Warnings: Strong sexual language and M/M sexual situations.
Disclaimer: The Bee freely admits she owns none of the characters in this story
and makes no profit. I simply borrow them, then hose them down before returning
them to the shelf for others to use.
Summary: AU. This story is a follow-up to Carnivale Mystique.
At the ending of Carnivale, Willow vowed to spend her life looking for her lost
friend and that is just what she has done. Now, after nearly 40 years, she and
the carnival cross paths again. Can she finally get the answers she needs and
protect her granddaughter from falling victim to the special allure of the carnival?
During the telling of this story will be flashback chapters that tell how Spike
and Xander adjusted to their roles of master and pet.
Note: If you haven't read Carnivale Mystique or have forgotten the story,
there is a prologue that contains a brief summary of the story. Use the tags
at the top of the page to find your way there.
Thanks and credit to silk_labyrinth for betaing the spelling, punctuation and
finding wandering boo boos.
As always, thanks to the wonderful Petxnd for her friendship and her banners that
put the perfect visual to my words.
Willow straightened her backbone, squared her shoulders and stepped through the
clown's mouth and directly into her past. She again felt as though she were 17 years
old. The haunting faraway strains of pipe organ music floated through the air from
the carousel, and the sounds of the crowds of people pushing, laughing and shouting
from the heights of the rides bombarded her ears and she shuddered.
The fingers of her hand flexed unconsciously as they reached for Buffy's before
the twinge of arthritis reminded her of the here and now. Although Willow and her
friend had drifted apart, she still missed what they had. After that night, things
had changed. Buffy worked tirelessly as the Slayer, and for a while Willow helped.
but her heart just wasn't in it.
After graduation, Buffy didn't seem to need a Watcher much, and Giles and Willow
found the acceptance and comfort they needed in each other. When Hope was born,
Buffy's disappointment and disgust with both of her friends became apparent and they
all parted ways.
Now, of all the people on earth, she desperately wished her best friend were here
standing beside her and ready to fight the good fight.
But she wasn't.
Willow looked all around. The night was cold, overcast and pitch black. The only
light available was from the small strung ropes of bulbs that ran the perimeter of
the field and the neon flashing signs on the shaky, poorly constructed rides.
Groups of young people rushed past her in their haste to get in line for those
rides and Willow recognized some of them as students at Xani's school.
Immediately she was flushed with relief that she had made Xani promise not to
come. She was so grateful that she resolved to not call the girl on whatever
R-rated movie she and her friends had sneaked into.
Needing a moment to collect her wits, Willow stepped to the side, out of the flow
of traffic, and she took a moment to peruse the layout of the grounds. If her memory
was correct, it was nearly identical to that of the setup in Kutter's Field.
That meant the rides were straight ahead, the food vendors to the right, the merchant
sellers to the left. Beyond that would be the freak show, if that sort of thing were
still done in this age of political correctness. Then, at the furthest and darkest corner
would be the game booths. It was the place that had haunted her dreams for decades.
That was where she would go.
Willow did not give herself time to think for fear she would wimp out. Instead, she
worked and wormed her way through the milling masses, through the dim light, and
tried not to glance down to see what sort of squishy, sticky mess she had stepped
in. She cringed and shook a sausage, smothered in onions and peppers from her
Within minutes, her heart plunged into her stomach and she recoiled at the sight
of the familiar tents set up in a row with the promise of a peek at nature's mistakes
and God's rejects. The wild painted pictures touted the world's only dog couple.
A man and his wife, both half human, half canine. Another promised a genuine
werewolf and another, Faith, the King of Egypt's personal harem girl dancing only
for the pleasure of the carnival goers.
A barker stood on a small stage and waved a cane at the group of hooting young
men who watched the beautiful dark-haired woman dance and gyrate wearing
nothing more than a few colored scarves. It reminded Willow of the swaying bits
of cloth that had brushed against her face in the trailer of Drusilla, the fortune teller,
and she wondered if Drusilla had seen her own future in the crystal ball and parted
ways with the Carnivale Mystique.
Willow turned her head and she moved on. The crowd was thinner now. Scarcely
any people would come this far and when they did, fewer would remain. Some did,
on the dare of others. Some, the booted, black leather jacket type, lingered to
prove their mettle; however, in the end, even they scurried away like a mouse from
a suspicious piece of cheese.
Willow did not slow. With her head held high, she steadfastly marched forward.
Past the first carney with the dart, the balloons, the black teeth and the obscene
bulge in the front of his worn denim jeans. She ignored his offers, his promises of
an easy prize and the feel of his eyes crawling beneath her clothes and touching
She proceeded on down the line despite the area growing dimmer and more desolate.
She was nearly alone now and kept telling herself that this was ridiculous. There was
no way the same blond man that had been with her Xander would still be there. And
even if he was, would she recognize him after all these years? She was old and he
would be older.
She had almost had herself talked out of this questionable quest when she found
herself at the end of the line. There, she froze. She swallowed hard around the
lump in her throat and her heart slammed against her ribcage as her eyes stared
and her brain simply refused to accept what it was being given.
There he sat on the narrow ledge at the front of his booth. One foot propped up
in front of him and one leg swinging down like a cat's tail. At first he seemed not
to notice her as he slowly tossed the ball up in the air and caught it with practiced
perfection. Finally, on the fifth catch, his hand stopped. He tossed the ball over
his shoulder and into his booth and he slowly, slithering like a snake, slid down
and turned to fully face her.
Willow's brain was scrambling around, packing its bags and preparing to move
out of town as it screamed inside her skull.
"RUN YOU STUPID BITCH!! RUN!!"
But her feet were nailed to the ground and didn't get the message. Her blood
turned cold, and her skin itched and shuddered as though every inch of her were
covered in crawling, biting fire ants. Her eyes bulged and her lungs strained as
she watched him calmly move toward her, leering and studying her body.
"Well, well, what have we here? Is it Little Red Riding Hood come looking for
her Grandmother? Have you brought a basket of goodies? Come on, Love,
why not show me......."
Suddenly, Spike stopped and his brow wrinkled in concern and confusion. He
tipped his head upward and his nostrils flared as he inhaled her scent. For one
split second, all his swagger and bravado were gone and they stood on equal,
Then with a low, malevolent growl, Spike moved in closer. Her smell triggered
all sorts of warning bells and alarms and he tried to ascertain why. Slowly, he
eased in a wide circle around her, sniffing and examining as his mind fumbled for
a memory that would align with his instincts.
"Who are you and what do you want? Don't you know it's dangerous for an old
woman to be here alone? You aren't here to play my game. Why are you here,
Willow prayed her voice would not fail or betray her.
"I've come here looking for you. I need to ask you a question and I won't leave
till I get an answer."
Spike was off balance. A question? She wanted to ask him a question? She
certainly didn't look like the local authorities and even if she was, they just arrived
in town, no one of consequence had been eaten yet. He continued to walk
around her and study her. No, it was something else. Something familiar.
They had met before.
"What question? What is it that you think you can learn from me?"
Willow looked him resolutely in the eye.
"Xander. I want to know what you did with Xander."