eb's au

London’s Calling

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Chapter Nine: Cracks 

Word Count: 3258

☏ ☏ ☏ ☏

“So that’s it?”

“I’m sorry.”

“Me too.”

It’s a strong statement to say both teens are to blame for what happened. Blame isn’t really the right word, even though both Riley and Lucas are at fault for what transpired the day they called quits on their friendship. Everyone involved believed that their actions were the right thing to do. But, that’s getting ahead of ourselves. 

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anonymous asked:

any headcanons of lavi, tyki, and allen when they're jealous of their crush, but haven't even confessed to them yet?

Phew~Finally got the time to sit down and do this. Gearing up for the other requests. 

Sorry about the weird headcanon-scenario-ish format though. 


Lavi

✤ He was somehow everywhere you went. Well, except for bathrooms and rooms cause that would be absolutely awkward. But you would always bump into him around and about. He’s stubbornly claiming it’s a coincidence but he knows that he’s lying.

✤ It had been quite a long time since the two of you met and it was getting harder and harder to avoid the feeling he gets when he sees you or when he’s near you. 

✤ It was like a delicious forbidden fruit that keeps whispering him to take a bite. 

✤ He couldn’t. He wouldn’t. But he absolutely wants to. 

✤ The feeling absolutely astounds him. He had thought that he had locked up his feelings long ago but you were unravelling it thread by thread just like his friends at the Black Order. 

✤ So in the end he accepted the fact that he loves you but he was still on the fence on making a move. It was a big decision. One that could get them both in trouble, especially with Bookman. 

✤ So he was content with just watching you afar and talking to you every chance he got…until he saw someone flirting with you and you flirting back. (He was confused, were you flirting or were you being kind and courteous kind of flirting? But it really hurt him that you were treating this person with the same treatment as him.)

✤  He almost want to walk away. But then you caught sight of him, “Lavi? Is that you?” He had no choice to backtrack and walk up to you, pulling on a cheery face and rubbing the back of his neck even when his chest felt painfully light and his heart wavering. 

✤ The other person gave him a once over and (for that moment, Lavi felt uncomfortably bare) a triumphant smirk grew on the person’s lips. It was almost as if they felt that he was no competition and for some reasons Lavi did not like that. 

✤ Especially when that person stepped closer to you in front of him. Lavi’s smile tightened. It was just a step, he would deal with it, wait, they’re reaching out their hand to brush your shoulders and your ears while complimenting your ear piercings? Oh hell no. 

✤ Lavi grabbed your hands pulling you away, “Hey__________, I have something interesting to show you.” The other person tried to protest “Welp, it was nice meeting you.” And the two of you were gone. 

✤ It was around then when he decided to confide his feelings for you. Whether you accept him or not, it was your choice. 


Tyki

✥ He had his eye on you always. Whether he’s reading or crossing the hallways or from windows, his eyes seem to search for you like opposite poles of the magnet.

✥ He always catch himself whenever he did that, almost alarmed by the growing feeling in his chest. It was warm, like the feeling he had when he spent his days his three human buddies but this was different. It was mildly uncomfortable like he had reached down into his own heart and squeezed it.

✥ He had talked to you once or twice, all in teasing terms and before he knew it, he was lingering more and more and became a constant in your life. 

✥ But he dare not declare his feelings for you but let it slip out in doses of affections from winks to teasing remarks, all which you brushed off as merely jokes. And it secretly vexes him. 

✥ But nothing vexes him more than standing there and watching as you stood there laughing with another person. 

✥ His blood was practically boiling as that person (with obvious intentions) reached out to brush your hair from your face. 

✥ “Tyki?” Before he had even realised it, he was there right next to you, with one arm over your shoulder and the other hand tightly gripping the person’s wrist. He glare was sharp and blazing, “Would you mind keeping your hands off what’s mine?” 

✥ Your suitor would be flustered and run off stuttering. 

✥ Tyki let them go even if his entire instinct was hell bent one causing bodily harm on the suitors. 

✥ The worst part was that it kept happening over and over again. He knows that you’re attractive in your own little way (you charming little thing) and it pleases him that others likes you too but can they stop trying to hunt his prey? (You were already his, you just haven’t realised it yet.) 

✥ And every single time he rescued you, you would always brush it off as something a friend will do. 

✥ But this time he had enough. 

✥ When you laughed, his fingers wrapped around your chin, the tips brushing against your cheeks and a smirk curling at the edges of his lips. “Will a friend do this?” He closed the distance between your lips. 


Allen

✦ He had met you years ago. And he’s still astounded by your ability to show your kindness despite how dark people can be. When the going gets tough, he kind of thought back to you and how you grit your teeth and go through it with patience, and he felt like he could get through this too. 

✦ He tries to show up whenever he could which was not often but you always send him a welcoming smile that made him feel as if he was home. He realised, that you were his home. 

✦ And the the 14th happened. It was a blow to him and everything he stand for vanished leaving him lost in the haze of confusion. In that spilt moment, he had ditched Link and went to seek you out. 

✦ But you weren’t there in the place the two of you usually meet. Uncomfortable emptiness filling his hollow chest. He didn’t want to give up yet. He didn’t want to go back to the Order yet, where eyes roam towards him with varying mixture of pity, wariness and fear. 

✦ He went around town, searching through the shops and the crowds, hoping to catch side of you. Just when he was about to give up, he spotted you. Joy flickered to life in his chest as he pushed forward, getting closer to your silhouette with every step. 

✦ “_____-” His voice died in his throat as he caught sight of another figure standing too close to you, with arms wrapping around your waist. The ache intensified as the two of you giggled. 

✦ Normally, he would feel a dark prickly feeling of annoyance building on the inside and would smoothly slipped into the situation, separating anyone that tried to get handsy with you. 

✦ But today wasn’t a normal day. He only felt a thousand needles punctured his bleeding heart as realisation after realisation slammed into him like a thousand bricks. 

✦ You were better off without him. A person that could die at any time, a person that couldn’t be with you all around the clock and a person that may have a monster trapped in his body and a person that probably didn’t have a future. 

✦ These bitter realisations sat at the base of his throat as tears pricked at the edges of his eyes, brimming but never falling. In that moment, he almost wished that he was normal, like that person. So that he could be by your side always, so he could laugh with you, so that he could…confess without feeling guilty. You didn’t deserve him, you deserve them. 

✦ “Allen?” You were suddenly in front of him, he could barely see through the wall of tears, “Are you alright?” 

✦ He tried to muster a smile. He couldn’t even do that properly. The tears start falling. “Oh my god, Allen, you’re crying. Here.” You reached out with your handkerchief, wiping away blobs teetering at the corner of his eyes and the angry trails down his cheeks. 

✦ He realised that he never want to see you in the arms of another. 

✦ He gripped your wrist gently, warmth spreading into his clammy hands and by an act of pure selfishness, the words “I love you.” tumbled from his lips. 

9

                        ~*Follow along with the song here!*~

THE FLAME KING

 Aight so flame king, ‘King’ of the Fire Kingdom, the most violent and short tempered group of arsonists in the mob. The Fire kingdom was built from the ground up lead by the flame king and a posse of rag tag buddies. Now a days the Fire kingdom is more modern and a force to be reckoned with. Equipped with flamethrowers and gasoline, and tons of matches, lighters, and other explosive weapons, they encourage their kids to play with fire. The King has sheltered his daughter in their underground hide away for years until she ran off, and he has been searching for her with full intent to drag her back and continue to raise her to be a fearless and ruthless leader. The burns on his forehead represent power.

Allies: FP (on/off)

Enemies: Billy, The Lich, Finn and Jake, Separate divisions  

AT "Gangland" AU: Enough

(This fic is based on therebemorefoolery’s “Gangland” version of Adventure Time. Check out her art and KKGlinka’s fic set in this world too! Aside from helping this fic make more sense, they’re just great. :) )

 “Thank you for your help, Doctor,” Bonnibel said as she gathered up her papers from her colleague’s desk. “I think your suggestions might be just what I need to make some progress for my patient.”

“Well, I certainly hope it works,” Dr. Princeze sighed as she stood to walk Bonnibel out of her office. “And if you do have any success, let me know. I can always use some good news.”

“Can’t we all?” Bonnibel agreed wearily.

 “This is a tough business, but we all do the best we can,” Princeze assured her. Her voice, though, had a slight flatness, as if the words were more an oft-repeated hope than a philosophy she truly believed anymore. “Are you all right to find your way out?”

“Yes, I’m fine. Thank you again.”

We certainly do our best, Bonnibel mused as she walked through the halls of the St. Grod Mental Recovery Center. While they had dropped the word “institution” from their name a few years ago in an attempt to be more welcoming and politically correct, the inside of the building could not be upgraded so quickly or cheaply. The technology at their disposal and manner of their staff certainly were better now than previous decades, but many of their resources were still at the mercy of an ever-tightening budget and all the redecorating they could afford couldn’t fully mask the fact that the facility was a prettified asylum. Granted the patients were treated with far more consideration than those unfortunate souls once locked away in forgotten buildings, but she suspected just as many were considered “out of sight, out of mind” by the outside world. And their chances of re-entering society were probably not much better despite the modern era.

Sometimes, the best they could do still didn’t feel like enough.

Bonnibel was so lost in these morose thoughts that she barely noticed the familiar figure signing something at the front desk. Stopping, she did a double-take to be sure.

“Marceline?”

The dark-haired woman looked over in surprise, her posture clearly ready to bolt. Bonnibel pushed away the twinge in her heart to see her reacting like a scared animal, as well as the regret that Marceline still watched her with suspicion rather than returning the smile Bonnibel gave her.

“Oh, hey, Bonnie. What are you doing here?”

“Consulting with a friend. I have a particularly difficult patient and she has dealt with similar ailments in the past. I thought her input could be valuable.” Bonnibel walked slightly away from the front desk so Marceline would feel less observed as they talked quietly. “But I admit I’m surprised to see you here. Are you all right?”

“Yeah, I’m good,” Marceline said, looking around evasively. “Just taking care of something.”

Bonnibel glanced back at the front desk to see the receptionist straightening out a stack of crumpled dollars from the counter before scraping the pile of varied coins into her hands. A dark fear came over her.

“Marcy, you know if you ever need anything, you can come by my clinic. Medications are closely tracked, but we can provide other help—”

Marceline’s eyes snapped to Bonnibel’s, hard as the bulletproof glass doors behind them. “I don’t use and I don’t deal. Thought you knew that.”

Bonnibel immediately regretted saying anything. “You’re right. I’m sorry. I just understand that times get desperate…”

The other woman snorted, giving Bonnibel a bitter smirk as she started stepping away. “I’m fine and I’m not doing anything illegal, so don’t worry. See ya ‘round, Bonnie.”

“Marceline, wait!” It had taken many months and a knife wound to build up what rocky trust existed with Marceline, and she wasn’t about to let it be broken over one misjudgment. Especially since the light through the glass doors put the homeless woman in stark silhouette. Marceline had put away her habitual oversized army jacket in concession to the summer heat and the tank top and jean shorts she wore made her undernourished condition even more obvious.

Thankfully, Marceline did pause, allowing Bonnibel to approach her apologetically.

“Please, allow me to make it up to you. I have a two-for-one coupon for lunch at a place down the street. The food doesn’t reheat well and I hate for a meal to go to waste. Would you let me get you lunch?”

Marceline considered her offer dubiously. Bonnibel knew how she felt about taking charity, so she had phrased the suggestion carefully. Marceline clearly still wanted to flee back to the streets, but Bonnibel could almost feel her hunger from where she stood.

Finally, Marceline rolled her eyes. “Fine, whatever.”

Bonnibel smiled and lead her to the door. As they stepped out into the baking heat, Bonnibel winced, wanting to put on her sunglasses, but she knew Marceline had none, so she squinted and put up with the glare off the windows lining the streets. The neighborhood that both the St. Grod’s facility and Bonnibel’s own Candy Kingdom children’s hospital inhabited was, by many people’s standards, “rough”, though Bonnibel knew from the stories Finn told there were far more dangerous parts of town to be in. Still, the businesses on this block barred their windows at night and eyed any loiterers warily by day.

As they walked, Marceline still hunched her shoulders as if huddling a coat around herself. Her long blanket of hair substituted adequately, hanging around much of her form and, Bonnibel noted, blocking her face from the view of traffic. She wondered how often people in expensive black cars with tinted windows had taken too much interest in Marceline over the years.

Bonnibel knew her own pink-dyed hair made her stand out in any crowd, but it especially set her apart from the working-class employees toiling inside, the businessmen and women hurrying about on their lunch breaks, and the denizens of the street passing among them with quick hands and dangerous eyes.

Because she was looking, she noticed a young man skateboarding by focus on her purse, then glance at Marceline and quickly continue on his way. Peeking over at her companion, Bonnibel noticed that not only were the two thin scars on Marceline’s neck visible, but the cut of the tank top left the red axe tattoo on the back of her shoulder clearly visible around the edge of her hair. Apparently enough people in this area knew her reputation to decide it wasn’t worth risking trouble.

When they arrived at a café only two blocks from the Candy Kingdom, Bonnibel said, “Here we go. This all right for you?”

“It’s your coupon,” Marceline replied.

Bonnibel nearly blinked in confusion before recalling the fib she had told to get Marceline to agree to the free meal. “Right. I think you’ll like it. The chicken pita is always good.”

As they entered, the host smiled at her as he picked up a menu, then frowned angrily as his gaze continued past her shoulder.

“Hey!” he snapped at Marceline. “I thought I told you to quit bothering our customers! Go find somewhere else to beg or I will call the police this time!”

“Excuse me!” Bonnibel retorted before Marceline had a chance to react. She crossed her arms and squared her shoulders, fixing him with a gaze that had sent many an incompetent tech or negligent nurse running to seek employment elsewhere. “We are customers here to have lunch at your establishment. Unless you’d rather we take our business to one of your competitors? After having a lengthy conversation with your manager, of course.”

The host gave her a quick look up and down as he cleared his throat, then picked up a second menu. “Of course. Right this way, ma’am.”

He led them in to a booth in a quiet corner of the cafe. “If you will. Your server will be right with you.”

As Marceline brushed past him to slide into the seat, she muttered to him, “I don’t beg. I play.”

Bonnibel had to hold back a satisfied smirk lest it ruin the effect of her imperious expression.

When the host hurried off, Marceline gave her a wry glance. “You realize he’s going to have everyone spit in our food now, right?”

Bonnibel unrolled her silverware from her napkin and smoothed the cloth on her lap calmly. “I’m up-to-date on my immunizations. And I suspect your immune system is better versed in local germ cultures than my pathology lab.”

Marceline snorted a small laugh as she sorted out her silverware and Bonnibel decided that even if the food turned out to be inedible, this trip was already worth it.

A waiter came up a bit more hurriedly than was probably customary. “Good afternoon, ladies.” Bonnibel caught his slight hesitation before using the word ‘ladies’, but chose to let it slide. “My name is Jason and I’ll be serving you today. Can I get you something to drink?”

“Sweet tea is fine, thank you.”

“Same,” Marceline said.

“I’ll have those right out.”

As the waiter walked off, Marceline scooted off her end of the booth. “I’m gonna go wash up,” she explained before Bonnibel could protest. “Just my hands,” she added to the waiter who had hesitated nearby as soon as she rose, wiggling her fingers demonstratively as she passed.

Bonnibel turned her focus to the menu until she became aware that the waiter had stepped discreetly over to the table. “Yes?”

“Not to intrude, but I felt I should warn you about the young lady with you. She’s a nuisance around this area and might be dangerous as well. I’m not sure if she sold you a sob story to get a meal, but there are places for people like her instead of bothering honest, hard-working folks like yourself.”

“Is that so?” Bonnibel leaned her chin on her hand, tapping her jaw with one finger. “Well, that young lady is a friend of mine who is here by my invitation. Oh, and I can assure you there are places for people like you too, but I think you’d be very unpleasantly surprised if you ever wound up in one. I’ll take lemon in my tea if you have it.”

As the waiter walked away, she decided if that didn’t earn her a mucosal supplement in her meal, nothing would.

Marceline glanced at the watchful wait staff as she returned to the table. “What did you say now?”

“Nothing.” Bonnibel didn’t even look up from her menu. “You know, I was going to get the chicken pita, but now that club sandwich is sounding good.”

The waiter arrived again, placing their glasses of tea on the table.

Marceline flashed him a huge grin. “Thanks, Jason.”

He managed a pained-looking smile in return before directing his attention to Bonnibel. “Have you decided what you would like?”

“I’ll have the club sandwich with a side Caesar salad.”

“Very good. And for you?” he turned back to Marceline with all the enthusiasm of a babysitter realizing their charge’s diaper was full.

“Make it two,” she said, handing back the menu.

“Yes, ma’am. I’ll have those salads right out for you.”

When they were alone again, Bonnibel frowned slightly. “You didn’t have to get the same thing I got.”

“Two-for-one deal, remember?” Marceline pointed out.

Embarrassment flooded Bonnibel for forgetting that detail in her lie. She should have ordered something more filling with a higher fat content. “I’m sorry, I forgot. I should have asked you what you wanted.”

“It’s your lunch.”

Bonnibel sighed, knowing it was worthless to argue further. Still, she decided to be sure that this ‘coupon’ included dessert before letting Marceline leave.

“So, no guitar today?” she commented as Marceline tasted her tea, then took a couple deep swigs from it.

“Stashed it,” she said, wiping her mouth on her napkin. “I’ll play later for the after-work rush. Had to take care of some business first.”

“Business which is none of mine, I assume,” Bonnibel ventured.

Marceline shrugged, stirring the ice in her tea to avoid eye contact.

Bonnibel decided there would be time to lure more information out of her when the meal was further along. “The kids have really enjoyed your visits the last few months.”

Marceline smiled now, crooked, but genuine. “Yeah, they’re a pretty cool audience. I’m gonna have to learn some more songs to keep up with them.” Her smile fell away. “Noticed we were missing a few from the last time.”

Bonnibel fiddled with her fork grimly. “Yeah.”

Marceline caught her eyes, her own filled with sincere regret. “Bonnie. I’m sorry.”

She had to look away so the other woman didn’t see the tears trying to form. “We just do our best.” It came out as more of an apology than she expected.

“Look, Jason’s back!” Marceline crowed suddenly, overly exuberant. “Thanks, Jason!”

The waiter didn’t say a word as he dropped off their salads, but his look could have withered the lettuce.

“He’s going to poison us,” Bonnibel groaned, hiding her face in her hand.

“Hey, you dug this hole,” Marceline retorted, picking up her fork. “I just plan to have some fun on the way down.”

Bonnibel shook off her regrets and tried to take the advice she gave many of her patients’ families: live in the moment instead of mourning the past or the future.

She noticed the impeccable table manners that Marceline’s father had drilled into her were on full display today. She wondered if it wouldn’t have been better to take Marceline somewhere more private so she could eat with the urgency she no doubt felt, but the woman seemed to be taking a separate pleasure in confounding the waiters’ expectations yet again. Bonnibel supposed there were all kinds of creature comforts that helped people get through the day.

“You seen Finn much lately?” Marceline asked.

“He comes in at least once a week to visit the kids. But he doesn’t hang around quite as much as he used to. I understand he’s spending time with a new lady friend lately.” Lady and some of the others at the Candy Kingdom liked to tease Bonnibel about no longer being the focus of Finn’s adolescent crush, but in truth she missed his presence and innocence around the clinic more than his attention.

Marceline shook her head, grinning slightly. “Yeah, how ‘bout that? Who would’ve thought Finn would hook up with the Flame Princess?”

Bonnibel’s brow furrowed slightly at the thought of Finn ‘hooking up’ with anyone, daughter of a violent gangboss or not, but she reminded herself he was fourteen now, not the child who had first starting hanging around her clinic after his father’s murder. It was only a few years now before he could apply for the police academy himself. “Do you know her?”

“Not really.” Marceline frowned. “I heard about her sometimes, back in the day,” she said carefully. Bonnibel was aware Marceline’s father was head of the Nightosphere gang, which had tentacles in many aspects of the city. Her current “off-the-grid” lifestyle was built around keeping anyone from figuring out that relationship and using her, whether gang members or cops.

“There were dealings between her dad and mine,” Marceline continued quietly, pushing the remaining dressing around on her plate. “Turf disputes mostly. Politics. Nobody ever saw her, though. Talk is she’s a psycho, total pyro, but, I mean, they all are, right? She must be pretty cool anyway if Finn’s hanging with her.”

“I imagine so.” Bonnibel had seen the girl briefly at Lady’s veterinary office. Finn had brought her in when her orange tabby, Flambo, had gotten into a fight with an alley cat. Lady said the girl had a clear temper and spent most of the time in the waiting room playing with a lighter, but when she was assured that her cat was fine and would heal on his own, the relief and happiness on her face was as genuine as any child getting her pet back safely.

“She’s lucky she met Finn,” Marceline said with an angry edge to her voice, though still keeping it hushed. “You know her dad kept her locked in her room almost since she was born? Seriously, she never left her house in thirteen years. How messed up is that? I mean, for all the fucked up stuff he does, at least mine didn’t give a shit what I did.”

“Why would he do that?” Bonnibel asked, appalled for the girl’s sake, but also trying not to react to Marceline’s mention of her own father, lest she pull back again. This was the chattiest Bonnibel had ever heard her.

“I’ve heard she’s actually mental and was too dangerous to be loose, but sounds like bullshit. Probably her dad knew it wasn’t a good idea having a little girl around the people he does business with.” She snorted. “He shouldn’t have a kid to begin with. You know how those burn scars on their foreheads are signs of rank, right? You don’t think she got that by accident?”

Bonnibel remembered the discolored, shiny mark on the girl’s head, but had thought nothing of it at the time, given her gang’s proclivity to fire. But what Marceline was implying turned her stomach and made her wish Child Protective Services had the guts to intervene with mob families, though she suspected that was the least of what went on in those secretive homes.

“Well, then I’m extra glad Finn’s mother is allowing her to stay with them,” she said instead.

“Brave woman,” Marceline muttered.

Bonnibel rested her chin on her steepled fingers, thinking. “Apparently her father knows exactly where she is. I wonder why he hasn’t made a move to bring her back? It can’t look good for the leader of a gang to not have control over his own daughter.”

Marceline looked up at her, closed-off eyes indicating she was fully aware how loaded Bonnibel’s question was. She drew patterns in her salad bowl, choosing her words carefully. “Maybe he’s biding his time, planning something big. Maybe he thinks having someone on the inside with Finn could pay off later. Maybe he actually wants her to be happy.” Her tone of voice conveyed how likely she figured that option was. “Or maybe he figures she’ll come running back when she sees how tough it really is on your own.”

Jason came back with their sandwiches and they immediately dropped the conversation. Both girls focused their attentions on the meal for a time. Bonnibel tried to take advantage of Marceline’s distraction to give the woman a clinical assessment. She had healed well from the knife wound she had received to her ribs the previous winter and it didn’t seem to have left any lingering pain. She was still far too thin and her manners were slipping now that the sandwich was in front of her, but Bonnibel was pleased to see there was no nicotine staining on her fingers, redness in her eyes, or tremors from withdrawal. Beneath the pervading layer of grime that seemed unavoidable in her lifestyle, her skin was pale, but that was more likely an artifact of the recent winter gloom and her nocturnal tendencies than any health issue.

The persistent state of starvation worried Bonnibel, though. She had figured out over the winter that Marceline’s father had the local soup kitchen closed, likely in an effort to flush her out. It seemed she hadn’t found an adequate new resource yet.

“You look like you’re trying to solve some kind of really complicated problem in your head.”

Bonnibel blushed, realizing she was staring. “Oh, sorry. I was just thinking that I’ve seen you play. Not just in the Candy Kingdom, but on the street. You’re good.” Not just good. When she played and sang, she seemed to get lost in the music, eyes closed. As if, for the duration of the song, she was transported away from the streets and troubles, and so were the people who stopped to listen.

Marceline arched an eyebrow at her. “Yeah? Thanks.”

“Your audiences certainly think so too.” It never took long for Marceline to draw a crowd wherever she set up. “You must bring in a pretty good amount of tips.”

Marceline shrugged.

Bonnibel tried to tread carefully into this topic. “You don’t drink or do drugs…”

“Your point?” Marceline snapped, becoming wary.

Bonnibel took a deep breath. “There are a number of fast food places and drugstores around here. I would think a few dollars a day would buy at least one meal.”

Marceline set the remaining piece of her sandwich down, wiping her hands on her napkin, manners returning in force.

“That’s not what I meant!” Bonnibel hurried to add. “Please, go ahead.”

But Marceline had folded back into herself, eyeing Bonnibel darkly. “Then what were you saying?”

Bonnibel sighed. “You know Finn worries about you,” she ventured.

Marcline rolled her eyes. “Finn worries about everybody. Look, I’m fine and how I spend my money is nobody’s damn business.”

“You’re right,” Bonnibel soothed. “I just don’t want Finn to find you passed out in an alley because you had a week of bad tips.”

Marceline frowned, but her eyes softened slightly and looked away. “I’m trying to save up for an apartment, okay?”

“Ah.” Bonnibel nodded. “I didn’t know St. Grod’s rented out rooms.”

Marceline snarled a bit. Clearly probed a nerve there. “Fine, I’m helping out a friend, all right? You happy?”

“A friend?”

Marceline sighed. “Finn ever tell you about Simon?”

“No, not that I recall,” Bonnibel frowned.

She picked at the remnants of her sandwich. “I was about Finn’s age when I ran away from home. It’s a dangerous life for a kid, especially one who’s not used to the streets. I wouldn’t have made it if I hadn’t met Simon. He took me in, gave me a place to stay.”

She saw the expression in Bonnibel’s eyes. “Not like that! He was like a dad to me, nothing else. He was just a good guy who saw a kid in trouble. He’s the one who taught me to play.” She smiled bittersweetly. “Things were pretty good for a while.”

“What happened?” Bonnibel asked gently.

The smile turned sad. “Simon’s got mental issues. Docs say it looks like Alzheimer’s, but with lots of hallucinations. Lives in a total fantasy world most of the time. Set in when he was pretty young too. He used to be engaged, but she couldn’t handle his bad times, I guess, and split.” Her eyes were dark and distant. “It got pretty bad while I was there. He lost his job and I was taking care of him. The money I made playing wasn’t enough to keep the place, so we wound up on the street again.”

The story sounded all too familiar to Bonnibel. She knew people fell through the cracks all the time when their health failed them and they had no family to turn to. Her heart clenched as she thought of the foster children she had cared for and lost herself.

“We tried to make it for a while. When he still had sane times, he tried to join up with the Wizards for protection,” she said, referring to a small-time gang of grifters and con artists, “but he couldn’t keep it together enough to run any cons with them, so they kicked him out. He, um…” She hesitated, pushing back a strand of hair. “As it got worse, he started getting kind of violent. Confused, you know, and mad when stuff didn’t make sense. Started looking for his fiancée, forgetting who I was.” She cleared her throat. “So I saved up and convinced St. Grod’s to take him.” She sniffed, looking away to indicate the story was over.

Bonnibel tried to think of something to say to comfort her. “St. Grod’s is a very good facility. He must be getting good care there.”

Marceline snorted half-heartedly. “There’s no cure. That’s what they say. Did all kinds of tests, but it’s something they’ve never seen before and even what they have seen doesn’t get better. All they can do is keep him out of trouble and comfortable. He’s locked in a fricking room for the rest of his life.”

“It’s better than wandering the streets and risking hurting himself or someone else.” Bonnibel wanted to reach out and touch her hand, but wasn’t sure if Marceline would accept it, so she tried to convey the same gesture with her voice. “You did what was best for him, Marceline. Trust me.”

Marceline dunked a fry in ketchup and ate it absently. “I give them everything I can. I’m all he has. If I stop paying, he’ll be back on the streets and, the way he is now, somebody’ll kill him or he’ll get arrested for harassing women.”

Bonnibel didn’t have to heart to tell her that if the amount she had seen Marceline pay them today was representative of what she could offer, she was probably barely paying for his basic medications, much less his room and board. St. Grod’s, likely, was doing a fair amount of charity work for Simon themselves.

Something Marceline said came back to her. “You said the doctors have never seen whatever’s causing his problems?” she asked.

“Yeah. Figures, huh?”

Bonnibel felt the familiar tingling in the back of her mind at the prospect of a challenge. “Remember when you stayed over at my place last winter?”

“Yeah?” Marceline looked confused by the apparent non sequitor.

“And I mentioned having a lab in there?” She lowered her voice slightly. “Well, not every study I’ve done has been entirely on record, if you know what I mean.”

“You have a freaky secret room in your apartment?” Marceline asked dubiously.

Bonnibel rolled her eyes. “What I mean is, I’ve been known to take on hard-luck cases, off the books. I don’t like to accept the word ‘impossible’. Maybe I’ll try talking to Simon’s doctors, see if there isn’t something we can do to learn more about what’s affecting him.”

Marceline stared at Bonnibel, a spark of hope burning the bitterness out of her eyes. “Seriously? You think there might be a way to help him?”

“We’ll never know until we try. I may have different resources at my disposal than they have at St. Grod’s.”

“God. Bonnie, that would be awesome.” She ran a relieved hand through her hair, laughing slightly. “I’ll try playing a few more places, pick up some extra money during the week—”

Bonnibel was already waving her off. “I will not accept money from you. This is for my own selfish interest too. If I learn how to help him, it will not only help my patients, but raise awareness and grant funding for the Candy Kingdom. Keep your money.”

Jason walked back over to clear their plates. “Can I get you anything else today?”

“Yes,” Bonnibel said, feeling energized with the thrill of a new project. “We’ll each take a slice of your icebox pie. It’s amazing here,” she told Marceline. “Wait till you taste it.”

The waiter bobbed his head dutifully. “Yes, ma’am.”

Marceline arched an eyebrow as he left. “Splurging today?”

“We are celebrating the beginning of a new quest for knowledge,” she said, raising her glass in a toast, “and hopefully a better future for Simon.”

Marceline grinned and tapped her glass to Bonnibel’s. “Hear, hear.”

Bonnibel sipped, then set down her glass, looking very serious and official. “Now, since I know you believe in everything having its cost, I do have one condition to this partnership.”

Marceline’s eyes immediately went guarded and any hint of a smile faded. “What is it?”

“From now on, you keep enough of your earnings to be able to eat two solid meals a day, no matter how much that takes away from what you give St. Grod’s.”

“What?” Marceline frowned. “But—”

Bonnibel held up a hand. “I’ll cover any gaps in Simon’s care to be sure he doesn’t suffer.”

Marceline shook her head. “I can’t take money away from the kids.”

“You won’t. I have my own personal funding beyond the Candy Kingdom’s budget. My private research comes out of my own pocket anyway. Now, do you agree to start eating properly?”

Marceline sneered at her. “You’re not my mother.” Then her eyes flashed apology, clearly remembering suddenly Bonnibel’s inability to bear children of her own. “Sorry, Bon—”

Bonnibel waved her off, pushing her own regret aside to focus on the current conversation. “Maybe I’m not, but I’m the closest thing you have to a doctor, and that is my prescription. Do that and I won’t comment on it ever again.”

When Marceline rolled her eyes, she softened her demeanor slightly, lowering her voice. “After all he did to take care of you as a teenager, do you think Simon would want you to starve yourself for him now?”

Marceline hissed slightly between her teeth, but grumbled, “Fine. As long as you promise they won’t throw him out because I don’t make his rent.”

“Promise.” Bonnibel offered her hand to formally seal the deal.

As they shook on it, their dessert arrived, as well as the bill. Bonnibel pulled out enough money to cover it and leave change for a tip. As Jason took it to break the twenties, Marceline gave Bonnibel a knowing look.

“Forget your coupon?”

Bonnibel cursed herself mentally. She had hoped Marceline would forget that charade by now, but judging by the amusement in the younger woman’s eyes, she wasn’t going to make a fuss about it now. “So I did. Oh well, we’ll just have to use it another time.”

As expected, Marceline let the matter drop as they relished the sweet chocolate and cream of the pie. Belatedly, Bonnibel hoped that this much rich food wouldn’t be a shock to Marceline’s deprived system, but she supposed the other woman would stop eating if she experienced stomach cramps or nausea, and so far she hadn’t slowed down.

Fifteen when she ran away from the Nightosphere. Instead of high school, she’d spent five years living on or around the street, most of those taking care of an old man with dementia. When Bonnibel was twenty, she had been in college, studying medical texts voraciously and dreaming about the work she would do one day as a respected doctor. That dream had included children of her own too, but that was something that had needed to be revised in her plans with one diagnosis from her OB/GYN several years ago. How many of Marceline’s dreams had been forfeited as well when she fled her life in her father’s mob?

“Do you ever think about the future?”

Marceline looked up, curious. “You mean like, will we have flying cars or a zombie apocalypse?”

“I was thinking more of your personal future.”

Marceline shrugged. “Usually just happy to make it to tomorrow.”

Bonnibel smiled slightly, bitterly. That was an aspiration the majority of her patients shared. “I hope to expand the Candy Kingdom, get enough grants to improve our technology, hire more specialists in rare diseases and disorders. Now I plan to figure out Simon’s ailment as well. Are you ever able to think in the long-term?”

Marceline chewed thoughtfully, rounding up pie filling and crumbs with her fork. “Live long enough and bring in enough money to keep Simon comfortable till he…doesn’t need me anymore,” she said carefully. “After that?” She shrugged again.

“No plans for a family? Love?” Bonnibel asked, a bit awkwardly.

Marceline sneered slightly, eyes narrowing. “I hooked up with this punk a few years ago, after Simon got bad. Turned out to be a total psycho asshole. Stuck it out for a long time ‘cause we were bringing in pretty good money together, but I finally decided it wasn’t worth putting up with his shit, especially when he started blowing my share on stupid stuff before I could get it to Simon. He crossed a line, we had a major fight, I kicked his ass and split.” Bonnibel wondered if Marceline knew her fingers were rubbing at her throat as she spoke. Either way, the girl seemed to shake off the memory and continued in a more casual tone. “So, I’m not in a rush to get tied to somebody else, you know? It’s worth being on the streets to be free.”

Bonnibel nodded. “I can understand that.”

“Why the interview?” Marceline asked, giving her a teasing look. “My lifestyle making you sad?”

Bonnibel blushed. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t be intruding, and I’m not judging. It’s just…You’re a talented young woman. You seem to be intelligent, compassionate, willing to work.” She sighed, scooping a new forkful of pie. “It just seems so unfair that you should have to live this way.”

“It is,” Marceline agreed bluntly. “But it beats the alternative.”

“You have no better options?” Bonnibel asked, trying to keep the pity out of her voice out of respect for Marceline’s pride.

Marceline leaned back, the slightly-amused look on her face suggesting she’d had this conversation before. Bonnibel guessed Finn had offered to “save” her a number of times. It had to hurt his heroic nature to be unable to help a friend in such a situation.

“My dad has his fingers in just about every business in this town,” Marceline explained. “But I don’t know exactly which he hasn’t reached, so I don’t know where it’d be safe to apply. Plus, if they’re in with the Fire Kingdom, they might recognize me anyway and kill me or use me for blackmail. I can’t play any gigs bigger than a street corner, because it might get me the wrong kind of attention too.”

“You really think your father would hurt you if he found you?” Bonnibel asked.

“No way!” Marceline snorted. “He wants me to come home! He might punish me for bailing like that, but he’s not gonna kill me. He still wants to force me to take over the Nightosphere when he’s gone.”

“Oh.” Bonnibel’s eyebrows rose, then furrowed in thought. “I know that isn’t what you want to do with your life, but maybe that could be a good thing. If you were in charge, it’s possible you could stop them from being so violent.”

“If I tried that, they’d kill me or run me off again for going soft,” Marceline retorted. “And if it looked like the gang was weaker, the Fire Kingdom would move in and there’d be a gang war, which would be worse than it already is. My dad’s keeping things pretty stable right now, but it’s only because he’s such a bastard nobody wants to mess with him. The only way I’d be able to stay in charge of the gang would be to become just like him. I’d rather starve on the streets.”

She shook her head. “Trust me, Bonnie, I’ve had a lot of time to think about it. It sucks, but it’s my life and my call.”

Bonnibel nodded sadly. “Well, if you ever need anything or decide it’s getting too hard living this way, you know I have the pull-out bed. No ulterior motives.”

Marceline got that bitter half-grin on her face again. “Thanks, Bon, but my dad was willing to shut down a soup kitchen to try to starve me out of hiding. What do you think he’d do to you if you gave me a place to stay?”

Bonnibel finished her pie, feeling the familiar helplessness that plagued her when she realized a patient was beyond her abilities to heal.

“But hey, at least lately I get to play for the kids at your place. That doesn’t suck.”

Bonnibel saw the genuine smile on the younger woman’s face and her mood lightened. Maybe that was enough.

Marceline’s eyes focused past Bonnibel and the smile vanished in fear. “Shit!” She ducked her head, pulling a curtain of hair over so it obscured her face and axe tattoo from the rest of the restaurant.

“What is it?” Bonnibel asked, starting to scan the restaurant.

“Don’t look!” Marceline gestured with her eyes before keeping them trained on her plate. “The guy who just walked in is in with the Nightosphere.”

Bonnibel took a sip of her tea to cover her glance toward the door. The man who had just entered was wearing a polo shirt and pleated jeans, the woman with him a floral dress and sandals. They reminded Bonnibel of her parents out for brunch on a Sunday morning.

“Those are gangsters?” she whispered.

“No, but the dude’s a squealer. He passes on anything he hears to my dad, who makes sure the guy’s store stays open no matter what they’re selling out the back.”

Bonnibel peeked at the man again, wondering how many other seemingly average people she encountered had shady second lives. Suddenly the world felt noticeably darker and more dangerous.

“Sorry, Bonnie, but I’m gonna have to ditch,” Marceline said, eyeing where the couple were being seated. “He recognizes me, I’m screwed.”

“Anything I can do?” Bonnibel asked.

“Nothing. Pretend you don’t know me. Stay out of it.”

Jason brought back their change. Marceline didn’t even look up, much less hassle him again.

“Thank you,” Bonnibel said as he left gratefully. She counted out a moderate tip for him and was beginning to sort out the remaining bills to put away when Marceline’s fingers touched her wrist. She froze, startled by the contact, especially unprovoked as it was.

“When you put that away, put it in your right pocket,” Marceline said quietly. “Not too deep.”

“You have an idea?” Bonnibel asked, obeying.

“Yeah. You going back to work after this?”

“Yes.”

“Okay, I’ll drop it off later tonight. Look, I’m probably gonna have to skip this part of town for a while till they forget about me. If Finn asks, I’m fine and I’ll be back.”

“Okay,” Bonnibel frowned, unable to decide if this intrigue was exhilarating or just scary. “Wait, drop what off?”

“You’ll see.” Marceline gestured Bonnibel to stand up, following suit. “Walk between me and him. Just be cool.”

Bonnibel wasn’t sure if she ever came across as “cool”, much less when she knew the eyes of the mob might be on her, but she did her best as the crossed the café.

As they neared the door, Marceline whispered, “Thanks for lunch, Bonnie. I owe you.”

Before Bonnibel could reply, she realized Marceline had nicked the money out of her pocket and was a blur of motion, grabbing a handful of mints from the bowl on the host’s station before dashing out the door.

“Hey!” the host was yelling as people turned to look at the commotion, but they were already too late. Marceline had vanished into the crowd of tourists and lunch hour foot traffic outside.

The host turned to Bonnibel, who didn’t entirely have to act surprised. “Ma’am, I am so sorry. Did she hurt you?”

“What? No! Not at all,” she waved him off.

“She stole some money from her,” Jason piped up helpfully. “I saw it.”

“It was just the change from lunch,” Bonnibel assured them, not liking how much attention she was drawing.

“Want us to call the police?” the host asked. “We’ve got a roomful of witnesses who will back you up.” A few people nearby muttered agreement.

“I’m not pressing charges!” Bonnibel said soothingly. “I’m sure she needs it more than I do anyway.”

“You’re a kind person,” Jason said in a patronizing way that made her want to smear one of the pretty dessert displays in his face. “But you can’t save her kind of people. Honestly, they’d probably all be better off if the police would get off their behinds and round them all up so the streets are safer for the rest of us.”

Bonnibel felt blood boiling in her ears, mostly drowning out the voice of the host assuring everyone it was “just a bum”. She knew it would be pointless to give them all a lecture about their attitudes, but, oh, it was tempting.

She assured them again, with utmost politeness, that she was fine, suspecting they were more likely relieved she wasn’t going to get them in trouble than genuinely caring about her well-being, and left before she gave herself an embolism.

Rather than try to get a cab, she decided to walk the distance back to the Candy Kingdom. She needed to burn off her frustration. How many of those well-dressed café patrons would go back to their jobs this afternoon, embezzle from their company, have an affair, cut their employees’ salaries, or engage in illegal business with one gang or another, then go home to an untroubled sleep in a comfortable bed?

As she walked, Bonnibel noticed an old man playing a harmonica on a street corner. A plastic cup in front of him read “Anethin helpz, Gob bless”. Though she stood there for five minutes, not one person put any money in it. Only one child stopped to listen, but his mother quickly dragged him on their way.

Marceline was onto something: the best way to be invisible was to be homeless. For all those people who had been eager to be witnesses back at the café, probably not one of them would recognize or pay any attention to her if she’d set up to play outside half an hour later.

Unable to take it any longer, Bonnibel walked into a nearby drugstore to get small bills. She then walked over and gave five dollars to the man. The surprise on his face and effusive thanks were like a balm to her irritated soul.

She repeated the gesture several more times with the other homeless people she encountered on her way back to work. It was true, probably most of them would just spend it on alcohol or their drug of choice, but if it gave them a few hours of pleasure, for now that would have to be enough.

Bonnibel hoped that Marceline would just keep the change and treat herself to something too, but sure enough, when Bonnibel got back to the Candy Kingdom there was a slightly crumpled bundle of dollars waiting for her at the receptionist’s desk. None were missing.

OOO

A few days later, Bonnibel strolled back into St. Grod’s with a purpose.

The receptionist smiled welcomingly. “Back to see Dr. Princeze again?”

“No, actually I wanted to inquire about a patient in your care named Simon.”

“Petrikov?” The receptionist’s eyebrows rose. “Certainly. What would you like to know?”

“I was wondering if I could offer a hand in assessing his condition. Not second-guessing any of your treatments,” she added hastily. “I just…promised a friend I would see if I could help him.”

The receptionist smiled again, warm and knowing. “I’ll show you to our observation room and have Dr. Princeze join you. She’s worked with him most frequently.”

An orderly came to escort her deeper into the facility. Down a hallway not far from the central nurses’ station, he used his ID to open a door to a surprisingly large room. Monitors lined two of the walls, each split-screened to show what must have been every patient room in the facility. A security guard looked up curiously as they entered.

“This doctor is here to observe Simon Petrikov,” the orderly explained. “Dr. Princeze will be joining her shortly.”

The guard nodded and returned to his observation. “Petrikov’s on camera 23,” he added, gesturing to a TV near the door. “I can call it up to full-screen for you.”

“Thank you.”

She leaned in and looked at the image of the old, frail man crouched on a cot. His white beard and hair were long and when she looked closer, she realized he had a crown of tinfoil around his head. The room he was in was certainly among the starker and simpler she could see at the facility, but he had it to himself. What appeared to be a stuffed penguin sat in a corner, facing the wall. He seemed to be muttering to himself and rocked slightly.

So this was the man who meant so much to Marceline. Looking at him now, it was clear he couldn’t take care of himself, much less provide for a teenage girl. She wondered what he had been like before his disease became so pronounced. What had this man lost and forgotten as he descended into his current state?

Dr. Princeze entered behind her. “Bonnibel, I wasn’t expecting to see you again so soon. I don’t suppose you’ve seen results on the patient I advised you on?”

Bonnibel smiled back at her. “No, I wish I did, but I’m here today about one of your patients instead.”

“Yes? How can I help you?” Princeze looked past her to the monitors. “Petrikov? What would you like to know?”

“I heard about his case from a friend and the mysterious nature of it intrigued me.”

“You don’t have enough pet projects to keep you busy when you’re not running the Candy Kingdom?” Princeze asked fondly.

Bonnibel laughed slightly. “You know I can’t resist a challenge.”

“Well, you certainly chose well with Petrikov.” Princeze turned to the screen, watching him try to pull one of his bare feet up to his face, as if he was speaking to it. “His condition is vexing to say the least.”

“What are the most troubling symptoms?”

“The early onset of the disease is a bad sign, of course,” Princeze said. “Apparently the symptoms started nearly a decade ago. He lives in a near constant state of delusion and hallucination. The strange thing is the consistency of his inner world. He believes himself to be a king—hence the crown, which seems to give him some comfort—and is determined to find his ‘Princess’.”

“Princess?” Bonnibel asked, aware of both her colleague’s surname and her own nickname with the children at the Candy Kingdom.

“We’ve determined it’s his interpretation of his fiancée, who left him when the symptoms started getting more severe. Anyway, he spends more time in that delusion than out of it, so we’re unclear how much is genuine dementia and how much might be a willing retreat from a difficult reality.”

“Does he respond to anti-psychotics?”

“To varying degrees. We haven’t found a cocktail that seems to work one hundred percent of the time yet.”

The door to Simon’s room creaked open and a familiar figure walked in.

“Ah, Marceline’s back,” Dr. Princeze grinned. “She’s the one who admitted him to us. Apparently he adopted her for a time when she was a runaway. Nice girl, despite her situation.”

“Does she come in often?” Bonnibel asked, watching the old man look up and acknowledge Marceline with a slight smile.

“At least once a week. She spends time with him, tries to draw him out or remember things from their past. He seems to focus more when talking to her. Bana, can you turn the sound on for Petrikov’s room?”

The guard obeyed. Bonnibel nearly protested, feeling like a voyeur spying on Marceline’s private visit, but reminded herself it would help with diagnosis.

“Why’s Gunther in the corner?” Marceline was asking Simon.

“He’s been a naughty boy today!” The old man shook a scolding finger at the plush penguin. “He stole my wishing eye! The whole castle was full of penguins! The mess they made…Bleh!”

“Dang, sounds like I missed all the fun,” Marceline said calmly, sitting down on the foot of the bed. He didn’t flinch away, but didn’t unfold much from his crouched position either. “So how’d you get it back?”

“Oh, Gunther knows to listen to Daddy. But he’s on time out and can’t have dinner till he knows what he’s done!”

“Bummer. Hey, I brought you something special today.”

“Ooh! Gimme, gimme!” He grabbed at her hands as she dug in her pocket.

“Chill, dude, here.” Bonnibel recognized the mints from the café as Marceline dug one out of her pocket to give Simon, helping him unwrap his before popping one in her own mouth.

“She’s not supposed to bring in outside food,” Princeze told Bonnibel, almost defensively. “But we make a few exceptions for her. She seems to be the only one who still cares for him. Poor girl’s barely scraping by herself, but whenever she comes in she pays us whatever she’s been able to earn since her last visit. To be honest,” she added confidentially, “it barely covers the cost of his food, but she’s insistent on taking care of him, so we cover the rest ourselves out of hospital funds and grants. Besides, it’s safer than having him loose on the streets.”

“Is he really that dangerous?” Bonnibel asked, watching the man fiddle with his beard as he sucked on the mint.

“He does have a tendency to get agitated when his delusions conflict with people’s responses. He also will fixate on women, convinced they’re his lost fiancée. He developed an obsession with one of our female nurses and became violent when she didn’t play along. Now we keep him in isolation and no female nurses or doctors are allowed to be in a room with him unsupervised. It’s not ideal for his mental enrichment, but it’s safer for all involved.”

Bonnibel looked over sharply. “But Marceline can go in there alone with him?”

“He seems to recognize that she’s different. He doesn’t confuse her with his princesses and doesn’t get as aggressive around her. Usually.”

Funny how loaded a word “usually” could be. “Does he remember her from his life before being admitted?”

Princeze sighed. “Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to. We think he only recognizes her because she visits so often. If she is gone more than a week, he has a harder time recalling who she is when she does return. Still, there may be something there as he accepts her word more than any of our staff’s when he needs a new treatment or a change in his routine.”

A shift in the tone of voice from the small room drew their attention to the screen. Simon was shaking his head as Marceline tried to soothe him.

“I want my princess! She’s supposed to be here! Someone took her from me!”

“Nobody took your princess, Simon. It’s okay.” Marceline caught his wrists as he tried to swing at her, gently restraining him. “We don’t hit people, remember?”

“Why isn’t she here? They took her!” he wailed.

“It’s okay,” Marceline said softly. “It’ll be okay.” Then, in a moment both sad and surreal, she began singing him the theme song to “Cheers”.

“We assume that show meant something significant to them when they lived together,” Princeze explained, gesturing to the guard to stand down. “Oddly, it does seem to work.”

Sure enough, Simon had stopped fighting and was sitting more calmly, listening and humming along. Music hath charms to soothe the savage beast, Bonnibel mused. Marceline’s talent was going to good use one way or another.

Straightening up, Bonnibel turned to Dr. Princeze, all-business. “I’m going to start consulting on Mr. Petrikov’s case. If you would, could I get a copy of his records and patient history? I’ll come by regularly for observations and work on treatment ideas at home in my personal time. Any costs accrued by his care, medications, or enrichment, bill them to me. Budget is not a factor in his treatment anymore.”

“Of course, I can start the paperwork,” Princeze said, surprised.

Bonnibel looked back at the screen. Simon was smiling again as Marceline seemed to be telling him about some joke she’d played on Finn.

“Also, when Marceline stops by, would you see to it that she gets a meal? Out of my funds, of course. Tell her whatever you have to, that he won’t eat unless someone eats with him in case it’s poisoned, just see if you can include that in their routine.”

“I believe we can arrange that,” Princeze smiled.

“Thank you. Hopefully we can make some progress here.”

Bonnibel stayed and watched the girl and her father-figure interact for a while longer. She knew if the prognosis for his condition was the same as that of standard dementias, things were just going to get worse, not better. There were no cures, no medications that were guaranteed to restore his mental faculties, but then, that had never stopped her from trying before. Maybe she would be able to discover something groundbreaking. Maybe she would just be able to pay to keep him more comfortable in his waning years. Either way, Bonnibel resolved that, for Simon at least, she would make her best be enough.

Forgotten Flames...

It doesn’t hurt anyone, long as it was in a seclusive location. She made sure of that. She couldn’t help at times fall into her destructive tendencies, especially when she was stressed out or angered. Right now, she was just stressed out. 

She’s been hanging a lot as of late with Finn and Jake along with who they've befriended over the years. Including the “Vampire Queen.” She was already taking risks by sneaking around in the streets while her father was looking for her, but knowledge of her befriending the Queen herself may cause even more problems. She knew of who she was, but never met her until the boy and his dog introduced them one day. It seemed, to some degree, that the both of them were in the same boat when it came to their fathers. Except in her case, her father seemed dead set on having her part of the Fire Kingdom, whether she liked it or not.

Marceline stated clearly she could care less of what her father was up to and wanted no part of the Night-O-Sphere. Those words alone made FP all the more respectful to the Vampire Queen. If she had the balls to stand against her father, then why shouldn’t she as well?

She knew her father was looking high and low for her, but she did her best to stay wary of her surroundings considering her situation. She slept wherever she could find a safe spot, at times being at the homes of those she befriended such as PB or Lady. She didn’t want to risk them more so than she already has, so she did her best to find her own safe havens for the night. 

At this point, she was wondering to herself if she really wanted to be part of her Father’s Kingdom or not. She was still learning about her surroundings and was still lacking in some of the etiquette of living outside on her own. She could only blame her father solely for this as he kept her behind closed doors in their underground base since birth. Her family taught her many destructive ways from the usage of homemade flamethrowers to Molotov cocktails to even their gang initiations rituals, but by no means was that the end of the list. Anything that made fire was surely their weapon, even to the smallest object as a match. When she finally broke out and came out to the streets, her mind was overloaded and lost itself for awhile until Finn and Jake came along. If it wasn’t for her faithful companion, Flambo, her orange tabby cat running into Jake, then she may have never met them.

She heard a mewling next to her, looking down to her purring friend. She bent down next to him, giggling a little as she began stroking his fur. He seemed to enjoy what was going on in the alleyway, but was wanting of the attention more from her hands. She gave him one long stroke down his back, his purring relentless, before standing herself straight and looking towards the alleyway.

Her fingertips lightly brushed her scar on her forehead as she pushed her bangs to the side, watching the flames dance in the alley. Her Molotov cocktail landed near a pile of garbage left to the side of the dumpster, flames instantly consuming as the alcohol splashed from the shattered bottle. She smiled a bit, the sight of the flames helping her relax. She knew she wasn’t suppose to being doing this, but as long as no one was injured, she shouldn’t worry much on it, right? The flames would diminish on their own, but she knew if Finn found out, she’d get admonished about the whole thing.

She looked back towards the block, noticing that there was less people around. The day was getting late, as the sunset was taking forth in the horizon. She sighed, looking down to Flambo, who innocently with his green eyes looked to her and mewed to her as if waiting for her orders. She smiled down to him, beginning her walk down the block, her search starting once more for that safe haven in the night. She held tight onto her bag with all her goods, mainly arson useful items, her voice speaking in a playful, but stern tone with Flambo. 

“Come on Flambo! This time don’t go after any mice you see, we got lost the last time, remember?”

The cat mewed once more, following closely to her as the forgotten flames were left behind in the alleyway.

So, I wound up taking a break from practicing AT character design for my attempt at a comic last night and instead drew Marceline from EB’s Gangland AU (which is totally awesome and you should check it out if you haven’t already). I’m also learning from this project that markers are an unforgiving medium, so subtlety is going to take some practice. :P