A/N – This story takes place starting just after the closing scene of the movie when David and Becky flew off on the metal eagle. This is rated Mature for many very good reasons. Warning: contains graphic imagery, severe injury to major characters, disturbing subjects and eventually I'm sure there will be sexual situations both straight and (inevitably with me) slash. I will try to put a warning at the top of anything particularly graphic, but just assume the first couple of chapters are going to be a bit harrowing. I am making the chapters shorter than my usual because I don't expect this one will go nearly as long as other stories I've written. Then again, Flight of the Thestrals was supposed to be a ten chapter fluff piece and look how that turned out! Seriously, not foreseeing it getting nearly as out of hand as that one. Actually, this is just another one of my little sanity breaks from the Flight universe.

- 0 – 0 – 0 -

Chapter 1

David was starting to doubt the wisdom of his rash decision to make for France before they even got out over the water. The closer they got to open sea, the more frigid the air became as it whipped past them. He could already feel Becky shivering against him. Ok, he liked that she'd slipped her hands into his jacket to keep them warm, but he could feel his body temperature dropping even with the jacket, and knew he'd be shivering as well in another minute or two. Not to mention that they couldn't fly above the clouds without suffocating in the thin atmosphere, and in the pale moonlight he could see some potentially dangerous cloud formations ahead. And of course he had begun to do the math. The eagle was pretty fast for a flying metal bird... but not exactly as fast as a jet... or even a plane. Factoring in speed, wind resistance, distance... he quickly came to the realization that it had been a stupid idea to try this.

It just figured! The first thing he tried to do as an official boyfriend and he totally screwed it up! Why couldn't he have tried for something a bit more reasonable and doable? Now he was going to have to admit that he hadn't been thinking ahead. She'd just started thinking he was cool! It would have been nice if it had taken her at least a day or two to remember what a dork he really was.

Becky started slightly behind him. "What's that?" She asked in surprise.

"What's what? He asked, scanning his eyes around quickly for signs of danger.

"In your jacket. Something was moving!"

"What?" He asked in alarm, patting his jacket, then he blushed in embarrassment as he felt his cell phone vibrate against his hand. People so rarely called him he often forgot all about it. Her hand had been between him and the pocket he kept it in, and it was on silent mode. He quickly, but very carefully took it out. He didn't want to drop it up here! He really couldn't afford to replace it on his budget.

"Hello?" He asked as he pressed it up against his ear, trying to hear through the whistling of the wind as it passed.

"What are you doing, Dave?" Balthazar asked, his mildly curious voice barely audible above the wind.

David's eyes went wide. It was just so shocking to hear Balthazar's voice coming out of such a modern device. "We... we were just going for a little flight." He stammered, unwilling to admit where their intended destination was.

"Ok. That sounds nice. I just wanted to remind you, in case you don't recall from your Encantus," He said in his patient, teaching voice, "that enchanted sculptures must return to their origins by dawn. At dawn the concealing magic that keeps normal people from noticing that they are gone breaks. Not to mention that at dawn they return to their original form, which wouldn't be good if you were riding one high in the air."

David's blush deepened. "Right. Back by dawn. Got it." David muttered, nodding ruefully. "Um... how... how did you get my number?"

"Bennet. Very pleasant young man. We're at your place. Apparently you didn't fill him in on our relationship, so I told him we're your aunt and uncle visiting from out of town. He's volunteered to show us where a nice hotel is."

"Hotel?" David asked in surprise.

"You don't expect me to make Veronica sleep on that ratty cot in your lab, do you?"

"N-no, no, no. Of course not."

"I'll make sure you get the number you can reach me at. I expect to see you in your lab for training tomorrow evening."

"We... um... we're still doing that, then?"

Balthazar laughed. "You've just started, Dave! You need training now more than ever!"

"Right..." David replied. He hadn't really believed Balthazar would think he was ready to be on his own yet... but now that Balthazar had Veronica back, he had to admit he'd half expected that Balthazar would kind of forget about him. For a while at the very least. He had what he'd been searching for for a thousand years! It was kind of reassuring to know the man wasn't going to just up and leave him now that he'd gotten what he wanted.

"See you then, Dave." Balthazar said.

"Ya! Right, right. Bye." David said, then he closed his phone and tucked it back away.

"What was that about?" Becky asked, obviously having been unable to hear what Balthazar was saying over the wind.

"That was Balthazar. He... um... well he kind of needs the eagle back before dawn." He said, leaving off the potentially lethal consequences of not returning it on time.

"Oh," She said, trying to keep the relief out of her voice, "Well that's ok. The French can be rude anyway. Besides, I don't exactly have a bunch of Francs on me, and this eagle would be a pain to park out of sight in such a highly populated place."

"Right." he immediately agreed. Then he fell silent, feeling decidedly embarrassed and awkward as he turned the eagle, guiding it back in the direction they'd come from. He hadn't thought about money when they got there either. All he had was a debit card (that probably wouldn't work in a different country) and maybe ten bucks on him. And what about passports? If they'd have been asked for identification they would have been in trouble. Balthazar might be able to magic his way out of such situations, but David wasn't exactly a full fledged sorcerer yet, so he'd have been lost. And speaking of lost, when he thought about it, finding a foreign country he'd never even been to from the air would be a daunting task. If he had a GPS perhaps, but he didn't. And it's not like they could have popped down and asked for directions without drawing lots of unwanted questions and attention. Heck, with his luck he would have somehow wound up on the wrong continent! Well, if he made it past the plummeting to his death at dawn part, that was. Yes, he'd definitely have to do a lot more planning next time. Assuming there would be a next time, that is!

After a few minutes she shifted her mouth closer to his ear and said, "You know where I'd like to go?"

"Where?" He asked immediately, praying it was someplace achievable.

"The coffee house just off campus."

He tried to shift his head around to see if she was serious. "At this hour? It's the middle of the night!"

"They're open twenty four hours when the college is in session so the students can study there. Haven't you ever been there at night?" She asked curiously.

"I... I... don't exactly... um... I've never really been inside there actually." He admitted. Bennet had always been trying to drag him in, but he just wasn't exactly comfortable around all of those students... most (if not ALL) of which were much more attractive and unquestionably cooler than him. He was much more comfortable in his lab.

"You're kidding me!" She said incredulously, "Well then, that's definitely where we're going!"

"Oh, alright." He sighed, shifting their direction a bit more.

- 0 – 0 – 0 -

"What are you still doing alive?" An angry voice hissed.

Drake stirred dazedly and blinked his eyes open. He was... what the bloody Hell was he doing in his closet? His wide array of flamboyant clothing lined the walls in rows, his many pairs of designer boots underneath him from the feel of it. They were a bit painful really. He felt like trying to shift off of them, but the murderous look on Horvath's face as he glared down at him pushed such trivial thoughts aside. His mind was in disarray and he felt strangely like he was bleeding out... though he could feel no obvious wounds. Why was Horvath mad at him? What had he just said? Something about being alive? "Wha?" he muttered groggily.

Horvath reached down and grabbed the front of his shirt and hoisted him up a bit.

"Oi! Watch the threads, mate!" Drake muttered, trying to struggle to free himself, but finding he was unequal to the task, able to do little more than flail slightly. He couldn't figure out why he felt so weak!

Horvath ignored him. Displaying more strength than expected, he used the grip to haul Drake out, through the door and on out into his office, into the middle of the floor where he unceremoniously dropped him.

Drake let out a little pained sound, but found he couldn't rise.

"She died because of you, you pathetic imbecile!" Horvath hissed.

"Wha? Who?" Drake asked, completely at a loss.

"Morgana!" Horvath snapped.

"Morgana's dead?" Drake asked, feeling a bit dazed. To tell the truth, until very recently he'd never fully believed she existed other than as some mythical being in a fairy tale. He'd just started wrapping his mind around the idea that she might really exist... and now she was dead? "You mean dead dead? Like pushing up daisies? Like never coming back?"

"Of course I mean dead dead, you moronic waste of breath! And it's all your fault!"

"How could it be my sodding fault if I wasn't even there?" Drake asked incredulously.

"I used the parasite spell on you to gain your strength so I would have the power I needed. If you had died, like you were supposed to, I would have had the full use of your ring and I could have helped her fight the Prime Merlinean! She stood no real chance against him alone!"

"So, wait..." Drake said, fighting down nausea and continuing waves of dizziness as he worked that through, "You didn't manage to snuff me, so you just ran off like a sodding wuss and left her to fend for herself? And you have the orchestras to blame me?"

Horvath let out a sound of fury, cracking him upside the head with his cane.

Drake cried out, his head ringing and throbbing from the blow. When his vision cleared he saw Horvath still standing over him, though he had mastered himself and merely glared down at him with disdain. "Well, Morgana may be gone, but her true followers are still around. Now I will just have to fall back for a time, let Balthazar and his little apprentice become complacent while I find and gather real Morganians and plan. Don't worry, though. You needn't worry yourself with any of that. This is where you and I shall part ways."

Drake watched him with growing apprehension as Horvath tucked his cane under his arm and opened his cloak, withdrawing a long dagger. "Wha... whacha planning on doing with that?"

"This?" Horvath asked pleasantly, indicating the wickedly sharp blade. "Oh, I'm just going to plunge it through your pathetic little heart. Don't get me wrong, you'll be dead soon either way, in fact I can't figure out why you didn't die within minutes of my casting that spell on you, but I'm not exactly a patient man, and this should finish the job quite nicely. You see your soul doesn't appear to want to be dislodged for some reason. Perhaps your ego has simply grown too large to squeeze its way out in the usual manner." He drawled with derisive amusement, "Whatever the reason, this should finish the job. My blades are each forged from a single piece of the finest silver, you see." He said, shifting it helpfully so Drake could see how the gleaming blade flowed seamlessly into the hilt. "As I'm guessing you've already discovered, given your tasteless, yet finely crafted jewelry, pure silver forms a perfect conduit for magic. I simply insert this into your heart, and when you die the remainder of your power will be drawn out and into me, and I will draw your petty, narcissistic little excuse for a soul into your ring where it was intended to go, which will finally give me full mastery of your power. Until it's used up, anyway. It wouldn't do anyone any good just drifting off into nothingness, now would it? You may not have served Morgana properly in life, but I assure you that in death you shall be a great deal more useful to the cause."

"Wait!" Drake said quickly, adrenaline rushing through his veins, giving him a bit more strength. He scootched himself away towards the old cabinet next to his desk as best he could in his condition as Horvath moved closer, shifting the dagger up into position, "I... I'm much more valuable to you alive, I am! What about readies? I'm filthy rich, I am! You could really coin in if you kept me about!"

Horvath gave a little amused snort, following him at a sedate, but relentless pace. "If I needed your money I could just shift myself into your semblance and clean out your accounts. It's not worth the trouble, though, because if you had real magical talent you'd know that money is useless really. Those with power don't need it. If I want something, I take it. None of these pathetic non-magical folk could ever hope to stop me. That's your greatest weakness, you know. You think you have to follow their rules. You actually seem to think those people are more than the stupid, pathetic animals they are. If I ever run across your master, I will be sure to inform him of what a complete and utter failure you were as a Morganian."

Drake pushed himself up on shaking arms, resting his back against the ancient wooden cabinet with iron edgings. "I may not be much of a Morganian." He admitted, "I may not even be a dab hand at being a sorcerer... but I'm an absolutely bloody brilliant magician!" he said as he elbowed the special knot on the side of the cabinet.

Flash powder and a smoke pellet shot out of secret compartments on the cabinet. Horvath's eyes were dazzled by the burst of light, and when he looked back there was a cloud of smoke where Drake had been. He blew it away with a wave of his cane only to find... nothing. Drake was gone!

Horvath flicked his cane, yanking the cabinet doors open, but it was empty. A quick search confirmed Drake was somehow no longer in the room. He went over and felt along the side of the cabinet. He located the knot, but pressing it did nothing. He rose with a huff of frustration, then strode out of the office and over to the brightly blazing fire in the large, gaudy fireplace. "Very well, we'll do this the hard way. I would have made it quick... but some people simply can't tell when I'm doing them a favor."

He took the dagger, using the fine tip to pierce the tip of his finger. He held it out over the fire, letting three big drops of blood drip down into the flames. There was silence for a moment, then a soft, squealing sound started coming from the fire... then another. A shadow seemed to be forming in the heart of the flames, growing quickly as the squealing became louder. Another one became visible, then another, quickly dampening the light of the flames as they grew.

"That's it, my little ones..." Horvath cooed softly, "Time to wake up. Daddy has a chore for you..."

- 0 – 0 – 0 -

Drake tried desperately to keep from crying out in fear as he slid quickly down the tightly spiralling passage. He'd never used that trap door without preparation before. Usually he had his limo waiting in the alley, sunroof open and strategically placed, copious amounts of padding waiting to gently cushion his landing... his magic to slow his descent... but this time...

The hidden chute opened up and flung him out at full speed a good seven feet in the air. He hit the grimy alley pavement a split second later, the air evacuating his lungs as the pain of the impact shot through him. The edges of his vision went gray, unconsciousness threatening. He just lay there on his back and fought it off, dazed and desperately trying to force air back into his lungs while trying to evaluate what was broken. With an impact that hard with no padding it was a given that something would be.

The pavement was uneven where he landed and he was almost certain he'd fractured, if not outright broken, several ribs where a bit of broken pavement set higher than the rest. Other than that he had a killer headache, possibly the start of a concussion, and he was pretty sure his right shoulder was dislocated at the very least.

Overall, he'd fared much better than expected really.

By the time he finished his assessment his vision had started to clear up and he started paying more attention to what his eyes were seeing. He was staring up at the night sky. There was something brewing that was disturbing the clouds. They were starting to move, swirling ever so slowly around in an unnatural circle above his building, tiny flares of blood red light flicking through them. He might not know enough magic to know what Horvath was doing, but he was smart enough to know it was something terrible. He felt the urgent need to get up and get away, but his body was barely responding.

As he gazed up at his impending doom it began to sink in properly. He'd escaped for the moment, but even now he could feel his life force slowly bleeding out of him. No matter what he did, this was it. He was going to die tonight. It wasn't something he'd really thought about before. He'd done insanely dangerous stunts... set himself on fire, jumped off tall buildings, submerged himself in seemingly inescapable chains... and yet he'd never thought for a moment that any of that could ever really end his life. He was magical, after all! None of that mere mortal shite could ever kill him, right? But this was different. This was magic, and magic obviously far more powerful than his own at that. This was finally it, then. The end of the line.

He really thought his death would have been something a bit more spectacular. A brilliant blaze of glory, hopefully caught on film so people could watch it over and over and marvel at it. But there were no cameras here. No exciting end to his story. He was simply going to snuff it in silence, laying in an alley all alone, like some old dosser.

How disappointing.

"Hey mister, you alright?" A voice called from the street.

Drake shifted his head over, spotting a somewhat short but burly cab driver peering down the alley at him, his cigarette forgotten between his thick fingers.

"Be a love and give us a hand, won't you?" Drake gasped, his voice weak and thready. If he had to die, he'd prefer it be somewhere other than this dank alley.

The guy tossed the cigarette and hurried down the alley. "What happened ta you? Ya need an ambulance?"

Drake quickly waved that off. Paramedics couldn't help him. Besides, by the time an ambulance got there he'd be dead. In fact nowhere would be safe for him in short order.

His eyes widened as a thought suddenly occurred. "I need to get somewhere fast." He said, struggling to wedge the hand of his good arm into the pocket of his overly tight trousers. He pulled out a bit of folded money and offered it up to the man. "It's all yours if you can get me there."

The man accepted the money and unfolded it. It was hundred dollar bills. "This is five hundred bucks!" He said incredulously. "Jus how far ya need ta go?"

"Not far, just fast!" Drake replied, trying to struggle up and failing miserably.

The man chuckled and tucked the money in his pocket, "Well then, for five hundred bucks ya get curbside service. Jus try not to hurl in my cab, k?" he said, obviously thinking Drake was just wasted.

Drake bit back a cry of pain as the man gathered him up and lifted him off the ground. Normally he would have insisted on getting up and walking himself... but he didn't have time for pride at the moment. He gazed back up at the turbulent sky above as the man carried him to his cab. He didn't mention that the money was mostly hazard pay. He just hoped he got where he needed to go before whatever that was caught up with him!

- 0 – 0 – 0 -

"Well, it may not be France, but at least the fries are French." David quipped as he held up a greasy, rather limp fry.

Becky giggled and snatched the fry, dunking it in the little pool of ketchup on her plate. "Close enough." She said before taking a bite of it.

He grinned. It had been a rather lame joke, but she hadn't even rolled her eyes! Despite his earlier anxiety, he was starting to think he might still have an actual chance with her. Her coping skills were amazing. A couple of hours ago magic had just been made up, mythical stuff for her... and yet she'd taken the realization of its reality with amazing stride. She hadn't even balked at climbing up on a tower and knocking aside a satellite dish on his word alone! What an amazing woman! There was no question she was one in a million.

"Hey, Becka!"

David looked over, spotting a rather attractive young man sauntering over, obviously addressing Becky. He had short brown hair that formed amazingly perfect lazy curls, clean cut, stylish clothing and a long black scarf around his neck. He looked oddly familiar... after a moment he remembered him being at the radio station where Becky worked. David darted his eyes over to Becky and saw that her cheeks had tinged a bit red.

"Hey, Andre." She muttered, darting a glance over at David before darting them back to Andre once more. "Um, you probably remember David. He's the one that fixed our antenna."

"Oh, yeah. Right." Andre said, barely sparing David a glance before looking back to her. "Missed you at the party. Where ya been?" He asked, leaning against the nearby support beam and shoving his hands half way into his jean pockets. It wasn't a nervous gesture... it seemed to just serve to make his already tight pants just a bit tighter while calling attention to his crotch as the irritatingly impressive bulge there strained the material.

"Just hanging out with David." She said quickly, tucking her hands into her lap in an obviously nervous fashion. "I wasn't in a party mood. Maybe next time." She finished with a hint of finality that clearly indicated she wanted him to leave now.

Andre looked David over appraisingly, "Study group?" He asked with a little sneer.

"Actually, he's my new boyfriend." She said firmly, her chin raising a bit as her eyes narrowed.

Andre let out a highly amused snort, "You're kidding, right?"

"No, she's not." David said, wrestling down his nerves. Guys like Andre usually intimidated him terribly, but he was a sorcerer, damn it! He may not look it, but he had just as much to offer as this pretty boy! "So... so why don't you just run along?" He said, trying to make it sound as brave as possible.

Andre chuckled and looked him over appraisingly. "Let me guess... Physics?"

David furrowed his brow.

"Nailed it, didn't I?" Andre asked with obvious amusement. "I heard she was having trouble in that class. I was Trigonometry last semester. I got her a strong B plus." He said, placing a hand on his chest as if introducing himself formally, then half turning to look back at his group of friends, "Let's see... Scott over there in the red shirt was before me. He was Biology, got her an A minus, and Jeffrey, that poor wretch in the back corner, he was Advanced English." He said, nodding towards a surprisingly plain looking boy in the back corner. He was wearing somberly dark clothing and a black hoodie. He was buried in a book, but his dejected posture spoke of a silent, aching depression. "She only got a B out of him. She would have gotten an A easy, but he found out she was seeing Scott on the side two weeks before finals. He still hasn't quite recovered. Poets..." he said, shrugging his shoulders and shaking his head ruefully.

"Stop it!" Becky hissed. "It wasn't like that and you know it! You make it sound like I was using you!"

"Weren't you?" Andre asked with a sweet smile. "You've barely even talked to me since you finished your finals and passed Trig."

"It was summer break! You live out of state! Things can change when you're apart for a couple of months!" She shot back.

Andre took a deep breath and sighed it out, "Whatever you say, hun. I can't say I regrete it. If nothing else, you're an amazing lay." He looked over at David with a little smile, "Trust me, this one will wear you out! Enjoy it while you can, Physics." he said, giving David a little wink before pushing off of the beam and striding back over to his friends.

David glared after him, but at the same time he couldn't help but wonder if there was any truth to it. Was she just using him? It would explain her irrational attraction to him. He'd be the first to admit she was way out of his league.

"It wasn't like that." Becky said, looking up at him worriedly, "I swear! And I broke up with Scott after like two weeks, which was well before I even thought about Jeffrey like that, but Scott just couldn't get that through his head. He thought studying together meant we were still together even though I wouldn't let him touch me, and then he went and screwed things up with poor Jeffrey. Jeffrey was so sweet..." She said sadly, glancing over at the boy in the corner for a moment before training her eyes on the table before her. She took a deep breath and sighed it out. "I just... I'll admit I have a bad habit of getting too close to my study partners, but it wasn't..." She trailed off, at a loss for how to explain it.

"Listen..." He said softly, "Whatever happened or didn't happen, it was the past... and I say we leave it there and just move on."

She gave him a little relieved smile.

Ok, he would be the first to concede that she may well just be using him to pass... but then again, her Physics class ran for the full school year. Even if she was using him, he'd at the very least have this beautiful, wonderful girlfriend until the end of the year. Who knows, maybe by then she'd like him for more than just grades and she'd stay with him! And even if that was a pipe dream, he'd still have the rest of the year. And... well, he didn't really want to admit it, but the comment about her in bed had made his mind go places it shouldn't. He chafed at knowing she'd slept with that asshole (which he noticed she hadn't bothered to deny), but he knew a girl this attractive probably wouldn't have made it to twenty with her virginity intact unless it was for religious reasons or something. Apparently Becky wasn't the strict religious type. It made his pulse quicken to think he might actually have a chance at having sex with her! He wasn't the type of guy who just wanted to get into a girl's pants as quick as possible or anything... but he was twenty years old and he'd never even gotten to second base with a girl before! Well, he certainly didn't think he had. To be honest, he wasn't absolutely sure what second base was. At any rate, he'd kissed a girl once in like third grade (before she belted him and ran off giggling), and tonight he'd kissed Becky. That was about the extent of his experience with the fairer sex. Not that he'd ever want to admit that, of course!

He looked over as he heard laughter. Andre was back at his seat, talking with his friends in a low voice, obviously telling them about him and Becky. They were chuckling and looking over at them with mischievous grins on their faces. David tried to push down his irritation. He'd been laughed at by the 'cool kids' countless times in his life, but it chafed all the more knowing they were laughing at Becky's expense.

Suddenly the half full coffee pot on the tray a passing waitress was carrying shattered, knocking the tray from her hand and dumping the steaming hot coffee right into Andre's lap. The young man let out a cry of pain and leapt up, desperately trying to get the scalding liquid off him as his friends scattered to avoid getting burned as well.

Becky's head whipped around. She took one look at the chaotic scene and her eyes snapped back over to David. "David!" She hissed accusingly.

"I-I-I-I'm sorry!" He sputtered, "I-I didn't mean to...!"

"Let's get out of here." She hissed, glaring at him as she grabbed her jacket and scooted out of the booth.

"Right." He muttered, his cheeks blazing as he pulled out a wadded up ten and tossed it on the table. The tab was only six, and it was the last of his cash, but he certainly wasn't going to wait for change. Not to mention the waitress was probably going to have to clean up that mess. If anything, he wished he had more to leave her.

They hurried out into the darkened street. He had let the eagle go when they got there, not knowing how long they'd stay, so they started walking. It was so late it was early, so there was no one else on the streets. It was half a block before she even said a word.

"I can't believe you did that!" She said, not looking at him.

"I didn't mean to! I swear!" He said quickly, "It just kind of... happened!"

She looked over at him, her expression still angry, but she appeared to be appraising his honesty. At length he seemed to pass. "Well you can't be doing things like that." She muttered.

"I'm working on my control. I just... apparently need more practice." He said, his voice dropping off deprecatingly. "I'm sorry."

She took a deep breath and sighed it out, but seemed to accept his apology.

They walked in silence the short ways to the nearest subway station, then down into it. They waited in relative silence for about five minutes, then they finally heard her train coming. She turned towards him. There was an awkward pause, then she just said, "Well... I guess I'll see you tomorrow."

He nodded quickly, "Tomorrow." he agreed.

There was another little pause.

David felt like he should kiss her goodnight since they were parting ways and they had kind of been on a date. Of sorts. Ok, a really weird date. Still... the mood felt wrong. She seemed to be waiting more because she didn't want him to think she didn't want to kiss him, but he could sense no real desire from her to be kissed. The train came to a stop and the doors opened. He gave her an out, giving her a nod. "Night then." He said, giving her a little smile, "Or good morning, I guess." He said, glancing at his watch.

She smiled back with a hint of relief, then hurried into the train. Once she was in she turned back, giving him a little wave.

He waved back, then the doors sighed shut and he watched her train disappear into the dark tunnel. His smile faded once she was gone. He really hadn't intended to hurt Andre. He found the involuntary reaction a bit worrisome, really. He'd only been irritated at the boy... what would have happened if he'd been genuinely angry? The idea that this new power inside of him might lash out without him wanting it too was kind of frightening, really. He definitely needed to learn more control before he inadvertently hurt someone! Well, hurt someone worse than a scalded crotch anyway.

Feeling the need for some fresh air and time to think, he left the station and started meandering home. He slipped his hands into his pockets as he strolled along, then came to a sudden stop. His keys were gone! He quickly checked his other pockets, but they weren't on him! He tried to think where they might be. Well, anywhere in Battery park or anywhere the eagle flew over for one.

"Oh man!" He sighed in exasperation, searching his pockets once more. Still nothing. Yes, he could just go home and wake Bennet to get in, but he didn't like the thought of his keys just lying out where someone might find them and take them. Well, surely there was a spell to retrieve lost objects! He didn't want to disturb Balthazar, though. Bennet had texted him the phone number over an hour ago, saying he'd just left them, so by now they were probably... He quickly veered his thoughts back on task. Well, he could just check his Encantus, and if he didn't find the spell he'd just ask Balthazar about it when he came for the lesson tomorrow evening. After all, even if someone found his keys, it wasn't like they'd be likely to know what they unlocked. One day shouldn't make a difference.

Still... he changed direction, heading for his lab. His mind was awhirl with thoughts as he walked the familiar streets. His keys... where they might be... Becky... their relationship... Andre... he quickly skipped over to Balthazar and what kind of training he might have him doing... but then his mind kept slipping towards speculations of what he and Veronica might be doing right about now... He glanced up, realizing he'd arrived, then went up to the door. He reached out and turned the knob out of habit before realizing he hadn't unlocked it yet since he didn't have his key. He had a split second to try to remember where he'd hidden that spare key before it registered that the knob had turned fully. He pulled on the door and it opened.

He was surprised and concerned until he realized he'd probably simply forgotten to lock it behind him the last time he left. Locking a door had seemed a bit trivial at the time after all. If Morgana had succeeded he would have most likely been dead. Either that or all the non-sorcerers would be. Either way, the security of his lab would be moot at that point.

He started down the stairs absently, his mind still churning away. He opened the final gate, which creaked loudly, only grudgingly letting him pass, then started down into the old subway turn-around he used for a lab. He'd only gotten a few steps past the gate when his foot kicked something small that sounded metal. It clattered noisily down a couple of steps.

With an amused snort, he followed, then reached down, picking up the keys. "So that's where you went!" he said happily as he slipped them into his pocket where they belonged. Well that was a relief! He must have dropped them while they were hurrying off to save the world earlier.

Well, mission accomplished! He was about to turn around and head right back up, but then he noticed the odd lighting. The main lights weren't on... and yet there was a distinct glow coming from his lab. He held onto the rail as he shifted around to try to spot the source.

The Merlin's circle was lit up with its ghostly green flames... and there was someone lying in the middle of it! He raced down the stairs, worried at first that it might be Balthazar since he was the only other one he knew of that could light it, but then came to an abrupt stop at the bottom of the last flight of stairs. Despite the dim light and the fact that his back was to him, he recognized the man laying before him.

A ball of plasma quickly formed in his hand. "What are you doing here?"

The figure started slightly, as if he'd just been woken, then Drake turned laboriously over. He blinked at David, trying to get his eyes to focus. The ghostly green flames caressed him in several places, but didn't seem to hurt him or even burn his clothing. "Is it dawn?" he croaked, sounding hoarse and drained.

"I asked you what you were doing here!" David persisted, the plasma bolt growing a bit as he stepped closer, trying to look intimidating.

"Is it dawn?" Drake forced out with a note of urgency.

"No." David said, getting a bit irritated, "Why are you..."

"Get in the circle!" Drake called out in alarm, ignoring his question.

"Why should I..." David's eyes went wide as he heard a snarling sound coming from behind him. He turned and saw a bit of shadow separate itself from the rest of the darkness, its glowing red eyes glaring at him. It charged him and he barely had time to swing the plasma bolt around and hurl it before it reached him. The hideous shape of the beast was illuminated by the plasma as it burst, flinging it back against the wall. David had never seen something so grotesque, so utterly twisted and obviously evil. It was easily the size of a full grown lion, though it bore absolutely no other resemblance to one.

"Behind you!" Drake called out, struggling to rise.

David spun around and caught a glimpse of another shadowy shape hurtling towards him. He got a shield up barely in time. The impact shoved him back several feet, but the shield held. He got his first close up look at the hideous creature as its fetid breath steamed against his shield mere inches from his face. He forced down his terror and shoved it away with the shield. It was knocked back a few paces, but turned back and started towards him again without pause. The plasma bolt in David's hand didn't have time to get very big before he threw it, so it only stunned the creature. He immediately started building another in each of his hands.

David cried out in pain as he was bowled over from behind. The forming plasma bolts flew off uselessly into one of the dark corners of the room as the giant feet of the heavy creature pressed him to the ground, claws piercing his shoulder.

Suddenly something else came out of the darkness, knocking it off his back and the sounds of a violent fray ensued. David gathered his plasma in desperation, sending a bolt towards the second beast as it rose and bore down on him once more. It was blasted back and went down. He scrambled around, looking towards the bloodcurdling shrieks of agony behind him. The third beast was there... attacking Drake with terrifyingly speed and ruthlessness. Drake's clothing was ripped up across the back and the creature had its teeth in Drake's shoulder. It used the grip to flip the helpless man over. It grabbed Drake's head with a what was obviously more a hand than a paw and jerked his head up startlingly fast, as if Drake were no more than a rag doll, then slammed his head down into the floor with a sickening crunching sound. Its razor sharp teeth darted for his throat.

David's plasma bolt caught it barely in time. He sent another bolt into the creature just for good measure as it staggered back. When it had crumpled to the ground and he was sure it wasn't moving anymore, he moved cautiously over to Drake, keeping a plasma bolt blazing brightly in his palm just in case it was a trick.

Drake looked up at him, his eyes glassy with pain. There were slashes on the side of his face from where the creature's claws had cut into him as it grasped him, and a few cuts on his neck from where the teeth had grazed him. There was also a disturbing puddle of blood forming beneath him. "The circle." He gasped weakly, "Get in... the circle..."

David looked up, feeling a trill of terror race through him as he saw the first beast he'd downed starting to stir. He thought he'd killed it! He sent another plasma bolt into it, then into each of the others as well, but he could feel himself quickly weakening. He knew he was pretty tapped out, his battle with Morgana and reviving Balthazar having drained nearly every last spark of power from him... apparently he'd started to recharge a bit in the hours since then, but he was pretty much tapped out again after that! From the speed they'd demonstrated, it was obvious outrunning them wasn't an option. If the circle would block those things, he definitely needed to get into it!

He looked down at Drake uncertainly.

Drake coughed and blood started trickling from the side of his mouth. "Go." He wheezed, shutting his eyes.

David was torn. This was supposed to be a bad guy... and yet he was pretty sure the man had just saved his life. He took a deep breath, then shifted around, trying to find a good angle. He knew he couldn't lift this man outright, he was easily taller and weighed more than David did after all... and he was too drained to levitate him. He finally moved around so his feet were to either side of Drake's head and reached down, slipping his hands under the man's arms. Drake let out a cry of pain as David lifted him. David's grip on him was tenuous considering the slippery blood that kept trying to loosen his grip, but he persisted, dragging the man as gently as he could manage back towards the blazing circle. He hated the obvious agony he was causing him, but he was almost certain the man was dead if he left him there and any of those things woke up.

David was worried about the higher flames at the edge of the circle, but just as the ones in the center had, the flames licked harmlessly against Drake as he was dragged over them. Suddenly, Drake jerked against his grip and let out another cry of pain. David's eyes darted up and he let out a terrified cry as he saw that one of the creatures had apparently awaken, and now had Drake's boot, the last thing still outside the double line of the circle perimeter, firmly clasped in its mouth. David jerked back instinctively and slipped, falling back and dragging Drake with him.

He quickly sat back up, trying to muster another plasma bolt, but then saw that his panicked fall had pulled Drake the rest of the way into the circle. The creature glowered at him, still clutching Drake's boot in its mouth, but didn't even try to pass the circle's edge. As he looked past it, he saw the other two had awoken as well. He watched them warily as they circled, but any time they got close to the circle the flames grew higher and drove them back.

The plasma in David's hand flickered and winked out. He wasn't entirely sure if it was because he'd relaxed some or if he'd simply run dry. He slumped back a bit, then looked down at Drake. The man was struggling weakly for breath. He looked over, noting the amount of blood he'd left on the floor, and the swath left when David had dragged him. It almost looked like he'd drawn a path with a huge paint brush. He was no expert, but he had a sickening feeling this man wasn't going to be struggling for breath much longer. He'd never really seen someone die before. Well, Morgana didn't really count since she was more some kind of weird dust cloud than a person, and Balthazar didn't count since he'd been revived... but he had a strong feeling there would be no reviving this one once he'd gone.

Drake heard his pained sigh and his mouth twitched up a bit on the edges. "'s a'right, mate." He gasped weakly, "I know I'm gonna snuff it. Still, cheers for keepin me from that lot."

"You're not going to die." David lied, trying desperately to think of a way to keep it from being a lie. "There's got to be some way I can help you!" he said, trying to force one more plasma bolt.

Drake reached a shaking arm up and took his hand, squelching the pitiful plasma ball that had just started to form. He gave his head a slight shake, then swallowed hard, obviously fighting off nausea. When he settled, he opened his eyes. "I'm up the swanny, mate. Horvath snuffed me hours ago... apparently the penny just hasn't dropped yet."

"If only Balthazar was here!" David breathed, pained tears crowding his eyes. He'd never felt so helpless. Drake let go of his hand. David couldn't help but stare and the blood that covered his hand. This couldn't be happening!

David shifted back away, careful not to bump Drake, then scrubbed his sticky hands on his pant legs. He didn't care if it ruined the pants... he couldn't stand the feeling. He settled cross-legged, ignoring the flames licking around him as he stared at the slowly dying man before him.

The beasts circled slowly, glaring at them the whole time, looking completely tireless. There was no indication at all that the plasma bolts he'd hit them with earlier had left any damage whatsoever.

"Oh man!" David moaned, "Oh man, oh man, oh man!" He tugged at a bit of his hair anxiously, then remembered the blood still clinging stubbornly to his hands and stopped.

"Cotch, mate." Drake sighed, "They should snuff it at dawn."

"Really?" David asked, brightening.

"Think so." Drake muttered, his eyes drooping shut. "Guess you'll find out."

David swallowed hard, the implication that he'd be alone when dawn came making his stomach squirm. "Oh man..." He whined, pulling out his phone. As he'd expected, there were no bars. "Wish I could call Balthazar! He'd know what to do!"

Drake let out a little amused breath, "Then call him, mate."

"We're underground! There's no signal down here." David said, showing him the reading on the phone.

Drake cracked his eyes open, then closed them again, the sides of his mouth twitching up again. "You're a sodding... antenna!" He gasped softly. "Jus stand up... and hold up... your arm. You'll look... like a twat... but you'll..." his voice faded out, his head drifting to the side as his ragged breaths got a bit shallower.

David quickly got up. He watched the face of the phone. Did a bar just flicker there for a moment? He raised his arm above his head. Yes, he did indeed feel a bit like a 'twat', but it was worth it when he saw a bar start to flicker. He stood on this tip-toes, stretching his arm as high as he could and the bar stabilized. Triumphantly, he dialed the number.

He held his breath as it rang once... twice... he was getting worried... three times... then there was a clattering sound at the other end of the line.

"Hello?" Balthazar's voice muttered groggily.

Sleeping was the last thing David had expected Balthazar to be doing right now, but he was glad he was waking him up rather than the alternative! "Balthazar! I'm in the lab! There are these hideous black things with glowing red eyes in here. They were attacking me, but I'm in the circle now and they can't seem to come into the circle."

"Those sound like demons." Balthazar said, sounding suddenly much more awake. There was the sound of movement, then a little sigh of relief. "It looks like it's almost dawn. Just stay in the circle. Once dawn breaks they should disburse."

"But... but Drake Stone's here..." David said, looking down at the man worriedly. His chest wasn't rising much anymore.

"Horvath's apprentice? I thought he killed him! He had his ring..." Balthazar said, obviously puzzled.

"I don't know. I don't know. He's just... one of those things got a hold of him. He's bleeding all over the place. He's... he's dying and I don't know what to do!" he said, trying to keep from tearing up. He just felt so helpless!

"Calm down." Balthazar said firmly and he started rustling around, sounding like he was dressing. "I'm on my way. It'll probably be dawn before I even get there, but don't leave the circle until I arrive in case they try to trick you. I'll bring Veronica. She's a strong healer. Just try to get him to hold on for ten more minutes, ok?" then he hung up without waiting for a response.

David eased back down, dropping his arm and staring at the phone. He closed it and made himself look down at Drake. Ten minutes might not be much, but he was rather doubtful Drake had that much longer in him.

David sat down beside him and reached out and touched his shoulder, then stopped himself before he shook him, realizing how painful that would probably be. "Drake." He said, watching his face. There was no response, "Drake!" He said louder, nudging him ever so slightly.

Drake winced, then his eyes slowly fluttered open. The pupil of his right eye was no more than a pinpoint, the other normal looking. David was no expert, but he was fairly certain that was bad. Very bad.

"You have to stay awake. I got a hold of him. He's coming. It'll just be a few more minutes. I'm sure he can patch you up. You just need to hold on for a few more minutes."

"Sure." Drake breathed softly, though there was a little humoring grin tugging at his bloodied lips.

David wasn't sure what else to say. It was obvious speaking was uncomfortable if not painful for Drake, so he couldn't really strike up a conversation... but how else was he to keep him from drifting off again?

After a bit, Drake's head drifted to the side again, his eyelids getting heavy. Then his body tensed slightly, his eyes opening back up more. "That sodding bastard!" He gasped, looking pained.

David turned, following his gaze. One of the demons had settled down there and was currently gnawing at Drake's boot.

"Those were custom made! Cost me two hundred pounds, they did!" He said, gasping a bit from the effort.

David couldn't help the little smile that flicked over his lips. The man was dying and he was worried about his designer footwear!

The creature seemed to be aware of the distress it was causing. It hooked its teeth into the boot and yanked on it, then gnawed on the dislodged piece with obvious relish. One of the others decided to get in on the fun as well, coming over and latching its teeth into the end. With a growl the first one tried to keep hold of its prize and a tug of war began.

"Is he still alive?"

Dave's head spun around as Balthazar hurried down the steps. "Watch out!" He said quickly.

"Disburse!" Balthazar called with a flick of his wrist.

Dave looked back, but there was nothing but a mangled boot where the beasts had been.

"Bring him over here. We'll put him on the table." Balthazar said, hurrying over to the table and starting to clear it.

"I don't think we should move him." David said worriedly.

"We don't have time for this, David." The wizard said impatiently, "Just levitate him over here before he bleeds out!"

David shifted around uneasily, looking down at Drake. He looked so fragile right now. He didn't know if he could live with himself if he accidentally dropped him or something and he ended up dying.

Drake had his eyes closed, but his brow was furrowed. "Didn't hear... the gate..." He muttered curiously.

David's eyes widened and looked up at Balthazar, then gazed at him searchingly. "Where's Veronica?"

"She'll be along in a moment." Balthazar said impatiently, "Now stop wasting time and get him over here!"

"I'm tapped out. Why don't you levitate him over?" David asked, watching him carefully.

Balthazar let out a huff of irritation. "Because I told you to do it! You're my apprentice, you're supposed to do as I say. Now get him out here before I have to teach you a lesson!"

"Ok, well I'll tell you what..." David said carefully, "Step in the circle and I'll levitate him out."

"What are you babbling on about? Move him! NOW!" he roared angrily.

"Ya know..." David said thoughtfully, "I think we'd rather stay here, thanks."

"Get him over here now or we're through!" Balthazar growled with finality.

"Oh... well, that's good." David said with a hint of sarcasm, "Because you make a lousy Balthazar."

'Balthazar' let out an inhuman shriek of fury and stormed towards them as flames started sprouting from him. By the time he reached the circle he was little more than a roughly human shaped column of flame somehow mixed with utter blackness. They actually felt a little tremor as it hit the edge of the circle as if it were a wall, making the green flames of the perimeter shoot up higher. Drake's eyes flickered back open, but didn't seem to be focusing on anything, the pupils still strangely mis-matched. The other two beasts came out of hiding and started assaulting the circle as well, all now blazing brightly enough to illuminate the whole room. They pounded on the invisible wall and shrieked in impotent rage.

David couldn't help but flinch each time one assaulted the 'wall'. They couldn't break through, could they? He had no idea how strong a Merlin's circle might be when protecting against demons. He thought it was just for training really, not protection, so he'd never thought to ask how strong it might be. Not to mention he'd thought demons were just myths or religious dogma before now... and he'd been much happier when he still believed that!

Suddenly their shrieks changed as one, turning to shrieks of pain. The flames their bodies bore brightened and quickly consumed the blackness until they were pure flame... then the flames slowly seemed to consume the beasts until they grew small, then flickered out, leaving no more than black scorch marks on the floor.

David hoped fervently that they were really gone this time, but he wasn't going to test it. Balthazar said to wait in the circle, and that's just what he planned to do.

He looked down at Drake, but he'd gone still. His lips were slightly parted and his eyes were open, but the pupils now matched perfectly... they were both fully dilated and began going dull as he watched. David didn't know much about death, but this wasn't hard to recognize.

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A/N – a bit of a cliffy, yes. Sorry. Please, please review. I need to get my muse back up and running and she's being fickle. Even if you're reading this later after there are more chapters, seriously, review. I don't mind getting reviews on old chapters.

A/N 2 – for those of you who noticed, I have revised this chapter. Just correcting a few little mistakes. I went through the movie with a fine toothed comb and made a floor plan of Drake's apartment and the lab (Man was that tedious!). I also realized the boy I saw in the cafe that I based Becky's ex on was actually a named character appearing for the second time, so I corrected his name and nudged it to fit. I was a bit dismayed to find an error or two in the movie (like the "Magic: The Gathering" cardboard cut-out that was on the right of Drake's desk when Horvath used the Parasite spell disappearing by the time Balthazar got caught in the Persian rug trap... somehow I find it hard to believe Horvath moved an insignificant background prop before they got there... and how the heck did Becky go from wearing a skirt with fishnet-like stockings in class to wearing jeans after leaving class and going out into the rain? It was the same day, and she doesn't live on campus), but overall they did pretty good. A heck of a lot better than many movies I've seen. Don't get me started on the totally hosed timeline in Zoom. Liked the actors and premise well enough, but can't hardly watch it because the botched timeline bothers me so much. What can I say? I'm a Virgo...