Chapter 2: A Visit to Alex
That Monday morning, Lucas was waiting for his sons to finish getting ready for school. He stood by the front door, arms crossed as he watched the stairs, anticipating the moment that either Sean or Tim would be coming down. He then pulled out his phone and checked the time. It was 7:00. Lucas groaned impatiently.
“Sean! Tim! C’mon, we’re gonna—oh!”
Lucas was cut off when he saw his oldest son Sean hurrying down the stairs, one backpack strap slung over his arm while the other one dangled off the side.
“Hey dad. Tim’s just finishing up. He said he’ll be down in a moment.” Sean said hurriedly, breathing a little heavily.
“Alright but we gotta get going soon. Remember, we’re picking up Drake, Jake, and Crystal too.” Said Lucas as he slipped his phone back into his pants pocket.
“I know.” Replied Sean.
Five more minutes passed and Tim still hadn’t made his way downstairs. Growing more anxious and impatient, Lucas was about to holler up the stairs for his son to hurry however before he could say anything, Tim quickly shuffled down the stairs where his father and older brother were waiting for him.
“Ready Tim?” Asked Lucas.
“Mmm-hmm.” Tim nodded at his dad.
“Alright then. Let’s get going guys.” Said Lucas as he opened the door.
Tim and Sean made their way to their father’s Ford Focus. Thanks to Eig’nia, Lucas’s old car was blown up during the battle against Saulstrance and his Followers. Several days after Lucas and the others returned home, Lucas contacted his insurance company and with their help, he was able to pay for a brand new Ford Focus.
With how much room Lucas’s new car had, Lucas offered to Titus, Sarah, and Crystal’s parents to drive Drake, Jake, and Crystal to and from school should they ever need it. Grateful to Lucas’s offer but not wanting him to burn up so much gas, Crystal’s parents as well as Titus and Sarah offered instead to switch up who would take their children to school. On one day it would be Lucas while on another day it would be either Crystal’s mom or dad, and then on the next day, it would be either Titus or Sarah. Liking this plan, Lucas agreed with his son’s friends’ parents.
Sean sat up front, placing his backpack right in between his feet while Tim sat in the back, his arms wrapped around his backpack as he held it tightly against his chest. Lucas took his place in the driver’s seat. After inserting his key into the ignition, Lucas pulled out of the driveway and drove in the direction of Titus’s house.
Drake and Jake stood by the sidewalk right outside their house. Jake turned his attention to the right of the road and leaned forward slightly, checking to see if Lucas was coming. Two cars passed the boys by but neither of them belonged to Lucas. Neither Drake nor Jake had to wait too much longer as just a few minutes later, Lucas’s car pulled into the driveway. They hurried over to the car and got in, setting their bags on the floor.
“Morning Drake. Morning Jake.” Lucas greeted as he pulled out of the driveway.
“Hey Uncle Lucas.” Drake greeted back.
“How are you two doing today?” Asked Lucas.
“Tired.” Answered Jake with a yawn.
“I hear ya, Jake.” Lucas responded with a yawn of his own following. “Oh, don’t do that Jake. You’re making me yawn now.”
Lucas’s car made its way down the street. The next destination was Drake, Jake, Sean, and Crystal’s old elementary school, Elwood Elementary. Since Crystal’s house was close to the grade school, this made it easy for Lucas to kill two birds with one stone as he would be able to drop Tim off and then he could just pick Crystal up right in front of the school instead of having to drive to her house.
As the car continued along to its destination, Drake asked Tim if Ms. Thermacker was still having him come in to tell the older kids the story of how they beat Saulstrance and saved the world. Since Drake and his friends graduated from grade school, their old fifth grade teacher, Ms. Thermacker would have Tim come to her class sometimes to tell her students about how Tim and his friends and family set off to stop the ones responsible for destroying the mall.
The day after returning home, before Tim had started going to school, Ms. Thermacker asked Drake, Jake, Crystal, and Sean to tell the class everything that happened during their journey. Neither she nor her students had ever heard anything like it. The tale Drake and the others recalled would have been too fantastical for them to believe if not for Drake himself. Since Drake’s teacher as well as his classmates had witnessed him change into a half-dragon firsthand, they knew that this wasn’t just a made up story by four young kids.
The hardest part of the story would always be the end. It was hardest for Sean and Crystal to tell since they very nearly lost their best friend that day, it was hard for Drake since he would have ended up as the world’s only surviving half-dragon if not for the incredible kindness exhibited by his dad, and it was difficult for Jake since he lost his dad.
The first time Drake and the others told their story, Jake feared that his classmates and possibly even his teacher would either come to fear or hate him since his dad was the one responsible for the attack on the mall as well as the deaths and captures of numerous humans. The reaction he received instead was one he could never have expected: his classmates and teacher showed him compassion and understanding. They held no ill will towards Jake, they weren’t afraid of him. If anything, they felt sorry for him for losing his father. Just like Drake’s father, Ms. Thermacker and her class understood that just because Jake’s father may have done some bad things, that didn’t mean that Jake himself was a bad person. Although they had only gotten to spend a short time with Jake before he, Saulstrance, and the rest of the Followers left for Death Valley, in that short time, they had gotten to see that Jake wasn’t mean or evil and thus were more than willing to welcome Jake back with open arms.
“Yep! It’s always really fun getting to tell that story.” Beamed Tim as he nodded excitedly.
“Do you think any of the fifth graders believe it though? I mean, Drake, you and dad were on TV so I’m sure most of California, if not most of the country saw the news report back then but…even then there are those people who don’t believe what the news showed them.” Jake inquired thoughtfully.
“Yeah, I…I don’t know.” Responded Drake with a shrug of his shoulders.
After several more blocks, Lucas came upon Elwood Elementary. There by the playground equipment stood Crystal. Behind her there were a rather large group of kids playing on the jungle gym, waiting for the day to start for them. She waved to the car as it stopped right beside her. The back car door opened and out from it came Tim.
“Hey Crystal.” Tim greeted Crystal with a wide smile on his face.
“Morning kid. You have a good day Tim.” Crystal smiled back at the younger kid.
“You too Crystal!” Tim said as he hurried past Crystal as he noticed his friends standing by the building talking amongst each other.
Crystal took her seat in the same spot that Tim had been sitting in. She sat her book bag on the ground next to her friends’.
Before taking off, Lucas looked out the window that Sean was seated next to. He watched as Tim approached two girls and two boys who were the same age as him. Lucas immediately recognized the girls as Rick’s daughters, Samantha and Lauren. When Tim began his first day of school, Lucas and Rick learned that their children would be going to the same school together. The three of them became fast friends and then a year later, Tim met two boys in his first grade class, one of whom was a new student just starting over at Elwood whose name was Sawyer. The other boy, named Wyatt had befriended Sawyer and through him became friends with Tim as well as Samantha and her twin sister Lauren.
Lucas smiled. It always made him feel good to see his sons together with their friends. With Tim having been dropped off and Crystal picked up, Lucas drove some way down the street, pulled into the driveway of the house that Jake once called home, and pulled out, driving away in the opposite direction.
Following Jake’s adoption by Titus and Sarah, his old house was put up for sale. While Jake hated to leave behind his old home, he also realized that 1. He was much too young to be able to take care of a house all by himself let alone live on his own and 2. Titus and Sarah would have no way of being able to pay for both their house and Jake’s. The day after returning home from Baker Valley, Titus and Sarah got to work right away on helping Jake clear his, Saulstrance’s, and Alex’s belongings from the house, many of which had been stored away in boxes while other things such as Jake’s consoles and lava lamp as well as Alex’s drawing that Jericho made for him and Saulstrance’s, or rather Tourajé’s sword Jake kept in his room, the latter two which he saw as mementos of his deceased father and adopted brother both of whom he thought of just about every day.
Lucas drove in the direction of his son’s and his friends’ school. Along the way, Crystal asked her friends if they had finished their homework.
“Mmm-hmm!” Drake nodded as he pulled his backpack up from between his legs and patted the front of it. “It took me a while but I was finally able to finish it last night. With Jake’s help of course.”
“Well maybe with the math portion but you helped me a lot on my English homework.” Said Jake, smiling at his adoptive brother.
Drake beamed back at Jake. “Well, math was never my forte but I’ve always done pretty well when it came to English.” The teenage half-dragon stated.
“What about you Sean? Did you get your homework done?” Asked Crystal.
“Uh huh. It took me a little bit to get everything taken care of too but with my dad’s help, I think it should be alright.” Sean answered.
“Well I’m glad I could help you Sean but I have to say that trying to help you and your brother with your homework and his at the same time sure isn’t easy. It can be pretty hard just to keep track of who’s working on what. Especially when both of you have a lot of homework that needs to be finished.” Stated Lucas.
Sean sighed, feeling a little troubled. “I know dad. It’s just that lately Tim hasn’t been asking me to help him with his homework. I don’t understand why. Maybe he thinks that now that I’m in high school, I don’t have time to help him with anything.” The teenager theorized.
Crystal, Drake, and Jake shot a glance at each other. They had a feeling there was more to it than Tim just believing his big brother was busy. They recalled last Saturday at the park with how Sean was acting more like a parent to Tim than a brother, scolding Tim not to eat so fast or to run slower so that he didn’t make himself sick after eating. While the three understood that Sean only wanted to look out for his younger sibling, they were also sure that Tim wasn’t too happy with how overprotective Sean could be. The three teens believed that Tim more than likely just wanted Sean to lay off him a little and to stop being so overbearing.
A short time afterward, Lucas drove his car up to the front of Drake, Jake, Sean, and Crystal’s high school, Ocean Clear High School. The four friends grabbed their bags, thanked Sean’s dad for driving them, and made their way into school. The hallway was full of kids, many of whom were at their lockers either putting their belongings away or acquiring the materials they needed for their first classes of the day while the other students were hurriedly making their way to their first class.
It was at this point that Drake and his friends bid their goodbyes to each other, letting one another know that they’d hang out during lunch just as they always did. With that, Drake headed for his locker with Sean, Crystal, and Jake making their lockers their first stops as well. Once they had finished putting away the belongings they didn’t need for their first class, Drake headed to his first class for the day which was history while Sean made his way to his first class, art, and Jake and Crystal walked together to their science class which was in the lowest level of the school.
Four classes later, the lunch bell rang, letting the first wave of students know that it was time for them to acquire food. At Ocean Clear High School, there were two different lunch periods. The first one began at 11:45 and went until 12:20. The second lunch period would then begin shortly after with that one starting at 12:35 and ending at 1:00. Drake, Jake, Sean, and Crystal had the first lunch, something which made all four of them happy since, during their first semester of ninth grade, Sean ended up being separated from his friends as he was given the first lunch period and Drake, Jake, and Crystal had the second. While Sean didn’t mind this too much as he, like his friends did have other friends from school who had the same lunch period as him, he still wished he could have gotten to eat with his best friends. By the time the second semester came and Sean learned he would finally be getting to eat with Drake, Jake, and Crystal, the teenaged boy was overjoyed. Drake and the others showed Sean to the table they had been eating at the previous semester and since then, the four friends ate lunch together every day.
After getting their food, the four teenagers walked together to their usual spot and sat down. Drake and Sean sat next to each other while Jake and Crystal sat across from them. Shortly after the four of them had each taken their first bite of their lunch, Crystal had a question for Drake and Jake.
“So guys, there’s something I’ve been wondering about for a pretty long time.” Announced Crystal as she finished taking a drink of her soda.
“What were you thinking about Crystal?” Drake asked as he reached for his taco wrap and proceeded to take a bite.
“Well, Drake, we know that when you’re in your half-dragon form, your claws are able to absorb elements like water or fire, right?” Crystal began with her question.
Drake sat his taco wrap down on his tray. He flashed a confused look at Crystal and then held the back of his hand up to his face as he examined his fingernails.
“Right…” Drake answered in an unsure tone, not understanding where Crystal was going with her question.
“And Jake, you can manipulate elements.” Crystal stated.
“Uh huh…” Jake also wasn’t sure what point Crystal was trying to make.
“Well, I’ve been wondering if you two might be able to manipulate the weather. Say for instance if it were to rain then maybe Drake could use his claws to absorb some of the rain or perhaps Jake could control some of the rain and you could keep yourself from getting wet.” Crystal suggested.
Drake and Jake looked at each other. Neither of them were sure how to answer since the thought of being able to control the weather never crossed their minds before. Both Drake and Jake, however were certain that such a feat wasn’t something they could do.
“Umm, Crystal, I don’t think we could do something like that. I mean, we’re half-dragons, we’re not gods.” Said Jake in a slightly unsure tone.
“Well it is supposed to rain a little after school. Why don’t we see if we can do it on the way home?” Drake suggested, taking a drink of soda.
“Yeah. I wanna see myself if you two can do such a thing. I mean, I kind of doubt it myself but it would be cool to see if it could be done.” Sean agreed with Drake’s suggestion.
With the interests of their friends, as well as their own intrigue peaked, the four teenagers agreed to give what they called “Operation Weather Control” a go. They just hoped that it wouldn’t start raining before school let out for them.
“So long as we’re going to be commencing Operation Weather Control, I was wondering if maybe you guys wanted to go visit Alex after school with me. I was planning to go visit him before we went home but I think he’d like it if we all went.” Said Jake.
“I wouldn’t mind going to see Alex.” Said Sean as he finished taking a drink of his chocolate milk.
“It’s been a little bit since I last paid a visit to his grave. I think you’re right Jake. I think he would like it if we all visited.” Crystal said, giving a kind smile to her friend.
“You already know my answer Jake.” Said Drake, flashing a smile of his own at his adopted brother.
Jake smiled back at his friends, thanking them for being such good friends to him and to Alex.
Before anything could be set in stone however, Sean quickly made mention that if they were going to go see Alex that he’d first need to make a stop over at Elwood so that he could pick up Tim.
Crystal was somewhat surprised as she had thought that Lucas would be picking them up from school. When she mentioned this to Sean, Sean informed her that his dad had to work a little later today so he wouldn’t be able to pick them up from school.
“Is this okay, Jake?” Sean asked.
Jake shrugged his shoulders. “Sure. Why wouldn’t it be?”
Sean smiled at his friend. “Thanks dude.”
Jake nodded and smiled back at Sean.
The rest of the school day went as normal for the four teens. Come 2:40, the bell rang signaling the end of the day. Jake grabbed his things from his locker and waited outside by the front doors of the school. He eyed the doors as he waited for his friends to come through them. Since his last class was closer to his locker than the others’, Jake knew that it would probably take them a little while to collect their belongings. He just hoped that it wouldn’t take them too long.
Dozens of kids continued to pour out from the school doors but none of them were Drake, Crystal, or Sean. Jake sighed, becoming somewhat impatient. He pulled out his phone and checked the time. It was 2:49. While it hadn’t been that long, he was also sure that by this point, one of them would have finished up by now. He was about to call Drake’s number when suddenly he was startled by a tapping on his shoulder. With a loud “Geez!”, Jake swung around to find Drake, Crystal, and Sean standing behind him.
“Whoa! Sorry Jake, I didn’t mean to startle you.” Said Drake who was just as surprised by Jake’s response as Jake was to his being poked.
Jake took a deep sigh. “It’s alright. That was just…pretty unexpected that’s all. Anyway, you guys ready?”
“Mmm-hmm!” Said Drake with a nod.
“I’m good to go.” Sean responded.
“I’m ready. Let’s get going.” Answered Crystal.
The four friends departed from school. Their first stop was their old elementary school to pick up Tim. Their school was about half an hour to forty-five minutes away from Elwood so by the time they arrived, they either wouldn’t have to wait too long or Tim would have just been getting out.
Dark rain clouds were slowly forming overhead as the temperature dropped somewhat. As Drake, Jake, Sean, and Crystal continued along their way, they would periodically look up into the sky to see if any raindrops were starting to fall. As they got closer to their old grade school, they noticed that not a single drop of rain had fallen. They hoped that the rain wouldn’t pass over them. This was one of the very few times of year where they actually got rain and Sean and Crystal especially were interested in finding out if Drake and Jake could use their powers on the weather.
After walking for almost an hour, they came up to Elwood Elementary School. Cars and school busses were parked close to the building while others filled the parking lot and several parents and older siblings waited near the front of the school to collect their children or younger siblings. Just as they approached the school, the bell rang.
“Good timing.” Crystal stated.
“No kidding.” Sean chuckled a little.
Suddenly, waves of younger kids came bursting through the doors. They spread out in different directions, some of the children running for their parents’ cars while others ran up to their parents and/or brothers and sisters who were waiting to pick them up. Some of the kids also ran for the playground equipment, wishing to get some last minute recess in before returning home.
Sean, along with his friends, kept an eye out for Tim, making sure they didn’t miss him in case he couldn’t find them right away. It was hard for them to keep an eye out for the younger kid with all the children who were still pouring out of the school doors.
Eyeing the school doors carefully, Sean spotted another group of kids exiting the building, amongst them was Tim. He was accompanied by his friends Samantha, Lauren, Wyatt, and Sawyer. Sawyer and Wyatt bid farewell to Tim, Samantha, and Lauren as the two boys ran for a nearby bus which was parked close to the flagpole at the front of the school. Tim and the twin girls headed in the opposite direction towards the parking lot. Sean wondered where Tim and the girls were going. Their dad told both of them that he would be working a little later than usual and that Sean would be picking him up by the jungle gym so Sean wondered why Tim was going past where they were supposed to meet up. He tried to call his brother’s name but the chatter from the kids and their families drowned his voice out. Sean hurried after Tim with his friends following behind him.
Stopping in between two other cars, Sean, Crystal, Jake, and Drake watched as Tim and his friends stopped in front of a dark brown car. From the front window, they could see that the people inside of this car were Rick and his wife. Rick’s wife sat in the driver’s seat while he sat upfront in the passenger’s seat. During the battle against Saulstrance and his Followers, Rikai, who was one of Saulstrance’s Five Apprentices, had badly burned Rick’s legs as well as the lower half of his back. As a result of this, Rick had lost the use of his legs and had been confined to a wheelchair for the past four years. Originally, Rikai had intended his fire to be used on Sarah but thanks to Rick’s sacrifice, Sarah was barely able to escape being burned alive.
With Tim’s back turned to his brother and his friends, an idea suddenly formed in Sean’s mind: he was going to prank Tim. Slowly, he approached his brother. He noticed Rick’s family catch sight of him and put his finger up to his mouth letting them know that he didn’t want them to give him away to Tim. As he got behind his brother, he tapped him on the shoulder, startling his younger sibling who let out a small gasp as he jumped and spun around to see who it was that was behind him.
“Oh, hey Sean. You scared me.” Gasped Tim as he took some deep breaths to try and calm himself.
Sean chuckled, ruffling his little brother’s hair. “Sorry, lil’ buddy, I just couldn’t resist.”
“Hey Uncle Rick, Aunt Becky. Hey Sammy and Lauren.” Drake smiled, greeting Rick and his family.
“Hey guys. Did you just get out too?” Rick asked.
“About an hour ago. We’re just here to pick up Tim then we’re going to go to the cemetery.” Explained Sean.
“Go see Alex?” Rick asked.
“Is that okay Tim? You can come with us if you want.” Sean asked his brother.
“Yeah, I’ll come.” Answered Tim.
“Well, trust me guys, I’d give you all a lift if you wanted. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’d be able to fit all of you in.” Rick said, nodding towards his back seat which only had enough room for about two to three people.
“It’s okay. The cemetery’s a way’s away but we’ll make it. We can just take the light rail train.” Said Crystal.
Tim groaned in annoyance. If it was going to be as crowded as it was last time, then Tim wasn’t looking forward to having to ride the train again. If they really were going to have to take the train, Tim thought to himself, then he hoped that at least it wouldn’t be jam packed with people again.
“Well if that’s your plan, then we’ll leave you to it. In the meantime, the four of us have some errands to take care of before we head home. See you Drake, Jake, Crystal, Sean, and Tim.” Said Rick, bidding goodbye to his nephews and their friends.
“See you later, guys.” Becky smiled, waving goodbye to Drake and the others.
“See you tomorrow Tim.” Sammy said.
“Bye.” Tim said, waving to the twins.
Samantha and Lauren hopped into the backseat of their mom’s car. Once they were buckled in, Becky backed out of the parking space and drove out of the parking lot, leaving the five kids to their own devices.
Shortly following Rick and his family’s departure from the school, the five kids soon followed. They made their way down the street towards the nearest light rail station which was about thirty minutes away from the grade school.
Along the way, Sean asked his little brother if he wanted to see something cool. This caught Tim’s interest as he wondered what the cool thing was that his big brother wanted to show him. When he asked Sean what it was, Sean explained to his little brother that they were going to try an experiment to see if it was possible for Drake and Jake to manipulate the weather in anyway.
“Whoa! Really?! You think you’ll be able to do it?” Tim asked excitedly but still slightly skeptical. Despite being only nine years old, even Tim knew there was no realistic way that anybody, even two half-dragons like his friends could do something like control the weather.
Drake and Jake shrugged. They weren’t so sure themselves. As they had said before, despite having their incredible powers, they weren’t gods. Even Drake and Jake knew that their abilities had their limits and that being able to manipulate the weather would probably mean that they were rather overpowered.
Despite these thoughts however, they thought it couldn’t hurt to give it a shot. They, like their friends, just wished that the rain would commence soon. With how dark the clouds were getting, Drake and the others were surprised that it hadn’t even so much as begun drizzling. They had to wonder if maybe the weather knew of their plan and was trying to hold off for as long as possible on the rain just to taunt them.
Upon arriving at the station, the five friends took a seat and waited for the light rail train to arrive. While they waited, they watched the lingering clouds above them as full as ever yet still refusing to provide even a light shower. For a moment, the sound of thunder rumbled throughout the sky. The five kids thought that if it was beginning to thunder then maybe it would start to rain soon. They just hoped that the rain wouldn’t start coming down too hard while they were on the train.
About ten minutes passed and the train eventually pulled into the station. Several people exited the cabins. Drake, Jake, Tim, Sean, and Crystal squeezed past the group of people going past them and took their seats with Drake, Jake, and Crystal sitting together in one row while Sean and Tim sat in the row across from them. To their relief, especially Tim’s, the cabin was almost completely empty save for them and just three other people which ended up becoming five other people as two more boarded just a little after they had.
The doors to the cabin closed and the train departed from the station, beginning its journey to the next station. From inside the train, Drake and the others could hear the sound of the thunder once again only this time, it sounded somewhat louder. They figured that the rain must be coming soon. If this was the case, they hoped that it wouldn’t start before they got out.
The cemetery was a bit farther away from their houses than Thelway Park was. It would take them two more stops before they arrived at their destination. When at last they finally did arrive, it was still a five block walk for them before they made it to the cemetery.
As the train came to a screeching stop, Drake, Crystal, Sean, Jake, and Tim stood up and left. They promptly made their way down the road that the cemetery was on. They passed through two neighborhoods which contained a group of apartments on the first block as well as some houses for the same block and then the block after that. At the third block, the area became slightly busier as more businesses, namely restaurants and a single bar along with a daycare center occupied the area. This quickly changed as by the fourth block, the five kids found themselves walking through another neighborhood until finally coming across one final neighborhood. It was in this neighborhood in which the cemetery where Alex was buried was located. The cemetery was right across the street from a row of houses and was large enough that it encompassed almost the majority of the neighborhood.
Drake, Jake, Sean, Crystal, and Tim crossed the street and walked around the corner to where the entrance to the cemetery was. Along the way, they could feel several raindrops pelt them. Looking up into the sky, they noticed that it was beginning to rain.
“Finally.” Sighed Sean.
“Well, Drake and Jake, you guys going to try it?” Crystal asked.
Drake looked over at Jake. The two of them shook their heads.
“Not just yet. Let’s wait until it starts to come down harder. And when we’re in a spot where there aren’t a lot of people around.” Suggested Drake.
“Okay. That sounds like a good idea.” Crystal agreed.
The five friends continued into the cemetery. On their way to Alex’s grave, they felt the temperature start to drop and the rain begin to pick up as well as the loud rumbling of thunder overhead. They were sure that at any moment, it would start to pour.
As they continued a little further along, their hunch was proven right as slowly but surely, the rain began to come down a little harder and the thunder grew a bit louder. Although the rain was picking up, Drake and Jake still chose to hold off on trying their powers out on the rain until it picked up just a little more.
Eventually, Drake, Jake, Crystal, Sean, and Tim made it to where Alex was buried. By that point, the rain was now coming down at a much faster pace. Thunder boomed loudly in the sky as the five friends looked up. Drake and Jake turned to each other, nodded knowingly, and transformed into their half-dragon forms. Drake was the first of the half-dragons to try. He raised his hand into the sky, concentrated as his fingernails grew thicker, forming into claws. He could feel the raindrops pelting his claws and although he couldn’t tell, Drake was sure that his claws were absorbing them.
After about five minutes, Drake was sure that he had gotten at least a somewhat sufficient amount of rainwater absorbed into his body. He lowered his hand and turned to Sean. A devilish grin on his face, he began to raise a clawed finger. Sean, however, knew right away what Drake was planning.
“Don’t even think about it Drake.” Warned Sean, sounding annoyed at Drake for even thinking about spraying him in the face yet again.
“Come on Sean.” Laughed Drake. “It might feel pretty refreshing.” The half-dragon boy teased.
“Then spray yourself dude! If I was a half-dragon and I had your powers, I wouldn’t keep spraying you in the face with water.” Sean protested.
“Yeah you would.” Drake said knowingly, smirking. He knew Sean better than that and he knew that Sean was every bit of a prankster as he was.
“Eh…point proven.” Sean yielded, his tone quickly changing.
Crystal, Jake, and Tim smiled at the two boys, snickering to themselves as they listened to their friends bicker. Drake and Sean took notice of this, grinned at their friends, and laughed along with them.
Drake held out his index finger and aimed it into the sky. An extremely minute stream of water expelled from Drake’s claws, flying several feet into the air before dropping to the ground.
“Well…I guess I can…kind of do it.” Drake said in a questioning tone.
“Well it also hasn’t really started raining that hard. Now if it was really pouring you might be able to get some more rainwater into your claws.” Theorized Crystal, looking closely at Drake’s claws.
“Probably…” Drake said unsurely as he looked down at his hand, watching as he changed his claws back into his regular fingernails.
“Alright then, it’s all you Jake! Let’s see what you can do!” Sean said excitedly.
“Okay then.” Jake nodded as he raised his own hand into the sky.
Jake held his hand up in front of him for a few moments before slowly moving it to his left. Nothing happened. He tried to quickly jerk his arm to the right. Still no results. Jake then tried up and down even zig zagging but the raindrops didn’t follow his arm whatsoever.
As Jake lowered his arm, suddenly, a loud, booming thunder erupted through the sky, followed by a bolt of lightning. As Jake watched the lightning disappear, an idea suddenly formed in his brain. Although unlikely, Jake pondered if it might be possible that he could control lightning. Curious, Jake focused his attention on the part of the sky where the lightning flashed and held his hand out in front of it. As the lightning flashed once again, Jake thrust his arm out in an attempt to get the lightning to come to him but before anything could happen, Crystal grabbed Jake’s shoulder and asked him what he was trying to do.
“Huh?” Jake asked, suddenly knocked back to his senses. “Oh, sorry Crystal I…I just wanted to see if I could manipulate lightning.”
“LIGHNING?!” Sean exclaimed, scared by Jake’s answer to Crystal’s question. “Look, Jake, A for effort and everything but I’d rather not end up well grilled Sean.”
“I don’t exactly want to end up a cooked half-dragon either.” Added Drake.
“Or a medium rare girl.” Crystal chimed in.
“I wouldn’t wanna be a deep fried kid either.” Tim finished, grinning.
“Okay guys, I get it. Sorry, I know I wasn’t thinking.” Apologized Jake, laughing nervously.
“It’s fine dude. Just…promise you won’t try to do anything crazy like that again.” Drake assured his adopted brother.
Jake smiled and nodded in agreement. “I promise.”
Just before Drake, Sean, Tim, Jake, and Crystal were able to continue on their way to Alex’s grave, they could hear the sound of a car approaching. They looked back to see a car pulling up alongside them. They watched as two people stepped out of the car, a woman who appeared to be in her later thirties to early forties who had long light brown hair and beautiful blue eyes and a girl who appeared to be about the same age as the four teenagers. The girl’s hair was a darker brown than the older woman’s and ran down to her shoulders and her eyes were an emerald green. The girl looked surprised as she laid eyes upon Drake and Jake whose half-dragon appendages were still visible. Drake and Jake noticed that they were still in their half-dragon forms and gasped in shock, realizing they had unintentionally just revealed their true forms to other humans.
The five kids took note of the surprised looks in the woman’s and the girl’s eyes. While Drake, Sean, Crystal, and Tim believed it was just because they were surprised to have seen two boys with draconic appendages attached to them, Jake believed there was another reason for their reactions. While he couldn’t be certain, he felt as though he had seen the woman and girl somewhere before but he couldn’t place where he had seen them.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to gawk. It’s just that when I saw you two, I was reminded of an old friend of mine.” The girl finally spoke.
Surprised washed over the five kids as their eyes widened in shock to what the girl had just said. Their dragon parts reminded her of an old friend of hers? Drake, Crystal, Sean, and Tim were confused. If Drake and Jake reminded her of a friend of hers, they pondered, then could she have been friends with another half-dragon? Just who was this girl, the four kids thought to themselves. Jake, however, had another thought. He was certain now: this girl and the woman she was with, he had seen them before or rather, younger versions of them.
“This old friend of yours. Was his name Alex?” Jake asked, although he was certain he already knew the answer.
“Yeah. Alex and I lived in the same orphanage. Back then we were best friends until something happened and I…” Said the girl in a saddened tone.
“Then…you’re Laurie! And you’re Sarah, right?” Asked Jake, pointing to both of them as he said their names.
Sarah and Laurie were surprised to hear that he knew who they were. Laurie confirmed that Jake was correct but asked how he knew who they were. Of course, Jake couldn’t mention to them that he knew who they were thanks to the help of a friend of his and Alex’s using a spell which allowed him to see into Alex’s memories. Despite them knowing that he, Drake, and Alex were half-dragons, Jake was sure that they’d never be able to believe something like that. Instead, Jake told them that while he and Alex grew up together, he would always tell Jake stories about the only two people who were ever kind to him at the orphanage he used to live in.
Laurie gasped in surprise. With the way things had ended between her and Alex when they were little, she never would have expected that he still thought about her or Sarah. This brought a smile to Laurie’s face. She teared up a little, happy to know that, in the end, her old friend didn’t hate her like she thought.
“So then I guess I don’t even need to ask that you and Alex…” Sarah began to ask.
“Yep. Alex was my adopted brother. My name is Jake and I’m a half-dragon like Alex.” Said Jake, introducing himself.
“This is Drake. He’s also a half-dragon and his family adopted me. These are my best friends. Sean and his younger brother Tim. And this is Crystal. The three of them are pureblooded humans.” Jake finished as he introduced the rest of his friends to Sarah and Laurie.
“Hi there.” Greeted Sean, holding a hand up as a way of saying hi.
“It’s nice to meet all of you but…um…Jake, maybe you could explain some things to us? Like, what is a half-dragon for starters. Also, you said that Alex was adopted by your family but then you were adopted by Drake’s family, right? What exactly happened and did it have something to do with how Alex died?” Asked Sarah hurriedly, attempting to make sense of everything she had been told.
“Well, it’s a pretty long story but I guess I could try to shorten it as best as I can. Come on. I’ll tell you two on the way to Alex’s grave.” Jake said, waving everyone in the direction of Alex’s gravestone.
Along the way, Jake explained to Sarah and Laurie what a half-dragon was as well as the journey he and Alex had undergone four years ago. Drake also gave his side of the story. Despite Jake’s attempt to keep the story as short and as sweet as possible, he and Drake ended up chronicling almost every step in their last adventure. Laurie and Sarah were left awestruck once Drake and Jake had finished.
“That’s really hard to believe. It’s like something out of a fantasy novel.” Noted Sarah as she held her thumb and index finger over her chin contemplatively.
“I know but it’s true. Every word of it.” Jake assured Laurie and Sarah.
“Well…here we are…” Said Jake in a slightly sadder tone of voice.
The group walked past the line of tombstones that Alex’s was located in. It was the fifth one from the end. Jake and the rest of the group stopped before Alex’s grave and looked down at it. Jake exhaled a melancholic sigh. No matter how many times they visited Alex, it never got any easier for them, especially for Drake and Jake.
Jake squatted down, getting at the same level as Alex’s tombstone, his tail dropping into the dampened grass as he held his left hand over his right and sighed again.
“Hey Jake, I’m sorry. Really I…” Said Drake in an almost toneless voice as he placed a hand on Jake’s shoulder.
“Drake, every time we come to visit Alex, you always say you’re sorry. You don’t have to keep apologizing. You know I know you didn’t mean to do what happened.” Jake smiled both a sad yet understanding smile.
Drake smiled back at Jake. He knew that Jake no longer blamed him for what happened even if he had been the one responsible for Alex’s death but nonetheless, this was an incident that, despite having occurred four years ago, continued to remain fresh in Drake’s mind. It was because Drake was so haunted by the memory of his tail stabbing Alex through the stomach that he swore that should he ever fight again, he would never kill anyone else, not even if that person was as bad as Saulstrance. No matter what, Drake never again wanted to be the one responsible for taking a life.
“Hey, Sarah, Laurie? Do you hate me for what I did?” Asked Drake, a sad, regretful look in his eyes.
“Well…” Sarah began in a breathless tone. “I can’t say I condone taking a life. It’s one of, if not the worst sin a person can commit.”
“Oh…” Drake said sadly as he looked to the ground, his finned ears flattening and his wings drooping, now feeling even worse.
“However…” Continued Sarah. “When I look at you, I know that you’re not a bad person, Drake. I understand that what happened between you and Alex was an accident and that you would never be the type of person to enjoy hurting someone else. Trust me. I’m known for being a pretty good judge of character.” Sarah said, smiling kindly at the young half-dragon.
Drake smiled back at Sarah and thanked her for her kind words, his spirits having been lifted. Sarah nodded in return.
“Like Sarah, I don’t hold anything against you either Drake. If anything, I hate myself for not sticking by Alex when he needed me most. I think if I had stuck up for him back when we were little instead of getting scared by him, maybe he would never have run away.” Laurie said guiltily, hanging her head in shame.
“But then Alex and I would have never met and we never would have become brothers. You don’t have to blame yourself, Laurie. It wasn’t all bad in the end. Besides, Alex was also able to find people other than me who really cared about him. Quite a few of those people were actually human, much to his surprise I’m sure.” Jake said, sounding slightly peppier as he turned his head, looking over at Laurie who was standing to his left.
Jake’s words helped make Laurie feel somewhat better. Still, however, she wished that she hadn’t driven him away back then after he had attacked that kid for throwing dodgeballs at him. Even though Laurie knew she was only a little girl back then, she still blamed herself.
“Right Alex?” Asked Jake as he turned his focus back to his adopted brother’s grave.
“I just wanted to come by and visit you Alex. I brought Drake, Sean, Tim, and Crystal with me. And Sarah and Laurie are here too. We hope you’re doing alright. Right guys?” Asked Jake.
“Yep.” Laurie agreed.
Laurie took a step forward. She kneeled down and placed a hand on her deceased friend’s grave.
“Hey Alex. It’s Laurie. Like Jake said, Sister Sarah’s here too.” Said Laurie, a sad smile still worn on her face.
“Laurie, you don’t have to call me ‘sister’ anymore. I haven’t been a nun for fourteen years.” Sarah said.
“I know. It just feels a little strange otherwise. Anyway…Alex, there’s something I’ve wanted to say to you for a long time. I’m sorry. You and I were best friends back at the orphanage and I sure didn’t treat you like one the night you ran away. Ever since you left, I’ve always felt awful for the way I treated you.” Laurie said, sniffling twice as she spoke to Alex.
Laurie stopped speaking for a quick moment. After taking in a deep breath and then exhaling followed by another sniffle, she continued with her message to Alex.
“I wish you were here Alex so I could say I’m sorry to you face to face. I know you probably wouldn’t forgive me but I just hope you know that I really am sorry.” Laurie finished, choking up as she spoke, wiping her eyes.
Sarah placed her hand on Laurie’s shoulder. She wrapped her arms around the teenager, hugging her to try and help her calm down. Laurie continued to wipe her eyes as she began to lightly sob. Drake, Jake, and their friends watched as Laurie cried, feeling bad for both her and Alex. Seeing this made Drake wish more than ever that he hadn’t killed Alex so that he could hear his friend’s apology with his own ears. Perhaps then, thought Drake, Laurie’s apology would have been able to soften Alex’s stance on humans and get him to see that not all humans were bad.
“Alex, if you are listening, please forgive Laurie. And me too. If I had been able to take you away from that horrible place, I would have done so. Believe me. But…with the things as they were for me at the time, it was simply impossible for me to do so. Since I left, I felt guilty as well because I knew how much you suffered while you were at the orphanage yet, I couldn’t be there to make things better for you. At least I can take some solace in knowing that you were able to find those who did love you.” Sarah said with a sad yet relieved smile that Alex was at least able to find a better life for himself.
Jake looked over at Laurie and Sarah. He smiled at both of them, happy that after so many years had passed, they had never forgotten Alex and that even after Alex had scared Laurie when they were little, in the end, she still considered him her friend.
Turning his attention back to Alex’s tombstone, he placed his hand on top of it and sighed.
“Well, I think we’re going to get going Alex.” Jake said, smiling as he stood up, his hand still rested on top of Alex’s grave.
He stared down at the grave, smiling for a short moment before his smile quickly changed into a frown.
“I love you brother…and I sure have missed you.” Jake said in a soft tone.
Everyone walked away from Alex’s grave, bidding him farewell and promising that they’d come back to see him. Jake led the way back to the entrance to the cemetery. As they made their way over to Sarah’s car, Crystal asked Sean if he still didn’t like Alex.
“It’s not that I don’t like him. What I don’t like is that he hurt you and Drake.” Sean explained in a more serious tone of voice.
Nobody said anything in response to Sean’s explanation. Drake and Crystal both understood where Sean was coming from but knowing what they knew about Alex, they felt that they couldn’t hold it completely against him. They both knew that Alex, at the time truly believed that Saulstrance’s plan to turn the human realm into his kingdom was what was best for both himself, Jake, and everyone else and that, if Saulstrance were to become the ruler of the human realm, then maybe he and Jake would be able to be treated like people instead of like monsters.
“However, what happened to him is terrible. Nobody deserves to be treated like that, no matter who or what they are. So, while I can’t forgive him for hurting my friends, I do feel sorry for him. Hopefully, wherever Alex is now, he’s happier.” Sean concluded, a small, hopeful smile on his face.
Drake smiled to and agreed with Sean. While he did wish that Alex could be there with them, and that they could have all become friends, he wanted to believe that wherever Alex was, he was probably making all kinds of friends, perhaps even meeting some half-dragons that lived long before they did.
As they neared Sarah’s car, something caught Tim’s eye. Over at a nearby tree, while he couldn’t be too sure, it looked as though there was someone laying under it. Sean noticed that his little brother’s gaze was fixated on this specific tree.
“What’re you looking at, Tim?” Asked Sean.
Tim pointed to the tree. Drake, Jake, Crystal, Sean, Laurie, and Sarah all looked in the direction that Tim was pointing in. Although the rain was starting to come down harder now, through the rainfall they were certain that they could also see someone laying under the tree. None of them could remember seeing another person around but regardless, they chose to check it out.
They hurried to the tree and were shocked at what they saw: lying beneath this tree was an unconscious, badly beaten boy around the same age as Drake and his friends. His entire body was bruised and bloodied. He lay on his stomach, his breathing shallow. Everyone stared down at the poor boy with horrified expressions on their faces. Crystal and Laurie held their hands over their mouths as Sean tried to keep Tim facing him so that he didn’t have to see the horrific sight.
“Oh my God…” Sean said breathlessly.
“This is awful. Who did this to him?!” Asked Jake disgustedly.
“I don’t know but we need to call an ambulance!” Sarah exclaimed as she pulled her cellphone from her jeans pocket.
“Yeah…” Crystal barely managed to say as she nodded nervously, taking deep breaths and trying to keep herself calm.
As Sarah called 911, everyone stared down at the unconscious boy, disgusted and horrified at what they were seeing. At the moment, the questions that were on their minds were who this boy was and who could have done such a terrible thing to him and why.