She sprinted back to the Big Tent, where Harlequin was slumped against the wall. The Freak, also wounded, was dragging its way towards the Ringmaster, with the intention of killing him for good. Carmine bit her lip, knowing what she had to do, but reluctant to do it. Still she picked up Harlequin's cane, which lay conveniently at her feet. She pulled the topper of the can away, drawing a long, thin sword. The topper was gold, but the blade was pure silver. Slowly, quietly, she crept up on the Freak, who was too drunk on the smell of demon's blood to notice her. Carmine swallowed hard, then plunged the sword into the Freak's back, where his heart would be. The pointed tip emerged from the Freak's chest, covered in a black, tar-like substance. The Freak gave a howl of mingled pain and rage, then slumped, the remaining light leaving it's deadened eyes.

"Sorry, dad..." Carmine murmured, removing the sword and setting it aside. She then turned her attention to Harlequin, kneeling beside him and assessing his wounds. He wasn't dead, she knew, but he'd taken a beating. She wondered why.

"Carmine?" he asked huskily, "You... You returned to me..."

"We had a deal."

Harlequin sat up, most of his wounds healing as he did so, "So we did. Your friends are safe, I assume?"

"Yeah... Why didn't you kill him?"

Harlequin looked at the Freak, then at Carmine, "I didn't want to cause you more pain. He was your father."

Carmine shook her head, "My father died a long time ago, Harlequin. That was just his shell. Good thing your cane was around."

"You remembered it held a saber. Impressive," Harlequin smiled fondly at her, then stood, bringing her up with him, "Come, now. We need to get that arm of yours tended to."

"And what then?"

The demon regarded her calmly, "Actually, I've never given it much thought. I never thought I'd get this far."

"Well, that makes two of us," Carmine agreed, "You can start by promising to leave Lucy and Brett alone- they've been through enough."

"Fair enough. Let us walk."


Brett and Lucy had emerged in an abandoned park, near a bus shelter. On the bench, was a small, golden music box. Lucy opened it, allowing it to play a small bit of "Send in the Clowns," before ending in a familiar cackle. She exchanged a glance with Brett, who shrugged.

"Ha, ha," Lucy said sarcastically, "Very funny, Carmine."

Headlights approached, and the pair of them boarded the bus, heading back to the university. Lucy still had the music box in her hands when they arrived.

"Well," she said quietly, "I think, at this point, I could take on any haunted house. No problem."

Brett laughed uneasily, "I'd rather not take my chances. Maybe by October I'll have calmed down a bit, but right now, I'm still freaked out."

Lucy grinned at him, "Well, it's over now. And we're safe, thanks to Carmine."

"Yeah... Wonder if she'll be okay."

"She'll be fine. For all the years I've known her, she's never really belonged. I mean, really, what twelve-year-old is fluent in Latin? She belongs in the Carnival, with Harlequin and Madame Endora."

Brett nodded, "At least now she won't have to worry about the math homework."

"Wish I could say the same. Now I know how she felt, all those times. What a pain."

"Well, if you want, you could go back and play with your little doll friends."

"No, thanks."