Dawn crept down the dark wooden stairs. She was cringing. She could still hear Willow and Kennedy screaming at each other from the apartment. They were going to get the cops called on them. She didn't need their mess so she was getting out of the house. It didn't matter how high the ceilings were or how large the windows were in the apartment; she might as well been cooped up in jewelry box. Today was stressful on everyone without Kennedy's jealousies and Willow's brooding. It was T-Day. Today was the day Tara had been killed. It was only two years ago but the whole world had changed. Sunnydale was gone like Spike and Angel, there were Slayers out the wazoo, and she lived in Italy. There were other things going on too. Willow was one of the most powerful beings in the world. That meant only one thing here in the Old World that didn't appreciate New World upstarts; they were trying to pants her like she was a freshman but only in a extreme, death, sort of witch way. Dawn figured that while the domestic dispute was underway she could put in some valuable man hours at the Watcher's Rome library.
It was early but the streets were already warming up and people were walking to their jobs or buying something from the shops. Dawn stood at the top of her stoop and smiled. They lived in a beautiful neighborhood that was full of the old brick and stone houses that they showed all the time on the Travel Channel. She sometimes felt like Samantha Brown from Passport to Europe but without the whole alcoholism thing. The sun was high over Rome and she could see the roofs of the Vatican shining. There wasn't a cloud, the day looked lovely. Then she heard Kennedy slam open an window and yell.
"I don't care if everyone hears me!"
Dawn sighed. Mrs. Bianchi was walking her dog and frowned at Dawn as she moved up the stoop stairs. The little fluff ball dog started to tug on Mrs. Bianchi's slacks so the rays of disapproval were turned to something else. Dawn shrugged and frowned. Love makes you do the wacky and with her family, the wacky, was an understatement.
Dawn unzipped her brown hoodie, it was already warm, and walked down the stairs. She was ignoring Willow and Kennedy but she heard when the window was closed. Thank God. Stepping through the crowd of tourists that were being herding down the street, Dawn wondered where they had all came from. They did that a lot. It could be quite startling. She still hadn't gotten over being in Rome but sometimes it could be a bit much. It was September and both the tourists and the Romans were in the town. That made walking the two block distance to the Watcher's Council building a lesson in watching your purse and your elbows as she tried to not get pick-pocketed or bumped.
The council had gotten them a great apartment near the ancient Watcher's Council headquarters in Rome. It was great but there was only one problem with it; it was in walking distance of every tourist-y sight in Rome. It was just off St. Stefano de Cacco so that meant it was always busy. She was used to it and had, actually, come to enjoy the crowds. Dawn had thought that it would kind of be like the commercials and the movies but she had gotten past that. She wasn't so naïve about Rome to think that spontaneous soccer, football she reminded herself, games just happened in the streets like that UPS commercial. That was why she was puzzled by the little Boys vs. Girls game being played. She smiled at such a cute sight then she saw that it was too packed for that. How could the kids move through the crowd? No one else was noticing the little kids. Dawn tilted her head and grew wide-eyed when she saw it. All the kids looked normal and real. The one of the little boys ran through a pack of old tourists. Not just through but through, through.
Dawn turned around looking at the crowd. She had seen and felt ghosts before. This was something else. Something very different. The little children were still playing their game. Dawn started to walk back to the apartment. Looking up she watched the windows of their apartment building. Willow had her head out. Something just wasn't kosher in their part of the Eternal City.
Running and shifting through the crowd, she looked back. There was Tara. In the middle of the crowd but so far from it. She shimmered and glowed and looked like the Pacific on a really great day when you are having a picnic and a good time. Dawn couldn't breathe. Her mouth had gone dry and her eyes were hot. That wasn't Tara. That wasn't Tara. Whipping back around, she almost slammed into an Ethiopian but stopped before running back to the apartment building. She hoped Willow didn't see. Dawn wished that she hadn't.
She took to the stairs running. Missing the elevator, she had to run up the three stories to their apartment. Panting, she opened the door and she saw Willow and Kennedy, silent and working together, placing long white tapers in a circle.
"Did you see?" Dawn asked sputtering. "The little phantom kids?" She watched Willow's face. She seemed worried but calm. She hadn't saw Tara. Good.
"I think its those Swiss witches. They were really angry when I ruined that sacrifice." Willow frowned. "It wasn't like they were invoking right anyway."
"So, this a easy fix?" Dawn asked.
"Yeah," Kennedy said lighting a candle. "If it isn't, well, I can kick ass."
"This is so simple, its like they aren't even trying. It like the last season of Dougie Houser. Its like they don't even care." Willow said as she crossed her legs and sat Indian style.
"What is with you and Dougie Houser?" Kennedy asked with a grin as she rolled her eyes. Willow shrugged and began to chant in Latin. It was a simple rhyme and the candles flickered at every sentence's end.
Dawn walked over to the window to look down at the streets. She saw Tara standing on the stoop looking up and waving. The other witches only wanted Willow's attention to show her Tara, Dawn thought as she grimaced. That was messed up to a extreme degree. Leaning on her forehead, which was pressed against the window, she sniffed as she watched Tara frown and put her hands on her hips. She wanted to come up. Dawn wanted to run down and hug her old friend but it wasn't real. Tara was gone. Willow couldn't know. The chanting behind her reached its peak and Dawn saw Tara dissolve. A horned demon was in her place. Its forked tongue jutted out and its reptilian body glittered in the harsh Italian sun.
"Kennedy. We got a demon on our stoop." Dawn said flatly. She wanted to go to sleep. Turning around she saw Willow look at her with concern. She slipped on a wan smile and walked over to her room. It was T-Day. At least she had survived.