An anxious Buffy Summers bounced on her feet, only allowing herself to be distracted by sternly commanding the butterflies in her stomach to settle down. She was the Slayer, after all. She'd faced down vampires, demons, and other creatures of the night that roamed through the streets of Sunnydale, so why was she so nervous now?
Because if she failed today, the teenage girl would have to undergo one of the most humiliating ordeals of American youth: having to wait another six months to get her driver's license.
Buffy shuddered at the thought of needing more car rides from her mother and Giles, or worse of all, enduring the embarrassing prospect of getting Xander or Willow to pick her up, with those other members of the Scooby Gang glorying in their driving prowess, just because they were a couple of months older than her and had already taken and passed the examinations that had granted them the freedom of the open road.
"Stupid birthdates," grumbled Buffy, turning around to glower at the building she was standing next to, where the young woman had been all too glad to leave a few minutes before.
The Sunnydale office of the California Department of Motor Vehicles had long been regarded by the bureaucrats of that organization as the worst place in the entire state to work. No other location had a more evil reputation. Rather than be assigned there, virtually every office worker would cheerfully agree to be employed anywhere else in the state, no matter how bad the other sites were.
Death Valley, where the searing summer sun would melt car tires in the parking lot? A good place to get a tan.
Alpine County, where in winter the snow wasn't measured in feet, but in yards? Strap on your skis, and let's hit the slopes!
The worse inner-city slums of Los Angeles, with daily drive-by shootings? A bulletproof vest wasn't that uncomfortable.
The simple fact was that, even at the above locations, and everywhere else in the state that wasn't the town of Sunnydale, you didn't have to live in fear of being eaten.
It all wound up with that creepy city's DMV office being staffed by the kind of employees that either had the minor personal quirks and foibles that made it impossible for them to get a job anywhere else (something on the order of incessant farting, say), or for these beings' own indescribable reasons, they wanted to work there. Somehow, a shaky truce had been established among all the workers, with everyone agreeing to direct their shared hostility towards the rest of humanity which had the temerity to think that coming into their workplace would result in those loathed members of the public being treated with respect and provided with quick, efficient service.
Earlier today, it had taken Buffy just five minutes to complete the written part of her driver's test, for that young woman to then get in line for handing over her test to be checked for accuracy by the next available clerical worker. Twenty minutes later, a disbelieving Slayer watched an elderly woman having more than a suspicious resemblance to a zombie sluggishly continue to check the teenager's answers on this test.
Buffy had to seriously fight down her urge to Slay this unhurried employee, considering that the annoyed blonde also had to admit to herself that she might be a bit mistaken in her conclusions regarding this workers' lifeless features, cloudy eyes, and a distinct odor of rotting flesh. Or not. Anyway, decapitating that bureaucrat in front of everyone might be somewhat conspicuous.
Not to mention Buffy was totally convinced that after her assault on this unholy creature, the now-headless corpse would then just keep on checking the answers on her test, only even much more slooooowwwwwlllllyyyyy.
Finally, after the glaciers had come and gone again, Buffy was handed back her written test that had been grudgingly stamped "PASS", and directed to a side door, where outside the building, an examiner would be waiting there for her to take the road test, in which she'd operate a car to show off her driving skills and knowledge of the laws of the road during normal operating conditions. The Slayer was off in a shot, missing the evil gleam that had suddenly appeared in the dull eyes of the office drone watching the teenager happily skip away.
An eager Buffy had burst out of the DMV office, to look around in hopes of seeing at once someone there so she could impress them with her presumed driving skills. Not to mention being totally cute, which had gotten her a lot of things before in her life. However, nobody at all was there. Puzzled, Buffy turned in a circle, seeing only a bare, deserted, side parking lot that had only a single car in that place.
Doubtfully, Buffy eyed this car, which resembled no other automobile she'd ever seen in her life. For one thing, this car was purple. Buffy might have accepted this, except even that girl totally ignorant of the motor world was quite sure that most cars didn't have a nose cone, a driver's compartment covered by a bubble window having a vertical fin on top, and a bulbous rear studded with a dozen rocket nozzles.
Really beginning to be nervous now, Buffy looked around again for her driving examiner. Again, she saw nobody, except for someone parking their bright red, sleek, gleaming sports car in the front parking lot of the DMV, and getting out of their vehicle. As this man turned, Buffy saw who he was.
"Yikes!" A fearful Slayer promptly hid behind a lamp post, peering out in alarm past this at her new high school principal, one R. Snyder, as that bald man took out a handkerchief and lovingly rubbed off a water spot from the skin of his classic '67 Ford Mustang, which he treasured more than anything else in the world. As she watched this, Buffy wondered with horror if somebody she totally loathed was here due to her. After all, she'd only passed Sunnydale High School driver's ed simply because the instructors had become fed up with her numerous collisions with other solid objects and the resulting dings and dents in the school's vehicles. To the young girl's sudden paranoia, it was entirely possible that Snyder had come here solely to make sure she'd never get a license and be allowed to drive.
As she watched Snyder turn away and strut towards the front entrance of the DMV, to pass out of sight, Buffy's worry only increased, which might have explained her excessive reaction when someone behind her cleared their throat, and inquired, "Elizabeth Anne Summers?"
Leaping straight up in the air, and whirling around while grabbing for her emergency stake under her blouse, Buffy came down to stand there, and to hastily shove back her weapon in her clothes, as she gaped at the man standing there and looking a bit befuddled at the young woman's shocked actions. Well, he might have cause for being taken aback, but right now, Buffy also had good reason for being dumbfounded at who she was examining.
A tall, mature man was now suspiciously eyeing her, all while being dressed in a long, purple overcoat, with red gauntlets, black boots, and a really strange poofy hat with a red brim, attached goggles above this hat edge, and vertical red and purple stripes evenly spaced around the upper headgear. The guarded expression on this bizarrely-clad man's features was truly manifesting his evident wariness due to his beady eyes, a protuberant nose, and a lantern jaw.
What topped it all off on this man's face was an extremely long, thin handlebar mustache that had been stiffened to jut upwards, and now irritably twitched, as this man distrustfully demanded, totally out of the blue, "Are you related to that blasted Miss Pitstop, young lady?"
Hearing this, Buffy could only continue her gape at who could be nobody but her examiner, finally managing to utter, "Uh, who?"
The man continued to regard her in clear mistrust, but after another few moments of silence between the pair, he cleared his throat again, and said a bit less gruffly, "I'm referring to Penelope Pitstop, if you must know."
A dazed Buffy shook her head, and told the man, "I've never heard of her. Uh, is there any reason why you're asking?"
"Humpf," the man snorted, looking a little relieved despite that caustic grunt, as he continued in a calmer tone. "You bear a rather remarkable resemblance to her, though I suppose it just might be a coincidence. Oh, well, you are indeed Elizabeth Anne Summers, here for your road test?"
Happy to hear something she could finally agree with, Buffy firmly nodded her head, causing the man to shrug, and then resignedly wave his hand towards that strange purple car. "All right then, let's get on with it, shall we?"
Standing frozen there, Buffy stared at the man beginning to get impatient again, and then gaped at the bizarre vehicle, before the teenager blurted out, "In that? I thought I'd drive something like everything else on the street, like I did in driver's ed!"
Drawing himself up in evident affront, the man growled, "The Double Zero is positively not like anything else on the street! However, this office allows employees to provide their personal vehicles for use in road tests, if they're willing. Considering the truly impressive mileage rate I'm paid for this, I was more than happy to do so." A cold eye was then directed towards Buffy, as the man stiffly went on. "Then again, if you really feel that you can't complete the road test in my car, you may choose to take that examination at some other time, in another vehicle. All you need to do is to go in there and reschedule your road test."
At those last words, the man nodded at the DMV building, all while observing Buffy's face brighten at this option. When that young woman started to turn around, on her way to go back inside and ask for another try, an evil smirk slowly appeared on her examiner's features, as the man casually observed, "You should have no trouble in setting up another appointment in, oh, at the most, five or six…months." The vicious smile sent toward an horrified girl hearing that was the equal of any wicked grin on the face of an old-time melodrama villain delightedly hearing a train coming down the tracks earlier than expected, after finishing a complicated sheet bend double knot fastening his shrieking female victim to the rails.
Standing facing the DMV building, Buffy's shoulders slumped in surrender, as she now turned around and glumly regarded the sardonic man watching her. In total defeat, she muttered, "Okay then, let's do it." A spark of bafflement now appeared in her eyes, as a sudden thought prompted Buffy to call after the man who'd started heading towards his car. "Wait, aren't you gonna need the road test form or something like that, to check how I'm doing?"
Stopping short, the man turned, to nod in agreement as he looked at Buffy, and replied, "Oh, my assistant will do that."
"Assistant?" asked a bewildered Buffy.
Without any warning, the man bellowed right at the Slayer, at the top of his lungs, "MUTTLEY!"
Recoiling, with ringing ears, Buffy gaped at the satisfied man standing there, until with her recovering hearing, she now listened to a very strange sound coming from behind her. It was a wheezy, asthmatic snicker, clearly delighting in someone's misfortune, as Buffy then whirled around to see who was making that odd noise of "Heesh, heesh, heesh."
There was nobody there. Gaping, Buffy frantically looked around, until she finally lowered her vision.
A shaggy dog with a yellowish-brown coat and black ears, wearing a red scarf and also a red driver's helmet with goggles, standing on his hind legs and holding a clipboard tucked under one arm, now smirked upwards at Buffy. This…creature then casually walked past the Slayer, who kept her fixed attention upon this presumed dog, stiffly turning her entire body to keep him in sight, until she disbelievingly watched that being take his place by his…owner? Master? Superior?
As they waited for a young woman to recover her composure, these two peculiar persons standing by an unusual automobile finally received a good, long, hard stare from this teenager, who then looked around their location at where others showing weary resignation were entering the front entrance of the DMV and passing by departing people having extremely grouchy faces, plus there were more people strolling by on the sidewalk next to the motor vehicles' office parking lot. In the end, not a single individual other than herself paid the slightest bit of attention to an absolutely weird man, his dog, and his car.
Buffy Summers at last huffed an exasperated sigh, rolled her eyes upwards at the heavens, and admitted the truth to herself in the privacy of her mind: *Good ol' Sunnydale Syndrome.*
A minute later, a resigned Slayer found herself in the driver's seat of the purple car, with the man next to her in the passenger seat, and the what-is-it in the back seat. At this point, Buffy had no trouble accepting the way that dog (probably) was gripping the clipboard in his left paw and holding ready, over this writing surface and the road test form, a pen in his other paw. Okay, maybe she could accept it, but she'd still do her best to ignore it, as that young woman put on her seat belt, checked the mirrors, and carefully turned the engine on. So far, so good.
Feeling a little proud of herself, Buffy now stepped on the brake and put the car in forward gear, as she glanced at where the turn signal was supposed to be, as she now intended to indicate to any cars behind her that she was preparing to start. A sudden sense of panic got hold of Buffy, as she gaped at numerous switches, toggles, and buttons on the dashboard and steering wheel, none of which were familiar to her. What was she suppose to use?
Eventually, after the man sitting beside her gave an impatient cough, an unnerved Buffy picked something totally at random, grabbing a rod sticking from the side of the steering column, and pushing it down.
A stream of solid fire shot out from the nose cone, as the flamethrower efficiently operated in spraying forward horizontally a gush of blazing napalm that engulfed Principal Snyder's rare and expensive car. This fire steadily poured onto that automobile, until Buffy's numb fingers finally let go of the switch and it sprang back into the off position, cutting off the stream of flames, and revealing a heap of smoking ashes that had once been a classic car.
Not daring to turn her head, a terrified Buffy kept her features immobile and only peeked from the corner of her eye at the composed man sharing the front seat with her, as an unruffled voice came from him, "All new drivers should have an innate familiarity with their driving procedures before their first attempt. Mark that down, Muttley."
"Heesh, heesh, heesh." Skritch, skritch.
Buffy just closed her eyes for a moment at that gleeful snicker coming from behind, along with the scratching of a pen that surely had just given her a black mark. After opening her eyes again, to give a last horrified look at the remains of her principal's car, a somewhat rattled Buffy now took her foot off the brake and pressed down on the car's accelerator. In her flustered mood, the teenager could be forgiven for doing that last action with Slayer strength that shoved that speed-control mechanism all the way to the car's floor.
At the rear of the Mean Machine 00, the rockets lit up, instantly sending the car out of the DMV parking lot and into the street at an immense velocity, leaving behind only wide streaks of rubber from all four tires, a massive dust cloud, and two voices hanging in the air, left behind to calmly comment, "The accelerator should be gently depressed when starting. Mark that down, Muttley."
"Heesh, heesh, heesh." Skritch, skritch.
Ten minutes later, a blurred object came swooping from the sky, dropping downwards to bounce onto the DMV's parking lot, and becoming more recognizable when this purple vehicle finally slowed to a skidding stop, flinging off all that had been clinging to it: several lampposts, a couple of mailboxes, and the "WELCOME TO SUNNYDALE" street sign.
Several moments later, Muttley emerged from the back seat of the Mean Machine 00, to crawl through his door and fall onto the ground by the car, desperately gripping the surface with all his limbs. This dog's fur coat was now pure white, and a crazed look was in that animal's eyes, as he promptly burst into tears, giving the asphalt of the parking lot numerous slobbering kisses of relief all the while.
Buffy herself also reluctantly stepped out of the car, standing by it and dolefully examining the toes of her boots. She listened to the man casually leaving his own seat and strolling around the rear of the car to stop by the back seat where Muttley's nervous breakdown had occurred, as the man leaned into there to pick up the gnawed-in-terror clipboard and its attached road test form. As the examiner came to stand in front of her (along the way giving a shivering Muttley a disgusted kick), Buffy at last looked up, resignedly awaiting the bad news.
"Well, you passed. Congratulations." The man said that offhandedly, as he signed the road test form.
"WHAT?" shrieked Buffy with total disbelief, staring at the examiner looking blandly back at her. The Slayer then began to babble, "Even after when I hit… When I ran over… I thought bald eagles were endangered, and they've got to be by now!"
A truly offended expression appeared on the man's face, as he again drew himself up, to declaim, "Ah, but all that matters nothing in my fiendish plan! You see, I intend to pass any and all blonde females who come up before me to take their driving tests, despite how badly they perform on it! Soon enough, these incompetent drivers will cause enough accidents and damage that society at large will be forced to ban every woman with golden hair from taking their cars onto the roads! At last, I shall have my revenge, Penelope Pitstop! So says Dick Dastardly! Bwaaah-hah-hah!" At that last ecstatic howl, the man thrust his fists upwards to the sky and bellowed his glee to the world at large.
Holding his euphoric posture for a few moments, the grinning man blinked, and then dropped his arms to his sides while still holding the clipboard, as he managed to regain his composure. He was helped, if it could be called that, by glancing over at where an open-mouthed Buffy was watching him in sheer astonishment. A look of alarm now flickered over the man's face, as he hesitantly said, "Er, did I say all that aloud?"
Buffy speechlessly nodded.
"Drat and double drat." After that indication of distress, a more calculating look flashed over the features of the examiner now known as Dick Dastardly, as he lifted up the clipboard, to study it and then sign his name elsewhere on the road test form. Still keeping his gaze directed upon the clipboard, the man nonchalantly spoke, "You know, I just signed the part where it gives my opinion that you're a truly careful and safe driver. That should cut your car insurance by at least half, which gives you much more money to buy shoes and other clothes, and I'd be quite willing to hand over this road test form now so you can get your license, if it means you agree to keep your mouth shut about what I revealed to you-"
In a blur, the road test form was plucked from the clipboard, and the examiner lowered it to see a blonde streak dash away from him towards the front entrance of the DMV. Calling after Buffy, Dick Dastardly beamingly said, "A pleasure doing business with you, young lady!"
Stepping over to a whimpering Muttley still huddled on the ground, the man grabbed his minion by the scruff of his hairy neck, dragging him along as Dick Dastardly walked off, peering at the clipboard, and muttering to himself, "Let's see, who's next? Ah, Harmony Kendall. I wonder if she's a blonde?"
Buffy Summers now skipped into the DMV, nearly colliding with a departing bald man with a very sour expression on his face. As she dodged around him, the Slayer cheerfully chirped, "Hiya, Mr. Snyder!"
"It's Principal Snyder, you disrespectful child! Aren't you… I've got your name right on the tip of my tongue…." As an irate man glowered after one of his high school students, he tried to remember who she was so he'd be able on next Monday to properly deal with her in the confines of his place of power, as Snyder kept on walking away from the DMV, turning his head in preparation for granting himself a much more pleasurable sight of his magnificent automobile that had cost him his life savings.
A long time later, when Buffy occasionally needed a lift in her spirits, she'd take out her old driver's license, virtually her only souvenir of Sunnydale, and contemplate it for a while. Back before the collapse of that town in its sinkhole, with the whole thing with the First Evil, the Slayer had absently stuck her driver's license in her back pocket, and after totally forgetting about it, she'd come across it weeks later, when Buffy had already gotten a new one, thinking the old license had been lost or destroyed, along with practically everything in her past.
Frankly, she'd have appreciated just about anything else in remembrance of her time on the Hellmouth, considering that like most driver's license photographs, a teenage Buffy Summers was pictured as resembling a homicidal maniac. Still, she always giggled at seeing herself on her old license as appearing to be a particularly gleeful axe murderess, with the joyous memories of Principal Snyder's agonized howl over seeing what had happened to his car easily penetrating the walls of the DMV building, giving her back then and even now, a truly fine moment of pure happiness.