Here come the dreams of you and me.
– Tegan and Sara
Lately these days, Ice King raves about "Fionna and Cake in the Land of Aaa."
Marceline is curious.
Ice King's gender-bent fanfictions are kinda bad. So bad, actually, that listeners run for the hills unless bound hand-to-foot which is exactly how Ice King goes about spreading fanfic joy. Sociopathic old fart. But she'll always humor him. And she's mildly intrigued by these stories anyway. He tells them with such vivid conviction that they almost sound real. Maybe it's a fanboy thing. Or maybe Ice King has just reached new levels of crazy.
Either way, Marceline is curious.
Tonight at the Ice Castle, she hovers unnoticed over Ice King and his four guest – well they're in cages so more like captive—princesses. Slime Princess, Wildberry Princess, Toast Princess, and Turtle Princess wail all together about ear torture and how this latest story is terrible, what if there was a little more romance? And of course Ice King fusses right back about how logical his self-cameo is in his own fic and y'all are some haters, man. The arguing could probably go on way into the night except Marceline feels like crashing this storyfest, now.
She makes the princess cages swing open and Ice King's robes flap over his head. Candles flicker and windows blow open. Just minor telekinesis tricks, no big deal. But it's still a laugh to see big bad (not really) Ice King freak out and the princesses break out in un-royal sweat.
Meanwhile she'll just casually lounge on the ice throne and introduce her presence with "Boo."
"Marceline!" Ice King jumps, then looks relieved. Yeah, 'cause Marceline the Vampire Queen is totally harmless. "How long have you been in here?"
"Mmm… couple hours."
"You heard my story then! Awesome, right?"
"It's… good?" It's alright if liars go to Hell; she's like the princess over there anyway. "But listen up y'all. I've got a story of my own."
Marceline's eyebrow-waggle is irresistible. Ice King and the princesses forget they're in a hostage situation and settle down.
How hard could it be to make up a dumb gender-bender Land-of-Aaa story?
'Marshall Lee the Vampire King' comes to storytelling life. He's brash and smooth and Marceline with a penis, and when she narrates the part where he rocks out at the forest party like a bad little boy the four princesses swoon. It's just smugness talking, but Marceline is pretty confident she'd make one fly vampire guy. A graveyard battle and an epic non-confession later, she finishes this Fionna & Cake story with a simple
Stories are just stories and they're not hard at all. The princesses clap and Ice King complains but clearly he's going to rip off her Marshall Lee idea.
"But look, we could polish this piece off," he wheedles at Marceline's side. She's slightly smug. "Like if Marshall Lee gets sick and dies, but he's got a brother we didn't know about! His name's Marshall Lee...roy. Boom, shocker, I feel goosebumps!"
Slime Princess says what everyone else thinks. "I like how it is…"
"… Everyone get out," Ice King grits his teeth like he's about to cry rivers, so everyone else shrugs and goes back home.
And that's how Marceline saves four princesss without lifting a finger. She better understands the appeal of fanfiction now. Well, time for something else to do…
She wonders what she'll do tomorrow…
But then she starts dreaming about that alternate universe.
The dreams are infrequent, forgettable. But after a while Marceline notices that they're too vivid and she's been dream-flying around Aaa like she knows how that's like in real life. The places, the people, the sensations. It's like having a really really good tomato high not that she'd know too much about that. Admittedly, fantasizing about fanfiction is kinda lame but who is she to deny subconscious creativity? Marceline isn't too bothered.
Then one night a dream breaks fourth wall. She's in a graveyard and Manceline – or Marshall Lee, as she dubbed him— plays his axe bass on a tomb nearby. He plays effortlessly; that makes her smile and also just a tad vain. She hums along.
"Never thought I'd see your face the way it used to be*…"
Marceline is unseen, all-knowing dream-god in these fantasies. But tonight Marshall Lee looks up.
"Oh hey," he says and Marceline approaches him no questions asked like they're buddies who last met up yesterday.
From that point on her lucid dreams turn into hangout sessions. Just Marceline and Marshall Lee, chilling-talking-rocking out. He's like the twin she never had and never wished for. Which makes sense, because if anything Marshall Lee is her, a product of her boss imagination. But she still likes his (imaginary) company.
Sometimes in her waking hours, Marceline wonders why she keeps getting these dreams at random intervals. They're interesting and all but it's been a few months. If this imagination thing goes on forever she just might be turning into
"Maaarceline, help a brother out!" Ice King squeezes in through her window one day because apparently doors are too mainstream. Speak of the devil.
"Go away I'm napping." Marceline remains on the couch with a silk sleep mask over her eyes. Everything is mad comfy and who knows she might have 'that' kind of dream today—
Is she actually looking forward to nap time?
Marceline will never let sleep be the best part of her day. She has chill-but-totally-badass things to do. The mask is ripped off and she rolls off the couch and Ice King is right beside her on the floor with notebook and pen.
Ice King is on his fat stomach, blue feet waving in the air like they're at a slumber party. "So I was thinking… for my latest fanfic, I could take you under my wing. Show you the writing ropes, huh?"
Marceline rubs her eyes. "You wanna collaborate?"
"No no, more like mentor," Ice King waves a hand. "I'll, uh, share some writing tips! Yeah! Just gonna show a fledgling author – that's you – how it's done!"
She smirks. "Sure you will."
Making a fanfic with Ice King is really more like her throwing out ideas and him writing them down while adding his own twist. Is Lame-ify a real word because cool stuff like a shape-shifting, Fionna-framing nemesis ends up as Ice King in playful drag, everyone goes Haha oh Ice King let's go get BFF frozen yogurt The End.
Whatever. Marceline doesn't care about literary acclaim anyway, why not just let Simon have his weirdo fun. Then whilst writing, Ice King narrates
"Fionna stares into Marshall Lee's eyes and thinks, 'Wow this guy is pretty hot. And he totally just saved me from that bear.' So even if Marshall Lee isn't as hot or as wise as her BFF Ice King, Fionna's heart is racing and her answer is already yes when Marshall Lee says in that baritone voice,
'Fionna, will you go on a date with m—'"
"Ew," Marceline snorts. "He'd never ask that."
"What?" Ice King is indignant. "But you chicks said you wanted romance!"
"Well yeah but this one's just weird," she frowns. It's like her dating Finn, like putting the moves on the neighbor's kid whom you babysit on weekends and who could be a hot prospect one day, just now right now.
"Okay fine I'll set her up with Flame Prince." Ice King erases his scribbles. "Don't gotta be jealous, sheesh."
"Who's jealous?" Marceline scoffs because she would never be possessive about her fictional vampire man-self no sirree.
"You are," Ice King pokes her nose with his pencil. "Of my writer skills."
"Oh." Touché. Marceline smiles a little wryly. "Yeah, I guess I am."
"Hey check this out. What if Cake was really… part-mermaid? Ooh, shocker!"
Marceline thinks she'll have to do something about these gender-bender dreams later.
On her twentieth-ish dream in six months or so, she's with Marshall Lee yet again. He's still awesome company. She can almost believe in perfect platonic friendships, except theirs isn't real. They're at some crowded rock concert in a coliseum and halfway through it she just has to clap a hand on his face.
"But my Grod, you feel so real," Marceline says in wonder at his super-smooth guy-skin, what anomaly is this. "Everything feels so real."
Nothing is audible above this ear-deafening uproar but Marshall Lee has excellent vampire hearing. He pinches her cheek back; it stings. "You're real."
"Cool. Keep it real."
The hands stay where they are.
Some metalhead in the back complains get a room and of course the proper response would be to stick out rock hands and say your mother. Which leads to Marceline ditching a rock concert for the first time ever, because Marshall Lee wages a helluva Yo Mama joke war with a total stranger and the best way to cut that embarrassment short is to drag him away for food.
"You're such a baby," Marceline says. They're flying off to the nearest convenience store.
Marshall Lee scowls. "Don't hold me back next time girl."
She finds talking about the future strange because these dreams have always been only in the moment. "Aw. You're trying to look cool."
"Who says I gotta try?" he brags.
"It's just me," she reminds him. Just Marceline, reminding a figment of her imagination that they're one and the same.
"Who says it's for you?"
Her mouth twitches and that's all they need to start singing some Beatles song that goes it's for you, it's for you, it's for you. Marceline is never surprised at how crazy in sync they are; logic is best left behind in real life. They high five loudly.
"Hold up." Marshall Lee holds on to her. He suddenly takes her face with both hands.
"I wanna try something," he tells her seriously. Marceline can see every facial feature on this guy and she's always refrained from being too much of a narcissist but damn, they've got a really good-looking androgynous thing going on. Marshall Lee is imaginary man-her and of course she gets him inside and out, but she doesn't get him right now when he's looking at her like that and why does he have his serious face on?
If she had a pulse it would be racing and for a moment Marceline wonders if he's going to kiss her. Rationale is a lightning bolt that hits her immediately.
She thinks No no no why would I make out with myself for fuckssakes stahp.
Marshall Lee lets go.
"WAIT!" Marceline rolls off her bed and reality welcomes her back with a thud.
She stays on the floor in stupor for a while. Knowing that you're turning batshit crazy like Ice King crushes your soul. When did she get so uncool? Dreams should not better than reality and Grod forbid she starts longing for imaginary friends to come true. And that Marshall Lee. She just wanted to tell a story, not turn into an ultra-narcissist with penis envy. Now she's going to start comparing real people to his childish impulsive smooth-talking ass, which isn't very fair because of course no one knows her like herself.
Why did everything have to be so real?
Marceline draws the line at loneliness. It's high time she saw a shrink or maybe an exorcist but first, she'll ward off the dreaming.
Marceline gets up off the floor.
She comes back in the evening with a dreamcatcher the size of her head, courtesy of Choose Goose. Marceline kinda loved lucid dreaming. But she loves peace of mind more.
She finds the front door of her house-in-the-cave-under-the-bridge kicked off its hinges. Looks like peace of mind won't be back tonight either.
Marceline isn't scared, she's freaking Vampire Queen. If it's an assassin or a house burglar she could use some punching bag relief. Marceline goes inside. The first thing she smells is undead blood. All the lights are off but that's what night vision perks are for. She puts the dreamcatcher down (she's still going to bed all relaxed later); nothing feels out of place except for the intruder somewhere in this house.
Marceline hears water running upstairs.
What dumbass breaks into a house to shower? She goes up to the bathroom and if this turns out to be Keila or some other undead friend she's going to kill them for leaving bloodstains on the hippie rug first, then give them band aids second.
It's not Keila. Passed out in her tub is a pale black-haired dude. A vampire, from the bite marks on his neck. The shower head drips hot water over his hair; Marceline's nose crinkles because it's starting to steam in here and he's getting blood on her tiles.
"Dude, what the freak." She picks up a red plaid shirt that he left unceremoniously on the floor and that's kinda bloody too. She comes closer. "You okay?"
He mumbles when she pokes his cheek. Marceline's not heartless, that's so nine centuries ago. She'd never dump a guy into the lagoon out back when he's got a gash on his pasty torso. She better go call for help for this shower-jacking stranger.
Except he's not really a stranger. She knows him by the shape of his hands and those red converses and the lower half of his face that dripping bangs don't cover. His head rests limply against the wall. She slicks back his hair. Water drips on her sleeve but she peers closer. Has she been lucid dreaming this whole time because there's no way this is real life.
Marceline sees sleeping eyes nose lips face, identical to hers. He feels so real underneath her fingers but for the millionth time she thinks he can't actually be here.
Quietly, she calls out anyway. "Marshall Lee?"
Slowly, his eyes open at the sound of his name.
A/N: There aren't enough MarceLee fics around so here's another, haha. I know I said in Saudade there wouldn't be a sequel for a while but eh. Sometimes you just get da urge.
How was this chapter? Review/crits always welcome :]
* Led Zeppelin song.
Disclaimer: AT isn't mine.