Perry woke feeling groggy and exhausted.
“Should have guessed running from crazed gang members yesterday wouldn’t have improved my health.” He muttered.
He looked toward the television. It was still on, playing an ad about toothpaste. Phineas and Ferb were asleep on the floor. Phineas was partially leaning against the couch and was sleeping with a very intense look on his face. Ferb was using Phineas’s lap as a pillow, and was still wearing his Mr. Morrison shirt.
Perry gently rubbed Phineas on the shoulder. “Phinny? Wake up. Lawrence will probably notice you’re gone.”
Phineas made an annoyed sound and shifted his position.
“Phin. Come on.” Perry tried Ferb. “Ferb? Get up. You need to go home.”
Perry managed to lift Ferb up a little. Ferb stretched and yawned. “There you go. Wake your brother up. Don’t want Lawrence to worry about you guys.”
Ferb poked Phineas in the side. Phineas rubbed his eyes.
“Go on.” Perry shooed them out of his lair and switched off the television.
He stared at the ceiling for a few minutes before he got up. He felt a little weak and shaky from lying down for so long.
Suddenly someone burst into his lair.
It was Peter. He was looking exceptionally fluffy and quite happy.
“Perry, I got him! I got him!”
“Got who?” Perry asked sleepily. He pulled on his robe and tied it.
Peter yanked someone into the room: A tall man, handcuffed, looking completely disheveled and annoyed.
“I can’t believe it, Thad. You and I were so close.”
Monogram was glaring at Thad over the top of his desk. Thad kept his eyes down, looking murderous.
Peter was spinning a coin in between his paws.
“So, let’s get to the bottom of this.” Monogram sighed. “All this, just over a game of hopscotch?”
“No.” Thad said.
Thad looked up, his face pale. “It wasn’t me who wanted you to fall, Monogram. That was her cover. She told everyone working for us that I was mad about hopscotch.”
“Who? Who did?”
“Franny.” Thad said.
Monogram narrowed his eyes. Peter stopped spinning his coin.
Perry nearly choked on his own breath.
“My sister?” Monogram asked slowly. “Thad, why did you work with my sister?”
Thad’s eyes were full of hatred.
“She threatened her, Francis. Threatened my girl. What more was I to do? I promised her I would work to bring you down. Act like it was all my idea. Pretend I was acting alone. Or she would… she’d… Kendrine…”
Although it made Perry feel sick to think anyone would want to save Kendrine, he understood completely what Thad was going through- the same internal battle Prince had fought with Crusher. The same battle Perry fought so often for his owners.
Save the greater good? Or save the people who mean more to you than anything?
Thad had begun to sob. Monogram handed him a tissue.
“I’m afraid we’ll have to interrogate you a bit more, and you won’t have unlimited access to the perimeters like before.”
Thad nodded silently, his red face buried in the tissue. “Francis… I didn’t want to betray you. You must know how hard it was. And the animals. I never wanted to hurt the animals. But she threatened my daughter…”
“The animals are fine, Thad.”
“We never found the master file.” Thad blubbered on. “She wanted that more than anything, but our trap didn’t work. So it’s still safe. Just thought… you should know.”
“We’ll have to erase your memory after you tell us all you know.” Monogram said.
Thad nodded again. “Maybe it’s better that way anyway.”
Perry left them to their chat and headed out of the room. He needed to get some cough syrup from the pharmacy before it closed.
Perry was exhausted by the time he got to the pharmacy. He’d thought walking would clear his head a little and help him feel better.
He had to stop and take a cough break on the bench outside of the pharmacy. When he finally finished, he wiped his eyes and sighed.
He looked around to get his bearings and saw Crusher sitting on the curb, staring at a flower she was twirling between her gloved fingers.
“Fancy meeting you here.” Perry said.
“It probably doesn’t mean anything to you, but your mother cried when you left.”
Crusher looked up at the sky.
“She loves you.”
When he got no response, Perry headed toward the pharmacy.
He was just putting his hand on the door when Crusher said, “I didn’t know what to do. I hadn’t seen her in a long time. I didn’t think she’d be happy to see me.”
“Of course she was happy to see you.” Perry said.
“She didn’t act like it.”
“I’m sure she felt the same way you did. She didn’t know what to say or how to act around you.”
Crusher shook her head and adjusted her panda tank top. “Who knows. She’s unpredictable.”
“Give her another chance.” Perry said. “I’m sure she’ll give you one. She loves you.”
The panda on Crusher’s shirt was saying something in Chinese and holding a fruit smoothie out triumphantly. It reminded Perry slightly of Peter.
And the thought of Peter reminded him of someone else.
Perry knocked on the purple door.
“Ugh, another one of those door-to-door seller people. I need to remember to make a door-seller-destructinator one of these days. HANG ON, I’M COMING.”
The door opened, and Doofenshmirtz looked straight out to meet his visitor. When he saw no one, he looked down.
“…Perry the platypus? What are you doing here?”
Doofenshmirtz looked very nervous all of a sudden. “I don’t have anything that would be of any interest to you. There’s half a fruit smoothie in the fridge, though. Banana orange. Do you like smoothies?”
Perry walked past him into the room and sat down on one of the couches. Doofenshmirtz brought out a Styrofoam cup that said MR. SLUSHIE BURGER on it in purple letters.
Doofenshmirtz stirred the contents a little with the straw. “It’s more melty-y than smoothie-y, but you’re fine with that, right?”
It sounded disgusting, but Perry accepted the cup anyway and drank a little. It tasted of bananas, oranges and the inside of Doofenshmirtz’s fridge.
Doofenshmirtz sat down across from Perry and looked at the floor. Perry stirred the smoothie some more in an attempt to make it all the same texture.
“Oh, Perry!” Doofenshmirtz suddenly cried out, startling Perry into dropping the smoothie all over the rug. “I’m sorry I made you mad! I miss you, Perry the platypus! You’re the only nemesis I want! Please, come back. Please!”
Doofenshmirtz was practically on his knees. Perry felt a lump in his own throat, although it could have been his body reacting to the three-day-old smoothie.
Perry placed his paw on Doofenshmirtz’s outstretched hand. Doof’s eyes watered in happiness.
For a very brief moment, Doofenshmirtz leaned forward as if to hug him.
Perry jumped back, and Doofenshmirtz let go of his paw.
“So. Tomorrow I’ll have a scheme worked up. You’d better be there to thwart me. And what’s this, you come into a guy’s house and spill things all over the floor…”
Perry grinned. It was good to be back.
“D’ya hear that?” Welton asked.
The sound of a spray can. Grapes knew that sound anywhere. He’d grown up hearing it.
“Idiots.” He whispered. “You’d think they’d wait until we were gone.”
Grapes padded quietly toward the source of the sound. Welton followed, speaking softly into his micro-sized communicator. “Welton to Waterspout. Royal Guard has infiltrated again by the west area. Grapes is with me. We’re heading toward the source. Notify the rest of us. We’ll surround them.”
They reached the end of the tunnel and wound up in the middle of the warehouse. A scrawny dog was painting the words “ALLIANCE” on a pole.
“Well, looks like we caught one of ‘em red-handed.” Grapes said loudly.
The dog turned. He was surprisingly calm.
“When will the rest of you get here?” He asked.
As if on cue, the other members of the Waterfall emerged from different entrances into the room. All had their handguns out.
Waterspout stepped out from the crowd, staring at the dog with annoyance. “So you’re the one who’s been coming here and painting all over our gorgeous hideout?”
The dog looked around at the dirty warehouse floors and damaged steel walls. “Royal Guard is requesting an alliance with Waterfall.”
“What?” Waterspout demanded. He motioned for his gang members to put away their weapons and advanced toward the dog.
“Flaming Planet has formed an alliance with an enemy with a large force.” The dog said. “They will be the only gang safe if this force wins. You have noticed the men shooting at any gang members in the streets?”
“If we band together for the inevitable coming battle, we will have a chance of keeping our lifestyle.”
“What’s your name, dog?” Waterspout demanded.
The dog used his spray can to paint the floor. Waterspout narrowed his eyes.
“Well, Malice, why didn’t your leader come to deliver this message herself?” Waterspout asked.
“Our leader is currently in hiding. She is in no state to run through the streets at this time.”
Waterspout folded his arms.
Malice waited patiently.
“If you promise to stay away from our place…”
“No more vandalism for now.” Malice agreed.
Waterspout gave a nod. “Then notify your leader. We accept this alliance. Waterfall, disband. Allow Malice to leave undisturbed.”
“Dang.” Grapes said to Welton as they went back through the tunnel. “I thought something interesting was finally going to happen.”
“Brought you some Chinese food.” Perry said, letting himself into Prince’s apartment.
“Thanks.” Prince said. She was lying on her bed, staring at the television.
“You look a little pale. Don’t tell me I got you sick.” Perry set the bag of food on her bedside table.
“I just don’t feel good. Chill.” Prince growled.
“Is there anything I can do?”
“All right then. Stay safe.” Perry started to let himself out.
“I inherited a radioactive trait from my father.” Prince said. “I wasn’t kidding when I said he’d been exposed to cutonium. Anyway… I think that may somehow transfer to the baby. And I don’t know how that will affect it. All I know is that I’m not feeling as active as I did when I was carrying Crusher.”
“You’re probably just tired.”
“Get out of here before I yell at you in my crankiness.”
“Do you need me to call Monogram or someone? A vet?”
“No. I can take care of myself.”
“It’ll be okay.” Perry said.
“Hope so.” Prince said quietly.
A skinny mutt shoved past Perry through the open door. “Prince, Waterfall has agreed to ally with Royal Guard. But Flaming Planet is closing in on Waterfall’s turf. We may be too late.”
Prince didn’t take her eyes off the television. “Stand by them, Malice. And make sure to get as many people on our side as possible.”