Disclaimer: Adventure Time belongs to Pendleton Ward/Cartoon Network. Issabell belongs to Kat (krazzy-kat on Tumblr, character blog is izzy-the-shape-shifter and contains adorable art) Thanks to Rinney for proof-reading.
"Okay fuzzball; let's try this again before Bonnie comes out of the lab." Marceline effortlessly circled the Candy Foyer in bat form, keeping herself aloft with lazy beats of her wings. Technically she didn't need to use them for anything besides steering since she could fly without them, but that set a bad example for Issabell.
The little girl had also shapeshifted into a much smaller bat and was currently being held in Marceline's arms as she squeaked excitedly and fluttered small wings. Unlike the vampire she had no ability to hover, so her flight was dependent on wing power alone. And while Bubblegum had protested that Issabell was too small to learn how to fly and could hurt herself, Marceline didn't hold with that. Crash landings were just part of the learning process. Though it did mean that flying lessons were restricted to whenever the candy princess was busy or absent.
"Right Izzy, you ready?" Gently shifting her grip so that the tiny bat could spread her wings properly, Marceline carefully bounced her up and down a few times first. Her daughter continued to squeak enthusiastically as she flexed her wings to catch the air, and then Marceline threw her up and forward to fly on her own.
For a few moments it seemed to work as Issabell's small wings worked frantically to pull herself higher. But instead of smoothing out into a glide, the little bat continued to struggle against gravity instead and began to drop as she grew tired.
"Woah, that's not how it works!" Marceline quickly reached out to catch her, and steadied her again. "You have to let the air do some of the work or you'll just get exhausted." The vampire knew it was easy enough for her to say that since she didn't have to worry about gravity herself, but she still understood the basic principles. "Now stretch out those wings and this time keep them still, okay?"
The tiny bat squeaked in response, but this time when she spread her wings she didn't move them. Again, Marceline held her out and slowly swung her up and down, letting Issabell feel the air moving against her wing membranes without letting her go. "See? You just want to flap to get some height, and then you glide. Got that?" Issabell peeped in what Marceline hoped was affirmation, wriggling in the vampire's grasp excitedly. "Okay then, on three. One, two, three!"
Once again the little bat flapped her wings wildly to gain height as Marceline tossed her forwards like a ball, then stretched them out wide to try and catch the air currents. For a few brief moments she glided upwards in a smooth, shallow arc but it quickly peaked and turned into a rapid descent. Squeaking in panic, Issabell started to beat her wings frantically to try and slow herself then her fall was halted as Marceline caught her once more.
"That was definitely better Izzy," the vampire told her, stroking the little bat's head fondly. "Maybe we should work on your landing before we do any more flight practice though, you don't need to be scared of falling if you know how to land without hurting yourself. Let's go find a cushion or something before Bonnie…"
"Marceline?" The vampire cursed silently as she heard the candy princess' voice echoing along the corridor. Taking advantage of the larger bat's distraction, Issabell struggled free and started flapping haphazardly towards the door with an excited squeak. Quickly swooping after her, Marceline only just managed to catch her again before the doors at the top of the staircase were pushed open.
Princess Bubblegum stopped in her tracks as she saw the two bats, her eyes narrowing. "I thought we agreed that she was too young for flying lessons?" It wasn't a question, and the princess' voice was sharp and disapproving. "She might hurt herself; she's not a vampire like you."
"Yikes Bonnie, way to jump to conclusions," Marceline replied, doing her best to sound hurt. "I'm the one that's flying, not her. She turned into a bat and took off all by herself; I grabbed her before she could have any accidents. All I'm doing is letting her get used to being in the air, sheesh."
"Oh. I see," the princess replied, her tone softer but still not without an edge of scepticism. "And if she just so happened to get out of your grip and fall then that would be a learning experience, right? Isn't that what you said before?"
Marceline rolled her eyes as she snorted dismissively. "Yeah, and I'd like to see her get out of my-woah!" Choosing that exact moment to wriggle free despite Marceline's attempts to hold her, the little bat dropped like a stone towards the tiled floor. But before the vampire could dive after her daughter, Issabell spread her wings and propelled herself upwards, flying clumsily over to where Bubblegum was standing. The candy princess' mouth had dropped open, she'd been about to shout in alarm when she saw Issabell fall but fell silent in surprise as the tiny bat flapped jerkily towards her.
Cupping her hands, Bubblegum held them out for Issabell to land on, not wanting to try and grab her in case she hurt her. The little girl certainly liked to roughhouse as a wolf pup, but as a bat she looked extremely fragile with her translucent wings and tiny body. She barely weighed anything at all, dropping into Bubblegum's outstretched hands with as much force as a ball of crumpled paper. Looking up at her mother, Issabell squeaked and chirruped, looking extremely pleased with herself as Marceline chuckled softly.
"She's really proud of herself for making it over to you," the vampire explained. As she was still in her own bat form, she could understand the high-pitched sounds Issabell was making. "You see what I mean now, Izz?" Marceline asked as she flitted closer to the candy princess. "You just need to learn how to catch the air right, that was way better than the last few…" Her voice tailed off awkwardly as she realised what she was saying and saw Bubblegum's reproachful glare.
"Just showing her what being in the air was like, huh?" the pink woman asked sarcastically, gently stroking the soft fur between Issabell's ears with her thumb. The little bat seemed to melt into her palms in response, her wings and feet splaying out on either side as if she was sunbathing.
"Uhhhhh… well… at least she's learning pretty well?" Marceline offered hopefully. "And at least it's better this way than her trying to fly by herself when neither of us are around, she could hurt herself just as badly if she decided to try flying while we thought she was asleep in her room. This way she's supervised."
"I guess you've got a point there," Bubblegum admitted reluctantly, her expression softening into a smile as Issabell squeaked sleepily in her hands. "Just… put some cushions down for her to land on or something, okay?"
"Huh. That's pretty freaking obvious now that you mention it," Marceline admitted ruefully. "Guess that's something you don't really think about when floating comes naturally. Looks like she's ready for naptime right now though, all the flapping must have worn her out."
As if in agreement, the tiny bat yawned widely, displaying a pink tongue and four milk-white points. Her bottom fangs had started growing in now, but as yet they were still too small to do anything but nip, even in wolf form. With surprising agility, the little creature scrambled along Bubblegum's arm and latched small claws into the fabric of her dress. While flying in this form was still difficult for her, climbing was relatively simple, and she clambered upwards with as much ease as she'd crawled across the candy princess's arm.
"Izzy, where are you- Hey!" Bubblegum exclaimed in protest as the little bat reached her shoulder and burrowed into her hair as if it was a blanket. For a moment Issabell vanished completely into the gummy substance and was only a wriggling lump. Once she had settled into a comfortable, upside-down position she poked her head back out and squeaked drowsily. "Marceline, she's in my hair!" the candy princess wailed, her hands automatically moving to tug Issabell out of the nest she'd made only to freeze in consternation as Bubblegum realised that might hurt her. "Make her come out… And stop laughing!"
The larger bat was rolling over and over in the air as Marceline laughed helplessly at the situation and the look on Bubblegum's face. Pulling herself upright, the vampire grinned at her girlfriend mischievously. "Don't think I can do that, Bon," she replied breezily. "She's not going to come out if she's sleepy, and if I pull her out I might hurt the little squirt. Besides, it's adorable. Nobody's going to notice."
"Until she changes back," Bubblegum snapped with a glare. "You know fine well that she sometimes changes form in her sleep, what happens if she turns back into a baby or a wolf pup while she's stuck in my hair?"
In deference to Bubblegum's glower, Marceline had covered her mouth with both hands to stifle her giggles. It worked to an extent, but her response shook slightly as she tried her hardest to keep a straight face. "Well, if that happens it'll just be really, really, really funny." Marceline had to snort back a chuckle as she spoke, trying to disguise it as a sneeze. From the icy look on the candy princess' face, it was obvious that she hadn't been fooled. "Oh come on, Bon, she probably likes your hair because it reminds her of your parents. She doesn't go to sleep that easily in her crib, does she?"
Bubblegum's expression twisted wryly at the thought, bedtime for Issabell usually involved having to chase her down first followed by getting her into the crib. And then the most difficult task of all - keeping her there. "I guess you've got a point there," she admitted grudgingly. "Maybe I should replace her mattress with gum. She might like that better."
Returning to her normal form, Marceline stretched and rubbed at her spine. "Ugh, actually using wings to fly is way more effort than floating," she grumbled. "Floating doesn't make me stiff afterwards."
"Well, since I don't want to do anything too scientific with Izzy in my hair, I suppose I could give you a back massage," Bubblegum offered, carefully rearranging her gummy locks to make sure the little bat wouldn't fall out. "We can go back to the bedroom for now." The princess sighed as Marceline wiggled her eyebrows with a suggestive grin.
"Back massage, huh? Back to the bedroom? Riiiiiiiight…" the vampire sniggered, erupting into outright laughter as Bubblegum swatted her across the arm.
"We're not doing THAT while Izzy's in my hair either," Bubblegum said, her tone somewhere between exasperation and reproof. "That would be so unbelievably distasteful. Hey!" The princess yelped in protest as Marceline wrapped both arms around her waist and pulled her close then sprouted a pair of huge batlike wings from her shoulders which she used to shroud them both in a leathery, webbed cocoon.
"There," Marceline said into the sudden gloom, the space between the two women now dim and warm and intimate. "Now she won't see anything even if she does wake up, will she? Neither will anyone else come to think of it, we don't even have to go back to the bedroom any more…"
Despite Bubblegum's best efforts, her look of stern disapproval cracked into a fond smile. "You're terrible Marcy, you know that?" she asked, leaning forwards into the other woman to kiss her lightly on the lips. "But I'm putting Izzy to bed first any- augh!" The princess' head was suddenly wrenched downwards and to the side as the tiny bat in her hair became a baby girl, throwing her off-balance. Feeling herself starting to fall, Bubblegum launched herself sideways into Marceline to stop herself from landing on Issabell.
Since the vampire already had her arms around the candy princess she didn't need to try and catch her and simply let herself topple backwards, stopping a few inches from the floor and hovering above it with Bubblegum lying across her. Both of the pink woman's arms were stretched out behind herself to stop the large bulge in her hair from hitting the ground, curved around her back in what looked like a clumsy imitation of a mother swan.
Issabell on the other hand was still fast asleep, comfortably snuggled in gummy hair and now sucking her thumb.
"Nice catch, Marceline," Bubblegum said breathlessly. She carefully shifted the bulk of her hair over her shoulder and around to her chest so she could support Issabell's weight with her arms instead of her hair, not convinced that the tensile strength of the gum it was made from was enough to hold a small child.
"Likewise," Marceline replied, pushing Bubblegum back to her feet. "And I guess I was right – that was really, really funny," she added with a chuckle.
"You butt," the princess sighed, but she smiled all the same.