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Pray for the Preacher's Daughter

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Wednesday 20th May 2015

“I don’t want to.”

“This is not a democracy.”

“You’re so mean!”

“I am not being mean, you big baby.”

“You’re right. It’s blackmail.”

Bonnie tugged on the hem of Marceline’s shirt, her eyes doing that thing again. The thing Marceline can’t resist for more than two seconds. She sighed.

“I don’t want to, Bon,” she whined. And she knew it was pathetic, but honestly; she really didn’t want to be there. “They don’t like me.” That was a pitiful excuse and she knew it.

“They do,” Bonnibel scoffed. “Please? Just for a little while?”

She huffed. “Ugh, alright. You’re the worst.”

Yet the twinkle in Bonnie’s eyes said she totally knew Marceline wasn’t being serious. “Sure. There will be cake and we don’t have to stay the whole night. Okay?”

“You know I’ve never been to a ‘sleepover’ before, right?” she asked dubiously. Just making sure, naturally.

Bonnie’s head tilted slightly to one side, a little crinkle of confusion creasing the corners of her eyes. “Keila’s never stayed the night at your place? Or vice versa?”

She shook her head, sliding backwards up onto the counter in Bonnie’s kitchen. “Nope. Dad never allowed it. He was really strict about that.”

“You never rebelled?” Her tone was doubtful.

“Going to parties and staying out late doesn’t count as a sleepover,” she replied sardonically. “No. Neither of us has ever slept at the other’s house.”

“Your father is a very tightly wound man,” Bonnibel exhaled, leaning against the counter beside her.

“You’re telling me.”

“But that’s beside the point,” she decided, bumping into Marceline’s knee. “You’ve stayed here.”

Marceline rolled her eyes. “That is totally different. He thinks you’re a saint.”

“You think I’m a saint,” she teased.

“I’ve called you a saint. Never said I believed it,” she huffed.

Bonnie clapped a hand to her chest in mock disbelief, hurt written across her face. It was an act, of course. But Marceline still felt bad, so she slid forward off the bench and kissed Bonnie carefully.

“Okay, I think you’re a saint,” she whispered against Bonnibel’s lips. “You’re right.”

“Mm,” Bonnie hummed, arms winding around her neck. “You’re pretty saintly yourself.”

Marceline laughed, tried to protest. Bonnie didn’t let her. Which was just fine with her, really. There was no way in hell she’d ever complain about being kissed by Bonnibel Banner. No sir.

“And will you come with me to Pippa’s later?” Bonnie asked gently.

“Absolutely.”

“That’s very decisive. Such a strong change of heart,” she laughed, the sound vibrating through Marceline’s lips, setting her nerve endings alight.

“You’re being particularly persuasive,” she noted.

Her lips lingered a tortuous moment longer before Bonnie jerked back abruptly. “Wait,” she sighed. She sucked her bottom lip between her teeth and that wasn’t distracting at all, was it? No. “Do you want to go?”

Marceline hesitated. “Sure.”

“If you don’t want to go, I don’t want to make you,” Bonnie told her, brow creasing as if she was just realising she’d been pushy. “That’s… really bad form. I’m sorry.”

“Are you going to be there?”

“Yes…” Bonnie said slowly.

“Then I want to be there.” She grinned. “Simple.”

Bonnie’s teeth let her lip go with a quiet pop and she returned the smile wanly. “Are you positive? Much as I’d love to hang out with my amazing girlfriend, if she doesn’t want to be dragged to this thing at Pippa’s, I won’t make her.”

“I’m going. But I won’t stay the night. That would be suspiciously out of character.”

Once more, Bonnibel tugged her lower lip between her teeth. Her thinking face was so distracting. And adorable. “What if,” she began tentatively. “We come back here after dinner? It’s a compromise.”

“Sounds like a deal,” she murmured, pressing another gentle kiss to the corner of Bonnie’s mouth. And Bonnibel seemed only too happy to let herself be distracted.

 

-*…*…*-

 

How it could be so easy to spend time with Bonnibel and yet closer to legendary difficulty when bracing for her friends escaped Marceline completely. It’s not like they were mean or angry or hateful. But… well, they could be kind of scary.

Today, the expression on Eleanor’s face was especially worrying. No amount of Pippa’s welcoming smile could make her feel less awkward about showing up. And ugh, Cameron was there too. Of course he was. Eleanor can’t go anywhere without arm candy. Typical.

Well… At the very least she could feel better knowing he wasn’t here with Bonnie. That would be her and he could suck it. That’s not childish at all, really.

“Hey, Marceline,” Jake exclaimed from the door to the kitchen. “Wasn’t expecting you.”

“Where’s Finn?” Pippa asked him, frowning like a champion. She didn’t even let Marceline say she could leave. How inconsiderate.

Jake’s eyes rolled skyward. “No idea,” he muttered.

Pippa just shoved past him. “Finn, get your finger out of the batter!”

He came hustling out of the kitchen not a second later with a spoon in one hand. He slapped Jake across the shoulder with the other. “Dude, you were supposed to cover for me.”

“Did you get the flavour?” Jake pressed, ignoring his cousin’s indignation.

“No. I only had time to get a spoon.” He brandished the implement for emphasis.

Jake only shrugged. “Should’ve gone straight for the bowl. That’s what fingers are for.”

“You do it next time,” he huffed. “Oh, hey, Marceline. Didn’t think you were coming.”

She blinked. “Did I get an invite?”

“Bonnie was told to ask you to come,” Eleanor piped up from the single seat couch where she was channel surfing. “Only Pippa thought you’d show.”

“I’m not crashing?” she whispered at Bonnie.

“Nope. Does that cramp your style?” she teased, grinning as she flopped onto the couch beside Cameron.

“It’s kinda nice, actually,” Marceline admitted quietly, sinking down next to her. “How’s life, Cam?”

He looked over, shocked; obviously not having expected to be addressed. “Oh… not much. Farm stuff mostly. My sister would’ve hated it here.”

“She’s not big on farms, huh?” Marceline asked.

“Not so much, no,” he laughed. “She’s… um… I don’t know how to say it nicely…”

“Nail polish and fancy dresses?” Bonnie guessed lightly.

He grinned. “Yeah. That’s a much better way than how I was going to say it. The muck would get to her eventually. The outdoors aren’t her scene and she doesn’t enjoy physical exertion.”

Marceline snapped her fingers. “I know someone like that.”

“Don’t,” Bonnie warned softly.

“No idea what you’re talking about, Bon,” she breezed. Still, Marceline didn’t really want to pick an argument. “How old is she?”

“Twenty. Two decades dedicated to irritating the male population,” he sighed.

“I take it you two get on very well,” Eleanor mumbled.

“Oh yeah,” he informed her flatly. “We’re practically joined at the hip.”

“Okay, so,” Pippa began, strolling into the room. “The cake is cooking, dinner will be ready in about an hour, so until then… ping pong?”

Eleanor’s head lolled back until it hit the armrest. “Why, Pip?”

“You can just watch then,” Penelope said, smiling. “The…” her eyes cut to Cameron briefly, “other two boys have already started.”

“I was hoping we could play some stupid party game,” Eleanor moaned, heaving up off the chair to head outside. “Truth or dare, never have I ever, two truths one lie… anything but ping pong.”

Cameron bumped her shoulder as he hurried out beside her. “You can play me. I suck.”

The rest of their conversation disappeared outside.

“And you two?” Pippa enquired.

“Yep,” Marceline decided (figuring she might as well make the most of this whole situation). “I’m gonna kick Finn’s butt.”

Penelope rolled her eyes. “Good luck with that.” Her head tilted slightly as her attention shifted to Bonnibel. “Bonnie?”

She stuck a hand out, a silent prompt for Marceline to pull her up. “I guess,” she sang as she was hauled to her feet. “I can adjudicate, right? I have no idea how to play ping pong.”

“Seriously?”

Marceline wouldn’t under pain of death admit that she found it funny that Pippa asked the same question in the same tone at the same time. She wouldn’t. It wasn’t funny.

But okay, yes she did smile a little bit.

Bonnie’s eyes flicked between them. “Yes, seriously. I’ve never played before.”

“I’m going to fix that,” Marceline declared. “I’ll go easy on you. But if you pick up ping pong as quickly as you picked up Medieval I don’t think I’ll have much to worry about.”

“Just don’t play Jake,” Pippa advised. “He’s a very sore loser.”

“Noted. Marceline’s not, so it’ll be fine.”

“Where’s Hayden?” Marceline questioned, only just realising they were short a redhead.

“She’ll be here for dinner, but she can’t stay the night and because it’s a weekday her dad wanted her to study before she came over,” Penelope explained. “Sometimes I think he’s the biggest fun-sponge in the world.”

“Then you remember that he’s actually running the school,” Marceline concluded.

“Exactly. I wish I’d seen Halte’s face when the rest of the staff accepted the petition. Would’ve been classic.”

“A real Kodak moment, to be sure.”

That was out.”

“Thanks, McEnroe.”

“Oh come on, that’s a low blow.”

“It was in.” Jake waved a hand at the corner of the table near his hip. “Babe, tell him that was in.”

“It was in,” Pippa concurred.

Finn’s bat hit the table as his hands were thrust into the air. “You weren’t even here,” he cried. “How would you know?”

She shrugged. “Jake’s my boyfriend. The ball was in.”

Jake beamed smugly. “You still playing or are you ceding the game?”

Finn snatched his bat back up and crouched over the table. “Damn right I’m still playing. Gotta make up for that lamearse call.”

Pippa rounded the big blue table set up on their expansive patio and sank into the chair beside Eleanor. A padded bench sat to one side of the table directly across from the chairs. Bonnie pulled Marceline down onto the cushions.

“You can explain the rules to me,” she whispered. “So I don’t make a total idiot out of myself later.”

“Sure. Basically, in singles – which is this – the ball has to bounce on the other side of the net and inside the white lines,” she muttered back. “And when you serve it has to bounce on your side and their side. If it doesn’t, they get a point.”

It felt strange to be the one teaching Bonnibel something. Usually it was her listening and Bonnie speaking. She had no complaints, though. It was really nice to be the one who knew all the information for a change. And Bonnibel’s eyes followed the little orange ball raptly while Marceline explained everything; her feet tucked up beneath her, hands folded in her lap. Occasionally she’d glance at Marceline, but mostly she just watched and listened.

After Jake soundly ‘beat’ Finn in their first match, Pippa asked Bonnie if she wanted to call the second game. Apparently they played best out of three. Which was fair enough. One match is hardly conclusive.

Jake complained vociferously (because Pippa’s calls were always biased in his favour), but Bonnie seemed only too happy to have a chance to put her newly acquired know-how to the test. Finn looked much more optimistic about his chances then. It made Marceline smile.

“No,” Jake groaned after Finn took a decisive eleven-two lead. “That one was in. Bonnie, come on. It was in.”

She just shook her head. “It was out, Jake. Finn’s point.”

“I don’t think you know the rules well enough to be calling,” he grouched.

“You’re just saying that because you’re down nine… ten points,” Marceline laughed.

“Ten?” he just about screeched.

“Yeah, that hit your square, Jake,” Bonnie agreed.

“It did not!”

Finn exploded with laughter. “It’s harder when the ref isn’t in your pocket, McEnroe.”

Jake lofted his bat in Finn’s direction. “Watch it.”

It took less time than Marceline had expected for Finn to thoroughly trounce his cousin. Losing twenty-one to nine was pretty awful. Poor Jake. Then they had to play the tie-breaker and even Marceline could tell he’d lost it before they’d even swapped the second serve.

“You suck,” he opined. Jake’s eyes kept flicking between Bonnie and Finn, so she wasn’t sure which one he meant. Probably both. “I’m not playing when Bonnie’s calling anymore. She’s a hard marker.”

“You can play Hayden later,” Finn decided. “Who wants to verse the champ?”

“I do,” Marceline told him, launching to her feet so she could relieve Jake of his bat. “Gonna kick your skinny behind, Martins.”

“Who’s calling this time?” Pippa asked.

“I’ll go again,” Bonnibel volunteered. “I’d like to understand the rules before I play.”

Marceline grinned at her. If having her girlfriend call the match worked the same for her as it did for Jake, she’d have this all wrapped up in no time.

Finn served first, possibly a little cocksure this early, but Bonnie had just called the two games he’d won, so maybe he thought she was on his side. Marceline would’ve laughed at the idea, but he had a nasty back hand.

“Shit, Finn,” she huffed; catching the ball after it ticked the corner. “That’s rough. You play hard.”

“Go hard or go home,” he sang, smacking the ball down the line.

“Point to Finn,” Bonnie muttered as Marceline nearly crashed into her trying to get the ball back. “He’s got a big swing.”

“I was unprepared for this,” she grumbled, taking the ball from Bonnie. “Don’t worry. I’ll get him.”

“Yeah, you will.”

She smiled, tossing the ball back at Finn. His serve after that was definitely too arrogant. It missed the table completely. And it only went down from there. Poor Finn.

“Let,” Bonnie told them about a dozen points later.

“Barely,” Finn grouched. “What even is the score?”

“Seventeen-eleven.”

Marceline grinned at him. “Pick up your game, Martins.”

He glared at her. And then he failed. Twice.

“This sucks,” he griped. “I think the officials are all corrupted in this game.” He jabbed the bat at Pippa first and then at Bonnie. “I know the players are lining your pockets.”

“Nothing in my pockets,” Pippa laughed.

“I demand unbiased referring from now on,” he huffed, dropping the bat on the table. “Who’s playing Marceline?”

“Bonnie,” Marceline decided. “She needs to learn first-hand.”

“I concur,” Pippa added as she stood. “Finn, you call. I want to go make sure Jake isn’t doing anything silly in my kitchen.”

He rolled his eyes. “Ellen, why don’t you call it instead,” he asked. “I just want to watch.”

She exhaled heavily. “Fine.”

“You ready?” Marceline queried gently as Bonnie picked up the bat. “I’ll go easy on you.”

“Sure,” Bonnie sniped. “The first round.”

“What do I get if I win?” she asked, serving carefully.

Bonnibel just grinned at her, slamming the ball straight down the middle. When it hit the table it made a god-awful cracking sound and soared right over Marceline’s head. She blinked.

“Easy there, feisty pants.”

Bonnie glanced over at Eleanor. “My point?”

“Yep.” Gosh, Eleanor is so wordy and eloquent. Marceline could only roll her eyes and aspire to that level of wordsmanship.

“Still gonna go easy on me?” And Bonnie asked it with that adorable little dimpled smile and Marceline just… brain function… failing…

“No,” she sighed. “I guess not.” Wow, Marceline. That was a coherent sentence. Congratulations. Take that, Bonnie’s Adorable Smile.

Eleanor called the game in a monotone. Marceline wanted to slap her.

Bonnie kicked her butt.

As expected.

“How do you do it?” she asked, placing her bat on the table. “Seriously, Bon. What is your secret? Black magic? Pagan sacrifices? Voodoo?”

“Talent.” And she winked. Damnit. “Do you want to call this game?”

“Hayden’s here!”

They all swivelled around to watch as Hayden (announced by Pippa’s bellow) stepped outside. “Oh, ping pong,” she enthused. “Who’s up? Can I go?”

“Yeah, Bonnie just beat Marceline and she’s never played before,” Finn explained.

Bonnie set her bat down. “I’m good. Play Cameron. He’s been sitting over there looking bored for a while now.”

Cameron’s eyes whipped up and away from whatever Eleanor was doing on her phone. “Me?” he asked, shocked.

“Yeah,” Bonnie agreed, waving him over. “Play Hayden.”

“Uh… okay.” He levered himself cautiously to his feet. “Do you play?”

Hayden shrugged. “Now and then. You?”

He just laughed. “Not so much.”

“Who’s calling?”

“Finn.”

“Ugh, why me?”

“Roll with it.”

Bonnie reclaimed her spot on the bench and Marceline was quick to snatch the space beside her. For a moment Marceline couldn’t help but look at Bonnie, but when she glanced back with that tiny smile curving her lips… Yeah, Marceline had to look away then. Before she did something stupid. Like kiss her.

When five seconds later she felt Bonnibel slide a little bit closer on the pretence of adjusting herself, Marceline could feel a smile of her own forming. Seriously. They were going to have to bail after dinner. Too much was already rattling around in her chest and there was no way she could realistically be expected to contain it.

Instead of dwelling on the… whatever that was… behind her ribs, she just focused on Hayden and Cameron hitting the ball at each other. Hayden (despite her mild pyromania) was apparently a surprisingly gentle ping pong player. Cameron, too, barely seemed to be only just getting it over the net.

“How long have they been rallying?” she murmured to Bonnie.

“A few minutes.”

“And the points?”

“I don’t think we’ve even swapped the first serve yet.”

“Wow.”

“I know.”

For at least another two minutes, they just watched as Hayden and Cameron rallied back and forth. It was arguably the single most boring thing she’d done all week. It only stopped when Pippa burst onto the patio so loudly Cameron blinked and missed the ball. It hit the table and bounced off before he could get to it.

“Dinner’s ready,” Penelope told them. “How long until you’re done?”

“It’s three to me,” Hayden told her. “And Cam’s got one point.”

“Get out. You’re done. Come eat,” Pippa decided quickly. “Hayden wins, let’s go.”

Cameron blinked again, looking for all intents and purposes exactly like a deer in the headlights. Then he placed his bat on the table as Hayden shot him a triumphant look (that Marceline thought was uncalled for since they technically hadn’t even finished the match yet) and headed inside. Eleanor was the last to lever herself up; she stuffed her phone in her pocket before trailing behind Marceline.

“So what are you feeding us, Phillips?” Eleanor drawled as she slouched into a chair at Pippa’s dining room table. Cameron sat beside her in a way that was so casual he’d obviously put a lot of thought into it. Guys.

“Chicken kebabs, some garlic pork things and assorted salad stuff,” she said cheerily.

“Do I want to touch the… um… garlic things?” Marceline asked dubiously. She eyed the salad bowl warily. There could be stealth tomatoes in there.

Pippa waved a hand. “It’s pork, it’s fine.”

“Uh huh,” Hayden hummed. But she took the mystery meat item anyway. Brave, brave girl.

There was a whole minute of silence while the table ate. Then Hayden’s phone beeped and every last one of them looked at her. She sighed.

“Dad,” she huffed. “He wants to know if I’m coming home yet.”

“You’ve been here like… two minutes,” Finn grumped. “Your dad is lame.”

“Here, here,” Jake agreed, waving a skewer sans the chicken.

Pippa’s mouth curled downwards. “Will you stay a little bit longer? There’s cake?”

Hayden pattered away on her phone a moment longer. Then, “Of course I’ll stay for cake. Duh. He’ll just have to chill.”

“I want to play a party game,” Eleanor whined. Of course she did. Marceline cringed at the very idea. Beside her, she felt Bonnibel stiffen. Obviously she wasn’t a fan of the concept either.

Finn rolled his eyes. “We’ll play a string of silly games at your party,” he told her flatly. “Besides, yours won’t be on a weeknight.”

Eleanor huffed unhappily. “Fine.”

“If you really want to do something, we could go dress shopping on the weekend,” Pippa offered. “That saves the boys the trauma of having to be with us.”

“Ugh, please yes,” Hayden concurred. “At least if it’s on Saturday or something I won’t have to worry about dad being on my case.”

With a reluctant shrug, Eleanor grumbled, “I guess that sounds alright to me.”

Then they all turned to look at Bonnie. Although wait… was Pippa…? God damn it, Penelope’s gaze was fixed on Marceline.

“What about you two?”

Bonnibel cut a glance at Marceline. A lot of words were contained in the simple gesture and she knew it. Still, Bonnie chirped, “I’m alright with that. Next weekend would be better, please; I don’t think Finn’s prepared for the English exam next week.”

Finn made an indignant squawk at that but when they turned to stare at him he did sigh. “Yeah okay. We should probably revise.”

Eleanor rolled her eyes dramatically. “Fine. Dress shopping next weekend. Everyone in?”

Pippa kept waiting for Marceline’s answer, but she remained stubbornly silent. So they moved on. Bonnie gave her another look but she just shook her head. They could talk about it later.

In the meantime, there was cake. And Marceline much preferred cake to their current conversation. People generally didn’t talk with their mouths full. Unless the people in question were Finn and Jake. Then manners were essentially disregarded in favour of multi-tasking.

Hayden departed not long after they’d finished eating dessert.

“You’re leaving too, aren’t you?” Penelope enquired softly as she stepped back inside. Her eyes were fixed on Bonnibel but they flicked once towards Marceline. For her part, Marceline kept her eyes focused on the television. It was easier that way.

She felt Bonnie shift beside her, nod. The expression on her face wasn’t hard to imagine. It would be that apologetic one, the ‘I’m sorry, but I’m going to do this thing even if you may not like it’ look. It’s the same expression she wore when she’s about to ask Marceline a question that she knows may not go down well.

“Yes, sorry Pip,” Bonnie muttered. “I just don’t want to stay. Not on a weeknight.”

Penelope nodded. A viable excuse, sure. There was no way Pippa could actually expect to call Bonnie’s bluff without having a whole bunch of justifications thrown her way. Plus, Pippa could in no way be considered one for confrontation.

Instead, she smiled. “Thank you for coming then.”

And Bonnibel stood to hug her. “Thank you for inviting me,” she laughed. “And for facilitating my education in the area of ping pong.”

Pippa rolled her eyes. “Don’t mock it.”

“I’m not,” Bonnie assured her. “Next time I’ll be here earlier so I can have a few games.” She bumped Penelope’s shoulder. “Maybe I’ll even kick your behind.”

“Sure, Banner. Whatever helps you sleep tonight.” Then Pippa was staring at Marceline. And it was intense. “You drive safe with Bonnie in your car, alright?”

She stood slowly, offering Penelope a mock salute. “As always, captain. I’ll drive like she’s glass.”

Now, Marceline may not be the best at interpreting social cues. But even she knew the look Bonnie got from her friend then screamed ‘I still don’t know why you hang out with her’. Oh to be there when Bonnibel tells her they’re dating. Pippa’s face would be the Kodak moment to end all Kodak moments.

Or maybe her dad’s would.

Semantics.

“Good night,” Bonnie sang to the rest of her friends. And even though Finn and Jake were arguing over the remote while Cameron perused the spines on Pippa’s bookshelf and Eleanor had elected to have a shower so she was thankfully absent, Marceline couldn’t help but feel kind of proud when she glanced at them. They might not be her friends, but they didn’t hate her. So she smiled and waved as she headed out the door with Bonnie just behind her.

As they fell into the car, Marceline murmured, “Your friends are so weird.”

“I’m going to assume that’s a good thing.” Her tone was teasing and so was the smile tilting the corners of her mouth. But… there was worry in her eyes. “You don’t have to come to these things. And you definitely don’t have to show up on the weekend for shopping.”

Marceline ignored that. “You didn’t tell me I was invited to Pippa’s thing,” she whispered instead.

“Would it have made a difference?” Bonnie asked, head to one side.

“No,” she admitted. “I just…” She sighed. “I’ll take any excuse to hang out with you, Bon. Even if it means suffering through Eleanor’s company. Or Cameron.” She shuddered theatrically.

Bonnibel smiled at her, so there was that. “I just don’t want to feel like I’m forcing you to come with me.”

“You’re not.” Her words were hasty, blurred together. “I promise. And I’ll come with on the weekend too. If only to see you try on dresses.” She couldn’t help but grin at the idea.

“Oh, I already have a dress for the senior formal,” Bonnie laughed. “Don’t you worry about that.”

“Do I get to see it?”

Bonnie shrugged. “I guess that depends on whether or not you turn up to the formal.” She paused, but Marceline knew her well enough by this point to know the space would be filled any second now. “And you don’t have to go. So you don’t have to get a dress or come shopping with us.” Yep, there is was.

“Bonnibel,” she exhaled. “I’m coming shopping with you and your nerd friends, okay? You’re not forcing me to. I’ll just tag along and be the biting wit they all tolerate. Make some snarky comments, tease them about buying into such silly traditions and all will be well. All I want out of it is to see you try on one dress. Regardless of the fact you already have one.”

And Bonnie beamed that sunshine and perfection smile. “Deal.”

When they pulled up at Peter’s place, Marceline sort of stood awkwardly by her car for a moment. She knew the drill: weeknights her dad enforced a similar curfew to Hayden’s. He couldn’t exactly stop her from staying out all night, but he did get mighty vocal about it when she did. It was easier to just avoid the trauma.

Which is why she opened her mouth to tell Bonnie she’d head straight home. But before Bonnibel could even finish unlocking the door to her flat, Peter popped out the back door of the house and hurried over, a phone pressed to his ear. Whatever he was saying into the speaker had him concentrating very hard.

“Bonnibel,” he called. “Is Marceline… oh. Yes, there you are. Hello.”

“Hey, Minton,” Marceline replied, rocking on her heels. “Sup?”

Wordlessly he held out the phone. Even Bonnie looked confused at this point. Warily (hoping this wasn’t some elaborate trap or whatever) Marceline took the phone.

“Hello?” she questioned.

“Marceline.”

Her dad. Great.

“What, dad?”

“Where are you?”

She rolled her eyes. “Given that you’re talking to me on the Minton home phone, I’m going to tell you to ask me a serious question.”

He sighed. “Are you coming home?”

“I’m gonna chill here for a bit, actually.” Bonnie held up a pair of fingers. “Bonnibel says two hours.”

“Be home by ten,” he said curtly. Actually it was bordering on waspish. Then she was listening to nothing but dial tone and she wanted to snap the phone in two. As it was not her phone, however, she opted to hand it back to Minton.

“Thanks,” she sighed.

“Is he alright?” Peter asked her gently.

“Just being dad. Or trying. I’ll be fine.” She slouched over to Bonnie, where she’d been lingering uncertainly in the doorway the whole time Marceline had conversed with her father. Marceline bumped her arm gently. “It’s fine. He can just relax.”

Bonnie nodded, a smile flickering through. She leaned forward slightly to get a better view of her uncle. “Good night, Pete.”

“Night, girls. Please don’t be up late, Marceline.”

“Roger that,” she said with a brief smile.

He shuffled back towards the house and Bonnibel pulled on her sleeve, prompting her inside. “Do we get two hours or…?”

“Yeah. I’ll leave when I’m good and ready,” she grumbled as she slumped onto Bonnie’s sofa. “It just bothers me. He knows I have to come home because that’s where my bed is and he holds it over me and I hate that.”

Bonnibel flopped down beside her, sitting way too close and smiled that much-too-sweet smile. “You know if you ever need to not stay there you can crash here, right?”

“Right,” she agreed wryly. “Sure.”

“I’m serious. You’ve slept on my couch before.” She leaned into Marceline’s shoulder. “My sofa is open if you need it. Promise.”

She offered a half-smile, the wonky one that made Bonnie bite her lip. Mm, just like that. “If I didn’t know better, I’d think you were propositioning me, Banner.”

“Oh, sweetheart,” she laughed tipping forward until her lips were tortuously close to Marceline’s. “You’d know if I was propositioning you.”

And even through the thrill of fear at the very notion, Marceline couldn’t even deny the funny warmth down in her stomach as it did a terribly uncoordinated backflip.

“And this is not that,” Bonnie added. “I’m honestly just telling you that if you need it, you can stay here.” She finally slipped the last little way to kiss her. “No toxicity or curfews or negativity. Just you and me and the television.”

She sighed and took a moment to realise that she was kind of ridiculously happy to hear that. Actually, scratch that. Just ridiculously happy. Period. The words banging on the inside of her teeth were almost as terrifying as the other thing. She swallowed them.

Content – for now – to just sit on Bonnie’s couch kissing her lazily. Yeah.

The rest could come later.