Chapter 5, Part 2
The air was crisp and cool through the land of Aaa, and the day was drawing into its afternoon phase, setting the sun lower in the sky. Going through his laundry list of people to thank, the young candy prince was down to his last person. Knowing the night-walking teen would be more willing for a visit later into the day, Prince Gumball saved him for last, wanting to be in his company the longest anyway.
When finally he found his way to Marshall's doorstep, he turned to his trusty unicorn and bid him to retire back to the palace for the evening; after all, he planned on staying late and the vampire could always fly him back to the Candy Kingdom. Lord Monochromicorn nosed his boy's shoulder as if telling him to be safe and enjoy his evening before turning and taking off into the radiant evening sky. Gumball smiled as he watched the steed disappear into the stratosphere before stepping up to the night-walker's door and giving it a polite knock.
He could hear something on the other end of the door, the low feedback of a speaker that undoubtedly overpowered his soft knock. So, trying again, he pounded his knuckle against the wood, pushing hard enough against it to nudge the unlocked, unlatched door. As the entrance opened, he stood back, not wanting to just waltz into the man's home without an invitation. But from far into the house the crackle and hum of the amplifier came, so he leaned through the threshold, hoping to maybe see him from the front.
In what must have been a much farther room in the house, he could hear the low, melodic thump of Marshall's bass accompanied by faint singing. Gumball leaned a little farther into the home, trying to spy the other young man, perhaps catch a glimpse of him around the corner. He thought for a moment he'd seen a flash of red from the room just beyond the kitchen, but he couldn't be certain. Still he wouldn't want to intrude. The polite prince waited at the doorway, knocking on the ajar door every now and again, hoping that Marshall would hear one of his requests for entrance. After five minutes of knocking to no result, the pink teen gave in and stepped beyond the threshold in search of the vampire. Following the soft singing and the humming bass, Gumball peeked through the doorway into the other boy's bedroom where the vampire floated on his back with his ax across his stomach, plucking notes and putting words to them.
"You just don't know, I just don't tell
No, that's not it
Can't you see-No! Wrong
ugh, forget it." Growling at the room, he took off his axe and set it against the amp, turning it off and settling himself on his bed. Gumball resisted the urge to present himself, seeing the undead male reach under his mattress for something. He rummaged around for a few seconds before pulling out a rather plain looking acoustic, no decoration but a burned rose detail into the body. He knocked the hidden pick from inside out and strummed a few times, getting used to the new technique. Once comfortable, he began a somber melody, taking a few measures before beginning his singing.
"Last night I woke up cold and walked out into the dark,
"And 800 reasons why kept flying into my eyes.
"Wish I could say that I killed them dead,
"But they were just much bigger than I.
"It's all over your eyes.
"There's nothing you can do.
"I'm coming out of my skin tonight.
"So tell me if you're ready or not.
"I'm tired of living out a lie,
"Sitting here watching things flying past me,
"And maybe, maybe-"
He stopped for a moment, sighing sorrowfully, almost as if he couldn't continue. The spy clenched the doorframe, secretly hoping he'd pick it back up and finish. With muffled cough and inhale, the vampire started again.
"Sitting here watching things flying past me,
"And maybe, maybe
"You're gonna save me.
"And maaaybe, maybe,
"But I don't know
I don't think so."
As Marshall Lee trailed off, his playing died away until the last quiet cord left his strings and he let himself sink in the air until he was actually lying on his bed a rare occurrence when he wasn't sleeping. He sighed and tried to force his fingers to pick the tune back up, but a quiet cough caught his attention and he lifted his head to see Gumball standing sheepishly by his doorway at a respectful distance from the vampire's chamber but close enough to have overheard his song. The prince felt he had to say something; it was awkward lingering in the doorway with the vampire king staring at him as if he couldn't believe that the pink teen was really there.
Your door was open
I knocked, but I guess you didn't hear
Then something neither of the two thought would ever happen occurred. The cool blood that ran through Marshall Lee's body rushed to his face, staining it a deep red even over bluish skin. He sat up and tossed his guitar to the side, as if doing so would rid him of its presence.
you heard that." The flushing vampire looked away not being able to hide his blatant embarrassment from his friend. "
what are you doing here?"
"I came by to thank you for playing at my party last night
" the candy prince started, trying to be delicate with the situation. 'Whatever it was Marshall was singing about, it must be really personal if he's getting so upset that I overheard
' Gumball thought to himself, fidgeting with his hands a little. "I'm sorry for intruding
I didn't intend to pry
I just overheard and thought your song was really good
you-you liked it?" Marshall shook, leaning back on his hands against the bed. He had walked in on him pouring his heart out
and he liked it? "Wha- I don't
I don't get it. You're not
"Mad?" Gumball chuckled, waving the notion off, "Why would I be mad? Your singing is really great when you're singing from the heart
" The prince smiled and took a step forward until he stood at the end of the bed, carefully sitting on the farthest corner of the mattress so as to not impose.
"Yeah, but," he grumbled scooting an inch away, suddenly not comfortable with his space being filled by another, "You're not
. freaked out or anything? About what I was singing
"Heck no," the prince replied shrugging, "What's there to get freaked out about? I mean, it's not like you were singing about drinking someone's body fluids or anything." Gumball studied the vampire's face, reading a combination of embarrassment, nervousness and shock on the other boy's furrowed brow. The pink teen could tell whatever it was that was bothering his friend must be serious if he was concerned about it enough to pour his feelings into a song. He leaned in a little closer, his eyebrows knitting as the vampire's stress began to sink in. "Are you
"Fine-Just fine! What are you talking about?" Wiping the perspiration that had begun to collect on his forehead and eyes, the vampire scooted away again, running out of mattress and forcing him to float beside it. "I-it was just a stupid song."
you seem kind of upset," he said, leaning back, becoming aware that Marshall was gradually distancing himself from the prince, "and you keep backing away." Gumball folded his hands neatly in his lap and looked down, taxing his brain for some way he could help the other teen. "You know, when I'm feeling upset about something, it usually helps me to talk it out with someone I trust like Fionna or Peppermint Maid
So, what do you say? Want to try talking about it?"
The elder didn't give an answer right away, but with persistent prodding and one touch to Marshall's shoulder, the king turned back and faced his friend.
but, you can't freak out, ok?"
"Why would I freak out?"
"Just promise me!"
The prince suddenly became very serious placing one hand over his heart and raising the other in the air as if taking a solemn oath.
"I royal promise."
Knowing that a royal promise was universally recognized, Marshall Lee took a deep breath and sat himself back on the bed. He could see Gumball leaning in, eager to hear his problems and make them right, and it only made him more nervous. But swallowing the last of his doubt, the vampire acted swiftly and stealthily.
Before the young prince realized it, the man seated next to him pressed their lips together.
Gumball froze, stiffening as Marshall's lips sealed against his own, unsure how to react but clinging to the promise he'd made not to freak out; after all, the breaking of a royal promise could spell a fiery death. With the vampire pressing their mouths softly together, there wasn't much the prince could do; he couldn't swallow his shock, or gasp, or flinch away.
The two stayed that way for only five seconds, not feeling any reaction from the younger man's end. Feeling defeated, the vampire king pulled away and turned his back to the other, not even wanting to see the presumed disgusted look on his face.
you can leave if you want to. I
I'd get it."
Gingerly the pink young man lifted his hand and placed just his fingertips against his lips in disbelief. The world around him was reeling, flying by while Gumball took ages to process the information that had been shoved into his face. The more he thought about it, the more he could feel his face and neck and ears heating up with embarrassment. Marshall Lee, the cold-blooded, creepy musical, not-quite-so-scary king of the vampires had kissed him.
" Gumball started, his voice dying off as he realized the vampire had turned his back to him, "I
I don't understand
Suddenly, the vampire's shoulders hunched forward, his body slightly shaking.
get it." He turned heatedly back with what looked like the starts of tears in his eyes. "I like you."
The prince tried his best not to look puzzled in fear of upsetting the other more, but he leaned in slightly.
"No," the undead huffed. "Like like you."
like-like like like?"
Marshall shook his head.
"No, like-like like."
"Oh," the prince whispered.
Gumball nodded slowly as he let the notion sink in; truth be told it made him feel as if his heart was pounding in his throat. He wasn't sure what to think of what he was being told
and shown. The prince wasn't exactly used to people liking him-liking him, except of course for the Ice Queen, but she like-liked every prince in Aaa, so he wasn't sure she counted. The prince fidgeted a little, feeling his face heating up in a way he also wasn't used to, the way your cheeks feel when you come into a warm house out of a snowstorm. He swallowed nervously.
"I made a promise not to freak out
but in order for me to keep that promise, you have to explain this a little more to me." The pink teen looked up, with uncertainty in his eyes, meeting Marshall's gaze, but the vampire quickly averted his eyes.
"How do I explain it? I just
I just like you, ok?" Marshall rubbed against his arm for lack of a better thing to occupy his hand. "I just
I feel better when you're around. Everything's not so
"Is that all? Why didn't you just say so Marshall?" Suddenly, it felt as if there was a spark of spontaneity controlling his movements as Gumball leaned in and wrapped his arms around the vampire's shoulders, embracing him firmly. "I feel better when you're around too Marshall. You're like
a really great friend. I really like hanging out with you and stuff, and I think you're a really cool dude."
The older teen flinched into the hug, slowly melting into it and placing his hand over Prince Gumball's back. But his growing smiled faded, as he knew that if he'd gone this far, he'd have to truly let it out.
"Well, it's not just that, GumGum," he leaned his friend back. "I like hanging out, but sometimes
I want to
do other stuff, like
. Kiss and junk."
"You want to kiss me?" What am I saying? The prince asked himself. Clearly Marshall wanted to kiss him, he'd done it. However, in place of the fear and repulsion he thought would follow quickly afterwards; there was
well, there wasn't much but curiosity and the glow of happiness that always accompanied the Vampire's presence of late. It was strange, as if he didn't mind being kissed by his friend; he wasn't exactly excited for it, but it wasn't horrible either
the feeling was wholly neutral.
"Well, yeah, I wanna kiss you." Seeing that the bubblegum royalty wasn't leaving anytime soon, the bassist scooted a smidge closer. "I wanna be with you like all the time now, but
I didn't think you'd want to be with me. Like
I don't know
What's that like even?" Gumball played with the hems of his sweater uncomfortably, looking up at the vampire with a sheepish smile.
"What do you mean, PG?"
"I mean, what is it like to be
with-with someone even? I've always been too busy with my duties to the Candy Kingdom to go on more than a couple dates
What's it like to commit?"
"Oh," he sighed, not taking a consideration to what his crush must be feeling. Of course he was going to be new and possibly resistant to the idea, but Marshall hadn't even thought he'd be ignorant to it. With him being already a young man, the vampire assumed he'd dealt with suitors before, at least female ones. "Well, if you really like that person, it's not that hard. It's just going out, like on dates, and spending time together. And if you feel like it," he leaned closer to drive in his message, "you can
fool around." He sat up quickly. "Not that that's what I'm looking for- well not really, only if you wanted to and all that
" Marshall Lee trailed of and looked away, wondering how much of a fool he could make of himself.
"So it's just like putting a different title to being really great friends? I mean if you take away the
it's just like being best friends with someone." Gumball could feel his own confidence beginning to rise from the ashes as he gradually grew more used to the unfamiliar topic, like adjusting to the chill of a cold lake. "I mean, 'cause I really like hanging out with you all the time
and I feel like we've gotten to be good friends really quickly
"Yeah, it's just like that. Like when we hang out, that's what a date would be like. You and me, together." Suddenly a fire burned in the vampire's eyes, his grin coming back tenfold. "I got it! Why don't we go out on dates? Bubba, it'll be so fun! We can try it out, and see if you like it," he calmed himself down, "and then maybe if you wanted to, later
we could try more."
Startled, the prince leaned back a bit when Marshall started to get really excited, only straightening back up when the vampire ha d relaxed a little.
"But won't that be weird? I mean
You're a boy
and I'm a boy
hanging out is fine, but wouldn't dating be
"What about me isn't strange?" Seeing that the joke hadn't worked, he sighed and leaned back, giving the prince space to think. "Look, you don't have to if you really don't want to. I get it." Slowly and carefully, he reached out his cold hand and placed it just touching the other's. "I just wish you'd give it a chance."
" Gumball looked down at his hand, and a slight smile crept onto his face, "I think I'd like that, Marshall
" He blinked slowly before looking up, his eyes meeting the deep red of the vampire's gaze. "But you have to promise
not to tell anyone
" Marshall had to struggle to swallow a lump of joy that leaped into his throat, remaining cool as he leaned in slowly, nearing the prince more cautiously.
"I royal promise
" he murmured just moments before his lips were again pressed against the gummy prince's mouth in a gentle kiss. This time their connection wasn't so urgent, and at one point the vampire thought that his new secret like-like friend was enjoying it. The pink youth had relaxed his body and let the kiss happen, making the other think it was time to press on. Moving subtly, he placed his hand against Gumball's jaw, holding it in place as he pressed his tongue out to caress the prince's lips.
The vampire could feel the other boy's lips twitch at the odd feeling, but they didn't purse and the prince's jaw didn't clench, so he dove in deeper. Marshall slipped his tongue past those soft, gummy lips, feeling overwhelmed for a moment by the prince's sweet bubblegum flavor. Before he could even begin to coax Gumball into the action, however, there was a pair of hands on his chest, holding him back as the other teen drew away. The younger male studied the king's face as if trying to understand.
my bad," the vampire sighed. To show his apology, the older teen leaned in again, only now planting his kiss on Gumball's forehead. He sat back and grinned, hoping he'd be forgiven for his slip up. He didn't want to ruin what he had just began.
not sure that I'm
" the prince tried to hide is flushed cheeks by shying away and swallowing bashfully. "I don't know if I'm ready for something like this
" Gumball's brows furrowed and looked up at Marshall with a worried look on his face.
"Hey, hey, I'm sorry. I won't move so fast." Marshall tried to touch his friend's hand again, but saw a slight retraction from his touch. He sighed and pushed himself away, folding his hands. "I'm sorry, Gumball."
I'm the one who should be sorry
" the pink teen forced his face to soften, "I shouldn't be so touchy it's just
this is so new
I'm not sure what to do
" Sighing, he looked down and hunched his shoulders embarrassedly. "I'm sorry
I'm being no-fun again
The elder managed a smile and shook his head.
"You're fine, Bubba. I don't want to freak you out more than I have to. Don't worry about a thing. Just
try out a date and tell me if you like it, ok? How about tomorrow night? Or whenever you can sneak away for the night."
A smile began to sneak its way onto the younger teen's lips at the thought of sneaking out at night. Surely it was hardly sneaking out, even if no one knew but himself and Marshall, he was still the prince and could go anywhere he wished whenever he pleased. Of course, he'd only just begun to tap into the liberty that came with his royal lineage, so the rush of slipping out still gave his heart a start.
Can you come by after sunset?"
"Of course." A sly grin crept over his mouth. "Wouldn't want to do anything else." Daring the situation one last time, Marshall smoother his hand over the covers of his bed until his fingertips touched the warm, gum flesh of his crush's hand, letting the first section of his digits rest on the other's.
Without meaning to, Gumball flinched, and quickly withdrew his hand. With a surprised look on his face, the younger teen looked at his own limb as if asking why it had darted away so quickly. Suddenly, he started to grin, unable to hold back a giggle as he placed his hand back on Marshall's.
sounds funny when you say it like that now."
"You'll get used to it," Marshall smirked, "At least, I hope so." He opened his fingers and let the prince's slide between his, and gently he pushed them back, their digits now interlaced and tenderly squeezed together.
what now?" Gumball asked, blinking up at the vampire. "I've been on my feet practically all day, but It's still early in the evening
Wanna come back to the palace? I've got Heat Signature One and Two on PLD."
The vampire king smiled and stood up, reaching out his hand to help his guest up.
"Sounds like a date."
Aided by Marshall Lee's vampire abilities, the two of them slipped back into the palace and settled down with a bag of cheese puffs and two of the most horrifying films in the prince's library. They shared a perch on the massive beanbag chair in Gumball's private lounge, watching the movies shoulder to shoulder. Every now and again the prince would jump as someone was mauled to death by the terrifying sea-monsters that had boarded the submarine, and the vampire couldn't help but take the opportunity to put his arm around the younger teen's shoulder and hold him a little more closely. Despite his newness to the realm of dating, the pink young man either didn't mind the proximity or didn't notice it, his eyes glued to the screen while his head rested on Marshall's shoulder.
Halfway through Heat Signature Two, however, the prince fell into a light sleep against the vampire's arm, his eyes fluttering open every now again as someone screamed bloody-murder. Alongside him, the king too struggled to keep his eyes open, feeling the strain of his all day-and-nighters on his energy. Looking lazily down to his companion and seeing the prince coming in and out of consciousness, Marshall took up the remote and flicked the movie off, letting the darkness of the room calm their fluttering eyes and take them away to dreamland. With no disturbance from the sleeping staff, the two royals slept in the chair, leaning into each other until they were arm in arm.
The following morning, Gumball came awake to light spilling across his comforter. For the second time that week he found himself in bed, fully clothed and tucked in, having no recollection of actually climbing under the sheets. The day was pouring through his bedroom window, and by the shaft of light thrown across his bedroom floor, the prince knew it must be nearly midday. He readied himself for his day in a hurry, and all day it seemed like everything was a rush. That is, until he found himself out of things to do. Once the royal teen had crossed off the last item on his daily agenda, he found himself staring down hours until sunset with little to occupy his time.
As promised, after a day's rest, the nightly king came on the coattails of the sun, snaking his way along the shade to meet with his date as soon as he could. Per tradition, he found his way in through the crack left in the prince's window, tumbling inside before he began to actually roast his skin. Falling onto the floor, he laid out, grinning like a fool until Gumball helped him up, scolding him for almost hurting himself again.
The will of the evening took them soaring across the Whistling Planes where the flute-grass sang to the passersby and the rushes whispered of their brief visitors. They flew beside the Grassland Centaurs, charging across their territory with thundering hooves and sounding bugles. With laughter in their voices, the candy prince and the vampire laid out in the salty dunes beside the southern sea, sprawled on their backs in the coarse sand. They swapped stories, both humorous and serious while watching the stars and letting the gentle rumbling of the waves on the shore lull their nocturnal senses. Even in the night, there was enough moon for the pair to build a handsome sandcastle, one that the pair claimed as their faux kingdom of the evening. Marshall kept it calm, even playful, with a splash or two from the incoming tide, not once diving at his date or working him too fast. The date ended as their 'hang-out's had, with the greeting dawn. Whisking him back to the candy palace under the radar of the prince's subjects, the vampire dropped off Gumball, quickly setting another date for their secret meeting the night after next. Quickly kissing his hand, Marshall Lee set off into his disappearing night, jetting his way to a nice hideaway to leave the tired Prince Gumball to a morning nap.
Though the prince had a clear lack of energy during the day, at the very least, his general demeanor seemed to be at least slightly improved. More than once, Peppermint Maid caught him whistling en route to a meeting with an important political figure or taking the stairs a daring two at a time. Most of Gumball's subjects brushed off the behavior as a whimsical streak, the likes of which they had seen before shortly before and after a good party. When the prince's minty servant caught him taking a nap in the afternoon just after the last official document had been read and signed, she had to inquire of him how he was feeling; sleeping during the day was strange behavior for the prince. Effectively hedging the situation, Gumball slipped off to bathe before giving his maid a proper answer, brushing her concerns off as inconsequential.
The next day passed uneventfully for the vampire king, being trapped in the house until nightfall. It was annoying having the whole world as your playground, but have it all restricted by the time of day. He had thought about slipping off to find his favorite adventurer, but even having the night off hadn't inspired him with any good ideas for a second date. He wanted something exciting for a change, without the sentimental talking. He wanted to show the bubblegum youth a thrilling good time, something that would have his blood pumping, make him feel alive. The tenderness was great; he knew he loved that about the prince. But his thoughts always wandered back to the night of the shindig and how that spark set the whole mood ablaze. Calling up a few of his day-roaming buddies, he found out about a little pop up festival in the desert lands. With music and performances, games and a few rides, it was sure to be abuzz enough to rile up the younger teen.
When sunset sunk across the land of Aaa, painting every inch of the country with shades of navy and violet, Marshall slipped quietly into Gumball's room, finding him napping belly-down and spread-eagle on top of his sheets. Perhaps the bubblegum boy was finally wising up and getting some winks before he spent all night awake with Marshall
or perhaps he was still exhausted; either way, the vampire couldn't wait to wake him up. The prince was jarred awake by a gentle palm shaking his shoulder to rouse him. When he was wide awake, the blue-skinned teen presented the prince with a stack of neatly folded clothes; they were some from Marshall's own closet. Seeing as he'd barely been able to find something for Gumball to wear last time they went to a party, he decided to bypass the hunt for a suitable outfit and bring one of his own. This way, he could ensure that his date would be casual and comfortable while in the warm desert. The prince changed quickly, finding himself in a thin, loose-fitting pale-blue flannel shirt and baggy, frayed khaki shorts. Inspecting his good work, Marshall only nodded before scooping the other boy up by his underarms and whisking him out the open window towards the southeast.
Through transit, the pair switched to piggyback, finding it more comfortable and informal. Then there was a long game of 'I Spy" that involved the result of 'sand' an ungodly number of times as they entered the Desert Lands and made the long trek towards the shindig. With the roar of a crowd leading the way, the date started off with a bang, a small display of fireworks almost shooting them out of the sky. Marshall landed inside the growing mosh pit, holding onto Gumball for fear of losing him to the crowd. Rob Goblin's band was playing, and the vampire happily rocked out through three of their songs until he saw that the prince was preoccupied by the terror of strange, grunting people surrounding him. Grinning to the end of his favorite song, Marshall Lee took up his date and flew him over the horde, placing him in a less populated area to better spend quality time.
Skirting the mob of excited partygoers, the pair swayed to the music shoulder-to-shoulder and hip-to-hip. When the mood was properly set by the soft lull of the music, the pair shared one discrete slow-dance despite Gumball's shyness about affection in public. Sure, movies and sandcastles were one thing, but moving to the gentle rhythm with Marshall's hands resting adoringly on his hips was an entirely different situation. The prince flushed, but let himself eventually lean on the vampire's chest, breathing deep his thousand-year-old musk like breathing the essence of Heavy Metal Rebellion.
After playing their tenth song of the night, the goblin band took their leave and headed to the set up bar, letting a raggedy, skeleton-looking mariachi band take center stage. The mob mumbled to itself with doubt, but as the bags of bones began to play, they became perfectly appropriate for the theme, a sultry lament of days past and loves lost with a strong guitar and hard horns. Taking the lead, the nightwalker stepped up the pace, bringing Gumball around to dip to the brash trumpets call, then sliding him back up to swing to a familiar dance they shared. Finding his courage in the music and losing his bashfulness to the dance, the pink teen poured himself into the salsa again, feeling tingles run up his spine as Marshall held his back and dipped him with a strong palm. Hips swaying to the hot-blooded Latin music the pair stepped and shuffled through the warm sand, hands clutching at shoulders and backs. Gumball completely forgot the gathered crowd and let the vampire lead him through the steps, twisting him in his arms to the music.
As the first number ended, Marshall and Gumball ended on their last step, the princes leg hiked up over his date's hip and their chest smashed together. The small audience that had gathered applauded shamelessly, whooping and whistling to their flawless performance. As the two teens untangled, shame caught up to the younger and he tried to hide his embarrassment, while Marshall Grinned and gladly took a free beer offered to him. He downed it quickly before Gumball could notice, but with the empty bottle in hand and a loud burp he was discovered. As they walked away towards the other side of the festival, the bubblegum prince scolded the older man on the dangers of drinking, but all harsh words faded form his lips as they stood in front of a horrifying structure, the words "Haunted House" painted with what looked like blood. Before he could protest, the vampire pulled him inside, shrouding him in pitch black.
The scary maze was mediocre at best for the night king, but after a tremor ran through his arm, he looked over to see Gumball quaking in fear. Snickering at the first few shrieks and whimpers the prince gave, even at the smallest and least scary things popping out at him, Marshall took the hint. As they turned the corner, a rubber bat came out, screaming at the two. Ahead of Gumball's reaction, the vampire slapped the fake creature, knocking back off its spring and revealing its mechanics. He explained that nothing was real here and with the spookiest creature of all of Aaa by his side, nothing could hurt him. Gumball eased up, only tensing at the arrival of another frightening obstacle. This time, it was a masked worker, hatchet in hand to try and freak out the timid prince. But as the employee's attention turned to scare the other visitor, he fled in terror at what looked like a grotesque monster, fangs and pinchers extended out to eat him. The masked worker retreated, leaving the two to laugh at the silliness of it all and exit out back into the celebration.
The remainder of the evening went off seamlessly, the two sharing an assortment of sweet junk-foods and participating in some of the carnival-style booth games. Still well into the heart of the night, a bonfire was struck up in the center of the festival grounds, the event coordinators constructing a massive teepee of logs and setting them ablaze with fire-magic. With the light blaze warming their faces, the two stood beside the immense fire, staring into its roaring beauty as if mesmerized for what felt like ages before Marshall blinked and looked away. Suddenly getting an excellent idea, the vampire clapped his hands and summoned his ax-bass, plucking out a few notes before flying up into the air with the instrument in hand and beginning to play. The re-introduction of music into the festivities drew more guests to the bonfire as the vampire circled the massive column of flames, trying to coax the gathered crowd to follow him. The prince caught on rather quickly and, motioning to the others around him, began to sashay about the fire pit.
With a captive audience the vampire king sung through an array of songs, absolutely delighted that Gumball was enjoying his music for once. He was sure that the prince wasn't actually paying a mind to the lyrics, and he rightly didn't care. But after his fifth song, he grew tired of playing, letting himself rejoin the group and hand off the baton as it were to a goateed koala man with an acoustic. With his rump placed firmly on the ground, Marshall grinned as his friend leaned into him, smiling and commending him on his recital. As the other took over the job of entertainment, the covered flask of what the royal teens presumed was more alcohol was being passed their way. As it reached Gumball's hands, he thankfully declined and was about to do so for Marshall, but the blue-skinned performer cut him off and took the offering, taking a swig. Satisfied, he passed it along, only earning himself a mild buzz and another glare from the prince. He hated that frown, so, to try and rid him of it, Marshall Lee leaned over, without thinking, and kissed Prince Gumball rather forcefully.
The prince was startled at first but found himself about to relax and actually when his better senses came rushing to the forefront. The sound of others around them was enough to make him retract with red-stained cheeks, and the burn of alcohol on his lips from the vampire's liquor-tainted kiss made him wipe his mouth with the back of his hand.
"Not now, Marshall," he hissed in a low voice, "We're in public
and you taste like a seedy bar
" When the pale blue teen immediately looked hurt by the prince's harsh objection, Gumball sighed and put his hand on his date's shoulder reassuringly. "Hey
I didn't say never
just not with so many people around and alcohol on your lips."
With the sniggers and sneers wafting around him, the vampire shrunk, leaning his head against his date's shoulder and nuzzling into his neck.
"I'm sorry, Gummy, I didn't mean it. I'll be good." Letting his silliness override his pride, the king stayed like that, awaiting his forgiveness. And, eventually, Prince Gumball leaned his head over to rest on Marshall's, letting the fire and songs wash over the slip up and bring them back to the calm, warm mood. The morning came far too soon, but the two knew their limit and quickly returned to the castle. Marshall escorted his date up to his room and safely tucked him in, planting one more kiss on the prince's lips before taking his leave.
The next week came with a new adventure nearly every other night, only pausing long enough for the prince to recollect his lost sleep and avoid drowning in formal work. They went on a peaceful hike through the Lollypop Forests in the Rock Candy Mountains just north of the Candy kingdom and spent the night marveling at the vastness of the world from the tallest peak. Marshall took his prince on a brief, areal tour of the Kingdom of Fire, the likes of which Gumball had never seen because of the estranged nation's lack of diplomacy. They trekked as far north as the prince had ever been in his life, all the way to the Shiny Isles where they wandered amongst massive, glittering gems in perfect solitude. Their closeness increasing with every night, every time a date ended, Marshall received a little more sugar than their previous departure until on the third night it was Gumball who initiated, pressing their lips together as they came upon a splendid grove of crystalized trees.
Hidden from the public Gumball so desperately needed to hide from, the two sat down amongst the hard roots and kissed. Marshall was so ecstatic that he could explode, having never expected to be advanced on by the high-browed candy prince himself. Already, he could feel his dead insides come to life, what had to be warm blood pulsing through him as he had to support his date's weight pressing in on him. He was sure that it was innocent love, but with such quick and heated actions it was getting harder and harder not to jump further into their physical connection. Late in the day he had wild dreams about bedroom tussles with his gummy crush, but he thought it'd be months until the prince warmed up to him.
On the other side of the romance, Gumball was in a tender state of contentment, as pure and serene as an untouched blanket of snow. He found his thoughts wandering to Marshall during the daylight hours when they couldn't meet, imagining the soft melodies the vampire could weave, his voice the thread and his guitar the loom. He felt eager for their next adventure with the coming of each new date, eager to explore every corner of the island of Aaa alongside the older teen. It seemed as if every time he left his room after the sun had slipped behind the curtain of the horizon, the world opened up into a land of wonderful new treasures, each new scene and event sparkling his eyes more than the last. All their closeness and time spent surrounded by the wonders of new locations and events made the prince's pulse begin to race and his heart begin to flutter. Usually he was shy about the feelings making his belly churn and his cheeks flush, but in the time he'd spent dating the vampire king, he'd discovered a strange understanding of what Marshall had meant when he'd told Gumball he wanted to kiss. Surprising even himself, the prince found himself with a powerful whispering in his heart, telling him he wanted to kiss the vampire too.