I'd like to point out that - despite Shelby being in it - this is NON-canon to my "Calling Back Agent P" series. It's also a little out of my comfort zone.
If your curious about Shelby, please read my "Calling Back Agent P" episode, "Take the Bully By the Horns." This is NOT a requirement.
An African American girl strolled down the street. She wore a red hoodie, a blue jean skirt, and black Mary Jane shoes. Her black hair was braided into cornrows that had two red beads on the ends. Her cocoa-brown eyes crackled with anticipation. Her new friend, Phineas Flynn, had invited her over to help him and his friends build the world's biggest chocolate fountain. And, while she did love chocolate, there was another reason the girl wanted to see him. She arrived at his house and opened the gate to the backyard; Phineas had told her that knocking wasn't necessary.
As soon as she arrived, a familiar triangle looked up from a blueprint he was holding, grinned and waved enthusiastically. "Hi, Shelby! It's me, Phineas from school!"
Shelby laughed. "Are you gonna say that every time you see me?"
Phineas shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe."
Shelby laughed again. She found that she had been doing that a lot more lately. She saw Phineas's step-brother come out of the garage, carrying a tool box. "Hi, Ferb."
Ferb waved and offered a small smile. "Hello, Shelby. It's nice of you to drop by."
Shelby knew that Ferb usually only greeted people with a wave or a nod, without even smiling. However, he seemed to make an exception with her, and she knew why. Until recently, Shelby was a victim of bullying. Ferb was obviously trying to make her feel wanted, and it was working. He didn't generally talk much, after all.
Phineas ran up to her and gave her a quick hug. "Yeah, it is!" Ferb wasn't only one, who was being extra nice to her.
"Uh, Phineas?" Shelby said, when her friend pulled away. "Before we build that chocolate fountain - and before I eat the whole thing and fall into a sugar coma-" Phineas laughed at her joke, "can I talk to you in private?"
Phineas smirked. "I don't know. Can you?"
Shelby laughed. "May I talk to you in private?"
Shelby laughed again, remembering the day she met Phineas in the school cafeteria...
"Hi, I'm Phineas. Can I sit here?"
"I don't know. Can you?"
"Haha. May I sit here?"
The two of them headed into the garage, and Phineas asked, "Okay, Shelby, what did you want to tell me?"
Shelby froze, suddenly unsure of herself. Should she tell him? He did help her, after all... She took a deep breath and went for it. She'd been putting it off long enough. "I-I just never thanked you for helping me with those bullies."
Phineas smiled modestly and waved off her statement. "Ah, it was nothing. You would have done the same for me."
"It was something, Phineas. You see, I, well..." She swallowed, then rolled up one of her sleeves, revealing few scars on her wrist. "I'd recently started...c-cutting." The last word came out in a squeak.
Phineas raised an eyebrow. "Cutting what?" He gingerly held her wrist, concerned. "And, where did you get these scars?"
So, Isabella was right. Phineas was oblivious. "I-I'd started cutting myself..."
Phineas looked absolutely mortified. "W-what!? Y-y-you-you can't! You just can't!"
Shelby smiled warmly. He really seemed to care about her. "Relax, Phineas. I-"
"Relax!? Relax!? How do you expect me to relax!?" He gripped her shoulders too tight. "Please, I'm begging you, stop cutting! Please!"
Shelby's heart snapped in half. Phineas was borderline hysterical and didn't seem to notice the tears running down his face. He was usually so happy, so optimistic. "Phineas-"
"Please! I-I can't lose anyone else to suicide!"
"Phineas!" He stopped rambling, but was still crying and squeezing her shoulders so hard that she was surprised they weren't broken. "No one said anything about suicide."
"W-w-what?" He sobbed.
Shelby offered a comforting smile. "I'm not going to commit suicide."
Phineas was starting to calm down, much to her relief. "P-promise?" She nodded, and he let go of her shoulders. "I-I'm sorry you had to see me like that. It's just-"
They heard someone clear their throat and someone else chatter. Ferb and Perry were at the entrance to the garage, fearful for him. Phineas hadn't broken down and sobbed, since he told them about his father. Phineas was generally happy-go-lucky, so him getting upset - especially to the point of tears - scared them both.
Phineas sniffed and wiped his eyes on his arm. "I-I'm okay, guys. Really." They didn't move. "We'll be out soon."
Ferb hesitantly walked back out. Shelby thought that Perry looked upset, himself. He slowly followed Ferb, and Shelby assumed that she had imagined the platypus's sentient appearance.
She rolled back down her sleeve and returned her attention to Phineas. "You didn't let me finish. I'd started cutting myself after those girls started picking on me. It made me feel better. See, my mom has to care for me on her own, but she's always busy-"
"Did something happen to your dad?" Phineas asked.
"Not that I know of. He's in the Army, so he's never home. A-and, I don't have that many friends, as you know, so I never really had anyone to talk to..."
"So, you started self-harming."
Shelby nodded sadly. "Y-yeah." She smiled. "But, then you helped me out. Did you hear those girls got expelled?"
"Really?" Phineas grinned. "Good! They were real jerks. I hear they got in trouble all the time."
"Yep. Anyway, you helped me stop cutting, before it could get any worse. Thank you so much!"
Phineas shrugged modestly. "Like I said, you would have done the same for me."
Shelby frowned in concern. "By the way, if you don't mind me asking, why did you break down just now?" Phineas frowned sadly and awkwardly rubbed his arm. Shelby raised her hands defensively. "I-if it's too personal, you don't have to tell me."
Phineas sighed. "Well, you can relate to this, I guess, so I think I'll tell you. But, you have to promise not to tell anyone."
Shelby nodded. "I promise."
"Okay. Well, it-it's about my dad. Not the dad I have now. My other dad. He..." Phineas pressed his palms to his eyes and drew in a shaky breath. Shelby realized with a pang that he was trying not to start crying again. Phineas rubbed both his arms and avoided eye contact with her. "I guess he was depressed, and... I-I was about three years old at the time. I saw Dad swallow some pills. I-I didn't know that- I thought he-he was s-suppose to-to take them-"
Whether he knew it or not, he had started crying again. Shelby pulled him into a tight embrace, which he returned. She got the gist of it. Phineas's birth-father had committed suicide. The thought made Shelby want to cry right with him.
After a moment, he pulled away and sniffed. "Thanks, Shelby."
"Thanks?" What was he thanking her for?
Phineas grinned. "Thanks for living."
His smile was contagious. "You're welcome."
When they had arrived back out side, Ferb rushed to his brother's side and put a hand on Phineas's shoulder. Meanwhile, Perry started affectionately rubbing against Phineas's legs, like a cat. Now, Shelby was certain that she hadn't imagined the platypus's concerned look, because it was back. Perhaps platypuses were simply more intelligent than she thought. At least, this platypus was.
Phineas knelt down and scratched Perry's head. "I'm okay now. I promise." He stood back up, suddenly a little timid about what he was going to ask of them. "Um, if it's okay with you guys, I-I was thinking that we could postpone the chocolate fountain."
Ferb and Shelby exchanged confused looks, and Shelby asked, "Is there something else you want to do, Phineas?"
Phineas nodded. "Yes. Yes, there is. I was thinking we could...promote suicide awareness. You know, inform people about suicide, and try to stop it. What do you think? Yes? No? Maybe?"
Shelby slowly smiled. There was even a smile on Ferb's face. "That's a great idea," Shelby confirmed. Ferb gave an agreeing thumbs-up.
Phineas jumped in excitement. "Awesome! I know what we're gonna do, today, instead of the chocolate fountain! Ferb, call up the rest of the gang!"
Shelby wanted nothing more than to just hug Phineas. She knew that the change of plans was because of their conversation, but it was for such a great cause!
Wait, something was missing. "Hey, where's Perry?" she wondered.
"Yeah," Phineas chuckled. "Perry disappears a lot."
"The important thing is that he always comes back," Ferb said.
Meanwhile, Perry had snuck away, put on his fedora, and entered his lair through the side of the house. He felt ready to burst with pride. His boys' activities were usually fun and rather cartoonish, so this was a big change for them. He wanted nothing more than to assist them with this wonderful cause, but duty called. At least, he could find happiness in the fact that he was helping Danville in his own way.
Like? Hate? Popcorn? Sorry, I'm kind of hungry for popcorn. I should make some, while you guys review.