Fan Fiction - Written by Doug Fowler - Book Universe

Cousin Aunt Stephanie
Written by: Doug Fowler

A/N: A small number of Stephanie books make a serious goof - Nicky & Alex call her "Aunt," and those few books call them Steph's nephews, which is clearly impossible. Since it got by Warner Brothers (who insist on approving those who use their characters!) it must be some family inside joke. Read on for what happened. RKORadio's Sam here, with permission. The fact Michelle calls Joey "Uncle Joey" at times in some Michelle books is also referenced. (WB may have split writers, more conservative ones who have nicer, more respectful characters doing books, others bringing Gia in and changing things a bit in seasons 7 and 8 of the TV Universe. That explains an "Uncle Joey," at least.)

Also, this is Book Universe, meaning a late summer birthday for Michelle and the twins, so they're almost 3 here, not just 2.5. Book "Twin Troubles" is referenced. The plaza is the same as mentioned in a couple "Dear Michelle" books, likely the same as the one Joey walks Comet to in "Honey, I Broke the House."They never say they live in San Francisco, it could be a suburb and they work there - the San Francisco airport isn't even in San Francisco. But, there could be small parts that are like smaller towns in SF, too. (Note that the actual Tanner home is not the one in the opening, their door isn't red.)

Twelve-year-old Stephanie Tanner pushed a double stroller. She sang to entertain her cousins as she wheeled Nicky and Alex, almost three, a few blocks to the park. "The sun'll come out, tomorrow," she sang. Soon, the twins were singing the word "tomorrow" intermittently; they hadn't picked up on the actual tune. Then, they made Stephanie laugh as they sang, "Today," Yesterday," and a few other words connected with days.

"I wanna walk," Alex said. He tried to get out, but the stroller was moving.

Stephanie scolded, "No, Alex, we're near a street. When we stop, you may get out and push. But, I will keep my hand on yours if you do."

Alex was satisfied, but Nicky wasn't. He didn't listen, and tried to get out, nearly falling out. "Young man, we can take you right back home for Uncle Danny to watch you," Stephanie said. She knew Nicky was the more adventuresome one; he'd wandered and gotten lost in Stephanie's school once when she took the twins there, being found in a boys' restroom.

In the months since that incident, she'd become much more adept at handling the twins by herself. She knew part of that meant taking charge quickly. She'd done it with kids at school - especially as a mom-like figure for a seven-year-old girl named Sam, for whom Stephanie was the closest thing to a mother - but Stephanie had figured Nicky and Alex would be at least as easy as that; this was before she'd even watched Sam all by herself full time, of course.

Now, she knew two important things. Two-year-olds were a lot harder to control than older kids if you didn't take charge early. And, just because they were her family didn't mean the road would be easy. Her younger sister Michelle had only been so easy to handle because their older sister, D.J., had been so proactive; their dad had had trouble punishing her himself, not doing so till she was three and a half.

Now, to remind Nicky they could have fun, too. "After we play in the park, if you're extra good, we can go to that little mall where we saw the doggies."

"Go see doggies now," Nicky said.

"After we play in the park. You want to play, right?" Stephanie asked. Nicky wasn't sure. "You have to play and be good before you get to see the doggies."

"Let's play," Alex said. Normally a follower, he was starting to take the lead with some things, but still preferred following Nicky's lead.

"Right, let's play." Stephanie got to a bench next to a tree near the middle of the park, and parked the stroller. She pulled out a Frisbee, and a ball. "You two stay with me." They listened; by now, they knew Stephanie would use the stroller for timeout if needed

After playing Frisbee, swinging, and sliding, the twins simply wanted to run around kicking the ball they had brought. They couldn't kick it far, and they were right in the middle of the park. So, Stephanie sat and relaxed, while they played in front of her. It was easier to keep track of them this way than if she tried to play; she knew in focusing on the ball she could lose track of the boys. This way, she could easily yell "freeze," and the boys knew to obey, if one wandered. Otherwise, she would just call out for them to stay within the otherwise unoccupied ball diamond in front of her.

"Hi, Stephanie," she heard from behind her.

Nicky and Alex quickly ran up to the woman as she pushed a baby carriage toward Stephanie. "It's a baby," Nicky said.

The woman judged Stephanie - who was the same size as D.J. - to be about sixteen or seventeen - especially since she knew Stephanie had helped Sam so much. "I'm Julie Pendergrast, I started working at Sam's daycare a few months ago. I've heard so many great things about how you've helped Sam."

"Thanks. I've got a great family and support behind me," Stephanie said modestly. "My older sister's a great role model; she's been quite proactive since our mom died, back when I was five."

"Oh, I'm sure. Your nephews look so cute," Mrs. Pendergrast said.

Stephanie was a little stunned, and hesitated for a moment. "Uh, they're not..."

"You two be really good for your Aunt Stephanie," she said, still figuring Stephanie to be in her middle teens, with an older sister of perhaps twenty-one or twenty-two. "It's hard to watch two boys alone, but I'm sure you don't give your aunt any problems."

"You're a aunt?" Alex asked Stephanie, who chuckled.

"I was just walking through, and thought I'd say hello, and what a wonderful job you're doing. Bye," the woman said as she rolled the carriage away.

The twins waved and said "goodbye," then turned back to Stephanie. "You're Aunt Stephnie?" Nicky inquired.

"Well, right then I was. She just talked too fast, and there wasn't any need to correct her. I mean, it's not a really big deal," Stephanie said, starting a Dannyesque ramble about courtesy, not interrupting, and what relations were what.

Nicky blurted out, "We see doggies, Aunt Stephnie?"

Stephanie had to laugh. She'd inherited her dad's style. She knew the near-three-year-olds wouldn't have understood much of what she said, and she'd spoken fast enough even what they would understand may have escaped them. She realized that she'd probably act the same way that worker had someday, if she wasn't careful.

"Okay, but it's Cousin Stephanie," Stephanie reminded the boys as they got back into the stroller.

"'Kay, Cousin Aunt Stephnie," Alex said.

"Oh, you guys are silly. Okay, what's the number one rule when we go to that plaza?"

"Stay in the stroller," Nicky chimed in.

Stephanie asked what to do if they got out, and Alex and Nicky both said, "Hold your hands."

"Right. Let's go." Stephanie took them over to the pet shop, where they saw D.J. and Kimmy. "Hey, Deej, what's up?"

"I want to try to help Kimmy get a job interview," D.J. explained. "She got fired from her job as a short order cook last week for getting foods mixed up."

"Hey, don't knock French fries in pizza dough till you've tried it," Kimmy said. "It could be a brilliant idea. I had one of those once."

Stephanie let Nicky and Alex gaze at the cute puppies in the window and looked oddly at Kimmy. She didn't like to insult Kimmy, but a few little jokes were okay, and Kimmy was very dumb - brilliant ideas and Kimmy just didn't go together. "You did?"

"Well, she wasn't exactly trying. We were reading this book for class, and the teacher was talking about the importance of what a character said, that freedom is the ability to say '2+2 is 5.' Kimmy pointed out that he was still following rules by using numbers. And, if he'd really wanted to be free, he'd have said '2+2 is Green,'" D.J. finished.

Stephanie was impressed. "Well, you know what they say happens if you put a million monkeys on a million typewriters," she remarked.

"Yeah; they get banana crumbs all over," Kimmy responded.

D.J. corrected her. "That's our dad who would say that."

"Want that one, Aunt Stephnie," Nicky said.

"We all have Comet to share," Stephanie reminded him.

Kimmy looked oddly at Nicky. "I thought Stephanie was your cousin. Those relation things always mix me up," she told D.J..

"They are our cousins," D.J. said. Stephanie explained what had happened.

The boys were more interested in the puppies. "He got lotsa spots, Aunt Stephnie," Alex said, pointing at a Dalmatian as the owner came out to say "hello" and ask if anyone was interested in anything.

"Yeah, I wanted a job application," Kimmy said.

"I was going to help her fill it out here, if that's okay," D.J. said.

The owner could tell Stephanie - who was keeping the boys from wandering now - and D.J. looked alike enough to be sisters, and had heard Alex call Stephanie "Aunt." "Sure; come on in. Your sister really seems to do well with your nephews," he told D.J., figuring she was too young to be the mom. The girls entered the store with the twins, and then they got out of the stroller and Stephanie helped them look at the animals.

Before D.J. could explain the mix-up, Kimmy spouted, "And, don't worry. I know the difference between dogs and cats. I thought I knew the difference between nephews and cousins, too. But, you learn something new every day, right?"

Jesse and Becky happened to be driving by, on their way home from a lunch date by themselves. "Oh, let me stop in here, I wanted to talk to the owner about ads for our radio show," Jesse told Becky as they parked. Jesse - Danny Tanner's brother-in-law - and Danny's best friend, Joey Gladstone, had moved in to help raise the three Tanner girls after their mom, Pam, died. Jesse and Joey hosted a radio show.

Becky followed him in. She and her husband saw their twin boys right away. "Well, look who's here," she said joyfully.

"Mommy," Nicky and Alex spouted together, "we wanna doggie."

"And, if you were at the zoo, you'd say you want a lion," Becky said with a laugh.

Jesse couldn't help but chuckle. "That'd make a great line in an ad, huh?"

"You're right, it would. You and your radio partner were in advertising, weren't you?" Jesse said they'd even had their own agency. "I thought someone had told me that, yes. Maybe you could help me produce one." He wasn't sure if Jesse or Becky was sibling to the other girls, but had heard Stephanie was the boys' aunt and that Becky was the mom.

Meanwhile, Joey was with Michelle and Sam after a Honeybees meeting, eating ice cream cones in a shop several doors away. They'd been ordering, and so hadn't seen the others. "It'd be nice to take one of those pets for a test walk," Sam said of the pet store.

"You mean like a test drive? Yeah, that would be cool," Joey said pensively.

"You can take your dog into that car place," Michelle said. "Uncle Joey did with Comet."

"I only did that a couple times, Michelle. And, I actually tied him to their bike rack for a couple minutes each time. I could see him easily since the touch-up paint and stuff is by the register, right near the window." They finished, and threw away their trash, as he continued. "I even ran into an old school buddy doing that. I was untying him and doing Roy Rogers' voice, calling Comet 'Trigger,' and making horse noses. He knew it was me from the impression." That had been the day Stephanie back Joey's car into the kitchen.

The girls giggled and agreed, as Michelle looked to the left. "Hey, isn't that Uncle Jesse and Aunt Becky's car?" Michelle asked, suddenly noticing it near the pet store.

"Hey, yeah; I bet Jesse was going to see about ads. Let's go in and surprise them."

They noticed Danny locking his bike, putting his helmet on the seat, and about to enter the auto parts store. "Hey, pumpkin," Danny said, suddenly noticing them. "How was the Honeybee meeting?" She said it went well.

"Hey, Danny. Out getting some exercise?" Joey asked.

"Well, not on purpose. I am about to enter an auto parts store. But, our other cars are in use right now." he pointed out.

"Good point. We were just headed to the pet store; come and join us?"

"Oh, sure; maybe I can buy a horse instead," Danny quipped as he followed; he loved it when they did stuff together.

"Sorry, Sam, he's only joking," Michelle said. "We won't get a horse."

"It's okay; I know him by now," Sam said, glad to have someone making jokes like that. Being at Michelle's house was always lots of fun.

Michelle was telling her dad about the story Joey told of walking Comet; it was about a dozen blocks away from their home, with the small park a slight detour. As they walked into the pet shop, they overheard Kimmy talking to D.J. as they sat in chairs and tried to fill out the job application.

"How do I answer this question?" Kimmy asked D.J.. "'Hours available.' Do they want to know when I can be physically present, or mentally? Because, I'm usually not there mentally in school."

"True," D.J. said slowly, trying to think. "But, they just want the hours in which you'll be able to be physically present."

Kimmy brightened. "Good. Then, I don't have to be mentally present here?"

"Kimmy, here's some advice. If you want a job, never ask if your mental presence is required while the owner is within hearing distance," D.J. told her.

"Good point. I guess I have to do my own work in a store like this," Kimmy noted.

"Maybe you could compromise, and be someone else," Sam suggested.

Michelle agreed. "You're kind of like that with impressions, Uncle Joey. You pretend to be other people. So, it's like you're there as them."

D.J. didn't want to make her friend work hard on that application for nothing. "At least take it and look at it, Sir," D.J. requested politely. "She really is a great friend. And, I'm sure she didn't mean it when she asked if any animals were allergic to really stinky feet." In fact, Kimmy had meant it to be polite, so she'd known if her shoes could be removed, but D.J. didn't want to mention that if she didn't have to.

The owner had heard a number of odd comments from Kimmy, while engaged in discussion about ads. "I understand; I'll look at it, anyway." Guessing Becky to the girls' sister, he said, "Your sister really is a great friend" to her.

"Really, I didn't know you knew Colleen," Becky said, surprised.

"He must think you're Colleen,' Stephanie remarked to D.J..

Kimmy overheard. "Wow; your real name is Colleen? This is so cool; my best friend has a secret double life. Did you ever dress as a bat?"

"Kimmy, Colleen is in Nebraska," D.J. explained as another customer walked in; the clerk waited on him. " a bat?"

"Yeah; like Batman. Only, you'd be Bat girl," Kimmy said.

Sam shook her head. "The bat girl doesn't dress as a bat; she just gives the players bats."

"Kimmy means ones like batman," Michelle explained.

"Yeah; and why, the world may never know," Jesse deadpanned.

The owner apologized. "I just thought, since Stephanie is the boys' aunt, that you were sisters; I suppose they're your husband's sisters. Or..." He thought a moment. "I'm still trying to figure out how Uncle Joey fits into all these relations."

Danny grinned comically, glad for the chance to be silly; he didn't like to admit it, but at times, he valued the chance to be corny as he tried so hard to make things really happy and take away his sadness at losing his wife, Pam. It wasn't near as bad as it could be, but he still felt it at times. "This is great; they should make a game out of this," Danny said.

"I can tell you're still stumped," Joey told the shop owner, using a game show host voice. "Would you like to buy a vowel?"

Kimmy didn't catch the joking reference to the Wheel of Fortune game show. So, she piped up, "Why?"

"That's a consonant," Stephanie quipped.

D.J. explained the mix-up, after which Danny concluded, "Thankfully, now nobody can show up to confuse things further." He looked toward the door. "If this was 'Happy Days,' that would have been the perfect time for Chuck Cunningham to return," he joked, referring to the character who disappeared without a trace.

That evening, Becky came downstairs once Michelle and Sam were in bed; Stephanie was having a midnight snack. "Michelle still hasn't had a sleepover, except for Sam," Stephanie told Becky, "but she's talked a bit about it. I guess maybe she sees Sam more as a sister, we spend some much time helping her."

"I think you're right. And, you deserve the credit." She snickered. "I'm still laughing about the boys still calling you 'Aunt,'" she said as D.J. and Kimmy came in from the kitchen. "Although, it certainly made me feel young, thinking of you as a sister."

Kimmy couldn't help but pipe up once more. "Maybe you could start your own sorority. Then you'd be sisters. Of course, what would really be interesting is if we were in a sorority, but we were all aunts."

"That would be...very interesting," Stephanie concurred. Turning back to Becky, she asked, "Do you think they'll remember that? It just seems weird, being called 'Aunt.'"

"Hey, at least Dad didn't hear off the street that you were an aunt; he might have had a heart attack," D.J. noted. The others agreed.

Becky said it might be remembered. "It is hard to explain why they remember what they do at that age. It's possible; if they know so many people they feel it important to get all the names right, and they hear 'Aunt...'" She hummed. "I guess if they do, we just encourage them to call you 'Stephanie' only, and if they want to call you Aunt Stephanie once in a while, it'll just be a family inside joke. And, those can be really fun."

"Did you have any like that in your family?" D.J. asked.

"Oh, sure, I've got a big family. For instance, you know Corky?" she asked, referring to the brother that did a great Elvis impression. They did. "Well, not only does he do a great Elvis, he also loves bananas. Just like Elvis. So, we joke about him making really weird foods with banana in them."

"Remember that umbrella I showed you that my mom uses to hypnotize my dad whens he wants him to shave her back," Kimmy asked quickly. "There's an interesting story behind how that got started, what she tried to hypnotize him to eat, and why." She noticed Stephanie about to leave with her food. "On second, I better wait."

"Smart move. Thanks," Stephanie said. "You know, Aunt Becky, it's times like this I think about how much fun we had with Mom. She loved to smile and have fun with life."

D.J. agreed. "She really could brighten a room just by walking in."

"I'm sure she's looking down from Heaven, getting a big kick out of everything you girls do. And, having lots of fun thinking about you as 'Aunt Stephanie.'" The others agreed. "And, knowing that one day, you'll be sharing great times with your own family."

Years later...

"And now," Danny Tanner said, "the centerpiece of Tanner family fun nights."

"You should try to pick videotapes blindfolded once, Dad," Stephanie Tanner teased.

Danny Tanner stood in front of the living room couch. The TV was pushed out of the way, as it often was when they weren't watching. Stephanie, had brought a friend named Robert home for Christmas; he'd be visiting for a couple days before flying home himself, though he'd been there before, since both went to nearby San Francisco State. He hadn't met everyone, though.

Danny debated which of many, many home videos they could pick from. "I never thought of that. Maybe we could blindfold the whole family except for one person, and they could play little segments of each tape while the others try to guess what it is. Sort of like a family 'twenty questions,'" Danny finished.

"Steph, you should know by now not to give him any ideas," Jesse said. His and Joey's families both lived nearby - Jesse and Becky had twins Nicky and Alex, 10, plus two younger adopted kids. Joey had married a widow with two kids, and they had a one-year-old, also. The wives were at home, putting younger children to bed, this night before Christmas, so it was just the three guys, Danny's daughters, Steve, Robert, and Michelle's boyfriend, Jeff, along with Nicky and Alex, plus fourteen-year-old Samantha.

"Quick, someone, offer a suggestion so Danny doesn't use that 'family twenty questions' idea," Jesse continued, a little sarcastically. He had become a real family man in the 15 years since Pam Tanner died, but he still felt Danny went way overboard at times; which he still did a little, not wanting to think about how he missed Pam..

Robert put an arm around Stephanie. "Your family is just as comical as you've said."

"We try our best," Joey said.

"We could talk about a mystery. Like how Steve could ever be full," Michelle kidded.

"I don't think he's ever been full," Stephanie turned to her and joked back.

Nicky agreed. "I can't believe we might eat as much as him one day. "

"Me neither," Alex remarked.

"I don't know, the way you two eat now, you could eat a cow," Joey said. They ate quite a bit for their ages, and would one day play high school football as receivers.

"Or maybe a herd of cows," Stephanie added.

"We never ate a herd of cows," Nicky scoffed.

Stephanie pretended to mishear, to joke around. "You never ate or heard of cows? I know you never ate whole cows, but I can't believe you never heard of cows."

They continued to joke around, and Nicky ended up tickling her. Soon, Stephanie, Michelle, and the twins were engaged in a mini-ticklefest. At the end, Alex said, "You're silly, Aunt Stephanie."

"Aunt Stephanie? I'm confused; I thought they were your cousins," Robert said.

"Say, that's right, you've probably never heard the story behind that," Danny said.

Jesse recalled. "You'd babysat Samantha maybe a month earlier, for your first job doin' it outside the family, but you'd been watching the boys for a while."

"So, was it just as a term of respect for her?" Robert inquired.

"Oh, there's more behind it than that," D.J. said, and soon they began to explain the comical events that allowed Stephanie to be known as Aunt at times.

They laughed as they finished. "It sure is great to have such fun memories to share," Michelle said.

Joey agreed. "I remember we kidded about that being one of those stories you'd enjoy telling boyfriends years later."

"We've had some great ones together," Danny remarked.

Stephanie and Robert smiled at each other, considering the possibility of what would happen in their own future, that they would someday marry and share their own life filled with fun memories.

D.J. could tell that, it being near Christmas, their dad might be thinking of Pam a little. "And, no matter what, Dad, we'll keep making it through with those."

"That's right," Stephanie agreed. "No matter what happens, we can still keep giving away those smiles, like Mom always said. Because we've got the memory of having fun through everything together. And, nothing can take those great memories away."

(I'll never say the last one for sure again, but with the possibility I'll go on in schooling toward a doctorate, some other stuff I'm busy with, and a book I'm working on, it might be. And, I might not have time to review much, either, then, all depending on what happens. Either way, thanks for sharing in this great, wholesome world with me, this great family of...well, imaginary friends, practically. I say as much in "Imaginary Friends Forever," over in the "Peanuts" section. Hope you enjoy my other stuff, too.