.:Come Be Lonely With Me:. - DarkwingSnark (2023)

Chapter 1: The Nature of Flowers [and People That We Know]


For those who are seeing impaired, or are unable to look at photos, the text chats will be provided in the end notes.

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

Soft dirt squished between nimble digits, spreading the topsoil evenly around the base of the newest addition to the Mario household. Vibrant red thistles stood out proudly amongst a sea of black-eyed susans and lamb’s ear– the prickly flower swaying gently in the breeze. Luigi couldn’t help but smile fondly at them from under his sun hat, firmly patting the earth as if tucking his children into bed. He supposed in a way he was , with it being a flower bed and all .

The man huffed softly in his own amusement, gently wiping his hands onto his overalls, before surveying his handiwork.

Luigi’s yard was separated accordingly: closer towards their home housed a small closed off plot of land for vegetables– specifically set aside for cooking. While Luigi was perfectly fine with going to the market to pick up most of their needs, he had insisted on a spot for tomatoes and squash– a common ingredient in most of the meals he and his brother prepared. It was a meager selection of crops, but Luigi couldn’t help but smile when remembering the last time Mario complimented how flavorful and ripe the tomatoes were. How he loved how their aroma filled their whole home when he stewed them.

An overall important and fruitful investment.

The rest of the yard was dedicated to aesthetics, the rim of their fence flourishing with flora. An ode to summer, the Italian liked to think, as the susans’ petals stretched in greeting– doing their best to imitate the sun. It was a humble contribution, and he was pleased to see them all finally bloom after having planted them the spring before. They should thrive long into autumn, protecting the softer lambs' ears. He couldn’t help but think of Mario and himself, in both fondness and exasperation.

Luigi, for good measure, gently stroked a petal, as he continued his musings.

Not that the lambs’ ears need the protection, they’re pretty hardy. It can just be easy to forget that sometimes, I think.

Whether he realized that metaphor was fitting for his own predicaments didn’t matter, as his attention was stolen from him by the thistles. These, too, were tough to the elements and could thrive well on their own. Many times over the years they had even been a thorn in Luigi’s side, the few times he’d gone on adventures having found himself pricked when stumbling about treacherous lands. While more common in the Dark Lands, it seemed over the years the thistles had crept their way towards the Mushroom Kingdom– the haunted houses he’d trekked through being swarmed with them. During those times they had been a nuisance, yet another plight for Luigi to consider. Something he had to dance around just to make sure he wasn’t hurt in the process.

And yet, during one of his walks with Polterpup, the plumber couldn’t help but reconsider their beauty. Their red hues vibrant and fiery as their spirit, making a demand to be seen. A warning to most that would attempt to harm, but inviting to the honey bees that gently rested upon them– feeding and giving the bumbling friends a reprieve. Luigi had made a decision then and there, the following morning taking a bag of tools to rehome the thistles to his garden.

Luigi sighed contently as he marveled at the red that stood taller than the susans. While the yellow and green was a blanket of calm, the plume thistles shot up in accented patches of contrasting but well meaning discord. A spontaneous beauty in what otherwise would be monotonous harmony.

Luigi squeaked in surprise as he felt his phone buzz softly in his apron pocket. A chuckle couldn’t help but escape him as he looked at his screen, seeing who it was from.

Speaking of chaos ,’ the Italian thought to himself, eyes gazing over the text. It was a message from Bowser, the newest addition in Luigi’s own life. It had been a little over a couple weeks since the end of the Tennis Tournament, and the two had been messaging back and forth throughout the days. Admittedly it started from Luigi’s end; not really being adept at small talk, the human would take pictures of things throughout the day with additional commentary. A mess Polterpup had made of his chew toys here, a selfie of Mario and himself drinking smoothies on the couch there. [The former looking more disgruntled and embarrassed that his younger brother would show pictures of him to his rival.] Luigi would have stopped if asked, only realizing in hindsight how much of a nuisance that might be to inform another every little thought throughout their day; but no such command ever came. In return, Bowser started sending pictures of his own.

Luigi couldn’t help but beam softly at what he was seeing. Bowser appeared to be making an attempt of peeking his phone from the edge of a table: camera focused on his advisor surrounded by other members of the court. General Paratroopas and Goombas sat in their seats, eyes focused on Kamek explaining something he was projecting from his crystal ball.

The text read as followed:

.:Come Be Lonely With Me:. - DarkwingSnark (1)

Getting up from the ground, Luigi put the trowel he’d been using into his wheelbarrow with the other tools–intending to store them all in the shed later. For now he walked towards the backdoor of his home, texting back the Koopa King.

.:Come Be Lonely With Me:. - DarkwingSnark (2)

Luigi reached the backdoor, walking through the entrance of the kitchen– where Mario happened to be washing the dishes. The older man had a habit of blasting music no matter what chore he was doing, needing something to stimulate his brain at all times. He was like that back in New York too, constantly carrying around his walkman to listen to his tunes, and being sucked into the land of talking fungi hadn’t changed that. Luigi listened as some sort of electronic techno pop sound came from the radio, Mario gently swinging himself back and forth to the music. Finally noticing his younger brother, he swiftly switched off the radio sitting on the counter and gave Luigi a sudsy salute.

“Eeey, Weegee. You done with your flowers already?”

Si .” To emphasize this point the lankier brother removed his hat from his head, gently setting it on the kitchen table as he plopped lethargically into a seat. His knees ached from having kneeled for hours. Luigi carried on, gently rubbing a leg to remove some of the stiffness. “Need t’still put the wheelbarrow away, though. But I didn’t see any Lakitu Forecasts mentioning rain, so should be okey dokey for now.”

Mario hummed softly in response, putting the last of the dishes on the rack to dry. The older man grabbed a spare dish towel and dried his exposed hands and arms.

“Just surprised, is all. You made-a it sound like-a I wouldn’t be seeing you today. Them weeds easier t’plant than you thought?”

Luigi’s mustache flicked in annoyance for a moment, more so because of the fact he’d told his brother numerous times that they were NOT weeds. Wild flowers, sure , but a weed had an implication of being unwanted. Of being a bother and something that would suffocate its neighbors. The thistles he planted were neither of those things, Luigi having done his research to make sure everything was compatible. He was about to argue all of this, when the cocked amused brow on Mario’s face told him all that he needed to know: that he was being teased. Not wanting to take the bait, the younger brother nodded in agreement.

“Not much of a hassle once you know what-a t’look out for.” A buzz from his pocket distracted Luigi from their conversation, quickly grabbing it as he apologized. “ Scusi, one moment.”

It took everything in Luigi not to laugh at what he read.

.:Come Be Lonely With Me:. - DarkwingSnark (3)

He could feel Mario’s eyes on him as his fingers flew across the screen, the younger plumber doing his best to ignore it.

.:Come Be Lonely With Me:. - DarkwingSnark (4)

Mario had enough consideration to give his brother the time to write his messages. But the moment Luigi had set his phone down, he pounced. Or at least, that’s sure what it felt like with the whole ‘I am the reasonable one’ tone he gave.

“You still talking to Bowser? With how often your phone’s been a-buzz, you’d think-a he didn’t have a kingdom to run.”

“I think it’s been nice,” a true statement, even if Luigi said it more so in Bowser’s defense. “Like having a pen pal. Been learning a lot about Koopa culture.”

That was certainly one way of putting it. While he had learned that gems and fossil fuels were the main source of the economies’ income– many of their trades being with neutral party kingdoms like Sarasaland and New Donk City– that had been a brief aside in another conversation altogether. Most of what Luigi had learned had been about the king, himself, and the going-ons around the castle. He had even saved a few of the photos Bowser had sent him, including the poorly focused photo Junior had sent along through his papa as he demanded Luigi see his newest creation. The crude drawing of the Mario Brothers received a laugh from him, especially seeing how equally tiny Luigi was with his brother when standing next to the King of all Koopas. The exaggeration made them look more like pets than people, which only heightened the human’s amusement.

.:Come Be Lonely With Me:. - DarkwingSnark (5)

Luigi would have to remember to ask for the drawing the next time he saw the koopaling, it would be the first piece of art he’d ever felt compelled to put on a fridge.

Back in the present, Mario wasn’t entirely convinced. It was with a heavy sigh he wadded the hand towel, letting his future self worry about hanging it up properly at a later time. He switched to their native tongue, Italian rolling off of Mario with ease.

“Admittedly I’m just surprised you’re both still talking to each other. You’re a good boy who’s always seen the best in people, but him? Mario sighed again, rubbing the brim of his nose as he finally sat down at the table– Luigi couldn’t help but think the unneeded stress was only aging him. “ It’s hard to wrap my head around.

Luigi supposed he couldn’t blame his brother entirely, a part of him didn’t fully understand it either. He knew why HE liked Bowser: he was a bit rough around the edges, but caring once you learned to see past the aggressive demeanor. A king with both endless confidence and terrible self esteem when it came to his more intimate feelings– somehow neither point contradicting the other. It made Bowser both relatable and admirable, tangible yet out of reach enough to remain a mystery. Once getting past his fears, Luigi would even say that getting to know the koopa excited him. It still felt risky at times, like walking a tight rope he couldn’t see, never fully expecting some of the reactions he received. And yet…

It was the most seen Luigi felt in years.

The flutter in the younger Mario’s chest felt itself descend slowly, as a heavy feeling made its way to his stomach. His brother had a point, after all, though not one they would agree on. At the end of the day Luigi didn’t fully know why Bowser put up with him. Being lonely with limited options was always a possibility, but Luigi couldn’t help but feel that discredited Bowser’s feelings. Still, he knew he wasn’t as amazing as most in his life– present company included. And, no matter how much he tried, he knew Bowser would grow bored of him. Leave him as a passing thought in the back of his mind, only to be forgotten. Not because Bowser was terrible or cruel, but because that was just the way things were. It was hard to notice somebody who was unadventurous at best and a terrible coward at worst.

Luigi swallowed the growing lump in his throat, fighting to keep the smile on his face from straining into a cringe.

“It’s hard to wrap my head around too sometimes, fratellone.” Soft words hung in the air, his conviction and confidence not strong enough to give them weight. Italian squeaked from Luigi in a tone more fitting of a mouse than man. “ Bowser is an important guy, and I’m just a plumber lucky enough not to have to struggle with bills– what with you being the hero and giving us free advertisement. Kinda imbalanced, isn’t it? I like being his friend, but it’s hard to imagine what I’m exactly giving him in return.

Mario’s eyes opened wide upon hearing this, no doubt Luigi’s current pity party not being where he thought the conversation was headed. Leaning across the table and quickly grabbing his younger brother’s hand, he began patting it gently.

No , don’t do that. You’re not allowed-a to use-a my words to hurt yourself.” Thicker hands stopped their hitting and began caressing his baby brother’s knuckles, callouses from years of use a calming sensation against Luigi’s sunkissed skin. Mario massaged away the hurt, as he carried on. “I didn’t mean it like THAT, fratellino . If it weren’t for that overgrown lizard’s diavoletti, I’d say you’re-a the best thing-a t’happen to the guy. Cavolo, I STILL might say-a you are just ‘cause you’re my brother!”

Luigi remained silent, despite feeling guilty over having accidentally manipulated the other man into giving him praise. Mario didn’t give him the room to protest, even if he could work up the nerve, as he continued peppering on the praise .

“Silly, perfect Weegee. You’re a saint; Bowser’s just lucky you have a heart big enough t’squeeze him in. Shell n’ all! Not so-a easy for me, I couldn’t do it.” Mario shook his head stubbornly, graying locks bouncing slightly from the act. “Wouldn’t even know where to start, not after all these years.”

Luigi felt himself shake as he used his free hand to reach out and rest it on top of his brother’s– stopping the older man’s gentle caresses. It was with a deep breath the more timid man dared to voice a thought on his mind.

“You could learn . Maybe if you gave him a chance, talked to him like a person and not your enemy, you might be surprised.” The way Mario’s face contorted into a grimace told the younger brother his thoughts on that, yet still Luigi pressed on. “He reminds me of you sometimes, ya know. Charming and very funny.”

Luigi refused to mention that Bowser was equally stubborn, as he didn’t think that would help the situation. Still, Mario seemed to be considering it, shoulders relaxing as he eased more into his seat.

“It won’t be easy,” the older Italian admitted. “He’s a lot to handle.”

“Yeah,” Luigi agreed. “But I kinda like that about him too.”

He didn’t even flinch as Mario chastised him with a slap on the wrist.

Mio fratello, un vero strambo.

Despite the insult, Luigi couldn’t help but laugh along. It wasn’t a promise, or any sort of resolution really. But it was something the younger man could find comfort with– the closest form of a truce he had received from Mario yet. A start for things to change, hopefully for the better.

Those thoughts, however, would have to be put on hold as the siblings were interrupted by the sudden vibration murmuring on the table. Luigi had been leaning against it, startled enough to meep out over the sensation. Mario chuckled in the way only an older brother could, as he picked up the discarded towel and removed himself from the table.

“Go on, answer it. I should start getting lunch ready for us, yeah? Talk of koopas leave me hankerin’ for some pasta.”

Luigi didn’t need to be told twice as he went for his phone, flicking open his messages as curiosity got the better of him. It was his turn to be surprised at what was said.

.:Come Be Lonely With Me:. - DarkwingSnark (6)

Where the confrontation before had brought dread, it was Bowser’s words that caused Luigi’s heart to sputter in his chest– as if his pulse tripped over their own metaphorical feet. A warmth spread over him, this time not something he could blame on the summer heat. That was something else he admired about Bowser: he had a way of making his wants known. The koopa had laid himself emotionally bare, even if he tried his best to dress it up with a nonchalant attitude. He wanted to see Luigi, he finally had an open window and asked HIM to fill it with his company.

Was it possible to swoon from unbridled feelings of friendship? Because if so, Luigi was light headed just as much as he was giddy with excitement. His fingers danced eagerly across the screen, thoughts racing.

.:Come Be Lonely With Me:. - DarkwingSnark (7)

Luigi took a quick breather to shake the stiffness from his hands, doing a double take in surprise as he saw signs that Bowser was typing back already. In record breaking time the koopa had responded, text making demands in all caps.

.:Come Be Lonely With Me:. - DarkwingSnark (8)

Luigi felt breathless, gulping as a sudden thought came to him. Eyeing his brother over by the stove, his back turned to him, the younger plumber typed back.

.:Come Be Lonely With Me:. - DarkwingSnark (9)

It was with the will of an unforeseeable god that Luigi worked up the courage to clear his throat and grab his brother’s attention.

“Hey, big bro, you said you’d be willing to give Bowser a try, yes?”

Mario barely peeked over his shoulder, his focus mostly on the pots on the stove.

“Yeah, I guess? Something like that, at least.”

It was with a deep breath Luigi took the plunge.

What would you say to me inviting Bowser over this weekend?



Luigi: [[ Oh how the mighty have fallen. 😁]]
[[By the way, what is all that?🤔]]
[[The charts makes it look important and like you shouldn’t be distracted.]]


Luigi: [[My condolences. I usually fall asleep during those kinds of meetings.]]
[[Very boring. 😴 ]]


Luigi: [[ I have a garden. 💐]]
[[It’s the only treasure I own.]]


Luigi: [[Actually, I think I can do you one better…]]

Chapter 2: You Worry Too Much


Luigi paces around like a nervous wreck as he awaits Bowser's arrival. Mario does his brotherly duty and distracts him with snark.


Big shout out to my wife for reading over everything for me to check and see if my tired brain forgot whole words again. And condolences for having to listen to me do evil laughs after I wrote every moment of gay chicken. I'll make it up to her on Valentines Day, promise.

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

Luigi couldn’t help his nervous fidgeting. One moment he would be leaning against his pine picket fence, only to start pacing in front of the gate. His legs couldn’t decide if they needed to burn off energy or rest, and he desperately hoped they would make a decision sooner rather than later . If anyone was watching the middle aged man, they would be in for quite a show– his facial features sliding all over the place as he tried to suppress the wobbling of his lips. Luigi was excited for what was to come, just as much as his nerves told him to pick a direction and run.

One would think he was either waiting for terrible news or was looking forward to an afternoon with some unknown paramour. They would be wrong , but Luigi supposed he wouldn’t blame anyone for thinking that. Even he knew that his reactions were inappropriate for meeting up with a supposed friend. Most would tell him he was worrying for nothing, and to just focus on enjoying himself.

Well, most people weren’t Bowser either, for that matter. And for that reason alone Luigi’s reaction felt warranted– even as he did his best to take deep breaths. He didn’t need a mirror to tell he was a mess, his twisted innards and sweaty palms were confirmation enough. It was easy to get lost in his concerns, as his thoughts ran about in a spinning haze. Bowser was a KING . Would their home be accommodating enough? When Princess Peach visited, she was the one who set the mood, most of her time there being casual without the airs of royal stations. While she approved of homemade offerings of baked goods as a gift of hospitality, what if Bowser was insulted? Actually, now that he thought of it, did Bowser even eat sweets? Luigi felt himself running through his memories, trying to recall if he had ever seen the koopa king eat pastries. Mind running blank, he couldn’t help but grip the side of his head as he began to spiral.

“You’re thinkin’ too much,” came the sudden intrusion of a familiar voice, causing a startled Luigi to squeak and whip himself around. There, on the other side of the gate, stood the plumber’s older brother– bushy brows scrunched in a mix of amusement and concern. Luigi only noticed Mario was carrying a glass of water and a towel once he shoved them towards his suffering sibling, carrying on his chiding.

Drink. At this-a rate, you’re goin’ to pass out before-a Bowser even gets here.”

Mario’s hardened expression told Luigi he was waiting for him to follow his command, the younger man deciding to relieve his brother’s worry by taking a sip and wiping off some of the sweat that dripped down the side of his face. Luigi hummed in appreciation as a sip became downing half the glass. Mario merely sighed at this, shoulders slumping slightly in the process.

“Maybe you shoulda jus’ come inside an’a wait for him there. Iffa he misses the only house for miles, that’sa on him , fratellino.”

Luigi couldn’t help but snort at the comment, even as he shook his head.

“No, I’ll be fine. Just nervous.” It was then a thought struck him, straightening up with a shock as the younger man’s eyes shot towards the direction of their home. “Did you make sure doggy can’t get into the snacks? He didn’t make a mess in-a the living room, did he?”

Mario rolled his eyes.

Stai affogando in un bicchiere d'acqua , ya worrywart." Still, despite his teasing Mario took pity on his brother, patting him on the shoulder. “Everything’s fine. The house-a is as clean-a as you left it. ‘Sides, doggy found-a nice bit of sun t’ nap in. It’s all good!”

The thought of Polterpup sun bathing brought a calming smile to Luigi’s face, as he allowed himself to lean on the fence with a sigh.

Grazie. I know I’ve been-a intense today–”

“More like-a three days.” Mario corrected, Luigi ignored this and carried on.

“Jus’ want things to go well. Been a while since the tournament, an’a part of-a me kinda forgets how we hit it off. And… and there’s the house , not really made for royalty.”

At this the man slumped, his hat falling over his eyes some as he stared at the smoke bush lining the fence. The shrubbery blossomed a pink to yellow ombre, subtle in its presentation but equally inviting. Or at least, he liked to think so. Voice soft, Luigi took the plunge and voiced his concern.

“You let me take the reins on how-a our home looks, and I think I’m-a makin’ it personal. Like iffa things aren’t perfect or comfortable, Bowser might not like me anymore.” Luigi couldn’t help but weakly chuckle at hearing the thought aloud. “ Molto sciocco , I know. Bowser isn’t that shallow.”

“I dunno,” Mario began, catching Luigi’s attention. The older plumber drummed playfully on his bushy mustache, only a peak of a smirk to be seen,” Egli è drammatico. I wouldn’t put it past-a that koopa to be-a big baby.”

Luigi didn’t even try to stop himself as he retorted with a light punch to his brother’s shoulder.

You said you’d be nice.

“He’s not here-a yet, so no rules broken.” Mario shrugged, even as he nonchalantly retrieved the glass and towel from the other Italian to lessen his burden. “Jokes aside, he’d be pretty snooty not to like-a our home. Or the Weegee that made it, for that matter. Both s’pretty comfy.”

Say what you wanted about his brother, but Mario had a way of convincing Luigi that the things he said were true. A warmth blossomed in his chest, as the younger man could feel his eyes prickling from unshed tears. Luigi refused to let himself cry, even as he awkwardly hugged his brother from over the fence. He could feel Mario’s laugh rumbling against him, Mario’s free hand gently patting his brother on the back.

“‘Ey, none of that. Iffa you start with-a the water works, I’mma gonna have to force myself to wait out here with you.”

A threat to be taken seriously, as Luigi had made a point of wanting to be the one to greet the Koopa King first. It was Luigi’s turn to laugh, as he pulled himself away to show his brother he’d be fine.

“No, you go back inside. I got this!”

The eager pumping of his fist must have been convincing enough, as Mario took him for his word. Turning and heading back up the cobblestone path to their home, it was Luigi’s turn to turn his back on his concerns as he gazed up at the clouds. No matter what his nerves said, he had to believe what his brother said was true. That maybe, just maybe , Bowser would find both him and their humble home enough.

Some time later, Luigi watched as cotton clouds ruptured like a prophet splitting the red sea. In the past such a sight would have terrified him, an ominous sign of bad tidings to come. Instead, Luigi’s heart raced for different reasons as he perked up, catching the silhouette of Bowser’s airship in the distance. The closer it came into view, the more the man allowed himself to marvel at its wonder.

According to all known laws of aviation, there was no way the ship should be able to fly. The size of a cruiseliner, Bowser’s royal vessel sailed through the sky with a grace unfitting for a ship suspended by only a few propellers. It had to be magic, Luigi reasoned, as all his skill in engineering told him there was no other possibility. White with steel accents, it didn’t take long before Luigi could make out Bowser’s visage as the figurehead, and soon after the dark violet ornamental curtains hanging from the sides. Soon, however, the ship decided to surprise the Italian once more as he could just make out a latch near the front of the hull opening. While the ship didn’t take any means of lowering, something else decided to descend from the heavens through the gaping entrance. With the speed unfitting for its structure, Luigi watched as a rotund koopa clown car came into view– Bowser’s head held high as the copter landed a few feet from the human.

If the Koopa King had wanted to make a presentation of his arrival, he had certainly done so. With a twinkle of mischief in his eyes, Bowser smirked as he leaned onto the rim of his car– red eyes solely on Luigi, and Luigi alone .

“Long time no see, Pistachio. Ya miss me?

“Si ,” Luigi answered honestly, taking a small eager sprint towards his guest. Bowser had barely hopped out of his clown car when Luigi latched himself to the koopa’s side, arms stretched in the biggest embrace he could manage. “ È passato troppo tempo, amico mio. You were sorely missed.”

.:Come Be Lonely With Me:. - DarkwingSnark (10)

The Italian only realized perhaps he had crossed a boundary when he noted Bowser had stiffened and gone quiet. Just as Luigi was about to let go and apologize for his forwardness, Bowser seemed to break his stupor with a deep rumble of a chuckle, a large taloned hand gently patting the human’s back affectionately.

“Is this how you greet everybody who comes t’say ‘hi’?” He was teasing Luigi, and the plumber could feel himself beginning to flush from it. Bowser’s toothy grin only widened, feeding off of the embarrassment like a tyrant torturing their captured victim. He carried on cockily. “If so, a guy could get used to it. Not every day somebody not kin sees the Koopa King and runs towards me.”

Luigi didn’t get to respond as it was Bowser who broke their embrace, looking as if he suddenly forgot something important.

“Wait, hold on a sec. I brought ya something.”

“You did?” Luigi asked, genuinely surprised. Bowser merely rolled his eyes at this, turning around to reach into the bottom of his clown car.

“Yeah, well, no need t’act so surprised. I know at least a few things about decorum n’ junk.” This was followed by a huff as the king bent over further, finally grabbing onto the gift with a triumphant ‘ a-HA! ’. Pulling himself out of the vehicle, Luigi was surprised to see Bowser holding up a decorative basket. As most things in regards to the koopa, what would be a bountiful gift for Luigi was practically diminutive in Bowser’s large hands.

Here ,” he said, practically shoving the thing into the plumber’s arms. “ Go ahead and open it.


Luigi took a moment to appreciate the black wicker basket, the insides obscured by an emerald green foil and bow. Even the act of wrapping the gift in his favorite color was enough to make Luigi smile, as he delicately unwrapped the present so as to save the foil for later as a memento. He couldn’t help his small gasp of surprise at what he saw.

Bowser cleared his throat, stealing his attention away from the gift in his hands.

So , after you mentioned likin’ lame stuff like gardening, I got t’thinking: ‘Hey, the Mushroom Kingdom is kinda limited on the stuff they got. Why not show off some Darkland pride n’ give somethin’ with a little more bite ?’”

A fitting statement, as what was inside was a potted piranha plant sapling. The small thing stretched towards the now exposed sunlight, soon opening its maw to show off its tiny fangs. It trilled happily, dawning on Luigi he had never heard such a thing before. In the past piranha plants were just feral floral beasts, snapping at anything they could get a grip of. But here, as a gift surrounded by a few other wrapped goodies, it actually appeared harmless.

Bowser must have gotten nervous over Luigi’s silence, as he began quickly rambling off what else was in the basket.

“I don’t really know much about plants, or cruddy nerd stuff like that in general ,” the king admitted, hand running through his fiery tufts as he explained. “But I got GUYS that do! So I had Kamek put together a list on how to take care of the thing. And stuff to feed ‘em for a while.”

Opening up one of the other parcels made Luigi do a double take, as there were four large steaks packaged underneath said note from the magikoopa. A quick look at the label and the marbling texture told the human the meat alone cost a pretty penny, the closest Earth comparison being high quality wagyu. While the idea of feeding a piranha plant such an expensive palate was intimidating, Luigi couldn’t help but feel touched by all the effort.

“They’re wonderful,” Luigi admitted, daring to let a finger slide across the head of the bud– the thing letting out a pleased wiggle and chirp. Luigi couldn’t contain his smile as it stretched beyond the curtain of his mustache, eyes darting towards the one who had gone through the trouble and gifted him the exotic breed. “ Thank you , Bowser. I don’t know what to say! He’s gonna make-a lovely an’ exciting addition to my garden.”

Any previous nervousness the king had seemed to instantly vanish, eyes opening wide with his own barely restrained giddiness. He puffed up his chest, throwing his head to the side with all the airs of a preening lizard.

“Of course it will, ‘cause they’re rad . Didn’t doubt you’d like it for a second! ” Luigi had the sneaking suspicion that wasn’t the case, but decided it would be rude to say so otherwise. Bowser didn’t allow the human to think about it more, as he threw an arm around his pal and started wrangling him towards the gate. “Well, don’t just stand there. You gonna show me around, or what?”

It was with a look towards the sky that Luigi scrunched his brows and voiced a concern.

“Whatta ‘bout them? Don’t they need to land?”

Bowser had to follow Luigi’s gaze to process what he was referring to, then instantly scoffed when he realized the human meant his ship.

“Don’t worry ‘bout ‘em, they’re gonna do a shipment run while we hang. Uses less gas that way.

While Luigi didn’t understand the logic there, he merely nodded and took the king for his word. Who was he to argue? Perhaps it took more fuel to land and then go through the trouble of taking off again, and he merely didn’t understand the logistics of magical flight. The plumber instead smiled graciously as Bowser made a point to open the gate for him, letting Luigi lead the way down the earth toned cobblestone path and towards the front door. Luigi couldn’t help himself as he used the large basket in his arms to hide the fact he was discreetly watching Bowser look around the front yard. There wasn’t much to note, colorful shrubbery and willows being the main dressing so as not to completely obscure the house. And closer towards the door was both the clothing line and Polterpup’s doghouse: for lazy sunny days where he wanted to watch his master take care of the laundry. Functional and served its purpose, but wasn’t the Italian’s main source of pride like the rest of the home.

Bowser seemed to at least somewhat approve, as he gave a slight nod to something– more than likely having confirmed something he had assumed about the Mario Brothers. Luigi didn’t dare ask what that could be, feeling living in the comfort of denial was a safer bet. Less likely to get teased for having boring tastes.

They finally reached the door when a new concern came to light, horror striking Luigi with cold dread as he didn’t know if the door was big enough to allow Bowser entrance.

“Uuum,” Luigi stalled, doing some quick calculations. Bowser towered him, sure, but the height of the door seemed more than enough to handle him. No, what the human worried about was his shell – the protective plating adding a lot of girth to the koopa’s frame. The last thing he wanted was to mortify the king by having him get stuck in the door frame. Luigi didn’t care if the house got scratched or chipped, but he would feel terrible if Bowser fractured his shell trying to brute force his way towards freedom.

The Italian swallowed down that horrible mental image, just as Bowser decided to speak up.

“What’s the hold up, Greenie?”

Sc-scusi! ” Luigi squeaked, gently turning the handle as he attempted to explain. “Um, it’s just… How, uh, sensitive is your shell? P-posso chiederlo? ” The last bit was hurried out under his breath in an anxious whisper, before taking another gulp of air. Luigi tried again louder. “ The door . Might be too… small?

The man cringed at hearing his own words aloud. Oh boy, no matter how hard he tried, that sounded like an insult. Luigi, however, missed the sight of Bowser’s grin only growing wider as he started to understand the situation. By the time the plumber noticed, Bowser was casually leaning against the house– eyes lidded with what Luigi could only describe as the same thrill of seeing the human stumble about.

“Heh, you sayin’ I’m too much for ya to handle? Figures. ” The king decided then to casually look at the door as if it was his first time considering the situation. “See yer point, though. Kinda on the thin size, ain’t it? WELP , no need t’worry yer pretty lil’ head about that. Yer LUCKY I got this covered.”

Luigi only had time to raise an eyebrow at the ‘ pretty’ comment before his focus was stolen from him by the koopa king straightening himself up and doing a quick stretch of his arms. Before the Italian could ask what he was planning, just as Bowser let out a deep exhale, his answer came to him with a startling sight. The Koopa threw up his chest, sucking in violently to the point his eyes practically bulged. Gut tightened, Luigi watched in awe as Bowser’s spikes sucked themselves inside his shell with a metallic sounding ‘ shink ’.


Open. The. Door.” Bowser hissed through his teeth.

Luigi scrambled to do as he was commanded, quickly scurrying inside as he realized what Bowser planned on doing. Without his spikes, there was just enough room for the koopa to sideways squeeze through the door. The King swerved his body backwards once inside, avoiding the chandelier right as he stepped in, and shimmying deep enough through to clear it. Bowser practically coughed out his spikes as he steadied himself, before smiling smugly at the human.

See? Nothing to it.

Once again, Luigi felt the need to question the koopa’s definition of ‘ nothing ’. He had just witnessed a crime on anatomy he didn’t even know was possible. How did that even work? One question led to another, and soon Luigi was wondering just how koopa shells functioned. Were they even attached to their spines like turtles back on Earth? He had assumed they were all this time, but then it dawned on Luigi that would have made it near impossible for the king to wear clothes under his shell. Was Bowser capable of removing it? What was under there? Have shells just been a form of clothes or armor all this time?!

Luigi was broken from his racing thoughts by a flick of his nose, Bowser hunched over slightly as he grumbled.

“You’re staring. What’s got ya upset THIS time?”

“Sorry!” The king rolled his eyes, and Luigi’s own embarrassment had him sheepishly looking at the dark wooden floors of the foyer room. He rubbed his sleeve, deciding to be honest for his friend’s sake. “Was just startled. I… Didn’t know you could do that.”

Bowser scoffed.

“That ol’ thing? What, impressed or somethin’?”

Concerned. ” The Italian answered. He looked up at Bowser, making a note about how there was just enough room for the koopa’s horns to avoid hitting the ceiling. [And to imagine all the time he had fretted about the place looking nice, not once wondering if his friend could even fit inside without harming himself!] Luigi dared to continue. “Does… that hurt at all? The spike thing, I mean.”


A surprisingly quiet response from the koopa, as he let his eyes look over the room. The pale red walls contrasted the more rustic look of the walnut furniture, though Bowser seemed more interested in moving along the conversation from himself as he walked deeper inside the home– eyes landing on the wall on the opposite side of the stairs. Golden frames accented the floral patterned wallpaper, showing off different moments from the Mario Brothers’ lives in the Mushroom Kingdom.

There was a picture of Mario and Luigi’s overalls covered in oil as they proudly showed off their then newly made go-karts. One of Yoshi and his fellow steeds from their small island home in Dinosaur Land, looking as though they were more curious about the camera than anything else. There was a selfie Princess Peach had sent as a postcard, showing off her and Tiara’s vacation after their escape from Bowser– the vast expanse of the Sand Kingdom behind them. Captain Toad, Toadette, Professor E. Gadd, and other friends littered the wall– only interrupted every so often by a lamp shining so as to allow everyone to be in the spotlight.

Luigi wondered if Bowser would notice the fact he and his children were amongst them– being in a promotional photo taken during the last tournament, the family tucked alongside all the other participants. It was a new addition to the wall, one that Luigi had cut out of the newspaper purely on impulse. Mario had certainly questioned it, but otherwise let his brother do as he’d pleased. Bowser’s gaze finally landed on it, giving an amused huff.

“Not exactly my good side, but it’ll do fer now. Remind me to send ya a royal mugshot sometime. Got loads of ‘em lying around anyhow.

Luigi let out a sigh he didn’t realize he was holding, laughing as he took a step closer to the collection of memories.

“Wouldn’t mind having one of-a Junior’s paintings too,” The man admitted, passing a look up at his friend who seemed surprised to hear this. “Iffa he wouldn’t mind-a sharing, of course. Penso che siano carini. Eh, to say I have-a the work of a famous artist? ”

Not an exact translation, but Luigi found himself having trouble admitting to the child’s father that he found his youngest’s work endearing. Bowser didn’t need HIM of all people to tell him that, after all. And yet, he couldn’t help but think the king understood on some level as he turned away from the photos with a grin.

“Exposure might do the kid good. Maybe makin’ a whole side hustle on commissions– it would take a load off on the castle footing the cost of cleanin’ all his graffiti.

“The life of a struggling artist,” Luigi couldn’t help but tease. It was then that he noticed the door still open, Bowser’s gift still outside. Making a quick scurry across the foyer, Luigi retrieved the basket– shutting the door behind him.

“Say, how ‘bout I putta the steaks in the fridge real quick and give the fiorellino a nice place to rest?” The human nodded towards the kitchen, the foyer leading straight into it– yellow walls on the other side of the doorway peeking through. Luigi continued. “ La mia casa è la tua casa. Just make yourself at home, okay?”

“Alright,” the koopa agreed, noticing the other doorway led into the living room and made his way in that direction.

Luigi merely listened to the soft thumps of Bowser’s footsteps, finding courage in the king taking the initiative. Stepping into the kitchen, Luigi was surprised to see his brother leaning against the sink– the man having been busy eating an apple as he presumably left Luigi and his guest in peace. He hummed in greeting, as his younger brother unpacked the items onto the kitchen table. Mario strolled up behind him casually, taking another loud bite of his apple and speaking around his chewing.

Sooo , sounds like-a you’re havin’ some fun . Ready to admit you-a were nervous for nothing?”

Luigi gave him a look from his peripherals, placing the piranha plant gently down next to Kamek’s instructions and the steaks– the sapling instantly attempting to snap and eat the paper. Mario laughed as his baby brother swiped the paper away and stuck it in his overalls for safe keeping. With a tired sigh, Luigi turned towards his brother and beamed softly.

“You know, I’m starting to think-a you’re right. I mean, we got Bowser through the door with-a no trouble, and that was the scariest part. ” It was his turn to chuckle, Mario merely tilting his head.

“Was THAT what that was about? Sounded more like he wassa havin’ some stomach trouble, iffin ya ask me.” The frown he got from Luigi made him give a carefree shrug. “Eh, still. You worry too much. I mean, what kinda trouble can the big ol’ koopa get sitting in the living room?”

As if fate saw their chance at perfect comedic timing, both of the Mario Brothers jumped as suddenly there was a loud crash from the other room. The sound of a pained roar was followed by the upset barking of Polterpup, the sound echoing through their tiny home. Luigi could feel the blood draining from his face, eyes widened in uncontrollable panic.

Huh,” Mario said quietly, just as stunned as his brother. “ He’s more talented than I thought.


So... ya like jazz?

Chapter 3: Let Me Hear You Roar


Crash! Bang! Family Collision. But what's that? Here comes Bowser with the chair! [If that's a metaphor for being gay.]


I, uh... felt inspired and got everything done in a day. Whoops?

Chapter Text

Luigi could feel himself sliding as he dashed from linoleum to wooden flooring, feet deciding to get ahead of him as he ran towards the living room. What would have normally been an inviting scene– room aglow from natural sunlight coming from the window-box in the nearby dining room– at that moment was anything but. There, bottom planted on the couch, was Bowser. Now, normally this wouldn’t have been an unwelcome sight– the plumber having told his guest to get comfortable within his home. Yet, as Luigi watched in wide-eyed shock, he couldn’t help the small gasp that escaped him at what he saw.

The couch was ripped in half, the side Bowser was sitting on having its legs splayed out. The King seemed to be in a state of shock, claws dug into the cushioned seating. He didn’t say or do anything, even as Polterpup barked wildly at him– the ghost no doubt having been spooked by both the unexpected awakening as well as seeing his favorite couch destroyed. Luigi couldn’t help but be stupified over how such a thing could happen, the furniture designed to comfortably fit the weight of numerous grown men. It seemed impossible!

He should have known when it came to the King of all Koopas, Bowser had the habit of making the impossible happen.

It was around this time that Bowser came to enough to realize he had a witness to his destruction in the doorway, the beastly being sprang to his feet in a feat of record breaking speed.

I’LL PAY FOR THAT ,” Bowser shouted, voice strained in a shrill tone very much foreign to the plumber. The koopa’s irises only shrunk more with panic as he seemed to realize something, hand reaching behind his shell to dislodge what was once a throw pillow– the embroidered font of ‘home sweet home’ mutilated by the giant spike-sized hole. Bowser whipped his head towards the Italian. “ AND THAT TOO!

(Video) .::~F You Betta- Awesome/Wander~::.

“N-no, you don’t have to. It… it was-a used when we got it.” Luigi was already making his way across the room, avoiding the coffee table that had thankfully not taken damage despite the wild way Bowser had been swinging his tail about. “ Dimenticati del divano , not important. Are YOU okay? Does anything hurt?”

Just my pride ,” the Koopa grumbled, allowing himself to be dragged away from the mess. Just in time for Mario to have finally sauntered his way from the kitchen, doing a full on stop in the doorway just as his baby brother had done before. Unlike Luigi, who had been worried, the realization of what happened could be seen working itself out on the older Italian’s face– smile stretching even as he had some decency to attempt to hide it.

“What happened here?” He asked, voice strained in a way that sounded like he was just barely holding in a laugh. Luigi shot him a glare.

An accident. Luigi turned his attention back toward Bowser, lightly patting his scaled hand. “ Non sentirti in colpa : no worries, ‘kay? Like-a I said, it was an old-a couch. Me n’ Mario been wanna t’get that thing replaced anyway.” Bowser, in his own mortification, allowed himself to be dragged towards another seat– the human encouraging him to sit once more. “Come-a sitta in my recliner. It’s new, strong. Not rotting away like-a the stinky couch. Let me getcha a cuppa tea t’calm ya down, yeah?”

The koopa had enough of a mind to hesitate, looking down at the dark green lazyboy that accompanied its red twin. Luigi couldn’t help but feel his heart go out towards the guy, looking surprisingly small as he seemed to curl in on himself– all bravado gone. Still, more than likely feeling like it was best to let the human take the reins, Bowser cautiously allowed himself to sink into the spongy seat.

Only for the recliner to give a loud creak before breaking and unfolding itself right from under him.

B-BOWSER! ” Luigi cried out, voice warbled as he was instantly on top of him. Mario, however, couldn’t hold back his laughter anymore, the vaudeville act the two were unintentionally performing too much for the man to bear. This seemed to only make the situation worse, as Bowser’s green scales flushed in his chagrin. Luigi nearly fell backwards as the king was back on his feet, stomping his way towards his rival.

“Find something FUNNY, runt?!”

“Yeah, actually.” Mario retorted, not threatened in the slightest. Polterpup seemed to understand the nature of the act of aggression, as the canine casper ghosted through Bowser’s legs and growled softly as he stood next to his other human. Mario gently pat his head as he seemed to grow smug, eyes twinkling with amusement as he dared to make things worse.“You know, all o’ dis time I was a-thinkin’ you were a piantagrane ‘cause-a you liked it. Now-a I’mma startin’ t’think you’re jus’ a big clumsy koopa. ‘Spretty funny.

Luigi could only watch in horror as the two squared up, Bowser’s fists shaking at his sides as smoke started to come out of his nostrils.

You better be GLAD you’re Luigi’s brother , and me n’ him are pals now,” the king growled, now lowering himself so as to be in Mario’s face. “‘Cause otherwise you’d be murderized fer DARING t’talk to me like that!”

“Bigga words coming from-a couch squisher.” Mario shrugged, not at all feeling the tension, even as Luigi was shaking. “But you’re-a right, I tolda Weegee I’mma gonna play nice. So, I forgive you Bowser.

“You…. Forgive. ME?!

That of course had been the worst thing to say to the King– having insulted a royal guest. Eyes aflame, it was easy to tell that all resolve Bowser had was quickly being torn down by every verbal punch. If somebody didn’t DO something, the Mario household was going to have far more important things breaking than the furniture: like spines and skulls .

Luckily, Luigi found himself to be a decent mediator under stress. Luigi clapped his hands to distract the two rivals and get their attention.

SAY , I just-a had-a good idea! ” The younger Italian’s voice cracked as he raised it far louder than he was used to. He was frantically sweating as he essentially squeezed himself between the two, getting them to back off from each other. Thank the stars it seemed to work! Luigi took this as encouragement to continue, as he turned towards Bowser.

È una bellissima giornata. Eh, it’s too nice-a of-a day t’be cooped up inside. Stuffy in here, no?” To be fair, that was mostly from the tension alone. Luigi let out a sigh, allowing a more encouraging smile to grace his face. “How-a ‘bout we have a nice-a picnic outside. You came-a to see-a mio giardino anyhow, si? Let’s-a have lunch surrounded by pretty flowers- whaddya say?”

The Koopa was silent, the Italian could tell Bowser’s eyes were still locked on Mario in his peripherals. The king’s tail seemed to sway impatiently, nostrils flaring as he breathed. In what felt like years to the poor anxious human, even though he knew only seconds had to have passed, Bowser relieved the heavy mood with a ‘tshh’ of the mouth– turning his head away from both Mario Brothers.

“Alright. That doesn’t sound too bad.” The draconic turtle made a point of glaring at his rival, still sizing him up. “But ONLY if it’s the two of us.”

Mario opened his mouth, seemingly an argumentative retort at the ready, when Luigi cut him off.

Si, of course! No stinky brothers allowed. ” This was said with an airy nature, even as he gently put a hand on the older Italian to move him out from the door frame. Luigi walked out first, leading the way back into the hallway, as he motioned towards the kitchen where wide glass double doors showed greenery upon the other side. “Prego, I’mma gonna get us a blanket and snacks. You go and enjoy the view, okay?”

Bowser didn’t need to be told twice. He even made a point of ignoring the older plumber as he stomped out of the room, having to duck to get under the door frames and soon was outside altogether. Luigi felt himself deflating as it was finally just him and his brother, momentarily watching as the koopa seemed to notice the vegetable garden to the instant right of the house– no doubt squinting to read the labels. It was an endearing sight, all things considered, and in complete contrast to the previous mood.

Unfortunately, Mario had to go and ruin that by opening his mouth.

“You-a really know-a how t’pick ‘em, Weegee. Don’t see why I gotta stay in here n’ clean up after the koopa’s mess while HE gets to eat crostate …”

Luigi snapped his head in the direction of his brother, rage boiling up inside of him as he could feel his brows hurt from his intense glare. Mario had some nerve, after what he’d done! Luigi unleashed his anger, like a bottle of gasoline to a flame. Italian erupted forth at a rambling speed.

You embarrassed him! You promised you’d be NICE , and you embarrassed the both of us over making a scene!

I made a scene? ” Mario retorted back in their native tongue, flabbergasted. “ The koopa wrecks the living room, but I’M making a scene. It’s not like I laughed at him on purpose. You got eyes, he looked ridiculous! What, was I supposed to just keep quiet about all that?

YES !” Luigi shouted, back to English as he simply couldn’t believe how his brother could legitimately not understand what he’d done. “He’s a guest in-a our home– a KING we have a treaty with– n’ you-a went and hurt-a his feelings . NEVER in a million years would-a you EVER acted out like that to-a da princess!”

Mario did a double take, looking like Luigi had just sprouted a second head.

“Of course not. That’s-a because Peach is our friend.”

And Bowser is MY friend too!

The younger Italian couldn’t do this anymore, shaking from both his own hurt as well as anger. Taking a deep breath and refusing to shed tears, Luigi pushed past his brother towards the closet in the living room– where he knew a basket and blanket would be waiting for him.

“I’mma not gonna argue this anymore with you. Bowser is-a waiting. I’mma gonna salvage this n’ have-a good time with my friend .

The latter part was hissed through his teeth, and soon he was out of the closet and quickly barging his way into the kitchen to retrieve the waiting tarts in the fridge. The large silver tray was set to the side as he grabbed a pitcher of iced tea and a few sandwiches he had prepared to accompany the treats, and nestled those safely in the basket with the checkered blanket. Luigi could feel Mario’s eyes on him, burning through him. He was just about to stuff the whole tray into the basket with everything else, when a thought occurred to him. With a sigh Luigi grabbed another plate from a kitchen cabinet, putting three torta della nonna to the side– leaving them on the counter.

Luigi whipped himself around once more to face his brother, the older man flinching from the unexpected turn of events.

“You getta ONE. The rest of the tarts are for Polterpup.”

Mario seemed even more confused by that, eyeing the plate and doing the math.

“Wait, how come-a Polterpup gets two?”

BECAUSE HE’S A GOOD BOY! ” Luigi shouted, being absolutely done with the conversation. And with that he picked up the basket and stormed outside into the sun– ready to get things back on track with the good day he had planned.

Leaving Mario alone to ponder what exactly had gone wrong.

Bowser, meanwhile, had at some point moved on from checking out tomatoes and squash to inspecting the flowers instead. His brows were furrowed as he inspected the thistles, a part of Luigi wondering if he was still miffed about what had happened inside. The Italian sighed, catching Bowser’s attention as Luigi showed the picnic basket as his offering.

“Mi scuso for keepin’ you waiting. Took a minute to getta da stuff packed.”

Bowser scoffed at this, tilting his head some as his red eyes did a quick survey of the human. Luigi was tempted to ask what was the matter, when the koopa beat him to the punch.

Here , let me handle the blanket. Imagine you’re spent after chewing your bro out.”

It was Luigi’s turn to be mortified, but he nonetheless took the red blanket out of the basket and handed it towards his friend. Bowser whipped the thing into the air, unraveling it in a great flourish.

“Ah, you heard that. Sorry.”

And Luigi meant it too. It wasn’t often he got angry at his brother, especially to the point of yelling, but it was more of a shame he had to go off in front of company. They were the Mario Bros, after all, the best siblings this side of the whole Mushroom Kingdom! They weren’t supposed to fight, and it felt wrong whenever such a case came up. Even back on Earth– when the two had to handle the stress of not knowing if they’d have enough for food AND to pay the bills– nothing seemed to put a wedge between the two.

Just a shame this of all things had to be a hurdle for the brothers to cross. Luigi couldn’t help but feel his mood plummet. Bowser, having already plopped down onto the blanket, seemed keen on not allowing for that to stand… mostly because he forced Luigi to sit down with him with a simple tug of the man’s arm.

“Hey, don’t you start with THAT again. I thought we already beat that ‘sorry ’ nonsense outta ya.”

He rolled his eyes, followed by a gruff grunt as he laid out the metaphorical cards in his hands.

.:Come Be Lonely With Me:. - DarkwingSnark (11)

“‘Sides, not like I knew what you guys were sayin’ , what with yer gibberish n’ all. Though, it sounded like you really let Mario have it.” The king broke out into a grin, canines slowly showing as his maw stretched– his turn for mischief. He let out a deep rumble of a laugh, stretching out on his side in a way Luigi couldn’t help but compare to a cat sizing up its competition. Bowser carried on, amusement evident. “Don’t think I’ve ever seen ya like THAT before. Ya got SPUNK when you’re angry! Where’s HE been? FEISTY! Keep that up an’ we’ll make a real koopa outta ya yet!

If Luigi’s face flushed from more than his bashfulness, he wasn’t in the mood to unpack any of the additional reasons why Bowser’s words made his heart stutter in his chest. Instead, the plumber decided it was best to distract himself by digging into the basket, handing off a cling film wrapped Italian sub to the koopa.

Troppo piccante per me. Eh, too spicy.” Luigi shook his head pitifully, feeling sorry he had to break the news on whatever cool points he had received. “Being angry makes me tired, n’ it’s-a hard to keep up in fights. Lose steam too fast.

Bowser scoffed at this, claw running down the length of his sandwich rather than going through the trouble of delicately unspooling the thing from its prison like the plumber was. He took a bite, not letting eating get in the way of having his opinions known.

Shame. We koopas are all about passion. Love, anger, learnin’. If yer gonna feel somethin’, ya gotta charge at it full force. Not let NOBODY stand in the way of whatcha want!”

Luigi smiled, having noted that tendency in Bowser and his children. It didn’t surprise the man in the slightest that their society would function in such a brazen fashion. Luigi shook his head, reaching in for a pitcher of watermelon sweet tea. This was followed by two pint glasses– the largest cups the Mario Brothers owned. It was still pretty small as most things were for the King, but Bowser at least seemed to perk up from the intense crimson color of the drink– sitting up slightly to drink it. Luigi sighed as he carried on where they left off in the conversation.

“My passion’s not so fiery. More like a simmer.” He gave a sheepish shrug. “‘Sides, what I want… Non posso costringere le persone a cambiare. Can’t force mio fratellone to let it all be water under the bridge. Mario, he… he’ll come around. I gotta believe he’ll warm uppa to us bein’ friends in no time.”

Bowser no doubt had his own opinions on that matter, if the way he scrunched his face was any indicator. Still, after allowing himself to swallow down the rest of his sandwich with a gulp of tea, the koopa gave a sigh of his own.

I guess there ain’t nothin’ wrong with dreamin’ big. As long as he keeps outta my business, I won’t find no reason t’set the shrimp on fire.”

It was the best the king could really do, and Luigi appreciated hearing it all the same. Luigi passed along a cream tart to Bowser, another peace offering as he decided to change the subject.

“Dove sono le mie buone maniere? My manners. You didn’t come all this way t’hear me complain about my brother–”

I don’t mind, ” Bowser grumbled [having no issue with roasting Mario, no doubt], interrupting the plumber. Luigi noted the similarity to that habit with his brother, but otherwise went on.

Prego , tell me about your week. Not every day I getta t’hear the going-ons with a king. Sounds busy.”

Bowser huffed at that.

“C’mon, you can’t seriously wanna hear me talk shop? That stuff’s flarpin’ boring!” The eager expression on Luigi’s face told him that was very much what he wanted, causing the koopa to nearly roll his eyes to the back of his skull.

“Grod, I always forget what a NERD you are. Alright, FINE. You heard we were movin’ troops around, and that’s ‘cause we’re tryin’ not t’have to let anybody go as we switch gears on budget planning. Don’t got much need fer soldiers right now—” the current peace treaty with the Mushroom Kingdom not needing to be mentioned, and the nod of the man’s head showed he understood. Bowser continued, stuffing the tart into his mouth– crumbs sputtering as he talked with his mouth full. “So we’re setting those guys on farm duty. Heard somethin’ was out in the rice fields messin’ with both the crop and cheep cheeps farmed out there. Figured to nip it in the bud before it ACTUALLY starts bein’ a problem n’ we end up with a shortage.”

All of this was said with the airs of annoyance, the king showing his stance on the matter. Important, but otherwise a dull day of mundania. Luigi whistled in sympathy.

“Sounds real importante. Dunno how you do it: I’d be all a-shakes from being scared I was-a gonna mess it all up!”

“That’s ‘cause you’re thinkin’ ‘bout it too much, Greenie. It ain’t that big o’va deal.

The plumber found himself disagreeing with that, considering the fact he and his brother grew up on the poor side of things– their genitori, bless their souls, having gone without meals just to make sure their children had full bellies. Bowser, perhaps sensing that train of thought, elaborated.

“What I MEAN , is that either the plan works or it don’t . And if it don’t, we’ll jus’ try something else.” He sat up, using his hands to gesture with violent flicks of the wrists back and forth. “Wild magic junk? We send the magikoopas. Germs? Ya send a pointdexter to doctor the crap outta it. And if we get t’the point we ain’t got no more ideas, then we’ll find somebody who DOES.”

Luigi was picking up on the king’s meaning, eyes opening wide in understanding.

“Like asking another kingdom for help, maybe?”

“If we gotta, yeah. Or jus’ kidnap somebody into doing the dang job.” Bowser shrugged, still not really seeing much of a problem with the latter solution. But Luigi supposed he couldn’t expect a hyena to change its spots overnight, nor a Koopa King to drop people-snatching at the drop of a hat. The king went on, still showing his boredom on the subject. “But we ain’t there yet, we’re still on plan A. So no reason t’go breakin’ out the squad t’cause trouble fer Peach until then.”

It was then an amusing thought must have struck the draconic turtle, as his grin inched its way into view.

“Though, might start considerin’ gettin’ back into old habits jus’ t’get the princess off my shell. She apparently been houndin’ Kamek into gettin’ an audience wit’ me t’try n’ expand on the temp-treaty. Talks ‘bout opening trade n’ borders for travel. Been havin’ the old man put her steward on hold n’ leavin’ him there. Surprised Peachie ain’t complained about it yet.

Admittedly, this was the first Luigi was hearing about how much of a wringer Bowser was putting the Mushroom Kingdom through. Most of what he’d heard was that the princess had made inquiries about finalizing an agreement. Luigi couldn’t help the sympathetic wince he gave on Toadsworth’s behalf, imagining him listening to the koopa equivalent of elevator music before the line cutting dead.

The plumber delicately did his part to explain what he thought wasn’t disclosing royal secrets.

“The princess… she only say she’s-a lookin’ forward t’bein’ better acquainted. She n’ Mario don’t really talk ‘bout work all so much, more…” The Italian took a sip from his tea, not exactly sure he should tell his friend about how the two practically go goo goo eyes during their visits. Luigi cleared his throat and tried again. “ Sono amichevoli – they are friendly with each other, is what I’ll say.”

I’ll bet ,” Bowser grumbled.

In the past what would have been perceived as an ominous threat, Luigi couldn’t help but see it more as the koopa pouting. It was no secret Bowser had a thing for Princess Peach, no matter how misguided his efforts were at courting her. The plumber could easily imagine what it must feel like to have to watch the woman the king was enamored with get sweet on another. Luckily for Luigi, none of his previous royal crushes had been heavily involved when he developed a bad case of puppy love. Unluckily, however, that just meant they didn’t want HIM that way whatsoever without any ulterior reasons besides the rejection. That at the end of the day Luigi wasn’t somebody others thought about in a romantic light. Being ‘just friends ’ started to leave a sour note after you heard it enough times, even if he was pleased with staying in touch with the likes of Princess Daisy. [ Prince Peasley couldn’t be as faulted for their emotional distance, the Bean Bean Kingdom being a lot farther away. ]

Great, now Luigi could feel himself pouting alongside Bowser. Neither did so well in the whole love department, so perhaps it was better to steer the conversation onto something the man was genuinely curious about.

“So why ARE you stringin’ da princess along, anyhow? Being on-a good terms don’t sound so bad to me.”

Politics. ” Bowser said casually, waving it off. “Can’t look too eager when it comes t’ negotiations and junk. Makes ya look desperate. And do I LOOK like some chump who’s desperate?” Luigi, thankfully, wasn’t cornered into answering as the koopa took the liberty for him. “ No. I’m not. We don’t need nothin’ from you guys, so best to let the mushroom folk sweat a lil’ and REALLY want in on the action.”

It was then a devious fanged smirk twisted itself onto the turtle tyrant’s maw, as he leaned closer towards Luigi. Even with a foot or two between them, Luigi swore he could feel the warmth of volcanoes themselves emanating out from the koopa– Bowser’s breath giving the Italian goose pimples.

“Whaddya say, pal?” Bowser growled, sounding more like a purr on poor Luigi’s ears. “Y ou think ol’ King Koopa’s got it in him to win ‘em over into giving into MY demands?

Luigi swallowed, mouth suddenly feeling a lot dryer than it did before. He took another drink of his watermelon tea, more so to give himself a moment of pause. In the end, his voice still cracked as he squeaked out a nervous:

“W-what… whatta are you even tryin’ t’bargain for? From whatta you said, the Darklands seem t’be doing okee dokee as is.”

And just like that, whatever spell had fallen between the two was broken. Bowser huffed indignantly, withdrawing himself as he crossed his arms against his chest.

I dunno . Hadn’t really thought about it.” Now THIS shocked Luigi, causing him to drop his jaw at the fact the king was going through all the trouble just for the sake of it. The human’s feelings must have been evident, as it was Bowser’s turn to get flustered. “ Don’t look at me like that! It’s the PRINCIPLE of it! Ya gotta give yourself time t’figure out whatcha want, n’ I got stuff goin’ on about I care more right now anyway. I’ll get things settled on MY time!”

In a way, that was fair. Especially if there were no obvious benefits for the Darklands to jump in on the agreements. Luigi had to concede to this fact, even if he could easily imagine Peach worrying about getting the silent treatment. At the end of the day the plumber knew next to nothing on what was needed for running a kingdom, and for all he knew maybe this was something taken right out of the pages of Sun Tzu’s book when it came to negotiations.

"Io do, io do, ” Luigi merely shook his head, smiling at the ridiculousness of it all. “I’ll-a trust ya know what you’re doing, Bowser. Anche se penso che sia mettere il carro davanti ai buoi.

The last bit was more said under his breath, not that the koopa understood he was being teased anyhow. Bowser, who had taken it on himself to dig into the basket for another tart, merely glared.

“What was that last bit, string bean?”

Nothing, ” Luigi chirped. He laughed awkwardly, doing nothing to take the suspicions off himself. The Italian cleared his throat, deciding to drop the subject by more amicable means. “Enough about work, let’s-a talk about famiglia : how did the bambini take t’ hearing papa was visiting good ol’ Weegee without ‘em?”

That ended up being the social cheat code, as it was Bowser’s turn to chuckle as his expression melted into something soft– though equally wily.

“Wouldja believe I told ‘em I was goin’ out on business? They got no idea.”

Bowser! ” Luigi laughed, the scandal far too much to bear. Bowser joined him, both the grown ups feeling as though they were accidentally playing into the idea of some solicited affair being kept from the children.

“Oh, shut it wouldja? What they don’t know won't hurt ‘em. ” The king stretched out, the tip of his tail flicking in chaotic excited energy, as he continued. “‘Sides, you don’t want those brats coming here. What *I* did to the place was an accident, what THEY would’ve done would’ve been entirely on purpose .”

“That-a sounds-a like there’s a story behind them words,” Luigi cooed, making himself comfortable. Bowser scoffed.

“You don’t know the half of it!”

Thus began the tale of the koopalings and their wanton reckless abandon. Luigi absentmindedly took in the scene of his friend laying amongst the flowers, a plume thistle gently swaying in the breeze just a hairs away from the king. Bowser gave another boisterous laugh as he got to the parts of the tale when Kamek had been dragged onto the scene, the koopa’s gruff tones alluding nothing but fondness for his family. Luigi didn’t even try to hide the dreamy sigh that left his lips, curling onto his side as one thought alone stood out among the sea of peaceful giddiness:

He hoped there were many more days like this to come.

Chapter 4: There's Nothing Wrong With Vilifying the Bad Guy!


Mario sits and stews over his earlier exchange with his brother, being a total creep from the kitchen window. Change is hard to grasp sometimes, and Mario's stubbornness is having him fight along the way.


The sensible title would have been 'The Voice of Reason'. But at the last second the one I'm currently using came to me and had me laughing, so I went with that instead. It was equally fitting in the end, so it's gucci.

And a shout out to my wife for having to listen to me talk about all the weird things I've learned while making this series, as well as for helping giving it a read before posting. Say 'Thank you Moonie' in the comments, as she deserves all the praise.

Chapter Text

.:Come Be Lonely With Me:. - DarkwingSnark (12)

Mario knew he wasn’t the brightest of the Mario Brothers. In that regard he considered his baby brother the savant: Luigi having a talent for picking up an array of interests that he read about, being able to drop the most random of facts. Mario could still remember a time back in Brooklyn when they had been on a job– fixing a repeat customer named Mrs. Colombo [ widowed, children scattered across the states ]– where fixing a leaky pipe had inspired Weegee to ramble on about something he read about sea sponges. It was endearing just as much as it was something to tease the younger man about. At least until ‘Sponge Boy’ ran its course or Luigi found a new interest to spark his growing need to learn about the world around him. The fact he could keep anything like that filed within his head had always been impressive, especially as Mario was more likely than not to forget anything that didn’t have immediate relevance to their line of work.

Yet, where Mario struggled in that regard he always considered himself the better equipped of the two in regards to reading others. Street smarts, as he would later pick up on the American terminology, definitely fit him. Perhaps it came with being the older brother, but there had been something firmly planted into him as a teen when he remembered picking up his baby brother from his elementary school just to see lil’ Weegee unaware of the other children blatantly insulting him to his face– Luigi being none the wiser as he thought these kids were his friends. Things came to a head when the bullying became bad enough that Luigi’s oblivious optimism could no longer deny what was before him. It had been utterly heartbreaking, the eight-year old crying his soul out onto momma’s lap as if the world had betrayed him.

Mario vowed to never see Luigi so broken again. So if Mario was a little overprotective of his brother, it came with the territory. Being swept off to a magical world with all sorts of dangerous creatures didn’t exactly help matters, either. Why SHOULDN’T he be vigilant? The stakes had changed, the goal posts of safety moved. If he had to be this world’s hero in order to give his brother the cushiest, safest life possible… Well, was that really so terrible? Life had proven time and time again that there was always a threat around the corner. That there was something that needed to be fixed or challenged. Nothing changed because everything was routine, and all he could hope to do was be a face of comfort as Mario ran off to save the day.

And yet… As the man watched his brother and his guest from the kitchen window of his home, he was beginning to have his doubts on the nature of the universe. Mario watched silently at the picturesque scene of the human and koopa sharing a picnic in the garden, laughing as both stretched out on the red checkered blanket. It was… frankly quite shocking seeing Bowser so casual, splayed out so as it brought the two closer to eye level. In a way his own defenses were readily down, as Mario knew for a fact getting up off the ground wasn’t easy for the koopa– what with the task of maneuvering with his shell and all. It was a state of vulnerability– a devil-may-care attitude that shouldn’t be there when in the home of the guy that had easily kicked his shell all across the known realms of this world.

It just make-a no sense ,” the Italian mumbled under his breath, hands gripping the counter subconsciously. He was supposed to be letting Luigi take the reins on this impulsive friendship of theirs, and had even promised to be on better terms with the king. Mario knew his brother had a whole afternoon planned, and even extended the invitation to allow the older Italian to sit in ‘and get to know Bowser better ’. This was enough to make him scoff. Before the whole furniture smashing event, that had been Mario’s intent . Who was HE to turn down Luigi openly inviting him to keep an eye on the troublesome koopa? Free snacks, at least half the company being enjoyable, AND being able to pounce should anything happen at the drop of the hat? Triple wins all around!

That is, until things turned for the worse and now Mario was stuck in the kitchen watching the exchange from the outside looking in. [ Or was that ‘inside looking out’, considering their physical locations? Eh, he’d let the brainy types figure it out. ]

Mario found himself startled from these musings by the sensation of a cold undead snout to his hand, a quick look down at waist-level showing the concerned face of Polterpup. Say what you wanted about the energetic spirit, but the ghost was notably adept at picking up the moods of others. The slight whine given was enough to make Mario break from his thoughts, gently allowing his hand to phase through the head of the pup.

“Aww, doggy. No need-a to be so worried. I’mma just thinkin’, is all. Lots on-a my plate, attualmente .”

Speaking of plates… It was with a glance to the side that Mario remembered his brother’s ridiculous insistence on Polterpup getting treats- the kitchen table in view. It was with a huff that the man decided perhaps he could leave Bowser Watch to itself as he and the ghost took a break.

“Ey, hows-a ‘boutta quick snackie, yes?”

The cutesy baby talk slipped easily out of the plumber, which only in hindsight did he ever feel embarrassed about. [Especially as the first time it came to the man’s attention was from Daisy’s playful ribbings.] Besides , such concerns were quick to slip away over seeing the eagerness from the pup– suddenly having the metaphorical life brought back to him as he began to bark and pounce about. Mario couldn’t help the chuckle that escaped him as he made his way towards the table, carefully maneuvering through the ghost that was intent on phasing through his legs.

Attento, cagnolino, ” Mario chided, “they’re not going anywhere.”

Polterpup didn’t seem to believe him, as the dog began to jump and hover into the air– making himself closer to the plated treats. Seeing it as a losing battle, the man simply rolled his eyes and threw one of the tarts into the air for the ghost to catch. The dog noisily smacked its maw as crumbs and fillings plopped to the floor– Polterpup diving straight downwards to lick up all he had missed. Mario shook his head.

Una vergogna. At least savor la torta della nonna!”

It was then that the plumber plopped into a seat, sighing as he grabbed his own meager tart before it could get claimed by the ravenous dog’s hunger. He watched the casper canine’s antics for a moment longer before his gaze couldn’t help but make their way towards the glass doors– back onto the scene outside. Mario’s brows quirked in intrigue as Luigi was leaning around Bowser’s horns, plucking one of the weeds he had recently added to the yard and handing it towards the koopa. It was enough for Bowser to sit up, showing the older Mario Brother his own confused look as he mumbled something or another– looking between the thistle and Luigi. The koopa seemed to grow more amused by the second, lips stretching to reveal sharp fangs before bursting out into roaring laughter– one that even Mario could hear muffled through the doors. He could see Luigi seemed flustered by whatever was said, only calming down once Bowser ruffled his head– putting the flower to his snout and giving it a small sniff.

If it had been anyone else but the turtle tyrant who had kidnapped the fair princess of the Mushroom Kingdom on numerous occasions, Mario would have said the sight of it all was… charming .

“Am I a-missing somethin’ here?” The plumber sighed, his bewilderment evident. It was one thing for Luigi to attempt using friendship to sway the beast onto some sort of redemption arc, but it was hard to comprehend why Bowser would let him . What was he getting out of this exchange exactly? At the end of the day, Mario couldn’t imagine what sort of use he’d get out of Luigi talking about his hobbies or what the two brothers were like as children back on Earth. And Mario didn’t exactly have many weaknesses, unless the koopa had some sort of weird scheme to use his acid reflux against him. It was enough of a notion to make the man smirk as he took another bite of his cream tart, imagining the koopa attempting to put him down once and for all with a bowl of fireflower chili.

It was then the Italian couldn’t help but recall his conversation with the royal mushroom cousins, and their insistence that Bowser was just a lonely guy. That still felt hard to believe, even if it made more sense than stomach sabotage. He was a king, surrounded by troops and servants– all sorts of yes-men to entertain him. How was it possible to be lonely when you had money, power, and endless subjects at your beck and call? It just seemed unfathomable.

Then again, Mario was also coming at this as someone who had a knack for garnering attention. He used to find Luigi’s own complaints on the subject a real head scratcher back in the day, too. If you were bored and wanted company, you just went up to somebody and had a friendly chat– simple as that! Not that he would personally want to talk to Bowser if he came up to HIM on the street. He and the koopa had history, and that was part of the problem. Nobody wanted to get to know the same guy that had time and time again gone through the kingdoms and left his mark– the Koopa King’s cruelty stained upon the lands. And you know what? Mario didn’t blame them! There was a saying on Earth: you made your bed, and now you must lie in it . And boy, did the koopa leave himself with a miserable bed! Who would want to attempt to crawl into THAT mess with him?

Except, now that Mario thought about it… Wasn’t that what his brother was attempting to do? [Not the getting into bed metaphor, scratch that part out completely. Does not apply. ] No, despite all the trouble Bowser had been in the past, Luigi was willing to go the extra mile and give the king a second chance. A fresh slate to start anew.

Mario could feel the weight of that thought hitting the pit of his stomach, as Luigi’s words from earlier struck him: “And Bowser is MY friend too!” Such heated words shouted with conviction unlike anything the older Italian had heard from him before. He would have been blind to miss the way his brother’s eyes glistened from his words– no, from his hurt over Mario’s inability to understand. But it wasn’t like he wasn’t trying! He let Luigi have his space to greet the guy, and all he said were a couple of jokes. What, was he NOT supposed to find Bowser breaking his furniture funny? He could have been mad, started yelling then and there. But Mario hadn’t. He teased the big fella instead. There wasn't anything wrong with teasing– he teased people all the time! What was the big deal?

He’s a guest in-a our home [...] n’ you-a went and hurt-a his feelings.”

Boo hoo, let him take a hanky out for Bowser and shed some of the biggest fattest tears. If Mario really wanted to make a stink about it, he could have brought up all the times Bowser had hurt HIM. Physically! Sure , Doctor Toad fixed him up real good, but it had still hurt. So, it was with a sneer, the plumber thought the koopa could live with Mario merely pointing out that the guy broke a few things. Mario was ready to start listing every single complaint the king had wrought on him and those he cared about, when Luigi’s own words interrupted him again.

“You promised you’d be NICE , and you embarrassed the both of us over making a scene!”

All anger instantly vanished, like suffocating a flame. Dread sunk in as the man began to realize that… this was never really about Bowser, was it? As upset as Mario could get with the overgrown turtle, it wasn’t about what Bowser had done. This was about what Mario had done to his brother. Here he had promised to be in Luigi’s corner, support him and try to get along with his ‘friend’… and instead Mario had taken any excuse he could to spit venom. His baby bro was right, if it had been anyone else over for a visit Mario too would have been reassuring them that breaking the couch was an accident. That it was their own fault for not having something sturdy enough to prevent the guest from getting hurt.

Bowser wasn’t the one to ruin things, it was he who was to blame .

I think-a I really messed things up ,” Mario finally said aloud, getting the attention of the ghost dog who had decided to retrieve both his second tart and the one left unfinished in the human’s hands. Mario pushed himself from the table, Polterpup merely barking as he jumped off and followed him. The Italian stopped in the doorway, giving one final look outside to see the brilliant smile of his brother as he playfully slapped the arm of the koopa.

No, Mario might have messed things up. But he was a handyman. And there was only one thing a handyman could do in a time like this.

“C’mon, doggy, let’s-a go fix things. For Weegee.”

It was with a final flourish that Mario set down his pencil, wiping sweat off of his brow. The light from his workbench had been beating down on him for hours, the heat barely a thought as the man had been diligent with his planning. Blue eyes scrutinized the blueprints he had drafted, the rest of the table littered with crumpled up designs that didn’t meet his perfectionist nature. A quick look at the floor had shown that perhaps he had gone a bit wild with his frenzy, Mario slightly wincing imagining his younger brother’s scolding at the mess of papers. He made a note to take care of it before bed, as it wasn’t his top priority at the moment. After all…

“I think-a I finally got something.”

This was said more to himself than anyone else, as Polterpup had long since abandoned his vigilance to take a nap on the older Italian’s bed. A fitting turn of events, Mario supposed, as it wasn’t like the ghost could do more than bark or tilt its head every time the carpenter showed off a design. A quick glance across the open space of the bedroom showed that the sun was beginning to set, far later than Mario had thought it was. He winced as the man rose from his chair, he stretched until his spine popped– shaking off the pain as he was excited to show Luigi what he had been working on.

Did he say ‘excited’? Oh no, if anything he was gut wrenchingly nervous. It wasn’t every day Mario faced his fratellino’s ire, and doubly so with the fact the situation was so out of his element in regards to being about Bowser. Yet, Mario wasn’t exactly known for waiting around and letting trouble fester. Thus, it was with a sigh that the man rolled up his prints and turned off the light on his desk– prepared to head downstairs and face the music.

“I jus’a hope Weegee isn’t too steamed still…”

A casual walk down the stairs became a hesitant sneak as the eldest Mario could still hear his brother talking– it was only at the bottom of the stairs did the man realize that Luigi was standing in the doorway of their home, no doubt Bowser on the other side. Slowly peeking around the staircase, feeling more like he was on one of his rescue missions than comfortably inside his own home, Mario carefully watched as his brother was aglow with joy. Luigi rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly, as he carried on his conversation with Bowser.

“You know, I don’t know-a whatta your schedule is like, but you should come again sometime. Wouldn’t mind havin’ someone else besides mio fratellone t’spoil for a change. He already knows my tricks, n’ then some.

Mario could hear the koopa’s deep growl of a laugh, a sound not familiar to the Italian outside of his interactions with his family. One that spoke of a genuine soft nature.

“What, you invitin’ me back already? Haven’t even LEFT yet.”

Si, but only if you’d like. I… know we’re not really come si dice , how you say: accommodating with the seats, but…”

Bowser scoffed at this, for a slight moment Mario was able to see the flick of a thistle from the doorway– the koopa no doubt still having it after their earlier adventure.

“You still thinkin’ bout that? Geeze , Lou, let it go already. ” There was a shuffle against the house, sounding like Bowser had just leaned. The koopa carried on. “Hate to agree with your annoying brother, but I DID pretty much demolish your place. You should be worried I’m gonna set out to ruin yer cute lil’ dining room next, or somethin’ else DUMB like that .”

“No,” Luigi shook his head, a small smile on his face. “I’m not so worried. You’re not so mean as-a you like-a people to think.”

SHHH , not so loud! You tryin’ t’ruin my reputation or somethin’?”

Mario pulled himself away from the scene as the two laughed at their own exchange, the elder brother gently resting his head against the wall as he waited the two out. Guilt ebbed its way through him, wrapping its tendrils around his heart and giving it a squeeze for good measure. Alright, so maybe if he had actually taken the time to listen to those two, he’d see how well they had been hitting it off all this time. Mario never claimed to be the smartest or most observant guy around for a reason– and a lot of that had to do with his own stubborn nature. He sighed as he listened to Luigi demand Bowser send him a text when he safely arrived back to the Dark Lands, and waited for the door to close before sneaking a bit back up the stairs and making a point of noisily stomping down the stairs.

“Oh, Mario, yello’.” Well, Luigi certainly looked like he was in better spirits. Though Mario felt himself treading carefully all the same. Luigi carried on, none the wiser, as he started walking towards the kitchen. “You eat dinner yet?” He asked, picking up the plate where the tarts once sat and bringing it over towards the sink.

It was Mario’s turn to sheepishly rub the back of his neck with a free hand, looking up at the ceiling– the old stain of tomato sauce still stuck there after all these years, an easy spot to land on and inadvertently avoiding his baby brother’s gaze.

“Ah. No , actually. I’ve-a been a lil’ busy the past few hours.

Before Luigi could scold him for his nasty habit of avoiding his baser needs, Mario thrusted his draft notes forward– stretched out for his brother to take. Luigi, naturally confused, merely scrunched up his brows as he slowly began unrolling it.

“Eh, what’s this?”

Here was the part Mario wasn’t looking forward to, as he swallowed down his awkward hesitancy and charged forward.

“They’re blueprints. I was-a thinkin’ thatta the best way to support weight mighta be goin’ the route of metal frame inlays. They make-a da furniture extra sturdy, n’ shoulda solve il problema di wood splintering.” Luigi seemed to just look at the prints confused, while Mario made his way around his brother and pointed at the page. “See? An’ I would need-a lotta ply, but iffa I cut it at an angle, I shoulda be able t’curve the backing like so…”

The illustration in question showed a dome of sorts, looking like an egg with its top cut off. It was at this point Luigi seemed to catch on to what Mario was implying, doing a double take as he looked at his carpenter brother.

This is a chair for Bowser. ” Not a question: a matter of fact. Mario only shrugged it off, playing coy.

“Well, he’s-a the only guy we know with a shell that’s coming here, ain’t he? Iffa I’mma gonna go through all the trouble n’ make-a dat koopa a chair, might as well fit ALL of ‘im.” The look of surprise he received was icing on the cake, as Mario stared outside the double glass doors, continuing his plotting. “We might also wanna adda patio out there, iffin’ ya think it won’t mess with yer fiorellini . Gotta have a place t’have yer guests see your garden, no? Table, couple of chairs, should look nice out there.

Mario was prepared to keep up his act all night if he had to, ready to act like the whole idea was simply for aesthetics instead of a proper apology. But Lil’ Weegee, his smartie pants fratellino , could see right through it– his eyes watering as he threw his arms around Mario in an embrace. The tension the older man didn’t even realize he was carrying fell from him like padded weights, his own shoulders slumping as he was swallowed by the hug. Mario allowed himself to rub his face into scratchy denim overalls, mumbling out in Italian the words his heart had longed to say:

I’m sorry, Luigi.

Luigi, the perfect saint, only hugged the man tighter with no plans of letting up soon.

Chapter 5: Terms of Endearment


Bowser gets ready to see his bud Luigi again, having a blast teasing the easily embarrassed plumber. Everything was all fun and games until EMOTIONS got involved.

PS. Totally not a playdate.


(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

Stone walls echoed with mismatched footsteps: one pair lumbering with heavy thumps that sent vibrations throughout the structure, the other far lighter with its fast paced clicking. Bowser, however, paid neither any mind as he trudged down the halls, listing off demands as he made his way through his castle home.

“You got more of that anesthesia from the doc, right?” The King asked, his inquiry gruff with his barely concealed worry. “ You SAID everything was fine, yeah? If I gotta cancel plans to rough up some nerds for some solvent, I’ll do it.

Kamek, Bowser’s lifetime advisor and caretaker, merely sighed at this– having gone through similar bouts of paranoia in the past.

“Everything is under control, your Distraughtness. The healers have the situation handled. All Prince Junior requires is rest.” All manner of professionalism dropped as the advisor readjusted his glasses, Bowser noting the extra layer of exasperation on the koopa’s wrinkled face. He carried on with a huff. “You’d think after seven other children you’d be prepared for a simple matter of teething by now. It’s getting rather ridiculous.”

Bowser glared, stopping in his tracks to loom over the magikoopa- throwing his hands out in his own frustration.

“Oh, now you’re blaming me for CARING ABOUT MY SON? YOU weren’t the one who heard him screaming bloody murder , now WERE you?!”

Actually , I was. ” Kamek corrected, reminding his king that he had also rushed down the halls to check on the prince’s wails of agony. [Ugh, he hated that smug righteousness, sometimes.] “I’m sure half the castle was awake after hearing the master’s late night excursion to the kitchen.”

He said the ice cream was supposed to help…

“I’m sure he did , sire. Though I’m of the opinion it didn’t do much to help his already sensitive gums, if said screams were anything to go by.

Kamek had a way to him that made Bowser feel like a kid again, being scolded or talked down to when it came to certain matters. This was no exception, the koopa king feeling a headache coming on as he did his best to suppress his need to fight back. Kamek had a point: all the koopalings had grown their fangs with similar results– and each time Bowser had been ready to tear down kingdoms all for the sake of finding a remedy to their suffering. Over the top with his protective nature? Well, alright , MAYBE! But if being a good dad made him unreasonable, that was everybody else’s problem!

As if sensing this train of thought, Kamek was singing a different tune as he sighed softly– putting on a similar expression he used to wear when comforting the king as a kid.

“He’ll get through it. The prince, while dramatic, is highly resilient.” It was then that the old koopa mumbled under his breath. “ He’s too prone to mischief to be down for long.

Man, Bowser hoped so. The place just wasn’t the same without him and his brothers running around causing trouble for the staff. Call him a softie all you want, but the lack of childish giggling echoing throughout the halls was heartbreaking. It was with this thought in mind that Bowser kept trudging forward, back on track.

“Yeah, well, call me if things get worse. Weeg probably wouldn’t mind if I had to leave early.”

“‘ Weeg’ ?’ Kamek asked, brow raised as he did his best to keep up with his lordship’s wide waddles. “Isn’t that what Mario calls him?”

“What? No. Shuddup. ” It was completely different. A short and more powerful, BETTER nickname than anything Mario could give Luigi. Feeling his advisor’s gaze burning holes into him, Bowser puffed himself up taller as he quickly moved the conversation along.

“Okay, other brats: I don’t care if ya gotta drag him kickin’ n’ screamin’, but Iggy HAS to get outta the lab today. See the sun, touch some grass . ‘Cause otherwise people are gonna start believing that dumb rumor Lemmy’s spreadin’ about him being a vampire.”

Don’t get Bowser wrong, hilarious . Best prank , even. But things were taken too far once new recruits started avoiding going to the tower because they actually believed in blood sucking koopas. A mad scientist was one thing, but who the heck believed in dead guys walking around?!

[Bowser gave a slight nod to a Dry Bones soldier that passed them by, not at all catching onto the hypocrisy of that thought.]

Kamek, as always, was already a step ahead.

“Already been noted. As has a chaperone been personally assigned to escort her royal highness to her sleepover.”

This caught Bowser’s attention, curious over what sucker got roped into the job of hearing Wendy and her friends talk about boys and other gossip all night.

“Oh yeah? Who?

“Major Goomila, sire.”

Oh, they weren’t half bad ,’ the Koopa King couldn’t help but relent. Young enough to be seen as one of the gals so that Wendy wouldn’t be opposed to the assigned babysitter, but also pretty quick on her feet and able to defend should trouble hit the fan. Bowser grunted in satisfaction, checking that concern off his list.

“Alright. The rest of the boys should be fine then. Just make sure the cooks know to serve nikujaga tonight. It’s Morton’s turn to pick dinner, and you KNOW he’s gonna throw a fit if anybody forgets again.”

Good kid, just didn’t always realize he had his old man’s strength. Last time the chefs didn’t get the memo on serving the commoner food, his son made several holes in the wall as he went crying to his room. Didn’t need Morton making more shortcuts over beef and potatoes, that was for sure…

The hallways began to develop more traffic as the king and advisor were nearing the docking station– crew gathering supplies needed for the trip, while doing their best to give Bowser enough of a berth so as not to disturb him. His castle was like a well oiled machine, he couldn’t help but note, a lot of moving parts needed to keep things running. While impressive, it made him grateful Kamek was the one in charge of hiring the right soldiers to keep things afloat.

Speaking of which, Kamek had taken a short moment to get an update from the airship’s Shy Guy captain, returning his focus back onto his king to give Bowser the update as he had been totally NOT spacing out.

“Captain Try Guy informs me that they’re nearly prepared for take off, your Aloofness .”


Bowser sighed, eyes landing on his ship as a part of him couldn’t help the eagerness he felt over the idea of seeing his bud again. He could almost imagine it now: Luigi looking up at him with the same awe and pure joy that the human had trouble masking the first time he’d visited. It was enough to make the koopa preen at the thought of somebody being that happy to see him. It made Bowser want to head straight for his cabin and prompt his men to get the show on the road!

Unfortunately, he wasn’t just any average shmoe. Bowser was a king first and foremost, and with it came the obligation to make sure he wasn’t missing out on anything vital. So with a barely concealed groan Bowser rolled his head to look back down at his advisor, expression deadpanned.

“Anything else important I’m forgetting?”

“There’s the matter of the Toadstool Princess, if that’s of any importance to you. ” The way Kamek's shrill voice drawled on told the king the magikoopa certainly thought it should be important. Bowser rolled his eyes as Kamek carried on his nagging. “Sire, this is the third letter from the Mushroom Kingdom this month alone . Not to mention the phone calls. Perhaps you should at least consider scheduling a meeting to hear them out? You’ve always enjoyed Princess Peach rolling out the red carpet treatment in the past, and they’ve certainly put themselves in a position for an allowance of favors

Bowser couldn’t help but scoff at this.

“I said something IMPORTANT , Kamek. That’s not even CLOSE on my radar right now.”

A true sentiment. Outside of the usual duties as king and family obligations, most of his free time had been going towards planning his next hangout with Luigi. Not that he planned on saying that. It sounded weird when he said it out loud. After all, just a couple months prior Bowser would have been eating up the chance to have Peach throw herself all over him. Even if it was for something dumb like ‘ peace talks’ . He would have loved to go to her castle, have the princess act all sweet on him to try and butter him up to the idea. Put all her time and focus on him, while Mario fumed in the background as he had to watch– seeing as he was her personal bodyguard. Oh, it would have been hilarious – the universe serving him everything he wanted on a platter, maybe even giving Bowser the opportunity to offer a political marriage again! You know, on the behalf of the little people .

And yet… eh. He wasn’t really feeling it right now. And if Bowser was anything, he was a guy that chased after his own feelings.

“Peach has been wantin’ us t’play nice for DECADES now, she can wait another month or five ,” Bowser grumbled, waving off the concern. “‘ SIDES , what she got that we don’t have, anyway? We koopas got EVERYTHING !”

Kamek was instant with firing off a rebuttal, pulling out his clawed digits to list.

“Land, access to expanding our trade agreements towards the Beanbean Kingdom, political alliances, scientific advancements--”

Bowser groaned.

UGH , shuddit already, wouldja? Sorry I asked!” Feeling quite finished with all the nerd talk and feeling like his NOT dad was trying to tell him what he should be doing with his time again, Bowser started stomping off towards the deck of his ship– the whistle of his approach instantly firing off to let the crew know to get into position. Bowser ignored all of this, throwing a glare over his shoulder towards Kamek for the heck of it. “You’re in charge, Kamek. Don’t do anything TOO stupid while I’m gone.”

Wouldn’t dream of it.

Short and to the point, but heavy on the sarcasm. If Bowser wasn’t ready to up and leave already he would have considered setting fire to the old koopa’s robes just for the sheer audacity of it all. Instead, another thought came to him as he finally made it towards the deck, the king shouting down towards his advisor.

OH! One more thing! Remind the gardeners to leave the thistles by the cheep-cheep ponds and moat alone. I’ve started t’like them. Brings color to the place.”

What he didn’t say was who had been the cause for this sudden change of heart. And Bowser hated that Kamek, despite being so far towards the ground, had that obvious annoying and knowing look on his face.

“Duly noted. You just focus on your playdate and leave things to me, sire.”


Whatever Kamek might have said in response was lost as the whistle blew again, Captain Try Guy shouting at the crew. The king decided to let it slide, rubbing his temples in annoyance as he started making his way towards the lower decks, and into his private quarters. On the way he stopped a goomba go-fer to fetch him some freshly brewed charcoal tea, and had nearly reached his cabin door when his shell vibrated– alerting him to a text. It was from Luigi, dumb little emojis and all.

.:Come Be Lonely With Me:. - DarkwingSnark (13)

Bowser didn’t even try to hide the soft smile that graced his lips, his endearment for this strange human safely tucked away within secure walls. Red eyes looked out the window of his cabin, a warmth spreading throughout him as he couldn’t wait to be with his friend once more.

A few cups of tea and many rounds of phone games later, the king of all koopas was informed that they had arrived at their destination. A quick glance out the porthole had confirmed this, even while squinting Bowser just making out the structure of the humans’ dainty little home. It was still a bit weird to see the place as the only house for miles– the humans having endless expanses of fields surrounding them at their disposal, and STILL they decided to keep their place compact. The King thought maybe it was a cultural or class difference, as the last time he’d been to the Metro Kingdom those humans had also liked stacking in tightly. Like fish packed together in a school for protection.

Bowser shook off this thought, deciding he didn’t care, as he instead dismissed the captain and stretched himself from his hammock. It wasn’t long before the king had made his way towards the bow side of the lower decks, the hull storing his clown car. The crew saluted upon the king’s arrival, causing him to grunt to get them to stand down. Respect was great and all, but sometimes the rigid formalities were more time consuming than they were worth.

It was once the koopa felt the roaring winds on his face, navigating his downwards trajectory as the Mario Brothers’ home came into view, that time slowed down. There Luigi was waiting for him by his picket fence once more, looking just as very much the picture of some doting wife waiting for their husband to return from war. The way the human’s eyes seemed to light up at the mere sight of him was equal parts flattering as it was amusing, and Bowser couldn’t help the chuckle that escaped him as Luigi remained waiting in place.

“What, no hug this time?” Bowser teased as he hopped out of his copter, expecting the man to take it as an invitation. The koopa was quick to realize this had been the wrong call as Luigi rubbed his sleeves awkwardly, face flushing vibrantly.

N-no? ” Luigi stammered, unconvincingly. It was enough for the king to pity the guy as he threw an arm around him, stealing an embrace for himself.

“You gotta lighten up a little Lou. Haven forgive ya tell a guy ya missed him or somethin’.” Bowser couldn’t help the grin that stretched onto his face, as he let a claw poke the human’s bulbous nose. “Go on, say it. Tell ol’ Bowser jus’ how much you’ve missed yer hunky pal.~”

The snort he received, while not expected, was a welcoming surprise. The caterpillar for a mustache on the human’s lip twitched in amusement, even as Greenie shook his head discouragingly.

Che cosa ho intenzione di fare con te? ” He garbled out, swatting the King’s chest plating in a reprimanding manner. [A funny thought on its own, as if Bowser was going to stop doing whatever he wanted.] Luigi continued, much more fondly: “ Of course you were missed, mio amico. But I’m notta gonna say all THAT . È imbarazzante!

Bowser sighed for dramatic effect, pulling himself away from his friend so he could lean on his car– the sudden weight shifting the bucket shaped vehicle slightly.

Ya wound me . I go through all the trouble of gettin’ my sorry shell out here, n’ you can’t even tell a guy that they’re a stud muffin? DISRESPECTFUL is what it is!”

He savored the groan thrown his way, reminded of the way his older kids would do the same whenever he took his dad jokes too far. Bowser chuckled evilly, even as he decided to play nice and put a pin in that for now.

BUT , depending on what this ‘surprise’ ya mentioned is, I MIGHT find it in my heart to forgive ya.”

And with that Bowser did what he did best, taking the lead as he made his way past the human and down the cobblestone path towards the house as if he owned the place. Admittedly, the koopa was surprised when the little guy ran to catch up, frantically cutting in front of him.

“Ah, scusi. But, I, um, I was-a thinkin’ we go straight to the garden? The surprise is-a thatta way.”

Bowser had a joke on the tip of his tongue about Luigi being worried about him breaking his stuff again, but ultimately decided it was for the best to keep that to himself. Otherwise the sorry sap was gonna go on apologizing again, despite the fact they already went over that it was FINE. Bowser had a guy send over money to replace the dang stuff anyway, so that whole transaction shoulda been way behind them by now. Yet the koopa wasn’t exactly keen on going through the whole spike suckin’ spectacle again just to get his girth through the door, so who was HE to tempt fate just to see the human squirm?

“Alright, Beanzilla, lead the way!”

Taking the side tour allowed the koopa to see more of what he had missed the last time he was there. A gate leading towards the garden, a hose neatly rolled up and tucked against the side of the house. The side fencing towards the back of the home was lined with more of that poofy flowered shrubbery, looking more like a furry critter than a bush. It reminded him of the piranha plant he had gifted Luigi, and that was enough to get Bowser talking again.

“Oh hey, I never asked. How’s the lil’ guy I gave ya last time doing?”

This had been the right call, as all nervousness instantly vanished as Luigi lit up over getting to talk about one of his flowers.

Fiorellini take-a some time to getta used to being replanted. Cambiamenti chimici e ambientali. ” Catching that he was speaking gibberish again, Luigi corrected himself. “Eh, very stressful. More so for chompy fiorellini , I’mma thinkin’. So I got Audrey tucked into bed, made her real snug, and-a I’mma hopin’ she don’t mind too much.”

Bowser had squinted at the name, taking far too long to catch on to who ‘Audrey’ was– weird time to be talking about some broad the koopa didn’t know in the middle of a sentence– when the realization hit him like a bullet bill to the face. Confusion turned to absolute delight.

“You NAMED the thing?” Oh, he’d never say it aloud, but the king’s face was beginning to hurt from smiling so much– snout scrunching as he was just barely holding back a laugh. “ You know that’s not really a thing, right? We don’t… They’re FLOWERS , Lou!”

The hilarity only grew as, instead of toppling in on himself from embarrassment, the human grew defensive– face and ears completely red all the while.

“Whatta ‘bout Petey Piranha? He has-a name!”

“That’s because he’s an actual guy. Pete SAYS stuff!” Sure, Bowser didn’t know what he was saying either . Literally just a bunch of blargles and mouth sounds. But the mutated freak was still a person at the end of the day.

Still, Bowser couldn’t help the roar of laughter that escaped him as the human began to pout at the mistreatment.

BWAHAHA! C’mon, Green ‘Stache, I don’t mean nothin’ by it! It’s cute.”

Reminded the king of when the twins were toddlers, when those two especially found it in them to give proper names to all the bugs they found in the castle courtyard. Iggy would go through the effort to think up names from stories he and Kamek would read to the kids at night, where Lemmy would settle on ‘ potato ’ and ‘ peanut butter ’. Dumb, really stupid to do because they were just bugs that would never know better.

But again, cute .

What Bowser didn’t expect was for Luigi to start sputtering over what he had said.

.:Come Be Lonely With Me:. - DarkwingSnark (14)

N-n-no! It’s NOT ! It’s-a only polite!” The human was hiding his face in his hands, his embarrassment levels hitting through the roof. [An impressive feat considering they were outside in the open.] Gibberish was even more nonsensical as the Mario Brother mumbled through his hands. “ Lei mostra le emozioni! She wiggles! Audrey’s a good plant girl!”

Honestly, Luigi wasn’t doing much to help his case. Especially if his argument boiled down to ‘ no, shut up ’. And while Bowser wasn’t going to mention that fact– out of his own sense of kindness towards the dork – he didn’t hold back on laughing either.

“Heh. Yeah man, whatever you say. You wanna name your flower, you do it. Like I’m gonna stop ya when it just PROVES what an awesome gift it was. Gonna have t’rub that in Kamek’s face later, ‘cause he was all like ‘ that’s a lotta responsibility to put on somebody outta nowhere ’. ”

The king mimicked Kamek’s tones, going as high pitched and shrill as his gruff voice could allow. Bowser scoffed afterwards, pumping up his chest pointing a clawed thumb at himself with pride.

“I’m so good at this whole gifting thing, I’m gonna invent a rad NEW title n’ everything! Jus’ call me the Head Honcho of Handouts! HA!

Please don’t make me say that.

“It’s alright, we’ll work our way up to it eventually.”

Oh, Bowser was having a great time teasing. Luigi just made it so EASY ! Chuckling, the King leaned past the human and opened the gate for him. Making a dramatic flourish as he squeezed on by– Luigi scrambling out of his way in the process.

“Now, just ‘cause I’m the EXPERT here don’t mean Game doesn’t recognize Game. Let me jus’ see what you got goin’ on, and I’ll praise accordingly.”

Haughty? Full of himself? Yeah, so what? Bowser was having a good time, and his excitement over what the plumber had planned was enough to make him charge forward without a care in the world. He was, however, stopped in his tracks when he noticed something was different.

“Oh, you renovated . Looks nice.”

It was true. While not exactly up to Bowser’s particular taste, there was charm to the new addition of a bricked patio. The soft earth tones contrasted the green of the grass and flora- a quick sweep of the place showing the piranha plant had been placed in its own patch of dirt near the patio. The thing was given two dog bowls– one filled with kibble that the thing was happily munching until it finally caught the presence of the king and plumber. The piranha plant stopped everything it was doing to wave and wiggle about wildly, chomping its maw in a way that seemed to scream ‘come hither!’

Bowser, a one track mind kinda guy, made his way closer–Luigi behind him but keeping his distance– and he couldn’t help the snort he gave at seeing the name ‘Audrey’ handwritten on the bowls.

“It certainly looks happy with its new setup.”

For the heck of it, playing into the weird headspace that the human was treating the flower as a pet, Bowser took a claw and gently rubbed it down the head of the thing. All chomping ceased as the piranha plant head butted the offered hand, soaking up the affection. A quick glance over the koopa’s shoulder showed Luigi still hanging back, nervously twiddling his fingers. Okay, so maybe he had gone too far with his jokes. Especially since the guy started looking expectantly at him, like he was ready to be judged some more.

“Look, sorry if I made you feel weird about this. I don’t really GET it, but kinda makes sense a guy with a garden hobby would be all ‘my babies’ with his flowers. It–,” Bowser instantly corrected himself, clearing his throat with a gruff cough. “ AUDREY seems to like you, so you ain’t got nothin’ to worry about.”

The king tended to think he was amazing at everything, including his ability to suck it up and apologize to the rare few he actually gave a crap about. But the look of wide eyed astonishment he received was enough to make the koopa feel like maybe he had messed up somehow. That was, until the plumber started verbally tripping over himself.

“What? N-no! It’s, it’s okay. Ero sciocco prima. Eh, acting silly before! I knew-a you were being silly too! It’s fine.”

Bowser squinted, scrutinizing the human to see if he was lying. Outside of the fact he was still poking his fingers together and avoiding eye contact, Luigi didn’t seem to be trying to do that whole ‘ polite sucking up his feelings ’ thing that he sometimes had a habit of doing.

Which only made things more confusing.

“Then why are you actin’ all…” Bowser waved a hand towards the human, indicating his general ‘you-ness’. Luigi blushed at this, stopping his nervous fidgeting as he hid his eyes under the brim of his hat. Bowser noted the slight bite of the human’s lip despite being hidden by his mustache, before Luigi worked up the courage to speak again.

“It’s just… Eh, you notice anything else ? Um, new about the yard, I mean?”

Taking the hint, Bowser lifted his head and did as instructed– eyes sweeping the yard. He did notice some patio furniture that looked new. Wooden like most everything else in the Mario home. A lot taller than the stuff inside the house. Looking a lot more like bar stools to match an equally higher up table. Curved backing, sturdy. Table was set with more snacks and drinks, and looked tasty enough, the koopa guessed.

It took far too long to realize that one chair was three times as large as the other. A normal sight for him back home had another layer of weirdness to it when he realized that he was standing in the middle of Luigi’s backyard. And with that his eyes opened wide, feeling like he had just been bulldozed by a truck from the whiplash of emotions. Bowser, as if not believing his eyes, swiftly made his way towards the furniture. He couldn’t help himself as he touched the chair, almost not believing it was real.

.:Come Be Lonely With Me:. - DarkwingSnark (15)

“This…” Bowser swallowed, looking over at Luigi who had been watching him all the while. Those eyes were still expectant, but they were fully locked on the king and king alone. Bowser tried talking again. “What is this? It… seems like a lot of trouble fer just one guy coming up in yer space. I didn’t mind sucking up sitting on the ground, it was kind of nice!”

Bowse was still swimming around in his confusion, not getting why somebody would literally change their own yard just for when he visited. Like, yeah, used to being treated like royalty– duh – be he didn’t ASK for the human to do this. He made no demands. He had enough sense not to force somebody to change their whole house just because he was large and they weren’t . Not like he planned to LIVE there!

It. Made. No. SENSE!

Luigi, however, just smiled up at him. As if the answer was simple.

“I minded. I… don’t know iffa you’d wanna be here ALL the time, we… we could-a hang somewhere else too, iffa you want! “ These words tumbled out from the plumber in a quick accession of reassurance. And just as quickly as the backpedaling had come, Luigi pushed onward. “But you’re my friend , Bowser. I wanna make mio amico feel wanted.” Bowser didn’t know what his face was doing, but he could tell he was staring. And that seemed to be too much for the human to handle, as he looked away, rubbing the back of his neck sheepishly. “I hope-a that’s…okay?”


The guy literally made a point of showing the koopa he wanted him in his life, he made the space for it. And he ASKS if that’s okay? Bowser scoffed, looking away from the human just to save face before he started being all weak and EMOTIONAL about the gift.

You know, a nice thing NOBODY had ever done for him before.

You’re ridiculous.

Not giving Luigi the opportunity to feel bad about the backwards compliment, the koopa made a point of pulling out HIS chair– the one literally MADE for him– and plopped down into it. The fact the thing didn’t even creak, feeling as solid as ever, only made him do a double take.

“Woah, it’s strong. ” The human did his research! Luigi, who had cautiously made his way closer towards the table, flinched as Bowser whipped his head towards him. “This is custom made! Don’t tell me ya took that money I sentcha to pay some RANDO a commission. I coulda had my own guys just drop something off if you’d SAID something!”

What Bowser hadn’t been expecting was for Luigi– a social coward – to laugh in his face.

“What’s so funny?” The king asked, genuinely more confused than feeling like the little guy was mocking him. Luigi took the time to shake his head, pulling out his own chair as he awkwardly climbed up the chair’s foot rest to sit comfortably.

Scusi. Non intendo prendere in giro. No mean to tease. Just…” This got the guy giggling again, his blue eyes twinkling as if it was some joke only he knew about. “Not random. Mario made it, actually .”

Mario. Long time enemy, guy that hated his guts? Who had made a point of showing how unwelcomed he was in his home at every turn. The world’s most annoying shrimp this side of the galaxy? THAT Mario had spent what was no doubt WEEKS making HIM a gift?

It was Bowser’s turn to laugh, a loud and sudden blast of noise enough to startle the peaceful vibes of the yard.

HA! Oh, oh he must have haaaated that! ” Oh Bowser was eating this up: just the mere thought of the short-stack angrily cutting wood and being forced to put in the effort for the koopa he utterly loathed was enough to have the king roaring. “ BWAHAHA! What? You got all puppy eyes on him and forced him to play nice after being a JERK last time? Kinda evil, I like it.

He expected Greenie to deny it, sure. Maybe cover it up about how he had asked nicely for the help. What Bowser didn’t see coming was the confident smirk on his face, as he turned the tables on the king.

“No. Mio frattello surprised ME with the plans right as you left. I told ya he was-a carpenter. Drew up the plans and everything.”

Luigi radiated pride with these words. Like he was thinking he was brothers with the best man in all of existence. Normally he’d feel compelled to squash that urge– stomp Mario verbally like a pancake. But with the way his bud looked so pleased, and the fact that the grand gesture was all for HIM … He had enough self control to stuff that impulse deep inside his shell. The king huffed, closing his eyes as he instead grabbed one of the many treats off the table in front of him.

“I’d say ‘ tell him thank you ’. But don’t. Your shrimpy brother already HAS the world’s biggest ego. Any bigger and that won’t leave room fer the REST of us!”

He munched into the pastry to conclude his point, licking his chops as he found himself pleasantly surprised. The koopa hummed in approval, leaning forward as the king didn’t care to think about anybody but his little buddy in front of him.

SO. ” He began, drawing in the plumber’s attention. “I think I’m finished with the evaluation on the worthiness of your surprise for me. Wanna hear the results?”

Luigi’s lashes fluttered as he blinked rapidly, confusion evident. And just as fast he seemed to catch on, straightening up in his seat with all the airs of a minion in a job interview. Hands clasped together, expression serious, he nodded.

Si. Very much so.”

Bowser smiled, fangs sharp and showing in a way that would have frightened anyone else. Luigi, however, took it like a champ, which made the fondness for the silly plumber only grow.

I love it.


Luigi's text message for the visual impaired:
[[Got a surprise for you. ✧*̥˚Be excited!*̥˚✧]]

Sorry that the art for this chapter are sketches only. Just that I was meeting the deadline of having this chapter and a whole 'nother piece of art ready for tumblr-- since the wife and I will be busy on Tuesday. Hopefully the story itself makes up for it, right? Riiiight?

If ya'll didn't say 'right', I SWEAR--

Ahem, in any case, enjoy your Valentines Day gift from me to you. 💛

Chapter 6: Burning Bridges [Phoenix Princess Rises]


Princess Peach lets off some steam after Bowser keeps ghosting her. A familiar face is there to help make things better.


(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

It was known to all around, word spread across the kingdoms, that the princess of the Mushroom Kingdom was the pinnacle of kindness. In moments of crisis, Princess Peach was one of the first to reach out towards other kingdoms when they needed aid– cultivating trust with a wink as she passed along her fortune and resources that her people had to offer. After all, if one has the means– the Stars smiling down upon her with their favoritism– wasn’t it only fair to share the bounty?

Peach certainly thought so! And with it, came her meticulous organizational skills and her tight schedule. Inventory was constantly checked, bookkeeping readily on file. There were notes made on imports and exports, costs for upkeep. Everything was budgeted, and with it the princess had always been purposeful on keeping funds set aside for her projects. Tournaments brought in tourism, as well as strengthened relations. Once a month art classes held within the walls of the community center of Toad Town not only gave her an outlet for her interests, but allowed her subjects to see her as a figure that was approachable. It was cultivated, controlled. And yes, it was also tiring at times to be seen as so well put together; Princess Peach had never allowed her citizens to see her in a state of anger– even in situations that her subjects would have found understandable. Anger bred fear, fear bred resentments. None of these things were what she felt were the best way to handle her people nor her own frustrations with local kingdoms.

Rest assured, that didn’t mean the princess was devoid of passion. It was only natural, after all, and suppression only led to breakdowns further down the line. She was on a tight schedule, and did not have the luxury of time to spend on recovery. Thus, the only conclusion was to make room within her itinerary to let off steam. Sometimes this involved using the royal kitchens to bake treats for her loved ones, sometimes going to the library to curl up on a loveseat to get lost in one of her favorite novels, and – of course– paying a visit to the home of her favorite heroes and confidants: the Mario Brothers.

That afternoon, however, Princess Peach had fire in her eyes as she was brutally assaulting a punching bag. Jabs were rapid-fire procession, gloved hands not softening her blows in the slightest. The gym was filled only with her grunts and the thwack of punches, as this was a show meant for none. The room was off limits to all except a rare few, meant for the sole purpose of the princess’ private rage, and even the sound proofing was provided simply so others wouldn’t come rushing to her aid.

The punching bag rocked wildly, as Peach was lost in her thoughts. For a while now she had been mildly frustrated with the rejection she had been receiving from the Koopa Kingdom. The unexpected development of the growing rapport between King Bowser and her dear friend Luigi had been a welcoming change. The fact that a couple weeks had passed after the tournament, and all reports from allies within the Darklands had mentioned the change in the draconic ruler’s spirits, seemed to encourage this. Peach had been ecstatic, thrilled even, as she instructed her closest advisor to write up and send off the first invitation for Bowser to be a guest within her walls– all with the intent to encourage the expansion of their temporary treaty into something more viable.

What Peach hadn’t expected was, a few days later, for her royal seal to be returned to her, with ‘RETURN TO SENDER’ violently stamped in red ink.

At first the princess thought there had been some mistake. She had made sure to look into whether the Koopa Kingdom had shut down the postal system routes between the two kingdoms. A call had informed her that had not been the case, as the Paratroopa that answered the phone hadn’t been given any decree on such matters and that all mail was making their trips between the realms. So with a ‘ thank you ’ Princess Peach had hung up the phone and decided to try again– after all, maybe there had been some mixup? These things can happen, after all, and even the most well running kingdoms could have their hiccups. When the second letter had arrived the same as the first, Peach could only blink in confusion– not able to wrap her head around it.

The last attempt had been Peach sending along one of her own messengers, as that seemed to be the best way to know for sure what the problem was. Only for the following morning to be told dear Crimini had been given a meal on behalf of the King, then instructed to return home and never bother Bowser again . Poor thing had been just as confused as her over the simultaneously thoughtful and crude behavior.

As disheartening as that had been, Peach would have allowed that transgression to pass. After all, she was a patient princess. She had been trained in the art of diplomacy by Toadsworth from a young age, learning the importance of knowing when to respect boundaries and to bide one’s time until a future opportunity of peace arised. Time and understanding was what healed all wounds, and someday Peach knew she and Lord Bowser could repair what had been broken for so long.

All forgiveness and understanding was thrown out the window once she heard what had happened to her advisor. Toadsworth, knowing the princess’ eagerness to get matters with the Darklands sorted, had taken it into his own hands to get in touch with Bowser’s castle. Some digging around had led the old toad to find a still working crystal ball, as he attempted to get in contact with Kamek– the magikoopa known for his refusal to give up the traditional means of communication, despite the convenience of technology. Scrying did at least give Toadsworth an in, as the koopa second in command answered. Kamek was known to listen to reason, and would at least send along the invite where the letters could not.

Only for Toadsworth to have been put on hold for hours, the signal finally ending with a blast of magic sending out an image of Bowser’s face giving the toad a raspberry.

“Disrespectful!” Peach cried, throwing a right hook towards the punching bag. “Impudent!” Another jab. “It’s one thing to treat me so rudely, it’s another when it’s my subjects!”

The heat inside her body only increased, as her gloves struck the bag with a growing velocity. If the princess had been more mindful of her state, she would have noticed the burning hatred was spreading– her blonde ponytail beginning to sizzle.

“That cad! That… that brute! One, two! And jab, and jab. The bag was beginning to look worse for wear, dented and folded in on itself as it swayed about. And still, Peach was ignorant to its struggles, as all her focus was stuck on the King of all Koopas.

How dare he treat her and her people this way! She was being considerate, trying to make the time for them both to sit down and finally have a proper discussion after all these years. It was certainly more than HE had ever given her, not having an ounce of care for her itinerary. Once Bowser had up and kidnapped her during a conference with the ambassadors staying within her realm– creating a terrible uproar that resulted in them being withdrawn from the Mushroom Kingdom. [ Not that Peach blamed them whatsoever! Especially after poor Ambassador Charta of the Beanbean Kingdom had been injured during the attack; if she hadn’t been locked up in her gilded prison at the time, she would have suggested the same!]

Yet, still she was trying. She was ready to let bygones be bygones. All she asked was for him to




Peach couldn’t help herself as she imagined the bag to be the monstrous face of her continuous captor, all her rage focused as her elemental emotions could no longer be contained. With the fiery might that could only rival the sun, Peach growled as she gave a strike to the maw of the koopa who had long since had it coming.

Obliterating the punching bag to cinders.

And still it didn’t feel like enough. She stomped and kicked the ashes, feeling years of pent up anger flowing through her. For so long it had been about keeping the peace, begging and pleading and hoping for things to change. It was there, right in her grasp. And just one man, one beast, couldn’t even get his head out of his shell long enough to see her as a person and meet her halfway.

Peach’s breathing was labored, not knowing if it was from the exertion or from her flaming fury starting to burn away the air around her. She felt suffocated, trapped in a spiral of prophecy. Were things ever to get better? Would Bowser force her into the role of some helpless damsel until the end of time? She knew there was a good person deep inside him, and the frustrations of knowing that only made it worse!

It was then that these taxing thoughts were snuffed out in an instant, as the princess heard a loud and purposeful cough from behind– grabbing her attention. Peach whipped herself around– feeling embarrassed to be caught in the act unbecoming for royalty– her gaze landed on a familiar sight. Mario, her knight in crimson gymwear armor , was there in the doorway: brows scrunched together with worry. And yet, still he looked away, almost sensing that he had walked in on something not meant to be seen.

“I’mma not interuppin’, am I?” The human’s voice seemed to crack from uncertainty, adding to the fact her outburst had made him uncomfortable. He at least worked up the nerve to look back at her, rubbing his five o’clock shadow. “ Scusa per averti disturbato. Eh, sorry iffa this is a bad time. Wanted to getta some practice in, but I’mma thinkin’ the punchin’ bag mighta be kablooey.

Peach could feel her cheeks warming up, this time from her shame as her eyes went wide– the reality of what she had done settled in.

“Oh! Oh, Mario, I’m so sorry. I… I don’t know what came over me.”

“Mmm, I could make a guess.” The human rubbed his mustache under his nose, a telltale sign he was considering something. And with a snap of his fingers, inspiration must have struck as he continued. “ Say princess , how-a boutta we work on-a those jabs? I could do with some practice blocking, yeah?”

“Okay,” Peach could only reply, ready to do just about anything to get what happened behind her. She could see the spread ashes of the punching bag from her peripherals, even as she watched Mario dash across the gym to the supply cabinet. Fetching out a pair of strike pads, he slipped them on as he tried starting up the conversation once more.

“So… I heard voci di corridoio , eh, rumors that things might notta be goin’ so well with Bowser. Wanna talk about it?”

Surprise overrode her mortification, as her brows shot upwards at the comment.

“How did you hear about that already? I was only just informed from Toadette about the matter with Toadsworth today!”

Mario made a gesture of tapping an ear, before getting into a defensive stance.

“Oh, you know, tengo le orecchie aperte . Keep-a an ear out for trouble.” The Italian sighed, folding almost instantly as he told Peach the truth– never having been able to lie to her, even for the lark. “Weegee told me,” he admitted. “His new amico hasn’t exactly been keeping this a secret.”

And just like that Peach’s anger returned, this time taking out her fury on Mario’s protective mitts.

“He’s bragging about it now?!” Mario held his ground as the princess threw her firsts, right then left as her footwork shifted her weight accordingly. “ Oooh , sometimes I wish I could give him a piece of my mind! Really beat the message into him! Humph!

Peach’s ire for the koopa was nothing compared to the love for her hero, as the melodic tones of his joyful laughter dowsed her inner flames.

“You know-a I wouldn’t complain, mia principessa. ” This was practically cooed, eyes as blue as agate focused only on the woman in front of him, even as his arms swept to discourage the left hook Peach tried to sneak on him. “The koopa certainly has-a good whoopin’ comin’ to him. Might make a good picture for my scrapbook, too.”

While Peach couldn’t read minds, the aura of the human’s emotions almost painted the picture for her. Yellow waves of amusement brought forth images of the Toadstool princess posing with the king, Peach presenting a knocked out Bowser as if he was a prized fish. Peach could only shake her head, smiling as she did her best to not let Mario know he was projecting his aura and thoughts too vibrantly.

“No,” she retorted with a smile of her own, reining in Mario’s mischievous nature. “ It would go against the point of it all, wouldn’t it? As frustrated as I’ve been with him not responding, I can’t help but find it a little promising .”

This comment was what threw the hero for a loop, as he tilted his head curiously– though it was easy to pick up on Mario’s disbelief as well.

“Really? ‘Cause-a you think he’s-a done bein’ all ossessionato ?”

“Something like that. I can’t know for sure unless I see him in person, he’s far easier to read that way.

It was the truth in every sense of the word, considering it was hard to gauge an emotional response in text. Her powers only picked up sentient beings– even Boos and Dry Bones had enough spiritual energy to project their feelings loud and clear. But a letter? Unreadable, at least in that sense. Still, Peach carried on and explained herself.

“My thoughts on the matter are this: I would have been suspicious if Bowser did come along, hanging on my every word at the drop of a hat. He can be quite devious when he wishes, and I would hardly put it past him to use another to get into my good graces.”

She could sense Mario’s concern, his aura greying as he no doubt worried for his brother. Peach quickly continued, for his sake– throwing another punch as a distraction.

However , that doesn’t seem to be the case. Instead he’s been ignoring my letters on behalf of Luigi’s company. I consider it promising because that means my hopes were answered: Bowser has made an honest to true friend.

It was sweet in its own sense: the last time she saw the younger Mario Brother, Luigi had been giddy over the fact his brother had gone through all the trouble of making a space for Bowser’s visits. His usual muddied olive green aura having become a vibrant chartreuse with his excitement, going on about his plans of having tea in his treasured garden. [And quite naturally Peach passed along some recipes to some treats she recalled being served while in Bowser’s castle, all in the spirit of friendship.] She was happy for them, and truly wished them the best.

And yet… it was with a sigh the princess mentioned her complaints. She dropped her stance, holding her gloves closer to her chest as she went on.

“I know it’s selfish of me to want to butt in on them, especially with things still being so new. The fact Luigi even went out of his comfort zone to ask to keep in contact, and Bowser instantly complying should be enough to ease my worries. But this is the first in a long while that I’ve seen such an opportunity to approach Bowser about forming a proper alliance. One not built through forced marriages, no fear tactics of any kind.” Peach felt herself shaking slightly, forcing herself to take a deep breath and send her own wave of calm through her. It helped keep her together, and it was enough to finish her thought. “I just want things to be different this time, Mario. For everything to click into place so Bowser and I can finally be on more favorable terms.”

It would certainly make her life even a smidgen easier, not having to factor in damage done to Toad Town during the king’s near bi-monthly attacks. Less hatred from her toad citizens towards the peaceful koopas living in her land. Peach just couldn’t help but consider all the good that could come from a solidified treaty.

Her thoughts were interrupted by a sigh, Mario making his way closer as she could sense he wanted to hug her but ultimately wouldn’t engage without her making the first move. The human, her heroic sweetheart that had gone up and beyond to protect her, thinking about her need for boundaries after everything she’d gone through. It was enough to make her heart quiver with fondness, as she met Mario halfway by collapsing on her knees– throwing her arms around him in a tight embrace. Mario oh’ed softly, whispering Italian endearments into her hair as his padded mitt rubbed light circular motions into her back.

Cuore mia. Mia forte e bellissima tesorina.

.:Come Be Lonely With Me:. - DarkwingSnark (16)

Peach didn’t need to speak the language from the distant world to feel Mario’s undeniable love for her draped over her shoulders like a weighted blanket. She could understand as he pulled her away to look him in the eyes, blockers mitt gently brushing a bang off of her cheek before bringing her forehead to his lips.

“Peachy, you don’t have a selfish bone inna your body.”

She technically didn’t have any bones, but that was neither here nor there. What mattered was the soft way the human’s mustache tickled her skin, the warm breath upon her that made the princess want to throw away all responsibilities and caution to the wind and marry her hero then and there. Politics be damned!

Instead, as always, she had to reign those wants in as her powers sent out soothing spores to calm both the hero and princess– Mario concerned energy becoming blue and peaceful, as Peach sighed.

“Thank you, dear. I’m sorry for letting things get away from me. Please, tell me how things have been going with Bowser and your brother. I want to be distracted with good news for a change.”

So maybe she can be reminded that her feelings weren’t at her expense, and that hope could continue to peek from the horizon.

Mario might not have understood completely, nor exactly was thrilled to talk about the odd turn of events he had found himself living in. And yet, he did as his princess asked, sitting down onto the matted floor to make himself comfortable.

“It’s-a something, in any case. I don’t think-a I’ve ever seen Weegee puttering around on quel suo telefono this much, even back on Earth. Like fratellino is-a kid again.” This was finished with a huff, the human’s amusement going toe-to-toe with fondness and exasperation. “Bowser has-a at least been stickin’ to outside. No more worry of-a da big guy breakin’ more of-a my mobili soggiorno, in any case.”

Another moment of not needing a translation, as Peach had heard of the incident on numerous occasions by this point. On both sides of the matter, she couldn’t help but sympathize with both brothers. Her own diplomacy would have demanded she suppressed her giggling over Bowser breaking not one, but two pieces of furniture. Still, she hummed out softly in her own mirth while in the safety of Mario’s company, gently laying her head against his.

“It sounds beyond sweet, I almost wish I could be there to see it myself. It’s hard to imagine all of this came about because of a simple tennis tournament.”

Tell me about it ,” Mario grumbled, “ all this ‘cause-a he wanted to steal away mio fratello for doubles next year. Stupido tartaruga, che inventa nomi stupidi per le squadre . What even IS a ‘ Green Powerhouse ’ supposed to mean?!”

Peach couldn’t help her own giggle that escaped over the act.

“You’re still playing with me, aren’t you? Why don’t we have a team name of our own? Power Players? Cutest Couple?

The princess watched as Mario’s aura became just as pink as the delightful way humans cheeks did when they blushed. A feast for her eyes as Mario looked away, clearing his throat.

Perhaps Power Players. I don’t really like-a the implications of-a the other name makin’ my brother and Bowser playing as innamorato too. Bad enough knowin’ they’re hanging in town tomorrow to practice, don’t needa the crazy idea that they’re make-a da kissy face the whole time. Blegh.

Usually Peach would have jumped at the chance to tease her paramore– especially as he went out of his way to play up his discomfort, tongue sticking out and all. Yet, the princess couldn’t help as her eyes went wide at what Mario had said, perking up in her seat.

“Wait, they’re coming to Toad Town? Tomorrow? Are they playing at the public grounds in the park?”

Mario’s brows were scrunched together at her reaction, obvious he was trying to connect the dots on what was happening.

S-si… Why you ask?”

Mario was emanating dread as Peach could feel him picking up on her implications, no doubt her own giddiness making him reconsider having told her that. The princess could feel her grin spreading as she grabbed both sides of her love’s face, slightly squishing his cheeks with her mitts, as she asked the words that would set her plan into motion:

How would you feel about playing some tennis?


I mean... Bowuigi still happened in the background. And it was important for setup. So i hope it appeases you guys. Plus... I like Mario and Peach being together. They're cute.

Also want you guys to know the introduction of Peach's emotion powers was introduced as early as chapter 2 of 'Same Man I Was Before'. I've been long gaming being able to finally drop my headcanon in there, because I actually like the 'Super Princess Peach' game. Also, boxing Peach that we missed out from 'Punch Out!' but was thankfully given back during the 'Mario and Sonic at the Olympics' series. Peach's hidden temper is not only why *I* like her, but is also why I totally get why Bowser is into her. Hubba hubba.

.... Don't tell my wife.

Chapter 7: Bowser's Big Gay Interlude


Bowser and Luigi have a talk on their way to Toad Town, making their way to their first tennis session practice. An interesting exchange occurs.


Bowser derailed the actual tennis chapter so I guess here we are. You'll have to wait until next time to see Bowser vs Peach, I guess. Whoopsies.

Chapter Text

Bowser would never get used to how bright the Mushroom Kingdom was. Crystal clear skies made it so everything felt reflective, a tad more vibrant than it ought to. It was enough to make him miss the cozy covering of ashen clouds and smoke, or at least attempt some sort of scheme to set fire to the sun to make it explode. Kamek had told him once how ‘ idiotic ’ and ‘ irresponsible ’ that idea was before. Sure, might kill off all the plants, and sure , the rest of the people on the planet– koopas and all… But it would certainly make the slight headache he got every time he came to visit a lot more bearable. Even Luigi had suggested he get a pair of sunglasses, but those are reading glasses adjacent. And NOBODY was gonna see him looking like a dork unless absolutely necessary.

Like, you know , on his deathbed or something. When rad kings like Bowser were too old and ancient to even know what ‘ cool ’ meant anymore. By that point it was just better to put him out of his misery.

Point was, it was bright. And walking their way towards Toad Town, sun beating on his shell, wasn’t helping the headache. Still, the moment the king landed at the Mario household, Greenie had made the suggestion of them enjoying the weather rather than taking the clown car straight to the park… Utterly ridiculous, a waste of time and effort! Even IF they didn’t have much planned outside of just hitting the ball back and forth to work on timing; and yet, it was hard to say ‘no’ when the little fella started pulling out those baby blues– looking like the world’s saddest puppy that Bowser was about to stomp all over his hopes and dreams.

So they were walking, and that was that.

Luigi, meanwhile, had been pointing out the different flowers and plant life he had noticed along the way. Walking on the side of the road made the koopa feel like a bit of a hick– staying out of the way for the rare cart driven by– but it also made them in perfect range for the human to see familiar species. Already he had listed the common fire flowers that popped up throughout the realms, but had also noted a recently blossoming bubble plant– a much rarer find with its cone shaped petals allowing for the wind to blow through them and create large protective means of travel. Bowser grunted along, listening enough and allowing his eyes to follow where the plumber was pointing. At the end of the day his focus was mostly on Luigi, himself, as dumb flowers didn’t matter nearly as much as the nerdy joy the human got while explaining the pointless trivia.

Yeah yeah, call the koopa a sap all you want. So he was enjoying his friend’s company, big deal. Wasn’t that what you were supposed to do when you made friends? Listen to them ramble on about things you didn’t care about? Besides, Luigi at least had a way of making it sound somewhat engaging– even if Bowser didn’t have much to say on the matter.

Luigi was finishing up a thought as Bowser listened, seeming to wind down.

“ [...] But I always like’d the plumeria. Brother once mentioned a toad given’ him a tough time, makin’ him-a run around an’ grow some for him. Says they were a bit ordinario , simple ‘cause-a they’re white. But I’mma thinkin’ Mario is-a not lookin’ hard enough. They twist!”

As if to emphasize this point the human brought his hands together and maneuvered them in a twisting motion in opposite directions. More like breaking something than describing a plant, if Bowser was to be perfectly honest. Luigi carried on, none the wiser to this thought.

“We had something like ‘em on Earth, too. But notta were we lived, no.” Luigi shook his head at a fast pace, as if clearing the potential confusion. It was enough to make the koopa huff silently. “They were an island plant. People, dey made ‘em into leis– kinda like a flower crown, just-a big and sat around your neck.”

“I know what a flower necklace is, Weeg,” Bowser responded, amused by the human attempting to explain something that their worlds shared. “ Mostly sold for tourists at vacation joints, like over at Delfino. Made up to be more special than they’re worth.”

This was a grumble, remembering the last time he was there not only did he get roped into a vendor making him get some to ‘blend in’, but then Larry got a stomach ache after chewing on his. Spending the first night of a vacation in the emergency room wasn’t exactly the King’s preferred way of starting a trip.

Luigi hummed, bringing Bowser back to reality and away from annoying memories.

“That does make me happy to know you guys got a version of ‘em, too. I try to read as-a much-a I can about stuff here, try to learn whatta I can, but the world is-a big. And sometimes I don’t remember everything we’re forgettin’ from home until i ricordi hanno colpito . Eh, until I remember things.”

Bowser watched as his friend gently rubbed the back of his neck, a tell-tale sign that he was going to admit something he was embarrassed about. The koopa was only proven correct as Luigi started up again sheepishly.

“I don’t leave-a the house much. Don’t go to many places. At least, not outta the kingdom often. I haven’t gone to even half the places that Mario has. So there’s a lotta I haven’t seen.

The king raised a brow at this, genuinely confused. He knew Mario tended to be well traveled– he sure had gone to great lengths to stop all HIS plans no matter where he went– so hearing Luigi wasn’t in the same boat was just plain WEIRD!

And Bowser said as much, not afraid to speak his mind.

“What? So Mario doesn’t let you go with him on trips or something?”

Cielo no! ” The human responded instantly, startled in that cute way he sometimes did when he gripped the shirt on his chest. As if the very idea was going to give him a heart attack on the spot. “Big Bro would never! Fratellone invites me, sometimes. Jus’... somebody’s gotta stay behind. We gotta business, who’s gonna fix-a the warp pipes iffa we’re BOTH running off all the time?”

Bowser stopped in his tracks, red eyes shrunk with shock as he could feel his brows practically shoot off his face.

“Wait, THAT’S what you guys do?! I thought you guys fixed toilets, an’ junk!”

“I mean… we do both.

What the koopa would have once thought was just plain timid behavior, the way the guy curled in on himself slightly, Bowser noted the slight twitch of Luigi’s mustache. He was politely hiding his own smirk, no doubt amused by the over the top reaction he just gave him. The plumber swiped under his nose, as if to smooth out the grin, before giving a proper explanation.

“It’s our plumbing business. We had t’do something for money when we first got here. And we were-a pretty good at it before we got sent here, yeah? So why not? We fix-a the pipes inna people’s homes, not so different for toads too, before Mario started t’get real busy workin’ for the princess. An’ when the warp pipes started to be enough of-a problem, Peach had us train to fix those too.” This was finished with a wistful sigh, as Luigi smiled up at the King– this time looking more forced than genuine. “These days it’s-a mostly jus’ me. But it’s not so bad. Gives me somethin’ to leave the house for. Oh! E c'è questo! I kinda always liked going for walkies. Doggy makes sure I leave-a the house at least once a day, or else-a he gets the zoomies, aha.”

Bowser had never heard that term before, but he could easily imagine. It brought forth the image of his kids running around after being cooped up in Kamek’s lessons for too long, or after a particularly strong sugar rush. It was enough to make the king’s chest rumble with a barely concealed chuckle, shaking his head as he came to a conclusion.

“So what yer’ tellin’ me is that I need t’get ya out of the house more, got it.

Guess that’s what it was like when you got yourself a pet nerd. You need to encourage them to break routine and actually do something FUN for a change. Boy, good thing Luigi had him around, or else his fragile Green Bean was gonna shrivel up and die from pure boredom alone. It was then a thought struck him, and on impulse he decided to say it aloud.

THAT’S it, next time me n’ the kids go on vacation, I’m gonna kidnap ya! Steal ya RIGHT outta yer miserable existence. Who says yer dumb brother gets to have adventures all the time, huh?”

Bowser could practically see it now: he’d whisk Luigi off to the Seaside Kingdom. Sure, the sun still sucked, but the heat and sand more than made up for it. He’d bury himself deep to the point all that was seen was his spikes, and he’d rest– watching as his children played Volleyball or swam in the sea. Luigi would be there, by his side, soaking in the warmth with him– the crystalline waves reflecting on some big dorky sunglasses. But Bowser would have to be mindful , because he knew of their inferior skin being sensitive. Humans cooked easily, and the king wouldn’t want his lil’ guy to burn to a crisp . So he would have sunscreen on hand, and make sure Luigi was completely lathered before returning to his sandy fortress to hibernate.

.:Come Be Lonely With Me:. - DarkwingSnark (17)

Once the sun had set it would be a different story: Bowser would rise like the monstrous terror he was, and take his family out for the nightlife– only the fanciest joints so Luigi could share in some of the highlife for a change. Party it up like he’s never done before! He’d force the human to dress up, something in green– he liked green a lot, after all, though Bowser might sneak in a hint of purple just for himself. It would be one of those form fitting suits to get the guy’s confidence up, so he could show everybody what he was working with. And then they’d be jealous because he would have the King of all Koopa’s on his arm, but Luigi wouldn’t even LOOK at those shlubs. Because why would he? They were busy having the time of their life as one big happy family!

….That consisted of his family and his friend , that is. His good pal, Luigi. Ahem , yeah… where was Bowser going with this again?

The King, however, was interrupted by the timid tones of the very man he was thinking about.

“It does sound nice.” Heck yeah it did. “But…” This was where Bowser whipped his head back to look at the Italian– enough for Luigi to slightly flinch.

“‘ But’?” Bowser pried, wanting to get to the heart of why his ultra cool fantasy might not be happening. Luigi swallowed, holding the grip on his duffel bag even tighter as he continued.

“It’s just… What about work? And… and who would watch-a Polterpup? And take care of Audrey?”

The king was not impressed by the excuses.

“Oh, I dunno… Your BROTHER that you’re always singing praise about?” Bowser could just feel another ‘ but ’ on the horizon, and cut it off at its source. “ LOOK , all I’m sayin’ is that MARIO could take care of things for a change– especially after everything ya do for ‘im. And aren’t you guys loaded? What with you being showered in riches from ‘Peach Gratitude ’?”

This was said in air quotes, indicating his thoughts on the matter. The Toadstool Princess WAS known for her generosity. And even if he hated to admit it, Mario was her hero. Surely these chumps could be in a mansion by now, even their own palace, if only they’d stop being so humble about it. But hey, there had to be some value in saving for a rainy day. Bowser wouldn’t do it , he liked stuff too much; but he was aware of the more brainy types liking to flaunt that kind of garbage.

What the King of all Koopas didn’t expect was for Luigi to blink owlishly at him.

“‘Loaded’? But Bowser, we don’t have money like that. Non accettiamo soldi dalla principessa!

The human shook his head, taking his hat off to wipe his sweating brow. The sun must have been frying his brain some, because it took Luigi far too long to realize he was speaking gibberish again. He corrected himself with a flip of his hat back on his head, getting them walking once more as he elaborated.

“The princess, she offers us money, but we never take it. It’s notta how we were raised. ‘N after each job from-a the professor, we take-a whatta we need an’ give away the rest.”

Bowser never thought he was the type to be angry over something that didn’t even involve him. Something that usually had no bearings on his life whatsoever. But the koopa could feel his insides broiling, smoke billowing from the very depths of his innards as they left his nostrils in flared puffs. It took everything in Bowser’s self control not to grab onto the idiot’s head and squeeze some sense into his thick skull!

He swallowed down his fury, talking as slowly as he could.

“Why… would you DO that? You HAD money where you came from, right?

Bowser’s eye was beginning to twitch, as he kept his anger as a hostage for only him to feel kicking and screaming. The captive only thrashed about more as Luigi looked at him curiously.

S-si? We had money in Brooklyn. Me and mio fratellone just have no need for the flashy stuff. We wouldn’t even know what to do with that much money.”

Every excuse the human made only made it worse. The sappiness of the sentiment was upsetting the koopa’s stomach, which only angered him more. And it was with a mighty roar that Bowser grabbed his horns, yelling at the heavens.

“WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?! Money is power, n’ power is EVERYTHING! You coulda ruined this kingdom nine times over, HAVE ALL THE USELESS TOADS EATING OUT OF YOUR HANDS!”

The sad look Luigi gave Bowser only made him want to destroy things more. Despite the king’s rage, despite it being aimed at the useless idiot, Luigi braved his way closer– placing a hand on the koopa’s arm.

“But I don’t want any of that. I’m pretty happy with what we got now. It’s nice n’ cozy, and I at least don’t feel so lonely no more.

This was said with that hopeful beam Luigi was known for, saying the biggest load of trite the King of all Koopas had ever heard. And yet, for glorn’s sake, it got to him, okay? Just the simple mention that having him as a friend was worth more than some insane amounts of money was… something. Stupid mostly, but GRAH! It was sweet, alright! Practically saccharine and giving him a toothache!

Why are we even friends , Lou? ” Bowser could only ask, feeling drained as all his anger suffocated on the spot. The king rubbed his temple to soothe his growing headache, noting how Luigi didn’t let go of his arm as they continued their trek down the road. [Not that he planned on saying anything if the shrimp wasn’t bothered by it. Just noting , was all. ] Bowser peaked from between his claws as he heard Luigi chuckling next to him, showing off his own sheepish but mischievous nature.

“I like to think on-a some level you like me, even a little .”

The mustachioed man used his free hand to pinch his gloved fingers together to emphasize his point, those blue eyes squinting in delight and fondness. Luigi looked away when he finally noticed the koopa looking at him, scratching his sideburns instead as he gave his attempt at a nonchalant shrug– as in, it wasn’t very good .

“I mean, I like you . An’ I don’t think you could make-a me take-a it back now, even iffa you tried real hard. So there.”

It was… weirdly defiant of the human. A dumb time and place for it, but it was the little things when it came to his usually fearful friend. Like the way Luigi’s cheeks blushed slightly under his furrowed brows, or the way he titled his nose in the air in a faux-haughty manner. It was enough to make something stir in Bowser, a longing to just trap the guy in a cage and never let him go. The koopa chuckled at this, shaking his head as he decided that fantasy wasn’t to his taste any longer, much preferring the one of them at the beach.

“You should still consider the trip, though. Not a NOW thing,” Bowser had enough sense to realize that. “But… you’d like that, wouldn’tcha? I dunno why, but somethin’ about you screams ‘take me to the beach ’, an’ I tend to be right about these sorts of things.”

Toad Town was just beyond the horizon, finally coming into view as Toad Harbor was just peeking around the entrance to the town– the ocean only seeming to shine brightly in a tempting fashion. The koopa wondered if Greenie thought so too, as his eyes seemed locked on to water as he thought the proposition over. It was with a small squeeze of the king’s arm that he seemed to make a decision.


“‘Okay’?” Bowser repeated, his brain having a hard time computing with the fact he didn’t think he’d get this far. Luigi nodded.

“Yeah. I’d have t’talk to Big Bro about it, maybe he wouldn’t mind so much like-a you said. But…”

Blue eyes captivated Bowser’s own, somehow outshining everything else in the bright and miserable world. Luigi smiled, squinting and seemingly holding back his own laugh. Bowser could even see his teeth, canines stubby but prominent under that disastrous lip curtain, drawing the koopa in as the human said all he needed to hear.

“I think I might like a good kidnapping one of these days. I amma bound to have one I could enjoy, yeah?”

The skip of his heart beat almost made Bowser trip on the spot, quickly jolting up in place– unfortunately, Luigi letting go in fright. The human at least tried to draw himself back in, worry evident on his face.

Bowser, you okay?

“Yeah,” Bowser swallowed, closing his eyes as he took a deep breath. He was back to his full height, it being his turn to show off fangs of his own. He laughed, feeling joy unlike any he had felt before. “I think you just broke my brain over giving me permission to make you a hostage, is all. Not used to platonic prisoners. Usually gotta fight for ‘em.”

Luigi seemed to catch on to the meaning, sighing slightly as he shook his head.

“Not this time, okay? All you had t’do was ask.”

And as funny as it was to imagine… Bowser actually believed him.

Chapter 8: Stuck Between A Koopa and A Hard Place


A walk through Toad Harbor Market leads Bowser and Luigi to discuss a few things.


(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

The walk through Toad Town wasn’t anything special, the place looking more like a dinky village than anything impressive. It was quaint , the nicest way Bowser could put it– in a way that showed off his opinions on, again , it being lame in comparison to his kingdom. The buildings themselves were practically sameish with the way they alternated between limestone and sandstone– the white and tans only showing off their individuality through the coloring of their shingles. He supposed he couldn’t fault the use of the material, seeing as like the Darklands the Mushroom Kingdom relied on the conduits to support magical flow. It was what powered their world, after all, only relying on hydroelectric whatzits in areas that were too far from a magical source.

Still didn’t mean the toads had to be BORING about it, though. After all, Bowser was able to make the Koopa Kingdom look rad as heck. So what was THEIR excuse?

Soon housing broke into the Toad Harbor market– the tents busy with commerce and people of all varieties running about. Bowser only noted it with mild interest, seeing as the hubbub was at least better than the odd toad quickly noting his presence and making a U-turn into their homes. It was upon realizing that the quickest way to the park was through the market that the king grew annoyed. While there was physical space for the koopa to walk about– everyone giving him a wide berth no matter where he went– they wouldn’t do the same for Luigi; it would be far too easy to lose him in the crowd. He had done that with his smaller kids before, the place nearly being destroyed as Bowser wreaked havoc after many attempts to get people to stop moving for FIVE MINUTES had fallen on deaf ears. Luckily Peach had let that transgression slide, seeing as it was during a ceasefire, noting that it had been reactionary and not intentional.

Still didn’t mean Bowser wanted to go through that again. Especially as he was trying to somewhat be on good terms with the kingdom. So it was with a grunt he grabbed onto Luigi’s hand– the human doing a double take as his small mitts were swallowed whole.

Stay close ,” the king growled, staring down at his friend with a glare. “I don’t wanna have t’ spend all afternoon lookin’ for ya just cause you’re too NICE t’tell losers to beat it .”

O-oh ,” the plumber replied, slowly blinking away his confusion. He at least seemed to understand the plan of attack, maneuvering his hands so as to be able to firmly grip onto one of the koopa’s meaty digits. “Okey dokey, if ya want, but–”

That was all the confirmation Bowser needed, as he started dragging Luigi across the street and towards the crowd. Luigi scurried, doing his best to keep up. More talking followed, apparently the human not having finished his piece.

Oh sei veloce– ,” Luigi huffed, doubling his speed to be in line with the King’s wide waddles. He carried on, only a little out of breath: It’s notta so bad, promise ! If we getta split, I know-a my way there. We’ll meet up, nessun problema!

Bowser was busy eyeing down a koopa merchant that scurried out of the way with their wares– dropping a tomato in the process. The king paid no mind to this as he instead clicked his teeth towards his scrawny human.

“Or we could just NOT risk it. Ya know, the SMART way?” It was then a thought struck the koopa, as he scrunched up his maw in amusement. “What, you got a problem with it? Seemed fine gettin’ all grabby with my arm not too long ago. Now that we got eyes around, suddenly you’re embarrassed to be around your best pal?

No! ” Luigi shouted, face flushing in contrast to the mortified look about him. “ I’mma notta embarrassed!” His mortification only grew as the human seemed to realize what he had shouted, shrinking in on himself– totally embarrassed like. Bowser watched smugly as Luigi swallowed. “At, at least… Not by you.

Well THAT was at least reassuring, and the Koopa King could at least admit it to himself as amusement turned into something softer. Harden furrowed brows relaxed some, giving his pal a look over.

“Then what is it? What’s got your panties all in a twist?”

Bowser had just cleared through the tents, the two finally free on the opposite side of the marketplace. There was more room for traffic, though the king still dragged Luigi to the side so as not to be directly in the way– he had SOME manners, enough to not want people interrupting and telling them to move. Bowser was hesitant to let go, but ultimately did so as there was technically no reason for them to still be hand n’ claw with one another. He watched as the human brought his arms to himself in a defensive manner, looking as if Luigi planned on hugging his nerves into submission. His pale eyes seemed to watch the crowd from under the brim of his hat, Bowser following his attention to see a couple of toads flinching– quickly going on their way to act as if they hadn’t been watching them.

The king huffed, turning his attention back on Luigi.

“Let me guess: something to do with that , huh ?”

Si. Sento i loro occhi. Um, the staring.”

It was strange watching the human be so timid in a way the koopa wasn’t used to. He had seen the plumber utterly terrified, of course, shaking in his boots at the mere sight of him– that used to be their relationship, after all: the Big Bad Bowser versus the Mario Brothers, the handsome monstrous king up against the blue collared flops. And as they were hanging out during the tournament, the king had watched Luigi verbally stumble over himself– quick to make corrections so as to not offend the royal reptile. Both cases had made sense, even if the latter had been annoying.

But this?

This was neither of those; it was some weird third thing that made the human appear somehow smaller– like a frightened koopa attempting to hide in his shell. Something protective came over the king, as he brought himself between Luigi and the crowd– blocking him off from the world as he pinned his arms on either side of Luigi and onto the wall of the nearest building.

.:Come Be Lonely With Me:. - DarkwingSnark (18)

“They ain’t staring now; and even if they WERE, why does it matter? LET ‘EM! People stare at me all the time!”

I’m not used to it ,” Luigi answered meekly, seemingly taking comfort from being in Bowser’s enormous shadow, “ People… they don’t usually see me. Not ME me, anyway. I’mma either ignored, or just the great Super Mario’s baby brother. Attention… is not so good.

That didn’t make sense. Bowser knew Luigi didn’t like to be seen as second fiddle to his brother, but not wanting to be seen at all was just weird. Unnatural, even. Everybody had a desire to be noticed, or at least Bowser assumed that was the case. Looking down at the human underneath his chest made the king question this view altogether.

That doesn’t answer my question ,” Bowser grumbled, quickly trying to form a response. “Why does it MATTER ? To you, specifically. These chumps don’t know you, Lou. They’re nobodies. Background losers of your life. What’re they gonna think that’s gotcha so freaked out?”

Bowser watched his friend intently, brows furrowed in a way that demanded answers and they weren’t leaving until he got them. Bullying his bud? Perhaps , but it was for the shrimp’s own good! How was Bowser supposed to FIX Luigi’s problem if he didn’t even know what it was?

Luigi, for his part, remained silent, looking down at his feet as his grip tightened on the strap of his duffel bag. A part of Bowser wanted to take his claw and force up the human’s chin so he could fully interrogate him, but it was Luigi who beat him to the punch. Lifting his head after giving a swallow, the koopa intently watched his friend’s mouth as he spoke.

“I don’t want to be judged, Bowser.” Gibberish spilled from his lips, as he brought up both hands as if they were a set of scales. “ Mi giudicano per quello che non sono, per quello che sono. I’mma judged for notta bein’ what people want. La inconvenienza – burdensome. I make-a people annoyed, I make-a them worried. They’re never happy to see Luigi, always wanting somebody better. I'd rather be overlooked than seen, iffa that’s-a what they think. And that’s okay. I’m fine with that.”

Bowser’s gaze hardened the more he listened. Nothing he heard sounded ‘ okay ’, or ‘ fine ’, or any other adjective that was supposed to say ‘ this was how it was meant to be ’. It sounded messed up, was what it was! That one of the heroes of the Mushroom Kingdom could feel so broken by how little these toad losers respected him. It was enough to make his innards boil, Bowser doing his best to swallow back his smoke so as not to scare the little guy more than he already was.

Who said this to you ,” he snarled. It must have come as a surprise to the human, as his eyes opened wide upon the Koopa King’s sudden increased ire.

N-nobody . Not… not technically . Notta so much what they said, as how they said it.”

Luigi sighed, face scrunching up in the way that said he was about to unleash a string of apologies. Bowser hated how right he was when the little guy opened his mouth again.

Sorry , I didn’t mean to bring-a the mood down. Just too many people at once, we were-a barging through-a n’ it made-a me spooked. Please, perdonami . Forgetta I said something.”

Bowser would NOT forget. Not when his pal had been slighted and wronged by such cowardly creeps . It was enough to make the king want to call up Kamek and demand he get his rear down to the worthless kingdom and make him gigantic; he could totally just stomp and crush the place– Luigi sitting on his shoulders as he pointed out every single toad that had ever made him feel like a burden. No wonder these losers didn’t know anything about mining: here they had a flarpin’ diamond in their midsts, and they treated Luigi like he was worthless ! Sure, once upon a time he hadn’t thought much about the younger Mario Brother, either. But he LEARNED ! He had EYES and could see when something was worth getting your claws on and never letting go !

But fantasies could only be just that: dreams not meant to grace the world– even if it would have been justice . It was unfair being friends with a runt that wouldn’t see destruction as the compliment it was, that Bowser had to be the one to rein himself in when nobody else did. When THEY could get away with saying whatever the heck they wanted with no consequences.

WELL, if the koopa couldn’t destroy the place he’d have to do something better. Something that maybe would align with annoying human sensibilities. Bowser tore himself from the wall, backing up enough before turning around so as not to impale his little buddy. Luigi, sensing something was about to happen, scurried to grab onto the king’s arm– practically clinging to him.

“B-bowser, what are you doing ? Let’s-a just go to the park, okey?”

“Oh, we will, ” the king replied with all the cool reserve of a volcano about to erupt. He passed a look down at the guy on his arm, giving a slight sigh. “But first, I got something t’say.”

Bowser could feel the mortification crashing on Luigi like a heavy wave, as the Koopa King yelled into the crowd.

LISTEN UP , LOSERS ,” he roared, “I want you all to know how REAL LUCKY you twerps are that your HERO here gives a DARN aboutcha. “ His arm swept back towards Luigi, who jumped at being lumped into the rant. “Because ya’ll don’t deserve a FRACTION of his kindness after what you’ve done to him. Ya better be glad your PRINCESS ain’t as tough as I am, or I’d have every one of ya toads dangling over lava from disrespecting MY kingdom’s hero!”

Bowser had more to say, a grand speech that was going to work up towards how Luigi was the best thing to ever happen to the town– nay, the entire Kingdom! He, however, wouldn’t get to say any of it as it was his turn to be surprised when suddenly he felt his feet being swept out from under him– tossing him into the air.

To be caught overhead by a distressed Luigi.

OKAY, I THINK-A THAT’S ENOUGH ,” the human screeched, already taking off in a mad scurry down the street.

Bowser was stunned, physically shaken as his brain was processing what the heck just happened. One moment he was addressing the crowd, letting them have it, the next? He was on his back being carried by a human that logically shouldn’t be able to. That had NO RIGHT to! It was this thought that got the koopa back on the right track, as he flailed about.

HEY , what’s the BIG IDEA?! I was TRYING to help!”


What should have taken another quarter hour reaching the park took mere moments, as the unnaturally strong plumber dashed and weaved through the crowd– zooming past most of the traffic before they could even recognize the strangeness of the king being manhandled in such a ridiculous fashion. They were some ways inside before Luigi threw Bowser to the ground– the grass at least being soft enough to break the fall. The human was sweating viciously, huffing and wheezing as he was trying to catch his breath. It was during this that Bowser took the opportunity to climb to his feet and demand answers.

“What was THAT about?! I try to set those UNGRATEFUL CLODS straight, and this is the thanks you give me? I was DOING it for YOU!

This was what made the human finally stir: whipping his head that had been previously between his knees up towards the king with a jolt. Luigi’s eyes were practically bulging from his skull and his brows furrowed, lips stretched into the biggest frown Bowser had ever seen. It was enough to make the king take a step back, as the plumber started yelling.

Sconsiderato! Senza pensieri !” This was finished with a spat to the grass, as Luigi wagged his finger in Bowser’s face. “That wasn’t for me and YOU know it! You were angry, ‘cause-a what I said, and you couldn’t keep-a it together long enough to think-a what I would-a wanted. You just wanted to be MEAN!”

Mean? Bowser was DEFENDING him, and HE was the mean one? Bowser growled, his turn to get into the human’s face.

“Of COURSE I was angry! Somebody I give a crap about started shaking in the streets, and I find out he’s been getting DISRESPECTED all this time?! I WANTED TO BURN DOWN THE WHOLE TOWN!

WELL THANK YOU FOR NOT DOING THAT ,” Luigi shrieked, pulling himself away enough to put his face in his hands, moaning loudly. It was such a whiplash of emotions that at any other moment the king would have found it hilarious. But here? Now? Seeing Luigi flip flop around from passionate anger to looking ready to curl into a ball like a pillbug and disappear altogether? It was enough to make Bowser begin to second guess some things. The koopa didn’t get a chance to say much of anything, as Luigi was going off again.

“I tell you I don’t like-a being judged, n’ you think giving people more reasons would make-a me feel better? Why?

The plumber still looked hurt, but the way he tilted his head up towards the king made it seem more like he was trying to understand– desperate to find a reason not to be mad at his friend. It was enough to cause Bowser to squirm a little in place, glaring at the ground instead.

“It was supposed t’show everybody how great you are. That they were idiots fer not seeing it. I thought you would’ve liked that.”

“I would’ve, I do . ” Luigi shook his head at this, looking exasperated. The human continued, eyes pleading for him to understand. “But we could-a had-a this talk here . Not… Fuori all'aperto , in the middle of town. It was embarrassing.

See, that was what Bowser didn’t understand. Why would it be embarrassing to get angry over something he had every right to? If toads were going around judging him, say something back! Luigi was a smart guy, surely he had to know saying nothing would’ve made those twerps keep up the digs?

“Well, telling ya all that in private wouldn’t’ve STOPPED them, now would it ?” Hesitation on the king’s part turned into confidence as he puffed up his chest up in defense. “I was TRYIN’ to nip it in the bud! What GOOD would’a it done to just tell you that I think the world of ya, if yer jus’ gonna go an’ care ‘bout what THEY think instead?”

Luigi blinked slowly, tilting his head with a wide owlish stare.

You think the world of me ,” he asked, softly. It was Bowser’s turn to look surprised, as he squinted down at the human with a judgemental glare.

“Yeah? Ain’t it obvious? I’m here, aren’t I?”

Letting him yell at him, too, without even thinking about ripping the shrimp a new one for the transgression. Bowser watched as a series of emotions flickered across the human’s face, each one indiscernible as Luigi couldn’t make up his mind on how he was supposed to feel. In the end he settled on disappointment, as he reprimanded the king.

“Still, that’s-a no reason to threaten people. Not for me, okay? I know I’mma bit sensitive to what people think,” that was putting it lightly , “but that’s-a why I feel better hearing otherwise from-a friends. You don’t fight-a mean with mean. You-a spite them by being nice.”

Now spite was a concept the koopa knew all about. Usually Bowser was more on the hurting and offending end of the spectrum, but the idea of turning the act of being kind into something unrecognizable and petty had its charm. He couldn’t help but wonder if Luigi knew that, as the king leaned forward with a smirk of appreciation.

“So, you’re tellin’ me whenever I get angry at somebody fer insultin’ ya, to turn around and praise you instead? Sounds a bit conceited , dont’cha think? Weaseling free compliments from a king?

Luigi didn’t look as impressed, putting his hands on his hips in defiance.

“If you plan-a on yellin’ them at others anyway, then si . È molto meglio , much better.”

This was enough to earn a chuckle from the king, the intoxicating fondness swelling inside him as he smiled down at his friend– eyes half-lidded.

“You’ve gotten bold, Greenie, ever since hangin’ out with yer ol’ pal Bowser. Some might say I’m rubbin’ off on ya.”

Luigi sighed.

“Bad influence, more like.” Still, the plumber managed a smile as he gave a retort of his own. “ È una strada a doppio senso , Bowser. Some might-a be thinkin’ you’ve been sweeter.”

Bowser scrunched up his maw, showing his opinion on that.

“Ugh, they better not. I’m just as bad as ever!”

“Says-a the koopa who wanted to tell-a all da toads Luigi is-a his best friend.”

Bowser scoffed, putting an arm around his bud as he started steering him down the path– maybe someday actually getting to their destination.

“Is THAT what you got from that? I don’t recall nowhere in there sayin’ you were my best friend, lil’ man.”

“No,” Luigi countered, seeming to finally relax. “But you did say I’mma your hero.”

That made the king’s eyes shoot wide open– his eyebrows nearly flying off his face as he realized he did pretty much imply that to all of Toad Town. He growled in annoyance.

Crud , yer right.” It was then that the koopa spotted a hot dog vendor in the park, a single toad manning the cart on the very road they were heading down. Bowser jutted a thumb in its general direction as he continued. “There’s no way I could bribe ya into bein’ quiet ‘bout that with a hot dog, can I? Gotta reputation to keep , ya know.”

Luigi seemed to perk up at this, his attention fully on the king as he looked more like a pleading puppy.

Grazie a Dio , yes! I’mma starved!”

No doubt from hefting the magnificent sized king over his head and running across town, Bowser mused to himself. The least he could do was feed the runt, to get his strength back after the pre-work out. After all…

Sometimes the best thing to give a pal was an apology that’s easy to swallow.


I tried to get us to tennis. I tried. I am both amused and angry by this point. I hope whatever this is makes up for it. On the plus side, got my wife to groan over ending the chapter on a pun. Haha, life is grand.

PS: Luigi can canonically lift Bowser. Though in canon it's a part of the same charge up that Mario does with the whole tail spin. Considering he's usually said to be faster where Mario is stronger, I choose to believe pure anxiety made him hulk out.

Chapter 9: Rally Up the Defenses


The chapter in which tennis happens. Peach is done playing around.


Posted in celebration of Mario Day, 2023. WAHOO, everybody!

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

Yoo-hoo, boys~

Bowser didn’t know what he had been expecting when finally reaching the court, but he could safely say being koopa called wasn’t one of them. The king was finishing off the last of his dozen hot dogs when he nearly choked upon seeing Mario and Princess Peach from the other side of the divider, the latter waving her racquet in an enthusiastic greeting. It was Luigi who spoke up first, just as surprised as the koopa to see the two familiar– and unwanted – faces.

Parola mia ,” he whispered, resting a hand on Bowser’s arm. The human continued, blinking slowly in confusion, “what’s Big Bro and la principessa doing here? Mario never said-a anything aboutta plans for practice when I mentioned your visit.”

Of course he hadn’t. That would’ve given Luigi enough time to thwart his brother’s attempt to third-wheel on their outing. Surprise ambush was a classic strategy during times of war, and one Bowser was deeply familiar with- the question was why? The King wasn’t foolish enough to think his long-time rival had just up and forgiven him for the past. Heck, Bowser wasn’t exactly ready to be all buddy-buddy with the guy either! But after the whole chair situation , and having butt-out on their hangouts, he at least thought there was some sort of understanding between the two.

Bowser couldn’t help the growl that escaped him as he crushed the cardboard tray that had previously housed his pre-game snack, as he glared at the human on the court. Mario, that coward , didn’t even dare look him in the eyes as he instead fiddled with his shoelaces– looking everywhere but at the king. It was adding insult to injury, and Bowser didn’t even attempt to hide his anger as he ran up to them, digging his claws into the divider as he roared at the hero.

HEY , what’s the BIG IDEA?! What, spyin’ on us at home wasn’t ENOUGH for ya? Decided ya had t’keep your baby brother safe from the ‘ Tyrannical Turtle ’ in town, too?!”

The last bit was spat out in disgust, throwing back Mario’s long-time favorite put-down. The king watched as the smaller human cringed at this, at least showing some sort of shame over being called out on his shadiness. Bowser, even in his fury, had enough sense of his surroundings to hear Luigi crying out his name in alarm, nearing his side once more. It was enough of a calming presence that the smoke from the koopa’s nostrils ceased, a respite for Bowser to hear the princess speak.

“Actually, it was my suggestion.” Peach was all smiles, no doubt her way of disarming the situation. It was doing the trick, as the Koopa King felt his hunched shoulders relax, even as he continued to glare. Peach carried on, seemingly none the wiser to the change, as her blue eyes sparkled in a way that Bowser had found charming in the past.

“Mario just so happened to mention that you were coming to town to practice and it made me realize that since he and I are playing together next year, we also need the extra practice. “ She clapped eagerly, hopping up and down in place as her ponytail bounced along with her. “Doesn’t the four of us helping each other out sound wonderful?

“Yeah, just peachy ,” Bowser mocked sarcastically.

He would rather plunge himself into the icy depths of the Snow Kingdom’s ocean than have Mario hog the spotlight on what was supposed to be his and Luigi’s time together. Admittedly, he was ready to say as much, when it was his annoying rival that beat him to the punch.

Maybe we should jus’ come-a again some other time ,” Mario tried to appease, his smile stretched awkwardly under his raggedy mustache. This was enough to make Bowser raise a brow, swearing he was picking up something he wasn’t used to from the older plumber: lack of confidence . “C’mon, Peach, they don’t wanna hear anymore from us.”

The blonde princess appeared ignorant to her boy toy’s mood, as she carried on in the same cheerful fashion.

“Oh, but we haven’t even mentioned the most wonderful news! Why, your unexpected collaboration and zealousness over it has been quite infectious.” She paused to giggle, and Bowser couldn’t help but pass a glance at Luigi who seemed equally put-off by… whatever the heck was going on. Peach touched her cheek playfully, carrying on in her airy tones. “I want you two to be the first to know that we’ve come up with a team name of our own. Say hello to ‘the Power Players’!”

Any calm the Koopa King felt instantly vanished, as his claws clenched and carved holes in the metal fencing.

WHAT?! ” Bowser roared in astonishment from the audacity of it all, shaking the fence violently. “You stole that from us! TEAM NAMES WAS OUR IDEA!

This finally brought the blonde bimbo out of her perky mood, as she gasped at the accusation.

Oh no. It was inspired by you, not stolen. ” Peach’s brows furrowed together, looking all doe-eyed and apologetic. “Lord Bowser, I never meant to offend.”

It was Luigi’s turn to finally speak, no doubt sensing the awkward tension between the two groups.

It does kinda make it sound more fun ,” the plumber said softly. Bowser turned his head towards his tiny human pal, Luigi’s picking at his gloves sheepishly. “ È un po' eccitante , a little bit exciting too. Be nice to buy merchandise to support mio fratellone e amica ...”

The koopa watched Luigi silently, finding his inner flame settling to an ember as he mulled over the words. Usually such a deliberate disagreement would have made Bowser fume over mutiny– the act of somebody on his side betraying him from not readily agreeing with whatever he said. And yet, being around Luigi made the king soft; he couldn’t find it in himself to stay upset if his partner welcomed the idea. [ Sure, Bowser liked having something that was just theirs’, but he wasn’t going to say all THAT out loud. ] The competitive king would just have to double up the speed on production for their own merch, plastering the name of ‘ THE GREEN POWERHOUSE’ over any product he could possibly conceive.

Bowser ‘ tsked ’ through his teeth, turning his head away from the others as he pushed himself off of the dented divider.

KEEP the dumb name,” the koopa grumbled, resting a hand on his bud’s shoulder, beginning to steer Luigi away from the fence. “And the court too, fer that matter. Me n’ Weeg will jus’ go off n’ do something more worth our time. C’mon, Greenie, let’s scram!”

Luigi, for his part, didn’t seem to mind the man handling all too much-- only throwing a glance back at his brother and princess as he stiffly waved a feeble ‘ goodbye ’. The unlikely pair didn’t get too far before they were stopped by Peach calling out to them once more.

I command you to HALT !

Her tone was no longer airy, holding all the authority of royalty. It was enough of a surprise to cause the koopa and human to instantly obey, even as Bowser was getting worked up again from the demand. Whipping their heads around towards the princess, it was a bit unsettling seeing her void of all cheerfulness– pouty lips stretched in a stern grimace. The king noted his pal slinking back some, reigniting that fierce protective nature from earlier as the koopa took a large stomp forward.

“What is it NOW ? We’re gettin’ outta your hair, ain’t that whatcha wanted?

“What I want is you ,” Peach started, eyes now steely with determination. It was enough for the Koopa King to do a double take of his own, maw scrunched up as he and Luigi shared another look with each other. Okay… Bowser admittedly didn’t know how to take that. Was that a come-on? Wait, was Peach getting jealous about the fact he’d been spending so much time with Luigi? It was enough for Bowser’s insides to momentarily flutter.

Oh yeah? ” He purred, swooping back his fiery mane as he made his way closer towards the fence. “And why’s that, princess?”

Bowser didn’t get to live in his familiar fantasy for long, as the koopa was instantly rejected by her next words– crashing back into reality.

“For the treaty , of course.” Peach huffed, her frustration over the matter evident as her cool demeanor began to slip. “You’ve been ignoring my letters, Bowser. Which is a slight in its own right. Yet, then I hear the way you treated my advisor- surely if I had shown the same treatment to Kamek , we would have been at war by now. You must have enough sense to realize I’m cross with you.”

Bowser looked at her with a deadpan expression, failing to see why he should care.

“Yeah, and? When AREN’T you? This ain’t nothin’ new, toots.” The king crossed his arms in defiance. “What, you expecting an apology , or somethin’ ?”

As if that was gonna happen! The Toadstool Princess seemed to realize as much, as she smacked her tennis racquet into her hands in an authoritative manner.

No , I know you well enough that words won’t solve either of our current dilemmas. Which is why I wish to propose a challenge .

Now this intrigued the king. In all his years of dealing with the Mushroom Kingdom, never had the princess outright challenged him. Bargaining and begging , sure– but issuing a full on wager was unheard of. It was amusing enough that Bowser could feel a fang peeking out from his lips, his maw stretching in a smirk.

I’m listening.

“It’s a simple proposition: I request a two-on-two match.” The koopa watched as Peach extended a hand to gently rest it on Mario’s shoulder, giving it a light squeeze. “If Mario and I win, you must promise to make the time to return and go over permanent peace treaty agreements.”

Bowser wasn’t exactly keen on that wording, never a fan of having anybody boss him around. But, it was something his cranky old man had been hounding him about considering. Plus, nowhere in there did the princess say he had to AGREE on anything. ‘Go over’ was pretty vague in its own right, and left the king plenty of wiggle room to be a nuisance. Even without hearing what the toad was offering up in exchange, it wasn’t that bad of a deal.

It was to Bowser’s own surprise that it was Luigi who spoke up next, raising a gloved hand as if waiting to be called upon– getting everyone’s attention.

“What does-a Bowser get iffa we win?”

The emphasis on ‘we’ was enough to get the koopa feeling giddy, a smug satisfaction over being the one who’d been helping the little guy work up the nerve fueling his full-on fanged grin. Peach seemed equally pleased by this, her own smile returning as she addressed the plumber.

“If you win, I’ll never bother Lord Bowser about this matter again. He’ll be allowed to continue your visits, having free reign of the Mushroom Kingdom without interference.”

Bowser scoffed at this.

“What, you think ya got say on who yer people HANG with now? It’s a FREE COUNTRY !

“Actually, it’s not, ’ the princess retorted, her turn to be deadpan. “ My kingdom, my rules. I just so happen to be a lot more lenient than some rulers.”

ALRIGHT , that was it! Bowser had done an amazing job letting all the insults slide off him like lava on a koopa’s back– more so to not cause his lil’ buddy more stress. But THAT was the last straw. The idea that he treated his people like crud just because he wasn’t all palsy with his citizens was downright derogatory! Bowser couldn’t help the growl that erupted from him, startling everyone as he swooped up Luigi under his arms– pointing a claw at the challengers as he started making his way towards the gate of the court.

YOU’RE ON , SWEETHEART! You’re gonna regret them words from yer pretty lil’ mouth when me n’ Luigi are done sweeping the floor with ya!”

He’d show Peach. If she wanted a fight, he’d give her one. The koopa could feel his pal squirming under his arm, holding onto the duffel bag that had been bouncing with Bowser’s wide waddles. The human sighed in that way he did when he thought the king was doing something ridiculous, but otherwise said nothing else– face flushed all the while. Bowser raised a brow at this as he pushed in the gate, giving a violent swing.

“You got somethin’ ya wanna say, small fry?”

Nope , I would never.

It didn’t take long for the two teams to get ready– Bowser taking his racquet and making a stance closer to the net, claiming the right service box as his. Luigi, having finished putting on his sweat bands, followed his lead and took towards the back of their side of the court. Bowser nodded towards him in encouragement; he had watched his friend during the last tournament, noting his ability to slide all over the field with ease. If anything did manage to slip through the king’s defenses, having the little guy swoop in there with a return would really save their tails.

Admittedly, Bowser was surprised to see it was Peach who mirrored him on the court– giving a wave. It was once he noted Mario was serving did the plan make sense, as the plumber held up the ball and gestured towards the koopa.

“You ready, big guy?”

Bring it.

And with that, the ball was in play– Mario’s stroke soaring past the princess with a high velocity. Luckily, Bowser was prepared– having seen this play far too many times when he paired up with Junior for their matches. It was with a grunt he charged towards the other service box, backhanding the ball before it could touch the ground. He wasn’t at all surprised by this point that Peach and Mario had switched places, the human taking the front as the princess took the rear. It was a familiar dance, the two rivals challenging each other in a forceful rally– neither wanting to let the ball slip them by. Bowser could feel Luigi rushing back and forth behind him, no doubt wanting to be ready.

The time came as Mario’s next stroke had a bit of a spin, sailing by the tip of Bowser’s racquet. Red eyes shot open over the miscalculation, only to sigh in relief as his pal squeaked out a grunt– the ball soaring over his brother’s head– Peach having not been on the other side of the court to get to it fast enough. Bowser roared, throwing a thumbs up to the human behind him as they scored their first point.

THAT’S showin’ ‘em, Lue!”

Luigi couldn’t contain his grin, as Bowser happily took in the awkward finger guns his teammate gave him.

“Back atcha! Pew pew!

Grod, what an absolute nerd. But he was his nerd, the king took claim to him after all. Warmth didn’t last long, as it was interrupted by Mario calling back to them– ball in hand.

Real cute , but can-a I serve?”

Whenever ya want , pipsqueak. You’re the one hogging the ball!”

He apparently didn’t need to be told twice, as the older plumber served it back into play.

Thus the game continued for some time, rallying across the courts. Both teams were relatively evenly matched, Bowser begrudgingly had to admit, even if the princess and her loser hero had the advantage from years of playing with each other. The two practically danced around each other, passing along quick comments of ‘ you’re up! ’ whenever they changed positions. It was achingly saccharine, which only made Bowser’s blood boil. Knowing them, that could have been part of their plan! Annoying the koopa into letting his guard down.

Unfortunately it was working. Peach had just done a cartwheel from one end of the field to the other, her short skirt poofing out in a way that caught the koopa’s eye, as she lobbed the ball with a ‘hi-yaah!’ The thing soared over Bowser’s head, the king growling in surprise, only to see Luigi was still copying his position. The human at least snapped to attention without need for reprimanding, doing a dash to the far alley to try and hit the ball before it went out of play.

The keyword was ‘try’, as even the speed demon of a man wasn’t fast enough to catch it. Mario and Peach cheered, Luigi shrinking in on himself apologetically.

“S-sorry, Bowser.”

The Koopa King could only roll his eyes at this.

“So we’re tied– big whoop. Get yer cute lil’ rear in gear, and let’s pay ‘em back !”

The human’s heated face seemed to only grow redder from the teasing, causing Bowser to huff in amusement before turning back to face his opponents. He did note the confused looks from the team on the other side of the net, growling at them.


“Nothing!” Peach sing-songed.

And that was all that could be said as Luigi started the next play. The ball took air and distance, making their opponents follow it as they tried to gauge where it would land. It hit the ground, bouncing high enough that it required Mario to do one of his power-up jumps to reach it. Time seemed to slow down as the guy aimed, Bowser doing a spinning shell dash as he estimated where the hero would fire it off. With a roar the koopa erupted from his shell, his feet landing on the ground just in time for his racquet to make contact. The ball slammed into Mario’s chest, scoring the Green Powerhouse the point.

Bowser laughed triumphantly. Consider it payback for the last time the runt went and tried that shifty move on him during the tournament!

Fratellone!” Luigi called from behind the koopa. A quick glance over his shell showed the younger Mario Brother was concerned, mouth covered by his hand. It seemed he was ready to drop his racquet and run up to the man, before Mario stopped him with a raise of his hand.

Nnn, don’t worry Weegee. Da koopa’s given me worse.”

Reassurances, however, didn’t hide the fierce stare behind his eyes– Bowser swearing he saw a flash of flames momentarily swallowing his icy blues. Mario chuckled, bouncing the ball a few times as his gaze never left his larger rival.

“So, we-a playin’ koopa rules then, I see.”

It felt like it was supposed to be a jab, though not a great one. The king squared himself up, letting his full height show.

“‘Course, only makes sense. How ELSE would the King of all Koopa’s play?”

“Mmm, fair point, tartaruga . I’mma game for that.”

And he had been, too, as it wasn’t long after that Mario shot the ball straight into Bowser’s chest– there was enough force that friction scorched the court. He only had enough time to catch himself before his shell made contact with Luigi– throwing himself forward so as not to risk his pal getting stabbed by a spike. Luigi gasped, running towards his teammate and gently placing a hand on his shell, just as Bowser lifted his head to glare daggers across the net. If looks could kill, Mario would have dropped dead on the spot.

“Hey! WATCH IT! Ya coulda taken Luigi’s eye out!”

“He is fine,” Mario said with a dismissive wave. “‘Sides, sapevo che ti saresti fermato in tempo. You gotta the moves to dodge just aboutta anything, no?”

NO! Wait… yes? Awkward phrasing aside, it was kinda a compliment? Maybe? The king grunted as he made his way back to his feet, hands slamming onto the ground before pushing himself up. Bowser wasn’t going to let either Mario or Peach get in his head.

Whatever . I don’t NEED your flattery; it’s our serve!

Grabbing the ball from the ground, the thing just peacefully sitting there as if it hadn’t been used as a weapon against the king, Bowser looked at Luigi– gesturing for him to take the front with a jerk of his head. He blinked before catching on, grabbing his visor and running off into position. Bowser bounced the thing a few times, eyes locked with Mario’s as he felt smoke tickling the back of his throat and nostrils.

The king was done playing with these chumps, he was getting serious. To the point he let out a mighty roar, fire licking his tongue as he threw the ball into the air, his racquet making a loud ‘TWACK!’ as it made contact. This was it, the final showdown. The koopa was in the zone. And when he was in the zone, he was a paramount of focus and might.

There was absolutely no way, Underwhere be his witness , that Bowser was going to let Mario beat him again!

Mario had beaten him.


Bowser’s head felt like it was spinning, huffing as he tried to catch his breath. The ball had been flying back and forth for what felt like ages, and each round the koopa had been whipping and lobbing like no tomorrow. That had ultimately been their downfall, as it was misplaced exertion, making the koopa slower. Luigi, as fast as the little fella was, apparently didn’t have the same stamina as his brother. It was only a matter of time before they were knocked down round after round, their opponents looking like they could keep going until the very heat death of the universe.

[Which COULD be a lot sooner if SOMEBODY would just let a certain hot king blow up some suns!]

That thought, however, was interrupted as Mario approached Bowser and Luigi, chuckling in that annoyingly smug way of his.

“Ey, notta bad game! You two, you’re workin’ pretty good-a together already!”

It was Luigi who was panting from the ground that responded.

G-grazi, Big Bro.” His hand shaking with the rest of him, he still put in the effort to smile and give his brother a thumbs up. It would have been endearing if the guy didn’t look like he was about to pass out on the spot. Bowser grumbled, feeling around his shell for his water bottle, before thrusting it as his partner next to him.

.:Come Be Lonely With Me:. - DarkwingSnark (19)

Drink. You’re dying.”

An exaggeration, sure. But they’d been playing for over an hour, both sides being too competitive to stop and take care of themselves. Besides , Bowser assured himself, it was just paying Luigi back. He bucketed his thirst last time, passing along the Kingly bottle as a total upgrade! Fair trade, and then some!

Luigi hesitated for a moment, looking between the bottle and the koopa it belonged to. He finally settled on reaching out, and it was obvious to see where the hesitancy came from. It was a struggle for the guy to hold, the bottle being as large as his head. Still, with a strength and determination nobody knew where it came from, he hefted the thing over his head and drank eagerly. Once the plumber had his fill, he sighed dramatically, eyes lazily looking up at Bowser with gratitude.

“Thank you, amico caro. I needed that.”

Bowser grunted in reply, snatching his bottle back so he could have his own fill. The two humans talked to each other in gibberish, giving the koopa the cue to zone out as he watched the two. Mario certainly acted more like an overbearing parent, as he found a rag from his own duffle bag and began dabbing at Luigi’s face. Bowser couldn’t help his snort of amusement, thinking he looked just like his kids when they had food all over them. The way Greenie squinted, attempting to push the older man away as he squealed out unknown words. He didn’t have to know human-speak to know Luigi was flustered, and Bowser allowed himself the moment to drink up the scene.

Unfortunately, when it came to the King of All Koopas, good things never seemed to last. It was with a startled ‘GRAH!’ that he was jolted from his thoughts, as something was slapped against his tail. A startled spin in place showed it was Peach behind him, holding up a large leather briefcase. She had that chipper air about her once more, looking as if she hadn’t just assaulted the king.

“That was so much fun, I’m glad we were finally able to play– just the four of us.” The bubbly giggling ended with a sigh. Upon opening her eyes once more the familiar steeliness from earlier had returned. “But a deal’s a deal, and I have the paperwork for you to look over right here.”

She held up the briefcase higher with a smile, somehow finding a way to gently shove it into Bowser’s arms. The koopa’s brows shot upwards, eyes darting from the bag to the princess in succession.

“Wait, you had this on you THE WHOLE TIME?!

“Of course,” she responded cheerfully, tilting her head in a way that made her pretty ponytail sway lightly in the breeze. “I did mention I’ve been trying to reach you. Seemed only reasonable to be prepared once we crossed paths.”

Meaning she had planned out the bet since the start. Bowser blinked slowly, truly looking over the princess in a way that inspired both fear and admiration. He knew of her hidden temper, but to see her be so conniving and calculating? If he needed confirmation that Peach would make a perfect koopa mate, then that alone would be enough to prove it. Grod, how he wouldn’t mind seeing her commanding his armies…

Bowser was snapped out of his thoughts as Peach smacked her racquet in her hand once more. She smiled in a way the king was starting to think wasn’t very genuine, even as she kept on the cutesy airs.

“Oh, one more thing before Mario and I get out of your hair– I do want you to enjoy the rest of your afternoon together, after all.”

By this point Luigi and his brother had finally joined them, and as if on instinct his pal touched his arm lightly– no doubt getting the vibes that something wasn’t right. Just in time for Peach to whip her pink racquet and lightly touch the briefcase in Bowser’s hands– a playful ‘boop’ that did not make her seem any less intimidating. The princess carried on, seemingly none the wiser to how uncomfortable the King was feeling.

“I also prepared for any potential accidents, should they occur. Life on an airship can be quite dangerous at times, and I wouldn’t want you to lose such precious cargo.”

Admittedly, the thought of throwing the papers off the deck had occurred to Bowser– not that he planned on saying that as she was in scary babe mode. Peach giggled, the koopa starting to get freaked out by the idea that she was reading his thoughts.

But no worries ,” Peach sang with a tone that could put the siren call of a lochlady to shame, “I had Toadsworth send a copy to Kamek this morning, and my messenger should be at your castle right. About. Now.” Her racquet punctuated the pauses, sending a shiver up the koopa’s spine. “I’m sure your advisor will be more than happy to go over everything with you, as well as send along a date for our meeting. Any further questions before we head off?”

Bowser swallowed slowly.

Uh… No?

“Wonderful! Then I’ll be seeing you real soon, toodaloo boys~

The Koopa King watched as Mario gave his bro a final pat on the arm and a ‘ see ya late r’, before picking up both his and the princess’ bags. Peach seemed light as air as she and her hero began chatting about nothing of note– talking about being famished after a good workout. Yet, Bowser could only stare as he felt frozen in place, eyes glued on the woman who had constantly broken his heart time and time again, and the magic spell she seemed to have on him.

It was some time before he realized Luigi had been trying to get his attention. A snap to his side showed the human looking up at him with those big concerned blues of his– looking so much warmer after the icy reception he’d just received. Bowser blinked slowly as his bud gently stroked the scales on his hands.

“Bowser… you good?

“Yeah, no… It’s nothin’ .” The king sighed, feeling his maw stretch as all the tension left him with a hearty chuckle. “Man, did you see how TERRIFYING Peach was? Was that HOT or what?

Bowser’s laughter only grew at the human’s scandalous gasp. Luigi swatted at him playfully, scolding him for having such thoughts about the princess. If it was supposed to be a buzzkill, then Luigi really sucked at it– the content warmth spreading over the koopa as he snorted from his nose.

As ridiculous as the day had been, Bowser wouldn’t have changed a thing.


Not gonna lie, this chapter drained me. Partially from trying to get it ready in time for Mario Day, partially because a lot had to happen in this chapter. The fact it took 2,000 words just to get to tennis happening, hooo boooy. Going to give myself a day or two to rest before working on the next chapter.

Snark is le tired.

Chapter 10: Reaching a Vantage Point


Luigi makes his way to visit the Koopa Kingdom. On his way there, an old friend decides to check in.


(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

.:Come Be Lonely With Me:. - DarkwingSnark (20)

Luigi couldn’t help himself as he sighed in contentment– marveling at the smokey red hues of the sky– the nearing autumn chill of the Mushroom Kingdom having vanished once he entered the Koopa Kingdom. Just on the horizon the man could see the volcanic domain of Lord Bowser– black clouds circling the peak like a curtain, shunning out all those unworthy of its king. In the past a trip to the Dark Lands had been rife with ominous dread– knowing that around any corner koopa soldiers could be cloaked and waiting in ambush. But now? Merely a new place to explore, as the Italian couldn’t help but make note of the different wild flowers along the main road as he was finally allowed the opportunity to literally stop and smell the roses.

And he was doing just that when he was startled out of his mindful solitude by the sudden ringing of his phone. A lively melody hummed from his overalls, as a quick glance at the screen showed a familiar image of himself and the caller. Beaming softly, Luigi adjusted the strap of his bag as he answered.

“Yello, principessa.

Yo,” the voice practically yelled into Luigi’s ear, “you at Bowser’s place yet?”

As always, his dear friend Daisy was blunt and to the point. While most found it abrasive, the Italian couldn’t help but appreciate the lack of uncertainty and waffling nature of most niceties. [Even if his own feelings wouldn’t mind a bit more of a cushion from her lashing opinions at times.]

Luigi smirked all the same.

“No, not yet. I’mma almost to the souvenir shop atta the fork in the road.”

“So you got time to chat then, cool cool.” Luigi could practically hear the princess shifting in her seat, the crinkling of her beanbag telling him she was in her bedroom and off the clock. It was with a forced and dramatic sigh that Daisy started up once more: “Though, gotta say, don’t know why Bowser didn’t just connect the warp pipe directly from your place to his castle. Would make commuting a heck of a lot easier t’have guy time.”

Daisy was referring to the warp pipe ‘ Super Mario Bros. Plumbing ’ recently finished constructing, paid for on behalf of Bowser [with the Mushroom Kingdom’s blessing, of course]. It had been a byproduct of the peace treaty officially established between the two kingdoms, both ends connecting right outside their capitals.

Luigi rolled his eyes, glad he was alone and nobody could witness the immature act.

“Don’t be silly, Zee. Nobody is-a gonna spend thatta much coin on a pipe per uso privato .”

The Sarasaland Princess always seemed to have a knack for getting the general gist of things, as she scoffed from the other end.

I would . Bet his spoopiness would too if ya only gave him the word.” This was followed by a laugh, as Luigi could hear her teasing without needing to see her smug expression. “He’s been kinda collared since you guys became all buddy-buddy . Not even anything from other kingdoms ‘bout him startin’ beef. What, you got that big nasty koopa wrapped ‘round your whittle fingy or somethin’?”

The plumber was coming up on the fork in the road, momentarily stopping to allow the beauty of the jade rooftops in the valley that made Koopa Village wash over him. Shame there wasn’t time to explore, though Luigi would make a note to do so in the future. He exhaled slowly, finally addressing the princess as Luigi turned onto the road leading to Vista Hill– the volcanic terrain that led up to Bowser’s Keep.

Non è così – notta like that, an’ you know it.” He humphed for good measure, lifting his chest in defensiveness [despite knowing the act wouldn’t be seen]. “Bowser commissioned the warp pipe-a to make-a da transit easy for his people. He n’ Peach been sending workers back and forth from-a the kingdoms, so it only made sense. Bowser’s been good all on-a his own!

So there.

The fiery red-headed tirfa snorted at this.

Dude , I was joking. I know cuz’ been busy ironing out deals with ‘im. Place is rich with all sorts of minerals, it’s why pops got us cozied up to Bowser too.

Luigi could hear more rustling, before a loud crunch met his ear– the princess having popped some sort of treat into her mouth. She continued speaking even as she chewed.

“Question is: what’s it gonna take to get you cozied up in big Bowsie-Wowsie’s arms~

The innuendo was enough to make the Italian gasp, his hand having accidentally let go of the phone in the process. He couldn’t help the squeaks that escaped him as he fumbled to catch his phone before it hit the ground, hearing Daisy’s hysterical laughter all the while. Luigi’s ears burned from how badly he was blushing, glaring at the device. The string of italian that came from him only made the laughing worse.

Amica mio, che mi mostra tali abusi. La tua sfacciataggine, signorina! ” Oh, how could a friend like her tease him so? “If ya weren’t-a principessa , I’d… I’d box yer ears!” Whether this was true didn’t matter much, as Luigi pouted. “Almost made me drop the phone, Zee...”

Aww ,” Daisy cooed, making the Italian sink deeper into the collar of his turtleneck from embarrassment, “I didn’t realize you’d get so worked up, L. I was mostly joshin’.” A pause, and Luigi couldn’t help the dread as the princess took a moment to breathe. “I say ‘ mostly ’ though, ‘cus he seems to be ridin’ the Luigi train pretty hard these days. I’m telling ya, he’s into you.”

The Italian continued his trek up the mountain, in the near distant cliffs spotting koopas and toads working together. From there he could only make out vague details of what looked like Captain Toad rallying the group, as they marked out places for miners to strike. It was a lovely sight, all things considered, to see both sides giving peace a chance and able to put their decades of history aside.

Even so, Luigi found himself losing his hopeful smile as his thoughts drifted back to the conversation.

You said-a the same thing about Prince Peasley too, if I recall.

This earned him a huff from the phone.

“Okay, so I was wrong ONE time. Not my fault the guy couldn’t look outta his reflection long enough to see you had the hots for him. ” This last bit was slurred in a quick mutter, no doubt her pride at reading people taking a hit. Daisy went on with her usual confidence, pushing that matter aside. “But I’m right about Bowser! Bros don’t call each other ‘cute’ every chance they get.”

“I call you cute n’ pretty all the time,” Luigi countered, feeling like that alone should prove his point. He didn’t see what was wrong with it, as he also thought the koopa was adorable in his own ways. And handsome– as it was the only equivalent word for ‘pretty’ at his disposal for Bowser– his muscles and hulking figure making him assume the rest of the koopa race thought the same about their king.

This had been the wrong call, however, as Luigi felt a chill run through him at her next words.

“Oh, and were YOU talking about my butt, too?”

Did she want him to die? Because that’s what was going to happen as the man had to catch himself from stumbling over his own two feet, his brain hiccuping from pure mortification.

DAISY! ” He cried out, not believing what he heard. Luigi continued to trip over his words, even as he began to whisper into the phone. “I… I wouldn’t– Non si parla così delle donne. Not nice to talk aboutta ladies that way. It’s-a rude !

The Sarasaland princess didn’t give him wiggle room to apologize, as she pounced once more.

Point is: even if Bowser’s been pullin’ your leg, it also means he’s been lookin ’. Not that all of you isn’t cute, hun, but your butt wouldn’t be the first thing I’d point out.”

Nor would Luigi want that, either. Not that it isn’t flattering the ‘cute’ part that is – but Daisy was looking at this all wrong. Bowser was used to equating small beings with his children and soldiers; and while the man couldn’t say it was fact, he had the suspicion that there might have been some sort of biological factor at play with how protective the king got with his hovering. Though maybe that was just a Bowser thing, in general– the man also had a possessive streak a mile long and the pride to match it. Making anything he happened to like seem extra valuable.

[It wouldn’t have been the first time Luigi compared Bowser to dragons from his world, nor did it feel like it would be the last.]

In any case, their friendship was simply like that. Bowser had always been charming and making unintentional innuendos, it didn’t feel like it had been more lately. Well, except for when the koopa was ready to shout at all of Toad Town about how amazing he thought the human was, ready to burn the place to the ground. And despite it being sparked from anger at the toads’ behavior, it was nice to feel treasured by somebody. That didn’t mean there had to be anything more than that.

Besides, there was a massive hole in Daisy’s theory…

“But Bowser is-a still thinkin’ of-a Princess Peach,” the Italian insisted, “ he said she was attraente – er, ‘ hot ’ after our match with-a her an’ mio fratellone . So, you can’t-a be right.”

Well ,” Daisy began slowly, “ WAS she being hot?”

Luigi was ready to crawl under a rock and stop existing for a while. Maybe even throw his phone into the mouth of the volcano, just so he could stop whatever was happening currently.

Please don’t make-a me say that. ” He groaned, burying his face into his gloved hand. “I dunno– she was-a being very scary. Come se lo minacciasse , uh, threatening. Very angry at Bowser for-a ignoring her.”

Daisy hummed at that description of her cousin, and Luigi hated that he could practically hear her nodding in finality.

“Oh yeah, SUPER hot then. No wonder Bowser was into that– he’s all about intimidation an’ junk.

I’m hangin’ up now, ” Luigi muttered, absolutely done with the conversation. Before he could do much of anything, the tirfa princess cried out for him to stop.

WAIT! Dude, I swear I got a point to this. I’m just sayin’ not to think in absolutes. One thing existing doesn’t exclude the existence of another, ya feel me? Nothing’s stoppin’ him from finding you BOTH attractive!”

Except for the fact, by her own logic, the plumber wouldn’t be Bowser’s type. Nothing about Luigi was intimidating– ghosts even thought he was a joke, all while being the only known successful ghost hunter in the world. The king, himself, had even confirmed that koopa culture thrived on passion and anger. Bowser would be more likely to be attracted to his brother, if you wanted to lay it out all like that!

That thought, however, made Luigi queasy for unknown reasons– momentarily stopping him in his tracks as he hitched his breath. Luigi moaned softly, momentarily sitting on the nearest rock ledge that could hold him as he tried to find his bearings. He must have been louder than he thought, as Daisy broke the silence.

“Bro, you good?”

S-si… Dev'essere l'altitudine – um, altitude sickness?”

At least he was pretty sure that was what was happening, as he opened up his duffle bag to pull out his water bottle. Luigi was tempted to break out one of the treats he had prepared for Bowser and his family, just to see if maybe it was a sugar issue. In the end decided against it, as the man didn’t feel right stealing a part of his hospitality gift. Besides, he was starting to feel better already! Maybe he was just dehydrated and tired? A sound enough theory as any, as he took another swig of water for good measure– sighing into the phone.

“Sorry, Zee. Gotta sick for-a moment there. Must-a been a thirsty boy, is all.” He followed this with a chuckle, which he was surprised to hear the princess share with him.

“Ya know, L, you make it so easy sometimes.

“Make what easy?” He asked, genuinely curious. This only caused Daisy to laugh all the more.

“Settin’ me up with a ‘that’s what she said’ joke.”

That, of course, didn’t clear anything up. In fact, it caused more confusion.

“That’s what who said? What’re we talkin’ about?

The groan he received from the phone told Luigi he had certainly missed something, as he could hear the desert princess sliding in her chair.

“Ugh, nevermind. You Mario Brothers act like geriatric grandpas, you know that?”

“S-sorry?” The plumber responded, more so out of habit than actually feeling it. Daisy sighed.

It’s whatever. Jus’ remind me t’take ya to New Donk sometime so you can learn more slang from your people. Hard to make fun of ya if you don’t even get the joke!” Before Luigi could voice an opinion on that one way or another, there was another crunch as Daisy changed the subject.

“Mmm, how far didja get? Smell the sulfur yet?”

He did, though it wasn’t something that necessarily bothered him. Being a plumber made one grow used to some nose blindness, and it wasn’t exactly worse than sewage. Still, a squint up ahead made Luigi lean forward.

“Looks like-a I’m almost to the bridge.” Meaning he was getting close to where Bowser’s land began. It was this thought that gave the man a burst of energy, zipping up his bag before jumping to his feet. “I’m gonna go, okey? Tell you how things went later?”

While phrased as a question, it was a promise. He knew his friend was a gossip, and Luigi could easily admit it had been nice to have something juicy enough to share for a change. As well as have somebody who wouldn’t mind actually listening to him talk about the Koopa King– Mario easily having his limits. Daisy perked up over her BFF’s words.

“You better! I’m expecting all the deats, bestie. Love ya!”

Addio, principessa.

And just like that silence greeted Luigi once more– a nice breather after the burst of energy Daisy could be. The Italian couldn’t help but shake his head at her ridiculousness, allowing himself to think about the conversation as he made it to the top of Vista Hill. When one treated life as their personal soap opera, he supposed it was easy for others to find romantic drama around every bend. The very idea of Bowser being into him in that way was enough to get a smile out of him all the same. No, the Sarasaland princess had just been looking too deeply into things. They were just two lonely men who found friendship in each other, and Luigi was more than happy with the outcome. He didn’t need to sit around and dream of ‘what ifs’-- no reason to let his mind ruminate over possibilities that couldn’t exist. Luigi had learned his lesson on these matters.

Still… It wasn't a terrible thought, was it? He could already remember the eagerness Bowser showed at the idea of stealing him away from their lives for a trip to the beach. And he’d seen some of the displays the draconic turtle had made towards the princess– being swept off his feet and treated to the finest: it didn’t sound half bad! You know… after you already agreed to being okay with kidnapping. A plumber missing for a couple of days wasn’t as earth shattering as the ruler of an entire kingdom being snatched as a political hostage– nor was his schedule exactly packed in the same way either. And admittedly, just the very thought that Bowser wanted to take him away from his troubles was enough to make Luigi’s cheeks grow warm in a way that couldn’t be blamed on the volcanic mouth he’d just happened upon.

Like he said, not a terrible thought whatsoever.

Luigi sighed, shaking his head as he climbed the steps of the red wooden bridge- allowing his eyes to travel down into the pool of lava under him as the bridge arched its way across. The color of the molten rock made the man think of the Koopa King’s eyes– the way the red would glisten with a spark of bright yellow when the light hit it just right. It was breathtaking in its own way, even as the intense heat reminded him just how dangerous it was to be around something that could easily destroy him. Just one wrong move, and poor defenseless Luigi would slip into its hold– burned away until there was nothing of him left.

The fact he didn’t know if he was talking about the lava anymore meant nothing in the end. All the man knew was that he had to keep pushing forward– over the moat and towards the dragon’s den.

After all… Bowser was waiting.


Things got away from me once more, as I really need to stop underestimating characters want to tease the hell out of Luigi. Because of that, and spending the last week in-and-out of feeling sick, posting this as its own scene.

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