Perry slammed the door and ran back down the hall. His lungs and head were furious with him. All he wanted to do was lie down and make the pounding in his head go away.
It didn’t help that Crusher was giving him an even bigger headache on top of everything else.
“Excellent plan. Really. So how did Prince bribe you? Cash? Your life? Other means? You don’t appear to be a gang member. So she tricked you into doing this? Used her wiles?”
“Shut UP!” Perry hacked.
She seemed too far behind him. He grabbed her wrist and tugged her along, members of the Flaming Planet closely gaining on them. Shots rang out, barely missing them.
“I told them they were stupid to use me as bait.” Crusher said. “Prince cares dirt about me.”
Perry felt his wrist slipping from her grip. “What’s with the plastic sandwich gloves? You a cafeteria worker when you’re not getting locked up in places?”
“I prefer not to leave my fingerprints everywhere.”
“Slow down! I’m going to throw up.”
“That makes two of us.”
He heard Crusher fire the grappling gun, felt her catch something, and then heard shots ringing in the opposite direction. She had obviously gotten herself a weapon.
“Careful where you aim that.” Perry warned, making a sharp right.
“OW! I’m a solid object, bucko! Tell me before we turn!”
Perry pulled his phone out of his pocket with his free hand and punched the emergency button. His hovercraft would probably be landing in a few minutes, and they could escape.
Crusher was fighting to keep up with him, swearing and calling him many names, some of which he wasn’t sure he even understood. A bullet whizzed closely by his head and hit a pot, shattering it.
He saw a faint light toward the end of the hall.
“Keep shooting.” He told Crusher, trying to will his head to last until they were safely in the hovercraft.
“I’m out of ammo!” Crusher shouted.
“Well, watch both of our backs, then!”
He burst outside and leapt into the hovercraft, which had been waiting innocently for him. He grabbed Crusher and thrust her into the passenger seat.
The hovercraft rose, and they zoomed away, leaving Flaming Planet shouting in the distance.
Perry felt the little energy he had leave him. His head was spinning. “Drive.” He choked. “You… drive.”
Crusher reached over him and grabbed the steering mechanism.
“Go… go to… her apartment.” Perry closed his eyes and leaned back against the seat. His head throbbed, and his throat was on fire.
He heard Crusher huff, but she made no objection.
Perry knocked on Prince’s door. Prince opened it almost immediately.
“You’re sweating all over. You should have been lying down, I told you.”
Perry gestured weakly toward Crusher. “Here… she’s okay. I… need to sit down.”
He moved past Prince into the apartment and sat down in an armchair.
Prince was staring at Crusher, who appeared not to have noticed her mother and was busy studying the ceiling.
“Come in.” Prince said.
Crusher looked at her skeptically, and then entered. She sat down on the bed and adjusted her plastic gloves.
Prince closed the door and went into the bathroom. She came back out with an ice pack and handed it to Perry.
Perry held it against his head gratefully.
“Did you thank him?” Prince asked.
Crusher scowled at her. “For what?”
“He was sick with a fever and he went and got you out of that whole mess.”
“Why do you care? He’s just a tool to you.” Crusher snapped.
“Shut it!” Prince looked dangerously close to punching her daughter in the face. “I would have gone to spare him. But he insisted.”
“Guess I still would have been locked in that cell if you hadn’t been convinced to let him get me. It’s funny how much you’ve fooled him. He kept insisting you actually cared about me.”
“I DO care about you, you ungrateful little-”
They began shouting insults at each other. Perry tried to cover his ears.
“Headache.” He mumbled.
“WHY? WHY DIDN’T YOU GET ME YOURSELF, YOU LAZY SELFISH-”
“I COULDN’T RISK IT WITH-”
“LIKE I SAID, SELFISH!”
“I’M HAVING A BABY, YOU DOLT! I CAN’T RUN AROUND WITH RIVAL GANGS WHEN I HAVE A BABY!”
That silenced Crusher. She stared at Prince in disbelief.
Prince was shaking in anger, her fists clenched.
“With him?” Crusher asked, her voice tiny.
Prince nodded quickly.
Crusher’s eyes narrowed. “Enjoy your new family. It must be nice for you. Being able to start over because you didn’t like your old one. I get kidnapped by killers, and you two run off and have a baby. Cute. Glad to see you’re happy, mom. Goodness knows your happiness is all you care about.”
Crusher left the apartment, slamming the door loudly behind her.
Prince was still standing in the same spot, breathing hard.
She burst into tears.
Perry got up and hugged her. She buried her head in his chest.
“It’s okay.” Perry whispered. “You didn’t do anything wrong.”
“I waited… too long… to get her.” Prince sobbed.
“She didn’t mean any of that. She’s just being a jerk.”
“She’s… who she is… because of me.” Prince clutched him so tightly he was finding it harder to breathe. “I… I never took… good care of her…”
“Of course you did. You did the best you could.”
“I… was like that… when you met me. You know… I was like that. She learned it… from me… she hated me… so she left me… and I never got to prove… that I cared about her…”
Perry patted her on the back. He didn’t know what else to say.
Prince had been a jerk when he’d met her. She had taunted him countless times, shot at him, got into fights with him, and threatened him. She had begun a relationship with him to get close enough to him for safety from being arrested for illegal acts. Then she broke up with him, leaving him completely destroyed.
But he knew that wasn’t how she was. Who she was now was how she was supposed to be.
“She’ll come around.” He said.
Prince hugged him tighter. He patted her some more, trying to somehow comfort her.
Perry stared at the television, bored. His fever was dying down, but his head still hurt. His limbs were also weak and tired, and he didn’t feel like getting up.
He heard a knock, and the back door to his lair opened. Phineas and Ferb entered, carrying a bowl of soup.
Perry stared at Ferb’s attire. “What in the name of… what are you WEARING, Ferb?”
Ferb began to laugh.
“Okay.” Phineas said. “So, our math teacher Mr. Morrison said he wanted to have shirts for his class like how clubs have shirts and stuff, and he said we all could come up with designs. So Ferb came up with this one design…”
Ferb spun around. “It’s Mr. Morrison’s face on the front!”
“I see that.” Perry said. Mr. Morrison’s face was certainly very prominent, and the words MR. MORRISON were printed in neon green bubble letters under his blankly smiling face.
“And on the back is the back of Mr. Morrison’s head!” Ferb said, turning around.
Perry started laughing so hard he coughed.
“Mr. Morrison was kind of embarrassed.” Phineas said.
“I’m wearing this shirt every day.” Ferb said. “Until winter. And then I will mass-produce them for every kid in the school.”
“I’m sure Mr. Morrison will be proud.” Perry said.
“We brought soup.” Phineas said, setting down the bowl next to the couch. “It’s noodle soup, because we know how you feel about chicken.”
“Turkey.” Perry corrected. “Thanks. I get a little woozy around chicken anyway.”
“You should eat.” Phineas said.
“I will. In a bit.”
“What are you watching?” Phineas looked at the TV.
“‘Barley’s Return To Fairy Princess Unicorn Mermaid Fashion-Designer Ballerina Castle’ or something like that.”
They stared at the television as Barley danced across the screen in a shiny pink dress. Her magical blue talking cow followed her.
“Why do they always make the animals speak English? It’s disturbing.” Perry said. “They don’t have the voiceboxes for that.”
“Hey, I was meaning to ask you.” Phineas said. “In animal movies, like cartoon ones, when they make the dogs say ‘woof’ and stuff, does it mean real words?”
“Yep. And since people just use random tones of barking, it sounds really funny. Take that old Disney cartoon with the dog named after that planet. Remember that one where the mouse guy said ‘Hoo boy, Pluto, let’s go on a picnic’?”
“Yeah, and then Pluto said ‘Woof woof arf woof’.”
“Yeah. So, loosely translated, that meant ‘Piles dear kangaroo cabinet kingdom’.”
“Oh dear.” Ferb said.
“I think a non-talking animal is coming up!” Phineas said, pointing at the Barley movie. A cat started mewing at Barley’s talking cow.
“Princess Kittyrella says that she sees a magical sparkling stream ahead!” The cow said to Barley.
“Nope.” Perry said. “She says ‘Triceratops halfway pseudonym lilac heads’.”
“This is awesome.” Phineas said.
Perry coughed. “Good to see you two appreciating meows and barks.”
Phineas and Ferb sat down in front of the couch and began watching the Barley movie with him, occasionally pointing out all of the plot holes and grammatical errors. Perry was content just having them with him. He watched the movie a little, but mostly kept his eyes on them, sitting in front of him, the backs of their heads looking completely focused, and the back of Mr. Morrison’s head looking completely ridiculous on Ferb’s shirt.
“Polar bears.” Ferb said.
Phineas instantly burst into hysterical giggles. Ferb started chuckling, too.
Perry knew he shouldn’t have let them drink the whole carton of chocolate milk. The boys didn’t do well hyped up on sugar.
“Buckling seatbelts, buckle-dee-doo!” Ferb said.
Phineas was in tears, holding his stomach. Ferb was beginning to lose it as well, and was already sliding on the floor in a fit of laughter.
“Come on, boys.” Perry said sleepily. “Calm down.”
“Wurny… the Purr!” Ferb squeaked. He rolled onto the floor and began laughing so hard no sound came out.
“Wurny the pu-hu-hurr!” Phineas echoed.
“You look like you were attacked by the Teaser. That guy from Baseballman.”
“Turby little curby all sturfed with flurf!” Phineas was singing. His words were barely audible through his giggling.
“Seriously, guys. Chill. Calm down.”
Phineas wiped his eyes and sat up, letting out a breath of relief.
“Buhhh-lizard!” Ferb said.
Phineas broke down again.
“Ferb, please. I just calmed him down. Ugh, now I know why Linda gives you mostly sugar-free snacks.”
“Like apples- hee hee hee! APPLES!” Ferb said.
“You guys are gonna crash pretty soon.”
“It’s a horse in a bookcase!” Ferb said.
“HURSE ERN ERR BERKCARSE!” Phineas said.
“At least I hope soon. I don’t want to have to go through this all night.”