Notes: this was a short fic idea I've been sitting on for a while, and given that one of the focal points of my main World of Light fic is Luigi and his current disbelief in his own virtues and abilities, I finally decided to write this down. It takes place during Smash 4.
After a long day of matches, there was nothing like kicking back and relaxing with the friends and allies Mario had made as a result of the Smash tournaments. It had been an unexpected benefit of the competition, and though his travels had taken him far and wide before, he hadn't expected to find cherished friends from realms across space and time.
He, Luigi, and Peach had made it into the quarter finals, and with a day off before the quarter finals were to start, the fighters, assists, and other associated folks were set to enjoy a nice, quiet lunch.
Of course, nothing stayed quiet with that many competitive souls in one place; today's topic was courage, and who among them had the most of it.
"Well, the choice is obvious," Sonic said. "Link, being the bearer of the Triforce of Courage, is clearly the one among us with the most courage. I'll even admit it—going against Eggman is tough enough; I can't imagine repeatedly going up against Ganondorf again and again, in multiple lifetimes…"
"I will second this nomination, though I am obviously biased," Zelda said, suppressing an amused smirk.
The Hero of Twilight himself raised a glass in acceptance and acknowledgment of the nomination, which sparked the other fighters into nominate those they saw as worthy of the title of "most courageous."
Pikachu, in particular, started chattering rapidly and emphatically, proudly pointing at Samus.
"A brave bounty hunter who battles Space Pirates and other monsters in deep space?" Peach said. "I absolutely have to second this nomination!"
"Peach, come on!" Luigi exclaimed. "You're supposed to nominate or second my big bro!"
"Well, you and Pit are both willing and eager to do that; I'm sorry, but as much as I love and admire Mario, I have to give my vote to a fellow sister-in-arms!"
Mario chuckled good-naturedly, amused and not at all irked.
"Well then, let's you and I nominate him, Luigi!" Pit exclaimed. "I mean, come on! It's easy enough to have courage when you're some 'Chosen One' with a magic sword and a golden triangle that's called the 'Triforce of Courage' anyway!" This prompted Link to arch an eyebrow at the angel, who ignored him and continued. "But with Mario, you've got a guy from the middle of Brooklyn who ended up in a totally different realm with no idea of what was going on other than that an army led by a giant turtle was running amok. And he just charged ahead, improvised with what he could find, and became a hero! Now that's courage!"
"Seconded, of course!" Luigi said. "It's not just the Mushroom Kingdom my bro has saved—so many places and worlds, across the galaxy… He ends up so far from home, but he keeps going—nothing can stop him! …Well, maybe nothing except Mama…"
Other fighters now began nominating others—Charizard threw in a call for his trainer, Red (despite not being there in person), which Mewtwo seconded on the basis of having faced him before, while Lucina nominated Marth, who was seconded by both Ike and Meta Knight. Cloud and Captain Falcon also received nominations, as well.
"You've been quiet, Mario," Peach observed. "Yet, I'm sure you have someone in mind to nominate."
"You're right," Mario said. "The person I'm thinking about is far braver than Link or me or anyone else who's been mentioned here so far, and has accomplished more than I could ever hope to."
"Such praise," Peach said. She didn't seem surprised at all, having already guessed who Mario had chosen. "You obviously hold this person in extremely high regard."
"You can say that again," Mario said.
"So… who is it?" Lucas asked, genuinely curious.
Mario placed a hand on Luigi's shoulder.
"What!?" Luigi exclaimed, as most of the other fighters (aside from Peach and Mewtwo, who weren't surprised) looked on in stunned silence. "Bro, you've gotta be kidding!"
"I am absolutely serious," Mario insisted, and he cast a frown at Captain Falcon, who was audibly snickering. "Do you have something to say, Captain?"
"Even Luigi himself doesn't get why you'd nominate him," Falcon said. "I know I sure don't!"
"The idea was to determine who among us was the most courageous," Bayonetta mused. "Your brother isn't exactly known for such feats of bravery—quite the opposite, in fact. I was informed of his cowardice upon my arrival here."
"Whoever told you that was wrong," Mario insisted.
"Ah… okay, Big Bro, joke's over; you can stop pretending now…" Luigi trailed off as Mario gave him a look. "…Mamma mia, you really are serious!?"
"Of course—I already said that I was," Mario replied, and he turned to face the other surprised fighters. "All those things that Pit and Luigi said about me—that I'm not a chosen one, but an ordinary guy who ended up in a strange land with even stranger enemies, and then traveling to many lands and across the galaxy… those all apply to Luigi, too."
"That doesn't make him a courageous hero," Viridi scoffed. "That makes him a frightened sidekick—which is exactly what he is. You're clearly being subjective about this, just because you're his brother."
"Well, I second the nomination!" Dedede huffed.
"You do?" Luigi asked, stunned.
"Of course I do! Why else do you think I hand-picked you to be part of my contingency squad when we were dealing with Tabuu during the last tournament?"
"Uh… To be honest, I always thought it was just because I was right there," Luigi replied with a shrug.
The penguin rolled his eyes.
"I sought you out because I knew you had it in you—and I was right. You saved your brother and everyone else who fallen to Tabuu's first attack."
"Exactly!" Mario exclaimed. "That's exactly what I mean! I may be the one charging ahead, but that usually gets me into trouble—and I can always count on my little bro to get me out of it!"
"That still doesn't make him brave!" Viridi sneered. "He's afraid of nearly everything!" She demonstrated, looking directly at Luigi, who flinched and looked away. "See? He can't even look me in the eyes."
"That may have something to do with the fact that you're a goddess with a well-known, outspoken hatred for human beings," Pit said, dryly.
"Humans are weak, greedy, and selfish—and they let their emotions get in the way of absolutely everything!" Viridi countered. "If there's one human I could take seriously, it's Mario, but only to a point—his blind insistence of his brother's nonexistent courage illustrates my point perfectly!"
Mario now stood up so fast he knocked his chair over, ignoring it to glare at Viridi from across the table.
"Well, at least you can look me in the eyes," she complimented. "So tell me again, how does Luigi have more courage than you? I'll admit, in terms of raw skill, he might be the better fighter, but his lack of courage will forever hold him back."
"Because he can do everything I can do—and more, like all of his Dream World powers. And he's not just fighting Bowser's army or King Boo's minions when he does it," Mario said. "He's fighting all of the fears he has along the way—fears that he can't just forget about and pretend he doesn't have. I don't have those weighing me down, but I can always count on Luigi's support, even if he has to deal with them on top of everything we're facing. All of his doubts and anxieties—all the little voices telling him that he can't do these things—he ignores them all and does it anyway." He looked around the table. "Most of us here fell to Tabuu—even me. Even Link. Luigi, Ness, and Dedede were the ones who saved all of us. We wouldn't even be here if it wasn't for them—and this isn't the first time I've owed my life to my brother."
"Aw, man, when you put it like that, it really makes me wanna change my vote," Pit sighed.
"Please do," Mario said. "Anyone who wants to vote for me should vote for Luigi instead."
"Hmph," Viridi scoffed. "Well, if you want my opinion, you're all nuts if you think Luigi is a beacon of courage."
"Well, that's good that we don't want your opinion," Mario countered, prompting Bayonetta to cackle in amusement.
"I feel Mario should win this contest for sassing out a goddess, if you ask me!" she laughed.
That struck a nerve for Viridi.
"I'm not letting some smart-mouthed human have the last word!" she vowed, rising into the air, her staff in hand.
Mario struck a fighting stance to defend himself as the other fighters and assists backed away hastily from the table. But as she swooped in, she stopped in her tracks as Luigi now stood by his brother's side, also striking a fighting stance. His breathing was bit shallow from nervousness, but he refused to leave his brother's side and was, at last, staring the goddess in the eyes. Standing up to Viridi to defend his brother had been pure instinct, and yet, the point was made.
Mario gave the briefest of glances to his brother before looking back at Viridi with a look that positively scream, "I told you so."
"…Hmph…" Viridi muttered, backing off. "You two aren't worth my divine efforts, anyway."
Whether she had truly lost interest in the entire situation or whether she was just trying to save face at this point, they didn't know, but, nonetheless, Viridi departed the lunch gathering altogether. Phosphora went with her out of loyalty.
And the others returned to their seats at the table.
"Perhaps we should change the subject," Palutena suggested.
Agreement among the others was unanimous, and conversation soon turned to the topic of how good the food was—something else they could all agree on, as well.
As they ate and chatted about the food, the brothers exchanged glances again, Luigi silently transmitting a grateful Thanks at his brother, who silently acknowledged the message.
Maybe, Luigi thought to himself, he really was braver than he realized.