Marinette shoved the apartment door open with her elbow before dropping her shopping bags on the kitchen counter.
‘I’m home,’ she announced into the dimly lit apartment.
There was a thud in one of the bedrooms up the hall, then a door opened.
‘Good evening,’ Adrien said, poking his head around the hallway doorjamb. ‘Did you have a good day?’
Marinette shrugged. ‘It was tolerable.’
Adrien hummed, unconvinced. ‘You’re back late,’ he observed.
She gave him a flat look. ‘Because I had to pick up your blood supply, not to mention the other human groceries I needed.’
He had the decency to look embarrassed, hanging his head and shuffling his feet.
Really, Marinette thought. He has got to be the most unvampiric vampire ever.
She had first met Adrien eighteen months ago, while participating in a runway show. She was the aspiring designer, and he was the brooding model who refused to work before sunset. She had thought him mysterious, arrogant, and overly dramatic, until she saw him trip over an errant cable backstage. He had sprawled in an inelegant heap, his arms outstretched, with an undignified squawk.
She had helped him up, trying valiantly to suppress a chuckle with minimal success. He had dropped the aloof act after that, for which Marinette was extremely grateful. They had been friends ever since.
But it was only six months ago when her landlord decided to sell, forcing her out of her humble apartment. She had moaned long and bitterly to her co-workers, until one of them suggested she talk to Adrien.
She had approached him cautiously. They were friends, but she didn’t want to encroach on his space, or presume too much, so she skirted the subject until she could mention offhandedly that she was looking for a new place, even if it were only temporary.
He had offered a room in his small dwelling, claiming he would enjoy the company, and that she could stay for as long as she needed.
Initially, she had only intended to impose on his hospitality until she could find her own place, but all her applications were rejected. Either the place was already leased, or it was above what she could afford, or her references weren’t sufficient. Whatever the reason, she had roomed with Adrien ever since. She still looked for places, and submitted the occasional application, but she wasn’t as upset by the refusals anymore.
She had found out about his vampirism by accident, after she entered the kitchen late one night to find him slurping on a donor bag. Her eyes had widened, and she felt lightheaded, so she turned around and went back to bed, convincing herself it was a dream. Until he had approached her the following night, sitting her down to explain everything, and imploring her to keep his secret. His begging was so pathetic, she had agreed without question.
‘I would have picked it up myself,’ Adrien mumbled into his chest, ‘but my inside man was leaving early today. A date with his fiancé, apparently.’
Marinette sighed. ‘It’s ok. Like I said, I had other things to pick up, and the blood bank was on the way. You never would have woken up on time, and I know how you get when you’re hungry.’
‘Hangry,’ Adrien snickered.
Marinette just gave him the flattest, most unimpressed look she could muster. He bit his lip, trying not to laugh, as he held on to the doorframe.
‘I should not have to put up with this,’ Marinette muttered, as she turned around to put her groceries away.
Adrien slunk out of the shadows to help, weaving around her like an oil slick. Then, he grabbed a blood bag, emptied it into one of his large mugs, and heated it in the microwave.
It still grossed Marinette out, even if the blood came from a willing donor. She had insisted he have his own cups, so she bought him a set of soup mugs so he wouldn’t confuse his with hers. Adrien was delighted with the purchase; he had no idea cups came that big. Furthermore, he wouldn’t have to make extra dishes by dividing his meal between two mugs. It was more convenient all around.
Marinette waited until he was done, then prepared a bowl of instant noodles. She wasn’t in the mood to cook. Then she sat beside him on the couch while he searched for something to watch. He decided on a documentary, then set the remote down to cradle his mug in both hands.
‘I got another letter from Father,’ he murmured into his mug. He kept his eyes averted, like he always did whenever he mentioned his family.
Marinette twisted her face into a scowl. ‘What did Dracula want this time?’
He snorted into his mug, a smile lighting up his eyes for a moment. ‘Dracula was a fictional character, you know that, right? Father would foam at the mouth if he heard someone call him that.’
‘I don’t care about his tender feelings. So, what did that leech have to say this time?’
Adrien shook his head at her. ‘The same as always. He wants me to come home, that I never should have left the security of the estate, blah blah blah.’
‘Well, you did. He needs to learn that you’re an adult, and you're capable of making your own decisions. You can live away from home, and it’s not his place to make that decision for you. Tell him to suck an egg.’
Putting his mug on the coffee table, Adrien laughed again. ‘Yeah, that’ll go well. If he knew what a bad influence you were, he’d be more insistent I return home.’
‘You know I’d never actually do anything to jeopardise your relationship with your father. But you are my friend, and I care about you. I just want you to be happy.’
‘I know. Thank you, it really means a lot to me.’
Marinette finished her noodles, and Adrien his drink, in silence. She leaned against him, ignoring the slight smell of iron, wordlessly offering comfort and support. Adrien raised his arm to drape it across her shoulders, accepting her friendship.
They were an odd pair, to be sure. She, one of the daylight folks, rooming with her natural predator, but they made it work. She was happy in his company, and she believed he appreciated not being alone. She often wondered why someone who got lonely so easily would leave his nest, where all his family and other vampiric acquaintances were. But she guessed he wanted to escape the control of his father for reasons of his own. She never pried, but she managed to piece some things together. Adrien’s and his father’s relationship one of the easiest things to make assumptions about.
Marinette remembered when she had moved out for the first time. Tom had been happy for her, but Sabine had all but begged her to remain with them. But Marinette had been adamant, and for a while, she had been content. She admitted her situation had been uncertain for a while, and she had seriously contemplated returning home, but then Adrien had come through at the eleventh hour, and saved her from Sabine’s grasp.
She really did owe him a lot.