Gumball isn't very skilled at sneaking out. Honestly, he's not very skilled at most things that don't involve making legal decisions. That's what he was constructed for, after all. Ruling the Candy Kingdom. Being a noble. Listening to what his civilians had to say and doing his best to make them happy. He wasn't voted citizen of the year annually since he became prince for nothing.
Sneaking out, however, without being noticed by Peppermint or one of the other guards taking nightly watches through the castle, required a talent that Gumball simply didn't have a good hold on. Climbing down the wall outside of his balcony proved far too terrifying and difficult for him to go through with, so he had to resort to tiptoeing down the corridors, ducking into closets periodically and nearly sending him straight into a panic attack. More than once he almost gave up altogether, either because his conscious caught up with him and tried to guilt him into staying or the icy fear in his limbs scared him stiff.
But determination has always been one of Gumball's greater traits. So he presses on, holding his breath in order to pick up on the slightest scuffle of feet, the faintest whisper, before sprinting down the hallway toward a set of twirling stairs. Heart crashing, the prince flees down the steps and makes a beeline toward the kitchen. His shoes are tucked under his arm to assure a silent departure, socks swishing over the floor of the dark room as he makes his way to a window. Gumball cups his hands around his eyes and looks through the glass. The night is black. Murky, purple clouds obscure the moon. The prince squints but can't make out any moving figures. Taking a deep breath, he sets his shoes on the ground and slowly pries the window open. A squeak of protest emits from the wood, causing Gumball to freeze, lungs still. He listens to nothing but gurgling pipes in the walls for almost a minute before he continues opening the window - which, thankfully, makes no other sound.
It's colder than he expected. He brought the only dark jacket he owned - more purple than black, but it would have to do. He also wore the only pair of civilian trousers he could find. The denim feels strange against his skin, so much more used to professional attire, but they were the right color, at least. Finally, Gumball's pink hair is stuffed beneath a red beanie. The prince almost didn't bring it considering the certain memories attached to it and its previous owner, but he knew that even without the crown, he would still be recognizable to the citizens without some kind of headgear and thus had no choice. The pink tinge of his skin might go unnoticed as he wasn't the only one of this color, though he's sure that if someone were to stare at him too long, they'd figure it out. To try and remedy this, Gumball has the hood of the jacket yanked nearly to his nose to try and mar some of his features. He probably looks like a burglar, but at least it's not the prince of the Candy Kingdom. For once, that was the last person he wants to be.
Tossing his shoes out the window, Prince Gumball fails twice to get himself through. Sneaking out required at least a tad of upper body strength which, unfortunately, Gumball is lacking in. Giving a frustrated grunt, Gumball grips the windowsill and uses all of his might. This time, he succeeds, only to do a somersault in the air and land with his arms and legs tangled in the vines of a bush. Still, he's outside, and that was reason enough to celebrate. Yanking on his shoes, Gumball leaps to his feet and closes the window until a crack just wide enough for his fingers remains. Then, checking the coast once again, he takes off. He had considered riding on Lord Monochromicorn, but there were too many problems. For one thing, he'd have to explain to the horse where he was going and why, something he couldn't rightly figure out himself, and the citizens of Ooo would definitely recognize the prince's steed. This journey would have to be carried out on foot.
Gumball is surprisingly quick on his feet for all of the physical training he never received. Keeping to the shadows and not once looking back, the slender form of the prince melts into the night. He breathes hard and his heart beats even harder, footfalls slamming against the grass as he puts more and more distance between him and his castle. Hearing no pursuit, he slows only when he catches sight of the first civilian house on this particular road, stopping at the edge to grab his knees and catch his breath. Fast, yes, but easily worn out, especially at this hour. It's late for Gumball, who would be just about falling asleep right now if it were a normal night.
Gumball gives a mental groan. Normal. His life hadn't been normal for months. Normally, Gumball would never dream of sneaking out of his own castle in the middle of the night like some criminal to escape to a nightclub of all places. Normally, Gumball follows rules and regulation, makes good decisions, and is the poster boy of high moral standing.
Pushing his thoughts to the back of his mind, Gumball walks on. He keeps his head ducked even though the lights in every house have all been extinguished, leaving black windows to stare back at him. His hands curl in his pockets. He wishes he would have thought of gloves. He wishes he had never gone through with this stupid idea. He wishes a lot of things, but he keeps walking, checking his shoulders only to be met with empty darkness. Approaching the business part of town introduces more lights he has to duck from, stragglers roaming the streets. The same fear that had plagued him back at the castle starts to trickle into his limbs again - what if they noticed him? What if he was much more obvious than he thought? What if someone points him out and alerts the whole neighborhood? Or - his throat squeezes - what if someone not so nice happens to spot him?
Being a royal has its risks. Gumball knows the terrors of being kidnapped, held for ransom, being mugged. The Ice Queen is a constant star in his nightmares where he is always running but never getting away. He's obviously always been rescued, either by his own guards or by Fionna and Cake, but that's because Gumball is almost never by himself. Someone is usually there to watch him just for this reason, so they at least know who took the prince and where to find him. But this time he's alone, walking down dark streets in the middle of the night on his way to a club. If he was scooped up now, no one would know what happened to him, who they needed to search for or where they needed to go.
Suddenly, Gumball's palms are sweating. His heart is louder than ever and the glances he casts over his shoulder increase in number and become more frantic. He mentally reminds himself that he's only blocks away now, that soon he'll be in the company of a dozen or more other people and at least then no one can kidnap him without someone seeing. Despite this comforting thought, Gumball breaks into a light jog for the last two blocks, ducking into the side alley where the entrance to the club's basement is located. He's only been there once before but his memory is sharp, especially when it comes to his city. It also helped that the one time he had been there was a particularly noteworthy occasion that still made his cheeks sizzle.
He can hear music through the door. The bass vibrates his feet and, if he holds his breath, he can hear a distinct silky voice. Without thinking about it, Gumball's lips start to drift upward in a lazy smile. As soon as a drum solo cuts the words off, however, Gumball coughs loudly and forces his lips into a stern line.
Tugging the hood farther down his face, the prince lifts a shaking hand and takes a firm hold on the door handle. Closing his eyes, he pushes his way into the room. The first thing that's made obvious is that the door must be thick because the music is much louder once inside. He winces as the drums are slammed on furiously, as if the drummer is taking his anger out on it. He probably is, Gumball thought. Hadn't he been taught that music was an emotional release? Under the noise is the smell - tobacco, mostly, sweat, liquor, and other curious scents all mingling together. When his eyes open, he scans the circular tables dotting the crowded room, the bar on one side, the stage in front. The only lights are directed toward the stage while everything else is dark blotches. Nobody turns to look at the prince but he ducks into his jacket anyway, taking a few sidesteps with his back against the wall. He keeps his eyes solely on the tables, searching for an empty one near the back, but they're all taken. Gumball is content with standing; it's easier to hide or make a bolt toward the door should he need to.
People are singing along loudly with their glasses raised, keeping time with their feet on the floor. The music thrums in his chest. He knows this is why he came here - for the music(ian) - but he's afraid to look up because that means all of this is real and, frankly, that frightens him. But as the soothing voice purrs from the speakers and all the smoke coming up his nose makes his head dizzy, Gumball loses the fight and ends up lifting his eyes to gaze upon the black-haired, gray-skinned boy in front, cradling a bass in the shape of a large axe. He plucks the chords and brings the instrument (weapon?) to life, the music deep and slow, and Gumball thinks that somehow his very heartstrings are being stroked, too.
Half dazed, Gumball stands and listens and watches for three songs. The crowd goes wild at the end of each one. The boy in front, dressed in an unbuttoned black shirt and dark pants that hugged his hips so tightly it was plenty distracting, waves enthusiastically to the people, popping a few strawberries into his mouth and spitting them toward tables at random as colorless blobs. This earns him a lot of high-pitched squeals. Gumball is fascinated by the boy's ease, his comfort up on the stage, under that blaring spotlight. He laughs and moves his hips with the music and speaks into the microphone as if it were a lover. Gumball is more than used to being the center of attention, but only to speak at boring, dull council meetings. Gumball isn't an entertainer.
"Vampire King! Vampire King! Vampire King!" The crowd cries in unison when the band members finally take their bows.
Marshall Lee is an entertainer.
Gumball rolls on the tips of his shoes to watch as Marshall and his bandmates slip through a door in the behind the stage. Taking their place is another band that Gumball doesn't care about - he didn't come here to see them. Actually, he saw what he came for. Marshall. He just wanted to hear his music, his bass, his voice - he just wanted to see him again. It had been a long time and as much work as Gumball tried to put himself through, as busy as he wanted to be, no amount of distraction could block the vampire out. He was always there slinking in the back of his thoughts, making his breathing heavy, his heart stupid, and his mind to trail off. He thought maybe if he just got it out of is system and saw him once more to replace the last time he actually talked to Marshall - which was a less than pleasant memory - he'd be able to get on with his life.
Gumball chews his lip a little too hard, wincing when the gummy flesh splits. He puts a finger to his mouth and leans against the wall for a time, listening to the first song the new band plays - it's slower, softer. Sad. The crowd is quieter now, glasses tinkling, arms raised to slowly sway back and forth with the gloomy melody.
My eyes said I'm sorry but
my mouth couldn't do it
my mouth couldn't do it
my mouth could only kiss you
When it ends, he claps politely, softly, then pushes off the rear wall and moves toward the door. It shuts behind him and cuts the music off, leaving only him and a cool breeze that penetrates the thin fabric of his jacket and summons goosebumps on his flesh. Shifting his shoulders, he heads toward the mouth of the alley with his eyes on his feet.
He's turning the corner, convincing himself to never sneak out again when he hears it. A voice. The same voice that had filled the room and his heart just a few minutes ago. It digs further than the wind, straight to his bones, and freezes him to the spot better than the Ice Queen ever had.
"Barnaby," Marshall Lee says, and when the prince turns to look at him, heart in his throat, a silver shaft of moonlight falls across the vampire's face, setting crimson eyes aflame. "That is the worst disguise I have ever seen."
A/N: Good evening! It's 1AM where I live and I refused to allow myself to go to sleep until I at least got this chapter up. I'm not sure how long this will be, but obviously it has multiple parts. I suppose it depends on the response!
To clear a few things up: in my headcanon, Gumball was created, not 'born'. According to the Adventure Time Wiki, the land is 'Ooo' in the genderbend universe, though I've seen 'Aaa' used. 'Barnaby' is the genderbent version of 'Bonnibel', but I did get the idea from a fanart that I sadly lost the link to. If you're looking for good Prince Gumball/Marshall Lee fanart, though, I high suggest you check out marshall-lee-and-prince-gumball on tumblr. And finally, the lyrics you see here aren't from an actual song. I made them up.
Hope you enjoyed! Reviews are always welcome and I will update as soon as possible!