The night wore a velvet dress of darkness and ebony, suffocating the dank, dingy alleyway of the city in a thick layer of humidity. Yet, the city seemed to be filled with a light grey undertone under the bright moonlight, allowing for clear sight with the assistance of broken, inconsistent street lamps. Marshall trod down the dirt ridden streets, kicking up small rocks under his combat boots as he made his way down to his weekly hangout spot just beyond the northern outskirts of the city of thieves. His hands shoved deep into the pockets of his black coat, he dug out a packet of cigarettes and placed a joint between his lips. He sighed, approaching a Tan young man swathed in robes of maroon and pale yellow, fiddling with his phone against a dark brick wall.
“Got a light for me, hot stuff?”
Marshall muttered, voice tame and rusty, red eyes still downcast beneath his fringe of dark locks. He watched as the youthful redhead peered up from his device, mouth slightly agape in shock before curving into a small smile.
“Yeah, just Marshall Lee will do Kiddo, I ain't that old yet..”
Marshall chuckled gently, tilting his Chin forward as the younger man kindled a small flame on his fingertips, lighting his senior’s Joint. Marshall inhaled deeply, tasting the nicotine on his tongue briefly before letting out a cloud of smog. The redhead coughed briefly in response, drawing out a menacholic smile from Marshall
“You still the Flame prince, Atlas?”
“Just as much as you're still a vampire”
A small space of comfortable silence. It's been 8 years since Marshall last set foot in Aaa.
“...Fire Kingdom doing okay?”
“Ish. We really had to start from scratch after well, everything went down I Guess. Thank glob we are basically lava and for the Humanizing Serum from Prince Gumball. Bless his -- soul...”
Marshall’s left ear twitched at the mention of the Candy prince, the cigarette not leaving his lips as he yet again drew a shaky breath. Atlas noticed his change in demeanour and decided to hold his tongue, clearing his throat as he realised he had unintentionally hit a nerve that should have gone numb with time. Marshall flung his smoke onto the ground, watching as it coughed out a splutter of ash. 8 years later and the wound was still fresh.
“How about the Other Kingdoms? They doing alright without, well…. um”
Marshall started as calmly as he could, walking yet again, watching his feet as he heard the flame prince tag along behind him. His head was a mess with all the memories he wish he didn't remember.
“Yup. Slime kingdom was fine the last time I checked, the ice kingdom is still cold as fuck, the breakfast kingdom was trashed and the entire west of Ooo is basically a dump site….”
“The… Candy kingdom?”
Marshall proffered, noticing how Atlas had ungracefully avoided mentioning the state of the area
“Oh uh..um.. like I said. The humanizing serum was all that we really had to build up Aaa again so.. it's basically populated with mostly Humanoid candy people as of now.”
“Huh. That's pretty weird. Rad”
Just like Bubba was
Was what Marshall meant to say, but the name was caught like bile in his throat. He turned a corner, the flame prince following suit as they reached a musky, wooden building, dripping with moss and algae.
“Wow. Looks like they didn't bother to redecorate.”
“Yeah. Fiona said she liked it just the way it was. I'm proud of my baby girl. She really brought the business in”
Atlas chuckled, smiling as Marshall swallowed hard. 8 years. 8 years since he last saw everyone.
Since he saw his own Sister Marceline and Simone and Fiona. Since the 4th Great War. Since Bubba-
The doors swung open, and Marshall was greeted by the sound of Familiar jazz and dark, polished wood floors. Patreons littered the area, unfamiliar faces and nonchalant stares. Marshall Gulpped, popping the collar of his flannel two buttons down as he sauntered into the bar area, settling himself down onto the stool. It was strange, seeing some once elemental creatures now in their human forms, their previous selves only vaguely identifiable with specific nuances of their signature characteristics. They were all around him, some still candy people or slime blobs or even animals, but mostly human like. The Great War DID wipe out 80% of Aaa’s original population after all. He sighed, well knowing how much he needed a drink as his brain processed this.
Came a high pitched squeak from the corner of the bar, and the Vampire smiled as a bright eyed, bushy tailed Blonde greeted him with almost teary eyes.
Marshall felt his lungs constrict as the girl literally launched herself over the bar counter to hug him, burying her face in his neck and leaving him with a mouthful of her blonde luscious locks
“Where have you been dude?? Oh my glob i have so much to tell you about!!”
She hopped foot to foot excitedly as she gave Marshall’s arm another squeeze, looking to Atlas excitedly as the redhead smiled and took a seat next to the both of them. Marshall smiled tiredly, but was geniuely happy to see his old buddy again, but looked to Atlas for some help.
“Maybe next time babycakes, Marshall looks pretty worn out…”
“Awww come on Atlas~ Marshall!! You'll tell me won't you? Where have ya been? We all thought you died, you butt…”
She said with a laugh, but a slight hint of sadness in her voice. The same old Fiona, a strong and happy front even in the face of tragedy.
“We missed you.”
Time had clearly made fine work out of her; she had a sporty, yet curvy build, gentle sloping hips and a chest that would make any other woman jealous. Her eyes were the same dark, curious blue, golden locks now out of her rabbit hat and cascading down her shoulders and back.
“Heh… I missed you too Fiona. But… this is still a lot going on that I need to process… maybe next time when this has all sunk in...”
Marshall mumbled sheepishly, patting the gentle arm that rested on his own as he smiled to Fiona, earning himself a hard slap across the face.
“Yeah. I deserved that.”
The vampire winced, groaning softly.
Atlas sighed as Fiona scowled and took a deep breath, looking Marshall directly in The Eye.
“Darn straight you did… you left us to worry Marshall… all of us.”
She stormed off into the back room and Atlas pat him gently on the shoulder as a bleak sign of comfort. Fiona had every right to be angry after all.
“I'll get you a drink…Bloody Mary?”
“Sounds good man. And actually…a glass of cranberry vodka doesn't sound too bad either ”
Marshall sighed, placing a hand on the burning print on his grey-blue skin. He felt alive. Around him, it seemed the world had moved on and along, as if Marshall Lee Abadeer didn't matter, whether he existed or not. There were a few curious stares here and there, some kindles of recognition, but hardly anyone else seemed to want to strike up a conversation. And somehow, Marshall was relieved of that. He watched Flame prince shake up his cocktails for a while, before feeling a pair of eyes on him. He tilted his head to the right, and spotted a man, maybe just around his physical age take a seat at the end of the bar. 23...24 maybe. Gentle violet eyes and a head of soft pink hair, skin pale and white and sickly, looking him over before quickly glancing down at his lap.
It couldn't be.
“Here are your drinks--”
Marshall spun back around, jolted from his thoughts as Atlas slammed his Two drinks onto the counter and smiled warmly. The redhead blinked as he briefly glanced over to what Marshall was staring at, spotting the Man dressed in a Pale pink cardigan and beige slacks.
“Oh… yeah that guy has been a regular For a while now..”
“No one knows actually, he rarely talks. Just… Drinks. Usually a strawberry margarita…”
Marshall ran a hand through his dark hair, chewing on his lower lip intensively as a million questions buzzed through his mind. Frustration and doubt ate at him. It couldn't be. It wasn't, was it? There was no way in heck that was Bubba Gumball.
The candy prince was 6 feet under.
Atlas noticed his discomfort and gently rested a hand on Marshall’s arm, realising that the latter was trembling. He spoke carefully, phrasing his soft words with a sharp tone.
“Marshall… that ain't Bubba. I've said before that Candy humans are all over the place now and… well, You well know that the Candy prince is in a better place right now…”
“Ye-yeah… Sorry I just…”
Marshall started slowly before sucking in a deep breath and relaxing his shoulders. He went silent and drank the shades of red from his Bloody Mary till it was half gone, all in one go before wiping his lips with the back of his hand.
“Get me a strawberry margarita.”
He choked out, pinching the nose bridge between his eyes.
“Marshall, I don't think that's a good idea…”
“Not for me. For him.”
Atlas wiped down a glass and set it on the bar top, glancing at the pink gentleman at the end of the bar yet again before looking back to Marshall. This didn't bode well with him in the least either. But before Atlas could even protest, Marshall had scribbled down his phone number on a napkin and handed it to him.
Marshall smiled half heartedly as The flame prince then prepared the sweet cocktail and dropped a fresh Strawberry into the drink. The younger man could only nod in acknowledgement, heading over to the candy person and setting the drink down. Marshall did his best not to stare in that general direction as the patron was startled and insisted he didn't order this. The way he moved his arms as he spoke seemed almost animated. The Flame prince quietly chuckled and pointed at the vampire, signalling his time to act. Marshall took a last swig of the shades of his drink before smirking confidently at the young man at the end of the table, meeting his violet eyes, mesmerised by the sight of the younger Candy person as a blush crossed the pink male’s pale cheeks. He lifted his glass of now grey alcohol and chuckled as the other man flushed a deep hue of pink.
The gaze was torn as quick as their eyes met, and Marshall heaved a soft sigh of relief as the candy man graciously accepted the drink and wrapped his thin fingers around the neck of the glass, tentatively taking a sip, eyes still downcast.
Atlas returned quietly to his Bartenders duties after that, and Marshall started on the shades of red of his cranberry Vodka. It wasn't Long before he felt the burn of alcohol in his empty stomach and he groaned softly, stealing a glance yet again to the candy man, only to find the rightmost barstool empty. There was a piece of paper beneath the glass along with a half eaten chunk of that strawberry in the drink. Floating over, Marshall struggled to read the incomprehensible cursive, only partially due to the alcohol in his system.
Marshall chuckled breathlessly, only partially amused, but he wasn't sure if it was because if he didn't laugh he would cry. Cute. But oh, such effort.