The three donned their coats and shoes, then went across the street to Isabella's house. Phineas opened the door and held it for Gretchen and his brother. The rest of the party-goers were playing various games and eating snacks. "There you are Gretchen. We've been waiting for you." Katie said as she came over and hugged her friend. Isabella soon appeared. "I'm so sorry Gretchen." She said then turned to Ferb. "I thought you weren't coming." Ferb's eyes became cold and Gretchen stepped over and leaned into him. "He's my boyfriend, Isabella." She said and Ferb cautiously, yet casually, placed his hand on her back. Isabella smiled at him and grabbed Phineas by the hand and dragged him further into the living room.
A group of girls came up to Gretchen and pulled her into the thick of things. Ferb leaned against the wall and scanned the room. He then stepped into the kitchen and sat down. Buford came in and got himself a drink. "It's hot out there." He commented and he leaned against the counter, drink in hand. Ferb shrugged. "So, you and Gretchen are an item now?" Buford inquired and Ferb nodded. "So, why is she out there and you're in here?" Ferb looked up at his friend and Buford continued. "Isabella... right. She really messed up didn't she. I mean, it was Dinner-bell who told me that you told her that she totally missed Gretchen's birthday. The poor girl must have been devastated." He said then quickly finished as he saw Ferb's eyebrow start to disappear. "Not that I care. I was invited to finish off the cake."
Vivian and Isabella had hung a piñata over the upstairs banister and Gretchen was given the honour of taking the first swing. She was blindfolded and given a broom handle. Isabella and Adyson spun her around and everyone cheered as she tried to take a swing at it. Everyone else, in the room, took a turn. It was then Gretchen's turn again, she was spun around and the handle connected with the piñata and the contents spilled out and onto the floor.
Buford had re-joined the party just in time to dive in and collect some of the candies and prizes. Gretchen escaped the human knot of arms reaching for the spoils of the piñata, and looked around for her boyfriend. She stepped into the kitchen and saw him sitting at the table. "Are you okay?" She inquired of him as she came up beside him. Ferb nodded his head and wrapped his arm around her waist. "Are you having fun?" She asked with a smile and he nodded again.
Isabella walked into the kitchen looking for another bag of chips. "Between Buford and Phineas all the chips are gone, again." She complained. "Why are you guys here? The party's in the living room." Ferb pulled Gretchen onto his lap. "We're okay at the moment Iz." Gretchen said with a slight giggle. "What did you get out of the piñata, Gretchen?" Isabella inquired and Gretchen shook her head. I got out of the wave of people before I got crushed."
Isabella stood there with her hand covering her mouth for a moment, she then pulled something out of her pocket. "Here, it's a couple of gift certificates to..." She looked at them. "... the cupcake shop and the bookstore. Hey, perfect. You can have them." Isabella said as she handed them over to Gretchen. "Thanks Isabella, are you sure?"
Gretchen went back to the party with Ferb. He was pulled into a game of "Musical Twister", after a few minutes he extracted himself from that and went to sit on the couch. Phineas came over and sat beside him. "Hey, Bro. Some party huh?" Ferb nodded. "So, are you and Gretchen going to be doing anything later?" Phineas inquired and Ferb shrugged his shoulders. "Isabella was wondering if..." Ferb turned and silenced his brother with a stare. Phineas looked sheepish for a moment. "Yeah, the other night didn't go so well. I'm sorry, I should have said something. Though, in my defence you're not exactly a fountain of information."
"Time for cake, then presents." Isabella announced and went to get the cake from the kitchen. Gretchen tried to make her way over to sit with Ferb, but she was pulled down to sit with her former Fireside Girls' troop. As Isabella came back everyone sang 'Happy Birthday' to Gretchen. As everyone ate their cake, the girls kept asking Gretchen questions about Ferb, being a Jr. Leader, Ferb, school and Ferb. She kept nodding her head and glancing in the general direction of where Ferb was sitting. She glanced away to answer a quick question that Holly asked and when she looked back toward the couch, Ferb wasn't there.
Isabella and Adyson started handing presents over to the birthday girl, everyone 'Oohed and Awwed' at the new DVDs and the new touch screen, they giggled at the gift cards to her favourite book store and nodded appreciatively at the photo collage Isabella put together from all the adventures they had together as Fireside Girls.
Gretchen gave her friends hugs as she tried to make her way around the room to find Ferb. He wasn't in the living room, nor was he in the kitchen. "Phineas?" She asked as she caught up with him. "Have you seen Ferb in the past few minutes?" He cast his eyes downward. "He went home, he said he wasn't feeling well." Gretchen tried not to cry. Phineas noticed, waived Isabella over and placed his arm around the shorter girl. "Here's my phone, call him." He said as he directed her toward the stairs. Isabella looked at them with her head cocked to the side. Phineas sighed, "Ferb went home, can you take her upstairs so she can have some privacy to call him."
Isabella soon returned and kissed Phineas. "What was that for?" He asked. "Letting your brother leave. Every time I looked around he was just sitting there with a dark cloud over his head." She replied. Phineas took Isabella by the hand and walked into the kitchen. "Izy, the other night..." He started and she rolled her eyes. "You're not still going on about that are you?" He nodded. "I have to. Some things were said that shouldn't have been said. I don't know what happened, though I do know that Ferb's tournament was supposed to last all weekend. He was home early, unusually early." He said. "Then Gretchen wasn't even given the chance to spend any time with him at her own party. I was there when she asked if he would come with her as her boyfriend. It sounded, to me, as though she wanted to spend time with him." Isabella looked at him. "Well, why didn't he join the party then? He could have and then everyone would have had fun."
Gretchen came into the kitchen and handed Phineas his phone back. "Thank you." She said with a small smile then turned to Isabella. "Thank you. I mean it, but I should be heading home." Isabella and Phineas shared a quick look. "You're not going to see Ferb?" He asked, astounded, and Gretchen shook her head. "He said he wants to be alone." Phineas' eyes went wide. "I've gotta go, I'll see you later Iz." He ran out the kitchen door into the back yard, then home. "What's that all about?" Isabella asked and Gretchen sighed. "I don't know."
Isabella grabbed Gretchen by the shoulders and turned to face her. "If you're his girlfriend, you have every right to know what's wrong." Gretchen shook her head. "Sometimes, people just need..." Isabella interrupted her. "If he really wants you as his girlfriend, he'd tell you what's wrong. Then you can help him." Isabella released Gretchen and pulled together some cake, cookies and other assorted snacks from the party. "Take these across the street and find out what his problem is."
Gretchen was shoved out the door with a plate full of party food in her hands. Another storm was picking up. Gretchen made her way across the street to the Flynn-Fletcher house. She cast her gaze to the ground as she rang the doorbell with her elbow.
Ferb was trying to read in his room. I've been taken off the team. The tournament was cancelled due to an investigation into judging practices. Even practices are cancelled indefinitely. He thought to himself as he folded a pillow behind his head. I should send Gretchen a text, I left her party without saying anything to her. He put his book down and reached into his pocket for his phone, it wasn't there. Exasperated, he fully sat up, got off his bed and went over to his desk.
Phineas and Lawrence were in the garage. "...and that's why the entire tournament was cancelled." Lawrence said. Phineas continued to sort through his father's "bucket of bits". "So, Ferb doesn't know?" He asked and his father shook his head. "No, the team members were told on an individual basis that they were off the team due to an investigation. They weren't told that the investigation is sport-wide into the judging practices dating back ten years. I told Ferb that it had nothing to do with him, it was the judges and their favouritism towards certain students. He'll have the opportunity to re-test for his level three within a few months." Lawrence said. Phineas picked up a small pile of bolts and put them away. "You mean he could have been level three; but because someone was being bigoted, he's not been given the recognition he deserves. One would think there was a better way around that, a standard set of moves and skills that need to be achieved before advancement can take place." Lawrence nodded. "There is a list of criteria that needs to be met."
Linda was in the kitchen preparing dinner for her family when the doorbell rang. She walked through to the entrance and opened the door. "Gretchen, come in out of the storm dear." She said as she took the plate out of the girl's hands and closed the door behind her. "Ferb, dear. You've got a visitor." Linda called out then invited Gretchen into the living room. "I'm sure he'll be down in a moment."
Gretchen nervously stepped further into the house and saw a set of feet followed by legs descend the stairs. She looked to the floor then closed her eyes tight. I shouldn't be here, I should have just gone home. I could have tried sending him a text after dinner. A hand was placed on her shoulder. "Gretchen, I'm happy to see you." Ferb said as he hugged her tight. "I'm sorry I left the party without saying anything, I thought I could get through it... I just couldn't. Then I couldn't get near enough to you to say anything." He said as he walked with her into the den.
Ferb and Gretchen sat and talked. "So, that's what's been bothering you." She said and he nodded sadly.
Phineas walked past the den, and looked in, on his way to the bathroom to wash up. He came back down the hallway and entered the den to see his brother's arms wrapped around Gretchen, pulling her close. He glanced at his watch. "The record for kissing is over two and a half days guys." He said with a grin as Gretchen's head suddenly fell and buried itself into Ferb's chest. "Oh, you were just trying to break the hugging record? That's just twenty-four and a half hours." Phineas joked with his brother who was glaring at him. "Lighten up! I'm trying here Ferb, and you're not making it easy."
A frantic knock was heard at the front door. Laughing at his brother's expense, Phineas went to answer it. "Isabella, what are you doing here?" She barged passed him and closed the door against the wind. "You left in such a hurry, you forgot your coat." She said, cheeks flushed as she handed his coat over. "I would have been here sooner, but I had to clean up. Everyone left and I had no help." Phineas took his coat, hung it up and escorted her into the living room. "Everyone said they had a good time, despite everything." She said as she took a seat, and finally a breath. Phineas smiled at her, People say that I talk too fast. He thought. "Would you like something to drink? I think Mom's got some sodas or juice in the fridge." He asked her. Isabella shook her head and pulled him down to sit with her. "I just want to sit for a while." She said as she nuzzled up against him.
Gretchen leaned into the sofa and rested her head against Ferb's shoulder. "I should be heading home soon." She said. Ferb ran his fingers through her hair. "Would you like to go to the movies later?" He asked as he watched her. Gretchen turned and looked into his blue eyes. "I've got a Fireside Girls' meeting to supervise this evening." She said sadly. Ferb leaned in to kiss her. "What about after?" He whispered with a smile. "I promise to be in a better mood." He finished and Gretchen grinned back. "I'd like that." She said and passionately kissed him.
Sunday afternoon, Phineas and Isabella were out; so Ferb invited Gretchen over. "I love Isabella like a sister, but, oh my goodness... she can be intense." Gretchen commented and Ferb agreed. They sat and talked about the party. Gretchen had brought over a couple of the DVDs she had received and they watched them.
Phineas and Isabella came back and walked into the den half-way through the second movie. "All this rain is ruining my hair." Isabella complained, causing Phineas to smile at her. "I don't care, you're still the most beautiful girl here." Ferb leaned over to Gretchen. "That's his opinion." He whispered in her ear.
Phineas and Isabella left at the end of the movie to go upstairs. Ferb took this opportunity to kiss Gretchen.
Linda knocked on the door frame to the den causing Ferb to look up. He then closed his eyes tight and blushed in embarrassment. "It's okay Ferb, I was just talking with Trudy and Gretchen can stay for dinner tonight. Her father will pick her up later." Linda said and left. "Dinner's in 20 minutes." She called back.
After dinner, unbeknownst to Linda, Phineas and Isabella went upstairs. Ferb and Gretchen made it known that they could be found in the den, if needed.
Gretchen and Ferb were once again, cuddled up on the couch, under a blanket as they tried watching some television. They were so focused on each other they didn't hear the doorbell, nor did they hear Will Weiss as he stepped into the room.
"Gretchen!" He called causing Ferb to fall off the couch. He looked up and scooted as fast as he could across the room. "Mr. Weiss, sir. I'm sorry sir, it'll never happen again." Will started to laugh as his daughter sat up, hair dishevelled. "It had better happen again." He said then turned to Lawrence, who was standing beside him shaking his head.
Ferb stood up, then went back and helped Gretchen to her feet. He walked with her to the front door avoiding eye contact with their fathers. He helped her with her coat, then nervously looked over his shoulder before whispering to her. "I love you Gretchen." She smiled at him "I love you too, Ferb."