Adrien Agreste doesn't grow up with nannies, he doesn't grow up with a stern looking governess or Mary Poppins, nor dose he grow up with a team of ex-militant contractors watching his every move. No, Adrien Agreste grows up with a peacock kwami hovering over him.
Duusu is his first friend.
Whilst his mother films another movie and his father designs another fall or spring or winter or summer line in Milan or somewhere a thousand miles away Duusu plays peak-a-boo with him in his mothers tailer. Duusu gets him to eat his broccoli because after a hundred times over dealing with peachicks and their fussy eatting habbits isn't nearly as hard as it once was. And it's Duusu who lulls him to sleep with tales of past wielders, tales of adventure and heroics.
Duusu is also the first person he loses. Adrien Agreste is eight when his sechudel becomes more packed- more tutors, his fencing lessons begin, piano had started the year ago and Madrin since he could remember -and his mother gets paler. Emilie Agreste who could have once been compaired to a star starts to dim.
She starts to get tired more and in relation Duusu dose too Adrien learn long before he meets Plagg that what affects the wielded affects the kwami. The tiny peacock kwami that used to lead Adrien around the manson garden's in reenactments of past, unwritten tales suddenly doesn't leave his mothers side. Suddenly starts disapearing into the broach his mother had long ago bought from a Tibetan merchant until suddenly becomes permanently.
It's shortly after that Adrien Agreste finds his mother unresponsive in one of the long manson hallways. And it's after that, that Gabriel Agreste aquires a book on the Miraculous.
Around the time Adriens father appoints Gregory Cavilla, or rather Gorilla, as his bodyguard, his mother is taken out of the hospital and is placed in what reminded Adrien of Snow Whites coffin.
"The Miraculous can save her," Gabriel tells Adrien one day, the pair are in Gabriels office, Adrien sits in a leather chair thats seems to swallow him whole and Gabriel, with the light reflecting off his glasses, leans foward. "But they can only do so much."
The book his father had found in Tibet laid open on the desk between them, unreadable.
"What do you mean père?" Adrien wondered. He's ten by that time and though he misses his mother with all his heart he misses his friend more; because while it had been his mother who had been home with him it was Dusuu who had raises him.
Though he'd never tell his father that. Days after his mother had been found Gabriel Agreste had raged at the unresponsive broch. In the fashion molges eyes his mothers fate had been Duusus fault.
"Your mother needs our help too. Are you willing to help?" Gabriel wondered with a perfectly plucked brow raised. "Are you willing to do anything to help her?" Adrien is ten at this point and misses his mother with all his heart, so of course he nods.
His father's plan takes four years to take off and series of incredable events they hadn't even planned on occuring to happen.
Originally the plan had been to acquire a miraculas- the fox had been preferable but it's at a black market auction that Gabriel Agreste comes into the possession of the butterfly -and draw out the Ladybug and Black Cat miraculas. The book had, once Gabriel could read it, explained the unlimited, Emilie-saving power, the two miraculous shared when used together. Adrien was then supposed to go out into the world and cause the akumas that would take the miraculous.
Of course Nooroo had told Gabriel and Adrien of the sacrifice and of course Adrien had hesitated because he had been raised by a kwami so when Nooroo, the butterfly kwami tried to warn him and his father away from the venture his gut reaction is to listen.
But Gabriel waved the tiny god off; "Forget about that," he told both Nooroo and Adrien, "I already have a candidate."
And so Adrien listened to his father and he studied. He studied psychology in preperation of emotionally tourmenting Paris while his father practiced making akumas and he studied, while his father worked, the miraculous.
He studied Nooroo. Like a normal boy dose to any normal butterfly he stumbles upon in the park Adrien studied the kwami.
"You eat marshmallows?" Adrien wondered one night.
"Yes." Nooroo has stopped freely offering up information after he had told the pair everything he knew of the Ladybug and Black Cat kwami's.
"What did you eat before marshmallows?" Adrien had a notebook in his lap, a mechanical pencil in his hand and Jagged Stones newest album on in the background.
"Sugar." Adrien nodded.
"Père says you have to listen to your bonded, right?"
"Yes." Adriens mouth twisted oddly because how much if his childhood had been Duusu caring about him and how much had it been his mother instructing her kwami to babysit him?
"How far dose that that go?" Nooroo cocks his tiny head to the side.
"I don't understand."
"If my father told you to forget something would you forget it? Would you take the comand literally or figuratively and just drop the subject."
Nooroo was auite for a moment; "I would listen to my bonded."
"That doesn't really answer my question," Adrien said to the kwami. He then passed the tiny butterfly god a marshmallow.
It's quite for a minute. "Nooroo?"
"Could the Black Cat and Ladybug miraculous bring back maman and fix Duusu?"
Nooroo, pitifully, smiled sadly at the boy; "No. The Black Cat and Ladybug miraculous can only be used once for one wish. Even if you wished for the two things together only one would work."
"But you have the power of gods."
"No even gods can do everything Adrien."
And so Adrien had resigned himself to knowing that while his mother would be saved Duusu would be lost.
His mother would be saved-
He was given the Black Cat miraculous. Almost two years after his father had come into possession of Nooroo Adrien was given Plagg. Chosen; Adrien was Plaggs chosen. Nooroo and Duusu had come to his parents by chance and that's why they were bonded but Adrien had been chosen by the guardian of the miraculous and so he was the Black Cats chosen.
And that was where the plan changed. Adrien had gone from having to create the contions for an akuma to flourish to fighting them. To partnering with Ladybug, the hero of Paris, and winning over her trust.
Because she hadn't just revealed herself to him like a good partner would have done. So he worked for it; he flirted and pestered and even created an akuma here and there for the opportunity that perhaps after that battle Ladybug would transform amd show him who was the key in saving his mother only she didn't.
A year past and as Adrien made a best friend, a boy named Nino, and went to school and once more got used to sharing his bed with a pillow-hog of a loud mouth, entitled kwami he was no closer in getting Ladybug to unmask herself.
He was however, closer to having Plaggs words be on a constant repeat in his head. "The Black Cat and Ladybug miraculous are two halves of a whole, our chosens are too."
Adriens nose twitched. Plagg laid next to him alseep; the tiny god creatue laid streched out across the pillow, hogging most of it and by association his bed, to himself.
Two halves of a whole. Soul mates. The Ladybug and Black Cat chosen are soul mates. "Ladybug's my soul mate."
But that- it didn't not feel right, the words warmed Adrien to the core -it was just, the thought of getting his soul mate to trust him, to fall for him only to then steal her earrings right out from under her nose felt wrong.
He felt wrong.
Adrien squeezed his eyes tigether tightly and thought of his mother. He thought of her honeycomb smell and her brilliant smile and how she was his mother.
He thought of his mother and willed away any thought of Ladybug.
Adrien Agreste wasn't in love. He didn't love Ladybug. He didn't love how she bit her lip and turned away from him when he made a dumb pun on patrol or how she thought of him and how he was on a strict diet when she brought cookies and other sweats to share atop the Eiffel Tower so he could indulge.
He didn't love her bravery or kindness or ferocity or determination or even how she seemed to care about everyone and everything and how even though she didn't know it she constantly told him how she'd kick his own fathers ass.
He didn't love her.
Until he did.
Ladybug had given him the snake miraculous.
"I need you," she had told him; he ignored how the twinkle in her made butterflies swarm his stomach. He had told Plagg this was his chance to woo Ladybug as himself; his father had pointed out that Chat Noir was getting nowhere and if Chat wasn't getting anywere than his mother would never be healed and yet as he looked at her all Adrien wanted to do was take the snake miraculous in her hands and help her because she had asked him too.
It was stupid; he was stupid. He ignored the butterflies in his stomach and the twinkle in her bluebell eyes and took a deep breath in through his mouth.
"Me?" She held out a tiny miraculas box in the palm of her hands.
"Adrien Agreste," she beamed, "Here's the miraculous of the snake which grants the power of second chance. You will use it for the greater good." Adrien took the box from her, "Once we've defeated the akuma you'll return the miraculous to me. Can I la-er trust you?" She stumbled blushing.
Second Chance let him go back in time so when Ladybug dispeared that first time he hadn't blinked.
She has said she needed him agian with that same look in her eyes the second time around.
The second time she had vanished Adrien winced not because his heart broke at the sight if Ladybug dispearing but at the fact his job got harder.
The third time he took the snake miraculous she had dispeared and he let out a growl. The frustration he felt reminded him of when he couldn't finish a video game level. Or at the very least it reminded Adrien of when he was child and Duusu would have to place the very last block ontop a too high tower only for the shoddily built structure to crumble.
The fourth time he hadn't quite managed to take his first breath in the new suit and by the eight panic began to seize his heart when he saw her expolde into a cloud of orange dust.
During the eighteenth try at second chance, while runnning Adrien had turned to her, a funny thought- she's beautiful -crossed his mind. "Funny thing Ladybug," he had said, "I'm actually also Chat Noir and I've been in love with you since our eyes first met." She was hit immedtly after she had, with murder and disbelief- and what Adrien refused to even acknowledge might have been hope and joy -in her eyes, turned to look at him.
Around the fifty third, with determination- Adrien wasn't quite sure what he was determined for: was he determined to save her or woo her by proving himself -still wound tightly inside of himself, he turned to her, while they hid behind a building.
"What do you think of Chat Noir?"
"He's my best friend. Silly at times- flirty -"she said in a low, deadpan kind of voice, "But I'd trust him with my life, why?"
"I-er-was just wondering where he is, that's all." And she looked at him with these bright eyes that made him feel safer then he had felt in long time and smiled a large toothy grin at him.
"Don't worry," she told him with all the confidence he expected Ladybug to have, "I trust Chat with my life, he's around here somewhere." Adriens chest felt warm, evey breath he took didn't seem like enough and then just as suddenly as she had the last fifty two times Ladybug exploded into a bright orange cloud.
He lasted another hundred before he kissed her. Adrien wasn't quite sure why he did it- he didn't love her, he didn't -but the pair were at the zoo and she was trying to call Chat- him -on her yo-yo.
"Come on come on," she pleaded, "Pick up."
"I don't think Chat Noir is going to pick up."
"He has to because the only way he's not is that-" Ladybug choked on her words. "He has to pick up."
"Why dose it matter?" Adrien wondered with a scoff, "Even if Desperada got him you can always just bring him back with Miraculous Ladybug." People wondered it all the time- he wondered it half the time -why did Ladybug need him? With a fire in her eyes he'd only ever seen a hand full of times she turned on him.
"Why dose it matter? Why dose-he's my partner! My best friend! I can't-how could you even say that! Just because I can bring him back doesn't mean I want to! I don't like him hurt anymore then I'd want anyone else hurt!"
"You love him," he whispered. The chosen Black Cat and Ladybug miraculous wielders were tantamount to soulmates.
With a pink face she began to stutter out a reply only for Adrien to scoop her up- one hand tangled in her hair and the other around her waist dragging her up to his height -and press his lips aginst hers.
She had only just began to kiss back when she exploded into a puff of orange.
It was a thousand tries later that he told her, as they waited in the park, his father was Hawkmoth.
"What?" She took two steps back and then one foward, "That's not funny Adrien."
"I'm not joking. My fathers Hawkmoth and I'm Chat Noir and I'm supposed to get your earrings from you so he can bring my mother back." Her mouth fell open and her eyes began to glaze over with tears only for to look at him in such a way- so betrayed and heartbroken -that gutted him.
"And I think I'm falling in love with you." Because she had spent the past hundred times telling him she loved him in one way or another- sometimes it was that she loved Adrien and other parts she got out that she loved Chat -so how couldn't he love her?
How couldn't he, over the past year, fall for her? How couldn't he think the ugly snort of a laugh he did when she did something witry wasn't cute, or how couldn't he love her kidness and generosity and the fact that no matter what or who he was- Adrien or Chat -she had faith in him? How couldn't he be in love with her.
"No," she shook her head and then with a trumpets cry, exploded once more.
Once more he went back in time.
He visited his mother after that. Plagg was in his room gorging himself on camembert and his father was in Japan after the failed akuma leaving Adrien to stand in front of his mothers glass casket.
"I love her," he said. He looked at his mothers face, she hadn't aged since the day he found her, "And I'm going to have to choose. You or her." Adrien wasn't quite sure how he was going to do that.
His mother or his soul mate?
Adrien looked at the small table that stood nearest to the coffin; to the peacock pin that sat on it.
"You'd know Duusu," Adrien mused, "You always knew what to do." What to say. Adrien walked away from his mother and with the gentlest of touches he picked up the pin.
No kwami appeared. No loud, high pitched peacock god emerged and Adrien sighed.
"Plagg's a great friend Duusu. Amazing really. But he's not you." Tears gathered in the teenage boys eyes. "Please, I need you." Still there was no answer.
It happened nearly a year after that; nearly thirteen months after Desperada and technically fifteen months after he had realized he was actually, truly in love with Ladybug; and if Adrien was truthful it was Ninos fault.
If Nino hadn't detransformed out in the public leading Adrien to find out it was him, then Alya wouldn't have followed suit and Adrien would have never found out that sweet little Marinette Dupain-Cheng, his everyday Ladybug was his Ladybug.
Adrien- Chat -leaned on Marinette's balcony with his arms crossed over his chest and the tips of his hair hanging in his face.
"Kitty?" His fathers hands were rough and calloused and so because she too was a designer he half expected her hands to be the same way; but they weren't. Marinette cupped his cheek and all Adriwn felt was the smooth warmth of her skin pressing aginst his own. "What's wrong?"
In the near two years it had been since they'd met- Chat and Marinette not Adrien and her or him and Ladybug -they had come up with a system. Sometimes he would stop by and they would play Mecha Strike ||| and eat and he would help her out on phyics homework in exchange for listening to him talk. And yet never had she touched him like that.
Marinette lifted his face so that their eyes were met; she took his breath away on a regular day, but with her hair down and framing her face Adrien wondered how he coukd remember to breath in her presence.
"Nothing," he murmered. She shot him a dry mothering look she had mastered from Alya, one that made her look like her own mother.
"I don't buy that," she told him.
"Good thing I wasn't selling it Princess."
"Chat," she sighed. Her thumb traced his cheek; slowly he closed his eye. He could feel the end of her nail against the tips of his eyelashes.
Adrien knew at that moment he should push her back; he should take a step away and call it a night. But he didn't.
He dragged her closer. He unfolded his arms and placed his hands on her hips and dragged her closer to himself, pressing her firmly up aginst his leather suit.
"Chat..." She trailed off, his forhead pressed aginst hers. She rose on her toes and Adriens nose bumped hers.
"Marinette," he sighed.
"What about your feelings for Ladybug?" She whispered, her hands flat aginst his tricepts.
He hadn't told his father. As far as Gabriel Agreste knew Ladybugs identity was stilla secrete and he was still half of a failure.
Almost everything in him screamed to go home, to apologize and leave to claim he'd had a long day and that he was caught in the moment. But the one part of him that sounded so very similarly to Duusu told him to say it. To tell her.
So he did, because while Plagg was his kwami- was part of him now -Duusu's cheery voice and brightly colored feathers had been his first memory. Was a bigger part of him then either of his parents.
"I'm pretty sure I'm in love with you." A crease formed in between her brows.
"You know." Her voice was a whisper. He didn't need to open his eyes to see her grimace.
"You're not mad?" Adrien jerked back and opened his eyes.
"Mad? Why would I be mad?" Marinette shrugged.
"You've been coming here- to me -for a while, I thought if you ever found out that I was Ladybug you'd be-I dunno betrayed?"
Betrayed. The word made the cat themed superhero stiffen.
"I don't think there's a single thing you could do Bug that would make me feel betrayed." Adrien felt like scum; he was scum. He was worse then scum. He was the scum that other scum settled atop of.
The absolute, most undeserving, worst humanity had to offer; because at least his father never planned to get a girl to fall in love with him just so he could betray her.
No, his father just planned on murdering said girl as a sacrifice.
His grip on Marinette tightened.
"I think I'm falling in love with you too Chat." Adrien didn't have to think hard to know Duusu would be disappointed in him so instead he thought of his mother.
Perhaps Adrien would have fited the fox miraculous better then Black Cat. He was lying to his father- "Ladybug's stubborn father," Adrien would tell Gabriel, "She'll never reveal herself to me." -to his friends- "I promise I'll ask père if I can go to the movies with you," Adrien would tell Nino and Alya or his other classmates, and it wasn't like he didn't spending time with them but time went them meant spending more time being the Adrien Agreste he was trained to show the world and with all the other lyring he was doing he was too tired to keep the facade up for fun -and most importantly to Marinette. To Ladybug.
She didn't know who he was; her kwami, Tikki, had claimed it was dangerous that he knew her identy so her knowing his was out of the question until Hawkmoth- his father -had been stopped.
Perhaps the Ladybug kwami knew more then she was letting on; perhaps Duusu had once seen what one of his chicks peachicks would do and had told Tikki all about it. All about him.
Or perhaps he just had a guilty conscious.
On the roof the Notre Dame Chat Noir sat with his arm pressed uo aginst Ladybugs. Carapice and Rena Rouge- Nino and Alya -joked behind them, laughing at the illusions Alya would create on her flute.
"Hey Bugaboo?" He wondered.
"What do you want to do with Hawkmoth?" Ladybug turned to him.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean when-" because if was starting to blurr and Adrien couldn't start but help to remember all the stories of the heros of old defeated anicent evils Duusu used to tell him before bed, "-We catch Hawkmoth what are we doing with him? I mean none of the damage he causes with his akuma is perminate and it's not like he forces people to become akuma so, I mean, what would he even be charged with if we handed him over to the police?"
It was one of the things that had stayed on his mind since everything started. Paris called his father a terrorist but any intimidation he used were for personal, not polical means and all of the violence the akuma dished out were aginat him and Ladybug.
Sure some akuma turned people into zombies or hate-riddled, black lipstick wearing hot heads but no one ever walked away from a battle with a single scratch.
"I don't know," Ladybug told him. "The police want him and we need his miraculous back; who only knows what kind of state Nooroo is in."
Confusued with a questioning look Chat turned to Ladybug. "What you mean?"
"Your miraculous is supposed to destroy stuff just like mine is there to fix it. The butterfly miraculous was meant to find a champion to protect people not turn people into Paris destroying fashion disasters."
Chat can't help but to laugh so loudly that he throws his head back and arms wind around his stomach. Ladybug had called world famous fashion designer Gabril Agrestes akumas fashion disasters.
Nino and Adrien sat in the formers tiny room. His bother Chris could be heard playing videogames in the livingroom and his grandmother swore loudly as she cooked the four dinner.
"Nino?" Adrien could feel Plagg sleeping in the pocket of his shirt.
"Yeah dude?" The pair of them were working on the History packet their lyceè teacher had given them, something that both teen boys were quick to put aside anytime the ither started talking.
"Do you ever feel like you're this awful terrible person and you don't deserve anything?" Adrien wondered.
He didn't deserve Plagg. He didn't deserve Nino or Alya or any of his other classmates friendship and he certainly didn't deserve Marinette to blindly trust him not only with her heart but with her life whenever they wede suited up.
He deserved to share a cell with his father and rot.
Nino frowned concernedly at Adrien.
"Are-are you alright dude?"
Adrien blinked. He then forced a smile, his fingets running through his hair. "Yeah," he told Nino. "I'm fine."
Nino didn't seem to buy it.
Sometimes Marinette let Adrien- Chat -kiss her. The pair had agreed nothing could happen until after Hawkmoth was defeated but still, sometimes the pair would be up in her room or on her room and she would let him lean over and kiss her.
She tasted like cookies.
He couldn't feel what her hair felt like in the suit but from when a necklace she had worn had gotten tangled in her hair at school Adrien knew Marinette's hair held an airy softness to it.
She made the sweetest sounds; when he'd nip at the spot behind her ear as his hands hungerly roamed her body she'd let out the softest of whimpered moans.
Sometimes she'd tell him she loved him; that was usually when he'd pull away. He'd alway say it back, on patrol more often then not he was the one telling her that- he hoped she'd remember it when she found everything out -but it was when she'd say it a lead brick would settle in his stomach.
Sometimes after she'd tell him she love him and settle in his arms a voice in the back of his head sounding strangely like Duusu would tell him he was the worst.
Everytime that happened he would agree.
They were a month away from graduation when Chole dressed in her Queen Bee attire told them she had found oit who Hawkmoth was.
She wasn't grinning, wasn't waving her discovery in his face showing she had one upped him and that she was more deserving of Ladybugs affections.
"It's Gabriel Agreste," Chole had told them. "Hawkmoth tried to akumatize me today. He mentioned something about my mother that only Gabriel Agreste would know."
Ladybug stiffened under the arm he had thrown around her and Nino had scoffed.
"Always knew he was a bastard." Chat didn't disagree. His father was a lot of things, bastard happened to be the first.
"So LB," Nino turned to a grim looking Ladybug, "What do we do."
"Right now?" She asked rhetorically, "Nothing." It was Chat that turned to her astonished.
"We can't just run in there without a plan-"
"But it's Hawkmoth!" Alya- Rena -rebuttled.
"It's Gabriel Agreste. He's all his son has. We play this smart." Ladybug bit her lip. "Keep the miraculous for the week, be on guard. We'll meet up friday-" it was Monday, she turned to Nino and Chole, "-Keep Adrien out of the house and away from his father as mich as you can."
They both nodded.
"Alright. Bug out." There was no emotion in the goodbye.
She turned to him when the others left and laughed humorously.
"I suspected him, you know?" She told him. She took a step back amd looked out at the Parisian skyline. "Back when we were like fourteen I thought it was him but then he got akumatized-he can't do that to himself Chat."
"You think his son is workin with him?" He doesn't know why he asked, the words just come out on their own.
"No, god no," she shakes her head, "Adrien- I used to be in love with him, he was the that other boy -he's kind and sweet and he's good," she stressed. Chat felt his heart plummet into his stomach. She had fallen for him twice. He was the absolute worst. "I know he is, I can't see him helping his father..."
"Someone is. Meaning no matter what my plan is we're still going in half blind. Chat someone could get seriously hurt." Someone could die.
If his father had his way she would.
"We'll have paramedics on standby, we'll tell the police-"
"-No," she cut him off.
"His father is all Adrien his left. We tell the police Hawkmoth gave up the miraculous without ever coming foward. We'll watch him after that but we won't turn him over."
"And why not?" Chat doesn't mean to raise his voice but he dose. He takes a step closer and Ladybug levels him with grimmest of looks he'd ever seen.
"Because Adrien doesn't deserve that." But he dose.
Kwamis don't know what goes on while transformed. When Ladybug bounds off towards the bakery Adrien uses his baton to call him.
"They know who you are, they're comming for you Friday."
Never before had the Agreste manson looked so daunting.
The temporary snake and dragon chosen were with them as they stood on the hill overlooking the manson. Ladybug looked at the six of them.
"Adrien won't be home, the staff is gone. The only person there will be Hawkmoth," she told them. She shut her eyes tightly. "We get the butterfly miraculous from him and we get out."
She had told the others of her plan, none of them liked letring Gabriel Agreste off the hook but apprently they all cared deeply enough about him to bite their tongues.
He didn't deserve it. Didn't deserve them and their love and their loyalty.
Everything inside of him wanted to tell them- tell Ladybug -that it was a trap. That in his room, their entry point, his father and an akuma were already waiting for them.
He didn't of course, but he wanted to.
"Hey m'lady?" Chat turned to Ladybug.
"I-" he smiled instead. "It's nothing that can't wait. Come on." And she smiled at him.
"When this is all over kitty I'm taking you on a date." Though he felt sick Adrien didn't bother to show it.
He kissed her though, for a quick half second and what would be the very last time he kissed her. And anxiously she smiled up at him.
He entered his bedroom first, Carapace and then Ryuko, Rena, Queenie, Viperion and lastly Ladybug.
It was Rena the akuma snatched up; the large hulking monster- Nathalie reminded Adrien more of when the Gorilla had been akumatized -held Rena Rouge in it's giant hands. His father laughed at the foot of it.
The heros- the actual heros scrambled -Ladybug swung her yo-yo and Carapace helt hid shell offensively as Rena struggled, swearing.
"Put Rena down and up Hawkmoth you're out numbered," Ladybug snapped.
"You're right," his father said sarcastically, "Three on five I know when I'm beat." Ladybugs brows knitted together.
"What-" His father looked at him with a chilling glint in his eyes.
"I almost doubted you, looking up at the six of you I honestly thought you'd tell them everything." Chat could feel the room turn to him; Rena had quited.
He wondered if they could hear his soul ripping in two over Ladybugs shattering heart.
"Chat?" Ladybug whispered.
"He wants to bring my mom back." He refused to look at her; at Nino or Alya or Chole. He kept his eyes glued to the ground.
"Adrien." He nodded.
"No," Chole said revolted. "Dude."
"Don't," she snapped rawly, her grip on her yo-yo string retightened, "Call me that."
He nodded. "All this time-?" She wondered and he nodded once more.
"Right," she said; he could hear the thick, suffocating emotion in her voice.
"Give me your earrings, please."
"Over my dead body."
Yeah, that was how his father planned it.