Disclaimer: I own none of the characters or products named in this
story and make no profit from it.
Summary: A mysterious carnival appears on the outskirts of Sunnydale.
Despite the sudden disappearance of townspeople and pets, Xander is
intrigued and wants a closer look. What he gets is more than he could
This story is based on a suggested story idea from the lovely Mystic Oblivion.
As always, thanks to the wonderful Petxnd for the banners that put the perfect
visual to my words.
Xander raced across town, giving in to the driving need inside him to put
as much distance as quickly as possible between himself and the reality of
his home and family. It was the feeling of desperation to escape that had
been growing in him all day.
Darting through town towards the treeline of the city limits, Xander was
careful not to mess the hair he had so carefully combed or stain the clean
clothes he had actually taken the time to select.
His brain was totally flummoxed. He couldn't imagine why this seemed so
important to him, but it did. It felt as though there was some great event
that was about to happen to him. A thrilling anticipation that a hidden corner
of his brain understood. It was a small, primordial section of his cortex that
could not be comprehended by his rational, humanoid, thinking cells.
No matter how hard he tried.
It was like he was the guest of honor at a surprise birthday party his friends
swore they were not throwing, but he had seen the cake.
Finally, when his couch potato body felt the stabbing pain in his side that
screamed "slow the fuck down, you idiot" he knew he was almost there.
The sun was just starting to slide and the dim light of dusk made seeing
difficult, but it was not a sense that he needed.
He could already hear the far off sounds as he plunged into the wooded
perimeter. With his hand on his side and his lungs burning with the overgasp
of oxygen, Xander dashed the last few yards toward the huge maple tree
that stood guard over Kutter's Field.
When he reached it, his feet slid to a stop and his back fell against the rough
bark of the huge, solid trunk. His face was red and puffy as he took the time
to will his heartbeat to return to normal. As his vitals gradually slowed, Xander
sniffed his underarms to assure himself that although he had dampened them
with sweat, the odor was not fatal.
When he was certain that he would not expire from a heart attack or stroke,
Xander crouched down and let his attention zero in on the activity ahead.
Being early in the evening, he knew that the voices screaming their excitement
over the rides and games would all be young. Smaller children with their
doting Moms and Dads, riding the ponies and tossing pennies in the goldfish
By 8 they would begin to thin out. By 9 they would be tucked safely in
their beds at home and the night would belong to a different audience.
One that demanded thrills, chills, sideshows and freaks.
Xander thought he may just explode from anticipation. He checked the
time on his watch. It was 7:05, he had almost an hour to kill. He cleared
the leaves and moss from a fallen stump and he settled in to wait.
"Hey, Xan, you beat us here. Wow, you look great. Doesn't he look
Willow's voice startled Xander out of his trance. The hour had seemed
"Um, yeah, I just got here. Where's Jesse?"
He wasn't sure why he lied but he didn't want any of them to know how
important this was to him. Especially since he didn't understand it himself.
Buffy stepped past the other two and squinted, looking down into the field
with an expression on her face that Xander found unreadable but strangely
scary. He stepped nearer, still watching her watch his carnival and he wondered
what she saw.
Buffy struck him a peculiar. From the first day she had shown up at school,
Xander considered her an odd contradiction. She seemed dumb and
uninterested in school, yet she spent an inordinate amount of time in the school
library with Mr. Giles, the librarian.
She acted weak and girly, but he had seen her knock Carter Shroeder off
his feet and onto his ass when he grabbed her butt at the football game.
No, Buffy Summers was not what she seemed. Before tonight, all this had
been nothing more than an observation. Now, Xander somehow felt she
was a threat.
Finally, it was Jesse's voice that got his attention.
"Hey, what are you two looking at? We gonna stand here all night or are we
gonna go have us some FUN?"
Willow squealed and grabbed Xander's hand.
"Come on, Xan, let's go."
Looking into Willow's eyes snapped Xander out of his uncharacteristic
deep though and brought him back to himself. Tonight was a lark, nothing
else and for a moment he almost felt foolish for thinking it was.
"Hell, yes! Let's go!"
He squeezed her hand and the four friends took off at a run towards
Kutter's Field. Within minutes they had arrived, standing on the outskirts of
an area filled with magical smells, sights and sounds. At the entrance stood a
colorful, huge cloth banner that welcomed the fine folk of Sunnydale to come
and enjoy the 'Carnivale Mystique'.
Xander's face burst into a grin. For some reason, he found the name
absolutely perfect. Foreign and exotic.
Before Xander could plunge forward into the world of the carnival, Jesse
"Wait, let's make a pact. If we get separated, we meet back here at
midnight. That way if, say, Buffy and I want to go one way and you and
Willow want to go another, we are free to go. Right?"
Xander frowned, he hadn't realized he was still holding Willow's hand
but when she squeezed it, an uncomfortable feeling crept through him.
He suddenly wished again that he had come alone. Apparently Buffy felt
the same. Xander noticed when Jesse reached for her hand, she snatched
"Yeah, sure, and if any of us wants to go off alone, that's cool too."
Xander's statement was NOT what Willow wanted to hear. Releasing
his hand, Willow grabbed for Buffy's and the two girls walked in together.
Falling a few steps behind, Jesse growled in a low whisper.
"God damn it Xan, why the fuck did you have to say that? You pissed
Willow off and that jeopardizes my chances of fucking Buffy."
Xander glanced up at the back of her head. Although there was no way
she could have heard, Buffy glanced back with a disgusted scowl on her face.
"Shhh. I think she heard you. Besides, I told you this was NOT a date. Why
the fuck did you say all that? You're gonna make shit weird with me and Willow."
Jesse stopped and stood with his hand on his hips.
"You're cock blockin', Xan. You're cock blockin'. Come on, let's catch up."
Putting all the unpleasantness behind him, Xander happily joined his friend and
ran to catch the girls who now stood at the entrance to the midway.