Disclaimer: Paper Mario owns all, nothing is mine.
A/N: Here it is, the moment you've all been waiting for! Sorry it took a while, but writer's block and college worked together to delay my final update. Thanks to Teroglahn and Raykura-Kura for reviewing! I tried to divide the scenes this time (and re-divided the first 2 chs!). But on with the story!
Kooper rolled onto his other side and shut his eyes tighter. "Five more minutes," he mumbled.
"Huh? Wha? I'm up!" He staggered to his feet and blinked the sleep from his eyes. "I'm awake!"
"Very good," Raphael Raven said. "It's the first thing in the morning. You did want to leave now?"
"Yeah, thanks," Kooper said. First thing in the morning meant first thing in the morning here. The sun hadn't even hit the horizon yet, it's light was just barely turning the jungle a faint gray color.
"I'll take you to Chief Yoshi now, then."
"Thanks," Kooper mumbled again, looking out at the great expanse of green below him. You could see the whole jungle from the top of that tree. Goombario would hate this, Kooper thought with a grin. As brave as the little goomba was, he had a terrible fear of heights. Bombette would like it though...
While Raphael Raven flew them over the jungle, Kooper thought of the look on Bombette's face when she looked out over Pleasant Path from the top floor of Bob-omb Castle. Without tearing her gaze away from that view, she had told Kooper that someday she would go back to Lavalava Island and take the time to appreciate the view from the top of that tree, something she hadn't gotten to do in all the excitement during their adventure with Mario. Now, Kooper had a bird's eye view of the jungle and he was taking full advantage of it. Bombette would be so jealous of him when he told her about this.
The only way to calm her down will be to promise to bring her here one day, Kooper thought.
When the village was in sight, Raphael Raven let out a deafening caw that Kooper was sure woke the entire village. Sure enough, two minutes later, when they landed, every yoshi was standing there to greet him, despite the early hour. The Fearsome Five swarmed him as soon as his feet touched the ground.
"See, Sushie, one person can survive in the jungle, why can't us five?"
Sushie frowned at her charges and said shortly, "Because Kooper is experienced in fighting off jungle enemies. I'm not going to let you explore unchaperoned, so stop asking." To Kooper she spoke more warmly. "It's good to see you again. I hope you're all staying out of trouble back on the mainland.
Kooper shrugged. "More or less. I actually came to see Chief Yoshi..."
The big, green chief stepped forward. "What can I do for you Kooper? We are all in your debt for rescuing our young last year." He shot a meaningful look at the Fearsome Five, who shifted uncomfortably on their feet.
"Er..." Kooper said. "I'm actually just here to pick up an artifact Koopa Koot said you had." He was too polite to rush them, but Raphael Raven wasn't.
"He's in quite a hurry," the large raven put in.
"Oh, of course. The 'artifact.' Hold on..." The Chief disappeared behind the statue of Raphael Raven and returned with a boxed, wrapped package. "Thank him for me, please."
"Yeah sure," Kooper said absent-mindedly. He was staring at the package; it was impossible to tell what was in it. "Uh, what is the artifact?"
The Chief waved his hand dismissively, as if the matter wasn't important. "Oh, it's nothing. If you get the chance, could you ask Koopa Koot if I could borrow 'the Tape' sometime?"
Bombette heard him before she saw him and stopped pacing outside of Kooper's house. "Not now," she muttered wearily and turned to face the unwavering blue bob-omb.
"Bombette, my sweet, my love, my -"
"Not now Bruce," she said through clenched teeth.
"My explosive charge, what's wrong?"
Bombette eyed him suspiciously. He was listening to her? He wasn't just spewing his confessions to her without any regard for her feelings? Where was the annoying blue bob-omb she had come to know and hate? If not for the stupid pet names, she wouldn't have believed it was him at all.
"Sizzling owner of my heart, you seem upset."
Bombette couldn't stop a loud laugh from escaping her. She seemed upset? She was always upset when Bruce was near and he never noticed before. What's he up to? she wondered. "You make me angry," she said.
Bruce shook his head. "Angry, yes, but you're not angry now. You're worried."
Her eyes narrowed on him. "When did you become perceptive?"
"I've seen you in a fiery rage enough times to know the difference." When Bombette cocked her head to the side in confusion, he added simply, "You haven't blown up yet. You worried about Kooper?"
Bombette glared at Bruce. "Why would I be worried about Kooper?"
"Koover said you were."
She frowned. "Koover has a big mouth."
"Well, my darling of destruction, the reason I came by was -"
"To annoy me?" Bombette glowered.
"Never, sweet short fuse! Only to ask if you would go with me to the Star Spirit Festival tonight!" A few minutes later a charred Bruce hobbled back to the toad house and shook his head at Koover.
"It didn't work?" Koover asked.
"Thanks Tuna!" Kooper yelled over his shoulder.
"I'm a whale!" his ride called after him in vain.
Kooper was almost out of the port district when a scream came from Club 64. He hesitated and turned, wondering if he had the time to stop and help and something collided with him, running toward the night club.
"Kooper!" a squeaky voice said.
He rubbed his lower shell and got to his feet. He saw her light before he saw her. "Watt?"
The bubbly lil sparky nodded excitedly and whispered a thank you to the stars. "I knew Twink wouldn't let me down. Um, ok, you help them and I'll see if the shops are ok!"
"Wait!" Kooper cried before Watt flew off. "What?"
Watt dimmed sheepishly. "Oh...Um...You're not here to help?"
"Help with what?"
"The shy guys got out again."
There was another scream from the club and the pop diva, Chanterelle, appeared in the doorway, followed closely by a green shy guy. Instinctively, Kooper stepped between the singer and her attacker and flared with hot flame as he prepared to use his fire shell. It wasn't necessary though, since the little shy guy got scared just by the flames and ran off to cower by the wall. Watt glowed on different scales of brightness and, out of nowhere, a boo appeared and took the poor guy away.
Kooper paused to stare at the place where the boo disappeared and then asked, "Was that Franky?"
Watt grinned a thousand-watt smile. "He's in town for the Star Spirit Festival, mostly to spook Fice T.. Poor guy."
"They're always trying to scare that poor guard," Kooper agreed sympathetically.
Chantrelle brought them back to the crisis at hand, saying more to herself than to anyone around her, "Oh, my voice! Do re mi fa...Oh all that shouting...I'll never be able to sing at the festival now," she moaned.
Kooper groaned. The festival. He had to be back for the festival, but he couldn't leave Watt to deal with the shy guys all on her own. He waged an internal battle and Watt, to her credit, saw this and didn't interrupt him until Harry, the owner of Harry's Shop, shouted after a trio of shy guys stealing his items.
"Kooper?" Watt asked hesitantly.
He looked from his old teammate and friend to the lowering sun. He might have two hours before sunset, when the stars would come out and the festival would start. Tucking Koopa Koot's package securely in his shell, Kooper nodded to Watt. She beamed and the two separated and set to work just like they used to.
Kooper caught up with the Harry's Shop thieves at the train station, trying to kick the conductor off the train. Kooper hit one with a shell toss and the other two turned on him. As soon as they were off the tracks the conductor called hurriedly, "All aboard! Next stop, Mt. Rugged!" and pulled out before the shy guys could hijack his train.
That left Kooper alone to fight off three shy guys. He'd been in worse fights. He'd fought three fuzzies at a time just yesterday and fuzzies were better adversaries than shy guys ever were. For one thing, shy guys were too shy. If you scared them bad enough, they'd usually run off. Kooper would, of course, have to pick a fight with the three shy guys who didn't flee at the sight of his flame shell. So he wasted precious daylight defeating them all and lugging their stolen goods back to Harry's Shop. At twenty minutes to sunset, there were still a few loose shy guys around Toad Town giving them some trouble.
Noticing his frequent uneasy glances at the horizon, Watt said, "Hey Kooper, do you, um, need to go soon?"
He snapped his attention back to her and Franky and said unconvincingly, "No, I can stay and help."
"Kooper, go home, we can round up the rest of these guys," Franky said.
"GO!" Franky wailed, making the customary scary-boo face.
"Go on, it's alright," Watt encouraged.
"Okay," Kooper said hesitantly.
He walked quickly enough, though, back to the Toad Town Tunnels and just before he dropped into the sewers he heard Watt call after him, "Say hi to Bombette for me!"
"Five minutes until sunset!" Koover shouted over the excited voices of the Koopa Village inhabitants. "Five minutes! ...Where's Bobby?"
"Right here," a green bob-omb said, pushing to the front of the crowd.
"Well?" Koover asked nervously.
Bobby shook his head. "He's not back yet."
"Crap," Koover muttered. "Where's Bombette?" Bobby shrugged. "You don't know?" Koover was panicking now. He wanted things to be perfect, to go off smoothly. That didn't include and angry pink bob-omb exploding in the middle of town and blowing bits and pieces of his friend's house all over the festival-goers.
"She's not at his house anymore," Bobby said optimistically. "Maybe she went back to the castle."
Someone in the back of the crowd said, "Actually, I saw Bruce head that toward Kooper's house a few minutes..."
Right on cue Bruce's voice rang out clearly through the town. "But my combustible sweetheart, I -"
Koover groaned, sure that some expensive property damage had been caused this time. A couple of Bruce's friends went to survey the damage and collect their love-struck buddy. Four minutes to sunset.
"Someone get Mort T., Bruce is gonna need serious healing this time. He's gotten himself killed this time, I'm sure of it," the koopas and bob-ombs whispered while they waited for the others to return.
They came back just before Koover had a nervous breakdown, Bruce supported between them, miraculously still alive and babbling about "his lovely girl." Three minutes to sunset.
Bombette glowered at Kooper's house. He was lucky it was still standing, even if he did still have three minutes to get home. She could have blown it up along with Bruce, but she moved across the street to the empty lot to lose her cool. A small crater that was already being filled in by some of Koover's workers was all that was left of her rage, but she was building more with every passing second that Kooper didn't climb out of that pipe.
"Two mintues!" she heard Koover yell over the excited chatter of the crowd. Koopas, bob-ombs, and a few tourists from Toad Town found good spots on the ground to sit and gaze up at the sky for the First Annual Star Spirit Festival.
If she had been less agitated, Bombette might have noticed Koopa Koot standing in his doorway with a package clutched safely in his wrinkled old hands, but as it was, her gaze skipped right over the old man on its trek to and from the pipe and Kooper's house. She might have heard Koover shout a greeting over the crowd or hear a dozen other people wish someone luck, but she was oblivious to everything but the time. One minute and counting.
A tap on her shoulder made her spin around and she just barely contained a surprised explosion. There was Kooper, with his hands behind his back and a grin on his face.
"Glad to see you didn't blow up my house yet."
A relieved grin spread over her face too. "Twenty more seconds and I would have. You're cutting it kind of close."
"Well I had to stop and get this." He pulled a fire flower from behind his back and held it out for her. Bombette blinked in confusion.
"Ten, nine, eight..." the crowd counted down.
"Happy Star Spirit Day, Bombette."
Kooper kissed her.
When Bombette pulled away, the fire flower was in her hand and Kooper was looking at her nervously. She stared at the flower and at him and smiled, manuvering her free hand into one of his. They turned their faces to the sky just as the crowd shouted, "ONE!" The stars twinkled to life like never before, accompanied by a few dozen bob-ombs all exploding in an incredible display of fireworks.