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Nezumi

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It was…cute.

 

Kagami looked over the doll in curiosity. For grey as the main color, it didn’t look dull. The pinks and blacks accented it rather nicely. The buns were perfectly shaped and fitting of the theme. It was well put together for a home-made creation. She had to hand it to Marinette that her designs and technique were impeccable and it all showed here.

 

The doll was an almost perfect miniature replica of the latest hero to appear—Multimouse. Just…hug-sized.

 

A strange feeling settled in her chest. Warm. Pleasant. Admiration?

 

Perhaps. The doll was well made, after all. It must have taken quite a bit of time and effort to make. It was clearly a labor of love.

 

And Marinette had gifted it to her.

 

What did that mean, she wondered? They…admittedly hadn’t met on the best of terms. And their interactions since then hadn’t been the best either. Part of that was admittedly on her. She had been wrong about the other girl and it was a…struggle for her to be able to admit when she made a mistake.

 

There was also the matter of Adrien and the date she had believed Marinette had crashed. Given Adrien’s behavior towards her, she had thought that Marinette was the one who had turned Adrien down previously despite her clear interest in him, and her antics seemed downright cruel of her in that light—thus the reason for Kagami’s warning to not hesitate. It wasn’t until some time later that she learned the other WASN’T the object of Adrien’s attention and had actually been there as support for Adrien. To pursue Kagami.

 

She was forced to…reassess her thoughts on the girl.

 

Surely it wasn’t a trick of some sort. That did not seem to fit what she knew of Marinette or what anyone seemed to see of her for that matter. And let’s be honest, deception…was not the girl’s strong suit. If she didn’t like someone, they would know it. If she intended Kagami harm, there is no way she would have been able to hide it.

 

Not to mention this doll was too carefully made to be a prank. She had investigated it thoroughly and found no room for anything unpleasant to hide within. No openings. No bugs. No chemicals. Yes, some would consider it paranoid, but Kagami was taught to be nothing if not careful.

 

But she knew before even looking for anything that nothing would be found. Marinette was an artist. It did not fit her personality or her status as a creator to make something so lovely only for it to be used in such a manner. Not against someone like Kagami with whom she merely doesn’t get along with as opposed to a tormentor like Chloe Bourgeois.

 

Perhaps, she considered, they could be friends? Something about that thought felt right. They had gotten off on the wrong foot, but Marinette Dupain-Cheng was kind. Emotional and prone to anxious outbursts, certainly. But she seemed to be the sort of person Kagami could gladly call a friend.

 

Marinette had even taken the initiative to attempt to reach out to her by presenting her with this doll.

 

In other circumstances, Kagami may have been put off by the gift, deeming it childish to be given such a thing.

 

But this was Marinette. And she clearly made this herself. There had been thought put into this gift.

 

And the little Nezumi was…cute. And soft.

 

She was alone. No one was there to see or judge her.

 

Kagami gave into her impulses and hugged the doll.

 

It smelled sweet. Like bread and honey. Likely as a result of Marinette living and working her craft above the bakery.

 

She held the doll closer and wondered to herself how she should return the favor. What did Marinette like? What would be an appropriate response? What could she present to the designer in return that would be similarly fitting?

 

She hummed to herself, considering her options while petting the doll’s head gently. She hadn’t even realized she was doing it, her mind buzzing with ideas.

 

The girl had been so caught up in her own thoughts that she lost track of the world around her, eventually slowing and then stopping the petting as she continued to contemplate. It wasn't until she felt the strange thrumming from beneath her hand that she was pulled out of her thoughts and her focus was drawn to her surroundings in confusion.

 

What was...?

 

There was a small squeak, immediately snapping her attention to the source coming from her arms.

 

And sure enough, the doll was looking up at her, almost pleadingly.

 

She froze, eyes wide. Did the doll just…?

 

It squeaked again and nudged her hand with its head.

 

Too bewildered to react the way a competitive fencer of her caliber probably should have and toss the living thing away, Kagami instead blinked and hesitantly pet the doll again. She could only stare uncomprehendingly as the doll seemed to push into her hand as she stroked it and gave a happy trill.

 

It wanted affection.

 

So…

 

This was a thing, apparently.

 

She continued to pet it. Initially she was nervous, but the doll showed no other inclination other than the desire to be petted. As she continued to placate it, Kagami gathered her wits and took to contemplating the oddity in her grasp.

 

The doll was alive, apparently. Somehow. Possibly by some magic. Was it an akuma?

 

She frowned at the doll, considering.

 

From her experience, akumas were bursts of emotion taken out of control. They were feelings. Anger. Sadness. Betrayal. Hurt. Obsession. They were some sort of emotion so clear and dark that they practically emanated negativity.

 

This doll did not project any such emotion.

 

Was it really an akuma then?

 

It was Marinette’s doll. Was Marinette an akuma?

 

Kagami unfortunately had no way of knowing. She wasn’t part of that class and honestly knew little of the girl in question or the recent events within her circle. Marinette was prone to emotional outbursts but at least seemed mostly positive. Even when she struggled, she didn’t let it tear her down.

 

So why would she become an akuma? What could make her fall prey to Hawk Moth?

 

…Of course, that’s if this even IS due to an akuma, she realized. Because if the doll was a result of an akuma, even second-hand, would it not be following someone’s orders? Wouldn’t it be trying to achieve some goal? Cause chaos? Get the Miraculous? Why would it just let Kagami hold her? And pet her? Or just overall seem to desire affection like some sort of child?

 

Kagami kicked herself when she realized what she had just done. It. IT. It is a doll, possibly an akuma, but not a child.

 

There was a small chirp and Kagami found herself making eye contact with the doll. For all her will, she was unable to look away. Was this the doll’s power? Was she in the grasp of some sort of mental manipulation?

 

The doll reached for her hand that had been stroking it and drew her appendage to itself. It then proceeded to…

 

Hug her hand. And nuzzle her index finger.

 

It was cute.

 

Kagami felt her face blushing despite herself.

 

There was no time for this. She carefully set the doll down next to a platter of crackers she had at her desk and started looking around for her phone.

 

She should seek answers immediately, she realized. Regardless of what the magic was behind this, a living doll was not normal and could be a sign of something dangerous. And it was Marinette’s doll and Marinette who gave it to her.

 

She would contact Marinette and demand answers.

 

A small squeak instantly brought her attention back to the doll still sitting on her desk.

 

The doll was sitting in perfect seiza on her desk. It looked up at her brightly and smiled, holding a cracker up in offering.

 

Kagami accepted the snack. “Thank you, Nezumi.”

 

The little mouse chirped happily, appearing very proud of herself.

 

...

 

…Tomorrow.

 

Tomorrow she would demand answers.