He Doesn’t Do Much (and that’s okay)
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One week after being adopted by the Flynn-Fletcher family, Perry contemplates if he truly belongs there.
Perry, having just turned 5 months old, stood alone in the grass.
He had just been adopted and was getting acclimated to the new space, being surrounded by bright laughter and colors at all times. He’d been trained from birth, of course, to have a double life as an agent and a mindless pet, even though he hadn’t been assigned any missions or a nemesis yet. Still, emotions pooled over. He was young, and it was all so new. He was really adopted now, after so much uncertainty that a host family would ever choose a platypus. It meant he could begin his life, though he had a feeling that if the family knew the truth, he wouldn’t be regarded so warmly.
Phineas and Ferb were five years old, and they were the ones who chose him. Sometimes their parents needed to remind them to be gentle with Perry because they got so excited, but once they did, the boys always knew the right spot to pet him. They tried to sneak him food when their parents weren’t looking. They pleaded with their parents to let Perry sleep with them in their room.
The excuse, at first, was that Perry was not potty trained yet. In reality, he was just a little weary. He’d heard so much about bad host families, and he didn’t want to get too attached. After all, if they found out his secret, he’d have to be relocated.
Candace…was somewhat intimidating. She was ten, whiny and didn’t seem to like Perry very much. He supposed that might change when she got older, but for now, he would keep his distance. He didn’t like making her upset. He didn’t like making anyone upset.
Linda was kind. She always spoke in a calm tone, coaxed him to eat even when it was new and scary, and gave him warm baths. Lawrence read as much as he could about platypuses, and made sure to set up some water for him to soak in every couple of days.
It was a nice family. Perry liked them. But he knew he couldn’t get too comfortable. What if they turned on him? What if they found out the truth?
A week after being adopted, on a clear summer day, the family took a trip to the park to get some fresh air. Candace played with Stacy on the swing set. Phineas and Ferb sat in the sandbox together, and Linda and Lawrence sat on a bench, tanning and reading respectively. Perry was surveying the area, making sure there wasn’t any sort of evil lurking around. He may not have had any assignment yet, but he could never be too careful.
A shadow fell over him. Out of the corner of his eye he noticed a big kid standing there, probably a little older than Phineas and Ferb. “What’s this? A beaver? Never seen one this color.” The boy knelt down, poking Perry. His teeth chattered. The boy laughed. “What, you don’t like that? I’m just havin’ a little fun.” He continued poking him. Perry huffed a sigh. It could be worse.
“Hey! Leave him alone!” For a moment, Perry’s distant eyes focused. He stared, behind the boy, looking at Phineas, who stood with his arms crossed, and Ferb, who was glaring.
The boy glanced over his shoulder, then stood up, already towering over the other two. “And what if I don’t?”
“He’s doesn’t like when you touch him like that, Buford,” Phineas continued. “You can pet him, if you want to. He likes being rubbed on the top of his head.”
“You’re tellin’ me this beaver is your pet?” Buford asked, then burst into laughter. “That’s so weird!”
Perry could feel their eyes on him now. He wanted so badly for the boys to just drop it, to just go back to the sandbox so this would all be over. If things were different, Perry could easily defend himself. But Phineas and Ferb didn’t laugh along. Instead, Ferb nodded.
“Yeah, he’s our pet!” Phineas confirmed, with confidence that not many five year olds would have standing up to someone much bigger than them. “And he’s not a beaver. He’s a platypus, and his name is Perry. He’s the best pet in the whole world.”
Perry froze. The best?
“Makes sense that you nerds would choose a weird pet,” Buford continued, as if he hadn’t heard Phineas at all. “How can he be the best pet if he doesn’t do anything?”
Phineas stumbled over his words for a moment until Ferb, speaking for one of the first times since Perry got adopted, said, “He doesn’t have to do anything. We still love him, because he’s part of our family.”
“Well said, Ferb.”
Blinking his suddenly burning eyes, Perry chanced a glance upward, chattering his teeth again. Buford moved quickly, picking Perry up, met with a chorus of protest from the boys. He squirmed, but Buford’s arms were strong. “Ugh, your mushy stuff makes me sick. How ‘bout I go drop this beaver into the pond?”
“He’s semi-aquatic, Buford. He can swim. And, um, so can beavers, for that matter.”
Be mindless. Be a mindless pet. You can’t defend yourself, or -
“Fine. How about the sewers?” the bully asked, grinning as the boys’ faces drained of color. They were no doubt thinking Perry would get too lost. Of course, they had no idea that it wouldn’t be a problem for him to get back home. But he didn’t want to worry them anymore. They were just boys.
They were his boys.
Perry grounded himself, and bit down on Buford’s hand - as light as he could. In shock, the boy dropped him and Perry hurried over to the boys as quickly as he could. Ferb scooped him up. As Buford glared at them both. “You’ll pay for that. Someday.” Then he rushed out of there, presumably to cry.
Two gentle hands caressed his back, with one arm supporting his weight. “You know, boy, you really shouldn’t bite,” Phineas said, but he didn’t seem very angry. Perry chattered his teeth.
“He was only defending himself,” Ferb added softly.
“I know. I’m just glad he’s okay.”
For the first time, Perry let himself relax in Ferb’s arms. He had been afraid of getting too attached, of being betrayed, but now, he knew this was where he belonged.
And after they left the park, after the boys told their family about their adventure, after everyone had had dinner and gone to bed, Perry lay alone in his own bed. The house was silent, and when he stood up, he made sure to keep his footsteps as quiet as possible. The door to the boys’ room was always left just slightly open, due to Ferb’s aversion to complete darkness. (Perry had learned about this a few days ago, when the nightlight had burnt out and he and Phineas searched every drawer in the kitchen for a bulb, giggling as they went.)
The room, glowing with soft, muted light, was filled with quiet, even breathing. Perry hesitated for a moment. Would he be welcome?
“He’s part of our family.”
Quietly, he moved forward, swiftly hopping up onto Phineas’s bed. He was going to curl up on the end of it, but he accidentally stepped on one of Phineas’s feet. The boy stirred slowly, blinking bleary eyes until they focused onto Perry. He smiled. “Hey, boy,” he whispered, holding an arm out. “Did you get lonely out there? I understand. I sure would be lonely without Ferb. You can sleep with me.”
Perry hesitated once again, before slowly moving forward, laying down beside Phineas, whose arm came around him protectively. Warmth spread inside his chest. Once again, it felt like home.
“Good night, Perry,” Phineas whispered, closing his eyes. Perry couldn’t help but watch him for a few moments, then let out a quiet yawn, closing his eyes. He swore, then and there, that he would always be here for these boys. For this family.
It was all he had, but he wouldn’t trade it for the world.
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