It was supposed to be a routine mission. Get in, get trapped, listen to his back-story, get free, trash him and his latest Whatever-Inator, and get out. Until I took a drink of whatever was in the mug he offered me.
Well, it's usually something good. He makes a great hot chocolate, even though he's lactose-intolerant. I remember thinking he'd switched to almond milk, it didn't have the weird grassy aftertaste his regular soy milk did.
So there I was, listening to his spiel about how he has such bad luck with women and rarely gets past the first date, and how he'd been working on an artificial girlfriend. The new wife he had built for his robot Norm had been a test run of sorts, and since they were now on their honeymoon he had decided to make a woman for himself. Apparently the love doll was physically complete and was just lacking a personality.
I was sipping on the hot chocolate with extra marshmallows when I started to feel drowsy. I tried to get up and fight him but it was too late and I passed out. The last thing I remember is him kneeling down and carrying me... somewhere.
When I woke I was in a bed. I recognized the scent easily. His bed. He wasn't around. I turned over and saw light coming through the half-open door. When I tried to get up I realized what he'd done to me.
Curse you, Heinz Doofenshmirtz.
I jumped out of the bed and almost fell on my face. My balance was off. This wasn't like the time I accidentally switched bodies with Candace. That body was used to being bipedal and tailless. I just kind of went around in it on autopilot.
It took me a few minutes to get steady enough on my feet to get to the bedroom door. I peeked out and saw his desktop computer was on. I started to sneak over to it when I heard his voice behind me.
"Oh, good, you're awake. Do you know who you are?"
I turned slowly and saw him leaning on the door frame. He looked smug.
I couldn't speak. I couldn't think. I wanted to kill him but couldn't. I could only growl and wait for an explanation.
It wasn't forthcoming.
"Have you seen yourself yet?" I shook my head.
He guided me to the full-length mirror on the back of the bathroom door.
From the moment my nemesis told me he was designing a girlfriend for himself I'd had his ex-wife in mind. Tall, slim, black hair, slightly Asian features, perhaps wearing glasses.
I was wrong. Very wrong. Except for being human and female, I resembled Charlene Doofenshmirtz in no way whatsoever.
This body was maybe five and a half feet tall. My new face was a rounded rectangle with large brown oval eyes, a straight nose, round chin and a small, plump mouth with apricot lips. My hair was a thick, almost-white platinum blonde, cut in a bob between chin and shoulder length. The lace nightie and shorts I was wearing didn't hide the fact that this body was both quite fit and a little plump, with breasts a bit smaller than I would have expected. They were firm and rounded, sitting as high on its - no, my - chest as a teenager's. Waist not too narrow, slightly rounded belly, smoothly curving hips, shapely legs tapering to dainty ankles. Arms also well-turned, hands with fingers neither too thin nor too thick.
Why the hell was I evaluating this body? It wasn't me! I was a male platypus, dammit!
I mentally compared my current self to both Candace and Linda and calculated this body must be young enough to be the latter's daughter, and the former's older sister. Not much older, though. Maybe twenty-two.
His hands slid slowly up and down my arm and waist. The sensation was rather pleasant, even if I didn't really like the thought of being human.
I realized what I was wearing. My enemy must have known what went through my mind, because he spoke again. "No, I haven't done anything perverted to you. Yet. I haven't really done anything except copy Perry the Platypus's brainwaves to this chassis."
I broke away and headed for the door. He just smirked and said, "What are you going to do, Perry the Pretty Girl? Run home? Get help? Perry the Platypus already left. He never even noticed when I scanned his brain. He has no idea that you exist."
I hated that he was right. I lay my head against the door and managed to croak out a word. "W-why?"
"Because I'm evil. Because I could. Because I'm tired of the screwball women I keep meeting."
I didn't even growl. I could only wonder, why me?
He stepped behind me and pulled me close. With his arms wrapped around my waist,I was so shocked I couldn't even struggle. "Since you're here, let's just enjoy ourselves, shall we..." he whispered into my ear.
His hot breath on my skin was followed by a gentle bite on my neck. I gasped and in spite of myself pressed back into him as the sensation flowed down to my crotch.
"Ah, good," he purred, "the hormonal adjustments are working perfectly. You see, Perry, the body you're in was scientifically created to respond to me as its perfect biological match. So, even if you're intellectually opposed to the idea, your physical responses will try to override it. Your self-control will probably be the deciding factor."
He hadn't called me Perry the Platypus, or Perry the Pretty Girl. Just Perry. I hated him for it.
I wanted to beat the crap out of him. I wanted to scream. I wanted to run out to the terrace and jump off the ledge to splatter myself on the street thirty-eight floors down.
I didn't do any of those things, of course. Instead... I started to cry silently in defeat.
I hated myself for it. I hated even more that he didn't do or say anything except turn me so I had my face in his chest, and held me for a long time. No groping, no fondling, just holding me.
"Perry?" I looked up. His indigo eyes were sad. "If it's that horrible, I... I suppose I could delete your mind from this body, if you really want me to."
I pondered the offer. It would probably be like falling asleep. I could deal with that, I thought. I nodded.
He let me go and headed for the lab. He stopped at the door and I thought he would turn around. All he did was say "I... I'm sorry. I should have known better than to hope this might work out for me." He headed to his computer and sat down to work.
After a while I stepped over to him, wondering what he was up to.
I peered over his shoulder. From what little I could understand, he was calculating how much power output was needed to delete my personality from the body it occupied. He growled something in German which needed no translation and started running several simulations in parallel. As he waited for the results he absentmindedly rubbed his neck. I could see the tension under the lab coat and turtleneck and instinctively lay a hand on his shoulder.
He didn't say a word, only turned his head a bit. I could see the tear hovering in the corner of his eye as he looked at my hand. I pretended not to notice it and put my other hand on him, pulling him against the back of the chair and starting to work on the tense muscles. I finally told him something that had been on my mind for ages.
"Stop slouching. It's bad for your back." My voice -muffled by bone conduction- sounded pleasant. I wondered what it sounded like to him.
"So it does talk." His voice was steady – for him. "I was wondering if I was going to have to learn sign language."
"Would you prefer I go 'crrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrt'?
Heinz was staring at the screen. "Does it matter?" He wasn't relaxing in spite of the massage. I kept at it, so I wouldn't have to look at the sadness in those indigo eyes again.
After a while, he spoke up again. "Do you know why, whenever I tell you the back story for my latest creation, it's never between my second year of college and when I went backpacking in Europe?"
I considered for a moment before answering. "I always thought it was when you were Charlene, and you were actually happy."
He sighed. "Yes. Yes, I was. I loved her so much it hurt, and having her love me back was just... magic. When we got married it was the happiest day of my life – until Vanessa came along and that made it even better. I gave up on evil and began working as a composer. I made a really good living at it too; commercial jingles, mostly, but also some musical theater and several songs for Love Händel. It wasn't enough for Charlene, though."
The tension in his shoulders had slackened just the tiniest bit. I realized it wasn't me but the talking that was making him relax. I kept working on him silently. He'd speak when he was ready.
Heinz went on, his voice still steady and low. "It started with little things here and there. A canceled appointment, going out to lunch with her friends more often, unexplained charges on the credit cards, new lingerie she never wore for me. I had known for certain for almost a year that Charlene was cheating on me when she dropped the ultimate bomb on my thirty-third birthday." He let out a small sob. "She'd even cheated on me with Roger... and... Vanessa is his daughter."
My hands clenched his lab coat in sudden rage. At that moment I wanted nothing more than to dig Charlene's heart out with a wooden spoon. How could she have done such a thing to Heinz? Whatever his failings, I knew he had been a devoted husband, and was still a loving father. As for Roger... I forced myself to keep rubbing Heinz's shoulders. He needed me to listen more than ever.
"Charlene decided she wouldn't tell Vanessa – or Roger; he has no idea – as long as I complied with her demands. She wanted all the royalties and residuals from my music career. Her lawyers tried to screw me over, but I got back at her. She could either fork over a big fat check every month or we could all undergo DNA testing that would prove Vanessa's not biologically mine. That would have ruined her completely, so she agreed.
"I left for Europe the day after I signed the papers. I told you about that trip, didn't I, with the incident with Ambassador's wife and me ending up persona non grata in Albania... I bought the apartment after I got back and decided to go back to evil full-time."
He had unwound considerably but was still a bit tense. I decided to leave any more rubbing for later, my hands were getting tired. I smoothed out his lab coat with a few slow strokes.
He surprised me by laying his hand over mine. "Thank you, Perry."
"Whatever for?" I could have pulled my hand out from under his. I didn't.
"For not killing me half an hour ago, even though I probably deserve it. For listening. For being my friend."
"A friend beats the crap out of you at least twice a week?"
He finally looked at me and smiled wanly. "And gets beaten up in turn? I always thought that was just business. Are you hungry?"
The non sequitur caught me off guard. "Wait, what?"
"This is going to be running all night, and maybe half of tomorrow. It's past midnight, I'm starving, and that body you're in hasn't eaten at all."
My stomach growled.
"I'll take that as a yes." He unfolded himself from the chair without letting go of my hand and led me to a chair in the kitchen.