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Pray for the Preacher's Daughter

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Friday 8th August 2014

When Marceline stopped overthinking stuff, it was sort of amusing how easily things came to her. Mathematics for instance. Usually, she was so very stubborn in her idiocy and blatant mistakes. But then on this particular day, Bonnie ended up trying – mostly in vain, it should be noted – to explain a concept to Finn. And when she looked over to check that Marceline wasn’t having too hard a time, discovered that not only was she just about finished with the work, she’d gotten pretty much all of the questions right.

It no longer surprised her, not truly, that Marceline was so secretly smart. But she couldn’t help the smile every time the other girl did something no one else would’ve anticipated. Sometimes it was nice to be proven wrong.

She pointed to one of the sums Marceline had gone wrong with, waiting to see if she realised her mistake. Marceline blinked at the page for a minute, frowning at the lines of numbers, then she sighed, grinning. Her pen skittered across the page as she corrected it.

“That was stupid,” she chuckled. “Cheers.”

“Better?” Finn asked, prompting her to look back over at him. The sum in question had been rewritten twice and Bonnie really hoped he’d gotten it this time. He stared at her hopefully.

“Yep,” she said slowly. “Looks like you fixed it. You just multiplied this number out in the wrong way. Brackets go first.”

He twisted his mouth into a funny shape and sighed. “Yeah. Maths is definitely not my strongest suit.” Finn leaned forward, peering around Bonnie then, frowning at Marceline’s book. “She’s not working,” he whispered.

“She’s finished,” Bonnie replied in the same conspiracy-esque tone. She smiled.

His mouth made an ‘o’ shape and he brightened. “That’s alright then.” Finn didn’t lean back out straight away; in fact, it looked like he was going to say something more. He didn’t. She watched him for a moment just in case he did decide to add whatever was going through his mind, but Finn maintained his silence.

“Hey,” Marceline said softly, jabbing her in the shoulder. Bonnie turned to fix her with a glare and rubbed pointedly at her arm. “Can I come over to your place today? To study, I mean. Dad has a meeting of some sort pencilled onto our kitchen calendar and I don’t like being there when people come over. They look at me funny.”

At the pained look on Marceline’s face, Bonnibel couldn’t help but grin. “Sure. If you want. Driving?”

Marceline shook her head. “Nope, I walked this morning. The car has decided it’s too cold to be running around everywhere and won’t start. Bastard.”

“Fair enough.”

There was quiet for a long time after that. Finn didn’t let it last until the end of the lesson, however. He shuffled his chair a little closer to Bonnie. “It’s Hayden’s birthday tomorrow,” he whispered.

“And?” Bonnie murmured back. “How do we know this? Did Pippa stalk her records too?”

His face flushed slightly. “I don’t think so. It’s in her diary.”

She smiled darkly at him. “Why were you reading her diary, Finn?”

Finn’s flush turned such a brilliant shade of red it almost didn’t look real. “It’s not… I didn’t… she was… writing down her homework and I just… oh my god.” He had to look away then, trying to calm down.

Bonnie laughed at his flustered expression. “Relax. Why are you telling me this?”

He shrugged, the colour draining slowly from his cheeks. “I found out yesterday and I figured we should do something to celebrate. It would make Ellen happy.”

“Would it make you happy, too, Finn?” Marceline chimed in, still staring at her book.

Finn’s blush reappeared. “Everyone should do something on their birthday,” he grumbled.

“Why don’t we just go to Blackwater and see a movie then,” Bonnibel suggested. “Nice and simple.”

He sighed heavily. “Alright. Should I get her a present?”

“If you want.”

“Are you getting her a present?”

“I wasn’t planning on it.”

“Will it be weird?”

“Depends what you get her.”

Finn dropped his head to the desk. “I give up. Girls are really hard. Can’t you help me out?”

She smiled sadly at him. “Goes a little against Girl Code, I’m afraid,” she consoled.

He arched an eyebrow. “Even for you?”

“Yes,” she laughed. “Even for me. Just because my position in the ranks is a little different, doesn’t mean I’m allowed to impart the secrets of the Order.”

He exhaled again. “Sounds just like the Bro Code. Terrible. Isn’t that cheating though? For you, I mean.”

“Not really. You forget that I’m on a level playing field with others of my… persuasion.” Her gaze flicked to Marceline momentarily; worried she might overhear their coded conversation. The other girl had her earphones on now though, head bobbing to the beat.

“True, I guess. You won’t give me any pointers, though? Come on, just a little one?”

“I haven’t known her long enough,” she told him. “You’ll have to blunder through this one on your own.”

“That stinks.”

“Sorry.”

The bell rang then and Bonnie had to jab Marceline in the ribs because she didn’t hear it over her music. She blinked, orienting herself slowly. Then she smiled. They trailed Finn out into the corridor to find Hayden waiting for him.

His face exploded into a smile and her grin wasn’t anything shy of brilliant either. “Hey,” she exclaimed perhaps louder than was necessary. “Pippa picked a movie to see tomorrow. She said it’ll be good.” Hayden’s gaze drifted past Finn to take in Bonnie and Marceline. “Will you come too, Marceline?”

She shrugged. “After living through Eleanor’s party, I don’t think I can do birthdays ever again.”

“Think about it,” Hayden commanded, dragging Finn off to whatever class they had next.

Marceline lifted a hand to gesture after her absently. “It’s like… she’s another you. Far too determined for my liking. Is it a redhead thing?”

Bonnie laughed. “No, she’s just happy. She wasn’t in that good of a mood this morning.”

“It is last period,” Marceline reminded her as they set off for the library. It was way too cold to be studying outside today. “And it is Friday.”

“And her birthday is tomorrow,” Bonnie added. “I know. How about we make it through last period and I’ll let you eat dinner with us tonight.”

Marceline’s face scrunched up. “How about no?”

She lifted an eyebrow. “Peter bought a pizza oven and he’s been dying to use it, so that’s what we’re doing for dinner. But if you don’t want to…”

“Maybe I can stay for dinner,” Marceline blurted hurriedly. “I’ll get dad to pick me up after.”

“Are you sure? I’d hate to pressure you.”

Marceline bumped her shoulder. “Shut up, Banner,” she said, laughing. “Being pressured into dinner isn’t so bad. Just no tomatoes.”

 

-*…*…*-

 

“That is pretty cool,” Marceline grudgingly admitted, staring at the pizza oven on their lawn.

“Not for long,” Peter said, delighted. “Soon it’ll be really quite warm.” He set about trying to get the oven working but obviously had no idea what he was doing. If he got it started, it would be a miracle.

“Come inside and help me with the bases,” Bonnie chuckled. It was probably for the best if Peter was left to his own devices. That way if it blew up he wouldn’t catch them in the explosion. She felt bad for thinking it, but Bonnibel doubted his ability to work the oven just a little bit.

“Will he be alright?” Marceline asked, jerking her thumb back outside. “Is it… I dunno, a humanitarian crime to leave him unsupervised?”

Bonnie grinned at her, pulling the pizza bases from the cupboard. “He’ll be fine. I don’t think he’ll hurt himself. And if he does… then it’s his own fault for not reading the instruction manual.”

“Men,” Marceline muttered. She fired what she obviously hoped was a covert glance at Bonnibel then. “Are you really alright with not studying?”

“Yep. Very okay with it.” She eyed Marceline crosswise. “Are you alright with not studying?”

“Duh.” Marceline rolled her eyes. “I was just checking, dork.”

“Sure, sure.” Bonnie slid the cheese across the bench-top with a smile.

“It’s hot, girls,” Peter called. “Get your pizzas ready for the fire!”

“Your uncle is so weird,” Marceline muttered. “Do we have to eat with him?”

Bonnie chuckled. “Not if you don’t want to. We can go watch a movie in the flat if you’d like. Peter will put the news on and I never want to watch that.”

“It is depressing,” Marceline concurred. “I vote for movie on your couch.”

She nodded, sliding her now laden pizza base onto a stone slab so it could be put into the oven. “Movie it is then.” Bonnibel pulled Marceline’s onto the back of the long stone and shrugged vaguely at her bags. “Take your stuff over now and pick one for me.”

“You’d trust me to pick a movie?” Marceline asked with a sly smile and a raised eyebrow.

“Sure. And if I don’t like it, I’ll eat your pizza.”

“Touché. I’ll get a good one. Promise.” With a less obnoxious smirk and more of a pleasant grin, Marceline disappeared to collect her things and take them around to the flat.

The plate was heavy now with both pizzas on it, but Peter was kind enough to pull the back door open so she could get outside. “Where’d she go?” he asked, helping her to slip the stone into the now very hot front of the oven.

“To pick a movie,” Bonnibel explained. “She doesn’t want to watch the news.”

He flashed his teeth. “You mean she doesn’t want to eat with me, right?” Peter wiggled his eyebrows. “Bet she just would rather I wasn’t interrupting whatever bonding session you’re going to have.” He winked.

Bonnibel felt her cheeks heat. “We’re not… That’s not… No. Oh my god, Peter, no. Don’t… Just don’t.”

“Alright,” he said, smiling, holding his hands up as she closed the door. “Sheesh. You let me know when she’s ready to leave and I’ll drive her. No sense her walking through the cold at night.”

“Yeah, okay. Thanks, Peter.”

It didn’t take the oven long to cook their food but Bonnie spent that time sitting in a chair she’d dragged over. The fires inside were incredibly hot and in the chill of the evening they warmed her to her marrow quite nicely. Marceline appeared again, smiling quietly, just before they finished cooking. She had plates with her and a big round pizza slicer to cut them with.

“Ready?” she asked.

“Seems like it. Help me get them out.”

Marceline swore when the heated edge of the stone caught the side of her hand, almost dropping the mitt and subsequently, the pizzas. Bonnie tried so very hard not to, but she smiled as her friend stuck the burned skin in her mouth, eyes wide, startled. She kept swearing around her hand, Bonnibel was glad it was too muffled for her to understand.

“Can you carry the slicer?” she asked around her smile. “I have a first aid kit in my flat I can patch you up with.”

She nodded, balancing the big knife on the plates and carrying them all in one hand. Bonnibel hoped she didn’t drop them because she was liable to lose a toe. The first thing Marceline did when they got inside the flat was stick her hand under the cold tap in the kitchenette.

“Holy shit,” Marceline cried again. “That thing is freaking hot.”

“Hang on, you big baby,” Bonnie chortled. “I’ll get the antiseptic.”

Marceline glared at her. “I’m not a baby. You touch it.”

Bonnibel laid the kit out on the bench-top; she pulled Marceline’s hand from the water to look at it. The burn wasn’t so bad, sure it’d hurt, but it wasn’t as though she was going to need an amputation. There probably wouldn’t even be a scar.

“I… I don’t think I need the antiseptic, Bon,” Marceline said quietly.

“I’d rather you didn’t get an infection, thank you,” she replied tartly, drying the skin. “And the cold will help it.” She mixed some of the antiseptic with burn cream and smoothed it gently over the red.

Marceline hissed, sucking air through her teeth. “Will my thumb still work?” she asked.

“It should. If not, I suppose you can sue the stone plate people.”

“Don’t joke. I need that thumb to play music.”

“And I would be absolutely devastated if you couldn’t play anymore so stop twitching and let me put a bandage on it.”

Marceline pouted.

The burn seared above her metacarpal bone, thankfully it was away from tendons, nerves and didn’t stretch far enough along her thumb to have burned through the webbing there. The back of the hand is more durable than the palm anyway, so Marceline wouldn’t have anything to worry about. Bonnie placed a square of bandage over the area before sticking it down with medical tape. Experimentally, Marceline flexed her fingers, pulling the material taut but not peeling it free.

“Thanks, Bon,” she muttered. “What kind of care instructions do I need?”

“Try not to get it wet for about a day, after that you can take it off and run cold water on it periodically,” Bonnibel explained, packing the kit away. “Ice works too.”

“Sweet. Can I cut the pizzas or what?”

“Sure,” she called, putting the kit back in the bathroom. “Peter wants you to let him know when you’re leaving so he can drive you. He doesn’t want you walking.”

“How considerate. But I already sent my dad a text telling him I’ll call when I want him to get me. Pete doesn’t have to trouble himself.” Marceline was frowning at the slicer, pressing it into the pizza with her tongue between her teeth.

Bonnie fought back the urge to call her adorable and instead pulled glasses from the cupboard and drink from the fridge. She swallowed her desire to find out what movie Marceline had picked. It was probably something with shock factor and she didn’t want to ruin that.

When Marceline carried their plates in, Bonnie put to her, “So what are we watching?”

The other girl smiled worryingly. “Hang on and find out.”

“Did you pick something you know I’ll hate, because I am feeding you and that seems wrong to me.”

“Just wait, alright?”

“Alright.”

The movie started, opening credits rolling in. An older movie then, most new ones didn’t have opening credits. Space dust. A… oh God. A Ridley Scott film? Tom Skerritt?

Bonnie turned her eyes on Marceline. “Alien?” she deadpanned.

Marceline grinned. “You got that before the title came up. You’re good.”

“I’ve seen it before,” Bonnie replied. “It’s a classic. Definitely my favourite sci-fi horror movie.”

“You watch horror movies?” Marceline’s jaw dropped.

“Are you kidding? The genre offers so much room for creative license, science fiction is awesome. No hating, but at least Alien has some real meat to the story. ‘In space, no one can hear you scream’… Come on, that’s the best tagline. Besides, HR Giger is a genius and the cinematics in this movie are fantastic. I mean, they still had CRT displays on all their computer monitors even though it’s set sometime in the far future. And the lived-in feel? No,” Bonnie said, shaking her head as she lifted a slice of pizza. “The imagery in this is excellent. Also, who doesn’t love aliens?”

“You’re the best person in the whole world,” Marceline breathed. “I would never have picked you as a science fiction junky.”

“Believe it, sister. The first movie I ever watched was Star Wars: A New Hope. I love sci-fi.”

“And Harrison Ford, no doubt,” Marceline teased. “At least I know what kinds of movies to watch with you now. Here I was thinking you’d be a big Lake House fan.”

Bonnie rolled that over for a moment. “I’ll make an exception for that one. It’s a dumb romance movie superfluously, but it does involve a time travelling letter box. That’s pretty cool.”

“Wow. I had no idea you were a closet geek, Banner.”

“I’m in the closet about a lot of things,” she mumbled around her food.

“Oh, do tell.”

She snorted. “You wish. Are you really not going to come with us tomorrow?” Bonnie was very blatant about her subject change, figuring that if it was obvious Marceline would take the hint and drop the other topic.

Her friend eyed her questioningly and then shrugged. “Nah, probably not. I mean, much as I enjoy riling Eleanor up, it’s probably not worth the trauma.”

“If you change your mind…” Bonnie left the offer open.

“Just watch the movie.”

It was surprisingly enjoyable to watch the film with Marceline. She had insight on so many things – clearly she was a movie buff in her down time – and the dissection of the events wasn’t as irritating as it was with other people. Weirdly enough, Marceline had intelligent things to say about it.

Her pointed question when the eggs were discovered, “Okay, who in their right mind touches some strange biological matter on an alien planet without at least thinking that it might eat them?” had been so well timed that Bonnie actually laughed. Her queries on how realistic a cyborg could possibly be was next and she noted the paradox of a robot eating human food and how that could even fly. Honestly, Bonnie had never enjoyed a horror movie more than that one in that moment.

“I can feel my skin crawl in this scene,” Bonnie told her when Ripley ended up in the escape pod with the Alien. “I don’t think I could’ve handled this if it were me.”

“You’re not as badarse as Sigourney Weaver though,” Marceline commented, texting her dad to pick her up.

She chose to ignore that. “In spite of the fact that sucking the Alien out into space in this one was really cool, I think they overdid that particular solution in the franchise.”

“The first one is the best. I mean, a cow-dog-Alien whatever the hell that was? No.”

“It was that grotesque human one in the fourth movie that got me, to be perfectly honest. His nose cavity just… grossed me out.”

Marceline laughed. “The new one… the prequel was pretty good though.”

“It went back to the original formula though, see?” Bonnie pointed out. “It was a plane full of people going to an alien planet to investigate some beacon thing and facing off against a creature outside what they were prepared for. It was brilliant. Turning it into a movie about how humanity was created was clever, but the fact that the original Alien franchise wasn’t actually confirmed as being connected until the movie was released was the best part. I remember sitting in the theatre and noting all the details that reminded me of the first one and my dad got really frustrated.”

“Only you would pick up on something like the murals carved into the walls though,” Marceline said dryly.

“Not just that, but the opening scene where they come out of cyber-sleep, that was so similar to the original. And the Weyland Company? As if that wasn’t a gimme. And then the control room was basically replicated… although if that’s the planet from Alien, I’m kind of confused as to how the pilot got back in his seat…”

“Different ship,” Marceline told her. “The robot said there was more than one ship.”

“I just have a feeling the Alien would’ve gone back to its birthplace…” Bonnie mused. “Like a turtle returning to the same beach to nest.”

Marceline smiled, lifting an eyebrow. “Have I told you you’re a weirdo yet today?”

“Probably.”

“You’re a weirdo.”

“Thanks.”

“Good to know this about you though,” Marceline lamented. “Now I know what not to bring up in conversation or you’ll geek out on me.”

Bonnibel could only smile back at her. “I love theories on movies and things like that. It’s fun to see what fans come up with and then compare them to what the canon actually reveals.”

“You’re scaring me.”

“Sorry.”

Marceline opened her mouth – undoubtedly to say ‘no you’re not’ – but there was a knock at the door. Bonnie bounced up to get it, Marceline standing to get her bag, assuming it was her father. It was.

“Good evening, Father,” Bonnibel said, beaming. “How was your day?”

He offered her a translucent smile in return. “Hello, Bonnibel. It wasn’t so bad. And yours? Productive, I hope.”

“Of course. Come in while you wait for her, she’s probably going to dawdle.”

Hansen sighed, stepping inside to perch on a stool in the kitchen. “No doubt.”

She slid up onto the bench beside him. “Marceline said you had a meeting.”

“I did, yes, with Simon from the school,” Hansen muttered. “Getting him on-side was a good idea, if I do say so myself.” He turned his eyes up at her then, his smile flickering. “Thank you, by the way, for helping Marceline with her grades. I’m so glad Simon hired you.”

Bonnie beamed at him. “It was nothing. My pleasure.”

“I highly doubt that,” he said wryly. “Nonetheless, when I employed Simon to help get Marceline to try harder at school, I honestly doubted his ‘get her a tutor’ solution would work. Thank you for proving me wrong.”

“I make it a habit to defy expectations.” She winked. “Being predictable is boring.”

Hansen chuckled lowly. “Still, I do hope you’ll continue to work with her this semester.”

“Mr Petrikov has already given me the go ahead,” she confirmed.

“What?”

They both turned to see Marceline standing at the entrance to the kitchen, bag slung over her shoulder, a look of horror on her face. Bonnie tried to smile at her, but judging from Marceline’s expression, something was wrong.

“You’re working for him?” Marceline asked quietly, eyes flicking to her dad, indicating who she meant.

“I work for the school, Marceline,” Bonnibel replied, frowning. Her stomach clenched uncomfortably at the accusation in Marceline’s gaze. Misplaced guilt and anxiety pooling together, sitting heavily in her middle. Hansen stood, heading for the door.

Marceline shook her head. “I heard what you said. I thought you were on my side. I trusted you and you’re no better than him.” Her voice was soft – angry and quiet – which was worse than yelling; the venom made Bonnie sick.

Her mouth opened, unsure what to say because she had no idea what she’d done wrong, but Marceline waved a hand, cutting her off. Her friend stormed past, radiating cold. An anchor forged from her disquiet sat in the pit of Bonnie’s stomach, weighing off to one side, falling to her feet. She turned, eyes wide and confused, fixed on Marceline, trying to make sense of what was going on right now.

“I…” Marceline began, voice catching, pausing in the doorway. “I thought you were different.” She stepped out into the cold night following her father and Bonnie wanted so badly to go after her. But the anchor settled in her feet, intent on keeping her where she was. A word reverberated in her head, peeling off the inside of her skull acting nothing so much like a giant bell. The word was supplied by her subconscious to fill in blanks created by this situation but that didn’t mean it made any more sense to her.

Betrayal.

Slowly, she broached the doorway, watching Marceline leave, shrugging her father away, stalking down the drive to walk home alone. Bonnie’s whole body froze, in shock, that anchor down in her ankles creaked in protestation, feeling the strain against its moorings. She should go after her, should sit her down and demand an explanation; offer one of her own even. But then the icy look in Marceline’s eyes filled her mind, the distaste, the bitterness, and she couldn’t. She felt this unfounded need to give Marceline space and hope to God she cooled down enough to have some sort of coherent conversation.

Her phone beeped then and she snatched it up. A flash of hope surged through her when she read Marceline’s name. When she took in the message, however, the optimism dissipated as fast as it had come.

We’re done. I’m filing a timetable change when I get home. Don’t talk to me again.

Her heart gave out and sank, rolling about somewhere down near her toes with the anchor. She could feel the chains on the anchor stretch, strain and finally snap. Everything lurched around her. This was happening. How was this happening?

What just happened?