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“Girl, mm mm MM.  I know this sounds a little contradictory, cause I know your mama didn’t raise you like that, but that skirt is so short, I can see your religion, and let me tell you, I don’t hate it.”

Alya smirked from her corner of the room, one leg crossed over the other as she sat in Marinette’s rolling desk chair.  An arm was crossed over her stomach, supporting the other elbow, and her free hand was raised up in the air, bright red nails practically glimmering in the low lamp light as she rested her jaw in her palm.  One long, slender finger stretched up the side of her face.  A raised eyebrow matched her quirked lips.

Marinette did a little shimmy in her high heels, causing the skirt to rise up a bit.  The hem rested just underneath her backside. With her hands, she smoothed out the leather material, one sliding over the round curve of her derrier, the other down the opposite side of her leg as she inspected her handiwork.

“Yea,” she replied as she did another two-step shift, testing out the seams, “that’s kind of the point.”

To her surprise, someone let out a choked cough.  Marinette whipped her head up in concern, brow furrowing as she took in the sight of Adrien curled over on her chaise, face red and lung hacking on what was likely inhaled alcohol.

Her two best friends were supposed to be helping her get dressed for a mystery date, but she found that Adrien was uncharacteristically unhelpful.  Instead of giving input into her clothing choices, hair, or shoes, he blushed through most of the styling session and remained concerningly mum.

She hoped he wasn’t coming down with a cold or something.

“You ok, Adrien?” she asked from where she was standing.  All her movements stalled for a moment as he composed himself.  Though he continued to cough a little, probably from the burning of the wine he had just taken down the wrong pipe entirely, he held up a hand and nodded in reassurance he was ok.  Alya watched him from her spot knowingly.

“Don’t worry about our precious little sunflower,” the redhead intoned, her eyes glued to his discomposed figure.  “He probably just needs a little bit of your Jesus.”

“Alya!”

Marinette’s astonished outcry coincided with Alya’s deep, self-satisfied chuckle and Adrien’s crimson blush.  The noirette shook her head in disapproval of her friend’s antics.

“All right.  You’re relieved of your duties, madam.  Your services are no longer needed.”

And with that, she gave the girl a shooing motion with her hands, accompanied by a half-hearted glare.

Alya rose out of her chair but in no way looked offended.  Instead, she kept grinning slyly and slowly slunk toward the trap door like a fox toward its den.

“All right~ but you better take care of sunshine over there.  If you’re not careful, you just might make him a convert~”

Marinette clapped both hands to her hips and humphed while Alya cackled and ducked below the now-open hatch.  As it closed over her head, Marinette turned toward her other friend and gave him a reassuring smile.

“Sorry.  I know Alya’s a handful.  She’s my best friend, and even I can only take her in small doses sometimes.”

As she spoke she tidied up the mess in her room- rejected shirts, dresses, and pants, small bags of make-up, even jewelry she tried on but decided not to wear.  None of it earrings, of course.

Absent-mindedly, she fingered the studs in her lobes and wondered not for the last time, whether she should get a second piercing.  Adrien’s voice brought her out of her thoughts.

“D- don’t worry about it.”  He gave a nervous laugh. “I know she doesn’t mean any harm.  What, uh, what’s the special occasion?”

The lid of the jewelry box closed with a muted thud, and she turned around.

“I told you.  I’ve got a date,” she reminded him.

Adrien’s flush returned, and he looked down at the hands in his lap.

“Right.  I knew that.  Uh, so, who- who’s the mystery guy?”

It was kind of cute the way Adrien seemed to stutter around her.  She sometimes wondered why that was, but never thought about it too deeply.  She just attributed it to his sheltered home life and did the best she could to be a good, kind friend to him, hoping in time he would be more relaxed around her.

“Tha- that’s kind of a secret,” she answered, biting her lip.  In all honesty, it was even a secret to the person she planned on having the date with.  In fact, she wasn’t entirely sure the date would happen. That all depended on whether he showed up or not.  Though, it seemed like he always did land on her rooftop terrace on Friday nights around 10....

“Oh.”  

Something about the way he said the word sounded so disappointed, it made Marinette feel guilty.  His shoulders slumped as he sat there, staring at the floor like he wished he could be swallowed by it.  She felt her resolve crack a little and made her way to the chaise to take the empty spot beside him.

“Can… can you keep a secret?” she asked after a pause.

Adrien’s head ticked upward instantly, his wide green eyes staring into her in such a familiar way.

Of course they’re familiar, dummy.  It’s Adrien.

Marinette gave herself a little mental shake and sat up straighter.

“Ok, but what I’m about to tell you, you can’t tell anyone.”

She said it in as serious a tone as she could and waited for him to nod in equal sincerity.

“Ok.”  Marinette took a breath.  “So, you can’t tell anyone, but from time to time, Chat Noir stops on my rooftop and stays to hang out with me.”

A light pink began filling Adrien’s cheeks, and she felt her own face begin to heat a little.  Embarrassed, she turned her gaze toward the floor off to the side of and behind Adrien.

“This is really embarrassing, but I think I like him?  Like, a lot? He’s really nice, and really polite, and I know he’s kind of a flirt, but sometimes I feel like he’s actually being sincere.  I don’t know if that makes me stupid, or silly, or what, but I was just kind of… hoping I could make him see me in a new, maybe more than friendly light.  And I don't even know if he's going to show up tonight or not, but I'm really hoping he does.”

When she ended her speech, her fingers were twiddling nervously in her lap, and she found she couldn’t meet his eyes.

Marinette,” she heard from somewhere in front of her.  

It was said so softly, so reverently, that she couldn’t help but lift her head.  When she did, she found Adrien’s face so close to her own, one half of his mouth quirked up in a fond expression that made her heart skip a beat.

Their eyes locked for a moment, and she wondered then when he had gotten so beautiful.

I mean, objectively, he was always pretty handsome, but in that moment, she just couldn’t help but notice how radiant he was.

Marinette swallowed and averted her eyes, trying to hide the slight blush in her cheeks.

To her surprise, she felt something soft and warm touch them, and when she looked up again, Adrien was pulling away.  She lifted a hand absent-mindedly to the skin he had just kissed.

The boy looked back at her, head slightly tilted and small smile on his face.

“You have nothing to worry about.  I can promise you, he’s always seen you that way.”

She sat there, staring intently, unable to even blink.

“How do you know that?’

His smile widened into a grin.

“Call it a hunch.”

Then he stood up with an energetic hop and headed toward the hatch in the floor.

“I should get going.  I'm sure your Prince Charming will be here soon, if he knows what's good for him,” he called along the way, then stopped and turned, hatch handle in his hand.  Another grin, fonder this time, made her heart thump a little harder. “By the way,” he said after a pause.  “That skirt’s a good choice. I think Alya is right. You’ll definitely make a convert out of him, if you haven’t already.”

Marinette squawked, face tomato red, and tossed a pillow in his direction.  Giggling giddily, Adrien ducked below the trap door as it shut with a thwack, and the pillow landed on it with a quiet, underwhelming poompf .