Adjusting the straps of her backpack, Fionna looked up to the sky, shielding her eyes against the glare of the sun. It was just before noon, but in the life of an adventuress, there's no start like an early one. Having been cooped up for days with her womanly needs, the blonde had been itching to get out and stretch her legs. It may have taken a little persuading on her part, but Cake had finally allowed her the journey to the Candy Kingdom despite her still present condition. Any other occasion the magical feline would have accompanied her on the trek, but Fionna had insisted on stopping by Marshall Lee's home to thank him for rescuing Prince Gumball. A visit with the vampire was enough to put Cake off the journey altogether, assuring the adventuress that she'd be waiting when she returned.
Braving the land of various obstacles alone, she made her way to the grand cave, wading through the tide that washed its way to the island of Marshall's home, a quaint little cottage that seems all too out of place. From his front porch she could already hear him tuning his base for what had to be the hundredth time. She knocked at the door, and immediately the strumming ceased. There was silence until the door suddenly swung in and a freakish monster screeched at her.
The beast's face contorted back into the vampire's true face and he laughed.
"Hey, Fee. Glad to see you're feeling better."
"Yeah, I had to get out. Being all cooped up was starting to cramp my style." She smiled and the vampire chuckled, floating out of the way and leaving the door ajar for Fionna to follow.
"So, what brings you all the way out to my neck of the woods?" he asked casually, laying back on his couch and picking up the bass again, fiddling with his E string and tightening the topmost tuning head. He plucked at the string a few times, continuing to twist the little mechanism until he'd achieved the proper sound by hearing alone.
"Oh, nothing, really. I was just on my way to the Candy Kingdom and wanted to stop by. I never got the chance to thank you for covering for me. Cake told me you really saved PG's bacon."
"Yeah, I didn't think he wanted to be a summer groom quite so soon. And I checked up on him a little. I think he'll live." Satisfied with his axe, the king reached behind himself and leaned it against the side of the couch. He sat back up and folded his hands on his chest, looking at his guest. "So, how do you deal with him?"
"Who, PG?" she asked, not sure what exactly Marshall was asking. The question didn't seem to make much sense in the blonde's head as she pondered how he could mean 'deal with him'. What was there to deal with? She and the prince had always gotten along like peas in a pod.
"Yeah. Has he always been such a stick in the mud? You hang out with him more than anyone. How do you deal with his
lameness?" He flipped his head back with a thud, hitting the arm of the couch hard. "I take him out and show him those sugar bats I told you about, and I even took him to a Party Patti party, and only when I tick him off does he act any fun! What's with that guy?" In honesty, Marshall knew the answer. It was the prince's upbringing, his royal nature that kept him from a carefree life. But venting always made him feel better.
"Well, you know about his family, right?" Fionna leaned back against the opposite arm of the couch, pulling her knees to her chest and wrapping her arms around them.
"I know he doesn't have one
"Well, it's a little bit more complex than that. Back when Gumball was still just a kid, there was a horrible sickness in the Candy Kingdom, and it took both the King and Queen. They still consider PG's survival to be miraculous." She looked up, resting her chin on her knees as if settling in for a long story. "Anyway, with no one else but little PG to rule, the Countess of Lemongrab took over leadership of the kingdom and trained him in how to be a king." Fionna pursed her lips at the name of the pseudo-royalty, showing obvious distaste for the countess. "But if you've ever met the Countess of Lemongrab you know she's a sour, bitter lady." Grimacing to try and get the idea of the lemon-headed woman out of her mind, Fionna shook her head and stuck out her tongue. "So Lemongrab schooled Gumball and ruled the Candy Kingdom until he turned 18 and could rule for himself. Because of how his parents died and how the countess raised him, PG always tended to take things super seriously, especially his duties to the kingdom."
"Sure, his kingdom... or princedom, in his case, is important, but jeez, I wish he'd lighten up. It sucks when you have to eat dinner with someone who dogs you for not using the right fork, when there's, like, way too many. I mean, why can't there just be one?" He blew hair out of his face. "Why does everything gotta be proper and orderly? I mean, does he ever just relax? Or is he a busy-body all the time?"
"Well, he's usually pretty happy-go-lucky when he's in his element, you know?" Fionna tilted her head, the bunny ears on her hat flopping to the side with the motion. "He's the kind of guy who's always happiest when he's taking care of his people. He's really kind that way." Shrugging her shoulders, the blonde smiled at Marshall who appeared to be concentrating very hard on what she was telling him. "He doesn't mean to be up-tight about rules and stuff; he just doesn't know a world without them."
The vampire pondered this, scratching his chin and secretly reminding himself to shave later.
"So, what you're saying is
he needs someone to take him out? Kinda like a fun-time guru?" The thought made him grin. "Well, that changes things."
"Well, I suppose, but I never have time to drag him away from the palace and teach him fun stuff
adventure and all
" she shrugged offhandedly. "And you'd be surprised how dangerous the world can be for a candy prince on his own." The blonde put up her hands like monster claws, "All sorts of monsters and junk with sweet-teeth who'd just love to gobble 'im up." Checking herself, Fionna leaned back against the arm rest of the couch, "Not to mention Ice Queen, always trying to marry him and stuff
"Well then, someone's gotta keep at it. Lucky for him, I'm bored half the time." He sat up and leaned to his friend, his smile growing bigger. "I took him to a 'dance-your-pants-off' party last night. If I can get him to take his shirt off at one of those, there's hope for him yet."
"You what?" The girl's whole face flushed a deep pink as the image of the prince without pants or a shirt was forced into her brain. "How the fudge did you convince him to do that?" Again she hugged her knees to her chest, clutching at her stockings and trying to hide her flushed cheeks behind her kneecaps.
"Well, I kind of dragged him there, but I did tell him it was a wild party before we left. I told him we could leave
but he actually had a good time, I think." He scratched his head thoughtfully, looking away. "We kinda had a fight
but I think we're cool now. I think I'm gonna drag him out more."
"Really? That's a great idea, Marshall Lee!" She grinned at her friend, clearly keen on the idea of getting the prince out of his stuffy castle. Suddenly, her surge of glee faded and she looked inquisitively at the vampire again, leaning forward. "Um
Can I ask what you fought about?"
he was being a prude, so I told him so. But he was talking about how he disapproved of my lifestyle first, so it was justified. But he went and got into a tizzy about it and flipped out. But that just made everyone at the party practically bow down to him
and I have to admit
" He tilted his head to Fionna. "It was pretty cool."
"Sounds like you guys had a pretty algebraic time!" she replied with a giggle, "Almost wish I'd have been there." She paused briefly thinking for a moment before lifting one hand to make sure she had the undead teen's full attention. "So, why the sudden interest in PG? I thought you two weren't that close."
"Well, that's just it, Fifi," he muttered, playing with the strings of his hoodie. "I've seen him around you, and it looks like he's capable of having a good time. I've kinda hung around him during his parties, but I know now he didn't wanna be around me because he didn't know me. I do admit I'm kinda freaky. But I'm thinking if I keep creeping around and taking out to do cool stuff
he might not be so freaked out by me."
"Yeah, I understand that, but why Gumball all of a sudden?" Fionna leaned a little closer as if trying to get a good look at the vampire's deep red eyes such that perhaps she could read them. "I remember you saying he wasn't anything but a tightwad, so why him and not
I don't know LSP or Ghost Prince or someone?"
"Cause LSP is annoying and Ghost Prince is a wuss," he grumbled, trying to still dodge the question. Since her curiosity had perked up, his stomach had done a back-flip and he racked his brain for anyway to redirect the conversation. In the madness that made up Marshall Lee's thoughts, a battle thrashed to a point that the king was getting a headache.
Why was he interested in the prince? Was it because he wanted a new thing to keep him from boredom when Fionna wasn't around? This was maybe his reasoning a few years ago, but floating around the prince at his get-togethers had given him enough reason to give up on his stuck-up personality. But somehow he had gotten past that and stuck around, lurking nearby until a reason to try again rose up. There was something, something Marshall couldn't quite grasp yet, that kept him wanting to be around Prince Gumball, and until he figured it out he'd keep his secret from everyone, even his now close friend. He would get the candy royalty to be his friend, and maybe by then he'd figure it out.
"Oh, come on, Marsh. Out of all the princes in Aaa, why Gumball?"
"Ok, ok, stop bugging me. Alright, I want to hang out with Gumball because
even with the hoity-toity attitude and nerdy science thing
I think he's kinda cool. I figure if he doesn't think I'm a bad guy, it'd be fun to hang out with him."
"Hey, if you're up to a challenge, I'm behind you all the way, ML." Fionna blinked and shrugged at the vampire, giving him a soft smile. "I'll even put in a good word for you since I'll be headed that way in a little while." She reached over and gave the blue-skinned boy's cheek a playful pat in an attempt to make him lighten up. "Now quit being all serious and stuff, it's like PG's rubbing off on you or something."
"I know. It's all weird being serious," the vampire replied, smooshing his own cheek in to make a silly face. Fionna giggled, only probing him to further entertain her. "Soon my skin'll turn pink and I'll be scolding people about what the proper way to breathe is." The girl's smirk had turned into a full laugh, and Marshall was relieved, loving that sound. She was one of his greatest friends over his long life; the vampire having had only a few like her in all of his years.
" her laughter died a little. "Just don't tell him that; he'd probably call you a butt or something and uninvite you to his next party."
"Oh, that's ok," Marshall sighed, "He hasn't invited me for a long time."
"What? But I see you at them all the time."
"Yeah, but I just kinda sneak in," the vampire admitted. "I can't help myself. I hear about a great party and I have to drop in."
"Ha," she laughed, smooshing Marshall's face and forcing him to make silly faces again. "No wonder PG thinks you're a spook
Who knows? Keep at him and maybe one of these days you'll get the invite." She smiled reassuringly while stretching the undead teen's cheeks despite the look of annoyance that was beginning to cross his brow.
He finally slapped her hands away, rubbing his sore cheekbones.
"I doubt it. Besides, then he'd have to admit to everyone that he likes me, and that'd just ruin his squeaky clean reputation." Not to deter her, he snuck in his signature grin. "Nah, I'm good with being his party crasher."
"Suit yourself, dude," Fionna replied, boxing him playfully on the shoulder. "Just letting you know, Gumball's more fun when you've got an invite. It's like a free pass to him being nice to you all evening."
"He's no fun when he's all 'nicey-nice'. Bubba's way more fun when he's riled up, I've learned." He sighed, blowing another stray band of black hair from his face. "But who knows? Maybe someday..."
" rubbing the back of her hand under her chin, the adventuress let her expression grow serious as her mind delved into thought. She was on her way to the Candy Kingdom to visit the prince; perhaps this was a topic worthy of bringing to his attention.
So with small talk aside, the adventuress bid her older friend goodbye and left him to his tuning, off to see her other good guy pal the Candy Prince. It was a bit of a trek, but midway Cake met up with her, taking her the second leg of the trip. She let herself in through the palace gates, greeting the guards as she passed and entered the grand hall. She quickly found Peppermint Maid and hailed her over.
"Hey, where's PG?" Fionna asked.
"Oh, the prince would be in his laboratory at this time, probably working on his gnome repellent replacement."
They thanked the guards, giving them a playful salute before jogging off to the palace. With Cake in tow, the blonde slid agilely down the banister of the spiral stairs leading down to the prince's laboratory. The door was slightly ajar, and as the handrail came to an end, Fionna leaped off and gave the door a good kick to open it. No sooner had she made her dynamic entrance, than Gumball barged out of the store room with a furious expression on his face.
"I thought I told you-!" He stopped himself, seeing the adventuress his demeanor immediately softened. "Oh, hey, Fionna!"
"What's up, Peegees? Thought you were done with the gnome repellant a few days ago? It's still not ready yet?" The blonde sat herself on one of the three stools set up, spinning in it a few times before setting her chin on the counter.
"Yeah, well the first batch had a little
accident." Gumball puffed out his cheeks a little to show his irritation with the fact. "Anyway, I had to start over." Setting aside the bottle he'd been swirling with his left hand, the pink teen pulled one of the stools over and sat next to the adventuress. "Anyway, what brings you all the way out here Fionna? Feeling better I hope?"
"Much, so I thought I'd visit you." She put her hands under her chin, propping up her face to meet his. "So, I hear you were hanging out with some else while I was gone. How was it?"
"Been chatting with the king of spooks I see." Gumball made a difficult to read face, as if he was deciding for himself how he felt about the party the previous night. "I wasn't too excited about it at first, but believe it or not, by the end of the night I was having a lot of fun." Looking over his shoulder and tapping his fingertips together, the young man cleared his throat nervously. "So
what all did Marshall Lee tell you?"
"That you two hung out a few nights. So, did the sugar bats try and eat you?" She leaned forward if only to see some damage from a sweet-eater attack. "I never did find out if they eat candy people
The pink teen rubbed the back of his neck and laughed nervously, being re-familiarized with his unfounded fear of being eaten by sugar bats.
"Well, they were just babies
and one did start licking my ear, which is a problem, you see, because my ears are really ticklish." He pointed at the girl as if to make sure she heeded his words, "but that's just babies; as far as I know, the grownups eat candy people, so I'm not taking any risks."
"Right. But did you like it? I don't' think Marshall Lee has taken me bat watching before." She smiled at the royal bubblegum man. "I'm glad you two are getting along. Sounds like you're pretty special if he shows you that and a Party Patti Party in two nights. He's not so bad once you hang with him for a while. He's just
spooky, like you said."
not to mention impossible to read." Gumball leaned his elbow against the workbench and propped up his head with his hand. "I mean sometimes he's got this weird sense of humor like he just likes to watch me squirm, and other times he acts like he's been looking out for me this whole time." Sighing and shrugging his shoulders to show he was at a loss when it came to deciphering the vampire king's behavior. "I can't tell if he really wants to be pals or if it's all a setup for some big prank or something
Fionna stuck out her tongue and screwed her face, trying to show deep thinking, but rather she just looked silly.
"Well that's what I thought when I first met him. He's
mysterious like that. He likes being Mr. No-One-Can-Figure-Me-Out, which is a very long name." The girl sucked in her tongue and sat up. "But at the end, I think he just wants to have friends that like him for him and his weirdness. I think he's funny."
"Yeah, a real hoot," Gumball replied sarcastically, "especially when he's getting ticked off 'cause I'm not being entertaining or whatever." The prince leaned over and put his cheek in his hand, resting his head. "Marshall Lee's so much fun, you could fill a barrel full of monkeys with him."
"I don't know Fionna, I'm tired. Can't you just tell me what I'm supposed to think of him or something?"
"Dude, friends don't work like that." She leaned back and crossed her legs Indian-style, balancing on the black stool. "You're a smart guy. You have to get to know him yourself. He's been taking you out right?"
The prince nodded curiously.
"Well then, why don't you make the next move?" Sneaking in her plan, she smiled coyly. "You know, your Shindig is coming up
I bet he'd go crazy if you gave him an invitation."
"Uh, actually, it's a hootenanny
" the prince interjected apologetically, unable to help correcting the adventuress. "Sorry," he gave her a sheepish smile before letting himself brighten up to the idea. "Actually, that's not a bad idea. You know, I bet he'd be a lot less destructive if he just got invited."
"And I'd bet he'd feel better if he didn't have to try to sneak past the guards. I remember last year he tricked him with that riddle." The blonde giggled. "'What gets wetter as it dries?' That took them forever."
a towel! Duh!" Gumball came back with a grin and a chuckle, "That's like the oldest one in the book. I still can't believe they fell for something so lame!" The pink teen slapped his own forehead to show his disappointment in the easily stumped guards. "So, anyway
You'll be at my hootenanny, won't you, Fionna?"
"Hecks yeah! So what's it going to be like?" She stood up from the table and leaned on it instead. "Is it like a ball or a soiree- oh oh! Or is it like your gala or maybe your jubilee, but it could also be like your wing-ding, or what about-?"
"Actually," he interrupted, putting his hands up to quiet his babbling guest, "It's going to be a masquerade. It's been a few years since my last masquerade, and I thought I was about due for another." He smiled and gave the blonde an expectant look, leaning forward a bit with excitement. "Since this one's been scheduled in October, I thought it would be fitting to make the theme-" he drew away, pulling up the edge of his lab coat and holding it up to his face like a cape, "B-Horror-Movie!"
"Aw sweet! So we get to be monsters and creepers. I'll get my gorilla costume."
"Well, that's not very scary," the prince sighed, dropping his coat.
"Hello? 'Queen Kong', remember?"
"Ah yes, a classic. Almost forgot. Well I'm going to keep mine a surprise and make a grand entrance of it." Again taking the corner of his coat, he drew it back and over his shoulder. Fionna laughed and held her sides, not able to take the theatrics seriously.
"Alright, so I'll for sure see you there?" The girl only nodded vigorously, unable to speak through her dying giggles. "Great! It's going to be my best party yet; I can already tell!" he exclaimed, a grin stretching across his gummy face.
From there the two chattered on about plans for the festivities; Fionna suggesting a few groups of musicians to play the event while Gumball got her approval on a few different ideas regarding decoration and entertainment. In the windowless basement the two of them gabbed for what must have been hours because their conversation was interrupted suddenly by the adventuress's stomach gurgling loudly.
Guess we missed lunch," she commented, covering her disobedient belly with her forearms. "I better go find Cake and get outa here."
So the human was off, and after prying her companion from her boyfriend's company, the two were off, heading back home for the evening. All over Aaa dinners were had, the girls sharing an 'Everything Taco', the prince having a great meal with the company of his loyal servant, and Marshall Lee dining alone at his offset home before venturing out for the night's excitement.
As the evening set in, Gumball retired to his bedchamber, cracking his book open to read by candlelight, but looking up the sunset through his window gave him a thought. Following the impulse he rose to his feet and unlatched the lock, moving the pane such that it was left ajar in the expectation of a visit from the vampire king. However as the evening wore into night and his candle burned low, the prince's window remained undisturbed, and, sighing, he closed his novel for the time being and blew out his reading light. Turning over under his sheets, the prince couldn't describe the feeling that ate away at his stomach. It was as if the sudden frequency with which he'd begun to see Marshall Lee had led to an expectation, and when the undead teen broke that prospect, Gumball felt
let down. He told himself that no plans had been made, and the vampire had no obligation to interrupt his sleeping pattern this night, but all the same there was a feeling of disappointment in the pit of his diaphragm.
In the thick of the Gumdrop Forest, high in the treetops, the expected vampire was plucking random notes into the open air, stirring up the bats that had begun feeding on their sugary meals. He hummed along and tried making a clear string of lyrics to accompany them, but he stumbled and growled, not quite getting what he wanted.
Over his life he'd created plenty of melodies, but it was still a pastime of his to create new ensembles as he met new things and stuff around him changed. It was all the same yet different, and being so long ago he'd forgotten his sporadic songs. So, to pass the night away and give Prince Gumball the night off, he had decided to nestle into the branches and make a new one. Hopefully the next time they met, he'd have it done and the royal candy man would finally approve of his creation.
As he finished perfecting the melody, Marshall looked over his shoulder and saw that the dawn was nearly upon him. With a fresh song buzzing in his mind, the vampire retired to his home for a well-deserved siesta. On most days he remained awake in the daylight hours, occupying himself with his guitar or slinking through the shadows in search of entertainment. However, about every third day or so, the vampire required rest to keep himself running, and this day was for the undead to sleep.
Locking the door and drawing the shades, he quickly filled Schwally's bowl and patted on her puffy, white head, then stripped down to his boxers. Yawning greatly he slithered under the covers and wrapped them up like a cocoon, passing out as soon as all light was cut out of his vision, leaving him in perfect darkness.
He slept soundly for hours, the only interruption to his sleep being the little zombie poodle jumping up into his bed and lying across his feet. True to his nature, Marshall slept like the dead, motionless and silent, curled up and bound in sheets like a mummy. Many years ago he'd tried sleeping in a coffin the way vampires of lore, and though such conditions blocked off all sunlight, he found the sentiment to be far too morbid for even his tastes.
The day was in full swing before the hooves of Lord Monochromicorn touched the waters of the vampire king's alcove, casting him in shadow as he and his rider, Prince Gumball neared the little house inside the cave. The stallion huffed as he waded through the cold waters, making his way to the shore and onto the cozy porch, letting the man off at the door. Gumball smiled and stroked his friend's snout, turning to the door and knocked softly.
"Marshall Lee," he called. "Are you home?"
There wasn't much of an answer, but suddenly the blinds moved, and, through them, he could see a little dog peeking through. As he waved to it, the little creature began barking, a high pitched yelp that was most irritating.
Gumball cringed at the sound as the creature's tiny teeth and claws scraped against the window like nails on a chalkboard. Before the little poodle could annoy him much farther, the doorknob jiggled, clicked and turned. As the door swung open, Gumball straightened his back formally, folding his hands behind his back and smiling. The smile quickly ran away from his face, replaced by a look of shock while the prince's cheeks flushed a deep shade of red and he averted his eyes. On the other side of the doorframe floated Marshall Lee in naught but a pair of dark grey boxer shorts.
As the resident just stood there, Prince Gumball became increasingly uncomfortable, not wanting to be in the presence of a half-naked Marshall Lee for a second time quite so soon. But quickly the tension was broken when the vampire's dog came up behind his legs, quietly growling. The prince looked at the harmless looking dog and smiled. Suddenly the bottom jaw of the pooch split, revealing gnarled, ghastly fangs. A demonic gurgle mixed with a horrifying snarl erupted from the once cute dog, and it hunkered down into a crouch, ready to strike. But as it sprung out, the tired looking undead snatched its nape, holding it fast and raising it up to his eye level. The little creature snarled and nipped, but a hiss from its master hushed it, turning it back into its fluffy, cute form. Marshall dropped his pet and snapped a finger, pointing behind him to command its retreat. The pup whined but wobbled off nonetheless. With the dog taken care of, the vampire returned to staring at Gumball, nothing but mulled annoyance across his face.
thanks for that Marshall," the prince said in regard to the dog, still keeping his eyes turned away from the nearly naked other. "Sorry to intrude on such short notice, but may I have a word?"
Marshall was slow to respond, but when he did it was laced with venom.
.. it's 3
..in the afternoon
.what do you want?"
"Oh!" the prince exclaimed, now embarrassed that not only had he caught the king indecent, he'd also been asleep. "My apologies, I
I didn't know you slept
Marshall narrowed his eyes as if to urge the prince to get on with why he'd come to his home in the middle of the day.
"If this is inconvenient for you, I can go and come back after sunset
I just wanted to give you something
"You've already got me up, so what is it?" he grumbled, scratching the side of his head thoughtlessly. He struggled not to squint from his exhaustion and the brightness outside.
"Here," Gumball replied immediately, shoving a very royal, very official looking envelope at the vampire, looking on expectantly, waiting for him to open it. Marshall eyed the letter skeptically, not pleased with being made to tear through so much as thin paper while he was so tired. However he ran a claw along the top, slicing the envelope open and withdrawing a triple-folded piece of parchment. Before the groggy teen got a chance to begin reading it, however, the prince started in, too eager to wait for it to be looked over.
"I'd like you to attend my up and coming hootenanny!" he declared with a grin, clearly very excited about the event.
Marshall raised an eyebrow.
wha?" He ignored the other for a moment and scanned the card, opening it to reveal a puff of glitter. He sneezed and read the invitation rather sluggishly, but towards the end his almost lifeless eyes lit up. "Wait
. An invite? You're
you're inviting me?"
"Yup," Gumball puffed out his chest as if he felt like he was doing a good deed, "I thought that since you've been going out of your way to make me have fun, I'd better return the favor." He tried his best to smile at Marshall, but the other young man's near nudity still embarrassed him. "Anyway, the date and time is in the invitation. This time around it's a Horror-Movie Masquerade, so everyone's going to be in costume." He paused, toying with the hem of his left sleeve, if only to distract him from looking at Marshall, which in his present state would be quite rude. "So, uh
is that cool? Do you think you'll come?"
The vampire scanned the paper as if he had read it wrong, but looking up to Gumball it was clear he wasn't mistaken. He had to snap out of his daze quickly and pull himself together.
"Yeah! I mean
sure, you know if I'm not too busy with other stuff, and if it's not too lame or anything
but I think I could swing by, for like a few minutes, or whatever." The king waved at his guest dismissively, as if not at all interested in the first peace offering he was internally ecstatic about.
"So, what? I don't invite you and you show up to every shindig and hullabaloo I can whip up, then you get invited and it's a maybe?" The prince folded his arms and pursed his lips disapprovingly. "I can always un-invite you if it will make showing up cool again."
Marshall Lee looked down at the glittery paper and slowly placed it behind his back.
"Mine," he whispered.
Finding satisfaction in the action, Gumball smiled and put his hands proudly on his hips, standing up a little taller and smiling a little wider in spite of his consciousness of the vampire's nearly naked figure. It made him glad that Marshall was somewhat possessive of the invitation; this meant he valued it, and thus valued their
could you call it a friendship? The prince pondered this silently for a moment, but realized he had been staring through the other young man's head, and dispersed the thought. Whatever it was they had, the king valued it, and that was good enough for Gumball.
"Well then, I expect you to be there! And don't forget your costume. If you need help, Cake's really good at sewing, so you might ask her."
"Don't you worry; I got something terrifying enough for a little horror-party. Just don't forget the music or I'll have to upstage everyone." With a loud yawn he began leaning on his door, hinting that he was very tired and needed more than anything to go back to sleep.
Noticing, the prince made haste to depart politely, not wanting to further bother his
"Alright then. I guess I'll see you around Marshall." He grinned sheepishly as he took another pace back towards Lord Monochromicorn who was busy nibbling at the rushes that grew from the surrounding lake. Unsure what else to do, Gumball wished for the vampire to sleep well before he mounted his steed and took off back towards the Candy Kingdom, only glancing over his shoulder as the house shrunk into the distance.
The older male leaned out to the side of his porch and watched the pair fly away, not realizing until he heard sizzling that he was burning his face. He cursed and held his steaming face in his hand, grumbled and returned inside. After reassuring his dog that all was well he slunk off to bed, letting his pet retake her place on his feet and let himself drift, dreaming up the night he'd have at the Prince's celebration.
With blankets wrapped firmly around him, the vampire slept soundly through the remainder of the day until he could feel the chill of the night begin to seep into his cozy blankets. Well-rested, the undead teen drew out of bed, wiping the sleep from his eyes and stretching in the pale moonlight that flooded through the cracks in his drawn blinds. Sluggishly he made his way to the refrigerator, withdrawing a cherry soda from his stash and quickly drinking the red away. He wiped his lips and combed his claws through his messy tresses, floating lazily back to his dresser and rooting through his clothing in search of something to wear. Before he had a chance to make a selection, however, there was a knock on his door for the second time that day.
He growled and quickly threw on a black tank top and a light pair of jeans, snarling as he struggled to get them on before the second knock at his door.
"I'm coming!" he shouted, finally buttoning them around his waist before zipping off to the front. Again his pooch was there barking at the intruder, but being awake he shooed her, able to deal with her annoyance properly. Combing his hair relatively into place with his finger he opened the door.
On the other side of the doorframe was someone he hadn't been expected; the prince stood, forcing himself to lean casually against the shoulder of his trusted magical steed. Marshall was shocked still by what Gumball was wearing. It wasn't his normal, royal attire, but instead a pink hooded sweatshirt and a pair of dark violet slacks. The pink teen's hands were shoved into his pockets, but at the same time he looked stiff and uncomfortable.
"Hey Marshall," he smiled "I was having some trouble sleeping
too excited for the hootenanny
anyway, I was wondering if you wanted to hang tonight."
The undead teen was taken aback. Was he actually asking him to hang out? Marshall's smile crept up on him, but he too stuck his hands in his pocket, mimicking the prince.
"Well, I was going to go out for a bit tonight. Sure! Why not?" On the inside he was bouncing off the walls, overjoyed that the young man who barely knew him a few nights ago made the long journey to his home just to ask for his company. His plan had worked! Now all he had to do was stay on his best behavior for their next few meetings and Gumball would trust him, then eventually he knew he wouldn't always have to watch himself and could be himself.
"Great," the pink boy replied, grasping Lord Monochromicorn's mane and pulling himself up onto the creature's shoulders. "Care to ride or you prefer to fly on your own? I got something to show you."
Perfectly intrigued the vampire shrugged.
"I'd take that up with your steed there. If he wants me on, I think I can ride for once. But he might not be too keen on me."
"What do you think, LM?" Gumball asked the Monochromicorn, leaning forward and patting the creature's thick, muscular neck. "Gonna let Marshall Lee come for a ride?"
The equine turned and snorted, eyeing the vampire skeptically before inhaling deeply, taking in the undead teen's scent and analyzing it with his animal senses. When he'd sniffed through Marshall's locks and over his torso, the magical beast took a pace backwards and began tapping his hoof in Morse code.
'- .... .. ... / --. ..- -.-- / ... -- . .-.. .-.. ... / .-.. .. -.- . / - --- ..-. ..-'
Gumball smiled and nodded with understanding, stroking his steed's mane affectionately and turning to the vampire.
"He says it's cool, hop aboard!"
Marshall Lee looked at the stallion skeptically.
"You sure that's what he said." he asked while climbing onto the long black body.
"Why? Do you speak Morse?"
"Well I only know one line
" The vampire leaned forward and tapped lightly onto spine of Lord, making sure both could see or feel.
'-- -.-- / .--. .- -. - ... / .- .-. . / --- -. / ..-. .. .-. . / --. . - / - .... . / - .- .--. .. --- -.-. .- / .--. ..- -.. -.. .. -. --.'
Prince Gumball and Lord Monochromicorn both froze.
"Whoa," the prince whispered.
"I know, it sounds weird out of context, but trust me, it made sense at the time."
"Ha!" the pink teen laughed aloud, turning so that both his legs hung off one side of his mount, "I'm not sure I want to know the context!" Turning back towards the magical animal, he scratched behind the steed's pointed, black ear. "Alright Mo-cro, let's get a move on."
With a whinny, the monochromicorn arched forward before taking off like a wayward firecracker. Twisting and turning through the air, the beast took a hold of the third dimension with his magical hooves, pulling the three of them through the sky as if they were galloping across solid ground.
Riding on such a twisty and turning mount was uncomfortable, and at first the vampire had to grasp hard onto the beast's body to stay on. Eventually both he and Lord himself tired of him having to claw into the body, so without informing the prince, Marshall Lee began to glide along with them, not actually touching the stallion's back. Every time the pink royalty looked back, the king would sink until his butt touched, but kept his own flying at pace.
The bubblegum teen seemed to be enjoying himself on the ride, finding a somewhat familiar tune in his head and humming it as they flew. He looked ahead, leaning forward every now and again as if making certain they were staying along the right course. Looking over his shoulder, the prince stopped his humming and gave the vampire a smile.
you ever been to see the moon on Crystal lake?"
Marshall thought back and couldn't recall. So many sights he had seen, it was hard to remember.
"Mmm, don't think so. Why, are we going there? To look at the moon?"
"Well, that's one of the reasons, but I wouldn't want to spoil the whole surprise." Gumball grinned knowingly, chuckling a bit and thinking himself clever. He turned back to look over Lord Monochromicorn's flank and checked their position. "You'll see in a moment, we're nearly there."
The blue-skinned male huffed and began to float again, letting himself totally leave the black stallion's back and have his own flight. Being a show-off, he swooped around Lord Monochromacorn's long, black torso, ringing around it like and pole and giving the creature fright. Lord snorted and shook as Marshall's hand slid around him, and the vampire laughed.
"Are we there yet?" the undead teen inquired.
The prince patted his steed on the flank to calm the startled beast before he leaned in towards the animal's ear. With a scheming look on his face, Gumball murmured to his steed, causing the monochromicorn's lips to part into a wide grin as well. Snorting and giving a sharp whinny, the magical unicorn arched through the air, falling into a twisting dive, spiraling through the air, and charging past terminal velocity.
Almost being left behind, the vampire dove after, keeping up with the twisting plunge towards earth. As the two flyers twisted, Marshall Lee laughed wickedly, howling from the rush of plummeting with no signs of letting up.
Lord Monochromicorn looked over his shoulder at the perusing undead and whirled in a corkscrew into Marshall's path, knocking the rival with a powerful shoulder before dipping in altitude again so that the unicorn was suddenly dashing across the unbroken, glassy surface of a beautiful lake. From the pure waters sprouted, tall, pearly crystals each sparkling in the white glow of the moon and refracting its light in all directions. With the recovered vampire again hot on his heels, the greyscale creature wound between the dazzling gems like a serpent, weaving amongst the skyward-reaching crystals in an attempt to out-maneuver Marshall Lee.
But several lifetimes' worth of experience wasn't going to let the vampire king down now, and with a burst of effort Marshall caught up, keeping pace with the racing monochromicorn. He growled and gasped as he had to avoid the larger, more jagged rocks the jutted out of the lake, and once he even felt a point slice into his bicep. He hissed but ignored it, not liking to be outdone easily. To show he was a good sport, the undead teen let his hand dip into the frigid waters, creating a great wake that licked on his opponent's jet black coat.
"Hey, watch who you're splashing!" the prince complained as the crystalline waters sprung at him and his steed from where Marshall's hand broke the surface. Gumball had turned to straddle his steed's shoulders, taking a firm hold of the unicorn's grey mane, and releasing the coarse hair with one hand, he dipped his fingers into the water, splashing his friend back. The pink young man laughed aloud as the perfectly clear water arched and got in his friend's raven hair.
The boys laughed as his clothes where soaked, and, as Prince Gumball retracted his hand, his guest threw himself in to a barrel roll, throwing water off himself with a speedy spin cycle. The two racers continued along the liquid racetrack, dodging solid obstacles that threatened to shred them if crashed into.
The two young men were laughing with their spirits high as the fliers tangled through the forest of gigantic crystals over the pond. Trying to lose his opponent, Lord Monochromicorn lurched upwards, dashing up the side of one of the glittering gems, in a perfect helix. Suddenly the laughter of the prince turned into one terrified shriek as the sudden change in direction caused him to lose his grip and tumble off of his mount's back, plummeting towards the crystal-filled waters below.
The young prince kept falling as the two rushed by with the momentum of their race, and he struggled to keep his limbs in. Having been trained in riding the magical steed as a small boy, Prince Gumball knew not to panic and flail around should he fall. His heart was thumping in his chest, but he managed to suck in a breath before the cold waters knocked it out again. The chilly lake surrounded his body and the cold paralyzed him such that his arms could only drift up and break the surface. As soon as his fingers touched the open air, he felt the cold wrap around them again, but this time the pressure of the frigid air was more intense . He struggled to open his eyes. Looking through to rushing bubbles about him, Gumball saw a figure hovering above, somehow suspended over the lake. The figure grabbed the candy man and drew away, dragging him with it. Coughing as his lungs had clenched from the bitterness of the chilled air, he squinted past the water in his eyes to see the vampire king, floating above him, and in Gumball's own, like a dark angel of the night.
"Hey, you ok, PG? Breathe, dude."
The only response he could come up with was to cough, slamming his eyes shut and trying to force the water out of his lungs. Before he could completely clear his lungs, there was solid ground under Gumball's back, and he immediately rolled over on to his hands and knees and clutched his chest. There was a hand on his back, patting his torso and helping to expel the water from his lungs. When finally a mouthful of liquid came up, the prince looked over his shoulder, meeting Marshall's worried eyes.
The older male was quiet, all of his joy gone with his blatant concern. Circling overhead was the third of their party, who then landed behind Marshall only to nose past him. Lord Monochromicorn brought his face to his charge's, nuzzling him frantically to apologize. The vampire sighed and waited his turn, knowing that Lord over him had more right to soothe and worry over the Candy Kingdom's ruler.
Gumball wrapped his arms around the stallion's muzzle, nosing the unicorn back in a way that showed the animal he was forgiven.
"It's alright Mo-cro, I know you didn't mean to. I should have been holding on better." Lord Monochromicorn snorted sullenly, and nuzzled his charge's soaking-wet belly apologetically. The pink teen buried his face in the grey mane affectionately, petting a hand down the unicorn's muscular neck.
Behind the scene, Marshall puffed out his cheeks and watched the pair. He was glad that Gumball was alright. It made him happy, but still watching the two of them made him sour. He wished he had the right to be over there, soothing the prince after such a frightening fall, but, of course, it wasn't his place. He wasn't as close to the prince as his loyal companion was, and that's why it wasn't strange at all for Lord to be so affectionate. If he would do that the moment would be altogether broken
What am I thinking, Marshall growled t himself. Just drop it. He's fine. He doesn't want you babying him
he doesn't need you.
While he was busy pouting, Marshall had let his attention stray from the prince and lead into his own thoughts. Suddenly there were sodden arms wrapped around his shoulders as Gumball embraced him quickly.
"Thank you very much for saving me from the water!"
Suddenly a rush of heat came to Marshall Lee's face, making his cheeks turn a strange pinkish hue under his bluish flesh. His hands came up over to cover his companion's back, thanking whatever force let him have his way, if only for a moment. But, soon, the almost-intimate moment was turned friendly as the unicorn too thanked the king, walking to face Marshall and lick his still damp hair, praising his valiant efforts. Marshall Lee smiled and patted Lord's snout.
"That was a very daring act." With that, the prince drew away with a smile, holding the vampire at a full arm's length and grinning at him. Gumball's face softened and he blinked at the vampire with glad, purple eyes. "I didn't realize you were the heroic type
So much like Fionna." The pink teen sat back, putting a little more distance between them and pulling his knees underneath himself. As the initial shock of nearly drowning began to fade, so did the heat of adrenaline, allowing the seeping cold of the icy water soaking through his clothes to his gummy skin, making the prince begin to shiver. "H-have you ever considered h-helping me out every n-now and again? I mean with adventure s-stuff
You could be my go-to guy for when Ice Queen attacks at night and stuff
He understood the notion, but frowned at the thought.
"Nah, I don't think I could be someone's lackey. Not really my style." He saw the disappointment of the young prince, and in turn touched his knee softly. "Hey, I didn't mean I won't be around. I just do my own thing, ya know?"
"Yeah, I understand," Gumball nodded, "but an adventurer isn't anyone's lackey
it j-just means that I would be able to count on you when I'm in a pinch
I-I can count on you
right, Marshall?" The prince wrapped shaky arms around his own knees and drew them towards his chest in an attempt to keep his bodily center warm despite the chilly waters that soaked his entire outfit. "I m-mean
we are friends
The vampire had been crouching on the now damp ground, but such a question knocked him back onto his seat.
I'd like to think so, but I didn't know." He looked away and rubbed his right arm. "I didn't think you'd want to be my friend, PG, cause I'm
spooky and stuff."
Taken aback, the prince looked up, his brow furrowing as if to say he didn't exactly like what he was hearing.
"Well, duh, I think you're s-spooky! You're a thousand-year-old blood-drinker with f-fire-breathing-m-monster-bat powers
But that doesn't mean I don't think you're n-nice too." Gumball tilted his head to the side and smiled, despite the fact that he was beginning to shiver. "I feel like I've gotten to know the less-spooky s-side of you these p-past few days
a-and I'm glad f-for it."
Marshall nodded, and before the prince had realized his friend had moved, the vampire had crawled over to him and placed his hands over his wet arms. The night king began rubbing his cold limbs, not affected by the cold himself. Marshall Lee smiled and ignored the growing blush on Gumball's face.
The pink teen blinked and smiled sheepishly at the vampire, appreciating the gesture as his arms started to warm a little.
"T-thanks Marshall," he stuttered through chattering teeth, "s-so I take it that means we're friends?"
His smile grew to the question and the night-walker scooted away to gather a knot of sticks that had collected at the side of the lake, snapping his fingers a few times like a misfiring lighter until a tiny flame burned from his pointer. He lit the bramble and scooted away, patting next to him to beckon his new friend.
Standing, Gumball walked over to the spot being reserved for him, but before he sat, he peeled the sodden sweatshirt off of himself, revealing a purple T-shirt underneath. He twisted the pink hoodie and wrung some of the water out, shaking it harshly and laying it aside before squatting beside the growing fire next to the vampire. Still holding his knees, the prince sighed, enjoying the feeling as the fire began to warm his chilled cheeks.
Not to be upstaged, Lord Monochromacorn joined the boys, bringing his body behind them to lie down and keep their warmth in. Gumball sighed happily and leaned back into his steed's warm belly, and even Marshall, after some time, relaxed and leaned into the stallion. Lord sighed happily and laid his head down, letting the royal bodies and fire warm his own coat and lull him off into a nap. Back to a private moment, Marshall sat beside the bubblegum man and rubbed his own jeans, trying to dry them with friction alone.
" Gumball looked up at the sky awkwardly before looking out onto the glistening lake. The light of the mostly-full moon shone down onto the gigantic gems which scattered the moonbeams in all directions, making the whole body of water seem as if it was glowing with lunar radiance. "Have you ever heard the legend of the Crystal Lake before?"
I've heard a lot of legends before, but I don't think so. Go ahead," Marshall muttered, picking a few strings that hung from the edge of his torn pants.
"Well, you've heard about the Monochromicorn-Cat Wars at least, right?" Gumball waited until the vampire gave him a slow, curious nod before he continued with the story. "Well, the monochromicorns and the cats were fighting over the right to inhabit the Crystal Dimension, right? And there used to be a portal there, right here where the lake is now." The prince glanced up to make sure his mount was still dozing before he continued speaking of the lord's tender heritage. "Well, the battle for the portal grew so fierce that the gateway collapsed. The myth is that the magic that was holding the portal open turned into the purest water in the world, and when the portal closed, crystals as big as sky-scrapers shot out in all directions as if trying to sustain the connection between the two worlds
" Gumball motioned with his hands to show how the massive gems would have sprung from the portal, never once removing his eyes from the crystalline waters of the glistening lake. "But the door between our dimension and the Crystal dimension was closed forever."
"Whoa," Marshall Lee whispered, having tilted over to his companion as he recited the tale. He was leaning on his hand towards the youth, listening carefully and watching his various motions towards the mesmerizing lake. He had to admit the waters were picturesque and the crystals only added to the magic of the scene.
"Yeah," Gumball's voice suddenly grew quiet and he looked down at his feet, "a lot of people died on both sides in that battle
so I guess the lake has a sad kind of beauty." He suddenly looked up, forcing himself to smile a little which always helped ease his mind at least a little. "But it reminds us that pettiness only leads to tragedy
"I guess so," the other, knowing the somberness of death all too well. "Life's too short for most people to be fighting with people you don't like. You should hang with the people you love instead."
" Noticing the subdued mood that had come over Marshall's face, the pink teen put his hand reassuringly on his friend's shoulder. "But what's in the past is behind us. We should stay in the present and enjoy the view." With a smile spreading across his lips, the prince pointed out across the lake where a sudden, tiny flash caught Marshall's eye. The undead teen sat up and peered out across the lake, just in time to see another, and another. Gradually the little blinks of light grew more numerous out across the Crystal Lake until the whole surface was reflecting a multitude of little flashes.
He sat there, staring at the lights until they came closer, Gumball smiled contently as the twinkling grew brighter. Marshall had leaned forward so much that he rolled to his knees, kneeling out towards the shore to see past the light of the fire. The tiny dots of light would disappear for only a moment before relighting a few inches away, and he smiled as a few flew around the fire to join their little group. The first of the little light-bugs landed on Marshall's outstretched hand, scurrying up his finger to blink twice before flying off again.
Prince Gumball grinned and chuckled as more of the little insects floated around them, alighting on their shoulders, heads and hands. The pink teen couldn't help but laugh as one of the lightning bugs perched on Marshall's nose, causing the vampire to cross his eyes to see the tiny creature.
"So what do you think? You like the quartz-flies?"
Marshall wrinkled his nose and eventually blew off the tiny bug.
"They're cute, but what makes them different than fireflies?" He took his hand and brought it to his face, watching three of the insects crawl over his digits and glow, fluttering their petite wings.
"Take a good look at the tails," Gumball replied, capturing one of the bugs between his hands and holding it up to the vampire. "They're made completely out of quartz because they feed on the crystals that grow out of Crystal Lake." He grinned as Marshall leaned in and peered at the quartz-fly in his friend's hands. "They light up like fireflies because when quartz is bent, it gives off light."
Cool." The nocturnal king touched the bug, pressing against its hard body. "No wonder you can't squish them easily." Brushed the quarts-flies from his side, Marshall carefully leaned towards Gumball, pressing against his side to watch the prince's handling of the tiny stone flies.
The prince shrugged a little until he got comfortable with the other boy's closeness, cupping his hands to block out the light of the fire and allowing them both to peek at the little bug he'd caught. The quartz-fly blinked its butt, wiggling his little crystal posterior at the pair. Gumball giggled and opened his hands, letting the bug go free.
Letting the warmth of the fire and his friend's body lull him, Marshall Lee smiled lazily and laid his head down, pressing into Gumball's shoulder as the crystal flies fluttered, trying to settle on a perch.
"So... do you come here often, Bubba?"
"A lot more often than you'd think," the prince replied with a soft smile. "It's quiet and peaceful here. It's an excellent place to clear your mind when you're feeling stressed or uncertain." Gumball shrugged and leaned back against his unicorn's flank with a contented sigh, folding his hands across his lap. "Don't you have someplace you go to clear your head when you're feeling down, Marshall?"
He thought for a moment, lying against the prince, pondering all the places in Aaa and beyond what he had claimed as his property. Plenty of them were only his 'thinking spots', but as time elapsed they had faded away or were destroyed. But he grinned at the current location he had found the most peace at.
"The forests. They're so quiet, yet alive at night. I really like your gumdrop one. The sugar bats are so fun to watch." He reached out and let another of the solid bugs land on his hand. "They look so menacing, but they're pretty harmless."
The pink teen closed his eyes and folded his hands behind his head, letting it all soak in. The warmth of the fire had dried his clothing and warmed his body, and the beauty of the Crystal Lake and the quartz-flies dazzled his imagination, but none of these senses were as strong as the feeling of the other body leaning against him. He wasn't sure what exactly what to make of it, the incredible closeness was nothing he was used to, but at the same time it was a good kind of closeness, like the reassurance of kindness from a friend. As far from his comfort zone as it took him, he allowed Marshall to lay with his head against the prince's shoulder.
"The forests are nice here
when you've got someone with you to keep it from being so spooky."
"Whatever, I make them spooky," the king whispered.
The night passed as the two of them lounged together, watching the tiny lights twinkle and dance in the air around them. After some time the pair readjusted, equally leaning against each other as they played with the bugs and spoke more of their world and lives. Before they drifted off too far into their own world the skies brightened to a dull pink, and the carefree mood subtlety slipped into anxiety. The vampire knew he had to leave but struggled to fight against his want to stay.
ought to get going." The prince took a hold of the vampire's shoulder, shaking him gently. "You don't have to go home if you don't want
you can come to the castle and help me start decorating for the hootenanny
but you can't stay here
" Gumball's eyes were beginning to grow heavy, but still, he forced a smile onto his lips. "Either way, we ought to make haste."
Sitting up unhappily, Marshall stretched and stomped on the dying fire, now only a few embers left.
you need sleep and I need to get a costume. Don't know what I'm doing yet, so I have to have some time away from you." He grinned. "I want it to be a surprise."
The vampire extended his hand down, offering to help the prince up, and the younger accepted, grasping Marshall's wrist and letting the blue-skinned teen pull him to his feet. Gumball stretched and yawned widely, arching his stiff back and rubbing his eyes.
"Yeah, I can ah live with that
" The prince turned and scrambled onto Lord Monochromicorn's back, grasping the stallion's silver mane and forcing a tired smile. The unicorn curled his lips in a wide yawn as he staggered to his feet, lifting his charge as well. "I'll see you at the party then
" He paused, looking up to meet the undead teen's eyes; "oh, and Marshall
thanks for hanging out with me tonight."
As the tired eyes of the prince began to close, Marshall Lee sighed and fluffed Prince Gumball's hair, leaning close so he didn't have to strain.
"Anytime, GumGum. Sleep well, ok?" Without an answer he looked to the other flyer, nodding respectfully to him. "You take care of him, alright? No more dropping him."
The black stallion snorted curtly and took off, balancing out so as not to repeat his horrifying mistake twice. The king watched the pair ride off towards the coming sun, making his heart lurch at the reminder of his need to hurry. Ducking through trees and random people, he made his way at the last second to his cave home, slipping into his house just as the first rays stung skin. I have got to stop cutting it so close, the vampire thought.
When finally Lord Monochromicorn dropped off his tired charge at his bedroom window, dawn was breaking, stretching long shafts of light across the land like liquid gold. The prince yawned and stretched, noting the beginning of the day and the checklist he'd left lying on his bed the night before. With eyes blurred from fatigue, Gumball could barely make out his own handwriting, and just as he'd decided to try and muddle through decorating the great hall before catching a quick nap in the afternoon, he found his face buried in pink, satin sheets. Being awake for nearly 29 hours straight had finally taken its toll on the royal teen's taxed mind and he simply fainted, sprawled half on his bed.
When Gumball was late to rise, Peppermint Maid came to check up on the prince, finding him in a disheveled state of transition between his night activities and sleep. At first the servant was afraid something ill had befallen the kingdom's only remaining royalty, but upon further inspection, she found him to only be dreaming, his body and mind both too tired for anything more. With a sigh, Peppermint Maid's face softened and she gently adjusted the slumbering body, lifting the prince into his bed and removing his shoes before tucking him in. She closed the curtains to cloak Gumball's room from the rising sun so the exhausted young man could slumber in peace before quietly shutting the door behind herself.