Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy or Buffy.


Buffy showers under the hottest water she can handle. She showers almost burning her scalp and shoulders and scrubbing at her hair. The dye is fresh and the water is hot and the purple bleeds onto her fingers (ten fingers) and runs down her wrists (two wrists) and pours away with the rest of the water to the bottom of the tub.

It doesn't all run, though. Her hair is still streaked with Andrew's betrayal and the hatred of all the other Slayers she let down when she broke the Seed and the life she won't have. She'd never do it on her own, no way, not colours like this, but it's not washing out and her roots aren't showing enough yet. Faith got the horses, she gets the frugal mind and will probably leave the streaks in until she touches up the rest of her hair.

Hadn't she noticed roots showing when she was picking out her outfits for the party? Hadn't she actually stood and stared into the mirror and thought she'd need to cover those up soon and wondered how Spike decided it was time to do the same and wasn't it weird that she'd only seen his natural hair colour the one time? She'd had thoughts about this and then hadn't noticed that her hair seemed suddenly to recolour itself?

Her period is nearing its end, now just a faint, slow trickle that oozes down her inner thigh, not even enough to make a statement with the purple swirling between her toes and around the drain. She scrubs the stains between her thighs.

She'd gotten coffee after Psych 101 with Riley once, just before Thanksgiving break, and they'd sat in the corner and discussed senses so that it wasn't a date. He covered her eyes and asked her to describe things. What colour was his shirt, how many tables were between them and the door, what did the two girls in the table next to theirs look like?

She'd seen them, everything he asked about, but she had no idea.

"Like how you only use ten percent of your brain?"

"Kind of, except they made that up for movies."

There were so many things. Little teeny things that Andrew wouldn't have noticed, but she should have. Roots going blond, twinges in her uterus, mysteriously healed hangnail. Shouldn't she have noticed, even without those, that she wasn't in her own skin? When she lathers, she realises that the fake body didn't hold the scent of her soap the same way her real one does.

It's like only noticing the whine of the refrigerator when it goes suddenly silent.

There's a whitehead on her collarbone, right by her shoulder. It's tiny and pops under slight pressure from her fingernail. Buffy hasn't shaved her underarms since before the party and when she leaves the shower and stands in front of the mirror, she realises the scar Angel left on her neck was slightly misshapen. How did she not realise that?

On Buffy's twentieth birthday, Dawn had cut herself open to see what was inside. To make sure she bled. She didn't trust what she thought she was.

In the robot's body, Buffy had become like a Sunnydale citizen. Oblivious to what she should have realised immediately. She'd written it off. The disjointed feeling wasn't her getting acclimated to a new body, it was from a night of unremembered sex. The hangnail and roots were misremembered and forgotten. Her period…

She wipes the steam from the mirror again. Even with her scrubbing, her hair has left a purple stain down her left breast. She wraps her hair in a towel and stares at herself, at what she'd forgotten and hadn't noticed, and thinks about The Bride and Sleeping Beauty and Snow White and Faith.

What happened to her body when she wasn't in it? This place is supposed to be her home but she's been kicked out and returned so many times now.

Her body still has two arms, two eyes, one nose. No new scars or wounds. When she feels her hips and ribs, she can't tell any difference to her size. But she doesn't know what's really happened to it. She doesn't know what she's touched or where she's walked. The foods eaten or the sounds heard. Who saw her body? Who shook her hand?

Did anything more than that happen?

After she and Faith switched back, she cried in the tub. Just a little. A couple of tears streaked down her cheeks and she made no noise, no sobs. But the tears had fallen anyway. She'd been stolen from.

She puts the hand that isn't rubbing at the dye to rest across her stomach. Feels where she'd thought something was being created, where she thought she had a reason to leave. She'd been so close to ready, so close to seeking what her body had been living, having, enjoying.

She'd wanted it.

But she was so disconnected she could only have the life she'd wanted when she didn't know she had it.

Buffy pulls her hand away from her breast. The dye is bleeding out, the stain is her proof. This is her body. This is her skin. This is where it's supposed to be. This is where she's supposed to be. Even if she doesn't always notice. She wipes away the blood between her thighs.

The next time she leaves, she'll know. She'll be there.