Adrien is definitely a stranger to ‘normal.’
His idea of school comes from movies and anime — which yes, he takes with so many grains of salt — so he’s not exactly prepared. But he’s good at rolling with the punches.
Currently, the punches are the growing pile of things on Nathanael’s desk. Each student that enters the room stops by Nathanael’s seat to drop off a card or a small bag or, in Alix’s case, a handful of pen nibs she shapes into a little pyramid.
Adrien is silently flipping between not understanding and panicking over not having anything to add. Even Chloé hands Sabrina a card to set down, and that’s how Adrien knows he’s really missing something.
It’s a relief when Alya leans forward and whispers, “I think I missed a memo.”
Adrien nods. “Me too.”
Alya cranes her neck. “One of those is definitely a birthday card.”
He sinks lower into his seat. “Now I feel like a terrible person.”
“In our defense, no one told us.”
“No one told you what?” Nino asks as he walks into the classroom. He fishes a card and small box out of his bag.
Alya and Adrien both look pointedly at the card.
Nino glances down at the gifts in his hands and then to Nathanael’s desk. “Oh. Oh , no one told you?”
Alya crosses her arms. “Yeah, didn’t come up in the group chat.”
Nino rubs the back of his neck. “Sorry, dudes, I forgot you're new. We never really grew out of class birthday celebrations from when we were little. It’s not super planned or anything, we’ve just never stopped.” Nino digs out a pen. “Here, you can sign my card if you want. I’m sure Nath won’t mind.”
Alya huffs. “Okay, but I want a list of birthdays in my inbox by tomorrow.”
Adrien signs next to Nino’s name. Nino left a note, but it’s been exactly nine days since Adrien met Nathanael, and they haven’t spoken outside of class. So Adrien doesn’t have anything to add other than ‘Happy Birthday!’
“I’ll have to bring something tomorrow,” he says as he hands the card to Alya.
“What? My present not good enough?” Nino asks with a grin. “I promise it’s totally worth the eight euros I spent.”
“Classy,” she mutters as she opens the card.
“Not late!” Marinette announces as she enters the room. “Not late and the gift survived.” She holds up a box decorated with pink details and a bow.
“Congrats on doing the bare minimum,” Chloé sneers.
Marinette makes a face at her and goes to Nathanael’s desk.
“Oh, here, bro,” Nino says. He tosses her the small box. “Al, can you pass the card back when you’re done?”
Alya flaps her free hand at Nino. Adrien has no idea what she’s writing, or how she has so much to say.
“What did you bring, Marinette?” he asks.
Marinette looks up from the cards. “W-what?”
“She always brings a bakery treat,” Nino says. “And they always rock.”
Marinette ducks her head. “They’re not as good as my parents’ or anything.”
Nino rolls his eyes. “Don’t believe her.”
Adrien grins. “That’s so cool, you’re so cool, Marinette.”
Marinette turns bright red and turns to her backpack.
Alya taps Adrien’s shoulder. “So, we’re definitely going to get Nathanael a joint birthday present to make up for not knowing, right?”
He nods firmly. This is what friends do, and his number of friends is suddenly in double digits. He has to get better at stuff like this. “Absolutely.”
“Wanna grab fries after this?” Alix asks.
Alya tears her eyes away from the scene in front of her. “What?” she asks, eyes flitting between Alix and her screen to make sure the action is still happening in frame.
Alix shrugs. “I want fries.”
“I’d like fries,” Max says. He elbows Kim, who’s intently watching the akuma fight. “You?”
“Yeah, yeah.” Kim winces as Ladybug goes flying.
Alya’s attention snaps back to the fight. Chat Noir yelps and dives out of the way of a laser beam. She wonders if she can get closer. Right now, they’re behind a dumpster and her angle isn’t great. The smell’s not too hot either.
Alix snorts. “I bet I can fit more fries in my mouth than you.”
That’ll do it, Alya thinks as Ladybug calls on Lucky Charm.
Kim holds his hand out to her. “You’re on.”
It turns out Alix can fit more fries in her mouth, and Kim buys her a milkshake.
“This was fun,” Max says as Kim grumbles. “We should do this again.”
Alya waves a hand. “I’m good, I don’t need to see Kim gagging on fries again.”
“I meant hanging out after an akuma,” Max clarifies.
Alix slurps her shake. “Yeah, it’s nice to cool down. Same place, same time?”
After the next akuma, Alya brings Nino and finds Alix in a corner booth with Juleka and Rose. There are no gross dares this time, just way too many fries and the horrifying realization that Nino likes his with vinegar. As Rose excitedly recounts how Chat saved her from falling into the Seine, Alya updates the Ladyblog with fresh pictures.
“Same place next time, if you’re in the area?” Alya asks as they clean up.
It becomes tradition— if there’s an akuma, anyone nearby will show up to the corner booth. The number fluctuates, but whenever Alya is there, someone else shows up to hang out with her. Anyone who was hit by the akumas powers recuperates and the others foot the bill.
Mylène collects coupons and passes them out whenever one is valid, and they become regular enough that most of the staff recognize them. Even Chloé takes part, sitting with Sabrina at a table a few feet away from the booth. She makes snarky comments, but she always accepts Mylène’s coupons and slides them to Sabrina, and buys too many fries after particularly bad attacks.
“You should come,” Alya says to Marinette after a lunchtime akuma.
They still went to get food, but were late coming back. Madame Bustier had given the group a harsh look when they entered the classroom, since clearly some people managed to get back in time despite the akuma.
“It’s fun, I promise,” Alya insists, thinking about how Max had made Ivan laugh and snort soda out his nose. Chloé shrieked and almost fell out of the booth, and Alya was just sad she didn’t catch it on video.
“Go where?” Marinette asks as Madame Bustier starts passing around a handout.
“To get food with us after akumas! Come on, girl, I’ve tried to get you there a million times.” Alya takes the papers from Nino, bops him on the top of the head with them, takes two, and passes the rest back. “You and Adrien are the only two who haven’t been, get involved!”
“I am involved! I’m class president!”
“And yet… ”
Marinette rolls her eyes. “Next time, maybe. Though I don’t need any help being late to class.”
“Chat Noir! Hey!”
Chat skids to a stop, almost falling off the roof before catching his balance, and turns around. He leaps back a roof and down to a lamppost above Max and Nathanael. Chat gives them a salute. “How can I help?”
Nathanael turns bright red and Max elbows him. Nathanael stumbles over his words, “Could you, uh, do the— the kitty paw thing?”
Chat blinks slowly. “The…kitty paw thing?”
Max looks pointedly at Nathanael, who has somehow gotten redder. “You know,” he mumbles and Chat isn’t sure if he’d be able to make out Nathanael’s words if he didn’t have superhearing. “Like… nyah .” Nathanael flicks his wrist downwards beside his head, mimicking claws.
Chat almost falls off the lamppost.
He’s still trying to control his laughter when Nathanael mutters, “Cool, a superhero is cry laughing at me. Super cool.”
Chat wipes his eyes and swallows another giggle. “Why do you want me to do this again?”
“Scavenger hunt,” Max says, and Chat remembers that most of the class were having a picnic at the park. He’s been at a photoshoot for most of the day and only slipped away during lunch for a quick patrol. Thinking about the picnic makes his heart sink a little. “We have to get a superhero to recreate a meme,” Max continues. He holds up his phone. “So…will you do it so Nathanael didn’t embarrass himself for nothing?”
“ Obviously I’ll do it.” Chat holds the pose as Max takes a few pictures and Nathanael looks like he wants to melt into the street. “How do I look?”
“Like a meme,” Nathanael sighs.
“Are you okay with this going up on social media?” Max asks. “Because it probably will.
“There are way more embarrassing pictures of me online.” Chat grimaces as he thinks of all the mid-akuma pictures there are of him. He doesn’t have a great battle face, but who can look good while getting punted off the Eiffel Tower? “Go for it.”
Nathanael rubs the back of his neck. “Sorry if more people ask you to do weird stuff.”
“Or Ladybug,” Max adds.
Chat snorts. “Good luck to anyone trying to get Ladybug to play along.”
It doesn’t take long for the picture to go viral, and random people start shouting, “Nyah!” when they see him. Chat thinks it’s hilarious and joins in on the trend of selfies with the nyah paw. Ladybug, on the other hand, does not appreciate it.
“You are the worst person I’ve ever met and your very existence takes years off my life,” Ladybug says to him after Alix and Rose shout, “Y’know, nyah!” at them during a patrol.
Chat presses a hand to his chest. “You wound me, bug.”
“This is all my life is now!”
“Maybe they’ll stop it if you do it for once,” he says. He turns to Rose and Alix and does the pawing motion.
Alix pumps her fists in the air and Rose claps. Ladybug sinks to a squat and covers her head with her arms.
“I don’t know you,” she grumbles. “We have never met.”
“What’s up?” Alya asks as she takes her seat next to Marinette, who is currently surrounded by a mess of art supplies. “It looks like an art room threw up in here.”
Marinette blows her bangs out of her eyes. “Ivan’s out again, Mylène just told me when she came in.”
Alya looks over to Mylène’s desk— she’s also bent over a piece of paper. “Yikes, is he okay? What does he have?”
“Some sort of stomach bug.” Marinette chews on her bottom lip. “Which green for this?” she points to a cluster of music notes.
“Uh…” Alya chooses a colored pencil at random. “This one?”
“Hm…” Marinette chooses purple instead.
“Glad you liked my input.”
She flaps her free hand at Alya. “Do you need a piece of paper?”
Alya takes off her bag. “For..?”
Marinette blinks at her. “Ivan’s card?” They stare at each other for a moment before Marinette’s eyes go wide. “Oh! Have we really not done this yet?”
Alya shrugs. “I don’t know what we’re doing.”
“Right! Right, so we started doing this…a few years ago?” Marinette opens her sketchbook and carefully pulls out a piece of paper, somehow keeping the tear relatively straight. “Sabrina got really sick and was out for a couple weeks, and after I think two, we all made her cards to be sent home with her schoolwork.” She slides Alya the paper. “We do it for anyone sick for more than three days. It makes getting a giant stack of makeup work less terrible.”
Alya folds the paper in half and picks up an orange marker. ”Sounds nice.”
Marinette grins. “And now if you’re ever really sick, you’ll have something to look forward to.”
At her old school, she’d get ‘feel better!’ texts from friends, but never cards . And she was never close with the majority of her classmates. She had her little group that stuck together, but this class seems different. Maybe it’s because their lives are casually in danger multiple days of the week and they’ve bonded through trauma, or it’s just the right combination of people at the right time.
“Alya?” Nino waves a hand in front of Alya’s face and she jerks back, elbowing the back of the seat. “Sorry, dude,” he apologizes. “You were zoning.”
Alya grimaces. “It’s fine, I was just thinking.”
Nino taps the brim of his hat. “I get it. Hey, Nette, could I steal some paper?”
Alya focuses on her card, determined to get it done before class starts. When Adrien comes in, she hears Nino explaining and Marinette tears out yet another sketchbook page. Alya signs her card with a flourish and proudly adds it to the growing pile.
It’s after three in the morning when Marinette sends a spreadsheet to the announcements channel in the class Discord server.
macaron danish-croquembouche: Editing privileges are ON and if any of you mess with other peoples entries Ill personally kick you from this server
As Adrien opens the sheet in another tab, Chloé sends a few rapid messages in the general chat.
i look too good to be here: unjust use of power
i look too good to be here: impeach her
Adrien rolls his eyes and goes back to the spreadsheet. He can see a few of his classmates on it, two people are typing their names next to a list of food. Someone else is adding ‘popcorn’ to the list.
Adrien is all for food, but he has no idea what this is for. Hoping for an explanation, he pulls the server to the front of his screen. Chloé and Kim are arguing over impeachment, while Juleka and Rose send random emojis. It occurs to him that they all should be asleep, seeing that it’s a school night.
Adrien clicks over to the second general channel, which they made precisely for situations like this, and sends a question to Marinette:
walk walk fashion baby: @macaron danish-croquembouche what are we signing up for?
Alya immediately reacts with the repeat emoji.
2 hour essay squad: rt adrien i dont kno whats going on
macaron danish-croquembouche: Finals stuff!!! Top of the sheet is night before (cram sesh), middle is for breakfast day one (stress eating or stress not eating), bottom is for post finals pizza party!!!
macaron danish-croquembouche: You dont have to come to everything, but everyone is welcome to all of them for however long they want to stay :)
Adrien feels a little silly that the very concept of class study sessions makes butterflies flutter in his chest, especially since he’s had all year to get used to the concept of friends . But it does.
2 hour essay squad: !!! neat!!! ill ask my mom if she can make some food
macaron danish-croquembouche: That would be awesome! But she doesnt have to go overboard this is a group effort
Adrien bites back a smile and adds his name next to ‘Cookies (Others).’
It’s been four hours and Alya thinks she’s going to cry.
“Is any of this helping?” Adrien asks. He’s standing in front of the group with a dry erase marker in one hand and their physics textbook in the other. There’s a long moment of silence and then Adrien puffs up his cheeks and turns back to his whiteboard. “Okay…how about this?”
Alya rolls over onto her back as he wipes the last problem away. She pokes Marinette’s leg with her foot. “Pass me the pretzels.”
The class is sprawled out on the floor of an event hall in Le Grande Paris. Alya had been surprised that Chloé had offered up the hotel for the last, panicked study session, but Marinette said she always let them use the hotel for the cram session. Chloé never offered , but if asked, she would give in with little resistance.
Adrien has been trying to explain springs to most of the class for about twenty-five minutes while Max helps Juleka, who missed a couple classes and is hopelessly confused, on the side of the room.
Alya had been there and she’s confused.
“Do you feel like you’re learning anything?” she asks no one in particular as she takes the pretzels from Marinette.
Mylène lifts her head from Ivan’s shoulder. “I feel a little better about history.”
Alix makes a so-so motion with her hand.
“If I fail, I fail,” Nathanael says. “I’m going to be a starving artist no matter what.”
Chloé rolls her eyes dramatically. “What ever , who cares about grades anyway?” She studies her nails, but Alya saw how much she was concentrating on Adrien’s explanation.
“Okay,” Adrien says, stepping away from the whiteboard. He’s set up a problem Alya remembers from the homework. “Let’s try this one.”
Adrien carefully makes his way back to his spot on Marinette’s couch. He’s impressed that the entire class managed to fit themselves and an absurd amount of pizza and popcorn in her living room, but it means they’re all on top of each other.
He hands Nino his cup. “A lemonade for you.”
Nino grins. “Thanks, dude.”
Adrien makes himself comfortable against Nino’s side again. “Did I miss much?”
“Just some action, nothing plot-relevant.”
Adrien nods and tunes back into the movie. They’re on their third and all the fights are starting to blur.
The villain starts monologuing. Everyone groans.
“Boo!” Alix shouts, throwing popcorn at the screen.
Juleka wrinkles her nose. “He thinks he’s so cool.”
Ivan reaches for some popcorn, but Sabrina pulls the bowl away. “Make your own! I’m almost out!” she says as Rose offers Ivan hers instead.
It’s so weird that Adrien has people he hangs out with. That he has traditions with, like end of the year movie marathons. If he thinks about it too hard, he starts to tear up, so he tries not to.
Alya looks to him, eyebrows furrowed. “You good?”
Adrien nods. “Tired.” It’s true, getting through finals was a herculean task with modeling and superhero-ing.
“I can’t believe the school year’s already over,” she says softly, reading his mind.
It feels like there’s something in his throat. “I know.”
She squeezes his hand. “Next year, we’ll be in the know for all the class traditions.”
Adrien returns his smile. He’s happy it’s summer, but he can’t wait to spend most of his days locked in a room with his friends again. “I can’t wait.”