StephenT (stormwreath) wrote,

(Meta) A Buffy characterisation question

I've been writing a story, but I've come across a situation where I'm really not sure how Buffy would react. Which is my fault for deliberately putting her in an environment where she's completely out of her depth, I suppose. :-) So I thought I'd turn to you guys for help: what do you think would be in-character for her to do? There's a poll under the cut, but feel free to elaborate on your answer in comments, or go off on a crazy tangent about what else she'd do, or how other Buffyverse characters would react, or how you would react yourself...  (I'm apprehensive about making Buffy act the way *I* would in this story, rather than necessarily the way she would, which is partly why I'm asking.)

The fic, incidentally, is a follow-up to 'Last to Ancient First', which sees Buffy sent back in time 8,000 years to prehistoric Africa, where she's joined up with the clan the First Slayer was born into. This is post-series Buffy, aged about 25.

So, the situation. Firstly, Buffy has been asked to help skin, gut, and butcher a large freshly-killed animal (an antelope) which the hunters have brought in. How does she feel about it?

I imagine the typical 21st century person, unless they've been brought up on a farm or similar, is likely to be pretty nauseated by this experience: the sights, the smells, the blood. On the other hand, Buffy is the Slayer. Killing things is what she does, so it's unlikely she'd be put off by a little blood and guts. But on the other other hand, when she slays she'd hyped up by adrenaline and killer instinct; chopping up a dead carcass is a different kind of experience, and I do remember some occasions ('Bad Eggs', for instance) when she showed herself to be rather squeamish.

So how do you think she'd react? (For the record, I've decided that she will do the butchery anyway; the question is whether she's casual about it, or she has to keep going through sheer willpower and determination despite feeling like she wants to throw up).

Second question. It's a few hours later, and Buffy and her Mesolithic companion (which would be Hiywan, for those familiar with the original story) are now hot, sweaty, dirty, and splattered with blood and slime. Unfortunately, plumbing won't be invented for another 6,000 years or so, so the only way to wash is in the large stream that flows past the clan's campsite. Buffy's companion is going to unselfconsciously strip off her clothes and jump in the river naked to bathe. What will Buffy do?

My impression from the show is that Buffy is awkward about nudity. I'm especially thinking of James Marsters' comments about Season 6, where he said that the more naked Spike got, the more clothes Buffy seemed to put on... On the other hand, there were special circumstances then, with Buffy's depression and her shame about being in a relationship with a soulless vampire, so maybe she was more sensitive about her body than she would normally be?

To set against that, too, there's the fact that Buffy tends to be pragmatic; and she can see for herself that the people she with don't seem to have a big hang-up about being naked, and she is pretty filthy. Incidentally, just to set the scene, she's wearing her normal 21st century clothes. And she doesn't speak the local language; she has to communicate through mime and gestures. And just to complicate matters and make them even more awkward, I think her physical appearance would seem bizarre and exotic to people who've not only never encountered, but never even suspected the existence of other ethnicities. She's the subject of a lot of intense curiosity. People are too polite to stare openly - at least the adults are - but I think Buffy will be able to sense she's the subject of a lot of covert attention.

So what does she do? Enthusiastically strip off and go skinny-dipping, eager to get clean? Blush and be embarrassed, but do it anyway because there's not much choice and it seems to be the accepted thing here? Keep her underwear on? (But then she has to cope with wet underwear for the rest of the day) Head off out of camp alone, following the river to somewhere more secluded, for privacy? (But remember, this is prehistoric Africa. There are lions and hyenas and crocodiles about...) Shout and gesticulate at the people around to turn their backs and not look? (Ironically, that's just likely to draw the attention of even more people...) Stay dressed and just wash her hands?
Poll #1714369 What would Buffy do?

How would Buffy feel about skinning, gutting and chopping up large freshly-killed animals?

Take it completely in her stride; she's the Slayer, after all
A little squicked at first, but soon gets over it.
Nauseated, but keeps going through sheer determination.

How would she feel about having to bathe naked in a river with other people around?

She wouldn't care, she just wants to get clean.
Embarrassed, but does it anyway.
Leaves her underwear on.
Goes off by herself to bathe somewhere more secluded.
Insists everybody else leaves first.
Keeps her clothes on, just washes her hands and face.
So - what do you think?
Tags: buffy, hiywan's story, meta, writing
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