A/N: Given my recent bouts of Raphael-love, I figured I'd wind up writing something broody for him eventually. XD I coined the title from Shakespeare's Macbeth, though I forget exactly where.

Disclaimer: Waffy and Angel Sanctuary, Kaori Yuki's. Ficcy, mine. Okay.


Poor Player

Sincerity's not your strong suit; you've never quite gotten that trick down pat. You can't even remember the last time you meant a soliloquy, no matter how perfectly you've mastered the other tricks of the trade.

Lucky fool that you are, though, you don't have to. Somehow, it's never mattered to anybody who's ever met you, a trivial thing like that. You're much too easy to adore; all honey and fluttering pulses and glitter when you walk. When the spotlights are out, burning nowhere but behind your eyelids, you do some of the best acting ever seen, just for an audience of one. When the sweat dries and the chill creeps in, believing becomes easy.

If nothing else, then, you're quite an accomplished actor. You get all sorts of whatnot thrown at your feet like roses—lovely little toys, glass hearts. They litter the stage before the curtain has even fallen, and by now you've held so many of those damnable hearts in your hands that you've become more familiar with that kind of fragility than you'd really like to be. Beautiful things aren't of any use when they're broken. Even beautiful playthings.

Maybe that's what's made you so brilliant at handling women like they're glass figurines, weaving the seamless, silken web that will cradle them when they find out they shouldn't try to stretch across a lifetime what is meant for only a night, or a fortnight. You're certainly startled sometimes at how easy it is to put into this or that pretty head that when you say there are things you'll always remember—a sexy pair of eyes, a whiff of exotic perfume that you've never encountered before, a particular kiss that doesn't give or take too much, perhaps—you actually mean it a little. No matter how little, that sort of thing delights them so much it's almost ridiculous.

And it does get rather ridiculous, you think, after a while. So ridiculous it would have broken your heart long ago, had you been able to find it in the slough. Fortunately or unfortunately, people like you don't bother with things like sincerity, like looking for their own hearts instead of peeling layers off of everyone else's.

iii

Even when you're not acting, you condition yourself to hold an actor's pose, move with an actor's grace. If you stand a certain way, it'll cover up the chinks in the armor that you're not sure how to go about mending, and at least hide those from the spectators' eyes.

It's only in the mirror that you notice some patches are already beginning to tear, with the early sunlight streaming through the window not yet bright enough to hurt. These you retailor as best you can, with a sweep of a comb through your hair just so, eyes watching ocean-deep eyes so casually it borders on carelessness. And it's just as easy to be careless as it is to pretend you care at all.

When you're careless, you don't have to see the time-stains that spread across the gold in a certain light, nor mind that the waves behind the deceptive blue are erratic, sometimes even stormy, bleeding a million shining rivulets into the sand.

It's much easier to be careless, you reason to your reflection—which seems to have developed a slightly reproachful expression in the glass, though you can't imagine why your face would twist so without your command—when you know you could end up caring too much, in the end. What you hate sometimes is that you don't even have to think about it anymore.

It's that easy.

Fin