There was no response at all.
The boy rolled in his sleep, but stayed oblivious to the voice.
The boy slumbered on.
Determined to get her older brother's attention this time, Haley whispered to herself, "mouth of the dragon." She took a deep breath, feeling the fire deep in her belly. Then, knowing it wouldn't hurt Jake, though he was in human form, let it loose. The fire hit him square in the face. She smiled sweetly, expecting him to yell at her, but he only popped an eye open.
"What." He didn't even have enough energy to make his question sound like a question.
"Mommy says you have to make me lunch. She says she'll be back at four o'clock with Daddy."
"Get your own lunch." He pulled the blanket up closer to his neck, ignoring Haley.
"But ... But Mommy said for you to." Haley insisted.
Jake opened both eyes, glaring. "Haley you are eleven fucking years old. Get your own goddamn food."
"Language, Jake!" Haley gasped.
"I don't give a shit!"
"Jake, I'm hungry." Haley insisted. "Please, I want some lunch."
"Get the fuck out of my room. I can't make you fucking lunch. Get it yourself."
"Jake," Haley whined, tears pooling in her eyes. Why was her big brother being like this? When had Jake gotten so mean? "Please -"
"HALEY!" Jake roared. He sat up in bed, the blanket falling off his bare chest. "I HAVE NO FUCKING TIME! GET OUT!"
Haley didn't fight this time; didn't press. She fled Jake's room, going straight into her own. She shut the door very quietly so as not to disturb him again. She sat with her back against the door, her mind processing the scene. She and Jake had never gotten along, not really. The age gap - six years - had put them at odds ever since he had entered puberty. After Jake and herself had gotten into one of their petty arguments she had often heard her mother saying to her father "once they're both adults they will be so close".
But despite their regular, loud and rather juvenile arguments, Jake had always loved her. And she had always loved Jake. There had never been a doubt in Haley's mind that her big brother would do anything to protect her; that he would always be there for her. Never had she wondered if he would ever hurt her, because she knew he wouldn't. Sometimes he would go a little too far with his name calling or make a mistake, but he would always try to fix it. Always be there.
But him yelling at her like that. He hadscared her. And he hadn't sounded a bit like Jake. He had sounded like a crazy man. She felt like, if she hadn't left his room when she did, Jake would have had no hesitation throwing her out, literally. She curled around herself. She didn't want to believe that Jake would hurt her. But he would have. She felt tears on her cheeks. She wanted Mommy. This never would have happened if Mommy had been home.
However, his voice hadn't been the only thing in that room that scared her.
When he had sat up and more than his face had been exposed, Haley had honestly felt a flash of hate for her grandfather. Because who else but Grandpa would have put Jake in that position? Mentally, she reviewed what she had seen. There had been long gashes across both sides of his ribs; a nasty bite mark was on his upper chest, probably a matching side on his back, like something had grabbed him by the shoulder. His entire torso had been bruised a dark black. Not only was she scared of Jake, she was also scared for him.
Haley would admit to worrying about Jake. He was, after all, the American Dragon and had run into his fair share of problems and enemies like the evil magician Pandarus, the ever infamous Huntsclan and the most dangerous of all, the Dark Dragon. As the American Dragon, Jake had a lot of responsibilities and duties. He had a lot expected of him. Haley was glad that she would never have to bear any sort of dragon title. She would just be a dragon, plain and simple. She would help Jake, and those who needed her, when it was called upon her, but she would never ever be the sworn protector of anything. Not unless something serious happened to Jake. And now she was scared that it would. Whatever had gotten Jake last night, she prayed he had defeated it.
A knock startled her out of her deep thoughts.
"Hales?" Jake's voice was calm now, quiet and raspy.
"Yes, Jake?" She was proud that she didn't sound upset in the least.
"Uh, do you wanna come downstairs? I'll make my homemade pizza."
She knew that this was a peace offering. Jake hated cooking anything that required more effort than sticking something in the microwave. Even persuading him to use the oven could be a stretch sometimes. But he made a really great pizza when you could convince him to. Haley put a smile on her face and opened the door. "With pepperoni?"
"What about mushrooms?"
"If we have them."
"And extra cheese?" Haley grabbed his hand, feeling so much younger than eleven as she dragged her seventeen year old brother to the kitchen.
"Haley, put what you want on the pizza on the counter, okay? I'm going to start the dough."
"Okay!" As Jake began to prepare the crust, swiftly covering everything in flour, she began to pile the counters. Tomato sauce, cheese (two different kinds), mushrooms (real ones, not the ones from the can), sausage, pepperoni, green pepper, bacon, and a tiny bit of ham. Jake handed her a cheese grater.
As she stood there, grating cheese, she looked at him. He had put his old red jacket on, zipped all the way up, even though it was super-hot outside. As he kneaded the dough, she noticed split knuckles. Her stomach twisted. As a dragon, she knew that they healed faster in dragon form and that injuries sustained in dragon form would transfer to human form. But she also knew that they didn't transfer well. Whatever happened in their other body would not be as bad once they changed back. She couldn't help but wince, realizing what Jake must have felt like while as a dragon.
"Hales, I think that's enough cheese."
She looked down at her pile. "I want a stuffed crust," she decided.
"Okay, but still, I think we're good. Start on the other ingredients." They worked in complete silence. He stretched the dough; she prepared the ingredients while watching him.
As he worked, stretching out his muscles, he would cringe in pain quite often. She felt bad. For waking him up and accepting his offer of a pizza. He should still be in bed. He hadn't been home when she had gone to bed last night, and she had stayed up late, sneakily finishing her book. And, even doing something as simple as working dough was killing him. It shouldn't be. She knew Jake. He was on a strict workout schedule that pushed him to the limits of his abilities and then some.
"What?" He was busy preparing her stuffed crust before moving onto the tomato sauce.
"What happened to you last night?" She held her breath, hoping angry Jake wouldn't make a reappearance.
"Nothing, okay? It was just something that I had to take care of, for Gramps."
"But, Jake, you're hurt. I saw you this morning."
"Haley, drop it. I'm fine. I'll heal. And I'll probably suffer worse before I surrender my duties to the next kid." She opened her mouth, but he anticipated her next statement, "don't you dare tell Mom."
"I wouldn't tell Mom," Haley protested and she wouldn't. Mom would understand. She wouldn't be happy about it, but she would tend to Jake's wounds and hope that her son didn't come to anymore harm. Mom had accepted that Jake would get hurt and that she just had to be there to help him, but Dad wouldn't get it. Dad would go all crazy protective and never let Jake out of the house again.
"Or Dad." Jake layered the ingredients heavily over the pizza, shoving it into the oven. "I mean it Haley." There was a hard edge to his voice that made her nod.
He dragged himself back up the stairs to bed and when the timer for the pizza went off, he didn't even stir. Haley pulled the pizza out herself, and, while letting it cool a little, she called Fu.
Fu arrived in a matter of minutes, eagerly reaching for the pizza. Jake's pizzas were not to be passed up. "No." Haley stopped him. "We have to talk."
She carried the pizza up to her bedroom, checking on Jake as she passed his room. He was out cold, sprawled across his bed. He didn't even have the energy to drive her up the wall with his snoring. She closed his bedroom door. She set the pizza on her desk.
"So, what's so urgent?" Fu asked.
"Jake. I'm worried about him." Haley admitted.
"Kid, calm down. He's the American Dragon, he's going to run into some difficulties." Fu assured her. "He'll be fine."
"Fu," Haley's eyes were filled with tears, "there is no way he's fine."
"So he gets a bump or a bruise. So he's a little tired. It comes with the territory. It'll get easier once he's an adult and no longer has to go to school."
Haley grabbed Fu and dragged him to Jake's room. Jake had thrown off his jacket after returning to bed, and Haley saw that his back was just as bad as his front, with multiple bite and claw marks along with the always present bruises.
"What the hell happened to him?" Fu demanded, eyes wide.
"Shouldn't you know? He was out late last night, doing something for Gramps."
Fu shook his head. "We never saw Jake yesterday. Gramps was meeting an old friend out in magic town so I decided to, uh, do what the Fu does. Jake was on his own all night. His only order was to get a good night's sleep."
"He said he was doing something for Gramps." Haley repeated. "What did this to him? Why did he lie?"
Fu crept closer to the sleeping Jake, scared to wake the boy. He did something that Haley couldn't make out. When Fu turned back to face her, his face was stony, in a way she had never seen Fu's face before. "Haley, go call your parents. Tell them to get home so they can watch you. Then call Gramps and tell him to get over here as soon as possible."
"Fu, what's going on?"
"Haley," Fu snapped, before delving deep into one of his wrinkles. "Just go." She saw him pull out a potion bottle before running for the phone.
Gramps had arrived minutes before her parents. "Here's the story," he said quickly, "you couldn't get Jake to wake up, so you called me. Understood?"
"Yes," she nodded. Her stomach felt queasy. Something was wrong. Something was terribly, terribly wrong. It was confirmed when Gramps, instead of using some glamorous, magical remedy called 911. That was one of their main rules. Dragons never ever call a regular doctor. Things were different in their bodies than in a regular human's.
Three days later, Haley first heard the words "crystal meth" and her brother used in the same sentence. That was the day her mother had sat down with her and explained everything. Jake had been taking the drugs for about three months now. Since he was a dragon, the effects had wreaked havoc on his body. Some of the things that happened with normal humans still happened to Jake, other symptoms didn't, some symptoms were unique to him. For the next two months, July and August, Jake was being sent to a rehab center a twenty minute drive away. When he returned, he would be living with Gramps and Fu for his final year of high school. After the school year was out, then college options would be considered.
"Is he going to be okay?" Haley whimpered.
Susan stroked her daughter's hair. "Yes, honey. It might be scary now, but when he comes home, everything will be fine again."
"Even though he's not going to be living with us?"
"Your grandfather asked to take him, and I really couldn't say no. This probably has something to do with the pressure from his dragon issues and Jake will be freer to be himself living with Gramps, rather than hiding it from your father."
"Why not tell Dad?" Haley asked. "Wouldn't that make things easier, us being a family again instead of him being away?"
"You know, I've thought about it Haley, but what if your dad reacts badly? It would only make things worse. This is better kept a secret, at least for now. Okay?"
Haley nodded. "Okay."
This chapter was edited by Noble6. I don't own American Dragon: Jake Long.