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but you're just a girl

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Buffy Anne Summers is born a girl. She's tiny, so small and pink that Joyce can't help but laugh and Hank can't help the tears falling because this is his little girl who he will protect.

When Buffy is six years old her baby sister Dawn is brought home. Buffy holds her and rocks her and promises little Dawnie that she'll be okay because her big sister Buffy is here. She couldn't have known that when she was twenty years old her body would be broken and beaten at the bottom of Glory's tower. She couldn't have known that when she was twenty and Dawn was fourteen Dawn wouldn't have a big sister. She would someday grow past age twenty and she would someday forget that there is a blonde girl who was once alive.

When Buffy is twenty years old she gets a baby sister and she loves her wholeheartedly. It takes awhile but Buffy realizes Dawn is her. Which means that Dawn is Buffy and Buffy is Dawn. Dawn is an extension of Buffy, all the secret parts that she doesn't show and keeps in a locked trunk in the pit of her stomach just shines through Dawn. It's bright and brilliant and searing. It's almost painful to look at but Buffy can't tear her eyes away.

When Buffy is twenty years old she plans to defeat a god that took her sister. Before the heavy planning session takes place she slips out to see what the commotion out back is. It's a vampire trying to make a meal of a boy. He doesn't know that she's the Slayer and it tells her how much times has passed since she was only considered the pre-meal snack. It's pleasant in a painful way. The boy she saved looks at her like she's a mythical creature and he says "You're just a girl." He's shocked and confused.

When Buffy is twenty and that boy tells her she's just a girl she replies "That's what I keep saying." It's sad and it makes her stomach twist and bitter sadness swell in her heart.

It feels like she's drowning all over again.

When Buffy is twenty she tells her sister to live.

When Buffy is twenty she stops being present tense and she starts being past tense.

When Dawn is fourteen she cries for days on end and stays inside curled in a ball. She's ruined and wrecked and everything hurts. It feels like she's burning up in flames but nobody will give her water. No, Buffy would get her water but Buffy is. . . Buffy is-

When Dawn is fourteen she can't finish that sentence.

When Buffy is twenty she dies so her sister will live.

When Buffy is twenty she is told that death is her gift so she gives.

When Buffy is twenty her life just ends