by Jane Shadow
Rating: R but it will get better I promise!
They all called me Chewie. I thought that it would wear off after a little while, but after one of the guards said it, the stupid nick-name stuck with me. I couldn't shake it no matter what I did in the pen. My attempts to earn some other title only seemed to encourage them, and I remained `Chewie' for the near three years that I was incarcerated.
On the way back to Sunnydale, Willow called me `Faith' and I almost turned around to see who she was talking to. It felt so strange to hear my own name after all that time, and I opened my mouth to correct her before stopping myself. I'm so glad I didn't slip and give her that fucking nick-name, because then she would have asked why I was called that, and then Buffy would have found out, and then I would have been the grateful receiver of endless ridicule while all that apocalyptic stuff was going on. You know... "It's the apocalypse, Chewie!" or "Don't you know anything about Uber-Vamps, Chewie?" or "I should snap your little neck for trying to strangle Xander and having sex with my boyfriend while you were in my body and for torturing that Wesley watcher idiot, Chewie!"
Although on second thought, it seems like having a stupid nick-name makes tense, emotional confrontation much less personal. I'm not even sure what got me thinking about prison again; maybe it was that work crew that we drove past on our way to the coffee shop today. Twelve men sweating away in the sun under their fluorescent orange jumpsuits and "Property of Cuyahoga County" in thick black ink across their backs. Yet I know how hard they must have tried just to be out there swinging a hammer or an ax because that's the only thing there is to work for once you're inside. Well that and trying to find a way out. I didn't want a way out, I just wanted to do my time and be punished severely for what I had done, until my life was truly worth nothing and I could somehow feel that the pain I received was equal to the great pain I had caused. I let the girls slam me into the walls and break my ribs against doorknobs and countertops. I let the guards beat me with nightsticks and rape me any way they wanted. I let a dark-skinned man with a thick Southern accent and olive slacks throw me into the electric fence when I easily could have broken that Alabama drawl right out of his jawbone with one clean uppercut. Instead I spent six days in the infirmary drifting in and out of consciousness; overhearing voices mumble about how I had just laid there on the fence, not even trying to move away, and it fried me so good that they weren't sure how I was managing to heal at all. The pain was unbearable, but I lamented in it with the mindset that it was my only mortal redemption: to live in constant pain until I died. Somewhere in those six days I came to believe that I was back in Sunnydale under a coma, sharing dreams with Buffy and telling her how to stop the ascension. I told myself that if I just stayed in the coma this time and didn't wake up, then I wouldn't switch bodies with her and I wouldn't try to hurt Wesley or end up in prison, so I forced myself to stay under somehow. Make this `Faith's Near-Death Experience #203', eh?
By the time they revived me I was a little twitchy and I bit my fingernails down to ugly stubs. I don't remember much more except that I spent a week in my cell, sitting on the gray cement floor and listening to myself hum random songs while rocking back and forth. Borderline psycho I guess. But I did a lot of thinking and that's when I decided that I wasn't going to keep on trying to let myself be killed or suffer ridiculously, but I was going to survive until my time had been served. Strangely enough, it worked. I didn't break any faces and no one broke mine either... I know, it's a non-traditional way to go through prison, right? But I picked myself up off the floor one morning and walked into the mess hall like I was going into a Denny's for breakfast and coffee. A few people tried to push me into the counters but I calmly stepped out of the way. Ok so maybe I used a little bit of my slayer ability to maneuver but I didn't break anyone's bones. That was when a loud-mouthed redhead noticed my nails and asked casually if I had taken a belt-sander to them or if it was just a side effect from being in the electric chair. I guess it was kind of ironic that I was serving for murder and had gotten the hell zapped out of me, or maybe that would be more like poetic justice, who knows. I ignored her that time, but other people had taken notice of it and the Chewie nick-name started coming around later on in the day when I gnawed on the filter of a cigarette that had long since stopped smoking without even realizing I was doing it. After that it was sunflower seeds that I stole from a chubby blonde chic while she was in the shower. I don't know how she had gotten them, but I was the one that found them after she left them on a bench under her shirt and I sat on them. They kept me happy for two weeks, which was the longest that I could manage to make them last, and if anyone tried to take them from me, I'd pick them up by the belt and throw them somewhere or plain and simple hit them real hard. I loved those salty little fuckers to death because they gave me something comforting to do even in the worst times of the day, kind of an absent-minded preoccupation that offered small rewards. Plus I liked walking around the prison yard and seeing the shells, knowing that I was the one who had spit them out there and left my feeble contribution. Seeds or cigarettes - one or the other, but I always had something in my mouth. So I asked my supplier (Freckles) to pick up some more seeds for me and maybe a few sticks of gum so I'd have something to keep me busy at night. She just gave me a wide shit-eating grin.
"I know something that would love to keep you busy at night - her name is Paige and she practically cries every time you go to the infirmary." Freckles had said with a wicked laugh. If they wouldn't stop calling me Chewie then at least they could have let up about the pathetic obsession that Paige had for me, but no, each matter continued on at full speed ahead each and every day. That's the thing about prison; there's never anything new to talk about. "Yeah fuck you too, just get me my gum." I replied with a shit-eating grin of my own.
"Gum, sunflower seeds and cigarettes? You wonder why they call you Chewie? That's the dumbest fucking thing I've ever heard from you, it's like bad joke. But I'm telling you that if you don't get over this oral fixation of yours then you will be flat broke in a damn hurry." Freckles shook her head and walked off. The conversation had clearly ended and it left me to wonder about just what an oral fixation was. It sounded like something I had heard my dentist saying at one time, or maybe it had been a doctor. Of course I hadn't heard the term `oral sex' in quite some time since it was long replaced with other, more fashionable and "prison-friendly" expressions so I didn't put two and two together where that was concerned. And going to the friendly neighborhood prison library was far too risky in matters of my image and attitude being at stake; so I continued to wonder just what she had meant while waiting impatiently for more seeds to arrive.
Ah prison... such great memories. Fuck I wish I could forget it all. After I got back to Sunnydale I still had the same bad habits. Smoking, gum, sunflower seeds, and now a little bit of chewing tobacco but I tried to stay away from it when at all possible because I knew it would rot my teeth clean out. Of course in the rare event that I am a slayer who lives to be fifty, I would like to be a fifty year old slayer with a shiny set of pearly whites. But that and the cigarettes helped me to calm down and stay away from slipping back into that belief that I needed to be punished for every little thing I had wrong from the get-go. Hell, I had even gotten pathetic enough to start feeling guilty for the time I asked Buffy to go to homecoming dance with me for some fucked-up reason. But as long as I kept myself busy, no feelings overwhelmed me and I had time to concentrate on the really important matters in life - like who that tight little potential was that would tramp herself through the house in pants so tight they would be illegal in Utah. (Side note: she ended up going for Red, go figure).
One night I was in the kitchen talking to Buffy (a normal thing for two normal girls, an awkward thing for us), and she made a comment about how I always had something in my mouth since I had gotten back from prison. I tried not to give her the deadly eyebrows of flirtation, but I couldn't help it... I mean how do you pass it up when someone just outright says that you always have something in your mouth?
Anyway, she blushed. "Oh please, Faith, that is so not what I meant." I could tell she was trying to look disgusted but a smile played off the corners of her lips despite her.
"Ok then, what DID you mean exactly?" I asked casually.
"Well I meant what I said but not the way you thought I meant it when I said it. You are just always chewing on something or eating, I just thought it was kind of funny that you came out of prison with an oral fixation... ugh... maybe I should just stop talking altogether." Then Buffy got this cute little sour look on her face that always means she's having a gross mental image that she wants to stay away from. It's funny how I know all of her little looks so well.That was the last time that she mentioned it in Sunnydale, and of course after that I fucked Robin, we beat the apocalypse, and took a long-ass road trip across the country to Ohio. Not a lot of free time in there to sit around and tell pity-party stories about waking up unconscious in the prison yard with rocks in my skull and realizing that my slayer healing was counter-productive, with flesh sealed completely over the foreign objects as if they belonged in my head. Ok so that only happened once, but it was a bitch to re-cut my head in three places to remove the bastards. If I had the chance, I would have shown it all to her and begged her to see me as the girl who went through all of that simply to redeem herself, and no longer as a slayer who just breezed her way through prison and showed up on the doorstep like a stray dog no one wants. But I have too much pride to lay my experiences down like that, I can't just open up a conversation with "So Buffy, want to hear about the time that I sliced open my head with a ballpoint pen to get the rocks out of my skull? Cause I did it all for you and your Scoobies, baby." It just doesn't work that way. So all the things I put myself through? Yeah maybe it helped to make me a little less evil, but I was already there. What I really wanted was for them to forgive me, but my ridiculous amount of self-loathing won't guarantee that. Shit, maybe I have gotten the most that I could ever possibly get as far as their trust and respect goes, even though I don't feel that it's truly fair, and that thought makes me feel like running away from all their bullshit. After all, I heard about what Red did, going crazy with her black magic and trying to destroy the world. The fucking WORLD. And they just took her back with hugs and kisses, no need to even go on worrying about it once she said she was sorry and that it had been out of a severe traumatic experience. Yeah I had one of those too. I killed a man, just like she did, and though I hate to make excuses, I never would have turned against Buffy if I didn't feel like there was nowhere my life could go but in a downward spiral. So where's my forgiveness? Where are my hugs and kisses? And damn, I want that hot little potential, too!