Just thought I'd write something for someone.

Gratitude

She sighed again for the third time.

She had lost time of how long she had been staring out into the town of her kingdom. The candy people acted out their daily lives like they did every day, watering their flowers, walking their pets, the children playing their favorite game of Frisbee. Every once in a while, there would be an interesting event like someone would shout, two or three people would chat, or something would tip over or break because the kid's Frisbee steered off course of its trajectory, but nothing held her attention span for more than a few minutes.

She was dreadfully bored, having nothing to do or anything to be done. She had finished all of her experiments and didn't feel like engaging in any research. She could just take a nap to make the day go by faster, but she didn't want to be lazy and she wasn't tired yet. Her friend Rainicorn was out on a date with her boyfriend Jake. Last she heard of her they were going to serenade some frogs with their violas, so it would be a while before she could bring herself to call her for any form of excitement or abolishment of boredom.

'Rainicorn is usually busy, hanging out with Jake,' she thought.

While the princess and Rainicorn were great friends, they weren't seen together very often. Rainicorn would be too busy with Jake whenever Bubblegum had free time, and Bubblegum would be too busy with experiments or royal duty whenever Rainicorn was free. And whenever they did get together, they would usually chat about what they've been up to or any interesting events that happened or will happen. So even if Rainicorn was almost done with her date, there wouldn't be much for her and the princess to do that would be any different from a regular chat, especially if they could do it by phone.

She sighed again for the fourth time that day.

'Man, having a boyfriend does take up much of your schedule,' she thought.

Personally, Bubblegum never wasted her time looking for a boyfriend or any male acquaintance. They'd get in the way of her time fiddling with experiments or royal duty. And besides, the last boyfriend she had had the misfortune of getting his head bitten at the petting zoo they visited. He's okay now, after he was resurrected, but she dropped the relationship because they spent little time together anyway. And he tried to bite her, but that wasn't his fault anyway.

'Besides, having a boyfriend will eventually lead to marriage, and then there would be conflictions with my Royal Contract,' she thought.

According to her Royal Contract, she was only allowed to marry other royalty or esteemed heroes before she turned sixteen. After she turned sixteen, she could marry anyone within the kingdom.

There wasn't anyone in the kingdom she was interested in. The candy people were rather short, and the tall ones weren't very interesting to her. As for royalty, all of the royal people she knew were either girls or kings, excluding that vampire lady. There were a lot of princesses in the nearby kingdoms and the kings were either too old or too evil to marry. She shuddered at the thought of marrying any of them, especially the Ice King.

'Come to think of it, he hasn't come around to try and kidnap me this week. Must be busy,' she thought.

At least being kidnapped relieved her of boredom every now and then, but it never was an enjoyable experience. He always had this weird approach to a relationship that would shut things down before they even started. He'd never let her out of the cage and even if she was released, she would be under close supervision and have a gun to her back whenever she and the Ice King did something. Of course, their first activity would always be interrupted by those gracious heroes Finn and Jake.

'Finn…'

It didn't matter what time it was or how busy they were. As soon as news gets out that the Ice King has kidnapped Princess Bubblegum, the two would drop what they were doing and venture off into the Ice Kingdom to save her. Finn would do whatever it took to save her, even against a flippant man like the Ice King.

She was staring at the sky this time, looking at a lone cloud drifting in the sky with no business to do. As it slowly morphed and shape shifted, she felt like the cloud was taking the shape of Finn's iconic hat. The ears were there, the opening were his face would be, it was like she was staring into a picture of the boy himself.

Her gaze moved from the sky to the horizon. She could see Finn's tree fort from the distance of the Candy Castle. Her mind wandered to the inevitable thought of what Finn would be like as a boyfriend, followed by a sharp shake of her head.

'Naw, not him,' she thought, 'He's quite inept at holding a relationships.'

Even though she had already reached to a conclusion, she continued to dwell on the thought. But the more she thought about it, the more her mind steered from her answer.

'Actually, he might not be so bad. He's funny, he's strong, he'd do anything for me…' she continued to think.

But then, what if he wanted to spend time with her while she was busy with an experiment or royal things? She couldn't have that.

'Actually, he spends more time adventuring than he does with me…'

Okay, so he does adventure quite a lot. But he'd be too clingy and she won't have any time alone.

'Nah, he's not like that. He'd be too shy to cling to me even if we were dating,' she thought.

So what if he would give her space and time for herself? As a girlfriend, what should she offer in return?

'…come to think of it, he has done quite a bit for me…'

But she would always reward Finn with a party to commemorate his bravery and her rescue from the Ice King. Those parties are enough.

'No it's not.'

Yes they are. Finn knows what those parties are supposed to mean. If he wanted a little more in return, he'd say so.

'…no he wouldn't.'

Finn was a shy boy around her. And she knew that he had a not so obvious crush on her. But it's just a crush, right?

'He wouldn't risk his life for me if it was just a crush though,' she thought, 'He'd gamble his own life for my own…'

Whether she liked it or not, Bubblegum was slowly drawing to a conclusion.

'…I owe him so much. But does he even know of my gratitude?'

Of course he does. He comes to every party she threw for him, he cuts out a piece of his schedule for her, and he'd do any favor for her.

But has she ever said 'thank you'?

'Last time I said 'thanks' was when they saved me from the Ice King,' she thought, 'And that was a week ago.'

She couldn't remember any other time she uttered those two important words. She'd initially say thanks whenever Finn rescued her from the Ice King, but anyone would've done that. Has she ever said 'thanks' when they do a favor or request for her? Not really.

'…Finn.'

She felt like she had to repay him now, and not with just a party. She wants to be sure that Finn knows how grateful she is for all that he has done. But how was she going to do it? She can't just ask him about it, and even if she did, what would the question be?

She sighed again for the fifth time that day.

Finn toggled the joystick and tapped the buttons, trying to pass a level on the video game he had been playing since morning. His fingers were getting tired and the controller kept slipping from all the sweat from his hands. He growled in frustration whenever something bad or unfortunate happened, but he kept playing, determined to overcome the challenge even if his hands fell apart.

'Stupid bats!' he thought loudly.

It was okay, though. He was almost at the end of the level. His determination was at its most powerful his concentration at its peak. Nothing could possibly stop him now.

"You have a collect call from, 'Princess Bubblegum'," Beemo said, showing Finn the sign of a phone over a paused screen.

Finn stared blankly at the screen. His focus had been ruined, his hands stuck tilting the control stick to the right. Reality was quickly regaining its hold on him. He shook his lightly and released the control stick back to its neutral position, setting it back down on the table.

'Princess Bubblegum? I wonder what she wants?' he thought.

"Accept," he said as he pressed a fictional button on the screen.

The control pad was winded back into the console, a sliding door closing and opening again, releasing a phone handle from somewhere in the robot. Finn took the corded phone and pressed it against his ear.

"Hello?" Finn said.

The monitor opened a screen with a live video feed of Bubblegum, holding a phone in her ear like Finn was.

"Hey Finn," she said.

"Hey Bubblegum," he replied with a smile, "Need anything?"

Ow.

That hurt.

She was reminded of how whenever she would call Finn the first thing she would say would be a request or a favor. Finn was so used to this he starts the conversation asking about what she needed, getting straight to the point. She didn't want him to do that, at least say something else like 'What's up' or 'How's it going'.

"Uh, no. Nothing today," she said.

"Oh, ok then."

Finn and Bubblegum stared at each other for a bit. Finn looked left and right for that Bubblegum didn't say anything. This was awkward.

"Well, if it's nothing, I got to get back to playing this really hard level I've been trying to beat all day," Finn said.

"Oh, sorry about that," she apologized.

Just before Finn pressed a button on Beemo, Bubblegum changed her mind and decided that she wanted to just talk to Finn instead.

"No, wait!" she exclaimed.

"Hm?"

"Um…" this was really awkward. She felt an odd feeling in her chest as she subconsciously began playing with her hair. She had no idea why she was so nervous about asking. She was otherwise fine whenever talking to Finn in other situations. Why was this time so different?

"I was…wondering if…" she uttered, trying to find the words for what she wanted.

"Yeah?"

"…" she sighed again for the sixth time that day. "Sorry, I'm just really bored today."

"Oh, well, you're excused," Finn said, chuckling a bit.

Bubblegum giggled in response. "So, um…anything happened lately?"

"Not really," Finn replied, "Like I said, I've been here since morning."

"Oh, alright then…"

Silence.

"Do you…want to do something?" Finn asked.

"Um, yeah, actually," she answered, "Really, anything to relieve me of boredom."

"What do you want to do?"

"Uh…" Bubblegum was hoping Finn would come up with something, but it looks like it'll be up to her for their activity, "I don't know. Maybe we can go walk in the park or something."

"Together?"

"Yeah, I guess."

Finn began to sweat a little bit. Some alone time with the princess was something he always wanted, but never anticipated. This could be his one chance though, and she was offering.

"Y-You mean…" Finn stuttered, "…l-like a…d-date?"

Bubblegum blinked in surprise. Finn cursed himself in his head. He blew it.

She giggled.

He definitely blew it.

"Of course! Why not?" she said jovially.

Maybe not.

Finn was about to jump in excitement until he reminded himself to stay cool in front of her.

"Cool," Finn said, restraining his excitement, "I can go to the park right now, but since Jake's not here, it'll be a while for me to get there."

"That's okay. I won't be there immediately, either. Rainicorn is still on her date as well."

"Yeah, those wacky grown-ups," Finn said with a chuckle.

Bubblegum giggled. "Yeah. I'll see you in a few minutes."

"You too," Finn responded, reaching for the button on Beemo.

As the screen disappeared, Finn put the phone down and climbed the sofa. He shouted in excitement and joy and began running around the room to express himself.

"YEAH! I got a date with the princess!" he said, jumping onto the stove.

Beemo made a sound, catching Finn's attention. Was it another phone call? He walked over to it after getting down from the stove and saw that the game had unpaused itself and the control pad was sitting there on the table. An enemy was getting very close to the main character and Finn rushed to grab the control, only to see his character blink and disappear and the words 'Game Over' appear on the screen.

"Crud!" Finn said in frustration.

He stared at the game over screen for a few seconds before he let go of his frustration by putting the controller down and pressing a button on Beemo.

"Whatever, I got a date," Finn said as Beemo retracted the controller and entered hibernation.

Finn headed to the door of the tree fort. As he walked his way downward, the excitement of the news got him riled up again, causing him to shout happily into the house.

"I got a date!" he yelled.

She sighed again for the seventh time that day.

She rubbed her temples as she thought. 'Why did I say yes?'

She was caught in a moment of weakness, amused by Finn's childish demeanor. She wasn't going to call it a date, she was going to say a friendly outing or something like that. But unfortunately, without thinking, she had to say yes to a date. Just great.

'Ok, maybe it won't be so bad,' she thought to herself, 'I mean, maybe it will answer my questions.'

But you can't get the right answer if you don't ask the right question.

'No, this is my only chance. I have to go, even if it's unintentionally a date,' she concluded.

She sighed again for the eighth time that day.

She kicked her legs in the air, waiting patiently for the boy to arrive. She had brought an umbrella to shield herself from the sun's harmful rays while she waited on the bench. It took her a while to get to the park, especially without a ride from her good friend Rainicorn. But unfortunately, she was still on her date and she had to walk her way to the park.

Finn, however, was still not there yet. She had been waiting minutes since she arrived, reviewing the date in her head over and over again, like what they would talk about and what subjects to avoid. Of course, Finn would've taken longer to arrive without the assistance of his friend Jake, and the fact that the park was closer to the Candy Kingdom than it was to his house. But Finn sure was taking his time. Did he even remember where the park was?

Crud, that thought had completely passed by her during their conversation.

'Maybe he's lost…' she thought.

She sighed again for the ninth time that day.

"Hey princess!" Finn shouted.

She looked to her right. There Finn was, waving, walking down the cement sidewalk of the park. She smiled back and waved.

"Hey Finn!" she stood up and walked her way towards the boy.

It took Finn a second to fully comprehend the possibilities of this date. As his mind dramatically acted out how this date might turn out, he began to sweat and blush, his confidence waning as Bubblegum approached.

"Uh…yeah," he meekly responded, lowering his arm to his side.

"So, how are things?" she asked.

"Um…okay."

"That's good to hear."

Silence, again.

"So…what do you want to do?" Finn asked.

"…" Bubblegum was about to tell him the first thing that was on her list she had plotted out, but suddenly found herself unable to recall it. She couldn't remember anything about her original plan. She had spent all of that free time thinking of exactly what they would do for the day, and now, she can't remember any of it. What was wrong with her?

"…Uh, I don't know, really," she confessed, "Uh, what do you want to do?"

"Uh…" Finn said lowly. He hadn't thought about what they would do. He was hoping she would have thought of something for the date. But here he was, stuck without an answer. He had to say something.

"Uh…we could go visit Stan and his family," Finn said, "They're good folk that I know very well."

"Really? How?" she asked, tilting her head.

"I saved them a couple of times on my adventures," Finn said, "I was actually planning on visiting them tomorrow, but…"

"It's okay Finn. I'd like to meet your friends," Bubblegum said.

Inside, that was a little lie. She didn't really care that much about his friends, specifically because he had never mentioned them. But, she figured, it was better than doing nothing for this date.

Only worry now is if their house was considerably far from here.

"Is it very far, their house?" she asked.

"Not really, they live close near my house," Finn said.

"Oh, ok then."

"Come on, I know the way."

She followed Finn in the direction he came from, Finn leading the way to Stan's house. She sighed, very silently, for the tenth time that day. It was still going to be a long walk without the aid of Rainicorn or Jake, but at least she had this chance to talk with Finn for a bit.

She just hoped he didn't brag on about his adventures.

"…and then the princesses beat up the Ice King for the fraud he was," Finn said.

Of course, knowing Finn, all he had to talk about were his adventures.

"Huh, LSP never said much about that day," Bubblegum replied.

"Well, she did punch out her own lumps for the Ice King," Finn pointed out.

"Yeah, considering it was the Ice King. I would've done the same thing as well."

"You mean punch yourself for the Ice King?" Finn asked.

"No, I mean do something degrading for some guy pretending to be someone he wasn't," she explained.

"Oh."

Silence, again.

"Are we getting close?" Bubblegum asked.

"Oh, yeah. We should be coming close to their house soon," Finn held his hand above his eyes, peering to look for the conspicuous paint of Stan's house.

The house soon came into sight in their left field of vision.

"There it is!" Bubblegum exclaimed.

The two walked towards the small house of Stan. And by small, it was really small. Smaller than an average house is supposed to be. This was the first thing that Bubblegum noticed that was odd. The second odd thing was that there was a watermelon sitting on a chair outside of the house. But even odder, Finn waved hello to the fruit.

"Hey Stan!" Finn exclaimed.

Bubblegum made no words as they got closer, expecting the watermelon to talk. She was sort of surprised at Stan's identity, but living in the land of Ooo mellowed out any surprise if you lived there long enough.

"Oh, I know I said I'd visit tomorrow," Finn said, as if the watermelon had said something, "but I decided to come earlier."

Of course, it was just a watermelon.

Bubblegum looked at Finn, and then the watermelon. Apparently, the fruit said something, but, either she didn't hear it, or only Finn could understand.

"Oh, this is Princess Bubblegum," Finn said.

Bubblegum looked to Finn then at the watermelon. Finn considered this melon sentient and she didn't want to look rude in front of him, so she bowed a little and introduced herself.

"I'm Princess Bubblegum, ruler of the Candy Kingdom," she said.

Silence. The watermelon sat there, not making a move or any other indication that it was alive. Bubblegum felt awkward talking to the fruit if she didn't know how to respond. So she pretended the watermelon made a complemented and bowed.

"Uh, thank you, kind sir," she said.

"So how are things?" Finn asked.

The watermelon made no noise.

"Wow, really? Can we see?"

The watermelon then finally moved, only it looked like it slipped and fell off of the chair. The momentum of the fall rolled it in an arc to its right, pushing in the door of the house and entering it.

"Uh, does he want us to follow him?" Bubblegum asked. That was the impression she got anyway from Finn's reaction. It was just that the house was a tad small for them.

"Nah, just peek through the windows," Finn said, walking around the house.

Bubblegum followed as Finn kneeled down on one knee and looked into a window. She initially didn't want to dirty her dress with grass stains by crouching, but how else would she see what the commotion was? Figuring she'd just wash the dress later, she kneeled down with Finn and tried to peek into the small window of the house.

What she saw was just a bunch of mini marshmallows, the kind you put in mugs of hot chocolate, surrounding two regular sized marshmallows.

"Wow, Terry and Zelda made all of those?" Finn said.

More sentient objects? Well, she wasn't surprised at least, only that it wasn't a fruit.

"Hey, congratulations, you two," Finn said to the parents.

No sound.

"Oh, this is Princess Bubblegum," Finn said, introducing her again.

"Uh, hi."

Was this what Finn did? Talk to inanimate objects? Not really adventurous.

"Uh, no she's not!" Finn exclaimed, surprising Bubblegum.

No sound again.

"Hey, shut up!" Finn replied, beginning to blush.

She giggled. She figured the marshmallows were talking about her.

One of the mini marshmallows then spoke, "Then why are your faces so close to each other?"

Huh?

Did they just talk?

Suddenly, Bubblegum was able to hear them. The chatter of the baby marshmallows, the expressions of the parents, despite not having a face, where did this madness come from?

However, Bubblegum then realized the words of the young marshmallow. Their faces were, in fact, very close to the other, since they were peeking through the same small window.

Finn immediately looked away in the opposite direction of Bubblegum, shielding his flushed face from her. Bubblegum also turned lightly to the other way, realizing how close they were. The father marshmallow scolded the younger one about teasing the two, then stating how Finn simply has a kiddy crush on the princess.

Yeah. It's just a childish crush.

But Bubblegum thought about the last time she had been so close to Finn like that. It was when she had been rescued for the first time by Finn that she rewarded him with a friendly smooch on the forehead and Finn reacted like a mumbling idiot. She hadn't kissed him again since.

What's stopping her from giving him a second one?

She turned to Finn, still hiding his face, and spoke. "Now, Finn. Don't listen to these guys."

Finn looked back at her.

"…I mean, what do they know?" she giggled.

"…uh, yeah. You're right. They don't know us," Finn replied, chuckling as well.

Bubblegum leaned back to the window.

"I'm very happy for you two," she said to the marshmallows, "May happiness leash your family for the rest of your lives."

"That's very kind of you, dear," the mother marshmallow said, Bubblegum giggling in response.

"It wouldn't have been possible if Finn hadn't saved us from Doom Castle," the father said.

"Doom Castle?"

"Oh yeah, I never told you about that," Finn said, leaning back and sitting on the grass, "Wanna hear about it?"

"Oh, um, sure," Bubblegum answered, leaning back to sit on the grass as well.

"Well, it started when Jake and I visited Stan and his family to make sure he was doing okay," Finn started, "but, as usual, things weren't okay…"

"…I stabbed the fire dragon with the emerald, took Stan from the clutches of the zombies, and bolted out of the castle before it was engulfed in flames."

Bubblegum stared at Finn as he finished his story, listening in on to his every word.

"…wow…" Bubblegum uttered.

"Well, it wasn't the first time I had to rescue Stan's family from Doom Castle," Finn said, scratching the back of his head.

'So Finn risked his life trying to save this family of food?' Bubblegum thought, 'I didn't think his other adventures would be so dangerous. They don't hold a candle to his escapades against the Ice King.'

"You must've been scared for your life," she said.

"Not really," Finn replied, "I do this kind of stuff all the time."

'All the time? But then, what does that make his battles against the Ice King worth?' she thought.

"So, Bubblegum…" Finn asked, breaking her train of thought, "…what else do we do?"

"Uh…" she didn't know what else they should do. Again, she couldn't remember her previously planned out schedule. "…maybe…we could go the mall?"

"The mall?" Finn repeated, "I don't know, I haven't been there for years."

"Oh, it's okay," Bubblegum said, looking disappointed, "We don't have to go if you don't want to."

Finn looked at her, astonished, as if he had done something wrong. "Uh, I mean, yeah! The mall is okay, if you want to go."

'Not really,' Bubblegum thought, 'I just couldn't think of anything else.'

"Yeah, the mall. Let's go there," she stood up as she spoke.

"Hey Stan," Finn said, standing up as well, "Thanks for having us over."

"It was my pleasure," a voice in the house said, "I hope you two hit it off, one day."

Finn blushed at this and looked away. Bubblegum only giggled.

He was rather cute when he blushed like that.

"Come on, Finn," Bubblegum said, grabbing Finn's hand, "The mall isn't very far from here."

"Oh, r-right."

She dragged Finn out of the small gathering of bushes, walking in the direction of the mall. She had a good idea of where the mall was, having shopped there on various occasions. She also had a feeling that Finn didn't know either, evidenced by his years of absence from there for some reason. So it was up to her to take them to the shopping center and advance the date.

"Finn, tell me," Bubblegum said, catching Finn's attention, "Why were you hesitant about going to the mall?"

"Uh, it's just…" Finn started, "…I'm not used to places with lots of people."

Bubblegum raised her brow.

"But you don't mind hanging around in the Candy Kingdom, especially during those parties."

"No, malls are different," Finn said, "It's never the same cast of people, everyone is a total stranger, and it just makes me feel nervous."

Bubblegum looked at him for a moment and then giggled.

"There's nothing to be afraid of," she said, "Everyone in that building is a shopper, and we're shoppers too. As quickly as we enter, we leave. So there's no need to stress on the thought."

"…I guess you're right," Finn scratched his cheek.

"Of course, I'm right. I'm frikkin smart, you know," Bubblegum said in an uplifting tone.

"Hah, how could I forget?"

Both of them laughed together as they walked. It was a strange feeling for Bubblegum, laughing with the boy she was very good friends with. Of course, they had shared such a moment before, so why was this time any different? The joke, if any, wasn't even very funny. What made this moment any more special than the other instances they've laughed?

She sighed, happily after laughing, for the eleventh time that day.

"I forgot how big this place was," Finn said.

The two had entered the mall and were standing by the trading posts at the entrance. There were swarms of beings and monsters walking in between the aisles of the building, toting wagons of valuables and other such pieces to trade. Finn looked around the interior of the building, which was more like a warehouse with its steel walls and roof, and looked at several birds roosted on the beams.

Bubblegum suddenly remembered what malls were for; buying stuff. She didn't know if Finn had any money or any other valuables to trade if she wanted something that caught her eye, not like she wants him to buy it for her, but this is Finn we're talking about, and she didn't want to be a burden or a bane to his wallet. She began to regret her decision at the realization of this hindrance.

"Uh, Finn?" she said, Finn looking back at her, "I just want you to know that we don't have to buy anything here. We can just do some window shopping, you know?"

"Oh, well, if it's okay with you," Finn said, "I do have some cool stuff in my bag just in case you want to trade for something."

So he does have something to spend.

'No, don't take advantage of his good nature,' Bubblegum thought, pushing back the lurking imp in her head, 'You aren't that kind of person.'

"Um, thanks, but I don't think I'll buy anything today," she said, chuckling again.

"Oh, well, ok," Finn said, turning around, "Let's go do some window shopping!" he said as he raised his voice and arms in excitement.

Bubblegum giggled as she followed the boy, folding her umbrella closed, as she was indoors, and using it as a cane.

They walked for a while, Finn looking at the impressive weapons on display. Rather typical for him, but he was an eccentric adventurer; it couldn't be helped. Bubblegum wasn't interested in such intimidating looking objects. She preferred reading materials and unknown minerals, as well as a girly dress or two. As she thought about these things that bought her interest, she reminded herself that she wouldn't by any of those items. Because if she wanted them, then Finn would buy them for her, and she didn't want to exploit his kind hearted nature for her own sake.

She sighed again for the twelfth time that-

Bubblegum gasped. "My umbrella!"

A small person had snatched the princess's umbrella while she wasn't paying attention and he was running away into the crowd of people.

"Stop! Thief!" Finn yelled as he ran after the culprit.

Bubblegum ran with Finn, having a hard time to keep up with him because of his superior athleticism and her dress made it difficult to run in. Finn disappeared into the waves of the crowd, looking for the thief with her umbrella. Bubblegum sifted through the people in an attempt to follow Finn, losing his trail the slower she went.

"Finn! Wait for me!" she shouted as she squeezed through two people.

Bubblegum made it out of the crowd just in time to see Finn pounce on the culprit, struggling to fight the umbrella away from the small man's grip. Bubblegum hurried to the scene as people began to gather around the fight.

"Let go!" Finn demanded.

"I don't think so!" the little girl said.

Wait, a little girl?

"Huh?" Finn's struggling lessened as he got a closer look at the bandit's face, "Penny?"

"…Finn?"

Finn took advantage of the pause and yanked the umbrella back from the girl's hands. As Bubblegum took her umbrella back from Finn, she spoke.

"Finn, you know her?"

"Yeah, she's a thief from the City of Thieves who I tried to help find her flower basket," Finn said, turning angry, "Only it was all a ploy to get me to steal some treasure!"

"No, Finn! That's not what I originally planned," Penny said.

"Save your story for the police, Penny. I ain't falling for your fake apology," Finn said as he stood up.

"Just listen to me, please," Penny pleaded.

"Finn," Bubblegum put a hand on Finn's shoulder, "Let her talk. I think she's been wanting to say something to you for a long time."

Finn looked at Bubblegum, his anger flowing away from his face, and nodded after giving it a thought. Both of them looked at Penny waiting for her explanation.

Penny sighed for the first time that day.

"My basket really was stolen by some thieves from the city," Penny began, "I didn't expect anyone to come to my help so quickly so you took me by surprise. I also didn't expect you to try so hard to try to retrieve my basket, even though we were just strangers to each other. But then, as you went on about being pure, I thought about the hidden treasure concealed by the thief proof barrier in the center of the city and tricked you into getting it for me. I took advantage of your good will and kind heart, and it's been bugging me for months now."

The three of them stood silently.

"Penny, are you trying to say you're sorry?" Finn asked.

"…yeah, I guess. I mean, you were such a great hero, doing me a big favor to a total stranger. No one has ever shown me kindness like that."

A big favor. To a total stranger.

"Aw, it's okay Penny," Finn said, "I forgive you."

Penny shot up in surprise.

"Huh? You're just going to forgive me like that?" she said, "No punishment? No redemption? You're letting me off the hook?"

"Hey, you said you were sorry, right?" Finn replied, "and I won't turn you in to the police, as long as you give up thievery."

Penny looked down and wiped her nose.

"Seriously, Finn. You're too nice," Penny said, "Doing all of these favors for me."

"Hey, I give everyone favors. It's just what I am."

Everyone gets a favor from Finn. It's a second nature to him.

"Thanks, but I can't turn away from my life of crime," Penny said, "It's my only form of survival. You understand, right?"

Finn nodded. "Of course, I do. Just don't let me catch you next time. I won't show mercy."

"I wouldn't imagine you would."

She walked towards Bubblegum.

"Lady, I'm sorry I tried to steal your umbrella," she apologized.

"Oh, don't worry about it. I got it back and you said you were sorry," she said as she leaned down, "Give me a hug, you filthy girl."

Penny smiled and embraced the princess. Bubblegum made a note to take two baths that day.

"Thank you for being so nice to me," Penny said, "Miss's…"

"Bubblegum. It's Princess Bubblegum," she said.

"Oh, ok then," she turned around, "Thanks you guys. I like your girlfriend, Finn!"

Finn responded loudly, face red from emotion, as Penny ran away. "Hey! She's not my girlfriend!"

Bubblegum giggled. She liked how he would react to such words. She found it amusing for some reason.

"Come on, Finn," she said, putting a hand on his shoulder, "Let's go back to window shopping."

"Uh…okay…" Finn humbly replied.

"Wow! Look at those necklaces!" Bubblegum said, staring at the jewelry behind the glass.

Finn wasn't as impressed as the two looked at the fancy necklaces. Valuables like these didn't hold any real value to him. He was only looking because Bubblegum was so enamored by them.

Ordinarily, Bubblegum wouldn't be there gawking at such gold trinkets. But she figured it was ok since, no matter how long she stared at the necklaces, she wouldn't want to buy one in the end. She already had one right under the cuff of her collar.

'…'

At least, that's where it's supposed to be.

'Gasp! My necklace!' Bubblegum thought, feeling for her necklace under her collar.

"My necklace…it's gone!" she said, turning to Finn and showing her bare collar cuff.

Finn looked for a moment before he realized something.

"Penny," Finn uttered, stomping his foot, "Darn it! I let her trick me again!"

"No, don't blame yourself," Bubblegum said, "I was the gullible one here."

"Well, I'll get your necklace back!" Finn said, turning around.

"No," she stopped him before he ran off, "There's no point. She's probably long gone by now."

"But…your necklace?"

"It was my grandmother's, but I didn't really like her that much," Bubblegum said, "Really, the less I think of her, the better."

"You're not sad about it?" he asked.

"I only kept it because I felt guilty about her passing, but the dead can't blame you for something like this, can they?"

"Uh…no, I guess not."

"But really, such a pity that it got stolen…" she said, sighing for the thirteenth time.

"Hey, I can get one of these necklaces for you," Finn offered.

Bubblegum looked at Finn with disbelief.

"Oh, no thanks. I wouldn't want you to buy something just for me. I'm the one who walked right into the thief's hug."

"I don't have a problem with it," Finn said, raising his hand, "Hey merchant!"

"You called?" the merchant, a noodle limbed goose, asked, "Want some gold? For your beloved and old?"

"I want to buy this gal a necklace," Finn said, pointing to Bubblegum, "What'cha got?"

"I got cute gems and pearls, adored by all girls!" he said, showing them necklaces with dangling jewels, "I got necklaces adorned with all kinds of jewels, even ones so classy they break the rules!"

"Why is he rhyming?" Bubblegum whispered, Finn responded with a shrug.

Finn pointed to a necklace with a pinkish ruby in it, "How about that one?"

"Oh, this gem is an artifact!" the goose said, taking it out of its glass case, "Said to be one of the oldest pieces of jewelry in the world. That ruby in the center is actually from the moon!"

Bubblegum looked at the necklace with amorousness. It was a very pretty treasure indeed, very cute as well.

"As you know, junk this old is very pricey, so I'll need something of equal value in return. How about that lady's crown?" he pointed to Bubblegum's tiara.

"What? No!" Finn replied.

"How about your hat, then?"

"Uh…my hat?" Finn asked, touching one of the ears of his hat.

"Sure, do we have a deal?" the goose asked.

"But…why my hat?" Finn asked.

"Well, is it valuable to you?"

"Yeah?"

"Then it'd be a fair trade then, right? My thousand year old necklace for your priceless hat."

Finn was seriously considering trading in his hat for the necklace, especially considering that he was buying it for Bubblegum. This was the exact situation she had hoped to avoid, and because of her gullibility her original necklace was stolen and Finn wanted to buy her a new one. She couldn't let Finn lose his hat for her. She just couldn't.

"Hold on," Bubblegum said, "Let me see that necklace?"

"Sure thing, toots," the goose said as he handed Bubblegum the necklace, "Just remember, the security guards are always watching," he pointed up at the ceiling, where nothing in particular was above.

Bubblegum closely examined the ruby in the necklace, looking for any sign of aging if the jewel's age matched with the story. There were no signs of rust or cracks along the edge of the ruby gem, and the 'gold' wasn't even real.

"This necklace isn't thousands of years old," Bubblegum said, "The metal of this necklace hasn't even rusted."

"Uh, lady, I don't think you know how mineral's work," the goose said.

Bubblegum's face began to grow dark, "You dare question my scientific intellect?"

"Oh no," Finn backed away, "You've done it, now."

"I'll have you know that gold is far more lustrous than this alloy you're selling," she said, holding the necklace close to the goose's face, "And this 'gem' of yours on the necklace isn't even a ruby from the moon! It's a quartz! From the southern volcano of Sollidar!"

The goose gulped.

"And also, there's the hard to read but visible grating behind the jewel," she said, pointing to small words that read 'imitation jewelry sold from Bobo's Souvenir Shack'.

"Uh, okay, let's not get too technical here…"

"And how much do you want me to bet that half of your 'treasures' are just fakes?" she threatened, "I'm sure the mall security guards would love to hear all about your false advertising."

"Ok! Ok! I concede!" the goose yelled in defense, "Just please, don't tell the Mall Master I'm selling fakes. He'll punish me so horridly!"

"Then leave this mall and never show your face around here again!" Bubblegum threatened.

"Alright! I will!" the goose replied, grabbing all of the necklaces in the glass case and putting them in a box.

"…oh, but let me keep that one," she said, pointing to a large necklace with a rainbow of gems adorned.

"...that one?" he asked, "But that one is an honest to goodness real treasure. I can't just give it to you."

Bubblegum took a deep breath, raising her hand to her mouth while her thumb and pointer finger formed a circle.

"Ok! You can keep this one," the goose said as he took the oversized necklace and gave it to the princess, "Just leave my shop and let me pack up, please?"

Bubblegum giggled, "Of course, sir."

The two walked away from the panicked merchant, Finn still astounded by what he saw.

"Bubblegum…that was amazing!" Finn expressed.

"I don't like my brain underestimated like that," she said, wrapping the necklace around her collar and conjoining the clips, "How do I look?"

Finn stared at Bubblegum with a new necklace, loss for words not for how big the necklace was compared to her, but for how prettier it made her look.

"Uh…beautiful…" Finn uttered.

Finn gasped and clutched his mouth again, Bubblegum giggling again at this reaction.

"Thanks, Finn."

Finn's blush wasn't very big this time. By now, he was used to it.

He turned to the princess and spoke with a smile, "Your welcome."

She smiled. She liked the way he smiled. It made her feel warm whenever she saw it. She didn't know why, though.

Her stomach made a loud noise in response to hunger. She forgot to eat breakfast that day.

"I guess it's lunch time, huh?" Finn asked, Bubblegum responded with an embarrassed chuckle.

The two had left the mall a few minutes ago and were walking back towards the park where they met at the beginning of the date. They were originally planning to head to the Lake of Fire and stare at the roaring flames. The park just happened to be in between the two places.

"Do you know if there's a place nearby with some food?" she asked.

"Uh, I get my food from Jake, and he goes out to buy the groceries, so I wouldn't know," Finn replied.

She sighed again for the fourteenth time that day.

"Well, we can always go back to the Candy Kingdom for lunch," she suggested.

"Eh, I don't know," Finn scratched the back of his head, "Lunch is more like Dessert over there."

Bubblegum laughed.

Finn started to laugh too.

"Oh, that's true. I suppose we should find a 'real' lunch somewhere else then."

"Hmm…"

The two had entered the vicinity of the park. As it was halfway through the day, there were plenty of people and ambiguously human beings populating the park. Kids were playing in the park playpens, families were dining on the picnic tables, and groups of people were playing their competitive sport of kickball. Of course, none of this was their business, until…

"…huh? Hey guys! Time out!" one of the kickball players shouted.

Bubblegum and Finn noticed that the kickball players had stopped kicking their ball. One of them walked towards the two, and Finn realized that the player looked familiar.

"Hey, aren't you one of them marauders?" Finn asked.

"Hehe yeah!" he replied, "I'm surprised to see you here."

Soon, the rest of the marauders began to converge towards Finn.

"Finn, you know these greasy men?" Bubblegum asked.

"Of course I do. I spar with them from time to time," Finn answered.

"Dude, we gotta thank you for introducing us to this fun sport of kickball," the marauder leader said, holding up a beaten up ball, "I had no idea kicking a ball back and forth could be so fun!"

The rest of the marauders cheered in response.

"Hey, no sweat," Finn said, "It made you guys stop fighting in front of that mountain man. He's happy now, right?"

"Yeah. It was hard to maraud without that thing crying," he said.

"Hey boss, it's almost lunch time," one of the marauders said, pointing to the sun in the middle of the sky.

"You're right. Hey Finn, wanna join us?" the leader offered.

"Awesome! I was getting hungry anyway," Finn said, turning to Bubblegum, "You want to join, Bubblegum?"

Bubblegum was less than thrilled about lunch with a bunch of hairy men. Not because of their company, well, that was part of the reason, but considering these were marauders, she was worried she'd find their idea of a lunch to be pet food or garbage. Nevertheless, they were offering, and turning down their offer would be rude. And since they didn't know any other place to eat, she had no choice but to oblige.

She sighed again for the fifteenth time that day.

"Sure, why not?" she said.

"Alright! Marauders!" he yelled to the group, "Initiate formation luncheon!"

"Yes sir!"

"Wow…" Finn uttered.

"…for a bunch of marauders, they're much classier than I thought," Bubblegum commented.

The marauders had set up the tables and plates while another group prepared the food. The tables had silky cloth laid over them while the plates and utensils rivaled that of fine china. They had even set up several candles around the table, even though it was the middle of the day. And the food. Goodness, the food. Roasted boar, whole turkey, pallets of fish, well done steaks, salads, fine sodas, pies, and other foods that you'd find in a five star restaurant conquered the table.

Finn and Bubblegum stared at this fantastic preparation as the marauders all got seated. They tied napkins around their necks and casually picked up their forks and knives.

"Ok guys, time to get our dine on!" the marauder leader said.

The marauders began to take pieces of the food for themselves, using their utensils to saw off pieces of the meat as well as spoonfuls of salads and mashed potatoes. Some fought over the rights to the fine soda, but their squabbles would be settled by the marauder leader before any trouble started. For an unorganized group of brawlers, they had one of the least messiest lunches, or practically dinners, of anyone the two had seen.

"Hey," a marauder next to Finn spoke, "Get your piece before it's all gone."

"Oh, right…" Finn said, reaching for a fork and knife.

Bubblegum grabbed her utensils as well. They didn't want to start eating because they would look rude to the people who offered. But considering it was the marauders, such manners were of little worry to them. Finn reach for a lone steak and gripped the meat with his utensils, bring it to his plate while Bubblegum reached for the honey glazed ham, the closest thing to a sugary meal on the table.

"I didn't know the marauders were so sophisticated like this," Finn said as he cut a piece of the steak.

"But you hang around with them, right?" Bubblegum asked, also sawing up the ham, "Surely, you must've had an idea."

"I never visit around lunch time, though," Finn replied, "Because I'm usually having lunch somewhere else."

Finn and Bubblegum took a bite out of their respective meals at the same time. They were surprised at the taste of the well done meal, considering the marauders barbaric reputation. For all they know, it could've been take out from the classiest restaurant. The taste was so rich and juicy, they had never had meat like this, even Bubblegum adored it, and she didn't even like meat as much.

"Wow, the glaze is just so wonderful!" Bubblegum commented.

"It's my mom's secret recipe," a marauder said.

"This steak is made of awesome!" Finn exclaimed, sawing up another piece.

"Glad you like it," the same marauder said.

And so, the two continued eating their food enthusiastically as the marauders stuffed themselves with the banquet.

"…and that's how I saved the house people from the Whywolves," Finn said, finishing his story.

Halfway into the lunch, the participants began to get full and decided to make small talk to stretch the feast. Finn, having nothing else to talk about, decided to tell his stories about his previous adventures, from his battle against the business men, to the Ice King's wedding, to their search for the Gut Grinder, and the time he helped Donny change his ways and back again. Bubblegum slowly ate as she listened to his stories, noticing that he wasn't talking about his adventures involving her. Most likely because he didn't want to bore her with an adventures she had seen.

But unbeknownst to Finn, Bubblegum grew more and more uncomfortable with herself as he spoke about the stories. She realized that, like Stan's family and Penny, Finn was obligated to do anyone favors, even the Ice King if it was for a good cause. Of course, the others never did repay Finn for his actions. In fact, she figured that she was the only one who repaid him with a party in their honor. The house people never rewarded Finn, the fluff people never gave Finn anything back, and the spike people gave Finn a very reluctant hug. She remembered her original question from earlier. Did Finn even know how grateful she was for all he's done?

"Heh, Whywolves are some very tough animals to fight," one of the marauders said, "I bet those guys were very grateful for what you did."

Gratitude.

"Yeah, I still feel bad that I wasn't able to help out Donny," Finn answered, "But I know it's for the best and I know the house people are very thankful for that."

The marauder chuckled. "They're safe because of you. That's all the thanks you need."

"Yup."

Bubblegum looked down in sadness.

'Just knowing they're safe, Finn believes that's gratitude enough,' she thought, 'So, what's my deal? Why can't I see things his way?'

It still didn't make sense to her. Finn fought as hard for her as he would for anyone else in trouble. He goes so far for any favors he's requested to do, not just hers. And his will to help the needy stretched to any stranger, not just her. So why couldn't she accept that Finn was aware of her gratitude? Why did she care so much about it anyway? Why did she want to know so badly?

If Finn didn't have a crush on her, would he still do all of those favors, rescues, and obligations for her?

Of course he would, he's Finn.

So what was her deal?

"Bubblegum, you okay?" Finn asked, elbowing her arm.

Finn broke her train of thought, realizing she had been staring at her empty plate for a while.

"Oh, I'm fine. Don't worry," she said with an awkward smile.

"You want more ham?" he asked.

"No thanks, I'm getting pretty full, actually."

"Oh. So…do you think we should leave?" Finn asked.

Bubblegum thought for a moment. She looked up at the sky and saw that the sun was a few hours afternoon and she had to get back to the castle soon. Plus, she thought that they'd have to help clean up the table after lunch was over.

"Yeah, I think our visit is done with," she answered.

"Alright," Finn said, standing up, "Hey guys. Thanks for the food."

"You're welcome Finn!" the marauder leader said, "Tell your girlfriend I like her necklace!"

Finn blushed, "She's not my-"

Bubblegum placed a hand on his shoulder, cutting him short. "Come on, Finn. We should go."

"Uh…okay," his blush was starting to grow. He was starting to feel that Bubblegum was getting used to the title as 'Finn's girlfriend' and that made him anxious.

"Thank you for the wonderful meal," she said, bowing.

The marauders waved goodbye as Finn and Bubblegum walked away from the table.

"So…now where do we go?" Finn asked.

"I'd like you to walk me back to the palace," she requested, "It's been a long day."

"Oh, okay then," Finn replied, "To the palace it is."

Bubblegum couldn't help but chuckle at Finn. He was so nice and generous to her and other people, like a real hero should. Always helping people, always saving others. She was starting to wonder if she was even a priority above his adventures. She wondered if he knew how grateful she was for all he's done, even with all of those parties she's thrown for him. She wondered if he puts her before anyone else when it came to favors.

And then she realized that she was back to square one.

She sighed again for the sixteenth that day.

The two had entered the Candy Kingdom border a while ago, walking through the Cotton Candy forest, and the walls of the town were in sight. Bubblegum had been very silent for the whole walk, unable to figure out why she was so concerned with what Finn thought of her. Finn did anything for her, but he did anything for anyone, even strangers and villains like the Ice King. He did favors for her, but he did favors for anyone, even jerks like Donny. He risked his life for her, but he risked his life for anyone, even inanimate foods like Stan and his family. Was his heroism and kindness not exclusive to her, but free to anyone? Why did she always reward him with a party when her safety alone was rewarding enough? Why was she the only one who cared about what Finn thought about the princess? Why? Why? Why?

"Princess?" Finn asked, Bubblegum not noticing.

Why did she care so much? Why did she want to know about Finn's thoughts on her? Isn't it easy to comprehend because of his crush on her? But even if he didn't have a crush on her, he'd still do all of those things for her without question. So why was it bugging her so much?

She was frustrated at all of these questions she didn't know the answer to. She was super smart, so why were these questions harder than they needed to be?

"Princess?" Finn asked again, with more concern.

Maybe if she stopped thinking so hard she might figure it out, reminded of that time she was too smart to figure out her decorpsinator serum formula.

'Okay, let's try that,' she thought, 'Why am I asking all of these questions? Our relationship wouldn't be any different if he didn't have a crush on me. In fact, he hasn't made any attempts to try to covet me into one. Surely, he'd have given up if he made no actions. So what keeps pulling him into the crush?'

Those parties she'd throw as a form of thanks.

'I'm the only one who cares to reward him with a party.'

Those favors she'd ask of him.

'Why do I ask Finn for those favors, anyway?'

Her gratitude towards him.

'I'm always excited when Finn comes to my rescue…'

The idea was slowly dawning on her. An answer she hadn't expected to spring into her mind, shrouded by the same questions repeating themselves over and over again.

'Why do I care about the gratitude I show Finn?' she thought.

Finn's cheerful demeanor, his golden heart, his sheer bravery and adventurous instinct. Only now did she notice what all of that meant to her.

'…because…I'm the one with a crush on him…' she thought to herself.

"Princess?" Finn asked again, shaking her shoulder.

"Huh?" she replied, and noticed Finn's touch. She began to blush from the contact, looking away and clutching her chest.

This was a reaction she had not felt before. Now that she knew what Finn went through every day of his life, only now did she realize that she was the one developing feelings towards him, and his crush on her had no influence in the heart swelling feelings she had for him. Crush or no crush, it'd be the same result because of how much of a hero Finn was. It didn't matter if Finn loved her or not, this hidden feeling inside of her would have grown as a result of her gratitude towards him. She'd still ask him favors, throw him parties, and he'd help her however he could. But the truth had been unveiled, her gratitude was a ploy to hide herself from these heartfelt feelings she had been denying because of Finn's crush. But the fact that Finn wouldn't have done anything different if he had no such feelings, made her realize that she's the one who had a crush on him, not just the other way around.

Bubblegum looked at the necklace around her collar. That's right, he bought that for her, well, sort of. But he would have if she hadn't called out that merchant for a fraud. But regardless, the necklace represented how far Finn would've gone just for her if he was left to make the decision. But does Finn know that?

"Finn…" she said, looking away, "I have a question…"

"Yeah…?"

"…if you didn't have a crush on me," she said, Finn responded with a blush, "Is there anything you would've done differently for me?"

"Uh, ha ha what are you talking about?" Finn said, laughing off his embarrassment at the subject of his crush, "I don't have a crush on you. Honest!"

"Finn…don't lie to me…" she said, "…just answer the question…"

Finn looked at Bubblegum with a sad face. He was worried he hurt her feelings at the laugh.

"Uh…" he started to think, "…no, not really. I mean, I help everyone, you know? That's what a hero does, right?"

Bubblegum gulped. That was exactly what she thought his answer would be.

"So…why do you think I throw all of those parties for you?"

"Uh…" he wasn't sure how to respond, "…because, you're awesome like that?"

"Because I want you to know how grateful I am for all of the things you've done for me," she said, finally getting the truth out of her. "…Today, I realized that my parties don't really mean much in the end."

"What…what do you mean?" he asked.

"Party or not, you still would've come back and save me from the Ice King the next time he kidnaps me," she confessed, "So, I wondered why you do all of that stuff for me, or why I even ask in the first place."

Finn didn't know what to say. He had never seen Bubblegum all sad like this. Worst of all, he didn't know how to fix it.

Bubblegum turned back around to face Finn, her face bright red from the blushing thought she was thinking.

"Then, I realized something," she said, "I'd still be the damsel in distress and you'd be my knight in shining armor regardless of our relationship. But why do I care so much about what you thought of me?"

"You…think about me?" Finn asked.

Bubblegum smiled, giggling, "I guess, it's because…I like you, Finn…"

Finn's face began to grow red at this.

"I like you a lot. And, I want you to know that," she said, moving closer to him.

Finn began to sweat, was this it? Was he finally going to get that coveted second kiss?

"Princess…you mean it?" he asked.

She placed a hand on his shoulder, smiling. "Does this answer your question?"

Next thing Finn knew, the princess had leaned in, the air between their faces had closed, his lips on hers. Finn closed his eyes at the contact, adoring the touch of her skin against his. The heat of his face was whittling down, his thought slowly dispersing into a simple line of action which was to breath and keep his lips pressed against the princess's. Bubblegum felt like the stress of her questions had been relieved, replaced with the happiness she felt from Finn. Her quest for the answers to her questions was over, even if she did not know what those questions were. She doesn't even know if she understands the answer, even. But she got her answer, right there, in front of her. And she was happy.

She pulled away, opening her eyes and meeting Finn's fascinated face. Finn opened his eyes as well, seeing a blushing princess before him. He was lost for words, still enamored by the kiss and the shock of that kiss being from Princess Bubblegum herself.

"…yeah," he replied, Bubblegum giggled.

"…I'm glad, that I said yes to this date," she said, "It was a wonderful day."

"…me too."

Bubblegum looked at her palace beyond the town walls.

"Well, I can walk from here," she said, "Thanks so much for today."

"Oh, you're welcome Princess Bubblegum," Finn said.

Finally. She heard it. You're Welcome. She smiled.

She kissed Finn one last time that day, on the forehead, like the first time she pecked him.

"Goodnight," she said, walking towards the town.

"Yeah, goodnight," Finn replied, as he watched the princess walk away.

Bubblegum smiled and hummed to herself as the sun was slowly starting to set, bringing a shade of night on the opposite side of the horizon. She had never been happier than today, she realized. She realized her emotions to the hero boy named Finn and she expressed it with a long overdue kiss. Oh how happy she was.

As she walked up the steps of her palace, she remembered a particular line in her Royal Contract.

'The princess is only to be married to other people of royal blood or esteemed heroes,' she thought.

Esteemed heroes. Finn sure did fit that bill.

She laughed again for the seventeenth time that day.

End

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