Wednesday 2nd April 2014
“Oh my god, no.”
Bonnie lifted an eyebrow. “Suck it up, Abadeer.”
Marceline dropped her head into her hands. “I had three classes with you already today. I think I’m all princessed out. Can’t you just… forget to do this?”
She exhaled, rubbing her fingers through her hair, feeling drained. Bonnibel hadn’t met any of Marceline’s somewhat cynical and pessimistic expectations. In fact, the only thing she ever spoke about was work. And, contrary to what Marceline would have thought, she was getting utterly sick of it.
“We have a chemistry exam next week, Marceline,” Bonnie reminded her for probably the five thousandth time that minute. “I’m not going to let you fail it.”
Marceline dug her fingertips into her cheeks and scowled. “Are you serious right now?”
Bonnibel closed her text book and folded her arms across it, staring at Marceline over the table. “Well what do you want to do then? Maths? Biology?”
“Twenty questions.” Wait, what? The words were out of her mouth before Marceline even processed them. She closed her eyes and looked away, trying to figure out why she’d said that.
Bonnie smiled at her. “I thought you didn’t want to know anything? Is this a change of heart or are you really that desperate to stop studying?”
Well… what was the answer? Marceline didn’t know. Probably the latter. She shrugged her response and dropped her head to the table. “Ugh, never mind,” she grumbled.
Bonnibel kept smiling that slow smile and shrugged again. “If you want to ask a question, go ahead. I was just under the impression that you liked to be ignorant. I mean honestly, what if I was a serial killer?”
Marceline’s eyebrows disappeared into her fringe. “Are you a serial killer?”
“Well no,” Bonnie admitted. “But you’d never know that because you don’t ask things. Are you a serial killer?”
She snorted. “No. Do I look like a serial killer?”
“Do you want me to answer that,” the nerd replied wryly.
“Not really,” Marceline said, chuckling softly. When she realised she was sort of laughing she stopped doing so immediately. Then she mentally slapped herself. “Why did you even move here, princess?” she asked softly.
And Bonnibel didn’t speak. For a whole forty-eight seconds.
After nearly a minute Marceline decided she wasn’t going to answer and looked up from her book. The look on Bonnie’s face was familiar. Marceline saw it in the mirror all the time. It was as though she’d forgotten how to use her facial muscles, frozen.
“Hey, sorry, princess,” Marceline said hastily, waving a hand. “You don’t have to answer that. Geez. Don’t look so freaked out.”
Bonnie’s face relaxed a little, some of the steel oozing out of her posture, but she was still wary, that was clear. It hardly looked like she was breathing, as if she were trying to turn invisible by remaining as still as possible. Marceline knew that feeling well and although she didn’t want to know Bonnibel at all, she felt a little sympathy crawl into her chest cavity and set up shop.
“Sorry,” Marceline whispered. “One more question.” Again, Bonnie stiffened, braced for something that would dredge up memories she’d rather not dwell on. “Does your wardrobe consist of nothing but pink?”
The other girl slumped in her chair, stress gone, her relief was sketched across her pretty face, trying to hide and failing. “No,” she mumbled. “It’s my favourite colour, but I wear other things too. You just don’t pay attention.”
Ah, good. There was a sarcastic tone Bonnie used sometimes, this biting tang in her words that Marceline would never have expected from her. She never used it in class with Finn (who had maths with them, much to Marceline’s disgruntlement), she didn’t use it on teachers, not on her friends that Marceline knew of. It was an indication (to Marceline’s mind anyway), that all was well.
“Sure I do,” Marceline argued. “You wore jeans yesterday.” Really tight ones. Oh God. Marceline had to slap that thought away too before it evolved into something horrifying. She felt her face heat and glanced down at her book again. Never comment on her clothing ever again.
“Good observation skills,” Bonnie said flatly. “Does your wardrobe contain colours other than black?”
Marceline found herself chortling again and had to roll her eyes to make it stop. “Why yes, in fact,” she fired back, a little too brightly to be considered normal. “My wardrobe runs the gamut all along the greyscale. Plus a few reds… and some blue.”
“Wow, shock me with your knowledge of the colour wheel.”
There was a long moment of silence between them then, a silence that Marceline would have expected to be awkward. But… Bonnie was full of surprises and when Marceline offered no other contributions to their conversation, she went back to her chemistry.
“Did you leave many friends behind?” Marceline spoke softly.
“Not really.” And Marceline could honestly say she was surprised at the answer. “I used to have a whole bunch of friends… But not when I left.”
She spun her pen through her fingers before jabbing it at Bonnie. “You said you’re from Ormeau right?”
Bonnie smiled slyly. “You know, I don’t think we’ve spoken enough that I would’ve told you that.”
“Uh, yeah… Keila might’ve told me,” Marceline said sheepishly. “I just… would’ve expected you to have left a whole crowd of friends behind.”
Bonnibel shook her head. “Sorry to disappoint. Although to be honest, there weren’t a lot of people at my last school worth calling my friend there right before I left. Too much drama at single gender schools.”
“I can relate. Private schools are the worst,” Marceline commiserated. It earned a stunned look from Bonnibel, but she didn’t make anything of it. Clearly, the princess knew the concept behind ‘boundaries’ very well.
“Other than Keila,” Bonnie said instead of asking the more obvious question. “Do you have any friends?”
“Nope. I guess Ash is sort of my friend.”
“As someone who isn’t your friend and therefore doesn’t have to worry about violent reactions,” Bonnie began bluntly. “Ash is a dickhead and you could do so much better than him. Seriously. What did you ever see in him? I’ve known a lot of jerks in my time, but he is honestly the biggest jackarse I’ve ever had the misfortune of meeting.”
And Marceline smiled. A proper toothy smile and everything. “Tell me how you really feel, princess,” she said around her growing amusement. “You know it took me two years to work that out myself? Where were you then? I could’ve used some ‘in your face’ honesty.”
Bonnie gave a mocking half-bow from her seat. “You’re welcome.”
She said you can do better… That was a hard concept to grasp. “So I take it there’s no hunky boyfriend moaning over you back in Ormeau?” Must distract my brain.
At that, Bonnibel actually laughed. “Dear Lord, no.” The words were nearly lost in her giggle fit. “Oh goodness, no.” Marceline didn’t understand why that was funny.
With obvious effort, Bonnie contained her mirth. “I’ve never dated,” she said with a smirk. A smirk. Bonnibel. Smirking. It was gasp-worthy.
Marceline blinked, mouth open in what was probably a very unattractive fashion. “Yeah… but why? I mean…” She waved a hand in Bonnie’s general direction. “Why? Is there something wrong with guys in Ormeau or did you just turn a lot of them down?”
“Eventually they stopped asking altogether,” Bonnie whispered, her smirk flickering, dying. Her expression once more that impenetrable blankness that Marceline knew so well. “They had a good reason not to bother.”
The conversation was essentially shut down then, Bonnibel closing herself off in a way Marceline didn’t think any of her other friends had seen. It was weird. Bonnibel Banner was a very strange person. Almost – almost – Marceline was tempted to work out why.
And it scared her how hard she had to convince herself that she didn’t care.