Snowball was not found.
It unnerved Brain, but he could not allow himself to dwell on it. He had a time machine to fix and a lover to please. Lover. The title sent shivers down his spine, which only served to catch the attention of the mouse in question who took it as a sign of being cold. Thus he took it upon himself to stay wrapped up tight around the smaller mouse, making it harder to ignore how the other got his heart racing. Until he called attention to his age over and over again.
"It's okay, Brain, I'll keep your old, balding, gray, cranky cold self warm! I know old people can't keep themselves as warm. 'Cause they're so old and all."
"Yes, Pinky. I'm aware that I'm old." It was still an easy feat to become annoyed by the imbecile. Glaring, he glanced over his shoulder at the mouse who deemed it acceptable to rest his chin on it. "It's rather difficult to work with you hovering..."
"Poit. But I'm on the ground, Brain," Pinky pointed out, giggling as he received a light bop for his efforts followed by a nuzzle.
"Just go play, dear. It won't take nearly as long to build this time." With his eidetic memory, he'd already accomplished twice as much in half the time. He even improved on the original design, more determined than ever to get Pinky to his own time.
The taller mouse nodded and proceeded to roll away, barely heeding the warnings to stay close by just in case. They had guards in every corridor, especially surrounding the pair of them as well as Romy, but Snowball was tricky and Brain didn't want to risk something happening simply because Pinky wandered off. Thankfully their clone stopped in to check on them, effectively distracting Pinky from any Super Mouse adventures he'd been entertaining and gave Brain the opportunity to continue working in peace.
"How's your cheek, ma?" Romy asked, eyeing the bandage still on his parent's face.
"Oh, it's all better now!" he chirped. "Troz. And it didn't even need a kiss! Just a bandaid." Pinky began to march in place, giving a little twirl as he sang, "I am stuck on bandaid brand, 'cause bandaid's stuck on me! Narf!"
Offering a laidback grin, he shoved his hands in the on-and-off pockets in his fur. "So why's it still there?"
"It's a war wound," Pinky declared, ceasing his spinning to strike a heroic pose. "It makes me look debonair."
"It makes you look like an idiot." The two mice glanced over at Brain upon hearing his two-cents, though the shorter mouse just detested the reminder that he'd been injured on his watch. And not in the fun-fun silly-willy way. Aware of their gazes, he ignored them and turned the wrench several more times.
"Yes, that too," Pinky giggled, hugging himself while Romy gave him a pat on the shoulder.
With Romy had also come a tray with tea and little pastries for them to snack on. At first Pinky protested, wanting to make his own tea, but their son assured him that he'd made it himself and how could he deny such a sweet gesture as that? So he thanked Romy and sat with him as they chatted and sipped and nibbled. Then the sugar high hit and Pinky was bouncing off the walls while Roman tried to see if he could help his dad out at all.
There were only a few more tweaks he had to make and it'd be complete. Pinky was bouncing with excitement, his eyes bright. "Is it ready now? Is it? Hm? Hm? HMMMM?"
Brain had to bat him away several times. He mentally wished his past self luck in taking over the world with this bundle of energy at his side, but then his lips quirked upward. Taking over the world with Pinky at his side. Just as it was supposed to be.
One more bolt to tighten. Brain put it in place, ready to begin twisting the wrench when his ears twitched. His senses were dulling, yes, but his hearing remained acute where smell and sight were lacking.
"Need some help, dad?" Roman offered, taking up the tools, figuring his father was growing tired from all the activity. As he fiddled with the machine in Brain's place, the megalomaniac tapped his spectacles down from where they rested on his forehead. Narrowed pink eyes slowly followed the trail of biscuits Pinky had left behind as the taller mouse spun around in circles; dancing and singing to his heart's content.
He was just so happy! He'd get to go home soon, for real this time! There'd be no Snowball to ruin everything and no evil icky laser beams and Brain loved him. Had always loved him, so that meant in the past too. Pinky hugged himself tightly as he laughed, his tail going a mile a minute. He and Brain would have a for real first kiss when he got home, then they could take over the world and build their happy castle together. Oh, it would be marvelous!
"Pinky, come here." Blue eyes blinked over at the smaller mouse, his happiness still radiating off him.
"Just a second, Brain!" He twirled in a circle, hands in the air. "The song in my head hasn't finished yet!"
"Pinky." He knew that warning tone, but didn't quite understand why it was there. The machiney thing was almost finished and he wasn't doing anything to mess it up.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Brain reach for his cane while he spun. Oh, was a bop coming? Fun-fun silly-willy! Oh, the world was so many pretty colors all spinning around him, almost as lovely as the gummy bear hall-
He heard the click a beat too late, only half-turned towards the sound when the wind was knocked out of him. Hitting the ground hurt, he'd landed funny on his hip and he hadn't been expecting it at all. His ears were also ringing with a loud sound, or a quiet sound, he couldn't really tell. But it was all buzzy in his head and the room was still spinning around him. Dizzy.
There was also a muffled underwater sound. Pinky shook his head, pushing himself up into a sitting position and blinked some of the dizzy away. He tried to call for Brain, to ask him what had happened, but his tongue felt funny and his cagemate wasn't over by the machiney thingy like he'd last seen. There was only Romy, and he was yelling the muffled sounds. He looked scared. But he wasn't looking at him.
Pinky followed his gaze. It led right to Brain. He was closer than he thought he'd be, that must've been why he grabbed his cane. As an oldy he didn't like walking much without it. But he wasn't walking now, he wasn't even standing. Pinky's heart understood faster than his head did, the beats slowing-almost-stopping as the image committed itself to memory, then sped up so fast he thought it would run away right out of his chest.
"Brain...?" Brain was lying down on the ground. He never did that unless he'd fallen from something. And he hadn't fallen, to Pinky's knowledge, and there was nothing to fall from. "Brain?" But even if he had fallen, he never stayed down for long. He never just... stayed all still on the ground. Tears filled his eyes and he didn't even know why. "Brain, wuh- what're you doing on the floor, Brain?"
"Still as dense as ever, Pinky?" Above him he heard mean laughter, but when he looked up there was nothing. Below him the floor was rumbling as guards stormed in, shouting and scanning the ceiling. "Now you really are Brain-less!"
"Ma, run!" He could barely hear Romy's yell over the noise. There was a lot of noise. And Brain still wasn't getting up. He could be squished by the soldiers if he didn't get up. "Ma, get over here! Hurry!"
Pinky crawled over to his best friend, his legs weren't working well enough for him to stand. "Brain, get up." He placed a hand on his shoulder and shook him. "Brain, get up! Please?" But even manners were useless. "Brain!"
His eyes were closed like he was sleeping, but Pinky knew he wasn't. Not even Brain could sleep through all this noise. And he'd never ignore him like this, that was just mean and Brain was never that mean to him. Especially old Brain, he was extra nice. Tears plipped onto the graying fur and Pinky glanced down at his chest. The fur was charred and there was a lot of red; he couldn't look at it for long. Instead he gripped his arm and lowered his head to the lumpy big round one of his best friend, where all the smarty thoughts and biggly-wiggly words were.
A hand on his shoulder startled him, and Pinky realized he was making really funny sounds as he looked up at Romy. "Ma, you've gotta go!"
"I can't leave him! He'll be all alone and sad!" he tried to say, but whether he conveyed it properly past the lump in his throat and the crushing feeling in his chest was unknown to him. "He needs me!"
"No!" Pinky draped himself over the body, holding tight. He could hold as tight as he wanted now and wouldn't ever get bopped for it... A choked, gasping noise tore out of his throat and Romy tugged harder on him. "Brain!"
"He needs you, you're right, ma," he said quickly, right into his ear. "Dad needs you, but the only way you can help him is if you go back, okay? You can go back and this will never have happened. Do you understand, ma?" Pink eyes met blue, and the taller mouse longed for it to be a different pair. This pair looked too much the same and different all at once. And they were just as devastated as he felt. "I've got the time machine working, the window's open to your time. You can go back but you have to go now. Before Snowball destroys it or you."
"But, Brain..." It felt like he was screaming, but his voice was no louder than a whisper.
"He's waiting for you, I promise." Romy pried him off, yanking him to his feet and shoved him towards the machine. "Now go!"
There were gunshots and lasers and shattering sounds everywhere. Pinky stumbled forward, barely missing getting squished himself as guards ran about. He looked around frantically for the time machine. When he spotted it, he ran for it. A shot went off close to it. Too close for comfort. Pinky got down on all fours to go faster, darting between legs and around shattered glass. He slipped and nearly missed it, and Snowball took aim from his new perch in the high window and Pinky squeezed his eyes shut and leapt-
Only to somersault head over heels across the counter and into a stack of books. He kept his eyes closed a moment after he'd stopped, cracking one open cautiously. Upside-down, he saw the shiny blue-tiled floor and donut chandelier for only a second until it flickered out and only the lab was left. The lab. The lab!
"Narf!" Pinky flailed and flopped forward onto his belly, bounding to his feet in an instance. Adrenaline still coursing through him, he spun in frantic circles until he realized it was getting him nowhere. "Brain! Brain!" he hollered, making a beeline for their cage. Their cage! Right on the counter where it belonged!
But it was empty. Breathing heavily, Pinky clenched the bars of the cage then sprung away to the last place he'd seen his friend. The plans were all there, scattered about, but the big-headed mouse was absent from the scene. Ears flat against his head and eyes wide, Pinky clutched his heart and backed away slowly. Where was he? He was supposed to be here. He was supposed to be okay!
"Brain?" he whimpered, slowly scanning the counter for any sign of him.
He almost missed the sound of the window sliding open, his heart beating awfully loud in his ears, but when he recognized it for what it was his ears perked and Pinky spun so fast he almost toppled over. On the windowsill, dripping wet and fur mussed, was his Brain. Well, a very confused-looking Brain, but it was his Brain regardless. He was young and chubby and perfect.
With a sigh of relief, the shorter mouse's shoulders sagged and he brought his hand up to rub his big ol' head. "Pinky..."
"Braaaaaaiiiin!" Pinky wailed, only seeing the surprise on the megalomaniac's face for a split-second before barrelling into him and sent them both sprawling across the counter. He didn't care that he was wet, he needed to be hugged and snuggled extra lots and then some. "Brain! Oh, Brain, you're alright!" Mid-nuzzle, his snout was pushed away a little, so Brain had room to breathe.
"Pinky, what is the meaning of this? Of course I'm alright, you're the one who was-" he cut himself off, the dampness of his cheeks as well as the foreign bandage registering. "Pinky, what happened? Are you hurt?"
"I'm fine!" he sobbed, clinging tightly to the mouse he loved best. "I'm just so happy you're okay and not old!"
"What?" Pink eyes blinked, his mind unable to completely catch up just yet. "Pinky, what are you going on about?"
Pinky sat up, cradling him close and keeping him safe in his lap. "Oh it was awful, Brain! Our castle was there but it wasn't right at all! And Romy was all grown up and not following his dreams and you were old and sad and saggy-baggy and gray and old! I was gone for so long and it broke you into itty bitty little pieces! You weren't even happy with the world! The whole world! And Snowball! Snowball was so mean! And I had to leave you and I'm sorry and I won't ever leave you again! Never ever never!"
Brain squirmed in his grasp, managing to ease the grip around him some so he could yank on Pinky's nose to get his attention. "Pinky, stop your babbling or I shall have to hurt you," he told him, feeling something tug his heartstrings as tearful, honestly despairing blue eyes blinked at him. "You're not making any sense, my friend. You've only been gone an hour. Two at most." Two of the most terrifying hours of his life, but still only two. He shuddered at the thought that it could've been more, but he shook it away because here his companion was, safe and sound. Well... sound was debatable with these deranged ramblings pouring out of him.
"That's what I said!" he blubbered, bumping their noses together. "But everyone was saying it'd been years and years and it had!"
Releasing his snout, Brain brushed his palm against Pinky's forehead. No fever. Perhaps he'd eaten something rancid while he was out. He 'hmphed' quietly and cupped his cheeks instead. "Well, they're all wrong. You're here and I'm here and neither of us are old."
"Poit." Pinky snuggled closer. "I wasn't old, Brain. It was just you."
Brain's brow twitched. "Right, of course. How silly of me to presume otherwise." His eyes widened in shock and his ears sprung up as he realized Pinky had kissed the top of his head.
"I'm sorry, Brain. I really am. I didn't mean to make you think I'd run away from you forever." He hugged him closer, their chests pressed together and inspiring a light dusting of pink across the megalomaniac's face.
Mortified, Brain sputtered, "Nonsense! I thought nothing of the kind! I figured it was just one of your foolish whims-" But guilt quickly overtook embarrassment, as Pinky's ears fell and his eyes grew wide. Oh, who was he kidding? He'd been terrified. As he recalled the cruel words that sent his cagemate away, the fear that Pink had gone to locate an all too familiar bridge came creeping back into his heart. Too quickly to waste time thinking about it, Brain pressed his lips to Pinky's non-injured cheek and forced him to look straight in his eyes. "Pinky, you have no reason to apologize. Had I not lost my temper with you then none of this would've happened. So it is I who should be sorry, and I am. I couldn't ask for a better friend and I don't know what I'd do without you."
"I do," he sniffled, bumping their noses together. "I'll help you take over the world, Brain, and I'll stay with you forever. You'll never have to be lonely or sad. I promise."
"Pinky..." he sighed, tweaking one of his cagemate's ears. "Thank you." How this mouse could see through him so easily, see how much he depended on him when even Brain himself didn't know exactly how much until faced with losing him, unnerved him. But they were both coming down from emotional rollercoasters, clearly, so he let it slide. "Come. It has been an exhausting evening and we should rest up for tomorrow."
"You should dry off first, Brain." Pinky pulled back a little to look him over. "Why are you all wet?"
He cleared his throat, squirming out of Pinky's hold. "I was... checking for something, that's all." Checking to make sure his body wasn't at the bottom of the river. Suppressing a shiver, Brain latched onto Pinky's hand and tugged him along. "It seems as if you would benefit from a towel as well."
Indeed, Pinky's front and arms were damp from where he'd rubbed against him. "Right, Brain. And I can tell you all about what happened!"
"I'm sure you can," he deadpanned.
By the time they were curled up in bed, however, Brain was not certain what to make of Pinky's adventure. Whether truth or fiction, he resolved to seek out Snowball regardless and destroy any time related gadgets he may or may not have. Some things just shouldn't be tampered with.
"I love you," Pinky murmured sleepily, wrapped completely around the smaller mouse. "Narf."
Brain's breath caught in his throat and stayed there until he was certain Pinky was asleep. Then he released it in a soft sigh and brushed his lips against the base of his ear. "Goodnight, Pinky."
And while they slept, both could hear the sound of the other's heartbeat and it was enough for now.
And they all lived happily, ever after (except Snowball). The End! Poit!
Thank you all for reading! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did writing it. Time Travel FTW!