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.
It was a silent shock that seemed to rattle and jar all the remaining
friends from their personal stupors. Ignoring protocol or the threat
of punishment, Willow jumped to her feet.
"That's it! Buffy and Xander, we're going to the library. Now!"
The tone of her voice left no doubt that she expected to be obeyed.
Even Mr. Heebert silently nodded at the order and made no move to
stop or correct the three that immediately got up from their seats and filed
out of the room.
When they reached the library, Willow entered last, taking the time to lock
the door to assure they would not be interrupted and she called out.
At the sound of his name, the Watcher stepped from his back office. When
he saw the three and the looks on their faces, he knew the situation had
Buffy stood back, her head down and oddly quiet as Willow took the lead.
"This can't go on any longer, Giles. Whatever we are going to do, we need to
do it now. Larry has been gone for three days, Harmony two days and now
Jesse, our best friend Jesse, is missing. If we are going to use a spell or if Buffy
has a plan or whatever is supposed to happen, it needs to happen today!"
Immediately, all eyes turned to Xander. They waited for the questions, the
disbelief and the shock. Instead, he took a seat at one of the long tables.
"I know all about Buffy being the Slayer and you being her watcher, so
what have you two got planned?"
That was apparently good enough. They all grabbed a chair and clumped
together as Giles assumed the role of leader.
"Buffy, what did you do last night."
As all eyes turned her way, her face reddened and tears welled up.
Her voice cracked with anger at the perceived accusation.
"What the hell does that mean? You sent me there and I went. I found
this Liam guy. He is short, bald and ugly. I dusted him. End of story.
If you had been there like you said you would, you would have helped me.
Apparently, you were more interested in playing with Willow."
"BUFFY! May I remind you that you are the Slayer! The one who is
destined to kill vampires. I am your watcher. It is my job to train you not hold
your hand and accompany you on each and every job. I spent time with Willow
because I believe her powers of witchcraft can be developed to assist you in
your mission. Now, you say you killed the vampire Liam?"
Buffy just huffed and turned her head.
"I said I did, didn't I?"
"Yes. I am just concerned because your description of him does not match that
of the Watchers journal. I think they may have sent a ringer in on you and our
target is not yet eliminated. Did you see Jesse at the carnival?"
Buffy shook her head. Before he could check his mouth, Xander spoke up.
"I didn't see him either."
Willow stared at her friend.
"You went back to the carnival last night?"
Xander could feel the panic start to well up inside him. Quickly, he slipped
on his goofy, Scoobie persona and he tipped his chair back, teetering on
the back two legs and he grinned.
"Who me? Hell no. That place gives me the creeps. I just meant that I
stopped by his house after school and he wasn't there. Nope. Haven't seen
Like everyone one else on the planet Earth, save one, Giles dismissed
Xander as uninformed, unintelligent and basically unimportant.
"Yes, well, I agree with Willow. I believe this situation has gone on long
enough. Now, I know you did your best, Buffy, but I don't believe you
have killed this Liam or Angelus or what ever he calls himself and the fact
is, if he has other powerful vampires with him that he himself has sired,
just staking him may not be enough. I think we are going to have to
wipe out the entire Carnivale Mystique."
Abject terror washed through Xander and he wanted to run from the
room screaming. He wanted to rush to the field and warn Spike of what
they were about to do. But he knew better. Even if he decided not to
leave with him, Xander could not stand the thought that these stupid mortals
would end the existence of vampires that had walked the earth for centuries.
Staying cool, Xander decided the best thing to do was listen to what they had
planned then go and, what? Betray them? Xander sat upright as he remembered
Drusilla's words. Was this the test? Was this how he would chose?
Was he destined to Benedict Arnold the fuck out of his friends?
Looking at the others, Xander was surprised to see his own doubts and concerns
reflected on Buffy's face. Glancing back at him, she quickly turned away.
Startling them back to the here and now, Giles rapped his knuckles on the table
"Buffy! Xander! Are you two listening? This really is no time for daydreaming.
Have you heard any part of what Willow and I have been discussing?"
"Sorry, Giles. What was it?"
Giles snatched his glasses from his face and began wiping the lenses. It was much
better way to deal with his frustrations with his slayer than giving in to the urge to
slap her across the face.
"We have agreed that trying to take down each of the vampires one by one is
not practical. Like cockroaches, they will scatter as soon as the first one
or two are dusted. No, we feel the best thing to do is to burn them out.
Torch the entire perimeter to block all avenues of escape and let the fire
wipe them out. With all that canvass and wood, it should take only minutes."
Xander's heart felt like it would explode. He could no longer control
himself and he jumped to his feet.
Willow tipped her head and studied him.
Xanders' breath came in ragged gasps and tears stung his eyes.
"Um, ah, because......Jesse! Because of Jesse! He might be in there and we
can't risk killing him too. Besides there are other humans working the carnival."
Willow reached over and took her friends hand reassuringly.
"See, silly, you should have been listening. Buffy and I are going to go in during the
day while the vampires are sleeping. I will do a locator spell and make sure Jesse
isn't there. We also drop the hint to the humans that the place will be drug raided
by the cops tonight and they will run like rabbits. It's covered, Xan. We have it