Fan Fiction - Written by Doug Fowler - Book Universe

Pie In The Face
Written by: Doug Fowler

I'd done Book Universe stories on why Michelle is much more mature, compliant, & better mannered, with D.J. much more of a mother figure. But, Stephanie is, too, and she and D.J. are closer. So, this is about them in the BU. Parts from the BU versions of a couple episodes. I also hint at books where Michelle helps Steph in similar ways. In one book D.J. says Michelle woke her up and ask a similar question, another hint of D.J.'s more Mom-like status. It's updated for the Chronology, as Steph & D.J. are closer, so it's figured the scene at the end of the flashback first takes place earlier, as mentioned.

Please see earlier BU stories, "Somebody Who Needs You," (BU version of pilot) "They Grow Up So Fast" (funny wedding of letters is canon in both universes) plus the recent "Little Things Mean A Lot," among others, for the more mom-like role D.J. has overall.

Stephanie Tanner sighed as she sat outside her older sister D.J.'s room. D.J. had been having an argument with her boyfriend, Steve. She'd thought about using their argument as the basis for a story for school. But, now, they were making up.

She stood and poked her head in the door. "Hey, Deej? You got a minute?"

D.J., fifteen, looked ready to say she and Steve were studying, but Steve said, "Hey, no problem, Deej, I'll just go see if you've got anything in the fridge." He left.

"Isn't he sweet?" D.J. asked as she sat on her bed, and Stephanie, ten, sat beside her. "Of course, now I can give you a lot more than a minute, the way he eats."

"True. I need help for a short story - I've got writer's block. Actually, it's not just a block - it's a whole city."

D.J. chuckled lightly. "Well, Steph, that joke shows at least you can write a comedy."

"Deej, I'd like something with a young couple. If I wanted comedy, I'd go down to the basement to ask Joey." Joey Gladstone was their dad's best friend. He moved in when the girls' mother died to help raise D.J., Stephanie, and Michelle, now six. At the same time, their Uncle Jesse had moved into the attic apartment. Now, Jesse and his wife Becky and their twin boys lived there.

"Good point."

"It's a good thing we talk so well. I mean, you're not as much a mother figure as you are to Michelle, but she'd been coming to you in the morning and you helped her learn to dress herself, read to her, and other stuff pretty much since Mom died. I mean, Uncle Jesse and Joey have had a great part in that, but you being on the same floor, with that office in the fourth bedroom..."

"Steph, you sure never have talkers' bloc," D.J. kidded her. "When you ramble like that, it's hard to imagine you could have writer's block." D.J. led her out the door. "Let's check Dad's office. You know, this was a guest bedroom when I was little."

"Great; the first idea I get is about a room changing," she said sarcastically.

As they sifted through old ideas for their dad and Aunt Becky's talk show, "Wake Up, San Francisco, D.J. said, "You could do fan fiction. My friend Kathy Santoni tried to do a Star Trek one in a journal entry for English. Write about one of your favorite shows. Just keep the characters consistent."

"What do you mean?" she asked as she looked up from a transcript of a recent show.

"That means don't have them act totally unlike themselves. And, if you write about a sitcom, include comedy. In fact, Kathy's Star Trek one is a great example of how not to do it," D.J. considered aloud.

"What did she do?"

"Well, there was no exploration or sci-fi or anything. It barely had a plot. It was just male and female crewmembers making out with each other randomly."

Stephanie agreed, that wouldn't make sense. She focused on a note concerning the owner of Anthony's Pizza. His restaurant had recently won an award. "Oh, look, Greg Vitotelli's going to be on Dad's show next week. Huh. I wonder why he calls it Anthony's if his name's Greg."

"Well, his dad started it. But, I heard Dad say it was named after a favorite uncle."

"Rats, I was hoping for something really exotic. Like his dad was an Allied spy in World War Two and they had to flee Italy and change their names."

"Hey, it sounds like you're getting ideas," D.J. said cheerfully.

"True. I guess I just need to figure out how to put them together." She smiled at D.J.. "Remember when we walked to Anthony's about three years ago?"

"How could I forget? That would be a fun story." Stephanie agreed, as they reminisced.

The day began with Stephanie, seven and a half, waking up. Michelle had climbed into D.J.'s bed, and they were cuddling and talking about animals. To Stephanie, it was just like she might have done with their mom, who had died when Stephanie was five.

Dad, Uncle Jesse, and Joey were great with all the kids. But, she'd crawled into D.J.'s bed with nightmares a few times those first months. And, she thought it would be nice to join Michelle, and take advantage of that mothering. Even with their recent argument.

"Hey, Deej," she said as she sat beside D.J. on the now crowded bed. She thought about how their mom had encouraged them to be closer before she died, because of that office; they would have put her and D.J. together anyway for a while when Michelle was little. And, how she'd crawled in and snuggled with D.J. at times even without nightmares since she'd turned seven, though she'd wondered at first if it would be too different from when Pam was alive.

It wasn't quite like it had been when Pam was alive. But, it was still nice. "Hey, Deej. Remember that fight we had?" Stephanie asked.

"You mean like the Stooges?" Michelle interrupted. Jesse loved The Three Stooges.

"Not quite like that, Michelle," D.J. said with a chuckle. She continued, as Danny stepped in near the end. "It was just a little argument, like sisters have, that's all. Thankfully, being the oldest, besides Dad, on this floor, Michelle's come to me a lot; and I've been able to get closer to you, too. I've had my maternal instinct exercised a lot."

"There's one workout video I don't think I'd want to see Richard Simmons do," Danny quipped.

D.J. laughed as Danny hugged the girls and left. Michelle looked at a book as D.J. spoke. "I'm not pushing those feelings aside. Instead of just reacting to misbehavior, I enjoy having a leadership role in preventing it and helping you two grow. I'm not as focused on myself as I might be. So, I was willing to bend, get you to talk, and I agreed to go to the elementary school's Halloween carnival tonight and go to my school's later. Without this instinct being exercised, it might feel like we lived in different worlds."

"But, you still don't let me read your diary, and you like to have this room to yourself sometimes."

"Well, Steph, that's just taking turns." She thought for a minute. "I might seem more of a leader if I had my own room. But, tell me the truth. Would me having my own room really have kept you away from my diary those couple times last spring?"

"Of course not. You fascinate me." Stephanie couldn't help but giggle. "That was funny when you told Michelle to go after Mr. Bear," she said of her favorite stuffed animal and best friend. D.J. didn't push the issue - she knew Stephanie had learned her lesson then.

"I know." Trying to think of what she could do to help Stephanie with whatever she might be feeling, D.J. said, "Tell you what. Once Dad and the guys come back from that race they're running, the two of us can walk to Anthony's Pizza for lunch."

"Cool; I've never walked there. I always needed a ride." Stephanie hurriedly went to the bathroom and got dressed. She thought of Anthony's as a special treat; one teens and preteens like D.J. had a lot. "When I'm your age, Deej, I want to go there all the time," she said as D.J. helped Michelle with her clothes, which she'd brought from her room.

"I can imagine that." Taking the chance to kid her a little, she added, "I don't think Mr. Bear likes pizza, though," referring to Stephanie's favorite stuffed animal and, in many ways, her best friend.

While Michelle played happily at home with the adults, D.J. and Stephanie skipped out of the house and began the walk to Anthony's. The lavish fall colors had dimmed a little as November neared, but they still enjoyed such things as crunching through the leaves.

"I don't have as much time to spend with either of you now that I'm in Junior High, but it's nice to be a little bit like Mom," D.J. said as they finished a discussion and entered Anthony's Pizza. And, that's probably what Stephanie wants, she told herself.

"Maybe someday Michelle will make you a Mother's Day card."

D.J. grinned sadly. "I said a little bit, Steph. I don't know if I could handle being compared with Mom. I try, but in the back of my mind, I probably make Mom out to be even more perfect than Dad does. And, you know how hard it is for him to find dates because the least little thing is wrong with each one."

As the girls sat and awaited their order, the owner came out to say hello. "Say, is your Uncle Jesse home?"

"I think so," D.J. said as she looked at him, then gazed past him toward the kitchen. The most awesome looking boy she'd ever seen was standing in the doorway of the offices with an older fellow who she assumed to be his grandfather.

"Well, my friend back there owns Martin's Bakery nearby." D.J. dreamily said she'd been there as the owner pointed to the older man. "He had another ad agency cancel on him due to some unforeseen difficulties. And, he needs an ad done within a few days. I know it's short notice..."

"Oh, it's no problem," Stephanie interjected, trying to be helpful. "In fact, D.J. and I could do the ad with him. I was in an Oat Boats ad after all."

"Wonderful, I'll call your uncle and make arrangements. Thanks."

D.J. gawked at Stephanie as the owner went back into the office. "Steph, what did you just do?"

"Got us in an ad."

"Steph, we might be doing this commercial with the owner's grandson. And, well..."

"Cool. You need a boyfriend."

D.J. was still hesitant. "Steph..."

"Isn't that what you want?"

"Well, I was kind of thinking the paperboy, though."

Inside, D.J. was nervous about doing a commercial. She'd been excited about the Oat Boats one, which Stephanie had landed instead. But now? Not only was she older and becoming more self-conscious, she thought she might have a shot at going with the owner's grandson. However, she was afraid if she messed up, she wouldn't have any chance at him. Stephanie was right - D.J. was acting like a mother in some ways, but she also wanted to be able to say she had a boyfriend, now that she was in junior high.

"Should I tell him you don't want to do the ad with him, then?"

"Steph..." Thankfully, the pizza arrived just then. "Just eat your pizza. And, next time, let me talk."

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to D.J., Jesse and Becky had gone out for a picnic in the park. Joey, however, was home. With Joey being half of the advertising team, he agreed to go see the owner, Mark Martin, and his thirteen-year-old grandson, Jimmy. He'd also called their boss, Mr. Malatesta, and arranged for some cameras and equipment and crew to be brought over; there were a few that were wiling to work on Saturday.

He drove up to Anthony's, a couple blocks away, as the girls were sitting and talking after lunch. "Hey, Deej," Joey said, "I heard you girls get to be in a commercial."


Joey didn't let D.J. finish. "Listen, I talked to the owner, Mr. Martin? He had a good idea for some comedy, and I told him I had some ideas, too. I said I figured you'd be anxious to be in this one, since you didn't get to be in the Oat Boats one."

D.J. wasn't sure how to react to that as Joey was introduced to Mr. Martin. She wished she had Stephanie's gift of gab sometimes. Although, in a way, that would be bad; she might blurt out the wrong thing. And, as she continued to look at the boy, she became increasingly concerned about that possibility.

"Hi, I'm Jimmy," he said somewhat shyly. "You must be D.J.."

"Yeah, I am. So, your grandpa owns a bakery, huh? I'll bet you love that. Sort of like having Willy Wonka as your grandpa, with those luscious brownies he makes, huh?"

"Kind of; except I'm allergic to chocolate."

Noticing D.J.'s cheeks turning bright red, Stephanie put her hands on her hips and said, "And I should let you talk?"

Joey noticed D.J.'s embarrassment, too, and intervened by making formal introductions. He then suggested they all go over to Martin's and set up a couple cameras as the crew from the agency would be arriving soon. They could rehearse a little, then film the action the next day; or even that day if everything went well.

D.J. and Jimmy talked a little on the way over, though she was still a little embarrassed about her earlier gaffe. However, as some time passed, she decided that as long as she didn't slip up any more, things would be okay. Jimmy seemed very nice and understanding, after all.

Once they were there, D.J. bent down to Stephanie's level as the Martins went into the back of their bakery. "Now, Steph, I'm glad you got me in this ad," she said, trying to be as motherly as possible. "But, just go along with things and don't try to ad lib, okay?"

"Sure, Deej. So, you really like Jimmy, huh?"

"Steph..." She decided she'd better admit it so Stephanie didn't ask questions like that later. "Okay, I do. But, how do I put this? It's not something you go blabbing about to everyone."

"Kimmy would." Kimmy Gibbler was D.J.'s best friend.

"Kimmy doesn't always have good judgment."

Not really listening to D.J., Stephanie said, "Kimmy would say he's hot." Noticing D.J.'s blush, Stephanie grinned broadly. "I knew it; you think he's hot, too."

"Well, even if I do, please, promise you won't tell him." After a moment, Stephanie agreed.

After a few minutes, the crew Mr. Malatesta had called arrived from the ad agency, and Joey and Mr. Martin began talking lowly about their ideas.

D.J. milled around with Stephanie, Jimmy, and the cameramen. "Wow, look at this big cake," D.J. said as she looked at the writing - "Golden Anniversary" was written in yellow icing on white, but by the sides they could tell the cake was a rich chocolate.

"Michelle would go nuts over it," Stephanie remarked.

"You've got that right." She turned to Jimmy to make small talk and said, "So, your grandpa's probably going to take this out to someone's party and wish them happy birthday, huh?" As Jimmy started laughing, D.J. realized what she had said.

Stephanie tugged at her sister's shirt, and whispered as D.J. bent over, "You're sure that wasn't because you think he's hot?"

"Yes, I'm sure. Steph, kids don't have anniversaries, they have birthdays. It was perfectly normal for me to mess up and say 'birthday,'" she whispered, trying to convince herself of that. She really didn't think of anniversaries right away, with Pam being gone for two and a half years and her parents not having celebrated one for over three, since the accident was a couple months before the next would have been.

Still, as Mr. Martin and Joey told everyone their lines and they began to set up for filming, D.J. couldn't help but wonder if Stephanie was right. And, if she might make even more flubs now, trying to impress Jimmy.

"And, action!"

D.J. tried to remind herself that she was taking her Uncle Jesse's place in the ad. "Be cool," she told herself as she lovingly placed an arm around Stephanie.

"I love my big sis; because she likes to bring me to Martin's."

"And I love my little sister," she said sincerely. "She truly has a sweet toot...did I say 'toot?'" she said, looking away from the camera in a shocked manner.

"That would be great if we sold beans," Jimmy joked.

"It's tooth, sweet tooth," Stephanie reminded her. "Try saying this. 'A Tudor who tooted the flute..."

"...tried to tutor two Tudors to toot," D.J. finished with Stephanie. "Okay, I've got it. I think I just tried to talk too fast last time." She was anxious not to have her sister one-upping her in tongue twisters; after all, "sweet tooth" was a very minor one compared to that. D.J. said "a sweet tooth," and they sat in the booth as they would have done had she said the line right. "All right, now I did it right." Like their late mother, D.J. always wanted to be the best. So, she had wanted to practice and do it right once.

"Okay, let's get back in position," Mr. Martin said. "And, don't worry, D.J., it's hard to do something cold with no practice. We're scheduled to send our ads to the local TV stations in a couple days, though, so we really need to do this quickly. That's why I figured we'd rehearse some."

"Right, just be glad it's not something big and national where we'd have to all put makeup on or something," Joey remarked.

"True." D.J. put her arm around Stephanie, and they said their lines right.

However, as Mr. Martin brought pieces of apple pie over to their booth, and Joey and Jimmy spoke about Martin's products, a distinctive "hic" came from D.J.'s mouth. Then, another. Stephanie just shook her head as D.J. continued to hiccup.

D.J. drank some water, then they got in place again. However, this time, D.J. said, "She shuly has..." instead of "she truly has..." D.J. looked at Mr. Martin and asked, "Can I just say 'she has a sweet tooth' instead of adding 'truly'?"

"That would be fine."

"Thanks, it's, well..." D.J. wasn't sure how to explain that she kept wondering what Jimmy was thinking as she made little flub after little flub.

Stephanie decided that, if D.J. was telling the truth about not being nervous because Jimmy was "hot," there was only one other possibility in her mind, one that she didn't really understand, but that she'd heard of.

"It's okay, D.J.. You're just worried since you're acting, if you mess up too bad, Hollywood might blacklist you and say you can't act again."

D.J. was momentarily glad for the break. "Steph, I wouldn't be blacklisted for messing up an ad."

"And of course, if you mess up too bad, they might not stop there. Maybe they'll even say you can't watch a movie again." Her words became muffled, then silenced, as D.J. had swiped a cookie from a shelf and placed it in Stephanie's mouth. "That would be...Mmmpf," she said before taking the cookie out and staring at it.

"What is it, Steph?" Joey asked.

"I'm not sure whether to say 'how rude' or not. I've never been interrupted by a cookie."

"Be glad Michelle isn't here. If you hesitated long enough she might take it," D.J. joked. She was glad Stephanie was only rambling about movies, but she was also anxious - if she told Stephanie that's not what she was afraid of, Stephanie might blurt out something about D.J. thinking Jimmy was "really hot." Of all the people Stephanie could pick up words from, why did she pick them up from Kimmy sometimes?

"Oh, well, stuffing that cookie in my mouth fits right in with my lines." Stephanie took a bite, then said, "The ones about that being my fifth piece of pie today, and the other funny jokes we make about how much I like Martin's."

"Right. Just don't expect a cookie every time you ramble."

Joey explained how he handled bloopers in his comedy acts, complete with his Popeye voice. "A couple times I messed up on stage, and I just did my Popeye voice and said something like, 'Well, blow me down, me mouth's got a loose bolt. 'Scuse me while I tightens it.'" He made the noise of an electric drill, then said "all set," followed by his Popeye laugh.

"Okay, thanks, Joey," D.J. said with a laugh. "I guess I'll consider it tightened now...whoa!" In walking back to her position, she'd failed to notice Mr. Martin walking back from the booth with the two pieces of pie. She bumped into him and sent the dishes sailing to the floor, with some of the pie winding up on Mr. Martin.

D.J. was humiliated. She always wanted to be the best, just like her mother. But, here, she done nothing but mess up. She couldn't imagine how Jimmy could like her now, and furthermore, she didn't think she could be in this ad - or any one. Stephanie's nutty "blacklisting" comment almost seemed possible after the day she'd had. She quickly excused herself and fled into the ladies' room.

Stephanie walked in a moment later. "Deej, are you okay?"

"I'm fine, Steph. Look, just...tell them to do the ad without me."

"Are you sure?"

"Steph, I can't talk, I keep making messes, and Jimmy probably thinks I'm the clumsiest girl alive. And, well, now you know I don't want you saying anything about this! But, I like Jimmy, so that makes me extra nervous about doing it."

Stephanie was sad to see her sister feeling down. While Stephanie didn't understand it, D.J.'s desire to be the best probably brought on a lot of that at times like this, as she was just a young teen. Stephanie wished she could think of some way to help D.J., and let her be in the commercial.

Then, Stephanie had an idea.

Several minutes later, she walked back into the ladies' room. "Guess what, Deej. I got them to put you in the ad, and you don't have to talk," she announced excitedly.

"Really?!" D.J. spoke cautiously as they left the ladies' room, and stood in the hallway leading back to it. "You didn't say that I like him, did you?" she whispered.

"Nope. You told me not to. So, I just said you had stage fright."

D.J. looked stunned at Stephanie - she didn't want Jimmy to think she could get scared of being on stage, as she loved to perform.

Still, when Jimmy stepped around the corner into the hallway, and told D.J. when to enter, he said, "It's okay, you don't have to be scared. I get tongue tied in class all the time." When he winked at her, D.J. decided it was okay. In fact, she decided he might even like her. D.J. bounced excitedly, her usual positive thinking taking over again.

She picked Stephanie up and hugged her. "Oh, Steph, what would I do without you?"

"You wouldn't need as many napkins," Stephanie admitted.

"What?!" D.J. looked at Joey as he stepped into the hall. "I wish there was a cure for second grade pattern strangeness." What on earth did napkins have to do with anything?

"You sure you're okay with this, Deej?"

"Of course" Why wouldn't I be? she asked herself.

"Just come around the corner when we give you your cue," Stephanie instructed. Then, she walked back into the bakery.

D.J. quickly forgot her confusion over the napkins. Stephanie simply thought and said strange things sometimes. Now, the important thing was starring in this ad with an incredibly handsome boy. As she received her cue, she strolled confidently toward the counter with a huge grin, and...


D.J. froze for a second. She heard Stephanie say, "I don't know if that's the best use of Martin's pies. But it 's the funniest." As the director yelled, "That'd be a wrap," she was still shocked. Then, she realized what Stephanie meant about napkins. She had just been hit in the face with a cream pie. And, if they kept that, anyone who watched the commercial would see it.

"You're a really great sport, D.J.," Jimmy told D.J. very sincerely.

The warmth of the compliment was lost on D.J.. She could think of only one thing. Stephanie had obviously told them what to do. She was responsible for her getting hit with that pie in front of Jimmy.

"Steph, there's just one thing to do after you arranged that," D.J. said in a mock threatening voice.

Before Stephanie had finished nervously asking what that was, D.J. had picked her up and was giving her the biggest hug she could. She planted several kisses on her cheeks and forehead, while rubbing her face all over Stephanie's in the playful cuddle, so the cream filling from the pie that hit her went all over Stephanie's face and forehead. The others simply laughed as they watched.

"Ewwww," Stephanie said as she tried unsuccessfully to squirm out of D.J.'s grip. One D.J. was done hugging her, Stephanie grabbed some napkins from the dispenser. "Now we both need lots of napkins."

Jimmy couldn't stop giggling at D.J.'s s reaction. She had come up with a loving, yet silly, way to get back at her. "You guys, that is so funny. That's even better than we scripted it."

"I hope you'll let us use you instead of Joey; too bad we don't have time to have you hugging Stephanie like that," Mr. Martin said. D.J. looked oddly at Joey.

"Yeah, Deej, they were talking about the many uses for their pies - gift baskets, weddings, you name it. I thought a pie in the face would be great," Joey said.

"But, I suggested you get the pie. I thought it would be good since you had such trouble saying your lines." Stephanie finished wiping the filling off her face, though she knew she'd have to wash her hair when she got home.

"Well, you got pied too, now," D.J. said. Though her tone and face said she was scolding her, she also realized how her response had been, and began to grin. "I guess I practically used you as a napkin," D.J. said as they both began to chuckle. The girls snickered at the comedy for a moment, looking lovingly at each other. D.J. finally continued in a slightly stern way, "And, I have the satisfaction of knowing that one day, Michelle will help find boyfriends for you the same-" She suddenly got anxious again. "Uh, that is, if you don't mind me saying you're my boyfriend," she said to Jimmy with a nervous chuckle.

"Not at all. I like you. It's nice to know a girl who's willing to get a little silly once in a while, and not get all upset at stuff like that."

"Well...a little," she said sheepishly. "But, if it's okay with you, now that I know you kind of like me, I think I'll be over my 'stage fright.' Can we have Joey get the pie in the ad, instead?"

"That's fine," Mr. Martin said.

Jesse walked in the door, having gotten the message, just as the ad was finished taping, He gawked at Joey for a moment, incredibly stunned to see his partner happily wiping pie residue off his face. "What in the world have you been doing? I thought you were filming a commercial!"

"I was; it was great. I got a pie in my face," Joey said happily.

"Oh, yeah?" Jesse calmly picked up a couple other pies, there in case they had to reshoot, and threw them at Joey. "As long as you're happy with it, I always wanted to do that."

D.J. saw Joey ready to throw a nearby pie at Jesse. "Wait, hold it. Guys, we just did a commercial, I found out Jimmy likes me, I think this is a good place to end." Jesse and Joey agreed, as they began to chuckle and the others explained what had happened.

"Right. It's so romantic right now," Stephanie said, thinking of D.J. and Jimmy, as at her age just being boyfriend and girlfriend was "romantic."

Jesse couldn't help but chuckle. "Yeah. And they lived sloppily ever after," he joked.

The next morning, Stephanie awakened. She saw it was 6:20 - she was actually awake before Michelle.

She gazed over at D.J. after pondering yesterday's silliness for a few minutes. Things had seemed like they had when their mom was alive yesterday. Indeed, if Pam were alive, Stephanie might have still pulled that joke on D.J., and Pam would have offered to take the pie instead, like Joey had. And yet, D.J. was understanding enough, and loved to give of herself at times, just like Pam.

Stephanie sat beside D.J. as D>J. woke up. "Good morning, Deej. Thanks for yesterday. You really do try to be like Mom."

D.J. caught the hidden meaning. "It's nothing like when Mom was here, is it?"

"No," Stephanie said sadly. "But, it was still fun. And, you do a good job," she said.

"I know. You even helped me find a boyfriend. I hope Michelle puts you through stuff like that one day."

"She'd take the pie in the face herself, knowing her," Stephanie joked.

The girls laughed for a second. "Yeah, she might eat it anyway." As they smiled broadly at each other, D.J. was the one to get a tear in her eye. "Mom always said, 'give away a smile, it's free.' Being the only other ones besides Dad on this floor, with Michelle coming in here in the mornings, it's helped me remember how much fun that is."

"Same here. You might not be Mom. But you do a great job trying."


"My turn!" Michelle exclaimed several minutes later as she ran up to D.J. and climbed in with them

D.J. spoke warmly as they had a group hug. "It's hard without Mom here sometimes. But, hearing you say things like that, Steph, make it all worthwhile."

Back in the present, several days later, Stephanie announced at the dinner table that she'd gotten an A on her paper. "I combined that idea with a fairy tale; Cinderella has a fairy Godmother who liked practical jokes. So, her wicked stepsisters got set up with court jesters, and there was a big pie fight at the end."

"Great work, Steph," Danny said. "Although, I certainly hope there were plenty of people there to clean it up. That sounds like a big mess."

A short while later, as Stephanie and D.J. were finishing doing the dishes, the fifth grader thanked D.J. again. "I owe it all to you."

"Well, I don't know about that. You've got a great sense of humor; sometimes it goes a little too far, in fact," D.J. remarked.

"Yeah, sometimes it does. But, sometimes I need you to help get my thoughts going for stories. Even when it means making you get a pie in the face." Stephanie chuckled. "I guess I just like your ideas. Did you ever go to Mom for story ideas before she died?"

"I sure hope you're not going to start comparing me to Mom. I had enough of those thoughts this morning, after Michelle came to me about two and asked if fish sneeze."

"She did?" Stephanie shook her head as she finished the last of the dishes. "I'm glad it was you and not me."

"Well, I won't say I haven't been aggravated the couple times she's done it. But, I'm sure lots of parents are a little annoyed when their kids do that. Aunt Becky says you just need to learn to think of it as a very strange honor."

Stephanie laughed as they leaned against the sink. "Yeah, I'll bet. They just know a parent can help with anything."

There was silence for a moment. Stephanie considered how she'd helped D.J. find a boyfriend several years before. Like many Junior High relationships, it hadn't lasted long, but it had still be fun for D.J. after she got to know Jimmy.

However, now that Stephanie was in fifth grade, and was starting to think about boys a little - she'd started playing baseball because of one, and now there was another she kind of liked on her team - she didn't know if she'd want that done. "Deej, do you really think Michelle will want to help me the same way? I mean, like with you and Jimmy?"

"Probably," D.J. said, putting an arm around Stephanie. "And, it'll seem weird, and a little annoying, like it did for me. Just remember, Steph, if she does, it'll be because she feels you've helped her so much. It's just one way of doing what Mom always said. Giving away those smiles."