Chapter 1: Hopeful mornings with broken glasses
Adrien begrudgingly woke up, his incessant alarm shattering his dreams. They had been pleasant, from what he could remember. His mother had been there, safe and warm. Colors and lights had danced around him, just as they did so long ago. Adrien wondered, as he often did, what it would be like to see again. He remembered what it was like, of course, but there was only so much to draw on. He had lost his sight at a young age, due to a chance encounter with a faulty piece of construction equipment. A bolt here, a snapped belt there, and Adrien became a sunglasses aficionado. His mother and father had sued to hell and back, getting a settlement so large they could replace most equipment in Paris twice over. Although, Adrien apparently still had to model per his father's request, but that train of thought was a little too depressing this morning.
Instead, Adrien yawned and stretched, sitting up before shutting off his alarm. Still groggy, he tried to sit up straight, mentally preparing himself for the day. First, he had breakfast plans with his best buds, Me, Myself, and I, followed by lunch with rousing conversation from his inner monologue, and dinner plans under the stars. Well, there could be stars. His ceiling could look like anything at this point. Interrupted, of course, by various photo-shoots, home-schooling, and asking his father about public school.
Quickly, Adrien ran through his room, pulling himself together as quickly as he could. Of course he would almost forget about school, the one day Nathalie actually managed to convince his father it wasn't too dangerous. Under guard, of course, but that was nothing new. One of the surprisingly few benefits of having no friends over to change his room, is that he had memorized where everything was, able to walk around with confidence. Vaulting over various pieces of furniture, he scrambled together what he could only assume were the highest brands of fashion, since they had been pre-selected by Nathalie the night before, and ran out the door. Slowly, he walked back into his room, picking up his faceted cane he kept by the door. Feeling along the wall, he perused his selection of sunglasses.
"It feels like... A rimless day." He muttered, grabbing a sleek pair of glasses with metallic bands.
Items in hand, he ran down the stairs, meeting the man simply known as Guerrilla at the door. Flipping on his shades, Adrien snapped his cane to the side, locking it in place. He was thankful Guerrilla was the one escorting him today. Of all the people in his life, Guerrilla was one of the few who didn't think Adrien was made of glass. He didn't take Adrien's arm, or coddle him through life. It was a welcome change of pace, though it could get a little cold at times. Sitting in the car, Adrien could hardly keep still, ecstatic to finally learn what a school was like.
Marinette's alarm jolted her awake, almost making her fall out of bed. She was an incurably deep sleeper, so her mother had insisted on getting one of the loudest alarms on the market. How she had grown to loathe that machine. Still, she had actually woken up to her second alarm, giving her even less time to get to school.
Throwing her outfit together, she found herself once again lost in the faint birthmark along her left forearm. Everyone knew about Soulmarks, the destined first words spoken to you by your true love, but no one really ever talked about them. It was a simple fact of life, like having five fingers on each hand, or waking up just in time to be late to school. Besides, the birthmark faded after they were spoken, so if you had a mark, you hadn't met The One, simple as that. Still, she couldn't help but think that anyone who still had their mark felt the same confusion she did.
"And I felt so good about Rimless today." Seriously, what the hell did that even mean?
Shaking herself out of her confusion, she ran down the stairs, dragging her book bag behind her. With a quick breakfast and quicker goodbyes, she ran out of the bakery, making her way to school. That is, until she heard the faint ringing of the school's bell, signifying to all students outside of the grounds that they were, unfortunately, late.
Groaning, Marinette picked up in speed, barely registering the black car pulling up beside her. As she ran, she kept her eye on the main gates. It was unlikely, but they might have instituted some new rule of locking out late students, and she would not be locked out all day. Many things would go over well with her parents, but that is not one of them. She was about to change course, climb the steps three at a time, and jump through the gates for a three point landing, until she ran full speed into a blonde boy getting out of a car. They both toppled to the ground, his bodyguard standing beside himself in shocked silence. It took the two of them a moment to actually react, each for wildly different reasons.
For Adrien, he was simply shocked that someone had snuck up on him like that. Sure, he hadn't been fully paying attention, and he might have been a little too jittery with excitement, but he usually prided himself on his awareness. Still, this stranger had not only snuck up on him, but tackled him to the ground, all without him noticing a thing. She was like a ninja. A sneaky, clumsy, ninja.
For Marinette, her mind was working overtime, trying to grasp the fact that she had just tackled Adrien Agreste to the ground. Adrien Agreste. The same Adrien Agreste that she had seen a thousand times in her favorite fashion magazines. The son of her idol. Who she had just tackled to the ground. Whose sunglasses were now shattered a ways away. Who was trying to get up now.
Wincing through a scraped elbow, Adrien noticed a missing weight on his face, and reached up for his glasses. Feeling nothing but air, he started pushing off the stranger, trying to find one of his favorite pairs. Stunned, Marinette got off of him, still not quite processing everything that just happened.
Reaching his shattered glasses, he clicked his tongue, saying, "Damn. And I felt so good about Rimless today."
Finally catching up, Marinette rushed out, "Oh my gosh I am so sorry please don't hate me I didn't see you there that was my fault I was trying to get to my class and I'm gonna be late and you're blind and I just broke your sunglasses I am SO SORRY, here please take mine."
Holding out her hands, Marinette held a pair of white sunglasses, a floral print wrapping around its bands. With her head bowed, she had a perfect view of Adrien's arms, almost cradling his broken shades. And there, wrapping twice around his forearm, was a sprawling wall of text, slowly fading into his skin.
The last words to go were, "Please take mine."
And that was when Marinette screamed.
Chapter 2: Questions, and a Few Answers
Adrien prided himself on his awareness. With the loss of his vision, he had to work for years to tune his other senses to pick up the slack. It didn't really replace good old fashioned sight, but it was a definite step forward. So, he forced himself to pay attention to what others willfully ignored. The sulfurous sting of construction. The overpowering scent of a crowd. The light tapping of branches on glass. The creak of old wood. The whispers behind closed doors. Every now and again, he could even pick out the hum of electricity inside his walls. All of this painted a tapestry of the world around him that would rival the old masters. So, to say he was surprised when a stranger managed to sneak up on him and tackle him to the ground would be an understatement.
And then she started screaming. And running. And apparently she dropped something made of plastic. Reaching out, he wrapped his hands around the familiar outline of sunglasses, thick bands leading to wide oval shades. They were obviously cheaper than the pairs his father got him, their construction leaving much to be desired, but he wasn't one to complain. Remembering what she had yelled out, he took them as a gift, slipping them on with muttered thanks.
Guerrilla finally broke through his surprise, rushing to Adrien's side. With hardly a grunt of effort, he lifted Adrien off of the ground, returning his dropped cane, and normally, that would be it. This time, however, Guerrilla didn't let go of his arm. He was instead twisting it from side to side, apparently looking for something. With his guard's persistence, Adrien worried the wound on his elbow might have been worse than expected, but overall his arm felt fine. If anything, his arm felt better than before, an unnoticed pressure releasing in the fall.
Yet, he was suddenly worried by Guerrilla's sharp intake of breath. Releasing Adrien's arm, he opened his phone, navigating to Nathalie's number. After a moment, she answered with her trademark overworked tone. What always perplexed Adrien was how Guerrilla could apparently communicate in a series of grunts, even over the phone. He assumed Nathalie could understand him for the sole reason that they'd been working together for so long.
So, after a series of grunts and gasps detailing the situation, Nathalie's voice rang out, yelling, "HE DID WHAT?"
"Oh hey Marinette, how are - Where's your mark?" Alya cut herself off, pointing at her friend's arm.
Following her arm, Alya noticed three things. One, Marinette's arm was bare. Two, her eyes were surprised, nay, aghast. Three, she was blushing with enough ferocity that she looked like a ripe tomato. Realization came in the form of a strangled gasp, and Marinette simply pointing to her now bare arm. From then on, Alya would be disappointed every Christmas, for nothing could compare to the joy she felt at seeing her best friend struggle to explain that she had just found her Soulmate. Her face split in the widest grin she'd ever known, Alya grabbed her friend's wrists, and with a light tug, sent them twirling in place, giggling like a maniac. Eventually, Marinette joined in, laughing into the pavilion.
After slightly calming down, Alya finally managed to ask, "I'm so happy for you! Where are they?"
Suddenly, Marinette's face fell, looking back to the school's main gates. Putting two and two together, it honestly made sense that Marinette would run at first sight. To be faced with your soulmate, regardless of what they may look like, is a rather daunting experience. You meet a stranger, rarely under good circumstances, and fate tells you you're supposed to be together. In fact, if she hadn't literally been locked in a room when she had met hers, Alya probably would have run too. That, or Marinette just embarrassed herself and got flustered.
Regardless, Alya pressed her hand to her face, muttering, "Girl, what am I gonna do with you?" Pointing to the gates, she continued, "Go get them, and make sure to apologize for running away."
With a rushed nod, Marinette ran off, leaping through the main gates. There, she saw a burly bodyguard talking on the phone, Adrien Agreste standing to the side. She also noticed that he was wearing her sunglasses, which she probably dropped in her escape. Taking a steadying breath, Marinette squared her shoulders, and mustered what resolve she had to face this head on. Marching forward, her presence was noticed by the guard, who quickly hung up the phone and glared down at her. At least, she assumed it was a glare. It was kind of hard to tell from her angle.
Clearing her throat, she managed to squeak out, "Uh, hi. M-my name's Marinette. Marinette Dupein-Cheng."
Adrien turned to her as he asked, "Um, hi. I'm guessing you're the one that tackled me?"
"Yeah, that's me." she said, sheepishly kicking the dirt, before adding, "Sorry again, for the whole... Yeah." She chuckled, saying, "Though, I guess it was fate, wasn't it? Us meeting here."
Adrien folded his arms, furrowing his brow before asking, "And why do you say that?"
"Well duh, we're Soulmates!" She said, trying to lighten the mood. However, her face fell when he looked incredibly confused.
Figuring she was an avid fan, Adrien sighed, slumping his shoulders, eventually muttering, "One day. One day where no one knows me, is that too much to ask?" Putting on his patented Bright Smile(TM), he said, "Oh, of course. Do you have something to write with? I don't have a pen on me."
Staring between his face and his outstretched hand, she finally caught on, saying, "No, no no no no, I'm not asking for an autograph. We had each others' marks!"
Flinching away when she tried to grab his hand, Adrien turned to Guerrilla, whispering, "Do something."
Panicking now, Marinette turned to the guard, saying, "Please, you saw it. Our marks faded when we spoke to each other. What, does he... Not know about them?" Realization dawning on her, she turned to Adrien, saying, "Oh my god. How long have you been blind?"
Answering on reflex alone, since every journalist in Paris had asked that question, he said, "Nine years. Guerrilla, what is she talking about?"
Her eyes widening, Marinette whispered, "Since you're coming here... Four. You were four then. You really could not remember."
"Not remember what?" He snapped.
Throwing her hands up defensively, she begged, "Please, you must remember. Did you ever see writing on your arm? Some text or word?"
Humoring her if only to speed up this conversation, he worked to remember what his arm looked like. Not really sure what he was looking for, he pictured a pretty regular arm. Although, there was one memory her words seemed to poke at. He must have gotten his hands on a marker, because he did remember something being there on his arm. It could have been words, it was just so unclear.
Trying to clear his head, he asked, "Sure, I wrote on my arm as a kid, what, you did too? That's supposed to make us Soulmates?"
Just then, a silver car pulled up in front of the school, and Adrien heard the familiar pur of one of his father's cars, the familiar click of platform shoes, and a light grunt as the driver got out of the car.
Nathalie looked over the scene in front of her. Adrien was wearing a pair of women's sunglasses, and was apparently trying to back away from a stranger. The girl, who she assumed was the one Guerrilla mentioned on the phone, was trying to reach out to Adrien, her brow scrunched in concern. Guerrilla, for his part, was looking rather taxed and confused about the whole situation. Although, there was something else in his expression. Fear? No... Regret.
Walking up to the trio, Nathalie pointed to Guerrilla as she commanded, "You. Explain."
Moving to her side, Guerrilla began whispering in her ear. Throughout the tale, her face twisted from passive indifference, to light humor, to utter shock, before landing on some combination of surprise and horror.
Caught up, she looked to the pair, whispering, "But, but that means... I always thought Gabriel had... Oh, what am I saying, of course he wouldn't..."
Worried, Adrien asked, "Nathalie? W-what's going on?"
Looking forlorn at her own Soulmark, Nathalie sighed before saying, "Adrien. There's something we need to explain. You might not remember, but you've had a mark on your arm ever since your first birthday. It was a sentence, a phrase only one person would ever say. Everyone has one, but no one really knows why they started. Many have suspected magic, but that seems a tad outlandish for me. What we do know is, whenever that sentence is said by someone with an opposite mark, they both fade, and there are no side effects. Also, that the person who said your sentence... is your Soulmate."
Marinette added, "It's true. 'And I felt so good about Rimless today,' that was the first thing you ever said to me. I've been wondering what the hell that could mean for as long as I can remember. Did no one ever explain this?"
Adrien just shook his head, saying, "Wow. I think I need to sit down."
Marinette took Adrien's arm, thankful that he didn't shy away, and lead him to the school steps.
Once seated, he asked, "Nathalie, you have one too? And Guerrilla?"
Nathalie answered, "Yes, Adrien. Mine says, 'Drop that dog!' I guess I try to steal a dog in the future, but I gave up on worrying about it a long time ago."
Guerrilla, for his part, simply rolled up his left sleeve, revealing the words, "Are you mute too?" At Marinette's obvious confusion, he merely shrugged.
Sitting up straight, Adrien asked, "Wait a second... Was that why makeup would always put concealer on my forearm? What did they need to cover, you didn't say anything profane."
Nathalie explained, "It wasn't the content, it was the length. I'm guessing you got flustered and said everything on your mind?" She asked to Marinette. At her embarrassed nod, Nathalie continued, "Of course. It was such a run on sentence that makeup reduced it to its last three words for the sake of the picture."
Rubbing his forehead, Adrien said, "Okay, but... If all that's true..." He finally faced Marinette, who had yet to let go of his hand, as he said, "... Hi."
Marinette beamed one of her brightest smiles, saying, "Hi."
"I guess we need to talk."
"Only if you want to."
"Of course I do, why wouldn't I?"
"Well, you're Adrien Agreste, and I'm just me."
"I don't even know you, and you only really know my father's name."
Nathalie cleared her throat, saying, "We'll leave you two to get acquainted." Nodding to Guerrilla, they moved to their respective cars. Far enough for privacy, but close enough to act if things got out of hand.
A hush fell over the pavilion, neither really certain where to take it from there. They each fidgeted on the steps, trying to get comfortable for what they could only assume would be a long conversation. That is, whenever it started. After the silence had grown to be an awkward one, they realized they were still holding hands, and that seemed to break the ice.
"So," they said in unison.
Adrien held up his hand, saying, "Please, you first."
Marinette took a deep breath before saying, "So. I'm not sure what to do here."
"Oh thank god, I thought I was the only one." Adrien sighed in relief, his posture falling in ease.
After a pause, she added, "That was really all I was gonna say. What were you thinking?"
"Well, I was gonna say I wasn't all that good at this." Adrien said, vaguely waving in the air.
"This whole Soulmate thing? Me neither."
Shaking his head, Adrien corrected, "No, this whole Friend thing. I've only really had one."
Confused and slightly worried, Marinette asked, "Just friends? Do... Do I need to explain what a Soulmate is?"
Waving his hand dismissively, Adrien said, "No, I get that part. Some birthmark we had told us we should marry each other. But I don't know. It doesn't really sound right that we should blindly follow that. If that does happen, if we do end up dating, I want that to be because we both want to, not because we think we need to. So, for now, friends?" With that, Adrien reached out with his unoccupied hand, as if a handshake would seal some pact between them.
Marinette blinked for a moment, thinking, "That was the sweetest thing I've ever heard. Oh my god. I'm gonna marry this boy."
Begrudgingly letting go of Adrien's right hand, Marinette shook his left, saying, "Right. Friends. Besides, I'm not sure I've got the right sole on for all that soul stuff." At Adrien's blank expression, she explained, "You know, like a shoe-"
"No, I got it." He interrupted.
Meanwhile, he was thinking, "That was one of the best puns I've ever heard. Oh my god. I'm gonna marry this girl."