Act 4

Fade In:


Animal Rescue – Early Afternoon

Rowena walked into the animal rescue center to find a young man smiling at her from behind a desk. He rose to meet her.

“Good afternoon,” he greeted her. “What brings you by today?”

“The search for unconditional love,” she replied with a gentle smile.

“Feline or canine?” he asked with a smile.

“I like dogs, but I think a cat’s more my speed,” she answered pointing to one of the cages. “I work long hours and I wouldn’t feel right leaving a dog alone at my place all that time.”

“Well, step over here,” he said, pointing to the cages. “We’ve got kittens or cats. Any preference?”

“Something litter trained, fixed. Like I said, I don’t have a lot of time but a tabby to curl up with after work would be nice,” she answered.

“I might have just the gal you’re looking for,” he replied. “Down here.” He motioned her to follow.

They walked to a cage containing a brown tabby and a tuxedo cat, both asleep. “These little ladies were dropped off a few weeks ago when their owners couldn’t keep them. They had to move and their new place wouldn’t allow pets.”

“Anything wrong with them?” Rowena asked as she looked inside the cage and they started to stir.

“No, all of our animals get a clean check-up.”

“Oh no,” Rowena replied quickly. “I was just curious why no one has taken one of them yet. They’re both pretty cute,” she said, putting her fingers in the cage. Both cats stirred even more and came over and started to rub and lick her finger.

“Most people want kittens a couple months old, something they can raise. So it’s more difficult to find a home for our older cats. These two are great with kids, too, from what the owners said, so if you’ve got kids they’re used to them.”

Rowena smiled as she looked in the cage. “No, no kids to speak of.”

“Would you like to hold one of them?” he asked.

“Sure,” she replied. “Let me see the tabby.”

He opened the cage and gently handed her the cat. The feline rested comfortably in her arms and head-butted her chin, scenting her. Rowena began to giggle.

“She’s a friendly little one,” she remarked.

“I think she wants to make you her person,” the worker teased.

Rowena scratched the cat under her chin, making it purr.

“Okay, little lady,” Rowena said, holding her up. “You won me over.” She turned back to the worker. “I’ll take her.”

“Wonderful,” he answered. “Come on over here and I’ll get the paperwork started.” He pulled down a cardboard carrier and gently put the tabby inside. From inside the cat’s former cage, the tuxedo cat began to meow, sounding almost like an infant’s cry. Soon the tabby in the box began to make a similar sound.

“It’s okay,” Rowena said into the box, trying to calm the animal. She looked carefully to notice that the tabby wasn’t looking at her, but rather the cage it just left and the other cat that remained behind.

“I’m sure she’ll settle down in a little bit,” the worker told her. “The two of them are sisters from the same litter and they’ve never been apart, so it might take her a little while to adjust.”

Rowena nodded and looked back at the tuxedo, who now had her paw sticking out of the cage, reaching toward them in vain. The watcher sighed heavily, making the shelter worker look up.

The two humans locked eyes for a moment and he asked knowingly, “Should I get another box?”

Rowena just smiled and nodded.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Dining Room – Early Afternoon

Kennedy and Marsha the dragon sat side by side at one of the cafeteria tables. A large smile on her face, Kennedy tossed Marsha bits of a hot dog, making her jump slightly to catch them.

“This seat taken?” the slayer heard someone ask across from her. She looked up to see Faith standing there with her tray.

“No, go ahead,” Kennedy motioned.

Faith settled in and nodded to the dragon. “She’s getting bigger.”

“Yeah, she is,” Kennedy answered. “I hope we’re right that she’ll get as big as a large dog, because I’m not sure where we’d put her. Al mentioned taking her to England if it happens – the council owns a farm out there, but…”

“Don’t want to be without her?” Faith asked.

“It’s selfish, I guess but, yeah. She’s my baby,” the younger slayer replied with a grin, looking toward Marsha. The dragon settled her wings and put her head in Kennedy’s lap.

“Hey guys,” Andrew said, walking over with Tracey. “If this is, you know, a private party, we can go elsewhere.”

“No, that’s fine, Andy. Sit down,” Faith told him.

“Great! We’ve got pictures from the trip to show you guys,” he told them.

“Whatever happened down there?” Kennedy asked. “Heard you guys ran into some trouble – everyone make it out okay?”

“Oh yeah, the local authorities got a little bruised and battered, but the murders stopped so…all’s well that ends well, I’d say,” he told them. “Here,” he said, handing his camera to Faith. “Just push that button to advance the shots. I haven’t had time to print them yet.”

Faith began to look at the pictures as Vi and Xander walked up, arguing.

“No way,” Vi answered.

“Yes way,” Xander retorted. “If you don’t believe me, ask Andrew.”

“Ask me what?”

Vi put down her tray at the table and began to take a seat, whileXander did the same. “Okay, he says that in Millennium, it’s The Roosters who believe that Armageddon will come solely through biblical prophecy, but he won’t have it that it’s The Owls!”

“Because it’s not!” Xander snorted.

The carrot-top Slayer rolled her eyes and looked back at Andrew. “Settle this, please, who’s right?”

Andrew looked nervous. “Do I answer honestly, or humor the girl with super strength who could knock me into next week?” he asked Tracey.

“Ha!” Xander said, pointing to Vi. “See? I told you.”

“Damn it,” Vi sighed.

Faith and Kennedy looked at each other and Kennedy spoke. “As much as I’d love to engage in this conversation, I promised Faith we’d do some sparring today. Are you ready?”

Of course,” Faith muttered under her breath. “Yeah, I still need to stay in shape so…It’s been real guys. It’s been fun. Just not real fun.” Faith cocked her head toward the exit and Kennedy followed her as they left.

“Let them have their fun. Discussing the Millennium Group factions is so much better than beating things up,” Andrew replied.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Training Room – Minutes Later

Kennedy and Faith stood toe to toe with each other. Kennedy’s hands were taped up, while Faith wore a set of punching mitts. Kennedy jabbed at Faith in silence. Finally, she spoke up.

“You’re gonna have to show me how you ran up that wall so high,” she said out of nowhere.

Faith dropped her hands for a moment, and Kennedy’s fist connected with her chin.

“Jeez,” Kennedy exclaimed. “I’m sorry. Why the hell did you lower your hand?”

Faith rubbed her chin with her shoulder. “You surprised me. Didn’t think you’d bring that up, is all.”

“We gotta say something about it. Asking you to show me how you did it is a good start. Plus, if it happens again, there won’t be any more tricks to play on each other.”

“It won’t happen again,” Faith assured her. “I was wrong and I know I hurt you.”

Kennedy shrugged. “Slayer healing took care of it. No big.”

“Yes big, and I wasn’t just talking about the bruises,” Faith clarified. “You were only trying to help, but I still freaked.”

Kennedy relaxed her stance and put her hands on her hips. “Why did you run, Faith?”

Faith shrugged this time. “I’ve seen what’s been happening here lately. One misstep and you get trashed…I do a damn good job, but…I couldn’t pull the trigger on Skye. I didn’t have it in me and…it felt like I was slipping and all I could see was the hell I’d pay.”

“But not pulling the trigger ended up being a good thing. If Skye was dead, I might not have gotten to the bomb in time and we’d all be dead.”

Faith grinned. “Hadn’t really thought of it that way.”

Kennedy’s face took on a pensive look. “Giles told me once…okay, quite often,” she corrected herself, starting to grin. “…anyway, he said everything we do has some kind of effect on things around us – something as simple as dropping a pencil or as monumental as taking a life. Everything we touch plays a role in things to come, so we need to consider our choices carefully. I still say that’s all you did that night, Faith. You considered the choice instead of being weak.”

“I get that,” Faith answered. “Now,” she added, beginning to grin. “But at the time…”

“Sometimes hindsight really is twenty twenty.”

Faith gave a short nod, then raised her hands again and motioned Kennedy forward. Kennedy threw a few more punches, then asked, “Can a man who chains Wonder Woman’s bracelets together take away her power?”

“What?” Faith asked with an incredulous look, dropping her hands again. Once more, Kennedy smacked her across the face.

“Stop doing that!” Kennedy said, before she started to chuckle.

Faith just smiled, rubbing her chin.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Rowena’s Balcony – Night

A scaly hand, with sharp points for nails, wrapped around the top bar of Rowena’s balcony.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Rowena’s Apartment – Same Time

Inside the apartment, the shower door opened and, with her hair wet, Rowena stepped out. Grabbing a towel, she began to dry herself.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Rowena’s Balcony – Night

The scaly hand reached again, this time pushing down the handle on the French door and giving it a pull. The door slowly opened.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Rowena’s Apartment – Same Time

Rowena dried her hair with the towel, her head tilted to one side. Hearing a noise, she cocked her head upright and listened. She tossed the towel over the top of the shower and donned her robe. Then she stepped out into the bedroom and looked around.

“Will? That you?” she called out.

She turned her head and noticed that the balcony door was open. She quickly went over and looked outside. Seeing nothing, she turned around and walked back inside, closing the door behind her.

“Kitty, kitty, kitty,” she called. “Did you girls open the door?”

Rowena walked through her open bedroom door and saw the two cats asleep next to each other on the sofa. Her brow crunched as she looked around and saw nothing. With a shrug of her shoulders, she turned.

With lightning-fast speed, the demon jumped out at her. Its clawed hand slashed across Rowena’s back, sending her to the floor. The back of her robe was ripped open and blood began to seep from the wound. She rolled over to see the demon closing in and screamed.

On her palms and feet, she crawled backward toward the bathroom as the demon stalked closer. She made it inside and, as the demon leaped forward, Rowena kicked the door closed with all her might, sending it stumbling back.

The watcher leapt to her feet and closed the door as the demon charged forward again. As the two struggled from both sides of the door, Rowena managed to get it closed and locked.

The demon banged relentlessly on the door, while Rowena ran over to the small bathroom window. She opened it to see the three-story drop and quickly began to look around the bathroom.

The hinges began to creak against the weight of the demon’s pounding and she ran over putting all her weight against the banging door.

“Somebody help!” she yelled at the top of her lungs. “Help me!”

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Hallway – Same Time

Willow stopped in the act of putting her keys in her door and listened. Hearing a muffled cry for help, she walked down the hallway to come to Rowena’s door, giving it a light knock.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Rowena’s Apartment – Same Time

The demon continued to bang against the bathroom door. Rowena’s body shook at each impact, the sound of metal and wood buckling clearly audible.

“Somebody help!” she screamed again.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Hallway – Same Time

Willow’s eyes widened and she tried to turn the doorknob, but it was locked. She fumbled with her keys, dropping them on the ground.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Rowena’s Apartment – Same Time

Rowena looked around frantically, then focused her eyes on the sink basin. She quickly ran over and began to toss things out of the drawer that sat below it.


She picked up a lighter and quickly tried lighting it but, to no avail. At that moment, the door buckled in and the monster barreled inside. Rowena grabbed a spray can of disinfectant and finally lit the lighter. She quickly aimed the shooting flame at the demon’s face, forcing it backward. It tripped into the tub, all the while holding its eyes.

Rowena sprinted out of the bathroom for all she was worth. Entering her living room, she saw Willow finally make it within the apartment.

“Run!” Rowena screamed as the monster closed in on her.

“Get down!” Willow yelled, raising her hand. “Encase!”

Rowena instinctively dropped to the ground as an energy beam shot over her head and directly into the creature behind her, suspending it in mid-air.

Willow knelt down next to Rowena.

“Are you okay?” she asked.

The watcher nodded. “Yeah, yeah I think so,” Rowena answered.

“Your back is sliced pretty bad,” Willow commented.

“I’ll be okay,” Rowena replied. Then she looked over toward the demon. “What the hell is that thing?”

Willow helped Rowena to her feet and they walked over. The demon remained trapped, wrapped in a green barrier surrounding its limbs. Willow got a peculiar look and reached up toward its face. She pulled the skin-like mask away.

“Oh Goddess,” Willow sighed.

“You know her?” Rowena asked.

Willow nodded. “It’s Gina.”

Fade To:


Watchers Council – Rowena’s Apartment – Next Day

Rowena was sitting in a chair when she heard the knock at her door. The two cats lay comfortably on her sofa and raised their heads to look.

“It’s okay, girls,” she told regular nervous-looking felines. “The bad guys don’t knock.”

Rowena opened the door to see Willow stepped back to let her further inside.

“I just came by to drop off your key,” Willow replied.

“Keep it,” Rowena told her. “Under the circumstances, maybe it’s best if you hang on to it.”

Willow looked over to the sofa and saw the two cats. “Hey, you’ve got some new friends,” she said with a grin.

“Yeah,” Rowena replied. “Marco, the tux, and Polo, the tabby.”

“Two boys, huh?”

“Girls, sisters actually. I just liked Marco and Polo better than Marci and Polly,” Rowena replied. “I was just gonna get one, but I didn’t have the heart to separate them, so I got both. Needless to say, they had an adventurous first night, and they’re a bit leery of who comes in here.” 

A small silence passed between them and Rowena began to shake her head with a slight grin.

“What?” Willow asked.

“I’ve toyed with the idea of maybe having kids someday…But I can’t manage to get through one night with pets without disaster striking.”

“It’s not your fault,” Willow replied.

“I left the balcony door unlocked,” Rowena answered. “What good’s a state of the art security system if I can’t remember to lock the doors?”

“There aren’t too many people that would climb three stories to get in here, a-and if a demon tried to enter they would be stopped immediately. Problem is, Gina wasn’t a demon – just a very disturbed woman.”

“Where is she now?”

“The hospital has her undergoing a psych evaluation,” Willow replied. “Seems the only demon all these years has been herself.”

“And that mask and those glove things she had? They looked so real.”

“From what they’ve figured out the mask was…leftovers?”

“Leftovers?” Rowena asked.

Willow nodded. “Basically, skin she’s collected from patients since she started med-school.”

“Ewww,” Rowena winced.

“Yeah, pretty gross. Same thing with the gloves, too. It was made with metal and skin and bone fragments. The doctor I spoke to said they think she’s manifested this other persona, her very own vengeance demon, to deal with things and people that bother her, in one way or another.”

“And somehow I bothered her?” Rowena asked. “I’ve never even met this woman.”

Willow rubbed the back of her neck nervously. “She met me. She…liked me…a lot, and after she heard me talking about you, chances are she saw you as a stumbling block, an obstacle.”

Rowena swallowed hard. “Am I?”


“An obstacle, to anyone else who might come along?” Rowena asked. with a touch of insecurity in her voice.

Willow took a deep breath.

“I’m not looking for anyone right now, Rowena. Not Gina, not anybody…And you know where I stand. As much as I wish this would work,” Willow said, motioning between them, “we both know it won’t.” A small silence hung in the air and Willow held out Rowena’s key in her open palm.

Rowena took Willow’s hand and closed it, refusing to take the key back.

“No,” Rowena told her. “My door’s always open to you.”

Willow nodded and put the key back in her pocket.

“Well, I’ve gotta go out and get some supplies for the Coven. Need anything? Ointment for the back, catnip for the kitties?”

Rowena grinned. “We’re okay,” she answered. “But thanks.”

Willow nodded and quietly left the room, closing the door behind her.

Rowena looked over at the sofa to see the two cats back asleep. She turned her back and headed to her bedroom.

“You guys got it so easy. Next life, I’m coming back as a cat,” she told them.

Fade to Black



End of Skin Deep


Next on Watchers…

While Dawn and Jeff search for a spell to restore Skye’s soul, the Council’s attempt to determine if Kadin should be allowed to join up is complicated by the reappearance of an old enemy.


Click here to read “Strange Bedfellows” now!