In Sickness and In Schemes
"I think there's something wrong with the mouse."
A pair of Acme lab scientists loomed over the cage housing Pinky and the Brain. The short mouse with the enlarged frontal lobe ignored them, attempting to catch up on some sleep before they sent him through another maze for their own amusement. He purposely failed them, what good would running around a maze in search of cheese do for him? He had more pertinent things to think about, such as his plans for world domination. A sharp pain in his tail alerted Brain to the antics of his cage mate, the mouse the scientists were concerned about, and quite frankly, the lack of sense concerned Brain as well. Pinky was running around in circles, singing to himself as he accidentally stepped on Brain's crooked tail again.
"Pinky! Stop it, I'm trying to sleep!" He hissed, tucking his tail protectively beneath him.
"Narf! Sorry, Brain!" Even with this apology, Pinky didn't stop prancing around. "I can't help it! I just have this urge to run around silly willy!"
Brain rolled his eyes. It wasn't a new thing, Pinky often ran around in circles for no apparent reason. He assumed it was to relieve himself of excess energy that he couldn't rid himself of in the day when they were required to stay in their cage. The scientists usually ignored it, but they must have been terribly bored on this particular day, for they were intrigued by Pinky's behavior.
"Think he's having a fit?" The scientist with glasses asked of his colleague. "He does this every day. Ever since the gene splicer."
The female scientist tapped her chin. "It's possible. He could have too much adrenaline."
"Could this be the first signs of epilepsy?" Glasses inquired, shifting his spectacles on his nose.
She hummed thoughtfully. "It's hard to tell. He's not seizing. It could just be hyperactivity, though I don't know how long this behavior has been going on for."
Too long. Brain thought wearily.
The pair watched Pinky scamper about until the little mouse had absolutely no energy left. He collapsed on the cage floor, panting heavily with a few giggles punctuating them. The hutch opened and the female scientist gripped Pinky by the tail. He started, but had no time to react before he was airborne and ensnared within human hands.
"Let's run some tests on him. Take a look at his brain activity." Glasses suggested.
Good luck with that. Brain mused to himself, watching his companion get carried away. As lab mice, they were often whisked away for tests and observation, so it was not alarming that Pinky got to leave the cage for a bit. In fact, the Brain was quite pleased since this meant he'd get a more satisfying nap.
When Brain awoke the lab was dark. He blinked, startled that he'd actually slept the day away. "Though I suppose this is a blessing, after all, these nocturnal habits have certainly taken their toll on my ability to think clearly." He decided, shuffling over to the cage door.
The clock on the VCR read 6:37 PM. Perfect, the lab closed at 5:00, so he could now get to work on his plans for the night. Taking his twisted tail in paw, he unlocked the cage door and swung out.
"Come, Pinky. We must prepare for tonight. My nap has put us behind schedule, but no matter. I can easily make up the time, but we must work quickly." Brain padded over to where the sheets of paper and writing instruments were kept, grabbing his stubby pencil on the way. The lack of response gave the short mouse cause for stopping, however, and he looked over his shoulder back at the cage. "Pinky?"
On normal days, Brain didn't get to sleep for as long as he'd like to thanks to two factors: one being the scientists and two being Pinky and his inability to keep out of trouble for longer than two seconds. If the lab closed at 5:00, then that left Pinky with an hour and a half to bug Brain, but since Brain slept through this…
"Pinky! Answer me this instance! I don't have time for your foolishness tonight!" Brain hollered, folding his arms across his small, white furry chest and tapping his foot impatiently. "And why didn't you wake me up? We've wasted precious time! Pinky!"
Silence answered the Brain's demands.
The simple mouse was nowhere to be found. Brain wrung his paws together, trying to ignore the culmination of dread, concern, and uncertainty pooling in his belly. There was a logical explanation, yes, certainly. The scientists just forgot to bring Pinky back. It could happen. Or Pinky got lost. That was very reasonable.
Yet it still ate at him.
Never had the pair not been reunited at the end of the day, no matter how many experiments they had to undergo without the other. There had not been a single night thus far where they weren't together.
Brain glanced at his pencil and plans. He didn't need Pinky to fulfill the task at hand, of course not, he just didn't want to have to deal with the tears that would surely fall once Pinky realized he'd taken over the world without him. It was only right that Pinky got to share in the revelry as he was crowned ruler of the world, he certainly didn't want him to miss that.
So he'd take the night off. He and Pinky could take over the world tomorrow night.
The next day had almost come to its close before Pinky returned to the cage. He had a small bald patch on his thigh, raw and red from injections. Once free from the lab assistant's hand, he shot them an irritable look before darting over to Brain.
"Brain, oh Brain! It was awful! Just awful!" Pinky wailed, hiding behind the smaller mouse as best as he could.
Brain attempted to get a closer look at his friend's thigh, they normally weren't shaved for the kind of testing they were used for, but this proved to be difficult with the other mouse hanging onto him and moving whenever he moved. "Pinky, what did they do to you?"
"I'll tell you what they did! They didn't give me any food pellets!" He sobbed. "I haven't eaten since… umm… the last time I ate!"
"Brilliant deduction, my friend." Brain grabbed hold of Pinky's nose, keeping him from the circles he was spinning around Brain's head. "Hold still, why did they shave you?"
Pinky blinked. "They didn't shave me, Brain, I never had a beard."
"No, you ninny. Your leg, there's fur missing from your right leg."
The two mice glanced at the patch at the same time, then Pinky snorted out a laugh. "Oh, you're right! Narf! How'd that happen?"
Brain conked the taller mouse on the head. "Clearly no lasting damage has been inflicted upon you. Your fur will grow back in time. Now, come Pinky, we must prepare for tonight."
"Gee, Brain, what're we going to do tonight?" Pinky followed obediently as Brain led him to the blueprints he had hidden in the cage.
"The same thing we do every night, Pinky…" Brain grabbed his pencil as the scientists locked up for the night. "Try to take over the world!"
Midway through Brain's latest scheme of taking over the world via increasing levels of chlorine in the water supply, Pinky felt strangely woozy. His eyelids felt as heavy as anvils and his entire body ached as if he had been running on his wheel all day long. When he failed to throw the switch to add some sort of mind control serum to the water, Brain finally noticed the lack of vivacity in his friend.
"Pinky!" Brain hollered, hopping down from his mechanical wonder. "What is the meaning of this? I gave you simple instructions even a bean bag chair could follow! 'Throw the switch when I tell you to.' Can your feeble mind not even process that much?"
The shorter mouse stormed over to his companion, who yawned sleepily from his position on the edge of the city's main water line where they had set up shop. Brain grabbed hold of Pinky's nose and yanked him down to eye level. Pinky's vision swam, everything blurring together like a colorful kaleidoscope.
"Everything's spinning, Brain. Whirly twirly swirly… Narf!" Pinky singsonged.
Brain rolled his eyes. "The only thing spinning is the hamster wheel that is your brain." He released the other mouse and turned around to sulk. "Minus the hamster. Another night ruined. Come, Pin- Pinky?"
When Brain let go of his nose, Pinky swayed momentarily before falling flat on his face. Not unusual save for the lack of giggling. He attempted to get up, but the heaviness had moved from his eyes to his limbs. Even his tail was incapable of swishing back and forth.
"Brain, I don't feel so good…" Pinky garbled out, words sounded so funny to his ears and his tongue tasted like salt.
Eyeing his friend in what looked like concern (but would undoubtedly be denied by The Brain himself), he helped him to his feet and tried to steady him despite being significantly shorter. "You don't look so good either, Pinky. Come on, let's get back to the lab and get you to bed. This must be some sort of side effect from earlier. You just need to sleep it off."
"I am really sleepy, Brain…" Pinky rubbed his eyes as he allowed himself to be led by The Brain. "My feet feel like sand… I think the Sand Man missed my eyes. Poit."
After quite a while of stumbling about, and an aching tail on Brain's end, the pair of lab mice finally returned home. Brain got Pinky all settled in on his bed of cedar chips, then set about cleaning up his botched plans from the evening. From his corner of the cage, Pinky tried to fall asleep, but a burning and itching in his thigh kept him from it. He whimpered, tossing and turning to try and alleviate some discomfort.
"Pinky…" Brain sighed exasperatedly. "Just close your eyes and lie still."
"But Brain, I can't!" Pinky whined, pawing the floor of their cage in agitation. "My leg hurts!"
Setting down his supplies, Brain shuffled over to Pinky and inspected the shaved patch again. It was still an angry red with little blisters peppering the injection site. Brain frowned, leaving his cagemate's side to fetch a few shards of ice and a scrap of paper. He formed a makeshift ice pack and placed it on Pinky's thigh.
"This should reduce the inflammation." Brain informed him, allowing his free hand to pat Pinky's back reassuringly. "Feel any better?"
"A little." Pinky nodded, curled in on himself. "Brain? What's wrong with me?"
Brain swallowed thickly. "Like I said before, it's just a side effect of some sort of vaccination you must've received earlier today. You'll be fine in the morning."
"You're so smart, Brain. If I were that smart, then I'd never be scared of anything, just like you… narf…" Pinky mumbled, rubbing his head against Brain's hip. "Will you stay with me? Please?"
Regarding his sick friend while fighting back the lump of emotions blossoming in his chest, Brain set the ice pack down and curled up next to Pinky. "Well, alright, but just for tonight."
Pinky nodded, his tail wrapped around Brain who draped an arm over the other mouse. Both falling asleep to the lull of each other's heartbeats.
Brain woke to a startling heat source beside him. Pinky's fur was damp and his face flushed, his breath coming in quiet pants. Laying a paw against his forehead, Brain frowned as he deduced that Pinky had developed a fever sometime in the night. Guilt pricked at his insides - he'd told his friend that he'd be feeling better come morning, not worse.
Despite the overwhelming heat radiating from his body, Pinky shivered violently in his sleep. His legs and arms tucked under him in order to preserve warmth. Suddenly, his blue eyes snapped open wide, pupils the size of pin pricks.
"B-brain." His voice clipped and clogged. "I'm… My stomach...! It's all whirly twirly inside!" He clamped his mouth shut.
Brain raised an eyebrow, confused but concerned about the pallor of his friend. "What do you mean Pinky? What's wrong?"
"I think I'm gonna be sick…" Pinky managed to blubber out.
He struggled to stand, but the vertigo that ensued had him even sicker. Brain steadied him, then sat him down with orders to stay put. The large headed mouse darted out of their cage in search of a container of some kind. He grabbed a thimble, one that they often used to carry around liquids in and lined it with some cellophane left behind by one of the scientists. He got back to the cage just in time, shoving it into Pinky's arms just in time for him to lose his lunch.
Brain wrinkled his nose in disgust, trying to block out the smell, sound, and look of the vomit. He rubbed Pinky's back as he finished and took the proffered thimble of puke. Leaving only to throw out the disgusting mess, Brain returned to find Pinky sprawled out on the floor of their cage.
"I made a mess, Brain." Pinky whimpered, looking up at him with a half-lidded gaze. "Poit."
"Yes, but don't worry, it's all cleaned up now." Brain assured him, trying to move the larger mouse into a more comfortable position. "Feeling any better?"
Pinky nodded weakly, but withered under Brain's gaze and ended up shaking his head. "Narf… my nose hurts."
"Your nose?" Brain tilted his head in confusion.
"Mhmm. And my tail. And my ears. And my toes. And my fingernails. And my eyelashes." Pinky would've gone on, but Brain held up a paw.
"I get the picture, Pinky. Everything hurts." Brain rubbed his forehead.
"I'm really cold, Brain." Brain looped an arm around the cold mouse's shoulders and rubbed up and down to generate some heat. "Thank you."
Pinky's voice was quieter than normal. Brain found it to be disconcerting, but said nothing about it. His excitable friend would surely bounce right back from whatever this was. "You're welcome," he murmured.
A sneeze from behind him drew Brain out of his ponderings. He had been pouring over the American Journal of Veterinary Research for the past hour or so, trying to pinpoint some clue so he could properly diagnose his ailing associate. However, he'd come up with nothing other than recognizing these symptoms as being similar, if not identical, to those of the human flu.
As far as the AVMA was concerned, a mouse with the flu wasn't exactly high-brow research material worthy of being placed in their scientific journal. Not to mention Brain himself thought it to be somewhat unlikely that Pinky had been affected by a strain of the flu. The scientists never bothered testing their immunizations on them.
Unless it was a new version? Brain looked at Pinky, brows furrowed. No, it just didn't quite fit. "Pinky? Do you need more tissues?" He noted with some disgust that their cage was slowly becoming a home for wayward Kleenex. He supposed he should clean them out...
Pinky's sniffles could be heard all throughout the lab, his airways clogged and irritating. Too tired to be put off from his new tissue home, he simply sucked it a deep breath through his nose as his heavy-lidded gaze sought out Brain's location. "I think so, Brain... but I don't think I can put training wheels on a monkey..."
To him it made perfect sense. Though, he did wonder how the monkey got into their cage in the first place. His dull blue eyes slipped shut, it was much easier not to look at things, the throbbing in between his ears lessened and his stomach didn't churn so violently. Even though dehydration would soon prove to be an issue, so far his body was fighting off even the smallest sips of water. He had not tried in some time, the thought of crawling over to the water bottle gave him reason to groan, his limbs already protesting even though they had yet to endure much activity.
Brain considered it a great act of kindness to not point out the ludicrousness of that statement, let alone resisting the natural urge to bop him on the head. Besides, Pinky was undoubtedly suffering more than enough to make up for it. With a sigh at the discomfort that thought caused in his gut, Brain rose and tip-toed around the cage. He quickly gathered up tissues and shoved them into the waste-bin that lay just below the counter their cage rested on.
A check of the tissue box showed that he had enough for the time being, so the large-headed mouse made his way over to his friend to gently check his temperature again. Still too high. Worry filled him, was quickly batted back. "You'll have to try and drink something soon, Pinky." Even if it wasn't exactly the flu, fluids should help.
Another groan wormed it's way out of Pinky's chest, not consciously aware of voicing his displeasure to the mouse he normally tried his best to please. He struggled to open his eyes, blearily attempting to focus on Brain. "I'll get all messy again." He mumbled, his throat still burning from the last time he tried to drink and eat. Food pellets didn't even sound appetizing to the unwell mouse.
Pinky reached up to tug on Brain's fur. "Stay with me, please Brain? Don't make me go to the water bottle."
Wincing a little at the tug, Brain grabbed Pinky's hand with the intention of keeping it away. He ended up holding on at the miserable tone. "I wasn't going to make you go to the water bottle, Pinky. I'll fill up a thimble for you. And it's alright if you only get sick again; I'll clean you up."
Managing a nod, Pinky let go of Brain reluctantly. His arm was getting tired. Everything was tired. Had he not been so exhausted, this sluggish behavior would have startled the normally hyperactive mouse. Instead of wanting to jump around or run on the wheel, all he wanted to do was sleep.
It did startle Brain, though, feeling Pinky's grip go lax. After a brief hesitation, he gently patted the mouse's head. "Don't go to sleep just yet," he ordered and managed to get part of a tissue into Pinky's hand. "Blow your nose. I'll return shortly."
Obediently, Pinky raised the tissue to his red nose and tried his best to get it unstuffed. When he blew, the rest of his head felt like it was being stuffed with pillows. Letting the Kleenex fall beside him, he rolled from his back to his stomach and back again, trying to find the most comfortable position. He had to be careful of his thigh, still tender and irritated. He'd learned the hard way that rolling too hard on that part of his body hurt almost as much as the time he'd been electrocuted off the radio tower Brain built in the backyard. Although, that had been preferable to seducing their neighbor. While Pinky was fond of Mr. Sultana, he didn't want to become Mrs. Sultana.
"I would get to wear a lovely dress... poit..." He sighed, deciding that sleeping on his stomach was more comfortable than his back. "I liked the wet suit though... I'll wear that to the party."
It sounded as if there were a party of elephants parading around the lab. Pinky glanced over to see what the commotion was about, getting an eyeful of two giant, white blurs.
The scientist with the glasses peered into the cage. "A definite decrease in activity. I'd say this did the trick."
"I'm not so sure about that." His colleague mused, more to herself than him. "Doesn't he look a little sick to you?"
Glasses shrugged. "A reaction to the depressant we gave him is to be expected, and a rise in temperature is one of the side effects. It'll be gone by the morning, I'm sure of it."
She frowned minutely. "He looks worse than the other mice did."
"Every mouse will react differently. As long as he's keeping hydrated and nourished the medicine will work just fine and he'll be a normal, less hyperactive mouse." Glasses assured his companion as they left the lab, locking up for the night.
Pinky squeezed his eyes shut, their conversation fell upon him like a hammer. All his hard work to keep the ache in his brain to a minimum had been undone in a matter of seconds.
With the lights off, Brain emerged from the drawer he'd hidden himself in upon the scientists arrival in the room. Irritating fools. After brushing himself off, he plucked up his thimble and made his way back to the cage. He only sighed when he saw that Pinky's eyes were closed. "Pinky?" he said quietly, resting a hand over the feverish mouse's brow.
"Mmm..." The dark hurt his eyes much less, so for Brain he forced them open to prove he hadn't gone against his order. "Not sleeping, Brain..." He croaked out, tears prickling at the corners of his eyes for a reason beyond him. "They were really loud... narf..." The last bit was no more than a whisper, as if tacked on to the end only to serve as a reminder to Pinky.
"Yes," Brain agreed, absently running his fingers through Pinky's fur. Seeing tears in the optimistic mouse's eyes made him incredibly uncomfortable. "Just give me one more moment, Pinky. After you have a drink, you can rest."
"My head hurts... and you didn't even bop me..." Pinky honestly wasn't sure which was more terrible of the two, he did enjoy being bopped on the head. Probably not at the present moment, any movement involving his head sparked pain of some kind. Except for the feel of Brain's fingers rubbing against his head, it soothed him and took his mind off how uncomfortable he was. Slowly, he raised himself up so he could properly drink from the thimble.
"I won't bop you in this state, Pinky. What on earth do you take me for?" Rolling his eyes, Brain settled himself beside Pinky, looping an arm around the mouse to help him. "Drink slowly."
Pinky leaned into Brain as he felt the thimble's edge against his lips. They were dry and chapped, the water made them feel much better. He sipped slowly, just as Brain had asked, fighting back the wince that traveled up his spine as the liquid hit his empty stomach. Still, he knew it was important that he finish the whole thimble, and his friend had gone to all the trouble to get it for him. The least he could do was drink it without complaining.
When he drained the thimble, Pinky pulled his face away to bury it in Brain's side. His stomach felt all sloshy and full, but his headache seemed to be easing up a little. "What's wrong with me?" He mumbled, still aware of the difference in temperature between himself and his cagemate, Brain felt much cooler compared to himself.
The Brain wasn't entirely certain yet, which irritated him greatly. "You're just sick," he replied, hoping the simple response would be enough. "You'll be alright with, ah, plenty of fluids," he improvised. "And sleep."
Pinky hummed in response, satisfied with the answer due to his faith and confidence in Brain's worldly knowledge. If anyone knew what was wrong with him, it'd be The Brain. While he wanted to make sure he wasn't going to throw up again, then mention of sleep reminded him of how tired he was. Cuddling up against Brain, Pinky sighed and sniffed once before drifting off with the hopes he'd feel much better when he next woke up.
Brain opened his mouth to complain, but couldn't bring himself to do it. He managed to set the empty thimble down - made a mental note to congratulate Pinky on drinking it all - before gently easing the mouse back down. He rose to pick up a blanket the feverish mouse had kicked aside earlier and wrapped it around him, the checking of his fever compulsory.
It just didn't seem to be going down and Pinky just didn't seem to be getting any better. It had only been one day, but there was no telling what the scientists had given his friend. He just hoped that it would be over soon. He did detest seeing him in this state.
He stilled suddenly, a hand pausing just below Pinky's ear, where he'd been idly scratching. He detested it because they were behind on taking over the world - that was all. They were losing precious world domination time. But still he left his hands where it was for a moment more before leaving the sickly creature to return to his texts. He would figure out what was occurring.
There were too many options. It was an incredibly irritating thing to realize that Pinky's vague symptoms lent themselves to all sort of various diseases and sicknesses. Some of them a lot more fatal than The Brain would've liked. He didn't completely cross them off his list of possibilities, but he decided that it would be better to not dwell on them, particularly in his current state of exhaustion. The entire night had been spent, not with the world domination schemes typical of his time, but with research.
Pinky could have almost anything and it was unbelievably frustrating that assisting his friend was causing such difficulty. Feet dragging slightly, eyelids drooping, Brain made his way into the cage as the sun was rising through the windows. The scientists would be in soon and he couldn't be discovered pouring over veterinary texts. He rolled up his list of possibilities and tucked it into an old sardine can that lay in the corner of their lab; it held other various sheets of paper - unfinished plans, vague ideas for what changes would be made once he was the ultimate ruler... a drawing Pinky had given him ages ago.
He touched the old scrap of paper, unfurled it carefully. Very poor quality in professional artistic terms, but that had never truly mattered. Pinky's gifts had always been simple things, things given straight from his overly large heart. Brain felt a shiver along his spine as he looked at the old drawing of two only vaguely familiar mice to the artist himself, curled up and shivering despite his blanket.
With a frown, he rolled the picture up and tucked it away, added the list of possible diseases to the pile, and closed the can before going to Pinky and curling around him to provide additional warmth.
The clatter of test tubes and beakers, along with the collective murmurs of lab technicians, dragged Pinky into a state of semi-awareness. The noise and the bright lights caught his attention for the most part, splitting his head in two. Or so it seemed.
His eyes watered as the intense colors burned his retinas, so he shut them tightly, wishing he could shut out the cacophony of sounds just as easily. His fur was sticky and damp, the skin beneath it felt hot enough to roast marshmallows over. Another heat source beside him didn't help this irritation, so Pinky rolled away from it, biting back a cry of pain as he jostled his right leg. It throbbed in time with his head, but he didn't have the energy to do anything about it.
Eventually he could ignore the ringing in his ears and fell back asleep, breaths soft and shallow as his body unconsciously fought whatever ailment plagued him.
He didn't stir again for a long time.
Written with assistance from StarShineDC! She took care of some of Brain's scenes that were giving me some difficulty, and helped me push through this piece even when I thought it was crap xD Thank you, lovely!
This is the fic where I discovered that basically all my ideas stem from this question: "How can I make Brain willingly cuddle with Pinky?" and the rest is history xD
This is only a two-part story, so I'll update the rest of it fairly soon! Enjoy!