Chapter 1: One fourth of a first date
Marinette and Adrien make an attempt at having their first real date.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Carefully she blew out the last candle.
The trail of smoke coming from it, dancing upward in an elegant manner in the remaining light in the room.
“I’m sorry.” She heard Adrien mutter from his spot on the couch.
Marinette shot him a patient smile.
If she had learned anything in recent years, it was that sometimes even her most well thought out plan could be flipped on it's head on a whim.
This was just another one of those times.
“Don’t be. You messaged me that you were going to be running late.”
“That’s no excuse. We planned this and...I didn't think it would go on for another two hours.”
The young woman turned to see a defeated look on her partner’s face.
One she had seen too many times over the past few months.
“It’s also not your fault.”
“Listen Chaton…” She made her way towards him, plopping down on her mother’s couch. Sitting close enough to let their shoulders touch. “We both know these meetings for the sake of the company have been eating up most of your time. I am not now, not ever, going to blame you for not being able to make it to a date. Because I know you have little control over these meetings and they are needed to fix the mess that man has left behind.”
“Still...it feels like I’m putting my work before you. Before everyone else. And I don’t want that. That’s what he did and…”
“Adrien. It’s not your fault. You’re doing what you need to do and it’s only temporary right? Besides, you still made it here.”
“It’s been a long ‘temporary’ six months though.” He chuckled. “And I needed to see you. I feel like I don’t see you enough these days.”
“Well with Nino and Alya on their honeymoon, I am going to need my co-host back for those baking videos. We should be able to spend more time together that way if you want to?”
The defeated look on his face was quickly replaced with one of determination. “Mari. I’ll be there. I promise.”
Her lips curled up into another smile before the young woman let her head rest against him.
“Thank you. It will be fun, just the two of us.”
“I’m still sorry. We planned this. Tonight was going to be…”
He nodded. “In a way. I mean...you already seemed to have made it special and why wouldn’t you. This was supposed to be our official first date.”
Adrien gestured to the scene before them.
Aside from the blown out candles, Marinette had gone the extra length to place a few red roses around the room.
Two of which sitting in a small vase near their empty dinner plates.
“I wanted it to be romantic.” The dark haired girl pouted. “For you.”
He let out a small chuckle. “Now I feel even more guilty for being late.”
“So what if you’re late for dinner and this wasn’t supposed to be a casual hangout like we usually do. Maybe I did end up wasted a good hour getting all of this ready between baking the sixth batch of croissants and decorating cupcakes today.”
“That actually sounds impressive.”
“Thank you. But I want to say...despite all the setbacks tonight, you’re still here and we can still spend time together. I don’t know about you, but that’s the most important thing to me.”
“I know...it’s just...I’m not going to lie Bug. I’m a little disappointed.”
“With? Oh. Oh don’t tell me I needed to use more roses.”
“No! No. Just with myself. I mean...this is the first time in months where we don’t have to run around helping our friends arranging their wedding. Most of the bullshit with the company was supposed to resolved already. I was so certain I was going to be able to make it tonight and not finish up late.”
“Adrien. Didn’t you listen to what I just said? You’re here. That’s all that matters to me.”
She watched as he let himself fall against the back of the couch.
His head thrown back as far as the piece of furniture allowed.
Marinette could clearly see the exhaustion on his face, despite it being somewhat dark in the room.
It pained her whenever he forced a smile her way.
At this point, she had no doubt that the whole ordeal with Gabriel had left some emotional scars on her partner.
Scars, she hoped, would heal in due time.
“Do you want to sleep over? Have breakfast with me and maman?”
“That sounds nice Bug.”
“We might have trouble pulling Tikki and Plagg away from their shows and off the bed though.” She tried to joke.
He lifted his head and gave her a smile.
Another forced one, she quickly realised.
It absolutely didn't suit him.
Marinette wasn’t even sure what happened until she found herself being pulled against him.
Her head resting on his chest.
His chin nestling in her dark hair.
“This is a good spot for a nap too.” He continued.
“Maman will find us when she gets back from madame Chamack’s. You do know that right?”
“Not the first time Princess.”
Her Chaton let out a short chuckle before a brief moment of silence fell between them.
For a while, all she could hear was the ticking of the clock in the kitchen, their own breathing and his steady heartbeat.
“Have I thanked you by the way?”
“For what?” She found herself asking with a hint of confusion in her voice.
“For sticking by me. For being so understanding. Despite not being able to spend as much time with you as before the last few months.”
“Yeah.” Marinette sighed softly. “You have. More than I can count.”
“Well...thank you again Bugaboo.” He moved to place a short kiss against her cheek. “Thank you.”
“You do you know you don’t have to thank me for that. Right?”
Another kiss was pressed against her cheek.
The arm he had wrapped around her, pressing her closer against him.
“I know. But it just...how did you say it again back then? It feels right to. Because...well...I don’t know. It still feels so unreal that I almost lost you last year and every morning I wake up, I feel so lucky to still have you in my life. To have you like this in my life.”
The baker’s daughter felt a blush creep up on her cheeks.
She couldn’t help it.
The way he spoke so fondly about her never ceased to make her heart stop beating for a few milliseconds.
Even if he exhaustion dripped off every word passing his lips.
“Me too. I mean! I...I’m really happy we’re together. I’m happy I get to tell you how much I love you. Even if it’s not always straight to your face.”
He loosened the grip on her shoulder.
A slight frown on his face.
“I’ve eh...I’ve been thinking about something these past few months. And the other day at Nino’s and Alya’s wedding...when we talked about having a family well...”
“Yes?” She asked.
“Since then I actually wanted to ask you something. Well...no...since before that even.”
“You can ask me anything. You know that Chaton.”
“I know. It’s just.... I can understand if you need time to give me an answer....and it’s not like I haven’t asked you this before….but… Do you want to move in together? Or at least think about it?”
She wasn’t sure how to react to that.
Let alone answer that.
A big part of her screamed at her that she should accept his offer.
An equally big part held her back from answering directly, because...
“What about maman.”
She couldn’t leave the woman alone in this big, empty, house.
She draped her arm over his stomach, letting her head once agains rest on his chest.
“I’ll think about it.” Marinette muttered softly before closing her eyes.
He didn’t respond, nor push her to give a definite answer.
The blonde's breathing only became a tad more shallow.
His heartbeat slightly more slower.
It wasn't long until she found herself being lulled to sleep by the sound of his soft snores.
I got half an idea of where I wanted a sequel to 'a matter of family business' to be.
So eh...here it is I guess.
Hoping to add some major fluff in this one!
That doesn't mean there won't be sad moments because I do love writing me some feelsy moment.
Not sure how long this story will be but I hope you'll find it a pleasant regardless. ^^
The first chapter is going to be short, the other ones will be longer.
Takes place almost directly after the ending of the first story.
So I guess that's a series now???
Also English is not my first language so sorry in advance for any spelling errors and such.
Chapter 2: Change of plans
If the first time you don't succeed...try again?
“I hate you.” Marinette muttered sleepily.
Adrien let out a amused chuckle while he poured her cup with freshly made coffee.
Knowing very well she didn’t mean a word she had just said.
“You hate waking up this early.” Her mother gently corrected with a smile. “That’s not Adrien’s fault dear”
“No. No it is. I dropped by late last night. Mari stayed up to wait for me while she could have gone to bed early instead.”
A brief smile flashed on his partner’s soft lips. “It was worth it. But I still hate you for waking me up so early.”
“Then allow me to make it up to you Marinette.” He carefully shoved the cup of coffee over the kitchen table and towards the young woman.
“Maybe I’ll allow that. It all depends on how you are planning to do that.”
“I don’t have anything on my schedule for today just yet. Let’s...give your mother the day off?” He turned towards Sabine who just shot him a grateful smile. “I’ll help you in the bakkery this morning and we’ll have the whole afternoon to ourselves.”
“And then what?”
“We could get a late lunch somewhere? A nice walk along the Seine. Have a improvised do-over of our date?”
“Hmm…” Carefully Marinette took a sip from her coffee. “Alright. Sounds good.”
“Will you be able to handle it down there Adrien?”
“Sure. No problem madame Cheng. It hasn’t been that long since I last helped out.”
“A little over two months.” Sabine once again corrected her daughter. “But we know it was because you were busy.”
“Not by choice.”
“We know.” The older woman nodded. “It can’t be easy, trying to keep your father’s company afloat after everything that has happened.”
“It’s not. But...I’m trying my best to keep everyone happy and employed. I’m expecting the meetings with the shareholders and the higher ups to go down after next month.”
“That’s when the numbers from last season come in right?”
He nodded at Marinette. “If we make a well enough profit, I’m sure they’ll shut up and stop demanding meetings for a good while and I can focus more on my department and the bakery again.”
“Sounds like you should focus on taking a vacation first.” Sabine remarked.
He really did not have a reply to that.
The widow was right of course.
Adrien wanted nothing more than to just take a good, long, break somewhere sunny surrounded by clear water and white, sandy beaches.
Marinette beside him, sipping on a fruity drink with a colorful umbrella in it.
Tikki and Plagg napping in the warm sand.
But Adrien knew that he couldn’t just go and take a vacation.
Not now anyway.
He let out a tired chuckle. “Maybe next year. For now. I think you should focus on having a day off madame Cheng.”
“He’s right maman! You’ve earned that. You could go shopping or visit papa or…”
“Or clean up some things around here.”
Marinette made a face that Adrien could only describe as a mixture of disbelief and surprise.
“Are you sure you don’t want to spend your day at a spa or something?” The blonde suggested
“I’m sure. There are some...things I need to clean up. Today is a good day to start doing that.”
“Okay. If you’re sure maman.”
“Only if you’re sure you two will be able to handle the bakery today.”
“Of course!” He exclaimed with confidence in his voice. “We make an amazing team! We can handle it.”
His partner nodded with a smile. “Adrien can man the front, I’ll do all the baking. We’ll be fine.”
“And if we somehow mess things up, we’ll come running back to you for help.”
“But we won’t!” She was quick to interject. “Because we can handle it.”
He nodded. “So don’t worry.”
“You both sound very confident that you’ll be able to work the morning rush.” The mother laughed. “So I trust that things will go just fine.”
“Great! So. I’m just going to take my coffee and my half awake brain and get a head start on making the bread. I’m sure the mixer should be done by now.”
“Can you handle making cupcakes?”
“Sure can ma cherie.”
“Then let’s go Chaton.” Marinette let herself slide of the chair, coffee cup in one hand and pecked a short kiss against her mother’s cheek. “Enjoy your day maman. We’ll be downstairs if you need anything okay.”
He walked over to the older woman to give her a short hug. In the background, he could hear the door to the apartment open and close. No doubt Marinette really wanted to get that head start on the day. “Don’t worry. We can handle things.”
“I’m not worried.” She whispered back softly. “And thank you, for doing this. I actually needed some time off.”
He let go of her and gave her a tired smile.“I had a feeling that was the case. See you at the end of the morning madame Cheng.”
“Don’t forget your coffee.”
“Right! Right.” Quickly he took his own cup from the kitchen table. “I’m going to need this. Badly.”
A soft humming filled the kitchen the moment he walked in the bakker's kitchen.
Every now and then it was interrupted bij the sound of a big slab of dough being turned around on the metal workspace.
A faint layer of flour dusting her cheeks.
“You seem in a good mood for someone who hates me.” He joked.
“That’s because I’m looking forward to spending the day with you. It’s been a while.”
“Yeah.” Adrien sighed, putting down his cup and pulling up the sleeves of his shirt. “More than a while.”
“Not your fault.”
“So you keep reminding me.”
“Well it’s true Adrien. It’s not your fault.” She turned over the dough once again before continuing to knead it. “You did everything you could to safe the reputation of that man’s company. Press statements, interviews, moving people left and right within the company itself. I have no idea how you even managed to keep your own department in check at the same time.”
“I...have no idea either.” He sighed. “I just...try y’know. Nathalie helps me out, being a shared owner soon and all. But I’ll be honest, I have no idea how I manage to go from day to day sometimes.” He let out a soft chuckle.
“Well...I hope that’ll change soon. You look more and more tired every time I see you. No offence by the way.”
He gave his girlfriend a quick peck on her cheeks. “None taken. Because I feel tired and I can only assume it shows since your mom suggested that I’d take a vacation.”
“You’d be assuming right.”
“Good to know. So eh...you wanted cupcakes right?”
“Yup. Twenty should be enough for a morning rush. Cupcakes usually go fast after lunch anyway.”
“I’m on it!”
“Thank you Kitty.”
“Wait! Wait. One more thing.”
Wrapping his arms around her waist, he proceeded to hug her from the back.
Burying his nose in the crook of her neck.
Earning a small shriek from the woman.
“I love you.”
She let out a chuckle. “I love you too Chaton.”
Carefully he placed his lips against the skin on her bare shoulder earning a soft humm from the woman.
“You know I like it when you kiss me there but I really...really need--”
“Don’t you mean knead.” He smiled against her neck as she let out a soft groan.
“I need to knead the dough to make the bread.”
“Do we have time for one more?”
“O-Okay. One mo--”
Before she could even finish her sentence, or he could place that last kiss on her neck, the sound of a phone ringing filled the kitchen.
Adrien pulled away a bit in surprise. “That’s not mine.”
Who would be calling this early in the morning?
“That’s me. Could you Kitty? It’s in the front of my apron. I would pick it up but….” She held up her flour covered hands.
“No problem Bugaboo.” He hugged her waist tightly for a second, placing that one last kiss against her neck, before a hand slipped into the front pocket of her apron.
Fishing out the device, the blonde was quick answer it.
“This is the phone of the amazing, wonderful, gorgeous, Marinette Dupain-Cheng. She can’t answer the phone right now, can I--”
“Just put me on speaker Adrikins! I’m having an emergency! I need to speak to Dupain-Cheng!”
“Oh...hey Chlo. Didn’t peg you for a morning person.”
“I’m not! I’m just...freaking out right now! I need her help! Is she up yet?”
“Yeah. Hold on.” Adrien leaned forward again, close enough to whisper in her ear. “It’s Chloé. She wants to speak to you?”
His partner nodded and Adrien put the phone on speaker-mode. Letting go of his girlfriend in the process.
“Good morning Chloé.” The dark haired woman greeted.
“Marinette! I need your expertise. It’s an emergency!”
“My expertise in….what exactly?”
“Fashion of course. Duh.”
The both of them shared a look and a smile.
“I’m just eh...going to start on those cupcakes.” He whispered.
Marinette gave him a nod. “Fashion huh? You’re plenty fashionable though.”
“I know but...No! It’s just...ugh...I have a date tonight?”
“A date? Chlo that’s huge. I haven’t heard you mention a date since...forever.” Adrien remarked as he opened the cooler to take out the ingredients he needed.
“I know! That’s why I need the help. It’s been so long I’m super nervous and ready to puke and it isn’t until tonight but...but...I need a second opinion on what I should wear.”
“Please Dupain-- Marinette. Please? I want to make a good impression and with Alya on honeymoon I have nobody else to ask.”
“Okay. Okay. I’ll help. I’m busy in the bakery right now, so why don’t you snap some pics of what you want to wear and send them me and I’ll help you out.”
“No! I can’t wear anything I already own!”
Adrien shook his head in amusement.
Breaking the amount of eggs he would need in a separate bowl.
Of course his childhood friend would want something new.
“So how can I help you exactly?”
“Go shopping with me. Please? This afternoon when you’re done. You only work in the morning’s on Saturday right?”
“Y-Yeah but...I already made plans with Adrien for the afternoon.”
“Marinette. Please.” The blonde woman pleaded again. “I can’t make a good impression on Nora without your keen eye for fashion.”
That name sounded familiar.
“Nora. Nora.... You don’t mean...Nora, Nino-I’ll-squish-your-head-like-a-watermelon-between-my-thighs-if-you-hurt-my-little-sis Césaire right?” He asked.
“Uhm, yeah. We got talking during the wedding last week and she called yesterday to ask me out.”
“I’m happy for you Chloé. I really am but...I really do have plans with Adrien this afternoon. I don’t know if..” She turned towards her partner.
“It shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours right?” He shrugged. “If I tag along, we can get some dinner somewhere afterwards. We can still have our date. A win, win?”
Marinette nodded. “A couple of hours. Will that be enough?”
“Yes! Absolutely! Thank you Dupain-Che-- Marinette. Thank you Marinette. I’m still learning. Sorry.”
“It’s okay. I know you mean well.”
“Meet me at Champs Élysées at two?”
“Yeah we can make it at two.”
“Awesome! Thank you again. See you both this afternoon. Toodles!”
With a sound of a click the line went dead on the other side.
“Really? Anansi? Of all the people in the world.”
“Adrien. She sounded really happy about having this date.”
“I am happy for her! But it’s a surprise hearing that she’s going with Alya’s big sister. Do you think Al knows?”
Marinette shrugged. “Even if she doesn’t, I’m not going to bother her on her honeymoon to ask. It’s not our business to meddle with that.”
“You’re right. Chlo can handle herself perfectly fine.”
“And we’ll still have ourselves a nice date. Some dinner, a nice walk alongside the Seine. Maybe even a movie. We can stretch our legs on the rooftops before calling it a night?”
“God. That sounds amazing! We haven’t gone for a run around the city in a while.”
“Couple of months. Besides, master Fu told us to keep our skills sharp. Just in case some new villain decides to drop by.”
“How eh...how are the lessons with him going by the way?”
“Good! Really good. I...I eh miss you. He understands by the way, he doesn’t blame you, but it’s fun when we both get to have the lessons together. Less boring.”
The smile on his face dropped. “I know. I really wish I could be there more. At this point I’m actually surprised he isn’t demanding the ring back himself.”
“Like I’ll let him.” She snorted.
“Thank you. For having my back.”
“Always Kitty.” She shot him a loving smile.
“So...do you eh...want to continue where we left off before Chloé called? Tonight I mean.”
“Oh eh... “ A pink hue started to tint her cheeks. “Y-Yes. I’d like that. We haven’t kissed like that in a while either.”
“I know. I’m going to try to make up for the time we lost.”
“There is not as much lost as you think Adrien.”
“I’m not going to let what we have slip away further either.”
“Thank you! Have a nice day.”
The bell to the front door rung loudly as the last customer left the bakery.
Adrien pulled a wet rag over the kitchen’s countertops.
The smell of the detergent wasn’t enough to overpower the smell of fresh bread however.
“That was the last one.” Marinette exclaimed, walking towards him.
“Awesome. I’m done here too, which means…” He threw the rag into the nearest sink. “I can touch you again.”
The blonde took hold of her face in a gentle way.
A small smirk appearing on her face before their lips met.
Her hands sneaked around him to rest on his upper back, pulling him a little closer towards her.
“No need to thank me for kissing you Bug.”
“I meant for your help.” She giggled.
“No need to thank me for that either.” He laughed before pressing another kiss on her pink lips. “Now, shall we go get that little menace and Tikki? We’d probably still have time to have a quick lunch somewhere before we meet up with Chloé.”
“Yeah, sounds good. I hope we’ll be able to actually pull them away from their shows.”
“Me too.” He groaned. “It’s not that I don’t want them to relax and stuff, but I’m pretty sure they’ve watched all of Netflix twice at this point.”
“At least twice. They’re bored probably. That’s why I can’t get mad at Plagg anymore for shoving things of my desk. Or Tikki for sleeping a lot.”
“I honestly envy them.”
“Me too. When was the last time we had a movie night together?”
Now that was a question he wasn’t able to answer without pulling up his schedule.
“I don’t even remember.”
“Are we...doing something wrong Adrien? I think we might be doing something wrong.”
“I guess the fact that we haven’t been able to have a proper first date yet, despite being together for almost a year might have been a good indication we aren’t doing everything by the book.”
“Do you...think we should have a set hang out day or something?”
“I don’t want the times we hang out to be mandatory. I don’t want to force you to spend time with me.”
“Same here actually. Besides, I know how exhausted you get when you’ve had nothing but late nighters and long meetings in a week. You should be able to take some time to yourself and rest up when you need it instead of...well...forcing yourself to spend time with me. I want to give us room to do our own thing too.”
“I guess that brings us back to the main question. What are we doing wrong?”
“I think...and hear me out here Bug...I think my schedule is to blame.”
She looked at him with a raised brow. “How so?”
“Like you said. Too many meetings. Long hours. Not enough time to spend together. While your schedule is consistent.”
“Okay...yeah that’s true. But if the numbers from last season are good, you should have a more room to breath too right?”
“Absolutely. Which means, more time I’m going to spend with you.” He booped her nose.
“I can wait for that.”
“And we’ll just have to make out twice as hard the times we can spend together.”
“Now that…” Adrien took hold of her waist, one hand on her back.
Promptly he dipped her body down.
The girl in his arms laughing loudly at the sudden action. “That is a marvelous idea my Lady.”
He placed a few butterfly kisses on her face before pulling her back up.
“I’m glad we agree Chaton.” Marinette laughed. “Now, how about we go up and get our Kwami huh?”
“And then some lunch. I’m starving and in the mood for something drowning in pesto.”
She laughed again. “Seriously?”
She shook her head, clearly not really believing him.
How could she when he still wore a huge smile on his face.
“Come on you dork.”
“Right behind you My Lady.”
The couple hurried out of the kitchen and back up to the apartment.
Once inside, he noticed that madame Cheng wasn’t in the living room.
Did she go out?
Marinette didn’t seem too worried about the absence of her mother as she went straight up to her room.
“I’ll wait here for you Bug. Let me know if you-know-who is being difficult.”
“Will do Chaton.”
It didn’t take much time for the dark haired woman to disappear through the trapdoor leading to her room.
Her footsteps being heard through the ceiling soon after.
Looking around the room once again, he wondered if Sabine had left a note that she was going out.
She certainly seemed like the type of mother to do so.
Nothing seemed out of place or drawing his immediate attention however.
Nothing aside from his own coat, which he had casually thrown over the back of the couch the night prior.
“Yes?” Came the swift reply from somewhere nearby.
It sounded like it came from a little passed the bathroom.
The only chamber of the entire Dupain-Cheng household he had not been in which was, what he always guessed to be, the master bedroom.
He quickly grabbed his coat from the sofa and put it on. “We’re done for the morning.”
“Ah good! Was it busy?”
“Very.” He made his way passed the staircase towards Marinette’s room and noticed a open door. “But nothing we couldn’t handle.”
“I’m eh...I’m taking Mari out for lunch.” Carefully he dared to step inside of the room.
A room which looked not that different from the rest of the apartment.
A wooden floor.
Light grey and white bed sheets resting on the queen sized bed.
Madame Cheng herself sat on her knees in front of a large, dark wooden closet.
The doors and cabinets of which wide open, displaying all the neatly folded clothes in there.
The woman herself was surrounded by discarded clothing articles and a couple of trash bags.
“I’m sure she’ll like that.” Sabine turned around with a smile.
Although Adrien had been around the woman long enough also see the pained look on her face.
“Are you...are you alright?”
“I’m fine. I’m just...reminiscing.”
“In the bedroom sweetheart!” Marinette’s mother called back to her.
“Maman. I’m going out for--” She suddenly came to a halt right next to him. “What are you doing?”
“Going through your father’s clothes and throwing them out.”
“All of them?” The blonde caught himself asking in surprise.
“That’s the plan. Although I am having difficulty putting away the ones he used to wear all the time. His pajamas. Things that just remind me of him in an instant.”
“Well...maybe you shouldn’t then. Throw them out I mean.” Marinette muttered.
“I need to. It’s been well over a year Marinette. I can’t keep holding on to things belonging to your father.”
“Well...I mean...you can.” Adrien remarked. “But it’s good to let things go.”
“Need eh...need help mom?”
“No. I’ll be fine Marinette. You kids enjoy your date this afternoon.” Once again the woman gave them a smile.
Less forced and more reassuring this time.
“Oh...okay. If you’re sure. Ehm...we’re heading out. I’m probably sleeping over at Adrien’s? Is that okay?”
“Of course it is! I will see you both in the morning then.”
“Y-Yeah. See you tomorrow maman.”
“Enjoy the rest of your day madame Cheng.”
“I will. Have fun you two.”
Marinette’s hand took hold of his own and gently pulled him out of the apartment.
The moment the door closed he knew something wasn’t right.
In those few seconds she had that conversation with her mother, the air around his partner seemed to have shifted to one that was not as positive as it had been all morning.
The slight frown and anxious look on her face was also a clear indication to him something was on his girlfriend’s mind.
“Mari? Are you okay Princess?”
“Hmmm? Y-Yeah. Yeah why do you ask?”
“You seem a little...distraught.”
“I’m fine.” Came her short reply. “Plagg is in my purse by the way.”
“I’m sure he’ll be comfortable there, but...I don’t really believe you’re fine. You don’t seem fine. You know you can talk to me if something is on your mind Bug.”
“I know. I...I’m fine. There’s nothing wrong.” She gave him a small smile. “I’m starving! How about we get some pasta somewhere!”
He still didn’t really believe her, as her brows were still furrowed and she had tried to change the subject twice already.
Still he chose not to press on.
He knew better than to do that.
If something was on her mind, she would come to him.
He wasn’t going to pull it out of her.
“Pasta sounds good Bug.”
“Stop looking at me like that!” His childhood friend scoffed.
“Like I’m crazy Adrikins!”
“I’m not saying you’re crazy! I just don’t get why you’d want to go on a date with Anansi. You two just don’t seem...compatible.”
“Listen, because she’s not your type doesn’t mean she isn’t anyone’s type.”
“So you have a thing for women who can snap your spine in half without breaking a sweat?” He asked with a skeptical tone in his voice.
“You’re so weird Chlo.”
“There is nothing weird being attracted to women who have a bit of muscle. The first girl I fell in love with was strong and a little muscular and if she were to drop in here right now and ask me if she could crush my skull between her legs, just to see if she could, I would let her.”
“Oh my God.” He chuckled. “And who might this mystery woman be whom is the cause of your lesbian awakening?”
“Ladybug of course.”
Next to him he heard Marinette sputter and half choke on the sip of tea she was taking.
“Ladybug huh?” Adrien grinned before turning towards his partner, placing a comforting hand on her back while she coughed. “You okay Mari?”
“Y-Yeah.” Her raspy voice eventually answered. “I’m fine. So...eh...Ladybug?”
“Fair enough. I’d let her break every bone in my body if she wanted to. So does over half of Paris I think.” Adrien shrugged.
Soon after he felt Marinette giving him a playful kick underneath the table.
“Right?! So, do you see why Nora is my type? She’s like Ladybug only more...you know.” The blonde raised her arms and pretended to flex them to make her point.
“I see it. I understand it, I just genuinely didn’t think she was your type but I hope things go well between you two it’s just…”
“None of your business.” Marinette reminded him.
“Right. None of my business. But if she’ll hurt you in any way let us know and we’ll try to kick her ass for you.” He joked.
“I’d pay good money to see you try that.” Chloé laughed. “But it’s utterly ridiculous you’d even think we’ll end in a relationship. I hardly know her, I’m just hoping to have a nice date and we’ll probably part ways as unlikely acquaintances anyway and that’s fine with me.”
“But...you still want to go shopping for a new outfit with that mindset?”
“Uhm. Of course I want to! Can you even imagine? Me? Showing up, wearing something so last season?! Utterly ridiculous! A good first impression is a must Marinette. Even if it’s just for one date.”
He turned to his partner, wanting to ask what the blonde even meant by that, only to realize that Marinette was giving him a puzzled look herself.
“Don’t look at me Bug. We’ve seen each other with bedhead. We’re way past needing a good first impression of each other.”
He was expecting a snarky comment back, but all he got was a short nod.
“Are you okay Dupain-Cheng? You're awfully quiet today.”
“Yeah. Yeah. Just a little tired. So in what kind of direction should we be looking when it comes to outfits? Cute? Sexy? Professional?”
“Casual attractive. Something that says I’m ready for a nice night, but not something that clearly lets her know I tried too hard getting ready.”
“Can you work with that?”
“Wonderful! Oh! Maybe we can look at some baby clothes for Alya too. We can never start giving her little one cute outfits too early!” Chloé beamed.
“Wait. How….How do you know she’s pregnant?” She turned to look at Adrien.
“I swear I didn’t tell her!”
The other blonde rolled her eyes. “Nobody had to really tell me anything. It was pretty clear something was up when she had me order her a case of her favorite wine for the wedding, but didn’t end up drinking a drop of it herself. So I asked her and she confirmed my suspicion.”
“So? What do you say? Do you think she’ll like it if we gift her something for the baby when she comes back?”
“I don’t know? I think she’d appreciate it. But...eh...maybe another day?”
“Right! Right. You two have a date or something. I almost forgot.”
“It’s supposed to be our official, first date.” Adrien added.
“Really? How on Earth haven’t you guys been on a first date yet? You both hang out at least once a week.”
“We hang out. We don’t go out Chlo.”
“Ridiculous. Utterly Ridiculous. But whatever makes you happy I guess.”
“Are we ready to go?” He asked, giving both of the women a look.
“I could actually go for another cappuccino.” Chloé smiled sweetly.
“Okay… Mari? Anything else you want?”
“Another cup of tea Bug?”
“Oh eh...sure. I could go for one more.”
“You really seem out of it today Dupain-Cheng.”
“I’m just a little tired, like I said and I’m...thinking about how your perfect outfit should look like.”
The mayor’s daughter seemed content with that answer as she gave her a smile. “As you should. But maybe you should get some caffeine to keep yourself awake instead of tea?”
“You’ll need it. Shopping with that one is quite the sport.” Adrien whispered with a teasing tone in his voice.
“Coffee it is then.”
“Then it’s off to Madelaine’s! I’ve heard they got their new collection in today! I’m sure there’s something in there that would suit me. But. I’m leaving it up to you as my personal fashion expert for the day to decide what’s best.”
“Something in the direction of a ‘little black dress’ maybe? Can’t go wrong with the classics.”
“Yes! I like the way you think. I knew asking you for help was the right thing!”
Adrien couldn’t help but smile a little as Marinette’s eyes lit up the moment she could really talk fashion.
Offering Chloé ideas of what she could wear and what she shouldn’t wear.
Advice he was only half listening too, as he quickly found himself drowning in her eyes.
Admiring the freckles on her skin and the way the sun made it seem like she was glowing.
“Earth to Adrikins!”
“Hmm?” The blonde looked up, being snapped out of his thoughts.
Marinette’s warm hand gently patted his upper leg. “Ready to go Kitty?”
“Yeah. Yeah of course.”
“Maybe we can even find you something Marinette.” Chloé happily declared as she stood up from her seat. “I can’t even remember the last time we went shopping for clothes together.”
“My point exactly! You must be in dire need of something new for your wardrobe. Right? A woman can never have too many clothes after all.”
“My closet would disagree.” The baker’s daughter joked, cracking a smile. “Aside from that, I don’t really have enough money for new clothes right now. Let alone a new wardrobe.”
“Ridiculous. Utterly ridiculous. Are you or aren’t you, dating a literal millionaire?”
He shared a look with his girlfriend and gave a shrug.
He honestly didn’t care much if she wanted him to pay for some new clothes.
Marinette worked hard.
She deserved something nice.
Aside from that, he still owed her for ruining the previous evening.
Even if she didn’t blame him for anything.
“No.” She sternly told him. “I know that look. No. I don’t need anything new and I don’t want you to buy it for me.”
“I have literally no problem showering you with gifts Princess. You know that.”
“I know. I’m the one who has a problem with that.”
He let out a chuckle.
“Yeah. No. We’re getting you something Marinette.” Chloé announced. “Like, maybe something sparkly or cute.”
“We?” She asked with a raised brow.
“Of course! If you’re not letting Adrikins buy you something, then I’m going to. Because you’re helping me out and because I’m your friend and because it’s the easiest way to show you I’m not as much as a bitch as I used to be.”
“You don’t have to buy me--”
Chloé grabbed her by the arm. “No, no. I insist.”
“I guess you’ll have to pick Mari.” Adrien chuckled. “Either I buy you something, or Chlo will.”
“You guys are horrible!”
“Ridiculous. We just want to show you some appreciation through buying you overpriced material possessions. That’s how daddy shows he cares for me.”
“You don’t have to...I mean. I’m okay with just being friends with you Chloé. You don’t have to buy me anything just because we happen to be friends.”
The blonde suddenly gasped. “Except a friendship bracelet!”
“It’s going to be so cute! I’ll have once custom made for you and Alya and me! It’ll be perfect!”
“Oh...well...I don’t know if we’re that close as friends?”
“Nonsense! You’re here, helping me, while you could have stuck to your guns and go on that date.”
“She’s right.” Adrien muttered.
“Is it too late to ditch her?” Marinette whispered back as Chloé continued to ramble about friendship bracelets.
“Yes it is. Come on, I’ll buy you something cute and lacey instead.”
“Sounds like that’s more for you than for me.”
“Very perceptive of you Bugaboo.” He winked. “But seriously, I know your spending money has gone to fabric for Jagged Stone’s costumes lately.”
“He’ll pay me back at the end of the month.”
“I know Bug. But that doesn’t mean you have to hold back to getting something you want or need.”
“I don’t want or need anything.”
The good mood she had for a good half hour had vanished.
A sign he wasn’t going to urge her on to get something nice for herself.
“Okay. But let me know if you change your mind.”
“You’re going to love it!” The mayor’s daughter loudly exclaimed about, what Adrien assumed, was still the bracelet she was planning to buy.
He could only watch Marinette force a smile and nod politely.
It had taken no more than an hour for Chloé and Marinette to settle on a outfit for the blonde’s date with Anansi.
Which his childhood friend, by no means, took as a reason to stop her shopping spree.
It wasn’t long until he was carrying four of her bags, the sun was starting to set and she had happily dragged them both into a jewelry store.
“How are you not tired yet?” Marinette sighed as she was practically pulled into the brightly lit store.
Chloé wore a proud look as she answered. “Experience.”
“Won’t you run out of time to get ready for tonight?”
“Of course not Adrikins! I’ve got plenty of time. Don’t you worry.”
Still, the woman wasted no time walking up to a display to look at the various pieces of jewelry in there.
He leaned over to Marinette and wrapped his arms around her waist, letting his chin rest on her shoulder.
“Sorry. I tried Mari.”
She let out a soft groan. “I know. I would probably enjoy this shopping spree more if we had nothing planned for the rest of the day.”
“Well...to be fair. Our date was going to be purely improvised to begin with.”
“And helping a friend out feels good right?”
Her voice sounded tired once again and the frown that had been on her face earlier that afternoon returned.
Something was clearly still on her mind and he had a suspicion it might had something to do with the remaining time they could spend on their actual date.
Before he could ask however, a male voice spoke to them.
“Bonsoir. Monsieur? Madame? Are you looking for anything specific by chance?”
Adrien looked up to see a polite gentleman giving them his best customer smile.
“I don’t know. Are we Marinette?” Slowly he let go of her, the paper bags in his hands rustling together as he moved.
“If I say we are, you’re going to buy me something.” She pointed out.
“That’s the idea.” He joked.
“How about a lovely necklace for you madame? Or perhaps a engagement ring? We just got in a desginer series decorated with diamonds and rubies.”
“Oh we eh...we haven’t actually discussed the whole topic of marriage just yet.” He chuckled awkwardly. "So that's a pass on the engagement rings for now."
Not that he even needed to buy her one, if memory served him right.
“I understand. Some earrings then maybe?”
Marinette shook her head. “I’m fine thank you. We’re just here to accompany our friend.” She pointed at Chloé. “She’s looking for...something?”
“Knowing madame Bourgeois, probably something with diamonds.” Adrien added.
Dropping the familiar name was enough for the clerk to gave them both a nod and hurry over to the other blonde to help her pick out whatever she wanted.
“So eh...while we’re waiting for Chlo...marriage huh? Yes? No? Maybe?”
“Really?” She raised an eyebrow. “You want to talk about that now?”
“Like I said. We’re waiting for Chloé to finish up. So why not now? It’s important to discuss these things.”
Marinette let out a sigh, which he didn’t take as a good sign.
Taking his hand she led him back outside.
The sky already turning dark and the lights of the city illuminating the street.
“Adrien I...I’m not really… I mean I want to….someday. It’s just….” Another sigh.
“Not ready to talk about it?”
“No! No that’s not it. It’s just something I haven’t thought about in a long while.”
“Too much on your mind Bug?”
“Yeah. Sorry. It’s just the bakery, designing for Jagged, I haven’t really calmed down from helping Alya and Nino with their wedding and now….”
“Nothing. It’s silly.”
“Silly is good. I won’t judge. You know me.”
“I know. I know. It’s just...well...”
The door of the store opened.
“I’m done! That was everything I needed to do.” His childhood friend exclaimed happily pointing at her new golden earrings. “Aren’t they gorgeous?!”
“They’re pretty! They’ll go perfectly with your dress.”
“I know!” Chloé reached out to place kiss on each of Marinette’s cheeks. His partner returned the gesture. “All thanks to your help.”
Adrien once again noticed that she was slightly forcing a smile.
“Thank you for tagging along too Adrikins. It’s been real fun but I have to get ready for tonight. I hope you guys will have enough time left for your date.” She reached up to give him a kiss on each of his cheeks while she took the bags from his hands.
“We’ll have enough time to find somewhere for dinner and maybe catch a late movie or something.”
“Hope you’ll have a nice date as well Chloé.”
“I’ll let you know how it went Dupain--...Marinette. You lovebirds enjoy your evening!”
With a small wave, Chloé walked off.
A big smile on her face and a bounce in her step.
It has honestly been a long time since he had seen her this happy.
“Shall we go as well My Lady?”
She gave a nod and he slipped his arm around her waist as they walked down the street.
“So what are you in the mood for?”
His partner shrugged. “Don’t know.”
“We’ve had pasta for lunch so....how about we find a gourmet restaurant and hope they’ll have a spot available?”
A nod was his only reply.
“Or maybe we should find somewhere that serves a mixed grill or something.”
Her eyes had a hazy and distant look to them.
A slight frown on her face.
Her pink lips pressed tightly together.
At this point he suspected she wasn’t really listening to what he was saying.
There was only one way to test that out.
“Alternatively we could go to the nearest trash can and dig something up and have that. I've heard rotten meat is to die for.”
Again she nodded.
“Mari what’s wrong? I know that there’s-something-on-my-mind-and-I’m-not-telling-Adrien-look anywhere. And you’ve kind of been pretty quiet all afternoon too and I’m not sure why. Was it me? Did I do or say something?”
His questions seemed to snap her out of her daze.
“You know, if you regret not letting me pay for those nice shoes you were almost drooling over, we can still go back? The stores close in half an hour.”
“No. It’s not that Chaton. I just...something maman was doing has been bothering me all afternoon.”
“What exactly Princess?”
She stopped walking.
Blue eyes turned down to focus on the stone tiles beneath their feet.
“She threw away papa’s things.” The woman muttered just loud enough for him to hear.
“Not all of it.”
“I know but...I don’t know how she...how she could do that. That’s all we’ve got left of him and she just throws it out?”
“Did you expect her to keep it?”
“Yes! No? I don’t know. I just didn’t expect her to...do that so soon.”
“It’s been over a year Bug. Like your mom said.”
“A year isn’t that long.”
“It was enough time for your mom. It was enough time because you gave her that time. Remember?”
“Just because you might not be ready to close that chapter, doesn’t mean she isn’t. You’re not giving her enough credit. She’s strong. Like you.” He continued.
“It still hurt seeing her do all of that.”
He put a finger under her chin and gently lifted her head upwards so she was looking at him.
“If it bothers you that much, you should have a good talk with your mom. Ask her how she knows she’s ready to let that go of your father. Tell her how you feel and if you’re ready to throw out his personal belongings as well.”
“I had a feeling you wouldn't.”
“I mean...would you?”
“If I were in your shoes? No. Probably not. Looking at my own case. I’d have zero problems burning everything my father ever owned.”
“And your mother’s belongings?”
He fell silent hearing that loaded question. “I don’t know. I didn’t think I’d have to lose her all over again. I always thought I made peace with the idea that she was already dead somewhere. I might not be able to throw out what was precious to her, but it might also not be a problem.”
“I see. Adrien?”
“I...I eh...I hate to be the one to ruin things for us tonight. But…”
“I know. You’re not enjoying yourself when something like that is going through your mind for hours. I can tell and I understand.”
“I know you do. It’s just...It’s not your fault. It’s me.”
“Oh, now you’re just sounding like you’re breaking up with me.” He laughed.
“Don’t laugh!” She scolded. “I feel horrible. This shouldn’t bother me, but it is and it’s ruining our night.”
He pressed a short kiss on the top of her head. “Mari. My dear, sweet, beautiful Marinette. Things just happen to be like that sometimes.” Adrien gave her another kiss. “We still got to spend time together. We had lunch together. What was it again you said last night? ‘That you’re here is enough’?”
“Something like that.”
“It really is Bugaboo.”
“I know it’s just...I was hoping I would be over it. That it wouldn’t hurt anymore. I guess I’m just afraid I’ll feel broken again.”
“For some people it will still hurt every now and then. That doesn’t mean you’re broken. It just means you’re not done grieving yet. It’s okay to feel that way Mari.”
“I guess. It doesn’t feel like that though. I didn’t think I’d be having bad days again. I’m...I’m sorry. I’m really putting a damper on our date huh.” She let out a sad chuckle.
“There will be other opportunities for dates.” He assured her.
“Not for first dates.”
“We’ll just don’t count this as our first.” He shrugged. “Easy. It’s not like we actually did what we hoped to do this afternoon either. We’ll can try again another time.”
“Yeah. We can.”
“Do you still want to get some food?”
“I’d...I’d like to go home actually. I really need to talk with maman. Get what’s bothering me out of my system.”
He gave a understanding nod. “Are we still up for our rooftop rendezvous?”
She shook her head. “Tomorrow?”
The blonde opened his mouth to speak, only to be interrupted by a loud groan coming from Marinette’s purse.
Something black swiftly moved from the pink bag to his coat pocket.
“Seriously? I woke up for this?” Adrien heard Plagg groan.
“Sorry Plagg. Guess it’s just you and me tonight.” He teased.
Another loud groan was heard.
One that helped put a small smile on his partner’s lips.
“I’ll make a cheese danish for him to make things right.”
“Will that be our subject for the video tomorrow? How to spoil a tiny cat with cheese danish.”
“Actually...I was thinking about doing a simple Q and A livestream? Recording on your own isn’t easy. I miss having Nino and Alya there to monitor everything and manage the camerawork.”
“You should have just taken a break until they would come back.”
“And throw away my excuse to bring you back as my co-host? Never.”
He let out a laugh. “Well. I’m glad to see you’re able to joke around a little again.”
“Yeah. Thanks for listening Chaton. It helps a lot.”
“For you? Anytime Bug.”
Chapter 3: The road forward
Marinette spends her Sunday with Adrien and contemplates her future.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
She pushed herself tighter against him.
Inhaling his scent as she buried her nose into his coat.
The dark haired woman honestly didn’t care that anyone walking by her house could see their interaction.
She needed this hug. More than she initially thought.
The baker’s daughter felt a firm kiss being placed on the top of her head.
Strong arms giving her upper body a short squeeze.
“Mari?” His voice whispered softly.
“Are you going to be okay?”
Marinette nodded against her boyfriend’s chest, not letting go of him in the slightest.
“I think so.”
“Do you want me to stay with you? As emotional support or something?”
She couldn’t help but smile, although she had her face buried against him so much, she doubted he would even see it.
He really had been the one to show her all the support she needed over the past year and more.
Even before that she could always count on him.
To him, this was probably not any different from those other times she needed a pep-talk or a much needed hug.
Marinette really wished he could sit next to her when she would speak to her mother.
If only to hold his hand and feel more confident speaking up about her worries.
But she knew she shouldn’t be asking that of him.
She was an adult.
At least that was what her identification card said.
Talking to her own mother about what bothered her shouldn’t be a problem. Right?
Even if it was still, somewhat, of a delicate subject for the baker’s daughter.
“I’ll be fine.” She assured him. “It’s just a talk.”
This time on her temple.
“Okay. Just give me a call if you need something okay? And keep your skylight open when you do.”
She nodded once more.
His grip on her loosened and a warm hand soon found its way to her cheek.
The touch was enough to pry her away from his body.
“I’m serious. Call me if you need anything. Anything at all.”
“A goodbye kiss would be nice.” She caught herself muttering.
The corners of his mouth twisted up into a slight smirk. “As you wish My Lady.”
Leaning down, he placed his soft lips onto her own.
Gently at first, then pushing slightly harder before they broke apart.
A short kiss, which felt like it lasted an eternity.
A eternity which felt to go by way too fast, leaving her with a warm wave washing over her body.
“Chaton…” The baker’s daughter sighed lovingly.
She couldn’t even ask him for another one as he had already dipped his head back down to capture her lips once again.
“Mon Chaton…” Marinette sighed again.
“No, no ma cherie. No more. Your food is getting cold and me thinks you’re trying to stall.” Adrien gave her a Cheshire grin.
“Stall? Me?” Was she? “Maybe I just really want to give you another kiss.”
She wasn’t even sure how it was possible, but his grin grew even wider.
The blonde straightened his back and stood upright, a mischievous glint in his green eyes.
“Go right ahead.”
Marinette closed her eyes, pouted her lips, stretched out her neck and tried to make herself taller.
All of that just wasn’t enough to reach the man’s lips.
The moment she realized that he wasn’t bending down to meet her, she also realized what his grin was all about.
“That’s mean.” She eventually muttered, showing a small pout. “Please stop being so tall so I can kiss you.”
He let out a chuckle and leaned down to briefly peck her lips then her cheek.
She took the brief opportunity to return his gesture with a soft kiss on his own cheek.
“Good night Princess.”
She beamed up at him with a warm smile.
“Good night Adrien. Thank you for today and for the meal. If there’s anything I can do to pay you back in some way…”
The woman held her breath, expecting him to reply with a ‘You don’t have to pay me back’ or a ‘You don’t owe me anything’ like he had told her many times before.
Instead, he looked at her with a loving gaze.
One that made her heart flutter.
“Spend the whole weekend at my place next week.” Her partner replied unexpectedly. “We’ll hang out and cook dinner together. Cuddle, watch movies, play games. Whatever you want. Then we're even.”
She nodded. “I’d love to.”
“And I love you.”
She gave him another smile. “I love you too Adrien.”
“Have a good night Mari. Enjoy your dinner. Call me if you need anything okay.” Slowly he backed out of the door opening and into the dark streets.
In his hand a plastic bag filled with a couple of food containers.
Food he insisted they would get, regardless of their date being a bust.
A meal he paid for and left over half of it behind on the bakery’s kitchen counter.
Left there for her and her mother to enjoy.
Once the blonde was out of sight, Marinette gently closed the front door, leaned against it and let out a deep sigh.
“Is everything okay Marinette?” Tikki asked from her spot in the woman’s purse.
“I’m fine Tikki. Just...disappointed in myself.”
“Don’t be! There’s nothing wrong about being a bit upset about what your mother did. She didn’t talk to you about it. She never said that she was going to clean out your father’s clothes. Of course it would be shocking, seeing her do that without you knowing.”
She let out a chuckle. “Thank you Tikki. But I really shouldn’t have that take me over like that.”
“Just be glad Hawkmoth isn’t here anymore. You’re free to let yourself be taking over by negative emotions. There’s no need to feel guilty about that when that happens.”
“Yeah I...I guess that’s true..”
“So don’t be afraid to express how you feel to your mother either. You two have a great mother-daughter relationship. You’ll be fine talking this out over dinner.”
“I hope so. It’s just…” She let out another sigh, feeling emotions well up inside of her. “Just a difficult subject.”
“But you’re able to talk about your dad.”
“About happy memories...sure...but…”
“It will be fine.” Tikki repeated again. “Just go up there and ask her why.”
“Yes. Why. That can be any ‘why’ you need it to be. Here, let’s practice a little.” The Kwami flew out of the purse in a swift motion. “I’ll be your mother. Ahum...hello Marinette. You look like you have a question.”
“That’s…” The corners of her lips tugged up into a smile. “That’s not how maman sounds.”
The little creature frowned slightly. “Just humor me okay.”
“Okay. Okay.” The woman chuckled. “Uhm...hello maman. Yes. I do have a question.”
“What are you curious about my sweet, darling, daughter dearest?”
Marinette let out a giggle as the nicknames left Tikki.
For some reason, it was both strange and endearing to hear her even address her like that.
“Right.” She let out another giggle. “Focus. I’m focused. Maman…”
“I wanted to know...why?”
“Why what? My wonderful, amazing child.”
“Why...did you throw out papa’s clothes?”
“You see Marinette--”
Something creaked loudly, interrupting the tiny creature.
“Marinette?” Her mother’s voice called out.
“Oh, thank goodness it’s you! I heard more than one voice. I was afraid someone might have broken in or something.”
She heard her mother’s footsteps coming closer to her.
Descending the steps at a fast pace.
Marinette quickly glanced into Tikki’s direction, only to find out the Kwami was already no longer there.
Already hiding somewhere, if she had to guess.
“No! Nobody broke in! That was just Adrien. Saying goodbye.”
“He didn’t want to stay?” Sabine came into view, a concerned look on her face. “When you messaged me and told me your date didn’t work out and you were coming home, I assumed he would be spending the night here. You know I don’t mind if he sleeps over.”
Marinette shook her head. “No he eh…”
She swallowed hard, not really sure how to explain it to her mother that she was the reason their date fell through.
“Are you two alright? You didn’t have a fight did you? Is that why you’re home early?”
“No, we didn’t have a fight maman.”
“Did something else happen?
“No, not at all. We just walked and talked and helped Chloé shop for some stuff. That’s all.”
“That doesn’t really sound like a date dear.”
Sabine continued to frown. “Any reason Adrien didn’t want to join us for dinner?”
“He noticed I wasn’t having a great day.” Marinette admitted. “I asked him to go home.”
Before she realized it, her mother had pulled her into a firm hug. “You should just be honest with him if you weren’t feeling up to going out. No need to push yourself so much.”
“I was doing okay this morning! Really okay...it’s just…”
The baker’s daughter started to fidget with a string dangling from her coat, barely even returning the embrace her mother gave her.
Not really sure how to bring up that she had such trouble, seeing her mother throw away the few things they had left of her father.
“It’s just…?” Sabine tried to press on.
The woman shook her head. “It was just a bad day for me. Adrien bought us dinner.” She walked over to counter and held up the food container.
Heath still radiating off them as she held them in her hands.
“That’s sweet of him.”
“Let’s go up and start eating it before it gets cold!” She quickly suggested.
She really didn’t want to linger on the subject too long as she slowly sensed some kind of pressure being put on her.
Of course it didn’t help her mother kept pressing on for her to talk.
Not that Marinette blamed her.
The woman had seen first hand what had happened when she bottled it all up.
The times she had cried when nobody was watching.
All the meals she had skipped because she was simply too tired.
It was no wonder her mother tried so hard for her to open up.
“That sounds like a plan.” Sabine gave her a patient smile as she took a food container from her daughter to carry.
Marinette followed her up to the apartment.
All the while thinking of ways to ask her that important question that had ruined her whole afternoon.
She only gave a few nods when the older woman filled up her plate and asked her if she had scooped up enough rice for her daughter.
She looked up at hearing her name.
“You seem awfully quiet all of a sudden sweetheart. What’s on your mind?”
Turning her attention back to the plate, she shoved her food around, still not sure how to address her worries.
“Nothing important maman. It’s silly.”
“I know that look. You don’t look like that when it’s just nothing.” She gave her daughter another patient smile. “What’s on your mind? You can talk to me. You know that right?”
The baker’s daughter nodded. “It’s just…” Tikki’s advice suddenly came to mind. “Why?”
“Why did you….” She took a deep breath. “Why did you clean up papa’s belongings? We don’t have a lot of him left and you just t-throw it away?”
“Oh sweetheart.” Sabine sighed. “We can’t hold on to them.”
“I do. Because we both know we can’t accept that he’s gone, if his belongings are in the house. We can’t move on if we are surrounded by too many things reminding us of him.”
“But...that’s all we have left of him.” Marinette hardly recognised her own voice as the words left her mouth sounding funerable.
“Marinette. I’m ready to let go of him. I’m ready to move on and live my life. That doesn’t mean I’ll forget him or ever stop loving him.”
“But...I’m not...I’m not ready. I wake up every day, walking down to the kitchen and expecting him to just...be there. It still hurts to realize that papa is not coming back.”
“As bad as before? Maybe we should get you some professional help if you feel like you’re getting worse again.”
She shook her head. “No...not it’s not that bad anymore. It’s even a little easier. A lot easier. But...I wouldn’t be able to just throw out his clothes like that. So how...how could you?”
“Because I felt it was the right time to. Because when I look at you…” The woman took her hand. “I am reminded how much like your father you actually are. Creative. Kind. Loving. You’re the most precious thing he has ever given to me and you’ll always be the one to remind me of him in ways none of his stuff ever can.”
Sabine gave her hand a light squeeze. “Have I told you, how difficult it actually was for me to get pregnant?” She shook her head. “As you know, we married young. We started the bakery not long after and all the while we tried to add another person to our family. It wasn’t until fifteen years later, after we’ve already given up on that dream, that fortune smiled upon us and you were born.”
Marinette felt tears sting in the corners of her eyes.
“To me, the most fond memories I have of your father are when he was spending time with you. That will never change. Not when I throw away his clothes. Not when the bakery burns down. You will always be enough to help me remember him.”
“Maman…” The young woman choked.
Her mother let herself slide of the barstool to wrap her daughter in a tender embrace.
“But to be honest. I’m not ready to throw everything out either. I can’t. Not yet. But I’m not going to make you do it. That’s not your burden to bear. Especially since you’ve done so much for me already my sweet, darling daughter.”
Marinette chuckled lightly as she noticed Tikki’s words coming out of her mother’s mouth.
Tears eventually started to roll down her cheek.
Why she suddenly was feeling overwhelmed with emotions, she wasn’t entirely sure.
As she continued to hug her mother, Marinette just figured it just happened to be one of those emotional days for her again.
At the very least she felt lighter and less burdened by her worries now.
Marinette nodded as her mother positioned the camera just right for her. “That’s perfect maman. The whole table is in frame like that.”
“Are you sure you’re feeling up to this sweetheart?”
“Sure. Why do you ask? Because of yesterday?”
The older woman frowned slightly before giving a reluctant nod. “I’m just worried about you.”
“I’m okay. Really. The talk helped and I’m pretty sure this is going to be a good day today. Are you...are you okay? I hope I didn’t upset you in some way.”
“Oh. Of course not Marinette! It’s good that we talked things out and I perfectly understand where you’re coming from too. If I were you, I wouldn’t like to have your father’s belongings out of the house yet either. I can only imagine how much harder it is for you, but I hope you realize that we need to do this.”
Marinette nodded. “Yeah. I understand. We have to let him go eventually.”
Sabine gave her a patient smile and another nod. “One step at a time sweetheart. Why don’t we clean out some things together after Christmas? I haven’t throw away half of his clothes just yet. Or emptied out his nightstand. Maybe it’ll be good if we do this together.”
“I...I’m not sure if I’m ready by then. But I’ve given it a lot of thought last night….”
Too much thought according to Tikki.
Of course the little creature was right, the three hours of sleep she had gotten was proof enough of that.
She really needed to stop overthinking the small things.
“And you’re right. You’re right and I just have to learn to accept that he’s gone and never coming back and keeping what he owned won’t change what he meant to us.”
“Not only that Marinette. It will help us both move forward.”
That seemed like the best and only way to go.
Which was still difficult since this wasn’t the way she had even envisioned herself to go in.
What would be the way forward?
Taking over the bakery at some point?
Finding a place of her own?
Which wouldn’t be necessary if she was going to take charge of the small business when her mother would retire.
What would be her future?
What road should she take?
Would Adrien be there?
He had tried to ask her about her thoughts on marriage.
Although in a joking manner, so she wasn’t sure if he even wanted to move into that direction with her.
Right now she wasn’t even sure if she wanted to.
If she was ready to.
Perhaps Marinette could have a long talk about that with her boyfriend soon.
Just to be on the same level of understanding with each other.
Not that they weren’t already.
Just not in that department.
The only thing she was certain of, was that he wanted her to move in with him.
“Marinette?” Her mother’s voice snapped her out of her thoughts. “Are you alright? You were frowning.”
“I was? I didn’t mean to...it’s just...Adrien asked me something recently and well...I don’t know if I should take him up on his offer or not.”
Sabine’s eyes grew big, a smile on her face. “What offer exactly darling?”
“He asked me to move in with him?”
“Oh Marinette!” Two warm arms wasted no time to wrap themselves around her and pull her into a firm hug. “That’s wonderful! My little baby is growing up so fast!”
“Maman!” The dark haired woman gasped. “I haven’t exactly said I would. Not yet anyway.”
Her mother pulled away from her, allowing her to breath.
Confused, grey eyes, blinked at her.
“But. You love him don’t you?”
“Yes of course I do!”
“And you tend to spend more weekends at his place than here the past few months.”
“That was mostly because we were best man and maid of honor for Nino and Alya. We helped each other taking care of our wedding tasks and stuff.”
“And sure. I guess most of my stuff already made its way to his apartment and it’s got the perfect amount of rooms and a killer view. But I don’t know if I should move in with him.”
“Marinette….honey. You’ve practically already moved in with him. You two wanted to spend more time with each other right? This is the way to do that.”
“I know. That was his reasoning too.” The baker’s daughter groaned. “I just...I want to...but I don’t want to leave you maman. What if you need me?”
She looked at her with a fondness in her eyes Marinette imagined only mothers were capable of having.
“I’ll be fine.”
“Marinette. I’ll be fine.” She once again assured her. “I appreciate that you worry about my wellbeing. But I’ll be fine. Besides, it’s not like I won’t see you every day or that you won’t be welcome to sleep here if you want. You’re free to make your own decisions you know. You’re old enough.”
“Geez. Now you sound like you want me out of the house.” Marinette tried to joke.
Sabine shook her head. “Not at all. I just want you to be happy dear and I know you’re happy with Adrien. Of course you’re always welcome to sleep over or have dinner with me if he isn’t home for some reason and you don’t want to be alone.”
“So...you think I should? Move in with him?”
“That’s not up to me. But if you want to, I won’t hold you back. That’s all I’m saying.”
Hearing that, she mentally cursed herself.
Her boyfriend was right.
Her mother was far stronger than she seemed and she was just too stupid to realize it.
“Okay. I’ll give it some more thought. Thank you maman.”
The older woman gave her another hug.
“Anytime. Just let me know what you’ve decided okay?”
She nodded against the woman.
Tightening the embrace she had on her.
Marinette found herself so lost in her mother’s embrace, that she barely registered the front door opening and heavy footsteps making their way to the kitchen.
She glanced up to see Adrien coming into the kitchen.
Drenched and holding filled grocery bag in one hand.
It half reminded her of the day he came back into her life again.
The rain had soaked him to the bone on that day as well.
His hair messy.
Blonde locks sticking to his face.
She hadn’t recognized him immediately back then and if she didn’t know it was him, she wouldn’t now at first glance either.
“Hey.” He greeted them both with a faint smile on his lips. “Sorry I’m messing up the floor. I’ll clean it when we’re done.”
“Is it raining that badly outside dear?”
“I would have taken my umbrella with me madame Cheng.” He turned his gaze towards Marinette. “But someone took it with her the last time she stayed over at my place.”
“Whoops.” The young woman giggled. “I guess I forgot to return it. Again.”
“I’m sure we have another one around here somewhere.” Sabine muttered.
“It’s okay maman. It’s...been kind of our thing since he got back. That umbrella has been an excuse to visit each other, more than it’s a necessity.”
“Speak for yourself!” Adrien pouted. “You seem to luck out most of the time Princess. Either the rain stops when you go home and leave that thing with me, or it’s not so bad.”
“Maybe it’s because you seem to soak up enough rain for the two of us each time.” She grinned.
“So I’ve noticed. Which makes it a necessity for me at least.”
“That isn’t good.” Her mother added. “I don’t want you getting a cold Adrien. Wait here, I’ll go get a towel.”
The man nodded. “Thank you madame Cheng.”
Her mother hurried out of the kitchen and back up the apartment.
Leaving the two lovers standing there in complete silence for a short moment.
A short moment was all Marinette needed to have curiosity take over.
“So eh…” She eyed the bag Adrien had brought with him. “What’s in there?”
“Hmmm? Oh! Oh. Well. I eh...figured, after yesterday, I’d cheer you up a bit by making dinner for us?”
She frowned at the suggestion. “More cold soup?”
He let out an exaggerated gasp. “Of course not Princess! I am honestly offended you’d even think I would make the same mistake twice. I’ve come fully prepared with a recipe and at least four hours of cooking experience under my belt!”
“Oh wow. Four whole hours of cutting vegetables.”
“And actually cooking them. Thank you very much.” Marinette raised her eyebrow and shot him a skeptical look. “Just...let me make you a meal okay Mari. Please?”
“Okay Chaton. Just let me know if you need help with anything okay? I like it when we cook together.”
“You do most of it when we do. I want to make something nice for you for a change. I’d like...to be able to surprise you with dinner when you come home. I mean...come over. Have a little romantic moment. You know what I mean?”
“I suppose we could do with more of those.”
“Right? Ever since we started helping Alya and Nino, I haven’t been able to sweep you off your feet as much as I want to..”
“We’re already together you dork.” She laughed. “You don’t have to impress me anymore.”
“It’s not a matter of impressing you Marinette.” Her mother rushed back down the stairs, a big towel in hand which she pressed into the young man’s hands.
He muttered a quick ‘thank you’ before the older woman took her leave once more.
If Marinette had to guess, it was so she could give them both some time together.
“If it’s not to impress me, then why do you even--”
He didn’t let her finish her sentence. “To show you that I love you. I tell you all the time, but sometimes...it feels like my words aren’t enough. So I want to show you by doing little things for you. Like giving you hugs when you need it, or making you a meal or a drink. Or even getting you flowers, just because.” He reached into the bag to pull out a few tiny packages. “You said you wanted carnations on your balcony right?”
“I did say that.”
She rushed over to her partner and took the seed packages from him before enveloping him in a firm hug to thank him.
One she immediately regretted as her cheek made contact with him damp clothes.
The hug was broken much sooner than she initially had planned.
“I shouldn’t have done that.”
Adrien laughed at her muttered comment. “I’m glad you like my gift so much, you wanted to hug me while I’m a drowned kitten.”
“I’m sure you’re not the only kitten who drowned today.”
“Strangely enough, Plagg seemed pretty dry when he flew up the moment I came in. So yeah. I am the only drowned kitten today.”
“Poor you.” She teased, using her palm to wipe away the moist on her cheek, at the same time pocketing the seeds into her apron. “Think you’ll survive being on camera looking like you went for a swim in the Seine?”
“I’m not afraid anymore to show my less than perfect side. If that’s what you’re asking. I’m not a model anymore and father isn’t keeping an eye on me. Nothing to worry about. I mean...it’s not like the Agreste name is going to be dragged down further than it already has been.”
Adrien laughed again.
Only this time, Marinette wasn’t sure if it was one of amusement or to laugh off his own misfortune.
“Maybe we should do another charity stream again? Sponsored by Gabriel’s! See if we can boost up the company image. Show the world that you and that man’s business aren’t bad people. Just...people who have been led on by someone...not so great.”
“I’ll discuss it with Nathalie. Maybe something for the homeless organisation again? The company can donate some old designs we have stocked up in the warehouse. We can’t sell them and nobody is going to wear them anyway. Might as well give it to people who need it.”
“That sounds like a plan.”
“It also sounds like something I don’t want to worry about right now. Work related things are for work related days.”
She blinked a couple of times at his words.
Words which held a truth.
Even if he had said them in a playful way.
“That….is a good way of thinking Kitty.”
“I have to think like that. I’d be down with a burnout if I didn’t give myself some time to rest. At least that’s what Plagg told me. Besides...I don’t want to be like him. Sometimes I feel like I’m slowly moving in that direction. So I have to take a couple of steps back when I do.”
“It’s different. If you work hard, you work hard for your team and the company. When he worked hard, in the end it was just for his own benefit.”
He shrugged. “Maybe. I’m just trying to be careful Bug.”
“I know Kitty. But don’t worry. If you’ll ever become like that man, I’ll personally slap you until you’ve come to your senses.” She stood on her toes to give his chin a light peck.
Not because she was specifically aiming for that area, but more so because that was as far as she could reach when he wasn’t leaning down.
“I know you will. Thank you.”
“Come on. We have a couple of minutes left before the stream starts. Let’s quickly go over some things and you can put your groceries in the cooler.”
“So we’re still going with answering questions today?”
Marinette nodded. “And I’m going to make you something special during it to thank you for the flower seeds.”
“Well I am in the mood for one of your apple-cinnamon muffins. With a good cup of coffee maybe?”
She answered with a smile.
“You’re the best you know that Princess?”
“So you’ve told me plenty of times before Chaton.”
Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed how her partner was carefully trying to decorate a large cookie with the glaze they had made.
His tongue sticking out slightly, a habit she was sure he picked up from her at some point, completely focused on his job.
She had to admit that he looked really handsome at the moment.
Splotches of colored glaze smeared on his cheek.
A little bit of flour dusting his golden locks.
So far removed from the picture perfect image he had worn for many years.
It suited him.
If she had to say so herself.
“Marinette’s father actually got me into baking.” He explained to the camera as he continued to decorate his cookie. “The closer we became as friends, the more I started to hang out at the bakery. One day he asked me to help put decorations on the cakes.”
“I remember that. It was a Christmas rush and we were short on hands. You volunteered to help and papa put you on decorating duty.”
Adrien laughed. “I don’t know how much help I actually was, asking all those questions about how he made his pastries.”
“Papa loved it when you asked questions about his work.” Marinette assured him. “He’d just got so excited and happy and then you got all excited hearing about all the science behind mixing the ingredients.”
“He showed me that baking is both a science and an art.”
“It really is and I’ve seen you improve at it since we’ve started the channel.”
“Really?” He asked with a hint of pride in his voice.
“Absolutely! Last year your glazing work sucked and you couldn’t even make cupcakes. Now you were able to make two tiers of our friend’s wedding cake and it looked and tasted almost perfect!”
“Thanks Bug. Glad to know this is still a missed career opportunity.” Her partner commented in a joking tone.
She really didn’t see the humor in his statement.
It was still a sad thought that neither of them were able to work in the fields they wanted.
Even if things didn’t turn out too badly for either of them in the end.
She was still able to design on the side.
He was able to bake every now and then.
But it still wasn’t the same as she had envisioned her life to be when she was a teenager.
At age twenty two, she should have worked at, at least, three runway collections.
Or have her own boutique.
At the very least an online one.
Ideally, she would start a family somewhere in her late twenties.
After she had established a career and knew if and how she could balance it with her personal life.
Now those plans were thrown out the window and she had no idea what the next step should be.
Marinette was used to having backup plans for her backup plans.
Ways to move forward.
And now she found herself without any of those and pretty much stuck in the here and now.
She half wondered if Adrien felt the same.
It wasn’t just her vision of a future which had ended up slipping away.
“I didn’t mean it like that.” Marinette pouted.
“I know. I know. I was just joking around.” She noticed how he glanced at the screen of her tablet for a brief moment. “Seems like the chat wants to know why I’m not working with you full time.”
“Sometimes I wonder that too. You seem happier here.”
“Because I’m spending time with you.” He grinned cheekily at her.
“Aside from that, there has to be another reason right?”
“What do you mean?”
She had a feeling he knew exactly what she meant and just didn’t want to say it.
“It’s not too late you know. To do what you want to do.”
“I feel like we’ve had this discussion before.”
Marinette frowned at that truth. “Perhaps. I still think you should.”
“I could ask you the same thing.”
“And leave the bakery?” She shook her head. “I can’t. You know that.”
This time the blonde frowned at her before directly facing their invisible audience.
“Did you know Marinette was commissioned to design Jagged Stone’s outfits for his next tour?”
“Adrien!” She scolded.
That was something she hadn’t told that many people and now her boyfriend was making sure a couple of thousand people would know.
“Did you guys also know that she dreamed of becoming a fashion designer since she was like...eight.” He continued.
“Did you also know she’s very good at it and gave up her dream to be a designer to help her family out.”
“Yes they do! I talked about it during one of our first Q&A’s!”
She wasn’t sure what she would do, but it was going to be something messy if he didn’t stop talking soon.
“Don’t you guys think, when someone is as selfless as Marinette here, and if they have another shot at going after their dream, that they should take it?”
“I could ask you the same thing!” She threw her hands up in the air. “Chaton. You can quit the company and go back to school. Work with me every single day.”
“So could you if you’d let me hire someone to take over your job so you can finish your education and be a designer.”
“It doesn’t work like that and you know it.”
He shrugged. “We’d still be working together one way or the other.”
“This is a family business. We worked too hard to get things right. I’m not just leaving that to go chase a pipe dream.”
“Mari. Designing makes you happy. I want to make you happy Princess.”
Marinette blinked a couple of times before turning to the camera.
This was certainly not a discussion she wanted to have in front of a live audience.
But it was also something they had to settle right as quickly as possible before they would fall back onto the same topic over and over again.
“Hey eh...give us ten minutes everyone? Go get a drink or something we’ll be right back to answer your questions.”
Before her partner could object, she had dragged him away from the kitchen and to the front of the store.
“I want you to be happy too.” She continued. “You’re happy working here. I know you are.”
“I can’t leave the company. You know that.”
“What about after? After you’ve managed to fix the crap that asshole has left for you to clean up.” The baker’s daughter practically asked with a hiss.
“I...I don’t know. I...I just know that it’s too late to be what I dreamed of doing.”
“It’s too late for me. Not for you.”
“Mari. Bug. I appreciate that you want what’s best for me, but the fact still remains that I’m an Agreste and I’m responsible for my father’s company. A responsibility I will be sharing with Nathalie soon, but it’s still my responsibility to make things right. Besides...if I stay there, we’re set for the future.”
“What do you mean?”
“It pays well. Really well.”
“Money? Is that the only reason keeping you back?” She frowned slightly.
That sounded so unlike him.
“Is one of the reasons I’m staying.” He corrected. “Remember how we briefly talked about starting a family someday?”
How could she forget the only thing on her future goal list still within reach.
“I just want to make sure our future kids have nothing to worry about. That you have nothing to worry about. Even if something happens to the bakery. Which I really hope it won’t but like you always tell me…”
“It’s good to have a backup plan.” She sighed.
“But what about you?”
“I’ve got you.” He reminded her. “I’ll be fine as long as you’re in my life.”
“Adrien Agreste. You sacrifice too much for others sometimes. You know that?”
“So you’ve told me.” The blonde gave her a soft smile. “I still think you should go back to fashion school. You always light up when you design just about anything. I love seeing you like that.”
“It’s not meant to be Chaton. Not anymore. Besides...I’ve got you and maman. My friends. That’s all I really need. I’m actually pretty happy where I am right now.”
“I guess that means neither of us will be chasing what our younger selves set out for us to do huh?”
“I guess so? I mean…I wouldn’t know where I’d see myself in five years, but where I am today isn’t so bad.”
Adrien nodded. “I’ve learned going with the flow is the best route to take. Until you find a new goal to work towards anyway. And eh...I’m not completely miserable working at my father’s company either.”
“Sometimes you look it.”
“That’s when I’ve had hard days.”
“Then...let me do the same for you as you’ve done for me. Let me know how I can help when you have a hard day and tell me if you have one. Don’t hide it. Don’t do what I did.”
He shrugged again. “I’ll be fine. It’s probably just temporary until things are running smoothly again.” A phrase she had heard him say over and over again the past few months. The more he said it, the less she started to believe it. “Hey. Shall we go back to the stream Bug? I’m sure we’ve let everyone waiting long enough.”
He started to walk away, but she was quick to tug on his hand to pull him back.
“Are you sure you’re okay with how things are for you right now?”
“I am. Are you sure?”
“Yeah. I’m sure.” A sudden burning smell hit her nose. “Wait...do you smell something burning?”
“Do you still have something in the oven?”
“Your muffins! Oh no! Shit! Shit! Shit!”
As the woman ran toward the burning treats, she wondered how she was going to explain to her audience how she managed to ruin her millionth time baking muffins.
“It wasn’t bad.”
Marinette looked up to see Adrien beam proudly at her statement. “Really?”
“A bit bland, but not horrible at all dear.” Sabine assured him.
The blonde straightened his back and smiled widely at the two women.
“I’ll do better next time.” He assured them.
The baker’s daughter couldn’t help but laugh a little. “You’re doing good now Chaton! I still don’t get why you’re so adamant on cooking for us, but you’re not doing bad.”
“I told you. I just want to be able to cook you a meal. A good meal.” He clarified. “Do as much for you as you’re doing for me.”
Her mother leaned close to her and muttered softly near her ear. “He’s husband material sweetheart.”
Marinette’s felt her cheeks grow warm at her mother’s implication.
“T-That’s sweet of you Adrien b-but you really don’t have to.” She managed to stammer out.
He gave her another smile.
One which made her heart flutter.
“I want to.”
“Well you can’t stop him if he wants to now can you?” Sabine asked with a slightly smug tone in her voice.
“I guess I can’t maman.”
“Why don’t you kids leave the dishes to me and you can go watch a movie or something.”
“How about a walk outside instead?” Adrien suggested. “Some fresh air should be nice.”
“It’s still raining Chaton.”
“And our umbrella is right here Bug. Just a short walk?”
He had her there.
“Okay. But we’re getting some coffee or something on the way back.”
“As you wish.” Her boyfriend gave her a flourishing bow before taking her hand and pulling her out of the room.
“Eager much?” Marinette asked with a giggle.
“To finally have a few moments alone with you? Absolutely.”
“Adrien. We’ve been spending most of the day with each other."
“Correction.” He handed her, her coat. “We’ve been spending most of the day together, with our audience and then your mother. Not together, together.”
“Very. So it’s something we need to rectify Princess.”
“With a walk in the rain?”
“With some quality time. No audience. No tiny cat demanding stinky cheese. No mother interuptering us when we try to kiss.”
“She does seem to have a talent for that.” She laughed once again. “Any other reason you’re so eager to get us out of the house?”
“Actually...yes. I’ve been wanting to talk to you about something for a while now. Since the wedding actually.”
The playful mood she had found herself in quickly faded away.
“Well...it is and it isn’t. Depending how you look at it.”
She frowned as he took their umbrella, opened it and stepped out into the rain.
He reached out to her, waiting for the baker’s daughter to take his hand.
A little reluctantly, she took it.
“Adrien. Just tell me what you want to talk about? Is it us?”
He nodded and she felt her stomach drop.
Adrien carefully pulled her under the safety of the umbrella and closed the front door.
“I was thinking….”
“We both need a vacation.”
Marinette let out a nervous laugh. “A vacation?”
“Yeah. When was the last time we took one?”
“When did you leave for New York again? That was my last one.”
“I can’t even remember mine. So we should go soon. Maybe somewhere warm and sunny? Or Italy. You did promise we’d go there after I’d be back.”
“I did say something like that.” She muttered. “But you know we can’t. Don’t get me wrong. I want to. But you have your work and I have mine and I don’t see any way of going on a long trip without having to close the bakery.”
She wrapped her arm around his own as they started to walk down the street.
A playful grin being shot her way by him.
“I don’t see any problem with that.”
“I really don’t. Let’s just close the bakkery for a week or two. Give your mom some rest and we’ll go somewhere to relax. Maybe Hawaii? Nino has been telling me it’s amazing there.”
Marinette let out a laugh.
She now saw how it was.
Both their friends being currently on Hawaii for their honeymoon.
One of them, seemingly, having told Adrien how nice the place was.
No wonder her partner was itching to go on vacation.
“I want to Kitty. I really do. But you know we can’t.”
“You’re just saying that because you’re not allowing yourself to take time off.”
“Well...you’re not wrong. I mean...it’s busy enough in the bakery as it is and then there’s Jagged’s commissions which are taking up most of my free nights. A vacation, even a short one, just doesn’t seem to...seem to....”
“Fit in your planning?”
“All the more reason to take one don’t you think? Not now I mean. After you’re done with your commissions and I can actually walk out of Gabriel’s without having to worry the building will catch on fire or something.” Again she laughed. “It would be nice to just get away from it all for a while.”
The dark haired woman nodded. “It would be nice.”
“So? Is that a yes on my amazing idea?”
“That’s a maybe.”
“I’ll take a maybe.” He nodded. “Because a maybe, turns into a yes with you most of the time anyway.”
“It does not!” Marinette protested, earning a snort from Adrien.
“Maybe I’ll help you with the fashion show, you said. Maybe I’ll sleep over at your place, you said. Maybe we’ll make love one day, you said.” Another snort. “We both know how those ‘maybes’ turned out.”
She pouted, a blush creeping up on her cheeks. “You’re lucky I love you.”
“I am. I am very lucky you love me.” He agreed with a smile.
“Then, surprise me. When we go on vacation.”
“In what way Bug?”
“I’ll leave that up to you.” She smirked. “Won’t be much of a surprise if I know beforehand.”
“That’s true. Alright, give me some time to figure something out?”
“As much time as you need Chaton. You know that.”
They continued walking.
Rain falling against the fabric of the umbrella with soft thuds.
A comfortable silence falling between them until Adrien spoke again.
“Do you...want to do something for our anniversary by the way?”
“Which one? The one where we met or the one where we officially became a couple?”
“The couple one.” He answered without hesitation. “It’ll be our first after all.”
“When would be our first anniversary anyway?”
“That’s the….” He fell silent.
“You don’t know either huh.” She giggled.
“I don’t think I’ve even officially asked you to be my girlfriend.”
“No you didn’t.” Marinette shook her head. “Not that I mind. I mean...we kind of rolled into what we have right now? Mostly because I wasn’t sure if I was ready for a actual relationship for the longest time.”
“Which is understandable. I never expected you to after that kiss.”
“It was raining then too.” She remembered out loud.
“Maybe...we can just pick a date and stick with it? Or not celebrate that anniversary at all? I mean...the one where we met...that one has always been special to me. I don’t know…” Marinette shrugged.
“We can celebrate on Valentines day? That was our first kiss after all.”
“I was saving your butt. That one didn’t count.”
“Oh, I’m counting it Bugaboo.”
“Of course you would." She rolled her eyes. "Besides, every day feels like Valentines, with the way you try to spoil me.”
“Can you blame me?” He laughed. “You’re my whole world Mari. I don’t want to lose you.”
“So you try to spoil me? That doesn’t make sense.”
“I just...I just want to give you everything you deserve. I’m just...afraid I’ll lose you too at some point. You know everyone I love tends to just leave.”
“They didn’t leave you. Not on purpose anyway.” She reminded him. “And I won’t either. Even if what we have now will fall apart for some reason, you’re still going to be my best friend and honestly...you’d have to fuck up pretty badly before I’d drop you out of my life completely Chaton.”
Marinette gave his arm a light squeeze. “You know what?”
“I would be lying if I wasn’t afraid of losing you either.”
“Then let’s keep each other close Princess. There’s no way we’ll drift apart like that.”
“Sounds like a plan Chaton.”
“I sometimes have those.” He shot her another grin.
I will be honest, unlike the previous story, I only have one major plotpoint I'm working towards and one little one.
Not like, seven plotpoints I had to work with for 'a matter of family business'.
So all in all. I'm not completely sure where this story is going besides family fluff with a pinch of angst and sads.
But I'm going to try and finish this regardless.
Who knows, there might be a nice plot popping out of this along the way. ^^
Thank you all for reading so far! <3
Chapter 4: Burdens carried and kisses given
Adrien opens up to some people.
Lila makes a return.
Decisions are being made.
Adrien both loved and hated the end of the week.
He loved them because there was one thing he would be looking forward to, which was Marinette’s weekly delivery of pastries for his department.
She would hand them out, slip into his office and often plop down something on his desk, she had specifically made for him.
Be it a new recipe she needed him to test out for her, or an eclair accompanied by a loving kiss.
Sometimes even three.
Her visits were enough to brighten up his day and to remind him how incredible it was that the woman he loved, loved him back just as much.
There was just one thing which was able to ruin that mood.
A reoccuring event, much to his dismay.
Not that he would ever tell Marinette.
She didn’t need the added stress and he was sure he could handle this himself.
One sitting in front of his desk.
Her green eyes focused on him, accompanied by a sly smile that still gave him a chill every time he saw it.
“Again?” He asked her with a groan. “Do I even want to know how you got passed the front door security this time?”
“Probably. But not that I’m going to tell you my secrets Adrien.”
The blonde let out a heavy sigh. “Please get out mademoiselle Rossi. You have no business here.”
“Can’t I just visit my friend to apologize?”
He sighed again at her reasoning.
At the very least she had been consistent with that in the few weeks she had started to sneak into the building.
“I’m really sorry.” The woman continued. “I never meant to make such a mess. I really want to set things right if you would give me a chance. Your father manipulated me just as much as he did to you.”
He turned his attention back to the paperwork in front of him. “Doubtful.”
“Let me just help you. I can’t even imagine how hard it must be to bury your parents in the same month. I want to make things right. I want to be there for you.”
“And I want you out of this building. Don’t let me warn you again, because I will call security to escort you out. For the fifth time!”
Lila let out a amusing laugh before reaching over his desk.
Seemingly thinking he was joking.
Her painted nails reaching out to the small box of macarons Marinette had left for him earlier that day.
His eyes grew wide at her movement.
Dropping the pen he was holding, Adrien was quick to shove the box out of her way.
“Don’t.” He hissed. “Marinette made these for me. You’re not allowed to touch them.”
Again the woman let out a laugh.
One he would describe as being more ‘sinister’ than the first one.
“You’re still hung up on her?” She sputtered. “Oh Adrien. Open your eyes. She’s taking advantage of you. She would have never landed that commission from Jagged Stone if you didn’t give her a boost.”
He mentally slapped himself for boasting about that on his social media and in their last tutorial video.
Not that he could help it, he was just super proud of his girlfriend designing for a superstar like Jagged Stone.
So what if the entire world would know?
“She’s done work for him before. He has her number. He knows where she lives. If he wanted to commission her specifically, he would have tracked her down one way or the other.”
“Maybe. But you made it easy for her and she’ll take advantage of that again.”
“Bullshit. You don’t even know her like I do.”
The sly smirk returned on her lips, sending another shiver down his spine. “You’re right. I don’t. But I’m an excellent judge of character. I know when someone is being a snake.”
“Because you are one?”
“Only on Thursdays.” Lila smilled.
“Please just get out mademoiselle Rossi.”
Just speaking her last name left a bitter taste in his mouth.
He now understood why his partner had referred to his father as ‘that man’ for the past several years.
“So you really won’t give me a chance to make things right?”
“You’ve tried to sabotage my department and Marinette’s work. I told you that you’d better have a damn good reason for me to give you another chance and so far I haven’t heard any from you. Only bootlicking and a request to help you get a job. Which I did, because I’m too nice for my own damn good. But you turned that help down.”
She frowned. “Adrien please. Being a cleaning lady is below my education.”
“You asked for a position within the company and that’s the only one we had. Now go.”
The woman bit her lower lip.
Not making a move to get out of the room.
Again Adrien let out a sigh and reached for a button on his intercom.
Planning to notify Mary to get security to escort his old classmate out of the building once again.
Before he could do so, the door to his office swung open.
A head of blonde hair, wearing a pair of large sunglasses stomped into the room as casually as she possibly could.
“Adrikins! It’s time for lunch. Drop everything you’re doing and--” Chloé glared at the other woman, raising her sunglasses to make sure she wasn’t seeing things. “What is she doing here?”
“Chloé! It’s been a while.” Lila greeted her with a overly sweet voice. “I’ve just come to visit Adrien.”
Bright blue eyes fell on the box of macarons he was still craddeling in his arms.
The blonde reached out and took one from it.
This time, Adrien didn’t protest.
“She gets to have one?”
“Childhood friend privileges Rossi.” The mayor’s daughter spat back.
“That and Chloé isn’t trying to put a wedge between me and Marinette.”
“Neither am I!” She tried to defend herself. “I’m just trying to warn you about what she wants to do. That doesn’t make me a bad friend does it? That I care enough about you to warn you about her? I don’t want to see you get hurt Adrien. You’ve gone through so much already.”
He exchanged a look with Chloé and he instantly knew they were both thinking the same thing.
Lila Rossi was still full of bullshit.
“I appreciate the misplaced concern, but please get out.”
“He said to get the fuuuuuuccccck out Lila!” Chloé sang, pointed a well manicured nail towards his office door.
“Fine. Fine.” She huffed, getting out of the chair. “I’ll see you next week Adrien!”
She gave him one last smile, which he half guessed was supposed to be seductive, yet it didn’t fail to send another chill down his spine.
When the door closed Chloé turned towards him.
“What the everloving Hell was that all about?”
He groaned, letting his head rest in his hands. “She’s been getting into the building for the past several weeks. Claiming to want to make amends for what she did during last year’s fashion show.”
“The sabotage you told me about?” She frowned.
“That show where she actively tried to ruin Marinette’s dress?”
“One and the same.”
“God what a bitch.”
Adrien let out a amused chuckle. “Took the words right out of my mouth Chlo.”
“Can’t you have security prevent her from coming in or something?”
“Believe me. I’ve tried. She managed to slip past them every time. I don’t know how she does it and she doesn’t even bother paying attention to Mary. She just walks right on by and into my office without knocking.”
“Didn’t...you just do that too though?”
“Yeah, but you were expecting me and your secretary knows me by now so it’s no big deal when I do it.” Chloé flipped her ponytail over her shoulder. “I don’t know what kind of bull Rossi is trying to pull, but keep on your toes Adrikins.”
“Don’t worry.” He stood up from his desk. “I am and I will be. So eh...lunch right?”
“Yes!” The frown which had been on her face suddenly disappeared. “We have to discuss some things for when the newlyweds come back next weekend!”
“I thought we agreed to a simple dinner?”
“We can’t just do a simple dinner! That’s utterly ridiculous! Imagine that. Two of our best friends just got married and we celebrate with a simple dinner.”
“Okay so what do you have planned?” He grabbed his coat from the sofa in his office and opened the door for his friend.
His secretary gave him a nod before walking into her part of the office.
“I was thinking about not just having dinner. Maybe we can--”
“Chloé. They’ll be exhausted the moment they’ll be back. More than just a simple dinner is not going to happen. Trust me. Especially with Alya being you-know-what.”
“Ugh. You can just say she’s pregnant you know. Fine we’ll skip the wedding after-party. Of course we’ll have to back off from the alcohol too. To show some solidarity.”
He simply nodded before turning his attention towards his secretary for a moment.
The older woman just shot both of them a, somewhat, skeptical look.
“Mary. I’ll be back at three. Forward anything you need me for onto my desk and you have my number if there’s an emergency right?”
The redhead nodded. “Do you want me to tell the guys from security again to keep mademoiselle Rossi out of the building?”
“Please. I’m not sure how much good it will do, but please get it through their thick skulls that she is not allowed inside of the building under any circumstances.”
“I’m on it.”
He watched how she quickly picked up the receiver of her phone set and dialed the number to their security office.
“Maybe you guys need some sort of advanced security system to keep her out?”
“A little over the top isn’t it Chlo? She’ll give up soon enough when it’s clear she’s not getting what she wants.”
“And what might that be?”
Adrien shrugged. “Money, maybe? A job in the industry?”
He let out a snort as they left the office and made their way to the elevators.
“I’m serious.” Chloé pressed on. “You might not have noticed it since you’re an oblivious dork most of the time, but she had her eyes on you since day one. I’m betting she wants you as her trophy husband or something. Just to wave it into everyone’s face and be like 'Oh I’m an Agreste now so I’m important and always the center of attention’.”
He couldn’t help but laugh at the high pitched voice the mayor’s daughter threw up.
“Do you really think that’s the reason?”
She shrugged. “You never know.”
“Hey eh...could you do me a favor though?” The elevator dinged loudly before the doors opened.
“Depends on what it is.”
“Don’t tell Mari that Lila has been visiting me. She might get all fired up when she does find out and I don’t want her to have any more stress than she currently has with her job and the deadline and all.”
“My lips are sealed.”
“Thank you.” He stepped into the elevator. “So how was your date with Anansi by the way? I’ve been so busy last weekend en this week, I keep forgetting to ask you.”
Chloé shrugged. “It wasn’t really a date, more of a hook up. Which was fine too, I had a nice night and Nora is fine enough. Just really...intense.”
“I vaguely remember warning you about that.”
“That must have been very vaguely then because I’m pretty sure you didn’t. Oh well. It was fun for a night even if I was too dressed up for it.”
“I guess that’s the most important part. That you had a good night.”
“How was yours? You had a date with Marinette last week right?”
Adrien shrugged this time before pressing a button to make the elevator move down.
“What?! You idiot! You should have bought her something when I dragged you both into the jewelry store! Wait...was it me? Did I ruin your date?”
“That wasn’t the problem Chlo and no it wasn’t you either.” He laughed. “She eh...was struggling with something. Her mother was ready to get rid of some of her father’s stuff and well...Mari wasn’t and it had been bothering all afternoon.”
“She should have said something.”
“You know her. She rather doesn’t say if something is troubling her. Not at first anyway. But it’s okay. We’re going to have that official first date at some point.”
“Ridiculous. Utterly ridiculous.”
“So you keep telling me. It just is what it is and I’m actually okay with that.”
“Don’t you think things are moving too slow? I mean...it’s almost been a year Adrikins. Some people get married and divorced twice in that amount of time.”
“Some people. Yeah. But it’s good to take things slow. It’s a...welcome change from being rushed and pressured all the time. We love each other. She’s going to think about moving in with me. So we’re still moving forward in some way.”
“That makes sense.” The blonde woman muttered. “She’s spending a lot of time at your place.”
“Right?! Everyone knows it. She just worries about her mother’s wellbeing.”
“Of course she does. This is Marinette Dupain-Cheng we’re talking about. She’ll put the needs of a street cat before her own.”
Adrien held his tongue.
Trying not to blurt out how true that was.
“Just give it time Adrikins.” Chloé advised. “She’ll notice soon enough that you two, living together, is the most logical next step for her.”
“I know. I’m not saying I’m impatient or anything.” He laughed. “But eh...how’s your business going?”
“Good! I’ve got a meeting with three clients today so I’m afraid I only have time for a quick lunch and discussing this welcome back party for the newlyweds.”
“Shouldn’t we involve Mari? She’s their friend too.”
“We will. I will.” His childhood friend assured him. “I need to drop by the bakkery to forward some birthday cake wishes for a client anyway. I’ll keep her updated then.”
“Good. So what’s your initial idea Chlo?”
The elevator dinged open and the two of them stepped out.
“Dinner for sure and I was planning on going clubbing. But as you said, they might be too tired from their trip to even go and now that I think about it, tempting Alya with cocktails isn’t the best way to do it.”
“We could all crash at my place and watch a couple of movies? Catch up? I have a guest room and a comfortable couch.”
“Again. I know it’s comfortable. I picked it out for you remember.”
“You’ll never let me forget it even if I tried.” He joked. “Are you okay with taking the couch?”
“Of course not! I’ll drag my perfect ass back to my apartment instead. I’ll have to get up early in the morning anyway. Meetings you see.”
“Have I ever told you I’m proud of you?”
The blonde’s back straightened and a proud smirk appeared on her lips. “Yes. But I can stand to hear it again.”
Adrien chuckled. “I’m proud of you Chlo. You’ve come so far since before I left and you’ve grown well into your new role as a independent career woman. I’m proud to call you my friend and to have you as part of my family.”
“Honorary sis right?”
He wrapped an arm around her shoulder and pressed her briefly against him in a rushed side hug. “Absolutely.”
“You know. I’m proud of you too.”
She didn’t even need to tell him why she felt like that.
He knew exactly what she meant, as she had told him many times over how well he had taken all the crap thrown his way since he had gotten back.
“Yeah...well it hasn’t been easy.”
“I can only imagine. But you’re doing great and I’m proud of you for that.”
He beamed at her, yet at the same time he couldn’t help but get a flashback to a conversation he had with Nathalie earlier that week.
“My therapist suggested that you come with me when I have my appointment next week.” She had said. “She thinks it’ll help me process things better if there is someone there who understands what happened and how I feel.”
Adrien had frowned at that.
Therapy was something he was actively trying to avoid.
Not only because his schedule just didn’t seem to allow it for the time being, but also because he felt it was much easier to struggle through this like he had always done.
It wasn’t like he was feeling sad his father did what he did in the end.
By then he had already resented the man to some extent.
He had felt more affected by seeing his mother’s being buried than he had when his father’s funeral happened not long after.
The blonde figured, if Marinette could get over her loss, so could he.
But he didn’t want to turn away Nathalie’s offer, so he agreed to come with her.
Something he wasn’t looking too forward to this afternoon.
But it had to be done.
If he was lucky it was only a one time thing.
“Monsieur Agreste. If you don’t mind, I’d like to make an appointment for you to discuss things further.”
Adrien frowned at the older woman.
Her red lips smiling ever so slightly at him.
Black curls bouncing against her dark skin with every movement.
Seemed he wasn’t as lucky as he hoped he would be.
“I do mind actually.”
She gave him a patient nod. “May I ask why?”
“I just don’t think I need therapy to get over this.”
Nathalie put a gentle hand on his shoulder. “Adrien. Madame Cossato only wants to help. If nothing else, she’s here to listen to you. You can tell her things in confidence. Things you haven’t told me or Marinette.”
“I tell you guys everything.” He lied. “I’m fine. I’m...I’m fine. I can deal with mother’s death.”
“Are you sure it’s just that?” The therapist questioned. “I noticed that, whenever the subject of the late monsieur Agreste came up, you fall quiet and tense up. There might be some underlying issues you need to work out.”
He curled his hands into tight fists. “I’m sure.”
“Try one appointment. See how it goes. If not for yourself then for Marinette.” Adrien relaxed a little as Marinette's name left Nathalie's lips. “We both know, there’s some...trauma...for the lack of a better word...left inside of you. Keeping that in broke your father, don’t let it break you too.”
“I’ll...I’ll think about it.”
Again the therapist nodded.
She lifted some papers from her clipboard and pulled out a business card.
Leaning forward, she handed it over to him. “If you change your mind, you can call me on this number to make an appointment. Just to let you know, I do appreciate that you joined Nathalie in today’s session. Don’t be shy in talking to each other about what happened. If anyone can find understanding in your struggles, it’s the both of you.”
Adrien opted to not move or say a word.
He just wanted to get out of that office as soon as possible.
His father’s former assistant stood up from the office couch and offered a hand to the other woman.
She gleefully took it to briefly shake and Adrien found himself following Nathalie’s example.
“Thank you for your time doctor.”
“No problem at all madame Sancoeur. We’ve made a lot of progress today.”
Again, she nodded. “I feel more at peace.”
“Good. Good.” Doctor Cossato turned towards him once again. “Thank you for joining us for this session monsieur Agreste.”
“If it helps Nathalie.” He shrugged. “Let me know if, and when you need me to join her again.”
The psychiatrist gave another nod before he followed Nathalie out of the small room.
Adrien let out a deep and shuddered breath he didn’t even know he needed to let out.
“Are you okay?”
For a few seconds, the older woman didn’t reply.
Just glanced at him with a worried look in her eyes.
“Do you have time to get some coffee somewhere?”
“I guess. I’d have to let Mary know I’m not going to be coming back to the office then.”
“Tell her it’s a business meeting with me. She’ll understand.”
“Is it a business meeting?” He asked with a raised brow.
“It can be whatever you want to call it. But I feel we need to have a talk.”
Adrien let out a soft groan. “About father?”
“Among other things. Yes.”
“Didn’t we already do that the last hour?”
“Adrien.” Her voice turned soft. “I worry about you.”
“I told you...I’m fine.”
“You look too tired to be fine.”
“Just...stress from work.”
She handed him his coat and they walked out into the small hallway of the building.
“It’s more than that. I can tell.”
Maybe she wasn’t wrong about that.
But it certainly didn’t help the sour mood he was slowly feeling himself fall into.
He also knew Nathalie.
Even if he persisted and told her repeatedly that he was ‘fine’, the older woman probably wouldn’t let this rest until they had talked everything out.
Adrien felt his chest tighten at the thought of having to openly speak about the events of the previous year.
Just thinking about it felt like a heavy burden.
He eventually decided to give in. “Fine. I know a place closeby.”
A small café.
Pretty close to the cemetery.
It’s exact location etched into his memory.
The same café he had taken Marinette to after she had ran off, the morning they had a huge argument.
It was still as cozy and warm as he remembered.
Despite the awkward silence between him and his future business partner.
“This is nice.” She suddenly remarked.
“I come here with Marinette every so often. Usually after she wants to visit her father.”
“Do you visit yours? They are buried at the same cemetery aren’t they?”
Adrien nodded. “They are and...no. I haven’t visited father’s grave since we put him to rest. You?”
“Once.” She admitted. “A long while ago. I don’t know why, but...I went there to give him a piece of my mind.” Nathalie let out a chuckle. “A little too late. I know.”
“I...talk to mom too sometimes. Marinette says it helps her so I figured I’d try it.”
“I doubt you’d specifically go over there to vent. I must have looked like such an insane woman to everyone walking by. Just me...screaming at the resting place of Gabriel Agreste. Yelling at him that he was the one to blame for everything. That I tried to help him for his own sake. For his son’s sake. I screamed at his headstone that I used to love him, but now hated him more than anything else for how he treated you and the people around him. I kept repeating that he’s at fault but…”
“You feel it’s your own.” Adrien finished.
“I know. He has put so much responsibility on your shoulders Adrien. He forced you to do so many things and neither of us seemed to be strong enough to do anything about it.”
“We were puppets Nath. Puppets to an individual who ended up drowning in his own insanity. We both wanted to help. We did everything we could.” He let out a brief sigh before a familiar mantra passed his lips. “It’s not our fault. It’s not our fault.”
“I know. But it’s been hard moving forward and letting it all. At least it is for me. I can only imagine how it must feel like for you.”
He honestly wasn’t sure how to answer that.
“I just...know...I could have done something more.” She continued. “But doctor Cossato told me to not linger on the past and instead learn to accept it happened and step away from it.”
His throat felt dry as he spoke again. “How?”
“For me, she suggested focussing on what I cherish the most right now. To set goals I want to reach in my life. Simple things like growing out my hair or saving up for a new car or learning how to ride a motorcycle.”
“I can see you riding a motorcycle.” He nodded, trying to change the subject to something he could talk about without his stomach tying itself into knots.
“It was an example Adrien.” Nathalie smiled, sipping from her coffee. “But yes. It is something I’m planning to do someday. I don’t know if she’ll advice the same for you, but at the very least you’d be getting some guidance.”
“You can just say professional help you know, and I don’t need it.”
“It’s fine. It’ll pass. I just...need more time or something. I’ll bet I’ll be feeling better once the numbers from last season come in and work is less stressful.”
“We both know work isn’t the culprit here. You really look like you haven’t been sleeping much.”
He bit his lip.
Contemplating if he should tell her she was right.
Before his brain could stop him, he had answered. “Please keep this between us and please don’t tell Marinette either but...I haven’t.”
“Is it a mild case of insomnia or a big one?”
“More like nightmares keeping me up. Sometimes. Most of the times.”
“You haven’t told anyone?”
“Nobody but Plagg.” He mentally answered. “No. I figured they’d go away on their own but they’ve just be getting worse. It seems to go okay when Mari is sleeping next to me though.”
“Perhaps you should spend the night with her more often then.”
“I don’t want to inconvenience her. I’m sure it’s just because of work anyway.”
“I still doubt that. But you know what you’re feeling. All I can do is offer advice.”
“Go see doctor Cossato. Or any other psychiatrist.”
And just like that, what little remained of his good mood had vanished in an instant.
When he opened the door to his apartment, he was greeted by a delicious smell.
Peeking around the corner and into his kitchen, he was greeted by the sight of his girlfriend stirring something on the stove.
“Nobody told me there would be such a beautiful surprise waiting for me at the end of the day.” He practically purred.
“That’s why it’s called a surprise Chaton.” Her lips curled up into a smile. “Besides, you gave me a spare key. Would be a shame not to use it.”
He dropped his bag on the floor, walked over to her and hugged her from behind.
He could see several pots and pans on the stove, filled with vegetables, potatoes, two decent sized porkchops and what he guessed was some kind of sauce.
“You spoil me Bug. That smells so good.” He pressed a soft kiss against the nape of her neck, letting his lips linger longer than he needed to.
“I’m glad. I hope you’ll like it. Maman gave me this recipe.”
“Can I help?”
“No, it’s almost done. You can sit down and relax if you’d like?”
“That’s no fun. Can I at least kiss you?”
She let out a small chuckle and turned around.
The smile on her face instantly vanished.
The wooden spoon in her hand released and worry in her eyes.
“Are you okay?”
“Because you look like shit!” Plagg’s voice called out.
Adrien turned to see the small cat sitting comfortably on the counter of his little breakfast bar.
Next to him Tikki was happily munching on a cookie.
Marinette nodded. “What he said.”
“Wow. Thanks.” He deadpanned.
“Have you slept at all?”
“No!” His Kwami was quick to correct.
Adrien shot him a glare.
Marinette knowing nightmares were keeping him awake was the last thing he wanted.
She’d only worry.
She would be here for the entire weekend.
He could curl up against her and let himself lull to sleep by the sound of her heartbeat like he’d always do.
He’d be ready to face another week after that.
“It’s nothing to worry about.” The blonde quickly explained. “Just work. You know how it is.”
“Then maybe we should turn in early for the night.”
“I don’t feel tired.”
“Liar. You’re looking worse than when I dropped by the office today.”
“Which I absolutely adore you for. Those macarons pulled me through the rest of this shitty day for sure.”
“That bad?” She leaned forward, pressing her body more against him.
“Could be worse.”
“Then...after dinner...let’s fill up that huge bathtub of yours and have a good soak before we head to bed..”
“Ah. I see how it is.” He forced a smirk. “You’ve been eying that bathtub ever since you stayed over for the first time. Don’t think I haven’t noticed.”
“Okay yeah. I’ve been dying to try it out but have been too afraid to ask you if I could. It should help you relax more and the more relaxed you are the better you’ll sleep. A fine excuse to fill it up right?”
“Why would you even be too afraid to ask me to use the bath?” He chuckled. “It’s just a bath!”
“It’s huge! That’s so much water! I didn’t think you’d be happy with me using it. You never do.”
“Showers are quicker.” He reasoned. “But I would be willing to be purr-suaded to run a bath. If you’ll join me.” He purred softly into her ear.
He felt her melt against him.
Her bright blue eyes looking up at him in a loving gaze.
“I will, but your puns are still horrible.”
“You love them.”
“I love you.”
Adrien dipped his head down and placed a soft kiss against the corner of her mouth. “I love you too.”
She started to pull away from him, but he really didn’t want her to let her go.
So instead, he pulled her into a firm hug, burying his nose into the crook of her neck.
“A-Adrien?” His partner asked softly. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah. Just...I’m just so lucky to have you. You know.”
Something warm and soft pecked his temple. “I know. I’m lucky to have you too. But you need to let me get back to making dinner Chaton. Before it burns.”
“Right.” He let go of the embrace, giving her a smile. “Let me at least set the table for you.”
The dark haired woman nodded. “I’d appreciate that. I did some groceries for you too. Bought some of that wine you like.”
“You really didn’t have to.” He took off his coat
“I wanted to.” She turned back to the bubbling pots on the stove. “Besides, I figured you’d be too busy to do proper groceries for the weekend anyway.”
“I still had wine and a couple of snacks!” He shot back.
“Can’t make dinner out of those Chaton.”
“He absolutely can!” Plagg laughed.
The blonde didn’t miss the look of concern flashing over her face as she briefly looked over her shoulder towards him.
“But I could have taken you out to dinner?” He carefully suggested in a attempt to change the subject and ease her concern.
He nodded as he threw his coat over one of his bar stools. “All weekend.”
“We don’t even have to stay here if you don’t want to. How does a long weekend out of town sound? Oh...wait. The bakery is open tomorrow.”
“Actually…” Marinette turned towards him once more. “Maman offered to handle things tomorrow morning instead. So I can spend more time with you.”
Adrien grinned. “Your mom is the best! Have I told you that?”
“Noted and yes you have.” She laughed. “That aside, I don’t really feel like going out of the city right now. I’m not even sure where to go?”
“So back to the original plan of binging movies and cuddling it is?”
“I guess so.”
“Maybe you both can just have a walk if you feel like you’ll need fresh air.” Tikki suggested suddenly. “Have another attempt at a date maybe?”
“Yeah! Candles. Music. Dancing. Smooching. All that romantic crap is better done outside than inside.”
“Plagg.” The former model groaned.
“What?! I don’t want you two being all disgustingly lovey dovey in the same room house I eat my cheese!”
“A little late for that.” The red Kwami giggled.
“Well aware Sugarcube. Let me at least try to minimize the damage.”
Adrien raised a brow. “Damage?”
“Of me ruining your carpet with hairballs every time you two get all mushy.” The little cat grinned.
“You should be used to it by now.” Tikki pointed out before taking a bite of her cookie.
“And if you’re not, there’s a perfectly good cabinet over there for you to hide in.” Adrien nodded towards a small cabinet where he used to keep a small collection of his dvds and a first aid kit.
All of which Plagg had thrown out the moment the movie nights with Marinette, would turn more into makeout nights.
To compensate, Marinette had fabricated a place for the kwami to hang out on one of the shelves.
She had put a fluffy piece of cloth in there and had made tiny pillows for the two to sleep on.
Just so they would be comfortable.
Eventually, his partner had found some battery operated lights, which she also placed inside the cabinet.
Adrien couldn’t complain about his girlfriend’s little project at the time.
It had kept Plagg from speaking out his disgust whenever he kissed Marinette for longer than two seconds.
On top of that, they had this little, secret space they could share all to themselves which they seemed to enjoy.
“Watching a movie is actually a good idea!” Tikki chirped as he took some plates out of a cabinet above the sink. “We haven’t watched any in a long time.”
“That’s because you two already watched everything there is to see on Netflix.” The blonde muttered.
“Maybe, we should skip movie night this time.”
He blinked at Marinette’s sudden suggestion. “Are you sure?”
“You’re tired Chaton and from the sound of it, you haven’t really been taking good care of yourself lately either.”
“Why do you say that?” He walked away from her towards the dining table.
“Snacks for dinner? Really Adrien?”
“That’s just Plagg joking around.”
“No I wasn’t!”
“Maybe I’ve just been too busy to actually make myself a meal too. Or do some grocery shopping.”
“Which is weird.” Marinette remarked. “You were so willing to make dinner for me and maman last week. I figured you were practicing at home.”
“I was.” He admitted. “Just not the past week.”
“Are you okay though? For real I mean.”
He put their plates on their places before walking back over to her.
Leaning over, he gave her a reassuring kiss on her cheek.
“I’m okay. Honestly.”
“You know. I’m sure maman wouldn’t mind it if you had dinner with us every night you know. If you ever want to join us for a meal…”
“I’ll keep that in mind Mari. Although I’m done with work super late these days.”
“Doesn’t matter. I’ll save you a plate.” She smiled sweetly at him.
“You don’t really have to…”
“I insist. It’s no trouble really and it’s the least I can do.”
Adrien bit his lip.
She didn’t outright say it, but he could guess what she was thinking.
Why she was probably this worried about him.
It had been a genuine concern of hers ever since he had found out his father had been Hawkmoth.
And after that…
When he had to move to New York.
She knew he would skip meals when he wasn’t in the right headspace.
That he would throw any form of selfcare out the window.
He wasn’t doing the same thing now was he?
Adrien was happy.
For as much as he hadn’t been able to pursue his dream, he still felt happy.
He had his friends.
The woman he loved.
That’s all he needed.
“I mean it’s not like it’s that difficult you know.”
He blinked a couple of times as her voice pulled him out of his thoughts.
“Hmmm? What exactly Bug?”
“To make extra food for you. It’s no trouble. Besides. Maman makes too much all the time anyway. Enough for three.”
“I...guess she just isn’t used to cooking for two yet.”
His partner nodded. “So it really is no trouble if you decide to join us.”
“I’ll keep that in mind my Lady.”
He pulled open one of the kitchen drawers.
The silverware inside clattering happily against each other.
“I hope you’re hungry by the way. I brought over desert to.”
“Oh? What kind?”
“I made fruit tarts and I bought some ice cream. So your pick.” She shrugged.
“Sounds almost as divine as kissing you Princess.”
Marinette blinked a few times before her loud laughter suddenly filled up his apartment and he couldn’t help but laugh with her.
Just as quickly as his mood had soured, it started to lift again.
The first thing his eyes fell upon was a head of dark, short, messy hair laying next to him.
The second thing that caught his attention were bluebell orbs gazing lovingly had him.
His lips pulled up into a lazy smile. “Hey. Good morning Princess. Did you sleep well?”
“I always sleep great when you’re next to me.”
“Good enough to make me a cup of coffee?”
“Barely awake and my Lady already asks me to make her some coffee?” He asked with a chuckle. “Demanding this morning, aren’t we.”
“Well…I feel sore because of you. So you have to make it up to me somehow.” She smirked ever so slightly.
“Because of me?” He laughed. “I didn’t hear you complain last night my Lady. In fact. It was quite the opposite.”
A warm finger reached up to him and booped his nose. “Don’t be smug with me Kitty. Not this early in the day anyway.”
“Can’t help it. I haven’t seen you smile and laugh like you did last night in a while. If I had known a hot soak would do that, I would have shared the tub with you a lot sooner.”
Adrien propped himself up on his elbow, towering slightly above her as he rested on his side.
The grin he wore never leaving his face.
“What can I say? Last night was a delightful experience thanks to you joining me.”
“The feeling is mutual ma chère.”
“I can tell. You look...more you this morning.”
“More rested. More relaxed. More carefree. You know. More like yourself.”
“Maybe we both needed this weekend together.”
“Maybe. I could still do with a cup of coffee though.” He rolled his eyes at her repeated request. “Please?”
“I don’t know if I should.” Adrien shifted slightly, so his body was partially hovering over her own.
His arm found its way onto her hip.
His thumb tracing lazy circles on her skin.
“I said please.” Marinette pouted. “What more do I need to do to get some wake-up juice around here?”
“I think you know.” He replied with a twinkle in his eye.
“I think you do.”
His partner smiled a mischievous smile as she ever so slightly bit her lower lip. “Is it...a kiss?”
“That will absolutely will get you some coffee.”
“Two kisses for breakfast?”
The blonde chuckled. “You’re really are demanding this morning. Not used to that from you Princess.”
“Well...I’m feeling like we are having a very...blissful morning. I don’t really want to leave the bed. Besides. I made us dinner.”
“Sounds fair enough.”
“Two kisses for coffee and breakfast it is then.”
Her hand sneaked around his neck to pull him down to her.
Adrien found his body willingly following her motions until their lips met in a sloppy kiss.
The moment she pulled away, he pushed himself up from the bed.
Not allowing her to kiss him a second time.
“The price for breakfast however...now that is something worth more than just a kiss.”
Her innocent eyes glancing up at him with a hint of mischief in them.
“Four. Payment afterwards.”
Her pout turned into a smile. “Okay.”
“Great.” He leaned forward and pecked her forehead. “I’ll be looking forward to that.”
“Breakfast first. Eggs sunny side up please.”
“On toast.” Adrien nodded. “I remember how you like them. I’ll be right back with your coffee Mari.”
Leaving the bed, he made his way out of the room and into his living room.
Remains of the previous night still lingering here and there.
Empty soda cans.
A half eaten bowl of popcorn.
The shirt Marinette was wearing the previous night.
All abandoned in a fit of giggles, the moment they had decided their movie night was over and taking a bath had moved to the top of their priority list.
Truthfully, their movie had been long forgotten even before that.
If anyone would have asked him what it was about, or how it ended, he wouldn’t be able to answer it.
The only thing he did remember was that the movie was background noise for the longest time, as he was mostly focused on kissing every freckle he could see on his partners shoulders, just to hear her laugh.
“Someone had a good night.” Plagg’s voice suddenly remarked. “That dopey grin on your face tells it all kid.”
The blonde turned towards the small cat floating his way.
“It was. Had a good sleep too.”
“I figured as much.” The creature nodded. “Judging from the lack of black rings under your eyes.”
“I don’t know why. I just sleep better with her next to me.”
“Because you have someone you care about being close to you.”
“Do you think that’s it?”
“Pfff! I know that’s it kid. You told me you kept seeing her in your nightmares right? Well, now that she’s sleeping next to you and you know she’s okay, your brain won’t be tricked into thinking something is happening to her.”
“I...I’m not sure that’s how dreams work.”
Plagg shrugged. “Does it matter? You’re getting more rest than you did before.”
“I know. Just...don’t mention it to Mari okay?”
“Yeah, yeah. So you’ve asked me about a dozen times already.”
The blonde walked to the fridge and pulled a chunk of cheese.
It wasn’t the goey kind the small cat loved, but for early in the morning, it would have to do.
“I don’t get it.” Plagg continued as he was served the cheese. “You could just tell her you know. If anyone would understand it’s Spots.”
“I don’t want her to worry. That’s all.”
“Okay. Yeah. I get that.”
“Besides. I have you to open up to with all my woes.”
“Oh joy.” The small creature deadpanned.
“Is Tikki up yet?”
“Nah. Sugarcube is still asleep. She’ll probably wake up at sunrise or something. She always sleeps a lot during the colder months.”
“I’d ask if you sleep more during certain months, but I already know the answer to that.” Adrien chuckled.
“After all these years? I certainly hope so!”
He turned on the faucet, letting a cold stream of water run down towards the sink.
In the background, he could hear Plagg munch on the piece of cheese he had gotten for him.
For a moment, everything seemed like a peaceful Saturday morning.
The only sounds filling up the apartment were the clatters and stutters of the coffee maker.
The sputters of the eggs he was frying and the ticking of the toaster.
It wasn’t until Adrien noticed something walking around that he looked up from his cooking.
“Hey.” He grinned. “It’s not breakfast in bed if you don’t stay in bed.”
“Nobody said anything about having breakfast in bed Chaton.” Marinette smirked back as she reached out to hug his side. “Smells great.”
“It’ll taste great too. I’ve become an eggcellent breakfast cook.”
His partner groaned slightly, yet the smirk remaining on her lips told him she had enjoyed his little wordplay.
Her smile didn’t last too long as it was quickly replaced with a slight frown.
One which didn’t go unnoticed.
“You okay Bug?”
“Yeah...I just...I was wondering.”
“To move in.” She clarified.
“Oh! Oh, no no! Take your time Mari. Don’t think about that too much really. I don’t want to pressure you into anything you--”
“I want to.”
Adrien dropped the spatula he was holding into the frying pan.
Green eyes growing wide at hearing her words.
“Really?” He asked a little too hopeful than he would have liked.
“Really. I mean...I want to try. If that’s okay with you? To see if I’m ready.”
“Well, I talked to maman and she has no problem with me moving out, but I don’t know if it’s doable. Combining living here with working in the bakery so...if it’s okay with you...I’d like to have a trial run. Move in for a week or two and see how it goes?”
“And stay if it goes well?”
“Y-Yeah! Yeah of course that’s okay with me! Why wouldn’t it be!” Adrien exclaimed. “Just say when!”
“Okay! Great! Yeah! Next month is perfect.”
“You seem very...ecstatic all of a sudden.” She giggled.
“Of course! Why wouldn’t I be!” The young man noticed a red blush creeping onto her cheeks. “I mean...I get to wake up next to you even more. A-And kiss you more! And tell you that I love you more often too!”
“W-We need to talk about some things though.”
“Yes! Yes of course! Rules?”
“No! No not at all.” She assured him. “More like..how we are going to be able to work together on this. I mean...I have to get to the bakery on time every morning and who is going to be home first to make dinner? Do we have breakfast together or…”
“Mari. Sweet Mari. You’re overthinking this too much. Just...try it out first, like you wanted, and we’ll deal with the hurdles when it comes our way. We work best together like that and you know it Bug.”
She nodded briefly.
“But for the record.” He continued. “Yes on the breakfast thing. I’ll wake up earlier too to have it with you and drop you off at the bakery before I head to the office. I can pick you back up at the end of the day and we’ll make dinner together?”
“I haven’t even thought about it that way.”
“Really? It’s the easiest solution.”
“I didn’t want to force you to wake up earlier. You’ve been looking tired enough at it is lately.”
“If it’s for you.” He leaned towards to kiss the top of her head. “I’m willing to sacrifice a lot more than a little sleep.”
Chapter 5: Meeting up with familiar faces
Nino and Alya come back from their honeymoon.
Marinette meets a familiar face.
Tikki gives advice in exchange for cookies and Adrien is just tired.
“Alright. I’m off.” She heard Adrien mumble before he pecked her cheek.
“Wait!” Marinette called out. “Don’t forget your lunch.”
Small hands held out a white, paper bag decorated with the bakery's logo.
A few grease stains were already starting to seep through it from the freshly baked, buttery croissants inside.
“Bug.” He gave her another peck. On her lips this time. “You spoil me.”
“Someone has to.” She smirked.
“Oh, ma chère....” Adrien purred before giving her another peck, smiling against her lips. “You always know just what to say. Please. Let me hear more.”
The baker’s daughter giggled softly at his request, yet she complied with it regardless.
How couldn’t she?
If he needed to hear those words he wanted her to say, who was she to hold them from him.
“Adrien.” She gently took hold of his face. Feeling a slight stubble on his kin. “You are so good to everyone. I appreciate and love you so much. So. So much Kitty. You have no idea.”
“My dearest.” The young man said dramatically, pulling her closer towards him by her waist. “I swear you will be the death of me at this rate.”
Marinette giggled again, giving him one last, quick, kiss on his cheek before pulling away from him.
“Dork. You’d better go unless you want to be late to work.”
“Alas thou speaketh the truth fair Princess! I shall count the seconds until we meet again.”
“Which will be tonight before we visit master Fu remember?”
The blonde nodded. “Attempt number forty two at having a proper date.”
She raised an eyebrow. “I won’t count meeting up with our teacher as a date Chaton.”
“Well...not that part no. But afterwards.” He gave her a grin and wiggled his eyebrows.
“Adrien? What are you planning?”
“Can’t tell otherwise it won’t be a surprise.”
“Oh, look at the time. I should go. Can’t be late!”
Her partner started to walk out of the kitchen.
She called out to him once more, but he was already out of the bakery before she realised it.
“I wonder what kind of surprise he has planned for you?”
Marinette gasped at the sudden voice of her mother.
“Maman! You startled me.”
“I’m sorry dear.” Sabine chuckled. “I couldn’t help but listen in.”
“It’s okay maman and I actually have no idea what he has planned.” She frowned. “We’re just supposed to have tea with his old tutor and after that have dinner with our friends.”
“Well he might has something planned anyway. Knowing him.”
“Probably.” She shrugged.
“Whatever it may be, let me know if you’re sleeping at his place or back here okay?”
Marinette nodded, turning her attention back at the pastries in front of her. “I will. But...it will be weird maman. Not going to lie.”
“Moving out.” She carefully stated.
“Are you having second thoughts?”
She shook her head. “I’m actually more sure than ever that this is the right thing to do. It’ll just be weird waking up there instead of here.”
“You’ll get used to it soon Marinette.”
“I suppose. I just...haven’t even started packing yet.”
“You still have time. You both picked next weekend to move your things right?”
“Yeah. It...it seems so soon.”
Which she only had herself to blame for.
She did say next month.
Next month, at that point, had just been two weeks away.
A slight oversight on her part.
But then again.
They had come to a moving day together.
He hadn’t pressured her into anything, thankfully.
Her mother gave her a few reassuring pats on her shoulder before moving to the front of the shop.
“Don’t worry.” Tikki whispered to her from her hiding spot in Marinette’s apron once her mother was out of earshot.“It’s going to be like an extended sleepover. Just like last weekend!”
She nodded at the Kwami. “Thank you for trying to calm my nerves Tikki.”
The tiny creatures blue eyes lit up. “Anytime Marinette. It’s going to be alright. You’ll see. You’re just feeling anxious because it’s something new.”
“Besides.” The pocket sized deity continued. “If you’ll change your mind, you’ll still have your room here to go back to.”
“That’s...true. But unfair to Adrien.”
“He’ll understand if you find yourself jumping into things too early. He’s been nothing but understanding to how you’re feeling.”
“Which I still hate.” She muttered, breaking eggs into a bowl, a mixer purring loudly in the background. “I shouldn’t be feeling this insecure about making big decisions.”
“But you are and it’s perfectly normal that you are. I mean. What happened to your father was big and you couldn’t anticipate and fix things this time. You’re used to be able to fix most things even when you weren’t Ladybug. So you’re just insecure about yourself because something happened you couldn’t do anything about. It’s normal. It’s not your fault. You’re doing better.”
“Better. But not back to normal.”
“Things won’t go back to normal Marinette.” Tikki pointed out. “Things have changed and so have you. You don’t have to be like you were, back when you were younger. It’s okay not to be sure about things and the future.”
“It doesn’t feel okay.”
“It will. In time.” The Kwami assured her.
“Thank you Tikki. For your advice.” She smiled down at her apron. “I wouldn’t know what to do if you didn’t come back to me.”
“Anything for my favorite Ladybug. Although...my advice doesn’t come for free.”
The small creature let out a giggle, letting the woman know she was spot on with her guess.
Marinette tried not to linger too much on the little bit of nervousness she harbored about moving in with the love of her life.
It was a big step.
But also one she was willing to take with Adrien.
“It’s best to just let things happen.” Tikki had advised in exchange for another cookie.
Soon enough, the baker’s daughter found herself concentrating more on her work than her worries.
Decorating cakes and designing a new display for their window.
Between it all, she would give her mother a break and commandeered the register for a hour or so.
Most of their clients were familiar faces to her at this point.
People she had known from around the neighborhood since she was a little girl.
Regulars dropping by during their breaks to score a pastry or a croissant.
One of those faces stepping into the bakery however wasn’t new.
It had been close to the end of the day when a tall young man, with a guitar case on his back, entered the small Dupain-Cheng bakery.
His hair long, messy, dark and bearing a faded teal color mixed into his black locks.
Nails were painted black and she could see the outlines of a tattoo sticking out from the collar of his worn band shirt.
There was a familiar kindness in his eyes that triggered the memory part of her brain to work overtime and figure out where exactly she knew him
“Bonjour!” She happily greeted all the same.
“Bonjour Ma-Ma-Marinette.” He smiled at her.
Marinette narrowed her eyes for a second and it was at that moment her brain found the memory that was linked to this person.
“Holy shit! Luka?”
“Yeah. Glad to hear you still remember me.”
“Holy--! It’s been forever!” Stepping out from behind the counter she opened her arms, ready to give the man a hug.
One he accepted in an instant.
It was nothing compared to the loving hugs Adrien would give her, but it was firm and warm as any embrace she had received from a friend.
“It has been a long while hasn’t it.” Again he shot her a patient smile as he pulled away from her. “Five years I think?”
“Really? It doesn’t feel like five years.” Marinette frowned.
“It has and I see your song hasn’t changed one bit. It’s just as lovely as a melody as ever.”
She frowned even more, knowing how untrue that was.
“It has changed actually.”
“It still sounds lovely to me Marinette. Even if we haven’t spoken in a while.”
“A long while.” She nodded. “That was partially my fault. I eh...kind of...went off the radar two years ago.”
“For good reason probably. You’ve never done something without a good reason as far as I can remember.”
She nodded, reluctant to go into further details.
So she didn’t and decided changing the topic of the conversation was the best way to go.
“So eh...how are you? Still touring?”
“I’m good. Really good. Happy to see you again and eh...nah. Not anymore. Been back for about a day or two now. It was fun though. Got to see a lot of places and play with a bunch of awesome people."
“Good. Glad to hear you’re doing good Luka.”
“It’s nice to be home again.” He shrugged. “Kind of missed it.”
“I can imagine.”
“Hey eh...I don’t suppose you have time to catch up? After your shift?”
The young woman gave it a moment of thought before agreeing to the idea with a nod.
“I should have half an hour before I need to go.”
“Oh? Did you have plans tonight?”
“Yeah. I’m picking up some friends from the airport and then we’re going to eat. You remember Alya and Nino right?”
“They should be coming back from their honeymoon and Chloé arranged a whole get together to welcome them back so--”
“Yeah. You know. Chloé Bourgeois? Daughter of the mayor.”
“Ah.” The man musician nodded. “The wicked witch of Paris.”
Marinette frowned even deeper, not sure if Luka was joking or merely recalling the moments she had complained about the blonde to him.
“She’s not like that anymore. She’s changed. We’re friends these days actually.”
“Well...if you’re sure.” He shrugged. “It’s so like you to see the good in people. I just hope she won’t break your trust. Knowing her history with you.”
“She won’t. She could have a long time ago but she didn’t. Not yet. We’re on good terms now. Neutral terms.”
Luka nodded in understanding. “I eh...I’ll be honest. Not something I ever expected you to say.” He chuckled. “Not after everything you told me about her.”
“Some people change.” She shrugged.
Luka gave a short nod. “That they do.”
“I’ll bet you have too. I mean. There has to be a story behind that tattoo of yours right?” Marinette nodded towards the dark lines on his skin. “I couldn’t see younger you getting one.”
“There is a story behind that. A long one actually. If you want, I could tell you all about it over coffee? Since you have to go soon.”
“That sounds nice. We can properly catch up then.”
“Awesome. So. When works for you Marinette?”
“If we drink it back here, I could be available tomorrow?”
“I’ve got nothing planned.”
“I’ve got a break around ten. Will that work?”
“I’ll meet you then. But eh...as a unrelated side note...I am kind of peckish. I originally intended to buy something when I walked in here. Although seeing you has been a nice surprise.” He laughed. “Don’t suppose you have something to feed a starving artist?”
“Oh poor you.” She joked. “I might have something left over. Anything specific you’re in the mood for?”
“No. Nothing specifically.” He flashed her a charming smile. “Surprise me.”
Marinette could softly hear Adrien snore against her.
A snore, which half sounded like a cute purr.
How he even managed to produce such a sound, she had no idea and she had known him long enough to not linger on the question if it was magic related or not.
Not that it mattered.
Having Adrien curled up against her, his head on her shoulder, was almost magical in and off itself.
“Dude’s all knocked out.” Nino remarked in a whisper as the movie they were watching showed the end credits.
All Marinette could do was give a confirming hum, afraid her boyfriend would wake up if she made more noise than that.
“Not surprised.” Chloé flipped her hair over her shoulder. Her voice uncharacteristically soft as she spoke. “Adrikins has been working so much lately. He’s hardly had time to have lunch with me. Just ridiculous. Utterly ridiculous.”
“Maybe we should just crash at home for the night?” The DJ suggested, giving his wife a questioning look.
“It’ll be fine.”
“You sure girl? I mean…”
“It’ll be fine.” She once again assured her best friend. “He’s just tired I guess. I doubt we’ll be a bother to him even if he is exhausted. Besides. It’s really late.”
“Not our fault.” The blonde woman scoffed. “You guys were here beyond fashionably late. What were you even doing?”
How would she even answer to that?
It wasn’t like she could tell the truth.
That she and Adrien had gone one a quick patrol of the city as their superhero selves.
How they stopped to take down a mugger cornering an older man in a alleyway.
That they ran late because it took forever for the police to show up and because of that they were late for their lessons with master Fu and as a result also late getting back to Adrien’s apartment to meet their friends.
It had been a series of events causing their planning to slightly spiral out of control.
“No. Wait. Nevermind. I think I can guess.” The blonde’s face scrunched up.
Nino made kissing noises, to which Chloé just nodded and Marinette felt her face heat up in an
Of course hearing Alya laugh in response didn’t help either.
They weren’t completely wrong of course.
Their patrol had been more of a excuse to hang out together and with Chat Noir and Ladybug being who they were...well...a game of flirting quickly turned into lips colliding into each other.
That hadn’t helped them being on time either.
She had to have a talk with her partner on how it was important for them both to be professional when wearing the masks.
They couldn’t let themselves get distracted by each other.
Even if that was easy to fall into with Hawkmoth gone.
“No need to feel ashamed Mari. We get it.” Nino assured her. “You guys can’t keep your hands off each other. All part of young love man.”
“I wouldn’t feel ashamed if you didn’t start teasing me about it.” Marinette pouted.
“Where’s the fun in that?” Both the reporter and the mayor’s daughter replied in tandem.
“You guys are mean.”
“Oh, come on Dupain-Cheng. It’s a two way thing. You’re perfectly allowed to tease us back.” The blonde laughed. “That’s what friends do right?”
The man leaning against her started to stir. “It’s the only reason I’m not blowing up. Because it’s coming from you guys.”
“Hey! Sleeping Beauty is awake.” Nino chuckled.
“And I didn’t even have to kiss him.” She added with a smile.
“Wha? What are you guys mumbling about?” Adrien asked tiredly before snuggling closer against her.
“Oh. You know. Things.”
“Hmm. Things huh?”
“You had a nice nap dude?”
“Yeah. Shit. Sorry. I didn’t mean to...go into a food coma I guess.”
“We don’t blame you Sunshine.” Alya assured her. “It’s getting pretty late anyway. We should turn in for the night.”
“Which is my cue to leave.” Chloé stood up from her seat.
“You sure you don’t want to sleep here?”
“Adrikins. As delightful as that sounds, I told you, I have an important client to meet up with tomorrow morning. I’m closer to my appointment if I sleep at home.”
The blonde nodded.
“We should hang out again soon though.” Marinette found herself suggesting. “For a whole day. Like before?”
“The last time we did that it was in the week before our wedding. Another girl’s day out?” Alya asked hopefully.
“I’ll hang out with my bud all day when you guys do. We need to have some bro time again man. Been too long.”
Adrien let out a confirming hum, letting her know that he was close to falling asleep again.
“Awesome! I’ll text you guys with available spa dates.”
“I could use a spa day.” Alya groaned. “Hawaii was fun, don’t get me wrong, but puking your guts out every morning not so much. Also my back has been killing me. I need Jörgen’s magical hands to knead out those kinks.”
“Babe! Why didn’t you tell me? I could give you a back rub if you needed one.”
“Honey. I need a deep tissue massage. Not a gentle petting.”
Marinette couldn’t help but let out half a loud laugh before her hands flew up to muffle the sound coming out from her.
“I am hurt babe. Hurt.” He patted onto his chest. “Right here.”
“Awww baby. Come here.” Alya leaned forward and planted a kiss on her husband’s lips.
“Ugh. It’s getting too mushy for me here. Don’t get up. I’ll show myself out.” Chloé groaned before taking a step towards the baker’s daughter.
Leaning down, she pecked a short kiss on each of her cheeks and she did the same in return.
“I’ll see you later this week Marinette. More cake orders you know.”
“I’ll see you later then.”
The blonde leaned over towards her sleepy partner next and gently pecked his cheek only once, not that he moved enough for her to even kiss him goodbye on the other cheek.
“See you later Chlo.” Adrien mumbled.
“Monday. For lunch. I don’t care if you’re in a meeting, I’m going to drag your butt out of that building regardless.”
“Get some sleep Adrien.” She turned towards the newlyweds. Her nose scrunched up a little at the display of giggles and kisses between the two. “I’m just...not going to bother with those two this time. Have a great night everyone!”
“Have a good night Chloé and thanks for organizing this.”
The blue eyed woman gave Marinette a proud smile and a nod before taking her leave.
Their other two friends bidding her a hasty goodbye when they noticed she was leaving.
Adrien’s front door hadn’t even fell into the lock before Alya and Nino stood up from their seats.
“Time to get some sleep too.”
“Are you sure?”
“Mari. Hun. I’m exhausted to be honest.”
“Same dudette.” Nino added. “It’s been a long flight getting back here. I love hanging out with you guys, but we’re beat.”
“Besides. We have to tell our parental units the news tomorrow. We’re going to need all the energy we can spare for that.”
“Sounds exciting.” Adrien mumbled.
“Did...did we tell you the news by the way?”
“Officially you’ve only told me, Al.” Marinette reminded her. “But I did share it with Adrien on the condition he’ll keep his mouth shut.”
“Which I did.”
“Which he did.” She nodded.
“Chlo found out on her own.” Her boyfriend yawned.
“Yeah...that was an awkward conversation. She wasn’t all that happy when I only shared the news with Marinette then. Honestly...I wanted to...it just slipped my mind with the wedding stuff and I didn’t want to bother her and have her cancel things just because I couldn’t have them..”
“It worked out and it was a lovely wedding Alya. Don’t worry about it.”
“Yeah. Yeah you’re right girl.”
“The only thing we need to worry about it how your parents, and especially your sister, are going to react when they hear the good news.” Nino sighed. “And to keep you as comfortable as possible for the next six months.”
“Ugh. Don’t remind me. I already feel so done with this and I’m not even showing yet.”
“Well I am reminding you, because you also need your rest.”
He took hold of his wife’s hand and pulled her into the direction of the guest bedroom.
“Let me know if you two need anything you can’t find!” Adrien shouted after them.
They didn’t reply and it seemed like her partner really didn’t care too much if they heard him, as he slumped back down against her.
“You okay Chaton?”
“Just tired. Our final sale numbers from last season are going to come in next week and it has everyone on edge. Especially the higher ups.”
Marinette gently let her fingers brush through his golden locks. “How come?”
“Because the expected estimate doesn’t bode well for the future. Finances estimated that we’re making thirty percent less this season than we should be.”
“Yeah. Which would make it our third season with a loss that big. The company won’t be able to make it through the end of next year at this rate.”
“There is so much work to do Bug.” He groaned.
“It’ll work out Adrien. You’ll see. If I can help in any way, just let me know too okay?”
“You’re already helping. Big time.”
“Well...let me know if I can do more okay?”
“I don’t want to push you.” He yawned. “You’re busy enough as it is.”
“True. But work is draining you Chaton. I hate to see you like this.”
He gave a nod. “I know. That’s why I bailed out of the building early today. I couldn’t really handle it all anymore either. Gave the rest of the team off too. Not sure if they left or not.”
“You deserve a few hours off Kitty. You work so hard.” Marinette leaned down, her lips softly kissing the top of his head. “So very hard.”
“I know. It never seems I work hard enough though.” He let out a chuckle. “Wow. That’s exactly how I felt with my father...funny how that hasn’t gone away even after he died.”
She pressed another kiss on the top of his head. “I think we should skip that surprise you talked about this morning and just get ourselves straight to bed. Cuddle up and just fall asleep. How does that sound.”
The woman watched as he closed his eyes and leaned more against her. “Sounds good. Your surprise can wait until the morning.”
“Sleep in tomorrow. You need your rest.”
He opened his eyes again.
Bright pools of green gazing up at her, accompanied by a worried gaze.
“What about the bakery?” He argued. “Don’t you need help?”
“That’s sweet of you Adrien, but I’ll manage. You just rest up so I don’t have to worry about you passing out on me when we record our next tutorial.”
“Oh. Right. I almost forgot about that.”
“I’m planning to show them how to make your favorite.”
“The Marinette special?” He gasped.
She nodded. “The Marinette special.”
“Are you sure you want to share your secret macaron recipe with the world?”
“Oh, no! No not at all. The secret of my recipe will stay a secret Kitty. We’ll add those off camera and just call them special ingredients or something and give alternatives on what they can add in there for their own macarons.”
“I’ll need your help with that though.”
“Anything for you Bugaboo.”
“Then. I want you to drag yourself to bed. Cuddle up with me and call it a night.”
“Alright Bug. Just because it’s you.”
His words came out in a tired sigh before he pushed himself upright.
She noticed his gaze lingering on the empty containers of food they had ordered prior to their movie night starting.
Adrien didn’t last ten minutes after dinner before falling asleep.
“That’s a problem for tomorrow us.” Marinette assured him, standing up from the couch.
“Tomorrow us won’t be happy about it.”
“Tomorrow us can suck it up with renewed energy now us doesn’t have.”
Her partner pushed himself off the couch.
His movements sluggish, his eyes half liden.
Yet he still managed to give her a amusing smile.
“You make a compelling argument as always Marinette.”
“Come on Kitty.” Her fingers found their way to his own, wrapping around them in a gentle hold. “Let’s
She found that she didn’t even needed to pull on him that much for him to follow her into the bedroom.
The moment she let go, he plopped down on the mattress, not moving at all, merely observing her as she undressed herself to get ready for the night.
“I’m stealing one of your shirts to sleep in okay.”
“As you do every time you sleep over.” Marinette heard him chuckle as she opened up his closet. “At this point I’m pretty sure me telling you not to, won’t stop you anyway.”
“Damn right. Besides. It’s not like I’ve got a nightgown here or anything.” The dark haired woman argued back.
“What if I got you one. Something...cute and lacey. Red? Maybe pink.”
Coathangers were clanking together as she pulled one of his button up shirts from it.
Putting the oversized piece of clothing on, Marinette couldn’t help but inhale the sweet scent of the soft cotton.
She really did adore the fabric softener he used for his clothes.
Although she would never tell him that.
Nor how she now associated the lavender-like smell with him.
“Are you sure that’s going to be for me and not for you?” She asked in a joking tone.
“Bit of both maybe.”
The woman let herself plop down on the bed. “I wouldn’t mind if you ever got me something like that really. Not that it’s going to stop me from wearing your shirts.”
Marinette glanced over to her boyfriend.
He had only moved from a sitting position, into a lying position.
His body sinking into the thick blanket.
Hands folded onto his stomach.
Legs bent over the edge of the bed.
“I was afraid you might say that.” Adrien let out a tired chuckle. “Although I love seeing you wear something with lace.”
“I know you do.”
“You know. Maybe I’ll get you something like that soon. Something I’d think you’ll like to wear. If only so I don’t run out of shirts that quickly when you move in.”
“Or. Maybe we should buy you more shirts.” She giggled.
“Also an option.”
He flashed her a tired smile.
Their conversation having died down and it just being them.
Basking in each other’s company.
There was something about him which felt oddly familiar to her.
“Are you sure you’re tired because of work?” Marinette asked softly.
“I don’t know. It’s just...you have a look…”
“A handsome look?” He tried to joke.
The baker’s daughter furrowed her brows. “A…’I’m ready to be done with everything’ look. I’m not sure how to describe it better.”
The tired smile he had worn on his face dropped in an instant.
“I’m fine.” Her partner tried to assure her. “It’s just a shitshow at the office like I told you. I’ll get through it.”
“If you’re sure that’s it.”
“I’m sure. Even if I wasn’t, I’d tell you Bug.”
“Would you really?”
“I would. Unless it would worry you to no end.”
He reached up, brushing his hand against her cheek.
“I might worry regardless.” Marinette replied. “It’s just...I see a bit of how I used to be in you right now.”
“In what way?”
“I don’t know…” She shrugged. “Trying to carry everyone’s problems on your shoulders? Seeing you getting more tired every day because of it. I’m afraid you’ll start shutting out people next like I did.”
“And lose you? No way Mari. I won’t go down that road. No matter what. It’s just…” The blonde waved his hand in the air to make a vague gesture. “It’s just immensely tense at the office right now. People worry. I worry. I’m working with Nathalie on a plan to make sure as many people as possible can keep their jobs.”
Adrien sighed deeply before continuing. “It’s a mess Bug. I’m a mess.”
“A hot mess.”
A small smile curled up on his lips at her reply.
“Just...tell me if something is really bothering you okay? Please? Sometimes it just helps talking about it. And...if it gets worse...maybe go see a professional?”
“You too huh.”
“What do you mean?”
“Nath suggested the same thing not so long ago. I don’t know. I’ll probably be fine once everything is stable again.”
“Okay. If you say so I’ll take your word for it Chaton.”
Marinette leaned forward to press a chaste kiss on his lips.
“I love you.”
The woman looked at her partner.
Adoration filled his tired eyes.
“I love you too Adrien.”
He didn’t reply right away.
He just...looked at her with the same adoration she was so used seeing from him.
“I...I forgot what I was going to ask.”
Marinette let out a snort, followed by a short moment of loud laughter.
“That’s a sign you need to get some sleep.”
“Wake me up tomorrow morning before you go?”
She shook her head. “You need your rest. Which means more than five hours of sleep. You can meet up with me at the bakery tomorrow to help record.”
“So that means I won’t be able to show you the surprise.”
“Can it wait? I mean...surprises are fun, but your wellbeing matters more to me.”
“Yeah. Yeah I guess it can wait. Will you sleep over here this weekend?”
Marinette bit her lip as she thought about his offer.
“Okay. But only if you don’t mind me working a bit on my designs here. I don’t want to fall behind schedule.”
“Of course I don’t mind Princess. I’ll have some work to catch up on as well so maybe we can just keep each other company doing our own thing for a while.”
“Movie night after?”
“Only if you’ll let me make you dinner.”
Again she leaned forward to place a soft kiss on his lips.
“That’s eh...quite the departure from what you wanted huh?” Luka chuckled before sipping his coffee.
“That’s life. Throwing you in one mess after another.” Marinette shrugged. “But I kind of like taking over papa’s work now and it’s not like I’m not doing fashion anymore either.”
“Ah. I see. Still doing commission work?”
She happily nodded. “Absolutely! Jagged Stone himself asked me to design his tour outfits for next year! I just need to make some slight adjustments and two more jackets and they should be done before Christmas.”
“That’s so awesome! You’ve done so much work for Jagged at this point, you’re like his personal designer or something. Very cool.”
“Thank you.” She giggled. “So eh...what about you? Now that you’re done with your musical backpacking through Europe.”
He shrugged. “Find a job I guess?”
“That might be touch. Competition is harsh among musicians in this city.”
“Well aware Marinette.” Luka chuckled. “I’ll take any gig I can get honestly. Let music be a side thing for now. I never planned on being famous or anything with my music. I just want to share it and make a living out of it eventually.”
“Still a hard thing to do.”
“That’s why I’ll be looking for normal work for now. Something to help pay the rent at least. I don’t suppose you have an opening here?”
“I...I don’t know? How are you with baking?”
His face scrunched up. “Horrible. Don’t ask how I know.”
“Okay. I won’t.” She giggled.
“I’m great with making deliveries though. Cleaning up, talking to people. If you need any of those skills I’m your guy.”
“It would be nice to have some cleaning help and it might help being able to do more deliveries.”
The musician perked up at hearing her muttered words. “Really?”
“Unfortunately. I’m not the one deciding who to hire when it comes to new staff.”
“That’s your mom right?”
“Not just my mom.” Marinette admitted shyly. “Officially the bakery has two owners now and since he’s in charge of most of the finances...you’ll have to ask him I guess.”
Luka’s moment of optimism instantly vanished.
A small hint of disappointment on his face.
“He did say we have funds to hire someone, so who knows. He might be persuaded to hire you?”
“Is he easy to persuade?”
“I have my ways.” She joked. “If you stick around a little bit we can discuss everything directly? Adrien is supposed to drop by at the end of the morning.”
Her boyfriend’s name left Luka’s mouth in a strange way.
One which she couldn’t exactly determine if it was surprised, shocked or bitter at knowing he was the other owner of the bakery.
“Yeah. Adrien Agreste. You remember him right?”
“Hard to forget actually. He has one of those faces.”
“He wasn’t a model for nothing.” Marinette joked. “But eh...yeah. He’s our business partner. Helped us out tremendously when papa died. Made sure the business didn’t go under.”
“That’s nice of him to do.”
“It was. I...I still feel so bad for yelling at him for that.” She chuckled. “He just wanted to help back then and I pushed him away. Said everything would be fine. But...without him going behind my back, we would be on the streets by now.”
“I’m glad to hear things worked out.”
“How about you?”
“Last I heard from Juleka, your mother became sick too.”
He looked into his cup of coffee at hearing her say that.
Brows furrowed and gaze downward.
“Mom passed away too. Before I left.”
Her eyes widened.
“I...I had no idea. Oh Luka. I’m so sorry.”
“We never told anyone really. Mom didn’t want anyone to know she was sick. We sold the boat to pay for her funeral and everything. I eh….I’m crashing at Jule’s and Rose’s place until I can get a place for myself right now. Traveling around actually helped a lot with dealing with the loss of mom. Weird as that sounds.”
She nodded in understanding. “I get it.”
“Now that I’m back, I’m just trying to get my life back on track you know. Find a way to write a new song.”
“I’m almost the same. Just...looking for some normality in my life.”
He gave her a smile and a nod. “A underrated treasure that is. Normality.”
“I’ll drink to that.” She laughed, taking a sip of her own coffee.
“But I’m glad you’re doing good now Marinette, finding your own song. Speaking of which, I’ve been thinking a lot about your melody recently.”
“Oh?” She tilted her head slightly in confusion. “Why’s that?”
“Honestly? Well I eh…”
The sound of the front door being slammed shut interrupted their conversation.
A few moments later, the exhausted form of Adrien Agreste slumped into the kitchen.
Marinette looked him over only once before coming to a conclusion.
He hadn’t slept in at all.
“Not a word.” He muttered to her.
“You were supposed to rest.”
“I’ll rest when I’m dead.”
“You were also supposed to come in a lot later.” She shoved her cup of coffee towards him.
The blonde, although seemingly exhausted, didn’t miss a beat and took hold of the cup instantly before drinking the remainder of her drink.
“I know. I just couldn’t get back to sleep after having breakfast with Alya and Nino.” Green eyes then noticed the other person in the kitchen. “Luka? Hey man. Been a while. How you’ve been?”
“Hey.” He stood up and gave him a handshake. “I’m good Adrien. I’m eh...sorry about your old man. I heard it on the news a while back.”
“I’m not sorry.” He muttered back before finishing her coffee and putting the cup back on the counter. “He was an asshole.”
“Finally saying what we were all thinking I see.” Luka laughed.
“I can now and it’s not like he’s less of a asshole now that he’s six feet under either.”
“I can only imagine.”
“So what brings you back here?”
“Catching up with Marinette over coffee and looking for a job.”
“I don’t suppose we can hire him?” She asked her partner.
“You mean, so you can go back to design school?” He asked hopefully.
“No. So I can have more time on my hands to bake.” She laughed. “Having a delivery boy and a assistant around here would really get some pressure off me and maman.”
Much to her surprise, he didn't need much time to think of an answer. “Okay.”
“Really?” The other man softly gasped. “Just like that?”
“I’ll need to talk to madame Cheng about this, but yeah. If you feel we need an extra hand around here, we’ll hire some extra help Mari. Luka is someone we both know, so I’m okay with hiring him.”
“Thank you Chaton.”
Standing on her tiptoes, she pressed a kiss against his cheek.
“Anything to help Bug. Now...where do you want me?”
“To help you bake?”
“I’m up anyway.” He argued. “Might as well be useful.”
“Go talk to maman in the front first, I’ll have a job for you when you two are done discussing things.”
“Alright. Fair enough Princess.” Leaning over, he gave her a short kiss before leaving the kitchen.
“You sure you want to put him to work? He looks like shit. No offence.”
“You’re right Luka and...no. I’m hoping to I’ll be able to convince him to take a nap before we start recording.”
Marinette gave him a proud smile. “Yeah! Me, Adrien, Nino and Alya have this little baking show on Youtube. We record tutorials and do livestreams and everything. We even did a big charity thing last year. It has really helped us gaining customers again.”
“It is! Hey. I’ve got an idea.”
“Do you now?” He smiled. “Okay Marinette. Let’s hear it.”
“Do you want to help out today? I was planning to show our audience how to make macarons, but it could be more fun to have a third person there to help out. Or help me make sure Adrien doesn’t fall over.” She bit on her lips. "Alya and Nino can't come around today so we could use some extra help with this."
“You know what. It sounds fun and I don’t have anything else planned. So why not.”
“Hey eh...can I ask you a question?”
“Are you and Adrien…” He motioned between her and the door her boyfriend walked through.
“Are me and Adrien...what exactly?”
She gave a nod. “We are.”
Luka gave her a nod back. “Okay. Cool.”
“Wasn’t that obvious?”
“You guys kissed each other’s cheek all the time before I left Paris.” He pointed out. “Back then it was just a friend thing, you said.”
“Yeah. I guess it kind of wasn’t? We only just realized it last year that we’ve always loved each other in a romantic way. When Adrien came back from New York actually. I think you were gone for a year before he even left?”
“Could be. I didn’t have much contact with home base then. But I’m glad. Adrien’s good. I hope he’ll make you happy.”
“He has so far. He helped me...how did you say it again...find my song?”
“Yeah.” He laughed. “Exactly like that.”