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
Half an hour later Buffy, Robin, Angel and Lindsey were gathered in the lobby, wondering why Xander had called them here in the middle of the day.
"Look, I'm just going to cut to the chase. I just had a visit from the FBI about the missing slayers. Apparently they've taken Willow in for questioning."
His announcement was met with exclamations of surprise and worry from everyone.
Lindsey managed to make himself heard above the rest. "I should get down to FBI headquarters. Make sure Willow has her legal representation. I don't want her saying anything that will get her, or us, into trouble."
"Thank you. That's why I called you here," Xander said with relief. "I've never been happier to have you on our team."
"My pleasure. Angel, I'll see you at home later," Lindsey said. "I better run and change into a suit first though."
"Wear the black one with the pinstripes. You always look great in stripes," Angel said, mentally picturing his lover in that suit.
"Ugh, can't you guys quit flirting in public?" Xander asked. "It's nauseating."
"You're just jealous," Lindsey said as he headed for the door, blowing Xander a kiss.
"Xander, leave them alone," Buffy admonished her friend. "If I can take my ex living with another man, so can you. Just remember, if Lindsey hadn't changed his wicked ways and gone to work with Angel, we wouldn't have him around to go help Willow with the FBI."
"I know, I know. Doesn't mean that I can't tease them, though," Xander pouted.
"Speaking of Willow and the FBI," Robin interrupted, "How much do they know?"
"Well, they know that six girls have been kidnapped. Unfortunately, we're the primary suspects since the only link they can find between the girls is a letter from us inviting them to enroll here."
"And the Feds automatically assumed that we have something to do with it," Angel guessed with a groan.
"You've got it," Xander confirmed.
"They have every reason to be suspicious," Robin pointed out. "It's not like we can tell the Feds that we run a school for slayers. They'd never believe us."
"Tell me about it. You should have seen the looks on their faces as I tried to explain that we're a school for girls with special abilities, despite the fact that these girls appear completely ordinary."
"Do you know if Willow's had any luck figuring out who's been taking the girls?" Buffy asked.
"Not yet. They always seem to be one step ahead of her," Xander said.
"Or maybe they're following her," Angel suggested. "What if they're somehow tracking her movements and taking the girls whose homes Willow visits?"
"That's a good possibility," Buffy agreed. "After all, Willow is her own locator spell to finding these girls. I doubt that any psychic the kidnappers have would be half as good at finding the new slayers as Willow, what with her having that ability to sense every slayer that she activated."
"Now the question becomes who is taking the girls? And why?" Robin pointed out.
"They're all new, untrained, slayers," Buffy stated. "Obviously they want them for something. But what? Ransom? To build their own slayer army?" She stopped her pacing. "You don't think it's the First again?"
"No," Robin said. "Going after the slayers wouldn't do the First any good. There's too many of them now. It's lost."
"Then who?" Buffy asked, again.
"Tell me, again, what you were doing at the Bennetts' house," Don said.
"I told you," Willow calmly stated, "Mrs. Bennett called me after her daughter was kidnapped."
"She called you and not the police? Why?" Don asked.
Willow shook her head. "No; she called me after she called the police."
"Why would she call you at all?" Megan asked. "What did she think that you could do?"
"She knew that her daughter was special. It's why I had been there before to try to get Madelyn to attend the school," Willow said.
"Is that how you go about getting families to agree to send their girls to your school at no cost?" Don asked, accusingly. "You kidnap them and then once the families agree that it's safer for them at the school, they agree to send them?"
"What!?" Willow exclaimed. "No. Not at all. Why would we need to kidnap the girls if we don't charge tuition? It's not like we'd need a ransom in the form of money. That's not what we're about."
A knock at the door interrupted Don's rebuttal. Colby opened the door, saying, "Sorry to interrupt, but this man says he's Ms. Rosenberg's attorney."
"She never called an attorney as she's not under arrest," Don said.
"Someone from the school probably called him, seeing as how we were there when you called about bringing her in," Colby said.
Addressing Lindsey, Don said, "Look, I'm sorry you came down here, but your services aren't required."
"Maybe not yet, but I think that I'd like to sit in while you're interviewing my client, just in case," Lindsey said.
"Fine, have it your way. Megan, let's give them a moment alone," Don suggested.
As soon as the agents had left the room, Lindsey sat next to Willow. "How're you holding up?"
"I'm doing okay. How'd you know I was here?" Willow asked.
"A couple of guys from here were talking to Xander about the kidnapped girls when they found out you were being brought here. He called a meeting. The others are still there trying to figure out what's going on. They sent me to make sure you didn't put your foot in your mouth," he said with a wink.
"I need to get out of here, Lindsey," Willow said. "I can't do anything to find the girls if I'm being questioned about their disappearance. They think we had something to do with it!"
"I know. Look, I think that you should offer to help them out," he suggested.
"What? Lindsey, they're human, all of them. How can I offer to let them help when the girls' disappearances most likely have to do with the fact that they're slayers?" She whispered the last part.
"We're never going to get them off our backs if they think we're suspects," he explained. "By offering to help figure out who may have taken them, they'll ease up on watching us, and we can keep working on tracking down the missing girls. And hopefully stop more from being taken."
While Lindsey and Willow were talking, Charlie wandered into the observation room, where the others were congregated.
"Who's that?" he asked, gesturing towards the interrogation room.
"The redhead is Willow Rosenberg and the guy is her attorney, Lindsey McDonald," Don answered.
"They're from the Summers School," David added.
"We found her leaving the home of the latest kidnapped girl," Megan said.
"And you think she had something to do with it?" Charlie asked in disbelief. "She looks upset."
"Yeah, at being caught," Colby snidely commented.
"I think you were right before, Charlie," Don said. "That school is definitely involved in this somehow. This isn't the first time I've seen her at a victim's house. I'm pretty sure we saw her leaving the Stewarts' apartment complex yesterday."
"And I think she arrived at the Anderson place the day before that as we were leaving," David said.
"So we know she knew the families," Charlie agreed. "But we already knew that."
Lindsey appeared at the door to the observation room. "Willow would like to speak with you," he said.
Charlie followed Don and Lindsey back into the interrogation room. Lindsey moved to stand behind Willow. "My client has agreed to help you in any way that she can without compromising the school."
Willow looked up from studying her fingernails and gasped when she saw Charlie. All eyes turned to her. "You're Charlie Eppes," she said in surprise.
Charlie took a step forward, wondering how the pretty young woman knew who he was. She didn't look familiar, after all. "Yes, I am. Have we met before?"
"No," Willow said, shaking her head. "I'm familiar with your work though. I've been reading articles you've written for years, for fun. I've also attended some of your lectures at CalSci when the timing has been right."
"Are you a mathematician?" he asked, in awe.
"Nope, computer science nerd at heart, but that doesn't mean that I don't have a healthy appreciation for applied mathematics," she said.
"If I could interrupt this love fest," Don said, "you were about to help us try to find six kidnapped girls."
"I'll do my best. Although I don't know how much help I'll be," Willow said.
"Why don't you start by telling us why your school was interested in these girls," Don suggested.
"I've developed a program to scan for certain abilities in girls based on their school records," Willow said, nervously.
"How so?" Charlie asked. "I've been over the school records for all of the missing girls, and I didn't see anything, academically or otherwise, that would make them stand out."
Willow swore under her breath. While that line generally worked on the mundane public, she'd forgotten that it probably wouldn't fly with a mathematical genius like Charlie Eppes.
Lindsey saved her by asking, "Does it really matter how these girls came to our attention?"
"I'm sorry, but it does. If there's something about these girls that's making them a target, then we need to know about it. You've admitted that they're special in some way. If your school isn't involved in their disappearance, then someone else must know about this specialty and is trying to exploit the girls because of it."
Continued... Chapter 5