Disclaimer: What I own doesn't include 8 Simple Rules, sadly.

Author's Note: So I've always loved the show. And then I was watching reruns of the show this summer when an idea for the story came to me. And The Big Bang Theory is included too, because giving winks to other shows the characters have been at is awesome. Also, the colleges chosen in this story is because I love Stanford, courtesy of Sam Winchester and the TV show Supernatural.

Anyway, a quick apology. This first chapter is mainly focussed on Cate, to try and set the scene for where the sisters are and what they're doing. Consider it more of a prologue than a chapter. The next chapter will definitely have a lot more humour and entertainment and whatnot.

Enjoy. And remember, reviews are like cookies for my muse. They make her very happy.


The 9th Simple Rule

Chapter I

Sometimes Cate hated being a mother – absolutely hated it. Like when Bridget got into college – a tennis scholarship to Berkeley University, of all places – she was ecstatic for her daughter. Shocked, impressed, awed even. But a part of her was terrified, petrified at the thoughts of all that her daughter could get up to without any parental supervision. Bridget had always had a tendency to push things a little too far, often oblivious to any complications that could arise. And Cate swore that there was a certain absence of morality in her eldest daughter now and again. How many times had she dated more than one guy at one time? But so far so good, Cate thought; at least as far as she knew, which wasn't necessarily much, which was also the reason why she seemed to carry on panicking about her daughter.

And now, Kerry was starting at Stanford University. She could have gone to practically any college and Stanford was one of the best, but Cate had a feeling that Stanford was chosen more for its proximity to Berkeley than for any of its fine qualities. That didn't bother Cate. It was reassuring to know that, no matter how much the two sisters fought, they'd always love each other too. But Kerry and Bridget in close proximity was yet another thing to worry about. She didn't forget how Kerry always tried to outdo Bridget or how insecure she sometimes was or Bridget's tendency to remind her that she was the prettier sister. And she knew, without having ever been told in so many words, that Bridget always thought of Kerry as the 'smart' one. She never acknowledged any of her own intelligence, choosing to focus on her superficial perfections than to wonder what she could achieve with her mind. Except when she'd had the thing for Jeremy, Cate reminded herself. She had hoped that Bridget would find someone like Jeremy in college but she knew her daughter too well. So far, no Jeremy-like person in college. In fact, she could just imagine the kind of trouble her daughter would manage to get into at college. Without parental supervision, hence the panic. And that pride was most definitely misplaced, she thought, because as wild as her own college days had been, she'd really rather not have her daughters follow in her own footsteps. And was it really that crazy for her to want to move to California to keep a closer eye on her two crazy, wild daughters?

It could be worse, she thought. Bridget could have been a lot wilder during her school days even, but there had been no drugs, no sex and even no alcohol as far as she was aware, which at least meant no intoxication. Instead, apparently, Bridget had a part-time job in some cafe or something. The last time Bridget had worked had been a disaster but she must've learned from her mistakes, she hoped. She desperately hoped. She was also trying for a career in acting. It wasn't as ludicrous as Cate might have once imagined. She had played Anne Frank so well that some people cried. So maybe she'll let it be for now and a couple of years down the line, she'll start Bridget thinking more seriously about a reasonable profession she could do and enjoy.

Kerry could have been a lot more insecure in school, too, instead of which she flaunted her academic and artistic achievements every opportunity she was given. What was more worrying was that Kerry was already attending an "academic party", to use her own words, tonight. And whilst part of Cate suspected that it really was one of those 'geek parties' (thank god she could say that openly now), part of her was imagining a very drunk Kerry on some table top, dancing. Which may have been taken from a trip down her own memory lane. And right now, that was the reason she was cradling the phone in her hand, foot tapping nervously. Would it annoy Kerry more if her mother thought she was out partying like some wild thing or would she be flattered? Or, third option, would she be irritated regardless, by her mother "checking up on her" as she had eloquently phrased it last time, before ending the call without a goodbye.

CJ had been no help in allaying her paranoia (which seemed more and more justified by the seconds). When she had asked him his opinion as to whether or not Kerry's 'academic party' was just an 'academic party', he had laughed. For minutes until, clutching his side and wiping tears from his eyes, he had looked at her and said, "Oh, you're serious." As if that hadn't driven her crazy enough to go straight to California, her own father had snorted and demanded if she was an idiot or just that naive. Sagely and grumpily stating that "there's no such things as academic parties" – although all of the parties that Kerry had gone to in highschool had been just those – he had further irritated her by saying that she's in college, all girls in college turn into floozies. And thinking back to her own college days...well, maybe her dad had more of a point than he'd even realised.

As for her darling boyfriend, he'd backed away, saying he did NOT want to come between mothers and daughters. Coward.

But whatever the outcome, whatever the reasoning behind this call, for better or worse, she had dialled the numbers and the phone was now ringing and oh god she hoped Kerry wasn't going to shout at her down the phone. How bad was it that she was a little scared of her own daughter? That definitely couldn't be a good thing. And if Kerry didn't pick up her phone? Well, Cate could only imagine and assume the worst.

This was why she wasn't sure whether she was more relieved or more terrified when Kerry actually picked up.

"Mom?"

"Hi care-bear," she was sure her squeaky voice was a dead give-away that this wasn't just some casual call, out of the blue. But it was rather soothing to her maternal anxieties to hear the calming orchestral music of...Beethoven, she thought, in the background. Or maybe it was Bach. One of the ones beginning with a B anyway. No crazy college party that she'd ever been to had classical music playing in the background. Good old reliable Kerry.

"What do you want?"

Cate was actually surprised at the lack of temper but Kerry had never been one to have a simmering, resentful temper. Except against her sister. "Oh, nothing. Just, you know, wanted to catch up with you. How's everything going?"

"Great, actually. The classes are amazing and the people are so intelligent and so interesting and it's just amazing."

"Uh huh."

"Yeah, I'm at this academic party right now and, just, wow. The philosophical discussions taking place here. It's so fascinating. We're going to get some food now. One of the guys says he knows this place that serves really good cheesecake, so we're going there for some dessert now."

Dessert couldn't hurt, not the kind Kerry was thinking about anyway. "Well, I won't keep you then. Have fun honey but remember your poor old mother once in a while. Love you."

She hadn't really expected a response. So the "Love you too," shocked her enough to make her stare at the phone long after the dial tone had returned.

Sometimes she loved being a mother.

But why in the world did cheesecake remind her of Bridget? It hadn't been her favourite dessert so why...? Ah well. That was a paranoid concern for another day, maybe tomorrow. She owed Bridget some paranoid calls after focussing on Kerry for these last few days.

For now, she'd rather just bask in the joys of being a mother until the next crisis or paranoid episode.