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Paris was a nice town. It truly was a beautiful place, and surprisingly well kept. It’s a huge tourist attraction, especially attracting Americans. Paris was known as a very peaceful place. It did seem that way from movies and tv and pictures, even when you were there. But there is just so much no one sees. So... so much.

 

_____________

••••        ••••

——————

 

 

Light pink spaghetti sleeve dress with flowy folds, a white and pink striped long sleeve fitting perfectly underneath. Pink flats, no socks. Marinette liked to believe she had a good sense of style. Words of bullies stating otherwise had followed her her whole life. It got easier to shake them off as she was older considering that was in middle school, and she was twenty-two. Her hair was super flat when she wore it down, but she liked it still.

 

Being a part time fashion design student was pretty interesting. Her parents owned the most popular bakery in Paris, so she wasn’t exactly short on cash for living. But she still loved design, and even though she could get off her feet without school, she still thought dedicating herself to at least part time classes was a good use of time. But more than anything in her free time, she liked to go to different types of artistic activity classes. Pottery, painting, watercolor painting, sculpting, stuff like that. Today’s activity of her choice was painting at an artist shop she had never attended before. It had gotten pretty good reviews she’d heard. Peaceful and pretty with really nice and talented instructors. Thoughts of colors and flowers swirled around her head as she continued her way to the shop on foot.

 

••

 

The bell that chimed as she pushed the door open was a sweet sound, almost like the chirp of a bird in early morning. The room she entered was just that of an art supply store, albeit a peaceful and more professional looking art store. Marinette could have sworn she heard soft guitar music, and confirmed that she had when her eyes wandered onto a man sitting on a stool in the corner strumming an acoustic guitar. He had long black hair with electric blue tips, a muscle tank revealing the string of tattoos on both arms, ripped black jeans, and combat boots. Upon stepping closer, the plethora of piercings on his face became apparent.

 

“Hi, do you know where the creative painting class type thing is?”

 

The man nodded. He lifted up the guitar while still playing it, using the neck to point to the hallway behind the doorway he was sitting next to.

 

Marinette nodded her thanks, heading down the hallway quickly. A wooden door decorated in painted roses stood right at the end of it. There was a glass window that was tinted, resembling a heavy window more than anything else. She gently twisted the knob, ever so slightly edging her way past the door and into the room. The closed the door behind her, then began to take in her surroundings. The walls were covered in different varieties of pictures and scenes, the only place without paint being a small wall portion against the left corner of the room. Even the floor was colored, but it was a simpler black and white comic book print. There were art stations with easels and tables neatly stacked with art supplies near each one, a lot with a slightly larger blank table and a chair. There were only about four other people in the room. Before she could start to mentally observe them, her attention turned to the voice speaking to her.

 

“Hello miss. Are you Marinette? You kind of look like a Marinette.” The man speaking had long natural red hair that flowed all the way down his back. He had on a long peach colored sweater, a black turtleneck shirt resting underneath, accompanied by red jeans and brown lace up boots. “I’m Nathaniel, I lead this course. It’s not exactly a class, more just free style. You pay to use my materials, but I will assist you if needed.”

 

Marinette nodded. “Thank you, Nathaniel. Where would you say the best place in the room is?”

 

Nathaniel gave a small smile. “Each station has different materials, actually. You said you liked softer colors and watercolor, so that would be the spot next to the man in the corner.”

 

Marinette turned her attention to where Nathaniel had directed. A man with clear albinism sat in the corner, a tall muscular woman with short, spiky pinkish-red hair standing behind him. Marinette decided to place herself in the spot before observing further.

 

Now settled in her seat and much closer, she could more clearly see the man’s eerily calm expression. Not only was his skin and hair very white, but he wore all white as well. A long with white sweater, a white t-shirt, white pants, and white boots. Marinette liked white, but it was far too delicate of a color for her to wear the color exclusively. She almost wanted to punch herself for the thought, but he almost looked like a patient in a psych ward that you’d see on tv. Again, she hated herself for that because she had seen a mental hospital in her time before. It almost intrigued her. Not that she thought he was an insane man that had escaped from a psych ward or anything. Ugh, she hated her brain.

 

The albino man was appeared very focused on his painting. She couldn’t see the canvas, but she could observe each stroke his hand preformed. It was careful, almost planned out in a way. Some how, she could tell that these careful strokes of his paintbrush wasn’t the only thing in his life that had been planned. Almost like he was used to a schedule, even if no one had built it but his own subconscious. Marinette shook out her head, deciding she needed to get started on her own work and stop staring at strangers. She was limited on time, but she was paying for it.

 

Apparently her elbow had found its way next to a plastic bin, one of which that it easily helped find its way to the floor. For being plastic, the bin made a louder sound than expected, and had decided to bust open. And where did it go? Well right next to the base of the supply table at the albino man’s station, of course. Marinette released an audible groan, pushing herself to stand up, taking a few steps forward until she was at his station. She placed herself on the flat of her legs in a kneel, then grabbed the now practically empty bin of faux pink flowers. She reached out her hand to start gathering flowers, than paused.

 

“I’m so sorry, I’m a total klutz and I knocked this stupid thing over just ignore me.” Marinette rambled to the stranger without looking up. She began to collect the flowers one by one, but paused again when she felt and partially saw the chair besides her push backwards, and the inhabitant of said chair crouch on the ground besides her. She slowly lifted her head up from the turtle in a shell position it had been in, the albino man now even clearer in her view. She couldn’t tell if his eyes were crystal blue, or red. Somehow, she saw both hues at the same time, but not together. She simply paused as her eyes trailed down to his hand as it picked up one of the spilled flowers, and as far up as they could go as it slipped said flower in her hair, tucked slightly behind her ear to keep it in place. Marinette moved her eyes to meet the mysterious stranger’s again once he retracted his hand to his side.

 

The piercing and scar faced spiky haired woman stepped up next to the man, though stayed standing.

 

“Adrien. What are you doing?”

 

The woman’s voice was something a lot different than Marinette would have expected. She didn’t know quite what she had in mind, but it certainly wasn’t valley girl meets skater chick.

 

Adrien, apparently, slowly turned his head to look up at the woman who appeared to be acting as a chaperone of some sort.

 

“She dropped her flowers. I was helping return them.”

 

Marinette practically fell over on her side as soon as the voice had registered and processed in her ears. It was low, but not deep. Soft and silky, but with a small tinge of something fiercer hidden in he back of his throat. It was like listening to silk speak. This man, Adrien, ‘s voice had quite literally taken her breath away.

 

“No no no, putting one in her hair is not returning it. You’re supposed to ask before you touch strangers.” The woman sighed.

 

“I-I don’t mind, I think it was sweet.” Did she just say that? Oh god she just said that.

 

“See, Alix? No reason to be so paranoid.” Adrien replied calmly, now scooping up the remaining of the spilled flowers, returning them to the plastic bin.

 

The woman or—Alix, let out a slightly more grumbled sigh.

 

“This nice girl wasn’t bothered, good for you. But you’re still supposed to keep your hands to yourself unless you ask and get permission.”

 

“You’re making it sound like I’ve raped someone. I would never in my life commit an act so vile and iniquitous. So please don’t allude to such.” He looked down at Marinette. “I don’t have a history of that, I promise. My friend here is just paranoid.”

 

“While yes it’s true you don’t have a history of that and in fact react with a notable amount of negativity to the subject, hands to yourself isn’t just because I think you’re going to inappropriately touch someone.” Alix said in a way that made the statement sound like a reminder.

 

“I-I don’t think you do.” Marinette replied. “I never said that and I never would...that is quite a heavy accusation to put on a stranger that you don’t know a thing about...” She shifted her position. “You don’t have to tell me anything about this whole uh...situation. I really didn’t mean to disrupt you... I’m so sorry.”

 

Adrien shook his head gently. “Don’t be. You say sorry too much. You did nothing wrong.”

 

Marinette wasn’t quite sure how to reply to that, so she only nodded. She snapped the lid onto the bin of flowers, then pushed herself to stand. She found Adrien had quickly done the same. Once back and seated at her own station, she noticed Adrien had followed her back over to it, prompting Alix to follow him. Adrien tilted his head to the side.

 

“What is your name?”

 

“I-I...I’m Marinette.” Marinette answered, turning to look up at the mysterious albino that had seemingly attached himself to her like a lost puppy.

 

“Marinette.” Adrien repeated. “What a beautiful name. It suits you.”

 

“Adrien, let’s go sit down. Come on we’ve only got an hour before we have to return.” Alix advised.

 

“I can finish that later. I was almost done anyways. Let me make friends.”

 

“You’re getting flirty. We’re supposed to work on taming that, remember?” Alix places a hand on her hip.

 

“I’ve literally only done this to Luka, and I meet lots of people. I’m no player, Alix. I’m simply being kind and speaking the truth of what’s left of my heart.” Adrien brushed his pale fingers through his equally pale hair.

 

“Maybe you should uh...give him some more credit?” Marinette suggested nervously. “You’re giving him an awful lot of rules wh-when he’s hardly done anything and n-none of it is out of the ordinary...”

 

An expression crossed Alix’s face. Marinette couldn’t quite tell what it was through the piercings, burn scars, and mashed up right eye, but it was certainly an expression. Alix then proceeded to step closer to Marinette, leaning in close to her ear.

 

“Hon, he’s not exactly your everyday person. With someone with a mental state quite different from normal, even small things like flirty gestures have to be discouraged due to our inability to predict what he’ll do. We’re just trying to keep you safe, so no blood is shed.” Alix pulled back up straight.

 

Marinette made a face. “He’s violent?” She whispered, then looked at Adrien. “Him?”

 

“Not normally, it’s just precautions.”

 

“Maybe if he’s not showing signs of it, you should just...lay off?”

 

“I’m quite sad I can’t be treated as normal. You fear I’ll act up, so you treat me like I will. Give me a chance.” He placed a hand over his heart. “You should be more like Luka.” He looked down at Marinette. “It means a lot you’re thinking of my feelings. A stranger. You’re very kind hearted, Marinette. Will you be coming here regularly?”

 

Marinette nodded. “Yes.” She decided at that very moment in time. “On this day this time.”

 

“Perfect.” Adrien gave what Marinette could tell was meant to be a small smile, then returned to his seat, Alix following after him. Marinette continued to watch him. Adrien flinched, then covered his mouth his hands. Alix kneeled down next to him quickly. Before Marinette could hardly process, Alix and Adrien were gone from the space.

 

Marinette stood up, walking up to Nathaniel. “Those two people Alix and Adrien in the corner...they were really here, right? I’m not crazy?”

 

Nathaniel nodded with a soft laugh. “Oh yeah, they definitely were. Adrien comes here twice a week, same time both days. He lives in one of those permanent residential live in mental health facilities. I won’t say a lot about that though because legally I’m only allowed to say so much, and it’s just none of our business. Adrien is a good guy. Alix may lay down some rules that aren’t personal to him or his past, just ones that all residents from there get. He doesn’t have a criminal record, quite the opposite, actually. But just listen to Alix. She knows him better than any of us.”

 

Marinette stayed quiet for a moment trying to ponder what exactly ‘the opposite of a criminal record’ was, then shook out her head to go back to reality. She nodded. “Alright. But he seemed to want to be friends um, that was nice.”

 

“Do oblige in his offer. He isn’t any less of a human, but for his and to a point your safety, just follow Alix’s rules.”

 

Marinette nodded again. “O-Okay, Thanks.” She waved, the headed back to her seat.

 

••

 

About an hour and a half later, a profile portrait of herself with followers flowing from her hair stood before her. The flowers in the painting were the real faux flowers from earlier brushed into the painting with paint and glue.

 

Marinette reached her hand up to adjust the flower that had been placed in her hair earlier. She smiled, then stood from her seat. She gathered her things, and made her way to Nathaniel. “I’m guessing I’ll just leave the painting there and you’ll move it somewhere to dry?”

 

Nathaniel nodded. The red-head was mainly focused on his own piece of art as well as the others in the studio.

 

“Okay, thank you. Um, I’ll be back same time next week same day.”

 

“You planning to attempt to see Adrien again?”

 

Marinette choked on her own spit. “H-He’s interesting! And nice. What’s the issue with trying to make friends?” Marinette placed her hands on her hips in a defensive stance.

 

Nathaniel broke out into a long chuckle. “Nothing! You’re the one getting nervous. I’m accusing you of nothing.”

 

Was her face the shade of his hair by now? Likely.

 

_____________

••••        ••••

——————

 

“So, how was your first time at this place? Was it anything special?” Alya inquired as she typed away at her keyboard.

 

Marinette didn’t go to friend’s houses a ton, but Alya was more of sister than anything. They weren’t even super super close. Marinette would go to Alya’s house and the two would sit in the same room on their phones for hours, and neither minded. But they did have things to talk about quite often as well. Now Alya had always been...pushy and nosy to say the least. Whenever Marinette would even mention the name of a boy or girl she met, Alya would ramble on and on about how they were going to get married. That was mainly in highschool, but she still did it now. Luckily she was more teasing than anything, but it was still quite annoying. So the mysterious albino Adrien wasn’t going to come up in conversation if Marinette could help it.

 

“Nah.” Marinette answered. “The instructor or whatever since it’s technically not a class is really nice. His name is Nathaniel.”

 

“Nathaniel? That works at slash owns an art studio? Does he have long red hair?”

 

“...yes...?” Marinette answered slowly.

 

“You know my coworker Marc? That’s his boyfriend!” Alya informed cheerfully.

 

“Oh that’s really neat.” Marinette replied with a nod. “It’s a very peaceful place. I think uh... I think I’m gonna go back weekly.”

 

“Oh wow!” Alya replied. She pushed herself back from her keyboard, then twisted her chair to face Marinette. “I think that’s good for you. To find an activity that you stick too. Plus art is a great creative outlet for when you’re feeling all kinds of emotions.”

 

“Yeah...yeah! I mean with no job and only part time college, I’m kinda of bored a lot.”

 

Alya let out a scoff. “Girl, just because you are self employed does not mean you don’t have a job.”

 

“I sell clothes I sew and up-cycle old pieces sometimes. I don’t think I do it enough to consider it a job.”

 

“Give yourself credit where credit is due.” Alya said with a groan.

 

“I thought we established this.” Marinette shrugged playfully, standing up from Alya’s bed. “I’ve been sitting here for hours and I know we only just started talking, but I’ve got a night class today. Weird, I know.”

 

“Bye girl.” Alya waved as Marinette left the room.

 

As Marinette exited Alya’s apartment and then the building, random thoughts of earlier decided it was an appropriate time to pop into her head. The unique not to mention gorgeous eyes of the stranger Adrien more specifically. Even though he had looked at her a lot, none of it felt like staring. It was like his eyes practically belonged on her. His gaze just felt so natural. There was none of the discomfort that normally came when a stranger stared her up and down. And why the fuck was she thinking of it so much? He wasn’t anything special. Just another stranger.

 

Oh but that wasn’t true and she knew it. It was factually true to be exact. Apparently he lived at a residential mental health facility. Don’t you have to be like super crazy to live in one of those? Adrien didn’t seem crazy. He seemed super nice. And normal. But apparently he was violent? That just didn’t seem right. Until she got answers, which she likely wouldn’t, she would wonder what such a sweet and calm man was doing in a place like that. She knew it wasn’t like horror movie mental hospital or anything. She had heard they were quite nice actually. But he still had to have a reason, and she was still very curious to what that was.

 

_____________

••••        ••••

——————

 

Everything didn’t have to be white and light blue in his house, he just liked it that way. He could have even chosen a bigger place on the premises of the facility, he just found comfort in small and homey housing. How he kept everything so clean was unknown to even himself. Sure there was a cleaning service that helped out with basic things, but most of it was his job to keep things neat. A job of which he was rather good at luckily.

 

Adrien stared up at ceiling as he lay flat on his bed.

 

“Little kitty on a roof, all alone without...a place to go.” He quietly sang in a low tune.

 

Though he personally was limited on electronics, he was allowed to go on them occasionally, but generally chose against it. Electronics held real life. The media, people, judgement, expectations, all things that he hated. Sometimes he could just pretend he didn’t exist, and it was great. Very few people knew him in the world, and that was exactly the way he liked it. The one person that he truly wanted to matter to was long gone. And now that she was gone, it was almost like she didn’t matter anymore either. But he knew she did. She always would.

 

••

 

Because Alix was his personal assistant (he preferred to call her his guard because it sounded cooler), her keycard granted her access to Adrien’s housing unit without having to be granted permission by Adrien. She wasn’t the only one with this power, but was the one who used it most. Knowing Alix could walk in at any moment made privacy pretty hard for him, but she heavily respected his wish for it, so was always careful about entry anyways.

 

Alix was currently placed in an arm chair that was pressed against the wall of Adrien’s bedroom.

 

“You maybe want to go out to eat some time this week? You don’t get restaurant food a lot. Maybe tomorrow, Thursday night? We’ll already be out from your studio time.” Alix suggested.

 

Adrien was currently standing up, slowly turning around in circles with his arms slightly lifted out.

 

“Hm. Where do you want to go?”

 

“It’s up to you, not me, Adrien. You’re the guest of honor here so you get to choose.”

 

Adrien shrugged. “I don’t care. I like to eat here, alone. I like feeling like I exist by myself in the world. No one to judge me. Though yesterday felt slightly different. Marinette. I could never forget that name. There are many things you don’t know. Like how the world is calling out to me with this girl. She means something to me. I just have to find out what.”

 

“Alright, that’s fine. Just know your boundaries, please. And she said okay to your simple touch once but she’s currently still a stranger so please ask before any physical interaction. Got it?” Alix shifted her position to where her legs were dangling over one of the arms of the chair.

 

“Yeah, yeah I know. Please stop reminding me.” Adrien allowed himself to fall back flat on his bed.

 

“I only remind you when you don’t go by it like yest-“

 

“That girl is different.” Adrien raised up his hands, then slammed them back down onto the bed. “Um...not different, different...sorry I just forgot. But don’t worry, my morals are strong enough to know boundaries even when I forget. I-I just...” Adrien slowly inhaled a breath through his nose, then slowly out through his mouth.

 

“I’m sorry. I understand you’re upset. But you still have to listen to me. You’re a good person, Adrien. I don’t think you’re going to do anything bad—“

 

“Then treat me like that, please. You reminding me my flaws and saying you think that I /might/ act out upsets me a lot and makes it more likely for something to happen. Even if you don’t have faith in me, can you at least act like you do?”

 

Silence struck the room for a solid five minutes, though it felt closer to an eternity. Adrien almost forgot he was on earth when Alix’s voice brought him back.

 

“I never thought of it that way.” Another pause. “You clearly have shown control, you’re not someone who lacks it. You’re still human. We have precautions we’re required to take but...each patient is different.”

 

_____________

••••        ••••

——————

 

How Alya had managed to drag Marinette out to eat A, at an Italian restaurant, and B, on a Thursday night was completely beyond the both of them. Thursday’s were one of the two weekdays that she didn’t have class at any time during the day. Monday’s and Thursday’s were her off days, Tuesday had an evening class, Wednesday had a morning class, and Friday had a morning and night class. She generally liked to use Thursday’s to prepare for the business of Friday’s. But Alya had somehow managed to pull off ‘let’s have a girls night! It’s all you can eat breadstick night!’

 

Marinette held up the menu, her blue eyes studying the contents it contained intently. She didn’t go to this place often, but still knew she’d likely get the same thing that she had ordered almost every previous time she ate here.

 

“Loaded meat spaghetti, that seems amazing.” Alya commented from behind her menu. She next pressed it back flat onto the table. “So getting that.” Alya was a total carnivore at heart—she adored meat. She’d order the meatiest dish she could find pretty much anywhere. “What are you looking at, Mari?”

 

“Uh... the Alfredo noodles look pretty good?”

 

Alya audibly sighed. “You get that every time!”

 

“I like it! You know I’m not for trying new things I’m very comfortable in what I know.” Marinette shifted her head to the side in a sassy fashion with her eyes closed. Once she opened her eyes, then widened them at the familiar flash of white they had spotted in the corner.

 

/‘There is no way this is happening. What if he sees me?! What if he makes something of it?! Alya will never let me hear the end of it!’/ She rambled in her head. She narrowed her eyes to get a better view and to make sure she wasn’t going crazy, and she did in fact spot Adrien and his chaperone person Alix sitting in a corner round booth table that was clearly meant for more than two people.

 

“MARINETTE!” Alya shouted, causing Marinette to scream, and stares to attract. She didn’t care who heard as long as a certain someone wasn’t one of them. “Girl! You alive in there?”

 

“S-Sorry! Just spaced out a little!” Marinette squeaked, suddenly deciding she was a believer in the Catholic god.

 

Thankfully, the waitress had arrived at that moment, distracting the two from the mishap. After ordering, Marinette threw her head back with her eyes closed.

 

“Um, Marinette.” Alya began.

 

“Yeah I know I probably threw my phone in my water or something just let me sit here and allow this chair to claim me as its own. Please don’t shout my name.”

 

“No girl I think you might be interested in knowing—“

 

“What?” Marinette opened her eyes, which immediately shrank when the sight of the mysterious albino looking down at her registered. Involuntarily, let out a shriek of shock, her flailing body movements causing the chair to start backwards. It didn’t fully reach the hard floor below it due to it being caught by two strong hands that gently pushed it back to the proper position on four legs.

 

“I didn’t touch her, I was making sure she didn’t fall backwards and hurt herself.” Adrien’s gentle voice spoke to Alix, who stood close next to him.

 

Alix gave a firm nod. “I see that. You don’t have to explain yourself.”

 

Marinette currently sat with her eyes crossed staring blankly in front of her, limbs still in the default position from nearly collapsing onto the floor.

 

“Marinette, who are these people? Do you know them?” Alya inquired. She touched Marinette on the shoulder, causing her to jump.

 

“Huh?”

 

“Do you know these people?” Alya then turned to Alix and Adrien. “Maybe I should just ask you. I know I don’t know you, but do you know Marinette? Or is there something else we can do for you?”

 

Marinette officially renounced her new found faith in the Catholic god.

 

“We met Marinette at Creation Noelle on Tuesday. An art studio that she just started going to.” Alix explained. “Adrien,” She motioned to to the individual fitting the name. “Wanted to say hello.”

 

“Well Marinette that is very nice of him.” Alya commented to Marinette, her classic look of mischief and interest taking its place in her eye.

 

Marinette caught said look as she slowly turned around in her chair to face Adrien and Alix.

 

“Isn’t it?” Alya added after a short silence.

 

“Yes, yes it is.” Marinette mumbled. She slowly moved her eyes to look up at Adrien, a slight comfort resettling in her.

 

“You don’t have to be embarrassed. I’m not embarrassing, am I?”

 

Goddamnit. His tone was so soothing and his eyes were so kind. He practically looked like a cloud, maybe she could burry herself away in him forever. Wait, what the fuck thoughts?!

 

“N-No! No no that’s not it at all! I-I’m just really awkward around new people especially when my friends /thisoneinparticular/ are here! Sorry that’s weird ah—“ Marinette was suddenly punched in the side, then slapped in the face by Alya. Her face read ‘get yourself together girl!’

 

Adrien cocked his head to the side ever so slightly. He folded his hands together. “No reason to get violent, Miss. Marinette here is nervous, it’s perfectly natural.”

 

“It’s just play, dude. I’m her best friend practically sister. I’m not gonna hurt her. It is really sweet of you to be concerned for her safety though. Real gentleman like of you.”

 

“Alya please SHUT up.” Marinette groaned, turning her head to place it back in her hands.

 

Adrien placed a hand on Marinette’s shoulder, then quickly drew it back. “I-I’m sorry—“

 

“No, no I don’t mind.” Marinette answered practically without thinking. “Alya is a good friend to me, I promise. Just annoying.” She turned to face Adrien again, a smile smile on her face, which was soon accompanied by a small laugh.

 

“So you just met Marinette and you already feel a connection with her, huh? That’s really neat. Marinette could probably use a protective guy like you around.”

 

In a flash, Alix stepped in front of Adrien. “I think it’s time we go back to our table. Marinette, see you on Tuesday.”

 

“Did I say something wrong?” Alya asked, genuine worry in her tone and on her face.

 

“I’m just going to ask that you refrain from comments like that. I get your teasing, but you don’t know everyone’s story.” Alix replied. “Afterwards we’re gonna head to a bakery—“

 

“Marinette’s parents own a famous bakery. Most popular in France and is a hugely popular tourist attraction!” Alya broke in. She then made a face. “Ah, sorry... I’m a bit spastic. Sorry, Mari here doesn’t have many friends.”

 

“Adrien doesn’t either, I get it. And yeah I’ve heard of that place, that’s where we were going. Maybe we’ll run into her sometime, we go there every week. Not on the same day, but still.” Alix turned around to face Adrien. Thankfully, she was blocking Marinette and Alya’s view of Adrien’s face. His eyes were small, devoid of emotion. His head hung loosely to the side.

 

“Can you hear me, Adrien?” Alix whispered. “Come on, let’s go outside. The wait staff is aware I paid as soon as we ordered.” Alix gently guided Adrien away from the table, and soon completely out of sight.

 

“Is...is he okay? Mari do you know what happened? Did I do something?” Alya’s look of worry came back, stronger this time.

 

“He uh... it was explained to me that he l-lives in a residential mental health facility... apparently he has heavy trauma and stuff... not sure much more than that but we have to be careful around him... that girl, Alix, is like a legally appointed guard slash assistant person who is trained to aid him in ways he needs. Why do you think I didn’t mention him? I don’t want to disrespect him, Alya. His situation is a mystery to me. I don’t blame you, but please don’t push relationships on me and people I get along with. You never know their story, just like Alix said... apparently something you said set him off...”

 

“I... I’m so sorry, girl. Oh my.... I never considered that maybe my teasing should stay between us in private... it’s only fun to annoy you to bits anyways.” Alya gave a small laugh, which Marinette returned.

 

“Uh, they said they were going to my parents bakery. I’m going to give them a call.”

 

“Do I smell an apology treat coming?”

 

“You smell it, and he’s gonna taste it.”

 

_____________

••••        ••••

——————

 

The rest of Thursday had been fine. Friday afternoon was a mess.

 

The white glass lamp hit the wall, shattering into several pieces. Adrien let out a scream that was a mix of a sob and a pained laugh. He sat on his knees, small eyes watching his trembling hands. “Stop visiting me...I’ll never be like you... oh no my sweet, I’m not talking to you...” Adrien fell onto his back, now laying in the middle of the floor. “I miss you. Why did you leave me?”

 

••

 

Adrien was sitting on the couch of one of the reception areas that resides in one of five of the main buildings of the property with a mug of hot chocolate resting in his hand. He stared up at the giant crystal chandelier that hung above. He had always wanted to live in an ice wonderland.

 

Alix entered the room. “Alright, Adrien. Want to go sit at the lake?”

 

Adrien shrugged, taking a sip from his mug.

 

“We invited Luka to visit for a few hours and that’s where he is.”

 

Adrien looked up at Alix with interest, then nodded.

 

••

 

It had been hours, he was pretty sure. Hours of listening to Luka’s gentle guitar melodies while staring out at the lake with a cool breeze blowing around them. Adrien repositioned himself to sit up slightly.

 

“You have flashbacks too. You’re not in a crazy home.”

 

Luka shook his head with a silent chuckle.

 

“Luka doesn’t have all the diagnosis you have nor in the same way. Not everyone with trauma has to live at a place like this. But some do if it’s heavy enough and effects the person in just the wrong way. But it’s nothing to be ashamed of.” Alix replied.

 

“Eh. I know.” Adrien sighed. “I just... I guess I feel alone sometimes.”

 

Luka briefly pulled his hands from his guitar. ‘You’re never alone, Snowdrop.’ He signed. Luka was mute, but Adrien was almost positive he would have the most seductive and enticing voice possibly convinced if he wasn’t. Luckily both Adrien and Alix were fluent in sign. Alix as part of her job, and Adrien as a skill he knew since he was young.

 

“I know.” Adrien replied with a shrug. “Sometimes I just want to smash my fist into the wall until the skin breaks. White is a gorgeous color but don’t you think a touch of authentic red would help?”

 

“Nope. No, and I do not.” Alix answered. “If you feel you’re entering mania, please inform me.”

 

“Maybe just a little bit. I see her sometimes. She left me, but comes back when I want to ask her why. She’s not real, sure. But it feels real.”

 

“Your ex-girlfriend is in a better place now. She’s not in pain anymore. But I get that’s a dumbass thing to say.” Alix took a seat on the grass next to the bench.

 

“My father can’t hurt her anymore. He is gone now too, and for that I am thankful.”

 

It hurt whenever Adrien spoke those words. His father Gabriel Agreste actually wasn’t dead, but in the most high security prison in Europe. They’d try to tell Adrien this, but the poor boy was under the false belief he had killed the man. Trying to correct him never did any good, so now they neither confirmed nor denied the delusion.

 

“He can’t hurt her, that is true.” Alix confirmed. That was true, so she could agree with that.

 

Another long period of silence save the guitar music.

 

••

 

“I-I did this... e-everything is destroyed—“

 

“No you didn’t.” Alix interrupted. “It must be scary to be trapped in a world like that. I would be scared if I believed I had committed such an act too.”

 

With Alix’s permission, Adrien was currently placed in Luka’s lap with his arms wrapped around the albino.

 

“Y-Yes I-I did it’s all gone because of me I’m g-going crazy...”

 

“Why do you believe that the world is a pale wasteland and you’re the one who made it this?”

 

“B-Because I-I’m out of control a-and my emotions cause destruction the thoughts that swim in my head jumped out a-and make me do these things...I-I know it’s not logical but it happened...”

 

“I want you to listen to me. Close your eyes, just listen.” Alix instructed.

 

Adrien slowly shut his eyes with a shaky breath.

 

“What you’re seeing isn’t real. We aren’t the only ones alive. I promise it’s all okay. Neither me or Luka see the world you do. I understand it must be scary. But I promise you’re okay.”

 

“Y-You don’t see it?”

 

“No.” Alix confirmed gently. “We’re just by the lake. Nice and peaceful. We’re alone, but I promise everyone else is okay. You didn’t hurt anyone.”

 

“I-I think I trust you...I want to believe you... you wouldn’t lie to me...”

 

“No I wouldn’t. Keep your eyes closed as long as you need. Just relax, and you’ll be okay.”

 

_____________

••••        ••••

——————

 

“It’s Tuesday again and almost time for your art thingy.” Alya commented happily.

 

Marinette nodded. The two were currently in the living room of Marinette’s apartment.

 

“Yep. Nathaniel said Adrien and Alix generally come at two-thirty so instead of four so I’m arriving at three. Yes, it’s so I can see him for longer. I said it because I wasn’t gonna let you tease me first HA.”

 

Alya laughed. “Damn girl, you did beat me to it.” She paused. “Oh, and you don’t have to worry. Just because you want to be friends with someone doesn’t mean you’re gonna run off and get married. This guy is different, but he’s interesting. I think he could benefit from someone like you.”

 

“Eh.” Marinette replied with no real opinion driving the remark. “Probably not, but we’ll see.”

 

••

 

Marinette once again was in the shop front of the art studio. She wandered around a bit before finding the long hallway at the back once more. The punk looking man playing the guitar once more sat on the stool next the the hallway opening. He smiled at her, which she returned. Before walking on, she paused. “Do you like work were as a live musician or something?” She asked with friendly interest.

 

The man shook his head.

 

“Are you a friend of the owner’s?”

 

The man nodded.

 

“That’s cool.” Marinette smiled. “I-Uh am-uh bad at communication, but uh hi! You’re very quiet is it me? Did I do something?” Marinette bit her lip.

 

The man let out a silent chuckle, then shook his head.

 

“Um...okay by!” Marinette ran down the hall, practically ripping open the studio door.

 

The studio only had three people in it as of current: Nathaniel, Adrien, and Alix. Adrien and Alix were placed in the same corner as the previous time, and Nathaniel was at his normal station near the front of the room. Marinette waved to Nathaniel.

 

“I hope it’s okay I changed my time. Works out easier for me.”

 

Nathaniel nodded. “That’s perfectly fine. After one-thirty we normally close off until three thirty for special reservations, but they approved your request to start at three.”

 

Marinette looked over at the corner, where Alix waved.

 

“O-Oh.” She squeaked. “I mean if it’s a problem I—“

 

“It’s all good!” Alix called. “We understand busy schedules. We try not to be on a tight one, but sometimes things don’t work out.”

 

Marinette nodded shyly, her face now red. She slowly made her way to the station she had been at previously, taking a seat. A fresh, blank canvas sat on the easel, staring her in the face with its possibilities.

 

“Those macaroons are to die for, Miss Marinette. Thanks for letting us get them for free.” Adrien’s smooth tone entered her ears like a smack in the face.

 

“O-Oh yeah! I felt bad for what happened that night so I called my parents. I-I think Alya mentioned that they own it.” Marinette picked up one of the brushes, then opened one of the paints.

 

“She did.” Adrien confirmed. “How have you been, Miss Marinette?”

 

Marinette shrugged, beginning to move her brush along her canvas. “Good. Nothing special. I have to admit I’m flattered that you came and said hi to me last Thursday. I’m really sorry things were messy, Alya is complicated. But she’s a good friend, I promise. She’s a journalist and writer. She loves a good ‘scoop.’” Marinette finished her answer with a slight laugh.

 

“It’s quite alright. My life wouldn’t be mine if things didn’t go weird ways. You’re an interesting person from what I see. You seem like you’ll be a good friend. You seem like you understand what living with a weird brain is like.” While he conversed, Adrien was painting along his canvas as well.

 

“A weird brain?”

 

“Like you’re wired differently. You’ve lived with your brain in a graveyard before. A weird brain doesn’t have to require mental abnormalities, but it usually does. You’ve seen how they talk of how I’m from a mental institution. But does that make me crazy?”

 

“Be careful with this, Adrien. But I trust you.” Alix commented.

 

Marinette shook her head. “No. Or at least I don’t think it does. You just have some ailments that making living in an environment where things can be specialized for you and where help is always available easier on you, right?”

 

Adrien nodded. “Yes. Alix is technically ‘my assistant’ though I call her a guard, but I also like to consider her my friend.”

 

“I consider you a friend too, Adrien.” Alix piped in.

 

“Alix helps me. Sometimes I get real sad. Or real angry. Or maybe I go crazy. But my emotions are just mean in short. I get things in my head telling me violence is the answer to save those who need me, and myself. But I tell that voice to shut up and it usually does.”

 

Marinette nodded without hesitation, honestly surprising herself. “I got bullied really bad through my entire years in grade school. You wouldn’t imagine how many times I just wanted to see someone pummel those sorry bitches into pieces. But I moved past it without any violence involved. Well, not towards them. Just between you and me, I used to be incredibly depressed. I even had to see inpatient one time. But I’m good now. Stronger then ever.” Marinette turned her head towards Adrien, flashing a quick smile. She then went to focus back on her work.

 

“Brain in a graveyard. I was correct. Is Alya your only friend?”

 

“Only close friend. I didn’t meet her till middle school and we didn’t become serious friends till year ten. Her fiancé Nino is nice, but I wouldn’t exactly say we’re friends. I was popular among teachers in school, and there were people I talked to frequently, but I didn’t exactly have friends.”

 

“I don’t have many friends either. Alix is my friend. I have a friend named Luka. Nathaniel is nice but I don’t know him well.” Adrien shrugged. “Maybe we could help each other.”

 

/“By help you mean ruin your career? Yeah, maybe.”/ The taunting, cold voice of his past tormenter teased. Adrien glanced to the side, seeing the image of the man accompanying the voice it belonged to. /“You’re really going to try to get into another relationship? You’re fucking pathetic and a disappointment.”

 

“Cause we’re both lonely? Yeah, maybe.” Marinette gave a friendly laugh. “You know, I’ve always wanted to meet an albino. I know th-that’s weird but...I think it’s pretty cool.”

 

“You do?” Adrien asked, genuine shock painting his tone.

 

/“Ugh.”/ His father scoffed. /“She’s either trying to make you feel better or is just plain stupid. You look like a pale ghost, and it isn’t good for the brand. I’m telling you, get the spray on tan and dye your hair like we used to do.”/

 

Adrien glanced around again.

 

“Yeah.” Marinette nodded with a smile.

 

“That’s weird because it’s fucking ugly and you’re dumb for thinking that.” Adrien gasped, slapping his hands over his mouth after he realized he had spoken his father’s words aloud alongside him.

 

Marinette didn’t look offended, not at all. Only concerned. “Adrien? Are you okay?”

 

Alix stepped up next to Adrien. She gently put a hand on this shoulder, which he flinched in reply to.

 

“Adrien. Adrien, look at me.”

 

Adrien jerked his head to the side, now further than looking towards Alix than he was before.

 

/“That’s a good boy. Just ignore her. She’s going to try to make you feel better and talk you out of the truth. The world isn’t light and fluffy. It’s dark. And you’re a weak pansy for expecting it to go any other way.”/

 

Adrien let out a whimper.

 

“Adrien. I can tell from your specific behaviors. It’s your father, isn’t it? He’s not here. You’re just hallucinating.” Alix explained gently.

 

“His...father?” Marinette accidentally spoke aloud. /‘Shit.’/

 

“I’m so sorry you have to see this, Marinette.” Adrien mumbled, still looking away.

 

/‘If this girl doesn’t think you’re weak than she’s just as stupid as you are.’/

 

“Me and Marinette can’t see him, Adrien. I promise no one is there.”

 

Adrien didn’t reply. He only trembled intensely, somehow still managing to hold onto his paint brush.

 

Marinette stood up slowly, then walked closer to Adrien. “Is uh...is there anything I can do to help? Do you want to talk about it?...” She asked sheepishly.

 

“That’s perfect Marinette.” Bunnix complimented.

 

“Um...I-I don’t know... he’s uh t-taunting me he says you’re stupid for thinking my albinism isn’t ugly...but that’s not true...you’re not stupid...”

 

“Uh...he seems to be next to you so uh...maybe look at me instead?”

 

/“No! Adrien! I am your father! Obey me!”/ The voice snarled.

 

Adrien turned his head to look forward at Marinette, a wave of relief washing over him as his eyes took in how the soft pink tones of her dress complimented her peach skin and raven hair. Her dress one one of those that had a thin fabric layer for decoration over the under layer for structure. Cherry blossom flowers were lined along the hem of the skirt and sleeves of the dress. The sleeves were only made of the thin see-through rose gold fabric, for the structure dress underneath stopped as a sweetheart line strapless. She had a choker with a cherry blossom flower charm on to match, as well as a similar hair clip in her hair. The more and more details of her outfit he observed to himself, the quieter the voice of his father got, until the image of voice of the man was gone altogether.

 

“He’s gone now. Thanks, Princess.” Adrien smiled up at Marinette, a warm blush suddenly taking residence on her face. “Your dress is pretty. Great distraction from nightmare fuel fathers.”

 

Marinette gently grabbed the skirt of her dress on each side, curtsying. “Why thank you.” She gave a small, light laugh before he face straightened up again. “Seriously though, what you go through does not seem easy. I don’t think I could keep going if I dealt with what you did.” Marinette admitted sheepishly.

 

“Well, I appreciate the compliment. Now this Chat Blanc should continue to his expression of emotion on an artistic canvas.”

 

“Chat Blanc?”

 

“I like cats. I always think of myself as a white cat. Cats are the greatest creatures alive.” Adrien informed.

 

“You do kinda look like a cat prince from a mythical land that got turned human somehow. I mean that in a good way.” Marinette pulled a chair from against the wall, then placed herself in it.

 

“Don’t worry, that’s definitely a compliment.” Adrien smiled.

 

“Hey Nath, how long till ya open public again?” Alix asked.

 

Nathaniel briefly looked up from his canvas. “I think about fifteen minutes, but no one else should be coming until four.”

 

Alix nodded. “Kay, thanks tomato boy.”

 

“No problem, TimeBreaker.”

 

“I’m guessing you two are friends.” Marinette turned to look up at Alix, who nodded in response to her question.

 

“We’ve known each other since middle school. Why do you think we’ve chosen this place?”

 

“Case in point.” Marinette nodded.

 

••

 

Both Marinette and Adrien and Alix had packed up, and now were exiting the studio room.

 

“I’m not sure how exactly the whole institution guidelines work for outsiders—“ Marinette began before getting cut off by Alix.

 

“Well Adrien actually gets a little bit more lenience because he’s in a residential home. But there still are plenty of things we can’t discuss with you because you’re an outsider. There’s not as much law stuff involved as you’d think, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. Essentially, Adrien can tell you whatever he wants. There’s only so much I can tell you without his permission. Basically, I can state the situation and measures that may need to be taken. Adrien can say whatever specifics he feels like.”

 

“I prefer to be an open book.” Adrien shrugged.

 

As the three exited the hallway, both Adrien and Alix stopped, prompting Marinette to do the same.

 

Adrien was now standing partially in front of the man that sat in the corner playing guitar. Marinette watched as he put the guitar to the side, then made motions with his hands. What exactly they were clicked when Adrien returned similar gestures.

 

“Wait... sign language? But he’s not deaf...I know because he heard me earlier.” A confused look painted Marinette’s face.

 

“He’s mute.” Alix explained. “Adrien is fluent in sign language. And so I am I. Job requirement.”

 

Adrien turned to look at Marinette. “He says he likes your dress.”

 

“O-Oh! Um, thanks.” Marinette replied shyly. Realization hit her brain. “Are you Luka?”

 

The man with the guitar or—Luka, nodded.

 

“I said I have a friend named Luka.” Adrien clarified.

 

“Wait, why do you sign back if he can hear you speak?”

 

“It’s kinda like whispering. Only we understand what’s being said. Well, Alix does but she’s not paying attention.” Adrien explained.

 

Alix cocked an eyebrow. “Should I be paying attention?”

 

Adrien laughed. “Nah.” He signed something to Luka, who gave a silent chuckle in return.

 

Alix made a face. “No. Jesus Luka you’re what, two years older than Adrien? Be mature.”

 

Luka stuck out his tongue, then signed something to Alix, who simply groaned.

 

“Very mature, Luka. Go back to being cool and mysterious.”

 

Luka gave another silent laugh.

 

“What were they saying?” Marinette asked.

 

“They’re being stupid.” Alix grabbed Adrien’s arm, pulling him forward. “Nothing inappropriate, and nothing about you.”

 

Adrien ripped his arm from Alix’s grasp, hissing. He threw what looked to be an attempted punch at her, which she caught extremely easily. Alix quickly pulled and held both of Adrien’s hands behind his back. Her stance was firm and protective, preventing as much movement as possible.

 

“Breath, Adrien.”

 

Marinette looked over at Luka, concern painting her eyes. Luka gave a look that appeared to be reassurance back.

 

Each person stayed in their same position for a solid five minutes, but it felt much longer. Alix slowly released her grasp on Adrien, and stepped to the side. Adrien slowly raised himself to stand up straight once more. He held his hands together in front of him, then backed up to sink against the wall.

 

“Adrien?” Marinette asked with heavy concern in her tone. “What happened?”

 

Luka stood up, and stepped closer to Adrien. He gently cupped one side of the pale man’s face with his hand. Adrien opened his eyes, looking up at Luka. Adrien gave a small nod before Luka completely pulled away, continuing to his stool. Adrien walked away from the wall, then up to Marinette. “You’re not scared of me, are you?”

 

“What? No, of course not. You got worked up. There’s nothing wrong with you for that.” Marinette’s concerned look transformed into a gentle smile.

 

“That’s sweet of you... thank you.” Adrien paused, then turned to Alix. He signed something to her, which she nodded in response to. The hand sign conversation continued, lasting for almost two minutes.

 

“We’re going to head to that bakery again. Care to accompany?” Alix asked.

 

“O-Oh yeah I can do that!” Marinette wasn’t she why sometimes she had the nervousness of her thirteen year old self, and sometimes she had the confidence of some kind of love goddess.

 

“Also, Adrien’s going to be quiet for a little bit.”

 

“That’s fine.” Marinette replied, not really sure what other words she was supposed to conjure up in reply to that.

 

••

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

The restaurant/dining portion of the bakery that rested through a door in the back managed to be big and small and homey at the same time. Currently no other customers resided in it, and the Dupain-Chengs had decided to close the restaurant so the three could have privacy. The three sat in a booth placed in the corner of the building.

 

Alix had gotten a Mont Blanc, while Adrien stayed with the simpler choice of macaroons. Marinette got bakery treats all the time, so she chose against getting a treat this time around.

 

Adrien and Alix sat next to each other while Marinette sat across from them in the other booth seat. All three were quiet.

 

Suddenly, the sound of a phone ringing went off. Alix pulled out her phone, sighing. “Damn it. Fu wants to talk about my reports from last week. But I mean I’m out right now and I can’t—“ Alix cut herself off as an idea flashed through her head. “Marinette, would you be willing to stay with Adrien for a few minutes? I’m only allowed to leave him for five legally while in public as long as there’s other supervision and uh you, you’re supervision.”

 

“I-I’m not! What if I don’t—“

 

“You’ll do fine. I’m literally world renowned and I’m trusting you so.” Alix rocketed up from her seat, practically teleporting from the room.

 

“Yeesh. No pressure.” Marinette muttered under her breath. She looked up at Adrien, who was staring intently down at his plate of macaroons as he took small bites from the one he currently held. “I understand all this stuff is for protection, but it seems pretty dehumanizing.” Marinette commented causally. Panic and the realization she had spoken the words aloud hit her like a punch to the face. That stuff wasn’t bad to say, but she wasn’t so sure it was appropriate at the moment. After her initial panic, she realized Adrien was nodding.

 

“I was a model in my old life. Dehumanizing is all I ever experience.”

 

“I’m... so sorry.” Marinette frowned sorrowfully. “I wish I could help.”

 

“Being here is enough.” He looked up at her from his currently slouching position with curious eyes.

 

Alix returned to the room, then to the booth. “Looks like things went well you’re almost smiling, Adrien.”

 

Adrien shrugged. “She makes me smile.”

 

Marinette moved her hands to her cheeks to rub off what was on them, but realized once they were there that what she was feeling was a red hot blush.

 

••

 

The three were in the front of the bakery again. Tom and Sabine both stood behind the counter.

 

“We always love seeing you in here, Alix and Adrien. We never knew you were friends with Marinette.” Sabine commented sweetly. “First learned when she described you and asked for it to be her treat last week.”

 

“We had actually only met on that previous Tuesday.” Marinette replied sheepishly. “But still. Yeah!”

 

“You have such a nice family. All kind and sweet. All understanding and accepting. All together.” Adrien commented flatly.

 

Alix’s remark of the voice Adrien had been talking to being his father popped up into her mind. The fact that this guy had a bad family life was practically a given.

 

“We try to be.” Marinette commented quickly. “Don’t... don’t blame yourself for what you don’t have.” She whispered.

 

Surprise struck his red-blue eyes. They practically read, ‘you knew it wasn’t jealousy?’

 

“If Adrien needs to get back home now, we understand.” Sabine commented gently. “Take it easy. Have a good day. And even if you don’t, don’t take it out on yourself. You deserve better than that.”

 

/‘Like mother like daughter.’

 

 

 

 

 

_____________

••••        ••••

——————

 

Like father like son.” A deep, sadistic voice snarled. “You killed him, sure. Whatever. I knew we were alike.”

 

“N-No!” Adrien protested. He attempted to close his eyes to shield them from the sight of blood and the corpse on the ground, but he could still see. “I-I’m not like this! Y-You mmmm...mmmade me!” He just barley choked out. “All these years y-you’ve forced me to aid you and n-now you made me kill someone—“

 

Adrien felt the sharp smack of a cane to his side, then was suddenly in his basement.

 

“I didn’t tell you to kill anyone! You did it on your own.”

 

“No I didn’t.”

 

“Then why is she dead?”

 

“She?—“ Adrien’s eye’s widened as the corpse of the stranger on the floor in front of him suddenly transformed into an all too familiar woman dressed in pink.

 

“NO! NO! NO! MARI-“ 

 

 

Adrien suddenly sat up in his bed, a blood-curdling scream sounding from his throat. He slammed his palm into a button on the wall behind him, the powerful holler still erupting from his throat.

 

••

 

Marinette was currently chilling on the coach in Alya’s living room with said individual. She scrolled mindlessly through cat pages on Instagram, her eyebrows twisting in interest when a text from an unknown number popped up. She clicked on the notification, her screen going to the message app where the full message lay.

 

‘Hey Marinette! This is Alix Kubdel, you know, that punk chick that watches Adrien. I got your number from Nathiel, I really hope you don’t mind. We were wondering if you had a few hours to kill at the paint studio with us? It’ll be just me, Adrien, Nath, and you. Well, maybe Luka but idk if he’s available this time of day’

 

Marinette recited the message to Alya, whose face peaked with interest.

 

“They’re inviting you out? That’s cool. And going through effort to do so. It’s like nine in the morning though.”

 

“‘Least it wasn’t yesterday.” Marinette shrugged. “Got a morning class then. I went with them to the bakery after studio time on Tuesday. Thursday’s are completely free. I can do that. I’m going to.”

 

“Good for you girl!” Alya smiled. “You still on for the gaming store with me and Nino later?”

 

“Game on!”

 

_____________

••••        ••••

——————

 

Marinette passed the doorway, into the hall. Luka currently wasn’t there, as Alix had predicted. He probably wasn’t a morning person, certainly didn’t look like one. To be fair, she wasn’t either. But had pretty much just gotten used to her body waking her up whenever she felt like it.

 

She entered the room, thoughtlessly making her way to her typical seat near the corner. She turned to Alix and Adrien, who were in their normal positions, and smiled.

 

The smile Adrien returned wasn’t just of kindness of happiness of seeing a friend, but of relief and full heart.

 

“It’s good to see you, Marinette.”

 

Marinette nodded in response. “Are um... you alright? You seem...almost...scared...”

 

“Nightmares. Common part of PTSD. They have lots of fancy words they use to describe me, but I prefer mysterious stranger in a romance anime.”

 

Marinette gave a small giggle in return to his joke. “I’d guess that makes you feel better.”

 

“It does.” Adrien replied with a smile, turning to his canvas.

 

Marinette turned to her canvas as well. She glanced at Adrien out of the corner of her eye, and was struck with an idea. She dug through the paints on the table next to her until she managed to fish out small glass containers of white and blue.

 

••

 

Marinette set down her brush, smiling at her painting. Marinette wanted to show the muse of her portrait, but wasn’t quite sure how to initiate. Luckily, Alix spotted the painting, and did the job of getting Adrien’s attention. The albino slowly rose from his chair, making the few steps needed to get full view of Marinette’s canvas. What lay on it was to his surprise, a portrait of him. The style was near realism, shocking him. His long, messy hair was captured just perfectly, the blue shading doing it much justice. The expression was one of curiosity and kind shyness, which he was bewildered to how she had captured emotion so perfectly in a painting. Another thing that shocked him was the perfect imitation of the self undecided color of his eyes. He had seen a million pictures of himself before, sure. Hell, he had even seen paintings. But none that captured the raw emotion of the true person that lay inside his heart. He was almost tempted to yell witch on her, still completely dumbfounded as to how she had so perfectly pulled this reflection from his soul. Apparently his body had decided he was so moved by this, that tears were necessary.

 

“I-I...” Adrien finally managed to let out after minutes of silence. “Marinette...this is beautiful... you... you captured me...”

 

“Oh uh, thank you.” Marinette smiled. “You’re very complex emotionally. I don’t think I’ll ever truly be able to capture your essence into one painting.”

 

“Maybe not. But you’re pretty damn close.”

 

After another minute, Adrien slowly held out his hand to Marinette. Slowly, and slightly confused, Marinette brought her hand up to his. Adrien locked his fingers with hers, squeezed, the retracted his hand.

 

“Hand hug.”

 

“Aw.” Marinette said with happy laughter. “When it’s dry later uh...you can have it.”

 

Shock touched his eyes. “Really?”

 

“Of course.” Marinette nodded.

 

“Marinette, that is so kind of you.” Alix added in. “Thank you.”

 

_____________

••••        ••••

——————

 

Marinette currently sat on the floor of her bedroom, her tablet, laptop, phone, and several books all open and sitting in front of her. She groaned.

 

“Why does this have so many specifics? And I thought English was hard.”

 

Her door opened, and Alya entered, automatically stopping in her tracks to attempt to observe what she was seeing.

 

“Mari, what are you doing?”

 

“Trying to learn sign language.” Marinette answered without batting an eye. “I’ve basically got the alphabet down but Jesus Christ there are so many signs that mean whole words and I don’t understand how someone has the capacity in their brain to remember them all.”

 

“And you’re doing this because...”

 

“There’s this guy that plays guitar down at Creation Noelle his name is Luka and Adrien is friends with him and I want to be friends with him too and he’s mute.”

 

“Why do you need to be able to speak it if you can just speak back and he’ll hear you?”

 

“Because in order to understand it I have to learn it. It’s easier to memorize by becoming familiar with it. And plus him and Adrien speak in sign language and I’m their like an idiot not understanding it and I’d like to be able to have my own silent conversation if so desired.”

 

Alya let out an amused sigh. “I’ve always wanted to learn sign language, but I always had so much more to focus on. I can read braille because one of my coworkers is blind and she taught me just as a skill.”

 

“Well luckily he isn’t blind so that’s not what we’re dealing with here.” Marinette shrugged, continuing to sign things with her hands while looking at one of her screens. “Sign language is a valuable skill don’t make fun of me.”

 

“I’m not. I’m making fun of the fact that you practically have a whole library on your floor.”

 

“Shut up.”

 

_____________

••••        ••••

——————

 

Alix entered the Dupain-Cheng bakery, glancing around. Marinette had texted her, asking to meet alone. Adrien was currently in his housing unit with other staff members available with the press of a button, so she was fine not to be there 24/7. Though just barley, she did have her own life, and wasn’t always with Adrien.

 

Marinette walked through a back door, a large pink gift bag in her hand. She waved with her free hand, then stopped when she made it up to Alix.

 

“H-Hi! Um, I wanted to give this to Adrien... I painted it the day I first met him and his flower addition to my hair inspired me so...don’t unwrap it or anything you’ll see it when you give it to him... I hope that’s okay.”

 

“Marinette that is a hundred percent perfectly fine. This would never be a problem!”

 

“Well uh... its a portrait of me...so—“

 

“Still fine.” Alix took the bag from Marinette’s hand.

 

“Oh. Okay.” Marinette smiled. “O-Oh and uh, Alix?”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“Adrien mentioned he used to be a model?”

 

Alix’s face contorted into something similar to a grimace.

 

“I’m really surprised he told you that. That uh...was a really hard time in his life.”

 

“If he was a model, how come I’ve never heard of him? Was he not famous?”

 

“Oh he was. But his dad covered up his appearance with dye and tans because he thought it was ugly and bad for the brand.” Alix answered with a sigh. “That’s all I’m gonna say because any other details are Adrien’s call.”

 

Marinette was unable to hold back a disgusted scoff. “Ugly? He is far from ugly honestly he’s b—“ Marinette cut herself off, a pink blush spreading onto her cheeks.

 

Alix began to laugh. “Blanc over Jaune, certainly. And you think you’re the only one? Oh man girl, you should see Luka. You see how close they are. But it’s just platonic, surprisingly.”

 

Marinette gave a slightly nervous laugh back. “Ha Ha, Yeah... I don’t even have to see those old pictures to know I prefer Blanc... Oh and speaking of Luka, how did you learn sign language? It’s so hard.” Marinette groaned, prompting a laugh from Alix.

 

“It takes practice and time. But you’ll do good if you really devote yourself to it. That’s awesome that you’re trying to learn it.”

 

“Yeah! I-I want to befriend Luka... not just like around Adrien but, he seems pretty cool. I’d like to make communication easier on him.”

 

“If you really want to do that, learn to play an instrument. He speaks music. For real though, that’s really sweet. Learning a whole new language just for one person? You are a great person.”

 

“Eh.”

 

“No really! I only allow people to get involved with Adrien that I feel have a good heart, and would be good for him. I’ve got food intuition. Not to pride myself or anything.”

 

“Nah, you’re good.” Marinette smiled. “For this job, when you’re responsible for someones safety, you kind of have to be confident in your abilities of trust.”

 

“Bingo! You get it.”

 

Marinette lightly shrugged. “I’ve got trust issues. Don’t have many friends. I’m good at sniffing out trouble too. It’s basically a defensive mechanism.”

 

“Unfortunately, we live in a world where that’s necessary.”

 

_____________

••••        ••••

——————

 

It was...beautiful. He couldn’t keep his eyes off of it. He made sure Alix hung it were he could easily see it when he was sitting on his bed. It was much different from everything else in his home. It wasn’t white or blue. It was primarily pink, save the hair that was painted in black and deep blue tones. The flowers weren’t just painted details, but real faux flowers added to the painting through paint and glue. He currently held up the one he had snatched from the floor that day, staring at with soft intensity.

 

The small pink flower had been lonely for the two weeks it had been introduced into the home. Now it had a friend in the form of a portrait of a beautiful soul. The fact that she was thinking of him meant even more. The sweet pink paper note, gift wrap, and gift bag all sat nicely displayed on his desk. The splash of color was nice. Often purple and black shadows would enter unwelcomed. He didn’t like those colors very much.

 

“Little kitty on a roof, less alone than he’s always known.” Adrien sang softly. “Having something...seems so fake...when nothing...” he sang. “Is all you’ve...known.”

 

_____________

••••        ••••

——————

 

It had officially been a month since Marinette and Adrien first entered each other’s lives. It was now about two weeks to Halloween. Marinette has transitioned wearing sweaters and tights with her skirts, but pretty much refused not to wear one. She liked them. The cold weather wasn’t going to stop her.

 

Marinette entered the front door of the art studio. Today, she had Nino with her. He wanted to discuss Christmas pictures for the store’s website, and Marinette was more than contempt to have Nino join her. All she asked is that he didn’t try to involve himself too much in Adrien, due to the unknown results. Nino basically just knew the dude’s name. Nothing about him or where he was from, not his personality, not even what he looked like.

 

Marinette stopped at the doorway of which Luka resided next to. She waved at him. “Hi Luka! I-I’m um...well...I-I’m trying to learn sign language f-for communication I mean it’s hard but I think it’ll be worth it.”

 

Luka gave a kind smile. He stopped playing his guitar for a second. He signed something to her. Instead of using the signs representing whole words like he did with Adrien and Alix, he slowly sighed something letter by letter.

 

‘You are so kind, Marinette. I like your dedication. Sweet, flower.’

 

It took a full minute to sign it all at a speed Marinette could read, but both found it worth it. “A-Aw. Thank you, Luka! It’s nothing special.”

 

“Mute I’m guessing.” Nino commented.

 

‘No, I had my voice taken away by a sea witch.’ Luka signed. Once Marinette read it, she laughed.

 

“He says that he’s not mute, just had his voice stolen by a sea witch. I think.”

 

Nino laughed as well. “Well, good luck finding your prince.”

 

Luka gave a friendly nod before picking his guitar back up, continuing to strum it.

 

Nino and Marinette made their way down the hallway, then through the studio door.

 

Nathaniel perked his head up, smiling. “Hey Marinette! Hey Nino! Thanks for coming man.”

 

“Oh no problem. Since Mari here was coming, thought I’d tag along since I had a date here anyways.”

 

Marinette turned towards the corner. She began towards it, but stopped when she noticed Adrien’s fixed look on Nino, even from afar. She saw Alix whisper something to Adrien, who nodded in response.

 

Marinette stepped forward again, but was once again stopped, this time by Nino’s voice.

 

“Oh by the way Mari think you c...” he trailed off. “A...Adrien? Adrien Agreste?”

 

“That’s more than I told you about him you know him?” Marinette gasped.

 

Nino practically teleported to the back corner, leaving Marinette struggling to keep up, though she still managed to do it somehow.

 

“Yeah. Yeah yeah yeah it’s you!” Nino exclaimed. He held out his fist to Adrien, who appropriately bumped it with his own. Nino then turned to Marinette. “You didn’t tell me ‘Adrien’ was Adrien Agreste!”

 

“I uh...I didn’t know.” Marinette replied awkwardly.

 

“I met Adrien when I was a teenager. It was just a few times, but I was really glad to be there for him.”

 

“I had a difficult life. When me and my father were doing some things at a school, I met Nino. He met me out on the street for a few nights before my father got more permanent and tougher on locks. First friend I ever had.”

 

“And by the way dude, you look a hundred times better without that dye stuff your old man made you wear. That shit was ugly.”

 

“Thanks.” Adrien replied quietly. “I quite enjoy being myself.”

 

“The White really suits you.” Marinette commented quickly.

 

“Hm.” Adrien replied. “Thanks. I think a hint of pink would match me too.”

 

Marinette blushed. Did he mean her?

 

 

_____________

••••        ••••

——————

 

 

It was now the next Tuesday. The Tuesday before Halloween to be exact. Marinette, Alix, and Adrien had currently exited in the waiting room of the common building closest to Adrien’s housing unit, and were now walking down the hall to enter one of the casual rooms. The causal rooms were places that residents could just chill out in, typically with another resident or visitor.

 

Once in the neat, pale colored room, Marinette placed herself on the dull pink couch against the wall. Adrien stood in the middle of the room, eyes wandering along the walls of it.

 

“I’ll be right back, guys. There’s no camera but there are people on duty around here so if you need anything before I’m back press the button. Gotta get some stuff filed.” Alix left the room, shutting the door behind her.

 

“Do um... do you guys ever do anything for Halloween?”

 

Adrien turned to look at Marinette, a smiling forming on his lips. “I love Halloween! Sometimes they have little get togethers during group where we eat candy and tell scary stories.” He answered. “You like Halloween too?”

 

“I love Halloween!” Marinette replied with an enthusiastic nod. “Don’t get me wrong, Christmas is great, but Halloween just feels so much more like an everyone holiday. And it’s so much more fun!”

 

“Christmas as a child just reminded me that I didn’t have a proper family. My father never let me dress for Halloween, but I always wanted to.”

 

“How about we dress for Halloween this year? I could go to the studio Thursday and we could hang out in costumes there.” Marinette suggested, prompting the most enthusiastic smile she had seen come from him. He trailed his way over to the couch, still not sitting down yet.

 

“I’m a white cat. You know I adore them. And basically all I need are cat ears and a tail.”

 

Marinette nodded with a smile. “I should do an animal too! Hm uh...I’ve always really liked mice uh...oo! Ladybugs were really my thing when I was younger. I could do that.”

 

The word ‘ladybug’ caused all light from Adrien’s eyes to completely dissipate, the rest of the cheer on his face falling to the same fate shortly after.

 

“No.” He answered in a low voice.

 

Concern washed onto Marinette’s face. “No? D-Did I say something wr-“

 

A fist was suddenly slammed against the wall right next to her head. “YOU CAN’T BE LADYBUG YOU AREN’T LADYBUG!” Adrien roared, breath heaving.

 

This definitely shocked Marinette. She didn’t feel like crying about it, but apparently her eyes did. She helplessly looked at him with wide, teary eyes, her mouth hanging open.

 

The guilt and realization that washed over Adrien suddenly could practically be seen doing so. His gaze softened, and he finally placed himself on the couch next to her.

 

“P-Princess I-I’m so sorry I—“

 

“I accidentally pushed a button. I’m really sorry. I didn’t know. It’s not either of our faults.” She assured gently. She placed her hand on top of his bleeding fist. “I don’t blame you.”

 

“B-But you’re c-crying—“

 

“You startled me, that’s all. The tears are already going away.”

 

“I-I feel bad th-this is why I’m locked up here—“

 

“Hey.” She placed her other hand on his shoulder. “Shh. Relax. It’s okay. We all have flaws. You shouldn’t think any less of yourself for it. How about I do a black cat instead? That’s really matching then.”

 

Adrien nodded slowly, his eyes lost in her kind blue ones. “I love black cats. Generally not a fan of the color but, I love black cats.”

 

Marinette nodded again in reply. “Yeah, Yeah! We’ll be matching cats.” She smiled.

 

The door opened, and Alix entered. She shut the door behind her, then moved her eyes to take in the sight of the two.

 

“Did something happen? You guys have both been crying are you okay?”

 

“Just fine. I said something I didn’t know would upset him. It’s no one’s fault. We learn more everyday.”

 

“That’s a great attitude to have about this.” Alix replied. “You would make a good therapist.”

 

“Nope. That’s dumb no I wouldn’t. I’m really into fashion—“

 

“Fashion.” Adrien stated.

 

 ‘Ooooo! What a girl! You know, you’re dad’s really into fashion. You are the purrfect model after all. Cat puns. You used to love them.’ 

 

Adrien attempted to keep his eyes focused on Marinette, and not the CopyCat as he had called him behind her. The man tossed his cigarette onto ground, shifting his position against the wall. ‘Pretty girl.’ 

 

“That’s really cool.” Adrien ended up saying. “I’ve always had fashion in a bad light. I’m glad you’ve come in to brighten it up. You should show me some of your designs sometimes.”

 

/‘She’d look really pretty chained up against a wall nude with red marks on her skin begging and crying. Seriously. Catch yourself some prey, kitten.’/

 

Adrien let out a low growl.

 

“Marinette squeeze his hand.” Alix instructed swiftly. “I know that body language and look he’s hallucinating.”

 

“Adrien. Adrien can you hear me?” Marinette asked gently, squeezing Adrien’s hand as instructed. “We don’t see  what you do, I promise.”

 

/‘Gentle and caring too. That is so sweet. How do you think she’d be after you broke her mind? Whiny and dependent maybe? Possibly stick herself to your side like a leech. Delicious.’/

 

“Stop it!” Adrien growled, closing his eyes tightly. “Stop saying that!”

 

“He’s talking to whoever or whatever he’s seeing.” Alix clarified. “Adrien, don’t focus on it. Tell me two things you can feel.”

 

/‘Ugh. That whore is trying this again?’/

 

“I-I c-can feel Ma..Ma..Marinette...um..I can feel the soft couch...”

 

“Good. Tell me two things you can hear besides the voice of your hallucination.”

 

/‘But I have such a great voice. It’s the cat’s meow I’d say.’/

 

“Y-You’re voice...um...I can hear the air conditioner...”

 

“Good. Two things you smell?”

 

“Uh...Marinette is wearing strawberry perfume I think...”

 

“I am.” Marinette confirmed.

 

“So uh that...um...the air, I guess?” He inhaled deeply. “These thoughts a-aren’t mine...I-it’s stuff that h-he would have said...things he said t-o me... I promise I’m not—“

 

“We believe you.” Alix assured. “Just because a hallucination speaks to you doesn’t mean that you think or believe in the things that it’s saying.”

 

“We don’t even know what was said, but we believe you.” Marinette added. “You’re one of the sweetest people I’ve met. You would never harm someone with the intention of doing it.”

 

Adrien slowly opened his eyes. “Okay.” He nodded. “He’s still here...I’m not going to focus on him...”

 

“Good idea.” Marinette replied. “Yeah uh, maybe I could should you some of my designs! Technically I have, I almost always wear my own designs.”

 

“Whoa.” Adrien gasped. “Your stuff looks professional! You’re amazing.”

 

CopyCat spoke more malevolent thoughts for only Adrien to hear, but they slowly quieted down before ceasing with the figure they were coming from as Adrien paid more focus to Marinette. She chatted about sewing and her favorite designing techniques and other fashion development details.

 

“You just keep getting more and more amazing.” Adrien complimented.

 

“Eh. But thank you.” Marinette smiled. “But I’ll never be as amazing as you and your strength to battle those demons in your head.”

 

“La la la.” Adrien replied.

 

Alix laughed. “Okay guys compliment wars aren’t needed.”

 

“He needs to know!” Marinette argued.

 

“Can’t disagree with that. That he does. He very much so does.”

 

_____________

••••        ••••

——————

 

She did a black cat pretty well. Her hair was pulled into a loose braid to the side with two leather cat ear clips resting on the top of her head. A black tutu like skirt with a black long sleeve, tights, and lace up boots was her outfit, a costume tail clipped to the back of her skirt.

 

“Anyways, it’s pretty simple.” Spoke Marinette. Adrien nodded. He only had a costume white tail with costume white ears, but he always wore all white anyways. “So I’m guessing you don’t go trick or treating?”

 

Adrien shook his head. “Father never let me. And I’m too old now and locked up in a crazy home so.”

 

“Not a crazy home. Residential mental health therapy facility.” Alix corrected.

 

“I went until I was seventeen. Never too old for free candy.” Marinette laughed. “I’m twenty two now so clearly I don’t go anymore, but my parents always give out candy and treats at the bakery, so I go and help them hand it out.” Suddenly, a lightbulb went off in her head. Alix spotted the look in Marinette’s eyes. She opened her mouth to speak, but was cut off.

 

“Adrien, if it’s okay with Alix...would you like to hand out candy with me tonight?”

 

Interest spread across Adrien’s face. “I...I probably wouldn’t be good with kids... and I bet it gets pretty busy, I wouldn’t like to burden you all more.”

 

“I’ll have to ask the higher ups, but I get most say in it and I think you’re capable of it, Adrien.” Alix added in. “I think you could do pretty well with kids if you let yourself.”

 

“You wouldn’t be burdening us at all! I really think it would be fun." Marinette smiled. Goddamnit. That sweet smile. Always so reassuring and comforting. Feeling like he could actually do something was a weird feeling, and he almost wanted to be mad at her for giving it to him. But he wasn’t.

 

“Okay.” Adrien nodded with a small smile. “Sounds fun, Princess.”

 

••

 

“Happy Halloween!” Marinette called at the group of children as they left. When a new group came up, Marinette pulled out her bowl again.

 

“I love your costumes!” A chaperone of two kids complimented. “They’re so cute!”

 

“Oh, thank you!” Marinette smiled as she put candy into the two children’s bags.

 

“Black and white cats! Is it a couple costume?”

 

“What? I-wh-no?” Marinette and Adrien stammered in unison.

 

The woman laughed. “Ah. Just a friend. I’ve been there too. Happy Halloween!” She and her two kids walked along down the street.

 

Marinette and Adrien stood still for a second before turning to face each other.

 

“Tha-That’s not—“ Marinette began.

 

“Typical unknowing strangers—“ Adrien broke in.

 

“She just doesn’t—“

 

“Get it.” The two completed in unison.

 

Alix walked out the front door of the bakery. “Why are you two looking like tomatoes just grew into your cheeks?”

 

“It’s nothing.” Both answered quickly.

 

Alix couldn’t help but laugh. “Someone made the couple costume remark, didn’t they?”

 

“Wh-Uh-ah..no...?” The two answered, sheer a nervous awkwardness plaguing their tones.

 

Alix laughed again. “You two are hilarious.”

 

••

 

The three sat at a booth in the restaurant portion of the bakery, Halloween themed treats and candy spread out on the table in front of them.

 

“I like the pumpkin macaroons.” Adrien commented as he popped one into his mouth.

 

“You really like macaroons.” Marinette observed.

 

“They taste good.”

 

“That they do. But I grew up practically eating them for breakfast.” Marinette laughed. “So sometimes I get tired of em.”

 

“It’s nine-thirty-three, Adrien. Our deadline is ten-thirty for tonight.” Alix informed.

 

“What?!” Adrien squeaked through a mouthful of macaroon. He swallowed, then took a sip of his water. “It’s normally eleven!”

 

“Well today is Halloween and there’s heavier risk of people doing stupid shit. And plus what’s the last time we stayed out past nine anyways?”

 

“Well I’m hanging with a friend.” Adrien protested.

 

“Doesn’t change the rules.”

 

“I don’t want a schedule!” Adrien hissed. “I’m not a puppet or a doll you get to set up, I’m a person.” He crossed his arms.

 

“Adrien, we cant control other people. Just trying to do what’s safest.”

 

“Just listen to her, Adrien. Nothing is going to happen likely but better safe than sorry. I’m off my classes tomorrow so I could come and do something then if you want.” Marinette flashed a friendly smile.

 

“I was going to chill around in the local music shop with Luka. You could join us there.” Adrien offered. “Alix could message you the details.”

 

“Yeah!” Marinette smiled. “That sounds perfect. I don’t play instruments or uh, not anymore. I used to play the flute. But I know I don’t need to play one to be there. What do you play?”

 

“Piano.” Adrien answered. “A beautiful instrument, really.”

 

“Agreed.” Marinette smiled. “I always wanted to learn to play. But I’m swamped with other things.”

 

“Maybe someday.” Adrien replied with a nod. “So, see you tomorrow?”

 

“It’s a date!” Marinette smiled, then the face of a mental slap replaced it. “N-Not a /date/ date just like uh y-yeah it’s a d— DAMN IT!” Marinette groaned.

 

Adrien let out a smooth chuckle, throwing his head back. Marinette watched his long and loose bangs fall back into place once he through his head back forward.

 

“I get what you’re trying to say.”

 

“So uh, see you tomorrow?”

 

“It’s a date, Princess.”

 

_____________

••••        ••••

——————

 

Chapter Text

 

Marinette was very contempt with sitting on a stool sketching new design ideas in her notebook while Adrien and Luka played a soft piano and guitar duet in the background. Alix was sitting off to the side flipping through a book.

 

Luka put his guitar to the side, tapped Adrien, and pointed to Marinette.

 

“Marinette, Luka wants you.” Adrien informed.

 

Marinette turned her head to look at Luka. “Hm?”

 

‘What are you sketching?’

 

“Uh....can you repeat?” Marinette asked awkwardly.

 

Luka signed the sentence again, but this time using more false sign language.

 

“What am I drawing?”

 

Luka nodded.

 

“Oh! Um, I’m just sketching out outfit designs. I’m in school for fashion design. It’s also my hobby so I sketch for fun.” Marinette explained.

 

Luka nodded with a kind smile. He gave a thumbs up, then picked his guitar back up.

 

••

 

“What are you.” Marinette repeated verbally as she copied Luka’s signs of the phrase.

 

Luka nodded.

 

“What is that.” Marinette said as she signed the phrase. “Um, I’m trying to think of other basic phrases...”

 

Luka turned to Adrien, signing something.”

 

“He says he has to get back home to his sister, her girlfriend is out of town and she’s wheelchair bound so he wants to make sure she’s doing alright without her girlfriend. Then he says me and Alix could teach you sign language.”

 

“Yeah I’d be down for that.” Alix nodded.

 

“Oh! O-Okay.” Marinette smiled. ‘Man I should have thought of that before.’

 

_____________

••••        ••••

——————

 

“Girl, that dress is so cute!” Alya cheered. She was referring to a dress with a candy cane theme that was current set up on a mannequin. “You got a Christmas party or something?”

 

“No, I just like designing Christmas outfits. I put them for sale in my shop. Well I mean technically my class is having a Christmas party tomorrow before we break for the winter, but I’m not going. Tomorrow is December tenth, my parents are holding their gingerbread event that day, and that’s when the party is. I guess technically I am wearing a Christmas outfit to help them out but...same thing! I’m not going to that party.” Marinette shrugged.

 

“Hm.” Alya sad with a short nod. “Have you considered inviting a certain frosty the snowman to hang out with there?”

 

“Frosty the—Oh, you mean Adrien. Um...not exactly...” Marinette shrugged. “I mean later today we’re going to walk along Main Street to look at the Christmas decorations.”

 

“How many dates have you had with this man?”

 

Marinette scoffed. “None. He’s just a friend, Alya.”

 

As Marinette finished her sentence, Alya began going, “no no no no no no no no no no. No, no girl. No. That’s how you were over Felix, and you clearly liked him more than that.”

 

“Well Felix didn’t like me. Or uh, he didn’t respect me. That was it. He seemed so sweet until I learned his disrespect for boundaries. Ugh.” Marinette shuddered. “I heard he’s a much better person now though. But I’m just not interested in him anymore. I don’t know nor care what he’s up to these days.”

 

“Ah. Yeah. He’s a counselor for troubled kids I think.” Alya shrugged.

 

“La la la. Don’t care.” Marinette sighed. “Adrien is really just a friend. Yes, he’s attractive. Yes, he’s like the most angelic human being I’ve ever met and yes I favor the moments I spend with him over most others but that doesn’t mean we have anything special beyond a friendship.”

 

Alya facepalmed. “You do realize you just explained all the reasons that you’re more than friends, right?”

 

“Alya! You promised you wouldn’t do this.” Marinette huffed, crossing her arms across her chest.

 

“I’m not, girl. You’re doing it to yourself.”

 

“Shut up.” Marinette sighed. Maybe what Alya said had a little bit of truth to it. She was just going to do what she did best. Ignore it.

 

_____________

••••        ••••

——————

 

“My father never cared much for Christmas.” Adrien commented as he and Marinette took in the sights of garland, Christmas trees, and other Christmas decorations strung along the front and sides of street shops.

 

“That is so sucky. Did you guys celebrate at all?”

 

“He set me up for a lot of Christmas modeling shoots. That’s about it. My mom really liked Christmas, but she wasn’t big on decorations.” Adrien shrugged. “I’m surprised Alix is trusting us enough to to walk without her while she chats with Nathaniel at Noelle creations at the start of the street.” He commented.

 

“Yeah. I mean she does amazing with you. I’m not trained in dealing with emotional and mental things.”

 

“But you do a great job anyways, Princess. It’s just human nature to know at least a little bit.”

 

“Why Princess?” Marinette questioned. “I-I love that name actually don’t get me wrong...” Marinette added with a blush.

 

“Because you look like a Princess. And it’s a role of authority associated with grace. I feel like that fits you.”

 

“Me?” Marinette squeaked. “I am like the least graceful person alive. Or at least I used to be.

 

“Well, it’s not true anymore. But I guess you’re more like a knight with me. You are definitely my savior.”

 

Marinette swallowed a gasp, then shook out her head. “What? But what about Luka? And Alix? You and Luka seem pretty close.”

 

“They’re great. Especially Luka. He is an angel I think.” Adrien began. “But there’s just... a certain... presence in my life that I was missing that you just... fill. I don’t know what it is but, I feel like we were meant to meet.”

 

“Same.” Marinette answered quickly. “Thanks for coming into my life,” Marinette moved her hands up, sighing ‘Blanc.’ “Adrien is a lot of letters so uh, I-I just do Blanc instead. I hope that’s okay...”

 

“I love that.” Adrien smiled. “I am Chat Blanc.”

 

••

 

After strolling all the way down to the end of the street, the two began to make their way back. Though not long after they began their journey back, raindrops began to come down from the sky.

 

“Shit! I didn’t know it was supposed to rain today.” Marinette sighed. “I know you don’t have an umbrella, I don’t either.”

 

The rain started coming down slightly harder. Marinette and Adrien watched as people pulled out umbrellas, while they were part of the very small population on the street of those without umbrellas to shield from the earth’s shower. Rain then began to pour even harder.

 

Adrien shuddered, then sneezed. He hugged himself tightly. “I hate rain.”

 

Marinette looked over at Adrien, gasping silently. She had forgotten how much white clothes would cling to skin when soaking wet. Adrien wore exclusively white, leading most of his shirt and sweater to be practically transparent.

 

Okay Marinette, don’t focus on the fact that he very clearly has ripped abs. Don’t focus on that.

 

“Do you want my coat?” Marinette offered. “It’s one of those purposely over-sized ones. It could at least work as a cover up.” After finishing her sentence, Marinette realized Adrien was looking directly at something. Not only was he looking directly at something, but he was looking directly at something fearfully. Marinette turned around, the object of Adrien’s fear automatically striking her. It wasn’t just a thing he was looking at, but a person. A very specific person. A very specific person in which she never thought she would ever cross paths with again in her life ever. Lila Rossi.

 

Lila had a very fixated gaze on Adrien, more specifically his practically entirely exposed torso. She slowly strolled closer and closer until she was placed directly in front of Adrien.

 

“Hi! I’ve never seen you around here before. What’s your name?” Her sickly sweet voice inquired. Lila moved up one of her hands, lightly placing a finger against Adrien’s soaked chest.

 

Marinette stepped in front of Adrien, causing Lila to retreat her hand and take a few steps back.

 

“Oh my gosh!” Lila gasped. “Marinette? Marinette Dupain-Chang? Is that you? Oh it’s been fore-“

 

“Can it fox face. You’re a bitchy liar and you know that you attempted to make my life hell. I was weak and helpless and ended up in a mental hospital because of you. Now I’m not scared of you, and I will literally pound your face into the concrete if you don’t cease from this location this very instant.”

 

Lila’s cheery facade dropped into a narrow-eyes scowl. “Ugh. Of course I see a sweet looking guy who has you as a guard dog.”

 

“You only came over here because he’s wearing all white and rain isn’t kind to that. I saw your eyes bitch I’m not blind. If you even attempt to lay another claw on him I will call the police for harassment. Go check yourself into a mental hospital because you are fucked up.” Marinette snatched Lila’s umbrella with one hand, taking Adrien’s in her other. She gently pulled him away, ignoring Lila’s protests as she and Adrien continued forward along the street. Marinette handed the umbrella to Adrien, stopped, slipped off her coat, then stood up on her toes as tall she could, slipped her coat around Adrien’s shoulders, then continued walking.

 

There was about a two minute silence.

 

“Princess, it’s freezing. You need a—“ he broke his sentence to sneeze. “You need a coat.”

 

Marinette stopped, both her and Adrien lipping under the awning of the closet shop to their current location.

 

“Are... are you okay, Adrien? I was so angry and intent on getting out of their that I forgot to ask... I-I swear to god if she  would have went further I would have ripped of her fucking head!” Marinette was shaking with anger.

 

“I-I’m fine.” Adrien answered. “I mean a little b-bit shaken up...but I’m good...she drove you into depression? You had to go to a mental hospital because of her?” Adrien sneezed again after finishing his sentence.

 

“Yeah, yeah but this isn’t about me. She tormented me when I was younger but I good now. I’m not scared of her anymore. She should be scared of me.” She paused. “Fuck! I-I told her to go to a mental hospital a-and you-you /live/ in a mental hospital oh my fucking god—“

 

“Marinette.”

 

“That was so insensitive.” Marinette continued to ramble. “I really should have considered my wording and fuck I did mention that and make things about me—“

 

Adrien gently grabbed Marinette’s wrists, causing her to stop speaking and look up at him.

 

“It’s okay.” Adrien blinked tears from his eyes. “People like her to belong in mental hospitals. You weren’t being insensitive, and you didn’t mean it as a thoughtless insult. And you were putting her in her place. A-Alix wouldn’t have even replied she would have just had us walk away... but you stood up to her... a-and this girl...she hurt you...” his last few words had a growl tucked in with them. He took a deep breath. “I’m not violent. I’m not violent anymore. Hurting that girl is unnecessary.” Adrien reminded himself aloud.

 

“O-Oh yeah noooo... please don’t hurt anyone. She’s just a bitch. You would only need to do that if she didn’t stop touching you. Which she did thankfully—“

 

“Because of you, Princess. You are...so brave. I-I mean she’s not the only one to—“

 

“Shh. I don’t need to hear what else you have to say. Just relax. Let’s go find Alix. Are you allowed to have hot chocolate?”

 

Adrien nodded. “I love hot chocolate.”

 

“Then let’s get back to your place, get some made, and dry off. Okay?”

 

“Sounds like a plan.” Adrien whispered with a soft smile.

 

“Adrien! Marinette! Oh my god there you are.” Alix ran up to the two, holding up two umbrellas. “Where did you get that?”

 

“This umbrella?” Adrien asked, turning the face Alix. He dropped Marinette’s wrists form his hands, then re-stabled his grip on the umbrella in his hand.

 

“S-Someone let me have it!” Marinette answered. “They saw we were soaking and had an extra.”

 

“Oh, well that’s nice.” Alix eyed Adrien again. “Fuck, I forgot about the all white thing. Oh god Marinette you must be freezing let’s get back.”

 

“I’m gonna join you! We should make hot chocolate to warm up and dry off.” Marinette smiled. “I’ve got extra clothes in the bag I left at the check in counter.”

 

“Sounds like a plan.” Alix said with a nod. “Adrien loves hot chocolate. Was that your suggestion?”

 

“Yep!” Marinette confirmed. “I love hot chocolate.”

 

“You two just keep getting more and more alike.”

 

“Eh.” Marinette and Adrien replied in unison.

 

Alix laughed.

 

_____________

••••        ••••

——————

 

Marinette and Adrien were each about to place themselves at their stations, then both turned to each other.

 

“Want to switch stations today?” They asked in unison.

 

They both nodded with a laugh, than did so.

 

“It’s the fourteenth and this shop stops being open from the twentieth to the twenty eighth. Though Nath might be willing to let us in for a bit.” Alix informed while she walked up to the two.

 

“Okay.” Marinette replied verbally as Adrien nodded.

 

“Wait—“ Alix began. “Did you two swap stations, or is it just my busted lazy eye screwing with me?”

 

“No, we did switch.” Marinette confirmed. “We were both just sorta thinking it.”

 

“Alright. But be warned Mari, lots of black, white, and blue lies at the corner station.”

 

Marinette gave a laugh in reply to this statement.

 

“Uh, thanks for the tip?”

 

••

 

There were a few few other colors, but it was mainly different shades of black, white, and blue, and different varieties of artistic supplies atoning to each. She had white and blue at her station, but they were plain watercolors. This station had those color with crystals and other sorts of textures in the paints.

 

She had managed to start up something she was rather proud of. It was a knee up portrait of Adrien with blue, blue, and a hint of pink paint spilling down onto him. The textured paints helped with the background meant to represent no where in particular. A small bit of the textured black paint was drawn to have landed in his palm, and and a small white textured butterfly emerged from the pile. Marinette smiled at her masterpiece, then carefully removed it from the easel as not to damage the paint, or let Adrien see it. She gave it to Nathaniel, explained she intended for it being a gift and did not want Adrien to see it, as well as a brief description of her plans to swing by and pick it up, then returned to her seat.

 

“The Princess up to something?” Adrien teased calmly.

 

“Oh nothing. Let’s just hope you’re not nosy.”

 

“I I certainly am intrigued M’lady—...” He abruptly cut himself off.

 

“Are you okay?” Marinette asked, temporarily pushing her holiness to the side in favor of concern.

 

“I...Didn’t think I was ever going to call anyone else that...” He whispered, hardly even seeming aware he was speaking to another specimen.

 

“What?” Marinette questioned. “You...called someone that before?—I-I mean never mind! Don’t answer me!” The raven squeaked nervously.

 

“It um...I guess it does suit you. M’lady. Platonic.”

 

“Yeah.” Marinette smiled with a giggle. “And I guess you’re my kitty? Platonically?”

 

“Yes.” He smiled at her. “Always will be.”

 

 

_____________

••••        ••••

——————

 

“Girl, it’s five days till Christmas if you’re gonna give him a gift then do it.” Alya sighed. Marinette was currently pacing around her room.

 

“But there are so many options! I already painted him something—“

 

“Then why can’t the gift just be that?”

 

“Because I want to do something else! Something that will mean more because I’ve given him two other paintings something that really comes from the essence of who I am!” Marinette exclaimed.

 

“Why not sew him something? And maybe it isn’t white. To represent the splash of color you’ve been in his life or something.” Alya spitballed.

 

Marinette let out a gasp so loud it had started Alya, resulting in her just barely saving herself a fall from her chair to the floor.

 

“ALYA THAT’S A GREAT IDEA!” Marinette exclaimed extremely, /extremely/ loudly. Alya’s glare in return was far from amused.

 

“S-Sorry!” Marinette squeaked. “I just got excited. Ooooo! I could do scarf! Just an accessory so things aren’t changed up too much. It can be blue! Ahhhh, I heard he has a good amount of blue in his house...”

 

“What about pink?”

 

Marinette blinked. “What?”

 

“Pink. It’s your color. /You’re/ the splash of color, right?”

 

“I-I guess so.” Marinette replied with a blush.

 

“Then make it represent you. Maybe a bit of blue, idk girl.”

 

“It’s okay thank you so much Alya!” Marinette cheered. “I hope he’ll like it. I want to make something that will mean a lot to him.”

 

“I know it will. I mean anything you do for him will. He cares a lot for you.”

 

“That he does.” Marinette spoke the words casually, but the realization they were extremely true struck her right in the heart, in a good way.

 

_____________

••••        ••••

——————

 

Marinette held up the silky pink pink scarf in front of her, smiling happily. She turned her head to look at her phone which lay on the desk upon getting a message notification.

 

——

 

‘Tikki (from class)’

 

‘Marry almost Christmas Mari! How have your pre Christmas days been treating you?’

 

——

 

Tikki. Marinette smiled. Tikki was another student in her design classes. She was double majoring in fashion and counseling, two very, very different industries. But Tikki had so many talents, it would be a crime to not let her express as many as possible for a profession. Marinette didn’t talk with Tikki very often, but they did always tend to sit next to each other, and would choose each other if a partner was needed. The two had only had text conversations around 5 times since they exchanged phone numbers 3 months ago, but neither was putting pressure on nor feeing pressure by the other to increase that number.

 

——

 

‘Marinette’

 

‘Pretty good! Just finished a Christmas gift for one of my friends.’

 

——

 

‘Tikki (from class)’

 

‘Awww! That’s so sweet! Homemade! Is it something you sewed?’

 

——

 

‘Marinette’

 

‘Yeah! It’s a pink scarf! I think he’ll like it: :)’

 

——

 

‘Tikki’ (from class)’

 

‘Oooo! That’s exciting! Who is it? Someone in class?’

 

——

 

‘Marinette’

 

Nah, someone outside of class. He’s in one of my painting/art class/studio that I go to. We’ve become pretty good friends! One time when we were strolling along main street Lila Rossi started hitting on him and I about chew her head off.’

 

——

 

One of the things that Marinette thought was interesting was that Tikki had met Lila as well. Apparently she had attended the same highschool as Marinette, but Marinette didn’t recall seeing her. Though Tikki proved herself with yearbooks and knowing others that had attended. Lila attempted to befriend Tikki, but turned into queen bitch once Tikki made it clear Lila wasn’t fooling her.

 

——

 

‘Tikki (from class)’

 

‘UGH. I HATE THAT SKAAAAANKKKK.’

 

——

 

‘Tikki (from class)’

 

‘That girl is fucking disgusting. I am so glad that you did that lol. I know your friend will adore your gift! I gotta go now, ttyl!’

 

——

 

Marinette smiled. She typed up a quick response, then set her phone to the side.

 

 

 

_____________

••••        ••••

——————