Mario? Yes, he had wished for this man. Had wanted him to come, to save him. Was this Mario? It didn't sound like him. Cords were struck by the name; images of a thick (accentmustachebody) came to the forefront, strong in his mind's eye. But, it wasn't there now. The man that was running now, holding the scarecrow of a man to his chest was thinner, shaved, different. Was this really the Mario Luigi had (dreamedwishedwantedhoped) for? It wasn't the same. But he wasn't the same either. Was he? He was thinner now, he was different. So, if he was different, who said that Mario couldn't be different too? It made sense, didn't it?

Too many questions, not enough brains to figure them out. If he even wanted to figure it out. It was too nice right now to break the spell. Funny, where dreams could take you. Right now they had him wrapped in a coat, in the arms of his brother, flying to safety. Flying. He had dreamed that so many times too. When the (whipschainsbladespain) got to be too much, he'd fly away. Just take to the clouds and escape. But after a time the clouds turned dark, the sky was closer, the pain followed. Flying was no longer a way out. But he was flying now, hugged close to a warm body. Warmth. The idea was still new for him. But it wouldn't last, he knew that.

Nothing lasted.

It was supposed to be cold. Luigi was always cold, so the idea that there was a different kind of cold was stupid to him. But Mario felt better talking, so Luigi let him. He had to admit, it was very nice to listen to someone talk. His "brother's" voice was (softrhythmicwarmcaringreal) to his ears. And Mario was talking softly to him, seemingly aware that the man in his arms was too weak to take much in at the moment.

"Peach and Daisy have missed you. They wrote me every day. It's funny; no matter where I was their pigeons knew where I was. I have all their letters still, you can read them later. They always asked about you. It's been a long time. Don't go back to sleep on me now, okay? It's cold out, you're lucky I had a jacket."

He had no idea what was being said. Words didn't make sense. All he knew was that he was hungry, and cold, and tired. Always tired. But he was flying, and there was something warm (byaroundholding) him. Why would it have to go away like everything else did? Only, maybe it wouldn't? It hadn't so far. This hallucination was staying a long time. Nothing ever stayed this long. Not even his (mindsanitypainnumbnesssleepwakelife) had stayed so long. He was glad, he didn't want this one to go away.

"We've looked a long time." They weren't moving now, he was somewhere. On something soft, with something warm and soft over him. His eyes were closed again, so he didn't have a clue as to where he was. Not that he would know were they open.

"Luigi, we…" Why was he talking like that? "We missed you. For a long time. We, we looked for three years Luigi. Where have you been?" Stupid question, he had been in that cell, duh? Luigi hummed a bit, trying to open his eyes. "Alright, alright, I know. I won't ask anything right now. We'll talk later. Let's get you something to eat, okay?"

He wasn't going to ask questions, right? So, wasn't that a question? His mind couldn't process. But it didn't seem long until there was a big hand supporting his neck, pulling his aching back close to whoever's chest, strong arms wrapping around him as his head rested on the other's shoulder. He felt…

Safe?

Was there such a thing?

Something was pressed against his lips; something warm was poured into his mouth. Reflexes worked apparently, as it slid down his throat and put heat back in his body. Soup? Was that what it was? It felt like it. More was spoon-fed to him (slowlycarefullylovingly) bit by bit. That was made very quickly… unless he had fallen asleep again. Meaning he had done what he had been told not to do. As that thought crossed his mind he flinched, knowing that disobedience brought (paintorturedeath) by claws of a giant flame-wielding turtle. The spoon fell; hot soup landed on his hand, a twitch came from him again sending him to the floor.

Carpet? Was this carpet? A yelp came from above him, and he was lifted off the floor again. Held tightly to the chest of the person that had been feeding him. He could (smellfeelhear) his brother. Something was different, but it was still Mario. He knew that now. He was hugged. Embraced tightly and almost shaken. Why was he shaking? Something wet and warm slid down his neck. Tears, they were tears.

"I mis- I missed you so much." Was whispered in his ear. Long fingers curled around a red shirt. Something wet and warm slid down his cheek. Tears, they were tears. Thicker fingers tangled in his long greasy hair. Mario sat, clutching his younger brother to his chest. Everyone thought he was crazy, going on and on looking for his brother like he had been. Three years on the road, trying to find where Luigi had been stashed. Bowser was hard to find, he was smart this time. But that was also what failed him.

You don't keep brothers so far away for so long. Not without finding some trouble from one of them. Bowser had given up where Luigi was, and Mario gained a new coffee table. Turtle shell will be the "in" thing next fall, he just knew it. It'll kill all the koopas in the land, and he could celebrate. He'd never have to see them ever again. That would be wonderful. And he'd never have to be away from Luigi again. To think that he had been so far away for so long.

He wouldn't think about it, never again. Luigi would not leave his side again. Mario was going to make sure of it. The man in his lap was so frail; scarecrows were thicker than his brother was. Mario was strong, he knew he was strong. But grasping his kid brother as he was now, he didn't even have to use any strength to snap his spine if Mario wanted too. Not that he wanted to, or would ever want too. But it would still be so easy. Far too easy. Because if Mario could do it without trying, then someone who was trying could do it. But he wouldn't let that happen, not now, not ever.

Luigi curled up in Mario's lap, surprising both of them with the sudden show of strength. But it was gone quickly. A tight ball, wearing nothing but Mario's coat, was pressed tightly to the broader chest. They sat like that for the rest of the night, Luigi listening to Mario's heart, Mario weeping softly into his sibling's hair. They fell asleep in the wee hours of the morning like that, and all that day, all the next night, only to wake up again in the morning. Both were exhausted, and both needed real sleep. Mario got it for the first time in three years of searching night and day. Luigi got it for the first time in three years of fear in a dungeon. They had both hit their bottom. Now, they could only reach (uphighhopefullyhappilyjoyfully). Life could go on now. Mario was going to do it, whether Luigi wanted to or not.