Being thanked as fledgling heroes by Princess Peach herself led to many of those had who associated with Mario briefly being hailed as celebrities for their roles that they played in saving the Mushroom Kingdom. During the scant duration where everyone recognized them, various Toads and Koopas were consorting with them left and right.
And of those eight, the one who was most enthralled to be the center of attention was Watt.
Those who were fortunate enough to get the chance to meet Watt often remarked that she was someone whose sparkly personality matched her radiant appearance. A constant comment made across the board was that she was very amiable and thus overall great company to be around.
And true to their first impression, Watt did think of herself as a simple Li'l Sparky, always happy-go-lucky and taking whatever the world tossed her with stride. While there was certainly disadvantages to such an approach, seeing as that attitude was what had led to her despondently accepting her miserable fate when that horrid Big Lantern Ghost held her hostage inside one of his eponymous lanterns in the first place.
But on the flip side, Watt's exuberant nature was also a blessing, allowing her to meet and associate with some of the closest friends that she'd made in her life thus far. Her carefree attitude was an invaluable asset to the group in tough times, and in return she got to join her ragtag team throughout their travels across the many vast regions of the Mushroom Kingdom.
Even though her age was young in relation to the remainder of the group—especially Sushie—the Li'l Sparky managed to pull her weight and exceeded all expectations, managing to play a pivotal role in what went down as one of the grandest adventures in recent history.
The fire-forged bonds of friendship went much further than the mere conclusion of their adventures, however. Even after the stolen Star Rod had been retrieved from Bowser and Star Haven was brought back to its former glory, Watt still maintained correspondence and kept up a cordial relationship with the rest of the team.
…perhaps that was the reason why she happened to be in her current conundrum while chatting with one of her panicky friends in Toad Town.
"There is a delivery that I have to urgently make to Bow's Mansion, but to my unpleasant surprise, the folks in charge blocked off the entire Toad Town Sewers for maintenance works, so I can't use the shortcut to Gusty Gulch. Flying to Gusty Gulch is a bothersome hassle, so that leaves me with a very undesirable choice. Pray tell, I've exhausted all other options and reached a complete impasse. I neeeeeeed you!"
Parakarry was a… unique character. Watt had once heard Goombario describe him with the moniker of 'most intimidating of the team', which was admittedly something that she simply couldn't visualize, especially whenever she and the rest ended up as witnesses to his clumsy antics. As a result of that, it took her quite a while to see exactly how Parakarry had managed to earn such a coveted status — when Parakarry dropped his pleasantries or was forced to get serious in a fight, the normally-meek mailman was arguably as terrifying as Bow, who was an actual Boo.
Unfortunately, those moments of pure bravery and determination were exceedingly rare. Watt had to admit that it was kind of a shame — if just a dash of the valor that Parakarry exhibited in battle could be sprinkled into his daily job, Parakarry would be an amazing mailman.
But the way that things stood now…
"The only other way to Bow's Mansion was the method we used to get there the first time… Forever Forest! Oh, that place gives me the creeps! Last time I had Mario, Goombario, Kooper, and Bombette with me, but having to trek through Forever Forest alone for the sake of a letter? I'd rather not, thank you very much."
Truth be told, Watt never had the honor of visiting Forever Forest. By the time she joined, Mario had already found alternate means—the aforementioned Toad Town Sewer pipe shortcut—that bypassed the maze-like forest entirely.
"How about if you simply choose not to deliver the letter, then?" Watt recommended, trying her luck in dissuading Parakarrry from persisting and suffering a nervous breakdown despite knowing full well that he would never even consider relinquishing a job.
Watt's hunch was quickly proven right. "You know I can't do that, Watt. You recall my catchphrase, right?" Parakarry chortled, holding up an arm before reciting his personal motto as though it was second nature. "Another letter, duly delivered. A postman's job is never done."
He exhaled a forlorn sigh, peering down towards the ground. "And it is during times like this, when I lose a whole stack of letters en route or my final destination ends up being somewhere as far-out as Starborn Valley, where I wish that there is indeed an end to this job. If only I can get a momentary relief from this toiling work so that I may be eased of this saddled burden…"
Despite feeling bad for Parakarry due to how pathetic the mailman came across when he whined in a pitiful manner, Watt couldn't keep herself from letting out a giggle. Whenever Parakarry flip-flopped between showing dedication and being despondent towards his work like this, it made it really obvious as to why the Postmaster had stunted his subordinate's job progression.
"May the Stars have mercy on me! Oh, I plead for your assistance, Watt!" Parakarry begged, desperately clasping his arms together. "That confounded forest has clipped my wings one too many times, and I really don't want to forage my way through that blasted place by myself! Oh, I just know those Boos will have a field day by scaring the living daylights out of me!" He scratched the back of his neck, looking sheepishly at Watt. "I know I'm imposing on you with such a request, but can you help an old friend out by accompanying me through Forever Forest?"
Now, she had to be honest. In hindsight, the feeling that those words brought to Watt's gut should have been a flashing red sign that acceding to Parakarry's request would lead to consequences which were far beyond anything she could have foreseen.
But Watt wasn't one to say no, especially not to someone who was clearly in dire need of help. And thus, being the altruistic Li'l Sparky that she was, Watt consigned herself to cheerfully nod in agreement. "Okay!" she giggled, her eyes gleaming with amusement at her distraught friend's antics, "If you're this scared of the bad monsters in Forever Forest, I'll make sure to keep you company!"
Parakarry exhaled an audible sigh of relief, his face visibly relaxing. "Oh, thank the Stars! You have no idea how much that means to me! Your mere presence alone will certainly play a substantial role in helping to quell my nerves! I totally owe you one, Watt!" He extended his arm to shake Watt's hand out of courtesy, unfortunately coming to the realization that he was trying to shake hands with a Li'l Sparky just a tad bit too late and hence getting a nasty shock for his trouble.
"Oh, no!" Watt widened her eyes, flinching back out of a protective instinct to control the damage. Her tone turned miserable when she saw the clumsy mailman crashing to the floor. "I hope that shock didn't hurt you too badly, Mister Parakarry…"
Sprawled on the ground, Parakarry weakly let out a pained groan in response. "D-Don't worry…! I'm fi-fine, Watt…" he reassured, shakily getting on his two feet before lightly flapping his slightly charred wings to get airborne once more. "And please don't blame yourself for it, that was entirely my fault," he admitted in a hushed whisper.
Watt merely gave an indulgent smile in response.
Yep, that was classic Parakarry at play there, and she wouldn't trade his dorky personality for anything in the Mushroom Kingdom.
And that was how the two friends found themselves ambling along the winding path, both of them floating slightly off the ground.
"I know naught of what your presence of this trip will pertain and influence in the long run, but I must once again thank you for agreeing to this. You're a lifesaver, Watt!"
Perhaps an optimistic outlook like that was jumping the gun, but it didn't prevent Parakarry from making the optimistic statement regardless as the two entered the looming entrance of Forever Forest and slowly began to forge their way through.
…which was probably why Parakarry verbally backspaced just mere seconds after he had made his prior remark. Feeling all his newfound courage being rapidly drained from the chilling ambience, he turned to Watt with a shudder. "This place is as unpleasant to venture through as I remembered."
It wasn't hard at all to concur with that assessment. The sporadic array of cacophonous noises made by the bouncing Fuzzies and chirping Swoopers hanging about the trees complimented the woods' spooky atmosphere, allowing Forever Forest to permeate through the defense of any brave soul who dared transverse it on both a visual and auditory level. Not a single ray of sunlight could penetrate through the dense canopy of the forest, hence resulting in the repertoire of colors within the undergrowth being of a muted dark shade. To even willingly step foot in the place was considered an arduous and valiant undertaking, as a good proportion of the wandering travelers who made their way over to Forever Forest were simply Toads who had unfortunately lost a bet with their peers.
This was why Watt's reaction to seeing Forever Forest in all its spooky splendor for the first time caught Parakarry completely off guard.
"Wow… it's pretty dark here." Watt slowly blinked her eyes to acclimatize to the dimness. But when she did manage to get used to it, her face lit up in a vibrant manner. "I like it!" she beamed, her body glowing slightly as she squealed in delight. "I love the dark!"
Parakarry could only gape at the enthusiastic Li'l Sparky by his side, conversely singing praises of what he considered to be one of the most terrifying areas in the entire Mushroom Kingdom. "Ahahahah…" he chuckled nervously, eyes darting about in fear, "…well, I'm afraid this is where our opinions differ." The fluttering Paratroopa peered up towards the canopy, allowing the corners of his lips to curl downwards as he displayed a rare frown. "Instead of the sun, one can only bask in the shadows here."
"Awww!" Watt pouted. "Shadows are fun," she adamantly continued to insist, her body unconsciously shining more vibrantly as she held her ground. The small wispy sparks emanating from her body were already helping to illuminate the immediate vicinity.
As a stray spark emitted by Watt bounced along the ground and fizzled out, Parakarry found his attention drawn to the bushy undergrowth clustered around the sides of the beaten path. "Blast those Forest Fuzzies, always keeping themselves poised in a position where they can prey on hapless travelers like us by sneakily hiding themselves in the foliage!" he muttered, gazing apprehensively at the eyes gleaming back at him through the shrubs. "They've always been a thorn in my shell, and it appears as though they think that today is going to be business as usual for their annoying charades."
In a sense, it was poetically ironic. While attempting to pass the time and break the somber silence that descended upon the group while they were trekking their way up the windy Star Way, a loquacious Goombario had taken great joy by going into explicit detail about how Kooper had first joined up with Mario after the plumber had managed to retrieve the Koopa's blue shell from a horde of Fuzzies.
"Aw… but the Fuzzy guy inside the whale was okay!" Watt pouted.
"Well, would you extend that courtesy to the Jungle Fuzzies hanging about on Lavalava Island?" Parakarry countered, his eyes narrowing from behind his trademark goggles when he caught a Swooper perching on a branch close to the edge of his peripheral vision.
A sheepish Watt quickly changed the topic back to the previous one. "Although I agree that shadows are nice, brightening them up using my ability is even more fun!"
Parakarry perked up instantly at her serendipitous suggestion. Now this was something he could get behind.
"Yes! That's the spirit!" Parakarry shot her an encouraging thumbs-up. "Alright, Watt! It's time for you to do your stuff! There is no way that I can embellish this request, so how about you light this dark and gloomy forest right up so we could trek on through with minimal obstruction?" he grinned, vigorously rubbing his palms together in anticipation.
"Mm-hm," Watt nodded along, even though the fact that she was young meant that she was admittedly unsure as to what a good portion of the big fancy words that Parakarry was using actually meant.
She was but a child! One couldn't possibly expect someone of her age to have such an adept command of the English language. She could barely grasp any of the long words despite trying her very best…
"Okay!" Watt's scrunched her face up, preparing herself by building up static electricity around her. "Here goes nothing!"
A dazzling light lit up Forever Forest from within for the first time, causing Parakarry to grin with glee.
…only for that smile to be wiped off his face a split second later when he saw a literal horde of Forest Fuzzies and Piranha Plants peering towards the source of the newfound light — in other words, him and Watt.
"I think we should go…" Parakarry meekly said to his partner before thrusting his hands in the air and running for it.
"I agree with you! This isn't cool… oh no!" Watt yelped, deftly moving herself in a zigzag left and right pattern to avoid the Piranha Plants popping out of the ground.
"Hold up a moment!" Parakarry yelped, turning around to see Watt hot on his heels. "Stop shining like that, Watt! You're going to draw everyone's attention to-urgh!" He ducked his head, barely dodging a Forest Fuzzy who had been targeting him with the aid of Watt's incandescent body. "Blimey! This situation has gotten really hairy! What a lopsided mess this has all turned into. It was supposed to be an invigorating stroll!"
Watt squinted her eyes as her body began to glow again, before letting out the excess energy by discharging it on an unfortunate Forest Fuzzy. "Yep, yep, yep… you are definitely right there," she concurred with an apologetic nod as her body dimmed. "I'm sorry… I made things bad for you, Mister Parakarry."
Parakarry simply remained silent at Watt's apology, too flustered to respond and instead darting his head all around him in anticipation of the next attack.
Said attack came with a nip at his shell from a Piranha Plant spawning behind him, leading to Parakarry panicking and flying away from the swaths of enemies chasing after him.
"Oh, this isn't good…" Watt observed, biting down on her pacifier when she heard Parakarry scream in fear. She hadn't wanted things to come to this! She had accompanied Parakarry to help assist him with his trek through Forever Forest, but now guilt washed over her when she realized that she had most likely made things worse instead.
She flew through the forest, following Parakarry by using his shrieks as an indicator as to where his ever-changing position was. After what seemed like five minutes, Watt eventually was able to catch up to a pale Parakarry.
"Why, those rascals!" Parakarry pointed at the mob with a shaky hand when he caught sight of Watt, "They're blocking the exit to Bow's Mansion!"
"This is terrible! The bad guys have surrounded us completely." Watt shivered, the mania eyes of the lecherous Forest Fuzzies and Piranha Plants not helping in the slightest.
With them now stuck in a beleaguered situation that would never have happened had they not unintentionally drew attention to themselves, both Parakarry and Watt quickly concluded that they were forced to go on the offensive in order to escape their plight.
"I could knock them down with my Air Raid technique, but they're all moving so erratically." Parakarry scowled when the ecstatic residents of the forest proceeded to demonstrate their agility by bouncing and popping in and out of the ground. "I'm worried that they'll dodge it! If only they can't move…"
Watt's eyes lit up at his words. "I could paralyze them all with my Mega Shock!" she recommended, eager to help Parakarry and make up for her earlier mistake.
"Go get 'em," the mailman nodded in approval, adjusting his goggles as he stared down the impending horde of Forest Fuzzies and Piranha Plants. "I believe in you, Watt!"
Taking in a deep breath, Watt charged her body before plowing into the middle of the mass of enemies and releasing her accumulated static electricity in one fell swoop.
"I did it!" she shouted, quickly ducking for cover behind a tree stump. "Tee hee… they won't be moving for a while! It's all yours now, Mister Parakarry!"
Parakarry flashed a smile in response, before eyeing the paralyzed foes hungrily. "It's payback time now, you insolent pests! This is why you don't mess with a mailman on the job!" he warned before darting around in an erratic fashion and kicking up a cloud of dust which enveloped the entire area.
When it finally cleared, the undergrowth of the forest was positively littered with unconscious Forest Fuzzies and Piranha Plants.
"Yayyyy! You did it, Mister Parakarry! You beat up all those bad monsters!" Watt cheered, bouncing her body up and down. Her eyes sparkled when she saw the state of the battered group that had fallen victim to Parakarry's ultimate attack. It was no wonder that Goombario had decreed off-the-record that Parakarry was a force to be reckoned with when pushed to the absolute brink.
"I… I did… oh, it's been a while since I worked out like that. I could go for a Super Shroom after that…" Parakarry caught his breath, wiping his brow after his Air Raid attack. Flying over the unconscious mob and pushing aside the wooden turnstile, Parakarry stumbled his way out of Forever Forest.
"W-we made it…" All that came out of Parakarry's beak was a hoarse gasp, his throat parched and dry after all his visceral shrieking from earlier. After taking three more steps, the weary mailman flopped onto the ground in exhaustion.
As a result, it fell to Watt to continue the mission. As the Li'l Sparky approached Bow's Mansion, a Boo with an elderly appearance materialized outside the dwelling.
"Oh, you're one of Lady Bow's friends, right?" the butler Boo asked. "Please wait here while I give her the news."
A few moments later, Bow appeared. "Why, hello!" she greeted Watt with a courteous smile. "Bootler said that you were here. It is nice to see you again, Watt. It has been a while since someone has graced me with their presence. Whatever is the occasion, might I ask?"
"Um," Watt started, "Mister Parakarry wanted to deliver a letter to you, and the sewer pipe shortcut wasn't working, so he asked me to accompany him through Forever Forest."
"Parakarry?" Bow hovered upward, trying to scan the area for any sign of the mailman. "I don't see that guy… oh, wait…" she trailed off, a snort escaping her when she finally noticed him lying outside the gate to Forever Forest.
"Gwee hah ha!" Bow cackled with unrestrained mirth, the Boo baring her fangs when she saw Parakarry's disheveled state. "What are you doing lying over there!? You look like a total wreck, Parakarry!"
"Thanks for the assessment," Parakarry muttered, still spreadeagled on the dirt ground.
Slowly hovering down to the exhausted Parakarry, Bow held her arm out in an implicit gesture to ask for her letter. As Parakarry tried in vain to reach for his mailbag in his prone position, an impatient Bow swatted his arm away and began sifting through the pile of letters within.
"Another letter, duly delivered," he moaned when he saw the recipient holding up her letter with triumph, "A postman's job is never done."
Clutching the sealed letter tightly, Bow then shifted her eyes towards Watt, before grinning malevolently at the fallen Paratroopa. "So, by the way, how are you going to get back to Toad Town?" she muttered with a dispassionate voice, though the smirk gracing her smile implied the opposite.
"Oh, bless my wings…" Parakarry managed to lift his head off the ground, completely horrified at the realization, "…I have to go through there again!?"
Watt couldn't stifle a giggle any longer—a gesture which swiftly earned a baleful glare which screamed of betrayal from the mailman—when she heard Parakarry's despondent proclamation, with the looming dread in his voice perfectly encapsulated within his dreary tone.
"It looks like you're stuck with me again, Mister Parakarry! Tee hee… I hope you appreciate my light!"
Because really, what else could she say? Though things had gotten a bit crazy in Forever Forest, Watt would treasure her exploits and misadventure through Forever Forest fondly.
And from the looks of things, it wasn't a far stretch to assume that with Parakarry by her side, the return trip to Toad Town would be an experience to remember as well.
Happy Halloween! Hope y'all like this quick little story I whipped up for the occasion. I decided to go with the original Paper Mario for this story, since the partners do need more love.
Parakarry and Watt are two of my favorite partners in PM64, but I must admit that it was tricky to think of an idea that could incorporate them both. Though with Halloween looming around the corner, the idea of Watt's ability assisting (and backfiring) in Forever Forest came to mind, and thus this fic was born. :)