Clothes... a no-brainer really, given she wouldn't be able to change for the next few weeks...
'How's she coping?'
'Better than I expected...' Fey said. 'She's focusing on what's happening _now_, rather than what happened to her.'
Something that might have been a smile crossed her face. 'And I pity da fool who did this to her...'
'Sheesh.' Sam said. 'A-Team quotes now...'
'She _is_ all right, though?' Charley pressed.
Fey paused. 'As well as you might expect...'
Fitz shuddered. 'I can imagine... Check that. I *know*...'
She caught a quick glance of herself in the mirror.
No. Not really much need for it, was there?
'Listen...' Fitz said. 'Imagine looking up... and seeing your own face. But not in a mirror, or anything like that - it's _your_ face... but you're not behind it. You're not controlling it. It belongs to someone else.
They've taken it away from you. Made it _theirs_.
Stolen your face.
And then you realise that _you_ are _here_, that you're _stuck_ in this shell of a body...
...and that the _thing_ wearing your face has stolen who you are. Stolen _your_ identity. Your _life_.'
'And all you want to do is curl up in a corner and _die_.'
'And you can't even do that.'
'Not even that...'
Izzy walked into the room, wearing her familiar jeans, t-shirt, and multi-coloured jacket.
With a difference.
The body wearing them was _not_ Izzy's.
The first thing was the skin.
It glinted silver and blue as the light hit the scales.
Scales which covered the whole body.
There were three 'triangles' of green-blue scales on her cheeks and chin, giving her the appearance of someone wearing a war-mask.
No nose. Just blank space between the eyes and the mouth.
A mouth filled with sharp, pointed teeth. Eyes that were yellow, cat-slitted.
Two antennae rising from the bridge between her eyes.
Fish-like fins taking the place of ears.
Green dreadlocks flowing down the back.
Tendrils along her arms and legs.
Sharp, clawlike fingernails and toenails.
Like an underwater devil...
'You... okay, Iz?' Fitz asked.
Anji raised her eyebrows. Stupid question to ask...
Izzy rubbed her sleeve. 'I think I see why Destrii stuck with the Xena: Warrior Princess look... This _chafes..._'
The voice was different, too. Slightly deeper, rolling the vowels a little more. More... fluid.
She took her seat at the table.
And looked at their faces.
'Come on, guys. It's not like we haven't gone through this before...'
'Too many times...' Ssard rumbled. '_Far_ too many.'
'Yeah...' Fitz said. 'Body-Changing Experiences R Us.'
'You came through them,' Anji observed.
Fitz steepled his fingers and looked at her. 'Or we're still going through 'em... No-one said anything 'bout being happy when it happens.'
'Some of us were...' Compassion said.
'Some of us were prepared...' Sam said, with a trace of irony. 'Not _everyone_ expects they're gonna end up in "Freaky Friday", y'know.'
Izzy groaned. 'Guys, it's far too early in the morning for this...'
Fitz grinned wryly. 'Need introspection at the drop of a hat? Come to us! We soulsearch anywhere, anywhen, any universe. Call now!'
'You're telling me...' Compassion said. 'We _could_ cut all this out, you know...'
Izzy shook her head. 'No thanks. Trying to cut down on my quota of bodyswaps for the millennium...'
'A disguise?' Charley suggested.
'Thanks, but...' Izzy pointed to her new body. 'I'd still know I looked like _this_ underneath, that it wasn't really _me_ they were looking at... It'd be for _them_, not me...'
She shook her head. 'Grief. I'm talking like this and I look like a Fish Person. Someone shoot me.'
'There are worse fates...' Ssard said.
Izzy glanced at Stacy and Fitz. 'Yeah... Yeah, I know. Not by much, though...'
'Believe it.' Fitz muttered.
'Then again...' Izzy murmured.
Charley reached out a hand. 'Isabelle?'
Izzy's eyes were glistening. 'I want to know _why!_ Why did she _do_ this?! What was she _thinking?!_Why...'
Her voice started to break, becoming that of a little girl's. 'Why did she do this to me? I thought... I thought...'
'I thought she was one of the good guys...'
'Opportunity.' Compassion said. 'Destrii had the opportunity to switch your minds, and she took it.'
'That's not an answer.' Anji said. 'It doesn't explain why she did it in the first place.'
Compassion shrugged. 'The only one who can tell us that is Destrii herself. And she's not around.'
'You could find her.' Fey said darkly.
'I could... if I knew what her current biodata pattern was.' Compassion said. 'I _don't_. The only way I could tell Izzy was Izzy now was because of her telepathic imprint. I have never met Destrii. I do not know what her telepathic imprint is.'
She smiled hollowlly. 'I may be a TARDIS, but there are limits to what I am capable of, even now.'
'Could have fooled me...' Fitz said.
Compassion's mouth quirked, but she stayed silent.
Anji frowned as Stacy waved the waiter over. 'Mmn.'
As Stacy placed their breakfast order, Izzy winced. 'Eeeuch. Now I'm _really_ hungry. Just _my_ luck Destrii puked before she decided to palm her body off...'
Fitz _so_ did not want to know what a Fish Person threw up.
'Izzy...' Sam said quietly. '...Do you think you'll be able to cope with this?'
'I've been shrunk, drowned in morphant goop, nearly had my arms torn off, had someone force their way into my brain...' Izzy spread her arms. 'Being caught in the remake of "Turnabout Intruder" should be a walk in the park, right?'
Sam nodded, but still looked unhappy.
'_Listen_' Izzy said. 'I'm still _me_. Even if someone's walking around with _my_ body, they're not me. _I'm_ Izzy S.' She grinned. 'Even if they did decide to recast the part...'
'Now _that_ is Izzy...' Fey commented under her breath.
If Izzy heard her, she didn't reply.
'So... we're gonna have to wait and see...' Fitz mused. 'I _hate_ that.'
'Cliffhanger Syndrome,' Compassion observed. 'The stress brought on by anticipating what will happen in the next episode or story.'
'Yes, thank you, Dr Compassion. We'll let you know...' Fitz muttered.
'Thank you, Nurse Fitz...' Compassion said, face absolutely straight.
Thankfully, breakfast arrived before the sniping got to DefCon Three.
Later, by the poolside:
'Well?' Fitz said.
'You were thinking about something earlier...' Fitz said. 'Out with it...'
Sam shook her head. 'It's just... I think she's going to need us a _lot_ over the next few weeks. Going to need _someone_ to help her hang on in there. Make sure she doesn't get too comfortable, that she's able to go back... that she doesn't _lose_ herself.'
'And what happens if she's stuck like this?' Fitz said. 'Ever think of that? What if it's permanent? What if she _can't_ go back?'
Sam looked down. 'I don't know, Fitz...'
Fitz slumped. 'Neither do I... Great place to start, huh?'
'You're telling me...' Sam shook her head again. 'But that's it, really, isn't it? We're the ones who know her best... and we have no idea how to help.'
Fitz leaned back in the chair. 'Who _would?_'
'Hmm...' Sam murmured. 'Anji'd say every problem has a solution...'
'Yeah. And *I'd* say where do you start looking?' Fitz shook his head.
Sam sighed. 'In the end... all we're going to be able to do is support her, be there when she needs our help. Maybe it'll be enough.'
'Hmm...' Fitz said. 'Maybe...'
'You can do your best. But is your best good enough?' Fitz thought Sam was quoting something. He couldn't say what, though. He wondered if she could, either.
'It'll have to do.' he said.
'It has to.'
'It has to...'
Copyright 2001 Imran Inayat