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I've Got You Now

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Marinette - Adrien

 

Marinette was certain she had never been so happy in her life. Her favorite boy was sitting in her living room, watching her favorite movie, and they were laughing together at all her favorite parts. She could never have guessed how much they had in common! She had seen hints of it when he came over years ago to play video games, but her crush had blinded her from making sense of anything until now.

Now, they simply sat together as friends. He was grateful for her company, and she was grateful for his existence. But there was something... something lingering at the back of Mari’s mind. Was it something he had said? Whatever it was, it had planted a seed of doubt that she couldn’t quite place. She was certain it would come back to her later, when she lay in her bed trying to sleep.

The movie was nearly over, and Adrien was shoveling porridge into his mouth. “Your mom is such a good cook, Mari,” he said through a full mouth.

“You think so?”

“Of course! This is amazing! I haven’t felt this good in years!”

After he said it, he immediately realized how pathetic it sounded. “I mean... After so long eating rich people food, you kind of get tired of it, yeah? So this is nice.”

“Are you saying that my mom cooks poor people food?” Mari folded her arms in mock sternness.

“No, no! Well, yes. I suppose. But that doesn’t mean it’s not good. No, it’s so much better!”

Mari nodded in satisfaction. “Hm. I guess you’re right. Rich people food sounds horrible. People should know we’re not supposed to eat snails, am I right?”

They bantered on like this all the way through the ending credits, until the raven-headed girl stood to switch the television off. When she turned back to her friend, she caught him with his mask down, a forlorn look directed out the window.

She returned to her seat beside him. “Adrien, is something bothering you?”

He looked at her, and she finally saw trust in his eyes—green eyes that were so, so familiar. He nodded. “My brother came home,” he said simply.

Mari was one of the few Parisians who was aware that Adrien even had a brother, thanks to her stalking habits. She cringed, wondering if she should hide this fact. But her friend didn’t give her time to wonder much, as he continued:

“Just when I had managed to forget about him and accept that he was never coming back, he shows up. And I’m—I’m just me.... And I’m so afraid he’s disappointed in me.”

Marinette couldn’t help but squeeze his hand. He looked so lost. “You’re Adrien,” she said, as if it meant everything.

Unbeknownst to her, she had stirred a memory in the boy, of a half-dream the night before:

Of course you’re good enough, you stupid glowworm.”

He took in a sharp breath and sat forward so suddenly that Mari was afraid he would topple. But he remained steady, his cheeks flushed with healthy color. “That’s it!” he gleamed. “He found out! He knows, and he still.... Okay, alright, this is—this is—thank you Mari!” And he dove to wrap her tightly in his arms.

The poor girl had no idea what he was saying or how she had ended up hugging Adrien Agreste, but she wasn’t complaining. Trying not to lose her cool, she snaked her arms around his middle and patted his back in response.

Sabine came up the stairs at that moment, and the two teenagers broke away from their embrace with unnecessary guilt. Smiling at their innocence, she approached Adrien to check his temperature. “Oh my, Kitten! You seem to be doing much better!”

Adrien nodded guilelessly, but Marinette paled.

“Maman... did you just call Adrien ‘Kitten’?”

Marinette had no time to question further, because Tikki pinched her from inside her sweater—the signal they had agreed on when an akuma was loose. She yelped and jumped from her chair. “I—I have to go! I homeworked a project! I mean, I have to sew a finish! I mean—”

“That’s fine, dear,” Sabine said with a hint of amusement, as her daughter wasted no time rushing to her room.

Adrien was puzzled at her sudden flight but was immediately distracted as Plagg pinched from under his shirt. “Akuma,” the tiny cat whispered.

Adrien shot to his feet immediately, held still only by the startled expression of Mme. Cheng. “I just remembered that I got a text from Nathalie,” he explained hurriedly. And without further ado, he shoved his feet into his shoes and made for the door. When he had nearly reached the stairs, he turned back, returning to the chair. He made a hasty job of folding the blanket and placing it carefully on the couch, and then rushed away again, proclaiming his gratitude breathlessly.

Sabine stood and blocked Adrien’s way, catching him by the shoulders. His sudden whirlwind of action was brought to a halt. Looking up gently into his eyes, she gave him a warm smile. “Don’t push yourself, alright?”

What was this? Mme. Cheng hardly knew him, yet she had fed him and nursed him back to health and seemed to genuinely care for him. He nodded contritely.

“And do call us when you get home. It’s already so late.”

Adrien seemed lost for words, unable to even muster his signature smile—he had craved this motherly affection for so long that he had no idea how to handle the emotion rising up within him.

“I will,” he finally said. And when Sabine pulled him into a tight hug, he said “thank you” with all his heart, returning the embrace with barely controlled desperation. Don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry, he chanted silently to himself. He had to be strong now. He had to be Chat Noir.

The warmth that now filled him was no longer feverish—it was the first real happiness he had felt in a long time.