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There may have been a whole lot of bad days in the past, but one thing is sure: today – today is the worst day of your life.

It’s the worst day for many reasons, like your bad days always are. Unlike most of the rest of them, though, it’s not your worries about Jeremy, or even yet another failed attempt to bust your brothers. Mainly, it’s just the fact that you’re a girl. Both on the inside, and on the outside.

At least, you were last night.

Incidentally, you also went to bed in your own room, hugging Ducky Momo tightly to your chest, muttering angry things into the darkness of your room. Angry because, even though you didn’t do anything wrong, somehow Mom and Dad got the idea that the intimate get-together was a ‘party’, even after you insisted that it wasn’t. And then they grounded you.

What are you supposed to do while grounded, exactly? There are things you have to do – important things, too! Phineas and Ferb won’t bust themselves, after all. (You know they won’t – you’ve tried.) You’ve already got a date with Jeremy lined up for next Saturday, too – that’s also important. And Stacy’s gonna want do stuff, you’re well aware.

But no, somehow, the one time you’re even vaguely responsible for something getting even the littlest bit out of hand, you get instantly grounded for a week. Did your brothers get in trouble for that tower to the Moon, or the time they literally brought your future self back to meet you? No, no, of course not. And the stupid Mysterious Force did nothing to protect you.

All you can really do is hope that maybe Mom and Dad’ll, like, forget they grounded you or something, but that’s… not gonna happen, is it?

How come everything works out for your brothers, but it just seems like it all backfires and explodes the second you touch anything? What is the logic there? Not that ‘logic’ seems to be all it’s cracked up to be in your life anyhow. All you have to do is look out in the backyard every day to see that.

Even so, despite the fact that you’ve been trying and failing to bust those two all summer so far, something about you being the one who got in trouble is really just too much to handle. It’s not like you can really do anything about the Mysterious Force, it kinda just… does whatever it feels like? At least, if there’s a way to get it to help you – or least stop protecting your brothers – you haven’t found it yet.

Not that you should have to deal with this at all. Do other older sisters have to deal with this kinda thing? Not hardly. Stacy’s got Ginger, after all. Why can’t your brothers be more like Ginger? Ginger doesn’t build… build freakin’ giant contraptions of doom and destruction or whatever. You’re about ready to chop off your own arm, if it’ll just get Phineas and Ferb to stop, but you know well enough that you could chop them both off and eat them, and those two would never stop, not ever, not for anything.

Because nothing ever works out for you.

And, of course, everything works out for your brothers. Literally everything. Phineas is going to turn twelve this year, and as far back as you can remember, you’ve pretty much never seen him fail, at least not more than little bitty things that, ultimately, don’t matter that much because he always gets what he wants anyhow.

You? You have to work and fight and suffer for every single good thing that happens to you. Him? All he gets are teeny weeny little speedbumps that, really, wouldn’t even slow down a wheelchair. It’s just not fair – he gets all the luck, and the friends, and the everything else, and what do you get? A long neck?

Well, it is freakishly long. It’s a wonder that Jeremy thinks you’re pretty at all because of it. Sometimes you do wonder if he’s just saying that… he would be nice enough to do that, probably, even if he thought it was hideous.

You swallow hard, trying not to fall too hard into even more disturbing thoughts – there are enough on your plate as it is right now. Like the fact that your life is practically coming apart at the seams, and that not only are you grounded, for some undetermined length of time that is probably gonna a week, based on last time, you’re grounded for something you didn’t even do, not this time.

And, of course, it wasn’t your brothers either, because the one time Mom sees anything they’ve done, it’s not even really their fault either… you’re not sure who’s fault it is, exactly, but one thing’s for sure: it’s not yours, and you shouldn’t be grounded over it.

Yet, here you are, and there your brothers are, and if that doesn’t say something about the way things work around here, you’re not sure what does.

If only you had an ounce of the kind of good luck Phineas seems to get heaped at his feet every single day, heck, there’d be just about nothing you couldn’t do? You work way harder for things than he does, that’s for sure. If you could just get ahold, somehow, of his luck – everything would be yours. They’d definitely be busted, that’s for sure. Since when has the Mysterious Force ever picked on anyone but you anyway?

But no, you’re you, and so you get to suffer endlessly – at the Mysterious Force, at Jeremy’s little sister, at your brother’s inventions. Even the thoughts of it are quite enough to send shivers down your spine, and you’re already dreading what tomorrow might bring.

Then again, you are grounded.

Really, at the end of the day, it just isn’t fair, and that’s the best way you know to put it. If, for just one freakin’ day, you could get the kind of luck and good fortune that your brothers get, you could do so much.

Ducky Momo doesn’t say anything back any of your complaints, of course, but he stares at you with that plaintive face that, despite the fact you can barely see it in the darkness, somehow makes you feel a little better. Ducky Momo has a way of doing that, though, so you’re not surprised.

If only he could do more than provide mute comfort. If only – but your entire life so far has been ‘if only’, hasn’t it? Frankly, as you snuggle deeper under the covers and adjust your pajamas to get that wrinkled bit out from beneath your spine, you expect nothing less by now.

Which is the reason why, when your eyes pop open the next morning, you’re so out of your element that it takes some time for you to even realize what’s going on. Why’d you wake up before your alarm went off anyway? Or maybe it’s later – did you sleep through it again? Really, you ought to change to something that you know will wake you up. Maybe your brother’s annoying catchphrase.

“I know what we’re going to do today,” you mutter under your breath, scowling, dragging yourself to a sitting position in bed.

...and now you’re in your brother’s bed. Somehow.

Okay, what is going on here? Definitely in Phineas’ bed – but then were in the heck is Phineas, anyway? Instinctively, you clench your fists. Somebody is getting busted for this, right here, right now. Slamming pies into your face is one thing, but nobody moves you out of your own bed when you’re sleeping.

You shove Phineas’ covers aside, take one step out onto the bedroom floor – and promptly all the breath in your lungs lurches out of you like you’ve been punched in the stomach again, and you slip on something or the other, tumbling painfully to the floor in a pile of elbows and knees.

You’re not wearing your own pajamas anymore. There are your brother’s pajamas. But that’s not it, either. Your heart is pounding as you reach up and gingerly feel your own face. What you feel is… not your own face. You’re fairly certain your own nose isn’t that large, and it isn’t shaped like that either. Running your tongue over the back of your teeth, there’s a conspicuous lack of the two permanent retainers left over from when you had your braces out.

Something is very, very wrong, and think you know what’s happened, even before you suddenly get the idea to just look in the mirror. It’s only right across the room – all you really have to do is turn your head a little bit.

It’s not your face that looks back.

“PHINEAS!” you shout on instinct, a familiar panic seizing your body. Your voice sounds strange even to your own ears, mostly your brother’s but also somehow… not quite. Belatedly, you also realize that in this case, you’ve essentially just yelled for yourself.

Because, somehow, you’ve woken up in your littlest brother’s body, this morning. It’s not even seven, according to the clock – you’re still not sure how you woke up this early – and the day is already ruined. Thankfully, you have two brothers.

As quickly as you can, you cross the bedroom floor and grab ahold of Ferb’s arms, shaking vigorously. “Ferb! Ferb! Boy, you wake up right now, or I swear I’m going to drag you out onto this floor!”

He blinks, like, one time, but doesn’t move. You would drag him out onto the floor, too, but he’s a lot heavier than you remember. Grabbing the bottom of the bedcovers, you whisk them off, hurling them into a heap on the floor. Something heavy hits the floor too, with a muffled thump.

Oh – it’s the meat brick, looking stupidly dazed as always. How do your brothers sleep with that smelly thing, anyway?

Doesn’t matter. Ferb is waking up right now, darnit, whether he wants to or not, because you’re his older sister, and you said so! And also because, hoo boy, do he and Phineas have some explaining to do. This is – this is too far. (And where is Phineas, anyway?)

“Get up,” you growl in your best threatening tone, trying to ignore the fact that it falls fairly flat with your brother’s voice behind it. Also trying to ignore the fact that you are your brother. Because none of this is happening, not on your watch. “I swear, Ferb, you lazy twerp, I’m going to hurt you if you-”

You stop midway through the sentence, abruptly realizing that he is awake – awake and staring at you, in that way he does. So is Perry, for that matter, but you couldn’t care less about the platypus right now.

“Well?” you demand, putting your hands on your hips. “Care to explain yourself?” Actually, on second thought, you really don’t care what explanation he might have. Maybe you will later, when you get your own body again, but not right now. “Get your behind out of this bed right now,” you order, trying to channel just as much of your oldest-sibling-authority as you can. “And do your little magic trick or whatever it is you and Phineas do, and change me back, right now. Or so help me, I will…” You’re not sure what you’ll do, not exactly, but it’ll be something. Something bad, so he’d definitely better change you back right away.

Instead, though, he does absolutely nothing. As usual. Well, he did blink, like, once or twice, but he knows good and well that you can’t read his mind the way your brother does.

Only a moment too late do you realize it – that he thinks you’re Phineas. Which you are decidely not, despite whatever… whatever waking up in his body meant, which obviously is nothing.

“You’ve gotta be kidding me,” you snap, your voice short with irritation. “Do you really think I’m Phineas? No! Sheesh – surely you remember what happened with me and Perry, what was it, last month? With those teleporting things?” You’re still a little bit sour on that one. Being fed by your boyfriend is fine – and kind of adorable, if you think about it – but being fed worms and insect larvae, all while Mom showed him those stupid pictures of you in diapers as a baby? No thanks. (You really ought to sneak those pictures out of there one day and, like, burn them or something.)

“Candace?” your brother says – finally saying something, even if it’s nothing helpful at all.

“Yes, Candace,” you retort. “Who else do you think it is? No, no, I don’t care. Just get me back, you hear? And do it right now, too. I would much rather be grounded than be… Phineas, I guess?”

Ferb blinks at you, not saying anything, and it’s all you can do to not storm off right now. It’s only the fact that he’s the only one who can fix all this that keeps you from walking out and slamming the bedroom door behind you. Why does it have to be Ferb anyway – at least if it was your other brother, he’d actually talk to you about things. Instead of just sitting there like a rock.

Sighing, you rapidly tap your bare foot on the floor. “Are you waiting for, like, a sign or something?” you burst, unable to contain it any longer. “’cause I’ll give you one right now, and I promise you you won’t like it, either!” He can fix this, can’t he?

Eh, of course he can. What can’t your brothers do, after all? That’s hardly a surprise by this point. Summer’s only a little more than halfway over by now, and it’s already been the longest one of your life.

“Where is Phineas?” Ferb suddenly asks, dropping the question like you and he were having an intense discussion – like you, of all people, would know.

“Well, I certainly don’t know,” you spit back, crossing your arms in front of your chest. “Oh, wait, I do Huh, would you look at that? Right here. Because I’m him, even though I shouldn’t be – and you’re the one who’s gonna do something about that.” You hesitate for a moment, still not very comforted by the fact that he’s hardly moved aside from propping himself up on his elbow as he stares at you like you’re some kind of freak. “Right?”

He doesn’t say anything – of course, talking to Ferb is about impossible anyway – but just reaches out to you instead. Or rather, past you, as he continues pointing while you sidestep to avoid letting him touch you...r body. Current body, even, because it’s not certainly not yours, wherever yours is right-

All at once the realization stabs you in the gut, and for the second time this morning, you’re feeling like you just cannot breathe. ‘Where’s Phineas’ - where Ferb is pointing, which is, of course, in the direction of… your room.

The room where you went to sleep so angrily last night.

Your eyes narrow.

Please no.

It hadn’t even occurred to you, honestly, even though given what happened with Perry earlier on in the summer, maybe you should’ve seen it coming. Suddenly whatever Ferb was going to say – or not say, knowing him – seems considerably less important, and you’re possessed with a burning sort of anger mixed with equal parts of fear and morbid curiousity.

Now you do storm out of your brothers’ bedroom, and you do slam the door behind you, because darnit, it feels good and who’s going to stop you anyway? Your own bedroom door is just a few feet down the hall, and though you’re not used to having to reach up to get at the doorknob, that isn’t going to stop you – not now.

The instant the door swings open, though, you freeze, catching a glimpse of your bed. Of yourself sleeping on it, one of your hands dangling limply over the side of the mattress as you snore loudly.

“PHINEAS!” you yell again, on instinct, springing forwards and grabbing ahold of the hanging hand, yanking on it as hard as you can. It’s considerably heavier than you remember being – you’re not getting fat, are you? – but you still manage to pull until your own head and shoulders appear over the side of the bed, your orange hair hanging down messily in front of your face as you slowly blink and then yawn loudly.

The urge to smack yourself – your actual body – right across the face is strong right now, and especially if it turns that it is your brother in there, you’re not sure if you’ll be able to resist that urge for long.

“Up! Up! Up!” you settle for exclaiming instead, shaking the hand and arm you’re still hanging onto vigorously. “Now, or I swear I will smack you into next week!” You’ve never wanted to see yourself smacked quite so much – it is a rather strange feeling.

You – your body, rather – yawns again, as if you have all the time in the world for that sort of thing. Why is everyone in slow motion this morning anyway? You’re the one who woke up way earlier than normal, and yet here you are, the only one who’s trying to get anything done at all.

“Good morning,” you hear your own voice come, still thick with drowsiness. “Phin-” An awkward pause in the middle of the word, and you move your hands back to your hips again, rolling your eyes. “Wait, what? Ferb, I – I think something’s… a little strange? Whoa. Am I dreaming or something?”

“Oh, something has gone very strange,” you respond. “And trust me, no one wishes they were dreaming right now more than I do. But I’m not, and you’re not, so what you’re gonna do is get yourself up out of my bed this instant and also out of my body while you’re at it. Do you hear me?”

Phineas and Ferb kind of… never listen to you anyway, but you’re hoping that if you just bluff like you do every day, they’ll do what you say which they… don’t do every day, no, but this – this is different. They have to listen to you on this, surely.

“I’m what now?” Phineas-in-your-body pulls himself into a sitting position on the bed – your bed, even. He looks down at you, then down at his own hands – which, again, are technically your hands. Reaching up, he runs his hands through his hair with a sort of shell-shocked expression as he stares into your vanity mirror. “Whoa. I’m – I’m you. I mean, I’m still me, obviously, but I’m you!”

“Yes.” You wonder whether he can even hear the sarcasm in your voice, and if he hears it, if he even understands it at all. Being in your body isn’t going to change his mind, though, so you’re betting on ‘no’. “I’m glad you’ve noticed. Wow, what a shocking surprise it must be.” You tap your foot impatiently on the carpet. “Now if you don’t mind, you and Ferb-” you jerk your thumb back in the direction of the boys’ bedroom “-have a lot of work to do fixing this. And you’d better get on it, too, or I swear I will find something to bust your for, somehow.”

Phineas isn’t even listening, though. You can tell by the way he’s staring off into space, not paying you any mind at all.

“This is so cool,” her murmurs under his breath, looking down at his hands as if he’s never seen your hands before in his life. Flinging his legs out over the side of the bed, he goes to stand, proceeding to stagger dramatically across the room and stumble into the wall. Leaning on it, he turns back to you. “Whoa! I’m so tall now! Check it out! What is this, like six feet or something? Look at me! Hang on, lemme get my balance – this is awesome. Hey down there, short stuff!”

You grit your teeth and clench your fists, desperately willing yourself to not say something you’ll regret. “Yes,” you hiss out instead. “So very tall, you are. Don’t forget you’re tall because you’re in my b- HEY!”

He’s suddenly put his hands under your arms and lifted you clear up off the ground in a single motion, a stupid grin on his face. “Check out how strong I am! I can just go, like, whoop, and up you go! Wow, this is so neat! Where’s Ferb anyway?”

“It is not neat!” you snap, kicking at the air, struggling to wriggle out of his grip. “You put me down right now, you hear! Down! Down!” He plunks you down on your bed, crossing the room to stare at his reflection in your vanity mirror from about two inches away.

“How did this even happen?” he asks, suddenly turning back to you.

Sliding off your bed and back onto the floor with a thump – it’s farther down than you remembered – you cross your arms again. “That’s what you’re supposed to know. You’re the resident genius, aren’t you?” He’d better not be hoping that you know, or thinking that you had anything at all to do with this. More importantly, he’d better know how to fix this, too. You have a life, and of all the things that it does involve, it most certainly does not involve being your own little brother.

“I…” he reaches up and scratches the top of his head, then glances over at the bedroom’s entrance. “Oh! Ferb! Have you seen what happened to-”

“He knows,” you interrupt flatly, shooting a glare at your other brother. “As he would, since, you know, I woke up in your bed this morning.” But that doesn’t matter – at least, it isn’t what matters most right now. The most important thing is getting your two brothers actually do something useful for once and get you back to your own body. If they can do that, then maybe you’ll even let the whole ‘waking up in the wrong bed’ thing slide.

You really are the best big sister in that way.

“Oh, cool,” Phineas beams, even as you continue glaring at him. “Check it out Ferb, have you seen how thall I am – how strong I am? I can pick up Candace like it’s nothing, I mean, she’s in my body, but it’s so light – wait, Candace, is that how you always feel?”

You deadpan. “I have picked you up before, you know that, right? It’s not hard.”

“She also wrestled that alligator,” Ferb comments, finally saying something, even though it’s hardly helpful in this situation. But you did do that, after all, so you nod anyway.

“Oh, yeah, I’d forgotten about that,” Phineas says thoughtfully, pushing his hair out of his face with a sort of flippant carelessness that makes you cringe. He’s probably not planning on brushing it either, is he? Not that it matters, because you fully intend to be back in your own body, with your own hair, long before that ever becomes a problem. “That was so cool, too. And now I could do it, if I wanted. I mean, have you seen how thall I am? I feel like I’m standing up on stilts. Look at me thrying tho walk!” He sticks out both arms and takes several staggering steps, before stopping to laugh as if there’s just all the time in the world for playing around. Maybe you ought to remind him that, no, no there really isn’t. “Crazy, right? I wonder if-”

Okay, now you’ve had quite enough. “You wanna know what’s really crazy?” You’re almost shouting by now. “The fact that, right now, my entire day is ruined because I had to wake up at the freakin’ buttcrack of dawn to find out that you, just, switched our bodies for some reason? I don’t care why, either, just change me back right now, you hear?”

It feels sort of strange to try and intimidate someone who’s towering up almost twice your height. It’s been a long time since anyone has been more than a few inches taller you, so having to actually look up like you’re having to now… you don’t like it, not really.

Phineas, of course, hardly seems perturbed in the slightest, not by your words or warnings or even the fact that he’s literally in your body. You’ve often wondered if he knows how to take anything seriously. It seems that the answer is no, no he does not.

What else is new?

“That’s thrue,” Phineas muses. He taps the bottom of his chin and his face lights up. “Ferb, I know what we’re going tho do thoday – thoday?” He grimaces for a moment. “Today.” Turning back to look into the vanity mirror, he opens his mouth wide and studies his reflection intently for a second or two. “Oh, Candace, it’s your retainers. I’d forgotten you had them. Guess I’ll have to get used tho thalking with ‘em stuck to back of my theeth. Neat.”

“Yes, absolutely enthralling,” you drawl. “Because I’m sure my retainers are just the whole key to this thing, aren’t they? They’re what’s gonna switch us back, hmm? You can color me surprised at that one.”

You can feel Ferb staring at you – from right at your eye-level, too, which is more disconcerting than it has any right to be – but your words fly right over Phineas’ head. As they would, of course.

“No, I don’t think there’s any connection there,” he brushes you off carelessly. “Did you do this Ferb? ‘cause I know I wasn’t doing anything last night that could’ve feasibly made us, you know, switch bodies and all.”

Ferb shakes his head, and you throw your arms up in exasperation. “Oh, great! Great! Great! So you’re telling me that only am I stuck in my nerdy brother’s body, but no one even seems to know how it happened! This – this is definitely how I wanted to start today, yeah! Boy, isn’t everything just going wonderfully so far!”

Phineas frowns. “Don’t worry, Candace. We’ll figure it out – it can’t be too hard, right Ferb? I’m thinking something like a teleportation matrix or… eh, something of that sort ought to the trick. Maybe harness some of that good old spooky action at a distance, if you know what I’m saying?

“No,” you shoot back, glaring as hard as you can. “No I do not know what you’re saying, nor do I care to. What I care about right now is getting back in my own freaking body! What’s so hard to understand about this?! Get a move on, will you?” Really, you have no idea why everyone seems to be dragging their feet this morning with doing anything. Phineas and Ferb are always up bright and early, forcing you to get up equally early or miss perfectly good busting opportunities. Busting is more important than sleep, of course, but you would appreciate the latter too, and they just don’t seem to get that.

Blinking once or twice, Phineas yawns again, and stretches until you can just about hear his back popping. “Wow. I’m drowsy this morning – and it’s past seven o’clock too. I am behind this morning, aren’t I?”

“Finally,” you mutter.

“Don’t worry, Candace,” he continues. “We’ll just get into day-clothes and eat breakfast, and then head out first thing into the backyard and get right on it. It’s what we’re doing thoday, after all.”

You can feel your eyes open wider as a thought pops into your head. Day-clothes. Oh, crud. This is… not how you intended to start this day, and it just keeps getting worse, too. There is no way you’re having your own little brother see you in your underwear – even if it’s ‘just’ your body without your mind. Nor do you particularly want to see him in his underwear either. “Yeah, that changing thing,” you decide firmly, crossing your arms and shaking your head. “Let’s not do that, you hear? Today is just going to be a pajama day – and it’s going to be that way until you two get us switched back.”

Phineas tilts his head. “Oh, right, I… hadn’t thought of that. Hmm. Well, I suppose pajama day works for me anyway.” He grins. “I don’t think anyone else’ll mind, given the circumstances, you know?”

“This isn’t a joke, Phineas,” you growl. “And you are going to be so busted, too, you hear me?” The moment they switch you back, of course. You’re not… really confident in the Mysterious Force to not utterly screw you over after last night, and definitely don’t want anything happening to make an already bad situation worse somehow. It’s not clear how this could get worse, really, but adding the Force to the mix will manage it somehow, you know perfectly well from experience.

First, they switch you back. Then, you bust them. Third, well, you’re not quite sure what you’ll do after that. You don’t usually get that far. Maybe Jeremy will be so impressed he’ll propose to you on the spot or something. That’d be nice. Or Mom and Dad will at least give you more allowance every week. That’d be nice, too.

“Right.” Phineas nods, then blinks, struggling to hold back a yawn. “Wow. I definitely need some breakfast in me anyway. I feel like I only just got to sleep or something. Eating something might help… get back in the game, you know? And then we’ll be ready to rock and roll and get to solving this mystery.”

He smiles in what is… probably meant to some sort of vaguely cheerful gesture, but it really doesn’t lift your spirits at all. Not when you’re too busy realizing that your brother just called something a ‘mystery’, which… well, you’re not sure what that means for you, specifically, but you’re quite sure that you don’t want to find out, either.

Still, you grudgingly follow him and Ferb out of your room, because what else can you do by this point? Running to try and show Mom would just bring the Force into things and screw things up even more. You’ve already tried threatening and intimidating and everything else you know from being an older sister, but to no avail.

Maybe it’s worth it to just… ask. You’re not very hopeful for the idea, but it’s not like you’ve got many options left, anyway. Anything would be worth it – literally anything – to just get out of brother’s body, back where you belong. “Why can’t you guys just, I don’t know, skip breakfast or something?” you almost plead. “Don’t you – isn’t that a thing you do? Why today do you suddenly feel the need to drag your feet like this?” You clench your fist and grit your teeth, growing steadily more frustrated at your brothers and their ‘cooperation’ skills that they apparently must have learned from a literal donkey.

Phineas doesn’t stop, though, not even for a second – not even to so much as look at you as he starts walking away. “I would, sis, but I’m really feeling sluggish right now for some reason, and I wanna be on top of the game when we’re gonna be having to mess with both of our minds, you know?” He staggers and catches himself on doorjamb, sticking out his arms wildly and making an absolute fool of himself.

You snort in disbelief. “Right. Because you – you the one who gets up at the… whenever you wake up, like, six or seven or whatever. Whenever you get up! I don’t know – I wouldn’t, because I’m still sleeping! You get the point!” He doesn’t get the point, you know, but it doesn’t matter and you give up anyway. Ferb stares at you weirdly, but he stares at everyone weirdly. It’s like his thing.

“We’ll be quick,” Phineas promises, using the wall of the hall as support as he awkwardly moves step by step towards the stairs. “I also need the practice walking, apparently. Is it always this hard being so thall? I feel like I’m so far away from the ground and it’s making it really hard to catch my- WHOA!”

He’d been walking as he rambled, or at least trying to walk and sticking both his arms straight out like like he was an acrobat crossing a high-wire. And then he steps out over the first stair down and you’re only able to catch a fleeting glimpse of his eyes widening when his foot flies out from under him.

You instinctively cringe at the series of crashes that cascade through the air afterwards, ending with a particularly loud thump and sound of your brother groaning from the foot of the stairs.

“Owww,” he moans, as you look over the edge of the staircase and see him lying crumpled at the bottom of the landing, grimacing as he rubs his shin. “I really have to get better at balancing. That hurt.”

“Welcome to my world,” you snort, though you still decide to hang onto the handrail and walk a little slower as you follow him down. “Doesn’t feel too great, does it?” That’s one thing you won’t miss about being in your body, at least. Phineas can take all the tumbles he wants, as far as you’re concerned.

Okay, maybe you feel a little sorry for him, as you watch him grab onto the banister and slowly pull himself back to his feet. There’s a wince on his face while he rubs his rear end, and you’re well enough acquainted with the experience to know how much it actually does hurt. Still, you don’t feel that bad. It’s not like it happens to him all the time, after all. You, on the other hand – heck, you’d probably run out fingers before you made it to last week if you started counting all the times you’ve been pushed or shoved or dragged or squeezed or pulled through or down or into places – even places where you’d have thought you wouldn’t fit inside in the first place.

None of that certainly feels any good, but you manage, and you’ve never let it stop you before. Phineas’ll be fine as long as he stops being such a wimp about it.

Ferb stares at you again as you ignore Phineas to walk past him, but you honestly don’t care one way or the other, even though the fact that he’s… actually probably an inch or two taller than you are continues to make it more uncomfortable than it has any right to be. It feels almost like he’s judging you, but when you look back over your shoulder at him, he’s busy helping Phineas balance on his own again and not paying you any mind at all.

Whatever. He never pays you any mind anyway.

At least you have a plan. Namely, eat breakfast – because you are hungry – and then wait for your brothers to fix all this mess. Hopefully it won’t take too long, because although you hadn’t had anything really specific planned for today, you do not want to be in your little brother’s body if Stacy – or heaven forbid, Jeremy – comes over for some reason.

And then your mother appears in the kitchen doorway behind your brothers, and you’re suddenly also reminded that you’re grounded, too.

Or rather, that your brother is grounded… because he’s the one in your body, of course.

Well, you hadn’t intended on leaving the house anyway, not until your brothers get this fixed. You certainly don’t want anyone seeing you like this – at least not anyone who matters. Stacy or Jeremy, really. There’s… uh, well, you have lots of friends, they just… you don’t… you do have lots of friends. Like Jenny! And, uh, that one girl from school. Well, she does like to shove your face into water fountains a lot and call you ‘Carrot Top’, but she’s still… someone, right?

She seeks you out, at least. There’s something there, you’re positive of it.

On second thought, though, maybe you’re thankful that summer vacation lasts as long as it does here in the Tri-State Area. One hundred and four days! And it usually feels like a lot longer anyway.

“’morning, everyone,” Mom says casually, opening the refrigerator. You grunt something in response, not even sure what you’re saying yourself as you cross the kitchen to fetch the cereal from the cupboard. You can hear your brothers being their annoyingly energetic selves already from behind you, even as you realize that the cereal is now too high on the shelf for you to reach and you’re forced to drag your brothers’ stepstool across the kitchen just to get at it.

Embarrassing.

“Wow, you sure are chipper this morning, Candace,” Mom comments. “Feeling any differently about last night, perhaps?”

“Not really, no,” you mutter, walking back across the kitchen and pulling out your chair. “Mostly just wondering how you’re somehow not gonna notice that I’m in…” Oh. Whoops.

Mom’s raising an eyebrow now, staring at you like you’ve just grown a third eye or something. You just pour your cereal and stare hard into it as you begin shoveling it into your mouth, and she eventually stops and turns back to your brothers. “Right. Well, Candace, your father and I were discussing appropriate punishments after happened last night and-”

“You know, Mom, it really wasn’t her fault, like I said before” Phineas suddenly chimes in. It’s enough to make you stop chewing your mouthful of cereal and look over at him in mild surprise. You hadn’t really thought that he cared all that much about what happened to you, really. It’s not like you being grounded would keep him and Ferb away from their precious projects, after all – heck, it might even help them, because being grounded and unable to leave the house… well, that would also make it very hard for you to actually bust them – as if that needed to be any harder, right?

Mom stops midsentence, staring at Phineas, now. “Her fault? What’s this, now? Candace… please, don’t start with me on this. I’ve got a very busy day planned today and I don’t have time for this, alright? I’ve gotta leave in a few minutes already or I’m gonna be late for – just listen to me, okay, hon? Your father and I love you very much, alright?”

“No, wait, Mom,” Phineas protests. “I’m not Ca-ow!”

He stops abruptly as you kick him with all your might squarely in the shin, glaring just as hard as you can without actually scrunching your face so much that Mom notices what you’re doing.

Luckily, Phineas seems to take the hint (for once in his life). Either that, or he’s in too much pain rubbing the spot on his shin where you kicked him to keep talking. Whichever one – they both work for you, as long as he just shuts up. You’re all for getting both him and Ferb busted, of course, but don’t feel particularly keen on trying that when it would basically just be asking for the Mysterious Force to somehow up and make your body disappear. And that is the last thing you need right now.

No, a much better idea is to simply wait until you’re switched back, and then bust the boys for whatever machine or crazy insane gadget they’re gonna do the switching with. It’ll probably be big and super-complicated and dangerous and they’ll definitely be so busted for it, too.

But they have to fix you first – you can’t, well, heck, you don’t wanna have to go through these hours until they fix it, much less a full day or whatever else might happen if you don’t let them take care of it first.

You continue eating disinterestedly as Mom resumes talking to Phineas – thinking she’s talking to you, though, which technically means that you’re not actually the one grounded? Not that it matters, because Phineas is definitely leaving this house, grounded or no, because he’s got things to fix, and you don’t intend to stay in his body any longer than you have to.

“Now, Candace,” she’s saying. “I know you probably think we were unfair last night, but you have to trust me when I say we only want the best for you as parents. And your father will tell you the same thing when he finishes getting ready for work and comes in here, I know. And we did talk to your brothers last night, too, to get both sides of the story, and while they did… make it clear that it was perhaps not as much of your fault as we’d at first presumed, it was still you who got the whole thing started, wasn’t it? We did say ‘no parties’, after all. I know he’s your boyfriend and you want to impress him, but is it really that hard to tell Jeremy no when he asks for something we’ve explicitly forbidden you to have?”

You choke on a mouthful of cereal, coughing milk out onto the tablecloth as you splutter for breath.

Tell – tell Jeremy no? What is Mom on about? This is the exact sort of reason why you don’t take advice from her on your relationship. That sounds like a firstrate, surefire way to get dumped – especially by Jeremy, considering how easily he could find someone way better than you if he really wanted. Can’t tell him no, that’s… that’s crazy.

The only thing that comes before Jeremy is busting, and even that you hate having to put in front of him. Though there’s not much of a choice there anyway – you can’t not bust your brothers, after all. But that’s different. Plus, you only have to bust your brothers once, after all, and then they’ll be in trouble and have to stop (forever) and you’ll be vindicated and maybe Mom’ll stop looking at you like you’re the biggest liar on the face of the Earth. Because, seriously, though you’re well aware of how crazy you can sound – and you’d probably think you’re crazy too, honestly – the fact that Mom’s first assumption is that every even slightly implausible thing out of your mouth is a lie, it… it gets to you sometimes.

It won’t matter for long, though, ‘cause you’re gonna vindicate yourself one day, and you know it. Heck, who knows - maybe even today. 

Now that would definitely make all this worth it.