A/N I finished Super Mario 64 (DS) today. Which is why I'm writing this.

You see, while I loved Super Mario 64, as a kid it terrified me. Water levels especially scared young me because I didn't know what drowning was, and when Mario randomly died in the water, it sparked a pathological, ten-year fear of swimming and large bodies of water (even after I learned what drowning was). But today, I beat the DS version (after 2 straight hours of fighting final Bowser) and it was childhood vindication for the win!

So, in honor of this, I decided that I'd finally write this piece. Ladies and gentlemen, Piece of Cake!

Disclaimer: I own nothing, I regret nothing, I let them forget nothing.


Let's a go!

Peach walked into her castle, her Toad servants and Mario in tow, enjoying the taste and the smell of fresh air, of life again. Being trapped in a painting had its disadvantages, and being in suspended animation was probably the most glaring one. As she walked through the lobby, she wiggled her arms and legs as she walked, enjoying their use again.

She watched Mario fondly as he followed her. How lucky she was, she thought, to have someone so dedicated to her safety. And he didn't act like someone who had gone through the hardest fight of their life. He still had a spring in his step, and a large feather in his hand from the wings previously on his hat. He put it behind his ear, achieving an effect similar to Robin Hood. With a content smile, he walked up the stairs, past Peach, and held the door open for her.

Peach was surprised by this. "My... Mario, you needn't worry about holding doors open for me," she blushed. "You've already done so much!"

"Went through fifteen painting worlds, gathered seventy stars and fought Bowser three times," he responded with a wink. "Therefore holding open a door should be absolutely nothing in comparison."

Peach blinked and walked through the door, with a "Thank you" so laced in surprise that it was little more than a whisper. She didn't notice Mario's fond smile as he held the door open for the Toads, but she had a feeling it was there. It always was.

Up the stairs she bounded, the others just behind, until she reached the company room, where she, of course, entertained her company. She watched as Mario leapt into a seat on the long, white couch with as many polka dots as the Toads' heads. He smiled and put his hands behind his head.

Peach gave him a smile and announced "Well, myself, Daniel and Paul will go ahead and get the cake started. You relax a bit."

Mario raised an eyebrow and asked "Are you sure there, Peach?" he asked her. "You've barely gotten out of total imprisonment. Surely you need a break."

"To be honest, I could use a bit of action," a bit of weariness made their way into Peach's words. Not from being tired, at least physically so. "It'd be nice to remember what... moving feels like."

Mario frowned at this. "Oh yeah."

There were a few uncomfortable moments of silence, and it pained Peach to see his countenance drop for her well-being, when she was a viable risk to his. She looked down and mumbled "Well, I'll get started. Edward, shall you assist in guarding the entrance?" What a futile request, due to the notorious disability for the Toads to even be able to successfully guard a theater seat, but she thought it would help at least a bit.

Edward nodded and took a stance in front of the entryway. Peach gave one last nod to Mario, saying "Relax, Mario. Enjoy some television if you wish." Mario gave a fleeting glance to the remote and watched as Peach left the kitchen, her dress flowing near the ground. He smiled and took off his hat, placing it on his chest with a fond sigh.

Meanwhile, Peach stood amid her large, homey kitchen and cracked her knuckles. As could be expected, her kitchen was up to standards of a first class restaurant, but that didn't mean a boatload of stainless steel and no color. On the other hand, aside from what others may have thought, it wasn't a suffocating mess of pepto-bismol pink everything. She didn't balance her colors all one way.

The walls had been built around the vents and shafts through the ceiling as to obscure them from view, and in spaces between the vents, cupboards were placed. The stainless steel, few and far between was subdued by a light red- not quite pink but not quite bold- and some black and gray marble countertops. The appliances were the best she could find, thanks to referral from a chef she knew. The kitchen was possibly the best investment she had put in her castle.

She started to get the usual suspects of ingredients; eggs, sugar, milk, flour, and baking soda out of the cupboards. She turned the large oven to 350 degrees to preheat, and got a large bowl out. She smiled as she rolled up her dress sleeves; content for her cooking wear to be unconventional; it wasn't like she didn't have a closet full of dresses. Snide people could say that women belong in the kitchen, and all the time Peach spent in hers (combined with some of her other favorite hobbies and her poor luck with staying safe) could make her quite the bimbo. But Peach didn't care- the kitchen was her sanctuary. She loved to cook, and that was a passion of hers. To be able to create things that made others and herself happy and have fun in the process- who could ask for more?

She looked down at her recipe on the counter- though she knew the answer by heart she always wanted to make sure. Addressing her Toads, she asked "Paul! Get me some cherries?"

"What kind, chef?" Paul called back, and she smiled in excitement. She loved how, on their own accord, the Toads changed from calling her "ma'am" or "princess" to "chef." Empowering.

"Pitted Sour!" she yelled back, digging in the cupboard for some salt. "Ya got that?"

"Yes, chef!"

"Good work!"

Daniel was more hands-on. He peered over onto the recipe and started to get ingredients out in rapid-fire. Before Peach knew it, the vegetable oil, vanilla extract, baking powder, cornstarch, cocoa, heavy whipping cream and confectioner's sugar were all added to the cluster of ingredients- at the same time.

Peach grinned. "Thinkin' on your feet, Daniel!"

"Thank you, chef!" he called, digging around in the dish cabinet.

Peach smiled and instructed Paul "Alright, Paul, get some cake pans out! I need them greased and floured, you got that?"

"Yes, chef!"

"Keep it up, Paul!"

"Yes, chef!"

Peach smiled and started her own work. Making sure her measuring cups were easily accessible, she broke three eggs and let the insides drop into the bowl. Tossing the shells in the neighboring sink to run through the disposal later, she focused her attention on measuring and doling out the flour, sugar, and other necessary measurable ingredients at lightning precision. She got out a manual beater as opposed to a mixer- she did feel the need to work out her still reviving arm muscles after all- and started to stir the bowl as fast as she could, while managing not to spill any onto the counter. She had trained herself to be precise at her cooking throughout her life, and hell freeze over if she hadn't succeeded.

After the contents in the bowl looked just right, without looking up she called "Can I get those pans?"

Wordlessly, the pans were placed right in front of her. Peach smiled and said "Thanks, Paul."

"You're welcome!" Mario chuckled.

Peach wasn't expecting Mario to be here, and in surprise, leapt into the air a distance, shouting "Mother of God!" causing Mario to burst out in innocent laughter. Slowly, she descended and regained her composure.

"I don't think I've surprised anyone with my presence since..." Mario grinned, taking a moment of thought and adding "well, okay, since Bowser, but it's a rare occurrence for one to jump for joy so much."

Peach took a deep breath to regain her senses and looked around. "Where did Paul and Daniel go?"

"Oh, those boys? I told them to take a break. Thought I'd fill in for them."

Peach sighed. Mario was so helpful, but he had already done so much. He deserved a break. "Mario... you don't need to help me," she told him.

"I know I don't need to," he grinned again. "You could knock out a bakery's worth in the blink of an eye."

Peach looked away. The way Mario spoke of her was so... reverent. The way she thought of him. But he deserved it- he would literally travel around many different worlds for her. It never seemed she could repay that.

Mario cleared his throat and Peach jerked her head back up. With a bit of red on his cheeks (he was always so bad at hiding embarrassment) he admitted "I came here because I wanted to."

Peach blinked. "Huh?"

"Need a hand, Peach?"

Peach smiled, looking at her closest companion leaning against an unused section of the counter as he gave her a smile and grabbed a spatula out of a bin of utensils.

"Well, one thing, you don't really need a spatula for making a cake," she took the spatula out of his hand and waved it at him like a teacher would a yardstick at an unruly student, adding a wink as an accent. Mario chuckled, blushing a bit deeper, and leaned against the large refrigerator.

"So, whataya need me to do?"

"Well, I'd like you to start off simple," she gave him the can of cherries. "Drain these for me, into a half-cup's worth of juice." He nodded, grabbing the half-cup from her stack of measuring cups and a can opener. Peach turned away so she could mix the heavy whipping cream and confectioner's sugar together in a smaller bowl. She was stunned out of her thoughts by the sound of something breaking. Whirling around, she saw Mario sheepishly holding two halves of a manual can opener. He referred to the now bent can, the lid cleanly off, and awkwardly explained "I... guess I put a little too much oomph in it." Looking down like a child caught with something he shouldn't have, he gave her the halves of the can opener. Peach sighed wearily, but with an amused smile to alleviate Mario's nerves and said "Baking's about finesse, not about strength. Like ballet."

"That explains why I don't do ballet."

Peach giggled and allowed herself to give him a slight kiss on the cheek, causing him to turn as red as his suit, which at times like these he could nearly camouflage into. Mario's next sound was a stutter mixed with a chuckle as he started to drain the cherries. Peach was one of the most amazing, beautiful people he knew, and he was lucky to know her. And for that, he took it slower as he drained the juice from the cherries. With both separated, he gave them to her.

"Thank you, Mario," she smiled, taking the ingredients and, in a new bowl, put some sugar, cornstarch, cherries and the juice together.

Mario frowned with an eyebrow raise. "That seems pointless- take them apart just to put them back together."

Peach patted him on the shoulder, causing Mario to frown like he was missing something. She giggled at his expression and said "Mario, there's a big difference between baking and cooking. In cooking you do whatever you want to your dish. In baking, it's a science. You have to do it to a T, or else the whole dish fails. So if you have to do things that seem outlandish in order to get it done, then you do so."

Mario nodded. "I see. Anything else you need right now?"

"Other than your company? No," she responded, slowly grinning.

Mario turned red again, honored that she would want him for company. He took off his hat, put it over his chest and gave a ceremonious bow. "That, I would be much obliged to do, ma'am."

Peach chuckled and gave him a playful shove. "Come on, Mario," she rolled her eyes. "You don't need to act like that. It's an honor being in your company."

Mario stopped short, surprised at her statement. "Tha-th-that's g...great," he stuttered, truly endeared by her words.

Peach suppressed a sigh, although not completely as it came out very quietly, but only she could hear it. She'd never understand why he all but idolized her. What had she done that merited that?

He leaned a bit closer to her, a hand on her shoulder, but not overwhelmingly so. That was the thing about Mario- he was balanced. He never overdid it or overwhelmed her, but he wasn't boring or understated. He had a happy medium, the way he did when he gently leaned toward her with a hand on her shoulder, observing her cook but making sure she could mobilize. She found it cute, his boyish smile as he observed her stirring the ingredients.

"Oh, Peach," his tone was unusually sneaky and teasing as he started his next sentence. "I found your secret slide to be very... entertaining."

She stopped stirring to turn around and give him an incriminating look, her slight nose touching his large, round nose. "And how did you find that out?"

"Oh, you know. Jump into paintings, get stars. Your attempts to hide it that way reeeeeally backfired," he smirked teasingly. "There wasn't the trippy transition, either, just- voila, behind the painting was a slide. Clever."

"Yeah, that was sort of my sanctuary," she blushed, returning to work as Mario gave her a bit of space. "Had it all set up at the bottom with some... secret-ish stuff... stuff I guess you ran into."

"Nope," he replied. "There was nothing at the bottom except the star."

Peach sighed. "Bowser. How sharp of him. God knows what he did with it."

"Ah," Mario gently pat her on the back, causing her to jolt a bit. He noticed, let go, and added "Well, at the very least, your secret's safe with me."

Peach sighed, her mood suffering a slight would but fighting it off. In jest, she asked "So... how did you figure out the whole painting thing anyway? Did you just... jump into a bunch of paintings hoping one would eventually work?"

Mario found this amusing and laughed loudly. "Ah, that would sound like something I'd do, wouldn't it?" He sighed and added "No, though. There was one room open, and in that room there wasn't much else but the painting. I noticed it... rippled, like a pond, y'know? So I walked up, and touched it to test its solidity, but my hand went through. I took a deep breath, jumped in, and Holy God how'd I get into a war zone?"

Peach burst out in giggles. Leave it to Mario to cheer her up. "That must have been quite a shock for you."

"It was! Not the nicest place I vacated at on my journey," he smirked at the memory. "Places like Rainbow Ride... if you took away all the insanity, it'd be beautiful."

Peach sighed. "Mario..." she started.

"Yes, Peach?" Hand back on shoulder.

"I... really thank you so much for everything," she stopped stirring to face him.

"No problem, Peach!" He didn't echo her sobriety, he had a genuine grin on his face. "This was a piece of cake!"

"No, Mario," she insisted. "For everything. Every time you have come to save me from Bowser, and my whole kingdom. You... you've done so much for so many people. And... I wish that I could repay you."

Mario could feel her shaking with emotion, and frowned. He put his other hand on her other shoulder, so that he had a gentle grip on both. With a sigh, he started to tell her something on his mind. "Peachy, Peachy, Peachy. You're incredible. You're talented, kind, thoughtful, and beautiful, just to start. Your company is my favorite way to spend my time, and is very much worth all the time I spend working to rescue you."

Peach shuddered, truly touched by the sincerity in his voice. Before she could speak, he continued. "Not only that, but even on the days the kingdom is at its most frustrating and the days where my challenges are the weariest, you're what keeps me going. To save you, and everyone else.

"You're a hero, Peach," he smiled again. "A hero not through grand works and extreme feats, but through the kindness and love you give so effortlessly and freely. Without you, there wouldn't be me and the kingdom would suffer because of it."

He watched as a tear ran down her eye and ended his run with a spirited "Thank you so much for being our hero."

Peach was struggling to hold herself together. The greatest hero of all time told her that she was the real hero. Even if she never quite believed it, it was a gesture that touched her deep down.

Mario let her go, but Peach responded with a large, surrounding hug, pulling him against her in affection, and he wrapped his arms around her chest. Between barely suppressed tears, shakily she whispered "Thank you, Mario."

Mario chuckled. "I guess that's why we're bound to always stay together. Nothing would be the same should we be apart."

Nodding, she let him go with a kiss on the temple and looked back at her bowl. "Shall we finish?" she asked.

"With pleasure." In jest, Mario grabbed his spatula, earning giggles from his intended audience.

"Cake's ready!"

When Peach made a cake, it was a special occasion for her and her higher charges, as she usually made cakes only for important occasions. Edward, Daniel, Paul and two other Toads sat around a small, round table in the recreational room Mario sat in earlier, accompanying the heroes.

As if this was a surprise to him, Mario licked his lips in anticipation and declared "Mm, Black Forest Cake! My favorite!"

Peach smiled and took a large knife to cut a good eighth of the cake out to place on a plate. "Here you go, Mario! First slice always goes to the hero, after all."

"Is that so?" Sneakily, Mario stroked his mustache and reached into his pocket, pulling out the barely-conceived spatula. Inducing laughs as he clumsily cut the cake with the misinterpreted utensil, giving a sloppy half to Peach. "Not taking a bite until you do, hero."

Peach blushed again and allowed herself to take a bite in synchronization with Mario, observing happily the joy on his face as she did.

He wiped his mouth and, taking Peach's hand, called "I don't mean to self glorify, but," he held up his spatula, "To the heroes!" And thus, the group erupted in genial cheers as the team of heroes shared a knowing smile.

A/N Well, that was fun! A true joy to write. I've read in this section for awhile, but I think now I'll start making a firm footing here. Writing stories for Mario. He is one of the most incredible heroes after all.

So, that concludes Piece of Cake! Hope you enjoyed my little trinket!

MoD

P.S. I hope I'm not forgetting a note! :P This may be edited.