Chapter One: How Face the Music Probably Ended I
Marco had been so busy sweating through his old timey prince outfit and stewing in his thoughts- while standing absolutely still, in an effort to avoid catching the attention of Star's (understandably stressed out) parents- that it took him six minutes to move from his spot in the corner. He ducked through the doorway she had retreated through, and found exactly what he'd expected- an empty tower room with a reasonably tall, open window. No Star Butterfly in sight.
His best friend didn't like dealing with her problems head on. Or more accurately, she didn't like dealing with her personal problems. At all. Of course she'd run away. Marco knew this, because Star had told him herself a billion times. He didn't know if he knew her better than anyone, but Marco liked to think that he knew her better than most.
Though apparently, not as well as he thought he had.
Ugh. To be fair, Marco wasn't really sure if he wanted to see her like, right now. Most of his brains space was still very much occupied with the lines from Star's Princess Song.
Two lines in particular.
Staaarrrrr Butterfly is. In. Love. With. Her best frieeeennnnndddddd.
Yeah, Marco didn't feel like seeing Star at the moment. A part of him wanted to chase after his best friend, sure, but that was mostly drowned by the shock and mortification. What Marco really wanted to do was hide under a rock for a year. He wanted to see Jackie. Or maybe he didn't want to see Jackie, that sounded like a bad idea. Or was it a good one?
His stomach grumbled, and decided for him. Food. That was a safe, normal answer. After spending a whole school year with the rambunctious and free spirited princess of Mewni, Marco wasn't the safe kid he once was. But after getting smacked head-on by Ruberiot's bombshell, safe and normal anything was sounding pretty good.
"Be reasonable Hekapoo, it's not like we all share everything with each other!"
"Of course not! But lying about the abduction of Glossaryck isn't something you can just brush over, Moon-"
"I never lied about it!"
Hekapoo and Queen Moon were still arguing when Marco returned to the chamber. Star's dad had mostly snapped out of it and was ordering the guards to "find that idiot songstrel and put his head on a pike-"
"Sorry to say, dear, but at this junction, sentencing Ruberiot for his crimes- no matter how politically damaging those may be- would just fan the flames. For the moment, we may have to suspend judgement for a later date."
"At least the guy was actually willing to tell us all about certain important events that a certain omitter didn't feel like spilling earlier-"
"Do you not see the angry mob forming at the gates? Telling the public something of this magnitude was only going to put us all in jeopardy-"
"Yeah, I've got corn flecks in my hair from that mob. We are in jeopardy, right now, from your decisions."
Omnitraxus had disappeared from his orb. Rhombulus and Chancellor Lekmet were next to each other by the far wall; Rhombulus was holding one of his snake arms by the elbow and shifitng uncomfortably, while the Chancellor was sending him a bunch of nervous sounding baaas that Rhombulus was trying to shush. Hekapoo and Queen Moon didn't seem to notice.
"You still should have told us. Us . We might've come to the same conclusion."
"I would have told you if something had come up, but I only investigated recently-"
"If something had come up? This has been going on for who knows how long- that is, except you and the other two-"
"My family is none of your business-"
"Your family has been our business for hundreds of years! At least your daughter told the truth, which is more than what you've been doing- and whoa, recently ? How long ago did this happen?!"
Everyone was distracted. Marco wanted to avoid getting interrogated and reach Earth in one piece, and he wouldn't get a better chance than this. Speed-walking as fast as he felt he could get away with, Marco exchanged an awkward wave with River. He sent Rhombulus and Lekmet a polite nod. Lekmet bleeted, and Rhombulus whispered, "Chancellor says goodbye and good luck!" Marco shot him a thumbs up. Rhombulus looked like he was returning it, but Marco wasn't too sure; he could have been waving, or pointing, or shooting him a rude hand gesture. It was hard to tell with those snake arms.
He avoided eye contact with the seething pair occupying the centre of the room, spotted a promising corner, fingers already tight around the scissors in his pocket when-
"Where is Star?" The Queen's voice broke out. Her familiar blue eyes, shadowed with weariness and disappointment, stopped Marco in his tracks and anchored his soul to the spot.
"S-star? She's gone home," he said. The stammer escaped before he could rein it in, but she didn't seem to notice or care. "My parents usually want me home by 9, and it's the middle of the school week, sooo…."
Marco didn't mention that his parents were out of town and the last day of exams had been that afternoon. He tore his eyes from the Queen's icy gaze and managed a step forward before-
"- not so fast, Muscles!" A familiar voice teased-
a hand shot out and seized his shoulder in an iron grip. Also familiar.
He reluctantly turned his head to face his captor. Hekapoo's smile might've been sweet to someone who didn't know that that was the smile she whipped out when she was raring for bloody murder. Fortunately, her ire didn't seen to be directed at him.
"Girlfriend left you hanging, huh?"
Marco tried to hold back a choke. He didn't succeed. Hekapoo's face shifted into something resembling sympathetic, and she gave him a hard thump on the back. "C'mon womanizer, I'll take you home." She whipped out her scissors and cut a portal open over the sound of his strangled squawks of protest and denial.
Marco's face felt like it was on fire- and he was pretty sure it wasn't because of the flame crown just inches away. For a brief, delirious second, he wondered if blowing it out again would earn him a spare pair of scissors. Probably Hekapoo's new pair, speared through his heart.
Star's dad tried to say something, and promptly shut up after Hekapoo levelled the force of her most withering glare in his direction. Then she turned that glare to the Queen.
"We are not finished here," she hissed. Hekapoo made a body double, who stared mutinously at the Mewman monarch with fire in her eyes.
Marco knew that Hekapoo and her clones shared a consciousness, but she mostly dealt with the important stuff in her prime body. Hekapoo leaving a doppelganger with the rulers of Mewni and leaving with him- a teenaged Earth dweller with no status to speak of- was probably some kind of social snub.
It also meant that she was really pissed off, which was never a good thing.
For a moment, he looked back. The King was grumbling under his breath as Hekapoo's clone was stomping up to Queen Moon. Rhombulus shouted, "tell the Princess I say hi!"
Lekmet was patting the shoulder of Star's mom, who was clutching the back of a chair tightly and looking older than Marco had ever seen her. He wondered if he should say something.
Hekapoo made up his mind for him, and yanked him through the portal. It was probably for the best.
"Okay, I'm outta here," were the first words out of Marco's mouth, the second his spiffy black boots hit the terracotta tiles. Hekapoo's brow furrowed as she looked around his Pueblo-Spanish Missionary style, middle class, open plan living room.
"Why, did I get the wrong address? Modest digs, by the way. Homey." She plopped down on the sofa and propped her boots up on the coffee table.
"Nah, this is the right place, I just don't-" a floorboard on the second floor creaked, and Marco went still. Hekapoo was here, his parents would be back tomorrow, so that left someone he really didn't want to see at the moment.
Sure enough, if he strained his ears, he could hear someone pacing in heels. The energetic cadence was too familiar for comfort, but Marco was just thankful that Star didn't go downstairs. He pulled out his scissors.
"You'd better get back to the Commission. I'm just getting a bite to eat."
Hekapoo raised an eyebrow and burrowed further into the couch cushion. "Oh, I'm not going back there just yet."
All Marco heard was 'I'm still mad at the Queen and I'm gonna draw out her suffering by making her stew in her own guilt'. There was no arguing with Hekapoo when she was like this.
"C'mon Diaz, you spend sixteen years on my turf and I can't spend a few hours in yours?"
What the hell, why not? "Fine," Marco groaned as he opened a new portal. "Let's just go before Star catches us." He could use the company right now.