It’s late, or maybe early—Bonnie’s never been sure when late night turns into early morning, and Marceline doesn’t seem to care—but they’ve been up all night, in any case. Marceline is sprawled on the bed with Bonnie’s legs draped over her stomach, and she’s playing an imaginary bass solo on one such leg, because, glob, that princess can talk, and talk, and talk, and—
“…and I get it, you want to take it slow. It’s not a big deal, really. So the big bad demon is afraid of commitment. That’s cute. A little cliché, to be honest, but I can deal with that, so—“
“Is that what you think?”
Bonnie’s head snaps up, eyes wide at the unexpected ice in Marceline’s voice. The fingers on her leg have frozen in what was supposed to be a silent chord but suddenly feels more like a vice, and there’s red flickering at the edges of Marceline’s eyes that makes Bonnie’s tongue stick in her throat. Marceline doesn’t wait long for an answer. She drifts up off the bed, out from under Bonnie’s legs, and twists in the air to turn her back on the princess.
“That’s what you think? That I’m afraid of commitment? I think you’re forgetting who I am. You think you’re my first? I’m a thousand years old, babe. Been doing this for a while, and let me tell you“—she whirls around and holds her face inches from Bonnie’s—“you’re nothing special. Don’t get me wrong. I like you. I like you a lot. I might even fucking love you, but I’ve loved before and that didn’t change anything.”
Bonnie’s tongue is still being uncooperative, but as the vampire stares her down, she manages a cautious, “Change what, Marcy?”
Marceline pulls away and closes her eyes, nostrils flaring as she sucks in an unnecessary breath. She holds it for one, two, three seconds, and then, “It ends. We fight one too many times, you fall for someone with fewer fangs, or you wake up and realize you’re sleeping with an honest-to-Glob nightmare creature. Maybe you even die. Whatever it is, it doesn’t matter. Eventually, we won’t be us anymore, and that sucks. Because then?” She turns away again and Bonnie thinks, just maybe, she detects a waver in the vampire’s voice, “Then I’ll have to remember your stupid face for the next six hundred years every time I want a fucking strawberry. I’d rather not be saddled with that forever.”
Curse her incessant need to be right. Curse it straight down to the Nightosphere, but she has to say it, has to say, “So, you’re afraid of commitment.”
For a second she thinks Marceline is going to go into one of her rages. Her hair undulates in agitation and the bones in her knuckles have started to stick out in alarming relief. Then she stills. Crumples into herself. Drifts back down to the bed.
“Yeah. Guess so.”
Her face is just so honestly sad that Bonnie loses any desire she may have had to quibble about semantics. Instead, she crawls over and stretches out a tentative hand to touch Marceline’s shoulder.
“Hey, hey, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you feel bad about it. We’ll take it slow. And I promise I don’t want fewer fangs.”
It takes a second, but Marceline looks up and grins wide, showing off a mouthful of the fangs in question. “Are you sure?”
She’s tucked up under Marceline’s chin and it’s later still, but neither of them is really asleep, not yet, so Bonnie runs a finger down into the hollow of Marceline’s neck and says, quiet as she can, “Marcy? Can I ask you something?”
Maybe Marceline was more asleep than she thought, because her “Mmm?” is a little slow in coming, but Bonnie really does want to know, so she asks anyways.
“Earlier, you said you might love me. Did you mean it?”
Suddenly Marceline is awake—definitely awake, because Bonnie can feel her whole body tense up underneath her. “I was ranting. I was worked up. You know how I get sometimes,” she finally says, as her fingers tap out a restless staccato rhythm on Bonnie’s spine.
“You still said it.”
“I just…don’t read too much into it, okay?”
There’s a defensive edge to Marceline’s voice, but something else too, Bonnie thinks, and maybe it’s hope.
“I will read into it, thank you. I think you meant it. I think you love me.”
“Yeah, well, so?”
That defensive edge is now a full-fledged blade, so Bonnie sits up and looks Marceline in the eyes to say, as casually as she can, “That means I can say I love you too.”
Marceline starts to grumble, something like “So much for taking it slow,” but then Bonnie is kissing her, and, really, that’s all that matters.