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.
Xander could not believe his luck. He had been perusing the obituaries to check
for suspicious deaths, and he had scanned the classifieds to see what people in this
part of the country found valuable. Apparently there was a big market for beagle
pups, 15-year-old Chevys and secondhand wedding rings. Oh, and he noticed
that the local Provision was running a special on their deer processing.
Just as he was about to flip over to the only real part of a newspaper that mattered,
the comics, he looked up and saw her. The power of the deja vu nearly rocked
his world and the paper dropped to the table, forgotten. It was the very image of his
Willow riding her bike across town all those years ago to the wrong side of the tracks
to visit him.
His eyes burned with unshed tears, his breath hitched and his heart fell to his stomach.
Quickly, he forced himself to look away and regain control. When he was restored,
he glanced back again and was surprised to see her. She had stopped riding and
seemed to be staring at a spot directly over his head.
Immediately his brain spun and a little voice spoke in his inner ear.
'This is it. Oh, fuck. This is my chance. OK, Xander. Don't blow this. Don't
give her the impression that you are some dirty old man. Keep it light. Keep it
cool. Give her the come on in and try to look innocent.'
Lifting his cup and half a sticky bun, Xander put on his best goofy smile and gave a
small measured nod of the head. And it worked!! He nearly squealed when he
saw her drop her Schwinn and ease in the doorway.
When she slowly lowered herself to sit with him he fought the urge to reach over
and take her hand as he would have done so naturally with Willow. It was
funny how the memories could sweep the years from your heart's doorstep
like fallen leaves.
"Good morning. I wasn't sure you would remember me from the carnival."
Xani's eyes dropped. Looking into his was simply too intense, and the feeling of ants
crawling all over her skin was most disconcerting. She groaned and mentally kicked
herself for wearing these old jeans and a Conotton Valley Rockets sweat shirt.
At least she had on clean underwear.
As soon as the intimacy of that consideration hit her, she blushed and the heat of
embarrassment rushed through her, warming her face to a bright pink hue. She
fumbled with the frayed hem of her shirt and she stuttered.
"Oh yeah, I remembered you."
Xander was delighted.
"I just came in for a bite. This is such a nice, friendly town you have. Would you
like some coffee? Or maybe some hot chocolate?"
Xani was giddy. She couldn't wait to call Connie and tell her that she had a breakfast
date with that great-looking guy. But first she had to dazzle him with her wit and
sense of humor. Gramma always said men liked girls with a sense of humor.
"Sure. Cocoa would be keen. I can't stand coffee. It tastes like Juan Valdez let
his donkey shit in the bag of beans before they left the jungle."
Xani snorted out a laugh but quickly sobered when she saw the stunned reaction
on her companion's face. Xander felt like he had just been punched. He couldn't
count the number of times Willow had said those very words when they were
entering their teens. When he realized she was staring at him, he shook it off and
"Yeah, coffee can be a bit of an acquired taste. I've tried to quit over the years but
some things hang on your back like a monkey."
He then turned in his seat and signaled the waitress over. When she pulled out
her pad and pen he ordered a hot cocoa and another sticky bun. While he was
occupied, it gave Xani time to really study him. His face was young and smooth
and at a distance he seemed not much more than a year or two older than she
was but subtle indicators pointed otherwise.
He spoke and acted like a grownup. As though he were the age of her teachers
or her friend's fathers. But that couldn't be. And most striking was the light.
When other people got angry, upset, happy or afraid, the colors changed. Their
auras rippled, growing stronger or weaker and sometimes they blended with the
person standing near them and Xani knew what that meant too.
But not him. His light stayed that same, bright, vibrant blue. It pulsed, steady
and strong and it seemed to emanate from him rather than simply circle his head.
It was very perplexing. It was hypnotic.
"Well, this is nice. I appreciate your sitting with me. Because we travel so much
I don't get the chance to talk to people outside the carnival. I did tell you my name
was Alex, didn't I?"
Xani was very aware. She had only written the name on the cover of her school
theme book approximately 100 times last night.
"I do remember. It's a funny coincidence because my name is Alexandria. Course
my friends call me Xani."
Xander smiled and decided to jump right in.
"That is a coincidence. Are you named for someone in your family or did your parents
just like the name?"
Xani shrugged slightly. A move Xander knew well. It was one he had perfected when
he was young and someone would ask a question about his own family. Suddenly he
felt very protective of the young girl.
"No. I don't have a father and my Mom lives in London with my Grampa. I live
here with my gramma and I think she is the one who named me. Probably has
to do with stuff that she won't talk about when she was a kid. Secretive stuff. You
know how loony old folks can be."
Xander laughed as Xani crossed her eyes and twirled her finger at the side of her
"Anyway, how long have you been with the carnival? Didn't your parents have a
cow when you went with them? Gosh, my gramma would come after me with the
business end of her belt if I ever did that."
Xander laughed out loud at the thought of a grey-haired Willow chasing after this
spry young girl and threatening to tan her hide.
"Yeah, I can see Willow doing that."
Xani's face scrunched up and she physically leaned back in her seat.
"How did you know my gramma's name was Willow?"
Immediately, Xander checked himself. He had gotten too comfortable and slipped
up. If he was to get the information he wanted, he would have to be more careful.
"That's what your friends said. Remember?"
Xani chuckled. Of course. She was ashamed of herself for being so mistrustful.
"Oh, yeah, of course. Wow, maybe I'm catching a case of the Alzheimer's too."
The tension was broken and they settled in. The waitress brought the chocolate
and refilled Xander's coffee cup, and they each happily dove into the caramel and
walnuts of the still-warm sticky rolls.
Then, as if they were old friends, Xander coaxed Xani to talk. She told him about
her grandparents and the fact that she suspected that they were hippies because
they never married back in a time when it was expected to do so. She talked
wistfully about her mother and the drug and alcohol problems that prevented her
from being what a small child needed. Xander could empathize with that.
She explained that her Grandfather was retired from some government organization
in England and that her mother cared for him in his old age. She snickered when she
said that she calls him Grampa G because it was a nickname that he hated. It was
all the name Xander needed and he was speechless to know that Willow and
Mr. Giles had............ugh.
But mostly she spoke of her beloved Grandmother. The woman who had stepped up
to the plate in Xani's time of need. She had accepted the child without reservation.
She had cared for and loved her above all else in life, and the mutual love and respect
Xander heard in the young girl's voice touched him deeply.
Although Xander was saddened to hear that Willow had not had the wonderful life
he had envisioned for her, perhaps she had the one she wanted.
For the next two hours, the couple chatted like they had known each other all their lives
and maybe, Xander thought, in a way they had.