Title: Magic in Numbers
Author: Elisabeth
Email: dragonydreams@yahoo.com
Website: http://www.dragonydreams.com
Rating: PG-13
Fandom(s): BtVS/Numb3rs
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: slayerverseathon, 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 Angel's Kuupio, Emmy and KallieRose 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'.

Magic in Numbers

Chapter 1

Don Eppes slipped his sunglasses into the pocket of his blazer as he walked towards the apartment complex. His eyes idly followed the pretty redhead that was coming from the building, heading to her car. He squinted against the mid-day sun, forcing himself to re-focus on the case at hand.

He glanced to his right, noticing that Megan looked just about as excited as he was to have pulled this assignment.

"You ready for this?" he asked her.

"Never am, but that hasn't stopped me yet," she answered, ringing the doorbell of the apartment they'd stopped in front of.

A haggard-looking woman opened the door, brushing a loose piece of hair from her face. "May I help you? This really isn't a good time."

"Mrs. Stewart? My name is Don Eppes, this is Megan Reeves, and we're from the FBI. Could we have a moment of your time?"

"Have you found my daughter?" she asked hopefully.

"Not yet," Megan answered. "We'd like to ask you some questions about her disappearance, though."

"Of course, come in."

They followed her inside the poorly lit apartment. Dust motes floated in a shaft of light peeking through the parted curtains, trying to dispel the gloominess of the room.

"Would you like something to drink?" Mrs. Stewart offered, taking a seat.

"No, thank you," Megan said.

"Ma'am, we just have a few questions regarding Casey's disappearance. Now, according to the police report, you said that Casey didn't come home from school yesterday. Is that correct?"

"Y-yes. She's supposed to take the bus home after cheerleading practice and then start her homework when she gets in."

"Is that the school bus or city bus?" Megan interrupted.

"City bus. Anyway, when I got home from work last night, she wasn't here. I thought that maybe she'd just gone to one of her friends' houses without telling me. She does that sometimes, no matter how often I've asked her not to..."

"I take it none of her friends had seen her?" Don asked.

She shook her head. "Not since school."

"Well, I'm going to need a list of her friends, so that we can talk to them," Don said.

"Of course."

"Can you think of anyone at all who would want to harm her, you or your husband?"

"Ex-husband. And no. We just go about our lives. We're nobody important."

"Have you been contacted at all?" Megan asked. "Have there been any ransom demands?"

"Not yet. Is that bad? That's bad, isn't it? There should have been some kind of demand. Unless she's already dead!"

"Let's not jump to conclusions," Megan said, trying to stave off a panic attack.

Don picked a photograph up from a bookshelf. "Is this Casey?"

A small smile lit up Mrs. Stewart's face. "Yes. That's from the cheerleading semi-finals. They came in second place that night."

"We'll find her," Megan assured her, glancing nervously at Don.


"No luck?" Colby asked, taking in the somber faces on Don and Megan.

"Nada," Don confirmed. "Any word from Sinclair?"

"He's still out talking to one of the families," Colby answered.

"That's five girls missing in Los Angeles County in a week," Megan said, looking over the board of victims.

"What is it about these girls?" Colby asked. "There doesn't seem to be any connection between them. They all go to different schools, no two identical after school activities, all different races. Heck, one girl isn't even here legally."

"There's gotta be something we're missing," Don said.

"What's missing?" A new voice asked.

"Hey, Charlie. What're you doing here?" Don asked his brother.

"Oh, nothing. Dad wanted me to see if you were going to be coming by for dinner tonight. Said something about you not eating enough. So what's all this?"

"Missing girls," Megan announced, a touch of sadness in her voice.

"I can see that," Charlie agreed, looking over the information on each of the girls on the board. "Would you like me to take a look at their files? I can run a comparative analysis to see if any patterns appear that you may have missed. Give me what you have on the girls and I'll see what I can link together."

"Yeah? That'd be great," Don said.


Chapter 2

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.


Chapter 3

"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."


Chapter 4

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."


Chapter 5

Charlie pulled Don into the hallway. "Why don't you let me try talking with Willow alone," he suggested.

"What, you think she'll open up to you because she's a fan?" Don asked.

"Fan? What? Me, no," Charlie answered, clearly flustered by that idea.

"Don't tell me you didn't notice how she was practically bouncing at meeting you," Don teased his brother. He constantly marveled at how oblivious Charlie was to women.

"Only on an intellectual level," Charlie insisted. "But do you think that will help?"

"Her clear infatuation with you? I don't see why not," Don said. "Who knows, maybe you'll even get lucky."

"Don't be absurd," Charlie protested. "Not only would it be unethical, it would be..."

"C'mon Charlie, when's the last time you got laid?"

Charlie crossed his arms over his chest, defensively. "That's none of your business."

Don chuckled. "Let's see how that answer changes after this investigation. Alright, go charm the pants off her," he said with a wink.

Charlie paced for a minute outside the interrogation room before successfully putting aside Don's wild notions and returning to speak with Willow.

"Willow, would you like to join me for dinner?" he asked her.

Willow glanced at Lindsey. "We're done here? They're letting me go?"

"Well, technically, you're not under arrest. And I'm not an FBI agent, so there's no real reason why we can't have a meal together."

"Are you planning on discussing the case?" Lindsey asked.

"Perhaps. I'm not trying to trick you into giving anything away. I promise," Charlie said.

"Willow, I don't think this is a good idea," Lindsey said.

"I'm a big girl, Lindsey. I think that I can decide whether or not I want to have dinner with someone." Turning back to Charlie, she said, "Which I'd love to do."

"Excellent. I-I'll just grab my briefcase and we can head out," he said.

"Willow..." Lindsey started, once Charlie had left the room.

"I know, I know," Willow cut him off. "I'll be careful. But c'mon Lindsey, he's Charlie Eppes. Charlie Eppes asked me out for dinner. Did you really expect me to say no?"

"Frankly, I'd never heard of him before. And since when did you swing that way?" he teased.

"Swing? There's no swinging. I mean, yes, he's attractive in a scholarly, drool-worthy way, but that doesn't mean that there's been swinging over here."

"Really? And when's the last time you went out on a date with a woman?" Lindsey asked.

"You know that I haven't dated anyone since Kennedy and I broke up before she left for Brazil," Willow said.

"Well, you certainly picked a cute one to switch sides for," Lindsey commented.

"Careful, or I'll tell Angel you were checking out the guys at the FBI," Willow said.

"You wouldn't," Lindsey challenged her.

"Oh, wouldn't I?" Willow rebutted, laughing.

"Are you ready?" Charlie asked, returning to the room.

"Yes. Do you mind if we go get my car first? I wasn't allowed to drive it here," Willow said.

"No problem. Except that I don't have a car," Charlie said.

"Lindsey? Mind dropping us off at my car? It's at the Bennetts'."

"Sure, why not?" he agreed.


Chapter 6

"So tell me," Charlie began, after placing their orders with the waiter, "how are you locating these girls?"

Willow nervously shifted in her chair, unsure of how to get around his questions without giving away the truth. She was dealing with a man of science, after all.

"Oh, you know, the usual way. I created a data mining program that was distributed to the schools in the area, which is set to single out students that meet our criteria," Willow said with a shrug.

"C'mon, you don't need to dumb things down with me," Charlie pressed. "I've been over the files on these girls and aside from a slight increase in physical altercations, I haven't been able to find any reason that these girls would be 'special', let alone singled out to attend a school for 'special' girls. Besides, your students aren't just from this area. They're from all over the world."

"Trust me, you don't want to know the real way that I found these girls," Willow muttered.

"Why is that? Is it something so simple that I'm overlooking it?" Charlie asked.

"No, it's rather the opposite," Willow admitted. "Believe me, it's not something that you, as a scientist, would consider."

"I think I'm offended," Charlie said. "Please elaborate."

Willow took a deep breath, trying to decide if she should tell him the truth. She knew that he'd never leave it alone now that his curiosity had been piqued. She was the same way when faced with a mystery.

"Do you believe in magick?" she asked quietly, leaning forward in her seat.

"Don't be absurd," Charlie refuted. "Magic is nothing more than sleight of hand and optical illusions. It's as fantastical as a grown man thinking that he is psychic. And what does that have to do with finding the girls?"

"I'm not talking about magic tricks. Those are for amateurs. I'm talking about spiritual, natural magick."

"There's no such thing," Charlie insisted.

"See, I told you that you wouldn't believe me," Willow said.

Charlie laughed. "You're trying to tell me that you used magick to find the girls?"

"Yes. I used a locator spell to find each of the girls that attend the school," she evenly said.

"Come on," Charlie said, still laughing. "If you don't want to tell me what your data mining criteria are, then don't. You don't need to make up fanciful stories to keep your secret."

Willow sighed. "This is why I didn't want to get involved with the Feds," she mumbled. "No belief in the supernatural."

"I hate to burst your bubble, but there is no supernatural," Charlie said.

"No, I hate to burst yours," Willow countered, "but there is."

"You really believe your delusions, don't you?" Charlie asked.

"They aren't delusions. I am a witch, a good one mind you, but a witch nonetheless," Willow calmly stated.

"Great, next you're going to tell me you fly around on a broomstick at night," Charlie joked.

Willow paused as the waiter brought their food, before responding, altering her tactics. "You know, I used to think that way too. Magick, witches, demons, vampires - they were just stories told to children to scare them into being good. Sometimes I wish that I hadn't learned the truth. But it's real. All of it. There are forces in the world bigger and scarier than you can imagine."

"Oh, I believe that there is evil in the world. I've been working with the FBI long enough to know that," Charlie said.

"Human evil is nothing compared to some of the things that I've faced," Willow said. "But you're not just going to take my word for it, are you? Of course not. You need to see what I'm talking about for yourself."

"Willow, what you're talking about doesn't exist," Charlie insisted.

"Then let me show you that you're wrong," Willow offered. "Come with me after dinner and I'll show you why my prospective students are being kidnapped. Then maybe you'll all let me get back to trying to find them."

"You think that you can find the missing girls, all by yourself?" Charlie asked in disbelief.

"By myself? No. But with my friends, absolutely," Willow said with a definitive nod of her head.

"Fine, I'll humor you," Charlie said. "Show me your world of the supernatural."



Send Feedback