Chapter 12

Hey! Remember me? I got caught up in school work. Then I rewatched the movie, and fell in love with it all over again. Here we go!

A roar. A roar? In New York? Callisto thought, turning his head this way and that to try to pinpoint the direction which the noise came from. Something stirred deep in the teen's chest. A simple urge to find the roar became an instinctual pull. He needed to follow the call. He needed to find the one who was demanding his attention and presence.

Callisto's feet began to move before he could properly think about taking action. Step by step, he strode forward, running into people as much as he dodged around others. As he moved toward the sound, a distinct feeling of deja'vu settled over the teen. Somewhere in his mind he knew the path he was taking and knew the voice he was chasing. He had walked this way, staggered this way, and ran this way before. He had heard the voice, listened to this voice before.

Where? How?

A flicker of a distant memory flashed across the teen's mind. The outline of a blurred face and the whisper of a voice briefly came to the front of his memory. The smell of cigarette smoke twisted into that of a fire which burned long ago. A roar ripped through his being and shook his core. He knew the voice.

A mental map directed him and distinctly reminded him of each alleyway he passed by. Every light and turned corner directed him toward a destination that was already known. He already knew where 'X' marked the spot, and he already had found the treasure. Yet, it was foggy and surreal.

Perhaps it was all a dream. I never was here, just thought I was. It is only a resemblance of what I know and saw. Even as Callisto tried to explain the feeling away, he knew that it was only adding a new lie to his life.

A building, seen only due to the moonlight that washed over it vividly appeared in his subconscious. A window, glowing from a bright light within, stood as a stark contrast to the near blackness that surrounded it. A silhouette of a man, stubbornly standing, took a space in the window.

Which man?

Dark eyes.

Whose eyes?

Tan skin.

Whose skin?

Dyed hair.

So what?

Companion. Magic. Friend.

"Drake!"

Callisto suddenly stepped into a run, dashing through the streets and toward the illusionist's abode. He pushed his way through crowds, risked having a car not stop for him, and splashed those around him as he took to the curb and ran through puddles of tainted rain water.

A wind gusted against him as he ran, a cold laugh reverberating like needles against Callisto's pale skin. It pushed him back, fought with his willpower to move forward, and then, all at once, vanished into nothingness.

-/-

Drake was at war with himself. Simple and easy. Part of him wanted to go back and be reasonable. Another part of him felt betrayed and wanted to curl up and hide away for the rest of his life. A third part of him wanted to have his manicure redone, but there was no time for such petty things at the moment.

The illusionist rolled over but did not get up from his place on the floor. The carpet scratched against his skin, but he could not find the will needed to properly lift himself up and reposition himself on the couch he previously fell from in a bout of dramatic frustration. He needed a solid companion, someone he could lean on. Earlier that day, Drake thought he had found someone who still believed that he was worthwhile…someone who got along with him and didn't judge him solely on his fame and fortune.

And then, it was lost.

His one friend became a beast. A giant reptile that could breathe fire and eat people. His only foundation in a constantly shaking world was as broken as the magician was. He needed a stronghold, not a broken illusion. But why did that change anything? Why did this new found fact mean that Callisto was no longer able to carry his weight on occasion?

Because we are no longer on the same level of existence.

Callisto was a fantasy, a myth that was told to children of all ages to entertain and give a chance to learn moral lessons. A kingdom always was driven to destruction by a wicked dragon. A call was always given by a king. A wicked dragon always was confronted by a knight. A knight always defeated the wicked dragon. There was never a different outcome. There was never a nice dragon.

Except in Pete's Dragon. I love that movie. What if Callisto is like that?

Drake rolled onto his stomach and rested his chin on his crossed arms. A slow sigh was heaved from the illusionist. He let his eyes slide closed, hoping that the darkness would bring him some peace of mind. After a few moments of failed meditation, Drake reopened his eyes and let them focus on the first thing they saw.

Boots.

Black boots standing directly in front of him. The illusionist looked up the body standing before him. Black, ripped jeans covered unseen legs. A dark hoodie hid a body whose muscles could be seen rippling beneath the clothing with every movement the being made. Jet black hair fell past wide shoulders. An angular face stared down at Drake. Sunglasses covered the man's eyes.

"Drake. Fucking. Stone," the man sneered. "The boy-toy of the dragon."

The illusionist began to push himself up slowly, trying his best to not cause a reaction from the man. A tan hand moved from the man's side to the frame of his sunglasses. Pointed fingernails clipped onto the obscuring object. Drake moved his body onto his hands and knees, but never got farther. An invisible forced shoved him back to the ground and knocked the wind from his lungs. As he lay gasping, the sunglasses fell to the ground.

Black eyes looked up, meeting an eerily glowing crimson pair.

The illusionist began to scramble to his feet, but with a cock of the man's head, he was thrown to the side. The man shifted again, and he was tossed back to his original position.

"That is where you belong, Human. Lying, silent, at the feet of your superiors," the man sneered.

Drake opened his mouth to retort when a spark started a small fire to life at the feet of the other. He pushed himself backward into a sitting position. "Who are you? What are you doing here? How does everyone get past my security?"

The man chuckled as red eyes suddenly began to glow brighter, "what did I just tell you?"

Drake's back arched as he shrieked in pain. It was unnatural. Pain held lessons in how to not do something. It was caused by a mistake that would not be made twice. It ebbed and flowed from one point on the body and pulled aches from far reaching areas to the source. This pain had no rhyme or reason; it did not pulse, but instead stayed constant everywhere. No one point on the illusionist's body was less pained than another. His body felt as though every bone was broken. Or as though he was nothing more than a ragdoll and his body was being torn apart at the seams.

Then, all at once, the torture ended. Drake fell forward, muscles twitching as a reminder of what he experienced. The man above him smiled, all fangs and predatory teeth. He made a quick motion with a hand, causing the illusionist to flip onto his back.

"But, this one time, I will be kind to you. Answer your questions without the normal punishment," the man growled. "I am an awakened beast. One of the original dragons who walked the earth. Back before you petty humans did not just want us to teach you, but also be bound and ordered around by you."

The man kneeled down beside the illusionist, red eyes piercing into Drake's gaze.

"We were a rebellion. We refused to be weighed down by the wants of another. So we fought back against humanity. Destroyed their strongholds and waged war on all those wizards and knights who began hunting for dragons," the man paused as the illusionist turned his head away and focused his eyes on a nearby table. "Of course, there were dragons who oppose us. Those that wanted to see hope instead of disappointment. Those who looked for the potential inside every human and the want to become greater."

Drake's eyes widened and his gaze snapped back to the man beside him. Callisto!

"I am the leader and last surviving member of the original dragons," the man stood. "I am Lucifer."

The illusionist's breath caught in his throat. He opened his mouth to speak before closing it and waiting to see what the other would say. After all, he didn't like being in unnecessary pain.

"Good pet. You may speak."

Drake's eyes narrowed into a glare, "why are you 'ere?"

"I wanted to see the baby dragon's play toy."

The illusionist was on his feet and facing the dragon before he could think about the consequences. "'E's a friend, Calli and I are equal."

The dragon clicked his tongue and frowned, "poor, lost human. Do you really think that a dragon would want to be weighted down by a person such at you? Someone so lost that they refuse to let go of control. Someone who runs away from anything that doesn't go their way." The smirk returned. "You are nothing more than a toy. A plaything that will only keep his interest until a better model comes along and you are thrown away."

Drake's glare never lessened, but he could feel his throat constrict with the words. A heaviness pushed on his chest and made it harder to breathe normally. His eyes flickered away from the man before him.

I'm worth more than that to Calli. Aren't I? He's never said it, but…he did admit to a friendship. That's something, right? But…don't dragons play games and speak in riddles? What if I'm nothing more than a thing to keep him occupied until he leaves? The illusionist felt his shoulders slump, but refused to give up.

"Not all dragons are evil, Mate. And not all humans want to use 'em," Drake snapped. "Callisto is not like you. 'E fights for the potential of mankind. Not the destruction of it."

Lucifer chuckled, "Little Sorcerer, why do you fight when you know that you have lost to yourself?"

Drake took a surprised step back.

"Your life can be weighed and measured, and all that will be found is that you are masked in your own wants. You refuse to see what is in front of you. You are an icon of strangers' desires, not a beacon of hope. You are a failed magician, but a skilled liar. You're worthless in every aspect but the ability to hide your true nature," the dragon took a step forward. "You're just a scared little boy, lost in his abandonment."

With a wicked speed, Lucifer had a hand wrapped around Drake's throat. He pulled the illusionist off the ground and closer toward him. The magician's hands claws and scrabbled at the dragon's wrist and his feet extended downward, desperately trying to put his toes on the carpet. The hand around his throat constricted, cutting off his air supply and making his vision blur.

"So now I'll make you a deal," the dragon hissed. "Tell me now where your scaly friend is with the purple eyes, and I'll walk away and never return in your life. Or, don't tell me and I will draw the answer out of you while I put you through the slowest and most painful death any human has ever experienced."

Drake whimpered as the hand around his neck loosened its grip enough for him to speak.

Why did he ever have to save me from Horvath? Why did he have to laugh and joke around? Why did he have to talk so damn much about my potential? Why did I have to have an impact on him? Callisto, why the hell were we drawn together now? Why not after you have everything straightened out?

"Why do you care?"

"He's a dragon. I want him because he is a dragon. I don't care about his beliefs and ideals. I can change them when I find him," Lucifer responded.

"Sorry, Mate," Drake stated, putting on his signature smirk. "I can only please so many fans."

The dragon snarled out a growl and threw the illusionist into the closest wall. Drake crumpled to the floor, lethargically moving to get back up while blinking away the dark spots in his vision. He might not be able to win against a dragon, but he could at least go down fighting. A ring of black fire ignited around the dragon's hands. He sent a punch toward Drake, who barely dodged away as a hole corroded itself into the wall.

Oh, great. Even the fire has superpowers.

Lucifer scratched the air with his claw-like nails, sending three lines of blackness toward the illusionist. The two on the outside wrapped around his wrists and bound them behind his back. The last part of the attack wrapped around his mouth as a gag. Drake staggered backwards. He couldn't use magic if he couldn't use his hands. He couldn't fight at all.

This is it then, Drake thought as the dragon stalked toward him. This is how I die. Well, how I die for the second time. The illusionist took a steadying breath, and slightly nodded his head. Okay.

-/-

Balthazar huffed a sigh of annoyance as Veronica and he continued their search for Drake Stone. How far away could he have gotten?

"Love," Veronica murmured gently. "We'll find him."

"We best," he replied. "How do you lose track of a narcissistic celebrity who thrives on being annoyingly extravagant in public, anyway?"

The sorceress laughed softly, "perhaps he went somewhere that he could be alone. Does he live close?"

Balthazar nodded. His light gaze turned upward toward a large building only a few blocks away from them. The sorcerer shifted his direction to begin his trek toward the gaudy building with the garish penthouse. Veronica followed close behind him, the heat of her gaze focused on the side of his face.

"Balthazar, we will find him."

"Last time I found him alone in that place, he was dying from the parasite spell and there was nothing anyone could do," he muttered.

"But he did return," Veronica whispered. "He is alive and well, Love."

"Yes, but not because I tried to help him. I didn't even think twice about it, I just left," the sorcerer stopped walking and turned to his lover. "I was taught better than that."

"And you have become better!" The dark haired woman urged. "You wanted to harm and frighten Drake only a short time ago, and now you worry for him and are looking for him."

Balthazar hummed in response and allowed himself to feel uplifted for the quiet moments that it took for the couple to reach their destination. Before they entered the building, Balthazar swept the surrounding area for any traces of magic.

There is nothing that would indicate a sorcerer having done magic. But…

"Can you feel that?" Balthazar questioned, his skin prickling with the energy that came from somewhere in area. "The air is practically charged with electricity."

"That is not human, Balthazar. I only felt this once before," the sorceress worriedly stated. "It is like Merlin's lost dragon. But more powerful and oppressive. It feels like an attack not a presence."

"An attack," the other repeated before spinning on his heels and rushing into the building. The elevator arrived and closed faster than it ever had. The thick silence between the pair as they waited to arrive at that top floor was a nervous meditation to gain their focus.

The mechanical doors opened.

Balthazar burst into the penthouse, for once ignoring the feeling of wrongness coming from the paintings and pictures that littered the walls. He heard a crash from the open area at the end of the hall and instantly charged forward. Veronica sped ahead of him and halted in her tracks as soon as she entered the room. The sorcerer came to rest beside her, the sight before him sent a new wave of protective anger down his spine.

Drake was bound, head tilted downward, by some form of dark magic. A man dressed in all black stopped his stalking approach toward the illusionist and now watched the pair with red eyes. A snarl appeared on the man's face while his eyes raked over the newcomers.

"Oh, look. More toys," he growled. "Merlin's toys."

Drake worriedly began to cry out muffled words and warnings to the sorcerers. Veronica threw a pitying and hurting glance in the illusionist's direction before squaring up against the young man's attacker. Balthazar instinctively moved a few paces away from the other, giving them a better range to attack the man if needed.

"What do you mean by toys?" Veronica asked.

"You."

Without another word uttered, fire erupted from the man's feet and twisted around him. The ball of fire flared and twirled for a moment longer before dying down. The man's shirt had ripped away in favor of allowing two, feather-covered wings to be extended. The wings looked like large, leathery bat wings, but the upper half of them were covered with feathers. It was as though the wings belonged to an angel-demon hybrid. The lengthy feathers were flame colored, golden yellow at the top, orange in the middle, and crimson at the tips. The muscles in the arm of the wings bulged and stretched as the man moved them. A tail whipped from side to side behind him, black scales ran from base to tip with a fan of the fiery feathers at the end of it.

This new appearance only seemed to upset the bound illusionist even more. He shook his head and shriek louder from behind his gag. Terror etched itself into his features. Balthazar shifted uneasily. This man was so much more than he imagined.

"An elder dragon," Veronica whispered. "An original."

The dragon cooed, "good girl."

Balthazar wasted no time in hurling a plasma ball at the beast. The dragon growled as he caught the attack and threw it back at the sorcerer tenfold. Veronica pushed the attack away from Balthazar with an attack of her own. The dragon smiled and flapped his wings once, sending a wind that pushed the sorceress backwards slightly.

He's playing with us. Like a cat with its dinner. He's just showing off that he can fight us without trying.

The sorcerer moved slowly, crossing in front of Veronica and stepping in front of Drake. The dragon might be playing games with he and his love, but the illusionist's situation looked much more serious than a show of power. The tail lashed in annoyance as Merlin's apprentice took his place as a shield for the youngest.

"Drake!" A voice called from the entrance to the penthouse. "Drake Stone!"

"Aww, the little dragon has ruined our fun," the beast teased. "I suppose I'll have to finish what I started at a later time. After all, I wouldn't want to meet him before he's ready. I need him to be competent, not just curious."

A new fire flashed to life, vanishing into smoke almost instantly afterward, and leaving nothing but a charred floor in its wake. The magic cuffs around the illusionist's wrist vanished along with the black gag. The trio stood, silently watching one another, as footsteps ran in their direction.

Callisto emerged from the hall, purple eyes taking in the area around him. He turned to Veronica, who smiled to him and moved to lay a steadying hand on his shoulder. Then he turned to Balthazar, who in turn nodded to him and glanced over to the illusionist behind him. Callisto followed his gaze and ran forward toward Drake. Balthazar watched as the teen placed one pale hand on the illusionist's arm. He then used the other one to gently move Drake's head side to side so that he could check for any damage, whether that be reflected on the magician's skin or his eyes.

Having decided that Drake was as well as he could be, Callisto moved forward to briefly hug the illusionst. It was, surprisingly, Drake who broke the moment as he finally looked around his living room.

"Blimey! Why did my entire room 'ave to be destroyed? Why not just part of it?" The illusionist curled his upper lip. "It'll take forever to clean this."

Callisto arched an eyebrow in annoyance as Drake pulled away from him and began to pick up the mess that was left behind from the fight.

"Drake, are you alright?" Veronica murmured gently.

"Never been better, Lovey," Drake answered a few beats too quickly.

Balthazar moved forward. "What happened before we came?"

"Nothing much."

"Drake, as your master—"

"We 'ad a big fuckin' party," Drake snapped, throwing down everything he had picked up and turning to face the trio. "Is that what you wanted to hear? 'E came in an' we put on some music, called up the 'ole city, and celebrated nothingness."

Veronica moved forward, "Dear—"

Drake threw up his hands and stalked from the room. Callisto was about to move when Balthazar put up a hand and silently followed after the retreating form. When he reached the room the illusionist disappeared into, he was surprised to see Drake crumpled and shaking on the floor of his bedroom. Merlin's apprentice slowly strode to the man on the floor and sat beside him. Drake made no motion to acknowledge the older sorcerer's presence.

"Drake, I—"

"Don't, Mate. Just let sleepin' dogs lie," Drake mumbled.

"You are neither sleeping nor a dog," Balthazar countered. "So, as I see it, that line doesn't help you right now."

The illusionist shot a lazy glare at the sorcerer before looking away again. "Callisto, what's up with 'im, right?"

"What about him?"

"Everything," Drake sat up so that he was eye to eye with the sorcerer. "'E's so confusing and yet understandable. 'E just is..." the illusionist trailed off.

Balthazar swallowed, "will you tell me what happened?"

"Between you an' me?"

"Explicitly."

"I almost died for 'im," the illusionist thought for a second. "And I was completely fine with that idea. Dying in tha' moment…didn't seem like a bad way to die." A cold laugh escaped him. "I've had worse."

Balthazar's gaze softened slightly, "dying for a friend is noble, but more sorrowful than any other way."

"Mate," Drake finally replied, "what are we gonna do? How do we fight something like that?"

"Simple. We need a dragon."

-/-

The next day found everyone meeting at Dave's apartment. Taban wore a sneer as she inspected the state of mess the small living area was in. Dave fidgeted with various science papers and projects. Balthazar and Veronica stood beside one another, whispering under their breath. Drake suddenly slinked in, softly closing the door behind him.

"Why so sneaky?" Dave questioned.

Taban rolled her eyes, "yeah, a regular James Bond."

Balthazar cut in before an argument could commence. "We need to unlock the dragon side of Callisto. We need for him to transform. However, if he knows what we are planning, he will probably leave."

"He was rather, uh, upset with the new revelation," Dave admitted.

"So 'ow do we do that?" Drake questioned as he looked around the room.

"We need to draw upon characteristics of a dragon," Veronica answered. "Any story has a basis of truth. We need to gain an emotional connection that Callisto can respond to."

The small crowd grew quiet. They looked amongst one another for any signs of enlightenment. One by one they seemed to gather a hypothesis and a plan of action.

"An animalistic need to fight back," Balthazar whispered.

"Dragons are protectors that use riddles," Veronica hushed.

"Dragons are sensual beasts," Drake smirked.

Dave spoke up, "guys, what exactly are we gonna do if we get him to transform?"

"Bond him with someone. They will share a power and fight as one," Balthazar answered.

"I volunteer," the illusionist piped in.

Taban turned to the oldest sorcerer, "no. No, a wild animal is stronger than a tamed one because it still has all its instinct. If you cage an animal, it becomes dependent."

The door opened. Callisto suddenly walked into the apartment, looking up to notice that everyone was staring at him. The teen paused, slowly closing the door behind him before slightly opening his arms in greeting. He smiled slightly.

"Hi there."

The crowd glanced to one another before suddenly acting out. Balthazar picked up various small items to throw at the teen while alternating pushing and pulling him with magic.

"What are you—"

"Callisto," Veronica entered the teen's focus, "what goes up and down the stairs without moving?"

"Uh, what?"

"What goes around the world but stays in a corner?"

"Veronica, I'm not sure what," the teen cut off with a yelp as Drake pulled him back by the waist. "What the hell are you doing, Drake?"

"I just wanted to feel you against me."

Callisto twisted in the illusionist's grip, "peachy, now let me go."

A hand trailed up and down the dragon's side, slightly adding pressure as it went lower. "Lemme make you feel good."

The younger struggled his way away from the other in time to be hit by a towel thrown by Balthazar and asked another question by Veronica. Drake moved forward suddenly, grabbing Callisto and pressing their lips together.

The teen was in shock for a moment before violently pushing Drake away. "What is happening?!"

"C'mon, Mate, aren't you turned on?"

Callisto blankly stared at the illusionist for a second, "no!"

Dave finally cleared his throat and walked forward. "Calli, would you please transform into a dragon for us?"

Taban began laughing at the livid look the teen had on his face. "Are you serious? This is what all this insanity is about?!"

"Also," Taban added, "do you really think that an apartment's excessively small kitchen is the best place for all this?"

Dave seemed wounded by the statement, but nevertheless agreed.

-/-

The sun cast a warm glow over the buzzing city, contrasting Callisto's dark mood. He scowled at every stranger who passed the group on their walk to the closest park. Once there, his angered silence only seemed more out of place against the chatter of the public. Purple eyes held a keen threat toward anyone in the small group. Only Drake seemed unfazed by the look. His flirtatious behavior only seemed to escalate now that there was an audience of nameless faces to watch his every move.

The illusionist rested a hand on the small of the blonde's back, every few moments he would move it to Callisto's waist, giving it a gentle squeeze before returning the hand to the dragon's back. Any attempt of an escape from Callisto only caused an arm to pull him in front and against illusionist and a string of whispers to fill his ears.

"Fine," the teen snapped. "What the hell do you people want me to do?"

"Calli, look, if you don't want to do this," Dave murmured, "no one is going to force you into it."

"I will," Balthazar pitched in. "We need a dragon on our side, Dave, not a skinny teenage boy."

"Really? That's how you think of me?"

Taban walked to her friend, "hey, Cal. C'mon, this is who you are."

"No, Taban, this," Callisto patted his chest. "Is who I am. This," he gestured to everyone in the group, "is who you want me to be. My life has been flipped around. I thought I was normal. I had a chance to just live and not worry about everything else. And now…" The teen shook his head. "I don't even know what is real anymore. Do you even know how that feels?"

"I do," Dave answered the rhetorical question. "I was just some physics nerd all my life. I never aspired to be more than that. I was happy. Then Balthazar showed up and told me I was more than I ever thought was possible. I chose to trust in him and learn from him. I have never made a better decision in my entire life." The Prime Merlinian clapped Balthazar on the shoulder and smiled before turning to the blonde. "Trust us. We all believe in you. Except maybe—"

"Watch it," Drake growled. Dave held up his hands in mock surrender.

Callisto sighed, "where do we start?"

-/-

Balthazar huffed in frustration. Callisto's strength was lacking. Dragons could topple buildings, and the teen couldn't even lift a park bench, let alone a car. His abilities were nonexistent. Jumping a river was out of the question, climbing a wall was a failure. His reflexes only where on par with a standard dragon's when an attack was made directly in his line of vision. Everything was failing except for his attitude, which seemed perfect for a beast of arrogance and superiority.

Callisto sat on the grass, slumping from exhaustion and panting from the exertion.

He needs to be better. If he is who I think he is, this should all be simple. If he fights that man like this, it'll be over before it ever began. He doesn't stand a chance.

The sorcerer turned away from his thoughts to call it a day and find a place to meditate on the events of the past few days.

Drake had moved over to Callisto. Since the training actually started, the illusionist had dropped his sexy act and instead adopted the role of moral support. A smirk came to the young sorcerer's face as he nudged the dragon with an elbow before speaking.

"At least when I sleep with you, the climax of the night will not be a reptile in my bed."

"Son of a—" Callisto cut himself off as he lunged at Drake, tackling the older to the ground with unnatural speed. The illusionist struggled out from underneath the teen, who was instantly up and hunting Drake like a cheetah with an antelope.

"Huh," Taban piped up. "Who knew it would be that easy?"

"Perhaps there is hope for him, yet," Veronica smiled.

"Callisto? Yes. Drake? I'm not so sure," Dave added.

Balthazar nodded, "Time to get the Incantus."