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Self Improvement

Self ImprovementFaith leaned against the balcony railing, face turned up to the sky to let the light drizzle patter against her eyelids. The rain was cool on her skin and she sighed, enjoying the sensation but knowing it wouldn't last long. Once the rain stopped, the day's heat would turn into an oppressive humidity, lying over the city like a heavy, damp blanket.

A light breeze picked up, bringing with it the rustle of leaves and the unexpected sound of a space battle. Admittedly, the sounds of battle were echoing, slightly tinny and seemed to involve extremely small aliens with very cheap weapons.

It caused Faith a moment of confusion before she realised that her neighbour Peter, an arcade nut who collected and restored pinball and gaming machines, must be working on his latest acquisition. Smiling to herself, Faith shook her head. She walked past Peter's place daily and quite often saw him working away on his machines, but it was such an out of place noise for the area that it took a second to identify it.

The wind changed and Peter's electronic mayhem faded out, replaced by the soothing music drifting out of Papa Joe's. The establishment had no actual name, just a prominent street number by the door. This minor omission served to confuse many a stranger who mistook it for a brothel; a mistake that was soon realised when the waitress they'd propositioned hit them.

A frequent visitor to Papa Joe's, Faith enjoyed the beer, the ambience and the music, and was known well enough that she could relax without getting hit on every five minutes. Papa Joe treated the regulars like family and flirted shameless with all the women. It was a running joke, as it was plain to see he was still completely besotted with the woman he'd been married to for thirty odd years.

Music wasn't what she needed at the moment. She needed to think.

Faith chuckled as she caught herself in the lie. There was always time for music and flirting with friends. Just as there was always time for drinking way too much alcohol and grinding up against pretty boys on the dance floor.

It would have to wait until she'd taken the chance to sort through the mess of her love life; the latest chapter of which had been blinking on her answering machine when she'd come home.

She was still shaking vampire dust out of her hair when she'd hit the button on her machine. Playing the message had made her want to put her fist through the wall. She restrained herself, the thought of costly repairs and bond forfeiture served as quite the behaviour modifiers, and took it out on her training equipment instead.

The essence of the message was that Darryn was sick of Faith breaking their dates. She'd been as up front with him as possible, considering he was a civilian, and explained that she kept irregular hours and was always on call. But the novelty of dating a night owl had soon worn off. Darryn just didn't get that not everyone worked a nine-to-five gig.

This was just the last is a series of unsuccessful romances. Before Darryn there was Bernd. He'd seemed all charm and delight until he tried telling Faith how she should behave with his fists. Last she heard he was still in traction and, none the wiser for the pasting he'd received, had transferred his abuse to the nurses. It seemed he'd come very close to suffering a not quite accidental overdose on more than one occasion.

Stephen was fun, but his first love would always be surfing. Chet had been a laugh and, if only he hadn't tried to alphabetise her entire apartment, he might have been a keeper. Carlos was still hung up on his last girlfriend; Warrick was a mother's boy; and the less said about Johnny, the better.

The rain got a little heavier. Not enough to warrant seeking shelter, but it may actually wet the ground rather than drying on impact. It helped clear Faith's head.

While the excitement of one night stands was always a turn on, she'd discovered that the whole relationship thing had its own charms. Learning someone's body, letting them learn yours, that was of the good.

Unfortunately, it came with the downsides of discovering they loved the Bee Gees or left little boomerangs of toenail clippings all over the house. Faith knew some of these eccentricities she could learn to live with, perhaps the Bee Gees was a bit much to ask of anyone, but she was yet to find someone who was worth the effort.

Yet for all the things that driven them apart, she gained something from every one of her failed relationships. Faith had learned that while she may not understand another person's musical taste, it was never worth fighting over. She seen the sublime beauty of a Winter's sunrise and mastered the art of making a decent omelette from next to nothing. Sometimes she just gained a forgotten shirt or, the case of Bernd, the delicious pleasure of their blood on her knuckles.

Faith had never thought she would be the one to look on the bright side of life, but had to admit she was a better woman for having known them all. She laughed, the sound bright and clear over the rain and looked down the road where light and music was spilling out of the bar.

Spending the evening at Papa Joe's was exactly what she needed. Cold beer, great music and friendly faces would do her the world of good. There may even be someone new at the bar and at least they'd have the same taste in music for a change. Stranger things had happened.


dknightshade's lyrical_fic master list — outta me, onto you by ani difranco: one of these days, you're going to push too hard, we'll go on like we've always done, 'til you go to far

Many thanks to the luscious moonbeamsfanfic for volunteering as beta.

Winner of the Round Four Lie To Me Loner Side of Sunnydale Award

Comments

( 16 howls — talk to the wolf )
(Deleted comment)
redwolf
17th Mar, 2005 21:53 (UTC)
Thanks. I like giving Faith a chance to grow outside the cicrle o the Scoobies.
tinpanalley
17th Mar, 2005 13:39 (UTC)

Ooh, I liked this! I loved the run-through of all of her conquests, each of them unique in their own way. But, of course, most importantly, that Faith is maturing and has become open to the idea of a relationship! It really shows how far she's come!
redwolf
17th Mar, 2005 21:54 (UTC)
It really shows how far she's come!

Until she spots the next hot guy at the local bar. But then she may not boot him out of bed in the morning either.
fannishnej
17th Mar, 2005 13:57 (UTC)
A wonderful story about Faith, growing up.

Chet had been a laugh and, if only he hadn't tried to alphabetize her entire apartment, he might have been a keeper.


I liked this one. I can just picture Faith coming home to find that he's re-organized her music collection, and her closet, and her weapons chest; and not dealing well.
redwolf
17th Mar, 2005 21:57 (UTC)
I don't think anyone deals well with an obsessive-compulsive personality organising their life. Certainly not when you're in a somewhat new relationship. That's the kind of thing you need to work up to, or find someone who doesn't mind so much. ::ignore my shelves of DVDs::

Nice to hear you enjoyed.
pheral
17th Mar, 2005 17:49 (UTC)
That's wonderful, i love the way you pack a history into one little moment. I rather love Faith anyway, but this makes me want to go and dig out the relevant episodes...
redwolf
17th Mar, 2005 21:58 (UTC)
Faith was so much the better Slayer than Buffy, who was just another whiny Valley girl without her friends. Faith knew the deal and lived it.
pheral
18th Mar, 2005 14:55 (UTC)
True, but she wouldn't have made a good tv show lead, Buffy was deinitely the better lead for the show, the cheerleader part of character was what made her appealing i guess - perhaps because taking somebody who could potentially be the shallow quotient of a year-group and making them face a very unshallow life brings conflict and interest to the verse. While the show with Faith would still have gone a good distance, i guess it wouldn't have been as unique. Plus, as with alot of support characters - their interest can start to crumble as soon as they are given centre screen. It wouldn've been interesting to see how she would have fared.

Can you tell i am at work and would talk about anything at length right now? I think my coworkers about to cough up a lung... that'll be entertaining... >:D
debxena
17th Mar, 2005 18:15 (UTC)
Gorgeous, and appropriate for St Paddy's Day as well (I'm going to pretend that Papa Joe is Irish). Some amazing metaphor as well: left little boomerangs of toenail clippings).

*applauds*
redwolf
17th Mar, 2005 22:01 (UTC)
I wanted to add more of a set identity of Papa Joe, but it didn't work and felt it best to leave him up to the reader in the end.

I saw him as an older black guy running a Blues bar, but I quite enjoy you're vision of an Irish rogue and love that the bar may be a traditional Irish pub full of familiar faces and music rather than a hideous theme bar.

Thanks muchly.
(Deleted comment)
redwolf
18th Mar, 2005 01:35 (UTC)
Thank you!
myfeetshowit
18th Mar, 2005 02:58 (UTC)
I always felt Faith had a lot more potential (God! Is that word ever going to be usable again?) then she was allowed in the show.

Lovely St. Paddy's day story.
redwolf
18th Mar, 2005 03:20 (UTC)
Most of the sub characters had more potential than they had a chance to show, but the writers overstretched themselves with such a ridiculously large cast, and a smaller pool of good writers to hacks, that they just got swallowed up in the final season.

Lovely St. Paddy's day story.

Only by virtue of differing time zones. ::grin::
chessie_reeves
20th Mar, 2005 06:24 (UTC)
It's great to see Faith maturing—she seems to be more introspective. I liked reading about her thoughts on various subjects.
redwolf
20th Mar, 2005 06:49 (UTC)
Thanks. She seemed a fit for the challenge and I liked the idea of moving her outside her usual world.
( 16 howls — talk to the wolf )