A/N: With this chapter, the rating has to increase to T. Sorry.

Also…wondering if I should bother writing up the AU I'm playing with in my head, especially considering how I tend to start stories and then move onto other ones...

The Ties that Bind- Vanessa

It was a chilly day in Danville. Winter vacation had just started and Phineas and Ferb proposed creating a giant sled…until they remembered the new restrictions. Perry missed the rest of their discussion after an urgent bulletin from Major Monogram had him off and away. The OWCA thought if Perry could thwart Doofenshmirtz now, he could stop things before they got too ugly.

Perry hadn't thought it would get this bad. The situation with Doofenshmirtz had never been serious. Then something changed in the man's demeanor and his inventions, which were usually quirky instead of evil, started getting nasty. Some could kill, given the right opportunity and Perry had been injured last week destroying the last one.

The last battle had left him with stitches; Phineas and Ferb had attributed it to playing too rough. They had panicked and Perry had, too, a little. Doofenshmirtz's battles weren't supposed to wound him. If they were…something was going horribly wrong.

Perry deployed his parachute and landed on Doofenshmirtz's roof. He thought he had seen a girl with long black hair standing in front of the building and stomping her foot. Whoever she was, she wasn't his concern and he searched the immediate area for his foe.

"Ah, Perry the Platypus," Doofenshmirtz said and Perry whirled around. As expected, a cage slammed down and trapped him. However, unexpected, the cage had barbs and Perry could barely move without getting pricked. He gritted his teeth and chittered, annoyed and a little fearful.

"How good of you to drop in," Doofenshmirtz said. Perry waited for the lame pun, but there wasn't one. Instead, Doofenshmirtz yanked down a black curtain over a contraption in Perry's line of sight. It looked like all of his other "inators", although, if Perry was right, it was aimed in the area near Phineas and Ferb's house. He eyed the cage warily and tried to figure out if he could hook his tail through the bars and use the tip to pick the lock.

"Like it, Perry the Platypus?" he crooned. "It's the Convulsinator. It will cause anyone who refuses to obey me to convulse until they proclaim me ruler of the tri state area."

He approached and smiled, one that didn't reach his eyes. "You may be wondering how I'd hear. I attached a tiny, but microscope to all the cameras everywhere in town. Whatever they say, I'll hear."

Doofenshmirtz looked back at his machine. "Now, to make sure I wasn't foolish enough to add a self-destruct button…"

Perry took advantage of his foe's distraction to move, very carefully. The barbs left angry red lines across his green fur and he could feel himself bleeding. He twisted his tail and hooked it into the slot. An upward tug, left to right, up and down, and he was free.

Relieved, he launched himself, right foot first, at his enemy's head. He sent Doofenshmirtz whirling backward and Perry bounced, landing safely on his feet. There was no self-destruct button- Perry could tell that much from a glance. The only way to make the machine broke was to send it off the top of the building.

He glanced down again, to see if the girl was still there, and he didn't see her. Doofenshmirtz swung a large metal pole at him (where had he gotten that? There were no loose pieces lying around). Perry ducked and sized up the invention. When the pole came around again, he leapt atop the Convulsinator and, allowing his foe to miss him and smack it, jumped off just as the machine fell. He did a back roll and landed perfectly, with his paws outstretched in a gesture for him to come closer.

"Curse you, Perry the-"Doofenshmirtz stopped and looked over the edge. Someone screamed.

With vast misgivings, Perry reluctantly turned his back to his nemesis and looked down too. The machine had crashed onto the pavement, but the girl Perry had missed because he'd been looking the wrong way had been in its path. Heart in his throat, Perry deployed another parachute and quickly flung himself down to see how badly she was hurt.

"Vanessa!" Doofenshmirtz screamed.

Perry landed safely and looked at the girl he had seen earlier. He recognized her as Doofenshmirtz's daughter. The contraption's legs had landed across her lap and pinned her to the ground.

"Perry," Vanessa panted and he grabbed her arms to yank her out. She tried to help him. Between the tugging and her own straining, he wrenched her free. Although Vanessa was pale and a little shaky, she looked all right. He tipped his hat and stepped back, ready to flee to Phineas and Ferb's house.

"I saw what you did, Perry the Platypus," Doofenshmirtz snarled and Perry jumped in front of Vanessa in case he needed to defend her. Considering he was about half her size, it was almost comical.

Vanessa panted and balled her fists. "Dad, he saved me."

"No, that's not what I meant," Doofenshmirtz snapped. "He sent my Convulsinator over the edge to hurt you."

Perry's jaw dropped.

"What? Dad, that's crazy," Vanessa said. "I told you. He saved me."

"Is it?" Doofenshmirtz rounded on Perry and Perry held his ground. Out of the corner of his eye, the Convulsinator shoot off warning sparks and Perry held up his paw to stop Doofenshmirtz from advancing. Unfortunately, Doofenshmirtz ignored him. Perry backed up, Vanessa behind him, and then she stopped, her back against the wall with the Convulsinator behind her right foot.

"You've had it out for me for years," he growled. "Every day, you always have to smash my inventions and ruin me in the process. And now you're bringing my family into it."

Unable to defend himself, he looked at Vanessa.

"He didn't know I was there," Vanessa said, exasperated. "Honestly, ever since Mom died you've been acting so weird."

"He didn't know you were there? Or didn't want to admit it!" Doofenshmirtz snapped and aimed a kick at Perry's still tender midsection. Perry dodged and his foe's foot glanced off, hitting the Convulsinator where the material had broken from the fall. There was a six inch gap between the steel sides and the more red sparks shot out. A couple landed on Vanessa, but nothing happened.

Then the Convulsinator shot a beam straight at her and Vanessa screamed again, collapsing. When the beam stopped, Perry scooped her up and inspected her. She was whimpering and shaking. A violent convulsion ripped through her and Perry looked, dismayed, at her father.

"That shouldn't be happening…" Doofenshmirtz said. Perry gave him a pointed look, to remind him what the machine was supposed to do and how people were supposed to stop it. It went over his head.

Vanessa shuddered again and her breathing grew increasingly shallow. Perry had a sudden suspicion Doofenshmirtz hadn't wired the machine right or that the fall had damaged, but not broken it. Usually, his machines came with a reverse switch. He set about finding it and Doofenshmirtz slugged him, sending him flying into the wall.

"No!" he snapped. "You'll just hurt her again!"

Perry chittered angrily. He had hurt her? He hadn't been the one who had invented this thing! Pawing the ground, he launched himself at the machine to find the off switch and Vanessa screamed again. It sent chills down his spine and he clawed at Doofenshmirtz's face. There had to be a way to help.

Vanessa's ears were bleeding and blood trickled out her mouth. Her breathing was disturbingly weak.

Perry glared at Doofenshmirtz and gave him a look that said clearly, "You have to let me help."

"I know I put the switch somewhere…" Doofenshmirtz said and one last red ray shot straight at Vanessa's chest. Perry jumped in the way, but it was too late. He landed on her chest- she convulsed and then went horribly still. He pressed his head to her chest; she wasn't breathing.

"Get off!" Doofenshmirtz growled and Perry snapped his teeth. He dragged Vanessa back and stomped on her chest, then opened her mouth and tried performing CPR. He exhaled sharply into Vanessa's mouth and waited to pump her chest. Another solid whack to the head sent him crashing into the building.

Perry whimpered and his head spun. He saw double, along with bright lights, and he shook his head, but it only made it worse.

"Agent P, what's going on?" Monogram whispered urgently from his wristwatch. "Normally it takes a lot less time to foil Doofenshmirtz."

"Vanessa! Vanessa, breathe, honey! Breathe!" Doofenshmirtz's cries were frantic and Perry's heart clenched. He tried walking and swayed into the building. No good. If he hadn't had a concussion before, he did now.

"Agent P?" Monogram pressed.

"Vanessa! Vanessa!" Doofenshmirtz screamed. Perry's vision blurred and he barely saw Doofenshmirtz shake his daughter. Perry carefully, slowly, edged his way closer. He couldn't leave them now. Using the building to keep himself upright, he laid a hand on Doofenshmirtz's shoulder and grabbed Vanessa's wrist.

He couldn't find a pulse.

Doofenshmirtz dug in his pocket and then stopped, staring straight at Perry. The look on his face made Perry's stomach churn. There was nothing remotely human, no mercy or redemption. Perry shuddered, involuntarily taking a step back. For the first time in his life, he was afraid of his nemesis.

"You did this," Doofenshmirtz hissed. "You!"

Perry shook his head frantically. He hadn't. He'd been trying to save Vanessa! He would never hurt an innocent person, let alone a child! The very idea made him nauseous.

"You killed my daughter," he continued. "You threw the machine off the roof and you knew it'd short circuit and hit her. That's why you stood in front. You killed her."

Perry could only shake his head repeatedly. No, no, no! He would never! Never!

"You can run, Perry the Platypus, but you can't hide," he growled. "I will find you and hunt you down. You and everyone else you care about."

Perry's breaths came in short bursts. Phineas and Ferb. If Doofenshmirtz was unhinged enough to think he'd deliberately harmed Vanessa, he'd never spare his owners.

"I'll make you my general," Doofenshmirtz said, a maniac gleam in his eyes. "And every day you serve me, you'll wish you were dead."

He couldn't go home; he'd put everyone in unnecessary danger. Monogram was listening and might be able to help. OWCA was the only place he could go now. Phineas and Ferb were too precious to risk- maybe OWCA had some contingency plan. It was his only option.

Phineas and Ferb had gone out to see if they could reach Doofenshmirtz and reason with him. Then everything had gone south when the giant spider attacked and all Phineas had really wanted to do was find out what happened to the screaming girl. Of course, Candace had rushed them home, stitched Phineas up, and warned them to stay off the streets. Phineas was disappointed. He truly thought he could have made a difference.

With Candace gone, he and Ferb were watching the television for Doofenshmirtz Evil Updates. So far, it was all boring news about conforming.

"Have you seen Perry recently?" he asked Ferb. Ferb shook his head.

"He's been gone an awful long time," Phineas said, frowning. "And the last time he was gone this long, he came back with that weird gash."

He sighed. "I'm getting kinda worried. I sure hope he comes home soon."

The update was interrupted with a breaking news bulletin.

"Anyone found to be harboring Agent P will be immediately turned over for questioning," Doofenshmirtz announced. His eyes gleamed. "And by 'questioning', I mean death."

"Wow…" Phineas remarked. "What's going on there?"

"Nothing we're liable to get involved in," Ferb said softly.

"You're right," Phineas concluded. "It probably doesn't concern us. Still, I wonder where Perry went."

They turned away, missing the bulletin adding additional information, such as Perry's height, weight, appearance, and that he was wanted for murdering Vanessa Doofenshmirtz. There was also a picture of Perry without his hat and sitting on a lawn near Phineas and Ferb's house. In retrospect, it might have been a good thing that they'd missed it. They didn't need a double dose of fear.

Perry landed at HQ and immediately vomited. He'd been restraining himself, but between the concussion and what he had witnessed, he couldn't control it. The autopilot on his jetpack had been his one saving grace, because Perry's reflexes were shot. He couldn't stop shaking.

"Oh, dear, sir, we'd better take Agent P in for treatment," Carl said. He was talking into a watch.

"Don't bother," Doofenshmirtz said. Perry tried to turn in his direction, but his body failed him and he was limp on the grass.

"You're all under arrest," he said smugly. "And if you try to resist…Perry can tell you what happens, can't he?"

Perry shook his head one last time and saw, painted in red, Doofenshmirtz's face as he laughed insanely. None of his limbs responded when he pushed himself up and he gave up the ghost.

"Sir, we have a situation!" Carl announced. Doofenshmirtz laughed and fabric rustled.

"I'll start with you."

Perry regained consciousness inside a dimly lit chamber. There were restraints on his arms, legs, and around his neck. The instant he struggled, the neck restraint cut off his air circulation.

"This is almost anti-climactic," Doofenshmirtz sighed. Perry's vision flickered and he had problems focusing. Behind the spots in his vision, his head throbbed. The last thing he remembered was Carl screaming and then nothing.

"All this running around, these needless 'inators', and you wind up here, in my clutches," he said. "Did you even try to run, Perry the Platypus?"

Of course he hadn't. The bastard had given him a concussion. Perry's motor skills were almost non-existent at the moment. He couldn't have run, even if he'd wanted to. Then again, there was no point in thinking about it now. It wasn't like Doofenshmirtz could hear him.

"I just wish you'd gone home first," he continued. "Not that I didn't enjoy all the information Carl and Monogram told me, but…I can't help but feel a little empty. You killed Vanessa, and I didn't even get my hands on your family. I know, I know. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth."

Doofenshmirtz shone a very bright light into Perry's eyes and Perry chittered, frantic to escape it. It felt like it was boring straight into his skull. Minutes after he'd pulled back the light, Perry's vision still flashed.

"You know what I've never done before? Cyborgs," he said. "I always thought they'd be kind of cool, especially as a general in my army. What do you think?"

Fatigue suddenly swamped him and he forgot where he was. He looked around, couldn't see, and slumped in his constraints. He was so very tired and his head ached so much. All he wanted was to lie down on the pet pillow Phineas and Ferb had gotten him and go to sleep. Why couldn't he just go to sleep?

"Who cares what you think?" he scoffed. "You have no choice. You killed my daughter and now you have to live with the consequences."

Doofenshmirtz hit a button beside him (Perry's vision flickered in and out) and the wall spun. A hard force slammed into his chest and head.

"You will be my general, Perry the Platypus! Or, should I say, Perry the Platyborg!"