If you haven’t noticed, we’ve been making an effort recently to spotlight femslash fanfics. It’s a tricky business, if only because we have tremendous difficulty finding good fics of the quantity and quality that exists in m/m slash fics. As just one example, Archive of Our Own has over 7.5k fics in the Tony Stark/Steve Rogers section, the most popular of which has over 230,000 hits. If you look at the same stats for the Carol Danvers/Jessica Drew ship, a pairing with a similar dynamic (military blonde Avenger and snarky brunette Avenger with a troubled past), there are only 83 fanfics, with the most popular receiving just under 30k hits. It’s a damn shame and so we’ve set out to bring attention to the notable lady-lovin’ fanfics we’ve found.
This week’s is an Adventure Time story, entitled There’s No Spark On A Dampened Floor, by shoutoutout. It’s set after the season six episode “Sky Witch”, in which the Princess Bubblegum/Marceline relationship was so clearly romantic that it could barely be called subtext, and I was delighted to find a followup to the story.
Spoilers for “Sky Witch” ahead.
It’s no secret to veteran fans of Adventure Time that the creators of the show have wanted for years to make the Bubbline ship canonical, but have been restrained from doing so by Cartoon Network execs. They seem to have made it their mission since being told off by their bosses to air as many subtextual references to the romantic nature of the two girls’ relationship as possible.
And as I said, “Sky Witch” was one of the most shippy episodes of TV I’ve ever watched. It featured Bubblegum and Marceline teaming up to rescue Marceline’s beloved stuffed bear Hambo from Maja the Sky Witch, who collects items based on how loved they are and feeds off the sentimental psychic energy. In the end, Peebles is unable to best Maja in battle, so Peebs opts for a different approach. She offers to trade Maja her beloved band t-shirt, given to her by Marceline years earlier, for Hambo. Maja tells her that the sentimental energy on Hambo is chump change compared to how much Bubblegum cared for the t-shirt, and happily gives back the bear. Bubblegum presents Marceline with her prize without telling her what she had to give up to get it, and they head home.
This fanfic picks up directly after the episode, when Bubblegum arrives back in the Candy Kingdom after their adventure. PB is exhausted emotionally and physically, but she keeps avoiding sleep. She immerses herself in a self-destructive cycle of science experiments and royal duties as a way to avoid sleeping in something besides her favorite shirt, until Marceline is forced to stage an intervention.
One of my biggest pet peeves, regardless of fandom, is stories whose style and tone do not fit with the style and tone of the source material. I can accept any number of liberties taken with a universe if the characters remain in character and the narration fits with the setting. This stands true whether I’m reading Lord of the Rings fanfic or a Welcome to Night Vale story. There’s No Spark On A Dampened Floor takes on the challenge of portraying the weird, kooky, sometimes serious but often absurd tone of Adventure Time, and I think author shoutoutout succeeded admirably. I really liked her Bubblegum voice, and I feel like she did a great job of capturing the odd tone of the show.
Marceline has an army green messenger bag strapped across her shoulder and Bubblegum can see a bit of Hambo’s head peeking out. Bubblegum must be staring daggers at her or something because the incredulous look she shoots the princess is enough to bring down her castle walls.
Marceline glides over to the princess and inspects her a little closer, almost like a specimen under glass. She knocks on her forehead. “Does anyone else know how truly donked in the head you are, Bonnie?” She sticks her tongue between fanged teeth and squints her eyes, her face hovering closer. “You’re like, whacked out on mad science, aren’t you?”
Bubblegum swats the cold hand away. “Thanks for barging in my lab and calling my science mad. I’ll have you know it is mad — mad awesome, and you clearly wouldn’t understand.” She feels dizzy from Marceline’s closeness… or her inner ear drama bomb, either one. Probably the ear thing, she tells herself, smacking the side of her head suddenly.
There’s No Spark On A Dampened Floor is a relatively short story at around 2300 words, and you can check it out here at the Archive of Our Own.