Disclaimer: I don't own Mario. Sad face.

Author's Notes: One thing that's always bugged me was the premise of Yoshi's Island – sorry, but babies do NOT come from a Stork delivery service. Then, just the other day, I finally figured how to make it work, and decided to write this story to share it – as well as some other theories about the main characters' pasts.

When We Were Young

"So, how did you guys meet?" Mallow looked from Mario to Peach eagerly. They had just rescued her from Smithy earlier that afternoon and were walking back to town. Peach had been filling Mario and his new friends about her time in Booster's Tower as they walked, but her narrative had caught up to the present and the group had lapsed into silence. Until Mallow posed his question, of course. "Was it when Mario saved you from Bowser that first time he invaded the Mushroom Kingdom a couple years back?"

"Well, yes and no," smiled Peach. "That was the first time we had met as adults, but we first met a long time ago – when we were still babies."

"What!?" gasped Mallow, looking to Mario for confirmation.

"Oh yeah!" nodded the red-capped plumber.

"But, how? I mean, I heard you grew up in Brooklyn, on Donkey Kong Island."

"I-a-did," said Mario.

"But-" Mallow scrunched up his face in confusion.

"Maybe I should tell the story," offered Peach, realizing that Mario's affinity for short and sweet responses probably wasn't going to help Mallow.

"Okey-dokey," chirped Mario.

"Well, like I said, we were babies," explained Peach as Mallow looked up at her. "I don't remember this myself – I was too little, but Toadsworth and the other council members have told me all about it. You see, one night, all the young children in the Mushroom Kingdom disappeared…"

Frogfucious had never told Mallow this little tidbit of Mushroom Kingdom history, and he gasped at Peach's words, eager to hear more.

"The Toads thought it was the Koopa Kingdom at first, but Bowser was kidnapped too. We don't know exactly what happened, but after a couple days of panic, a flock of Storks appeared and delivered all the children back home, safe and sound."

Geno smiled to himself. He remembered that debacle: time travel was a powerful kind of magic, and needless to say, the appearance of a flying castle from the future had caused some strong ripples in the fabric of the Mushroom World all those years ago. But the Bowser trudging along behind the group hadn't reached the point in time where he was destined to travel to the past and kidnap the children, and so Geno knew better than to let on that he knew anything about the events Peach was describing to the young cloud boy.

"Golly," breathed Mallow.

Peach nodded. "To this day, it's a mystery what happened…" Getting an idea, she turned and looked back at Bowser. "You were a bit older than us when it happened, weren't you? Do you remember anything?"

Bowser frowned, his brow even more furrowed than usual as he tried to recall what had happened to all the youngsters. "Hmm, I remember… Yoshis? And Kamek was there, and there was a guy who looked like my father…" Bowser shook his head. "It was a long time ago." He had asked Kamek about it once or twice, but for some reason, his childhood caretaker didn't seem to want to talk about it. Bowser always assumed he was ashamed at letting Bowser get kidnapped, but maybe he'd try asking him again – once he saved the Magikoopa from whatever was holding him in the captured Keep, of course.

"I doubt Yoshis kidnapped us," said Peach flatly, turning back to Mallow. "Anyway, whatever happened brought Mario, Luigi and I together. When all the children came back, there was a big celebration and a parade, and somehow I apparently picked Mario out in the crowd. I started pointing and he pointed back, and the Toad mages said it was a sign…" Peach shook her head with a smile. "I don't really get what happened, but when Toadsworth and the others decided I needed playmates, they sought out Mario and Luigi – because of that connection."

"It was destiny," intoned Mallow, ignoring Bowser's derisive snort. "But… if Mario and Luigi grew up in the Mushroom Kingdom with you, why does everyone say they're from Brooklyn?"

"We-a-moved there after the-a alien invasion," said Mario.

"WHAT!?" Mallow couldn't have heard that right. "Aliens!? What are you talking about!?"

"Not long after the kidnapping, some aliens invaded the Mushroom Kingdom," explained Peach. "I think they were called the Shrorbs, or Shroobs, or something like that… Surely you must've heard about it?"

Mallow shook his head. Clearly Frogfucious has left out all the good stories from his history lessons.

"Oh, well, it really did happen. They took over Mushroom Castle, and Mario and Luigi got caught up in it somehow… I've asked about it, but Toadsworth refuses to tell me what happened, for some reason."

"Sounds like Kamek," said Bowser. "He doesn't talk about the kidnapping thing or the alien invasion thing. I don't remember much of that either – I think I got in a few fights, and the guy who looked like my father was there too, and humans, I think. And a giant Yoshi?"

Geno watched as Bowser struggled to remember. It was fortunate that as a child, he hadn't recognized himself from the future – Geno doubted that a detail that unusual would drain out the Koopa's memory. As it stood, only the adult caretakers of the infant Peach and Prince Bowser had been a concern for the Stars, and to preserve causality, the higher authority had dulled the memories of Toadsworth, Kamek Koopa and anyone else who might cause temporal trouble down the line. They turned the memories liquid – they were there, intact in Toadsworth and the others' minds, but accessing them would be like remembering a dream. The details would float just out of reach: they'd know they knew what happened, but they couldn't solidify their thoughts or put it to words. The Stars counted on the frustration of such a situation to make them unwilling to try and talk about what happened, and evidently it was working. Once the present caught up with the future, the mind block would lift, but until then, only the silent Stars could know that time travel was involved in either incident.

Peach shrugged at Bowser's uninformative interjection. "Who knows what happened. Point is, a lot of people got spooked by the invasion, especially when it happened so soon after the kidnapping."

"I can believe it," said Mallow.

"My father had been off touring both times," continued Peach. "But after the aliens attacked, he came right back home and really tightened security."

"That's a laugh," snorted Bowser, but once again, he was ignored.

"He wouldn't let Mario and Luigi see me anymore – he thought that maybe them recognizing me had been a bad omen, not a good one. He's a really nice man, but I think he felt guilty about not being there to protect me and overcompensated."

"And to make up for that he left you all alone and unprotected yet again after a few years," smirked Bowser.

"No," scowled Peach, looking back at the Koopa King. "There wasn't any danger when he first left, and now he knows that having Mario and Luigi around is good for my safety."

"But what did he do back then?" asked Mallow. "Did he send them away?"

"Oh-a-nooo!" exclaimed Mario, shaking his hands. 'It-a-wasn't the King. Our-a-parents were tired of-a all the danger and we-a-moved away from the Mushroom Kingdom."

"Ohhh, I get it now," said Mallow. "So you were born in the Mushroom Kingdom, but you grew up in Brooklyn."

"No," corrected Mario. "We were-a born in-a Brooklyn."

Mallow was confused again. "But… then… wha-?"

"We-a were adopted in the Mushroom Kingdom."

Mallow was taken aback. "You're adopted?"

"Oh yeah," nodded Mario. "Our-a birth mother couldn't-a keep us, and our-a parents had wished so-a long for children. So, when we were-a born, a Stork took us across the-a-sea from Brooklyn to the-a-Mushroom Kingdom."

"A Stork? Just like the ones that returned the kidnapped babies?!" Mallow grinned, quite enjoying his history lesson. "That's amazing! So, you were born in Brooklyn, then came to the Mushroom Kingdom as newborns and spent your early childhood here, and then you moved back to Brooklyn?"

"Oh yeah," nodded Mario. "We-a grew up there – in-a good ol' Big Ape City."

"But now you live here," asserted Mallow. "You're not planning on going back to Brooklyn any time soon, right?"

"Oh noooo," Mario shook his head. "I-a need to stay here and-a protect the Princess."

Peach blushed. "Oh Mario, you're too sweet."

Bowser rolled his eyes – he had plenty of words to describe Mario, and "sweet" was not one of them. And using Storks to deliver babies wasn't amazing, it was stupid. Kamek had proven how foolish it was when he snatched Luigi from the Stork all those years ago, having predicted the birth and deliverance of the Mario Bros. – the babies that would grow up to spell destruction for the Koopa Kingdom. The only reason he didn't dispose of both Marios when he had the chance was because the Yoshis got involved: if it had been only Storks, the world would be a much different place. Kamek didn't like retelling that story much either, but at least he provided straight answers when asked about this one.

Unbeknownst to Bowser, there was a good reason for a Stork being used to carry the Mario Bros., from Brooklyn on Donkey Kong Island to the Mushroom Kingdom, for it wasn't just any Stork. Rather, it and its kin were magical creatures that lived above the clouds, and which were entrusted with delivering adopted children by the highest authority in the Mushroom World: the Stars themselves.

Geno also reflected back on the Mario's birth. Their parents had wished for children with all their heart, but had been unable to conceive for years, and the Star Sprites in charge of such affairs were already arranging for them to be sent a child when the approach of the Mario bros. was sensed by the elders amongst the Stars. Like Kamek, the Star Spirits knew the humans that were about to be born would cause great change in the world – and in the Mushroom Kingdom in particular. And so, the twins born in Brooklyn that night were the children selected for the barren couple living in the shadow of Mushroom Castle. True, what happened along the way with the Koopas and Yoshis hadn't been part of the plan, and yes, the time travel stuff and the alien invasion meant their roles as guardians of the Mushroom Kingdom got started a bit earlier than predicted and ended up getting them relocated back to the distant island the Stars had retrieved them from… But in the end, they returned to their true home, and saved Peach when the time came.

And then they saved her again. And again, and again. Mario had even saved her again that very day, and Geno knew he would continue to save her when she needed it. And it wasn't just because the adult Peach's presence in the past guaranteed her survival until the point at which she travelled back in time. In fact, Geno refused to assume that time would take care of itself like that – that would make things too easy, too convenient. No, his faith in Mario – the Stars' faith in Mario – ran far deeper like that. They had known from the start that Mario and Luigi were destined to be heroes, and they had known that their fates would be intertwined with Peach and even Bowser's lives long before anyone got kidnapped.

Yes, Bowser may write the Yoshi's involvement in Mario's first adventure as bad luck, but Geno knew better. It was all part of something greater, and even this quest to restore the Star Road would just become another chapter in a very long story before too long. It may have started small, with the delivery of two children to loving parents, but the rest, as they say, is history.

The End