Saturday 12th April 2014
There was banging on her door. Banging of the very loud and obnoxious kind. She checked the clock and groaned. There should be a law against banging that noisily at eight fifteen in the morning.
For a moment Bonnie just ignored it. But the pounding didn’t go away, in fact it sounded now as if two fists were slamming on the wood. Whoever it was, they were determined. Sighing, she snapped her book closed and levered herself off the lounge chair to get it.
“About time!” Ellen cried when the door opened. “Come on, Bonnibel, you promised. Let’s go already.”
Bonnie blinked. Promised what? Oh… right. Shopping. The thought was sour and from the way Ellen was frowning at her suddenly, her expression had turned equally bitter.
Ellen snagged her wrist and dragged her out the door. “Come on, right now. We’re leaving.”
Bonnie gasped at her, pulling free. “At least let me lock up first.” And get my things together. “Sorry, I forgot.” Ellen clucked in exasperation, but let Bonnibel race inside to grab her things.
Her friend was tapping one foot impatiently when Bonnie skidded back outside and locked the door. “Geez, Bonnibel,” Ellen sighed. “How could you have forgotten this? You promised.”
“I know,” she huffed, following her bossy friend to Jake’s truck. “I was just catching up on some reading that I’d neglected during the term.”
Ellen snorted. “Of course. Well we’re going to have fun today, maybe see a movie this afternoon too. You should enjoy yourself.”
It was an hour’s drive in to Blackwater, a much larger city (larger being a comparative term, really) and Bonnie spent most of it staring out the window. Jake had the radio cranked up, Pippa sang along with him sometimes. Ellen made a few comments about people she knew in Blackwater and scandals they may or may not have been involved in, but no one paid that much mind.
Near their destination though, Ellen engaged her in a (somewhat one-sided) discussion about the shops at the Blackwater mall. The town was bigger than Reich, although that wasn’t overly hard, to be honest. There were no skyscrapers like in Ormeau, but there weren’t any buildings less than three storeys either. Unhappily, Bonnie realised there wasn’t much green here either. Sure there were parks scattered around, but it wasn’t like Reich where growing things stuck up everywhere. It was more urban and although Bonnie had been missing the big city, she found the lack of green upsetting.
“We’re here!” Ellen enthused, already half way out the car before Jake put the hand-break on. She bounced in the parking lot with obvious excitement (and no small amount of impatience) as she waited for them to join her.
“Am I going to regret saying ‘yes’ to a shopping trip with Ellen?” Bonnie asked Pippa softly as they rounded the car.
Her friend laughed, eyeing the way Ellen bounded across the parking lot. “It’s been known to happen,” she murmured. This was not reassuring in the slightest.
They wasted no time following her into the gaping maw of shopaholic heaven though. Winter might be closing in, but the sun still packed a punch on clear days such as this. A blast of cold assaulted her when the doors swished open. Bonnibel was of the strong opinion that the weather was currently mild enough not to need such intense air conditioning. But what did she know?
“Okay,” Ellen said, spinning on them as she clasped her hands together. “Where are we going first? I need a new dress, just so we can factor that in. Does anyone else have a stop they want to make?”
Bonnie’s eyebrows shot up into the stratosphere. “You’re planning where we go? You have… like, a shopping system?”
Eleanor rolled her eyes. “Of course I do. Shopping might be soothing and therapeutic, but it should also be economical. Otherwise you just end up wandering around… Or stuck in the same shop for hours on end.”
She blinked. “I would not have thought you’d be that way about your shopping, Ellen,” Bonnie admitted. “I had you pegged as that one person who just moseys about until something catches her eye.”
Jake snorted. “Boy were you ever wrong. Brace yourself for the shopping whirlwind that is Eleanor Scott-Parker.” Ellen beamed at that. “I need to stop at the sports store,” he said, pointing at his shoes, wiggling his toes. “These guys desperately need replacing. I can do that while you ladies go do your dress thing.”
Pippa sighed. “You don’t want to help me pick a dress, Jake?” she asked in a low, teasing voice. He blinked.
“Nope,” he replied, shaking his head. “Nope. I’m good, thanks.” With that (and some soft mutterings that Bonnie couldn’t make out) he spun and headed off.
“It’s probably for the best anyway,” Ellen told Pippa sadly. “The last time he came with was a nightmare. Bonnibel, is there anywhere you want to go?”
She pondered that for a moment. “Not really. But if you disappear into a shop by the book store I might pop in while you do that.” She’d never been one to plan her trips to the mall.
Ellen pursed her lips, clearly unhappy with the vagueness of Bonnie’s reply, but Pippa didn’t let her think on it too long. Instead she looped one arm through Ellen’s and one arm through Bonnie’s, dragging them both further into the mall. It was a long, meandering building, three floors high (not counting the top, fourth, floor which was taken up by a rather extensive cinema) and packed on the first day of holidays. Bonnie would be the first to admit she wasn’t such a huge fan of crowds.
Per Ellen’s preference for shopping, they started at one end of the mall and rambled along the first floor. They popped into shops (mostly pertaining to clothes or jewellery) as they passed them. Bonnie – naïvely at first – thought it was at random. Pippa informed her – when she asked about how this aimless wandering had anything to do with Ellen’s ‘system’ – that they followed the same path every time. Bonnie was confused by this; didn’t it get… boring? Repetitive? Wasn’t a bit of spontaneity a good thing?
Jake re-joined them not long before lunch (somewhere on the second floor) with a new pair of shoes and a few friends in tow. Bonnie couldn’t remember their names, but they were from Blackwater, both young men seemed nice enough, although they kept staring at her like she was some malformed anomaly. She ignored them.
She supposed it was nice that those two guys joined them really; it gave Jake someone to talk to at any rate. He must’ve appreciated having people to talk to who weren’t interested in clothes or other feminine things. The boys accompanied them to lunch as well, Ellen not seeming to mind this at all. It caused a few raised eyebrows and wryly amused expressions to be exchanged between Bonnie and Pippa though. Eleanor’s boyfriend would not approve of her blatant flirting.
Over lunch, plans for the rest of the afternoon were discussed loudly. Jake’s two friends were absolutely set on going to the ditch with them, maybe after they saw a movie. Bonnie didn’t pay them much attention, all of their ideas sounded draining. Having been out since the morning already, what she really wanted was to go home and pick her book back up.
Ellen, impatient as ever, leapt to her feet. “I like this plan,” she proclaimed. “We’ll finish this floor while you guys go pick a movie. We’ll meet you up there and go out to the ditch afterwards.”
The boys smiled, happy for an excuse not to go shopping with them. “Do you mind what movie we pick?” one of the other boys asked.
Pippa glanced at Ellen who was already dumping her disposable plates in a bin and getting ready to march off again. “I don’t think so,” she told him. “None of us are really picky about it.”
He beamed, standing. The other boy and Jake were quick to rush off with him, no doubt worried that Ellen would change her mind. Pippa just smiled after them. Bonnie had to admit that is was amusing, the lengths boys would go to in order to escape shopping with girls.
It didn’t take Ellen long to find another shop to investigate, she grabbed Pippa and dragged her inside with an excited string of words. Bonnie paused. She really didn’t want to go into another one. Her gaze flickered across the fronts of the nearby stores and landed happily on a place selling books.
Smiling now, she headed in. Pippa would know where she’d gone when she saw the place. Bonnie was only too pleased to lose herself in the aisles, perusing titles. She even found a section for classic novels and inspected every last spine for one she didn’t have yet. The section was longer than she’d expected and as she rounded the corner to start on the next shelf she bumped into someone.
“Oh, God, I’m so sorry,” she said, throwing an arm out, hoping she hadn’t knocked them over. Her eyes flashed up, meeting electric blue and anything else she’d been planning to say died on her tongue. “Hi,” was all she could manage.
The other woman blinked. “Hey,” Marceline said softly. “Are you stalking me?” The question was almost… friendly, if teasing. Bonnie was taken aback by it.
“Uh… no,” she muttered. “I’m here with some friends.”
Marceline smirked. “Shocker.”
“What are you even doing in a bookstore?” Bonnie blurted as Marceline stepped around her.
“I can read, you know.” The reply was defensive. “Am I not allowed to?”
“You just didn’t strike me as the type to like books.” Carefully, she followed Marceline around the shelving towards the fantasy fiction section.
“Now you’re following me,” Marceline observed, eyes fixed on the books.
Marceline started laughing, rolled her eyes, turned to face Bonnie now. “You’re on holidays, princess,” she pointed out. “You shouldn’t be thinking about school. Geez.”
“No,” she hastened to assure her. “Not that. I was just thinking that Jake’s car has only five seats.”
“There are six of us.”
Marceline lifted an eyebrow. “How did you all get here if there’s five seats to share between six people? You sat on someone’s lap, didn’t you?”
For some reason Bonnie couldn’t quite place, her stomach was bubbling and her face went red. “N-No. No, we met two of them here.” She frowned, thinking. “But they’re going to the ditch later and I really don’t want to go.” She sighed. “I’m going to be stuck here.” Bonnie thought that last was grumbled softly enough that Marceline wouldn’t hear it.
She was wrong.
“Call someone to pick you up,” Marceline suggested, shrugging.
“I can’t,” she realised. “Peter’s at work today grading papers, Finn doesn’t have his own car and Keila’s gone to a party.”
Marceline exhaled heavily then and said the most unexpected thing ever. “I’ll drive you,” she griped. “I was planning on leaving after this anyway.” She snatched a book off the shelf and stalked to the counter. “Come on,” she called to Bonnie.
Blinking in confusion, Bonnie hastened after her. “You really don’t have to. I’ll catch a cab.”
“The hell you will,” Marceline snorted. “I wouldn’t trust a cab driver in this town with a face like yours. Blackwater looks really nice on the surface, but underneath is another story.” She dropped the book on the counter and pinged for attention.
“I’ll risk it,” Bonnie said as the attendant came out to check Marceline’s purchase. “I’ve probably dealt with worse than a seedy cab driver.”
Marceline shot her a glance from the corner of her eye. “You know something, princess? I don’t think you have. Why are you even trying to talk me out of it? I thought you secretly wanted to be my best friend.”
“You already have a best friend. I’m just the bitch who helps with your science homework,” Bonnie replied a little tartly. The girl behind the counter had trouble stifling a laugh at that. Even Marceline was smiling.
“Please,” Marceline said around her smile (which she appeared to be trying to get rid of). “Everyone knows you’re a saint. Even my dad loves you.”
“No, it’s true,” Marceline told her, thanking the lady for her book and heading out. “I think if he’d been given the option of choosing which of us was his daughter, he’d pick you.”
“Well then he’s a bit of an idiot,” Bonnibel grumbled. “They say you never know you’ve got a good thing until it’s gone.”
The look on Marceline’s face at that was pure astonishment. “You don’t mean that.” And she sounded absolutely convinced of it.
“Believe what you like.”
“There you are!” Eleanor practically screamed as they stepped out of the shop. “What have you been… Oh.” Her words cut off in a strangled croak when she saw Marceline. “Abadeer.”
“Scott-Parker.” Marceline’s smile was a little scary. “Hey, Pippa.”
Ellen huffed. “Why does she get a friendly greeting? Never mind. Come on, Bonnibel, we’re going to the movie now. Jake just texted with their pick and it’s going to be great.”
“I uh…” Bonnie began. “I don’t really want to go to the movies… or the ditch for that matter. And with Jake’s two friends the car’s full anyway. I’m just going to head home now.”
Pippa nodded, she didn’t take more than five seconds to work out what Bonnie meant. Ellen though, narrowed her eyes. “What are you talking about? Cabs here aren’t safe,” Eleanor said flatly.
“See?” Marceline blurted. “Told you.” Her voice trailed off as if just realising she was participating in a conversation with people she didn’t like.
“Marceline offered to drive me home,” Bonnie provided before Ellen could say something mean. “I’ll be fine.”
Ellen’s brow knitted together. Pippa just smiled and waved. “See you later then, Bonnibel,” Penelope called, tugging Ellen away.
“Bye guys,” she responded. “Enjoy the movie.”
Marceline was glaring after them ferociously. “How do you even stand her?” she asked, one hand motioning vaguely at Ellen. “Don’t you find her irritating?”
“Extremely,” Bonnie said honestly. “But I’m of the opinion that keeping her close is better than being nasty to her. She’s a post office, Marceline, all information goes through her. I don’t want to be on her bad side.”
“Makes sense. Let’s go.”
Unlike Jake, Marceline had parked under the mall (much to Bonnie’s relief, the car would be cool). What seriously surprised her though was that it was a car Marceline led her to. For a moment, she just stood there staring at the faded red vehicle. Marceline pressed the button on her key ring and the alarm beeped unlocked softly. When Marceline settled into the driver’s seat, Bonnie was still standing beside it questioningly.
She opened the door and sat, still confused. “Did you steal this?” she finally asked, clicking her buckle in place.
“No,” Marceline said, biting back a laugh. “It’s my brother’s old sixty-nine Camaro. He left it for me to use when I’m going to Blackwater or if it’s raining or to drive to school because I’m lazy. It can’t get back up the slope out at the ditch though so I never take it. Nice though, right?”
“Oh. Fair enough.”
It was a long way back to Reich from Blackwater and with Bonnibel sitting shotgun, Marceline assumed it would be painful. She could feel the churning in her gut from just being this close to the geek. Something about her was all wrong. Marceline… smiled too easily with her and that just wouldn’t do. No. It wouldn’t. She had to press away all the niggling doubts and flickering feelings and just ignore her.
Although, that wouldn’t ever happen; seeing as how the school had thrown them together. She’d visited Simon after finding out that Bonnibel was going to tutor her and given him a rather shrill piece of her mind. The princess was not to blame, she was doing her job (although Marceline sure wished she could lay blame on the pastel pink brainiac), but Simon was not exempt from her fury.
And yet here they were. Despite her vehement denials of friendship, overt kindliness seemed to happen accidentally. She gripped the steering wheel tighter. The silence of the car pounded on her ear drums.
“Do you mind if I turn the radio on?” Marceline asked her companion softly, trying not to grind her teeth.
Bonnie turned from staring out the window. “Sure, whatever. It’s your car.”
Relieved, Marceline’s long fingers fiddled with the knob, too late realising that the antenna had broken and was now unable to pick up signals of any kind. Grumbling then, she checked to see if a disc was in. Luckily there was. Not that she knew what was on it. She hit play.
Bonnibel blinked those incredibly green eyes and snapped her gaze to the speakers. Her mouth fell open and Marceline – upon realising what was playing – hastily tried to skip the song. Bonnie slapped her hand away.
“I love this song,” she said. “Just leave it. Although I haven’t heard this cover before. Who’s singing?”
Marceline’s fingers clenched on the wheel again as she debated answering. Finally she spat out, “Me.” She risked a glance out of the corner of her eye and caught Bonnibel staring at her incredulous. “What?”
“This is you singing? And the instruments?”
“Wow. That’s cool. Is this whole disc you?”
Marceline rolled her eyes, staring intently at the road in front of them. “Yes,” she ground out.
“That’s awesome. You’re talented.” And with that, Bonnibel proceeded to sing along softly.
Her jaw lolled open and for a moment she forgot to pay attention to where she was driving and stared openly at her passenger. Her gaze snapped back to the road immediately, there was no sense crashing because she was gobsmacked. There was no interrogation, no suspicious comments, nothing. Just an observation accepted and neatly tucked away.
When that song finished and flowed into the next, Bonnie simply bobbed her head and began to mutter along with it too. “I thought you said you weren’t widely versed in music?” Marceline whispered.
“I’m not. But I know these songs.” So she did. Bonnibel sang along to every song on the way back to Reich. It took a while, but Marceline joined in too. And Bonnie smiled at her.
Her stomach did a backflip.