Disclaimer: I do not own Faith, even in child form; she is Joss's. I do however own Nolan and Miss Crenshaw. Lol
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Author notes: Takes place when Faith was a child, it is obviously AU. Now, in this story she has a social worker, I’m assuming that her later abuse at the hands of her mother and any possible others occurred because Faith became one of those ex-foster children who goes back to the natural parent, is re-abused, and falls into the cracks of the system. Something unfortunately far from unrealistic in today’s society.
The man in the purple furry Easter bunny costume in the middle of the busy, brightly decorated shopping mall looked up, smiling, as the next child approached him from the line. Though Nolan knew the children could not see his wide, overly cheery, and rather forced grin, he had found that plastering one across his face at the approaching of each child made it easier for him to transmit enthusiasm into his voice.
The child in question now seemed less than ecstastic to come to him. Most children were; he had gingerly held more squalling, squirming babies and toddlers than he cared to recall, all terrified at the prospect of being held by a large stranger dressed in a bunny costume. Nolan couldn’t really blame them for that- even if sitting in a wicker chair and surrounded by colored fake grass and Easter eggs, he was still hardly a figure most children were inspired to go to on their own steam.
Parents…always getting nostalgic and sappy over holidays. Of course they weren’t going to pass an opportunity for their kid to sit with the Easter Bunny, even if the little brat shrieked and flailed her way through the experience.
The child standing a distance apart from him now, not quite stepping out of line to head towards him, was different from most of the hesitant or frightened children Nolan usually encountered. There was nothing hesitant or frightened about her in the least- in fact, she was staring at him with narrowed dark eyes, with a rather unchildlike showing of something like contempt- even what looked to him like hatred. But surely he was imagining that…
She was a little girl perhaps five or six years old, small, with long unruly dark hair hanging down her back and thin, considerably scuffed, scraped, and bruised little arms and legs. She was dressed for Easter, as were almost all the children in line, but her clothes were neither new nor, Nolan suspected, originally hers. The pink dress was too large and worn-looking, dirt gathered freshly at the bottom, as if she had carelessly knelt in it a short time ago. Her white shoes were scuffed and old, and the ribbon in her hair kept slipping down. The interesting thing about her, beyond her ruffled, tomboy-in-a-dress appearance, was her demeanor and attitude- much more like that of a teenager than a young child.
As Nolan looked at her with some amusement, her arms crossed in a defiant manner across her chest. Posture stiff and guarded, she glared up at him without equivocating in the slightest. From the little girl’s behavior and the way she totally ignored the comparatively well-groomed woman just behind her, it was clear that this had not been her idea.
“Go on now, Faith,” the woman urged, trying to pitch her voice into patience and sweetness, but Nolan heard the edge in it all too clearly. “Let’s not keep him waiting any longer, he’s ready to see you…”
She gave the child a little push toward him, not exactly hard, but firm enough to further convey frustration. Nolan stifled a smirk behind the bunny head as the little girl stiffened, turning her glare upon the woman fiercely, before stalking closer to him, still keeping a good distance. He could see that this one would be a real treat, all right.
“Hi there, sweetie,” he said to her cheerfully, forcing a wide smile beneath the bunny head. “Your mama’s right, there’s nothing to worry about- just your friend the Easter bunny here! What would you like me to bring you for Easter- do you have any favorite candy?”
He stood, meaning to take the girl’s wrist and gently draw her closer, but one look at the intense fury quickly darkening the child’s already slitted eyes made him re-think touching her in a hurry.
“You ain’t any damn Easter bunny,” she growled, her voice surprisingly deep for such a young female child. “You’re just a dumb man in a costume. There ain’t no Easter bunny, how stupid do you think I am? Or if there is, then he’s an asshole, ‘cause he ain’t never brought me nothin’. And I’m not as bad a girl as some kids so I shoulda got somethin’ at least once...”
Nolan blinked rapidly at that, considerably taken aback. Never had he heard a little girl- a kid who might not even be in kindergarten yet, for god’s sake- talk like that…beyond the swearing, which was shocking enough, to hear such total cynicism and contempt in the face of such a fanciful idea that was usually embraced by children was a bit jarring. Not that he’d never encountered a kid who proclaimed his phoniness before- but never had he met one who did so in quite the attitude of this kid…
“Well of course the Easter bunny- I mean, /I/- am real!” Nolan proclaimed heartily, holding out his purple furry arms in benevolent cheer. “Just ask your mama, she’ll tell you-“
“That’s not my mama!” the little girl cut him off fiercely, scowling darker than ever, and odd quality flickered across her eyes Nolan could not interpret. “That’s my social worker, she MADE me come before I go back and live with my REAL mama today. See, you’re a damn liar, you don’t even know who my real mama is! She told me you and Santa Claus were nothin’ but bullshit and you never got me nothin’ so she wasn’t lyin’, you’re just bullshit.”
The child’s fists were balled at her sides, and her small body was so rigid she was almost shaking. She continued to glower up at Nolan as if he and his bunny costume were evil personified, and suddenly he was very aware of how this must look. He, the man posing as the Easter bunny, standing up before this small little girl who was glaring up at him like he’d said something horrible indeed. In fact, the picture takers were looking at him oddly, impatient for him to sit with her and have their picture taken so he could move on to the next child. Certainly the girl’s mother- no, social worker, she had said in between swear words- was frowning at them, looking as if she were about to head his way and see what was going on. No telling what the kid would tell her… damn he needed a new job.
Nolan forced another smile behind the mask. “Well at least you get a free chocolate bunny today…and you get to show off how cute you look in that pretty pink dress. Now why don’t you come sit with me and get your picture-“
Almost immediately he realized that those words had been far from the right ones to choose. The girl’s face clouded over in a hurry, her small eyebrows drawing together, dark eyes sparking furiously; Nolan could not recall ever having seen such a smoldering expression on anyone before, whether child or adult, and he temporarily froze, stunned.
“I am NOT takin’ any damn pictures with you! And this damn stupid dress is NOT pretty, it’s big and itchy and stupid and it’s not even mine! And I am NOT CUTE!!!”
Her small face pinching in anger, the little girl suddenly lifted her foot, landing a stunningly strong kick in an area that produced a loud, infuriated groan of extreme pain as Nolan fell to his knees, clutching his furry crotch in agony. As all the children and parents in line behind her gasped, absolutely horrified, the little girl continued to glare, but there was the beginnings of a smile now on her small face not quite matching Nolan’s incoherent yet homicidal thoughts.
“FAITH LEHANE!” the woman who had arrived with her yelped in shocked disbelief.
Faith ignored her, standing her ground until she came and roughly snatched her by the wrist, calling apologies repeatedly to the still-writhing Nolan. Tightening her fingers around the little girl’s wrist, she began to haul her away, hissing furiously all the while, but Faith blocked her out, letting her face go blank. She was good at that- had to be, living with her mama.
Miss Crenshaw was gonna tell her mama about this, she knew, and mama was gonna be so mad… this was her first day living back with Mama again since they took her away, and now she was already gonna get her ass beat. Even though Mama wasn’t supposed to anymore, Faith knew that was all bullshit, just like the stupid Easter bunny man. Nothing was gonna be any different… she was still a bad girl, so Mama was still gonna have to punish her even if she had told Miss Crenshaw she wouldn’t.
Faith didn’t care. It felt good, kicking that lying asshole bunny man…she just wished he hadn’t been wearing that stupid bunny head so she coulda seen his face.