Lacey Chabert as Skye, Gale Harold as Jim Pollan, Tessa Thompson as Chamique, Alexis Bledel as Denise, Norika Fujiwara as Mia, Evangeline Lilly as Marissa, Laura Pyper as Casey and Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers
Patrick Dempsey as Doctor Colton, Tony Hale as Steven, Dean Winters as Detective Daniels, Anne Hope as Kara and Edward Woodward as James Tyrell
Apartment #302 – Night
Chatter from police radios now filled the apartment, as officers wearing rubber gloves investigated the scene. Forensic detectives dressed in white clean suits set about the kitchen, dusting for fingerprints and going over surfaces with a fine tooth comb. The body of Steven’s wife still lay on the kitchen floor, but now turned on her back, with a white sheet placed over her.
The front door to the apartment opened to reveal Kennedy and her team – Marie, Chamique and Denise, with a police escort.
Kennedy took in the sights of the destroyed apartment as she made her way up the hall.
Ahead of her, Detective Daniels walked out of the living room, apparently to greet them, though from the look on his face it was hard to tell.
“You the team from the Watchers Council?” Detective Daniels asked. “What am I saying…bunch of school girls arrive at the scene of a murder, where else they gonna be from?”
“Nice to see you too, Detective Daniels,” Kennedy scoffed. “So c’mon, entertain me.”
Daniels smirked, shaking his head. “Follow me.” He walked towards the kitchen with the team in tow.
The three slayers quietly sniggered at Kennedy’s reaction to the detective, as she gave a curt, sarcastic salute at his order.
“In here.” Daniels beckoned as he stood by the kitchen door, allowing Kennedy and the girls to enter. “Be careful not to touch anything just yet.”
As they took a step inside, their attention was drawn to the body under the sheet on the floor.
“What are we looking at here?” Kennedy asked.
“Homicide,” Daniels replied as he entered behind them.
She gave a slight nod. “Homicide? So is this ritualistic murder? What?”
Daniels moved over to the body and bent down beside it to pull back the sheet. As he did so, he revealed the body of Steven’s wife – a demon.
Kennedy stepped closer and inspected her body. As her eyes washed over it, she noticed a gold ring on the third finger of the left hand. Kennedy made a move to lift the corpse’s hand, but Daniels thrust a pair of rubber gloves at her.
Raising a brow, Kennedy took the gloves and snapped them over her hands.
“Not used to wearing these yet,” she said, and then proceeded to take the corpse’s hand in hers. She examined the ring. “She was married,” she trailed off thoughtfully.
“Yeah, I know. Surprised us, too. Didn’t think these things married? That’s like a sacrilege or something, like gays marrying or someone spitting at the Pope,” Daniels griped.
“Believe it or not, Detective, some demons are better at being human than humans.” Kennedy glared up at the man. “So what else is there? I’m not sure what you want us to do.”
“Get rid of it, for one,” Daniels replied.
“What, just like that? Without an investigation?” Kennedy countered.
“That’s your call lady, remember? We don’t deal with demons and the supernatural, so we bring you guys in.”
Kennedy stifled a snort. “Hey, expect attitude when you’re not giving me anything to go on, besides what seems to be just a normal murder case. There’s nothing here that suggests the supernatural.”
“You’re joking, right?” Daniels said disbelievingly as he rose to his feet. “You don’t honestly think that this is normal for us, do you?” He pointed to the corpse.
“There’s nothing supernatural about murder, which is what this looks like,” Kennedy retorted.
Daniels grunted. “Okay then, you come with me and tell me where the hell my team goes from here in the investigation.” He marched out of the kitchen and Kennedy reluctantly followed.
At the end of the hall, by an open door, lay another body under a white sheet. As Kennedy drew closer, she looked into the room – crayon drawings were stuck up on the wall, and stuffed toys sat on the bed and on top of a chest.
“Oh God,” she uttered to herself, as her eyes trained down to where two small bodies lay on the floor under their own white sheets.
Daniels looked from the body at the foot of the door to Kennedy. He stood up and pulled the door to the children’s room closed.
Kennedy, somewhat shocked, averted her stare from the room down to the other body by her feet.
Detective Daniels pulled back the sheet to reveal Steven’s corpse.
“The attacker, maybe?” Kennedy conjectured.
“No, the attacked,” Daniels answered. “Look at his wounds and lacerations, and then look at the other demons’s wounds. They’re the same. Blunt force trauma, by what we can guess at present to be from a bat of some kind. Plus, the cuts on all four bodies are consistent, meaning that they were done by the same weapon.”
“It doesn’t make sense,” Kennedy muttered.
“Check out his left hand – identical wedding band to that of the demon woman back there,” Daniels pointed out.
“Maybe he is the attacker. Maybe it’s a trophy? Some human out to teach the demon world a lesson,” Kennedy replied.
“But he’s not human,” Daniels revealed, much to Kennedy’s intrigue. He took a vial of purple blood out of an evidence bag by Steven’s corpse, “This is the blood that we collected from him. It’s the same purple goo we collected from the other demons. Plus…” Carefully, Daniels opened a large gash in Steven’s chest, which had been slashed open by a knife.
Kennedy held her hair back and looked inside the wound. The inside of his body was stained purple. There were different-shaped bones, and bones in places where a human shouldn’t have them, along with what appeared to be some sort of organ that she had never seen before.
“This is odd,” Kennedy remarked, more to herself than the detective.
“So c’mon,” Daniels said, “entertain me with your vast knowledge, Slayer Lady.”
Kennedy sighed and rolled her eyes.
Car – Early Morning
The sound of Pink Floyd’s “Run Like Hell” played over the stereo system as a car’s odometer read fifty-five miles per hour.
City Street – Same Time
A car raced past a sign that read “Speed Limit 35.” It made a sharp turn down a street, then the brake lights flashed and the car made another turn.
University Hospital – Same Time
The car came to a stop at the emergency entrance and Giles opened the driver’s side door and turned off the ignition, making the music stop. He got out and quickly opened his car’s back door and reached inside.
University Hospital – Moments Later
Giles raced with Martin in his arms, holding the baby close to him, as a nurse rushed up to greet him.
“Mr. Giles?” she asked, and he quickly nodded. “This way…Your wife called about three minutes ago. Bring him in here.” She motioned for him to follow her through a set of double doors.
Giles House – Moments Later
A hand knocked on the Giles’s door, and Becca opened it quickly.
“I’m sorry to call so late,” she began. “Thanks for coming.”
“Not a problem,” Rowena replied as she walked inside, taking off her coat. “Liz still sleeping upstairs?”
“Yeah, I didn’t want to drag her out of bed…you, on the other hand,” Becca added guiltily.
Rowena gave her a comforting smile. “Really, I was still up…Any news yet?”
“None,” Becca replied, while she finished tying her shoelaces.
“What happened?” Rowena asked.
“We thought the monitor might have slipped off him again, but when we got there it was still attached and the alarm was going off. Rupert didn’t want to wait on an ambulance, since we’re so close,” Becca explained as she donned her coat.
“Well, call my cell when you hear something – doesn’t matter what time. I probably won’t be sleeping anyway.”
“Will do, and thanks again, Ro,” Becca said sincerely.
Rowena just waved her off. “No trouble, honestly. Just be careful getting there and call me later.”
Becca nodded and waved goodbye, closing the door behind her. Rowena took to the stairs of the quiet house. When she got to the top, she heard Elizabeth fussing in her room and she peeked inside. She grinned and walked further into the room.
“Hey there girly girl,” Rowena said as she walked towards the crib. “You’re supposed to be sleeping.”
Elizabeth was standing up in her crib, trying to hoist one leg over the edge but thankfully failing. She grinned and giggled when she saw Rowena approaching. She outstretched her arms to be picked up and Rowena smiled.
“Come on,” Rowena said as she lifted the girl up. “Woah,” she said, waving one hand over her nose. “Guess we know why you woke up, huh? Let’s get that diaper changed, whatta ya say?” She gave Elizabeth’s belly a tickle.
The baby simply giggled and tried to pull at Rowena’s hair.
Giles House – Living Room – Later that Morning
Giles walked in to see Rowena, with Elizabeth in her lap, looking at one of her block baby books as they sat on the sofa. Rowena was reading while Elizabeth tried to gnaw on the thick page.
“Hey,” Rowena said upon seeing him. “Everything okay?”
Giles grinned as he walked over. “Before I forget, thank you for coming,” he said. “And yes, everything should be fine. They’re just keeping him for observation. Becca’s going to stay right now and I thought I’d come back and get some sleep before we switch this afternoon.”
“Did they say what happened?”
“The doctors think it’s a cold.”
“Just a cold?” she asked.
Giles nodded. “Yes. His lungs aren’t fully developed yet, so any slight change can make breathing difficult.”
“No,” Rowena said quickly, “I mean, there are no other complications then? His heart and everything is okay?”
“Yes, they said we could probably take him back home again this week or next, if no other problems arise.”
“That’s good news,” she replied.
“Yes, very,” Giles agreed. He let out a long sigh. “You know, I’ve faced just about every monster in the known world…but my son,” he said with an affectionate grin, “he’s scared me more in the last three months than all those years combined. I thought finally bringing him home last week would make things easier, but…”
“I know it’s got to be hard on you guys,” Rowena said.
“When he makes a noise I get worried, but when he’s been quiet for too long I also get concerned,” Giles explained.
“Well, he’s a fighter, like his old man and his momma, so he’s got that going for him. His sister’s pretty spunky too,” Rowena gave Elizabeth’s nose a squeeze, making her chuckle.
“I hope you’re right,” Giles replied. “Anyway, I’m here to release you from your babysitting duty. I’ll see to Elizabeth.”
“I thought you were going to bed?” Rowena replied. “And from the looks of it…she’s not.”
Giles shrugged. “I’ll manage.”
“No, I have a better idea. I’m stealing her,” Rowena replied. “You get some rest and I’ll take Liz home with me.”
“You don’t have to –”
Rowena ignored his remark and instead turned to Elizabeth and asked, “You want to come home with Aunty Ro, don’t you? We’ll get to see Aunt Willow in a few hours when she wakes up, and you know how she loves to feed you cookies.”
“I don’t want to inconvenience you,” Giles replied.
“It’s not an inconvenience,” Rowena replied. “It’s practice.”
“Practice?” Giles asked curiously.
Rowena blushed. “I’m considering it. Haven’t proposed the idea to Will yet, but…Let’s just say I can’t wait as many years as you did to start,” she teased.
Giles grinned. “As long as it’s not an imposition.”
“Giles,” Rowena began. “You have one of the best behaved daughters in the world. If anything, this kid is raising the bar pretty high when it comes to what I can expect. Give us a call later, after Becca comes home, and we’ll arrange a time to bring her back after Becca’s had some sleep.”
“As long as you’re sure,” Giles pressed.
“Giles,” Rowena sighed in mock-frustration, then gave him a wan smile. “Go get the car seat, while I pack a diaper bag.”
Willow and Rowena’s Bedroom – Later that Morning
Willow’s head rested on a pillow as she opened one eye, only to immediately close it again when a small hand reached out and slapped her face.
“Why Ro, you shrunk,” she muttered, moving to rest her weight on her elbow. She rose and looked over to smile at Rowena, who stood at the foot of the bed with a grin. But almost as quickly as the smile appeared, a look of worry took shape on Willow’s features.
“Everything’s okay,” Rowena told her, answering the unasked question. “Becca called after you went to bed and asked me to watch Liz, since they had to run Marty up to the ER. He’s good – it’s a cold – but they’re keeping watch on him, so I offered to look after Liz so they could get some sleep.”
“Why didn’t you wake me?”
“Because now you get to stand guard while I get some sleep,” Rowena replied. “She woke up about two hours ago and won’t fall asleep, but I’ve got coffee started for you,” she added.
“You know, Lizzy,” Willow told the baby, “I hope you find someone someday who makes you coffee and lets you sleep in.” She turned to Rowena. “Any time you want to get up?” Willow asked, as she got up from the bed taking Elizabeth with her.
“Don’t let me sleep past noon, if you can,” she replied.
“Will do,” the witch answered, as she kissed Rowena.
Watchers Council – Conference Room – Later that Morning
Faith, Robin and Buffy were talking at one end of the pristine table in the Council’s brightly lit new conference room.
“Sorry I’m late, guys,” Willow announced to the room’s occupants, carrying Elizabeth in her arms. “She’s starting to get cranky, but she won’t settle down for a nap yet, so I thought I’d bring her along.”
The room collectively awwwed as Elizabeth raised her head briefly, only to lay it back down on Willow’s shoulder as the witch settled into her seat. The redhead put her satchel on the table, but instead of bringing out a folder she held a pair of rainbow colored plastic keys on a ring. She handed them to Elizabeth, who took them but still stayed on Willow’s shoulder, not bothering to play with them.
“Have you heard from Becca or Giles?” Buffy asked.
“No, so no news is probably good news still,” Willow replied. “I figured I’d let everybody sleep and call later. What did I miss?” she asked.
“A demon homicide,” Faith answered. “Ken and her team caught the call last night from the cops,” she added.
“Really?” Willow asked.
“A pretty tame breed,” Robin interjected. “So we’re looking at it as a murder. We’ve got Dawn and Shannon on it now.”
Convenience Store – Same Time
The door opened, striking the bell that hung over the door frame. Dawn and Shannon walked into the grimy, dimly lit store. The sound of Hindi music crackled over the distorted radio.
“So who’s gonna be the bad cop?” Shannon teased as they moved deeper inside. “Of course, that’s if you’re sure this is the place,” she added doubtfully, as she took in the sights of the shop.
An equal look of uncertainty decorated Dawn’s face. “According to what Brell could find out from his contacts, this is it.”
Shannon sniffed the air and the eclectic smells of burning incense, Indian food and the stale whiff of exotic spices emanating from one of the aisles overpowered her. “Doesn’t smell like a doctor’s office.”
“Doesn’t look sterile either.” Dawn tackled the sticky floor in her high heels as she made her way over to the counter, where several newspapers and a hot food cabinet of Indian pastries sat. “Hello?” she called out.
A moment later, a broadly accented voice yelled out from the back. “Just a minute!”
Waiting, Dawn’s and Shannon’s eyes wandered around the store, then back to each other. They exchanged a nervous look.
An Indian man in his late fifties wandered out of the back room, dressed in a knitted cardigan with the sleeves rolled all the way up. He brought out a box of potato chips, which he dropped onto the counter by Dawn and Shannon, making them take a step back.
“Hello! Yes! Yes! What can I do for you today?” The man stood behind the counter smiling widely. “Samosa? ‘Tis fresh!”
Dawn glanced at the samosas that looked to have been there for days, sweating under the pale light of the bulb. “Umm…no thanks,” she managed a half smile.
“Little girl? ‘Tis fresh?” the man pressed.
Shannon wore a grin as she shook her head. “Already ate today,” she added.
“Look, we’re with the Watchers Council,” Dawn said. She reached into her handbag and brought out her ID card, which she flashed at the man.
Worried, the man hastily grabbed the samosas out of the hot cabinet and put them under the counter. Once the food was out of sight, he shot a look back to Dawn and Shannon and instantly his smile returned.
“What can you tell us about the Clinic?” Dawn asked, putting her ID away.
“Sorry, I don’t know Clinic,” the man responded. “Now please, you’ll have to leave, I need to close up.” He shooed them away with his hands while walking around the counter to escort them out.
Shannon stepped up, putting herself between Dawn and the man defensively, but Dawn put her hand on Shannon’s shoulder for her to step back.
“Come, come. Please leave now. I need to close,” he said, refusing to acknowledge Dawn.
“It’s morning, and you just opened,” Shannon argued.
“I…I have an appointment I just remembered,” he replied.
Dawn moved around Shannon to stand in front of the man. “Listen pal, if you value your business, and wish to continue selling, then I seriously suggest you tell us what we need to know. Otherwise, I’ll be forced to inform the appropriate authorities about your health and safety violations. You’ll be shut down and have your license revoked,” she countered, raising her brow.
That notion stopped the man in his tracks. Anxious, he gave them a faltering half smile.
Convenience Store Basement – Moments Later
With Dawn and Shannon in tow, the man walked down the wooden stairs to the basement, past tall stacks of cardboard boxes. Dawn held her nose as they descended into the poorly ventilated basement.
“I hate mildew,” she grumbled.
“A trait inherent in all bad cops,” Shannon teased in a whisper. “Speaking of which, it’s my turn to be bad next time.”
The man stopped at what seemed to be a door to a utility closet, stained from splash marks by some brown liquid. He unlocked the door using a key from the large set that hung from his waist.
As he pulled the door open, Dawn and Shannon peered inside to see a pristine set of steps leading further down.
“Down there,” the man said, stepping out of the way.
“You first,” Dawn told him.
He rolled his eyes, but did as she asked.
Shannon took the first step inside behind him, as Dawn followed in the rear.
They walked down the few steps until they faced a frosted glass door with the title “The Clinic” embossed in black on the surface of the glass.
“This is more like it,” Shannon commented. “Smells like a doctor’s office. That eerie clean smell.”
“Looks like. Care to do the honors?” Dawn asked, much to Shannon’s delight.
“Pleasure,” she said, as she pushed the door open to the immaculately clean reception area of the Clinic.
A row of seats lined the right wall, with a glass-top coffee table in front of them, displaying various magazines and a vase of flowers. Across from the table was a receptionist at her desk. To the left of the receptionist was a corridor, and from where Dawn and Shannon were standing it looked as if there were a couple of rooms down there, possibly more, as the corridor ventured out of their line of sight.
Carol, the receptionist, looked up from her monitor with a start. “Oh my!” she breathed when she saw Dawn and Shannon standing in the doorway.
“Excuse me! You’re not allowed to be down here!” she called out as she spun her chair around, stood up and walked over to them.
“They are with the Watchers Council,” the Indian man explained.
Producing her ID again, Dawn showed it to Carol. “I’m Dawn Summers and this is Shannon Matthewson. We’re currently investigating a murder case, and a lead brought us here.”
“One moment, please,” Carol said, raising a finger. Then she shuffled back over to her desk and picked up the phone. “Dr. Colton, could you come to reception please? There’s someone here from the Watchers Council to see you.”
Within moments, Dr. Colton walked down the corridor into reception. His eyes immediately fell on Dawn and Shannon. “What’s going on?” he asked them.
Dawn turned to face him. “Are you the doctor in charge of this clinic?”
“I am. Wha–what’s this about?” he stuttered.
She pulled out a large glossy crime scene photo from her handbag. “Do you know who this is?” she asked.
Doctor Colton took the picture from Dawn, and as he peered at the lifeless face, his eyes went wide in horror. He looked up at Dawn and Shannon.
“You…come with me.” He turned to the receptionist. “Carol, cancel my appointments for today please.”
“Certainly. Doctor,” she replied, picking up the phone.
“This way,” Doctor Colton told Dawn and Shannon, as he began to walk down the corridor.
Watchers Council – Slayer Gym – Same Time
Vi stood at a punching bag, pounding it for all she was worth, as Xander watched from the doorway of the new Slayer Gym.
“You were gone when I got up,” he said.
Not breaking from her workout, Vi continued to pound against the vinyl.
“Couldn’t sleep,” she answered shortly.
Xander walked deeper into the room. “Another dream?” he asked, as if already knowing the answer.
“Yes,” was all she said, not bothering to look his way.
Xander sighed. “I wish there was something I could say. Something I could do,” he added.
“You could work on that third eye thing of yours,” she huffed, as she continued to pound the bag. “Maybe bump up the reaction time a few minutes so it might actually be helpful.” Vi’s arms suddenly stopped and she looked down with a guilty expression, still not meeting Xander’s eyes. “I’m sorry,” she said softly.
“That’s not a thought I haven’t had myself. Aside from getting the answers on Jeopardy now and then, I must admit, it’s pretty useless most of the time.”
Vi picked up a towel at her feet and wiped her face. “There wasn’t anything you could have done to save Angie. Nothing I could have done…I…just forget it.”
“Let’s say we don’t forget it,” Xander replied. “Let’s say we talk about it.”
Vi wiped her face again, but this time she didn’t lower the towel. She began to cry into it, instead. Xander walked over slowly and pulled her into his arms.
“I feel like dirt, because I’m petty and selfish, okay? I’m…I’m glad Faith is here, but why couldn’t Angie get a free return trip ticket, too? Why couldn’t everyone who died?” she asked. “And what makes Faith so damn special? Because she’s a slayer? There are tons of us, even after this last battle. So why is she here but Angie’s not, huh?”
“So you’d trade Angie for Faith?” Xander asked.
“Yes…no…I don’t know. I’m glad Faith’s here but…I want my sister too,” Vi replied. “Lots of conflicting emotions about this.”
“I’m sure there are lots of people who lost someone they love asking the same questions. But we don’t have the answer. Faith herself isn’t sure why. But this much I do know…your sister, like a lot of others, died helping mankind. And there isn’t a nobler way to go, in my opinion. We know we can’t bring her back so maybe instead of asking why, what we should be asking is how can we be better people, so she didn’t die in vain.”
“I know I’m not a good person right now for thinking that stuff about Faith,” Vi replied.
“That’s not at all what I meant,” Xander replied. “You lost someone you’ve shared your entire existence with. You had to find a way to explain to your mom and dad why Angie was gone but Faith got to come back. You’re doing a lot better than you’re giving yourself credit for.”
“Thanks Xander, but…you don’t know what this feels like,” she replied. “Not really.”
Xander paused for a moment.
“You wonder what you could have done differently. You wonder why your sister’s gone when so many jerks are left still in the world. You wonder why she had to die now. And you blame yourself for getting angry, for feeling sad and if you start to feel a little happy, you start to feel guilty…Am I close?”
Vi gave a brief grin. “Okay, so you do know.”
“I lost Anya. I lost Buffy,” Xander went on. “When you lose someone you love, Vi…it doesn’t matter who it is, we all go through it. And everything we feel is okay – it’s not right or wrong. It just is what it is.”
“This is where you tell me it gets better and won’t hurt someday, right?” Vi asked.
“No,” Xander replied. “It never stops hurting. But the pain feels different over time – it’s not as sharp. Instead of a stab wound it eventually feels like a slight throb. So no, it never goes away but, yes, eventually, it does get better. It’s those moments of waiting in-between that feel like hell. But remember, I’m here for you.”
Vi began to cry again and Xander pulled her back into an embrace.
The Clinic – Consultation Room – Moments Later
Dr. Colton held the door open, and Dawn and Shannon walked inside the consultation room. Shannon immediately jumped into one of the chairs facing the doctor’s desk, whereas Dawn had more decorum and stood, waiting to be seated.
The doctor closed the door to his office, his eyes fixated on the picture. “I operated on this man,” he looked up to Dawn. “Oh, please take a seat.”
“Thanks.” Dawn took the seat next to Shannon. “Maybe he looks like a man on the outside, but it’s what’s inside that counts, right?”
“Not so much as you’d think. In an ideal world, perhaps, but this world is far from ideal as we all found out months ago,” Dr. Colton lamented, as he walked around his desk and took a seat. “What happened to him?” he asked, handing Dawn the photo.
Dawn took it back and returned it to her bag. “That’s what we want to find out. He was murdered in his own home.”
Dr. Colton shook his head in disbelief, letting out the faintest of sighs.
“Presumably coming back from here,” she added. “He had a tub of prescription analgesic cream.” Dawn paused for a brief moment. “His family was murdered too.”
“This is terrible,” the doctor said as he ran his hand through his hair.
“I must say, you don’t look that surprised,” Dawn pried.
“Honestly, I’m not,” The doctor’s comments made both Dawn and Shannon sit forward. “You yourself know of the civil unrest ever since the demon world was outed. I suppose it was only a matter of time until humans found out about my patients.”
“What makes you so sure that it was humans that killed your patient?” Dawn asked.
“Yeah, I mean, what’s to say it wasn’t some butt ugly demon that killed him,” Shannon added with little tact.
“She does have a point,” Dawn spoke up. “A demon could have mistaken your patient for a human and killed him. Or a demon could have known that your patient was a demon underneath, but killed him out of some sense of insult to their species for looking human?”
Dr. Colton leaned back in his chair. “Either theory might be right, but based on his facial injuries it looks as if he was beaten with something. There are no fist marks or claw marks. Perhaps demons use weapons now but, really, it seems unlikely.”
“At this point, we don’t know who did it or why,” Dawn admitted.
“Well, there are more evil demons than good ones, but humans aren’t the most tolerant and understanding species either, you have to admit. Throughout history, the worst violence upon humans was because of appearance or religion – not fitting in with the so-called ‘crowd.’ But of course that could be said for demons too, I assume. The fact of the matter is that my patient’s murder happened after he started walking around in the guise of a normal man. So I’d say someone didn’t like that idea – human or demon.”
“Why’s that? Maybe he lipped off to the wrong person, had gambling debts or dealt drugs?” Dawn asked.
“I don’t know everything about him, but he was a very likable fellow and didn’t look strung out. He seemed devoted to his family – that’s why he wanted the surgery, to find a day job to earn more for his wife and kids. I couldn’t see someone like him having any enemies.”
“Obviously, you’re wrong,” Dawn replied. “He had at least one, because he’s dead now.”
“Look,” the doctor replied. “I’m saying I don’t think he was killed because of who he was, but rather what he looked like.”
“If you know the risks and repercussions of what you do, then why do it?” Dawn asked.
“Because they deserve a chance at a normal life, just like anyone else,” Dr. Colton said. “And you and I both know there are a lot of bigots in the world. The Council can give all the seminars and speeches they like about how not all demons are bad, but the majority of people aren’t willing to take that chance. What they don’t understand scares them. And when people get scared, other people get hurt or killed, either accidentally or…otherwise.”
Dawn’s attention was momentarily drawn to the wall just to the right of Doctor Colton’s desk. Various diplomas and certificates adorned the otherwise bland whitewash wall.
“I see my accolades have caught your eye,” the doctor mentioned, drawing Dawn’s attention back to him, “And yes, they are real, in case you were questioning my validity. I studied to become a plastic surgeon at medical school. I had a practice – a normal practice – in San Francisco up until about a year ago.”
“Where in SF?” Dawn asked curiously.
“On Post Street, not far from Union Square,” he replied.
Dawn seemed to silently acknowledge to Shannon that she knew of the general area and nodded for Dr. Colton to continue.
“One of my associates who owns a plastic surgery practice in L.A. introduced me to the demon world,” he went on. “They provided surgery to alter the appearance of demons, though their intentions were solely for monetary gain, not for the well-being of the patient.”
“But you’re not in it for the money?” Dawn asked skeptically.
“The money is good,” the doctor admitted. “But for me it’s more than that. This one patient in particular…like I said, he was a demon who wanted so badly to fit in, just to support his family better.” Dr. Colton paused for a moment. The slightest smile appeared on his face, which sadly washed away as he looked up at Dawn and Shannon.
“My practice in San Francisco only saw the likes of women who wanted to enlarge their breasts, get a nose job, top off their weekly dose of Botox. To be frank, I grew tired of performing tit jobs day in, day out on superficial bimbos who all wanted to look the same. My work had little meaning. I wasn’t enhancing their quality of life, just the structure of their bodies. When I heard about other doctors here in Cleveland, ones that were actually helping, changing lives…well…I sold my practice and moved.”
“I don’t get it,” Shannon started. “You plastic up a demon to look human ‘cus you wanna do good, but then you charge ’em. Why not give it to them pro-boner or something?”
Dawn and Dr. Colton shared a slight snigger, much to Shannon’s offense. “I think you meant pro bono,” Dawn corrected.
With a huff, Shannon crossed her arms. “Whatever.”
“No, she’s right. Again, in an ideal world, I’d love to offer my services for free, but I already paid for the move, the surgery center, the furnishings, the staff – all of it out of my own pocket, so as not to leave an audit trail here. But I guess that failed, since you found me,” Dr. Colton said, “The truth is, I need to eat too, and earn a living, like the demons I see.”
“Well, that’s where we come in,” Dawn replied. “We can’t have anyone and everyone from the demon world coming in to you, asking for a makeover.”
“Going to shut me down, are you?” the doctor asked.
“The Council wants to make a deal,” she reached into her handbag and produced a tan folder bearing the Council’s logo.
“A deal?” he asked. The doctor found himself taken aback.
End of Act One