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.
Daylight Savings Time. It is a man-made curse that fucks with the body's internal
clock, confusing the brain's perception. It is a generous gift that extends the daytime
during the summer, offering the opportunity to linger in the fading dusk on
the warm evenings. But then, as though the biting winds of autumn aren't cruel
enough, the clocks are suddenly jerked backwards, causing a premature burial
of the sun's illumination.
Although it was barely six PM, it was already dusk and Willow's concern for her
missing granddaughter grew by leaps and bounds with each fraction of an inch that
the sun sank on the horizon. Willow knew what prowled though the night. She
knew the terrors that thrived by the light of the moon.
Pacing back and forth and wringing her hands, Willow counted the minutes
from the time that Connie had said she would come over till the knock finally sounded
on her door. Before the girl's small fist struck the wood the second time, Willow
snatched the door open and jerked her inside.
"Spill! Now!! I need to know everything and make it fast."
Willow offered no seat or refreshment. This was not a social call. It was strictly
business, and urgent at that. Connie was equally on task and she set aside all
concerns that Xani would be angry at her betrayal of confidence. She understood
that this was one of those times that you stepped up to the plate swinging full out.
It was not about the individual player. It was about the final score of the game,
and tonight the game was saving Xani from whatever had her grandmother
looking like she had just seen a ghost.
Connie spoke fast. She zipped over all the babble talk that she and Xani could
exchange for hours and she laid out the cold, hard, albeit bizarre facts. She crossed
her fingers and prayed that Willow would accept the truth of what she was saying
without demanding explanations, facts and proof that Connie was unable to provide.
Willow was flabbergasted. Not that her granddaughter had grown up with a
second sight that set her above most of the human population, but that Willow had
never recognized it. Auras. The girl saw auras.
Willow snorted and shook her head. It made perfect sense. Xani had an uncanny
ability to know people and even as a small child, when she first met someone, Willow
noticed the girl would look over their head. Willow always assumed it was a sign
that the child was shy and unable to look the person in the eye. Now she knew.
Xani was looking at their aura to decide what their character was.
Tears stung her aged, tired eyes. She thought she had done her best for the girl she
loved like her own daughter, but she didn't know her at all. That small part of her
heart and mind that was reserved for her friend and her quest of him had prevented
her from giving herself 100% to the life she should have been living.
Connie watched Willow shake her head and she feared that it was all too strange to be
believed. When Xani first told her about it, she herself had doubted, but over the years
there had been too many instances of affirmation. Now, although she had no explanation
for it, Connie had faith that it was as real as the precious oxygen that you can't see or a
God that never showed his face. It just was what it was.
Finally, Willow snapped out of the regret and self-loathing she was beginning to wallow
in and she refocused her attention on the here and now. The sickening facts were
that Xani was missing and somehow the carnival was involved.
"OK, now tell me about this boy Xani met at the carnival."
Connie blew out the breath she had been holding in fear that precious moments would
be wasted in her attempt to convince the older woman of something that carried no
"Well, when we went there, that's when she met him. He just kinda came up to us
and started talking. Mel was flirting like she always does, but he only had eyes for
Xani. I thought it was kinda creepy but I could tell she liked him. She said his aura
was like nothing she had ever seen. She said it glowed, bright blue and stronger
than that of other people. Then, when she called me earlier, she said she ran into him
at the Catfish Cafe. They had breakfast together and oh God, Miss R, Xani
thinks she is in love with him and that he is in love with her. I'm sure that's where
she would have gone."
Willow fought the urge to throw up. It was Sunnydale all over again. The memory
of Larry and Harmony and all their other friends that were lured to the magic of the
carnival, only to be murdered and discarded like the day's garbage, lurched in her
stomach and twisted in her heart. 'It's not too late!' she screamed at herself. 'It
can't be too late. I won't let it!'
Immediately, she grabbed Connie by the upper arm and she steered her towards the
"Thanks, Connie. Now, you need to go home. I'm going to go get Xani and that
isn't the place for you. It's not safe and I can't risk you going along."
Connie jerked out of the older woman's grasp and she stood her ground. Defiant
and determined, she set her face and crossed her chubby arms.
"No! Xani is my bestest friend in the whole world and I feel kinda responsible
for whatever has happened. If I had told you all of this sooner, she wouldn't have
run away. Nope, if you are going after her, so am I."
Willow took Connie's round face in her hands and she looked the girl in the eye.
Connie had taken a leap of faith and told Willow about the improbable and downright
outrageous with the hope that it would be met with an open mind, now maybe it was
time for tit for tat.
"Connie, do you believe in monsters? In things that go bump in the night? Have you
ever seen a shadow passing in your peripheral vision that sent chills down your spine,
but when you looked again, there was nothing there? If I were to tell you that there
is another population that lives side-by-side with us but is unknown to most, would
you be able to understand?"
Connie took an unconscious step backward and stuck the tips of her fingers in the
tight pockets of her jeans. The intensity in Willow's face left no doubt that this was
not a game or a joke.
Willow decided to go for it. In fact, she found herself relieved at the prospect of having
an extra set of hands and eyes as they would work their way to the carnival. The plan
that had remained slightly vague and incomplete in her mind now felt substantial and
gained strength in possibility.
She would find a clearing a safe distance from the grounds and set Connie up there
with the torches and the gasoline. She would then slip into the carnival and find her
foolish granddaughter, freeing her from the hold of the fiend who had lured her away.
If necessary, Willow was prepared to drag her, kicking and screaming.
When the rescue had been accomplished, the three of them would light the torches
and burn the Carnivale Mystique to the ground, sending it to the pits of hell where
it belonged. If Xani refused to help, no problem. Willow and Connie would follow
the instructions Giles had given all those years ago, and the job would be done
now as it should have been done then.
With a curt nod of her head, Willow began.
"All right. We are short on time and I don't particularly care if you believe all this
or not but I am going to tell you about the world, Connie. The real world and then,
whether you accept it or not, if you are still willing, we are going to the field outside
of town and we are going to collect Xani before it is too late."
Connie lifted her head and straightened her spine.
So Willow did. Without wasting time on the emotions and the details that mattered
so much to her but meant little in the bigger picture, Willow took Connie on an
adventure through the years long past and back to Sunnydale, California. She talked
of demons and monsters and vampires. She explained about the Slayer and her
Watcher and the loss of life and innocence, and all the while she spoke, Connie stood
frozen on rubbery legs with wide open eyes.
Willow described the week the carnival had appeared in Kutter's Field and the
excitement that had surged through Sunnydale High School. She named the friends
who never saw the end of that week, and she pointed the finger of blame directly
at a certain blond man who was in truth a bloodthirsty vampire.
With a cracked voice and a sting in her eye, Willow spoke of her beloved Xander
and how she never learned of his fate. She confessed that she had, in a fashion,
given her own life to the pursuit of that knowledge and she admitted that every step
of the way, she had failed. She prayed that her confession would not prove prophetic
and that this time, this one time out of them all, she would win.
Connie felt as though she had tumbled down the rabbit's hole and landed on the
other side of the looking glass. Reason and common sense told her that she had been
shoveled a wheelbarrow full of bullshit, but trust and her instincts knew that Willow
believed every word she was saying, and right now that was good enough.
"Come on, Miss R, the candle wick is burning and I have a feeling that before this night
is over, you are going to hear a whole lot worse come out of my mouth."
Willow snatched the girl up in a fast hug and together they hurried for the door.
When Willow jerked it open, her mouth dropped and she was face-to-face with the last
person on earth she would have expected.