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Of Stone Felines and Falling Down the Stairs

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It was truly amazing just how much the human body could walk away from without injury. People had fallen from planes, been hit by cars, and even been struck by lightning without suffering permanent damage. Sure, a bruise here, a burn or two there, but no broken bones. No fried nervous systems or stopped hearts. It was also amazing, Nelson mused, just how fragile people could be. How little it took sometimes, to turn someone's world entirely upside down. And also how quickly Guybrush could fall down a set of stairs.

The two of them had been taking a statement from one of the locals about some suspicious activity they thought they'd seen, and the interview itself had gone great. No random psychic anomalies crashing through the wall to try and kill them, no ludicrously convoluted conspiracies to get embroiled in, just a sweet old lady and a story about some of the stray cats in the alley beside her building. In fact, she lived close enough to the Motherlobe that they'd only had to take a short drive instead of a cross country trip.

According to their interviewee, Mrs. Dodson, there had always been cats wandering around this part of the city, but she'd never seen one of them just melt out of a solid brick wall before. She'd approached the alley beside her building to feed some of the strays, just as she'd done about a hundred times before, when the masonry on either side of her had morphed and sculpted itself to create several feline forms that hadn't been there before. Ever detail oriented, Nelson had asked her all sorts of questions about the specifics of the situation. How many were there? Where exactly had this happened? Did the walls appear to be damaged afterward? Could she describe how she felt during the event?

Mrs. Dodson was a good sport about the interrogation. She didn't seem to mind explaining and re-explaining every last moment of the incident in great detail for them. In fact, she seemed almost excited at the prospect of having found something so out of the ordinary the government would send two nice young men out to talk to her about it. To be completely honest, she also seemed a bit lonely. By the time they'd gotten all they needed out of the interview it was just about time for tea, and really - when a sweet old woman offers you a teacup and all the life stories and neighborhood gossip you could ever want, how can you say no?

So, they stayed a few hours longer than was strictly necessary, but it had been a nice little break from work. As they were leaving, however, they'd failed to notice that one of Mrs. Dodson's overly affectionate house cats had slipped out behind them. As they'd made their way back down the hallway, they'd unknowingly ignored the little black tomcat until he'd decided to be more upfront about his desire to be petted and twined himself between Guybrush's legs. Right at the top of the stairs. Naturally, he'd tripped and ended up bouncing his thick skull off of just about every stair in the apartment complex.

Aside from a few bruises and a small cut above his eyebrow though, it could have been much worse. Despite finding Guybrush at the bottom of the steps in a heap, dazed, confused, and all but unconscious, somehow he'd managed to avoid seriously injuring himself in the fall. After a quick trip to the nearest Emergency Room the doctor had assured Nelson that overall the concussion really wasn't as bad as it looked, and that any cognitive side effects would be temporary. All his partner needed was some rest and a few good painkillers for the headache that usually accompanied a head injury like that.

Guybrush had remarkably good diction for a man with a concussion. Despite losing his train of thought and trailing off in the middle of a sentence every so often, not once had he ever slurred any of his words or stumbled over their syllables. All he was really lacking in the language department at the moment was the ability to remain silent; as soon as he'd regained enough of his marbles to recognize Nelson as his trusted friend and coworker, he'd started talking to him about anything and everything, presumably just to hear the sound of his own voice.

After another test or two and a quick phone call to his wife, the medical staff had deemed Guybrush stable enough to sit “quietly” in a wheelchair in the lobby while the two of them waited for Elaine.

The longer they sat there, the more Nelson started to wish she'd hurry up; by this point he'd heard all of Guybrush's opinions about this hospital's interior decorating, the other patients' and visitors' sense of fashion, the necessity for a Pirate Captain to have as swishy a coat as possible, the merits of learning how to whistle through your front teeth, how easy it was to borrow things without other people noticing (Nelson had confiscated the stethoscope his partner had pulled out of his pocket as proof), and, somewhat ironically, how great a conversationalist Nelson was. Tuning out the endless stream of Guybrush's thoughts was probably a bad idea, what with his partner's apparent compulsion to get into trouble for no reason at all, but there were only so many abrupt changes in topic Nelson could handle, and he was about at his limit for today.

And besides - it wasn't like Guybrush could run off on his own while Nelson wasn't looking. His poor scrambled brains were having trouble regulating his balance, so walking was all but out of the question. Additionally, he seemed unaware of his psychic abilities, so for all intents and purposes Guybrush was just a remarkably chatty piece of furniture. No need to worry, and no need to keep too close a watch on him.

Sinking into the refuge of his own thoughts, Nelson let his mind drift back toward the case. Mrs. Dodson's story had seemed pretty farfetched, but it was just plausible enough that someone probably ought to at least check out that alley. After all, they lived in a world where bears could levitate and cougars could set things on fire with just their minds; pets melting out of the masonry like ghosts could be a real thing. Or the old woman's glasses needed a stronger prescription… Out of nowhere, Nelson was shaken back to reality when Guybrush gasped loudly and grabbed his arm. "Nelson. I think that's the most beautiful woman I've ever seen in my entire life." 

Confused, Nelson followed his partner's wide-eyed line of sight over to the front desk where a pretty young woman with long, wavy red hair was talking to the receptionist. Elaine. Of course, who else would it be? Nelson had just about resigned himself to listening to a drug-fueled lecture from Guybrush about all of his wife's many virtues, when the poor injured pirate surprised him. 

Timidly he asked, "... do you think she would date a guy like me?"

Taking in the uncertain yet slightly hopeful expression on his partner’s face, a bandage across his forehead and slouched pitifully in his wheelchair, it took everything Nelson had as a calm and collected government agent not to burst out laughing right then and there. 

"Yeah, buddy, I think she would." He said, unable to keep the grin off his face.

"You do?" Guybrush seemed to perk up, glad that his friend thought he had a chance with the most beautiful woman in the world. 

"Yeah, I do." Nelson said. Unable to help himself, curious to see how far this could go, he added, "In fact, why don't you ask her out?"

"Yeah! I'll do that!" Guybrush said, smiling wide at his partner's excellent suggestion. After a moment though, his goofy grin morphed into a fearful frown. "But what if she says no?"

"Wha- no to you? A mighty pirate like yourself? How could she possibly say no to a man with such a fashionable goatee?" Teasing him like this while he was still so out of it was probably just a little bit mean, but really - after all the pranks his partner had pulled on him in the past, how could he not take just a little bit of payback?

Guybrush shook his head. "No, no, I can't do it Nelson…" He slouched even further and covered his eyes with his hand. "She's too perfect, it's too much, too soon."

Guybrush was too lost in his theatrics to notice Elaine smile and wave when she caught sight of the two of them. Taking a folder from the nurse at the desk, she took a seat on her own to avoid being distracted by her husband while she filled out the last of his paperwork. 

Nelson made a show of thinking about the situation, putting on his best concentration face and tapping his chin. "Hmmm… y'know what? How about I talk to her for you?"

"What?!" Guybrush all but shouted, now staring at him like he'd grown a second head.

"Yeah! I'll just go tell her all about what a cool guy you are! Really, it's no trouble." Rising from his chair, Nelson got up and stretched his legs as Guybrush started to panic in earnest.

"Noooooo nonononono Nelson please-" reaching out, he tried to grab onto Nelson and stop him from ushering in the apocalypse.

"No no, it'll be fine, don't even worry about it." Nelson shrugged off Guybrush's weak, uncoordinated grip and moseyed across the waiting room to Elaine, who was just finishing up filling out the last few details on the last paper in the folder. This wasn't the first time she'd filled out discharge forms for her accident and not-so-accident prone husband, so by this point she had the whole process down to a science.

She smiled at him as he approached. "How is he?"

"Eh, he'll live." Nelson said, shrugging. "The concussion and the painkillers had an interesting side effect though - it looks like he's forgotten who you are." Noticing the immediate concern and alarm on her face, he quickly explained, "Don't worry, the doctor said it's temporary! He just needs to take it easy for a while, and everything should go back to normal.” Steepling his fingers, he continued, “Right now though, it seems that he'd like to ask you out on a date, but he's too shy to do it without his wingman to break the ice."

Elaine's face smoothed out into a blank, somewhat bewildered mask. "Oh." She said, blinking. Then, casting a glance around Nelson to get a good look at the embarrassment on her plunder bunny's face, she broke into a mischievous grin and said, "oh."

"Mmmhmm." He agreed, smiling conspiratorially. "Shall we?"

"Yes, let's not keep my new boyfriend waiting any longer." Standing, she handed the folder of completed paperwork off to one of the medical personnel working the desk, then walked with Nelson back to where he'd left her husband quietly contemplating his impending doom. As soon as he'd noticed Elaine looking at him during her and Nelson's short conversation he'd started casting around for an escape route, but there was nowhere to go and no way to get there. Soon enough the two of them had closed the gap and cut off any chance he had of not making a fool of himself in front of his dream girl.

"Guybrush," Nelson said brightly, letting him know his hour of reckoning was upon him, "this is Elaine."

"It's very nice to meet you, Mr. Threepwood." Elaine said, kneeling next to her husband's wheelchair as Nelson retook his seat. "Nelson here says you had something you wanted to ask me?" 

Guybrush appeared to be absolutely mortified. His jaw worked fruitlessly for a moment as he tried to remember how to form human speech, until at last he took a deep breath and said, "Jijddhbk-"

Blinking in terror, swallowing, he tried again. "Hrgeydtr! Bfryudwz- huyhsbn… tthhrjdiff…" Mumbling, eyes firmly locked on the floor, he trailed off as a deep blush crept into his cheeks.

Laughing, Elaine took his hand in both of her own. "Why, yes darling, I'd love to go out with you. Is now a good time?"

Astonished, Guybrush started looking between his wife and his partner like he'd just witnessed a miracle. It seemed he still couldn't figure out how to form a complete sentence though, so instead he just started nodding emphatically.

"Wonderful! It's decided then, dinner at my place." Reaching up to brush a strand of hair out of his face and back behind his ear, she leaned in closer to him. "I'll let you in on a secret though - it's your place too. We're married."

Guybrush's jaw hung open in shock. Gasping, he turned to Nelson and started grinning like he'd just won the lottery. Stage-whispering, he hissed to his partner in excitement, "Nelson. Nelson we're married. Nelson- she's my wife!!" He turned back to Elaine. "You're my wife?!" - back to Nelson - "she's my wife!" Clearly, this was the best thing he'd ever heard in his entire concussed, drug-addled life.

"She sure is, buddy. Congratulations." Nelson said, smiling and clapping a hand on his shoulder. Standing, he walked around the two lovebirds to take his position as Guybrush's chauffeur. As he pushed the wheelchair out of the waiting room, Elaine continued to hold her husband's hand until they reached the parking lot.

Guybrush frowned a bit when she let go; where was she going? He'd just met his wife, and she was already leaving him? He hadn't even had a chance to tell her how pretty her eyes were! So sparkly and beautiful, and green, and wonderful, and-

His thoughts were entirely derailed when she gave him a light peck on the cheek. "I'll be right back, sugar boots, just wait here for me."

"Aye, aye!" He said dreamily, grinning like a madman once again. As Elaine headed off into the parking lot to bring her car around, Guybrush leaned his head back so he could see Nelson. "Hey. Hey Nelson. You're amazing, you know that, right?"

"Oh, really?" He said, looking down at his partner.

"Yeah. I think you’re the only guy I’ve ever met who married someone while helping them get a date. That’s gotta make you like… the coolest guy on earth, or something." 

Nelson could only laugh as Elaine pulled the car up to the curb. It was a bit of a struggle getting Guybrush's noodley limbs to cooperate long enough to get in the vehicle, but between the three of them they were eventually able to pour the pirate into the passenger seat. He absolutely insisted on putting his seat belt on by himself, though he still hadn't quite managed to click it into place by the time Elaine finished climbing into the driver's side of the car.

“Thanks for keeping an eye on him,” Elaine said, rolling down her window. Nelson heard a noise of triumph sound from behind her as Guybrush finally secured his seat belt, though whether he'd actually done it himself or with some telekinetic help from his wife was anyone's guess. “Sometimes I worry he'll end up in a ditch somewhere if he's left to his own devices. I'm glad he's got you watching his back."

"Oh, it was no trouble, really." Nelson said, waving off the thanks. What else were friends for, if not to scrape you off the pavement after you fell down several flights of stairs? Additionally, who else was supposed to make fun of you while you babbled your way through a concussion? Really, were Guybrush in his right mind he'd probably have been disappointed in them had they not taken the opportunity. "Though you're probably not wrong about finding him in a ditch someday. Have you considered getting him chipped with some kind of GPS device?"

"Ah, now there's an idea!" Elaine agreed, pretending to take the suggestion seriously. Turning to her husband she asked, "what do you think?"

Guybrush clearly hadn't been listening. Looking up from the glove box he'd been investigating, he grinned sheepishly and, hoping no one would notice, said in his most confident voice, "Uh-huh, Yeah, that sounds great! Sure thing!"

Shaking her head, Elaine turned back to Nelson. "Really though, thanks."

As she put the car in gear, Nelson took a step back up onto the curb. 

"You kids have fun now!" He called teasingly, waving goodbye as she began to pull away.

"Oh believe me," she said, with a glance back at her husband, "we will."

Nelson hadn’t thought it was possible, but somehow Guybrush managed to grin even wider. Smiling softly and shaking his head, he turned to take the wheelchair back inside as Elaine drove off. He’d give them a call in a few days, just to see how Guybrush was doing. In the meantime though, he had some stone cats to follow up on.