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.
The rest of the scheduled classes of the school day were disregarded
in their minds as secondary to the tasks at hand. They even, at noon
time, had lunch trays sent in from the cafeteria as they outlined and
defined their plans for the rest of the day.
Willow worked on her location spell, tweaking it and personalizing it
to find their lost friend and every one breathed a sigh of relief when it
immediately glowed a bright blue. Only Willow and Giles knew the truth.
While it would indicate where he was, it would not tell them whether he was
dead or alive. Only that his physical body was where the crystal said it would be.
Still it was the first thing that felt positive and it went a long way to lighten
the mood and put hope back in their hearts.
By the last bell of the day, they felt they were ready.
Willow and Buffy would go to the carnival while the sun was still up. They
would cruise around the grounds pretending to look at the trinket booths
that remained open and casually drop hints that the police department was
planning a major drug raid, checking any workers on the grounds for
outstanding warrants from other states and jurisdictions.
That was a sure bet to send the humans heading for the hills.
During that time, they would use the crystal to attempt to locate Jesse
and if possible, free him. The girls were, above all, to be mindful of the time
and get out at the first hint of sunset. Whatever happens, they were not
to be caught on the carnival grounds when the evil undead rose from
Xander was to work with Giles. While the girls were on their scouting,
and hopefully, rescuing mission, The men planned on spending their time
preparing for the assault of fire. It was determined that they would
construct at least a dozen torches. Large clubs made of tree branches, the
ends covered with rags and soaked in gasoline.
Each of the four would take three of them. Their positions at the perimeter
of Kutters' Field were as follows: Xander, north. Willow, south. Giles,east
and Buffy, west. When the second hand of their synchronized watches hits
the mark of 12, they are to toss the first torch into the nearest tent and move
to the left, repeating the action till they were out of torches and the carnival
was consumed in the blaze.
When the three o'clock dismissal bell rang, they all silently rose. There was
nothing else to say. With a look and a nod between them, the three friends
left the building.
They stood outside as all the other students rushed around them, anxious to
reach the safety of their homes and families. Grabbing for his hand, Willow
looked to Xander imploringly.
"Walk me home?"
Xander eased his hand back. He wanted to say yes but in his heart he
knew the time for walking with her and standing beside her had past.
"Sorry. I can't. I, um, I told my Mom I would run by the store for her."
Willow could see the lie in his eyes. Whatever the reason was that he
was turning his back on her, she somehow knew she didn't want to ask.
Quickly, Buffy clasp her hand and tugged.
"Come on. I'll walk with you. We need to check in with the 'rents anyway.
Then I'll come by your house around 5 and pick you up for the mission."
At the last second, Willow turned and looked back over her shoulder.
Xander was still standing in the same spot watching her walk away.
When their eyes met, she had the most horrifying, irrational fear that this
was the last time.
Xander waited, giving into the need to watch the familiar red hair as it
moved away, swaying and flipping in the afternoon breeze and he had
to smile. Although he still had not made a decision as to which road
to take into his future, he knew that after tonight, nothing between them
would ever be the same. The innocence and ignorance of life was gone
and they would have to face the world as it really was.
Dark and frightening.
Finally, when he could see her no more, Xander turned and ran. He had
a mission of his own and only a couple hours in which to accomplish it.
He had to warn Spike. Convince him of the dangers and urge him to
pack up and move on. He would then go back to Giles and do everything
he could to delay and interfere with the preparations of the torches.
Dashing across town and through the woods, Xander glanced down and
was not surprised to see that he had made this trip so often in the last few days
that he had worn a path through the high grass, flattening it and replacing it with
a dirt trail.
When he rushed past the welcoming banner and onto the grounds, he was
again struck by the recognition and acknowledgement of the humans that
fussed around the grounds, cleaning and making repairs. Each of them that
he passed stopped what they were doing and they averted their eyes.
They tipped their heads in respect and waited silently till he had moved on.
Xander wasted no time wondering what the hell was up with that. His
focus was on the tent and game booth that was now within his sight.
Out of breath, hot and sweaty from the run, Xander swiped his forearm
across his damp face and he circled around to the back of the closed down
He dropped to his knees and very carefully lifted the canvass just enough to
slip through without allowing any fatal sunlight to shine through.
Once inside, he took a moment to catch his breath and allow his eyes to adjust
to the darkness. He then crept over to the far corner of the tent where
he knew Spike slept.
What he saw knocked the air from him.
There, curled up, naked with a smile on his face was his friend, Jesse.
Behind him, also naked was Spike. He had an arm possessively thrown
over Jesse's waist and the red, angry wounds on his best bud's neck still