They were chilling on Marceline's porch, staying out of the sun's rays so the vampire could relax, and they were spared the worst of the summer heat (Bubblegum was kind of susceptible to caramelizing). Finn had brought BMO, who was inside napping/charging. Marcy was inside getting drinks and the conversation had hit a lull. Finn glanced up and noticed something weird attached to the roof. Marceline walked out with home-made iced strawberry lemonade, floating for a moment to close the door with her feet. She was wearing her grey tank top and cut-offs with sneakers.
"Hey, Marcy, what's that?" Finn asked, pointing.
"Huh? It's a basketball hoop." She replied, handing drinks out. Finn, Jake, and PB all looked at each other for clarification, shrugging. "It's a game, from before the Great Mushroom War. I've got a ball inside if you want to play."
"Before the war?" Finn repeated. "Man, Marcy, sometimes I forget how old you are."
"You forget what, Finn?" Her face shifted to that of a demon, making it abundantly clear that the boy only had one chance to redeem himself.
"Uh, I mean, uh, I forget how much, um, experience you have!" Finn laughed nervously, blushing.
"That's better." Marceline instantly reverted to normal and sipped her lemonade. "So, did you want to learn how to play?"
"Alright, I'll be right back." She flew inside and returned a moment later with a partially deflated orange ball. "Man, I guess we can't play today." She frowned at the ball dropped it to the deck, where it landed with a solid 'whump'. They all stood up to look at it.
"What happened?" Finn asked, poking the ball with his foot.
"It's supposed to be all full of air, it must have deflated. I hope it hasn't popped."
"How do you fill it up?" He didn't see a valve to blow it up like with a beach ball.
"You poke a little needle in here and pump air in." She showed them a tiny hole ringed by black on the ball.
"Oh, I can do that, no problem." Jake assured them, before stretching and shrinking his mouth to the right size and blowing up the ball. Marceline periodically checked it's firmness before taking it away from Jake and bouncing it a few times.
"Yeah, that's good. Thanks, man." She held up a fist and Jake bumped it with his own (after shying away at first).
She resumed bouncing the ball with one hand, not even looking at it as she tried to remember the rules of the game to explain to her friends. "Okay, so, what I'm doing now is called dribbling. You do this for most of the game, since you're not allowed to carry the ball. The only way the ball can move is dribbling, or being thrown. You can pass it to someone else - Bonnie, catch!" She pushed the ball from her chest to the princess, wearing a pink t-shirt and knee-length shorts, who managed to catch it, but dropped her drink, which spilled. She frowned at the snickering vampire and tossed it back, putting the empty glass by the door to the house and taking the other girl's lemonade to replace her own. "... Or you can toss it into the hoop to score points." Marceline threw the ball toward the hoop, where it bounced off the rim and at Finn, who caught it with one hand. "That's about it. You guys practice dribbling and we'll play when you're ready." Finn and Jake immediately set to 'mastering everything there is to know about dribbling', while the girls sat in deck chairs and watched.
"It wasn't very nice, surprising me like that."
"Yeah, but you caught the ball."
"But what if the ball had hit the glass and broke it and sliced my hand?"
"Yeah, okay, I see your point." She sighed. Jake was getting good at dribbling, due to being able to stretch his arm all over the deck to follow the ball. Finn wasn't doing so well. "Toss it here, guys." Marceline held up her hands and caught the ball. "You want to only be touching it with your fingertips. Like this, see?" She demonstrated, easily dribbling while seated. "And Jake, keep it close to your body. You don't want your opponent to be able to steal it." She tossed it back. "That's you guys' new challenge. Dribble for as long as you can without the other person stealing it. You can't touch the other person. Try to walk around while dribbling." With the boys reoccupied, she turned back to Bonnie. "If you want to go practice dribbling at any point, just tell me to shut up, 'kay?" She asked, grinning.
"Okay." Bubblegum nodded, smiling. "Thanks for letting us hang out here, and teaching us this game, by the way. What's it called again?"
"It's cool, I like hanging out with you guys. It's called basketball. See how the ropes on the hoop kind of look like a basket?"
"Oh, okay. Where did you learn basketball? If you don't mind me asking."
"Nah, let me try to remember it all... Well, for a while when I was a kid, we didn't live in the Nightosphere. Dad just went there for work, Mom had a part-time job, and there were lots of kids where we lived. I don't know where it was, I don't even know if it had a name. This was after the war, when everyone was rebuilding. There was a basketball, um..." She snapped her fingers, trying to think of the word. "Not a field, not a pitch... Court! There was this basketball court nearby and there was almost always a pickup game going on. The kids there taught me."
"What's a pickup game?"
"It's not planned, and you don't have the right number of players. Sometimes we had as many as about 20 kids of all different ages on the court, sometimes only one kid shooting baskets, or just the ball sitting by the base of the hoop. It was crazy, but fun. Hard to remember who was on your team, though. I remember some kids, they might've been human, they didn't want me on their team for that reason." She snickered. "Not because I was a demon or anything, but because I wasn't good at playing basketball."
"Then I take it you won't mock me when I do poorly at our game."
"Well, I might tease you, but that's it. And don't worry, you can be on my team."
"Yeah, boys versus girls! Woohoo!" Finn cheered, trying to swipe the ball from Jake's dribble. Marceline chuckled.
"Hey, I'm gonna go grab a hair tie quick, you want one?" Marceline asked Bubblegum.
"Ay, yo, Finn might need one, too!" Jake called.
"Dude, shut up!" Finn blushed, and Jake grabbed the ball from his distracted friend.
"Oh, I've got to see this." Marceline walked over behind the boy and gently put her hands on his tense shoulders. PB was watching interestedly. "Finn..." She spoke softly in his ear. "I'm going to take your hat off."
"Fine." He sighed, bracing himself for the girls' reactions. Marceline pulled it off by the little ear nubs, not wanting to pull any of her friends' hair by mistake. Long, blond tresses fell out, not as long as the girls' cuts, but down to about his mid-back.
"Dude, where did this all come from?" Marceline chuckled, finger-combing it.
"I never knew how long your hair was." Bubblegum had gotten closer.
"Me neither." Marceline agreed. "I thought you had it really short, since it never showed under your hat."
"Nah, I'm just really good at tucking it in." Finn was still blushing a bit.
"Right, so, uh, you want a hair tie?"
"No thanks, I do way strenuous stuff with my hat on and it doesn't get in the way. Thanks, though." He pulled his hat back on and tucked his long hair into place. Marceline went to find hair ties for herself and Bubblegum, while Finn and Jake helped the princess learn how to dribble.
"Okay, so, like, you kind of catch it lightly when it comes up and push it back down, but only with your fingertips." Finn explained.
"Yeah, your palm shouldn't touch the ball." Jake added.
"Okay." Bubblegum started to dribble, fingers stiff. The ball bounced away.
"Try, um, like, keep your fingers loose, um, more natural. You're catching the ball as it comes up to you."
"Okay." Within a few minutes Bubblegum was dribbling well, and beginning to take small steps while keeping the ball in her possession.
Marceline returned with a handful of hair ties and used their elasticity to fling them at her friends, snickering. Most bounced off harmlessly, but a few missed and flew into the pond. She let out a short, frustrated sigh before tying her hair back and flying over the pond, trying to grab the hair ties without her long hair dipping in the grody water. A yellow hand entered her view and plucked up all the hair ties, Marceline smiled and returned to the porch.
"You know, your powers are more useful than I gave you credit for. Thanks for the help." She smiled at Jake.
"It's no big deal." At some point Bubblegum had stopped dribbling to pull her hair back in a ponytail and place her crown safely by the door.
"You guys ready to play?" Marceline asked.
"I think so."
"No powers." She held her hand out to Jake.
"No powers." He agreed and shook.
"Okay, I'm gonna throw the ball up in the air, you have to try to get it when it comes down and put it in the basket. Ready, go!" Marceline tossed the ball high and stood back as the other three jumped for it. Finn grabbed it and stood for a moment before he started dribbling, walking slowly toward the hoop, alternating his gaze on the ball and the hoop. Jake worked on keeping PB and Marcy away, but Marcy distracted him, making him focus on blocking her while PB got past.
"Dude, Peebles!" Jake shouted to his buddy.
"Huh?" Finn grabbed the ball and looked up, in time for Bubblegum to whack it out of his hands, dribble a few times, and toss it toward the hoop.
"Way to go, Bonnie!" Marceline cheered, not even caring if she made the shot. The ball bounced off the rim, against the backboard, off the rim again, and through the hoop.
"Woohoo!" Finn and Jake hugged the princess and gave her highfives, while Marceline just dribbled the ball under the hoop.
"Alright, time in." She said as they turned toward her and got back in the game. "Let's see how fast you dorks learn." She grinned and leaned over a bit, moving one foot forward and using both hands to dribble the ball fast between her legs in a 'V' pattern. She ran to the far side of the porch, dribbling easily, and faked them out with a pass to Bubblegum, the ball seeming to hover between her arms as her hands moved forward. She followed this with a real pass, Bubblegum caught it and dribbled, keeping it away from the boys as Marcy ran closer to the hoop. She jumped toward the hoop as Bubblegum passed it to her, she grabbed it in midair and tossed it without her feet touching the ground, it sailed toward the hoop and bounced off the backboard. "'S called an alley-oop." She smiled, breathing a little hard. Finn caught it and immediately jumped for the hoop, throwing the ball in and managing to hold onto the basket. "Nice slam dunk, Finn!" She cheered as he dropped and they all ran after the ball. Jake grabbed it and started dribbling, walking back toward the hoop, evading Marcy's try to steal the ball, but not Bubblegum's. The princess dribbled from hand to hand, easily picking up the technique, as well as switching to regular dribbling with either hand. Jake tried to steal the ball back, but Bubblegum tossed it towards Marcy, it was intercepted by Finn and he dribbled away, passing to Jake, who threw it at the hoop and missed. It flew over the backboard and bounced on the roof for a second before rolling down, into Bubblegum's waiting arms. "Nice shot, man." Marcy said. It was almost on target, he just put too much strength behind it. PB tossed the ball up toward the hoop, where it bounced and rolled around the rim for a few anxious seconds before falling in. Finn was waiting below and caught it, passing to Jake before PB could steal the ball. The dog caught the ball and backed away, dribbling, until he was a few steps from the edge of the porch. He threw the ball and it arced over the hoop, but bounced off the backboard and through the hoop, bouncing away from the house. Marceline caught it and dribbled low and fast, keeping an eye on it as she spoke. "Alright, it's two to two, what do you say next point wins it?" They all agreed and Marceline passed to Bubblegum and moved closer to the hoop. Bubblegum dribbled for a second and passed back to Marceline. "Dude, I haven't made any of my shots today, plus it's your first time playing. Go for it." She passed back.
"Maybe you'll get it this time." Passed back to Marcy.
"Seriously?" She snickered. "Just take the shot." Passed back at Bubblegum but stolen by Finn.
"That's what happens when you try to have a conversation during a game!" He laughed, avoiding both girls' attempts to steal the ball. He dribbled to the hoop and jumped, tossing it in.
"Alright, boys win!" He cheered, double high-fiving with Jake.
"Good job you guys!" Marceline wasn't breathing hard exactly, but her breathing was definitely harder than usual. PB slumped into a deck chair. "I'll go get more drinks."
"Nah, we've got it, you guys relax." Finn and Jake's breathing was already almost back to normal.
"Cool. Pitcher's in the fridge." She sat in the other chair, slumping down when the boys were out of sight. "Makes sense they'd win, adventuring so much, stamina and hand-eye coordination and all." Bubblegum just nodded. "You picked up double-dribbling quick, though."
"It helps that I'm ambidextrous."
"Yes, they are." Finn replied, holding the door open for Jake, who was carrying 3 strawberry-lemonades on his hand that he'd transformed into a platter.
"Ladies." Jake offered them each a lemonade.
"Thanks. Good game, you guys." Marceline grinned and gulped down half of her lemonade.
"Hey Marcy, what were those words you were using? Alley-whoops?" Finn asked, sitting against the house.
"Alley-oop." She grinned. "That's when you catch the ball and throw it without your feet touching the ground. And when Finn jumped right up on the hoop, that's called a slam dunk. And dribbling with both hands is called double-dribbling. If you get really good, you might be able to dribble between your legs while walking." At this the boys looked at each other excitedly.
"I should get to try first, since you got more points." Jake told Finn.
"No way man, that should be, like, my reward for winning the game." Marceline just rolled her eyes.
"Stereotypical boys." She whispered to Bubblegum, who chuckled, nodding. The princess suddenly downed the rest of her lemonade and grabbed the basketball resting on the ground, dribbling it between her legs. She took a large step forward and the ball hit her leg. She tried again. Marceline floated to let the boys have a seat in the deck chairs. After about 10 minutes, Bubblegum was slowly walking in a large circle on the deck, dribbling between her legs with each step, barely glancing at the ball. Marcy was smiling, glad Bubblegum seemed to be so into basketball. Finn and Jake watched, entranced. She tried to speed up to a more normal walking speed and watched the ball, her circular motion becoming less uniform.
"Princess!" They all called out at the same time as Bubblegum walked head first into the wall of Marceline's house, then stumbled backwards, tripping over the basketball, and fell off the deck with a splash. Marceline was first to her aid, flying over and helping the sodden girl up.
"Ohmyglob, Bonnie, are you okay?"
"Ewwww." She stated. The water wasn't deep, only about knee height, but it was deep enough to get her covered in algae and mud.
"Ew is right, you stink." Marceline was clearly trying not to laugh. "Don't worry, I'll get you cleaned up. Guys, can you get all my towels from the bathroom cabinets?"
"Sure thing." They ran inside.
"All your towels?" Bubblegum repeated, questioning.
"Yeah. Don't take this the wrong way, but I'm gonna lay down a path of towels so you don't drip too much nasty pond water on the carpets." She paused for the other girl to react.
"Oh. Okay, that makes sense."
"You can borrow some of my clothes until we get yours clean and dry. You want to take a shower?"
"We've got the towels, Marceline!" The boys ran out, arms loaded with towels.
"Sweet, thanks." She had the boys dump them in the middle of the living room, handed two to Bubblegum, and began to lay down a line from the door to the ladder, then the bathroom. "Uh, you guys stay outside and practice basketball or whatever."
"But the ball's all covered in muck." Jake stretched his arms over to grab it from the lake.
"Deal with it." Marceline shrugged and helped Bubblegum wrap a towel around her hair. The girls entered the house and shut the door.
"Um. Would rinsing the ball off in the pond help?" Finn suggested.
"I doubt it, man. These waters are kinda rank."
"I mean like out in the middle of the pond, where there's no mud."
"Good idea. Give me a hug."
"Okay." Finn hugged Jake, who promptly extended his arms out to the middle of the lake and began dunking the ball in the water. "Dude, that's doing weird things to your weight."
"That's why I told you to hug me."
"My arms are like a see-saw."
"Oh, okay." Finn understood what his friend was talking about. Jake finished dunking the ball and shrunk his arms. "Well, it's not muddy."
"Still kinda smells, though."
"Well, I don't really care, I want to try walking double dribbling."
"Just be careful, man. It would suck if you fell in the pond, too."
"Haha, yeah." Finn began to try double dribbling, chasing after the ball as he failed.
"Okay, Bonnie, uh, you go shower and I'll see what I have that'll fit you, I'll leave it on my bed, alright?" Marceline's face was slightly flushed from the awkward situation.
"Alright." Bubblegum climbed the ladder and Marceline began loading towels in her washing machine, waiting until she heard the shower running to venture upstairs. Biting her lip, she closed her eyes and floated up to her bedroom.
"Bonnie, it's me, I'm not looking, just let me know if you're like, in here naked. If I don't get a response in ten seconds I'm going to assume you're in the shower." Marceline waited twenty seconds before cracking an eye open. The towels Bubblegum had wrapped around herself were lying next to the door to the bathroom, under her grimy clothes. Marcy moved the pile over to the ladder, she'd start washing them in a minute. She checked the tags and PB was only a size or two smaller than her. She grabbed her smallest t-shirt from her closet (luckily it was rather light-coloured, grey with a white upside-down skull on the front) and a pair of light blue drawstring pajama shorts from her dresser, laying them on her bed. Still blushing, she grabbed the wet clothes and flew down to the washing machine. She checked the tags on the clothes and tossed them in with the first load of towels, washing it all cold, even the sneakers. She unplugged BMO, and it woke up. "Hey, baby." She smiled.
"Oh! Hello, Marceline." It smiled back at her, adorably pixelated.
"What games do you have?"
"Racing and adventure."
"Do you want to race me?"
"Sure." It's face turned into the start screen for a motorcycle racing game. She wasted a good 20 minutes until the washing machine beeped and stopped. She hit pause and set BMO on the couch, gathering up more towels to throw in. She moved the towels and clothes to the dryer and was putting more towels in the washing machine when she realized the shower wasn't running. She finished and went to play BMO some more. It wasn't on the couch. Bubblegum started descending the ladder and Marceline blushed slightly, looking for BMO to avoid looking at the girl. It wasn't under the couch. She glanced up.
"Bonnie, freeze!" The princess stopped, almost at the bottom of the ladder.
"Huh?" She looked down, her bare foot about to step on BMO. "Oh, excuse me, sir." She hopped off the ladder. "Thanks for letting me borrow your clothes and stuff." She was blushing slightly, avoiding looking directly at Marceline, arms crossed over her chest.
"Yeah, it's whatever." She was blushing as well, staring at the ceiling. "Couldn't make you sit around in nasty wet clothes." They glanced at each other and chuckled nervously.
"So, um..." Bubblegum searched for a conversation topic. "Where'd you get this shirt? Is it for a band or something?"
"That's actually a pretty cool story." She grinned and walked into the kitchen, grabbing two glasses from the cupboards, needing to do something to avoid staring at Bubblegum and embarrassing them both. "It was a few hundred years ago, and this friend of mine, Niko, he wanted to start a shirt business." She sliced strawberries into pieces and lemons in half, juicing the lemons over the pitcher. "That was a misprint he gave to me for free, and whenever I wore it people would compliment me and ask where I got it. So I told him, right? I was all 'Hey, this misprint is really popular, maybe you should make it for real.'"
"What did he do?" Bubblegum passed her the strawberries, granulated sugar, and measuring cup.
"Thanks. He told me that it was one of a kind, just like me. Dude was such a romantic dork." Marceline snickered and sprinkled the sugar over the strawberries and dumped them in the lemonade.
"Aw, that's sweet!" Bubblegum's dripping hair was making a small puddle on the floor. Marceline would have to remember to wipe it up later. Just then her little zombie poodle wandered out and started drinking the puddle. She leaned down to give him a quick pet.
"Hey, Schwabl, where were you hiding? I guess it's romantic, but it's so expected, y'know? If you couldn't tell from the story, dude had a major crush on me." She dumped ice into the lemonade and grabbed a large spoon to stir it with.
"Did you ever go out with him?"
"A few times. It got really clear that I didn't like him like that, though. We stayed just friends." They glanced at each other as Marceline added water to the lemonade. "Yeah, he died. About 50 years later, I think it was. Got sick from t-shirt ink chemicals or something." She said it matter-of-fact, like it was no big deal.
"How did you-"
"I know you. Bonnibell." She teased.
"Marshmallow!" Bubblegum shot back, grinning.
"Okay, I'm gonna take this out to the guys. You can come out, or stay inside. I'll hang with you whichever." She poured two glasses and went to refill the boys' cups, as well. Schwabl hopped up on the couch for a nap.
"Fresh lemonade, guys." She called, the two ditching their one-on-one basketball game to grab their glasses and refill them.
"Yeah, seriously, I didn't realize how thirsty I was!"
"So who's winning your game?"
"I am." Finn grinned proudly. "Hey, is PB gonna come out soon?"
"I dunno, I think she might stay inside for now. She's embarrassed to wear my clothes." She stage-whispered the last sentence.
"Marcy, don't lie." Bubblegum admonished from the open window, smiling. Her forearms were on the sill, her head resting on her forearms. "I'll come back outside when my clothes are done, I don't want to get a splinter in my foot. Don't worry about it, Finn."
"Why not just wear a pair of Marcy's shoes?"
"I'd rather not."
"Dude. It's a girl thing." Jake told him as if imparting great wisdom. Marceline grabbed the glasses she and Bubblegum had used earlier, rolling her eyes at the girl when the guys couldn't see. "I'm gonna go put these in the sink." She set the pitcher in the fridge and heard Bubblegum behind her while placing the used glasses in the sink, but still cracked up when PB intoned seriously, with a hand on the vampire's shoulder,
"Dude. It's a girl thing."
"PFFFFHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!" Marceline sank to the ground, clutching her stomach in laughter.
"Hahahahaha Ohmyglob hahahahahaha. Bonnie heeheeheeheehee. It hurts to laugh hahahahahahaha." She gasped. The princess was laughing as well, but not near as hard as her friend.
"You girls okay in there?" Finn called.
"We're fine." Bubblegum responded, Marceline still giggling on the floor. Schwabl walked in and started licking Marcy's face.
"What's so funny?" Finn asked.
"Uh, you wouldn't get it."
"Dude." Bubblegum was instantly serious, poking her head around the kitchen doorframe. "It's a girl thing."
"Oh. Okay. We'll just play more basketball or something." The end of Finn's statement was cut off as Marceline erupted into howls of laughter again.
"It wasn't that funny." Bubblegum giggled, sitting beside her friend.
"Hahahahaha But. It was. Hahahaha. Grod. Hahaha it's funny. Because. You didn't hahaha mean it to. Be funny heeheeheeheehee. Oh, my stomach." Marceline managed to calm down enough to sit up properly and wipe the tears from her face. She was petting Schwabl, pointedly not looking at Bubblegum. Neither one spoke. "Pffffffhahahahahahaha!"
"I didn't say anything!" Bubblegum giggled.
"Hahahaha but you did hahaha. In my head hehehe."
"You're impossible." Bubblegum pushed her friend's arm lightly.
"Uh, you ladies sure you're ok?" Jake called.
"It's fine, Marcy just has the giggles is all."
"Hey, BMO?" Bubblegum called. "Could you come into the kitchen, please?"
"One moment, princess." The sentient little toy had managed to pull itself onto the first rung of the ladder. It tried to get down, but overbalanced and fell, landing on it's head. "Oh no. I'm stuck." PB peeked her head around the corner and giggled at it's predicament. She could hear Finn and Jake playing outside.
"Marcy, you have to look at BMO."
"Why, what'd she do?"
"Just come see." She helped Marceline up from the floor and tugged her by her hand out to the living room.
"Aw, how did you manage that?" She cooed.
"I fell off the ladder."
"Oh, poor baby." Marceline sat on the floor and righted the toy. Schwabl sniffed BMO, who scratched him under the chin.
"I like seeing your maternal side come out." Bubblegum stated, sitting as well.
"What? No. She's just a friend who needs a hand every once in a while." She defended herself, blushing a bit.
"BMO, how often does Marceline call you 'baby'?"
"Almost every time we talk."
"That doesn't mean anything!" Marceline interjected.
"You don't call any of us 'baby'." PB pointed out.
"Whatever, why did you want her anyway?"
"I figured if you focused on something else, you'd stop laughing... Oh, math." Bubblegum smacked herself in the face as Marceline started to giggle. "Hey, Marceline... Marcy... Mar-mar..." Bubblegum tried to distract her friend as her laughter escalated. "Yo, Marshmallow." She pushed Marceline's arm and the vampire fell to the side, laughing on the ground. Schwabl resumed licking Marceline's face. Bubblegum sighed and looked at BMO, who shrugged. She picked up BMO and played racing until Marceline calmed down again.
"Okay. Okay, what were you saying before?" She gently pushed the dog away and sat up.
"Huh?" Bubblegum paused BMO.
"You were trying to tell me something?"
"I don't remember what I wanted to say."
"Whatever. Let's go see if your stuff is dry." She gave Bubblegum a hand up and led her through the kitchen to the little laundry room. The dryer buzzed and stopped just as she reached for the door. "Perfect timing, I guess." She grinned and gathered the laundry in her arms, floating up to her room and dropping the laundry on her bed, Bubblegum right behind her. "Okay, uh, I'm gonna go put more towels in and check on the boys."
"Yeah, sure." Marceline dropped down the hole in the floor and gathered more towels to throw in the wash. She let them fall to the floor in the laundry room while she moved the clean damp towels to the dryer. After getting both machines running, she grabbed her glass of lemonade and the pitcher from the fridge, going to see how the guys were doing.
She watched silently as they ran around the porch, dribbling, double dribbling while standing still and walking, taking shots at the basket, and generally having fun.
"Hey, you want more lemonade?" She asked.
"Bonnie should be out soon, her clothes finished drying."
"Hey, you stopped laughing." Finn noted. Marceline started to giggle.
"See what you've done?" Bubblegum gently scolded him, exiting the house. Marceline set the lemonade down on the porch and walked away, standing on the edge with fists clenched, forcing herself to take deep breaths.
"Hey, Peebles, want to see how good Jake and I have gotten?"
"Sure, Finn." She watched as the boys resumed their one-on-one game, much more skilled than earlier. "That was really good." She grinned when they called timeout. Marceline had gotten a handle on her laughter and joined the others, sipping lemonade. "Oh! Hey, Marcy, I remember what I wanted to ask you earlier."
"Why do you have so many towels?"
"Just in case." The vampire shrugged.
"Just in case what?" Finn asked.
"I dunno, I figured a while ago that I'd better stock up, living next to a pond, and they certainly came in useful today."
"Hey, I've got an idea." Jake said. "How about the three of us against Marcy in basketball? That way you don't have to hold back."
"Woah, no, you guys." She held up her hands. "I was hardly holding back in our earlier game."
"What, are you scared you're gonna lose?" Jake teased.
"I know I'm gonna lose. It's just not a fair match."
"C'mon, Marceline, it'll be fun. Please?" Finn asked.
"Please?" Bubblegum was smiling at her adorably.
"Ok, fine. Dorks." She grinned and downed her lemonade, placing the glass by the door. The others did the same while she put the pitcher in the fridge. "Still no powers." She told Jake before tossing the ball high in the air. Finn got it again, but she stole it and dribbled to the hoop, managing to dunk it. PB grabbed the ball before it even hit the deck, passing to Jake. Marcy ran toward the dog but he passed it to Finn, who couldn't help but show off his walking double-dribble. "That's really good, Finn." She complimented him, waiting for her chance.
"Thanks. So's this!" He tossed the ball high, she jumped but couldn't quite reach it. Jake caught it mid-bounce and dribbled, but Marceline swiped it from under his hand and ran dribbling toward the hoop, shooting the ball mid-stride. It bounced off and Finn caught it, passing to Bubblegum before Marcy stole it from him. The princess dribbled, shooting from a little ways away from the hoop. It fell short and Jake caught it, dribbling back to almost the edge of the porch, evading both of Marceline's tries to steal the ball before Finn and Bubblegum blocked her. She ran towards the hoop just as Jake shot the ball, it fell perfectly, not even hitting the rim.
"Dude, nothing but net!" She cheered, catching the ball and taking another shot, which bounced off the backboard. "Huh? How the plop did I miss?" Finn grabbed the ball and dunked it, Marceline caught it and dribbled away, but Bubblegum stole it and landed a shot.
It continued this way for nearly 10 or 15 minutes, until Marceline declared the game over, losing 6-1.
"Good game, Marcy."
"Told you I. Would lose." She was breathing hard, but smiling.
"I'll get the lemonade." Bubblegum grinned. Marceline just nodded.
"Hey, next game, you and I with powers." Jake told her, grinning.
"Dude. Not now. Tomorrow or something."
"Yeah sure. Give you time to practice getting the ball in the hoop." Jake flinched as Marceline socked him playfully in the arm.
"Hey. I don't go adventuring every day. And I haven't played seriously. For hundreds of years."
"Whatever. You guys can stop by and play. Whenever you like."
"Math! Thanks, Marcy!" The boys hugged her.
"You, too, Princess."
"Thanks." They all knew Bubblegum probably wouldn't have much chance to take Marceline up on the offer, but it was nice to know that when being a monarch wasn't her full-time job, she could hang out with the vampire.
"Hey, Marcy, can you teach us another trick?" Finn asked, holding out the ball.
"Okay. I know a few more, and they're not all that athletic." She took the ball and began passing it quickly from hand to hand, forward and back, the ball circling her body. The boys excitedly started trying the maneuver, while Schwabl wandered out and sat between the girls for petting.