Author's Note: This plot bunny hit me literally as I was walking out of the theater after seeing The Sorcerer's Apprentice. There will be eventual Balthazar/Dave slash. Don't like, don't read. Flames will just be laughed at.

Disclaimer: Do not own. Property of Disney, et al. I'm just playing in their sandbox for a little while.

Dragon's Heir

Chapter One: Sorcerer's Duel

David Stutler was sure of one thing. If he made it out of this alive, he was going to listen to everything his mother told him. Eat your vegetables, look both ways before crossing the street, don't talk to strangers…

Yeah, he decided, scrambling out of the way as the fighting wizards, or whatever they were, got even closer, definitely that one about not talking to strangers. If he got out of this in one piece, he was never going to speak to another stranger for as long as he lived.

A crash startled him, and he yelped as a small, metal statue came crashing off a shelf to hit the floor inches from his feet. The statue rolled toward him as the ground shifted, violently, beneath him from an explosion. He grabbed the statue before it could roll away, clutching it convulsively to his chest as he scurried backward to take shelter under a desk.

Another explosion rocked the building, blowing out the storefront windows with a deafening crash of glass. The explosion was followed by a sheet of fire that left Bug Guy's hands to race around the walls of the shop, closing rapidly in on the other wizard. His wizard made a shooing gesture with his hand, and the fires died down, leaving scorch marks surrounding him on the floor.

To Dave, it looked like Bug Guy was winning, and he knew, instinctively, that it was not good. He cringed, biting down on his lower lip to keep from crying out as his wizard, the one who'd given him his ring, was thrown into a bookshelf, bringing the heavy shelving down on him as he fell to the floor.

Wait a minute, his ring. Dave stared at the small dragon wound around his finger, thinking. It had gotten them into this mess, maybe it could get them out. His hands were shaking as he held them out, aiming the ring at the fighting wizards. He focused on Bug Guy, imaging something slamming into him, just like he'd done when the wall had cracked open.

But, nothing happened, and Dave clenched his fists in frustration, holding his breath in anticipation as he made himself concentrate harder on shoving Buy Guy away from his wizard. He could feel pressure building behind his eyes, like the headaches he got sometimes, and then with a quiet pop, the pressure was gone.

At the same time, Bug Guy stumbled backward several steps, as though something had pushed him, and his wizard took advantage of the distraction to hit Bug Guy with another glowing ball. Forgetting himself, Dave let out a quiet cheer, and Bug Guy's head snapped around at the sound, his cold eyes staring right at him.

Dave whimpered in fear, inching backward into the hollow of the desk, as though it could protect him. What had first looked like a sturdy, wooden cave was now looking really small and flimsy. And, with a growing horror, he realized that there was nothing between him and Bug Guy but the scattered pieces of broken relics. A slow smile spreading over his face, Bug Guy started toward him, his hands outstretched.

A low, growling sound filled the air, and a second later, Bug Guy went flying through the air to slam into the far wall. His wizard stalked forward, energy crackling at his fingertips as he placed himself squarely between Dave and Bug Guy.

"No," he snarled, his voice sounding like the Henderson's Rottweiler when it was growling at the mailman. "You're not touching him."

Bug Guy smirked, standing up, and Dave really didn't like the look on his face. He looked like all the bullies who liked to corner him and beat him up after school.

"Do you really think that you can stop me, Balthazar?" he asked, a mocking tone in his voice. "I'm getting that Grimhold, one way or another."

"Run, Dave," Balthazar said, never taking his eyes off Bug Guy. "Get out of here, now."

Dave did as he was told, scrambling out from under the desk and heading for the door. He let the statue fall to the floor with a dull clunk, but the weird, red doll, which he'd almost forgotten about, was still tucked underneath his arm. He clutched the doll to his chest as he ran, focusing only on the door, ignoring the wizards behind him. That was how he missed the rug that bunched up under his feet, sending him sprawling on the hard floor as he lost his grip on the doll.

The doll rolled across the floor to rest against the closed door, evading his grasping hands as he tried desperately to grab it. Behind him, he heard a low chuckle, and he knew without even looking that Bug Guy was coming toward him. Rolling onto his back, he stared up at the approaching monster, fearfully. He couldn't move, couldn't make himself crawl away, he could only watch as Bug Guy got closer and closer.

Then, with a yell, Balthazar tackled Bug Guy, knocking him to the floor. Locked together, they rolled into the big vase that Dave had almost knocked over, earlier, the one that Balthazar had said held a pirate's wife.

The vase fell over, making a hollow, booming sound as it hit the ground, and the lid popped off to roll across the floor. And then Dave watched in astonishment as Bug Guy, who was closest, started to get sucked inside the vase. He almost cheered until he realized that Balthazar was still holding onto Bug Guy, and that if he let go, Bug Guy would be able to get away from the vase.

"Dave, run!" Balthazar snapped out, grunting in pain as Bug Guy's elbow connected hard with his face.

There was a crunching noise like his nose had just broken, and Dave winced in sympathy. But, Balthazar held grimly on, even as he was being dragged closer and closer to the vase.

"I said go!" Balthazar yelled, and Dave thought that he could hear fear in the older man's voice.

Numbly, he shook his head, even as he wondered just what the hell he was doing. Before he could even think about it, he'd lunged forward, grabbing Balthazar's arm in his hands and digging his heels into the floor.

"Not you," he gritted out, holding on tightly as he felt himself being dragged across the floor along with them. "Don't want you to go."

"Let go!" Balthazar cried, and now there was desperation in his voice, desperation and fear, as they got closer and closer to the lip of the vase.

Bug Guy was almost completely inside the vase, now, leaving furrows in the floor as he dug in with his fingers to keep from being sucked in. Taking a chance, Dave freed one hand from his grip on Balthazar's arm, aiming his dragon ring at Bug Guy.

"Go away," he said, clearly, and the pressure that had been gathering behind his eyes burst out to slam into Bug Guy, driving him all the rest of the way into the vase.

Balthazar let go of the other man at the very last second, rolling away from the open mouth of the vase as the lid slammed back into place. A flick of his hand had the vase righting itself, rocking precariously before it settled on its base. Balthazar stared at the vase, breathing heavily with exertion, and he was quiet for so long that Dave thought that he'd been forgotten.

Then, to his amazement, he was being pulled across the floor and into Balthazar's arms, crushed against the man's chest as he hugged him, tightly. Dave could feel the Balthazar shaking underneath him, the wizard's heart beating an erratic rhythm against his cheek where it rested on the older man's chest.

"Don't you ever do that again," Balthazar scolded him, his voice coming out in a hoarse whisper. He held on even tighter as he added, "Don't you ever scare me like that, again."

"Yes, sir," Dave said, quietly, hesitantly putting his arms around Balthazar in a hug.

After a few seconds, he hugged him, tighter, snuggling against the older man's chest. It felt nice, being hugged like this, safe in a way that he hadn't felt since his dad had died. To his surprise, Balthazar didn't protest the embrace; he just let out a quiet sigh and tucked Dave more closely against him, resting his chin on top of Dave's head.

After about a minute, Dave reluctantly pulled away, straightening his jacket as he looked at Balthazar, who was still sitting slumped against the wall.

"Balthazar?" he asked, and the older man looked over at him, curiously. "Are all wizards as cool as you?"

"Sorcerers," Balthazar corrected him, with a small smile. "And, no. I'm in a class by myself."

"That bug guy," Dave ventured, shooting a nervous look at the seemingly-innocent vase. "Is he gone for good?"

"Well, for ten years," Balthazar told him. "I'm sure by then that I'll have found a way to deal with him permanently."

Dave had one more question, the big one, but he was too nervous to ask it. But, Balthazar must have seen something on his face because he nudged Dave's foot with his own.

"Something else on your mind?" he asked, quietly.

"Am I still your apprentice?" Dave asked in a rush, afraid that the answer was going to be no.

He'd screwed up by letting Bug Guy out of the weird doll, after all. And he hadn't listened to Balthazar when he told him to run. Why would Balthazar want someone like him for an apprentice?

But, to his surprise, Balthazar was smiling at him, an expression that lit up his whole face. Reaching over, he tousled Dave's hair, making him smile, involuntarily.

"Of course you're still my apprentice," he said, and Dave let out a breath that he hadn't even been aware of holding. "Now, come, Grasshopper. We have a lot of work to do."