Fan Fiction - Written by Doug Fowler - Television Universe

Pushing The Limits
Written by: Doug Fowler

A/N: I had time for a few little stories, so I finished this idea and did another fun little one in the space of a few hours. I don't think I'll have time to even come back here for a good while now, but I wanted to finish and post these before the new year.

How'd Michelle go from totally out of control w/the samples to so good w/the wedding cake in a few months? And that ornery laugh (maybe cut out in reruns) hiding the wedding ring. Plus, she expects Joey to play "hot and cold" to find it even after he knows she hid it? Someone said reviewing "D.J.'s Fourth of July Thanksgiving," where she starts punishing, that it'd be interesting to see "that tush thing." Like most I can't see D.J. having to do it (the point of Danny saying that was that Michelle's heart would always be tender enough not to need it) but possibly something like this could have happened. I hope you enjoy.

This also has a bit about her 5th birthday, because they'd never all leave right away (Danny would to help Jesse) just to wait for hours or even a day's worth of labor (yes it can take that long.) Parts based on the episodes "Ol' Brown Eyes," the start of "Stephanie Gets Framed," a bit of "The Wedding Part 2," and "Happy Birthday Babies, Part 2."

"Michelle," Danny Tanner said softly to his four-year-old "little princess," Michelle. "You know the birthday girl always gets the first piece."

Michelle had been ready to grab some of her sister's cake with a spoon after they sang "Happy Birthday" at the family party for Stephanie. Michelle flashed a big grin at her dad, wanting to see what would happen if she pretended she was the birthday girl. "Hi, I'm Stephanie. How rude."

"That sounded a little like me," Stephanie told their oldest sister, nearly 14-year-old D.J.. Turning to Michelle, she said, "You need to sound more upset, though. How rude!" That time, Stephanie said it on purpose, because Michelle had just swiped a bite. Danny made her sit still on her chair to settle.

"That was a perfect impression of yourself," Kimmy Gibbler said. She was D.J.'s best friend, and often sounded quite dumb or strange.

"How can you do an impression of yourself?" Jesse Katsopolis asked. Danny's best friend - comedian and child-at-heart Joey Gladstone - and Danny's brother-in-law Jesse had moved in three and a half years ago to help Danny when his wife, Pam, died. Jesse was now engaged to Danny's television co-host, Rebecca Donaldson.

"It's pretty easy. Sometimes I'm a little off, though," Kimmy said.

"True. When you're only a little off, you're way off. But when you're way off, it's just like you," Stephanie pointed out. She smiled with glee as Kimmy face held increasing confusion at that comment.

"All right, are you settled down?"

"Yes, Daddy," Michelle told Danny.

D.J. also praised her for settling down. D.J. was the only one to discipline Michelle till she was a month shy of four, because Danny couldn't stand to see her sad, grow up, or anything that would remind him that Pam wasn't here to help with things. Michelle had been a baby when Pam was still here, after all.

Michelle thought it was Danny's turn to be the boss once he started punishing her. But, Danny hadn't lectured and only told her she'd get no bubbles or toys in her bath when she crawled on the table for half a minute gobbling wedding cake samples. She'd even kept gobbling them up after Uncle Jesse asked which kind she liked best.

She'd thought it wasn't too bad for her to shovel them down like an animal, till D.J. heard about it. Her scolding lecture, the time Michelle spent in the corner, and getting no dessert for a few days had taught her just how bad it was to lose control like that. Now, the four-year-old figured D.J. would be in charge of her worst behavior, because D.J. had told her that sometimes Daddy was too sad thinking about something else.

However, here Michelle wasn't out of control. She'd be using a spoon, and simply grabbing the first piece. She grabbed the plate from Stephanie, just as she'd done a cupcake a few days ago, and started running. She wanted to see what Danny would do.

"Oh, no, Michelle. You know better than that! I tried to make you settle down here, now go to your room," Danny commanded, though not very loudly. When Michelle balked, Danny glared. That was unusual for him, so she continued to refuse. She figured he'd just do what he'd done a couple times before, wordlessly carry her, place her on her bed, and leave. Michelle wanted to check, though, because she still vividly remembered when he wouldn't punish at all. She was becoming pretty clear on the rules, but it took time, he'd waited way too long.

She was defiant, that is, till D.J. rose. "Michelle!" she said warningly. Michelle ran up to her room - D.J.'s tone said she had to listen or else - and stayed there as punishment for the normal amount of time, seven minutes - a lot for a kid her age. It had been three just half a year ago. Then, she'd started testing more limits, and even with Danny's first punishment - when it nearly doubled, from 3 to 5 minutes - she kept pushing things. Now, it was seven, and that would be enough for almost a year.

After seven minutes, Danny came and got her out of her punishment. She barely kept control of herself afterward, since she was promised a piece of cake after the others got one if she was good. However, it was mid-January. The need to "be good for Santa" was gone. With that no longer in her mind, she was letting herself go more. Her pediatrician had described this age at a time when they love to "push the envelope." And, she was doing just that.

Michelle felt proud; she was a very big girl. She could dress herself, she was growing taller, she could even count way higher than her preschool classmates. Being a big girl also meant learning lots of new games, like "hot and cold."

It meant figuring out what the rules were, too, and if any of those had changed now that she was older. It could be fun to test Danny and the other guys at times. She could get away with more than she could with D.J.. She'd have been far worse if nobody had ever punished her before Danny started.

Michelle wanted to see what would happen if she hid something really important - like her Uncle Jesse and soon to be Aunt Becky's wedding ring. She picked it up with an ornery grin. "They'll want to find this," she thought out loud with a mischievous laugh. Michelle knew it was wrong, but in a way she couldn't help it. It was hard to keep from doing something if she thought of doing it.

It was also hard to avoid admitting she'd done it. She walked into Stephanie and D.J.'s room to ask who wanted to play "hot and cold." Joey had just asked Stephanie if she knew where the ring went. When he asked Michelle if she knew where the ring was, she said, "You're getting warmer." She grinned anxiously as Joey glared at her when she admitted taking the ring.

"Come on, Michelle, let's go into Jesse's room. We need to have a talk," Joey said with about as much insistence as he ever mustered - usually very little.

"That's Uncle Jesse's job," Michelle commented. Uncle Jesse and she had "famous talks" together often, sometimes concerning her misbehavior. She loved to listen to him - he was so tender and loving. He was her mother figure. "You can't have one of his talks."

"Yeah, well he's not here, so I'm gonna try. Now listen to me, and pay very close attention, so you can tell me how I did, and then listen to me like you would Jesse." That was Joey's way of getting her to pay attention; through play. He wasn't usually very parental, preferring to play and have fun. So, a talk like this was very hard for him.

"Okay." Michelle climbed into his lap beside Jesse's bed.

"Now, we need to talk about the wedding. It's a very important time; everything about it is really special. You know, the stuff we have for it costs a lot of money. You'd have to have a piggy bank as big as this house."

"I don't have even have a piggy bank."

"Exactly." Joey went on to explain how important it was to treat things with respect, and not hide them like she would toys. He talked about how much trouble he'd be in with Jesse for losing the ring. Finally, he talked about how she knew to behave and what was expected of her. He mentioned everything except any trouble she'd be in - he and Jesse never punished her. "So," he finished, "it wasn't very nice to hide that ring. And, you're going to show me where it is. Understand?" She nodded. "So, how'd I do?"

She didn't know exactly what it meant, but knew it was a major step. "You forgot to say 'Capiche.'"

"Oh, silly me. Capiche?"

"Capiche. Now we hug." They embraced. "You did a very good job."

Still concerned about the ring, Joey tiredly said "thank you". As they went downstairs, he insisted she show him where it was. Being used to him playing all the time, she made him play the "hot and cold" game, anyway, in order to find it. He did, without complaining.

D.J. had been busy preparing for a school fundraiser, so hadn't had the chance to hear about, let alone correct, Michelle on taking and hiding the wedding ring that day. Danny hadn't said anything, either. This made Michelle even bolder the next day; as at D.J.'s suggestion, he baked a cake that day, so they could test Michelle a little to see how she handled obeying and self control. It could always be used for a school bake sale Monday.

D.J. was still worried about the wedding cake. Michelle looked sad when someone mentioned what she'd done to the samples, so she knew it was really bad to lose control like that. How she'd acted at Steph's party was like a normal kid would act, or at least a normal kid who was a tad wilder. However, with nobody having done anything about the wedding ring the previous day, D.J. knew Michelle was feeling bolder. And, she was really starting to fret about the wedding cake. D.J. knew how wild their Uncle Jesse had been. If Michelle pulled something like that at the reception...

She hated to imagine it; didn't most parents know their four-year-olds wouldn't dare steal a piece of wedding cake? Yes, but most also knew their kids would have at least a little more self control than Michelle had around the samples. If a child that age grabbed at some,that could happen, but crawling like an animal and doing it like she did? D.J. also figured most knew their kids would tell where a ring they hid was without making the adult play a game to get it.

Stephanie was the one who got really excited, just like their mom. But, D.J. could get overemotional at times, especially because of how Danny ignored things. She walked into her and Stephanie's room with a frown early Saturday evening. "What's wrong, Deej?" Stephanie asked as she looked up from her homework.

"Joey just told me about the wedding ring from yesterday." She explained what Michelle had done. "Dad and I had to scold Michelle for that and put her in timeout, after having battled with her when she snuck a piece of that cake today. She went to her room when Dad sent her, but she was eating from a stash of cookies while in timeout." D.J. plopped onto her bed. "Right now, I am really starting to worry about that wedding cake."

Stephanie walked over to her and sat next her. "What are you going to do?"

"Well, Steph...if it's less than that, just stealing the first piece, I guess I could just take her dessert away for a long while and really yell. If she did that before they even cut it, I guess we could do that and put her in her room for a longer time. But, if she acted anything like she did with the samples..." D.J. shook her head sadly.

"Then what?" she asked worriedly.

D.J. hated the thought herself. "Mom and Dad never considered it with us. I mentioned to Michelle one time that I'd be willing to spank, but when I said that, it was more of a talk about her behavior, and what the result of really bad behavior would be. Not a threat." She put an arm around Stephanie. "I know, you love Michelle as much as I do. Neither of us could stand for anything bad to happen to her. But, that's why we need to teach her to control herself now." Stephanie still looked depressed. "Tell you what. I promise I'll try not to do it right away. And, remember when we were looking through Joey's collection of old comics, and books from them? Remember that one Dennis the Menace one where there were no stars?"


"Joey said it was one of only a few times it ever had Dennis the Menace having been spanked, he's always in the corner instead. The fact there were no stars shows it didn't hurt, since stars are the universal symbol for pain in cartoons, according to Joey." They laughed at how he analyzed them. "How about I promise this; if I ever have to do it to Michelle, I'd try to make sure if this were a cartoon, there would be no stars. Because she's still a Tanner girl, and even if she'd rebel like our Uncle Jesse, she's still going to be very sensitive on the inside. I know I'd never have to do any more than light fwaps." D.J. was very tricky, and sneaky, and could manipulate things herself some, but she usually tried to use it for good.

"Well..." She lowered her head and swung her legs a little, unsure of what to say.

"Come on, Steph. Remember when Uncle Jesse thought I'd been drinking? You not only could tell I didn't do it, you could tell the difference between 'I'm in big trouble' tears and 'I didn't do it' tears. I'm sure if it would happen, both of us could tell the difference between 'I'm a bad girl' tears and 'it hurts' tears. And I promise, I'd make sure she didn't cry any of the 'it hurts' kind," D.J. assured her. She knew it could pinch a little, but her goal was to hurt the feelings, not her body. She just hoped she was making that clear to Stephanie, though the idea was even making D.J. a bit teary.

Stephanie still hated the thought, but supposed she could stomach that. "Pinky swear?" she asked, hoping for a guarantee, as the idea made her a bit anxious.

"Pinky swear. No stars." They wrapped their pinky fingers around each other, and hugged. "Nice thing about being a cartoon would be, we could just pop up out of nowhere to keep an eye on Michelle, huh? Of course, being a cartoon might be embarrassing; my eyes would turn into hearts when I looked at a boy I liked." They started laughing together; D.J.'s plan to keep Stephanie from worrying about that was working.

"Yeah. And every time Kimmy talked; a dunce cap would appear on her head."

D.J. heard Danny and Michelle talking outside Michelle's room; it was around her bath time. She went to talk to Michelle. Michelle was getting cleverer, and wanted to see just how much she could trick people. Michelle was told she could have no cake tonight since she didn't listen, but could tomorrow if she was really good.

Michelle had snuck some earlier. She started eating it in her room while Danny ran the bath water, but D.J. caught her. She began giving her a stern lecture.

"I can't help it," Michelle said with a shrug. "Cake makes me nuts."

"That's why we teach you to control yourself," D.J. scolded. "You'll be in a really fancy wedding in a few weeks. The cake will be a lot fancier, too. And you will have to control yourself around it!"

"I can't wait!" she said, rubbing her hands together a bit too eagerly. Michelle didn't mind that it wouldn't be chocolate; the size was really impressive.

"You've tried to be polite and just sneaky, but even sneaky can be bad, right? Remember those two bad princesses?" She did; that was a story D.J. made up where one started to be good, and the other princess was so bad she got spanked. "You want to be the good princess, right?"

"I'm sorry," she said sincerely, knowing D.J. was right. "I just wanted cake."

"You're sorry now that you've been punished. But, you weren't before. You were very sneaky," she emphasized. "And the power of sneakiness must only be used for good," she quipped. D.J. explained what Joey had earlier, how fancy the wedding would be, and how excited everyone would be. Michelle promised to be good, and went into the bathroom while D.J. stepped into her bedroom and peeked out the door. She'd said the punishment would be that Michelle didn't get any of that cake now.

Michelle told Danny she'd forgotten a bath toy in her room, and went in before getting undressed. It took too long. D.J. crept in as Michelle gave a mischievous laugh, like when she'd hidden the ring, and began to think of what Michelle might do at the wedding.

Michelle had looked around her before D.J. came in. "They just think I can't get a piece. Heh, heh, heh," she laughed mischievously as she shoveled more cake in. She figured she could get by anyone - there was no way D.J. would come back, right?

Suddenly the ornery grin disappeared as Michelle turned around and gulped. D.J. scolded her very sharply. "I'm sorry," Michelle said in a sad voice. "I kept thinking about the wedding cake. I couldn't wait."

"You were told you could not have that as punishment because you wouldn't listen!" D.J. sighed, offering a little prayer that she not get like this at the wedding. She told Danny what Michelle did and that she'd give her a bath. D.J. and she walked into the bathroom while he took the cake down. D.J. turned the water off; the tub was full enough.

"Before you get undressed, we need to talk. That was a test. We have fun and I let you get away with some things, but you have to learn you can't always get what you want," she reprimanded. "I will always catch you, and enforce what I say, like 'no dessert,' right?!"

She nodded slowly, expecting a big lecture. D.J. wanted to emphasize how sad it would be if she ever hurt her feelings; she could never hurt her bottom. She probably wouldn't even "fwap" right away if she dove after the cake, unless she was truly unrepentant - and Michelle would be repentant, it was almost certain. D.J. knew her heart was tender, and besides, Danny had said when D.J. started punishing, since he wouldn't, that the Tanner hearts were always tender enough, she'd never have to go through the bottom to get to one. D.J.'s story would just be descriptive, more of a scare, instead of just a talk about what could happen. And, she would reinforce that if Michelle had run out of privileges, and was still rebelling, that's when D.J. might consider it.

"Remember the really bad princess who ruined a wedding cake?" Michelle nodded. D.J. wiped cake off of her. "She really needed a bath; she had the wonderful cake that was supposed to be for everyone all over her!" Michelle thought about how messy it would be to have a cake all over her. "Well, before the queen gave her a bath," she said lowly, "she gave that princess a spanking for ruining that cake!" D.J. slapped her own leg for effect. "You'll be very good around the wedding cake, though, right?"

Michelle looked at D.J. with just her eyeballs, intimidated by the thought. She knew when you ran into something, it hurt, so figured getting hit would, too. "Or you'll spank my tush?" Michelle asked with a whimper.

D.J. hugged her, very sad to see Michelle sad, but unlike Danny, she'd always been willing to lay down the law if she felt it was needed, And, these worries were the result of Danny not enforcing limits till only a few months ago. "Only if I have to, but I don't want to," she said, glad her heart was tender, as expected. D.J. just wanted to be sure she didn't treat the cake like the samples - or the ring. "That bad princess's heart hurt, that's what you need to remember. She learned she had to obey rules. It really hurt her feelings when she didn't." Michelle agreed; the bad princess was heartbroken. "Your heart isn't your biggest muscle. But, it has the most room because of your love and niceness. The really bad princess wouldn't listen to that love in her heart, so the queen had to break it a bit," D.J. said forlornly.

Michelle felt sad for the bad princess. "I'll be good, D.J.," she muttered, still thinking of her threat. "Don't go breaking my heart."

"Even getting sent to your room or yelled at and other punishments we give you hurt your feelings, right?"

Michelle agreed sadly. "I don't like being naughty," she mourned.

"Good. The wedding is very special, so you need to be on your best behavior. We won't have to hurt your feelings at all at that wedding, even putting you in timeout, huh?"

She shook her head vehemently. She wanted to be where the action was.

"Good. I know you'll listen like the good princess, and control yourself," D.J. finished cheerfully, focusing on the positive.

"I'll be a very good girl!" Michelle said excitedly.

D.J. gave chores and removed dessert for the next day as punishment. During her bath, they discussed self control, the glamour of the wedding, and other positive things. Once Michelle got her pj's on, D.J. said, "I know you don't like to think about ruining the wedding cake. Just know you'll be in very, very big trouble with me if you do!" Michelle nodded slowly. "We'll go over this more, but if I see any icing on your hands from that wedding cake, I will yell a lot even before Daddy or I sit you in the corner."

"Okay." She hated timeout, especially looking at a boring wall. She even hated to be yelled at.

"And if you try to steal a slice before the bride and groom," D.J. warned, "you won't get dessert for a long time."

Michelle grinned, a little embarrassed yet to have D.J. threaten it, but still wanting to test a little. With a somewhat brash look like Jesse would get, she pointed and said, "See this tush? It's just for sitting!"

"And, I know you'll be a very good girl." D.J. rubbed her bottom as a warning, getting a little choked up - it felt pretty tender, and her dress for the wedding would be as thin as her pj's. D.J. really hoped Michelle was good now - she'd have to fwap even lighter than she thought if she ever did it. "So, I never have to take my hand and go through that tush to get through to your heart," she said, a tear in her voice. Michelle blushed and gave D.J. a great big hug. D.J. sighed as they embraced. "I love you, Michelle. I'm just trying to help you behave." Michelle told D.J. she loved her, too.

D.J. and she cuddled a lot that evening, and discussed fun things. Michelle improved a lot, with everyone watching. They all emphasized, if she got in trouble over the next weeks and months, how being sent to her room for seven to ten minutes, yelled at, or given chores or privileges taken away hurt her feelings, so she focused on the fact she didn't want punished at all. More importantly, they focused on what she should do, also, instead of just what was forbidden, so she could focus on the positive. And, that worked.

Still, D.J. really hated having threatened Michelle like that. They discussed it several days later once breakfast was done; Stephanie was doing Michelle's hair upstairs, by request, for preschool, since she had everything all ready herself.

Danny remarked that, "We all praised her for asking Steph nicely; she's really starting to behave well. And, except for those few problems since the samples, she has. I wouldn't worry about what you said, Deej," he consoled her, not liking to think of what D.J. had said. Why couldn't Pam have lived, he asked himself, so they wouldn't have to go through this? It was things like this, dealing with starting to punish Michelle, and Jesse moving out when he'd been Michelle's "mother" since she was nine months old, that caused him to keep putting off telling Michelle about Jesse moving out when he got married. Thankfully, Jesse and Becky would move back in. Danny hated to see change, hated to see people sad, it was so rough sometimes without Pam.

"Yeah, look at it this way. In a few years she'll be really good, and she won't remember the threat. Kids' memories are shaky at this age. I didn't even remember it was my dad who taught me my Popeye laugh after a few years, till he told me last fall. And, that's a much bigger thing to me than this will be to her," Joey said. "If she remembers anything, she'll just remember she had fun at the wedding."

"I know you don't like that you threatened Michelle," Danny said, putting an arm around D.J.. "I don't like thinking about it, either. But, you can't expect to be perfect, anyway; you're only in your early teens. We need to focus on what's happened now, with her needing you to talk more firmly about her behavior once. I think what will help is for Michelle to see your tender, giving side. She knows it's there, because of all you do with her otherwise. But, I think you're worried that she'll only think of you as someone who disciplines." He could have added that that was why he never put her in timeout till only a few months ago.

Jesse agreed. "He's right, Deej. Show her you mean business, but also show her if she's good, that can be filled with positive stuff for her. Your dad's right; she knows you got a soft touch. She just knows she can't take advantage of it like she does us at times."

"Yeah, but what could I do?" D.J. thought for a second. "Wait - I just opened a savings account. I can give her my old piggy bank," D.J. said excitedly.

Joey agreed. "See, we knew you could come up with something. She said she didn't even have one yet when I talked about having one the size of a house to pay for the wedding."

Jesse thought it was strange the way Joey phrased that. "Just where do you get these piggy banks the size of houses?"

"I don't know, but right after school, I'm going to get my piggy bank out and give it to her. Thanks, guys." She hugged them. She wished she'd been more proactive from the start. Still, she'd done enough that Michelle knew if she got too far out of line, a very loving big sister would rein her in; just like their mother, Pam, had done with the very wild Jesse at times. Stephanie and Michelle came down together then. D.J. turned to Michelle, hugged her again, and said, "Just wait till I get home from school." That would be a few hours after preschool ended. "I've got a special surprise for a very good girl."

"You mean me?" she asked expectantly. D.J. nodded; she could tell Michelle was getting used to wanting to be a good girl, and enjoying it.

D.J. gave Michelle her piggy bank after school, even getting a spontaneous "thank you very much" that didn't often come. Over the next few weeks, they worked more with her.

There were no problems, as Michelle was perfectly behaved around the wedding cake. However, at the reception, she was tempted to just put a finger on it, without getting any icing - closer to the middle of the cake so it couldn't be seen if she did.

Michelle eyed the cake, then blushed slightly. She knew she'd get yelled at bitg time if she got any icing off of it; they'd been telling her for weeks how fancy it was, and how good she had to be.

She wasn't even thinking of D.J.'s earlier threat by now - but she wondered. What if she just touched that cake? She decided to reach her hand in...steady, steady...right over the top. Could she actually make landing? She wouldn't scoop any icing out, just a little touch would be all.

Oops, she said to herself. That was D.J.. "Just looking," she said, quickly holding her hands up. She was proud of being good, but also a touch embarrassed - grateful, really, that D.J. had come in when she did. Sort of like when a child says "Yes, mommy" when the mother says to stop whatever they're doing, even though they can't see what it is. Somehow the mother knows the child is a bit too quiet.

D.J. joked that she'd been looking for a spot to dive in, but Michelle hated to even be yelled at, let alone punished with timeout. She wouldn't dare dive into the cake. She was proud to be such a good girl.

Ten months later, Danny had left for the hospital to be with Jesse and Becky as Becky had her twins. They'd learned the babies were coming, but it didn't make sense to wait for the hours and hours labor could take, just sitting around at the hospital. It wasn't like waiting an hour while someone had surgery. So, Joey was in charge of Michelle's birthday party, all of a sudden.

Thankfully, D.J. was, too. It figured - Michelle was dressed as Pebbles Flintstone, and D.J. was Wilma.

"Come on, let's have the cake," Michelle insisted. "It's my birthday."

"You'll just have to wait a little bit, Michelle," Joey said evenly as he, D.J., and Stephanie discussed strategy for the remaining games and such.

Michelle harrumphed. "All people ever do is wait. Can any of you use knives?" A chorus of "no"s, some very emphatic, rose from the other children. "Hmm, this is going to be tougher than I thought."

"I can cut the cake; I take karate."

"Go for it, Teddy," Michelle shouted with several other kids. Before Joey and the others could stop them, Teddy had karate chopped the cake, and Michelle had shouted, "Let's all get some!" They were scooping it out and eating it with their hands. Why not - someone's arm had been in the cake as it was now.

D.J. walked into the room where they were, and when Michelle heard her scolding voice, she stopped in her tracks, her eyes growing wide. "Joey, you and Steph can handle the other kids, Michelle and I have some things to discuss upstairs."

Michelle gulped. Once they got to the bathroom, D.J. closed the door and looked Michelle square in the eye. "You know how to control yourself better than that!" she reprimanded. Michelle was very good, as good as any child this age, but D.J. knew she still needed a little help. Thankfully she never did this to a cake again.

"It was my cake. At least it wasn't a wedding cake," Michelle said sadly, looking downcast and sniffling once as D.J. began to wash her hands and face.

"You remember our talk about that, huh?" D.J. could tell from Michelle's downcast look that she did. "This wasn't as bad, but you need to learn to control yourself. Now there's no more birthday cake, is there?" D.J. spoke lovingly yet firmly as she wiped her off.

Michelle felt bad about having done this to her birthday cake. She knew she deserved to get yelled at, and that it was fair that there was no more cake now.

Still, when D.J. told her to sit in her room to settle for a moment, she complained a little. She knew D.J. loved her, and was willing to test a little, even when she knew D.J. was right. D.J. just ignored her - she'd been advised years ago, when she started having to cover for Danny, to pick her battles.

"D.J. gave me a timeout," Michelle complained when she came down a moment later.

Joey let D.J. handle the party game they were setting up, and walked into the kitchen with Michelle. "Michelle, D.J.'s just helping you settle down and learn to behave really well; just like Wilma would do for Pebbles. Besides, it wasn't that long."

"Sure, Michelle," Stephanie encouraged her. "It's like what we talked about with talking in class. When I was your age I talked all the time; my teacher even sent a note home once." Joey had to grin; she rambled like Danny. "But, just once after that note I wouldn't listen, so I had to stay in from recess and write sentences. That was no fun, but it taught me to have self-control. That's how I learned to be so good in school." This was a talk Stephanie had had a couple times with Michelle, once at school when she tap danced all the time in school one day.

"She's right," Joey said, building on the notion. "Think of it as staying in for five minutes from a three-hour recess where all the teachers dress as cartoon characters."

"Right, and there's ice cream, and...did I see a smile?" Stephanie asked excitedly. Michelle couldn't help but grin at the idea of teachers as cartoons characters.

"I think you did, Steph."

Michelle felt much better and had fun the rest of the day. Once the party was over, they left for the hospital, ate in the cafeteria, and waited.

Michelle was worn out from the excitement, as they got back from the hospital about nine at night, after the babies had been born and Jesse was fully alert after his appendectomy. It didn't stop her from wanting to stay up, though, even though they only had off that Tuesday because there was a four-day weekend for Veterans' Day, which was Monday. Tomorrow was a school day.

Danny had been telling her stories about her and her sisters growing up for a few days, including today. Once she got her bath, she walked into D.J.'s room with a big grin, having heard some of the things D.J. did when she was little, though neither girl had been near as wild as Michelle.

"You're such a big girl now," D.J. complimented her. "You're going to do the good stuff we did at that age, huh?" Although, she pondered, it wouldn't be that bad if she and a friend tried to toilet paper a few bushes like D.J. and Kimmy almost had till Pam stopped them. If that was the worst Michelle ever did, it would be good. As long as she obeyed all the time when sent to her room or when privileges were removed, like she had been for the last nine-plus months.

"Except I got punished with timeout."

"Well, that happens to everyone once in a while," D.J. said matter-of-factly. "The important thing is that you learned your lesson and won't do it again."

"But, Pebbles never goes to timeout."

D.J. had to laugh. "They can't show everything. It's just like they don't go to the bathroom on TV," she surmised. "Anyway, Michelle, the point is, if she did that to a birthday cake she would get sent to her room like you. But, she'd never do that. And, you won't do that either, huh?"

"No way!"

Michelle thought for a moment. She loved to be like her sisters. She was thinking about what she did to the cake - and, as a result, her behavior problems before the wedding. She started to think about how she was naughtier than her sisters were, from the stories she'd heard when she asked.

"How come you and Stephanie never did the stuff I did when I was four?"

"Well..." D.J. debated how to put it. She removed the "big sister who knows everything" hat and put on her "motherly" one, even though she wasn't proactive as one. Michelle never would have been this good without someone stepping up, and like it or not, she'd been the most likely one. Maybe the only likely one to do it. "Daddy let you get away with more than you should when you were younger. You learned some bad habits, when it came to behavior. So, I had to get you to listen. But, no matter what I've done, or what I would ever do, it's all been because I love you."

D.J. picked her up and cuddled her. Michelle leaned on D.J.'s chest and looked up at her. They smiled broadly at each other, like a mother and daughter might - indeed, like she and Jesse did.

Except, Michelle relied on D.J. for something she never relied on Jesse for, because while she listened to him because he was so loving yet authoritative, he never enforced rules. It would be very hard for him even to put his own boys in timeout at first because he couldn't stand to think of becoming his father, who screamed all the time. He'd have been used to it by then if he'd ever put Michelle in timeout.

D.J. knew, from what she'd learned, that Michelle relied on her to set and enforce limits earlier, and even now a little. In a way, it was she who Michelle rebelled against as much as Danny if she balked at obeying the rules.

Except, Michelle was now confident, with Danny having been consistent over the last year, that D.J. wouldn't come into play if she listened to him. D.J. hoped Danny would remain consistent, so that not only her one-time threat, but her having to discipline in general, would be forgotten. She wanted time for herself, free from such worries, but more importantly, she wanted Michelle to keep being the really good girl she was becoming.

Michelle asked something that had been on her mind for a while, since trying to set her dad up with her teacher. She didn't know what it was like to have a Mommy; she thought mostly of the guys in her life, and to her, men were always daddies. However, leaning on this warm, tender, caring female figure, and feeling the love that came from her even if she disciplined, Michelle had to wonder. "Is this what it's like to have a Mommy?"

"Yeah," D.J. said wistfully, thinking of Pam. Hoping she'd handled Michelle just as their mom would have over the last few years. Wishing that she'd been able to ask her advice. And yet, knowing that even in just reacting, she was forming a special bond with Michelle; not as deep as a proactive D.J. could have, but still one where Michelle looked up to her as more than a big sister. She saw D.J. as a loving enforcer of the rules who always cared for and loved Michelle, no matter what. One who provided lots of fun and happiness, as well as a consistent boundary for Michelle to push against when she needed a little freedom, or when she just needed the security of knowing it was there. As they embraced, D.J. nodded. "This is exactly what it's like to have a Mommy."