My Dinner with Buff Frog
Marco took a slow sip from a dainty looking teacup and grimaced. The liquid inside was jet black, and it tasted like motor oil and ink. After carefully setting the teacup back down on the table, he quickly grabbed the end of his trusty cape and did his best to wipe what remained of the foul liquid off of his tongue.
Marco let out a high pitched yelp and hurriedly tucked his cape behind his back as Buff Frog entered the room. "Uh-... W-well... I think it's kind of an acquired taste..." said Marco.
Buff Frog chuckled to himself as he placed a tray of assorted 'snacks' on the table before taking a seat across from Marco. "Yes, yes- Is very 'acquired'!" said Buff Frog. "I milked the Yelzak myself. Is very fresh."
Marco shuddered a little. "I-... I see... Is-... Is that why it's so... Warm?" he muttered.
Buff Frog gave a happy nod, and Marco did everything he could to repress the desperate urge to gag. Looking down at the tray of snacks that Buff Frog had placed in front of him did nothing to help. One of them appeared to be an eyeball on a cracker, and the one beside it was a swirling mass of multi-colored worms. The rest of them were either insects, or a cracker with insects sprinkled on top of it.
Not wanting to seem rude, Marco slowly picked up the cracker with the fewest insects on it and took a tiny bite.
"So, for what am I owing the pleasure of this late night visit, Karate Boy?" asked Buff Frog.
Marco coughed a little as he took another nervous bite out of his cracker. "Oh- Uh... Sorry for dropping by unannounced like this, Buff Frog..." he muttered.
"Think nothing of it! I am always happy to host for one of my favorite tadpole sitters." said Buff-Frog, with a bright smile.
Marco couldn't help but smile too. "...How are those little guys? I haven't seen them in... Well, a long time now..." he said.
Buff Frog sighed, and the small flippers on either side of his head seemed to droop. "Oh, they are growing up... Perhaps a little too fast for their old papa... It seemed like just yesterday that little Katrina was saying her first words... And now... They are having their first night out..."
Marco blinked. "...First night out?" he muttered, as he absentmindedly popped the cracker into his mouth. Realizing too late what he had just done, Marco grimaced as he slowly began to chew.
"Yes... They insisted on it. Apparently, they do not think it is being very 'cool' to have their papa join them on the dance floor..." said Buff Frog.
Once he was finished with his cracker dilemma, Marco offered Buff Frog a sympathetic smile. "Yeah... I kinda went through something similar with my dad not too long ago. I-... I know it sucks, but trust me... Just because they feel a little awkward having you around sometimes, doesn't mean they don't still love you. It's just-... Well, I guess it's kind of a kid thing. ...Well, maybe more of a teenager thing, but still." said Marco.
Buff Frog brightened up a little. His head-flippers twitched upward, as gave a little smile. "...Thank you, Karate Boy. Of course, I am knowing this already... Deep down... But thank you all the same."
Marco smiled a little. But as he looked down and caught his reflection in the black liquid sitting in the dainty teacup in front of him, his smile quickly faded.
"You have not answered my question yet, Karate Boy." said Buff Frog.
Marco blinked as he turned his attention back to Buff Frog. "Uh- Wha?" he muttered.
"I asked you before... Why have you paid me this nighttime visit? It is not being any bother- I was planning on staying up until the Buff Babies came back from their dancing." said Buff Frog. "I assume you have not come to visit just to enjoy the Yelzak milk..."
Marco shuddered a little and shook his head. "No- I... It's..." Marco trailed off for a moment, as he seemed to struggle to collect his thoughts. "It's just- ...I just had this really weird thing happen with Star... And... Well-... I didn't... I didn't wanna talk to my friends or my parents about it- because... It'll only worry them. This is supposed to be my first day living in Mewni and-..." Marco frowned as he stared back down at the liquid in the teacup. "...I don't... I don't want to worry them... And-... I guess... I don't wanna have to admit... That I might've made a mistake."
Buff Frog gave Marco a sympathetic look as his head-flippers seemed to twitch with curiosity. "...Perhaps it would be best if you started from the beginning..." he said.
Marco sighed. "...That might take all night."
Buff Frog gave Marco a kind smile. "Do not be worrying about that. I have plenty of time. Or, at least until my babies come home. Then... I will probably be needed some shut-eye. You know what they say about needing the beauty sleep!" exclaimed Buff Frog, with a light chuckle.
Marco's expression didn't change. It remained almost entirely blank, save for the sadness in his eyes.
Buff Frog cleared his throat after his failed attempt at humor. "Go on, Marco. I am being all ears."
"...So... After the whole Toffee thing... I spent another couple of days at the castle with Star. After everything that happened, most of the kingdom was left pretty messed up. I-... I wanted to try and help everyone put everything back together... But more than that- I... I felt like I needed to be there for Star.
But after the first couple of days... I began to realize that I wasn't really... Doing anything. I mean, I tried to help with the rebuilding and stuff- but they already had a whole kingdom's worth of people helping with that. And... I-... I wanted to be there for Star, but at the time... Well, things were kinda... 'Weird' between us. And... It didn't seem like me sticking around was helping with that.
So... I decided to go back to Earth. Star and I... Said our goodbyes... And River gave me this really awesome cape. He even said he'd make me a knight if I wanted- All because of everything I did to try and save the kingdom from Toffee. It was really cool."
As Marco spoke, Buff Frog tilted his head to get a better look at Marco's cape. "Ah, yes! Is very nice cape!" he said, before sniffing at the air. "It smells kind of like... A meat picnic!"
Marco gave a disappointed sigh. "Yeah..." he muttered, before continuing with the story.
"When I got back to Earth... I felt... Different. Better. Cooler. I mean- I just survived this whole climactic battle... And I mean-... It's not like it was the first time I've ever almost died or anything... Hanging out with Star tends to get dangerous more often than not. But... There was something different this time. I mean... I was all on my own for most of it. Well- Not on my own... I mean... Star-... Star wasn't there. And it was kinda the first time I ever felt like I really had to rely on myself to survive. I teamed up with three other people... The Royal Songstrelle, Rubriot... Fool-Duke... I, uh-... I don't remember if she ever told me her real name... And a Mime. Together, we were 'La Resistance!' A group banded together to stop the tyrant Ludo at all costs!" exclaimed Marco.
Buff Frog nodded along, slowly. "Yes, yes- I am remembering them... They were locked in the dungeon with you, yes? I did not pay much attention to them... Although... I could tell from a glance that the Mime... Was definitely a genius." he said.
Marco smiled a little and nodded. "Yeah... Anyway, all of our plans and everything... They were kinda ruined when Ludo caught us. I mean... Star didn't seem to think any of our plans were gonna work, anyway... And she might've been right. I mean-... I'd already failed to rescue the King... And looking back... I guess there's no way I would've made it out of there alive if it wasn't for Star."
Marco sighed again. "...Anyway-... Sorry, I guess I got side-tracked. So, when I got back to Earth I felt like I had just gone through this big life-changing experience. And for the first time in my life... I felt like I'd managed to do something really cool. On my own. I mean, I helped save a whole kingdom!"
Buff Frog scratched the back of his head. "Eh? But... I thought it was Miss Star Butterfly who saved the kingdom... You know... With the whole turning into a golden... Thing... And destroying Toffee?" he said.
Marco deflated a little and nodded. "...Yeah. I-... When I got home... I wound up embellishing the story a little. Or at least-... I wound up trying to make myself seem more... Important. And after a while... I think I actually began to believe it myself. Then... Well, I guess I... Started being a bit of jerk. For a long time, I couldn't open my mouth without mentioning what happened on Mewni. And... I started wearing my cape all the time. As if to remind everyone around me... About Mewni. Of course-... It was also a reminder to myself... A reminder of that feeling of being a part of something really big. And... A reminder of Star.
I, uh... I missed her a lot more than I ever admitted to anyone. Even myself. And telling the story of what happened on Mewni... Also became a part of me trying to hold on to the time I had with-... With her..."
Buff Frog picked up a cracker covered in a squirming mass of worms, and quietly popped it into his mouth as Marco spoke. "I see..." he muttered, spraying flecks of food around the table.
Marco sighed. "...That whole thing... I-... I don't really even understand it myself. I was just kinda... Obsessed. And... It started hurting my relationships with everyone else... My friends... And my girlfriend..." he muttered.
Buff Frog froze in the middle of picking at his teeth with his fingers and gave Marco a surprised look. "You are having girlfriend!? Wow! How did Miss Star Butterfly react to this?" he asked.
Marco went quiet for a moment. Just as Buff Frog began to repeat his question- thinking that Marco had not heard him- Marco rose his voice.
"...Ex-girlfriend." he muttered, his voice sounding a little strained.
"...Oh." muttered Buff Frog.
"...Yeah. I-... Like I said, I was... Kind of a jerk. And-... And... I guess I still am. Jackie... She-... She was awesome. For as long as I can remember... I'd wanted to get to know her better. And when I finally did... I found out that she wasn't really anything like the girl I had put on a pedestal for all those years... She was so much more." said Marco.
There was another lull in the conversation, as Marco stared down at the teacup. Once again, his expression was almost blank. Save for the familiar sadness in his eyes.
Buff Frog slowly picked up another snack and ate it. "...She sounds like a wonderful girl, Karate Boy." he said.
Marco smiled a little. "Yeah... She is. She-... She seemed to know the whole time. She-... She knew that... That I wanted to go back. That I wasn't happy just clawing at the glory days... I wanted to have adventures again. I wanted... I wanted to go back to Mewni. And-... And try have things be the way they were before... Just-... Just for a little while. The whole time we were dating, I always had my head in the clouds... Thinking about adventures and -..." Marco began to say something, only to quickly stop short.
'Thinking about Star...'
Marco wasn't quite ready to admit that last part. Not out loud, and not even to himself. Yet, somehow, Buff Frog seemed to get the picture.
"Your heart... It was somewhere else." said Buff Frog.
Marco paused for a moment and then gave a slow nod. "Yeah..." he muttered. "So... Um... After-... After she broke up with me, I decided... To try and get this Mewni stuff outta my system. I-... I knew what I wanted to do too. I wanted... To be a knight. Or-... Something... Cool. I wanted to prove to myself that I could be more than just all talk... So-... So, I packed a bag and became Earth's second-dimensional exchange student. Just... You know- The other way.
I thought... I thought I'd come back to the castle... And take up River's offer to become a knight. Then, I'd get to go on my own cool adventures... And-... And I'd get to see Star again. It felt like... Well, everything I ever wanted. I was... I was so excited. I was gonna open up a whole new chapter of my life, and... And I'd get to have Star in it..." as Marco spoke, his voice seemed to get quieter and more emotional.
Buff Frog sighed, as he rubbed his belly. "...I sense a big 'but' coming... And not just my own... Oof- I need to lay off the fat-worms..." he muttered.
Marco took a long, deep breath. As he exhaled, he seemed to tremble. Frowning to himself, he slowly ran his hand through his hair and sighed. '...I'm getting all emotional...' he thought. 'I... I gotta cut that out or else I'm going to wind up...' his thoughts trailed off, as Marco took another deep breath and did his best to push down the surge of emotion in his chest.
After taking another deep breath, Marco continued.
"When I came back ...Star wasn't... She wasn't happy to see me. I-... I mean... I did just show up unannounced... Like... Like a jerk... But-... Right away... It felt like... I was intruding. Then... I found out that River's offer for me to become a knight... Was... Well-... Not a lie, but... It wasn't something he ever expected me to take him up on. Apparently, before someone can be a knight they've gotta be a squire first. So... I decided to do that.
I-... Even though I was disappointed that I couldn't be a knight... I was super excited to try and be squire first. All I had to do was find a knight to take me under their wing. And... Star helped me with that. But-... It was pretty obvious that she didn't want to. In fact... It kinda felt like she didn't want me there at all. ...Actually- It didn't just feel that way. I could tell that she didn't. And... And that... Really sucked.
I know... I know it's all my fault. Maybe... Maybe if I'd just handled it differently... But I-... I was just so caught off guard by it. Apparently... She's decided to dedicate herself to being a better princess. To rebuild her kingdom, and make it better. She, uh... She also started dating Tom again.
She... She built a whole new life for herself. And-... And I wasn't supposed to be a part of it. In the end... She decided to make me her squire. It's kind of an unofficial position, but... But she decided to let me have it... So that we could be friends again." said Marco.
Buff Frog nodded. "...I see. And... You... Are not happy with this?" he asked.
Marco shook his head. "Of course not. I'm honored to be a part of her life again... But..." Marco frowned a little, as he struggled to find the right words to express to a storm of feelings swirling around in his chest. There was a tremendous swell of anger, betrayal, sadness, loneliness, and hopelessness inside of him, coupled with a very intense pain.
That pain had stayed with him all day, and it was beginning to feel unbearable. Every time he tried to think of something else, his mind would invariably drift back to Star and the look she had held in her eyes.
If there was one person in the world that Marco Diaz had ever been sure would never look at him that way... It was Star.
Total apathy. Mixed occasionally with an anger that seemed to drift towards disgust.
And it was all his fault.
Marco grit his teeth.
"...When... When she decided to make me her squire... I-... I could tell... That... That it was out of a sense of pity." he muttered. As he spoke his voice began to shake again. And unbeknownst to him, tears began to form in his eyes. "I-... I know... I know that she doesn't need me. She's never needed me. But-... I-... I guess... I always thought that I was at least a good friend. But... But I'm not. I-... I proved that already. By... By barging into her life... Like an idiot... Expecting everything to be the same..."
Marco let out a frustrated noise as he felt the sting of tears in his eyes and quickly rubbed them away with his sleeves.
"I-... I should have known that she'd move on! I mean- Of course she would! And-... And now... I mean... I just uprooted my whole life to come here, and for what? To annoy my-... My ex-best friend? I-... I don't want to do that... I-..." Marco struggled with all his might to choke down a sob, as he held his head in his hands. "...I'm such an idiot. I-... I really just... I mean... I know... I know... That I'm useless. Especially-... Especially compared to her. Heck- Compared to everyone! Star's a magical princess! Jackie's an amazing, awesome person! Even Alfonzo and Ferguson... They're not perfect, but at least they know who they are! And they're happy! Even Janna seems to have stuff sorted out better than I do! I just-... I just..."
Finally, Marco could no longer hold it in. A single sob erupted from his lips. Followed quickly by another, and another.
"I-... I'm a loser..." he choked, between sobs. "I mean... I mean, look at me! What am I even doing here? I just... Now I'm here, bothering you with all of my... My dumb... Stuff..."
Buff Frog slowly stood up and leaned over the table to place his hand on Marco's head. "Shush now, Karate Boy. Is not 'stupid'. And you are not 'loser'." he said.
Marco took a deep breath, as he struggled to force the sudden influx of tears streaming down his face to stop. "I-... I am... I mean... I-... I'm just a dumb kid... Trying to play around in some fantasy land... Dreaming about the kinda stuff that only exists in Saturday morning cartoons... Hero's... Adventures... None of that stuff... Was ever supposed to come anywhere near me. And-... And it only did, because of Star. By myself... I-... I can't do anything." he muttered.
As Buff Frog watched the twisted knot of emotions begin to unravel within Marco, all he could do was keep his hand rested on his head.
Watching Marco reminded him of the night he was fired by Ludo, under Toffee's guidance, and then thrown out of Ludo's castle. It had been one of the worst nights of his life. He had been betrayed by someone he had dedicated himself to serving. He was always supposed to be Ludo's right-hand man- until all of a sudden, he wasn't. That night, he had found himself wrestling with a torrent of emotions. And all it had taken was a single gesture to help him feel good again.
The plate of corn that Star left out that night. That night... When he found himself cold and hungry... Shivering and miserable in the tree he always used to spy on her. The girl that was supposed to be his mortal enemy... The enemy of all monsters... She reached out in the simplest of ways the night he needed it most. She would probably never know how much that had meant to him. And he would never forget that.
And so, Buff Frog stood there as an ocean of feelings, old and new, slowly poured out of Marco.
There was no telling how long it really took, but eventually, it finally came to a stop. Marco slowly lifted his head up, and Buff Frog removed his hand. Marco spent a moment wiping up his face with his cape, and as Buff-Frog sat back down, he picked up the teacup that had been sitting in front of Marco the entire time. Looking down at its contents, Buff Frog raised an eyebrow before taking a small sip.
"YEEEECH!" he bellowed, causing Marco to suddenly sit at attention. With a comical grimace, Buff Frog quickly set the teacup down and began wiping at his tongue with his hands. "Oh! Oh! That is super gross! I am being so sorry, Marco! I- I believe accidentally served you a bottle of monster-ink I was saving to teach the Buff Babies cursive! Ah! Which means... I've filled all of their pens with the fresh Yelzak milk! Ack! I do not believe this!" he exclaimed.
Marco stared blankly at Buff Frog for a moment. Then, all of a sudden, he felt a light chuckle escape his lips. Before too long, he suddenly found himself laughing. It didn't take long for Buff Frog to join him.
Then, all of a sudden- there was a loud 'bang!', as the front door of the swamp house suddenly burst open. As Marco and Buff Frog turned to face the door, a familiar voice bellowed loud enough to shake the entire house.
"PONY'S IN THE SWAMP HOOOOUSE!" bellowed Ponyhead as she flew inside, followed closely by the Buff Babies. Marco rubbed his eyes, both in an attempt to make sure that there were no tears left- and out of a sense of disbelief. The Buff Babies looked like little Buff People. With torso's and hands and everything. They were still obviously children, but they looked completely different compared to the tadpoles Marco remembered.
"Babies!" bellowed Buff Frog, before enveloping the group of Buff Kids in an enormous hug.
"YEAH, I HELPED THEM GET HOME AND STUFF! THOUGHT I'D CHAPERONE TO TEACH THESE KIDS HOW TO PARTY RIGHT!" bellowed Ponyhead.
Buff Frog looked up at Ponyhead with a smile. "Thank you so much for looking after my little ones. I was so scared about letting them go alone... I'm glad I asked you to follow along." he said.
"UH-HUH! SO- LISTEN, THE MUSIC WAS A LITTLE LOUD TONIGHT, SO I'M PRETTY MUCH TOTALLY DEAF! MAYBE FOREVER! I MEAN- I HOPE NOT, BUT Y'KNOW... HEY! IS THAT YOU EARTH TURD!? IT'S BEEN FOREVER!"
Marco couldn't help but smile as Ponyhead loudly rushed over and then proceeded to loudly recount the events of the entire night. As Ponyhead yelled a story about spilling a milkshake all over a group of napkin-people, Marco made his way over to Buff Frog.
"Hey- Thanks for... Listening. I'm sorry that I... Well... You know..." muttered Marco. "...I think... After that... I'm feeling... A little better."
"SORRY, KARATE BOY! BUT I CANNOT HEAR ANYTHING OVER THE PONY GIRLS LOUD SHOUTING! CAN I JUST ASSUME YOU ARE SAYING 'THANK YOU' ALONG WITH SOMETHING PROFOUND ABOUT THE THERAPEUTIC NATURE OF CATHARSIS!?" bellowed Buff Frog.
Marco smiled and nodded. After shaking hands with Buff Frog and received a group hug from the Buff Kids, who were all excited to see him again, Marco left the swamp house with Ponyhead in tow.
"SO- WHATCHU THINK ABOUT THE WHOLE TOM AND STAR THING!? I MEAN, IT'S COOL IF THEY MAKE EACH OTHER HAPPY AN' ALL, BUT I WAS ALWAYS KINDA ROOTIN' FOR-... YOU KNOW... STARCO!" bellowed Ponyhead, as they left the swamp.
Marco sighed. "...I dunno. I... I'd kinda rather not think about it." he muttered.
"YEAH- AGAIN, I'M PRETTY MUCH TOTALLY DEAF! YOU GOTTA LISTEN, MARCO DIAZ!" bellowed Ponyhead.
Marco sighed again and then smiled a little. "...You know... I'm actually genuinely happy to see you again, Ponyhead." he muttered.
After pulling out his dimensional scissors and parting ways with Ponyhead, Marco suddenly found himself alone, in his new bedroom at Butterfly Castle. A complete recreation of his old room, with the added bonus of an incredible view of Mewni. The alien world that he had found himself so enamored with. As he sat down on his bed, he suddenly felt an incredible wave of fatigue. Letting everything out... Every deep dark thought and insecurity all at once... Had been tiring. To say the least.
Marco breathed a heavy sigh as he slowly took off slid out of his hoodie and laid down on his bed.
"...I'd better buy something nice for Buff Frog the next time I wind up at Quest Buy..." he muttered, with a yawn.
Nothing had been fixed. Marco knew that. He also knew that he had a whole lot of issues to resolve for himself. His life was a complete mess- and so was he. And it was going to take a lot of effort if he was going to try and move forward in his life. And if he was going to try, then that meant admitting something that he had always kept secret.
Something that he had kept locked away for a long time now. Something he hadn't even admitted to himself yet- let alone to anyone else.
It was time. And he knew it.
Marco took a deep breath.
Admitting it to himself was a big step. Something he had never planned to do. But all of a sudden, it had become clear... Denying it to himself wasn't working anymore. Jackie had realized that, and she practically told him as much.
It was going to be difficult to carry it with him. Star had already moved on. And, she was happy.
But... He couldn't keep lying anymore. At least not to himself.
"...I'm in love with Star." he muttered. "And... I guess I'm a bigger jerk than I give myself credit for..."
Marco sighed. Already, he could sense the same negative feelings slowly rising up once more. "...I've gotta face this. And... Now... I gotta figure out what comes next. Either way... I'm not gonna mess anything else up for her. At the very least... I know I can do that."
As Marco finally drifted off to sleep, he felt a new resolve begin to form in his mind. He had come to Mewni with a purpose. To improve himself. And no matter what... He was going to do just that.
(AN: So... This was written as a sort of catharsis for myself. After watching and *really* not enjoying the episodes 'Lint Catcher' and 'Trial by Squire' I decided to try and write something to give Marco a little more emotional depth. I love Marco, and the Starco relationship and I was deeply disappointed by how they were reunited. I could go on a long rant about it, but I feel like this whole story can do that for me.)
(PS: Let me know if you'd like to see this thing continue in some form or another.)
(PPS: Also, please note that this whole thing was written during the span of one caffeine-fueled night. So, if there are any mistakes or anything- please feel free to point them out.)