Foreshadowing was high up on Tony Foster's ever-growing list of Things That Should Exist Outside of Fiction. Because really, after everything that had happened to him, life owed him the courtesy of a heads-up every once in a while.
It was bad enough that, after daring to think that he'd shed his PA duties forever, he'd probably just inherited them all over again. But what could you do. The minute Krista began to show promise, it was a foregone conclusion that she'd find better-paying work elsewhere. And when Cindy was hired… well, it was a matter of when, not if.
Though out of every possible catalyst for the inevitable running-from-the-studio-in-hysterical-tears, Tony couldn't say he expected it to be a mistake in printing the new production staff T-shirts. Then again, she had printed them on red.
"I know you said black," she explained breathlessly, "but doesn't the red just pop? And it's like blood, right? It goes with the whole vampire th-"
The hole-digging was mercifully brought to an end when Peter bellowed, "Are you trying to kill us?"
While their director wasn't usually the type to take wardrobe advice from TV Tropes, after the Demonic Convergence, everyone was waiting for the other shoe to drop. And when it did, no one wanted to be a Red Shirt.
Anyway, if Red Shirt-gate was supposed to foreshadow the calamity to come, it didn't end up working that well. When Tony heard that CB needed to talk to him, he assumed it was going to be about picking up the slack for Cindy, and didn't spare it another thought.
It left him fully unprepared for when Amy crooked a finger at him, beckoning him over, and gestured to her computer screen. "Come and look at this."
"Boss wants to see me," he said. "Tell me later."
"It'll just take a minute." Amy leaned forward, her kohled eyes wide, and the vague sense of foreboding that should have accompanied CB's summons finally caught up with him. "It's better that you hear this from me…" A quick glance at CB's office. "… in case anyone brings it up."
Well. That wasn't ominous at all.
As Tony circled the desk to look at the computer, he tried to figure out what sort of awful news Amy had that merited such hushed, dramatic voices. It couldn't be a death in his family. As far as most people at CB Productions knew or cared, Tony sprang from a parentless void, fully grown and ready to work in television.
Actually, aside from the whole wizard business, very few people at the studio knew anything personal about Tony at all: Lee, of course, and to a lesser extent, Zev. He liked everyone there – almost everyone – but if there was bad news of any kind to deliver, they weren't going to be the first to know.
He leaned over Amy's shoulder, thoroughly mystified, and looked at the site pulled up on the monitor. His eyes were assaulted by the deep pink of a gossip website he was vaguely familiar with, and he squinted against the glare and leaned in closer. "Are these blind items?"
Amy elbowed him urgently. "Read the second one down."
This tall, dark, and handsome heartthrob recently sparked a steamy romance on the Vancouver set of his spooky drama… with another man! Our sources say that his clandestine lover is sick and tired of being kept in the closet, but this established ladies' man isn't quite ready to stake his career on a fling. Can he avoid the bared fangs of the paparazzi?
Tony finished reading and met Amy's expectant stare. "So?"
He stared back, unimpressed. "You read these?"
"Bite me," she snapped. "If you must know, my mother sent me the link. She wanted to know if it was about the boys from Supernatural."
"See? She thought it was about Supernatural." He paused. "Are we sure it's not about Supernatural?"
"The point is," she sighed, "it's a pretty big coincidence, don't you think? What if there's a mole in CB Productions? What if whatsisname, Kevin Groves, went rogue?"
"Mole? Went rogue?" When Amy glared daggers, Tony forced himself to consider the question seriously. "Not his kind of story. If Lee was Cthulhu in disguise, maybe." Amy paused, perhaps to think about Lee as Cthulhu, and then shrugged the mental image off. "Besides, it's not about us. I'm not sick and tired of anything."
"… seriously?" She blinked. "So you actually enjoy this whole lights off, blinds pulled, and no-name-calling-in-the-heat-of-passion-because-the-walls-are-kinda-thin date night?"
He blinked. That was creepily accurate. "How did you-"
"You're so cute when you think you're being secretive." Amy shrugged. "Go, have your meeting. Just… think about it, okay?"
Tony walked away not entirely sure how to feel about that, and wondering, yet again, if being in a stable relationship with Jack didn't make Amy a little nicer. It was hard to say. Amy-nice wasn't the easiest thing to recognize.
As he stood in front of the office door, the paranoia had kicked in, full force. Why had he been summoned out of the blue like this? He doubted it was the blind item. He couldn't see anyone e-mailing CB to enquire about Jared Padalecki's love life. But he had been so stupidly happy to be with Lee in the first place that he hadn't even considered how their boss would like it. He wasn't exactly sure why CB would know in the first place, but it seemed naïve to assume that he didn't.
Now that Tony thought about it, Darkest Night's ratings did depend quite a bit on Lee's sex appeal. And Lee's revolving door of giggly blondes did offer hope to the fangirls, in that sort of You, too, could be next! way. A male TAD with an eyebrow piercing and a questionable wardrobe? Not so much.
He wouldn't just fire me, he reassured himself. The other shoe would drop eventually, after all. And when it did, they'd need him around, right?
Yeah, sure. The safety of the world versus the reputation of one of his lead actors? This was Chester Bane. No contest. It would be Lee all the way.
Whatever the case, standing outside CB's office like a jackass wouldn't solve matters. He knocked.
He heard a faint grunt from the other side of the door, and waited a beat, just to make sure he hadn't imagined it. But that was as good of a "Come in" as he was going to get. Tony opened the door to find CB staring intently at a magazine spread out across his desk, and without looking up, his boss said, "Sit down, Mr. Foster."
Tony swallowed. CB really could make the most innocuous of statements sound like a death sentence. He sat, and he steeled himself for the blow.
What came instead was, "I believe you're aware of Friday's location shoot."
"Oh." Tony blinked. At least it didn't sound like he was being fired. "The cannibal episode?"
He still wasn't sure what cannibals had to do with vampire detectives, but according to the writers, the cannibal episode was to supernatural television as the cult episode was to a police procedural: you had to do it at least once. It was a statement, they said, about how humans could be the worst monsters of all. Tony was pretty sure they could make that point without cannibals, but maybe that was why he wasn't a writer.
In any case, they would be shooting the episode in a cute two-story house in the suburbs of New Westminster, because apparently, crazy-cabin-in-the-woods cannibals were passé. Or maybe it would cost more to build a cabin in the woods. One of the two.
"Indeed." CB paused, and then finally looked up. "I'll need you to look at the house before then."
That was new. "Is there a problem with the house?"
"In a manner of speaking." Without another word of explanation, CB handed over the magazine he'd been staring at it, and as soon as he took it, Tony realized he was looking at a tabloid. The cute little two-story house from New Westminster was splashed across a two page spread, and the headline below it proclaimed, in red Chiller font, Killer House. He might have laughed, but the byline credited none other than Kevin Groves, their dogged little lie detector himself.
Oh. That kind of problem.
Tony skimmed the article for the highlights: the house belonged to a recently deceased man (no wonder they'd gotten it for so cheap) named George Pang. Two weeks ago, it said, Pang's son had gone into the house to go through some of his father's things. His wife reported him missing the next morning, and two days later, he had been found on the front lawn, barely alive. He was still in the hospital, being treated for severe dehydration.
"Dehydration?" Tony echoed out loud. "He was dying of thirst in suburbia?"
"So it would seem," CB said as he took the tabloid back. "I'd like you to take care of this."
"Take care of…" Tony let out a nervous laugh. "Boss, I think you. Um. Got the wrong impression somewhere, maybe."
"And what might that be?" If he didn't sound imposing before, he did now.
"I realize because of… past events… you might think I know more about certain things – okay, hauntings – than I actually do. I mean, the Creighton Caulfield thing, it was sort of a fluke."
"I'm well aware of that, Mr. Foster," CB said, and Tony wondered if he should be insulted. "That's why I thought it would be beneficial for Mr. Fitzroy to accompany you. I've already spoken to him. He says his Thursday is free."
Okay. Tony had come to peace with the fact that Henry and CB were going to be doing strange, ambiguous, questionable things that he really didn't want to think about, but it had taken him a long time to get to that point. He didn't think he was quite prepared for CB to be arranging uncomfortably date-like scenarios for the two of them, especially when he had planned to spend Thursday with Lee-
"I trust this is acceptable, Mr. Foster?"
But one look at his boss' face, and he knew that date night was out the window. Even if it was a lights off, blinds pulled, and no-name-calling-in-the-heat-of-passion-because-the-walls-are-kinda-thin date night. Whatever. He had made his peace with that, too.
"Completely." That hurt a little to say. Tony attempted a smile. "Anything else you want me to do?"
"Yes…" CB frowned faintly. "See what you can do about reprinting those shirts."
It seemed a little ridiculous to Tony to be so disappointed about missing a date with Lee when he was going to see him tonight, anyway. But he'd had plans for Thursday. He was actually going to cook. Well, he had actually thought about cooking, and then decided it would be better to pay someone else to do it, and then pay yet another person to deliver it to his apartment in half an hour or less. It was a big deal.
He would tell Lee right off the bat, get the bad news out of the way so they could enjoy the rest of the night. Or maybe he should try to act nonchalant, in case Lee wasn't as disappointed as he was.
Or maybe I should stop thinking like a fourteen-year-old girl. He liked that idea.
He would have mentioned it right away, had Lee not grabbed him with the desperation of a starving man tearing into a prime rib, or a lost traveler in the desert sprinting towards an oasis, or something that deserved a less clichéd metaphor when he had two brain cells to rub together again.
When they finally broke apart for air, Tony made a halfhearted attempt not to sound breathless and deeply turned on. It failed. "Long day?"
"You have no idea." Lee somehow summoned the oxygen for an expressive sigh.
"I can imagine," Tony said with a vague shrug. "What with Red Shirt-gate and all."
"Well, that, I'm not too worried about." Lee grinned. Of course he wasn't worried; Lee was never a bit player to be bumped off so casually. Tony was careful not to admit that out loud, though. Just because he'd accepted that Lee would get involved every now and then didn't mean he had to encourage it.
Thankfully, he didn't have to worry about putting his foot in his mouth, because Lee had gone right back to kissing him. But even though it was no less mindblowing than always, for the first time, Tony found his mind elsewhere.
Tony surreptitiously reached around Lee's back and found his own pulse. Still there. So what the hell was the problem? He tried to ignore the nagging feeling and enjoy the damn moment already, but it was hard to with Amy's voice in the back of head, and as much as he liked Amy, this was one part of his day when he didn't want to hear her talking.
As much as he hated to admit it, she had a point: Tony already knew what his night with Lee was going to be like. They would keep the shades pulled, they would keep their voices down, and they'd repeat the process two to three times a week depending on their schedules. It seemed to work for Lee, and Tony wasn't about to complain, but…
But how long is it going to work?
Before he could stop himself, Tony took a step back and blurted out, "We need to talk."
Lee raised an eyebrow. "About?"
"Y'know." When Lee's blank stare indicated that he didn't know, Tony amended, "Some… ground rules."
"Ground rules?" Lee looked dubious. "You're not talking about a safe word, are you? Because I'm not sure I'd-"
"Nothing like that, just…" Tony made a series of indecipherable hand gestures. "This is all hypothetical, okay?" When Lee nodded, he inhaled, and then continued. "So… you've probably noticed that we… tend to stay in most of the time. Which is fine! But say, just hypothetically, that we felt the need to… y'know… leave the apartment one of these days. Maybe we wanted to eat out, maybe the building started to collapse and we had to evacuate, I don't know, but for one reason or another, we're outside. In public. Together. In that case, what would we…"
Tony trailed off, at a complete loss as to how to end that sentence, but Lee understood, anyway.
"Oh." And just like that, the mood was dead. Lee took a step back, his face creased in a frown, and Tony instantly wished he hadn't said anything. "Listen, Tony…"
"Know what?" Tony said quickly. "Forget I said anything. I clearly have no idea what I'm talking about."
"No, it's a fair question." Lee shifted his weight. "I just… really want to do this the right way, you know?"
Which was probably very polite code for 'I'm still trying to figure out if this is career suicide.' And Tony should have expected that, really: it wasn't like it had taken three apocalyptic scenarios, two botched kisses, and a metric fuckton of awkward sexual tension before Lee could admit to himself that he'd be willing to date a guy or anything. If Tony wanted their relationship to leave the apartment, he would have to hold his breath for the zombie uprising.
"I understand," he lied. "It's fine. I shouldn't have said anything."
"I just need to think for a while. Bear with me, okay?" As if Tony had a choice with Lee flashing that grin at him. One day it would get old. It hadn't yet.
"Yeah. Of course." Tony briefly attempted a smile back before grasping for a change of subject. "I almost forgot: something came up for Thursday night. Saturday okay for you?"
"Sure," Lee said slowly. "Is everything okay?"
"Oh yeah, no, just fine," Tony said with a dismissive gesture. "Just an errand. Something for CB."
"Really. An errand that's going to take you all night?"
Tony was so glad for the change of subject, he forgot his usual reticence and came right out with it. "You know Friday's location shoot, that house in New Westminster? CB says it's haunted."
"… haunted?" Lee said.
"Yeah. Two haunted location shoots in a year. What are the odds?" Tony shrugged.
"And CB thinks it's dangerous?" Lee said neutrally.
"Well, seeing as the last guy found his way out three days later…" Tony caught himself before he could mention the dehydration. Lee didn't need to know about that. "Should be fine, though. Henry will be with me, apparently."
"Really," Lee said again, though with a distinctly different tone.
"… anyway, it might not even take all night. I just don't want to keep you waiting." Tony knew enough to stop the conversation there. It was a small miracle that Lee hadn't insisted on coming along yet.
"It doesn't matter." Lee was smiling again - for a split second, Tony thought he saw a hint of a smirk there, but when he blinked, it was gone. "We can talk about it later. I hadn't finished telling you about my long day."
Any other time, Tony would have noticed how suspiciously easy that was. But the moment Lee closed the distance between them, he was down to two working brain cells all over again and the entire discussion was driven from his mind.
"I agree with you, Tony," Henry said, as calmly as if he hadn't just cut someone off, "but I'm not sure how this is my fault."
"You-" Tony stopped when the next word was drowned out by a car horn, and he took a calming breath before starting again. "You must have given CB some impression that this kind of thing is okay. I tried to tell him that neither of us were really experts on hauntings, but…"
"It's less that he thinks we're experts," Henry said, maddeningly patient, "and more that he just doesn't know anyone else."
"Great. I'll get him an exorcist for his next birthday." Tony clenched his teeth as Henry swerved again, setting off another flurry of car horns. "You might wanna slow down."
"I'm driving at the speed limit," was all Henry had to say about that.
The night had already gotten off to a bad start – that wasn't necessarily Henry's fault, but his driving wasn't really helping, either. They wouldn't normally have driven together, but Tony's own car had finally decided to shuffle off this mortal coil earlier that afternoon. It wasn't any trouble for Henry to drive him there, but it meant they would both have to be done in plenty of time to get Henry back home before sunrise. The time limit made Tony wary.
"Did you get the information you needed?" Henry asked, interrupting his thoughts.
"Yeah." Tony nodded. "Guy's name was George Pang. Divorced, three kids. That article said he was 'recently deceased,' but he'd actually been missing for months. His oldest son, the one who got attacked, just declared him dead recently. He owned an architectural firm, but he worked from home most of the time – severe obsessive-compulsive disorder, apparently. The son works in construction, but he's supposed to take over the firm if he survives."
"That gives us something to work with." It didn't, really, but it was charitable of Henry to say so.
As they exited the highway, Tony noticed Henry throw him a brief, unreadable look. He frowned. "What?"
"Oh, nothing." Henry paused, and continued a little too casually. "I had expected Lee to come with you."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Nothing," Henry said again. "Just making an observation."
The hell he was, but Tony wasn't about to start an argument. They had a long night ahead of them. There would be plenty of time for that later. "Anyway, if the place is haunted, what exactly are we…" He trailed off; Henry was staring up ahead, not listening.
"There's someone sitting on the front steps of the house," Henry said.
Tony couldn't see as far as Henry could, but as they approached the house, he could see that there was a motorcycle parked in front of it. A very familiar motorcycle.
He felt his stomach drop as they pulled up behind the motorcycle, and he got a good look at the man sitting on the front steps. Lee, for his part, just smiled and waved.
"Lee?" Tony fought to keep his voice level as he climbed out of the car. "What are you…"
Lee blinked innocently. "You didn't tell me not to come, did you?"
After an entirely too short discussion, Tony found himself standing at the front door of the house, flanked by both Henry and Lee. A situation which, by the way, would have been entirely avoidable if Henry had just had his back.
"It's not that I don't want you to help," Tony had said – he thought he'd sounded pretty convincing, too. "But Henry might have a problem with it… uh, right, Henry?"
"Not really." Henry merely smiled. "I appreciate you coming to help."
And he knew immediately that he'd lost.
He watched as Henry held the door open for Lee, who offered a practiced smile as he stepped in. Tony, for his part, just glared as he walked past Henry, who shrugged as if he didn't know why he'd be pissed. Jackass.
In his annoyance, he almost missed that the door was outfitted with three brass door knockers. Huh. He'd never seen that before.
"Listen," Tony muttered, wondering if it was possible to feel any stupider, as he stepped up to Lee. "Stay close, okay?"
"No, actually, I was thinking of wandering around the haunted house all on my own. You and Henry can go home. I'll take care of it without you." Lee stared flatly. "Tony, I know how this goes. I won't get in your way."
Oh. So it was possible. "Right."
The inside of the house was… surprisingly normal. Tony didn't know what he'd been expecting: a penetrating chill, at the very least, or some other unearthly indicator that something was Wrong (capitalized for ominous emphasis), but the front hall looked like the set of some early 90's sitcom, and as they moved through the rest of the house, he saw that every other hallway looked exactly the same. Pleasant but banal wallpaper, loads of family photos with huge, cheesy smiles – Tony could practically hear the laugh track. It would work perfectly for the cannibal episode.
There was an unusually pungent smell in the air, but the house hadn't been lived in for months. That must have been it.
Since the ghost didn't seem to be doing anything of interest, Tony turned his attention back to Lee; things hadn't gone well for him in their last haunted house, after all. But if Lee was thinking about his possession, he certainly wasn't showing it. Actually, he looked preoccupied with shooting split-second glares at Henry. In itself, that wasn't surprising; Lee had very briefly treated Jack Elson to that same look, and the sexual tension between Tony and Jack was so infinitesimal that it was ridiculous.
The unusual part was that Henry was looking right back at Lee. Considering him.
Henry wasn't the jealous type – he'd had far too many romantic partners to put much stock in monogamy – and his possessiveness didn't extend to whoever Tony was dating. Granted, between Henry and Lee there had only been Zev, and maybe that wasn't the best indicator. But Henry trusted Tony's decisions. He'd said so himself.
Well, Henry trusted Tony's decisions so long as he thought they were healthy ones.
Wait. Henry disapproves of Lee?
"Tony?" For a moment, Tony wondered if he'd said that last part out loud, but Lee just asked, "What's the plan?"
"Well... this might sound bad, but-"
Lee sighed. "You don't have one, do you."
"There's not a whole lot to go off of," Tony pointed out. "All we know is that the guy was a shut-in obsessive-compulsive architect. You can't really figure out unfinished business from that."
Now Lee looked a little nervous. "So we just wait until something happens?"
"We may not have to wait long." Henry had stopped – he was staring into the floral wallpaper and frowning slightly. "This is a two story house. We should have come across the stairs by now."
It wasn't until then that Tony took a closer look around. The hallways didn't just look the same. Since they'd entered the house, they'd been walking through the same hallway over and over again.
"The house is rearranging itself," Henry said, as casually as one would say 'it might rain later today.'
"Well." Tony laughed hollowly. "On the bright side, we know how the son got lost in here for three days?"
Lee groaned. Had Tony been a more vindictive man, he would have pointed out that he told him so.
The knocking started not long after that, but after the bombshell of finding out they were walking around the Winchester Mystery House, it was sort of overkill. With the THUMP, THUMP, THUMP shaking the house every three minutes, all they needed was a hammy narration from Rod Serling or the announcer from the Haunted fucking Mansion to complete the evening.
Lee was staring glumly at one of the family portraits. Henry, for his part, just watched Tony steadily, waiting for him to make a decision. Pretending it was still his show. Thoughtful, but not entirely believable.
"Maybe we're supposed to follow the sound?" Tony offered.
He caught Henry surreptitiously checking his watch. Sunrise was a long while off – plenty of time for trial and error. "We could try."
So they made their way down the hallway, towards the knocking sound. But just as they reached the end, Tony felt Lee, who had been walking close beside him, suddenly fall behind. "Wait, guys. Stop for a second."
Tony did stop – but not before taking one step around the corner. And when he turned around to look, the hallway behind him was completely empty.
To Henry's credit, he let Tony wander through the hallways, yelling Lee's name like a complete idiot, for a good fifteen minutes to get it out of his system before interrupting. "Tony, calm down."
Yeah, because that would be totally easy to do. These days, when Tony wanted something to come to him, it came, without delay. Having the universe screw with that wasn't exactly a good feeling. "Lee!"
"It won't help," Henry said, finally losing a little of that unending patience. "The house distorts the sound. That's why the knocking keeps coming from different directions." He laid a hand on Tony's shoulder, either to comfort him or to hold him still. "We have to stop and think. There has to be a trick to this."
Tony sulked but obeyed, sinking to the floor under a picture of the three kids at Disneyworld. "I can't believe you told him he could come."
"I didn't anticipate this."
"Lee's like fucking catnip for the supernatural, Henry," Tony spat. "I thought we'd established this by now. Just because you wanted to test him or something-"
Henry narrowed his eyes. "Where did you get that?"
"Wizard, remember? We see what's there," Tony said. "So if you have something to say, go ahead."
"Tony…" Henry looking uncomfortable: now that was a rare sight. "Whatever my opinions on Lee are, it's not my place to say. It's your decision."
"Oh, don't use that it's-so-cute-when-you-think-you-have-autonomy tone on me."
"What, so you've got the market cornered on four-syllable words now?" Tony let his head fall none-too-gently against the wall. "Spit it out!"
Henry, finally giving up, massaged his temples and leaned against the wall next to Tony with a sigh. "I don't disapprove of Lee," he said. "I'm merely… unsure."
"Meaning?" Tony prodded.
"Of how much you mean to him." Henry being self-conscious was even rarer. "Of whether you're simply one of his whims."
"… and what are you going to do if I am?" Tony asked, taken aback.
Henry's expression darkened. "I would have a talk with him."
"Oh." Tony understood it now: Henry wasn't being the jealous ex at all. "So you're being the proverbial father who makes a point of showing his shotgun to his daughter's prom date?" He paused to let that sink in. "I'm sort of touched. And considering our history, really disturbed."
"Which is why I wasn't going to say anything." Henry shook his head. "It wasn't my intention to question you're relationship. I just have to make sure."
"… that he's good enough for me?" Now Henry was just stroking his ego. And it was working, just a little. "I'm pretty sure the question du jour is whether I'm good enough for him."
"I don't think it is," Henry said.
"Yeah, well, you're biased." Tony used the wall to push himself back to his feet. "Well, if you're going to stare him down, we'll have to find him first."
"True." Henry smiled, briefly, and was immediately all business again. "As I was saying, there must be some trick to-"
Lee stood at the end of the hallway. Looking a bit bemused and concerned, but otherwise, completely fine – and more importantly, looking remarkably not-possessed. When Tony could do nothing but gape, Lee frowned. "I heard you yelling before. Are you all right?"
"Am I…" Tony sputtered, suddenly feeling incapable of completing a sentence. "How did… what did you…"
"I figured it out." Lee's natural smile was different from his actor's smile: a little less polished and self-conscious. And at the moment, completely thrilled with himself. "You were saying before that the guy who lived here had OCD? And when we were walking through here before, I was thinking. Three door knockers, three kids in the pictures, and he keeps knocking on the wall three times. Then I looked more closely at the way the halls were decorated, and…"
He gestured at the wall Tony was leaning against, and he took a step back. He hadn't actually taken the time to look, what with being so wrapped up in Lee and Henry and everything else, and at first, all he saw were those damn pictures. Then he realized. If you divided the hallway in half, one side had four pictures, and the other had three.
Wizards see what's there. Unless they're in the midst of a hissy fit, apparently. Then they don't see very much at all. Judging by the look on Henry's face, he was thinking something along those same lines.
For a moment, Tony stood in front of Lee like a mute jackass, in serious danger of spouting some shmoopy line worthy of one of Henry's books. He decided that, until the urge passed, kissing Lee was clearly the better alternative.
When they broke apart, Tony just grinned. "You're brilliant," he said.
"Finally noticed?" Lee said innocently.
Over Lee's shoulder, Tony could see Henry, lips slightly upturned, nodding to himself. It was no 'Please take care of my daughter' or anything, but it was approval, either way.
The knocking returned in full force, breaking the mood. Probably for the best. They were already dangerously close to the sort of scene that, five years ago, would have guaranteed them a plotline on the weirdest episode of 7th Heaven ever. 'Young wizard, his vampire ex, and his B-list actor boyfriend find common ground in the home of a dead obsessive-compulsive architect.' Then they would all probably find Jesus and die of cancer.
Henry cleared his throat a little too loudly as Tony and Lee both took a step back. "Perhaps we should go see what he wants."
"Y-Yeah." Tony nodded. "Sounds good."
Tony could see immediately why wandering aimlessly around the house didn't get them anywhere. The pattern often had them doubling back in the direction they'd just come from multiple times. He would have bet money that George Pang had, in life, absolutely loved fucking with people. Eventually, they ended up in a living room that had probably looked cozy at one point, but was now buried in a layer of dust.
"Well," Lee offered, "it's not a hallway?"
"We still don't know what he wants us to do here," Tony said. Though he was beginning to get an idea. The sudden intensity of the smell was a good indication.
His suspicions were confirmed when the next round of thumps came from behind the wall directly in front of them.
"Didn't you say the son worked in construction, Tony?" Henry asked.
Well. That suddenly made a lot of sense.
Lee laughed uneasily. "This doesn't look good for the shoot, does it?"
It didn't make a difference, as it turned out. Tony didn't know how CB came to an agreement with the RCMP and crime scene investigation teams, and no one except for him and Lee knew why there was a gigantic hole in the living room wall, but no one asked any of these questions, and everyone was happier for it. James Taylor Grant was menaced by suburban cannibals, Raymond Dark saved him from their basement lair/human pie factory, and the new PA, Maria, cooed that they were so in love. All was right with the world.
"I have no idea why," Lee mused during their lunch break, "but this episode really makes me want pie."
Tony's eyebrows shot up. "That's a little disturbing."
"I'm not craving the human part. Mostly the crust," Lee said, a little defensively. "I saw a diner on the way here. It's only a five minute drive. Want to come with?"
"… in public?" Tony lowered his voice and leaned forward. "Are you sure that's okay?"
By way of answer, Lee glanced around, made sure that they were in full view of everyone, and kissed him.
Surprisingly, the world didn't end. Someone started a slow clap – probably Amy or Zev – and Tony heard Adam declare, "I win. Pay up, everyone." And just like that, it was over.
"I told you I was going to do it right," Lee murmured, and he flashed that self-satisfied grin as he stepped back. "I just need to get my coat. Wait here." He stepped back into the house and out of sight.
By then, the crowd had mostly dispersed, except for Everett, who was shaking his head at Tony with great disappointment. "One more week," he sighed. "You couldn't have waited one more week? I was so close to winning that pool." Still shaking his head, he left, as well.
Foreshadowing was high up on Tony Foster's ever-growing list of Things That Should Exist Outside of Fiction. Because really, after being the last person to figure these things out so much of the time, life owed him the courtesy of a heads-up every once in a while.
In this case, though, he wasn't about to complain.