As a princess, Bubblegum has a bucket load of responsibilities resting on her gummy shoulders. She has to be present at every trial, attend every Candy Kingdom meeting or dance or presentation, make appearances at schools, deal with old and new laws, make sure the city was kept tidy, entertain visitors, all while tending to her ongoing education and avoiding being kidnapped by the Ice King.
The fact that Bubblegum has any friends is a mystery considering her cramped schedule. Despite that, however, she always makes room for movie night. If she doesn't have one night of freedom a week, she will go mad and balloon until she pops, just like her Uncle Chew.
Dressed in her more casual set of clothes - the one pair of jeans she owns and a tank-top beneath a purple jacket - the princess shakes her shoulders to rid herself of the stress that had built up during the week. A nearby princess had been captured just the day before. It hadn't taken long for Finn and Jake to deal with the situation, but it still makes the princess all rigid with tension knowing that the Ice King wasn't something Bubblegum could always protect her citizens from. She's supposed to be their leader and she couldn't even fend off a fat man who spent his time talking to penguins.
Bubblegum huffs the thoughts away, burying her hands into her jacket pockets. It's movie night. No royal responsibilities. No worries. Pakuna matato, or whatever those strange animals in that cartoon she had watched last week at Finn and Jake's had said.
When she arrives at the enormous tree that Finn and Jake have renovated into their home, the sky is damp with darkness and the windows are filled with yellow light. She jogs the rest of the way, emerging into the warm abode to loud chattering and the smell of caramel popcorn. Bubblegum smiles, pushing the door behind her while shrugging off her jacket.
"Hey, Princess!" Jake waves at her from his position on the couch, already securely wrapped by Lady Rainicorn's elongated body. Bubblegum returns the gesture. The atmosphere is light, fun, and already she feels more at ease than she has in a week, which always feels like months.
Allowing herself a deep breath, she weaves through her friends, talking happily with each of them in turn. Lumpy Space Princess is in the midst of telling a rather mundane story about some boy she has a crush on when the door creaks open again. Bubblegum glances over the bobbing heads to assess the arrival. Finn is wiggling in the way for a minute, but when he moves, she sees Marceline, clad in a long-sleeved black shirt and torn jeans, floating inside with that seemingly permanent grin. The vampire says something that makes Finn laugh before she hovers over toward the crowd.
The princess spins and puts her back to the other girl. Her arms cross and her jaw sets, eyes on LSP but not really paying attention.
"Vampires," Bubblgeum mutters. LSP questions her but she waves it off, glancing briefly over the hill of her shoulder to see Marceline leaning on her elbow next to Finn, talking. The princess' cheeks are red.
Finn and Jake call the group to order not too long after Marceline's arrival. The attendees scatter for a place to sit. Bubblegum is too slow, finding herself standing in the midst of a bunch of seated individuals. She huffs. "You know, Finn, for having such a large place to live, you have minimal furniture."
"Sorry, Princess." Finn stands up. "Want me to grab a bean bag from upstairs?"
"She can sit here."
The voice perks up from behind Bubblegum. She twists. Marceline, seated in a large, overstuffed yellow chair, is patting the open space of her lap like it's a luxurious throne.
Bubblegum narrows her eyes. "You have the ability to fly, do you not? Why don't you just ... hover?" The last thing she wants is to be close to Marceline - again. The last time they had been that physically near each other - she shakes her head. No! Not tonight! Tonight is for fun and relaxing!
But, faced with Marceline, she felt anything but fun or relaxing. She felt like strung out taffy.
Marceline raises her eyebrows. "What makes you think it's comfortable to hang above the rest of you? Besides, my lap is very cozy, if a tad on the cold side." Her grin is teasing, almost mocking, because she knows that Bubblegum remembers exactly what her lap feels like.
Finn clears his throat. "I can grab a beanbag ..."
"No." Bubblegum strides toward the seated vampire, turning on her heel to face Finn. She can feel the weight of the other girl's eyes on ... places of her anatomy. If Marceline was going to insist on such a ridiculous request, then fine. Bubblegum would prove to her just how tough her restraint was. "This will do just fine." She sits stiffly on top of the vampire's lap. Her cheeks are still burning. Thankfully, the lights are cut then, and Beemo ignites the room in green light as the movie begins.
"Bonnibell, you're going to have to lean back or something. I have yet to develop x-ray vision."
Bubblegum puffs out her cheeks, slowly leaning back until Marceline's chest melts against her. The princess releases a slow breath, shifting slightly to make herself more comfortable. Marceline smells faintly of damp basements and cologne which really shouldn't be so appealing considering Bubblegum lives in a kingdom made entirely of candy where everything smells like baked goods.
And yet, she finds herself preferring the undead girl's scent to the one she's accustomed to.
"Since when are you so against sitting on my lap?" Marceline's voice is quiet, spoken directly behind Bubblegum's ear. "You were quite fond of it a few months ago."
Bubblegum's jaw tightens. "Not now, Marceline."
Two gray-toned hands lift in surrender. "Fine." The vampire goes silent, but as the movie progresses, she becomes much more loose with her limbs. Cold hands rest first on Bubblegum's waist, then her thighs, then find themselves looping around her middle and drawing her back and closer, into a more comfortable position. Bubblegum doesn't argue, can't bring herself to, especially when she realizes just how much she missed being this close to someone - to Marceline. As hard as she tries to remain unresponsive, poise, unaffected, she can't resist the way her body responds to the other girl's. Contrary to Marceline's chilly temperature, she is a metaphorical flame that Bubblegum has always melted before.
She hates it, really, or wants to hate it, or wants to hate Marceline, or herself, or everything.
Bubblegum's head settles on Marceline's shoulder, her own arms resting on the vampire's chest while her legs are curled over the other girl's lap. The movie drags on - she hasn't been paying the least bit of attention - and her head bobs with fatigue, eyes fluttering closed. It should bother her that this position is familiar and so easy to fall into, but she's so sleepy, she can't find any fight left in her. She breathes in Marceline, feels the cold solid of her body beneath her, and as if she were the most comfortable bed, Bubblegum nods off.
She dreams light and fuzzy things, like waking up to Marceline humming softly in her ear, or being carried in the vampire's arms until they were both washed in white moonlight. They were memories she had sworn to forget, pushing them out with busy work around the palace.
Bubblegum can't be with Marceline. It's too much of a distraction. She can't afford distractions - it's dangerous, especially since she's responsible for a kingdom. She's pushing it by having just casual friends, let alone someone like Marceline, who makes her feel ... things.
Her dreams twist and darken - less images and more sounds, like her howling into her pillows, the distant, sad melody of Marceline's bass floating from somewhere in the trees. Painful, tortured noises that dig into her chest like barbed wire. She shakes, shoving them away, trying to cover her ears to block them out.
With a start, Bubblegum's eyes blow open, her fingers curling into some kind of fabric - which turns out to be Marceline's shirt. "What? What, I -"
The room is empty. Even Finn and Jake are gone. The only light is the faint green glow of Beemo in sleep mode on the other side of the room.
"You fell asleep." Marceline's voice is close, her breath smelling of the color red (which isn't a scent Bubblegum can describe very well other than that). "I told everyone I'd bring you home when you woke up, but I think I dozed off myself."
Bubblegum turns, blinking up at the vampire through the darkness. She can see the line of her nose, her lips, the glint of one white point of a tooth. "Oh, erm. Well." She shifts her limbs, slowly detaching herself from Marceline's lap and coming to a stand. "I, uhm, I appreciate the offer but I can, uh, walk home on my own."
Marceline's eyebrows are incredulous. She stands as well, running her hands over her rumpled jeans. "We're going in the same direction, Bonn."
Bubblegum crosses her arms. She twists and marches toward the door. "Fine."
The two walk into the cold darkness. Silence drapes between them, Marceline floating a good distance behind the princess. Goosebumps rise over Bubblegum's gummy flesh. A few months ago, the chilly night didn't bother her at all. She had lost her immunity to the cold because she shielded herself from it.
The princess stops. Marceline never called her by her full name. It was how Bubblegum knew she was dropping her comedic front and getting serious. She turns, already hesitant, arms locked over her chest. "Yeah?"
The vampire is hovering just an inch or two over the ground. Her arms are crossed too, eyes flicking over the damp grass before lifting to find the princess. "Look, I know - I know you said that we couldn't, that we had to ... for the kingdom ..." Marceline drops to the ground. "But can't we even ... can't we be friends, at least? It's like you can't even look at me anymore."
Bubblegum's throat tightens. The past few months had nearly driven her mad with Marceline's absence; her balcony was always empty, her bed, her arms. She always felt alone, even when she was surrounded by her butlers and servants and advisers. Movie night was the only time of the week that she felt just the tiniest bit better.
But Marceline was always there as a reminder of what she had given up for the supposed 'better good' of her kingdom.
"Marceline, I ..." Bubblegum can't find any words. She shifts from one foot to the other until she gives a rough sigh and closes her eyes. "I don't know. Being around you at all is so distracting and I just know that if we start to hang out again it'll just start over, you know?" Her eyes open. Marceline is staring at her with her lips slightly parted. "You'll tell jokes, you'll make me laugh, you'll listen to my secrets and make fun of my science experiments and play music in my bedroom and then we'll start kissing again and I'll want to be with you more and more and I'll start to loathe being a princess because it means less time with you and I just can't do it, Marceline. I'm a monarch and I have responsibilities and I can't -"
Marceline moves so fast, she nearly misses it just by blinking. Cold hands are frozen on her cheeks, drawing her closer, pressing dark lips to her own. The kiss presses all of the other words Bubblegum had prepared back down her throat. Bubblegum hadn't forgotten how good of a kisser the vampire was, but the stark reminder blows all of her other thoughts out of her mind - all of her royal responsibilities shrink compared to this kiss, this girl, who had kept her distance when Bubblegum asked her to, who stopped coming to visit, who stopped playing music for her, who stopped being her friend and her lover for the sake of the kingdom.
Bubblegum had asked so much of her and she could tell by the tension in Marceline's hands and lips just how hard it had been for her to hold back all this time.
They separate with the sound of Bubblegum gasping for air. She wobbles on her feet, only standing because of the firm grip of Marceline's hands on her shoulders.
"Last time, you didn't give me the chance to talk. You told me what you thought was best and made me leave." Marceline presses a finger to Bubblegum's parted lips. "No. It's my turn. I know you have a lot of responsibilities. I know you're busy. I know you've got a lot of stuff to do back in that frosty castle of yours. But these months have sucked, haven't they?"
Bubblegum's lip quivers behind Marceline's finger. She can't argue, so she just nods.
"I'm not forcing you to choose me over the kingdom. I know I can't ask that of you. What I am asking is for you to schedule me into your busy life as best as you can. I'll take you as often as possible, even if it's just movie night." The vampire lowers her finger and smiles faintly, stepping closer. One hand finds Bubblegum's, twisting their fingers together. "I've missed you."
"Oh, Marceline." Bubblegum swings her free arm around the queen's neck, hugging her tightly. Her face buries itself into the girl's neck. She's crying before she can help it. Marceline's cold palm runs down her back. "You're not mad? You're not furious with me?"
Marceline chuckles. "No. Isn't there some saying - absence makes the heart grow fonder, or some sappy butterscotch like that?"
Bubblegum shakes her head into the vampire's neck. "I've wasted so much time."
"Aren't you due for a vacation?"
Bubblegum blinks and pulls back. "Do princesses get vacations?"
Marceline's eyebrow cocks. "Isn't that up to you, your Majesty?"
The pink-hued girl smiles slowly. "I'll hold a council tomorrow."
"After you spend the night with me."
"Yes." Bubblegum hops up, Marceline's arm curling under her knees. With no effort, the vampire lifts the other girl into the sky. "After I spend the night with you."
And the night after that, and the night after that.
A/N: Bubbeline. Can't stop won't stop.