Fan Fiction - Written by Doug Fowler - Alternative Season 9

3. Bugged
Written by: Doug Fowler

Season 9, episode 3. Danny's worried something's wrong when Michelle is interviewed for practice by Denise, who considers being a PA like Steph was; Steve starts as Nick's apprentice facing lots of roaches. See profile for other season 9 ones.

A/N: By request of someone wanting to see Denise as PA. Others w/Principal's Assistant idea, are RKORadio's Sam Series, my "Big Shoes to Fill" and a couple others. In "Crushed" in the DVDs, the book I mentioned is on Steph's bookshelf.

Starts arc of Steve helping Nick till "Passing the Torch" when he owns the business (& gets an ad for it in "Hippos..."). Suzie & kids introduced in episode 2, "Same Place, New Faces" & in others, including the finale.

I reference a Full House book that, like a few others, is much more TV Michelle's personality; TV friends easily replace book friends in those. I also reference episodes, including one where it doesn't happen just like we see on TV (Joey had a place ready to take Michelle in the one with the concert, as noted in "Passing the Torch"), to make things more realistic. Her choice in "Some Things Will Never Change" also referenced. Time when Michelle asked who teaches kids right from wrong from "Tough Love," & while it *could* have been a joke given Danny's laxness and how much worse Michelle would have been if someone hadn't stepped in and taught her, I see her not being 100% sure, whereas most children would be by that age. (almost 7)

Only a few of these would be mentioned on air, but I mention others to highlight the *huge* difference between book and TV Michelle and the situations in general - D.J. clearly proactive in books. TV Michelle turns out well, as noted, but she'd mature a bit more slowly. Still, as noted, D.J. is a realisitic mother figure even only reacting, as Dr. Landress fears ("Who's In Charge Here" and others) since Danny never enforced limits before almost age 4 and was lax later.


(Teaser - Scary Costumes - Joey, Suzie, Michelle, Justin, Wendy)

Joey Gladstone, a professional comedian and best friend of Danny Tanner - whose three girls Joey helped raise - sat in the Tanner living room with his girlfriend, a widow named Suzie, and Suzie's children, Justin, 9, and Wendy, 3. As they spoke, Michelle Tanner, who would be nine in a little over a month, walked into the room.

"You kids are a month early to think about Halloween costumes," Suzie told her children.

"If I'm going to be the Tasmanian Devil I need help with my voice," Justin said.

Joey impersonated the Tasmanian Devil. "Like that."

Wendy spouted, "He's not scary. He's funny."

"Well, we shouldn't do the really nasty, scary stuff. Look at all the good things there are to go as; animals, bugs," Joey said.

"I don't know about bugs, Joey," Michelle remarked, entering in an ant costume. "I showed this to Dad, and he about had a heart attack."

Many of the Tanners were in the family kitchen. Michelle took her San Francisco Giants lunchbox from Danny and spoke as they hugged and he pecked her on the check.

"D.J.'s taking me to school before her class." D.J. was a freshman at San Francisco State.

Stephanie, the middle girl, who was thirteen, spoke up. "Isn't this the day Denise interviews you?" Michelle nodded. "That's so cool she's thinking about being a Principal's Assistant and helping kids like I did." She looked fondly at Michelle. "You started something great when you kept calling me a genius."

"Thanks; I know it bugged you when I always sent kids to you for help," Michelle said.

"Actually, the worst part was one classmate made a picture of me with Albert Einstein's head." Stephanie turned to the others. "The mustache was bad enough. He used that one that makes Einstein look like he never had a good hair day in his life. But, yeah, Denise will be a good one She's matured a lot. She thought about being class president, too, but Michelle influenced her."

D.J.'s boyfriend, Steve, was still in the kitchen. "Good thing you were there to come home an hour later to find Michelle still at that Honeybee meeting." He was referring to a time very early in his and D.J.'s relationship when D.J. forgot about getting her.

Danny agreed. "That's right; and, someday you might be class president, too," Danny said. She would be Senior Class President, but would have matured enough to do so in fourth grade with D.J. really proactive instead of just reacting. Then, Denise and the girl who would be fifth grade president next year, Mandy, would have been in opposite roles. "Have a good day; I'll be waiting outside to pick you up. I love you," Danny finished.

"I love you, too, Dad." Michelle left.

Not only Joey, but also Danny's brother-in-law Jesse Katsopolis helped Danny raise his girls. Jesse's wife, Becky, spoke while getting their twin boys, Nicky and Alex, ready for preschool. "Jesse's still at the Smash Club cleaning up after that fire. You'll take and get Nicky and Alex from preschool, Joey?" Joey said "yes."

"I'm just glad you and D.J. have matured enough not to be distracted like that anymore, Steve," Danny said proudly.

Steve agreed. "It's great to be apprenticing with Nick since he started his exterminating business again. I've got a busy day ahead; he says one place might have a huge infestation of bugs."

Danny looked ashen thinking about what Steve had said.

Becky said "Uncle Danny and I have to leave for work" as she hugged and kissed her boys. She and Danny hosted "Wake Up, San Francisco," a local morning television talk show. She waited a moment and said, "Danny, time to go. Danny?"

"Huh? Oh, sorry, I just got distracted by the thought of all those bugs." Danny was a neat freak, and had been much worse of one a few years earlier; part of that was to give him something to do after losing his wife, Pam, in a car accident.

The horn honked. "D.J.'s waiting for me, too. Gotta go. Love ya." Stephanie sped out the door.

"I love you, too." Danny sighed. "Sometimes it seems like we're still as close as we were right after Michelle's horse riding accident, and sometimes..." He grinned as he grabbed his jacket. "Why am I worrying? Michelle just wants to help a friend doing this. I hope." They left.

That day, Michelle and some of her friends were talking on the playground. "You better be a good PA," Aaron teased Denise. "Girls could never kill bugs like Michelle's grandpa."

"Girls are just as good as boys at that," Lisa countered.

"Well, there's a spider," Aaron challenged as he pointed. "Bite that insect's head off."

Derek piped up, "That's not possible; spiders are arachnids. They have eight legs and no thorax."

Teddy referred to Star Trek's very logical, often literal Vulcan by saying to Derek, "Thank you, Mr. Spock." He'd come up with the nickname idea after the family rented Star Trek IV one night. Teddy then told Aaron, "She's right, girls can do anything."

"I can, too," Aaron spouted.

"Yeah, except the stuff you like to do gets you in trouble," Lisa said.

"We'll let you guys settle that," Denise said as she and Michelle entered a small classroom. Denise pulled out a notebook to begin taking notes Denise said, "Thanks for volunteering. I've got a lot to learn. I wouldn't just be helping to encourage kids and trying to mediate disputes. We have to be ready to handle discipline, too. Which means kids like Aaron."

Michelle grinned. "I guess parents should do that, too."

Denise thought Michelle just being funny at first. "You guess?" To her, it was obvious that parents were very important.

Michelle surprised her, though. "I know now. But, a couple years ago I wasn't sure who taught right from wrong." She was referring to a time when Jesse and Becky were having trouble with her cousins, and she asked Danny who normally taught children right from wrong, because she wasn't totally sure. "My dad didn't always enforce rules."

"That's what your Uncle Jesse and Joey are for, right?" Even if Michelle was used to thinking of all three men, Denise knew that to Michelle, they would be "parents."

"They ignore stuff, too. D.J.'s taught me so I listen to all of them," Michelle explained.

Denise then recalled a few things Michelle had told her before. "I guess D.J. makes a little more sense as a mother. And, not just because of those stories Steph told me about her Honeybee slumber party." Both giggled.

Michelle was glad they had non-mother-daughter ones. Denise recalled D.J. telling her how when she was in fifth grade, she liked to refer to one she was going to as her first "real one." However, Michelle noted, "I still wish a bit Teddy would have been my boyfriend last year."

"I heard about that - I was still recovering from having my tonsils out." She's had her tonsils out late in January, and also chicken pox in the fall. "I was sick enough it seemed like we never saw each other. But, why were you in such a hurry? Being a kid is fun," Denise remarked. "And, your family really loves you."

"I know. Sometimes I just feel like I should try harder. Like when my dad went out with this really wild girl's mom," Michelle said, referring to Stephanie's friend Gia, who had improved a lot lately, partly thanks to helping with the family after that accident. "He'd usually never think of going near that kind of trouble."

Denise agreed that, "Adults can be confusing. Sometimes it's best to imitate the one with the least trouble. Like how you decided to be like D.J. instead of your Uncle Jesse. And, you sure don't want to be like that fourth grader who moved in last month with all that leather and a nose ring and stuff." Denise was glad she and Teddy had been able to convince Michelle it was wonderful to be nice instead of trying to imitate her. "I hear she's got some problems, but we're helping her make friends and not have to be so wild, before she really starts to have troubles." Missy, a fifth grader, was the current PA, and through some cases like that had even become interested in a career in psychology someday. She'd already talked with one, Dr. Steiner, about a couple cases.

Denise figured her advice to Michelle would be enough to encourage her. However, Michelle mentioned how she'd really wanted to go to a concern she knew nothing about, even though Joey had already planned to take her to a movie instead; even then, Michelle hadn't wanted anything "childish" so Joey and she went to a dinner theater and production of "Yankee Doodle Dandy," which she'd enjoyed. She also mentioned how she'd never felt comfortable telling anyone about her concerns before the horse jumping contest - she'd have told D.J. if D.J. had been proactive - and her feelings that she'd wanted a boyfriend because she didn't feel satisfied with being a kid.

They talked for a few more minutes before Michelle said matter-of-factly, "I guess I was just worried about fitting in."

The next day, Stephanie, Michelle, and Denise were entering the living room. "You guys did a good job helping with supper; you sure learned from getting your Honeybee cooking badges."

"Except, they don't teach you how to cook with preschoolers bugging you," Michelle noted.

"You figure out how with experience. Oh, Denise, when our dad comes home remember I said he's worried Michelle had a really big problem," Stephanie reminded her. "After Michelle and you talked yesterday, he took her to Chuck E. Cheese."

Michelle added, "Dad insisted we play there for two hours after supper."

"Thanks. Like I said, it's nothing like when you learned about Charles." Denise put her hands on her hips. "They make the incoming PA watch a couple videos about problems like that, and our parents have to sign they watched it with us."

"They have to take precautions. And, it helps you realize there's times you have to get adults involved, while also helping you learn how to discuss things with trusted adults; PAs have to have good families that will help them network with others," Stephanie finished as Danny and Becky arrived home and Danny hugged Michelle. Stephanie added, "D.J. just got back from the library. She's out back with Nicky and Alex."

Becky thanked her and went through the door to the kitchen.

"Thanks for being here during Uncle Jesse and Joey's radio show," Danny said to Stephanie. He told Michelle, "I'm sorry Aunt Becky and I had to tape an interview and have an early dinner meeting, but you and Denise and Steph had lots of fun here, right?" Michelle nodded.

Steve came in then. "Hey, everyone; phew, what a day."

"Steve, check your shoes. Are your clothes okay?" Danny asked as he walked over to him. "You're sure none of those roaches and things could have stayed on you?"

"Hey, don't worry, Mr. Tanner, I took a shower afterward," Steve said. "How did you handle it when Jesse was still working with his dad?"

"It wasn't easy."

"I can imagine. It's sad; there's some apartments with roaches everywhere, and big water bugs get in...oh, sorry, I didn't mean to make you squirm like that, Mr. Tanner," Steve said quickly.

"Oh, it's okay, really." Danny forced a grin. "I have gotten a lot better over the years."

Steve nodded. "Hey, I understand; it's hard on a lot of people when things get that bad. And, if Denise tries for the PA position, she might hear about a kid or two living in one of those places. Oh, I hear D.J.," Steve finished as he went into the kitchen.

"Anyway, about that talk yesterday," Denise began.

Danny interjected. "Right. And, I'm sure it was just a normal practice, right? I mean, we don't have roaches. I checked all over last night. And, you picked a friend whose family had problems, like when Pam died, but otherwise it was a good experience talking with a close friend, right?"

"It started out that way," Denise said.

"What she means," Stephanie interjected, "is that a lot of stuff is normal."

"Yeah. But, going over some answers with the school counselor, they said Michelle almost sounded like a teenager worrying about fitting in and wanting to grow up so fast."

"I told Denise I wanted to be like D.J. when I was Michelle's age, too," Stephanie added hastily before thinking. "Of course, that was just borrowing her clothes or reading her diary. But, I did talk about boys," she added more cheerfully before noting, "But, Michelle's still a year younger than when I first got excited about one. And, I'd be thrilled about Daffy Duck film festivals and always knew I fit in here," she finished gloomily.

"Yeah, Mr. Tanner; the counselor even asked if you'd like Dr. Steiner's number," Denise said, to which Danny sat wearily on the couch.

Danny took Michelle's hands in his. "Honey, I...well you...I don't know what you had to ..."

Stephanie held up a hand. "Denise, you'll need an interpreter here. That stammer means he's not sure if he wants to know what Michelle told you but he's still worried and wants to help."

"I know I pressured...well, I mean, maybe...or I just ..."

"That," Stephanie explained, "means he's thinking about what all he's done wrong but trying hard not to blame himself for everything."

"I mean, I'm sure it wasn' didn't...I mean..." Danny wiped his forehead with a handkerchief, then grabbed the TV Guide and began dusting it as Stephanei spoke.

Stephanie told Denise, "That needs a quick answer - it means he's worried there might have been something the police need to know about."

"Don't worry, Mr. Tanner, it was nothing like that! Believe me!" Denise pledged honestly.

"Oh, thanks Heavens," Danny remarked as Becky returned and Joey came in through the kitchen as well, having come home from doing the "Rush Hour Renegades"; Jesse remained behind talking to the twins, D.J., and Steve.

Stephanie's look suggested Denise should learn from experience here. "From what Denise said, Dad, we're not talking about lots of work. It's like after the earthquake, when I needed help to express my fears. And, Michele may not even need that, Dad. Dr. Steiner is just an idea to find ways to help Michelle talk and feel a little more confident."

Becky concurred. "People shouldn't rush to an 'expert' all the time. Their books help; the author of one came on our show, and Steph really used her book as a PA," Becky said of "Self Esteem: A Classroom Affair," which had been on Stephanie's bookshelf in fourth grade. "But, family can talk and work things out on their own, except in very rare cases; because families know each other better than anyone, and everyone's a little different."

"I guess I have had problems," Danny mourned. "Pam never would have let things get this bad."

"I can tell you're thinking about Mom. For one thing, that TV Guide will never get any cleaner," Michelle said bluntly.

Denise sat next to him. "Stephanie told me how you were depressed and didn't clean at all at first, and then cleaned like a maniac."

"Well, of course I want to clean this cover; look how scruffy his beard is." Danny tried to joke.

"It's okay if you want to cry, Mr. Tanner," Denise offered in a compassionate voice.

"That's right, Dad," Michelle said. "Losing Mom hurt a lot."

Danny invited Michelle to sit on his lap, which she did as he spoke. "It did. We almost always talk about things and admit our problems and work them out. Maybe I've grown so used to putting aside the pain of losing Pam, I taught you to do it, too. I'm sorry."

"And, I'm sure the school can give us ideas to encourage Michelle on our own," Joey said.

"You're right. I just want everything to be so perfect for all you girls. I guess we gave you more than you bargained for in your first practice, huh, Denise?" Danny said.

Denise nodded. "I've got plenty of time to practice before this school year ends. This was supposed to just help me see how to learn about someone."

"What were some things Michelle mentioned?" Joey wanted to know.

"You know what I thought was crazy? You all knew Jesse was going to move out when he got married, and for six months nobody told Michelle anything," Denise said, hands on her hips.

"You still remember that?" Danny muttered, "I guess it was a shock; you had no way of knowing, you were so little. I guess I was in denial. Just like I wasn't enforcing limits. I mean, sometimes I did just sort of act, hoping...I don't know, maybe I was still grieving..."

"Danny, I think Michelle wants to say something," Becky pointed out.

"I told Denise about you and Gia's mom, too," Michelle remarked.

Danny interrupted again. "I know, and we talked about that, how if I did let someone into our family, I'd make sure she followed all the rules, even Gia. And, I'll never let anyone into the family unless I'm sure everyone's comfortable with them."

Michelle turned and gazed at him. "You said it was only your second date. But you knew all about Uncle Jesse moving out for six months, how was I supposed to know you weren't getting married," Michelle complained. She hugged Danny tightly, and the two shared a tender embrace. Stephanie sat beside them and put a tender hand on Michelle's back.

"So, that's where your uncertainty comes from; knowing you dad didn't tell you about a major change he knew about for six months," Becky said softly.

"I remember telling Jesse to explain himself about moving out, and how it wasn't like a divorce and it wasn't anyone's fault and he still loved you. I said that because I remember how confusing my parents' divorce was even when I was older. So, he told you, but you were asleep, and he didn't mention it anymore," Joey explained. "I never dreamed Danny hadn't told you till it was too late; Jesse leaving was a huge shock when you should have been prepared for six months."

Stephanie agreed. "I don't think any of us realized Dad was grieving so much that he wouldn't." She chuckled. "The way I love to talk, Dad, all you had to do that summer or fall or early winter was say you had trouble and I'd have made sure she understood."

"I'm sorry, Princess," Danny said. Breathing deeply, Danny looked her in the eye. "I hoped your Uncle Jesse and Joey would replace your mom more than I thought I did; I hoped they'd tell you things I should have, as your dad. D.J. could have, but when she wasn't proactive ...I feel like I failed you. And, worse, I feel like I failed your mom; I feel like she trusted me to do a good job and I didn't," Danny finished very solemnly.

Denise looked skeptically at Danny and said, "Are you sure you don't need to have a really good cry over losing your wife?"

"Believe it or not, I'd like to clean the toilets when we're done," Danny said with a grin.

"Oh, I believe it; if those bathrooms have lots of tissues!" Denise said frankly.

Stephanie looked fondly at Danny and said, "Actually, knowing him I think our dad literally does feel like cleaning toilets."

"Well, he uses cleaning to relieve stress and pain," Becky explained. "But, that's usually good advice, Denise. The grieving process lasts longer with some people than others. And, sometimes we have to be told it's okay to let all that grief out."

Stephanie assured him, "We don't think you're a failure, Dad. You've been a great father. And, i it's not like that bothered Michelle all the time, right, Michelle?"

"No; just a few times, once I realized how long you had to know," Michelle confirmed. She wasn't sure how long ago she'd figured that out, but she kenw it was over a year. Jesse moving back in later hadn't helped, either, as she'd still remembered the shock of hearing, and later figured out how long one had to plan for something like that.

Joey agreed. "And, it made you wonder if you had to do more to fit in. See, Danny, it didn't traumatize her; but, it bothered her and we needed to talk. Now I think we just need to make sure Michelle knows none of us will just up and change the whole family on a whim."

"That's right," Danny said. "You should never have to worry about fitting in with your family; we love you unconditionally; no matter what. We want you to feel like talking with us; and, I'll do a better job talking with rather than talking at, too, like when I just kept reassuring you I'd make sure everyone was comfortable instead of listening...sorry, I'm rambling, huh?. Anyway, you don't need to try to have a boyfriend, or look like Gia, or anything else. We'll always love you. We want to help you mature into a wonderful lady someday. But, we'll always love you no matter what happens, because you're you. And, that's never going to change."

"I love you, Dad," Michelle said as they hugged again.

The next day, a Saturday, Denise and Michelle came down around lunch to find Stephanie in the living room with Joey and Suzie.

"Hey; Denise; quite a day yesterday, huh?" Stephanie asked. As Denise came up to her, she went further. "Still want to learn to be a PA?"

"You bet," Denise responded. "Everyone has a few little problems. But, my family's great, and I'm friends with one of the best, too."

"Sure; we've always communicated well; and we get through problems well. Joey was always great at helping if Dad got anxious about friends or something," Stephanie told Suzie.

Suzie smiled at Joey. "That's one thing Justin says reminds him of his dad."

"That's sad Wendy won't remember her dad," Michelle remarked as Justin, Wendy, and the twins came in with Danny and Becky.

"That's one other way I help, we talk about him," Joey said. "Sure, I like to have fun and be silly. But, I know there's a time to be serious, too."

"Daddy'd say 'How come I never hear that?'" Alex said.

"He'd say it's real short. Like 2 AM on Tuesdays," Nicky added.

"Daddy and Uncle Joey love to tease each other in good fun, don't they?" Becky asked. The boys nodded as Becky continued. "D.J.'s planning special time with you on purpose now, Michelle; and the guys and I and even D.J. when she has time can take you to soccer."

"Especially if I make the travelling All-Star Team this winter," Michelle said excitedly. She then added, "But, don't worry. I know you love me even if I don't." After a pause, she said, "I really want to go for it, though."

Suzie said, "It's important to have something to strive for. Like Joey told us about the 'Tonight Show.' Even if he didn't make that, he's still had a great career."

Wendy said proudly, "You can do it." Joey gave her a thankful smile.

"But, no matter what happens," Danny said as he picked Michelle up and held her, "I want you to know we'll never keep anything from you that you need to know. If someone plans to move out, or something else changes, you'll know right away. You're part of the family. And, if I slip into a bad habit because I'm grieving, now we've made sure I have lots of backup."

"And, if something unexpected should happen, like with your mom or Suzie's husband, we'll all stick together and help each other through it," Joey promised.

"When Dad told me he was sick, I burst into tears," Justin revealed. "They thought it could get better; not knowing what would happen was hard. But, we had good times before the end. It's nice knowing he'd trusted Jesus as his Savior, so he knew he was going to Heaven. But back then, I just wanted to learn everything about what he had. Even if it was hard to understand."

"I know you've thought about becoming a doctor," Joey noted. He nodded.

"There's times I keep asking why," Suzie said, "just like you probably do, Mr. Tanner. But, I just tell myself there are problems all over this world, and there's a better one waiting for anyone to receive by faith. Because we mourn, but we don't mourn like those who have no hope."

Steve entered the door at that moment. "Hey, everyone. We just checked and the infestation is finally over where we've been working. I'm tempted to hope I never see another roach as long as I live," he proclaimed tiredly.

"Sorry, Steve. Suzie said there are problems all over. That must include bugs," Michelle said.

"Oh, don't worry; I'll be fine with a nice, big meal or four. It really is a nice job; I'm still really new, but Nick says I'm learning a lot right away. He thinks I'll do really well."

"I knew you could; we're proud of you, Steve," Danny said warmly.

"Your Uncle Jesse's waiting to take me home," Densie said after glancing at her watch. She picked up her overnight bag from the previous night's sleepover as Danny sat with Michelle. "Thanks again for letting me sleep over with Michelle. My work is done here."

Stephanie patted Denise on the shoulder. "It was really good work, too," she said as Denise left.

"Yeah, thanks...well, I guess it's just like how you started, huh, Steph," Danny quipped.

"Mommy, why do they call it a sleepover?" Nicky asked.

"Daddy says kids never sleep then," Alex added.

Becky chuckled. "That's a question that just doesn't have a good answer."

"But, even if it's hard to figure out how to answer," Danny advised Michelle, "if you ever have any questions or concerns or worries, you can feel comfortable talking to me. And, if you feel like you'd rather talk to D.J. or someone else, you can, too."

"Okay. Are you dating anyone now?" Michelle asked.

"Not right now. I guess just dating without being like Joey and Suzie and doing things as friends first to see if you like each other is a little backwards, and confusing when you see what seems like a really sudden change. That's why Suzie wanted it the way she did, to make sure her kids were comfortable. But, that's why we want you to ask questions. So we can help you understand things; and, we can step back and think, too," Danny remarked.

"Okay. And don't worry. I'll always ask someone. I'm sure Steph isn't the only genius here. You're a great Dad, too," she affirmed. Danny said "thanks," and they hugged.