The beeping of the various monitors hooked up to Luigi only served to punctuate the heavy tension in the hospital room. Mario could only look on as his brother laid in the bed, barely moving except for the occasional twitch accompanied with a slight moan. He didn't even want to think about Luigi's baby counterpart, who the doctors said was in even worse condition.
A light knock at the door took Mario's attention away from Luigi, and as he turned his head the door cracked open and a green head hesitantly poked through. Not saying a word, Mario motioned for Fawful to come in. He did, seeming more reserved and perhaps even uncharacteristically timid. "Is he...having improvement?" Fawful asked sheepishly.
"I don't know," Mario replied. "He's stabilized, at least, but since they couldn't even figure out why..."
"It is being the fault of mine," Fawful murmured.
"Your fault?" Mario asked. "How...but you were nowhere near him when he collapsed..."
"But you have the knowledge of what happened to the baby of his likeness, yes?" Fawful asked. "I... I am insisting it was being accidental. The damage I had causing must have effect on Luigi due to the shenanigans of time."
Mario said nothing. He removed his hat and sighed. "I think you should leave, Fawful," he said finally. For once, Fawful had no clever retort. He merely nodded and exited the room once more. From down the hall, he could hear the loud, angry stomps of heavy footsteps, and they were approaching fast.
"Bowser, no!" Peach's voice trailed down the hall, clearly in pursuit of whoever was stomping toward him. "What makes you think he's the one responsible for this?"
"I know when someone's up to something better than anyone else here!" Bowser's voice shouted, and soon enough the rest of him came into view. He noticed Fawful and narrowed his gaze. "Don't you dare move, green bean!" he bellowed, running at him in a rage. Fawful tried to run, but Bowser's larger size (and thus longer stride) allowed him to catch up before he could get very far. He grabbed Fawful and pinned him up against the wall, his claws wrapped around his neck loose enough to merely put the fear of them tightening into him without actually doing it. "What the hell's your deal, you little dweeb?!" Bowser roared. "No one's allowed to take out either of those plumbers without MY say-so!"
"You can't just blame him for this!" Peach, having finally caught up to Bowser, insisted. "That thunder thing with Baby Luigi was an accident!"
"Yeah, but how'd he get that power, huh?" Bowser retorted. "Didn't you say that last time we were in the Beanbean Kingdom that Luigi got some fancy electrical powers? So how'd this nutty bean get it, then? Ripped it out of him somehow, I bet!"
"I-I swear I am not knowing..." Fawful said, trying not to give Bowser any reason to tighten his grip around him.
"A likely story," Bowser growled.
"I can't believe you!" Peach said exasperatedly. "Bowser, please, just let him go!"
Bowser let out another growl of protest, but complied with the princess's wishes. He dropped Fawful and stormed off in a huff. Gingerly rubbing his neck, Fawful breathed a sigh of relief before standing back up. "I...have the thinking that I will be leaving to the lobby," he said.
"That's probably for the best," Peach said. Clearly she didn't trust him as well as she had seemed to before, or at least she didn't trust his newfound ability to not go off without warning.
Quickly, Fawful made his way to the elevator and headed down to the ground floor. Once there, he noticed Link sitting on one of the couches in the waiting room. "So how're they doing?" Link asked, somewhat somber.
"Luigi is seeming to have stability," Fawful told him. "I am not knowing about his baby self."
"That's troublesome," Link said. "I...think it's safe to say the tournament's being put on hold, huh?"
Fawful didn't answer, and instead just sat down beside him with a sigh. "I have regret," he said simply.
"Understandable," Link said. "But you know it's not your fault, right?"
"But the fault is mine, even with it being accidental," Fawful insisted. "The thunderhand had the attachment to me, the shock leapt out of me, it is just being me." He groaned. "I am wishing I could be going back to then and have stopping myself somehow."
Link jolted upright. "Go back in time, you say?" he asked, intrigued.
"I think that is what I had saying," Fawful said. "But it lacks the possibility, at least with the materials we are having access to."
"Maybe not," Link said. He started to manically check his pockets, before finding what he had been looking for and removing it. The object was a slightly oblong, potato-shaped blue trinket that appeared to be made from some sort of ceramic material, its surface having holes drilled atop it and a piece jutting out from the side. "This might be able to fix everything!" he exclaimed, beaming with pride.
"And...what is that potato being?" Fawful asked.
"This is a relic of the Hyrule royal family," Link explained. "It's called the Ocarina of Time. And that name's not just a fancy title, either. It can actually take someone through time, both forwards and backwards. I've only known of it to work within the range of a few days, which might just be perfect for what you want."
"And your claims are having the truthfulness?" Fawful's eyes widened at the prospect.
"Well, in all fairness, I've never tried it myself," Link said. "I've heard that someone similar to me used it for that purpose, but I have no idea if that was real or just a legend. And if it was true, for all I know, it could've had its magic exhausted by now."
"There is being no reason for us to not try!" Fawful exclaimed.
"All right, then." Link stood up, the ocarina held delicately in his hands. "Now if I remember the story about how this works, it'll send us back to where we were at the time of whenever we get sent back to. I guess that's to prevent any instances of meeting yourself or something?"
Fawful nodded. "So I am needing to keep my mind at its usual sharpness for the preventing of an incident of repetition," he said.
"Yeah, just be careful." Link held out his arm, which Fawful took hold of. When he was sure that Fawful had a good grip on his arm, Link began to play a tune on the ocarina. All of a sudden, the world seemed to fall away, swirling around them to the point where looking at their surroundings started to make Fawful feel ill. He closed his eyes before his stomach rebelled against him, the eerie tune ringing in his mind...
Fawful's eyes were still closed, though he could feel that the air around him was now pleasantly warm, especially compared to the overpowering air conditioning he had just been standing in minutes before. "Did it have successfulness?" he asked, but with no answer. He opened his eyes. The walls of the hospital were no longer surrounding him, but were replaced by his vehicle and the garage it had been sitting in. "It did!" he gasped. "Link, we are being—" But Link was no longer beside him. He then remembered how Link had explained the way the ocarina's time travel worked, and that Link had not been in the garage on the night of the of the incident. "So, it is just being Fawful in loneliness again."
Everything was just as it was the first time it had happened. He couldn't see a clock from the part of the garage he was in, and he didn't trust any timekeeping devices he might have on his person in case they were still on future time like his memories were, but considering that there was no sign of either of the baby Mario Bros and no one was panicking or screaming he had definitely arrived before the incident.
Fawful made his way over to the exact place where he was when the incident proper had taken place, right by his vehicle. It looked like it hadn't yet been messed with, so perhaps he had gotten there a few minutes early...or closer to an hour. He began to mess around with the vehicle again as he had the first time he had gone through these events, keeping an ear out for any sounds that might indicate the approach of Baby Luigi. Soon enough, he heard it: the tiny footsteps that could only come from someone wearing baby shoes and was still somewhat inexperienced with the art of walking. This time he wouldn't be startled.
"Fobble!" Baby Luigi exclaimed, grabbing onto Fawful's cape like he had the first time.
"Y-yes, that is the name you are calling me," Fawful said hesitantly. "Could you be giving me some time alone? I have the need to do some working with this."
"Fobble not play?"
"No, Fawful will not have playing. You are needing sleep, now go have the sleep."
Baby Luigi looked disappointed, but as he walked off Fawful knew it was definitely better than being on death's door. It was a strange feeling, having changed the past. In all fairness, he had more than changed the past of a day or so, but if the effect that his prior attack on the younger Luigi had on the older counterpart was anything to go by he had also fixed the course of history. Either way, he had undone his mistake and was now in the clear. He really wasn't in the proper state of mind to overthink these time shenanigans.
Once he was sure that Baby Luigi was no longer in the area, Fawful made a break for it back to the hotel. He didn't quite know why, but he felt like it would only make sense to tell Link their impromptu plan had worked—after all, the whole thing would've been impossible without him. Also, he no longer had the motivation to try and modify his vehicle, he just wanted to move on to the next day with 100% less chance of someone dying due to his actions.
He entered the lobby to see Link making his way toward the exit. "We have...we have victory," Fawful told him almost breathlessly, giving him a thumbs-up.
"So it really worked, then?" Link sighed. "That's a relief. I was actually just about to come see if everything worked out okay. You, uh...you didn't see your past self or anything, did you?"
Fawful shook his head. "None of the time copies had showing up," he said.
"Well, that's good," Link said with a smile. "Maybe we should get some rest. It's been a crazy day for the two of us, even if no one else experienced it."
"I am in agreement," Fawful said. "I have the need for a bed of softness and warmth."
The next morning was as normal as the days during a racing tournament could be, at least it was for all but one of the racers. Despite the events of the past night having been reset and thus no one apart from two people remembering any of it, Fawful couldn't help but feel a bit of tension with the other racers, particularly whenever he was with one of the Luigis. He felt awkward any time he had to make conversation with Luigi or humor Baby Luigi's babbling, unable to tell at least the older version about the time travel save without him possibly becoming confused of upset. As for Baby Luigi, he could probably explain everything to him with no fear of him not being able to understand any more than how a baby would understand any other complicated concepts, but he wasn't going to bother trying to explain anything to a freaking baby. He wasn't their dad.
Soon enough, it was time for the final race. The racers were all set to go, waiting outside Woohoo Hooniversity's doors. As the doors slowly opened before them and the starting lights began, Fawful tightened his grip on his steering wheel, preparing to make this count. He was determined to win this one, for his sake if nothing else.
The lights turned green and the racers set off, speeding through the front hall. They zoomed past the mirrors in the next room, passing into the anti-gravity field that took them onto the ceiling. As Fawful was gaining on the two in first and second place, he heard something coming up behind him. He glanced back just in time to see a red shell smack right into him, knocking him out of the anti-gravity field and into a large bookshelf along the wall. Mimi sped past him before he managed to recover from his spinout, laughing as she exclaimed tauntingly, "I'm gonna beat you again, Fawful!"
"You will not be having victory this time," Fawful said with his trademark grin. He made his way through the access tunnel in hot pursuit of those currently placing ahead of him. Once he got into the underground labs, he grabbed an item box that ended up containing a Bullet Bill. He activated it, and upon doing so was shot forward at a high velocity, no longer having direct control over his vehicle but not being directed into any hazards at the same time. The Bullet Bill was taking him through the central vent and into the midair anti-gravity field above the Hooniversity with incredible speed, relinquishing control back to him just before the gliding ramp. He was in second place now, ahead of Mimi and right behind Princess Peach.
Soon enough the three high-placed racers had all started their second lap. As they made their way through the hall of lights and mirrors again, Yoshi soon came up from behind them and passed both Fawful and Mimi, tossing a green shell behind him that happened to catch Fawful off-guard and sending him back into fourth. They went through the anti-gravity field again and Fawful grabbed the first item box he could get his hands on. He activated it without even looking at the contents within. The whizzing sound that left the box and the blue streak overhead told him all he needed to know. A large burst of blue smoke signaled the impact the blue shell made and he sped past all three of them with a gloating laugh.
The rest of the second lap went smoothly for Fawful, and he was able to slide into the third lap with a healthy lead. He kept the lead all the way through the lights and mirrors and past the library, making his way into the access tunnel and grabbing another item box on the way. As he entered the underground labs, he could hear engines swiftly approaching behind him. He glanced back—Mimi was closing in on him on his left, and Peach on his right, both vying for second place and inching ever closer to taking his place in first. Just then, a strange garbled noise rang out through the lab. Fawful recognized the old Peachbot's failing speaker and winced a bit, but nothing could take his mind off the goal this time. "What was that?" Peach asked upon hearing the sound, concerned.
"They've got some kinda monster down here or something?!" Mimi shrieked.
"It is nothing to have worrying about," Fawful said with a smirk. "There is only thing you should have the worrying for, and that is the eating of my dust!" He took the banana peel he had been holding onto and tossed it back, knocking Mimi back and sending Peach for a bit of a loop as she attempted evasive maneuvers.
Fawful floored it, speeding through the vent and into the anti-gravity field. As the floating road began to curl on itself, he could hear what he assumed to be Peach and Mimi closing in. He hit the gliding ramp, soaring down to the starting line...closer...almost there...
"We have a winner, people! We have a winner!"
Fawful had touched down just past the starting line, with Peach coming in just after him and Mimi in third place behind her. "Aw, shoot," Mimi said in a bit of a huff. "I was totally gonna win this time!"
"Well, that was fun," Peach said happily.
The results screen nearby the starting line showed as everyone was finishing up, placing them each for that race. It then switched over to show how everyone had placed via the combined results of all the races; humorously, Peach and Mimi's placements in this particular race were switched in the overall placements. That didn't matter to Fawful, of course. He stared at the name of the number one racer, a sense of giddy pride within him. "I had the success," he said breathlessly to himself. "I am giving the 110 percents and I am doing it."
The awards ceremony was as grand as it ever had been. The three highest-placed drivers overall approached the podium in their winning vehicles with crowds of cheering fans on either side of the small road. It was definitely a surprise that the two newcomers to have gotten through the preliminary time trials had both taken first and second, and while he couldn't speak for Mimi, Fawful knew that he couldn't be prouder of himself for his accomplishment. Well, to be fair, there were prouder moments in his life, but he could easily overlook them for this one.
Fawful, Mimi, and Peach all stepped onto the podium and onto the level of their respective placement; Peach in third, Mimi in second, and the bean himself in glorious first. A couple of Lakitu floated around with cameras, and a third Lakitu approached the three winners.
"Racers and race fans alike," the third Lakitu announced, "it is my great pleasure to officially announce the winners of the Beanbean Cup!" Everyone, the racers and the fans, either cheered or politely clapped. "You can no doubt conclude who has won by their positions here, but let's make it a little more real for everyone, shall we?" A Toad wearing an official race staff vest standing nearby handed Peach a bronze trophy. "In third place, the lovely monarch of the Mushroom Kingdom, Princess Peach!" Peach took hold of her trophy gracefully, to the cheers of nearly everyone.
Another officially-dressed Toad on the other side of the podium handed a silver trophy to Mimi. "In second place, the shapeshifter from another dimension, Mimi!" Mimi also took her trophy, and as the crowd cheered once more she winked at them and giggled.
The announcing Lakitu then pulled the coveted golden trophy out of his cloud, along with a large amount of coins. "And our first place winner," the Lakitu announced, "the Beanish menace known only as Fawful!"
The crowd erupted in cheering and applause, but Fawful could barely register their excitement over his own glee. He took hold of his well-earned prize and exclaimed proudly, "I have victory!"
"Not for long, you don't!"
All at once, the podium was surrounded by Beanbean Castle guards. They all had their weapons drawn and were pointing them at Fawful. The crowd gasped and began to murmur to themselves in confusion. Soon enough, the person responsible for this revealed himself. Prince Peasley descended from the sky on his winged bean, his own sword drawn. "Now that this event is over, the time seems highly appropriate to finally bring you to justice, Fawful," Peasley proclaimed, a smug smile on his face. "It would be in your best interest to just come quietly."
Fawful wasn't surprised by this turn of events at all. In fact, his own grin barely faltered despite being surrounded by armed guards. "Silly prince of peas and bad hair," he said with a bit of a laugh. "Are you believing you have gotten the dropping on Fawful?"
Peasley gave him an odd look. "And just what is that supposed to mean?" he asked.
"It has meaning..." All at once in a flurry of movement, Fawful had equipped his headgear, gotten a firm hold on his trophy and prize money, and instantly took off from the podium and into the sky. His laughter echoed across the ceremony space as he sped away, leaving the guards dumbfounded and the crowd ecstatic.
As he soared over the Beanbean Kingdom, only slightly weighed down by the physical weight of his winnings and the mental weight of what he was going to do next, his only regret was that he hadn't stuck around for the afterparty. Of course, it was probably for the best, seeing as how Peasley's forces likely would have ambushed him there if they hadn't decided to try detaining him at the award ceremony. For now, he could at least take a small bit of comfort in the fact that he would likely not have to be in hiding anymore, especially if he tried to make a new life for himself in the Mushroom Kingdom.
He would definitely be able to support himself if that were the case, considering the prize money was all in Beanbean coins.
AN: Aaaand we're done! Thank you guys so much for sticking through this with me. I'll admit I lost my muse for writing several times during the course of the story, but I was determined to finish it no matter what (though I suspect the conclusion may have been a little anticlimactic for some people's tastes... in which case, sorry for disappointment, but at least it was roughly the conclusion I had in mind from early on and not just a cop-out to finish earlier). I think I'm gonna take a break from fanfic for a bit after this, or at least from strictly Mario fanfic. I really do need to work on my novels and the ever-present job hunt, especially the latter for various reasons. Although I do have an idea for a third installment to this...but I'll worry about that later. Love you guys.
Also to PaintBrushJr, I noticed your little playful jab about an update coming in eight months, so I made myself get into gear just because of that. I'd do a winky-face here but I don't remember if FFN undoes emotes or not, hehe.
—Jess aka PuppyLuver256