by Vala

When I was little, I used to steal my mom's needles and hide them. I saw what they did to her and I just wanted to save my mother like all little girls did. They always reappeared and I hadn't understood why. I had taken them, why had they always come back?

The heroin ate away at her flesh but still her muscles remained intact, if only just. I could see what it did to her and all I wanted was to save her.

When my watcher showed up and told me what I was, that I would save the world -- save people -- all I could think of was my mom. Could I save her too?

The question remained unasked but it had been answered. She was beyond saving. She was neither living or dead. A shell. A dead shell.

And still, I tried to save her. I trained and I sweat and I fought, but no matter what I did, none of it would save my mother. I could see it in their eyes.

Ten years and a Choice later, I saw how the heroin was eating away at my own flesh, but not the muscle. Never the muscle. I found it facinating. The way I could see her ribs jutting out from under my skin, the way my stomach was sunken in, the way purple bruises dotted my arm where the needle had been and didn't disappear for days, despite the fact I was Chosen. And the way I was so pale. So pale.

And then there was Buffy. Another Choice that had been made. When I had first found Buffy, she was daisy-fresh and than cleaner than Mr. Clean himself. That was, if Mr. Clean had been a heroin addict.

But that had changed, just like everything changed. Soon there was chains of daisy-shaped bruises dotting her arms as well. Only Buffy would think of something like that -- shooting up so the bruises would end up forming a pattern.

Giles, the Scoobies, even Joyce never found out about what we were doing until it was too late. Too late for me, too late for her, too late for the line of Chosen Ones.

Heroin, eating at our flesh; hero instincts, eating at our hearts.

We were shells. Dead shells.


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