Love Without Trust

Summary: **Part of the 2020 LiveJournal's Twisted Shorts FaD challenge** Tara commiserates over lost love and makes a friend.

Challenge: for the livejournal 2020 August Fic-a-Day Challenge. Also for TtH Challenge #1928 - 20 Minutes With Tara

Timeline: right after season 6 'Tabula Rasa' for BtVS and after season 5 'A Witch's Tail' for Charmed

A/N: I'll try to get back to the Summers' Twins story tomorrow.

Disclaimer: BtVS/AtS characters belong to Joss Whedon/Mutant Enemy. Charmed characters belong to Constance M. Burge and the WB. I claim no rights to any copyrighted material. Please do not copy or take this story without my permission.

San Francisco

She wasn't sure what made her approach the man on the shore, but Tara felt draw to him somehow. Maybe it was the way his agony felt similar to her own. "Bad breakup?" she guessed, sitting on a piece of driftwood near him.

Cole turned to look at the woman who interrupted his brooding over Phoebe. He was going to snap at her to mind her own business, but he felt her magical power and was intrigued. "Did the Sisters send you?"

Unless she was a good actress, she didn't know who he was talking about. "No, I came out here to meditate and decide what to do about my own heartbreak," Tara replied honestly. His aura was dark, but she didn't think it was necessarily evil. Maybe he was something similar to Buffy's ex, Angel?

Deciding that it shouldn't hurt to talk to the witch, Cole joined her on the branch. "What broke you and your boyfriend up?" he prompted, not wanting to discuss his failed marriage just yet.

"Girlfriend, and it was the fact I couldn't trust her anymore. She…" Tara paused while she decided how much truth she wanted to share. If she was right and he knew about the supernatural, he might understand. If he didn't, he'd just brush her off as a kook and walk away. "…cast a spell on me to stop me from fighting with her, then stole my memories of the fight. The worst part is not knowing how many times she's done that to me in the past. I love her with all my heart, but love isn't enough when you don't have trust."

Her words hit Cole like an anvil to the head. "That's where we went wrong," he exclaimed softly. "We loved each other, but I don't think she ever fully trusted me. Her sisters certainly never did, and nothing I tried could convince them."

"That you weren't evil?" Tara guessed.

At his sharp glance, she explained, "I can read auras and yours has this dark tint to it – like you have an evil past but are trying to redeem yourself."

"That doesn't seem shocking to you," Cole stated, wondering why she was more accepting of his history.

"I've known a few bad guys gone good – if not entirely good, then trying. My girlfriend's group are firm believers in second chances. Sometimes it works, sometimes it blows up in our – their faces," Tara corrected herself, not sure if she was part of the group anymore.

"Too bad I didn't fall in love with one of them, then," Cole snarked bitterly.

Tara smiled at him, "I could see Buffy falling for you."

The name came as a surprise to him. Not too many supernatural beings with that name. "The Slayer? So I take it one of the formerly evil people you know is Angelus – or Angel as he's known these days?"

"I don't know him personally, but I know of their history. Do you want to meet her?" Tara offered. "She's not really in a good place right now, but she might appreciate helping somebody to forget her own troubles."

Taking one last look at the ocean, Cole came to a decision. "Sure, why not? There's nothing for me in San Francisco anymore."

A/N: Not sure what this could do to BtVS canon. Hopefully it would help rather than hurt it, though.