A/N: Just a disclaimer that I'm grateful for the opportunity to play in the sandbox the talented creators and owners made. Watching the back half of season 5 had me thinking there was a part of the story that was left untold. I hope you all enjoy my attempt to tell it. The present day of the story begins after the expo in S5 E11. Thanks and happy reading!
The Show Must Go On
As the car rounded the corner onto Broderick Avenue, many memories started to play out in Jackson Fuller's head. He thought he was crazy for doing this, but the moving truck with all his family's belongings was already being unloaded as he pulled up to the all too familiar location. He looked over at the passenger seat where his wife was sitting as she gave him a reassuring smile in return. After all we've been through, I can't believe we ended up back here. It must have all started with Pippin. Jackson thought to himself as he allowed his mind to wander.
It was quite the day for Jackson, as he could never have imagined that he would have landed the leading role in the upcoming production of Pippin. What was more astonishing about it was that he beat out Ramona for the role, as she had been preparing for months to land it. He glanced over at her staring blankly out the window of the bus they were on. Jackson felt a sudden pang of guilt as the bus pulled up to the stop in front of their school, Bayview High. Another thought flashed in Jackson's mind as he gently elbowed Ramona next to him and gestured that they use the stop to exit the bus. "What are we doing Jackson? Isn't going to the bridal expo enough for one day? What are we doing back here?" Ramona asked as she stepped off the bus.
"Just trust me Ramona, I have a plan." Jackson replied as they started towards the school.
"The last time you had a plan we ended up on a ferry to Alcatraz. We had to spend the night on the boat and your mom was furious." Ramona replied.
"What are you mad about that for? I got in trouble and your parents were just jealous you spent the night on a boat so you all went on a cruise of the bay that weekend!"
Ramona nodded and smirked. "Yeah, that really did serve you right, didn't it?"
Jackson huffed and looked to find out they were arriving at his intended destination. "Well, here we are!"
"Jackson,why did you drag me in front of the boys locker room? We're going to end up trapped in the school again, aren't we?" she asked with a frown.
"Fear not Ramona! Sitting on that bus made me realize that I really was wearing your pants and it was starting to get really uncomfortable so I can grab my gym shorts from my locker. Plus our Thanksgiving eve game against Potrero is coming up so I have to get some practice kicks in."
Ramona's eyes widened "So why did you bring me here?" she asked incredulously.
Jackson smiled and nodded confidently. "Oh I have my reasons. Just give me a couple minutes to change and I'll explain everything." he said disappearing behind the locker room door.
All Ramona could do was let out an annoyed heavy sigh. "Fifteen more months till college, fifteen more months till college." she muttered to herself as she pulled out her phone. She was delighted to see a text from Ethan waiting for her, slightly cheering her up as she waited for Jackson to return.
A few minutes later, Jackson emerged from the locker room carrying a kicker's cage while tossing a sack with footballs in it "Hey Ramona, think fast!" he warned. However, Ramona wasn't paying attention and the phone she was texting on got knocked to the ground by the sack.
"Jackson!" she yelped while glaring a hole right through him. "You interrupted my chat with Ethan!"
"I'm sorry Ramona, really I am but time is of the essence here. We've got less than an hour of daylight left and I really have to get some practice kicks in."
"And this involves me how?" Ramona questioned, picking up her fallen phone and the bag with the footballs.
"Well, we don't have any more practice tees. A couple of days ago, mom came to pick me up from practice on her way home from work and Mankowski saw her on the sideline."
"Uh, oh." Ramona nodded with an understanding look.
"Yeah, he started waving to her and forgot we were running a play and he got blocked right into and crushed our last practice tee." Jackson explained as they started towards the field.
Ramona thought for a second " Boy it's not going to be easy for him to take that D.J. is getting married pretty soon. Between him and that other guy who is always after her…"
"Oh you mean the father of Max's classmate, what's his name? Larry?" Jackson guessed.
"Maybe? Anyway, I think we may need a therapist to be on hand at the wedding, just in case."
"Wouldn't hurt." Jackson shrugged in response. "Ah we're here!" he remarked as they arrived at the field. "Now all I need you to do Ramona is hold the ball so the laces are facing the net."
"Well, that seems simple enough." Ramona said in response. However, another thought entered her mind at that moment. "Wait a second, how do I know you're not going to kick my hand while I'm holding the ball?"
Jackson smirked. "Well Ramona, you're just going to have to trust me. Do you think you can do that?"
"We'll see. Let's just get this over with." Ramona responded as she held the ball as instructed.
About a half hour later, Jackson and Ramona were sitting in the bleachers overlooking the field as the sun was beginning to set. It was a pretty picturesque scene as the air has a brisk fall feeling to it as well. "Well Jackson, I guess I could trust you after all." Ramona remarked.
"Yeah, and you did great as my holder as well. At least until the last kick I attempted today when you removed the ball before I could kick it and I went flying down on my butt!" Jackson exclaimed.
Ramona let out a chuckle. "Come on Jackson! I have to be your understudy in the play plus you dragged me here without my knowledge. I had to get you back at some point today!"
Jackson nodded in response, seemingly conceding the point. "Yeah, I suppose I had some form of payback coming. It was worth it though, because I got my practice kicks in and I got to accomplish something else as well."
"And that would be?" Ramona asked.
"Well, I already thought this, but by helping me out here today you made me feel confident that I can rely on you to help me out when we start rehearsing for Pippin."
Ramona gave him a reassuring smile. "Well Jackson, I kind of don't have a choice since I'm the understudy and we'll both be preparing for the same role. "
"I realize that, but it's like you said earlier. You studied for this role for months, and I took the audition just to get out of P.E."
"Can I just take a moment to point out the irony of that since you're actually on the football team?" Ramona asked with a laugh.
Jackson shrugged. "That's just part of what makes me a complex individual, Ramona!"
"That's putting it lightly. Anyway Jackson, you can count on me. It's not going to be easy, as the role calls for way more than that singing voice of yours but I will do everything I can to help you." she said as she put a reassuring hand on his shoulder."
Jackson smiled back at her. "I appreciate it Ramona. As soon as the game is done on Thanksgiving eve, I'll be ready to focus completely on preparing for the play."
"That's great Jackson! Although, don't think that just because I've helped you out today that I won't be asking for something in return."
Jackson looked confused. "Wait, what?"
Ramona started with a smug grin. " Well, like you said Jackson, Thanksgiving is indeed coming up. That also means that this month, my Papa is going to be eligible to become a citizen of the United States."
Jackson's eyes widened. "Uh, oh. This means he's planning something huh?"
"We wouldn't be Gibblers if we weren't. Anyway, your price for me helping you practice today is coming with me to the costume shop tomorrow to pick out outfits for what he has planned. I can't be caught going in there alone."
Jackson let out a heavy sigh. "Well, I do owe you so I guess we have a deal. Although if anyone asks me what you guys are doing on Thanksgiving I will fully deny having any knowledge of it."
"I don't care what you do then. As long as I don't have to be seen taking these outfits home alone."
"Well I guess one thing is for sure. It's going to be another interesting Thanksgiving." Jackson stated while getting up from his seat. "You ready to go now?" he asked, extending his hand out.
"Yeah, let's go home." Ramona responded, accepting his help to her feet from her seat and they started walking towards the bus stop in the sunset.