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Wishes

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Mallow wondered if, on the off chance their journey lasted long enough, Geno would someday turn into a real boy. But he never asked, partly because it seemed rude, and partly because Geno was so serious that Mallow doubted he could ever be a "boy" at all. He seemed to always be looking at the big picture, seeing Bowser and Mario's rivalry as a childish tiff rather than a series of all-consuming, kingdom-devastating crises. Though, Mallow thought, when you're literally above all that, I guess it does seem a little petty.

"Geno?" he asked once, when they were up late at night in the wilds of Land's End, sitting around a campfire. The others had long since gone to sleep. "What's the Star Road like?"

"A lot like Star Hill," Geno responded. "In fact, Star Hill is a chunk of the Star Road that fell to the planet's surface many years ago."

"Wow," Mallow said. "No wonder it looks so different from everything else. So...what do you do up there? Like, what's your job? Does everyone grant wishes, or..."

"Me? Well..." he hemmed and hawed a bit, as if wondering if Mallow could be trusted. "I suppose there's no harm in telling you. I'm what they call a...I guess 'guardian' is the closest translation. I make sure nobody threatens the Star Road, so we can do our jobs and grant people's wishes."

Mallow rolled this around in his head. "I've been wondering. What if someone made a bad wish?" he asked. "Like, what if Bowser wanted to kidnap Peach? Would you grant that wish?"

"Well..." Geno hesitated. "That's not my department, but yes. We would be obligated to grant that wish, though we have some pretty malleable definitions of 'granting a wish.' Maybe that means, say, Peach falls asleep in a flower field a little too far from the castle..."

"But that's... that's wrong!" Mallow protested. "Doesn't that mean you're helping the bad guys?"

"Well, we also help the good guys," his friend pointed out. "After all, plenty of people wish for Mario to foil Bowser, too...including Peach."

Mallow tilted his head, frowning. "I guess. But can't you just...not grant the bad wishes, and only grant the good ones?"

"Believe me," Geno said, "we've had a lot of arguments about that. Some of us say we should only grant the good ones, and let the bad ones fall to Star Hill. Others say that it's not our place to judge which ones are good and which ones are bad. After all, everyone has a different opinion on what constitutes a 'bad' wish." 

"What do you think? Like, personally?"

Geno leaned back in the grass. He let out a low hmm as he stared up at the stars.

"Just between you and me?" he replied. "I think...everyone deserves to have their wishes granted."

Mallow stared. "Seriously?"

"Yes. I used to be a lot more hard-nosed about it," Geno chuckled. "Back in the day, I made the same argument you did. But now, even with folks like Smithy running around, I just think...well..." 

He fell silent for a moment, considering.

"Think about Booster," he said. "He just wanted someone to play with. Punchinello wanted to be famous. Even Belome was just hungry. I can't judge them for having feelings."

Mallow paused, then laid down in the grass next to Geno, looking up at the same sky. "I guess," he sighed. "Maybe you're right. I just wish people's feelings wouldn't hurt anyone else..."

"Me, too," Geno agreed. "Me, too."