Adrien had finally had the perfect Christmas. After so long of big empty rooms and cold halls he finally had everything he had ever wanted, every last daydream he had ever come up with as a kid. The family, the food, the laughs, the tree, the girl… the kiss. He had everything and he honestly felt like something huge had changed. Not the obvious, which was that he had his crime fighting partner by his side almost every second they could manage, which made him the happiest he had ever been, but something more fundamental, like he as a person had grown. He had never wanted it to end but eventually Christmas passed and he was forced to return home, but even those large empty halls couldn’t affect him anymore… because for the first time ever… he was generating his own warmth.
Perhaps that is what had changed. Marinette, Ladybug, had unlocked something in him, made him capable of creating that same unbelievable warmth she did. He had always marveled at the warmth of her home and the warmth of her smiles, but now even when he was all on his own his room now carried that same quiet joy. Others noticed too, almost instantly. When he first got in the car the morning after Christmas his driver looked over his shoulder, his eyes a little wide as he took in the boy sitting in the back before quickly brushing it off and heading for the manor. He had sensed it, the change, and immediately felt its benefit. Natalie saw it as well, the way Adrien almost skipped to his room, a goofy childish sweater hanging on his frame and a gentle earnest smile always on his face.
The whole house felt warmer, Adrien was more relaxed and laughed openly, and Natalie instantly wondered who it was. It had to be someone, a smile like that it… it had to be someone.
She turned her gaze back towards her desk, her eyes drifting towards the blinking call light on her monitor. She was happy for him, he deserved to have someone who made him smile that much, especially with someone like the man who was calling her for a father.
Natalie took a breath, fixing her hair with one hand before answering the call.
“Yes Mr. Agreste?”
Gabriel looked back at her from the screen, his expression cold and unreadable like always.
“Is my son home?”
She masked her uneasy expertly, even if internally she cringed slightly. She had hoped Adrien might have a moment to enjoy his happiness.
“Yes sir, he just walked in the door.”
“Good, send him to my office.”
The call ended as suddenly as it began and she sighed, delaying for a moment before steeling herself and rising to her feet. Personal feelings aside she still had her job to do.
Adrien had only been in his room for a few minutes when there was a knock on the door. The words, ‘Your father wishes to see you in his study’ were both entirely expected and utterly unwelcome but he smiled and nodded like a good boy before closing the door.
Adrien jogged to his bed, pulling his sweater over his head as Plagg zipped out into the open.
“What do you think he wants this time? Shove you into a new clothing line?” Plagg asked crossly, surprising Adrien slightly with his genuine displeasure.
Adrien traded his bug power t-shirt and cat sweater for a plain shirt and his coat from Marinette to give the impression that it was what he had been wearing the whole time, or at the very least what he wore to speak with his father.
“Probably not,” Adrien answered, an exasperated frown on his face but still in an excellent mood. “Maybe he just wants to ask about Christmas? Find out who I was with or whatever.”
“Wouldn’t he already know?” Plagg griped, moving to settle down on Adrien’s bed.
“No idea, wish me luck.”
“Not much good luck coming from me,” Plagg snickered, “I’ll just say have fun.”
Adrien walked towards the study with a practiced step, his emotions and body language carefully blank as he approached the door. Being summoned by his father was either neutral or bad, never good, so he was just hoping for something mild.
“Come in,” came the deep, cold voice of his father, and with one final measured breath Adrien opened the door and strode confidently forward, closing it behind him as he was taught to do and standing in the center of the room facing the desk.
His father was sitting in a high backed dark wood chair that Adrien had often thought as uncomfortable looking, the man leaning back with his elbows on the arm rest and his fingers interlaced before his face. Adrien stood straight and professional, silencing his internal unease so he could keep an emotionless expression to rival his father’s.
There was a stretch of silence where Gabriel peered across the workspace at his son, his keen eyes assessing the boy’s stance. Adrien was always neutral and obedient when it came to being summoned, however though it was clear that Adrien was doing his best to replicate this demeanor something had changed. Whereas his stiff posture might have seemed attentive now it seemed defiant, his careful attitude made to match him instead of appease him. He found it intriguing but not alarming, he knew he could still control his son if he needed to so until that control was lost there was nothing to worry about.
“The New Year’s event is approaching,” he said with no wasteful introduction, watching for miniscule shifts in his son’s expression. He found none. “I wanted to inform you that you will be expected to arrive early for press with me before the gala begins.”
“Yes father,” Adrien responded, expression unchanging.
Gabriel nodded, not breaking eye contact. “Then you will be paired off and sent to the dance whilst I interact with my clients. You will be matched with the mayor’s daughter, I expect you to mediate accordingly.”
The first slip. Adrien’s mouth twitched at the corners, threatening a grimace before he mastered it but it did not go unnoticed. Gabriel nodded again, this time to himself. That hint of defiance he had seen in his son was rearing its head now, he could tell.
“Is that going to be a problem?”
He expected a quick, ‘No sir’ but instead he watched as something hardened in Adrien’s eyes.
“I don’t want to attend the event with Chloe. She’s my friend, nothing else.”
“You’ve been paired with Chloe many times and you’ve never protested,” Gabriel challenged but he saw that same twitch at the corner of his mouth.
“I have, you’ve just never listened.”
There was a moment of inaction before Gabriel shifted his weight to lean his elbows on the desk, his hands just before his mouth and his eyes dangerously cold.
“You are expected to be presented with a guest and you will be presented with the Mayor’s daughter.” His tone of voice was cold and absolute, ringing with finality but Adrien did not look prepared to back down.
“There is someone else I would rather take.”
Gabriel was surprised, his eyes widening slightly not at his son’s defiance but at his declaration. It made sense, explained his behavior somewhat. There was a girl.
That was somewhat harder to control.
“Who.” He asked it plainly, not shutting the idea down outright though he planned to. This was a large event, he needed his son to be seen at it and Adrien was just stubborn enough that his obedience might be compromised if he did not manipulate the situation. Normally he would just say it was final and be done with it, but it was a high profile event. It would be ideal to minimize risk.
“Marinette Dupain-Cheng,” he said with some hesitance, like he wasn’t quite willing to say the name to him. “She’s a classmate of mine, you might remember her as the winner of your bowler hat competition.”
That caught Gabriel’s interest, his eyebrow quirking upward as he responded. “The girl who put Chloe in her place, yes I recall. She does quality work, for a child.”
He saw something bordering on defensive and prideful flash across his son’s face as he suddenly removed his coat, striding across the short distance between them and holding it out.
“She does quality work for anybody, her stuff is practically professional. She made this coat for me as a Christmas present, give it a look.”
Adrien fought against the icy feeling in his stomach as his father took his coat into his hands, looking over it with professional scrutiny. His father was at the head of his craft for a reason and he was far from kind, but that’s how much faith Adrien had in Marinette’s work. He wasn’t going to let his father talk down his nose about her.
“Is this an original design?” he finally asked, his long fingered hands expertly examining the interior lining.
“Yes sir,” he responded, not even attempting to mask the pride.
Adrien grimaced when Gabriel said, “There are mistakes,” but smirked when he added, “However I can’t say I’m not impressed. She has talent for sure.”
“I’m sure she would insist of designing her own dress for the gala as well,” Adrien said confidently, watching as his father leaned back with a frown after returning the coat.
“Her work is far beyond her years but the working of a child won’t hold up at an event like this. You are of a noteworthy name, you can’t be seen with… the baker’s daughter is she not?”
Adrien bristled, he couldn’t help it, his father daring to talk about Marinette like she was some disposable commoner. His response was tense and biting.
“She would have the best dress there by a long shot so don’t talk about her like she’s plain just because she isn’t rich.”
Adrien felt a chill wash over him as the hairs on the back of his neck stood on end. That had been bold of him, and also reckless, but he wasn’t going to tolerate it. He refused.
Gabriel leaned back, examining his son’s reaction with cool calculation. His son was headstrong and passionate, foolish and reckless when he lacked direct guidance. This girl, the designer… she must have been who he spent the holidays with. Whatever had transpired had a lasting effect on the boy and he knew well enough that Adrien would be harder to reign in. Although alternatively she was also a point of tension, a chess piece to be regarded. She might make things easier for him.
He couldn’t afford to have Adrien acting out when every eye in Paris would be trained on the event, and it was clear now that was exactly Adrien’s intention. ‘Let me take the girl I want or I’ll cause a scene’ that was the play. While he did not appreciate being challenged in this way Gabriel also respected it, and at the very least it was not of much concern to him. He approved of the girl, she was talented and showed promise he had no objection to the arrangement. It was a problem but the solution was presented, and he wasn’t going to make more stress for himself just because he wanted to teach his son a lesson. Business came first.
“I’ll give you a deal,” Gabriel said slowly, his tone icy as he watched the boy who stood across from him, “I suggest you take it.”
“I’m listening,” Adrien responded, amazing himself at how boldly he spoke to his father. He took satisfaction in the twinge of anger in his father’s eyes even if he feared it.
“You can take the girl, I’ll arrange that we are granted an extra ticket for the event. However it is your responsibility to ensure she won’t be an embarrassment, and if she plans to make her own dress it must first be shown to me. Whether she ends up making it or not I will approve it first, at the very least she will look the part. If I say the dress doesn’t make the cut she either finds a substitute or you will attend the gala with the mayor’s daughter. Are we in agreement?”
Adrien was seething, his anger barely concealed as he desperately tried to talk himself down from saying anything rash. He tried to ignore the implication that his Marinette could in anyway be an embarrassment and recognize that this was, in a weird infuriating way, his father’s approval. He had to view it with his father’s personality in mind. Gabriel Agreste was a competitor, he didn’t get where he was without coming out on top more than once as time went on. By proposing a challenge to Marinette he was recognizing her talent and also her eligibility to be with his son, in fact he was amazed that he was even giving this much. Even if Marinette didn’t have the time to make the dress he knew he could buy her one, so her admittance was practically guaranteed now, but knowing his Lady she wasn’t going to settle. This was the closest thing to a ‘yes’ he was ever going to receive and… and if he was going to get his head straight and maybe, just maybe be with her romantically, this was crucial.
“Yes sir,” he finally muttered, clenching his teeth to keep from saying anything more.
“Very well,” Gabriel spoke, and to both Adrien’s unease and confusion his father gave a small smile. “I look forward to meeting her.”
That was one of the most terrifying sentences Adrien had ever heard, but he took what he had been given and left the room in a hurry. His head was full of sharp buzzing thoughts like bees bouncing around the space behind his eyes as he headed for his room. He had sort of jumped the gun really, considering he hadn’t even asked her to go yet.
Yet another terrifying prospect.
When he made it back to his room he headed straight for the shower, placing his coat to the side carefully and discarding everything else in a senseless pile. The only real reason he had left the bakery was to change clothes and shower, not even for a little space between them. He had spent days in her company and he only wanted more, but he was nervous now. He really didn’t want to go with Chloe, he didn’t even want to go at all but there was no getting out of it. If he went with his lady though… the thought was like throwing a wrench in a finely geared mechanism. What the hell had he been thinking?
That it would be an amazing date?
Ugh. His romanticism was going to be the death of him.
It would be unbelievable. A fancy gala with his lady all dressed up in a gorgeous gown, dancing together at a beautiful venue while they enjoyed their own company. He was a hopeless romantic, the only thing better would have been a masquerade, but the punny part of his brain insisted that they had enough of the mask mystique between them as it was. Ba dum tss.
He could picture it though, dancing together as the New Year closed in, flirting with her and making her blush while they moved in unison. It would be… so amazing. Him and his lady.
But there were several problems, namely the fact that as much as he liked to say it she wasn’t his lady. There had been the kiss but… another wrench in the works.
Warm water soaked into his hair and poured down his face, forcing his eyes shut from their sightless staring. The kiss was on his mind now, and he wondered if all the heat he felt came from the water.
It had been intimate and… intoxicating, a fulfillment of a thousand wild daydreams. She had seemed so playful and flirtatious but she had liked it. Not even his doubtful anxiety riddled mind could convince him now that she hadn’t enjoyed it because she did, he knows she did. The hand on his hip and… the warmth of her as she stood so close to him… he got nervous and giddy just considering that she might be entertaining the thought of him as a romantic partner.
The moral was that she had reciprocated, in fact she had kind of started it and he was now just bold enough to think to himself that she had a clear interest. She had seemed receptive to him as Adrien and rebuffed him as Cat Noir, but he sort of liked to believe that she didn’t accept his advances as Cat Noir because of her interest in her classmate Adrien. This of course would be null now that he was the same guy, like how his fledgling feelings for Marinette were validated by discovering he was already in love with her.
He had been very carefully avoiding letting that thought play out.
Plagg waited outside of the bathroom, hovering with his arms crossed as he listened to the gentle thumping of Adrien hitting his head against the shower wall. He shook his head and let out a chuckle, wondering when they would get to go see Marinette and Tikki again. He liked the girl, she was nice and gave him cheese, lots of it for that matter. She was always checking to see if he was hungry and gave him gifts, she had his loyalty one hundred percent. The only thing stalling them from getting back to the girls was Adrien’s sudden and thus far unexplained nervousness, the boy trailing out of the bathroom with boxers on and roughly toweling at his hair.
“Alright… I should just do it over the phone right?” he asked, offering literally no explanation as he went about finding some clothes.
“Considering I have no idea what you mean, yeah sure,” Plagg said indifferently, deciding if Adrien was going to make even less sense than usual he might as well take a nap.
Adrien found himself stood by the window with sweats and a baggy t-shirt hastily thrown on, his phone in his hand and Marinette’s contact on his screen.
‘Just ask her to a formal event in a totally date like way what’s so hard about that’ he thought to himself sarcastically, his eyes pouring over their happy snow selfie to give himself some confidence.
‘At the very least,’ he consoled himself as he pressed the call button, ‘she’s your friend and you can go as friends. She won’t say no will she? Especially if she knows that me going with Chloe is the alternative she’d never resign me to that.’
One ring. Two. A third, then-
His throat was tight as soon as he heard her voice, the sound of it causing a weird mix of tension and relief in him that seemed to defy all logic.
“Hey Mari! H-hi!”
“Hey Adrien!” She answered sweetly, his heart skipping at the sound. He was glad he wasn’t doing this in person. There was a steady silence. “Uh. Did you need something?”
“Uh right uh. I- okay,” he babbled, bouncing in place a little and running a hand through his damp hair. “I wanted to ask you something and you can totally say no- if you want. But it would mean a lot to me if you said yes and that would be awesome but don’t like, feel pressured. Cause you can totally say no.”
He shut his eyes tightly, gripping his hair a little roughly in a fist as he agonized over how stupid that sounded. However his lady was sweet and understanding, and just said “What is it?”
“Okay well- There is- I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of the New Year’s thing that happens every year, every well new year. You know what I mean. The gala, the big one.”
He could hear her breath hitch even over the phone and knowing how clever she was she was probably already at the end of this conversation. He needed to say it himself though, so he forged on.
“I have to go, I always do it’s a publicity thing for my dad. All the big names for basically everything in Paris are there including a lot of clients so my dad makes me go for appearances. I- I have to go w-with someone and uh…” he was losing steam, trying to get all the words out. “My dad was going to make me go with Chloe.”
“Chloe!?” she suddenly cut him off, making him jump. A weird feeling blossomed in his chest, something almost… excited? Cause to him, it sounded like she was jealous.
“Yeah I didn’t want to!” he was quick to reassure her. “I told him I didn’t want to go with Chloe because any time he pairs me up with her it’s this whole thing in tabloids about us and I don’t like it. You know Chloe she just fuels the rumors and I- I don’t want anyone to think I’m with her and she’s my… friend? But going to the gala with her would be awful so I- I told my dad I didn’t want to. I told him there was another girl I would rather take.”
His heart was thumping painfully in his chest as he heard her breath catch again, and he forced himself to see it through.
“I think that- I know it’s a big event and it’s only like five days away but I asked my dad that if you were to say yes if it would be okay if me and you went together instead- s-so what I’m asking is do you want to go to the event with me for New Years?”
It was agonizing, the space between his question and her answer. His eyes stared out into the gently falling snow but saw none of it, gaze fixed on the distant unseeable visage of the bakery.
She made some sort of garbled unintelligible reply before trying again, finally stammering, “I-I would love to! Go with y-you, I mean.”
‘Idiot, did you just-?’ his brain chastised him, but when she confirmed again he sighed in relief stumbling back towards his couch to sit down. She said yes.
“Awesome, cool that’s great okay awesome,” he laughed out, listening to the musical sound of her breathless giggle.
“Your dad said it’s alright? It’s a huge event.”
Ah. A little of that nervousness returned.
“Yeah, well about that. He said yes but… I’ll admit I got a little carried away.”
“What do you mean?” she asked in genuine confusion, Adrien shifting his weight uncomfortably on the sofa.
“Well… he asked who you were and I told him your name, told him you were the winner of his contest a while ago and he remembered you. He said you did good work-“ he powered through her gasp, “and I was showing off a little. I showed him your jacket and he was really impressed.” Another gasp, “And I said that you were a really great designer. I kinda made a comment, something about how you always wear your own designs and he said something like, you were really good but student designs wouldn’t hold up at an event like the New Year’s gala. And uh… I kinda said something like ‘Hers would’ because I was getting defensive cause I really think that. So like… he said something sorta like he would like to see that if that were the case so if you did want to wear something you made we would have to… show it to him first.” …That was all mostly true, at least presented in a more understandable way.
A slightly tense chuckle escaped him mostly because his body needed some way to vent his fear. “You don’t have to make one but I know how much you like making stuff and I just wanted to warn you that if you did-“
“YOU BASICALLY SIGNED ME UP FOR A ONE ON ONE COMPETION FOR A GALA WITH THE TOP FASHION DESIGNER EVER!!”
He felt a chill even as sweat beaded up on his forehead. He knew he had gotten a little carried away but he didn’t think-
Adrien’s mind was still riding his fear high enough to function at a speed capable of decoding Marinette’s frantic babbling.
“Your dad was impressed by my stuff Adrien do you have any idea how insane that is!? If I can somehow make a dress that passes his critique and wear it to an event where it will be seen by other top designers do know how cool that would be? Oh my- I’m so excited what if I pull it off!? And even if I don’t I’ll get critique from the top designer in Paris! This is such an opportunity for me and- and we get to go to an event together on top of it!”
She went off, talking at high speed but the thing that he was hung up on was that even though she was extremely excited to have an opportunity to impress his father, getting to go with him was still one of the outstanding positives.
He sat quietly on the sofa, letting Marinette gush and plan over the phone as he grinned stupidly to himself. She had said yes… they were going to go together and it was going to be amazing.
Marinette had talked about a few of her preplanned dress designs she was going to pull from for about thirty minutes before she began to refocus on the real event itself.
“I-I’ve never gone to anything like this before… I don’t know…”
“Hey!” he piped up, “Don’t worry at all. I’ll be with you the whole time, the worst we’ll have to deal with is some of my dad’s stuffy clients bothering us with chitchat. We don’t have to dance or nothing if it makes you nervous, we can just enjoy the party.”
“Really,” he reassured her, more than willing to forfeit his ballroom dancing dream for the sake of her comfort. “Wait scratch that, the worst we might have to deal with is probably Chloe.”
“Oooh, she’s going to be mad isn’t she? That I’m your date instead of her?”
His mind went blank, the word ‘date’ rattling around and frying his brain until he was only capable of squeaking, “Probably.”
‘She said it not me’ he thought to himself, an ecstatic grin spreading across his face.
To his surprise Marinette laughed, sounding somewhat pleased though she would probably deny it if he confronted her about it. His grin spread further.
“I’ll have to call her today and tell her we won’t be going together…” he said with genuine unease. “She’ll probably be upset.”
“She gets upset about most things, I’m sure she’ll survive,” Marinette laughed, before letting out a huff. “I guarantee you that if anyone is going to catch her bad side because of it, it will be me.”
“I won’t let her bother you, I promise,” he said seriously, the thought of Chloe trying to harass her making his skin crawl. Big event or not that would not fly with him.
“I can take care of myself kitten,” she giggled, the sound making him feel warm. “But thanks.”
“So uh,” his fingers readjusted their grip on the phone as he changed the subject, “do you think you’ll have enough time to make something? You only have a few days.”
He smiled slightly at her theatrical sigh. “It will be close but I have a few designs I can pull together into one piece, so I already have the planning done. The only thing I have to do is assemble it, and as luck would have it I don’t have anything that needs doing the next few days, I was free anyways.”
“So you’re just going to work non-stop?” he said, not attempting to mask his disapproval. He knew she was an unstoppable force when she got in the zone but he didn’t want her to push herself. He could just arrange for another dress, but he knew that wasn’t how things were gonna go.
“I can do it alley cat, trust me it will blow you away when you see it on New Years.”
“New Years? You won’t let me see it before then?”
“Of course not!”
He scoffed, leaning forward on the couch and gesturing wildly to nothing at all. “Why not!?”
Her laugh was clear and eager over the phone but he was devastated. If there was one thing that made him Cat Noir more than anything else it was his curiosity.
“It’s a surprise, it wouldn’t be any fun if you got to see it first.”
He spoke easily and without thinking, as was his habit when she was involved.
“I guarantee you no matter how much heads up I have about the dress I will still have my socks knocked off when I actually see you wearing it.”
“Oh I know,” she giggled in return, the playfulness of it warming his cheeks and strengthening his smirk. “Still not going to show you though.”
“Come on! Can’t I help you with it?”
“Curiosity killed the cat you know.”
“Also killed the cat.” She laughed, and he heard the chime of a bell in the background of the call.
“Did you leave the bakery already?”
“I’m going to buy the fabric, I need to get started like, NOW. I know what I want this has been my dream dress for ages.”
“At least let me pay!”
“Tell you what,” she challenged, “If you can make it uptown and beat me to the counter you can pay.”
“Guess you better find out huh?”
He sputtered, looking out into the snow and listening to the sound of her mischievous laugh before grinning a sharp toothed grin.
There were more than a few fabric store owners who had the day lights scared out of them by a black clad superhero diving into their shop, fervently looking around before sprinting away again without saying a word. The cat would show up, dive in, look around and leave again, pulling staff out to check his GPS for the next store. It was from his place on a rooftop though that he spotted her, running towards a shop with her wallet in her hand.
“Not this time!” he said mostly to himself, clawing down the side of the building and making a run for the alleyway next to the shop.
He de-transformed quickly, sprinting for the door just as Marinette was running for the counter, her goods already selected.
‘She called ahead? Clever girl!’ he thought affectionately.
However she wasn’t fast enough, because suddenly there was a panting Adrien Agreste slamming his credit card on the counter with a triumphant smirk, looking down at a snow covered Marinette.
“I win,” he said with a grin, laughing at her distraught expression.
“I thought for sure I would beat you!”
“I’m the fastest guy in town, it’s only natural darling don’t feel bad.”
The word ‘darling’ made her cheeks flush and she was glad she could blame it on the cold because the way he was looking at her, snow in his hair and an exhilarated smile on his lips, he was very distracting to say the least.
Marinette huffed, but kept her side of the bargain and let him pay without complaint. She had been forced to make the call while running so she had been slowed down enough to give him the advantage, or else she would have absolutely beaten him. She liked to think so anyways.
“Is this everything?” Adrien asked, attempting to peer into the huge set of three bags he was handed by the store clerk.
“Don’t look!” she said, smacking him lightly on the back of the head and taking her bags. “It’s a surprise!”
“It’s not even made yet!” he protested, rubbing at his head dramatically though he hadn’t been hurt at all. “I can’t even know the color?”
“No!” Marinette stuck her tongue out at him, power walking quickly towards the door and out onto the street, Adrien having to jog to catch up.
“But Mari,” he whined, and the adorable way he cooed the nickname made her heart stutter, “you’re going to be working on it nonstop for days, if I can’t even see the color am I not allowed to see you at all until New Years?”
She kept her hurried pace but looked up into his face, seeing that he was clearly upset by the idea and she was as well admittedly. However she knew how she could get, she was going to get so engrossed in the project she wouldn’t be able to sit still and just hang out. Adrien would probably be a good sport and just watch her work but she didn’t want him to see it…
“Well, maybe you can just play video games in my room. We’ll set it up on the monitor so you can just hang out with Plagg, and I can work. That way we can talk and stuff and you don’t have to go home.”
Adrien immediately perked up at the solution, glad to have an opening to be back in the bakery so soon, but suddenly a thought struck him and he groaned.
“What is it?” Marinette asked, rifling through her bags but still listening.
“I just sort of jumped through the window, no one knows I’m not home. I can’t come over right now, someone might notice I’m gone. I should go home…”
Marinette looked up and he genuinely looked bummed. Plagg did as well, his tiny face popping out of Adrien’s pocket for the express purpose of pouting. She giggled quietly.
“Okay, that’s honestly for the best. I’m going to be really wrapped up in this for the first dozen hours. How about you come over first thing tomorrow with a game of your choosing, or even tonight if you want once my parents go to bed. You can just zip in the window as Cat Noir.”
Just like that Adrien’s mood turned back around, grinning down at her. “Tonight sounds great. How late will you be up?”
“We’re both used to late nights kitten,” she laughed, giving him a shrug. “Probably late. My parent’s go to bed at ten.”
“I’ll be there at ten thirty, want me to bring anything?”
“Coffee, that’s all I’ll need,” she snickered.
“Alright then, your prince will return with coffee for a late night,” he said with surprising confidence. Something about their casual interactions, the very idea of doing such playful normal things was enough to make him feel unstoppable. Not to mention that this was all because he had asked her to a dance and she had said yes.
So, riding this wave of confidence, he reached out and grabbed Marinette’s hand. He marveled in the quiet shy gasp as he smoothly pulled her glove from her fingers, watching as snowflakes landed and melted against her warm skin before lightly brushing his lips against her knuckles.
“See you tonight my lady,” he said, almost like a purr paired with a charming smile. While she was still shocked and processing what he had done he ducked out of sight into an alleyway, pacing to its end with a bounce in his step before transforming into Cat Noir and leaping for home.
She hadn’t pushed him away, he hadn’t overstepped. Just before he had turned… she had smiled.
And that gave him all the hope to carry him home.
Alya was exhausted, sitting in the train station late at night holding one of her little sisters in her arms as they slept soundly in a way she could not. Her parents had wandered off to ensure they would have a compartment the younger kids could sleep in as they headed home at last, when suddenly she felt her phone go off.
She was careful to maneuver her sister so she wouldn’t wake up, pulling off her glove with her teeth and reaching for her pocket. She was very surprised to see that it was a message from Adrien.
‘A- Are you awake? Sorry if this wakes you up.’
Alya quirked an eyebrow but tapped out a response.
‘Alya- No I’m up, at the train station. Why, need something?’
She waited a little impatiently, her mind snapping back to all the delicious progress her favorite pair had made just the day before. She and Adrien were friends but they didn’t text much as far as conversations go, it was mostly just basic communication like ‘Was that due today?’ So it definitely had to do with-
‘A- Do you know how Mari takes her coffee? She’s busy designing something and won’t answer the phone so I can’t ask.’
Alya couldn’t help the small squeal that escaped, her eyes searching her little sister’s face for any sign of stirring before shifting her other hand out from under her so she could type quicker.
‘Alya- taking her a drink? You must be going over there if she’s designing, she almost never leaves the house when she has a project.’
She waited with a smirk on her face for him to respond, glad to have the info he needed because that meant she could ask questions and expect an answer.
‘A- yeah I’m just keeping her company while she works, nbd.’
Alya doubted that.
‘Alya- so late? That’s sweet of you, and nice of her parents to let you in so late.’
The response was delayed and she grinned. Got ‘em.
‘A- Haha yeah, uh so how does she take her coffee?’
Boom. Marinette’s parents absolutely did not know he was going to be there or else he wouldn’t have been so evasive and there wouldn’t have been a lag. It was circumstantial at best but if that’s what it took to let herself believe there was a secret late night coffee date at Marinette’s than that’s how it would be.
She sent him what he needed to know along with a ‘have fuuun~’ that he deliberately didn’t acknowledge when he thanked her. Right when she was finished her parents returned and it was time to board the train to head home. She had never wanted to make it back to Paris so much.
Marinette was in the zone, measuring and pinning and planning like a pro. She hadn’t been so bold as to actually make any cuts, she had a deadline but there was no need to be rash, so instead she had surrounded herself with sketches. Different parts of different pictures were circled and cut out, pinned together into one collage that formed her final design. Over the last ten hours she had calculated and experimented with her new material, finding out just how it folded and swayed, and now she had every cut mapped out. For the main flow at least. It was the beading that would eat up her days…
She jumped and pricked herself with a pin when she heard an insistent tap on the hatch above her bed, having to remind herself that it was Adrien before she panicked. She still panicked a little anyways.
She hurried to move her screen in front of the corner of the room that had become her workspace, taking an extra moment to ensure nothing was visible before running up to let him in.
“Took your time princess,” was the first thing he said, his teeth chattering as he clambered inside as Cat Noir.
“Sorry!” was all she offered, reaching up to grab the carrying tray of coffee so he could shut the hatch and keep any more snow from melting on her bed. “I was working.”
“I assumed,” he laughed, shaking his head and winking at her. “I had to text Alya just to get your coffee order.”
Marinette gasped, following him down to the main space of her room. “I’m so sorry I wasn’t even looking at my phone! Thank you though, I need a caffeine break.”
“My pleasure. Is there anywhere I’m not meant to be looking?”
She jumped a little when his transformation released, the bright flash of light startling her. She blinked at Plagg for a moment before smiling at him, to which he responded with a cattish grin.
“The screen,” she finally answered, looking back up at Adrien as he rubbed at his arms beneath the coat. “All my stuff is behind there but drink your drink first, you must be cold.”
“I’m cold too!” Plagg whined, demanding attention and quickly receiving it from Marinette who set the drinks down on her desk and plucked him from the air.
“I kept your stocking out for you Plagg, you can use it as a warm place to sleep if you like though I think Tikki might be in it right now.”
“I’ll just push her out,” he said mischievously, but withered under Marinette’s glare. “Or sleep somewhere else, that’s fine too.”
Plagg grinned sheepishly then zipped off to find somewhere warm, Marinette shaking her head with a bemused smile.
“I only just fed him so if he asks for food ignore him he’s lying,” Adrien warned her, giving her a warm grin before pulling a small handheld game console from his interior jacket pocket.
She giggled when she saw it, watching as he took a generous swig from his drink before settling down into her desk chair.
“All set up?” she asked with laughter in her voice, finding it adorable that he was prepared to just enjoy her presence in the same room as him.
“Yes mam’, my journey to be the very best will keep me busy I promise I won’t bother you much.”
“No please do,” she contradicted as she headed back towards her project. “I love hearing you narrate your games. I won’t be able to see so make sure to give me a play by play alright kitten?”
She was facing the other way so she couldn’t see how the affectionate pet name made him swell with happiness, tucking his feet up onto the chair and spinning a few times from glee.
“Can do!” he announced, pedaling backwards so that he was on just the other side of the screen, only the thin barrier between them. He could hear her moving about, shifting papers and some supplies around as he got ready to start, and even though he couldn’t see her just knowing she was there letting him talk endlessly about video games was just…
He wasn’t cold anymore.
Marinette listened as he started up his game, smiling to herself at the companionship they shared. Her working on her designs, him playing his games, and their kwamis snuggled side by side in a small black stocking.
“Okay!” his voice reached her and the excitement it clear. “I’m starting a new game on Pokemon X and it’s actually kind of cool because this region is based on Paris! It isn’t called Paris obviously but it’s what it’s based on.”
“Oh cool!” she responded with a laugh, letting her hands glide over the shimmering scarlet fabric. After a little while he had a question for her.
“Alright so am I going to go with Chespin, Froakie, or Fennikin?”
“None of those words meant anything to me,” she admitted, and his rich vibrant laughter made her glad he couldn’t see her since she couldn’t stop the blush.
“Let me rephrase. Grass otter, ninja frog, or fire fox.”
“No like a fox that’s on fire.”
“No it’s cool with it.”
“Can’t go wrong with ninja frog.”
“I absolutely agree, Froakie it is.”
And so they went, Adrien embarking on a Pokemon adventure while he gave Marinette an eager play by play in vague understandable terms (“Ah Mari save me I’m being attacked by Angry Wasp and Fire Lizard”) and Marinette working steadily on the first cuts of her dress. They laughed and chatted about anything they could think of; the gala, the game, Chloe and how mad she was going to be and ‘oh my god Adrien you didn’t call her?’ Even their kwami’s got involved once almost three hours had passed and all the laughter disturbed their napping.
Plagg took great offense to having a cat like Pokemon named after him but Tikki found it hilarious, the two of them sitting on Adrien’s shoulders while he gave an action packed commentary of his latest gym battle.
As time went on and dawn was almost approaching they were still going strong, just happy to be in each other’s company a little while longer.
And all the while Adrien felt so completely happy, letting his mind wander from time to time to just what sort of surprise was on just the other side of the screen… and how his lady might look in it when she wore it to meet him.