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Hot Chocolate

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Marinette wasn’t sure how she strung the words together into a coherent enough sentence to convince Luka to take a walk with her on a lightly snowing afternoon, cruising for a little café to find some hot chocolate together. He probably understood most of what she’d been trying to say (or ramble, more likely) since they’d been friends for years.

Actually now that she thought about it, it probably hadn’t been coherent at all, but Luka came along anyway because they were friends.

Friends. Close friends? Close enough that she loved his company with his generally good natured chillness and kissing his face with little bises in thanks.

They’d always been comfortable with casual intimacy like that. She always felt so… warm and comfortable with him near. That must have been the reason she was so panicked when she heard from him that he’d be leaving a few days after Christmas to tour with the one and only Jagged Stone as lead guitarist at age 19. It was huge for him, Marinette knew that. But to face that sudden dearth of his presence made her uneasy, to say the least.

It had gotten to the point where she forgot about making a Christmas gift for Adrien. She’d just repurpose one of her many Adrien Birthday gifts, so that wasn’t too bad. But she wanted to make something important for Luka. Something that would hopefully show him just how much he meant to Marinette. And maybe it’d be something for him to remember her by.

She had been up all night working on Luka’s Present. Well, she’d been up late a couple of nights working on it. She maybe had about 8 hours of sleep in the past 3-4 days.

Kitty Section had wanted to throw one last hurrah for Luka “moving up in the world”, and along with it a mini-concert for Christmas and New Year’s for their closest friends. Marinette had shown up late to the Liberty and nearly fell overboard crossing the gangplank but Luka had sprinted forward and caught her.

She blamed her unsteadiness for holding onto him the next couple of minutes after that. He kept an arm around her shoulder and they’d been just fine. She was warm. She was comfortable. The GirlSquad™️ that were present gave her looks. Marinette pretended that she didn’t notice.

As it turned out the Liberty had run out of coffee. Marinette had rambled on that she preferred hot chocolate anyway and that she’d go out and get some while Kitty Section was just setting up. At least, that had been what she was trying to say, but it turned out she’d said something else that convinced Luka that he’d have to accompany her.

Or maybe it was because she was still a little wobbly. So she held onto his arm on their walk to find some hot chocolate. Luka didn’t seem to mind. She slipped on something icy and instinctively threw her arms around him to steady herself. “Oh God I’m so so sorry,” she squeaked.

“Are you alright?” He looked concerned but had on a smile. “Hey, let’s find somewhere to sit down for a bit.”

“Noooo, no I’m okay,” she said hurriedly. “I don’t wanna make you miss the party.”

“They can deal,” Luka shrugged.

“But it’s for you! It’s important!” It was important, wasn’t it? Marinette was a little sleep-drunk, but her mind had registered this party as “For Luka” so it was automatically labeled IMPORTANT with big red letters and underlined 3 times.

“You’re more important to me,” he said quietly.

For some reason, Marinette giggled. “I know,” she said, squeezing him tight. “But this is for you so I want everything to go right and have it be spectacular!”

He laughed. “The party is just for close friends, you know that, right?”

“It’s for you,” Marinette said. She straightened herself up and stepped back, having realized after the fact that she’d been talking to him all this time with her arms around him. “It's… it’s for you and you’re gonna be… gonna be with Jagged and people will notice you and you’ll become a big star, I can… I can feel it!” She’d gotten wobbly again, and she hadn’t even noticed that she’d been waving her arms to emphasize her points so hard that she’d lost her footing. She slipped again and landed on her butt. “Oof!”

“Alright, we’re finding a place to sit down now,” Luka decided. He took her hands and helped her to her feet, wrapping one arm around her shoulder again. “Hold onto me,” he said.

Marinette giggled again. “Always,” she mumbled, wrapping her arms around him tight. Luka stopped for a heartbeat but pressed on. He found a bench along the Seine that they could rest at for a few minutes. He sat her down first, then stood in front of her with a hand on her shoulder to make sure she was steady.

“Looks like there’s a café nearby. Let me get you something warm, alright? I’ll be a few minutes.”

“Mmkay,” she said sleepily.

He chuckled. “Try not to fall asleep out here. Are you cold?”

“No, I’m alright,” she yawned. “I’ll be awake, promise,” she smiled, looking up at him. He did look a tiny bit concerned (a little like he doubted her to be honest) but then jogged off. Marinette let her focus soften and turned her head up to the light snow, the chill helping to keep her awake. She felt a few flakes land on her cheeks and closed her eyes just for a second, the white clouds fading out to black.

The heat from where he had held her had radiated out, leaving her colder than she liked. She wanted him back so she could lean herself against him and feel him near. Ugh, she was soooo close to dozing off. She shook her head and patted her cheeks, dusting off the snow that had started to cover her.

She better keep herself busy. She pulled out her phone and was momentarily confused. She wasn’t so sure what made her upset staring at her phone until her brain unfuzzed after a few seconds. Her phone backsplash was of Adrien Agreste and it didn’t feel right… She needed to change that. She went into her settings and tried to find a good replacement picture. She did think Adrien was cute and all, but… her tastes had… well, they weren’t quite the same anymore. She had barely thought about Adrien until now. That background had just been… there, static, as the scenery for ages.

She found herself being embarrassed scrolling through her photos. Her most recent pictures had been selfies with her friends and pictures of her crafts or baking. Anything more than a year ago had mostly been pictures she stole off the internet of Adrien. He’d definitely grown more handsome over time she had to admit, but it was… kind of cringey just how many pictures she had of him. She started deleting the Adrien pictures that hadn’t been taken by her or her friends. It just didn’t have the same appeal anymore.

As she kept going further back in time in her photos she saw sketches of the prototype kittycorn masks she had made for Kitty Section. Wow she really needed to update those sketches, and maybe she could ask Luka if he wanted a custom logo? If he did she needed to go back and tweak some of his Christmas presents, but it’d be worth it to see Luka’s reaction.

Marinette desperately hoped he’d like what she made for him.

She’d been setting her phone background to the pink and blue lightning bolt of Luka’s kittycorn mask when he came back with 2 takeout cups. “Sorry to keep you waiting.”

“Thank you,” she smiled up at him. She took the cup that was offered to her, then wedged the cup in between her thighs to take off her gloves to feel the warmth more directly. She picked the cup back up and loved that feeling of the heat suffusing into her hands. She leaned in and smelled the hot chocolate.

He sat down next to her and had taken the lid off of his… she couldn’t really smell what it was but he did have whipped cream on top of that drink. He took a sip and got some of that cream on the tip of his nose and on his lips.

Before he was able to wipe it away, and before even Marinette knew what she’d been doing, she reached out and wiped her thumb across his lips and licked off the stolen cream from her finger.

Then, because she still wasn’t thinking about it, she did the same with the whipped cream on his nose when he turned to face her, giggling after mentally adding a boop. Ugh, it was that cream that came out of an aerosol can. Too much air, not enough body. “What’d you get?” she asked. She noticed his eyes were pretty wide, and she hadn’t fathomed what had surprised him except maybe the drink?

“Uh…” he trailed off, looking a little red. “C-Coffee?”

She leaned against his shoulder and sipped her hot chocolate, feeling it warm her up inside. “This is good,” she sighed happily. “Feels really nice.”

“Yeah,” Luka said absently. “Nice. Did… I didn’t ask if you wanted… any whipped cream… I can get…”

“Hmm? I’m okay,” she murmured, drinking the rest of her hot chocolate. Plus she really didn’t want him to go anywhere. He was warm and it felt like she could sit here with him forever. It’d be nice if they could snuggle together in her bed or something like that. She should ask if she could steal him away for a cozy snow day. That was a grand idea.

“Marinette,” Luka started, then just. Stopped. He’d been looking at her, eyebrows furrowed. It was a few seconds during which Marinette turned back to face him, pressing part of her face against his shoulder. He exhaled, then smiled his lopsided smile. “Nah. It’s alright.” Part of him looked… resigned, maybe?

“I want you… to be as comfortable with me as I am with you,” Marinette said sleepily. “I'm… I feel like it’s so easy to be with you,” she added. “You’re so good for me,” she sighed, letting her body lean back against the bench. The hot chocolate was working its magic and she felt parts of herself relax.

She woke up feeling slightly more rested but still overall groggy. Ugh, what happened? Wait. Wait. Oh no, she’d been with Luka and she’d just… she’d just dozed off? Wait, where was she? She sat up and blinked a few times, rubbing sleep from her eyes. She was back in her own room?! Her winter gear had been taken off as well as her shoes, but she’d been tucked back into her own bed by her mom by the look of it.

Marinette threw off her blankets and rushed downstairs. Oh God it looked like it was already evening – did she miss the concert? Ugh, Marinette why did you have to be so lame?! “Maman?! Papa?!”

“Did you rest well, hon?” Sabine asked. “Luka brought you back a few hours ago–”

“HOURS AGO?! Oh no! Oh no oh no,” Marinette yelled, pulling at her pigtails. She’d definitely missed the concert. Luka’s last concert with Kitty Section!

“He also came back to bring the rest of your things from the Liberty,” Tom added. “He stopped by just a minute ago! He can’t be far, dear, why don’t you see if he’s still nearby?” Her dad handed her purse and gloves back to Marinette from where they were sitting near the register.

Marinette was ready to run out when Sabine tossed her a jacket. “And don’t forget your shoes!” Sabine added, tossing boots at her daughter as well. Marinette didn’t see the calculating smiles her parents exchanged with each other after she hurriedly put her gear on and ran out the Boulangerie.

Her mind was scattered but one thing seemed pretty clear: if it’d been a minute or two and Luka was heading back to the Liberty, Marinette would most likely find him in the subway station waiting for the next train. She didn’t know the trains by heart but they came really quickly. She might have already missed him but if there was even the slimmest chance that she could catch him before he left she’d try.

She flew down the steps of the nearby subway entrance going toward the Liberty and saw only a few people milling around, but there was definitely a train pulling into the station right then and Marinette felt the rush of air buffeting her. There was one familiar figure in the distance and she ran toward them, hoping her gut instincts had it right. “Luka!”

Of course, as soon as she was close enough she tripped. She’d overstepped something or other and caught the edge of… something. If it hadn’t been Luka she was hoping whatever kind soul she had just launched herself at would stop her from faceplanting. “Whoa!” a voice yelled out. Gloved hands braced her and pushed her back upright. “Marinette?” Yes, yes, yes, thank God, she thought looking back up at Luka, her world finally feeling right.

She promptly burst into tears after the relief faded. “I’m so sorry I missed it!”

Luka smiled, shaking his head slightly as he pulled her in for a hug. “The concert? Doesn’t matter to me, I’m glad you got your rest.”

Right, the sudden and inevitable betrayal of her body just because she’d stayed up a few nights makiNG PRESENTS OH SHOOT SHE NEEDED TO GET THOSE TO HIM! She snapped her head back to look up at him and slammed her head into his chin instead. “Ouch! Oh I’m so sorry oh no–”

Luka just started laughing after rubbing his chin. “God I’m gonna miss you,” he said breathlessly, wiping away tears of his own, though his were caused by laughing too hard. The train next to them closed its doors with a hiss and started moving away. “Ah, whoops,” Luka sighed. “I’ll catch the next one.”

This moment stretched in her mind as her mind raced. When he said he was going to miss her… it just reminded her how horribly she was going to miss him. Why had she been so freaking indecisive all this time? How was she going to deal with the Luka-shaped hole in her heart? How had she not realized that she’d wanted him and needed him until right as he was leaving for another freaking country and what if he was gone for a year or maYBE 10 YEARS or what if he decided he didn’t want to come back and found himself someone else and she’d gone ahead and thrown this all away because she’d been too shy and too scared and too freaking stupid to realize she was in lo– Oh, oh no.

Oh no. Don’t freak out now, you saw this coming! Don’t let him leave! she yelled at herself. Not yet. Not… yet, anyway.

“Wait! Wait, um, I-I have your presents pack at the packery–back at the bakery! I-I-If it’s okay did you want me to get them now?”

He raised an eyebrow. “Didn’t you already bring one to the Liberty?”

Marinette pressed her lips together in a wan smile. “One’s not enough,” she said quietly. “There are more. I… wasn’t able to carry all of them.” HE won’t be able to carry all of them, she thought angrily at herself. But there was one that she wanted to give him in person, in private. Now was as good a time as any, if he was willing.

He looked a little worried, but then Luka shrugged. “Sure, I don’t have anything else right now. I’ll head back with you. Thanks, by the way… You know you didn’t have to get me anything.”

“How long have you known me?” Marinette sniffed.

His smile broke through again. “Fair enough.” They walked back up the stairs back to surface streets and walked to the bakery when the pedestrian light was green. Tom and Sabine looked delighted that Marinette brought Luka back. “Hey again. It’s been a while,” Luka joked.

“Go on upstairs, we’ll bring you some snacks in a little bit!” Sabine said cheerfully. Marinette noticed that there wasn’t any room for argument in what her mom said. It’d nearly come across as a command.

“Stay as long as you’d like!” Tom added unnecessarily.

Luka just smiled and nodded politely and followed as Marinette decided she’d best leave right then. They went up the stairs past her parents’ bedroom floor and into the main floor. Luka almost went up the Marinette’s bedroom ladder behind her but decided against it. “I can wait down here unless you need help getting it down?” he offered.

Marinette wondered why he was getting weird about going into her room now, of all times. “Just come up?” Luka let out what was the tiniest sigh and he relented, going up the ladder. She waited until he was finished climbing. “I didn’t get a chance to wrap this up yet, but… I want to make sure it fits properly anyway.” She took a long leather jacket off of her mannequin and presented it to Luka. “This is yours. I made this for you. Can you try this on?”

He just stared for a minute. “That looks… pretty damn incredible, Marinette,” he said in awe. He took off his current jacket and handed it to Marinette when she offered to take it from him. She pretended she didn’t feel just slightly awkward watching his lean form emerge from his bulky outerwear, pretended she didn’t notice that his gray shirt underneath fit snug around his chest, pretended that she didn’t keep getting drawn to the lines and curves of the muscles he usually kept hidden underneath hoodies.

He put on the jacket she made. Most of it was black leather lined in fleece, but she left the arms and the hood a softer, more pliable fabric so he wouldn’t have his arms constrained by the stiff leather. The dark gray fabric of the arms extended out past the wrist to cover the palms and backs of his hands, and had slits for him to put his thumbs through. He pulled the hoodie over and smiled at Marinette. “Feels pretty good,” he said.

Marinette moved his arm so it extended out, looking at the pull of the fabric and making sure that it was fitting well. She made some minor adjustments to the way the jacket sat on him, checking the length, checking seams, checking if there were any problems at all before she realized she was probably being weird on him. “Oh! Sorry, I just–just wanted to… um. A-anyway, how is it?”

Luka had just taken her hovering around and fixing things with quiet dignity. “It’s great. It's… like I said, incredible. This must have taken a lot of work,” he said with clear praise in his voice. “I honestly can’t believe you’re giving this to me. Are you sure?”

“Yeah. Since you’re l-leaving in winter I wanted to make sure… that you’re warm.” Like you keep me warm. “And comfortable.” Like you keep me comfortable. “And it's… it’s not obvious but I also have something on the back. Here, you can check it in the mirror,” she said, pulling him toward her full length mirror. He faced away from the mirror but checked over his shoulder to look. In the light Luka could tell that she had painted the leather in subtle blue and pink, more stains of color under the light than distinct painted lines. “I wasn’t sure if you’d like it but… I put in the lightning bolt from your Kitty Section mask. So that way you even if you’re not part of Kitty Section anymore, you can bring them with you? Am I making any sense?”

“I got it,” he nodded, still checking out different parts of the jacket. “God, I don’t have words for how amazing this is.”

“I’m glad you like it.”

“Marinette, I love it.” He paused suddenly after looking back up at her. He was a little surprised when he saw that she was crying again. “Hey, hey, what’s wrong?” He moved to her and pulled her into another hug.

“I’m just,” she sighed, burying her face into his chest. “Seeing that on you. It makes it real that you’re going.” Luka took in a breath like he’d wanted to say something, but he let it go without saying anything. For a few heartbeats they stood there like that.

They heard Tom shuffling below and the hatch opened. “Hey kids, I brought some crois– Oh, that looks wonderful, Marinette! That jacket turned out very nice!”

Marinette sighed and pulled away from Luka. “Thanks Papa,” she laughed, taking the proffered plate of steaming hot bread.

“Eat them up while they’re still warm!” Tom beamed, going back down the ladder and closing the hatch behind him. At least her dad didn’t make a comment on how he found her and Luka. Maybe he was saving that for later… ugh.

“Want one?” Marinette giggled. “They are best straight from the oven.”

“Sure, I’ll take one.”

Marinette handed one to Luka and ate one for herself, feeling pretty self-conscious at how awkward it got again. She put the plate of croissants on her computer table. “So um… The other presents for you are just… um. I guess there might be a lot to carry now that I think about it, ha.”

“Keep them,” Luka said between bites. Keep them? As in he didn’t want them? Marinette froze in place. “Here,” Luka added belatedly, smiling after he finished his croissant. “Keep them here. I’ll be able to pick them up when I come back in the summer.” He took a step toward her and leaned in close, placing his fingers against her cheek. Marinette blushed at the contact but she didn’t shy away.

He pulled an errant flake of pastry off the corner of her mouth and ate it. “H-hey,” Marinette grumbled. Well, it was probably her fault for expecting something… different. “That was mine,” she added lamely at the end.

“What, you want it back?” He chuckled. “Dunno how–” She grabbed his lapels and pulled him in to kiss him hard. Then she heard Tom shuffling around again and shoved Luka at the chaise lounge just in time for Tom to open the hatch.

“I brought hot chocolate!” her dad announced with a huge grin, though it faltered a little as he took a slight pause to look back and forth between his daughter and the startled young man on her chaise. The kids were blushing pretty hard and Marinette just knew Tom was formulating some conclusions on what happened.

“Thanks Dad, we’re good on snacks for now,” Marinette said, trying to emphasize that she did not want anymore interruptions as she took the cups from Tom.

Tom grinned again. “Sabine and I added a little Dupain-Cheng magic in the cocoa, let us know what you think, alright? We’ll leave you alone now,” Tom winked.

UGH. She handed a cup over to Luka who took it automatically, still staring at her in a slight shock. Oh God maybe he didn’t like her like that? “I-I’m sor–” she started.

“Don’t,” Luka interrupted. “Be sorry. Don’t be sorry, I mean.” He looked a little panicked and laughed nervously. “I didn’t. Think. That you. Were…” he continued, speaking in fragments at a time. “Are you? Was that…”

Marinette sipped her hot chocolate nervously, her cup shaking slightly in her hands, but asked “Are you?” for some reason.

“How long have you known me?” Luka barked out as a laugh. “I’ve always liked you. Always.”

“Me too. Really.” Marinette said quietly. “I… it just. I suck at timing, you know?”

“Yeah,” he breathed out, nodding.

She pouted. “But since you’re leaving… it was something that… it just scared me.”

“You know I’m coming back right?” He put his cup of cocoa on the floor. “Especially if you’re waiting.”

“You-you could meet someone new…?”

Luka furrowed his eyebrows. “I’ll let you know if that happens. Is that what you’re worried about?”

Marinette sighed. “No, orrrr ummm, sort of but not really. I just… didn’t want things to change. And by that I mean I didn’t want to… I didn’t want to make… make any mistakes. With you.” She chugged her hot chocolate, tasting the hints of buttery toffee and cream with a pinch of sea salt, then set her mug aside. “You’ve let me just hang out, you know? Let me be… me. And I was so afraid I’d screw something up if there was… anything more between us, if anything changed between us.”

“But now things are changing anyway?” Luka replied. “Because I’m leaving for a while.”

Marinette nodded. “Yeah. So, I thought I'd… well, give you that,” she pointed at the jacket, “at least. So a little part of me can go with you.”

Luka got back up to his feet and took off the leather jacket. “Then I’ll only wear this when I’m away. Right now I’m here,” he said. “And you’re here. And I’ve always liked you. If you want me, I’m yours.”

“That simple, huh?” Marinette smiled shyly.

“Always been.”

Marinette drew herself into his arms and hugged him tight, feeling him wrap his arms around her. “I do. W-want this I mean. You. I really do suck at timing,” Marinette sighed.

“Yeah, you do,” Luka laughed. “But you’ve just given me some of the best Christmas presents I’ve ever gotten.” He drew her face up to look at him and smiled. “And something to look forward to when I come back.” He leaned in and kissed her.