While Foster's went to Europe, for real this time

Please note: This story is a prequel to my fanfic "Frankie Rules". Roughly, it takes place between the flashback sequences and the "current" sequences of that story. Strictly speaking, you don't need to have read that story in order to understand this (although I'd appreciate it if you read it anyway, of course). All you need to know is that this story takes place roughly eight years after the events in the tv series.

Chapter one: Old debt

Frankie had spent the better part of the afternoon studying The Book. Mr. Herriman had kept The Book to himself for years, but on this morning he had, for some reason, suddenly decided to give in and let her study the book alone. His only condition was that Frankie didn't add anything thing to it, which of course she promised not to.

It was the Book of Friends. Mr. Herriman had been keeping it for years, making additions to it almost every day. It was the book where he listed every single Imaginary Friend that had ever come and gone in and out of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends. For each Friend there was an entry on its background, its personality, how long it had been there and how many times it had been adopted.

At the moment, Frankie was working her way through the letter "E". Edurado…well, she knew pretty much everything about him. Eurotrish…now she Frankie didn't know too much about, even though she had only been adopted and out of Foster's for four years altogether since she came here roughly fifteen years ago. Eurotrish, it turned out, was created by Paola Ginelli, the daughter of an Italian diplomat working at the European Union headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. Well, that explained her Italian accent and her pan-European clothing. Her given name was Patricia, but when she came to Foster's there was already a Friend from Texas there by the name Patricia. "Textrish" was adopted a few months later, but by that time, the nickname "Eurotrish" had stuck.

Frankie kept reading. For every entry there was a column where Mr. Herriman had written down the reason why every Friend was sent to Foster's in the first place. Of course, in most case, the reason given was simply that the creator or adaptor had outgrown the Friend. In Eurotrish' case, however, the explanation was: "She sings too much." And Mr. Herriman had even quoted Trish' creator on saying just that. It was true that Eurotrish used to sing a lot, and she had an awful singing voice. But eight years ago, she suddenly just disappeared for two weeks. When she returned, she didn't want to talk to anyone, and she never sang again. In the long run, however, this was for the best. Gradually she lightened up, and got along well with the other residents of Foster's. Everyone agreed that she was a nice gal as long as she didn't sing. She was currently sharing a room with Coco.

"Attention!" came Mr. Herriman's voice suddenly from the calling system. "Miss Frances, Master Wilt, Master Eduardo, Miss Coco and Master Blooregard! Madame Foster wishes to see you all in the hall as soon as possible." Curious, Frankie put down The Book. Her grandmother hardly ever made Mr. Herriman deliver her messages through the calling system. And a couple of hours ago, she had driven into town alone for reasons she didn't want to let her in on. This had to be important. However, when Frankie met her in the hallway, she looked as casual as ever. Her walk had gotten slightly more uncertain, but that wasn't an unusual sight nowadays. She was getting very old, and as much as she wanted to remain a "funky grandma", it was getting increasingly obvious that she no longer had the physique for it.

"All right grandma, what's this all about?" Frankie asked while she noticed Eduardo and Coco coming down the stairs

Madame Foster waved her purse nonchalantly. "I'll be getting to that when we're all here. Oh, I almost forgot…is Maxwell and Gunilla here? That's actually quite important. Especially Max.."

"Oh EWW! Get a ROOM, people!"That was Bloo's voice, coming from upstairs.

"Technically, the did get a room, Bloo.", the voice of Wilt objected weakly.

"Well, get a room and LOCK it, then." Bloo corrected himself, and added "People!"

Frankie smiled "Yes, in fact, it just so happens that Mac and Goo are in the house."

"The ol' Foster love magic is still working, I take it!" Madame Foster giggled. For quite some time, Madame Foster had been working hard to pair up Foster's two regular human visitors. Two months ago, her efforts were finally crowned with success, thanks to an elaborate scheme which involved getting Mac and Goo together alone in a broken-down car on a very rainy valentine's day evening so they could talk things out.

Finally having gathered her audience of eight - her granddaughter, her Imaginary Friend for more than eighty years, her favourite couple and Foster's Fab Four (as they were often called) - at the staircase, Madame Foster sat down in a nearby chair and folded her hands.

"I suppose you're all wondering why I told you to come here today - "

"I'm not" Bloo interrupted

"Do you know?" Frankie asked

"No, I'm just not wondering."

Seven pairs of eyes rolled more or less simultaneously.

"I'm sorry about that, Madame Foster", Mac volunteered. "Go on."

"Thank you, Maxwell, but actually, I'm the one who owe you an apology."

"What do you mean?"

Madame Foster cleared her throat. "I've done plenty of crazy things in my life, and I rarely regret any of them, because regrets are a waste of time. Life is short enough as it is. However, with age comes reflection, and I've come to realize that some things must be made amends for…" She began digging in her pocket, and eventually found a bunch of small papers that she handed to Mac.

"I believe I… ahem, borrowed these from you eight years ago. Without asking for permission, I'll admit. I'm sorry it took so long to replace them…"

Still somewhat confused, Mac took the papers, and studied them. Then he stared at Madame Foster, gaping.

"A two weeks all-expenses-paid roundtrip to Europe! You mean it was you who…?"

Madame Foster nodded.

There was a moment of awkward silence. Everyone was looking at the tickets, of which there were seven. Then the hallway burst into a happy chaos of cheers, apologies to Mac and a confused Goo asking everyone for an explanation.

Frankie noticed that Madame Foster wiped her forehead. She was probably happy that for the moment, everyone seemed to have forgotten about her. However, she couldn't help but feeling that her grandmother seemed to be getting away with this more easily than she deserved to. She had stolen a valuable price from a child, for crying out loud! And now, eight years later she had suddenly decided to ease her conscience by buying Mac new tickets, giving him a feeble, almost conditional apology and even retroactively trying to make her theft sound like a loan!

But Mac seemed to be happy, and strictly speaking, that was all that mattered right now. It had been his tickets, after all. In fact, everyone seemed very happy for the moment. Frankie didn't have the heart to spoil everyone's good mood by pointing out that her grandmother had, in fact, just admitted to being guilty of a pretty big crime. So she decided to do like everyone else and ignore this detail, at least for the moment. Picking up the tickets, she noticed that they had already been made out to specific people. There was one for her, one for Mac, and one for each of the four Friends that were supposed to come with them on the trip eight years ago. Oh, and there was one for Goo. Of course, after having spent so much time and energy on pairing her with Mac, she wasn't going to throw away the perfectly good opportunity to send them off on a semi-romantic holiday together. It Looked like Frankie was going to play the part of the chaperone…

But there was one name that was missing, one who was also supposed to have gone to Europe with them the last time…

"Where is Mr. Herriman's ticket?"

"I'm perfectly happy to settle for Madame Foster's apology, Miss Frances. Besides, someone has to keep the house in order while you are vacationing across the Atlantic."

"So you don't think grandma will be able to handle it alone?", Frankie responded with a nonchalant smile.

If this is about what I think it is, Madame Foster won't be able to do anything soon, Mr. Herriman thought darkly. But he merely said: "I'm sure she is going to need us some assistance."

"Oh, I'm can help them out some extra, Frankie. I owe you people that much.", said a shrieking girl's voice with an Italian accent. An oversized cap with stick-figured cartoon rodent Friend underneath it came walking down the stairs. Eurotrish.

"After all", she continued, "I was sorta an ah-comp-lees."

Frankie turned around and looked up at her "An accomplice, Patricia? You mean you…?"

"Si, I accepted one of Signora Foster's tickets because I really wanted to go to Europa and see my creator and her familia again", Eurotish explained with a glum facial expression that suggested she didn't want any questions about how that visit went. "I took it in good faith, but I really shoulda been more susp-ee-shush."

"I don't think anyone blames you, Patricia", Frankie assured her. After all, they're not even blaming grandma, really, she added in her mind. "But if you want to help out in the house, you're welcome to it."

"Well, I know how much you work to…" Eurotrish stopped mid-sentence. Something had suddenly occurred to her: "Why, Frankie, you called me by my real name! Twice! Nobody's done that for years!" Beaming with joy, she hugged the flabbergasted caretaker tightly "Oh thank you, thank you!"

Bloo, who had long since grown bored with the current topic of the conversation, turned his attention to the tickets themselves. Like Frankie, he couldn't help but notice something about the specifications:

"Why have Mac and Goo gotten two seats much further in the plane than the rest of us?", he asked to anyone who was interested in hearing (which, for the moment, were none). "Hey Goo, will ya trade…oh EWW, not AGAIN already! Just for the record, this time you did not get a room!"

As the buzz went on, and preparations were being made, Mr. Herriman took his creator aside. "Madame, could we please have a chat? In privacy?"

Madame Foster looked at the giant rabbit for a moment. "Why, certainly." she said, before she turned her back on him and began walking slowly up the stairs. "But not until later."


Comment:I wrote this story partly to create a bridge between the two timelines in "Frankie Rules", and partly for two other reasons. One, I wanted to give Eurotrish a proper origin story and two, I wanted a better resolution for Foster's Goes To Europe. I've always hated that episode because it has the show's most WTF? ending ever. So I wanted to see Madame Foster finally make amends, while at the same time allowing her to stay in character. I hope you think I succeeded at that.