Returning to the set of Darkest Night to find chaos wasn't unusual. (It was a TV show on a low budget and tight schedule.)
Returning to the set of Darkest Night to find chaos and a vampire wasn't unusual. (It was a low budget, tightly scheduled TV show about a vampire detective.)
Returning to the set of Darkest Night to find chaos, a fake vampire, and a real ghost wasn't unusual. (It was a low budget, tightly scheduled TV show about a vampire detective that also had a real wizard on its crew.)
What *was* unusual was to return to the set to find people running *away* from the real ghost. This crew was more prone to gathering around (that is to say, safely behind) Tony Foster--the aforementioned wizard--and heckling the ghost while making suggestions to Tony about how best to get rid of it.
Lee squinted. It wasn't even a particularly scary ghost as these things went. I mean, given everything they'd seen, the Darkest Night crew should be yawning and sending a PA out for more coffee, not running past him like they'd, well, like they'd seen a ghost.
The ghost drifted up to him, trailing something Lee hoped wasn't ectoplasm, because that just sounded disgusting. Tilting what had probably been a head, it seemed to examine him and be confused that he wasn't running away. He shrugged and turned to follow everyone else outside. Okay, this wasn't a particularly dangerous haunting, but it was the principle of the thing. Where the heck was Tony?
They collided in the front office as Tony was heading for the door. "There you are," Lee said with relief. "Shouldn't you be doing something about this?"
Tony blinked. "Me? Why me? Is that in the TAD job description?"
For a moment, Lee thought he was joking. Then it hit him. Oh shit, he thought.
"Um, do you have your laptop with you?" Lee managed a smile.
"Uh...yeah, I mean, maybe," Tony stammered, eyes widening to comic proportions. "How do you know about my laptop?"
And *that* was when Lee started to freak out. Tony hadn't just forgotten about being a wizard, but he'd forgotten about *them*. Somehow that was a hell of a lot more personal.
"Never mind," he said. "Go on outside."
Even though the ghost didn't look dangerous, he should probably make sure nothing more dangerous was going on. He shooed out three writers whose iPods were so loud they hadn't heard anything and tried to figure out the best way to search the building. As he came around a corner out of the writers' bullpen, he found himself face-to-face with CB, whose glare could have peeled paint.
"What, precisely, is all this commotion? And where is everyone going while we're shooting?" CB's crossed arms looked like bent steel and Lee almost jumped back.
"There's some kind of, uh..." He paused. Crap, if nobody remembered all the spooky stuff, what was he supposed to say?
"Ghost? Demon? Multiversal disturbance?" CB suggested.
Lee boggled. "You remember?"
One eyebrow raised, clearly suggesting that Lee might wish to take his next (unpaid) vacation somewhere involving padded walls.
"I mean, of course *you* remember, but nobody else does."
"Has forgotten he's a wizard."
CB pursed his lips. "That does seem to present some difficulties." He turned and marched out the door, cast and crew scattering in his path.
"That's one way to put it," Lee muttered, following him.
Coming to a halt in the middle of the parking lot, CB looked around. "If Mr. Foster is unable to deal with this event, we will have to improvise."
"I suppose if everyone learned to deal with spooks once, they can do it again." Everyone seemed to have recovered from their fear and were gathered in excited clumps, arguing.
A lesser man would have clapped or waved his hands, perhaps even called for attention. CB cleared his throat and within moments, everyone was facing him, waiting expectantly.
"Mr. Nicholas, as I believe you witnessed the disruption, please describe it for everyone."
Lee raised an eyebrow at CB for leaving him to be the one to say "We're haunted!" But his eyebrow wasn't as impressive as CB's, so with a sigh, Lee faced the expectant crowd. "The studio has a ghost."
There was a rumble of disbelief, even after what they'd just seen, but it died away quickly before CB's glare. "And what do you recommend to deal with this?"
CB knew the answer as well as he did. It wasn't like him to pass the buck. Taking a deep breath, Lee dove in. "We need to banish it. There's a...spell."
There were a few snickers and Lee began to wonder if this was all a practical joke on him. If it was, he was going to learn how to do wizardry just so he could *kick their asses.*
Amy, predictably, was bouncing up and down. "A ghost? That's so cool!"
"Are you certain the spell will work without Mr. Foster?" CB asked quietly as everyone babbled to each other.
"Who said I was going to do it without Tony?" Lee murmured, then raised his voice. "I'm going to need everyone's help in reciting this spell. If we all concentrate, we can raise enough power to banish the ghost."
"Don't ghosts have, like, unfinished business or something?" a voice said from the back of the group. It was, Lee recalled, a new lighting tech.
"Ghosts are just energy," Lee said with all the authority he could muster. "And we can send that energy somewhere else."
Before anyone could think to ask why Lee was suddenly an expert on ghosts and energy, CB rounded everyone up to follow Lee. Glancing over his shoulder, Lee saw that Tony had (as had been his habit before they started dating) gravitated to just behind him.
When they reached the soundstage, everyone gathered behind him. Not hiding, mind you, just...looking. For a moment, Lee understood how Tony felt when everyone was depending on him. It was simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying.
The ghost hovered in front of him, waiting. Lee took a breath, thankful as he'd never been before for his experience speaking James Taylor Grant's lines. "Okay, everyone, repeat this with me. And imagine sending the ghost away." Crossing his fingers, Lee began:
"It is time to leave here; all is well. There is nothing here for you now, so complete your passing. Go, and with our blessing farewell. Farewell."
The voices were ragged, but gradually firmed up. Lee was only interested in one voice, however, behind him and to the right. He wondered that everyone else couldn't hear the way that voice resonated with...well, power was the only word that came to mind.
There were a hairy few moments where Lee wondered if he'd just made everything worse, but then the ghost's body (or whatever) became even more translucent, and gradually the whole thing faded away, leaving nothing...except some slime on the floor.
There was a long pause and then Tony's voice. "I'm going to have to clean up the mess, aren't I?"
"Yes!" everyone said.
Lee would have laughed under other circumstances, but now, with one last look at Tony, he followed CB into his office.
Folding his hands, CB examined him. "Well done," he said after an interval. "But there is still the matter of lost memories. I believe I should call Henry Fitzroy. Sunset will arrive shortly."
Lee waited for a beat before he realized that CB was...asking permission? He took a moment to panic that Tony had accidentally done something to CB, then another moment to panic about the fact that this meant CB knew about their relationship, before saying as calmly as possible, "That might be best. He might have some ideas how to break this spell before something I can't trick Tony into fixing appears."
CB nodded and Lee did his best not to scramble out of his chair in his desperation to find Tony.
He finally tracked Tony down wandering around the soundstage with a pile of cleaning equipment, scrubbing at nasty looking stains on the floor. "Hey, Tony, can I talk to you for a minute?"
Looking up, Tony's expression said--clear as day--that he'd try to walk on water if Lee asked him. "I, uh, yeah. I just need to finish this."
He was nearly vibrating with impatience. "I'll clear it with Peter, okay? It's important."
Tony looked confused, but dropped the cleaning equipment on a nearby table and followed Lee to his dressing room, while Lee tried *very* hard not to think about their first time in the dressing room. He didn't succeed particularly well. Especially because thinking about that first kiss in the dressing room led to the memory of the *second* time.
After a deep breath, he closed the door behind them and tried not to stand too close in the very small space. Tony was beginning to look alarmed. "Is, is there something wrong?"
"Yes, but not what you're thinking." Lee snorted. "I'm sure of that." Then he shut up as he realized he had absolutely no idea what he wanted to say. "Um."
"Okay, you're starting to scare me."
Lee leaned back against his mirror, trying to give Tony more space. "I just...it's complicated, okay?"
Why had he hurried? He could have just waited until Henry got here and, oh, waved his power around and fixed things. Lee found his teeth grinding at the very thought. Okay, fine, so he was a little jealous. If by a "little" jealous one meant "like the fire of a thousand burning suns."
"It's about the ghost. Sort of." Lee winced at his own awkwardness. "Look, this is really hard to explain, but you're, wel, you're a wizard."
Tony looked like he was waiting for the punchline.
"You're the one who really banished the ghost."
"Forget the spell! I made it up!" Lee found himself gritting his teeth. "When I left this morning, pretty much everybody here knew you were a wizard and when I came back, everyone had forgotten but me and CB."
"Uh-huh." Tony was edging his hand toward the doorknob.
It was time to get on with it. "And we're dating," he blurted out.
"Is this some kind of joke?" Oh god, now Tony looked like his feelings were hurt. "Because if it is, it's not very funny."
"It's not a joke, I swear. I wouldn't do that to you. I know you don't remember, but I do. I..."
Tony was frozen in place, eyes wide and uncertain. It physically hurt Lee to see him look like that and suddenly he was incredibly angry at whoever had caused this. He grabbed Tony's shoulders and yanked him forward into a kiss. It easily ranked as one of the least romantic kisses *ever*, but Lee didn't care. He was mad, he was frustrated, and he wanted Tony to remember everything, damn it.
Tony was startled, but it didn't take long for him to join in enthusiastically. When they came up for air, Tony's eyes had gotten wider. He took a step back. "Oh my god, what did I do?"
"What did y--"
The door opened and they both turned. Henry Fitzroy stood framed in the doorway, looking annoyingly handsome and even more annoyingly amused. "Can I assume from that statement that my services in aiding your memory are no longer needed?"
"Henry? What are you doing here?"
"CB called me. But apparently Lee found his own solution to the problem." Henry smirked.
And *that* was when Lee remembered that Henry had really good hearing and he felt his face heat up. Tony just rolled his eyes. "Lay off, man. It's been a hard day."
"You're telling me," Lee muttered.
Henry raised an eyebrow that was nearly as telling as CB's but Lee didn't back down, staring at him and thinking "Mine!" with all his might.
Tony looked back and forth between them. "Uh, guys?"
Henry's smirk disappeared, replaced by the kind of haughty look that made Lee want to punch him. "Are you actually challenging me?" Henry asked softly.
"Do I have to?"
"You know, not that this isn't flattering and all, but--"
"You would challenge me over him? Even though you know the danger?"
"Yes, I would."
Henry nodded. "Then I suppose you're worthy of him. Excuse me, I must go speak to CB." And he was gone.
"Thanks?" Lee said tentatively to the empty air.
Tony crossed his arms. "I can't decide if I'm actually flattered or if I want to punch both of you."
"Join the club." Lee paused. "Wait, what did you mean by 'what did I do?'"
It was Tony's turn for his face to go bright red. "Do you remember me telling you about Arra's spell to make people forget?"
"I've been reading up on it and doing some experiments. It, uh, it can be done without the props sometimes and I..." He trailed off.
"You accidentally spelled yourself and everyone else in the building to forget you're a wizard?"
Tony stared at the floor. "Uh...yeah."
"How in the world did you do *that*?"
"I think, well, I forget sometimes that I need--"
"To be careful what you wish for?" Lee thought seriously about smacking his forehead. Or Tony's.
"Essentially. I wished that we could just forget about the wizard stuff."
Lee frowned at him. From the guilty look on Tony's face, there was something else. (For an incredibly powerful wizard, the man had the worst poker face Lee had *ever* seen.) Light dawned and Lee stared at Tony. "Does this have anything to do with last week?" That stupid pixie had as much as admitted it was timing things to keep Tony busy and annoy him...
Tony looked hopeful. "Would you believe no?"
"That's what I thought." He sighed and rubbed his face. "I just...worry."
"Still a guy here."
Lee couldn't help it and he grinned. "I remember. So what are you worrying about?"
Tony looked like he wanted to shuffle his feet, but Lee refused to let him look away. A long moment of battle of wills later, the words came out in a rush. "Thatyou'llgettiredofdatingawizard."
Lee didn't even pause. "And give up the advantage of a boyfriend who can get the remote from the other side of the room?"
Tony blinked. And blinked again. And then a slightly hysterical giggle came out and he popped his hand over his mouth.
Shaking his head, Lee gave into temptation...and smacked the side of Tony's head. "You're really an idiot sometimes."
"You were pretty pissed off last week."
"Yeah, and I'm an oblivious asshole sometimes. Is this news? Look, I was mad, but not at you."
"If you think the pixies, ghosts, or demons care about your feelings you're going to be disappointed."
Lee waved a hand. Damn it, it was easier to be eloquent when someone was writing your dialogue. Maybe he could get the writers...well, maybe not. "I was mad...at the universe. The fates. Bad luck. I don't know. But after shadows and ghosts and demons, you think I'm going to leave you because I didn't get laid for a week?"
"It does sound stupid when you put it that way."
"It is stupid."
"It's hard for me to remember that. I'm a TAD. A former street kid. You could have your pick of partners and I'm not the kind of..."
The kind of partner you bring home to Mom, Lee finished. "My mother--"
"I know." Tony started to pace, which was difficult in the close confines of the dressing room. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to bring that up."
"Look, we're getting off track. I'm still trying to figure out why I would leave you for one of the brainless women who want to get their picture in People."
Tony looked at him.
"Jesus, I'm the one who should be intimidated and afraid of losing *you*."
"Huh?" That stopped the pacing.
"You're a hot, powerful wizard who's tough enough to have survived on the streets and whose goddamn ex-boyfriend is royalty and a *vampire*! I'm just an actor with no special abilities unless you count getting snatched or taken over by the bad guys!"
Tony opened his mouth. Then closed it. He opened and closed it one more time before fumbling with his right hand for the lone chair. Sitting down, he finally found a word. "Me?"
Lee wasn't entirely sure what the question was, but he was fairly certain of the right answer. "Yes."
"I never...I didn't think of it that way."
"I guess I've been so busy remembering that I was a loser that I forgot I wasn't a loser anymore." Tony managed a fairly decent smile.
"You're welcome," Lee said with a smile back.
"By the way, I wouldn't say you have no special abilities. You *did* banish a ghost today, after all."
Lee frowned. "No, I didn't. You did it."
"But you're the one who tricked me into doing it, even with my memory gone. That was smart thinking. And you broke the spell that I'd created, which is difficult to do."
Lee leaned back in his chair and smiled. Hey, he hadn't saved the world singlehandedly or anything, but Tony was impressed and Henry hadn't killed him and maybe things were going to be okay.
"I just hope we don't have to go around kissing everyone else to bring back *their* memories."
Lee stared at him.
Tony snorted. "Joking. If their memories are still gone, I'll get 'em back."
"Dork," Lee said, then paused. "Wait, there's one thing that's been bugging me all afternoon."
Lee rolled his eyes. "I get that the spell didn't affect me because I wasn't here. But what about CB?"
"Two possibilities as I see it. Either even my unconscious didn't dare fuck with CB--"
"Or else the spell didn't affect him because he's...well, he's CB."