Disclaimer:

I don't own any of the Partridge Family characters.

Author's Note:

I am writing this in response to a request made by RaideretteLevin. She provided the subject; I'm providing the story. LOL


Chapter One

"Mom!"

The all too familiar cry came from upstairs and Shirley Partridge rolled her eyes as she returned her gaze to the morning paper. "In the kitchen!" She called back and it wasn't long before her two oldest children joined both she and Rueben at the kitchen table.

"Mom," Keith said as he entered through the door, "Laurie's ruining my life!"

"Me?" Laurie replied heatedly, "You're the one that canceled my date on Saturday night!" She followed close behind, not about to let her side of the story be ignored.

"Only because you refused to set me up with Nancy! Besides, Allan Howard is bad news!" Shirley watched as Keith turned to face his sister with a challenging stare.

"Allan Howard is not bad news-"

"Hold on a moment!" Shirley raised a hand to silence them. "What exactly is the problem here and what has this to do with Allan Howard being bad news?" It was the typical argument between her two oldest children. Somebody was ruining the other's dating life: the worse possible crime to be committed in a teenager's existence.

"Mom," Keith cut right in, "Laurie refused to set me up with the new girl at school, Nancy Weiss."

Nancy Weiss? Shirley figured she must be new. She had never heard the name before. "Alright," Shirley looked to Laurie, "And why won't you talk to Nancy about it?"

"I refused because Nancy is already going steady with a nice boy from her old town."

Shirley nodded. That made sense. Being the most sensitive of the children, Laurie was constantly thinking of others and trying to better the human race, especially when it came to hurting or teasing Keith in the process. If Nancy had a steady and Laurie knew about it, that would explain her reluctance to ask Nancy about her interest in Keith.

"But you could still ask her." Pressured Keith. It was obvious to Shirley that, to him, this argument was one-sided. His side.

Laurie frowned at him. "Keith, She'd turn you down in an instant."

There was always drama. "Kids, please." Shirley looked to Keith, "Now what is this about Allan Howard?" Allan Howard? That name was new to her as well. She definitely wasn't as involved with her children's lives as she used to be.

"He's bad news and he wants to take my sister out Saturday night!"

"Allan Howard is a very nice boy!" Laurie interrupted, with a nod of her head. "He's only misunderstood."

"Misunderstood?" Keith's tone was in the I-can't-believe-you-just-said-that category. Shirley knew that one well. "What type of misunderstood boy is found coming out of 'The Inner Self'?"

Laurie turned to him, smiling slyly, "I'll have you know, you were one of those types at a time." She poked him playfully. The teasing and the jokes. Another element in every Partridge Family feud.

Shirley raised her eyebrows waiting for Keith's comeback. After all, she remembered that instance very well. It had taken Keith days to finally persuade the lingerie store's worker, Janet, to finally agree to go out with him.

"Only because I was interested in the clerk. I never came out carrying shopping bags."

Shopping bags? That didn't sound good to Shirley.

"Those are all rumors!"

Rumors. Something Shirley knew well. She lifted her hand again in order to regain their attention "Alright, alright." She turned to Laurie. "You are sure that this guy is really a 'nice guy'? Not another Lester Braddock I hope."

"No! Nothing like that!" Laurie insisted. "This guy's truly misunderstood." The look in her eyes had the same intensity as the time she had to persuade them that Lester too was really a gentleman.

Shirley was a little edgy, but Laurie's opinion deserved the benefit of the doubt and so did Allan. She nodded. "Alright then, Keith? I want you to apologize to Allan and tell him Laurie will be going out with him this Saturday."

Keith's jaw nearly dropped to the floor. "But Mom-" He started off, but one stern look from Shirley silenced him, "Oh, alright." He was disappointed, but Shirley had expected him to be.

Laurie was smug, but Shirley still had one last thing to say in order to make the situation fair. "And Laurie, you will talk to Nancy about Keith won't you?"

"Talk to Nancy? But Mom-"

Shirley got a smug smile of her own, "After all, if Keith isn't brave enough to ask a girl out on his own, somebody's got to do it." She continued looking at the paper.

Keith paused in the doorway. "Now hold on a minute." He said. "I'm not afraid to ask a girl out on a date."

"Then why ask Laurie to ask for you?"

"Because I thought I'd have a better chance if Laurie put in a good word for me."

Shirley glanced up at her son and daughter who were now staring at one another. Laurie looked pleased and Keith looked desperate.

"Alright." Laurie said at last. "I'll talk to Nancy for you."

Keith's face broke into a grin. "Great! Thanks!"

"But," Laurie added, using a word way too common in the Partridge household, "You first have to reset my date and discontinue the passing of those rumors about Allan."

Keith's smile vanished. "But they're not rumors! They're true!"

"Keith?" Shirley said and Keith glanced quickly at her before nodding at Laurie.

"Alright, deal." They shook on it and Shirley was witness, so was Ruben who turned to the mother after her children had left the room.

"Deal? Really Shirley, is that the way you raised these kids?"

"Well, it solved the problem didn't it?" Shirley looked to him. "Laurie gets her date, and Keith gets a chance to see if Nancy is really interested in him or not."

"Sure…" Ruben said, "But do you even know these kids? I mean, what if all those rumors about Allan Howard are true?"

Shirley just shook her head in disbelief. Another common occurrence, Ruben was taking the over-protective-brother's side. "Rueben, if you don't agree with how I handled that situation, why don't you just tell me?"

Rueben's answer was to the point. "I don't agree with the way you handled that situation."

"Alright." Shirley decided to humor him. "Then how would you have handled that situation?"

Rueben thought for a moment and then a smile came to his face. "I'd pat Keith on the back for stopping that disaster from happening and tell him to get out there and ask Nancy out."

Shirley didn't agree. "Well, then what about Laurie?"

"No worries, she won't be going out with bad-news Allan and she doesn't have to ask Nancy out for Keith. See? Simple, easy, and nobody gets hurt."

"Except that Laurie doesn't get to go out on her date."

"Shirley, a guy coming out of a lady's lingerie store with shopping bags is not the type of person I'd let my daughter go out with!"

Shirley stopped for a minute. He had said 'his daughter'. She had never really thought of it before, but Rueben probably felt a father-like responsibility for her kids. After all, he was their manager and saw them most of the time. It surprised her how he had said that. Usually Rueben would be quiet and let her handle her children's problems in her own way, but this time, he seemed genuinely concerned about Laurie's welfare.

"Alright." She nodded at last, "But… we don't know that is true. Remember? Laurie said they were rumors."

"Rumors? You heard Keith, they're true!"

"Rueben!" All her feelings of sympathy for the manager diminished. She couldn't believe he'd be acting so unfairly. "If Laurie said they're rumors, I'm willing to give Allan Howard the benefit of the doubt."

"But Shirley, Allan Howard is bad news."

"How do you know this? Have you ever met him?"

"No, but-"

"Then keep your opinions to yourself!"

Rueben looked to the countertop and began mumbling something about women and their ways of making easy decisions more complicated then they need to be.

"You know," She said, trying to let herself be heard, "Being a mother is not as easy as people may think."

"Shirley," Rueben said, "I didn't question your position, I just questioned your decision. Besides," He added the last word as an after thought, "How hard can it be to cook and clean and tell kids what to do? I mean they all listen to you. Being a manager, you have to deal with all sorts of people and half the time you spend listening to them!"

Shirley could see where this was headed, but she was never one to back down from a challenge. "So… is that all you think motherhood is? Cleaning, cooking and giving orders?"

"That's exactly how it is. All you have to do is deal with the children and stay home to relax. Your only interaction with other people is at the bank and the grocery store and church every Sunday."

Shirley couldn't believe Rueben had such a low view of one of the hardest jobs in the world. "Rueben, motherhood is far from easy! Any American mother can tell you the trials and difficulties of running a household!"

"Motherhood is the easiest job in the books! You should try managing a group! Booking and business meetings, preparation for when things go wrong, and budgeting!"

"That bad, huh?"

"That's right. You couldn't survive a day in my position." Ruben haughtily sipped at his coffee.

Shirley watched him almost hoping he'd spill it so she could tell him to wash his own shirt. But he didn't. He just drank it slowly until a dreamy smile came to his lips.

"You know what, Shirley? I've got just the thing that will settle this dispute once and for all."

"Oh? And what is this?" She didn't like the tone of his voice and she was almost certain she wouldn't like his idea.

Rueben's smile widened. "We change places for a week. I'll mother your children and you'll be the manager for the group."

Shirley thought about this for a while. She had always been one for a challenge, especially when it put proud men like Ruben Kincaid in their place. One week, he had said. Shirley was sure she could do it. After all, how hard could managing be? She was sure it'd be a vacation compared to what she had on her plate right now.

"Of course," Ruben continued. "As for performances and practices, we'll still be in our normal positions."

Shirley wouldn't have asked for it any other way. "Alright." She said. "You're on. You be mom for a week and I'll be manager." She smiled at the thought. Rueben as a mother? This was going to be interesting. Very interesting indeed.