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Chapter 10:

Lord Monochromicorn landed on Marshall's porch and the prince swiftly slid down off of his steed's shoulder, giving the muscular flank a thankful pat.

"Thanks for bringing me by, buddy," Gumball said quietly to his friend. "I should be here a while, so don't wait up. Why don't you go hang with Cake? Marshall can give me a ride home." The prince stroked Lord's nose thankfully, making the stallion snort and shake his mane. Taking a pace backwards, the mount dipped his head and tapped with his hoof.

"-.. --- -. .----. - / -.. --- / .- -. -.-- - .... .. -. --. / .. / .-- --- ..- .-.. -.. -. .----. -"

"Wait, what is that supposed to mean?" the prince asked indignantly, but too late, as his steed had already leaped into the air and flown out of the back entrance to Marshall's cave with a whinny. Pursing his lips in frustration, the candy teen pulled on his winter coat to straighten the garment before stepping forward and knocking at his friend's front door. There was a long silence, making the prince a tad nervous, but as he raised his fist to knock a second time, there came an answer.

"Who is it?"

"Candygram," Gumball replied with an awkward chuckle, hoping Marshall would get his humor. On the other side, the vampire chuckled lightly. He turned the knob and pulled open the door, taking a step back to look his visitor over.

"Hey, Gum. What's up?"

"Not a lot," the prince shrugged, trying to sound a bit more aloof than he really was. "I was hoping you might have come by last night, but since you didn't, I decided to come see if you wanted to hang out. How's the arm?"

"Fine. Feel." He extended his limb for the prince's inspection, and when Gumball touched and squeezed gently, he found it solid. "Told you I heal fast… Want a soda?" Marshall asked, floating away to his kitchen. He had dressed as normal, very light and breezy clothes that weren't appropriate for the climate. Having little vulnerability to the weather, his home was not heated and was therefore cold, but at least the walls cut the wind out.

"That's fine… Unless you'd be willing to make hot tea," the prince smiled softly, following Marshall Lee and shutting the door behind himself. The elder only grunted and went in search of a teakettle instead. Gumball followed the other with his eyes until the other man disappeared around the corner. The pink teen sighed; this standoffishness they'd been feeling since their little disagreement was eating away at the younger royal's cheerful demeanor. Quietly, Gumball removed his heavy coat and hung it from one of the many bare pegs beside the front door, leaving him in a crisp button-up shirt under a regal-looking mauve sweater. He left his matching scarf wrapped loosely around his neck, thinking it to be stylish and hoping Marshall would agree.

The sound of running water made the candy teen hopeful, and even more so when a comforting hum followed. The tune was smooth and beautiful, Marshall Lee's normal style, but Gumball was just glad he didn't have to hear whatever lyrics were to accompany it. The younger man sat himself on the hard couch, waiting for his friend to return, but even after the burner was lit and the kettle put on the vampire stayed in the other room, possibly humming to the pot.

While he waited for the king of monsters to return from the kitchen, Gumball took to letting his eyes wander around the vampire's home. It was exactly as he remembered, albeit a bit dustier, not a thing having moved an inch since he'd visited last. A shrill bark knocked him out of his revere and, with a yelp, the young royal nearly leaped out of his skin. Schwable came charging out of the back hallway having recognized the familiar bubblegum scent of her master's friend. The zombie poodle came bounding towards the prince, yapping gleefully through her fearsome split jaw, making Gumball scramble up onto the couch to avoid the snapping teeth.

Hearing the pleas and yelling at the dog to shoo, Marshall peered around the corner, smiling at the sight of his dog terrifying his lover. With a whistle, he beckoned his pet, who turned happily and scampering into his arms. The deathless king carried the wiggly mongrel in one arm with the steaming tea in the other hand as he reentered the living room, sitting himself on top of the right armrest of the couch. After handing off the cup, he pet the fluffy dog until she settled, panting contently in his lap.

"Hey, Marsh," the prince said looking up at his lover and smiling, taking a sip of his tea and leaning just out of reach of Schwable. "So what do you want to do? I figured we could go on a walk, I noticed that some of the lakes on the outskirts of the Mountain Kingdom are completely frozen if you'd like to go ice skating."

"Sounds fun, but I can't skate. I'll watch you if you want." Marshall Lee smiled simply, not his huge, confident grin per normal. "I bet you're one heck of a skater."

"Nonsense," the prince protested with a grin, "I'll teach you! I've even got several pairs of skates so you can borrow a set. What size shoe do you wear?"

"Uh…" Marshall thought for a moment to little avail, eventually deciding to set his dog down and check the size on the chucks he was currently wearing. "Looks like eleven."

"Dang…" the prince murmured with surprise before he realized he was getting a bit of a scowl from the vampire. "Oh, that's not bad! I'm sure I can find a pair in your size, no problem!"

"Hey, I'd rather not. I'm good with floating and walking. I can just hover if you really want." He shoved his hands in his pocket, kicking out his feet to lounge midair before the prince.

"Well, Mister Fun Guru, what would you like to do then?" the prince asked, rising to his feet and resting his arms and chin on the vampire's outstretched stomach. "Heck, I haven't seen you in ages! I'm game for just about anything!"

Marshall placed his hand over Gumball's for a moment, looking at their skin touching. But then he withdrew and shrugged.

"We can do whatever you want, Gumball. If I had my way, it'd be a nice night in, but…" He trailed off but then shook his head. "No, we can go skating. Sounds fun." His smile now was weak, almost forced.

Instantly, the candy teen's smile vanished and his brows furrowed.

"Marshall, if you don't want to go skating, that's fine. I just want to spend time with you… Is…" he paused, leaning a little closer in to his lover's face as if trying to tell why his smile appeared so strange, "Is something the matter? I'm sorry I insinuated you have big feet. They're really not that bad… I just have pixy feet."

"Hey, it's nothing! Skating is cool." Gently floating down so that the younger couldn't lean on him, the vampire glided out from underneath him and flew to the door, grabbing the heavy winter coat the candy teen had brought. He turned it around to hold out. "You're gonna need this."

Gumball finally broke and folded his arms.

"What's wrong?"

Marshall Lee tilted his head, puzzled.

"What? Nothing, c'mon."

"Marshall, tell me what's wrong. You're being-"

"-normal?" the raven hair tried to finish.

"… boring. You're just… You're not acting like you."

At once, the king's feet touched down and he dropped the coat to one hand, letting it touch the ground.

"So, now, I'm not being exciting enough? First you think I'm being too crazy and wild, and now you say I'm boring? Jeez, Gumball, what do you want from me?" He let go completely of the heavy garment and threw his hands up, fire flashing in his eyes.

"I want you to be you, Marshall," the prince replied as calmly as he could, standing tall in spite of the fear that jumped into his heart at the sight of the vampire's growing anger. "You're blunt and rude and, occasionally, vulgar, but you're also the most exciting, spontaneous, and romantic guy I know." The prince twisted his mouth to the side as he thought hard about what to say. "I don't want anyone but Marshall Lee, and if you think for one second that I want you to change, then you're crazy."

"Yeah, ok… but I understand. You wanna take stuff slow, not rush into it…. I get that. It's just…. Man it's frustrating." The vampire balled his fists and gnashed his teeth as his fangs grew out well past his lips. His eyes were closed, cursing more to himself than anything. With a big sigh, he dropped his hands and looked at his worried companion. "I try to be the guy you want, cause… I live differently. I... I got all the time in the world, but you. That's the thing that sucks about living forever… You get to watch everyone…. leave." As he hovered, his body bounced ever so slightly, making his hair sway softly. "People tell you to live each day like it's your last, but…" His eyes sorrowfully met Gumball's, a look that almost broke his heart. "Bubba, I just… I'm living like you're dying."

There was a long pause, and the prince looked down, thinking very deeply about how he could respond. Finally, he sighed and looked up at the vampire, pulling the scarf from around his neck and letting it fall to the floor.

"Marshall… I didn't know…" He paused, having trouble thinking of what exactly he could say to recover the conversation after a bombshell like that. "I'm not dying though… I'm youthful and healthy… I'm at my prime… It's not like I'm going to spoil in a week." The candy royal glanced up, catching a sad glint in the elder's eye, that look making Gumball's heart sink a little with a qualm.

The king sighed and picked up the scarf, draping it back over his friend's shoulders.

"Maybe not a week… but eventually. So, I'm just hanging out with you until you get bored with me, or whatever…" it was a hard thing to admit, but the vampire knew that things changed with time, and if his young love was going to mature, their fun times wouldn't last.

"Hey," the prince murmured taking a hold of his scarf and pulling it off again, perhaps simply to spite the downtrodden notions Marshall was wrapping around him. "What makes you so sure I'm going to get bored of you?" Trying to smile in the face of his suddenly rather gloomy friend, the pink teen reached out and touched the nightwalker's face, gently inclining the chin of the somber king. "I'm not sure you realize just how much I like you, Marsh."

"Well yeah, right now. But hey, gotta have fun while it lasts. So you still want to go skating and junk?" The bassist tried to avert the gloom and doom, not liking the heavy feeling of impending fate.

"Not if your head's not into it," the prince retorted, folding his arms across his middle, "you'll be preoccupied by this the whole time and have no fun, and one-sided relationships never flourish." Gumball twisted his lips to the side, thinking how his lover was essentially self-sabotaging with his defeatist perspective. More so the younger royal contemplated how he could lift the notion from his lover's mind, at least for now. "Come on Marshall, you're not this pessimistic all the time. Why is this so sudden?"

"Whatever, I'm just… Look, there's just….uh." He placed a hand over his face and pulled at his cheek. "Just… stuff."

"You're just stuff?"

"Shut up. I just don't feel like going out, ok? Sorry you had to come all the way out here." Grumbling while gliding towards his kitchen, he looked over Gumball. "I'll call Pep to get you a ride back."

"Wait!" called the candy teen after his friend as the elder slipped into the kitchen, "Marshall hold on. You can't just walk away from this; talk to me, let me help you out." Quickly following the vampire around the corner, Gumball found his lover, phone in hand, midway through dialing the palace. In a last ditch effort, the prince quickly poked the octopus phone, hanging it up mid-dial, hoping it would at the very least attract the nightwalker's attention. "Can we talk?"

"Talk about what? We're cool." Marshall Lee shrugged. "I mean, you wanna go out and I don't, and I really don't wanna make a big deal about it. But then you're up in my face about it, so I figured you'd go home before I say something stupid." The vampire king sat himself up on the counter, placing the little creature phone back on the wall. "If you wanna stay and hang, it's whatever."

"Of course I want to stay and hang," protested the younger teen, his brow furrowing in a disconcerted manner. "You've been gone for a whole month, you only got back three days ago and you've been in the hospital the whole time. Marshall, I've been worried sick about you and then you finally come back and you don't feel like doing anything with me. Pardon my thinking so, but it feels like you're avoiding me all of a sudden." Gumball sighed and leaned his back against the refrigerator, closing his eyes solemnly. "I can't help feeling like it's something I did… and you're angry with me… Talk to me Marshall… tell me how to fix this… this… funk you're in."

"Dude, I'm not in a 'funk'… I know you think I'm some crazy psycho all the time, but even party bears crash every once in a while. I was just gonna chill and maybe record or watch something… or maybe sleep for three days. Plus, don't you have junk to do? Bills to pass, beakers to clean, a maid to be bossed by?" The kettle was still on the stove, the water still piping hot, so reaching into his cabinet the red-drinker pulled out his own mug and a packet of "Fruit Slap" powder for drinking.

"I'm sorry… I guess I just thought that after a month of being apart you'd want to hang out, but I guess if you'd rather hang out with your mixer and bass that's fine…" Gumball leaned forward off of the refrigerator, shrugging in a rather aloof and slightly put-off manner. "I mean, I guess you can get closer to your music that way… just thought you'd be a little more interested in getting close to your lover."

The sound of the last word lingered between them as Marshall Lee poured the pink powder into his cup of water, letting it dissolve into a bright red broth before taking a sip. He concentrated on his drink, picking out his words in his head to avoid flying off the handle.

"Mmm… so now you can say it? It's not so 'distasteful' to admit now?"

"What?" Gumball asked in a smooth, even tone, tucking his hands in his pockets to appear more off-hand than he truly felt. "That I'm your lover and you're mine? It's only true… it's just a little more difficult to say when there are people around and I'm trying so hard to keep you my little secret." The younger teen lowered his eyes and looked over his shoulder at Marshall, fighting off the urge to smirk.

The vampire nearly choked on his sip when a smoldering glace beckoned for him. His little sweet prince was now a seducer, calling him out.

"Hmm, well… I'm still pretty tired. I only slept like five hours the whole month, so…" the deathless teen fibbed, having a warning feeling in the back of his mind. Something he was forgetting told him this wasn't the best time…

"I can always help you relax," the gummy teen offered casually, subtly looking over his shoulder to see what Marshall thought, and he could tell that his language was affecting the elder. "You'd be surprised how well you can sleep after a good back-rub… no more stiff muscles… I bet you're still really tense from 'The Call'… I can tell by the way you slouch."

Oh, how that was true. With his intense workouts and vast battles, his muscles were still on full alert, hardening against attack. But with the obvious seduction in the younger royal's tone, the stiffness wasn't fleeing anytime soon.

Still Gumball was playing it coy, even as he nonchalantly pulled his mauve sweater off over his head.

"You don't mind if I shed a layer, do you? It's a little warm in here to be wearing wool."

"Nah, go ahead." The vampire looked over the crispness of the button up and momentarily fantasized about ripping it apart. But the thought passed as the sweater was throw to the side, an act not common for such a regal gent like Gumball.

"Is there still enough hot water for another cup of tea?" Now the younger royal took a few paces towards Marshall and the stove, his gait having transmogrified from a stiff, erect step to a prowl, his hips swaying just a bit. A strange, new breed of confidence was bright and clear in the candy majesty's lavender eyes, but just as it looked like he would boldly advance on the vampire, he turned. Gumball looked away, now facing the burner holding the kettle. His eyes searched the kitchen for a potholder so he could avoid burning his hands on the hot teakettle, settling for an oven mitt hanging from one of the overhead cabinet handles. "Looks like there's just enough left."

"Great. So why don't you go get your cup and I'll get another bag," Marshall Lee fidgeted, smiling awkwardly as he took the last gulps of his potent, fruity concoction. The mix's taste was bitter and almost punched him in the mouth, but the color coated his throat and further distracted his mind from a nagging feeling he had.

"Alright, back in a second," Gumball replied in a quiet, low voice; when he spoke like that it didn't matter what he was saying, it all sounded dark and alluring. He leaned in and quickly stole a peck from his friend's cheek, turning on his heel and sauntering out of the room to fetch his empty mug from the living room. As the younger teen slipped out, Marshall Lee swallowed, trying to figure out what it was that was making him so reluctant all of a sudden; all of these strong signals and still he was resisting. What was it that made Gumball act like this all of a sudden? What was it that kept the vampire held back?

Even being healed up, the massive damage to his chest still burned and itched from time to time, so quickly the monster king scratched his collarbone and pectoral. His fingers slowed to a crawl and he looked down to his dingy tank top, clutching it with a jump. Instantly his eyes flashed up to make sure his prince hadn't seen and hastily composed himself, hoping down from the counter to lean casually against it. With a worry on his mind, the vampire recalculated his actions, keeping his intentions secret from the prince. There would be no funny business today, not with that around…

Marshall Lee's head turned back towards the door as he heard the candy royal's footsteps fast approaching and finally the younger teen appeared around the corner, cup in hand. It seemed that while he was gone, Gumball's smirk had actually grown, not in size but in impact; his lips turned up just slightly at the corners making him look all the more confident and poised. A bit too quickly the vampire stepped aside as his friend approached the counter, making room for the prince to pour the water.

"Did you grab a packet for me?" the younger asked, glancing up as he put on the oven mitt and lifted the teakettle off the burner.

"Huh? Oh, uh, yeah no. Hang on." He lifted himself up and fished out a teabag, trying to drop it into the prince's hands, but too fast the younger male reached up and placed his palm around his fist, holding it there.

With a bit of a jerk, the candy teen pulled the vampire down, like tugging on the string of a balloon and reeling it back down to earth. With that same burning smirk, the prince drew his lover in until their noses nearly touched. The nightwalker swallowed hard, finding himself unsure of what to do and at a loss for what to say while faced with that victorious glimmer in Gumball's eyes.

"Thank you love," came the sweet majesty's whisper as he pulled a bit more, closing that little gap between them and pressing Marshall Lee's lips to his own.

The vampire stopped breathing through their oral exchanged, not able to help himself but place a eager hand on the back of Prince Gumball's soft head of hair. Slowly his feet rose up behind him, making him lay out in air, and as he straightened out, something rattled underneath his shirt. He moaned into their kiss, hoping his agreement to a make-out would mask the noise and keep his little secret. By now he wished he had planned for a visit ahead of time, not liking this feeling of scrambling to keep a secret hidden.

Hovever, his sugary friend had other plans; where Marshall Lee expected to be dragged into a passionate flurry of lips and tongues, he found his lovers mouth still closed, kissing him chastely. The kiss, though innocent was still brash and forceful, just not quite as deep as had been foreseen. That wasn't to say the elder couldn't feel the eagerness in Gumball's movements; the prince was only taking his time reveling in the slow burn. Gradually things shifted, and soft, sweet arms wrapped around the vampire's shoulders, trying to bring him back down to stand instead of levitating. Marshall Lee could feel the other's heart rate slowly rising, and he could sense how the candy heir's arms wanted to wrap around his waist, but everything about that was a terrible idea. This needed to stop before it got too out of hand.

Picking his feet up more, the vampire tried again to sneak out from Gumball's grasp. But with his upper body held on place by grabby arms, his spine bent awkwardly and made his back hurt. Trying to straighten out, his chest bowed further down, and again his hidden secret jangled under his tank, and he quickly clutched it to silence it.

Inquisitively, the prince leaned back, separating their lips and looking down, not liking the way Marshall Lee seized his chest. Pink brows furrowed as the younger teen leaned in a little closer, his palm finding the back of the deathless male's hand, trying to feel whatever it was.

"Marsh…" the candy royal murmured with anxious worry in his voice, "are you hurt? What's the matter?" Bubblegum fingers slipped between blue, and Gumball suddenly felt something very cold through the fabric of the vampire's shirt, as if the king had an icicle in his chest.

Jumping back, Marshall Lee curtly pushed the other's hands way, floating back towards his room.

"Nothing! I mean, yeah- I think my chest hurts. Oh man, I think I'm gonna take a nap and sleep it off. Maybe you should come back-"

"Well let me see," Gumball continued to worry, keeping up with the vampire as he tried to retreat. "Maybe I can help…"

"NO! Just quit it, Gum."

"Oh stop being a baby and let me see."

"Cut it out!"

"Let me see right now, Marshall Lee," the prince growled, beginning to lose patience with the vampire's dodging, "if it's hurting it might be infected, and I wouldn't be surprised after you same back with a stake in your ribs." The pink teen snatched at his friend, grabbing the bottom of the sleeveless shirt as the elder twisted in the air and tried to retreat back into the living room. Yanking on the fabric, the candy heir tried to drag Marshall Lee back towards him for a thorough inspection, but the king whirled around and left Gumball holding nothing but his shirt.

Trying to cover his chest, the silver chain still shown against pale skin, the charm at its middle covered by the king's hand.

"What's that?" Gumball inquired, tossing the shirt aside to inspect. There didn't seem to be any damage to the vampire's chest, so he naturally assumed the necklace was what he was trying to hide.

"It's nothing." Marshall Lee took the charm and swung it to the back of his chain, concealing it behind him.

"Oh no you don't," Gumball moved in, backing the vampire up against the wall, "what are you hiding?" he snapped, making a grab at the necklace and missing only as the nightwalker ducked out of the way. Now the prince was in hot pursuit, his curiosity and annoyance both piqued in unison and piled on top of his earlier frustration with his subtle advances being ignored. He wasn't in any mood to let the vampire hide secrets from him and as Marshall Lee nearly slipped from his grasp, the candy royal got a hold of the vampire's shoulders.

The bassist's had been descending, hoping to slip out between the prince's legs, but the grab to his body only pulled down Gumball and made him fall, pinning the fleeing creature beneath. Marshall Lee wriggled and fought for freedom, but his arms were trapped at his sides under the candy teen's legs.

Finally gaining the upper hand, the younger teen wasted no time in getting his fingers in the chain around the night walker's neck, pulling the silver chain and charm off over the elder's head. Inquisitively, Gumball picked up the little adornment, holding it between his fingers and finding it to be a tiny vial like the kind he used in his lab to hold small reference samples. The tiny bottle itself was so cold his touch made the glass fog on the outside, as if it was filled with ice that refused to melt. He pondered the ornament for a moment, thinking what magic could be keeping the contents so cold, but no… this couldn't be magic. There was only one substance the prince knew of that would stay cold when kept bottled up, but he could hardly believe that Marshall would have it in his possession.

"Marshall… what's in this bottle?"

They both looked to the little vial before Marshall quickly snatched it up, scooting back from underneath Gumball. He tried to stuff it into his pocket, but the prince was hot on him, yanking it back out. It took the vampire flying into the corner of the ceiling for the struggle to cease. Clutching it in his cold hand, Marshall Lee struggled to think of an explanation. Over the last month he hadn't had the time to remember the tiny trinket on his neck, the powerful aphrodisiac that he had concocted all those days ago. He had kept secretly on his person so that an accidental discovery would not happen.

With his arms folded, Gumball stood back, still as a statue as if he was processing too much information to move. There was no doubt in his mind that the potion around the king's neck was bremelanotide, the chemical they had accidentally produced in his lab well before they'd even begun dating… but it wasn't well before Marshall Lee would have known the "Call to the Crown" was approaching. He pondered silently, letting his gaze fall to the floor while the vampire still clung, panic-stricken, to the ceiling. Why would Marshall Lee keep something like an aphrodisiac around? Something that potent couldn't just be a trophy… no… the red-drinker had to have some use for it… and who was there for the chemical to be used on? Gumball swallowed a lump of complex and terrible emotions that rose in his throat.

With this new discovery, the prince's highly logical and scientific mind spiraled into a flurry of character and cost-benefit analysis. He had to re-evaluate everything that had happened since the concoction had been accidentally brewed. If Marshall Lee had a malevolent purpose for the drug, it was clear that the prince would be his target because they had barely spent two days apart up until the vampire's leaving. And then there was the magic ring that still pulsed on Gumball's finger; it had the power to protect the king if worn by someone who cared for him. It was not such a long-shot to say then that the bremelanotide had been used to earn the candy teen's love and to seduce him enough to power the ring and provide Marshall Lee with his much needed shield.

"Marshall…" came the prince's whisper after a long moment of silence, "how could you?"

The hurt look on Gumball's face was enough to break Marshall's heart, and slowly the creature fell until he slumped on the floor. He sat up and gradually crawled over to his friend's feet, knowing he was in trouble. As he slunk over, his body melted and oozed along the floor, trying to appease the candy teen.

"GumGum, it's not what it- ok, can't say that. It's been used too much." Marshall Lee the Vampire King thought and grumbled at his lack of words. "Man, it's not like that! I wasn't gonna use it or anything. It was a stupid idea, but it wasn't bad. I just… it was the first thing we made, so I kept it. Don't be mad, ok?"

"Save it, Marshall," the prince muttered, sighing dejectedly and turning his back on the vampire, deciding he'd better gather his clothes and get out of there before the king of monsters could drug his tea. "You know I'm starting to think Peppermint Maid was right... about you I mean." Picking up his sweater and pulling it over his shoulders the prince began to pull it on in silence, listening for what new lies his so-called friend would come up with to save his own hide.

"What? Wait, don't go." Standing up from his puddle form he rushed around to face the younger royal, blocking his way. "Hey wait, can't we talk about it? Weren't you the one who wanted to talk" But Gumball walked curtly around him and fetched his coat, pulling it on over his lavender pullover. But before he could button it up, the vampire swooped in and snatched it, holding it ransom. "That's not fair! Talk to me, GumGum."

"Well, wouldn't that be a bit of a one-sided conversation? How can I take anything you say at face value?" Slowly the candy prince hung his head and shook it sadly. "I'll admit this was an elaborate hoax, Marshall, but for someone who's had 349 years of practice I'd expect no less." Marshall Lee opened his mouth to protest, but he was quickly cut off as Gumball spoke over him. "The only thing I'd like to know before I get out of here is how many people before me did you manipulate into wearing this?" Working quickly the pink teen pulled the beautiful silver and ruby ring from his finger, passing it back to the vampire coldly.

The king raised a finger and opened his mouth, but then dropped it and shrugged.

"Ok, you lost me. What are you talking about?"

"Don't act stupid, Marshall Lee. Taking the vial, you made me fall in love with you so that I could protect you during 'The Call'. It's pretty obvious, Mr. Vampire King." He narrowed his eyes and forced the jewelry into his friend's hands, wondering if he could even be addressed as such anymore.

There was a pause that dropped the temperature of the already frigid air another few degrees. Marshall Lee at first couldn't feel anything, and at once he didn't know whether to laugh hysterically or bawl. It was tragically sad that the young prince thought the vampire was made of pure evil, but there was a twinge of humor with the notion of such an elaborate scheme. So, doing his best to keep himself together, the dark creature knelt at Gumball's feet and took his time to compose, finally looking up with a clear face.

"Gumball…. You are off your nut, man."

"Excuse me?" the pink teen growled back.

"Dude… I've never even opened that thing since I got it… Ok, maybe that one time, but that was to try it out on myself, and that's why I haven't used it since. That stuff is scary good." He coughed to get back to the matter. "Gumball… I could never think of ever doing something like that to you, and I promise on my ever-living soul that I love you and would never do something that evil to you, or anyone else for that matter. Now, please stay and talk to me?"

In the wake of more groveling from the vampire, the candy teen remained cold and stoic, not budging an inch. Gumball seemed graver than the elder had ever seen him, and considering the prince was always uptight, that was both impressive and frightening.

"You still haven't answered my question," the younger finally murmured, holding out his hand again, the ring he'd been given by Marshall in his palm. "How many before me?" Gulping nervously, the king tried to look into Gumball's violet eyes in hopes of seeing anything soft and kind, but no luck; even the gummy royal's eyes were stormy and cold.

"How many what? 'People have I manipulated?' None! I've never made anybody do anything they didn't want to. I'm not… a … monster, Gum. Not that kind anyway. But if you wanna know how many people have worn the ring….It's three. There have been three people other than you or me who have worn it: my mom, Ice Queen… and Fionna."

"And I'm supposed to just take your word? Marshall, I don't know what to believe anymore. My heart wants to believe you… Maybe if I was wistful like Fionna, that would be enough, but I'm not quite so naïve. My heart wants to take all you say as the truth, but my mind says not to take the bait a second time lest there be another hook attached." Gumball shrugged and let his breathing come in slowly and calmly. "I guess it makes sense why you would choose me; you always did like to watch me squirm."

"Now, hang on, it's not like that! That was for fun, but I never wanted you actually unhappy. It just… annoyed you. I didn't mean to hurt you. What do you want from me? If you have a truth potion, give it to me! Come on, don't make me beg." Slowly, the knees of the vampire began to bubble and melt into the floor again; his unprotected heart feeling like it was crumbling inside him and rotting away.

"If they weren't considered a form of torture, I'd gladly administer barbiturates to you if only to hear something believable." Marshall Lee deflated, liquefying a little more as the younger teen closed his eyes and shook his head disapprovingly. "I just don't know what to believe, and when I don't know what to believe, the only safe bet is to not believe anything. You're going to have to produce some solid proof if you expect me to trust anything you've got to say."

"What do you want! Tell me and I'll get it. You want witnesses? I'll drag them all here, even my mom. They'll all tell you how I gave it to them- except Ice Queen, who stole it thinking it was a wedding ring- without any tricks! I swear! Test your body for the stuff! It's not there, 'cause I didn't use it! Please… I'm pleading here, and I don't do pleading. What do you want?" The vampire was all but a puddle of goop on the ground, boiling and steaming pathetically as he broke to pieces. "I... I don't want you to go. I know I said I did, but now… If I did wrong and you hate me, I'm sorry, but don't hate me for something I didn't do."

Gumball sighed at the pitiful mess around his shoes, hating to see the normally proud king in such a state. He raised his foot so that the spreading gloop wouldn't touch him, but with a single step back he sighed dejectedly.

"Get up, Marshall - this is just sad."

"Then tell me!" The puddle garbled, "What do you want?"

Pinching the bridge of his nose with his fingers, Gumball frowned.

"Royal promise."

Suddenly the glob slurped back together and rose from the floor, forming back into Marshall Lee the King of Monsters.

"Dude… I think you have a problem. They have counselors for that if you want-"

"Just do it!" Gumball barked, balling his fists. "If you don't want me to walk out that door and never come back, you'll royal promise!"

The vampire cringed back, actually frightened by the burst of anger. He shrunk slightly into himself, becoming his small bat form with his tiny paws still clutching the vial and his ring.

"Bubba… I royal promise I've never used this on anyone but me, and I didn't plot anything against you to make you fall in love with me. And I love you."

Holding his breath Gumball stood back and waited for the universe to freeze and for retribution and fire to come crashing down on the vampire, but as he counted the moments, there was nothing. Every second that passed made the prince's heart sink lower in his chest as the error of his misguided anger began to soak in. Guilt hit the sugary royal like a ton of bricks, making his stomach churn and his legs wobble unsteadily. Before he could fall, the prince had to crouch, eventually easing himself to sit on the ground staring absently at the little bat not a foot away. It was incomprehensible: the plot had been so well thought out; what other answer could there be?

As the younger sat dismally against the base of the hard furniture, the small bat floated down and walked over to his lap, climbing into it. There the black animal lay out and hugged his knee, kissing the cap tenderly before migrating closer to him. With his tiny face and heart nose pressed against the prince's stomach, his little arms came out to hug him.

"W-why would you think I would do something evil like that? I'm not evil, just spooky, remember?" His bright green bat eyes stared up at him, blinking innocently. "I don't tell people I love them for fun. I mean it."

"Well… it was all so fast and confusing," Gumball sighed, holding his head with one hand. "I… I thought there had to be something more than just-" The Candy Kingdom leader stopped as he felt Marshall shift against him, and watching him he saw the creature morph again into his birth form, equal to his size there sitting in his lap. "I just thought that the only reason you made me wear it was because you had tricked me into loving you. Not that it was all coincident."

The red-drinker frowned and fluffed his lover's hair, not wanting to get angry.

"The reason I made you wear it was because I didn't want to die… I wanted to see you again after I had to go, so I didn't want to die. And I had to leave right then so I couldn't explain it right… plus I thought if I did, you'd think I was pulling a joke and you wouldn't love me anymore. Then I would have gone and died of a broken heart… and a bunch of things stabbing me." He smiled and kissed the other's forehead, only to see that there were tears collecting in the corners of his damp, violet eyes.

"I… I see it now," Gumball stammered, trying not to lose it. "The answer was so s-simple, I was t-too smart to see it."

Marshall Lee snorted and pulled the prince's head against his cold chest, stroking the back of his head.

"You are the dumbest smart person I know, Gumball."

Still, the prince buried his face in Marshall's chest, trying his best to keep a stiff upper lip, not that the elder would have blamed him if he sniffled a little.

"I'm so sorry, Marshall… I just couldn't think wh-why you would want to hold onto something s-so dangerous if you weren't going to use it." Letting himself lean his weight against the elder, Gumball sniffed again and nosed his lover's collarbone. "I'm so sorry… I really am… Glob, you must think so little of me now…"

"Nah… you're a smarty, so you had to think of a big, complex reason." The vampire king smiled and kissed the crown of his head, moving his royal crown slightly to the left. "I'm just the spook who likes fun and lives life simple. Easy peasy, Parcheesi." He stopped for a moment and looked about the room. Quietly, he whispered pinochle thrice, and a shrill whine came from a mouse hole near the back door. He snapped his fingers and hissed "Sickum", and his hound instantly growled demonically and went after the creature scurrying out of the hole, screaming for dear life. Gumball had sat up at the sound of the shriek, and Marshall Lee shrugged. "Told you."

"What in the name of salt-water-taffy was that thing?" Gumball exclaimed barely realizing it as he clung to the vampire king for protection. "I thought those things weren't allowed to mess with you after 'The Call'." The prince's chin tilted upwards as Marshall Lee placed a reassuring hand on his back, and their eyes met for what felt like the first time that day.

"They can come out after dark, remember? And she wasn't messin'. She was spying. Probably gonna report back to her brother if zombie pup doesn't get her." But he smiled warmly, rubbing his palm against the young man's warm cheek. "Don't worry. You're safe here."

With a soft, reassured sigh, the younger let his arms wrap a little more tightly around Marshall's torso, letting his eyes close for a moment and resting his chin on the undead teen's shoulder. He took his time allowing the moment to sink in, enjoying the safety he felt in his lover's arms and drinking in the elder's musk, catching the faintest lingering wisp of strawberries. Gumball's nose finally brushed against the pale blue skin of his lover's neck, and his lips were soon to follow, kissing lightly at the cool flesh.

"Forgive me," he murmured in a low voice before kissing again and dropping his voice down to a whisper, "… Marshall."

The breath of the deathless king was cut off and a minute wheeze came out instead. Marshall Lee inhaled through his nose and clenched on Gumball's clothes, fighting his urges to pounce. Slowly he withdrew from the reach of the sugar lips of his friend, making the pink teen whine quietly.

"What's... what's wrong? Are you still mad at me?"

"No, PG… I just," the king sighed, averting his eyes, "I don' t wanna rush it. I know you're still… not comfortable with this junk yet."

The prince nodded, and Marshall wasn't sure how to interpret that particular gesture, so instead he sat back quietly and waited for Gumball to respond.

"You're right," the younger male murmured, never taking his eyes from the vampire's, "This is a big deal, and probably something that will take a long time to get completely used to." There was a quiet sigh as the gummy royal leaned in until their foreheads pressed together. "At the same time though, it's not completely new anymore either. I know now what to expect…" Tilting, Marshall Lee's head slightly the candy prince quickly stole a kiss from his lover's lips. "Why don't you let me decide what my pace is?"

Humming into the pressing lips, the elder smiled and leaned back onto his hands, letting his close friend press against him. His rubies were brilliant through the slits of his eyes, and he couldn't help but nibble in his own lip.

"I'll try to control myself, but I think I can manage." Just like their dance, it was Gumball's turn to lead.

The prince smiled and leaned in for another quick kiss; it was like those burning eyes were drawing him in. Their lips only met for a moment before the younger drew back and combed his fingers through the sleek raven tresses on the side of Marshall Lee's head, tucking them neatly behind the vampire's pointed ear. He sighed, taking a moment to admire the king's sharp features before he leaned in, making a distinct effort to try and be seductive in spite of his moral upbringing.

"Let's move someplace more comfortable," he murmured in a hush tone, his lips nearly touching the deathless teen's ear.
Chapter eleven will NOT be posted on Deviant Art at all... unless you can convince me to post the little snippet at the end that is PG13...
We re-wrote a LOT of this chapter, so it's almost like a whole new chapter. I hope you kids love the new version and it doesn't feel quite so forced...

Anyway, hope you enjoy this installment. More to come soon I hope.

As I said before, Chapter 11 (when it is released) will NOT be avalable on Deviant Art, but instead will only be uploaded to and Y-Gallery. I will make an announcement when the chapter has been released.

Many thinks to ~pirate-o-night-mif and ~y-Fangirl for contributing, and thanks to all the people who watched me paint the preview image.

Chapter 9: [link]
Chapter 12: [link]

Large version of Chapter 10 preview image: [link]
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TheStateOfKentucky Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
May I have the link to chapter 11? I am over 18.
PineappleSwag Featured By Owner Nov 29, 2013
Hey can i get the link for Ch 11? im 20
PineappleSwag Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2013
Please and thank you <33 D:
Can I have the link for 11 please I am 21.
Stelera Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I am no longer providing links to the story on
MarshallLees Featured By Owner Aug 24, 2013
I would also love a link for this chapter also.
Thank you.
Stelera Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
liveXloveXboys Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2013  Hobbyist Artist
can I have the link for 11 please :D im over 18
Stelera Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
GoJackFrost Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2013
can i have the link for ch. 11 please, i'm 19
Stelera Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Evil-WitchDoctor Featured By Owner Aug 4, 2013  Hobbyist
I am over 18, can I have the link for ch. 6 and 11?
Stelera Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
link sent 
lizzyrk Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2013
can I get the link for ch.11 im over 18
Stelera Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Souleater-Alchemist Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2013  Student General Artist
Link for ch.11 😁 I'm over 18
Stelera Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
link sent
ImportedLove Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2013
Links for 6 and 11? I'm over 18~
Stelera Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
link sent
sadiescooby11 Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Links for 6 & 11? :iconbegplz: Im over 18 :3
Stelera Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
link sent
infinitywithinlimits Featured By Owner May 30, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
(Sorry for multiple comments, my comp glitches.)
infinitywithinlimits Featured By Owner May 30, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Link to ch. 11? My age is a secret, but I'm over 18.
Stelera Featured By Owner May 31, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
link sent
facepunch1997 Featured By Owner May 19, 2013  Hobbyist
Can I have the link? Over 18
Stelera Featured By Owner May 19, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
link sent
facepunch1997 Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2013  Hobbyist
Could you resend it? Thanks :3
Stelera Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
TheKidd3000 Featured By Owner Apr 2, 2013  Student General Artist
The link please? Over eighteen.
Stelera Featured By Owner Apr 2, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
link sent
CiBlue Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2013
Can I have the link Im 18
Stelera Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
link sent.
shawnee1127 Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2013
can I have chapter 11, I am 18
Stelera Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
link sent, sorry for the wait.
shawnee1127 Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2013
can I have the link? im 18
marcelinetherocker Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2013
Could I have the link for chapter 6 & 11? I'm 18 :3 oh and I absolutely love your story!
Stelera Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
link sent
KatzRule13 Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2013  Hobbyist Artist
I must have the link! And to notify, I am over the age of 18. :)
Stelera Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
link sent
ajm101 Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Can I have the links for 6 and 11? I'm 19 :)
Stelera Featured By Owner Feb 27, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
link sent
Starscreamfangirl Featured By Owner Feb 25, 2013
Hi, I'm over 18 and I was hoping you could send me a link to chapter 11.
Stelera Featured By Owner Feb 27, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
link sent
hawksis Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
May I have the link for CHapter 6 & 11, I'm 18
Stelera Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
link sent
hawksis Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you. :D
siathedragon Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
im 18 can i have the link please C:
Stelera Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
link sent
siathedragon Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Miserymoon234 Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2013
May I please have the link to part 6 and 11 if you don't mind, i am over 18.
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