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.
ALL CHAPTERS HERE: http://www.livejournal.com/tools/memories.bml?user=bmblbee&keyword=Dream+Catcher&filter=all
As always, thanks to the wonderful Petxnd for her friendship and her banners that
put the perfect visual to my words.
Willow burst through her front door like a hurricane. She tossed her car keys
to her left in the general direction of a small table and she pitched her sweater to
her right where it bounced off the hall tree and landed on the floor as she dashed
straight for the kitchen.
The very instant she heard her Grandmother's arrival was the second Xani tugged
up her sleep pants. Using her hands to muss her hair, she mentally patted herself
on the back and strolled from her room with a practiced, pretend yawn on her face.
She followed the sound of activity to the kitchen and pushed the door open noting
that when she did, it almost looked like her gramma was reaching for the phone.
"Oh, there you are, Gram. Where were you? I got home a long time ago and
you weren't home. You callin' somebody? Who would you be callin' at......."
"EEK! Dang, Xani, don't sneak up on a person like that. Where was.....? Oh,
um, I ran to the store to get some milk. So, did you have a good time at the movie?"
Willow's eyes ping-ponged from the clock on the kitchen wall to the phone to
the dark night outside the window, and then back to the clock to start again.
Xani frowned. She could tell there was something serious on her gramma's mind
and obviously no milk in her hand so she decided to give it a test. She casually
hopped up on the counter and took a bite of an apple from the fruit bowl.
"Yeah, it was great. We went to a porn flick. We sat next to a homeless guy
with a really big tub of popcorn that he kept his hand in the whole time."
Willow's body still hummed with the retreating zing of the fear-sparked adrenalin.
Her cheek muscles twitched and she scratched her arm. Mentally, she did the
math and figured that if it were midnight here in Ohio, it must be around 5 AM
"Uh huh, uh huh. Sounds great, sweetie, I'll have to go see it. Well, gosh,
look how late it is. You better get off to bed or you won't be able to get up for
school in the morning."
Xani hopped down and crossed her arms over her chest. She squinted her eyes
at the older woman suspiciously and considered calling her on the fact that
tomorrow was Saturday but finally decided, with a shrug, that she had already
pushed her luck too far tonight and gotten away with it, why be reckless.
Besides, the brains of people her gramma's age ran on a whole different track.
They were always worried about plebeian things like electric bills and odd rattles
in the car engine. They had no understanding about the real world. They couldn't
grasp the fact that polar bears were headed for extinction or that having one's
nose pierced did not mean you were a slut on the fast track to hell.
Xani also recognized the importance in keeping her grandmother clueless as to what
was going on if she had any hope of slipping back over to the carnival tomorrow
night to see the wonderful boy with the angel's halo, so her best move now was to
cut and run with an innocent smile on her face.
"Yep, you're right as usual. Good night gramma."
Xani quickly kissed the older woman on the cheek and she darted off to her bedroom.
When Xani had gone, Willow breathed a sigh of relief. She finally felt her heartbeat
start to slow to a reasonable pace, and her brain function returned to normal. She
felt like she was the kid and Xani nearly caught her being naughty.
Quickly and silently she crept over and pushed open the door to make sure the girl
was gone and she would not be overheard. Then she snatched up the phone and
began dialing the numbers she seldom used yet knew by heart.
One ring. Two rings. Three rings. Willow drummed her fingertips on the counter
nervously. Four rings.
The voice was sleepy, grumpy and sounded remarkably close considering the
distance between them.
"Hope? Hi, hon, it's Mom. Hey, Hope, could you please put your father on the
phone? I need to talk to him."
The pause was long and dramatic and for a moment, Willow was beginning to think
Hope would just hang up.
"Well, hello, Mother. Gee, I'm fine. Thanks for asking."
Willow's hand holding the phone dropped away from her face and she sadly shook
her head. Why did it always have to be this way?
"Hope, honey, this is important. You can be mad at me later but I really need to talk
to Giles so can you just......"
"No, Mother I can't. Not that you care, but Dad is sick. It's his heart and......."
Hope's voice was cut off as Willow heard a muffled argument on the other end.
She was more than a little concerned. She often forgot that Giles was nearly
80 years old now. In her mind, he would always be the strong arms that held
and comforted her after the night that changed them all.
"Willow? Willow, how are you my dear?'
His voice was weaker, slow, and had that cracked, weary edge that comes from
age. Maybe she shouldn't burden him with this. Maybe it would be too much.
Still, she was sure he would want to know.
"Giles. It is wonderful to hear your voice. I know it's early there and I shouldn't
have called and wakened you. Hope says you aren't well. I hope it's nothing...."
Giles cut her off with a chuckle that sounded so much like his old self that it brought
tears to Willow's eyes.
"I'm fine. You know how our daughter worries. She is such a hen. Now, I know
you, Willow. You did not call here to inquire as to my well-being. So, what is
Willow peeked one more time to assure herself that little miss big ears was not
eavesdropping then she cupped her hand over the receiver and whispered harshly.
"It's here, Giles, it's here. The Carnivale Mystique. It's set up on the outskirts of
town and I went there tonight. Oh, God, Giles it is exactly the same. The games,
the booths, the lights and the smells. Everything."
The word "everything" was said with the weight of emphasis and implication.
Giles sat bolt upright in his chair and he waved away his daughter's attempt to
snatch the phone from his hand. She could see him getting excited and feared for
his weakened heart. Damn her mother. She never did think of anyone but herself.
"Hope, stop it and go fix me some tea. Willow? Listen to me. You stay away.
If it is the same one, you of all people know the danger. Let them do what
they do and you and Alexandria stay indoors. There is nothing you can do to
stop them and I couldn't bear the thought of........."
Giles' voice cracked and he let the rest trail off. He was old and all the fight had
gone from him years ago. Now, he just wanted the peace and quiet of the English
countryside till his final sunset.
"Giles, I can't. This is my chance to find out what happened to Xander. I have lived
my whole life waiting for this. I can't just hide and wait for it to pass like a fart in the
wind. Do you remember the blond carney? The thin man that was a vampire? Well,
he's still there. He hasn't aged and he is still there! I asked him about Xander and
he just exploded! I know he has the answers I need."
Giles put his fist to his chest as the sharp, familiar pain doubled him over. He reached
into the drawer by his chair for a bottle and shook out a small white pill that he slipped
under his tongue. Although it would give him a hell of a headache, the nitro would
ease the pain and restore him one more time. When he could speak, his voice was
quiet and measured.
"Willow, darling. Please. One person alone doesn't stand a chance. I'm long retired
from the Council and have no contact or influence with anyone who can help you.
Buffy is living in France ever since handing over the reins to the next slayer and she
seldom rings me. I know it is hard, but your friend is gone. Even if he did survive
all these years, a human enslaved by a pack of vicious vampires would not be the
person you remember. Please, Willow, let this foolish quest go."
Willow knew now that she was alone in this. She hadn't expected Giles to rush to
her side and reenact their plans of 38 years ago, but she did hope for his moral
support and maybe an idea or two. Like the old days. Her heart sank but not her
"Yeah, you are right, of course. I'm sorry I called you so early. Take care of
yourself, Giles. I love you."
"I love you too, my dear, and I will give your best to Hope."
Willow flinched at the nudging reminder before hanging up the phone.
Xander wanted to stand in the middle of the human masses and toss his head back
and crow. He wanted to dance and sing and wave his hands like a saved soul in a
tent revival meeting. His dearest friend, his past, his Willow was alive and well.
And she was a grandmother! Xander laughed out loud and attracted more than
one curious glance from a passing carnival-goer.
It warmed his heart. He had worried all these years about her and how she had
felt about his leaving so abruptly. He feared she would carry some sort of guilt
or mourn his loss and he didn't want that for her. But now he knew. All that
wasn't true. She must have gone on to live a happy life. To marry and raise a
family and for that family to give her the joy of grandchildren.
It was almost as though he too had had a part in her life. He grinned madly at
imagining her standing at the sink washing dishes or carpooling or rocking a baby.
All the wonderful human things that make life worthwhile.
He hoped the young girl would come back again. He wanted to hear it all. Where
Willow lived, how old she was, who she married and especially, if she was happy.
Xander wanted to know every small detail. Of course he wouldn't tell the girl who
he was. Possibly that he had met Willow a few years ago when the carnival passed
through California. Perhaps some other concocted tale of explanation. The details
were secondary, it was the result that mattered.
Sometimes truth can be very inconvenient.