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Potential Problem

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This story is No. 4 in the series "Slayers / CSI". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: 4th in the BtVS / Angel / CSI crossover series - Willow & Faith visit Vegas - COMPLETE - Spoilers to end BtVS season 7

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
CSI > CSI Las Vegas(Current Donor)MarcusRowlandFR13816,87413130,4112 Apr 0315 Jun 03Yes

VI

A Buffy the Vampire Slayer / Angel / CSI crossover. This story is the fourth in a series, the earlier parts are Should Have Gone To Vegas..., Manhunters, and Slayer, Las Vegas. They should ideally be read in that order, since the events of previous stories are mentioned. This story is set immediately after the Angel season 4 story "Orpheus", and contains spoilers for BtVS up to "Lies My Parents Told Me" and Angel up to "Orpheus". I've no idea where it fits in CSI continuity, if there is such a thing. Some events in this chapter won't make much sense if you haven't read Slayer, Las Vegas.

All characters are the intellectual property of their respective creators, film companies, etc.; this story may not be sold or distributed on a profit-making basis.

I'm British, so's my spelling. Live with it.



Potential Problem

By Marcus L. Rowland

VI

"What's the tactical situation?" asked Grissom.

Brass pointed at the plans of the hotel. "Our men found the bodies in this room here, with the girl standing over them. She shot her way out, they chased her to this room here, occupied by a family of four, parents and two kids. As far as we know they're all unharmed. One officer down in the corridor, sucking chest wound. Knife. He'll probably make it."

"Is she hurt at all?"

"Not that we know."

"Have you tried talking to her?"

"Of course."

"What does she want?"

"Hostage negotiator says she isn't making much sense."

"Willow, Faith, listen to the tape, see if there's anything there. Is there anything else CSI can do here, or should we concentrate on the other room and the corridor for now?"

"That's probably best. I'll let you know if the situation changes."

* * * * *

"Both maids have been dead for two or three hours," said Catherine. "Necks broken, looks like some sort of martial arts move."

"Could the Craig girl have done it?" asked Grissom.

"She was killing Dugan around the same time, and I think the Bringer bodies are much more recent," said Nick, "the ichor is still a little runny, not as gooey as it was with the other corpses."

"I think it'd take a lot more strength than any normal human," said Catherine, "as I understand it even Potentials aren't much above the top end of the normal range, they're not superhuman the way a Slayer is."

"We can rule out Faith," said Grissom, "she was with us throughout, so that leaves us with someone else. Someone extraordinarily strong."

"Not the Bringers, they use knives. Something else."

"Could be a vampire," said Nick, "they have the strength."

"And this room has open curtains and faces West," said Grissom. "The sun would have lit most of the room when the murders took place."

"We can't rule it out completely," said Catherine, "someone might have opened the windows after a vampire left."

"It's possible, but the simpler assumption is that the curtains were open all along. They've been hooked back, look pretty neat apart from the blood and ichor stains."

"Okay... yes, in fact there are a couple of stains on the window that wouldn't have been there if the curtain was closed."

"Okay, scratch that idea. Who actually booked the room?" asked Nick.

"You'll love this one," said Grissom, after checking, "It was booked in the name of Buffy Summers of Sunnydale, California."

"You're kidding."

"No."

* * * * *

"Each time I talked to her she ranted about a rock group," said the hostage negotiator. "Wants them to come here."

"Which one?" asked Willow, curious.

"Slayer."

"Figures," said Faith.

"Does she refer to 'Slayer' or 'The Slayer'?" asked Willow.

"Let's see..."; he rewound a tape and pressed play. "...get off your butts and get her here. Get the Slayer here.". He stopped the tape, and said "You're right, it's 'the Slayer'. I was convinced she meant the rock group. I think they're in town this week."

"Nope. She wants the Slayer. Think we should let her have her, Faith?"

"Depends what she's expecting," said Faith, "and why she wants her."

"This slayer is a person?" asked the hostage negotiator.

"That's right," said Willow. "Sounds like you need to talk to Captain Brass, he knows what we're talking about. Or someone else that worked with her last summer. Weren't you here?"

"No, I moved from Reno a few months ago."

"Okay. Talk to Brass please. Has she been calling you, or do you call her?"

"So far we've called her, she hasn't called out."

"Can I talk to her? I need to get a feel for her mind."

"You're a psychiatrist?"

"No. I'm a witch."

"You're a what?"

"Please... talk to Brass."

* * * * *

"Buffy's still in California," said Catherine. "I called her home number, spoke to Dawn then her."

"Ask Willow," said Grissom, "she might know what's going on."

"Ask me what?" Willow said from the doorway.

"This room was booked in Buffy's name. When we checked the security camera footage for the time she booked in there's nothing; the clerk's talking to an empty lobby."

"Okay, score another triumph for the First Evil. Booking into a hotel under a false name, yay!"

"Willow," Catherine asked, "are you okay?"

"Sorry. It's just... this thing is supposed to be the ultimate source of all evil, but most of the time all it can do is pretend to be dead people and try to creep people out. It can't even touch them. It's kinda petty."

"Dead people? Buffy's not.. oh."

"She was, and that's all the First needs."

"You had to spoil my fun," said a woman's voice from behind Willow. "I was hoping to cause the bitch a few problems." The CSI team looked up to see a blonde woman with a bleeding wound in her breast behind Willow.

"If I turn around," said Willow, "and you're looking like Tara as well as sounding like her I'll promise you now that whatever I finally do to you will last twice as long and be three times as nasty as it needs to be."

The woman morphed into a sneering man in his early twenties. "Yeah, you'd know about that, wouldn't you, bitch." He walked forward, passing through Willow as though he wasn't there.

"Warren," said Willow, "What a nice non-surprise."

"She killed me, you know. Not the only one. I'll show you." He held his arms out, and his skin was abruptly torn off before his body burst into flames. "Did I deserve this?"

"Well, you're you," said Willow, "whatever the hell you are, and that sure as hell isn't the real Warren, wherever he is. Although seeing as he murdered two people and tried for three I can't say he wouldn't deserve that. But you're an illusion, you don't even show up on photographs, which makes anything you might want to show to these nice people kinda irrelevant."

Warren reappeared, and turned into Buffy, saying "You're full of it, Willow. You nearly destroyed the world, and you won't even admit you killed Warren."

Grissom and Catherine exchanged horrified glances.

"If there was anything I wanted to admit to anyone I'd do it after you're history," said Willow. "You really think I'm gonna let my conscience stop me from whipping your ass first? Tell me something... Why the hell are you stuck imitating the ten best-dressed corpses from Sunnydale instead of all the Vegas talent. Where's Elvis? Where's Sinatra? Where's Tom Jones?"

"Actually Tom Jones is still alive," said Catherine, smiling despite the situation.

"Oh. That'd explain it, then, cos I sort of wondered, what with him being in the Austin Powers movie and all. Or was it Mars Attacks? But that kinda proves my point, cos' no way is this whatever-the-hell imitating him. I'll bet it can't even sing like him, let alone Elvis."

"So this is the first Evil," said Faith from the doorway. "Thought you'd look like Buffy. Blonde, vain, and kinda dumb."

It morphed to another form, a man with a stake impaled in his chest.

"That is so lame," said Faith, "Finch. You're a corpse. Big deal."

"You killed me, bitch."

"Yeah, accidentally, and I've done time for it, and when we're done with you I'm planning to go back for more. I'm with Willow on this, anyone as unimaginative as you doesn't deserve to win."

"Oh by the way," said Willow, "Thanks for showing up here, it really helps to make our point about how you're trying to frame Buffy."

Finch morphed into a horrific demon, snarled at Willow and Faith, then disappeared. Faith said "Has it gone?"

Willow seemed to look into nothingness for a moment, then said "I think so. Not in the immediate vicinity, my guess is it's either trying for the Potential... Patricia... or left town. This is just a sideshow for it, not something important. The main battle's in Sunnydale, and that's where most of its attention is."

"Why didn't it try for one of our dead?" asked Catherine. "Most of us have blood on our hands one way or another, people we could have saved if we'd been a little faster or cleverer. We've seen endless bodies."

"So have we. It probably didn't bother to get inside your heads and see which ones are important to you. My guess is that you're just not promising material for the sort of spook show the First puts on. You get... closure... from the way you deal with death."

"What was that about Warren? The person it said you killed."

"Warren Mears killed his girlfriend," Willow said flatly. "Then he tried to drive Buffy insane, and shot Buffy and killed my lover with a stray bullet. She was standing two feet from me when it happened. He went on the run, I'm really not expecting him to come back."

"And that ghost, or whatever it was? Wouldn't he have to be dead?"

"I think I've given you all the answer you're gonna get."

* * * * *

"What do you think?" Catherine asked when Willow and Faith had left the room. "It was bad enough that Faith's an escaped murderer, now Willow's as good as admitted that she killed this Meers."

"Not really," said Grissom. "We have nothing that would stand up in a court of law, and if it did ever come to that and the circumstances are as she describes I doubt that any jury would convict. Meanwhile we have a hostage situation and a crime scene to examine. Somebody killed the maids, and I don't think it was Craig or the Bringers."

"I think you should tell Brass," said Nick. "What that thing said about destroying the world... if Willow is capable of that, I'm a little uncomfortable with letting her get too busy with her magic."

"You may have a point. All right, I'll take care of it. You two carry on here."

* * * * *

"Captain Brass? I'm Willow Rosenberg. Can we talk privately?"

"Grissom explained who you are."

"Good. I need to talk to Patricia Craig, and your hostage negotiator guy won't let me."

"Sit down, Miss Rosenberg. What exactly did you have in mind?"

"Briefly, I want to find out what it is that she really wants, not just what it is she says the wants. In order to do that I need to talk to her, that'll let me attune my mind to her thoughts. It may also be possible to influence her."

"Can't you just listen to what she says?"

"No, the spell won't work properly that way."

"So you're planning to cast a spell. Isn't that a little dangerous?"

"For me, yes."

"What about the world?"

"The world is pretty safe provided things don't foul up too badly in Sunnydale over the next few weeks. There's a better chance that they'll be okay if I can get this finished and Faith and I head off ASAP."

"Faith. Yes... I've taken a look at her record. She seems to have had an interesting career. Not least her current status as an escaped felon. And it appears that she's a Slayer, which is something I really ought to have known earlier."

"Is she wanted in Nevada?"

"Not yet. But we'll have to arrest her and notify California."

"Okay. I guess that you can do that if you want to. There are unpleasant things I can do too."

"Threats, Miss Rosenberg?"

"A reminder. Do you remember your involvement in the Knights of Byzantium, Captain? The organisation you sent after a sixteen-year-old girl less than a year ago?"

Brass turned pale.

"Ever wonder why you never heard back from them, Captain?"

"Relieved would be the word. I hated having to make that call, but I thought it was my duty, now I'm not so sure."

"Now there you go, I can tell that you mean that. This is the sort of thing I want to do with our friend Patricia, just talk to her and find out what she wants."

"What happened to the Knights? Please."

"The first time they went after Dawn Buffy thought that they'd been wiped out. I wasn't so sure, it seemed to me that an army like that would have some organisation behind it, and might carry on as a threat even with Glory destroyed. So I did some research. And believe me I'm good at research, and that was at a time when I wasn't afraid to use my magic to get better results. My dossier on the Knights ran to more than four hundred pages. I passed it on to Riley Finn a year or so ago, and his outfit has been... neutralising... them for some time. Some have been retired, other are working for Finn and other agencies now, although they may not know it. When you phoned them your call ended up at a CIA office somewhere; eventually they got the details passed on to Finn, and out of courtesy he let me know. I knew that Buffy was working part-time for your department, so I asked him to leave it alone unless you went after her yourself."

"So you're blackmailing me?"

"No. I just wanted to remind you that we can all make bad decisions. I've made them, Faith's made them, and you've made them. But that doesn't mean that all of our decisions have to be bad. Faith wants to put things right and save the world. So do I. And I'm sure that in your heart of hearts you want to let us."

"And if I say no?"

"We do things your way, and I'd imagine at least one of the hostages will be killed. Faith will probably escape - in case you hadn't noticed she's at least as powerful as Buffy - and make her own way to Sunnydale. I hope that she won't hurt too many officers on the way. If you arrest me I'll also probably escape, and that will take some really dangerous magic with a good chance of tipping me over the edge. It'll probably end with both of us weaker in the final battle that's coming, and if we lose that it's probably game over for the human race. We really don't want to do these things, but there isn't a choice."

There was a long pause, then Brass said "Make your call."

To Be Continued
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