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.
"Isn't this just dreamy?"
Mel held up the sparkling necklace and stared at it as though it were the Hope
Diamond and not some cheap glass trinket. The man behind the counter in the
jewelry booth grinned. He could smell a sale a mile away. Now if he could
just get her to take the earrings that went with it, his night would be off and
Connie agreed that the necklace was the cat's ass and she pawed through a
tray of shoelace charms. As soon as she found the heart-shaped ones that
were inscribed "Best Friends" she picked up two of them. With a quick glance
at Mel, she took another one.
When their acquisitions were paid for, the girls sat on a nearby bench and wove the
charms into the laces of their shoes and smiled at the identical look. Xani hadn't
found anything she wanted at the carnival, at least nothing that was for sale.
Her eyes continued to keep watch hoping to see 'him' again but so far, no luck.
"What time is it?"
Connie heard the concern in Xani's question and she fished the cell phone out of her
purse. When she flipped it open she cringed, knowing her friend would be upset.
"Oh gosh, it's 10 minutes till 11. Gee, Xani the time just flew by. I didn't think...."
"Fuck! Damn, we gotta go now! If I miss curfew one more time, I swear my
gramma will tie me to the kitchen sink and turn me into a scullery maid for the
next twenty years."
Xander had spotted the trio and held back out of sight where he overheard their
conversation. Quickly, he circled around the merchant's building and came out at
the entryway to wait.
It didn't take long before the girls came rushing by. When they did, he stepped out
and placed himself directly in Xani's path. As expected, she skidded to a stop as
the other two tried tugging her back. Immediately, Xander threw his hands out
and caught her by the shoulders to prevent the imminent collision.
"Whoa! Look out! We almost had a head-on crash there and I'm not wearing my
air bags. You have to be careful running in the dark like that."
"Oh, ha ha, sorry. We should have been watching where we were going."
Xani laughed at the weak joke and shivered as his dark eyes penetrated hers.
Again her gaze was drawn to the startling blue aura that surrounded his head like
a halo. The other two girls frowned and glanced at each other in concern and
confusion. Finally, Connie jerked roughly on her arm.
"Xani, come on. You're late remember?"
Xander smiled gently.
"You better go then. I would hate to see you get in trouble. Tell you what, we
will be here all week, why don't you come back when you can stay longer? All
three of you. I will make sure you can ride the rides all night for free."
Mel scowled and stepped between her friend and this stranger and the question
she spat out rode on a tone of accusation.
"You work here? You're a carny?"
Xander laughed, unconcerned at the perceived insult as Xani pushed Mel away.
She was both angry and embarrassed at her friend's belittlement.
"Mel! Shame on you. That sounded so stuck up and snotty. There is nothing
wrong with being a carney and I'm sure he is a very nice person. Aren't you......um"
Xander knew telling her his name would open a floodgate of questions that he wasn't
ready to answer, so he smiled and bowed low.
"Alex. I'm Alex. It's very nice to meet you ladies and yes, I am a carny. A dubious
yet hard-working form of employment. So, I know you have to go, but I hope you
can come back. Tomorrow is Saturday. The carnival is always hopping on Saturday
nights. Why not come then?"
Xani was too flustered to answer. The butterflies in her stomach beat their wings
wildly and her heart pounded in her ears. Not knowing what else to do, she grinned
like a loon and allowed herself to be pulled toward the parking lot and shoved
unceremoniously into Connie's car. Before she could count to ten, they were flying
down the highway.
Connie's fingers gripped the wheel and Mel took it upon herself to speak for the
both of them. Xani sat in the back seat by herself with a goofy smile on her face
and stars in her eyes. Mel spun around and perched on her knees to chastise her
"What the fuck was that? Jesus, Xani, I thought you were going to drop your panties
right there and then and offer him your virginity on a silver fucking platter. Yeah, he
may be cute, but he's a fucking CARNY! Did you not see the 'danger' signs hanging
all over his fucking body? Don't you know that that is exactly what they do? They go
from town to town and fuck innocent, wide-eyed young girls like you."
Xani frowned at the unfair evaluation yet found it hard to look her friend in the eye.
The assessment of the habits of a carny was one she herself would have wrinkled
her nose at and agreed to if it weren't for the aura that told a different story.
"Alex isn't like that. I can tell. He is a good person. You are just jealous cause he
wanted to talk to me instead of you. Well, I don't care what you think. I like him
and I'm going to go back tomorrow night to see him again. If you want to come,
fine. But if you don't, then I'll go alone."
Connie steered the car onto Jarvis Street where Xani lived, and she glanced
into the rearview mirror at the reflection of her friend. Although her voice was
quieter and calmer, it was no less concerned.
Xani, you can't go alone. That place is scary. It doesn't feel like a carnival. It
feels, I don't know, spooky. If you insist on going back, we will go too. One
for all and all for one. The Three Musketeers, right?"
Xani relaxed and chuckled. The truth was, she was terrified of that place. The
auras around the other carnys were not good. Some were grey, foggy and hung
over their heads like a cloud. A couple of them were nearly black, thick and
rippled like oil. But those weren't the worst. The worst were the ones who had no
auras at all.
Much as she tried to bring them up, nothing would appear. No color, no haze,
no nothing. It was bewildering. It was unsettling and she had no idea what it could
mean. Yet, even in the face of all this, she was drawn to return. She needed to
see him again and she felt the surging need to touch him, to reach up with her fingertips
and see if the blue was cool or hot. Deep in the pit of her being, she needed to know.
When they pulled into her driveway, Xani was surprised and relieved to see her
gramma's car not there. It was a reprieve. She could scamper in and jump into
her jammies and deny the 15 minutes that she had overspent.
Before she could exit the small Ford, Connie turned in her seat. She wished she
and Xani could talk freely. She loved Mel but right now fought the urge to toss
her out of the car on her ass.
"Hey, Xani, why don't you see if you can stay at my house tonight? We could have
a sleep over and some real...girl...talk."
The enunciation on the last two words was too precise to be casual and Xani was
acutely aware of what Connie wanted. She wanted the whole poop on what Xani
saw and with their heads together they could decide what it all meant.
Mel rolled her eyes and huffed. She knew a veiled attempt to exclude her and she
found it more than a little annoying. Maybe she should tell these two to kiss her ass.
She could see if Vicky Spencer or Chickie Williams was in the market for a bestest.
No, deep in her heart, she knew that wouldn't happen. For whatever reason they
were cutting her out, it wasn't malicious and she still loved them. Mel wouldn't jump
ship. She was in this for keeps.
Xani just wanted to be alone to think. She didn't care about Mel's hurt feelings and
she didn't want to be grilled by Connie. She just wanted to curl up in her bed, close
her eyes and dream of the wonderful boy at the carnival.