Lee Nicholas might not have been employed at CB Productions after the end of Darkest Knight, but he still grew apprehensive when fourteen-year-old Brianna Bane showed up on his doorstep, usually dragging behind her the results of some spell gone awry. This time, something that looked suspiciously like a unicorn was walking along behind her. The horn was wicked looking, and Lee didn't want to think about what kind of damage it could do, especially to the new couch he'd bought last week after Tony had accidentally blown up the last one.
"Lee!" she exclaimed. "Is Tony here?"
Unfortunately, Tony wasn't there. Tony was at an evening shoot for his new assistant directing job and wouldn't be back for several hours. Lee supposed he could always stuff the unicorn (and Brianna) in the attic that Tony used as his magic workroom until he got home, but he wasn't sure if they would end up with holes in the door, and he really didn't want to have to replace the décor of their house anymore than he already had within the past three years.
"He's not going to be back for a few hours," he sighed. Brianna must have heard the resignation in his voice because she grinned.
"Don’t want my unicorn in your house?"
Lee eyed the unicorn skeptically. "He looks like he'll gouge holes in the furniture, so no, I don't." Brianna laughed.
"He can stay outside. He's very well behaved because he knows Tony will send him home. And I hope you have cookies!" Immediately, the whirlwind that was his lover's apprentice was in the door and halfway to the kitchen. Lee didn't remember if they had cookies or not, but he hoped for his own personal sanity that they did. "Can we watch Amazons in Space again?" Brianna called from the kitchen. "I especially like the part where the Amazons make you wear a dress." She came to the doorway with a chocolate chip cookie in her hand, grinning widely at him.
Lee hated his life sometimes.
Tony arrived home later that night to find a unicorn in his front yard and his boyfriend and apprentice both sound asleep on the couch with the ending credits to Amazons in Space scrolling down the screen of the plasma TV in his state-of-the-art entertainment center.
He shook his head and got a blanket from the top of the couch, laying it across Lee. As he went to get another for Brianna, one of her eyes cracked open and she grinned sleepily at him.
"Cross-dressing again?" he asked quietly, and she snickered.
"It makes him so uncomfortable! Did you see my unicorn?" She seemed so proud. One day, Tony would be perfectly happy to come home to find nothing supernatural had occurred while he was at work. He had a feeling that Lee felt the same way, but at least Lee could escape. The weird stuff followed Tony, and it was only because he was still working for CB that he'd managed to land an assistant director's position in the first place.
"Your unicorn is very…pretty," Tony said mildly. "Why is it in my yard?"
"He wants to go home!" Tony wasn't aware that unicorns had homes. In fact, until about an hour ago, he hadn't even been aware that unicorns existed, but after five years of having random crap pop up in his life, he was pretty much used to anything.
"Please don't tell me it lives in some type of candy land," he muttered.
"Of course not! He lives in an alternate dimension where space and time have warped to create colors not visible to the human eye. Duh." Tony hated CB for getting his daughters premium cable. Half of the time, Brianna sounded like a bad reject from a Sci-Fi Channel Original Movie.
"I guess we have to send him back then, right?"
"He said you could just create a gate." Oh, just. Right. It had taken Arra her entire life to figure out how to construct a gate between worlds; Tony wasn't exactly able to snap his fingers and make one out of thin air.
However…if he used an area where energies had already warped into a gate…
God, he hoped CB was still at the studio. There was some night-shooting still going on, so the boss probably hadn't gone home…
"I don't suppose he can fit in an SUV," Tony said woefully. Lee's Mercedes was parked in the driveway next to Tony's tiny beat-up car, but the unicorn was almost as big as the red bio-diesel monstrosity.
"We can ride him! That's how I got here!" Brianna looked thrilled, and Tony really couldn't blame her. Riding a unicorn was pretty awesome, but from what he remembered about unicorn lore, they could only be touched (and ironically, ridden) by virgins. Which he was most certainly not, and hadn't been for nearly fifteen years.
From the snickering that was coming from the other end of the couch, Lee was awake, listening, and had thought of the same thing. Tony glared at him.
"Brianna, you can ride him, but I should probably take the car. Otherwise, when we send him home, we won't be able to get home." It was good to use logic when dealing with magic.
"I'll drive," Lee offered, sitting up and blinking the last vestiges of sleep from his eyes. The Mercedes' keys were on the front table and he grabbed them as they made their way out to the yard. Brianna and Tony went to stand next to the unicorn, which was munching on one of the landscaped trees and looking surprisingly nonchalant.
Sure enough, when Tony tried to touch it, it shied away. Lee snickered and got discreetly kicked in the shin. "Brianna, you're going to have to ride him yourself. You know how to get to the studio from here, right?" Right now, there was no point in worrying about damage – it was so dark out that any passing motorist would probably assume Brianna was just riding an ordinary horse. People only saw what they expected to see, and nobody expected to see a fourteen year old girl riding a unicorn around downtown Vancouver at 10:00pm.
Brianna mounted the unicorn in a swift, elegant fashion at odds with her normal personality. Tony wondered if she'd finally managed to cajole CB into giving her horseback riding lessons. It certainly looked like it. "I'll see you at the studio!" she called, waving, and then she and the unicorn disappeared into the night.
"That thing moves fast," Lee observed while opening the driver's side door.
"Yeah," Tony replied, hopping in next to him. He'd finally stopped protesting every time Lee insisted on following him on some wacky adventure. After the incident with the genie that had wrecked the kitchen right after they'd moved in to their new house, he'd given up and decided that Lee knew what he was getting into. The steel baseball bats under the bed helped as well.
They were down the street and out of the neighborhood when Lee stopped at a red light and turned to Tony. "Think world domination is in her future?"
"God I hope not." He'd have to be a pretty shitty teacher if she went megalomaniac on them. Of course…he was kind of a shitty teacher. But Brianna was a good kid, although a little spoiled, and surprisingly enough, power suited her. In the years between nine and fourteen, she'd settled down and recognized that she had more responsibility for her power than anyone else. There were some messes that even Tony couldn't get her out of.
On her fourteenth birthday, Tony had copied all of the safe spells from Arra's laptop and given Brianna a Wizard How-To CD-ROM of her very own. Her bedroom had been clean since, and CB had dryly commented a few days later that while he appreciated having his very own cherry cough syrup wards, could Tony please teach her a method that wasn't quite so messy?
The drive to the studio wasn't long, but Tony had had a long day and was listing sleepily against his seatbelt. Lee hummed along with the radio, awake after his nap, and while they were stopped at the red lights, he grinned fondly at Tony and even ruffled his hair once. Tony smiled appreciatively.
They pulled into the studio at around 10:30 to find a few cars still in the parking lot, probably belonging to people wrapping up the night shoot. CB's new syndicated TV masterpiece was an account of a modern-day wizard living in the heart of small-town suburbia, but Tony refused to let the writers use details from his own life, so the stories were as ridiculous and fantastical as any plot from Darkest Knight.
Not that Tony's life was normal and sane by any means. Case in point, the fourteen year old and unicorn that were waiting patiently for them in the parking lot.
"How are we going to get him onto the sound stage?" Lee asked, nodding urgently at the unicorn. Brianna had jumped off of its back and was leading it towards the carpenter's door.
"They should be done shooting there for the night," Tony told him. CB had given him a key to the studio several years ago for just such occasions, and it had come in handy more than once. The unicorn fit easily through the carpenter's door with Brianna's gentle coaxing, and although it seemed uncomfortable surrounded by walls, it slowly made its way down the hallway to the soundstage, only leaving one hole in the wall that Tony had a sinking feeling CB would make him pay for.
Luckily, they didn't run into anyone on their way there and soon they were standing directly under the gate, but Tony wasn't really sure where to go from there or how to turn this into a chance to teach Brianna something valuable.
"Oh!" Brianna exclaimed, running to a point exactly below the gate. "I wonder if I can send him home the same way I accidentally summoned him."
Tony shot Lee a puzzled look and Lee shrugged in return. "She didn't say anything to me about summoning it. I thought it had just shown up."
"Brianna," Tony said. "What did you do?"
"Well." Brianna bit her lower lip nervously. "It wasn't on purpose. I was thinking about horses and what kind of horse would be the coolest for a wizard to ride." Apparently CB had bought her those horseback riding lessons after all. "And then I thought, a unicorn would be pretty cool! So I concentrated really hard and did that weird summoning trick that you included on your CD—"
"That's for summoning small inanimate objects!" Tony told her sternly. "You can't summon a unicorn with it!"
"And yet, there's a unicorn here." Lee was used to these things by now, but that didn't mean that he didn't occasionally take the role of background commentary when things got ridiculous.
"—And then, this unicorn appeared in my bedroom!" Brianna finished proudly, ignoring Tony's chastising. "But he really can't stay, and I tried to reverse summon him at the house and it didn't work."
"Reverse summon him?" Tony repeated weakly. Brianna rolled her eyes and clicked her tongue lightly; the unicorn's ears perked up and it trotted over to her, positioning itself under the gate as well. She put her hands to the sides of its head and closed her eyes, and a moment later it touched the tip of its horn to the center of her forehead. Nothing very visual was happening, but a moment later, Tony could feel the energies in the gate above them start to activate.
"What is she doing?" he muttered. "I've never seen anything like this before."
"This is how megalomania starts," Lee told him, raising his eyebrows in a knowing way. "When the apprentice surpasses the master, everything gets out of control."
Tony wished his voice didn't sound so uncertain this time around. "She's not going to take over the world."
"Are you sure?" The gate was almost open now; the unicorn began to float skyward, as though it could fly. Brianna seemed completely unfazed by the situation, although the energies starting to gather around her were causing her hair to frizz around her face in a way that she would probably whine about the whole way home.
A moment later, the gate was completely open; Tony could feel it, even though he had no control over the action itself. The unicorn disappeared soon after and Tony assumed it had reached the other side safely when Brianna suddenly dropped the energy she was manipulating, letting it fall back to wherever it had come from in the first place.
"How did you do that?" he demanded.
"The unicorn showed me how," she told him, opening her eyes. They were half mast from the magic use, and she was listing from side to side dangerously. Tony caught her and supported her, holding her up under one arm. "Wow, that was more exhausting than anything I've ever done before."
"Yeah, you probably shouldn't do anything like that again," Tony said, smoothing her hair back a little and deciding to forego the lecture until she was fully rested and fed. "We should get you back home now before your father shows up on our doorstep demanding to know where you are. Again."
"Yeah, you're right." The fact that she didn't argue showed exactly how tired she was, and Tony supported her weight all the way back to Lee's car, helping her into the backseat. The moment they started driving, she was asleep.
Lee had been quiet since the unicorn had disappeared, but after a few minutes of driving, he reached over and took Tony's hand to reassure him. CB's house was a little ways away, so Brianna had some time to sleep.
"Do you really think she's dangerous?" Tony asked, glancing back at his apprentice from time to time to make sure that she was still doing okay.
"I think she has a very good teacher," Lee answered seriously. "She's spoiled and terrifyingly strong, but I think if anybody can teach her not to abuse her power, it's you." He shrugged.
"Yeah," Tony said as they came to a stop in front of CB's giant house. There were lights on in all the rooms, as though a search was being conducted, and he was not looking forward to explaining this latest adventure. Brianna sighed a little in her sleep. He glanced back at her again, surprised at the suddenly heaviness of responsibility that he was feeling. "Yeah, I think you're right."
"Of course I am," Lee smiled, stopping the car. Brianna made a soft sort of noise behind them.
"Come on," Tony said. "Let's get her inside before CB calls the police again."