“Listen, you twerps! Jeremy is coming over in half an hour to help me cook my entry for the Mexican Food Festival, and I have been looking forward to this all week! So let’s lay down some ground rules, alright?”
The boys looked up from a piece of paper that already looked suspiciously like it was going to ruin her day. “Hi Candace!” Phineas said brightly. Ferb just blinked.
“First of all,” Candace continued, paying no heed to the courtesies, “give me that.” She snatched the paper away, giving the title a cursory glace. “This! This is what I’m talking about! No solar powered blimps today! No cool devices, no ridiculous shenanigans - I don’t want to see a single hammer! Are we clear??”
“Sure Candace.” Phineas agreed, looking suitably chastised. Ferb shrugged. Mollified for the time being, Candace headed upstairs to prepare for her date, dialing Stacy for required haircare advice.
Somewhere between 5 minutes and an eternity later, it seemed, the doorbell rang.
“Ohmygod, he’s here! I don’t have the perfect culinary couture yet! Stace, quick, what do I do??”
“Candace, you look fine. Jeremy’s not gonna care - doesn’t he wear the same thing, like, every day?” Stacy pointed out pragmatically, knowing from long experience that her friend was too far gone to care that Stacy couldn’t see her over the phone.
“OK, you’re right, you’re right. I just need to calm down, and answer the door.” Candace agreed, flipping her phone shut without ceremony. Fixing her cutest smile onto her face, she pulled the door open. “Heyyy Jere...................my.”
“Uhhh, hey Candace.” Jeremy greeted her back, scratching at the back of his head a little self-consciously. He waited a moment, and then prodded, “caaan I come in?”
“Uh huh.” Candace agreed blankly, not moving out of the doorway. Jeremy blinked at her for a moment, and then waded bravely into dangerous conversational territory.
“You’re probably wondering about the outfit.”
“What? Outfit? No, of course not, I - I didn’t even notice until you pointed it out!” she regained herself enough to say, moving out of the doorway to let him through. “Although now that you mention it...”
“It’s a little silly looking.” Jeremy agreed, with that self-deprecating yet confident shrug that she just knew Xavier was going to inherit. “It’s kind of a funny story, actually - my mom’s been after me to pad my college resume a little, and then last week this crazy guitar client I had offered to give me some free lessons in evil. So I figured, hey, they tell you to be well-rounded. What’s less like being a band-member than villainy, right?”
“So, you’re... dressed evilly?” Candace clarified.
“Hah, yeah, that’s the idea.” Jeremy agreed. “I thought I’d just be evil in my spare time, but my teacher says it’s all about developing a persona. He recommended labcoats, but those really just say ‘pharmacist’ to me, you know?”
“Yeah, I really think this works better.” Candace agreed. She didn’t think he looked silly at all. Evil, it turned out, worked well on Jeremy. Especially if evil came in the form of black leather.
“I’ve got some other homework to get done before my next lesson this evening.” Jeremy admitted. “I brought it along. I figured I could multitask.” and then, looking a little anxious that Candace might be offended, he ushered her into the kitchen and onto the next topic. “So what’re we making today?”
He was briefly interrupted by Phineas and Ferb entering the kitchen through the backdoor. Isabella could be seen behind them through the glass panels, waiting under the tree.
“What are you two doing??” Candace demanded, trying not to get too shrill.
“Hey Candace, hey Jeremy!” Phineas greeted them, while Ferb gave a polite nod. “We’re gonna grab our skis, Isabella says that Danville Ski Resort is having a half-off day on their summer slopes!”
Just as Candace allowed that to sink in, and began to hope that for once her date might be relatively uninterrupted, Ferb blinked, and pointed at Jeremy’s backpack.
“Oh, hey!” Phineas exclaimed, looking interested. “Is that a duplicator ray I see?”
“A duplicatinator, actually... at least according to the title on the blueprint.” Candace rolled her eyes and gave up, turning to pull empanada ingredients out of the cupboards. Behind her, the nerd-fest wound down and her brothers could be heard leaving the kitchen.
“So what’re we making?” Jeremy asked again, his attention brought back to the task at hand.
“Empenadas... only I can’t find the beans.” Candace responded, pulling a can out and waving it at him in demonstration. “I must have forgotten to put them on the list, we’ve only got one can!” It seemed like no matter how much preparation she put in, every day of her entire summer had gone disastrously. Sometimes not even the sight of her almost-boyfriend in tight leather pants made up for it.
“Hey, relax, no problem!” Jeremy assured her. He pulled the duplicatinator back out of his bag. “I’m not sure how many duplicates this thing gives at one time, but it should be more than enough for our cooking project.”
Moments later, watching her brothers ski down the enormous mountain of beans that had taken over their house and backyard, Candace was hit with the strangest sensation that she should have seen this coming.