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What happens on Erasmus...

Chapter Text

She could have studied in Italy. There was a partner school in Milan. But Italian had never been offered in her school, and Alya was studying digital media culture at a school near Berlin, and her university breaks almost never matched up with her friend’s, and, well, she did miss her friend. And Berlin still had a huge fashion industry. And she’d taken German in school. And Berlin wasn’t really that far from Paris. It was far, but it wasn’t New York or anything. She could visit her parents on the weekends. Well, if she flew Ryanair or some other discount airline that made her worry about her own personal safety.

So she applied to do a year abroad at ESMOD Berlin. Alya assured her she could live with her — conveniently (or not really, because it was Alya, and Marinette knew she had to have planned this strategically), one of her roommates was studying abroad in Spain for a year. Really living up the Erasmus experience.

When Marinette had gotten accepted, she’d texted Alya immediately. Her parents were supportive, and she prepared to make the move abroad. She was glad, at least, that even if she was giving up the city she’d lived in her whole life for a year, she’d have a friend. Even though Alya went to a totally different school. And she’d later found out that she’d received a scholarship — it wouldn’t cover everything , but it was enough to cover some expenses.

Her parents booked her a nice flight out (on a decent airline, rather than let Marinette buy her own ticket on Ryanair), and they agreed to cover her rent and give her some spending money — really, Marinette was incredibly lucky to have such caring parents, she knew. They took her to the airport, and reminded her to call them as soon as her plane landed.

She boarded the plane, unable to believe her luck. Not only was she studying abroad, but she was going to be living with her best friend, and her parents fully supported this endeavor to broaden her horizons.

Marinette really was incredibly lucky.

Chapter Text

For the third time in his life, Adrien felt as if maybe he didn’t have the worst luck in the world. The first time had been when he’d met Nino through gaming. They’d met while playing an online game and quickly became close friends. They had never met in person; Nino was from la Réunion, and while he was technically a French citizen, he’d decided to go to university near Berlin rather than in the Metropole. Adrien supposed he couldn’t fault him for that, and they talked every day, besides.

The second time Adrien had felt that maybe, just maybe, his luck wasn’t completely awful was when his father had granted him permission to study physics at university. Of course, Gabriel had wanted his son to study business or fashion - something to support his empire - but Adrien had, for once, held his ground, and impressed his father (he’d actually impressed his father) - enough so that his father granted him permission to study physics, however useless he deemed it, on the condition that Adrien continue modelling in his free time, and kept up with his Chinese, Italian, English, and German. Adrien had been only too happy to accept.

And now this.

He’d been accepted for a full year on Erasmus, and not just any full year, but a year in Berlin, near his best (and, really, realistically probably only) friend. His father had, eventually, acquiesced, although as always, he’d had conditions. Adrien was to fly home once a month (or fly to Milan, as the case may be) for photoshoots (and, honestly, Adrien had talked him down from every weekend, claiming the cultural benefits of living in another country and actually having time to do things when he wasn’t in class). Gabriel was to choose (and rent) Adrien’s apartment - Adrien was not to live with Nino, some boy whom Gabriel had never met but whom Gabriel suspected of being distrustworthy on the sheer principle that Adrien was his friend.

But it didn’t matter. Adrien was ecstatic.

Gabriel had even agreed to let Adrien fly on a normal flight! First class, granted, but it wasn’t charter or private! He’d get to interact with other people!

And in Berlin, he could be whoever he wanted to be. He wouldn’t be under his father’s control! His father was going to check in, to be sure, and Adrien didn’t put surprise visits to the apartment past him, but still, he would be freer than he’d ever been. He could make friends. And since he was going to a partner school, some of those friends might even live in Paris!

He only packed his carry-on and personal bag; the rest was packed for him, without his input. But Adrien could go shopping. He could go to H&M or Pimkie, like normal people! He didn’t have to wear anything from Gabriel AGRESTE pour l’homme which doubtlessly filled his suitcase! And what was even better, was that Nino had promised to meet him at the airport! His father didn’t know that, and Adrien suspected he wouldn’t be pleased when he found out (when), but Adrien couldn’t really bring himself to care.

He was meeting his friend, in real life. He was going to a city where hopefully most people didn’t know his name before he even introduced himself. He wouldn’t have to work twice as hard (which he always did without complaint) to prove that he was more than just a pretty boy. And he’d have friends. Nino had promised to introduce Adrien to his friends, and to his girlfriend, who, Adrien assumed, also had friends.

He boarded the plane feeling hopeful. This was going to be the best year of his life, bad luck be damned.

Chapter Text

Alya was standing just outside the gate, next to a guy with headphones around his neck. Her boyfriend, Marinette assumed. She thought his name was Nino. She made sure that she had all of her bags before making her way over to Alya.

“Alya!” she exclaimed, and went to walk over to her, but unfortunately she bumped into someone else on the way.

“Oh, excuse me, I’m so sorry,” she said in French before remembering that she was, in fact, in Germany.

But to her surprise, the person she’d bumped into responded in French. “Don’t worry about it.”

She looked up to meet the most beautiful emerald green eyes she’d ever seen. Even more beautiful was the man’s face. Er. Young man. Marinette felt a blush flood her cheeks, which only increased when she realised, who, exactly, this man was. His face was only on every other billboard in Paris! Adrien Agreste, model and heir to Gabriel Agreste’s fashion empire ! And if you asked Marinette, Gabriel Agreste was the best designer of the era!

“Well, it’s good that you two have met,” she heard Alya say.

Marinette turned to her friend. “Huh?” she asked eloquently.

“Nino!” Adrien said. “Man, it’s good to… finally meet you in person!” He hugged the guy who’d been standing next to Alya.

“That’s Nino’s best friend, Adrien. He’s studying at the FU this year,” Alya said.[1]

Marinette looked from Nino and Adrien ( Agreste! ) to Alya. “What.”

“Well, that’s my boyfriend, Nino. You’ve seen his pictures. And that’s his best friend, Adrien. Apparently they met on some dumb online game.”

“Hey!” Nino called. “MMORPGs are not dumb.”

Alya rolled her eyes. “Sure they aren’t, sweetie.” She turned to her boyfriend. “Nino, this is Marinette Dupain-Cheng. Marinette, this is my boyfriend, Nino Lahiffe.”

Nino offered his fist to bump, which Marinette did. “Nice to meet you,” Marinette said.

“I feel like I know you already. Al hasn’t shut up about you.”

Alya huffed and looked pointedly from Nino to Adrien.

“Oh!” Nino said. “Right! Adrien, this is my girlfriend Alya Césaire, and Al, this is Adrien Agreste.”

Alya extended her hand for Adrien to shake. “I hope you’re not as much of a hopeless nerd as this one over here.”

Adrien, fortunately, seemed to catch her joking tone, and smiled as he shook her hand. “Can’t make any promises about that, I’m afraid.”

Alya returned his smile with a grin of her own. “I think you’ll fit in nicely.” She turned to Marinette. “Can I help with your bags? We’re all broke uni students here, so we’ll be taking the bus.”

“The bus?” Marinette repeated. Paris had busses; busses were fine, but were busses really the best option to get from an airport into town? With all that luggage?

“Well, if you’d flown a budget airline, you’d have gotten into Schönefeld and we could take the Regio, but your parents had to pay for Air France.”[2]

Marinette could tell that her friend was joking, so she rolled her eyes. “The bus is fine.”

And so they left. Nino and Alya helped their friends with their bags, and Marinette still could not believe that she was walking alongside the son of one of her icons.

“So, it was Marinette, right?” Adrien asked her as they walked to the bus stop, which, fortunately, wasn’t that far at all.

“That’s right,” she said. “And you’re Adrien.” Adrien Agreste , oh my god.

He nodded. “What do you study? And where? I mean, we flew out of Paris, but…”

“I study fashion design at ESMOD in Paris, so I’ll be doing my semester at the ESMOD in Berlin.” She thought she saw him waver, but a second later, he was smiling. “What about you?” she asked.

“Physics! I study physics at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie at the Sorbonne.”

Physics was not the field she’d have guessed he’d be in, but, really, she didn’t know much about him. She knew his face, and she knew his father, but her interest in models generally stopped at their clothing. Still… she did know enough about his father to wonder how he’d reacted to such news. It was well known that Gabriel Agreste wanted a fashion empire - he wanted to build a house as renowned as Worth or Chanel, and as timeless. His only son and heir studying physics had almost certainly thrown a wrench in that plan. “That’s really cool,” she said. “I did my bac in literature, so I didn’t really have much science in lycée - just the bare minimum.”[3]

“I love it,” he said. “I mean, I like fashion, too.” She nodded, and he continued. “But physics . It’s everything . It’s everything from the whole universe down to the tiniest subatomic particle. It’s the rules that shape our reality and existence and it’s the foundation for everything in the world.”[4]

“It really sounds like you love it. That’s great,” she said. “I’m of the opinion that everyone should study something they’re passionate about.”

“Exactly!” Adrien said. “Everyone has different interests, and the world needs all of us to make it work. Of course, we should also work to our skills, but if we try to study something we’re not skilled in, I think that becomes obvious before it’s too late.”

Marinette nodded. “That’s what I think as well.”

They arrived at the bus stop, and Alya turned to them. “Do you two need money for the bus? Our semester tickets only cover our own transport.”

Marinette and Adrien both shook their heads.

“Good. And I should warn you – especially Marinette; I don’t know what you usually eat, pretty boy, but you seem pretty fit – German pastries leave a lot to be desired.”

Nino snorted. “I mean, they’re not that bad. There’s a lot less variety though.”

“My parents are bakers. If I miss anything, I’m sure I can make it myself,” Marinette said. “But thanks for the tip.”

Alya shot her a smile. “Now, we’ll take a detour to drop pretty boy off at his new apartment.”

Adrien opened his mouth to speak, but apparently thought better of it.

“Don’t worry, bro, I’ll help you get settled in. And it’s Saturday, so we can swing by Saturn and get some sweet gaming setups. I live in Berlin, anyway.”[5]

“The trouble of dating your classmate,” Alya sighed.

“We’re not even in the same major. And we met at the zoo .”

Alya rolled her eyes. “Anyway, then we’ll head to my place. Our place. This is so exciting!”

Chapter Text

Adrien soaked in the new city. His new friends . Well, maybe they weren’t quite his friends yet, and Marinette had definitely recognised him, he was sure, but she was acting pretty normally around him, so he didn’t discount her yet. And Alya was loud and brash, but seemed nice. He loved it. He looked out the window of the bus. Maybe Berlin didn’t have that picturesque beauty for which Paris was renowned, but it was real and he was there and he was going to have the best twelve months of his life.

The bus stopped by a train station and Nino nudged him. “We transfer here.”

Adrien had never taken public transit before in his life (he had the Gorilla to chauffer him all around Paris, whether or not that was what Adrien had actually wanted was besides the point), and that just made it all the more exciting. He couldn’t wait.

All four of them got off at the station, and Nino led them around back, through a passageway and up a ramp. “Elevator will only hold, like, two of us at a time,” Nino said. He pressed the button when they reached the elevator. He and Adrien went up, and then waited on the platform for Alya and Marinette. “We need the Seven,” he said. “To Wannsee, and then we’ll split ways.”

Adrien nodded. He thought Alya and apparently Marinette, too, lived outside of Berlin, but he didn’t ask at the moment. He was too busy trying to absorb everything .

“We’ll drop your bags off and then head to Ikea.”

“My father said he’d already provided the basics,” Adrien said. And knowing his father, Adrien was pretty sure that the “basics” were fairly luxurious.

Nino clapped his shoulder. “Yeah, sure, but let’s go to Ikea.”

Adrien smiled. That seemed like a normal student thing, right? Shopping for apartment furniture at a Swedish superstore with your friends? “You got it.”

Alya and Marinette seemed to be deep in conversation, and even Adrien knew better than to interrupt. So he turned to Nino. “So I’ve been trying to find out some more information about the neighbourhood I’ll be living in, and it seems… kind of far from everything?”

Nino laughed. “Yeah, Zehlendorf is old rich people with a handful of students. There’s not that much there, but the public transit system is decent, so if you wanna go to a club it’s not too hard. Plus, there’s a night bus that runs through Zehlendorf.”

Adrien nodded, mentally noting down this information. It wasn’t ideal, but hey, he wasn’t living in his father’s mansion. “Is it close to the Free University?” he asked.

Nino shrugged. “Well, relatively, yeah. Your apartment’s like, right next to the S-Bahn station, though, which means connections should be pretty easy. But I, like, never go to the FU, so I dunno exactly how to get there.”

“And how far is it from your place?”

“I mean, it’s a bit of a hike, but it’s not too bad. I go further to go to class every day, and it’s only one transfer. Adrien, man, you’re totally allowed over whenever you want, but honestly, I think we’ll probably chill at your place this year. My bedroom in my apartment is the living room. Which is cool because I get the balcony and I’m away from the street, but, like, there’s not much room, cos of all of my equipment and shit. Plus, you won’t be going out of your way, and I’ll be passing by on my way to and from class anyway.”

Adrien nodded. The way Nino phrased it seemed fair. “I do definitely want to come over your place sometime, though,” Adrien said. “I mean… you’re the one who actually lives here…”

Nino grinned. “Absolutely, man. Everything to do in town is by my place. But once we get your place decked out, it’ll be even better.”

Adrien smiled. He knew, really, that he’d have to go back when this year was over, but he was fully intending on making this the best year of his life.

The S-Bahn pulled up, and Nino and Alya indicated that it was the correct one, so they all got on. They found seats near each other, as a group.

“Tonight Marinette and I are having everyone over for drinks!” Alya exclaimed as she flopped down into a seat.

“In Potsdam ?” Nino asked, eyebrows raised. There was some level of distaste in his voice, although Adrien had no idea why. Nino studied in Potsdam, and never seemed to speak negatively of the place.

“Definitely not in Neukölln ,” Alya said, turning up her nose. Adrien, also, had no idea what was wrong with Neukölln. Nino always made it sound very cool and urban. Maybe Alya just didn’t like urban places.

“Where is there even room ? And then you’ll want to go to Extrablatt .”

Alya frowned. “What’s wrong with Extrablatt?”

“Nothing,” said Nino defensively, “it’s just that we go there all the time .”

“...You could all come over my place,” Adrien suggested. That was a way to make friends, right? “My dad came a couple of weeks ago and set it up – all Nino and I are getting today is extra stuff to make it more… homey. But it’s got plenty of room, and I don’t have any roommates.”

“Why not?” Alya asked, sounding more like a journalist than a media studies student.

“Al,” Nino chastised.

“Well, like, the real, Erasmus experience, or whatever, is having local roommates, right? Or other foreign roommates. But roommates .”

“It’s fine,” Adrien said to Nino. He turned to Alya. “My father is… very… strict. And he didn’t want anything distracting me from my studies. I think he was really just afraid of me interacting with someone who he’d deem below me. So he got me an entire apartment all to myself.”

Alya grinned, seeming to accept this as a response. “That settles it. Drinks at Adrien’s!”

This certainly wasn’t a bad start to his first day. He just hoped his father hadn’t completely decked the apartment out in absurdly expensive, designer furniture.

Chapter Text

Marinette realised with a start after Adrien and Nino went to transfer trains and said their goodbyes that she’d completely forgotten to call her parents. She whipped out her phone, but Alya shook her head.

“Between Wannsee and Griebnitzsee there’s no signal. Might as well try once we get to Griebnitzsee.”

Marinette bit her lip, but nodded. And just in case, she shot off a quick message to her parents on WhatsApp:

Maman

To Maman: “Made it to Berlin alive and well. On the way to my apartment with Alya. No signal. Call soon. Love you.”Made it to Berlin alive and well. On the way to my apartment with Alya. No signal. Call soon. Love you.

Papa

To Papa: “Made it to Berlin alive and well. On the way to my apartment with Alya. No signal. Call soon. Love you.”Made it to Berlin alive and well. On the way to my apartment with Alya. No signal. Call soon. Love you.

“So, Nino’s going to get some shit tonight for not telling me that his best friend is a fucking model ,” Alya said. “His face was all over Paris when I went home for Easter.”

Marinette shrugged. “Maybe Nino didn’t think it was important.”

“Don’t think I forgot his last name. Adrien Agreste , the model ? His father’s your hero.”

Marinette tried her best to appear nonchalant. They were, after all, in public, and she had no idea what the public transit protocol was for this city quite yet. “I mean, I really admire Gabriel Agreste’s work – he’s brilliant, and he has the potential to build a brand as influential as Chanel – hell, he’s well on his way to that, already. But… I mean… if Adrien didn’t mention he’s a model, maybe there’s a reason?”

“Doesn’t seem like he has many friends,” Alya observed drily.

Marinette furrowed her brows. “I thought he was just being friendly.”

“Nino said he’s really lonely, but that stays between us. I know Nino wanted us – or me, at least – to try to befriend him so that he has more people than just Nino to talk to, but since neither of us will be at the FU, and I’m really only ever in Berlin on weekends…”

“Why would he be lonely?”

“Isn’t fame lonely?” Alya asked. “Plus, he’s a model, and filthy rich. I bet every minute of his life is perfectly controlled. Actually… fifty euros says he’ll spiral out of control and just do nothing but party here.”

“I’m not betting on something like that, Alya. Besides… I don’t really know anything about him.”

“Fine, fine,” Alya said, rolling her eyes. “But anyway. Our apartment is above a bakery, so that should be familiar at least.”

Marinette was grateful for the change of topic, but noticed that Alya had said boulangerie , and not boulangerie-pâtisserie. She hoped that this was just an oversight. Sure, she could make mille-feuille by the dozen, but it was so much easier to just buy them (or have her parents provide them). “I’m sure it will be,” she said.

“We’re actually on the high street, so there’s a lot of restaurants and shops to waste money in.”

“Of course,” Marinette said.

“And your room overlooks the street. The only thing is that upstairs, we have like a gallery type thing - we use it as a living room and office - and there are windows to the downstairs rooms, because there’s no other natural light up there. But you can just, like, block it off if you want. And you couldn’t find a better location in Potsdam.”

Marinette knew her school was kind of far away, but she was going to be living with her best friend, and really, wouldn’t that more than make up for it?

“And your parents’ package arrived yesterday. It’s in your room, but if you need any help setting up, just let me know. I’m on semester break, so technically, I should be writing papers, but…” Alya scoffed. “How can I write papers when my best friend is here?”

“Hopefully that’s not a problem for the next year,” Marinette joked.

Alya laughed. “I’m sure the novelty will wear off once we get used to each other and start wanting to kill each other for our bad habits.”

Marinette smiled. She’d never lived with anyone but her parents before - why would she live somewhere else while going to school in Paris when her parents had everything that she needed? She may have wanted to be a fashion designer, but Marinette was not without her own practicality: she was trying to make it in one of the most cutthroat industries, without any preexisting connections, and she needed all the help she could get, financial or otherwise, to give herself an edge.

And, really, her parents were too kind to pay for her rent and give her an allowance here. That was part of why she’d moved in with Alya; she knew it was better and cheaper than trying to find an apartment in Berlin on her own. She’d looked at prices for the area near her university, and they all seemed either too expensive or… really of questionable quality. Alya jumping in had been a lifesaver, even if Alya had acted as if Marinette looking for an apartment closer to her apartment (and thus farther away from her best friend) was some terrible affront.

Without really meaning to, Marinette wondered if - assuming Alya was right and that Adrien Agreste was lonely and desperate for friends - she could turn him into a valuable connection. Of course, she’d only do such a thing with his full knowledge and consent; she wasn’t about to abuse someone’s desire to make friends for her own means. Even if Adrien Agreste was, really, the type of person she’d kill to be professional contacts with.

Alya continued talking about the city and her life while Marinette listened and responded as needed, until the PA system announced that they were arriving at the final stop on the line.

“This is us,” Alya said. “So we take the tram from here to either Brandenburger Strasse or Platz der Einheit, depending on which one we catch.”

Marinette nodded. “Okay.”

“And then we’ll get you settled in and see where you want to go from there. Sound good?”

“Sounds great!” She was genuinely excited, and she was looking forward to making this the best year ever.

They got out of the S-Bahn, went up the escalator, and Alya led the way through the train station and outside to the tram stops. She looked briefly at the large display of arriving trams and busses, and grinned. “We’re in luck! The ninety-two is coming now!” She hurried off without another word, and Marinette had no choice but to follow.

Marinette trusted her ability to find her way around this town on her own, but she also didn’t want to lose Alya. After all, Alya had half of Marinette’s bags and the keys to the apartment.

Chapter Text

“Dude,” was Nino’s first word upon entering the apartment.

Adrien looked around. The apartment was modern, clean, but pretty simple.[1] Had his father actually considered Adrien’s tastes when choosing the apartment? Adrien shook that thought out of his head. His father would never do such a thing. It had to have been Nathalie. His father’s assistant had always had a soft spot for him, and a way of getting Gabriel Agreste to do things for Adrien that he would otherwise never consider.

“It’s pretty nice, huh?”

Truthfully, Adrien had had his heart set on a classy but cozy prewar apartment, but he was well used to not getting everything that he wanted.

“There’s a staircase. There’s an upstairs .”

Adrien nodded. “My father said it has two bedrooms upstairs.”

Dude ,” Nino said.

But mentioning his father had reminded Adrien. “Hold on; I was supposed to contact him once I got in.”

Nino nodded and shut up. His friend knew exactly how strict and overprotective Adrien’s father was, and how much Gabriel distrusted him on the sheer basis of… well, honestly, part of it, Adrien was sure, was to do with being a middle class kid who didn’t even have the decency to grow up in the Metropole. [2] But Adrien had never cared about any of that; Nino was kind,honest, and loyal and was always there to encourage him and back him up.

Adrien liking him, realistically, probably had a lot to do with Gabriel disliking him.

Adrien pulled out his phone and called his father. Of course, even Adrien didn’t have a direct line to the world-renowned fashion designer, Gabriel Agreste, his own father. Adrien had to go through an assistant. But if he were honest, Adrien greatly preferred talking to Nathalie to talking to his own father. Nathalie was cool and aloof, but at least with her, he could tell that she cared about him in her own way.

Sure enough, Nathalie answered the phone. “Hello?”

“Hi, Nathalie, it’s Adrien. Just wanted to let you know that I got in safe to the apartment.”

“Your father noticed that there was no charge for a taxi on your card.”

Of course he did. Adrien sighed. “I took public transit.”

He heard Nathalie sigh on the other line. “The important thing is that you’re there safe. I’ll inform your father.” Nathalie didn’t say what he knew she knew: his father disapproved of his friendship with Nino. Maybe, just maybe, then, she wouldn’t tell Gabriel that he’d been with Nino.

“Thanks, Nathalie,” Adrien said.

“Your father wants you to continue with your languages. German shouldn’t be an issue, but he wants you to either find tutors or take courses in Chinese and Italian.” English had, fortunately, been dropped once Adrien had passed the TOEFL.[3] German would probably be dropped after this year, too.

“It’s on my learning agreement,” Adrien said. “I’ll make sure to keep up with it.”

“Good,” Nathalie said. “Have a nice year, Adrien. Be sure to save some time for fun. We don’t want you working yourself to death.”

He wondered if his father would fire her if he knew she said such things. “Thanks, Nathalie.”

“Goodbye, Adrien.”

“Goodbye.”

He hung up the phone and looked to Nino. “So… should we see what kind of ridiculous shit my father’s had put in here?”

“Oh, absolutely.”

They went down the hall and looked at the bathroom, which looked standard except for the towels and bathmat, which were doubtlessly ridiculously expensive and ridiculously soft. And, well, if Adrien were honest, he couldn’t find it in himself to get mad about ridiculously soft bath towels. They peeked into the two smaller rooms which looked out into the street. One had been made into an office, and the other had been made into a dining room. As Adrien expected, everything was designer, and looked like a page from an interior design catalogue. The kitchen had been fitted with luxury appliances, although Adrien was sure that his father didn’t expect him to cook. [4]

“Dude!” Nino said, picking up a bottle of wine from a rack. “This is… really fucking expensive wine!”

“Everything in this apartment is really fucking expensive,” Adrien said. He opened the cabinet above the wine rack to find all kinds of expensive liquor. “See?”

“Your dad is okay with you drinking like that?”

Adrien rolled his eyes. “I’m sure it’s for aesthetic purposes only. But who knows? Maybe Nathalie reminded him that I’m a university student and not just a blank slate.”

Nino clapped his shoulder. “Let’s start a list of what you need from Ikea.”

And so they did. They looked at every room, and Nino noted everything he felt Adrien was missing - with Adrien’s input, as well, of course. To Adrien’s surprise, nothing was overly luxurious, and his own tastes seemed to have been taken into consideration. Still, there were certain things that even Adrien conceded were missing.

“Gaming system we can get from Saturn. Your dad got you a sweet TV, so that’s one less thing. And there’s a Saturn right on Teltower Damm, so we can swing by there and set that up before going to Ikea. And we should stop by the grocery store.”[5]

“I need to put my things away,” Adrien said. “And… I want normal clothes.”

Nino raised an eyebrow. “So we’ll add H&M to the list. Also Teltower Damm.”

Would they even have time to get to Ikea? Adrien looked nervously at his watch. Alya and Marinette were supposed to come over that night, right?

“Look, groceries are the most important, because tomorrow’s Sunday and Germany has this crazy thing where nothing but a handful of restaurants and museums are open on Sundays. Then we’ll come back here, put everything away, and then split up. You go to H&M and I’ll go to Saturn. I know what games you like much better than I know your actual taste in clothing.”

“Okay,” Adrien said.

“And then we’ll look at the time and see if we have time to go to Ikea today. We should, if we do it right. And then you can put away your clothes, get changed, and I can set everything up for tonight.”

That sounded doable. Adrien felt himself relax slightly. “Okay. Got it.”

“We passed a Lidl on the way here - prepare to be introduced to the wonders of nonorganic, mass-produced discount market food. And if you decide you hate it, I’m sure there’s a Biomarkt somewhere around here.”[6]

So they went to the grocery store, which mostly consisted of Adrien getting a few staples and Nino throwing every weird thing he could find into the cart, which was, really, mostly junk food. When they got to the checkout, Adrien used his credit card, but realised with a sinking feeling that his father would very much disapprove of Adrien shopping at H&M. Video games were something Gabriel had always tolerated, so he could pay for everything at Saturn with his card without issue, but H&M…

“We need to go to a bank before I go to H&M,” Adrien said on the way home to drop off the groceries.

Nino nodded. “Yeah, I’m sure Papa Agreste wouldn’t be thrilled about his precious model son wearing a twenty-euro acrylic sweater - and that’s high-end H&M. Don’t worry, Teltower Damm is a high street - there are plenty of ATMs.”

“I’d give you my card to go to Saturn, but…”

“But I’m not a white blonde boy named Adrien Agreste. Yeah that’s a bit of an issue. That’s cool. Just meet me there when you’re done at H&M and we can check out together. I’m sure I’ll find a few things to pick up myself.”

Adrien nodded. That sounded like a good plan. And if they went to Ikea, he’d withdraw money for that, too. They made it back to his apartment, and quickly put the groceries away before heading down to Teltower Damm. Adrien withdrew a few hundred euros from his bank account at an ATM and the two friends parted ways.

“Make sure to get Mecha Strike IV,” Adrien reminded his friend. “And a PS4 and Wii-U, too.”

“Got it! Will do. Dude, also, you and I need to go to the Computerspielemuseum. It’s in F-hain, and you can just play video games all day.”[7]

That sounded great. “Absolutely! But I think we have too much to do today.”

“We’ll see if it’s open tomorrow,” Nino said.

Adrien nodded and headed into H&M. He’d never been in such a store before; he’d only passed by then while out shopping with Chloé. Once, she’d dragged him into a Pimkie to get something for her friend Sabrina, that, according to Chloé would be appropriate for someone of her social standing, but that had been once, and a few years ago at that. Sometimes he wondered what was going on between Chloé and Sabrina, but he knew better than to ask. Chloé still hung onto him like a lovesick teenager, and while Adrien was almost sure that it was all an act, he really didn’t want to wound the only friend he had in Paris, if he could even really call her that. Even if she was, objectively speaking, not a very good person.[8]

He found his way to the menswear section, and immediately started finding things that he loved. The quality was nothing like Gabriel AGRESTE pour l’homme , but Adrien hadn’t expected it to be. It wasn’t as if he had very sensitive skin, so he doubted it would be an issue.

Three pairs of jeans, five hoodies, ten t-shirts, and an armful of accessories later, Adrien checked out and paid in cash. He had money to spare (he’d gotten so much for what would, really, probably only buy a shirt from his father’s line, if even that), and he juggled his shopping bags as he made his way to Saturn to meet Nino.

His friend was waiting close to one of the registers, with a cart full of gaming systems and video games. Adrien walked over to him. “I think we may need to get a taxi. I’m not used to shopping without a driver.”

Nino grinned. “Might be a good idea, yeah. I got everything you asked for, and some other games and some good movies.”

Adrien grinned. “Great. Are you done? We can check out now, and I’ll call a taxi.”

He’d downloaded a taxi app as his father’s behest (and he didn’t put it past his father to check his phone without his consent), so he ordered the taxi as he and Nino got in line. Adrien paid for everything, trying to ignore Nino’s flinch at the final price, and the duo went outside to wait for the taxi.

Adrien checked the taxi’s status as well as the time. “So… it’s noon,” he said. He couldn’t believe that all of this had only taken a few hours.

“We’ve got time,” Nino assured him. “We can drop this off, and then just take the S1 to the Ringbahn[9] and then go to the Ikea in Templehof.” [10]

It sounded, to Adrien, like a foreign language, but then, he supposed, it was. “Okay.”

“Shouldn’t take long to get there, and then when we check out we can order the stuff we can’t carry to be delivered.”

Adrien nodded. “Sounds like a plan to me.”

Chapter Text

Marinette had settled in nicely to her room. It was already furnished, and Alya had provided her with new, very pink sheets from Kaufland to try to make it seem more homey.[1] So she’d unpacked everything while talking to Alya, bemoaned the fact that Alya and her roommate didn’t have a proper gaming system, and snacked on delicious, apparently red bell pepper flavored potato chips while gossiping.

Her room quickly felt like home, not in the least due to the fact that Marinette had remembered to bring some of of her posters (packed carefully in tubes) and Alya had graciously run out to get poster tack, as the walls were plaster and thus impossible to get pushpins into.

Her parents had shipped her a new set of pink curtains, as well as her dress form and some of her current projects, and Marinette was extremely grateful for them yet again. She’d hung the curtains and set up her work area, and then collapsed on her bed.

“Hungry?” Alya asked.

Marinette checked the time on her phone. Somehow, it was already noon. “Very. What time are we meeting the guys?”

Alya shrugged. “I’ll text Nino. He and Adrien are probably still at Ikea.”

Marinette nodded and rolled off of her bed. “I think I need a rug.”

Alya patted her shoulder sympathetically. “We can go to Karstadt?”

“What’s that?”

“Department store. It’s literally right across the street. We can get you a rug and, like, towels and stuff too if you need it.”

Marinette hesitated. She didn’t want to spend too much money, but, well… she needed a rug. “Okay. Fine.”

“And then we’ll get food.”

Food sounded even better, and it was more incentive to get in and out of the department store as quickly as possible.

They went to the hallway, and slipped on their shoes before leaving the apartment (locking it behind them, of course), and heading downstairs and outside. The high street they lived on was cute, Marinette thought, but the town as a whole seemed really small. And she loved Paris more than anywhere else on earth, and while the architecture here was more pleasing than what she’d seen in Berlin so far, she was worried that there might not be as much to do. But best not to worry about that now.

She followed Alya’s lead into the department store, and up to the home furnishing section. Marinette found a nice, soft rug which she liked well enough (and it was pink ), and picked up some towels before heading down the escalator to the registers and checking out. They ran her purchases back home before trying to figure out what to do for lunch. It wasn’t even half past twelve, and Nino had texted Alya telling her to come over “after six - we’ll have dinner and drinks”, so they had plenty of time.

“What’re you feeling?” Alya asked. “We’ve got Vietnamese, Thai, German, Italian, pizza, Russian… and there’s a Breton restaurant passing itself off as French not too far away, but I sincerely hope you’re not homesick for French food yet, because otherwise this will be a long year.”[2]

Marinette laughed. “Thai sounds good,” she said.

So they went down the street to a Thai restaurant, where Alya ordered a spicy red curry and Marinette ordered the green curry, and they talked and laughed for a while.

“So, okay,” Alya said. “I’m at the zoo. And the zoo in Berlin’s, like, the biggest one in Europe. I didn’t even want to go, but my dad was visiting, and you know how he is.”[3] Here she rolled her eyes. “So dad’s going on about this animal and I don’t even remember which one it is to be honest, and says… something about the Martinique and how… whatever, you know? Not important. And Nino’s there and he recognised me from around uni, I guess, and he jumps in like ‘oh you’re from the Martinique? I’m from la Réunion!’ and papa of course loves this and they get into some super deep conversation about departmentalisation or whatever. Whatever. So then we kind of exchange numbers I guess, and Papa’s all thrilled because not only is Nino French, but he’s black, too, which I think is his ideal match for me, even though Maman’s family is mostly Indian.”[4] She rolled her eyes again. “But Nino and I start texting, and one night both of our friends drag us to French night at this student club for the Uni Potsdam and we start talking and drinking and one thing led to another…”[5]

“Alya! You didn’t!” It didn’t seem like something Alya would typically do, to be fair, but then again, Marinette couldn’t imagine where else this could be leading.

“Oh, we did! I mean, he needed somewhere to crash anyway because it was like four AM by the time we left, and like, he would’ve had to wait until five to get back to Berlin, so…” She took a sip of her beer. “I mean, like, okay, I would never have done that my first time, but as you well know , Nino wasn’t my first.” Marinette remembered Alya’s high school boyfriend only too well. The boy had been very nice, and it had been a healthy relationship, but god had Alya given Marinette far too many gory details about her sex life with the boy. [6]

“He wasn’t… sober, was he?”

“Marinette, girl, I assure you: he was as drunk off of his ass as I was. No cohersion or anything like that. Just two drunk college students deciding to have drunken sex.” She took another sip of his beer. “He stayed for breakfast, though, which is when I knew he was a keeper.”

Marinette wondered if Alya had done such things often, as she couldn’t imagine Parisian Alya doing any of this, but it really wasn’t her place to ask, and as long as her best friend was being safe about everything… “You used condoms, though, right?”

“Of course ,” Alya stressed. “And I’m on the pill, so, like, now that we’re exclusive, if we don’t have a condom, we’re good to go anyway, but yeah absolutely until we were explicitly exclusive, I was always sure to use a condom. And I made sure we both got tested. But like, to be honest with you, the boy is a mess around women, so like… I kind of have to wonder… I mean… plenty of nineteen-year-old guys are virgins, right?”

Marinette’s eyes widened, and she took a sip of her own drink, a glass of white wine, to avoid answering.

“I mean, I guess I should ask him. We’re dating now, anyway, and he’s a total sweetheart.”

“He seems nice,” Marinette agreed.

“And he’s got a profitable hobby to support himself until he makes it in film, so it’s not like I’ll be supporting him, or anything. I’m going to grad school, anyway. You should move to Berlin after school so we can all be roommates, like on some terrible nineties sitcom.”

Marinette giggled. “I can see it now. Me coming home from a long day at work only to catch you and Nino going at it on the couch.”

“...Maybe we’ll just have… apartments in the same building. Or block. You know. Close but not… that.”

Marinette grinned. “Sure.”

Chapter Text

If H&M had been a foreign experience, Ikea was like going to Mars. Adrien had never seen so much stuff , and so cheap, and so crowded . The floor was full of cheap Swedish furniture and décor, most of it very kitsch and tacky; things Gabriel Agreste would never approve of in a million years. Nothing at all like the refined, tasteful, distant styles his father preferred. There was a lot of floral, a lot of plaid, and a lot of loud neon.

Adrien loved it.

He ended up piling way more than he needed into his cart, got an extra few bookcases, some rugs that fit his tastes, and everything that Nino had claimed was missing from his apartment.

When they’d gone to check out, Adrien had needed to run to the ATM again. And then he’d found the Swedish food shop, but Nino graciously agreed to treat him after Adrien had arranged a delivery of the bulkier items. Still, he had four large Ikea bags stuffed with curtains, pillows, bowls, cups, and various other home goods as he followed Nino to where the food was.

Fortunately, both boys had eaten at the restaurant upstairs, and while Adrien was still in awe over the weird swedish meatballs served with fries ( and the weird way Germans insisted on saying pommes frites ), he allowed Nino to buy him some (hopefully) delicious swedish food.

Adrien knew where this was headed, so he ordered another taxi on his app while they were in line. When they got outside, the cab was there, and they were able to put the bags in the trunk and be driven straight to Adrien’s door.

Nino complained that an integral part of going to Ikea was lugging everything onto public transit while onlookers tried to ascertain what you’d bought, but Adrien was almost positive that he was just posturing, and that he, too, was grateful for the change of pace. After all, they’d taken public transit to Ikea.

They arrived back at Adrien’s place, and made sure to put the groceries away first (and then everything he’d bought for the kitchen) before starting to set everything up.

Nino occupied himself with the gaming systems, while Adrien went upstairs and stuffed almost all of his Gabriel AGRESTE pour l’homme clothing into the wardrobe in the guest bedroom. He was sure his father would have words for him when he came to visit, but at the moment, he didn’t care. He kept a few of his favourite pieces and his shoes and then put them, along with his purchases from H&M in the wardrobe in his room.

He took down the curtains from his room and replaced them with the kitschy black cat curtains he’d bought at Ikea, and the old curtains joined the designer clothes in the guest room wardrobe. He changed the duvet cover to one he’d also bought at Ikea. He thought it had cats on it, but the black animal was difficult to discern. He didn’t care. His room wasn’t going to look like something out of a Gabriel-approved catalogue. He replaced the rug in his room with an admittedly extremely tacky lime green shag rug . He couldn’t wait for the framed prints he’d bought to arrive, too. He’d mostly bought prints of cityscapes - Paris, Berlin, and New York - but he’d also found a cute poster of kittens in a shoe.

He looked around his room and decided that that was good enough for now, without everything that was still coming. So then, he went into his bathroom and set that up. His father (or, again, more likely, Nathalie) had provided him with a cabinet for the underneath of the sink, and everything in the room looked modern. He first unpacked all of his bath products from his bag and put them away. He put his neon green , neon yellow , and neon pink bath mats in front of the shower and the bathtub. They were nice and soft and he already loved them. He’d bought a few really tacky bath towels , and put them in the cabinet with the nice, soft, expensive, and very boring towels his father had provided for him. He then set up the tackiest bathtub curtain that he’d been able to find in the store. When he was done, he assessed his work and decided that it rather looked like something a rebellious teenager would have done in the eighties, which was more than good enough for him.

He kept the guest room as his father had laid it out, save for the new additions to the wardrobe, so he grabbed the last two Ikea bags and headed downstairs to the living room. Nino was setting up the PS4, so Adrien hanged another several sets of the same cat curtains. The old curtains would join the others in the guest room wardrobe, but for now, he laid them out on the sofa. He set the soft, white throw blanket he’d bought on the sofa as well. It wasn’t nearly as tacky as anything else he’d bought, but he’d been on a roll and it had been too soft to resist. He put a throw pillow to match the curtains down next to it. The rug his father had chosen for this room wasn’t really to his tastes, but Adrien hadn’t found a better one at Ikea, so he made a mental note to find another one somewhere else later.

He’d gotten a few bean bag chairs and floor pillows, along with coverings for them, but they were going to be delivered, so, examining the room, he’d done everything he could do until the delivery came. He picked up the old curtains and ran them up to the guest room to stow them in the wardrobe, and poked his head back down into the living room.

“Uh, Nino, do you mind if I get a shower? I still feel kind of gross from the plane. Feel free to… play whatever you want, or do whatever until I get back.”

“Yeah, sure, no problem, dude,” Nino said. “It’s probably time to get out of those stuffy clothes anyway.”

Ikea had taken longer than anticipated, and when Adrien checked his phone, he was shocked to see that it was already half past four. Nino had asked the girls to come over around six. And, well, Adrien did like his long showers. And he couldn’t remember the last time he hadn’t styled his hair. He wasn’t even sure, come to think of it, that his hair would even lie flat if he didn’t style it just so.

He tossed his wallet to Nino. “I probably won’t be back down in enough time to order food, so get whatever you think is best. I don’t know what Alya likes to eat, and ask her what Marinette likes. I will literally eat anything , so don’t worry about me.”

Nino mock saluted him, putting the wallet on the coffee table. “You got it, dude.”

Adrien grinned at his friend and then headed upstairs to get a shower.

Chapter Text

Marinette made sure to change before she and Alya left to go to Adrien’s. After all, Adrien was the son of her favourite fashion designer, and Marinette wanted to make sure that he knew that she knew how to dress.

Her clothes from the morning had been comfortable, but, honestly, pretty sloppy and lazy. She hated wearing nice clothes on flights, so she’d just worn comfortable, well-coordinated, athletic wear. Tonight, she was going to wear something cute.

Alya stopped by the grocery store near their house before heading out, making sure to get a bottle of some clear alcohol she claimed would make Marinette into a real Berliner… whatever that meant.

They walked to the train station, this time, rather than take the tram, with no heavy bags to weigh them down, and Marinette had to admit… this town was cute. It was tiny, but she could get used to that.

They took the Regio to Wannsee, simply because it was coming before the S-Bahn. From there, they transferred to the S1. It really didn’t take long to get off at the stop Alya said was the right one.

They stepped out of the train into what looked like another small town. Marinette knew they were in Berlin, but it didn’t really seem like it. Fortunately, she didn’t have to wonder where they were going, because Nino was waiting for them at the platform.

She politely averted her eyes as Alya threw her arms around Nino’s neck and kissed him passionately. So they were definitely still in the honeymoon phase. But then Alya and Nino separated, and Alya waved her over.

Marinette headed over and Alya threw an arm around her. “So apparently our boy Adrien only lives a short walk away, and Nino is being gracious enough to lead the way.”

“How thoughtful of him,” Marinette said.

Nino grinned and led the way to Adrien’s apartment. It was only about three blocks away, and the trip was filled with cheerful conversation.

“Actually, it was really cool of Adrien to offer up his place tonight, because I figure this is kinda halfway between your place and mine.”

Alya furrowed her brows. “Halfway? How so? It took us an hour to get here. How long will it take you to get home?”

“Okay, fine, maybe not halfway, but better than one of us going all the way to Potsdam or Neukölln,” he said, rolling his eyes.

“I’ll give you that, but only because you’re cute,” Alya said

Marinette was only too glad to no longer be a third wheel when they arrived at Adrien’s apartment. Nino hit the buzzer by the nameplate which read “AGRESTE”.

Seconds later, Adrien’s voice asked in German, “Hello?”

“Hey dude, it’s us!” Nino responded, in French.

“Hey! Come on up!” Adrien called, buzzing them in. Nino opened the door and let the girls go up first. Adrien’s apartment door was open, and Nino walked in as if he owned the place. Then again, Marinette supposed that they were best friends.

She followed Alya into the apartment and shut the door behind her.

Adrien’s apartment, at first glance was much bigger than hers and Alya’s. There was a staircase by the door, but Nino was heading down the hall. They went into the living room, where Adrien was setting up dinner: pizza, burgers, fries, and pasta. It all seemed like a lot.

“I wasn’t sure what you wanted, and Nino ordered… well, all of this.”

Alya rolled her eyes and turned to her boyfriend. “We’re drinking, not smoking.”

“I know, I know, but Adrien and I can eat most of this on our own.”

“And I have wine, or beer, if you prefer.”

Adrien looked, really, pretty awkward. Marinette smiled at him. “I’ll take a glass of red wine, if you don’t mind.”

“What kind?” he asked.

Of course he’d have more than one kind. “Uh, Merlot?” she suggested.

Adrien grinned and nodded. “Got it. Alya? Nino?”

“Berliner Kindl,”  Nino said.[1]

Alya nodded. “Make that two.”

Adrien nodded. “Sure thing! Be right back!”

Marinette looked around the room. Gabriel Agreste, or his assistant, had clearly decorated the apartment professionally. But either Adrien or Nino had taken moves to make it seem more like a college student’s apartment. Marinette found the kitschy cat curtains strange, but endearing, which she supposed was the point.

Alya pulled the bottle she’d gotten earlier out of her bag. “I think Marinette and Adrien need to have some good old fashioned Berliner Luft, huh?”[2]

Nino grinned. “Definitely.”

“She said it will ‘make me into a real Berliner’,” Marinette added. “Whatever that means.”

“Oh, it will,” Nino said. “I’ll go grab some shot glasses.”

Marinette wasn’t sure what to do, but Alya turned to her. “So, this boy’s dad’s a fashion designer?”

Marinette nodded. “One of the best in the world!” she chirped.

“And he’s decorated his apartment like this ?”

“Oh, this is nothing,” Adrien said, reentering the room. He had two bottles of beer in one hand and two glasses of wine in the other. “You should see my room. These are my little acts of rebellion. Like draining this absurdly expensive bottle of Merlot that I’m sure my father thought was just for show.”

Alya took the two bottles of beer from Adrien, and he handed one of the glasses off to Marinette.

“Thanks,” Marinette said, taking the glass.

Nino reentered the room moments later, carrying four shot glasses. “Berliner Luft first!” he called.

Marinette put her glass of wine down on the coffee table, knowing Alya, at least, too well by this point to even try to fight it. Besides, it was just a shot of liquor.

“It’s only seventeen percent,” Alya assured Marinette and Adrien as she poured out the shots and thrust them in their hands. She and Nino took their own shots and looked expectantly at Marinette and Adrien.

Adrien looked at Marinette and smiled. “Well, might as well.”

They took the shots and Marinette was… not convinced that she wasn’t drinking mouthwash. The drink was minty and sweet and… pretty strong, all things considered. Adrien looked unfazed.

“Tastes like mouthwash,” Marinette said.

“Eh, it’ll grow on you,” Alya said dismissively. “And if you don’t like it, that’s more for the rest of us.”

“I think I’ll stick with wine,” Marinette said.

Adrien looked from Marinette to Nino. “I think I will, too, actually,” he said. “Don’t want to overdo it.”

“Suit yourselves,” Alya said, grabbing the bottle.

Marinette picked up her glass of wine again and grabbed a slice of pizza. She sat down on the couch, but then she noticed the gaming systems. “...You have a PS4, a WiiU, and an X-Box One?” she asked.

Adrien blushed and rubbed the back of his neck. “Uh, yeah. I like games a lot.”

“Got Ultimate Mecha Strike IV?” she asked.

Adrien beamed. “Of course!”

Chapter Text

Adrien couldn’t believe his luck. Not only was he hanging out with his best friend in real life , but he had two other people over his apartment, and he was getting his ass handed to him in Ultimate Mecha Strike IV by a pretty girl from Paris (which, of course, meant that if all went well, he could have a real friend at home and not just have only Chloé to do things with).

After Marinette completely handed his ass to him (complete with victory dance), she handed him another slice of pizza.

“Your consolation prize,” she explained

“You’re brutal,” he said with a laugh. But he took the slice of pizza anyway.

She raised an eyebrow. “You complaining?”

“Not in the least.” He grinned and ate his consolation prize, feeling very consoled for his part. He wasn’t very competitive with such things; he liked playing, and he, of course, wanted to win while playing, but it mattered more to him that he was having fun.

Marinette, evidently, was not of the same opinion. She continued to gloat even while stuffing pizza and fries into her mouth. She drank her merlot without any of the flourish that he was so accustomed to. And, well, it was fair to say that Adrien was entranced. She treated him like he was normal, and that was something that he’d only experienced with Nino.

It was nice. He could get used to it. Being normal. He hoped that his future classmates treated him the same way.

“So,” Alya said. “Adrien.”

“Yes?”

Alya took a swig of her beer. “Your last name’s Agreste. Wouldn’t happen to be related to Gabriel Agreste, would you?”

He should have known it wouldn’t last. This was why Chloé and Nino were the only people he could even call friends, and he didn’t even like who Chloé was most of the time. He tried his best to seem relaxed, ate another fry, and said, “He’s my father.” He took a sip of his merlot. He decided to steer the conversation away from his family, and settled on a pointed, “Your last name’s Césaire. Any relation there?”

Alya narrowed her eyes. “So the pretty boy knows his literature.”

Of course he knew his literature. But Nino had even said that his girlfriend, while born and raised in France herself, came from a Martiniquais family. And, well, a girl whose family was from the Martinique and called Césaire… “That’s not an answer to my question.”

Alya actually laughed . “Man, yeah, sure. My dad’s related to Aimé Césaire somewhere back there. I mean… it’s not exactly a common surname, right? But you’re one of the few to make the connection. Especially for a metropolitan.”[1]

“Trust me, my father made sure I was as well educated as any home schooled kid could possibly be. That included reading Césaire, but he balanced it out with Confiant in the same lesson.” [2] After all, France wasn’t the only French-speaking country in the world, and Gabriel had drawn from the literary canon of former French colonies (and current French overseas departments) for his son’s literature lessons before Adrien had been able to read books in Chinese, Italian, and German.

Alya grinned. “That sounds like a recipe for whiplash.”

“It wasn’t so bad. Just Ravines du devant-jour . Could’ve been worse.” He left out the fact that he’d been eleven years old at the time, and that much of the latter book had gone over his head until he’d reread it in university.

“But back to your dad.”

Adrien shrugged. This again. Maybe if he played it directly, he wouldn’t have to deal with a painful series of awkward questions and disappointing answers. “What about him? He’s emotionally distant, controlling, and expects me to be perfect. He’s convinced that my studying physics is a stupid little phase that I’ll grow out of and then get my MBA and follow in his footsteps.” He started on another slice of pizza. “He’d have a heart attack if he saw what I was eating right now.”

“But that’s terrible,” Marinette said from beside him. “My parents have never been anything but supportive of my dreams.”

“I’m his only child and he wants to create a fashion empire,” Adrien said between bites of pizza. He washed it down with wine.

I’m an only child, and I’m sure my parents would love it if I took over their bakery, but they would never pressure me to do something that I didn’t want in the first place.”

“Your parents are far more considerate than my father, it would seem.” Adrien really wasn’t particularly concerned about it for the time being. He was sure it’d be a nightmare when he got back to Paris, but that was in a year. “He even wants me to come back once a month for a photoshoot, but I get paid for those into my own account, so I don’t mind too much.”

He looked over to Marinette, who looked nothing short of absolutely horrified. He looked over to Alya, whose expression wasn’t much better. Nino had known all of this, of course, but even he looked uncomfortable.

“Look, the way I see it, he can either accept who I am, or he can disinherit me,” Adrien said, sounding much more confident than he actually felt. It had to be the company. Having friends (or, well, one friend and two… sort-of-friends) did much for his self-esteem. “I’ll get a job.”

“You can always crash with me if your dad does anything stupid,” Nino assured him.

“Thanks, man,” he said. “You’ll all probably get to meet him at some point. I’m sure he’ll stop by for a visit unannounced and be annoyed that I have friends.” He took another sip of his wine. “He’ll probably like Marinette though.”

Marinette furrowed her brows. “Why me?”

“You go to ESMOD. He’d probably be thrilled that I’m associating with people who have sympathetic career paths to him. But then… who knows? My father might be convinced that since your family owns a bakery that you’re just using me to get to him.” In fact, he was sure that his father would be suspicious of that, but… he was also pretty sure that once Gabriel had ascertained that Marinette was not using Adrien, he’d like her more than Nino or Chloé. Not that those were crowing achievements, but it’d be better than anything he’d managed so far.

“I wouldn’t do that! If I wanted someone as a professional contact, I would tell them that specifically.”

Adrien shrugged. He didn’t like this topic, and he wanted to steer the conversation into something more comfortable. He settled for a very overt, “Rematch?”

“What?”

“Ultimate Mecha Strike IV. Rematch?” 

Marinette met his gaze and grinned. “You’re on. But don’t come crying to me when you lose again.”

Chapter Text

It was late. Marinette yawned. Alya and Nino were all over each other. Adrien looked to her. “Is this… is this normal? For them?”

Marinette shrugged. “I dunno. I haven’t really seen them together before today. Maybe? At least for Alya.”

Adrien leaned in, face flushed, to whisper into Marinette’s ear. “You know, she’s Nino’s first real girlfriend.” His breath was hot on her ear, and Marinette felt her stomach flip uncomfortably. She told herself that it was the words. She was an adult. She wasn’t going to have another stupid crush that she couldn’t control like she’d had in collège.

Even if Adrien Agreste had turned out to be exceptionally kind, and dorky, and was particularly gifted at making her smile.

She whispered back, “What do you mean ‘real girlfriend’?”

Adrien shrugged. “I think he had, like, a girlfriend when he was like, fifteen, who asked him out and kissed him on the lips exactly once before he panicked. Which I only know about because he complained to me when it happened. Not that it happened, but that he reacted badly. I’m drunk,” he added, as if it weren’t obvious. “That Château Pétrus was really good .” [1]

She knew that had to be the name of the wine. “You’re a lightweight,” she teased.

“Probably,” he admitted, face still flushed. “I’ve always been on a strict regimen. Father wouldn’t let me have more than a glass at a time, and I’ve had three.”

He was, Marinette realised with a start, absolutely beautiful. Of course, he was a model – he was supposed to be beautiful. But she’d seen his ads all over Paris, and she had to ask herself how much work the retouchers even had to do for them. She’d never seen the light freckles on the bridge of his nose on an ad, so she supposed those were usually taken care of with makeup or after the shoot itself, but besides that… she wasn’t sure the guy had a visible flaw.

She realised that she was staring and hoped that he didn’t realise that, too. “Y-you should drink some water. Wine is very talented at giving people hangovers.”

“Oh,” Adrien said. “Right.” He went to get up, but then he stopped and turned back to her. “You should spend the night.”

Marinette felt her stomach flip. “What,” she said. He didn’t mean it like that , right? He was so nice .

“You’re drunk, too. And, I mean, yeah, sure, you can probably get home on your own, but Alya said you live an hour away, and, I have a guest room!”

“I have a feeling Alya and Nino want to use it,” she said before she could stop herself.

Adrien made a face. “No. No way.” They both looked over at their friends. Alya was in Nino’s lap, legs wrapped around his waist, and they were having a very sloppy makeout session.

“I hope this doesn’t happen every time they drink,” Marinette said. She liked Adrien – and she loved kicking his ass at every video game they tried, especially since he was such a good sport about it – but there was a difference between liking hanging out with Adrien and watching her best friend attempt to suck a guy’s face off . The latter, Marinette was sure, would never be on her list of fun ways to spend a Saturday night.

“Me, too.”

“I live with her. Our rooms are only separated by the bathroom.”

Adrien winced. “That’s not good.”

“Yeah, hopefully they’re just constantly at Nino’s, and we don’t have to… deal with this.”

“Although,” Adrien said, “It would be kind of a good, preemptive revenge if they had sex in the bed my father is going to sleep in when he visits.”

Marinette laughed. “You think?”

Adrien grinned and leaned in toward her again. “I think the best revenge was throwing all of the Gabriel AGRESTE pour l’homme collection he had packed for me into the guest room wardrobe, and buying all new clothes from H&M,” he whispered conspiratorially. “My father would be annoyed if he found out my friends had sex in the guest room, but his son not wearing his clothes, and instead opting for cheap, mass-produced clothes instead… he’d be apoplectic.”

Marinette frowned. “When I have kids,” she said, and that’s when she realised that Adrien was right; she was drunk, but she continued anyway, “it doesn’t matter how successful I am at designing clothes. They’ll be allowed to wear whatever they want. Well, as long as it’s age-appropriate.”

“That’s what I think, too,” Adrien said. He went to get up again, but stopped on the way out of the room. “Seriously, you should spend the night. We’re all drunk.”

“What about Alya and Nino?”

Adrien hesitated. He really clearly hadn’t thought of that. “Okay, so… they can sleep in the guest room, you take my room, and I’ll take the couch.”

“I’m not letting you take the couch,” Marinette said. Granted, it was more comfortable than any couch she’d ever sat on before, but that was beside the point. “You’re like… almost two meters tall! I’m short.”

Adrien’s lips curled in a smile. “I’m not almost two meters tall,” he said. “I’m one-point-eight-five meters tall.”[2]

“Because those last fifteen centimeters are all the difference in the world. Your feet will still hang off of the couch. Mine won’t, see?” And to prove her point, Marinette lay down on the couch. She fit relatively comfortably – she was sure she was more comfortable than Adrien would be, anyway.

Adrien pursed his lips, clearly thinking. “All right. You’re stubborn, and I’m not going to argue with you. If you want the couch, you can take it. I have extra bedding upstairs, so you’re using that. And if you sleep on the couch… I get to take us out to breakfast in the morning.”

Marinette considered it. “Deal. But drink some water.”

“I keep trying to go to the kitchen, but you’re dead-set on distracting me.” He was smiling, so Marinette was pretty sure that he was joking, but she waved him off.

“Go drink some water, then.”

Adrien grinned and left the room, returning moments later with two bottles of water. He wordlessly handed the second one to her and sat down next to her on the couch.

“So I take it you’ve heard of my father,” he said.

Marinette nearly choked on her water. “U-um, w-well, I go to ESMOD, and he’s… one of the most popular designers around right now…”

Adrien didn’t look offended. “It’s fine. You recognised me, too.”

She nodded. Might as well admit it, right? “But I don’t… care about models. I mean–! That came out wrong! I’m not really into models! Like, I know some people get super into them and try to convince themselves they know them, but for me… it’s more about what they’re wearing. So like, I recognised you, sure, but I didn’t… collect your magazine articles, or anything.”[3]

Adrien nodded, seeming to accept this as a response. “I’ve been modelling since I was a kid,” he said. “And… honestly, it’s always been kind of hard to find people who are willing to see… beyond that. I was homeschooled, and talking my dad into letting me go to university, let alone to study physics, was a huge struggle. And, well… you live in Paris…” He shrugged and looked down at his hands.

Marinette thought she knew where he was going with that. His face was plastered all over Paris. Every Parisian would recognise him on sight. And, well… generally speaking, people didn’t have the highest opinions of models. “W-well, you seem nice, and Alya’s my best friend and I trust her judgement, and she trusts Nino’s judgement, and he’s your friend,” she managed.

He smiled at her and she thought her heart would explode. “Um, honestly, I haven’t… I’m kind of new to this whole… friendship thing.” He took a sip of his water and averted his gaze.

But he was her age, wasn’t he? At least. And he seemed perfectly nice, if not dorky with very tacky tastes. But being a dork was no reason not to have friends. “Oh,” she said. What else could she say?

“So I… really appreciate you… y’know, treating me like a normal person.” He looked back over at her with a gentle, grateful smile, and she swore her heart skipped a beat. She felt her face flush.

“O-of course!” she said. “You are a normal person.” He was rich, moderately famous, and absolutely beautiful, but… well, he also was clearly a major dork who loved playing video games. She supposed that levelled out to “normal”.

He smiled, and in that moment, Marinette knew that this boy would be the death of her.[4]

Why the hell did she have to go and within a day develop a crush on Alya’s boyfriend’s best friend? She’d probably see him constantly . And she was sure that someone as beautiful (and apparently as smart) as he was would never want to date her. Friendship, sure, but… well, Marinette wasn’t under any illusions that she was a catch.

Adrien finished his bottle of water and stood up. He nudged Nino with his foot. “You two can sleep in the guest room, but the sheets, I’m sure, are dry clean only, so have sex at the expense of that laundry bill.”

They pulled apart, looking dazed, drunk, and slightly ashamed. Adrien turned back to Marinette. “Why don’t you come upstairs and I can get you the sheets and stuff?”

She nodded and followed him. His bedroom was upstairs, down a small corridor, and to the right.

He’d been right, earlier. It seemed as if he’d taken half of the tackiest and kitschiest things Ikea sold and stuffed them into the (otherwise very tastefully decorated) room. She noticed that he had the same cat curtains in here as he’d had downstairs. Adrien went over to a wardrobe and threw it open. “So I don’t think my father anticipated me having anyone else sleeping over, so you can grab either of the pillows off of my bed and use one of those. But I have extra sheets and an extra duvet.”

Marinette hesitantly took one of the pillows off of the bed. It was much larger than her own pillows; she supposed it was a German style pillow.[5] Adrien dug some sheets, a duvet, and a duvet cover out of the wardrobe, and turned to her. “You need anything else?”

She felt herself flush again. “N-no. I think this is more than fine, thanks.”

He grinned. “Great. I’ll help you set up!”

She followed him back downstairs and watched him try to fit the sheet onto the couch before struggling with the duvet cover.

“I wasn’t allowed to do this a lot at home,” Adrien explained as he finally, successfully, put the duvet cover on the duvet and buttoned it up. Wasn’t allowed to? Marinette found herself wondering, not for the first time that night, just what kind of household this (beautiful, kind, dorky, wonderful) boy had grown up in.

Adrien draped the duvet over the couch, and Marinette put the pillow down.

Alya and Nino were still, somehow, making out. Marinette didn’t know how that was possible, but she knew how to deal with Alya.

“Alya,” she said in a singsong voice. “If you don’t go to bed right now, I’ll tell everyone about Lady Wifi .”[6]

It took a second, but Alya slowly pulled away from Nino. “Um. Let’s… let’s go upstairs, Nino.”

Adrien looked at them and then back to Marinette. “I should make sure they go into the guest room. I’ll lock up, too, so just… make yourself at home.”

Marinette smiled and nodded, and turned off the lights and settled into her makeshift bed on the couch. She heard Alya and Nino’s heavy, drunken footsteps upstairs, and then realised, belatedly, that if Adrien’s room was on the other side of the apartment… then the guest room probably was right above the living room… where she was currently trying to sleep.

Chapter Text

He woke up with the sunlight streaming through the curtains that he had, oh so brilliantly, forgotten to close the night before. He didn’t think he had a hangover, although his mouth felt rather dry, but then he’d never even been drunk before, so who was he to know what a hangover was like? He decided to go to the bathroom, get a glass of water, and shower.

After his shower, for the first time in years, he decided not to put any product into his hair. Of course, he still followed his usual skincare routine – he had no idea if he was actually prone to acne and had no intention of finding out by messing with something his dermatologist had tailored personally to him – but even just leaving his hair after running a comb through it, not worrying about product, felt liberating.

And if his hair ended up looking terrible when it dried, he could always shower again and fix it.

He wrapped himself in a towel, stuffed the dirty clothes in the hamper, and went back to his room. He decided to wear one of his outfits from H&M: black skinny jeans, a black slim fit v-neck, and a green zip-up hoodie. Feeling good about himself, he headed downstairs.

He checked his phone as he went into the kitchen. It was still early enough, only ten in the morning, but Adrien set a kettle to brew anyway. He doubted that anyone else would be up yet. He didn’t know how late they’d been up last night, but Alya and Nino were almost certainly hungover. He scrounged up some tea from his cabinet. Gabriel had, of course, provided him with some ridiculously fancy blend, but Adrien wasn’t particular.

It wasn’t until the kettle started whistling that he remembered that Marinette was asleep on the couch. He hurried to turn it off as quickly as possible, and brewed a mug of tea, feeling for all the world like a giant idiot.

He hesitated for a moment before deciding to sit in the dining room. He figured there he would be able to avoid disturbing anyone, and he could also check into his status on Star Wars Galaxy of Heroes. After all, mobile apps were always a good way to kill time; he’d learned that on photoshoots.

After about ten minutes, he heard a cautious knock on the doorframe. He hit the pause button in the corner so he didn’t lose his current battle and looked up to see Marinette looking slightly awkward. “Good morning,” she said. “I folded up all of the sheets and everything, but I didn’t know where to put them.”

“Oh, it’s fine. You didn’t even need to do that,” he said. “Thank you.”

“So you mentioned breakfast?” she asked.

He smiled. “Yeah. Uh. Why don’t we… see if Alya and Nino are up, and if not… we can just bring them back something?”

Marinette smiled. “That sounds great.”

She thought that sounded great! Spending time with him alone! So he did have a new friend, or at least one in the making, and he had only been in Berlin for twenty-four hours! He was pretty sure that that was some kind of new record for him.

“Uh, I just… I’ll go see if they’re up.” He pocketed his phone, smiled at Marinette, and headed upstairs. He poked his head into the guest room. Alya and Nino were lying on the bed, both, fortunately, fully clothed, but both very obviously asleep. Still. “Marinette and I are going to get breakfast,” he said at a lower than normal volume. No response. So he closed the door, texted Nino, and went back downstairs.

Marinette was sitting in the living room, looking slightly uncomfortable.

“You ready to go?”

She nodded. “Do you have any idea what there is to eat around here, or are we just going to walk around until we find something?”

She had a point. He knew he didn’t live far from the high street, but come to think of it, he really didn’t remember what kinds of restaurants were around there, or when they opened. So he pulled out his phone. “Why don’t I check?”

He googled “restaurant” in the area, and narrowed it down by places which were already open. One in particular caught his eye. “Have you ever had American food?”

Her eyes widened. “American food?”

“Apparently there’s an American restaurant nearby.” [1] And American food would be just the greasy, unhealthy kind of food that he was craving. He knew he needed to make sure not to gain a lot of weight - his father would notice, and besides that, his clothes needed to fit, especially since he was only modeling on some weekends now. He didn’t really have time to postpone a shoot to have the clothing tailored. But still.

Marinette didn’t look anywhere near as excited as he felt, but he decided to attribute that to fatigue and a possible hangover. “That sounds like it could be interesting.”

“Right? Plus, it’ll be a good opportunity to practise our German!” He was excited about the prospect. He knew his German was good; he had a talent for languages and seemed to be, at least if you asked him, one of the few French people he knew who didn’t have a blatantly obvious accent when he spoke another language. Not that he thought there was anything wrong in having a French accent - better that than American - but if he were honest, he wanted to try to pass as an actual German.[2] At least in front of other foreigners. Germans would probably know, anyway. [3]

Marinette nodded. “Okay. Yeah, that’s probably a good idea. I haven’t even met my other roommate yet, but I’m… pretty sure Alya only speaks German in class. Practising is probably a good idea.”

Adrien couldn’t help but smile. “Shall we go? I’m sure we can get take home boxes for Nino and Alya. Besides… they definitely have hangovers.”

“Oh, I’m sure,” Marinette said with a small smile.

He told himself, of course, that the twinge he felt at her smile was purely platonic. That he was just thrilled to have a new friend. But, really, if he were honest with himself, he knew that it was more than that. Marinette was, really, very pretty, and she treated him like he was normal , even though he knew she loved his father’s work. Really, Adrien thought, his luck was about to turn around. Or, well, stay turned around.

Chapter Text

If you had told Marinette even two days ago that she’d be going to breakfast on her first full day in Germany with a model whose face was plastered on half of the billboards in Paris, she’d have told you that you were insane. And yet, there she was, walking down Teltower Damm, laughing at some dumb joke he’d made.

Adrien Agreste was absolutely beautiful, which she’d known before meeting him, but he was also smart, and funny, and kind, and Marinette was still trying to convince herself that she didn’t have a crush on someone so obviously out of her league. Besides, while she didn’t want to use him as a professional contact, she really didn’t want the son of her favourite designer, the most powerful man in the Parisian fashion scene at the moment, to think she was a creepy stalker, or anything remotely like that. She didn’t think he seemed like the type to complain to his father about her and ruin her career, despite all of her hard work, but you never knew. So she tried to keep it under control, and convince herself that this was just some stupid passing crush.

He was hot, after all. It was perfectly natural to get crushes on hot guys, especially ones as nice as Adrien. She just needed to make sure that it went away.

They made it to the restaurant, and Marinette realised with a sinking feeling that the restaurant was themed like a terrible American diner. It was the kind of thing that people made to draw in tourists - although there didn’t seem to be any tourists in this neighbourhood.

“Zehlendorf was in the American sector,” Adrien said at her questioning look.[1] “So I think that’s why this is here. It looks touristy, though, doesn’t it? We don’t have to eat here if you don’t want to.”

She was hungry, and well… the decor wasn’t too off-putting. “It’s fine,” she assured him with a smile. “If this was the American sector, then it’s probably pretty authentic.”

He smiled, and his green eyes absolutely glowed. “Great!” he exclaimed. He opened the door for her, he actually opened the door for her. Why was he making things worse?

She smiled back at him, trying to remind herself that Erasmus relationships never lasted, and a fling gone south with Adrien Agreste of all people was the last thing she needed. They were seated in a small, red vinyl booth and began looking over the menu.

“I want everything. My PT is going to kill me.”

“PT?” she asked, furrowing her brows. She wasn’t quite sure what he meant by that, and with someone from as good a family as Adrien, it could be anything.

“Personal trainer,” he said, rolling his eyes. “I’m a model; I’ve got to be kept in tip-top shape.”

“Do you like it?” she asked. “Modelling?” He certainly didn’t seem to if you asked her, but then, she reasoned, maybe he was just excited to be here and didn’t want to think of anything that reminded him of home. Maybe.

He shrugged. “I mean, it’s not a hard job, and it pays really well, and like, I’ll probably keep it up for a while. Models don’t generally tend to have super long careers, anyway, so if I quit after I’m done school and get a job I love… well, I dunno. My dad might cut me off if I decide, in the end, not to inherit his business. Which seems likely, all things considered.”

“Really?” she asked. It certainly didn’t sound like he liked it, and Gabriel Agreste’s ambitions aside, shouldn’t his son’s happiness be more important than passing on his house to his son?

“I mean,” Adrien said, “I… I don’t think he’d let me die.” He didn’t sound convinced though, which worried her. “But I know just getting him to let me study physics was a fight, so… if I told him I want to be a physics teacher, he may well cut me off completely.”

“You want to be a physics teacher?” she asked.

“I know, the model is smart. The horror.”

She frowned. “Plenty of people are intelligent and attractive. Lots of actors, at least, have postsecondary degrees.”

He furrowed his brows. “Name one.”

“Natalie Portman? I think she has an advanced degree; I remember reading that somewhere.” She pulled out her phone and looked it up. “Yeah, she apparently even published as an undergraduate student. And Emma Watson went to some top American school.”

He scoffed. “Maybe I can get her to model in one of my dad’s show and ask her at the afterparty to convince him that teaching is a valuable field. I could just see my father’s reaction now.” He smirked before fixing a mock stern expression on his face. “‘Where do these actresses get off thinking that they know anything about the fashion industry?!’” He grinned. “Although, to be fair, with that Beauty and the Beast fiasco…”

Marinette groaned and buried her face in her hands. “Don’t remind me. Glitter glue. Not even… it looked like a children’s costume! A bad children’s costume!” [2]

“Yeah, come to think of it… I could sell my soul to my father’s company and he’d still never let Emma Watson model in one of his shows even if it were my dying wish. Not with that.”

Marinette giggled. “Yeah, I think that demonstrates pretty well that she doesn’t know much about fashion.”

The server came over to their table and Marinette realised she hadn’t really looked clearly at the menu. She blushed and ordered a cup of coffee to stall, and Adrien did the same.

She scanned the menu and looked over at Adrien. “Do you know what any of this tastes like?”

“You’ve never been to an American restaurant?” he teased.

“I know, there have to be some in Paris, but I prefer to avoid places packed with tourists.”

He smiled. “Which arrondissement do you live in?” he asked.

“Fifth,” she answered. “Actually… my house is right across the river from Notre Dame de Paris. So my parents’ bakery gets a lot of tourists. It’s okay, I mean, they do pay for our livelihood, and it helps us all keep up decent English, but… on my free time, I don’t exactly want to go somewhere packed with tourists.”

“Yeah, I get that,” he said. He flipped through the menu. “It looks like it’s just… normal food.” He stopped on one of the back pages. “They have pancakes. We have to get pancakes. One time, when I was in New York, my room service had pancakes and I ate so much.”

She smiled at his enthusiasm. “Sure,” she said. God, okay, he was adorable and dorky and hot and she was doomed. Marinette was completely, and totally doomed.

Chapter Text

Adrien honestly couldn’t remember the last time he’d eaten in a normal restaurant like a normal person. His days had always been perfectly scheduled, down to the last minute, and he’d learned during his “rebellious” teenage years that any sneaking off would not be tolerated. He repressed a shudder at the memory of his father’s reaction to that nice old man dressed up as Santa Claus who had brought him home when he’d run away on the first Christmas since his mother had died.

Suffice to say, he couldn’t remember ever eating in a normal, non exclusive restaurant, much less alongside friends. Well. Alongside one friend. While another friend (two other friends?) were sleeping off a hangover at is apartment.

He and Marinette ordered the pancakes, and he also ordered an omelette, because, well, he was hungry, and it sounded delicious . His PT really was going to kill him, but, god, it was worth it. His first bite of the pancake only confirmed his suspicions. He must have made a funny face, because Marinette stifled a giggle.

“That good?” she asked.

“Mmhmm!” he hummed. He made sure to chew and swallow his food before answering; certain things his father had impressed upon him were, after all, pretty good in the grand scheme of things, and not speaking with a mouth full of food was definitely one of those few good things. “ So good!” He tried the omelette, too, and it was just as delicious. He washed it down with a sip of coffee. “This was such a good decision, don’t you think?” he asked.

Marinette nodded, and responded with a cheerful “yeah!” once she’d washed her own pancake down with coffee.

“Man, I might just have to learn how to make this stuff,” he said.

“Do you cook?” she asked.

He shook his head. The thought was almost laughable. “My family has a personal chef. I was just lucky that he was nice enough to not say anything about my sneaking into the kitchen for midnight snacks. Cooking practise, though, definitely wouldn’t have been something he’d have been able to hide from my father.”

Marinette frowned. “Like I said, my parents own a bakery, and they’ve been teaching me to cook since, well, before I was really old enough, honestly.”

“That’s really cool!” he exclaimed, eyes wide. He couldn’t imagine having a close enough relationship to his father for something like that. But, of course, he knew better than to voice that. “I really want to learn how to cook.”

“I… I could help teach you sometime, if you want,” Marinette said, cheeks tinged pink. 

He couldn’t help but grin. “That’d be great; thanks, Marinette! You’re too kind!”

“Cooking is an essential life skill,” she said. “You need to be able to cook something .”

He nodded. “I’d like to learn.”

For a moment, unbidden, he imagine Marinette’s life at home. He barely knew her, but she spoke highly of her parents, and it was impossible for him to miss the affection in her eyes when she mentioned them. She’d probably had chores, and she’d definitely gone to public school (Alya had, at least, and Nino had said that Marinette and Alya were friends from school). He’d have done anything for that kind of a life when he was growing up. After his mother had died… well… he didn’t like to dwell on that.

“...What about when you go back? Do you think your dad will let you cook?”

Adrien shrugged. “I don’t know. Probably not, but maybe I’ll impress him.” He doubted that very much, though. But maybe he’d manage to get an apartment somewhere in Paris. He had a savings account in his name. Or… maybe he could even just stay in Berlin. It seemed nice, so far, and his father not living nearby was a definite plus. But this wasn’t the time to think of such things. If his father supported him through his education… well, Adrien would figure out the rest when he got there. Maybe, hopefully, in that time, Gabriel would have a change of heart. But Adrien had never been so lucky. “This food’s really good, though!”

Marinette hesitated, but then nodded. She didn’t really seem to know how to act around him, which, really, was fair because Adrien himself had no idea what he was doing. Actual friends that he liked in a certain physical proximity had never been anything he’d had much experience with.

Well, maybe Chloé wasn’t so bad when they were alone together and she dropped that ridiculous act of hers, but… she was mean to virtually everyone , save Adrien and… well, his father and Chloé’s father. She was mean to service staff, to Nathalie (and while Adrien may get annoyed at Nathalie from time to time, or resent her position as conduit to his own father, he couldn’t pretend to believe that Nathalie was a terrible person; she was simply an overworked personal assistant who had a soft spot for him), and even to Sabrina, who was supposed to be Chloé’s best friend.

At the very least, Chloé was… well she was he friend, he supposed, and she was in Paris. And whenever he was actually upset, and not just being melodramatic, she would help him through his issues. And when he was just being melodramatic, she’d tell him to cut the bullshit.

Huh. Maybe distance really did make you like people more. He wondered if a year away would help mend his relationship with his father. There was a ridiculous thought.

He and Marinette finished their breakfast in a comfortable mostly-silence, and then he ordered a milkshake (she got a coffee) while they waited for their take-home order to Nino and Alya. Once that was brought out, he paid the bill himself, although Marinette huffed at that, and left the waitress a generous tip before walking back to his apartment with Marinette.

When they reached his apartment, she held the food while he unlocked the door, and they ascended the stairs together. Inside, Nino and Alya were awake and actually cleaning up what was left of the mess from the night before.

“You guys didn’t have to do that,” he said, feeling awkward.

Alya rolled her eyes and Nino walked over to him and clasped his shoulder. “Dude, we’re your friends. Friends help each other out, right?”

“Right,” he said, “But my father’s hired a cleaning service; you really don’t have to do that.”

“We’re not scrubbing the floors, or anything,” Alya said, rolling her eyes.

“We brought you breakfast!” Marinette said suddenly. “Well, Adrien bought it, but we brought it back.” She held out the bag.

“Great!” Alya chirped. “I’m starving. Nino wouldn’t let me eat anything this morning.”

“We bought very specific food that Adrien needs to at least get a chance at trying,” Nino said, defending himself.

Alya rolled her eyes and turned to Adrien. “Thanks, pretty boy.”

“...Are you just going to keep calling me that no matter what?” he asked.

“Only if you fight it. I’m sure I’ll come up with a better nickname once I get to know you better. But if you fight it, pretty boy stays.”

He fought back a smile. “Got it.” She wanted to get to know him.

He had friends .

Chapter Text

Marinette had known that her first semester in Berlin, particularly, would be intense. It was ESMOD; it wasn’t a break or a blow-off. Her classes started in October, and two weeks into the semester, she had begun to regret living with Alya.

Well, that wasn’t entirely true. She loved living with Alya. She’d begun to regret living in Potsdam. Nino was right. It was far .

So, maybe sometimes, she found herself taking a break at Adrien’s apartment. He’d encouraged it, honestly! It had been his idea! They’d been out for coffee, all four of them, and Alya had commented how run down Marinette always was, with a hard nudge at Nino, who’d cried out in mock-pain (or maybe it was real pain; Alya was strong ), and said, “What do you want me to do? You’ve been to my apartment! I have one bed, and I’m stuck in Potsdam most of the week, anyway.”

Then Adrien had apparently gotten the hint (because Marinette knew it had really been directed at Adrien), and said, “If you wanna hang out at my apartment, that would be fine! I want another rematch on Ultimate Mecha Strike IV, anyway. And if you wanna take a nap, or something, that’d be fine, too.”

Marinette had thanked him for his graciousness and taken him up on his offer, but she hadn’t expected him to hand her a spare key.

So she’d been spending a lot of time at Adrien’s apartment, with or without him there.

And speaking of Adrien, Marinette was now entirely sure that she had a gigantic crush on him, and she… wasn’t sure that he didn’t feel the same way. At least, he always seemed to go out of the way to be nice to her. But was he being nice to her because he liked her or because he was just nice ? Because he was really nice . Alya suggested that it could be both. Marinette wasn’t so sure.

One day, she was relaxing at Adrien’s apartment between classes – she’d had a four hour gap between two classes due to bad planning, and so she often found herself at Adrien’s on Tuesdays… without Adrien, who had classes back to back during her gap.

But it was fine. She’d begun to let herself feel more at home at Adrien’s, and she was playing FIFA 17 when she heard the door open and shut. She paused the game. Adrien wasn’t due to be back yet, was he?

But then she heard, “Put my things in the back room,” stated by someone who definitely was not Adrien . Because Marinette knew that voice. She texted Adrien as quietly as possible.

Messages with Adrien A.

Marinette: I know you’re in a lecture right now but you need to come back bc your dad is HERE and i am IN THE APARTMENT!!!!!!

Seconds later, she received a response. Well, a series of responses.

Messages with Adrien A.

Adrien: Oh. Shit. Shit. Shit.

Adrien: Must be a surprise visit.

Adrien: Does he know you’re there?.

Adrien: If he finds you tell him the truth. He can smell lies.

Marinette thought that was strange, but texted back.

Messages with Adrien A.

Marinette: Okay, and no he doesn’t know I’m here.

Adrien: I’m leaving now. Be there ASAP.

Adrien: But honestly you probably stand a better chance without me there. Don’t think he likes me much.

Marinette wasn’t convinced of that; after all, Adrien’s father was his father , but she knew that the longer she stayed quiet, the longer there’d be an issue. Especially since she’d paused her game. “Hello?” she called, hoping her voice stayed steady and didn’t betray her nervousness. “Is that you, Adrien?”

She set the controller down and peeked out of the living room to see Gabriel Agreste making his way to the room, looking impassive. “Who are you?” he asked.

“M-Marinette Dupain-Cheng, sir. I’m a friend of Adrien’s. I go to ESMOD but I live in Potsdam and on Tuesdays I have a four hour break between classes so he lets me come over to play video games and relax a little.”

She thought the corners of his mouth turned down ever so slightly. “I see. And where is my son?”

“He’s on his way over.” She didn’t mention that he’d left class, or that she’d texted him.

“And you study fashion?”

She nodded. “Yes, sir.”

“How do you know my son?”

“M-my best friend and roommate, Alya, is dating Adrien’s friend Nino. They introduced us, especially since I go to school in Berlin and we’re both from Paris so they thought we would have things in common.”

“Nino…” He turned his head and called down the hall. “Nathalie, who is Nino?”

“Adrien’s friend from la Réunion, sir. They play video games together.”

Now that was a look of disgust on Gabriel Agreste’s face. “Oh. Him.” He turned to Marinette. “Do you know who I am?”

“Of course I do, sir; you’re Gabriel Agreste.”

“And did you know who Adrien was when you met him?”

Marinette tried to stay calm, and nodded. Adrien said he could smell lies, and she didn’t want to test it. “O-of course I did, sir. His face is on every other billboard in Paris. But that’s not… that’s not why I’m friends with him! He’s really nice, and smart, and kind, and he’s not arrogant and he treats people well, and… he’s a good person,” she finished simply, feeling awful. “A-and besides that, I would never use someone as a contact without their express knowledge and consent. Adrien and I are friends, and, all due respect, sir, I don’t want my friendship with him to boost my career. That’s not why I’m friends with him, and I wouldn’t feel right about it, even if he were the one to offer it up.” Which, Marinette realised, he very well might. Adrien was incredibly kind.

“I see…”

He didn’t look like he saw. He didn’t look like he understood at all.

“I want my work to stand on my own. I want the connections I make to be strategic and purposeful; I don’t want to use a friendship to get things out of my friend.”

A dark-haired woman in a stylish suit came up behind Gabriel. “Miss Dupain-Cheng won several of your teen competitions before she entered university, sir,” she said, handing him an iPad.

Adrien had to have texted her. He had to have . And while it was true that Marinette had won two of Gabriel Agreste’s competitions when she’d been younger, she wasn’t sure that that helped her case.

Gabriel looked over the images on the iPad. “I see. Yes, I remember the feather bowler. Adrien was allergic. It caused problems at the photoshoot.”

Marinette blushed. “I’m sorry!” She’d completely forgotten that Adrien had modelled that; what kind of happenstance was it now that they were friends?

“Don’t apologise. I’ve never met another model allergic to feathers .” He handed the iPad back to Nathalie. “Of course, you understand that any further progress with my company will be based upon your own merits. Any of Adrien’s suggestions will be ignored.”

“Of course, sir,” she said.

“It’s good to see that Adrien has some taste in friends. Between that awful Bourgeois girl and… was in Mimo?”

“Nino, sir,” Nathalie supplied.

“Yes, him. Between those two… my son could use a positive influence.”

“I, uh, thank you, sir,” Marinette said. She knew she really ought to defend Nino, but while she didn’t intend on exploiting her friendship with Adrien for her own gain, she also knew that Gabriel Agreste could and would ruin her entire career if he so wished. She also bit back her curiosity about this other girl. Adrien had never mentioned another friend, let alone a girl. Maybe he had a girlfriend?

“But don’t think that I won’t be keeping an eye on you, or your work. Nathalie, call ESMOD Berlin.” Oh, no, no, no. Gabriel Agreste was going to monitor her work. Marinette forced herself to keep smiling. “You can go back to… whatever it is you were doing.” He looked over her shoulder into the living room. “Video games. It seems you really are Adrien’s friend.”

“Y-yes sir. Um, it was nice to meet you, sir.” She extended her hand.

Gabriel eyed it before crushing it in an extremely firm handshake. “Yes,” he said, before turning around and going upstairs.

Nathalie followed him.

Marinette, unsure if this whole encounter had just been a dream, went back to finish playing FIFA.

Chapter Text

Adrien loved his classes. No one he’d met besides Marinette and Alya even seemed to have the vaguest idea of who he was! He was just a physics major! It was great! And the work was par the course, and his German was good enough that he wasn’t struggling at all. He loved it .

Of course, as promised, he’d flown back for a modelling shoot in mid-October, but it hadn’t been too bad. It was with a photographer he liked, and he got to work with another model that he’d worked with a lot in the past. Considering what he’d been expecting his father to arrange given everything, Adrien considered it a net win.

His classes were really interesting, too! He was taking an optics class, an astrophysics class, and a class on nuclear and elementary particles on top of math classes and his Chinese and Italian language classes. And he saw how Nino had to kind of force interest (at least in the topics covered in the courses themselves), but Adrien loved it. It was a lot of work, but he was used to having a lot more to do to occupy his time.

However… as much as he loved physics, he wasn’t getting much (if anything) out of his Chinese class. Admittedly, Nino had taken him out the night before the placement test, and Adrien felt as if he were at a lower level than he should be at. So he couldn’t be blamed for slacking off there. Or in Italian, where he, really, had the same issue. At least Italian was in Dahlem. He’d had to go to Humboldt in Mitte to get a Chinese class.

Fortunately, really, he had just sat down in his Italian class when Marinette had texted him.

 

Messages with Marinette

Marinette: I know you’re in a lecture right now but you need to come back bc your dad is HERE and i am IN THE APARTMENT!!!!!!

Adrien almost dropped his phone in shock. Shit, shit, shit. He hadn’t anticipated his father doing a surprise visit so soon! He texted Marinette back hurriedly.

 

Messages with Marinette

Adrien: Oh. Shit. Shit. Shit.

Adrien: Must be a surprise visit.

Wait, shit, Marinette was in his apartment, alone. Fuck.

 

Messages with Marinette

Adrien: Does he know you’re there?

Adrien: If he finds you tell him the truth. He can smell lies.

At least, Adrien had never been able to lie to the man. And he thought he was an okay liar when the need arose, but Gabriel Agreste had always been able to tell. And none of Gabriel’s assistants could lie to him, either. Adrien was pretty sure that meant that Gabriel had some sort of… lie-detecting superpower.

Moments later, he received a text from Marinette.

 

Messages with Marinette

Marinette: Okay, and no he doesn’t know I’m here

Then he had a chance. He packed his things back up and left the classroom as quickly as possible, thankful the professor hadn’t been early.

 

Messages with Marinette

Adrien: I’m leaving now. Be there ASAP.



He opened his taxi app and ordered a taxi - this was far too urgent to use public transit - before texting Marinette again.

 

Messages with Marinette

Adrien: But honestly you probably stand a better chance without me there. Don’t think he likes me much.

Fuck.

But there was nothing to do besides shoot off a quick text to Nathalie explaining who Marinette was (and hoping she’d defuse the situation) while waiting for the taxi, and then hop in and ride home.

There was no sign of his father outside of the apartment, but that didn’t mean that he wasn’t inside. Adrien paid his cab driver via the app and rushed to his door. He almost dropped his keys in his rush, but he managed to unlock the door and then take the steps two at a time.

He caught his breath before opening his apartment door.

He heard FIFA coming from the living room. So Marinette was almost definitely still there. He ventured into the living room first. Marinette was sitting on one of his bean bag chairs, playing FIFA. Paris was currently kicking Liverpool’s ass.

“Hey,” he said.

Marinette paused the game, and then she walked over to him and hugged him. “He doesn’t hate me. He’s in the guest room setting up. But he doesn’t hate me.”

Adrien hugged her back and tried not to think too much on it. She was his friend . He wasn’t about to betray her trust like that. “That’s great,” he said.

“He said he’d be watching my work, though.” She looked concerned.

Adrien could understand why. She wanted to be a designer, but to have someone as high-profile as Gabriel Agreste looking over everything she did would surely be nerve-wracking. Especially if he didn’t like it. And Adrien’s father didn’t like a lot of things.

“Maybe he’ll be impressed,” Adrien said instead, trying to stay positive.

“I hope so,” Marinette said.

At the look on her face, he suggested, “We could play Call of Duty if FIFA isn’t doing the trick,” he suggested.

She laughed and rolled her eyes. “Maybe you should say hello to your father.”

Right. That. Adrien bit back a groan. “Yeah. I should,” he said.

“And then we can play Call of Duty,” she said with a grin.

A girl after his own heart. “Absolutely,” he said.

He allowed himself to sigh and steeled himself to talk with his father before going upstairs. The guest room door was closed, so he knocked.

“Hello?”

That was definitely his father’s voice. “Adrien? Come in.”

He opened the door. His father was inside. “Would you mind telling me why all of your clothes are in this wardrobe?”

Oh, fuck. Adrien had totally forgotten about that.

“And what are you wearing? Those aren’t my designs.”

Shit, shit, shit. Time to think fast. “The style in Berlin is much more pedestrian. If I wore your designs, it would make me stand out more than I already do, and I want to fit in.” It was the truth, and he knew his father would see that. Whether or not he’d approve was a different matter.

Gabriel raised an eyebrow. “I see.”

“You didn’t mention that you were stopping by,” he said.

“I’m giving a talk at ESMOD tomorrow. I thought I would visit my son in the apartment I’m paying for beforehand.” He cast a glance around the room. “At least you didn’t change anything in here. The living room looks atrocious.”

“I like it,” Adrien said before he could stop himself. Living away from his father had done much to reduce his impulse control. “The whole… kitschy, tacky look.”

“Evidently,” Gabriel said, looking pained.

Adrien decided to change the subject. “So Marinette said that you’ve met?”

That, it seemed, piqued his father’s interest. “Yes,” Gabriel said, and someone who didn’t know him would think that he was completely disinterested, but Adrien knew better.

“She’s really something, isn’t she?”

“She certainly seems as if she could be a positive influence on you.”

Adrien knew that that was a direct slight at Nino and Chloé. And, well, while Chloé had more flaws than most people, she’d never been a bad influence on him. Or, well, when she’d tried, when they were younger, it had never really worked. And Nino was great. “Maybe you’ll start to respect my choice in friends, then,” Adrien said coolly. Meaning, of course, also Nino and Chloé. But mostly Nino. That had been a snap judgement on his father’s part; Gabriel knew Chloé too well to give her another chance.

“If you continue to surround yourself with driven, honest, and respectful people like Mlle Dupain-Cheng, that shouldn’t be an issue.”

He knew better than to continue the conversation at this point. “Well, speaking of Marinette, I promised her a game of Call of Duty before she has to go back to class, and I should deliver.”

His father waved him off, saying something about business calls.

Adrien went back downstairs and found Marinette setting up Call of Duty. “Sorry,” she said. “I couldn’t wait. Paris thoroughly kicked Liverpool’s ass, and I figured I’d just restart when you got here.”

Adrien couldn’t help but grin. “Not a problem. Let’s see how many times you can kill me.” He threw himself down into the other bean bag chair, and they played for about half an hour before telltale footsteps and a cleared throat made Gabriel’s presence obvious.

“Is there a point to these games?” Gabriel asked.

As they’d forgotten to pause, Marinette killed Adrien’s character. Again.

“It’s faster than FIFA,” Adrien said as a response. “And all video games help hand-eye coordination.”

“Adrien.”

“Yes, Father?”

“Tonight, we are going out to dinner. Mlle Dupain-Cheng is welcome to join us if she’d like.”

Adrien shot Marinette a look that he hoped wasn’t too obviously pleading.

“I’d love to,” Marinette said.

“Excellent. Give Nathalie your measurements and I’ll have her run out to get you something appropriate for the venue. I know fashion students love their avant garde looks, but there’s a time and a place.”

“Of course, sir,” Marinette said.

Shit . There was no way that this was going to go well. Having Marinette there would soften the blow - if his father liked her, he wouldn’t do anything unreasonable in front of her, but had it been so naïve to hope that his father wouldn’t visit him while he was trying to live his own life for the first time in twenty years?

Chapter Text

Marinette did her best to focus on class, but she was going to go out to dinner with Adrien and his father that night. His father, who was one of the top fashion designers in the industry! She was more nervous than excited, if she were honest, but she was also determined to show Gabriel that she was absolutely not using Adrien. He was her friend.

Her gorgeous, funny, dorky, nerdy, incredibly sweet and thoughtful friend.

Who she may have admittedly developed a huge crush on.

But if anything, that just made her less likely to exploit his connections for her own gain! And that likelihood had been at zero to start with!

She took notes as best she could, and then when the time came, she went to take the U-Bahn back to Adrien’s apartment, and was surprised to instead find Gabriel Agreste’s assistant (Marinette thought her name was Nathalie?) waiting outside the building, standing by a taxi.

Nathalie evidently caught sight of Marinette and waved her over. “We have to get you fitted,” she said simply when Marinette (eventually) made her way over.

Marinette had no idea how fancy this dinner was going to be, but she didn’t like where it was headed. “O-okay,” she said, feeling unsure.

Nathalie opened the door for her, and Marinette scooted into the taxi, feeling self-conscious about her clothes, her backpack, her everything. But she forced herself to remain calm. Adrien would be there, after all.

“Due to the lack of time, we thought it best to pick up a few dresses at a department store and get them tailored. Don’t worry,” Nathalie added, taking Marinette’s confused look the wrong way, “They’re all Gabriel AGRESTE .”

That just made her feel even more nervous, but Marinette nodded. “O-okay,” she said. “Um… I just need to… text my roommate and let her know that I’ll be back late tonight.”

Nathalie nodded and Marinette pulled out her phone. She opened her message thread on WhatsApp with Alya.

Messages with Alya

Marinette: SOS.

Alya texted back almost instantly. What’s up?

Marinette: I was at Adrien’s playing FIFA and his DAD came in and invited me to dinner!?! His assistant ran out to get me a dress from GABRIEL AGRESTES LINE?!?! This is some fancy dinner WHAT DO I DO?

Alya’s response was simple, and sweet. Sleep with Adrien. Poke a hole in the condom.

Marinette: ALYA!!!!

Marinette flushed a deep red and prayed  that Nathalie wasn’t looking at her messages.

Messages with Alya

Marinette: I can’t do that!

Marinette: I won’t do that!

Marinette: I meant about the dinner!

Marinette: What do I do about the DINNER?

Alya’s response this time took longer, but was more rationalWell, just copy everything that Adrien does. He’s definitely had the upbringing to know what to do there.

Alya: Also, seriously, hold on to his arm if they make you wear heels.

Alya: You don’t want to fall and make an ass of yourself.

Alya: And besides… maybe then he’ll get the hint!

Marinette blushed again, but this time for a slightly different reason. She had to admit, it wasn’t a terrible plan. And she did trip a lot.

Messages with Alya

Alya texted her again after a few minutes. Just text him and tell him you have no idea what to do.

That was a good idea. Marinette shot off a text thanking her brilliant best friend (and roommate), and went to text Adrien.

Messages with Adrien A.

Marinette: Hey so I’ve never been to a fancy dinner. What sort of things should I expect?

She didn’t mention that she couldn’t walk in heels and she definitely didn’t ask to hold on to his arm to keep from falling.

Messages with Adrien A.

Adrien texted back quickly. Different utensils for everything, multiple courses, boring conversation, stuffy and uncomfortable clothes.

Adrien A. No matter how much you want to blow your brains out, don’t get drunk. That’s the ultimate rookie mistake.

Marinette: Do you speak from experience there?

Adrien A. Maybe.

Adrien A. Either way. Don’t do it.

Adrien A. Besides, I’ll be there every step of the way, and it’s not like my father doesn’t realise you’re middle class, so if anything, he’ll be impressed.

Marinette’s limited interactions with the man made her doubt that very much.

Messages with Adrien A.

Marinette: You sound convinced.

Adrien A. I prefer to think of it as optimistic..

So he wasn’t sure, either. Great. This was just going to be fantastic .

Messages with Adrien A.

Marinette: Well, apparently I’m wearing some tailored ensemble from your father’s line.

Oh, god, it was going to be so nice to have him there. And she really wouldn’t let herself get drunk. That would be a mistake.

Messages with Adrien A.

Adrien A. Even better

Marinette: Thanks.

She stuck her phone back in her bag.

They arrived at the tailor’s relatively quickly, and Marinette got a choice of two gorgeous dresses; one was a pretty, soft pink; girly and feminine. The other was crimson, and in a very daring cut. Marinette couldn’t shake the feeling that this was a test. After all, Gabriel Agreste had said that very morning that he’d be keeping an eye on her; overprotective wouldn’t even begin to cover it.

So, nervous though she already was, she chose the red dress. A slight inclination of Nathalie’s head informed her that this had been the correct choice.

She put on the dress and let the tailor work their magic, and by the end of it, she looked… elegantly sexy. But not so sexy that Gabriel would think she was after anything. Because she wasn’t.

And then Nathalie brought out the shoes. Marinette had half a mind to text Adrien right then and there.

In the end, Marinette picked the lowest heels she thought she could get away with (they were also Gabriel AGRESTE as well, of course), and was taken back to Adrien’s apartment, as, Nathalie reasoned, Potsdam was much too far to assume Marinette would make it to dinner on time. (Marinette wanted to resent that statement, but given her perpetual problems with punctuality, she really couldn’t).

As she was entering the apartment, her phone vibrated, and she checked it to find another message from Alya.

Messages with Alya

Alya: I was serious about banging Adrien btw. You two have serious chemistry.

Alya: But if you do, please use a condom.

Alya: I don’t want to become an aunt before I’m done school.

Marinette was sure her face was on fire , and she tried desperately to think of anything else at all .

She reluctantly followed Nathalie into the apartment and ducked into the living room where Adrien was, thank god, sitting on the couch, reading a textbook. He looked up when she came in and smiled.

“Hey! I’m just doing some reading for my optic’s class!” He moved his feet so that she could sit down there. Or, at least, that’s what Marinette thought was happening. She sat down awkwardly.

“Optics,” she repeated. “I don’t think I could do that in French .”

Adrien grinned. “It’s a challenge in German, but I like a challenge.”

“Clearly,” Marinette said. She was glad that her classes didn’t involve too much new vocabulary.

He smiled at her, and she smiled back, and they sat in companionable silence for a while until Adrien’s father came downstairs.

“You should start getting ready,” he instructed them.

Adrien’s change in demeanor was immediate. He stiffened, and Marinette wondered if she was imagining the guarded look in his eyes. “Of course, Father. Was there anything that you wanted me to wear in particular?”

Marinette paused at Adrien’s words. Surely she was imagining…

“Nothing from that horrid scandinavian mass-retailer, but one of your good suits should be acceptable.”

“Of course,” Adrien said. “You’re right. Would you mind if I went into the guest room? That’s where all of my good suits are.”

No, she wasn’t imagining anything. Adrien was definitely vouvoie -ing his father.

“Naturally,” Gabriel said. “I’ll wait in the study. I’m sure Mlle Dupain-Cheng also needs to get ready.”

Marinette reminded herself to act. “Yes! I think… Nathalie put my dress in the guest room, too. I’ll… go up with you, Adrien!”

Adrien didn’t look like he thought anything was strange about that, and Gabriel’s face was impassive as always, but Gabriel walked away as Adrien got up.

Marinette followed Adrien upstairs and into the guest room. She shut the door behind them. Adrien turned around and raised an eyebrow.

“You vouvoies your own father ?” she whispered, maybe a little more harshly than she’d intended.

Adrien shrugged, face impassive for once. “Like I said when we met, my father is strict.”

That wasn’t strict; that was unloving and cruel and awful! Marinette wanted to shake the boy by his shoulders and make him realise how terrible it was, but… then she realised… he probably already knew. Even if he didn’t have many friends, he’d surely seen enough television and read enough books to know that children generally didn’t vouvoient their own parents.

Instead, before she realised what she was doing, she hugged him.

Adrien stiffened for a moment, but then relaxed. “I… appreciate your concern, Marinette. Really. But please don’t… say anything to him.”

“I won’t,” she promised. She pulled away reluctantly (oh god, he smelled so nice ) and forced a smile that she hoped didn’t look too forced.

Adrien was really like a totally different person around her father, and she hated it. And yet… she couldn’t help but wonder if this was how he’d had to act his whole life.

He smiled at her, but it didn’t reach his eyes. “I’ll grab a suit and then you can get ready.”

“Thank you,” she said.

“No,” he said. “Thank you.”

Chapter Text

Leave it to his father to ruin everything in one day. Adrien grabbed a suit that he was sure his father would deem appropriate, smiled at Marinette, and then went to his room.

He had friends, for once, and he was happy, and so naturally his father had to come in and be Gabriel Agreste.

And of course it was fucking weird to vouvoyer your father - when your father was anyone but Gabriel Agreste. Hell, Adrien had never ever referred to his mother formally, but he couldn’t remember a time when he’d tutoié his father.[1]

He got changed quickly and then grabbed his phone to text Nino.

Messages with Nino

Adrien: So Marinette heard me refer to my father as “vous” and she’s really concerned

Nino: As any normal person would be. Seriously, dude, I don’t even use “vous” for my grandparents.

Nino’s response, really, was to be expected.

Adrien rolled his eyes.

Messages with Nino

Adrien: Btw your girlfriend tried to convince me to make a move on Marinette tonight

That was putting it lightly, really. Alya’s texts had been graphic, and Adrien hadn’t been sure his face would ever return to a normal hue.

He waited for Nino’s response. Ten seconds, then thirty, then a minute, and then Adrien decided he might as well make sure his hair wasn’t unruly (another complaint of Gabriel’s, of course).

His phone pinged while he was fixing his hair. Adrien forced himself to be patient and check it when he was done. When he finally got to the phone, Nino had responded several times over.

Messages with Nino

Nino: Can you blame her? You totally want to.

Nino: She’s pretty and smart and kind and PARISIAN.

Nino: Besides, you’re a model. Who can say no to that face?

Adrien felt a weird… knotty feeling in his gut.

Messages with Nino

Adrien: Marinette is just a friend

A friend who had the most beautiful blue eyes and adorable freckles he’d ever seen, but still...

Nino replied almost instantly this time.

Messages with Nino

Nino: You don’t even believe that yourself. Dude. Come on.

Nino: Is this about Chloé?

Adrien actually snorted at that.

Messages with Nino

Adrien: Chloé tried to kiss me once when I was 16 to try to prove to herself that she was attracted to me. It didn’t work. She’s the last person I’d ever date, besides that.

She hadn’t even been able to go through with it. Adrien had been willing, if he were honest with himself, because he’d felt pathetic for never having kissed a girl. But Chloé hadn’t been able to go through with it, and that had been the end of that.

Messages with Nino

Nino: Maybe Marinette would be willing to practise with you

Honestly, Nino was getting as bad as Alya. Adrien put his phone on do not disturb and tucked it into his pocket. He couldn’t let anything distract him tonight.

Besides, maybe there was a slim chance that his father actually wanted to spend time with him.

But, honestly, Adrien doubted it.

He looked himself over in his mirror and made his way downstairs. His father was still in the study, but when Adrien knocked, Gabriel glanced at him and deemed him appropriately-attired. So Adrien went into the living room to continue his reading.

Really, Nino was just being ridiculous. Marinette didn’t like him, not like that, and Adrien wasn’t going to get his hopes up. And even if she did (which she didn’t), he wasn’t going to ruin a perfectly good friendship by bringing feelings into it. He knew better.

Marinette came downstairs a few minutes later, and, well, maybe that would have been a good time for Adrien to admit he was lying to himself, because Marinette looked positively stunning.

This was going to be a long night.


Gabriel took them to a Michelin star restaurant by the Brandenburg Gate, the Lorenz Adlon Esszimmer.[2] It was more or less what Adrien was used to, but Marinette looked uncomfortable. He wanted to squeeze her hand to reassure her, but he knew that would be inappropriate to say the least. And his father would surely notice.

When they were shown to their table, Adrien pulled a chair out for Marinette, who smiled at him gratefully, before sitting down himself. It was, as he’d expected, just the two of them alone with his father. He really had to think of a way to make this up to her.

“So,” Adrien said, scanning the wine list. “Is there anything you wanted to inform me of, Father, or are we just out for a pleasant meal?” There was more than a touch of an accusatory tone to his voice, try as he might to keep it level.

Gabriel shot him a look that would have withered most people. “You’ll be modelling in Berlin Fashion Week,” he said, rather than draw it out.[3]

That seemed… too simple. “Is that all?” Adrien asked, guarded.

“I thought I would sample what Germans try to pass off as haute cuisine,” Gabriel said. “And reward you for behaving like an adult during your last shoot.”

“I always behave like an adult during my shoots,” Adrien protested. “I’m a professional.” Even if he didn’t want to be. He knew better.

“Even so… I’ll admit, I was… concerned that this… Réunionese boy would instill too many bad habits, and without Nathalie or myself here to mitigate it...”

Adrien barely managed to avoid rolling his eyes. “Nino isn’t a bad influence, Father,” he said. “And he certainly respects that I have a job to do, regardless of the fact that it means I’ll be out of town once a month.”

The waiter came and took their order. Adrien was, at least, allowed to order for himself, and he made sure to get the meal that his father wasn’t getting, as some small type of rebellion. Gabriel ordered a bottle of Merlot for the table. Marinette seemed overwhelmed but eventually picked the same menu that Adrien had, after Gabriel insisted that it was his treat. After all, his father may have had extremely questionable morals, but even he wouldn’t invite a middle class girl to a Michelin star restaurant and make her pay her own way.

“Regardless,” Gabriel continued after the waiter had left. “This experience has been a… pleasant surprise. I was concerned that you would spiral once you were out of the house and off of your schedule.”

Concerned that he’d ruin the family image, more like. “Why would I do that?” Adrien’s forms of rebellion, after all, had always been small and quiet; kitschy décor, buying cheap clothes, making friends over the internet because he wasn’t allowed to have any of his own besides Chloé.

“Surely, Adrien, you’ve seen the headlines of other children who have been let off of the leash.”

He had, but that didn’t mean that he was like that. “Father, the only way I don’t fit your expectations is that I have friends you dislike - Nino’s in film school, for god’s sake, not a drug dealer - and that you know I want to be a physics teacher. I’m pretty far from the repressed wild child you for some reason think I’m going to turn into.”

His father relaxed considerably. “Being a physics teacher is out of the question,” he said.

Adrien knew better than to argue. He went to try to change the subject, but was taken aback before he had a chance to even really think, because from beside him, Marinette spoke up.

“Why is it out of the question?”

Adrien felt a swell of gratitude, but it was overshadowed by the incredible tension which had settled over the table.

“Excuse me?” Gabriel said.

“Why would Adrien being a physics teacher out of the question? He’s good at physics, he’s passionate about it, it’s a perfectly respectable career choice… I understand that you want someone to take over your business when you retire, but why does it have to be him? Wouldn’t you rather he be happy? He’s your son . Your business is important, but I’m sure there are plenty of talented, dedicated people who would die to be your successor. Why make your son do it when he has his heart set on something else?”

The waiter came back and served them their wine before Gabriel had a chance to respond, and Adrien sent a quick prayer of thanks to whatever god might be out there at that moment. His father had a temper, and while it was almost never turned on him… Gabriel Agreste could and would easily ruin Marinette’s chances of a career. He’d ruined other people for much less.

But, to Adrien’s complete and total surprise, his father almost smiled. Well, the corners of his lips twitched, and it wasn’t in annoyance. That counted as a smile for Gabriel, at least since… well, since Adrien was fourteen.

“You seem to care quite a bit for my son.”

Marinette blushed at that, although Adrien couldn’t imagine why. “Adrien is a good person. He’s very kind, and intelligent, and he’s really passionate about physics. A-and like he said, if this is as rebellious as he’s going to get… I mean, even I’ve been more rebellious than that!”

Adrien couldn’t imagine Marinette being rebellious at all. But then again, here she was, telling off a man who Adrien knew she admired, and who they all knew could destroy her without a second thought, to defend him, some guy that she’d met… not even a full month ago. She definitely had courage, at the very least.

“You should want your son to be happy,” Marinette said, taking a sip of wine.

Adrien expected his father to tell Marinette off, to warn her to mind her place, to threaten her future career… but he did none of that. He took a sip of wine himself, and then turned his attention to Adrien. “You seem to have inspired quite a bit of devotion in Mlle Dupain-Cheng, Adrien.”

Adrien glanced at Marinette and shrugged. “I… we’re friends,” he said weakly.

Marinette smiled. Adrien felt his heart jump into his throat. “And friends support their friends’ wellbeing, emotional and otherwise.”

Gabriel turned to Marinette. “You said you were from Paris?”

Marinette nodded. “My parents own a bakery in the fifth arrondissement.[4] I live with them. Well, you know, except for right now while I’m studying abroad.”

“Well, I’m glad Adrien will have a friend better than Mlle Bourgeois at home when this is all said and done,” Gabriel said easily.

“But will he have a father who supports his dreams and goals?” Marinette countered, voice perfectly even. “Friends can only do so much.”

“Provided I can find a… suitable successor, and Adrien actually gets an education – a doctoral degree, and not just a simple license – I will… consider it.”[5]

Adrien couldn’t believe his ears. “Wait, what?” he asked. He looked from his father to Marinette and back. “What?”

“Provided I can find a suitable successor,” Gabriel repeated. “And if you’re invested in this enough to obtain a doctorate and put forth all of that work.”

“I am!” Adrien assured his father. “Absolutely!”

“We’ll see about that,” Gabriel said. The waiter brought out their food, and the discussion for the rest of the night was light and pleasant.

Toward the end of the night, in the cab home, Adrien checked his phone.

There was a text from Marinette, who had, in what he’d begun to take as typical Marinette fashion, taken public transit home, “There’s a U-Bahn station right here and then I can get the Regio and it’s really not a problem,” she’d said.

Messages with Marinette

Marinette: Glad your father isn’t totally emotionless

Marinette: Although I still can’t believe you vouvoies him.

Marinette: You deserve to be happy, Adrien. Remember that. Don’t waste your life trying to please a man who you can’t even refer to informally

Adrien: Thank you

As he texted her back, he tried to ignore the way his heart was pounding in a way that had nothing to do with anxiety.

Chapter Text

The day after the dinner with Adrien and his father, Alya had dragged them all to a café on the Spree after they were all done classes.

“So,” she started. “I know how much Nino loves Potsdam, but Nil - the student club for Uni Potsdam - is having a Halloween party. And that’s a perfect Erasmus thing for these two nerds.” [1] She jerked a thumb to indicate Adrien and Marinette.

Nino rolled his eyes. “Fine. Might as well.”

“And I was thinking a sort of superhero motif! Group costumes! Marinette and Adrien can help, since they know fashion, and I know superheroes!”

There it was. Marinette knew her friend had probably had this planned all along.

“That could be fun,” Adrien said.

“Superheroes…” Marinette said. “I don’t have enough time to make costumes, but we could probably buy some stuff…”

And that was how Marinette found herself being dragged along by Alya to TK Maxx. Alya had decided that they were all going as characters in her favourite ensemble superhero franchise. Marinette had (somehow) agreed to make the masks, since that wouldn’t be too difficult, and she was supposed to help Alya modify the costumes.

“If I get two pairs of pants, do you think you could sew them together and make one pair? I’m already making the tail myself, but…”

“Probably,” Marinette said. She didn’t particularly want to, but she knew it’d be better than trying to let Alya figure it out herself.

“Yours is easy. Just black spots.”[2]

Which is precisely why Marinette had chosen it. Of all of the options Alya had laid before them, it had looked like the least likely to distract her from her actual work, and, well, she knew a lot of people were of the opinion that courses abroad didn’t count, but she wasn’t. Especially with Gabriel Agreste checking up on her work. Especially with her having told Gabriel Agreste off the day before. She still couldn't believe that she had told Gabriel Agreste off. Or that he'd actually listened to her.

If you'd told her even a month ago that she'd have gone to a Michelin star restaurant with Adrien and Gabriel Agreste and would tell Gabriel Agreste off , she would have thought you were crazy.

And yet.

So she needed to focus on her schoolwork. She’d allow herself this one night to let go of her inhibitions, and then she’d get back on track. But that one night didn’t allot her much time to work on a costume.

She bought thick red leggings and a matching long-sleeve top in the end. Nothing too excessive. She’d wear her own, normal sneakers; there was no reason to make fancy shoes for a halloween party. She and Alya were going to buy fabric after this, and then it’d be a quick job.

She helped Alya find the rest of what she needed, and then the two of them were off. Nino and Adrien were supposed to come over later, and she would help them put the finishing touches on their costumes.

She picked up some black fabric paint for herself, and Alya got some extra orange and white fabric and black fabric paint. The duo then went home to start working.

Marinette’s costume was easy; she cut out a circle template and used the fabric paint to make uniform polka dots on the costume. She was halfway done the front of the top when Nino and Adrien arrived.

Alya was busy trying to craft her costume’s tail, so Marinette answered the door.

The boys were standing there, but only Nino had a shopping bag in hand.

“Both of your costumes had better be in there,” Marinette said. “Alya’s really into this.”

Adrien grinned. “Well, since this is an existing franchise… I ordered one. The costume looked pretty complex, and I didn’t want you to have any more work than you already have, so today, I’m here to help.”

Marinette considered this response. “Well, all right. But Alya may still kill you, fair warning.” She stepped aside and let them in. She shut the door behind them and followed them upstairs. Alya was settled in Marinette’s room, on the floor, trying to get the pattern on her fabric tail just right. She looked up at the trio when they entered.

“I hope Adrien’s costume is in your bag, Nino.”

Nino glanced sidelong at his friend, who spoke up. “I bought one. Mask and all. I didn’t want Marinette to have to do too much, so I’m here to help as you guys need me to.”

Alya pursed her lips. “Homemade costumes are part of the charm,” she said.

“I can sew,” Adrien offered, shrugging. “Maybe not as well as Marinette, but I can do a few basic stitches.”

Alya heaved an overly dramatic sigh and rolled her eyes. “Fine,” she huffed. “Why don’t you help Marinette with her pants? She needs to be covered in polka dots!”

Adrien grinned. “Can do. Anything else?”

Alya tapped her chin in mock thought. “Well, since you’re not really doing anything, why don’t you run down to the Edeka and get us all something to drink!”[3]

“Sure,” Adrien said. “Anything in particular?”

“Berliner Kindl, obviously,” Alya said, focusing on her work. “Can’t drink anything too alcoholic or else this will look like shit.”

Marinette rolled her eyes at her friend. Really, Alya was taking this whole affair too seriously; Marinette was sure that most of the costumes at the party would be a whole lot of sloppily put-together outfits or store bought costumes. There was no need, really, to put so much effort into it. She shot Adrien a sympathetic glance. “I don’t need anything,” she said.

“Neither do I,” Nino piped up, unpacking his own bag. “This is going to be hard enough as is.”

“All right, so just for Alya then,” Adrien said.

Marinette handed him her keys. “Just let yourself back in,” she told him. “I’m sure Alya will be keeping us really busy.”

Adrien grinned. “Got it. I’ll see you guys in a few, then.”

He ducked out of the room, and Marinette turned back to her project. After this, she still had to make the masks, but Adrien would probably help with that. She became so focused on sewing, she didn’t notice when Adrien didn’t return after fifteen minutes. Only when Alya perked up after half an hour to ask, “Hey, shouldn’t Adrien be back by now?” did Marinette even vaguely realise that something was off (because, much to her pleasant surprise, Alya and Nino acted like normal people when not drunk, so they were focused on their own costumes).

Nino put down his costume (which seemed needlessly complicated for Halloween, at least if you asked Marinette), and picked up his phone. “I’ll text him,” he said, tapping as he did so.

Nino’s phone pinged second later, and he slapped his forehead and groaned. “He’s adopted a cat,” Nino said. He showed his phone to Alya and Marinette. Sure enough, there was a picture of Adrien with a scrawny black kitten.

Marinette wasn’t sure that she’d ever seen anything more adorable. “Tell him to bring it up. It’s fine,” she said.

Nino nodded and typed off a response to his friend. “Man, that’s just… quintessential Adrien. I’m surprised it took him this long. He’d always wanted a pet.”

“Will he be allowed to keep it when he goes back home?” Marinette asked.

Nino shrugged. Marinette went back to her costume. She wouldn’t worry about this now, not when she’d just started her pants…

Chapter Text

He’d seen the kitten on his way back from the grocery store. It had only been a block away, if even that, so, really, it was a miracle that he’d been outside long enough to see the little guy. He was jet black with big, green eyes and Adrien fell in love immediately.

But he knew, really, such a cute little kitten probably already had a home.

The kitten had come right up to him. He’d almost died on the spot from the sheer adorableness. But fortunately, he hadn’t; he’d picked the kitten up and asked the people he saw shopping nearby if they had any clue who the cat belonged to. He was sure, really, that Marinette and Alya would help him hang up posters. Posters! He looked around for ‘lost cat’ flyers for a good fifteen minutes, the kitten purring in his arms, before he received Nino’s text.

Messages with Nino

Nino: Hey dude did you die or something? You’ve been gone a while and Edeka is like two minutes away

Adrien glanced at the time. Shit. He was supposed to help with the costumes. He snapped a picture of himself.

Messages with Nino

Adrien: Found this little guy and I can’t find his owner

A few minutes later, he got a text back.

Messages with Nino

Nino: Marinette says to come up anyway. But maybe pick up some essentials at Edeka first. Just in case.

That was a brilliant idea, so that was just what Adrien did! He got everything he thought he could possibly need and went back to Marinette’s apartment. The kitten was getting a little squirmy, but Adrien reasoned it was probably fine. He let himself in, and put the things down in the kitchen before ducking back into Marinette’s room.

“Back! Marinette, Alya, do you mind if I set up a litter box for him?” He knew, after all, that cats needed litter boxes, and he didn’t know when the last time was that this animal had eaten.

“Sure,” Alya said. “But he’s going home with you. You can feed him, too, but if you use our dishes, make sure to use the red ones.”

Adrien frowned. “The red ones?”

“Apparently it’s some religious law for my roommate.” Alya rolled her eyes. “Meat on red dishes.”

“You mean kashrut?” he asked. That sounded vaguely familiar, anyway. The kitten squirmed. Alya furrowed her brows.

“She called it kosher…”

“Kashrut’s the substantive. Kosher’s the adjective. Same thing.”

Alya waved absently, focusing on her costume. “Whatever it’s called, I’ll never hear the end of it if you put meat on a dish that isn’t red or disposable.”

“Got it,” Adrien said. He’d never met Alya and Marinette’s other roommate; she was apparently very busy. He wondered what she did. But he took the kitten out to the kitchen and set up his litter box and some wet food and water (making sure to use some of the spare paper plates for the food, because cat food was almost certainly not kosher). He scratched behind the kitten’s ears. “You’re a cute little guy, aren’t you?”

The kitten meowed at him. That was it. He was going to die. Cause of death: cuteness. He was so caught up in the cat that he didn’t notice someone else entering the kitchen.

It was a girl he’d never seen before; the other roommate. “I hope you don’t mind me using these dishes!” he said, making sure to speak German. “I-if that’s an issue, I’ll buy new ones!”

She furrowed her brows at him. “Who are you?”

“Oh, I’m Adrien! I’m friends with Marinette and Alya.” In that order, too. “We’re working on our Halloween costumes!”

She nodded. “The dish is fine. And your German’s good. Alya and I usually just speak English.”

“If I wanted just to speak English, I’d have gone to the UK instead,” he said, shrugging.

She smiled. “I’m Sarah. Sorry if the dish thing is a bother…”

“It’s your apartment,” he said. “If it bothers your roommates, that’s one thing, but I don’t live here.”

“Well,” she said, “to be honest, I keep it that way for people who don’t live here. I should be better about keeping kosher, but it’s mostly my friends who are strict about it.” She hesitated for a second, “Kosher is -”

“Don’t worry,” Adrien said with a smile. “I know what kosher is. My maternal grandparents were always very strict about it. Annoyed my dad to no end.” He hadn’t seen his grandparents in almost a decade. That had been one of his parents’ worst arguments. Still, he kept smiling, because that was what he was used to. “One time, he put a roast on the challah board by accident.”[1]

Sarah winced. “That… can’t have ended well.”

“It didn’t,” he said. “It was some family heirloom, too.”

“I take it your father’s not Jewish?”

Adrien almost laughed at the thought. Instead, he managed to shake his head. “Raised Catholic, but he’s an atheist, I think.” At least, he couldn’t fathom his father being even vaguely religious, beyond using Christian holidays as selling points.

Sarah nodded. “That’s pretty common, I think.” She hesitated for a second. “I actually need to get back to my reading, though. I just came out here to get a drink. It was nice meeting you!”

“Nice meeting you!” Adrien said. He picked up the kitten, who had finished eating and was now playing with his laces; he hadn’t even noticed his shoes were untied. He went back to Marinette’s room, kitten in hand.

“I met your roommate,” he said when he came in. He left the door open a crack so that the kitten could get to his things. “And I made a friend.”

Marinette actually dropped what she was doing when she saw the kitten. “Aw,” she cooed. “He’s so precious.”

“I’m going to put up posters,” he explained. “If he’s someone’s pet, I don’t want to steal him. But I asked around for fifteen minutes and no one seemed to have any idea, so…” He put the kitten down on the bed.

“Do you have a name for him yet?” Marinette asked, beautiful blue eyes sparkling.

Adrien appraised the kitten and then said possibly the dumbest thing he’d ever said in his twenty years of existence. “Darth Plagueis.”[2]

Marinette looked at him, looked at the kitten, and then looked back at him. She was clearly fighting back a giggle, but it was Nino who said what everyone in the room was thinking. “First of all, naming your cat after a character from Star Wars: you’re a giant nerd. But why name him after a villain?”

Adrien shrugged. “It fits,” he said. “Anyway, I’m here to help.”

“Beer,” Alya said.

“In the kitchen,” Adrien responded. “I can grab it if you want.”

“Christ, you’re a literal angel,” Alya said, rolling her eyes. She put her things aside. “I need a break, anyway,” she said. She stood and stretched. “You guys want anything?”

Nino stood and stretched, too. “A break. My costume was too ambitious.”

Adrien was very glad that he’d bought his, and had it shipped overnight. It was due to arrive at his apartment tomorrow. Nino’s costume was extremely complicated, and even Marinette’s, which was by far the easiest, looked like a lot of work.

“Here,” Marinette said, thrusting some fabric into his hands. “Can you make the masks? Or at least cut out the patterns? I have them somewhere…”

“I’ll find them,” Adrien assured her. He walked over to her desk, and, sure enough, the patterns for the masks were sitting on top of one of her textbooks. “My costume has a mask with it,” he said. “So we just need the three.”

Marinette nodded from her spot on the bed. “Okay. Would you mind?”

He shook his head. “Not at all.” He surveyed the room, trying to find a spot to work in, but the only spot with enough room was on her bed. “Uh, can I… sit on the bed with you and Plagueis?”

Marinette laughed. “Of course. I can’t believe you called the cat that.”

“It’s a pawsitively fitting name,” he protested, sitting down.

She laughed again. He grinned. He felt at ease around her, which, given his crush on her, he supposed was strange, but… maybe he had a crush on her because he felt at ease around her? Either way, watching her carefully paint polka dots onto a pair of red leggings was easily more adorable than his new kitten friend… and that was saying something.

He couldn’t wait for the party on Friday night.

Chapter Text

Friday came quickly, and while Marinette had finished her own costume on Wednesday night, Alya was still stressed about hers. Since the club was in Potsdam, they'd decided that the boys were going to stop at their apartment to meet up, and then they’d all go together from there.

Marinette put on her costume and examined herself in the mirror. It wasn’t bad , she decided. The mask added a cute touch. She was glad she’d gone with a t-shirt and leggings, though, because a spandex suit would definitely make her feel self-conscious. Besides, it was better than Alya’s costume. Although Alya had insisted Marinette do her hair in pigtails, like the superheroine she was supposed to be, which made her feel less like a superheroine and more like the awkward girl she’d been in collège . Well, not that Marinette was super smooth and cool now, but she certainly didn’t think she was as awkward as she’d been at fifteen. Still, pigtails aside, she didn’t think she looked terrible.

She decided it was passable and then went to Alya’s room. Her door was open, but Marinette still knocked lightly on the frame. “Can I come in?”

“Sure!” Alya called. Marinette walked in to find her friend in a very tight costume, tying her scarf-belt tail around her waist. While Marinette had styled her outfit to look… cute, she supposed was the right word, Alya had done hers to look outright sexy. And, well, Marinette had to admit, especially for what it was, the costume looked great.

“You look amazing!”

Alya grinned. “I try.”

“Can you even move in that thing?” Marinette asked.

Alya’s grin only widened. “I made sure to get stretchy materials.”

Of course she had. Alya’s phone pinged and she checked it. “Boys will be here soon! Nino said they just got into Potsdam” She finished tying her scarf and looked herself over in the mirror. She gave herself an approving nod. “What do you think?”

“I can’t even tell we pulled that off in less than a week,” Marinette said approvingly.

Alya smirked. “Coming from you, that’s the highest praise.” She twirled and watched her tail flutter. “I just hope this is easy to get off tonight once I’m drunk off my ass.”

Marinette rolled her eyes. “Let’s all hope.” She would help her friend out of her costume if need be, of course, but that didn’t mean that she wanted to do that.

Alya finished her eye makeup in the mirror, and Marinette sat on her best friend’s bed and waited. Her costume was comfortable, thank god, but it was late October, so she hoped it would be warm enough. The club should be warm, at least.

Once Alya was done her makeup, she dragged Marinette into the kitchen and thrust a bottle of Berliner Kindl into her hands. “The beer’s cheap there, but we’re pregaming.”

Marinette pulled a face. She didn’t like pregaming with beer; it was too carbonated to go down smoothly, and she hated the way it tasted. “Can I do wine instead? I have a bottle in the fridge. Adrien and I can split it.” Adrien, at least, seemed to prefer wine to beer as well.

Alya rolled her eyes and took the bottle of beer from her friend. “Fine, fine. If you hate beer that much.” She opened the bottle on the countertop, and Marinette’s eyes widened in shock.

“How’d you do that?”

“Lots of practise,” her friend assured her with a grin. “Trust me, it’s about as hard as it looks at first.”

Marinette laughed and got her wine out of the fridge. White this time. Maybe wine was nothing but hangover fodder, but it was delicious, and no one could deny that.

“Hey,” Alya said. “Is Nath coming to visit at some point?”

Marinette opened her mouth to respond, but was cut off by the buzzer. “Uh. That’s probably the boys.”

Alya rolled her eyes and laughed. “Fine, let them in. For the record, I like Nath. Even though he’s a weird art kid.”

“You’re going to a film school,” Marinette countered. She left the kitchen briefly to buzz the boys in, and then returned to pour herself a glass of wine.

“Film school’s a little different, though. And I’m not studying to be a filmmaker.” She took a sip of her beer. “Anyway, he should visit! Maybe he and Sarah will hit it off!”

Marinette rolled her eyes. “Sarah and Nath have nothing in common except for the fact that they’re both Jewish. That doesn’t exactly make for a meaningful, long-term relationship. Besides, it’s Nath …”

“Who’s Nath?” Nino asked, coming into the living room. He was mostly wearing his costume, but he carried a shopping bag in hand, which, Marinette assumed, contained the mask and “shell”.

She was, however, quickly completely distracted by Adrien. He was wearing a tight leather bodysuit, a long belt, combat boots, and cat ears. His hair looked, well, if she were honest, like bedroom hair. She drained the rest of her glass of wine. She’d seen plenty of Adrien’s modelling shoots before, especially since she tracked his father’s designs, but she’d never seen him looking so downright sexy … and knowing how kind and dorky and wonderful he was only made it a million times worse.

“Nath’s one of Marinette’s friends from way back in collège. They’ve kept in touch,” Alya said. “I like him well enough, but he’s too quiet for my tastes; I forget he’s there sometimes.”

“Y-yeah, he’s really nice though,” Marinette managed to say. “We… took art classes together in lycée, and that’s when we… really got to know each other. Since, y’know, fashion designers need to have figure drawing down, and Nath wants to be a comic book artist, so he also needs to have that down… He offered to come visit during Christmas break, but I wanted to go home for that, anyway.”

“Ooh, we can carpool!” Alya exclaimed

Marinette frowned. “It’s like a nine hour drive without any breaks. I was just going to fly RyanAir or something.”

“Nino and I are carpooling already,” said Alya.

“You’re going to Paris for Christmas?” Adrien asked his best friend. Marinette wondered if she was imagining the edge to his voice.

“Sorry, bro. Papa Césaire wants to introduce me to the family. Alya tried to get out of it, but to no avail.” To his credit, Nino looked guilty.

Marinette was, again, distracted by Adrien. He looked so sad… “You know, my parents usually close the bakery for Christmas Day and Boxing Day anyway. I wonder if they'd like to visit me instead. They've never been to Germany. Are you staying, Adrien?”

“I was planning on it.”

That decided it, then. “Then you'll come to dinner with us. Do you celebrate Christmas?”

Adrien shrugged. “I mean. Kind of? To be honest, my father’s been… how he is for years now. But we've always had a Christmas tree.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “Although I… kind of wanted to see if I could do Chanukah this year, too.”

“Then we’ll do that together. If you're nervous, our roommate Sarah is Jewish and very nice so I'm sure she wouldn't mind…” She didn't really know his situation, but she'd been friends with Nathaniel long enough to have a basic idea of Jewish holidays. And Marinette was determined that her newfound friend (and crush) have a happy holiday season. And he really didn't seem to want to go home. After having met his father in person, she couldn’t honestly say she blamed him.

The look on his face was absolutely priceless. “That… would be really great, Marinette. Thank you.”

“Of course,” she assured him, trying to ignore the butterflies in her stomach at his smile. How was one person so perfect?

“Touching as this is,” Alya said, “We’ve got to pregame.” She opened the fridge and thrust a bottle of beer into her boyfriend’s hands. “Adrien, my sweet sunshine child, what do you want to drink? And should we get you presents for Chanukah or Christmas?”

“Um, just wine is fine, and you don’t have to get me anything…”

Alya narrowed her eyes at him. “Nonsense. Now should we give it to you on Chanukah or on Christmas?”

“E-either works,” Adrien said, visibly shrinking a bit at Alya’s glare. Having been on the receiving end of that look many times, Marinette understood his reaction only too well. Alya was a force to be reckoned with. “I used to… when I was a kid, we did both. My dad’s an atheist, but he… was really focused on keeping up appearances. So we did both.”

Alya beamed, which Marinette knew from experience was… disconcerting , to say the least. “You’ve got it, sunshine child. Two gifts for two holidays.”

“What, Alya, no, you don’t have to –”

Alya poured him a glass of wine and shoved it in his hands. “Now drink, pretty boy.”

All things considered, it was probably a good thing that Alya had never gotten into smoking or underage drinking or drugs when they were kids. Marinette may not have survived.

Chapter Text

It had started out as a great day, which, all things considered, seemed to be more common for him in Berlin than in Paris. No one had responded to his ad about Plagueis, and he’d taken the kitten to the vet on Thursday. He had a clean bill of health, although he’d needed a bath (which the kitten hadn’t been happy about). The vet couldn’t find a microchip and figured that he was probably a stray. So, realistically, Adrien might get to keep him, which was super exciting. Plagueis had settled in well to the apartment, and delighted at running around in the early hours of the morning

His costume had also come on Thursday, and it fit… maybe a little too perfectly. He felt slightly self-conscious in it, but at least he could move around. He tried to convince Plagueis that he was a real cat, but it hadn’t worked. Not that he’d really expected it would. (But he’d hoped, maybe).

The costume had come with boots, and Adrien knew enough to know that he had to break them in. He was sure he’d received some strange looks in his classes on Thursday afternoon and on Friday for wearing the combat boots, but he didn’t really care. He was excited for the party, even if the costume was a bit ridiculous.

After he came back from classes on Friday, he made sure to give Plagueis enough food and water for the night and then got ready. He showered, put on his costume, and, using pictures for reference, styled his hair like the character’s. After he was done, he realised how much it looked like bedroom hair. Well, from everything Alya had told him about the character, who was apparently a terrible flirt, it seemed appropriate. Either way, there was no going back now. He opted to save the mask for later, but he put on the cat ear headband.

He and Nino had planned to meet at the S-Bahn station in Wannsee, and go to Potsdam from there. As soon as he saw his friend, Adrien was grateful for his costume. At least he didn’t look like a knockoff ninja turtle (not that he’d ever say as much in front of Nino – who looked self-conscious as it was – and Alya, who he wasn’t convinced wouldn’t murder him in cold blood). Adrien updated his friend on Plagueis’s latest adventures on the way to Potsdam, and once they’d arrived at the Hauptbahnhof, Nino sent off a message to Alya.

They took the tram to her apartment, and when they rang the buzzer, Marinette let them in. Adrien knew they were early for the party at the club, and Nino, wonderful friend that he was, had warned him that they’d be pregaming.

After a short and mostly awkward conversation during which he was sure Alya Césaire would actually murder him, he had a drink thrust in his hand by the girl herself. He was learning, and he wasn’t sure he wanted to know what Alya was capable of, so he drank. The wine was cheap, he could tell, but it wasn’t bad wine.

Marinette was refusing to make eye-contact with him, though, which was weird. Maybe this Nath guy they’d been discussing had been an old flame? If he was her current boyfriend, Alya would have said as much, right? But then it wasn’t difficult to believe that Marinette would have a boyfriend.

Adrien tried to keep himself from going down this path, so he drank more wine.

By the time they went out to catch the bus, Nino’s costume shell on his back and no longer in a shopping bag, and masks on all of their faces, Adrien was pretty sure he was drunk. It was hard to tell, because he’d only been drunk once before, but he and Marinette had finished off an entire bottle of wine. Alya was a bad influence, he realised. Exactly the type of person his father had always warned him about. But she was so much fun. And she was his friend. And she was making out with Nino at the bus stop.

Marinette groaned from beside him. “Do they have to do this every time they get drunk?”

Adrien laughed. “I hope not. But who knows?” He had a terrible, sudden urge to make a flirty joke, but he bit it back. He had no idea how she’d react. And they’d really only just become friends a few weeks ago. And without Marinette, his father would have never agreed to consider letting him pursue his actual passion. He didn’t want to jeopardise anything.

“They’re perfectly tolerable when they’re sober,” Marinette protested, her voice almost a whine.

Without even thinking, Adrien found his arm wrapped around her shoulder. “Well, we’ll just have to make them jealous.” But then he realised what he’d just done and froze. Shit, fuck, no. That was the opposite of not jeopardising anything!

To his utmost relief, Marinette giggled and wrapped an arm around his waist. “Is that so? I think that can be arranged.” She was too short to rest her head on his shoulder, so really, her head rested against his chest.

Fuck. He felt the blood rush to his face, which, all things considered, was better than blood rushing to… other areas. They stayed like that, Marinette making small talk while Adrien tried desperately to not overthink what was happening, until the bus came. It felt like an eternity, but, really, it had probably only been about five minutes.

All four of them piled onto the bus, managing to grab four seats facing each other. Alya and Nino miraculously detached from each other. “Tonight’s gonna be amazing!” Alya enthused. “Like, it’s not a super elite nightclub or anything like that, but it’s where all the students in Potsdam will be tonight.”

Nino raised an eyebrow. “I’d rather go to KuZe personally… or one of the many wonderful bars.”

Alya swatted at him. Adrien felt a weight on his arm, and looked over to see Marinette leaning against him again. He figured he was probably drunk, but she was definitely drunk.

“Getting comfy, Marinette?” Alya teased, wiggling her eyebrows.

“Maybe we’ll just get off at Luisenplatz and go back to the apartment tonight,” Marinette teased right back.

Adrien felt his face heat up again. Shit, shit, shit. He had to play it cool.

Fortunately, Alya narrowed her eyes. “Girl, this is all for you and sunshine child, so you’re coming to the club. Fuck him in the bathroom for all I care, but you’re coming, and staying for at least an hour.”

Marinette wrapped her arms around him. “If you insist…”

He was fucked. This was going to be a terrible night. He knew Marinette was joking, and they were friends , so he wasn’t going to be a dick about it, but he really wished that she… wasn’t joking. That she was actually interested in him. But that would be way too lucky for his track record.

They got off at the stop for the university. Adrien had never been, and even a beautiful girl clinging to him didn’t distract him from the fact that a palace literally took centre stage. “The club’s in a palace?” Adrien asked.

“Nah,” Alya said, waving a hand. “Those two buildings are part of the university. I think they were… other buildings… Nino, you worked on that one short film about Kaiser Friedrich…”

“Adjunct buildings for the staff,” Nino answered. “I think the club’s actually in the emperor’s old kitchens.”

Adrien had a sudden urge to show Chloé; she’d appreciate this. He fished his phone out of his pocket and opened snapchat. Chloé and Nino were, really, his only contacts. He’d fix that tonight. But he snapped Chloé a photo of the palace, as best he could in the dark, and posted a selfie to his story. He’d made the snapchat account under a pseudonym, so none of his modelling fans could find him, so really, only Chloé and Nino would see it, but… he still found the idea of directly snapping Chloé a selfie with Marinette clinging to him rather tasteless, considering he’d intentionally avoided talking about her to Chloé.

They walked across the green to one of the buildings. Really, he was just following Alya and Nino. Along the side of the leftmost building was a sidewalk, which had a line. The sidewalk was on an incline, since the entrance to the club was, really, practically under the normal ground level. This could be cool.

“I’ve never been to a nightclub before.”

“This isn’t a nightclub,” Nino said. “This is a student club. I mean, it’s okay , but we’ll take you to the Berghain at some point.”

“You only get into the Berghain if you’re white and gay,” Alya said.

“He’s white and a model. He’ll get in,” Nino said dismissively.

Marinette was still holding on to him, although she’d gotten a little quiet. Maybe she was sobering up? He vowed to keep an eye on her; he figured Alya would probably go a little crazy, and he wanted to make sure that his friend was safe. That was all there was to it.

Although a nagging voice in the back of his head told him otherwise.

Chapter Text

In retrospect, maybe clinging to Adrien in an attempt to prove a point to Alya hadn’t been Marinette’s smartest decision, but in her defense, she was drunk. Because there was no way she could deal with adorable, dorky, perfect Adrien Agreste in a tight leather catsuit sober . Especially with that bedroom hair. God damn .

But he didn’t seem to mind, really, even if he was blushing. She probably should’ve asked.

What she didn’t expect was for Adrien to turn to her in line and say, “Hey, since the club’s in the basement and we probably won’t have a signal, do you have snapchat?”

“What?” she asked, not sure she’d heard him right.

“Snapchat. I only have two contacts.”

She heard Alya coo from next to them. “Aww you baby ! Here!” She grabbed his phone before he could protest, tapped furiously, and then handed it back to him. “I just added Marinette and myself. I’m assuming Spielberg’s already one of your contacts.”

“Of course I am! What kind of friend do you think I am?” Nino protested.

Adrien nodded. “Yeah. He is. Um, thanks.”

“Who’s the other contact?” Alya asked. To the casual observer (well, one who could understand French, because no one was speaking German in their group), this might seem like a harmless question. Marinette, however, had known Alya long enough to know better. And apparently, Adrien was a fast learner.

“Friend of mine from childhood,” he said quickly. “Well. Yeah. Friend. Pretty sure she’s gay, though, and even if she weren’t, she’d be the last person alive I’d ever date. We… don’t mesh well that way. We’re more… texting buddies or… friends who… only see each other sparingly.”

“And why is that?”

“Honestly?” Adrien said. “She’s a spoiled brat who used to be really mean to everyone around her, so I can only take so much. She’s always been nice to me, but… well… moderation is key with Chloé.”

Marinette froze. Surely he didn’t mean the same Chloé… but then Chloé had always bragged about her model best friend . Oh, shit.

“This wouldn’t happen to be Chloé Bourgeois , the former mayor’s daughter, would it?” Alya asked, having apparently reached the same conclusion as Marinette.

Adrien grimaced. “You know her? Like I said, she’s a spoiled brat. But she was the only person I was allowed to play with as a little kid – my father’s always been overprotective – so… I know she’s not a great person, but until I met Nino, she was the only friend I had.”

Alya’s expression softened, and, for her part, Marinette wanted to wrap Adrien in a blanket, give him hot cocoa, and introduce him to all of her friends.

“You just might want to tell her that you currently are out with Alya Césaire and Marinette Dupain-Cheng, is all,” Alya said.

“I mean,” said Marinette. “After seconde, she really started to keep to herself… and Sabrina and Lila. I don’t think she really… bothered anyone that much in lycée…” And Marinette didn’t want to start pointless drama. Chloé Bourgeois was in Paris. They were in Potsdam. And Adrien really seemed to be, well, the antithesis to everything Chloé had been in collège.

Adrien looked like he was about to say something, but apparently thought better of it.

“I mean, fine,” Alya said. “ You were the one who went toe-to-toe with her every time, anyway.”

“Oh, you were the baker’s daughter!” Adrien said, as if something just made sense. “She complained about you a lot in collège.”

“I didn’t like seeing my classmates get bullied.”

“She was a bully?” Adrien asked, seeming contrite, even though, really, he had no reason to be. “I mean, I knew she was a spoiled brat, but I didn’t realise…”

“It’s not your fault.”

“Sunshine child, I’m sure your wonderful influence greatly tempered her awfulness,” Alya said.

The line started moving. “Regardless,” said Marinette. “We know Adrien is wonderful, and Chloé hasn’t bothered us in years. It’s a moot point. I even had literature with her in terminale. She had terrible taste in literature, but she didn’t really… bother anyone.”

“Okay, let’s drop it, then,” said Alya. “You okay with that, pretty boy?”

Adrien nodded. “Yeah.”

“Then let’s go get more alcohol. We’re up.”

They showed their IDs and paid their covers and went into the club. The place was tiny and packed; Marinette was glad she was small. She looked up at Adrien to see him ducking. Alya, however, pushed her way to the bar. She came back with four shots of red… something.

“Mexikaner!” she said. “They’re, like, spicy! Kind of like a bloody mary, but more booze! And a shot!”

She handed a shot to each of them. Marinette exchanged a cautious look with Adrien, who looked even more unsure than she felt.

“What are you waiting for?” Alya said. “Drink!”

So she took her shot. And it was disgusting . At least the peppermint schnapps had been sweet. She managed to swallow it, but she immediately grabbed Alya by the shoulder. “Never again. That was awful .”

Alya shrugged. “I like it. Anyway, let’s go dance!”

She dragged the three of them onto the dance floor, which was, really, two rooms over. It was extremely packed, and Marinette had never been very fond of dancing, but she knew Alya and what her friend was capable of, so she figured she might as well try to dance.

What felt like an eternity later, Adrien gave her an out. “I’m… gonna go get more alcohol,” he said. Well, shouted. Directly in her ear.

“I’ll come with you!” she volunteered.

So they made their way to the bar, where Marinette ordered a rum and coke, feeling fancy, and Adrien just got one of the cheap beers. Once they had their drinks in hand, he tapped her shoulder. “I saw couches in the next room!”

She nodded, and they went to look for seating. The couches were full, but the next room over revealed a tiny little table isolated in the corner. It was quiet enough to speak without shouting, and no one seemed to be around. Perfect.

“This way we’re still in the club, but we don’t have to dance.”

Marinette nodded.

“I’m really sorry Chloé was awful to you in school.”

“It’s not your fault,” Marinette said. “I’m over it.”

“I’ll try to get her to apologise.”

“It’s fine,” she said. “You don’t have to do that.”

He pulled out his phone anyway, and made a face. “Uh-oh,” he said. He showed the screen to her. There was a text message from a contact named The Most Fabulous Friend In the World (which, Marinette imagined, had not been Adrien’s doing), which read:

Messages with The Most Fabulous Friend In the World

The Most Fabulous Friend In the World: Are you with MARINETTE DUPAIN-CHENG?

The Most Fabulous Friend In the World: ADRIEN.

The Most Fabulous Friend In the World: HOW DID YOU MEET HER

The Most Fabulous Friend In the World: IS THIS A JOKE

“She seems upset,” Marinette said, trying to remain neutral. Just at that moment, the phone buzzed. Chloé Bourgeois’s perfectly contoured face showed up on the screen. “She’s calling,” Marinette said. “You should take it.”

"You sure?” Adrien asked, frowning.

“She’s your friend, Adrien. I don’t want you to lose a friend on my account.”

He hesitated, but answered the phone before it went to voicemail. “Hello?”

How could you not tell me you were with Marinette Dupain-Cheng , Adrien?!

Marinette really didn’t think she should be hearing this, and Adrien held the phone away from his ear.

“First of all, ow, second of all, we’re friends. Her best friend is Nino’s girlfriend.”

Marinette couldn’t hear the reply this time, but she was pretty sure she caught Alya’s name. And, really, Marinette was pretty sure she knew exactly what Chloé was saying.

“Chloé, it’s a Friday night, don’t you have something better to do? Yes, I’m with Marinette right now.” He frowned. “Bossy? Please, Chloé, we all know you like bossy. And she’s not. Well, my father likes her. Somehow. Yes, she’s met Gabriel. He stopped by. Chloé, I’m trying to have a drink with my friend, can we discuss this tomorrow, or something? Go out with Sabrina or something.” He furrowed his brows. “ Lila ? Really. Okay. Go out with Lila then. Have fun. We’ll discuss this later. Goodbye.” He hung up the phone and turned all of his attention to Marinette. “I’m so sorry about that,” he said.

“It’s fine,” Marinette said, although she wasn’t sure it was. What did Adrien say about Chloé liking bossy?

“She didn’t seem to hold any ill will, surprisingly,” Adrien said. He took a sip of his beer. “Although I don’t think she ever really hated you.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“I’m sure she was jealous,” he said. “I mean, you had Alya already, obviously, and you have a good relationship with your parents… your mother’s still around, so that’s a plus. Besides, you strike me as the kind of person who’s everyone’s friend.”

Marinette had half a mind to protest, but, really, Adrien was, more or less, right. “Well, I did make sure to pay attention to Nathaniel, even though he’s so quiet, and… well, the whole Félix thing…”

“Chloé had me and Sabrina and sometimes this girl Lila, but they were… weird.”

“It’s called frenemies,” Marinette said, only too aware of Chloé and Lila’s relationship in lycée.

“Well, whatever it was. Sabrina idolised her. Lila was constant competition. I was the only one who treated her like a person, and… really, she didn’t particularly care for my tiny doses of reality, best I could give them. You had actual friends who wanted to be around you. Plural.”

Marinette shrugged. “I guess.” She took a sip of her rum and coke.

“So what’s this ‘Félix thing’?” Adrien teased.

Marinette took another sip of her drink to brace herself. “My, uh, ex-boyfriend. He was always really… quiet and standoffish, when we met, in seconde. He… well, honestly, I think he was a cat turned into a human. He never engaged with anyone, but I always made sure to make sure he knew that… he could talk to me, and I guess… I think his exact words were ‘Dupain-Cheng, your presence is more tolerable than anyone else in this godforsaken class’, and we ended up becoming partners for a lot of projects, getting to know each other, and… well… we started dating about halfway through première.”

“Oh,” Adrien said. “And you… broke up? I mean, why did you break up?”

She shrugged. “He wanted to take over his father’s business, moved to New York for university, and long distance didn’t work. It sucked, but it happens.” She took a long sip, trying to savor the rum.

Adrien fiddled with the deposit coin in his left hand. “I’m sorry. That must be awful.”

“We knew it was going to happen. We broke up when he came home for Christmas, that first winter, two years ago. I mean, technically, I did the breaking up, but… we both knew it was coming.”

“What, and now he’s engaged to some heiress, or something?” he joked.

Marinette laughed. “Oh, god, no. He doesn’t have Facebook, but we’re contacts on LinkedIn. I mean, I got a LinkedIn, in lycée, so we could be contacts. But he’s definitely not engaged.”

Adrien took another sip of his beer. “Wanna go outside? It’s… a little stifling in here.”

Marinette nodded. “Let’s get more drinks, first.”

She ordered another rum and coke, and he ordered a vodka cranberry. She laughed. “That is the stereotypical white girl drink, you know.”

“Hey, I’ve got to watch my figure. I’m already eating so much carbs and junk here that I think I’m going to piss off my photographer at my next shoot.” He slung an arm around her shoulder and they went outside. After all, they weren’t really leaving the club. Well, they were, but they weren’t leaving the premises. The ambience was still there outside. And they’d need to return their glasses, later, anyway.

Chapter Text

Adrien wondered if Marinette understood just how adored she was. Alya adored her, no doubt about that, Nino was absolutely charmed by her, Chloé , of all people, had just claimed to have been in love with her in lycée, and now this high school boyfriend, who clearly didn’t know what he had, because Adrien would never leave such a wonderful woman to move to a different continent , no matter the reason why.

He was drunk. He was drunker than he’d been the night he’d met Marinette, which was, still, his only experience in being drunk.

“Wait,” he said, once they were sitting comfortably side-by-side on the… column-arch-thing, feet dangling over the edge. They were facing the campus, not the palace. “What was Félix’s last name?”

Because, thinking about it, really, it was familiar. Hell, he’d known Félix, if his hunch was right.

“Oh, god, you don’t know him, too, do you?” She groaned and leaned on his shoulder. “How do the three people you know someone also know me?”

He grinned. “Maybe we’re soulmates. Maybe Chloé and Félix were attempts at getting us together, but it’s Nino who finally did it.” Of course, he didn’t actually believe this, but it made Marinette laugh.

“Clément,” Marinette said.

“So his father is… Georges Clément. Do you have any idea how jealous I was of him growing up?” How jealous he still was of Félix Clément, apparently.

“Jealous of Félix ?” Marinette repeated, eyebrow raised.

“His father adored him, he was allowed to go to school, his mother was, y’know, alive , and then he had a girlfriend, who Chloé swore was gorgeous, and he actually, y’know, wanted to take over his father’s business and wasn’t a giant disappointment?”

“Oh Adrien, I’m sure you’re not a disappointment.”

Her words were nice, and made him feel warm for all of a second, but he knew they weren’t the truth. “My father told me more than once that I should be more like Félix Clément. And now he was your first boyfriend!”

“Well…” Marinette said. “Define ‘first boyfriend.’”

Adrien raised an eyebrow. “There’s a definition?”

“I went on a date with Nathaniel in collège. He was my first kiss. It felt like kissing a sibling, so we dropped it. Does that count?”

“He’s just… the luckiest man alive.”

Marinette sighed. “Adrien, I’m here with you .”

But he doubted she wanted him like she’d apparently wanted Félix. But then, before tonight, he’d known that Félix had already had everything Adrien had ever wanted, and Marinette was twenty years old. Her having had a boyfriend wasn’t surprising. And he knew Félix well enough to know that Marinette had been treated well. And, really, wasn’t that all he could ask for?

He took a big gulp of his vodka cranberry, but that was a mistake. He could taste the (apparently cheap) vodka, and he made a face as it went down.

“You know, I’ve never had a girlfriend,” he said, and he didn’t know why he was saying this. “I was always too busy trying to please my father. And then when I realised it was pointless… well, who’d be interested in a model for more than his looks? And a model who wanted to be a physics teacher? And when I say physics teacher, I mean, like, collège or lycée, not university. And then my mom died when I was fourteen, so do I have mommy issues? Is that a thing? I don’t want that to be a thing. I made fun of Nino for barely having kissed a girl before Alya, but I’ve never kissed a girl in my life, and I’m twenty years old.”

He felt Marinette start to stroke his hair. “Adrien, there’s nothing wrong with that,” she said.

“Sure, maybe not if I had actual friends. This year is going to go by so fast ; I already can’t believe that it’s been a month, and then I get to go back to Paris where my closest friend is really just a glorified shopping buddy and can’t handle any kind of meaningful conversation.”

“Hey,” Marinette said gently. “I live in Paris, you’re forgetting that. I’ll be there.”

He scoffed. “Friends you make studying abroad never last. It’s a thing. Chloé went to America last year, and I don’t think she talks to a single person she met there.”

“Chloé is also shallow and superficial as all hell, Adrien. You’re my friend . I’m here whether you want me to be or not. And once my parents meet you, they’ll fall in love with you and adopt you, and there will be no escape.”

He wished he could believe that. “Well, my father has already decided you’d be a better kid than I would, so maybe it’d only be fair if your parents actually liked me.”

“Adrien,” she said gently. “I’m sure that’s not true.”

“You said yourself, you couldn’t believe that I vouvoie my own father.”

“Yes, that is a bit… excessive , but strict and formal don’t mean unloving or uncaring. Adrien, you’re kind, and compassionate, and you’re very smart. Any father would be lucky to have you, and that includes Gabriel Agreste.”

“I think he cared before my mother died, but once she was gone, so was any ounce of humanity he had left.”

“Why don’t you try talking to him about this?”

He scoffed. “I don’t even have a direct line. To talk to him, I have to go through his secretary. For a face to face meeting, I need to schedule it. Months in advance.” He took another gulp of his drink, wincing again. Another gulp, draining it. He put the cup beside him. “I bet you could call your parents right now and they’d pick up.”

Marinette hesitated, her hand stilling in his hair. “Only because it’s eleven-thirty at night, and they’ve been in bed for four and a half hours, so they know if I call this late, it’s an emergency.”

Great, now he was jealous of Marinette. He heaved a sigh. Marinette started playing with his hair again, and he leaned into her touch, feeling himself start to relax. “I just have shit luck,” he said. “You don’t need to feel bad.”

“Adrien,” she said. God, he did love how she said his name. He couldn’t remember if he’d eaten dinner. Surely that wasn’t a good sign. “You know that you’re wonderful, right?”

“Adrien’s mostly a product of Gabriel’s imagination. ‘S gotten better, but…”

“So Gabriel would want his son to adopt a kitten off the street and name it after a Star Wars villain? And then proceed to make terrible cat puns?”

“You laughed,” he said defensively.

“Your kindness and compassion are definitely you. Your dorkiness is definitely you. Your terrible taste in jokes…” She sighed. “And I think… the Adrien I know is pretty real, because I almost didn’t recognise the Adrien I went to the Lorenz Aldon Esszimmer with.”

“You think?” he breathed, scarcely hoping to believe it.

“Mmhmm,” Marinette hummed. “And I know that with your natural kindness and compassion and dorkiness, Nino, Alya, and I will adore whoever you really are, if you’re so convinced your entire personality is fake.”

“I mean,” Adrien said, “not my entire personality. I just… I’m too polite, and I never… I never say anything unless I’m drunk, apparently. I mean, I talk, but this whole… you know, I used to sneak internet shit? I got really good at deleting browsing data and having secret email addresses as a teen, because I mean, I didn’t really… that’s when Chloé started…”

“It’s okay,” Marinette said.

“I had this whole internet personality, and it’s… nothing like how I am day to day.”

“Adrien,” she said, stroking his hair. “If there’s any sense of anonymity on the internet, we all act different. But Nino met that you, and he seems to view you as you now, too.”

“I got really involved in anime fandom drama,” he confessed. “I think I made some mortal enemies.” It sounded laughable, but Adrien was just glad that the “doxxing” he’d endured was someone publishing his IP address and not, y’know, figuring out that he was Adrien Agreste, rising young model.

“See? Dorky. You’re a dork. But that’s endearing.” She giggled, and it was over.

He knew before he even said it that he was about to do something incredibly stupid.

“Do you want to kiss me?” he asked.

Well, he considered during her shocked silence after the words were out of his mouth, it could have been worse. He could have said he was in love with her, or something even worse (although he didn’t know what could be worse than saying he was in love with her).

“A-are you sure?” she asked, lifting her head from his shoulder and turning to meet his gaze. “I mean, you only get one first kiss. You really want it to be me?”

“You’re amazing,” he breathed. “You’re compassionate and talented and artistic and kind and amazing and… I trust you.”

She giggled again. “You make it sound like you’re about to lose your virginity.”

“My kiss-gininity?”

“I can still say no,” she deadpanned.

Adrien grinned, but shut his mouth. Marinette pursed her lips, thinking.

After what felt like an eternity, she opened her mouth. “Okay. All right. One kiss.”

“You’re the best, Marinette!”

She exhaled. “Okay,” she said, again. She put what was left of her drink down next to her, and then gently slid her hand from his hair down to the nape of his neck. She moved in closer to him, and Adrien could not believe that this was actually happening. He was going to kiss a girl! And a girl as amazing as Marinette!

“Adrien,” she said.

“Huh?”

“You’re like, a head taller than me. You need to lean down if this is going to work.”

“Oh,” he said. He leaned down. She reached up and tilted her head to the side, brushing his lips with hers.

He didn’t know why he didn’t respond immediately, but when she went to pull away, he kissed her back. Her lips were soft, and when she opened her mouth, he tasted the rum she’d been drinking. Holy shit. This was happening.

But then as soon as it started, it was over. She pulled away and smiled at him. He smiled back. After a few seconds, she reached up and kissed his cheek.

“How was that?” she asked.

“Amazing,” he breathed.

It was only later, once Alya and Nino stumbled out of the club and Adrien had called a cab to drive them all home, once Marinette and Alya (and Nino) were back in their apartment, and he was on his way to his, that Adrien realised that he hadn’t asked Marinette out, or even told her that he liked her.

He was a grade-A goddamn idiot.

Chapter Text

She’d kissed Adrien over a month ago, and they still weren’t dating. If she were honest, nothing had really changed. After their conversation, she’d realised that Adrien had enough deep-seated self-doubt that he would probably never make a move. That is, if he actually liked her and didn’t just see her as a friend, which she still wasn’t convinced of.

And the worst part was that Alya and Nino agreed (well, they agreed that he had too much deep-seated self-doubt to make a move; they were both insistent that he liked her).

But Marinette had never asked anyone out before. Nathaniel had asked her on a date, and she and Félix had just kind of happened , once they’d become friends, at least, and sure, she’d been on a few dates in the nearly two years since she and Félix had broken up, but every time, the guy had asked her out. She had no idea what to do.

Well, maybe that wasn’t strictly true. She knew she was going to make him one hell of a present. Er. Two presents. Alya was really pushing the Chanukah and Christmas presents thing, and Marinette didn’t really mind.

She planned on knitting Adrien a scarf. Something green to match his eyes. And she’d gone down to the international bookstore down the street and had maybe accidentally bought him a few books. And maybe she’d gotten a little excited when the Christmas markets had started popping up, and maybe she’d bought some more things for Adrien.

After all, whether or not he liked her, he was her friend, and he was going to essentially be alone during the holidays. He’d explained that his father was spending the month in Milan, and assured her that Gabriel would skype with him at some point, but that there was no point in going back to Paris for the holidays.

She was overcompensating. She knew it. But she couldn’t particularly bring herself to care, and Alya was doing the same. And she was pretty sure that Nino was, too. After all, they were spending Christmas in Paris together with Alya’s family.

Marinette was incredibly thankful that her parents had agreed to visit her. She’d convinced them to stay in Alya’s room, to reduce their expenses. And they were excited to meet Adrien. She knew they’d love him.

And Nath had agreed to visit, too, for his two week Christmas vacation. He’d found some listing from someone who was going home for the holidays, and was going to be staying for the full two weeks. He had a list of museums he wanted to visit, and Marinette had promised to meet up with him, too. She thought he and Adrien would get along, but then… Adrien really seemed to get along with almost everyone, so maybe that wasn’t even a concern.

Despite the lack of progress following her kiss with Adrien, Marinette kept coming over on Tuesdays. Adrien’s apartment was nice, it wasn’t too far, and he had a lot of great video games. On December 5th, she came in to find a note sitting on the controller.

She wondered why Adrien wrote her a note instead of just texting her, but she read it anyway.

Good afternoon, Marinette!
I know you’re really busy, but I wanted to go shopping after class today and wanted to know if you were up for it. Just let me know!
-Adrien

Well, she did have work to be done, but… when she thought about it, if she put off playing video games and did her work now ….

She pulled out her phone and texted Adrien.

Messages with Adrien

Marinette: Meet up at four?

Adrien: Absolutely! Weltuhr on Alexanderplatz? I’ve always wanted to meet up with someone there!

Marinette giggled at his enthusiasm.

Messages with Adrien

Marinette: Sure!

Adrien: It’s a plan!

And then she texted Alya.

Messages with Alya

Marinette: Meeting up with Adrien to go shopping after class

Alya’s response was even quicker than Adrien’s had been.

Messages with Alya

Alya: GOOD. KISS HIM.

Alya: Seriously, MariNETTE make a MOVE. he’s gorgeous and he definitely has a thing for you. DO IT.

Marinette elected to ignore her friend in favour of focusing on her work. Plagueis was still hanging around the apartment, seeming to be Adrien’s cat for good now, and he curled up next to her, purring. He really was an adorable cat. She snapped a picture and posted it on Instagram with the caption, Homework time .

Then it was actually time to focus on her work.

-

She left in time for class, and on the S-Bahn, she checked her instagram feed. Sure enough, Adrien had liked her photo from his official instagram page, although she knew for a fact that he had a private one. But that would explain all of the new likes and comments, because this post was way too popular otherwise.

Alya, of course, had been unable to keep her mouth shut.

alyacesaire commented: We all know that your boy has a cute cat - but why don't you post any pictures of your boy??????? he's adorable too <3

Fuck. She was going to kill Alya and her (intentionally, Marinette was absolutely sure) ambiguous language. Surely Alya had seen that Adrien had liked the photo.

And then, as if that weren’t bad enough, a comment from Adrien’s official account.

adrienagreste commented: @alyacesaire pfft Plag is more adorable than I am. I'm just a model - Plag is a kitten. 

He was just making it worse . And it wasn’t as if the vast majority of his fans couldn’t speak French! He wasn’t her boyfriend! At least…

Shit, did he think he was her boyfriend? But they hadn’t kissed since the club. But then again, they’d both been busy, and they had spent a lot of time together, and she’d never said that it was just a friend-kiss. He was, taking his own word for it, completely inexperienced. She wouldn’t put it past him to think that they were dating.

Just when she thought it couldn’t get any worse, she got another alert.

felixclement liked your post.

She didn’t even realise he’d had an instagram, and so she tapped on his account. It was mostly skylines and pictures of things (books, libraries, coffee, art). But it was him.

And then she got a DM. From Félix, of course.

Messages with felixclement

felixcelement: Adrien Agreste?

marinette.d.c.: we haven’t spoken in a year and all you say is “adrien agreste?”???

felixcelement: I’d just thought I’d have heard if Gabriel’s son had a girlfriend. Don’t want the rumour mill spinning out of control.

That… was a fair point. He had a point.

Messages with felixclement

marinette.d.c.: I appreciate your concern Félix but I can handle myself.

felixclement: Adrien Agreste is a decent guy. I’m not concerned about him. I’m concerned about the celebrity gossip mill. You’re going to fashion school and apparently dating an Agreste. You don’t see the potential problem there?

marinette.d.c.: I said I can handle myself. Isn’t it ten in the morning there? Don’t you have class?

felixclement: Marinette. We didn’t work out because we were too far apart. Adrien lives in Paris. I’m not jealous. I just don’t want to see you dragged through the mud.

marinette.d.c.: Again while i appreciate the concern, ive met Adrien’s father and he knows that I would never use Adrien to get ahead, and I have a feeling Gabriel Agreste has more power to quash celebrity gossip than I ever would. Not that it’s any of your business but Adrien and I met through mutual friends.

She supposed she could have said that they were just friends, but she didn’t. And not just because she wasn’t sure that Adrien didn’t know.

Messages with felixcelement

felixclement: You should at least remind him to use his private instagram for such things. And I hope you do realise that once you two go public, people will know. The tabloids never cared much about me. I wasn’t a model, and I never did anything stupid. Adrien is an active model who’s never had a public relationship. It’ll be different.

Adrien was an active model who had never had any kind of romantic or sexual relationship, let alone a public one. Marinette knew that already.

Messages with felixclement

marinette.d.c.: ill tell him to use his private instragram but honestly félix this is none of your business. I appreciate the concern but we havent talked in a year

felixclement: I apologise for overstepping my boundaries. Regardless, I hope you’re doing well, and don’t forget that if you ever need help with your career, I’m perfectly happy to serve as a professional contact for you. I may not know much about fashion itself, but I can certainly set you up with the right people.

felixclement: And I hope you and Adrien are happy together, as well. I might not be close with him, but I know him well enough to know that he’ll treat you like you deserve to be treated.

marinette.d.c.: thank you

felixclement: You’re welcome.

She exited out of the conversation, feeling weird, and he didn’t respond further. He had a point. She’d never really considered Adrien’s (admittedly relatively minor) fame when she’d thought about dating him. They would likely be fine in Berlin, but when they got back to Paris… it could be an issue.

She pushed it to the back of her mind, and forced herself to focus on her upcoming class.

Chapter Text

If he were honest, Adrien wasn’t sure what to make of his current relationship with Marinette. Was there a relationship? They’d kissed, but nothing had appeared to change, which, really, was his own dumbass fault for forgetting to ask her out or even tell her that he actually liked her.

And so on November first, he resolved to tell Marinette that he liked her, and to ask her out.

…By December fifth, he hadn’t gotten any closer. He’d tried, but every time, there had been some issue, usually him just completely losing his nerve. She was so beautiful, and smart, and confident, and he didn’t know what to do with himself.

He knew, though, that she’d be coming by his apartment later that day, so, in order to avoid losing his nerve yet again , he left her a note. He left it vague - he asked if she wanted to go shopping - and hoped for the best as he left for class.

His Italian class had just started when he’d received a text message from Marinette.

Messages with Marinette

Marinette: Meet up at four?

He tried to ignore his heart hammering in his chest as he replied as stealthily as possible, making sure to include a cat emoji. He’d always wanted to meet someone at the Weltuhr on Alexanderplatz; it seemed so iconic, but it was nowhere near as huge as the Fernsehturm (or the Eiffel Tower, for that matter, which was bigger and even more difficult to find people under). Luckily, she agreed, and with another cat emoji, he confirmed their plans.

He had optics after Italian, which was a definite positive note to his day. It wasn’t that he didn’t like Italian, but it was a four hour block class, and he liked optics so much more. They weren’t that far from each other on campus, so in between classes, Adrien checked his phone. Marinette hadn’t texted him back, but she had posted an adorable photo on Instagram of Plagueis (which, admittedly, had turned out to be a mouthful, and so the kitten was usually called Plag for short).

He liked the photo, and kept scrolling. Right before his class started, he saw that Alya had commented on Marinette’s post. She’d used the word copain to describe him, and while, sure, the word could mean friend , technically, that… wasn’t normally the context in which it was used. And definitely not possessive. Did Marinette think that he was her boyfriend? Not that he wouldn’t be thrilled to be her boyfriend, but… he hadn’t known what to think.

He replied, mostly joking, and making sure to mention Alya in his comment.

Once it posted, that was when he realised.

He was on his public account.

He’d logged on the previous day to post some fluff photo of his university’s library, and he’d forgotten to switch back to his private account. He didn’t want to delete the comment - that would seem suspicious - but he’d definitely fucked up, so he logged back into his main (private and personal) account. He really hoped Marinette wouldn’t be angry, but before he could do any more damage control, his class started.

He forced himself to pay attention to class, and, honestly, once the class had started, it wasn’t that hard to stay focused. He might be a nerd, but he did honestly find physics endlessly fascinating. By the time class was over, he was so hungry that he temporarily forgot about the instagram post. He took the bus home, and made sure to feed Plagueis before making himself a salad. After all, he was a model, and he did need to keep his weight in check.

He did some reading and some problem sets before he had to head off to meet Marinette on Alexanderplatz.

He loved winter. He loved winter clothes, and he loved snow. And he’d always wanted to wear those ugly sweaters he’d seen made fun of on television and online. So he’d bought a bunch. Today, he was wearing a tight, black v-neck t-shirt from H&M, with a very ugly, mostly-black-and-white sweater with neon stripes and polar bear and penguin motifs. He was wearing Gabriel AGRESTE brand jeans, and winter boots to match. His coat, of course, was also from his father’s brand, but he wore a reproduction of Newt Scamander’s Hufflepuff scarf instead of one his father would approve of.

He got to the clock at quarter to four, and Marinette wasn’t quite there yet. He wasn’t sure how she’d be coming out of the station, or even if she would be coming out of the station (she might have elected to take the bus, after all), so he people watched.

Alexanderplatz was packed, as always, and he swore he saw a group of Hare Krishna devotees when he felt a tap on his shoulder. He jumped slightly, but turned around to see Marinette, smiling. Shit, what was the protocol?

He decided after half a second to hug her. “Marinette!” he exclaimed. “I’m so glad you could make it!”

She hugged him back, at least. “Of course,” she said.

He released her. “Uh, so. I need to get gifts for Alya and Nino, and I’d like to do that sooner rather than later. Which is why we’re here. I figure I can get Alya something from the Christmas Market, and Nino something from Saturn? And I want to get them both candy from the market, too, but that’ll obviously be closer to when they leave.”

Marinette nodded.

“Don’t worry,” he assured her. “I’ve got a present for you already.” He’d gotten her some fine fabrics that he wasn’t sure she’d ever been able to work with before, and, to his complete surprise, his father had been more than willing to send Adrien some of his old design sketchbooks from the nineties to give to Marinette.

He just. Somehow needed to match that for Alya and Nino. Somehow. Although for the life of him, he couldn’t imagine how . At least with Chloé, he knew he was going to take her shopping, and buy her some designer something or other of her own choice. Easy. But Alya and Nino...

“Uh, I also kind of… wanted to check out this one store. Since I was gonna try to do Chanukah on my own this year.”

Marinette nodded. “Sure! I don’t have any plans, so we can take as long as we need!”

He grinned. The prospect of spending the entire rest of the afternoon with Marinette was a very appealing one. “Shall we?”

Marinette nodded. They turned around and went into Saturn. It was much bigger than the one in Zehlendorf, but Adrien quickly found his way to the headphones. “Do you know anything about headphones?” he asked Marinette.

She shook her head. “Just that mine are probably terrible.”

He smiled. “I don’t know anything either.” He managed to flag down an employee and explain that he needed DJ headphones for a Christmas present, and ended up just buying the suggested pair. “I’d get him a camera,” Adrien said, “but I feel like I’d be worse at that.”

“Do they even have the quality of video camera he needs here? I mean… most of this stuff just seems like it’s for normal people, you know?”

“Yeah,” Adrien agreed.  “Besides, a camera like that has to be a few thousand euros, and even though it’s no problem for me, I have a feeling I’d have a hard time convincing him to accept that as a gift.” The headphones would already be expensive enough, by Nino’s standards.

“Well, I can help you find something for Alya,” Marinette said. “She has been my best friend for six years, after all.”

Adrien beamed, thankful for her help. They walked through the Christmas market, and Adrien bought them both Glühwein to enjoy as they walked. He eventually decided on a Glühwein mug and a set of shot glasses for Alya, which Marinette thought was a good idea.

Then, they went to the Judaica store. If Adrien were honest, he’d never been in one before. Everything of his mother’s was boxed up somewhere, and while he’d felt perfectly fine asking his father for an old sketchbook to give to a friend as a present (especially since his father seemed to like Marinette more than him), his father never wanted to discuss his late wife. Adrien didn’t even think he could manage to get his father’s permission to look through his mother’s things if he’d still been in Paris. So this, really, was the best option. It was a little ways away, and Adrien realised that he should have planned better, but the shop was still open.

He bought a nice-looking silver menorah and some Chanukah candles with the assistance of the shop worker. Thinking on it, he realised he should buy a kippah, too. He’d had one when he was younger, but wherever it was, it was definitely in Paris somewhere. Not in Berlin. So he also bought a black velvet kippah with Magen David and menorahs embroidered on it. He’d ordered a siddur with French translations online, so he checked out of the store.

He turned to Marinette. “Do you have any shopping you need to do?”

Marinette shook her head. “I’m making most of my presents.”

He checked his watch. It was seven PM. “Do you want to get dinner?”

Marinette nodded, without any visible deliberation. “Sure.” Was this a date then? He had no idea, and he didn’t know if he should ask.

“Uh, I’ve heard… there’s this Russian restaurant by Schloss Charlottenburg, and I don’t think we’re too far… if we just… get on the U-Bahn from here…”

“That sounds like a good idea. I don’t know that I’ve ever had Russian food.”

“Neither have I,” Adrien admitted. “One of my classmates mentioned it.”

“Then it’ll be an adventure.”

He smiled.

Chapter Text

They took the U-Bahn to Richard-Wagner-Platz and walked the few blocks from there. They found the restaurant without much trouble. They were seated in the main dining room, where they took off their coats, gloves, and scarves. Marinette fought back a giggle at Adrien’s tacky sweater. She wasn’t sure if it was supposed to be ironic or not, but he was probably one of the few people on earth who could wear such an atrocity and not look hideous.

Marinette started looking through the menu. She wasn’t a particularly picky eater, but she’d never had Russian food before and had no idea where to start.

“Um, look,” Adrien said.

“Hm?” She looked up at him. He looked uncomfortable.

“I’m… sorry about earlier. I shouldn’t have used my official account. I’d logged on to post a picture of the library the other day and forgot to go back to my regular account.”

“It’s fine,” she assured him. “I’m more annoyed at Alya’s teasing, really.”

“R-really?” he asked, voice unsteady.

Marinette sighed. “Look, over text is one thing. On a public comment on instagram is another. My ex-boyfriend messaged me. Because of that whole… thing.” She rolled her eyes. “He warned me about tabloids.”

“Do you… still talk to him?” Adrien asked, and Marinette wondered if she was imagining his guarded tone.

Marinette almost laughed. Almost. “I haven’t spoken to him in a year; I didn’t even know he had an instagram, and then he messaged me just, ‘Adrien Agreste?’ like it’s any of his business either way.” She still didn’t know if Adrien thought they were dating or not, and, really… she wasn’t sure she wanted to know. “I mean,” she said. “He wasn’t being malicious. But still, it’s none of his business.”

“Ugh,” Adrien groaned, rubbing the back of his neck. “I’m really sorry, Marinette.”

“If you hadn’t replied, Alya would have made another, more blatant comment. You’re fine.” And knowing Alya, she would have. She probably would have stopped short of tagging Adrien’s official instagram account, but Marinette was sure she’d have tagged his private one. And mentioned him being a model. “Really, I’m just glad you didn’t call out her using copain .”

The waiter came over to light the candles at their table and ask for their order, dressed in what Marinette assumed was traditional Russian garb. Adrien easily, in almost accentless German, asked for a few more minutes to look over their menus.

“You must be the only person I know who can speak a foreign language that well.”

Adrien blushed. “I have an ear for languages,” he said. “But it helps. The other Erasmus students I’ve met - which, admittedly, there aren’t very many of, because all of my classes are for native speakers - all thought I was German until I said otherwise.” He shrugged. “But your German is good, too. You just have an accent, and it’s not even that strong.”

She wasn’t sure if she believed him, but she didn’t argue. “Maybe we figure out what we want to eat?”

He agreed, although she couldn’t really figure out why he was blushing. She turned her attention back to the menu, and decided to order a samovar tea and vareniki. She was, honestly, mildly surprised that Adrien didn’t appear to speak Russian, but then again… she’d heard him speak enough German and English that she wouldn’t be surprised if he did speak Russian. She figured she might as well ask. “So which languages do you speak?”

Adrien blushed and rubbed the back of his neck. “Uh, so, fluently, French, obviously, and then English, German, and… well, depending on your definition of fluent, Mandarin Chinese. I’m working on Italian.”

Marinette couldn’t hide that she was impressed. “Wow. That’s. A lot. I don’t even speak Mandarin, not more than a few words, and my mom’s family is from China.”

He shrugged. “Honestly, if my father didn’t pressure me, I don’t think I’d bother with most of them. English is very useful for physics, and maybe I’d have learned one or two of the others, but not to the level I’m at now.”

“But not Russian?” she teased.

He gave her one of his heart-stopping smiles. “No, I can’t say I know Russian.”

Christ, she was in deep. Was this a date? She didn’t know. “S-so, um,” she said.

“Hm?”

But the waiter took that moment to come back. They placed their orders, and Adrien turned his attention back to Marinette. “You were saying?”

“It’s just… I was raised… loosely Catholic, I guess… and I know Catholicism’s monotheistic, but… so’s Judaism, so… how does the whole… doing both Chanukah and Christmas thing work?” She realised how invasive that sounded, and tried to cover for herself. “I-I mean…! If you don’t want to answer; if that’s too personal, you don’t have to answer!”

Adrien smiled. “It’s not too personal. I don’t know how it works for everyone, but neither of my parents were particularly religious. My father’s an atheist, and my mother… I think she just wanted to make sure she passed on all the traditions. I never did… a lot of religious things as a kid. Just the main holidays, so, on my dad’s side, Easter and Christmas, and on my mom’s… Purim, Passover, Shavuot, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Chanukah. I mean, technically Chanukah’s a minor holiday, and so’s Purim, but they were the most fun as a kid.”

“What’s Purim?” she asked. “I mean, my friend Nathaniel’s Jewish, I know what Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and Passover are. And Shavuot, that’s the reading one, right?”

“The reading one?” he repeated. “I mean, yeah I think so. I’m honestly… just kind of getting back into this. I mean… I tried to keep it up for about a year, but… uh, so, when I was ten, my father got into a huge fight with my mother’s parents and… I really didn’t see them afterward.”

“That doesn’t sound like your father at all ,” Marinette drawled, rolling her eyes. “Christ, you were what, ten?”

Adrien nodded. “Yeah. But anyway,” he said. “Purim celebrates Esther and her victory over annihilation and assimilation. Usually there’s a costume party.”

“When is it?”

He rubbed the back of his neck. “Uh… February, usually, I think? I’d have to check.”

“Well,” she said, “if you want to do something for it, I’d be interested.”

He smiled again. “I might be busy, but I’ll definitely let you know. If I’m free, definitely, but...”

“Right. Modelling.”

“It’s the best compromise I could get. I talked him down from every weekend. And that was talking him down from letting me go at all.”

The server came back with their drinks, and as Marinette could see the steam rising off of her tea, she didn’t touch it.

“You know,” Adrien said. “I’m sure… he wouldn’t mind if you wanted to come with me for one during break. I’m usually out of my mind by the time we wrap for the night, and it’d be nice to have you there. My father would pay for your ticket, of course.”

Marinette raised an eyebrow. “That does sound like a… once in a lifetime opportunity, but I think you’re overstating how much your father likes me. I did tell him off when I met him.”

“For good reason. And it shows you have a backbone. He likes you; trust me.”

Well, she supposed if Gabriel Agreste hated her, she would have heard about it one way or another. But she didn’t think that equated to flying her out to… wherever it was that Adrien would be shooting. Unless Adrien thought they were dating and had told his father as much.

Fuck. How did she ask him that without asking him if he thought they were dating?

She decided, instead, to shove that thought away until she could ask Alya later. “Well, if it’s any consolation,” she said, “I’m entirely sure my parents will adopt you.”

Adrien hummed. “It is a consolation.”

“Although they do own a bakery-patisserie. They’ll probably try to fatten you up.”

Adrien laughed. “I’m not really opposed. I don’t think I’m predisposed to becoming fat ; I think my biggest concern is the horror of having an average body shape.” He rolled his eyes at this. “I mean, I like keeping in shape, but I also like eating delicious food.”

“What a challenge,” she teased.

“It is, actually,” he said.

The server came out with their food, and they ate it, making comfortable conversation. Marinette really did love spending time with Adrien. He was gorgeous, of course, but he was so incredibly kind and dorky.

Then the time came to pay the bill. Adrien reached for his wallet, and Marinette got her own out of her bag. “Oh, I can cover it,” Adrien said.

“You got the Glühwein. I can pay my half of dinner.”

She paid her half before he could argue.

Adrien pulled out his phone. “I, uh, wanted to get a cab home. Don’t feel like changing trains or busses. Do you want me to cover you, too? I can pay on the app.”

Marinette hesitated. It was an incredibly kind offer, but… “Tell you what, get me to S-Bahnhof Charlottenburg, and that’s good enough for me. It’s direct from there.”

Adrien looked slightly disappointed, but nodded. “Got it. No problem.”

“Thank you,” she said. “Today was really wonderful.”

Adrien grinned. “I’m glad you had a good time.”

Chapter Text

Why couldn’t he just kiss her, or ask her out, or tell her how he felt? He collapsed on his couch when he got home. Plagueis investigated the bags before coming over to sniff at his human.

“Why are girls so complicated?”

The kitten meowed.

Adrien sighed. “No; you’re right. It’s not girls. It’s relationships. Everything with Alya and Chloé is very simple.” But with Marinette…

His phone buzzed. He checked it.

Messages with The Most Fabulous Friend in the World

The Most Fabulous Friend in the World: Are you doing Chanukah this year since your father isn't around?

Adrichou: Yes.

Talking to Chloé was easy and superficial. Just what he needed right now.

Messages with The Most Fabulous Friend in the World

The Most Fabulous Friend in the World: Wonderful

He couldn’t really fathom why she thought that was wonderful, but she texted him again before he could ask.

Messages with The Most Fabulous Friend in the World

The Most Fabulous Friend in the World: Coming home for Christmas?

Adrichou: No.

Adrichou: What's the point?

Adrichou: Father will be in Milan, and Christmas in the mansion hasn't been great for the past five years.

Adrichou: To say the least.

The Most Fabulous Friend in the World: Then I'll visit you.

He could handle a few days of Chloé, he thought.

Messages with The Most Fabulous Friend in the World

Adrichou: Okay

Adrichou: There's high-end shopping here, don't worry.

The Most Fabulous Friend in the World: I wasn't worried.

They texted back and forth, never about anything serious, and Plag curled up to him, purring. He had half a mind to ask Chloé about Marinette, but he knew that would be a terrible idea. Marinete had texted him at some point during their conversation to say that she’d gotten home safe.

He’d texted her back.

Messages with Marinette

Adrien: Glad to hear it!

Adrien: I had a lot of fun today!

And so he opened another text thread with Marinette, who excused herself about twenty minutes later to do homework.

When Chloé eventually excused herself to get ready for clubbing (on a Tuesday, Adrien was sure to note), he turned on his television and watched some American primetime shows dubbed over in German.

He knew, really, that he ought to do some reading, or problem sets, but he only had linear algebra the next morning, and it was at ten.

At around eleven, he turned the television off and went upstairs to go to bed. Plagueis followed him. The kitten had developed a habit of sleeping on the pillow next to his, which Adrien found absolutely fucking adorable.

As he started to drift off to sleep, he wondered if he could possibly just stay in Berlin, away from modelling and his father and minor fame, forever. He had friends, and he had a cat. He might have a girlfriend, too, or at least a very good friend.

It was more than he’d ever let himself hope for when he’d boarded the plane two months ago.


That Sunday, he got a call at two in the afternoon, as he was sitting with Plag, doing some thermo reading. He checked the caller ID. The Most Fabulous Friend in the World. Chloé.

He answered the phone. “Hello?”

“What's your address?”

He told her his address but made sure to ask her why, exactly, she wanted it. She was probably just going to send him something for Chanukah. He wasn’t too concerned.

“I'll be there within the hour. Just needed your address for the taxi driver. Your guest room is free, right?”

“What?” he asked. Surely he couldn’t have heard her right...

He heard Chloé scoff into the phone. “Adrikins, I’m not going to leave my oldest friend alone for the holidays. Do I need to get a hotel room, or not?”

“No,” Adrien said, “but you might not have enough room in the wardrobe. I'll try to clear my designer clothes.”

“Wonderful. See you soon!”

He sighed, marked his page, closed his book, and gently removed Plag from his lap. He was going to have to clear out his wardrobe in the guest room. He decided to pack them back up in his suitcases, except for a few winter pieces that he could still wear without drawing too much attention to himself. He brought the suitcases to his room and stowed them under the bed. God only knew how much room Chloé would need. He smoothed out the duvet, although he didn’t really need to. Then he made sure the bathroom was clean.

Adrien was by nature a pretty tidy person, so he just needed to close the shower curtain and rinse out the sink basin. He headed back downstairs to pick his reading back up, and ten minutes later, his buzzer went off.

Fortunately, he didn’t need to move Plag this time, so he walked over to the buzzer. “Hello?”

“It’s me!” Chloé sing-songed. Adrien buzzed her in. She came up moments later, the taxi driver behind her.

“Chloé, I could have gotten your bags,” Adrien said.

“Nonsense, Adrikins,” she said.

He turned to the taxi driver. “I can take them from here,” he said in German. He fished into his pocket for his wallet and gave the man a twenty Euro bill. “A tip.”

The man nodded and thanked him, and put Chloé’s two giant bags down. “There are two more in the car.”

“I’ll get them,” Adrien said. He turned to Chloé, switching to French. “I have a cat, so just don’t let him out. Guest room is upstairs to the left, but I can bring your bags up.”

“I’ll order sushi,” Chloé said. “And I hope you have wine.”

“Of course,” Adrien said.

Chloé handed the driver a fifty Euro bill and went into the living room. Adrien grabbed his keys and followed the driver downstairs. He got Chloé’s remaining two bags out of the car and brought them upstairs to the guest room. Then he went and brought up her other bags before going to the living room. She was sitting on the couch, scrolling through something on her phone.

That’s when he noticed what she was wearing.

“Chloé,” he said. “What in the world do you have on?”

She looked down at her outfit – a black mini dress with lace overlay and black stilettos. “What?”

“It’s December.

She waved a hand. “The cabs were heated, the airports were heated, the plane was heated, your apartment’s heated.” She looked him over. “The better question is what are you wearing?”

He looked down at his own outfit. He was wearing Gabriel-brand jeans, but he knew she was referring to his sweater, which had floating cat heads with laser eyes destroying presents. “What?”

“That is the ugliest sweater I’ve ever seen.”

He grinned. “You haven’t seen anything yet. Come on.” He offered her a hand, which she took, and led her up to his room. He threw open his wardrobe and Chloé examined the sweaters. “How many of these do you have?”

“Uh, so, like ten regular tacky winter sweaters, two for Christmas, specifically, and one tacky sweater for each day of Chanukah.”

Chloé sighed and rolled her eyes. “How you’re related to the head of a major Parisian fashion house, I’ve no idea.”

“Mom was a model, too.”

“That’s even worse,” she said. She patted his shoulder. “It’s okay. I’ll buy you something when we go shopping.”

Adrien rolled his eyes. “Fine. Should we get you unpacked? I’m sure your dresses need to be hung up.”

Chloé nodded. Adrien helped her unpack, while he updated her on his life.

“Wait, you kissed Marinette?” Chloé repeated when Adrien reached that part.

He nodded, feeling himself blush, and rubbed the back of his neck. “Uh, we might’ve gone on a date, too, but… I’m not sure it was a date.”

“Walk me through it,” Chloé demanded. So he did, and for her part, Chloé listened as patiently as she could. When he’d finished, she tapped her chin, humming. “It sounds like you’re at an impasse, Adrikins.”

“I don’t know what to do; what if she thinks we’re dating?”

“That’s the problem, isn’t it?” She paused for a moment and then looked as if she’d just had the best idea in the world. “I’ve got it! I’ll push you together!”

“Chloé…”

“Please, Adrikins,” she scoffed. “I had a crush on her in lycée, and I have Lila now, anyway.”

Lila? He furrowed his brows. “Lila? I thought you were with Sabrina?”

Chloé laughed at that. “Oh, god, no. Can’t two lesbians be friends without everyone assuming they’re together?” She playfully swatted at Adrien. “Lila’s much more my type. And anyway, I want to help you.”

“You really don’t have to.”

“I’m going to. When are you going to see her again? We can plan something.”

“Uh, well, she usually comes over here on Tuesdays between her classes…”

“So skip yours and invite her to celebrate the first night of Chanukah with you,” Chloé said.

“What? But if she doesn’t think we’re dating…!”

Chloé rolled her eyes. “Then she’ll think you want to hang out with her as friends. Honestly, Adrikins, you’re hopeless. Here, give me your phone.”

Adrien didn’t want to know what she’d do with it, but he wanted to deal with the consequences of not giving it to her even less. “Don’t ruin this.” He fished the phone out of his pocket, unlocked it, and handed it to her.

Chloé grinned and took the phone. She tapped for a few minutes and handed the phone back to Adrien. He looked at the phone. There was a series of text messages with Marinette.

Messages with Marinette

Adrien: Hey, since you’ll already be in Berlin Tuesday, would you want to stay and celebrate the first night of Chanukah with me?

Adrien: We’d light candles and eat.

Adrien: Although Chloé’s here. She doesn’t hold anything against you, but I thought I should let you know. If that’s a deal-breaker, I’m sure she can find something else to do.

Marinette: That sounds nice. And I’m not worried about Chloé. What time?

Adrien: Great! Just come by after class; I’ll be here!

Marinette: All right

“See?” Chloé said. “And I bet she’ll even love those dorky sweaters you’ve got.”

“You think?” Adrien asked.

Chloé rolled her eyes. “Look, I’ve known Marinette Dupain-Cheng since we were children. I know every boy she dated in school. You’re her type.”

“I hope so,” he said, flopping back on the bed.

And,” Chloé said. “I’ll ask her what the deal is between you two.”

“I just… don’t understand how it’s so hard to ask her out,” Adrien complained.

“Because you actually like her,” Chloé said. “And what’s worse; you’ve gotten to know her.”

“Chloé,” Adrien said.

“Yes?”

“We need to go shopping. If she’s coming over…”

Chapter Text

Marinette wasn’t sure of the dress code for Chanukah at Adrien’s house, but she figured that the way she normally dressed was nice enough. She almost didn’t go to his house between classes, dreading running into Chloé, but she knew, really, that she’d see Chloé anyway.

She turned the key in the door and immediately heard something on the television. She shut the door behind her and made her way into the living room.

Chloé was lounging on the couch, wearing what Marinette recognised as silk pyjamas from a previous season of Versace’s ready to wear line.

She decided to bite the bullet, since Chloé didn’t seem to realise she was there. “Um, hello.”

Chloé hit a button on the remote and paused whatever it was she was watching. “Marinette Dupain-Cheng,” she said, turning to look at her. “How is it that out of the… what, four people Adrien knew before coming here, you also knew three of them?”

“I’ve been wondering the same thing,” she said.

Chloé dove under the couch and pulled out a box. “For you.” She handed it to Marinette. “A peace offering. To begin to make up for my misdeeds.”

Marinette narrowed her eyes. “Why are you being nice to me? You hate me.”

Chloé actually laughed. “Oh, god, no. I’ve never hated you. Granted, I hadn’t had a healthy way to process my sexuality and a lot of that manifested as anger and resentment, and will freely admit that I’m not the best person in the world, but I’ve never hated you.” She shook the box, and Marinette gingerly stepped over toward her and took it out of her hands. “Besides,” Chloé continued. “Adrien adores you, and he’s the only friend I think actually likes me, and I’m not stupid enough to try to do anything to alienate him.”

“Right,” Marinette said slowly. Plagueis padded over, and she petted him, eventually sitting down on one of the bean bag chairs. She looked up at Chloé, who looked less malicious than Marinette could ever remember seeing her, and opened the box.

She almost dropped it when she saw what was inside. She knew Chloé well enough to know that she wouldn’t even know how to go about buying knockoffs, which meant that this was a real Prada bag.

“What the hell,” she whispered.

“Adrien mentioned you’re going to ESMOD. You need a better bag than the one you have. This should fit your laptop, if you need it, and pretty much everything else you need.”

Marinette pulled the bag out of the box. It was large, grey, and had handles as well as a strap. The leather was extremely soft, but the bag itself looked durable.

“Chloé, I can’t accept this.”

“Cut the bullshit, Dupain-Cheng. You love it, and you’re keeping it.”

Marinette wasn’t sure what to say, but as it turned out, Chloé had her own plans.

“So what, exactly, is going on between you and Adrien?”

“What?” Marinette said.

“Let’s be real, here, Marinette, the boy is beautiful, but he’s clueless. So what’s going on between you two, for real?”

“Look, Chloé, it’s really not any of your business.”

Chloé rolled her eyes. “Then you need to talk with him about it because he keeps texting me about you. I bet Nino already got too annoyed of it.”

He… texted Chloé about her?

“You’re both too busy trying to tiptoe around each other and so worried about offending or hurting each other, but trust me: you won’t hurt him. And if you do just want to be friends, I think he deserves to know.”

She had a point. Since when did Chloé Bourgeois make decent points?

“Anyway, I’ll get back to watching my movie.”

Marinette really needed to talk to Adrien.


She came back to Adrien’s apartment after she was done class. Plag met her at the door, and she could hear Adrien and Chloé talking in the living room.

“Hello!” she called. She reached down to pet the kitten, and when she looked up, Adrien was in the hall, wearing a very tacky Chanukah sweater , featuring a giant Star of David surrounded by four dreidels.

“Nice sweater,” she commented. Looking him over, she knew. “You have seven more of those, don’t you?”

Adrien grinned. “Not seven more of this exact design , but seven more tacky Chanukah sweaters, yes. But don’t worry; I have a couple for Christmas, too.”

“Thanks for inviting me. I don’t think I’ve ever been over someone’s house for Chanukah before.”

“You said you had a Jewish friend from school?”

Marinette nodded. “Nathaniel, yes, but he never invited me over for holidays.”

“Well,” Adrien said. “Now you have been. Invited, I mean. Uh, so, we were just about to start making food, even though, technically, nothing starts until sundown.”

“Sounds fun,” Marinette agreed. “What’re we making?”

Adrien grinned. “Latkes, sufganiyot…”

“Sufgan… what?”

“Sufganiyot. They’re like… jelly doughnuts. My mother always used to make them.”

“Are we making them from scratch?” she asked.

Adrien rubbed the back of his neck. “I found a recipe online. How hard can it be?”

“Speaking as someone who essentially grew up in a bakery… harder than you’d think.”

“...Is cheesecake hard, too?”

Marinette sighed. “Please tell me you went down to the local bakery and bought some cheesecake.”

“I went down to the grocery store with Chloé and a recipe and we bought the ingredients.” He had the decency to blush.

“Was your inviting me here just an elaborate ruse to get your food to turn out?”

Adrien looked horrified . “No, no, no! Not at all!” he insisted. “Honestly, if you hadn’t come, I probably would have gone to the bakery and said that Pfannkuchen and Quarkkuchen would suffice. But I thought cooking could be fun! If you don’t want to, though…”

“Relax,” Marinette said. “I was teasing you. Of course I’ll help. Where do we start?”

Adrien grinned and shrugged. “What takes longer: cheesecake or doughnuts?”

“Cheesecake,” she said. “But we’ll start the dough for the doughnuts first.”

They went into the kitchen, and Marinette found the mixer and a cake pan. She poked her head out to the living room. Chloé was lounging on the couch, still wearing the same pyjamas. “Chloé, do you want to help?”

“Not really, thanks.”

Marinette wasn’t sure what she’d expected, but she shrugged. “Thought I’d ask.” She turned back to Adrien. “So, first thing’s first. We need to make the dough.”


After the dough was rising, the filling prepared, and the cheesecake was in the oven, Marinette and Adrien went out into the living room. Chloé was still sitting on the couch, watching television.

“Thanks for your help, Chloé,” Adrien teased.

“I would’ve just ruined everything, anyway.” She didn’t seem remotely concerned by this prospect.

Adrien sat down on the couch. “I think we should wait until the food is ready to light the candles. Besides, it’s not really that late, yet.”

“What’s for dinner?” Chloé asked.

Adrien rubbed the back of his neck. “I was gonna make latkes, and blintzes too.”

Marinette had a sneaking suspicion that this was also a labor-intensive dish, so she asked. “What are those?”

“Potato pancakes, but I got frozen ones at the supermarket, and… well, I got some blintzes from this Russian grocery, or close, anyway. It’s just heating up.”

That was a relief. She’d enjoyed cooking with Adrien thus far, but she’d done most of the work, and thus far they’d made things she knew how to make, more or less. Potato pancakes and whatever blintzes were were probably far out of her comfort zone.

Adrien enthusiastically explained the traditions while Chloé continued watching television. “What?” she’d said at Marinette’s pointed look. “We grew up together; I know all of this.”


Eventually, it was time to take the cheesecake out of the oven and start making the doughnuts. Adrien had a deep fryer, although Marinette didn’t ask whether he’d bought it or his father had. She’d learned to avoid talking about Gabriel around Adrien.

“I think, traditionally, they’re fried in a pot, but this seemed… less dangerous,” Adrien said when he pulled out the fryer.

Marinette nodded. “That was a good call.” Frying in a pot was dangerous even for experienced cooks, and she knew Adrien definitely did not qualify as an experienced cook in the slightest.

They fried the doughnuts and covered them in sugar, and then let them cool for a bit. Marinette turned to Adrien. “Do you want to get a frying pan deep enough to cook the… latkes , right?”

Adrien nodded and smiled. “Latkes, yeah. Sure.” He rummaged around in a cabinet and returned with a large frying  pan. “Those are supposed to be cooked in olive oil.” He grabbed a bottle of olive oil from the counter, and got the frozen potato pancakes from the freezer. “Figured if I couldn’t make them myself, I might as well fry them in the right kind of oil.”

Marinette nodded and helped him set up. “We need to let the oil get hot, first, but let’s make sure that there’s no freezer burn or ice on any of the latkes, because… trust me, throwing ice into a hot frying pan of oil can cause a fire.”

“Has that happened to you before?” Adrien asked, eyebrow raised.

Marinette blushed. “Maybe,” she said. It had, and he had to know that. “When I was fourteen or fifteen,” she admitted. “But nothing got damaged!”

Adrien laughed. “Sure.”

They heated up the food together comfortably, and when they were done, Marinette and Adrien brought the food out to the dining room since there wasn’t a table in the kitchen. They set up the food, and three plates, and then she followed Adrien back into the living room.

“Time to light the candles!” he announced.

The menorah was already set up, and Adrien took the little black skullcap he’d gotten at the shop and put it on. Chloé even came over.

Adrien took the little book from the coffee table, and opened it to a bookmarked page. “It’s been a while,” he confessed. “I don’t remember the Hebrew.”

He lit the candle in the centre. Marinette was surprised when he began singing; his voice wasn’t quite as beautiful as the rest of him, but he wasn’t tone deaf. She didn’t recognise the words at all, so she assumed they were Hebrew.

After he was apparently done singing, he took the candle from the middle and lit the other candle in the menorah. He put the candle from the middle back and turned to them. “So… let’s eat.”

Chapter Text

When he’d left to go to Berlin, Adrien had thought, perhaps, that it might be nice to celebrate Chanukah, but he didn’t imagine that he’d be celebrating it with friends.

The cheesecake and sufganiyot were delicious , and he said as much to Marinette, who blushed. After all, he’d have been a complete disaster without her help in the kitchen.

Chloé had picked at her food and shot Adrien a half-apologetic look. “Adrikins, this looks… delicious , but I’m on a strict diet, so I’m going to have to go for some salad instead.”

Marinette rolled her eyes, but Adrien shrugged. “Sure. But at least try the sufganiyot and a little bit of cheesecake.”

Chloé huffed. “Fine. I’ll just go get some salad first.” With that, she took a sip of her wine and went into the kitchen.

“So,” Adrien said.

“So…”

“What did you think?” he asked.

Marinette smiled. “It was nice. Nothing I’ve ever done before, like I said… but I’m really glad you invited me.”

Chloé had invited her. “I am, too. But, uh, about that…” He rubbed the back of his neck. “Chloé actually stole my phone and invited you. I wanted to, but… I think I kept annoying her about it.”

Marinette blushed. “It didn’t quite sound like you.”

Adrien blushed, too, and took a sip of wine. “Yeah, well… Chloé can be… a lot, but… she’s really… mellowed out a lot.”

“Dating Lila is good for me,” Chloé said loudly, entering the room with a bowl of salad in hand.

“...Lila Rossi ?” Marinette asked.

“Yes,” Chloé said. She made her way to her seat and sat down. “We’ve been friends for years… it just sort of… happened. Admittedly, we’d both had a bit to drink.”

“I just didn’t think dating Lila Rossi would make anyone more compassionate and mellow.”

Chloé smirked. “You should see Lila now.” She took another sip of wine.

“And how’s… Sabrina?”

“The same,” Chloé said. “Only I think Lila and I are managing to rub off on her horrendous fashion sense. But then… growing up as the heir to a major fashion house didn’t do much for this one.” She jerked a thumb at Adrien. “Although part of me thinks she’s going to die a virgin.”

“Chloé,” Adrien said.

“Adrikins, she literally refuses to even get a dating app . Honestly. It’s not even that she’s insecure in her sexuality.”

“Even so,” Adrien said, “I think it’d be better if we stopped talking about other people without them here to defend themselves.”

“Wait, wait!” Chloé said. “What’s Césaire up to? You said she’s dating your friend Nino, right?”

Adrien nodded. “They go to the same university.”

“Konrad Wolf, in Babelsberg,” Marinette added.

Who in where ?” Chloé asked.

“It’s the name of the school,” Adrien said. “Konrad Wolf. He was a famous film director in East Germany, and… he shot in Babelsberg.”

“I’m surprised you don’t know what Babelsberg is,” Marinette says. “You always followed trends and celebrities in school.”

Chloé shrugged. “If they’re not filming in Paris, why should I care?” She sipped at her wine. “So Césaire’s going to film school?”

“Well,” Marinette said. “She’s studying digital media culture. I think she wants to go to grad school, later, but I’m not sure what, exactly, she wants to study there.”

Chloé hummed. “So are you going to use your bag or not?”

“Bag?” Adrien asked. He looked from Chloé to Marinette.

“Chloé, it’s a real Prada bag.”

Chloé rolled her eyes. “And? This dress is Versace. Are you going to use it, or not?”

“Chloé, you got Marinette a Prada bag ?”

Chloé shrugged. “I was a bitch to her in school. It was the least I could do to make up for it.”

And, Adrien realised, that would be more than enough with Sabrina. Chloé was rarely mean to Adrien, so he’d never required anything more than a verbal apology. But Marinette was a different person entirely.

“Besides,” Chloé said. “She’s going to fashion school, and Adrikins, you and I both know what that fucking industry is like. She needs to impress them.”

“I’ve won several contests with my designs,” Marinette contested.

“And that’s all well and good, but it’s not going to impress the sharks around you. You’re so obviously middle class, and they can smell it.”

“There’s nothing wrong with being middle class.”

Chloé jerked a thumb at Adrien. “You think his father believes that? Or anyone else in the fashion industry, for that matter? Trust me, that bag will help your career. Even when it becomes last season.”

Marinette furrowed her brows. “Wait, Chloé, are you actually trying to be helpful ?”

Chloé heaved a sigh. “ Finally , you get it. Yes. I’m being helpful. If you don’t want my help, though, I’ll return the bag and get something for myself.”

The two girls stared each other down and Adrien felt too nervous to even eat, but eventually Marinette pursed her lips. “Fine. I’ll use it. My parents will go ballistic when they see it.”

“Just say Adrien bought it for you,” Chloé said, returning to her salad.

Chloé had said that she hadn’t gotten a straight answer out of Marinette, and he knew that he needed to talk to her about it, but surely, he thought, her blush must mean something ?

Chloé looked between the two of them and rolled her eyes. “Or say your lycée bully is friends with Adrien and wanted to make up for being such an awful bitch.”

“I’m… honestly not sure which would make my parents more comfortable,” Marinette said.

“Either way,” Chloé said. “I’m glad you’re keeping the bag.”


After Marinette had left (with leftovers, because Adrien knew better than to leave most of a cheesecake and almost a whole batch of sufganiyot in his apartment), Chloé went back to the living room. “She likes you.”

Adrien sighed. “Chloé, stop.”

“I’m just saying. She likes you. I know when Marinette is just being nice – that’s not it. Remember, I was there when she and Félix got together. I mean, granted, she’s a lot less of a clumsy, babbling wreck now.”

Adrien frowned. He couldn’t imagine Marinette behaving that way. “What do you mean?”

Chloé shrugged. “She used to be so… I don’t want to say pathetic, because I know you’re in love with her, or whatever, but… there’s no other word for it. She’d stumble over her words, trip over her own feet, and generally act like a nervous wreck around fucking Félix Clément, which I still don’t get.” She put her feet up on the coffee table. “Adrikins, you’re a delightful ray of sunshine. If I had to be with a man, it’d be you. Fortunately, I don’t have to, and I can be with Lila, but you get my point.”

“I don’t know that I do.”

“Félix Clément was always so fucking obnoxious . Like, he couldn’t be seen being social with anyone, ever, because he was just so special, but of course he developed a soft spot for Marinette, because she’s just that wonderful , right?”

“You know,” Adrien said. “I have some wine. It’s cheap, and it’s not kosher, but I’ve never kept kosher anyway, and I’m not about to try now. But it’s a chocolate red wine.”

“...Chocolate wine?” Chloé repeated, raising a perfectly sculpted eyebrow. “That sounds disgusting.”

“It does, right? But it’s really good.”

Chloé heaved a melodramatic sigh. “Fine. Might as well.”

Adrien went to get the wine and two glasses, and returned less than a minute later.

“Ugh, it’s a screw top ?” Chloé asked.

“You don’t have to have any.”

“Pour me a glass, asshole.”

He did. She took it and sniffed it. “It doesn’t smell completely horrible…”

He poured himself a glass. “It’s good.”

Chloé side-eyed him, but took a sip. “It’s not… terrible .”

“Thanks for inviting Marinette,” he said, drinking from his own glass.

“Adrien,” Chloé said, “what you have to understand is that I know exactly how lonely it was growing up like we did. We wouldn’t be friends if we hadn’t grown up together. Our miserable fucking childhood is the only thing that binds us together. That and not having mothers.” She took another sip of wine, and didn’t look at him. “Marinette is a good person, and no one person can fix everything… but having people around you who love you unconditionally helps a lot more than you’d think.”

“Who do you have?” Adrien asked.

“You, Sabrina. Lila loves me, but she shows it in creative ways sometimes. And, of course, there’s Dr. Tailler.” At that, she did meet his eyes. “A therapist wouldn’t be remiss, you know.”

“I know,” Adrien said.

“Adrien, seriously. The way your father treats you… the way he makes you desperate for approval… that’s not normal, or healthy. I might have had a lot of problems growing up, but my father was never one of my problems. Not like that.” She looked at him pointedly. “Therapy might help.”

Adrien sighed. “Yeah, maybe.”

“At least consider it.”

“I will,” Adrien promised. After all, he knew Chloé would hound him if he didn’t. Although Adrien wasn’t sure how he’d get away with going to therapy without his father catching on, or how he’d manage to explain it to him in a way that didn’t make it clear that his reason for going to therapy was Gabriel himself.

“Now,” Chloé said. “Are you ready to watch the trashiest reality TV show of all time?”

Adrien grinned. “Always. But remember: for every episode of trashy reality television, we watch an episode of anime.”

“You’re such a fucking dork.”

Chapter Text

Marinette, unfortunately, didn’t have time to spend another night of Chanukah with Adrien, but he was more than understanding and sent her selfies of himself in all of his tacky Chanukah sweaters on snapchat. She screenshot all of them, even though she knew he’d be able to tell. She told herself (and Alya) that she was dropping hints, but the reality was that she was just thirsty, and Adrien was just so  perfectly  sweet and dorky.

She had a lot of work to do for class before break, but as soon as break came, she was more than happy to meet Nathaniel at the airport. He was flying into Schönefeld, so she got to take the Regio in to meet him.

In the past few months, she’d gotten well-accustomed to Berlin’s public transit system. Getting to Schönefeld was easy. From Potsdam, she just took the RB22 to Schönefeld, and found his flight information from the signs out front. She went to his gate and opened her sketchbook while she waited. She still had a good half hour before his flight came in.

She was so caught up in sketching that Nathaniel was the one who found her.

“Glad to see you’re keeping an eye out,” he teased.

She looked up. Nathaniel was standing next to her, bags in hand.

“Nath!”

He grinned. “Hey, Marinette!”

She wrapped her arms around him in a hug. “How was your flight?”

“Not bad. It was Ryanair, so it wasn’t all in German, which was good because I can’t speak a word of it.”

Marinette laughed and released him. “You could’ve always taken German with me and Alya.”

“I stand by my decision to learn and forget Spanish, thanks,” Nathaniel said with a smile.

“So let’s go to your apartment. Is it a flatshare, or what?”

“Flatshare. Apparently AirBnB is illegal here?”

Marinette furrowed her brows. That was strange, but then… she didn’t doubt that that could cause problems. “Well, give me the address and I can plug it into my public transit app.”

He did so, and Marinette took one of his bags as they walked to the S-Bahn together. “So how’s Berlin been?”

“It’s been great,” said Marinette honestly, “but it’s also ESMOD, so it’s also a lot of hard work. And apparently Gabriel Agreste is looking at my work now, which only adds on to the stress.”

Nathaniel’s eyebrows shot up. “Gabriel Agreste? How’d you manage that?”

“I’m kind of… talking to his son? I mean, we were friends, but then we kissed, and now… I don’t know, we haven’t  talked  about it, and we text a lot, and we’ve gone on what  could  qualify as dates, but I feel like maybe I’m overthinking this.”

Nathaniel rolled his eyes. “You’re the same as ever. I leave you alone for not even three months and you manage to get another hopelessly hot boyfriend.”

“You don’t know that he’s hot.”

“Marinette,” Nathaniel said, “he’s  Adrien Agreste . Unless Gabriel Agreste has some  other  son I don’t know about, your boyfriend’s face is plastered all over Paris. And he’s hot.”

Marinette huffed. “That’s not why I like him.”

“Oh, I know it’s not,” said Nathaniel. “I know you. You have too much integrity to date someone because their father is famous, and you’d get bored to death of someone who doesn’t have a personality.”

“He’s really nice. And dorky. And funny. Nath, he adopted a kitten off of the streets and named it after a minor  Star Wars  character.”

“Lock that shit down. Marry him.”

“Now you sound like Alya.”

Nathaniel grinned. “Marinette, as hard as it may be to hear: sometimes Alya is right.”


They got to Nathaniel’s flat without any problems. His roommates for the next two weeks seemed nice, and spoke English (which Marinette had assumed, but it was nice to know that Nathaniel would be able to function just fine).

Nathaniel had just finished unpacking his bags when Marinette got a text.

Messages with Alya, Nino & Adrien

Alya
Hey losers I’m in Berlin picking up Nino let’s get lunch before I have to leave!!!

Adrien
I’m down

Marinette: Nathaniel’s with me. We were going to get lunch, but I can ask him if he wants to join us.

Alya
You’d abandon your BEST FRIEND for NATHANIEL???
Jk jk ask him

Marinette turned to Nathaniel. “Hey, some friends of mine are grabbing lunch. Do you wanna join us?”

“That depends,” Nathaniel said, “do they speak French?”

“They  are  French. It’s Alya, her boyfriend, and Adrien.”

Maybe, in retrospect, that was a mistake, because Nathaniel grinned wickedly. “ Adrien , huh? I’d love to meet him.”

“Of course you would,” Marinette muttered. She texted the group back

Messages with Alya, Nino & Adrien

Marinette: Nathaniel's game

Alya
Perf!

Marinette: When & where?

Alya
Idk I kind of feel like I want GERMAN FOOD you know
My mother will stuff us full of french & caribbean food so I’ll have enough of that
Hold on I’ll find something


And so, half an hour later, Marinette found herself at what was decidedly a tourist establishment on the Schiffbauerdamm, across the Spree from Bahnhof Friedrichstraße.

“You know,” Nathaniel said, “I thought half the point of having a friend who lives here was to  avoid  tourist spots.”

“Alya’s leaving for Christmas. It was her choice.” Not that Marinette would have stood by that choice, but she saw Alya approaching, Nino struggling to keep up.

“Glad to see Alya’s the same as ever,” Nathaniel said with a smirk.

“She’s… mellowed out some,” Marinette defended weakly.  Some  really was the operative word. Ayla was still a force of nature.

Alya and Nino reached Marinette and Nathaniel, and Alya threw her arms around Marinette in a hug. “I’m gonna miss you! And the worst part is, I can’t even go to my favourite bakery because  someone  is kidnapping the proprietors.”

“Hey, I wanted to get the most out of Berlin for Christmas, and my parents just wanted to see their only child. It’s not my fault.”

Alya huffed and released Marinette, only to move on to Nathaniel. She didn’t hug him, which Marinette thought really was for the best, but she did jab a finger at him. “And you! Why were you too busy to hang out the last time I was in Paris?”

Nathaniel looked vaguely panicked. “I didn’t know you wanted to?”

Alya grinned. “Just kidding.” She turned back to Marinette. “Where’s Sunshine Child?”

“I don’t know,” Marinette said honestly, “why don’t you ask his  best friend ?”

“But you’re his girlfriend.”

Marinette blushed and Alya heaved a sigh. “You two  need  to talk about that.”

“I know,” Marinette assured her. “We will.” Or, at least, she hoped they would. They really hadn’t gotten any farther, and they certainly hadn’t discussed anything. They hadn’t even  kissed  again, really, so it wasn’t even like Marinette could safely assume…

“Hey guys! Marinette!”

Adrien had come from the opposite direction as Alya and Nino, so Marinette hadn’t seen him coming. They did la bise all around.

“Hey, Adrien,” she said.

“Sunshine Child!” Alya exclaimed. “I have your presents!”

Adrien blushed. “I was hoping you’d forgotten about that.”

Alya gasped and pressed her palm against her chest in horror. “Sunshine Child! I would  never !”

Rather than dignify this with a response (apparently learning), Adrien turned to Nathaniel. “Hi, you must be Nathaniel.”

Nathaniel nodded. “And you must be Adrien.”

Adrien blinked. “Marinette’s… told you about me?” he asked in a tone which made Marinette’s heart absolutely  wrench .

“Of course I have,” Marinette said. “Now, let’s go inside before we freeze.”

The restaurant was decently sized, but pretty crowded. A server showed them to a table (Marinette noticed she was between Adrien and Nathaniel), and they looked over the menu. Marinette noticed the televisions around the dining room. “What’s that?”

Alya looked over. “Bierbörse,” she said. “Beer prices fluctuate. But  I’ve  got to drive all the way to Paris, so I’m stopping at one.”

“Why are you  driving ?” Nathaniel asked. “I took fucking Ryanair.”

“It’s more fun and less stress,” Alya said with a shrug. “Besides, I can pack enough snacks and drinks that Ryanair would never allow. And,” Alya continued, reaching into a bag. “I need to give a certain sunshine child his presents.” She pulled out two wrapped packages and handed them over the table to a blushing Adrien.

“Alya, I told you…”

“Oh, shut up,” Alya said. “Take the presents.”

Adrien did as he was told. “I have a present for you, too. I already gave Nino his.”

“Open yours first.”

He did. One of the packages, wrapped in festive red and green paper, was a book. “It’s apparently a German bestseller,” Alya said. “Figured you needed something besides physics textbooks.”

“Thanks, Alya,” Adrien said.

“Open the next one.”

The other package was wrapped in blue and white paper. Adrien opened that to reveal matching green cat-themed sweaters for a cat and a human. Adrien held the sweater up to himself. “How’d you get this?”

“I commissioned it. Would’ve had Marinette do it, but she was a little busy herself. You like it, right?”

The human sized-sweater had a black cat on the centre, and the cat-sized sweater had a blonde-haired human man’s face on the centre.

“It’s… a little creepy, but definitely something I’ll cherish.”

Alya grinned. “That’s what I thought. Now, I’m getting an Alsterwasser. You guys are on your own. The limit of my kindness was getting us all together.”

Chapter Text

“But wait,” Adrien said. “I didn’t give you your present.” He put his book and sweater away and fished through his messenger bag until he found the gift bag containing Alya’s present. He passed it over the table to her, and she opened it eagerly.

Sunshine child ,” Alya gasped. “I love you!” She pulled out the Glühwein mug and shot glasses for everyone to see. “If we weren’t all out in public, I’d jump across the table and hug you right now.”

“Careful,” Nino said, “you might make your boyfriend jealous.”

“Hey,” Alya said. “ Everyone wants to hug Adrien. He’s wonderful. Go on, deny it.”

Nino raised his hands in surrender. “Okay, okay, he’s great. He’s my best friend, after all.”

“Good,” Alya said, looking smug. She wrapped the glasses and mug back up and put them safely in her bag. “Adrien, you are an angel.”

“Thank you?” Adrien said. By now, he was more or less used to such strange behaviour from Alya (did Alya even have normal behaviour?), but he still never knew quite how to respond.

His thanks, it seemed, sufficed. Marinette, at his side, smiled at him. “I had no idea we were doing this, so your gifts from me are still in my apartment,” she said. “We’ll have to meet up at some point to exchange gifts, but we’ll both be here.”

Adrien nodded. “Yeah.”

“And besides,” Marinette said, “we should spend time together, anyway. My parents are coming tomorrow, and they want to take us out to dinner?”

“Us?” Adrien asked. He wondered, once again, if Marinette thought he was her boyfriend. He wouldn’t protest, of course; he wanted to be her boyfriend. But she was so smart and so pretty and so confident and he didn’t even know who he was, really, having spent so many years bending over backwards to please his terrible father. Why would she want him?

But god, Marinette made him feel safe, and cared for, and he was pretty sure that he could live on her smile alone for days (not that he’d actually try that). In that moment, he made a resolution: he’d ask Marinette to be his girlfriend, officially, by New Years’. After all, if she thought they were together, then… talking about becoming official was still a thing, right?

Or, at least, that’s what the media he’d consumed told him. Nino wasn’t much more experienced in this than he was.

“Well, yeah,” Marinette was saying. “Of course.”

She didn’t elaborate further, and Adrien didn’t ask her to, although he did catch Alya’s look directed squarely at Marinette.

Adrien thought back to minutes before, when he’d been introduced to Nathaniel. Marinette told people about him. That had to count for something, right? She wouldn’t just… do that if she didn’t care about him, right?

...But she would if she thought they were just friends.

Adrien forced himself not to go down that path, and was relieved when the waiter came by to take their orders. He’d been drinking perhaps a few too many beers than his dietician or PT would be happy about, but he was in Germany … and so he ordered a Rex Pils with his dumplings in caper sauce. Carbs on carbs, but he didn’t care.

The beers came out first, and he noticed that Marinette, as usual, had gotten a glass of white wine. She shrugged when she caught him looking. “I still don’t really like beer… even if it’s cheap.”

“That’s fair enough,” Adrien said. “You don’t have a restrictive diet to rail against.”

“That I do not,” she agreed. “Although I’m not sure I’d drink beer just to rebel when I could eat things I actually enjoy which would break that diet just as badly.”

“Mm, fair. There was this bakery in Paris… I’d die for their macarons,” he confessed.

Marinette smiled. “When we get back to Paris, I better not find out that this is my parent’s top competitor.”

“I certainly hope not,” said Adrien.

They spent the rest of the meal talking and laughing, and when Alya and Nino announced that it was time for them to leave if they wanted to arrive in Paris at a decent hour, Adrien felt a pang of regret. His classes were on break until after New Years’, and he didn’t really have anything to do. His father hadn’t scheduled him for a photoshoot (although he’d wanted to, and Adrien was sure some poor photographer or five got the pleasure of facing the wrath of Gabriel Agreste), and he was, well, alone in Berlin for the next week.

He was sure, of course, that he’d see Marinette at some point, but… well…

After she’d hugged Alya goodbye, Marinette grabbed Adrien’s wrist. “We wanted to go to the Computerspielemuseum . Did you want to come with us? Apparently we can take the S-Bahn to Alexanderplatz and walk down Karl-Marx-Allee from there.”

“Absolutely!” Adrien agreed. “I’ve been there a few times; it’s always a lot of fun.”

Marinette smiled at him and Adrien felt his heart skip a beat. “Well, that bridge over there leads right to the S7 and S5…” she pointed. “Let’s go now.”


It was amazing , hanging out with Marinette. He’d been concerned about Nathaniel maybe feeling like a third wheel (or, more accurately, making Adrien feel like a third wheel), but that turned out not to be an issue at all. Nathaniel parked himself outside of the museum, claiming it was a beautiful day (which it was, if you could discount the cold), and said that he wanted to draw.

Which meant, of course, that it was just Adrien and Marinette alone in the museum. They went through the actual museum part, documenting the history of video games. The arcade was packed when they went by, which wasn’t surprising given the time of day, but they miraculously found one of the consoles to be free. To be fair, it was Pong, but holy shit Marinette got competitive.

After she’d thoroughly kicked his ass, when he thought he couldn’t be any more impressed or in love with her, she turned to him with an innocent smile. “Oh, did I not mention?”

“Mention what?”

“Oh, just that I took first place in the Parisian Ultimate Mecha Strike III tournament.”

He blinked. And then he blinked again. Holy shit. “That’s so cool!” he exclaimed. “I knew you were good at games, but holy shit, Marinette!”

“Yes, yes,” Marinette said. “I’m amazing.”

“You really are,” he agreed. He felt… something pass between them, and he thought it might be a good time to talk to her about… whether or not they were together, or what, but… he couldn’t do that in public. Too much could go wrong.

He really, really needed to talk to her about this. Even though he was… pretty sure, at this point, that she wasn’t all that interested and just didn’t know how to say it. He couldn’t blame her. He knew, at least, that she liked hanging out with him, and liked him as a friend. But… if his entire career rested on not pissing of Gabriel Agreste… well, it was a difficult position to be in, to say the least. Especially considering what an utter ass Adrien’s father was .

“Um, so,” he said, “would you wanna hang out some during break? I totally understand if you have projects to catch up on, or whatever…”

“I’d love to,” Marinette agreed. “I’m sure my parents want to do some of the tourist sights without me.”

Adrien smiled. “That’s great. But don’t feel like you need to blow your parents off for my sake.”

“I don’t,” Marinette countered. “Besides, they’ll only be here for a few days. They can’t afford to shut down the bakery for that long. They’ll be leaving on the twenty-seventh. That gives us four days without my parents hovering and meddling.”

Hovering and meddling? “Do they… do that a lot?”

“Sometimes,” Marinette said. “Like, my mom liked this one guy who used to come into the bakery all the time, and she tried to like, get me to go out with him. I never even met him! She kept like, ‘oh Marinette, you should really skip class today to meet your future husband.’”

Adrien laughed. “Seriously?”

“Seriously!” she said. “And she said future husband . I was just like… mom, no. I wasn’t about to skip class just to meet some boy she thought was perfect for me.”

“That was… probably a smart decision,” Adrien agreed. “Granted, everyone my father thinks is a good match for me is horrible.”

“Really?” Marinette asked. “He didn’t seem to like Chloé…”

“Not Chloé,” Adrien said. “Models who only knew what I looked like. I don’t want to… I don’t want to date someone who’s just with me because I’m attractive, you know? I want to date someone who actually likes me.”

“That must’ve been frustrating,” Marinette said.

“It was. Absolutely. And I’m not sure how I’m going to readjust to being under his thumb again when I get back.”

“We’ll sneak out,” Marinette suggested. “Become vigilantes. I’ll break you out of your castle and we’ll wander the streets of Paris late at night, fighting crime.”

That made Adrien laugh. The idea of the two of them fighting crime together was absurd. Marinette was tiny , even though her determination and righteous anger could be terrifying. And Adrien… he’d lived a sheltered life for his first nineteen years.

“Only if I’m your sidekick.”

Marinette pulled a face. “We’d be partners . Equals.”

“Fine,” Adrien agreed. “I can work with that. As long as you’re not my sidekick. That’d be terrible.”

Marinette smiled. “It would.”


They found a Mexican restaurant not far from the museum for dinner, and Nathaniel went in the opposite direction from Marinette and Adrien, assuring Marinette that he’d be fine; he was an adult who’d grown up in Paris.

Which left Marinette and Adrien on the S-Bahn alone. “Um,” Adrien said, feeling a bit nervous. “Wanna stop by and play some Mecha Strike? Or Call of Duty?”

“Sure,” Marinette agreed with that wonderful, beautiful smile of hers. He was, really, a goner. He wanted to talk to her, to ask her what they were, but he realised that tomorrow was Christmas Eve, and her parents were coming. He didn’t think it would upset her that he wanted to be her boyfriend, properly, but… he didn’t want to take that risk so close to Christmas. He’d tell her after her parents left.

Chapter Text

Marinette would be lying if she said she wasn’t excited to see her parents. They’d always had a very healthy and loving relationship, and she’d missed them terribly since October (not terribly enough to leave, but they weren’t codependent, after all). She picked them up at Tegel airport, and they went together by bus to her apartment. They’d be staying in Alya’s room, since her friend had already agreed to it, and Marinette didn’t want her parents to lose any more money than strictly necessary.

Once they were settled in, they went out for dinner. Adrien was, of course, invited, and was waiting at the Alter Stadtwächer when they arrived. When he saw them, he froze, a strange expression on his face.

“Adrien!” Marinette greeted, unsure of whether or not to hug him. She, eventually, decided against it. “These are my parents, Sabine Cheng and Tom Dupain.”

“We already know Adrien, sweetheart,” her mother said. She then said something in Mandarin to Adrien, which Marinette couldn’t understand, but assumed was terribly fucking embarrassing because Adrien blushed and mumbled back a response.

“How do you know each other?” Marinette asked, looking from her parents to Adrien.

It was Adrien who spoke. “Uh, well, remember how yesterday you said you hoped my favorite bakery wasn’t your parents’ top competitor?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Well, it’s not.”

Marinette looked to her parents. Specifically, to her mother, who smiled. “I knew you’d love my favorite customer,” she said.

And that’s when it sunk in: she and Adrien had another tie in common. He was the boy her mother had insisted was her future son-in-law, the boy who she kept trying to fix Marinette up with. Of all the people in the world, it had to be her parents, too.

“Um,” said Marinette, unsure if she should really broach the topic (after all, she didn’t know if she and Adrien were actually dating ). “This is… brand new information.”

“Why don’t we go inside?” Adrien asked.

And so they did. It was another traditional German restaurant, although with fewer tourists than the one on the Schiffbauergasse. She recommended a traditional dish and beer to her parents, although Marinette stuck with wine. She tried to process the fact that her parents apparently knew Adrien.

Well, on one hand, if they got together, he’d already know where she lived. But if they drifted apart… well, he’d have to find a new bakery, wouldn’t he?

She tried not to think too much on that. She needed to prepare to face her parents once she was alone with them and they inevitably began to ask questions. Because they would ask questions, and she wasn’t quite sure what she’d say.

She knew, really, that the only way to solve this was to talk to Adrien alone. But that would be best left until after the holidays.


As Marinette probably should have anticipated, once Adrien left, her parents started gushing about how wonderful he was. And, well, sure, Adrien was wonderful, but hearing her parents gush on about him was embarrassing .

“Adrien seems to like you,” Sabine said once they got back to the apartment.

Well, Marinette assumed he liked her. “We’re friends, Maman,” she said. Given their previous interactions, this seemed like the safest bet. Besides, it was her mother . She didn’t want to give her all of the details of her sad excuse for a love life.

“Well,” her mother said, “I’ll be excited to have my favorite customer back next summer.”

“He did say he knew the best bakery in Paris,” Marinette said.

“It was meant to be,” Sabine said.

Maman ,” Marinette whined.

It wasn’t like Marinette hadn’t thought all of the strange circumstances surrounding her friendship with Adrien were just a bit too neat to be totally accidental, but she didn’t need her mother pointing it out, like she and Adrien were soulmates , or something.

...Shit, what if they were soulmates?

Marinette tried to force that thought from her head. There was no use wondering about that, even if a tiny part of Marinette still held out that soulmates were very real… what were the chances of Adrien Agreste being hers ?

Adrien was kind, thoughtful, smart, gorgeous, perfectly dorky and sweet… and his father was the Gabriel Agreste (who’d turned out to be a total dick, but he was still very important in the Parisian fashion industry).

There was no way Marinette was lucky enough to be his soulmate.

But that didn’t mean that she didn’t think she wasn’t maybe lucky enough to get to date him for a little while.


Adrien came over the next day for Christmas. It was more of a makeshift Christmas than anything; Marinette had bought a tiny fake tree and some ornaments from Kaufland, and they all gathered in the little room in the loft to exchange gifts.

Marinette had anticipated that her parents would get a gift for Adrien. She hadn’t, however, anticipated that they’d get him three whole boxes of honey lavender macarons.

Adrien thanked Marinette’s parents enthusiastically, and Marinette had to wonder how her parents had known that the Adrien she was friends with was the same boy as their favourite customer. But then maybe they just made her favourite, and it was just a coincidence.

The only issue with that was that there really seemed to be too much in the way of coincidence in her relationship with Adrien.

She was half-tempted then and there to bite the bullet and ask him to talk. But, well, he seemed to be having such a good time, and she didn’t want to take that away from him.

So instead, she gave him her gifts for him: the scarf she’d knit for him, the books she’d gotten him at the bookstore (except for the book she’d given him for chanukah), and a few trinkets she’d picked up at various christmas markets.

Marinette hadn’t really realised how much it was until she passed it all over to Adrien, who looked absolutely floored.

She felt herself blush and really wished that her parents weren’t around. She knew they’d tease her about it later, especially since he looked so goddamn happy as he opened his presents, but she didn’t mind too much in the moment.

When he opened his scarf, his eyes widened and he asked, “Marinette… did you make this?”

Marinette felt herself blush. “It was nothing!”

Nothing ?” Adrien asked, examining the scarf. “Do you have any idea how many designer scarves I’ve had to wear for work? This is definitely, like, professional quality. And it’s so soft!”

Okay, no, Marinette was going to die. “Thanks.”

Adrien gave her one of his heart-stopping smiles. Yes, she was definitely going to die. “Marinette,” he said, “I was going to spend Christmas all on my own, and you invited me to spend it with you and your family. You’re amazing.”

Marinette definitely needed to talk to him. If there was the slightest chance that this perfect guy wanted to date her… she needed to jump on it. She’d talk to him right after her parents left.


But after her parents left, she ended up being distracted by Nathaniel. They went to the Berliner Ensemble together to see a performance of Camas’s Caligula , despite the fact that Nathaniel couldn’t understand German.

The city was lit up with festive decorations, and they even had a winter punch at the theatre, and Marinette was, for the time being, distracted. It was great to hang out with Nathaniel again. She hadn’t quite realised how much she’d missed him, and it was refreshing to hang out with someone from home without being badgered about how she clearly needed to go out with Adrien.

“Alya’s insisted on having a New Years’ party,” Marinette said after the show as they walked to the Friedrichstraße train station.

“Should be fun,” Nathaniel said. “Well, for you. You know parties aren’t my thing.”

Marinette laughed. “I know. Trust me; you’re my friend. I wouldn’t subject you to Alya under the influence.”

“And I really appreciate that. Let me know how it goes, though.”

“I will,” Marinette promised. “You know… it’s so relaxing to just speak French .”

Nathaniel smirked. “You don’t speak French with Adrien?”

Marinette blushed but tried to keep her cool. “Usually, yeah. It’s just easier. But I speak German with almost everyone but Alya, Adrien, and Nino.”

Marinette didn’t miss the skeptical look Nathaniel gave her as they ascended the stairs into the train station. She rolled her eyes at him. “I’m planning on talking to him.”

“I’m just saying, Marinette. A hot piece of ass like that isn’t going to be single forever.”

“I’ve got it under control, Nath.”

Or, at least, she hoped she did.

Chapter Text

Adrien had made his decision: he’d talk to Marinette at Alya’s New Years party, or die trying.

Perhaps that was just being dramatic, but Christmas had all but sealed it. He wore the scarf she’d knit him every day since, and he hadn’t so much as touched his trusty old Newt Scamander Hufflepuff scarf. Marinette was amazing , and she was absolutely gorgeous, too. There was no way that someone like her would be single for very long, and if there was a chance that he could be the one lucky enough to date her, officially, he needed to ask.

So he started to plan. Officially. He called Chloé and Nino and tried to get their advice.

“Dude,” Nino said on the phone, “it’s great that you’re finally gonna talk to her – finally, might I add? Because it’s taken you way too goddamn long, Agreste.”

“I know, I know,” Adrien said.

“But really you’ve just gotta talk to her. Tell her you kind of think you might be dating - and you want to - but you need to make sure you’re on the same page. Easy as that.”

It didn’t seem as easy as all that. “And that’s what you did with Alya?”

“Mm, more or less. We didn’t draw it out so long, though.”

“Nino, you were so drunk you lost your debit card.”

“I still talked to her.”

Adrien ran a hand through his hair, thinking it over. “I’m going to talk to her,” he said. “But… I don’t know how ?”

He could almost hear Nino rolling his eyes all the way in Paris. “Say, ‘hey, Marinette, I think you’re gorgeous and perfect and I want to date you exclusively.’ Boom. Done. She’ll say yes and you two will make out all night.”

“It’s not that easy, Nino.”

“It’s totally that easy, dude! And if you say, ‘I want to date you exclusively’ then you’re tying up any questions she might have on whether you think you’re dating.”

“Nino…”

There was yelling in the background on the other line – it didn’t sound like Alya, but Nino said, “Look, bro, I support you and Marinette and if you need any more advice, just text me, but I gotta go. Alya’s sisters are a force to be reckoned with.”

If Nino, who was dating Alya , said that… Adrien really didn’t want to think about what these sisters were like. “Yeah, sure, go ahead.”

“You’ve got this, bro,” Nino said before he hung up.

Adrien tossed his phone onto his bed and flopped down with a groan. Why was this so difficult?

After a few minutes of wallowing, he decided to call Chloé. He picked up his phone and selected The Most Wonderful Friend In The World and tapped “call”.

“Adrikins,” Chloé said after one ring. “This had better be important. I’m about to get the best fucking facial money can buy.”

“I’m going to tell Marinette how I feel,” Adrien said.

“Well, then,” Chloé said, “that is important, isn’t it? Personally, I suggest to send her flowers, invite her over for a night alone, come up with some creative way to ask her so that she can’t possibly say no. Not,” Chloé added, “that I think she could say no to you, Adrikins. You’re gorgeous and kind and thoughtful and she seems to like that you’re a total nerd.”

“Thanks, Chloé,” he said.

“Just be yourself,” Chloé said. “She clearly likes you. You shouldn’t need to do anything special at all.”

“Are you just saying this so that you don’t miss your facial?”

“No, of course not!” Chloé said. “Well, not just.”

“Thanks, Chloé,” he said. “I really appreciate it.”

“If you need any help, just text me. You deserve all the happiness in the world, Adrikins.”

Her words helped to set him at ease. He knew his friends (all two of them) were looking out for him, so if, god forbid, Marinette said no (or, more likely: Adrien lost his nerve and never asked her and then ended up losing touch with her after they got back to Paris and he’d always wonder what could have been), he’d have people there for him.


After Christmas, Adrien had almost a full week to himself. In a steadfast attempt not to panic, he spent the entire day after Christmas playing video games. Apparently, in Germany, everything was still closed, despite it being a Tuesday and, therefore, normally, a regular working day. He had Plag to keep him company, though, and enough leftover macarons to last him at least through January if he budgeted them well. (He knew he wouldn’t, though, and that they’d be gone by New Year’s Day).

On Wednesday, he went to the cat café in Neukölln. He ate delicious carrot cake (which he knew his nutritionist and personal trainer would both strongly disapprove of), petted some cats, and worked through some thermodynamics problems. Then he started to plan.

He knew he’d see Marinette at Alya’s New Year’s Eve party, so he’d already decided to talk to her then. He’d pull her aside a few minutes before midnight. Hopefully her room would be free so that they could get some privacy. But what to say? “Marinette, I like you a lot, and I’d like to be exclusive with you?” But that implied they were already dating… and if she didn’t think they were….

He shouldn’t have let this get so out of hand, but there was no helping that now.

Maybe he could do something super romantic, with flowers and candles. But…. no, there was too much room for that to go wrong. He’d be better off not risking it. If she said yes, he’d come up with something super romantic for their first official date.

So he’d ask to talk to her, alone, and tell her how he felt, and… he’d let the words flow in the moment. If he came up with a big speech, it would be too easy to fuck it all up.

If he actually thought about it, he was pretty sure that Marinette liked him. But how could he be sure that she wanted to date him?

He needed to talk to someone, and Nino had already proven to be useless in that department. Chloé, he knew, would likely be equally useless (due more to her own ego and insistence that anyone who liked men would of course be interested in her childhood best friend-turned-model than lack of experience).

And then, Adrien remembered, there was that girl from his Italian class. Stephanie. They were friends on Facebook, and she talked a lot about being a lesbian on there. (Okay, maybe it seemed that way because he had fewer than a dozen Facebook friends, but that was besides the point). He could ask her.

He thought she might’ve gone home for the holidays, so he didn’t anticipate a quick response when he messaged her on Facebook.

Messages with Stephanie Lang
Messenger

Adri Pascal: Hey Stephanie how are you?
Adri Pascal: I have a question for you, whenever you’re free.

There. That established his purpose for messaging her. Sort of.

He turned back to his carrot cake. Stephanie replied a few minutes later.

Messages with Stephanie Lang
Messenger

Stephanie Lang: Adrien, I just want to clarify before you say anything else that I’m gay

Adri Pascal: I know.
Adri Pascal: That’s actually exactly why I wanted to talk to you.

Stephanie Lang: Because I’m gay?

Adri Pascal: Yes! My (male) best friend is useless and I’m trying to figure out if this girl I like actually likes me back. And since you ARE a girl and you also DATE girls, you came to mind as someone to ask.

Stephanie Lang: Oh, well, I’m flattered
Stephanie Lang: First of all, cut the crap. We both know you’re a model
Stephanie Lang: So
Stephanie Lang: If she’s into men, she’ll probably be into you

Adri Pascal: But how do I know if she likes ME?

Stephanie Lang: Age old question
Stephanie Lang: You’ve just gotta ask her, dude

Adri Pascal: But before I ask her. To be sure.

Stephanie Lang: I mean you can’t be sure unless you ask her.
Stephanie Lang: But
Stephanie Lang: Uhhhhhh
Stephanie Lang: idk does she go out her way to touch you?
Stephanie Lang: Is she always close to you?
Stephanie Lang: does she laugh at the stupid things you say even when they’re really not funny?

Adri Pascal: Yeah, I think so.

Stephanie Lang: Then she’s probably into you
Stephanie Lang: But honestly Adrien the only way to be sure is to ask her

Well, that was disappointing, but, really, Adrien realised, she was probably right.

Messages with Stephanie Lang
Messenger

Adri Pascal: Thanks
Adri Pascal: Are you back in the US for the holidays?

Stephanie Lang: lmao
Stephanie Lang: no
Stephanie Lang: My dad decided it’d be a great year to visit his family in Chemnitz


Adrien took the S-Bahn home. It was roundabout and he had to change trains, but he really did enjoy the chance to take public transit as much as possible. Besides, in Berlin, more often than not there was something ridiculous happening on public transit. He was actually disappointed to find a relatively normal ride, but he shrugged it off and listened to the new Jagged Stone album on his phone.

When he got home, Plag met him at the door. Plag had proven to be finicky and whiny and kind of a general pain in the ass, but Adrien loved him more than anything.

He followed Adrien to the living room, and even jumped up on the sofa next to him. “Hey buddy,” Adrien said, scratching Plag behind his ears. “What d’you think the chances are of Marinette actually liking me as much as I like her?”

Plag looked at him with an expression that Adrien could only imagine meant, “why should I care about your petty human affairs?”

“I feed you,” Adrien said, “You know, without me, poof, no food.”

He didn’t mean it, of course. He needed Plag just as much as Plag needed him. He just wished desperately that he wouldn’t have a desperate need for the cat’s bizarre way of comforting him when he came home on New Year’s Day.

Chapter Text

While talking to Nathaniel over smoothies, wraps, and cake at a vegan café not far from the East Side Gallery in Friedrichshain, Marinette resolved to tell Adrien how she felt at Alya’s New Year’s party.

“New year, new me,” she said.

“Marinette,” Nathaniel said, “I don’t think getting a new hot piece of ass boyfriend is a new you. We all remember Félix.”

Marinette rolled her eyes. “I’m going to ask Adrien out. I didn’t ask Félix out.”

“Mm, fair, but you two kind of did the same thing you’re doing with Adrien right now.” He sipped at his smoothie.

“But I never actually talked it out with Félix. Not like… not like I’m going to with Adrien. With Félix, it was just kind of… ‘are we dating?’ ‘oh, I guess we are’, you know?”

“I get it,” Nathaniel said, “but… it’s not like having a gorgeous boyfriend is something new for you.”

Nath…

“I’m just saying.”

Marinette took a bite of her wrap rather than reply. She knew Nathaniel wasn’t wrong, per se, but it wasn’t as if gorgeous men were falling over themselves to date her.

“You should tell Alya your plans. She won’t let you chicken out.”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence,” Marinette grumbled, but she still pulled her phone out and texted Alya.

Messages with Alya

Marinette: I’m gonna tell Adrien how I feel at the party

Alya: CONGRATS!!!!

Alya: and I’ll make sure you can’t back out!!

Alya: I’ll lock you two in the bathroom if the clock strikes midnight before you two kiss~

Marinette: ALYA

Alya: it’s a last resort!

Marinette rolled her eyes and put her phone away. “Told her. Now there’s no way she’ll let me off the hook if I try to chicken out.”

“Good,” Nathaniel said. “She shouldn’t. If you come back to Paris without Adrien Agreste on your arm, I’ll be very disappointed in you.”

“I’m sure if I get to January without Adrien on my arm, Alya will take me aside and lecture me.”

“At best.”


As Alya wasn’t to come back until late at night on the thirtieth of December, she’d deputized Marinette and Adrien to do all of the shopping for the party. This was, Marinette suspected, likely a ruse to get the two of them to spend more time together, but she certainly wasn’t about to complain.

Adrien met her at the Kaufland in the Potsdamer Hauptbahnhof. Normally Marinette was content to do her shopping at the Edeka on Brandenburger Straße, but a simple glance at Alya’s list of “absolute necessities” showed that Edeka wouldn’t cut it.

“This party is going to be insane,” Marinette said as she put a fourth different kind of Glühwein in her cart.

“Oh, definitely,” Adrien said. “Alya’s invited everyone she knows, hasn’t she?”

“All but. I don’t know how they’re all going to fit. Our apartment isn’t that big.” She saw a different kind of Glühwein she hadn’t noticed before and put it into the cart. “And here I thought ‘one of each kind of Glühwein’ would be an easy fix.”

“I’ll get us a cab when we go,” Adrien said. “So we can actually carry all this back.”

Marinette looked up at him. She was overwhelmed by the urge to kiss his unfairly beautiful face. She didn’t think he’d mind , but it could , potentially, screw up her plan.

And, well, they were in public and Marinette wasn’t convinced that things wouldn’t escalate very quickly if he did kiss her back.

So she did the rational thing: she looked away and scanned the shelves for any more varieties of Glühwein that she might have missed.

“A cab is a good idea,” she said, once she was pretty sure her voice would come out normally.

“Yeah,” Adrien agreed. “Uh, I’m gonna go… get chips and stuff. You look like you have the alcohol part under control.”

After he left, it took a great deal of self-restraint not to bang her head against the shelves.


Adrien, like the wonderful person he was, was all too eager to help her set up for the party. They didn’t have a living room, per se (since Sarah lived in what was properly the living room), so they planned for the majority of the party to happen in the kitchen and in the loft upstairs.

Marinette set all the bottles of Glühwein out on the counter, although she didn’t really question how they’d heat all of them up without getting them all mixed up.

She helped Adrien put all the snacks (and snack bowls, which he’d also bought at Kaufland even though no one asked him to) to the side. She and Sarah had cleaned the apartment the day before, so everything was in good shape.

By the time Marinette felt like they could relax, it was seven in the evening, and she was hungry. She flopped down on the futon in the loft.

“Adrien?” she asked.

“Hm?”

“Would you… want to stay for dinner?”

His face absolutely lit up at the question. “If you don’t mind….”

“Of course not,” she said. “We can cook, or we could go out.”

“Let’s cook!” Adrien said, latching on to that suggestion. “Do you have anything here, or would we need to run to Edeka?”

“You’re talking to the daughter of bakers , Adrien. We’ve got plenty of food here. I just need to find the will to get up off of this terrible futon.”

Adrien stood up and held his hand out to her. “I’ll help you up.”

She took his hand and let him hoist her up. Shit, his hands were really soft and smooth. This was all terribly romantic, and if she were still fifteen she might have fainted on the spot. As it was, she still stumbled into him. He kept his balance even as she fell face-first into his chest, like he was some kind of cat, or something.

“Sorry,” she mumbled.

“Nothing to apologise for.”

He didn’t let go of her hand as they walked down the stairs. He held her hand while they figured out what they were going to eat. She would have thought that maybe he’d just forgotten what it was like not to hold her hand, but he held it as he helped her to get ingredients out of the fridge. In fact, he only let go of her hand when he realised that he needed both hands to safely chop the onions.

To distract herself from the traitorous feelings she had welling deep in her stomach, she pulled out her phone. She opened Alya’s snap story, which featured a lot car selfies, pictures of Nino looking annoyed, some snaps from when they’d stopped for lunch… it gave Marinette an idea.

“Adrien,” she said, swiping right and aiming the camera at him. “Pose for Alya and Nino.”

Adrien looked over; shooting her a smug glance out of the corner of his eye. Marinette snapped the photo.

“Perfect. Mind if I post it on my snap story?”

Adrien’s smirk turned into a goofy grin. “Yeah, absolutely, go ahead. And… you know, I have done some modelling,” he said.

Marinette captioned the picture trying to prove he can cook . “Could’ve fooled me.”

“That hurts , Marinette.”

Marinette giggled and put her phone away. “At least you’re not a half-bad cook.”

Chapter Text

Adrien felt like he was floating on a cloud the whole way home. He’d spent real, quality time alone with Marinette and she’d seemed to really actually like him . This, of course, wasn’t even getting into the fact that she’d let him hold her hand for a good ten minutes. Surely she wouldn’t do that if she didn’t like him?

But hand-holding aside, Adrien couldn’t believe he’d lost his nerve again. He’d had a week off of classes, and he’d spent plenty of that week with Marinette, and yet he still hadn’t told her how he felt.

The next day, once Nino and Alya were back in Berlin, Nino came over to help Adrien pick an outfit for Alya’s party.

“Dude,” Nino said, “everything you own looks great. I’m just wearing this.” He gestured to his own t-shirt and jeans.

“Yeah but you’re already officially with Alya.”

Nino rolled his eyes. “Marinette clearly likes you, dude. But…” he added. “That said… I wouldn’t wear a dorky sweater.”

“Ni no …”

“Okay, okay, fine, but if you end up looking like an idiot you can’t blame me. I don’t know anything about fashion.”

“I’ll take it. I can’t even think straight.”

Adrien sat on the edge of his bed while Nino pulled essentially all of the clothes out of his wardrobe. For someone who claimed to not know anything about fashion, Nino seemed to be rejecting most of Adrien’s clothes.

Plag found his way into the room and settled in on the growing pile of clothes. Adrien scooped him up before he could get buried, because Nino was absorbed in his task. Plag meowed in protest, so Adrien put him down on his duvet.

“Nino, what if she says no?”

“She won’t say no, dude. She’s as crazy about you as you are about her.” He pulled out a pair of black jeans, a white collared shirt, and a navy sweater. “Try this?”

Adrien made a face. “Black and navy together?”

Nino rolled his eyes. “I’m trying to help you, bro.”

Adrien took the jeans and the shirt and looked at them. “Hold on. I think I have a sweater from my dad’s line in the spare room that’ll work.”

He scratched Plag behind the ears before going to the spare room. He put the clothes down on the bed and searched the wardrobe quickly before he found it: a soft grey cashmere sweater from his father’s Fall/Winter line for the year. He’d worn it for a photoshoot a few months prior, and he remembered Marinette had commented on the spread when she’d seen it.

It was perfect.

He put on the jeans and the shirt, leaving the top couple buttons on the shirt undone, and then pulled the sweater on over top. He smoothed out his outfit and then went back to his room, where Nino was playing with Plag.

“What do you think?”

Nino really only glanced at him. “Marinette would say yes even if you showed up in your underwear. ... Especially if you showed up in your underwear.”

Adrien rolled his eyes, but he felt his face flush. “Let’s not try that tonight.”

“Maybe tonight, if all goes well.”

“Ni no !”

“I’m just saying, dude. We should stop and make sure you have condoms before we leave. Just in case.”

“Wh-what? No, Nino, we’re not going to have sex!”

“You don’t know that for sure! We’ll get some. Better safe than sorry.”

Adrien blushed, but couldn’t really protest. Because, well, if Marinette offered to have sex with him tonight, he wasn’t sure he’d insist on waiting any longer. They’d already known each other since October. “Fine,” he said.

“She’ll say yes. And you’ll start 2018 by telling all your fans on instagram that you’re off the market.”

Adrien smiled. “I think that would give my father a heart attack.”

“All the more reason!” Nino said, throwing an arm around his shoulder. “Not that we want him dead, but…. Alya and I both agree the dude’s a dick.”

“That he is,” Adrien agreed, “but I don’t know what would happen if he cut me off for damaging his image… and I really don’t want to think about it.”

“Fine, no instagram. But you’ll start 2018 with a girlfriend. Mark my words.”


The party was in full swing when Adrien and Nino arrived. Adrien rather thought it was because Nino had insisted upon stopping to buy condoms first, and had made a fuss over both of them getting just the right ones. Nino grabbed a beer from the kitchen while Adrien poured himself a mug of white Glühwein before heading upstairs to the loft.

Marinette was talking to a girl in a green dress when Adrien saw her. She was wearing a very flattering baby blue dress with lace overlay and an open back that only served to make Adrien more nervous.

“Adrien!” she called.

“Marinette!”

“It’s been forever, hasn’t it?” she asked, smiling.

“Um, uh-huh,” Adrien said. Shit, she was gorgeous . And she was unfailingly kind and creative and fun and way out of his league. What was he even thinking ? “I like your dress.”

Marinette blushed. “Oh, thank you! I got it from Pimkie. I thought about making my own, but… I ended up a little short on time.”

“Well,” Adrien said, “I really like it. It brings out your eyes.”

“Thanks,” she said, “I love your sweater. That’s…”

“It’s my dad’s line, yeah.”

“I really liked that spread,” Marinette said.

“I know,” Adrien said without thinking. “I mean… you mentioned that before… that you… liked that spread…”

“Adrien,” Marinette said, “do you have a minute? I know you just got here, but… I kind of wanted to talk to you about something.”

“Oh, uh, yeah, sure,” he said. “Actually… I wanted to talk to you about something, too.”

Marinette nodded. “Okay, then, um, let’s go to my room…?”

Adrien nodded. “Yeah.”

He followed Marinette downstairs and into her room, and stood awkwardly as she shut the door behind them.

It was really strange, Adrien thought, to be in Marinette’s room with her while Alya’s party raged on outside the door. Sure, he’d been in Marinette’s room with her multiple times… but this time… it was different, somehow. Even though he’d been interested in her from the beginning – thinking on that didn’t do anything.

“Uh, so…” he said.

“So…” she said, smiling. “Would you like to start, or shall I?”

“Uh, I think… if I could start…?” But then what if what she wanted to say was that she thought they’d be better as just friends? No; he wouldn’t let himself think about that. He was nervous enough as it was.

“Of course,” she said. She sat down on her bed, but he remained standing. “Take all the time you need.”

She was simply too nice, but… he couldn’t let this incertitude continue. “Uh, so…”

“Yes…?”

“I wanted… to ask you… uh, something.”

“And what is this ‘something’?” Was she teasing him? Was he that obvious?

He closed his eyes. He could do this. Practically everyone in the whole history of the world had done what he was about to do. This was nothing to be nervous about, right? He was just asking a gorgeous girl he was pretty sure he was head over heels in love with if she wanted to be in an exclusive relationship with him.

“Adrien?” she asked. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, yeah, of course,” he said. “I just wanted to tell you that… I think you’re amazing. Honestly. And… we both love video games and we like comic books, and cats, and… I don’t like being a model , but I… I like fashion, honestly. Especially when you talk about fashion.” He couldn’t take it anymore; he opened his eyes.

She was looking at him with a very sympathetic expression… he couldn’t figure out if she was going to reject him or accept him. The only choice he had was to continue.

“I wanted to ask you if… if you wanted to, uh…. go out with me… exclusively.” Stupid! He’d very nearly forgotten to say exclusively . What if she thought they’d been dating the whole time? “And… if not, that’s perfectly fine with me, I’m sure we can… stay, uh, friends.”

“Adrien?”

Oh, shit, this was it. His heart was pounding, and his palms felt sweaty and part of him wanted to run out of the room. “Yeah?”

Marinette rolled her eyes. “Kiss me.”

“U-uh, what?”

She stood up. “Kiss me. You know…” she stepped close to him and draped her arms around his neck. “Like we did at Nil…”

“So…” She was really close. Too close. He couldn’t think .

“So,” she said, “yes. Of course I want to be exclusive with you. That’s exactly what I wanted to ask you…   mon chaton .”

“U-uh, so…” Was that a yes? No, wait, she’d even said yes!

“So we’re together. Exclusively. And I want you to kiss me.”

“U-uh, yeah, yeah, I can do that…”

She, apparently, didn’t want to discuss this further, because she closed the gap between them and kissed him.

Out on the streets, Adrien could hear the fireworks. For a second, he thought that it was in his mind, like in a cheesy rom com… but no. It was New Year’s Eve. People had been lighting fireworks on the street on the way to Marinette and Alya’s apartment.

“You know,” Marinette said when she pulled away. “An awful lot of girls are going to be heartbroken over this.”

Adrien smiled. “I think they’ll adjust.”