Fan Fiction - Written by Doug Fowler - Television Universe

Afternoon Shift
Written by: Doug Fowler


The dapper white outfit looked quite impressive as Donna Jo Margaret Tanner glanced in the mirror, then turned around. She checked to ensure that everything was in place. Adopting a small grin, she turned to see her cousins, four-year-old Nicky and Alex, glancing into the room. Behind them were her sisters, Stephanie and Michelle.

"You look beautiful," Michelle declared.

Nicky looked worriedly at Stephanie. "She's not gonna give us a shot, is she?"

Stehanie laughed. "No, she just has to wear that in to work. She won't give you a shot unless you're really sick."

Donna Jo - whom everyone called D.J. - agreed. "Actually, I'm not really allowed to give shots yet, I only finished my first year of nursing school. And really only settled on that near the end of last semester, anyway."

"You know, it's amazing," Michelle commented. "Dad's always so crazy about safety, but now you know more than him."

D.J. donned her nurse's cap just as Danny Tanner, their dad, came in with a video camera. "Aw, look at my little tennis ball head, going in for her first day of work."

"Internship, Dad, the only thing I'll get paid in is experience. Well, that and hugs. I'll be the childrens' ward much of the time." She sighed. "And before you say you'll come visit, don't stop by till after seven, when most little kids are getting ready for bed and people are home from work. There's less chance I'll be called over to the E.R. then."

"Well, I'm babysitting tonight. So, I hope I don't come visit you," Stephanie responded.

"God point. Well, I'm off," she said proudly, excited to be able to give comfort and hope to others. She suddenly recalled a college friend's remark from class one day. She'd said that "God may be called the Great Physician, but He's really like an all-knowing, all-powerful nurse." And, it was so true. As she reminisced about one of her first missions of mercy - giving up her first non-mother-daughter slumber party to babysit her then-baby sister while everyone else had chicken pox, she realized she'd been doing nurse-like things for a long while. She just didn't know it.

Danny followed her down the steps with the video camera, going out to the porch and recording as she hugged and kissed her sisters and cousins goodbye for the day. "See you guys bright and early tomorrow morning. And, Dad, don't wait up for me. I know I'm supposed to get off at 11:00, but just in case there's an emergency."

"Are you sure, Deej? I don't want you out alone late at night."

D.J. chuckled and shook her head at her dad's protectiveness. "I'll be fine. There's a group carpooling, and they're picking me up." A horn honked. "There they are. Luv ya," she said, hugging her dad swiftly.

D.J. glanced at her watch; she couldn't believe it was past seven. They'd been relatively calm, but she'd been so excited that her first four hours there had seemed like a mere thirty minutes. "Tanner, take a break, don't use up all your learning in one day," teased the head nurse, Dixie McCall.

"Thanks, Dixie," she said. A gust of wind left her. "Well, now I'll have all my stuff done in case something..."

Spoke too soon, she said to herself. A young boy with a stern looking mother was behind her, standing next to another nurse. "This mother caught her son and a friend playing with fireworks. She called and asked if we could give him a little tour," the nurse explained.

D.J. smiled warmly at the woman. "I'm D.J. Tanner, I'm working on my nursing degree. I just started, but I know this part of the hospital by heart."

"Alice Burger. I remember you, Evan here's in Michelle's class at school." She explained, "He and a friend found some of these rockets in his uncle's things, and decided to try and shoot them off. I figured a little tour would do a lot more good to scare him than just me punishing him."

D.J. smiled and said "I remember when we taught Michelle how dangerous not holding our hands crossing street was by dropping a brick on a banana." Indeed, she and Stephanie had done many things like that and teaching Michelle to freeze on command. She'd felt a bit of a duty to, as her mother died when D.J. was ten, and Michelle was a baby.

Bending down to Evan, she asked "do you remember when you learned Michelle didn't have a memory for a few days after her riding accident?" He nodded. "Well, that came back pretty easily, and it didn't hurt. But how do you think it would feel to have a hand blown off, and have all sorts of guts come oozing out?" He looked a little grossed out. "You think that's bad, follow me."

She laughed at her comment as they toured the ER. Her best friend, Kimmy Gibbler, sounded more likely to talk about guts oozing out - she was often pretty...well, strange, compared to the very upright and clean-cut Tanners. However, D.J. had thankfully rubbed off on Kimmy a lot more than Kimmy had on D.J..

Evan was both fascinated and scared by talks with doctors and pictures of burn victims. They even went in to speak to an amputee up in the Cardiac Ward - he'd lost his arm in World War Two.

As they were about to leave, she left Evan to quietly converse with his mom. She noticed a somewhat frazzled looking nurse stepping outside a door. "Can I help with anything?"

"Can you get a person off a cruise ship in the Caribbean and out here in a couple hours?"

D.J. smiled sadly. "I'm afraid that's a little beyond my powers. I was Wonder Woman for Halloween when I was nine, but that's the extent of my Superhero experience."

The nurse grinned, appreciating the humor. "Thanks, I needed that. We've got an Alzheimer patient in there, he's not expected to last. We don't know if the cruise ship's been reached, let alone if his daughter will make it in time."

"That's too bad. I remember when my mom died, how crushed I was because it was so sudden."

The nurse held up a hand. "Wait, it gets worse. He's all upset because he can't see his daughter Gloria, because guess what? For the last few weeks, it's been her wedding day, and he's supposed to walk her down the aisle. To marry the man who's been his son-in-law for thirty years. And her not being here has made it extra tough the last few days."

D.J. raised an eyebrow. "Wait...Gloria? His name wouldn't be Eddie Johnson, would it?" She smiled wistfully, sensing the nurse's odd expression. "I volunteered to help a man with that name at the senior citizens' home about four years ago. He thought I was Gloria a couple times, he said I looked just like her when she was fourteen"

"Maybe, this is a black man, but you might have, his daughter was adopted," she explained.

D.J. nodded. "Same with my case. Can I go in?"

The nurse chuckled. "Look, you see that uniform? That gives you the right to go into any room to care for people. You don't have to go around asking for permission." The nurse shrugged. "It's worth a shot."

The man's face brightened as he looked at D.J.. "Gloria," he said tiredly from his bed, "where have you been."

"Oh, just out...running some errands. You know, girl stuff."

"Oh, don't give me that. The wedding starts in five minutes. Where could you have been," he wondered.

D.J. looked inquisitively at her friend. She wished she knew how to help him - it was experiences like this that convinced her she wanted to help people for a living, somehow.

Her friend, sadly, could provide no answers. D.J. glanced at the pictures of Gloria and of Eddie's grandkids. There was even a recent one of a newborn - perhaps his first great grandchild. "Well, just making sure the flower girl knows what to do. Don't want her throwing real hard, you know," she commented, trying to sound jovial and failing miserably.

"Oh, yeah, there she is, isn't she adorable." He pointed to an empty corner.

It took D.J. a moment to figure out what was happening. "Huh? Oh, yeah, yeah, I want kids like that one day. She is so cute. And those rose petals she's flinging around." If his mind is inventing things, she deduced, I should, too.

"Roses? Those are lilies, you wanted lilies yourself, remember. We better hurry, the wedding's in five minutes. You check on the flower girl yet?"

"Don't I know it. Hey, just wedding day jitters." D.J.motioned the nurse against the wall. "You thinking what I'm thinking?"

"I don't know, mind reading's about the only thing I'm not asked to do. 'Course, sometimes even that's part of the job description."

D.J. concurred - she'd heard lots of "war stories" from professors. "Part of me is saying he should walk - well, I should help him walk me down the aisle. But, I've got other stuff to to do."

"Don't worry, if you leave again he'll be happy for a little while, anyway. Besides, we need time to set things up...somehow." D.J. left, imagining that a lot of her work would be improvising. Doing things never discussed in her classes, but only talked about over lunch with professors at the student commons.

Even and Mrs. Burger thanked D.J. for the tour, with Evan promising never to touch another firework again. D.J., however, looked down as she walked back to the nurse's station in the childrens' ward.

Dixie was surprised. "I thought that was something that would make you happy."

"Oh, it is; it's just that the man who inspired me into this might need to walk me down the aisle in his daughter's wedding." Dixie looked quite confused. "It's a long story."

"I thought Michelle's horse riding accident last year was what inspired you to go into nursing."

"That three-hour wait while that bus accident and a bunch of other things clogged your schedule gave me a big push. I had to keep listening to other stuff to take my mind off her - she woke up in the ER in a daze, we just never got word. But for all I knew, she could have still been out. So, I listened, and asked some questions; and it was fascinating."

Dixie recalled, adding, "When you'd be down here visiting a lot that week, you were quite curious about everything. I could tell there was an important seed being planted."

D.J. grinned confidently. "And since I began taking more science courses my second semester, I'm hooked. But, what started it was helping this fellow in a nursing home..."

She was interrupted once more. Dr. Brackett walked up to them. "We've got a young babysitter who had to bring a child in to the ER, could you spare..."

D.J. held up a hand. "I'll go. And I hope that's not who I think it is."

She sighed. It was. "Steph, what's wrong," she asked hurriedly, noticing her fourteen-year-old sister's worried face.

Stephanie tried desperately to calm a squirming three-year-old and remain calm herself; she got so excited over things sometimes. "Deej, thank goodness you're...hush, sweetheart, and keep still, your Mommy and Daddy will be here. I was gonna ask... No, I'm sorry, we can't go for ice cream, we have to have that arm checked. It still hurts, right."

The child suddenly saw the nurse. "My wight arm huwts." He held up his left.

"That's the right arm," Stephanie assured D.J..

"Steph, that's the left arm."

"I know, but in this case, left is right." She looked puzzled for a moment. "Let me rephrase that, he thinks his left is his right, but even though it's his left that's hurt, that's the right one. I mean..."

D.J. hurriedly held up her hand. "Whoa, wait a second, just tell me what happened."

"Well, let's just say I should have sung him 'no more monkeys jumping on the bed.' His mom and dad told me he sometimes pretended to be asleep and then started..." She turned again to answer his query. "No, sweetheart, we can't go in that ambulance with the big fancy lights again, that's only for emergencies." She rolled her eyes. "I called the parents right after I called the ambulance, they're meeting... No, dear, your arm won't come off if it's broken."

"Tell that to Evan Burger, he just got scared straight about playing with fireworks. So, it's that arm," she asked, pointing to the left.

"Wight," spoke the boy.

D.J. sighed. "Here we go again."

"If you're not busy, could you stay out here till they come? I mean, they're nice and all, but still, I guess I'm just scared they'll be mad at me."

D.J. sat beside Stephanie and put an arm around her. She felt like a mom at times. "Steph, it was the same way with you being scared Michelle hated you because of that fight before her accident. And you were way madder at yourself than anyone was."

"Yeah, or when I was scared Dad might hit after I put that car through the kitchen."

"Right, and I told you he'd never hit any of us before. And he didn't then and he hasn't yet."

Stephanie grinned thankfully. "You've always tried to be like a Mom in some ways."

"I know, it's scary. Look, Steph, they realize you can't keep track of their kid every second. You did the right thing calling them, and coming here." She noticed a couple rushing toward them as she spoke. The boy got off Stephanie's lap and ran to them somewhat merrily.

The mother thanked Stephanie as the young teen stood up guiltily. "I'm just glad he's so well taken care of, and that you got him here," the mother remarked.

D.J. noticed someone beckoning her over. She stood and said, "See, I told you. You're just like Mom was; parents know you'll love their kids. That's what's important."

"Thanks, Deej." They embraced, and as D.J. walked away, she pondered that she, too, had always tried to be like that, to be able to run and control everything herself, and be worried when it didn't work. From the first Thanksgiving, when she somehow pulled the meal together, even though it was complete with an unthawed turkey. But, she'd been doing better and better, to the point where she considered cooking it all herself this coming Thanksgiving.

Of course, this stuff was a lot more important. She knew she would call for help if she had trouble with any of these patients.

Dixie explained, "This is one I think you can handle, someone waiting in room number three has to get a pea out of his nose."

D.J. heard Kimmy come up behind her. "Pee out his nose? Boy, somebody's really built strangely."

D.J. glanced back for a second and flashed a tired grin. "Kimmy, that's the vegetable. Probably like when Stephanie got a marble or something up her nose when she was three." She saw Michelle peeking out from the aforementioned room. "Look, the way things are going, it's probably Nicky or Alex."

Kimmy followed D.J. back to room number three, and spouted "boy, Deej, your cousins sure have grown."

D.J. gazed at Joey - her dad's best friend from college - as he sat holding the side of his nose in pain. Michelle, Nicky, and Alex were with the man who loved to act like a kid. Joey and D.J.'s Uncle Jesse had moved into the Tanner home when her mom passed away. "Joey, what are you doing here?!"

"Well, I started laughing at something the boys did...ow," he declared as D.J. began to remove the foreign object.

"Hold perfectly still. This is the sort of thing I was afraid Stephanie would have to deal with. She did come in, her charge might have a broken arm from jumping on the bed."

Joey winced in pain as he spoke. "Yeah, well, I laughed so hard milk came out my nose, and I wanted to see if stuff went the other way. I mean, when I put in nose drops sometimes they get to my mouth. Ow!" He gritted his teeth and put a hand to his nose as D.J. pulled out the pea. "Anyway, Jesse and Becky left me home with their kids, and your dad's doing some work late for the show, so I had to drag the kids down here with me."

D.J. chuckled. Michelle left to go see Stephanie. "Well, since you're all here, maybe you can be part of my wedding party."

"You're getting married, Deej? Congratulations," Kimmy spouted.

"It's not me, Kimmy. Remember Eddie?" She and Joey nodded as the other Tanner girls walked into the room. "Well, he's in the cardiac unit, and he's all hyper because his daughter's not here for her wedding. I guess he recognizes her a little, or at least she can help him act like it is her wedding day. But, his heart's so bad he's not too long for this world."

"Oh no," Michelle remarked sadly.

D.J. put an arm around Michelle. "Anyway, since it's sort of slow tonight..."

Suddenly, Steven Hale - D.J.'s boyfriend - steady again since the prom last year - and her Aunt Becky popped their heads into the room. Nicky and Alex ran out to see their mom, and D.J. followed. "Deej," Steve remarked with concern, taking her hands in his, "listen, your grandpa's all right, but he's having a few chest pains."

"Steve, having 'a few chest pains' does not mean somebody's all right," she noted decisively.

Becky grinned. "Well, what he means is, Steve and Nick were finishing up an extermination job over on Fremont Avenue when he started to complain of being lightheaded and having these pains. Steve called us at the restaurant and asked us to meet them over here. Are the boys all right?"

Joey exited holding ice on his nose, with Michelle holding his hand and comforting him. "Yeah, I just stuck a pea up my nose."

Becky made a somewhat gross face. "Well, at least now the boys have learned that lesson."

D.J. showed Joey where to go to fill out some paperwork, and followed Kimmy, Stephanie, Michelle, Becky, Steve, and the twins over to the waiting room, where Jesse sat, looking discouraged. Nick's wife, Irene, had shown up, too. "Hey, Grandma, hey Uncle Jesse, "she spoke with compassion.

"Evenin' Deej. Well, now everyone's here but Danny," he remarked as Danny walked in the door and toward them.

D.J. ran up to him. "Dad, are you okay? Where does it hurt?" she spoke with great concern.

Danny put a hand on D.J.'s shoulder to reassure her. "Don't worry, Deej, I'm fine. Guess they've been running you ragged, huh."

"Well, not really, it's just that Grandpa's having chest pains, Stephanie's charge might have broken his arm, and Joey stuck a pea up his nose."

Danny was shocked. "A pea? At least Stephanie used a marble."

"It felt like one at the end, Danny," Joey remarked, still rubbing his nose. "Boy, that smarts."

Danny gave Joey a strange look. "Joey, what were you doing with a pea up your nose?"

"Just trying a little experiment that went...somewhat awry."

"Sounds like what Steph that nurse signaling for you," Danny wanted to know, looking behind him. "We better let you get back to work."

D.J. noticed the cardiac nurse. "No, I just need to go up and be in a wedding."

"A wedding? Honey, is there something you haven't told me?'

"It's not mine, Dad, just an Alzheimer patient who thinks I'm his daughter." She signaled to the others. "Come on, they'll be running tests on Grandpa for a while, you can all come watch."

As the family walked up there, Michelle commented, "Okay, but I hope they have some cake." Jesse promised they'd get some at the hospital's restaurant.

D.J. noticed Eddie out in his wheelchair, looking tiredly at her. "Gloria. Did you check on the flower girl?"

"Yep, everything's ready." She signaled for Danny to roll Eddie's wheelchair down the aisle, and he did.

"What about the other guests," Michelle wondered.

D.J. whispered that "his mind is making them up. Same with the groom probably."

As Jesse invented some impromptu vows, Eddie's daughter came rushing into the corridor. D.J. turned to her and said "I hope you don't mind, I had to fill in a little for you."

"I heard," she panted, "I knew he'd been thinking it was my wedding day for weeks, I just never expected he was this close to the end.

Jesse smiled warmly at Gloria. "Well, now you've got a chance to be with him. I know how glad he probably is." He and Becky went down to wait for word on his dad. Danny and Joey prepared to take the others home.

Gloria nodded and turned back to D.J., tears welling up in her eyes. "Thanks so much; you were such an angel to him before; I guess it's fitting you're here now for him."

"That's what I'm here for," D.J. responded. "That's the joy of being a nurse. We are just like angels."

"Yeah, and that wedding was inspiring, too," Steve said lovingly. Danny raised his eyebrows as Steve took D.J.'s hands and the two gazed lovingly in each other's eyes. "You know, we've just grown so close, even with you and I being at different colleges. I just know we're meant for each other."

"Me, too. Oh, Steve, it's been so wonderful since that prom, so different than the first time we were together."

Steve nodded and got down to one knee. "Yeah. I want it to be forever, too," he commented impulsively. "Donna Jo Tanner...will you marry me?"

"Yes," she shrieked, and the entire ward seemed to cheer as the two embraced.