Ferb attended the end of the year award ceremony to watch his brother, girlfriend and a friends receive various awards and 'Certificates of Achievement'. After the ceremony, Ferb waited patiently for his brother. Lawrence came up and stood beside him. "I'm surprised Phineas didn't receive the 'Most Improved Student' award." Ferb turned to his father and raised an eyebrow.
Lawrence placed his hand on his son's shoulder. "This past year wasn't kind to Phin. He was so worried about you, his grades suffered." Ferb looked from his father to the floor. "I had no idea. No one told me." He replied sadly. Lawrence patted Ferb's shoulder. "We didn't want you to worry, you had enough on your plate as it was." Ferb slowly nodded, took a breath and walked away.
Ferb went back to his car and sat for a moment. He turned when he heard a tap on the window. He motioned for her to get in. "What's wrong?" Gretchen asked as Ferb started the car and left the parking lot. Ferb looked intently out the wind shield as he replied. "I had 'too much on my plate' this year." His voice was tight. Gretchen looked worriedly at him. "Where are we going?" She inquired. Ferb didn't look at her. "To the store. I need to buy something." Gretchen looked at him. "What do you need?"
Ferb didn't reply, he continued to drive into town. "Ferb, you're starting to scare me. I love you, please... tell me what's bothering you." Gretchen said, tears threatening at her eyes. He pulled into the parking lot and parked the car.
Ferb turned to face his girlfriend. "Gretchen, I love you too. I'm sorry I've caused you so much grief." He then saw her tears fall. Ferb wiped away a couple of Gretchen's tears with the finger of one hand while reaching for his handkerchief with the other. "Please don't cry." He pleaded as he pulled her into an embrace and placed a kiss on her forehead.
Ferb released her and started to open the car door when Gretchen called out. "Wait. What are you talking about?" Ferb sighed. "I found out that because of me, Phineas had difficulties at school. I should have gone back home last summer." Gretchen let out a sob. "You're so selfish." She complained. "What would have happened if you had gone back? You would've been stuck at school, or with your mother; who you admit can only tolerate you for short amounts of time. It's no wonder! You say no one understands you, could that be because you shut everyone out? You spend more time alone than anyone I've ever met."
Ferb squared his shoulders and faced her. "I'm selfish? I don't want to bother others with my problems; how selfish of me. Last summer when I arrived, I was treated like an invalid by everyone; that's not changed. Though, I do think that I've done remarkably well under the circumstances. How dare I not make unreasonable demands upon others to make sure I'm comfortable; it's my fault I got into the ski accident, I never asked anyone for assistance with anything." He turned away a moment before continuing. "I thought you were different, I thought you understood. I now see I was wrong. You were patronising me all along, just like my brother. As for spending time alone..." Ferb paused and took a deep breath. "I've never enjoyed spending time with others. I've only done so out of courtesy to everyone else, so if I'm so selfish, why do I do things I loath so others can be happy?" He finished and got out of the car.
Ferb went into the store. After a moment, Gretchen followed. "Ferb, wait up." She called as she ran after him. "Ferb. Please." She sobbed. She caught up to him as he was looking at a card display. "Ferb..." Gretchen placed her hand on his arm. "I want to help you, what can I do?" Ferb glanced at her. "You can either try to understand or you can leave." He said and continued looking at cards until he chose one and started walking away, cane in hand.
As he stood waiting in the check out line, he saw a young couple, about his age. They were arguing. She complained that he never bought her gifts. He complained that he had to study and didn't have time to work, therefore he couldn't buy her any gifts. Gretchen's never made demands such as that of me. She really is a sweet, dear girl and I love her more than anything. He thought to himself then stepped out of the line and went to find her.
He found her. She was still standing in the greeting card aisle.
Ferb paused in his step and looked at her a moment. She looks so beautiful, lost and hurt. It's all my fault. Everything's always my fault. He thought to himself and started forward again. Ferb stopped an arms' length away from her. "Gretchen?" He quietly tried to get her attention. He smiled softly when she looked up at him, but quickly frowned when he saw the expression on her face. "I'm sorry I hurt you. I..." He tried before he faltered.
"Ferb." She replied. "I'm the one who should be apologising to you. You're right, you never made any demands on anyone for anything. You were always there for me, Phineas... and Isabella. I never thanked you for defending me to Jason. I was the selfish one who wanted you to go out and do things; knowing that you were in pain. You always put my needs ahead of your own. I don't blame you for being angry with me."
Ferb took a step closer and extended his hand. "Come here, Gretchen." He beckoned. She took his hand and he pulled her into a warm embrace and kissed her passionately.
"I've got to make it up to you, where do you want to go for dinner?" Ferb asked as he kissed her hand and held it.
After dinner they took a drive then returned to Gretchen's house. "Ferb, can we sit up and cuddle for a while?" Gretchen asked hopefully. Ferb nodded and replied. "Sure. That sounds nice."
They both went to their respective rooms and changed.
Gretchen finished putting her pyjamas on and rushed to the TV room and set up a movie. A few minutes later Ferb made his way into the TV room. "You don't have your cane with you." Gretchen commented and Ferb shook his head. "I should be able to use furniture pieces and the walls to..." He started then noticed Gretchen plant her hands on her hips. "If you need help, just ask." She scolded him and he sheepishly smiled and gave her a hug.
Part way through the movie that Ferb and Gretchen had watched countless times, she snuggled up close to him and he rested his head against hers. "Ferb, have you ever thought of taking our relationship to the next level?" She quietly asked him.
Ferb sighed. "I can't." He replied sadly. Gretchen turned to face him. "You don't want to?" She whispered with a hitch in her voice. Ferb shook his head. "It's not that. There's too much neurological damage, I don't have feeling in certain areas, extremities for example. Everywhere else, it's constant pain." He turned and placed a hand on her cheek. "It's not that I don't want to. Trust me, I want to do plenty with you." He said and Gretchen smiled as she looked into his eyes. She knew he was telling the truth, but she had one question she had to ask. "Are you ever going to be able to?" Ferb shrugged his shoulders. "I've been told that I might get feeling back in four to eight years. I've got to arrange further testing to find out for sure."
Gretchen looked at him a moment. "You've not told anyone." She stated and he shook his head in reply. "That's not exactly dinner conversation." He replied. Gretchen leaned forward and kissed him. "Does that hurt?" Ferb smiled. "Not at all." He said and pulled her close. Gretchen shifted, leaned back and pulled him down; not breaking the kiss. Ferb put one hand on the back of the couch to steady himself. Gretchen broke the kiss. "Pain?" Ferb gave her a quick peck on the lips. "Some things are worth the pain." He said and continued, deepening the kiss.
Summer began and Phineas Flynn had a few plans. He wanted to make sure his brother knew exactly how important he was. Ferb was leaving for school in another week. He had to go back early this year; he needed to sign up for his courses. The project wasn't large scale, nor was it built in a day. In fact, it took Phineas almost two weeks to build it... by himself. He built his brother a laptop, but not just any laptop. This one had everything anyone could ever want on it. Phineas made sure to install a web cam, so that Ferb could call and be reminded he is, and always will be,part of the family. Knowing the amount of time Ferb works on the computer while at school, Phineas installed an alarm; to remind his brother to take care of the little things. He then used the plans, he re-created, of Ferb's 'cone of silence' and 'time stop device' and installed them into the computer.
Ferb stopped by his parents' house a couple of days after school ended for his brother. Gretchen was out with Isabella and the girls.
Ferb parked his car on the side of the road and got out. Cane in hand, he walked up the driveway toward the backyard. He opened the gate and saw 15-year-old Phineas sitting under the tree.
Phineas heard the gate open and looked over. He sprang to his feet and with a grin that spread from ear-to-ear uttered his favourite greeting, "Hey Ferb. I know what we're going to do today."
AN: I'd like to thank my constant readers; I do appreciate each and every one of you.