A/N: Hello all! waves Shady-777 here, the authoress of this fic. I'd like to make a few quick notes before you read. Firstly, this fic is set in the early seasons of Buffy, around seasons one and two. Maybe early third season, but that's pushing it. The reason is so that I could have a shy, wallflowery Willow. You know, before she got tougher and more powerful. Not that I don't like her powerful--I do--but for the purposes of this fic, I needed her fresh and easily hurt.
This is a one-shot, so don't expect more chapters. It's just a little something I whipped up after flunking the driving test more than twice. .;; It really bashes testers, and is purely fictional as I doubt any tester in the world ( hopefully ) is as rude as the one in this piece. So don't take it too seriously...it's aim is just to make you laugh.
For anyone out there who's ever failed a driving test, this is for you. If you've never failed a driving test, regardless of age, great! You're doing better than me!
/ canned laughter is heard /
Ahem, if you've never failed, you should still find this funny. =) Or at the very least amusing.
Your standard disclaimer: I don't own what Joss Whedon does. I am merely borrowing Willow, I don't ( sadly ) own her or anything associated with Mutant Enemy, BtVS, or anything of the like.
But enough with the chitchat, on with the fic!
Willow's Driving Test
All was well in the life of Willow Rosenberg. She'd passed Driver's Ed in flying colors only weeks ago, and now all her hard work and determination of learning to drive was finally going to pay off!
And why shouldn't it? A dedicated student, Willow was always on the top of her game. She'd showed up five--sometimes ten--minutes early to each class, took more notes than most students, and always paid careful attention to what her driving instructor was teaching about the laws of the road. Many of this in-the-classroom training had included fun videos and little-known facts. For example, she'd been surprised to learn that a train hitting a car was the equivalent of a car driving over a pop can. And two thirds of collisions between trains and cars happened in broad daylight!
The behind the wheel experiences had been a joy as well. Her driving instructor had always been very calm and lenient with his pupils. Whenever they did something wrong, his reaction was not to scream and yell but rather explain what they'd did in calm, comforting tones. Sometimes he'd had to use his brake, but all in all most of the students were apt pupils, and Willow had had no worries riding with them.
In fact, the red-headed wiccan had developed into quite the able driver herself.
Now she was waiting in the family's small red Beretta parked backwards under the shade trees, just as procedure dictated. The day was warm and sunny, matching her mood. Yet this cheerful attitude was also tempered with worry. There was no denying that she was a good driver, but would she be good enough to pass?
Hard to say. Recently there'd been horror stories floating around among the student body at Sunnydale High. Some said it was impossible to pass the Sunndydale DMV Driver's Test. Terror-struck teens whispered of a mean tester who never let anyone pass regardless of how well they did. One unfortunate girl, Stephanie, claimed to have failed 23 times in a row.
And she still didn't have her Driver's License.
But that can't be true...they have to be joking. It can't be that bad. Not after what I've seen...and what Buffy and the others have been through....Driver's Test? Piece of cake. No vampires or demons here. Just me and the laws of the road. How bad can it be?
If only she'd known.
Ten minutes passed.
Where was the tester? She was running very late, and it was starting to get rather stuffy inside the car.
Another minute went by.
Unable to take the heat any longer, Willow was just starting to roll the window down to get some fresh air when a woman wearing a gray shirt and carrying a metal clipboard and some papers came up. Her messy brown hair was done up in an equally as sloppy bun, and her name-tag read "Carol Ann".
" Hello there, nice day isn't it? " Willow chirped merrily, figuring it was best to get things started off on the right foot.
Carol Ann frowned. " Not for you it isn't! " She snorted.
" Wha...? "
Carol Ann's hand shot out, and for a horrible moment Willow was afraid she was going to hit her on the face. But no, the unfriendly hand paused inches in front of her face, flat and extended.
" I need to see some ID and proof of insurance." The woman grated with all the sweetness of vinegar poured over rye bread.
Gulp. Maybe they were right. Willow thought, reaching into her jeans-pocket and producing her ID. Then she proceeded to grope for the glove box, where the insurance papers were kept...
" This year would be nice! " Carol Ann grumbled, crossing her arms and rolling her eyes. New drivers were the worst kind of scum. This one was no exception. I want to hurry up and get this over with so I can sneak back into the break room and score some pizza. Why do I have to baby-sit this imbecile driver? Gees Louise, if I didn't need the money...
" Um....here? " Willow offered meekly, setting first the ID, then the insurance in the rude tester's hand. Perhaps this wasn't such a hot idea after all. Maybe she'd have been better off taking the test in a different city, like some of her peers had suggested.
Carol Ann snapped back her hand so fast it was dizzying. She gave a quick glance at the ID before tossing it back with the words, " Yeah whatever. That's really some picture you got on there." Then her eyes met the insurance papers. " Farmer's insurance? You cheap-skates! " She laughed, tossing the insurance papers in Willow's face while simultaneously shoving the metal clipboard into her stomach. " Sign here." She jabbed a manicured fingernail in the spot Willow was to sign, and she wasn't gentle about it either. The paper actually ripped a bit.
Willow signed, thinking all the while how incredibly rude this person was. And...how well am I going to do on the test? The forecast was gloomy. But she couldn't back out now...her mom had already paid the ten bucks! Just have to flow with it...a little courtesy goes a long way. Yes, she's rude. No, I don't like her. But that's no reason to follow her example. Just hang in there, Will. You'll get through this. She strapped her seatbelt on.
Carol Ann went up to the front of the vehicle. " Left hand signal! " She barked.
Willow was quick to extend her arm out...
" Right hand signal! "
She shifted her elbow...
" Stop!Slowdownturnleftrighthandsignalleftnosegreen! " The words came rapid-fire and rammed together, like a chipmunk talking. Willow barely understood any of it. She turned her hand down, up, straight...all the ways she knew to the best of her understanding.
Carol Ann didn't so much as glance over. " Start this ugly piece of junk! " She commanded, wishing so much that she was back home enjoying a nice large pizza with all the extra toppings. Moist breadsticks, warm cinnamon rolls....
The engine roared to life. Curse this stupid driver!
" Left turn signal! "
The appropriate light blinked as Willow complied with the request.
Carol Ann was not happy. Such a waste of time giving Driver's Tests to incompetent morons who shouldn't even exist to take up the precious air they breathed. She thinks she's so smart, does she? Well, we'll just see how well Miss Rosenberg does with this!
Taking a deep breath, she rasped, "Rightturnsignalbreaknobreakagainleftrearblinker! "
A small smile slid across her lips as this newbie struggled to keep up with the commands. Protocol demanded that the back break lights and turn signals be checked, but what the heck. It was all just a waste of time anyway. Her shift was almost over...the sooner she flunked Willow, the sooner she could get back to doing what she loved most: lazing around on her bum at home watching reality shows and eating pizza.
I wish I could flunk her now. She thought about making up some excuse about a light not working properly, or the insurance being expired. Decided against it. No way her boss would fall for that for the third time in a single day. He'd almost caught her last time as it was. No, too risky. This job may suck, but she sure would miss the paychecks. Without money, there would be no reality shows and no food to enjoy them with. Such a pity. With a discontent sigh, she came around and took her place in the passenger's seat, never bothering with such absurd ideas as a seatbelt.
She was a tester. She was above the law.
Finally. Willow rolled up her window and turned the air conditioner on.
Despite the fact that it was ninety degrees out, Carol Ann couldn't stand the idea of an air-conditioner being on, especially if it meant someone else might be comfortable. She was just right, and if Willow wasn't, well that was just tough beans.
Shewas the tester. She decided the temperature of the car!
" What are you trying to do, freeze me solid? This goes off! "
" But..." Willow started to object.
How dare she argue with me! In a fit of rage, Carol Ann grabbed her pad and began making marks on the paper with her pen. " Minus two points." She stated with mock calmness, totally enjoying the mix of pure shock and horror Willow wore on her face. " Now drive up to those poles and park between them! And it has to be just perfect too! "
Well, okay, so she's got a nasty temper. Maybe if I just remain calm and do exactly what she says I can still pass. Willow looked out in the front lot. Positioned in two straight lines near a curb were four large, bright orange poles. She was familiar with them from the Driver's manual. The idea was that they represented the space between two cars, and she was to park between them the way she would real vehicles. Her heart sank as she realized they were ridiculously close together. Why, she'd have a hard time parking a bike in there!
Carol Ann didn't seem to care. She pointed at the poles and sat aloof, reminding the wiccan of a vulture watching a zebra on it's last legs and just waiting for it to mess up. Of course. She's probably the one who set them up.
Willow had no idea how correct her guess was.
The truth was that Carol Ann couldn't parallel park right herself, so it bugged her no end to see other people do it. If she couldn't do it, nobody could! Willow would fail, of course. Just the way that whiny Stephanie always did. These poles were unbeatable.
Gulp. Doing her best to bite back the nervous, bad feeling writhing around inside her stomach like a voracious snake, Willow shifted the car into "drive" and began pulling up alongside the poles. Just as the driver's manual had instructed, she pulled up until her rear bumper was even with the front-most poles, turned the wheels a sharp right, and glided into the space. When she was halfway to the curb she stopped, turned the wheels a sharp left, and swung into the spot. A tiny bit of fin angling and she was perfectly parked between the ridiculously small space.
" I'm parked! " An overjoyed Willow announced triumphantly, shifting the gear into "park." She'd done it! She'd licked the parallel parking! And on the hardest space-setting too! Hah! Take that Carol Ann! She spared a glance at her tester, unable to contain her happy smile.
Carol Ann's world had been tuned upside down. Her mouth hung open in a silent scream, her eyes wide as saucers and fixed firmly on the un-jarred poles only inches in front of the Beretta's bumper.
How?! How had this stupid redhead managed to do it? How?! It should have been impossible. Countless students had failed in the past, it was impossible that this flawless record could be broken!
I'm going to have to set them closer together, the enraged tester fumed silently, I'll fix those poles so that not even a tricycle can park between them!
She longed to find fault with Willow's parking style, a hard task since there was really no mistake. That is, no legit mistake. But that didn't out-rule false ones now, did it?
" Pull out." Carol Ann demanded. She waited to see if Willow would forget to signal and look over her shoulder before pulling out.
Rats! Oh-well. I'll dock the points anyway just on principle. I'll just say that she didn't signal or look over her shoulder, and that she hit the poles. Yeah. No-one else was watching. Who's to know? And they'll believe me over that whiny newbie. A few marks with the trusty 'ole ink-pen, and voila! No points for Willow. She snickered silently to herself.
" Pull out into traffic and take a left turn! "
Simple enough. Willow pulled up, signaled, and stopped just before the street. When it was clear she entered traffic, careful to make sure she was in the right lane.
Oh boy, one of these careful types. Carol Ann grumbled to herself, It'll take me forever to get home at this rate. Well, I'll mark her for congestion potential. A few more marks with the pen found Willow docked 15 points when she'd been driving for less than four minutes, all for 'congestion potential'. And there weren't even many cars on the road.
" Left turn. Right turn. Right again."
Willow glided through all the maneuvers with a flawless, fluid ease that Carol Ann envied. Each turn found her docked a few points, basically because her tester couldn't stand her.
Carol Ann made a face at the intersection when Willow yielded right-of-way to a blind man sporting a white cane near a crosswalk. Disgusting. There had to be a way to...then it hit her. It her in one ingenious flash of brilliance: The test would have to end if Willow did something dangerous.
Maybe, just maybe, she could help bring that about.
" Turn left." Carol Ann instructed at the next road, knowing full well that it was a one-way street with traffic flowing to the right.
Willow knew too. She was just about to signal when she noticed the 'One Way' sign with an arrow pointing right.
" But that's a one-way street! " She argued, going straight ahead when the light turned green. What else could she do? Is this woman crazy? She's trying to trick me! Her peers had been right. Carol Ann was one mean tester. Suddenly all those outrageous claims were starting to sound closer and closer to the truth.
Now Carol Ann was turning an unhealthy shade of scarlet. Tricking Willow was going to be harder than she'd thought. Clearly this newbie was in fact a careful and calculating driver, and certainly any other tester would be getting ready to pass her. This was an outrage! No newbie little-girl driver was going to make her look like a monkey and get away with it!
" Pull into that lot! " She demanded hotly, her anger seeping in to color her voice.
Startled, Willow signaled and pulled into the abandoned parking lot, after making sure it was safe to do so of course. Why was the tester yelling? She was going to make a point of reporting this incredibly rude woman to the DMV. It wasn't right. Public service officials weren't supposed to behave this way!
" Farther left, farther left...there. Stop right now! "
Willow screeched the brakes to a grinding halt.
" Turn and back around the curb, keeping as close to it as possible! But you can't hit it. And try not to get us killed either."
Wordlessly, Willow turned her head and looked over her shoulder at the aforementioned curb. It was a clear across the other side of the lot. Naturally. Miss Rude Ann wasn't going to make this easy for her.
Inhaling deeply, she shut her eyes and cleared her mind. You can do this. You can do this Will. Come on, you're almost done. Of course, she didn't know for sure that she was almost done, but there couldn't be too much more on the test now, could there?
" Come on, I don't have all day! " Carol Ann spat, her tone biting. She docked another 10 points. For no reason at all, really. She was in a hurry and this loser was taking her own sweet time.
Willow forced herself to be indifferent, forced herself to let the insults roll off her like they were nothing. In truth they stung, but there was no time to worry about that now. She had a test to ace, and no matter what, she was going to do her best. Carol Ann could either like it or lump it.
Using her mirrors and checking over her shoulder, Willow put the car into reverse and began backing out towards the curb. It was no easy task. She was just so far away, and to top that all off Carol Ann had proved to be a very impatient person. Against all odds, she still somehow managed to make it to the curb and begin backing around.
" You're weaving! " Carol Ann accused, choosing to completely ignore the rules of not telling the driver what they'd done wrong until after the test was over.
" Sorry! " Willow squeaked.
In truth she wasn't weaving, and she knew it. She backed around the curb, careful not to weave....
" STOP! "
" Wha...is something wrong? "
" Of course something's wrong! " Carol Ann howled, " This isn't the way the semis do it! Why, if this was a semi, you'd be clear out into the intersection by now! "
" But...I'm not driving a semi." Willow stammered, half tempted to open the door and bolt.
How could this woman say this? What kind of stupid Driving Test is this? I'm testing to get a normal license, not a friggen CDL!
" It doesn't matter! " Carol Ann snorted, tapping her pad impatiently with the butt of her pen, " You never know when you'll be driving one, so you'd better be mindful of it! Treat every car on the road as if they were semis. You lose 10 points, I'm afraid."
" Hey! That's..."
" Twenty." Carol Ann grinned wickedly, checking her watch. 3:30. She'd better hurry, 'Cops' came on in twenty minutes! Can't miss it! This is the episode where they bust the jaywalker!
" Re-enter traffic." Carol Ann commanded, a bit calmer now.
Willow did, and, following Carol Ann's instructions, found herself back at the DMV. It's over already? Man, that was fast. Something didn't feel right here. She couldn't shake the sick feeling from the pit of her stomach.
" Park." Carol Ann seemed way too happy.
Willow glided smoothly into a free parking space, taking extra care to get just perfectly between the yellow stripes. Then, killing the engine, she looked hopefully to her tester. Had she passed?
Probably not. Her face fell immediately when she saw that her test paper had more doodles and marks than an eight-grader's study-notes. That couldn't be a good sign.
Carol Ann began adding up all the points. It was relatively easy, considering most of them had been docked. After she was done, she cleared her throat and caught Willow's eye. Here came the fun part!
" Well, you've got 2 points." She beamed, handing Willow her copy of the paper, " You need at least 80 to pass. You failed. Go set up a new appointment, and come back when you've learned how to drive! " She took a moment to savor Willow's disappointed, hurt, expression.
Priceless. The redhead was crushed, probably under the delusion that she was good enough to pass. Poor misguided sap. Too bad Carol Ann didn't have the full time to appreciate the heartbreaking frown, or the cracked, pleading words she was sure to hear any second now. Satisfied, she was just about to hop out of the car and finish business when Willow's sudden outburst stopped her.
" Two points?! How did...where do I need improvement? What did I do wrong? "
" Everything! " Carol Ann turned with a hiss, halfway out the door, eyes feral and burning, " You're the sorriest excuse for a driver I've ever seen in my entire life! You didn't park right, you didn't drive right, you couldn't do anything right! You drive with all the skill and coordination of a handicapped eight year old with a learning disability. In case I haven't made myself clear, you're a complete loser! Actually, I was being nice a second ago. Don't come back. You're unfit to operate a microwave, much less a motor vehicle! If I were you I'd stick to my tricycle kiddo. Now beat it. You've already wasted enough of my time with your pathetic attempt at a drive."
" But..." Willow was shattered. How could this happen? Hanging her head low, she cupped her hands to the sides of her face and uttered a sad, dejected sigh. That was awful! How could she be this way? I'm taking my next test in a different city and....and...She couldn't collect herself to think. How was she going to break the news to her mother?
A few minutes passed with only Willow's occasional sobs to break the silence.
Then a hand fell on her shoulder.
With a started yelp, the crestfallen redhead jerked up, expecting to see her mother looming over her, waiting for her turn at the driver's seat for the trip back home. Instead her eyes met with a young man wearing a gray business suit and sporting neatly kempt brown hair. He offered her sympathetic look.
" Don't worry," He soothed, his voice gentle and calm, " You passed. We'll get you your license. I saw some of your driving....very good. And to get that car parked between the poles when they were that close together requires real skill." He smiled a bit, revealing pearly-white teeth. " I'm Carol Ann's boss. She doesn't know it yet, but I heard every word she just said to you. And she's fired. No wonder nobody ever passed with her! I had been wondering about the ridiculously low scores, and I had no idea how rude she was being to the drivers.... I'm very, very sorry."
Willow's face lit up. She'd...passed? Now this was more like it! I knew I'd passed that test! I knew I knew it I knew it!
" Come on in." Carol Ann's boss invited, gesturing towards the DMV before starting off down the lot, " Time to get your picture taken."
With a happy smile, Willow complied.
Perhaps there really was justice in the world after all.