Chapter 14

The sprint towards the amusement park pier took half as long as any other travel they had made through Danville during those weeks. Mostly because Ferb had not stopped for even a second as Phineas was dragged along behind him.

They tripped over their feet as they both came to a sliding skid at the park's entryway. This location, too, was void of people, but not in an unsettling way like the others had been. Here, the park had long since been abandoned and now held a feel that the neglected grounds were longing for any consideration.

Ferb pushed through the broken gates and made his way towards the start of the park's rollercoaster. Phineas trudged his feet through the thick dirt alongside him, until the twists of the coaster's track came into view.

They both came to a slow stop, and planted their feet in front of the several parked roller cars. Passing their gazes over all of them, it was Phineas who first spoke up.

"Which one is it?"

Taking a moment of thought and a breath, Ferb drew out a finger to point directly at one on the far side. It was a bright red color, with yellow licks of fire painted along the side. "That one."

Clambering over the unneeded cars, Ferb made his way towards the clear one he had indicated. Phineas did so as well, and watched as Ferb lifted himself over and came to sit firmly on the curved plastic seat.

Once he had been settled, Ferb gripped his hands securely on the silver safety bar. After gathering himself, Ferb looked up at Phineas, who was still standing up straight beside the car. "…Are you going to come over here and sit with me?"

"Huh? No, I'm not going," Phineas replied calmly. Ferb kept his inquisitive face pointed at him.

Then Phineas respectfully closed his eyes, and gave a surprisingly mature shake of his head. When he opened them again, he finally answered, "Maybe it was fun, but you've told me yourself, Ferb. I don't exist. And this isn't where you belong."

Taking his gaze off of the track, Ferb glanced over the pier at the grey towers of Danville, and upwards at the dark and cloudy sky. Then he peered back to Phineas, saying, "But I can't leave you all alone here, in this gloomy place."

"But Ferb," was Phineas' reply, coming a little closer to the side of the car to talk to him better. He showed a small, modest grin. "You're not leaving me anywhere. I was never even here to begin with. I'm the same as this whole place: All in your head."

He pointed a finger at the tracks in front of Ferb. "And right now, Real Phineas really wants you to wake up."

"He does?" Ferb said, eagerly looking all around himself as he sat up straighter. "Can you hear him somewhere?"

Phineas laughed a bit, almost amused. "I don't have to hear him to know that. I know that because YOU know that!"

Gripping harder onto the bar, Ferb planted his feet against the plastic inside of the car, and faced ahead. Phineas prompted, "So wake up, Ferb…! Wake up!"

Wake up!

Ferb's ears felt fuzzy as Phineas' voice began to grow softer. It sounded as though it was becoming distant, yet Ferb felt no wind against his face and no change in balance to tell him that he was moving.

Turning around, Ferb meant to check if he could see anything receding behind him. But then he realized that he had lost his vision. He tried to grip harder onto the metal bar to avoid the feeling of vertigo, but he could no longer tell where his arms or legs were. His mind spun as ambiguous sounds warped into deafening silence, and the blackness around him slid towards a dark red color.

Only after he slowly regained feeling in his limbs did Ferb realize that he had been cold. Now, as the quietness faded off to be replaced by slow, melodic blips, he felt a welcoming sensation of warm coziness along all his arms, legs, and chest. Finally, after days and days of yearning, he could really feel himself.

Phineas rested, exhausted, with his cheek squished against his crossed arms. He had been trying his hardest to stay up for as long as he could, but eventually he had given in and accidentally nodded off on the comfortable white bed sheet.

He was awoken by a soft shape that grazed the top of his wrist, and Phineas tipped his eyes open. He saw that Ferb's hand was draped lightly over his own. Raising his head, Phineas merely gazed tiredly at it, thinking the automatic thought, I don't remember lying that there before I fell asleep.

Then the paper band on Ferb's arm moved a bit as the fingers twitched, and Phineas felt an almost undetectable squeeze around his wrist.

Phineas slowly moved to pull up his chin from resting on the covers. He turned his head to follow Ferb's arm upwards to his face, where he saw a little slit under his lowly raised eyelids. Beneath them, Phineas spotted half of a hidden pupil: staring right at him.

Feeling his own heart stop right in his chest, Phineas choked on the lump that had jumped into his throat. He felt as though his lungs had collapsed, as he could not force himself to take another breath of air.

"F-F-Ferb?" Phineas mumbled almost inaudibly. He reached over to clutch Ferb's hand desperately between both of his. "Your eyes are open… are you… are you…?"

Lowering the lids, Ferb's eyes made several slow, tight blinks. With each re-opening, his pupils were focused on a different corner of the room, and no part of his body moved aside from the muscles in his face. After enough of these, the irises returned to looking at Phineas.

With his teeth clamping down on the plastic connector in his mouth, Ferb brightened and Phineas felt another, firmer, squeeze on his hand. Then, Ferb grew the tiniest little smile that crept onto the corner of his lip.

"FERB!" Phineas exclaimed, releasing his grip on his hand and leaping ecstatically, straight onto the top of the bed. He wrapped his arms quickly around Ferb's neck. Immediately Ferb sat up and began to let out a nasty, muffled cough.

This caused Phineas to recoil back almost as fast as he had jumped forward. He did not waste a second to cover his own mouth in fright, and begin worrying, "Oh! I'm so sorry Ferb! I hope I didn't hurt you, did I?"

He elected to, instead, just hug Ferb by the arm. When he had to let go, Phineas looked back upwards so he could see Ferb's face again. His eyes were still focused intently on Phineas, as if he had never moved them off.

Standing up from where he had sat back in his chair, Phineas set Ferb's arm safely on the bedside and told him frenetically and caringly, "Hold on, we have to get somebody to take that silly thing out of your mouth!"

Running over to the hallway door, Phineas gripped his fingers on the side of the moulding and leaned his head out as far as it could go. His mind was still under the irrational fear that if his feet left the room, he might lose his brother all over again.

"I need people in here!" Phineas shouted out to the employees in the hallway. "Everybody! He just woke up! Ferb! Just! WOKE! UP!"

A doctor set his papers away and rushed into the room, followed by three nurses, several of whom were bringing various pieces of equipment.

Continuing to remain still otherwise, Ferb's gaze darted overwhelmingly all around him as the personnel came over to his bed. Then the doctor drew out a little light and shone it steadily into the pupil of Ferb's right eye. Ferb paused his shifting and stared into it, trying to resist blinking.

Both the doctor, and Phineas standing anxiously behind him, watched as first the right, and then left eye, shrunk to the light. When it was withdrawn, Ferb returned to watching each person's movements all around him.

"He appears to be responsive and stable," the doctor deduced, while the three other nurses checked the machines of the room. One was adjusting the wires on Ferb's right arm, and the other already had fingers wrapped around the plastic tube near Ferb's face, waiting for a prompt.

Hopping up and down behind the doctor's back, Phineas dipped his head around his arms as he attempted to see around them. He kept repeating, "Can I hug him yet? Can I?"

Nodding, the doctor announced, "It's safe to disconnect the ventilator. He'll be able to breathe on his own." Then, with a click, the plastic piece was detached and Ferb got the chance to pucker his tongue over his mouth's roof.

Not a second later did Phineas, again, launch himself over the bed. This time, however, Ferb was able to react to the surprise hug with merely a sideways smile of his own, and a weakly lifted arm placed over Phineas' back.

"I missed you, Ferb," Phineas whispered gently into his ear. Ferb gripped harder onto Phineas' shoulder and returned with an almost-silent, cracking voice.

"…missed… too…."

"But you're awake now," Phineas said again, as if speaking it over would somehow guarantee its truth. "You woke up… Ferb, you woke up!"

Yanking his cell phone out of his back pocket with one hand, Phineas wrapped his other arm under Ferb's neck, leaning close to him. He stretched out the phone in front of both of them and pulled Ferb tighter. He called out brilliantly, "Say cheese, Ferb!"

Though the room was still spinning around his head, Ferb tried to move his eyes out towards the distant phone in Phineas' hand. He didn't think he succeeded very well, and ended up dizzily staring unfocused in its general direction. Nevertheless, Ferb put on the best smile he could muster, which turned out to be a feeble showing of his teeth. He attempted to lift his tube-covered arm a few inches, and let his limp fingers droop in a partial, encouraging wave.

After the click of the picture, Phineas drew his device back and kept sitting in the folding chair beside Ferb. He had his gaze fixed on the screen, and sent the picture with unhesitant haste to every single person on his contact list. He didn't even take the moment to attach any text to it.

A little tug was felt on Phineas' shirt, and he immediately dropped what he was doing in favor of looking protectively over to Ferb, who had lifted his hand and now pulled with his fingers on the edge of Phineas' sleeve.

Without a moment's thought, Phineas leaned forward with his ear near Ferb's face. Ferb looked at him thankfully, and formed the hoarse word, "…water…?'

"OH! Yes! No, yeah, of course I can get you water!" Phineas fretted as he leapt upwards. He spun to address the single nurse, now looking over a clipboard, who had been left in Ferb's room. "Can I go get him water?"

She smiled and looked at the paper before her. Then she pointed with her pencil over to the tangle of wires on Ferb's arm. "He's still on his IV for now, but yes. He'll definitely need to soothe his throat if he wants to be talking tonight."

"Don't you go anywhere, Ferb!" Phineas commanded, squeezing tightly onto his brother's arm as he left his bedside. "I'll be right back."

The hospital bed had been adjusted, and now Ferb was able to sit upright under the covers. About twenty minutes ago Phineas had received a text message reply from his parents, saying that they were closing shop an hour early and would be coming over as soon as they could.

Phineas had already gone down to the cafeteria and piled up as much food as he could carry onto a black food tray. He had set it gently on the little table over Ferb's lap, and now Ferb-using his right arm that still had several wires connected around it-ravenously shoveled it into his mouth. It was no juicy cheeseburger, but Ferb didn't care. He was hungry.

Phineas was still trying his best to resist hugging him while he ate, but he kept sneaking him one on the arm every so often. He sat back in his chair and whispered cautiously, "Ferb… you were asleep for nearly two weeks. …Do you know that?"

"Sort of…" Ferb responded, rubbing his forehead with the base of his palm. His voice was still dry from lack of use, but he spoke anyway. "I know it's been a while. I was trying to count the days… I lost track at about nine."

"You were… counting the days?" Phineas repeated carefully. Then he gulped and asked quietly, "…What was it like in there?"

"Well," Ferb started as he changed his fork to his other hand. "I had a strange dream."

"A dream?" Phineas said as he slid his chair closer. He shuddered a bit. "Oh, I hope it wasn't a nightmare, was it?"

Ferb paused his eating and looked to the corner of his eye with thought. Then he returned to his food saying, "It started out like one. Then… it sort of turned into an adventure. Very much glad to be home, though."

Phineas tilted his head slightly, in interest. "An adventure? What happened in it?"

Though he had just taken another mouthful of food, Ferb replied, "…Mom was there, and Candace..."

Then Ferb pointed his fork at his brother. "And you, Phineas. You were there, too."

"I was?"

Ferb just nodded, preoccupied by scooping up the last of his meal onto his fork. Then he swallowed and looked back up to the bright-eyed Phineas. Ferb pushed his cleaned plate away and mentioned, "Hey, Phin, can I ask you a question?"

"Sure, Ferb! You can ask me anything," Phineas responded cheerfully without even a breath.

After a second of thought, Ferb offered his request, "What do you think of when you hear "round and round"?"

Phineas cocked his head and stared back to Ferb with a confused face. Ferb just smiled, adding, "I know it's a funny question. But I'm curious."

Doing a nonobjective shrug, Phineas sat back and closed his eyes. He took a second, and then began to hum a familiar tune. He opened his mouth and followed along, "The wheels on the bu—"

"Okay, okay, you can stop," Ferb interrupted, chuckling with an odd amusement that seemed, to Phineas, to have come from nowhere. He breathed through his laugh and shook his head. "I know you far too well for my own good."

Sounding a little concerned, Phineas asked, "You do?"

"Yep," was Ferb's simple answer. Then, he moved his empty plate and tray off of his legs and onto the table beside him. He lifted up his arm as and invitation to Phineas.

Taking it eagerly, Phineas scooted up and sat beside him. Ferb wrapped his arm strongly over his brother's shoulders.

Responding to him, Ferb added another sentence. "And you know, that's just the way I like it."

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All My PnF Fanfics:

PnF: Timeloops

PnF: Ghosts

PnF: Stolen Identity

PnF: Stuck Like Brothers

PnF: Mind Trapped (Viewing)

PnF: Species is a Constant

PnF: Lifeleap (Currently Posting)