If Adrien Agreste had been told that he'd be in this position 24 hours ago, he might have called that person crazy, maybe even demented. Because the implications of something so farfetched actually coming to pass would have terrified him.
Of course, as usual, hindsight was always 20/20, wasn't it?
After everything that had happened, though, he really should have expected this. He should have anticipated that the last 24 hours were leading to something like this; showing up to a photoshoot and finding her there. And of course, she had the audacity to turn in her chair and smile at him like nothing was wrong. Like nothing had happened. Like she hadn't nearly been the root cause of the largest akumatization event since Hero's Day.
Nope. Here she was, drinking in the attention of the photographer and stylists like she'd invented the art of modeling despite her own confirmation of inexperience.
But frankly, that was probably for the best. It saved him the trouble of tracking her down later and telling her what he needed to say.
Dropping into his own seat after asking for a moment alone with the woman, he found himself struggling to maintain the cool aloofness he'd perfected over the years. Not this time.
She'd done far too much damage, and there was no way he was going to pretend she hadn't.
“I warned you once already Lila, but you didn’t listen.” Adrien glared straight ahead at the water of the Seine, his voice dropping in a warning tone, refusing to look at his female companion as his anger seethed and boiled just under his skin.
He was pissed.
No, pissed was too pedestrian to even come close to describing how truly livid he was with Lila Rossi.
The girl he’d given far too many chances to turn her sorry attitude around.
It wasn’t even fair to say that he was angry at just her, either. Though, he did direct ninety percent of his current wrath towards her in his current goals of vengeance and retribution. There would be plenty of time for self-loathing later.
Out of the corner of his eye, he’d seen her shift to look at him, an expression of surprise at his overall demeanor. It was rare for anyone to see him this angry, afterall.
But before she had a chance to speak, he continued, “You hurt Marinette, and that’s not okay,” He all but hissed, remembering in vivid detail the events of the previous twenty-four hours.
Marinette had been expelled from school, reputation smeared by accusations set forth by the very person he was now sitting next to.
The worst part was, even when he had stepped up to vouch for his friend, he’d been ignored. The ‘evidence’ having been too damning in the principals’ eyes. And while he was beyond certain Lila was responsible, there was no evidence to prove it. She’d covered her tracks well. And with everything stacking up against Marinette, it was their word against Lila’s.
“Me?” She put an indignant hand on her chest, her voice rising an octave as defensiveness entered her pitch at his accusation, “Hurting Marinette? But she’s the one-!”
A soft growl escaped him, his lips twitching up as he forced the need to snarl at her back as he finally faced her, cutting her off before she could lie to him again, “I don’t know how to prove you lied, Lila, because you’re good at it ,” He added a little extra bite to the words, furious that he was forced to acknowledge that she’d won this round, “So you’ll have to come up with another lie. Just as convincing. Only this time, it’s going to prove Marinette’s innocent.”
There was a caustic silence that stretched between them as she stared at him, still feigning her shock at being called out. But he wasn’t having it. He wouldn’t fall prey to her lies any longer. And no amount of crocodile tears could dissuade him.
Something she seemed to catch on to rather quickly as her facade melted from her features as she narrowed her eyes on him dangerously before turning to face forward, mimicking his stance earlier. Her mask had completely slipped now that she’d been exposed.
A regular she-wolf in sheep’s clothing.
The tiniest hint of a grin pulled at the corner of her lips as she glared ahead, her voice dropping as his had, “Why would I do that Adrien?”
What’s in it for me?
He could read between the lines.
She’d already won. She’d driven one of the kindest most reliable and trustworthy people he’d ever met out of their school in the blink of an eye. And it wasn’t wasted on him that she could do so much more.
Even if they did prove Marinette’s innocence, there was no telling when Lila would strike next.
She was more than just a threat. And she would destroy anyone in her way. She’d proven that she was more than capable in a ridiculously short amount of time.
She had all the cards. All the pawns lined up begging for her favor.
All, except the one she really wanted.
He’d admit to being a little socially slow, but he wasn’t so oblivious to the signs to not know she was still trying to win his favor despite the fact that he’d called her out before. She was sitting next to him at a closed photoshoot for fucks sake. He wasn’t stupid to the fact that she quite literally threw herself on him every chance she got - whether to make herself look better or try and win his affections, he wasn’t sure (nor did he really care to know).
She wanted him .
And he knew this was his only chance. His only leverage.
He had to give her exactly what she wanted.
He turned back to stare at the water, frown never leaving his lips, “Because we’re friends , aren’t we?” He voiced back, matching her tone.
The offer was on the table. An unspoken arrangement between opposing forces.
The seconds ticked by as she considered his offer. And he tried so hard to ignore the shift when Lila’s grin pulled up further as she claimed complete and utter victory.
He hated it. He hated how much power she had. He hated how much he’d allowed her to get away with in the name of pacifism. He hated how much Marinette had been made to suffer because of this power-crazed viper. He hated that he had to lose to her.
But in this twisted game she was playing, in order to win, he had no choice but to lose.
He could practically feel the triumphant smile in her voice as she spoke up, solidifying his fate.