"But Brock," Hank said, "I don't wanna stay on the plane. We wanna meet the witch doctor, don't we, Dean?"
Dean nodded. "We never get to meet the witch doctor."
"For the last time," Dad said, tossing another suitcase to H.E.L.P.eR, "he's a shaman. And I have very important business to discuss with him about those drug patents, so be good boys and stay on the--"
A sharp green light flashed, and Dean's head throbbed. He felt like he was about to pass out again. Gosh darnit, he hated when that happened. Hank always gave him wedgies while he was unconscious.
"...up! Come on, sweetie, open your eyes. God, Twenty-two, make yourself useful and go get those smelling salts! Come on, baby, open those eyes for me..."
Someone was patting his face, and talking. Brock? But it didn't sound like Brock, more like Brock's old army buddy Butch, from New Jersey, the one who'd been practicing Greek wrestling with Brock in the garage that time. He'd asked Brock if he could learn, too, and Brock had got that funny look he got sometimes and said Dean wasn't old enough.
Dean had paid close attention to wrestling the next time the Olympics was on TV, but it wasn't the same. Probably Brock knew a special secret agent kind. He wondered if maybe Butch was visiting again. He opened his eyes, and froze.
Not Butch! He'd know that pink pillbox hat anywhere-- it was Dr. Girlfriend, the Monarch's second-in-command, his chief henchma-- henchwo-- henchperson! Somehow he must have gotten kidnapped. Again. He hoped the Monarch had put cable in the holding cells.
Dr. Girlfriend was helping him up. "I was so worried," she was saying. "You just fell over, right into your pudding cup. Did it at least work?"
Dean blinked. "Did what work?"
She groaned. "Not again," she said. "Fantastic. Fourteen!"
One of the Monarch's henchmen hurried over. "Yes?"
"The telepathy ray gave him amnesia again! I thought you said you fixed that in the beta-testing."
"I did," said the henchman. "There must have been some kind of previously overlooked variable." He peered at Dean. "What did you have for breakfast?"
"He doesn't remember," snapped Dr. Girlfriend. She put an arm around Dean's shoulders. He could feel her all down his side. She was very. Smooshy. "Come on, honey, why don't you take a nice nap," she said. "Maybe your memories will come back after some rest."
The door closed behind Dr. Girlfriend, and Dean waited in bed until he was sure she wasn't coming back.
The Monarch's bed.
Apparently, judging from the lacy bra she'd tossed into the corner before tucking him in, Dr. Girlfriend's bed too.
The sheets were satin. Jeepers.
Right, Dean. Keep your mind on the important things. Like the fact that you're in the middle of the Monarch's evil lair, where his evil henchmen all seem to think you're their boss. And his girlfriend-- his evil girlfriend-- keeps trying to comfort you.
He had an awful suspicion he knew what had happened. He pulled his head out from under the covers and opened his eyes. Staring down at him from the mirror on the ceiling was the Monarch.
Yup. Just as he'd suspected. They'd been body-swapped. Dean sighed. Sometimes he wished Dad had been something normal instead of a super scientist. Like Triana's dad. Necromancy seemed to pay all right, and Triana had never mentioned being kidnapped, or brainwashed, or body-swapped with Dr. O's arch-enemy. Did necromancers even have arch-enemies? Or were their enemies all dead? Anyway, that was beside the point. Which was that he was stuck here and the Monarch was at home, spying on Dad and learning Venture secrets and probably getting to meet the witch doctor. At least, Dean thought, he hid his diary in a secret place. He didn't think the Monarch would have any scruples about reading another guy's diary. He was evil that way.
He stared up into the mirror glumly. The Monarch was so weird looking. Why were his eyebrows so long? It wasn't like he was an actual mutant. He probably got hair implants or something. Plus, he wore a butterfly suit, which was totally lame. He was lucky Dr. Girlfriend had taken off the wings and crown before she tucked him in.
The door opened. "Sweetie?" Dr. Girlfriend came in and perched on the edge of the bed. Dean was suddenly very happy he was under the covers. "Are you feeling any better?"
"I'm fine, really," Dean said. He really needed not to be lying in bed anymore. "I just don't, well. You know. Remember."
"You're so brave," Dr. Girlfriend said. Her hand slipped under the blankets.
Dean squeaked. "No! I mean, um. That tickles. And I. I think I need to eat something now."
She looked a little disappointed, but stood up. "I was going to have supper soon anyway," she said. "Come on, then."
Dean struggled into the Monarch's boots and trailed after her. She sure was grabby. He would have to be very careful not to let his guard down. After all, what would Triana say if she found out he'd let himself be... well. Like that? By an evil arch-villain's girlfriend? He didn't think she'd be happy at all.
He followed Dr. Girlfriend to the kitchen, trying very hard not to notice the wiggly way she walked.
When Dr. Girlfriend followed him to bed that night, Dean thought that she was going to tuck him in again. Then she started to unbutton her jacket.
"What are you doing?" he gasped. She gave him a funny look.
"I'm changing my clothes." She reached over and pulled off his cowl, feeling all over his head. Dean gulped and looked down, right into her unbuttoned top. The Monarch's suit was suddenly very hot. He shut his eyes. He wasn't going to betray Triana with some kind of... of... cheap floozy!
He immediately felt kind of bad about thinking that about Dr. Girlfriend. After all, she didn't KNOW he wasn't the Monarch. It wasn't cheating to her.
"Are you sure you didn't hit your head when you fell?" she was demanding.
"You poor man," she said, laying him back against the pillows. Dean really wished she would button back up. Really. It was very distracting having to not look at- well. Very distracting.
Dean tried to look brave and yet pathetic and completely not up to anything involving unbuttoning.
"You probably shouldn't be jostled right now," she said. "I'll just go sleep in the guest quarters tonight but I'll send one of the henchmen who works graveyard in to check on you, all right?"
Dean nodded. Good. Henchmen were good.
"And then tomorrow we can work on fixing the telepathy ray and putting you right again." She leaned forward, and before Dean knew what was happening she was kissing him, and it wasn't like when you practice on the back of your hand or even on a robot, because hands and robots weren't wet and didn't have tongues and. Oh. She...
Triana! he told himself firmly. And then Dr. Girlfriend had pulled away and was turning out the lights.
It was really lucky, Dean thought, that the Monarch's evil plans always seemed to mess up, because it would have been much harder to pretend to be him if he couldn't just blame everything he did wrong on his "amnesia." He didn't even have to do anything evil, much, because Dr. Girlfriend kept telling him he needed a vacation, because obviously the stress of villaining was bad for him. He spent a lot of time playing video games with the henchmen, and even made an appointment for the cable installer to come run lines to the holding cells. Really, it had been a nice couple of days. Dr. Girlfriend had even kissed him a few more times. Not that he wanted her to, of course, because his heart belonged to Triana. But still. Hank was a dirty rotten liar, it was nothing like dog drool. Anyway, Dr. Girlfriend was mostly pretty busy these days working with Fourteen on the telepathy ray. They had this theory about variables that he really hadn't paid much attention to, because he'd been trying not to see down Dr. Girlfriend's blouse while she was telling him about it.
That night, when he went to bed, she was there waiting for him. In a robe.
This didn't look good. He tried to look like he had a headache.
"Good news!" she said. "We've figured out what caused the problem."
"Oh," Dean said. "Good."
"The secret's all in your body chemistry," she explained, coming over and unpinning his crown.
"See, all the chemicals in your brain have to be in the same concentrations or the telepathy ray won't work," she said. "And of course there was one major difference in your daily routine the day before your accident that had your brain chemicals all messed up."
Dean looked blank. "There was?"
Dr. Girlfriend picked up his hand and started to take off his gauntlet. "Well, we weren't together that day, remember? There was no chance for us to..." she stroked one hand down his chest, to his stomach and- JEEPERS!
Dean's wings flared, and one of the missiles in his gauntlet shot into the wall. Dr. Girlfriend made a little noise, low in her throat. Which, given the throat, was pretty freaking low. "Now that's what I like to see," she said, peeling off the gauntlets and dropping them on the floor. She pulled the sash of her robe and dropped it, and she was wearing this... nightgown. Although Dean wasn't sure that it really counted as a nightgown. He thought probably nightgowns had to be bigger. It was getting hard to breathe, and he didn't have his inhaler. But shouldn't the Monarch's body not NEED his inhaler?
Dr. Girlfriend stood very close, brushing up against him, soft and warm and good-smelling.
"I--" he said.
"I know you're a little shy, with the amnesia and all," she said. "But don't worry. I'll help you through." She started pulling down the zipper of his bodysuit. Slowly.
Triana! Dean thought. But, from what Dr. Girlfriend had said, he had to do this to get back to normal. Back home. And it really didn't count, did it, if he was using the Monarch's body? Really, as far as he knew, he might BE the Monarch, and the telepathy ray had made him think he was Dean Venture. In which case it was his DUTY to do this. For Science.
Dr. Girlfriend pushed him until he sat on the bed, and stood between his legs.
"I-- I don't remember how--"
She smiled at him, and did something very very very good with her hand. "Don't worry, baby. I'll show you how."
It was for Science. Dean nodded, and closed his eyes.
Dean slept late the next morning. Dr. Girlfriend had left a breakfast tray on the nightstand, with a little note telling him to come to the throne room when he was ready to try the telepathy ray again, and signed with X's and O's.
He couldn't wait for the next time Hank stole some wine coolers out of the mini-fridge in Dad's lab and made him play drinking games.
The breakfast was really good. He pulled on the Monarch's suit, which was actually pretty comfortable once you got used to it, and made his way into the throne room.
"Good morning!" Dr. Girlfriend said happily. "Are you ready to plumb the depths of your enemy's fragile mind? To read the deepest secrets of your arch-nemesis?"
"I can't believe you've fixed the machine so soon," Dean said, making his wary way to the circle where he was supposed to stand and looking anxiously at the viewscreen that showed his front yard.
"It wasn't that hard to do once we figured out what the variable was," she said. "Any scientist could have done it."
"I think you're wrong," he said. "Not just any scientist. It took a special scientist. It took you. You're amazing," he paused. "I can't imagine what you ever saw in hi-- me. What you ever saw in me."
Dr. Girlfriend wrapped her arms around him. "Oh, sweetie, can't you tell? You've always had a heart of gold."
"I have?" Dean was finding that hard to believe.
"Oh, definitely." She gave him a little squeeze, all soft and curvy and. Not Triana. It was important to remember that.
She looked up at him with shining eyes. "So are you ready to try it again?"
It was time to go home. Who knew what damage the Monarch was doing in his body? He had to put a stop to it.
"I'm ready," he said, and she slid away from him reluctantly.
Maybe it wouldn't work, anyway.
"Energize," he said. He'd always wanted to say that.
"So!" the Monarch said, rubbing his hands together gleefully. "We meet again, Dean Venture!"
Dean sighed. He kept forgetting he wasn't supposed to know anything about the Monarch's lair, and having to stop himself at the last minute from chatting with the henchmen. "Yeah," he said. Dr. Girlfriend didn't seem to be around, which was just as well. Because he was definitely taken. By someone else. Yup, no interest whatsoever in straying from the straight and narrow path of fidelity.
"My dad and Brock will find me," he said, without much enthusiasm. "And Brock will kick all of your butts." He hoped Fourteen was off today. He liked Fourteen.
The Monarch leaned close. "That's it, kid, keep up the act," he hissed. "Pretend I'm making horrific threats."
"Oh, you fiend." Was that a pink hat over in the corner?
"Now listen," the Monarch said. "I want you to-- arrgh! I can't believe I'm doing this!-- you've got to tell me... what did you do to-- I mean, with-- I mean, whatever it was, Dr. Girlfriend liked it, and... Look. Tell me what you did that has her all sighing and wistful-eyed and I'll tell you what I did with your diary."
Dean froze. "With my--"
"If you don't deactivate the system within three days it dumps a complete scan to your little girlfriend's email account," the Monarch hissed. "And I do mean complete."
"Those pictures were for science!"
"Just tell me what I want to know, you little pipsqueak!"
Dean took a deep breath. Well. OK then. He leaned forward and started whispering in the Monarch's ear.