Title; Broken Lives

Author: Magrat70

Disclaimer: not mine blah blah

Rating: T

Thanks to Sao 21 you know none of this would be without you

Exquisite Pain

Giles watched the two girls deep asleep. His hungry eyes could barely leave the young blonde; her appearance, so like her mother's the first time he met her, felt like a dagger twisting in his heart.

"Rupert," Joyce whispered. "I think the two of them will be out of it for some time. They practically fell into the bed after a shower. Rupert..." Joyce wondered how to breach the subject of the two girls' relationship with him. They had arrived at the house with Buffy; the blonde girl had said nothing and the other slayer had just stated that they needed to get clean Mrs S and sleep. They had disappeared into the bathroom together, and the brunette was now cradling the blonde in her sleep, in Buffy's bed. The slayer's hold on the other girl was possessive or maybe protective.

"We should talk downstairs," Giles could feel Joyce's anxiety

They sat in the kitchen, Giles with his hand around the cup of tea that Joyce had prepared. The adults were unaware of Buffy sitting at the top of the stairs using her enhanced slayer hearing to catch all the details that she knew Giles was keeping to himself.

"When I met Tara's mother, we were in our first year at Oxford and I was finding the expectations of following my father into the Watchers Council a huge weight on my shoulders. I met a young, beautiful, blonde witch," Giles smiled at the memory of Rhiannon and her seductive magic and passionate love. "I fell deeply in love. She was like nothing I've...it wasn't something I was looking, it was powerful, enticing." He sighed the smile removed from his face, "she looks so much like her mother did, it makes it hard to look at her, and, at the same time, hard to look away."

Joyce could see a tear escape down the face of the usually stoic watcher. She squeezed a hand on his shoulder trying to give a little comfort. "Oh Rupert."

"I became arrogant," Giles carried on wanting to get his story out. "She believed in her religion with every part of her being; she was so pure. I wanted more of the power. I fell in with an acquaintance Ethan Rayne," the English man practically spat the words out. "He offered a quicker way to get everything I wanted but it involved dark, dark magic. Rhiannon in the end gave me the ultimatum, either the black magic or her... to my shame I was in too deep to realize what I had lost until she was gone; her beauty, her grace, compassion for the world around her. Ethan bastard Rayne tried to give her a shoulder to cry on," Giles gave out a bitter bark of laughter. "Rhiannon wasn't fooled and sent him away with a flea in the ear. The ironic thing was we both ended up as Watchers."

Joyce gave him a moment to collect his thoughts, guessing there was more pain and heartache to come to this story.

"She married a man called Donald Maclay. He was a man who became paranoid and violent after the birth of their son; he loved the boy but hated Rhiannon. He had become part of a fundamentalist Christian Church whose teaching said that Rhiannon's Wiccan religion was close to devil worship. She ran from him after a particular brutal beating and moved back to the UK. She missed her son too much and knew that if she went for custody, the Alabama state judges probably wouldn't be on her side. She went back to him. She knew she had a stopover in LA and decided to lengthen it for a whole weekend. We...we spent the whole weekend together; I begged her to stay with me but she wouldn't." Giles stopped as the memory that had been running through his head kept running, the last time they had made love. Her timeless and unforgettable beauty.

"I'm sorry Rupert," Joyce felt it weird watching the Watcher struggle through his story, while sad, not sure how it related to the two girls upstairs.

"The next time I heard from Rhiannon she was in a hospital in Birmingham, Alabama; her eight year old daughter had been beaten badly by her husband. She was already showing signs of being a powerful witch, and he believed he was beating the demon out of her that caused the magic. He broke her ribs and punctured her lung; he had also ruptured her spleen, which had to be removed. Tara almost died. I got her back in touch with the council. They had a young potential slayer, Faith, who was wild and in need of a Watcher in Boston. The council arranged for Rhiannon and Tara to be moved to Boston and probably threatened Donald to stay away from them. I found out that Faith's mother was a prostitute who had already sold an eight year old Faith to be r-raped," Giles felt like he couldn't breathe as he told the horrors of the young girls' early lives.

"Oh god, oh god," Joyce whispered, trying her best not lose her dinner.

"Rhiannon got them both help to come to grips with what happened to them. Rhiannon adopted Faith, which wouldn't normally be allowed, but Faith was a special case and no one wanted her to end up back with her mother. The last time I spoke to Rhiannon, I promised I would care for the girls if anything happened to her. It turns out that an old and very vicious vampire had decided to go after the new slayer. He tortured and killed Rhiannon, I believe in front of both girls. They escaped and had been on the run for days. Rhiannon must have told them to go to Sunnydale if anything happened."

"Those poor girls," Joyce decided it was hardly surprising that both girls had clung to one another as they had tonight; she was pleased she hadn't blundered in with tactless questions about the girls' relationship.

"There is one other thing. I was checking my diary, and I realized I could be Tara's father," Giles felt like a weight had been lifted now that it was out in the open. "I should have realized years ago, I feel so guilty; I could have saved Tara from so much pain."

xxc

"Whatcha doing?" Dawn asked when she heard her sister gasp out loud. "Are you listening to Mr. Giles and Mom? What have they said about the new slayer?"

"Shut up Dawn, you're going to get us caught..."

"Elizabeth Anne Summers, have you been listening to us?" Joyce called from the bottom of the stairs.

"I-I," the blonde slayer looked for some way of escape; realizing there was none, she hung her head in shame.

"Buffy come downstairs. Dawn you should be in bed asleep," Joyce ordered her children ignoring Dawn's eye rolling and whining about never finding anything out.

XXX

Giles took off his glasses off, wondering what to say to his slayer; he looked across at her and could see tears in her hazel eyes, "The things you heard tonight can't be repeated. You understand that? Not even to Willow."

"But how... how could their parents' do that to them? Almost k-kill or have her raped," the blonde slayer could hardly say it, the horror was resounding in her head. "Mom, Giles I don't understand. I go out every night protecting the world from demons and vampires, and then the humans I protect do that. What's the point?"

"The point is that wonderful people like Rhiannon looked after them, made them happy and laid down her life for them. I won't pretend to you Buffy; both of those girls are deeply damaged and they will need you, all of us." Joyce surprised Giles by jumping in and explaining the situation better than he could. He was pleased to see Buffy nodding along, being lifted out of her despair in the way only a mother could.

"What are you going to do about Tara?" the slayer asked softly.

"Do?" Giles looked perplexed.

"Don't you want to find out if she is your daughter? I mean, it would probably help her to know the person that hurt her wasn't really her flesh and blood and you could have a beautiful daughter."

"She was expected to go to Harvard; she is so bright, like her mother. Her mother had a mind that could..." Giles shivered as he remembered some of the things Rhiannon would say or do that would captivate him.

"I don't think I'm ready to hear those things," Buffy said with a shudder, "so Tara's like Willow?"

"Not so much with the computers, more with the non-scientific subjects, but her school reports suggest she would get on well with Willow, and of course she is a powerful hereditary witch. We don't know how she will be. How did they seem to you?" Giles asked.

Buffy shot her mom an uncertain look. "They took out a vamp each at The Bronze... it felt like Faith had attracted the vamps to please Tara. They were intense; outside of the few words I heard Tara speak to Faith, she didn't say anything. It felt like Faith was in charge, but she was making sure everything was okay with Tara. Once we got here, they went upstairs together, had showers, and went to bed." The blonde slayer considered her words. "To be honest, I think it would be hard to judge them; they hardly looked like they had slept since...leaving Boston." Buffy's mind was again going to a scary place where the only person who had given these young woman love was tortured to death in front of them. She wondered what her and Dawn's life would be like without their mom, a little shiver of dread went through the slayer's body.

A scream came from upstairs, the three of them ran up the stairs to find Faith trying to control Tara thrashing about in bed; the young witch was also discharging energy into the air. The dark haired slayer was caught with one of the bolts and was relieved it was only a small discharge compared to the power she knew the witch could let go with. "Fuck T-bear that hurt, wake up, come back to me. I'll keep you safe, I promise."

"Mom," Tara called out, clinging to the slayer as though her life depended on it. "She's gone Faith, what are we gonna do?"

"I'll look after you, I promised Mom and I meant it," the dark haired slayer tenderly smoothed a lock of hair out of Tara's eyes and kissed her forehead. "I will always care for you, T-bear; I love you." The slayer settled the blonde witch against her shoulder and rocked the girl she considered to be her sister back to sleep. "I promise sis, I will take apart that vamp for killing Mom."

Faith was aware that they were being watched, but she had no intention of moving until she settled Tara back down again; once the young witch's breathing had changed, the dark haired slayer gently slipped out of bed, put on the robe that Joyce had given her earlier on in the night, and was ready to face the watcher who she had a huge amount of resentment against, causing the anger to bubble in her chest

XXX

The small group in the kitchen stopped talking as they heard the younger slayer pound down the stairs.

"You!" Faith called out her finger pointed at Giles. "You caused this! Mom told the council that we were being overrun by Kakistos and his minions. She begged for the other slayer to be sent to Boston to help. They told mom that Buffy had defeated The Master during her first year on the Hellmouth without help." The young slayer rubbed her hands through her mane of dark hair and started to sob. "Oh god, it was me...I wasn't good enough...I got Mom killed."

Buffy gently approached her sister slayer and squeezed Faith's shoulders. "Those bastards. Do you know why you're a slayer Faith?"

"We got told you drowned in an accident."

Giles shook his head, unsurprised but still disgusted at the council's divide and conquer tactics. "Faith, the Master killed Buffy, he left her to drown in a pool of water. I was never approached by the council. I would have been there in a shot to support Rhiannon and yourself against a master vampire even older than The Master himself."

"They left us to burn on purpose? They kept coming after T or Mom when they were on their own. He told us he was going to kill us all." Faith shivered at the memories flowing through her, the attack on Tara that had left the young witch so depleted in power she had been sick for a week; never mind the bruises that covered her body from the initial attack.

Buffy pulled the other slayer into a fierce hug. "You're not on your own now. I have so much help from my friends... we will make sure you and Tara never have to worry about that bastard again."

Giles could not wait until the next day. He always knew Travers was a wanker, but he couldn't believe how he had let the young slayer down so badly, and the anger over Rhiannon's needless death was stored in the back of his mind; he knew one day he would take his revenge for it.

TBC