DISCLAIMER: All characters of Phineas and Ferb are the property of Dan Povenmire, Jeff "Swampy" Marsh, and Disney Channel.


This was going to be the year.

Well...she said that every year.

This was the time.

This was the day.

This would be the moment where it would all fall into place.

The day was meant to showcase love and all of the things that came with it.

All of the things that just she wanted, anyway.

Isabella sat in her room, cross-legged. It was almost time for her to go to bed, but she first had to sort through her collection of gifts. There were two piles in front of her currently: the untidy pile of valentine cards to her left, and the smaller pile of chocolates to her right.

Not realizing that her hand was unconsciously reaching for a piece, she smacked it with her opposite hand. She would just save the tasting for tomorrow.

She sighed, looking over her gatherings. The gestures were nice, if not a little hokey. She was getting to the age where words on a piece of paper weren't just going to cut it anymore.

She needed spoken words.

She needed feelings.

She needed...something.

Isabella grabbed the card on top, opening it up to reveal Buford's muddled handwriting. She set it to the side; the effort was nice, but she knew it was only out of obligation.

She scrolled through the rest of the cards quickly. She had read them already at school, but there was one she needed to see.

Baljeet's perfect penmanship? No.

Django's chicken scratching? No.

Irving's...well, she was just going to call his insistence on giving Phineas something in the card weird and leave it at that.

Even Ferb's heartfelt words wasn't what she was looking for right now.

Aha.

She picked up the very last card in the pile. Phineas' name was written in loopy cursive on the front. It was handmade, like all of the ones in years past. She could tell he had borrowed his mom's crafting scissors, for the edges of the hearts on the front were all ridged.

Isabella opened up the card, wondering what possible message the redhead was going to leave her. She looked down...

And saw nothing.

Except for a tiny silver box.

This was...weird. There wasn't even any markings on the inside. What was that even-

"Hey, Isabella."

She yelped, almost dropping the card on the floor. Whatever she was expecting to be inside, it certainly wasn't this.

"You're probably wondering what I'm doing speaking to you and not writing something out on paper. And probably doing that with that astounded look on your face that you always have when things like this happen."

Astounded look?

She turned her head to her dresser to look at her face. Yup, there it was.

...Huh. She never noticed that.

"I know this sort of holiday calls for something small and sweet, but we both know that I don't really do 'small'. So, here goes."

Isabella set the card on the ground, putting her chin in her hands to listen to his every word.

"It's one thing to give out cards to everyone like a ritual, but it's something else altogether to make an effort. Every time we do something together, it's an effort. Nothing seems like it's forced. And that...what I like about you. We don't have to force anything with each other. It's natural."

She could feel her eyes widen. Was this going to be it?

"People at school go through the motions of a day like this like clockwork. Heck, you should see Adyson give out her cards to the boys at lunch. It's like she's campaigning or something. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but...it's really not my thing."

She giggled at the mention of Adyson. She definitely thought that fit Adyson, whom she remember getting most of her candies jacked by Buford at lunch. The moment had alleviated her nervousness about Phineas for a bit, especially when her troop member had threatened a thousand year curse on poor Buford's family.

"So when you get this card, and you open it up at your house..."

Isabella's brain stopped.

"And eventually put this in your binder..."

And so did her heart.

"I want you to know that I appreciate you give me my own little time and space. That you don't lump me with everyone else."

There was a large pause, and then Phineas spoke up again.

"That I'm just not another card in a pile to you."

Holy cow.

"Which is exactly how I think about you."

Holy cow.

"Which is why I do what I do on this day every year since I can remember. I don't go through the motions when I make my cards for you. I don't repeat the ritual when I do this. Every year is a new adventure. Every time is another experience. And I hope that what we can continue that for as long as we possibly can."

There was some shuffling in the background, just loud enough for Isabella to break out of her reverie.

"And I forgot that these only allow up to five minutes of recording. Dang it. Anyways...I hope you get a lot of chocolate today, because who doesn't like chocolate, right?"

She leaned forward, her nose almost touching the card surface.

"And Happy Valentine's Day."

The static cut out, and Isabella was left with nothing but the sound of silence in her room.

Oh yeah, and the thumping of her now rapid heartbeat.

She sat back up, her head hitting the wall. She had so many questions.

How did he know that she kept her valentines from him unread until after the day was over?

How did he know that they were kept in their own special binder, away from the prying eyes of everyone else?

How did he know?

"Six minutes, actually."

Isabella whipped her head back down, the sounds of Phineas' brother now occupying the air.

"He figured it out on his own, you know."

She raised an eyebrow at the speaker.

"...OK, with a little help from Gretchen and me, but it was mostly him."

She laughed out loud, a little relieved.

"He's coming around, Isabella. Just be patient. He's getting it. Chin up. Oh, and Happy Valentine's Day."

Isabella smiled as the recording finished. She brought her shaking hand up to her cheek, now realizing that a single tear was running down it. She wiped it away, and composed herself.

"Thank you, Ferb," she whispered. "And you too, Gretchen."

She chuckled unconsciously.

"Even though you two are going to get it tomorrow."

She brought the card up to her face to stare at it, her eyes threatening to water up again.

"And thank you...Phineas."

Isabella kissed the front of the card as she stood up. She walked over to her bedside table, opening the bottom draw to reveal her binder. She flipped it to the next empty spot and gingerly put the card in the sleeve. Satisfied, she closed it up.

And paused.

Was it a declaration of love?

No.

Was it a proclamation of romance and affection and mushy stuff?

Not quite.

Was it special?

Absolutely.

It never ceased to amaze Isabella just how much Phineas could surprise her, she realized. Every time she felt like it would be the moment where things fell into place, the redhead had a special way of just messing it up.

But in a good way.

She set the binder down on the floor as she nestled herself under her covers. She didn't get what she wanted, but perhaps that was for the best.

But would it ever happen?

Isabella grinned as she nodded off to sleep.

Well...maybe next year.


AUTHOR'S NOTE: I've said this before, and I'll say it again. I'm not a fan of Valentine's Day.

That being said, the day does serve its purpose. It's a day to let people know just what you mean to them.

It's a day for love.

And I don't like that.

Love comes in many different forms. Love between friends. Love between...more than friends. Love between a child and his/her parents.

And then there's the love that is so deep and unbreakable that it can't be put into any words.

Unless you're a fanfiction author who is trying to get out of a writing funk. :P

Here's the thing. I'm not much for writing about just plain old love. Any monkey can do that. I'm in it for the emotional long haul. For the nuances. For the realizations. For those special, private moments that take a real daft hand to bring out into the light.

That is what I like to write about when it comes to Phinbella: the little things. Because for every Big Idea that Phineas has, I like to think that he has a small one that can make just as much of an impact.

Those moments are something that I think (or I at least like to think) I do well. And I hope that people enjoy that I write like that. I know people have before. With the break that I've had over the past several months, I hope that people think that I still can do it.

But that, of course, is up for you to decide.

Jingles All The Way will be continued, but stay tuned for the next couple of days for news on that.

In the meantime, read and review if you like. If you think I still have it, let me know. If not...well, I'd prefer you not, but you can let me know that as well.

Until next time.