Haley and Sun were just settling in at the dorm in Paris when they saw her. There were a few differences, of course. Her hair was shorter, her clothing style was different, and she was clearly a student of the dance academy, but it definitely seemed to be her.
"Rose?" Sun asked.
The girl turned and smiled, and Sun could see the difference. While from behind, she looked like Rose, this girl was certainly different. "Nope. My name's Ivy."
"Sorry," Sun apologized. "You look like one of my students back in New York. My name's Sun Park, and this is Haley Long. I'm her chaperone while she's in Paris over the summer."
"You wouldn't happen to be the Miss Park in Millard Fillmore Middle School who teaches Home Ec, would you?" Ivy asked.
"Yes," Sun answered.
"That's why you thought you recognized me then," Ivy realized. "My twin sister, Rose, took your class."
"That must be it, then," Sun agreed.
"Anyway, welcome to the academy, Haley!"
Gregory came up for part of the summer at Lao Shi's insistence. While Jonathan had been distracted at the family reunion, Lao Shi managed to observe some of Gregory's skills and had been thoroughly disappointed. After a shouting match with his dragon master, he'd offered for Gregory to come up to get some on-the-job training alongside Jake.
"Need a break, Gregory?" Jake asked, seeing the green dragon panting as he tried to keep up.
"Maybe just a minute," he gasped.
But then, two familiar voices screamed out, "Dragon!" and Jake's whole demeanor changed. Instead of "experienced, helpful, mostly tolerant older cousin," he was suddenly a quite vengeful American Dragon.
"The break will have to wait, Greggy," he said. "We've got Huntsclan."
"Huntsclan?" Gregory exclaimed, too bewildered and frightened to realize Jake had called him by the hated nickname.
Jake swooped down in front of 88 and 89, Gregory behind him. The two former Huntsclan trainees were running for their lives, and for good reason. After the homecoming, Jake wasn't in a forgiving mood toward the only two Huntsclan who remained.
"Jake, don't you think we should call Uncle Lao Shi for this?" Gregory called.
"Don't bother," Jake replied spitefully. "These guys are hardly the Dirty Baker's Dozen."
Jake managed to corner them in an alley, and Gregory swore one of the two had wet his pants. He, for one, didn't like this sudden change in his cousin. He'd seen Jake switch from "annoyed cousin" to "American Dragon" quickly back at the reunion, but this was different. Back in Florida, Jake hadn't been this angry.
"The Huntsclan's gone, or haven't you two idiots realized that?" Jake demanded.
"We're not afraid of you," 89 insisted with false bravado.
"Yeah, Dragon," 88 agreed. "You don't have Rose here to save you from us kicking your butt!"
"You mean you don't have Rose here to save you," Jake replied venomously.
"And in case you didn't notice, there are two dragons," Gregory added, determined not to be left out.
"It only takes one to take care of these clowns," Jake answered. 88 and 89 cowered and hugged each other in terror. "Go home—and I mean find your real homes. You got the same second chance Rose did. Use it." And with that, he flew off.
Gregory was left staring at the two scared Huntsclan trainees, and saw for the first time that they were just a couple of kids trying to play tough, just as he used to be. After realizing that Gregory wasn't going to try and hurt them, 88 and 89 pushed away from each other.
"So, you're not going to do anything?" 88 asked.
"Maybe you should go home," he suggested before flying off to join Jake.
88 and 89 looked at each other for a second before finally throwing away their masks. The next day, the State of New York managed to place street-brothers Kyle Baxter and Nick Hunter in the same foster home. They would be attending Millard Fillmore Middle School, where—unknown to the state, of course—Sun Park could keep an eye on them.
Gregory met Jake back at Lao Shi's store and saw him looking more defeated than he'd ever seen him.
"You okay?" Gregory checked.
"It's funny," Jake replied. "Those two got off by a loophole. When Rose made her wish, they quit the Huntsclan. She could have quit too, and then we'd work on finding her parents together. But instead of taking the easy way out, I let her have a normal life."
"It seems you've finally learned something, young dragon," Lao Shi said, pouring both boys some tea. "The easiest choice isn't always the right one, and the right one isn't always easy."
"It'd make my job better if they always were," Jake decided, and Gregory couldn't help but agree.
Jake walked the mall with Trixie and Spud, only half-listening to their insistence that Kyle Wilkins and Stacey would fall for them by the time high school started. Negrete-Guzelian High School was going to be a fresh start for them, away from Rotwood and all the other troubles they'd had back at Fillmore Middle. He knew that some things were going to be the same—he and Brad would hate each other, Trixie would gush over Kyle Wilkins to anyone who even looked like they were listening, and Spud wouldn't stand a chance with the cheerleaders. Even so, it was nice getting away from the constant reminders of everything that had gone wrong in the past couple of years since his dragon powers first manifested.
"Jake, look out!" Spud warned.
"What?" Jake asked too late, crashing right into the person in front of him. "Oh, geez, sorry about that!" he apologized, helping to pick up the dropped packages.
"Looks like we keep bumping into each other," the person joked. Jake glanced up to see Rose. "Nice to see you again."
Somehow or another, Jake managed to say, "I thought you moved to Hong Kong."
"My mom and I didn't like it there, so we moved back," she explained as they stood. "My dad's trying to get a transfer back to New York, while my mom's working to get a job here." She stuck out her hand. "We never officially met. I'm Rose Thompson."
Jake glanced at her hand—no birthmark. "Jake Long," he replied finally, shaking it. "Are you going to Negete-Guzelian?"
"Yeah, if we're lucky enough to stay here," Rose answered.
"Well, my mom has a catering company, and I'm sure she'd be happy to help out," Jake offered.
"You'd ask?" Rose asked, and Jake nodded. "Thanks."
Trixie nudged Jake in the back to get him to say something, and finally, he said, "These are my friends, Trixie and Spud. We were just going to see a movie. You want to come with us?"
"It's no problem with us," Trixie insisted.
"Yeah, the more the merrier," Spud agreed. "Especially with those cheesy kung-fu movies."
"Hey, I like those cheesy kung-fu movies," Jake protested.
"Same here," Rose added.
"Really?" Jake asked in surprise. The Rose he'd known had liked them, but he wasn't sure how much would change.
"Yeah," Rose answered. "I'm even taking martial arts classes. I'm actually pretty good. My mom's glad that my hobbies keep me home, unlike my sister, who goes to a dance school in Paris."
"My little sister Haley's there for the summer," Jake said. "She won a scholarship at the gifted school."
"Wow, that's some coincidence," Rose noticed. "Hey, she wouldn't happen to be staying with Ms. Park from Fillmore, would she? Ivy mentioned running into her."
"Yeah!" Jake answered. "That's her, all right. Sun's a friend of the family."
"Hey, Jakie, Rose, hate to break up the moment, but the movie starts in ten minutes," Trixie pointed out. "If we're going, we better get moving."
The quartet walked off toward the theater, and finally things felt right. But this time, Jake knew they'd do things differently. Rose had never been Huntsgirl, so Trixie and Spud trusted her. Maybe now, instead of a trio and a couple, they'd make a full team of four. And maybe, when the time came, Jake would re-introduce Rose to his life.
"So, Rose, I know this sounds like a weird question, but what do you think of dragons?" Jake asked.
"They're not bad, I guess," Rose answered. "We saw a lot of dragon designs in Hong Kong. Why do you ask?"
"It's kind of a family thing," he replied. "I just wanted to know."
Oh yes. This second chance seemed so much better than their first.
I don't own American Dragon: Jake Long. I originally wrote this immediately after "Homecoming" aired in the U.S., but I'd only put it on my LiveJournal. I've cleaned it up since then and decided to post it here. As this was written before the remaining episodes aired, it runs in its own little AU where "Homecoming" was the series finale and there were no loose ends tied up with Rotwood, the Huntskids, or anyone or anything else. Rose's last name is a play on Rose Thomas from the anime Full Metal Alchemist, and 88 and 89 take their first names from their voice actors.
Re-edited as of March 28, 2008: Scene breaks fixed and a couple of name changes. 88's last name is now Baxter, a joke on Kyle Massey's character in Cory in the House and That's So Raven, and Rose's sister is now named Ivy as a joke on Huntsgirl's original name, Thorn. When Thorn was unusable because of DC Comics having the naming convention for a character already, Disney changed it. Ivy is a joke on another DC Comics character, Poison Ivy.