So. I wrote this for skimmingsurfaces because her birthday is Valentine's Day. This has absolutely nothing at all to do with Valentine's Day. And it's technically a few hours late since it's no longer her birthday on her coast or mine.
BUT WHATEVER. XD At least I finished it and she'd better like it, lol
I hope everyone else does, too~
If it's your birthday, HAPPY BIRTHDAY
"Pinky, will you turn that thing off? I'm trying to concentrate."
"But, Brain," the other mouse whined, "it's Lauren Cuthbertson..." He gestured towards the television he was watching.
"I don't care who it..." Brain trailed off, having wandered over. To his surprise, Pinky wasn't watching some inane cartoon or an aging sitcom. It wasn't even reality television, though the actual realism was easily debatable. He was watching ballet. "What is this, Pinky?"
He sighed happily, rocking happily, toes in his hands. "Alice in Wonderland, Brain! It's her first show ever and she's so good at it. Narf! Look at them all twirly-whirly!"
Brain did look, watching quietly for several minutes while the music rose and the feet moved about the stage with seeming effortlessness. From fast to slow in carefully choreographed moves, telling a story without words, conveying a message... A message.
An idea snapped into his mind, charging the synapses like a lightning strike. The plans he'd been struggling with were entirely forgotten and his eyes lit up. "Yes! Pinky! Are you pondering what I'm pondering?"
"I think so, Brain," Pinky said, attention still on the screen before him, "but how do they get the deer to jump on cue night after night?" He was referring to the projections on the screen, shadows of deer created by light and computers, so Brain just sighed.
"No, Pinky, tonight's plan! You're going to become a ballerina, dance steps I provide for you, and hypnotise the world!" He clicked the off button on the remote at Pinky's non-reaction and was pouted at. Brain ignored the expression. "Did you hear me, Pinky?"
"Yes, yes. Take over the world, hypnotise, balle..." Pinky paused, blinked twice, and then Brain found himself enveloped in an exuberant hug and he was being twirled with enough enthusiasm that he could taste his lunch again. "Oh, Brain! I get to be a ballerina?"
"Only if you release me!" he managed and was dropped right onto the remote. Behind him the ballet had resumed and Pinky was batting his lashes, excitement clear. Brain hit the mute and still Pinky beamed at him. "Now, Pinky, we'll need to go to Russia and have you audition to become part of the Royal Ballet Company or for one of their shows. Something that will be as widely circulated as this." He gestured vaguely behind him.
"And on opening night, when all the world is watching - because I'll take over the television stations again - you'll dance the steps I provide, steps that will convince all the world to follow my rule!"
"Egad, Brain! Brilliant!" he cheered then frowned. "Oh, wait, no, no... Why go all the way to Russia when they're coming here?"
"What?" Pinky pointed to the screen and Brain whirled, hitting the mute button again on the commercial. The very company they sought was coming to California that week to put on a performance. Cinderella. Excellent! Pinky would have more than enough solo opportunities if he managed to become the lead. "Brilliant, Pinky!" He snatched up his blueprints and scrambled to the computer to look up proper dance steps and pick out the best ways to hypnotise the planet.
Pinky sat back down on the edge of the remote and watched the dancing with a new excitement. He already knew that this was going to be the best plan ever!
They were at the toy store the following night and Pinky was fawning over the ballerina dolls and all their lovely clothes. "Oh, Brain, how will I choose just one?"
"You don't have to, Pinky. Pick as many as you like." Brain stood back, a shrewd light in his eyes. He'd already plotted out Pinky's entire backstory. Russia seemed to be the country which appreciated its dancers the most and, while he detested the cliched name, it would be easier for Pinky to remember Natasha.
Pinky dove, quite literally, into a pile of doll clothes and Brain only shook his head and went off to locate a suitable wig. If they were going to market him as Cinderella, he would have to look like Cinderella.
At one point, he was swept up again and twirled. Pinky laughed, his tail wagging, and Brain didn't have the heart to push away. As happy as the leaner mouse tended to be on a normal basis, Brain could honestly say he'd never seen him quite like this. Elation. Exultant gladness. That was Pinky at this moment, so Brain closed his mouth and held on for the ride. He'd hurt him later.
It took several days to get everything completed. Ballet was an artform The Brain hadn't concerned himself with when he'd first began soaking up information, so his knowledge was nearly nonexistent. It was staggering to realize that on this, Pinky knew volumes more than he did. He knew names and faces, recognized performances from the music alone.
And he copied them. Brain turned his gaze away from the Swan Lake performance on the computer screen to watch the other mouse. He moved with such surprising grace, the smile permanently on his face, and he was humming to himself. He pirouetted and pliéd, bent and pointed.
And he was wearing the shoes, which was excellent. He'd been extremely excited when the shipment of ballet shoes had arrived, trying on every single pair within ten minutes. Since then, he'd danced with each. Brain had introduced the outfits the night before, and Pinky had taken to them instantly. He watched Pinky execute a quick pas de bourrée, ending in a demi plié.
He moved with such ease and finesse, on par with the famed ballerinas he'd been reading so much about. It would be incredibly simple, he was certain, for Pinky to get the part. He watched Pinky lift a leg, settle himself in the attitude position. But then he broke character and waved happily.
"Hi, Brain! I'm practicing!"
"Continue on, my friend. I'm nearly finished with the steps you'll need to know and learn and dance better than anything ever danced before!"
"Okay!" Delighted, Pinky took off on a series of leaps, looking rather ridiculous in his bright pink tutu. Brain scoffed lightly and turned his attention back to his work, completing the last steps of the dance that would soon be used to hypnotise the world! He could feel the success.
He felt a little queasy. The drive to the studio had been difficult, to say the least. Pinky had been almost too distracted to pay attention to the brakes and acceleration, humming to himself and twirling in place. His hopes of getting Pinky to look absolutely perfect were dashed by the time constraint the ridiculous drive had placed upon them.
It was a mad dash to get Pinky dressed in the plain leotard, the shoes. The rest of his clothes were in a small dance bag and he'd have to change into them on his own.
"On my own? B-but Brain! Aren't you coming with me?"
"I'll be in there, but you won't be able to talk to me." Brain fitted the wig carefully atop Pinky's head, but couldn't take the time to style it as he'd planned. The curls were mussed. "I told you this on the way. If you'd been paying more attention-" He broke off. If Pinky had been paying attention, they'd still be having this conversation. "Pinky, all you have to do is go in and audition."
Pinky stared at him, eyes big and wide. "But Brain-"
"Stop it, Pinky. Stay still." He attached long eyelashes to his lids and slapped on a pale lipstick. Pinky was then spun and shoved towards the auditorium the auditions were being held in. "Now go. I'll keep an eye on you, don't worry."
"You won't go anywhere, Brain?" He turned his head, the bag hiked over his shoulder, and pouted worriedly.
And The Brain's mind shorted. With the wigs, the lashes... Well, Pinky made for a very convincing female. They usually went for something unobtrusive, something that would be forgotten if anyone asked. But this time the very point had been to convince the world that Pinky was Cinderella, a beautiful princess-to-be. If this didn't convince them, he wasn't sure what would.
He cleared his throat, looking away. "Yes. I mean, no. That is, I won't go anywhere. I'll be around, Pinky."
"Okay, Brain!" Pinky plucked him up for another tight hug and Brain pushed away for self-preservation. The sooner this was over, the sooner Pinky would go back to normal. The sooner his heartrate would go down.
"Go! You'll be late! And don't forget your name."
"Oh, that's easy, Brain. My name's Pinky!"
He smacked a hand to his brow, happy with the irritation since he could close his eyes. "Natasha. They're going to call Natasha to the stage and that's you."
Pinky considered a moment before nodding. "Right! Okay!" Delighted, Pinky ran off and left Brain to deal with whatever in the world had just happened.
It had happened with Billie and then with Trudy. Beautiful. Irresistible. They'd stolen his breath and elevated his heart and frazzled his mind. He had absolutely no business getting that way about Pinky. About an image he'd been working to create. Though the mussed hair certainly added an appeal he wouldn't have attached by conscious design.
Brain groaned quietly, rubbing his temples. The next time Pinky was dressed up, they would have to do it with his original intent in mind. A... vivacious Pinky wasn't suitable at all. He went back to the van, clambering up to the driver's side and and clicking the locking mechanism before leaping back out to go and keep his promise to Pinky.
And he almost missed Pinky's callback entirely because his breath was gone again. Vivacious.
He listened with half an ear to all of Pinky's excited ramblings on the way back to the lab and was only mildly thankful that this drive was much smoother. Apparently, the lead was between him and another girl and they wouldn't know for sure until the next day. The male lead had already been chosen, as had the evil step-sisters and step-mother.
When the van was parked and the two of them leapt out, Pinky danced more than walked inside with Brain following a sedate pace, hands clasped behind his back. "Oh, it was so much fun, Brain! I got to dance on a stage and everything!" He twirled and Brain whisked off the wig because he quite simply couldn't take it any longer.
To think that his attractions to Billie and Trudy had been so... so shallow! It was an embarrassment, a degradation to his intellect. "Careful, Brain, you'll make it all messy! Zort!" He took the wig and bounced his way back to their cage. Brain followed, pulling the door shut and taking a moment to consider locking it. There was nothing else they could do for Plan 21491-A on this night and Pinky needed as much rest as possible. Brain wasn't entirely sure if his companion would be able to remember the dance moves, but Pinky's ability for retention had been cause for surprise more than once.
Still, though, making sure he was getting plenty of sleep wouldn't hurt anything. He watched Pinky spin around and around, listened to him laughing, and was stunned when his heart skipped a beat. That wasn't... He wasn't even wearing the wig!
"Yes, Brain?" he asked, but the spinning didn't stop. With an annoyed sound, Brain reached out and latched onto his tail. Pinky spun into it, halting abruptly with his tail wrapped around his body. He grinned happily when he looked down.
"Remove those eyelashes at once and get laid down. You have a long day ahead of you."
Pinky looked thoughtful, which was never a good sign. "But I thought the long night came first."
"Don't be so literal, Pinky." He tugged sharply on the appendage still in his grasp, sending Pinky twirling wildly until he crashed into the far side of the cage. His head fell back and he let out a delighted, loud laugh.
"Oh, that was fun! Can we do it again?"
"Perhaps another time, Pinky." Brain strode to their bed and turned the blanket down while Pinky plucked off the false eyelashes. "For now, you need to sleep."
"'Kay!" He scrambled over and pounced onto the straw mat they shared. "It's weird, isn't it, Brain?"
"Going to bed so early."
Brain didn't bother pointing out that he wasn't the one who'd be sleeping, choosing to nod instead. "It is odd, yes. But do your best."
"I'm so excited, Brain! D'you think I made it?" He rolled on his back, wriggling and writhing like a puppy.
Brain threw the blanket over him. "If they saw what I did, you most assuredly 'made the cut,' as they say."
"What'd you see?" Pinky wondered and lifted his head a bit so Brain could fluff his pillow. It wasn't often that Brain tucked him in; they were both usually exhausted, injured, or Brain was just too upset. But Pinky adored it, so smiled widely and let Brain fidget. He seemed to be fidgeting more than normal, though, so Pinky poked his belly like he wasn't supposed to. "Brain?"
Sure enough, the mouse swatted at his hands. "Stop it, Pinky."
"But, Brain, what'd you see?"
Brain considered a moment before sighing and scritching Pinky behind the ear. His friend kicked his leg, eyes closing, a wide grin stretching across his face. "Someone who loved what they were doing. In liberal arts media, I suppose that is an important quality."
Pinky wasn't entirely certain what all that meant, but it sounded nice enough. He blinked his eyes open and smiled again, reaching up to drag Brain the short distance down for a tight hug. "Thank you, Brain! Narf!"
The megalomaniac wriggled and struggled to get away. "Pinky, enough! Go to sleep. Sleep," he repeated when Pinky just stared at him. But at the repeated command, he rolled onto his belly and pressed his face into the pillow. Shaking his head, Brain walked off. He only huffed and turned his head when Pinky called his name again. "Pinky, I told you to sleep."
"I know, Brain." He toyed with the blanket's edge, head cocked to the side. "Aren't you going to sleep too?"
"Not now, Pinky. I have work to do. Now goodnight. Go to sleep." He hopped out of the cage, pleased that he'd decided to leave it unlocked, and headed for the computers to look up the chemical reasons for attraction. Clearly, something in his mind was reacting in a way that should be better controlled and somehow altered.
Pinky pouted and rolled onto his belly again, watching Brain play on the computer until sleep finally overtook him.
"I made it! I made it! I made it!" Pinky sang the words, dancing about while Brain read a biology book. His on-line research hadn't been as in-depth as he'd been hoping. The questions he'd typed in had led him to websites on... well, more adult themes than he'd been intending. "Bi-curious" shouldn't be an actual phrase and what little Brain had read before closing out and clearing the entire internet history had made him a bit light-headed.
He knew his own preferences, after all. And he wasn't at all interested in his cagemate, despite the look of him in that silly wig. He'd always been the female when Brain had seen the need for them to take on personas. And Pinky would still occasionally don the red-flowered yellow dress and scamper to their neighbor's home. Mr. Sultana "Barry" Sultana enjoyed the visits as much as Pinky did for some baffling reason. And he never felt that punch of elemental attraction that he had when Pinky had been on that stage, flowing along with the music.
He did wonder if it was just the music, just the atmosphere that had pushed him to that baffling level of desire for the silly stooge. But there had been that moment when he'd looked back in the parking lot and Brain had been stunned.
It had just been the surprise, then. Worry over whether or not his cretinous companion would be able to pull off the moves most spent decades perfecting had combined with the excitement that his plan could very well succeed. The merger of such emotions had merely gotten crossed in his mind and re-labeled as attraction. There was no curiosity or confusion.
With a firm nod, Brain closed his book and was swept up since Pinky assumed his research was finished. "I made it! I made it! I made it!"
"Pinky!" he protested, but Pinky's jolly attitude overruled him and he was carried through a happy dance. The call had come through an entire hour before and the taller of the two was still absolutely thrilled, moving and swaying with the music in his head. He'd gotten the lead and Brain allowed himself to enjoy the flare of satisfaction he gleaned from being a step closer to world domination.
Pinky spun a final time, settling Brain on his feet. Their hands remained locked, fingers laced. "Brain! I'm Cinderella!"
"Yes, Pinky, I'm well-aware." A rare smile graced Brain's features. "You've done an excellent job, my friend."
Pinky's answering smile was blindingly bright and his lashes fluttered. "Oh, Brain..."
The sudden tightening in Brain's gut nearly had him jerking away from his friend and fleeing for his book again; instead, he took a deep breath and slowly untangled their fingers. He stepped back, hands clasped behind him, and gazed up at Pinky. "And now the real work begins. You'll have to get these steps perfectly or the entire plan is for naught!"
"I thought the plan was for world domination," he replied, head cocked to the side.
Brain gave him a bland look. "Sometimes you worry me, Pinky. Now come. Let's get started."
The cage was incredibly quiet without Pinky. The rehearsals tended to last for hours every day and The Brain clearly couldn't accompany him to every one. His wig was still distracting, particularly when he came back to the lab at the end of a particularly grueling day. No matter how primly and precisely Brain styled it before he left, Pinky returned with it mussed and tumbled. It never failed to tighten his gut and fizzle his mind.
And when that happened, he missed the quiet of the day. The scientists had decided that Pinky had run off, but all attempts at introducing a second mouse to Brain's cage had failed. Mostly because Brain would simply open the cage door, boot them out, and return to his activities. He'd been labeled as anti-social, but that didn't matter in the grand scheme of things. What mattered was that Pinky didn't catch the scent of strangers in their cage, lest he become confused.
It had been two very long weeks and The Brain was starting to admit, to himself, that he rather missed their usual routine. Often, Pinky came home and was sent right to bed, no matter how much energy he had left. It was important to Brain that he learned the real show first; the ruse needed to continue and he wasn't entirely sure if Pinky could hold both sets of steps in his head at once.
But he was missing their routine and, luckily, Pinky didn't have rehearsal the following day. So when he came back to the lab that night, Brain allowed him to run about. It'd been quite a while since he'd done research just for the sake of research; it was a bit surprising to realize how quickly technology was advancing. Why, it had all opened a whole new world of possible schemes for him! It was almost a shame that this one was absolutely going to work.
"Brain!" Pinky dropped down beside the mouse, grinning widely, and Brain ignored the pull in his gut as he'd been telling himself to do every single time he saw Pinky in that wig. When this plan was over, he would never have to see Pinky like this again, and all would be well. "Today was so much fun!" As he rambled on about all the exercises and leg lifts and how many different times they'd had to run the same exact steps, Brain struggled not to grimace. To him, it sounded horrible. So much work, so much exercise. Where did Pinky find the energy?
"Oh, and tomorrow's going to be absolutely lovely! Can we go to the store in the morning? I need something nice to wear."
Brain's grip on his mechanical hands spasmed, leaving the keys to type gibberish - aFewd. He hastily hit backspace, glancing Pinky's way. "Tomorrow? You don't have practice tomorrow."
"Oh, I know, Brain. But we're going out for supper! Mikhail's buying."
While Pinky giggled over that, Brain had to slowly pry his fingers away from the mechanical hands lest he be tempted to break them. The sudden surge of jealousy was as surprising as it was unwelcome, so Brain folded his hands carefully and looked at Pinky with a mildly curious expression. "You're going out with the entire cast?"
"Oh, no. Just Mikhail."
"Just... Just Mikhail. And that would be?"
"The Prince, Brain! Oh, he's absolutely fantastic too! Did you know that he's been dancing since he was four? That's... eh..."
"Sixteen years," Brain supplied. He'd done background checks on every single one of the dancers on the show, the producers, the director, the choreographers - everyone involved in the show was a neat little file folder in Brain's mind.
"Right! And then he asked how long I'd been dancing and I said my whole life and then he asked me how old I was and I said two and he laughed..." Pinky trailed off and then looked at Brain. "I dunno what I said that was funny, Brain, but he did laugh an awful lot."
"I'm sure he did, Pinky." There was a muscle twitching below his eyes, driving him mad. "So you agreed to go to dinner with him?"
"Yes, I did. And he said it'd be very nice, so I need to find something to wear!" He turned away and flounced off to the collection of doll clothes they had for all sorts of occasions. Brain knew that he'd never find something worthy of a date in there, so was stunned when Pinky tucked his ears into the ugly green wrap.
"What are you doing, Pinky?"
"Going to see Barry and tell him all about it, Brain! He's been very supportive."
"Pinky! You've told Sultana about this?" The entire point of this plan was that it was secret. Hypnotism worked best when no one was aware and, while he had faith enough in Pinky to know that that particular part of the plan hadn't been divulged... Brain sighed, rubbing his head irritably.
"Of course, Brain!" He pulled the dress over his head and danced about while he tugged it down, tucking his feet into the green slippers of Mrs. Feldman more by accident than design. "He says that you're very lucky."
"Well, I'm not completely sure. Poit!" He fiddled with his skirt, twirling to make sure he looked alright. "He's very confusing sometimes."
"A rock could confuse you, Pinky..." But the barb was either unheard or entirely ignored.
Pinky bounced over, smiling. "D'you want to come?"
"No. The Feldman debacle was a one-time necessity. I have no intention of going back to it."
It had been said more than once, but Pinky always asked anyway. He dragged Brain into a tight, brief hug before releasing him and waving goodbye. "See you soon, Brain!"
"Yes... Soon." The loneliness was surprising, but overwhelming. He looked to their matchbox-turned-closet, but dismissed the idea before it could fully form. Sven "The Brain" Feldman was a mistake of the past and he had no reason at all to indulge in a visit with their messy hoarder of a neighbor. Just as he had no reason at all to be missing Pinky. This was the plan. It was good that other dancers were falling for the ruse.
He was one step closer to ruling the world! So he forcefully stamped down the loneliness and resumed his research.
The Brain spent the following day scowling at everything Pinky tried on. He was wearing the wig and it was terribly distracting, the funny things his heart was doing. He couldn't even think properly! It was a million times worse than when Pinky had been Pinky Suavo because at least then it had been intentional.
Had he possibly done something to make Pinky hypnotically pleasing? He folded his arms, considering this new possibility. It was logical, possible. He'd done enough research on what was physically pleasing that he could have done so by mere habit.
The flurry of movement before him stopped suddenly and Brain looked up, focusing on the situation at hand. Pinky was frowning at him, eyes wide and sad. "Brain... D'you not like any of it?"
"You've been all scowly and frowny all day. D'you not like any of it?" It was a blue dress at the moment, a slim column of what passed for silk on a doll. The sleeves were long and sheer and Brain wasn't exactly sure what he could say with a lump in his throat. This was so incredibly wrong. It had to be accidental hypnotism.
Brain cleared his throat, deciding to see it as a good thing. Pinky would draw attention even before the steps designed to be hypnotic. "It's fine, Pinky. That's fine. Wear that. I'm sure he'll like it."
"But do you?" Pinky turned in place and Brain had to clear his throat a second time.
"It's... I like it."
The smile bloomed anew. "Really, Brain? Narf!"
"Yes. Now come along, Pinky. We'll make the purchase and be on our way."
"Yippee!" Pinky tugged the dress up and off in a perfectly innocent, meaningless gesture. Brain felt heat flare in his gut, a blush flood his cheeks, and hated it. It was completely inappropriate and didn't make any sort of sense. He'd dislodged the wig and Brain's heart was still pounding. It was... it was a residual reaction; that was all. "Are you alright, Brain?"
"It's... overly warm in here," he lied and leapt from the counter to head to the check-out. He ignored the excited squeal from Pinky a moment later and added in the stupid blue feather boa to their purchases without a word. He thought bitterly that Mikhail had no idea what an incredible person he was staying the night with.
His head snapped up abruptly. There was absolutely no way Pinky was staying the night with anyone!
Another week passed by with Brain very quickly getting into the habit of standing by the door every evening, awaiting his associate's arrival. It quickly became apparent that it was Mikhail who was dropping him off every single night in a cab. It was understandable, of course, that an extensive traveler wouldn't have his own vehicular transportation, but it was irritating that he would escort Pinky back to the lab every night.
Late every night. Pinky was beginning to go to bed without having to be told and the dates needed to be stopped. "Oh, Brain, you wouldn't believe what Mikhail said!"
Eyes like sapphires. Not only was that the incorrect hue - Pinky's eyes were more sky or robin's egg - it was overly romanticized, an obvious line. It helped his theory that he'd unintentionally made Pinky hypnotically attractive, but it didn't help his own worsening jealousy.
Pinky had never spent so much time with anyone else. Normally when they had a plan like this, they worked together. But Brain couldn't dance, wasn't about to take the time to learn, and it was far too late to create a suit. He should've thought of a suit much sooner. Then they could've been together and none of this would be an issue.
And it certainly was an issue when it was half-past midnight and Pinky was only just arriving! Pinky moved out of the car quickly, leaping to the ground and Brain nearly rushed forward to greet him and drag him inside where they could be alone in their cage. He'd started sleeping closer to Pinky at night, which had to stop as well. It was childish and desperate and not at all what a future ruler of the world needed to be doing.
It wasn't until Mikhail started to step out as well that Brain actually started moving forward, but Pinky's laugh reached his ears and stilled him. A sense of satisfaction worked its way through Brain when the lean dancer - what did Pinky see in him, anyway? - folded himself back into the cab and went off. Pinky skipped towards the door, his dance bag swinging at his side. "Brain!" he greeted, waving.
"Where've you been, Pinky?" There was the usual heat in his gut, but irritation won out for the first time in days.
"Oh, we went clubbing! D'you know that there aren't any actual clubs involved? Just a lot of dancing and drinking."
"Drinking?" Had Pinky really been... No! Brain grabbed his snout, jerked his down to sniff at him. He smelled of alcohol, but his eyes were clear and he certainly didn't seem impaired.
"I just had water, Brain. Everybody else drank the smelly stuff."
"Everybody else?" He glared in the direction the taxi cab had been before releasing Pinky's nose to grab his hand and drag him inside through the mail slot.
"The whole cast went, Brain! We open next Saturday!"
Of course! Saturday! And Pinky hadn't learned a single step of the hypnotic dance. They would have to start the next day. "Pinky, from now on you're to come to the lab immediately after rehearsals."
"Alright, Brain. But... why?"
"Because of the plan, Pinky! You need to learn the dance steps that will hypnotise the world and convince them to follow me! Ruler of the world!"
"Oh. Troz! Right. When am I doing that, Brain?"
The megalomaniac sighed heavily, keeping his eyes trained ahead of him to still the butterflies that insisted on infiltrating his stomach. "Your last solo, Pinky. It will be my steps instead of the choreographer's. By the time anyone realizes they're the wrong steps, it'll be too late. And then-" He jerked to a stop, his words halting, and he had to look back at Pinky to find out why the taller mouse had stopped moving. His mouth went dry at the worried look, the way he bit his lip. "What's the matter with you, Pinky?"
"But my last solo is before the end of the show, Brain."
Brain hadn't known that, but didn't see any reason why it was of any import in the face of world domination. "And...?"
"Wuh... But, Brain, what about the last scene? With the slipper?" Pinky's distress was clear. "Nobody's going to see it if they're all hyp... hypno... Narf! Hypnotised."
Perhaps it was the uncontrollable attraction, but Brain was still unable to comprehend where exactly the problem was. "I know that. But what does it matter, Pinky? We'll be ruling the world."
"But those people are all paying to see the whole show, Brain! I'll ruin the whole thing!"
"No one will know, Pinky."
"Pinky! If it makes you feel better, you can... do the show again and... do it as the choreographer intended."
His ears dropped nonetheless and he looked absolutely pitiful. "I don't want to, Brain..."
That was a completely unexpected development. Brain released the mouse's hand then and spun to face him completely, arms folded over his chest. "You must, Pinky! That was the entire point of you starting to dance the first place! Now you've had three weeks to play around. Now is the time to work. You can do the show again after we rule the world for the exact same crowd for free. But only if you cooperate."
Pinky reached up and slipped off the wig, sorrow in every motion. Brain ignored the crestfallen expression and the way it effected his own mood. "Now come along, Pinky. It's incredibly late and you need to sleep."
Later, to Brain's absolute sorrow - though he did try to block that out - Pinky slept with his back turned and the bed seemed awfully cold.
Pinky learned the steps. He was quiet and he was sad. The steps didn't reach his usual, pleased level, but he danced and learned the moves because Brain wanted him to. Brain knew it, detested the guilt that ate at him. But they were close, so very close to ruling the world. He could practically taste it.
Thursday after practice, Pinky ran in ahead of schedule. He had very wide eyes and his face seemed a little... wet. Brain's first instinct was that some behemoth had made Pinky cry and it made his ears ring with irritation. Whoever had done it would be banished to... to the moon when this plan was accomplished!
But then he grasped Brain's arms and shook, eyes wide and confused and bordering on terrified. That was almost worse than making him cry. "Brain! It was terrible, Brain!"
"What was, Pinky? What happened?"
"I don't, Brain! It was all so sudden!" Pinky reached up, plucking off the wig. He ran his hands over it, frowning. "He said I was being a tease, but I swear I wasn't teasing him about anything!"
Understanding dawned and Brain whirled away, marching away from his cagemate. "Are you upset because Mikhail was rude to you? You've been out with him an ample enough number that he expects more from you than what you've been giving."
Pinky thought about this for a moment before following after The Brain. "What sort of present should I give him...? I don't want him to do that again, Brain. It wasn't very nice."
Brain rolled his eyes, certain that Pinky was blowing all of this out of proportion. "He doesn't want a gift, Pinky. At least not in the way that you assume."
"Then what sort of gift does he want, Brain?" Pinky pulled off his dress, hopping about as it went over his head. Brain forcefully kept his gaze averted. "I told you he hasn't been very nice at all since I told him I couldn't go on anymore dates with him! But today was the worst of all." Pouting, Pinky went to their makeshift closet and hung the dress up, smoothing it out carefully.
Brain scoffed, leaping onto the keyboard to bring up the instructional program he'd modified to help teach Pinky the hypnotic dance steps. "He wants something that you can't possibly give him, Pinky. You're a mouse and a male one at that." He rolled his eyes, staying on the keys in order to hit play when necessary. "Now come along, Pinky. There's a lot of work to be done yet."
Pinky trudged over, wringing his tail in his hands. "But how do I make him stop, Brain...?"
"You can't." Brain pulled on specialized glasses he'd developed that would keep him from getting hypnotized when Pinky performed the routine. It didn't stop the burning in his gut that he could no longer deny was attraction, but he would simply have to ban his ballet dancing entirely after this scheme was over and everything would go back to normal. "Now get in position, Pinky. We'll start from the beginning."
Pinky moved to comply, but he still seemed worried. "But what if Bethany and Alice don't come around the corner again? It hurt when he pressed me to the wall, Brain..."
The shorter mouse paused, lowering the glasses slowly. "He pressed you against the wall?"
Pinky nodded emphatically. "He offered to bring me back to the lab since we were wrapping up early today, but when we left everyone behind, he took me off his shoulder and put me against the wall! He pressed really hard, Brain. That's when he said, 'You've been teasing me long enough.'" He did his best to mimic the Russian accent, screwing up his face and pointed for emphasis. "'Nobody stops dating Mikhail...' eh... 'My-funny-last-name for no good reason. You have until opening night to come to your senses or...' And then Alice and Bethany came around the corner and he dropped me." He rubbed his behind now as if it still hurt. "And I don't even know what the or was, Brain, 'cause I went with Bethany and Alice since Alice has a car."
Brain could guess what the "or" had been. He set the glasses aside entirely and hit the keys that would close the program. He suddenly felt horrible for not having gone to any of Pinky's rehearsals or practices. He could've gone, disguised as his husband or boyfriend or something. A family member of some sort.
"What're you doing, Brain? Aren't we going to practice?"
"Not tonight, Pinky. I think you know the steps well enough to take a break." With a relieved sound, Pinky fell onto his back, flailing about as if he could make a snow angel on the countertop. Brain hopped off the keyboard and meandered to his side, hoping to be casual. "Tell me, Pinky, does Mikhail's understudy know the routine?"
"Oh, yes. Christophe knows it even better than Mikhail. I practice with him sometimes just for fun!"
Brain battled down the jealousy that brought about, clearing his throat before replying. "I see. And you haven't gone on any dates with... Christophe?"
"Oh, no." Pinky giggled, tickled by the very idea. "Christophe has a boyfriend, Brain. He's not a dancer, but he's absolutely lovely. He comes to all the rehearsals!"
There was another guilty pang for not having come to them himself that was quickly brushed aside. A plan was forming in his mind because such a worrying transgression against Pinky couldn't come to pass. Not only would any attempts reveal Pinky as a fraud - in more ways than one - it would result in... Brain didn't even want to know what else it would result in, but he'd keep them all from happening at any cost.
He coaxed Pinky to his feet, leading him towards one of the shallower sinks. "Pinky, you've been working exceedingly hard on this scheme. You've done very well, my friend."
Pressed so close, Brain was becoming uncomfortably aware of just how warm his fur was. It didn't help when Pinky bent down to give him a tight hug. "Thank you, Brain!"
"Ahem." Brain nudged him back, continuing on. "Anyway, I'm proud of you."
"Stop interrupting, Pinky." He glared up at his companion, watching as Pinky held a hand to his mouth to stop himself from anymore outbursts. "I've decided that you've earned a night off from anything more than... whatever it is you like to do." He tried not to let the way Pinky's eyes lit up affect him. "Starting with a relaxing bubble bath."
Pinky cheered and swept Brain up, spinning him excitedly until they both tumbled into the still-empty sink and Brain conked him on the head.
Later, with Mikhail aboard a plane bound for Russia, Brain wearily made his way into the cage. A light flicked on and Pinky was glaring at him accusingly from their bed. "And just where have you been, mistah? I've been worried sick!"
He had curlers in the fur on his head. Brain focused on the absurdity of that for a moment before coming over and climbing into bed beside the huffy mouse. "I told you, Pinky. I went for a walk."
"But you've been gone for hours!" Pinky threw his arms around Brain and dragged him close. He buried his nose into Brain's fur, sniffled a bit, then stilled and looked curiously at his friend. "You smell like Mikhail..."
Drat. He should've considered that. "Yes. Well. I went and had a... chat with him." He'd actually researched enough Russian legends to dress up and put on a show that had terrified the superstitious dancer into fleeing the country, but in some form Brain was sure it amounted to the same thing. "I can assure you that he's seen the error of his ways and will harm you no longer."
"Oh, Brain..." Pinky smiled and went about nuzzling his cagemate. "Thank you."
"I am not without a sense of justice," Brain muttered, turning away from Pinky to hide the way the gentle nuzzles affected him. But he didn't push Pinky away, allowing himself to enjoy the warmth he provided. It was a welcome change from the way Pinky had distanced himself the past few nights.
Disgusted with himself and his inability to fight this attraction, Brain lifted his hands to his face and pressed the heels of his palms to his eyes. "Go to sleep, Pinky. We both have a long day in store for tomorrow."
"Why, Brain? What're we doing tomorrow?"
"You're going to rehearsal and I'm..." Going to stay here and miss you. "Also going to be busy. Now sleep."
"'Kay." Pinky nudged Brain closer and curled tightly around him. "I'll dance the way you want me to," he whispered. "I promise."
The guilty ache kept The Brain awake far longer than it should've.
Brain sighed, pulling on the uncomfortable shoes, and searched for the over-sized spectacles to complete the look. He'd already attached the grey hairs that completed the middle-aged look he'd been going for when the Feldman ploy had first been decided upon. Studying himself in the mirror, Brain decided that the disguise was as ugly as it had ever been and wondered if he hadn't just gone insane.
Perhaps the problem was that he'd been around Pinky too long and that was all. Not love, just constant proximity. Isn't that how arranged marriages had often worked in past cultures? It was a shame that his intellect reminded him that it didn't always work that way. Sighing heavily, he leapt from the counter and strolled out to visit his disgusting neighbor. He was certain that he'd regret it, but he couldn't bear another minute in the empty lab.
He heard a cacophony in a nearby room - one of the genetically altered monkeys was expecting and they were throwing her a baby shower. Brain paused at the doorway, gazing into the room for a moment. Pinky knew them all by name and had insisted that, even if he wasn't going to be around for the party, that they find the mother-to-be a gift.
The stores had been closed by the time Pinky had remembered, of course, so Pinky had spent hours trying to knit something for her until Brain had gotten frustrated enough to drudge up an old machine that knitted things automatically. Pinky had selected the garish colors and the material and the machine had done the rest.
Brain could name a select few, not from familiarity but from descriptions provided by Pinky and pulled up with his eidetic memory. Was that... pathetic on some level? To live so close to these creatures but to hold himself apart and above?
No, he quickly assured himself. Of course it wasn't. He didn't need to know their names. None of them would be useful in his plots of world domination and that was all that mattered. He'd have the world by the following night and all of them would be left behind! A world ruler such as himself had no need for a large amount of friends, anyway. It had the potential to lead to the spoils system and that would certainly do the world more harm than good.
Still, though, he loitered at the doorway until the expectant mother opened the sweater, listened to their oohs and ahhs and was satisfied that he could tell Pinky that she had liked his gift. He darted out quickly from there; Pinky would be home soon and he wanted to be back, the Feldman disguise hidden safely away before that happened.
He darted across the lawn, frowning, trying to shake himself of the thoughts which plagued him so incessantly. He ran across the lawn and took the porch steps with a quickness that left him winded and feeling even more foolish. Why was he in such a hurry to see Sultana anyway? The man certainly wouldn't have any useful words of advice for him.
He debated with himself while his heart rate lowered and his breath returned before lifting a hand and carefully knocking. He'd put on the ridiculous disguise; he may as well get some use out of it. The door swung open after a few suspicious sounding crashes and Sultana looked around. "Yes, hello?"
"Mr. Sultana, it is I! Mister-"
"Mr. Feldman!" Sultana greeted. "I have not seen you in as many days as there are teeth being in my head! Come in, my neighborly friend!" He pushed the door open and strolled inside, Brain following cautiously. The place wasn't nearly as messy as it had been the last time he'd been in, which was surprising.
"Did you hire a cleaning service?" he wondered, deciding that he would keep them in mind when he ruled the world. Having people with that strong a constitution would be exceedingly useful.
"Why would I want services to be cleaning?" Sultana wondered, leading Brain towards an incredibly small television and a couch that looked as though it were... made of clothes. Sultana dropped down on one end and gestured to let Brain know he could follow. "I would not! Not when I am having the beauty of Mrs. Feldman doing the helping for freedom!"
"I'll stand, thank you," Brain muttered, going over Sultana's words. "Are you saying that Mrs. Feldman has helped you clean all of this up?"
"All of this and even more!" He sighed, placing a hand on his heart. "You are a very lucky man, Mr. Feldman. You have the love of a verra lovely woman."
Brain took a startled step back. "How would you know if Pinky loves me or not?" At Sultana's baffled look, Brain cleared his throat. "It's, ah, a petname."
"No, no. This, I have heard in the previous. I am part of the confused because of your question! Of course Mrs. Feldman loves her Mr. Feldman!"
"I'm sure you think so," Brain muttered, "but how do you know?"
"Because she tells me these things. She tells Sultana Sultana all about the trips the two of you are taking always. And the places you go on dates that are exciting."
Dates? Brain wondered. "How frequent does Pinky say these dates are?"
Ah. Of course. Brain rubbed his forehead. Pinky was just telling Sultana that their nightly schemes to take over the world were dates. That made sense, even if it was extremely surprising that Pinky would've thought to do that on his own.
"And then, of course, there are times when she is saying that she is loving you," Sultana continued, rubbing his chin thoughtfully.
Brain looked up sharply. "What?"
"Yes," Sultana continued. "She will come in some of the times and sitting down will tell me things. When she is feeling badly, she will say that The Brain does not love her as much as she loves him."
Brain continued to stare up at Sultana, mind reeling. "What?"
"Am I whispering in your ears now?"
"I... I apologize. Pinky really said that to you?"
"Many times when Mrs. Feldman comes in here with the sad faces. When you are being verra mean." Sultana wagged his finger at him, but Brain was too busy trying to ponder to pay much heed to it. Pinky had told Mr. Sultana that he... it could only be a ruse, but that was highly unlikely. This was Pinky, after all. It left him with only one option, though, and that seemed too fantastic an idea to even begin to entertain.
Pinky loved him.
Brain closed his eyes for a moment before climbing onto the couch to perch beside Sultana. Apparently, he knew more about his cagemate than he himself did. And they shared a bed! "Mr. Sultana... um, Barry... What else has Pinky told you about me? About our... relationship?"
He was late in leaving, mind reeling and heart racing. Pinky had told Sultana so much that The Brain hadn't even known. He pulled away the gray hairs as he trudged towards the lab, removing the glasses with a sigh. The things Pinky had revealed to Sultana - why hadn't Pinky ever revealed any of it to him?
"Brain!" He was suddenly engulfed in a familiar embrace, being swept right off his feet and twirled. "Oh, Brain, there you are! I was so worried! You weren't in the cage or doing typing things or anything!"
The mouse looked up, leaning back to better see his friend. "Pinky..."
Blue eyes wide, Pinky pressed their noses together and rubbed. "My heart was going all pittery-pattery, Brain. You're never not home when I come home!" But then Pinky blinked a few times and held Brain out like a child, making him scowl. "Egad, Brain, you're wearing shoes! And an ugly little sweater! Ooh, Brain, that doesn't match your eyes very well at all."
"I... I suppose not. Pinky, put me down. I won't be held like a child."
Pinky did as he was told, the bright smile returning to his face. He clasped his hands behind his back, rocking back and forth on his heels. He was still dressed from practice, though his wig was askew. It gave The Brain a start to realize that Pinky hadn't even gotten settled in before going on the hunt. "I'm glad I found you, Brain."
The honest words were simple, the truth in them so crystal clear that it choked him up for a moment. Pinky was always so simply honest. Did it ever even truly occur to him to lie...? Brain was pretty certain that it didn't unless he was hiding a surprise or if The Brain himself told him to.
The bright smiled faded a bit at the way Brain was staring at him, so Pinky's ears wilted a bit. "...Brain?"
He wasn't even getting called out for the Felton disguise. Brain closed his eyes for a moment, took a deep and careful breath, and opened his eyes again. "I didn't mean to worry you, Pinky. I went for... a walk."
The smile returned, ears perking back up. "Did you tiptoe through the roses, Brain?"
With a bland look, Brain brushed passed him to head into the lab. "Only if I'd suffered severe brain damage," he muttered and wiggled through the mail slot.
Pinky followed happily, skipping beside him. "Oh, Brain, we practiced extra hard today since Mikhail left! The director wasn't very happy about that! Poit. But it was awfully fun! Christophe's even nicer to dance with than Mikhail! He'll be a great prince, Brain!"
"I'm sure he will be." As they walked, Brain removed the Feldman disguise, keeping a hold of it all until they were back in the cage and he could put it all away. Pinky quickly shed his disguise as well and then began bouncing just behind Brain, something clearly on his mind. "What is it, Pinky?"
"I was just... I was pondering... There's going to be a party tomorrow after the performance. With the cast."
Shaking his head, Brain jumped onto the keyboard of his computer. They needed to go over the hypnotic moves one more time; Pinky had to be perfect if this was going to work. He couldn't let Sultana's words effect him too much. He needed to focus on the plan. "Pinky, there isn't going to be a party after the performance. They're all going to be hypnotized, remember?"
"Oh... So you don't wanna go with me?"
Brain stilled, ears flicking because clearly he'd heard that wrong. "What?"
"Wuh- I wanted you to go with me..." Pinky looked down, shuffling his feet.
"Why?" Brain asked quietly.
Pinky looked back up, a smile flitting across his face again. "Because, Brain! You always take me on such lovely dates, I wanted to take you on one! Troz!" The smile faded. "But there won't be a party anymore... So I can't."
"Pinky, I..." Brain swallowed hard, putting on the glasses. He had to focus. "There'll be other chances once we take over the world," he said brusquely. "For now, keep your mind on the plan. Take your position, Pinky."
"Right, Brain." Pinky executed the moves perfectly once The Brain started the music, but his tail was limp and his ears wilted. If Brain never felt guilty again, it would be too soon.
He let him go after one run-through and sat slowly on the keys while Pinky ran off to the water bottle in their cage. He didn't understand why Pinky was so unhappy with this. He loved to dance, didn't he? That much was clear from the hours he'd practice by himself, by how professional his moves were without ever having had a lesson. And he'd been so very excited when Brain had originally told him he'd be posing as a ballet dancer. Why was he sad now? He came home from every practice bubbling with excitement and then...
And then Brain would remind him that his final solo was going to be replaced and the rest of the show wouldn't happen. That nothing his cast members said would happen after the show was going to happen. He watched Pinky dance inside their cage, his movements still fluid but sad. They were sad and it made The Brain sad to watch him.
Pinky'd be happy when they took over the world, he told himself. He would be. He had to be. They'd both be happy. And maybe Brain would consider Pinky's definition of their relationship, the romance he seemed to think they were already having. But he couldn't think of it right now because they didn't have the world. He would use Pinky's skill to his advantage and the world would be theirs!
Pinky lowered himself to the floor slowly, legs crossed, arms outstretched and head bowed. Begging. A leg kicked out, swept across the floor. Pleading.
Brain couldn't watch, turning away quickly as it occurred to him that he hadn't heard a "narf" all day... He'd make this up to Pinky somehow, he promised himself, and everything would go back to normal. He lifted a hand to his aching heart, curled his fingers into his pelt. After tomorrow it would all be over and everything would be okay.
He needed to finish the device that would allow him to take over the world's television stations so the performance could be seen worldwide. Latching onto the practicality of that, Brain got to work. It didn't occur to him that doing this now wouldn't leave him anything to do the following day until it was Saturday and Pinky had long-since left for their last set of rehearsals.
He had nothing to do but sit. And worry. And ponder.
It took him ten minutes to throw on the short and jacket he'd used when he'd tried to become famous through stand-up comedy. Another ten and he had a cab hailed and he was on his way to Pinky's final rehearsals.
"C'mon, Natasha, what's up with you today?"
"Don't yell at her," a brunette interrupted with her thick Russian accent, leg balanced on a barre. "It's her first show, yes? She is nervous."
That's what The Brain heard when he quietly wandered into the rehearsal room. "I'm alright. Poit. Sorry, girls."
"From the top!" someone shouted and there was an authoritative clap of hands. The two women and Pinky immediately came over in front of him and part of Brain wondered how to get this magical ability wherein Pinky listened the first time.
Music was started and Brain was a little taken aback by how violent it was. Pinky seemed to be getting bounced back and forth between the two women, who moved with a fierce exactness before meeting up behind Pinky once he'd drifted to the floor, hands over his face, and they danced off.
"Natasha!" the man snapped and Pinky looked up, shoulders slumping.
"I'm sorry." Brain hadn't thought he'd done a thing wrong, but listened to the list of critiques with some fascination. He stayed back by the door, hoping to remain hidden and out of sight.
"No! This is not good! Christophe! You will dance with her! Make her feel beautiful." A sandy-haired young man unfolded himself from the floor with a easy grin, and Brain heard Pinky giggle. "Do the finale! Where is her shoe?" A chair was being pushed to the floor even as he spoke, Pinky running to his bag to retrieve two light blue "glass" slippers. He ran back and, one of them stowed behind his back, handed one to Christophe.
"You feel beautiful already, Natasha. You only need small reminder," he assured her and the smile Pinky gave him didn't quite reach his eyes. Because he was lying. This was the last day these people would be able to dance and the set they were about to do was one nobody would even get to see. Oh, he was sure Brain would be a wonderful world ruler!
But Pinky really wished he didn't have to lie or mess everything up for such nice people. But he wouldn't be able to do this routine with Christophe in the real ballet later that night, so he put his all into it. His little shoe flew across the floor, the man floating towards it tripped up. The woman playing his evil step-mother swept down and, once in costume, the skirt of her costume would cover it. For now, it was their reactions that would sell the motion.
Pinky stood on the chair when all things seemed lost, did a twirl and almost teasingly revealed the matching slipper. He couldn't help but smile at Christophe's reaction, even understanding that it was planned. It felt better than when Mikhail had been pretending and he should really remember to thank Brain for asking Mikhail to go home. It had been awfully nice of him.
He smiled a little, thoughts of Brain doing something nice for him making him feel all warm inside. He giggled when the choreographer finally graced him with some praise. "There! My darling Cinderella! She has returned! Dance with your sisters now! Go, go!"
Christophe took the slipper and let Pinky climb onto his hand. "You, milaya moyna, are wonderful. Be wonderful." He set Pinky down gently and he twirled, humming to himself. He could be wonderful. He would make sure that he did his absolute best to make everybody happy! And then he'd make Brain happy. Pinky hugged himself tightly. He did want Brain to be happy, but he didn't like feeling sad about what he had to do. So he's just focus on making everybody happy and just not think about being sad!
With a bright smile, he continued the routine. They went for another full hour before the choreographer clapped his hands. "Costume! We will do dress rehearsal, we will fix problem, we will rest."
Which meant that he could go and see Brain before the show! Pinky skipped back to his bag to find his other shoes, but then he stopped and stared for several moments. It wasn't until the scowl appeared and the familiar brow lifted that Pinky decided he wasn't seeing things after all. "Egad! Brain!" He abandoned the bag entirely, snatching up his friend and pressing him close.
"Pinky," he whispered, wary of being overheard, "put me down."
"But you're here! Oh, Brain, you came to watch me?" Overcome, Pinky nuzzled the top of Brain's head, moving quickly to rub their cheeks together. "Oh, Brain! Narf!"
Brain paused, hands having lifted to Pinky's shoulders to push him away, at the inane exclamation. He hadn't heard the familiar sound in... in too long. "Yes, I... I came to watch you."
"Oh, Brain..." With a giggle, Pinky rubbed their noses together. "We're doing the dress rehearsal on stage and everything. Zort. Are you going to stay?"
Did he have a choice? "I'll stay."
Pinky flew through the routine, having to force himself to look melancholy when the situation called for it. His heart was going pittery-pattery like it had when he'd come home the night before and not seen The Brain, but it wasn't a scared beat like it had been. It was a happy one, the kind of pittery-pattery he felt when his friend gave him a fond pat or a compliment. It was the way he felt when Brain shouted "Yes!" or asked what he was pondering.
Because Brain was in the front row, perched on the high backs of one of the cushiony seats in the audience and he was watching! He was watching him dance on a big old stage in these pretty clothes with all these wonderful people! At the end, when applause was supposedly going to ring out from the crowd, Pinky waited for their final notes with his hands clasped and his gaze darting from the choreographer and the director to the mouse still waiting in the seats.
He was still waiting! Egad! Narf! Troz! Zort! Poit! He was still waiting!
When they were dismissed, Pinky ignored the rest of the cast to run to him. Brain met him on the floor and Pinky swept him up, still in the ballgown-inspired tutu. "You're still here, Brain! Did you like it? Isn't it beautiful? And everyone's so good!"
"Everyone's fantastic, Pinky. Especially you."
The stunning words had color rising into Pinky's cheeks. He twirled happily, bringing Brain along with him. "Oh, thank you, Brain! Thank you for letting me dance! This has been the most fun ever!"
Brain allowed the twirling, face buried in Pinky's neck. His last solo had been beautiful. So much despair after being locked away by her stepmother, hidden away from the prince and his courtiers in search of the mystery woman. Despairing and sad and so very hopeful. At the end, he'd had a wide smile on his face and had freed himself. And it had just been... beautiful. Heartbreaking and hopeful and just beautiful.
And no one else was going to see it because of the plan, the plan Pinky had been so excited about until he'd realized that the paying crowd wasn't going to get to see the entire show. He'd just have to make it up to his cagemate. "I... You're welcome, Pinky."
"Natasha, who's this?"
Pinky looked up, smiling brightly at his "evil stepmother." "This is Brain! He's my very best friend in the whole wide world!"
"Aww. That's cool. We're supposed to head back and get all our stuff laid out for tonight, babe. You guys can hug later, 'kay?" She winked and The Brain found himself holding a little tighter.
"Oh! Brain! Are you going to stay a little longer?" Pinky pressed their noses together, giving a happy hum. "And then we can go home together."
"What, you guys live together?"
"Yes, we do!" Pinky announced, still not relinquishing his hold on his friend. "He brought me to the auditions and everything."
"Oh, yeah? How come you haven't been to any of the practices?"
"I've been, ah, very busy. But I'll be here tonight." He gave Pinky's ear a fond tweak, making him giggle and nuzzle all over again. "And yes, Pinky. I'll wait here for you."
"Pinky?" the dancer repeated and Brain pulled away. Clearly, the proximity was doing things to his intellect.
"It's... a pet name. Go on now, Pinky. I'll wait here."
"'Kay! Come on, Lucy!" Pinky alighted onto her offered hand, giving Brain a happy wave that stopped abruptly with Lucy's next question.
"Oh, Brain, you coming to the after-party tonight?"
Watching the way Pinky deflated had guilt flaring in him yet again. "I, uh, wouldn't miss it for the world."
The colloquialism was clearly the wrong one to implement. Pinky perked right back up, fingers laced. "Really, Brain?"
"Ah..." Drat. Maybe he could order them to go along with the party. They could spend an hour... mingling. "Really, Pinky."
"Oh, this is wonderful! Narf! I get to take you on a date after all, Brain!"
Cheeks coloring because the human had started to laugh, Brain waved them away. "Yes. Just... Go on, Pinky."
"'Kay! Bye, Brain!"
Once back at the lab, Pinky practiced the hypnotic steps with a new verve until... "So when am I doing the dance, Brain?"
"Still in place of your final solo, Pinky." He missed a step and Brain scowled. "Pinky! You need to pay attention."
"Wuh- I thought... But what about the party, Brain? Can't you do it after?"
"Pinky, who on earth would ever watch what happens after the party? The ballet is the only time to do it." Brain hit several buttons to rewind the program, grumbling under his breath.
"But how will I take you to the party...?"
"Pinky, there can still be a party. We'll just- Where are you going?"
"I just... Poit. I forgot to give that nice Mr. Sultana his ticket."
Brain pulled off the glasses, more annoyed than he'd been in a long time with the simple-minded mouse. All this guilt, all these attractions - it was too much. "Why are you going to give Sultana a ticket?"
"Because he's my friend, Brain! And he wants to see me do a r-really good job!"
"And what do you think I want to see?"
Pinky ran into their cage, grabbing up a bright blue ticket, and pressed it against his chest defensively. "You want me to help you take over the world!"
"And since when is that a bad thing?" Brain snapped. "Do you not want to help me take over the world?"
"I do, Brain, but... but..." Tears had filled those blue eyes and he hated that. He always hated when Pinky cried.
"You said you would do it, Pinky! Just the other day, you said you would do it! This is our chance to take over the world! Don't you understand that?"
"I understand, Brain... But..."
"Fine." Brain spun away from him, pointed away. "Go."
Pinky sniffled. "B-but Brain-"
"Just go!" Brain ordered. "You want to go, then go! And stop telling Sultana we're in a relationship!"
"But... But we are in a relationship. Aren't we, Brain?"
Brain's heart was beating so hard and fast, he was sure it was going to beat right out of his chest. And there was a pressure in his gut that just kept getting bigger and bigger, drowning out his air. "No! No, we're not! Now leave me be! If you aren't going to help, you're useless to me, Pinky! Get out!" When the sound of surprised sobs started to fade, Brain closed out of the program and sank down. All this guilt was going to eat him alive...
He hid when Pinky came back to get his things ready for the ballet. "Brain...? Brain! Where are you, Brain? I... I want to help, Brain. I still want to be your friend..." He'd heard the tears in Pinky's voice then, had squeezed his eyes shut in defence against his own. "Here's your ticket," he called, though his voice was quieter this time. "Um... Please come, Brain? I... I remembered. I said I'd dance how you wanted... Poit..."
Instead of immediately running over to pluck up the ticket or go after Pinky and apologize, Brain stayed hidden until he knew for sure Pinky was gone, and then he ran about setting up the satellite feed that would beam the performance into every home in the world! If Pinky was going to dance the hypnotic steps, it needed to be seen. The world was still his, now that his wayward sidekick was through being stubborn.
Two hours later, just as Pinky first whirled onto the stage, Brain rigged the ACME Labs van so he didn't have to rely on a cabbie, and was speeding towards the theatre. He glanced at the ticket he'd been left, but his breath hitched and he just had to look away. He couldn't do it to Pinky.
Oh, it was Christmas all over again! But worse because he'd done the hurting intentionally. Not in a relationship - ha! Who had he been trying to fool? Himself, it seemed, and it just hasn't worked because on the back of the ticket in Pinky's blocky writing...
Hello, haha, narf. Thank you for letting me dance, Brain. I love you. From, Pinky.
That idiot. That beautifully wonderful idiot. He ignored the officer that tried to pull him over, snuck out the passenger seat once he'd arrived at the theatre and didn't look back to see the cop confusedly scratching his head as he sprinted across the parking lot to get inside.
He squeezed underneath the door, getting his head stuck for a panicked moment before popping free and bouncing his way down the aisle. But he kept the ticket clutched in his hand because it was as precious as the letter written last Christmas. He made his way to his seat, climbing onto the high back of it, and held the ticket to his chest while he watched Pinky dance.
Intermission was hell. It was so hard to not rush backstage, tell Pinky he should do the show as the show was meant to be. He couldn't. He clung to the plan as stubbornly as he clung to the ticket, unable to let either go. The world and Pinky. They were both in his grasp; they both were. But after the battle with the step-sisters, the dress Cinderella painstakingly made for the ball torn to shreds, a tear fell from Pinky's eye. Entirely unplanned, not anywhere in any of the previous rehearsals. Brain knew it hadn't been in that day's rehearsals, and the lack of any mention of it led him to believe that it was Pinky crying and not Cinderella.
The world or Pinky. He hated to make the choice. He already knew the choice. "Drat," he whispered and scurried from the chair to get backstage. He ran up the aisle and headed down halls blocked off from the public, sprinting down them. By the time he made it to the curtains, he was panting. Slumping against the wall, he pressed his free hand to his thumping heart. His other still kept a hold of the ticket with it's simple little note that meant everything.
He knew the moment Pinky caught sight of him. His movements didn't cease, but his head stayed turned a moment longer than it should've and those big blue eyes stayed bigger than they needed to for a long while.
Brain wondered if he wasn't too late. Pinky would be on stage until... Until after that dance with the prince and the stroke of midnight. When that occurred, Pinky was flee the prince and make his way offstage, so the prince could perform a melancholy solo and locate the lost slipper. That was his chance and, of course, he was on the wrong side of the stage.
Brain looked around for a few minutes before he saw a path. He scrambled up a ladder to get to the catwalk and made his way carefully across it to get to the other side. He nearly fell at one point, clinging tightly to the ticket and a bar. After a panicked glance downward - oh, the fall wouldn't kill him but it would certainly ruin the show and he ran the risk of landing directly onto Pinky - Brain managed to get back up and finished the trek.
Clinging to the curtain, he watched from the side. Pinky was spinning and spinning and spinning... It was enough to make anyone dizzy, but there was a small smile on the mouse's face. But the gong struck and the spinning halted perfectly, exactly. Pinky leapt carefully towards one end of the stage, Christophe following, but then Pinky stopped and twirled and, with a flurry of movement, left the prince and a shoe behind.
He grabbed Brain, spinning him into a tight embrace. "Oh, Brain!" he whispered. "You came! Oh, I'm so glad!" He gave him a loving nuzzle and Brain felt something squeeze his heart. Beautifully wonderful idiot who couldn't keep grudges.
Pinky caught sight of the ticket then, and blinked. "I think you're supposed to let the man up front tear that, Brain."
"No, I... I wanted to keep it."
"'Kay." Easily accepting, Pinky rocked happily until he heard someone hiss his false name. "Egad, Brain! I have to change!" He ran off and Brain immediately followed, capturing his hand. "Brain, you're not supposed to come with me."
"I need to talk to you, Pinky."
Smiling, Pinky gave his hand a squeeze and kept going. "Did you hear what I said when I left you the ticket, Brain? I said I'd dance how you want me too. I did. I promise I will, and you'll have the whole world."
Brain was quiet, releasing Pinky's hand once they reached the dressing room. "Go change, Pinky. I'll talk to you after."
"'Kay!" Pinky was back in record time, in his tattered-looking tutu. He found Brain again, holding onto his arm. "Okay, Brain! Are we going to talk about everything now?"
"There's no time to talk to you about everything. But we can talk about the important things."
"Right, Brain." Pinky watched him expectantly and Brain found himself unable to speak. He wrung his hands together nervously before placing his hands on either side of Pinky's face and just pulling down for a careful, hesitant kiss.
"Brain," Pinky whispered, not pulling away so the way their lips moved together made a shiver go down Brain's spine. "I thought... You don't wanna break up?"
"Break up?" Brain wondered, leaning a millimeter forward for another light kiss.
"Mmhm." Pinky's arms found themselves around Brain to keep him close. "You said we weren't in a relationship..." The memory made his ears wilt and his gaze slide away. "And that I was useless. Poit. So... Isn't that breaking up? But this is new. This is definitely what people in love do."
"Pinky, no, I was wr-wr..." It was difficult to say that particular word, so he pressed Pinky into another kiss. "It was a mistake." He didn't want to lose a relationship he hadn't fully known he was involved in. "I didn't mean what I said."
Pinky's eyes grew wide. "You didn't, Brain?"
"Natasha!" someone hissed. "Quickly! Your cue!"
"Egad!" Pinky sprang into action, dragging Brain to the wings. "I have to go, Brain. Um... Will we do more kissy things later?"
"We... Wait." He grabbed Pinky's snout, dragging him back down. "Don't do my steps," he ordered and released his friend.
Pinky rubbed his nose, looking about as confused as normal. "Wuh- But why not, Brain? Don't you want to take over the world?"
Brain swallowed hard. "I want you to take me to the party more."
With a delighted sound, Pinky swept Brain off his feet and twirled happily. The kiss he gave wasn't nearly as light as the ones Brain had given him, and ended as the music changed. "I love you, Brain!"
"Yes, yes. Now go. You're... beautiful when you dance, Pinky."
"Oh, Brain..." Time was up, so Pinky had to go. His bright, lovesick smile was entirely real as he danced with himself, pretending that he was dancing with the prince. But his step-mother soon locked him up and it was time for his final solo.
Brain sighed quietly, letting the moving piece work its way through him. The world was watching Pinky dance, as planned. But they weren't getting hypnotized, and he had to take a deep, steadying breath. The world was slipping through his fingers...
But when the show was over and their bows were taken, he had Pinky in his arms and a mind-fogging kiss against his lips and it was suddenly all right. There would be other plans. There would never be another Pinky.
The show had finished its run in California and the company was headed to New York and then Europe. Brain wasn't entirely surprised by the news, but he was a bit fidgety over it. They'd only had two plans the entire time - both failures, but Brain blamed that on his lack of experience with new technology. And what he and Pinky did after certainly softened the blow. His friend - lover - certainly had boundless energy.
A trip to New York would take him away from the lab and cut down on the plot possibilities. A trip to Europe... Well, he imagined he wouldn't be able to do a thing. But if Pinky wanted to go and continue dancing, Brain already knew he wouldn't be able to say no. They'd manage somehow. There were labs overseas; he'd sneak into one for supplies if need be.
"Oh, no. I can't go." Brain looked up, as stunned as the rest of the cast at Pinky's words. "My home's here!"
"But you can come back!" Christophe protested. "You must come! You are Cinderella!"
"Oh, no." He giggled, shaking his head. "I'm Pinky. Zort. Anyway, it was lots of fun and I can dance again later! But now I want to stay home with Brain." He looked over, lashes fluttering when he caught sight of his boyfriend, and giggled again. Boyfriend - he liked calling Brain that. "We're in love, you see. And we're going to take over the world!" He ran over to Brain, throwing his arms around the smaller mouse without warning. "Right, Brain? Narf!"
"We're in love," he quietly agreed and a small smile passed over his features, a familiar gleam in his eyes. "And the world will soon be ours." The gleam changed to one that Pinky was quickly growing to love. "Much, much later tonight."
I couldn't be arsed to split it up