A/N: A friend thought a fic with one of the girls in a pageant like this could work. I had no idea how they even worked – so I hope I did well enough here – so I had no ideas. I also doubted Danny or the girls would be interested. Then, this came to me. It embodies what I think the Tanners would believe about the inside being much more important. I also include a tiny scene after "Shape Up" at the end. For more on Jesse's faked graduation see "I Finally Did It, Sis."
Queen of the Riled
Jesse Katsopolis never should have told his business partner, comedian Joey Gladstone, that "Grown men don't do impressions."
He liked to sound macho to compensate for Joey's seemingly childish ways at times like this. It gnawed at him when meeting new clients at the ad agency they worked for; their office was the Tanner home, but they met and went over things at the company's office quite often.
"Pleasure to meet you," Joey said to Len Poppel as the men shook the client's hand. "I understand you're also sponsoring a pageant for children," he added as they sat in the downtown San Francisco office. "I guess given the ages you'd call it a cuteness pageant."
"I suppose that's a good term. We'll use the winner in our ads," Len said. As they discussed marketing and working with children, he recalled something. "Your employer gave us your education profile, Mr. Gladstone, but we don't have yours, Mr. Katsopolis."
"What?" Jesse asked. Joey stifled a laugh rather easily.
"Your education background, we like to have that information on file."
"Where?" With that question from Jesse, Joey couldn't help but allow a chuckle to escape; Jesse sounded like Barbarino, a remedial student on the old sitcom "Welcome Back Kotter."
Len ignored it and explained, "Since we work with children, we like to make sure the people who work with us are legitimate and safe."
Jesse squirmed a little on the inside. He'd hidden from everyone for years that he'd dropped out of high school, pretending to have graduated. It was still possible in this time to be hired off of freelance work like he and Joey had. Their employer – knowing Joey had a college degree – had figured that Jesse finished high school and hadn't asked any more.
Jesse quickly evaded by saying, "My education? Well, I don't happen to have it here handy." Now, Joey let out a large "ha!" "What?" Jesse asked insistently.
"Jess, you just told me grown men don't do impressions, and then you go and sound like a couple Sweathogs from 'Welcome Back, Kotter,'" Joey explained. "Except you needed to sound really cool and change your voice on the 'handy,'" he finished, doing it correctly.
"Will you knock it off?" Jesse scolded
'Sorry, Jess," Joey said truthfully. Turning to Len, he said, "Jesse didn't go to college like I did; sometimes that embarrasses him. But, he's had a successful music career and worked quite a while as an exterminator before getting this job. We help my best friend, his brother-in-law, raise his three girls since their mom died. He can give a good reference, too, for Jesse; maybe you'd like to come for dinner tonight?"
"Sure, that would satisfy me," Len agreed.
After the meeting, as Jesse and Joey prepared to go home, Jesse turned to Joey. "Thanks for gettin' me out of that."
"No problem, Jess."
"I guess it was funny I sounded like them Sweathogs after I said no impressions, huh?" Jesse admitted, willing to laugh a little. "Though the way I was in high school I could argue I was being myself,' he countered.
Joey conceded the point. "Steph was bringing a new friend home, too; I'm sure Danny'll love having even more company." Jesse agreed.
They picked three-year-old Michelle up from Jesse's parents' around when Danny got home. Later, Danny picked up Stephanie and her new friend Kayla from a Honeybee Club meeting. Stephanie introduced Kayla to everyone once they got home. So Kayla wouldn't have to feel embarrassed, Stephanie explained, "She was in a house fire; that's why she still limps a little, too. But, I'm sure you won't say anything embarrassing."
"I'm sure she knows Michelle wouldn't mean it at her age," Jesse's girlfriend Becky said.
"I was talking to Kimmy," Stephanie explained, referring to D.J.'s weird and dumb best friend
"Relax, squirt; I know I tease because it's how I get along with people, except really close friends like D.J. and…" She thought a moment before continuing. "It's just like with your mom. I know some things are sensitive." A drunk driver had killed Pam tanner.
Danny told Jesse and Joey lowly, "Steph told me her mom's still recovering; more burns, plus medical bills are really a problem."
Later, after Kimmy left, the doorbell rang. Len was allowed in and introduced, but it wasn't until they had begun to eat that Len realized why he recognized Stephanie.
"Say, you were the 'Oat Boats' girl, weren't you?" Len asked.
"Yep. And, don't forget D.J.; I asked them to put her in an ad with me once," Stephanie informed him as D.J. looked down, a little embarrassed. "After all, she tried out for it."
"Steph, really, you don't have to say anything." Now a young teen, D.J. was more self-conscious than she had been. "That was well over a year ago."
"No, really, you did a great job with your line: 'I'm off to school.' You could be in his ads."
Danny smiled proudly as he spoke with fork in hand. "Steph's loves to encourage people."
"I can tell; she's the type I can see using, if she'd want to try," Len said.
"What would I have to do? I can sing, I love to dance, I'm good at sports. I'm better at tree climbing than the boys in my class," Stephanie pointed out. "Walter says he's never seen anyone climb a tree like I can."
Len explained that this was different. "Your Uncle Jesse and Joey are helping us with a couple TV spots, but most of our ads are in magazines."
"How do you try out for a magazine ad?" Stephanie asked. "Nobody talks."
Joey explained. "That's where the pageant they're helping to sponsor comes in. It's not a beauty pageant; it's just something fun at your age. But, the winner will be used in their ads."
"So, no dancing or singing or anything?" Stephanie asked. Len said she was right. "Oh." Stephanie didn't sound too thrilled, but then she suggested, "Maybe Kayla can try. Her family needs the money after their house burned down. Thankfully everyone will be okay."
Len was thankful for the distraction as Danny explained money matters were private; he'd only told Jesse and joey since they were a team, so he figured if Stephanie told him they could know, too. As Stephanie apologized, Len didn't know how to say that Kayla probably wouldn't win; her looks, especially with the scars and the limp, didn't match the cuteness they look for.
However, Stephanie persisted. "Would you like to try to get in some ads like that?"
Kayla nodded politely. "Yes, please."
"Uh, Steph…" Jesse wasn't sure what to say. "We can see Kayla's really nice and energetic. I mean, seeing you two play and how she's persevered…" He finally glanced over and said, "Help me here, Joey."
"Steph says she's really come a long way. It'd make a great human interest story," Joey said.
Jesse grumbled. "You're confusing our job with Danny's; Steph's not trying to get her on 'Wake Up, San Francisco.'"
"Although I'll have to tell our boss; maybe we can work something out," Danny acknowledged. It wasn't like they always had really important guests. Human interest stories were often what made shows like their work.
Len held up a hand. "Everyone has different talents. Jesse, you play in a band." He nodded. "That's not something everyone can do. Steph, you climb trees better than even the boys in your class. If I asked Kayla to try that it wouldn't be right."
"I could try," Kayla said, glad to get a word in, something hard with Stephanie around at times, though she was getting a lot better at not dominating conversations than she had been. Stephanie had always been very bright and very verbal.
"Sure; but, you probably couldn't win a race with Stephanie, right?" Len hoped he was letting her down gently enough; he sensed that he was. "So, in the same way, I don't think you'd be cut out for magazine ads; your talents are in other areas. Maybe you'll be in a band someday like Stephanie's uncle, or be a great scientist or doctor or something." Kayla beamed.
Stephanie wouldn't give up. "But, you said this pageant wasn't about talent."
Len hadn't expected Stephanie to catch that; he had to give her credit, she was sharp. "Well… I'm not saying I do, but some people prefer to look at…" He glanced at Jesse and Joey.
Becky, who had been talking with Michelle, spoke up. "A lot of magazine ads are doctored even to remove pores. They want people to look impossibly perfect. That can be a problem; ads sometimes make people think they have to look like the people in them."
"That's right; it's important to know you're special because of who you are inside," Danny said.
"Maybe they'll learn that if Kayla wins the contest," Stephanie suggested.
Len was grateful for all the help he was getting; he was trying so hard to be nice. It allowed him to say, "Well, unfortunately, pageant voters aren't used to thinking like that" with dignity, turning what could have seemed like a rude rejection into a lesson on how even though this girl didn't look "cute" or "pretty," as he added, "I can tell you still have a lot of good qualities that are more important in life. And, that's what matters."
"Do you think I could win that pageant?" Len told Stephanie he thought she had a shot. "I'll try."
Danny raised an eyebrow. "Steph, are you sure; you didn't sound too excited a moment ago." She said she was. "Well, okay. I'd rather focus on what's inside. But, you have a good understanding of what's really important. So, I'll let you."
After supper, Stephanie was in the room she and D.J. shared and talking to Mr. Bear, the stuffed bear their mom had given her when Michelle was born. "If they change the pictures in ads anyway, why couldn't they let Kayla do them?" She was quiet for a moment. "I know. That's why I'm going to win. Maybe then, I can do something for her."
D.J. and Kimmy walked in then. "Hey, Steph," D.J. said. "Kimmy came to borrow an outfit."
"Why don't you shop for her and Kimmy can shop for you," Stephanie suggested. "That way, you won't have to borrow each other's clothes. You'll already have them."
"But, then I'd have to borrow my clothes from … wait…" Kimmy looked askance at her as she tried to figure that out.
"While Kimmy tries to think, are you excited about trying to be a pageant queen?" D.J. asked.
Stephanie nodded. "Can you tell me about real queens?"
"Why do you want to know about a borough in New York City?" Kimmy asked.
"Kimmy, go home and figure out the clothes," Stephanie suggested.
"Okay. Hmm," Kimmy said. She left the room slowly while carrying the outfit and saying, "If I buy her clothes, then borrow from her, I'm borrowing my clothes; but if I borrow her clothes I'd have to borrow from myself, unless she borrows first, but then I'd have to…" She sighed and turned in the doorway. "I'll see you tomorrow, Deej; this could take all night." As she left, she murmured, "If I borrow what she borrows…"
"Now that your court jester's gone, is something on you mind?" D.J. asked as she sat next to her.
Stephanie asked, "Isn't that the guy that makes the king laugh?"
D.J. nodded. "Being a pageant queen – at your age they're looking for 'cute' - would be nice. But, with a real queen like Britain's is nice, friendly, and all those good things you have inside."
"Is she like our President?"
"No, Britain has a Prime Minister and Parliament that get elected. If you win, you'll have some fun like with those Oat Boats ads," D.J. said, thinking only of the pageant aspect, not Steph's "in charge" one. D.J. wasn't quite to the point where she'd worry about fitting into a bathing suit for a short time, but even then, that was a teenage thing to her; she didn't want Stephanie worrying about her looks. "You're just entering to have fun, right?"
"Yeah. Some queens run things, right?"
D.J. wasn't sure where this was going, but she often found it hard understanding her sister. So, she just replied, "Sure. Long ago, kings and queens had almost total power. Britain had one really famous queen, Elizabeth I."
"What made her special?"
D.J.'s class hadn't studied it yet, since she was only in seventh, but she fondly recalled asking her teacher for more details after class last year when it had been mentioned briefly. "The Spanish were going to invade in 1588," she said, telling the story on Stephanie's level. "Their king wanted to marry Queen Elizabeth and get part of her crown, and then take the whole country. She said 'no.' The English knew there were a lot of ships coming to fight them, but she wasn't afraid. She was right there on the shore ready to fight with them."
"Did she win?"
"The English Navy did part of the job. Then, I guess you could say God fought the battle for them," D.J. considered aloud. "They had faith they would win with His help, and this big storm came and destroyed the whole Spanish Armada!"
Stephanie's eyes grew wide. "Wow!"
"She never had any kids, but James – I think he was a cousin – of Scotland took over peacefully as her closest relative over ten years later. Years later they decided to unite – along with Wales. That's why it's called Britain today. Any more questions?"
"I don't think so. Thanks." Once, D.J. left, Stephanie told Mr. Bear, "We just have to have faith. And we're going to win."
Michelle looked at Stephanie as she stood in front of a mirror in the Tanner home. "I wanna play dress-up, too."
"Go put something fancy on then, Michelle." The preschooler left.
She posed as she turned around; her fancy pink dress and matching bow looked cute. However, it still seemed weird that there was no dancing or singing or anything. There might be some questions she had to answer or other little things, but that was all. But, this was it.
She turned to Kayla. "Michelle's right; it's just whoever plays dress-up the best."
Kayla was in another of Stephanie's fancy dresses. "It's okay if you don't win, but I'm glad you're trying. How will you wining help, again?" Kayla asked skeptically.
"I figure if I'm queen, I can make decisions," Stephanie said.
The girls giggled as Michelle came back still wearing suspenders and a t-shirt underneath; but with ballet shoes and a tiara on. "Michelle, that's not a ballet outfit," Kayla said with a laugh.
"I want to wear this," Michelle responded.
Stephanie put an arm around her. "It's great to be able to be young and silly."
"I'll do my ad looking like this." Michelle stuck her thumbs inside her mouth and stuck out her tongue, causing the other girls to laugh.
"That would get peoples' attention in an ad real fast," Kaya said. Stephanie agreed.
The afternoon of the pageant, Danny and Becky were there filming so they could air some of the footage Monday morning. Danny, of course, could go on stage and congratulate Stephanie as well if she won. There were also tables on both sides of the walkway that girls walked down. People ate supper before the judges announced their decision, so all – including D.J.'s friend Kimmy – were seated at one, with Kayla and her family also among Stephanie's invitees.
All applauded as Stephanie's name was called as the winner. She ran up on stage and accepted the flowers and tiara. By this time, Becky had returned to a place behind a microphone doing coverage for their show; Michelle was back to coloring.
"I'd like to thank everyone in my court, also known as my family," Stephanie said. After introducing them, she added, "And on the other side of D.J. is my court jester, her friend Kimmy." The audience chuckled politely.
Kimmy turned to D.J. as Stephanie continued her speech. "Wow, Deej; an official title. Do I get anything else for being court jester?"
Michelle looked up from her coloring pages. "Steph says they wear funny hats."
"Cool; count me in," Kimmy said with a smile.
"…And finally," Stephanie said, "I want to introduce someone else; my friend Kayla. Come on up," she invited the girl and her parents, who came up. Stephanie mentioned the house fire the family had been through and added, "Some pageant queens talk about wanting to make the world better. Well, the winner here gets to do some ads. As queen, I'm making sure she's in them."
Danny, Jesse, and Joey walked toward her. "Steph, what are you doin'?" Jesse asked.
"They named me queen. So, I get to issue royal decrees. You are using Kayla in your ads."
"Don't you think you're going a little overboard?" Jesse asked.
"You didn't go overboard teaching me to be nice to Walter," Stephanie replied. She'd gotten in trouble for calling Walter "Duckface," among other things.
Danny tried to think of how to explain. "Well, Steph, we've taught that because we need to be nice to other people because the rest of the world isn't always."
"Then let's teach them."
At that moment, Becky spoke into the microphone she was using for the "Wake Up, San Francisco" video. "She's no ordinary pageant queen, that's for sure."
Stephanie asked the audience, "The queen runs the country, after all; or in this case, the ads. Or, if you want," she said, removing her tiara and placing it on Kayla's head, "I'll name a successor and…" She called to D.J.. "Deej, what's that word that means you give up your crown?"
"Abdicate," D.J. called back, amused and interested to see what happened.
"Steph, this isn't a real elective monarchy," Danny said.
Kimmy called out, "You mean it's hereditary? Who died and made her Queen?"
"Thank you, court jester. I was elected; so I can order my voters to choose someone."
Len had been ready to congratulate Stephanie and present a contract concerning the ads. Baffled, he stammered. "Magazines won't want … I mean, she wouldn't look…"
"How rude. What's important is the person inside."
"Look, this ain't the playground, Steph; all he's saying…" Jesse began. He wasn't sure how to continue, though.
Stephanie put the crown back on her own head as she said, "You taught me an important lesson, Uncle Jesse. Never put someone down because of their looks. He's not calling her 'Duckface,' but that's still what he's doing."
"I'm sure she's a wonderful person," Len explained. "It's just that when people look at ads they want to see... well, perfect looking people."
"If you say one more word about her looks," Stephanie scolded Len, "it's off to the dungeon."
"Why stop there; let's make this an absolute monarchy!" Kimmy shouted as she stood. "Off with the evil minister's head!"
"Kimmy," D.J. scolded.
Kimmy sat remorsefully. "Sorry, Deej; I was getting into the part too much."
"Now, look, nobody is going to lose their head," Danny pledged. "Although I'm sure ratings are going up now," he added with a goofy grin.
Len sighed. "Well… maybe she can be in one…."
'All of them," Stephanie said.
Joey had been pensive for a while as he tried to come up with a solution. Finally, he had an idea. "Your Highness, I need to speak with the ambassador from Adland for a moment," he said.
Jesse gawked at Joey. "The what from where?" he asked as he followed them over to the side.
Joey held up his hands as he whispered, "Look, what we need is a trading partner – probably two or three."
"Joey, what are you talkin' about? His company wants the queen to do the ads," Jesse said.
"Look, each of these ads is negotiable. Not only that, but they're assets, right? They're there to provide a certain amount of money." The others nodded. "So, we trade the rights for other rights, and maybe other things – for instance, maybe part of one trade will be someone gets free tires from Ted's Tire Town. If they take her and Steph each in a few ads, they might be willing to give us someone of equal value; with the tires thrown in if it isn't enough."
Len was stunned, but in a way, it made sense. "Provided having their people in our ads generates equal revenue, yeah."
"Ah, but that's the beauty of it, you also could have less expense coming out of your budget, so it could even out that way, too," Joey said. "Do you get what I'm saying, Jess?"
Jesse supposed so, but, "This is gonna be really complicated. And, how do we know we'll find people to go along?"
Joey beckoned them back toward Steph. "Trust me." He asked Stephanie, "Your Highness, you wish this noble you are sponsoring to have enough to pay her family's medical bills, right?"
"Yeah," she said, looking back at Danny. "That's what I just told Dad. I guess it doesn't have to be all my ads. But, I'd like to see her in some."
"We can try, but the ambassador has subjects back in his country who require Your Highness, as Queen to help them. If someone asked a king to fight for them because he was so good at defeating his own enemies, he wouldn't send just anyone, right?"
"True; they'd want Queen Elizabeth I."
"So, as Your Majesty's ministers in these negotiations, we need permission to work out a trade with several countries, which Your Highness can help negotiate, who will be sure to use your client's services," Joey said, explaining to Kayla's parents what he meant.
Stephanie looked oddly at him. "A trade? Hmm, I'm not sure about this."
"That's what I said," Jesse told her.
"Joey's got the right idea, though. If you're going to give up some of your spots for her, the people who planned to hire you need freedom, too," Danny said.
Stephanie sighed. "As long as someone does."
"Only enough to pay those bills," Len said.
Danny patted Stephanie on the shoulder and said, "And if you work with them, with no complaints, I'll make sure we can get a new promotion with Kayla for our show to use as leverage; or maybe event he telethon," he said proudly. He knew this would probably be good, anyway, considering the video they would have of the pageant. And, while what Stephanie had done was quite unusual, he was pleased with how she wanted to step out and help someone.
Stephanie smiled gratefully at him. "Thanks, Dad. Boy, being a queen is hard sometiems."
"Hey, you have to work hard if you're going to make the history books," Joey joked.
Kayla's parents, Danny, Stephanie, Kayla, and other adults were in the Tanner kitchen days later. Len was reading as Becky came in with Danny's other girls and Kimmy. "…And finally," Len said, "Stephanie's other two magazine photo ops will go to the girls who do Benny's Bagels, with them trading their rights to one of them to Ted's Tire Town for twelve free tires for their delivery trucks, and Kayla to do one of the bagel ads and one more of the tire ones, in addition to the aforementioned which Stephanie and she will do. Did I leave anything out?"
"I don't think so," one of the attorneys said.
"Boy, Deej, this is even more confusing than Blondo's suggestion about buying each other's clothes," Kimmy said as she glanced at all the papers and notes.
Michelle looked at her. "Would you like to try my clothes?"
Kayla turned to Stephanie and said, "That'd be a good trick for any court jester."
Another adult looked at Stephanie. "It's been great working with all of you. If I ever hear of a country in need of a good queen, I'll give them your name."
"Thanks," Stephanie said.
Kayla spoke to a Ted's Tire Town executive, there with their attorney. "With the trades, I'll be your spokesman, right?" They agreed. "What does 'Totally radial' mean?"
"It started out as a play on the slang term 'totally radical.' Now, I guess since we've got one magazine ad with Stephanie and quite a few with you, it's radial beauty instead of radiant."
Kayla's dad said she and her mother were both beautiful despite their scars. The others all agreed, and Len said, "I'm glad we were able to work this out."
"It shows both you girls really have something special inside; you in offering to share like this, Steph, and both of you in working with us and in your personalities," Danny said. "I know our pageant queen didn't stay for all the negotiations. But, I'm sure with what she heard, she's learned a lot about being a good diplomat – and a good listener, talking with other people about their needs," he added.
"I'll have a lawyer type this up and we can all sign it tomorrow afternoon," Len said happily, feeling great after working through what had turned out to be one of the most unique situations he'd ever seen. He and the other representatives left.
Stephanie smiled broadly. "This was fun. And, now we got enough for Kayla's family's bills and some left over for their taxes. It's a good thing you were here," she told Danny, Jesse, and Joey. "I never would have thought about taxes."
Danny chuckled. "If people heard you say that, there'd be a line a mile long to name you queen. They might figure you'd never tax them."
"Well, that's why a good queen needs help, especially at your age. As a real queen you'd have a regent helping till you were able to run things," Joey said.
"Well, you guys can be my regents anytime," Stephanie said with a smile.
Months later, Stephanie saw D.J. studying as she entered their room. "Hey, Deej," she said. "I'm glad you started to eat again the other day." D.J. thanked her as she sat on her bed. "Deej; do you think what I did for Kayla really helped?"
"Of course; all their bills are paid and everyone's recovered nicely,' D.J. responded.
"Well, that was part of it," she said, gesturing with her hands as D.J. got up and eventually sat beside her. "But, I mean about the ads. You didn't learn from it and you were right there when we talked about how what's on the inside matters."
"Steph, the ads with you and Kayla were geared toward different people. The only ones I'd have paid attention to otherwise are the Ted's Tire Town ones. And, that's only because I'm already dreaming of driving in a couple years," she said with a chuckle.
Becky had entered the open door unnoticed. "I'm glad you'll stay healthy to do it," she said.
"Thanks; me, too." D.J. told Stephanie, "What I did was about pleasing other teens. I used the models as an illustration; not because I thought they were perfect. Now, I realize my true friends don't mind if I can fit into a certain bathing suit. Thankfully; I faced that temptation in a loving home life, with lots of support. I'm glad you told," she conceded.
Becky could tell D.J. still felt bad, so she let D.J. feel like perhaps she had some control over it. "From what you say about her spilling secrets, maybe you knew you needed help, so you let her know knowing she'd tell," she suggested. D.J. doubted it. "I mean subconsciously."
D.J. thought a moment. Just in case she needed to keep a secret that wasn't so bad later, she said, "Let's just say that's the one good reason to tell a secret. Some people do very dangerous things to their bodies. And, someday you might meet a friend who really needs your support."
Stephanie looked a little confused, so Becky explained. "Some people get down on themselves and they let pictures dictate who they are instead of thinking about all their good qualities. It's why I made D.J. list all her good qualities once after a boy broke her heart."
"She told me about that once, yeah," Stephanie recalled.
D.J. nodded. "I know it's sad that you can't just give them a great home life. You can still be a friend – like to Kayla – or even a sister," D.J. encouraged her. "You can be that person they can come to with any problem, and who can help them find a good, healthy solution.
"Sure; even if it's just helping them look at a situation differently, and seeing that inner beauty," Becky said.
"I know sometimes I think our worlds are too far apart," D.J. acknowledged. She couldn't hide the fact that there were temptations – it was hard to miss them with all the images she saw. However, as she said, "In the end, when I think about it, I know what you hoped to show with those ads is true. And, I think with how it worked out, and the discussion on Dad's show and things, I think you did help people see real beauty comes from who you are inside. And, you are a wonderful person."
"Thanks, Deej," Stephanie said as they hugged.
A/N: If you or a teen you know is interested, by the way, another friend has a great ministry for girls called "Stealing Hollywood" which has events designed to encourage girls to focus on who they are inside as what's important and to understand the negative aspects of the messages they get from ads and the media. "Stealing Hollywood" has great events that involve fun stuff teen girls will enjoy. The team would love to bring one of their events to your area. (Well, it'll be a whole lot easier in the United States but still…) They're on Facebook, etc. and you can also find them at stealinghollywoodministries on the 'Net, where you'll lso see the great testimony from the founder about her struggles. Thanks for reading this end blurb and for spreading the word; this fic's just one of those unique ways in which people can learn about such things.