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Treasures

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Everyone knows that Ferb is the quiet one, that Phineas speaks for both brothers. It's a running joke between them that Ferb prefers to be thought of as a 'Man of Action', deeds speaking far more than words.

It's what's got him in this predicament anyway.

Father, bless him, had given an old woman a drink of water from a well on a hot summer's day. As a thank you, the old woman had re-appeared the day of Ferb's birth and blessed Ferb that whenever he spoke, flowers and jewels fell from his lips.

Roses have thorns. Jewels have edges. To an infant, this was a torture worse than teething.

Mum tried to kill him as a baby, unable to put up with his screams of pain. His only memory of her was the feeling of suffocation, looking up into a pair of angry dark eyes. She disappeared after that, the only trace of where she might have gone was a cryptic off-handed comment Father once made that she had gone down a well.

As a toddler, it was enough to make him realise that something was wrong with him, the way that people would stare at him or talk in hushed whispers around him. Occasionally, people would trip him to make him cry out and spill gems that they'd greedily gather up.

Ferb stopped talking entirely, retreating inside of himself.

Afraid for him, Father moved them out of England and to the promise of freedom in America.

Or at least the promise that it was less likely that fairy tales came true in the New Country.

Father met Linda, who introduced them to her children, Candace and Phineas. Candace thought his silence was kind of strange, but Phineas didn't have a problem with it, happy to have someone to go on adventures with, who liked to build and explore as much as he did.

Still, it took six months for Ferb to work up the courage to just say hello, a bright golden topaz falling from his mouth. He'd clapped his hands over his mouth,the taste of roses filling his tongue. Phineas had looked at him with wide eyes, then glanced down at the stone that was the size of a fingernail, then back up at Ferb.

Phineas picked up the stone, stuck it in the front pocket of Ferb's overalls, and kept talking about what they were going to do today.

After that, Ferb started speaking more often, just around Phineas, and only when they were alone. The sore throat and scratched gums afterwards was worth the grin on Phineas face at having a real conversation, instead of just gesturing.

And Phineas always gave him the jewels afterwards, which he put in a wood chest the size of a large shoebox under the bed.

The gems were Ferb's, according to Phineas. Father often warned him that people would try to use him if they discovered his ability and he was happy to find someone who cared about him, instead of the rocks and flowers.

It was Phineas who came up with the idea that instead of letting the gems and flowers fall, to shove them to the side of his mouth. He could feel them form on his tongue, it was a moment's work to tuck it into his cheek, then spit them out once he'd finished his sentence. People thought the slight slurring was just part of his accent, and he didn't need to fear speaking quite as much, but caution still left him mute most of the time.

A year later, Father announced his intention to marry Linda. A tiny flawless glowing diamond fell from Ferb's mouth at his exhalation of delight. He caught it, cradling the diamond in the curve of his palm, happy for the first time for his curse-blessing. He put the diamond in his front pocket and ran to his room, pulling out the chest. He scattered gemstones everywhere as he collected all the brilliant white pearls in the box, scooping them up and shoving them in his pockets.

He ran back, finding his new family looking worried at his sudden departure. He beckoned his new Mom down to his level, motioning for her to hold out her hands. Looking worried, she did so and Ferb piled the pearls up in her hands, dozens of them spilling over her fingers and on to the floor.

"Ferb!" She protested, eyes wide in amazement. "I... I can't possibly take these! It's too much, it's a small fortune!"

He shook his head as Phineas scrambled to pick up the fallen ones around them. "For you." He said, cupping her hands in his small ones, a vivid pink rose dropping on top of the pile of pearls.

Ferb turned and pulled out the diamond, handing it to Father. "For the ring." He said, daffodils and apple green jade falling out of his mouth.

Father took the diamond, staring at it with round eyes. "Are you sure?" Father asked, throat tight. It was worth a lot more than Father could afford to buy. Ferb nodded back, reaching out and finding Phineas, wrapping an arm around his best friend, soon to be brother.

There were more important things than gems.

"If you don't mind, Darling." Father said, his eyes tearing up. "We need to get you a new engagement ring. I believe I have a Victorian ring that would be the perfect setting for this."

Ferb ended up laughing two rose quartz hearts and an amethyst at Mom and Candace's surprised faces. He gave them to Candace, who was feeling left out.

Moving in together was both fun and stressful, where there had only been himself and Father for years, suddenly there were three other people. Four others, once they got Perry. The box under his bed grew too small for all the stones and he got many new boxes, flipping through books on rocks and gemology as Phineas helped him divide them up.

Candace got the pink sapphires, the rose quartz, amethyst, clear quartz, some of the various colours of topaz, garnets and rubies. Mom got the gold and blue topaz, pearls, blue sapphires, lapis lazuli, and smokey quartz. Father had peridot, emeralds and the jade. Perry's box contained turquoise, malachite, eagle eye, blood stone, opals, and and an assortment of semi-precious stones.

Phineas' box contained what ever caught his eye, a bright multi coloured assortment of various stones that were wide and varied. Ferb slipped the larger stones and some of the diamonds into Phineas' box, something he was sure that Phineas was aware of, but never called him on it.

Treasures for the treasured people in his life.

When the boxes under the bed got too large to easily manage, Father takes him to the bank and gets him a vault box or two. He saves a few pieces for each family member and locked the others away, starting fresh.

It takes him about a year to fill them all, with the way his family makes him laugh.

He's glad for it, he sells a few of the jewels he doesn't mind parting a few with here and there, and that is what funds their Big Ideas. They have enough rubies for lasers, diamonds for computer data storage, and flowers to constantly delight Mom and Candace with.

Ferb sometimes wishes that his gift was a bit more useful, coughing up rare metals instead of minerals. Titanium or gold would come in handy occasionally, but all in all he doesn't mind it.

He hates the smell of roses, the inside of his mouth is constantly cut up, and he can't say anything more than a sentence without coughing up a jewel larger than the Hope Diamond.

But he's got a family who loves him, and a best friend that he goes on adventures with, and that's worth more than all the flowers and precious jewels he could ever cough up.

-fin-