This chapter is the one in which we find out what's wrong with Ferb. And, spoiler? He's not sick. The point is that Phineas thinks he is, thus adding an element of dramatic irony.
Ferb hadn't slept well in a very long time.
Phineas's real father had been an abusive drunk who beat his mother mercilessly almost every night, and Candace every now and then. He had left just after Linda had gotten pregnant with Phineas, and came back a few days before the boy's first birthday. He had seemed like a changed man, playing with the kids like any normal dad. He practically begged Linda to take him back, and Linda actually believed he had reformed.
She was a different woman back then. Highly gullible.
It wasn't very long before he went back to his old ways. Linda took the most of it, and Candace tried her hardest to keep her brother out of harm's way. She hid under the table holding him, trying to block the screams from his little ears. She was seven years old.
One night, it failed. Their father had beaten Linda to the point that she was lying on the ground, a slight twitch the only sign that she was still alive.
The man stood over her, yelling at her to get up.
Candace tried her best not to cry, holding her tiny brother close to her. Phineas caught a glimpse of Linda on the ground, and got scared. What was wrong with his mommy? She needed help.
So, not knowing what would happen to him, the little boy squirmed out of his sister's arms and toddled over to where his parents were.
Candace let out a gasping squeak, reaching for her brother, but realizing with some desperation that he was too far already. "Phineas, no…!" she whispered.
Phineas shook his mother gently with his tiny hands. "Mommy… Please… Wake up…" His small voice trembled with concern.
The man got very angry upon noticing Phineas. "You little brat!" He slapped the little boy as hard as he could, knocking him down. Phineas started to cry, as would any child, and his father took that as a challenge.
Candace cried, eyes wide, covering her mouth in anguish.
He'll kill him!
With whatever consciousness Linda retained, she heard her child's cries and snapped back into full focus. She immediately leapt to her feet and grabbed a nearby lamp, sending it crashing into her "husband's" head.
"NO ONE HURTS MY BABIES, YOU SON OF A BITCH!"
The man fell like a ton of bricks. Linda panted for a few brief moments, then leaned to pick up her son, holding him in her arms.
"Candace, honey… Where are you?"
The little girl crawled out from under the table, wiping her eyes. "H…Here." She ran to her mother, who held her close, along with the half-conscious body of the tiny boy.
Linda immediately called the police to arrest the man, only to find out that he was dead. She started crying, praying for her children.
She had sent Candace to stay with her old friends, the Garcia-Shapiros, while Phineas was at the E.R., making sure that he was okay. Fortunately, he had no life-threatening injuries, only a mild concussion and some bruises, neither of which were severe enough to affect him later on. And emotionally, Phineas also seemed perfectly alright. He didn't seem traumatized in the least, and was able to go on happily as he always had, playing with little Isabella, who as usual, followed him around like a duckling. The adults and Candace doubted whether he was old enough to even understand what was going on.
Luckily, Linda wasn't convicted of murder. It was obviously self defense, and the entire process with the police was just a formality. She was able to go home to her children quickly, and they all lived with the Garcia-Shapiros until everything sorted out, since Linda refused to take her kids anywhere near the old apartment.
Ferb's mother's name was Layla. From what he could remember, she had long, dark hair that was almost always held up in a clip, and wore glasses that she was always losing. She was a very kind woman, a little ditsy, and always had a smile on her face. She was the one who started calling him 'Ferb', for reasons still unknown.
Ferb had always thought she would've gotten along well with Linda.
Unfortunately, that was about all he remembered about her.
Other than… Well, the night of her death.
Ferb clearly remembered waking up to hear his father speaking to someone downstairs one night when he was about three. He couldn't quite make out what they were saying, but from the tones of their voices, it wasn't a pleasant topic.
After awhile, Lawrence came up and sat on Ferb's bed. He told the boy how his mother was killed in a car accident. Ferb could have cried, like a normal child.
But Ferb Fletcher did not cry. He never had in his entire life. It just was something he didn't do.
The next thing he knew, he was at his grandparents' house while his father struggled to manage his wife's funeral, and the like.
Eventually, his dad got a job in America where his friend Linda lived. They were going to move into the house across from the one she was staying in, in fact. Ferb was told that Linda had a son around his age.
Ferb was curious about the boy, and wanted to meet him. He had been mostly antisocial for the majority of his life, and had never really been around other children his own age.
Their first meeting was one to remember. It was awhile after the move, when their parents had first started dating, and Lawrence had sent Ferb over to be watched by Isabella's mom.
After he had been thoroughly confused by the Latino woman's light-speed chatter, he was led upstairs to where Phineas was. Isabella was out at a friend's house for the night, so she wasn't there.
Phineas was playing with blocks in the corner of the room. He didn't seem to notice the other boy's presence quite yet, and Ferb took advantage of that. He stood silently, right where he was, watching.
After a few minutes, Phineas glanced up slightly, just noticing that Ferb was there. "Oh. Hey." He smiled. "I'm Phineas."
Phineas raised an eyebrow. "Your name is Ferb?"
Ferb blinked. It wasn't as if he wasn't used to that reaction. Still, it wasn't exactly un-awkward.
Phineas shrugged. "Oh well. My name's weird, too, so it's okay."
Ferb nodded, and went back to staring at the small structure that Phineas was building.
"Oh, this?" asked Phineas. "I'm building a tower. Even though… In real life, this sort of material would never withstand even a little wind. Then again… Depending on the position and weight of the bricks, gravity might just keep everything in place."
Ferb had honestly never even heard of another preschooler who thought… Well, pretty much at all. The main reason that he didn't care much about being in the company of other children his own age was that they were all so… immature. Most of them would have no idea what 'withstand' even meant.
"What do you think, Ferb?" asked Phineas.
Phineas laughed. "You don't talk much, do you?" Ferb shook his head. "That's okay. My sister says I can talk enough for two people."
From that moment on, the two were inseparable. Finding out that they would be brothers was probably the best news either of them had ever received.
Over the years, Ferb had grown into the protective older brother. He was completely wrapped around Phineas's finger. Anything Phineas wanted, he got, not that he really took advantage of that. And it was absolutely impossible, no matter what happened, no matter how badly Phineas messed up, for Ferb to even get slightly mad at him.
The bond between the brothers was strong, even though they weren't related by blood. So strong that they almost had a supernatural connection.
Which was why the dream had bothered him so much.
Every night for at least the past month, Ferb had been having the same reoccurring nightmare, in which his little brother, the one person whom he loved more than anyone else in the world, was gravely wounded in an accident.
The dream was extremely realistic, almost too graphic not to be real. The worst part was that when he woke up, Ferb could recall every detail of it, as though it had actually happened.
It always started the same way. They would be walking together, on a city street. Phineas would be happily chattering away, about what, Ferb didn't know. This part of they dream was always soundless.
Then all of a sudden, there would be black. Then it would flash to Phineas bleeding on the ground, crying, pleading for help. Ferb would try to reach out to him, only to discover that he couldn't move. He was forced to sit and watch his beloved brother suffer, unable to do anything to help. He couldn't even hold him, couldn't wipe the tears from the boy's precious sapphire-blue eyes. He tried to say something to him, to find that his mouth was also frozen in place. He was stuck.
Phineas would somehow manage to turn himself over, so that he was lying on his stomach. He would stare pitifully up at Ferb, reaching out for him like a baby wanting to be picked up. Ferb knew exactly what he was getting at. Phineas wanted to be held. His small body was in pain, and all he wanted was to be consoled. The one thing Ferb couldn't do.
After no response, he would start to crawl. Ferb didn't want him to hurt himself, but at the same time, he silently rooted for him. He watched his little brother struggle, stopping a few times to either catch his breath or to deal with the pain.
Go on. You can do it.
Ferb desperately hoped Phineas would reach him, to at least be able to lay his head in his lap, to feel the warmth of human contact and at least be comforted by that alone.
But he never did.
Phineas stopped about halfway, clenching his eyes shut, grabbing at the ground in agony and defeat. Ferb never would stop cheering him on in his mind.
You're halfway there. Don't give up.
Then came the worst part. Phineas would look up, miserably, and cry, with a confused and hurt look on his face. He didn't know that Ferb wasn't able to go to him. He had no way of knowing. He was in pain, and he just wanted to know why his big brother wasn't helping him. Didn't he care?
Of course I care about you. If I could hold you, I would. But I can't.
"It h… hurts… Please…"
It was maddening.
That was usually about the point where Ferb woke up, gasping, trying to choke back screams. He would always panic, unable to calm himself until he saw Phineas, safely asleep a few feet away. Then he would usually go over and sit on the edge of his brother's bed, watching him sleep until he was one hundred percent certain that the redhead was alright. The first time he had the dream, Ferb even picked him up and held him, both to reassure himself, and slightly to make up for what he couldn't do in the dream.
He never told Phineas about the dreams. He didn't want his brother to be troubled by his own insanity, if that was the right word (although Ferb was more than sure it was).
After awhile, he stopped sleeping altogether. He just couldn't put up with having to go through that every night. He could barely remember the last time he actually slept, but he knew that it would have had to be before school let out.
Phineas didn't know about that either. He honestly thought Ferb was sick, and he probably never stopped worrying about him. Ferb hated to make his brother worry like that, but he didn't know what else to do.
Did that make him a bad brother? He knew that he was a horrible brother in the dream… Maybe it was his subconscious trying to warn him about it. Phineas, on the other hand, was the best little brother in the world. He was perfect in every single way, and Ferb knew he didn't deserve him. He honestly didn't know of anyone who did.
These were the last conscious thoughts of his before collapsing of exhaustion.
Oh wow. I actually made myself tear up a bit while writing the dream sequence. I was like, "GO LITTLE GUY GO!"
And before I get reviews asking me if somebody can stay awake that long, my conclusion is this:
In JTHM, Nny never sleeps. JTHM is a work of fiction. This is a work of fiction.
Ergo, if Johnny C. can go years without sleep, Ferb F. can go a few weeks. That's how I see it.
…Then again, Nny's a little… Weeeooo.*twirls crazy loop around temple, crossing his eyes* And I don't think Ferb hallucinates… *looks at Ferb*
Gopher in lederhosen: *dramatic look*
Ferb: STOP FOLLOWING ME! DX
Phineas: …….. Who… Who are you talking to? oAe
Candace: Finally! I'm not the crazy one in the family anymore! Huhuhuhuhuhu! *runs off, a bit TOO happy*
Buford: Yeah! That stupid gopher won't leave me alone, either!
Ferb: It's ANNOYING! DX
Phineas: o.0 *leads Ferb away quietly*