Coffee and Mushrooms
A Super Mario Brothers Fanfic
By Joshua T. Calkins-Treworgy
Mario stepped through the front door of the café, the quaint jingle of the bells overhead sounding out, bringing a smile to his mustachioed face. Several mushroom-capped heads turned and smiled at him, waving. "Hey-a everybody," he said, striding up to the counter. A young female denizen of the native species (toadstools) in a puffy pink uniform greeted him.
"Hello Mr. Mario! What can I get you today?"
"Your manager. I need to talk to him." The bells jingled again as his younger, taller brother, Luigi, came inside. Where Mario was dressed in his usual blue coveralls and red shirt and cap, Luigi sported a dark green suit and black tie, the button shirt a soft yellow. He carried a slender briefcase in his left hand, nervously adjusting his tie as he stepped up next to his brother.
"I'm still nervous about-a dis," Luigi complained, looking around. "I'm also not sure he'll fit through the door."
"Relax," Mario replied as the manager, an older male toadstool in a puffy blue service uniform came out of the back.
"Mario," the manager exclaimed, eyes wide behind his glasses. "What can we do for you?"
"You can just try to keep everybody calm," Mario said in a low tone. "My brother and I are going to take a seat out front. We're meeting someone here, and it's important we don't spook him."
"Who is he," the manager asked.
"Bowser," Luigi supplied. The server girl and manager both lost all of the color from their faces, their pupils shrunk down to dots. "Now, now, take it easy," Luigi continued. "He isn't going to do anything crazy. If he tries, Mario and I both have Fire Flowers at the ready."
Mario pulled a small red flower out of his overalls' front pocket to show the toadstools they were prepared. "Just bring us out two large coffees and a mega size decaff," Mario said evenly. "Go around to the customers and let them know they can leave out the back."
The manager nodded briskly, setting about his task as Mario and Luigi headed outside with their and Bowser's coffee. They no sooner seated themselves at a table with an umbrella than the shriek of tires and rumble of someone screaming about people getting off the road alerted them to Bowser's approach.
"He sounds about as friendly as ever," Mario quipped. Across the street, Bowser came whipping to a halt in his long, spike-covered kart, leaving a foul-smelling streak of rubber in the street. The shriek of his brakes made the Mario brothers wince.
"Yeah, as cuddly as a rottweiler on meth," Luigi added. "Why hasn't the kingdom revoked his license?" Bowser threw one massive, scaley leg over the side of the kart, then hefted the rest of himself out, an impressively large dragon-like creature. His short mop of crimson hair fluttered as another kart whizzed past, his large, round eyes narrowing as he glared at Mario.
"I'm-a starting to think this might have been a bad idea." Bowser started toward them, thrusting a hand out to stop another kart that was screeching to a halt to avoid running into him. The front of the vehicle crumpled on impact with his outstretched hand, his arm barely flexing, his spiked wristband rotating slowly from the impact.
The toadstool driver brought his head up. "Hey, buddy, you can't do that," the middle-aged driver shouted, his brow furrowed. "You got the coins to pay for this?" Bowser slowly turned his snout towards the driver, looming down toward the toadstool with his lips peeling back from gigantic, arrowtip-like teeth.
"Go now, before I chew your face off," the King of the Koopas rumbled, his voice a strangely cultured thunder. The toadstool, realizing who he'd been hollering at, slunk out of the kart and ran off screaming. Bowser shook himself and continued towards Mario and Luigi.
"A very bad idea," Luigi muttered. The giant reptile stepped up onto the sidewalk, only a few feet away now. The city around them, all bright pastels and smiling faces, moved along as though nothing was wrong. Bowser took two more large strides, then reached out and slowly pulled the umbrella out of the middle of the table. Ever so slowly, he folded it shut and set it aside on the concrete.
"Gentlemen," Bowser rumbled. He looked down at the chair across from the brothers, an artfully designed piece of furniture made of plain black metal. He looked up at Mario and raised a quizzical eyebrow.
"Problem," Mario asked.
"That thing wouldn't hold up my leg, much less all of me. Besides which, it's about a quarter the width of my ass." Mario and Luigi looked to one another, and Luigi went around the table. He pulled a small red mushroom out of his suitcoat pocket and rubbed it on the chair, then stepped away.
The chair shuddered, then produced a warbling noise as it grew to Bowser's proportions. "Better," Luigi asked. Bowser sat down, adjusting for the spikes on his shell, and snorted.
"Much," the reptile replied. He grabbed the mega-sized coffee and sipped at it, making a face as he looked at the cup. "What is this, decaff?"
"We figured it would be best not to jazz you up," Mario said by way of explanation. This close, the plucky plumber could smell the awful raw onion aroma that always lingered on Bowser's scaley flesh. It made him want to throw a Speed Stick at Bowser.
"Thoughtful, but I take it regular with plenty of cream and sugar. Luigi, be a sport and get this fixed for me?" Bowser rattled the cup at the taller brother.
"I'm a lawyer now, Bowser, not an errand boy," Luigi snorted.
"Do you want me to try squeezing through that door, causing untold damage to the proprietor's business," the Koopa King retorted with a menacing smile. Luigi looked at his brother, who shrugged his shoulders and motioned for him to move. Luigi sighed, snatched the cup.
"This is frickin' ridiculous, I went to law school, I'm tired of being the schlep," the green-suited brother groused to himself as he thrust his way back into the café.
"Touchy, isn't he," Bowser chided.
"Well, he has been working a-really hard with the King and the courts," Mario said in the tone reserved for when a person tries to defend a family member or friend's behavior. "Try to go easy on him."
"I'm not going to play nice, plumber boy," Bowser retorted. "You want to have a round of patty-cake, go find Yoshi. Although," he said, folding his arms over his enormous chest. "Law school, eh? That's admirable, I'll admit. Not for everybody, that."
Luigi returned then with a fresh mega-sized cup for Bowser. The King of the Koopas took a sip, smiled. "Is that enough cream and sugar," Luigi asked, smiling broadly.
"Yes, thank you."
"I might have added a splash of flavoring of my own," Luigi said, clearing his throat. Bowser's face flashed red, menace blurring his eyes. Mario, sensing the immediate hostility, grabbed his brother by the arm.
"You didn't," he rasped at Luigi.
"No, I didn't. I just wanted to see his reaction," Luigi said, a smug smile curling his lip. Bowser's visage returned to normal, and he pursed his lips, lifting his chin up a little.
"Hmm. How droll. Tell me Luigi, did you decide on law school before or after your ghosthunting business went tits-up?"
"Hey," Mario exclaimed, rising out of his seat and putting a restraining hand on his brother's chest. "For Nintendo's sake, we're 'E' For Everybody characters!"
"I'm in a very 'M' For Mature mood," Bowser snarled, clenching his massive hands into fists. "So don't try me, or I'll have your head for a hood ornament before day's end!"
The legendary hero of the Mushroom Kingdom and its eternal terror glowered at one another, jaws set, bodies tensed. Luigi let the moment hang for the better part of a minute, then clicked open his briefcase on the table. Mario and Bowser shared a look of bewilderment, then turned their eyes down to Luigi, who now sat on one side of the table between the old foes.
"Brother, Bowser, sit," he said evenly, pulling out several papers. Mario and Bowser appeared back in their seats in the blink of an eye, both trained on Luigi. The slender Mario Brother tried not to notice either Bowser's foul odor or the hint of Peach's perfume that still lingered on Mario's clothes. He tapped the papers, closed the briefcase, and stowed it by his feet. "Now, to begin-a. Mario, you are here as a representative of Princess Peach of the Sovereign Mushroom Kingdom, and her father the King. Is that-a correct?"
"Yes," Mario replied.
"King Bowser, you are here as the current monarch of the neighboring Koopa Kingdom, representing that state, correct?"
"Yes," Bowser said.
"Excellent. As both of you are aware, no thanks to Channel 8 News, the Mushroom King is in a-failing health. He has only weeks to live, and 1-Up mushrooms are having no affect. He will soon be gone, leaving Peach as the sole heir to the throne. She will become Queen Peach. Do you both acknowledge that?"
"Yes," Mario and Bowser said simultaneously.
"Good," said Luigi. "I have here a restraining order from Peach against you, King Bowser."
"A what," Bowser barked.
"To be effective in all instances except wherein you are formally invited to a diplomatic meeting or event," Luigi added, Mario's muffled snickering audible just under his voice.
"How am I supposed to work with this," Bowser asked, stomping his foot. The entire block on which the café stood shook, causing toadstools who knew he was there to come hollering out of the shop in a panicked rush. Bowser shook his head and swigged down half of his coffee. "I always kidnap her. It's my thing."
"Yes, well, according to this complaint you got a little frisky the last time, creeped her out," Luigi said, looking at the papers pointedly.
"You Godzilla-wannabe-sonofabitch," Mario shouted, jumping out of his chair and pointing a shaky finger at Bowser. "What did you-a do to Peach?"
"Hey, all I said was if she'd wax my shell, I'd eat her like her namesake," Bowser rumbled, booming laughter as Luigi wrapped his long arms around Mario to hold him back. It took Mario a couple of minutes to calm down and return to his seat with his brother. Luigi cleared his throat, adjusted his tie.
"Ahem. Furthermore, King Bowser, the Kingdom of Hyrule has agreed to join the Mushroom Kingdom in waging war against the Koopa Kingdom in the event you should ever again kidnap Peach."
"What? That's no fair," Bowser whined. "They've got a ton of soldiers and magic!"
"Hah," said Mario, smiling impishly. "And don't forget about Link."
"That tunic-wearing punk sets foot in my kingdom, I'll shove that flute of his right up his a-"
"-nyway," Luigi interjected, clearing his throat again. "We need you to sign this form saying you've received a copy and had it all explained to you. Mario, you'll sign as the witness." Luigi handed the papers to Bowser along with a pen, and the massive monarch grudgingly signed the last page. Mario swiftly signed as witness. Bowser drank off the last of his coffee and grimaced.
"Bullcrap is what this is," he murmured darkly. "Is that all, toothpick," he barked at Luigi.
"No. We need you to serve as a witness on this next bit. Mario, brother of-a mine," Luigi said, pulling another set of papers out of his briefcase. "I was presented with these yesterday by-a da Princess. They're for you to read and sign."
"What're they about, Luigi," Mario asked as Luigi handed them over.
"Well, the first one is a declaration of limitations, stating that unless you intend to marry her, there will be no more, ah, 'special alone time'", Luigi said, using air quotes and grinning like an imp. Bowser chuckled, his low, thundering register making it sound like a steamroller approaching. "The second one is a prenuptual agreement which, if agreed to, would limit you to 55-thousand coins in the event of divorce or annulment."
"What," Mario shouted. "This is crazy! What's all of this about?"
"Mario, just read and sign them, then let Bowser sign for the witness line," Luigi said calmly. "Just trust me, everything will be better once you make an honest woman out of her."
"I must say, I'm kind of surprised it's taken this long for you to consider marriage," Bowser said.
"Or you could just let yourselves drift apart until she picks a different suitor," Luigi said with a sneer. "It's like Beyonce says; if you like it, then you should put a ring on it." Bowser and Luigi snickered as Mario jotted his signature and shoved the papers to Bowser. Luigi took them back and put them in his briefcase. "Well, that's everything. Or at least, all the legal matter."
An awkward silence befell the trio, with Mario tapping his foot and looking off down the street, Luigi using both hands to hold and stare at his coffee cup, and Bowser rolling his empty cup between his massive hands. Finally, the huge reptile spoke up.
"Soooo, everybody still up for Flower Cup races next Sunday," he asked. Mario and Luigi both assured him with 'yups' and 'yeahs', and other mutterings in the affirmative. "Okay, well, I guess I should get going. Kingdom to run and everything," he rumbled. He rose from his seat, which shrank back down to normal size, and turned away from the Mario Brothers.
He was halfway across the street when Luigi leaned in to Mario and whispered, "I've got to really quick tell him he's expected at the coronation when it happens."
"Of course," Mario said, sipping at what remained of his coffee. Luigi ran across the street as Bowser began to settle into his kart, starting the engine with a roar. He looked down at the green-suited brother and raised one thick eyebrow.
"I was just thinking I'd let you know," Luigi said, only loud enough for Bowser to hear him over the engine of his kart. "You know how you made that joke back there about when I decided to go to law school?"
"Oh, heh heh, yeah. What of it?"
"Who do you think recommended the restraining order to the Princess," Luigi asked, sauntering away with his hands behind his back while Bowser stared daggers into his back, peeling out a minute later and roaring.
"Well, he didn't seem happy about the idea of coming to the coronation," Mario said. "Luigi, it's a good thing you got him to sign those papers. If he hadn't, we might have wound up having to go off on another adventure against him and his goons." Mario chuckled then, getting out of his seat.
"What's so funny," Luigi asked.
"Well, it's just that, who are we kidding? I'm always the one who saved the day! Not that you didn't try," Mario said, patting his brother on the back.
"Who do you think suggested all those papers you just signed to the Princess?" Mario stopped in his tracks, stunned stupid as his brother hopped into his own kart and drove off, flipping him the bird as he made a turn out of sight.