David cursed as he stumbled off the couch after jerking awake, and stubbed his toe in his mad dash to the other side of the room where his jacket lay, ringing cell phone inside. By the time he had hobbled all the way across his lab / practice space, it had stopped ringing.
He groaned when he saw that he had not missed one, but three calls from Becky. He was already on her shit list. He briefly wondered if he forgotten a date, but all that vanished from his mind a second later when he realized what time and day it was.
He grabbed his messenger bag from the floor and dashed out the door, praying that all his latest notes on his thesis were in there. The meeting with his advisor was going to be painful as it was. Dave was still seething from the last meeting. Not taking it seriously. He’d like to see Professor Weingarten try to juggle all these things at once.
As David was skidding down the steps to the subway, he was wishing, not for the first time, that he could have magicked himself to the campus. Or, you know, at least called a dragon or something. Unfortunately, that would have most likely violated the “don’t scare the civilians” rule. And David didn’t trust his new skills quite enough yet to dissolve his molecules, or rather put them back together the right way. The last thing he tried to teleport… well, it’s a good thing he never liked that lamp anyway.
The meeting left him feeling drained. Not only because there were only so many times he could take being called a slacker, that he was wasting his potential and then be subjected to disapproving looks. But also, he really wanted to turn Weingarten into a toad. Just for a little while. Probably. He wasn’t quite sure how he would go about that. (Balthazar refused to teach him.) But he wanted to do something. Reining his abilities in wasn’t always that easy, now that he knew they were always there. Though he did get quite a bit of satisfaction remembering the look on Weingarten’s face when (what had to be his favorite coffee cup), crashed onto the floor all by itself.
Luckily, that was the only damage.
Dave checked his wrist watch – he was still late for just about the rest of his life. Not for the first time, he wondered if he could actually stop time. Not that it mattered because Balthazar wouldn’t show him (he has a bit of a stick up his ass about using magic responsibly - David just wanted to very responsibly get all the things in his life done, thank you very much) – and his time was probably better spent actually doing things instead of wondering about these things.
He gave himself a mental shake and ran to get coffee, finally, and then off to the library.
“And hello to you, too, Balthazar.” David dumped his things on the table and went to find something, anything to eat. He knew he had left a snickers bar around somewhere.
“Do we need to talk about the importance of your training again?”
“No, thanks. I’ve had quite enough of that today. Aha!” David found the chocolate bar behind the table. He used magic to levitate it right into his hands. Ignoring Balthazar’s look, he dusted the wrapper off. It was a little crushed and at some point, it had also started to melt, but he’d have eaten anything right then. “I.. You know, never mind,” he said around a mouth full of chocolate and peanuts. He gestured to the Circle. “Let’s just get to it. The sooner we get started, the sooner I can get home. To my bed.”
“David….” Balthazar used that tone again. The one that was more than a little dangerous and usually made Dave shiver just a little.
“Focusing! I am focusing.” David closed his eyes for show. “What were we going to work on again?” He cracked one eye open.
“We’re always working on control,” David groaned. “You never let me have any fun.” Sometimes it was hard to tell if he was complaining because well, Balthazar could be a little bit of a hardass as a master. Or because trying to get a rise out of him was always a good source of entertainment.
Balthazar reached into his coat and pulled out a cage that really shouldn’t have fit anywhere in there. He put it on the table very carefully, and David could hear little squeaks.
“Are those rats,” he asked a little suspiciously.
Balthazar ignored him. “Clear your mind. Focus…”
“Okay, I was wrong. This is awesome.” Once David got over his squeamishness with the rats, and, wow, there were a lot of them, he started to get a hang of it. Though he thought he really should triple check later that they were all locked up tight. Especially the mean brown one with the singed tail.
But for now, he amused himself by making them run around the rim of the Merlin’s Circle, occasionally making them do jumps and somersaults. (He was going to have to triple lock the cage.)
He wondered if he could talk Balthazar into calling him some kind of Dragon next time he could play with. (David had tried to make a living thing out of a statue exactly once so far. With his powers, he ummm… tended to go all out. The ‘little’ unicorn had been a little more than either of them had bargained for).
Then there was a loud crash and the rats started going crazy all over the place.
David spun around, towards the sound, and quickly had to duck an incoming bolt of plasma. “What the…?” He reacted on pure instinct, and the rats went swarming towards the badly-dressed guy who had come crashing in through the window. (David was beginning to wonder if bad fashion choices were part of some level he hadn’t quite reached yet. Because seriously).
The whole thing was over so quickly, David almost felt bad. The guy was too distracted by the small army of rats to counter David’s counter attack. A couple of well aimed plasma bolts, a little ball of fire, and then it was all over.
David stepped closer to inspect the shoes that were all there was left, as Balthazar used the fire extinguisher to put out the remaining bits of fire. They were pointy.
“What is it with you guys and the pointy shoes?” Shoes were a lot easier to deal with than being attacked and burning people to defend himself.
Balthazar just glared and with a distasteful snarl, he lobbed the shoes out of the window with magic. Another wave of his hand repaired the window as if nothing has ever happened. “Aren’t we forgetting something?”
“No?” At that moment, a little black rat ran over his foot. And the mean brown one – he had decided to call it Eddie - was gnawing on the other one. “Oh.”
David let himself fall backwards on the floor and stared at the fake night sky he had just painted on the ceiling. It was one of the first things he had learned, just a simple glamour spell. But it was still one of his favorites. “I don’t care what you say, I am done for tonight.”
“You did good.”
“I am awesome.” Dave turned his eyes tore his eyes away from the sparkling stars. “Did you just give me a compliment? You never give me a compliment.”
“I reserve them for times when they’re actually warranted. Using the rats was quick thinking,” came the gruff reply.
Dave waved him off in a vague yeah yeah gesture and turned his eyes back to the ceiling, smiling to himself. He’d rather not be reminded of their uninvited guest. For all the shit magic had brought into his life, things like this were worth it. He had made that. He amused himself by making some comets chase each other and then fizzle and burn in the ‘atmosphere’.
Balthazar watched him bemused. For all the gravity magic carried, it was also pure joy. Watching somebody else discover that, it had been a long time since he’d seen that. Longer since he had felt it.
“I wish Becky was here right now. She’d love this.”
“I’m sure she would.”
Dave looked at him because he sounded a little strange, but shrugged it off and went back to watching the stars chase each other. Even after months, he still had no clue what went on in Balthazar’s head at any given time.
“Come on, let’s get you home.” Balthazar offered David a hand and hauled him up to his feet.
“What happened to ‘I’m not a taxi driver’ when I asked if you could drop me off at the library last week,” David asked as they moved down to the street level.
“It would be a shame if you survived Morgana, only to die when you walk in front of a car.”
“Awww. So you do care after all.”
“Get in the car, David.”
Some time later, Balthazar sat perched on a window and watched his Apprentice sleep. So much power. He wondered if David might not one day surpass even Balthazar’s own master. But he still had so much to learn. So young. So stubborn. And running off into a million different directions at once. Balthazar didn’t quite know what to do with that. He didn’t remember Veronica or himself, not even Maxim, ever being quite so scattered. And word was beginning to get out about this new powerful sorcerer. Most didn’t quite believe that he was actually the Prime Merlinian. Though the simple fact that David had defeated Morgana should tell them otherwise.
Soon, there would be more sorcerers appearing, wanting to test their mettle. Or to stop him before he reached his full potential. Change was in the air. More things to come.
David twisted in his bed, restless even in sleep.
Balthazar flicked a finger, and the covers slipped back over David. With a hand wave, he smoothed an incorporeal hand over David’s head. Which actually seemed to calm him a little.
Balthazar breathed in the cool night air, and with a last gaze and short prayer to the stars, he turned around and made his own way home.