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Come on Milord!

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I won’t forget the morning. I remember waking to the beeping sound of his alarm clock. Hearing the creak of the floor as he stepped out of bed and went to the washroom to brush his teeth. I remember his humming as he washed his face. I reached over to grab my glasses from the dresser and slowly sat up, looking around the dark bedroom. It wasn’t even light out yet.

“Peps, heading to the castle this early?”

“Yes,” he said, poking his head out of the bathroom, while still drying his face with a towel, “The Princess wants to have a council meeting with all her allies on what to do next with Gumbaldia, given the latest reconnaissance.”

“Things are getting serious, huh?”

Despite sounding tired, his smile was warm. “Do not worry and go back to sleep. It’s way too early. Your shift doesn’t start until 10, right?” “

“No, no, let’s have breakfast together before you go. I’m assuming you’re going to be working late tonight again.” I said, getting out of bed and putting on my robe over my nightgown. He was busy tying his bowtie in the mirror to respond. I went over to help him, giving him a kiss on the cheek when I was finished.

“Thanks… did you want souffle pancakes?”

“But you’ll be late if you make souffle pancakes!”

“It’s okay. I can be late.” he replied, in a gentle tone I never really heard him use with anyone else, “Hey, I’m sorry that I’ve been kind of dragging my feet on things. I was supposed to talk to the Princess about my request to move out of the castle and come stay with you permanently, but I…” He paused, a frown upon his minty face.

I reached over to hold his hand. “I know. You’re afraid to leave her side.” He nodded, giving my hand a little squeeze. “It’s okay. I understand. Your duty to the Princess comes first.”

“Yes, but…!” he cried, looking a little flustered. “You shouldn’t have to wait this long! You deserve to be happy!” I could tell he was frustrated, whether it was because of our situation or simply at himself, I wasn’t sure.

“It’s okay, Peps! I’m happy, really!!”

We stared at each other at that moment, like we were trying to convey our emotions in ways beyond words. Though we were okay with openly talking about our feelings, it was way too early in the morning to get into it and I honestly wasn’t fully awake to form thoughtful sentences. It seemed like a tug of war between our expressions and unsaid feelings, I did my best to reassure his doubts and fears. It wasn’t hard though, because in fact I truly was happy.

The wrinkles on his forehead slowly relaxed and he was the same old Peps I knew and loved. “Come on.” he said, smiling warmly, “Let’s go have breakfast.”

That morning was the last time I spoke with Peppermint Butler. I received a phone call at the hospital later that day from Nurse Poundcake that something terrible has happened to him and that I needed to get to the Candy Kingdom as soon as possible. When I got to the infirmary, I went into shock upon seeing him sitting on one of the hospital beds. He was transformed into a little baby mint, looking helpful and lost.

“W-What happened to him!!”

“He was hit with the Dumdum Juice, a surprise attack from Gumbaldia. The enemy had used Finn and Jake as carriers to infect him. It was meant for the Princess.” NP explained, trying to remain calm. She helped me into a chair, and put her hand on my shoulder. “DP, I’m so sorry.”

Nurse Poundcake decided to give us a moment and left the room. Alone now, we sat there, staring at each other. I couldn’t say anything, and neither could he. It was just like that morning, it was as if he was trying to convey all of his emotions in his eyes. For a brief moment I thought it would work, and he would give me a sign that everything was going to be okay. But when he opened his mouth to speak, all that came out were baby noises. “Wah, wah, wah!”

My eyes watered with tears and I felt nothing but frustration and deep sadness. Baby Peps innocently looked at me, seemingly clueless to my hopelessness. It was then that the doors burst open and the Princess came into the room, with her long pink hair flying and crown shimmering in the dim infirmary. “Where is he!?” she exclaimed, scanning the room until she saw us. Rushing over to the bedside, the Princess looked as shocked as I initially did, but also adamant in refusing to let any tears fall. “Peps… my Uncle will pay for what he did to you!!” She then turned towards me. “I am terribly sorry, Doctor Princess… For all of this... When this war is all over, I will find a way to bring him back. I swear!”

Before I could reply, the Princess swiftly turned and left the room, slamming the doors behind her. I could only assume that she was doing her best to keep it together and her quick retreat only reinforced that theory. I was probably the only other person who could imagine what she was going through. Peps was her most loyal subject, and the two shared a bond that even I could not affect.

“DP,” Nurse Poundcake’s calm voice cut into my thoughts, “You should go home and rest. I’ll look after him tonight.”

“No, I want to stay…”

“You can stay with him all day tomorrow. But for now you need to rest. You look pale and exhausted.”

I wanted to argue with Nurse Poundcake, but I stopped and reminded myself that she was a long time friend and she was only looking out for me. I looked at Peps one last time, his childish, clueless gaze still fixated on me. “You’re right…. I’ll go home for now.”

On the walk home, I couldn’t help but feel the tension in the crisp air. A few announcements on the loudspeaker from the new Banana Guard captain called for everyone to stay in their homes and not to panic. I saw a little candy peeking out of her window, her mom pulling her away.

“Doctor Princess!”

I turned towards the direction of my name being called and saw a tall shadowy figure in the alley. I knew better than to go into some dark alley, so I stayed in the street, forcing him to come forward into the light.

“What do you want?” I asked, recognizing the person to be my ex-boyfriend, “Peacemaster...”

He stopped in front of me, wearing a long dark cloak and a rimmed hat. He was always dressed so old-timely. “Things are about to get crazy here, Doctor, so you best leave town. War is coming and most likely the Candy Kingdom will be attacked and destroyed. They don’t stand a chance against the might of the Gumbaldian army.”

I couldn’t help but narrow my eyes. “Did you seriously join the enemy? I thought you were into peace and all that jazz?”

“Look, it's gonna happen whether we like it or not. And I’m telling you this because… I still care for you.” he said, reaching to put a hand to the side of my check. It took me a second to realize what was going on and once I got my bearings I knocked his hand away.

“What about all the people here in the Candy Kingdom? Don’t you care about them? They’re innocent; they haven’t done anything to deserve any of this.”

He let out a sigh. “Unfortunately some sacrifices are necessary for peace.”

My mind wandered back to Peps and what had happened to him that day. True, we were at war, whether we liked it or not. This was just the beginning. How many more lives will be taken or destroyed? I could feel myself unraveling at the thought of what was to come. Without another word I backed away from Peacemaster and hurried home as soon as I could.

But when I got to my apartment, I noticed that the door was opened ajar and slowly walked in. The lights were on, and I followed the rummaging noises to the kitchen. “Hey, DP!” said the wizard in my kitchen, “Can I eat this teevee dinner?”

“Abracadaniel! What the heck are you doing here in my apartment?”

Abracadaniel stared back at me, holding out his hands which were shaking a little bit. “I need a place to lay low for a while. Things are going nuts at Wizard City. Like all out wizard battling in the streets! Friends turning on each other and dropping like flies! It was ugly! I escaped and came out here to seek refuge... I was hoping if I could stay with you and Peppermint Butler until things calm down?”

My face fell. I didn’t know how to explain what happened to Peps, but found myself nodding my head. Abracadaniel grinned and thanked me, while I slowly turned towards my room. “I’m not feeling well, and going to go to bed early. Make yourself at home.”

Once in my room, I closed the door and stared around. We had just started to make a life together. His books and pocket square on the dresser. Suit jackets and button ups in the closet. The sweet minty scent faintly in the air. His presence was all around and I was overwhelmed with sadness.

Due to exhaustion, I fell asleep on top of the bed without changing out my hospital uniform. My dreams were troubling, pretty much in line with what was happening in Ooo. I saw the destruction of the Candy Kingdom, the surrounding grasslands in flames, and endless suffering of the citizens. Standing amongst the flames, I saw Peps in his normal state. He sadly smiled towards me. “I’m sorry.” was all he said.

I suddenly woke up, my heart pounding and tears falling. Clutching the blanket, I sat up and looked around. I didn’t know what to do. I felt so lost. The only thing I could think of was to write. Write down what I was thinking, what I was carrying, all my hopes and fears. Peps was pretty diligent about writing; he kept several diaries and was often sitting by himself scribbling away in his notebooks.

That night I started writing a new diary to make sense of all of this mess. To find a way, so that someday, he'd find his way back to me.

To be continued.

Chapter Text

The next day, Abracadaniel joined me in visiting the infirmary at the Candy Castle. I thought it was best if I just showed him what had happened to Peps instead of trying to explain. As expected, it was a lot to take in. The wizard just stood there, staring for a very long time. “I can’t freaking believe this!!” he finally cried, tears running down his face, “PEPPERMINT BUTLER!! WHO DID THIS TO YOU!??”

“Yo, can you keep it down?” said a voice from the bed next door, “Some of us are trying to sleep over here!”

I looked over to see that it was the Ice King, “What are you doing here???”

Nurse Poundcake let out a sigh. “Ugh, he came in late last night with a broken foot. We were able to bend it back into place, but now he refuses to leave. Still complaining about pain and wanting someone to massage his feet!”

The Ice King didn’t look like he was in any sort of pain. If fact, he seemed normal, as in his normal creeper self. “Hey Doctor~~ “ he cooed, batting his eyes, “You’re looking cute today~~ Would you like to examine me~?”

I narrowed my eyes. “Nope, I’m off shift right now...”

It was then that the Princess came in through the door with Marceline the Vampire Queen, her two champions not too far behind. “Good morning,” she said, looking around the room. The Princess had visible dark circles around her eyes and was wearing the same clothes as yesterday, “I see that Peps has visitors this morning.”

“PRINCESS!” Abracadaniel exclaimed, having dried his tears and looked very much worked up, “I would like to volunteer my services to the Candy Kingdom, so that I can avenge my dear friend, Peppermint Butler! The ones who did this to him will feel my terrible wrath!!”

“O-Okay…”

He then took hold of both of my hands, “And Doctor Princess, you mustn’t worry! I will gladly take care of you now that my best friend is gone! He would have wanted it this way!”

I grimaced, trying to pull my hands away. “Um, what are you talking about??”

Ice King suddenly popped up next to us, despite his alleged broken foot. “No, no, I’ll do it!! I’ll be the one to take care of Doctor Princess!! Peppermint Butler and I were like brothers!!”

Without warning, IK and Abracadaniel started fighting each other, pointing their wands at each other throwing weak ice and rainbow attacks back and forth. This went on for a while, and we just watched in astonishment. Were they seriously fighting over me? What. the. Heck. Just when I thought it couldn't get worse, Finn the Human put it upon himself to step in. “Hey you two! There’s no way either one of you will be able to look after DP! I’ll do it, in Peppermint Butler’s memory!!”

The roar of a purple lion suddenly knocked the two wizards and the young hero off their feet and left them lying on the floor. Leaping down in front of them, the lion then transformed back into Marceline. “You guys need to chill out and leave Doctor Princess alone! Her boyfriend just get infected with some kind of a bioweapon and rendered into a speechless, helpless baby! The last thing she needs is a bunch of dudes fighting over her! Just.Stop.It.”

The three of them looked remorseful and apologized, while I turned towards the vampire queen and whispered a “Thank you.”

“Besides,” the Princess stated, “Peppermint Butler isn’t dead. He’s still with us. And once we win the war, we are going to find the anecdote and bring him back!”

I blushed and nodded as she patted me on the shoulder. How I wished I had her strength. I was constantly faltering in faith that we would ever be able to bring him back. But the way that the Princess said it was like she actually believed it was true. Spoken like a true leader.

The Princess went up to the Ice King who was recovering from the head lock given to him by Finn the Human. “How did last night’s spying go, Simon?”

“It’s cool, Princess. They totally think I hate you guys! They even admitted the League of Candy Kingdom haters would come attack the Candy Kingdom to-night!’”

“Good job! Did you hear anything during their planning meeting, like how they plan to attack us?”

“No, actually I fell asleep during the meeting.”

“WHAT?!” she exclaimed, grabbing him by the collar and looking ready to kill him. Fortunately Marceline stepped in.

“Whoa there, Bubbs, why don’t you take it easy? You haven’t slept the last 4 days or eaten anything all day!”

“I’m fine, Marceline...”

“You don’t seem fine. Look, we can all stay on guard outside, but you need to go lie down and rest.”

The Princess shook her head. “No, I can’t rest. I need to go speak with Colonel Candycorn and the new Banana Guard Captain about our evacuation plan in the event of an attack. Excuse me--”

“Bonnie, wait!” Marceline said, grabbing her by the wrist so that she stopped and turned back.

“What is it?”

“It’s…” Marcy’s voice trailed off and her face blushed. When she found her voice again, it came out in almost like a whisper. “It’s nothing.” She released the Princess’s wrist and watched as she went on ahead. Without a word, she slowly floated after her.

Finn and Jake glanced at each other, trying to contain their giggles. “Do you think she’s finally trying to make a confession happen?” Jake chuckled.

“Maybe..? Probably…?” Finn replied.

Abracadaniel poked his head in the conversation. “I don’t follow. What would Marceline be confessing?”

Jake grinned mischievously. “Oh you know~ like how she low-key has feelings for a certain Princess…”

“W-Which princess?”

“Dawg, what are you talking about!!” IK laughed, “Those two are like really, really good gal pals!”

“Puh-leeze!” Finn interjected, “They’re totes secretly dating or going steady or something!”

“Whaaat??! No way!!”

While the guys argued and debated on their theories of Bubbline, I looked at Peps. He was quietly sitting on the bed watching all of us. I wondered if he understood what we were talking about. I wondered what was going on in his head.

“Hey DP,” Finn said, patting me on the shoulder, “We’re gonna go get some food and supplies together so we can stay up all night and guard the Candy Kingdom from intruders! Wanna come with??”

I gave the boy with the animal hat a small smile. “Thanks for the invite, but I think I want to stay here.”

While the others left the infirmary, I took a seat down by Peps' bedside. He slowly fell asleep, looking so peaceful. I just watched him, trying to gather my courage up once again, fighting off all my fears and doubts. Nurse Poundcake came in and out of the infirmary, taking care of the patients throughout the day. But I stayed put.

It was probably late in the afternoon, when I looked up to see Marceline in the doorway. “Hey, you’ve been here the whole time?”

I blinked at her, suddenly aware that several hours had passed and the sun was starting to set. The sky was a mix of pink and orange. It made me forlornly think of happier days. I weakly nodded my head as she floated towards us with a wide grin on her face.

“Oh, you ain’t fooling anybody. It’s pretty plain to see that Peps is the only one for you!”

I felt my face warm, but I couldn’t argue with the vampire queen. I decided to move the conversation in a different direction. “And what about you, Ms Abadeer? Weren’t you trying to confess to the Princess that she’s only one for you?”

“What! No way!” Marceline cried, her face blushing red, “But now that you mention it, I might as well be confessing since the world's about to be ending!”

“Yeah, it’s not like we can guarantee tomorrow.” I said, noticing Peps was waking up from his nap. He looked cute as a baby mint, but it also broke my heart all the same.

Marceline let out a nervous laugh. “For real! If there’s a war, there won’t be anything left - that’s what I wanted to tell Bubblegum. That I really have a bad feeling about this war and we should try to resolve this as soon as possible before innocent people get hurt.” She paused for a moment to let out a sigh, “But, I can’t tell her that... I want to be supportive and have her back, just like Peppermint Butler would have.”

I shook my head. “Tell the Princess what you’re thinking. I think Peps would still be honest with her, even though though they didn’t agree.”

“I don’t know! Peeb’s kind of intimidating!” she admitted. She stopped to hear her stomach growl and then shoved her hands into the pockets of her blue denim jacket. “DP, why don’t you take a break and let’s go get some dinner. I’m starved, aren’t you?”

I looked hesitant. I didn’t want to leave his side. The thought of it shook me, that he might actually disappear for good if I left. But she spoke the truth, I was starving and I hadn’t eaten all day.

“Just a moment.” I said and turned back to Peps. He looked up at me, and I looked back. Slowly I reached over and squeezed his little hand. “I’ll bring you back. I promise. Because there’s no one else. You’re the only one for me, okay?”

Marceline watched from the door, smiling a little. “Why don’t you bring him along? I’m sure he needs to eat too. Maybe we can get PB to eat too.” I nodded and picked up Peps in my arms, following Marceline out of the infirmary.

I was glad that we were getting dinner and that Peps was with me, even though he was in the state he was in. After all, it was going to be the beginning of one of the longest nights ever.

To be continued.

Chapter Text

The pizza at Sassy’s never tasted so good. I had three slices and even little Peps got to nibble on a few pepperonis. Though he visibly enjoyed the food, he could only make minimal sounds. We eyed each other occasionally as we ate without words, a stark difference how we’d usually have dinner. Marceline sat across from us in the booth, sucking the red from the sauce and pepperoni. The Princess had declined to join us for dinner. I could tell it bothered her, and she was trying hard not to show her disappointment.

“Hey guys!” Finn the Human entered the pizza parlor holding hands with Huntress Wizard. The two of them were in some kind of relationship, although I wasn’t sure about the details. It did make me happy to see him dating again, knowing how long it took him to get over Flame Princess and how depressed he was when he lost his arm, and met his deadbeat dad, and witnessing his hero get killed... This kid sure had been through a lot!

“Do they serve Elk here?” Huntress Wizard asked, peering at the menu.

“I don’t think so,” Marceline replied, “Do you want some pepperoni?”

Finn nodded gleefully and opened his mouth. “Right here, please!!” HW frowned and turned away as the IK popped up and grabbed Finn, shoving a pizza slice in his face. “AHH!!? ICE KING, KNOCK IT OFF!!”

“But why doesn’t this place have any anchovy pizza!? What am I supposed to feed Gunther and all my babies!!!”

Marceline stepped in. “Simon, we can stop by the 24 hour Squeezy Mart and see what they got. Besides I’m going to need another coffee if we’re staying up all night.”

Finn looked all excited, his face covered with cheese and sauce. “Yep! Right now Jake and BMO are making a big fire. We’re gonna roast marshmallows and tell scary stories!”

HW eyed him over. “I thought we were standing guard against intruders, not going camping.”

“But I got us some marshmallows…” he said, chuckling nervously as he held out a bag of jumbo puff marshmallows, “They’re gluten free too!”

IK suddenly exclaimed, “What!? So, we’re camping!?”

HW shook her head. “No. We are not. Aren’t you the one who heard that Gumbaldia is sending people to attack us with their Legion of whatever?”

“Legion of Candy Kingdom Haters!”

“Yes, yes, we should be studying their weaknesses. Who exactly is in this Legion??”

IK tapped his chin. “Oh right, who was there… Ricardio, Bandit Princess, Samantha the dog, Peace Master, Me-Mow, Pete Sassafras, Ash the Weenus, Sir Slicer, Scorcher, and the Green Knight…”

Marceline let out a groan and stretched her arms out across the table. “Ugh, seriously? Ash is like the last person I wanna see right now!”

I let out an uneasy laugh. “Sounds more like the Legion of Evil Exes than Candy Kingdom Haters!”

Huntress Wizard shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t really care who these folks all are. We just got to eliminate them right?”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” Finn cried, “We shouldn't just kill them! They’re not just evil, they’re under Gumbald’s control. I’m sure if we reason with them, we can get them to see eye to eye with us. Like Fern, he’s really with us! He’s not bad!”

“Finn, it’s not a matter of bad or good. It’s a matter of survival.” HW turned to the rest of us. “We better get back to the fort. We don’t want to be caught off guard. Grab those pizzas and let’s go.”

So, we closed up our tab, and followed the couple down the street. After the meeting with the Princess, it looked like the Gumball Guardians and Banana Guards were on extra alert tonight and had taken up positions around the kingdom’s protection wall, wearing all kinds of special armor. Some were helping some of the candy citizens into the castle, where it looked like security was even more beefed up with the Banana Guard 5000s. A militarized Candy Kingdom wasn’t what I was used to.

Along the way to the front gate, Marcy and IK made a stop at the Squeezy Mart. Marcy came out sipping on a coffee while IK had a bag full of canned tuna. “I’m going to go feed my babies. I’ll be back!” IK said, flying away into the night.

Just as Finn had described earlier, there was a big fire made right in front of the gates. Jake, Abracadanial, and some of the Banana Guards were busy throwing some furniture into the fire to make the flames even larger. “YAY!! PIZZA!!” BMO cried, running up to Finn and HW who were carrying the boxes.

I turned towards Marceline who was finishing up her coffee. She had a little paper bag clutched in her other hand and she looked anxious. “Hey guys, I’m going to go check on Bonnie. You all be fine without me, yeah?”

“Wait, I’ll come too,” I said stepping forward with Peps, “I want to bring him indoors. It’s getting colder.”

Inside the castle, it was busy. Chet and Madam Chocoberry were looking after the marshmallow kids. When they saw that I was holding baby Peps, they started to approach me. “We’re going to the nursery. Does this little one want to go as well.”

I hesitated, but Marceline put a hand on my shoulder. “Let him go. You need a break.” she said. I slowly nodded and handed Peps over to Madam Chocoberry. Peps looked at me for a second and then happily rushed off to go play with the other candies. I watched as the group left the main hall and headed up the stairs.

“Come on, let’s go find Bonnie.”

I followed Marceline to the main study, where the Princess conducted most of her affairs. As predicted, she was there at her desk looking at all sorts of plans and maps with the Colonel, the Duke of Nuts, and the new Banana Guard Captain. They paused from their intense conversation when they saw us enter the room. “Can you give us a moment?” she said to her staff, and they slowly left the room, “What can I do for you?” She looked even more raggedy than this morning.

Marceline went right up to her and put her hands on her shoulders, looking at her sternly. “Hey, you need to rest. You’re going to collapse if you keep going like this! Doctor Princess, will you talk some sense into her!”

I stepped forward. “Umm, y-yes, right. I'm a doctor... Given that you haven’t eaten or slept for a few days, and your high stress levels, I can very much say that this is not healthy.”

“I’m fine…” PB uttered. But even as she said that, she fell forward into Marceline’s arms. Marceline did what any good gal pal would, and picked up her up Princess-style. “Marcy, no… I have work to do…” PB mumbled weakly leaning her face against her shoulder.”

“I’m taking her up to her room. I’ll meet you outside in a bit.” the vampire queen said, and started to carry the Princess away. Left alone in the study, I let out a sigh. I had seen the Princess push herself to exhaustion before, but never to this level. It was really concerning.

Not ready to return outside, I wandered the halls of the Candy Castle. Banana guards and candy staff were boarding up the windows. Nurse Poundcake was packing up medical supplies. Apparently a war camp was being built closer to where Gumbaldia was, with assistance from the Slime and Lemon Kingdoms. I stopped by the nursey and saw that Peps was hanging out with the other candies his age. He looked happy and carefree. I left the nursery in a hurry.

When I finally left the castle, I saw Jake the Dog on his burner phone standing in the courtyard. It looked like he was speaking with his partner. “It’s gonna be okay. No, no, we’re fine. Just stay with TV and I’ll call you in the morning. What do you mean? Lady, I never dated Samantha! We were just stuck in a hole together… Yeobo! That’s not …! Nooo!!”

I waited until he got off the phone to ask him a question. “Jake, the Dum Dum Juice that infected Peps… is there a known cure at all?”

“I don’t know, Doctor Princess. The only ones who got cured from Dum Dum Juice were Gumbald, Lolly, and that guy, Cousin Chicle, and they were...”

He suddenly stopped mid sentence, his nose twitching and eyes darting towards two shadowy figures by the gate. “Hey, hey, hey! ” he cried running over and started barking. I didn’t know what else to do besides follow him. At the gate, Huntress Wizard and Marceline the Vampire Queen were sneaking out, holding a few swords and crossbows, as well as a bundle of rope. Jake glared at them. “Where do you two think you’re going?! We have to stay on guard!”

Marceline paused to tighten her shoelaces. “What’s it look like?! We’re going to go settle this tonight with Gumbaldia, so PB can stop stressing out about war and junk.”

“Are you kidding?” I exclaimed, “It’s way too dangerous to go attack the enemy head on! Just the two of you?”

“Who do you think you’re talking to?” HW laughed, cracking her knuckles, “I’m a magical woodsman with inner vision, and she’s a thousand year old vampire-demon. I think we’ll be fine against a bunch of cakes.”

Jake shook his head. “There’s also that grass version of Finn that’s possessed by a demon. He’s not someone to underestimate! Take me with you. I can help!”

Marceline held out her hand. “No Jake, you need to stay and keep watch on your brother.”

“Finn? But why?”

HW let out a sigh. “Because he’s been acting all weird lately. He couldn’t even slay that Hot fudge Banana monster when it was attacking us, unless I put myself into danger... I’m worried he’s becoming a pacifist or soft!”

Marcy punched Jake on the shoulder. “So, yeah, make sure he doesn’t die or anything! Got it??” She then turned to me. “Doctor, can you do me a favor?”

I blinked. “S-Sure, what is it?”

She walked over and handed me a small bag. I opened it and peeked inside to see some store bought cookies with pink and white icing. “Can you give them to PB and remind her to eat something, when she wakes up...” the vampire queen said quietly, “Let her know I’m worried about her…”

“Yes I’ll do that.”

“Thanks…”

Huntress Wizard cleared her throat. “Let’s get going. We got a lot of ground to cover.”

“You two be careful!” Jake called after them, as HW and Marceline stealthily disappeared into the fog. “Ummm, is this a good idea?” he asked me, to which I shrugged. I had no idea how these things worked. Gumbaldia was on the other end of the Grasslands, and they would be able to reach it around midnight.

Jake and I turned back towards the fire that Finn had built with the Banana Guards. BMO and Abracadaniel were also there. “Where have you been for so long?” Finn asked as we sat by the fire, “Say, have you seen HW? I roasted her a marshmallow...”

“Oh don’t worry about her,” Jake said waving his hand, “She had to go use the little wizard toilet. How about we hear a song??” He then took out a banjo which he was storing in his magical skin. He cleared his throat and began to play:

“In the Land of Ooo is a Candy Kingdom
Whose sidewalks you can eat
And everyone who lives in there
Is made of something sweet.”

The ground shook. Abracadaniel screamed and grabbed onto me. “Hey! Get off!” I cried, shoving him away. The ground shook again. “What was that?! A bomb?”

Jake kept on singing, picking up more speed and panic :

“In the Land of Ooo is a Candy Kingdom
In the Land of Ooo is a Candy Kingdom”

The ground shook one more time and this time a column fell towards us. We all rushed out of the way. Jake finally stopped singing, dropped his banjo and watched it get mashed. “Aw crud! I really loved that bango!!!” he cried, “What the brick building is going on?!?!!”

“Up there!” BMO said, pointing atop the gate. We spotted a few shadowy figures, who definitely were not friends, because they were in fact hurling explosives into the town. One of them hit the Candy Fountain which had a statue of the Princess, shattering it into a pile of rubble. The alarm started to ring in the air and the three figures leapt down from the wall.

“We’re under attack!” Finn cried, picking up his Night sword. He looked to Jake, who nodded and formed sharp blades out of his fists. “Doctor Princess, can you bring BMO inside the castle and barricade the door!!”

“But I want to fight!” the little sentient robot cried as I picked them off the ground.

“No, BMO, you need to be safe! Go with Doctor Princess inside! We’ll roast marshmallows together later. I promise!”

I held BMO in my arms and joined the crowds rushing towards the castle. Looking back, I saw Jake was fighting with a female dog wearing a towel, while Finn faced off with Peacemaster. Abracadanial was trying to take care of the cakes with the explosives. The last thing I saw as the gate closed in front of us, were our friends clashing with the enemy. The ground shook again and again. BMO cried and held onto me.

It was then that the Princess had emerged from her room and was coming down the royal staircase, downing a cup of chamomile tea and tossing the mug aside as she arrived in the foyer. She still looked tired, and yet ready to fight..

“Guards, release the secret weapon!”

To Be Continued.

Chapter Text

I rushed to the window to watch as the Siege of the Candy Kingdom continued. The Princess was on the balcony letting out a loud whistle, calling upon their secret weapon. Something was approaching in the night sky, its silhouette against the big bright full moon. He appeared to be a huge, two-headed elephant that wears some kind of orange ski goggles with a yellow triangle in the middle on both faces. “What the heck is that thing?” I gasped as it came closer and closer to the castle..

“Ancient Psychic Tandem War Elephant!!!!” Jake and Finn cried at the same time, high fiving each other, “AH YEAH!!!

The Princess was using her megaphone. “Finn!! Encircle the protective wall and take out the enemy forces with Aptee W.E. We’ll take care of the Legion of Haters!!

Finn jumped up onto the pink and purple tandem saddle. “Aptee W.E, I know I told you to chill, but now we gotta kick these guys’ buns out of the Candy Kingdom.

“Yes, Master.” APTWE said, rockets firing out of his toes and his golden, double-barreled shotguns for his tusks shooting purple energy blasts from his trunks at the Gumbaldian soldiers, disintegrating them.

Finn blinked. “Whoa dude. You’re hecka powerful! I don’t know how I feel about this...”

“Do not worry, Master. I am not killing them, but transporting them to another dimension. Where exactly I cannot say.”

“O-Okay. I guess that’s all right…”

The Princess leapt off the balcony and jumped onto a soaring Morrow. The giant brown bird brought her to the rooftop where Abracadaniel was being overpowered by the bomb brigade. She drew her sword and drew the enemies into a fight, so that Abracadaniel could get free and use magic to disarm their explosives.

Below Samantha the Dog was coming closer to the castle doors, but Jake the dog jumped in her way with a line of banana guards behind him. “What are you doing, Jake the dog?” she cried, “You and I are like two sides of a coin. You magic, and me strength. We should join forces and together we would be unstoppable!”

“No way!! I already have a partner, and her name is Lady! Don’t tempt me with you lady dog curves! I ain’t falling for it!!!” he exclaimed, launching a number of attacks of magical ice ninja stars. While she was distracted by his melee attacks, he signaled to the banana guards. “NOW!!”

“ROGER!!” They all suddenly started to hurl themselves at the Dog woman until she was buried in a pile of Banana guards. Lost under the weight of all the bananas, Jake transformed into a big blanket and wrapped himself over the ball of bananas and bagged them all up.

“Hmmm, now what should I do with all of this???”

Colonel Candycorn came rushing out. “Jake, drop her into the sewer dungeon! She’ll be stuck down there with all the stuff!”

“Eeww, the stuff!!?“ Jake cried, making throw-up sounds, “O-Okay! Fine!!“ But as he tried to open up the bag to pour out its contents into the manhole which led underground, he slipped and fell in, along with all of the Banana guards and Samantha. “Nooooo!! Not the stuff!!!”

“Jake, Banana Guards, no!!” PB called, “I’m coming!!” She tied a rope around her waist and handed it to Abracadaniel before jumping off the roof and after Jake into the sewers.

“UWAAH!!!” Abracadaniel cried as he skidded off the room and did his best to not fall in himself, but started to tie the rope around a pillar. More enemies were coming, but other candies were taking up arms and coming to his defense.

“Veritas Brigade!! Attack!!” Starchie called as he and his comrades joined the fray waving gardening tools like shovels and rakes. Apparently a short-term alliance was formed between the not-so-secret society and the Princess to work together to expel the Gumbaldian army from the Candy Kingdom.

While all of this unfolded, a former member of the Veritas Brigade (who had joined the other side) had gotten past the defenses. “Peacemaster?” I gasped seeing that he was close to the gates. I moved away from the window and turned towards BMO. “We got to go to the Nursery quickly!!”

“Okay!” BMO replied, “But can you carry me!! Running makes me tired!”

I picked him up and rushed for the stairs. By the time we reached the Nursery, the power had gone out. Chet and Chocoberry were with the children hiding behind furniture, singing songs so not to be scared.

Thank you for being a friend
Traveled down a road and back again
Your heart is true, you're a pal and a confidant

I moved in the dark towards the singing. “Peps!?” I called, “Are you there?” The little mint popped up and approached me, having recognized his name. I sighed in a relief before falling to my knees and hugging him.

BMO turned on his flashlight feature. “Do not worry, candies. I’m a hero and I will protect you.”

Meanwhile the castle continued to shake and tremble as the fight ensued outside.
We all huddled together in the dark, singing:

And if you threw a party
Invited everyone you knew
You would see the biggest gift would be from me
And the card attached would say
Thank you for being a friend
Thank you for being a friend

Nurse Poundcake suddenly showed up in the doorway, looking like she had been running. “DP, I need your help with the injured! Please come with me!”

I looked to Peps and then towards BMO. “Don’t worry! If anyone attacks us, I’ll kill them!” they said and gave me a determined grin.

“Thanks,” I said to the heroic little robot. I then followed NP to the infirmary. It was there that I saw the many injured Banana guards, including a beat-up Finn the Human. “W-What happened?”

“Me-mow and Bandit Princess teamed up against me.” he said, weakly grinning. “Don’t worry. I did a bit of damage on them too! Let’s just say he won’t be able to go number two for a while, because I hecka punched their buns!”

“What happened to that big two-headed elephant?” I asked as I started to examine his injuries.

“Aptee W.E. is still out blasting Gumbaldians. He lives for war, totes in his element. Ow, ow, ow!” Finn uttered while I had put some cleaning solution on one of his wounds. “That’s so spicy!”

“Finn,” I uttered, as I continued to clean, “Why are you willing to put yourself in danger like this? You can all die or get seriously hurt…!”

“We do it, because we gotta! The night calls for bravery!” he said while grinning widely. “And I’m the Princess’ champion. It’s part of the job...” We stopped to hear the most horrific screams. Finn immediately sat up, “Princess?!?” He grabbed onto me to help himself out of bed. “Can you help me? I need to get to her!”

I nodded against my best judgement. The boy was in no shape to continue to fight. but I caved to the look on his face of pure concern for his Princess and helped him onto his feet. Actually I half carried him out to the hallway. He grabbed one of the swords on the ground and started to use it as a crutch. I followed after him for fear he would trip and fall down the stairs. And a good thing I was with him because he almost did fall a few times.

“PB!!” he called as we stumbled into the empty foyer of the castle. The Princess was lying on the ground, her right arm severed and laying a few feet away. “PB…” he cried, hurrying to be next to her, “Are you….?”

“I’m… okay…” the Princess mustered to say, “But Finn… look out behind you…”

He swiftly turned his head and clutched his sword. There were two beady eyes in the dark and shimmering jewel. Finn hissed. “Ricardio…!!”

Ricardio stepped forward in the light. He had a new armored body and was wearing the princess’ crown. “Yes, you do remember me?? I’m surprised, because the last tiem I saw you I’d overdosed you with zanoits!!”

“YOU’LL PAY FOR THIS!!” Finn exclaimed, looking angry in ways I’d never seen him. Without his animal hat, his blond hair was flying in the wind, his eyes a tint of red. Gripping his sword he lunged at the armored heart monster. The two of them clashed a few times, steel against steel and sparks flying everywhere.

I made my way to the princess to look at her other injuries. “I’m so sorry!”

She shook her head. “Help Starchie…” It was then that I noticed our candy friend, who I’d gone to a concert with many years ago, and hung out in the Candy Tavern on numerous occasions, lying in a pool of his own blood. I rushed over to check on him, only to see his pulse fading. “Oh no…”

“THIS IS FOR STARCHIE!!” Finn knocking Ricardio’s sword out of his hands and going for the kill.

“WAITAMINUTE!” Peacemaster leapt up behind me and held a knife to my throat. “Step back or I’ll do the same to her as I did the old grave digger!”

I narrowed my eyes towards him. “You said you cared about me-- All Lies!”

“Hey, you had your chance, Doctor! It’s a shame that it had to be this way.!”

Finn reluctantly threw his sword aside and raised his hands. Peacemaster pushed me aside and ran over to help Ricardio up, before the two of them vanished in a puff of purple smoke.

“Hey!!” called a voice. We looked up to see Ice King flying in through the window, his white beard flapping like wings. He landed right in front of us. “I'm back from feeding my babies. What did I miss?” He paused to look around the destroyed castle foyer and the various injured bodies on the ground. “Oh man, I totally missed something, didn’t I?”

My knees gave way and I fell to the floor, but not without lettinga sigh of relief. It was suddenly quiet. The first wave attacks on the Candy Kingdom had ceased. The fighting had stopped. For now.

To be continued.

Chapter Text

We worked through the night, tending to the injured. The princess insisted that we take care of the civilians first as priority before approaching her. She stayed in her bedroom, and was given anesthesia to deal with the pain. It was well after 3am when we were able to attend to her. She was pretty disciplined during the procedure to sew her arm back on. When I had finished she smiled at me warmly, sweat upon her brow. “Doctor, thank you for stitching me back up. I owe you.”

“Not at all, milady. I’m just doing my job.” I said, taking off my surgical gloves and putting them in the nearby bin. The Clown nurse carried away the bin full of pink bloodied gauze while I started to put away my medical instruments.

“How long will it take?” she asked, staring down at her arm.

“You should rest and let it heal properly so I can take out the stitches. Like a few days is my best guess.”

“I don’t have a lot of time to rest. With everything that’s happening, I need to be able to lead and protect my people.”

“I know, but you should try.”

We were interrupted by the doors flying open. “Where is she?!” Both PB and I looked up to see Marceline the Vampire Queen standing in the doorway, panting from being out of breath. Her face was blushing and her clothes covered with dirt, sweat, and dried blood. Whose blood I didn’t know. She looked like she’d been to the Death World and back. Dropping a pair of swords and her trusty battle ax to the floor, the vampire queen jolted forward and flew right over to the bed, throwing her arms around the Princess and pulling her into a hug. “Thank glob you’re okay!”

“AAHH, Marcy!! My arm!”

“Oh, I’m so sorry!!”

Marceline backed away to give some space. ”It’s okay! I’m okay!!” PB cried, pulling her back towards her with her free hand. She smiled despite the pain and leaned her forehead onto Marcy’s. “I’m glad you’re okay. I was so worried.”

I couldn’t help but blush. I had never seen the Princess be this affectionate with anyone before. I suppose since the world was ending, now was the time to show the person you love that you love them.

“Bonnie, what happened?” Marcy asked, sitting down on the bed and looking over at her arm in the sling and the bandages on her face.

The Princess let out a quiet chuckle. “Ricardio got me back for the last time I tore up the body he made. I guess that’s what I get for being cruel. What comes around, goes around.”

“Looks pretty painful. I mean, I’ve never had my arm torn off, but I can only imagine...”

“Don’t worry, Gum heals pretty quick.” PB said, her hand still on Marceline’s shirt. “Look, I’ve had one hell of a day and there is only one thing I can think of that can make me feel better..”

“Yeah? And what’s that?” Marcy asked, trying to sound all innocent but was clearly playing along. I could see her eyes light up with excitement as the Princess’s hand seemed to tighten onto her shirt collar and pull her towards her again.

“Oh you know, a make out session with my girlfriend.”

Marceline let out a nervous/eager laugh in reaction to the proposition. For someone who was so cool, the vampire girl was actually an endearing dork when it came to the Princess. Honestly, I was fascinated by their relationship. It was something beautiful.

While I was lost in my thoughts, the two of them turned towards me. “Doctor,” PB said, trying to sound polite, “Do you mind?”

“OH! Right! Sorry!!” I stammered, feeling my face flush and standing from my seat. “I’ll come back later for my stuff! Bye!” And with that I rushed out of the room to give them their privacy. As I entered the hallway, however, I saw Finn and Jake walking towards me.

“DP,” Jake said, holding a vase of flowers. The magical dog looked refreshed after taking a nice long bath after being covered with the stuff earlier. “We’re here to check on Bubblegum. How’s she doing?”

“She’s… uh…” I glanced over my shoulder towards her bedroom, sweating a little bit, “S- She’s resting! Can you come back later???”

“Oh, but I wanna see Princess Bubblegum!” BMO sighed, popping their head out of Finn’s backpack.

“What should we do now?” Finn asked, also looking a bit disappointed. He had a few bandages on his face and was still limping a little, but seemed fine overall. It was amazing how quickly he had recovered.. His animal hat was being washed and so his blond hair was messily flying all over the place.

“I’m hungry, man,” Jake sighed, “Let’s go to the cafeteria and see what they got cooking.”

I agreed and started to push them towards the stairs. “Yes, yes! Let’s go! I’m starved too!”

Downstairs in the cafeteria, many of the candy people and Banana guards were helping themselves to carrot soup and an assortment of different foods. Huntress Wizard was there, eating food she had brought from her own kitchen. It looked like a dead bird with its beak still on. “Hey guys, are you recovered from your injuries?” she asked, wiping her mouth with a leaf.

“More or less.” Jake said, sitting down with a tray that had a nice-looking sandwich on it. “How was your secret mission with Marceline???”

Finn blinked. “What secret mission?”

HW shrugged. “It was okay. We learned that the Gumbaldians are legit. I mean, when we got there, it became clear how sizable their army is. And they definitely had it in for Marceline, like ready with the stakes, garlic and silver bullets. I had to quickly get her outta there, but not before we took out one of their bases where they were mass producing Dum Dum juice.”.

“Oh snap, Uncle Gumbald Isn't messing around!” Jake noted. “He’s like PB, except really evil!”

Finn seemed to be thinking about something else. “I was wondering where you two disappeared to... We got our buns kicked badly yesterday!”

HW rested her hand on top of his. “Yes, I’m sorry we left without telling you. We thought we could end the war last night, but we underestimated them. At the same time, I had sense that you guys would be able to fight your darndest here, so I wasn't worried;”

“To be real, I got really into fighting last night.” Finn uttered, “Like I wouldn’t have stopped. Like I wanted to kill those guys, especially after they hurt Bonnie.”

“Dude it’s okay to get angry sometimes.” Jake replied, “Especially when they’re hurting a friend.”

“But don’t you think all this war stuff is going too far? I mean, Starchie almost died last night! And we have no idea where Abracadaniel is!!”

I stopped from eating my soup and stared at the spoon in my hand. There was truth in Finn’s comments. At the same time, we had to defend ourselves against all this aggression. It wasn’t so simple.

“Yo!” We were interrupted by Marceline the Vampire Queen floating towards us. She looked like she had cleaned up nicely, having showered and put on a white sweatshirt and fresh pair of jeans (which I think she might have borrowed from the Princess). She also had a very visible hickey on her neck. “Peebs is asking for all of you to join for a briefing in the study, in like 15 minutes. Including you, Doctor Princess.”

We took this as a cue to quickly finish up our meals, except for BMO, who was more or less playing with his mashed carrots, sculpting some kind of masterpiece. The five of us followed the vampire queen upstairs to the study, which had been inadvertently turned into a war strategy room.

“Thanks for coming,” the Princess said, her arm still in a sling and sitting in a chair with a pillow in front of the room. Others in the room included their allies from all around Ooo. “Lumpy Space Princess,” PB said, addressing her longtime frenemy, “What did your parents say about sending reinforcements from Lumpy Space?”

LSP pushed forward towards the front. “Yeah, so I asked my mom and dad and they were like ‘no way! Your grades are falling and you can’t go to war right now. You need to study really hard and think about my future or whatever, and bring home a B from geometry!' A lumpin B! Oh my glob, so I argued with them, like foreeeevvvver, and then they grounded me FOR A WEEK. I went to my bedroom and cried all afternoon, and then Melissa came by with her car and was like, ‘let’s go girl.’ so I snuck out and came here!”

“Okay, thanks for the report, LSP.” PB replied, swiftly turning to her heir, the Earl of Lemongrab. “How was the advancement of our forces? Were we able to cover new ground, LG?”

“MMm yes, the gumbaldians were no match for our lemonstyles!” Lemongrab screeched, “We have seized the desert lands right outside their illegitimate kingdom and constructed a camp in the canyon! Lemons beat candy, always!!”

“We definitely gave 'em a real good womping!” Slime Princess said gleefully, taking her sword out of her slime body and waving it about, “We flooded their base with slime and captured their weapons to bring them over to our new camp.”

“We weren’t so lucky,” the Flame Princess cut in, “Over at the Fire Kingdom, I was still trying to unite with the council when they surprise attacked us with fire hoses. There were so many casualties. Me and Cinnamon Bun were able to escape. Just barely.”

PB looked serious as she stared towards the young monarch. “I’m so sorry that happened FP... You see, everyone! This is why we must move quickly! Who knows which kingdom they’re going to attack next. It's time to take action. Let’s make preparations tonight and head out at dawn!” She then turned towards me, “Doctor Princess, can you come with us? I asked Dr Ice Cream and Nurse Poundcake to stay behind, but I’d like you to head up the medic ward at our camp.”

“Y-Yes, milady! I can for sure!”

Finn popped up next to me. “But what about the Candy kingdom? Peebles, we can’t leave it under protected.”

“We won’t.” PB replied, “I’ve asked Canyon to come to help the Veritas Brigade and the candy citizen militia. And we got the Ancient Tandem War Elephant to hold it down. This way we can take the battle to them.” The group seemed mostly in agreement, except Finn who I noticed had a very concerned look on his face. Even Marceline, who stood at PB’s right side, had an uneasy look on her face.

After the meeting, folks broke up to make preparations before heading into battle. There was a lot of nervousness in the air. I packed up my favorite medical supplies and put them in a duffel bag and instructed the Banana Guards to grab some additional items from storage. Nurse Poundcake came over and gave me a big hug. “You’re going to be okay.”

“You too, Friend, I’ll see you afterwards…”

Next I decided to visit the Nursery. I wanted to see Peps before leaving. The candy kids were all taking the naps, but I noticed that Peps wasn’t there. I went to ask Madam Chocoberry about it. “Oh yes, the little mint. He went off somewhere. I sent Chet to go look for him.”

I blinked my eyes. Where could Peps be headed to? Was he looking for me? I thanked Chocoberry and took my leave. I decided to wander around the castle to find him. After hours of searching, and poking my head into the different rooms of the Candy Castle, I found myself in Peps’ room across from the kitchen and the science laboratory on the first basement floor.

His room was cold, like no one had been there in days. It was true that prior to him being transformed, he was staying at my place a lot. I sat down at his desk and eyed the notebooks piled on there. His many diaries. I reached over and took one, blowing the dust off the cover before slowly opening it to a random page.

Evil is rising. In vile power, the fiend walks among us again. The Vampire King. With all my investigations into the supernatural, I should know better, but I can't help it. I'm dying to see him in person!

I paused to smile to myself. “You weirdo, Peps.”

It was then that I heard the door open and close. “What are you doing in here?” I turned around to see the Princess.

“Your highness, I wanted to see if there was anything he left behind… maybe there can be clues here, like how to cure his condition. Like...”

“Like Magic?” PB asked. I slowly nodded. She seemed to consider what I was suggesting, even though as a die-hard believer of science it would go against everything that she had told herself to be true. “Doctor Princess, come with me.”

I followed the princess out of the room and into the kitchen. She gestured to me to sit down at the kitchen counter, while she turned to the refrigerator and came back with ice cream and some fixings. She paused to take off her sling. I gasped, “What are you…?!”

“I’m fine. Please, let me. I insist.” she said, not showing any visible pain. The strong medicines that I gave her seemed to have kicked in. “Doctor, you’re probably aware that Peps was well versed in the dark arts.”

“I knew.” I admitted, watching as she carefully scooped ice cream into two small dishes. “Regarding the full extent of his powers, I guess I don’t really know. We didn’t really talk about that part of his life much. If anything it was always brief and vague.”

“Same. it wasn’t a topic we engaged much on." the princess said quietly while topping the ice cream with chocolate fudge syrup and a cherry, "He was always so safeguarded about it, as if he was trying to protect me from that world...” She then handed me one of the sundaes. “Go ahead. Let me know what you think.”

“Okay,” I said, while she leaned her chin onto her hand and looked towards me. It felt strange to have the ruler of the Candy Kingdom watch me but I slowly dug into a sundae. “It’s good…” I said after a few bites. “Thank you, Princess.”

“Please call me Bonnie.” she said, still watching me.

I placed my spoon down for a second and frowned towards her. “I’m sorry. I can’t do that. It feels strange to me.”

She frowned as well. “I see...” She paused to take off her crown and placed it on the kitchen counter, running a hand through her pink hair. “How about now? Does this help?”

“No, you’re still the princess.”

She slowly nodded and fell into a thoughtful state, while she methodically ate her sundae, creating the perfect spoonful balanced with ice cream and fudge, saving the maraschino cherry for last. It was fun to watch her eat. After a while, she looked up at me, noticing my gaze. “Yes?”

I decided to change the subject. “So! Do you think after the war, you and Marceline will be together, like together, together? I mean like, sharing your lives and stuff."

“That would be wonderful.” PB said smiling to herself, “You know, if I'm going to be completely honest, I would be willing to leave this all behind, just to spend the rest of my days with her.”

“Really? Would you seriously throw it all away?”

“Really.”

I wanted to ask her more and more questions. But we both stopped to smell smoke in the air. Soon the alarms were ringing and the sprinklers turned on. We were soaked. “Seriously!?” she sighed, looking like she wanted to laugh or cry.

Banana Guards came running into the kitchen. “Princess! Princess! There’s an intruder in the castle! He set fire to your study upstairs! We have him surrounded!”

“All right, I’m coming…” she sighed, putting her crown back on her head. She turned towards me. “Thanks for the little chat, DP.” I nodded as they left the kitchen. I decided to follow them and see what was going on.

Upstairs, the study was engulfed with heavy smoke. Some of the guards had opened the windows to air out the room, while it became apparent that the intruder had been caught and was being tied up by Jake and Finn. “Schorco! You dare show your face around here again!?” Jake growled, tightening up the steel cables around their prisoner.

“LONG LIVE GUMBALDIA!!” Sir Schorco exclaimed, flames still coming out of him.

“Danggit!” PB grumbled noticing that most of her plans and documents had been destroyed from the small arson. She let out a few more curse words and kicked over a chair in frustration. "You think you can beat me, Uncle! NEVER! I WILL DESTROY YOU!! I SWEAR IT!"

Schorcho managed to break free from the cables and was building up enough flames. “Ha! You think you can beat us this easily, Princess! You are mistaken! I--”

He was suddenly hit with a big wave of ice and was frozen alive. Everyone turned towards the Ice King who stood in the doorway with his hands outreached. “Wait a minute, guys, who the heck dated Schorcho! How is he part of the Legion of Evil Exes??!!”

Jake glared towards him. “Dude, don’t you remember?! Schorco is the hitman you hired to take out me and Finn!”

“Oh, you’re right,” IK said, “He’s my evil exe! I guess I’ll take care of him (again)!” With that, the Ice King picked up the frozen enemy with his bare feet and carried him outside. "I’ll just go drop him in the ocean. Brb.”

“Hey Bonnie,” Marceline said, entering the room holding the hand of none other than, Peppermint Butler. “Oh geez what happened here?”

“We were attacked again,” PB sighed, rolling her eyes, “Really, Gumbaldia’s relentless! Oh, hi Peps!”

“Yeah, I found him wandering around the castle.”

“P… Princess…” We all stopped. Peps was speaking!

I stepped forward, staring at him and so happy to hear his voice again. “Peps…!” His eyes met mine for a second and then looked away. Something seemed different about him from before the day before when we were attacked. Before I could say anything, he spoke again.

“Princess,” he said in a childish voice, “Princess!” He rushed forward, past me and to the Princess, going to hold onto the hem of her magenta dress. She seemed as surprised as I did. We exchanged glances, unable to say a thing for a second.

Jake scratched the top of his head. “That’s cool, he spoke. But wasn’t he turned into a baby like a few days ago? How is he walking and talking already??”

“It’s very mysterious!” Finn noted, “Then again, Peppermint Butler was always so, so mysterious.”

The Princess placed a steel helmet onto Pep’s little head and grinned. “It’s going to be dangerous, but do you want to come along with me?” He nodded, eyes locked on hers. It looked like a scene I had seen before in the past.

Marceline put her hand on my shoulder, “Hey,” she whispered, “How’s your heart right now?”

My heart? I didn’t know; I was so perplexed by it all. There wasn’t much time to linger on it. We were heading into battle soon. If we made it out of there alive, I swore that I was going to find a cure. No matter what, I was going to bring him back, to bring back “us.” That is, if there was an “us” left.

To be continued.

Chapter Text

We left at dawn. The journey to the Candy main camp was long. As we travelled through the Grasslands with the whole caravan, I sat in the back of one of the trucks, having a cup of 3in1 instant coffee with HW, Finn, CB, and Flame Princess. It was so early and I had barely slept. Sitting with a blanket on my shoulders and cradling the hot cup in my hands, I stared at the pink carriage up ahead. Inside, I knew Peps was sitting beside the Princess and I couldn’t help but wonder about him. I couldn’t shake that something was wrong.

“Phoebe,” Finn said from across the flatbed, “I’m sorry about what happened to your people. I hope that you can rebuild and recover.”

The Flame Princess stared towards him and looked very sad. “Thanks Finn, but I don’t know if the Fire Kingdom will ever be the same after losing so many of our own. I’m so angry with myself that it even happened.”

“It’s not your fault though…”

“Yes it is,” she cut him off, “It is my responsibility to protect my people from harm. The massacre happened under my rule. I’ll never forgive myself, and I’ll never forgive Gumbaldia. I will defeat them, in my people's memory!”

Finn seemed to shudder her intensity, especially with the flames around her growing. Huntress Wizard looked back and forth between them. “Didn't you two used to date or something?”

“AH!” Finn turned red. “T-That was such a long time ago! I was like 13!!”

“Yeah, we were really young.” FP noted, “I definitely learned a lot during that time. I can’t say I would go through anything like that ever again. Being in a relationship is a lot of work and not something I have desire for.” She let out a laugh that sounded tired and despondent, while Finn frowned and stared directly at the princess, crumpling the paper cup in his hand.

It was then that the big cinnamon bun knight walked over, bumping into the boy as he dropped a pile of firewood in the middle of the group. It seemed to snap Finn out of his mood. The Flame Princess lifted her hand and lit the pile creating a nice fire, which I felt grateful for as it was getting pretty chilly. While I scooted closer to the warmth, I could hear Cinnabon Bon speak, “Thank you, my Princess. You should rest your eyes. I can keep watch.”

“You’re right, CB. I think I’m going to take a short nap. Wake me if something happens.” She then closed her eyes and slowly leaned her head against the cinnamon bun’s shoulder. Because he had the fire enchantment spell, which turned him blue, he didn’t burn. CB and Finn seemed to be staring down each other like two rivals, but maybe I was just imagining it.

“Hey!” Marceline arrived, floating up to the truck while carrying Jake the Dog. The two landed on the flatbed and joined the group. “Sorry it took us so long. BMO was not cool with us leaving them behind at the Tree House.”

Jake sighed. “Yeah, I feel bad leaving BMO, but a war is no place for that little guy. It’s way way too dangerous! I just hope they don’t wreck up the place!” He took a seat next to his brother. “You cool, man? You seemed perturbed.”

“I’m fine.” Finn stated stiffly.

"Geez, this is so borrrring!" Marceline groaned, and picked up a random guitar that was lying in the back of the truck. "Let's sing some songs to pass the time." She then started to play melancholy tune and sing softly:

Today…
you were far away
And I... didn't ask you why

Jake joined in, playing his violin as the two of them grinned at each other. Marcy continued.

What could I say… I was far away
You just walked away… and I just watched you
What could I say...
How close am I… to losing you

I could see Finn yawn under his white animal hat and stretch his arms. Next to him, Huntress Wizard was nodding off to sleep, eventually transforming herself into a log.

Tonight… You just close your eyes
And I just watch you… Slip away
How close am I… to losing you?

The truck was hitting some rocky patch in the road, but most of us were too tired to be bothered. I looked up at the night sky full of stars. There were two shooting stars that shot across. As I watched them I could feel tears in the corners of my eyes.

Hey... are you awake
Yeah, I'm right here...
Well can I ask you… About today

Leaning my chin down onto my arms, I started to feel heavy and fading deeply into sleep to the sound of the vampire queen’s soothing voice and the magical dog’s violin.

How close am I… to losing you...
How close am I… to losing...

The world became still and quiet. It felt like ages since the last time I had slept. And then, all of a sudden…

“OHMYGLOB!! MARCELINE! STOPIT!” Lumpy Space Princess’ exclamation made me jolt awake as I noticed the Purple princess had floated into view, “YOU ALWAY MAKE ME WANNA CRY WITH YOUR SONGS!”

Marcy chuckled mischievously. “Yeah! That’s the point!”

“What the heck, LSP!” Finn cried, as HW stirred next to him, “We’re all trying to get some rest!”

“We are going to war...” HW mumbled, “We need all the strength we can get to survive. Now if you excuse me…” She then transformed back into a log.

“H-How can she do that?” I asked, to which I didn’t get any answers except some shrugs and laughs.

Conversation was pretty limited for the rest of the journey to the camp. Most of us got to sleep, each taking turns to keep watch. It was in the afternoon when we arrived at the bottom of the canyon at the other end of the Grasslands where Slime Princess and Lemongrab had set up the base. Hopping out of the truck, a couple Banana Guards approached me. “We’re here to help you get the medical ward set up, Doc.”

“Thank you.” I said, picking up my bags. I paused to see the Princess emerge from her carriage with Peps at her side. Before I could say anything, they were gone, going right into the main strategy tent.

“Doctor?” Banana Guard #17 asked, seeing that I had stopped in the middle of the path. “Is everything all right?”

“Yes, I’m fine. Let’s go.”

The medical ward had a few cots set up along with a lantern and a table. I was glad to see a sanitation station, and started to boil some hot water. Banana Guards #17 and #16 were sticking around, so I assumed they were going to be helping me. I overheard that the Princess had called a meeting in the main tent with all their allies, and sent Finn and Jake out to go scouting. I busied myself with preparations. To be honest, I had never been part of a war effort or had to work with such limited resources. Most of my experience had been working in hospital and clinics, with the exception of the time that the Candy Infirmary had been destroyed and we set up an emergency tent in the courtyard. Let's just say that I had a taste of what was to come during the Siege of the Candy Castle. My heart was beating anxiously, thinking about it all.

“Doctor,” Seventeen noted, “It’s half past one. The meeting is taking a recess for lunch break. Now would be a good time to check on the Princess’ injuries.”

“Good idea.” I replied, thinking that the Princess must've given me her brightest and sharpest banana guards, “ I’ll be right back.” I picked up a couple of bottles of medicines and a roll of gauze and placed them in my medical bag, leaving the tent.

As I was walking towards the Princess’ tent, I paused to hear whispering nearby. I went to find the source of it and saw two people meeting behind an old dried up tree away from everyone’s view. Coming closer, I saw that it was Marceline and another person I did not know. “How can I possibly believe you?” she asked in a hushed voice.

“Because, why would I lie? Ugh, are you still mad about that teddy bear?”

“You knew how important Hambo was to me...”

The other person let out a frustrated sound. “Ugh, I screwed up okay! If I could go back and not sell Hambo to that witch, I would! I was a jerk, okay! There, you happy!”

Marceline crossed her arms. “No. I am not happy with you, and I never will be.”

“Look, whatever you may think of me, I still care about you and I don’t want Ooo to explode. Things have gone too far. You need to tell your girlfriend to stop this war now, or else we are all going to be killed!”

The shadowy figure took his leave and I caught a glimpse of what he looked like. He was a lanky warlock, with a long mohawk and a dark blue cloak. Now that the vampire queen was alone, I went up to her. “Marceline, who was that?”

She turned towards me and looked dismayed. “That was my ex, Ash. He’s been working with Gumbaldia, but he came here to warn us, that if we don’t stop the war now, we could be facing a similar result to the Mushroom War.”

“Geez, that sounds horrible... But, just how exactly are we supposed to stop the Gum war!?”

“I’m not really sure.” she sighed, “Please don’t tell Peebs that I was talking with my ex. I think it would upset her.”

“You have my word. But what are you going to do???”

“I guess I’m going to try telling her...”

“Oh! I’m supposed to go check on her injuries!” I gasped, suddenly remembering, “I better go do that!”

“Yeah, that’s pretty important!” Marcy said with a chuckle, “You go ahead, Doctor. I’ll speak with Bonnie later.”

I nodded, leaving behind the vampire queen to think about what she was going to say to the princess. I admit, I was glad I was not in her shoes. The Gum War had barely begun and already there were so many casualties. But convincing the Princess was another story, given the hostilities between her and her uncle, and the irreparable damage to their relationship.

I arrived at the royal tent and announced myself. Inside, I found the Princess coughing up vomit into a nearby wastebasket. “Milady! Are you all right?!” I cried, rushing to her side.

“It must be stress.” she uttered, wiping her chin with her sleeve as I helped her into a chair. Young Peps came over holding a goblet of water and a towel, which she took. “Thank you.” she said weakly taking a sip of water.

I let her know that I was there to examine her injury and she nodded quietly. With Peps’ assistance I was able to remove part of her armor to take a look at her arm. To be honest, it did not look all that great. I started to clean the wound and apply a layer of salve, then wrap the wound again with fresh bandages. Peps was a great assistant. Although we did not share a word, we seemed to work well with each other. He seemed to know what I was asking before I said anything. When he placed the shears in my hand, I tried to catch his eye. But he moved swiftly away before I could say 'thank you.'

“Thank you,” the Princess said as she buttoned up her tunic. “Can you help me back into my armor?”

“Your majesty, I think it would be better if you rested your arm and used the sling. It’s not going to heal properly and you might make it--”

She cut me off, “I can’t let them see me like this! Looking weak!” Peps and I exchanged looks, for the first time in ages our eyes met. I could see the growing concern in his face. “Please!” she said, almost pleading with us. Reluctantly, we helped fasten her armor back in place. Once she was fully in her gear, she picked up the bottle of medicine and drank half of it, before taking her sword and going to leave the tent. “Thank you, Doctor.”

“You're welcome.” I said quietly watching Peps follow after her.

I eventually returned to my tent. Sixteen and Seventeen were playing “I spy” in the tent, but upon seeing me jumped back into position. “It’s okay, guys. Nothing’s going on yet. There are some turnips in the food and supplies tent. You should get something to eat. I’ll be fine here.”

“Yes ma’am! We’ll be right back!” Sixteen said, as he and Seventeen excitedly left the medical ward.

I went to sit down at the table. Eventually I noticed that there was someone else in the tent. I jolted up and reached for the sword Finn had given me earlier (even if I didn’t know how to use it). Then I saw who it was and felt relief. “Abracadaniel! Where have you been!”

The wizard looked exhausted as if he had been running all night long. “Doctor Princess, it’s about to begin!”

“I know, the big battle between the Candy Kingdom and Gumbaldia...”

“No… something way worse!” he cried, grabbing both my hands. “The night of the siege, I fell off the roof and was knocked out for a bit. When I woke, I saw Magic Man and Betty...they were up to something with Maja… without the Ancient Tandem War Elephant to watch over her, they took the unconscious sky witch. I followed them and I overheard them wanting to use her as a powerful battery.”

I blinked at his delirious face. “A powerful battery for what exactly? Like a weapon?”

“I think so, but I don’t know whose side they are on - ours or Gumbaldia! And there’s something else…” He paused to take a few sips of water from a nearby goblet. “The night I fled from Wizard City, I heard that some terrible demon god was coming from the old magic acolytes. His very name triggered chaos and fighting. It erupted into a civil war among wizards. Friends just started attacking each other... I think his coming is close at hand!”

I didn’t know what to say. I knew he had told me about this Wizard civil war the other day, but it hadn’t sunk in to me, until now. “We need to tell the Princess, or somebody!” We stopped to hear the sirens. Poking our heads out of the tent, it looked like PB’s army was already leaving and heading into battle. We were too late.

Within an hour there were the first ground shaking attacks, and the first injured. Sixteen and Seventeen returned from the Turnip tent and brought in the injured guards. Soon, more and more wounded guards were brought. I immediately put Abracadaniel to work, helping me heal them. We worked through the day, but it was non-stop. Soon there weren’t any more beds left and we had to place folks on the ground.

Then at one point, there was a huge blast of white light. We all felt stuck in it, unable to move or make a sound for the time being. It struck us so suddenly that there really wasn’t any time to react. Next thing I know I was hitting the ground, so hard my glasses broke.

“W...what was that?” I asked weakly, “A bomb?”

“No…” Abracadaniel uttered. The wizard was also lying on the ground, unable to get up. It’s… GOLB...”

“GOLB?” Looking up, there was someone standing in front of me. “Peps!” I cried, seeing his red and white back to me, “What’s happening!”

He slowly turned towards me, but couldn’t/didn’t say a word. I took the moment to look up and saw the sky erupt, there was lightning, and a dark shadowy figure descending from the clouds. The end of Ooo was upon us and you could sense it in the air, the taste and smells of Death. Never had I felt so scared.

It was then I felt something warm. I looked down to see Peps’ hand on mine. Without words, his eyes told me everything. We were going to be okay. Keep going. I nodded. I slowly got up off the ground, and began to get back to work, tending to the injured, despite the intensifying fighting that was happening in the sky above us. Peps seemed to have slipped away to run off somewhere when I wasn’t looking. But I kept going. This was the longest day in Ooo, and we were going to fight until the very end.

To be continued.

Chapter Text

I woke up suddenly from a nightmare. My heart was pounding, and I was lying in my own bed, my room dark with the curtains drawn. Touching my sweaty forehead, I took a moment to catch my breath. I guess I’d been dreaming about the Gum War again. Explosions, fighting, injuries, blood all around. These nightmares were my actual memories, which replayed in my mind like an old film reel. Putting on my robe and opening the curtain to stare outside, letting the sunlight fill the empty room, I wondered when was the last time I had a good night's sleep.

The outcome of the Gum War was something that I didn’t expect. I don’t think anyone else did. Just before the Candy Kingdom and Gumbaldia clashed in a decisive battle, the war was actually resolved by none other than Finn the Human. And then, according to eye witness accounts, the ancient deity of chaos, GOLB, descended from the sky and a major battle for the fate of Ooo erupted. At the end of it, Fern the Human was dead and there was much destruction and countless victims. But at least Ooo wasn’t completely destroyed (only slightly destroyed).

After getting dressed, I came out of my room to see Abracadaniel snoring on the sofa. The wizard had been crashing at my apartment for the last week or so. He told me a few nights ago that he was preparing to return back to Wizard City, but needed to gather supplies and intel before leaving. As far as we knew, the conflict between wizards had not resolved and the city remained unsafe. To be honest, I liked having the company and felt sad he was heading home.

I went into the kitchen to make a pot of coffee, pausing to look at a photograph of myself and Peppermint Butler on the refrigerator. It was taken two years ago at Ooolapalooza Music Festival and we were wearing matching rock shirts. My heart fell just thinking about how much I missed him. I reached over and took the photo and put it in my pocket.

Outside on the street there was a bit of traffic of folks getting to work. I walked with the flow, heading towards the castle. Since the war ended, I’d been helping out with following up with patients, including the Princess. Not only was her arm still recovering, but she'd suffered from a concussion and stomach issues. Despite that, she seemed busy as ever. When I arrived at her court, she was already up and about, ordering around her royal staff as they prepared décor and meals for some kind of a big event.

“Good morning Doctor Princess! I see that you’re well!” she said coming over to meet me, “We’re having a celebration tonight for the end of the war. All of the Candy Kingdom, our allies and our new friends at Gumbaldia will be in attendance. There’ll be cake and karaoke… You’ll come, right?”

“Um…” I uttered, looking around as a few Banana guards walked by with a bunch of balloons, “Princess, you really should be taking it easy. Your injuries, though not life-threatening, need time to heal completely.”

“Oh right right,” she said, looking distracted. We both paused to watch the Banana Guards trip over themselves and release the balloons, then floating up towards the ceiling. There was a groan and an apology (and some tears), but the Princess remained patient. “It’s cool, guys! We have plenty of balloons! Just blow up some more!” She then turned to me. “Okay, let’s go before things get really hectic.”

We went up to her room, where we were able to do the medical examination in private. I took a look at her arm, as well as took a blood sample. While I wasn’t sure what was happening with her stomach, I could deduce it had something to do with stress or nerves. Doing a blood lab would ensure that nothing serious was wrong.

“Well, it looks like your arm’s finally showing improvement.” I stated, jotting down some notes, “But you should really still take it easy and not lift anything heavy or do any strenuous activity. And I see you’re running low on your medicine. I can go ahead and refill your prescription today.”

“Thank you, Doctor.” the Princess said, buttoning up her blouse and carefully putting on her blazer. “So, how have you been holding up?”

“Honestly, I’m pretty tired. I haven’t been sleeping, not since the war ended.” I said quietly. I stopped to see the Princess’ face. She genuinely looked sorry, and responsible, but I didn’t blame her, at least not for the heaviness I was carrying with me. I glanced at my watch, “Please excuse me, I have other patients I need to attend to..”

“Wait!” The Princess came after me. “Before you go, there is something I want to ask you…” I stopped and turned around, seeing her looking earnestly at me. "You see, Dr. Ice Cream just told me that he would like to retire and so I wanted to see if it would be all right with you if I could appoint you as the Candy Kingdom’s Court Physician.”

I blushed. “M-Me? With all due respect, your highness, I’m not really qualified. I’m not even a real doctor! I just kind of showed up here for an x-ray and fell into the work, I couldn’t!”

“Nonsense! Even without any formal training or a medical degree, or whatever, you’ve proven time and again to be a very capable and skilled doctor! You saved so many during the Gum War, and you’re reliable and would be the best for the job!”

My blush deepened at all the praise. “I don’t know what to say, Can I think about it?”

“Yes of course! Do let me know what you decide! Anyways, I won’t keep you. I shall see you town at the celebration!”

I nodded my head as she walked past me to return to party preparations. I headed to the infirmary. Nurse Poundcake and the Clown Nurses were sipping coffee and chatting when I arrived. NP looked particularly excited this morning. “Did the Princess ask you to be the Court Physician?? Are you going to take the job??”

I couldn’t help but frown as I sat down to check the patients’ files. “Yes, she did ask me but I’m not sure…”

“OH what! Why not?? Dp, we’ll be able to work together again, and it’s like a short walk from your apartment, and there’s a pretty sweet salary! Not to mention, you’ll be close to Peps…”

I stopped and looked up from the file that I had been reading. “Nurse Poundcake, please let’s just get to work!” I swiftly got up and walked over to the examination room where my patient was waiting. Closing the door, I sighed. Normally I’d be happy for this opportunity, but right now my head was pretty mixed up about it.

“Now that’s a sigh!” Marceline the Vampire Queen chuckled. “What’s going on, DP?”

“Marceline! Are you here for an exam?!”

“Nope, not me, it’s for him...” she replied. Sitting next to her was a young-looking man with long brown hair and blue spectacles. He seemed to be distracted and was looking around the room with wonder. Marceline gave him a playful slap on the arm. “Hey. the doctor is here to see you!”

“Oh! Thanks, Ma--” he uttered looking up at me. He suddenly screamed. It was a horrified scream, like one you’d hear upon seeing a ghost or something really, really scary.

“Um, what’s going on????” I asked, as Marceline jumped on the man and covered his mouth with both hands. “Is he all right…????”

“Not sure. Can you take a look at him??” the vampire queen laughed nervously, “Simon, it’s rude to scream at people. Now I’m going to release you, but you need to chill!"

“Okay… thanks Marcy…” he uttered, seeming to have calmed down. He looked a bit embarrassed. “I’m sorry, Doc. You just reminded me of someone…”

“No, it’s okay.” I replied, “I’ve definitely been screamed at before. So, what brings you in today…?”

“It’s Simon. Simon Petrikov.”

I blinked at him. “You seem awfully familiar, Simon… Have we met before?”

Marceline grinned. “You sure have! He was the Ice King!!”

I dropped my files onto the floor. “No… way.. The IK…?!” I was shocked. How was this handsome guy be the same as the creepy stalker guy from before. While I let this all set in, Simon knelt onto the floor to pick up my files for me. “T-Thanks...Sorry.. How is this possible…??”

“I’m not sure.” he sighed, “It’s like I’ve been in a bad dream for the last thousand years or so, watching myself do unspeakable things and fall deeper into madness. I thought I would never be free from my own ice mental prison, but then my fiancé figured out a way to save me from the Ice Crown. And now she’s…” The man couldn't say any more and his eyes watered with tears.

Marceline put her hand on his shoulder. “It’s okay, Simon. Take your time. I mean you just got back, back to me! I’m never letting you go, you hear me!”

“You two seem close.” I noted, gesturing Simon to sit back down. “I’m sure you two have an interesting backstory, which I would love to hear about later. But I do have other patients to attend to. Can I proceed with a basic check-up to ensure that everything is in working order?”

“Y-Yes!” he gasped and proceeded to pull off his maroon sweater. He flinched as I placed my cold stethoscope on his back to hear his heartbeat. “Doc, I also have this heavy feeling of dread and nervousness. And I’ve been unable to sleep...”

“Hmm, sounds like post traumatic syndrome. Which makes sense. Being locked up in the mental prison of the Ice Crown for thousands of years isn’t something easy to heal from. I can get you some medicine to help you sleep, and recommend a therapist, but maybe some exercise and simple diet could help.” I wrote it down on a slip of paper and handed it to him, together with a lollipop, before getting up. “It was nice meeting you, Simon.”

“Thanks, DP!” Marceline said, as I turned to leave, “Will you be at the party tonight?” I turned back to respond, but stopped to see that guy was still staring at me intensely. I quickly took my leave.

I spent the rest of the day, lost in thought. Should I take the Court Physician position, or not? Should I go to the party, or not? Should I have a coffee or a hot cocoa? Standing in front of the vending machine, I had difficulty with even the most simplest decisions. Closing my eyes, I just hit a random button. The machine started to make me a matcha latte. Dang, I should have gotten a mocha.

It was then that I noticed that Finn the Human was walking alongside his ex-girlfriend the Flame Princess down the hallway towards the vending machines. Oddly the cinnamon man was nowhere in sight, since he was rarely seen away from the flame princess’ side. I blew on my hot beverage and tried hard not to look so obvious in that I was eavesdropping on their conversation.

“Oh come, Phoebe! I can totally help you rebuild your Kingdom! You know, homies helping homies??”

“I don’t know, Finn. Aren’t you PB’s champion? Shouldn’t you be helping her here in the Candy Kingdom??”

“Nah, Peebs’ll be fine. She’s got Marceline now.” he said, quietly, “She doesn’t really need me anymore...”

FP looked him over and frowned. “You okay, dude? I mean, didn’t your twin brother just die?”

“Fern isn't my twin. He’s me, just grass…But I’m totes fine! Never been better!”

“And didn’t your Treehouse get destroyed?”

“Yeah, I’m homeless now. Thankfully, PB is letting us stay here at the castle until we figure things out. So it’s cool.”

FP didn’t look like she was buying it. “Finn, I know you. You don’t need to pretend that things are fine. Things are pretty messed up. And I don’t think coming to the Flame Kingdom to escape it all will change anything. You kind of need to deal with your emotions, like in a healthy way. Anyway, I better go…”

As she took her leave, Finn watched with a forlorn look on his face. “Hey Finn!” I said, startling him, “Aren’t you dating Huntress Wizard? Why don’t you talk with her, or move in with her?”

“Oh, HW and I are tryna keep it casual. No labels, no strings attached, just casual!”

“Sounds nice.” I sighed, sipping on my matcha latte. It was bitter and sweet. “Before the Gum War, I was in a committed relationship and things were getting serious. And now, I don’t know. It’s all different now. It’s like we were never together.”

“Hey Doctor,” Finn replied, turning towards me, “We will find a way to cure Peppermint Butler. I’m sure of it!”

“And what if we don’t!” I blurted out, “What if he stays like that forever?” Just the thought of it made me feel angry and sad all at the same time. “I think I need to start accepting the fact that that’s a real possibility, you know.”

“Yeah, I know...” he said softly, “I guess there are things we need to get used to... Things that are beyond our control… but we shouldn’t give up hope.” I slowly nodded as he reached over and wiped a stray tear from my eye. “I’ll see you tonight at the party? Come on, after all we’ve been through, we could all use a little bit of fun and to let off some steam!”

“S-Sure..” I uttered. When did this kid become a dashing ladies man. I took another sip of my latte and then tossed the cup into the waste bin. I glanced at my watch again. “I gotta go wrap up my rounds. I’ll see ya!”

Before the end of the day, I needed to stop by the pharmacy and deliver some prescriptions, especially the Princess’s refills. When I arrived in her bedchambers, I went to place the small bottles on her dresser. I stopped to see Peps standing over by the windows. He was holding up some old parchment up against the sunlight coming from the window.

“Peps! What are you doing here?” I stammered, approaching him. He just stared towards me and didn’t say a word. His look was stern, something very different from the carefree candy I saw the other day. We both stopped to hear the sound of the door opening.

Stumbling into the room, Marceline and the Princess were too busy making out to notice us rushing over to hide behind the curtains. The Vampire Queen kicked the door closed as her gum gf literally was pulling her towards the bed. As this all was happening I couldn't help but grimace; I thought I had told her no strenuous activity.

“Bon... shouldn’t you be...downstairs...?” Marcy asked, in between kisses, “Like handing out medals… and welcoming your guests??”

“Don’t worry. I’ve got like 10 minutes.” PB replied, her arms wrapping around her girlfriend’s neck, “Besides, there’s something serious I want to talk to you about…”

Marcy grinned, a fang sticking out “Before or after we do it?”

“After…” PB said hungrily, moving to caress her face and kiss her deeply. Marcy tightened her hold around her waist and it looked like things were about to get sexy, when we all stopped to hear glass break.

Peps had stepped out from behind the curtain and pushed a vase onto the floor. From behind the curtain, I stared towards him. “What are you doing??” I whispered.

“Oh!” the Princess gasped, having noticed that there were others in the room. “Peps! What the heck are you doing here!?”

“Yeah, what’s the deal, you little voyeur???” Marcy laughed, going to pat him on the head. “And what’s Doctor Princess doing here too? How very suspicious that you two are here!”

I blushed. “I-I was just dropping off the Princess’ medicines. And Peps was…” I actually didn't know what Peps was doing here in the Princess’ bedchambers. It was very suspicious indeed.

Before another word was said, the door opened and a couple of banana guards were there. “Princess, you have to come right away!”

“Oh butterballs! Are the guests here already??!”

“Actually it’s just one guest… it’s the King of Mars!”

The Princess’ face became serious at the mention of that name. She slowly nodded and backed away from the vampire queen going to follow the guards out the door. Marceline also seemed pretty unsettled. Whoever this King of Mars was, they didn't seem to be a friend of the Candy Kingdom. As we left the room I couldn’t help but notice that Peppermint Butler seemed to be smiling a little.

To be continued

Chapter Text

It wasn’t enough that her sexy rendezvous with her half-vampire half-demon girlfriend was interrupted, but now the Princess had to deal with a party-crasher in her court. Let’s just say she was very, very annoyed and it showed.

“What do you want, Magic Man?!” the Princess said sternly from the top of the staircase. With an elegant flowing gown, her crown shining atop her pink head, an entourage of Banana Guards and her champions at her side, the ruler of the Candy Kingdom looked down at the King of Mars with eyes like sharp daggers ready to take him out.

The King remained calm. He removed his black top hat and bowed his head towards the fellow monarch. In fact, this was the very hat that once dawned the head of Abraham Lincoln. That is before he was stripped of his immortality and sent down the Death World.

“It is Kingman now. After the Grob Gob Glob Grod sacrificed their body to save our land from the Great Comet, I assumed the throne.”

“Yes, yes, I read about it in the newspaper, and some bits and pieces from Finn and Jake. Seriously what do you want?”

“I come with a request that you lend me your best fighters to help ensure my safe passage home. My actions to bring back the deity, GOLB, has led to the demise of Maja the Sky Witch, whom you were acquainted with...”

“Yeah, Maja tried to destroy our kingdom and she destroyed my favorite rock shirt!”

Marceline the Vampire Queen looked surprised. “Wait, she did what now?”

Kingman continued, “Anyways, Maja was in care of the Ancient Tandem War Elephant, and let’s say Elphie is pissed that I killed his friend. So, he’s trying to destroy me now. Look, I have but a simple ask - help me return back to Mars, and I will guarantee an alliance between Mars and Ooo, especially with the Candy Kingdom.”

The two brothers glanced at each other. “That would be us, huh?" Jake said.

Finn shrugged. "Okay, I’ll go!”

PB cut them off. “No. you two are not going anywhere. We have work to do here to rebuild and stabilize the Kingdom. I can’t have my two champions running off to Mars with this maniac!”

Kingman didn't seem like he was giving up. He stepped forward and knelt down on the floor. “I feel responsible for Magic Betty. Please forgive me for my brash actions. If I hadn’t helped her bring back GOLB none of this would have happened!”

Starchie popped up. “Actually, if PB didn’t try to start a war with her Uncle, none of this would have happened.” he stated, to which PB told him to shut up.

Kingman continued, “I assure you I just want to get home back to my people. Have mercy and consider my offer. I only want peace and harmony between Ooo and Mars.”

Then, Banana guard 3 announced that the guests had started to arrive. The Princess seemed slightly relieved to be ending the conversation. “We shall continue this later, but if you want me to even consider anything, you better not mess up my party.” she said sharply and moved down the stairway past him to go welcome her guests.

“Of course, your majesty” he replied, tipping his hat. He paused to see Simon Petrikov standing nearby and made a disgusted face. “Ugh, Ice King! I guess Betty was successful, but dang you look terrible, like some scrawny British rock groupie....!”

Simon Petrikov’s face lit up. “Wait, you knew my darling princess, Betty?”

“Yes, I did. Betty was my apprentice, that is until she went mad. And she became my roommate and we lived together for a while…” He paused, seeing the suspicious look on his face. “Oh don’t misunderstand. I don’t think of her that way! She was trying to help me bring back my ex-wife, Margles! It was a short-term agreement that we join forces, nothing more!”

“Good, because Betty’s my fiance! And I’ll do anything to bring her back!”

“Me too, IK, me too! Perhaps we can work together.” King Man said. He suddenly caught my eye, noticing I had been listening the whole time. “And, Doctor Princess, perhaps we can work together, too.”

I blinked. “Me? No, I’m just a nobody who eavesdrops on everyone’s conversations. I don’t even know what you’re all talking about…!” I stammered, feeling my face flush as the two were now staring at me intensely.

“But you will. Soon.” Kingman said with a creepy grin.

“Yeah, no thanks.” I replied and quickly turned and walked away from them.

The main hall was soon being filled with guests from all over Ooo. The big celebration was meant to acknowledge a new era in the land of Ooo, a time of peace. The Gumbaldian ruler, the newly crowned Princess Lollie had arrived with her own entourage of cake subjects. PB was at the gate, welcoming each and every one of them. They had brought a few kegs of their finest sarsaparilla as gifts to the Candy Kingdom. After the several hours long awards ceremony, in which each and every Banana Guard, ally, person who played a role in the Gum War was given a medal, we were finally able to let our hair down and party.

I made my way across the room to get a sample of the gifted booze. There were folks dancing, lights and lasers flashing, and on stage, the brothers: Jake and Finn were on stage, singing a karaoke duet. I was just pleased to see that there was an open bar and helped myself to a pint. Just as I was about to take a sip of the foamy, carbonated, sweet goodness, Lumpy Space Princess popped up next to me and slapped me on the shoulders.

“Well, well, well! If it isn’t the brave and reliable Doctor Princess! Nice medal you got there! You know what medal I got from PB tonight….? SQUAT! That’s right! She didn’t even mention me in her stupid speech! What kind of ungrateful friend! After all I have done to save the Land of Ooo! I AM THE TRUE HERO HERE! Not Finn, not Jake, not Beemo, not Marceline, not Huntress Wizard, not you--!””

As she was naming off just about every person she could think of, I just thought about how more of my drink spilled on the floor than in my mouth. “LSP, why don’t you just tell PB that your feelings are hurt??”

“No way! I’m just gonna just be all passive aggressive and like enact my revenge!! It turns out that the Earl of Lemongrab who I’ve been getting on with is HER SON!”

I just finished whatever was left of my pint. “Technically all of the candy citizens were her children…”

“But he’s not just her son, but he’s like her one and true heir to the throne! Once I control his heart, I’ll be able to control him! And someday the Candy Kingdom WILL BE MINE! And PB will be pissed!!!”

“Wow. I thought you wanted to date Lemongrab, not control him.”

“IT’S THE SAME THING!” LSP cried. She then grinned at me. “Speaking of which, when are you going to start dating again?? Hm?? Hmm??”

“Too soon, too soon.” I sighed, grabbing another pint. “Anyway, I’m still with Peps.”

“Boring, Dp! It’s so boring to be you!” LSP groaned. “Look, your once hot, dark arts boyfriend is now a baby, so GET OVER IT!”

I frowned and stared over at the kiddie table where Peppermint Butler was sitting along with the other minor candies and Crunchy, who for some reason was not in jail. “Hey, I can’t just give up on Peps. We’ve been through so much together. Even if he doesn’t remember me, or remember himself, I have to find a way to un-dum dum juice him, you know what I mean?”

It was subtle, but LSP’s face flinched and she seemed to want to end the conversation as quickly as possible. “No! I have no idea what you mean! So leave me alone and never ask me again. Okay, byeee!” she yelled at me, grabbed the entire punch bowl and floated away.

“Yeesh, what a weirdo…”

“She’s definitely hiding something.” Huntress Wizard said from next to me.

“H-How long have you been there, HW?”

“A while now. You’re not the only who eavesdrops on people’s conversations.” she noted, sipping her pint. “Anyway, Doctor Princess, I’ve been wondering if a cure cannot be concocted, then perhaps there is some powerful magic out there that can bring back our minty friend. I may have to go stay out in the woods for a few nights and try to meet up with the Woodland Spirit. He would know what to do…” She paused and gave me a look. “Can you not tell Finn that I’m going to go see my old mentor. He’ll get all weird and jealous about it.”

“Umm, sure.”

“Good. Okay, bye.”

With that, Huntress Wizard left as quickly as she had arrived. I could see that Kingman had spotted me across the room and was making his way towards me, so I decided this was my cue to go get another pint and go hideout in another part of the party.

While I was sipping away, I saw that the Princess had stood up and looked like she was about to give another speech. Some random person was booing her. “Where’s the lumpin' musical entertainment???” I realized the heckler was LSP and shook my head. “Speeches are soooo borrrrrinnngggg!!”

“Be quiet, Lumpy Space Princess,” PB sighed, looking irritated. She switched back into her Princess mode. “Candy Citizens, Friends of the Candy Kingdom, I have a special announcement to make! Now that we have entered into a time of peace, I wanted everyone to know that I am officially with Marceline the Vampire Queen and that she will be here at my side, ruling the Candy Kingdom!!”

There were a number of gasps around the room. I also saw Beemo begrudgingly give Jake a handful of cash. Looking around the room, I noticed people were not all that surprised and were mostly taking it well. Princess Bubblegum had been single for a long time, so I’m sure this was a big deal.

She continued on with her speech, “Yes, so all those suitors lined up outside my lab, please go home. You're wasting your time! I’m sure there’s another princess out there who would want your affections, but this one is taken!”

I then noticed that next to her, Marceline was quietly freaking out. “Peebs what are you doing??”

“I’m letting everyone know that you are going to take your place at my side.”

Marcy lowered her voice, but we all could still hear her. “I-I can’t move here. I like my spot, and I got to take care of Simon. He’s back but he has no idea how to live in Ooo. I can’t leave him all alone…”

PB pinched the bridge of her nose. “Ah, this is not exactly how I expected this to pan out…”

“Yeah, sorry Peebs. I’m not sure if this is even for me, you know... “

“No, I don’t know what you mean.” the Princess said sharply. “After all we’ve been through, after all these years,. you still don’t know if you want to be with me?”

Marcy looked side to side, feeling all eyes on her. She was sweating. She was spiraling. “Ugh, Bonnie, don’t put all this pressure on me, okay!!“ Without another word, the Vampire Queen fled, floating out of the ballroom.

The Princess’ face told a million words. Hurt. Embarrassment. Bubbling anger. It wasn’t the first time that Marceline the Vampire Queen had ditched her at a crucial moment in front of a whole bunch of people.

Lumpy Space Princess leaned in to me. “Ah here it comes. PB’s gonna snap and go psycho Carrie on everyone. Just like the last Candy Prom.”

But PB unclenched her fists and only looked down to the floor. “Everyone, sorry… I didn’t mean to put a damper on our festivities....Please, party on!!!” She pressed a button and balloons fell from the ceilings. The music started up again and people started to relax and dance.

“Borrrrinnng.” LSP groaned, “let’s go hit up the punch table again.”

We were about to turn to go, but then Breakfast Princess popped up in between us, “Wow how embarrassing! I can’t believe she still stayed with the trash bag, Marceline. I mean she’s like a delinquent train wreck, wreaking havoc wherever she goes.”

“What are you even talking about?” I said, feeling irritated myself, "Marcy's cool, and she and Bubblegum are good together...

“I mean, isn’t it obvious? Bubblegum likes bad girls with emotionally tragic pasts, so she can feel better about herself..”

LSP glared towards Breakfast Princess. “Ugh, wait, what are you doing here?! I told you, Eggbreath, we can’t be friends! You're annoying and snotty, and you had your chance!”

“Wait, Lumpy Space Princess!” Breakfast Princess cried, “We’re both gossipy and tranche tranches, and mean girls..! We’d be the most perfect frenemies!!”

“NO WAY I SAID YOU HAD YOUR CHANCE!!”

And with that, LSP angrily floated away. I let out a sigh. “Geez, what’s her problem!”

Breakfast Princess looked upset and ready to cry. “I need to win her over still. I need more allies for my kingdom. The Gum War may be over, but it doesn’t mean the war is over…” Before I could ask what she meant by this, BP turned and ran away. Instead of going after her, I went to get another drink.

The night carried on and soon it was the wee hours of the morning. Most people had gone home but a few folks were left standing, but mostly partied out.

The Princess came and sat down next to me and picked up her own mug. “Marcy’s so mad at me. I sure donked up.” she sighed, taking a big gulp. She instantly made a face. “Ugh, this is dank. Let’s get some of the fancy stuff.”

She proceeded towards the wall and hit a switch to review a full on liquor cabinet. She took a bottle of something pink and brought it over to me. I threw aside the cork and took a swig of the hard stuff and then gave it back to her. She took a few swigs and looked up at the ceiling.

“Oh man… we were supposed to live happily ever... Geez, what does that even mean?? Being happy? What that’s all about?!””

“I dunno… I don’t know anything anymore” I was still feeling quite spinny and leaned my head against her shoulder. “Hey, forget all this biz... Let’s just go live happily ever after on our own…”

“Yeah okay…” PB mumbled, nestling her face against my hair. We stayed like that for a while, as a few party stragglers walked back and Starchie continued to sweep the floor. I hadn’t seen Peps the rest of the night, and honestly I didn’t care. The Princess suddenly sat up, seemingly snapping out of her stupor. “E-Excuse me, I must have had too much sarsaparilla!”

Finn the Human stood in front of us, completely sober and looking very serious. “Hey, Peebs, I need to talk to you about something.”

“Not you too!! No more serious talk! I forbid it!”

"A-Are you okay, Princess??"

I was wiping my glasses and putting them back on, crooked. “Actually, her majesty is pretty drunk. Best to help her to bed.”

“I’m so fine!” she exclaimed, hair falling in her face as she stumbled forward. We both caught her before she hit the floor. Finn took one arm, while I took the other. “Okay, I’m not fine. Can you take me to bed?” she admitted.

Finn laughed at his friend. “Okay, Okay, tough guy.!”

While we helped the Princess walk towards the staircase to her bedchambers, I couldn’t help but think that this was probably one of the worst parties I’d been to. I thought it was strange that out of the people still sticking around was Breakfast Princess and a few of the other Gumbaldians. The last thing I saw before leaving was BP speaking with Princess Lottie, but I too was too drunk to pay attention. Later on, I would regret not sticking around to see what they were talking about. Later on, we would all regret it.

To be continued.

Chapter Text

We gathered at the renovated Candy Tavern. No longer so seedy and divey as it was before, it was under new management with Dirt Beer Guy. His ex-wife turned girlfriend Cherry Cream Soda was working the bar tonight, while Dirt Beer Guy was cooking up fries and sausages.

I ordered a big plate of fries and brought it to my friends. We were sitting around one of the bigger booths to celebrate. Nurse Pound cake invited everyone to lift up their glass. “Congrats to Doctor Princess, the new Court Physician!! Cheers!!!”

I felt my cheeks go rosy, not sure if it was the drink or all the attention. “Aw, shucks guys. Thank you! I’m honored, really!”

“Good to see you more cheered up these days, DP.” Abracadaniel said, sitting next to me. “I’m gonna miss living with you.”

I blinked my eyes, remembering that he was leaving for Wizard City at the end of the month. We didn’t know what was waiting in store for him, but recently we got word that the roads had finally cleared up and it was safe enough to travel.

Balancing a magical arrow on her finger, Huntress Wizard chimed in. “And I’m coming too. My mentor told me to go find answers in Wizard City. So don’t worry about this guy; I’ll keep an eye on him and kill anyone who attacks us!”

“Yeah, now that things have settled here, we gotta take back our city!” Abracadaniel said excitedly, “And when the war is over, please come visit. I’ll show you all around. Wizard City’s all right when there aren’t street battles happening all the time.”

I nodded. “Thanks Abracadaniel, I’m going to miss you bud”

That night was open mic, and it looked like Marceline was getting ready to play a song, setting up her keyboard and speakers. I took the opportunity to go get us another pitcher. At the bar, I bumped into Simon Petrikov. “Hi Doc!” he said, holding up his glass and cheersing with my pitcher of root beer. “Good to see you!”

“Same. How have you been? Are you sleeping more?”

“Not really… you?”

“No unfortunately. It’s so unreal that the war ended like a month ago.” I glanced over at the stage, where Marceline had started playing.

I am not the best with sitting still, I'm restless
My mind gets so hectic and down
My patience's getting tested
And still, you acted reckless
I know you were messing around

That's alright, that's okay
I never loved you anyway
It's alright
It's okay to say you never loved me anyway

Midway through the song, I noticed that I was standing strangely close to Simon Petrikov. Blushing hard, I quickly moved away. “I-I better go back to my seat. I shall see you at your appointment tomorrow.”

“Yes, see you, Doc!”

Back at the table, I looked at my friends. They didn’t seem to notice that I had been gone for a while. Like many other open mic nights at Dirt Beer Guy’s, we had a few more pitchers up until last call before finally deciding to call it a night. Going our separate ways, I started to walk home with Abracadaniel. All of a sudden, my pager went off.

“Oh no, there’s an emergency at the castle. Do you mind going back without me?”

“Sure, sure.” he uttered sleepily. “See you later, roomie...”

I decided to take a shortcut to the castle. Walking down a side street, I stopped to see two figures talking in one alley, under the moonlight. No one else was around and it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. I moved closer to see Marceline the Vampire Queen and Ash the Warlock facing each other, talking about something in a hushed voice. In the next moment, Marcy leapt forward and hugged the warlock. My mouth fell open. I wanted to scream, but no sound came out. I was in too much shock.

Ash moved away and ran off while Marceline turned and started to head towards the street. I quickly ran in front of her, blocking her path. “Marceline, w-w-w-why are you doing with that guy?!!??”

My raised voice seemed to send her into alarm and she quickly grabbed me and covered my mouth. “Shh, please keep it down. Someone will come! Look, he’s helping me, gather information to help Simon. We need to find GOLB, so we can find Betty. And then we need to figure out how we can bring her back.. It’s going to take some powerful magic to get her back.”

When I had finally calmed down, she loosened her hold and I was able to breathe and to think a little a little better. “Marceline, I don’t know that this is a good idea. Isn’t he like your ex-boyfriend and was part of that Evil Legion of Candy Kingdom haters.”

“You’re right. PB can’t ever know about this…”

“Hey, I’m no expert on people or anything, but I do know that keeping secrets from your partner is like big no-no in relationships.”

The vampire queen looked nervous by what I was saying. “I can’t tell her I’m talking with Ash. She’ll never forgive me! DP, please keep this to yourself!”

I grimaced. “O-Okay… but you need to tell her yourself. It’s the right thing to do...”

After that it became awkward. We started to walk and I noticed we were both headed towards the castle. I felt uncomfortable about what had just happened, so I decided to change the topic. “Hey good job tonight. You’ve got some fans in the crowd.”

“Yeah it’s been a while since I performed or done anything musical. There was some business dude approached me afterwards and gave me his card. He wants to sign me up for a record deal.”

“That’s cool! You gonna meet him?”

“I don’t know. There’s so much going on in the Kingdom with rebuilding and stuff.” Marcy said, looking thoughtful, “And I’ve been through that crazy rock star life… The shows and the tours, all the fans and the parties, oh and all the girls and paparazzi …! It’s kind of not really my thing anymore.” She paused to grin a big dorky grin. “Besides, there’s only one girl I’m really interested in these days...”

Before long, we reached the castle. With the exception of a few guards, it was completely empty and quiet. Marceline complained about smelling like sour dough and left to go take a shower, while Banana Guard number 57 brought me to the kitchen where the patient was. Apparently, Chet had a small accident in the kitchen trying to get a midnight ramen and ended up burning himself on the stovetop.

“Sorry Doctor, for bringing you in so late.” Princess Bubblegum said, fighting back a big yawn as she sat with me and Chet in the Kitchen and I tended to his injuries. “You’re welcome to stay at the castle if you like.”

“I appreciate it, Princess.” I replied, while applying salve to Chet’s burns, “You don’t have to stay and wait here with me. I got this. Marceline’s waiting, I’m sure.”

“Thanks. I have been up all day and could pass out any minute. Please excuse me.”

I watched her take her leave and turned to Chet. “There you go.” I said, finishing up his bandages, “Anything else I can help you with?”

“Actually Doctor.” Chet uttered, blushing a little, “Actually I’ve been having nightmares lately. And I keep waking up in the middle of the night, like something spooky is happening in my room. Would you mind checking my room for ghosts or monsters??”

“Ummm… not really my area… but yeah, I’ll take a look.”

Chet thanked me thoroughly and led me to his room. It was across the hall and I noticed it was next to Peppermint Butler’s. Chet opened the door and quickly turned on the light switch. I walked in and took a spin around. I could tell Chet was really into anime and manga, because the piles of graphic novels on the floor and the mecha robots on his desk. I bent down, peered under his bed and in his closet.

“No ghosts, no monsters… everything seems fine enough!”

“Oh thank you Doctor!” Chet said, “I’m so tired, I will try sleeping now! Good night!!”

I stepped back into the hallway and paused to stare towards Peps’ door. I wanted to knock, to see how he was doing. But I couldn’t. Honestly I was avoiding him.

That night, I fell asleep in the infirmary on one of the hospital beds. I had a rough time falling asleep, memories of the war were still coming up. A few times I woke up, just from the littlest of sounds. At some point, I thought I heard a lullaby singing me to sleep in the empty infirmary. Was it just my imagination? I started to feel heavy, and soon I was falling asleep..

In the morning, I woke up with a really bad hangover. “Doctor,” one of the Clown Nurses was at my bedside trying to wake me, “Your first patient is already here.”

“Ah cheese balls” I muttered as I rolled out of bed and grabbed my glasses from the side table. Putting on my white coat, I stopped to stare at myself in the mirror. My hair was a complete mess. “Well, they’re just gonna have to deal with this.” I sighed as I took the folder from the nurse and headed to the examination room.

“Good morning, Doctor~~” a very chipper Simon Petrikov said, sitting on the table. He was wearing an old brown suit with a raggedy sweater and old shoes. He definitely looked like an underpaid young college professor.

“Oh, it’s you again. G-Good morning!” I scrambled to check his folder. “Let’s see here, a follow up to your last check up… Still having nightmares?”

“Yes unfortunately. But it’s not as much as before. I think the therapy and exercise is helping. I tried the medicine you gave me, and it gave me some pretty weird dreams, so I stopped using it!”

“What kind of weird dreams?”

He frowned, his blue spectacles flashing. “Like I was in space, floating in some bright colored world. Like another dimension? I don’t know, it was like being on hallucinogens…”

I lifted an eyebrow. “And how do you know what it's like to be hallucinogens?” He simply chuckled. He had a cute chuckle. I continued on with the examination, this time taking a blood sample. “We just got to make sure you’re absolutely okay. I mean you’re like 1,000 years old and for some reason in tip-top shape. It doesn’t make sense.”

“That’s because he’s still affected by the Ice crown’s magic.” said a voice. We both looked up in surprise to see King Man standing in the room with us. Honestly I didn’t even notice when he came in. “You two’s faces are so cute! I need to take a photo real quick!” He pointed his phone and took a photo, blinding us with its flash.

“What do you mean?” I asked, taking off my glasses to rub my eyes.

“I’m just saying Simon here has absorbed some of the Ice magic and we can honestly assess he has magic in him still! I also wonder if this is stunting his aging process. Like when IK was reset by GOLB, he went back to the original Simon 1,000 years ago. But last time this happened, when Bella Noche striped him of his magic, he started to age rapidly and nearly croaked. At least that’s what Betty told me…”

I stared at Kingman. “Did you just say… ‘reset…’??”

“Yes, ‘reset.’ I’m thinking if we find GOLBetty, we can reset others.”

I swallowed hard. I was eager to hear more but at the same time felt very distrusting of this guy. After all, the way that the Princess seemed to view him was of discontent. It sounded like he was responsive for a lot of mischief and wronging several people in Ooo. Before I could get into it, Kingman seemed to notice my reservedness and took an interest.

“Oh Doctor Princess, please help me convince the Candy Princess to have a change of heart and consider my request and alliance. She seems to hold you in high regard which is why she appointed you as her new Court Physician. There’s nothing more trusting than the relationship between a doctor and her patient.”

“And why should I help you??”

“Because don’t you want to help Peps?”

My face blushed. “D-Don’t bring Peps into this!”

Simon Petrikov cut in, “Who’s Peps?”

Kingman patted me on the back. “Peps is Peppermint Butler, who is Doctor Princess’ boyfriend. He’s also kind of an infamously powerful dark arts wizard in magic circles!”

“Y-You know about Peps’ secret magic life?” I gasped. I was intrigued, thinking that this shady guy, Kingman, probably knew more about my boyfriend than I did.

Kingman laughed heartily. “Definitely there are those who would love to get back at Mr. PB for his terrorizing deeds in the past. He’s definitely griefed a ton of people, him and Death often working as a duo to ruin lives...!” He paused and grinned towards me. “You would love to know about it, wouldn’t you??”

I just stared at him. I was very tempted. But something still bothered me. Peps had kept me in the dark about this whole part of his life. It felt wrong to hear from someone else that wasn’t him. Before I could find the words to reply, Simon Petrikov had cut in. “Sir, I’m sorry to interrupt, but we were in the middle of my appointment. Can you wait outside and let the doctor finish up her work here before talking some more??”

“Yes of course, IK.” Kingman said, tipping his hat before taking his leave.

As soon as the door closed, I turned to Simon. “Thanks for rescuing me!”

“No problem.” He replied, “He’s a shady guy. But for some reason I still want to talk to him about how I can find Betty…”

“Yeah, what a shady guy.” I sighed.

Kingman was gone when we finished the appointment, but the seed in my head was planted. I couldn't stop thinking about what he had said throughout the day. I found myself wandering around the castle and soon I was in the Princess’ court. She was talking with Flame Princess, with her champions and Marceline at her side. They were deep in discussion.

“..When I didn’t agree to shipping them our minerals at reduced prices, she went all agro and threatened moving her troops into the Flame Kingdom! I’ve seriously never seen SP like this before!” Flame Princess was saying, “We’ve been friends for so long!”

“Hmm,” PB said, rubbing her chin, “Slime Princess has been acting very strangely since the Gum War, ever since she and Lemongrab had their first victory taking down the Gumbaldian military base.”

“Do you think her younger sister Blagatha is also influencing her?” Finn asked, “That girl was already war-hungry and now that SP is hip to war, that can be bad news.”

Jake added, “Yeah, the Slime Kingdom has been airing weird military advertising on tv. Like they’re building up their army??”

PB frowned. “Okay, that settles it. Let’s invite the Slime Kingdom for a diplomatic dinner, and have a talk around a table. We got to make sure that we defuse any more aggression. The last thing we want is another war…” She turned to Marcline. “What do you think?”

Marcy blinked her eyes. “Oh… what? Sorry, I wasn’t paying attention”

“It’s okay,” PB said, touching her girlfriend’s shoulder. “Let’s all break for lunch. Phoebe, thanks for coming.”

“Yes of course, Bubblegum. Thanks for your help on this!” Flame Princess replied, then looked around. “Hey, I’m not sure where Cinnabon Bun is.”

Finn raised his hand. “I can help look for him!!” He rushed over to FP, with Jake the Dog rolling his eyes and going to follow the two as they left the court. I started to approach the throne, feeling an urge to talk to PB about my conversation with Kingman.

“What’s going on with you?” she said, looking worried at her vampire girlfriend. “You seem distracted.”

“I got a lot on my mind…” Marceline replied, closing her eyes as the Princess gently stroked the side of her face, “Hey, Peebs, I was thinking… maybe we should help Kingman.”

“What? But why? He’s nothing but trouble…!”

“Yeah, but we need the allies. And what better ally than Mars??!! Think about it, if stuff hits the fan, Mars can send us reinforcements, weapons, and rations! I mean, food comes from Mars, a-and they have really good tech…!”

PB seemed to be taking in what she was hearing and nodded her head. “Yes, you make good points here. Sounds like you’ve done your research, Marcy. You’re doing a good job as my right hand and advisor.” she said with a smile, “But there’s something else too, huh?”

Marceline lowered her eyes, shoving her hands into the front pockets of her dark blue hoodie. “Yeah.. there is actually… I want to go. To Mars that is… “ She cleared her throat and continued. “There’s stuff I want to learn about, about GOLB and Betty, for Simon’s sake…”

The Princess was looking at her, her hand still softly resting on Marceline’s cheek. Her expression wasn’t angry or sad, but one of understanding. “I get it. Kingman knows a lot, but we must be careful with him. Who knows what he says is true. And… I don’t want anything to happen to you, okay?”

“I know. I’ll be okay, Bon. I promise.”

PB slowly smiled and nodded her head again. She then leaned in and gave the vampire queen a quick kiss. At this point, I saw little Peps enter the court, carrying a tray with what appeared to be the royal lunch - a combination of candy and red things. I decided to leave at this moment, forgetting what I had wanted to talk with the Princess about and wanting to get away.

For the next week, I tried to carry on with my work. My first month as Court Physician was almost over. At home, Abracadaniel was busy packing and getting to leave. Everything seemed to be in flux. Then Friday came. I was definitely not ready for it. When I was finishing up my shift, I saw Finn and Jake walking down the hallway.

“You sure about this, dude?” the magical dog was saying, “I mean, stuffs really intense between the Flame Kingdom and Slime Kingdom. You think it’s a good idea to become a pacifist??”

“Sure, I mean my hero Billy became a pacifist! He was right too, there must be other ways to resolve things besides fighting!”

“Didn’t Canyon dump Billy’s butt over this??” Jake said, elbowing his brother, “By the way, are you gonna tell HW?”

“Of course I’m gonna tell her! I mean, we're together! There shouldn’t be any secrets between us!”

I watched them pass by, feeling my heart sink. Peps had so many secrets that he never told me. I couldn’t help but wonder why he didn’t tell me, and now he couldn’t tell me. It was almost as if he didn’t trust me enough.

When I got back to the infirmary, one of the clown nurses had turned on the radio. I quickly recognized the song that was playing. It was Marceline on the radio!

All the feels I'm feeling were never that appealing
I was clearly dealing with doubt
So no more fake concealing
I'm ready and revealing
I hope you are hearing me loud

That's alright, that's okay
You never loved me anyway
If you go, I'm okay to stay
Cause I never loved you anyway

I sat down at my desk, sipping my coffee. The photograph of myself and Peps at Oozapalooza, which I took off the refrigerator, was sitting there on my desk. I was looking at the photo when I heard the door open and someone had entered the infirmary.

“Hi Doctor.” Marceline was standing by my desk. “I’m here to pick up PB’s medicine.”

I smiled. “Nice song, rock star. I see that you reconsidered that record deal??”

She shyly grinned and shrugged her shoulders. “Yeah, well I realized that I did miss doing music stuff. And who knows, maybe I can do a few shows in Mars!”

“How did the Princess take it?”

“She knows that I have a lot of things I still wanna do, that I’m not ready to be here full time, running the kingdom. I told her that I need a little bit more time, and when I come back from my travels, figuring stuff out with Simon on Betty, playing shows and making music, seeing places I haven’t seen…” Marceline looked excited talking about this, but her smile soon faded and she looked quite serious. “And when I do come back I’d want to talk about the next step in our relationship.”

I didn’t know what to say. I just stood there staring. There was so much going on in my head but I couldn’t find the words or make sense of it. I just slowly put the bottle of medicine in her hand. “Well, thank you for sharing this with me, Marcy. Please take care on your travels and come back to us, okay?”

“Of course. Thank you, DP. I’ll miss you.”

My mind kept wandering the rest of the day. Next thing I knew it, I was helping Abracadaniel with the last of his stuff, carrying it out to the street where a taxi was going to come take him and Huntress Wizard to the train station. HW had packed pretty lightly, only bringing two sacks, one of which had something bloody inside. Finn and Jake had also come to see the two off.

“I’ll miss you guys.” Finn said, hugging both of them, with Jakes stretching his arms around all of them.

“I’ll miss you all too!” Abracadaniel said, fighting back tears, “I hope we can meet again soon! I mean who knows what’ll happen to us in Wizard City!”

HW noted deadpanly. “Yeah, we could die or we could be victorious. It’ll be a real adventure.”

I stepped forward. “Wait, you guys, take me with you!”

They all looked at me in surprise. “I don’t know if that’s a good idea, Doctor.” Jake uttered, “Wizard City’s kind of a dangerous place right now…”

I blushed and felt embarrassed, but I had made up my mind. “I know I don’t have powerful magics, but I have medical skills. What if you get mortally injured! I can help with that!!” I exclaimed. They didn’t look convinced so I quickly added. “And I got a van. I can drive us there.”

The two wizards glanced at the other. “All right. You can come with us.” Huntress Wizard said and then quickly added, “But don’t slow us down, okay!”

“O-Okay!”

HW then turned to Finn. “Oh yeah, since we’re all being spontaneous, we should break up.”

“What?!” Finn exclaimed, “Whyyyyy?!?”

“Because you’re going soft on me. A pacifist, please! I’m Huntress Wizard. I kill things 50% of the time!!”

While Finn and HW broke into an argument, I looked at Abracadaniel who was ecstatic. “Woohoo! It’s decided then - Doctor Princess is coming with us and we don’t have to cross the badlands on foot! Let’s get you a nice Wizard disguise!”

So it was decided. I had to pack quickly because we wanted to leave before it got dark. As I filled up my backpack, I remembered that I should probably let the Princess know that I was going to take time off. I quickly gave her a call on my phone.

“Princess, this may sound reckless, but I’m heading to Wizard City with HW and Abracadaniel. I don’t know but there are things I need to do and things I want to learn about… ”

There was a pause on the phone. “Yes, I understand. I hope you find what you’re looking for.”

“Thank you for understanding, milady! You’re the best!” I cried. I quickly added, “C-Could you let Peps know that I’m leaving, but I’ll be back… Not that he’d care that I was gone…”

“I’m sure he’ll notice.” PB replied, “I will let him know. Anyway, be safe, Doctor Princess.”

I thanked her over and over again, before hanging up and finishing up my packing. Once everything was packed up in my blue minivan, I started up the engine and started driving out of town. Huntress Wizard was in the backseat, while Abracadanial was sitting up in the front seat next to me. “Hey DP, remember our last road trip we had?”

“Yeah…” I uttered, smiling a little as I remembered that long drive from Wizard City. Playing Lonely Bones in the tape deck while the others slept in the back seat. Peps and I  quietly glancing at each other in the front, him muttering an apology in his sleep. It felt like ages ago.

I turned on the radio. Marceline’s song was playing again:

It was a shot in the dark
It was a plot that fell apart
It absolutely, truly's really not a broken heart

It's alright, it's okay
I know that there will come a day when I'm alright
I’m okay to say (I’m okay, I’m okay)
I never loved you anyway

All of a sudden the glove compartment opened and Peps fell out. His presence surprised me so much I took my eyes off the road and we swerved and crashed into a candy lamppost. “Is everyone okay!?!?” Abracadaniel asked, looking back and forth.

“Just a little whiplashed.” HW sighed from the back. “You guys good?”

My eyes just met with Peps. He was staring at me very intently but I couldn’t understand what he was trying to convey. He then reached over and put his hand on mine. I guess we had another person coming with us to Wizard City.

 

To be Continued.

Chapter Text

This wasn't the kind of Road Trip I was expecting. The drive was wrought with awkwardness and heavy feelings, as Peps and I sat up front. Despite the eventful morning, we didn’t speak a word to one another. It wasn’t that I was mad at him. Okay, maybe just a little bit mad. It seemed like there was so much he had hid from me and now that I knew that he had this whole other life, I couldn’t ask him about it. Also, why was he here? I had wanted to go on this trip to get away from the anxiety and stress that our situation was causing me. I wanted answers and I couldn’t get any. I wanted distance, and here he was back at my side for some reason.

“Hehehe, you’re such a dork,” Huntress Wizard’s laugh cut into my thoughts. I glanced up at the rear view mirror. Abracadaniel was trying to show off some of his magic tricks in an attempt to flirt (I guess), and HW was kind of into it.

“Check this out!!”

“Dude, that’s so…!”

Those two giggling in the back and Peps quietly watching me sent me into a fluster. Soon I didn’t really know what or where I was. "Will you two help me with directions??!" I called from the front seat. HW and Abracadaniel sat up straight and looked back at me.

Abracadaniel seemed a little embarrassed. "S-Sorry, DP. Are we lost? I can cast an enchantment spell for all the cacti to point in the direction we need to go.”

“Or we can use my enchanted twig compass.” HW said taking it out of her bag. It was then that a herde of oozers led by Oozer James was coming straight out at us. “Incoming!!” HW leapt out of the window and started shooting some arrows at them. Abracadaniel also popped out the other window throwing a number of spells their way.

I tried to keep calm at the wheel and not crash the car again. While HW and Abaracadaneil fought off the oozers, I noticed that Peps just sat there.

“Phew, we killed them!” Abracadaniel sighed in a relief as he and HW came running back to the car. HW paused to wipe some oozer blood off his face. “Ah, thanks!” he said blushing.

By now I was feeling very grumpy. When I had a chance, I nudged HW and said in a half-whisper. “Psst, H-Dub what are you doing? Didn’t you just break up with Finn like a few hours ago??”

She shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know what you are talking about. I’m just having fun. Isn’t that the point of this road trip. Like, are you having any fun, DP? Hm??”

“No, I’m not having any fun…!” I blurted out. But then I saw Peps over by the car, waving something. “Oh. A Map!”

Hw chuckled. “Guess we aren’t lost anymore.”

“Let’s just go already before more oozers show up.” I muttered.

We piled back into the car and drove through the night and arrived in Wizard City the next morning. At least what was left of the city. The whole downtown area was in ruins and there were a bunch of warring magic factions duking it out in the streets. “It’s so not safe out here.” Abracadaniel said as we hid my mini van in an alleyway with a cloaking spell, “Let’s go hide out in our old apartment for now.”

The old apartment was as I remembered it. Peps was trying to grow a moustache back during that time he was exiled from the Candy Kingdom. I peered into his old room to see that it was now an empty room covered with dust. I paused to smell gamey meat coming from the living room. “Hungry? I’m cooking up some of my catches that I brought along.” HW said, offering me a plate, “This culinary masterpiece is called Racoon stew.”

“Thanks. So what are we going to do now…?” I asked, blowing onto my stew to cool it off.

Abracadaniel slammed his fists on the table excitedly, "I know! Let's get a hold of Ron James. He's always in the know of everything! Ah… but the problem was that no one knew where Ron James was. His magic potions shop had been blown up a few months ago and he’d disappeared without a trace. Some have said that he had blown it up on purpose to collect insurance money.”

“I’m going to ask Forest Spirit.” HW said, getting up from the kitchen table and moving towards the window, starting pull away at the boards to let the sunlight into the room.

“Who is the Forest Spirit?” I whispered over to Abracadaniel.

“I think it’s her ex-boyfriend.” he whispered back.

HW cleared her throat before linking her hands together and chanting in a language I hadn’t heard before. The pollen dust particles floating started to glow and shimmer in bright colors. Eventually the glowing pollen started to clump together until a round wizard with a cool hairdo appeared in the kitchen. “You called for me, Huntress Wizard.” he asked.

“Yeah, what can you tell us about Ron James? Where is he hiding?”

As the two talked in the kitchen, I turned towards Peps. He seemed to just be staring at me, with no real strong expression. For some reason his intense gaze made me feel unsettled. Abracadaniel wasn’t really paying attention and helping himself to Raccoon stew. Thankfully HW and Forest Spirit were finishing up their conversation and this awkward moment passed. “...well good luck HW. Maybe we’ll run into each other again. Take care.”

“Bye,” she said quietly as he vanished with a whoosh of leaves. She remained standing by the window, gazing outside looking like she needed a moment. After some time passed, she slowly turned towards us. “I got Ron James’ coordinations. He’s hiding in the old wand factory. Let’s hit it… I mean, after we finish our stew.”

The Raccoon stew was surprisingly good and after our bellies were full, we made our way to the industrial part of Wizard City. The old wand factory was abandoned but we were able to find an opening to break in. As we got inside, we felt the warmth of a fire and noticed that there were some lights on. Sure enough, Ron James was there and not so pleased to see us.

“Yo, what’s the deal! This is my hideout!”

I stepped forward, “We just want to know some information, like why is everyone in Wizard City fighting each other?”

“What?? Didn’t you hear?? Ever since Peppermint Butler disappeared and stopped being the key holder of the Shadow Realm, it’s thrown the Wizarding world into chaos!”

“No, I didn’t hear! What the heck is the Shadow Realm!?”

“Word on the Wizard beat is that Peppermint Butler defeated the devil Ogdoad basically with his bare minty hands and stole all his magics and that put him in charge of the keys to the Shadow Realm where the souls of the most vicious creatures reside …” Ron James paused when he noticed Peps standing next to me. “Yo, Peppermint Butler! What’s going on, my man??”

Of course, Peps didn’t reply. Yet I was strangely glad he was by my side. I definitely felt out of place in Wizard City, like at any moment something or someone was going to leap out and attack--

And before I could finish that thought, the entire wall of the factory got blasted open by some powerful magics. HW and Abracadaniel readied themselves for battle, steadying their arrows and wand towards the cloud of smoke. Peps stood in front of me, also bracing himself for the incoming onslaught of attacks. I couldn’t help but wonder, if the reason he had come along this trip was for me or for something far more sinister.

Chapter Text

As soon as the dust cleared, we saw who was behind the explosion. It was Death! Peps' BFF from the underworld. The one with the morbid job of ushering the deceased to one of the many Death Worlds. He seemed to recognize me right away and waved at me. "Sup Doctor. Long time no see."

"Oh hi Death…”

Abracadaniel was in a state of shock. “Umm!!! Did you just kill my buddy Ron James?!!"

Death frowned. "Um yeah. He's been way expired for a few weeks now, and been hiding out here. Thanks for distracting him long enough so I can get this job done. Now if you excuse me..." Before he could retrieve Ron James’ soul, Death stopped to see Peps standing next to me. His face said it all. "W-What? Peppermint Butler! What happened??!”

Abracadaniel was too busy sobbing and hovering over his fallen friend to answer. So Huntress Wizard explained, “PB’s got inflicted by DumDum Juice, which was made by the Gumbaldians.”

“You've been Dum-Dummed??? By rain and fire, the Gumbaldians will pay dearly for this!!”

HW waved her hands, “Whoa whoa, relax. It’s a time of peace right now in Ooo and the Gum Princess is working on a cure. We’ll get him back to normal in no time.”

Death wasn’t quite convinced. “The truth is I broke up with Life and moved out of the house. And I've been wandering all over, looking for you, Peppermint Butler!! And now that I’ve finally found you, you’ve been cursed! I can’t even tell you…" Death didn’t finish his sentence as he grabbed Peps by the shoulders, “My dear friend, I vow I will avenge you! Wait for me!!”

Upon releasing him, Death stormed out of the factory in a hurry. He had been distracted long enough for HW to recapture Ron James’ soul and put it back into his body. “Oh thank glob,” he sighed, “I totally thought I’d bit the dust back there. We better leave in cause that maniac comes back to finish the job.”

“Come stay with us!” Abracadanial cried, definitely happy that his friend was alive.

Huntress Wizard came over to me. “Doctor, what's the matter? You seem a little pale."

I felt my face blush. "No it's just... I can't help but wonder if there is more than meets the eye with Death and Peps' relationship."

"True, closeness comes in different forms."

“Hey there’s something I never figured out,” Ron James said as we left the factory, “PB, my man, you had all that power and the keys to the place, so why didn't you just go and rule the Shadow Realm??”

Of course Peps didn't speak and went ahead of us. But I was sure I knew the answer; Peps was so loyal to the Princess of the Candy Kingdom that he couldn't stand to be away from her. He'd said so himself numerous occassions. Still it bothered me. I had no idea that he had such power. What could he and Death been up to all this time with their little missions, and was he aware of Wizard City falling into chaos? Maybe this was his plan all along?

Back at the apartment, Abracadaniel made a fire, while Ron James got cozy on the sofa. “Let’s go see the Grand Wizard tomorrow.” Ron James suggested, “I’m sure he’d love to see you all, and perhaps I can sell some of my magic products to him. Heh!”

Abracadaniel threw his arms around Ron James’ neck. “I'm just so happy you aren’t dead!!”

“Ugh! Get off!! We’re not in the clear yet! We literally can get blown up any day now by rogue wizards!”

While the boys caught up, HW literally went to sleep by turning into a log. I went over to Peps and handed him a blanket. “What a long, weird day, huh.” I said sitting next to him. I wish we could talk. I wish he could explain things to me, so that I wasn’t feeling all insecure and upset over his secret occult life. The words kind of flew out of my mouth before I could stop it. “Peps, maybe we should break up,” He just stared blankly back at me, not saying a word. For some reason, this just set me off. “Look, I don’t know what’s going with you and Death.. Or the Shadow Realm, or even Princess Bubblegum... but I’m realizing that I don’t know you at all! So, you don’t need to be hanging around me all the time. It’s over.”

He nodded his head slowly and got up, walking into his old room and slamming the door shut. I immediately felt pangs of regret, but I couldn’t find it in myself to go after him or take back anything I had said. And in the morning, he was gone. He had left without telling anyone.

I didn’t know how I felt. My head was all a mess when we departed our hideout to go see the Grand Wizard about what we can do about the Endless Wizard Battle. Both Abracadaniel and Huntress Wizard were a little nervous of meeting the GW, and nominated me as the spokesperson. As a non-magic user I was afraid he might not want to listen to me, but the GW saw me and smiled warmly.

“Good to finally meet you, Doctor.”

“Oh… likewise…” I uttered, shaking his rather large hand and feeling very surprised. “You know who I am?”

“Peppermint Butler often talked about you and those he swore to protect. He was the most powerful dark arts wizard I’d known, bloodthirsty, ruthless... he could have easily ruled the Shadow realm, but there were people he felt strong loyalty towards, and couldn’t bear to leave. You were a big reason he stayed.”

My heart sank when I heard this. I had been so cruel and ungrateful to him the night before. While I was trying to keep it together, Huntres Wizard mustered up some words to share with the GW. "Sir, is there anything we can do to stop this Endless Wizarding Battle??”

“As long as there is no successor, these battles will continue,” he sighed, while watering her perennials in his super secure Wizard Capitol compound. “And then there are all these fools trying to take advantage of the situation and make money or launch a coup d’etat.”

“Who’s tryna make money!” Abracadaniel exclaimed, drawing attention to Ron James. The merchant wizard looked all embarrassed and hid his potions stash in his cloak.

“Maybe there is something…” the GW said thoughtfully , “If you track down the Ice King? He’s pretty powerful, I think he could freeze over the biggest triad of Wizards who are trying to overthrow me.”

I replied, “I’m sorry, but the IK is Simon Petrikov now, and he's currently on a quest with Marceline the Vampire Queen to bring back Betty."

GW looked displeased. “Magic Betty? Oh she’s bad news. After being corrupted by Magic Man, I wouldn’t put it past her that all this chaos in Wizard City is a knee jerk reaction from those two’s mischief!” He paused for a moment. "Perhaps another way is possible... There is a magical baton in the dark cave of Hermopolis. The holder would have immense power, dark shadow power, that which could rival even Peppermint Butler’s or even Ogdoad himself!”

Abracadaniel stepped forward, “I will do it, Grand Wizard, I’ll journey into the dark cave of Hermopolis to get the magic baton!”

Huntress Wizard patted him on the shoulder. “Good idea, man. I’ll pack us some sandwiches for the road! Do you like koala?”

“No, sorry, Hdub, I have to do it alone. To become the successor of Ogdoad and hold the keys to the shadow world, so I can save the Wizard World from self-destruction!”

HW shrugged. “Fine. But if you’re not back in 36 hours, we’re coming to retrieve your bruised up bod from the cave. You got that?”

The Grand Wizard dropped an old wooden magical staff that had seen better days. “Abracadaniel, you are brave, and foolish! Anyway good luck!” We watched as he took his leave, turning hard to hide his nervousness. The GW then turned to the rest of us. “Is there anything else you’d like to talk with me about?”

“I have something,” I said, feeling a little hesitant, “Is there anything we can do to bring back Peppermint Butler?”

“Sure there is,” he replied, “But how badly do you want him back and are you willing to pay the price??”

The Grand Wizard’s question had me stuck. I didn’t know how to answer. We’d just broken up and now he was nowhere to be seen. And it was all my fault. Ron James didn’t seem to be bothered by all the seriousness and offered a pair of enchanted cufflinks to the guards. “Come on, they’re a pair! I’ll give you a discount, Two for one!”

Huntress Wizard touched my shoulder, “Come on, let’s get some fresh air.” We decided to go walking in the middle complex where there was an artrium with an open air skylight. We decided to hang out there and wait for Abracadaniel to return from his quest. “Doctor,” HW said after a long period of silence, “How are you feeling… about Peps leaving and all.”

“I don’t know ...I guess Im still processing. I mean, it’s my fault obviously that he’s gone. I’m the one who broke up with him. I mean how I can be with someone who’s got all these secrets and weird relationships with other people that I don’t totally understand, and who’s literally a baby version of himself?! I just don’t know how we can work, you know!”

She looked me in the eye, “Do you still care about him?”

This question caused me to think. It took me a moment to find the words, but I finally answered. “Of course I do.”

“Even if you aren't together anymore, the feelings are still there. DP, I hope that you and Peps get to talk at some point. Maybe the relationship changes into something new.”

I slowly nodded. HW was right. I didn’t know what the future held for us, but I knew we were still connected to each other in some way. I was looking forward for the day that the two of us could talk with one another. If only that day would come soon.

All of a sudden we received a transmission. “Guys, it’s Bubblegum. Do you copy??”

“Yes, Princess,” I said, into the hologram projection that popped up in the middle of the room, “What’s happening?”

“Your cell phone service is being bogged down by a bunch of barrier spells, so I had to override the security system to send you this transmission. Please send my apologies to the Grand Wizard for hacking his system. Anywhoo, I wanted to call for help. Death just showed up in Gumbaldia, roughing up everyone. Saying it’s for revenge. Do you know anything about this?”

HW noted, “We told him that it was the Gumbaldians that turned Peps into a mint baby . He was pretty ticked off.”

“Oh man this is not good. It was my Uncle Gumbald that made the DumDum juice and we still haven’t found a cure. Can you come and help me try to reason with Death to stop all this vengeance?”

I sighed, “The only person who can really convince Death is Peps, but we don’t know where he is.

HW cut in, “I guess since it’s our fault, we don’t really have a choice but to go and stop the Gumbaldians from getting killed.”

So we decided to go back to the Grand Wizard and let him know about our departure plans. We were surprised that Abracadaniel had already returned with the magical baton. “I did it! I am Peppermint Butler’s successor!” he cried triumphantly, “Check it out, I’m a powerful wizard!!”

Ron James frowned. “Aww man. I guess these special edition merch can’t be sold.” he sighed, folding up his RIP Abracadaniel shirts.

I turned towards my friends. “Come on, let’s head out while there’s some daylight.” I fished the car keys out of my bag, and started to head for the exit.

Abracadaniel stepped forward. “Actually, I’m going to stay behind and help protect the capitol from all the magic mafias. It’s the least I can do for my hometown and it looks like the Grand Wizard is going to need every decent wizard to fight.”

“Oh,” HW said, turning around to face him, “Well, I guess this is it then.”

“Yeah, I guess we need to part and stuff.” he replied shyly scratching his head, “Ummm, Huntress Wizard, before you go, there’s something I want to do...” He then closed his eyes and leaned forward, his lips reaching for hers.

She showed little reaction, but held up her hand to block the kiss. “Sorry. My breakup with Finn is still very fresh. Maybe we should stay friends.” she stated with a slight frown.

He nodded. “It’s a bummer, but yeah I understand.”

And with that, Huntress Wizard and I left Wizard City. Without Peps. Without a clue how to stop Death.