snickfic asked: Ooh, I want to hear about the Faith/Giles fic. You know the one - Cat o' Nine Tails, which I almost didn't read because I was sure it'd be BDSM but which instead had all that yummy hurty post-series h/c.
One problem that I had, among many, with S7 was that Whedon & Co. never utilized the history that Buffy had with the First from S3. The Bringers are what make her realize who she’s dealing with, but the First never appears as Jenny and, from what we gather, doesn’t try and approach Giles to probe him for weaknesses. In this fic I wanted to take the idea that Giles, as the authority and father figure to Buffy, was viewed as an excellent pawn for manipulation. The fresh doubt that the First as Jenny generates in Giles is a hard blow to his character and cripples the early stages of building the Council after the battle is over. The First may have been defeated, but it definitely left its mark. After his sabotage and unwitting compromise of Buffy’s safety, as well as the Potentials, his doubt in himself not only stymies their future, but the success of the group as the Scooby’s backpedal on their allegiance to him.
I chose Faith as the character to try to shore him up because of her unique history with Watchers. Her determination not to see him fail stemmed directly from her own failures with Wesley. As much as Buffy and Faith are alike, we never really see Buffy dedicate herself to Giles and really understand the choices he had to make as an adult. She’s his world, but he’s not hers, and I think Faith would be in a unique position to have a lot of empathy with him. She’s not always made good choices either, and that moral ambiguity has put them on a level playing field.
And I’m really glad you brought up the title. I like clever word plays and this one, of course, has connotations about BDSM, but the cat o’nine tails was also used as a weapon for severe physical punishment in the Royal Navy and Army. Giles’ own doubt is this multi-pronged attack on himself, one of self-loathing that we’ve never seen before. Penalties of hundreds of lashes were imposed for the gravest offenses, including sedition and mutiny, which Giles inadvertently commits. The weapon also inflicts parallel wounds, which was supposed to loosely be a metaphor for Giles and Faith’s parallel journey together of acceptance of self and reintegration to the mission they were born to do.