Two weeks later.
"Thank you, young man, for fixing my plumbing."
"No problem," Luigi replied, straightening his cap and smiling.
"Where is that brother of yours?"
"Oh…he's home. Uh…sick," Luigi lied. "And I'm a real plumber now, so--"
"Oh you are? Well, isn't that nice!"
"Thank you so much." The elderly lady held out her hand as Luigi took the pay. Counting it briefly, he frowned.
"This is more than we charge, ma'am. Here…" He tried handing the five dollar bill back, but the old woman was persistent.
"Go on, buy yourself some lunch."
Luigi hesitated, than smiled at her generosity, thanking her. "Have a good day, ma'am."
"You too!" The lady watched him climb into the van. "Good Moses, would I like to get some of that…"
As Luigi drove down the street, he couldn't help but feel the old woman's stare piercing at the back of his head, and he shivered.
It had been two weeks. Two weeks since he rescued his brother. Two weeks since he and Mario defeated Bowser, or at least held him off for a while as they fixed the pipe and sent Lieutenant Leaks back. Poor guy was so traumatized…neither of the Marios figured he would spill the beans about the Mushroom Kingdom judging from the terrified yet grateful and oh-thank-you-for-saving-me-look he had on his face. He may even need to be institutionalized, chuckled Luigi to himself. Two weeks since…Ali….
He shook his head, biting his lip and trying to focus on the road through his tears. He pulled off at a flower shop, then returned with a bundle of color a few moments later, continuing his drive back home. He arrived at the apartment and noisily opened the door, tossing his boots on the floor.
"Geez, you sure make an entrance for yourself," grumbled the "sick" Mario as he got up from his napping place on the couch, rubbing his eyes. "You were supposed to be home twenty minutes ago."
"I got sidetracked."
Mario noticed the bunch of flowers. "For me?" he squealed in the most girly voice an Italian plumber could manage.
Luigi shook his head, smiling sadly. "No…"
"Oh." Mario grew quiet and felt like kicking himself. "We can leave anytime you want."
"Thanks. Soon would be nice."
"How'd the job go?" asked Mario, tying his shoe laces.
"It went all right. Nothing bad happened…nothing exploded…" Luigi glared at his brother's innocently questioning look, "But that old lady creeps me out."
"Who? Miss Flemiel?"
"Ugh…" Luigi shivered involuntarily as he shut the door to his room to change out of his work clothes. "She kept…looking at me," he called through the door, obviously disturbed.
Mario chuckled to himself and stood up to gaze at Luigi's diploma. They had been lucky enough to retrieve it at Bowser's castle, and presented it to the Northern School of Plumbing proudly. Mario sighed contentedly, glad that his brother could work along side him and not just under him. He also hoped this meant he wouldn't get too lazy, or worse…get put out of a job by his own family.
"That'll be the day," Mario half assured, half prayed to himself and to whoever was listening. Luigi came out of his room in a hurry, hopping on one foot and trying to get his sock on the other.
"Are you ready, Mario? Come on, we don't have all-oof!" Luigi toppled over and landed on the floor with a clunk. "…ow."
Mario smiled and helped his brother off the floor. Nope. He won't be stealing my business anytime soon. Same old, great Luigi.
They got in their van, Luigi gripping the bouquet of daisies gently but firmly; he wasn't about to let them fly free on the bumpy back streets of Brooklyn. They drove in silence until Mario cleared his throat hesitantly. "You okay, Luigi?"
Taking a deep breath, Luigi answered softly. "…Yeah."
"I'm, sorry this happened."
Luigi anxiously looked out the window fingering the flower bouquet. "Yeah, me too."
"Are you sure you're okay?"
"Mario, I'm fine!" Luigi tried to dismiss the topic, tried to be cheery but felt rather aggravated.
"Well…you haven't talked much about it, since…"
"Look, I'm okay, I just…I just need some time."
They pulled up to a gated area and parked between two other cars. Luigi got out slowly, not entirely sure he that he wanted to. Mario walked with him up a grassy path and through two double doors. They didn't need to ask for directions; Luigi knew where they were headed.
"I'll wait here." Mario stalled a ways off from his kid brother's destination. Luigi urged him with his eyes to follow, but Mario smiled and waved him off. "I'll only be a second," he assured. The younger plumber turned again to his target, sighing heavily and nervously, and kept walking. His boots made funny clunking sounds on the floor beneath him. A door…without a second thought he pushed it open and held his breath.
There she lay…on a pure white bed in this hospital in Brooklyn. Her porcelein skin was slightly paler than usual, and her dull green eyes were closed in sleep, but Luigi couldn't help and feel she was still beautiful. He quietly entered, letting the door barely make a sound as it shut behind him. He carefully set the flower bouquet on her bedside table, reminding himself to ask a nurse for a container with water. He sat in an old, stained hospital chair next to her and leaned his elbow on the mattress, his chin in his hand, thinking.
"You're so beautiful," he murmured in spite of himself, knowing no one could hear him. Casting his eyes downward, he whispered. "Those doctors don't know what they're saying. You'll get well. You're getting better everyday, I can feel it." He read his head in the crook of his elbow, waiting and praying by her side for what felt like an hour. Luigi had almost started to doze when he felt a small touch on his hand, and a small, tired voice say, "Luigi?"
Aw, how sweet. She lives!
[Yeah….so how'd he meet Ali?]
That, is none of your business, Mario.
[Come on! I'm his brother, I have a right to know!]
So ask him yourself.
*gasp* Do not!
Oh all right! You want something juicy? Ask him what he did the night before his exams.
That's right. Go ahead, ask him.
[Uh…what were you doing the night--]
(Shutup, Robin Lee!)
…in the name of loooove! Heehee…
[Come on, Weege, tell me.]
I'll tell ya! *beams*
(I said shutup!)
Ah…it'll cost ya.
(Grr…..All right. Do you take mushroom coins?)
…How much ya got?
(Fine! Take them all! Geez…)
[*gasps, appalled* You weren't looking through Riley's magazines, were you??]
(*thinking: Riley has dirty magazines?* No! Of course not!)
*shrugs* Close enough, though.
(*screams* Nothing happened!!!! Robin Lee, when I'm through with you I'm gonna gut you like a fish!)
Yoink! *runs off*
Okay, crummy ending, I will admit. Too fast too soon...I put this together during one of my bored streaks. If this had gotten any cheesier, I'd be swimming in Super Mario Macaroni! But I wrote it, I finished it, and Ali wasn't dead after all. It was a trick! Yes! Mwa ha ha! Al right. Review if you must. Oh yeah and Weegie wants me to tell all you beautiful people that nothing REALLY happened the night before his exam. Come on people. The man has morals. ^_^