Chapter One- Pipsqueak
"Is everything steady?" Gene asked as he held the other end of the coffee table.
"You've asked me that thirty times, Gene! Goodness, you now I have this!" Don said, carefully entering the apartment.
The two men placed the coffee table in the living room, Gene making sure that it was arranged perfectly with everything else within the room. The man nodded in satisfaction as he rubbed his hands together.
"There! Everything is in its place!"
"Ya know, I can't believe this is actually happening…." Don said with a chuckle "But I'm also GLAD that it is!"
"You're glad that WHAT'S happening?" Gene asked as he looked over to his neighbor.
"Why, you and Mary finally getting hitched of course!" the sailor laughed, putting his arm around Gene's shoulder "Not to be full of myself BUT, heh, I knew it was going to happen sometime this year!"
Gene gave Don a sarcastic look, crossing his arms "Really now? Perhaps you would like to know that I already KNEW that you were discussing your premonitions with everyone in the apartment, DONALD."
The sailor flinched a bit once he say the rather nasty glare that Gene was giving him, "O-Oh? Heh, how'd ya know?"
"Considering how much YOU flap your mouth around here, it was only a matter of time before I heard it from SOMEONE." The mayor said in a gruff voice, taking his neighbor's arm off him.
Don blushed a bit as adjusted the collar of his coat; once again, his incessant talking had given him away and it came to no surprise that he was just a little embarrassed.
But Gene began to smile.
The smile he would always pull when he was joking around. Much to Don's relief, Gene began to laugh, the little mayor satisfied that he had managed to shut Don up for a moment.
"Okay, okay. Ya got me…." The sailor said as he put his hands in his pockets "But I stand by what I say when I tell ya that I'm really happy for you."
"Thanks Donnie! You know that means a lot to me!" Gene smiled "The only thing I regret is that it took THIS long and so many bad things to push me forward into asking her…."
"Well, at least ya did!" Don said "And soon, we'll have a Mr. and MRS. Nicelander Mayor Gene!"
Once again, Gene was overcome with happiness and with the wedding to happen in only a few weeks, he was beside himself in excitement but of course, being the man that he was he made sure that he didn't get TOO carried. Sure, everyone in Niceland noticed that Gene was a lot happier, a lot calmer, and most of all A LOT LESS GRUMPY, but that didn't mean the man was slacking off! Not in the least!
He was still Mayor of this every growing neighborhood and he was not afraid to remind people of it!
Nicely, of course!
"Say, a few of the guys are heading over to Burger Time to pick up some dinner. Care to come with us?" asked Don.
"Burger Time? Er, good idea but I've been trying to be more careful with my diet, Don." Gene said rather tartly "I don't want to go overboard on indulgent food!"
"Oh please!" a haughty voice rang from the door. Both men turned to see Mary standing before them, the woman eyeing Gene with a teasing look "This coming from the man who would eat NOTHING but cake had it not been for me!"
Gene blushed brightly as he straightened his cardigan "Mary, darling! While I admit that I do have a rather large sweet tooth, I am careful in what I eat."
Mary and Don exchanged looks, the sailor looking off to the side as he forced himself not to laugh. Gene knew when he was being teased and when it came to Mary, the teasing was inescapable. He grumbled a bit as he crossed his arms.
"Okay, okay. Ha ha…."
"Awww, don't be like that squishy face!" Mary said as she tickled Gene under his chin "You know I was kidding!"
Gene softened a bit as he looked into Mary's eyes; he just couldn't stay angry at her "I-I know…."
"But Don does have a good idea! I wouldn't mind something from Burger Time myself!"
"Really? I never knew you fancied their burgers!" Gene said with a surprised look.
"Gene! We go there all the time!" Mary said with a laugh, squishing the man's left cheek "Don't act like you're too fancy for their fare!"
"I'm NOT! It's just-!"
"It's just that we still have a ton of unpacking to do here and I want to get it done as soon as possible!" Mary said with a smile "Would you be a dear and pick something up for the both of us? I'll pay!"
There was no arguing out of this one; Mary had made plans and Gene had no choice but to follow them. Granted though, he didn't mind one bit but he was so shocked that Mary was able to convince him to go with Don in only three seconds flat. The man chuckled before he kissed his fiancé warmly.
"Fine dear, I'll go."
"Hey, EGGY! I said we needed THREE specials tonight!" shouted Peter from the kitchen.
"I DID put three! I guess it was the ketchup on the order, coverin' it up!" the character shouted from the counter, a little miffed.
"Aw, EGGY! Ya know better than that!"
"Boy, this place is crowded tonight!" Gene said as he looked up, trying his best to squeeze through the crowd.
"Ya know how this place can get when Peter introduces a new burger on the menu!" Don said, following close behind "It's always a madhouse here to be the first to try it!"
"I don't see why!" the mayor replied with a sniff "It's not like ALL of his 'creations' turn out that well. Need I remind you of his WAFFLE BURGER experiment?"
Don shuddered at the very thought and the very TASTE of the thing, "Do I ever!"
After much pushing, the two Nicelanders finally made their way through the crowd, making it up towards the counter.
"Excuse me!" Gene called.
Gene looked up, realizing that the counter was some distance away from his head but there was no bother! He cleared his throat, trying to speak a little louder.
Still no reply.
Don put a hand on his friend's shoulder "Gene, why don't you-?"
"I got this Don, I got this!" the mayor said, pushing Don back a bit. He then looked up, noticing a flash of silver on the counter.
Ah-ha, of course!
Gene hopped up once, trying his best to reach the thing but in his first attempt, he had not only missed the counter-top, he had hadn't even come CLOSE to it.
"Eh, second tries are better…." The mayor said, rolling back his sleeves as he hopped again, this time getting a little higher.
Still no go.
Okay, now things were starting to get annoying!
This was one of the downfalls of living in an arcade with such a variety of characters; because of the scaling differences, EVERY game was built to suit the needs of those characters but not others. For some games, it wasn't that bad. The Nicelanders were able to get around with ease but in others….
Well, despite being full-grown adults the Nicelanders were the size of CHILDREN to other characters.
Very, very, VERY TINY children.
In Burger Time, it was no different. Peter himself wasn't a tall man but since the entire area was meant to be BIG to make thing tougher for him to get through, it was also big for the Nicelanders.
And if there was one thing Gene absolutely HATED more than anything, even being thrown out the window (which he didn't hate as much as he used to) it was being reminded that he was SMALL.
The Nicelander growled as he tried for a third time to reach the bell and to his luck, he hit it.
"FINALLY!" the man said, a smile coming on his face.
"Yeah, hold on Eggy, we have someone at the counter!" shouted Tomato. The giant slice looked around but saw no on.
Not another prank! Couldn't people see that they were BUSY?!
"Okay! Whoever thought that ringin' da bell like this was funny, I'm gonna-!"
"HEY, HEY, HEY!" shouted Gene, sounding a little frustrated "DOWN HERE!"
Pickle jolted as she heard the sharp voice calling up to her. She then peaked behind the counter and saw Gene, the little Nicelander scowling up to her as he crossed his arms and tapped his foot on the floor.
"Down here…." The mayor said in a gruff tone.
Whatever anger Gene was showing was lost to Tomato, the character smiling from ear to ear as she looked down at the Nicelander "Oh! You guys again! Sorry didn't see ya down there!"
Don stepped up, not wanting the situation to go from bad to worse "Eh, hi there young lady! Um, Gene and I will have three orders to go if you don't mind!"
"Sure shorties, what would like?" the character said, taking out an order pad.
"We'd-!" Gene said, his voice breaking a bit. He cleared his throat "WE would like one of your Bleu Moon specials, one of your double stacks, and a Golden Coin Burger. IF, you don't mind!"
Tomato took the orders down, smiling as she did so "Whoa, those things are kinda big ya know! But then again, what do you expect from two growin' boys!"
At this point, Don could see the red flushing onto Gene's face but the sailor didn't know whether or not Gene was MAD or just EMBARRASSED (or BOTH!) by the comment but he knew it would be best to end the situation as quickly as possible.
"THANKS MA'AM! WE'LL, er….be waiting in the….booth…." Don said as he pulled Gene from the counter and towards one of the booths.
Don knew that Tomato MEANT well but she HAD laid it pretty hard on the short jokes, at least when Gene was concerned. Gene himself was turning as red as a tomato but remembering the promise he made to himself, he took a few deep breaths….
Calmness, calmness, calmness….
And he felt SOME of his anger fading away.
SOME OF IT.
"Okay….okay. I think I'm fine…."
"Good. I would hate to see what would happen if you had exploded on the poor girl!" Don said, wiping his brow.
"Mrrpf…" Gene snorted, leaning on the table and pouting a bit "S'not like she wouldn't have it comin'!"
"So, what type of cake do you want for the wedding?" Mary asked as she looked through the recipe book "I actually want to take a break from baking, believe it or not! I mean, there are so many types of cakes I HAVEN'T tried so-!"
Mary looked up, seeing Gene nibble on his burger rather grumpily.
The man looked up a bit, snapping out of whatever pout he was in "Mmm? Is there something wrong, dear?"
"Hmmm, I think I should be the one asking YOU that question!" Mary said, pointing toward Gene with her pen "You've been rather gloomy since you got back. Did something happen?"
Gene gulped as he put his hands in front of his fiancé, trying his best to seem chipper "No, no, no! Everything is FINE dear! Just GREAT!"
Mary gave Gene a suspicious glance; she knew something was up and she wanted to know EXACTLY what it was.
It was time for….the look.
"Gene?" Mary said, her eyes going right towards the man "Tell me what's wrong."
The mayor attempted to look away from his love but her eyes! Those big, blue eyes! THEY WERE GOING RIGHT INTO HIM! The more he fought, the more he could feel their power digging right into his soul! After a few seconds, Gene found that he was unable to look away from his fiancé and with a defeated moan, he turned back towards her.
"Mary….have you EVER felt bad for being short?"
The pink Nicelander was a little shocked about the question; did she ever feel bad about being short?
"Er, well….I can't….I mean, there have been times when I find it a little ANNOYING that I can't see everyone eye to eye-!"
"And that we can't reach a lot of things in other games?" Gene continued.
"Y-yes, or that some younger characters are a TAD taller than us…."
"And the constant jokes?"
"I'm sorry dear, I just….." Gene buried his face in his hands for a moment, groaning "I know this is STUPID, but…."
"Someone made another joke about your height, DIDN'T they?" Mary finished.
Gene nodded, rolling his eyes "I swear, it must be some form of entertainment to annoy us…."
Mary twittered a bit as she walked towards Gene, putting her arms around him "Gene, Gene, Gene! You can't let every little thing bother you! You're like an angry version of Roy! EVERYTHING becomes an issue with you and you know it SHOULDN'T!"
"I am NOT like R-!" Gene blurted, only to be cut off when Mary put a finger to his lips.
"Shush…" the woman said, smiling "Dear, trust me when I say that I SHARE some of your annoyances with being…PETITE. But that's the way we're designed and we can't change that!"
Gene leaned back in his chair, sighing a bit "True, very true….but I do wish that the person who did our concept art would have added a BIT of height! I mean, Ralph's nine and a half feet tall? Even if he made us FIVE feet tall, Ralph would still be big to us!"
Mary kissed the man on the nose, finding his gripping much too funny "But if we weren't small, we wouldn't be as cute. YOU wouldn't be as cute!"
The mayor blushed, "You really think so?"
"Of course I do…." Mary said, squishing Gene's chubby cheeks "I wub my widdles Mayor Gene fun-sized! He doesn't need ta be big ta win me over!"
Ever since his encounter at Burger Time, Gene was starting to feel better. Maybe Mary was right. Maybe he was letting the entire height issue get to him. Even though he still felt that it was a major inconveniences in some situations, Mary's words just put a bit of confidence in the man's mind.
"Thank you dear…." Gene said softly, giving Mary an Eskimo Kiss "You always manage to put a bright spot in things!"
"You're welcome dear!" Mary said "I mean, you know some of us are designed a TAD differently than others anyway! Some of us are a tad taller while the rest are a smidge shorter and chubbier! It's not all that bad!"
And in that very moment, Gene's confidence was gone again.
THAT LITTLE DETAIL.
Any die-hard fan of Fix-it-Felix Jr. knew that the designers and programmers hadn't COMPLETELY created the Nicelanders from just one pallet. If one looked closely, they could see that there were indeed some Nicelanders who were smaller and rounder and some were a tad taller. Not that this made any difference to player; all they saw were tiny, chubby people who gave out pies.
And in that moment, Gene began to fret what camp he belonged to.
"W-wait a second!" the man said, springing to his feet.
"G-Gene, what is it!" Mary said, a little shocked at Gene's sudden outburst.
The man ran to the kitchen drawers, fishing around for a tape measure.
"I need to check this out for a second!" the mayor shouted, grabbing his fiancé by the wrist and taking her to his office.
"G-Gene! What is going on?! And why do you need the measuring tape!?"
"I just…I just need to check something!" the man said "Take off your heels!"
"My heels, but-!"
"Mary! PLEASE!" the man said, desperation in his face.
The woman sighed as she took off her shoes, Gene pushing her back against the wall and putting the tape to her side. Once the woman realized what was going on, she let out a frustrated groan.
"Don't move, don't move!" the man said, counting the inches on the wall and marking Mary's height.
Three feet, four inches.
That's about right for a Nicelander.
"Okaaaaay…." Gene said, handing the tape off to Mary "Now me!"
"Gene, this is RIDICULOUS! You're getting yourself worked up over NOTHING!" Mary said with a frown, putting her hands on her hips.
"Please Mary! I PROMISE I won't do this again if you just-!" Gene begged, holding his hands together.
Mary sighed heavily as she rolled her eyes "FINE! But when we turn out to be the same height, you're NEVER complaining about your height again, you hear?!"
Mary extended the tape as Gene stood nervously against the wall, counting each inch and making sure not to miss a beat.
"S-so?!" Asked the worried Gene "A-are we the same height?"
Mary didn't say a word. She only marked off the height before turning back towards Gene, a rather nervous grin on her face.
That wasn't a good sign.
"Well?!" Gene said in a sharp tone "Well WHAT?!"
"Uum….i-its fine Gene! There's nothing wrong!"
Oh ho, Gene knew something was up.
Or better yet, he knew he was DOWN.
NOT what he wanted!
The little man turned around and looked at the marks, finding that Mary outdid him….by a FULL two inches.
"You have GOT to be kidding me!" the man shouted, his eyes wide in shock "I'M SHORTER THAN YOU?!"
"Gene! GENE! You BETTER not go insane over this!" Mary said, grabbing Gene by the shoulder but by this time, it was too late. Gene had gone into full panic mode.
"I'm shorter than my fiancé! I'M SHORTER THAN MY FIANCÉ!"
"GENE! I TOLD YOU IT DOESN'T MATTER!" Mary shouted, trying her best to reach her love.
"Oh programmers! If I'm shorter than YOU…WHO ELSE COULD I BE SHORTER THAN?!"
"Oh no! DON'T YOU DARE GO TO EVERYONE AND-!"
Before Mary could stop him, Gene had already ran out the door, living a bit of eight-bit dust behind him. The woman moaned as she slapped her forehead.
This was going to be a LONG, LONG night!
For the rest of the night, Gene had gone to EACH and every one of his neighbors, pulling them over just so he could measure their height. One could only imagine the annoyance everyone was going through but when the MAYOR told you to do something, you did it, no matter how STUPID it was. By the time Gene made it back to his apartment, he was EXHAUSTED but he was also satisfied knowing that he had recorded everyone's heights for his own study.
Well, HE was happy.
Mary on the other hand?
Mary sat on the couch, an angry look on her face as she watched Gene stagger into the apartment, nearly falling on the floor.
"SO." She said in a gruff tone "HAVE FUN?"
"A-a-at least I got everything!" Gene said with a smile, managing to pull himself on the couch. Mary once again rolled her eyes, completely fed up with Gene's behavior.
"Gene, come on! Get a grip! There is no need for you to put so much energy into this! So what if some of us are taller than you! You're taller than some of the others, RIGHT?"
Gene shook his head, "You'd be surprised!"
"DEAR." the woman said, finally giving in "Alright! Fine! Humor me! Tell me what your grand research has brought to us!"
"Well…" the man said, pulling his glasses from his pocket "Here are the results!"
"Out of all the Nicelander ladies, I am taller than Nel and Lucy!"
"Ah, that makes sense!" Mary said "Nel is rather small once you realize her hair takes up much of her pixels and Lucy-!"
"But…." The man said dryly, his voice wavering "O-out of everyone ELSE?"
"Yes?" asked Mary, moving in a bit closer towards the man to get a better look.
"I'm…..I'M THE THIRD SHORTEST NICELANDER IN THE ENTIRE GAME!" Gene blurted out, throwing the list into the air in anger.
"YES, EVEN TONY!" Gene growled, putting his hands in his hands "HOW?! WHY?! HOW COULD-?! THERE'S NO-!?"
"Um….have you ever thought you might be smaller so Ralph can throw you easier?" Mary said, trying and FAILING at making Gene feel as if there were some sort of explanation. Gene just gave Mary a glare but the glare faded, turning into a look of disinterest.
"It's official. EVERYTHING about me was programmed to humiliate me! I'm a throwing dummy, I get blown up at the bonus stage, and just knowing the fact that I'm ONLY taller than NEL and LUCY is the finally dollop of frosting on my suck cake!"
"NICELANDER GENE!" Mary said, pinching Gene on his nose "SNAP OUTTA IT!"
"Look! I'm SICK of you moping over this stupid height thing! It's pointless, it doesn't mean anything! IT'S INSIGNIFICANT!" Mary said as she took Gene by his fat cheeks, shaking him "The only person who's making this a big deal is YOU so starting now, I want you to stop!"
"And if I DON'T?!" Gene said crossly.
"I pinch-a your nose everytime! EVERY. TIME!"
The mayor subconsciously felt his hand going towards his nose but he stopped himself. He knew Mary was trying her best to sound threatening but he also knew that she was right. He just HAD to stop letting his height bother him like this! What type of collective person would do this?
Sighing heavily, Gene leaned onto Mary "You're right. This is stupid…..I'm sorry I've been so crazy over this!"
Mary smiled as she began to run her fingers through Gene's hair "You were going a little bananas….but hey, you wouldn't be my Gene if you WEREN'T a little bananas!" the woman said with a twitter.
The mayor smiled up towards his love, taking her hands gently before kissing them "Little? Come on Mary, cut me a break!"