Title: Magic in Numbers
Pairing: Willow Rosenberg/Charlie Eppes
Summary: The FBI is called in when teenaged girls go missing, who just happen to be new slayers.
Disclaimer: I claim no ownership over these characters. I am merely borrowing them from Joss et al. and Scott Free.
Distribution: slayerversathon, my LJ, my site, TtH, the usual lists, anyone with previous permission. Anyone else - just ask.
Feedback: Yes please! It makes me happy and keeps me writing.
Author's Note 1: Thanks to angelskuuipo, emeraldswan and kallie_kat for all of your help and handholding.
Author's Note - BtVS: Okay, so in order to make this story work, I had to play around with storylines a bit since this takes place Post-Chosen, in LA. Basically, Angel didn't take over Wolfram & Hart, he killed Connor and Cordelia died in her coma. The rest comes out in the story.
Author's Note - Numb3rs: Takes place mid-season 2, after 'Mind Games' but before 'All's Fair'.
Start with Chapter 1
Charlie rushed into the meeting room, where everyone was gathered to discuss what they'd found on the missing girls, or lack thereof.
"I found it," he announced, setting his laptop and briefcase on a table.
"You found a link?" Megan asked, excited by the prospect that they'd found a break.
Charlie quickly pulled up a web page on his laptop as he connected it to the projection machine.
"The Summers School for Girls?" David Sinclair read. "But none of the girls go there."
"Not yet," Charlie agreed, "but they have all recently been recruited to go there."
"All of them?" Don asked, coming closer to look at the information on the screen.
"Well, that's certainly something," Colby said.
"But we've been to their schools and these girls are all in different grades and academic achievement. I know that at least one girl is failing most of her classes."
"And not all of these families would be able to pay for a private school," David added.
"They wouldn't have to," Charlie said. "While it is a private school, run by a Mr. Xander Harris, the upkeep of the school is paid for by private donations. The girls' families don't have to pay a cent."
"That's got to be some kind of scam," Don said.
"I looked into it a bit and it seems legit," Charlie rebuffed.
"Right." Someone entered the room and handed Don a piece of paper before he could continue. "Colby, David, you go talk to this Harris guy, see if the school's on the up and up. Megan, you're with me. Another girl's gone missing."
"And I'll keep looking for other possible links," Charlie said to their retreating backs.
"Do you really think that a school could be involved with these kidnappings?" Megan asked Don as they approached the house.
"I certainly hope not, but it's the only thing that we have to go on at this point. It can't just be a coincidence that all five--"
"Six," Megan corrected.
"--Six girls were recruited to go there," Don finished.
"Hopefully Mrs. Bennett will be able to tell us more about it," Megan said, ringing the doorbell.
The door opened and a young woman, a redhead, nearly collided with the FBI agents, as she was half turned towards Mrs. Bennett.
"I promise," the redhead was saying, giving Mrs. Bennett's hand a squeeze. "I'll be in touch if we hear anything. Oh, excuse me," she exclaimed upon seeing Don and Megan blocking her path.
"Excuse me, but who are you?" Don asked.
"Willow Rosenberg. And you are?" she returned, a bit taken aback by the accusation in his tone.
"Don Eppes, FBI," he said, flashing his badge. "The Bureau didn't say anything about someone already covering this case." He glanced to Megan for confirmation.
"Oh, I'm not Bureau," Willow confirmed.
"Then may I ask why you're interfering with our investigation?" Megan asked.
"Interfering? I'm not interfering. I had some business with the Bennetts and they called me when their daughter disappeared."
"Are you from the school?" Megan asked, surprised by the turn of events.
"What school would that be?" Willow asked suspiciously.
"The Summers School for Girls." Don's voice was clearly accusing her of being associated with their prime suspect.
Her eyes widened in surprise that the FBI had heard of the school. "In that case, yes. I am from the school."
"I think that you need to come with us," Don said, his tone clipped.
"Why? I haven't done anything wrong," Willow objected.
"Because as of right now, you're our number one suspect in the kidnapping of six girls," Don answered, escorting her towards his car.
"This is a school?" Colby rhetorically asked, stepping out of David's car and staring up at what appeared to be an old hotel.
"According to the school's website, it used to be the Hyperion hotel. It went out of business after a rash of murders in the Fifties. At least until a few years ago when a PI firm, Angel Investigations, bought it and used it as their base of operations. Then they just offered up the building to be used as the school," David supplied.
"What, they just handed over their headquarters to a bunch of schoolgirls?" Colby questioned.
"Something like that, I guess. Maybe we can find out how that transaction happened when we get inside," David suggested, wondering if the school was some kind of front for something seedier involving the girls.
Opening the double doors, the agents entered the luxurious lobby of the school.
"Hello," a young blond man said from behind the former-registration desk. "Welcome to the Summers School for Girls. My name is Andrew. How may I be of service?"
David and Colby exchanged a look of amusement and approached the desk.
Colby showed his badge as David said, "FBI. We're looking to speak with a Xander Harris. Can you point us towards his office?"
"Holy mother of Chris Carter," Andrew whispered under his breath, eyes widening in surprise and excitement. "Xander didn't do anything wrong. He's a good man and a fine administrator."
"Look," Colby said, "he's not in any trouble. We just have some questions to ask him."
"Oh, okay. He's right through there. Just let me announce you," Andrew said.
He came out from behind the desk and led them to the adjoining office. Knocking on the closed door, he said, "Xander, there are some men from the FBI here to see you."
A muffled voice called out, "Let them in."
"You may proceed," Andrew said, standing back after opening the door with a flourish.
"Xander Harris?" David asked, stepping the room and approaching the desk. He tried not to show his surprise at the man's eye patch.
"Yes, I'm Xander Harris. What can I do for you?" Xander gestured to the chairs in front of his desk, silently inviting them to sit.
"We just have some questions for you about some missing girls," David said. He pulled out photos of the kidnapped girls and set them on the desk. "Do you recognize any of these girls?"
Xander looked over the photos, worried that one of the new slayers had been killed while patrolling on her own, without supervision. He internally breathed a sigh of relief when none of the faces struck a bell.
"Sorry, no. I've never seen any of these girls before. Who are they?"
"That's funny," Colby said. "Because all five of these girls received letters of admission from this school. They also all happen to have been kidnapped in the last several days."
Xander sat back in his chair. "That explains it. I only interact with current students. Willow's in charge of Admissions. If these girls haven't started here yet, then I wouldn't have met them." Sitting forward again, he looked over the photos more carefully. "I know that she's been busy lately meeting with families in the area. It's possible that these girls have all been invited to enroll here."
"Invited?" David questioned. "You said 'invited to enroll here'. Anyone can't get in?"
Xander shook his head. "We created this school to educate girls with very specific abilities."
"And what abilities would those be?" Colby asked. "From what we can tell, these girls have nothing in common, aside from an invitation to attend this school. They didn't know each other. They're all from different parts of LA. All in different grades at varying levels of academic success."
Xander hated this part of the job. It's why Willow was in charge of Admissions and he was in charge of Student Relations. She was just better at lying. And wasn't that just too funny for words, considering how bad she had been at it as a teenager.
"I know that it may not be obvious to the naked eye, no pun intended, but these girls are very special. We have developed tests to evaluate the girls and we offer them the best possible education to make the most of their abilities," Xander said.
"Who exactly pays for this specialized education?" David asked. "According to your website, the girls don't pay to attend the school."
"We have several private investors, most notably David Nabbit. And just because we don't charge for tuition, doesn't mean that the families don't contribute. We hold fundraisers and the families, if they're able, can contribute that way. Most of them are eager to help finance their daughters' education."
"David Nabbit, the software billionaire? How'd he get involved?" Colby asked.
"Oh, he and Angel go way back. Angel's the one who gave us the hotel to use. He told Mr. Nabbit about what we were doing here and he was only too happy to give us the financing we needed to fix the hotel up and turn it into a school. And believe me, it needed a lot of work. Most of the rooms on the upper floors were uninhabitable when we took over and major structural work needed to be done before we could even think about taking girls in. Then we had to turn the conference rooms into classrooms and get the industrial kitchen back in working order. It took us close to a year to get the building ready, but now the girls, and most of the staff live and work here."
"One big happy family," Colby quipped.
"We try to be," Xander answered with a grin.
"Where can we find Willow?" David asked. "If she's the one meeting with families, we'll need to speak with her."
"Hang on a sec." Xander pressed a button on his phone. "Andrew, can you come in here? And bring Willow's schedule."
Andrew came bustling into the room. "Here you go, Mr. Harris," he said, handing over the print out.
"It looks like she's meeting with a prospective student's family right now, but she should be back later this afternoon. Would you like to wait? Or you can always make an appointment with Andrew for another day."
Colby's phone rang before they had a chance to respond. Answering it, he said, "Granger ... Really? ... We're on our way."
He hung up the phone and said, "Never mind, we won't be needing an appointment." Turning to David he said, "Willow was at the house of the sixth victim. Don and Megan are bringing her in."
"Willow's been arrested? Taken to the big house?" Andrew exclaimed.
"No one's been arrested. Not yet anyway. We'll be in touch," Colby said.
"Shit," Xander said soon as the door closed behind the FBI agents. "Andrew, call the others, even Angel. Tell him to bring Lindsey. But don't tell them why."
Continued... Chapter 4