Title: Crush

Author: mistymidnight.

Rating: PG

Timeline/Spoilers: Early season two, BEFORE Dawn and Joyce knew about Buffy being the Slayer.

Disclaimer: Well…I'm running out of cute comments to make here. They're not mine.

Summary: Ten-year-old Dawn gets a crush on Xander…and the only person who can relate is the one who shares the feeling.

Dedication: To Jessica—bumf! (Not a typo.)

                     And to gidgetgirl—thanks for the idea!

Author's Notes: As requested by gidgetgirl, here it is! Little Dawnie's first crush! (Awww!)

Crush

            Dawn Summers sat at the counter eating Saltines. Technically, she wasn't supposed to be out of bed, or off the couch if you wanted to be specific, but Mom was in the shower, most likely getting rid of Dawnie germs, and Buffy wasn't home from school yet.

            Dawn's stomach started to hurt again, and she took the box of Saltines back with her to the couch. Settling down and pulling the blanket over herself, she picked up the television remote and changed the channel. She'd been watching "Educational Programming". She thought the daytime programs were boring and childish, and she could never understand what people on soap operas were talking about. If they all hated each other so much, why didn't they just not date each other? It sure would make things a lot simpler.

            There should be a TV channel with cool shows all day long, Dawn thought, and they should call it the "Sick Kids Who Have To Stay At Home All Day" Channel. Or not.

            She checked the time on the VCR. It was two fifty-two. Darn it, she'd have to wait a whole eight minutes before all the good shows came on.

            Dawn hated being sick.

            She heard voices from outside and tried to twist on the couch to look out the window, but it made her want to throw up again. She grabbed for her ginger ale. Mom had put it in a sippy cup. As embarrassing as it would be to be eleven years old and drinking out of a sippy cup, Dawn didn't mind very much. It was a comfort when she was sick, much like the way she'd never eat Saltines on a regular day.

            The front door opened and Buffy came in with Willow and Xander. Dawn actually didn't see very much of them; Buffy didn't share much about her life with Dawn and Mom. Especially her boyfriend, Angel. Dawn had never met him, but Buffy was always writing about him in her diary. (Which, yes, Dawn made a habit out of reading.) It made Dawn kind of wish she had a boyfriend too, but boys in her class were disgusting and immature. If they weren't sticking things up their noses, they were pelting other kids with things that had once been stuck up their noses. Dawn didn't remember the boys in L.A. being so gross. Maybe because she thought it was funny, too, when she was younger.

            "Hi, Dawnie. Feeling better?" Willow asked her best friend's little sister. Poor Dawnie. She looks so miserable.

            "A little," Dawn lied, trying to be cool for her sister's friends. She didn't know them all that well. They were nice enough, though.

            Buffy, of course, had no sympathy for her younger sister. She turned to her friends. "Maybe we shouldn't have come over here. I don't want you guys to get what Dawn's got."

            "Aren't you going to ask me how I feel?" Dawn demanded of her sister. "I'm sick. Mom said it was bad. I could have died, and you don't even care." Okay, so it was a little melodramatic. It got Buffy's attention, though.

            "Dawnie," she said, "I've seen enough death to know what it looks like. You've just got the flu."

            "Right, I'm sure you see death all the time. You're the Slayer."

            Buffy's head snapped up. Willow and Xander looked a little panicked.

            "I don't know what you're talking about."

            "You don't know what you're talking about, either. You shouldn't write stories in your diary. People will think you're a nutso."

            Buffy breathed a sigh of relief. Good, she doesn't know. "You're right Dawnie. I shouldn't." Then what Dawn had said hit her. "You READ MY DIARY???"

            "Umm, no?"

            Buffy glared at her sister. "We'll talk later," she said menacingly. She turned to Willow and Xander. "Back to what I was saying before, maybe we should go."

            "Nah," Xander said good-naturedly, plopping down on the other end of the sofa. "If Dawn's got it, it's probably going around. We'll all get it sooner or later." He turned to Dawn. "Anything good on?"

            Buffy gave him a look. "Come on, Xander," she said. "I really don't want you getting it. Dawn gets sick all the time. It's probably not 'just going around'. She's probably the first in the whole state to get it."

            "I don't—" Xander began.

            "Listen," Buffy told him. "Here in the Summers house we have a saying. A saying that goes, 'Flu season starts with Dawn.' We really ought to go."

            Xander gave in. "O—kay," he sighed, following Buffy out of the living room. "Bye, Dawn."

            "Bye," Dawn said rather dreamily. Xander's great, she thought.

 No one picked up on Dawn's tone except the redhead who was still standing in the doorway.

                                                            *            *            *

            Dawn sat sullenly at school. She'd been out for a week with the flu and she'd missed a lesson on long division, a test on George Washington's Army, and a science project called "The Solar System." Her teacher was making her stay at after-school tutoring to make it up. Dawn frowned again. Tutoring. She was the best student in her class; she didn't belong in tutoring. Unfortunately, she'd missed a whole English lesson about verbs as well and needed someone to teach it to her. Mom was too busy at the gallery and Buffy never would, so here she was. Just her luck. She'd probably get stuck with some stupid high schooler that was only tutoring so it'd count as community service for college.

            She shouldn't have been surprised when Willow Rosenberg sat down next to her, but she was.

            "Hey, Dawnie," Willow smiled. "What are you doing here?"

            "Making up stuff from when I was sick."

            Willow gave her an understanding look. "Ah. It kinda makes you wish you were still sick, doesn't it?"

            "Yeah," Dawn said wistfully. "At least I'd be at home."

            Willow smiled again. "And Xander would be over every day, telling you to feel better."

            "Yeah," Dawn said again. Then she realized what had happened. "What—? How did you…?

            Willow actually laughed a little bit. "First crush?"

            Dawn looked around, a little embarrassed. "Yeah," she said quietly.

            Willow began unpacking Dawn's backpack for her, piling the make-up work on the table. "How about we go out for milkshakes when we finish here? We can talk a little."

            Dawn nodded, feeling honored that someone so much older and cooler would pay her this much attention. "Okay."

            "Okay," Willow said. "Now, what do we have to do?"

                                                            *            *            *

            Willow pushed open the door to the Espresso Pump. The weather outside was gray and rainy. It was the perfect day for a milkshake. She and Dawn got in line.

            "What flavor do you want?" Willow asked her. "It's on me."

            Dawn looked carefully at the menu hung on the wall behind the counter, trying to find something inexpensive. But, of course, this was the Espresso Pump, a place where the word 'inexpensive' just didn't exist.

            "Chocolate, please," Dawn said, remembering her manners.

            The redhead gave her an approving look. "That's my favorite, too," she said. Then she turned to the man at the counter. "Two large chocolate milkshakes, please."

            The man smiled as he rang up their orders. "I wish my daughter would take her sister out for milkshakes," he said.

            Dawn giggled a little. The thought of being Willow's sister was really cool. Willow would never give her a wedgie for reading her diary.

            They got their milkshakes and sat down at one of the tables. Willow poked at her milkshake with her straw, while Dawn sucked on her straw as hard as she could. No luck. She'd have to wait until it melted a little bit.

            "So…you like Xander, huh?" Willow asked.

            "Yeah, I guess so," Dawn said, looking down at her milkshake, suddenly a little shy. "Promise you won't tell anybody?"

            Willow nodded solemnly. "Cross my heart, hope to…never mind. I promise."

            Dawn relaxed a little bit and used her straw to try stirring her shake. "He's so nice and funny."

            Willow smiled. "I know. I've known him since I was really little. He's a Barbie thief, though."

            Dawn giggled. The thought of Willow and Xander as little kids, kids younger than Dawn herself, even—was just kind of funny.

            Suddenly, out of the blue, Willow asked, "Dawnie, do you like chess?"

            Dawn looked at her new friend. "I've never played."

            "Oh, you should," Willow said, taking a sip from her milkshake. "I think you'd like it."

            Dawn shrugged. "I don't know."

            "Tell you what," Willow said. "You. Me. Friday night. Buffy's got patr—Buffy's busy, I think, so we can have a girls' night, if it's okay with your mom."

            Dawn smiled, nodding enthusiastically. "Great! I'm pretty sure it would be okay."

            "And we can talk about Xander or school or whatever else you want to talk about."

            "Yay!" Dawn said. "I can hardly wait!" She took a big gulp of her milkshake.

            Willow smiled, happy that Dawn had accepted. Buffy had mentioned that Dawn was having trouble making friends at school.

            Dawn was thrilled. Her sister's friends were so cool.

            So how come they hung out with Buffy?

************************************************************************

Okay, so there was very little Dawn and Xander interaction. The story was mostly Willow and Dawn. I'm sorry, I'm not good at writing romance, even if it is just the first crush puppy love kind.

Oh, well. Hope you enjoyed.

*mistymidnight*