Two more days had passed. As much as Bowser didn't want Peach to leave, he could sense that perhaps that was the best thing to do for her.
It occurred to him when he visited her one night. He stepped inside her room slowly. She still stared out the window, and he saw more longing on her face as time wore on.
She turned at his footsteps and gave him a smile. He loved to see her smile. Yet he noticed tears in her eyes. He hated to see her cry.
"What's wrong?" he asked, a tiny shudder inside him predicting the worst.
She shook her head, whisking away her tears.
His heart slowed sadly, and he forced himself to walk closer. "You miss them, don't you?"
Slowly she nodded. "I just want to see them, even if only for a moment. But…I am happy here with you."
Silly Princess, he thought to himself. Enemies and friends cannot live together.
What was left for him to do? She was still his "prisoner" but as time wore on it seemed she was more of a guest…maybe even a friend. If it would make her happy to leave, then…
"If you wish…you can go."
"What?" she stared at him from the window, surprised.
His heart practically stopped at her look. "You can leave now."
Her mouth moved like she was going to speak but nothing came out. She looked…disappointed? The more Bowser thought about it, the more human girls became such an enigma to him. Did she want to stay or did she not?
"What will happen to you?" she asked.
How should he answer that? If Mario and his brother survived their trek through the desert they would come and try to start something for sure. None of that would matter though, if Peach was no longer with him.
He turned away from her, his heart shattering in a thousand pieces.
Peach reached out to him but held back, wanting to thank him and console him, yet afraid that he would be angry at her. She cleared her throat.
"Would you…escort me to the gate?" A somewhat irritated growl came from his throat and she cringed back from the look he cast her over his shoulder. "Follow me."
She didn't want to leave this place feeling like his prisoner all over again, but she did. She hated to leave him so upset, because he was her friend after all…
Her friend? When did this happen, she wondered? Two weeks ago she would have said otherwise. These feelings for him sort of jumped on her like a surprise, yet she welcomed them. What did she feel for him?
By the time her mind had finished wandering Bowser had stopped in the great room. His hand motioned towards the door at the end of the hall, which seemed to stretch before Peach and she suddenly didn't want to go through the door anymore. She turned to him before he could leave. Peach reached for him but stopped herself once more. She could only whisper, "Thank you."
He didn't nod to acknowledge her. He couldn't move. Bowser watched her as she ran forward, time itself slowing down. She slowed to a walk then stopped altogether. Looking at the castle doors hesitantly, she took one step then stopped again. She turned her head slowly and gazed at Bowser, waiting for an encouraging smile. He could only gaze back, finding he had nothing to give.
Out of the blue, an enormous bullet bill came crashing through a window and zoomed between them. Staring at the hole in surprise, Peach heard the angry voices of her mushroom citizens outside. Oh, no no no, this was all wrong…
She turned to look back at Bowser, who was staring at the hole in his castle like it had been there all along. She couldn't leave him if his life was in danger…could she?
The castle doors burst open, and the dark silhouette of Mario filled the space.
"Mario?" Peach asked. When he didn't answer, her unease grew. "Mario?"
Another crash, and the top of a pillar by the door came crashing to the ground, blocking the only exit.
He stalked towards her, and she forgot everything he meant to her. She immediately she raised her guard, extending her arms at her sides as if to protect someone.
"No!" she cried. "Please! Don't hurt him!"
Mario could only stare, his rage melting into shock. His Princess was all right…wearing another dress…not caring that he came with the intention of rescuing her. What had gotten into her?
"He's letting me go. Please, don't--"
"Peach…" She turned to face Bowser, his face downcast but firm. "Go."
Her hesitation irked him.
She backed away, nodding slowly. She turned and walked to Mario. The one she truly loved…didn't she?
Looking at him now, she wasn't sure. His expression was dark, his eyes full of murder; he looked so ugly. At that moment she wanted to be as far away from his as possible.
She stopped mid stride between them, her heart leading her in two directions. Where did she belong? With Mario in her palace? That seemed most likely; she did have a kingdom to rule. But what of Bowser? Could she simply leave him? Why did she even want to stay? This place was so dark, and he was…
One last bullet bill came screaming through a recent hole in the castle wall. The deafening crack of stone made everyone jump. Peach turned her head left and right, then looked straight up. She saw the marble pillar across from her shudder, then creak ominously low as it fell directly towards her.
She was a statue, soon to be crushed by the sheer rock that dropped ever closer. She stared at it blankly, her mouth ajar. She felt herself go limp, and all Peach could think about was--
In the blink of an eye her head snapped to the side and she was flying far. She fell into someone and together they hit the cold hard floor. A pair of arms held her tightly as the floor shook from the force of the falling rock.
Then the chamber was deathly silent. Dust covered the room, making it difficult to see. Coughing, she turned and focused on Mario's face, directly next to hers. His mouth was open in shock, his wide eyes focused on something beyond. She turned and squinted to see what he stared at and her heart stopped with a horrified gasp.
"No!" she screamed in protest, getting up and running. No no no.... She stopped and slowed a few feet from the fallen pillar, holding her breath anxiously. She took two cautious steps and kneeled, biting her lip.
Bowser Koopa's thick, impenetrable shell boasted a crack that ran from top to bottom. The pillar suffered scars as well, cracked in half where it pinned the Koopa King to the floor. His head was off to the side at an odd angle, and Peach saw a hand peeking out from under his shell, his arm trapped under his own weight. He did not move.
Bowser wasn't sure if he was dead or not, until he heard an angel's voice calling his name, asking if he could hear her. He cracked open his eyes and drew a raspy breath, finding that it was hard to breathe. He gasped frantically as the angel spoke again.
"Don't worry. You're, you're going to be all right. We just have to…get this off…"
Peach struggled mightily against the thick pillar and loathed it, its cold texture telling her that it was frozen in place; that it would not move. She grunted, setting her shoulder against it and pushed with all her might. Tears of panic sprung to her eyes.
"Mario! Help me!"
No one did. Everything was still and quiet.. The pillar budged not even an inch, and Bowser shuddered, sneering at the unspeakable pain. Peach stopped and watched him; his low, wheezing breath emerging as a growl, making him sound like a wounded animal.
"No, no, shh. Just lie still. You'll be all right." She placed a hand in his crushed one, but it had no feeling. She moved her hand in his other paw, and his fingers lethargically closed around hers. He wished he could speak, but it was as if his motor skills had shut down. Everything was dead or dying inside.
She smiled reassuringly, sniffling. "You're going to be fine. We're going to help you." Bowser closed his eyes as if he knew she was lying, then opened them and stared sadly.
He was not staring at her. Peach turned her head and saw the sleeve of her dress, ripped apart at the shoulder seam, a crescent of white skin peeking through. She shook her head. "It's all right. Shelly can fix it..."
He closed his eyes again in yield, and short, small gasps were the only sound.
Peach couldn't bear seeing him in such pain. She lowered her head to clear her blurry eyes, and felt his hand move. She turned to see him faintly lift his arm, reaching for something. Peach shook her head and gently forced his arm down.
"I, I'm here. I'm here, Bowser." He tried and failed, tried and failed. Still he would not give up. Peach finally saw what he wanted. Holding his paw in both of hers, she lifted it carefully, and at the same time, bowed her head. She placed his massive hand on her face, and held it there with her hand. He closed his eyes, giving a tiny smile at such bliss. A tear silently rolled down her cheek, and he slowly wiped its trail with his thumb. Biting back a sob, Peach leaned into his hand warmly before taking it away from her cheek and holding it tightly.
"Yes, I'm here."
She watched him longer, and her eyes followed a pool of red seeping out from under him. Sighing sadly, she untangled his paw from hers. Her hand hovered in the air for what seemed like minutes, hesitating for an eternity before the tiny fingers brushed his brow, her smooth palm warming his face.
She watched him undergo a transformation. In two weeks time, she had watched a giant become small, a monster become innocent, and an enemy become a friend. Now she saw something different.
Someone detestable became someone to love. His eyes opened at her touch, and a tear dropped from his sad eyes, as if this was what he had been waiting for; the sweetest moment in his life. Peach saw this, and she smiled in understanding. His breathing became less erratic, his yellow eyes gazing into hers, and she wanted nothing more than to hold him forever. She had transformed, too.
He parted his lips, moving them, gasping softly as if trying to speak. Peach held two fingers to his lips.
"No, no. Shh. Don't…" He stared at her silently, crying inside because he couldn't tell her what he wanted to, what he felt.
Peach didn't know if he was still trying to speak…or if he gently kissed her fingers before he closed his eyes. Her lower lip trembled and she slowly drew her hand away, shocked and touched by the act of emotion…was it actually an act of love?
She focused on his hand and held it again. "I'm here, I'm here…" His hand was unnaturally loose and limp, and she grasped it even tighter. "I'm here Bowser. It's me, Peach."
He didn't answer, didn't move. Only now did she notice his raspy breathing had ceased.
Eyes wide, she held his hand once more to her cheek, hoping to feel its warmth. There was nothing, no feeling at all. "No, Bowser, can you hear me? It's me…Peach!" She stared at him a moment longer, then dropped her head. She let go of his hand, which fell with a dull thud to the cold, cold floor. Cold just like her heart. She had felt such warmth, now there was nothing left but cold.
She sobbed quietly into her hands. It simply could not be true. He couldn't be dead, not him…not after he had finally professed his feelings. She slammed a fist into the floor, screaming. "How dare you!" She whipped her head over her shoulder, glaring at Mario, who moved not an inch. He didn't know what to feel…shame, anger, sadness, jealousy and shock all mingled within him, confusing him as his Princess gave him the coldest stare she ever had.
He had finally shown her how he felt…and he was gone. Killed by the hands of her friend and hero. How could things end so terribly?
"He saved my life…he gave me warmth and comfort…and you've killed him!...He was…my friend…he loved me……and I…and I," she swallowed.
"I.....I can't do this. Can I get some water?"
Someone not to far away sighed, rubbing her temples. "Cut…" She groaned.
Peach stood up and snapped her fingers impatiently. "Yo, Frank. A Dasani."
Bowser muttered something nasty under his breath, glaring at Peach, and Mario just rolled his eyes. Luigi stood offstage, hiding a giggle.
"How many times is this gonna take?" shrieked the director.
"Look, I'm sorry. I just…can't say those lines!"
"Yeah, why not?" asked Bowser.
"Because they're not true," the Princess said stubbornly.
The director's voice edged with forced calm. "That's…why…you're…acting!!"
"Well maybe that's not good enough!"
The director stormed off and the Mario's sidled up to Peach.
"Sooooo….which line are you having trouble with?" asked Mario.
"I dunno…I forgot it." Peach sipped her water casually.
"Are you sure?" questioned Luigi.
Peach gave them looks like she knew what they were up to. "Gimme a break."
"Just say the line so we know you know it."
"Come on, say it," Mario prodded.
"Hello?" waved Bowser from his place on the floor. "Little help here?"
"I'm still stuck!"
"Argh! Fine! 'I-loved-him.'Happy now??"
Luigi sighed and handed his brother a five dollar bill.
"My shell is starting to hurt," complained Bowser, trying to shift under the pillar.
"Well as soon as Miss Princess can say her lines right, you're staying there."
"But does the prop have to be made of concrete?"
"Yes. Peach! Get over here and say you're lines! Or you're not getting paid."
Turning a fierce shade of red, then blue, then white as she finally calmed down, the Princess smiled sweetly and curtsied. "As you wish," she sang through clenched teeth.
Luigi leaned over to Mario and whispered. "Betcha five bucks she really does love him."
Mario frowned, placing his hand in his pocket just to make sure his money was there. "She'd better not…" he muttered.
>8D : bwa ha ha!
>8D : I am the terror that flaps in the night!
...No, thats Darkwing Duck. Something I don't own. *grin*
>8D : I am the evilocity that is thrown at you during writers block! I am....THE COP OUT!!!
Heh. So you are. *sweatdrop* ^_^
Well sorry guys, but the ending kinda stumped me and...it was too tempting. I swear I won't do anymore of these!! Honest! You're free to flame me though. BUT DON'T YOU DARE SPOIL THIS IN THE REVIEW! OR I'LL HAVE YOU PUPPY FOR DINNER! Okay, maybe I won't...^_^