Part of the project StarShineDC and I are working on where we take Pinky's ponderings and write fics for them! It's like a 100 theme challenge but with ponderings! Egad, brilliant! Narf! I picked the pondering for this one lol and we co-wrote it together!


"I think so, Brain, but if the plural of mouse is mice, wouldn't the plural of spouse be spice?"

-8-8-

"Mices who are spices! Spicy micey spicy dicey narf!" Pinky sing-songed, twirling around the lab in his apron and chef hat. It was time for his favorite cooking show, Raquel Rey's 30 Second Snacks, and he had to be prepared! He had his little dollhouse kitchen set already placed in front of the TV. It had a little stove/oven combo and teeny oven mitts and a bowl! Oh, he just loved the bowl. So many happy things happened inside bowls. Like cereal!

"Hi, guys," the woman greeted over-excitedly on the TV screen and Pinky said his own hello back. "Today's show is going to be a real 'kick'. It's all about spice." She laughed at her own joke, and the lanky mouse did as well, until the word choice sank in and he looked up at the screen curiously.

"Spice?" Pinky tapped his chin and tilted his head.

"That's right. When used properly, spice can add that extra bit of heat needed in the kitchen." Oh, silly Raquel Rey, spice did more than just heat up the kitchen. They heated the bathroom and the bedroom and the car and the counter with all sorts of love things! Wait. Why was she putting spice in food?

"Egad! You can cook married people?" He gaped at the TV.

"See here? My favorite, paprika, marries well with cumin, a spice worth having. It'll really make the flavor pop!"

Wide blue eyes blinked and Pinky hummed thoughtfully as he watched her sprinkle bits of two containers of spices together. "Oh... poit. Maybe certain things need to be cooked in order to be married! Oh, that makes sense!" he laughed in relief. "So she's marrying them in the soup! Brilliant!"

As he watched the episode continue, with more marriages happening in different yummy foods, it got Pinky to looking towards the little kitchen area the lab had. There were a couple of those jar-sprinkle things in there. Egad, so many lonely spice without their spouse! He certainly didn't know what he'd do if he didn't have his spouse; his lovely, smarty, chubby, grumpy husband. Clearly something had to be done.

"I know! I'll help them all find their husbands and wives so they can be together forever!" he chirped, hugging himself. Still in his chef hat and apron, Pinky pranced over to the pantry to start pairing up the spice who weren't spice yet. True love must be protected! Salt and Pepper got married first, then Cinnamon and Nutmeg, and then Garlic Powder and Cloves! Egad, he was good at this! He'd have everyone married in no time!

"Pinky! There you are!" As Brain climbed into the pantry, he was already thoroughly annoyed at having to search for his wayward husband. Some of it, however, faded as he realized Pinky was messing with the spices. How fortuitous.

"Hi Brain!" Pinky waved from where he was draped over the Allspice. He was having particular trouble trying to marry this one off since it was all spice by itself already. "Lookit all the spice I've helped! Narf!"

Helped? Hm. Brain looked around at what looked to him like a disorganized mess, but it was really no better than what was typically left behind by the scientists. "I see. But as haphazard as this situation seems, it is actually the perfect complement to the reveal of tonight's plan!"

"Ooooh!" Pinky leapt over the container, landing in a seated position with his hands clasped in his lap as he leaned in towards Brain. "What're we doing tonight, Brain?"

"We are taking one of your favorite things and making it better." He placed a hand over his chest. "By adding me. Tonight, Pinky, we shall take over the airwaves with our own cooking show!"

On his feet in a second, Pinky had his joined hands pressed to his cheek. "Egad! Really, Brain? Oh, fun-fun silly-willy! I've always wanted to meet Man Fiyori and Flobby Bay and Patricia Been! We will get to meet them, won't we? Troz!"

"It's possible, Pinky. In order to generate maximum intrigue on the most important part of my plan, we'll have to make guest appearances on multiple Meal Channel shows." It was going to be one of their longer plans, but The Brain was willing to tolerate it since the world would be their prize. "Now, Pinky, what do every single one of those televised chefs have in common?"

"Umm..." The chef hat on his head tipped forward ever so slightly as he scratched it in thought. Or what passed as thought. "Exciting, exclamatory catch phrases?"

"Well, yes, but I meant something else entirely, Pinky." He went to one of the spice bottles and turned it, displaying the logo of Gerald Goatsey. "Product placement. People flock to local grocery stores each and every day, deluded into believing that they require the label of their favored TV chef in order to make a decent meal. You and I are going to capitalize on this false belief, Pinky, and create a spice that is entirely irresistible. The spice is key to my plan, as it will make all of those who ingest it incredibly susceptible to suggestion. And while they are watching our program, I will simply suggest that they make me their uncontested ruler of the world!"

Blue eyes widened and he beamed at his husband. "Egad, Brain, brilliant!" Pinky clapped his hands together and jumped up and down, only to stop suddenly and press a finger to his chin. "Oh, wait, no. Aren't we already spice? And I find you terribly irresistible already! Haha-narf!" he giggled, hugging himself.

Having absolutely no idea what his husband could possibly mean, Brain only rolled his eyes. "Be that as it may, Pinky, I require a particular spice for this plan to work. We shall take it to the network head and feed him something prepared with the spice added. I will then suggest that I be given my own show; he'll have no choice but to acquiesce to my desires."

"A particular spice?" Pinky blinked slowly. Was his husband confused by plurals again? "A" implied singular, but "spice" implied more than one spouse. Just like with mouse and mice! However, that wasn't the issue at hand. He wanted to use a different spouse. "Wuh... but why won't I work, Brain?"

"Because whatever your IQ, you still do not qualify as foodstuffs and thus cannot be put into food, Pinky. And from this point on, do not address me simply as Brain." He retrieved a chef's hat and donned it, smirking slightly. "I am now Chef Brain."

Momentarily forgetting his qualms with the spousey-spices, Pinky admired the smaller mouse in his get-up. "Oh, very nice, Brain- I mean, Chef Brain," he laughed. "And I'll be your assistant Lieutenant Pinky!"

"Pinky, assistant chefs aren't called lieutenants." Brain removed his husband's hat, molding it into a slightly different shape before replacing it. "You will be Sous-Chef Pinky, my direct assistant. Now come. My souffle is only going to hold for so long. We must take it to the network immediately!"

"Right, Brain!" Pinky offered up a salute, leaving behind his "Find a Spouse" project. "I'll be the best Shoe-Chef ever, you'll see! Narf!"

"Sous, Pinky, not shoe. We aren't going to dine on leather." With a roll of his eyes, Brain leapt from the pantry to the counter. It was doubtful that Pinky would ever get his title correct, but just as long as the plan went without a hitch besides, it wouldn't matter.

The taller mouse had no idea what leather had to do with shoes, but let it go as he followed Brain. While the megalomaniac drove them to the network studio, Pinky was given the special, secret mission of keeping the Sew-Flay safe. Egad, it had part of his title in the name! How concordant! Or was it concord grape? Hmm... he was pretty sure it was the second. Alright, how concord grape!

"The Shoe Fly Don't Bother Me is still in one piece, Chef Brain!" Pinky announced upon their arrival. "Poit."

If that hadn't been true, he would've had to hurt his companion for the pointless elongation. "That's souffle."

"Oh, right. Troz," he snorted a giggle, still completely oblivious to the actual word.

Shaking his head, Brain led his husband into the building. They went up the elevator and right passed the receptionist to get directly to the network executive. He'd grown weary of receptionists during his winning smile scheme several months prior. And when he'd attempted to create a hit Broadway play in order to raise enough money to alter shampoo labels, but that was even less pleasant to dwell on. At least during the smile scheme he'd been able to insult the masses without repercussion. He climbed up into the chair, assisting Pinky in bringing the souffle up. "Good evening, Mr. Langhan," he greeted, straightening the chef's coat he'd donned before leaving the lab.

"Hello! Zort." Pinky waved, fluffing his apron that he'd yet to remove.

The executive eyed their get-ups and dish. "Aren't you two a little small to be chefs?"

"Actually, we are two lab mice involved in an intricate plot to take over the world!" Brain announced matter-of-factly.

Mr. Langhan stared at them for a beat, then sighed in resignation. They must've just watched Ratatouille. Seriously, Disney and Pixar were just trying to mess with them. Making vermin out to be compatible chefs, ha. "Right, right. So what is it I can do for you?"

"Actually, if you would sample the souffle I've prepared especially for you, I would be eternally grateful." Brain gestured for Pinky to help him lift it. "If you enjoy it, I'll be more than happy to explain. And if you don't, I suppose I shall just leave and we will forget this ever happened."

"Gee, Brain, but I thought you wanted to get a TV sho-zort!" Pinky cut himself off with laughter courtesy of his husband's bop to the head, and luckily still managed to keep ahold of his end of the souffle.

The man arched an eyebrow, skeptical of the pair, but figured the sooner he cooperated and took a bite of the sure-to-be-mediocre dish, then the sooner he could get rid of these two and focus on more important matters. Like how he was going to beat Bill from Accounting at Words with Friends. Pulling out a fork from his desk drawer, when working with people who worked with food it was always best to be prepared, he took a bite, expression less than impressed.

Brain waited, watching with increased delight as the man's face slid from nonplussed to blank. Perfect. "It's delicious and I should have my own show," he suggested.

"It's delicious and you should have your own show," the man repeated without hesitation, his face lighting up faster than Pinky's did at the sight of yarn. "I'll call the studio immediately and get you a set and ad space on the network. You'll be a hit!" He picked up the phone and speed dialed the associate in charge of kitchen design. "Is there a certain demographic you're aiming for?"

"Poit. Don't we want people to watch our show?" Pinky tilted his head, blinking up at this strange man.

"Yes, Pinky. We want the entire world to view our program!" He turned his attention back to the producer, rubbing his hands together. "And make sure our set is capable of holding a live studio audience." He may as well dose people with the spice while they were watching. "And I have a certain spice that needs to be marketed and on the shelves immediately!"

"Right, of course," the man agreed, scribbling down a note. "Oh, and uh, what did you say your name was?"

"Chef Brain. And, of course, Sous-Chef Pinky." He gestured to his husband as more of an afterthought, his mind already skipping ahead. The spice was working just as well as he had hoped.

"That's me!" Pinky chirped, jabbing his thumb at his chest. "Narf!"

Nodding distractedly at the taller mouse, the executive turned his attention to The Brain again. "Chef Brain, nice ring to it. What're the ingredients for the spice? We can have a product developed asap and then get marketing on circulating it through all the major grocery stores."

"Poit. Why, it's me and Brain, of course!" Though in this man's defense, he probably didn't know they were married. So Pinky simply smiled up at him when the man looked confused.

"Excuse my partner. He's confused." Brain grabbed his snout and dragged him down. "Quiet, Pinky," he ordered, but kept ahold of him while he spoke to the human. "As for the ingredients, I have it all right here." He held out a sheet of paper, looking positively smug.

While he usually didn't mind being yanked on, he did love when Brain got all handsy on him, the dismissal left him feeling more than just confused. "Zounds, Brain, I'm not," he insisted despite the grip on his nose. "We are spice, aren't we?"

"Guess someone's spent a little too much time in the kitchen," the exec chuckled, brushing it off, taking the sheet of paper from the large-headed mouse. "This should make everything smooth sailing."

"But I thought we were cooking, now we're sailors? Egad, Brain, no wonder you think I'm confused. Everything keeps changing on me!"

"It's an expression, Pinky. Now be quiet." Brain released him since the grip didn't seem to help anyway and offered a card to the human. He'd only printed out the one, but it looked very official. "My contact information. Let me know when everything's finished."

As they left the office, Pinky was torn. Clearly he should be happy because the fun-fun plan thingy was working and his chubby hubby looked so pleased, but he did not approve of this spice-but-not-with-him business at all. "Troz. Gee, Brain... what are you using if it's not me?" he asked, tugging on his apron. Did Brain not want to be married to him anymore? And he'd thought things were going so well.

"Pinky, what are you talking about? You're my sous-chef. Clearly, you're being used." Annoyed by his husband's antics in the office and his confusing behavior now, he got the car door open and climbed inside. "Now come. We have a long night of cooking ahead of us."

Was being a soup-chef still the same as being a spouse? Pinky wanted to ask, but maybe later when Brain wasn't being so grumpy-growly. "Right, Brain." Once he followed him into the car, he grabbed him for a quick hug and nuzzled him. "I love you."

Brain scowled, but returned the nuzzle since the first phase of their plan had worked so well. "I know you do, Pinky." He drew back and pressed their noses together for a moment. "I... Well, I presume you know how I feel."

He hadn't known, but when he cuddled back and let their noses touch he was reminded. "I do, Brain. Poit. At least, I think I do." Pinky set him down and straightened, clasping his hands behind his back.

Brain placed his fists on his hips, the last part giving him pause. Pinky always understood without question; he'd come to rely on that to compensate for his inability to consistently say the words. "You think you know? Pinky, that's ridiculous. Of course you know."

Pinky hunched his shoulders and rocked back on his heels. Oh, he felt quite sheep-like at that tone. "Well, sometimes you get me all con-fused, Brain." Though he usually didn't get confused about love.

"Well..." This was new, and it caused the little bubble of fear that Brain was usually able to shove away with ease to rise to the top. Had it been too long since he'd last said the words? Had he bopped him too hard in the office? "You should never be confused about that, Pinky." He pulled Pinky down, crushing their lips together in a rare mid-plan kiss.

With a surprised squeak, Pinky wrapped his arms around him. Oh, he was no longer confused. Especially when it was such a lovely kiss that told him all the things he needed to know. "Egad, Brain," he giggled. "We're on a plan thingy."

"I'm well-aware of that, Pinky." Brain wrapped his arms around Pinky's neck to keep him down, kissing him again. "Now let us return to the lab. Perhaps if I change the menu for our first show to something simpler than what was originally intended, we won't have to spend the entire night cooking." The words always came easier after their love things, and if Pinky was in need of them, they should be said.

"Mmm, cooking!" He rubbed their noses together before brushing their lips together again. "Wuh, but what will we do with the rest of the night, Brain?"

Cheeks coloring, Brain pressed a kiss to the tip of his nose before drawing back. "Well, we'll..." He cleared his throat. "You'll find out later, Pinky. Now to the pedals so we may return to the lab."

"'Kay!" Pinky laughed, rubbing his nose as he spun around and then hopped to the floor of the car.

-8-8-

They had slept in a little, but that was a rather understandable side-effect of spending half the night baking and the other half allowing Pinky to do anything he wanted. And since Brain had accidentally fallen into the bowl of frosting whilst adding his special spice, that anything had included a rather mind-numbing tongue bath. It had been worth sleeping in.

And with their product already on shelves around the world and the pilot of their show ready to be filmed, Brain considered everything perfectly even. Now he and Pinky would just have to demonstrate how to complete the cake, showcase their spice and convince the population that his spice was a requirement in perfecting every meal. The studio audience would be incredibly useful in that once they all sampled his cake.

Standing to the side of the set, rubbing his hands together, Brain watched as the last few set checks were completed. "This is it, Pinky."

"Oh yes! We're going to make our yummy cake! Narf!" Pinky hopped up and down, clapping his hands together.

"Precisely, Pinky. And once the audience ingests it, they'll be entirely susceptible to the suggestion that they go and buy more and put it in everything they eat! And after such a success with them, the rest of the world with become curious enough to purchase it on their own. And then, on-air with the world watching, I'll command them to make me their uncontested ruler!" He rose to his toes at the last, his excitement palpable. The plan was perfect!

Laughing out loud, Pinky swept him up and spun him. "Brilliant, love! Oh, but what will everyone be buying?"

"The spice, Pinky!" Brain rolled his eyes. "Now put me down. We have a show to do and I won't have you rumpling my chef's coat."

"Oh, right. Sorry, Brain." He set him down and fixed his coat for him as well as his little hat. "Poit. Which spice?" Maybe it was Cinnamon and Nutmeg he was rather fond of that couple. They were doing very well! Garlic Powder and Cloves were having a few spats, he'd recommended them for marriage counseling. He believed they could make it work, they just needed to air out their dirty laundry. Which made sense, he wouldn't want to live somewhere where there were no clean clothes and it smelled.

"The one created specifically for this plan, Pinky! And it's Chef Brain." The megalomaniac looked over, pink eyes gleaming, when they were called. "Now come. It's time to begin."

Pinky had his eyes crossed as he tried to figure out if it was one spouse or two spice. "'Kay... just one quick question, Brain. Do the spice have anything to do with you?" Because he kept talking about them like they did, even after he'd reassured him with love things that they were still married and very much in love.

"Of course it does, Pinky. I invented it in order to take over the world. Now enough of this. Come along." He led the way towards their kitchen mockup, pleased that everything they needed was not only right where they needed it, but it was all their size. Setup in a much larger kitchen, yes, but the materials he needed were on the counter and mouse-sized. It was even more convenient than at the lab.

It took the taller mouse a moment to move, his dense mind slowly processing what he'd been told. So Brain had another spouse? But, hadn't he wanted a monopoly relationship with him? Perhaps he'd heard wrong. Shaking his head, Pinky bounced after his husband, though more to keep up rather than from his naturally bubbly demeanor.

Brain took Pinky's slower-than-usual gait as a sign of reluctance and it had his fur bristling, though he couldn't imagine what had gotten into his husband. He'd been delighted a few seconds before. "Pinky, I thought you enjoyed these cooking shows."

Oh dear, he didn't like when his fur got all bristly before he'd managed to botch anything up. So he nodded briskly, in the hope it would appease him. "But I do, Brain. Zort."

"Then why on earth do you seem so displeased about being on one?" he demanded.

"It's not the show, Brain." Pinky latched onto his own tail and twisted it. "It's... well, it's your spice. I thought everything was supposed to be monotone and it's not."

What did monotone have to do with a spice? "Pinky, what on earth-" He was cut off as he and Pinky were miked and given a two minute warning. "We'll discuss it later. For now, behave yourself and do as I say."

"Of course, Brain," Pinky replied, ever obedient even if it lacked exuberance. "Poit." Maybe if he was on his best behavior, Brain wouldn't need that other spouse, whoever it was.

Entirely unsure how to go about fixing whatever it was that was bothering his usually upbeat companion, particularly since they were in front of a live audience and miked, so he just reached out and gave his hand a small squeeze. Perhaps he was... ill? Brain wasn't certain, but he didn't at all enjoy Pinky's odder than normal behavior.

Pinky glanced down at their hands, smiling a little at that. Right, there was no doubt that Brain loved him, but the thought of him loving someone else as equally much was what unsettled him. The thought of Brain holding and squeezing another's hand, or letting somebody else lick frosting off him... it made his stomach twist rather unpleasantly and a burny feeling spread through him that wasn't like love things at all. So Pinky clutched at his hand a little desperately, then released it to announce him to the audience once the blinky lights on the cameras went on. "Presenting, Chef Brain!" The people sitting in front of them clapped to welcome them both.

Brain clasped his hands behind his back, rubbing the one Pinky had been holding so tightly. Whatever was wrong with him, however worrying, needed to be pushed aside and was. Mostly. "Good morning," he greeted. "I am Chef Brain and this would be my partner, Sous-Chef Pinky." He'd meant to say assistant, but couldn't very well correct himself. "Today, we are going to be baking a special four-tiered white cake. While not quite practical for one's breakfast needs, it is sure to dominate your taste buds and rule your palette!"

The phrasing earned him a smattering of laughter which was baffling since he'd said nothing but the truth, but they were humans. So he simply gestured for his husband to come closer so they could begin.

The laughter cheering him up a bit, Pinky sidled up to Brain and piped up, "And it's really tasty too!" Which only earned more approval from the audience. "Narf!" Since they'd practiced baking the night before, he was able to remember most of what he was supposed to do for the cake. And all the rememberings helped him take his mind off the unhappy feelings in his tummy, since only so much could occupy his attention at a time.

"What do we do next, Chef Brain?" he asked as he stirred the batter with a wooden spoon. They'd tried using a mixer the night before, but Pinky had been unable to learn how to get control of the thing and kept splattering them with cake mix.

Pleased by the renewed vigor of his partner and the attention of the audience, Brain smiled slightly into the camera. "Now, sous-chef, we add the secret ingredient, the necessary component to turn perfectly average food into food you would serve a world leader!"

"Ooooh, and what's the secret ingredient, Chef Brain?" Pinky asked as the audience ooed. Secrets were always super exciting.

"This." Brain unveiled the spice he'd created, took a moment to enjoy the logo with his visage on the human-sized bottle. "Chef Brain's Secret Spice," he announced. "A necessary ingredient in all your future meals. Even the worst cook will be turning out gourmet meals with this. Use as much as you like." The Brain hefted the bottle and took it to the batter, sprinkling a healthy dose in to the sound of the audience's intrigued chatter.

Secret Spice? Secret Spice! Oh, well, they weren't being very secret about it if he was telling the whole world! And on a plan thingy too! Pinky's brow furrowed as he stared at the big container. He and Brain never got to tell the whole world on TV that they were spice. Without realizing it, the taller mouse had stopped stirring. So, this was his competition. This... thing didn't have much on him! Why sure, it was a bit taller and had a nice, even figure... oh who was he kidding? It was gorgeous! And a necessary ingredient to boot. Pinky clutched the spoon in his hand. Well, he was necessary too!

"Pinky?" Brain frowned, not particularly enjoying the look Pinky was giving the bottle. The spice was designed to be tasteless and odorless, so what could he possibly be objecting to? "Sous-Chef Pinky, continue stirring. The batter needs to be mixed thoroughly."

"Right, I'll mix it," he replied, still glaring at the bottle as he began to stir again. "I bet it can't mix anything. It doesn't have any arms!" Oh, good! Something he had that it didn't!

"Of course it can't mix anything, sous-chef. It's a bottle." If they'd been home, or not on air, he would've bopped him for this behavior. As it was, he could only levy a glare of his own and carry the bottle to the next step of the baking.

"Oh, so that makes it okay?" Pinky grumbled, turning his unhappy look on his husband. Clearly having arms or not having arms didn't change a thing. But Brain's glare kept him from saying anything else, but it didn't stop him from thinking really loud thoughts.

Brain was mildly distracted by Pinky's attitude throughout the remainder of their show, but it seemed to go rather smoothly. He managed to avoid using chili powder rather than sugar while putting together the ingredients for their frosting at least.

It wasn't until the final reveal, however, that Brain managed to put Pinky's odd grumpiness out of his mind. They went to commercial while the pieces of cake were being handed out and the tiny megalomaniac removed his microphone. He went to his husband and removed his as well for the time being. "This is it, Pinky. Once the crowd ingests the cake, they'll fall entirely under my control."

"And it's all thanks to that, isn't it?" Pinky's sulking had only gotten worse throughout the course of the show, his pout prominent as he pointed to the bottle. "Well, la-dee-da. Zort." Crossing his arms, he kicked at the ground before turning his gaze back to his husband, softening. "Didn't I do good too, Brain?"

"Of course you did, Pinky. While not your usual exuberant self, you followed direction quite well." And they didn't have enough time to him to get to the bottom of the taller mouse's mysterious behaviors.

"Are you proud? Am I a good husband? I can be better, I can," he assured him, tugging on the sleeve of Brain's chef coat.

"Pinky, stop that." Brain stepped away, brushing at his sleeve to straighten it. "Of course you're a good husband; you have no reason to believe otherwise."

"But am I a better husband?" Pinky pressed, clasping his hands together as he leaned after Brain.

A better husband than what? But there wasn't time to voice the query; the audience was gazing towards them rather dazedly. He needed them on his side before the commercials ended. "You are the best husband, Pinky," he placated.

It warmed his heart to hear that, but at the same time it only confused Pinky further. If he was the best husband, then what did Brain need a second one for? Or, he supposed, it could be a wife. The blue eyed mouse shot a suspicious look at the bottle. "If you say so, Brain," he replied, turning his back on the container. It didn't deserve all his attention.

"Of course I say so, Pinky." The lanky mouse was his husband, after all. Brain wouldn't possibly waste something as important as marriage on someone who wasn't the best. As future ruler of the world, he clearly deserved it. So, with a small sigh, he put the mike back on his lover and very briefly brushed their noses together to try and soothe whatever had gotten into him. Did he just not like this plan? That was so unlike his chipper sidekick, but his behavior the past two nights was also bizarre... Well, bizarre in comparison to his usual oddness.

After giving him an extra pat, he turned towards the audience and the crew, his own mike replaced with ease. "You all love the food and wish to share Chef Brain's Secret Spice with everyone you know!"

Pinky cast his husband an odd look. Wait, so now Brain and his new spouse were going to be shared with other people? Were they not in an as exclusive relationship as the two of them were? The audience didn't seem to find anything odd about this situation. "We all love the food and will share Chef Brain's Secret Spice with everyone we know." Was no one on his side? Well, to be fair, they didn't know he and Brain were married.

"Yes!" Brain cried out, absolutely thrilled as the audience members began raving to themselves about him. "This is just what we wanted, Pinky." He looked to one of the cameramen, snapping his fingers. "Pan the crowd once the commercial is over, gather their reactions before Sous-Chef Pinky and I close the show."

Was it what he wanted? Pinky bit his lower lip as he took in how happy his usually grumpy-growly chubby hubby was. Well, he certainly wanted Brain to be happy... but he didn't want him to be happy because of another spouse! He wanted him to be happy because of him! Or taking over the world... which he supposed this was, but then he wanted to be the one helping. Not the sprinkle bottle. Especially when the bottle didn't look all that excited about Brain's happiness. Why did he even want it around?

All these questions and no answers were making his head hurt. Or maybe his hat was just too tight. "Great job, Brain. I mean... Chef Brain," he finally complimented as the cameras moved away from the pair of them.

The megalomaniac gave his husband a pat for remembering the title. "Thank you. You also did very well." Perhaps compliments would cheer his companion up. He couldn't think of what else would. Out of the things he was willing to do in public, at any rate.

Pinky offered him a small smile, but he still felt all bad inside. Doing very well wasn't good enough. "Can I go sit down, Brain? Backstage?" he asked, glancing over at the audience. They were done with all the cooking part of the show, and he wasn't feeling the part so much. They didn't make soup or shoes, so what else did a sous-chef do? Besides, he needed to formulizate his own plan to win his hubby over.

Brain's ears dropped. He couldn't help it. Pinky never acted like this. He never would've thought that he would miss the inanity and the excitement, but this was just far too removed from his normal behavior. "Yes, I... I suppose you may."

"Poit." Pinky blinked at the droopy ears, then checked to make sure the cameras still weren't on them before giving his hand a quick squeeze and brushed their lips together. It was supposed to be Brain's happy moment and he didn't want to ruin it. That made him a less good spouse than that mean ol' bottle. So hopefully the kiss cheered up Brain a little bit, he thought to himself as he shuffled off stage. Brain usually liked his kisses, when they weren't on plan thingies, so maybe he could give him lots and lots when they got home to show him how much love he had for him.

Brain watched him go, rubbing his hands together nervously. Pinky was never allowed to kiss him on a plan unless the shorter mouse initiated one, but there wasn't even a partial urge to reprimand him for it. The baffling bubble of fear was swelling in his chest again, and it made his heart ache. He rubbed it idly, but soon faced the audience again to close out the show, reminding the viewers to purchase his miraculous spice.

But his mind was on his husband. The simple-minded mouse just needed more assurances. He could take care of that. Perhaps even before they prepared the following day's recipe.

While the audience filtered out of the studio in a mad dash to get to the store before everyone else, Pinky waited for his lover to join him. Not before putting a sack over the bottle to hide it. Just a precaution. "Can we go home now, Brain? Is the show all done?"

"Yes, Pinky, the show's done." He removed the chef's hat to give his hands something to do. He glanced at the bag, a bit cheered to see some of Pinky's usual oddness in place, but didn't think of it otherwise. The studio would have a fresh bottle for them to use the following day and he had plenty of the unlabeled spice at the lab. "Come, Pinky."

He'd seen the way Brain looked at the other spouse and was quick to latch onto his husband's arm, putting himself in the way of the container. Both arms around his, Pinky nuzzled him almost desperately and kept their bodies pressed close. "I love you, Brain. I really, really do."

"I know you do, Pinky." Brain extricated his arm to wrap both around Pinky's neck. "I lo... Well, I... Feel the same way." He pressed their noses together, rubbing gently. "Let's return to the lab, my dear."

"'Kay." Pinky stole a quick kiss first, a promise of more to come, then hurried to get his husband out and away from the other icky spouse. No one was going to get in the way of their love. He wouldn't let it.

-8-8-

Every night after the show was over, Pinky put his all into showing how much he loved his husband. And every night he thought it went rather well. But then they'd get to the studio and that evil spouse would be there, moving in on his man who just kept taking it with them to cook with. Pinky could cook circles around the bottle! And he did, he put little cooked circles all around the container to try and show it who was boss, but it didn't work.

It didn't help that their audience and all the people who went to the grocery stores were huge fans of Brain and thing as spice. It was really quite frustrating. He figured this must've been how Jared felt when Stella picked Edmund in Starlight, that very popular vampire bat book. Except Brain had much better character development.

Still, he was starting to develop constant head and tummy aches because of the mood swings. The nights were so happy, but the days were miserable. And he just didn't know what he was doing wrong. And Brain wouldn't tell him. Whenever he thought to ask, they were too busy and he was brushed off. But when there was time, he was too busy kissing the sense out of his husband to remember to ask.

Brain was just as confused as his husband, but in an entirely different way. When they returned to the lab after the show, everything seemed to be wonderful. There was a certain desperation in their love things, though, that sprang from both of them. For him, it was because the shows were so grueling. Not because of the work, no; the megalomaniac was used to these things after over a year of trying to take over the world every night. But because of his companion and his odd behavior during them.

Everything would be wonderful at first, Pinky mixing and mashing and what have you quite happily. But then something would change and his mood would just plummet. He never closed the show with him, so Brain's endings were always distracted.

Why was his adoring husband so upset every day? And when on earth was he going to get a moment to ask him what was wrong? By the time he thought to do so, they were both too tired from their love things and the smaller mouse was confident that everything was fine again. Until they weren't, and then they were in the middle of the show. He was starting to get antsy, kept looking at Pinky as if he could pinpoint the exact moment his mood fell. But it always seemed to do so the moment he had to take his attention away from his husband to remind the audience to buy his spice.

But this, finally, was their last show. The entire world was tuned in and would be cooking along with him that day. Once he revealed his completion and told them to sample their works, he would be able to make his key suggestion and the world was theirs! If Pinky still loved him. He did, didn't he? The megalomaniac had been making a point of saying the words every night and Pinky always returned them, but... Hm.

"Ready to start the show, Brain?" Pinky asked, coming up beside his husband with his chef hat in hand. It still lacked his usual exuberance, for he knew what was going to come next. That spouse. It was waiting for Brain over on the set. Ears wilting and shoulders drooping, he sighed and fiddled with his hat.

"It's our last show, Pinky." He was sad faster than normal today and Brain had no idea why. It was stressful, the internal battle over what was acceptable in public versus what was needed to cheer his husband up in no way helping. He reached up, cupping his cheeks. "Don't be upset, my dear."

It usually helped, this familiar touch, but now it just made him feel worse. "I can't help it, Brain," he sniffled, fighting back tears. He was losing his husband to a dumb ol' bottle that never did anything. It didn't even hug or kiss Brain, yet somehow the smaller mouse was still interested in it.

"But we're about to take over the world, Pinky!" He'd always assumed that Pinky would be thrilled when they managed it, but this was far from it. Brain rubbed their noses together. "Don't cry."

"Well, of course I'm happy about that, Brain. That's not why I feel so bad." Because to him this was a lot bigger than taking over the world. It wouldn't matter if they had the world if they didn't have each other. Pinky managed to keep from crying, clinging to his lover's chef coat instead.

"But what else-" The Brain was cut off by a crew member he needed to remember to fire, and was reminded that they were going on air in just a few minutes. He sighed. "Pinky, whatever has you so upset, put it to the back of your mind. I'm sure it will turn out just fine. Now come. We have our final show to do, and then the world is ours."

Pinky nodded obediently, but it was easier said than done. It was incredibly difficult to remember what he was supposed to do when they were cooking. He could feel the eyes of that other spouse on him the whole time. Sizing him up. It thought it was better than him, he just knew it. And the sadness was quietly brewing and bubbling into angry-mad feelings. What right did it have to just waltz right in and take what was his? None! None at all! It only had a left, that's what it had! So when it came out, front and center to help with the food, Pinky couldn't help the small growly sound and glare he directed at it, his fur bristling under his apron.

Brain couldn't help but glare at him over his shoulder, an automatic response to anger. Even to Pinky's incredibly rare swing to that particular emotion. First sad and listless and now attempting to growl? The sound would be adorable if it wasn't so baffling and misplaced. With the way Pinky had been acting throughout this show, it could only be the spice that kept their ratings up. The world was practically in his hands; he could feel it.

So the miniature megalomaniac patted the bottle and smiled a little. "And now, of course, we add the most important part of tonight's recipe: my own secret spice."

"No!" Before Pinky could even realize it himself, he'd snatched up the bottle and held it way out of Brain's reach. He'd patted it the way he always patted him, he smiled at it the way he always smiled at him (well, when he did something right), and he was married to it the way he was supposed to only be married to him! The foreign flood of anger rippled through him as he glowered at Brain, hurt bright in his eyes. "No you will not!"

"Pinky!" The ruse was dropped, the megalomaniac too surprised to do otherwise. "What on earth are you doing?"

"Something I should've done a long time ago!" Pinky snapped, shaking the bottle in his hands. "I don't care if it makes you happy, you're mine! That's my job! Not this! This is bad!" He threw it off to the side. "No spice! You will not be spice with it! You don't need it!"

In the audience and to the viewers at home, the passionate suggestion resonated. Brain's spice was being thrown away across the globe and the mouse didn't even realize it. "What on earth are you talking about, Pinky? I'm not 'being spice' with that! And it's necessary!"

"Yes you are! You keep saying so! 'Brain's Secret Spice' ooooh-woooo," his tone turned mocking as he waved his hands about. "'I'm so special and secret and Brain's even though he's already married!' Narf!" Pinky was shaking, he'd never been this mad before. He was so mad, he was crying like he was sad. "We're supposed to be spice, Brain! I can do anything it can! Just tell me what I need to do to be necessary and I'll try my best! But you should've told me before going off and getting another spouse!" His voice cracked on an angry sob. "We're in a mononucleosis relationship, and that means only one spouse! You should only have one and that's me!"

Brain's mind was whirling as he tried to keep up with the baffling accusations and the misused words. He had yet to notice the audience and crew members leaving their spices behind, all of his attention focused on where it mattered. "I do only have one spouse, Pinky. You are my only spouse. When on earth would I have had any time to cheat on you? We're constantly together."

"I know!" He took hold of his apron and used it to blow his nose and try to wipe away some of the tears. "You do it right in front of me! Like rubbing it in my face," he blubbered. "You pat it and smile at it and say how wonderful it is to all your audience- poit." Pinky blinked and lowered the apron. "Did you just say you only have one spouse?"

Brain rubbed his temples, frustrated and confused. Pinky thought he was cheating on him with a bottle? "Of course I only have one spouse, Pinky! I'm married to you."

Pinky sniffled, still wringing the fabric in his hands as he stared confusedly at his husband. "But... but you kept saying 'spice'. And not talking about you and me."

"Pinky, I hate to tax your already addled mind with difficult questions, but what in the name of Odin's son does a spice have to do with you and I being spouses?"

Spouses? Oh, there was Brain getting all con-fused with his plurals again. "Well, the plural of spouse is spice, isn't it?"

Pink eyes blinked once. And then again. And then a third time because really, Brain couldn't possibly be understanding this right. All the stress of this plan had been because his simple-minded husband was simple-minded? He walked away from Pinky, grabbed the edges of a human-sized measuring cup and repeatedly began bashing his head against it.

"Um... doesn't that hurt, Brain?" Pinky asked between sniffles, still wiping the tears from his face. "Looks awful painful."

"It is." He finally let go, feeling dazed. "Exceedingly so." He spun away from the cup to stare at his husband, seeing the emptiness of the studio only then. His jaw quite literally hit the countertop and then snapped back up as he rubbed his temples, grumbling words Pinky should never ever say under his breath. Ruined. They were absolutely ruined.

He threw off the chef's hat. "No, Pinky! The plural of spouse is not spice and never has been. A spice is an additive for food."

Pinky blinked several times at his husband. "An adjective for food? Oh no, it can't be! That's just silly! We're on a cooking show, what does food have to do- ...with a... cooking show... oh, well, that does make sense then, doesn't it, Brain?" He clasped his hands behind his back, hunching his shoulders as he smiled hesitantly. "Funny how that works out..."

"Pardon my overt displays of merriment," Brain grumbled and marched over to his husband. He framed his face in his hands, pulling him down. "I am married to you. Only to you. And always only to you. I will never even consider marrying anyone else. Ever. Do you understand that, Pinky?"

Blue eyes wide and shameful, Pinky nodded quickly as he reached up to place his own hands over Brain's. Looking back on it, on all the their love things, Brain had been nothing but wonderful and giving and loving. Everything a good husband should be, and yet he still doubted him. "I'm sorry, love. It won't happen again. I promise I understand." Even if he didn't quite understand how the plural of mouse could be mice, yet the plural of spouse was not spice. Who wrote the dictionary? Clearly someone who didn't have their head on straight.

Brain's anger drained, ears falling back as he pressed their noses together. That Pinky would even have cause to doubt him was... It was highly unexpected and the loss of his anger just left room for a flood of hurt. He tried to disguise it with a scowl, but his eyes were filled with it. "I would never do such a thing to you, Pinky. I care about you far too much."

"Oh, I know you do, Brain! I never thought you didn't," Pinky hurried to explain as he nuzzled him. He couldn't have his love of his life suffer from hurt feelings. "I only thought you cared about something else just as much and I got jealous and I'm sorry. I just love you so much and I don't want to share." Wrapping his arms around his husband, he gave him a peck on the lips, his own quirked up sheepishly. "Not even with plastic bottles. Poit."

"The fact that you're aware it was plastic is an astounding feat in itself," he grumbled, but rubbed his nose against Pinky's almost desperately. "You will never have to share me, my dear. I take our committed relationship rather seriously." It was vital.

Pinky kissed him deeply, hugging him close to his chest in the hopes that all his love could make the owie on his husband's heart go away. "I know you do," he assured him again once he broke the kiss for breath. "I know you love only me, just like I love only you. I don't know why I thought you didn't. I was just scared, Brain. But I'm not anymore."

"Don't ever be again." It tried to come out as an order, but ended up more as a request. But Brain was too busy trying to pull him closer and hold him tighter. Anything to keep this imbecile in his life.

"'Kay," Pinky promised. And just for good measure, squeaked it into his next kiss as he cuddled Brain close. "I love you."

The squeak made him feel better on an elemental level, even though it was embarrassing to be guided by such base instincts. He caressed his lover's cheeks gently anyway. "I... I love you too, Pinky. Now come." He kissed him again. "We must return to the lab and prepare for tomorrow night."

"Why, Brain?" Pinky gave him a farewell nuzzle before straightening, though his hand immediately sought out his husband's to make up for it. "What're we gonna do tomorrow night?"

"The same thing we do every night as a monogamous married couple, Pinky - try to take over the world!"

-8-8-