He's not as oblivious as people tend to think he is. Sure, okay, maybe back when they were younger and all he thought about was making every day of summer a fun day and wondering where Perry went he was. He admits to being rather oblivious to certain things. Especially considering how obvious some things were.
Like Isabella's affections for him. Looking back on it all, he's starting to realize just how much he's missed. A lot of what she said and did is finally starting to make sense. Such as "you had me at our grandchildren" during Comet Kermillian or "that's not the Phineas Flynn I fell in...to this situation with" when they got stranded on that island. Honestly, if he could go back in time, he would hit himself over the head for not noticing.
But he digresses. The point is, he's not nearly as oblivious as people make him out to be.
So now he knows. That Isabella likes him, that is. Or, rather, now he's aware of her affections. He's noticing all the things he never noticed before. Like how her voice takes on a slightly cuter tone when talking to him and only him, or how her cheeks are tainted pink whenever he finds himself closer to her than normal, or even how sometimes she gets this soft smile and her eyes look far away when he's talking to her. According to Gretchen, she's in Phineasland, but he's pretty sure he's not supposed to know about that.
And he's certainly not blind to his own feelings regarding her. Again, he'd like to point out that just because it took him far longer than anyone else does not make him oblivious. Ferb would like to disagree with this fact and Phineas would like to disagree with his disagreement.
Which brings Phineas back to his current predicament. He wants to ask Isabella out, but he wants the moment to be perfect. She deserves nothing less, for all the years she's put up with him. And he's Phineas Flynn, for crying out loud. He doesn't do anything by halves.
He scribbles out his latest plan agitatedly. Eyes roaming the notepad in front of him, all he sees are scribbles and black ink where words used to be. Casting his eyes to the side, he sees even more lined paper, all crumpled but still full of crossed out scribbles.
With a sigh, he swivels in his chair to face Ferb. "Help a brother out?"
Ferb doesn't even look up from tinkering with an old radio they had found hidden in the attic. "I do recall you specifically telling me not to help."
"Forget what I said," he says, wheeling his chair backwards until it hits the edge of his bed. He flops back onto the comforters, arms spread uselessly to the side. "I can't figure out how to ask Isabella out."
"You could just ask her," Ferb points out. "That seems to work rather well for others."
"I can't do that!"
"And why not?"
Phineas pushes himself upright and waves his hands around aimlessly as he tries to explain to Ferb why it's so important to him to make asking Isabella out the biggest deal of his life. It's not working so well. "Because, she's had to put up with me all these years and all her advances were for naught and I never noticed it and it's not fair to her if I just simply ask her out, you know? It has to be perfect, because Isabella Garcia-Shapiro deserves nothing less than perfect and –"
Ferb interrupts his rant. "I'm sure Isabella will be happy no matter how you ask."
Phineas just groans and flops back onto his bed and mutters something along the lines of "some help you are".
Phineas visibly jumps and fumbles with the tools in his hand as he tries to hide them behind his back. Turning around, he gives Isabella a nervous smile and says a little too fast, "Nothing! Nothing at all! We're not doing anything, right Ferb?"
Isabella looks to Ferb who merely shrugs and returns to welding whatever it is that Phineas is trying to hide. She sidles closer and Phineas moves away, but still keeps himself in her line of view to keep her from seeing behind him. When this continues on and it doesn't look like it's going to stop any time soon, Isabella backs off and sighs.
"Do you need any help?"
"No!" Phineas coughs nervously and rubs a hand uncomfortably against his neck. "I mean, no, Ferb and I are fine. No help needed. None whatsoever."
Isabella regards him skeptically and her mouth opens to possibly argue some more, but Phineas takes her by the shoulders and steers her back out the gate. "I think I hear your mom calling for you. You should see what she wants!"
"Wha – but I don't hear – anything."
Phineas leans in defeat against the gate and rubs a weary hand over his face. Keeping all of this under wraps is going to be a lot harder than he originally planned. He can hear her hushed whispers of "Gretchen, we have a Code: Periwinkle" and he thanks his lucky stars that he didn't think to involve the Fireside Girls in his plan. They are even worse at lying to Isabella than he is. Sighing, he ruffles his hair and moves away from the fence.
"Was that Isabella?" Baljeet asks, entering the backyard with his arms laden full of canvas and muslin. "Is she not going to help?"
"This is kind of supposed to be a surprise for her."
"Oh," Baljeet drawls as it dawns on him. "So you are finally making a move."
"And you need an amusement park because?"
"Because," Phineas explains, "I'm planning on confessing to her at the top of the Ferris wheel at sunset with fireworks and everything and if there's a Ferris wheel, there's an amusement park. We can't have a Ferris wheel without an amusement park."
"Like in the manga Ginger reads."
"Hey, dinnerbell, where'd you want these metal tubey things?"
Phineas directs Buford with a wave of his hand and the larger boy wanders off in the opposite direction. He expects as much and leaves Buford be. The materials he's carrying aren't going to be used for a while and as long as Phineas remembers where Buford put them, it'll be fine.
Something pink catches his eye and angling his head slightly, he can see Isabella's head poking out above the fence as she tries to peek in. When he turns around fully, her head disappears back down and there's a scuffle and hushed whispers that tell him the Fireside Girls are there, supporting their leader. He smiles softly at how cute she is and hopes his plan works.
He catches sight of her pink scrunchie a couple more times throughout the morning and every time he glances over, she disappears. Ferb notices as well and every time Phineas stops working to glance back at the fence, Ferb glances over to him with a knowing smirk.
After a not so subtle, unsuccessful infiltration attempt by Gretchen, Ginger, and Adyson, Phineas sets his tools down and stalks over to the fence. Crossing his arms and using the crook of his elbows as a cushion, he stares down at Isabella's hunched form with an amused smile. She stares back at him, eyes wide like a deer caught in the headlights. The other Fireside Girls are crouched next to her, with glass cups still pressing against the fence. He wonders why they even brought them because sound carries quite well and it's not hard to hear everything that's said in his backyard.
"Whatcha doin'?" he teases.
Isabella straightens, almost like a cat with the way she moves, and his eyes flicker to the expanse of skin exposed by her shirt before she fixes her collar and it disappears from view. His eyes dart back up to her face, his easy smile still playing on his lips, as he waits for her response.
"We were looking for Miily's contacts," she says, and if it wasn't for the fact that Phineas knows her tells like the back of his hand, he wouldn't have even known she was lying. But her nose wrinkles just the tiniest bit and the corner of her mouth curls slightly and that gives her away.
One of his eyebrows raises and he stares curiously at Milly. The girl notices his inquisitive look and nods her head fervently, her curly hair bouncing with each movement of the head. "Those gosh darn little plastic – things! You know how it is."
Phineas shakes his head. "No, not really." Leaning further into his arms, he notes rather amusedly, "I wasn't aware you wore contacts. I thought you had twenty-twenty vision."
"I used to," Milly says without missing a beat just as Isabella says, "She used to."
"And the glass cups?"
"What is this, twenty questions?" Adyson retorts easily.
Phineas shrugs one shoulder. "Just curious."
"We were helping some younger Fireside Girls with a 'Lemonade Stand' patch before getting the distress call from Milly," Holly explains. Phineas can say that he's mildly impressed with just how far the girls are willing to go for their leader. Impressive improvisation, he must admit.
"Shouldn't you be getting back, then?" he asks.
Katie's the one who replies, "They can handle it. They're not Fireside Girls for nothing."
Phineas hums but doesn't pursue the matter further. It's clear that the girls aren't going to budge on the story and Phineas isn't hard-pressed enough to try and break their lies. There's an entire amusement park waiting to be built before sundown. Easing off him arms, he says, "Right. I'll let you girls get back to searching."
Moving to leave, he still has one hand resting atop the fence when he pauses. Eyes trailing slowly back, he stares first at the petite hand resting on his wrist before following it up to Isabella's face. She's looking up at him through her lashes and her mouth is quirked slightly and he gulps, heart racing and palms suddenly feeling very sweaty.
"Are you sure you don't want the Fireside Girls' expertise on whatever you're building?" Isabella implores, eyes flitting to the side. "We could all earn our "Master Craftsmen' Patch."
"N – no, we're good," he stammers, all the confidence from before suddenly dissipating into the air. It's funny, he thinks, that one look from Isabella is all it takes for his confidence to up and skitter away.
Somewhat reluctantly, he removes his wrist from her hands and immediately regrets his decision. He wants nothing more than to feel her hand on his skin again but he has to focus. And with Isabella around, that's not going to happen. He tries to think of a way out without giving anything away and spots Baljeet with a stack of newly printed flyers. "Actually, maybe you guys could help hand out flyers?"
"Oh joy," Adyson mutters, "yet another 'Flier Delivery' Patch."
Isabella looks unhappy with the idea but takes the papers from Baljeet nonetheless. With a sigh, she turns to the girls and says, "Come on, girls. Let's go distribute these flyers."
Phineas watches her go and as soon as she disappears around the corner, he sags against the fence, staring rather dreamily at his wrist where her hand had sat for that short, lovely moment. Beside him, Baljeet clears his throat.
"Are you sure handing Isabella the flyers was a good idea?"
"What do you mean?"
"Did you not want to keep the amusement park a surprise?" he points out. "That is moot point when she looks at the flyers."
Phineas blinks and when it sinks in, he resists the urge to smack his forehead at his oversight. Alright, minor setback. He can deal with this. All he has to do is work faster and put his plan in motion earlier than planned. And possibly come up with an excuse as to why he didn't want her to know about it. With renewed determination, he throws himself back into work, much to Ferb's unending amusement.
As the morning wears on, he's gotten two calls from Isabella – which he ignores, because he knows himself and he knows he'll cave if he answers – and four from Adyson, Ginger, and Gretchen, all asking about the amusement park and why he was trying to keep it on the down low. He tries to answer to the best of his abilities without giving anything away and he supposes they're satisfied with his replies because they stop calling.
They finish before lunch and the Fireside Girls return just in time to help with the unveiling of the amusement park. They've all changed into polo shirts and khakis and Phineas finds that he can't keep his eyes off Isabella long enough to make his grand speech to the entire population of Danville. Once the curtain's been pulled and the proverbial ribbon's been cut, he dashes off the stage and plants himself firmly in front of Isabella.
"Hey," she parrots, amused smile playing on her lips. It doesn't look like she's mad at him for ignoring her so he releases the slight tension in his shoulders. "So this was the big surprise you didn't want me to see?"
"Nah," he drawls, taking her hand in his and tugging her along. "That's later. Now, let me show you around."
Isabella giggles and quickens her stride to match his excited ones. He takes her to the smaller but still very exciting rollercoaster, to the sixty-story fun house, to the tilt-a-whirl that's guaranteed to make you puke your guts out. Isabella doesn't stop laughing all the while and her hand never leaves his. If she's taken any note of it, she says nothing and Phineas isn't about to bring it up in case she decides to pull away.
He takes her to every attraction but the one he built the amusement park specifically for: the Ferris wheel. He keeps eyeing it as they skitter past, but there's a plan and he plans on following it down to the last detail.
"We keep passing the Ferris Wheel."
"This is the fifth time."
"Is there a particular reason why?"
He angles his head back so that he can grin at her and tries to answer as ambiguously as possible. "You'll see."
Isabella huffs behind him but thankfully doesn't question him any further. Instead, one of the carnival booths catches her eye and she's the one tugging him along for a change.
The booths are manned by the Fireside Girls and every time he approaches one with Isabella, their hands still linked, he gets knowing glances but thankfully they have the tact to keep whatever teasing remarks to themselves. Gretchen's the only one who says anything.
She sidles up next to him as Isabella's taking a shot at the 'Leaning Tower of Milk Bottles' as she so dubs it, and whispers, "So, are you planning on asking her out at the top of the Ferris wheel?"
Phineas blinks and jerks back in shock. Gretchen snickers and when Isabella shoots her a curious look, she merely waves it away with a dismissive hand and hands her another baseball.
"What?" he squeaks.
"I read shojo manga," she says, a little defensively. "And I'm not blind."
"I'm not –" he tries to argue, but even to his own ears it sounds pathetic. Gretchen's continuous snickering isn't helping his case, either. In the end, he mumbles something and scratches awkwardly at the back of his neck.
She seems to take some pity on him because she sighs, leans in so Isabella can't hear, and says in all seriousness, "Word of advice, Phineas, don't beat around the bush when the time comes." And then she straightens and lets out a joyous whoop when Isabella knocks down the tower of milk bottles.
Isabella collects her prize, a pink alpacasso, and the smile that lights her face the minute the small plush animal settles in her hands makes Phineas grin as well. It's adorable. She's adorable. In the end, she hands the plush back to Gretchen with a smile, saying that she had too many stuffed animals at home and that some other lucky kid should win it instead.
Phineas doesn't mention that he might have another one, also pink, also tiny, sitting in his room with her name on it. He plans on giving it to her later. Much later. Much, much later.
"So what were you and Gretchen talking about?" Isabella thinks to ask later as they wander aimlessly around the fairgrounds. She takes a bite out of her funnel cake and hums appreciatively at the taste.
He opens his mouth to answer but finds that his throat is suddenly dry as her tongue peeks out to lick away the powdered sugar that dusts her lip. It takes a moment, but he's finally able to rip his eyes away and finds Isabella staring at his curiously. He flushes and coughs awkwardly, taking a large bite of his own funnel cake. "Just homework."
Isabella quirks an eyebrow skeptically. "You two don't share any classes."
"We have the same teacher just different periods?"
He coughs again, finishes off his cake, and decides it's time to change the subject. "So, it's about time we head for the Ferris wheel."
Her eyes light up and she glances over her shoulders excitedly at the giant turning wheel standing in the center of the fairgrounds and if she notices the totally unsubtle topic change, she makes no note of it. "Really?"
"Yeah." Phineas takes the hand not holding the funnel cake and begins to lead her towards it. "Come on."
"Phineas!" Isabella laughs, quickening her pace to keep up with his excited ones. "Slow down!"
The Ferris wheel is even more impressive up close. The ride stands about as tall as a skyscraper and is built to resemble clockwork cogs. There are seven wheels total, with the largest as the base and each one getting progressively smaller the higher it goes. Isabella squints and tries to make out the top but finds that she can't.
There's a long line winding its way through the fairgrounds almost like a snake and Phineas leads Isabella to the front where Ferb stands. A microphone and large bass speakers are already plugged in and waiting and there's a giant red bow stretched across the entrance of the ride.
The rest of the Fireside Girls are already in position in the control booth and when Isabella moves to join them, Phineas' hand on her wrist stops her. He tries to ignore the fluttering of his heart or how soft her skin is. He simply smiles, wide and excited, at her.
With the same amount of exuberance as when he unveiled the amusement park, Phineas announce the Ferris wheel now open to the public. A loud and raucous cheer sweeps through the crowd and within minutes, every carriage is filled.
"Wow," Isabella breathes, shifting in her seat to peer out the large glass window. She can still make out Ferb running all the controls with Gretchen and Adyson but they're tiny and all of their details are starting to blur together. She then tries to glance up to see how much longer until they reach the top but can't see past the metal carriage frame. "Is this what you wanted to show me?"
Phineas shrugs. "Part of it."
"Part of it?" She twists her upper body around to blink curiously at him. "What else is there?"
"It wouldn't be a surprise if I told you, now would it?" he teases good-naturedly, moving over to the free space next to her. He steadfastly ignores just how close they are or the fact that if he shifts any closer, their shoulders would be brushing against each other. As it was, their pinkies were just a hair's breadth away from linking together.
"You know I love your surprises," she laughs.
"Isabella, I –" Phineas starts only to be interrupted by the sudden screeching of the Ferris wheel jerking to a halt. Isabella falls forward at the sudden motion and Phineas doesn't think, just lurches forward, arms winding around her waist to steady her. Once she's steady and no longer in danger of hurting herself, he asks, "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine," she reassures, her brows furrowing together as she casts a glance out the window, "but what was that?"
"I don't know."
He strides across the tiny space and cracks open the door enough to catch of glimpse of whatever's going on and blinks as he takes in his shrinking house, frayed ends of metal wires flapping uselessly in the wind. Glancing up, he finds that the Ferris Wheel has hooked onto a giant crane and is now being lifted higher and higher up into space.
"Well, that wasn't part of the plan."
Isabella is next to him in an instant. "Are we flying through the air?"
"I – I think so."
"This certainly is a surprise."
Phineas smiles a little ruefully. "This wasn't the surprise."
Reaching underneath one of the seats, he pulls out a microphone and after testing to make sure it worked, begins broadcasting. "We seem to be experiencing some turbulence. Please be sure to strap in nice and tight and get ready to fly!"
Once he had strapped himself in across from Isabella, a panel slides out in front of him with only a large red button and Phineas thinks it's a good thing that he and Ferb had thought to install an emergency getaway. Palm hitting with a little more force than necessary, the bolts holding the carriages up pop loose and one by one, they begin their fall back down to the ground.
Isabella shrieks upon the sudden drop, hands clutching the edge of her seat until her knuckles turn white, but it soon turns into laughter once the parachute deploys and they stop plummeting and instead begin to float. They land underneath the tree in their backyard, the parachute coming down to settle nicely on top of them, encasing them in darkness until Gretchen and Adyson tug it off.
"That was fun," Isabella breathes, one of her hands pressed against her chest as she focuses on slowing down her pulse.
"Yeah," Phineas agrees, helping her out of the carriage. He glances around and notes that his is the only one in view. "Where'd the rest of them land?"
Adyson waves a hand in a rather vague direction. "Around. I think I saw one land near City Hall."
Isabella is immediately swept away by the Fireside Girls, but she manages a smile over her shoulder and a quick, "See you tomorrow?" over their chatter. Phineas nods and then he's left alone with Ferb and the disappointment that he wasn't able to confess weighs on him. With a sigh, he turns back around, intent on disposing the carriage, only to find that it's disappeared along with the rest of the amusement park. He's not surprised in the least.
He just stares sadly at where it all used to be. He's vaguely aware of Ferb coming up next to him and only acknowledges his presence when a heavy hand lands on his shoulders.
"I thought it would work, Ferb."
"Sometimes, even the best laid plans go awry."
"Don't I know it. Oh, there you are, Perry."
Alright, so maybe Plan A didn't exactly go as planned, but that's okay. That's why he has a Plan B. And a Plan C, and many more after that, but he's hoping it won't come to those. Not that he doesn't think they're great plans, because they are, but because he doesn't think he'd have the nerve to go through with them when the time comes.
His focus right now is on Plan B.
He compiles together a list of all of Isabella's favorite romantic comedies with the help of Adyson and Ginger and has narrowed down the list to four movies. He wonders if he should maybe cut it down even more since time restraints and all, but he finds that he can't, so he doesn't. Four movies is plenty good.
Once the list is finalized, the problem then was getting the movies without alerting Isabella. Which, actually, wasn't that big of a problem. The Fireside Girls have no problem with lending out their copies of the movies if it means seeing their respected leader finally together with the love of her life. So he has at least three copies of each movie sitting in a box underneath his bed.
So, movies. Check.
The movie theatre with which to play said movies. Well, that still needs to be built but Phineas isn't worried because if there's one thing he understands, it's engineering and robotics and things like that.
His courage. Uh, maybe. Not quite a check on that just yet.
In any case, the day for the execution of his plan comes sooner than he's prepared for and he spends the entire day double-checking all the planning and the details. He even double-checks the weather and hopes that the forty percent chance of rain isn't going to happen. By the time Isabella's set to show up, Phineas has already paced the entire length of their backyard at least ten times and given himself enough pep talks that even he's sick of his own thoughts.
Isabella arrives and Phineas brightens the minute she steps into his backyard. "Hey guys – where's Ferb?"
"Out," he answers, ushering her in and helping her over to the picnic blanket laid out in the middle of the yard. Beside it lays a row of snacks, from buttered popcorn to gummy candies, all of which are Isabella's favorite movie viewing munchies.
"Oh, okay. So, it's just the two of us?" she asks hesitantly, settling on the blanket. Her legs automatically tuck themselves under her butt as she tugs at the hem of her skirt to cover her exposed thighs and pulls her cardigan tighter around herself to keep the chill of the wind out. She hadn't planned on being outside for long, having thought that when Phineas said movie night he'd mean watching movies in the comforts of his living room, and so hadn't thought to wear something thicker, like pants.
"Yeah, pretty much."
Phineas brings out a blanket for her and Isabella gratefully accepts, spreading it out over her legs and sighing at the warmth that returns to her legs. And if her cheeks are a little warm and red, then she can just blame it on the wind. And if she moves a little closer to him, then she can blame it on the wind as well.
"So, ready for a night of romantic clichés?" he asks with a smile, settling the bowl of popcorn in his lap.
"As ready as I'll ever be. So what's first?"
Phineas starts up the large screen that's stretched between their house and the tree and Isabella squeals as the opening sequence for Clueless starts.
He finds it hard to pay attention to the movie playing in front of him when Isabella's right next to him and even if he could pay attention, every time their fingers brushed as they reach for the popcorn would just distract him and he'd no longer be watching the movie. So, it's not much of a difference whether he watches or not. Besides, Isabella's made him sit through these movies dozens of times, even before he knew his own feelings, to the point where he just about has them memorized.
They're two bowls of popcorn in and halfway through She's the Man before it starts to rain. Isabella squints up at the sky, hand held out in front of her, and pulls a face as the drops start falling faster and faster.
He pauses the movie, snickering at the face he's managed to capture, before both he and Isabella scramble out from under the blanket and proceed to clean up the picnic as the light rain suddenly turns into a downpour. Isabella takes care of the picnic blankets, grabbing them and dumping them unceremoniously onto the couch before heading out to retrieve the bowls of food. Phineas, for his part, gathers up the DVDs and the projector.
Once safe and sound under the comforts of the roof, with only the sound of the rain hitting the roof permeating the silence, Phineas finds himself staring forlornly out the sliding doors. He wonders if the universe is conspiring against him in creating the perfect setting for him and Isabella. This is the second time things have gone wrong and, while two incidents don't make a pattern, it's starting to feel like one to him.
"Sorry," he apologizes, turning around to find Isabella wiping off the rain that clung to her hair. "I was kind of hoping it wasn't going to rain."
"It's okay," she reassures, shrugging out of her cardigan and draping it over the backrest of the couch in an effort to dry it. "A little rain never hurt anyone." She smiles and gestures to the TV. "And it's not like movie night's been completely ruined, right?"
A little bit of rearranging later, with the couch and coffee table pushed out of the way, they manage to create a makeshift picnic much like the one outside. Isabella's in the kitchen heating up another bag of popcorn and Phineas is setting up the DVD player when there's a spark from outside and the entire house falls dark.
"Uh, Phineas?" Isabella calls out weakly.
"I think the entire town just blacked out."
"Did you remember to unplug and put away the giant screen?"
Phineas chuckles weakly and grapples for purchase against the wall. He ends up jamming his knee against the corner of the TV and stumbles over the stack of DVDs by his feet and he lets out an unintelligible curse. Rubbing against what is definitely going to bruise tomorrow, he feels his way to the kitchen. He ends up bumping into Isabella and the two of them tumble in a graceless heap to the floor.
Underneath him, Isabella laughs and it warms him from the inside out and suddenly there's light blinding his eyes. He draws back, eyes instinctively squinting shut and he doesn't open them until he thinks he's finally adjusted to the sudden brightness.
"I found the flashlight, if that's what you're going for."
"Thanks," he grins, moving off of her and trying not to accidentally touch her in places he definitely should not be thinking about touching right now.
"So, what now?"
"Well, remember the giant blanket fort we built –?"
He honestly didn't think he'd need to use Plan C, but he's glad that he at least thought to create one as a secondary back-up plan.
Holding the multiple copies of the score for Gitchee Gitchee Goo, Phineas makes his way down to the band room. He's already talked with the cheerleaders and the dance team, as well as Baljeet and the robotics team, and they've all agreed to help with his plan. All that's left now is to see if the orchestra is willing to play the song as a backdrop.
He peeks in through the window in the door and immediately restrains himself from smacking the heel of his palm against his forehead. There, in class, sitting in the front row playing the violin, is Isabella. God, how could he forget that she was in the orchestra? She's been in the orchestra since freshmen year. She even specifically told him, back when she first joined that the only way she wasn't joining was if there was a Class 5 disaster that physically stopped her from joining.
And there's no way she's not going to know he has something planned once she see Gitchee Gitchee Goo splashed across the top of the papers. Add to that, there's also no way Isabella's not going to want to be a part of his plan and his plan banks on the idea that Isabella isn't going to be playing the love song meant for her and oh, this is not turning out so well. He knows, there's just no way Isabella will want to sit this out unless she's deathly ill or something equally as horrible. He doesn't want that.
With a sigh, he stuffs the music sheets into his backpack and heads back down the hall from whence he came. Time to call off Plan C and move on to Plan D.
"Didn't you already do something like this?" Isabella asks, staring up at the large cruise ship docked at the port. "Like, six years ago?"
Phineas shrugs and doesn't answer. Yes, he has done this before and as loathe as he is to admit, he really can't think of something creative right now. Besides, he remembers that Isabella was excited the last time he created something like this and, oblivious idiot that he was, he didn't pick up on her signs. Well, not this time.
"Did you keep everything the same?"
"Why don't you come and find out?"
Phineas leads Isabella up the planks and into the grand entrance. Isabella is stunned at the pomp and grandeur she witnesses, from the chandelier that hangs over their heads to the extremely detailed crown molding lining the wall. It's almost like the entire room is sparkling.
"Wow," she breathes, "what a first impression."
"You like it?"
"Like it?" Isabella repeats incredulously. "Phineas, this is amazing! Of course I like it."
"Good." Phineas grins widely and it makes an excited sort of feeling bubble up in her. "Wait till you see the rest of it."
He leads her through the maze of halls and they emerge on the sundeck and if Isabella thought that she was impressed with the main hall, that was nothing compared to the large and airy sundeck. In the middle of the deck sits a swimming pool, complete with fountains and a water park, with the largest waterslide she's seen on a cruise ship. Flowers decorate every inch of the ship's railings and then some. In fact, it kind of overwhelms her just how much there was.
"Don't you think there might a bit too much flower?" Isabella asks.
Phineas furrows his brows and sweeps his eyes across the deck. "You think?"
"Just a bit." She plucks a carnation from beside her and twirls it between her fingers. "Though, they are a nice touch."
She giggles as he takes the flower to tuck behind her ear. He finds himself admiring the adorable image she made, with a pink carnation twined through strands of her hair and a warm smile stretching her lips. "Glad you think so."
He then leads her inside to the spacious ballroom, with a candlelit table settled in the middle of the room, an orchestra playing a soft classical score off to the side. Isabella can't stop the soft gasp of awe that escapes her lips and she turns to look at Phineas with sparkling eyes.
He thinks that maybe this is the moment he's been waiting for and reaches over to grasp her hand in his. He stops short, however, when she says the last thing he expected.
"I'm sure Baljeet'll love it," she notes and Phineas lets his hand fall back to his side. "Isn't it his one year anniversary with Ginger? Everything certainly looks romantic enough." She grins teasingly at him and gently bumps their shoulders together. "So long as you don't have Buford come swinging down in a diaper again."
Phineas can only chuckle weakly.
He decides that if subtlety doesn't work on Isabella, then he'll go for completely conspicuous. And what's more conspicuous than writing in the sky. He debates for the longest time whether to use airplanes or to shift the stars around to spell out his messages. In the end, he decides a nighttime message would be more romantic.
With Ferb's help, they build a machine that'll allow him to use the stars to spell out his messages. He spends several nights testing it out, making absolutely sure that there all possible troubleshooting could be done before he used it for real. After several reassurances from Ferb that they've already covered all the bases and that anymore worrying would just make wrinkles appear, he finally deems it ready.
It's the annual Fireside Girl's Sleepover Extravaganza when he decides to ask, where all the Fireside Girls of past and present gather at the park and talk and reminisce. It's where Isabella's bound to be.
Phineas sets everything up a good few meters away, in a secluded clearing with a lot of brush and trees in the way so as to ward off peeping eyes, and starts up the machine. He listens to the hum as it comes to life and after inputting a couple of codes, he glances up see, with satisfaction, the words "Isabella Garcia-Shapiro, will you go out with me?" written out in the night sky.
After some fiddling with the machine, he straightens out his shirt and runs a hand through his hair, gathering up his waning courage, and makes his way over to the campsite. Eyes scanning the area, he spots Isabella's telltale pink bow. With her back turned to him, she doesn't notice him approaching.
However, Gretchen notices him from over Isabella's shoulder and she nudges Ginger with her elbows. The two of them grin as he nears and once he's in earshot, they sing-song, "Hi, Phineas!"
Isabella turns around, surprised, and smiles once her eyes land on him. "Hey, Phineas. Whatcha doin'? Here, I mean."
"I have something to show you."
He vaguely registers that he's done a lot of leading the past couple of weeks, but he doesn't dwell as he grasps Isabella's hand and brings her over to the secluded area. Behind them, Katie's "ooh~" follows even until they're well out of earshot.
They stop and Isabella glances around curiously. "What am I supposed to see?"
She does and Phineas watches her face as her expression shifts from curiosity to awe to confusion. "Iael hpr," Isabella says, head tilting as she tries to sound out the words written in the stars, "il guh ot ee." She turns to Phineas. "Are you guys making a new language? Like Ferb Latin, expect more nonsensical?"
Phineas starts and whips his head up to stare at the sky. What used to be "Isabella Garcia-Shapiro, will you go out with me?" is now missing several key letters and the machine that didn't malfunction through all the periods of testing is now choosing this moment, of all times, to break.
He blinks and finds Isabella staring worriedly at him. Her face is closer than before and he instinctively takes a step back. "What?"
"I asked, is this a more nonsensical version of Ferb Latin?"
"No – yes," he ends up saying resignedly. "Yes it is."
"What does it mean?"
"I hope you're having fun, Isabella."
Later, after Isabella wanders off to chat with Melissa, Gretchen and Ginger approach him and they both throw an arm over his shoulders.
"The stars are not in position," Gretchen says solemnly, though the grin on her face indicates otherwise.
"Stars" Ginger sighs, also grinning. "Can't do it. Not today."
He has Candace drop them off near the side of the road and she half threatens to bust his ass for his midnight rendezvous with Isabella and fully threatens him to take care of her. He promises and as she drives off, he turns his attention to the girl beside him.
"As ready as I can be."
The two of them trek through the underbrush and trees and just when Isabella's about to ask if they're lost, Phineas sweeps aside some leaves and she instead sucks in a breath at what laid before her. Gingerly stepping over protruding roots, she emerges onto a cliff side clearing. The cliff oversees the entire city of Danville and from up here, the lights twinkle like the stars shining up above them.
"Wow," Isabella says. "What a view."
"Right? But that's not the best part."
Isabella turns on her heels excitedly. "There's more?"
He nods. Smiling, he gestures to the wide-open space behind him. "You know what they say about this cliff?"
"What?" she asks eagerly.
"It the best spot to find fireflies."
From behind him, tiny little lights float forward and dance through the clearing. Isabella giggles as one lands on her nose and her eyes go adorably cross-eyed as she tries to look at it. More and more land, most of them in her hair, and they create a sort of twinkling crown and Phineas wishes he had thought to bring his camera because this is a view he doesn't want to forget.
Reaching forward he takes both of Isabella's hands in his and steps closer. "Isabella, there's something –"
A group of girls burst through the underbrush and tumble forward, scattering most of the fireflies that had been there. They all groan simultaneously, especially those that had been buried underneath the rest of the members. Isabella draws away much to his disappointment and steps around him to help the girls back to their feet.
The former Lil' Sparks member pushes herself onto her knees and rubs the heel of a palm against her brow. She glances up at her name and her eyes immediately widen and she launches herself at Isabella.
"Hi! Oh my god, when did you become a Fireside Girl?"
"Like, two years ago."
"So, what brings you here?"
"We're getting our 'Firefly Catching' patch."
"Ooh. That's sound fun! Can I help?"
Phineas sighs and settles back to watch as Isabella runs around with the younger troop members trying to catch fireflies. Maybe another day he'll actually get to finish his confession. As for right now, he's content with just seeing her having fun.
He decides to make use of their weekly study dates. He kind of wonders why he never thought of this before. It's kind of a guarantee that they'll be alone and the only interruptions he'll have to worry about is from Mrs. Garcia-Shapiro, who really doesn't interrupt much.
Isabella's lying on her bed, her AP US History notes open in front of her. The end of her pen is stuck between her teeth and it bobs up and down as she chews on it in thought. Phineas sits in her swivel chair and he alternates between staring at his own textbook and her. He's not getting anywhere in his studies.
He makes a noncommittal noise and tries to pretend that he hasn't been staring at her for the past five minutes.
"Can you quiz me on the different court cases?"
"Sure." He sets aside his own notes and homework and reaches over to take her notebook from her. He marvels at her bubbly handwriting that's rather fitting with her equally bubbly personality and he really needs to get his crush under control. "Do you want me to go in order or jump around?"
Humming, he runs a finger blindly down the page and stops randomly. "Korematsu v U.S."
"Court upheld constitutionality of detention camps for Japanese-Americans during World War two."
"Roe v Wade."
"Give me something harder." Isabella grins and shifts her position so that she was ling on her back. Her one of her legs kicks up and crosses over the other and Phineas finds his eyes trailing down the expanse of exposed leg as her shorts ride up. "Abortion was legalized, at least for the first three months into a pregnancy."
"Johnson v McIntosh."
"Indian tribes had rights to tribal land and only the federal government can take it from them."
"Plessy v Ferguson."
Isabella pauses to think and her tongue pokes absently at her cheek and it slowly moves to peek out from between her lips. Phineas gulps and suddenly finds his mouth dry and he licks his lips and quickly averts his eyes. He hears the bed rustle and can only assume that Isabella's shifted her position again but he refuses to look up. He's already positive his cheeks are flushed pink just from that little gesture of hers.
"Are you listening?"
His answer is hesitant. "Yes?"
"Right." She drawls. Turning back around onto her stomach, she rests her chin onto her hands and regards him curiously. "So, is there something you wanted to say?"
Phineas blinks. "Why are you asking?"
"Well, you've been staring at me a lot, for starters."
"Yes, yes you have."
Phineas debates for a moment but really, no time like the present. So he decides to take the plunge. Pushing aside her notebook, he pads across the tiny space between to her bed and settles by her legs. She shifts to give him more room as well as to be able to see him better without straining her neck.
His hand rests dangerously close to her hips and they twitch just thinking about actually being able to touch them but he forces himself to focus. If this goes well, then there'll be plenty of time later to actually fantasize and maybe not fantasize.
"Isabella," he starts, pauses, and then takes the plunge. "I like you."
"I like you, too, Phineas. We are best friends, right? I'd think it'd be a given –"
Phineas shakes his head and she pauses. "I mean, I like you. Like, really like you. To the point where I'd say it's love but I think that's kind of jumping the gun there. Anyway, what I'm trying to say is, I really, really like you."
"And I was wondering – wait. You know?"
He finally takes a good look at Isabella and for the first time notices the amusement twinkling behind her eyes and the smile playing on her lips and suddenly he feels really stupid. An embarrassed smile tugs at his lips and he asks, "Since when?"
"Honestly?" He nods. "Since the midnight movie marathon turned impromptu pillow fort."
"That long ago?"
"So why didn't you say anything?"
She shrugged and pushed herself onto her knees. Crawling forward, she swings her legs over the edge and settles next to him. "I kind of wanted to see what kind of plans you could come up with."
"Did you enjoy them at least?"
"That's good." He smiles down at her carefully interlaces their fingers together like he's been dying to do and it feels just as wonderful as he imagined it to be. She giggles softly and scoots closer. "So, I heard the movie theatre is re-airing old classics this weekend. You want to go?"
"Of course. But first, there's something else I want to do."
He's about to ask what it is but he gets the idea pretty quickly when her free hand curls into the fabric of his shirt and tugs him down for a kiss and if his smile is a little giddy as their lips touch, well, who can really blame him.