When Candace woke up, she figured she was in for a pretty average day. After all, it seemed like an average morning to her. She woke up, gave her picture of Jeremy a kiss, and got dressed. Then, she went down to breakfast. Yes, Candace had nothing to worry about…until she saw the calendar, that is.
"EEEEEEEEEEEEEK!" Candace screamed at the top of her lungs. She began pacing frantically around the kitchen.
"How?" she asked aloud. "How could I have forgotten?"
"What did you forget, Candace?" Phineas asked. His sister didn't get panicked like that on a regular basis.
"I forgot to get Jeremy a present, that's what! And his birthday's today! What do I do? Aww, I gotta call Stacey."
"Why don't you just make him something, sweetie?" Linda suggested.
Candace glared at her. "Come on, Mom. What am I going to make him before the party tonight?"
"Make him a card! You can't go wrong with a simple birthday card," Phineas said.
Candace groaned and stomped upstairs. Like there was any way she was going to impress Jeremy Johnson with a lame birthday card.
Stacey came over five minutes later. "Hey, Candace!" she said. "I got your text. What happened?"
"Oh, Stacey! It was awful," Candace moaned. "I forgot Jeremy's birthday!"
Stacey raised her eyebrows. "Well, that's a surprise! Don't you have it marked on your calendar?"
"Yeah, I did," Candace replied. "But my brothers stole it a few weeks ago when they wanted to make some collage thing. And they've just been busier than usual lately. Phineas got this idea last week that he and Ferb should start doing two projects per day, because school starts in two weeks and they have a month's worth of plans left. So of course I've been working overtime."
"Hm, that's nice," Stacey said. Candace was awesome, but her rants about how much she hated her brothers just got so repetitive.
"So what do I do?" Candace started chewing on her fingers.
"I don't know." Stacey shrugged. "But you'd better think of something fast! Especially if you want to do something better than Jeremy's little sister. And her presents are as amazing as your brothers' gifts for your mom are, and considering how terrible you are at impressing your mom for her birthday, I doubt you could—"
"OK, thanks, Stacey," Candace interrupted. "That's enough."
Stacey shrugged. "I'm just saying."
But Candace was deep in her own thoughts by then. "All right, Stacey." She began pacing the floor. "I don't have time to buy him anything, but I think I have time to make him a card, at the very least. Let's see…well, he likes music, so maybe I could make him a music-themed card. That makes sense, right Stacey? Stacey?"
Stacey, however, wasn't listening. "Hey, is that the new Betty CD? I've been looking all over for it!" She picked it up. "Ooh, and look! It has their new single, 'The Best Thing!'"
Candace glared at her. "Stacey, focus! Now, what can I do about the card?"
"You could ask your brothers for help. Aren't they really good when it comes to arts and crafts?"
"You're kidding, right?" Candace just stared at Stacey. "Ask my brothers for help? Not in a million years! They're probably busy, anyway."
"Well, it's kind of your only hope," Stacey said matter-of-factly.
"OK, OK." Candace gave in. They went into the backyard.
"Hi, guys!" Candace said. "What are you up to?"
"Nothing as of now," Phineas replied. "Someone stole our list of projects, and now we can't remember any of them!"
"Well, I have an idea of something you could do," Candace said. "You could help me make a birthday card for Jeremy!"
"Sounds good to me!" Phineas said. "All right, Ferb. We'll need all the leftover materials we used for Mom's birthday card and see what we can do. Jeremy likes music, according to Candace's diary—"
"—so we'll have to make him the coolest music-themed birthday card ever! We'll have a pop-up stage come out of it, oh, and maybe we can get one of those things that makes cards have sound, and then get it to play one of his band's songs, and—"
"GUYS! I asked you to help me, not do it!" Candace screamed. "Just forget it, I don't need your help." And with that, she stalked off.
Phineas turned to his stepbrother. "What's her problem?" he asked.
"She's trying to impress the love of her life with a fantastic birthday card before time runs out and he falls for someone else," Ferb said.
Phineas nodded. "Oh, I get it."
"So, Candace wants to impress Jeremy with a birthday card, does she?" Suzy said to herself. She had been watching the whole scene from the bushes. "Well, if she's going to make him a birthday card, I'm going to make him a present! But who to ask for help…" She decided to head home.
"Hi, Suzy! How's my favorite little girl?" Jeremy crooned, picking her up.
"I'm fantastic, Jeremy! Happy birthday!"
"Aw, thank you Suzy! You know what makes it even more special? The fact that you're here," he said.
She giggled. "I love you, Jeremy!" she squealed. "You're the best big brother ever!"
"Yeah? Well, you're an even greater little sister!" Jeremy replied, nuzzling her nose. He put her down, got on his Mr. Slushy Dog hat and started out the door. Suzy's face fell.
"Are you going to work right now?" she asked, her eyes big.
Jeremy smiled down at her. "Yeah, sorry kiddo. The boss wouldn't let me have a day off, even on my birthday. I'll see you this afternoon, though!"
"Can I come to work with you?" Suzy begged. "Pretty, pretty, pretty please with a cherry on top?"
Jeremy smiled half-heartedly. "I think you'd be kind of bored just sitting in the back while I ran the booth. But the Mr. Slushy Dog at the mall is right near that story time circle you love. I can let you hang out there, OK?"
"All right," Suzy said, satisfied. She cared more about making sure Candace stayed out of the way than being with Jeremy himself. Being in the story time circle was fine if she could keep an eye out for Little Miss Jeremy Hogger.
"OK, let's go then. Go get your coat and I'll be right there."
"Jeremy, what do you want for your birthday?" Suzy asked as the two walked to the mall. "I want to know, so you can have the best birthday ever!"
"I don't really know what I want for my birthday," Jeremy said. "Don't worry about it. I love you whether you get me a nice present or not!" They had reached the mall by then.
"All right, Stacey. What do I do about this?" Candace asked her friend.
"I don't know, Candace." Stacey sighed. "Look, I think Jeremy will be at the mall today. You could probably spy on him and see if he drops any hints."
"Good idea, Stacey! All right, let's go." Candace put on her jacket.
"Bye, Mom! Stacey and I are going to the mall right now."
"Oh, no you're not!" Linda said. "I have my cooking class, so you're in charge of Phineas and Ferb. You may take them with you, however. Go see if they'll go with you." And with that, she walked out the door.
Thoughts raced through Candace's' head as she tried to decide what to do. Bringing her brothers to the mall with her would make her look like a baby-sitter, and she didn't want to deal with the humiliation. But if she didn't spy on Jeremy, then she wouldn't be able to get him the perfect birthday present. Finally, she came to a decision. She went to her brothers' bedroom.
"Ok, guys, listen up," she said, "Mom's at her cooking class now, so I'm in charge."
"Only if a satellite hits the—" Phineas interrupted, but Candace cut him off.
"You get the point," she growled. "Anyway, I'm going to the mall to get Jeremy a present, or at least figure out what he wants. And you guys have to come with me, so…just wander around and don't bug me, all right? Go to that new gadget store you guys like."
Phineas shook his head. "No can do, Candace. Ferb and I are busy working on Jeremy's card. Look at how it's coming along so far!"
Candace stared in horror as she saw what her two brothers had come up with in just about half an hour. They had already set up a huge piece of cardboard, folded to look exactly like a birthday card. They hadn't started on any of the fancy pop-up design stuff yet, but they had made the background, which was a colorful drawing of the Danville Park. She was disgusted. If it was this good now, it would be extravagant by the time it was finished.
"Wait a minute!" Candace exclaimed. "Why are you guys making a card for Jeremy? You don't even know him!"
"Actually, we do," Phineas contradicted. "He comes over a lot when you and Stacey are at the mall, looking for you. Sometimes he hangs out with us. And anyway, you blabber on enough about him all the time for us to know enough about him," Phineas said slyly.
Candace was not at all happy to know this, but she decided that that wasn't the issue at hand, so she said, "Well, Jeremy's party isn't until six, so you guys should have enough time to finish it when we get back. After all, didn't it take you just half an hour to do all that?"
"Forty-five minutes," Ferb corrected.
"Well, whatever. The point is, you guys will probably have time to finish when we get back. Anyway didn't you say you needed to buy one of those music-playing things?"
"OK, you have us there," Phineas conceded. "Ferb and I will get ready."
Once Jeremy and Suzy got to the mall, they went to their respective places. At the story time circle, Suzy was surprised to see that Baljeet's little stepsister Mindy was there, too. She hated Mindy almost as much as she hated Candace. Just like how she and Candace were always fighting over Jeremy, she and Mindy fought over the story time teacher, who was also Mindy and Baljeet's mother. So unfortunately for Suzy, these competitions were rougher, because this time Mindy got the benefit of being a family member.
"Well, well, well." Mindy shook her head, smirking. "What are you doing here? You haven't come here to try and win my mom's attention again, have you?"
Suzy scowled at her. By then, all the other regulars in the story time circle had arrived.
"All right! It looks like everyone is here now, so let's get started," Mrs. Duncan announced. She began the story.
Normally, Mindy and Suzy would be competing to see who could get to sit next to Mrs. Duncan, who could be the quietest, who could laugh the hardest at the funny parts in the story, and so on. However, today Suzy was much more focused on keeping her eye out for Candace. Finally, she walked in the store five minutes later with her little brothers.
"All right, go do whatever you guys need to do. I'll be here," she snapped.
"Yeah, we got it. We'll be back," Phineas said as they headed to the electronics store.
It didn't take long for Candace to notice the bright blue pair of eyes following her as she approached the Mr. Slushy Dog booth. When she did, she froze. She backed away from the burger place, and Suzy smirked. She could worry about Candace later; right now, she had another battle to win.
"OK, now what book are we going to read next?" Mrs. Duncan asked, holding up several books. "The Three Little Girls on Kapla Street, The Boy Who Owned Too Many Dogs, or The Rowdy Kindergarteners?"
"I've read The Boy Who Owned Too Many Dogs before!" one little boy piped up. "It's about this boy named Timmy who loves to take in stray dogs, only his mom won't let him because it's too much to take care of. In the end, it turns out that all the dogs actually belonged to this little girl who lived next door to Timmy, and was looking for her dogs. So in the end, Timmy loses his dog friends but gets a real friend instead."
Mrs. Duncan sighed, frustrated. Suzy and Mindy perked up. When one of the kids was acting annoying, it meant a perfect chance to get her attention. "Now, Gary, what have I told you about spoiling the ends of all the books for the other children?" she asked, pointing to where his mother was. "Now go tell your mommy you've been a bad boy again, and I'll come talk to you two when story time is over."
"Well, now that that's over, which of these two books do you guys want to read today?"
Suzy was the first to attack. She raised her hand politely. "Yes, Suzy?" Mrs. Duncan called on her.
"Do we have time to read both? I love both of those books, and they're short, anyway. Can we please read them both?" Suzy asked, looking up at her with big eyes.
Mrs. Duncan had to smile. "Well, all right. I guess that would be fine."
Suzy turned to Mindy and whispered, "Too bad you don't have the charm that I do!" Mindy sneered at her.
"All right, why don't we take a vote to see which one we're going to read first?" And with that, Mindy made sure that she was the most polite and eager hand-raiser.
"OK then, it looks like we're going to read The Rowdy Kindergarteners first!" she said after she counted up all the votes.
"Hooray!" Mindy squealed.
"Well, Mindy, it's great to know that you're enthusiastic about story time!" Mrs. Duncan beamed. Suzy was furious, while Mindy just smiled contentedly. Score two for Mindy, score one for Suzy, she thought.
Candace watched Suzy for a while. When she was pretty sure the little girl was distracted by the story being read, she got up from her hiding place and walked once more towards the booth. Unfortunately for her, there was this old, fat man in front of her who couldn't decide whether or not he wanted fries with his burger, and Jeremy was too busy paying attention to him to notice her. She tried pushing him aside, but he was stronger than her and she got pushed right back—and knocked to the ground.
"Candace!" Jeremy jumped over the counter and helped her up. "Are you all right?"
"Yeah, yeah, I'm fine," she muttered. Her fall had kind of gotten a crowd staring at her. "So anyway, I heard it was your birthday today!"
"Oh, um, yeah! It is, thanks!" Jeremy said.
"So, can I get you anything for your birthday?" Candace asked, trying not to sound too flirtatious.
"No, there's nothing I really want this year, but thanks for asking!" Jeremy said. Just a kiss from you is all, he thought sadly. He dusted off the counter, hopped back in the booth, and waited for other customers to come.
Before long, the story time circle was over, so Suzy went over to Jeremy's booth.
"Hi there, what can I get for you little miss?" he joked.
Suzy's eyes went real big, the way they always did when she wanted something her brother said she couldn't have earlier. "Can I sit behind the counter and watch you take orders? I promise I won't touch anything, really. I'll just sit in the back and be quiet. Or, I could help you out, or I could—"
Jeremy laughed. "OK, Suzy, you can sit in the back. Tell you what, I'll even let you help me pour the soft drinks, if you promise to be careful."
"Absolutely!" Suzy squeaked. "Just wait until Candace comes! I'll show him careful!" she muttered after his back was turned, rubbing her hands together evilly.
As if on cue, Candace came walking towards the Mr. Slushy Burger station. "Hi, Jeremy!" she said, wearing her usual strained smile, trying not to look nervous.
"Oh, hey Candace! Are you feeling better?"
"Yes, I'm fine. Could I please have a cheeseburger and a grape soda?"
Jeremy nodded. "Sure, just wait a minute." He got her a container and a fresh cheeseburger, and then called to Suzy. "Hey, Suzy! It's Candace, and she wants a grape soda. Can you get that for me?"
Suzy nodded, an evil smile creeping on her face. As Jeremy chatted with Candace, she poured the grape soda, but she also put a little orange soda in there, too. Not a lot, but Candace did have a non-lethal allergic reaction to oranges, and Suzy had seen the reaction before. Once she drank that soda, she would be itching like crazy, and she'd look like a fool. If Jeremy were smart, he would never date a total weirdo.
"Here you go, Jeremy," she said, holding out the grape-and-orange soda.
"Thank you, Suzy-woozy!" He handed the drink to Candace. "So Candace, are you coming to my party tonight?"
"Why, of course I will, Jeremy! I cannot wait to go to that fun party you have planned in honor of your birthday." She subconsciously scratched her arm. "It's at six PM, right?"
Jeremy nodded. "Yeah, it'll be in my backyard, and it ends at ten." He stopped, staring at her for a moment. "Um, Candace, are you OK? You've been scratching everywhere for the past few minutes. Can I get you anything for that?"
"Yeah, I'm fine. Um, thanks for asking, though." She got up and ran to the girls' room, where she could go even more insane, hopefully without being made fun of.
After about ten or fifteen minutes, the reaction calmed down, and Candace was relieved that Mr. Slushy Burger didn't serve wild parsnip juice, or worse, actually put them in hamburgers. However, one thing was for sure: she would get Suzy back if it were the last thing she…
"Earth to Candace!" Stacey was standing right in front of her. "I've got our clothes for the party. Now come on! It's already three, and we still need to go to the hair salon and the nail salon."
"I'm coming, all right? Just wait a minute." Candace made a quick stop at Mr. Slushy Burger to give Suzy a cool, mean glare and to let her know the war was on!