A/N: Inspired by this comic strip and it's fantastic artist.
therebemorefoolery. tumblr post/29862549693/bravo-charlie
I intend to use this story as a storage space for all my Bubbline ramblings, so every chapter will be different. I'll change the summary accordingly. For now, I hope you all enjoy (and refrain from judging me too hard :P)
Sad Song, Happy Song
She cried for, like, an hour. No, seriously. She stopped halfway through the song, able to catch just enough oxygen to produce a few whimpers. One or two deep, shaky breaths later, she was a wreck. It was like a water pipe burst; it was really dumb. Just... just tears everywhere. If her body could create mucus, that would probably be everywhere too.
This emotional outburst had been a long time coming. After the incident, she determined he didn't deserve anything else from her, and refused to cry about him for months. The nightmares started a week or so ago, reliving the memory he had stolen from her over and over and over again. In her dream world, she screamed at the top of her lungs, but no sound came out. She would wake up, sweat on her brow, gasping for breath. Instinctively, she'd reach for her beloved inanimate friend, fingers clenching only air. Hambo was a stress-relief tactic ever since he was given to her by a man who no longer remembered who she was, and both of those men was gone now. Marceline sometimes wondered if, when Hambo disappeared, he took her sanity with him.
She hadn't been sleeping well, despite her constant fatigue. Ambling about her house and cave, smoking her dirty and bent cigarettes, her brain never took a break from running full-speed. It was always the "ifs" that perturbed her the most. What if she had done something differently? What if she had broken up with Ash sooner, like she wanted to? What if she didn't stomp out of the room, but instead all over his big, fat, stupid-hair-cut head, and interrogated him until he told her where the witch was? What if she had turned him away from her doorstep, especially when he was dressed in that idiotic armless old man disguise? What if, what if, what if?
That particular day was especially hard for her to handle. It was one of those days when she felt as dead as her body. With a heaviness in her chest, she found herself standing in her basement, looking for something. A dusty, wooden instrument, still fixed from her previous efforts. It wasn't tuned at all, but still she grabbed it. She brought it up to the living room, gave the appropriate knobs the correct amount of twists, and began to pick. She was rusty, but still she played, and eventually, she started to sing. Slow songs, sad songs in a weary voice that croaked because it hadn't spoken all day and was bogged down with smoke. When the tears came, they wouldn't stop. She had to put the guitar aside and stop floating, sinking to the floor instead of the rock that was her hardly-ever-touched couch. The sleeves of her striped shirt became soaked, yet she continued to cry and wipe her eyes with damp cloth.
At last the tears subsided because she had bled her tear ducts dry. After a few minutes of sniffling, she looked at the ceiling, and exhaled deeply. It was strange looking at the blank, cream-colored plaster; she compared it to her exhausted mind. She meditated until she calmed down enough to float. At that point, she looked at her sleeves and shook her head.
"I'm a fucking mess," she quietly said to herself.
So off came her shirt, the bundled fabric used once more to wipe the last bits of moisture from her eyes. It was tossed aside as the vampire floated into the kitchen, craving some sort of hot beverage.
At the precise moment she placed the kettle on the stove in order to boil some water, she heard her front door being slammed open. Her reaction was pure animal instinct. She jumped to her intruder in less than a second's time, wings sprouted, hair standing on end, scary demon-face activated. Her fangs were bared, flared, and ready to cut, stopped over a jugular, just barely touching pink skin.
"Bonnie?" Marceline retreated and resumed her normal form, which allowed the bubblegum princess to relax from her earlier position of being pinned against a wall. The relief of her release was noticeable, even though she tried to play it cool.
"Hello, Marceline," Bubblegum said with a sheepish curl of her fingers constituting as a wave. Her voice was distinctively forced nonchalance. Then, suddenly observant, she asked, "Wait, have you been crying?"
An immediate reaction. "What? No! What are you doing here, barging into my house like that? You know how dangerous it is to do that to the Queen of the Vampires?"
Obviously the probing would have to wait; Marceline could tell by her friend's face and body language that there were more pressing matters on her mind. Her pinks hands clasped tightly together, she said, "Oh. Yes. About that. I don't suppose now is the time to ask for a really big, terrible favor?"
"Uhm... yeah, no, sure," Marceline replied, confused. "What's up?"
As Bubblegum said the next words, Marceline already detected a presence nearby; something menacing and unwanted was in her cave, something paranormal with intention to kill. Her skin rippled with goosebumps.
"I was sort of followed here."
Sniffing the air, Marceline stiffened and gave her friend a wide-eyed look. "Ash is here."
Bubblegum shrunk a bit, guilty. "Um... Yeah."
"What did you-? Nevermind." There would be time for questions later. "Stay in here. I'll handle it."
So out she stepped on to her porch, readily waiting the arrival of her old and new enemy. It was only a matter of seconds before he appeared, flying towards her with red eyes and blue sparks emitting from his fingertips. His white hair was still in that gross mohawk-mullet thing, and he was still clad in grungy jeans and a cut-off t-shirt. For extra flare, he had added a cape to his wardrobe. Marceline snorted, unimpressed.
At the sight of her, the wizard paused in shock, but returned to his normal state of douche-baggery seconds later. "Marcy, baby. This is where you ran off to when we broke up?"
"When I dumped you," she corrected him, her voice lower and stronger than she expected.
He pretended not to be insulted. "It's a fucking dump, babe. How long have you spent crying over me in this shack, huh?"
Her fists were clenched so hard that her nails dug into her skin. Taking a deep breath, she ignored his comment and asked, "What do you want, Ash?"
He pointed to her house angrily, snarling, "That bitch princess friend of yours ruined my lair! Totaled it, man! I'm going to fucking kill her!"
"Hm. Well, I'm obviously not going to let that happen," Marceline replied calmly. "So I'll go ahead and give you one nice warning, just to be fair." Looking him square in his glowing eyes, her chest unconsciously puffing out a bit, she continued, "Get the fuck out of my cave now, and I won't have to kill you."
Ash threw back his head and laughed. "You're gonna fight me? Oh, Marcy, Marcy, Marcy. You're just as stupid as ever. You know I could fight better than you any day! Now step aside and let me do my business."
Heh. This should be fun.
Even after sobbing not more than twenty minutes prior, Marceline smirked. Ash had no idea how many fights she had been in. No one did, for that matter. It's funny. Being Queen of the Vampires, Marceline knew that she didn't have to rule anyone or anything, because vampires hated being told what to do. Hence the reason why she kept to herself more often than not. You'd be surprised, however, at the amount of vampires that wanted to challenge her and take her title. Some fights were easier than others, but Marceline learned quickly to never underestimate her opponent; that was another particular memory that tended to sneak into her nightmares. But, that's the thing about vampires, they heal and regenerate to the point where scars don't last more than a few months, at the longest.
She was secretly the General of a one-woman army, covered in invisible battle scars, and no one ever saw her coming.
"Alright," she conceded. "Don't say I didn't warn you."
With bones cracking and skin pulling, she transformed, growing an extra ten feet as well as an extra pound or two in fur alone. Her hands and feet became more paw-like and her snout protruded from her face sporting large white teeth, razor-sharp and glistening.
Ash visibly paled before she lunged at him. She caught one of his legs in her mouth and bit down hard, throwing him against the cave wall. It felt pretty damn great. When she jumped at him the second time, he was more prepared. Blue light blinded her momentarily as he hit her left arm. She swiped, claws snagging on a bit of flesh. He was knocked into the air, stopping himself with his levitation ability.
"Ok, so you can turn into a big, ugly monster," he snapped, winded. "You used to do that without trying anyway." An array of attack spells followed, hurling towards her.
She dodged many of them, but one hit her thigh while another one she didn't see dislodged rocks from above that came crashing down around her. One hit the side of her head rather hard. A growl accompanied a flurry of punches. After the fourth one didn't hit, she managed an impressive move with her legs, swatting the wizard to the ground.
On his back, Ash threw a spell that turned one of her fist-paws into ice, which she promptly used to smack him across the face. Swear words abounded as a few other ice punches landed, especially when she hit him square in the eye. She paused her attacks to slam her hand onto the ground, breaking the ice and causing every inch of her hand to throb in pain. At that moment, Ash let loose a poorly-charged energy spell that hit her square in the abdomen.
She was thrown back, gasping for air as her body did two, three, four flips. The flesh of her back was shredded by the cave floor when she landed. She didn't even have time before Ash was looming over her, assaulting her face, kicking open the wound on her stomach. How long she was down, she didn't know, but it felt like an eternity. When he finally stopped long enough to catch his breath, Marceline rolled on her side and coughed up blood.
"You know what I'm gonna do?" asked Ash, winded, but still confident. "I'm gonna take that bitch princess, and I'm gonna slice open her neck. I'm gonna do that right in front of you just so you can get hungry when you see her blood. I'm gonna let you live so you can watch your pretty little princess be murdered."
The lining of her dead heart was seared by boiled blood at the thought of her psychotic ex-boyfriend laying even one finger on Bonnibel. Her Bonnibel. With an intensity that even she didn't anticipate, Marceline let out a fearsome howl, seized Ash by the throat, and hurled him at the ground with all her might. He hit the floor with a sickening thud, crumpling limbs signifying a number of successful broken bones. He cried out, but Marceline wasn't done. Oh no, not yet. She caught him as he tried to crawl away, his torso now trapped in her jaws, her teeth piercing his skin. He tasted like slime and dirt.
She supposed it was really quite awful how much she liked the sound of him begging for her to let go. Realizing this, she bopped him in the head a few times for shits and giggles, then spat him out.
"P-please! I'm sorry!" He said, cowering before her. "Shit, I'm so sorry, Marceline! Please don't kill me! Please don't kill me!"
She leaned in close, her eyes now glowing red for effect. As he shook, she licked her gums and lips, and spat out his blood before him; a sizable, disgusting puddle of bile.
"I'm done with your filth," she hissed, watching him squirm. "So here's the deal. You don't come back to my cave ever again. You don't go to the Candy Kingdom, ever. You stay as far away from Princess Bubblegum as physically possible." He nodded vigorously. "If you break that deal, I will find you. And when I do, I will not hesitate to kill you with my bare hands. Not only that, but I will feed you to the demons of the Nightosphere... Do you understand, Ash?"
"Y-yes! Yes! Yes, Marceline!"
"Good." She backed off a bit, nostrils assaulted and aflame with his stench. "Then I repeat: Get. The fuck. Out of my cave."
She had never seen anyone limp faster in her life. Dark spots followed his footprints, and Marceline wondered, amused, if they were spots of blood or spots of urine. She stayed in her defensive werewolf mode until she sensed him leave the cavern. It was unfortunate that the odor of him still lingered. Another minute went by. When she decided that she and her companion were safe, she transformed back to her normal state, with quite a bit of pain accompanying the process. As she looked down at herself to check the damage, her cheeks grew hot.
She had been in her bra the whole damn fight.
When Marceline re-entered the house, Bubblegum was waiting breathlessly, with hands clutching to each other and eyes as reflective as glass. Unsurprisingly, she had an array of medical items at the ready. When she didn't say anything, Marceline offered a weary smile.
She broke the silence with, "You should see the other guy."
"Oh, Marcy." And with three steps, Bubblegum had crossed the room and thrown her arms around the vampire's neck, squeezing tightly. Her name sounded so different when it came from Bonnibel's lips.
Marceline liked the embrace very much... but it still hurt like hell. "Ow, ow, ow, ow, Bonnie, I'm ok. I'm ok, I promise. Ow. Ow! Ok, ok, ow, ok, now you're hurting me."
"Sorry!" Bubblegum released her and hurried into the kitchen where she grabbed cloth and rubbing alcohol from the table. "Come on, you should sit down."
"'M ok, Bubba," she mumbled, even though neither of them really took that seriously. She managed to hoist herself onto the table, letting out a sharp hiss and leaking blood from her abdomen, which oozed onto the denim of her ripped jeans.
Bubblegum paled and gave her a look. But she set to work, diligent and silent, focused and determined. The alcohol stung like daylight. As the princess cleaned her torso, she said, "You're lucky he didn't have more time to charge that spell. It could have been a lot worse. Not that it's not bad enough already," she added quickly.
Marceline raised and lowered her good shoulder. "Eh. I've had worse." Bubblegum threw her another look, this one a mixture of shock and fear, but in an instant, she understood, and went right back to cleaning. Feeling bad, the vampire chewed the inside of her cheek, thinking. "It's ok, Bonnie, honestly... Just- I mean... you don't have to wrap it up too much, you know? It'll be fine in a few hours anyway."
Bubblegum nodded as she gently placed gauze over the hole near a grey belly-button. At the touch of salmon fingertips skimming over such a sensitive area, Marceline's goosebumps returned. Her back was next. Some of the smaller cuts were already closed by now, but there were two or three gashes in between her shoulder blades that were just starting to scab over. Bubblegum cleaned those, then the wound on the left arm, then a quick cleaning of the thigh, which Marceline had to pull her pants down for. Both of the women's faces were bright red as the doctor-scientist dabbed, tactfully ignoring the lacy, black underwear upon her patient. Last was the wound on her head, the right side of her head to be exact, towards the hairline. It wasn't until then that Marceline noticed the dark streaks of old, unwashed tears tainting Bubblegum's cheeks.
As the gum princess patiently parted copious amounts of black hair and located the laceration, she spoke in a very small voice, which was unusual for her. "Marceline, I'm so sorry. I didn't... I didn't mean to... If I had known he would be so... I should have just gone back to the Candy Kingdom and let the Gumball Guardians handle him."
Marceline snorted, looking at her friend. "Oh, c'mon, Bonnie. You really think the Guardians would have stopped that asshole?"
Bubblegum's lower lip protruded from its natural line, an inexplicably cute pout. "They could have at least put him to sleep and taken him away."
"He would have tried again," Marceline said, even though she knew that Bonnie knew too. "I'm glad you came to me, Prubs."
"He really hurt you," Bubblegum persisted, setting down her tools and looking at her apologetically. "Marceline, I could have... I could have gotten you killed."
At this, Marceline actually laughed. She threw back her head and gave a defiant guffaw, her various wounds throbbing. "Dude, seriously? Ash may have improved his wizard skills, but there's no way he would have beaten me. I mean, for real, Bonnie. Give the Queen some credit here."
The princess allowed a small smile. "I know you're powerful, Marceline, I wasn't trying to say otherwise. But... I hate that I put you in that kind of danger."
She waved it away. "Stop it, ok? It's better than you being in that kind of danger. He won't give you any more trouble, by the way." A moment, then: "You want, like, tea or something?"
A warm smile. "I would love some. Just... put on a shirt while I make it?"
Ooop. Almost forgot about that.
Marceline obliged, hurrying to her room and grabbing the first rag that she saw, a navy blue sweatshirt. Pulling it over her head, she sat on the uncomfortable, pale orange furniture in her living room. She was in too much pain to float. She waited patiently as Bubblegum messed around in the kitchen. Sooner or later, she couldn't help but grin, a feeling quite like that of victory swelling within her gut. She was still smiling when Bubblegum arrived with two mugs filled with steaming liquid.
Handing the red one to her and taking a seat, the princess said, "What's so funny?"
Marceline gave her a smug look, one fang sticking out from her lips. "I really beat the shit outta him, Bonnie... Like, really. I think he peed himself."
Bubblegum blinked and broke into a fit of giggles. "Oh my glob, no!" A nod. A gasp. "OH! And I can't believe he still has that haircut!"
Snickering in agreement, Marceline managed, "He tasted like grease and shame."
Full blown laughter followed. Each girl clutched their sides and smacked the sofa cushions. When the heartfelt hubbub died down, they indulged in their identical beverage. Marceline enjoyed how her taunt muscles relaxed when she sucked up a few drops of crimson from her mug, washing it down with the tea itself. Then she felt a hand on her wrist.
"Really, Marcy... Thank you."
Marceline's breath hitched in her throat, and she had to cough a bit before saying, "It's cool, PB. Honest. Though, I am curious about why he was so pissed at you in the first place." She cast her friend a sidelong glance. "What exactly did you do to him, anyway?"
At this, Bubblegum's cheeks turned maroon, and she faced front, spine straight, demeanor indignant. "Well... I've been thinking a lot about the whole Hambo ordeal, and I... I confess, I grew very much enraged. So... I may or may not have concocted and implemented a plan which involved complete destruction of his hiding place, thus destroying his entire collection of potions and spell books... Maybe."
Marceline's jaw was nearly unhinged. "You blew up his lair?!"
Bubblegum shrugged, fidgeting and refusing to look at her. "I believe I demonstrated a deftness for incendiary techniques, yes."
She was too stunned to laugh. Her tongue felt numb, an effect that was not due to the temperature of the tea. "I... How... You..." She struggled with words for a minute. "Bonnie... You said yourself that he was just a teddy-bear... I mean, I'm the living dead here, so I tend to care less about the status of living, but Ash really could have killed you! For the love of glob, what were you thinking? I mean... Why?"
Pulling her knees up to her chest, the princess sipped her drink and said, "Because he hurt you." She looked at Marceline, both confident and conflicted. "He hurt you, so I wanted to hurt him too. I didn't want him to get away with his crimes, you know? I didn't want him to think that he could just do things like that without consequences!"
Marceline spent a few moments studying her, an amazed smile slowly stretching over her cheeks. "Bonnibel Bubblegum..." Oh, she was cute when she bit her lip like that. "Haha ha! That is so hardcore! Holy shit, kid, I'm rubbing off on you in a very bad way."
The pink-lipped smile was a shy, secretly proud one. The two sat in content silence until they had finished their drinks. Bubblegum took the empty dishes to the sink, then resumed her couch seat once more. She winced.
"You really need a new couch or something."
"Pfffft." Marceline blew air from her vibrating lips, putting her hands behind her head, careful not to stress her injuries. "It's not like I'd use it much anyway." Before she could think twice, she added, "Hey, while we're doing this whole honesty thing... I'm glad I can... I mean, I'm glad you can trust me to protect you." A breath, then, "Because I totally can, you know. Like, my head is probably already scaring, and my arm is already scabbing, my leg is no big deal at all..." She cleared her throat. "I just mean that... I can protect you, you know? And... And I'm glad you can trust me to, you know, take care of you and stuff."
WOW that sounded stupid. That was so stupid. Why the glob did she say that?
From her peripherals, Marceline could see the warmth and care in her friend's eyes. Then they darted away from her, distracted. "Marceline, is that... is that an acoustic guitar?"
Surprised, Marceline looked at the relic, then smiled, rather embarrassed. "Uh, yeah. I found it in a junk dump a while back and finally finished restoring it and biz. I was playing it a little bit earlier." Glob, it felt like days ago, but she knew that her pitiful sob-fest was only a few hours old. To cover herself, she mumbled, "I dunno, I guess I was feeling retro today."
Bubblegum wasn't fooled. "Is that why your eyes were red when I came in? Because you were playing sad songs and crying?"
Marceline scowled and crossed her arms, sinking into the unmoving cushions, but nonetheless caught. "Maybe, maybe not." She focused on the damn guitar, not sure of what else to do. "It's... it's been a hard week, ok?"
A nod. "You haven't been getting enough sleep, have you?"
Instead of answering, the vampire turned to the princess and said, "Hey, stay with me tonight, ok?" Bonnie froze. "Hey! I mean-! I don't know what that psychotic fuck-ass is up to next, and I would rather play it safe and keep you under my protection for the night... is all..."
Somewhat awkward silence followed, neither one sure of what to say next. Bubblegum spoke first, breaking the air with, "Provided that I stay, may I make one humble request?"
For Bonnie, Marceline would do anything. "Sure, Princess."
It was kind of adorable how the pink princess would take a lock of her gummy hair and nervously squeeze it like a stress ball. "Would you... Would you perhaps play something for me?"
Marceline grabbed the neck of the guitar and swung it up onto her lap. In auto-pilot mode, she checked the tuning. "Any requests from the royal audience?"
Ah, that smile. That genuine smile that made heartbeats ten times louder, even when heartbeats were impossible. "Whatever the talent feels like performing."
Marceline paused, flexing her fingers and picking at strings absentmindedly. "I mean... I don't usually perform. You know that..."
"Right, right, right," Bubblegum broke in, not wanting to cause tension. She thought for a moment. "I wouldn't mind something slow..."
"But I want it to be happy." Her body bounced up and down a few times. "Yes. Slow like the breeze in May, but happy like how we are right now."
Onyx eyes shifted to meet the gaze of rose ones. "We're happy right now?"
"Well, yes! I mean, I am... Aren't you?"
At the sudden realization that Bonnie was absolutely correct, Marceline smiled genuinely for the first time in months. "Yeah. Yeah, I'm hella happy! Hold on, Princess, I think I know the perfect song to play..."