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.
After about two hours, when the subjects started repeating themselves and the
silences between doubled in length, Xander knew it was time to go. His nostalgia
had been stirred, shaken and finally satisfied and it was time to again put it all in
that golden box on the back shelf of his memories. He set down his cup and he
yawned before checking his watch.
"Wow, look at the time. I've kept you here for far too long. I wouldn't want your
grandmother to worry, and I need to get back to the job. It was wonderful of you
to sit with me like this."
Xani frowned. Realistically, she knew they wouldn't spend the rest of their lives here
in this coffee shop, and her bladder screamed at her, threatening to embarrass her if she
dared to swallow one more drop of hot chocolate. But she hated the thought of
leaving him. Especially now when the realization had dawned like the break of day.
They were soulmates. She could see it in his eyes and she was certain he could
feel it too. No one had ever spent so much time or shown so much interest in her.
He wanted to know everything. He had hung on every detail about her as if she
were discussing the origin of life itself. He cared. About her. She had told him things
that no one knew about, not even her gramma, and he was fascinated.
It was as plain as the freckles on her nose.
She and Alex belonged together.
Still, just in case he was reluctant to pledge her his troth just yet, she would play it cool.
She would devise a plan and execute it carefully. Her immediate concern was her
timeline so, with a sweet smile, she rose to her feet and attempted to sound as adult
"You're right. I didn't realize how long we had been conversing. My dear, elderly
grandmama shall be worried and I shan't want to concern her. Oh, um by the way,
how long did you say the carnival would be here?"
Xander grinned and remembered his own times of youthful insecurity when he wore
the false, ill-fitting cloak of maturity and he rose to shake her hand, appearing equally
"Probably a week or less. Sometimes we cut the run a few days early if the attendance
is low or we have, um, other problems."
Xani accepted the offered hand and shook it firmly. Less than a week. Damn, that
might make it more difficult but not insurmountable. It might be that an accomplice
was needed. Now she couldn't wait to go and call Connie.
"A week huh, well, yeah, I gotta go. I might see ya again though. Bye."
With that, she spun on her heels and darted out the door. Xander shook his head and
chuckled. Kids. Silly creatures. You never knew what was on their minds. He
watched out the window as she picked up the red bicycle from the spot where it had
been laying for the last couple hours and he saw her jump on and peddle frantically away.
He dropped several dollars on the tabletop then strolled to the display counter to
carefully select something that would satisfy his vampire's sweet tooth when he awoke.
After that, he emerged into the cheerful bright sunshine and began the long, pleasant
stroll back to the sawdust and mechanical monsters of the rickety rides.
And his vampire. His Master. Xander laughed and picked up the pace. He would
always return to his Spike. Nothing short of death and destruction would stop that.
Xander counted himself easily the luckiest pet in the world. Possibly, several worlds.
Willow leaped from her chair when the front door slammed and she caught just a
glimpse of the coattails that sped past her.
"Xani? Hey, what the heck took you so long? Did you get the milk? Xani?"
Xani's head poked out of the kitchen door. Her face was red and she was panting
"Oh, sorry, Gram. I forgot the milk. I ran into a friend and we had some cocoa
at the Catfish. Sorry. Hey, I gotta call Connie quick but I promise I'll go out later
and pick the butter up then."
"Milk, Xani, I said mi....."
But the girl was already gone. The door swung shut and Willow had to smile. She
remembered that age when nothing was as important as talking to her best friend.
She would dive on the phone, call Buffy and they would giggle and talk for hours.
She would also bet her last pair of orthopedic shoes that this sudden earth shifter
involved a boy, and Willow was delighted.
Quietly, she tiptoed over toward the closed door and in a blatant violation of Xani's
privacy, Willow pressed an ear against the kitchen door where she could hear her
granddaughter's voice, excited and muffled as she spilled all the facts for her friend's
"...oh, quit being such a hen, Connie. I'm telling you he is the absolute tits! Oh,
my God! He shook my hand. .......yeah, I know, it was.......I don't know. I still
can't tell. Sometimes I think he is about 18 but..........yeah, he does, doesn't he?
Anyway, we had cocoa and donuts at the Catfish! *SQUEAL* I'm not lying!"
Willow clamped her hand over her mouth to stop from making a delighted sound.
Her Xani had a crush on a boy! Willow could already see images in her brain
of her girl in a prom dress or sitting on the porch swing with a clumsy, awkward,
pimply-faced teen whose hands would need to be repeatedly smacked and kept
from wandering where they had no business.
She wondered who it was. He must not be a school chum if she was uncertain of his
age, and if he was 18 that was certainly on the top end of what she would allow.
Car dating was, for now, out of the question but maybe after she got to know him
and when Xani turned 17.........
".........Bullshit, Connie. Look, are you going to help me or not? No, no, it
can't wait till later. Because we only have a week. He said the carnival will move
on at the end of the week and when it does, he will be gone."
Willow staggered back. She felt as though she had been punched in the chest and
she pressed her fist against her breastbone fighting against the pressure and pain.
No longer concerned about the girl's right to privacy, she charged through the
closed kitchen door and she snatched the phone from Xani's hand, slamming it
down to hang it up.
"What were you talking about? What about the carnival? I heard you say something
about the carnival. Did you go there? After I gave you orders, did you......"
Xani was outraged! She took a step back as her eyes shot between the disconnected
phone, her snoopy grandmother, and the closed kitchen door.
"YOU WERE SPYING? You were eavesdropping and listening in to my private
conversation! How dare you? How dare........"
"DID YOU GO THERE? I only asked you one thing, Xani, and you promised me....."
"YES! Yes, I went there. You don't understand! You are old. You forget what
it's like to be you and bored and living in this stupid town where nothing interesting or
exciting ever happens. Then one day the carnival comes to town and you freak out!
You are just afraid I will have fun! You don't want me to ever have fun! You just
want me to be boring till I get old like you!"
A violent shudder ran through her small body and Willow gasped. She and Xani had
never had harsh words like this. It was already happening. The evil of the carnival
was touching their lives. She blinked and took a deep breath. When she spoke
again, her voice was steady, strong, and left no doubt that she meant business.
"Alexandria, you are grounded for the next week for disobeying me, lying to me, and
for disrespect. You will go to your room and stay there until you can speak in a
decent tone, then we will talk about this. Do you understand me?"
Xani watched the colors around her grandmother's head. While usually a light blue
mixed with soft grey, the aura was now fire red. It spiked and rippled like exploding
spots shooting from the surface of the sun. It was something she had seen before on
others but never on her grandmother. It gave her pause. It slightly checked her
fury but not her determination. For now, the point went to the older woman and
"Fine. I'll go and don't worry about lunch. I wouldn't want you to put yourself out
With that, the young girl flipped her hair as she turned on her heels and she stomped
as loud as she could up to her room and she slammed the door.
Willow shook her head and cupped her face in her hands.