Through the bog of sleep and the dull lining of pain, the vampire king's eyes broke open. With bright light flooding his vision, he instinctively grabbed the sheet covering his torso and yanked it to his face.
Hearing a hiss of displeasure from the vampire, Gumball was immediately by his side, placing his hand reassuringly over the trembling fingers that clutched desperately at the blanket.
"Hey, calm down Marshall. You're inside."
The blue-skinned teen dared to peek over the edge of his protective sheet, finding the world around him to be bright and out of focus, but the light didn't burn his skin, so the glow must have been artificial. Reassured that it was save, Marshall attempted to sit up and get a better look at his surroundings as everything came gradually into focus, however he was stopped by a firm hand on his shoulder. The prince put a little weight on his joint to prevent the undead teen from moving. "Don't you dare try and get up," the pink boy scolded with a bit of a frown. "You're still far too weak."
Groaning, Marshall humored the prince and attempted to lie back down, but as his shoulders touched the soft bedding, the pressure of his weight against the wound sent waves of pain through his body. He hissed and pressed against the pressing hand.
"Ah, my back hurts. Lemme lie on my belly, man." The king looked pleadingly to his companion, hunched over so as to not bunch up the muscles of his back and fire up another hit of agony.
"Fine, but no more than that." Gumball scolded, approaching the cot. "If you move around too much you could reopen the wound and start bleeding again. You scared us once already, don't do it again." That being said the pink teen crouched next to his charge, rolling the injured vampire over carefully so as not to upset the places on his back where the damage he'd taken as a giant bat had transferred over to his human shape. Marshall's torso was bare aside from the blood-stained bandages around his chest. They smelled strongly of medicine. "If you want, I can have the nurse give you an injection of analgesics to dull the pain
"Nah, the pain's not that bad. Let's me know I'm still kicking. Besides, it reminds me of when I'd burn my fingers on the stove and my dad would ice it for me. Good times." Slowly he lowered himself onto his stomach, settling into the bed and hugged the pillow for support. "So how long have I been here, anyway?"
"Nearly five hours. When Cake and I arrived, everyone had already checked out except one gummy bear
" The prince looked over his shoulder and Marshall's eyes followed until they were both looking through the open door way. Just outside the alleged candy was standing around in a white lab coat, nursing a cup of coffee and being generally unproductive. Gumball pursed his lips as if he was considering saying something rude about the staff, but held it back.
"Wow, kinda overdid it, huh?" Marshall Lee smiled weakly over his shoulder, letting his cheek press into the comfy pillow. There was a thin scent of cotton candy that puffed into his nostrils as he squeezed, and it calmed his nerves. Hopefully, he'd be fully healed by the end of the night, and if not, he'd just sleep it off.
"Yeah, you did overdo it." With an exhausted sigh, the pink teen slumped in one of the visitors' chairs along the wall, closing his eyes for a moment and reopening them as he stifled a yawn. "But I'm glad you're awake. You really saved my bacon." Gumball leaned back and folded his hands behind his head comfortably, giving the other a bit of a smile as he fought off the urge to sleep now that his patient was finally awake.
"Middle of the night? It's almost six in the morning." The pink teen chuckled to himself, stretching his legs out and crossing them at his ankles comfortably. "I'm okay here," he stifled another yawn- "Somebody's gotta watch you and make sure you don't flat-line, and like heck that weirdo out there's gonna do the job." Gumball stretched his back and sighed once he'd gotten himself comfortable, closing his eyes and relaxing. "Just shout if you need something, kay?"
GumGum." The nocturnal teen waited until the prince was fast asleep before letting himself relax, knowing he was in safe company within the walls of Gumball's castle.
The gum prince awoke late in the afternoon with a horrible cramp in his neck from having slept with his neck bent at an awkward angle. He groaned and rubbed his aching muscles as he hauled himself to his feet, arching his back to stretch his stiff body and limber up again Wiping the sleep away from his eyes, Gumball glanced to the bed he'd left the vampire in to recover, finding the sheets tossed aside and the mattress cold. The pink teen frowned and searched down the halls of the infirmary, finally finding the gummy bear who had apparently been loitering in the staff lounge the entire time, mug of coffee still in paw.
"Hey, have you seen Marshall Lee around? He shouldn't be out of bed yet
"Looked fine to me. I gave him the okay to go home two hours ago" replied the caffeinated candy apathetically, seeming more concerned with the cup in his hands than anything else.
"You did what? Oh, never mind!" Gumball huffed, "I should have known you'd be incompetent as ever."
The gummy bear shrugged.
"What do you expect? We never get people down here. Candy doesn't ever get sick."
never mind," he grunted, looking around the room trying to locate the coffee pot. "Is there anymore coffee at least?" The bear sipped the last of his cup and shook his head.
"Candy doesn't ever drink coffee either." With that, the attendant left the room, leaving behind a frustrated prince. Gumball sighed and rubbed his neck again, leaving the wing to proceed to his throne room, knowing his peppermint assistant would be waiting for him.
As the day continued, the gummy prince went through his routine: signing documents, passing judgments, making new concoctions in his lab, and planning new events for the kingdom. All the while, he wondered about his missing patient, wondering where he had gone off. By suppertime he snapped out of his doting thoughts. He's like a thousand years old, he realized. He's perfectly capable of handling himself. Just wait- he'll be healed up and bothering me before I know it.
At the same time, he couldn't get over the slightest qualm that had settled in his stomach like a bite of bad candy. By the time he'd finished his final meal of the day, the prince was ready to retreat to his room and relax with a good book, then getting a nice, long night of rest. He perked up a little at the thought of cracking open his new novel, Of Marshmallows and Men. With the anticipation of a calm evening keeping a smile on his lips, Gumball made his way slowly up the long staircase to his bedchamber. The entire room was bathed in a deep purple hue with all the lights out, the only light being what bit of sunset could sneak through his tall windows.
Just outside, a sliver of shadow snaked its way through the cracks of the stone, hiding in the darkness of the crevices until it reached the top. Finding its destination, the thing peeked over the lip of a windowsill to one of the largest windows. It reached out with one long, pointed claw and tapped on the glass.
The prince jumped and let out a gasp before wheeling on the source of the noise. The figure pressed against the glass made Gumball yelp; he nearly knocked over his reading lamp as he flailed for a light. All he could see was a shadowy silhouette peering into his room, claws resting anxiously against the window and a pair of beady red ember eyes trained him from the outside. When his fingers finally found the proper button, the prince hastily turned the lamp on, flooding light into the room and illuminating the visage in the window.
As soon as the pink-skinned teen opened his window a crack, the vampire slipped in and immediately ducked to the bottom of the wall, hiding under the lip of the sill. Gumball looked down at him curiously. "What are you doing down there?"
The king only peeked over the opening, rubbing the back of his steaming head.
"Is it gone yet?" Prince Gumball looked out and watched the last edge of the sun fall past the horizon, only leaving its color in the sky.
"Yes, it's safe." Twisting his lips to the side, the pink male folded his arms across his chest, looking down at Marshall as he leaned back against the wall and sat for a moment, appearing exhausted from sneaking through the shadows. When the undead teen caught Gumball's stern eyes, he gave the prince a sheepish smile, letting his top fangs show from under his lip. "What are you even doing here Marshall? I though you must have been in a hurry the way you slipped out of the infirmary."
"Well, you did promise you'd hang out one night when you weren't passed out. And you don't look passed out to me! So, what do you say? Wanna get out of here?"
With an indecisive sigh, the pink boy looked over his shoulder at his plush bed and comfortable pajamas, the book on his nightstand just begging him to be read.
I don't know Marshall
" he scratched the back of his neck indecisively, glancing longingly at his soft bed, "it's late and I'm in the middle of a good story-"
"Oh, don't be such a weenie!" The vampire interrupted, rising to his feet before levitating, making himself even taller than the other. "Afraid of a little night-life? You and I both know aside from Ice Witch that I'm the scariest thing that creeps in the night. Come hang, princey!"
" Marshall rolled his eyes, giving the prince a gentle slug to the shoulder to rush him. "Ow! Fine, I'll hang, you happy?"
"Extremely. Now, let's get out of here!" Quickly, he flew out the window and did a little flip, waiting until Prince Gumball leaned out his window.
"So, I shall meet you at the gate then?" the younger man inquired, but before he got his answer, a pair of hands grabbed onto his arms and yanked him out the open window. He yelped until his face smashes against the undead teen's chest, and setting up he couldn't help but blush. Having yanked him out face first, Marshall Lee floated with his back to the ground and the prince sitting rather uncomfortably on his lap with his face in his torso. The king snickered until Gumball sat up, struggling to remain poised and calm plastered over his pink face.
letting me sit someplace else?" The prince looked away, searching the grounds below to make sure that none of his subjects could see like this. "This isn't exactly comfortable." Still, the pink male refused to meet eyes with his companion, finding the whole situation all too awkward. He puffed out his cheeks slightly in discomfort.
"Hang on, and don't freak out." The vampire did a similar trick as he had the day before, swooping down quickly, tossing the prince, and catching the regal teen on his back. Gumball grabbed onto his shoulders, propping himself up to not lean on the king's back. Not knowing what condition he was in, the bubblegum teen took precautions to not harm the vampire that currently held him up from his death.
"Don't worry. I'm all healed up. Your science and stuff really helped out." Marshall replied like he was reading Gumball's thoughts. "Don't be scared, you can't hurt me."
"Oh I'm sure I could if I had to" Gumball retorted, not taking too kindly to being shown up by the undead teen with the clear strength and ability advantage. Trying to force himself out of his less-than-agreeable mood, the younger man looked around as the world drifted past lazily. Being carried piggyback was nothing like riding across the sky on Lord Monochromicorn's back; it was as if he was close enough to reach out and touch the treetops.
As the pair flew off into the night, the undead king was racking his brain for something fun to do that wouldn't end in the prince being injured or traumatized for life. Normally he enjoyed that sort of thing, but with no one else of interest to hang with, he figured he shouldn't break his new friend so quickly. Prince Gumball wasn't as adventurous as the spunky Fionna, so he'd have to tone it down a few notches. Before the sky went dark, they were inside the Gumdrop forest again, whizzing past trees. Gumball was silent until they landed, and with a finger to his lips, Marshall led him towards a stream. There, a hoard of raccoons were performing some task on the banks. Watching the spectacle, the boys saw each creature left the stream to pick at any vegetation, whether the leaves or bark of the sugar trees, the gummy mushrooms or even the grasses beneath their feet, and took it back to the banks. There they sat dipping the plants into the running water and scrubbing at it, trying to instinctively rid them of dirt but only managed to wash it all away. So with empty hands the raccoons would leave only to repeat the process over.
"What are they doing?" the curious prince whispered as he peered around one of the gumdrop trees. His naiveté made the other boy smirk and put a hand on his shoulder.
"They're trying to wash their food, but they're too stupid to realize that sugar dissolves in water."
"Those poor creatures. They'll starve like that
Someone's got to teach them."
"Wait! Gumball!" the vampire hissed after his companion, but it was too late. The prince had already emerged from his hiding place and was greeting the wild animals with open arms.
"Greetings, raccoons. I see you may be in need of some assistance. Your food keeps washing away in the river. I think I can help solve your-"
But at the presence of a stranger, the sweet creatures with their innocent tasks turned into vicious animals, bearing their fangs and swiping their claws in his direction. He cringed, hoping that if he didn't advance they wouldn't attack. As the angry raccoons took their first steps towards him, the bubblegum teen looked back to ask for the vampire's help, but found himself alone. The prince gulped and took his own step back, contemplating how he'd ever outrun so many of them.
But, suddenly, he heard the strum of a low bass guitar and everything froze; the animals relaxed, looking around for the source. Off in the back of the group stood Marshall Lee, his axe slung across his chest with his fingers trained to the strings. After he plucked a few more notes, the masked critters changed their tune, becoming docile and excited by the new noise. Smiling to himself, the young king began to play a simple song, and before Gumball realized what had happened, the creatures began dancing, taking each other's hands and hopping in a circle like a children.
It wasn't long before one of the giddy animals left without a dance partner reached up and took a hold of the prince's hand, pulling insistently and whimpering. Chuckling at the creature's sudden cuteness, Gumball accepted the dance, joining the group of raccoons in frolicking to the tune of the vampire's low base. The creatures squealed with delight as one of their own dragged the candy royalty around by the riverbank, leading him a skip this way and a hop that way.
The vampire smiled as the dance continued, and as smoothly as he could, he bled the end of his song to the start of a new one, not wanting the happy party to end quite so soon. Quietly, he hummed along, at this point making up a tune just to watch his friend smile and relax in his company for once. He liked that smile. It was carefree and so alien to the prince's regal face. Marshall let the song play out until he hit is final notes and gave a low bow. The group of giddy animals and the prince applauded graciously.
Taking the paw of his dance partner, the prince bowed humbly for the creature before releasing the tiny hand and approaching the undead bassist.
"You really are a bag of tricks, Marshall Lee. How did you know they liked music so much?" Gumball folded his arms across his gut and gave the vampire a strange smile, crooking his brow.
Looking down the neck of his ax, Marshall strummed twice as he twisted the knobs to tune it just so.
"Like I said before, I've been around. I think I discovered these little guys a month or so ago." The vampire smirked and leaned his shoulder casually against the trunk of a gumdrop tree to watch the spectacle. "The washing of the sugar is a sacred tradition with their family and isn't to be disturbed. They don't mind if people watch, but you have to let them do their thing. But they really like music, found that out about the same way you did." Finding the right pitch he smiled a toothy grin and glanced at Gumball. "But that's why the river is so sweet. Normal running water can't create this much sugar water. The humming birds love it." At that statement, he gestured to the banks, spotting a pair of fluttering birds sipping at the syrupy stream.
His smile growing, Prince Gumball crouched beside the stream and dipped his fingers into the sweet water, bringing a handful to his mouth and tasting it. At the source of the sugary input the liquid really was sweeter, and the pink teen couldn't help but smile as his activity by the bank caught the attention of the tiny humming birds. One fluttered over to his palm and sipped the nectar straight from his cupped palm while the other buzzed in his ear, mistaking it for a flower. As the little bird licked at his ear, the tiny tongue struck a ticklish nerve, making Gumball fall to his side and laughed aloud.
The other male clicked his tongue at the action, flipping his bass to his back and stuffing his hands into his pockets. He looked up into the trees in search of the moon while the prince finished his roll on the ground. He had wanted the prince to lighten up, but this was almost embarrassing.
When finally he had to swat away the insistent little bird, the prince sat up with a bashful smile, knowing he'd nearly made a fool of himself yet again. He smoothed his hair down and adjusted the crown to make sure it was centered before rising to his feet and brushing off his royal clothing. He chuckled anxiously, trying to save face after he'd been brought to his knees by a humming bird in his ear.
what's next then?"
"Well if you're done playing with these woodland creatures, I wanna show you something else."
"Alright" he tilted his head slightly, giving the undead teen an inquisitive look, "what is it?"
The shape-shifter didn't reveal their next destination, only nodding for the prince to follow him. For the sake of dragging out their time together, Marshall Lee actually chose to walk on his feet, letting his sneakers crunch the sugar grass of the forest. Waiting for time rather than a location they kept walking until something fluttered in the air. The king chuckled and turned to his companion, lifting them both off their feet and into a tall tree. Placing him down on a fat limb the vampire crouched on the branch, looking straight at Prince Gumball.
"Ok, now this time, don't do anything. Just watch and stay quiet. You'll scare them off if you're loud."
Gumball nodded and mimed zipping his mouth closed. The sound of beating wings grew steadily closer until a tiny white creature flew in between Gumball and Marshall, arcing upwards in its flight towards higher, sugar bearing branches. The little bat found a limb heavy with gumdrops and clung to it with its tiny hooked thumbs, nibbling on the fruit with the tiniest of munching sounds. The prince had to purse his lips to keep from saying something. The infant sugar bat was so near he could have reached out and touched it.
With fluid, unnerved movements, Marshall pointed a claw at the fat yellow gumdrop that the tiny creature nibbled on and suddenly stabbed it, fitting the drop glob on top his middle finger. He flinched, disconnecting the fruit from its stem and brought the baby bat in-between their faces, letting the prince watch with wonder. The infant continued to eat away as fast as it could on the sticky treat, but every so often it stopped and looked at the two, not sure if it should be fearful or not. As the layer of sugar was finally eaten, the baby fangs of the sugar bat began scrapping against the actual flesh of the king's fingertip. Narrowing his eyes, Marshall Lee opened his mouth at the creature, and the prince almost gasped and put up his hands to stop him. But instead the vampire puckered his lips and blew on the tiny body, ruffling up its snow fur. Quietly, it cried out, but to soothe it the blue-skinned teen whistled a soft, high note, holding it out for incredibly long until the baby was lulled back into its feeding, now licking up its food instead of chewing.
The prince had to silently stay his urge to reach out and touch the tiny creature, instead placing both his hands on the branch and turning to straddle the limb. He looked on with awe as the infant bat licked and suckled at the candy on the end of Marshall's finger, its tiny eyes closed in innocent satisfaction. Of course, he still wouldn't dare to break the silence and startle the baby animal, but all the same a smile broke across Gumball's lips, saying it all for him. For a moment he glanced up at the vampire to check the expression he was making before possibly looking like a fool again, but the king didn't seem to be paying attention to the sugar bat anymore. Marshall Lee smiled softly, but since the little creature had settled down, he'd turned his gaze to the prince, watching him enjoy the little show.
"See? He's not gonna hurt you. Op'
looks like you've got your own baby." Pointing with his free hand, the king brushed the petite body of a second infant bat that had landed on Gumball's ear, undetected. The pink boy flinched, but Marshall shushed him, assuring him that if he stayed still, there would be no harm.
Remaining still as a statue, the prince let his eyes strain to their farthest reach to try and see the little bat on his ear. He bit his lower lip as the baby started licking his earlobe, trying to hold back a shudder as the little tongue lapped at his ticklish skin. He gave Marshall Lee a pleading look to command him to do something before he had a meltdown and started laughing.
Instead the older teen bit his own lip to suppress his snickers. But as Gumball almost couldn't contain it, Marshall Lee sighed and whistled again, soft and light like a lullaby. Slowly, at first the babies' tongues slowed, but, with adorable yawns, they finally nodded off, the prince's bat nestling into the crook of his ear and the undead teen's bat falling asleep with its jaws still around his fingertip.
"I suppose the baby ones are cute
when they're not trying to eat your face
" Gumball whispered trying his best not to disturb the tiny creature clinging to his earlobe. He smiled softly, relieved that finally the licking had subsided and he was no longer in danger of startling the bats with his laughter. "Say
how'd you learn to whistle to them like that?"
Letting his song end with a tender kiss to his charge, the dark-haired boy raised an eyebrow.
"You know, you keep asking me that question
Maybe I'll tell you about it another day. Everything I ever learned has a long, crazy story to it. I'll been around a long time, you know."
"Well what was it? Like are their words or is it just humming?"
"Well it's a lot of screeching
but it kinda goes like this
"Hush now, my little ones,
"You played and your flew,
"The moon's going to bed now,
"And I hope you are too.
"Mother is tired now,
"So come rest your head,
"Shush now, stop flapping,
"It's time for bed."
Taking the little animal off of his ear and coaxing it to cling to a bunch of gumdrops hanging from the branch above, Gumball leaned back until his shoulders pressed against the trunk of the tree. He had to admit that the lullaby was soothing, but the idea of Marshall Lee being a mother bat singing to her babies was too comical and brought a smirk to his face.
"You always play mommy to the sugar bats?"
Marshall frowned and flipped off the young prince, the baby bat still sleeping on its tip.
"That's just how the song goes. I learned it from a momma sugar bat, ok?" Looking back to the infant that had begun snore, he gently unworked its tiny fangs from his finger and laid the precious body up amongst his dark hair, letting his locks act as a blanket. "Here, I'll tell you the story
a hundred and thirty
six years ago I was walking through here- yeah, it's been around a long time- and these baby sugar bats were flying around and just acting crazy. They were like little kids and they were tons of fun, but they were wearing me out by dawn. So I gathered them all up in my arms- like fifteen or so- but they wouldn't calm down. Then out of nowhere this big sugar bat comes screeching and flapping around my head. It's Big Momma bat, and I didn't have a free hand to wave her off. But I started listening... and she wasn't screeching, like mad at me. She was singing. And sure enough all of these kiddo bats are yawning and they ended up all falling asleep, right there in my arms. Turns out they had scampered off, and she had been looking for them all night. She was so grateful that I found them for her she taught me the song."
"You know, you never came across as the kind to care much for kids," Gumball replied thoughtfully, folding his hands behind his head. "It's actually rather charming when you look at it politically, you being a king and all."
"Yeah, well, don't go and tell everybody. Don't want people thinking I'm not spooky and everything. By the way
thanks for coming out with me. It's
nice. Real cool, PG." The elder male looked off, not wanting to make things more awkward by staring. He knew it was luck that he'd convinced the regal candy man to come out with him, and if he got too friendly, he knew he'd only scare him off.
"It's nothing," the prince lied; staying out this late was going to make him exhausted come sunrise. "You know, you're a lot friendlier when you're not around a bunch of people. I'm used to you being such a troublemaker
Who are you trying to impress?" Gumball propped his heels up on the branch and crossed his legs comfortably at the ankles.
Marshall opened his mouth for a response, but a little yawn from around his head stopped him. Quickly he scooped the now awake sugar bat from his hair. The infant started to peep, becoming fussy. Smirking, the king grabbed a gumdrop above his head and placed it to the baby's mouth, feeding the temperamental tike.
"Well," the vampire said, speaking right above a whisper, "
maybe I'm trying to impress you. You know
so you might hang out with me more. This was nice and all, but I wanna show you some real fun. That is
if you want me to."
"Oh, this wasn't the real fun?" the prince chuckled quietly, giving the vampire an appreciative smirk. "You know, I had a lot of fun tonight. Maybe we could hang out during the day sometime. I could show you my laboratory if you're free sometime tomorrow afternoon." Gumball's face contorted and his shoulders trembled as he tried his best to stifle a yawn.
Looking up to find through the foliage that the moon was gone and dawn would be in a few hours, the vampire king frowned and stoked the baby bat with his thumb.
"Maybe, but, for now, I think it's past your bedtime, GumGum. Let's head back before I keep you up all night." Carefully, he reached up and settled the infant with its sibling among the twigs and fruit, dusting his hands of the granules of the gumdrop and hopping down to escort the prince home.
"Right, sleeping is good." Gumball spun on his rear end, slinging his legs off one side of the branch and letting himself slip to the ground. "Sure hope you're-" the pink teen stifled another yawn, showing how unused he was to staying up late at night, "-not going to make me walk all the way back to the palace."
As the prince came down, Marshall Lee moved without thinking, bringing his hands up and grasping the prince's slender hips to break his fall. But as soon as the prince's nicely polished shoes touched the ground, the vampire withdrew and stuffed his hands quickly into his pocket.
"Well yeah, pff. It's like forever from here on foot. It'll be morning if I don't fly you back." He laughed nervously.
"Thanks," the younger replied, placing a hand firmly on Marshall Lee's shoulder, "I mean for hanging out with me tonight. You're a real pal." With a goofy look on his face, the prince removed the crown from his head and held it to his chest before bowing to the other. "I tip my crown to you, oh King of the Night, Queller of Beasts, and mother to bats."
I'm just glad you had fun." The vampire smiled over his shoulder as he waited for the gummy prince to hop onto his back. After Gumball climbed onto him, Marshall Lee locked his arms over the other's legs to hold him in place. They took off in the direction of the castle late into the night, and they flew in silence. Worried about his charge, the blue-skinned male looked back only to discover the day-walker had fallen asleep. Marshall smiled and kept their travel smooth, lest he disturbed the prince.
In under an hour, the candy-man and vampire arrived at the silent Candy Kingdom, and rising up from the ground, Marshall Lee delivered the sleepy prince to his room, floating through the still open window. He landed softly in the room and walked to the bedside. Quietly, he pulled back the soft, sweet smelling sheets and gently backed up to dump the younger man into bed. As the unconscious body hit the bed, he whined a little, but the king placed a pillow in the prince's arms, who instantly snuggled into it. Marshall snickered and tucked him in. With everything set, the undead teen took his leave, crouching in the window before taking one last look at Prince Gumball. With the pink-skinned boy fast asleep, Marshall just smiled.
"Night, Bubba," he whispered before jumping out into the remainder of the night.
Dawn broke over the sugar-coated palace with a spiteful vengeance against the late night Gumball had spent with the undead king. The first golden rays of sun reached over the horizon and slipped through the prince's windows, sliding across his floor and reaching up to warm his face. Groaning groggily, the young man rolled over in bed, clutching at his plush blankets and pulling them over his head to block out the intruding rays. On any normal day, the sun was Gumball's alarm clock, so he was hitting the snooze button by covering his eyes.
But if that wasn't enough, his ever-faithful right hand came knocking on his door, worried that the prince wasn't up and about yet.
"Your Majesty," the peppermint called, "Are you decent? Breakfast is waiting for you, Prince Gumball. Are you awake?"
Groaning and curling up under his blankets, the prince didn't budge. However, concerned for the royal teen's wellbeing, Peppermint Maid took a step into his private bedchamber, peeking around the door to catch a glimpse of Gumball's figure entwined with his blankets.
"Uuuuuh. I don't feel too well
I didn't sleep very well last night
I'm going to skip breakfast this morning. Send another wakeup-call in an hour and a half."
With a nervous look, the servant nodded and backed out of the bedroom; it was very out of character for the prince to sleep late. As Gumball had requested, she returned in an hour and a half, eventually coaxing the groggy young man out of bed and towards a late start to his day.
Well into the afternoon, the prince was reviewing a new piece of legislature that banned the use of pure mint extract as a candy-cane fertilizer. The document itself was rather dry, but the agricultural union raised a good point about the hazards of using such a corrosive to grow such a staple crop in the candy kingdom. Finally, after some time, the last form received his seal of approval and the exhausted teen quit his private office for the day, heading down into the basement to his laboratory for a little unwinding with science.
As he flipped on the light, there was a rush of movement in the corner of the room. Then everything was still. Gumball shrugged and closed the door behind him, picking up from his last experiment and checking his Petri dishes. As he jotted down his numbers and checked again under his microscope, something in the room slunk its way to just behind him, ever so slowly standing up to loom over him and his work.
"Whatcha doin, Bubba?"
As expected, the prince nearly leaped out of his chair, knocking his head on the lamp over the desk with a startled yelp. As soon as the initial shock had faded, Gumball whirled around, already knowing who it was behind him.
"Marshall Lee!" he snapped angrily, "stop sneaking up on me like that, you creeper!"
"Well it's not my fault you scare that easily
so what's up? Doin' science stuff?"
"Yes, if you must know
what are you doing here?"
"Well, you said I could come and you'd show me the lab."
Sighing and leaning back against his lab bench, Gumball smoothed his hair over from where he'd banged his head on the now-swinging lamp.
"Yeah, I suppose I did. Why don't you stand by while I finish up this gnome repellant for the castle gardens? I've got to get a little aminopropionic acid from my store room
Don't. Touch. Anything." Putting up his hands to bar the vampire from interfering with his research, the prince backed away until he slipped through the only other door in the lab aside from the exit.
As the door shut behind him, Marshall Lee smiled mischievously and grabbed the first beaker of chemical he saw. Bringing it his nose, he sniffed then gagged at its pungent stink. He couldn't help but giggle as he tipped it slowly and let a single drop fall into the experimental concoction. He was aiming to only make it smell bad and cause a little damage, but instead the vial rattled and turned from its lime green to a deep violet, emitting thick blue smoke. He squeaked and hid the first beaker, whistling innocently to himself.
When Prince Gumball reentered from his store room with a bottle of chemical in his hand, he froze instantly, his demeanor shifting drastically from cheerful to horrified. Setting the jar of aminopropionic acid aside, the scientist rushed to look at his experimental repellant, gasping as he noticed the drastic change in color accompanied by a horrible new odor. Waving his hand to clear the air lest the new fumes be harmful, he turned and scowled furiously at Marshall.
"What did you add to my solution?" he snapped, knowing that the vampire just hadn't been able to help himself
Grinning from ear to ear, the vampire crossed his arms.
"I don't know what you're talking about. I was just sitting here and it just started to - it's over there." He pointed to his right and snickered, not able to keep up the weak act.
Snatching up the bottle of fluid Marshall had added to his repellant and reading the label quickly, Gumball's face went from horror to disgust, grimacing as he set the bottle aside and lifted the ruined concoction up to eyelevel. The violet mixture had turned nearly clear now and appeared almost like an alcohol the way the beaker had gradually grown cold.
"Do you have any idea what you just did, Marshall?" Of course he knew the king had no clue, but he had to ask for the sake of his own lecture.
I made it stink and change colors?"
"You've ruined my gnome repellant! What's worse, you made bremelanotide, you idiot!" Gumball set the flask angrily back down on the bench he opened up the underneath drawer and hastily removed a rubber stopper, using it to plug up the open neck of the bottle.
what's breme-whatchma-callit?" The undead teen slid over to look at his creation, poking the bottle curiously.
" the peeved scientist growled, shaking his head slowly. "Bremelanotide is a powerful aphrodisiac
I can't let this fall into the wrong hands
Can you imagine what would happen if the Ice Queen got a hold of this?"
The vampire king shuddered, not wanting that metal picture to burn into his mind.
"Ok ok, I'm sorry, ok. I wasn't trying to create a super weapon or anything, don't get mad
" he reached behind his back and handed something over. "I saved some of it just in case it exploded or something." It was in fact a small vial of the lime green liquid, siphoned off form the larger brew.
Sighing, Gumball accepted the tiny bottle, all that was left of his gnome repellant.
"Well, I suppose it will have to do. For now the lollipop farmers will just have to watch the season's crop more diligently until I can remake the solution." He sighed, shoving the cold, clear liquid aside with a disheartened look and gathering up the bottle of aminopropionic acid and the vile of would-have-been gnome repellant. "I'm going to put these on ice. I don't think I need to tell you not to touch anything twice."
Look, if it'll make you feel better, I'll scare the gnomes away until you make your repellent or whatever." The vampire stuffed his hands in his pockets to avoid getting into more trouble.
"Don't worry about it
try and stay out of trouble in my lab from now on, okay?" With that being said, Gumball slipped back into the store room, the door clicking behind him, leaving Marshall alone in the laboratory yet again.
Quickly he looked around for an empty vial, and, finding one, he took out the potent aphrodisiac and filled it half-way with the chilled liquid.
that's cold," he whispered, jumping at the sound of the storeroom opening again. He swiftly stashed the original mix back in the cabinet and slipped his own into his jacket. Everything was back as it was when the prince stepped out and locked the side door. He turned back to Marshall only to find him whistling again.
"Oh my- what did you do now?"
The undead king only smiled and shrugged.
"Just stood here and made up a song. You know you really shouldn't leave me alone in the room if you don't trust me."
"How am I supposed to build trust for you if I don't give you the opportunity to prove yourself trustworthy?" Gumball came back smartly, sliding a drawer open and pulling out various items of safety equipment. He covered his face with a protective mask and goggles, pulling on a pair of thick, black gloves, and arming himself with a set of long, metal tongs, he grabbed the flask of bremelanotide.
"What are you gonna do with that?"
"I'm going to destroy it," the prince said with a look of concentration as he carefully carried the jar across the room. "I can't let a single drop fall into the wrong hands
Could you do me a favor and throw that lever to your left?"
Marshall's smile dropped and he reached his right hand out.
"No, your left."
The vampire reached out farther with his right.
Your other left."
Snickering the blue-skinned teen grabbed the lever and pulled it.
"Just kidding, GumGum. So, how long will it take you to make another batch?"
The prince didn't reply as the vampire's action opened up a small hatch on the far wall of the lab. Inside, the new opening was glowing bright orange and belching heat into the room, making Gumball flinch as he reached out with the tongs and dropped the flask of aphrodisiac into the broiling furnace. He motioned for Marshall to throw the switch back into place and seal the incinerator again. When the heavy door had slammed shut, the pink teen removed one of his black gloves and wiped his forehead with relief.
"Well, the repellant is time sensitive, so once I've started a new batch, I'll have to let it set for a while to allow some of the chemicals to fully react. I'd give it a week to be safe." Removing all of his protective clothing, the prince smoothed over his clean lab coat and gave Marshall an inquisitive look. "Why the sudden interest? I thought you thought all this was nerdy."
"Oh it is nerdy," Marshall Lee smiled, "I just wanted to know when we could hang out again. If you're out for a week
. That's just gonna suck." He gave Prince Gumball a sideways grin. "I mean, we don't' have to go tonight
but I thought maybe tomorrow or something
I mean if you want to. If you think you're up to it."
"Well I won't be working on it constantly for a week. Like I said, I have to let the solution set for a while because it's a slow reaction." Gumball shrugged. "I suppose we can hang out as long as you don't keep me up as late as you did last night. I could barely get up this morning."
"Well, take a nap. I mean, what are they gonna do? You're the prince; you can do what you want. Your kingdom can survive without you for a few hours." Just on a whim, the vampire king began to float and brought himself to hover over the bubblegum teen. Carefully, he leaned over to put his face in front of the prince's, upside down.
"I wish you wouldn't do that," Prince Gumball huffed.
"I wish you wouldn't wish me not to do it," Marshall Lee retorted.
"Whatever, dude," the pink teen rolled his eyes and put his palm on the other boy's face, giving him a playful shove. "Is there some particular reason you came over, or was it just to mess with my science?"
Letting the younger man walk out from underneath him, Marshall lay out in the air and folded his arms under his chin.
"You forget, you invited me
plus, I kinda got stuck." When the prince gave him a skeptical look, Marshall smiled sheepishly. "Well, I was messing with that peppermint servant girl
" At the horrified look from his companion, the king raised up his hands in defense. "I was just trying to see how many of her stripes I could get before she noticed!... I got three." Prince Gumball narrowed his eyes. "Oh come on PG... they'll grow back
in like two days, you'll see."
"You're a terror, Marshall."
"I blame you," the vampire chuckled to himself, "I mean, you're the one who invited me in, after all."
"Are you trying to say I shouldn't have invited you?" the pink teen smirked as his companion shrunk away at the thought of being no longer welcome in the prince's palace. Gumball couldn't help but laugh at the sudden look of fear in Marshall's eyes, even if his threat had been hollow. "Lighten up. I haven't said you were unwelcome
"Great to hear, PG. Great to hear."
For the next hour, Marshall floated nearby as the prince mixed another batch of his repellent up, never taking his hands from his pockets lest he goof up another concoction. After three more beakers of the liquid were made, Prince Gumball wiped his forehead with satisfaction before setting them off to the side to set and turning back to his lab assistant.
"Well, that should do it as long as no one tries to fumble it up again..."
"Don't worry; I'll be good," the king grinned. Suddenly, there came a knock to the main door, and the visitor let themselves in.
"Sorry to bother you, you Majesty, but dinner is served," the peppermint maid muttered, having caught sight of the sneaky vampire and covered her blank patches of skin in shame. She in fact had three places where she normally had stripes that were bare, and Gumball glared at Marshall. "Will
. he be joining you?"
"Don't worry, Peppermint Maid," Gumball replied as he removed his protective lab coat, "Marshall's promised to be good. Have an extra place set at my table for our guest, and inform the cook that the entre is to be spaghetti with extra red sauce." The prince smirked and gave the undead teen's shoulder a light punch before turning to hang the garment on a hook by the door.
"Y-yes! Right away, your Majesty!" With that the candy servant turned and scurried up the stairs as quickly as possible, Gumball following shortly thereafter with his guest floating close behind.
"Hey, you didn't have to do that. I wouldn't want to impose or anything," Marshall Lee said as they ascended the stairs. "As soon as it gets dark, I can just-"
"Considering you swiped the stripes off my most trusted advisor, I assume that must mean you're starving to death
" Gumball gave the other male a face of all seriousness, but a twitch showed he was struggling to hold it before he snorted and paused on the steps to slap the vampire's shoulder. "Ha! Naw, I'm just messing with you. You couldn't impose on this palace if you tried! Not that you need to take that as a challenge
"Well, ok then, if you're sure
" As they reached the top of the stairs, the undead king let the other take the lead and floated behind him. "What's gotten into you, Bubba? Just the other day you didn't want me anywhere near this place, and now you're inviting me to dinner? What's up with that, yo?" Marshall smiled wickedly. "Finally decided to stop being a stick in the mud?"
"What you did to Peppermint Maid and my repellant is exactly why I didn't want you spooking around this place... And if you ran a kingdom, you'd know why I don't take a lot of time for leisure." The prince sighed and looked over his shoulder, seeing his words had put the vampire off slightly. "Look, I didn't mean it like that, it's just
I take my job as prince very seriously."
"No, I get it
" he smiled, not easily hurt. "I was just getting worried there for a second. Thought you had gone crazy or were replaced by Ice Queen again. Had to check and make sure." Putting up his facade was what the vampire did best. Even if the words bit a tad at him, he'd never tell. Putting on a happy face was what got him through over a thousand years of his life.
Shuddering at the horrible memory, the prince let his shoulders slump a little.
"Dude, don't even joke about that." That incident was too fresh in his mind. Not to mention that only days prior the snowy sorceress had nearly succeeded in having her wicked way with him. He shook his head to banish the thought, fearing he might make himself ill if he thought about it anymore. "No, I don't want to think about that creepy old hag."
"Then don't. She's probably at home still trying to put her face back together after I melted it off."
At the mention of his little stunt, the Prince remembered the injury the vampire had received, not giving it a second thought before.
"About that, Marshall
how's your back?"
The vampire stopped.
"Oh, that," he turned and lifted the back of his jacket and tank top up, letting Gumball see for himself. "It's nothing, all healed up." It was in fact healed, but in no means was it unscarred. Two new large streaks of matted flesh on his shoulder blades added to the collection on scars that were on his body, ranging from serious lumps to tiny tears, nicks and cuts from several lifetimes of living.
I'm glad it healed so quickly. It's weird; I'm not used to people getting hurt in these fights with the Ice Queen. Usually Fionna just kicks her buns and it's done but
I guess it was brave what you did; reckless and stupid mind you, but brave." Absently tucking his thumbs into the shallow pockets of his waistcoat, the prince looked over his shoulder at the vampire, still following eerily behind him like a solid shadow. "Speaking of Fionna, though, I wonder how she's getting along. I feel bad for not having visited her. Perhaps I'll pay her a trip tomorrow
" At this point, Gumball had fallen to making absent conversation, hoping to fill the void during their long, rather roundabout to the prince's royal dining room.
"Yeah, maybe send her a basket, PG. She'll like your
baked goods. I still can't believe you do that," Marshall snorted, entering into the grand dining hall after his host. They made their way to the head of the table, an empty seat to his left meant for the king.
"That's a great idea!" The prince exclaimed as he seated himself in a very dignified manner, laying a crisp, white napkin across his lap and folding his hands there, making the perfect image of polite royalty. "And don't be jealous. Only a true man can bake well enough to please the pallet of a discerning woman."
"Sure. Whatever, GumGum." The other nobility sat himself with a plop, sitting rather carelessly and putting off the rather posh staff. After the first course was served, the undead teen grabbed the first fork he saw and began eating his meal, but stopped mid-bite at snickers from all around.
"You're using the wrong fork," Prince Gumball corrected. "Save that one for the main course."
Doing his best to remain polite in the face of the mistake, Gumball managed to keep himself from chuckling this time, passing by with only a humorous smile. Looking with a puzzled expression at the delicate array of silverware, plates and glasses, Marshall replaced the mistaken fork and grabbed the fork directly to its left, hoping to have guessed correctly from the four different forks before him.
"Not quite," came Gumball's voice quietly as the waiting staff erupted in more sniggers. "That's your fish fork. You want the one closest to the plate for salad." The prince gave his guest a charming smile as he lifted a dainty bite to his own lips.
Glaring at the tableware as if its sole purpose was to make him a fool, he replaced the fork back into its place, backwards mind you, and crossed his arms.
"I'll just wait for the spaghetti. I don't need any utensils when I eat."
The prince paused as he was about to take another bite, lowering his fork and giving the vampire a look of all seriousness.
"At this table, you will use proper manners, King Marshall Lee." Turning back to his own plate, the prince continued in a low voice, trying not to instigate another round of laughter from his service. "If you behave like an animal, you can eat from the trough like an animal. I don't mean to be rude, but this is simply how things are done here."
There was a silence at the table, even throughout the staff as all awaited for the vampire's response. But instead of anger, the undead teen chuckled, unfolding his arms to fold his hands neatly in his lap.
"Alright, your Highness, I'll behave. But I am gonna wait for the main course. The salad is just too
. Green." He grimaced at the bowl before him, refusing to have anything to do with it. The salads left and finally the promised Italian dish was served, and Prince Gumball almost took the first bite, but held off to watch his guest. As promised, Marshall Lee took his fork, properly identifying the correct one, and scooped up a mouthful. Bringing it to his lips, however, he let only his teeth set into the mixture. Quickly, he sucked all of the color from the sauce and gently laid the glob back onto his plate.
Satisfied with the improvement in his guest's etiquette, the pink teen began at his own food, taking neat careful bites. It was odd at first as the meal continued in a kind of silence Marshall was unused to - the kind broken only by the quiet clinking of forks on porcelain. He cleared his throat occasionally if only to break the stillness, receiving glances from the prince and his staff as if they were wondering what could possibly be caught in his throat.
As the last of his white dinner was plopped back onto his plate, the vampire patted his belly thankfully and stifled a belch, knowing there was no one around to properly appreciate it. He did get a glare from a tart that cleared his plate, but he let it slide, seeing as the uptight candy's opinion mattered little to him. He looked to his right to see his host finishing the last of his own meal, thanking the girl as she too removed his plate. Marshall Lee nodded as she passed, but the jam filled pastry only upturned her nose and disappeared into the kitchen.
"Well, then, I hate to eat and run, PG, but it looks like its sundown. I don't want to intrude any longer than I have to. Thanks for the great meal; it was fantastic."
"I'll be sure to send the chef your complements. I'm glad the shade was to your liking." Gumball stood as did his guest, seeing the night-walker to the palace gate and bidding him farewell. As Marshall Lee floated off into the crisp night, he called over his shoulder that they ought to hang out more often; and, being a polite host, the prince agreed. When the vampire disappeared into the sky, however, the pink young man couldn't help but wonder what the other's sudden fascination with him was. He twisted his lips and made his way slowly up the stairs to his bedroom as he thought, eventually abandoning the riddle and collapsing in bed with book in hand.