DISCLAIMER: All characters of Phineas and Ferb are the property of Dan Povenmire, Jeff "Swampy" Marsh, and Disney Channel.
It had been the best party ever.
At least in his young life, anyway.
Baljeet made his way slowly down the street, balancing the myriad amount of presents that his friends had provided for him at the birthday party against the chilled October wind. It had been a great time, having his best friends throw an authentic Indian celebration for him. All of his companions were in attendance, wearing their appropriate saris and sherwanis. Even Buford got in on the celebration, even if he looked like a giant gray pillow in his garment.
Besides that minor visual displeasure, he was very content with the celebration. He sauntered up to his front door and knocked on it with his head. After a moment, his mother opened it, surprised at her son's possessions.
"My Goodness, Baljeet! Did your friends buy out the entire mall for your birthday?"
"I would not have put it past them if they had, Mother, but I assure you they were not going to do so." Baljeet hustled into the house, setting his pile of boxes on the living room rug.
"So," Mrs. Patel said, returning to the kitchen sink, "Did you have a nice time at the party?"
"It was most wonderful, Mother," Baljeet replied, catapulting his party hat onto the top of the pile. "There was a lot of cake and presents and a Bhaṅgṛā group there to dance for us. I had a fantastic time."
"It is good that you have such great friends, Baljeet."
"It most certainly is."
"By the way, Baljeet," Mrs. Patel said, wiping the bowel with her towel, "You have a present in your room."
"A present?" He had figured all of his gifts had been given to him at the party. "Who was it from?"
"I do not know. Someone left it at the front door while you were over Phineas' house. I put it up in your room to keep it out of the way. Perhaps it is one last reward for you managing to make it through another year."
"Ha ha, Mother," Baljeet said, noting the sarcasm in her voice. "I will go see what it is, and then go to bed. I am pretty fatigued from tonight."
"Make sure to keep your clothes out for Picture Day tomorrow. I have to iron them in the morning."
"Very well." The Indian boy started climbed up the steps to his room. "Good night, Mother."
"Good night, Baljeet."
Baljeet, now in his pajamas, turned his attention to the large box at the foot of his bed. It had been a shock to see the relatively large package in his room. He did not have the slightest clue as to how his mother had gotten it up the stairs, but such things were left for another day.
He surveyed the box, taking note of the green wrapping paper and white ribbon. His indirect observations told him little more than that, although a quick tap on the box showed that whatever was inside was not solid.
Normally he would not be so inquisitive about a present, but it was curious as to why the mystery person did not simply give it to him at the party. Was it going to rise and attack him? Was it Buford hiding to give him a pre-bedtime wedgie?
Baljeet poked the side of the box. It did not appear to contain an ensnarement or a bully of any sort, so he took the top off the container.
Peering inside, he found a white envelope, with his name written in fanciful cursive handwriting. It was sitting on what appeared to be a smaller black box, surrounded by brown fabric. Curious, he plucked the envelope out of the box and flipped the flap open. He pulled out the contents out, finding a handwritten letter, in the same ornate lettering. He began to read:
First of all, happy birthday! One year older and one year smarter. It had been great seeing you grow into someone that I can admire. That everyone should admire.
I have to apologize; I wanted to give this to you at the party, but I didn't want everyone to see this. You see, what is in this present may not be the most obvious gift to give to a friend, but I know that you will appreciate it, and that is really all that matters.
I know that Picture Day is tomorrow, so I went ahead and got you something that I think you would enjoy wearing. It's (Baljeet could see a slight pause in the writing here) something that I know you aren't used to wearing. However, I know that you will like it. Or I at least hope. And you'll look great in it. In all honesty, you would look great in anything.
...And now I'm regretting writing this in pen. Crud. OK, if you just want to ignore that last part, that would be perfectly fine. Perfectly, perfectly fine.
I have to go now; getting ready for your party is going to take a little bit of time. Hope you enjoy your present, and happy birthday!
There was no name at the end of the letter, leaving Baljeet in a state of confusion. It had been quite a personal letter; he would have thought the mysterious writer would have at least left a name.
Setting the letter aside, he peered into the large box, pulling out the smaller one. It was a thin-walled box, with a very plain lid. The way it was held together made it feel like something similarly slender was inside. He opened the lid-
Someone would go out of their way to give him this? This was a rather expensive gift; it wasn't something any person could get him.
Wait a minute. If this was just the first thing...
Baljeet poked through the rest of the large box, taking out the rest of the contents. His guess was right; the rest of the articles inside were just as immaculate, and likely just as expensive. Most of the rest were in plastic sleeves, protecting them from normal wear-and-tear.
And while this somewhat worried Baljeet initially...it still did not wipe the growing smile off of his face. It was a very touching and thoughtful gift. It was also one that he was going to take pleasure in for a while.
"...Oh, this is going to be a fun day tomorrow."
A day where students came to school, looking their very best, and making sure they were in pristine condition for their snapshots.
At least...that's what the parents thought the day would be.
It was more along the lines of children forcefully being put into clothes that they didn't want to, smile at a camera that they thought would swallow their souls, and collect them onto paper to show off to the student body.
...Kids these days.
Baljeet always enjoyed this particular day. Even since his induction into American schools, he found that getting a good picture into the yearbook was a precursor to a good school year.
But this year...this year was going to be different.
He stepped out of his mother's car, waving goodbye to her as she drove off. Walking up the steps of the school, he tried his best not to notice the looks of sheer disbelief he was getting from his fellow classmates. On a normal day, he would have been very uncomfortable by the stares and the whispering.
He cut through the swath of students in the hallway, heading to his locker. Fortunately, being a fifth grader allowed him to still be basically ignored by the upperclassmen. The kids his age seemed to be too shocked by him to give him any flack.
Reaching his locker and starting with the combination, Baljeet's mind wandered to the one person he actually was worried about. If it came down to it, there was no way that he was going to let him do anything to him today. He would have to figure out some kind of compromise with him, even if it was just for the day...
"Hey, what are we all standin' around for?"
Ahh...just the person he was waiting for.
He peered to his left to see Buford walking down the hall, looking around at the kids that were in his way. It was clear that he had not seen Baljeet just yet, but it was just a matter of time before that happened.
"Alright, Nerd, you ready for your morning butt whOA!"
Buford waved his arms like a madman, his gaze falling on the Indian boy. His eyes grew wide at to what, exactly, Baljeet was wearing for the day.
The Indian boy's coat, which he had just pulled off, was a dark black, buttons all on the front but still strewn in a stylish manner. The coat to his suit was also black, standing out from the white formal shirt and black tie. His slacks were pristinely ironed, and his shoes had been buffed to perfection.
All of that was fine and dandy, but it was nothing compared to what laid on Baljeet's head. It was a fedora, impeccable in every detail, a silk band surrounding the base. It was tilted slightly over his forehead, partially obscuring his vision from the bully. Not that he couldn't imagine the incredulous looks on his face, anyway.
"When did ya get all that, Nerd?"
It appeared that Buford had finally regained his ability for motor communication, although his voice was not without a uncertain tone to it.
"Do you like my attire, Buford? I thought I would go with something different this year."
"I don't think that was my question, 'Jeet."
"Of course not," he replied, hanging his trench coat gently in his locker. "I am just messing with you."
"Seriously, what's with the getup?" Buford insisted. "Ya usually don't go this extravagant for Picture Day."
"I decided to change things up a little bit. I am allowed to do so, yes?"
"I guess, but wouldn't ya be wearing that all the time?"
"I only got these clothes recently." Baljeet rifled through his books, looking for his History text. "It was a gift for my birthday."
"Don't only moms and grandmas give clothes for birthdays?"
"I take it that someone thought otherwise."
Buford put a hand on his hip, now more confused. "Ya don't know who gave it to ya?"
"I do not," Baljeet replied, pulling the book out of his locker. "The note that the clothes came with was anonymous."
"Ya know, if I was this person," the bully said, "I woulda just kept them. They would make any kid look cool any day of the week. Heck, even y-"
Baljeet paused, not believing his ears. He turned his head toward Buford, who had a finger in the air, the look of a boy purposefully stopping himself on his face.
"Buford, what were you about to say?"
The bully shook his head, shifting his backpack on his body. "I don't know what ya talking about."
"Buford Van Stomm, were you going to say that I look cool?"
"...I was not gonna say that."
"But you were thinking that."
"It doesn't matter if I was thinkin' it; I'm still not sayin' it."
Baljeet grinned. "Your compliment has been noted."
"What? I didn't say it. Take it back!"
"Too late! Already noted!"
"Darn it!" Buford snapped his fingers in frustration. "You're lucky I have to keep my tie clean, or else you'd be getting it (pointing to the fabric on his chest)."
"...Buford, that is a clip-on."
"You tie a tie. Clip-ons are not ties. The noun and the verb are practically synonymous with each other."
"Yeah, yeah, whateva'." Buford dismissed his claim with a wave of his hand. "I still gotta keep it clean, or else my Mom will let me have it. That's why I'm not messing with ya today."
"Oh, really?" Baljeet couldn't help but have a little fun at his friend's expense. "I thought you just liked what I was wearing and thought I looked cool in it."
The bully leaned down toward the Indian boy, a hand resting on his locker. "Don't test me, 'Jeet. You can't wear that stuff foreva'."
"No...but I can wear it whenever I am in your presence until the end of time."
Baljeet closed his locker, smirking at Buford. "Am I, Buford? Are you willing to take that chance?"
The two boys stared at each other for a bit, as if to tempt the other into backing down. Finally, Buford mirrored the grin on Baljeet's face.
"I'm watchin' you, 'Jeet. Don't get too cocky with that getup." He started off down the hall, but not before yelling, "Ya head's gonna get too big for that hat to fit!"
Baljeet watched him go and sighed. It had been fun to tease Buford, but he knew that he had almost pushed it too far that time. Still, it was not everyday that the bully was hesitant to exert his dominance, so he had to take what he could get today.
Perhaps for gym class, he thought, he could ask Mr. Armstrong to let him keep wearing the-
"Gah!" He jumped up, whirling around to see a girl standing behind him, her textbooks held to her chest. "Ginger! Please do not scare me like that!"
"Sorry, Baljeet. I just didn't recognize you from down the hall." She shifted her feet nervously, fiddling with the book in her hands. "I wasn't sure why Buford was talking to some random guy, but it was you."
"Yes, it was me." He took a moment to slow down his heartbeat, then continued. "And I should be apologizing; I should be more cognizant of my surroundings."
And now that his mind was clear, he noticed something...different.
"Ginger, you are not wearing your Fireside Girl uniform."
"Do you not usually wear it for Picture Day?"
"We normally do, yeah," Ginger affirmed, "But Isabella wanted us to go casual this year. We already have group and individual pictures that we do at the lodge, so to her it seemed a little redundant to get the same thing done here."
"Yes...that does make sense."
He would have come up with something a little longer to say, but his mind was not working terribly well at the moment. The dark purple dress that Ginger was wearing accented the purple ribbon holding her hair into a ponytail. Her flats were a softer shade of purple, further accentuating her full attire.
"...Baljeet, your face is getting red."
"What?" He brought his hand to his face, horror-stricken to feel his cheek hot. "Oh! I am sorry. It must have been coming in from the cold. You know, temperature fluctuations and all."
Yeah...that's totally what it was.
Ginger tilted her head, her cheeks also getting slightly pink. "You...uh...look very nice, Baljeet. Where did you get all of that stuff?"
"For my birthday. Someone sent the package to my house instead of at the party."
"Why would they do that?"
"It is a mystery." Baljeet picked up his backpack off of the ground. "It is a really thoughtful gift, however; I did not think it would be so...fitting on me."
Ginger glanced away, saying nothing. Her cheeks appeared to have even more color in them than earlier. She was lost in thought for a minute, and Baljeet began to get nervous. Perhaps it was best for him to head for class-
"Can I see your hat?
He paused, instinctively bringing his hand up to his head. "Buford may have some sort of telekinetic power to tell when I don't have this on."
"I don't think he has that power, Baljeet," Ginger said, giggling faintly. "Unless it has to do with food."
Baljeet laughed. "Yes, I suppose that is true." He plucked the fedora off of his head, gently handing it to Ginger. She began to scan the hat, flipping it over in her hands.
"Biltmore," Ginger repeated, pointing to the tag located inside the brim. Baljeet peered at it, noticing the intricate design on the logo. "They make really good fedoras. Like, the best, actually. In fact, the rest of the suit..." She trailed off, tracing Baljeet's tie with her finger. "It's all top of the line. Someone really went all out for you..."
Looking up, she saw Baljeet's blushed face and immediately withdrew her hand. "Sorry!" Her face flushed a deep pink. "I didn't-"
"It-it is fine, Ginger," he stammered. "Do not worry about it." He looked at the fedora, still in Ginger's hands. "How do you know about all of this, anyway?"
"I have a sister who's obsessed with fashion," Ginger said, rolling her eyes. "Stacy may be annoying sometimes, but she does know her way around a clothing shop. She teaches me little things here and there."
She looked down at the fedora, eyes widening. "Oh! Whoops!" The Asian girl reached up and set it back on his head, patting it down lightly. "There, now Buford can't sense anything now."
"Thank you," Baljeet laughed. "I feel like I am at least safe for the day. Afterwards, however, we will just have to see."
They stood together in the hallway for a minute, not talking and carefully avoiding each other's gaze. Trying to lift the embarrassment, Baljeet closed his locker door.
"I should probably get going. I do not think my History teacher will be very pleased with me if I am late, dressed up or not."
"Yeah, I should be going too," Ginger echoed. "I'll see you at lunch, OK?"
"Alright." He started off down the hallway, but before he could get far, she was calling out to him.
He turned back toward her. "Yes?
"I meant what I said earlier. You do really look great."
Baljeet smiled at her. "Thank you for the compliment. It is very much appreciated. You...uh..." Baljeet paused, trying to think of a proper response. "You look very nice today as well."
Ginger tucked an errant hair behind her ear, looking at the ground. "Thank you," she whispered.
"It's odd, though," Baljeet continued, waving his arm to the side, "These dotake some getting used to. I feel like I am wearing a giant monkey suit sometimes."
"It wouldn't matter if it was a suit or a costume. You would look great in it."
"In all honesty," Ginger murmured, her face pink again, "You would look great in anything."
Look great in anything...
The words rolled over him, echoing in his mind. It was like he had already heard them before...
Oh yeah. That's because he had.
With his brain in overdrive, he had suddenly noticed that Ginger had strolled down the other end of the hallway, ready to turn the corner.
She looked up, a questionable look in her eyes. "Yeah?"
Baljeet paused. What was he going to say to someone who had given him more than just a new look? Who had given him the confidence to even stand up to his own bully? To walk around without worrying about other people's opinion about him?
Perhaps there was nothing to be said.
Baljeet beamed at the girl, taking the brim of his hat and lowering it for a moment. The silent tip of the hat was enough to immediately flush Ginger's face, and she returned the smile, a silent connection bonding the two together.
He turned to continue down the hallway, wishing desperately for his face to cool down. He would have to remember to use this newfound power of his in smaller doses next time.
It was a very good thing that he did not turn around at that moment, for Ginger choose at that point to pump her fist in the air, a silent "Yes!" escaping from her mouth.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: It is times like this, ladies and gents, that I wish that I could draw.
Because I would draw Baljeet in his awesome clothes in a second.
You know those kids that get more impeccably dressed when they get older? The trench coats, the fancy hats, the tie and vest getup? I always imagine Baljeet turning into one of those kids who would know how to take care of himself from a clothes standpoint. It also would not be surprising that said clothes would give him a confidence boost, whether it be with Buford or someone of the opposite gender.
People may notice that Ginger is a little bit more composed than what other people tend to portray her at. That was a design choice; I would like to think that she knows how to control herself (albeit barely) at school.
Writing this pairing is very fun to do. Ginger is that girl portrayed in the show as a more extreme version of Isabella, and Baljeet is a very smart kid who just can't seem to catch a break, Buford or otherwise. Having those two contrasts makes for interesting writing.
Read and review, if you like. Until next time.