Fan Fiction - Written by Doug Fowler - Alternative Season 9

5. Thank You For Being A Friend
Written by: Doug Fowler

A/N: The crazy hat night stuff with the balloons really happened; especially when the kid came to me and wanted to borrow that last balloon, I knew I had to put it in a story somewhere. It was part of a script on a site no longer in use 8-10 years ago, and is finally up here in a story.

Prayer Stephanie mentions from "Goodbye, Mr. Bear" of course. 9th season ep. w/ones I introduced & without busier performers. See especially "Same Place, New Faces" for explanation. Easy to see how they can be there yet not appear. My story "Missing Her" referenced with will. To air right before Thanksgiving, and meant to explain improvement in Gia, too, for the rest of the series; like Jesse of season 1-3. Steve's story arc referenced, too; one ep. w/Jesse, I'd have Steve starting to work in Nick's company, which he'd take over late in the season.

Thank You For Being a Friend

(Teaser - Blowing Out Candles - Joey, Suzie, Justin, Wendy, Nicky, Alex)

Joey Gladstone looked at his girlfriend, Suzie, in her kitchen, as she pulled cupcakes out of the refrigerator. "Everyone's getting the house ready for Nicky and Alex's birthday. We have to entertain them for a while."

"Well, guess what Wendy helped me make." She sat the cupcakes on the counter as the others spoke.

"Candles, please," Nicky said.

Suzie's son Justin, nine, shook his head. "You'll get yours later."

"They can be pretend," Alex informed him.

"Okay, we'll use pretend candles. How many do we want?" Joey asked.

"A billion!" Wendy, Suzie's three-year-old, said happily.

"That wouldn't be a birthday cake; that would be the sun," Justin joked.

"I'm four. He's four," Nicky said.

Joey urged them on. "Right, that's..."

"Forty-four," Alex suggested.

Suzie chuckled. "Hard to argue with that logic."

Stephanie Tanner and her best friend, Gia Mahan were walking downstairs in the Tanner home, Stephanie - thirteen - shared it with eight others: Her dad, Danny; her two sisters, eighteen-year-old D.J. and Michelle, who just turned nine; the men who helped since her mom died, her uncle, Jesse Katsopolis, and her dad's best friend, Joey Gladstone; and, Jesse's wife Becky and their boys, Nicky and Alex, who had just turned four.

"It's weird to see so few people here," Gia said. "Michelle had a party at the stables last Saturday, then your cousins' party was Sunday, right?"

"Right; everyone's just busy right now. It was so confused, all the adults bought balloons for both parties at the same time." The doorbell rang for a second time, and Stephanie opened it. "Hey, Caleb."

"Hey, I heard you had some leftover balloons. This works out great," Caleb said as Joey walked in from the kitchen.

"Why, are you starting a comic strip?" Joey asked. Caleb looked oddly at him. "You know, like thought balloons." Joey picked a balloon off the ground and held it above his head. "Just write 'Hello' on this, and every time you see someone, hold it up."

The teens laughed. "Hey, clever idea; thanks." Caleb turned to Stephanie. "Our church's kids' program is having Crazy Hat Night Wednesday; we try to have special funny nights for the kids at times. I was hoping to use some balloons."

"Hey, sounds like something you'd love, Tanner. Instead of youth group, you can just play around trying to bounce balloons in the air," Gia remarked.

"Come on, Gia. I've been trying to get you to go. Tell you what," Stephanieoffered, "I will do something silly with the kids after our youth group is over, but only if you come to watch and laugh with me," Stephanie dared her.

"I bet that's how Michelle got the most visitors in Vacation Bible School, when she won that five-pound chocolate bar for it once," Gia said.

"She'd have done anything for that. We don't go often, but it's really valuable," Stephanie noted. "I still remember praying to God for Mr. Bear's safe return, that time he was missing. It's helped me calm down since Michelle recovered from her accident. I think you'd really benefit from that faith. But, you have to try first."

Gia finally relented. "Okay, Stephanie. You've been right about so many other things. When I stopped smoking, when I started to be nicer to my mom."

"You're doing great with her, Steph," Joey encouraged her. "Balloons are in my room. Can you stay here till Michelle gets home from tap dancing, in case the others aren't back?" he requested. Stephanie nodded happily. "Thanks, gotta go." He left.

"We'll give you all the balloons you want," Stephanie said, leading them upstairs.

Wednesday, Danny, Suzie, and Steve were talking in the kitchen. "Making out a new will is rough. If it weren't for Jesse and Joey pushing me after Pam died, I might have never gotten around to it." Danny told Suzie. "But, it was easier for me to do it that first fall, since I could name one of them."

"Joey said," Suzie said lowly. "That's why I need your advice. We weren't comfortable with our first wills saying who took care of the kids if both of us died. Their grandparents are all either deceased, or too old to handle it full time. A few aunts and uncles live out of state; and, we reluctantly named one of them. I'm almost tempted to name Joey guardian, if you don't think he'd mind. Or Jesse and Becky, for now."

"I know what you mean. You gotta take care of what you care deeply about. Jesse's dad hasn't passed the exterminating business on to me yet. I'm still an apprentice, though he says I'm doing really well. But, still, I've made some plans. I told someone they can have my black book if I go," Steve said.

"Ex-girlfriends?" Suzie asked.

"No, restaurants."

Danny grinned goofily. "I knew that was coming."

"I have them listed by favorites, and then top five for pizza, burgers, stuff like that," Steve explained.

Becky walked down with Nicky, Alex, Justin, and Wendy. All wore funny hats. "Caleb got a lot of visitors for activities once he started seeing Stephanie," Becky said.

"I just hope nobody tries to kick a ball through mine," Justin said. His looked like a football field, with goalposts affixed to the top. The boys had beanies, with balloons saying "Hi." Wendy had a stuffed animal perched on her head.

"You kids look adorable," Suzie commented.

Nicky pointed to his balloon. "If we write please, do we still hafta say it?"

"Of course," Wendy spouted.

"Gia doesn't always," Alex pointed out.

Becky explained, "Gia never learned the right way about a lot of things. But, we show how to be nice, and care for others. It's just hard, because she has bad habits. That's why we want you boys to have good habits, so it's easier." They nodded and said "okay."

"D.J.'s helping Michelle make a really fancy one right now," Danny said.

"Let's go watch," Wendy said. The other ids followed her back upstairs.

Becky and the others smiled as the children left. "I'm glad we ate early; Jesse and Joey aren't back from their show yet, but we can all talk as adults while D.J. and Steve accompany the kids," Becky remarked.

"Good thinking. We can help Suzie think about her will then, too," Danny said.

"It's a hard thing to think about," Becky said with compassion. "But, for their sake, it needs to be done. You know who will care best for your kids."

Suzie confessed that, "I'd worried because I really didn't know who to choose, and now I've got even more nice people who could do it, in all of you."

"Thanks. And, we wouldn't really mind what you chose," Becky promised.

Stephanie and Gia were chatting in the living room. "Wendy should be happy in Nicky and Alex's department, Michelle and Justin will be together, and D.J. and Steve will be with us in the youth group. D.J. can handle it if Wendy gets lonely, which leaves us free to hang out," Stephanie said.

"And, you can do something silly with balloons." Gia noticed Stephanie's small, plastic grocery bag. "A lot, in fact."

"Well, some are for what Caleb wanted them for. Remember Lisa? You've met her, her mom hosted my Honeybee slumber party." Gia nodded. "Lisa helps keep the kids from being too rowdy on the van her mom drives in the evening." The doorbell rang, and Stephanie went to get it. "They pick up a few kids who might not be able to afford a crazy hat. So, I got more balloons and tape to give them when we get there, just in case." She opened the door, and Caleb was there. "You're here early."

"Yeah. Steph, I kind of need a favor," Caleb reported.

"What is it?"

"Well, Lisa's sick, she's home with her dad. That left her mom without a helper in back of the van. But, I don't know the kids like Lisa. So, I was hoping you could ride along. You can both come if you want; there'll be room," Caleb said. "Oh, there's gonna be a few other absences with the younger kids, Kindergarten through second grade. So, I was kind of hoping you could listen to verses, too."

Stephanie looked apologetically at Gia. "Do you mind? It's not youth group, but, maybe you'll get to see me be even goofier with balloons."

Gia thought for a second, then said, "Why not? I enjoy seeing you make a fool out of yourself. But, I'm not wearing a crazy hat."

"You each have time to get one, and tell your dad, Steph," Caleb said.

Stephanie and Gia walked toward the kitchen. "Come on, Gia, you can wear my uncle's old Elvis wig. That's like a hat."

"But, what if any boys are there?"

"That's where the crazy part comes in; can you imagine a female Elvis?" Gia couldn't.

Stephanie, Gia, and Caleb were in the van with Lisa's mother, another adult helper, and eight children, aged 5-8. "I appreciate you helping. The younger ones listen well, but it can get wild without someone back there," the helper said.

"And this isn't?" Gia asked as a few kids vied for the balloons she and Stephanie were carrying. She had a normal hat on, while Stephanie had borrowed something from Joey's room; it was a moose hat with large antlers like Bullwinkle's.

"Stephanie's ridden my van Sunday mornings a few times," Lisa's mom said, "She knows some of the kids, but not as well."

Stephanie was watching one girl try to tape balloons to her head. "Try threading them through your braids, it won't hurt when you take them off then," she recommended. The girl did this, as the girl's brother was blowing a balloon to near the breaking point. "Yeah, I know a couple of these kids. Although, you better not blow that balloon too much bigger, or the van will start to float," she warned jokingly.

"No, it won't," he protested as he kept blowing. "I don't breathe helium"

"Please, if it pops you might really distract the driver..." Before Stephanie could finish, everyone was startled by a huge "pop!"

(Commercial break)

"Don't worry, Stephanie, I'm used to this," Lisa's mom assured her.

"Still, don't do that again," Stephanie commanded. "Besides, you don't even have a hat to tape them to," Stephanie said.

The boy apologized. "I forgot. Can I use yours?"

"Well...." She frowned a bit as she took it off and gave it to him. "Keep really close track of it. It's very special."

"I will," he promised.

Gia gave Stephanie her hat. "Here, I didn't want a hat, anyway."

"Gia, the point is to have fun," Stephanie remarked as she took the hat. She grinned as she began to tape balloons to it. "Still, now I have something I can tape balloons to."

"Good for you. If you walk around wearing that, I'll consider the promise kept," Gia said.

Joey walked into the kitchen. Danny, Suzie, and Becky were there. "Jesse's putting things together in his studio for your Thanksgiving shows next week," Becky said. Joey and Suzie kissed, and Joey sat, as she continued. "He told me you were having people call in this week and next, to express their thanks to someone special.".

Joey nodded. "Yeah, but he said I'm on my own when it comes to cartoon characters, and what they're thankful for. I'm doing it for all the ones I have voices for."

"That could take years," Danny responded. He smiled sadly as he turned to Suzie. "We were talking about the will. Steph was five when I redid mine. She suggested living in Mr. Rogers' neighborhood if something happened to me. I'm sure the idea is as unreal to Wendy." Suzie nodded. "What about Justin? Does he have any thoughts?"

She thought a second. "I think the idea of losing me, too, scared him too much till recently. He'd be happier here than out of state. We have friends who'd do it, but taking on two is a lot harder than one. Most would have trouble with two, or they're just not as capable of dealing with the grief. That's something to consider. Would they have the patience, knowing what losing both parents would mean? You've been through it, or like you, Becky, you'd have Jesse, and I think you just naturally have the patience to do it."

"Sure. But, one of your friends could rise to the occasion; Jesse was a real rebel before Pam's death, after all," Becky reminded her.

"Right. Of course, they were his nieces." Danny paused a moment. "Then again, you don't change into a family man overnight. Jesse did show a change because of that faith he found, though. He actually had a desire to help, that wasn't there before He'd just pop by on his motorcycle a few times a year and drop off gifts."

Joey recalled. "That time he almost moved out, when he came back he said there were a lot of places in his heart opening up that he never knew were there. But, that's because he obeyed that initial desire to move in and help."

"Right. He still had a lot of rebel in him, but you could see a change. There's a lot to consider naming a guardian. That's why it's important to discuss it," Danny finished.

Meanwhile, in one of the Sunday School rooms, a balloon fell off of Stephanie's hat, leaving two on it. She picked it up, and then spoke to the boys and girls where she, Gia, and Lisa's mom were. "It must be the material; the tape I brought doesn't stick like it does with some other hats."

Lisa's mom looked up from where she was helping a child say a memory verse. "There might be some better tape in the supply room."

"Thanks." Stephanie walked out of the classroom, and met a by of about seven.

"Can I have another balloon, please?" the boy asked.

She looked oddly at the boy, who had no balloons on his. "I've given you four."

"They were for other kids," he explained. "I want one for mine."

"I think a hat with dog ears like yours is silly enough, but sure, here." She shrugged, and handed him the balloon that she was holding.

"Can I have another one, too?"

"You must be a broken record."

"No, this one's for someone else," he explained.

Stephanie shook her head, and took a balloon off her hat, giving it to him. "Why not? I'll have one left." As he left with it, Stephanie went into the room, grabbed the tape, and came back out. However, the balloon that was on her hat fell off, and bounced a way she didn't expect. She tripped over a shoe someone left, fell on the balloon, and popped it.

Gia and some girls had been looking out of the classroom. All started laughing and clapping. "It's okay, Tanner, you're a great sport," Gia declared.

"I'd like to see you try this," Stephanie said with a smirk. "Now, I don't have any more balloons. My hat is no longer crazy." She smiled as she looked at the kids and walked back into the room. "But, we have tape in case anyone needs it. And, I've had fun." She, spied a balloon under the table. "Well, what do you know?"

"It must have been under my chair," one girl said as Stephanie grabbed the balloon.

"Yep. And, now, I have good tape," Stephanie said as she took her hat off, "which means that I can finally tape this balloon to my hat and..." She started laughing.

"What is it?" the girl asked.

"Look." She pointed to a thin strap under the hat, which had been hidden before. "All this time, I was trying to tape balloons that kept falling off. And, there was a strap to put the little ends in the whole time." She put the end of the blown up balloon in under the strap as she spoke. "At least I can attach one balloon to it, which will make it silly." Stephanie put it on her head, with the balloon strapped in, and held out her arms while facing the class. As she finished, the same boy who had borrowed a bunch of others came in behind her. "And now, friends, after an hour of toil and sweat, losing so many balloons, amid so much futility, I have one balloon left. And with it, I finally have a crazy hat..."

"Can I borrow another balloon, please?" the boy asked.

Stephanie burst out laughing this time, and everyone else giggled. "Now, I know why Joey always says 'In comedy, timing is everything,'" Gia announced.

"Here." Stephanie gave the boy the balloon as she snickered. "For you to have this balloon, after all this trouble, is just so fitting."

Later, Steve and Justin walked into the three and four year olds' department. "Hey, Wendy," Justin said as Wendy ran up to them. "Did you have fun?"

"Nicky wore lotsa hats," Wendy declared.

A lady with a hat containing lots of fruit responded. "Nicky wore the most hats at once of anyone," she explained. "Once he moved the balloon."

"Cool!" Justin gave Nicky a high five. "How many did you have on?"

"A gazillion," Nicky joked.

"Or, maybe about ten," Alex said pensively.

"Close enough," Justin said with a laugh as he helped Wendy get a few papers together. "You got your stuff? D.J. said we'd come pick you up," he reminded her.

"She and Michelle are waiting for us. Steph and the others left with the van," Steve reported as Nicky gathered his stuff.

Alex pointed to the lady's hat at the front desk. "Are you gonna share your food with Steve?" he asked the woman.

"That's not real fruit," Steve explained. "If it was, I'd have asked for some by now."

"Then we'd all eat it, and it wouldn't be a crazy hat anymore," the woman joked.

"You'd have an apple core," Nicky pointed out, before they said "thanks" and departed.

Back at the Tanners, in the kitchen, Steve, Justin, and Wendy - who was half asleep on Suzie's lap - were talking with Danny, Becky, and Joey. "Jesse's putting our boys to bed; it looks like Wendy's ready to fall asleep," Becky said.

"Yeah, we better get going. Thanks for taking the time to talk," Suzie told all of them.

"So, did you make a decision?" Steve asked. Joey and Suzie kissed good night, he hugged the kids, and Suzie and the kids left as the conversation continued.

"Yeah, they did," Danny said, letting Suzie be the one to discuss it with her kids.

Joey said, "Jesse and Becky agreed to for now. Then, when we're sure its going to work out, it'll be me," he concluded.

"Justin's really taken a liking to all of us. And, Jesse really has shed that wild image. He's great with the boys. Plus, it's not likely to ever happen," Becky said. "But, it is important to think about. Like we have you for Nicky and Alex," she told Danny.

Danny smiled as Stephanie and Gia came in from the living room. "Right. And, even right after Pam's death, I saw change in him. It just wasn't always very fast. Hey, Steph, how'd it go?" he asked.

"Great. I had some really silly stuff happen with the balloons I was taping to my hat." She handed Joey the Bullwinkle antlers hat. "Thanks, Joey."

"You're welcome. But, why did you tape balloons to it? It was already a funny one," Joey inquired.

"I let one kid borrow it. Gia gave me that plain one. I hope Michelle's still awake, I've got some cool stuff to share," Stephanie said.

"She should be, she just went up to bed," Danny said. "I'll take you home, Gia."

"Thanks; I've got something great to share, too," Gia said. "It's about that faith Steph's got." Gia hesitated a moment. "She'd told me what Jesse went through, when Pam died, and the decision he made. Things made a lot of sense tonight, during the lesson and even just hearing a few memory verses. I realized it's not religion; it's about a relationship with Him, so He can help me. I needed God's forgiveness, how Christ died for my sins and rose again. And, what He did was all that had to be done. I realized it was a free gift, and I chose to repent and receive His forgiveness, and invited Him into my heart."

All grinned broadly as Danny spoke. "That's great. I remember when Steph backed the car into the kitchen; she told you about that." Gia nodded. "She was so amazed she could be forgiven. That unconditional love we've always had, like you're talking about, is the kind Steph really learned about that day."

"And, that I'm so thankful for," Stephanie added. "I still mess up at times; I'm so glad I'm forgiven then. But, there's always part of me that wants to do good, no matter what; even if I don't always listen to it."

"Sure; that unconditional love is why Suzie and her kids love us so much," Joey said.

"It's what I've liked so much about Stephanie." Gia sighed. "I wondered if I was capable of being loved, with all the bitterness around my parents' divorce."

"Those can be really painful," Joey acknowledged.

"I wanted to be like you in some ways, even when we first met," Gia said, talking so only Stephanie could hear. Joey, Danny, Steve, and Becky left quietly. "But, even after you helped me stop smoking, and all that stuff, I didn't want to think about others; or myself. I didn't care about the rules. I need that inner faith. That's what's giving me peace now." Gia made sure to add, "But I'm still kidding you about all that crazy stuff with the balloons at school tmoorrow."

Stephanie laughed. "That's fine. I need to take myself a little less seriously; we all should. Sometimes it's just hard, because I get so excited."

"You're good at that. That first month I went without smoking, you were so thrilled. I hadn't thought once about the fact I'd have to hear Barney songs if I ever lit up." Both smirked. "Now, it's been almost two years. I can't believe how my life's changed "

"That's what friends are for," Stephanie responded with a smile and a hug.

Early the following week, Stephanie came downstairs, where Danny was dusting. "Guess who's helping Michelle understand her homework, Dad."

"George Washington," Danny said with a goofy grin.

Stephanie ignored the joke. "Gia offered to do it. It's a subject she understands, but still, it's a big step," she said.

Danny grinned, and walked over to her. "You've been the kind of example I've always hoped you girls would be. I guess now she'll really be helpful and never rebel. Or is that asking too much?"

"It was even too much to expect of Uncle Jesse at first," Stephanie pointed out.

Danny nodded slowly as Becky came downstairs with a portable radio. "You're right. I guess as a dad, I just hope for so much more."

"She does think differently now. When she decided to stop smoking, and be nicer to others, and stuff, she was agreeing with me. Now, she can tell there's part of her that wasn't there before," Stephanie said. "It's a part that wants to help just because she sees a need. Like with Michelle right now."

"Sure," Becky said, "like when Jesse moved in." She turned the radio on. "He called and said there's something special on their last show before Thanksgiving."

Joey's voice announced, "Here's a special thanks, from Gia Mahan."

"This is for my friend Stephanie," Gia's voice sounded through the radio. "I was a mess when we met. Even she couldn't help me get my grades up enough. I was still headed down the wrong path last year. But, she's been the kind of friend I've needed. She keeps pushing me to improve, and is always there to offer support when I mess up. Last week, I learned about God's love and forgiveness, and I received it. Since then, I've started to put others ahead of me for other reasons. Before, I'd only do it to make myself feel or look better. But, Stephanie was an example long before. I wondered if it paid to care about anyone, after how bitter my parents' divorce was. Stephanie, you've taught me it really can pay. You're what I'm most thankful for this Thanksgiving."

Stephanie wiped a tear from her eye; Danny had his arm around her. "She's right. You really have helped her a lot," Danny remarked.

"She'll be like Jesse was here at first. Not wanting to be mean or really daring, but still not always thinking right away, and still thinking only of herself at times. She'll still have her human nature, just like all of us. Habits can be hard to break." Becky remarked.

"Yeah. Dad...thanks for always supporting me when I tried to help her. I know it was rough sometimes, especially when I forgot I had to be the leader wit her," Stephanie said.

"You're welcome. You're right. I can see a bit of a change the last few days. Just like with Jesse right away" Danny grinned. "Your mom knew more about that. I've struggled with her death, even knowing we'll meet again. But, together, we've made it."

"Right. Like Suzie and her kids," Becky said. "We can all be thankful we've got a wonderful family. And, thanks to you, Steph, Gia's learned the importance of that."

"Right. You really are a great friend," Danny said, beaming. "You make me so proud."

"Thanks, Dad," Stephanie said as they hugged.