While Pinky waited for Brain to come back he had wanted to watch Anya try on her fancy new dress and get all made up for the big party, but he'd been given specific instructions to stay with Vlad, so stay with him he did. Although he ended up having to perch himself high up on a shelf to stay out of reach of Pooka. He'd tried to explain to the puppy that they needed to tone down their friendship, that it made Brain feel sad to see him playing with him so regularly and affectionately, but Pooka just started licking him, which tickled terribly, sending him running about in search of hiding places. But there were only so many places one could hide while following directions, and Pooka just thought it was another game of hide-and-seek.

Luckily, the pup had to be primped and dressed up as well, which Vlad saw to as he decorated himself with various medals. Pinky peered down at him, already dressed up for the party, he and Brain got ready at the hotel in their little suits. He'd really wanted to bring the boa this time, but it seemed to just make The Brain all flustered. Which seemed to be happening quite a bit since the previous night.

Pinky took a few moments to daydream about their activities, still all a-flutter, a goofy grin on his face as his heart sped up a little. Oh, he did love Brain so, so much. He couldn't wait until he came back from meeting with the Grand Eclair, maybe he'd let them dance together at the party. A light blush painted his cheeks and he hugged himself tightly. And surely he'd be pleased that he wasn't... how would Brain put it? Fooling around with that mutt? Something like that. Maybe once Brain was happily ruling the world and sure that Pinky loved him most of all, he wouldn't mind him playing so much.

"You look FABULOUS!" Vlad's exclamation startled Pinky out of his ponderings, sending him crashing from his seat to the floor. He'd been addressing Pooka, who was now dolled up in a little harness with a sword and crown as Vlad set him on a pedestal beside the mirror. Pinky had to admit that Pooka looked awfully precious as a little puppy prince, once the room stopped spinning and he lowered the amount of Pookas he was looking at to four. Or was that three?

Entering the room, Dimitri cleared his throat to get Vlad's attention. "Well. If you're ever in St. Petersburg again, look me up." He took a step forward, clasping Vlad's hand.

When the handshake became a hug, Brain leapt from one shoulder to the other and then down to the table Pooka was still seated at. He'd expected Pinky to be with the mutt and was a bit surprised that he wasn't. "Are the two of you playing some insipid game?" he wondered and got a full-bodied lick for the effort. "Ugh."

"Brain!" Pinky sat up quickly, so quickly that he just toppled over onto his back, his head still dizzy. But he laughed through it and tried again more slowly, waving to the mouse on the pedestal once he situated himself. "Narf! Down here!" He was so fixated on Brain that the conversation between the two humans didn't resonate with him at all. While Vlad advised Dimitri that he was making a terrible mistake, Pinky simply beamed up at his cagemate with that same adoring smile he'd been subjecting Brain to all morning.

He could feel the blush starting to rise, so rubbed a hand over his face to avoid seeing the expression. Was it possible to make rules about smiles? He was certain there was, but he was equally as certain that Pinky wouldn't follow them. He took a leap from the table and brushed himself off as he went towards his friend, scowling. "We've been ruined, Pinky."

Patting his hands up and down his body to see if anything had gone awry, Pinky cast Brain a perplexed look. "I think we're still normal, Brain." He reached out to pat him as well, just in case appearances were deceiving him. "Poit. Yep! You still look rather fetching to me!"

The bop Brain delivered was less harsher than originally intended thanks to the compliment, but the inanity of the response still deserved punishment of some kind. "No, Pinky, the plan. Dimitri didn't take the reward, which meant that I couldn't. He's ruined it yet again and it's that girl's fault!"

Pinky rubbed the top of his head, switching the focus of his gaze to Dimitri. The man had stopped to pet Pooka, saying goodbye to the forlorn pup, appearing rather morose himself albeit feigning a smile. "He doesn't look very happy, Brain. I thought he and Miss Anya made up." It took him a minute or two to comprehend Brain's complete displeasure. "Whuu- can't you ask Miss Anya to let you have the reward? She's letting Vlad dress up all fancy, I'm sure she'd let you too. Troz." He suggested in an attempt to console him.

"Of course they didn't make up, Pinky. He's returning to St. Petersburg tonight and we're-" The original plan had been that he and Pinky would go along with him, but as Pinky's words registered his scowl faded. He grasped the mouse's shoulders, dragging him down to eye level. "That's brilliant, Pinky!" He'd been entirely too caught up in the moroseness of failure to have not thought of such a simple solution. "We'll discuss it with her at the party."

"Hooray!" He cheered, tail wagging and his cheeks coloring with the pleasure of knowing he helped. But then the first part of what Brain said caught up with him. "Wait, poit, Dimitri's leaving? But, but they're in love!"

"Well, yes, they are. But she's a princess and he's a servant. Or was, at any rate." Brain shrugged; it was obvious enough to him and maybe things would go smoother if Dimitri wasn't around to screw things up. "He's leaving so she can have her family."

"But that's so sad!" Pinky sniffled; if people who were in love were leaving each other, no wonder Brain thought he wouldn't stick around! Such bad influences. He'd have to have a stern talking to with Dimitri about the importance of love!

"It's reality, Pinky." Though something about that statement felt oddly ironic. "Not everyone can have a happy ending."

He looked over when Dimitri knelt beside them, a hand offered. "You two coming?"

"We have other plans," Brain informed him.

Pinky on the other hand frowned up at him, his pout clearly present and his brow knit together in a stern manner. "Hey, Mr. Runaway Train! You can't just leave when the tough gets going! Love is a very very very-narf!-very serious thing! You can't question every bop to the head or every umm... zort! Life is like a box of chocolates, after all, you've got to bite into every one of them and some of them are really icky but if you don't try them you'll never find the really tasty ones!" His arms crossed as he nodded resolutely, overall convinced by his own argument.

Dimitri smiled sadly. "I'm sorry, Pinky. I'm leaving because it's a serious thing." He rose, giving the two a nod. "Good luck," he said before stepping over them to leave.

Sighing, Brain gave his side a pat. "It was a decent attempt."

Ears wilting and jaw dropping, he'd been so sure that his speech would work!, Pinky watched Dimitri's exit with sinking spirits. "But... but, why? Poit." True love was supposed to solve everyone's problems! Not chase people away. He yanked Brain tightly against his side, his hug practically smothering and desperate. "This isn't how the story is supposed to go! What about 'happily ever after'?" He cried out.

"Pinky!" he gasped, hardly able to breathe. "Let go!"

He complied, but his upset didn't diminish. "But Brain! He's making you think bad things!"

Pooka, bearing witness to Pinky's unsettled mood, leapt down from the table and slid over to the pair of mice. Before Pinky could protest, the puppy gave him a long, wet lick up his front. An attempt to play with the typically chipper mouse no doubt.

"No, Pooka!" Pinky pushed his nose away, unable to look at his friend as he chastised him.

A little taken aback, Brain looked from the mutt to the mouse. "You usually enjoy being licked, Pinky. Does Dimitri's departure upset you that much?"

The puppy whined softly, and Pinky found it very hard to resist apologizing and give him a hug. But if it was for Brain, he would. "No, I don't like it." He folded his arms behind his back as he lied, jumping at the chance to bring it back around to the two humans. It was awfully hard to to lie. "And I just don't want Miss Anya and Dimitri to break their hearts. It sounds painful, Brain."

Brain wrapped a hand around Pinky's snout, jerking him down. "I know you like to be licked, Pinky." The realization of just how personal that may sound out of context had color rising in his cheeks. Still, he pressed on. He didn't want Pinky to start behaving stranger than his normal levels of ludicrousness, particularly since he'd clearly hurt Pooka's feelings. That was so out of character for his big-hearted, soft-headed companion. "Don't lie to me."

Face to face with Brain, Pinky knew he couldn't keep up the act. Especially with his pretty pink eyes boring into his own. They weren't very happy. "But, Brain, I don't want to make you all mad and sad and lonely." He chanced a glance over to Pooka, but it was brief for he couldn't keep his eyes from being drawn back to Brain. "So, I won't like it anymore. Troz."

"Pinky..." It wasn't often that something he said stuck in Pinky's mind. "You told me Pooka's only your friend, and I believe you." Brain touched their noses together, rubbed gently. Soft-hearted idiot. "Go play with him. I need to discuss policy with Vlad as it is."

"Really, Brain?" Pinky's ears lifted, his eyes lighting up as he brushed his nose right back.

"Yes, really." He lifted his hands to straighten Pinky's bowtie as it gave him an excuse to stay nearby. "Pinky, you have the biggest heart in all the world. Don't try and change that. I like you as you are."

Pinky blinked at Brain, his eyes growing wide. He knew he liked him, he really did. But he didn't hear it all that often. His heart fluttered in his chest as he gave Brain one of his gentlest hugs. It wasn't often he received sincere compliments from his most important person, so he drank it all in with a soft nuzzle. "Thank you, Brain." Pinky sighed, affection coating his tone. "I love you."

Brain leaned into the embrace, sighing quietly at the nuzzle. Pinky's general hugs were exuberant and wild, so the gentle touch was a pleasant surprise and the words warmed him more than he wanted to admit. "I... I know you do, Pinky." He reached up, stroked the curve of Pinky's ear. "Go play now. You need to work off your excess energy since you'll need to behave at the party."

Nodding, Pinky released him while bearing a broad smile. "Right, Brain! Narf!" He offered up a salute before whirling around to face the puppy who still observed them, waiting for his friend to be ready to play. "Pooka! Let's play hide and seek, 'kay?" An excited bark confirmed that he approved of this idea. "You hide first!"

Brain shook his head before climbing up to the tabletop to ask Vlad more about the imperial court and its members. Or what remained of them.

-8-8-

Miss Anya had yet to reveal herself to the congregation, tentatively peering out from behind the curtain concealing her. Pinky didn't know why she wasn't out and dancing with everyone else, the party was in her honor after all. She must really have missed Dimitri, though he didn't blame her for that. You didn't just leave when you loved somebody, you made it work!

There wasn't much time for him to dwell on this particular train of thought, far too distracted by the way Brain had suggested they dance along with the rest of the nobles. Mingle, was the term he'd used, but Pinky wasted no time in sweeping him up and sashaying away. Nuzzling him gently, pressing their cheeks together as he spun, dizzy from both the dancing and the relief that Brain no longer worried about his friends. It had kept his spirits high all day, doing the opposite of Brain's hopes that he'd calm down after playing with Pooka, he was only more excited and giddy.

But perhaps he should slow their dance down, keep Brain more inclined to let it continue. Besides, making himself dizzy certainly wouldn't do any good, he'd fall on his face and then the dance would be over. Slowing the tempo into a waltz reminiscent of the one on the boat, Pinky forgot about Miss Anya's strange behavior and focused instead on the weight and warmth of Brain.

Leave it to Pinky to slow down as the music's tempo sped up, but Brain was immeasurably thankful for it nonetheless. He was positive that he wouldn't be able to walk straight if Pinky were to set him down, which was one of the only reasons he hadn't demanded to be put down in the first place. There was also the fact that without Pinky's dumb luck and odd sense of timing, he probably would've been squished on his own.

And, well, he did enjoy being pressed so close. He closed his eyes to help steady himself and sighed quietly. They weren't doing much mingling; Brain was fairly certain that the pair of them hadn't even been noticed. If Anya would just show herself, that had the potential to change. His eyes opened so he could make sure that she indeed hadn't come out yet, and gave Pinky a nuzzle to make sure he had the taller mouse's attention. "Pinky, you're getting too far from the thrones again."

"Oh. Narf. Sorry, Brain." Pinky giggled, twirling his way back over the thrones. He got decently close, enough so he could see Pooka and how bored the puppy looked. Maybe after they took over the world he'd help him find a date too. Then he could have someone to dance with.

Brain resisted the urge to scowl at the dog. A mutt at the thrones - it was just another reason to overthrow the humans. He ignored the irritating voice in his head that pointed out how likely Pinky was to do the same type of thing. It didn't matter as much when it was Pinky. He tightened his hold on his partner, rubbing their cheeks together.

Making a happy little sound, Pinky stroked up and down Brain's back, almost closing his eyes. "Brain..." Whatever he was going to say, because there had been something on his mind, was instantly forgotten in the face of a small green glow. His eyes widened as he tried to place the little flying bat-like creature, it was over near Pooka, startling him from his boredom. Gradually, Pinky came to a stop, his head muscles hurting from his attempts to pinpoint the thing. Suddenly it snatched Pooka's smart little harness right off him, several of its little friends helping it carry the thing away.

Pooka barked in protest and Pinky remembered being on the train and the boat as well. The green glowing things had been trying to mess up their trip. As the puppy darted behind the curtain after them, Pinky dropped Brain in his own panic. "Brain! It's those glowing thingies again! Zort! They took Pooka's outfit!" He hurried after his friend, those green bats had been awfully tricky, he didn't want him to be alone with them.

The glowing thingies? Brain had thought that particular delusion was behind them; he hadn't heard anything more about them since the train. Pinky's imaginings rarely repeated themselves like this. He got back to his feet and went after him, scowling. "Pinky, stop it!" The dog was barking, running right out the French doors behind the throne area. Wonderful. A shared delusion. "We don't have time for this!"

"Pooka!" Anya had noticed her dog's agitation, somewhat grateful for the distraction as she still seemed unsure whether to join the party or remain behind the curtain. She picked up her dress, lightly jogging over to the doors to try and call him back again.

Pinky grabbed onto the large skirt of Anya's dress, looking over his shoulder at Brain. "But those thingies are mean, Brain! They might hurt him! They tried to make our train stop and they tried to get Miss Anya on the boat!"

"What in the world are you talking about?" Brain jumped, grabbing the dress and making his way closer to Pinky. They were headed into the back gardens now, the area a veritable maze. "This is ridiculous!"

"The green thingies, Brain! I told you about them, poit." Well, to be fair, he'd quite forgotten about them on the boat and hadn't told Brain about them, but that didn't mean they hadn't been there too. He knew he'd seen them... he just didn't know or notice where they'd disappeared to. "Remember? Pooka and I saw them on the train, and then they came back on the boat right before Miss Anya and I went outside in the rain. I forgot to tell you that time, but they were there too!"

Anya had picked up the pace, losing sight of Pooka and having to rely on only his barks as she entered the maze. Pinky let go of the dress with one hand to hold onto Brain, they were being jostled about quite a bit and he didn't want him to fall.

She spun around suddenly, discovering that the opening in the grass wall had suddenly overgrown. Eyes widening, Brain latched onto Pinky. There was a green glow to their left, Pooka's barking coming from that direction. So Anya continued. "What on earth...?" Brain muttered, highly displeased and more than willing to ignore any fear. Well, he was trying to do that at any rate.

"Pooka!" Pinky cried out, hearing the pup's distressing barks made him feel chilled inside. The green glowed faded suddenly, shrouding the maze in darkness. Anya gasped softly, spinning around as the wind whispered around them. Pinky tightened his grip on Brain, his ears plastering themselves to his head.

The barking came closer, and Anya sighed in relief as she saw Pooka emerge from around the corner. "Pooka, there you are." She crooned, to reassure both the puppy and herself as she knelt down to pick him up.

Pinky also released a breath he hadn't been aware of holding, the uneasiness subsiding for now despite their predicament. With Pooka safe in Anya's arms they could leave now. But a harsh whisper echoed all around them, startling the princess into a run, away from how they'd come in. "Brain, what's that sound?" Pinky ducked his head, burying it in the fabric of her dress as they were whisked along once again.

"I don't- Nyaaa..." Long, thorned branches reached out, the whispering voice calling out to the girl. "Why do all the odd things happen to us?" Brain lamented as Anya tripped and fell to the ground, dislodging the mice and sending them tumbling off to her side with Pooka.

They were on a bridge now, the entrance to the maze barricaded by the thorns and branches. There wasn't even any room for the two mice to wiggle through without risking damage. Anya stood up and brushed off her dress, not even looking at her new surroundings just yet. Rising shakily to his feet, Pinky stumbled over to Pooka. He patted his side reassuringly, but was knocked to the ground as the pup swung around to growl at a new presence.


skimmingsurfaces:

Dun dun DUN! Will anything ever go right for poor Brain? xDDD
This plan was just not meant to be lol. But at least he got a date out of it!
But now he's on a bridge! (I'm sensing a recurring theme here...) What will happen on this bridge in particular? All sorts of fun-fun silly-willy things!

Oh! And good news! The next chapter is the last chapter! Yay!


Mememe:

No. Nothing will ever go right for poor Brain

Except Pinky :D With all his fails, he is everything right!

All the bridges XD Except the sad bridges, which this one may turn out being~