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(fic) Getting in the Game

27th December 2007 (19:53)
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Over the holidays I started jotting down some notes on Faith: her character, her relationship with Buffy, speculations on her early life, etc. However, I quickly realised that, for some reason, expressing my thoughts this time was much easier in the form of fic than as prose. This is one of the results.

I wrote this late on Christmas Day, a time of fellowship and family and goodwill; so, naturally, it's the darkest thing I've ever written. It's about Faith's childhood...

305 words, rating 15, but contains concepts which some readers might find distressing.

Getting in the Game

Faith picked up the book carefully in both hands and walked into the kitchen. She wanted to hear the story again, and perhaps this time Mom would…


No. She knew from the smell, even before she saw the empty bottle rolled away on the floor, heard her mother’s crack-voiced snoring. Not this time. Then came a more sinister sound; a key in the lock. ‘Uncle’ Sean was back. He hit her if she didn’t call him that, so she’d learned real quick. She moved back carefully, trying to make herself small, as he came in. Smelling of the drink himself, he was. He seemed happy, a matter of a deal made or a bet won, and wanting to celebrate. But Mom wasn’t interested, however much he shook her and slapped her, she snored on. When he tried to pick her right up, she roused just enough to spew all down the front of his shirt. He bellowed in anger and threw her to the floor with a thud, and stripped off his sodden shirt and threw it on her unconscious body.


Then looked around and caught sight of Faith, pressing herself back into the wall. He glared, a new target for his rage; but then a different look crept into his eyes. Calculation, and hunger. He grinned, glanced down once more at her mother, then tried his best to smile ingratiatingly. Sweat glistened on his face.


“Hey, Faithie, since your Mam’s sleeping, do you want to play a little game? Just me and you?”


She shook her head mutely, already knowing it would do no good. If you were big, or strong, or rich, you got to make the rules. Anybody else, didn’t matter what you wanted. Wishes never worked except in stupid fairy tales.


The book fell onto the dirty floor, ignored and forgotten.


Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 27th December 2007 21:54 (UTC)

God, that was creepy. Creepy and brilliant.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 28th December 2007 00:41 (UTC)

Sometimes I worry myself. ;-)

Posted by: Dio (diachrony)
Posted at: 27th December 2007 22:50 (UTC)
buffy wistful (morayasicons)

Poor Faith.

It's a likely scenario, I think. Unfortunately.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 28th December 2007 00:44 (UTC)

It's why I wrote it like that; 300 words of fiction saying the same as a however-many-words essay, and a lot more evocatively...


Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 29th December 2007 12:05 (UTC)

Now, granted, this is not a very original subject when it comes to Faith backstory; "Faith was sexually abused" has been fanon since early s3 and I've seen tons of fanfic about it - most of it little more than an excuse to pile on buckets of darkness.

That's not intended as negative criticism of this ficlet - more like appreciation that you manage to use it to say something about the person Faith would become. It's disturbing, but there are two little details here that make it both more disturbing and a nice character study. The first being the book; books, especially children's books, hint at other possibilities, escapism, knowledge - and it gets thrown aside; this is it for Faith. The other being the lesson:

If you were big, or strong, or rich, you got to make the rules.

Yup. Faith. Poor Faith.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th December 2007 12:33 (UTC)

For me, there's one thing that defines Faith above all: she's been a victim all her life, until she's suddenly - by magic, literally - given the power to stop being a victim, and indeed make other people her own victims if she so chooses. And yet, and yet... despite all her coldness and cynicism, deep inside there's still the little girl that enjoyed listening to her mother reading Dr Seuss, that wanted a puppy... that is capable of loving, but knows no way to express that love.

Incidentally, is there fanon on Faith's teenage experiences? Because given all her references to "sugar daddies" and "guys with bullwhips" and "banging enough bankers" she seems to have a lot of sexual experience with old, rich men, all achieved before her 18th birthday and arrival in Sunnydale... Just guys she picked up in clubs? Or clients?

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 29th December 2007 13:07 (UTC)

I've always suspected that much of Faith's bluster - including the bit about wrestling alligators - is just so much fabrication. I'm not saying all of it, far from it, but she likes to project an image to cover up that little girl. After all, if she's the one doing the banging, if she's the one holding the bullwhip, then she's not the victim.

But as I said, not all of it. That's one of the scarier things about s3-s4 Faith, that she knows exactly how to get people to do what she wants: she flirts with everything that moves, makes sure she's what they want - because then she has some measure of power over them. And she obviously learned that long before she got superpowers. As far as she's concerned (or at least admits to herself), both her superpowers and sex are tools she uses to get what she wants (viz her reaction to Xander in "Consequences" or Riley in "Who Are You") though she enjoys both of them.

If one were into meta, one could probably tie that into the victimhood of the Slayer: steal her childhood, her chance at a "normal life", and instead give her experiences and powers - which ironically still serve the very men who gave them to her. But that's a (tr)icky subject and the stores close in an hour. :-)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 31st December 2007 23:34 (UTC)

Faith is definitely not someone whose word you can take at face value. However, I never got the impression she was lying about the alligators or the bullwhip. As Giles says, Faith is a bad lier; when she'd telling outright fibs, it's pretty obvious. (About having a party to go to in 'Amends', for example.) She mumbles and doesn't meet the other person's eyes.

The only person Faith can lie to convincingly is herself, and she doesn't realise she's doing it...

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