DISCLAIMER: I don't them. I wish I had a clever way of saying this, but I really don't. I don't own them or anything to do with them. Did I mention I don't own them?

SPOILERS: Pretty much everything so far. But I think we should assume that Buffy never died. Joyce, however, has.

AUTHOR'S NOTES: So, this is in response to Victoria's challenge, posted last year on BA_Fluff and now posted at FF.net for your reading pleasure.

FEEDBACK: Yes please. Again, I don't have a fancy way of saying it. Please, send me feedback, OK? Do you want me to grovel? Do you?



A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes

***

Buffy sat, idly chewing the end of her pen, wishing that sometime soon, the class would be over and she would be free to go back to her room and sleep. Since coming back to college, she had found it increasingly boring and frustrating. However hard she tried, she couldn't escape the fact that now she had to be a substitute parent to Dawn, and she felt now that sitting in a class about Mediaeval France was not the best use of her time. Finally, the class was over and Willow nudged her friend.

"Time to go, Buffy."

"At last!" Buffy grabbed her stuff and began walking swiftly from the lecture hall. Willow ran to catch up with her.

"Buffy, what's the matter?"

"What am I doing here?" Buffy asked her. "I shouldn't be here, I should be collecting Dawn from school, making her dinner, nagging her about homework! I shouldn't be sitting here learning stuff I really don't need!" Willow took Buffy's arm gently.

"I know it's hard. But you can't stop your life because of all that's happened. You have to still be Buffy. Not just Big Sister."

"I don't want to be Big Sister! I don't want to be mommy, I want to be Buffy! I want to be a little kid again so I don't have to worry about anything anymore!" She railed angrily.

"I want to be little Buffy, the Buffy that didn't see the world as a horrible, dark, demon infested place!" She said, tears beginning to form in her eyes. Willow led her down the hall.

"I know you do. I want that sometimes too. But we grow up. That's how the world works. And you're right, it does suck."

"I wish I could be a little kid again." Buffy said, so stubbornly, you could see exactly how Little Buffy had been.

***

The Sorcerer's apprentice giggled with glee as he ran across the lawns of UC Sunnydale. He made his way into a old building and down into the basement.

"Master! I have it!"

"You have found the Slayer's weakness?"

"Yes! She wants to be a child."

"What?" The Sorcerer stood, rising to his full height of seven feet. "That's not a weakness!"

"No master, but she wished for it! We could make her into a small child. How could she mount a defence against us if she's four years old?" The apprentice said, hoping that his master would like the idea. Either that or he was about to be thrown against a wall again.

"I like it!" The Sorcerer said, laughing a deep, evil laugh. "We'll do it tonight as she sleeps."

***

Buffy finally slid into bed at half past two. The Sorcerer and his apprentice were not in the best of moods, having waited outside her home for hours. Sleep itself came easily to the exhausted slayer, and the Sorcerer began his wicked deed.

***

The sun was already shining when Dawn woke up the next morning. She was surprised that Buffy hadn't yet come into her room to wake up her up and moan at her about being so slow. Wondering if something was wrong, she knocked on Buffy's door. She got no answer, so cautiously opened the door.

"Buffy?" Buffy?" The curtains were drawn tightly across the windows, and it was dark in the room. Dawn could just about make out Buffy's sleeping form in the bed, and so went over to the windows, throwing the curtains open.

"Go away!" A petulant voice called from the bed. Dawn turned.

"Buffy, wake up!" She said. Buffy sat up. Dawn screamed. Buffy screamed.

***

"What happened?" Willow asked. She was staying at the Summers House, and heard Dawn's scream. Then, Willow stopped dead in her tracks.

"What the...." She trailed off. Lying in Buffy's bed was a little girl, no more than four years old.

"Where's Mommy?" She asked, yawning.

"Mommy?"

"Mommy. Mommy always makes Buffy breakfast." She said.

"You're Buffy?" Dawn asked. Buffy nodded, her dark blonde hair bobbing up and down.

Willow looked closely at the girl. It really was Buffy. Anyone who knew Buffy at all could see that. Her eyes were the same, impatient, fiery, daring anyone to cross her.

"Well Buffy..." What was Willow going to say about her mother? "Mommy isn't here at the moment, but I'm going to look after you, OK?"

"Who are you?"

"I'm Willow. I'm your friend. Don't you remember me?" Willow kicked herself. Buffy was four again, of course she didn't remember Willow.

"Willow?" Buffy asked. Willow nodded. "Does my Mommy like you?"

"Yes. This is Dawn." Willow said, "Your mommy likes her as well."

"Hi Buffy," Dawn said, playing along with Willow.

"Now, we need to get you dressed." Willow said.

"No! Buffy wants to stay in bed." She said. Willow sighed. This really was going to be hard work.

"We have some of Buffy's old clothes up in the attic. I'll go get something." Dawn said. Willow smiled gratefully.

***

Everyone turned up at Buffy's house after Willow's rather frantic phone calls. Giles was first, as you might expect, slowed down slightly by the books he was carrying.

"Who are you?" Buffy called. Dawn had found her one entire outfit, but little else that would fit four year old Buffy.

"Hello... Buffy. I'm Giles." He said, smiling at the little girl, who was sat watching re-runs of cartoons she liked. She nodded, accepting the man, who followed Willow into the kitchen.

"How long has she been like this?" He asked.

"Dawn went into her room this morning and found her. She was fine last night, I saw her just before she went to bed."

"This is most curious."

"The thing is Giles, yesterday Buffy was talking about how she wanted to be a child again."

"Really?"

"Yes."

"Most interesting. We'll have a lot of research to do." The doorbell rang.

"And that's the research party." Willow said, going to let Xander, Anya and Tara into the house.

"Hey Buff!" Xander said, as if Buffy had always been four. He sat with her, and within seconds, had the little girl cackling with laughter.

***

But time began to pass, the sun set, and the Scooby Gang found itself running up against brick walls. They couldn't find a single thing that could possibly do this.

"Giles!" Willow said. "What if someone's done this to make it easier to... Kill her?"

"It's certainly a possibility. Or perhaps not to kill her, but to keep her out of action while they do... Whatever it is they want to do."

"She's in danger?" Xander whispered so the girl didn't hear.

"I should say so." Giles said.

"What are we going to do?" Willow said, her brow furrowing in thought.

"I don't think she should stay in Sunnydale. Too many people know where she lives, where she can be found."

"Where can she go?" Anya asked.

"Los Angeles." Willow said firmly. From the looks of the assembled party, she continued.

"Come on! What choice do we have? Nobody round here really knows Angel, or where he can be found now. And he can protect her. Not only that, but he will protect her."

"Fine." Giles nodded a little reluctantly. Xander agreed with a great deal more reluctance.

"Xander, she's four years old. She's not going to be all over Angel." Willow pointed out.

"You call Angel then. I have to arrange for transportation." Giles said.

"What?"

***

Spike's car screeched to a halt outside the Summers house, narrowly missing the mailbox. He got out smirking.

"So, you Scoobies need my help?" He said. They were standing on the porch waiting.

"Hi Spike." Dawn called. Spike winked at her.

"Hey nibblet." He approached. Just then, a little blonde girl came tearing out of the house, laughing manically.

"Buffy?" Spike asked, a mixture of humour and curiosity in his voice.

"Buffy," Giles called. She paid no attention. "Buffy!" He called sternly. She still ignored him, but continued to run around.

"Xander, I told you not to give her Coke to drink." He glared at the boy.

"Sorry. She only had a little sip of mine." He said.

"Spike, we need you to take Buffy to Angel in LA."

"What?"

"We don't know what caused Buffy to become her four year old self, and until we find out who did it, why they did it and how we can reverse it, she's not safe." Giles said solemnly.

Spike nodded, knowing now was not the time to ask for financial terms.

"Sure. Buffy," He called in his curious cockney accent. She turned to him immediately.

"Are you Spike?" She asked. He nodded, smirking.

"And how do you know that?" He asked, kneeling to her level.

"Xander told me all about you. How you have silly hair. And you do." She reached up and ruffled his peroxide blonde hair. Spike looked annoyed, but looked into the laughing girl's face and had to laugh himself.

"Is this OK, Spike?" Willow asked. "We wouldn't have asked, but... We really don't know what to do."

"Don't worry, Red. I'll look after her on the way to LA." Spike said, his face honest and serious for once. "Regardless of what you think I am, I wouldn't let anyone hurt Baby Slayer now, would I?" Spike stood up and took Buffy's hand.

"Wanna come on a road-trip, little Buff?" The girl giggled.

"You have a funny voice too."

"No Buff, it's not funny, it's cool." Spike corrected.

"Cool?"

"That's right." He said, opening the back door of his car for her. He got into the driver's seat and leaned round to fasten her seatbelt.

"You have a funny car."

"Yes, I do." Spike smiled. If she was going to be like this all the way to Los Angeles, he wasn't sure he could stand it. At least she couldn't hit him very hard now.

***

"Ow!" Spike cried out. "Buffy, how many times have I told you? Don't hit Spike when he's driving, OK?"

"Spikey! I wanna go to the bathroom!" She yelled in his ear. He growled at her, but instead of being scared, she merely giggled.

"Spikey growled at me!" She shouted. "Buffy want to go to the bathroom!" Spike growled again, but exited the freeway and found a Burger King.

"Come on Buff, let's go." He held her hand securely as he took her inside. He took her as far as the door to the female restroom.

"OK then Buff." He said. She didn't move. "You need help?" He asked, praying that the answer would be no. Instead, Buffy nodded.

"Mommy says I got to learn buttons, but I can't do it." She pouted, annoyed at herself. So Spike took her inside and undid the buttons on her dress.

"OK?" Buffy nodded and thankfully went into the stall on her own.

A short time later she emerged, but found herself too short to reach the sink. Spike turned on the tap and lifted her up so she could wash her hands. Then, he redid the buttons on her dress, and led her outside.

"Can I have something to eat, Spikey?"

"What do you want?"

"The thing with the toy!" She said, her face lighting up. "I want a toy!"

"Fine." Spike turned to the young man at the counter and placed an order. He hated handing over money, but was becoming strangely fond of the little girl.

***

Spike finally pulled up outside the Hyperion Hotel two and a half hours after leaving Buffy's house, thanks to numerous toilet stops. When he opened the door for Buffy, several empty food and drink cartons fell out.

"Is this it?" Buffy asked. She bent her neck back to see to the top of the building.

"It's awful big." She said.

"I know. Bit much if you ask me. What do you say we go inside, Buff?" Spike suggested, knowing that Angel and his crew would be waiting. She looked a little apprehensive.

"I don't know." She said. "I want to go home." She looked like she might cry, a little intimidated by the rather large building looming over her. Spike knelt down to look her directly in the eye.

"Buffy?" He asked gently. "Do you like me?" She nodded. "Do you trust me?" She nodded again.

"Good. I promise you that inside is someone who can look after you."

"Mommy?" She perked up. Spike's heart fell. No, it wouldn't ever be her mother again.

"No, not Mummy."

"Who?"

"Someone who cares about you lots and lots." He told her. "OK? Why don't we just go inside." He looked at her scared face. "If you still don't like it, I'll see what I can do. Maybe you can come home with me." He hoped she'd stay with Angel. He opened the door and led her inside.

"Angel?" He called out into the empty lobby. From Angel's office a woman emerged.

"Cordelia."

"Spike." She nodded, almost cordial.

Buffy looked up and saw one of the most beautiful women she'd ever seen in her short life.

"Hello Buffy." Cordelia said.

Willow had explained on the phone that Buffy was now her four year old self, and Cordelia had very little problem accepting that. Damn, she'd spent too long living a weird life.

"Hello," Buffy said shyly, still holding Spike's hand tightly.

"I'm Cordelia." Cordelia smiled gently at her. A moment later, two men emerged from the office. They were huge! Buffy was a little frightened.

"This is Wesley and Gunn." Cordelia told her. They both smiled and waved at her.

The one with dark skin winked at her, and if she hadn't been so scared, she would have laughed. Then, another man came out of the room. He was tall and commanding. Buffy's heart began to beat wildly and she gripped Spike's hand even tighter. He squeezed it back and she looked up. He smiled and winked at her.

"Hello Buffy." The man said.

He had a deep voice, not entirely unfamiliar to her. But he was so much bigger than her, he towered over her. Not even her daddy was as big as this man.

"H... Hello." She managed. He smiled. Suddenly she felt less scared. This man had a nice smile.

"Did Spike take care of you on the way here?" The man asked. Buffy merely nodded shyly. He smiled again.

"Thank you Spike." Angel said. Spike nodded, kneeling down to speak to Buffy.

"I have to go home now, OK?" He told her gently. Her eyes filled with fear. "Don't worry Buffy, Angel's going to look after you. Aren't you, Angel?" Angel nodded.

"I don't want to stay here. Can I go home with you?"

"Don't you want to stay here with Angel and Cordelia?" Spike asked. Buffy shook her head.

"No. I want to go with you."

"Why?"

"Because you're funny." Spike smiled.

"Angel can be funny." He smirked at Angel. "It's just not always intentional. Tell you what, I'll come and see you soon, OK?" Buffy nodded. Spike stood up and nodded to Angel.

"That's OK, right?"

"Sure Spike." Angel nodded. Then he knelt down to speak to Little Buffy.

***

His heart flipped a little. She did look terrified. At least it wasn't twenty year old Buffy in four year old Buffy's body. That would be weird. And he knew Buffy wouldn't be pleased.

"Are you tired, Buffy?" He asked. She certainly looked it. She yawned and nodded.

"Well, why don't we take you to your room?"

"OK."

"Bye Buffy." Spike said as Angel began to lead her away.

"Spikey! I don't want Spikey to go!" She said loudly.

Angel glared at Spike, who was trying valiantly not to smirk triumphantly. She might be only four right now, but she'd just picked him instead of Angel.

"Buff, you need to stay here. Remember what I told you? Angel's going to look after you much better than I could." That was true, Spike realised. Buffy broke away from Angel to run and attach herself to Spike.

"You'll come back soon? Promise?" She looked up at him with her big Buffy eyes.

"Yeah, I promise." He smiled. "But only if you're a good girl and go with Angel now." Buffy nodded.

"OK." She relaxed her grip on Spike. On impulse, Spike hugged the little girl tightly.

"You'll be OK, I promise." He whispered to her, before releasing her and leaving swiftly, before the girl had a chance to object again.

***

Buffy looked around at her surroundings. Perhaps it wasn't so bad. She realised that the room was awfully pretty, with big red sofas. She yawned.

"Why don't we take you up to bed, Buffy?" Angel said, realising how ridiculous that sounded.

Were there many things in the world he'd rather do than take Buffy to her bed? When she was grown up, of course. Now she was just a tired little girl that Angel needed to protect.

"Is it very far away?"

"No, Buffy, it isn't." Angel smiled sweetly at her. Buffy took the hand he offered and allowed the big, slightly intimidating man with the nice smile take her up the stairs.

"If Angel doesn't end up in therapy after this, I know I will." Cordelia said to Wes and Gunn as soon as Angel and Buffy were out of sight.

***