The door was wide open. Brain had dislodged it just enough to allow a cat to slink through.
The two mice clung tightly to each other as their eyes darted about wildly for any signs of whiskers or a glimmer of night vision. Pinky whimpered piteously and Brain very much felt like doing the same. He could smell it now and it inspired feelings of terror previously unknown to him. He thought storms were scary, he'd take a hundred storms before having to go through this again.
Brain patted Pinky's back to give him some reassurance, but it only sent him back into the cage. "Quick, Brain! It can't get us in here!" He'd gone straight to the wheel.
"No, Pinky." Brain stepped inside the cage, staying close to the opening. "We can't hide in here or we'll never get out."
"But Brain!" Pinky scurried over to him and tugged on his arm repetitively. "The cat!"
Brain dislodged Pinky from his arm. "We'll just have to outsmart it. That shouldn't be too difficult… we've been genetically enhanced. This is just some common house cat trained to keep… outside mice and rats from contaminating the experiments… it'll be easy."
Pinky's lip quivered. "I've never seen a cat before, Brain. What if it's really scary?"
"Trust me, Pinky, if you stay close to me, you won't even have to look at the cat." Or so he hoped. Inside Brain trembled at the thought of having to face one of their top predators.
The two mice poked their heads out of the cage, Brain looked right while Pinky looked left. Slowly and warily, Brain tip-toed out of the cage and along the length of the counter with Pinky close behind. None of the other lab animals made a sound. The scent of cat thick in the air. Even those in their cages did not feel safe.
Suddenly, Brain jumped out of his skin as he felt something brush against his tail. "Pinky!" He hissed, his heart thundering like a stampede. "Don't do that!"
Pinky smiled sheepishly, Brain's tail gripped tightly in both of Pinky's paws. "Sorry, Brain."
Allowing his companion to continue to hold on, the duo slinked behind books and shelves and gadgets. The Brain made sure to stay as close to the wall as possible, best to have as little vulnerable spots as possible. The air tingled with a sensation akin to electricity, it made their fur rise and their noses twitch.
The pair inched around the corner of a shelf. Brain couldn't help but grin with satisfaction at the sight that met them. The door was within their reach! They only had to scuttle across the floor and out, practically home free. Unfortunately, the floor was a very open place to be. No cover to shield them from the night vision of a predatory feline.
Brain turned to Pinky, who still held on to his tail as he gazed at Brain with such trust. It almost made him choke. Clearing his throat, he brought Pinky's face close to his so he didn't have to raise his voice.
"Pinky, listen to me. We're going to run for the door, okay? Do you see it?" He turned Pinky's entire head so it faced the door and waited for the nod. "Good. Now, on three, we run. Don't stop, no matter what. Just keep running."
"Right, Brain. Just one question."
"How many after one is three?"
Brain gave Pinky's nose a reprimanding tug, not enough to hurt, but just enough to let him know he was not pleased. "Just follow me."
The sprint started off with no foreseeable problems. He was on all fours, primitive but effective, and could hear the light panting of his friend behind him. His heart thumping in his chest, his paws slick with sweat, but he was getting closer, they were so close!
A large wall of fur fell from above them, hissing and flexing her claws as she stood before the door. She kicked out her hind leg and closed the door. Brain skidded to a stop, changing direction immediately. Her mouth full of sharp teeth had been open and waiting for the little mice to slide right inside. The Brain could hear her hiss angrily, which led him to believe Pinky was still following him. Chancing a backwards glance, his eyes met the wide blue ones of his companion before being drawn to the leaping feline.
"Split up, Pinky!" He hollered, diving towards the left.
"Whu? NAARF!" The little mouse squealed as the cat brushed his tail on her landing, but it motivated him to scamper off to the right.
The last thing he wanted was to be separated from his friend again, but the logical part of his brain encouraged and reassured him that they'd be more difficult to catch this way. It was the safest course of action.
Brain climbed up the counter, hoping to find a vantage point where he could survey the lab and perhaps locate Pinky. With a lot of heaving and grappling, he managed to hoist himself up onto relatively high shelf. Crouching low, he peered out across the lab, spotting the cat almost immediately. Her belly pressed to the floor as she swiped one paw out in front of her, spitting and hissing at an enclosed corner. His blood ran cold, she'd cornered Pinky! In her frustration, she slammed into the file cabinets Pinky must've wedged himself between, the force allowing her to squeeze through a little more. If she kept it up, he realized, she could easily create enough space to snatch up Pinky in her claws.
Hastily searching the shelf he was on, Brain located a glass jar. He pushed it over the edge, watching the cat as it shattered. Her head lifted as she turned in the direction of the noise. Her eyes glinted in the darkness, focused right on his shelf. Her tail flicked and Brain swallowed. There was movement behind the feline, a flash of white, but he had no time to focus as the cat sprung to the counter to the shelf. Brain jumped to another level of the shelf, one below him, as the cat dove for where he'd last been.
The shelf wobbled dangerously, then tipped forward. Brain felt as though the floor was approaching awfully slowly despite their fall.
The horrific crash startled Pinky out of his new hiding spot, he'd seen The Brain on the tall shelf, but now it was on the floor and not very tall at all. "Brain?" Pinky called out, he didn't see that cat anymore, so he chanced wandering over to the shelf.
A lot of objects had been flung about, and that's where he found his friend, nearly crushed beneath several large bookends and glass and wood. The little mouse gasped, avoiding any of the sharp pieces and made his way to where Brain was groaning. They both froze when they heard some shifting over to the side, but the cat didn't make an appearance, so Pinky continued to hop over.
"Brain, are you alright?" He asked, sniffing around at the things that piled up on him. "That was a big fall!"
Brain grunted as he squirmed about, but then released a high-pitched wail that scared Pinky right out of his skin. "Oww…" Brain's voice cracked as he squeezed his eyes shut.
"What hurts, Brain? What can I do?" Pinky buzzed about him, desperate to be useful to his friend.
Brain whimpered, too far gone from the pain to even care how pathetic it sounded. "My tail…"
With a glance towards Brain's lower half, which was covered with knick knacks, Pinky started nudging the weight off him until the smaller mouse could crawl out. The pair gazed down at his tail, once straight and smooth was now broken and jagged. Unable to lament the pain in his tail properly, for the cat started shifting again, the little mice bolted for a new, more effective hiding place.
Curled up, under the fridge, Pinky hesitantly touched Brain's crooked tail. "Egad, Brain… your tail's all ziggy-zaggy."
Before Pinky could even get a good feel, Brain moved it out of the way and snapped: "Don't touch it!"
"But, Brain." Pinky tilted his head, concern shining in those big blue eyes. "You need to take care of your owie."
Brain swallowed thickly, knowing Pinky was right, and hesitantly moved beside his eccentric friend. "Be gentle, Pinky."
"Of course, Brain! I don't want to make you hurt worse!" Pinky declared, indignant with his paws on his hips.
He cupped the damaged tail so lightly, Brain hardly felt it save for the twinges as the appendage moved. Brain bit down hard on his lower lip and squeezed his eyes shut, clenching his fists as Pinky's fingers ran up from the base of the tail to the tip. Then the touch was gone. By the time Brain opened his eyes, Pinky was already gone. His heart jumped. The cat could've recovered by now! What was that idiot thinking?
Before his panic could increase, Pinky popped his head back under the fridge and with him came a roll of bandages. Brain raised a brow, watching as Pinky fiddled with the tape, getting most of it wrapped around his ears and paws before he finally secured it around Brain's tail. It didn't really make it feel any better, but he did appreciate the effort his friend went to.
Brain sighed as Pinky pet his tail soothingly, stiffening when he felt something brush against it. Whipping his head around, he stared wide-eyed at Pinky as his assumption was confirmed. His friend gently pressed his lips to the injured tail, then looked up at beamed at him, his own tail swishing behind him with enthusiasm.
"Pinky, what…?" Brain blinked at the innocent act, completely befuddled by it.
"I kissed it better, Brain!" Pinky remained smiling, completely oblivious to his friend's wonderment. "It's what you do when you get owies. It makes it all go away! Narf!" He giggled, carefully setting his tail back down before clasping his paws together and turning his eager eyes to his friend. "Does it feel better now, Brain?"
It didn't really. His tail still throbbed and a simple bandage wouldn't help it set properly, so it would most likely heal in this crooked position… yet The Brain nodded, reaching out and patting Pinky's head. "Yes. Thank you, Pinky."
Pinky went to throw his arms around him, but at Brain's withering look he stopped himself. Grinning sheepishly, he settled for cuddling up next to him instead which Brain allowed. They could hear the cat scratching about outside, but they were far enough under the fridge that her claws could not reach them. It was dusty, and less than ideal, but it would do for now. When better rested, Brain would concoct a plan to get them out of there and back to the cage.
"Precious! What's gotten into you?"
Brain startled awake, feeling Pinky jolt beside him moments later. They heard the disgruntled mewling of the cat, could also see her eye from the crack between the fridge and the floor until she was scooped up and a pair of shoes took her place. Brain deduced morning had come; perfect. Time to implement his scheme, surely they wouldn't have that cat out and about while letting the other rodents loose. They could easily slip away unnoticed.
"Pinky, now's our chance." Brain whispered, moving to stand, wincing at the effort. His tail still ached, it would make running difficult. "We're going to hide under the table closest to the door. The humans come in and out of them so often, there will be plenty of chances for us to slip out when they do. We'll be back to the cage before you can say infallible." He paused for a moment. "Actually, that gives us a lifetime. Scratch that."
"Scratch what?" Pinky tilted his head.
Brain slapped a paw to his face. "Never mind, Pinky. Just follow."
"But Brain, last time we tried to run you got hurt!" Pinky ran in front of him, blocking the exit with an expression of concern on his features. "I don't want you to get hurt again!"
Ears wilting as he scowled at his companion, he tried to ignore how nice it felt to be the cause of someone's concern. "Pinky, I'll be fine."
"How do you know?"
He didn't know, but they'd never get out from under this fridge if he didn't say something to calm him down. "I am The Brain, I'm never wrong."
It was egotistical, yes, but it accomplished what he set out to do. Pinky relaxed and finally let Brain pass so he could examine what was going on out in the lab. The human who had picked up the cat, apparently dubbed "Precious", was now examined the fallen shelf.
Brain rolled his eyes, then eyed the distance between them and the door. It was a stretch, but they could make it, especially since the cat was being scolded and would not be able to catch them should they be spotted. On all fours he ran out, wincing as his tail pained him. Pinky did as he was told, following right behind Brain, and the pair almost reached the door when-
"How did you two get out?" A foot blocked their path, and suddenly they were being raised up by another one of the scientists. "Precious! No playing with the lab animals! You know that!"
Cupped in the same palm, Pinky latched onto Brain, nuzzling him gently in apology when he hastily squished his crooked tail between them. It didn't stop Brain from glaring at him though. Nonetheless, he grabbed onto Pinky in return. These humans weren't going to take him away again, not while he had something to say about it.
"You know which cage these mice belong in?" The human carrying them asked around, but no one could seem to recall. They had so many mice after all, left over from the botched Project B.R.A.I.N. experiment, no one could really tell them apart.
"Here's an empty cage, just stick them in here. We can use them for behavioral testing."
So the two mice were placed in the cage Pinky had been in the night before. Brain looked about, he hadn't really taken in the appearance of the cage the night before, too concerned with springing Pinky from his prison, but now he noted how spacious it was for two little mice such as themselves. It was also near a window, as well as a globe, stacks of books, office supplies and some other scientific devices. The bars were a greenish color, and there was a wheel and some bedding and water bottle, all the basics for a cage.
When the door clicked shut, he supposed they'd have to wait until night once more…
Did they even have to leave?
The Brain looked over at his companion, his friend, his family. The little mouse was licking himself, trying to remove the scent of human hands, no doubt. Blue eyes glanced up when he finally realized Brain was staring, they lit up with his smile. Brain smiled back, rolling his eyes when such a simple response sent Pinky into a fit of narf-giggles.
He had all that he needed right here, didn't he?
"Pinky, are you pondering what I'm pondering?" Brain asked, brushing off his fur as he inspected the cage more thoroughly.
Pinky popped up beside him. "I think so, Brain! But I like crackers more than bacon."
Brain blinked. "No, Pinky… that's not it at all."
"Oh." Pinky looked up at the ceiling thoughtfully, then shrugged. "What's 'pondering'?"
"Thinking." Brain clarified.
With a snort, Pinky spun in a circle. "Well, I don't do much of that, Brain! Narf!"
"Indeed." Brain sighed, grabbing hold of Pinky's tail to stop the spinning. "No, I was pondering that we don't really have to leave this cage. I mean, what's waiting for us back in that other room except for a cramped cage and ignorant simpletons?"
"My paper clip!" Pinky tugged on Brain's arm. "And my push pin! And the lovely drawing you gave me!"
Brain had to stare at his friend as he struggled to comprehend him once again. "Alright, yes, besides that."
"Ummm… poit." Pinky stuck his tongue out as he tried to think. "I dunno, Brain."
"Exactly, Pinky. There isn't anything save for some of our personal items. Why, we'd be much better off in our own cage. We can be the masters of our own lifestyle!" Brain gestured grandly, the cage all theirs for the taking. "We can fetch our belongings at some point, I promise, Pinky." The little mouse looked excited about that. "Especially since it doesn't seem that 'Precious' will be prowling around any time soon." Both mice watched as the bitter cat was placed in a carrier to be taken out of the lab, some of the assistants still cleaning up the mess from last night. "She won't be bothering us, Pinky."
"I hope she has a nice vacation." Pinky chirped, his tail wagging as he poked his head through the bars. "Zort!"
Brain hummed in response, satisfied that Pinky seemed to take to the idea of having their very own cage. He strolled away from the bars of the cage, going to see how close the books were to him and if he could possibly open one for some reading. Suddenly, he was tumbling forward, his tail releasing a jab of pain as he rolled. Landing on his stomach, he sighed as he registered Pinky's familiar weight on top of him.
"Let's play, Brain!" He laughed, pawing at Brain's ear so that it twitched. "No one's here to bother us, so we can play all day long, can't we? None of those meanie-mean mice can do anything about it! Narf!"
It was true, they could play. But he really wanted to read.
"Puh-leeeeeeez, Brain?" Pinky was now nosing his ear in a pitiful way, though he could still feel the shifting of that tail of his.
"I don't think so, Pinky. Not right now." Brain replied, grinning when he felt Pinky hop off him with a sad little sigh. He waited until Pinky had turned around, ears drooped and tail sagging, then he pounced. "Got ya! You should know better than to fall for that, Pinky!"
"Egad, Brain!" And the pair of mice ran about the cage, playing as they wished.
Just the two of them. And neither would have it any other way.
The final chapter!
Egad, it's so sad. Oh that rhymes!
Well, there's still technically the epilogue... but that's just for fun and it will be decently short.
It's mostly to introduce Brain's plans for world domination, but it still goes along with all of this.
I hope you all enjoyed reading this story as much as I liked writing it! It's my baby and I'll miss it, but we gotta let them go some time, right? xD Plus, I've got so many other babies that need attention now lol. Best to keep on trucking!