As they sat without speaking in the quiet, cold garage, Phineas had just stuck his head in his chin and stared at the blank floor. Ferb wanted more than anything to reassure Phineas of his presence, and lifted his arm in a well-debated plan to place it on Phineas' shoulders. However, before he could do so, Phineas had stood up a bit and was interestingly peering into a shadow beneath one of the garage racks.
Looking to the same spot, Ferb also saw the slight rustle of movement that had caught his brother's eye.
A blue mass of short fur came pattering out from the dark space. Phineas smiled at him. "Oh, there you are, Perry."
"Grrfhrrfhrr," Perry said, muffled by a glinting object in his mouth.
Getting off the freezer, Phineas reached down to pick up the platypus from under its arms. He turned him around as he examined the little plastic item.
Perry spat it out, letting it drop to the ground and roll a few feet on the concrete. Phineas bent down to release Perry in exchange for picking up the object.
Ferb leaned from his spot on the fridge to get a better look at it as Phineas brushed it off.
"Where'd you find this, boy?" Phineas asked as he spun the little clear thing. It looked somewhat like a medical syringe, but it had no needle at the end. Inside was a small glowing gel materiel that was formed into a ball. On the end of the transparent cylinder was a little sliver button that looked as though it may connect to another part.
"I wonder what this does…" Phineas whispered to himself as he ran his fingers along the button. Though he was handling it gently, the sensitive switch reacted to Phineas' thumb and pressed down.
The little orange pill shot out of the bottom of the tube at roughly the speed as a paintball, startling Phineas and causing him to throw the object away to the ground. The projectile proceeded to bounce off of every wall and shelf of the garage, including one nasty hit to Ferb's chest. It then ricocheted up before finally shattering the garage's single light bulb with a sharp pop.
"D'aaahhhh," Ferb moaned as he placed a hand on his lower stomach on the spot where the ball had impacted. He lightly lifted up his shirt and saw that it was nothing more than a red area, but he kept his hand on it nonetheless.
He exhaled, and looked up and Phineas. "That may leave a mark tomorrow…."
But to Ferb's surprise, Phineas was not looking at the discarded object on the floor, but had faced towards the freezer and now looked as though he had just literally jumped right out of his shoes. He was looking back and forth all along the freezer with wide-eyed disbelief.
He took a gulp. "Ferb, I can hear you!"
All thought of the pain in his side disappeared, and Ferb shot his gaze up at his brother. "Wait… you can?"
"Yes!" Phineas happily shouted.
"Oh Phineas, you don't know how much I've been wanting to hear you say that."
"I think I do: about as much as I've been wanting to hear your voice at all," Phineas agreed as he continued to search the room. "Where are you?"
"I'm laying… on top of the freezer," Ferb replied between breaths as he tried to push up to a sitting position.
"…Why are you laying on the freezer?" Phineas asked seriously, moving towards the sound of Ferb's words.
"That thing hurt!" was his reply as Phineas approached.
Pulling out a finger, Phineas reached over to the air and poked forward.
"Woah!" he said in reaction, returning to poke Ferb's side again. "Were you here the whole time? How come you didn't close the door?"
"Go try to close it," Ferb instructed, rubbing the spot where Phineas' had poked.
"Why do you want me to close it?" Phineas asked, but he was already making his way over and did not object. Placing his hands on it, he pushed hard. Nothing happened.
"Hey, yeah," came the reply, as Phineas bent down to the floor. "The foot mat is all bunched up under it. And I never noticed but this thing is like two inches thick."
Ferb laughed. "You just had to ask me to slam the heaviest door in the house."
Phineas returned the laugh, but when he turned around to face the unoccupied room, his smile faded and his eyes darted around again. "Uhh, are you still on the freezer?"
"Okay, good." Phineas then went over to the large white icebox and stood beside it.
Standing still, Phineas just surveyed the plain white fridge. The only light in the room was coming through the bottom of the large garage door, and in the darkness Phineas suddenly felt a rush of loneliness again. After a few seconds of the silence, Phineas grew finicky.
"Why did you stop talking?" he asked, directing his question generally into the air. "I don't know you're still there if you're not talking. So don't stop talking, keep saying stuff!"
"Okay…" came the unseen voice. "Give papa a cup of proper coffee in a copper coffee cup."
Phineas stood in place and did not respond for a moment. "Uhhhh…. What?"
"You told me to say 'stuff.' That counts as 'stuff,' doesn't it?"
Phineas just grinned widely and hopped up the edge of the freezer. "Okay, so I can hear you," he said, pantomiming a curved hand around his ear.
"And I can… feel you." Phineas continued to poke Ferb in the side. "… The only thing I can't do is see you."
Phineas felt Ferb's hand brush his finger away.
"You can keep poking me, if you want," he said honestly. "But can you not keep doing it in the same spot? It's starting to get raw there."
Phineas tipped his nose down and gave a bashful smile. "…Sorry." He then jumped down and returned to the floor of the garage.
"But I can't think straight in this darkness," he said as he looked up at the shattered remnants of what had been a lamp. "Ima go get a new light bulb. You, um… stay here. So I can find you."
Ferb also leaned off of the freezer to land on the floor. "I'll be here," he said as Phineas trotted up to the door that led to the house.
Moving forward, Ferb stopped underneath the broken garage light. As he stared straight up, he could see that the old bulb had completely cracked and a few pieces had entirely fallen off, leaving the filament exposed.
Ferb could hear a soft shuffling coming from the nearby hall closet, and came over to stand by the door as he watched Phineas come back into the garage, holding a clear new bulb. He stopped when he had cleared the door's threshold.
"I think I found the right one-" Phineas looked up from his hands at the dark, empty room. "Okay, where'd you go?"
Ferb was standing about a foot from Phineas' head. "I'm right here, Phi-"
"AH!" Phineas leapt backwards and almost dropped the fragile glass in the process. He held onto his chest as he breathed, realizing that Ferb was not where he had expected him to be. "You scared me!"
"Whoops," Ferb apologized with sincerity. But Phineas did not linger over it and regained himself in no time, going over to look at the ceiling lamp.
"Though I'm not sure how I'm going to get up there…" he said as he examined it.
"Here," Ferb said as he came over to him. "Want me to give you a boost?"
Phineas looked down and stared in confusion at where he thought Ferb was. "Um… can you do that?"
Ferb shrugged as he tipped his gaze upwards. "…Probably?"
He bent down beneath the targeted light socket and linked his fingers to make a step. "Okay, I'm kneeling in front of you."
Phineas hesitantly lifted his foot, and Ferb grabbed it in his fingers. Phineas shut his eyes and leaned onto him as Ferb got to his feet and slowly raised Phineas to the ceiling. Blinking his eyes open, Phineas saw that he was within reach of the blown bulb.
"Can you reach it?" Ferb asked.
"Yeah, this is good," Phineas returned, glancing down to address Ferb. However, Phineas then caught a glimpse of the nothingness that was supporting him and he suddenly could not stop himself from wobbling shakily.
"F-F-Ferb," he said with a yelp as he buckled down and clutched both arms tightly around his brother's neck. "This is really weird. Maybe I should just go get a ladder."
"Just don't look down," Ferb reassured. "I've got you."
"Okay…" Phineas agreed quietly, pushing back up with one hand to unscrew the sharp end of the exploded light. When it was free, he dropped it to the ground, and reached up to install the new one.
After the last twist on the screw's threads, the coils inside flickered and illuminated the garage with fresh brightness. A moment passed by until Phineas' face was overtaken by revelation and he flung his hand up to throw it onto Ferb's shoulder.
"I've got it!"
Ferb tried to keep his hands under Phineas' foot as he tried to compensate for his sudden movement. But the off-balance teetering outweighed Ferb's attempts, and soon both of them had fallen to either sides of the garage, landing in a loud heap of boxes.
Ferb pushed his head up. "You got what…?"
"IT!" Phineas replied, standing up and brushing off as if nothing had happened. "Remember our hand-held laundry cleanup machine from last month?"
"Hah, yeah I remember that thing," Ferb laughed from his place among the brown cardboard.
"Remember how for a while it just made the laundry disappear instead of cleaning it up?"
"Yeah…" Ferb said thoughtfully. "We changed it to a teleportation program panel and then it worked fine."
"SO!" Phineas exclaimed. "I'll go get the old invisibility program panel, cross the input/output wires, and then hit you with it in reverse!"
"Wow... That actually," Ferb paused as he took a second to think while he got up. "That actually may work."
Phineas was already sticking his hands all around the racks of the garage. "Where did we put it?"
"Last month's box is over here."
"Yeah, but we put it in scraps," Phineas continued with his hands far back behind several crates. "Wait, I think I... I think I grabbed it."
Phineas stretched farther until he had his whole grip, then drew out what he thought he found. He looked at it in the bright light, and saw that it was a flat green circuit board with wires, electrical pads and a little metal shaft sticking out of one side.
"Here it is!" Phineas revealed. He pulled it up to his face and squinted at each little weaving of copper and gold that was intricately designed into the panel. "Output lies on the vertical array... And input is along horizontal..."
Phineas had delicately pinched one of the wires and pulled it carefully off of its fasteners. He did the same with a second wire, pulling it overtop of the first and twisting the two shimmery brown lines around each other.
The circuit itself had a toggle latch that was made to form a break in the system. It sat open now, and Phineas placed his forefinger onto it, ready to close it and finish the pathway. Straightening his arms out in front of himself, Phineas held the panel so that the small metal shaft faced forward, much like a handgun at a shooting range.
"Okay," Phineas finally said. "I'm gonna hold it here, and you go stand in front of it."
There was a sound of footsteps as Ferb kicked the boxes out of the way. "Fire," he permitted.
Ferb closed his eyes as he braced himself. Phineas slowly let his finger loose on the toggle switch, and the shaft charged up. A bolt of what almost could have been lightning formed on it and burst out to the edges of the room.
Then silence followed. Ferb held his arms tense at his sides as he blinked his nervous eyes. He turned towards Phineas, and their gazes immediately locked. A surprised anticipation crossed over Ferb, and he lifted a finger to point questioningly at himself.
Dropping the device uncaringly to the floor, Phineas held his hands at the ready like he did not know what to do with them. "It's... It's you! You're right there!" Then Phineas grew concerned, and stretched his entire arm out to point directly at Ferb's head.
"But, FERB! You said that you weren't hurt!" Phineas was focused on an area of Ferb's face. "What in the world happened to your face?"
"Why? What does it look like?" he asked, hearing the disturbed undertone. He found a glass mirror that was sitting on one of the nearby shelves, and glanced into it.
He was quite startled by what he saw, but smirked as he understood. The entire patch of skin around his right eye had turned an unnatural shade of black, and there was a small scab over his lip.
"OH! That," he said as he examined the damage. " 'Isabella with a two-by-four' happened."
Phineas struggled not to choke on a giggle. "Well, she was only trying to protect me," he said through a big smile.
"Yeah," Ferb said sarcastically as he placed the mirror back on the shelf. "From the ghost that was trying to eat you."
"The ghost..." Phineas whispered distractedly. But Ferb purposefully interrupted him.
"So. Muted and invisible. Not a good combo."
Phineas looked at his brother and gave him a new smile that this time looked like it had to press its way to the surface. It did, however, grow the longer it was on his face.
"I'm just glad that was all it was."
Ferb came over and gave him a warm hug around the shoulders with one arm. "Same here, Phineas. Definitely same here."
"Phineas!" came a voice from inside the house. "What are you doing out there? Dinner is almost ready!"
"Coming, Mom!" Phineas called out, clutching Ferb by the arm and dragging him along as they ran through the door.
They came into the kitchen where their father was already at the table, starting on his salad.
"Oh, hello boys," he greeted as he looked up. "Ferb, I didn't know you were back already. Did you have fun?"
"Did I have...fun...?" Ferb answered with a confused expression and tone. An elbow was suddenly shoved into his stomach.
Phineas quickly shushed him and spoke from behind his hand. "You went on the field trip with Mr. Schneider's class."
Ferb leaned over and whispered into Phineas' ear. "...I did?"
"Yes, yes you did. Say something, cause Dad's staring at us."
"Ooohhh... Yeah I had lots of fun, but they had to send me home a bit early," Ferb gestured to his injured eye. "I sort of clobbered myself while walking into a pole."
"Gotta watch out for those things," their dad replied. "They can come out of nowhere."
"Oh, honey," their mom said as she came over and hugged him. "We'll have to take you to the doctor tomorrow."
"I'm okay, Mom," he answered with assurance.
"Well a good meal will make you feel better. I made meatloaf for all of us."
"Yummmm," Phineas and Ferb both hummed as they sat down before their plates.
Isabella, Baljeet, and Buford were congregated around their lockers, each placing and organizing their respective books for that morning's class.
Isabella pressed her art textbook across her chest. "Oh, I hope I wasn't too hard on Phineas last night," she sighed. "But I wonder if he really did listen and told his parents about what happened."
"I don't know," Buford said with indifference. "Phineas has been really off lately."
"He just misses Ferb," Baljeet explained, then stopped for a moment. "But I miss him too."
"Yeah..." Isabella said with thought. "Nothing is the same without him around. Study hall isn't the same... Visiting the Flynn-Fletcher house isn't the same..."
She held onto her books tighter. "...Phineas isn't the same..."
Baljeet was about to agree, when he yelped a bit and stared over Isabella's shoulder.
"What's wrong, Baljeet? You look like you've seen a- Wait..." Isabella spun around to see where Baljeet was staring, her hair flying in a circle at the speed of her movement.
Walking in through the school's glass doors, wearing a huge smile on his face, was Phineas. Coming in closely behind him, was the green-haired, also smiling, face of Ferb. He saw them and was waving welcomingly.
"Is that...?" Baljeet started, but was interrupted by Phineas running up to them.
"Hi guys!" he said energetically. But his greeting almost went unnoticed, as everyone had their focus on the almost unreal person standing next to him.
Buford had the widest eyes. "Are you… a zombie?"
"Am I a zombie? What kind of a question is that, Buford?" Ferb replied, pestering him with a happy and amused smirk.
"But he's right!" Isabella exclaimed frantically. "Look at your eye! Where were you that you got hurt so bad?"
Ferb just continued his smiling and replied lightheartedly, "Next time you are fighting off ghosts, try not to use a huge plank of wood."
Isabella's hands immediately shot up to her mouth as she gasped with terrified guilt. "Oh my gosh, Ferb, that was you? I am SOOO soooo sorry! Does it still hurt?"
Ferb waved his hand dismissively. "Na, it'll heal. And I know you didn't mean it."
"But if I had known it was you I would've never-! I wasn't thinking…. Something had hold of Phineas… and there was fire… and I panicked and thought of the first thing I could…."
Isabella was still apologizing when the five minute school bell rang throughout the hall. Phineas grabbed his own physics book and tossed Ferb's into his hands.
"C'mon, Ferb, we're gonna be late!" he said as he grabbed both his and Ferb's bags and held them in his arms as an oversized bundle. "And I think Professor Dreyman wants to nominate you for an award or something."
Ferb nodded, and with a last merry wave to his friends, followed his brother down the hall to their first period of the day.
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All My PnF Fanfics:
PnF: Ghosts (Viewing)
PnF: Stolen Identity
PnF: Stuck Like Brothers
PnF: Mind Trapped
PnF: Species is a Constant
PnF: Lifeleap (Currently Posting)