Title: Fully Qualified

Author: mistymidnight

Rating: PG. May change later to PG-13, though I highly doubt it. And that's the absolute highest it'll go.

Disclaimer: Joss owns the canon and characters, and gidgetgirl owns the plot. Where does this leave me, you may wonder? Broke and living off mac and cheese.

Timeline/Spoilers: Post-Chosen. Spoilers up til there, pretty much.

Summary: Ever notice that when you think you've got control, the past has to come and bite you in the butt? Poor Willow.

Author's Notes: This is another challenge from gidgetgirl. I really know that I sohuld be working on one of my other works in progress ("Nonsense", "Haven't Changed A Bit", "Crush" and "Becoming What?"), but I saw this one and I couldn't resist. I'd post the challenge requirements here, but I don't wanna spoil the story. If you don't care about being spoiled, head on over to Chocolate Covered I'll post the link directly to the challenge itself later. Otherwise, the challenge outline will be posted at the end of the story, however long it may be.

Oh, and if you read the challenge requirements, please don't give them away when you review. (And, just because I said that, one obnoxious person will go ruin it for everybody.) If you really can't resist the call of the obnoxious, review ananoymously so I can delete it. Muchos gracias. And if you read the "spoilers" and have things you'd like to discuss with me, send me and email at or IM me: mistymidnight45. I welcome any questions or comments. Oh, and for reference? I don't count flames as questions or comments. Or even as reviews really. So don't even think about it.

Final note: Obviously not AU, which you'd know if you read the timeline/spoilers. It's gotten to the point where I'm almost positive I'm the only one on that really reads them. =)

Oh. This note is the final final truly final note: the spelling and grammar in this may be a little messed up. I'm writing without a beta, spell or grammar check, and no caffiene in my system. (Uh-oh.) Sew thiz mite be ful ov errers. (That last sentence was a joke. Just in case you didn't figure that out.)

Chapter One: Job Perks

The best thing about this job, Willow thought, leaning back comfortably, is the super kooshy chair I get. It's like a career requirement or something. Everyone with a PhD has a comfy leather chair.

The redhead swivelled around in said chair and turned to her lunch: Salad. Same as usual: lettuce, tomato, cucumber, onion, green pepper, croutons, cheese, alfalfa sprouts. Ranch dressing. Italian bread with butter on the side. Willow Rosenberg was a creature of habit. Habit was reassuring. People with routines were better adjusted. Even with all her education, Willow wasn't still paticularly sure as to what people with routines were better adjusted to. Difficulties? Or just life in general? Or maybe helping their best friends avert apocalypses. Willow smiled. She'd never given up on the "good fight" so to speak, except she fought frm a different angle now. Starting with the people who had to deal with the outcomes of the battles: the kids.

"So you're saying that the slayers are really spies sent from the vampires to turn us all into vampires as well?" Willow asked gently.

Eight-year-old Zane nodded enthusiastically. "And they'rve started with my mom!"

Willow reached out to give him a reassuring pat on the shoulder, but jerked her hand back when Zane shrank away slightly. Wilow mentally smacked herself on the forehead. How could she forget that Zane hated having any form of physical contact with anyone? I just haven't been myself lately, Willow mused. Wonder why.

"Zane," she began kindly, "you don't have to be afraid. You know that Slayers aren't spies for vampires. Why would they kill vampires if they were in cahoots with them?"

"To throw us off," Zane said seriously.

"That would be like killing your own soldiers," Willow pointed out. "No one would do that. If there was a big battle the odds would be against the vamps."

"Good," Zane said darkly. "But--"

"No buts," Willow said quickly. It was most likely not the best course of action, but she had been seeing Zane for months and he hadn't made any progress. "Listen, Zane, I want you to draw me a picture..."

"This is kind of fun," Zane remarked, saying each word cautiously as to not lose his eight year old manliness. He selected a blue crayon and began to color the sky, but then shoved it abruptly back in the box and took out a black crayon instead. "It's night," he explained to Willow. "'Cause, you know, sun will kill the vampires."

"Why don't you make it day time, then?" Willow suggsted. "Then there won't be any vampires."

Zane shook his head and began coloring a black swirly sky, a la Van Gogh. Willow sighed. Zane would not let go of this vampire thing. There had to be a reason. Unfortunately, she wasn't going to find out what it was today. "Zane," she said, checking her watch, "our time's just about up. Why don't we put the crayons away?"

Zane groaned and began to unceremoniously plunk the crayons back into the multi-tiered box Willow had supplied. "This was a little funner than most days," he remarked.

"'More fun', not 'funner'," Willow corrected lightly, "And I'm glad you liked the activity. Maybe we'll do it again next time."

"Please?" Zane asked, giving her a pleading I'm-eight-now-do-what-I-say look.

"We'll see," Willow smiled, standing up. She walked over to the office door and opened it, letting Zane into the waiting room where his mother was waiting.

"What do you say to Dr. Rosenberg?" Zane's mother prompted.

"Thank you, Dr. Willow," Zane said. Zane called her Dr. Willow, and no amount of correcting from his parents would change it. Willow didn't mind. In fact, she encouraged it. She told her patients to call her whatever they felt comfortable with. As far as she was concerned, forcing everyone to call her 'Dr. Rosenberg' seemed wrong. After all, psychology deals with people and what makes them tick, so to speak. If Zane felt comfortable calling her Dr. Willow, then that was fine by her.

"Erin," she said to her secretary, "who's last up for today?"

"Nobody, surprisingly," Erin told her. "Thayer's stepdad called to cancel. Apparently her parents are going on vacation and Thayer would have no way to get here."

Willow sighed. "They're only contributing to the problem," she said. "Besides, I could have picked her up and dropped her off. It's really not that big of a deal. It's not so far out of the way."

Erin shrugged. "I'm just the secretary. You're the one with the PhD."

Willow smiled and patted the woman on the shoulder. "Soon, Erin. College will be over before you know it."

Erin gave her a thin smile. "Great."

"You'd better believe it, Sister," Willow joked. Getting serious, she added, "If therearen't any more patients today, I'll head on home and take some of the filing with me. You can head home early, too, if you want. Could you just stay until around five-ish in case anyone calls to make an appointment?"

"No problem," Erin said. "I'll leave a note for Brian to water the plants over the weekend."

"Great," Willow said. "If you get a chance, tell him I may be in on Sunday to update some files and things."

"Will do," Erin assured her. "Have a good weekend."

"Thanks, you too." Willow returned to her office to grab her sweater and her keys, and then she was on her way home.

Okay, first chapter. Tell me what you think--review! Any suggestions for psyche tests, etc., let me know--I'd love to hear them!


Up next...Willow's house, Willow and Scooby interaction, and back to the daily grind of the office.