Whereto Begin and End?
Where to begin?
I'm not sure how this works.
No...it's not that simple, never is I suppose.
It's difficult to put into words...challenging to distil my living experience into a snack-sized chronicle for you to consume. The flavor is there but the meaning is lost.
Oh well, I shall endeavor to entertain you.
There were moments...instances of distraction where I fought my desires. Bundled them up and tucked them deeply into my psyche, forever hidden from the light of revelation. After all these were uninvited feelings, unwelcome impulses that were frowned upon by both the Council of Watchers and myself. But it wasn't enough to prevent that fateful moment, that glimpse of weakness that exposed my heart and subjected me to his wrath...the only adversary I knew I could never overcome; the only figure in my Slayer's life that I was helpless to protect her from...Hank Summers, Buffy's father.
The first recollection I have of Hank Summers becoming an issue was shortly after I met Buffy. There was an unpleasant occurrence of nightmares coming true due to an unfortunate young boy who ended up in a hospital from injuries sustained from his baseball coach. Our reality was being altered to represent the deepest fears of the inhabitants of Sunnydale, including the immediate circle of friends my newly acquired Slayer had formed.
Acquired...not the best choice of words, for it was she who had me...had my heart since I....
The bond you see is undeniably potent, binding the Watcher to the Slayer in unification echoed throughout the ages.
Forgive me. It is still so fresh in my mind that I find myself wanting...no needing to explain. It will come later; now let us go back to the story at hand...
Every one of us in the immediate of Buffy's social group had nightmares that seemed to be coming to fruition, but it was Buffy's nightmares that troubled me most. The visions Buffy had were disquieting to say the least.
I understood that Buffy's mother had died unexpectedly due to problems symptomatic of complications from major surgery for her tumor shortly before the Summers moved to Sunnydale. An apparition claiming to be her mother told Buffy that her father would leave her. I took it upon myself to talk to Mr. Summers and try to see if there was any truth to Buffy's vision. He wasn't very forthcoming, telling me it was no business of mine and questioning my involvement with his daughters.
I realized it was rather odd to have a librarian asking personal questions in regards to a student but I got a sense that Mr. Summers was hiding something. Buffy excused his behavior as an overly protective father and I failed to see how his unprovoked suspicion of my intentions harbored any real danger towards Buffy. Be that as it may...I had gotten my first taste of Hank Summers. By the second visit, I'd had my fill of him.
I almost failed to mention that I'd met Buffy's younger sister at that time, Dawn. Well, I'm unsure of the accuracy of my accounts due to the unusual circumstances of her...shall we say arrival. For some reason, Dawn took a liking to me...god knows why. She would come to the library after school and loiter around my office, keeping a lookout for Buffy. I think there was a bit of a rivalry between the sisters for the focus of my attention. I thought it was charming; Mr. Summers did not and began to pick up the girls immediately after school. This made training difficult.
There was a delicate balance of training, education, patrolling, and socializing that Buffy and I worked out early on. Summers was causing a rift in our schedule and Buffy felt powerless to question her father. Luckily Dawn was my willing accomplice in crime when it came to getting Buffy away from her father's watchful eyes and within view of mine. She was exceptionally good at diverting Mr. Summers attentions to her while Buffy snuck out to patrol. Though I disliked deceiving the man, it was my duty to help the Slayer perform hers.
The arrangement seemed sound until the situation changed for the worse and valued allies became unexpected enemies. It was a dark time...for all who were involved. I don't wish to explore deeper into the details but the brutal hands of a dangerous vampire shattered what little scrap of personal life I had attempted to create.
After confronting the very same vampire one evening, Buffy collapsed in the field. Luckily for me, she at least had her friends with her that night. I was...um, unavailable at the moment. Dealing with the ramifications of the unfortunate conclusion of Buffy's relationship to ...um, sorry...I digress.
Needless to say, as soon as I became aware of Buffy's sickened condition I hurried to the hospital where the gang had taken her. I was met by a very irate Hank Summers who seemed more upset at being taken away from his work than for his daughter's welfare. He questioned why someone from the Sunnydale High School faculty seemed to take such an interest in his daughter. After reassuring him I was only a concerned friend and mentor, Mr. Summers warned me to stay away from Buffy. I seem to remember him saying something completely inappropriate. Something regarding my relationship with Jen...Ms. Calendar and how I should have limited myself to dating faculty. That I wouldn't be satisfied until I'd sacked a cheerleader and he didn't care as long as it wasn't Buffy. I remember trying to excuse the off-color comment as the rash words of an overly protective father but found my patience's strained to its end. Summers stunned me...stating that the last thing he needed to deal with was a typical pregnant bimbo teenager with a tendency for running up bills.
Regardless, I didn't want to push the matter. Buffy was seriously ill and suffering from some strange phobia while in the hospital. I wanted to stay by her side but knew my place was at the library, researching. It was my job...my duty, and I hated myself for it.
I've never enjoyed my work in Sunnydale; it was a burden on my soul. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't trade my time with Buffy for anything but I've so messed it up ...wasted it.
I was meant to be a Watcher; I was raised to believe it was my calling, as Slaying was to Buffy. Only Buffy is a remarkable Slayer with skill and talent I could only dream of, while I...I am unworthy of such an apprentice.
Listen to me...wallowing in self-pity. I apologize; it usually takes a couple drinks to loosen my tongue. You seem to draw it out in me...quite an effective listener and since I don't see any bartenders in this facility, I'll continue...
The summer Buffy ran away was one of the most difficult for me. You see her father had gone away on a business trip to Los Angeles, leaving her with free reign of the house. Buffy faced a choice no person should ever have to make that trying week, sending the vamp...the m-man she...she l-loved to a hell dimension. And of course, when Buffy needed her father most Summers was gone, yet again choosing his career over parental responsibility.
I hadn't helped the situation much, allowing myself to be captured...tortured. But it was nothing compared to the pain Buffy suffered from her sacrifice. I understand this now of course, but failed to see it then...failed her. I was too absorbed in my own grief to deal with Buffy's torment. With no one to turn to, she ran...escaped to Los Angelus in search of her father. She didn't find him.
Willow and Xander shared the responsibility of caring for Dawn as I searched the country for Buffy. I didn't get too far with my limited funds. The Council only approved of expenses considered fruitful in the search for the Slayer so I quickly exhausted my own resources, both fiscal and emotional.
Well, she returned of course. Returned to a house occupied only by her confused younger sister. Hank was still absent and never even knew she'd been gone.
When Buffy showed up on my doorstep, it was a bittersweet reunion. I wanted to take her into my arms, tell her how I'd worried about her but it would have revealed too much. The Council was already suspicious of my actions and I was confused about the nature of my feelings toward my charge. Buffy had a father yet I wanted so badly to be there for her more than I already was...to be more than a mentor. She had friends, teachers, family...I didn't know where I fit in or if there was truly a place in her life for me. An internal struggle with my emotions commenced and I would soon find out the hazards of concealing those emotions with asinine notions of duty and responsibility.
Hank Summers was the epitome of the absentee father from that point on. He would disappear for weeks at a time, leaving Buffy to raise Dawn. Never showing any interest in either of his daughters except to receive the occasional praises they bestowed upon him when he'd appear around the holidays with gifts collected from various hotels and restaurants he'd frequent on his travels. They were petty trinkets of forged affection but I knew it was all Buffy and Dawn could get from the man and they loved him unconditionally. He could do no wrong.
Buffy deserved so much better. She deserved to be a student, a child capable of the whimsy so appropriate of that age. Then again she never was a child, not as I knew her. She was required to mature beyond her years and face unspeakable evils masked behind the facade of a teenage girl yet be worldly in her knowledge of the darker side of both man and beast. The Council saw her as a tool. Her father saw her as a burden. Dawn saw her as a mother. I saw her as a hero. We were all wrong...she was a young woman, filled with all the passion and uncertainty adulthood thrusts upon a young person. Her friends knew this, if only I'd listened.
Dear lord, our time is up already?
Well I must admit, court ordered treatment aside...I think our little discussions could be amusing to me at least. I hope you aren't too bored by all this. Who knows, with a bit of guidance perhaps my next parole hearing won't be as much a disaster as my first.
See you same time next week...barring any end of the world catastrophe that is.