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One Thing After Another

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He couldn't stop looking at it. The way it was just sitting, pushed off to the side of his peripherals. He'd turn to look at it, but every time he'd get it directly in his sights, Nino would jolt him back into the conversation. They were talking about lunch or something—where they should go. He didn't know.

And, actually, he really didn't care.

It belonged to Juleka. She'd used it to bring in all her props for the presentation she'd given earlier that morning. Her posters were still taped to the board, which meant it was empty.

Boxes, especially big, cardboard boxes, were not meant to stay empty.

It was logical to assume she'd probably put all her stuff back in the box before taking it home. But, as it were, she was in the back of the room chatting, just as they all were, which meant the box was being forlornly ignored. He was uncomfortable with it. Someone needed to fill that box. All that space, bordered by tall sides. It was meant to hold things. There should be something in there.

Boxes should not be empty!

"What about Marinette's parent's bakery? Adrien?"

He snapped his head around to Nino. "Hm? What?"

"We were thinking about going to Marinette's for lunch. That sound good to you?"

"Huh? Oh, yeah, whatever." Waving off the conversation, he looked back at the box. It was starting to make him anxious.

"Okay…" Nino muttered, looking between Alya and Marinette with a questioning brow. Adrien didn't notice. His eyes had narrowed—he was glaring at the box. If someone didn't pack it up soon, he was going to have to do it himself. It was unacceptable, leaving a box just lying around. Doing nothing. Being empty. It went against everything inherent in why a box existed in the first place. They were made to hold things, so that was what it should be doing.

It was damn near wasteful.

He couldn't take it anymore. Something had to be done.

Pushing himself from his seat, he didn't bother with an explanation—clearly, everyone else should be agreeing with him. With a critical eye, he went right up to the box and stared down into it. Completely and totally empty. Good sized. Looked pretty sturdy, like it wasn't over-used. Very good. It was a respectable box. It reached him at about knee height and looked just big enough for someone to stand in.

The posters wouldn't fill it up, not technically. Which was inefficient. A box should be used to its fullest potential.

He should get in it. That would fill it up.

He'd later blame the impulse on Plagg, but in that moment, such wasn't even crossing his mind. Instead, he easily lifted his leg and climbed inside—first one foot and then another. As soon as he was in, he took a short, satisfied breath, and turned some, if only to get a better feel for it. He kind of wished it was taller, because then he could slink down and hide. But it'd do.

Maybe he should sit down.

Finger tapping his chin thoughtfully, he was just about to configure how best it would be to settle himself lower—he'd certainly fill the space better if he sat down—when he noticed that everyone in the room was staring at him. He blinked, looking up. Alya and Nino were both gaping, silent, as they watched, and even Marinette was managing to stare at him without blushing.

Even Chloe was silent, and that was pretty incredible.

It was then that he realized he probably shouldn't go around standing in other people's boxes. Or any boxes, for that matter. Because normal people didn't go around standing in boxes. Granted, he wasn't exactly normal, but no one else knew that.

And maybe he would have jumped right out were it not for the irrational apprehension keeping him in place. Because he liked the box—it was closed and clean and comfortable—and he didn't want to get out of it. He just wanted to sit down, curl up, and watch the room with his eyes just above the lip. Like a spy.

But everyone was still staring at him, and he was still staring at them, and he was pretty sure that eventually someone was going to have to say or do something. And, odds were, if it wasn't him, he'd have to somehow answer for his actions.

It was just a box. Why were they being so weird about it? Maybe Juleka would give it to him if he paid her for it. Then he could put it in the middle of his bedroom and sit in it without anyone there to watch him.

Maybe he should just find his own box.

That was probably the better idea. He didn't want to leave this box—it was very comfortable and would no doubt remain empty for some time after he vacated it. Which was, again, a waste. But it wasn't his box and maybe it was a little strange that he'd taken such a liking to it.

Yeah, he should probably get out.

Despite how he wanted to stay, he slowly lifted his feet and stepped out. Everyone watched him as he did, but he pretended to ignore them. Because it was only once he was out of the comfort of the box that he realized how strange this must really look.

Thus, without a word or a look at anyone, he walked slowly toward the door. Too fast and they'd see he was nervous. He stayed easy and casual, like there was nothing amiss. It was quiet behind him, but he didn't acknowledge it. Rather, he strolled right out the door and turned down the hallway, only letting the deep red flush drown his face once he was safely sprinting to the bathroom.

He could hear Plagg laughing inside his bag, which only mortified him further.

oOo

Later than evening, as he was trailing Ladybug into a warehouse where there was evidence of an akuma attack, Chat spotted probably the sturdiest, emptiest, most perfect box he'd ever seen. It was a wooden crate, actually, but, really, there was no big difference to him.

With a manic smile and no second thoughts, he sprinted, jumped, and landed square in the middle of it. Sinking down until only his narrowed eyes, hair, and ears were above the edge, he watched as Ladybug turned to him, eyebrows furrowed.

He grinned wider, though she couldn't see it.

Because she wasn't giving him any weird looks—not any weirder than usual, anyway. Instead, she just pursed her lips and rolled her eyes before continuing on with her investigation.

Yes, this was definitely the most comfortable box he'd found yet.