Disclaimers: Buffy the Vampire Slayer belongs to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy & Fox. Numb3rs belongs to CBS. (NOT ME!)
AN: ...OK. This ended up being quite a bit longer then I expected. Seriously, it was supposed to be just the phone call, but then it sort of kept going...and going...and going. Anyway, I hope you like it. Sorry for the wait.

Many thanks to katgurl and NeverTooOld for beta-reading First Meeting!

And I'll say more at the end, but for now: Enjoy! ^_^

Warnings: Spoilers for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, S3E2: "Dead Man's Party."

First Meeting

Part I in Mathematics & Magic

By Jess S

Epilogue: The First Call

Eppes' House, Pasadena, California – September 10, 1996


"Ch-Charlie?" a familiar, yet painfully tearful voice came through his phone.

The smile that had spread across Charlie's face when he'd read the caller ID a moment before turned into a frown. This wasn't how he was hoping to start Annie's first phone call from Sunnydale.

"Annie, what's wrong?" He asked, just as he realized that the anxiety he'd been feeling over the last two days may have been more Annie's than his. Apparently the increased distance didn't stop their bond, at least not for strong emotions. Not that knowing that really helped. It just let him know that Annie really was as distraught as she sounded on the phone.

"I-I w-want to come h—back. I want to come back. C-Can I come back?"

Charlie suppressed a sigh and tried to focus on things that he found calming, hoping that his much calmer emotional state might help sooth hers a couple hundred miles away. After a few seconds of thinking about hot cocoa and his mother's chicken soup, his mind quickly turned to math as an escape for anxiety. "Come back here, you mean?" he asked quietly, careful to keep his tone neutral. "To Pasadena?"

"Y-Yeah. Can I?"

The mathematician pushed back the large part of him that wanted to yell 'yes.' Knowing that it was the wrong answer, and hoping she didn't sense the repressed response. "Why don't you tell me why first?"

"Wh-Why I want to come back?"

"Yes. Was your mom mad? Giles? Willow? Xander? What's happened since my mom and I dropped you off on Sunday afternoon?"

Summers' House, Sunnydale, California – September 10, 1996


Buffy shook her head, wiping a hand across her eyes to get rid of the tears that were blurring her sight as she looked around her bedroom. A bedroom that barely felt like hers anymore, after living with the Eppes for so long.

A loud crash from downstairs made her wince as the noise was pounded into her head by a quickly worsening headache.

"What was that?" Charlie asked, the clear concern in his voice indicating the noise had been loud enough for him to hear it over the phone.

"I—um—I really don't want to know," Buffy sighed, shaking her head as images of any one of her mom's more breakable antiques downstairs now lying in ruins among the maniacs her friends had brought to her house.

After a moment she heard Charlie sigh again. "Come on, Annie. Talk to me. I can't help if you don't tell me what's wrong."

"Everything's wrong!" Buffy protested, a sob escaping her as more tears rushed out. "M-My friends d-don't want to talk to me! Or-Or do anything with me! Hell, they don't even need me for Slaying any more! Th-They've got this whole system—A-And I can't go back to school—I-I can't even go near the school! And my m-mom..." she shook her head, another sob jumping out. "She said m-me being here makes everything worse!"

Eppes' House, Pasadena, California – September 10, 1996


Charlie had wondered, when Annie started complaining, why she was asking if she could come back. She knew that Lily already had a room set up for her next door. His parents certainly would never turn her away, they'd all but adopted her this past summer. They probably would have, too, if his mom hadn't gotten the idea of match-making stuck in her head early on.

The more he thought about it, the only reason he could think of was that she really didn't want to leave Sunnydale. Subconsciously, at least, she knew she shouldn't. Maybe it was the Slayer urging her to stay on the Hellmouth. Maybe it was her sister-Slayer's need. Maybe it was Buffy clinging to her mom and her friends. But whatever the reason, a part of her wanted to stay, and she was calling him for reassurance. Well, that and apparently to rant a bit. Having figured that out, now he just had to hope that he was right and that he was able to live up to his expectations.

That mathematician winced at each complaint his friend uttered, closing his eyes and suppressing a sigh as the anger that had been building up halfway through her tirade seemed to depart when she mentioned her mother. Having figured that out, now he just had to hope that he was right and that he was able to live up to her expectations.

"P-Please, Charlie. I h-hate it here, c-can't I come back?"

"You're always welcome here, Annie," Charlie told her softly. "But are you sure that's what you want?"


"You've only been back in Sunnydale for around fifty-four hours, right? Don't you think you should give it a little more time?"


Charlie grimaced as he spoke, but forced himself to continue with a calm, neutral tone. "Don't your friends, your mom and the new Slayer deserve a little more time? Don't you?"

Annie was quiet for several long seconds, but then she released a defeated, weary sigh. "I—I guess so."

Charlie bit his lower lip thoughtfully, before telling her, "Give it a week."


"Give yourself, and your friends, one week. Call me every day, several times a day, if you need to talk. But if you still want to leave one week from today, my mom and I will come get you, okay?"

Summers' House, Sunnydale, California – September 10, 1996


Buffy closed her eyes and, after taking a deep breaths, nodded shakily. "O-Okay." She sat down on her bed next to her half-packed suitcase.

After a moment, Charlie spoke up again. "Hey, I have an idea. When I was away at Princeton, do you remember, I told you about how homesick I was there? Even with my mom there?"

"Y-Yeah, so?"

"So, one of my teachers talked me into going to a counselor for a few sessions, and—"

"You want me to see a shrink?" Buffy cut in, aghast.

"No! No. I want you to try something she had me do."

"Oh," Buffy sighed, and swallowed slightly before she continued. "What?"

"She had me keep a journal—or a diary, if you want—focusing on everything that happened to me each day, and how it made me feel." Charlie told her, his voice hopeful and affable. "I think you should do that, for at least the next week. You can write in a notebook. Or on your laptop. Wherever... just get it out."

"O-Okay, I, uh, I can do that." Buffy nodded, frowning slightly. "I think."

"You can write them as emails to me. Or fake letters to someone. Me, your mom, Willow—anyone. As long as you get some of what you're feeling out. Okay?" Charlie asked, still sounding hopeful. "You think you can do that? No one else ever has to see them, but—Okay?"

"Yeah. Yeah, I think so." Buffy nodded, glancing at her open bedroom door with a sigh as the loud music and party-noises from below came clearly up the stairs. "I'm, uh, I'm sorry for bothering you."

Eppes' House, Pasadena, California – September 10, 1996


Charlie shook his head forcefully, "Don't be silly, Annie. You can call me any time."

Annie was quiet for several long seconds, before a soft "Thank you." came through.

"You're welcome." Charlie replied, frowning as he hoped what he'd done and told Annie would actually help her. She was at the very least his dearest friend. The only friend he really had outside of academia, and one of the very few anywhere near his age. In many ways this summer she had taken his big brother's place as his protector, but unlike Don she needed him, too. And he wouldn't be able to live with himself it he let her down. After a long moment of silence, he sighed and shook his head. "You'll call me tomorrow evening?"

"Yeah. Yeah, I will." Annie replied, her voice still soft. "Thanks, Charlie."

"You're welcome, Annie." Charlie nodded, a small smile breaking through his frown at the warmth in her voice. But it disappeared again as he remembered one of the things she'd complained about a short time before. "Uh, Annie, what do you mean you can't go near your school? You were cleared of all the charges against you, weren't you?"

"Yeah," Annie replied, a distinct note of resentment working its way into her tone. "But the little troll that's in charge of the school doesn't care."

"The Principal won't let you back in?" Charlie's frown deepened. "On what grounds?"

"I'm destructive to school property when there are vampires or demons around or on it, and to students that attack me."

"Attack you?"

"Yeah, I was hanging out with the captain of the school swim team and he got a little grabby so I punched him—Snyder saw me break his nose and tried to have me suspended. Giles talked him out of it that time, but he's always wanted to get rid of me. So he's not going to let me back in."

"Wait a minute, wasn't Principal Snyder the one that first accused you of the murder and assault charges in the first place?"

"Y-Yeah. I was kneeling next to Kendra when he brought the cops in." Annie sighed, but Charlie was relieved to hear that much of the insecurity and misery she had been feeling a short time before seemed to have been replaced with irritation. "I, uh, I guess I should go, Charlie. Get back to the party before anyone worries."

"Right," Charlie nodded, forcing a smile and ignoring the feeling that Annie had no intention of returning to the party as he finished. "Goodnight, Annie. I'll talk to you tomorrow night."

"Yeah, tomorrow night. Goodnight."

Summers' House, Sunnydale, California – September 10, 1996


Buffy sighed, shaking her head as she started unpacking the bag she'd just finished packing when she'd decided to call Charlie a few minutes before. It barely took her a few seconds to put her all clothes away. Then she pushed the bag under her bed, and sat down again. She closed her eyes a moment in thought, then sighed and moved back to her closet to pull out the backpack she'd bought in LA and hadn't unpacked—or used at all—yet.

Moving over to her desk she sat down in the chair and opened it, pulling out the notebook and the book of problems Charlie had given her to work on.

It wouldn't be the same as working through it with him, but math and numbers were so much a part of who Charlie was. So she'd found as she struggled through the math problems with him that she couldn't help but find them a bit comforting too. At least when you did the problem right it always made sense. And she needed something to make sense right now.

She sighed again as she opened the book to the last page she'd worked on and opened her notebook to a new page, carefully writing the first problem out and focusing on it, trying to remember the way Charlie explained it to her. She chuckled slightly at the thought of having her new friend in her head, but when it came to math, there probably wasn't any better voice to be hearing. Hopefully he wouldn't talk to her when she was doing English-work though. She was bad enough on her own!

Eppes' House, Pasadena, California – September 10, 1996


Charlie hung up his cell phone and stared at it for several seconds, before he sighed and opened the phone book, scrolling through the list of numbers until he reached one of the many numbers he'd only recently added, and then hit 'send.'

The phone rang three times before an automated-voice answered. "California State Superintendent Mark Williamson's Office is currently closed. You may leave a message or call back during normal business hours, between the hours of eight-AM to five-PM. To leave a message for the superintendent, please press one and wait for the tone." (1)

Charlie shook his head with a rueful glance at the clock as he pressed one. Of course the office wouldn't be open well after nine P.M. He was surprised to hear the phone actually ring instead of offering the promised tone.

It only rang once, before the phone was picked up. "Mark Williamson," a somewhat familiar—weary sounding—voice answered.

"Hello, Dr. Williamson," Charlie replied, forcing the formal tone of voice he'd become accustom to using with high-ranking officials in academia. "This is Charles Eppes, we met last week at CalSci?"

"Yes, yes, hello Dr. Eppes! How are you?"

"Good, thank you. You're working late?" He noted, unable to keep curiosity out of his tone as he called attention to the obvious.

"Yes, well, school just started, so I have a lot of paper work to handle. And it's better to spend a few late nights at the office then the entire weekend, right?"

"I guess," Charlie agreed, laughing softly.

Still chuckling, the superintendent asked. "And what about you? Are you all ready for the upcoming semester? I know you don't have your office yet, and you still have a few months before you start, but there's nothing wrong with getting ahead. You might want to give some guest lectures and attend functions at CalSci this semester, too. Get to know your peers and your soon-to-be-students. I do hope you're not calling to quit? I don't think I could handle that right now."

"Quit? Oh no! No, no." Charlie shook his head forcefully from side to side for the second time that night. "No, I'm ready. Or as ready as I can be, I think. I've already put together my class plans for the first half of the semester. And I've spoken to Dr. Fleinhardt about a few guest-lectures, still have to clear it with the dean though."

"Good, good. So what can I do for you?"

"This, uh, actually has nothing to do with CalSci, I'm afraid. Actually, I probably should be calling someone else entirely, but when I heard about a problem with a school your name came to mind, so..." Charlie shrugged, trailing off uncertainly as it suddenly occurred to him that he was going much higher up in the school system then he probably should for this call.

"Nonsense, nonsense. I'm happy to help!" the other doctor replied, his tone as cheerful as Charlie remembered the man himself being when he met him at the welcoming luncheon for new professors as the California Institute of Science. "What's the problem?"

Charlie sighed, "A good friend of mine lost someone last spring. A friend of hers was murdered in her high school library, and she found the body shortly before the principle did. Apparently, her principal then accused her of the crime, scaring her into running. She's since been cleared of all charges, but Principal Snyder isn't willing to let her back into the school."

"I'm, uh, I'm really sorry to hear that, Dr. Eppes. Principal Snyder, you said? This is Sunnydale High School we're talking about, right?"

"Um, yes, actually," Charlie blinked in surprise. "How'd you know?"

Dr. Williamson sighed heavily, "I've been the Superintendent of Public Instruction in California for two years now, and in that time I've needed to oversee the hiring process for three principles. I remember Armin* Snyder. He's a real piece of work." The superintendent sighed again. "To be honest, I didn't want to hire him, but no one else was interested in the job." (2)

Charlie frowned, but nodded as the details of the previous principal's death came back to him. "Because of Principal Flutie."

"Well, uh, yes. Murder is bad enough, you know? But it's not every day that someone actually gets eaten in his office, and during school hours, too! The police said it was wild dogs, but there's been some speculation about it. So, while Snyder also came strongly recommended by Sunnydale's Mayor, he was also the only one that didn't seem to care about how Bob Flutie died and was willing to take the job there. For a higher salary then was originally offered, of course."

"Of course," Charlie replied, shaking his head as he also sighed. "It's just that it took me weeks to convince Annie that she needed to go back to school and complete her education. She's really a very bright girl, but from what she's said I'm the only person that's ever given her a chance to actually learn." Remembering Annie's comment on Snyder wanting her to be expelled, as well as the story behind it and several other stories of the trouble she tended to have with teachers at Sunnydale High, Charlie winced. "Actually, it sounds like Snyder and his staff go out of their way to make a lot of trouble for her."

"What makes you say that?"

"When the captain of the swim team, in her words 'got a little grabby' last year, Snyder saw and then tried to expel her for breaking his nose. The swim captain's, I mean." Charlie quickly clarified, not sure how much he really needed to turn the Superintendent against the principal.

"I see," Dr. Williamson replied, his tone unhappy. "How old is she?"

"Seventeen, now. I think she was sixteen, then." Charlie replied, shaking his head. "This is supposed to be her senior year. I don't know what it would do to her self-confidence if she has to repeat the year."

"Well, I don't think that'll be necessary. School just started, after all. Tell you what, I'll send one of my assistants to Sunnydale tomorrow to sort this out. I'll even go myself if I need to... Though I hope it doesn't come to that. I'd rather not have to look for a new principal, as the year's already started.."

"I, uh, I hope not too," Charlie agreed quickly, nodding. "And thank you."

"You're quite welcome, Dr. Eppes... Oh, and what was the young lady's name? Annie?"

"Oh, yes. Well, Anne's her middle name. Her full name is Buffy Anne Summers."

"Buffy?" the Superintendant chuckled, "Well, there's no doubt she was born in California. Does she go by Annie, then?"

"Not really. That's just what I've always called her. Most people know her as 'Buffy,' I believe."

"I see. Well, we'll see what we can do about her situation as quickly as possible." Dr. Williamson assured him, his tone serious before lightening a bit as he continued. "I look forward to seeing one of your lectures when you start in the spring. You'll send me a schedule of your classes?"

"Oh, uh, of course."

"All right, then. Have a nice night, Dr. Eppes."

"And you as well, Dr. Williamson. I hope you plan on going home soon?"

"Why what time is—Oh my. Yes, I'd better go now. My wife's going to have a few things to say to me already."

Charlie shook his head, suppressing chuckles. "Goodnight, Dr. Williamson." He hung up the phone and then sat down in his bed, glancing at the notebook he'd been working in before Annie called and then shaking his head, carefully setting his phone down on the bedside table as he lay back on his bed.

Maybe if he tried meditating now it would help Annie calm down, since their bond seemed to work both ways. However, his day must have been more tiring then he'd originally thought. Because he was asleep moments later, his sleeping hours to then be haunted by a creepy-looking mask and zombies.

Summers' House, Sunnydale, California – September 10, 1996


Buffy didn't know how much time had passed before she heard the footfalls of someone coming up the stairs and towards her room. Glancing over the three problems she'd managed to solve so far, and then at the seven more she still had to go, she sighed. One would think she'd be able to finish at least a full page without help or interruptions. She turned towards the doorway just as Willow raised her hand to knock on the open door.

"H-Hi, Buffy. What're you doing up here?"

Buffy sighed, shaking her head as she set her pencil down and turned towards her friend. "Nothing I guess."

"Don't you like the party?"

Buffy bit her lip and shrugged, almost saying 'yes' just to pacify her like she had downstairs, but then shook her head with a sigh. "Not really... it's too much, you know? I don't know most of those people," she shrugged and grimaced slightly, "and a bunch of them think the party's for me because I just got home from drug rehab."

"What?" Willow blinked, her eyes wide. "No. Who—"

"Nobody," Buffy shrugged again. "At least no one I know. Are you," She bit her lip and looked down for a moment, before forcing herself to look at her friend and meet her eyes. "Are you still avoiding me?"

"I'm not—"

Buffy raised an eyebrow at the redhead, who then sighed.

"I guess I am. I'm sorry. It's just—" Willow shook her head, and sighed. "It's not easy, Buffy! I know you're going through stuff, but... so am I."

Buffy winced, shaking her head, "I'm sorry for leaving and making you guys worry—"

"No! I don't just mean that." Willow cut her off, shaking her head again. "I mean, my life. You know? I-I'm having all sorts of—I'm dating. I'm having serious dating, with a werewolf. And I'm studying witchcraft and killing vampires. And I didn't have anyone to talk to about all this scary life stuff." The redhead finally met her eyes, which Buffy saw were just as tearful as her own had been a little while before. "And you were my best friend."

Buffy looked away for a minute, then forced herself to rise from her chair, making her way over to her tearful friend and gently slipping a loose arm around her tense shoulders, remembering all the times Charlie had done that for her this summer. "You have no idea how much I missed you." Buffy told her, with a gentle squeeze around her shoulders. "How much I missed everyone." She grimaced as Willow pulled away from her and took a few steps away before turning back to her, crossing her arms. "I wanted to call every day."

"It doesn't matter if you wanted to, Buffy," Willow shook her head. "It doesn't make it okay that you didn't."

"What's going on?"

Buffy jumped as her mom came in behind her, then turned slightly, taking a few steps back so that she could see both her mom and her friend easily. "Mom, please could you just give Willow and me a few minutes alone?"

"Is everything all right?" Her mom asked, looking between the two of them, then she froze as something else caught her eye. "What is that?"

Both girls looked towards the large backpack by her desk.

Willow frowned, her tearful eyes widening. "You're running away again?" her tone comprised of equal parts shock and horror.

"No!" Buffy shook her head, glaring at both of them. "No, I—that—It's just for school."

Her Mom visibly relaxed—if only a little bit—clear relief in her eyes as she nodded, glancing at the backpack again. "Is it new?"

"Yeah. It—I got it in LA."

"Oh. For school, th-that's good," Willow commented, clearly equal parts relieved and embarrassed. "When are you—What'd Principal Snyder say?"

Buffy started to respond, but stopped as her mom sighed.

"We're still working on that, I'm afraid. That despicable little rodent man is determined to keep Buffy out of school."

"Oh." Willow frowned, shaking her head. "Can he do that?"

"Legally?" her mom sighed again. "I don't think so. But we'll have to wait and see how it turns out." She glanced at Buffy. "What are you doing up here? Shouldn't you be spending time with your friends?"

"The people downstairs aren't my friends, mom. I don't know half of them, and most of the others I've only passed in the hallways at school or around town." Buffy shrugged, wincing as she brought a hand up to her now screaming temple. She'd had a headache for a while now, but it seemed to be getting worse. She frowned as she realized that said headache seemed to be bothering the Slayer too.

"Buffy? What is it, honey? Are you alright?"

"Y-Yeah, just a—" Buffy waved her hand slightly, shrugging again, only to wince as another pang of pain pounded through her skull. "Just a h-headache. I think." She winced again as the pounding increased, pounding the sounds that were coming from the party downstairs into her brain. "A-Actually," she shook her head. "Wil? Could you, um, maybe ask Oz to start clearing everyone out. I a-appreciate the idea, but—"

"N-No, no problem!" Willow cut in, shaking her head and frowning worriedly. "If you're not feeling well we'll party later. I'll, um, I'll just go tell Oz right now."

"Do you want help?"

Willow shook her head, "No, Mrs. Summers—"

"Willow, how many times do I have to ask you to call me Joyce?"

"Sorry, Joyce. Don't worry. We'll take care of it." Willow told her, before glancing at Buffy again. "I'll be back in a few minutes, okay?"

Buffy sighed as she sank down onto her bed, her hands coming up to her head as she winced in pain again.

"Honey, can I get you something? Some Tylenol maybe?" Her mom shook her head sympathetically as Buffy glanced at her again. "It's been a while since you've had such a bad headache, hasn't it?"

"Y-Yeah." Buffy agreed, sighing as she rubbed clockwise circles into her temples.

She used to get migraines occasionally, but they hadn't been an issue since she'd become the Slayer. She'd thought her super-healing power took care of it. Normally she only got headaches now if she took a blow to the head in a fight. Or—

Buffy froze abruptly as the realization struck.

She got headaches around strong demons and dark magic. Usually before or after a vision from the supposed Powers That Be.

Rising abruptly, Buffy kept her eyes closed and pulled her Slayer-senses to the front of her mind, struggling to listen to them as the Slayers-spirit rushed through her mind, making the pain lessen as she finally listened to what it was trying to tell her.

"Honey? What's wrong?"

"Sorry, mom, I've got to—" Buffy stopped abruptly, rushing through the door as she heard a loud crash from downstairs, followed by screams. "Stay here!"

Then she flew down the steps and into the living room just in time to see two strange looking men run through the now non-existent bay window, joining a third of their kind in attacking the petrified party-goers.

Quickly taking in the scene, Buffy winced as she heard another crash from in the kitchen, shouting at Xander and Cordelia even as she rushed into the living room to start fighting off the strange men, "Xander, kitchen!"

"I got your back!" the other teen replied, quickly running off with his girlfriend right behind him.

Buffy grunted as she knocked one of the men down with a punch and then kicked another back towards the window.

"Are these vampires?"

Buffy's eyes flew to her mom, who was clearly frightened, but struggling to help as the men—who Buffy suddenly realized looked and smelled like they should be dead, just like the cat from that morning—rose and came at her. Her mom threw a vase at him, momentarily halting his progress and making him stagger, giving Buffy the time to whack him down again and catch the stake that Willow threw to her.

"Buffy, heads up!"

Not really expecting it to work, she stabbed the stake in his heart anyway and watched as he froze for a moment, before ripping the stake out and slowly rising again.

"Nope," Buffy shook her head, "not vampires." Looking around, she shook her head. "We've gotta get 'em back outside." Seeing several people acknowledge her observation, she quickly grabbed one of the men even as she heard Willow, Oz and some of the band members struggling with another.

As she pushed one of the moving-dead-but-not-vampire-men towards the door, Buffy frowned as she saw dozens of other zombies—cause that's the only thing she could think of that they might be, though she'd ask Giles later—on her front yard, all intent on coming into the house. She stepped to the side to let her friends throw another zombie out, throwing in a punch and a hard push herself as it tried to escape their hold, before slamming the door behind it.

Buffy started thinking as she hurriedly slid the dead-bolt home. All of the zombies were coming here. All of them wanted to get into he house. But why?

They weren't after her. Or anyone else, really. They didn't seemed to be focused on anything. Just invading her home and killing anybody in their way. So this probably wasn't a zombie-army raised by some kind of dark-witch or demon to kill her.

Come to think of it, why had a cat been raised? She was tempted to ignore it, wincing as the zombies finally gave up on the door and instead focused on the windows again. But Charlie always said that every variable had to be considered. He'd usually add something about filters and equations, too, but she didn't really understand any of that. Just enough to know she really shouldn't ignore the cat. So what the hell was up with the cat?

Buffy ran into the living room as two more zombies managed to get in. She grabbed one that had some pretty nasty burns all over its face and chest, and threw it out the window. She nodded as her friends managed to catch the one—which had a gaping hole in its head—and throw him out after his friend.

Maybe it was because the cat had been close by? The zombies that were attacking now had to be from all over Sunnydale. But the cat had died in their basement and been buried in their front yard. The next day it was a zombie-cat that also wanted to get into the house...

And went straight for her mom's bedroom! Where the other zombies might be aiming for, as they were all staggering/fighting their way towards the stairs.

The cat ran up the stairs, into her mom's room and hid under the table that was right under the mask her mom had put up the night before it died—or at least right before Buffy found it's body.

Glancing around, she couldn't suppress a smile as she saw her friends cleverly blocking the large window with what looked like a table. Seeing that she did have a moment to think, Buffy quickly closed her eyes and focused inward, opening herself up to the Slayer as she'd done only rarely in the past.

It took barely a second to confirm what logic had already told her. Dark magic—like a demon—coming from upstairs.

Buffy nodded to herself and then glanced towards the living room again, where the band members were still trying to keep more of the monsters from coming in through the window. "Wil!" she called, continuing when the redhead turned to look at her worriedly. "Keep 'em busy, I'll be right back!" Without waiting for a reply, she dashed up the stairs, following the Slayer-sense as it pulled her towards the mask/demon.

When she reached the bedroom, she felt the Slayer snarl as her eyes fell on the creepy mask. Its eyes were glowing, and the demonic presence she'd been feeling was definitely coming from it.

Buffy took all this in even as she made her way towards the mask, snatching her mom's hammer off the bookcase shelf it'd been left on after her mom used it to hang the mask now too long ago. Then she was moving towards the mask again, not hesitating in the slightest as she swung the hammer all the way back and then forward, right between the mask's eyes with all her strength.

Partially smashed, it fell off the wall as she pulled the hammer back. The Slayer grinned slightly as she heard strange shrieks from downstairs, raising the hammer again and swinging it down onto the mask. And again, and again, continuing until the glowing-red eyes were shattered and the red-glow dimmed and then disappeared entirely, becoming the crushed and crumbling remains of simple black stone before the whole mask disappeared.

Then total silence reigned through the house for several moments, until finally she heard people starting to move hesitantly about downstairs. Hearing no more sounds of combat or panic, and sensing that her demonic adversary was gone, Buffy nodded in satisfaction. She set the hammer down where the mask had fallen before heading back downstairs.

All eyes turned to her as she entered the living room, and she smiled as her mom ran over to her, seizing her in a quick hug.

"Honey! Are you alright?"

"I'm fine, mom," Buffy told her, giving her a gentle smile before looking around. "Everyone okay?"

"Uh, I don't think so." Xander's voice came from the hallway that led to the kitchen and everyone hurried towards him. He was kneeling on the floor next to the body of an older woman, Cordelia hovering behind him.

"Oh God, Pat!"

Buffy watched her mom run forward, her eyes sad. A less than welcome perk of the Slayer package was that she could sense life, even more so now that she had started trying to work on her empathetic abilities to help understand her bond with Charlie. She wasn't sensing anything from her mom's friend. And a glance over the older woman's form confirmed her suspicions as she noticed that the woman's neck was definitely broken.

"Is she—?"

"She's dead!" Mrs. Summer's cut off Willow's question, looking up at all of them with panicked eyes. "My God, she's dead!"

Before she could think of anything to say to this new development, Buffy heard quick, familiar footsteps coming up the front steps and turned just in time to see her Watcher pushing the heavily abused door open: apparently the dead-bolt had been defeated by the dead-army while she was slaying the mask.

"Buffy!" Giles breathed a sigh of relief, "Is everything—" He stopped as his eyes fell on the dead body they were gathered around, and he sighed again, this time in regret. "Is everyone else all right?"

"Yeah," Buffy confirmed after a glance around, seeing no injuries beyond a few bruises. "We're all good. The zombies—were they zombies?"

"Yes, Buffy," the Watcher confirmed with a small smile, the rest of his expression a small battle between surprise and pride. "They were zombies, what happened to them?"

"Well, I think they killed some of the kids that were partying here, but everyone they killed rose right away as a dem—I mean zombies, too. They disappeared when I destroyed the mask." Buffy winced as she admitted that, shooting her mom an apologetic look. "Sorry, mom. I had to slay your mask."

"My mask? What—"

"The Nigerian mask you recently acquired held the power of a zombie demon," Giles cut in, his tone gentle, but something in his expression telling Buffy that he was at least a little annoyed with the situation. "It's name was Ovu Mobani, or Evil Eye." He raised an eyebrow at the Slayer, "How did you know to destroy it?"

Buffy shrugged slightly, one hand going to her head, the headache that had been developing before now thankfully gone. "It was giving me a headache."

"So the mask was calling the zombies here?" Xander asked, shaking his head slightly. "Not that I know anything about 'the mask' besides what you three have said right now in front of me..."

"Yes, Xander. The spirit of Ovu Mobani was trapped in the mask, which then had the demon's abilities to raise the dead as zombies, using power generated by nearby living beings. That," Giles told Buffy, "was undoubtedly what was giving you a headache."

"It was stealing my energy?" Buffy frowned, and then shook her head. "I didn't feel tired."

"No, I don't doubt that your powers were fighting Ovu Mobani on the spiritual plane. The powers of the Slayer are more then just the physical ones you use most often, after all. Mobani probably could not steal much, if any, of your energy. But it could steal from others. It stole your mother's last night, to raise the stray cat. And—"

"It was feeding on the party to raise all those other zombies?" Willow guessed, smiling slightly when Giles nodded his agreement with the educated guess.

"Well, what you have happened if they got the mask?" Oz asked, coming up beside his smiling girlfriend to wrap a gentle arm around her shoulders.

"If one of the zombies had managed to put the mask on, it would have become the demon incarnate."

"Worse then a zombie?" Cordelia guessed and Giles nodded, looking a bit irritated again.

"Yes, considerably worse." The Watcher confirmed, before looking at his Slayer's eyes. "How did you know to destroy Mobani's eyes, Buffy?"

"His eyes?" Buffy shook her head and shrugged again. "I just grabbed a hammer and kept hitting it until it disappeared."


Everyone turned towards the body again at Mrs. Summers's startled exclamation, just in time to see the corpse finish fading slowly out of existence.

"What? Where did she go?"

Giles sighed again, shaking his head and taking his glasses off, a handkerchief suddenly in his hand to clean them with as he explained. "She must have died while Mobani's power was still present and focused. Thus, like all of the zombie you were just fighting, her body has been pulled into the demon's native dimension." Putting his glasses back on he moved forward, easily moving between the uncomfortable teenagers before reaching down to pull the still stunned Mrs. Summers to her feet. "I'm sorry, Joyce. But nothing can be done for it."

"But, she needs a funeral and—"

"Her body no longer exists. Mobani's power claimed it, and when that power was forced to leave this dimension the bodies it had claimed went with it, and were undoubtedly destroyed in the passage, becoming pure energy."

"So defeating Ova, um, Evil-Eye-guy really just made him stronger?" Xander asked, frowning. "How does that work?"

"No, not stronger, Xander," Giles shook his head, giving Mrs. Summers' shoulder a gentle squeeze before releasing her. "The return of the excess power was more what mages—or magic-users—would call a magical backlash. And a very severe one. What's more, he no longer has any connection to this dimension. At least not unless there are more masks made in his honor and empowered with demonic rituals." At the looks everyone was then giving him, he shook his head. "Which is very unlikely, I'm happy to say."

"Oh, good." Buffy nodded in relief. Then winced as she looked around, taking in the massive amounts of destruction the party-turned-battle had reaped on her house.

"Yeah," her mom agreed with a sigh. After a moment the older woman looked around, shaking her head slightly. "So, is this a typical day at the office?"

"No," Buffy grinned teasingly, wrapping an arm around her mother's shoulders. "This was nothing." Her grin widened at the wide-eyed look her mother sent her.

"Hey, uh, nice moves there, Buff."

Buffy's grin turned into a full blown smile as she turned back to her friend. "You too, Xander. You too."

Snyder's Office, High School, Sunnydale, California – September 11, 1996


Giles shook his head as he stepped into the high school principal's office to be met with an angry glare. "I'd like to have a word with you."

"If that word is 'Buffy,' then I have two words for you—good and riddance." The principal replied, his tone harsh as he finished packing his briefcase and snapped it closed. "Now, if you don't mind, I have an appointment with the mayor."

"You can't keep her out of this school," Giles objected, shaking his head as he tried to reason with the obstinate man. Now knowing that he had the Council's support in helping Buffy return to school in Sunnydale, the Watcher felt much more confidant in challenging the local authority figure. The Council had a great deal of influence all around the world, after all, including within the United States government to some degree.

Snyder chuckled as he slipped his jacket on, shaking his head and smirking. "I think you'll find that I can."

"You had no grounds for expelling her."

"I have grounds, I have precedent. And a tingly kind of a feeling."

"Buffy Summers is a minor and is entitled to a public education. Your personal dislike of the girl does not legally entitle you—"

"Take it up with the city council, then," Snyder suggested, pushing by him.

"I thought I'd start with the state supreme court," Giles retorted, smirking as he turned to watch the school principal stop in his tracks. "I understand that you're powerful in local circles, but I believe I can make life very difficult for you, professionally speaking," he told the man, his smirk widening. "And Buffy will be allowed back in."

Snyder stared at him for a moment, before shaking his head. "Sorry. I'm not convinced."

Giles grabbed the younger man's collar as he turned to leave and pulled him back several feet, slamming him into the wall. "Would you like me to convince you?"

Before the startled authoritarian could reply, a knock at the door made Giles set him down and step back slightly, raising an eyebrow at him.

Again, Snyder stared, but the librarian's raised eyebrow seemed to bring him out of it. "What?" he snapped towards the door, then watched as it opened and his secretary of the month stuck her head in hesitantly.

"P-Principal Snyder, sir, Mr. Walters* is here to see you." (3)

"Who?" Snyder snapped, frowning. "I have a meeting with the mayor in a half-an-hour, I can't—"

"He's from the California Superintendent's office," the secretary cut in, before blinking, clearly surprised at her own bravado as she hurried on. "He just got here from LA. And he says it's important."

Both Snyder and Giles stared at her in surprise. A visit from the state was a relatively rare occurrence, and surprise visits were generally non-existent.

Suddenly Snyder shook his head, quickly snapping. "Very well, send him in. And call the Mayor's office. Tell them I'll be a late, due to an emergency."

"O-Of course, sir."

As the secretary ducked out to fetch the visitor, Snyder turned to snap at Giles. "Now if you'll excuse me, Mr. Giles, I will take your concerns under consideration and—"

"Actually, I think I will stay," Giles cut in, smirking again. "Perhaps the Superintendent will be more interested in Miss Summers welfare then you yourself are."

Before Snyder could muster a reply a young man in a business suit entered, briefcase in hand and a pleasant smile on his face. "Good afternoon, Principal Snyder," he paused just inside the doorway and glanced at Giles.

Knowing Snyder wouldn't introduce him, Giles stepped forward. "Good afternoon, Mr. Walters. I am Dr. Rupert Giles, the school librarian."

"Mr. Giles was just leaving," Snyder snapped, shooting a glare at the older man, which was promptly ignored.

"Actually," Walters spoke up before Giles could. "It might be best if he stayed, I believe the matter I am here to discuss concerns him."

"Oh, how so?" Giles inquired, honestly curious and pleased, carefully repressing a smirk much more skillfully than Snyder was hiding his annoyance.

Walters nodded and quickly crossed the office, setting his briefcase on Snyder's desk before opening it and shuffling through the files inside. After a moment he found what he wanted, pulled it out and nodded as he quickly skimmed the first page. "Yes, I thought so."

"What is—" Snyder started to snap his question out, but stopped abruptly as Walters ignored him, cutting him off.

"I had a number of files faxed to me from your office this morning, Mr. Snyder. Incident reports, and whatnot."


The younger man shrugged, "The superintendent received a complaint he could not ignore. Tell me, why did you attempt to suspend Miss Buffy Anne Summers this past April after her altercation with Cameron Walker?"

"What?" Snyder blinked in surprise, but quickly hurried on, "Well, he was—she broke his nose!"

"From several witness accounts collected by Dr. Giles she only did so in self-defense," the assistant superintendent replied with a nod towards the librarian, though his cold eyes were focused on the principal as he continued, his tone hard. "And yet you took no action against Walker?"

"He was on—He was the injured party!" Snyder objected.

"The California education system seeks to provide all students with a rigorous and challenging, but safe, environment, so that they may develop skills and confidence for academic and professional success, as well as to encourage intellectual, artistic, and personal exploration and growth." Walters brandished the file he'd pulled out at them before setting it down. "We do not ignore sexual harassment or poor academic performance just because the offending student is a good athlete."

"Yes, but—"

"Furthermore, your manipulation of the review board only a few weeks later—when Miss Summers was unfortunate enough to stumble upon a murdered friend's body, who's name, I notice was not in the file—was a gross abuse of administrative powers. Though expulsion would have been a proper course of action if Miss Summers had been guilty of the crimes you charged her with, that did not give you grounds to hurry the review board's decision before the police had concluded their investigation and found Miss Summers innocent."

"She attacked an officer!"

"The officers at the scene later admitted to behaving inappropriately at the scene," Walters held up another file. "And they chose against pressing charges."

"Yes," Giles cut in before Snyder could protest again. "I was just explaining to Principal Snyder that he had no grounds on which to expel Miss Summers, only personal dislike, which doesn't qualify as grounds to deny her a public education."

"And the Superintendent agrees with you," Walters nodded again. "Which is why Miss Summers will be starting school again, here, next week."

"You c—"

"Mr. Snyder, I should warn you that your employment is currently on very unstable grounds. Superintendent Williamson is not pleased with you."

"That girl is delinquent. A reckless, trouble—"

"That may be," Walters pulled out another, very thick file. "But many members of your staff and the student body disagree. Since Miss Summers was expelled your office had received hundreds of letters protesting your decision. Letters that your previous secretary dutifully filed and your present secretary faxed to my office this morning, though apparently she had to open them first."

Giles blinked in pleased surprise at the thick file while Snyder stared in horror.

"So you are here to see that B—Miss Summers is reinstated?" Giles asked, and smiled as the younger man nodded, all the while wondering how the Council had managed to move so quickly, as he'd only spoken to them about it just this morning.

"In part," Walters confirmed with a nod. "I am also here to inspect the school, including the staff and yourself, Mr. Snyder."

Outside the office, Snyder's secretary started when a startled "WHAT?" resonated through the closed door.

Eppes' House, Pasadena, California – September 16, 1996


Charlie smiled as he clicked 'keep as new' to save Annie's e-mail. He was happy to see how much she'd improved in just the last few days. The part of him that was still just barely aware of her emotions had already known this, but it was nice to hear—or at least read—it from her, herself.

She had started school again, with two weeks of work to catch up on over the weekend. Mostly in the form of tests and essays. But all in all she was just happy to have her life back on track.

Her sister-Slayer—as she had started calling the other Slayer since she first became consciously aware of her existence—still worried her. One would think the other Slayer should have arrived by now, but realistically they didn't know how the girl was traveling, or how far her journey was. Kendra had been from Jamaica, but the new girl could be from Egypt, Australia, or even just the other side of the country if she had no means of long-distance transportation available to her.

Her friends were happy to have her back. Some words had apparently been exchanged on her long absence, mostly in the form of teasing from Willow, but for the most part all was well.

Annie wasn't quite sure why no one had really asked her about her time in LA after her first night back, when Giles had chided them about giving her time. They seemed intent on focusing on how she hadn't been in Sunnydale, with them, not where she had been. More disturbingly, she sensed empathetically that the topic made them uncomfortable to a great degree, making her wonder just what they thought she had been doing in LA.

Cordelia had asked if she'd been living in a box at one point, but then immediately dropped the subject. Xander had done the same after blurting out something to the effect of 'how much had she been pimping herself out for?' Her mother had apparently been worried about her being dead in a ditch somewhere. Willow and Giles were the only ones who hadn't made a big deal about her disappearance. Since her first discussion with Willow, as well as going to a café in the mall with her for coffees and meeting with both her and Giles to catch up on her studies in the library, Willow had teased her a few times, but that had been it. Still, she seemed very uncomfortable with the subject. Giles hadn't said anything about it either, the closest he'd come in fact was asking what she though they should focus on in her training, all but asking if she had been training at all in her absence. And again, the mention of her being away from Sunnydale made him instantly uncomfortable.

It had been nice the first few days, but it was starting to annoy her. Even her mother hadn't asked about where she'd been, just brushed the discussion aside when Buffy mentioned it offhand, saying she wanted everything to get back to normal.

As a result, no one in Sunnydale knew about Charlie or his parents, who had welcomed Annie into her home for months. They knew nothing about the hell dimension Annie had rescued so many people from, or the shelter and supernatural-watch-organization that they had then formed shortly thereafter.

Reading about this, a part of Charlie really wanted to pick up the phone and just call Annie's home phone number. He had it for emergencies, just so he'd be able to contact Annie if she wasn't answering her cell phone. Necessary because she usually had hers turned off, except in the evenings that Charlie might call, or when she called him. But he really wanted to call in the early morning, when Annie would have left for school already and her mom would be the only one there. Just to say "hi" and introduce himself.

A part of him was indignant at the fact that some of Annie's friends thought she had been either living on the streets or in some kind of brothel while in LA. For one thing, she had managed to get herself a job and an apartment when she came here. And yes, she hadn't been taking the best of care of herself, but she had been managing relatively well. If she hadn't been severely depressed because of Angel's death—at her hands—she probably would have done better, but even then she had managed to support herself. And he couldn't understand how her friends, people who's lives she had saved and protected on a regular basis, could doubt her quite so severely.

Still, he knew the phone-call-idea wasn't a good one. For one thing, if he called at midnight, he might get Annie and the late hour might scare her. Then she'd be angry with him.

For another, it was just a bad idea.

Much as he wanted to be more involved in Annie's life as it was, they were going in separate directions at the moment. He was following his dream and becoming a college professor, already having become a star in the field of mathematics with his cognitive emergence work and Annie was guarding the Hellmouth and finish high school.

The bond between them would keep them together, he knew. From what the witches he'd spoken to so far—members of the LA covens that had befriended Lily and everyone involved with the watch-group shortly after it'd been formed—that bond was likely to last forever and grow stronger. To stop that, they'd have to totally stop all contact with one another, which would mean never speaking to each other or even thinking about one another. The only other thing they could do was magically sever the bond, something every witch he'd spoken to vehemently discouraged.

The more common bond between them was just as strong though. A bond of friendship forged by the trials of near-death-experiences, demon-hunting, a visit to a hell, as well as living together and learning from each other for several weeks on end.

Everyone who knew Annie and Charlie and had seen them together at any point in time assured him that their friendship was not likely to fail. Sure, they might fall out of touch for a little while, provided nothing life-shattering, painful or terrifying happened to spike the empathetic bond, but when they met up again the initial awkwardness would fade quickly.

And their mystical-empathetic connection would help too. It wasn't like they'd really need to talk about their emotions. They might have to explain said emotions from time to time, but they'd already know what each other was feeling all the time. But they also wouldn't be able to lie, which should be a good thing, he hoped.

Yes, he missed her. And he worried for her. But he knew they'd meet again. And when they did, he'd undoubtedly get to meet her friends and set the record straight. Until then, he just had to be patient. Get on with his life, help when and where he could, and live.

They'd meet again.


End of Epilogue: The First Call.

The End of

Mathematics & Magic – Part I

First Meeting

By Jess S

AN: I do realize that the epilogue is longer than some of the chapters, but I decided against cutting it up and making it another chapter and the last scene the epilogue on the basis that the story itself is Charlie and Buffy meeting, so the body of the story is about their time together, not apart. If enough people protest, I might change it. I might not. (Honestly, at the moment I'm more concerned about getting on to the next story in the series. Especially since the story that I actually planned this whole series around is the fifth or sixth story in the series now. I think.)

Some notes from within the chapter itself:

(1) & (3) – Superintendent Mark Williamson and Assistant Superintendent 'Mr. Walters' are obvious original characters that I pulled out of nowhere. Also, I did do a little bit of research into the Education System in the state of California, but I really have no idea how the administration system works. Still, I'm hoping that what I threw together makes sense.

(2) "Armin" Snyder – To my knowledge, Joss never gave Principle Snyder a first name, so I just used the first name of the actor who portrayed him, Armin Shimerman.

Anyway, I hope everyone liked the epilogue and the story as a whole.

Happy Holidays! :-D


Jess S


A Call Away

Part II in Mathematics & Magic

By Jess S