Title: Broken Lives

Author: Magrat 70

Rating: T for violence

Disclaimer: Not mine or a blonde witch would never have been shot by a magic bullet.

Author's notes: Promised myself I wouldn't start another story, and certainly not this one until I finished off previous stuff, but bad stuff happens. First wholly BTVS story that I have written in well over 10 years. Inspired a little by Kinetic-kid's New Friends and Old Lovers but only in so much as a different way to look at Tara's mom who becomes Faith's watcher and we know what happens to her. Set during Season 3, slightly AU in that Faith is picked up as a potential much younger and Tara's mom goes back to being a watcher after an abusive marriage, when her husband turns his attention to Tara, too. Faith gets the chance for some but not all the sting being taken out of her anger. She will at least know what love is and value herself more.

To begin with anyway the pairings will canon for Season 3 except there will be no Buffy/ Angel, the reason for that will become obvious. There will be femslash and yes I am being purposefully vague because of plot points.

Je suis Charlie

Broken Lives prologue.

"Faith, take Tara and get out now!" Rhiannon Maclay cried as Kakistos's minions held her firm, cursing that they had been caught in a sneak attack by the master vampire, she had depleted her store of magic, trying to protect Tara and Faith. The last thing she wanted was her daughter see her destroyed. She trusted her slayer and her daughter to care for one another until they got help.

Faith felt some satisfaction by throwing her knife and burying it in the ancient vampire's face.

"Your watcher will suffer for that bitch; I will rip her apart bit by bit and then come for you and her daughter. You're all dead!" the vampire screamed; the next thing he did was to take the knife and jam it back through Rhiannon's gentle features, making the watcher scream.

"Mom!" Tara screamed, making a fireball and throwing it at the vampires, dusting a few in the outer edges, the flames expanding into an explosion with the emotions surging through the young witch.

"Faith, go to Rupert," Rhiannon wheezed out in pain, making her voice stronger for her beloved girls. "Now! Both of you, live for me."

With tears streaming down Faith's face, she yanked Tara's hand, hating that she was leaving the first person that had ever shown her love, but needing to protect the second.

Faith had already pocketed the car keys that Rhiannon had thrown her earlier. She fumbled with them in the lock before throwing Tara across the other side of the car, starting the car and pulling the blonde back in to nestle against her body, her arm wrapped around shoulders, not giving a shit about the discomfort or that they could be pulled over by the police, just needing the comfort of knowing that Tara, at least, was still warm and alive. When she had driven a good fifty miles out of Boston and deemed it safe, Faith pulled over and threw her guts up at the side of the road, Tara's hand rubbing softly against her back.

"I'm sorry T-bear, I should have been able to save her. I'm the slayer for fucks sake. Not supposed to run like a pussy. God you must fucking hate me, but I promise he will fucking die before he gets near you."

"Faith, you know what m-mom s-said, first rule of being a slayer..."

"Stay alive," Faith finished, wincing at hearing Tara stutter for the first time in years. "Strap in girlfriend, we have a long drive to SunnyD." The slayer watched the young witch closely knowing her mother's death hadn't sunk in yet, to either of them really. They had been there for each other as scared eight year olds, and would always be there for one another, and nothing could be worse than this. It had always worried Faith how Tara would take her almost inevitable death as a slayer, but she always expected that Rhiannon would be there for the witch.

xxxxxx

"Why is Giles locked in his office when I want to celebrate my triumphant return and mom grinding Snyder into the dust?" Buffy asked, her life slowly getting back to an even keel since her return to Sunnydale, hating to admit that getting back to school would help.

"Not sure Buff," Xander answered, trying to peer into the watcher's office. "He's been locked in there all afternoon."

The watcher took his handkerchief to his eyes one last time knowing he had to apprise Buffy and the rest of the gang of the situation. He pushed his own personal grief to one side and decided that he would toast Rhiannon Williams, as she would always be to him, his very own Welsh witch, with a very large glass of whisky when he got home.

The Scooby gang, all excited to tell Giles the good news that Buffy was allowed back into school, stopped in their tracks when they could see the red eyes and disheveled look of the usually dapper watcher.

"What's the what, G-man?" Xander asked. "Another big bad headed our way?"

"Hmm yes, no, possibly," the watcher answered not sure how to explain. "There probably is a very old and very powerful vampire heading this way. He is older even than The Master, so old in fact he has cloven hands and feet. That really isn't the most important thing right now."

Buffy quivered slightly; even with all the crap she had been through with Angel/ Angelus, The Master still haunted her nightmares. "What can be more important than another incredibly strong vampire heading our way? I didn't exactly produce stellar work with The Master or Spike, or Drusilla or Angelus," the slayer's voice dropping a little on the last word, not over the vampire and everything that had happened by a long shot.

"Buffy," Willow whispered, before she gently ran a comforting hand across the slayer's back, trying to comfort her friend.

"You probably won't be taking on Kakistos by yourself, I hope to god anyway. After Kendra died a new slayer was called. She was slaying in Boston, however," the watcher sighed softly, pushing himself through the pain, "her watcher Rhiannon Wil ..uhm Maclay's body was found today. She had been tortured and cut to pieces. Her ward, the slayer Faith Lehane, and her daughter, Tara, are both missing. Her daughter, like herself, is believed to be a pretty powerful young witch. It is hoped they both escaped with their lives and under an agreement that I had with Rhiannon, if anything happened to her, they would come to me. The council think, taking into mind school records, the two girls have been missing for about 3 or 4 days. Money has been removed at various ATMs between here and Boston from all three bank accounts. It is hoped they will arrive soon. I'm not sure if they will know how to find me, so Buffy, I want you to keep your eyes open when you are on patrol."

Giles removed his glasses, not wanting to add that the agreement had been made over nine years ago, when both young girls were going through psychological treatment to help them deal with the abuse they both had been through. The last thing that Rhiannon wanted was Faith going anywhere near the drunken whore who was her mother, who had allowed the eight year old to be raped by a John for a good payday.

Tara's father had become obsessed with religion and had decided that both his wife and daughter were possessed by demons, the only explanation that the ignorant man could comprehend the magic both had. Rhiannon would never admit to him that Donald Maclay Senior was beating her, and it wasn't until she had called him in a panic from the hospital, after she had returned from a shopping trip to find Tara vomiting blood after he had beaten her with a plastic hose from a vacuum cleaner and managed to perforate the young girls lung, did he have any idea how bad things had become. Giles had arranged for Rhiannon to rejoin the Watchers Council and she had been set up with the newly found potential, Faith. As far as he knew, from that moment on, the three had become a little family.

He prayed both girls were safe, and, in his brutally uncaring way, Travers had informed him that no other slayer had been called, so it was believed that Faith was still alive. He knew that Rhiannon reported to the council even less than him, hating the way that some members viewed the Slayer as a tool, a weapon, and certainly never as a young girl. He thought it was probably lucky that one of the most damaged young potentials had ended up in the Wiccan's tender care.

"Giles," Willow repeated.

"Sorry," Giles realized he had drifted away into another time.

"Do we know what they look like?" Buffy asked again, worried about her watcher and sure there were parts of this story he was keeping from them.

"Probably not a lot of help, but the police report has said that they are both between five foot four to five about 110 to 120 pounds one is blonde with blue eyes and the other has dark hair with brown eyes. I am presuming that Tara is blonde with blue eyes like her mother, and Faith is dark."

"Not really a lot to go on, two average girls missing, average heights, average weights..."

"I had already said the police report was not much help," Giles snapped, his heart shredded with the news of losing someone close to him again in this never ending fight against evil. "They think the girls have taken Rhiannon's Dodge Charger, but they were long gone from Boston before the police were looking for it."

"How come I get the watcher with the crappy car..." Buffy shut her mouth after receiving another glare from Giles, finally figuring out that he really wasn't in the mood for her glib comments. "I'll start keeping an eye out for them." A horrifying thought occurred to the blonde slayer. "Did they see, you know, what happened?"

There was a heavy silence over the library for a few moments before Giles nodded his head once and disappeared back into his office.

"That is heavy shit," Oz commented, as usual the guitar player only tended to open his mouth when it was something important. "They're going to be in a bad place."

"All of us patrol tonight?" Xander suggested.

"The Dingoes have a gig at The Bronze," Oz sighed, for once he'd rather be with his friends than playing guitar.

"Trouble usually finds The Bronze. How about we start off there and have a late patrol tonight," Buffy suggested; everybody nodded their agreements and left, apart from the slayer. Buffy knocked on Giles office door and pushed it open. "We'll all look out for them tonight." Giles did not even catch her eye, just nodded his head.

xxxxxx

Faith had taken over driving again as they passed L.A. with still a number of hours to go. They were both exhausted; they had changed driver ever six hours to try and rest, but it had been hard to sleep. She messed about with the dial on the radio, looking for a rock channel to sing along with to stay awake. "Hey Tare it's your song; sing along with me?"

She's got eyes of the bluest skies

As if they thought of rain

I'd hate to look into those eyes

And see an ounce of pain

The dark slayer drifted away for a second, knowing that she had seen too much pain in Tara's eyes already, and had noticed that in the last 24 hours, the young witch had eaten nothing and had become catatonic. Tara didn't join in and stared blankly out the car window, barely functioning. Faith tried to kick up the volume as she joined back up with the song.

Whoa, oh, oh sweet child o' mine

Whoa, oh, oh sweet love of mine

With no response from Tara, Faith put her arm around the blonde, pulling her close like she had at the start of the journey, worried sick about her friend's mental state.

xxxxx

Giles dug down to the bottle of his drinks cabinet and pulled out the bottle of Penderyn Peated single malt whisky. The Welsh whisky that was brought to him as a present almost 19 years ago, and the promise they would always share a glass when they met. There was only a quarter of the whisky gone, all consumed the last time they met. He flicked through his record collection and pulled out the Fleetwood Mac album. He remembered telling Rhiannon that apart from the blue eyes, she really did look like young Stevie Nicks. His heart started to race as the music took him back to a different time and place.

Rhiannon rings like a bell through the night

and wouldn't you love to love her?

Takes to the sky like a bird in flight

and who will be her lover?

All your life you've never seen

woman, taken by the wind

Would you stay if she promised you heaven?

Will you ever win?

She sat with her back to him, her feet on the floor, her head in her hands, naked on the edge of his bed. "This was wrong Rupert; I'm married, I have a son... I shouldn't have."

"Rhia, I shouldn't have let you go when we were at Oxford." He pulled her long golden blonde hair to one side, kissing and licking the alabaster column of her long elegant neck. "I was a bloody fool."

"You wanted the darkness, the black magic, Ethan and his friends' over the boring Wiccan," Rhiannon said stiffly, her usual lilting Welsh accent clipped as she remembered the rows they had over the use of magic.

"And I lost you; there is not much more foolish one man can get." He ran his hands down her sides, his fingertips touching the swell of her breasts. He felt himself grow hard again at the hitch in her voice and the soft pale skin under his fingers. He pulled her back on to the bed so he could look in her beautiful blue eyes. "I still love you. Leave him. He treats you like shit, I saw the faded bruises on your arms. You, Donnie, I could look after you both."

"He would never let Donnie go," Rhiannon whispered with conviction, one hundred percent sure that her husband loved her son more than her. She closed her eyes as the man she really loved started to gently make love to her again. The first time she had felt love in years.

Giles eyes flew open as he came back to the here and now. He ran upstairs to check his diaries for the date of the fateful weekend in LA when he arranged to meet his old flame, his first love, who was having problems in a marriage that had turned sour. She had ran off to the UK first, before returning to the States, missing her son too much. She had arranged to meet him on a whim before she went home to her husband. He had begged and pleaded for her to stay, but she could never quite forgive the way he treated her when he was deep into dark magic; the pull even stronger in the end than the love he felt for her. He checked the dates with a growing disbelief. Why had he not noticed while she was alive? "A fool, I am an old fool."

xxxxx

"Who is sluterama on the dance floor?" Cordelia asked, pointing to a dark haired teenage girl dressed in leather who was grinding and slithering her body over a guy whose dress sense seemed to have started, and finished, with looking like John Travolta in the Seventies.

Buffy watched in concern as he wrapped his arm around her shoulder and steered her towards the back exit of the club. She noticed that he was followed by a guy who had a blonde girl that she hadn't noticed on the dancefloor in the same position. "Shit, vamps." She took off after the girls who were being dragged into the back alley behind The Bronze.

As she got outside, the two vampires disappeared in a cloud of dust. The two girls looked like they were going to give each other a high five but clenched their hands together instead.

"Synchronicity sister," Faith said to Tara. "How many do I need to kill for you?"

"Him," Tara whispered as the two girls pressed their foreheads together. "Kill him for me Faith."

"I will, I will kill him for you," Faith promised.

"Faith, Tara?" Buffy asked, the intensity of the emotion between the two girls making her uncomfortable.

Faith keeping her forehead in touch with Tara's temple as both girls swiveled to look at Buffy, her arm went protectively around Tara's shoulders. "What's it to you, Blondie?"

"I'm Buffy."

"I was expecting you to be taller," the dark slayer grinned at her, looking unimpressed.

TBC