Title: Conservation of Energy

Author: Jedi Buttercup

Rating: K+

Summary: Sorcerer's Apprentice. Drake was in absolutely no shape to fight the Merlinian sorcerer, even if he had still been wearing his ring; the absence of it on his finger ached like a raw wound. 1500 words.

Disclaimer: The words are mine; the world is Disney's.

Spoilers: The Sorcerer's Apprentice (2010)

Notes: 3rd in my post-movie sequence. Because a few more 'plot points' asked for a coherent explanation, and because I thought Drake got a pretty raw deal.

Awareness returned to Drake slowly, muffled by a thick sensation as though his thoughts had been wrapped in cotton wool. He felt exhausted, as though he'd spent an entire day casting plasma bolts for his first master; his skin was unpleasantly dry, as though he hadn't moisturized in a week; and the cloth covering him was scratchy in a way that spoke of an unpleasantly low thread count.

Considering the last thing he remembered? He knew exactly where this had to be. Hell.

That thought was sufficiently demotivational to prod him back to unconsciousness again the first several times he awakened far enough to remember it. Eventually, though, he found sufficient energy and willpower to open his eyes to face his depressing fate. Bright lights blinded him; and when he moved a hand to shield his eyes he found something sticking out of it. It took him a moment to recognize it- but when he did, his heart lifted. An I.V. meant a hospital, which meant he might have actually survived.

"Hello, Drake," a dry voice interrupted his thoughts, from distressingly nearby.

Drake flinched, dropping his hand again as he looked up; and sure enough, there was Horvath's old rival, standing next to the head of his bed. The man looked exactly the same as he had when he'd thrown Drake across the bathroom at NYU- leather trench coat, woolen vest, scraggly hair, and all. Drake leaned away from him instinctively, and not just because of the man's complete lack of fashion sense.

"Are you here to kill me?" he blurted, surprised the man hadn't already acted.

Balthazar Blake stared back at him, slowly lifting one eyebrow before deigning to reply. "That would hardly be sporting, now would it?" he said, looking Drake over from head to toe. "Considering the circumstances. I'm guessing this was Horvath's work?"

Drake shifted, trying to pull his elbows in to brace himself higher on the bed, but his limbs were too sluggish to hold his weight; he collapsed back onto his pillow, feeling as though he'd just run a mile. He was in absolutely no shape to fight the Merlinian sorcerer, even if he had still been wearing his ring; the absence of it on his finger ached like a raw wound. Perhaps he really was in Hell; what else could he call the reality of having been stripped of his magic?

He looked back up at Blake, resigned to the necessity of answering. Best not give the man any excuse to rethink his offer of mercy. "He called it a parasite spell," he said, pulling his mouth into a sour line. "Haitian, I think. He said it enables one sorcerer to steal the energy from another."

"Wait, you can do that?" another unpleasantly familiar voice piped up. Drake frowned, glancing past the sorcerer's shoulder- and sure enough, Blake's charmingly ignorant apprentice stood behind him. Dave something; Drake couldn't recall his last name. "I thought the ability to use magic was, you know. Inborn," the kid continued.

Drake curled his lip, but waited for the other sorcerer to answer; clearly, Dave hadn't been addressing him.

"It is, Dave," Blake said, in an inscrutably mild tone. "You remember what I told you about how a sorcerer's abilities work?"

Drake rolled his eyes at the evasive question. Cooperation was one thing; but Drake Stone would never be anyone's doormat. That was the whole foundation of the Morganian order, after all: their foremistress' declaration that she would be no one's servant. "What am I, a teaching aid?" he sneered.

Blake lifted a hand, the gem on his index finger glowing an unpleasant shade of yellow-green. Drake felt a tingling sensation in his lips, and swallowed at the complete lack of change in the man's expression.

"You were saying?" Blake said, dryly. Then he turned his attention back to his apprentice, glancing back over his shoulder at the shabbily dressed college boy. "Dave?"

Dave swallowed visibly as well; Drake felt a smidge bit better to see that, though most of his relief, he assured himself, was related to the fading light in Blake's ring as the imposing sorcerer lowered his hand to hear the answer to his question.

"Sorcerers manipulate matter with their minds," Dave said, frowning at his master. "The solidity of matter is an illusion; we can alter the vibration of individual molecules..."

Blake cut the boy's obvious recitation off at that point. "Yes. And what does science have to tell us about the relationship between matter and energy?"

"That they're basically two sides of the same coin," Dave replied, shrugging. "Yeah, yeah, I got that from the thing with the plasma bolts, and creating fire out of air, and all that, but seriously- stealing energy right out of someone's nervous system? You can actually, like, manipulate existing energy like that, rather than converting it?"

Blake nodded, solemnly. "Similar principles apply," he said. "And it has the advantage of temporarily increasing your pool of available power, whereas converting electricity from your environment has rather the opposite effect. Though active magical energy borrowed from a living being does tend to retain the 'flavor', if you will, of the sorcerer it was borrowed from."

"My ring," Drake interjected bitterly, curling his naked finger toward his palm. "He must have needed it to channel my power."

Dave's frown grew deeper. "But he didn't try to take my power when he took Merlin's ring, and it gave him a boost anyway."

Now it was Drake's turn to raise his eyebrow at Blake. "And I thought my education was lacking. What, haven't you told him about enchanted objects?"

Blake shrugged, a tiny rueful curl at one corner of his mouth. "Haven't really had the time. Kind of difficult to fill him in from the inside of the Emperor's Urn, and I only got out a couple weeks ago."

Drake snorted. "I don't suppose Horvath was in there with you? Because that would explain his rather inconvenient timing." He turned his attention back to the other young man. "I know you saw the Hungarian mirror spell, at least; and the shapechanging cars; and I'm sure your master dragged you into a Merlinian circle at some point?"

He waited for Dave's cautious nod, then continued. "Energy can be programmed into objects according to specific patterns, and triggered at a later date. Or encouraged to follow a specific channel. Or simply stored, like a magical battery. You have no idea how handy that can be on stage! Merlin wore that ring for centuries; I'd be shocked if he hadn't enchanted it somehow. So yes, Horvath would have got a boost from it. I damned well wish I'd got my hands on it; if I hadn't had him with me in that bathroom, I'd certainly have tried to."

In retrospect, allowing the old Morganian to order him around over the last few days hadn't been the brightest decision Drake had ever made. So he was practically the oldest member of their order alive, and far stronger in knowledge and ability than Drake himself; so what? He really should have listened to his instincts and covered his own arse.

Wait- was Horvath still the oldest member of the order alive? Considering the fact that Drake himself was still around, alive, in a hospital bed- had Blake and his 'Prime Merlinian' (and what a ridiculous title that was) managed to kill the old Hungarian sorcerer, or Morgana Le Fay herself, or both?

He opened his mouth to ask- but Blake was already ahead of him again. "Aht!" the sorcerer objected. "More questions later. The docs think you'll need a few more days of rest until they know whether you'll have any side effects from what they're calling a 'stroke'. You were nearly dead when your manicurist found you, you know; they had to jumpstart you a few times on the way to the hospital."

Well; that certainly explained the soreness in his chest. Drake lifted a hand to rub at his breastbone, dread filling him. "Until they know, you said."

"Yes, well. Horvath didn't exactly electrocute you; he just emptied your tank of gas, so to speak, and that made you stall out. I doubt the CPR would have caused a problem-" he shrugged, casting a mildly amused look at Dave again, "-so we'll give you a few days to recover, and then we'll see."

"See what?" Drake asked, defiantly.

"Whether I can let you have your ring back; or if I'll have to open the Grimhold again," Blake replied. "Because I've got to tell you, if you're what passes for a Morganian these days..."

"That's what Horvath said," Drake murmured irritably in reply, eyelids fluttering closed again as exhaustion overtook him.

He felt the unmistakable touch of a hand on his brow then. "Sleep, now," the sorcerer's voice chided him, for all the world like a stern parent. "I'm sure it'll all look better in the morning."

Soothed despite himself, Drake sighed and let go.