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Playing the Part

The stereo plays classic rock at quiet decibels. It seems like a sacrilege, but this is who he is now. He is the patriarch, he is the one who answers the door and holds crying, emotional girls as they tell their tales of abandonment and one night stands. He never asks for details they don't willingly share, never steps beyond the role of father assigned to him. Never dares break a smile at their titillating stories or innuendo. He simply wipes his glasses of the steam only he sees and rolls his eyes. The children take the gesture to mean he is disgusted, and maybe he is. Disgusted that they take him for some naïve elder statesman who remembers nothing of youthful fire.

He held fire in his hands, both literal and figurative, long before any of them were born. He housed a demon and called for a dozen others, bearing powers so powerful he had to release them to the universe or die under their weight. He had amours with beautiful women, beautiful men, passions deep and all consuming, and yet in the grand scheme, they all seem so tepid now. Ice on his heart compared to the blazing love he holds for the Slayer. The need to protect her like her shiftless father should have. Shelter her from all he can, hold her back from that which he can't.

Someday he will bury her, maybe all of them, and he wonders if he won't throw himself into the fire when that day finally comes. Give himself back to powers he abandoned when he took the Watcher's Oath. His oath is to her now, to his merry little band of witches and demons, slayers and hangers on. He wears that promise like a uniform, dressing the part, playing the patsy and hapless foil to their jokes.

And yet the need to turn the volume up and hear the music as it was meant to be still moves him to turn the dial ever so slightly, just far enough that a glimmer of his former life stares back at him from the mirror's silver depths.