt Jake." She gave Jake a smile that made him go weak in the knees. "The Huntsman is a cruel person and he'll stop at nothing to get what he wants. He likes causing other people pain, including me. That's why I need to stay here for the night. At least until I'm better."
"Now do you understand, Hailers?" Jake asked, using his nickname for his little sister.
Haley nodded and frowned.
"I'm sorry," Haley said, truly sorry for how she had acted.
"It's okay," Jake said, knowing his sister had only acted that way out of protection for him. "But I think you need to apologize to Rose too."
Haley sighed and did so. She knew now that she had been wrong and she did owe Rose an apology.
"I'm sorry, Rose," Haley said, truly sorry for what she had said.
"It's okay," Rose said, giving Haley a warm smile. "I understand why you felt the way you did," Rose continued, patting Haley's shoulder. "But I promise you, sweetie, I would never hurt Jake or you."
Haley gave Rose a small smile and even went as far as letting the older girl hug her.
Jake sighed with relief. He was glad that everything was going to work out, at least he hoped it would.
"Can I ask you something?" Haley asked, meeting Rose's gaze.
Rose nodded, bracing herself for whatever was going to come out of the younger dragon's mouth.
"Can you sing me our song tonight?" Haley asked, a smile spreading across her lips as she gazed at Rose with hopeful eyes.
"Sure. I'll even tuck you in. How's that sound?"
"Sounds good to me," Haley said, giving Rose a hug, surprising Jake and Rose.
"All right. Why don't you get started on your homework and give Jake and me some time alone."
Haley nodded and gave Rose another hug before giving Jake one.
After Haley left, Rose sighed and sat down beside Jake.
"That was close," Rose said, smiling contently as Jake wrapped his arms around her and planted a kiss on her cheek.
"You're tellin' me." Jake said, holding his Rosebud close. "I'm glad Haley forgave you. I knew she still loved you deep down inside. She was just confused and afraid for me."
Rose nodded, knowing exactly how Haley felt. She smiled as she turned around and snuggled into Jake for a cuddle.
"So are you feeling better?" Jake asked, hoping the answer was yes.
"Much." She emphasized her answer by kissing him passionately on the lips. "Does that answer your question, dragon boy?"
Jake nodded and deepened the kiss. He was glad that things were slowly going back to normal for he and Rose. He was also glad that she was feeling better. He hated seeing her in pain and he felt better knowing that Rose was on the road to a full recovery.
"I love you, dragon boy." Rose said, planting another kiss on Jake's lips.
"I love you too, my Rosebud," Jake said, returning the kiss. They deepened it and stopped only when Haley knocked on the door, telling them dinner was ready.
Jake lay there for a few more minutes, just holding Rose close. He loved holding her and relished in the fact that she enjoyed it also.
"Are you up for eating?" Jake asked, planting a kiss on Rose's cheek before putting a hand through her long golden tresses.
"I'll try a little," Rose said, honestly. "I still feel a little queasy, but not as bad as earlier."
"That's good." Jake said, truly happy that Rose was feeling better. With that, he lead the way downstairs so that they could have dinner with the rest of the family.
When Jake's parents asked about Rose being there, Jake quickly explained that she had come over to study and had become ill, so he was taking care of her.
Jake's mother, Susan, thought that was a sweet gesture and welcomed Rose back with open arms. She didn't ask anymore questions and thankfully, Haley went along with Jake's story. She was over her grudge against Rose and she rather liked having the older girl around again. Before Haley had become angry at Rose, she had thought of Rose as an older sister. Haley had always wanted an older sister and Rose was the perfect big sister figure for her. She was sweet and a lot of fun to be around.
Later that night, Rose and Jake were awakened by a scream.
"Haley!" Jake shouted, knowing who had let the scream out. He raced for his little sister's bedroom and found her sitting up, shaking. Tears were streaming down her cheeks and she was holding her stuffed cat, Patches, close.
Jake approached Haley cautiously, knowing she could become worked up right after having a nightmare.
"Haley, Haley, it's all right, sis. You're okay. Your big brother's right here. It's all right." Jake reached out to take Haley into his arms, but was surprised when Haley pushed him away and uttered one word through her tears.
"Rose!" She then made her way over to the girl and climbed into her lap before burying her face in Rose's shoulder and letting out a sob. She grabbed Rose's nightgown collar, refusing to let go.
Jake gave Rose a confused look, but Rose just picked the little girl up and started walking around the room with her, trying to get her back to sleep.
"What the….?" Jake said, totally taken aback by the events that had just taken place.
Rose gave Jake the signal to leave it before turning her attention back to Haley.
"Shh, shh, it's okay, honey. It's all right, little one. Rose has you now. You're okay. It's all right. Rose's got you. You're all right. That's a girl. That's a girl…" Rose's voice trailed off as she stroked Haley's hair and started to sing her a song. It was one she used to sing to Haley whenever the child had a bad dream in the past. "Hush my little one, the moon is out, the day is done. Close your eyes and let your dreams take flight. The sun is asleep and it's time to say good night. May your dreams be sweet as cotton candy and as pleasant as the rain. May they be filled with wonderful things. Flowered hills and butterfly wings. Let your dreams take flight while safe in my arms. Safe in my arms is where you'll stay, till sunlight greets a new day. But for now rest your eyes and let your dreams take flight. To the highest cloud or the clearest bay, safe in my arms is where you'll stay. Hush my little one, the moon is out, the day is done. Close your eyes and let your dreams take flight. May your dreams be sweet as cotton candy and as pleasant as the rain. May they be filled with pleasant things. Flowered hills and butterfly wings. Let your dreams take flight while safe in my arms. Safe in my arms is where you'll stay, till sunlight greets a new day. But for now rest your eyes and let your dreams take flight. To the highest cloud or the deepest sea, safe in my arms is where you'll stay. Safe in my arms is where you'll stay, till sunlight greets a new day…" Rose's melodic voice trailed off at the end of the song and she smiled down at the little girl. Haley was fast asleep once again.
Jake couldn't speak for a minute. He had forgotten how sweet and beautiful Rose's voice was. She hadn't sung since the school's talent show last year.
Rose tucked Haley in and gave her a kiss on her cheek.
"Sweet dreams sweetheart. I love you." With that, Rose patted Haley's shoulder while Jake gave her a kiss.
Once the two were back in Jake's room, Rose lay down on the bed and Jake took her into his arms.
"That was really pretty," Jake said, kissing Rose's cheek before their lips met in a passionate kiss.
Rose smiled as they pulled away before she laid her head against his shoulder.
"It was my pleasure. I don't mind helping Haley out. I love her. And I love helping younger kids."
Jake nodded. He then got a look on his face and asked, "But you love the MacDaddy Jake more, right?"
Rose answered his question by wrapping her arms around his neck and kissing him passionately once again.
"Always and forever, dragon boy. I'll love you always and forever." Rose replied as she closed her eyes, fully content where she was.
"And I love you too, my Rosebud." Jake said, starting to stroke Rose's hair.
The couple fell asleep in each other's arms, relishing in being together.
Jake was happy that Rose was feeling better and he was also happy that he was able to help her recover. And as he held his Rosebud close, he now knew what a simple act of love could do. It wasn't the big things that mattered or showed a person that you loved them. But rather it was the simple acts of love that showed you cared. And it was these simple acts of love that showed Jake truly loved Rose even more.