| Well, thank you for inviting me!
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Ferb Fletcher leaned back against the wall, nervously tapping his fingers against the bricks. A bouquet of brilliantly-red roses, tied firmly together by a turquoise ribbon, sat tightly in his fist. He’d spent over an hour making sure they were absolutely perfect, and he would have done so a lot longer if it weren’t for the fact that he was on a time limit. Any minute now...she’d show up...
Just do what you’ve been rehearsing to yourself in the mirror, Ferb. he told himself for what felt like the hundredth time And don’t use the Old Spice joke...
Ferb glanced around the edge of the wall, for the third time in the last minute. Nope, still nothing. He went back and let his breath out in one big puff, trying to keep himself from going into panick mode. He’d spent a good portion of the last two months preparing for this moment, but now that it was almost upon him, a decent part of him felt like chickening out.
Get ahold of yourself, Fletcher, how hard could it possibly be? Just go up to her, and talk.
But that was the problem: He was never much of a talker. He was, you could say, out of practice. If he’d been a bit more talkative, then maybe, though doubtfully, he’d feel more confident.
He glanced around the wall again. Still nothing. His knees started to feel like they were made of spaghetti.
What if she's late? I thought she'd be here by now...
The thought of that brought a new wave of quease to his stomach. If she was taking another route home, he’d have wasted an entire week of figuring it out and deciding where the best place to execute his plan was...he’d have to do it all over again...
He was just seriously considering the possibility of leaving his hiding place to look for her, when he heard footsteps. His heart began to pound in his ears.
This is it...don’t get scared now, you know how that looks like...
He was just about to step out from behind the wall when...he heard something else. Something that made him freeze. She was talking somebody...and not on a phone either, because he was talking right back...it was a boy’s voice...a boy who sounded like he was her age...
Dreading what he might see when he did so, he looked.
Oh, no...please, no...this can’t be happening, it isn’t possible, please, NO...
But it could. And it was.
As if on cue, thunder rolled overhead.
“I am not kidding, Stacy! I mean, really, who would kid about something like an iguana and an ermine folk dancing in the middle of History Class? Ha!”
Candace laughed along with her friend and the sheer bizarrity that was the incident that had happened the previous day at school. Nobody knew exactly who had caused it, but there were rumors going around about a weird pharmacist guy.
“Haha, yeah...say is it raining where you are?”
A sound like a closet full of drums being knocked over split the air outside her room, and long-awaited rain began it’s vicious attack on the dry ground. Raindrops pelted against the ceiling like artillery fire.
“Well that was almost impossibly fast...”
The rain reminded her of something. She glanced down at her watched, then frowned.
“Hold on a sec, Stace.”
She pulled the phone from her ear and hollered with all her voice down the stairs.
“Mom, when did Ferb say he’d be back?!”
“He said around three, Hun.” was the casual reply she received.
Candace looked back at her watch. It was five past. To an average mind, that wouldn’t have been a big deal, since he did say around three, but Candace did not possess what one would call an “average” mind. To her, every minute her little stepbrother spent by himself was another minute he could be out getting into trouble.
“‘Running an errand’ my foot.” she growled under her breath.
“What was that, Candace?” asked Stacy on the other end.
“Sorry, Stace, but I’m gonna have to call you back.”
She closed her phone, then hopped off of her bed. She exited the room, then went down the hall. She continued to grumble all the way down the stairs. “Who knows what he could be up to...”
She strolled over to the door. Taking note of the unexpected downpour, she grabbed her coat from the rack and slipped her arm into it.
“With my luck he’s out getting more buildy-stuff for one of his lame inventions. Doesn’t that kid ever take a break?”
She pulled a lavender umbrella from the stand, then pulled open the door. By now, the storm was at full steam. The sky was the dull color of pencil lead, the clouds flashing white with lighting every minute or so, immediately followed by the gentle rumble of thunder. A puddle was already forming in the walkway, it’s surface being ruthlessly pommeled with ripples. Still grumbling, Candace started her soggy, unpleasant trip to the side of town Ferb had mentioned he was heading to. And needless to say, the bad weather did nothing to help Candace’s already dampened mood.
“Ferb, get over here right now!" she hollered into the street when she got there.
She got no reply other than more thunder.
“Ferb, come on, we need to go home! I swear, if you’re hiding from me..."
She didn’t even know why her brother would have wanted to come here in the first place. It wasn’t exactly the brightest street in town, and that’s not just because it was raining. The buildings all looked dull, grey, and gloomy, and the people who hung out there even more so. Add the ensuing rain, and you basically got a street that was the last place you would possibly want to go looking for anything necessary to build an annoying, bust-worthy, yet admittedly awesome invention.
Then...she spotted him. A small spot of purple on the sidewalk ahead, he only splash of color as far as she could see. She knew it was him, nobody in the whole wide world would wear those kind of pants.
“There you are. Ferb, you come with me right now! It’s soaking out here, and...you’ll...get a...”
She trailed off as she got closer to her brother, and got a better look at him. Ferb was on his knees on the sidewalk, rainwater soaking every inch of him, his sopping clothes hanging limply off of him. He had his back turned to her, shivering all over from the cold. Scattered around him, smashed and getting drenched in a puddle, were about a dozen roses, all of them red.
He didn’t reply. She took a step closer to him so that the umbrella was shielding them both from the downpour. Ferb didn’t seem to notice the difference. Her frustration now completely gone and replaced by concern, she placed a hand on his shoulder.
“Ferb, are you okay?”
He looked up at her, and she finally saw his face.
He was crying. Candace had to blink a few times to make sure it was true. Ferb was actually, genuinely crying, tears rolling slowly down his blotchy red face, dripping off the end of his big, blocky nose. His mouth was slightly open, his bottom lip quivering terribly from the effort of holding back a sob, his breathing shaky and shallow.
Candace could hardly take it in. Ferb never cried. He hadn’t since he was tiny...he hardly ever frowned even, he was always just silent....
“Ferb, what happened?”
He hid his face again. If he was trying to speak, all he could get out was a small, quiet sob.
Then she stepped on something, and looked down. Under her shoe, a soggy, limp rose, the only one that had been left intact of the bunch, had just been crushed. Candace stared at the remains for a second...
Oh, Ferb, you stupid kid...you stupid, crazy, lovesick little kid...
Ignoring the water, Candace put down the umbrella and knelt down by Ferb’s side. He looked up at her again, but still didn’t speak. She opened her arms.
He crawled into her lap and curled up. On any other occasions, he wouldn’t have liked it, but right now, he didn’t care. Candace wrapped him in a hug and gently began to rub his soaked back, soothing him.
“Oh, Ferb, you little nutcase” she said gently “You knew Vanessa had a boyfriend.”
Ferb buried his face into her shoulder and began to whimper miserably.
“I s-should have l-listened to you...”
Candace held him tighter.
“Ferb, she’s my age...you can’t really expect somebody six years older than you to go out with you yet...”
“I c-couldn’t help it...I just r-really...really thought...”
Then he entirely broke down, sobs wracking through his body. Ferb clung to his sister’s back and dug his face deeper into her coat.
“It’s m-my fault...I s-should have thought it out more, I s-should have listened to you when you told me n-not to do it...I was a fool...I d-don’t even know why I tried...I’m such a bloody idiot...”
“Shhhh...” Candace stroked her little brother’s drenched hair, trying her best to comfort him. ”Aw, Ferb, you’re not an idiot...you were just...reckless, that’s all. Everybody gets like that when they like someone...shh, calm down, Ferb, it’s okay...it’s okay...”
Ferb reached into his pocket for the handkerchief he always carried around, but only to find that it too had been soaked through from the rain. Letting out a sigh, Candace reached into her own pocket, and handed him her’s.
“Feel better now?”
Ferb nodded his head against her shoulder.
It had been a little more than ten minutes, and he had quieted down a bit. Candace let go of him and lightly put her hand on his face. The rain on his face was icy and bitter, but she could still feel warmth beneath his doleful eyes. He was still crying. She wanted to jerk away and wipe her dirty hand of in her shirt, but instead she gently tipped his chin up, giving him a little smile. When Ferb’s eyes met hers, he started to feel a little better. In her eyes was a compassionate look she hadn’t given him in a long, long time.
“Ferb, I know you really like her. A lot of boys do. But she’s not the only girl in the world. And not everyone is going to like you right away. And besides, if you really have set your heart on her, you can always try again, right?”
Ferb sniffled, wiped his nose on the already-damp tissue, then nodded. Candace gave him another smile and ruffled his hair.
“Besides, anyone who chooses that hipster goth over you is crazy anyway.”
For the first time since Candace had arrived, Ferb smiled.
Then the two of them then stood up to go home. Candace couldn't tell if he was still crying or not, but he still seemed a little down. She gave him a little nudge and grinned.
“C'mon, bro, I know this cute girl downtown your age".
She put her hand out to Ferb. He looked at her gratefully and took it. She began to walk off, and after one last glance at the drenched, smashed remains of his roses, he followed.
They didn’t notice, nor did they care, but for some odd reasons, it wasn’t raining anymore.