Wednesday 4th June 2014
"So it occurred to me the other day," Bonnie mused as they walked to their lockers. "You all drive."
Pippa lifted an eyebrow, smiling. "And?"
"It's not legal to get a license until you're sixteen. And… most of us aren't."
"You still haven't actually asked me a question there, Bonnibel," Pippa replied around her grin.
Bonnibel sighed. "Why do you all seem to be qualified drivers if you're underage?"
"Oh, sweetie," Pippa laughed. "This is the country. We've been driving cars and bikes and quads and… tractors in most cases, since we were ten. There's actually a picture of Jake riding his dad's ATV through a paddock when he was six." She pursed her lips then, eyes rolling up. "Admittedly, he did drive it into the creek. But he got better."
Bonnie blinked. "Oh."
"You've never been behind a wheel have you?"
Pippa ribbed her with an elbow. "Maybe, it's high time you found someone to teach you. Out here in the backwoods it's not something that has much weight to it. We all sort of just pick it up as we go."
She cut a quick look at Pippa. "Any chance you'd be up for that?"
Penelope's eyes went wide. "Oh god no. Not only do I not want to get in a car with a new driver in charge, but there's actually a reason Jake never lets me drive anywhere." Pippa winked at that, but all Bonnie had was a sinking feeling. She slammed her locker shut and smiled at Bonnie. “See you at lunch!”
Bonnie blinked after her, hefting her books absently into her bag. “Oh sure,” she muttered, closing her locker with mildly more force than she needed to. “That’s… unhelpful.” Sighing, she headed off to her spare, only remembering as she was about to walk into the library that she didn’t have spares there anymore. Then she had to walk past the admin building and around the art rooms to get to the music building. She always had to hunch her shoulders going around there, fearful of being caught going someplace that wasn’t the designated area for spare study.
As expected, Marceline was sprawled out on the grass near the music building, lying on her stomach, feet waving in the air as she scrawled across her notebook. There was presently no sound coming from inside, but Bonnie smiled at the way Marceline’s head bobbed to an imagined beat just the same. She watched for a while, head to one side, not sure why the idea of catching Marceline unguarded was so… pleasant.
Naturally, Marceline’s ‘Spidey Senses’ started tingling and as if she came pre-packaged with a Bonnibel-radar, she looked over. Her trademark smirk danced across her face, but it was just a distraction. Misdirection even, because Bonnie had been ready and she saw the walls go up, saw it on her face and in her eyes. Those walls were her greatest source of ire.
“What up, Bonnie?” Marceline patted the grass next to her. “Pull up some green.”
Bonnie folded herself beside Marceline with an eye roll. Her smile didn’t waver though. “Do you have work today?” she asked, laying some books out in front of her. No way she’d spread out like Marceline though. Not in a skirt.
“Hmm,” she replied around the end of her pen, peering up at Bonnie. “Only for an hour today. Why, brainlord? Do you need me for something?” Her infuriating grin tilted up slightly, the pen wobbled as she spoke, the result more than a little comedic.
The gears in Bonnibel’s mind cranked over as she thought through the pros and cons of this mad scheme she was currently devising. “I just had a conversation with Pippa,” she mused, rolling her lip under.
Marceline’s expression shifted almost instantly to bemused, her smile remained though. “Is there a station coming up where I can board your meandering train of thought?”
“Oh,” Bonnie said, still thinking in over-drive. “Well, I was just thinking about how to go about getting my driver’s license. Since all you lot have been doing it since you were three, I figured I’d ask Peter about it. So I won’t tag along with you this afternoon.”
She clicked her pen, happy with the decision she’d reached, and started in on her biology paper. Marceline tilted her head to one side, pen bobbing up and down as she chewed it. “You’re ditching me,” she accused happily.
Bonnie lifted an eyebrow. “I hardly think that’s the right word for it. But sure.”
“I’m not sure I’ll be able to handle all this freedom,” Marceline lamented melodramatically. “How will I ever motivate myself? Who will stop me from getting side-tracked? Oh god, no.”
Bonnibel rolled her eyes. “Would you rather I went with you? I thought a study-free afternoon would be right up your alley.”
Marceline’s eyebrows fell down into a squint as she peered at Bonnie. “You do realise it’s a Wednesday, right, Bon? Not exactly the best day to have an afternoon to myself, what with my job and all. Friday would’ve been better.”
“I don’t make you suffer the horror of my company on Friday,” she reminded Marceline flatly. “So I don’t know what you’re whining about.”
She huffed. “‘Horror’ is a harsh word anyway,” Marceline grumbled, finally removing the pen from her mouth to write something with it. “Why don’t you just… You know, never mind. Forget I spoke.”
Bonnie blinked over at Marceline with the funniest feeling that she’d been about to say something nice. She’d been doing a lot of that lately. Sometimes, niceties fell out, obviously without her consent because she never said nice things about Bonnie. She decided to ignore it. Ignoring Marceline’s accidental kindness was much easier than bringing it up and suffering through some sort of torrid rant about how all-encompassing their mutual dislike was.
Although, from the way Marceline was behaving, Bonnie was beginning to wonder how much of that was Marceline being genuinely mad and how much was her trying to convince herself that they weren’t friends. Still… Ignoring it. Right.
She turned back to her paper and sighed. Some things just weren’t meant to be done. Right now, her biology assignment was attempting to be one of those things. Bonnie dropped her pen and ran a hand through her hair, staring up at the sky. Clouds scudded near the horizon and a chill hung in the air.
Coats had been pulled out about a week ago and Bonnie had swiftly decided that they were simply another window into the owner’s mind. Pippa’s sweater of choice had been a homespun type creation, each thread looking to be a different colour. Jake’s was a sports coat with big pockets. Finn’s was waterproof. Marceline was never without a hood anymore in the change of season, always with sleeves that were a little too long.
It was funny how much attention Bonnie paid to them really. Details like that had fascinated her since she got here. These people were so far removed from the ones she’d known in Ormeau and every little nuance about them was engrossing in a strangely pedantic way. Like she was trying to memorise them; make up for all the time she hadn’t known them.
She wondered if they did the same to her.
“So you’re really not going to come with me today?” Marceline mumbled.
Bonnie glanced back up at her. “Nope. I’m really not.”
Marceline spun her pen through her fingers and harrumphed. “Alright then.” She didn’t speak again for the rest of the hour. Her face spoke plenty without verbal additions. And when the bell rang out to signal the end of the class, Marceline was gone before Bonnie even realised it.
Somehow, she thought maybe something was wrong. She thought perhaps something in their conversation had been hurtful or whatever. But no matter how hard she thought (and it did distract her in literature) Bonnie couldn’t come up with what it might be.
She sighed again. Marceline was infinitely complicated. At least this afternoon she wouldn’t have to wonder what would set her off. Thinking about it put a bit of spring in her step.
“So you’re really going to just ask him?” Pippa enquired as they walked home.
“Well it’s probably for the best,” Bonnie told her. “I’m going to need my licence aren’t I? Sooner rather than later seems a decent outlook to have.”
Penelope bobbed her head in concession. “Seems fair, I suppose.” Her tone left something unsaid, but Bonnibel didn’t particularly want to press it.
“Hey, isn’t Finn’s birthday soon?” Bonnie realised, whipping her watch up to check the date.
“Yup, the nineteenth. Poor kid missed out on having a holiday-birthday so many years running. I think next year he’ll get one.” Pippa laughed. “Why? Did he say something?”
“No, I was just wondering if we had plans?”
Pippa shook her head. “Not for on his birthday, no. Ellen’s bringing a cake in to surprise him, but we’re going to celebrate on the Saturday. I can’t wait to see his face.”
“He does have really strong reactions to things,” Bonnie agreed.
They rounded the corner onto Bonnie’s street. Peter’s car squatted morosely in the driveway indicating his presence at home. That was a good start. Honestly, she couldn’t really imagine herself driving that car. It wasn’t old and ratty, but there was this air of… Bonnie didn’t know how to describe it. Not without sounding crazy, anyway. It just looked sort of… malicious. What a weird way of describing a vehicle with no sentience. She hoped it wasn’t sentient at least.
“Good luck,” Pippa called as Bonnie stepped onto the path. She waved when Bonnie looked back, smiling.
“Yeah, thanks. See you tomorrow.”
She dropped her bag off in her flat before heading in the back door of the house. Cooking smells came from the kitchen but Peter wasn’t with them. Bonnie poked her head into the living room and found him sprawled out on the couch. She shook her head at him, turning the stove down to a simmer before it burned.
“Hey, Peter,” she said softly, sinking down onto the armrest. “Are you awake?”
“Yes,” he muttered in reply. “It was just a long day.” Slowly he pushed himself into a sitting position, blinking absently at her. “How was yours?”
“Pleasant,” she informed him. “I do have something I’d like to ask you about though.”
“Hum? Let’s hear it then.”
Bonnie took a deep breath. “I’d like to get my driver’s license,” she said, not at all sure how that would be received.
Peter merely blinked again; clearly still a little out of it, off in another sleep-addled dimension perhaps. Maybe he had a little voice in the back of his head distracting him all the time; it would explain the way he frequently looked as if he were listening to something. Perhaps not too, Bonnie was sometimes sure she was the only person in the world who had a little voice in her head. Besides, this particular instance was probably due solely to the fact that he had just woken up. Even if he did profess to not being asleep. He looked tired anyway.
“I suppose that’s fine,” he said quietly. “Do we have to go to Blackwater for that?”
Bonnie shrugged. “I’m really not sure. That’s why I’m asking you.”
After another long pause, Peter opened his mouth. As always, Bonnie pictured him as a fly trap when it took him a good thirty seconds to answer. She was sure there were other analogies she could use, but they never came to mind when she needed them.
“I’ll ask Hansen later,” Peter finally sighed. “You should probably ask around too. Have you ever driven before?”
“No. I’ve never been sixteen before.”
A wry smile tilted his lips. “Touché. Well, I don’t condone breaking the law, but you might as well get started. One of your friends might let you have a go if you ask nicely.”
It was Bonnie’s turn to blink now. “I can do that?”
“Sure,” Peter said, lurching to his feet. “Everyone around here has been driving since they could walk. You might as well join them.” He pottered off towards the kitchen. “Dinner should be ready in a few hours. And they do say there’s no time like the present.” His funny little smile became a proper one then and he winked.
Baffled and feeling no small amount like a fly trap herself, Bonnie headed for the front door. “I’ll be studying,” she yelled at the kitchen.
Muffled garbles were all she got in return. Figuring that was good enough, she opened the door, intending on doing just that until dinner.
She stopped in her tracks when she found Marceline’s car sitting in the drive alongside that baleful creation her uncle drove. Its owner was not inside, however. Bonnie had barely recovered from seeing it there when Marceline herself came around the side of the garage shaking her head and muttering under her breath.
“Hey,” she croaked, feeling her throat constrict for no reason she could discern. Marceline leapt at least a foot in the air before whirling on Bonnie, her car keys held out like a weapon.
She exhaled heavily then, sagging against the faded red of her car. “Geez, princess,” she huffed. “You scared the freaking crap out of me.”
“Sorry. What brings you around?”
Marceline rolled her eyes skyward, feet shuffling in that anxious way she had. “Oh, um… no, nothing. Just–”
“Spit it out, please,” Bonnie sighed.
Marceline stared at her for a moment, then turned to blinking at the pavement. Bonnibel was unsure if she was breathing. Finally, the air escaped her lungs in a great whoosh and she held out her car keys. “Do you want to practice?” she asked in a small voice.
The implications of that took a while to register, but when they did, Bonnie couldn’t help but smile. She took a slow step forward, peering at Marceline curiously. “Are you sure? I might break it.”
Marceline’s electric eyes lifted to meet hers, a strange look flashing across her face. Then she grinned. And it wasn’t a smirk, or a teasing smile, it was a proper one. Bonnie was sure she saw Marceline’s walls waver in lieu of this. Her whole face shifted and Bonnie had to stave off the thoughts that went with it for fear of saying something stupid.
“I’m sure, princess,” Marceline chuckled. “The highway out to the Café is straight. How much damage can you possibly do?”
Bonnibel snatched the keys off her. “Challenge accepted, Abadeer.”