Fan Fiction - Written by Doug Fowler - Melina Universe

03 * For Such a Time as This
Written by: Doug Fowler

This 3rd in the Melina series takes place in fall of season six, after Jesse and Joey get the radio job and between other episodes. After a rough start, Michelle has begun to get much nicer and better behaved, thanks to D.J.. Episodes would focus more at times on Melina's adjustment, and not as much Michelle - hence the "Funny Buddy" incident isn't as bad later. Though it would be just after the break point of this story, before the final scene months later, Melina would likely be the one to beat out Michelle for the "Yankee Doodle role, for instance, causing some interesting friction that one of you readers may want to write about.

This story ties into RKORadio's Sam series, with his permission of course. Sam's in a different school district in the TV Universe, as the mother marries a different member of that family, so Stephanie can't help. (By the way, RKORadio chose Sam's last name before realizing it was also the family name in "Two of A Kind." However, it's made for an interesting connection, as you'll see. The "Two of a Kind" crossover part at the end includes something mentioned intan episode, by the way, about the mom loving to ride horses. I ope I did those characters well enough.) Rather than the nearby daycare almost kicking her out in the winter in RKORadio's first Sam Series story, this one, it's presumed, kicks her out earlier, without giving her as many chances. In the TVU, she isn't adopted till after the TV series ends. However, Melina could help provide for a very different result.

"I still say you got off easy," six-year-old Melina chided her cousin, Michelle Tanner, as they rode their bikes. They looked very similar, except for Melina's Greek features.

"I didn't get dessert last night! Don't you know yet how hard that is for me?" the near six-year-old insisted. Her birthday was in three weeks.

Melina laughed. Since coming from Greece that summer and being adopted by her godfather - Michelle's uncle Jesse Katsopolis and his wife Becky - she'd learned quite a bit about the family. And, she had to admit, "That is hard for you. But, that's why Uncle Danny did that, instead of sending you to your room or grounding you for a day or two."

"He takes after D.J. is what he does." Danny was the father of Michelle and her sisters, D. j. and Stephanie, fifteen and ten. Since his wife died, he always had trouble correcting Michelle. This meant D.J. had to do it quite often, especially when Michelle was little or when she was out of control like last month. She'd decided to test one little thing, saying "duh" to Danny; she only apologized after he removed her dessert for that evening. He would take it away for a few days when she called a joke line that cost money in a few months, and Melina blurted out where Michelle had heard a joke she told.

However, Danny would even let D.J. be the one to ground Michelle when Michelle and Melina would break a dinosaur playing tag a few months from now, though Becky - Jesse's wife - had grounded Melina. Jesse also had trouble, but could finally bring himself to send Melina to her room, anyway.

Michelle changed the subject quickly. "Are you going to the Greek-American festival?"

"I think so. I don't feel as sad when I think of Greece as I did when I came here."

"That's good," Michelle said cheerfully. It had been two and a half months now. "I'm glad you're feeling better." She said she'd go with her.

"Joey might have to take us. Nicky and Alex are sick." Nicky and Alex were Jesse and Becky's naturally born twins, both a year and a half. The family lived a couple doors down, in Michelle's friend Teddy's house. They'd moved out about six weeks ago. Jesse and Joey had moved in to help raise the girls soon after Pam died. Joey still lived in the Tanner home, though now in the attic; he was Danny's best friend and a comedian.

D.J. and her boyfriend, Steve, offered to go along, as did Stephanie. Kimmy Gibbler, D.J.'s annoying best friend, the Tanners' next door neighbor, was busy working after school as sophomore class president, though she was so dumb D.J. often had to check on her. Becky had an interview with a guest for the show she and Danny hosted in the morning, so Jesse watched the twins. And, he preferred not letting Joey have the reigns of the radio show; he worried Joey would make it one hundred percent comedy. So, they'd trade with the Saturday afternoon deejay this week.

Michelle and Melina got bored there. Joey's attention was turned toward a carnival game, so they girls decided to wander off. "Remember, we have to stick together," Michelle cautioned. Melina understood.

Soon, they spotted a girl walking aimlessly. The festival was free, so it was easy for the girl to get in. However, she kept shoving and bumping people, not seeming to care where she was going. The girl wore an incredible scowl on her face, and appeared to have just turned four.

"Hi, I'm Michelle," Michelle said amicably.


Melina gave it a try. "Are you lost?"

"Up your nose with a rubber hose," she barked, copying the line she'd heard once on TV in a rerun. She looked back at Michelle and Melina - who looked like they could be twins - as she kept walking.

Melina looked at Michelle, unaware of how to handle that comment. "Your turn."

Michelle dug into her pocket - yes, she had enough. She had several crisp dollar bills. She was glad she hadn't spent anything on games yet. "Come with us. We'll buy you some food."

Sam sneered, but as she turned to look at them, she sensed something different in the way they acted. Still, she was leery; nobody ever took the time to do fun stuff with her. "What if I don't want to?" she snapped.

"You don't have to..." Michelle said, unsure of how else to put it. She really wanted to help this girl, as she, too, feared she might be lost. Michelle was afraid something could happen to the little girl, whose attitude was worse than anything she'd ever seen.

They wouldn't have even come to the festival, let alone seen the girl, without Melina being there. While Jesse was of Greek ancestry, he wasn't into Greek customs. And, his sister Pam - Danny's late wife - was from a prior marriage of his mother's, which is why she didn't look as Greek. So, Greek customs were not a part of the Tanner family at all. Hence, there wasn't much interest in this festival, even for Steve, who loved to eat. Steve would have simply been eating somewhere else.

Melina lovingly took the new girl by the hand. Her warm smile and sensitive look helped her to feel a little better; Melina was very good at understanding others' feelings. "Come on, you'll be all right," Melina said soothingly. "My dad died last summer, and I had to come live in a really new place. I know how you feel." She didn't, of course, but she thought she did - she and Michelle still presumed this girl was lost.

Michelle wasn't nearly as compassionate, but she was learning. "Come on, it's my treat."

The older girls learned something else as they ordered; Sam had horrible manners. Luckily, they gotten her something she could hold and eat with her hands. Michelle and Melina had pooled their money, shown the man at the booth how much they had, and so had gotten just enough for all of them.

The small girl chomped away, happy to have someone doing something nice for her. "What's your name?" Melina asked.

"Sam," came the simple reply.

"Hi, Sam, I'm Melina, and this is Michelle. Where are your parents?"

"Who cares?!" came the scowling rejoinder.

Both were taken aback by the sour reaction, till Michelle broke into a knowing grin. She whispered in Melina's ear. "Remember how I told you I ran away once?" Melina nodded - that must be it. "I bet they're here looking for her."

However, when Sam was asked to describe her parents, she barked that she didn't want to talk about them, and clammed up again. "Well, there goes that idea," Michelle said.

At that moment, D.J. and Steve walked up to the girls, looking somewhat frantic. "There you are, Michelle, what did we say about wandering off?" D.J. scolded.

"We came right to a food place," Melina fibbed.

Steve didn't catch the fib. "They're smarter than you think, Deej; you should have let me decide where to look. They probably figured I'd look here."

"Steve...look, let's just drop it, okay. We'll talk about this when we get home," D.J. said in a tone that implied she would find out the truth, and that if the girls were fibbing, they better tell the truth then or face a much longer lecture.

Michelle knew that tone. "I'm sorry, D.J.. We'll stay right with you from now on," she said remorsefully, Melina copying. D.J. quickly softened her tone, and said that while they'd talk about wandering, it wouldn't be nearly the lecture it could have been.

'So, who's this?" Steve asked.

"Her name's Sam. She could be lost. But she won't say anything about her parents," Melina said.

D.J. smiled warmly and knelt down to Sam's level. "Hi, Sam, I'm D.J.. Who brought you here?"

"I rode my trike. Then I walked a little." This D.J. seemed nice enough, and Sam was feeling in a reasonable mood, though she still copped an attitude.

D.J. blinked a moment. "Do your parents know where you are?"

"They don't care. I got rid of that dumb daycare. Now I'm free!"

Michelle whispered, "I think she ran away," in D.J.'s ear.

"I'm not so sure," D.J. muttered with a tinge of concern, looking at how unkempt Sam appeared, with ragged jeans, a dirty shirt, and an appearance like she hadn't bathed in a while. D.J. also pondered what Sam said about just riding her tricycle there, wondering if a kid would really run away like that. She considered how to phrase the next question.

Sam had finished her treat, and thrown the wrapping on the ground, wiping her hands on her jeans. D.J. grabbed a napkin, and tried to wipe Sam's face, she squirmed and fidgeted, but feeling D.J.'s tender touch, finally relented.

"There you go. All nice and clean...Steve, are you eating again?!" Steve had ordered something and was chewing away. She sighed. "That's my boyfriend, Steve. He eats like a horse."

"So does Sam," Michelle said, referring to her table manners.

D.J. quieted her with a look. She asked Steve to tell Joey and Stephanie where they were, and he left. "So, are your parents here?" She shook her head. "Who takes care of you?"


There was an awkward silence. Then, Melina jumped in with, "We'll watch you while your parents are away." She guessed that Sam's parents worked, because her great-grandfather, Papouli, and his wife had watched Melina when her dad had problems, after her mm left and gave away all custody rights. And, Sam had mentioned a daycare. Melina also knew a kid her age or younger would have to be watched.

Sam seemed quite belligerent about someone watching her again - she hated having to follow rules when there wasn't anyone who really seemed to care at all backing up those rules. And yet, there was part of Sam that seemed to want that love. D.J. licked her lips, and wondered how to continue.

Melina, however, kept talking. "Joey would be best. He doesn't do anything during the day. My dad's busy with his band sometimes. Plus, we have Nicky and Alex." Joey and Jesse hosted a radio show in the afternoon, but by then, Danny and Becky would be back from hosting their morning talk show, "Wake Up, San Francisco."

Michelle tried to explain who Joey was, but Sam looked bored. Finally, she pushed Michelle aside and said, "Bye."

D.J. grabbed her arm gently and sat on the ground, cuddling her in her lap. "Sam, we want to help you, okay? We want to find whoever's supposed to watch you." D.J. was more and more convinced that Sam was telling the truth about coming here alone; nobody showed any signs of knowing Sam. "Do you go to school?" D.J. asked. Sam nodded, but gave a look of distaste for it. "What's your phone number?" She didn't know. "What's your address?" She didn't know that, either. "Are you just not telling because we're strangers, or do you really not know?"

"I really don't know!" Sam shouted.

"How old are you?" Michelle asked.

"Five." Her birthday was in March, though she didn't know which day.

"So you came here after school...or maybe during...did you go to school today?" Sam nodded slowly. D.J. explained to Steve, Joey, and Stephanie what little they'd learned as they walked up to the group.

"You say you came here? Could you find your way home?" Steve asked, trying to be helpful as he polished off the last of his snack.

When Sam nodded proudly, D.J. said, "I'll follow her on foot, you guys can go home with Joey, I'll tell you what I find."

"I'm going with you, Deej," Stephanie said, showing visible concern herself. D.J. said Stephanie could come, as Joey tried to interject his ideas, but failed.

"It might be dangerous, Deej, she looks like she comes from a pretty poor part of town," Steve suggested. "I'll go with you."

D.J. hemmed and hawed. "Okay," she relented. "I'll go on foot so we can see where you live." To Steve, she instructed quietly, "Trail me in your car, not too close."

"But why don't we...oh, yeah," Steve said. He'd begun to ask why they didn't just put Sam in their car, but then realized that no matter what the problem, having Sam get into a stranger's car was not a good idea. "Good plan, Deej."

Given Joey's childlike nature, he easily bought into D.J.'s plan. He didn't think Sam could give good directions at her age, and it would be best for someone to be watching out for her. His only change was insisting that they check at the booth where missing children were reported at the fair.

However, when they did, they learned that nobody had shown up looking for a child with Sam's description. So, Joey would be the one to follow, with the two youngest girls in the back seat. Steve drove home to tell the others where they were; he was a senior, whereas D.J. was only a sophomore in high school.

D.J. and Stephanie followed Sam to a place under some trees where she'd parked her tricycle. Stephanie was quite curious, and concerned, though not as much as D.J.. They were glad the younger girls figured Sam had run away; they didn't want to worry them.

They were stunned, as they talked to Sam and watched her as they walked. Sam rode in the direction of some very large estates. "You're sure you live here?" D.J. said several times. Joey and the younger girls, meanwhile, pretended to be taking a "nature trip," stopping to get leaves and rocks that were in people's yards, and look at birds and such, so as not to get too close and arouse suspicion. They only drove a little ways and drove up to a street and turned only when D.J. and Stephanie turned.

After a while, Joey could see it wasn't dangerous - in fact, it was one of the nicest neighborhoods he'd seen. It was in a different school district, and had many fancy homes. It made sense, in a way - that was closer than the poorest sections of town, and in fact was probably all the further Sam could have ridden at her age.

"Steph, write down the street we were on," D.J. instructed, pulling out a pen and notepad from her purse, something she habitually carried, since she was on the school paper. Stephanie took them, and wrote the route, then the house number. "Hmmm, she is inviting us in. And, the door was unlocked."

"So, let's go," Stephanie said excitedly before D.J. grabbed her arm.

"Wait - let's think like investigative journalists. I know it's not technically breaking and entering since she invited us in, but what we need are her phone number, what school she goes to, and so on." She didn't like the thought of going in uninvited.

Stephanie nodded. "Gotcha. So, we go to the neighbors?"

"Right. Maybe one of them can watch Sam." And, just in case there was a problem, the neighbors could tell of things they suspected.

Sam slammed the door. "I don't know why I brought you here!"

"Uh, wait!" Joey said as he exited the car, not wanting Sam to go off alone. "Deej, didn't Kimmy tell you this family was looking for a babysitter for today?"

D.J. caught Joey's look. "Yeah, yeah, she did. Come on, Sam, my assistant and I will come in, while he talks to the neighbors." D.J. and Stephanie took Sam by the hand.

"So if people wonder why we're here, we blame Kimmy?" Stephanie asked lowly.

D.J. nodded and sighed, whispering, "I don't like using her like that, but it's our best bet. And, she'd do something odd like that, hear something and make a very strange connection out of the blue. We'll call when we need picked up," she told Joey.

Joey agreed, and tried to find neighbors at home. Few were, and the one who was only knew Sam had been in a daycare, and guessed someone was now watching her at home because the school bus stopped at Sam's house. With it being dinnertime, Joey didn't want to disturb anyone else. He simply took Michelle and Melina back home.

Meanwhile, D.J. and Stephanie noticed that the house was a mess. "Don't you have a maid?"

"She left a couple hours ago," Sam said.

"I would have thought 'a couple years ago' was more like it," Stephanie quipped, though everything was clean. Sam had just bounced off the walls for a while since the school bus dropped her off, before she'd ridden to the festival at about four. She had been to her all-day Kindergarten that day.

D.J. suggested that Stephanie and Sam race to see who could clean the place up fastest, while she searched. She found a backpack with a clue - a book for beginning readers said, "Property of Lime Street Elementary." She made a mental note of the school district; the school would be closed by now, but they could call tomorrow.

"Now, if there's a maid," she said to herself, "the number should be in a phone book..."

"That does it, Sam, you sit in the corner...ow! How rude!" D.J. heard Stephanie holler in the family room.

"Need any help?!" D.J. went from the kitchen to the family room to find Stephanie holding Sam in her lap and facing the wall. "Guess not, huh?"

With a voice of determination, Stephanie said, "She started throwing stuff around, and almost broke something, and wouldn't stop when I told her, and wouldn't sit by herself. I'll manage. Unless you want this part."

D.J. was technically the babysitter, at fifteen. So, she agreed. "There's a phone by the kitchen table. Look for the maid's phone number, there should be a little book. If not there, maybe on speed dial." D.J. plucked her off Stephanie's lap; Sam seemed happy to be out of timeout, yet disappointed that the cuddle had ended, "Now, Sam, will you stay there, or do I have to sit with...ow. That answers that," D.J. finished. Sam had stepped on her foot while trying to flee. D.J. corralled her and sat her in the corner on her lap herself. "All right, now listen, you are expected to be good. If you obey from now on, you get to choose what's for supper," she said cheerfully.

"I'm having cookies."

"Let me rephrase that," D.J. corrected herself, sounding firmer. "I will cook you something good. You may choose what I make if you behave."

"I said I'm having cookies!"

D.J. told herself, "One battle at a time," as Stephanie announced she'd found the maid listed on the phone's speed dial and was calling her. She asked what she should say.

D.J. took the cordless phone and introduced herself, ad libbing as best she could about the situation.

Half an hour later, Kimmy showed up at the door, having been dropped off by her mom. "Hey, Deej, I hear I'm your cover for why you're babysitting," she remarked, thinking it completely normal.

"Just a minute," D.J. said, holding her hand over the speaker for a moment before turning her attention back to the phone. "Yes," she spoke into the cordless phone, "Mrs. Burke, my name's D.J. Tanner. Your maid gave us your cell number. Listen, we found your little girl, Sam, wandering alone at the Greek-American festival, and brought her back to your house so she'd have someone to watch her."

Kimmy walked toward the kitchen. Stephanie heaved a huge sigh as Sam ate a bowl of macaroni and cheese with very bad table manners. "Was she raised by wolves?" Kimmy asked.

"Kimmy, please, I'm having enough trouble trying to have an intelligent conversation with Sam, without you reducing the total brain power of this room by coming into it."

"What did I do?" Kimmy asked, confused by what Stephanie had said. The insult had been partly aided by D.J. explaining a joke to Stephanie about someone else - Kathy Santoni, who had little common sense when it came to dating the right boys. Stephanie was verbose and smart enough, though, she might have even come up with it on her own.

"Okay, thanks, bye," D.J. said as she walked into the kitchen. She turned off the phone. "Here's the scoop - Sam got kicked out of her daycare for behavior problems in August, she's been a latchkey kid for over 2 months now because her parents haven't been able to find someone to take her. I guess her reputation's preceded her. Anyway, they said we could watch her. I gave Dad's name, so he can pick her up after school tomorrow." She planned to call Danny right away.

"What if I don't want to go over there?!"

Stephanie hugged her. In the short time they'd been together, she'd begun to feel sorry for the little girl. "Sam, we want you, we like having you around." Sam looked very skeptical, considering how few others had liked her, and how badly she'd been behaving, which had resulted in a couple timeouts and D.J. yelling at her once. "Look at Kimmy. I insulted her because I don't want her around. If I didn't want you around I'd tell you. And, I really do want you around so we can care for you," she said compassionately. Sam finally agreed.

"So, wait - why am I here?" Kimmy asked. Stephanie said "comic relief."

D.J. explained. "Well, Joey made that up as a way to convince me it would be possible to stay. However, once we found the maid's number, I figured I could get the mom's work number from the maid. I did, and so I called the mom's cell phone - she said the mom might be willing to talk for a minute, though the dad would be too busy for that. Except that it took Steph and me half an hour off and on to get through, during which time I also made Sam some dinner, so it worked out that you came anyway, even though I would have just told them when they got home what I just told them over the phone."

Kimmy got one of her confused looks, and said, "I don't know what you just said, but I'm glad I could help." D.J. shook her head and called Danny.

D.J. suspected there could still be problems, and she was right. Sam had missed the school bus a number of times and simply stayed home, since there was no provider to get her to school. Danny learned this - and that the parents were almost never accessible - when he called Lime Street Elementary and identified himself as the person who would pick up Sam.

Then there were those behavior problems. Joey was run ragged the next few days trying to keep her entertained, despite how good he was with kids and with comedy. D.J. had again begun to spend too much time with Steve, though she was budgeting her time and prioritizing a little better at first, out of a desire to care for Melina.

Almost a week after D.J. and Stephanie had found her, Danny had begun to let D.J. spend time with Steve again, after forbidding it for a while. His girlfriend, Vicki, had stayed to help a little bit. And, Joey received a sad phone call. It was from Sam's parents' lawyer.

He sighed, then took the note to Danny, who was just coming in from work. The girls were at school, and Jesse and Becky were talking at their home a couple doors down.

"Danny, that was a lawyer who just called. It seems Sam's parents leaving a five-year-old home alone, and enrolling her in school and not bothering to make sure she got there, plus how they've ignored her behavior otherwise, could be really embarrassing for his clients, especially in their social circles, considering how wealthy they are." Had she been at the other daycare, and had Stephanie helping her, she would have improved her first few months, but there were no signs of improvement at all at Lim Street Elementary.

Danny wondered what they planned to do.

"Well, for right now, they plan to let us watch her full time, and they're calling around to see what members of the family would take Sam in; he said he's searching the family archives and hopes to find one with similar aged children somewhere in the United States."

Danny was aghast. "Somewhere in the United States? Joey, that guy makes it sound like they're trying to place a puppy for adoption, not a human being!"

"I know. The lawyer was a lot more sympathetic; he said they told him to just find someone. He's going to call us with a name, so we can talk back and forth, and he's advised his clients to let us take Sam in for the next couple weeks, since they're so busy with work they haven't spent any time with her."

Danny sighed. "So, does she change schools, do I have to take her every morning to that school, will I have to go in for parent-teacher conferences? Do I want to? Joey, you got almost zero information about this situation. I mean, what if the only member of the family this lawyer finds is some guy serving twenty years in prison somewhere?"

"Relax, Danny," Joey said, aware of how Danny could ramble when excited. "The lawyer says he's going to make sure the person is reputable. He's stopping by to drop off Sam's stuff, and I'm supposed to call the school and say when we'll get Sam."


"Let's see..." As if Danny couldn't be any more stunned by this turn of events, the doorbell rang. "Oh, that's probably him, now." Danny's eyes grew wide as Joey walked to the door. "He was calling from his car."

"Joey, this is...Hi," he said as Joey opened the door. "I'm Danny Tanner, host of 'Wake Up, San Francisco.'"

"Yes, I watch quite often before work. There's some toys and things in the car, and my wife is bringing stuff in our minivan. At least you'll have the space to put it all."

"Yes, yes we will." Danny was in shock - somebody would simply be moving in for a few weeks, with him having no idea who she'd end up with. "I mean, we're not in any worse a situation right now than an emergency foster family, I guess," he rambled as the lawyer left, then came back. "I mean, this keeps Sam out of the system and with people who have known her for, oh, about six days, instead of total strangers."

"We can provide compensation if you like," the lawyer said.

Before Danny could think, Joey asked, "How much?"

"Joey, that's not important right now. What's important is...oh my, how are we going to break this to her? Or to the girls?" Suddenly, his mind swirled with a whole new set of problems.

"Well, Mr. Tanner, it sounds like Sam would be best served to hear only that there's a family that wants her very badly - which I'm sure they will, to avoid the embarrassment but also because that family will want to care for Sam. I may have found a lead, in fact, in Chicago, but I want to make sure. Not that I'm saying anything against my clients, but I did advise them that this was the best course of action, rather than let the state have to take Sam away from them, considering their neglect after the daycare stopped allowing Sam to go there."

"Yes, yes, I see..." Danny stared as the attorney's wife began bringing things in, as well, He directed them to the basement, and tried to figure out what to do next.

The following evening, a Friday, Danny got a call from the man whose name the lawyer had given him a few hours earlier. Melina was spending the night with Michelle, and Sam was in with D.J., who took her into her room on the condition that she could learn to budget her time better and thus get more time with Steve after this was over.

D.J. was being thrown into babysitting Sam full force, though. She was the one to whom Sam bonded the best in the last week. What they'd told Sam had helped - Sam had begun to feel unwanted, and she was glad somebody wanted her - but she still needed lots of TLC, and lots of timeouts.

" this Danny Tanner?" It was. "This is Kevin Burke, I was given your name..."

"Oh, yes, Sam's new dad. Look, I understand this is very short notice for you..."

"...Mr. Tanner, first, let me say this could not have come at a more difficult time. I mean, we'll do it, but...well, my wife has cancer."

Danny threw up a hand. "This week is going from bad to worse. Just a minute." He picked up the cordless phone, got a dustcloth out, and began cleaning, explaining what he was doing. "It's one of the ways I cope with bad news. Or, sometimes just with bad old news, or just plain loneliness."

"Yes, well, there is some good news. She's undergoing treatments, and the cancer is getting better; we should be able to fly out next weekend and see you. If she doesn't feel up to it, our twin six-year-old girls can still come with me. When you're a university professor you tend to need to squeeze a lot of things into a little bit of time, and I figured out how we can do that."

"Mr. Burke...or should I call you professor?" Kevin was fine. "Kevin, you clearly haven't heard about Sam's behavior."

Kevin was quite curious. "No, what about it?"

"It's not good. Have you ever read Calvin and Hobbes in the comics?"

It was Kevin's turn to feel light-headed. "That bad?'

"Almost. My advice, if you can afford it, would be to hire a nanny. Especially, if, well..." he sighed, and became very solemn. "I lost my wife to a drunk driver over five years ago. I know you don't want to think about that, but, Sam's going to need someone with a lot energy, as well as stability. More so than most."

"I see. Oh, I-I understand. I get kind of anxious thinking about that myself. I mean, let's face it, Danny, I'd throw myself into fatherhood, and I think I'd do a fine job. I've tried to prepare myself for this a little, but still..." He gulped loudly. "I can see where a nanny might be useful. I mean, the girls, if, well, you know, they wouldn't need a nurturer nearly as much as someone younger would, and from what the lawyer said on his message..."

Danny couldn't help but chuckle. "You know, Kevin, my brother-in-law and best friend moved in to help me raise my three girls, and they often tease me about how I ramble. Next weekend when you come, they're likely to pit us in some sort of contest to see who can ramble the longest, who can stay the longest on one subject, and so on."

"It's amazing how some people get their jollies, isn't it? So, can I talk to Sam?"

"Sure, I'll go up to D.J.'s room, she's likely up there." Danny talked about the Tanner household as he walked. "Sam, honey, it's the man we told you about who will be taking care of you," he said, trying to sound super tender, as he had with Stephanie a few times after Pam died. He handed her the phone.

"Hi. Do you have lots of cookies?"

"Well..." Kevin wasn't sure how to answer that.

"Get some. They said I couldn't have any 'cause I was mean to people today," Sam complained.

"Well...that sounds like a good rule," Kevin noted.

"Then who needs you?!"

Kevin was shocked, he could tell Sam had started to stomp away, then he heard a "how rude" - from Stephanie, it would turn out - then a low voice that turned out to be D.J. lightly scolding Sam.

Finally Sam got back on the line. "I'm sorry. I look forward to meeting you." She turned to D.J.. "Did that sound right?"

"It was perfect," D.J. said, with all the girls giving her incredible amounts of praise.

This is going to be a tough one, Kevin told himself. Back on with Danny, he said, "Now I know what I'm up against. I'll need to find someone with incredible patience, determination, love, compassion, understanding, everything."

"Good luck."

"Thanks, I'll need it."

The Burkes called several times in the next week to talk to Sam - she got to talk to everyone in the family. She was starting to like the people, and was truly looking forward to meeting them.

However, by Wednesday, Sam's behavior had gotten worse. She'd bonded with D.J. and trusted her completely. Unfortunately, this caused Sam to push many limits, especially D.J.'s. Sam's parents had done very little, but the maid had done enough to cement in Sam's conscience that it was possible to bond with someone and being told "no" still meant that that bond remained.

However, she was stuck in the "terrible twos," as that's when she was much more mobile and the maid stopped having time or energy to watch her the few times she was there. On the other hand, while at that stage as far as bonding with a mother figure - D.J. - was concerned, she was able to comprehend much more and do as much as any other child of five and a half in other things.

The family had taken away her TV, sweets, and other privileges, but she continued to refuse to behave. D.J. had even discussed spanking with her, though she'd never hurt anyone's bottom, just their feelings. She knew the notion was scary enough when she'd mentioned it to Michelle, since nobody else in the family would ever consider it. She hoped it would be for Sam.

However, Sam kept acting really rebellious and defiant. Finally, she was sent to her room late that afternoon, with D.J. trying to hold her down in the corner in her room. Sam got up and ran out of the room.

Michelle and Melina could tell from D.J.'s look that Sam was in big trouble as they walked in. "You're really going to have to put your foot down, huh?" Michelle said.

From D.J.'s sad sigh, Melina could tell, "I don't think that's the part Sam has to worry about coming down."

Both girls gave D.J. pleading, puppy dog looks. "I don't want to see someone get hurt," Michelle whined.

Melina begged her, "Please D.J., talk to her some more. I'm sure she'll be good."

"I know how you feel," D.J. assured them. "I've been trying to get her to listen and talk with her a lot. I don't like the thought of doing this at all. But, she pinched Nicky hard when playing with Nicky and Alex, wouldn't share before, and wouldn't apologize. She kept knocking them over to get at their toys. Then when we brought her up here, she acted very rude to me and kept fighting me before finally leaving that chair." D.J. shook her head. "I've tried to think of every last possibility. I'm going to get her, try putting her in the corner one last time, and if that doesn't work..." D.J. sniffled a little. It wasn't nearly as emotional as if it were a family member; she'd be crying for a while if she did it to someone close to her. Still, just thinking of doing it to Sam, whom she'd bonded quite a bit with in her time as a sitter, was rough. D.J. always wanted to be the best, but in trying hard to do that, she also realized that she needed to needed to get her to behave, too, whatever it took. Danny was too organized and totally unsure how to handle such a rebel, and Joey just too childlike himself to really enforce any limits, so it had fallen to D.J. to discipline Sam.

Michelle walked away slowly, her hands in her pockets, trying to figure out something else to say to convince D.J. not to do it. Melina stayed behind. "You'll be nice and gentle like you told me you would as a last resort? Right?" she begged. Melina remembered D.J. telling her about a time when Michelle was just past four, and was still a bit out of Danny's control even after he'd started punishing - Michelle did things like dive into sweets even though he was there, or sneak sweets upstairs when she knew she shouldn't. Then, D.J. had invented a story about two bad princesses who were doing just like Michelle, not listening when sent to timeout, being extra rude, and so on. One started being very good, and if she did something wrong she went to timeout like she was told, but she almost never needed timeouts. She was praised big time for being so good. The other princess got worse, D.J. said, till one day, Queen D.J. had run out of things to do,a nd had given that really bad princess a spanking.

Michelle had been shocked. It hadn't been imminent, but the scare tactic had worked; just like D.J.'s scare tactic of "something happening" when Stephanie was snooping once. She just knew she had to be a lot more concrete with Michelle; she couldn't just scare Michelle and not have anything to fall back on like she could with Stephanie. She had to react like a mom with Michelle sometimes, not with Stephanie.

She'd only mentioned it one other time, a little over a month ago when Michelle was out of control for Danny. Again, it hadn't been imminent, but Michelle was still embarrassed, and didn't realize how gentle D.J. would have been. Melina had been told, when D.J. was telling about the family, and how Melina needed to help her help Michelle to behave.

D.J. promised Melina she'd be just as tender with Sam, placing an arm around Melina. "And, I hope it works," she said finally.

It did. D.J. corralled Sam, and took her up to the chair in the corner again. When she wouldn't go, D.J. put Sam across her knees and began giving light slaps. Though they didn't hurt, they tingled for a second, and scared Sam a little. She was bawling by the time D.J. was done - and, D.J. felt pretty sad herself. She hated even seeing someone's feelings hurt. However, she knew Sam had to think about how hurting others was wrong, and the mercy that D.J. had shown. She may be in the Terrible Twos, D.J. told herself, but she still should have been able to understand all D.J. and the others had said about how important it is to listen and how bad it feels to hurt others.

She made a point to tell Sam that Nicky had felt worse when Sam pinched him like she did, because she hurt his body, whereas D.J. had only hurt her feelings.

Melina was greatly saddened. She could tell Sam was crying a lot as she listened outside the door. She went and told Michelle what happened. When they entered, they saw D.J. sniffling, and Sam having gone from bawling to just light crying in D.J.'s lap.

Michelle quickly sat beside Sam and started hugging her, too; Melina copied. Seeing this reinforced for Michelle that she wouldn't dare want to push D.J. beyond a certain point. Michelle was glad she'd always been taught to listen to her, even if Danny was so lax. And, that included listening to Danny because D.J. said to.

"Did you really have to hurt her?" Michelle asked tenderly, afraid D.J. might have made it sting a little.

"I only did as much as I had to to get through to her heart; no more," D.J. assured her.

Michelle thought for a minute. " could have done it real light to her?" she asked hopefully. While D.J. pondered what to say, Melina said she had. D.J. concurred; she hadn't hurt anything but Sam's feelings. After another minute, Michelle said lowly, "That would work for me, too."

D.J. put an arm around her and smiled. "I know it would; I'm so glad we'll never have to find out." Michelle quickly agreed - she would never push D.J. that far. She was embarrassed at the times she didn't listen at all.

This was the only time Sam needed spanked; thankfully she knew D.J. loved her even while doing that. Her bottom hadn't hurt, but her feelings were a lot more hurt than most might have been because she'd been denied love and closeness for so long.

She quickly went downstairs where Steve and Stephanie were playing with Nicky and Alex, and apologized to them for how she'd been acting. D.J. promised that when Danny and Joey got home, she wouldn't tell - she didn't want to embarrass Sam more.

Sam's behavior improved rather quickly, though she still got a good number of timeouts, she always stayed and obeyed rather well. She was kind of disappointed to think she'd have to leave Michelle and Melina - but they kept reminding her she'd be getting two real sisters who could dote on her even more.

That Saturday, Kevin Burke came with his girls, Mary-Kate and Ashley, each six. They quickly ran out into the backyard of the Tanner home to play with Michelle, Melina, Sam, and Jesse and Joey, who were discussing their radio show while watching the kids.

Once Kevin had met Sam and talked with her for a few minutes, he, Danny, and Jesse walked back into the living room to talk.

"It's great to finally meet you," Danny said as they sat. "I know you'll be a great father for Sam; I hope you don't mind, I took the liberty to do my own calls, just as a background check, on you. I tend to be rather protective."

"Oh, no, that's quite all right," Kevin assured him. "I understand completely. I'd have done the same thing."

Jesse looked oddly at Danny. "I don't know what's worse, the fact you've done a full background check on the guy, or the fact he thinks it's normal."

"Anyway, I'm sorry my wife didn't feel up to the trip, but she is making some final interviews for the nanny position back home," Kevin informed Danny. Turning to Jesse, he said, "I understand Melina is adopted."

"Yeah, it was part of her dad's will; my cousin, over in Greece. She's adapting pretty well, but it takes time."

"I'm sure I'll be able to use your expertise quite a bit," he said as D.J., Kimmy, Steve, and Stephanie returned from an afternoon at the mall.

Danny introduced everyone as the men stood, referring to Kevin as "the professor."

"Professor, huh? Did you come out on a plane made with coconuts?" Kimmy asked, referring to how the professor on Gilligan's Island made inventions out of coconuts.

D.J. explained, "Kimmy, this is Professor Burke, he and his family are here to meet Sam, then in a short while they'll take her back to Chicago to adopt her."

"Oh yeah, I've heard about people doing that with international adoptions," Kimmy blurted without thinking of anything but the air travel.

Stephanie's eyes grew wide. "Kimmy, Chicago is in the United States!"

"Really? What about that Emperor Norton guy who said he was emperor of California back in the 1860s?" When D.J. explained that was just an eccentric fellow who was humored because he was so harmless, Kimmy said, "Well, hey, at least I didn't think Chicago was still in the Confederacy."

"Kimmy, Chicago was never..." Stephanie thought for a second. "Well, it wasn't in the Confederacy in our universe. I don't know about Kimmy's," she told the professor.

"Anyway, Professor, give my regards to Gilligan," Kimmy spouted next.

Kevin looked strangely at her, his mouth hanging open as he tried to come to grips with what she'd said. He asked D.J., "She doesn't really think..."

"Hardly ever," Stephanie interrupted.

"I think Professor Burke has had enough of Kimmy for one visit," Danny remarked, "maybe you'd better go upstairs before Professor Burke decides to warn the faculty at every college in the country about what could happen in a few years." The teens left, and Stephanie went out to play with the others.

Kevin collapsed into a chair. "Oh, boy, the thought of her in one of my courses is just..." He shook his head. "I can't even put it into words. And, I've told you how people say I tend to ramble sometimes."

"I've had trouble finding words for years," Danny admitted.

"Well, don't worry, Profesor," Jesse consoled him. "I'm amazed she made it to tenth grade sometimes. I get the feeling she'll be going to night school like I'm starting in a couple days." He explained how he'd dropped out, even faking his graduation. "D.J. and her friend came over to our house a couple doors down to get me to be in a 'stay in school' thing, and they cornered me; I finally had to admit it," he finished lowly.

"Well, the important thing is you're completing it." Kevin held out his hands and said, "Just think, when you're done, you will have completed something you probably thought improbable, if not impossible. And, to embark upon a journey of fulfillment such as that, is to complete a piece of a puzzle that I feel truly defines a human being, to say that they have achieved a level of...what's the word I'm looking for?"

"I don't know, but thanks for convincing me I don't want to try for college after this," Jesse joked.

Danny smiled as the kids and Joey came in from outside. "It's about time to order the pizza," Joey said. He got everyone's orders, and Stephanie sat next to Danny, with Michelle on his lap. Melina climbed into Jesse's, and Mary-Kate and Ashley climbed into Kevin's lap, with Sam deciding on Stephanie's.

"Daddy, you need to go to the lap store," Mary-Kate said.

Kevin was confused. "The lap store?"

"Yeah, so you can get a bigger lap," Ashley explained.

Kevin said, "Aren't they precious," through his laughter.

"They are. You know, I remember the time Stephanie..."

"Wait. Do I have to hear cute stories about me while I'm in the room? Why not tell them about something D.J. did?"

The family talked for a while, with Sam enjoying the company of Kevin and his girls. She was sad to learn that their mother was sick, but happy to know that someone would always be there to care for her when she moved.

The following Saturday, the Chicago Burkes arrived with their new nanny, Lisa. Kevin was amazed at how this cousin he had barely heard of had suddenly changed his life through his neglect. He was excited, though, for a chance to help Sam.

Kimmy was there with Jesse and his family at the Tanner home to say goodbye.

"You'll love Chicago," Danny said sweetly to Sam. "After all it's a city where once you go there, there's a part of you that could be voting there forever," he joked.

"Even after you're dead," Kimmy added on. "You could even vote there before if you like."

"Dead people voting - maybe that's how you got to be sophomore class president, Kimmy," Stephanie speculated.

Kimmy became defensive. "Hey, the students in the assembly weren't dead when I gave my campaign speech; they were just sleeping."

"Which explains why everyone was shocked by your suggestion the other day to change the school mascot to this giant foot that set off stink bombs," Steve said. "It's a good thing people didn't hear about that foot mascot during your speech, or you would have lost."

"Oh, sure," Kimmy said, dismissing Steve's comment. "President Kenndy probably had people saying the same thing after he barely beat Nixon."

Kevin began to say, "First of all, President Kennedy never said anything about mascots. And the thought of a giant foot doing that is just..." then decided to drop it. He didn't see much point in trying to reason with Kimmy; he could see why D.J. had told him the previous weekend that at times, she didn't even know where to begin. "Never mind. Just keep living in your own...whatever."

"We'll miss you, Sam. We really loved having you here," D.J. said as she knelt down and hugged her. "I know you'll be good for everyone in your new family." She agreed.

After they all waved goodbye, Melina said, "I'm glad somebody wanted her."

"We would have, if they didn't. Right, Dad?"

"You're right, sweetheart," Danny said to Stephanie. "I'm really proud of how all you girls helped her while she was here."

Some twenty-one months later, Danny, his girls, and Melina went to Chicago on vacation, while Jesse, Becky, and the younger boys tried to go on tour with Jesse's new band - they figured Melina, almost eight, would have more fun, and with three mouths to feed, Jesse had tried to form a band and go on tour more quickly than he would have otherwise after the Rippers replaced him. Joey was helping them in what would turn out to remind Jesse he really didn't enjoy touring like he used to.

The family had rented a station wagon in Chicago, and after touring for a couple days, Danny and the girls visited the Burkes.

"I'm sorry to hear about your wife, Kevin," Danny said somberly, repeating something he'd said over the phone after getting a note from him saying she'd passed away earlier that summer.

"Well..." Kevin stammered a moment. "In the end it was a blessing; the cancer came back so ferociously. At least the girls got to say goodbye, have some special times at the end." Danny could tell Kevin felt like crying thinking about that, even a couple months later. "Oh, I'm okay, I'm okay. We're making it. We already had Sam - well, now she goes by Samantha - in therapy for some of the neglect she'd been through, I thought it would help a year ago even. We've all had time to talk about it and everything. And, we're managing to make it through. For each other's sake."

"That's the way you have to look at it." Danny asked how Lisa was working out as a nanny.

"Oh, she's been wonderful; it's almost like Samantha's taken the lead helping Mary-Kate and Ashley to become closer to Lisa. I think Samantha hit it off with her faster because she was afraid; after all, when she first came to live with us, we still worried it might...before it went into remission, then came back and..." Kevin decided not to say any more.

Mary-Kate came downstairs. She was planning to ask Lisa to go - or, if the nanny was too busy, their neighbor Mrs. Baker. But, since the Tanners were here, she asked, "Can we go hang out with the Tanners?"

Kevin hemmed and hawed before saying, "Sure, sure you girls do that. Go, have a good time. Just be back for dinner, okay?" It was one of those times when he felt better being alone and thinking about his late wife, not hanging around with everyone. He wanted to finish putting her things in storage, anyway.

Mary-Kate, Ashley, and Samantha each sensed that this would be a good time to do what they'd planned. However, the situation cemented in Mary-Kate's mind that it just wasn't a good idea to let her dad know where she wanted to go. She didn't want to make him any sadder, thinking about his mom.

"Can we please go to the stables?" Mary-Kate told Danny how to get there once they were all in the car.

"She loved to ride horses," Samantha said sadly, kindly rubbing Mary-Kate's back. Samantha, Mary-Kate, and Ashley were in the back seat, Stephanie, Michelle, and Melina were in the middle, and D.J. was in the passenger's seat next to Danny.

"Who did, your mom?" Stephanie asked casually. Mary-Kate nodded. "Bet you had some great times."

Samantha was elated to talk about such happy times. "The first Thanksgiving here was awesome!"

"Samantha couldn't believe how much food we had. Or how everyone talked so much," Ashley explained.

Mary-Kate smiled happily again. "Mom was still getting treatments. But, she felt really well then. She even cooked the whole meal." She'd had to go in for another treatment the next day, but, "They timed it so we'd have a great time with Samantha." Mary-Kate and Ashley each hugged her. Stephanie could imagine herself, Michelle, and Melina doting on Samantha just the same if she'd stayed.

Then again, it seemed like Mary-Kate and Ashley Burke did so even more. That made sense; Samantha would be able to get all the attention in Chicago, she'd have to share it with Nicky, Alex, and even Melina some in San Francisco.

"Then there was Christmas. And snow."

"You loved the snow more than Christmas presents, Samantha," Ashley teased.

Samantha agreed. "I like making snow angels, and building snowmen."

"And the snowball fights. Turn here," Mary-Kate said. Danny did; he'd been watching the signs from the directions the girl had given. "Anyway, Samantha wasn't too big into those till February; she'd had enough of a couple boys teasing her about being from California, though."

"That hasn't been much of a problem, has it?" Melina asked.

Samtnaha shook her head. "Snowballs are great ways to get even."

"This one boy said, 'I can't believe we lost a snowball fight to a bunch of girls!'" Ashley said.

Since she'd never experienced snow, except for the one time Jesse had trucked fake snow in for Christmas, Michelle asked, "How do you win a snowball fight?"

"It's just whoever's the least soaked," Mary-Kate explained.

Melina said, "Having Stephanie as a principal's assistant helped me a lot."

"I think kids in California, even in our district, are much more used to foreign students," Danny said, by way of explanation. "Plus, Melina could teach them all sorts of cool stuff about life in Greece, like the Greek dance she did the first week. There wasn't the teasing you might have experienced," Danny said.

"It sounds like you're starting to talk like a Chicagoan, though," D.J. complimented her.

"Thanks. I think I am, too. Dad says it's easy when you're as young as me, and you hear it all the time," Samantha said. She was used to calling Kevin "Dad" by now, though it had taken a little while; since she'd never really known her biological parents, though, it wasn't that hard.

"Kids who go to, say, England do the same, after a year or so they pick up the accent really fast at your age," Danny said as he turned into the parking lot of the stables.

"Are you in the Honeybees?" Michelle asked as the family got out.

"Brownies," Samantha said. "There's a rivalry. But it's not as big as the Bears and Packers."

Stephanie laughed. "Boy, you really are getting into the Midwestern style of living with that comment."

Yeah. We've gone to quite a few Cubs games, too. We're not far from Wrigley Field. This place is really fun. Our ballpark is right there in a neighborhood!" Samantha exclaimed.

Mary-Kate approached a horse, and began petting it. "Hey, Buddy," she said, calling it by name. "It's me," she said unsure of what to think about the fact her mom wasn't there.

"First time since your mom died?" Mary-Kate told D.J. it was. "I remember my first day back to school, after the funeral, in late May. It just felt so empty."

"I remember our last ride together," Mary-Kate said. "She was already going...she wanted to come out with me one last time." She began weeping. Everyone rushed to hug her. "Thanks; I'm okay. I had to come out here. To see what it was like."

"Finally got up the nerve, huh?" Stephanie asked.

D.J. said, "That first Honeybees meeting was rough, too; all firsts are."

They're birthday was just three weeks after she passed away," Samantha said sadly. "My birthdays were so much fun. I didn't know how to feel."

Stephanie put an arm around her. "Of course they were fun, you had so many people loving you, and you weren't worried about being lonely on your birthdays," she said sympathetically.

"It's been so much fun living here," Samantha said. Still, she wished she could help her new sisters. They'd known their mom a lot longer than she had.

"Do you think your dad will want to come next time?' Melina asked.

", I don't want him to," Mary-Kate said sadly.

"Why not?"

Mary-Kate looked at Michelle and threw up her hands. "You saw how he was today. Thinking about it makes him sad. If he comes out here, he'll think about Mom, and then he'll be really sad again."

"I know how you feel," Danny said. "But, we got through...ick." He stopped, and removed his shoe. "Can someone find a paper towel dispenser, fast?" he asked, hopping on one foot, and holding a shoe with waste from a horse on the bottom of it. "I don't know why they don't keep these barns clean; they should install tile floors in them."

Michelle's eyes grew wide. "Dad, you would put tile floors in a barn?"

"Well...maybe carpet," he said, still hopping as he reached a fence and held on.

"Our dad still has a few...issues when it comes to cleaning," D.J. said politely, using the word her guidance counselor had used once at school when they discussed Danny.

Danny concurred, saying that sometimes he was too crazy about it because of his wife's death. "They still need to clean these places," he said, putting the shoe back on in frustration.

Samantha put an arm around Mary-Kate. "I know it might make him feel sad. But, he'll never get like Mr. Tanner." Ashley concurred - their dad was incredibly organized in some ways, but not like Danny. "Besides, he'll feel happy, too."

"You...think so?" Mary-Kate asked.

"Sure. Just like those first few months were rough living here. But the first few holidays, and my birthday, and lots of other fun stuff happened, too. I was really sad about how lonely I was before I came. I thought about that a lot at first. But, I feel happy because I had people to love me."

"And I like thinking about Greece, too, now. That's how we met you, remember?" Melina asked. "I was happy I could help. And, I feel happy I could teach kids stuff. That helped me fit in pretty fast.

Stephanie knelt beside her. "Mary-Kate, I remember less and less of our mom, but there's one thing I'll never forget. That's how much like her we each are, in some ways. D.J. always wants to be the best. Michelle's got that smile and laugh. And, I'm always getting so excited about stuff."

"Yeah," Samantha said quickly. "That makes sense. Dad probably thinks of her every time he sees you two.'

"I never thought of that."

"I didn't, either," Ashley admitted.

Danny had found a piece of wood and was trying to scrape off his shoe as he spoke. "I'm sure your dad would love to take you riding, Mary-Kate. Because, he'll remember that precious time with your mom, and how precious you girls are to him. Nobody brought a nail file for getting into these little cracks and crevices, did they?"

"Sorry, Dad," D.J. lamented, "I'm afraid you're on your own. How about it, Mary-Kate? Let's go back and invite him to come." She agreed. "Nice job, Samantha. You really do great at helping your sisters."

"Thanks, D.J.."

"It's been hard at times," Ashley said, throwing an arm around her. "But, with all of us working together, we've done a great job."

Samantha grinned. The next day, Kevin and the girls all enjoyed a ride, with Lisa and - that day - the Tanners as well. She'd been right; it was wonderful to know she could be a part of helping her family. Sure, the Tanners had helped her convince Mary-Kate, but she was able to comfort someone else who was hurting. After all the great help they'd provided for her, it was worth it. She hurt, too, at losing their mom, but they continued to work together and grow into a great, loving family just like the Tanners.