It was immature, but Marceline couldn't help but throw something akin to a temper tantrum as she stalked out of Simon's—no, the Ice King's—palace, axe-bass slung over her shoulder. He was just so infuriating! Good Glob, how many times did she have to move until he got the hint that she did not want him around? She didn't want to be anywhere near the old idiot! Marceline didn't want to listen to him go on and on about harassing some princess or another, especially not Bonnibel. Marceline had just gotten out of a relationship with that aggravating princess that was such a disaster she didn't know why she even bothered, and definitely did not want to listen to Ice King rave about how much he loved the beautiful monarch of the Candy Kingdom.

If she had her way, Marceline would never see the Ice King at all. There was a reason she kept moving so often. It was so she didn't have to see the insane, degenerate form of what used to be her father figure and best friend. Fate absolutely hated her though and kept providing the man with the means to track her down each time she settled into a new place. He always wanted help writing a song or some such nonsense. He was constantly making excuses like that, just to try and see her. The vampire didn't understand why he did so when he didn't remember her at all.

This time he hadn't tried to speak to her directly. He'd snuck into her house while she was out and had the nerve to steal her guitar, all in an attempt to lure her to his castle and get her to talk to him. Ice King hadn't bothered to leave a note or anything; Marceline had figured it out just from all the icicles he left hanging from her ceiling. So she had gone to the Ice Kingdom, didn't listen when he tried to explain, and then beat him to a bloody pulp, grabbed her bass, and left. There might have been a few curses thrown in, but they are not to be repeated in the presence of polite company.

Marceline was trying not to feel too guilty about beating him up. After all, he wasn't Simon Petrikov anymore. He was the Ice King, an insane sociopath of a man who just happened to have the face of her old friend. Sort of. The crown had messed up even his looks. Looks aside, he didn't act like Simon at all anymore either. He was crazy and stupid and...and...

Marceline let out an enraged roar and swung her bass in fury, and it lodged itself into a nearby frozen tree. She yanked it free and swung again, channeling all her strength into the act just to get a little ventilation out of it. It was sort of making her feel better. A few more strikes and the tree would come crashing down.

"Hey, will you knock that off?" someone spoke from above. "Some of us are trying to sit here!"

Marceline froze, looking around for the voice, until the person said, "Up here." She looked up and yelped in shock when she saw a fairly strange-looking boy perched on the uppermost branches of the tree she had been attacking.

He looked human enough, but he couldn't be, because humans had all but gone extinct a hundred or two years prior. His hair was messy and a snowy shade of white, his skin equally pale. Marceline narrowed her eyes. His old, ragged blue hoodie was dusted with frost patterns and he seemed perfectly at ease going barefoot in the snow, marking him as some sort of winter elemental, and as she didn't have the best track record with creatures of that sort she immediately distrusted his sanity. It didn't look like he had some crown of doom though, but there was a possibility that the craziness was contained in the hooked staff he held.

"You're staring," the boy pointed out brilliantly.

"I'm done. I'm leaving." Marceline turned and began to walk away from the boy in the tree, not having energy or patience to deal with another winter spirit. "I'm not in the mood to talk to more ice people."

To her indignation, he jumped out of the tree and followed her, floating about ten feet off the ground. Yep, definitely not a human. Maybe some kind of wizard. "You just came out of the Ice King's place, right? You one of the princesses he keeps kidnapping?"

She laughed humorlessly. "Like I'd get myself kidnapped by that old fart. And I'm not a princess."

"Oh yeah?" He dropped in front of her and grinned. "Who are you, then?"

Marceline stared at him suspiciously with narrowed crimson eyes. "Are you insane?"

"...What?"

"I said, are you insane?" She crossed her arms. "Sorry, but in my experience people with ice powers are completely off their rocker. Give me a reason to believe you aren't twelve different kinds of nuts and maybe I'll consider talking to you." It was doubtful. Even without ice powers she still didn't like making friends that often.

The boy looked surprised. "...Oh!" he exclaimed. "You're talking about the Ice King." He shook his head and gave her a reassuring smile. "I'm not crazy, trust me. The Ice King's issue is the crown, and there's only one of those in existence. I've made sure of that. My powers are natural and all my own. I swear on my immortal life that I'm telling the truth."

"You're immortal?" Marceline asked before she could stop herself.

"Yep. Have been for a while." He extended a hand. "I'm Jack Frost, Spirit of Winter and Guardian of Fun."

Hesitantly, she reached out and took it. "I'm Marceline." Then, for good measure because he had tacked on a pretty impressive title himself, "Marceline the Vampire Queen." She regarded him curiously. "Guardian of Fun, huh? What exactly do you do?"

"Well..." Jack bit his lip and leaned on his staff. "Watch over the kids of the world. At least, I used to before..."

"Before?" she prompted.

His face took on a mournful expression. "Before the war. Before all the humans died out."

"You were alive before the Mushroom War?" Marceline gaped. "I was just a little kid back then!"

"I was alive long before the Mushroom War. I outdate it by about a thousand years, actually." Jack sighed. "You've been around quite a while yourself. How did that work out?"

Figuring there was no harm in talking to someone who may or may not know what she was going through, Marceline answered, "I'm half demon and got bitten by a vampire when I was eighteen. That's how that happened, and it's just gone downhill from there."

"Immortality sucks," Jack mumbled. "I still have a few friends here and there, but when all the humans went extinct a lot of them faded out as well." He looked up and forced a smile. "I try to talk to as many people as I can now, hence why I didn't just leave you alone when it was clear you were in a bad mood."

That explained it.

"No kidding," Marceline agreed, "immortality blows sometimes. I'm the opposite though. Talking to people turns out to be such a waste of time. I don't really talk to anyone anymore because all they do is die or go away or—"

Or go so far out of their minds there was no way to get them back. Marceline shook herself. This was not the time nor place to angst about such things. "Anyway, all that kind of begs the question why I'm talking to you."

"Same reason I'm talking to you," Jack replied simply. "You can't help but get lonely sometimes. It's just the nature of the sentient mind, I suppose. I would say it's human nature but neither of us are human and there aren't any of those left either. In any case, that's a pretty jaded perspective on life you have there."

Marceline shrugged and brushed her dark bangs out of her eyes. "Can't help it. Junk happens, it messes up your brain, and there isn't anything anyone can do about it."

Jack laughed outright at that and leaned on his staff for support. "Guess I can't argue with that."

"No, you can't."

He straightened up and grinned at her. "So, Miss Vampire Queen, was talking to me a total waste of time?"

Marceline pondered the question. Well, Jack was immortal, he wasn't crazy, and he did seem to have the same mentality on life that she did, give or take. Between her issues with the Ice King, her problems with her dad, all the time she spent alone, and the failed attempt at a relationship with both Ash and Bonnibel, she had become pretty lonely and downtrodden. What had happened to all the fun she used to have? Somewhere down the line she had stopped living and just started...existing. That was all.

She didn't know why she talked to Jack so much when normally Marceline went out of her way to alienate herself. Maybe it was because they were so similar? Possibly. Maybe he was right when he said all she wanted was a little companionship every so often. She'd become so broken and used to solitude over the years that she barely remembered what it was like to hold a proper conversation with another person.

"..No," she said finally. "I guess not."

He saluted with an off-kilter smirk. "Mission accomplished. I like to make sure that people I talk to get something out of it. Otherwise, what's the point?"

Marceline snorted. "Yeah, okay. Hey, sorry to cut this off and stuff, but it's really freezing out here. I'm going to head home."

Jack smiled and rose into the air, gracefully riding the wind. "Okay. I'll see you around, Marceline."

"Sure," she shrugged. "We've got a long time, after all."

With one final, quirky grin, he waved and disappeared into the cloudy sky. Marceline stared after him for a moment, and then shouldered her bass and took off flying herself, heading home.

Only once she got there did it occur to Marceline to wonder why Jack had been hanging around the Ice King's domain in the first place.

A/N:

I realized that including Bubblegum's name puts me on a pretty tight timeline when I wanted it to be pretty ambiguous. Let's just say this takes place a year or two before Evicted, so Marceline hasn't met Finn and Jake yet. In short, she has no friends, no Hambo, Ice King is being difficult, and she's still peeved at her dad about the fry thing. She's not having the time of her life.

I kind of ship these two ._. Tumblr did it. This isn't really a shippy oneshot though; I just had to get it out.