A/N- I am SOOO sorry that this took so long! I've had band camp for the past week, which has made it really hard to get online and actually get anything typed up. I've been exhausted every day when I get home, so I haven't really wanted to do anything but chill out on the couch and take a nap. (Four hours of marching does that to you, apparently... :P )
The next chapter will probably take a little while too, though I'll try my best to get it up as soon as I can! Thank you for being patient!
"Is it wrong that I don't miss them?"
Balthazar looked up from the book he was reading, frowning. "I'm not exactly the best person to be asking about this, Dave."
Dave was sitting in the Merlin's Circle indian-style, his elbows on his knees and his chin resting in his hands. He was staring at the ceiling, his conflicted emotions showing on his tired face.
"Just answer, Balthazar. I just want to have someone's opinion that isn't mine."
"The morally correct answer would be, 'Of course it's wrong. They were your parents, you should miss them on some emotional level.'" He snorted, rolling his eyes. "What I really think? You don't have to miss them. You don't have to feel anything for them. In all of the years that I have lived through, I have learned that you can't help some things." Dave's head tilted down slightly so he could send Balthazar a questioning look. "Like... You can't help it if you feel angry. You can't help it if you are upset about something." Balthazar shrugged, uncomfortable with the topic. "There are some things one can't control. It's part of being human."
Dave mulled over this, his gaze wandering to the ground in front of him.
Balthazar let the book he was holding flop closed. It fell from his hands to one of the multiple tables in the lab, the slap of its cover and the surface of the table echoing. Uncertainly, he made his way over to his apprentice, placing a hand on his shoulder.
"It's not a crime to hate, Dave," Balthazar murmured gently, his thumb tracing circles on Dave's skin.
Dave pushed himself to his feet, inadvertently removing Balthazar's hand from his form. "I don't..." He swallowed, his back facing Balthazar. "I don't really hate them. I think... I think I hate that they took away any chance of me having a normal family. That's all."
Balthazar said nothing, allowing Dave to vent in his own stammering way.
"I don't miss them... But I don't hate them."
Balthazar didn't have the heart to call Dave out on his lie this one time.
Melanie growled, slamming a fist onto the table.
"I'm telling you that he's guilty!" She snapped, glaring at the people around her. Jeremy rolled his eyes, leaning his elbows on the metal table in front of their team. "This kid was totally nervous, and his answers rarely matched up!"
"Did you ever think that maybe the kid was nervous because he was being questioned by a cop?" Jeremy raised an eyebrow challengingly, inwardly smirking when he saw the woman's face turn red with anger. "Dave's a twenty year old that has no evidence of any criminal activity. It would be unnerving for him to have to speak with an intimidating investigator like you, Melanie."
Her face twisted into a scowl. "That wasn't why he was nervous. He was fine until I started questioning him."
"Then that just means he was uncomfortable about the topic of conversation," Jeremy retorted, his temper gradually beginning to fray. "It doesn't mean that he is guilty."
"Why are you defending him?" Her voice was exasperated. "You weren't the one to spend hours talking to him."
"I'm just saying that it doesn't mean he was guilty just because he was nervous." Jeremy sighed, tiring of the conversation. "Anxiety could mean anything. He could have had a crush on you, he might have been having an off day, he might just be a paranoid person... It could be ANYTHING, Melanie. We can't just automatically assume that he's the one that killed those people."
"Call it a feeling, but I know he did it."
"Call it a feeling, but I know he didn't do it." He mocked, sneering as he got out of his seat and stormed out of the door.
Balthazar was reluctant to let Dave out of his sight, not wanting the young sorcerer to leave the house. He was wary, unsure if Dave would be able to protect himself from Morganians with his emotional turmoil. The mental unease he had from his parents' death was only a few days old, and it would be far too easy for them to distract him, keeping him from being able to clear his mind for spells. Dave was persistent, though, not wanting to be cooped up in the house any longer then Balthazar had already made him stay. Sitting in a house for almost a week with nothing to do but read his Incantus and science books was beginning to get boring.
"I'll be fine," Dave insisted, taking a bite out of the apple he was holding as he ran out the door. Slinging his backpack over his shoulder, he waved goodbye to Balthazar. "Later!"
He snickered lightly when he heard Balthazar's exasperated sigh. Disappearing down the street, he stuck one hand into his pocket, the other one reaching for the gold chain lying on his chest.
Fingering the necklace, he mentally reprimanded himself for not remembering to ask Balthazar about it. It wasn't like the man to just hand him something without giving an explanation. Even if it was just something like a cup of water, he always clarified whatever action he was doing. At least, he had always clarified his actions ever since Dave demanded answers from him.
His fingers twitched as he thought back to their first few days together. Their relationship had been tense, to put it mildly. Balthazar had needed Dave's trust to be able to teach him. Dave hadn't been able to trust Balthazar, needing a legitimate reason to place his trust in the older man. Balthazar had been desperate, needing Dave to learn as fast as possible in order to ensure Morgana's defeat. Dave had been confused and frightened, unable to grasp the severity of the situation.
It was obvious to anyone they were in a tough position.
Dave, admittedly, hadn't handled their situation as well as he should have. In his defense, he wasn't used to blindly trusting anyone. Balthazar had popped up out of nowhere, basically informing Dave that he had to save the world within a few days' time.
Dave wasn't a trusting or believing person. He needed solid facts and evidence to fully place his faith in anything. Balthazar, while he had given him evidence to believe in magic, hadn't given him proof of his claims.
How was Dave supposed to know that he was fighting for the right side? How was Dave supposed to know that he wasn't helping the villain? How was Dave supposed to know that Balthazar was even who he said he was?
Dave had finally hit his breaking point after one of their encounters with Horvath. With their enemy talking about "her" and the Prime Merlinian, it had heightened Dave's fright to the point where he had panicked.
He had demanded answers from his master, his eyes pleading for information. He was a man of science; He needed information to function. When there were holes in his knowledge, he had to fill them as soon as possible.
He had been scared.
And when Balthazar finally answered, finally told him what he was born to do, Dave had acted irrationally, something he cursed himself for doing afterward.
He ran, babbling the entire time and nearly ruining his and Balthazar's already unstable relationship. He ran away like a coward.
He would never forgive himself for that moment of weakness.
In his entire life, he had never run away. When his mother had come home, angry with him for coming home yet again with a note from his teacher, he had stood his ground, staring at his feet in shame. When Vergil had disciplined him, his voice smooth and sly, causing him to have doubts about himself, he stayed, rooted to the spot and handling the words as best as he could.
Running away had never crossed his mind. He may have been many different things. A loser, a socially awkward boy, an insane freak... But a coward was not one of them.
He had never been so ashamed in himself.
And when he was running back into his lab, barely saving Balthazar from having knives imbedded into his face, he knew that he wouldn't of been capable of leaving forever, even if he wanted to.
He needed Balthazar, as cliché as that sounded. He needed magic, he needed to learn more, he needed everything Balthazar had to offer him. Leaving it behind... It wouldn't of been possible. He subconsciously craved the presence of the first person to notice him and to treat him like a person.
Balthazar, whether he knew it or not, had Dave wrapped around his finger. Balthazar, if he desired it, could battle the Prime Merlinian at full power, intending to hurt him, and Dave wouldn't fight back. He wouldn't be able to. *
Dave had caught Balthazar's eyes as they ran into his car after Horvath and Drake, his own eyes begging for forgiveness.
Balthazar's eyes never wavered as he gave a single nod, reassuring him. Forgiving him.
Ever since then, Balthazar had explained everything he did. Whether it be helping him to his feet, or handing him a mug of warm milk, he explained and described whatever he was doing. In return, Dave tried his best to work harder. He tried to be more understanding with his master.
Which brought Dave back to his original thoughts about the necklace Balthazar had given him out of the blue.
The simple design of it led him to believe it didn't mean anything. Maybe Balthazar just wanted him to have something to let him know he wasn't alone.
On the other hand, the plain composition of the item could also make it mean something. It could hold some sort of purpose, which needed to look plain so it wouldn't draw attention.
Dave shook his head, rolling his eyes as he let the necklace fall from his fingers, lying against his chest once more. He was over thinking things, as usual. It wasn't an uncommon occurrence for him to make a big deal over nothing. All he had to do was wait until after school. He could ask Balthazar about it when he got home.
Until then, he would let it slip to the back of his mind.
Police, Balthazar decided bitterly, were some of the most annoying creatures to ever be created.
"Look, it's just a few more questions, and then we'll, hopefully, never have to bother him again," The woman hissed out through gritted teeth.
Balthazar tilted his head to the side, inquiring curiously, "What's your name again? It's completely slipped my mind at the moment."
"Melanie Cameron." Her tone was irritated.
"Well, Miss Cameron," Balthazar's tone was pleasant as he crossed his arms, leaning against the doorway casually. "I will let Dave know."
When she opened her mouth, most likely to persist in seeing him now, he added, equally pleasant to his earlier statement, "So leave. Like, now."
With an affronted, offended glare, she huffed, spinning on her heel and stalking out to their driveway. Her red hair bounced behind her, and Balthazar could imagine angry steam pouring out of her ears.
He smirked, slamming the door shut loudly. It never ceased to amaze him how amusing it was to annoy stupid people.
Dave shot up in his seat, the hairs on the back of his neck rising. Eyes darting around, his hand clenched into a fist, spells flashing through his mind. His posture was rigid, his thoughts immediately turning to how to best solve what was about to happen. Magic was sizzling in the air. He felt it prickling at his skin, increasing his paranoia.
Taking a deep breath, he forced himself to calm down. He didn't flinch when the bell rang and nearly every student sprinted out of their seats. It didn't take long for the last lingering students to leave. Once they were gone, Dave flicked a finger at the door, shutting it quietly.
"You're good," A feminine voice complimented him from behind. "Though I should have expected such from the defeater of Morgana."
Dave turned, grinning nervously. "Er, thanks?"
A blond-haired, older woman was glaring at him. She was sitting on top of one of the many desks, her legs crossed at the ankle, barely visible beneath her long denim skirt. She was at least in her late thirties, if not her early forties. Her eyes were a cold, dark blue, with little crow's feet at the edges of them. Jewelry adorned her frame, and a rustic colored shawl was draped across her shoulders.
"Well, aren't you a cute little kid?" She spat, pushing herself off of the desk and making a striking motion with her arm in one fluid motion. Dave dove to the ground as light blue flames flew past him.
"I'm assuming that wasn't a compliment this time..." Dave grumbled, ducking once more as more flames were thrown in his direction. "Can I ask why you're attacking?"
"'Why'?" She laughed, storming forward. Dave jumped to his feet, backing up until he hit the wall. With a wince, he realized he would have to fight back if he didn't want to be burnt to death by the woman. She slammed a hand by his head, and he pressed himself further against the wall. "Because you know what I've spent my entire life doing, kid? I've trained and learned everything I possibly could about magic. Ever since I was nine, I've been training!"
Dave quickly blocked her other hand from hitting him across the face, grabbing it and pushing it outwards.
"And yet, here you are!" She snarled, stomping on his foot to try and keep him in place. "You, a kid that didn't have to go through anything to get powerful! You had it handed to you on a silver platter! You had it given to you! You didn't have to do anything! You-!"
Dave took advantage of this moment. Slamming a fist outwards, the woman was thrown backwards, flying through the air. She fell to the ground with a yell, falling awkwardly on, ironically enough, Dave's usual seat.
With a growl, she jumped to her feet and pointed a glowing hand at Dave.
"You're finished, kid. Finished. I trained for my entire life to gain glory, and I'll be damned if I let you continue getting that glory!"
Dave wasn't able to move fast enough to avoid the green beam of light that hit him. His pupils dilated to pinpricks, and his skin gained a gaunt appearance. The strange woman grinned victoriously, stalking forward slowly.
Knees buckling, he fell to the ground, one attempting to grasp at the wall, while the other shoved against his ear. His mouth was open in a silent scream, eyes slamming shut tightly. He finally leaned against the wall, using both hands to cover his ears.
Words from his past roared in his ears, overlapping each other. It was unbearable, and a complete mess, yet he could understand every painful syllable he heard.
"You deserve this."
"What are you doing? That's wrong!"
"Your so weird! Go away! We don't want you here!"
"I hate you. I hate you so much, David."
Every single hurtful word spoken to him in his life was brought to the forefront of his thoughts. They shouted and roared in his ears, lingering there. They overlapped each other, taking their time and making sure Dave felt the full sting of the words.
He whimpered, curling in on himself. It hurt, both physically and emotionally. His head was pounding, and each word cut him, deepening hardly healed wounds.
"P-please stop..." He choked out hysterically. "Please! J-just make it stop!"
Over the loudness, over everything that was bellowing at him, he could vaguely make out a calm voice that was commonly known to him.
After what seemed like an eternity of endless voices, he felt a hand press against his forehead. A spark of something akin to electricity hit him, flowing through his body briefly, before calming blackness utterly engulfed him into its waiting arms.
A/N- So there you have it! Chapter 5! Hope to see reviews from you guys if you can! Thanks for reading!