Panting. Breathing. Panting. Breathing.

I'm sooooo late. Breathing.

He's gonna kill me. Panting.

All these things took hold of his mind as he rounded the corner. Petals fell from his hastily crafted bouquet of carnations, daffodils, and daisies. He winced. Every petal meant something less beautiful to give to her, that radiant goddess of his heart.

There. The castle gates. And behind them, the great castle itself, brilliant shades of white and pink. He slowed, and resting his free hand on his knee, stopped to catch his breath. In front of him, an older mushroom guard leaned against his spear, smirking.

"Late, I see, Master Luigi?"

Luigi looked up, still breathing hard. The guard had a yellow cape, fastened by a pin on his left shoulder. Luigi remembered him; he was the only guard who ever remembered Luigi. (And apparently the only guard on duty today. Unusual, considering the habitual "visitings" of Bowser, King of the Koopas.)

"… H-How'd you know?" Luigi wheezed. The guard leaned forward on his spear, still smirking.

"Because. With the way Toadsworth's been yelling, how could'ya not?"

Luigi sighed. The old toad had taken stewardship of Princess Peach long ago, but as of late, he had apparently decided Daisy, who often came for visits, was in need of one as well. Which meant every action taken towards her had to be carefully monitored, every schedule met with precise timing, and proper formalities always given.

Being late would NOT be treated kindly.

Having finally taken his breath back, Luigi stammered, "Could ya let me in? … Please?" The guard crossed his arms.

"I think I'm gonna hafta see some paperwork, buddy." The guard recoiled at the sudden wave of animosity pouring from Luigi's eyes.

"Kidding! Kidding, " the guard said, holding up his hands. Luigi looked at him flatly before giving a light smile. The guy was obviously trying to cheer Luigi up, creating a pang of guilt for in Luigi's mind looking at him so hatefully. Luigi said nothing though, and walked past him, nodding and giving a polite "Thank you," whilst entering the gates.

Poor man. He's definitely gonna get it when he gets in there, the guard mused.

"Good luck with Toadsworth, buddy!" The Toad guard yelled as Luigi headed towards the main door.

If only he could remember the guy's name.



Luigi entered the vast doorway as two Toads opened the massive cherry-oak doors with a resounding boom.

Great. That had to have alerted the old man to me.

He entered, the soles of his shoes squeaking against the marble. Against the back wall a staircase swept out and around towards the ground. A plush red carpet cascaded down the steps. Luigi always felt at awe in this room, and in all honesty, a little awkward. To think, a plumber like himself in such a place!

Fearing Toadsworth's presence at any moment, Luigi quickly brushed off his button-down green shirt, and made sure his pants were high enough on his waist. He had chosen not to wear his overalls, seeing as how the occasion was rather special, and plumber's-wear was really only meant for, well, plumbing. He ran a hand through his brown hair, smoothed his mustache, and took one last moment to inspect his bouquet. The few petals that had fallen were all but unnoticeable, but to Luigi, it was as if the entire arrangement had been torn apart. Still, too late now. Maybe he could just move a flower or tw-

"MASTER. LUIGI." A stern voice called, nearly sending Luigi reeling. He grimaced, and pulled his free hand down his face.

Damn. Not him.

Luigi turned around to see an off-white mushroom cap, complete with brown spots, spot-on in front of him. To look farther down, he saw an old Toad's face scowling at him behind tiny spectacles, and an enormous, fluffy white mustache. Even farther down (if one could get past the scowling face) was a purple, sleeveless tailcoat over a lighter purple vest. In the Toad's hand was a mushroom-capped walking-stick, the colors reversed of that of his cap, tapping away at the marble floor.

But to any of this Luigi paid no notice, for he had stopped at the Toad's face.

"Toadsworth I-"

"NO. None of this cockamamie. Just what in Heaven's name do you think you're doing here this late?! It's half-past noon, and I distinctly recall hearing you say yesterday you would promptly be here by the stroke of ten for Miss Daisy. Now, I don't know who you think you are, thinking you can come at any time you very well please and make a lady wait like this. By George, in my day, you would have been swiftly kicked out of the castle for something like this and…" By now, Luigi had drifted away from the old Toad's lecture, and let his eyes unfocus as his mind wandered.

I wonder what Daisy's doing. I hope she isn't too mad at me. It's not my fault Mario had to go breaking my alarm this morning falling out of the bed. The least he could have done was get me up on time…

"… And that is how we handled things in my day. Now, because you are so negligent to schedules, I have taken the liberty to make one fo-"

"Toadsworth!" a feminine voice called, "Jeez, wouldjya leave him alone already?!"

Luigi looked up the grand spiraling staircase, and beheld a sight. At the top, in a simple yellow tank top and jeans was an auburn-haired beauty, her azure eyes throwing daggers towards the Toad. She tapped her foot impatiently.

"Princess Daisy! Stunning as usual. I was merely giving this ruffian the proper advice as to-"

"Well, don't! He already called me about being late."

"Yes, but-"

"And now he's here, so everything's cool. RIGHT?" The princess quickly descended the staircase as the Toad looked away with narrowed eyes. He was not happy about having his lecture interrupted.

Why, the very nerve! Toadsworth thought.

With that, he left, mumbling about "such ilk" or something similar.

"Hey babe!" the lady said, throwing her arms around Luigi. "Whatchya got there!"

"Oh, uh…" he chuckled, "Just some flowers. For you." He smiled bashfully. Daisy took the flowers up in her arms and sniffed them lovingly.

"Aw, they're beautiful! And with daisies, just for me!" She leaned forward and kissed him on his large nose, sending a flush of color through his face.

"Thanks sweetie." Daisy said, bounding off to find a vase. Upon returning, she leapt into Luigi's arms, nearly knocking him over.

"So, carnival, is it? You're not gonna puke on me with all the rides we're going on, are you?" she said coyly, tapping his nose. Truthfully, he probably was, but he certainly couldn't say so in front of her.

"Psh, naw!" he cried as he set her down.

"Then come on, let's go!" she cried. Luigi could only give a "woah!" as she tugged him out the door.



The day passed quickly, filled with screams, excitement, and stomach contents as Daisy and Luigi dashed through the Carnival, an annual attraction for Toad Town. Once a year it set up its tents, and treated all those who passed under the brilliantly colored archway to thrills and suspense, and maybe even a little romance. Every ride was ridden by the two, nigh inseparable, except, of course, when Luigi's face turned as green as his shirt. Yet, even he had to admit, he was having fun as he clasped the edge of the trashcan.

Looking up from the rim, his eyes lazily moved towards the ground, where he saw something sparkling in the dirt. He bent over and picked it up (careful not to move his stomach too much), and brushed the thing off, revealing a teal jewel, surrounded by six diamonds, creating the image of a daisy.

Daisy's brooch! It must have fallen off during one of the rides. I better give it ba-

His thoughts were interrupted as Daisy, again, clutched his wrist and dragged him towards another ride.

"Hey Dais, you dr-"

"Come one! This one, this one! It looks way awesome!"

"Nnh…"

"Please! Pleasepleasepleaseplease!"

To some, Daisy could be seen as too forward, even obnoxious at times. But Luigi knew she was only over-eager. She always meant well, and that eagerness was what gave her a winning edge in her sports.

Even so… it could get a little overwhelming at times.

Luigi, knowing he could never get through to her in her whimsy, tucked the brooch away into his pocket.



"Today was great Luigi. Thanks hun for inviting me."

Luigi looked down at Daisy, her arm wrapped in his.

"What's the matter? There's still a little daylight left, and there's a full moon tonight. We could see it at the top of the ferris wheel." She looked up at him pleadingly, then looked away.

"Yeah, but… Toadsworth said I had to be back before dark."

"Since when do you listen to Toadsworth, hm?

"I just… I just don't want you to get yelled at again. I know it can suck really bad." She paused. "You can walk me up to the castle gates if you want."

Luigi smiled. Inside, he wanted to spend forever with her gorgeous face. But he knew he wouldn't be the only one getting a talking-to if they didn't follow Toadsworth's rules. He sighed, and nodded.

"Sorry." Daisy said, her eyes shimmering sadly. Luigi kissed her cheek.

"It's cool... Don't worry."



The cool night air nipped at Luigi's nose as he made his way through the Forever Forest towards his mansion. Just a little farther, and he'd be in Boo's Wood, and then to his doorstep.

He breathed deeply. He had dropped Daisy off at Peach castle long before sunset, and was only now getting home. Normally only a half-hour run, Luigi had prolonged his walk far longer than usual. His mind was elsewhere.

The moon shone brightly, full and round upon the forest floor. In the day, Autumn had brought about its Midas touch, but at night, the moon had delicately turned every leaf into a silver ornament, glistening sweetly in the branches.

Dead leaves crunched beneath his soles, and Luigi casually placed his hands in his pockets. In one, he felt his small pocketknife, and in the other… something small and hard.

What's this…?

A thought dawned on him. He jerked his hand out of his pocket, and revealed a floral brooch in the shape of a daisy.

Shi-!

"Her brooch!" He cried. He turned on his heels and headed back through the dark forest.



Damn! Damndamndamn! How could I do that? So stupid!

Luigi sighed.

Frick.

More derogatory curses escaped him as he ran. By now, the moon shone directly above him, providing little light to show the way down the path.

Suddenly, Luigi tripped, and fell headfirst into a pile of decomposing leaves and twigs. A little stunned, but for the most part all right, he rolled over to sit himself up.

But at that moment, something leapt on him, pinning him down.

Luigi struggled, a huge weight crushing his chest. He fought for air. In the few gasps he could manage, he smelt something awful, like the horrid smell of decaying meat, and wet fur. He opened his eyes, and stared into the yellowed teeth of a monster. Behind its head was a sleek body on all fours, with dark fur rippling over its skin. Luigi swore that, if anything, it was the biggest dog he'd ever seen in his life.

Luigi jerked as the monster brought its jaws crashing down, eager for his flesh. Instead of his face though, it bit his shoulder deeply, tearing cloth, muscle and skin. Luigi yelped. He had to get this thing off, before it tore him to pieces. A free hand, trembling, reached into his pocket, and brought out his pocketknife. With a flick, he opened it, and returned the creature's favor by bringing it hard into the thick of the thing's arm. It threw its head back in agony and screamed, a horrible, wolf-like yowl, before leaping into the blackness of the forest, bounding deftly between the ancient, twisted tree trunks.

Breathing deeply, gasping, Luigi's fell limp. Waves of pain emanated from his should. He was losing blood. He could feel it, slowly leaving his body, that vital life essence. He was going to die there. He knew it.

And I never even got to give that damn brooch back.

He clenched the brooch hard, before darkness threw its veil over his eyes.