Hello again, delightful readers! Yes, it's true! A new OafP update to celebrate the New Year!

As I've mentioned before, I will not leave a story unfinished. I may be slow, I may get sidetracked, I may have the Writer's Block From Hell, but I will never, ever completely abandon a story. Even a cop-out ending is better than no ending at all, right?

Fortunately, I'm not copping out here. I just got sidetracked by something called "life".

Well, here we go!

The big cat missed Doofenshmirtz by inches as he dropped to the floor. It landed on the work table and knocked most of the equipment and chemicals off, turning to look for its intended prey.

He scrambled for cover under the table. The cat rumbled and casually swiped at him, catching Heinz along one arm and his ribcage. "GAAAH!"

He heard the door get kicked open.

"BAD KITTY! Perry, get Heinz out!"

The young man dove under the table to get to his nemesis. Doofenshmirtz was gasping in pain, blood from the slash staining his lab coat. Perry decided it wasn't too serious and dragged the fake doctor out by the collar. He tossed the man out the door and yanked it shut, catching a glimpse of Terry launching herself at the huge feline, the first weapons she had found - a pair of steak knives from their lunch - in each hand.

They had always preferred the direct approach.

Perry hoped she was good enough a fighter in human form to get away from the... leopard? Or jaguar?

It didn't matter; she would be fighting for her life.

The sounds from the lab were hair-raising; glass shattering, large meaty thuds, wood splintering. An angry roar and Terry yelling "Why won't you fucking DIE?" More smashing glass and wood, a shriek of pure agony... more glass breaking, followed by an even more frightening silence.

From her entry into the lab to the last tinkle of glass it had been less than two minutes.

Doofenshmirtz groaned and got up. "Perry the Person... in my medicine cabinet. There's a white glass jar... no label, red lid. Make a dozen copies in the Copy-and-Paste-inator. Hurry."

Perry figured that if it was in the medicine cabinet it couldn't be evil so he complied. When he got back, Doofenshmirtz was taking a large first-aid kit from another cabinet. He pulled his lab coat and turtleneck off, revealing to Perry four deep parallel slashes on his rib cage that were bleeding steadily. There was a smaller set on his arm.

Perry helped his nemesis rinsed the wounds out with saline solution. "Doof... I think it cut you to the bone. Shit, I think it cut into the bone."

Doofenshmirtz didn't speak again until he had bandaged his arm and started on his ribs. "Perry .. I need your help here. I can't reach that far back. Just... put some ointment into the cuts, all the way in... yes, there. Now the gauze... help me wrap the bandage around."

"Are you sure this is enough? You got clawed by a big cat!"

"I'll be fine," Doffenshmirtz gritted through his teeth. "This is Insta-Heal ointment. Let's get Terry."

Perry motioned to Doofenshmirtz to let him look in first. He carefully pushed the door open and growled softly. The laboratory was in shambles. Two stools had been smashed to kindling, shattered glass lay everywhere, puddles of chemicals lay bubbling in some spots, smoking in others. There was a sickening smell of perfume and vomit.

The worst reek of all was from the blood spattered all over the place. There was also a rivulet of blood coming from behind the main work table. Perry and Doofenshmirtz looked at each other, swallowed hard, and carefully stepped over to find the source.

The big cat was definitely dead. It was sprawled motionless on its side in a slowly spreading puddle of blood, with Terry curled up into herself, lying halfway across its hip. There was a steak knife buried to the hilt in the beast's shoulder, and what looked like a stool's broken-off leg protruding from just behind its ribcage.

What had actually killed it, however, was the source of the vomit smell: a flask of hydrochloric acid had been shoved down its throat.

Perry took his hat off in respect as tears came to his eyes. Was she...?

A small whimper told them Terry was still alive.

Doofenshmirtz knelt, oblivious to the blood. "Geliebte... I'm here... hang on, Terry."

He turned her over, but she remained curled around her stomach, obviously protecting a bad wound. Her eyes flew open, full of pain and fear.

When she saw his face the fear was replaced by a wave of relief. The pain in her eyes never wavered. "Oh," she moaned, "you're safe..." Her hand drifted up and she gently stroked his cheek, leaving bloody streaks behind.

"Yes, Geliebte, now let me see. Please."

She whimpered again, the sound a dagger in his heart. "Did... did he gut me...?"

That was his fear as well. He sighed in relief as he checked. "No, he didn't." He picked her up in his arms like a child.

"Oh... that's good." She closed her eyes and sank into unconsciousness.

Perry had busied himself cleaning off the work surface. Doofenshmirtz gave him a look of wordless thanks and lay her on it, cutting off what was left of her blood-soaked dress to start tending to her wounds. The man and the platypus both gasped in astonishment at what she had survived.

The cat had used both back paws to rake her belly as she shoved the acid flask into its mouth in a frontal attack. It hadn't eviscerated her, but it had come terrifyingly close. Had it been the much sharper front claws it would have killed her outright.

She also had multiple cuts and lacerations, several with glass and wood splinters embedded in them, deep gouges from where the cat had clawed her (including a nasty one down her face that had miraculously missed her left eye), puncture wounds from the cat's teeth on both forearms and just above one ankle, and an acid burn covered the greater part of one hand. Terry had obviously made damn sure the big black cat couldn't get the flask out of its maw before the effect of the nearly pure acid incapacitated it enough for her to break the hold it had on her.

"Perry the Platyperson... I want you to take pictures."

Perry looked at him incredulously. "What on earth for?"

"It's not for me. It's for Carl. He probably doesn't know about it but... what was it anyway, a leopard or a jaguar? Well, I want him to see what it was and what it was wearing."

Another questioning look from Perry. "It was wearing something?"

"Look over there by the wall, just under the vent."

Perry looked. To his horror he saw a hat.

It was a brown fedora.

It took Perry and Doofenshmirtz two hours to photograph, clean, anoint, stitch and bandage all of Terry's wounds. She regained consciousness once, when they were almost done, but didn't say a word. All she did was turn her head to look at the dead mountain of black fur. After a while she smiled smugly and closed her eyes again.

When they were done, Perry stepped over to the now-cold hulk, growling. Being human kept him from what he really wanted to do so he settled for spitting in its eye.

"I can appreciate the sentiment, Perry the Platy- eh, Person... but that's just disgusting."

Perry growled "Be glad I'm not still a platypus then," and reset his hat on his head. He picked up a pair of wire-cutting pliers and went to work on the big cat. He spoke again, keeping his back to Doofenshmirtz so the older man couldn't see what he was up to. "It's a melanistic jaguar, male and intact. If this fellow really was an agent he would have been an extremely dangerous and unpredictable one." His voice dropped to almost a whisper as he continued. "OWCA agents are usually neutered young." In a more normal tone he finished by saying, "You want his scrotum for a coin purse?"

Doofenshmirtz shuddered. "I'll pass." Perry the Person could amuse himself all he wanted desecrating that corpse, but it seemed much too evil for what Heinz knew of Perry - and pointless, to boot. He carefully picked Terry up and carried her to their bedroom. Once there he gently tucked her in and lay on top of the comforter next to her, watching her for any sign of consciousness. He didn't feel tired, strangely enough.

He was asleep in less than five minutes.