Luigi couldn’t fall back asleep. Mario would be here tomorrow for the annual feast, and Luigi’s mind kept running in anxious circles. Would Mario feel uncomfortable? Luigi wrote him a long letter after moving into the castle, but still no reply.
Previously: Luigi and Bowser’s Cohabitated Mansion
Luigi untangled himself from the bedsheets and padded to the closet. There was a distinct before and after: the matching overalls and caps of his old trade and the loose flannel shirts and jeans he wore around the house. Green was still a nice color, but these days he kept it in check with other fabrics and patterns mixed in. He let his hair grow a little longer, a little wavier, and usually skipped the hat.
Bowser let out a soft huff as he woke up and struggled out of bed. Luigi hid a smile; Junior took after his dad in that way too. “You’re trying something new,” Bowser rumbled into Luigi’s ear after a few moments. “It takes a lot out of you, doesn’t it?”
Luigi looked up questioningly, trying to remember the last time Bowser looked or felt out of his comfort zone.
“I was terrified to invite you over that first time,” Bowser said softly. “Junior may have given me a few pep talks.”
Luigi blinked. That’s right. His husband had looked a bit nervous, hadn’t he? Luigi had to remind himself that his feelings weren’t some private festering to hide away anymore—they were what helped him grow into himself. Grow closer to his family.
Bowser watched him grapple with his emotions, pressing a firm hand against Luigi’s shoulder. “That’s why we’re inviting everyone to the castle this year,” Bowser reminded him. “Even if you have to be brave, you won’t be alone. I’m right here.”
Luigi hid himself in Bowser’s pajama shirt for a second, gathering his strength. He felt Bowser’s
breathing, the warm pressure of his hand. And then, for the first time in a while, he registered his own breath. His own body. Luigi held on for a moment longer, tucking away that sensation, and straightening up, giving Bowser a peck on the cheek. “Love you.” He needed to call Peach for advice. Bowser turned pink around the ears. “Come back soon.” He disappeared back under the covers.
Luigi Phones A Friend
Peach picked up on the second ring. “Luigi! It’s so good to hear your voice. How are the feast preparations going?”
Luigi wound the cord of the guest room phone around his finger. That knot of tension between his shoulder blades loosened the slightest bit. The Mushroom Kingdom might be largely ceremonial in structure, but Peach was a good leader, and she picked up on tiny shifts in emotion and kept the conversation flowing.
After the plumbing business grew, the rest of the kingdom followed suit. And Peach took notice. In the early days, she would visit Mario’s house at the edge of the province at least once a week, asking questions about Warp Pipes and how their properties differed depending on color and shape. The Mushroom Kingdom was tiny, and the populace was wary. Peach first sent the brothers out on small expeditions—clearing out the castle’s basement of traps and critters and testing the capabilities of pipes, mushrooms, and stars. She took detailed notes, and her eyes sparkled during Mario’s reports. Whether that gleam was from the adventure, the knowledge, or the confidence on his brother’s face, Luigi didn’t know.
Either way, the jobs kept coming, expanding into motorsports, time travel, and typing. Just as suddenly as it began, “Mario Brothers” became “Mario.” Luigi was left to his own devices, and then… Bowser and Junior, of course. Mushroom Kingdom was a beacon of industrialization, no longer the huddled masses of cowering Toads surrounded by blocks and pipes they didn’t understand. Research data was logged. Tourism was booming. Peach found ways to keep them busy, expanding beyond the Mushroom Kingdom, but Luigi could never truly escape the gravitational force of his brother’s sheer drive. That gleam in the princess’s eye grew into genuine affection for Luigi’s brother. Mario chewed into every work project with vigor because how could he not? Peach was there, beaming at him when he came back.
Luigi sighed. There was no hiding his anxiety from Peach. Luigi had changed, but he wasn’t sure what Mario thought. The radio silence after he mailed his brother the “Yes, I have moved in with your… enemy? Coworker? No, you don’t need to come get me” was worrisome.
“I really don’t know what to think of it either,” Peach said. “Either way, I owe you an apology. The transition from research expeditions to tourism was… rough, and I didn’t know how much of a toll it had on you. Or I wasn’t ready to admit it to myself. Mario just takes everything in stride, doesn’t he?”
That telltale gleam entered her voice, but something sad bit at the edges. “That letter was the first time I ever saw him at a total loss for words. I didn’t know what he needed, so I told him I support you and Bowser and to take his time thinking it through.”
Luigi held the phone closer to his ear. “I thought it was just a temporary adjustment,” Peach admitted. “Mario lived with you for so long, and now that had changed. I expected him to resist the idea of his brother marrying Bowser, but this is.. different. I know he can take up all the space in a room.” She giggled. “Why do you think I kept getting kidnapped? Bowser was never after me… but there was a brother of some famous plumber he had his eye on.”
Luigi blushed. Even back then? “Bowser knows what he likes,” Peach said, “and it just took him a while to figure out how much he really liked you, independently of your brother or your job. I think with some time, Mario will be able to see that too. We’ll be there for the feast tomorrow! Thanks so much for the invitation.”
Luigi said goodbye and hung up the phone. He felt much better when he wiggled back into bed. Bowser let out a happy huff, already dozing off.
Finishing Touches for the Feast
The castle hummed with activity, but Luigi was tucked away underneath the second-story sink, the contents of his toolbag arranged carefully on the bathroom floor. Once the sibling-induced anxiety was removed from the equation, he enjoyed maintaining the castle and its many fixtures. At the very least, it gave him the excuse to dig some older clothes out of the closet. Luigi had his hair pulled back in a loose bun and frayed jeans streaked with paint from Warp Pipe upkeep. His green-and-black flannel shirt was rumpled, and stray threads started peering out from the buttonholes. No matter how often he washed the shirt, it still faintly smelled of sweat and fireball soot.
Luigi sat up to adjust the flat foam kneepad underneath him, assessing the situation. Bowser was proactive about maintaining the castle, but the second-story bathroom plumbing was one of the last holdouts, and Bowser had been shy about it.
“Peach would usually stay here on the second story, and I didn’t want to rearrange things without asking. She visits less often now,” he said with an amused snort, “but it’s she should still have her own space, and the quiet seemed good for her.”
Still, the copper plumbing was starting to show its age. It was installed before Bowser bought the castle, and the previous owner had unhelpfully routed the wall piping in a tangled snarl. Luckily it ran on an entirely different water line and heater, so Luigi could shut it off and tinker without much fuss for the rest of the house. They’d have to insulate or replace it—A loud gum snap from behind him, and Luigi shot upright, nearly hitting his head on the bottom of the stone countertop.
“I knew you’d be hidden somewhere, inspecting your husband’s pipes,” Daisy said. Luigi laughed and stood, hugging Daisy. He blinked confusedly. “Oh, how’d I get up here so fast? That was all Junior,” Daisy said conspiratorially. “He’s been texting me questions about multimodal transit for months.”
Luigi gestured at her outfit. “Nice look.” Daisy beamed. “Thanks, I got this leather jacket the last time Bowser visited! Matches my bike.” She froze up for a moment. “Oh, and Junior’s downstairs helping with food prep. Wanna pack up and see him?” Luigi nodded, carefully reorganizing his toolbag. He added ‘research pipe insulation‘ to his mental do-list before peeking into the second-story hallway.
A red stripe of paint with repeating circles ran along the wall. As Luigi gawked, Daisy handed him a leaflet. “Junior borrowed some of the moving platforms to help us get around. Clever kid. Takes after his papa!”
Luigi smiled to himself as he turned the pages. Junior had separate routes drawn for each floor of the castle. Each one had its own assigned color and shape, but they all converged in the first-floor dining room. Moments later, a moving platform hovered in front of them. Daisy helped Luigi up, and then they glided effortlessly down the spiral staircase at the end of the hallway.
“You look happier since you moved out of that house,” Daisy said. Luigi nodded, and he really was.
“It’s been good for Bowser and Junior, too,” she said softly. “Their extended family lives pretty far away, and they felt a bit left out.” Luigi patted Daisy’s shoulder sympathetically.
The moving platform stopped at the edge of the dining room. Chain chomps barked as they struggled to roll up the red rugs dotting the stone floor. Koopas rushed by with silver platters, saying hello.
“This is my kind of rowdy,” Daisy said appreciatively. “Lead the way!”
Luigi grinned. “Let’s go!”
The rest of the day was a blur. They picked up enough gravel to feed the Thwomps, watched Junior decorate the walls in his clown car, and helped Kamek set the long dining table. Whenever Luigi paused, his stomach in knots, someone was there with a small task or a funny story. Soon, the anxiety disappeared altogether, replaced by a pleasant hum in his chest. His family and friends were there. He was safe.
A Mostly Friendly Feast
Peach politely knocked on the front door, sweeping Luigi into a hug as he greeted them. Mario shuffled his feet, looking standoffish. Luigi wanted to say something, but Mario was already shuffling onto the moving platform to the dining room. Luigi glanced at the wall. A dark blue stripe with squares on it. Peach sighed. “I’m sorry.”
“Not your fault,” Luigi said, helping her up. He shot his brother a questioning glare, but Mario stared back blankly. Maybe it was a lot to process here under very different circumstances. They floated down the hall. Bowser and Junior were in the dining room, Daisy
doing her best to keep them from fiddling with the folded napkins.
“Sorry your uncles were busy, kiddo,” Daisy told Junior. “I think Wario’s car lost a tire again.”
Mario brightened a bit as he took in the long wooden table and gleaming silver platters. The rest of Bowser’s castle chattered excitedly in their chairs (in the case of the Chain Chomps and Thwomps, under the table), waiting for the signal to eat. Luigi sat next to his husband, humming contentedly. He watched Daisy and Junior whisper to each other. Usually a sign of trouble to come, but he could think about that later.
Bowser took Luigi’s hand, announcing in his customary booming voice, “Let’s eat!” The table erupted in cheers and hoots, soon replaced by the clatter of silverware.
“Bowser,” Mario growled, scowling down where they were holding hands. Luigi internally grimaced. Bowser and Junior straightened up in their seats, puffing their chest. Daisy shot daggers at Mario.
“Think carefully,” Peach warned him.
Luigi’s mouth set into a stubborn line. He met his brother’s eyes, mustering up all his courage. “This,” he said, patting Bowser’s hand, “is my husband.”
He pointed to Junior, who was glowering next to Daisy. “This is my son.”
Gesturing at the rest of the table, Luigi said, “This is my family. What are you?”
“I’m your brother,” Mario protested.
“Then act like it,” Luigi said curtly. “Let’s eat.”
The rest of the meal felt slightly uncomfortable. Everyone smiled and made conversation, but Mario was quiet and unreadable. They passed the silver trays back and forth and ate their fill, Luigi steadfastly ignoring the gnawing at his stomach. His friends and family were here with him, and it would be alright.
A Photo Finish
They cleared their plates and moved the long wooden table to the edge of the room. Luigi tried not to stare at Bowser’s spiked leather armbands, flexing under the table’s weight. Bowser noticed and winked, making him turn bright red. Mario muttered something unintelligible but kept lifting his side of the table, angling it towards the back of the room. Luigi frowned.
Meanwhile, Daisy set up her tripod and camera against the back wall, directing everyone into position for a group picture. Mario was a bit mollified, probably because Daisy had guided him toward the center of the frame, underneath the gleaming chandelier. “When you hear the timer click, stay still and give the camera your best smile,” Daisy commanded. “Silly picture afterward,” she said, looking sternly at Junior. “Smiles first.” Junior nodded, obediently moving into position between Bowser and Luigi.
Luigi patted his son’s shoulder and got a smile in return. “You okay?” Luigi asked quietly. “Yeah,” Junior said breezily. “Aunt Daisy made sure I was behaving.” That sounded… uncharacteristic, but Luigi didn’t have time to ask anything further.
Luigi heard two clicks and froze in place, giving his best smile. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the trapdoor open underneath Mario’s feet. “Oops,” Daisy said innocently as Mario plummeted with a wail. “Must have hit the wrong part of the wall.”
Luigi felt that old fear creep over him. What if something happened? What if it was all my fault? But Bowser sprang into motion, leaping down after Mario. They emerged seconds later. Bowser looked smug, sneaking in a few flexes for Luigi while he was carrying his brother.
“You’ve fallen down that trap door at least a hundred times,” Bowser chortled. “It never gets old.” Mario looked up at the gathered crowd and started to laugh. It was a little funny, after all.
“If anyone asks, it was an accident,” Daisy muttered in Luigi’s ear. “Junior gave me the layout when planning castle routes, and I would rather see you happy.” Luigi snorted. Mario met his gaze, still laughing. Maybe in time, it would get easier.
And Then What? 😏
They ushered the last of the guests out after supper. The plates had been cleared, and the dining room reset. Bowser was double-checking everything upstairs, so Luigi hovered by the front door, biting his lip and going over the mental checklist.
Bowser cleared his throat. “I, uh, wanted to try something,” he said, almost bashful. Luigi turned to face him and flushed. Bowser wore an open leather vest, pants, and boots to match his black-and-silver spiked armbands. “You seemed to be enjoying the gun show, so Daisy told me where to stock up on a few things. Do you like it?” Luigi nodded, dumbfounded. His mind cycled through all sorts of new research avenues. Luigi’s smile widened. The next few months would be… very busy.