Chapter Twelve

The emcee approached the microphone.

"Apologies for the delay, but we had a last-minute substitution for our final entrant! This is number 37, singing an original song, from Troop 46231, Isabella Garcia-Shapiro!"

Upon hearing Isabella's name, Holly stopped lowering her head and felt Ginger grab her at the shoulders and shake her with joy and relief. The two were joined by the others as they watched Isabella take the stage. The DJ had been given the CD which had the music for her song, and he started playing it.

Isabella started singing immediately.

I woke up late, I tempted fate
I ended up at the wrong airport!
I flew outta there, I got in the air
But time was running so, so short!
The big storm hit, I threw a fit
And I had nowhere that I could go-go-go!
It felt like the end, I really needed a friend
And there are six I'm glad I know!

Friends are what get you through the darkest days!
They pick you up,
They put you down,
But they're always there when you need them.
Friends will help you through your darkest days!
Through thick and thin,
Over hill and dale,
They'll be waiting for you at the end.

"Is she telling the story about what happened to her?" Adyson asked Ginger.

"Yeah!" replied Ginger. "She should write a giant entry for the blog about this!"

I wouldn't pout, 'cause I found an out
I borrowed a sturdy hot air balloon!
I flew outta there, was back in the air
Thought I was safe, but I spoke too soon!

That storm again, oh what a pain
Would this be the end of my tale-tale-tale?
It felt like the end, I really needed a friend
Good that I have six I can name, no fail!

Friends are what get you through the darkest days!
They pick you up,
They put you down,
But they're always there when you need them.
Friends will help you through your darkest days!
Through thick and thin,
Over hill and dale,
They'll be waiting for you at the end.

Woke up in the middle of nowhere
Thanked those who saved me and told them to 'take care'
Only way out was to ride the train
Had no money left to get back on a plane!
It broke down just 20 miles away
Enough's enough, I'm getting to DC today!

Don't speak French; I have a wrench
Let me help get this thing back on track!
That was a cinch, fixed it in a pinch
Hear that train go clack-click-clack!
The journey's done, hello Washington
I've got six friends to meet up with downtown!
I may be late, I tested fate
But I wouldn't let my good friends down!

Friends are what get you through the darkest days!
They pick you up,
They put you down,
But they're always there when you need them.
Friends will help you through your darkest days!
Through thick and thin,
Over hill and dale,
They'll be waiting for you at the end.

They'll be waiting for you at the end.

The second the music ended, the crowd erupted with cheers and applause. Isabella stood there for a minute, breathing heavily as her performance had left her a little short of breath. Finally, she made her way off the stage, finding the girls waiting for her. They greeted her with a massive hug, all at once.

"That was amazing!"

"We missed you!"

"Did that all really happen?"

"You were great!"

The group finally let go of Isabella so she could speak.

"Thanks, girls! I missed you all too!"

Adyson then got in front of Isabella. She, to Isabella's surprise, was not happy.

"I'm glad you saved my tail out there. Now, if you ever, ever, EVER leave me in charge again…"

Isabella smirked. "I see you missed me most of all."

The two shared a long, tight hug.

"How are you going to handle the pressures of being class president when school starts in a few weeks?"

"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it."

It took 15 minutes for the judges to tabulate the scores, as well as a few more minutes for the emcee to announce the top ten. Elizabeth and Isabella were among those on the side of the stage, waiting to see if their name was going to be called. Elizabeth was the first to hear hers, but it was not exactly where she wanted it.

"Fourth place?" Elizabeth grumbled as she came off the stage with her fourth-place certificate. "Philistines!"

Elizabeth sulked off to the side as the third- and second-place awards were given out. Isabella was still standing there empty-handed as the emcee was ready to announce who the winner was.

"With a score of 29.8, the winner of the Talent Show event is… Isabella Garcia-Shapiro of Troop 46231!"

Isabella jumped for joy and then ran on stage to get her first-place trophy. Elizabeth stomped her foot in disgust and then walked away, insulted by the result. On stage, the emcee handed Isabella the trophy, and upon receiving it, she proudly raised it above her head for everyone to see. She got a heavy round of cheers and applause from the crowd, especially from her own troop, as well as Lucy and the girls of Troop 10264. But winning the Talent Show event was not the reason why she was happy to finally make it to the Jam.

She was happy because she was reunited with her friends.

The sun began to set, but the Talent Show event was not the last competition of the day. Isabella joined her girls as they tried to have some fun as well as try to get back into the Troop of the Year competition. They continued working at it the next morning, in the final few events on Sunday.

But eventually, the Jam had to end, and a Troop of the Year had to be named. Isabella and the girls were in the audience gathered near the Washington Memorial as Eliza M. Feyerseid took the stage to make the announcement.

"And this year's Troop of the Year is… Troop 17090! Let's give 'em a round of applause!"

The girls that represented the winning troop gathered up on stage and celebrated, while their fellow Fireside Girls gave them a standing ovation. Isabella and the others were genuinely happy for Troop 17090 even though they had come to Washington hoping they would be the ones celebrating.

"Good for them," Isabella said. "They earned it."

"Chief," Gretchen asked, "do you think if you had been here for the whole Jam that we would be the ones on the stage right now?"

"Not sure. Even though I've only been here a day, it didn't take long for me to discover that the competition was much, much tougher this year than last. If we really wanna make a run at it next year, we're going to have to step it up."

"As long as you're leading us," Adyson said, "we'll do whatever we need to."

The girls were already looking forward to next year's Jam, but the members of Troop 28933 were not. Their heads were hanging low in shame as they walked passed Isabella's troop, all except for Elizabeth, who was not pleased with their performance and was letting them not about it.

"I can't believe we didn't even place! All of that work for nothing! You girls should be ashamed of yourselves!"

Isabella stepped in to interject.

"Elizabeth, they're your friends! You shouldn't be treating them like that!"

"Who are you to tell me how to run my troop, Isabella? You think you have that authority because your troop placed and mine didn't?"

"That has nothing to do with it!"

"Whatever! We were supposed to show your troop up AND win Troop of the Year, but since we failed miserably at both, it's time to treat them in a way equivalent to how much effort they gave this weekend! Not enough!"

"But you can't do that! They'll end up hating you, all because you're more consumed with winning than having friends! Then when next year's Jam comes around, what'll happen when you have no one to help you out?"

"Well, for one," someone cut in, "you might end up like me."

The two leaders turned around and were surprised when they saw a 13-year old blonde standing behind them. One who looked familiar to them, but whose name they could not place.

"Do we know you?" Isabella asked.

She pointed at Isabella's beret, signaling that she wanted to borrow it. Isabella obliged. Once the teenager put on the beret, she suddenly became instantly recognizable to Elizabeth, Isabella, and the entirety of Troop 46231.

"SARAH ANDERSON!" all eight of them yelled.

"What are YOU doing here?" growled Elizabeth.

"We thought you were banned from the Fireside Girls," Isabella said aloud.

"True, but as a participant. I can still come as a spectator."

Elizabeth turned away from Sarah, crossing her arms over her chest. But her former superior was not going to give up that easily.

"I hear you resent me after all the work you had to do to restore the troop after it was gutted thanks to us, er, me cheating. Oh, speaking of, Isabella… no grudge for busting us."

"You're welcome! I think."

"The way I ran the troop, the only thing that mattered to me was to win Troop of the Year at all costs. Even if it meant using sparklers when they were against the rules. Not only did I get kicked out of the troop, I lost the trust of most my friends, both within and outside the Fireside Girls. I'd do anything to take back what I did last year. But I know no matter how much I ask for forgiveness, I'd never be allowed to rejoin the organization. And even if given the chance, I don't deserve it. I treated my troop horribly, and for that I'm sorry."

Sarah then put her arm around Elizabeth.

"Look, I don't want you to go down the same road. You're a great leader! I mean, you proved that just by saving the troop from extinction and rounding them into the talented group of girls that arrived here two days ago with a fairly good shot at redeeming our troop's honor and winning Troop of the Year. Fairly! I don't see why you're being so hard on them. Without them, there would be no troop! They are as much responsible for you all being here as you are. Together, you all saved the troop and restored its good name. You may not have won Troop of the Year, but you are still equally responsible for the end result. Just because you've hit the big time doesn't mean that you get to act like some big shot. They may not be happy with what happened here, but they're not taking it out on you or each other!"

"Winning Troop of the Year isn't the main reason we come to the Jamboree ever year," Isabella said, putting in her two cents. "It's because you get to go to another part of the country and spend three great, fun-filled days with the girls you love! The girls and I are always friends first, Fireside Girls second. And that's why we get along so well! Elizabeth, you have to realize that you and your troop will never be among the best unless you respect one another."

"It's not just one leader and the rest of the troop," added Adyson. "You look out for them, and they'll look out for you."

"That's what friends do!" exclaimed Gretchen.

Elizabeth nodded in understanding. "All this time, I only cared about redeeming the troop, no matter what it took. But I failed to realize that doing what it took didn't mean pushing for nothing but total victory and not being willing to accept anything less. I should've realized that all I needed to do was to be a comforting hand, to support my girls both in glorious victory and in sorrowful defeat."

She walked over to her troop.

"I'm sorry for acting the way I have, especially these last few days. Can you ever forgive me, girls?"

The girls answered by gathering around Elizabeth and giving her a big group hug.

"You're a great leader, Elizabeth," Sarah said. "There's still a few things you have to learn, but I'm glad you took over as leader of the troop."

"Thanks, Sarah! That means a lot coming from you!"

"Y'know," Isabella cut in, "our troops are based less than an hour apart. Maybe some time our two troops can get together and do something friendly together."

"I'd like that."

Isabella and the girls waved farewell as the van carrying Elizabeth's troop pulled away from the curb and began the trek to the airport for the trip back home. They also left Sarah, who wanted to see if she could catch up with some other Fireside Girls that she used to know.

"Well," Isabella said to the group, "we didn't defend our title, but I still think this Jam made us closer than ever!"

"I couldn't agree more!" exclaimed Holly, who had gotten her voice back earlier that morning.

"And extending our streak to three years in the Top 20 ain't bad either," said Adyson, as she gazed upon their small seven-inch team trophy. "After this wild weekend, we'll take it."

"So, girls, we've got a few hours before we have to get to the airport for our flight home. What do you all wanna do?"

Suddenly, Adyson's cell phone rang.

"Oh, for crying out loud…"

She pulled it out, but this time, she actually recognized the number.

"How did Candace get my number?"

She decided to answer it.


The girls crowded around her to see what was up. A few seconds later, Adyson pulled it away from her ear and held it out towards Isabella.

"It's Phineas," she said, smirking. "He wants to talk to you."

"Ooh!" cooed the others.

Isabella took it and walked a few steps away to get some privacy.

"Hi, Phineas!"

"Hi, Isabella! Is the Jamboree over? Long story short, our trip's making a short stop in DC and I've got an hour or two of free time. Wanna hang out?"

"REALLY? But… what about Ferb?"

"Oh, he's got other plans. It'll just be you and me."

Isabella was overjoyed. This was the moment she had been waiting for. But…

"I would love to, Phineas, but I'm going to have to take a raincheck!"

She looked over her shoulder at the girls.

"The girls and I still need a little more time to bond."


"Sorry. Next time?"

"Yeah. Oh, wait!"


"The last time we talked, you said you had something really important to tell me!"

"Oh, don't worry. It worked itself out."

"Well, okay then."

With that, Isabella hung up.

Phineas lowered the phone from his ear, surprised at what had just happened as he turned towards his stepbrother to tell him.

"Wow. I finally want to spend some time with Isabella, and she says no."

Ferb thought for a second before responding.

"I guess when girls want to have a weekend to themselves, you let them."

"You're done talking already?" questioned Adyson as Isabella gave her friend her phone back.

"Yeah. I'll have plenty of time to talk to Phineas once we get back home. But for now, we've got some bonding to do."

Isabella tapped Adyson on the shoulder with her hand.

"TAG! You're it!"

Everyone else scattered, while Adyson stood there. First looking dumbfounded and then angry.

"Isabella! Are you, like, six?"

Isabella had only taken a few steps, but stopped upon hearing Adyson's voice.

"So, I guess that's code for 'You're too slow to catch me?'"

"Okay, Izzy! You asked for it!"

Adyson put the trophy in her bag and then took off after Isabella.

"You gotta catch me first!" giggled Isabella as she started running again.

And with that, the girls spent the rest of the day playing tag. After all, above everything else, they were having fun together.

And that was all they ever wanted from this trip.

The End

Author's Notes:
And that's feature number four of the Fireside Diaries in the books!

I'm glad I did this, because I seem to pick up new readers every time I do one of these things. If you're new to the series, welcome aboard! Hopefully you'll check out the other three features - the mega-hit Phineas is Mine!, the Valentine's-themed one-shot My Salty Sweetwater, and the political-themed I'm Your Next Class President! - as well as the first two seasons of the Fireside Diaries.

If you're already caught up, then you've got a few months to wait before season three begins at the end of this year! I've got 15 great episodes lined up for you, starting with a two-part holiday special this December! Look for promotional material to start coming out towards the latter end of the fall.

That being said, I hope you enjoyed Jamboree Jambalaya, and please feel free to leave your thoughts in a review! I'd really appreciate it!