Jake gave a heavy sigh as he let his head fall onto his desk with a heavy thud. Trixie glanced over at her friend and then let her gaze wander back to the front of the room. "Jeez Jakeie, you could at least try an' pretend to pay attention."
"Trix, even the computer nerds are asleep," Jake pointed to the back of the room where several kids had their heads down in apparent slumber. "This is the most whacked out boring class we've been in all year. I don't think Mr. Layman even knows the meaning of…"
"Psst," Trixe hissed. "Teacher alert, 3 o'clock."
Jake looked to his immediate left and slowly looked up until he was staring in the eyes of a very angry English teacher. "I don't know the meaning of what word, Mr. Long?" Mr. Layman asked tightly.
"I… uhh..." Jake said slowly.
"If you're going to insult me you could very well at least use real words," Mr. Layman snipped icily. "Would you care to finish your thought?"
Jake shrugged his shoulders and laughed nervously. "What thought?" he asked quickly.
Mr. Layman's lips twisted and he sighed. "Exactly," he muttered as he returned to the front of the room. He pulled open a book and pointed to the page. "All right class, pages 24-38, read them and answer the questions." The bell rang outside the class and all the students stood up quickly. "Class is dismissed."
Jake quickly bent over and grabbed all his things getting ready to bolt out of the classroom as quickly as he possibly could. Mr. Layman walked over and put his hand on Jake's shoulder to keep him from leaving the classroom with the rest of his peers and pointed to the front of the room. "If you please, Mr. Long."
Jake sighed and trudged to the front of the room and flopped down into the desk in front of the teacher's desk. "You know, you're almost becoming like how Rotwood was to me when he was still a teacher and not the principal."
Mr. Layman rubbed his forehead and sighed. "Only I actually care about my students, Jake. All the teachers have noticed it, and quite frankly you have more then one adult concerned about you at this school."
Jake held up his hands and shook his head. "Woah, woah woah, wait. You actually talk about me in the teacher's lounge?"
Mr. Layman smiled wanly. "We trade information to stay ahead of the student body so we can maximize the pain we put you kids through each day," he said.
"Ha ha," Jake muttered dryly.
Mr. Layman shook his head and continued. "Jake, in 6th grade you may not have been a perfect model A student but at least you stayed in school all day. You weren't as tardy or as tired as you seem during the day. Now I know English isn't the most exciting subject for everyone but do you know how many times I've seen you fall asleep in my class in the past month?"
Jake made an effort to think of how many times. He counted out what he remembered on his fingers and looked guiltily up at his teacher. "Uh, eight?"
"Ten, Jake. Ten times, that I've seen. Since the 1st, 3 weeks ago," Mr. Layman told his pupil.
Jake held out his hands in an apologetic gesture. "I'm sorry!" he said. "I've just been super busy at G's shop and…other stuff…" he trailed off trying to make it appear non-chalant.
"It's the 'other stuff' that some of us are worried about. We may be public school teachers but some of us decided to teach kids because we like teaching and we like kids, remember that Jake. I can't speak for everyone but at the very least I'm here to help if you need it. I don't want to see you taking a path in life you'll regret," Mr. Layman said softly.
Jake blinked and then snorted. "Yo, Mr. L, don't sweat it. I'm not doing anything after school that is bad or anything. I work a lot and stuff but trust me, mom would get a hold of me before anyone else could if I she didn't know what I was doing."
Mr. Layman nodded. "I'm inclined to disbelieve you, however I'll leave it be for now. Please, just…" he was interrupted by a light knock at the door. Both turned to see Sun Park standing in the doorway, smiling lightly.
"Ah, Mr. Layman, I see you've decided to talk to Mr. Long. I'm sure this is important but if I may borrow him?" she asked as she walked over.
"Actually, I'm not quite…" Mr. Layman started but Sun had already guided Jake out of the desk he was sitting in.
"Thanks a lot," she said with a radiant smile and pulled Jake out of the classroom leaving a very confused English teacher behind.
Jake breathed a sigh of relief and smiled at Sun. "Yo, thanks but uh… any reason why you're breaking me out of a verbal beatdown from Mr. Layman?"
"We have some trouble in the nymph territories," Sun said quietly. "A religious dispute and they're about to go to war over it."
Jake stopped in the middle of the hallway. "Say whaaaat?"
Jake scanned the forest below him as they flew towards where the main conflict was. "Why isn't gramps here?" Jake asked as he shaded his eyes against the sun in an effort to see below the darkened canopy.
"Your grandfather and his animal guardian went to the island of Draco to report the incident. I was given orders to take you and see if we can't at least delay the conflict long enough for the Council to get here."
Jake sighed. "I'm not too good at the whole… uh… calming armed races thing," he said delicately. "Seriously, I'm like 13 years old. I don't know anything about really old religious wars."
Sun smiled at him and nodded towards a clearing of trees directly ahead of them. "I'm sure you'll do fine, American Dragon."
"So, why all the static?" Jake asked as they began their decent.
"The tree nymphs and the river nymphs both have the same basic religion with the same creation story. Their patron goddess, the Pure One is worshiped in both cultures. Only, the tree nymphs claim she was a tree nymph and the river nymphs claim she was a river nymph. Understand?" Sun asked.
Jake blinked slowly as they landed. "So… they've been fighting for thousands of years over weather or not their goddess was a tree or a river?"
Sun smiled sadly. "Well, it's not like any conflict has much more depth to it. All fighting like this does is bring hate and destruction to those who do not deserve it."
"And I'm supposed to do… what exactly?" Jake asked.
"Listen to both sides and keep the two leaders from declaring war until the Council gets here," Sun explained. "You're the American Dragon, it is your duty to listen to everything the creatures of this country have to say. Listening is just as important as fighting."
"Yeah, but fighting is easier," Jake pointed out. "And more fun."
Sun shrugged and pointed to the clearing where two very tall, very angry looking women were standing, facing away from the other. Jake swallowed hard and walked into the clearing smiling with as much bravado as he could muster. "Heeey, ladies, how are two such fine looking girls as yourselves doing in this lovely afternoon?"
Both women glared at Jake with an icy stare and then looked away with a 'humph.' Jake sucked in a deep breath and walked over to where a small wooden chair was. "So uhh… what seems to be the problem?" he asked in a less confident tone.
Sun shook her head slowly as both women began to complain about everything from crop failure to bad weather and each blaming it on the other nymph tribe. Finally Jake slammed his tail on the ground in an effort to get them both to be quiet. "Okay, okay, chill, jeez. Look, I know you two probably have your differences but you can't start any wars or anything."
The tree nymph leader crossed her arms and her dark lips tightened until they were almost invisible. "Tell me, oh dragon guardian, why is that? Why are we not free to fight out our disputes like any other filthy human on this planet?"
Jake let out a slow breath and ran his fingers through his hair. "Because… war is bad?" he tried.
The river nymph let out a cold laugh and tossed her wavy gray hair. "Try harder, kid. The only reason we're even here is because it's customary to talk to the dragon guardian before declaring a war."
Jake looked to Sun for some kind of prompt or clue as to what he should say in reply. All the pretty dragon did was smile reassuringly and gesture to Jake as if to say 'continue.' Jake glared at the ground and muttered "easy for you to say."
"What?" Both leaders snapped.
Jake looked up and held out his hands peaceably. "Ladies, ladies," he said soothingly. "Look, if you start a war this close to the city border chances are you're going to alert the humans. I know it's not fair that you can't fight," he said quickly before the tree nymph could fight back. "But, the fact remains that if you're caught then pretty much all of the magical world is caught. Just… keep that in mind."
"Then we'll take our battle elsewhere," The river nymph snapped.
"Uh, humans are everywhere," Jake pointed out. "That and, the fact that you're willing to move from your spirit ground to fight is pretty whack. I mean come on, just… make up so no one is worrying about getting caught."
Both women glared at the other and then both turned their harsh gazes on Jake. The tree nymph spoke first. "Fine, I agree to a temporary truce if the water tribe agrees to stop flooding our land every time it rains."
"Like we do that on purpose!" The water nymph shot back. "We're just pushing our borders to what the Pure One intended for us."
"The Pure One wanted us to have the land we need to grow, as it was how she lived!" The tree nymph yelled back.
Jake groaned as both women began to squabble over his head again. "And to think I used to beg to get out of school and chores."
Jake watched as his grandfather descended from the sky with the Dragon Council behind him. Jake smiled and waved happily. "Grapms! Thank god you're finally here. Look, I need to jet home real quick like or I won't have any homework to turn in tomorrow."
The blue dragon nodded and inclined his head. "Very well, young one, since we're here now you can…"
"Absolutely not," The tree nymph said. "I refuse to deal with that… that… waterlogged brat without the American Dragon."
"As if I would deal with you and your mud dwelling kin without our representative," she hissed back.
Jake shook his head. "Wha? B-b-but, oh come on. The Council members are here and they're way older and…stuff…" Jake glanced at the council. "Uh… not that you're too old…"
"We refuse," they said together and both turned their backs on one another.
Councilor Andam placed a hand on Jake's shoulder and shook his head. "You are the mediator of this treaty young one. Apparently you said or did something that gained their respect and now you must follow it through. Such is the duty of the representative dragon of any country."
Jake thought of the talk he had with his teacher earlier that day and sighed knowing that it was only the tip of the ice burg. "Awww maaaan…" he muttered.
Mmkay, my first American Dragon multi chap. I feel the need to write more story because I know that the show is being cancelled. Ah well, impusliveness may work out for me here. This seems like it will be a pretty cool story as I actually have most of it plotted out.
Thanks to my reviewers, whoever you may be. Hugs and cookies to you. See you next chapter.