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Gift for Bowser

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“Are you sure about this?” Luigi asked with a raised eyebrow for probably the tenth time since Mario had brought the idea up.

“Of course I am,” Mario said with a casual grin as he pulled on his winter coat even though he wasn’t at all sure about this. Getting a Xmas gift for Bowser wasn’t something he’d ever done before even if he had considered it a few times, most often as a joke but this time it wasn’t. “He’s been really good lately, he deserves a reward.”

Ever since Bowser’s sole goal in kidnapping Peach was luring Mario to his castle for a rematch had been publicly outed and broadcasted everywhere, mocking him for his obsession, he’d kept low, showing no sign of himself anywhere in the Mushroom Kingdom. He hadn’t even participated in the karting Grand Prix this year which was rather unlike him. As a result of all this, it had been a while since Mario had last seen him which was nice but… weird.

“Yeah but… do you have to deliver it personally?” Luigi asked he followed Mario out to the car.

“Well it’s a bit too late to mail it.” It was Xmas Eve morning, the Lakitu mail service wasn’t running for obvious reasons.

Luigi frowned. “You bought it a week ago though. You could’ve mailed it then like I thought you were going to.”

Mario shrugged as he slid into the driver’s seat of his car. He’d waffled a lot on whether or not he’d wanted to send it even after buying it and had only decided firmly that he was going to do it last night after it was already too late to mail it. So he would drive down there, give it to Bowser, maybe exchange some words to see what was up with him, and then come back home to spend whatever was left of the day and tomorrow with friends and family.

“I’ll see you in a few hours bro, don’t worry,” he said, closing the door before Luigi could try to talk him out of it or protest any further. The annoyed look Luigi gave him as he backed out of the driveway made him feel kind of guilty but… whatever, Luigi would get over it. He was just worried and maybe had a right to be since Mario was going to see Bowser. But everything should be fine, even if things didn’t go well, Mario had never lost to Bowser before.

 

Unsurprisingly, surrounded by lava pools and active volcanoes, Bowser’s Kingdom was warm even in the dead of winter. Mario shed his jacket well before reaching the castle itself. It was nice though; he’d always preferred being hot over cold.

Unsure of what kind of welcome he’d get, he parked outside the castle walls, angling his car so it’d be pointed away. He doubted he’d need to make a fast getaway but it was better to be safe than sorry.

By some miracle the portcullis was down, allowing him to stride right into the castle grounds, giftbox in hand. He was stopped by a trio of goomba guards.

“Halt right there,” one of them said.

“Go no further,” another added.

“Or else,” the third finished.

When Mario did as they commanded they froze, turning a bit to exchange a three-way nervous look. They clearly hadn’t expected their order to be obeyed and had no idea what to do next.

“Uh… I come in peace,” Mario said, putting on a smile. “I have a gift for Bowser.” He gestured it with it.

There was a long silence before one of them spoke again. “Uh… you wait right here, we have important matters to discuss.” With that they scampered off a short distance and huddled in to mutter amongst themselves.

Assuming the doors were unlocked, Mario could stride right in. He wouldn’t though even if dealing with all this was a pain because it might be taken as a hostile move and he didn’t want that. So he waited for several minutes while the goombas discussed things. One eventually ran off into the castle.

“We sent word to Bowser that you’re here,” “so stay right here,” the other two goombas said as they returned to glare at Mario in a poor attempt at being intimidating.

Mario sighed, resigning himself to waiting. Luckily it was only a few short minutes before the goomba guard returned, huffing and puffing from the run.

“Lord Bowser has agreed to meet you in the throne room,” they said to Mario as they stepped aside to let him enter. “Hustle, he doesn’t like to be kept waiting.”

Inside the castle was noticeably cooler than outside, still quite warm though. The way to the throne room from the main entrance was short but surprisingly bustling with goombas, shy guys, koopatroopas, and the other kinds of minions Bowser employed. Based off their muttering and the way they were all looking at Mario, news of him being here had already spread. Not surprising; back at Peach’s castle within minutes of an interesting person’s arrival every Toad living on the grounds knew of it, why wouldn’t it be the same here? Mario acted as if he here were unconcerned as he strode past them and into the throne room.

Bowser stood in the middle of the room and glared at Mario as he came in. “Why are you here?” he asked as soon as the door was shut and before Mario could try to say anything.

“I brought you a gift,” he replied as he strode closer, hiding his nervousness behind a mask of nonchalance.

“Why?”

“Xmas is tomorrow so Merry Xmas.” He smiled as he stopped right in front of Bowser, holding the gift towards him. He’d wrapped in shiny gold paper with a fancy bow on top and a big tag that read ‘to BOWSER’ on it.

Bowser leaned forward to give a it a good look but didn’t reach for it. “What is it?”

“You’ll have to open it to find out.” Mario had thought long and hard on what to get him before settling on a statue depicting a serpent like dragon wrapped around a crumbling stone tower. He’d known Bowser long enough to know he liked decorative items, especially if they had a dangerous feel to them.

“It’s a trap, isn’t it?” Bowser said taking a step back. “It’s probably a… cloud of poison gas or something, right? You’re trying to kill me.”

Mario shook his head to hold back a chuckle because that was just ridiculous. “No, it’s a gift I think you’ll you like. Take it.” He stepped forward, pushing it towards Bowser again.

After a long pause Bowser finally reached out to take it, giving Mario a skeptical look the whole time. He held it away from himself as he gave it a small shake as if he were afraid it might explode on him. “It’s… an Xmas gift?”

“Yep so you can’t open it until tomorrow. It’s safe though I promise.”

“Why did you feel the need to deliver it by hand then?”

“I uh… waited a bit too long to do my Xmas shopping and well I didn’t think it’d arrive in time so I decided to just bring it to you instead.”

Bowser grunted as he gave the box another shake. Hopefully he wouldn’t be too violent with it, though quite sturdy Bowser could probably break it even by accident. “Why get me a gift though? It doesn’t make sense.”

“There’s nothing wrong with spreading a little Xmas cheer around. Don’t worry about getting me anything in return either, I don’t except anything.”

“Good because I didn’t get you anything nor am I going to.”

Well Mario had been hoping for a bit more friendliness but he hadn’t really expected it so this was fine. “All right. It’s been good seeing you. Merry Xmas.” He gave Bowser a smile and a thumbs up before striding back towards the door. He didn’t let himself look back, choosing to trust Bowser not to do anything nefarious. And… he didn’t, Mario made it all the way to door without even a single comment from him.

As he started to pull it open Bowser muttered something behind him that sounded an awful lot like, “Merry Xmas.” He wasn’t entirely sure though so with a grin, he turned around.

“What was that?”

Bowser groaned, glaring off to the side. “I said ‘Merry Xmas’. … And uh… thanks for the gift or whatever, I guess. Now get out of here. I’m sure we both got better places to be then hovering around here and trying to have an awkward conversation.”

He was right so… Mario gave him one smile before leaving. That had gone surprisingly well all things considered, certainly better than he’d expected even if not as good as he’d hoped. Maybe Mario would endeavor to see him again for a proper chat later, it might even be fun.