bmblbee (bmblbee) wrote in bloodclaim,

Dream Catcher

Title: Dream Catcher
Author: BmblBee
Rating: NC17
Paring: S/X
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 held onto the telephone long after they had disconnected. Her emotions
swirled around inside her, spinning like a hurricane and threatening to suck up
everything in her life that gave her peace and hope.

On the top of the scale was the fear. A gut-churning fear reminiscent of the terrors
she faced as a girl, standing beside the Slayer and fighting to save the world. Back
then, it had almost become commonplace. A weekly occurrence that she could set
her watch to. It was Saturday, must be time to slay a dragon. Or Friday, can we
go to the Bronze or are there vampires in Restfield? It was a way of life then and
horrible, distant memory now.

Unfortunately, as they say, sooner or later all chickens come home to roost, and
Willow knew in her heart that she had personally placed her beloved Xani directly
in the chicken coop by her inability to let the past and her friend go. Willow knew
she was no better than those stupid storm chasers that seek out tornados then, when
they find them, turn and run screaming in the opposite direction.

Well, she had sought out the carnival and now it was time to run and scream.

'Thank God for Giles.' she thought. As reluctant as she was to walk away from the
strongest lead she had ever had to discovering Xander's fate, right now her priority
had to be Xani and putting as much space between her and the carnival as possible.
When she felt as though she had regained some semblance of self-control, Willow
stood and put on a false expression of happy and she climbed the stairs.

Xani sat on the side of her bed in a state of total confusion. She was furious
when she overheard her grandmother talking to grandpa Giles, but when the subject
of spells was mentioned she was totally derailed. Spells? Did her gramma have
spells? Like fits or epilepsy? She didn't seem sick and she had certainly never
seen her fall to the floor and convulse. It was very confusing but the bottom line
was, it didn't change anything.

She and Alex were in love and were meant to be together. Grampa Giles said he
was reserving tickets for them to go to London and, actually, Xani was glad. If her
Gramma was sick, she needed to be with someone who could care for her, especially
now that Xani would not be around. The carnival would be leaving town in a few
days and, married or not, Xani would be going with it.

Willow raised her fist to the closed door and paused. What was she going to say?
What tack to take? Firm and insistent, or gentle and explanatory? She hated it when
she and Xani argued and right now they needed to avoid all the negative emotions
they could. One thing she understood clearly was that the carnival was evil, and evil
thrives on negativity, anger and dissent. So until they are high in the sky and flying
east, she needed to keep things as pleasant and calm as she possibly could.

When she felt she was finally ready, she raised her hand and she rapped lightly on
Xani's door.

"Xani, Honey, can we talk?"

Xani hopped off her bed and hurried over. She was relieved that the fight seemed to
be over. She loved her Gramma with all her heart and didn't want their last day together
to be marred with harsh words and hurt feelings. Quickly she opened the door and
grabbed the older woman by the hand, tugging her across the threshold and into her
arms. Willow responded immediately with relief and gratitude and her own clinging

Finally the two separated and Willow led her over to sit on the bed, as they had done
a thousand times while Xani would complain about the injustices of her life or bubble
about the amazing things she had seen and done at school. Today's talk would be
like none of those. This time, for both of them, it was a life-altering conversation.

"Xani, I think....."
"Gramma, are you sick? I never noticed but you look kinda pale."
"What? Sick? No. I....I'm fine. That isn't what I want to talk about."

Xani frowned. She had been so caught up in her new love that she failed to notice
the new lines around her gramma's mouth, the dark circles under her eyes or the grey
hairs that she would have sworn weren't there yesterday.

"Gramma, I'm sorry I yelled at you and I was wrong to go to the carnival after you said
not to. Can't we just forget all about it? I'll stay in my room the rest of the day if you
want, and I'll be good from now on. I promise."

Willow looked into the clear green eyes that were so like her own 40 years ago, before
age and sadness dulled and clouded them. She believed the girl's sincerity, and if this
were simply a case of disobedience she would be more than happy to sweep it under
the rug, but it wasn't. There was a field of land mines out there and she needed to get
Xani away before she accidentally stepped on one.

"I hate it when we fight too."

Willow reached up and pushed a thick red tendril off the girl's forehead before taking
Xani's soft hand in hers.

"Um, I just talked to Grampa Giles on the phone and you know he hasn't been very well.
I mean, he still takes his daily constitutional into the village, but he is 82 years old and I
think it would be a really great thing if we just flew over there and visited him. Kind
of a spur-of-the-moment vacation. It will be wonderful fun. Just for a week or so.
What do you say?"

Xani's eyes narrowed fractionally and the left side of her mouth drew back as she
studied her grandmother's face. 'So,' she thought, 'that's the way you want to play this.
Well fine. I have a few moves of my own.' And her face lit up.

"Really? London? Wow! That would be sweeter than peach meat! But what about
school? I don't think they would let me take a whole week off. Would they?"

Willow nearly sobbed with relief. That had been so much easier than she feared.
In just a few short hours they would be high in the air, safe, and that damned carnival
miles below them. But they weren't gone yet, and first Willow needed to do a simple
protection spell. Something to assure they were cloaked in a magical security
blanket until they were out of town and, for that, she needed some ingredients.

"I don't think it will be a problem. I'll call the school Monday from London and explain
that this was a hardship situation, and due to an illness in the family it couldn't be helped.
I'm sure they will e-mail your assignments and you can keep up with the class by

Xani nodded. She was more than slightly impressed by the old bird's ingenuity. Her
grandmother apparently thought she had all bases covered, but Xani had an ace or two
up her own sleeve.

"Yeah, you're right. That would work like a charm. Hey, I'm going to start packing
right now. Oh, damn! Oops, I mean darn. I'm out of deodorant and I left my spare
toothbrush at Connie's house. You don't suppose you could run to the drug store for
me could you? I hate to ask, but it is a long flight and I just can't go that many hours
without brushing my teeth. Yech!"

Willow laughed at her granddaughter's exaggerated shudder and grabbed a pencil and
paper off Xani's nightstand, handing it to her and instructing her to make a list. Mentally,
Willow was making an inventory of her own. Recalling all the ingredients she would
need to place a ward around the house, the car and both the women until they were
safely aboard the plane. It had been years since she did it but it was like riding a bicycle.
Once you learn magic, it stays with you forever.

Cheerfully, Xani handed over the short list and she ran to her closet. She reached
into the far back corner and she pulled out the tattered small suitcase she had arrived
with ten long years ago. Willow frowned, her voice wistful and tinged with regret.

"We never travelled or took a vacation all the time you have been here, have we?"

Xani shrugged, and swiped the dust from the top before popping the latches on the lid.

"No, I guess not, but it doesn't matter. I have a feeling this is going to be the adventure
of a lifetime."

Willow smiled and kissed the top of Xani's head before she left the girl to do her
packing. When this mess was over and they returned home, Willow promised herself
that things would be different. No more looking back. No more living in the past.
Whatever fate had befallen her friend was done and over with, and it was time for her to
look to the future.

Alexandria was not a baby anymore, and the years before she went off to college and
started her own life were frighteningly short. Willow vowed to make the most of them,
and this holiday was the perfect way to start.

Feeling lighter than she had in days, Willow skipped down the stairs and called after.

"Finish packing. I'll run to town and be back in about an hour. See ya."

Xani stood at the top of the steps with her arms wrapped around herself and watched
the older woman go.

"Bye, Gramma. I love you."

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