Everyone has Secrets by Lilachigh
Chapter #9 - 9 Here
Everyone has Secrets

by Lilachigh

Chapter Nine:   Here

“It’s a shopping mall!  A bloody shopping mall.”

Buffy just stared.  She was too amazed to even add to Spike’s astonished muttering. She’d been expecting -  well, what did you ever expect when you stepped through magical portals?  Death and destruction?   Weirdness?   Alternative realities?  Little grey men?  If she’d been given a month to come up with the right answer she would have failed dismally.  An empty shopping mall, windows shuttered, lights dimmed.  So maybe, okay, maybe mega weird in its own way.

She watched as he strode over to a store door and shook it hard.  “Real, pet. Not any sort of vision.”


Spike shrugged. “Can’t sense the usual mumbo-jumbo that comes with the sort of magic Tara and Willow use.  Might be blacker, of course, but doesn’t feel like that.”

“Jeez, don’t tell me we’re back to mega gods and goddesses.  I haven’t got the right shoes on to cope with another Glory!”

“Someone’s coming, Slayer.”

Buffy whirled round, glad, as ever, for Spike’s vampire hearing.  But the enemy was just a thin old man, with a cloud of white hair, pushing a broom, sweeping the floor. 

“Hi,  er... hi, sir,  can you tell us where we are, er...exactly.”

He looked up and Buffy felt a chill sweep over her.  His eyes were a very odd colour; orange and green and purple, flashes of all three colours that flickered and changed.

“This is Here.”  His voice sounded too high, too scratchy.  He stopped as if realising he sounded wrong and after a pause, started again, the tone lower.   “You are Here.  We felt you wouldn’t understand Here, so we changed Here to look like somewhere you would understand.  You wouldn’t like how I look, so we changed it to this form.”

“OK. I get that.”  Buffy took a deep breath.  “Are  you the person I need to speak to about the little girl, Becca and her mom, Jan Maclay?”

“You have the Child?  She is safe?”

“One, yes and, Two, I very much hope so.  Jeez, can you just tell us what’s going on?”

“The Vessel that carried the Child has passed through to Far Beyond.  You will not see her again unless you follow her.  But the Child is ours and we need her Here and not in Beyond where you come from.”

“Do you mean Jan’s dead?”   Spike was getting irritated at all the crap talk about Beyonds and Far Beyonds. If they meant the poor woman had died, why didn’t this creature just say so?

“Not dead. Gone ahead. Gone to Far Beyond.”

Buffy could feel Spike’s temper begin to boil over and she reached down to clasp his cold hand, linking her fingers tightly with his, holding him back with every ounce of her strength.  “So not dead.  Not dead’s good.  Is Far Beyond a good place?”

The orange and purple eyes whirled violently and for a second the old man’s shape shifted  and Buffy could have sworn she saw something that shimmered and pulsed, rippled and shook and all she could feel was an overwhelming sense of fear mixed with overwhelming power and....and then he was just an old man again, leaning on a broom.

“Far Beyond is Far Beyond.  The Vessel belonged there.  No longer needed Here on in Beyond because there is now the Child.  And the Child is all important, for us, for you, for everyone and everything in this world and ours.  We need you to bring us the Child.”

“Never going to happen,” Spike snapped. 

Buffy took another deep breath.  Jeez, she sometimes thought she’d spent all her life trying to understand what demons and alien gods were talking about.  Xander after a couple of drinks was easier to work out.

“Listen - the kid you call the Child is a little girl we call Becca.  A little girl who needs a mother.  So, are you telling me that Jan Maclay is dead?   Because if so, we need to think a whole lot more about Becca’s future.”

There was a long pause.  Buffy had the feeling that the creature was, in some way, communicating with someone - some thing - else.  Then...

“You give the Vessel a name.  But she was only always the Vessel.  She belongs to us which is why she has gone to Far Beyond.”

“This gets weirder and weirder, pet,” Spike muttered.  “Have I got this right?  He’s saying that Jan was never human...she was, what, one of them?  Some sort of shape shifter? Bloody hell, did Tara know, do you think?”

Buffy shook her head.  “I’ll never believe that.  I know Tara was a bit shy of us sometimes, perhaps wouldn’t have talked to us about her private life or stuff, but there is no way she wouldn’t have told Willow if she thought there was some sort of demon, wacco dimension thing going on.”

“They’re not demons.  I’d sense that.”

“So what are they?”

“Bloody hell, Slayer, I have no sodding idea at all. I’ve been round a hell of a long time on this earth and never come across anything like this before. And believe me, you hear all sorts of rumours and gossip on the vamp network.  Places like this or mentions of somewhere called Far Beyond would have surfaced at some time.”

“Listen - Mr...Mr...jeez, what do I call you?”

“We do not have what you mean by names.”

“OK, then I’ll just call you Joe.  Right, Joe.  Is Becca a human child?  She certainly looks like one.”

But then, she thought swiftly, Dawn did too, although no one could be any more possibly, irritatingly human than her sister.

“The Child was made with our Vessel and a human man.  It was not supposed to happen. It is forbidden for a Vessel to know a human in that way.  But it happened and there is now the Child, which we must have. And soon. She has been hidden from us for too long although we have done all we can to keep her safe, even though she is not in our sight.  Now, you must leave. You have been here too long already. You cannot stay; your frail bodies will not survive.”

“Now, wait just a minute....”

Spike held her back as she stepped forward.  “Leave it, pet.  He’s right.  Can’t you feel it? Limbs getting heavier,  head bloody swimming.  Being a vamp doesn’t seem to count for much down here.”

“I will return you to the outside and you must bring the Child to us.”

“Or what?”

The old man raised his head and the eyes swirled purple and orange again and Buffy shuddered.  His form was dissolving and her brain just wouldn’t compute what she was seeing.

“Or you will all die,” were the last words she heard before everything went black and she felt herself flying, tumbling head over heels through space and time until she thumped down on the long wet grass outside of the hillside.


“I’m OK.  You?”

“Oh, I’ll survive a few more centuries yet, pet.  Unless you up and stake me, of course.”

“Don’t tempt me.”

A thin white hand, streaked with mud, reached down and pulled her effortlessly to her feet.  “What now?”

Buffy stared at the long, rippling grass that stretched across the hillside.  There was no sign of the way in and she had a feeling that even if they found it again, it would be barred to them.

“We go home.  I need to talk to Giles, get him to do some research on all this Far Beyondy business.  Do you think that...that...thing was serious about everyone dying?”

Spike shrugged and wiped the mud down the front of his jeans.  “Your guess is as good as  mine.  I’ve had that remark thrown at me too many times to count. And I’m still here and so is the world.  But - ”  he paused, frowning.  “Demons, vamps, hell-gods, they all have the same sort of agenda.  And I’ve never known one where a little girl was important.”

Buffy swung round impulsively.  “Dawn was just a little girl.  I died because of her.”

Spike winced. “Well, OK, but there’s no sign of the heavens opening and all hell pouring through.  Just three weird things and an even weirder place.”

“What if they are right?”

“What do you mean?”

Buffy shivered.  It was getting colder and she was still soaked through.  “What if Becca is the same sort of key thing that Dawn was.  What if it’s a choice between giving her to them and ending the world?”

And unspoken, the words lay heavily between them.  What if I have to die for the world again to save Becca?