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Future Imperfect by Lilachigh
19 Green Eyed Monster
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I must apologise for neglecting this story for so long. Two eye operations rather stopped me in my tracks.  But am back now and hope to keep the chapters coming.  Do hope some of you are still with me.

Ch  19:  Green Eyed Monster
The sleek private jet – matt black with no markings – swung round in the evening sky to make it’s final approach before landing.
An elderly Englishman gazed out of a window – America – it had been two years since he’d been here, the place that had once been home.  Well, no, that wasn’t strictly true because he wasn’t returning to Sunnydale, but to a town much further north where the sun was never as strong.  So back to work and a life of coffee and no proper tea.  He sighed but privately he was delighted.
In the seat next to him, a woman with short red hair tore her gaze from her laptop and turned to smile at him.  “Tired, Giles?”
“What?  Oh no – I mean woken out of a deep sleep by a phone call from Angel – Angel! - telling me that a car was outside my door to take me to a private airfield where his jet would bring me to the States. No time to pack, or even shave!  I feel grubby, cross and worried. But tired? Oh no.”
Willow laughed.  “Sarcasm, Giles?  I’d have thought you were desperate to find out what’s going on.  I know I am.”
“All I could gather from Angel – I mean Angel owns a private jet! – was that Buffy needed both of us at once. The phone line was dreadful but I gathered little Joyce had vanished again. I can’t see why that would need the cavalry – she does it often enough, or so I believe.”
Willow sighed and turned the laptop in his direction.  “I’ve finally managed to get an e mail from Shanny – the only person in the whole family who seems to know how to use technology. Read this, Giles.  It’s – ” her voice quavered – “it’s terrifying.”
Rupert Giles pushed his glasses down from where they sat on top of his head and read the lines of text – he could taste the fear and frantic worry in each word.  “I don’t understand – the past Slayers have take the twins!  Taken them where – how - why?”
Willow typed a quick response to say they would be with them asap and shut down the computer as a voice came over the intercom saying they were about to land.
Giles glanced at the woman next to him as she busied herself with her seat belt.  Willow hadn’t aged well, he thought.  Since Kennedy had been killed in the early months of the First European Demon Wars, she had changed. There were grey streaks in the rusty red hair and a bitter twist to her mouth that hadn’t been there years before. She seemed tense and unhappy and – the word floated into his mind – apprehensive in a way he couldn’t quite fathom.
“What can Shanny mean by “Angel is so concerned, naturally”?”
Willow shook her head.  “I have no idea.  I haven’t heard anything from her for over a year.”  She clasped her hands together in her lap, her fingers gripping and twisting each other, trying to school the hurt out of her voice.
Giles reached over to calm her. “We’ve always known Joyce would be a problem.  But one I’m sure you can sort out. Witch to witch, so to speak.  I mean, as much as I admire Buffy, her parenting skills are nil. Remember how inept she was with Dawn when their mother died? And don’t even let me get started on Spike as a father!  I agreed with Shanny when she decided to keep the twins away from her parents and I’m surprised she’s let them get involved now. Well, it’s obviously a course of action she regrets.”
Willow shuddered.  If she’d had any sense she wouldn’t have answered Angel’s phone call, would have sat in her house with all the lights off until morning and then got in her car and driven as fast and far as possible so no one could find her. 
“You mustn’t worry about upsetting Buffy.  It isn’t your fault that Shanny turned to you when she was sent back to live in America. You did the very best for her you could and she and David seem very happy together.”
Willow nodded.  Yes, Giles was right, of course he was. Buffy’s jealousy was something she would just have to cope with.   She adored Shanny; she always had ever since the child had been born in the catacombs under  the streets of Rome.  The big brown eyes, the hair, even the expression – nothing like Buffy or Spike, but so like the first Joyce, her grandmother.  And what else could she have done when Shanny had been sent to the States to live with Willow’s own parents except try and be a mother to her? 
The young girl had been sullen, shut away inside herself, unable to show any true emotion.  Willow had sensed an enormous anger and resentment against her parents.  Had she made it worse?  A worm of worry and guilt threaded through her mind.  Had she sympathised too much, made Shanny feel like a little martyr rather than a young girl who’d been saved from a nightmare life by parents who loved her more than themselves?
No, she shook herself. She’d helped turn that teenager into a lovely young woman.  OK, she’d had that bad time when David got her pregnant, but even that had worked out OK.  And if Joyce had been a normal child – well, thank heavens that Billy was a sweet, ordinary little boy.
The jet’s engines screamed in pain as the wheels touched down and slowed dramatically, swinging round in a circle to taxi towards a long, black limousine that was waiting at the end of the runway, engine already running.
And as Willow gathered her possessions together and helped Giles untangle his seatbelt, she knew that the terror she was just about holding at bay was based on that fact.  The twins – well, Joyce – were not normal.  Willow had met many witches over the years – she knew her own powers could be phenomenal if she let them – but Joyce – the little girl was in a class of her own.  Willow had left America to live in England when Shanny had asked her to stop Joyce – and as she set foot again on American soil, she admitted at last to herself why. 
It hadn’t just been because she was scared of Joyce’s powers – no, she’d been jealous. And as the limousine roared away from the airport, Willow knew that jealousy had only been increased by knowing Shanny had finally sent the precious twins back to Buffy and Spike for them to help.
She’d always secretly been proud that she was the one who had a connection with the girl who was so important to Buffy.  Being a witch who almost destroyed the world hadn’t completely wiped out the gawky girl who’d always taken the “best friend” role in life.  Who’d never been as important or necessary, who’d messed up even in bringing her friend back from the dead.  But Shanny had loved her, listened to her, taken her advice – until now.  And as the car purred through the night, Willow hugged to herself with pleasure the bitter knowledge that things had obviously gone wrong with the twins once Buffy and Spike became involved again.
Rupert Giles rubbed a hand over his chin, wishing he’d had time to shave before leaving England.  The last thing he wanted was to meet dear Shanny, Buffy, Spike and, for god’s sake, Angel, looking like an elderly tramp.  He felt a warm glow of satisfaction that he was being asked to advise once more.  The years had passed by so swiftly and he’d had various Slayers under his protection since the Potentials had been called.  But  during the last few years he’d been asked for help less and less.  He was fond of Shanny and although he didn’t know twins well, he was sure he could be of use in the present situation.  It was just comforting to know that even after all this time, Buffy had turned to him.
And as the car roared onwards through the dark night, neither Willow nor Giles recalled that they had only heard from Angel and Shanny.  Neither had spoken a word to Buffy or Spike. …….
Angel walked across the yard to where an old swing hung from the branch of a big tree.  It was still dark but dawn was tinging the sky lavender and mauve.  The swing creaked on its hinges and he could see Spike quite clearly, one booted foot pushing at the dusty trail made by many feet over the years.
“Noisy in there,” he said sitting down next to the man who’d been his child, lover, enemy and companion over so many years.
Spike shrugged.  He’d left the house when Buffy, Shanny and Willow started on the third round of who was to blame.  “You invited them here. We didn’t.”
Angel found that after all these years, he was still able to wince at the “we”.  “They’re needed.  Every brain we can muster.”
“Well, those brains haven’t even begun to think of a way to get the twins back yet.  And two of them belong to women I love.”
“You can’t expect Shanny to have any ideas where Slayers are concerned.” Angel sounded irritated.
Spike waited for the surge of anger he expected to flow over him; righteous anger that Liam thought he had the right to talk to him about his daughter.  But nothing happened. He felt empty.  He wanted to fight, but there was no one to chase, nothing to kill.  He’d watched the twins vanish from sight and knew that for the first time in his unlife he was completely and utterly helpless.  He wanted to hate this man for helping to cause this disaster, but even that seemed beyond him.
“Have you phoned your son yet? What was his name? Connor?  Told him about the twins?”
There was a pause:  even in the dark, Spike could see Angel’s face, the pain that flashed across it.  “No.  It’s not the sort of thing you tell someone by text or phone call, is it?”
Spike shrugged and wished desperately that he had a cigarette to smoke.  “Well, he wouldn’t be the first guy to learn he’s fathered a child after a drunken one night stand!  But maybe not all of them did it with a fifteen year old.”
“She looked eighteen in those photos!  I don’t blame him.”
Spike gazed towards the eastern sky and sighed. “Oddly enough, nor do I.  Neither of us have the right to blame anyone for anything. We gave that up a long time ago.  And let’s face it,  you’ll have to deal with the consequences long after I’m dead and dust.”
Angel felt his stomach heave.  The truth of Spike’s words bit into his stupid soul.  Twenty, thirty, perhaps forty if he was very lucky, years.  Then William the Bloody would be gone for good, his half of the Shanshu – that he would age the same way as a human - finished and done.  And he himself would go on and on and on…alone.  He forced his thoughts away from that.  “Where do you think the Slayers have taken them?”
“God knows.  I can’t even begin to think why let alone where.”
“Joyce is only nine.  I understand how powerful she is, but even so, how can that help them?”
Spike pushed himself up and away from the swing.  “Sun’s nearly here . I’m going indoors.”
“Why not take an adult witch?  I can’t believe there isn’t one out there in the world with equal powers,” Angel muttered as he followed the other vampire across the yard.
Spike took the porch steps two at a time and spun round, vamping out for a second.  “Idiot!  You’re falling into the same trap as everyone else. Buffy, Shanny, even Willow.  You all think they came for Joyce.  I think they came for Billy!”

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