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Chasing the C/h/atwalk.

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This was all Alya’s fault.

Sure, Project Runway was a favorite show of hers, and she hadn’t missed a season. But when the auditions for the French version began, Marinette Dupain Cheng had absolutely no interest in participating. Sure, she as a consumer of reality television. That did not mean that she wanted to be a part of it!

Reality shows were just… something you enjoyed when sick at home, with nothing else to watch. They were guilty pleasures, hidden from people. Or, in the case of Project Runway, a way for Marinette research. It had never even crossed her mind to apply for a spot on the show. Marinette simply was not made for television.

Her life was exciting enough with her work as Ladybug. There was no need for any more excitement.

But Alya did not know that last part, nor did she listen any objections from Marinette. Alya was determined to get Marinette into the show, sending the application on behalf of her best friend and making sure she attended the actual interview.

Granted, there had been enough bribing, blackmailing, and mild threats of violence for Alya to get Marinette to the Grand Hotel where the second round of auditions were being held. Alya was holding the briefcase with all her designs hostage until Marinette went through with the audition.  

To tell the truth, Marinette didn’t honestly think that Alya would not give them back if Marinette asked seriously enough. But it was far better to just play along with her best friend. After all, there was no harm in auditioning.

In theory, it was a good deal. She would get exposure, people all over Europe, and even the world would see her designs. And if she won, or even got to the finals, she would get to make an actual collection that was going to be shown during Paris Fashion Week.

It was tempting. But Marinette was already studying design, there was no reason for her to do things this way. She was a good student, so there was a good chance she would get a job in an actual company.

In the end, there was a small part of her that was glad that Alya was as brazen as she was, and pushed her into doing something risky that just might pay off. So yes, Marinette ended up playing along with the mild hostage situation that Alya goaded her into. She would never confess, but there was a small part of her thatwanted to know whether she’d make the cut.

In the end, she had. Along with nineteen more aspiring designers, Marinette was officially part of the cast for the new season of Project Runway: France. It had taken her a month to get her affairs in order to dedicate her whole life to the show. But now she was ready.

Because if she was going to be a part of this thing, Marinette was going to do her damned best to win.

She’d put her studies on hold for the duration of the show, Alya had already made a Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr account with her name to be her official fan accounts, and her best friend had self-appointed herself as her official fan club’s president for the duration of the show. And beyond if she did win.

Marinette wanted to win, in any case.

It had been whirlwind of several things happening all at once. Contracts were signed, non-disclosure agreements were carefully read and signed as well. Friends had thrown good luck parties and it all led to this day. The first day of shooting. Marinette arrived at the studio, which was originally a large warehouse, which had been arranged in several areas. Workshop, runway, production, makeup and many areas she hadn’t been able to seen yet, all buzzying with people, running around and putting the finishing touches on everything.

It was dizzying.

She was greeted by a fast speaking woman, with the bluest and brightest hair she’d ever seen. “Marinette?” the woman, waiting for her nod before holding a finger up, clearly listening to instructions being transmitted through her headset. “uh huh… mhmmm.” The woman, whose name Marinette was yet to find out nodded for a second before snapping her fingers and motioning to Marinette. “Follow me!”

They navigated through what seemed a maze of people, who were apparently still setting up some common areas, fixing the lights so that the scenery appeared best on camera

“Alright, to your right, there’s the workshop.” The woman said, pointing towards an open door, as they walked. Marinette was barely able to peek through it, looking at the shiny and new sewing machines, before she had to jog to catch up with Blue hair. “Yeah, yeah, we’re going over there. Who?” To tell the truth, Marinette was not even trying to reply, since it seemed that she wasn’t taking to her in any case; mainly assuming that the other woman was just speaking to whoever was talking to her via her headset. “Yeah, with her.” Still, Blue Hair tried, somehow fitting a couple of sentences to Marinette before going back to her conversation. “Over there’s the runway,” she said, pointing at a large yet closed door, “but you won’t get to see it just yet. Ah, here we are.” She opened a door and ushered Marinette through it.

To be honest, Marinette had not understood a word of what had just happened. Honestly, what had she gotten herself into?

She stepped into the room cautiously, looking around as she began processing everything she’d seen so far.

The room was small, with a comfortable looking red chair, surrounded by some half-dressed manikins and random decorations. Large headlights pointed towards the chair and Marinette quickly figured out that this was the interview room.

An older man was setting up the camera and motioned for Blue Hair to take a seat beside him. Behind him, there were two more people, mainly talking amongst themselves as Camille still talked to whoever was on the other side of the line. “Yeah, we’re shooting now.” She pressed a button and finally looked at Marinette like she was seeing her. “Alright Marinette, here’s the interview space.” The woman, directed her to a seat “My name is Camille, and I’ll be guiding you through this madness.”

Camille headed towards the back of the camera, staring at the monitor, before fiddling with the lights above her. Once she seemed to be satisfied, she addressed Marinette again, “Here’s how this works. I’ll ask you some questions about the events of the day, and you’ll answer them as if they’d just happened. Okay? It’ll all be edited in post, so just act natural and everything will be alright.”

Somehow, Marinette doubted that.

Still, she nodded, too stunned to say anything else as she sat down on the chair, fidgeting with the collar of the blouse she was wearing as she was swarmed by a tech, a makeup artist and a stylist, who quickly slapped her hand away from her clothes, as the other man began working on her face as the tech began attaching the microphone to her clothes.

This place was absolute insanity.

“Aren’t you pretty?” The stylist said, “You must take greatpictures, mon dieu!” The older woman took a step back, admiring her simple outfit as she seemed to ponder just what to do with it. Whatever, Marinette was not changing her clothes. “You probably already took your cast pictures, I can’t wait to see them!” she gushed, fidgeting with the collar and taking a step back to admire her whole look.

“I… uh,” Marinette began, but again. It seemed that no one listened. Still, there was so much more going on, as the make up artist began rummaging through his suitcase, pulling out several things and brushes. “I… uh, I already got make up done for the pictures?” Marinette offered, before being attacked with a brush, as some powder was being brushed all over her face.

“We’re just making sure you don’t look shiny, Ma Cherie!” the makeup artist said, his grin bright as he tapped some dewy looking lipstick over her very surprised mouth.

“I look shiny?” she inquired, her hand rising to touch her face before being swatted and shushed.

“What about this top?” The stylist said, “She’s pretty, we could do something here.” the woman turned to Marinette for a second, “What’s your angle? Sweet or bitchy and catty?”

Marinette sputtered indignantly, “What?” but no one really paid much attention to her.

Someone shushed the stylist, “It doesn’t matter, it’s just the first episode. We’ll see how it develops when she meets the others.”

Eventually, they left her alone and they went to the back of the room, giving Camille the chance to speak again.

Thankfully. Marinette was beginning to miss the fast talking woman. “Alright, here’s your time. You can say whatever you want in here, just remember to speak directly to the camera, and introduce yourself! Action!”

To tell the truth, the bright blinking red light made her nervous, but she was already here. She might as well try and make the best of it. “My name is Marinette Dupain Cheng, I’m 23 years old and I’m a student of Ecole De La Chambre Syndicale, although I did put it on hold to be here.” Marinette smiled at the camera, feeling a little more relaxed as Camille motioned at her to go on. “I’ve always been interested in fashion and design. I’ve been making clothing and accessories since I was twelve years old, I honestly can’t wait to see what the challenges are.”

“Good, good.” Camille nodded, “Alright, so have you worked with models?”

“To tell the truth, not a lot. We’ve mainly worked on mannequins’ at school, but we have worked with models before. I’m excited to see my designs on an actual runway.”

“Mhmm,” Camille nodded, “As you know, here you’ll get to work with just one model through the season, unless you lose him or switch up later on. Tell me what you think about that.”

“Oh, I’m looking forward to bonding with my model.” Marinette explained, “I think it’s really the best for this show to just do that. It’s like working with a muse of sorts.” Camille seemed to approve of her answer and she slipped her a brown envelope. Marinette looked at the large envelope, frowning before she turned towards Camille. “What’s this?”

The red blinking light on the camera signaled that they were still rolling, but Camille didn’t mind. Clearly everything would be edited later.“I know this doesn’t work this way in the other versions, but we’re assigning you your first model.” Camille motioned towards the envelope. “You’ll have to act out picking him later, We’re a little behind schedule so we need to get this episode done fast.” 

“This is your model’s headshot. So you can give us your first impression and we’ll edit it together in post after you meet him officially. Just tell us what you think of them, and if you think it’ll work. Just… how inspired you are and all that. Aaand, action!”

Right. That made sense. Marinette nodded and opened the envelope, pulling the picture out slowly. Blond hair… green eyes… Oh no. Nononononono. She turned her attention towards Camille. “I need a second.” she squeaked, doing her best to keep her composure as she pushed up from the chair and walked outside, closing the door quietly behind her.

Adrien Agreste. Of course her model had to be Adrien Agreste. To tell the truth, Marinette wasn’t exactly sure whether this was a big cosmic joke on her, or she was the luckiest girl in the world. Somehow, she always seemed to be stuck in the middle. She looked at the picture, pulling it out of the envelope so she could examine it more throughly.

Shit shit shit shit. Of course Adrien had grown to be even more handsome than he was during their school years. She hadn’t seen him since they’d graduated, since school and work had consumed her life and she’d barely had enough time to see Alya and her own family. But judging by the picture, she’d certainly missed out. He’d grown into his looks… even more if that was possible. His face had to be carved from marble by baby angels, it was just that perfect. And those shoulders… and… She was clearly not over her crush.

Oh God, she was going to be working in close quarters with him. She had to make sure he got dressed and looked perfect for each walk. She would need to measure Adrien.

Marinette’s head hit the closed door with a soft thud as she covered her mouth tightly to let out a muffled shriek, stomping her feet around for good measure. This was just… no. She had not signed up for this!

She was also going to murder Alya.

And then jump off the top of the Eiffel Tower.

No. No. She could do this. She was a professional. And she was definitely mature enough to handle seeing her school crush. Even if he looked even more handsome than before. That was just a small detail she needed to deal with. After all, she was going to be working in fashion and there were many models that looked just as good as Adrien did, so there was no reason for her to freak out

After a few deep, calming breaths, Marinette felt ready to go back inside and face the camera. She opened the door cautiously, her smile sheepish as slipped back inside and sat down again. “Sorry,” she smiled at the people, doing her absolute best to look as cheerful and cool as possible. “I’m done now, so where were we?”

The look on Camille’s face was unadulterated amusement as spoke, “Marinette?” Camille’s voice seemed to be barely containing her amusement.

“Yes?”

The woman tapped her chest, mirroring the spot where Marinette’s wireless microphone was clipped. “You do know that the microphone is still on, right?” At Marinette’s panicked realization, Camille mouthed, “We heard everything.”

Marinette’s eyes widened and her hands flew to her mouth again, muffling the panicked sounds of screaming once more. The actual show hadn’t even begun and she’d managed to embarrass herself, twice.

There was no way she was going to survive this.  

Camille, on the other side, was bursting with joy. “I’m loving this one,” the woman said, nudging the camera man with a grin on her face.

The only thing Marinette was able to do in response was hide her face behind her hands and groan. There was no way she was surviving this competition, let alone today.