Friday 23rd January 2015
Marceline blinked at her, a smug smile creeping across her face. Bonnie could tell she was trying to hold it in, to not look overly satisfied with herself, but it didn’t work.
“That was one time,” Marceline muttered, still fighting her smile. “I promise I won’t do it again.” She lifted her arm, wrapped in a plaster cast. “I couldn’t if I wanted to.”
Bonnibel narrowed her eyes. “Do you want to?”
“And risk you telling me you hate me again? No thanks.” Her expression shifted, forming something a little closer to hope. “Please? School goes back in three days.”
She sighed. “Fine. But I’m wearing swimmers this time.” With that she stalked away to get changed. Honestly, giving Marceline the gratification of winning an argument really peeved her. But… maybe it wouldn’t be as bad this time. She did have an awfully hard time telling the other girl ‘no’. Which probably wasn’t healthy, but Bonnie couldn’t give less of a damn.
When she stepped outside ten minutes later (bag over one shoulder and togs under her clothes) she found Marceline leaning against her car. With her left hand, Marceline jangled the keys at her. “You get to drive,” she informed her. “Since you’re so worried I’ll crash and kill us both.”
Bonnie snatched them off her. “Well you do suck at multitasking.”
“I’m getting better.”
“Whatever you say.”
At least Bonnie knew where they were headed this time; she wasn’t being kept in the dark. Either way, Marceline’s sudden sing-along to the radio was a lot better than tension might have been. Tension was bad. It would make her think of all the things she wanted, things she wanted out of her head. Like… Like how gorgeous Marceline was in a flannel button down. Nope. Not thinking about that.
“So are the others going to be there?” she asked, fingers clenching around the wheel. Bonnibel wasn’t sure whether she wanted the answer to be ‘yes’ or ‘no’ more. Probably an affirmative would be healthier in the long run.
“Yep,” Marceline sang, popping her ‘p’. “It was Jake’s idea. Keila said she might come out as well with her boyfriend. Be nice to see her these holidays.”
Bonnie cut a glance across the car. “I take it you haven’t spoken much, then.”
“Nope.” It was as poppy and sing-song as the last reply. “Not for… Oh, Lord. I don’t think we’ve spoken since Christmas.”
“It’s fine. Before it would’ve sucked massively because she was my only friend…” Marceline paused, eyes flicking up to Bonnie’s face. Her next words were gentle. “I’ve got other friends now.”
Blindly – keeping her eyes on the road – Bonnie reached out a hand and punched at Marceline’s shoulder. “Yeah you do.”
Marceline laughed at her. “Maybe if she comes, we can make plans.”
“You’re going to see her on Monday,” Bonnie reminded her with an eye roll. “Make plans then.”
“I hate it when you’re all logical and stuff.”
“Nah,” Bonnie hummed. “You love me.”
Marceline’s gaze flashed to Bonnie and out of the corner of her eye she saw her friend’s face break into a warm smile. “I guess I do,” Marceline mumbled.
And then – in a completely illogical fashion – Bonnie’s heart sighed. It was stupid for that to make her as happy as it did. It was also really scary how frequently she had to remind herself of the strictly platonic nature of their friendship. Really. Freaking. Terrifying.
Parked alongside Jake’s four wheel drive was Finn’s new car. Slightly smaller and less beat up, it was bright blue and far too shiny to be sitting in the dirt out here. Bonnie knew the gleam to the paint wouldn’t last, but Finn loved it, so there should have been no amount of surprise anywhere that he’d driven it today.
Bonnie pulled in next to it as Hayden bounded from the passenger side. “Where’s Ellen?” she asked the other redhead as the ignition died.
“Not coming,” Hayden told her. “She’s going out with Brad tonight.”
“I guess that means she and Melissa are back on speaking terms,” Marceline grumbled, as she all but fell from the car. “Oh goody.”
Bonnibel rolled her eyes again. “One day those two are going to have a proper falling out,” she opined, retrieving her bag from the boot. “Ellen will realise that Brad and Melissa were obviously meant to be together and she’ll have to find a new sometimes-best-friend.”
“It all seems like too much effort,” Marceline agreed, taking a bag with her one good hand. “I mean… why would you expend energy pining after someone who just doesn’t want you back?”
Inwardly, Bonnie cringed, wondering if that’s what she was doing. Outwardly, she just sighed. “Masochism,” she offered. “Let me have one of those bags.”
“I’m fine,” Marceline grouched, pouting. “I have a broken arm. I’m not an invalid.”
“Well then.” Bonnie slammed the boot closed and headed for the tree line. “Sorry to offend your sensibilities.”
“I’m carrying two bags, Bon,” she commented dryly. “Two whole bags. Look out.”
“The doctor said not to strain yourself.”
“And I repeat: two whole bags. This isn’t straining myself. Straining myself would be walking to the ditch and back.”
“Well, what did the doctor say about going swimming with a cast on? I’m sure that’s no good for it.”
“Sheesh, Bon, you’re a science whiz. Doc said it was fine. He said I could go swimming if I wanted. It’s summer. Like he could stop me.”
“Would you two stop bickering like an old married couple and just relax,” Jake interjected. “Amusing as it is, it’s still draining.”
“Yeah,” Marceline agreed. “Listen to Jake.”
Bonnie glared at her. “Shut up.”
“Oh my god,” Hayden gasped melodramatically as she dropped onto the log. “You are an old married couple. Lay off each other before you put a hip out.”
In spite of the teasing (which made her bristle), the analogy made Bonnie’s insides stutter. She had to focus very hard to make the sensation subside. And even then, it didn’t quite go away.
“Why don’t you go for a walk,” Jake suggested. “Clear your heads and all that.”
“Together?” Hayden questioned. “Gee, I don’t know. Do you think they’ll both come back alive?”
Jake hummed in agreement. “Maybe it’s too dangerous.”
“I’m leaving,” Marceline announced, raising a hand to jab a finger at the ridge. “I’m going that way.” Her eyes landed on Bonnie, a silent query being put forth.
She thought on it for a moment, wondering if it was sane. But when Jake opened his mouth she rode over him. “Yeah, I’m coming.” She hastened after Marceline who had already traipsed off through the trees. “We’re not climbing the hill though.”
“Because that definitely counts as straining yourself.”
Marceline chuckled. “Nice to know you care.”
“Of course I care. I’m not a robot.”
“Where are we walking to then?” Marceline asked her, looping her good arm through Bonnie’s. It was always a surprise when Marceline initiated some form of contact, but that didn’t mean Bonnie didn’t enjoy it.
After taking a good twenty seconds to compose herself, Bonnie murmured, “What if we sat at the bottom of the ridge? There’s river there, right?”
“Right. Sounds good to me.”
For most of the way they walked in silence after that. It was punctuated once by Marceline, who tripped on a root and nearly fell head first into an ant nest. Her string of curses rang through the trees but Bonnie just found it funny.
“Hey,” Marceline shoved her in the shoulder. “That would’ve been incredibly painful.”
“Sorry.” Bonnie bit down on her laughter, rolling her lip under. “It would’ve been. A friend of mine in Ormeau was allergic. I’ve seen how bad it can be.”
“Then why were you laughing?”
Bonnie wound their arms together again. “You’re not normally clumsy. The tripping was funny, the ant nest wouldn’t have been.”
Marceline stepped out onto the rocks along the river bank and collapsed on the edge, pulling Bonnie down with her. “Are you allergic to anything?” Marceline asked, kicking her feet in the water.
“Wool… I think,” she mused. “When I was little I used to get really bad rashes if I wore woollen clothing. Ever since then my paranoia makes sure I only ever buy things that are some kind of blend.”
“That’s really weird,” Marceline muttered.
“What about you?”
“Tomatoes. My brother and I are both deathly allergic to tomatoes.”
“When you say ‘deathly’ are you exaggerating?”
Marceline rolled her eyes. “A little… Not much. I remember my brother eating a burger once and he’d specifically asked for no tomatoes but they put them on anyway and his throat closed over. I spent the night in the emergency ward with my dad. I had a run in once with diced tomatoes in spaghetti and it sucked. I had an epi-pen though which stopped me from having as bad a reaction as Marshall. I dunno if it’s classed as a fatal allergy or whatever, but it really stinks.”
Bonnie could feel all the blood drain from her face. “Oh… kay. No tomatoes for you.”
When Marceline looked back at her she started smiling. “You’ve gone white. Are you alright?”
“That’s just… a really intense allergy,” Bonnibel murmured.
Marceline glanced at her, tore away again as if she’d been burned. “Why?”
“About before. Trying to take the bags off you, I mean.”
“It’s fine,” she responded, shrugging. “Nice that someone bothers me about stuff like that, you know? Dad doesn’t.”
“It’s really okay, Bonnie. Promise.”
She nodded, sincerely hoping it was alright. Marceline bumped their shoulders together and Bonnie looked over at her. Her friend just smiled.
“You’ve got something on your face,” Bonnie told her, deadpan.
Marceline blinked, her smile wavering.
“Just here.” Bonnie ran a thumb over the corner of her grin. “What’s with the smile, doofus?”
“You look worried.”
“I suppose I’m worried about your arm. I just don’t want to seem pushy about it. Why does that make you smile?”
“People don’t normally worry about me. It’s nice. Do you want a hug?”
At that, Bonnie couldn’t help but laugh. “You’re so weird.” Still, she wrapped one arm around Marceline’s neck and squeezed.
“I said ‘hug’,” Marceline rasped. “Not ‘strangle hold’.”
Bonnibel kept laughing and slithered sideways off the rock into the water, pulling Marceline after her. She tried not to dwell on how nice it felt when Marceline threw an arm around her waist to keep what passed for balance in freefall. Or when Marceline pressed her face to Bonnie’s shoulder, eyes squeezed shut against the water.
When they surfaced, Bonnibel was still chuckling and Marceline’s fist was still clenched in Bonnie’s shirt. “That was mean,” Marceline grumbled, spitting water out.
“Payback’s a bitch.”
They froze then, inches from each other (and only just realising it). Bonnie felt her heart gallop away, battering her diaphragm, vibrations forcing her throat closed. Her vision – so full of electric blue – felt funny. She imagined this is what horses with blinkers could see; aware there was more of the world, but fixated on one tiny little detail.
Marceline’s gaze flicked down and then back up immediately after, red tinting her cheeks, teeth worrying her bottom lip in a way that turned Bonnie’s intestines to goo. Her blue, blue eyes darted down again, then away this time, as if meeting Bonnie’s scrutiny was embarrassing. Marceline’s fingers in the fabric on Bonnie’s shoulder shifted, tensing, and when she looked back there was resolve in her eyes.
Resolve that failed to mask the dilation in her pupils.
“Go out with me,” Marceline blurted.
Then went as red as the tomatoes she was allergic to. Bonnie blinked as Marceline withdrew, pulling away, her hand vanishing. She muttered a quiet ‘sorry’ and took another step back, keeping her eyes averted.
“Like… on a date?” Bonnie enquired softly.
Marceline’s gaze whipped back to her. “Uh… yeah.”
Bonnie’s lips tugged upwards in a ghostly smile, her heart beating twice as much as usual. “Alright. Sure, let’s do that.”
“What?” The word sort of… fell from her mouth rather than being given permission to leave.
“A date. I’m good with that.” Actually she was a huge deal better than just ‘good’. That was too bland. She was excellent.
Marceline’s eyes flicked away and then back. “Do you know what that means?” Her eyes were wide, as if she’d asked without thinking about it and was now utterly terrified.
Bonnie shrugged. “I believe it can be anything, often dinner or movies. Picnics are common, too, I’m told. Some dates are accompanied by some sort of romantic declaration.”
A little of Marceline’s normal sarcasm crept back in then when she asked, “Was that the dictionary definition?” The shock seemed to be wearing off. Not that Bonnie knew why she was shocked. She’d been the one asking.
“No,” Bonnie replied, equally level. “If you wanted that it would be something along the lines of… verb; colloquial; a social engagement with someone in whom one has a romantic interest. As in: to date such-and-such. How’s that?”
Marceline shook her head. “You are such a nerd.”
She shuffled her feet through the water, kicking up mud between the rocks. “So…” she began, scratching the back of her neck. “You’d go on a date? With me?” Marceline asked again, obviously making sure she’d heard right.
“Definitely.” Bonnie closed the space between them and elbowed her gently.
Marceline frowned. “You know I’ll be there, right?”
Bonnie tried and failed to stop the smile from breaking across her face. “Of course I know you’ll be there. That’s kind of the point.” Marceline’s brow creased, her bottom lip sticking out in a strange mix of confusion and disbelief. “What’s wrong?”
“I’m just lame. Don’t worry.”
“I’m going to worry until you tell me.”
“I swear it’s fine. It’s more of a third date kind of admission.”
She’d wanted to say she was wearing the biggest grin she could manage, but at that, Bonnie was kind of forced to admit it got wider. “There’s going to be a third date? Wait. You’ve thought about a third date? You only just asked me out right now.”
“Hey,” Marceline growled, her face going a shade of red that Bonnie decided she quite liked. At least she didn’t sound so strangely strangled anymore. “In my defence, you’re the most amazing person in the universe. I didn’t actually think you’d say ‘yes’ to going on a date with me. Calm down.”
“You thought about it though,” Bonnie sang, winding her fingers into Marceline’s. “You imagined a date with me. Wow, you’re so cheesy.”
“I’m going to change my mind any second now,” her friend warned.
“No you’re not.”
“No. I’m not. You’re adorable.” She paused, smiling at the way Marceline pouted at the adjective. Then, in a moment of boldness (read: brazen idiocy), she pressed a soft kiss to Marceline’s shoulder. “I’m glad you asked.”
Marceline’s eyebrows shot up. “For serious?”
“Duh,” she chuckled. “I’ve been secretly hoping for it for a while.”
“Why didn’t you say something?”
Bonnie scoffed. “I didn’t know you liked girls. If I did, you can be damn sure I would’ve thrown my name into that ring post-haste.”
Marceline blinked slowly, at a loss for words. But she couldn’t exactly argue. The fact that she swung both ways had never been advertised. At least, Bonnie didn’t think it had. If she’d just missed a ton of signs then she was going to feel monumentally stupid.
“Come on,” Bonnibel whispered, tugging on the hand still trapped in her fingers. “Let’s head back.”
“Wait,” Marceline burst out. Bonnie turned back to look at her, brows drawn together in askance. “Please don’t tell anyone just yet.” She heaved a deep breath (winced as she irritated her ribs) and exhaled heavily. “I only just asked you out today and if someone told my dad he’d kill me and we’d never be allowed within screaming distance again. I don’t… I can’t…”
“Hey,” Bonnie murmured. “It’s alright. I wasn’t going to tell anyone before you’re ready.” She tilted her head to one side, smiling softly. “You did only just ask me out, like I was going to ruin that by blabbing.” She punctuated that by squeezing Marceline’s hand. Thankfully, she got a slight compression in return.
“You’re the best, Bon,” Marceline whispered, letting Bonnibel help her out of the river.
“Oh good, you didn’t kill each other,” Jake sighed when they collapsed at the fire, wringing wet from the creek. “We were starting to wonder if we’d have to send a search team after you.”
“Maybe dig up the forest for your remains,” Finn added.
“Sadly no, we’re both fine,” Marceline retorted drolly. “Guess you’re stuck with us.”
Better than fine, Bonnie decided happily, trying her best not to smile too widely in case Pippa suspected something. Not looking at Marceline and grinning like an absolute fool was also hard. But no harder than pretending she didn’t care.
“You guys are soaked,” Hayden noted, lips twisting with amusement. “Did you push her in again, Marceline?”
“No, actually,” she replied tonelessly. “She pulled me in this time. Something about payback.”
That time, Bonnie allowed the smug smirk to flash. “Can’t let something like that go unpunished, can I?”
Pippa rolled her eyes. Bonnibel very nearly sighed in relief when no more was said about it though and easy conversation picked up. Laughter at Jake for burning his sausage and backhanded compliments for Finn for managing to follow Hayden’s absurdly simple instructions echoed loudly into the sinking sunlight. Pippa gasped, scandalised, when Hayden pulled the box of do-it-yourself-fireworks she’d been gifted for Christmas out of her bag. Finn just hollered, racing to his car and retrieving the fire blanket.
It wasn’t needed as Hayden let off a series of crackers. Most of them fizzled around the ground in little waterfalls. One launched a little higher than Hayden had meant for it, and exploded in a shower of orange and red sparkles with a ringing whiplash sound that reverberated off the cliff face. There was a moment of prolonged silence after the last of the echoes faded and then boisterous cackles broke out all the way around the fire.
As the sun finally dipped below the horizon and a chill crept over the campfire, a shivering Marceline grabbed a couple of blankets from her car and draped one around Bonnie’s shoulders. The other she wrapped around herself and even though they might’ve been sitting a little closer than usual, no one commented. They simply pulled out marshmallows to roast and Hayden picked up the frayed tubes of her crackers.
It wasn’t until Pippa received what they all interpreted was a rather frazzled text from Ellen, that they even realised someone else might’ve seen the lone firework. When it dawned on them that the cops could be coming up the highway any second now, they scrambled to clear the space. Fireworks are illegal after all. Hayden trampled out the fire as they gathered their stuff, joking quietly about what might happen if they were caught and how it was obviously because Marceline was such a bad influence on them all (which got a single exasperated eye roll from her).
Then they were all piling into their vehicles and taking off. Somewhere along the highway, Bonnie lost sight of Finn’s car, and the headlights of Jake’s truck behind her faded from sight. It felt somewhat surreal (and a tad lonely) to be driving through the pitch black of the night on an empty stretch of road. The only sound in the car the quiet murmurs from the radio.
More than once she caught Marceline staring at her with this strange little smile on her face. It was some mix of wonderment and amazed happiness that made Bonnie tingle all over knowing it was directed at her. In whatever illogical way, it warmed her even better than the towel she was still tangled in.
“Well you done, done me and you bet I felt it,” Marceline sang softly as Bonnie pulled the car into her street. “I tried to be chill, but you’re so hot that I melted. I fell right through the cracks, now I’m trying to get back. Before the cool dawn run out, I’ll be giving it my bestest. And nothing’s gonna stop me but divine intervention.”
“You’re a dork,” Bonnie whispered when she stopped singing. “Come in and get changed out of those clothes. Your dad will have a fit if you go home looking like a drowned cat.”
Marceline’s whole face lit up mischievously. “You sure that’s allowed? I think that’s a bit too fast, yeah?”
Bonnie gave her a playful shove. “It might be warm, but that doesn’t mean I want you to test your luck. Get into some dry clothes so I don’t worry about you catching pneumonia.”
“Yes, dear,” Marceline chortled, sliding from the car.
“You’re insufferable,” she grumbled under her breath as she followed.
As soon as she stepped inside, Bonnibel felt this inexplicable tiredness sink into her bones, draping across her shoulders and she had to stifle a yawn. Marceline just grinned at her and headed for her bedroom to scrounge up some clothes. She was back so fast Bonnie wondered whether she might not have dozed off briefly. What an unfortunate time to feel so drained.
“Dry clothes,” Marceline announced, waving her left hand at herself. “To stave off pneumonia. Does it satisfy?”
“Please don’t patronise me, Marceline,” she said tersely. Instantly she regretted the tone and tugged gently on the hem of Marceline’s borrowed shirt. “Sorry. I just don’t want you getting sick.”
Marceline cocked her head to one side. “I know. But I was going to have a shower when I got home. And it’s just… right around the corner.” She looped her fingers through Bonnie’s and smiled that wonderful smile. “I’ll be fine.”
Bonnie just pouted.
“When…” Marceline faltered then, red flushing her face. “Uh… I mean… Do you want to go out on Sunday?” Bonnibel opened her mouth to point out that, hey, it’s the last day of the holidays, and they should probably not be planning anything right before school started, but Marceline spoke over the top of her. “I know,” she murmured. “But I don’t want school to get in the way, you know? I won’t keep you up late. Promise.”
A grin quirked at Bonnie’s mouth. “You already have a plan?”
Marceline huffed and shrugged. “Nah, I was just gonna wing it.” Bonnie slapped her arm. “Okay, I’m kidding. Yes, I have an idea already. Sheesh. Be pretty stupid not to.”
Bonnibel harrumphed, but gave herself away by letting the smile slip back through. “Alright then. Sunday it is. Midnight curfew, though. I’m not going to sleep through the first day back.”
With a fond eye roll, Marceline beamed at her. “I’d much prefer you didn’t sleep through our first date. School be damned. But sure, I’ll have you back for bedtime.”
“No mocking,” Bonnie scolded around her grin (the damn thing just would not go away). “But that otherwise sounds excellent.”
Marceline squeezed her hand once and hesitated. A look Bonnie couldn’t place flashed across her face as she rocked gently on the balls of her feet. Then she snapped out of it, offered her a massive grin as she backed to the door. “I’ll see you then,” she said with a wink. Then she was gone.
In spite of the tiredness thrumming through her veins, Bonnie honestly couldn’t suppress the spring in her step. Marceline asked her out. On a date. This was the best day ever. She was practically vibrating with excitement. Right through the warm shower and donning her pyjamas and pulling the single light sheet up to her chin as she collapsed onto her bed, she wore a goofy grin and her heart jounced around stupidly in her chest.
With the elated smile still curving her lips she felt the weariness wash over her and sweep her into slumber.