"Hey Ferb? Did the delivery truck stop by yet?"
Phineas Flynn walked into the backyard rather distracted, holding a compass, a protractor, a calculator, a few rolled-up blueprints from their archives, and to top it all off, he was looking over an order form on a clipboard with a pencil tucked behind his ear. He looked up and around for a moment, slightly confused and out of place, before seeing his green-haired stepbrother sitting atop a large stack of heavy boxes the delivery guy just dropped off. Ferb Fletcher looked down at him and gave him a thumbs-up.
"Well, I guess that answers that question," Phineas remarked with a smile on his face. "Do you mind going over the materials list? I can't help thinking we forgot something," he asked, tossing the clipboard up to Ferb, who caught it almost too easily. His stepbrother nodded, pulling a pen put of his pocket as well as his Swiss army knife. He hopped off the box he was sitting on before cutting it open and inspecting its holdings.
Phineas meanwhile was hovering over a workbench, looking over their previous blueprints, slightly nibbling on the eraser of the pencil previously behind his ear. Making an all-in-one deluxe carnival ride wouldn't be easy; it would require not only construction of each individual ride, but then combining them together in a sturdy way so it doesn't collapse on top of itself. Typing a few numbers in his calculator, Phineas whipped out a new, clean piece of blueprint paper, taped it down, and started to sketch the bumper car design of the contraption.
He almost missed the slight creak of the hinges on his gate as it swung open. Even if he had, the sound of three separate pairs of footsteps quickly alerted his eardrums and told him he had visitors.
"Hey Phineas. Whatcha doin'?"
Phineas didn't even have to look up to know Isabella Garcia-Shapiro, his neighbor and friend, was standing behind him. He also didn't even need to look up to know his other two friends, Baljeet and Buford Van Stomm, were standing right next to her.
"We're making the most ultimate carnival ride ever invented!" He turned his head towards his three friends for a moment to show them the excited look in his eyes. "Imagine every single one of the greatest rides ever, combined into one top-tier ride! It's gonna be SO awesome!"
"Sounds cool! Can we help?"
"Yeah, sure! Right now, I'm trying to finish up these prints, and Ferb is over there taking invento―"
Phineas was cut off mid-sentence when Ferb appeared to his right, placing the clipboard in front of the red-haired child. Phineas placed his pencil on the bench and looked over all the checklist. All were accounted for. Phineas sighed in relief, glad that his worry was for naught.
"Thanks, Ferb," he looked up at his stepbrother thankfully. "Where would I be without a brother like you?" Ferb gave a small smile, and held out one of his hands. Phineas took the initiative, quickly finished the sketch of the bumper cars, and handed the print to Ferb, who accepted it and went off to pick up a hard hat. Phineas turned back to the desk and pulled the blueprints of their infamous roller coaster in front of him.
"If you want," he started, turning slightly towards the three behind him, "you can go help Ferb with construction. He could really use it, since there's so much to do and all."
Isabella and Baljeet nodded their heads, both emitting a sound of agreement, while Buford just stood there, arms crossed. He furrowed his eyebrows and gave Phineas an irritated look. "Ya' know, something's been buggin' me for a while," he complained, "and I'm just gonna go out and say it: Ferb is your stepbrother right? So why don't you call him that, huh? It's always 'brother' and never 'stepbrother.' Honestly, all you're doing is confusing people."
Phineas just smiled to himself, tapping numbers furiously into his calculator with the eraser of his pencil. It was normal for Buford to complain about the little things when they started bugging him, and this was undoubtedly an insignificant detail to complain about, considering the situation. "Well," he answered coolly, not looking up, "I've just known Ferb for so long that I consider him too close to be just a stepbrother. To me, he's my brother and best friend."
Buford grumbled, obviously unsatisfied with the answer. "Well, what about his dad, huh?"
"What about his dad?"
"He's your stepdad, right? Yet you call just call him 'dad.'"
"The same thing applies, Buford; he's been in my life for so long that I think of him as a regular family member. Not to say that he isn't already my family member or anything, but I consider him to be closer that an average stepfather."
Now frustrated without a real reason to be, Buford uncrossed his arms and held out his hands in an annoyed fashion. "Okay then, what about your dad?"
This caused Phineas to pause for a moment, analyzing the question, before immediately returning to his calculations. "I just told you, Buford," he said with a small chuckle. "Weren't you listening to me?"
"No, no, no, no," Buford shook his head and hands, "I mean you're DAD. Like, you're REAL dad. The one that you're blood-related to; THAT dad."
Phineas completely froze, his pencil just about to tap another key on his calculator. Ferb, who had been listening in on their conversation, also stopped what he was doing, which was placing the rubber bumper around the car, and turned toward his friends. Isabella and Baljeet quirked their eyebrows at the stepbrothers' reactions.
Phineas stared down at the half-sketched blueprint, the pencil still held tightly in his grasp while the calculator lay on the workbench, the equation still only half-calculated. Slowly, he turned himself around just enough so Phineas could angle his head towards Isabella, Buford, and Baljeet. "O-okay," he finally answered, nervously chuckling, "w-what about my―" he paused to gulp, "―biological father?"
Buford shrugged, "I dunno, I was just wonderin' what happened to him. I mean, ya HAFTA have one, or else ya wouldn't be here. And since your stepdad's in the picture, then somethin' obviously happened to him."
IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT!
The pencil dropped to the ground, the hand that previously held it limp in shock. Phineas just stared at Buford at a complete lost for words. He turned so he completely faced Buford, his face pale white and his eyes wide with shock. "Ummm," Phineas muttered, uncharacteristically. At this point, Ferb had walked over to join the other three, and they all watched Phineas with curiosity. Phineas suddenly felt extremely paranoid and found it harder to breathe with all their eyes glued to him. He tugged at his shirt's collar with his index finger, trying and failing to loosen it, while he gulped loudly. His large eyes darted and met everyone else's gaze. "Uhh," he tried to start again, this time lightly gasping for breath.
"Phineas?" Isabella took a step forward, concern overtaking her features. She reached a hand out and gently touched his arm in hopes of calming him down. "Are you alright?" Phineas quickly whipped his head toward her and jumped away from the hand, a fear in his eyes extremely evident. Isabella retracted her hand immediately, as though he had slapped it away. She cautiously took a step away from Phineas, obviously hurt that her crush and best friend took no comfort in her actions or visible concern.
Phineas slowly backed up away from everyone until he hit the bench table behind him. He instantly reached a hand back and gripped the table. His gaze darted around to everyone, obviously terrified and extremely alert to any sudden movement they might make, before his mind began to drift back to memories from a very long time ago.
Little toddler Phineas walked baby steps across the yard and towards the house, his blue overalls slightly green with grass stains from being outside for so long. In his hands was a drawing he had done moments ago, and he was intent on showing it to his parents, especially his father. The sliding door was just barely open enough for him to him to get through and slip into the living room.
The first thing he saw was his mother, Linda Flynn, sitting on the couch, her head buried in her hands, sobbing uncontrollably. On the ground sat Candace, his older sister, leaning against her mother's leg and sniveling pitifully. Phineas felt confused; why was his mom and big sister crying like they were? As quick as his little feet could carry him, he ran over to mother and held on to her knee, the drawing slipping from his hands and lying forgotten on the floor.
"Mommy, what's wrong? Why are you crying?"
Linda looked up from her hands and down into Phineas's big, concerned eyes. She wiped her tears on the back of her hand and gave him a small but unreal smile as she picked him up and held him close. Phineas wrapped his little arms around her neck as much as he could and hugged her back, not really knowing why, but feeling that it was what needed to be done.
"Hey, Mommy? Where's Daddy?"
Phineas felt a few warm tears slip from Linda's cheeks and onto his shoulder, seeping into his clothes and lightly burning his skin. His instinct was to hug her tighter. Eventually, she pulled away and looked Phineas in the eyes.
"Phineas, honey," she began, her voice cracking, "your father...he isn't going to come home for a while."
Phineas gave her a baffled look. "Where is he, Mommy? When will he be back?"
Linda just gave him that fake smile again and shook her head. Gently, she put him back down on the floor, all while picking up his discarded drawing and giving it back to him, slightly smudging the picture with the tears on her palm. "Just... be a good boy and go outside and play, Phineas, okay?"
Phineas thought for a moment, then nodded understandingly. His mother smiled down at him, and lightly ruffled his red hair before giving him a tiny push towards the door. He took the initiative and ran back to the sliding door, squeezing himself through again.
"Now, sweetie," Linda started, turning her attention towards her daughter, who looked up in response, "I'm going to go upstairs and make a few phone calls. Please, keep an eye on your brother, all right?" Candace gave a little nod. Linda smiled and rubbed her shoulder in a thankful gesture before standing up and making her way upstairs. However, she didn't make it to the top before she broke out into heartbreaking sobs again.
Candace pulled her legs to her chest, tears sliding down her face and onto her red T-shirt. She wanted to stay curled up on the floor and cry until she couldn't anymore; seeing her mother so upset and desperate made her heart wrench. But she had told her mother that she would look after Phineas. Slowly, she picked herself up and walked over to the sliding door, placing a hand on the glass as she looked outside.
Phineas was sitting on the ground, underneath the tree, re-coloring over the smudged parts of his drawing with his crayons. He wasn't smiling, but he looked content, calm. That made Candace's blood boil. He just sat there, without a care in the world, while their poor mother was crying her heart out. He didn't even know the truth, and yet there he was, not even bothering learning it! How selfish could he be?
Realization dawned upon her, or at least what she thought was realization. Blood temperature climbing quickly, she yanked open the sliding door and stormed toward her brother.
Phineas had taken the liberty to recolor his drawing, making sure it looked even better than it did before. Maybe then, when his father returned and he showed it to him and his mother, it would cheer everyone up, and seeing his mother smile again is all he wanted.
Before Phineas could lean back and admire his work, a hand reached down and snapped away his drawing, crumbling it into a ball immediately. "Hey!" Phineas yelled, looking up to see his big sister standing over him, menacingly. He jumped a little, backing closer to the tree. "Why'd you do that, Candace?" he asked.
"It's YOUR fault!" she screamed at him, throwing the paper ball at him, narrowly missing his head and hitting the tree behind him. "If it wasn't for YOU, Mommy and Daddy would still be together!"
"W-what do you mean?" Phineas whimpered, terrified, cowering underneath his hands in case she tried to throw something at him again.
"What I mean is that Mom LIED to you! Daddy's NEVER coming back! And you're too selfish to care! THAT'S why he left, because you don't care about him!" Hot tears of frustration flowed down Candace's red cheeks. "You ruined Mommy's life! And we'll never see Daddy again either! And it's all because of YOU! It's all your fault, Phineas!" She was physically shaking at this point, right on the edge, about to burst.
"IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT!"
With that, she broke into heavy sobs and ran back into the house, not feeling any better. Phineas didn't move at first, dumbfounded and scared stiff at the same time. Gradually coming back to reality, he reached over and picked up the ball that was formally his drawing. Flattening it out, he held it in his hands and looked it over.
His father stood in the middle of his drawing, cradling Phineas in his arms while Candace sat atop his shoulder, holding onto his head to balance herself. Linda stood to the right, arm linked with her husband's and her hand holding Phineas' smaller hand. It wasn't extremely detailed or a masterpiece, but it was impressive for someone his age, and a few minutes ago, it was his pride and glory.
At this moment, though, it made Phineas feel like a blind fool. Was it true? Did he drive his father away from his family, ruining his mom's chance for happiness? Tears fell down his cheeks and fell on the picture, smudging to colors together. He quickly ripped up the picture until there was nothing but a million damp pieces of paper and threw them off to the side away from him.
It had to be true. Candace would never lie to him; she was too good of a sister. Phineas lay down on the ground, his back against the tree. He curled his legs up tightly to his chest, buried his face into his knees, and cried harder than he ever had before.
Gradually coming out of his thoughts, Phineas' breathing speed up, him gasping for more air. He hunched over, clutching his shirt so tight his knuckles turned white and holding his forehead with his free hand. I don't remember his face, Phineas thought in dismay, I don't even remember my own father's face.
He truly was a horrible brother. His family deserved someone better than him, especially Candace; she deserved to have a normal little brother who doesn't drive loved ones away. He had spent most of his life trying to make it up to her, but to him, it seemed that he never appeased her. He would always mess it up somehow, like when he ruined Christmas or got them stranded on the island while trying to follow the sun around the world. She blamed him for each mishap, and to Phineas, it felt like it has her way of letting him know that he would never get forgiveness from her.
A hand on his back snapped Phineas out of his woe. He whipped his head to the hand and looked up to see his stepbrother looking at him with understanding and sympathy, yet a large amount of concern. Phineas just stared up at him, who returned the favor. In his flashbacks and guilt-wallowing, Phineas had completely forgotten about his Ferb. His stoicism always managed to balance his thoughts, ever since they first met.
"Phineas! I want you to meet someone important!"
Hearing his mother's call, Phineas' head instantly popped up from the giant picture book about robots he was looking at. His mom sounded...different than usual.
Phineas instantly got up from the floor of his bedroom. It had only been a about six months since Phineas had found his Mommy crying in the living room. Since then, the house just became sullener. Candace would often keep quiet around him, with a guilty look in her eye, but Phineas never saw it. He had become more and more secluded from his mom and Candace, stricken with guilt and sadness. However, lately, his mother had seemed a bit more joyous, humming to herself when she cooked and laughing and smiling when she was on the phone. It had been a good boost to everyone's mood.
Phineas ran outside into the hallway, all the way to the stairwell. He sat down on the top step and slowly lowered himself down to the second step, repeating the action until he was halfway down. Peering through the railing, he looked out on the scene before him.
A man Phineas had never seen before was kneeling in the middle of the room. He had a long face with short brown hair. He was wearing a white polo shirt with blue jeans, and atop his nose sat a pair of black glasses. Candace was shaking his hand with a smile and a glint in her eye Phineas hadn't seen in a while. His mother, however, was nowhere to be seen, Phineas noticed with surprise.
"There you are, sweetie!" His mother's voice was accompanied by the sound of footsteps walking down the stairs towards him. Linda picked her red-haired son up into her arms and kissed his cheek, Phineas letting out a little giggle. "Come on, Phineas, don't be shy," she cooed, carrying him down the steps and into the open living room, causing the man and Candace to turn towards them.
"Lawrence, this is my youngest," Linda said, placing Phineas on the floor in front of the man. The youngest Flynn looked up at the man kneeling before him. He was much larger than Phineas, but he had a gentle look in his eye. "Hello there, Mr. Flynn," he said. He spoke a bit differently than anyone Phineas had ever met, putting unusual emphasis on different syllables. It sounded unique and interesting, so Phineas didn't mind. Lawrence held out his hand, saying, "My name is Lawrence Fletcher. What's yours, little guy?"
Phineas looked at his outstretched hand for a moment before placing his own little hand into it, sharing a handshake. "I'm Phineas," he answered with a small smile. Lawrence returned the smile. "Phineas, is it? What a good name to have, my boy." Linda, who had been standing behind Lawrence, kneeled next to him and looked at both of her children. "Phineas, Candace, this man and I have been seeing each other for a little while now, and I thought that he deserved to meet you, and you to meet him. I just want to make sure that it's all right with you guys before I continue seeing him."
The two Flynn children exchanged a glance. Phineas wasn't entirely sure what his mother meant when she said they were "seeing" each other, but he guessed that they were probably spending time with each other a lot. That's probably why his mother had been so happy these past few weeks. Now, the little boy didn't really know Lawrence well enough to really say if he was a decent person or not. However, Lawrence seemed extremely nice, and he apparently made Linda very happy, and if she was happy, Phineas was happy as well. Candace must have agreed, because she gave her little brother a positive smile, who returned it. They turned back to Linda and Lawrence and nodded.
Both adults beamed. Lawrence turned and gave Linda a small kiss on the cheek. "Oh yes, I almost forgot!" Lawrence's face lit up in remembrance. He stood up and motioned for everyone to not move. Quickly, he jogged out of the room. Candace and Phineas looked their mother in confusion, who smiled knowingly at her children before standing up. Lawrence walked back into the room, leaning over and holding the hand of a little boy.
He looked a lot like Lawrence physically, except he had a larger nose, a scruffy tuft of green hair, and lacked the glasses. He was probably around Phineas's age or a little older, as he was taller than him, yet shorter than Candace. He wore purple overalls with an off-white shirt underneath. In his hand was a flag, but with a design that was unfamiliar to Phineas. "Candace, Phineas, this is my only son," Lawrence said, letting go of the boy’s hand and giving him a little push towards the two other kids before going over to stand with Linda.
Phineas took the first step forward. "Hi there!" he greeted enthusiastically. "My name's Phineas! What's your name?" The boy looked up at his father, who motioned to him to go on, and looked back at Phineas. "My name's Ferb," he said quietly, his voice sounding similar to his father's. Phineas just simply grinned at him. "Nice to meet you, Ferb!" Ferb gave a smile back at him.
Phineas felt a hand on his shoulder. "Hey there, Ferb! My name's Candace; I'm Phineas's older sister," his sister introduced herself. Ferb turned his gaze up towards her and smiled. "Pleased to meet you, Candace." As the three kids exchanged words, Linda turned to Lawrence and gave him a peck on the lips. "I have a good feeling about this," she said softly, causing him to smile at her.
Weeks passed and Lawrence continued to visit the Flynn's regularly. He always brought Ferb along whenever he came to pick up Linda, and he and Phineas would always hang out in Phineas's room. Ferb over the course of time told Phineas about how he and his father had lived in England with his real mother, but Lawrence and his wife divorced one another and Lawrence and Ferb moved to the United States. Through Ferb, Phineas learned about the difference between living in England and the US, which was surprisingly big. The two immediately grew close, finding many things in common with one another. For instance, after the separation of each of their parents, both boys began to prefer being alone. They were always thinking up interesting and unique things they could do together, like building a small robot dog to have as a pet that they would share. Ferb found himself more open and imaginative with Phineas, and Phineas found himself more enthusiastic and happy with Ferb. Ferb wasn't the only one Phineas found himself getting closer to; Lawrence would always spend at good amount of time with Candace and Phineas, playing games with them or just asking how their days went. Both Flynn children soon began to really like Lawrence and enjoyed every one of his visits.
A few months later, Lawrence and Linda called Candace, Phineas, and Ferb down for a quick meeting. The three children sat on the couch, curious as to what was happening. The two adults strode into the room, hand in hand and laughing happily. They stopped in front of the kids and beamed at them. "Kids," Linda said, the excitement in her voice extremely evident, "we have an announcement to make." She shared a quick glance with the man standing next to her and he took over: "You see kids, I've been seeing Linda for a long time now, and I've grown extremely fond of her. In fact, I love her." He paused to pull his significant other into his arms. "So yesterday evening, during our dinner date, I asked her to marry me..." Linda lifted her left hand, flashing her new engagement ring towards the now wide-eyed kids. "And I said yes," she finished for him. "Phineas, Candace, you're going to have a new father!"
"And Ferb," Lawrence turned towards his son, "you're going to have a new mother!"
Almost immediately, all three kids jumped up off the couch and tackle-hugged their new parents, shouting out joyous ramblings that were almost unintelligible. The new family of five all shared a tight group hug, Lawrence kissing his new son and daughter while Linda also kissed her new son. After they all broke away, Phineas immediately hugged Ferb. "This means you're my new brother, Ferb!" Ferb simply grinned and shared his hug with Phineas as well as Candace, who was crying happy tears.
"That's not all," Linda exclaimed, kneeling to eye-level. "Phineas, Candace, you know how you both wanted to have a cool pet, but we could never afford one?" As she talked, Lawrence walked out of the room, and came back with a box, gently placing it on the ground. He carefully yet quickly opened it and pushed it towards the kids, who all crowded around to peer inside.
It took another minute before Phineas completely snapped out of his thoughts. He was still looking at Ferb with Ferb's hand still placed between Phineas' shoulder blades. Phineas gave a smile to his stepbrother to let him know he was okay. Ferb gave a small smile in exchange.
"Hey, Phineas?" Isabella's voice caused Phineas to turn towards her. Her face was filled with worry, matching Buford's and Baljeet. "Are you okay?"
Phineas smiled at her. "Yeah, don't worry. I'm fine. I just...had a little convulsion. It's nothing important, so don't bother worrying okay?" Isabella sighed in relief and nodded. Phineas turned his head to Buford. "Hey Buford," he asked, "how would you like to be the very first to ride the all-in-one carnival ride once it's done?" Buford's eyes lit up like a little kid on Christmas. "Come on, nerd!" he yelled, grabbing Baljeet's shirt and running towards the hard hats. "The faster we get this done, the faster I get to ride it!" Isabella laughed, running after the two, yelling for them to wait for her.
Ferb started walking away with them to continue putting the rubber bumpers on the bumper cars, but a hand grabbing his arm pulled him back. Questioningly, Ferb turned to only be enveloped by his stepbrother, who buried his head into his shoulder. Ferb hesitated for a moment, but as soon as he felt a few warm tears slip from Phineas' cheeks and onto his shoulder, seeping into his clothes and lightly burning his skin, he instinctively wrapped his arms around him and hugged him tight. It didn't matter the wrongs he did in the past, Phineas reminded himself, if his mother had Lawrence, he had Ferb, Candace had a full family, and everyone was happy, then he was momentarily forgiven for driving away his real father.
The two stayed in that embrace for another moment before both breaking away. Ferb smiled sympathetically, while Phineas wiped his eyes with the heel of his hand and smiled back appreciatively.
A sudden thought hit him, and he looked around dubiously.
"Hey Ferb," he asked, quirking an eyebrow and turning towards her stepbrother, "have you seen Perry?"