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 was encouraged. She felt younger than she had in years, and she surprised
herself by the realization that part of her had actually missed the demon hunting
and vampire adventures of her youth. She felt strong. She felt confident and
driven now that she had a plan and a goal.
She drove quickly across town and charged up her front steps, calling out to her
granddaughter as she barreled through the front door. In response, Xani forgot
her instructions to stay in her room and she dashed down to meet her gramma.
Willow's eyes were bright and sparkled like emeralds. Her hair that, as usual,
was tied up in a loose bun, was now wild with tufts springing up on all sides and
tendrils hanging at the base of her neck. Xani was startled. She had never seen
her gramma so effervescent and bubbly and, for a moment, she regretted what
she was about to do.
She had considered doing a runner while her gramma was away but then
reconsidered. That would allow too much time for the search. It would cause
questions and concerns that would complicate matters. This new plan was better.
It was simpler and would buy her the hours she needed to convince Alex to
"What? What's the matter?"
Willow scooped the confused girl up in her arms and hugged her close.
"Nothing. Nothing is wrong. I'm just excited about our trip. There is so much to
see in London and it has been way too long since we saw your mother and your
Both women subtly checked the hands on the wall clock and did the mental calculations.
When they realized that they still had time, they relaxed and gave themselves over
to the warmth of love and home.
They had a light lunch of soup and sandwiches and, much to Willow's delight, as
Xani helped with the cleanup, they talked. Really talked. Like all teenaged girls,
Xani had spoken in generalities to her grandmother while expounding details of her
thoughts, feelings, and ideas to her best friends. Now, Willow felt like she was one
of those friends as they cuddled on the couch and Xani confided that she had a crush.
His name was unimportant as Willow would probably not have known him anyway.
She had only met a select few of Xani's classmates - and none of the young men - but
as Xani spoke, Willow could hear the excitement of first love in the girl's voice, and it
nearly brought tears of joy to Willow's eyes. Her girl was growing up.
Willow asked questions. What does he look like? What year in school is he?
Does he like you too? Has he asked you out?
Xani answered most of the inquiries with smiles and noncommittal shrugs, but the
question of his looks was the one she expounded on the most. Apparently, he
was magnificent. Dark hair, dark eyes, tall, solid. A god.
"Oh, my god, Gramma, he just glows!"
Willow laughed at Xani's squealed remark.
"He glows? What the heck does that mean?"
Immediately, Xani shut down. That careless remark had slipped out. She had
not meant to say that. She had gotten carried away thinking about him and it
had rolled off her tongue before her brain had the chance to filter it. When she
opened her mouth to offer a weak explanation, the clock on the wall chimed three.
She blinked. It was time. Taking a deep breath, she refused to allow herself to feel
guilty as she looked into her gramma's trusting face because, after all, she was doing
this for love. Pretending she had not heard that last question, or maybe it was just
not important enough to warrant an answer, Xani jumped to her feet.
"Hey, I know I'm grounded but can I please go over to Connie's for a few minutes?
We're going to be gone for a whole week and I need to explain it to her. Besides,
she can e-mail me some of my homework and I won't be so far behind when we get
Willow, too, was brought back to the reality of the moment, and all the things she
needed to do came fresh to her mind. This was perfect. She hadn't thought of any
excuses to give for what she needed to do in the garage, and now she didn't have to.
"Sure, Honey, I think that's a great idea. Don't forget, though, that we have to leave
for the airport by six. Giles said the flights usually leave Cleveland at nine and the
city is an hour's drive."
Xani smiled innocently. Three hours. That was a perfect head start and by the time
her grandmother figured out she wasn't coming back, she and Alex would be long
gone. Hopefully they would be well on their way to one of those states that don't
require a waiting period or proof of age to get married. She had no idea where
that was, but Alex travelled all over the country so he was sure to know.
"Good deal, Gramma. I will be back here long before six. Oh, I better run up
and grab a sweater. Looks chilly out there."
Willow laughed at the girl's overly dramatic arm gestures and expressions as she
darted up to her room and back down, waving as she sped out the front door.
Xani closed the door behind her and, when she was sure Willow was not watching,
she ran around to the side of the house. There in the tall autumn grass lay her
suitcase where she had just seconds earlier tossed it from her bedroom window.
Quickly, she grabbed it up and with one last, sad look at the house she had grown
up in, she turned on her heels and hurried away.
Willow sat where she was. She counted to one hundred to make sure Xani was
not going to pop back in unexpectedly, and then she rose to her feet. She ignored
the twinges in her joints that reminded her of her age and she set her mind to the
tasks at hand.
First she went to her bedroom and retrieved her suitcase, which she filled with
anything she could grab. The contents were unimportant as they would never be
needed. All that was required was the weight. She needed the illusion of a
prepared carryall to prevent Xani from asking questions on the way to catch the
plane. With that done she set it, like a stage prop, in the living room and she
proceeded to the garage.
Once there, she was relieved to find she had everything she needed as though,
somewhere in the back of her mind, she had known this day would come. She
gathered up five long wooden tomato stakes that were propped up with the garden
equipment, and she wrapped the ends with thick rags and discarded towels she
kept for washing the cars. After loading those in her trunk, she checked the cap
on the small lawnmower gas can and she placed it in also.
She briefly considered soaking the rags beforehand but realized the smell would
be strong and elicit questions she could not answer. She then took the remaining
tomato pole and snapped it in half. She rummaged through her sparse collection
of girly tools till she found a metal file and she sat down on the step stool, setting
to work to fashion two pointy-ended vampire weapons.
The last 38 years fell away as her hands remembered the feel of the stakes as
though it were only yesterday. Her fingers worked smoothly and efficiently as
they molded the wood, rounding out the square shafts and knocking the splintered
tips off, carving them into perfect, sharp points. She then used a piece of sandpaper
to assure no splinters would stick or jab her when she tucked them in her pockets.
When she finished, she took time to admire her work. They really were lovely.
The rich smell of the wood seeped out as she sanded and the swirls of dark through
light made her consider adding a coat or two of polyurethane to give them a shiny,
finished look. She chuckled at the absurdity and wished Xander had been there
to share in the joke. He would have tossed his head back and whooped at the
thought, then he would have accused her of wanting to paint them pink.
The mentality of stakes and monsters and vampires brought her thoughts to Xander,
but thoughts of Xander brought her back to the reality of here and now and the smile
fell from her lips. Killing the vampires and destroying the carnival would be the end
of her lifelong search. The blond fiend would never be able to give her a clue to the
location of her friend, but the fact was, Giles had said it all those years ago.
"Sometimes the sacrifice of one human is necessary to save a thousand."
She had hated him then for even thinking that, but the wisdom of the years had
altered her perceptions and she knew he was right. Wherever in the world that
Xander was, he had made no attempt to contact her. Either he couldn't or
wouldn't and it was time to move on. It was time to save the world.
When everything was complete, Willow returned to the house. She sat down at
the kitchen table and wrote a brief, cryptic letter to Giles that he would understand
but would be unclear to prying green eyes. She then returned to the living room to
A clock check told her that Xani should be back at any moment and Willow decided
that as soon as the girl returned, they would leave for the airport. It would give them
extra time together. They could grab a sandwich and talk till it was time to board the
plane. Then she would do her best to explain and vow to catch a later flight, meeting
up with everyone when the job was complete.
By 5:30 PM, Willow was pacing and growing angrier by the minute. She repeatedly
threw back the curtain and looked in the direction of Connie's house but the sidewalk
was always empty. She understood the innate irresponsibility of a teenaged girl, but
this was fucking ridiculous! At 5:40 she snatched up the phone and punched the
"Connie? Hi, this is Willow. Hey, tell Xani it's time to get her butt back over here."
"Xani? Sorry, Miss Rosenberg, Xani hasn't been here all day. I talked to her earlier
on the phone but...."
"Connie, are you sure you haven't seen her? If she's there, tell her I'm not mad at her
for being late, I just want her to...."
"No. No, she hasn't been here. I don't know...."
A sudden wave of panic washed over her and Willow had a sick feeling that something
had just gone terribly wrong.
"Connie, if she isn't there, where else would she go?"
Connie was torn. She had a very good idea of where her stupid friend had gone but
she vacillated between loyalty and the need to protect her best bud from harm.
"Um, well, I, ah......."
"Connie, Xani was telling me about a boy she had a crush on. Could she have gone
there? Has anything happened between them? Are they...?"
"Oh, flippin' flapjacks, Miss R, no. If you are talking about s-e-x, no way. I would
know and besides, she just met this guy at the carnival. She was spoutin' some
silly stuff about them being destined to be together on a counta his colors."
Willow was slammed by the knowledge that this was someone Xani met at the
Carnivale Mystique. It was the worst thing she could imagine happening but something
else Connie said confused her even more.
"Colors? What do you mean? What colors?"
Connie stood on the crest of the fence. She could hop down on the side of 'Gee, I dunno,'
or she could step over to the side of total truth and disclosure. She paused as her hand
gripped the phone tightly, and finally she spoke.
"I'm coming over. I think we need to talk, Miss R. I'll be there in five minutes."
Without waiting for a response, Connie hung up the phone and she darted out the door.