A/N: HA HA!! VICTORY IS MINE! I finally wrote a fic on this pairing! (ParaBow? PaResa? FanMailShipping?) I've been meaning to write one forever, but I could never think of a good enough story. So you get this instead. *rimshot*


Parakarry could say, with little to no hesitation, that he did not like Forever Forest.

It was dark, it was scary, and it was almost impossible not to get lost. Not to mention the attacks by Piranhas and Forest Fuzzies that could prove fatal to unprepared travelers.

There was a reason the Boos had situated their mansion at the far end of this forest. They were not social creatures, except with each other, and they didn't want to interact with the outside world. And frankly, the outside world preferred it that way.

But Parakarry had a very good reason for visiting the mansion today, probably making him their first guest in a long time.

Today was Lady Bow's birthday.

As the famous princess of the Boos, she was practically a celebrity, and it wasn't at all uncommon for her to get a doting letter from an admirer. But today, on this most special day, she had gotten an absolute deluge of letters and cards – not just from fans and well-wishers, but more importantly, from all the friends she had made on their recent adventure to rescue the Star Spirits.

And of course, he was the mailman. It was his job to deliver them all.

He was getting exhausted as he fluttered low over the ground. He had lost track of time quite a while ago, and he had no idea if he was even getting close to the mansion. He'd heard stories that the forest actually shifted around, so that a path that led you safely through one day would lead to a dead end the next. He didn't come in here often enough to know if that was true.

Finally, after at least an hour of dragging his exceptionally heavy mailbag along, all the while desperately fighting off attacks from the Piranhas that just kept popping up everywhere, he came across the sign that pointed directly to Boo's Mansion.

Oh, thank the stars, I made it! he thought to himself as he flew down the path. Finally, it opened up into a large, dark clearing, and there, behind a twisted metal gate, was the mansion.

He had only been here once before, and as he looked around the outside, he realized for the first time that the mansion didn't have a mailbox.

Well. . . that's awkward. I guess I have to deliver these in person?

He would never let anyone know, but actually, he was happy about that. Truth be told, he really wanted to see Bow again. She hadn't been exceptionally nice to him during their adventure, but. . . well, he thought she was pretty. That was a good enough reason to want to see her, right?

He trudged up to the front door – geez, that mailbag was heavy – and gave it a knock.

Presently it pulled open, and one of the countless Boos who lived in the mansion was floating in the doorway, regarding him suspiciously.

"Uh. . . hi," Parakarry began nervously. Ghosts kind of scared him. "I have some letters for Bow here. . . you guys don't have a mailbox, so I didn't really know what to – "

"Yeah, yeah. The Lady Bow is on the top floor," the Boo said impatiently. "You'd better remember to wish her a happy birthday. This is a very important occasion here."

"I'll remember. Don't worry," Parakarry assured him, pulling his mailbag inside. Oh, if only it weren't so heavy, he could just fly up to the top floor. But it looked like he was going to have to drag that thing all the way up the stairs.

All the Boos floating around the foyer started watching him in incredible amusement as he struggled with his bag. He should have known better than to think they would offer to help him. Actually, it sounded like more than a few were snickering at him. He tried as hard as he could to hide his face so they wouldn't see him blushing.

Why did he always get in awkward situations like this? He wished he could be more put together, like Bow. She was always so refined. She never had an awkward moment. . .

. . .Why was he blushing again?

Well, eventually he made it to the top floor. By now his arms were just about ready to fall off, so he was immensely relieved when he finally pushed the double doors open and practically collapsed into the large room.

There was Bow. . . boy, she was as pretty as he remembered. No wonder she had so many admirers. . . .

Okay Parakarry, stay focused here.

She was hovering off in a corner, faced away from him, and she made no sign that she'd heard him enter the room. After he'd stood there for a moment and she did nothing, he finally felt that very familiar awkward feeling again. He cleared his throat.

"Uh. . . Bow?"

Then she finally turned around, and Parakarry was stunned by her appearance.

She looks sad. . . she looks like she's been crying.

"Um. . . you remember me, right? Parakarry?" he prompted her. "Well anyway, Bow, you got a lot of cards today for your birthday."

"Oh, really?" Bow replied, sounded thoroughly disinterested. As he attempted to drag his bag over to her, she finally made it easy for him and floated over to him instead.

"Yeah, you did!" he said brightly, fishing through the bag. "I looked at all of them myself. All our old friends sent you cards. Wasn't that nice of them? They all remembered your special day."

He gave her a large handful of cards, and she leafed through them listlessly.

"Yes. . . that was very nice of them," she decided, without even a hint of a smile.

Okay, something's definitely up.

"Hey, Bow? Are you okay?"

"I'm fine," she said shortly. "Thank you for giving me these."

"Well, it's my job, after all," said Parakarry, pulling out a few more letters. Whatever was making Bow so down, surely hearing from her friends would make her feel better, wouldn't it?

"Oh, look! Here's one from Mario and Peach," he said, flashing a pink envelope in front of her face. "And one from Kooper, and Bombette. . . and hey! Even Sushie sent you one all the way from Lavalava Island!"

He continued handing them off to her, but much to his dismay, they were having the opposite effect he'd been hoping for. As Bow got each one, she just seemed to look more and more miserable.

What could possibly be making her so sad?

"Oh, and I saved the best one for last," he assured her. This, at least, had to cheer her up. Heck, it had made him happy just looking at it. He reached into his pack and pulled out a tightly wrapped bundle. He sure hoped all the letters hadn't crushed them. . . .

"Here, open it!" he encouraged her, handing her the bundle. She slowly and reluctantly obeyed, unwrapping the brown paper and casting it off to one side. Parakarry watched her in anticipation, and her eyes grew wide.

Bow was holding the most beautiful bouquet of flowers either of them had ever seen. There were bright red roses, butter-colored daffodils, violets that were as deep blue as the evening sky, and even some flowers Parakarry couldn't name. There were tiny little white blossoms, purple velvety ones, and some that were yellow but partially stained red. No one had ever seen a bouquet like this one.

"They're. . . they're flowers. . . ." Bow said quietly.

"Yeah! Aren't they terrific!" Parakarry said excitedly. "Those are from Lakilester and Lakilulu. They told me they looked all over Flower Fields to find the absolute prettiest flowers they could, and they – "

Bow burst into tears.

Holy cow! Parakarry started to panic. Parakarry, you genius, what did you do to mess this one up?! She's crying on her birthday!

"Bow. . . Bow, what's the matter?" he asked desperately.

"What makes you think I want any of this?!" Bow shouted in a sudden rage. Without warning, she hurled all the cards and the flowers across the room, like she couldn't stand to even touch them any longer.

Parakarry stood their dumbly, crestfallen. "You don't like them?"

"I hate them. I hate everything about birthdays. Now go away."

And she turned away from him and continued to sob.

Well, this was just perfect. What was he supposed to do now? He couldn't just leave her like this. But she didn't look like she was in the mood to talk. . . .

"Bow," he said helplessly, floating up to her. "Bow, please. I don't want you to be so sad on your birthday. Can't you tell me what's wrong, please? What do you mean, you hate birthdays?"

Bow still refused to turn around and face him, but after a moment, she seemed to sigh resignedly.

"How long do you think those flowers are going to last, Parry?"

"Parry"? She called me by a nickname? . . .Oh golly, she called me by a nickname. . . .

"How long? I. . . I don't know. . . ."

"A few weeks, maybe," she answered for him. "And then they're just going to wither and die. Why would I ever want something like that around?"

Parakarry was speechless. Sure, flowers didn't live very long. . . but wasn't it worth having them anyway, just to see how beautiful they were?

"You really want to know why I hate birthdays?" she went on. Her tears had dried up, but now she was looking angry and bitter rather than depressed. "I can't even remember how many I've had anymore. I have no idea how old I am."

"You don't?"

"I lost track about a hundred years ago."

Parakarry's eyes bulged.

"A – a hu – a hundred years?!" he stammered. "You're – you've been – but you only look – "

"I look twenty-five," she said irritably. "Because ghosts don't get old. This is how old I was when. . . when I. . . ."

She couldn't finish.

Oh, Bow, Parakarry thought remorsefully, realizing what she was trying to say.

"It happens all the time," Bow sighed, gazing at the floor. "A Boo meets somebody they really like, someone they care about. . . but that person's not like them. They grow old, and they die. And you never see them again."

She glanced up at him. "That's why Boos only associate with each other most of the time. We're all going to stick around forever. Everyone else just fades around us. It's not worth it trying to be friends with them. They don't stay."

Parakarry listened in amazement, wringing his hands. Was that why she'd seemed so proud and withdrawn on their adventure? Was that why she was so reluctant to be friends with all the others?

"So. . . that's why you didn't want to hear from all your friends?" he guessed.

Bow nodded. "I thought it would be easiest if I just never saw them again," she explained. "I don't want to have to go through all that loss. I couldn't handle it. I know you don't want to hear it, Parry, but all of you are going to die one day. Mario and Peach, Goombario and Kooper. . . even little Watt. Even you."

She gazed out the window. "And me. . . I'll still be here. And I'll be alone all over again."

Parakarry had no idea what to say. Here was the chance to make her feel better, and he was tongue-tied.

He'd always wanted to talk to her like this, but he'd never been able. He'd liked her for a long time now, practically from the moment he first saw her, but he'd resigned himself to just admiring her from a distance. He didn't feel like he could relate to her on any level even if he tried; they were two very different people. He was a beaten-down public servant without a break, and she was a well-off princess without a care in the world.

. . .Well, okay, so that last part clearly wasn't true.

"But Bow, that's such a silly thing to do," he protested. "You're not letting yourself ever be happy, just because you think that happiness isn't going to last forever?"

"Oh, don't you judge me," she growled at him with that haughtiness he was familiar with.

"Let me tell you something, Bow," Parakarry went on. "Okay, so, of course nobody lives forever. But that's no reason not to be friends with them. That doesn't mean they can't care about you, and you can't care about them."

Bow didn't say anything, but it looked like a few more tears were welling up in her eyes.

Oh, geez. . . I hope she doesn't hate me for this.

"All your friends – all our friends – they really care about you," he said. "That's why they sent you all this stuff on your birthday. And you. . . you care about them too, right?"

Bow said nothing at first, but they both knew the answer. Even if she didn't want to admit it.

Of course she cared about them. They were the first people who had ever really gotten to know her as just plain old Bow. All the other Boos worshipped her like the princess she was, but that title really didn't amount to anything when you were off on the road, like she had been.

And she'd gotten to know them too, better than she'd ever thought possible. She got to know how Goombario and Kooper had some ridiculous rivalry and would almost constantly argue, and how Bombette was invariably the mediator between the two. How motherly Sushie would always dote over Watt, especially since she was away from her own daughter. How Lakilester always tried to put up a tough-guy front, but was obviously such a hopeless romantic for his girlfriend.

And Parakarry. . . shy, clumsy, and loyal to a fault. The one who would do anything for the rest of the group.

They were the best friends she'd ever had. Each one of them was like one of those flowers in her bouquet. . . .

"I just wish they wouldn't go," she sighed hopelessly, wiping her tears away.

Then Parakarry decided to something extremely idiotic and risky. Something he'd daydreamed about doing for a long time. He gave her a hug.

When she didn't immediately Fan Smack him for such a transgression, he felt a thrill of excitement run all the way up and down him.

Ooookay. . . so far, so good. . . keep your head in the game now, Parakarry. . . .

"Y'know what?" he said helpfully. "Even if it seems like your friends leave you, they never really do. Not one of us is ever going to leave you. Because friendship. . . that lasts forever. Friendship, and love. . . they never go away, no matter how long it's been. . . ."

Bow seemed to consider this for one long moment. Then she looked up at him with the wry, sarcastic smile he was used to seeing on her face.

"I can't believe you came up with that all on your own, Parry," she remarked. "I thought you were kind of an idiot before. . . but you're kind of cute."

Parakarry about had a heart attack.

"Y-y-you? You think I'm c-cute?!" he stammered. "I mean – well, I th-think you're really cute too, Bow – "

"You know, I never really thanked you for delivering all those cards all the way here," she went on, growing a rather devious grin.

"Oh, you-you really don't have to – "

He was abruptly cut off as Bow took both of his hands in hers, and leaned in very close. . . and then –

Oh my – HOLY GEEZ!! Is she kissing me?! . . .She's kissing me!! Okay, Parakarry, calm down. . . what did it say about this in your Postman's Training Manual? . . .OH MY GOD, IT DIDN'T MENTION ANYTHING LIKE THIS!!!

When she finally let go, his goggles were so fogged up he couldn't even see. Bow doubled over laughing at the sight of him, with that same laugh that was best described as a cackle but still managed to be adorable.

Not knowing what else to do, he lifted the goggles off his face, grabbed the forgotten bouquet of flowers off the floor, and held them out sheepishly.

"Happy birthday, Bow."

And it was happy. For once in a long time.