A/N: I really have to get better at updating, but I have, like, ten stories crowding my one document, and all of them start off really great, but I can't for the life of me end well. So I have a bunch of stories and ideas floating around, but none of them are complete yet. Anyway, please enjoy this little chapter of word vomit! :)
A Swankified Party
When Marceline called her up and asked if she wanted to attend her dad's ridiculous 5,000th birthday party celebration, Bonnibel thought it was a joke.
"He's having everyone wear formal attire," the vampire had said in a bored tone. "It's mostly going to be my dad's golfing and soul-sucking buddies, but he said I'm allowed to bring one other friend." Here, it almost sounded as if the (relatively) young immortal grew hesitant. "So, I figured you'd, like, be all about wearing a nice dress and stuff..."
Bonnibel had instinctively agreed to the arrangement, but did not occupy herself with anxiety until two hours beforehand. She now stood in front of a full-length mirror, fixing the ruffles of her underskirt as Peppermint Butler tightened her corset.
"Remember not to look anyone in the eye," he was instructing her nervously. "Do not stare at the demon-creatures, no matter how hideous they are. Also, I know the skeletons only eat flesh, but, were I you, I would still run away from them upon sight."
"I know, Peppermint," she said with a sigh, and held up her hair as a few marshmallow servants helped her into the heavy, frilly, pink fabric of her dress.
Bubblegum drowned out Peppermint's paranoid ramblings as she was tied up into her elaborate gown. She calmly pulled long, pale pink gloves up her arms, and the marshmallows tied her hair into a tight bun, fitted with a sparkling cover, with her crown perfectly placed on the peak of her head. Dangling rock candy served as earrings, and the addition of a necklace upon her bare neck finished the outfit. She assured her butler that it was just a birthday party, that they had no reason to worry about kidnappings or attacks, and that she trusted Marceline to keep her out of trouble... for the most part.
Hunson Abadeer had been turning 5,000 years old for the past hundreds of years, yet, for some reason, he chose this year to host a small celebration. To give him credit, it did look to be a pretty swanky time, especially considering the effort he put into his invitations. The 4x6'' heavy paper-stock was embroidered with gold lettering and parabolic arches, as well as a happy face and proper words to activate a portal into the Nightosphere. As the portal swirled open before her, equipped with a staircase walled with flames, she noticed her butler beginning to sweat. She did not let her own nerves show as she reassured him, again, that she would be fine, and thus descended into the demon realm.
At the bottom of the stairs was a wide, red cul-de-sac, bricked with different shades to illustrate the face of Mr. Abadeer. Other staircases would disappear as their occupants stepped off of them, and others would reappear at the circle's end, newly activated. There were already a few interesting characters filing into the large castle that belonged to the Abadeer family, including what looked to be a Frog-Monkey familiar, a short portly bear with teeth so large that they conquered most of his face, and a tall tropical bird with metal spikes instead of feathers on its wings and tail.
The monarch clutched her dress, noticing the hungry eyes that drifted her way, wondering if she should have asked Marceline to escort her. It wasn't that she was afraid, though. Much to her displeasure, she automatically assumed that her dress made her look like a cupcake, thus attracting attention. On the other hand, she supposed that she was rather inexperienced with the Nightosphere. But she most certainly was not frightened...
They all entered the grand hall, which had two long tables running along the sides of the room, and another long table that was placed at the head of the room which spanned the entire width of the hall. There was food, punch, plates, food, cups, napkins, utensils, more food, covering the tables.
The other guests mingled with each other, and Bonnibel attempted to socialize with a crowd that was very foreign to her. She would approach a green Slug Lady, or that Goat-Goblin with flaming horns, or even the larger-than-average squirrel with unhinging jaws and hypnotic eyes; all of them she would greet with an enthusiastic smile, a small curtsy, and her full, proper name and title. The Slug Lady spared one unimpressed glance through her opera glasses, then, with a rude amount of purpose, turned away to carry on another conversation. The Goat-Goblin had seemed nice at first, taking her hand and bowing, but his horns were practically touching her gummy skin, an action Bubblegum knew was not an accident. She did not respond to the heat, pain, or now-ruined glove, causing the Goat-Goblin to sneer and walk briskly away. The squirrel tried to hypnotize her, but, upon realizing that he could not, hissed and scurried off into a dark corner. Her vampire friend was nowhere to be found.
Feeling awkward and slightly irritated, Bonnibel made her way to the head table where Hunson sat in a large, ornately decorated chair, greeting others with a goofy grin plastered to his face. Hambo sat on the table to his left, his patches and ratty cloth highlighting a pristine, purple bow-tie. Seeing the stuffed animal was reassuring, but it also brought back the bittersweet memory of her dearly departed shirt. Even though it was silly, Bubblegum gave the inanimate object a smile and a small wave. She pointed to his bow-tie and gave a thumbs up, mouthing 'love it!' to the admittedly handsome Hambo. Hunson finally caught sight of her after finishing a sizable gulp from his chalice. He beamed, and slurred,
"Bonnibess Prubblebum!" Then he paused and shook his head. "Wait, I messed that up... ah, whatever. I'm so glad you could make it, though!" He grasped her hand, giving it a hearty shake. "Marceline told me you'd be coming. 'S why she took so long getting aaaaaallllll dressed up!" He hit the 'p' hard, then hiccuped.
Wow. Bubblegum was not prepared for the Lord of the Nightosphere to be drunk. With a quick look around the room, she realized most of the crowd was also growing inebriated. She was grateful that she did not drink the punch.
"Happy birthday, Mr. Abadeer! It's so good of you to have me," she replied with obliged glee. "Speaking of your daughter, do you know where she is?"
Hunson sat back in his chair. Despite being drunk, he still held an authoritative yet personable aura, a striking ability. "You know, I just saw her, like, a secon' uh-go." With a sudden thought, he craned his neck upwards, squinted eyes inspecting the steeply elevated ceiling. "Marceline, honey! Get down here!"
Startled, Bubblegum looked skyward and spotted an unamused vampire descending from the shadowed trusses above.
"I'm coming, I'm coming. Sheesh."
Oh... Oh dear.
Her hands were shoved inside the pockets of black suit pants, her head adorned with a black, red-banded fedora, and her dark hair actually seeming quite tame for once. With nonchalance that was enviable, Marceline removed her hat and plopped it haphazardly over Bonnie's crown. She then landed on the floor, providing a loving pat upon Hambo's head. Finally, she smirked at her guest, revealing a single fang.
"H-hello, Marceline," Bubblegum stuttered, watching as she unbuttoned her black suit jacket and hung it over the back of Hambo's chair. She was wearing an electric red button-up shirt, which made her eyes look like rubies, and a black silk tie that was accompanied with a black vest. "Y-you look nice."
The Queen smiled at her, bowing somewhat. "As do you, Princess Frilliness."
Bubblegum's face flushed with heat. "Don't be rude!"
"Oh, Marcy's just kidding," Hunson insisted, waving a free hand as a demon refilled his cup. "You look great! Both of you ladies look great!"
"How many cups have you had, Dad?" Marceline asked.
"Ah, I dunno, sweetheart. I lost count around the twentieth."
Marceline let out a laugh so genuine and warm that it caught Bubblegum completely off-guard. It was abrupt, but soft and low. As the undead woman kissed her father's navy-flushed cheek, Bubblegum realized that she hadn't heard Marceline laugh like that in a very, very long time... and she missed it.
"And what have you been up to? Hmmmmm? Have you been whiling away the hour on that truss, just staring at Bonnibel?"
"What? No!" Marceline said with a little too much force. She was obviously flustered. "I wasn't just... I've been, like... I mean, what kind of question is that anyway!" She leapt over the table, taking the hand of both Bubblegum and Hambo, and departed, practically dragging the sugar monarch away.
Hunson called out something about having fun, but Bonnie was fixated on the back of Marceline's vest. Whenever the hair would allow a visual, she could see the decorated stencil of bat wings amongst parabolic swirls, stitched into the fabric with silver thread. It was simple yet marvelous. Here she was clad in a ridiculous, frothy gown, a costume that demanded many hours of arduous work, from its conception all the way to its application. Meanwhile, the apathetic vampire probably spent about an hour (maybe two) getting ready, and she was stunning!
"Sorry, my dad is totally trashed right now," Marceline was saying in an attempt to fill the silence. "It's weird. Like, everyone thinks that vampires can't get drunk, but it just takes the right amount of a particular mixture to get us, you know, buzzed and stuff, you know?"
"Hell, I don't even know what's in the punch. I never even really tried to get fucked up until Ash came along. Ugh. Ash. But, yeah, after he left, there were a few social occasions here and there where I'd drink and shit, but nothing big. Shocking, I know, but I'm not a loser or anything."
"Yeah, no, totally."
A short lull, followed by a cease in movement. Then Marceline asked, "So, are you ready?"
"For what?" Bubblegum asked, confused.
In spite of the dim lighting from the hall torches, her rubies sparkled. "For the library, dummy."
With one hand pulling open a large, oak door, Marceline used the other hand to gently lead Bonnibel into a magnificent room. Numerous towering shelves were crowded with a remarkable array of books. Leather-bound manuals, hardback and illustrated storybooks, illuminated historical volumes, delicate scrolls; it was a spectacular archive of science and history to which her own royal library didn't even compare. Bonnibel practically drooled at the splendor of it all.
Marceline looked pleased with herself. "Have at it, nerd."
The first thing Bubblegum dove for was the historical records. She had always been so curious about time and the genesis of everything. She completely disregarded Marceline's flying ability, instead favoring a couple attached ladders on tracks and wheels; she would pick out a book at the top shelf, then launch herself a considerable distance away, sliding to the floor and emitting a fervent "wheeeeeee!" all the way down. She did not keep track of time. She was so busy absorbing new information that she almost didn't hear the faint sound of Marceline playing her bass guitar.
The low notes flowing from the instrument accompanied her random spurts of gibberish and lyrics nicely. Bubblegum relaxed, smiling, and finally turned from her pile of books to watch the floating immortal. Marceline's hair swirled downward in a mix of charcoal and dark violet, with the tips just barely licking the floor. Her fangs would reflect the colors of the fire whenever they peaked out, and every now and then she'd crack her neck, the two red dots of her bite contrasting noticeably above the grey skin. Despite being in a relatively well-lit room, she still seemed so shadowed. Whether it was with angst, or a less stressing emotion, or secrets of her past life, Bubblegum wasn't sure. She also supposed that it could just be a natural side-effect of being Queen of the Vampires. The murkiness did not obstruct the vampire's beauty.
She had no idea how long she was staring until Marceline glanced sidelong at her and asked, "Something on my face?"
Instead of admitting that she had been staring, Bonnibel replied with, "Your father sure has a lot of friends."
Marceline shrugged and placed the bass on a nearby chair, then rested her head on her hands and drifted back, almost as if floating in a pool, towards Bonnie's station. "Yeah, he's been around, you know? Every couple of decades, they'll all get together and throw these huge parties and get shit-faced. I don't really care for them."
"They are quite... unsettling in their demeanor," Bubblegum admitted, looking forlornly at her burnt glove. "I was very cordial and polite, but them seemed rather discontented with me."
Marceline smirked. "That's the way with demons. You gotta treat them like they aren't worth anything. Then they'll start to respect you."
Bubblegum sighed, resting her elbows on the table, and her chin upon her hands. "That's weird, Marcy. I don't get that at all."
"Neither do I," the vampire agreed. "But, hey, don't get all stretched out over it. Those snobs aren't worth your attention." The princess smiled graciously at her companion and thanked her. With a small blush in her undead cheeks, she added, "And, hey, at least it was an excuse to get all dressed up and pretty-looking."
Bonnie rolled her eyes and let out a 'hmph'. "You look pretty. I look positively silly."
Marceline looked at her like she was crazy. "What? Are you serious?"
"Come on, Marcy, look at me. My appearance is laughable, at best. I look like a frosted cupcake."
The Queen did laugh, but she shook her head and touched Bonnibel's gloved hand. "No, Bonnibel, listen." She spoke with a gentle firmness and gave their connected hands a squeeze. "You are breathtaking."
Bubblegum's stomach was composed of solid crystalline sucrose, lacquer-lined with resilient molasses, yet she still felt as though her insides were mutating into bubbles. She made eye contact with her friend. "... For reals?"
Marceline noted the hesitation, the uncertainty, and looked sincerely surprised. "Uh, yeah, for reals." Unexpectedly, she brushed an ever-present stray strand of hair behind Bonnie's ear, then quickly turned, still floating on her back, and crossed her arms. "Glob, you're like Aphro-frickin-dite over here."
Bubblegum's face was on fire, so she was eager to avoid the subject of her flustered state. "Who?"
"Aphrodite. You know, goddess of love and beauty and junk."
Marceline looked back at her, surprised. "You've never heard of Aphrodite? Roman name Venus? Born of the sea-foam?"
Bonnie shook her head, thoroughly intrigued. "I've read books about some religions of the old world, but they were quick to generalize and move on; they had a lot of other information to cover. I am aware of the polytheistic society of the Greeks and Romans, but I never could find adequate transcriptions of their legendary stories."
"Huh!" Marceline was smiling smugly. "I never thought I'd see the day where I know something you don't."
Bubblegum puffed out her cheeks. "Well, perhaps instead of bragging about it like a butt, you could actually enlighten me!"
Marceline laughed again, the empty library providing a lovely echo. She then held up her finger, and flew away to a tall upper-balcony of books. She scanned a few books, then delved back into the darkness. After a few grunts and coughs, she finally reemerged victorious, carrying a fairly small book. Its pages were yellowish and worn, and Marceline wiped off some dust from the cover before handing it over. There was a faded picture of a marble statue, a naked man resting on his elbow, and only two words of a title were legible. Something involving myths and an author named Edith.
"Are these stories?" Bubblegum asked, eyes shimmering with excitement.
"Yup," Marceline said, sitting on the table. "I used to read that book all the time. I loved it. It's not, like, super extensive, but it's got some great detail and a lot of the gods in it."
"You should read it to me," Bubblegum said, passing the book back.
Marceline was incredulous. "Really? You want me to read to you?"
"Yes!" Bubblegum hopped up from her chair, and dashed over to the couch by the lit fireplace. She removed her gloves and patted the cushion next to her. "I haven't heard you read in such a long time. Please, Marcy?"
Marceline was already unbuttoning her vest and sitting down. "Ok, ok. But I'm not reading about Aphrodite. I don't like her stories as much."
"That's ok. What are some of your favorites?"
Marceline thought about that for a few moments as she looked at the Index page. "Well, I'm a fan of Athena, and Hermes, and Apollo... I like the story about how they think the world began, and I like the one about Cupid and Psyche. I also really like the story about the seasons."
"I'd like to hear the seasons one!" Bubblegum decided, and settled in as best she could in her dress. Marceline nodded, turning to that particular page, and, unspoken, offered Bonnie her shoulder. Bonnie beamed and snuggled up against her vampire, very able to see the text on the page, but choosing instead to focus on Marceline's scent. She closed her eyes and felt the vibrations from Marceline's throat on her ear, a bass in its own way, lulling her to peace.
"Demeter only had one daughter, Persephone, the maiden of the Spring. She lost her and in her terrible grief, she withheld her gifts from the Earth, which turned into a frozen desert. The green and flowering land was icebound and lifeless because Persephone had disappeared..."