I took a deep breath to steady my nerves. This had to be done. It couldn't wait. There was nothing to be done about the circumstances- I would just have to spit it out. I directed an agitated stare down the barrel of my nemesis' newest ray gun, a nasty piece of work that was capable of blasting me to smithereens- or, possibly, blasting itself to smithereens. And holding it threateningly, grinning as if his birthday had come early, was my nemesis- Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz.
I mentally shook myself. I had to focus on what was important- not the fact that there was a large ray gun aimed directly at my heart, poised to stop my breathing if I made even one move. I had to get to my real purpose, before Doofenshmirtz lost patience. But first, my nemesis had some words of his own.
"So, Perry the Platypus," he drawled, still wearing that evil grin that I had seen so many times, "you thought you could foil me, but you won't be so confident once I use my new Heart-Stopper-Inator on you! I had it specifically made to eliminate you, isn't that nice? Why, I'd be shocked if you made it out alive. Any thoughts about THAT?"
He paused smugly for a moment, knowing he had all the time in the world. He had decided to attempt to eliminate me early today, and I was still trapped, helpless and desperate. After waiting for a long time with no response of any kind from me and no further gloating on his part, he raised an eyebrow.
"What, nothing?" he asked incredulously. "I used my Human-Speech-Inator on you for a reason, you know. You don't have to stand there and stare at me like a dead fish."
I gritted my teeth. The ability to talk and the desire to talk were two different things. I was unwilling to even try to say anything, but I just had to do it. However, just as I was wording my sentence in my head, Doofenshmirtz seemed to lose patience.
"Okay, forget about whatever you're thinking. What about…last words?" he said maliciously, pushing the Heart-Stop-Inator just a little closer to my head. I gulped.
It was now or never.
I opened my mouth cautiously, and he seemed just the tiniest bit surprised. The Inator didn't budge, of course- I hadn't expected anything of the sort. Now, it didn't matter.
"I-I just always thought," I said in a quiet, seemingly unused voice, "that if I had to die, I'd do it with dignity…doing the right thing."
For a moment there was silence. Doofenshmirtz actually looked impressed with me, though he also seemed to be trying to hide it. Eventually, he seemed to recover a sense of where he was and what he was supposed to be doing, and gave me a confused glance.
"That's it?" he said. "No escape? No thwarting? No…nothing?"
I gained a resolved glare and looked straight into his eyes, which made him freeze up for a moment. "I'm not done," I continued hesitantly. "As well as all that, I…there's something I've wanted to tell you for a while now." I finished the sentence with a grimace, the words unfamiliar and sour in my mouth. That seemed to put him on edge.
"What sort of thing?" he asked suspiciously.
I gulped and abruptly realized I'd been standing in exactly the same position since he had first pulled out the gun, which had probably been about eleven minutes ago. My muscles were aching, and the pads of my feet hurt terribly. But even worse than that was the fear of what I was about to do. Slowly, unwillingly, I coaxed myself to speak again.
"For a long time, I've thought of us as being more than nemeses," I started awkwardly, watching Doofenshmirtz's expression go from suspicious to anxious. "And I thought that if I was going to die, I should do it knowing that we were…" the words came out in a rush, although my will to get them over with began to drain as I prepared for the final word, "…friends."
Doofenshmirtz's expression would have been comical if he wasn't still pointing the Heart-Stop-Inator straight at me. He looked absolutely bewildered, or perhaps horrified. I felt about the same way inside. How could I possibly say that without being mortified? We were nemeses, and he had finally come up with a serious plan to destroy me. Why, again, had I decided to tell him this now, when there was just one thing standing in between me and death, and it just so happened to be my worst enemy?
Hours, days even, seemed to pass in the time it took Doofenshmirtz to respond. I had the idea that he wasn't even thinking, much less thinking of a response. I could have used the time to escape and save myself, but for some reason I was frozen in place. I simply stood in my strained, uncomfortable pose, waiting for the inevitable- whatever that was. Finally, Doofenshmirtz blinked abruptly and seemed to regain his train of thought.
"Well," he started slowly, using his laser-free hand to scratch the back of his neck uncomfortably. I felt my features twist into a somewhat nervous expression, although given the circumstances, it was difficult to appear any more nervous than I already was. That wasn't a good sign. If things had gone the way I had hoped, he would have said how he felt the same way, and that we should give up the enemy thing and be best friends.
"Y'know, is it just me, or is this the sort of thing that only happens in sappy, melodramatic fan fiction?" he said aloud, not apparently expecting an answer. I thought about that for a moment. Come to think of it, since when did I think this was normal? And as I considered that, too, a shocking possibility occurred to me.
A very sharp, painful possibility that hit me so hard, it was as if I'd been slapped.
This wasn't normal. I would never normally say this. He would never normally react that way. And if I gave the matter deeper thought, I couldn't remember how I had gotten here in the first place. By hovercraft, maybe? On my scooter? Up the side of the building using a grappling gun, or maybe just crashing in through the windows, doors, or ceilings? None of the answers seemed likely. I began to wonder whether my memory hadn't been wiped or something of the sort. And come to think of it, since when had Doofenshmirtz been interested in knowing what I was saying, or destroying me for real?
"No response," Doofenshmirtz muttered, as these thoughts began to chase each other around in my head. "Well. Sappy, melodramatic fan fiction it is, then."
Suddenly, he flung the Heart-Stop-Inator away and sprinted to the center of the room, seizing a microphone which had appeared seemingly out of nowhere. As he turned back around to face me, a catchy, electronic tune started up, and background dancers dashed in from either side of the room. I jerked myself out of my reverie to stare at the sight. A musical number after the scheme had been explained? This just wasn't done. I was getting more freaked out by the minute, and it didn't help when Dr. D started singing-
In a high, distinctly feminine voice.
I couldn't make out many of the lyrics due to pure shock, but it sounded like he and his background dancers were singing something about best friends, which scared me even worse. What was going on? Was I losing my mind, or was he losing his? Maybe we had both gone insane, and we didn't even know it. The whole scene was so strange and…
That was it. That was the word for this whole situation. Dreamlike. And suddenly the truth hit me like a speeding train, just as a series of strange events began to take place. Norm the robot skipped past behind Doofenshmirtz's musical performance, followed closely by a giant, floating baby head. Vanessa poked her head out of her room and yelled something about not having any musicals before lunchtime. A few explosions of brightly colored smoke decorated the lair, and suddenly, I realized that I was seeing everything, but not really seeing anything at all. Just as Doofenshmirtz finished his song with a loud trumpet finale, I shut my eyes and tried to picture myself waking up.
Which is exactly what happened next.
My eyes snapped open abruptly, and quite suddenly, the world was back and in full color and detail. The dark, subtle purples and greens of D.E.I. came into focus, and a loud peal of high-pitched laughter sounded from somewhere beyond my attention.
"Ha, ha!" cried the voice, which I had already connected with my nemesis. "My Nightmare-Inator works! You should have seen your face, Perry the Platypus. I don't know what you were dreaming about, but it must have been horrible!"
As my mental systems began to reconnect, I realized that I must have collapsed on the floor of his lair after being hit with the Nightmare-Inator, which I now remembered had been mentioned earlier today by Major Monogram. As I picked myself up off the floor, I remembered that it had been Monogram who had sent me to foil Doofenshmirtz's schemes in the first place. That must have caused the strange dream I had just experienced, which meant that I had to get on with my mission. But first…
"Oh, you're really awake now, huh?" said Doofenshmirtz from a little ways in front of me. I glanced up, holding my head with one hand, and there he was- wearing his usual lab coat and slacks, brown hair just as messy as usual, and a small ray gun clutched in one long-fingered hand. At the moment, he looked a bit surprised to see me recovering so quickly, but I was not at all surprised to see him. Heck, no…
I was relieved.
No Heart-Stop-Inators, or Human-Speech-Inators, or musical numbers of any kind! No best friend nonsense, or ridiculously random circumstances, or anything, really. Just an ordinary scheme, with an ordinary ray gun, and probably some ordinary desire to rule the Tri-State Area or something of the sort. I was thrilled to be awake again, and it was a combination of this pure thrill and a strong tiredness that impeded my thoughts as I dashed to my enemy and hugged his leg affectionately, elated simply by being conscious.
For a moment, everything was silent, even Doofenshmirtz. Then he cleared his throat.
"…Well," he started, sounding unsure of the words, "Sappy melodrama it is, then."
And I couldn't help but think; if it turns out I'm dreaming again…
Please don't wake me up.