Disclaimer: I own nothing. Owned by Joss Whedon, Doug Petrie, and Thomas Harris.
Author notes: Sequel to “Evaluation,” Buffy/Silence of the Lambs crossover. One month after her session with Dr. Lecter, Faith must face him again. This will likely be several chapters and longer than the original, and I’m not quite sure exactly where it will end up yet.
Faith would never have thought it possible for a month behind prison bars to pass so quickly. Usually every minute passed with the excruciating slow tedium that was, as difficult as it was for someone of her restless, impatient nature to bear, infinitely more preferable to the continual incisive pain, the raw anguish and barely held back rage, that she had struggled so desperately to gain control of. That pain had threatened to control her, to consume her, prior to her confession to the LA police and her taking residence in prison to atone for her crimes.
It was still there, lurking in the depths of the shadowed heart she had once thought damaged beyond repair, the soul she thought she had no longer possessed. The hurting, the anger, the guilt…the fear. Inside the prison walls Faith could begin to push it aside, if not to sort through it or to make it go away. She could forget it, sometimes…she could begin to feel a tentative, slowly growing peace, for the first time in her life, even if this peace was not whole or firmly fixated inside her. And even when it was hard, even when she had to clinch her fists and tense every muscle and force herself to keep back impulsive words of anger, even when she had to check herself from striking out at another person who managed to slip a fingernail under her skin, even when boredom and anxiety combined to make her scalp prickle and her skin itch so fiercely with a desire to do something, anything, to break forth from her self-imprisonment and just run, just scream, just lash out and unleash unto others everything she was fighting to keep inside, she could check herself, could still hold back.
Even when ordered about by prison guards she knew she could kill with one blow, even when enduring touches unasked for and strip searches that were unnecessary and unwanted, even when hearing sneered comments from other inmates and the voices that had never entirely stopped echoing in the back of her mind, voices made all the more powerful because they were the ghosts of memories…even with all of this, Faith had been coping, she had been getting by. Even with the occasional flashbacks coming to her so suddenly and intensely at times that Faith froze, her breath catching, throat closing over, her eyes darkening and growing unfocused as her hands shook and her knees weakened slightly, heart pounding in reaction to the onslaught of images quickly flashing into her mind’s eye.
Grasping hands on bare skin, the glinting of an eye in the darkness, a large hand on pale naked flesh….the lifeless, still face of a heavily made up woman lying on a couch with her neck at an awkward angle, her limbs stiff and pale in death…an older woman’s kind smile, quickly twisting into a vivid mask of terror and suffering as the life finally faded from her eyes…raised voices, a blur of motion as a knife slashed downward, and blood, so much blood, as a shocked voice said to her, “Faith, you killed a man…” and a small face framed with blonde hair, set into grim lines as its owner thrust Faith’s knife into her stomach.
Even with this, and even with the nightmares that left Faith breathless and alert, heart knocking in her chest, face flushed, hair sticking to her neck and cheeks by her own sweat, stomach twisting itself into a taut mass of knots low inside her, she could still forget, still push it aside at times, if only because of the brief moments that she could feel the smallest fragments of peace within her grasp. It was those few precious moments that could sustain her through all else. It was those moments that had given her hope, that if she could not be happy, or could not make things right, that the fact that she was trying could at least bridge some of the distance.
Until that damn shrink, that fucking Dr. Hannibal Rhymes-with-Cannibal Lecter. Because ever since he had set his pale, creepy eyes…eyes that never seemed to blink, not ONCE…on Faith, and somehow used them to see into her soul, she hadn’t been able to feel that fleeting peace again, not for even a few moments. And everything else…it all was much more persistent in setting up permanent residence in her thoughts, her feelings…even her dreams.
After she had been escorted back to her solitary prison cell, fresh out of her “session” with the man who could make the guy from The Shining look like a sensitive and sympathetic guy, Faith had paced the small confines of her cell with agitated energy, barely able to keep from ripping off its bars and flinging them, from punching the wall or breaking her bed. The emotion the bastard had provoked inside of her pressed so strongly against her chest that she found it hard to breathe, to gain control over her movements or feelings, and she could not calm herself down for nearly an hour, could not stop pacing until the warnings of the baffled and irritated prison guards and her own sudden and startling exhaustion brought her to a stop.
Slumping onto her bed, head in her hands, she listened with vivid awareness to her pulse throbbing inside her head, mingled with the echoes of the voices tangling inside. When she had gathered herself again into a semblance of normality in her expression, blanking out her gaze, lifting her chin, and straightening her posture to convey a blustering confidence and defiance she did not feel, Faith told herself that Dr. Hannibal Lecter was just a head-gamer, a quack, a bastard who had read her files and then used her obviously too blatant gestures and expressions to make guesses about her and her life. There was no magic in that, just a lot of patheticness that someone could get just from watching her the little bit the guy had gotten right. Which wasn’t much. He wasn’t right about it all, of course not.
The guy didn’t know anything about her, really. He didn’t know shit. No creepy-eyed old man in bad need of a toupee could know anything about Faith unless she spelled it out to him herself.
But whatever she told herself, no matter how fiercely she denied it, the deepest part of Faith’s being knew that he had. Somehow, Dr. Hannibal Lecter had looked inside of her, saw past all the careful shields and masks and concealments, the heavy armor she had long ago set in place to keep others from even touching any part of her life or past that mattered. And in less than an hours’ time- hell, probably less than five minutes’ time- he had punched through it all, smearing his wrinkled hands into everything that she had so long succeeded in keeping untouched. He had looked at Faith and summed up her person, as she herself could not have, named her to be exactly what she hated and feared that she was..and she knew as well that he was not entirely wrong. Maybe, he was even fully, completely right.
And that shook Faith to her core.
He had looked at her with those terrible unblinking eyes that seemed to penetrate to her very skin, her very core, and he had spoken of her mother, her Watcher, her mother’s lovers…he knew the true story behind the tattoo on her arm, of the reason she had come to Sunnydale…
And he knew about Buffy.
“Tell me, Faith…do you still carry the scar?”
No one had ever seen Faith so clearly, not even Angel, with all of his efforts to help her, to save her. Faith knew that Dr. Lecter’s motives for his looking were not clearly as noble. He would not save her…and Faith would not be surprised if his intent was to destroy her. To damn her.
She didn’t want to back down from him. She didn’t want to ever again show that he had affected her, that he had gotten to her, that a single word he said could hurt her in any way. She didn’t want to think that he was right, that she was needy and childish, frightened and insecure…she didn’t want to think that she was weak, that she was too intimidated by what the albino-looking bastard might say to ever sit across from him again. But most of all, she didn’t want HIM to think those things.
Still, when the month’s respite was up and the day came where Faith was to have session with the man again, she did not sleep the night before, her insides twisting with anticipation of what was to come. And as the early hours of the day stretched on, eventually giving way to afternoon, she found herself to be restless, unable to sit still, even as she remained quiet; she could feel cold sweat slowly trickling down her spine, and as disgusted with herself and her actions as she was, she could not shake her dread.
She told herself bracingly that she was prepared for Lecter now, ready for anything he might throw her way. She knew his game now, and she could deflect it, or at the very least refuse to show it affected her. She wouldn’t let it affect her. She was in control of herself and whatever was going to happen between them, not him. She could hold her own, maybe even figure out how to throw him off balance this time around. And anyway, if it was really that bad, it wasn’t like she had to answer him. If she wanted to she could sit there the whole time and not say a word. What could he do with her then? In fact, that was probably the best thing for her to do. How much satisfaction could he get out of her if she sat there like a lump on a log and just didn’t answer? Not much.
Faith told herself that the last time had been a fluke, and she could almost convince herself that the man was nothing more than an old geezer, probably a closet gay, who was no different from the other shrinks she had sent packing except for a serious need for Vitamin D and a pair of dark glasses to hide his weird eyes. Almost.
But not quite. Not when she sometimes shivered in the middle of the night, sitting up fast, positive that those eyes were watching her…not when she could still hear his voice, hissing in an intense whisper, whenever it was too still and quiet in her surroundings.
“Needy child…scared little girl…weak…”
Faith had been on her best behavior in the prison ward after her session with Lecter, trying as she had never bothered to before to obey without sarcasms or dawdling with whatever they asked of her. The other prisoners and guards, especially her old pal Larry, had been suspicious of this sudden turnabout, watching her even more closely than usual to attempt to intercept any plots she might be setting up for. Larry had said aloud more than once, and with an undercurrent of true relief in his voice, that Dr. Hannibal Lecter must be a modern day Jesus miracle worker if one hour with him would suddenly give Faith an entire personality transplant, and that they ought to have him go lay his hands on all the inmates if that was the results they would get.
Faith’s reason for this switch in behavior had nothing to do with Lecter and anything he had said to her, of course, or at least not directly. She had hoped that if she decided to become a model prisoner, the guards and other officials would report that she was doing much better, becoming “cured” of whatever was “wrong” with her to make her commit crimes all on her own. She had hoped that they would decide that she didn’t need Lecter to have any more sessions with her, that she was more than fine, mentally, all on her own, thanks.
No such luck, of course.
They had said something, when Faith asked why she needed to see a shrink when all her trials and convictions were over, about a possible retrial or early release date, a possibility of parole. Never mind that Faith did not want parole or a retrial and told them so. Never mind that she was here in prison now, by her own hands, because she wanted to be. Evidently Lecter had said something to the contrary, something that made them think such happenings were strong possibilities in Faith’s case, and her words were infinitely less influential than his.
The month was up, and nothing Faith did, said, or wanted was going to change it, and when it came down to it, it was something she wanted and needed to do anyway. She was going to be head-shrinked again…she was going to once more sit across from Dr. Hannibal Lecter and listen as he spoke to her in his soft, spidery voice, once again attempting to uncover all she wanted to remain deeply buried.