I was preparing myself to write a fluffy little fanfic as a response to Carlos coming home at the end of Old Oak Doors, as we were all expecting. But, noooooo! Joseph Fink didn't want us doing that, did he? No, he was sitting at his little table with his little co-writers, laughing maniacally while thinking of ways to rake our feels over hot coals! *pant* Ahem, on the plus side, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be: The way Carlos was talking, I thought he'd have to leave Night Vale forever in order to close the doors! At least there's a chance of him going home to Cecil this way. However, one fact stood out in my mind after this episode: Steve Carlsburg threw Kevin through an old oak door. That means that Carlos is in the desert with no one but a bunch of masked warriors, the defeated smiling god, and Kevin. Since Kevin is one of my favorite characters (and the first cosplay I ever put together), I couldn't resist fanficcing this idea! Enjoy! ^_^

CARLOS' POV

Carlos crouched in the shadow of the mountain that, according to most residents of Night Vale, did not exist. His incredibly scientific umbrella was propped up against the warm stone, further shading his face from the disconcerting light on the horizon. He kept glancing at it, his mouth drawn in a nervous frown.

Ever since the closing of the old oak doors, the smiling god had retreated, but had not vanished. It sat on the border between land and sky, acting as a horrifying substitute for the desert sun, looming constantly, regardless of the time of day. The pulse of white, transparent light threatened Carlos as he wandered the desert. It threatened him as he spoke to the giant, masked warriors. It threatened him as he tried to find spots of blessed darkness in which to sleep.

The masked warriors didn't seem to be affected by the horrible, biding light. Carlos guessed that it was because of the masks that they wore. He asked at one point if he could have one made for him. The warriors didn't answer with words (they either couldn't speak English, or didn't wish to), but Carlos was given the distinct impression that he would need to become a permanent member of the tribe in order to be allowed a mask.

This, of course, was out of the question. He'd be back in Night Vale within the week, surely. He couldn't be joining foreign warrior tribes.

His only solace came in the form of his undying phone battery, which allowed him contact with his fellow scientists, Dana, and, most importantly, Cecil. The nightly conversations with his odd, beautiful, adorable boyfriend sometimes felt like the only barrier between the scientist and a fall into complete, translucent insanity.

Every night, with his head turned away from the horrible light of the smiling god, Carlos would call Cecil. First, they would discuss ways to bridge the gap between the light-bathed desert and Night Vale. Then, they would talk about what they would do when that bridge was made and after Carlos was home.

It was the third night since the closing of the doors and Carlos was shooting down multiple ideas.

"No, Cecil. We can't send a Night Vale citizen through the house that doesn't exist!"

"You said that the doors were open because everyone wasn't where they belonged. Someone just needs to go through the house and find a door leading to the desert. Then, you go through an old oak door first. The citizen will follow and the doors will close again. Besides, it won't be a random citizen! I'll go! That way, even if I get stuck on the other side, we'll be together." Carlos could practically see his boyfriend's three eyes staring hopefully into space, like the violet gaze of an otherworldly puppy.

Carlos breathed a deep sigh. "First of all, I'm not risking you like that. The smiling god has been passive aggressive toward me for the most part. There's no telling how it will react to a Night Vale citizen, especially you! Second, sending a Night Vale citizen through the house doesn't guarantee that they'll get to the desert. It was an old oak door in the house that led to the desert in the first place and I'm not sure if it will even show up. Third, even if this plan did work, there's no way I'm letting all of the old oak doors activate themselves again! I've been sitting in the light of this smiling god, Cecil. It's waiting for an opening to try and take Night Vale again. We can't give it one."

"But, how will you get home?" Cecil groaned. "We have to make a doorway between there and here somehow!"

"Yes, we do." Carlos replied calmly. "But, it needs to be small and quick, so that I can get through without giving the smiling god any room to make another move. I've been looking at the lighthouse. I think that the key to getting out may be in there. Dana told me that one of the angels-"

"Angels aren't real, Carlos." Cecil corrected gently. "Remember?"

Carlos rolled his eyes. "Dana told me that one of the Erikas got you into the radio station using a portrait of the lighthouse. Maybe there's some way to open a door for the...er...non-angels to come through and take me back to Night Vale like they did for you."

"I'll talk to Old Woman Josie." Cecil's voice immediately became bubbly and eager. "I'm sure the Erikas will help if they can! Do you think they can? Oh, I hope they can. I miss you so much!"

A soft smile came to Carlos' face. "I miss you too. When I come home, I'm going to take you on a trip across Europe. We'll tour England, Ireland, France, Germany, wherever you want to go."

"Ooh! Can we howl with the banshees when we go to Ireland? I've always wanted to howl with banshees!"

Banshees?! Actual banshees? "Of course we can." Carlos replied, putting a hand on his face. "We can howl with the banshees for as long as you want." Should I really be surprised?

"Oh, I can't wait!" Cecil giggled. "I've heard that they really know how to throw a party!"

"Sounds fun." Carlos chuckled. Hm... If I could measure the pitch of their cries and relate it to the prediction of death... "So, what else is new in Night Vale?"

"Ugh." Cecil groaned, immediately switching to his over-worked diva voice (as Carlos called it). "I cannot handle politics! We've got Dana trying to get settled in as mayor in one area. We've got Hiram and the Faceless Old Woman holding protests in the streets while threatening to burn Dana to a crisp in another. Tamika and her group of teenagers have started a private bodyguard service for Dana and there have been street fights all over the place. Really, it's almost enough to make me miss the days of Pamela Winchell."

"I'm sure Dana will be fine, Cecil. Look at what she went through to get where she is."

"Oh, I'm not worried about her!" Cecil elaborated. "I'm convinced at this point that she's invincible or something. No, I'm worried about myself! Do you have any idea what it's like to regularly have angry dragons and old ladies bursting into your radio station and trying to get you to denounce Dana publicly or suffer a fiery demise?! I almost called Station Management for help! Station Management!"

"There, there." Carlos cooed. "You'll be fine. When I get home, I'll threaten them both with science."

"Aw! That's sweet."

"Science is a pretty real threat. Maybe I'll-" Carlos suddenly stopped as something caught his eye in the distance. "Um, Cecil? I think there's someone else in the desert."

"Huh? You mean besides you and the masked warriors?" Cecil's voice was immediately alert.

"Yeah. Whoever it is looks...like he's stumbling. I'd better see what's happening. I'll call you once I know more. Okay?"

"Okay... Be careful, Carlos! Call me within a few minutes, okay?"

"Of course." Carlos murmured as he stood up, picking up his umbrella. "I love you."

"I love you too." Cecil's voice was hesitant as Carlos clicked the End Call button.

Carlos pocketed his phone and held up the umbrella as he walked across the sands, trying to get a good look at the distant figure. Whoever it was was human-sized, unlike the giant masked warriors. As he drew closer, Carlos heard a sound like a heavily-muffled scream. The figure was clawing at its face in what looked like pure agony. The scientist picked up the pace, breaking into a quick jog.

His heart lurched as the figure's general shape and structure became apparent. It couldn't be... He had only ended the call a few seconds ago! "Cecil?" He called.

Even as he spoke this single word, however, Carlos realized that something was wrong: The figure was wearing a yellow vest. Cecil never wore yellow. The figure's hair had been bleached by the sun, so it was almost white. Cecil's hair was a darker, more natural color. The figure's skin held an eerie, golden tan, like the skin of a copper serpent. Cecil, despite his desert environment, was deliciously pale.

Carlos skidded to a halt, his mouth dropping open in horror, as the groaning form of Kevin turned around to face him.

His first instinct was to run. If he had been further away and blessed with a more obscured view of the Voice of Desert Bluffs, he would have done just that. He would have turned and bolted as quickly as possible in the opposite direction without a second thought, and that would have possibly been the end of any future encounters.

However, the closer view of Kevin's face caused Carlos's feet to become rooted to the sand: The creepy, usually-chipper man was not smiling. On the contrary, a frown seemed to have been permanently etched on his face. No...it was etched on his face! His mouth had been sewn shut in the shape of a deep frown. Not only that, but his eyes, all three of them, were similarly stitched, making him unable to see or speak. Even now, he was stumbling in the general direction of Carlos, one hand outstretched, desperate to find the source of the voice he had just heard.

Carlos gripped his umbrella tightly with one hand, torn between what was logical and what was moral. Every part of his brain told him to run from this dangerous man. He reminded himself of Cecil's disappearance and how he had been beaten down while still on air after the failed revolution. He remembered what Cecil had told him about Kevin's attempt to try and "fix" little Janice. He remembered hearing that unwelcome voice bleeding through the radio during the times Dana tried to break through and find Cecil. He remembered the shivers that had raced down his spine with every cheerful, overly-gleeful statement concerning "office decorations".

These were all logical points and were surely enough to warrant a quick retreat before the stumbling figure could come any closer. Carlos turned, ready to run back to the mountain, when Kevin let out a pained whimper. The sound was muffled by the stitches on his mouth, but the plaintive pitch was still there. The scientist gritted his teeth and looked over his shoulder.

He saw a scared, pathetic man trying desperately to reach him, begging for help.

With an inward sigh of defeat, Carlos turned and walked over, placing a hand on Kevin's forearm. The golden-skinned man immediately froze, his whimpering coming to a sudden halt. His hand shot forward and gripped Carlos' lab coat, as if he was scared that this one solid thing would vanish if he let go.

There was no turning back, now. "Come on." Carlos sighed. "My equipment is this way. I'll start a fire and see what I can do about cutting those stitches."

A burning, unbearable heat radiated from Kevin's hand and seeped into Carlos through his coat. Despite the sweat that was beading on his face, he shivered.

So, this is my second Night Vale fic. I hope you enjoy it and I hope that I'll be able to consistently update. I have a bit of a history with not finishing chapter fics... Review, but don't flame unless you want to bask in the warmth of a smiling god. Forever and ever and ever... Peace out! Strex.