DISCLAIMER: Joss Whedon owns all of the BtVS and AtS related characters. I own Kaya and the other little ones.
SUMMARY: Five years post Chosen, Willow, Buffy, and Xander are running a preschool for young Potentials and otherwise magically gifted little ones, when Faith returns with a three year old daughter able to communicate with the dead. Everyone dead at the end of Buffy Season seven is still dead in this fic, regardless of Angel Season Five.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: No, I should not be starting another fic. Yes, I know that, but I'm insomniac girl tonight, and this plotline refuses to let me sleep until I write its first chapter… slave to the muse and all that. Anyway, time is tight and the fics are many, so please let me know if you're interested in reading this fic. Otherwise, it could get shelved quickly, because I am an evil fanfic author with too many stories and not enough time. Darned Muse.
SMALL PACKAGES: Chapter One
The sign was hand painted with rainbow letters and hung on the outside of the modestly sized, cheerfully white building.
SUNNY POTENTIAL PRESCHOOL: because we see the potential in every child. To those who worked there, the school's name held a different meaning, but to the outside world in their Cleveland suburb, Potential was just a small, privately run preschool with some of the toughest admission criteria in the state.
Inside the school, class was proceeding as usual.
"And what letter is this?" the teacher asked her students softly, drawing a letter in the air with the tip of her index fingers, leaving a trail of light in her wake.
"G," whispered a brown haired child in an almost inaudible voice, looking down at the ground. She was painfully shy.
Willow smiled at the little girl. Though she never would have admitted it, of all the children in her class, silent, tentative, and very inappropriately named Valentine Thomas was her favorite. The child had been with them almost six months, and though she wasn't the most powerful of the children, she had a sweetness about her that Willow held close to her heart.
"What did you say, Val?" Willow whispered encouragingly, smiling at the child.
Val looked up at Willow from underneath her light brown hair and smiled, ducking her head shyly. "G," she whispered again.
"IT'S A G!" Claire, a four year old blonde-haired, blue-eyed one person wrecking ball, yelled out at the top of her lungs, unable to contain her excitement. Val offered Claire a tentative smile, and always friendly, Claire grinned and then turned her angelic face to Willow. "We're right, huh?" she shouted. "Val and me, we're right."
Willow nodded. "Way with the rightness," she confirmed before continuing on with the lesson, the magical letter staying perfectly in tact in the air. "And what starts with the letter G?" she asked, the smiling spreading naturally over her face. The kids' excitement was contagious.
"Games," Claire shouted, trying to give Willow a not so subtle hint that it was just about time for recess.
"Goran powder," a little boy, one of their more advanced magic students at the ripe old age of almost five, said confidently. The only boy in Willow's group, he was sitting a good two feet away from the three little girls, disgust clear on his little male face. As Brandon had informed Willow loftily that morning, he didn't play with girls anymore.
Willow nodded. "That's right," she said cheerfully. "What else?"
"Glaive," a little voice piped up. "Is it Fun with Weapons Time yet?" Noelle, dressed as always in a very feminine dress, loved Fun with Weapons Time and didn't like much else. Willow had no idea why her mother put the little tomboy in a dress every day, because by the time Noelle left Potential each afternoon, the dress was either filthy or very literally in shreds.
"WEAPONS!" Claire yelled out, full blast. Val shrank back. Unlike Noelle and Claire, Val wasn't a Slayer and she never would be, and the timid girl didn't share Noelle's love of all things gory or Claire's penchant for destruction.
Willow looked around. Noelle was right; it was time for a mild and wacky weapons session for the little Slayers. It helped them let off extra energy just before reading time, but Buffy was still in the office, Xander hadn't come back from naptime with the littlest ones, and Willow so wasn't up to doing anything involving Noelle, Claire, and anything sharp and/or pointy.
"I don't want to do weapons," Brandon complained. "Weapons are for girls." Since all of the slayers at the school were girls, Brandon had never met a little boy who could handle a crossbow the way the girls could, and so he naturally assumed that weapons, along with dolls and dress-up, were for girls, and girls were to be avoided at all cost.
"GIRLS!" Claire belted out, just to be yelling something.
Val, as usual, said nothing, and Noelle looked to be about five seconds away from pummeling Brandon into the ground. Willow looked toward the office door. Buffy was supposed to be interviewing a potential student, but surely she would be free soon.
They had nine full time students now, and Willow knew that unless Dawn suddenly changed her mind and decided to move back home and go to a college a little West Coast-ish and a little more Ohio-y, they would have a hard time dealing with any more. Still, the red-haired wicca knew that Buffy wouldn't turn a needy child away from Potential, a child who needed the kind of guidance and support only they could give.
Willow sighed. The natives were clearly getting restless, and she knew that Alphabet Time was just about over. "Let's go check on Uncle Xander," she said. She was 'Miss Willow,' and Buffy was 'Miss Buffy,' but no one, not even the children, could bring themselves to call Xander 'Mr. Xander.'
Willow stood up, and almost instantly, Val had silently slipped her tiny hand into Willow's. Will smiled down at the girl, and shyly, Val grinned back.
Claire ran out of the room, full speed, turning a few circles while she was at it and jumping madly around. "UNCLE XANDER!" she yelled.
"Indoor voice," Willow called after Claire. "The little guys might still be sleeping."
"Great," Brandon muttered, following Willow out of the room. "More girls."
Willow stifled a grin. Of the five littlest students, those under the age of four, three were girls and slayers and two were boys. Brandon was just broody enough to see the dark side of things.
By the time Willow got to the Nap Room, Claire had already flung open the door and was well on her way to orchestrating a pillow fight with Noelle.
Willow scanned the room and did a quick mental survey. The twins, Chinese and small for their three years, were babbling to each other in a makeshift language that no one but the two of them understood. The two-year-old Potential, the newest addition to their school, was running around the room in circles, falling down every so often, and in the corner, one little boy was just about to sink his teeth into the other little boy's leg.
Xander was asleep in the middle of the room, snoring lightly.
"Drew!" Willow yelled, raising her voice and getting the little werewolf's attention. Drew paused moments before sinking his teeth into his best friend's calf. "What's the number one rule here?" Willow asked sternly.
"No biting," all of the children chorused at once.
"That's right," Willow said. One little wolfie was plenty for any preschool, even one as eclectic as Potential.
Looking down at Xander, Willow sighed. This was exactly why Xander usually wasn't in charge of naptime. He always ended up napping, and none of the kids ever did.
Willow grinned wickedly. "Dog pile on top of Uncle Xander!" she said. Immediately, eight of the children threw themselves on top of Xander. Val stood back, still holding Willow's hand.
Xander's eyes flew open as he was hugged, kissed, bounced on, and pummeled all at once. "I'm awake," he said, holding up his only free hand in defeat. "I'm awake."
Screaming with laughter, the kids continued to attack him. Willow gave him a little nod.
"That's what you get for falling asleep on the job," she said, only half joking.
Xander stood up, sweeping two of the girls into his arms and manfully ignoring the three children attached to his legs.
"Fun with Weapons," Noelle insisted, tugging on his pant leg. The lace at the bottom of her dress was already starting to fall off, torn during the dog pile.
Xander looked back at Willow. "Where's Buff?" he asked.
"WHERE IS MISS BUFFY?" Claire boomed, a good natured smile on her face and her arms firmly wrapped around Xander's leg.
"Only one of us can make it. You put up a valiant fight," Buffy said, addressing her box of Chinese carry out morosely. Picking up her chopsticks, Buffy went after the last bit of noodles left in the box. "At least you've died with honor," she said. Then she grinned childishly. "In my tummy," she added. The fact that she spent all day with people under the age of five was starting to show.
The chopsticks slipped, and Buffy dropped the last bite on the ground. She sighed and glared at the chopsticks for a moment before licking them off and tucking them into the waistband of her skirt. Though they were completely evil as eating utensils, wooden chop sticks made for useful no muss no fuss slaying weapons.
Buffy leaned back, putting her feet up on the desk, looking at her nails. Between slayage and sand box-age, they weren't exactly French manicure perfect. She looked at the clock on the wall. Her two o'clock appointment hadn't showed up yet, and it was already two fifteen.
When she heard a knock at the door, Buffy whipped her legs off the desk and put her best 'professional' expression on her face. "Come in," she called.
She saw the child first, a little girl of no more than three years old with thick and slightly wavy brown hair, so dark it was almost black, dark eyelashes, pale skin, and piercingly light blue eyes.
Buffy knelt down to the child's level. "I'm Buffy Summers," she said. "The kids here call me Miss Buffy."
"No," the little girl said firmly.
Buffy looked at her, surprised. "No what?" she asked.
"No you," the child replied stubbornly.
"Kaya," the mother said softly. "She doesn't like strangers," she explained. Buffy stood up and turned her smile in the woman's direction.
"Hello, B," the woman said, putting a protective hand on her daughter's head.
"Faith," Buffy said, shock in her eyes and the smile frozen on her face.
"Buffy," Faith returned, not knowing how to begin.
"Kaya," the little girl said firmly, pointing to her chest and stating her name in the silence that followed. Then, tilting her head to the side, she grinned. "Spike," she said finally.
Buffy stared at the child. "What did she say?" she asked Faith.
"That's why I'm here," Faith replied.
TBC (possibly)… hopefully this will cure my insomnia. Whether or not I'll continue, I don't know. Let me know what you think and if you'd like to read more. If I do continue, we'll get to know Kaya, who's very much her mother's daughter, and we'll see more of all of the other children, plus an eventual crossover with AtS and guest appearances from additional Buffy characters, past and present.