In here, I am under the assumption that Finn reaches Marcie's cave the Memory of a Memory way, not the Heat Signature way. It'll all make sense later; promise. Also remember...
Burning Low was a FANFIC!
BladeGuy9: Thanks! :D
Colizuma: Indeed. Marceline's restraint will be brought up full force in later chapters, too.
ilikeKorn: I've never heard of that group...
Furrylover-to-da-max: The agreement? Oh you'll see...you'll see. Or maybe not, I dunno. Yes I can tell that you enjoy references. It would have been disastrous, especially after the morning's incident. I honestly adore when Finn and Marceline talk about times that aren't the present; they're either planning a future together or reflecting on their lost loves together. Either way, the experience strengthens their relationship. I hope you have a nice whatever too! XD
Hejin57: The questions will never end...hahahaha! :D
Shadown478: Good question; the episode with pregnant Lady never happened. It screwed up my plot too much. Also, Finn needs a girl who's into adventuring and music. Someone he can really spend time with...someone who has time to spend with him.
Ashagon: Thank you!
DH88: Always nice ta hear :)
The Dwelling Insanity: I wish my friends would call me something besides my actual name...
Ashagon: Um, that would be a spoiler for a while down the road. Like past 30 chapters far.
Neverthrive: That be the truth. More action will show up, as will drama, but for the most part, this is very much a sappy romance chick flick. Sorry for that reference, I recently reread Now And Forever (sheesh, talk about author screw-ups! I must've found I dunno how many mistakes...) and am flipping out over doing a sequel. This isn't REALLY a sappy romance chick flick; I can't go without a sprinkling of action! Ash? Die in a hole? That dishonors the poor hole!
Chapter 8: The Suitors
After skipping out on the end of the party, Finn and Marceline headed to the vampire's house.
"We alone?" Finn asked as they went inside. Marceline closed the door.
"Ugh, finally, some private time!" he groaned as he sank onto the couch (he swore the thing was made of concrete).
"Finally," Marceline agreed with a fanged grin. Finn gulped at the way she was looking at him.
Then she was straddling him, her legs folded on either side of him as she planted herself firmly in his lap. She wrapped her arms around his neck and leaned her forehead against his.
"You," she said, "are about to discover why you don't keep a vampire away from her boyfriend," Finn barely had time to register what she was saying before her lips crashed onto his.
He realized that this felt amazing—and not just because of the hungry way she was attacking his lips with hers. She was kissing him, not the other way around. He squelched any lingering fear, any residual doubt, and returned the kiss with so much force that Marceline's grip on him momentarily slackened. Finn let his mouth open completely and finally, finally, felt her tongue slide in. It was hesitant at first, probing his mouth, but slowly grew more confident. Finn rose up and fought back against the intruder, tightening his grip on Marceline's waist. Somehow, they ended up lying on the floor, with Finn on top of his vampire girlfriend. He wanted so, so badly to go farther, but knew better. It was just the hormones talking. He did, however, summon the courage to move his lips from Marceline's and trail them down her neck. She whimpered, and he returned his attention to her mouth. Her cool hands slid under his shirt, just to where they could brush against his waist, but went no farther in either direction. Both of them were exercising extreme restraint. Finn didn't know how much longer he would be able to hold back his instincts, but he didn't want to be the one to break off this passion. One of them had to, though, so it was with reluctance that he sat back, resting his weight on her thighs. He had to take a moment to get his breath back, to calm his pounding heart. He felt like he was going to explode with the waves of emotion crashing through him.
"What's wrong, Finn?" Marceline sounded puzzled and breathless.
"I..." Finn swallowed hard. "I don't want us to lose control and do something we'll regret," realization flashed in her eyes.
"Oh! Yeah, it was pretty tough to hold back," she smiled sheepishly, "so I'm not going to oppose your decision," Finn sighed happily with the relief and stood, reaching down to help Marceline up.
"Thanks for understanding," he said softly.
"Thanks for realizing," was her reply. "Let's not do that again for a while."
"'Kay," Finn agreed, still just a bit dazed.
"Wanna watch a movie?"
"Well, we didn't exactly get to see Heat Signature 7..."
"What! You stole it from the treehouse?"
"Love how you assume I didn't have it to begin with," Marceline stuck out her tongue, "but yeah, I stole it."
"Hey! Stealing is wrong!"
"You're adorable," Marceline chuckled. They curled up on the couch together, Finn sitting normally and Marceline curled on the couch beside him, her head on his shoulder. Finn was surprised that she wasn't floating, but grateful. He loved it when she was actually grounded. She looked human to him then, and it made him feel better about himself. Like he wasn't alone. She warmed at his touch, too, and that made him smile. Her heartbeat was audible, but only just as it pounded louder with their closeness. Finn knew that his was beating rapidly in his chest. Just the sight of the vampire could set him ablaze with strange feelings.
I guess my heart beats for you, Finn.
Well Finn's heart beat for her, that was a fact. It sped up when she was around, slowed when she wasn't, and stopped completely when she touched him, if just for a moment. He was drawn to her inexplicably; what was it about the vampire that fascinated him so? He knew the answer, he did, but it was too wondrous to truly grasp, because he was drawn to the entirety of her being.
"Finn, you zoned again."
When Finn woke up on Marceline's couch, he realized that he was stiff all over.
That's what I get for sleeping on a pile of rocks.
He was about to sit up, for he was on his back, but realized that Marceline was snoozing soundly atop him, smiling peacefully in her sleep. Finn carefully slid one hand around and rested it around her waist, which caused the vampire to sigh softly and snuggle into him. Finn grinned. He hadn't realized that he could elicit any reaction from an unconscious Marceline, and the understanding that a simple arm around her waist was so comforting to the vampire that she just had to snuggle into something made Finn feel quite pleased with himself—smug, even.
Marceline yawned, showing off her fangs, and blinked open her eyes.
"Hey," she slurred.
"Afternoon," he greeted. Marceline smiled.
"Evening," she corrected, and Finn realized that the sun was indeed setting.
"Ah crap! Jake's gonna be flipping!" Finn tried to sit up, but the vampire refused to budge. "Marcie!" he whined. "I want to stay, I do, but Jake—"
"Has his own girlfriend," Marceline said firmly. "I'm sure they'll be fine without you for one night..."
"Marceline! I don't want Jake to forbid me from coming over here!"
"Okay..." she moved, and the comfortable warmth that shouldn't have been warmth, the light pressure...they were suddenly gone. Finn nearly whimpered, but bit his lip.
"I'll see you tomorrow?"
"Always," she kissed his cheek before floating up to her room. Finn sighed heavily and headed out, using one of the rowboats she had put there for him.
I wish I could just live with Marceline. Whoa wait, where did that come from! We just started dating! No way are we ready for that step! I mean, I'd love living with her, but we're not ready. All we're really ready for is kissing. And cuddling. But nothing more. No stripping, he blushed at the very thought (not to mention memory) of his girlfriend without clothes, no living together, no nothing. If we stay together for a few years...I dunno. I guess it depends on what Marcie wants, he tied the boat to a dock built by somebody who had owed the vampire a favor and started walking, then running. I mean, I like having a say in things, but I really don't want to boss her around like Ash did. Man I hate that guy...I just wish I knew what he did to Marceline so I could hate him for an even better reason.
I just hope I never become like him.
I'm afraid that I might start taking Marceline for granted...and forget that she's a real person, someone to be treasured above the world. I...ah, if only relationships were as easy as adventures!
Finn tuned out his own thoughts and just ran, listening to his feet as they pounded against the ground. Before too long, he reached the treehouse.
"Jake!" he panted, exploding into the bedroom and awakening his brother. "I'm sorry man! I...we fell asleep watching a movie and...I just..."
"Take it easy, Finn! I thought you were just spending the night there," Finn groaned and fell face first onto his bed.
"Take it easy," Jake sat beside him and patted his back. "I needed to talk to you anyhow. You see...Finn, ya gotta sit up to see," the human obliged. Jake stretched his arm into fifteen tiers. "Relationships have tiers, and this is the specialized system I'm gonna use for you and Marcie. Most people would use other tier orders, but you'n Marcie're different. Tier one," he pointed, "is hugging. Tier two is smooching. Tier three, which you're at, is cuddling. Tier four is using tongue when you smooch," Finn turned bright red. "You hit tier four?" Jake shouted. Finn nodded, and his brother attempted to maintain dignity. "Okay then. Tier five is when you guys go out on a real date."
"So...I gotta take Marceline on a date? Sounds easy enough," Finn shrugged.
"No, Finn! Dates are nice, with dinners and dresses and dancing! Not wolves," Finn scowled.
"Big oh. Tier six is when you two start spending extended amounts of time with each other, like spending a few days at the other's house. Tier seven is the hardest one; your first major break-up or almost break-up fight."
"What! We gotta fight?"
"Oh yeah. Every fight you survive brings you closer. Lady and I got past it easy. Tier eight is when you make up after the fight. Tier nine is when you guys start getting more confident, and get a little more touchy-feely'n stuff," Finn's face flushed red. Tier ten will be when you say 'I love you' for the first time, and tier eleven will be when she says it back. Tier twelve is when you propose successfully, thirteen is when you have doubts, and fourteen is when you get hitched."
"What about tier fifteen?" Finn pointed.
"You stay away from there!" Jake shouted.
"Sorry Finn. Tier fifteen is when you guys finally, you know, do it," Finn blushed again.
"Now if you just stick to my tiers, you and Marcie should have a happy and healthy relationship."
"Which tier are you and Lady on?" Finn asked curiously.
"Well we're a little different Finn..." Jake blushed. "Only tiers left for us are the three marriage ones," Finn's faintly lingering blush darkened again. "Which reminds me..." Jake pulled out a box and handed it to Finn. "You think it's okay? I really wanna propose to Lady."
"Really? That's great dude!" Finn exclaimed as he opened the box. The ring was gold, with a heart-shaped diamond. When Finn picked it up, the words "I Love You" shimmered in cursive on the band. "It'll be great."
"Thanks man," Jake carefully placed the ring back into the box. "But you know that I'm gonna move out when we get married, right?"
"Finn, when I get married, I wanna have a few little pupsters to raise. I think I'd like to do that with Lady in our own home, not here with you and BMO."
"Oh..." Finn frowned. "I...guess I never thought about you moving out before."
"It'll be fine. Who knows, maybe you and Marcie'll be ready to live together!"
"Why wasn't that a tier?"
"Because that's something that nobody can predict," Jake shrugged. "Now we'd better get to bed. Night, Finn."
When Finn awoke, the first thing he noticed was an uncomfortable emptiness all around him. He had grown quite accustomed to spending the nights with Marceline at his side, and it hurt his heart to realize that she wasn't here now.
"Good morning, Finn!" Jake grinned and put a plate of eggs on Finn's stomach. The human moved the food down to his lap and sat up.
"Jake...? What's going on?"
"Heheh...what do ya mean, buddy?" the dog offered a weak shoulder punch.
"You never make me breakfast in bed."
"Just...trying to be nice."
"Um...okay," Finn shrugged and took a bite of eggs.
"I can't take it anymore! PB's dad announced that she's up for marriage, and suitors are traveling from all corners of Ooo to see her!"
"So?" Finn kept chewing.
"She wants you to be her personal guard to keep away the Ice King!" Finn spat out his eggs.
"What! No way! Marcie and I just started dating, we gotta spend time together! When's this all start?"
"What!" Finn shouted, throwing his plate at the wall. "I was gonna take Marceline out on a date today!"
"Orders, dude. What can ya do?"
"Disobey?" Finn asked hopefully.
"Finn, we're heroes. We have to listen to princesses."
"Ugh, fine...but I got some terms."
"Marceline gets to see me whenever, I get to help you make your final decision, and when this junk's all over, I get the whole castle to myself, to do whatever I want."
"Bubblegum, if you don't agree, then I'll have to refuse."
"Yeah! Thanks PB!" Finn hugged her briefly. "Jake, go tell Marcie!" the previously unnoticed dog ran from the bedroom.
"Thank you for doing this, Finn," Bubblegum smiled, holding a pink clipboard to her chest.
"Yeah, whatevs," Finn shrugged, picking up his own (blue) clipboard. "Let's see your first suitor!" a poorly disguised Ice King walked in. "Wha—Ice King! Get outta here!" he fled in terror. "Okay. Who's next?"
"Um...the Lord of the Marsh," a duck waddled in.
"No," Finn said immediately. "He looks suspicious. Next!"
They went through endless suitors before Marceline showed up.
"Marcie!" Finn dropped his clipboard and hugged her tightly.
"Okay, okay! I get it, ya missed me!" she laughed. "Now let go of me!" he obliged and picked up his clipboard again. "Where're we at on the list?"
"Um...Night Prince," a young man with skin and lips the color of the night sky, white eyes, and night-colored robes that twinkled as though they held tiny stars entered. A hood was over his head, but he lowered it to reveal a mane of black hair. Bubblegum looked very starstruck.
"Please, call me Night," he said in a deep voice, his smile barely visible.
"Okay..." she replied in a small voice.
"Tell us about yourself," Finn said, noticing his friend's clear interest. "Why do you want to marry Princess Bubblegum?"
"Well I hail from the distant Night Kingdom, where all is dark. I was engaged to our rival kingdom's heir, Day Princess, but my father permitted me to seek out my wife elsewhere. I had seen the lovely Princess Bubblegum before, but only from afar. When I heard she was to be wed, I knew the opportunity was too good to pass up."
"Hm..." Finn frowned. "What can you offer the Candy Kingdom should you be made its king?"
"Alas, I have no treasure or skills, only the love in my heart and the hearts of my people," he replied gently.
"Okay that's cool and all, but what can you offer to the future queen?" Marceline pressed, examining her nails. "After all, she needs someone with good morals," there was a hidden barb in that, aimed towards Bubblegum. Finn sensed it, and saw the princess stiffen.
"I can only offer her my love for all our lives," Night smiled. "And, of course, my hound's firstborn, should the poor dog ever find her significant other," Bubblegum's eyes filled with stars.
"Pretty fancy cloak ya got there," Marceline noticed.
"Oh this? These are simply my everyday clothes. They contain real stars," Bubblegum shook away her stupor.
"B-but that should be—!"
"Impossible?" Night cut her off and chuckled, causing her to blush. "Never question what is real, my dear, simply accept."
"Okay, time's up, bye-bye," Marceline shoved him out. "Do we have a winner?"
"He was the last one, so we'd better," Finn said. "We had fifty-three suitors, and twenty-eight of those were the Ice King," Finn examined his clipboard.
"Night Prince," Bubblegum said immediately. "No question."
"Um...okay. That was easy," Finn said. "But keep on your toes, PB...something's off about that guy."
"Thanks Finn," she hugged him briefly. Once, he would have been doing cartwheels, but now...
"And our agreement...?"
"Of course. The castle will be all—"
"Keep the kitchen staff around, please, and Peppermint Butler. I like him, and I think he'd look cool carrying out trays of food," Bubblegum blinked.
"Of course, Finn."
"And can we raid your closet?"
"Thanks!" he waved as a very confused princess left.
"Finn, what's going on?" Marceline asked warily.
"I'm taking you on a date," he replied. "But it'll be a cool date. Promise," he smiled and she groaned.
"Why do I get the feeling I'm gonna regret this?"
"Well...okay..." she said hesitantly.
"Great!" Finn beamed. "Raid PB's closet and meet me in the ballroom in ten!" he sped off.
Gotta make this a cool date!
He ran through the castle until he found a small round table and two chairs.
"Yo! Candy people!" two candy people appeared out of nowhere. "Can you help me carry this stuff to the ballroom?" each person picked up a chair, and Finn took the table. Together, they waddled to the ballroom. Finn set everything up and tossed a black tablecloth over the table, plus black cushions on the chairs. He then placed two wineglasses out, along with red cloth napkins and some silverware before running into the kitchens. "Fix up some red wine, apples, super rare steak, and strawberry ice cream for dessert!" he ordered. "Please!" he threw in before running into a restroom to change into the traditional suit and tie he had packed—not to mention take a bathroom break.
When he returned to stand by the table, he only had to wait about a minute for Marceline to appear.
She had found a red satin halter-top gown that cascaded around her ankles as she floated towards him. Her feet, Finn noticed, were bare. No jewelry, no makeup, but she didn't need it.
"Hey there, beautiful, he said softly as she reached him.
"You're one to talk," she fiddled with his red tie, turning it in her fingers. "You look quite handsome in that suit," Finn blushed. "Rather, more handsome than normal," the vampire winked, and Finn laughed.
"Whatevs. Let's do this biz!" they sat down, and Peppermint Butler handed them two wineglasses.
"Red wine? You remembered!" Marceline exclaimed. Finn smiled and took a sip. It was...good. It made him feel...older. More mature.
"'Course I did," he smiled, and was surprised when Marceline sipped her drink. "I can eat and drink, Finn...it just doesn't satisfy my hunger, my thirst."
"So...I honestly have never been on a real date before...one that actually involved dinner. I've been on movie dates, I guess—one of which with you—but those never turned up anything good. I guess you'd call this my first 'real' date," she blushed.
"Okay. Cool," Finn smiled. "Only 'real' date I've ever been on is ours."
"Well let's not make a habit of it," she smirked. I mean, it's fun, just not my thing."
"Mine either, honestly," Finn admitted. "I just think this is something we should do," and he honestly did—it wasn't just Jake's stupid tiers talking. The tiers actually hadn't even appeared in Finn's mind.
"Sure," Marceline shrugged as Peppermint Butler brought out two apples, sliced. Marceline slowly began to drain the red from each of her pieces while Finn methodically popped his in his mouth. They had barely finished when the steak came out. Marceline shot Finn an incredulous look and began to cut it, sucking out blood from each piece. Then, before they had time to speak, the ice cream came out. When all was done, both parties were stuffed. Marceline toyed nonchalantly with her napkin.
"So Marceline..." Finn smiled.
"What?" she asked warily. He stood and held out his hand, just as music began to play.
"Would you like to dance?"
"Finn...I don't dance," she sighed.
"Just this once?" he gave her his best puppy eyes.
"Ugh, fine," she threw the napkin down dramatically onto the table and took his hand. He grinned and pulled her to her feet, his arms automatically going around her waist. "I hope you know how to dance, hero," she said softly as her arms slid about his neck, "'cause I don't."
"So we'll figure it out," he decided.
And so one dance turned into two, into three, into five, and neither of them wanted to leave. Eventually, they curled up together on the floor, Finn with one arm behind his head and one arm around Marceline, who was using him as her pillow.
Because they didn't want the moment to end.