This hadn't been part of the plan. But that was normal, wasn't it? There was always a mistake, always a flaw, always something in the way of his dreams of world conquest! From the neglect of a hypnotic ingredient in some sort of recipe to a minor error in calculations, there was always something.

But this. This, The Brain had never before experienced. This was an overwhelming fear, an absolute horror that was as inescapable as the situation which caused the emotion. "Pinky! Pinky, do not release me under any circumstances! Do you understand?"

"I-I think so, Brain!" As the fingers around his tightened, Brain chanced a backward glance. His tail was still wrapped tightly around a thin tree root. His chest was pained, drawing breaths a more strenuous activity with each inhalation. He was gasping now, fear choking him. He looked back at the mouse he was clinging too, and felt his tail tighten its hold almost of its own accord. He couldn't let go, couldn't lose his dearest friend.

Yes, they'd survived falls before with minimal injury - Brain heartily thanked the gene splicer for their incredible recuperative abilities as their plans often led to them getting blown up, crushed, run over, boiled. But this was a fall Brain knew Pinky wouldn't survive. Even with his insurmountable supply of plan dumb luck, there was no surviving this. There was only fire down below, an angry shade Brain had come across only in nightmares. And it would kill Pinky.

"Don't let go!" Pinky wailed and his feet kicked, desperate for contact with some sort of hard surface.

"Never, Pinky!" There was a creak and a snap and Brain let out a gasping cry of pain. When he looked back next one of the breaks of his tail had gone straight.

Pinky went limp, staring up at Brain with wide blue eyes. "Brain...? Brain, are you hurt?"

"I'm fine," he snapped, tail burning. Don't fail me now... "Pinky, I'm... I'll never let you go. No matter what. Try and climb up, Pinky. Do you think you can do that?"

"I can! I can do it, Brain!" One of his hands released his grip on Brain, both mice whimpering slightly as he lifted his shaking hand and placed it higher on Brain's arm. He gripped tightly and Brain bit his lip, trying to ignore his own pains as Pinky began his slow climb. The flames seemed to be leaping higher, snapping at the mouse's heels. There was another creak, another snap, and another of the bends in Brain's tail had straightened.

He couldn't bite back the cry and Pinky stilled, eyes filling with concern. "No, Brain, I can't. You're hurt."

"I'll be fine!" Fresh fear filled him, shot down his spine like a lightning bolt. He grasped Pinky's arms as Pinky grasped his. "Do not let me go, Pinky! You promised me you wouldn't let go!"

Pinky gazed at him for a long moment. "No, I didn't. I said I wouldn't, but I never promised."

"Pinky, please-"

"Good luck taking over the world, Brain." Tears filled his eyes. "Narf..."

"Don't-" But it was too late. Pinky had released him and The Brain simply wasn't strong enough to hold him alone. "Pinkyyyyyyyy!" he shouted as the mouse fell and fell, disappearing into the flames. And Brain was left alone, hanging onto a cliff by his broken tail, and staring into the flames that had just swallowed his dearest friend.

As he hung, there was suddenly a wrench in his chest and he gasped when his heart tore from its cavity and went after Pinky. Clutching his oddly bloodless chest, the mouse managed to get back to solid ground and crawl further from the edge and from the flames. Before him lay a small keychain with the world dangling at the end.

Brain started to reach for it, curled his fingers around the globe as well as he could. Tears welled in his eyes because it opened in his hand and it was hollow. "Pinky," he whispered and the keychain fell to the ground. "Pinky, don't leave me!" he shouted and leapt to his feet, running right over the edge of the cliff and into the flames.

-8-8-

He awoke abruptly, experiencing a sharp pain in his throat as he did. There was someone shouting - screaming - but it was so raspy that... It was him...!

Brain closed his mouth, slumped against what wasn't his bed. He looked around wildly, eyes wide and frightened, and realized that he was lying on a stretcher with sensors attached to various points of his body. Cranium, heart, lungs, stomach, spots on his legs and arms...

"He's awakened, sir." The young feminine voice made him shiver. The lab had begun to accept... college interns. It was nauseating, all the different faces disrupting the routine Brain had become accustomed to. The students were vastly interested in him and Pinky, several of them having observed their odd penchant for walking on two legs, Pinky's obsession with television, and Brain's preoccupation with books.

"So I see, but we'll let the subject get its bearings before we transport it back to its cage." That voice was more familiar, one of the regular scientists in the lab. "While he does, feel free to share some of your observations."

"Well, he fell asleep very quickly once you introduced the serum. Um, 4.6 seconds to be exact. He seemed to sleep peacefully - no sounds or any excessive movement - for exactly four minutes before he began to react." There was a small shuffle of pages. "Full-body trembling that evolved into thrashing within thirty seconds. With the thrashing came the sounds. Outcries of what we can assume was pain and fear and, two minutes before he awakened, there were only screams. He sounded..."

"Yes?" the scientist prompted.

"He sounded almost human, sir." Brain hardly paid attention as the small hands of the assistant encased him, deftly removing the sensors, and lifting him from the small stretcher. "It's inconclusive as to whether or not your serum awakened his greatest fear, but you absolutely induced a nightmare in the poor little thing."

"The subject," the man corrected. "They're mice, my dear, not people. Think of them as subjects, objects upon which we experiment, and nothing more."

"Yes, sir." But the scientist turned his back and the young woman lifted Brain to her cheek. She had several pet mice at home and it had sickened her to watch the poor, big-headed thing thrashing and screaming until his tiny throat was raw. "I'm so sorry, little guy," she whispered. "Here you go. Back home with your little friend. He looks so worried, doesn't he?"

What she hadn't included in her official observations were the reactions of the mouse in the cage this mouse had been drawn from. First, he hadn't liked when the big-headed thing had been taken away, but he'd settled in his wheel and had seemed to forget about him.

But when the outcries had started and then the screaming, the rather gawky mouse had run along the bars, shouting "Narf!" repetitively. The scientist had, when she'd asked, simply waved a hand and told him these two mice were part of a failed genetic splicing experiment. The tall one, for whatever reason, could make the inane exclamation and do no more. The small one was just bad-tempered, had been selected for this particular experiment in the hopes of shocking him into better behavioral patterns.

The assistant gave the little mouse a gentle stroke before opening the door of his cage and depositing him within. The gawky mouse ran over immediately, grabbing the smaller one and carrying him to a little matchbox bed that they shared. It was cute, she thought, that the two were so close. Particularly since they were two males. She couldn't have two boys living together; they'd fight constantly if she did.

And she would've been happy to continue to watch the two mice, but she was called over to leave the room. That had been the last experiment of the night and she had a pregnant mouse at home to tend to!

When the lights were flipped off and the caged creatures left to their own devices for the night, there was a squeaky sound of a cage-door opening, and a quiet "Poit" as the gawky mouse scrambled from the unlocked cage - oh, and wasn't it lucky that the girl had left it open? He ran over to a light on their table, flicking it on to see better. He hopped over the remote in his haste to return to the cage and completely forgot about switching on the television as he usually did after the people in their long white coats left.

He ran back in, filling a thimble with water from their bottle before taking it to the still-trembling Brain. He sat down beside the mouse, eyes wide, and helped him take several swallows. "D'you want some hot tea, Brain?" he offered, voice uncharacteristically quiet.

The mouse looked up, mind swirling. His worst fear. From what the young assistant had said, they'd been trying to expose him to it. He hadn't the slightest clue as to why, though he could've easily gone to one of the computers to look up the experiments as he often did at night. But at that moment, he simply didn't want to. He didn't want to go anywhere at all and while hot tea would've been lovely, he didn't want Pinky to leave. "No, Pinky, the water is fine." Even to his own ears, his voice sounded scratchy and worn. The taller mouse shifted imperceptibly closer, his companion silently grateful for it.

Never before had The Brain had such a vivid dream. Flashes, perhaps. Vignettes. But never something so... He glanced back at his tail, studied its familiar jagged form, and tried to ignore the fact that it still hurt. To distract himself, he took another sip of water.

"Pinky," he began and cleared his throat to rid himself of some of the raspiness. "Pinky, there's no reason for you to worry. I'm perfectly alright."

Pinky was quiet long enough that Brain began to wonder if his friend had even understood what he'd said. He sighed and started to repeat himself, but arms enveloped him and tucked him close. "I was so scared, Brain! Narf! I couldn't see where you were, but you were making all these sounds... Egad, Brain! I thought... I thought..."

Pinky had been driven to thoughts. Just how badly had he been screaming?

"Ey!" A familiar voice snapped. Both Pinky and Brain looked to the side of their cage and Brain was mortified to discover half the lab watching them. He leaned away from Pinky and tried to speak, but ended up coughing harshly.

Pinky dragged him close again, but lifted a hand and waved. "Hiii!" he greeted.

"Look 'ere, what'd they do to 'im?" one of the mice demanded.

"Um... Brain?" Pinky looked down. "What'd they do?"

"Exposed me to my worst fear, Pinky. In a terrifying, realistic dreamscape."

"Right." Pinky nodded once, as if he understood perfectly. But Brain could see after just a few short seconds how blank his expression truly was.

So, shaking his head, Brain got to his feet and carried his water to one of the computers. Pinky scrambled after him, the others following. After passing the thimble to Pinky, Brain leapt from key to key until he had the serum pulled up. "This," he announced, "is what they did. Now, all of you, leave me be."

With that raspy request, Brain jumped back off of the keyboard and strode away to get back to his cage. He stopped partway there, though, when he noticed that Pinky wasn't with him. Hating the fission of fear that came with that realization, he turned and went back to the mouse, grabbing his hand. "Come along, Pinky."

"But, Brain, you said everyone had to leave you all alone!"

Brain glared up at him, dragging Pinky away. "That doesn't include you, Pinky. You're... That is, you belong by my side. Always. Do you understand?"

"Um... I think so, Brain, but won't that make your plan-making difficult? You like to be on your own when you do that."

Brain sighed, releasing Pinky's hand to rub at a forming headache. "No, Pinky, I didn't mean literally. I meant... Never mind." That dream had caused more damage to his mind than he'd assumed, if he was getting so clingy and emotional towards Pinky.

"Here's your water, Brain."

"Thank you." He took the proffered thimble and glanced down into it. "It's empty."

"I got a little thirsty," Pinky admitted and Brain shook his head, going to the water bottle to fill it up again.

"Luckily, tonight's plan won't require too much talking on my part."

"But Brain..."

He turned back, taking a sip from the thimble. "What is it?"

"The plan. Wuh- Are you sure you want to try and take over the world tonight?"

Brain looked down into the water, swirled it carefully. "It was only a dream, Pinky. It's already fading from memory." Which was an absolute lie, but he didn't want to admit it to the other mouse.

"Alright, Brain, but how are you going to tell me the plan without talking?"

He sighed quietly. His throat was simply raw; he wasn't losing his voice. But he didn't feel like being condescending when Pinky was obviously just worried about him. There was also the prickling sense of vulnerability, keeping him from saying anything that may drive Pinky away from him. "Come along, old friend."

The endearment, such as it was, slipped from him easily. Calling him friend was easy; it was obvious. They'd been through entirely too much together for them to anything less. Brain paused suddenly, looking back at Pinky. The mouse instantly looked even more concerned, coming closer and taking a hold of Brain's arm. "Don't go, Brain. Not tonight."

Brain's first and usual instinct was to pull away and go on as scheduled, but... Emotions warred in him, slowing him down, making him take time to consider. With Pinky so worried, would he truly be an assent for tonight's plan? And, well, even though this plan didn't require much conversation, he knew very well that he often had to repeat his instructions to Pinky several times over.

Additionally, if the ploy worked, Brain needed to be able to deliver one of several pre-prepared speeches. The likelihood of him having to shout at Pinky exponentially increased his chances of being unable to deliver one of said speeches.

"Brain?" Pinky said, interrupting his thoughts as he often had a tendency to do. He nudged the smaller mouse with a gentle poke. "Are you pondering, Brain?"

Brain rubbed his head where the other mouse had poked, sighing quietly and giving in. "I could use that hot tea now."

There was a moment of silence. "Use it for what?"

He bopped him on the head lightly enough that it was hardly forceful enough to be considered a bop. "To drink, Pinky."

Pinky rubbed his head, a little confused by the half-hearted strike. "So we're not taking over the world?"

"Not tonight."

Pinky's eyes lit up. "Oh, goody! A whole night to do all sorts of fun-fun silly-willy things, Brain! Oh, how exciting!"

"Yes. My micro-electrodes are tingling with delight."

Though, as usual, his sarcasm was entirely lost on Pinky, who danced away to make tea for his friend. Brain only sighed and went to the matchbox bed they shared. He sank onto the edge, watching the other mice as they quickly migrated back to their cages. He supposed he should go over to the computer himself, look over the serum they'd exposed him to.

Like before, though, he just couldn't bring himself to do it. With Pinky out of sight, he was already uncomfortable. At least the cage was familiar and Pinky's scent hung in the air. Brain took another sip of water, trying to think of his dream in clinical terms. The meaning of it had been extremely obvious.

He feared losing Pinky. Taking over the world without him would be hollow and then... He shuddered, getting to his feet to go after his friend. He so feared losing Pinky, could still see the fire engulfing him, taking him away. It was a distasteful thing, realizing that one's greatest fear was something oft wished for.

Which was horrible in and of itself, Brain acknowledged, leaping from the counter to the floor without managing to spill his thimble. But, really, he had never once wished for Pinky's death. Temporary departure, temporary replacement. Never something as permanent as death. No one had ever stayed with him as long as Pinky. Why, even the few times Brain had given Pinky a brilliant intellect he'd wanted to stay by his side.

He pushed open the door to the little kitchen area and Pinky waved enthusiastically at him, though they'd been separate for mere minutes. "Brain! There's hot chocolate! Can you believe it?"

It was a rare enough occurrence that Pinky's enthusiasm wasn't entirely misplaced, so Brain made his way up to join him at the coffee pot. "Astounding, Pinky."

"Will you make me some, Brain? Puh-leeease?" He grasped Brain's arm, eyes big and wide. "Please, Brain? Will you? Please! Don't make me beg, Brain! Please!"

He was wailing now, but Brain only finished off his water while Pinky's begging grew increasingly louder and then slammed the thimble onto his head, cutting off the whiny tirade. It was baffling, honestly, that the mouse could make excellent tea with ease, but couldn't figure out simple powdered hot chocolate.

Then again, what about Pinky wasn't baffling?

He watched Pinky totter about, the thimble over his head, muffling his giggling, and felt his lips twitch. Perhaps it was Pinky's pure enjoyment of the punishment Brain's frustrations tended to demand was what drew him to Pinky. He knew very well that no one else would enjoy it so much, just as he knew he'd never do so in a way that would actually hurt his companion.

But all the analyzing, and possible over-analyzing, of the subject was giving him a headache, so he decided to derail the train of thought for a bit. "Yes, Pinky, I'll make you hot chocolate."

Pinky pried the thimble off of his head, his cranium retaining the shape for a moment. "Goody!" he cried and his head popped back to normal with enough force that he toppled over. "Zort! That was fun, Brain! Are you almost feeling all better again?"

He cleared his throat, already regretting the lack of water. "Yes."

"Oh, good." He laughed, throwing in a narf. "I was worried there for a minute what with all the shaking and the screaming and the-"

"Enough, Pinky, please!" Though the emphasis fell a little flat as he started to cough. Pinky pulled him close immediately, rubbing his head as if that would be of any assistance. Brain's ears twitched, lowered, and the headache that had bloomed dissipated even while the coughs continued for a few more seconds. ...Odd. "Thank you, Pinky... That should be enough heated water in the pot now."

"Oh! Right." Pinky scampered off and Brain's ears twitched back to their normal position. Useless in one situation, excellent completely by accident in another... Why? he wondered. Why was Pinky such an... anomaly? Moreover, why did The Brain tolerate his company so consistently?

Again, the ponderings were on a subject he had no wish to ponder over, so the thoughts were banished and he moved closer to help his friend avoid burning himself. "Pinky! Be careful with that; it's hot!" The wail he let out when it was his own body that was introduced to the boiling liquid sent him into a coughing fit that lasted until his tea was good and strong.

Pinky was lucky that Brain was still nice enough to make him hot chocolate.


This'll end up only being 3-4 chapters, sooo yeah XD It's kinda short, will probably be entirely too fluffy to suit Brain. As with all the things I write, he would not approve XD

Thanks to cutcrescentheart of DeaviantART for offering supprt~ You're freaking awesome :D