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Gymnopédie

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“That seems to be the last of it,” the French delivery man told you in a thick French accent. He held a clipboard in front of you. “Please sign your name here, and I will be on my way.” It took you a moment to understand what he said, considering you were still perfecting your French.

You gave him a small smile and signed your name on the forum before handing the clipboard back to him. “Merci, monsieur.”

The delivery man left the living room of your new apartment and closed the front door behind him. You let out a content sigh.

“I guess this means I am finally on my own,” you hummed to yourself.

This was your first time living on your own, and to add the pressure, you were thousands of miles from your home country. You were excited of course! It’s not every day a young woman such as yourself can study abroad in one of the most famously beautiful and romantic cities in the world. However, you couldn’t escape the anxiety of it all that bubbled inside. You have so much responsibility now, especially when it comes to school. You were completely new and foreign. You wanted to make a good impression on your fellow students and make unforgettable memories with new and interesting friends. A hopeful smile found its way onto your lips.

Yeah, you will make the most out of your time in Paris. But first...

“Unpacking,” you muttered reluctantly.

 

It took up most of the day, but eventually, you unpacked all of your necessary things. Your apartment was slowly starting to look like home. You were sure that in the next few weeks, you’d be able to call it that. Your phone buzzed in your pocket, pulling you from your daze. You reached into your back pocket and took hold of your phone. A photo of your mother covered your phone’s screen. You pressed the green button and held the phone up to your ear.

“Hey Mom,” you answered.

“So, how is it?” You could hear the smile in your mom’s voice.

“It’s okay so far,” you assured her. “I finished most of my unpacking, so I was just about to go to the grocery store and stock up the fridge.”

“How exciting!”

You chuckled and rolled your eyes. “It’s not that exciting Mom, it's just grocery shopping.”

“Yes but it’s grocery shopping in Paris, and all by yourself. Don’t buy a bunch of junk food Y/N, just because you’re on your own doesn’t mean that you can eat a bunch of crap. Get something healthy too,” she lectured.

“Well, technically now that I am officially my own person I can eat a bunch of crap if I want to. But I will eat healthy Mom, so don’t worry.”

“Okay then. Well, I’ll stop bothering you and let you go. Call me next week after your first week of college!”

You smiled and promised to call her next week before saying your goodbyes and hanging up. You checked the time and saw it was late afternoon. “Shit, if I want dinner I should get going to the grocery store now.”

You threw on a light jacket and grabbed your keys from the kitchen counter. You took the elevator down to the lobby of your apartment complex and walked onto the streets of Paris. You couldn’t help but be filled with awe at the scenery. Paris surely lived up to its name, it truly was a beautiful city. Even now, the sun was beginning to set and the sky above Paris and hues of blue, purple, orange and pink colored the romantic city like a Van Gough painting. You put your earphone’s in and listened to the calming melody of one of your favorite piano masterpieces. After some leisurely strolling through your neighborhood, you came upon the grocery store. You walked through the automatic doors and into the cool store with a ring of the alarm.

“Hello. Welcome to La Grande Epicerie de Paris, the best gourmet grocery store in Paris, happy shopping,” a seemingly robotic and monotonous voice greeted you.

You took out one of your earbuds and turned around to see a boy about the same age as you. He had honey brown skin and large glasses that rested on his triangular nose. He wasn’t paying attention to you, too invested in his magazine to even look at you. You walked up to his register and cleared your throat to announce your presence. “Sorry to bother you,” you start. “I don’t really know much about this place and the layout is so confusing— could you help me?”

The boy sighed and reluctantly looked up from his magazine to meet your eyes. His once distant appearance brightened and he gave you a smile that seemed to perfectly fit his features. You smiled in return.

“My bad Miss,” he said as he stood up straight and put his hands on his hips. “What are you looking for?”

You let out a nervous chuckle and absentmindedly fiddled with your bracelets. “Honestly, I’m not sure. I never bought my own groceries before and it’s a bit unnerving. That plus the fact my cooking abilities are equivalent to that of a 13-year-old boy, I don’t even know where to start.”

The boy laughed and walked around the counter to stand in front of you. “No problem! Luckily for you, its almost closing time and not many other people are here, so I can be your personal shopping advisor.”

“Wow, thank you so much—er?”

The boy gingerly pointed to his name-tag on his uniform with a puffed chest. “Nino, at your service Miss,” He joked.

He grabbed a cart for you and walked to one of the first isles in the store. “Well, taking into account that you are a 13-year-old chef, we should start off simple,” he said and put some cereal into the cart.

After a while of talking and picking out quick, easy meals together, Nino decided to engage in small talk about yourselves.

“So,” he started while putting some pasta noodles into your half-full cart. “You’re a foreigner am I right?”

You hummed in agreement. “Is it that easy to tell?” You asked. “My French needs better improvement,” you admitted bashfully.

Nino shook his head. “No dude your French is awesome, it’s just your accent and mannerisms scream ‘foreigner’.”

You sighed a gave a small laugh. “I’m from (country) if that explains anything,” you tell him.

He gasps and nods. “Yeah, that totally makes sense!”

You roll your eyes playfully and sneak in a box of donuts into the cart while he wasn't looking.

“What brings a (nationality) to Paris?” He asks as you both walk down the frozen food section.

“Well, what brings anyone to Paris? Change in Scenery. Beauty. Adventure. Romance. All that good stuff,” you say. “Well, that and university.”

Nino perked up and looked at you with wide eyes. “University?” He asked. “You are an exchange student?”

“Yes,” you said and grabbed a box of frozen fried shrimp. “I am a first-year student at Françoise Dupont University.”

“No way!” Nino exclaimed. “That’s my University too! How awesome!”

You smiled brightly and nodded. “That’s great! Now I have a friend I can stick around with on my first day.”

“Totally! I can introduce you to my friends too. They’d love to meet you, especially my girlfriend Alya. She’s always wanted to visit (country). You can tell her all about it.”

“Yeah, I’d love to!”

Nino took you to the checkout and started ringing up the groceries you’d picked out together. You grabbed your bags from him and thanked him. “Thanks for the help, Nino. This was really nice!”

“No problem— wait you never told me your name dude.”

“Oh right! Sorry, my name is Y/N.” You told him.

“Well it was my pleasure helping you today Y/N, and I am not just saying that because it’s in my job description, I actually enjoyed talking with you. You’re pretty cool.”

“You’re pretty cool yourself, Nino,” you chuckle. “See you soon!”

You and Nino waved goodbye to one another and you walked back onto the sidewalk. It had gotten dark in the time you were shopping with Nino. The setting sun and hues of purple were replaced with the starry night sky and a crescent moon. You played the music on your phone once more and started making your way back to your house. You were rounding a corner when a large black mass flew in front of you. You gasped and stumbled backward, your heavy bags pulling you back to the concrete ground. You squeezed your eyes shut and prepared for impact, but it never came.

Instead, you felt the warmth and strong arms tightly wrapped around your torso. You peeked through your eyelids and looked down. Latex covered arms were locked in front of you to keep you and your groceries safe from a messy fall.

“Are you okay Little Lady?” A deep voice came from above you. You tensed and looked up and behind you, to meet large, cat-like jade eyes. Your words seemed to get stuck in your throat and all you could do was nod hazily. He loosened his grip on your waist and helped you stand straight. You held tightly to your groceries and turned to meet your masked savior. It appeared his eyes weren't the only thing cat-like about him. He was dressed in a skin-tight black catsuit that accented his lean body and muscles. Two black cat ears rested perfectly on his messy gold hair that seemed to perfectly frame his face and sweep over those mesmerizing jade eyes.

“Holy shit,” you muttered after analyzing his figure.

He gave you a lopsided grin and put his hands on his hip. “Like what you see Little Lady?”

You snorted and raised an eyebrow. “I would say yes if I knew exactly what I was looking at,” you teased. “Was there an anime convention or something?”

The cat-boy’s jaw fell slack and he looked at you like you were an alien. “You don’t know who I am?”

You furred your brow in confusion. “I’m sorry, should I?”

He let out an unamused chuckled and gestured to his face. “I’m Chat Noir,” He said as though it were obvious. “You know, Ladybug and Chat Noir! Wearers of the Miraculous’ and protectors of Paris.”

You nodded and gave him a small smile. “Sorry I don’t know that anime. It sounds cool though.”

The look on his face made you feel like you were the strange one. You laughed to fill the silence and slowly started to walk backward. “Um, thank you for catching me, my groceries get to live another day.” You waved to him goodbye and turned around continue your way home.

“H-Hey wait!” The cat-boy ran in front of you and stopped you in your tracks. You sighed, becoming increasingly uncomfortable.

“You’re not from here are you?” He asked.

“Christ, do I have a sign on my forehead that says ‘FOREIGNER’ in big red letters or something?”

Chat Noir chuckled and shook his head. “No, but you not knowing who I am is a giveaway,” He said. “That and your accent.”

“And why is it so important that I know who you are,” you question. “Are famous around here or something?”

“You can say that,” he smirked. “I’m kind of a big deal around here. Me and my partner that is. We’re kind of superheroes,” he boasted, his cockiness practically blinding you.

“Yeah right, and I’m the Queen of Sheba,” you snort, much to his dismay.

“I’m telling you the truth—” a loud beeping interrupted him pre-speech. He looked at his ring and cursed under his breath.

“Look, you seem nice, but I don’t have time for this. I really need to get going.” You walked past him towards your apartment.

“You’ll see me again Little Lady. I really am a superhero!” He called after you.

You turned around to kindly tell him to leave you the hell alone so you can put your groceries away and go to bed, but he was gone. You looked around but he was nowhere to be seen.

You raised your eyebrows and pursed your lips. “Well, he sure knows how to make an entrance and an exit,” you muttered to yourself. “I’ll give him that.”

And you walked home.