It was a bright sunny day in Toad Town's main square, and the people were caught up in the hustle and bustle of their daily routines. People were going about their business, doing their shopping and taking care of other errands, getting back to their work after their lunch hour came to an end, children off from school playing in the carefree manner that summer brings. In the crowded streets there was one person who, despite the diversity of all the people present, seemed to stand out from all the rest. He was a young Beanish man wearing clothes that were much too heavy for the summer heat. His face was mostly obscured by a medical mask save for his green eyes that sat behind a large pair of glasses. Still, he only seemed to be out of place in the manner that he was clearly foreign, not in a manner that would make him seem like a threat.
The masked bean made his way into a general store and began to look over the food stock set up just by the entranceway. The shopkeeper noticed him and, with a friendly smile, approached him. "Hey there, Lentil," he said happily. "Good to see you again. How've things been? Still feeling under the weather, I take it?"
"Oh, hello," Lentil said, waving to the shopkeeper. "Yeah, I've been a bit out of it the past few days. My brother was here yesterday, wasn't he? Didn't he tell you?"
"Ah yes, he did," the shopkeeper said. "So, what can I do for ya?"
"Fava forgot some things when he was here yesterday," Lentil laughed. "He always does that, the goof. I just wanted to get what he missed, and...maybe something extra..." He stared at the rack of candies by the checkout as he said this last bit.
"Well, take your time getting what you need," the shopkeeper said.
Lentil did exactly that, and as he brought his goods up to pay he counted the money he had brought and, figuring he had enough to spare, grabbed a chocolate bar and added it to the purchase. As he gathered his goods in a bag and turned to leave, the shopkeeper stopped him. "Y'know, Lentil, I've been meaning to ask either you or Fava something for a while," he said.
"What's that?" Lentil asked.
"Well, I don't mean to pry, but I'm just curious," the shopkeeper said. "What brought you boys to the Mushroom Kingdom, anyway? We don't get many Beanbean immigrants, after all."
Lentil was silent. His eyes shifted to the floor and he backed away slightly. "I...er..."
The shopkeeper shook his head. "If you don't wanna tell me, you don't have to," he said. "It's not my place to get into people's personal business, after all. Have a good day, okay?"
"You too," Lentil said as he left the store. As he ran down the crowded streets, his medical mask could only hide the majority of his expression, the rest of it present in his eyes.
The wide, maniacal grin of someone who was absolutely confident that no one knew who he really was.
Living in a cave is weird. That is to say, for someone who doesn't have any other option, living in a cave is pretty weird. However, for those who don't really have much choice, a cave might be a decent place to stay for a while. Especially if you're incredibly resourceful, and the cave you're staying in happens to be near an easily jacked source of power and internet.
The bean slid down the slope leading to his temporary lodging with his supplies, pulling off the thick hooded jacket, knitted hat, and medical mask once he was out of view from the outside. He took off his glasses, placing them near a rather haphazardly put together computer setup and grabbing a contact lens case. He took the contact lenses out of his eyes, one clear and one red, and put them into the case. He then took a small screwdriver to his glasses and loosened the frames around the lenses, popped them out, and replaced the lenses with much thicker ones, a spiral-pattern visible on the front.
His disguise removed for the day, Fawful laughed quietly to himself. Two months was a long time to keep up not just one, but two false identities, and he had been able to pull it off with relative ease. He was surprised with himself; surely someone would've seen through at least one of his disguises, right? Then again, those foolish Toads had been so keen on trying his "special" mushrooms even with the obvious pattern of people becoming infected with Blorbs, so it probably wasn't such a stretch to assume they were gullible enough to believe that he was actually two people based on the type of attire and colored contacts he was wearing. It helped that he was able to suppress his normal—well, normal for him—speech patterns while being either "Lentil" or "Fava".
He booted up the computer in front of him, its screen casting a friendly glow over his face. The power company had somehow never noticed that there was an unauthorized connection added roughly two months ago, aside from perhaps a minor brownout in the immediate area. Neither did the cable internet provider to the suburban neighborhood just above the cave he had taken to living in, though the fact that he had installed his offshoot while the maintenance crew had been in the area to install new connections anyway more than likely had something to do with it.
With everything started up, it was time to once again try and get his life back on track. First things first, a job search. After the incident with the man in green, the first thing he had done was return to the space in the sewers of Peach's castle that he had once called a home away from home. As he expected, his absence had taken its toll on the room once known as Fawful's Bean-n-Badge. What wasn't looted or vandalized was ruined by mold and other nasty sewer things. Somehow there had been a small handful of Beanbean Kingdom coins left behind, having been hidden in case of emergency when he was still a constant presence in the former shop. Getting it changed into Mushroom Kingdom coins had, predictably due to the highly fluctuating exchanged rate, had provided him with a small boon, but after two months this boon was starting to become closer to a pittance, even with his careful budgeting.
Out of curiosity, he also decided to do a search on high-alert criminals. Despite the success his disguises had had, he wanted to be able to be Fawful in public again, not just in hiding as he roamed the streets as two fictional brothers. Sometimes he felt he should also try to concoct some plan of revenge, to do a little kingdom conquering again, but...he just didn't have the heart for it anymore. "Green mustache of stupidness," he murmured to himself. "He had leaving of something in me..." His search, of course, brought up Bowser first and foremost. This didn't surprise him. A regular abductor of the kingdom's matriarch, or matriarch-in-standing depending on the technicalities? Obviously going to be top notice. He scrolled through the page, no other faces really catching his notice. Near the bottom of the page, however, he saw something that was intimately familiar. It was his own face. "Damn." It seemed he was still considered a notable threat. That's when he noticed the footnote. "No sightings in over five years—likely left abroad or deceased."
Six. It had been six years, not five. When Fawful first found out how long he had been...for lack of a better word, gone, he couldn't believe it. A whole six years from his life gone just like that. Physically he had barely changed, that is once he had completely reformed properly without those weird half-formed spidery limbs. But for all intents and purposes, he was an adult now, even though he still felt very much like a teenager. He could even technically legally drink if he were so inclined, though he remembered having thought the idea of alcohol to be disgusting.
He closed out of that tab. It was just making him feel depressed. If the Mushroom Kingdom felt that he was still worth being considered a threat after having not been seen in six years, there was no way he would ever be allowed back into the borders of his homeland. If someone became an enemy of the Beanbean royal family, they would be hunted down not just for years, but for decades. He knew he would never be able to go home. At least not without a miracle, or at least an unbelievable stroke of good fortune.
Internet use has a way of making some people forget about the passage of time. The sky outside had begun to darken, and Fawful was getting tired. He needed sleep. He shut off his computer and got ready for bed. He pulled his trademark cape around him as a blanket, it having been used for this purpose rather than as a garment for the past two months.
Like always, tomorrow would be another day.
Fawful had gone into town again in his "Fava" disguise, the type of outfit he had chosen for this identity to prefer being much more suitable for the weather. Once again he was scanning the windows of the shops for any hint of signs of people hiring. As he made his way through the town, he didn't notice the Paratroopa flying towards him until he bumped into right into him, falling backwards onto the pavement. "Owww, my face is having the hurting..." he muttered to himself. He realized too late that he had let his typical speech pattern slip in, but thankfully the Paratroopa didn't seem to notice.
"Oh, geez, I'm so sorry!" the Paratroopa said nervously. "I wasn't watching where I was going!
"Well, be more careful next time, geez," Fawful said, easily covering for his earlier slip-up.
"Normally I'm very careful," the Paratroopa insisted. "I just saw this letter that I have to deliver, but it only has names and no address so I was confused as to how I would get it to its recipients..."
"That's weird," Fawful said. "Who sends off a letter with no address?"
"You'd be surprised how often it happens," the Paratroopa said with a nervous laugh. He held out a hand to shake. "The name's Parakarry, by the way. The Mushroom Kingdom's number one mailman! ...Er, somewhat."
"Fava," Fawful said, taking Parakarry's hand in his.
"Fava, huh?" Parakarry's eyes lit up. "You wouldn't happen to have a brother named Lentil, would you?"
In actuality, no, but while in disguise Fawful had to keep up appearances. "Yeah, I do," he said. "Why do you ask?"
"Oh, what incredible luck!" Parakarry exclaimed. He reached into his bag and pulled out a letter, the flap of the envelope sealed with a glittering sticker seal that looked like either a number 8 or an infinity symbol, depending on how you looked at it. He handed it to Fawful, who took the letter and read what was printed on its front.
"To the Beanish brothers, Lentil and Fava"
Fawful raised an eyebrow. He knew that no one but him knew the truth, but why would anyone send a letter to people who didn't exist? And even if they believed his brother identities were real, who would have reason to write them a letter? "Is this really for me? Er, us?"
"Well, Beanish aren't really common around here, so it's highly likely so," Parakarry said. "'Sides, if it's not meant for you guys, you can always bring it back. Just seal it back up with a note explaining...yeah." He adjusted his mail bag and began to ascend. "I'd better be going. Lots of mail to deliver and all that. See you around!" And with that, he flew off.
Fawful could barely contain his curiosity. Just what was in this letter? He knew exactly why it didn't have an address, and that was because he technically didn't have an address to send things to. Or rather, Lentil and Fava didn't have one. But why was it so important to send physical mail to someone who didn't have an address? There is only being one way to have finding out, he thought to himself. He couldn't just wait until he returned to his cave, he had to know NOW. Carefully, he slid his thumb underneath the envelope's flap and split the sticker sealing it. He slid out the letter and unfolded it. Reading the first line of the letter, however, caused his stomach to drop.
"To the Beanish inventor, Fawful Gracovitz"
He nearly dropped the letter in shock. His name, his actual full name, was printed right there in plain sight. How did anyone know? Who was this person, and why were they sending him mail? He appreciated this mystery sender using his aliases on the envelope, at least. Was it Luigi? Or that professor that had gotten them separate? No, he had never told them his last name, unless maybe Luigi picked it up somehow when they were merged? But then he wouldn't know about his aliases...
He had to get back to his cave, away from potentially prying eyes.
Back in the safety of his cave, Fawful wasted no time investigating the strange letter. He didn't even bother removing any part of his disguise, even though the contact lenses were reaching that point where they were starting to irritate his eyes. Something he had noticed in the time it took him to return was that it felt a bit too thick to be just a letter. He re-opened the letter and, with the slightest bit of hesitation, pulled the letter out in its entirety.
"To the Beanish inventor, Fawful Gracovitz
Yes, we know who you are. Do not fret. We have no intention of handing you over to the authorities. We represent the recruitment committee of the Mushroom Kingdom Racing Circuit, and we feel that your notoriety and intellect would make you an ideal candidate to become one of the circuit's newest racers.
Every racer will be provided with a large selection of vehicles to choose from, and regardless of overall placement in the races all coins earned on each track will be yours to keep. Enclosed with this letter is a decal specifically designed to represent you and a racer identification card that will allow you access to the participants-only areas. Should you choose to accept, please arrive at the address listed on the other side of this letter on the specified date.
The MKRC Committee"
Racing, huh? Fawful recalled seeing a few trophies that were labeled as being prizes for some sort of racing tournament in Bowser's castle when he had taken it over, but he had melted down the gold ones to be used as circuitry for the multitude of robots he had built during his brief rein over both the Koopa and Mushroom Kingdoms. He turned his attention back to the envelope, which he had tossed aside when he had removed the letter in full. Inside there was indeed a plastic card and what appeared to be a stylized version of his face, characteristic grin and all. Looking over the card he saw that it already had a number of personal details that he didn't recall sharing with anyone, but he figured they could've easily been grabbed from public records. The identification portrait on the card was an illustration that he vaguely remembered having commissioned from one of his minions when he had any (strangely, he couldn't remember the name, just that the artist was his minion), and it was still fairly impressive even now.
Looking over the letter again, Fawful started to consider that perhaps joining this race wouldn't be such a bad idea. He turned the letter over and the brief elation he had felt dropped instantly. The address that was listed for the meetup was in Beanbean Castle Town. This...was going to be a major problem. Then again, he had no idea whether or not the Beanbean Kingdom knew if he had survived the fall from Bowser's castle after he and Cackl—er, Bowletta had been ejected from it. For all he knew, that foolishly arrogant Prince Peasley probably boasted to everyone who would listen that he and the Mario Bros. had ended him for good. He had no idea whether or not anyone informed the Beanbean Kingdom that he had returned years later to not only re-take Bowser's castle, but Peach's castle as well.
The trademark wide grin spread across Fawful's face once more. Intelligence did not always equate to common sense, and this was a situation where the risk seemed to be well worth the reward. "This is being the opportunity of perfection!" Fawful shouted. "The glorious feast which is my comeback will have beginning on the track of races!" He laughed, adding, "I have chortles!"
It was then that he finally took notice of the overwhelming stinging the contacts were causing in his eyes. "Ouchings," he winced as he made to remove the offending pieces of plastic. "I am needing to remember to have removal of these sooner..."