A/N There are times I like to take unofficial canon- something that usually bores me or annoys me- and turn it on its head, making it work for me. Today (lmfao today cos I started this piece 3 months ago and am now randomly finishing it) would be one of those instances.
I'm not sure if I've stressed this enough, but THANK YOU. Thanks for the incredible reception of Piece of Cake and Down To Earth. The former got the most favorites and reviews for any oneshot I've ever written before, and the latter, while had a slow start, has four favorites for its first chapter.
For this one I took scrapped level series ideas from the Level Designer on the flash game Super Mario 63 (omg advertising but its so greaaaaat) and made a oneshot out of some details. In retrospect, this is almost identical to the structure of a Truetobeblue story, only with some role reversal. I was also inspired by Mika's song "Any Other World" as I wrote this piece.
Disclaimer: I own nothing, regret nothing, and let them forget nothing.
Perhaps it was because she didn't get out all that much, but Rosalina found it exhilarating to sit on the edge of the observatory, her feet dangling in endless space. Even through millennia of experience, she still felt a little fearful when she stared down into the nothingness of the universe. At the same time, though, it was indelibly thrilling.
She sighed, tilting her head so that it was no longer facing beneath her, but so that it was on the grass, looking above instead. The surroundings were all the same, yet always different. It was definitely something, to say the least. Unfortunately, they had been at this patch of space for a few hours now, and she could- probably had, really- memorized every bit of it and paint it the next day if she wanted to, she had observed it for so long.
It was just one of those days. Or nights. Or span of twenty-four hours. Really, she didn't know what to call it up here.
She tried turning on her side, tilting her head so that it faced at a diagonal angle. Even then, it still didn't look very new. She sighed under her breath and clambered to her feet, stretching her arms up as high as she could. Even if the stars were all too familiar by now, they sure were amazing. Especially since they truly were her children.
She strolled casually along the terrace of the observatory, taking in the quiet when it was suddenly broken. A small thud reverberated through the ground, causing her to pull a quick 360. She noticed a familiar human on the ground, crawling to its feet. The Lumas had taken notice, swarming out the observatory and towards the stumbling figure. Try as she might, the swarm beat her to it and were anxiously chatting the person up.
"Are you okay?"
"That was quite a fall!"
"Is everything alright in the kingdom?"
"Certainly didn't expect you here!"
"My god! Scare us, why don't you!"
This time there was a foreign response, a voice that was high pitched but clearly male. "No, no. I'm fine, don't worry about me. I was braced for impact and all. Don't worry."
"I'm not worried about you! I'm worried that you almost scared me to death!" the last Luma argued angrily.
"Please, Rion!" Rosalina herself broke in, having recognized the man's voice. "Let us not be so impolite to our guest!" Reaching out a hand, she pulled him up. "...it does prove a good point, however. Luigi, how did you get up here? Is everything okay down there? If I had known you needed to get up here I could have arranged a transport of some sort."
Luigi dusted himself off and, reading the concern in her eyes, replied "Oh... sorry about that. Everything's fine, and, no, I shouldn't have come unannounced."
"...so why are you here? How are you here?" Rosalina was confused, but not apprehensive.
"Oh..." Luigi turned a bit red, as if he hadn't formulated an answer. "I... had found a sling star from back on one of the adventures... figured that I could use it and get up here."
"...so you took a sling star up here," she voiced her thoughts, "not knowing where it'd lead you?"
"...that was...how do I say this..."
"No! Not stupid... okay perhaps a bit… but you could have landed anywhere in the galaxy."
"Yeah..." he replied lamely, scratching his head. "I know, I just had a feeling I'd end up here, y'know?"
Rosalina raised an eyebrow, but smiled slightly. "After all the effort and risk, and no one in danger, what brings you up here?"
Luigi sighed, face downcast. "This is going to sound incredibly selfish, but... I needed someone to talk to."
To his surprise, Rosalina smiled. "Actually... the idea of someone traveling aimlessly through the galaxies is quite... endearing, you could say." With a humored sigh, she added "but then again this is coming from someone who is somewhat of a shut in. Haven't had a visitor in... forever, it seems."
Luigi chuckled nervously. "Well, then I apologize that the one time someone bothers to visit you is here to gripe about his life."
"Oh, I don't mind," she replied breezily, not hesitating for a moment. "Really, I don't. You're a friend, Luigi, and if you need help in any way I'm glad to offer what I can."
Luigi smiled slightly. "Well... thanks, then. I'll try not to drive you nuts."
Rosalina shook her head. "Honestly, I'm prepared to hear out whatever you have. Don't keep anything in; it'll just frustrate you in the end."
He nodded, shifting his weight where he stood from one foot to another. Rosalina noticed he felt uncomfortable and motioned to the Lumas. "If you will, children, retreat to the mansion while I have a word with our friend Luigi, alright?"
Luigi was surprised to hear the chorus of disappointed grumbles and words, but eventually, they all started a chain of "Bye, Luigi!" as they sped back into the Observatory. Luigi chuckled, allowing Rosalina to take his hand and walk him through the garden.
"I like your kids," he quipped.
"As do I," she giggled. "Quite the adorable group, they are. And such a bright future ahead of them."
Luigi took a few seconds before he realized "Ah! Literally!" With a nervous chuckle, he added "Pardon me, I'm feeling rather slow today."
Rosalina smiled fondly, noting that the adventurer looked almost… normal, without his usual green getup, instead refusing his hat and wearing a brown polo shirt over jeans. She stated "Well, I'm not one for using puns very often, so I'm just glad I didn't mess it up."
"You didn't," Luigi assured her, taking the liberty of a seat along the edge of the courtyard, over the galaxies.
Rosalina took a place next to him. "It's been awhile since I've seen you last."
"Not since the kart racing tournaments, right?"
"Exactly!" Rosalina smirked just a bit. "The last time I saw you was when you were on the receiving end of a red shell."
"In Coconut Mall," Luigi chuckled. "I swear, I still have escalator imprints on my legs."
Rosalina laughed out loud. "Ah, treasured memories." Her face clouded considerably as she reminded him "Anyway, I believe you offered me some griping?"
Luigi sighed. "Oh, yes. Of course." He took a deep breath to start, but he found that he couldn't. Silence reigned the distance between them as he looked down in the space under them.
Almost nonchalantly, he stated "Sometimes I wonder what it'd be like to jump."
A bit startled by his context, she asked "Whatever do you mean by that?"
Luigi sighed again. "To take a leap off of this observatory. Into endless space. Just to see what would happen."
He noticed that Rosalina gripped his arm fervently, her eyes echoing her fear.
"I swear, I'm not going to," he insisted.
She refused to let him go. "But why would you want to do that?"
"Like I said… no one's ever done anything crazy like that and come back to tell the world. I want to do something no one else will do. Living to tell the tale is optional, I just want to have that one crazy, stupid, brilliant moment that no one else will have."
Rosalina was quiet as she drifted apart from him, shaken by his words, words she had never thought anyone would ever say. Luigi noticed her stunned expression and sighed. "Like I said, I didn't mean to disturb you."
"Luigi… I'm sorry, it's just that… you're kind of worrying me."
"Gods above, Rosalina. I'm sorry. Don't worry about me. I'm not actually going to do anything stupid like that. I'm worried that it would be a sort of last ditch surrender."
"But why would you consider it?"
"…I don't know."
The silence returned. Rosalina didn't like it one bit.
Thankfully, Luigi picked up the conversation. "I've also come to the conclusion that the majority of people don't know anything about anyone."
Rosalina smiled grimly. "That's basic fact, Luigi. Everyone in existence doesn't know any more than a hundred people. To make assumptions about the rest of the universe is beyond their capability."
"I wish more people thought the way you did."
Rosalina frowned quizzically. "You don't think I was being too literal about it?"
"I think that sometimes a literal approach would make people a hell of a lot smarter."
Rosalina couldn't help beaming. "Thanks…" was all said before she drifted back into silence. She looked at Luigi, her head slightly turned so that he didn't feel any pressure that a dead stare would have given him. She waited as he considered his words carefully.
"It's just so ironic how people's perception that I have one problem is really giving me an entirely different one," were the ones he chose.
She cocked her head at him, finally giving him her full gaze. "You'll have to elaborate. I don't keep up with the news."
Luigi chuckled, and for a moment, the courtyard seemed a bit brighter. His mood returned to the way it was before as his words became cryptic. "Well, it's like they have a skewed view of me having a dumb complex that's really giving me another complex altogether."
"I apologize… but isn't that just a rephrasing of your prior sentence?"
Luigi sighed. "It is? Gods above."
Rosalina's hand found its way to his. "Luigi… can you please just be straightforward with me?" she pleaded.
He sighed, stroking her knuckle with his thumb. "I… I'm sorry, I never wanted to make you so worried. I just… I feel lost."
"Luigi," her voice was firm. "Please stop apologizing. I am more than happy to hear you but in order to do that, you're going to have to talk. Really talk."
A smile crossed his face for a moment, and Rosalina couldn't tell if it was grim, grateful, curious or some combination of the three. When he spoke again, the smile disappeared.
"I wish people knew what you knew, Rosalina. That with all the people in the world they don't personally know that they should stop being such judgmental idiots. Stop assuming that they have me figured out better than I do. Know that people are more than some dumb stereotype, not one-note characters for a two dimensional play written by a corporate-soaked writer that they call life. A life that isn't real and certainly not a world that I live in."
He stopped, taking a few deep breaths and a few moments for her to take it all in. She was quick as she normally was, and didn't take long to reply. "I've always heard a life of fame was not as pleasant as it seemed. And with you, it wasn't earned intentionally."
"Of course not," Luigi admitted. "I did what I felt was best with the world saving. I didn't like it as much, nor was I as dedicated as my brother. But I didn't want to sit by and let the world crumble, and if Mario could do it, I had no reason not to try."
Rosalina nodded. "And you still did the right thing."
"I don't doubt that for a second." He smiled, gazing up at the stars again. "Just looking at the surroundings of this universe… I'd go to bat for it anyday."
For a moment, it was quiet again. But this quiet wasn't painful or dark. This time, the light in both their smiles as they admired the vast space between them and infinity shone through the trials of humanity.
"You know, I never wanted to be like my brother."
"Hmm?" Rosalina noted that Luigi didn't sound as mired as before.
"I never wanted to be like him, or to better than him. He's a great guy, but he takes on too much. He's a guardian to the universe, in many ways. And he embraces that, but I'm surprised he hasn't dropped dead yet."
"That's true," Rosalina mused.
"I don't want to do that, personally. To have the whole world in my hands all the time. I mean, I'll do my part when I can, because I don't want the universe harmed. But to do it all the time is not something I could handle."
"Do people expect that from you?"
Luigi scoffed. "Actually, it's a running joke in the entire known universe, an entire misconception. People think that I want 'my time to shine', that I'm so jealous of my brother. That I want everyone to frantically pay attention to me."
Rosalina quietly took a look at the man she had come to admire. His brow was creased and his mouth downturned. She tried to imagine him as an attention freak, someone who demanded others watched him. Someone not happy with where he was. But she couldn't. He was so understated, so content, so wise. So beautiful. She hadn't seen him very many times, but he left such an impact on her.
And even now, he thought he was being a burden. She could read in his eyes that he felt bad for even bringing his pain to light. He didn't understand that she thought him a better man for being willing to admit it. The more they talked, the more she realized how intelligent he actually was.
"You know they aren't true," she responded. "Right?"
"But everyone else thinks they are," passive anger crept into Luigi's voice. "And so that's how everyone treats me. I mean, I can't go anywhere without people addressing this fake persona that isn't me. Fauxigi, I call him."
"Clever," Rosalina offered, although she doubted she was helping.
She was relieved to see him smile a bit, eyebrow cocked. "Well, I'm glad you think so."
Noise between the two of them was vacated again, and Rosalina watched as Luigi seemed to relax, just a tiny bit. She smiled weakly, relieved that he seemed to be a bit more at peace. She didn't suspect that Luigi would be wrapping an arm around her ever so gingerly until he had. Her breath caught in her throat but she didn't stop him.
After a few more seconds of silence, Rosalina sighed with a nervous laugh. "I'm sorry, I make for horrible conversation."
Luigi laughed. "No, you're just fine."
"Don't flatter me!" she insisted with a more genuine giggle. "I could read all the books in the world, but I don't remember the last time I held a proper conversation!"
"I insist!" Luigi grinned. "You're doing just fine!"
He waited until the spontaneous cheer simmered down into neutral and added "You're just the one I wanted to talk to."
Rosalina's heart skipped a beat, and she realized that she almost felt… no actually she really did feel honored at that statement. Still in disbelief, she asked "…you really mean that?"
"Course I do. You're a thoughtful, intelligent person. And you listen to me even though I intruded on your home."
"I swear, I had no problem with that!" Another laugh, shared between both of them. Rosalina didn't even know why they were laughing anymore but she was swept up in it. When the laughter dissipated, it was Rosalina who stated "Just the fact that you thought to visit me first… that means a lot to me."
"So we're both happy I'm here."
"I'd assume that's so."
The silence filled the air once again, until Luigi said "In any other world, or any other life, any other circumstance… I wonder what I'd do. If I had a choice, or a chance… where I'd be or what I'd do… I wonder how I'd do things."
Rosalina blinked, and digested his sentence. How the mood seemed to swing, from apprehensive to scared to angry to thankful to happy and back again. Weathering so many weathers in the span of a few minutes.
She settled with "That's… quite a statement."
"I know. It's just… with all that's going on… I think I'm losing track of myself trying to destroy what I'm not. I'm forgetting who I am."
"Do you think you've lost it?"
The words were out before Rosalina could stop them, and after she said them she wondered if she'd even want to. Luigi blinked and asked "Come again?"
Rosalina took a breath. "You seem to be so worried about showing everyone that you're not who they think you are, you're not showing them who you are. You don't remember who you are, and I think- I fear, that it's because you've let yourself go. It's in broken remnants, in shards… and you don't have anything left."
Luigi let go of Rosalina, and put his hands on his chin. His elbows rested above his knees and from what Rosalina could tell he was in bitter contemplation.
Finally, he asked "Who am I? To you, who am I?"
Rosalina seemed ready for that answer. "Luigi, I can tell you who I think you are, and I think highly of you. But what I think you are matters just as much as who they think you are. Who you are is up to you, and you alone. Otherwise you're not you."
She pointed to the stars around her. "Did you know everyone sees the same stars in different ways?"
"I never thought of that."
Rosalina smiled. "It's true. We see the galaxy in so many different ways. So many different forms. Even right here."
She tilted her head back. "See how they look this way?"
Luigi hesitantly placed his head near hers. "I see. Go on."
"Now turn your head over just a little bit. Not even that much. Just a smidge."
Luigi complied. "They… look a bit different. I see what you mean."
"Good! Now if that little bit made a difference, imagine being on different sides of the world. But no matter how we look at the stars, we don't know what they really are. Not even I know what they truly are, and I mother them. Only the stars themselves know."
With one last, tired sigh, she added "Who you are, Luigi… is whoever you want to be."
Luigi looked up at her. "You're…" he seemed lost for words. Rosalina's concern grew for him, and so she took his hand again. "You're… every bit as intelligent as I thought you were."
"Thanks," Rosalina smiled wearily. "That means a lot."
Luigi yawned as his legs swayed through the space. "Thanks so much, Rosalina. This means a lot to me. The idea of finding myself all over again… it's challenging, but it's adventurous at the same time."
"You were always good at adventures," Rosalina mused distantly. "You'll do great here as well."
Luigi smiled again. "I do have to ask… maybe it's just out of the kindness of your heart, but why did you decide to put up with me when I landed in your yard out of nowhere with my complaints? And help me, no less?"
Rosalina's cheeks blushed, and in contrast with the pale white of her skin and hair, the red looked positively vivid. "I've heard… that lonely people are the ones who fall in love easiest of all. And if you love someone, you'll do anything for them."
With the knowledge that she had shared something personal, she added "I've also heard that lonely is so lonely alone."
Luigi put his hand on her face and quietly turned it towards him. "Lonely doesn't always have to be alone," he smiled, looking directly at her.
Rosalina gazed at him, her emotions and her feelings spoken through her eyes, and that was all that needed to be said.
At that moment, the silence returned. And this time, Rosalina kind of liked it.
A/N Hmm… kind of some mixed feelings on this one. I'm not sure how this'll do at all or how it is. After a couple of months not writing, I'd probably be apprehensive no matter what. Here's hoping for the best.
Another note- my blog list of the 20 best fanfics of all time is nearly completed. I advise you check out number 2, Firefly by LightningLaveau. It's an incredible story and it needs a lot more readers than it has now. I HAVE PLUGGED IT, NOW USE THE ELECTRICAL DEVICE I PLUGGED IN AND READ IT! :D
I hope you enjoyed!