The cops pulled them off of Gabriel before they could kill him. Not that they were going to, of course, but they didn’t believe them when they said that. Who knows why. Definitely not that his arm was broken and his face was swollen to the point of being almost unrecognizable, that couldn’t be it.
They helped load the barely conscious Gabriel into the cop car and Alya slammed the door shut behind him with a showman's flourish.
The fireworks crackling overhead seemed to be celebrating the defeat of Hawkmoth. The holders were deciding to ignore the fact that it was New Years because defeating Gabriel Agreste was definitely more cool and important than the fact that they would all need to buy new calendars.
Done! Hawkmoth was done! Whoo!
So, why wasn’t the police car pulling away yet?
“What’s your father’s blood type?” Asked a policeman.
Ah, yeah, blood loss. That makes sense.
Adrien shrugged. “Heck if I know. Red, probably, but don’t quote me on that.”
“Oh, it’s definitely red,” said Marinette, examining the heel of her shoe.
“Red,” said Adrien with a nod to the officer.
The officer looked at them all for a moment in horrified silence before slowly turning away. As he should.
The four teenagers that had beaten Gabriel up waved him off with red-coated hands and smug grins. Adrien was too busy kicking out every rich person in the Gala to even give his father the ‘decency’ of seeing him off.
“Yeah, no, get out I literally don’t like any of you. You suck and I hope to never see you again. Except you, Kagami... come here, actually, I think you and Rena would be SO cute together --.”
Alya shoved him a little harder than was strictly necessary. “Ignore him, he’s just stupid.”
“C’mon! SHE’S gay, YOU’RE gay, you have so much in common!”
“I swear on the kwamis, Adrien...”
“You can’t be the fifth wheel FOREVER --.”
Nino grinned and threw his arm over Adrien’s shoulders. “Stop fighting. If she wants to die alone then she can.”
Alya scoffed, looking over to where Marinette and Chloe were flirting over a plate of finger foods. “A little help, guys?”
Chloe didn’t even look up. “Nah.”
“What happened to women supporting women?”
“We’re supporting you getting a relationship with another woman. There is nothing more ‘women supporting women’ than that!” Marinette argued.
Adrien waved off the last rich person and then turned to the gathered staff members. “I know my dad has already paid you but… take some of the gold things if you want? I don’t really care. Have at it.”
There was a beat of confused silence. And then it clicked into place and chaos reigned. The miraculous holders decidedly ignored all the yelling and screaming as they slipped inside Adrien’s house and started towards his room.
Sure, they could make the long trek across town to their house but, seriously, why would they? They were tired and it was past midnight and they wanted to steal Adrien’s clothes, so… no.
They made a pit stop to free the two people they had locked in the closet. They apologized and explained themselves and, when that didn’t work, Adrien and Chloe each Venmoed them five thousand euros. They seemed to relax after that and the five of them let them go join the free for all happening just outside.
“Damn, I wish I could just throw money at my problems until they disappear,” said Nino wistfully.
“You can now, you have a rich boyfriend,” Alya pointed out.
“... wait, am I a sugarbaby?”
“No, I don’t think so. Aren’t sugarbabies bottoms? Isn’t that the whole ‘baby’ part of it?” Joked Marinette.
“Then I guess you’re the only one that’s a sugarbaby here, Poppet.”
Adrien and Chloe exchanged exasperated looks as their respective partners continued to debate who was technically more of a sugarbaby all the way to their room (with Alya egging them on, of course).
When they got to the safety of his room, they all detransformed. They didn’t know why they didn’t just show everyone, it would come out soon enough with both Marinette and Nino dating two very prominent figures and Alya being the last friend in the group… but they couldn’t bring themselves to tell the public just yet. They really just wanted to relax for the night.
Speaking of relaxing: why the fuck was Adrien’s bed so big? Adrien was tall and relatively wide because of his muscles but KWAMI that bed could fit all five of them with room to spare.
“Dude, what size bed is that?”
Adrien shrugged and pulled down a jewelry box from his closet. He dropped the butterfly miraculous inside.
“Custom, it has to be,” said Marinette.
“Oooooh, if it’s custom then it’s probably soft,” mumbled Alya. She dropped back on it and grinned. “I was right. I’m sleeping here, Adrien, find a new bed for yourself.”
“Wait, no, I want the bed!” Marinette complained.
“I was his friend when we were kids so I should get it.”
“I’m his BOYFRIEND --.”
“We can all have the bed,” Adrien said with a sigh. “It’s big enough. Anyways, who’s keeping their miraculi and who wants to keep them locked up?”
There was a short, uncomfortable silence.
“It’s not permanent,” he added quickly. “If you want to have them back at any point I’m not going to keep them from you, but if you want a break…”
They relaxed. It was a big decision to make, choosing to get rid of the miraculi entirely, but if they could always go back on the decision…
Nino dropped his in the box. “I have enough going on, I really don’t need this adding to it.”
Everyone nodded. They had expected that.
They hadn’t expected, however, to watch Alya take off her necklace and drop it in.
“I… I don’t like who I am with it on, not really. I don’t trust myself with it. Maybe I’ll take it back for short bursts if things happen but… yeah, I can’t.”
They nodded their understanding. The power of illusions could go to anyone’s head, really, it was good of Alya to recognize that and let it go.
Chloe and Marinette glanced at each other before pushing Adrien’s box away from themselves. They liked having the ability to fly, thank you very much, it was much quicker than walking. Also, the ability to boss around bees was pretty cool. So, yeah, they were keeping theirs.
Adrien himself kept both the brooch and the ring. The brooch because he was curious about the curse that he had discovered, the ring because he liked having Plagg around.
Adrien closed the box and set it in the back of his closet for now. And, speaking of his closet: clothes! They were going to steal clothes if it was the last thing they did.
But it didn’t need to be the last thing they did because Adrien was aware of what they wanted and didn’t care enough to stop them.
“Alright, who wants what?”
“I just want a... big shirt,” Marinette said through a yawn. “And maybe a coffee.”
“No coffee,” Chloe chided. Then she glanced at the closet. “Um… got any silk?”
Adrien nodded slightly. “Of course. What do you think I am? Poor?”
The apparently poor three complained loudly about their new classification for a bit but it was clear none of them actually cared.
Alya was the first one to break character, stretching lazily and eyeing the closet. “Just some athletic shorts for me.”
“I’m legally obligated to wear a hoodie at all times,” said Nino. “Also, silk pants because I want to see what I’m apparently missing out on.”
Adrien tossed them all their desired clothes and they didn’t bother even leaving the room to get changed. If you live with someone long enough you’re probably going to see them naked, especially when you share bathrooms.
Marinette, first to finish, turned around and gave a frown. “Hey, wait, isn’t that my shirt?”
After checking to see who she was talking to, Adrien cast a lazy look down to the shirt he was wearing as a crop top. It was a Fruits Basket shirt and he KNEW he hadn’t bought it himself because he’d never even watched the show.
But he shrugged and everyone moved on. It wasn’t like she could really complain when she was wearing a Batman themed shirt of his with the intent to steal it.
That done, they all collapsed on the bed. It took some time to find an arrangement that fit everyone’s sleeping styles, but eventually they ended up with all five of them together, comfortable under the blankets.
Adrien tried to speak but he got stopped by Marinette’s hair falling into his mouth, which sucked. He spat it out and then tried again: “Right, I’ve got a plan.”
“Wow, two plans in one night? Don’t strain yourself,” Alya teased.
He reached across Chloe and Nino to flick her forehead.
“Serves you right. Anyways, I’ve got a plan to deal with Fu.”
The next morning, the doorbell rang.
Alya shot awake, eyes wide. She slipped out of bed and started searching the floor for a shirt to pull on over her sports bra so she could check out what was going on.
The others woke up when the ringing continued, but none of them seemed all that eager to move anytime soon. They curled closer to each other, grumbling sleepy curses about whoever had the audacity to come by at… fifteen o’clock. How dare they?
Alya threw her hair into a messy ponytail and glanced over at everyone else.
After a few moment’s consideration, Alya came to a solution. She found thick headphones -- cat ear headphones, Adrien, really? -- and then walked to the piano. She banged her fist on the highest pitched keys.
Adrien screeched and launched himself out of bed, finally awake. This made everyone else tumble out of bed as well because they were experienced enough with his freakouts to know that being close to him during one meant scratches.
The four of them glared at Alya from their scattered places on the floor. She wasn’t all that concerned. She tossed Marinette a set of leggings to wear and then waved them along.
Her friends struggled to catch up -- especially Marinette, who had to juggle both pulling on pants and walking and did so with the grace of a chihuahua on adderall.
“You’re an asshole, Alya,” grumbled Nino.
“You love me.”
“Debatable,” said Chloe.
(Adrien climbed onto Nino’s back so he could go back to sleep. Nino barely blinked.)
“Nah, I’m perfect. You love me.”
“Mm,” hummed Marinette, which was better than a distinct ‘no’ if you weren’t paying attention to the angry tone she hummed it in. And Alya wasn’t paying attention to her tone. Good for her.
(Marinette made to head to the kitchen but Chloe stopped her before she could find her way to the coffee machine. Marinette made vague mouth sounds without any real meaning but Chloe pressed a kiss to the top of her head and she found herself suddenly not caring all that much.)
Finally, they reached the door. Alya swung it open to reveal Master Fu.
“I have come to retrieve the miraculi,” he informed them shortly.
Alya leaned against the doorframe. “Or what?”
“You’re one old man on the last leg of his life and we’re five athletic teens. What can you really do to us?”
Master Fu laughed, apparently thinking it was a joke. They didn’t join in.
“... I thought none of you liked being superheroes --.”
“Oh, don’t get me wrong, we hate it,” Marinette piped up. “But we don’t want you messing with more kids so we’re not giving them back.”
“That is very selfish --.”
“Buddy, you’re defending child labor and endangerment -- UNPAID child labor and endangerment, at that. You’re not going to get the moral high ground here,” said Nino.
Master Fu glared at them. “You may not keep the miraculi.”
“Again: what’re you gonna do to stop us?”
There was a few moments before he apparently came to a decision: “You’re living in a house paid for by me.”
Chloe grinned. “Alright.”
Chloe shrugged. “It’s cool. In fact, we kind of expected you to try and hold that over us. I have a moving company on speed dial and they’re stopping by tomorrow to take everything. Speaking of which, we really should get going so we can pack everything into boxes...”
She moved to brush past him, but Master Fu threw his cane in her path.
“Take it where?”
Marinette shrugged. “Doesn’t matter to you as long as we leave.”
Master Fu was not amused. “I WILL get those miraculi back. You kids don’t --.”
“So you admit it? You think we’re kids?” Alya cooed.
“... I will not leave you alone until you give me them back. I’m hundreds of years older than all of you combined, you have no idea what you’re messing with.”
Adrien pulled his face out of Nino’s neck, finally. “No. You’re going to leave us alone. Because I --” He stopped at the cold look Alya sent him and restarted “-- because ALYA found proof of identity fraud, money laundering, and tax evasion.”
Then, Nino pulled his phone from the pocket of his hoodie. The screen showed it was recording. “Also, thanks for admitting you’re hundreds of years old on tape for us. It really helps our case.”
“I’m sure the government would be very interested in how exactly you’ve lived this long,” added Chloe.
The five of them sent smug grins towards the rapidly paling Master Fu.
“This… this isn’t over!”
Marinette snickered. “Oh, sweetie, I think we all know it is.”
Alya gave a little finger wave before slamming the door in his face.
Nino glared at Chloe. “Did you really get the moving company for TOMORROW?”
“They were all booked outside of tomorrow, okay, I wouldn’t have done it otherwise!” She defended herself.
“Packing is gonna suuuuuck,” complained Nino.
“I’ll get my bees to help everyone.”
“Oh, so NOW you use the bees to help us --,” started Alya.
“We are not having this argument AGAIN,” whined Marinette. “Can we just get going? We don’t have much time.”
Chloe rolled her eyes at the slightly cross look her girlfriend sent her. “Fine, I’ll say I’m sorry, is that what you want?”
“YES,” said the other four in unison.
“... well now I don’t want to.”
Marinette rolled her eyes. “Alright, fine, don’t apologize with words. Just make up for it by carrying two people over while I carry one.”
Nino’s eyes widened fearfully. “Oh FUCK no I’m not letting you dumbasses --.”
Marinette was very lucky that she was required to have a mask on to keep her identity, because it also kept Gabriel Agreste from knowing just how angry she was at him.
Because ‘Ladybug’ had no reason to be pissed, only Marinette. The man had really disregarded the one thing she’d told him: stick to a color scheme, don’t do the red and white colors and then also bring along the purple and black cane and/or pin. It doesn’t look good. It doesn’t work. Don’t. Do. It.
But guess what he did?
Even worse, everyone else was required to leave all their accessories at the door so he was the only person with accessories. And they didn’t even match!
But she’d managed to keep up her smile for the public. The slight squeeze Chloe gave her helped.
She got through a short conversation with him by letting Chloe do all the talking and then walked inside with her. The two of them chatted idly, but they couldn’t really enjoy it between ignoring the miscellaneous reporters asking about their relationship and watching the entrances and exits.
Marinette kept her eyes on the house and Chloe watched the entrance to see who was coming in.
But, to their surprise, no one left around the time the akuma fluttered overhead. They watched it for a few seconds and then sent each other confused frowns.
“I didn’t see anyone leave.”
“I didn’t see anyone go inside.”
“Then I guess he isn’t here…” said Chloe with a shake of her head. “There’s nothing people can really hide anything in.”
Marinette pressed her lips together thinly, scanning over the guests, and then locked her eyes on Gabriel Agreste. The cane. The pin. She fought the urge to facepalm. She was so STUPID. Of course that was the answer. His insistence on bringing those along all the time no matter what colors he was wearing, his closeness to Adrien, the way Adrien had been acting the past month or so… it all lined up to answer the most obvious question she’d ever wasted braincells on.
She glanced at Chloe, wondering how she could tip her off. She had seen what happened when Master Fu tried to tell them, she wasn’t eager to start spitting up purple.
She didn’t get much time to consider it before the akuma hit the hourglass, spewing sand everywhere and pulling her from her thoughts to glare at him.
“What makes all of you above me? How many of you have done anything genuinely worthwhile?”
Chloe and Marinette glanced at each other before shrugging and raising their hands. The knight ignored them, like a BITCH.
“That’s right: none of you! You were just born rich! But I’ll show the world what you really are!”
He turned the person nearest him and stabbed his sword at them. But instead of them being… y’know, stabbed, they turned into a pig. Wild.
Chloe transformed. Marinette concentrated on turning her outfit into her normal fighting-gear.
“We should get rid of civilians while we wait for the others. Gives us time to learn his patterns and -- you’re not listening to me at all, are you?”
Chloe had her arms crossed over her chest, eyes locked on a spot over Marinette’s shoulder. “He’s… happy.”
Marinette blinked confusedly and followed her gaze to see Gabriel. Oh. Good. So Chloe had figured it out, then. That made everything easier on her.
“We can beat the shit out of him later, we gotta deal with that,” she said, jerking her head towards the knight.
“We can beat him up now,” pouted Chloe.
“But he’ll heal once we get rid of the akuma.”
Chloe’s pout quickly morphed into a grin. “Know what? You’re right.”
“Always am,” she chirped. “Now, help me with the civvies.”
Listen, Marinette and Chloe did NOT show favoritism while working. But… the people that tended to be nicer to Marinette on the job or that Chloe grew up with just so happened to be closer to them so they were the people that got saved first. It was purely coincidence. They were professionals, after all.
The other three came running out of the house to help.
“Took you long enough!” Yelled Chloe.
Marinette privately agreed, but she couldn’t say so in front of the guests so she settled for not saying anything.
“Blame these two, they had to have a moment or whatever,” said Alya with an eyeroll.
Adrien and Nino blushed.
Marinette smirked and, once she had carried Kagami to safety, gave Nino a high five.
Now that they had gotten every nice person out -- I mean now that everyone was there they all grouped together just outside the house walls to make a plan.
“Someone’s gotta get swatted by the not pointy part to see if only the point turns people or if it’s the whole thing. Who’s gonna volunteer?” Said Alya.
Unsurprisingly, no one seemed all that eager.
Hesitantly, Adrien turned to Marinette and Chloe. “You guys don’t know who Hawkmoth is, right?”
“No, we figured it out while you guys were gone,” Marinette waved him off absently.
“Oh, cool. And you trust me?”
Marinette clicked her tongue. “Honestly, even if you are working for your dad I doubt it’s fully your own choice. He’s not a great guy, probably manipulated you into it or whatever. Either way, not going to hold it against you.”
He nodded thoughtfully and then looked at Chloe, who apparently wasn’t having it:
“If I didn’t trust you, you’d know.”
“You’re welcome. Now, what’s the plan?”
Adrien pulled a feather from his brooch and dropped it on a nearby rock. The rock glowed blue and stretched until it was… a generic-looking socialite? Hair slicked back, teeth unnaturally white, tan job looking a little orange…
“WHAT THE FUCK,” said Alya, recoiling visibly.
“Language,” said the socialite.
“IT CAN THINK FOR ITSELF?” Said Chloe.
“I have a name, you know: Sir Puddington The Third.”
“Oh okay I hate this,” Nino muttered, taking a step away.
Marinette was so fucking tired. She was not about to worry about Puddleton or whatever it was the guy had called himself. “Alright, so you can make fully sentient creatures. Yeah. Okay. Fine. Whatever. Go make it do the thing.”
Adrien nodded awkwardly. The socialite strode into the Gala, a not-quite-a-man on a mission.
… a mission to get hit by the lance. Despite their aversion to the walking moral dilemma, the miraculous holders all winced sympathetically at the loud THWACK sound echoing through the area. Puffleton went flying into a nearby wall. At least he hadn’t gotten turned into a pig?
Adrien flicked his wrist and Paddington fell to the ground, a feather and rock once more.
The other four exchanged looks.
Marinette pushed some hair from her face. “Pretend that never happened?”
“Yeah, we’re never talking about that again,” said Alya.
They all nodded their agreement (because shaking hands is a little difficult when it’s four people agreeing on something) and Adrien flashed a slightly apologetic smile.
Chloe glanced over the knight for a minute before yawning. “Well, he should be easy. If we all rush him, at least one of us has to get the sword.”
Nino hesitated. “Yeah… we COULD do that… OR, since this is the last time we’re going to be doing anything like this, win or not, we could have a little fun with it…”
The five miraculous holders exchanged grins.
The knight, Galant, had been in the middle of trying to stab a very distressed Audrey Bourgeois when she disappeared. He skidded to a stop, confusion written across his face despite his face being a plate of armor, and looked around… only to find everyone had disappeared into thin air.
Outside of five teens intending to make him regret ever getting akumatized.
Galant was not aware of his imminent doom. “I will make all of you regret ever helping these --!”
“Hey, do you take gendered terms?” Asked Alya, just to be sure.
“Girl, shut the fuck up.”
The akuma didn’t seem to know how to respond to this.
Chloe, however, did. She turned to Marinette and whispered something in her ear, earning a laugh. Marinette turned and said something to Alya who said something to Nino who said something to Adrien.
A few activated powers later Chloe was on a horse with a lance and a plate for a shield.
“Hey, wanna joust?”
“A worthy opponent,” said Galant.
Adrien flicked his wrist and sent a feather towards a fallen wine glass by the akuma’s feet, turning it into a horse… or, at least, that’s what the knight saw. It turned out to all be an illusion, which was unfortunate because Galant tried to jump on the horse and ended up faceplanting.
“Loser,” said Adrien, the grown man in a skintight leather bodysuit.
Marinette snickered and shook her head. “Right, right, Rena: Bugging Out.”
Alya groaned. “You’re no fun when you’re ‘Ladybug’.”
“I never said you couldn’t mess with him while you’re Bugged Out, just that we should make some kind of progress.”
That made her light up again.
One high note with her flute later… nothing happened, it seemed. She attacked Galant head on and, as one would expect, he stabbed her with his sword.
To his surprise, though, the moment he made contact with her she poofed into orange dust. She reappeared a meter away, sticking her tongue out at him mockingly. Galant groaned and tried to stab her again, only for her to do it again.
The process repeated itself a few times before he caught on and turned to the other miraculous holders that he could actually see and therefore might be able to deal with…
He got hit in the back of the head with a flute. A chorus of Alyas laughed at him from the ether as he rubbed the sore spot.
“Carapace --,” started Marinette, but Nino grinned and shook his head.
“Don’t worry about me. I have an idea.”
And what a beautiful idea it was: dropping plates on Galant’s head, making him slip on them, just being an overall nuisance… with both him and Alya, Galant simply wasn’t having a good time.
But wait! There’s more!
Adrien and Chloe decided to mess with him together. Adrien would cataclysm the ground around Galant and Chloe would shoot honey into his eyes, causing him to stumble around blindly and then fall through the broken patches in the floor.
Marinette beamed and walked over to the fallen hourglass, summoning a giant fan from her yoyo (she heard Nino yell something along the lines of “HOW DOES THAT FIT?!”).
After about a minute Marinette felt a tap on her shoulder and fought not to jump. She glanced into lamplike yellow eyes and flashed a wink before turning on the fan.
Have you ever been caught in a sandstorm? Probably not. It sucks. Sand whipping at you, determined to cut tiny little scratches in your skin, only to fill them with yet more sand mere seconds later… but that’s not the worst part: sand in your eyes and up your nose and in your mouth and coarse against your clothes… yeah, Anakin Skywalker had definitely had a reason to hate sand.
It was even worse because some of the sticky residue from Chloe’s honey had still been there, so his face and hands were coated in sand with no end in sight.
“FINE I GIVE UP,” the akuma yelled finally, voice hoarse from all the sand lodged in his throat.
The miraculous holders all pouted. Well, THAT was no fun.
Still, Marinette snatched the lance from his hands and broke it. Chloe was the one to snipe the butterfly out of thin air with her spinning top.
Everything returned to normal and they found themselves looking down at some random college student. Figures.
They waved him off as he got escorted out by some security guards.
“Man, that didn’t NEARLY get all my anger out,” complained Nino.
Marinette smirked and looped her arm with his. “Worry not, dear friend, for I have a solution!”
The five of them turned their gazes on Gabriel Agreste.
Showstopping. I live for boys dropping the "L bomb" about their best friend. Nino is one of the two people Adrien isn't afraid of joking around with (the other one is Cat Dad Plagg). Adrien looks like he's being denied delicious food when his hangout time with Nino gets cut short. Nino is the only one who can touch Adrien's face without Adrien leaning away. Nino and Adrien have been broing it up as Adrien's phone's background since the start. In 'Origins', Nino wanted to sit alone in the back of the class, sulking, but in 'Chameleon' he's psyched to get to sit next to Adrien at the front of of the class again.
When Gabriel keeps Adrien locked up, he's focused on feeling sympathetic towards Adrien rather than being bummed about getting ditched. His favorite superhero is Adrien's alter ego, even though he doesn't even know that's Adrien under there. He conspired to get some "guy time" with Adrien without any romance scheming from the girls getting in the way in 'Party Crasher'. He's the one person who consistently gives Adrien physical affection in the show and Adrien is thrilled every single time, especially when Nino hugs him for the first time in 'Simon Says' and Adrien looks at him all overcome and disbelieving that someone could care that much about him.
No one in this show loves Adrien as much and as selflessly as Nino. Period.
Adrien was internally freaking out. Externally… he was also freaking out, it was just a little less noticeable. He had things to do, stuff to prepare, he couldn’t waste time screaming into his pillow.
The day of the Gala he spent hours getting ready, as was customary for these kinds of things. He changed into a clean-pressed suit, slicked back his hair, and started applying his makeup.
He stared at the markings around his eyes. If someone wasn’t paying attention they would think it was just winged eyeliner but…
He grabbed his foundation and started dabbing them away. No one there would understand outside of maybe his dad, but his dad was the last person that needed to know that he had been using the peacock miraculous.
Speaking of… he looked down at his miraculi. He hid the brooch under his collar and, after glaring at the ring for a while, ended up just changing the color to dark green to match the lining of his suit.
After hanging out with his new pet mouse (he’d named her Souris, because he sucked at names) for a few hours it was time to head down and attend the Gala.
He passed by a closet and raised his eyebrows at the shuffling sound inside of it. He opened the door. Two servers were tied up inside, and their faces lit up when they saw him. He glanced them over. Dark skin, about the same height as his friends, the woman even had glasses…
He held up a finger for them to wait and then rushed back to his room, coming back with a sheet.
He stuffed the sheet under the door, only leaving a little crack for oxygen. Their shoulders slumped when they realized they weren’t about to be saved. He ignored the twinge of guilt he felt as he finished and closed the door. He waited a few moments to see if any sound escaped and nodded to himself a little when nothing came. There. No lost guests looking for the bathroom would notice anything off.
Alright, next thing. He walked over to The Door and tried the knob. Locked, as always. He pulled out the copy of the key and tested it again. Unlocked. Good, his dad hadn’t randomly decided to change the lock after six years. Everything was in place.
He walked to the nearest window and looked outside.
It was done up in elegant white and gold for New Years, and he could see a giant golden hourglass counting down the time until they would reach the next year. A gorgeous white fountain decorated the center of the courtyard.
But none of that mattered to him, it was old news. His eyes found his father quickly, it was hard to miss him with his peppermint color scheme. Adrien nodded to himself when he saw the familiar cane, black with a purple top.
Great, then everything would go to plan.
He slipped outside, tugging at the cuffs of his shirt and striding over to take his place by his father.
“Today’s the day,” he chirped.
“Yes. I do hope you’ll be on your best behavior.”
Adrien smirked. “When am I not?”
Gabriel didn’t answer, because he was busy turning to greet the first guest.
Adrien pulled his most gorgeous smile to his face as the Tsurugis made their way inside.
Kagami led her mother by the arm. Apparently the usual rule against bringing in any kinds of accessories -- Hawkmoth typically refrained from akumatizing essential clothing pieces because of the awkwardness after the akuma was broken -- extended even to a blind woman’s cane.
He sent his father a slight glare, the man ignored him (as always), and they continued greeting guests.
After a few guests the other miraculous holders made their appearance: Marinette and Chloe, arm in arm. Marinette had changed her usual akuma-fighting gear into a floor-length red dress so she didn’t have to go through the effort of making an entire dress for herself on top of everything else. Chloe was wearing a yellow gown inlaid with white lace, courtesy of her girlfriend.
He smiled as he kissed both of their hands like he was supposed to and they gave him faintly apologetic looks before passing by him to greet his father.
They curtseyed. He bowed.
“I’m so honored to have two miraculous holders at my Gala. Please, help yourself to anything you’d like. It’s all I can do to repay you two for everything you’ve done for the city.”
“Thank you so much, monsieur.”
“Of course. Do pass my thanks on to the other holders.”
“We’ll be sure to do that.”
The two of them shot one last look in Adrien’s direction before leaving to carve out a tiny spot for themselves by the fountain.
Adrien fought the urge to lean against the nearest wall, his legs already starting to ache from standing still for so long, so he settled to look around for the other miraculous holders.
Chloe and Marinette had moved to the snack table, smiling cheesily at each other over untouched glasses of wine. They didn’t acknowledge the cameras nearby snapping picture after picture.
Nino was walking around and offering food to guests. Adrien was 100% sure that Nino didn’t actually know what he was offering them. He was just stringing together random syllables and hoping no one would call him out on it. And no one did -- no one else knew what the things were, either, and they couldn’t risk being WRONG when correcting Nino. Good for him.
After an almost embarrassing amount of searching he found Alya just a bit away. She was leaning against the wall, all pretenses forgotten as she glared at Gabriel.
She noticed him looking and turned her glare on him briefly and then seemed to fade out until he wasn’t sure he would even see her if he wasn’t looking directly at her. He watched with interest as she walked over to stand next to Gabriel. She motioned to all of him, then raised a hand as high as it could reach.
She eyed Gabriel up and down before pointing to the pin on his chest.
Adrien nodded again.
Her face was unreadable for a few seconds before Gabriel finally turned to look where Adrien was looking and she was forced to quickly return herself to full presence… which Adrien hadn’t even known she could DO but he didn’t have much time to dwell on it as she offered him and his father a tray of wine glasses.
Adrien smiled and took one. “Yes. Thank you.”
Gabriel hesitated for just a moment longer before taking one himself. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome!” Alya beamed a smile so perfect Adrien thought she should be the model not him and then strode off confidently like serving people was actually her job.
Gabriel and Adrien clinked glasses and brought them to their lips without actually drinking any.
“I do believe everyone’s already arrived. You may go mingle,” his father said, which translated to ‘go away’.
Adrien was glad to do so, locating Kagami sitting at a table with her mother and quickly heading over to her. He hadn’t been able to see her in months, he couldn’t wait to talk to --.
There was a collective groan and he sighed as he turned back around. Looked away for TWO SECONDS and his father had already released an akuma. He searched around and watched an akuma flutter over the wall.
His eyes flicked to Marinette and Chloe, but the two of them seemed busy with whatever conversation they were having. Both of them wore concerned frowns, but apparently they had no intentions of dealing with the akuma before it was created.
And, it turns out, they probably couldn’t have even if they’d wanted to. The wall the butterfly had disappeared over crumbled to reveal a knight with what appeared to be a jousting stick.
There was a beat as the guests and the knight looked at each other, before the guests apparently decided to just ignore it and go back to their conversations.
The knight didn’t seem to like that, hitting the hourglass nearby with his lance and spewing sand everywhere.
Well, that definitely got everyone’s attention, at least. They turned annoyed gazes on the knight.
“What makes all of you above me? How many of you have done anything genuinely worthwhile?”
Chloe and Marinette raised their hands. The knight didn’t seem to see it.
“That’s right: none of you! You were just born rich! But I’ll show the world what you really are!”
The knight smacked the socialite nearest him with his lance and everyone watched in horror as they turned into a pig.
Adrien could practically hear the ‘oh, this is actually going to be a problem, isn’t it?’ running through everyone’s heads before people scattered.
He took off as well and it took only a few seconds before he felt Nino running on his left. He glanced over and flashed a wink, then looked to the other side to see if Alya was with them. She was, though she didn’t seem particularly happy about it.
He led them into his house and down a few hallways to The Door. He pushed it open and waved the others inside.
“No one ever really comes in here, it’s fine --.”
“WHAT THE HELL, AGRESTE,” yelled Alya, and he turned just in time to get a flute thrusted under his chin.
He held up his hands and glanced around. Alya had closed the door behind herself and held it closed so Nino couldn’t come in with her foot. He could see a trail of purple foam spilling down the side of her chin.
“I tried to tell you guys but any time I tried to give you the answer -- or even a too good hint -- it wouldn’t work. As I’m sure you know -- that purple… you tried to tell Nino, right?”
She narrowed her eyes slightly but nodded, wiping the purple from her chin with her free hand.
“There’s only so much I can do and trust me I TRIED. Even texting doesn’t work, the purple filled my vision until I no longer had any desire to tell you. This room was the best I could do.”
He motioned to the room around them and Alya, hesitantly, tore her gaze from his to look. The room had been cleaned up (to the best of a rich kid’s ability, at least) and now all the old portraits and pictures were on full display. Pictures of his mother, with black lining her eyes and blue dots arcing off of it in a way that could be mistaken for extravagant eye makeup if it didn’t look like she had just tumbled out of bed. Pictures of his father with bloodshot eyes and the veins under his skin so dark they seemed almost black. A child with both features, though fainter, looking almost fake with porcelain skin and feathered blonde hair.
“If you guys hadn’t been able to figure it out, and I don’t think Nino has yet, I was going to bring you in this room so you would have a better chance.”
“... you got rid of evidence, though.”
“I’ll admit to that, yeah. I didn’t know when you would start confronting or researching people and I wanted to at least try and talk to my dad first.”
Alya lowered the flute slowly. “And the peacock miraculous?”
“Didn’t want to get my dad’s miraculous and then have him come back the next day with this one. Only used it to give myself a pet, she’s very cute I think you’d like her --.”
He cleared his throat awkwardly. “Right. Let Nino in, we gotta at least try and get him to understand.”
She released the door and, after a second, Nino pushed his way in. He looked between the two of them, confused.
“It’s fine, I just... had to ask him something private,” said Alya hesitantly.
Nino didn’t seem to believe her, but the three of them transformed one by one. If he noticed that Adrien and Alya hesitated a little bit to give Nino a bit more time to look around, Nino didn’t say a word about it.
Because he was busy staring at the portrait nearest him with wide eyes. He turned to Adrien and motioned to a portrait of his father. “Dude… what the fuck? Why does he look like that?”
Adrien could only sigh and say: “Yeah, without his makeup his veins are super visible for some reason.”
“He should get that checked out. That’s unnatural --.”
Nino stopped and then he turned to look at Adrien a little more closely. He slammed his palm against his forehead.
“Oh… I’m sorry, man. Wow, that definitely makes things make more sense.”
Alya and Adrien exchanged looks before Alya carefully said: “So… you figured it out?”
“Yeah. His dad is Hawkmoth. Like I said, everything kinda lines up now.”
Adrien frowned confusedly. “You still trust me?”
“Yeah? Should I not?”
“Well, his dad IS Hawkmoth…”
Nino shrugged. “We’ve been through the traitor thing already and I trusted him then, why would I stop now?”
“More evidence against him, maybe?”
“Reasoning for why he wasn’t then still stands… and, I gotta admit, I just kinda know he couldn’t do that, y’know? I trust him.”
Adrien blushed faintly. “Thanks.”
(Alya groaned and left the room, complaining about how “They couldn’t even wait until she left the room to be gay, fucking hell…”. They opted to ignore her.)
“No problem, man.” Nino hesitated, glancing away before meeting his gaze with shocking seriousness. “Today is the last day, you know that, right? There’s at least three on one, depending on whether Marinette and Chloe figured it out, so after we beat this akuma… we confront him. Whether we win or not… it’s over.”
Adrien nodded. “I’ve had time to prepare. I think I’m ready.”
“Listen, if this goes wrong…” Nino hesitated. “Know that I care about you, alright?”
“I care about you, too…”
Nino hesitated again, eyes searching Adrien’s, before taking his face in his hands and pulling him down slightly for a kiss. Adrien rested his hands on top of his, almost not believing it for a second. He had some trouble kissing back through the smile on his face but, for some reason, he didn’t think Nino would care.
I really really appreciate Adrien saying “Marinette, calm down” in this scene.
It’s super quiet amidst all the noise (even I had to replay that scene a couple of times to fully grasp what he was saying), and no one really notices as they’re too busy panicking. Especially Marinette. Considering that he specifically addresses her.
We all know that Marinette can go a little overboard and she has a very specific approach as well: she immediately tries to find a logical solution to the problem. And in doing so, she can dismiss other people’s feelings, because hey, at the end of the day, if everything’s okay, that’s really what matters, right?
Adrien very much recognises that Marinette’s going overboard here. And he also takes into account how Rose would feel in this situation and he respects those feelings. He isn’t like Marinette who’d try and jump into fixing the problem, but rather be supportive, listen and try to understand others’ emotional states, when faced with a problem.
But what’s important to note that Adrien specifically addresses Marinette. Because he doesn’t have control in this situation. Marinette is the one in control. And he realises that.
The reason why she’s in control is because people like and respect her. It’s not only because she’s class representative. She’s a good class representative in the first place because of her personality. People listen to her because she’s proven to be reliable and resourceful. It’s a general perception among the class. And it’s been showcased as such in the show too.
A good example is in Startrain, where Lila simply points out how “Marinette always has the solution to everything.”
I find it crucial that Lila points it out. She doesn’t even like Marinette. But Lila is too good of an emotional manipulator, she can read the room really well, thus she does acknowledge how the class perceives Marinette and plays dumb under that proved notion.
Even Lila acknowledges how well-respected Marinette is in the class. And it’s not only because Marinette’s kind and generous, it’s because she’s interactive and openly showcases her qualities through her actions.
See, a lot of people can be kind and generous. But not everyone’s traits are acknowledged to such a high regard. It’s continuous interaction and action that tell people who you are.
Marinette interacts and has repeatedly proved herself through her actions. And everyone acknowledges these qualities she exhibits to a high regard.
Going back to the S2 Finale, let’s talk about Adrien’s little speech here:
“I wanted to tell you. Rose was right earlier. You're always helping people. Like that day you helped Juleka overcome her class photo curse. Or when you partnered Nathaniel and Marc together to make that comic book. Or when you helped me get to the movies so that I could see my mother on the screen. That's why everyone jumped at the chance to help you with the picnic. So today, it was our turn to help you. You're our everyday Ladybug. Have a good evening, Super-Marinette.”
It’s canonically established through his words how the class perceives Marinette. Through her actions, they can infer her amazing qualities, people like that in her and choose to stand by her. They trust her because she usually has good intentions and they will listen to her.
Marinette’s mainly in charge in this scene in Guiltrip because people are listening to her. She doesn’t need to force control by status, money or power. People listen to her and acknowledge her to be in control because they trust her..
And Adrien knows all that. He knows it. And he genuinely admires it. Living the life he’s lived, Adrien has seen control and popularity in all kinds. He’s used to people using their money and status to control and dominate a situation. His own father does that.
See, but Marinette, she’s different. She doesn’t ask for power and popularity. Marinette’s a leader because she stands up for what’s right, helps people and proves herself through her actions. And her personality makes her endearing for other people to listen to her.
Marinette can dominate a situation without trying. Even if it’s unintentional, people like and respect her enough to listen to her.
And Adrien sees that. Despite how quirky Marinette can be, he sees her as a leader born from the goodness of her own heart. And thus, going back to the S2 Finale speech, he calls her their “Everyday Ladybug”. God, that one speech is so important. So many implications to analyse for another time.
Because Ladybug’s someone else who’s a good leader to him. One who has a strong sense of justice and unwavering respect from people without even trying.
That comparison tells us how much he admires and adores Marinette.
And this perception he has of Marinette (as well as the rest of the class) is brought into play in Guiltrip. He acknowledges that she’s the one in control here and that’s why he addresses her, telling her to calm down. Because she’s the one making all the calls in this situation, everyone’s open to listening to her, and she’s blinded by her own desire to help and find a solution.
Adrien is the one who acknowledges that Marinette was taking it overboard, bringing the whole class onto this route. How she was jumping to conclusions before listening to what Rose has to say, how she feels.
If Adrien could’ve done something here, he would’ve firstly asked Rose if she was feeling fine. Because he’s first and foremost considerate of people’s feelings and listens to them before trying to take action.
Marinette takes action regardless of anything. She jumps to action before trying to read the situation.
What’s also important how Adrien has to first get Marinette to calm down, before he can try to input something in this situation.
Getting Marinette to calm down = Getting the class to do so.
Because she’s the one in charge and she’s the one people are more likely to listen to.
Why not Adrien himself?
Okay. Okay. People are more likely to listen to Marinette because she’s earned the respect of everyone as she’s proved herself through her actions on numerous occasions. She’s also very interactive which makes her personality and intentions clearer.
For Adrien, it’s not that he isn’t approachable or kind. It’s because people don’t know him as well. And he’s not as interactive. For several reasons.
He’s barely there. Gabriel forbids him to attend pretty much every gathering. And it limits him interacting with his classmates so they won’t get to know him better.
He’s a sheltered kid. He’s not very good at social cues and interaction. And he’s also very shy and doesn’t interact too much either.
He hides his vulnerabilities. Limits expressing himself. He’s always wearing that facade of perfection that he’s been taught to wear. How can you let people in to who you really are if you’re pretending to be something you’re not? He’s focused on hiding certain aspects of himself that he’s actually hiding core aspects to his personality.
And them not knowing him that well also makes him less reliable, whilst they can like him, they don’t know him well enough to trust him to Marinette’s level.
In Felix, their reaction to the nasty video speaks volumes. angsty volumes.
Nino: No way that's real! It must be a fake.
Markov: I am one hundred percent positive that the video hasn't been altered in any way!
Kim: The truth is, we've only known him since we came back after the summer.
Alya: Let's not forget he was friends with Chloé before he met us.
Marinette: Don't believe this video, it can't be Adrien!
Only Marinette and Nino truly believed that the video wasn’t Adrien. The rest of the classmates were unsure...he’s relatively new and they didn’t know him well enough to infer in that situation.
Cue the difference to when Marinette was initially accused of cheating and they didn’t believe it straight away.
Despite Adrien being in the class, he hasn’t really gotten to know anyone well enough except from Nino and Marinette.
And a part of him does know he can’t interact with the class like Marinette does. That’s why in this scene he turns to her immediately.
Also, Adrien addressing Marinette aside from the “in charge” aspect also relates to the idea that he felt comfortable doing so. He felt that he could approach her. But...
It’s really weird how he isn’t facing her when asking her to calm down. His back is turned to her. He’s looking at Nino whilst asking her to calm down. And his body language is reluctant almost as if he was debating due to how much of a frantic mood Marinette seemed to be in. Adrien’s used to sweet and stammering Marinette. Not Marinette yelling at the top of her lungs.
The way he’s looking at Nino, it’s almost like he’s seeking support in this really chaotic situation, and Nino’s pretty much his best friend. The one he’s the most comfortable with. Adrien’s shy and he isn’t good at being open in these kind of situations, that’s why he felt inclined to seek some support from Nino. But Nino was busy on the phone to notice Adrien’s difficult position. Sure. He was calling for Marinette, but he was reluctant and needed support from Nino to speak in this chaotic situation.
And despite how close Adrienette is now, they still have a long journey to go. Whilst they absolutely adore each other, they’re still distant in some aspects, Adrien not being confident to face Marinette’s way and ask her to calm down only shows that they aren’t used to interacting with each other in all kinds of situations. They’re getting there. Baby steps.
Chloe groaned when she heard a knock on her window, burrowing her face further in the blankets.
And then her brain processed that it was a knock. On her window. And she lived in a penthouse.
She reluctantly pushed herself up to sit in her bed and squinted out the window. Marinette sat just outside, one knee drawn to her chest and her head resting back against the sill as she waited to be let in. Chloe was hit with a sudden rush of nostalgia as she was thrown back to all the times ‘Ladybug’ had been outside her window before her patrols so she could babysit her.
But, instead of the forced smile that she used to put on when she noticed Chloe looking, concern spread across her face.
Chloe trudged over, blanket wrapped tightly around herself, and pushed the window open.
Marinette slipped inside. “Heard you got sick?”
“Everyone. Almost at the exact same time, actually,” she said with a slight shake of her head. “I think they’re hoping that you’ll do that thing where you confess your love to me or something while your brain is fried.”
Chloe rolled her eyes with a smile. “Give me something to eat and I just might.”
Marinette grinned and held up a plastic bag Chloe had missed. “Well, Alya asked me to take you some chicken noodle soup courtesy of her mom.”
“I don’t know whether that means I’m supposed to confess my love for Alya, her mom, or you.”
“Her mom, obviously.”
Chloe snorted. “If only I had her number.”
Marinette rolled her eyes and leaned down to scoop Chloe into her arms, blanket and all. “When you’re feeling better you can fly over and tell her in person. For now you’ll have to wait.”
She smiled and tipped her head to rest against her shoulder. Marinette pressed a kiss to her forehead.
“You’re really warm,” she told her, setting her down on the bed.
“Yeah. I’m sick.”
“What do you have?”
She shrugged. “Probably a cold.”
“Oh, then you’ll be fine by tomorrow,” she said, drawing back now that she knew it wasn’t all that serious.
Chloe watched her set the soup on the nightstand with a pout, pulling her hands from her blanket burrito to reach for her. “Yeah, but I’m not fine now so…”
“I have to help my parents with work.”
“I’ll send Alya and Nino to do it. I can say it’s part of their training or whatever.”
Marinette hesitated just slightly and Chloe made a show of coughing into her arm. She knew that she could tell it was fake, but Marinette allowed Chloe to drag her into bed with her.
“I’m going to tell Adrien that you’re even clingier than he is when you’re sick.”
“I’m only like this when it’s you.”
Marinette’s face flushed. Chloe beamed as she tossed the blanket over her and pulled her close for cuddles.
“Ugh. You’re all sweaty.”
“I’m sick, cut me a break.”
“No, I don’t think I will,” she teased but she still allowed Chloe to bury her face in her neck.
Chloe didn’t realize she’d fallen asleep until she woke up. One of Marinette’s hands was running through her hair, working through the tiny knots that had formed. Chloe had tangled their legs in their sleep and wrapped her arms around her waist.
She lifted her head slightly and the hand in her hair stilled.
Marinette had been scrolling through her phone, a content smile on her face. Now, though, she turned her attention onto Chloe. She pressed a tiny kiss to her forehead. “Hey.”
“I could wake up to this every day,” Chloe ‘joked’, and she KNEW she had a dopey look on her face.
Marinette rolled her eyes, a blush creeping up her cheeks. “Please, this stops the minute you get better.”
“Maybe I’ll just keep getting sick, then.”
She got a little laugh for that one. “Sounds miserable.”
“It’d be worth it,” said Chloe. She drew back some so they could both stretch. “How long was I out?”
“Two hours,” Marinette said. She craned her neck. “Kwami, everything is numb now.”
“It does,” she said, trying to get out of the blankets.
Chloe whined and buried her face in her chest and tightened her grip on her waist. “Nooooo…”
“I can’t stay here forever.”
“With you? Forever wouldn’t be nearly long enough to satisfy me.”
Marinette rolled her eyes to hide the way her face flushed and semi-reluctantly settled back in the bed. “I have to give it to you, you can be pretty smooth.”
Chloe smiled and looked up at her. “Thank you, honey.”
She snickered and flashed a goofy smile. “Of course, sweetie.”
Chloe slowly let her head fall to rest on Marinette’s chest again and she couldn’t help the way she felt her face warm when she heard her heart beat just a little faster.
… and a question bubbled to the surface, threatening the smile on her face. She hesitated and considered brushing it aside like she always did but… she had to know. She lifted her gaze back to Marinette’s.
“Why don’t you hate me?”
“You should hate me, I was awful to you and Nino for years. Why don’t you guys hate me?”
Her smile disappeared. “Oh…” She swallowed thickly and looked away. “It’s… I didn’t think I would ever like you as much as I did, I’m sure if past me saw me today she’d be pretty disappointed, but… I think current you doesn’t really like past you, either.”
She frowned, confused.
“You’ve been trying really hard to get past that, I guess is the best way of saying it. I don’t like the person you were, but that person doesn’t exist anymore. You’re someone else now and you’re trying to make up for it. I can’t ask you to do much more than that. And you can’t ask yourself to do more, either. You’ve saved Paris multiple times, saved millions of people, don’t you think you’ve atoned enough for being a bit of a bitch when we were kids?”
Chloe didn’t know how to respond to that. So, instead, she gave a halfhearted smile and said: “Ten euros.”
Marinette’s soft look dropped into a scowl. “I take that back. You haven’t changed at all.”
Chloe giggled and, after a second, Marinette joined her in her laughter.
There was a beat as the two of them smiled at each other. After a moment’s hesitation Marinette took Chloe’s face in her hands and pulled her in for a kiss.
Chloe, reluctantly, stopped when they were just a few centimeters apart. “Tomorrow. I’m still sick, idiot. We know it's transferred by saliva, too, ‘cause that’s how I got it in the first place.”
Marinette smirked. “Okay, but consider: I’m not weak.”
Chloe narrowed her eyes slightly and moved forward the last bit to kiss the smirk off her face. Marinette blinked, surprised, before tangling her fingers in her hair and kissing back. She let her eyes flutter closed, a small smile on her face as she pulled her ever closer by her waist.
… as you can guess, Marinette ended up sick the next day.
The next day, Chloe’s TikTok had a new video.
Chloe gave the camera an exhausted look.
“Being a woman in love with another woman is not always cute. Sometimes it’s pushing your girlfriend’s face away because you have a cold and she keeps trying to kiss you knowing this because she has no sense of self preservation.”
The camera panned to show Marinette, who had curled herself around her and fallen asleep, her hair plastered to her forehead with sweat and skin paler than ever.
“She ended up catching a cold. You’ll never guess how!”
As usual, Alya was right about everything. Nino is having a bi awakening and he is absolutely loving every second of it.
Kissing Adrien is like nothing he’d ever imagined. Adrien’s lips are small and smooth and warm and—Nino could mix an entire album to the tune of the way Adrien feels against his skin. Adrien doesn’t shirk back either; Adrien presses just as intently, sighing a little as he tilts his head to the side and settles his palms beneath Nino’s elbows, the new contact electrifying.
Nino wonders if this is Adrien’s first ‘real’ kiss and realizes that it probably is.
He figures he might as well make it a good one.
Adrien gasps as Nino runs his tongue along his lower lip, a hesitant invitation to take their kiss a little deeper. The sound is intoxicating and spurs Nino on, parting his lips and reaching for his shoulders to try and drag him a little closer. The expensive fabric of Adrien’s shirt is nice, of course, but the soft drag of his fingertips against the pale expanse of his neck is absolutely divine.
Adrien tastes like gummy worms and kisses like a dememnted octopus, but Nino wouldn’t have it any other way. He’s more experienced and deftly teaches his best bro to restrain his slobber through hard work and experience, kissing him over and over again until they’re both panting for air. Nino’s back is killing him from leaning forwards and he moves away for a moment to stretch out the kinks, smiling at his wide-eyed, astonished friend. Adrien’s hair is all over the place and his kiss-swollen lips, once thin and pale, now shine in the ambient light of the Parisian sky.
Nino imagines he probably looks just as blown away.
“I want to do that again,” Adrien states plainly, and it all comes out in a breathless rush. Determined, he doesn’t waste another moment and climbs into Nino’s lap without hesitation, cupping his cheeks and kissing him thoroughly.
“Dude! Nnnhh—” Nino wraps his arms around his waist and reels at the sudden pressure, his every sense overtaken by the handsome, enthusiastic, teenaged equivalent of a baby deer currently trying to swallow him whole. Adrien is a terrible kisser but he makes up for it in eagerness, his passion and warmth a symbol of everything he’s always admired about Adrien. When he’s not shoved under his father’s imposing thumb, Adrien blooms like a flower and spreads joy wherever he goes, shining like a sunrise over the skyline of Paris.
They both part for a moment and Adrien leans his forehead against Nino’s, grinning from ear to ear. “That was fun!”
“Y-yeah?” Nino replies breathlessly, butterflies raving like a David Guetta bassline in his stomach. He uses the back of his hoodie to wipe the saliva from his chin and feels a little silly all of the sudden, utterly mesmerized by the look of adoration gleaming in Adrien’s eyes.
“We should do this more often.” Adrien runs his fingers through his messy bangs and rubs the back of his neck a little nervously, sliding off of Nino’s lap and back onto the blanket. “That is, you know, if you want to.”
Nino shrugs his shoulders. “As long as you want to, I’m game.”
“Awesome!” Adrien is suddenly flurry of limbs, flailing until he’s perfectly curled around Nino like a contented cat. A little bewildered, Nino accepts the Switch that Adrien hands him and follows his lead as the starting music begins to filter through the evening air. Adrien’s Princess Peach whips Nino’s Yoshi but Nino can’t be bothered to get upset about it; instead, he distracts him by shoving a gummy bear up Adrien’s nose on the final lap.
They’re best friends, and nothing about that changes. Nino sneaks into Adrien’s labyrinth every Thursday night for a video game rendezvous and eventually, Adrien actually learns the difference between kissing your partner and drowning them. It’s nothing serious and Nino’s love for Adrien grows and grows until it nearly bursts from his chest.
“I love you...as more than a friend,” he admits one night, a few days before lycée is about to begin.
Adrien gapes at him. “But...you’re dating Alya?”
“Doesn’t mean I can’t love you too.” Nino glances away, swallowing uncomfortably. “She knows, by the way. She doesn’t mind sharing.”
“Oh.” Adrien breathes, and sometimes Nino wishes his friend wasn’t so adorably naive. “Is that what we’re doing? Dating?”
“Kind of?” Nino feels his cheeks flood with embarrassment. “I mean—not officially. It’s like, it’s...we have a thing.”
“So we’re seeing each other? But we always see each other…” Adrien trails off, his head resting on Nino’s outstretched thighs. “I like doing this. Kissing and playing video games.”
“Then let’s keep doing it.” The last thing Nino wants to do is ruin what they have. “Nothing has to change between us.”
“Great!” Adrien flashes him his million watt smile and smashes a combo into his Switch’s controller. He obliterates Nino and he curses loudly, doubling down to get Adrien back. It’s perfect and it’s them, a summer fling on the cusp of something more.
Nino had a reputation. He was the nice, approachable miraculous holder. He hadn’t gone into it trying to make that persona, but he definitely didn’t mind.
After all, when you’re ‘nice’ then you’re also assumed to be ‘stupid’ and underestimation was always helpful.
So, he kept it up. Ironically, keeping up a ‘friendly but a little slow’ persona takes a lot of calculation. No sharp points or rough edges in his costume. Sticking around after akumas to make sure everyone is dealing with it okay. Maintaining his approachableness by not having any official merch made (he only did it once, and that was only at a Make A Wish kid’s request). Practicing smiles in mirrors and hours poring over joke books for bad puns…
Yeah. It was a lot of work, but it came in handy sometimes to have people think he was stupid.
He scrolled through his photo roll under the guise of looking for a specific video for TikTok, but really he was watching Adrien out of the corner of his eyes.
Adrien had been acting... off. He was more energetic, constantly preening by touching his hair or checking himself in every reflective surface. On top of that, he was being secretive and choosing his words more.
Normally, Nino would have just assumed it was due to him being around his father again. The energy was just the hypervigilance abused kids had, the preening was because he was going to get back into modeling soon, the secrecy was to make sure he didn’t anger his father. He could tell that’s what Alya and Chloe thought it was, they casted worried glances his way whenever they noticed, but...
One thing couldn’t be explained away: the pin on his shirt.
Nino sighed and closed his eyes, thinking. Adrien was clearly trying to hide it, it was barely visible under the folds of his hoodie, but why? Marinette had already texted everyone not to question it because it belonged to his mother back in the day. That was fine, but then why was he hiding it? Was he that hurt by Marinette’s joke the other day?
And why did he feel like he’d seen it before?
Nino shook his head slightly and opened his eyes again, looking down at his phone and uploading the video.
It was short, just a few seconds.
Alya, in costume, smiled over at Nino.
“I think that went well. We make a good team.”
The video zoomed in on a spot over her shoulder where Adrien, Marinette, and Chloe were all arguing animatedly.
TikTok account updated, he smiled and pocketed his phone. “Ready?”
“We’ve all been ready for ages, you’re the one who took forever,” said Chloe, but there was no real bite in her tone.
He sighed. “Whatever, what’s first?”
“Well, since tomorrow is Christmas we need a simpler topic… so: balancing trays,” said Adrien.
Nino and Alya shared confused looks.
“We… we can carry trays already.”
“Can you carry five at once? Because that’s the average for events like this,” Chloe said.
Nino loved his friends. He really did.
But he loved them considerably less than he usually did at that moment.
He was learning to have a lot more respect for waiters, at least.
It didn’t help that Chloe told them they would have to pay for anything they dropped. He doubted that it was anything but motivation, but that didn’t mean that he wasn’t a little bit wary of letting anything fall.
At least he had some kind of experience due to helping out Marinette at her parent’s bakery that one time, though. Alya, it seemed, wasn’t so lucky.
Alya, it seemed, had been flattened, actually.
He trudged over, his arms aching under the strain of holding them out for so long, and nudged her with his foot. The tray on her head wobbled precariously as she lifted her gaze to meet his.
“I vote we kill the rich kids.”
“Agreed,” he said. “But we’ll have to be up to do that.”
She grumbled a little and slowly started getting to her feet, much to the two rich kids’ horror.
… they were lucky that the two of them were bogged down still and therefore were easy to get away from.
Nino didn’t celebrate Christmas. He was Muslim, there wasn’t really any reason for him to do so. That didn’t mean he didn’t accept Marinette’s cookies or wish his friends a Merry Christmas through text, he just didn’t join in on the festivities. It would have felt weird and wrong for him, so he was happy to curl up by the fire and to watch the video that his friends had uploaded to TikTok.
It was a snowball fight. Much to everyone’s dismay, every snowball they sent Marinette’s way dissolved before it could hit her… so they ganged up on her to push her in a snowbank. The video zoomed in on Marinette’s hand popping out of the snowbank to grab the person nearest her -- Chloe -- and drag them in as well. Fortunately and unfortunately, she managed to grab hold of Adrien and Alya on the way down. The four of them were a tangle of limbs and snow by the end of the video.
The next day was far less fun for everyone involved: how to deal with bitchy guests.
Adrien may as well have not been there, to be honest. He’d tried to help out but then he’d stuttered a lot while trying to call them anything worse than ‘annoying idiots’. He settled to sit on Marinette’s bed (they’d stolen her room for no reason other than because they could) and snuggle the giant cat plush she had.
Which left only Chloe to bully them.
Alya was, unsurprisingly, very good at lying and acting in general. Nino wasn’t, but that was also to be expected. HE didn’t get to be magically enhanced by a god.
Chloe turned to him. “My steak is clearly undercooked! Look at it, it’s pink!”
“It’s steak, ma’am. That’s how steak is.”
“How rude! Don’t you know who I am? I could have you fired!”
Chloe’s composure broke a little and she took a moment to school her face back into a scowl. “Where is your manager?”
“Somewhere. If you find him, tell me. I have no clue who he is.”
That got Chloe to break character completely. She laughed. “You suck.”
“Well, I AM gay.”
Adrien sat up in the bed. “YOU’RE GAY?!”
Alya raised her eyebrows. “Remember that one interview where the interviewer asked how they could all be better allies like him and he just laughed for a good minute?”
“I THOUGHT HE HAD JUST THOUGHT OF SOMETHING FUNNY?”
“I followed it up by saying ‘Yeah… I’m an ALLY’ and then laughing even harder. I literally couldn’t have been any more obvious without kissing a guy on screen.”
Adrien could only shrug sheepishly.
Alya snickered. “I don’t know why Master Fu ever thought putting a bunch of gay disasters together would go well.”
“Hey! I’m not a disaster!” Tried Chloe.
She got many skeptical looks.
“Chloe, you’ve lived with your crush for five months while knowing she liked you back and you still haven’t made a move. You’re the biggest disaster of all of us.”
Chloe didn’t have a retort for that so she cleared her throat and glared halfheartedly at Nino. “Alright, c’mon, you’re not going to learn to be a better waiter if we don’t get back on subject.”
On day four Marinette had done fittings for them both (Chloe manned the counter at the bakery, and when people asked she would tell them that she owed an old classmate).
Nino frowned as she worked at his sleeves. “Is it normal to stitch stuff while people are still wearing it?”
She moved the needles in her mouth to the side so she could tell him: “No, but I don’t have a lot of time before Chloe burns the bakery down.”
“She’s not doing any of the baking.”
“She’d find a way regardless.”
She turned away from him to deal with Alya and made an annoyed whining sound in the back of her throat. “Stop moving or I’m going to stab you.”
“Is that a threat?”
“No, it’s a warning. If you keep moving while I’m stitching I’m going to end up stabbing you with a needle. So stop.”
“... oh. Okay.”
“Adrien come over here and hold Alya’s sleeve for me.”
He frowned a little but he walked over and, after hearing her list the same instructions five times, copied her hold so she could stitch something without risking stabbing her in the arm.
It was here that Alya saw the pin. Her eyebrows furrowed thoughtfully. “I know that from somewhere.”
“Oh?” Said Adrien. “That’s because --.” He stopped suddenly. Nino frowned at the brief annoyance passing over his friend’s face, but then it was gone and he managed little more than a shrug. “My mom was famous.”
Well THAT wasn’t suspicious at all.
“No, I don’t think --.”
Unfortunately, fate wasn’t smiling on them because Chloe chose that exact moment to come rushing up the stairs.
“A CUSTOMER SPAT ON ME.”
Marinette winced. “Yeah, that happens sometimes.”
“The fuck do you MEAN it ‘happens sometimes’?” Said Nino, more than a little concerned.
“I’m just glad it isn’t a race thing if it happened to Chloe, too,” she said absently. She walked to her desk and picked up a wet wipe, offering it to Chloe. “Here.”
Chloe frowned. “I worked really hard on my makeup, I don’t want to mess it up. It’ll be fine.”
Nino isn’t exactly a man of action when he’s outside of his Miraculous suit. He prefers to chill and let things happen on their own, observing from the sidelines. Music keeps him on a steady keel and his own beliefs ensure that he’s always thinking of others while keeping as low a profile as possible. Blend in, but be a good friend. Mix great music and be known for the positivity he brings to the table.
Having feels for his best bro though? That’s a different story, and if he wants to keep the positive vibes going, he needs to keep that tightly underwraps for the both of them. His parents, though kind, are very traditional. And Gabriel? Hah! Nino figures he’d probably send Adrien to a rich kid rehab centre in the country if the old man ever found out that Adrien kissed a boy, let alone had an independent thought.
Then again, would Adrien even want to kiss him? He’s sure he’d agree if he asked, but he doesn’t want to force the matter. That’s the last thing he’d ever want to do!
So things would have to be discreet. Nino could be discreet. He really had no choice in the matter.
This situation though? This isn’t discreet. Not even close!
“Bro, are you sure this is a good idea?”
Adrien grins, the wind whipping his hair across his forehead. His golden halo gleams in the garden lights illuminating the tall hedges in the mansion’s garden. “Of course it is. There aren’t any security cameras facing the labyrinth and the Wifi still works there.”
“But dude, how are you getting down?” Nino whispers, having snuck into Adrien’s yard through a hole behind one of the many stone statues lining the towering walls. His best bro, on the other hand, is standing just outside of his bedroom window.
“The same way I always do.” Adrien winks and Nino can’t believe how absolutely chaotic his friend can be sometimes. How is he so perfect one day and then absolutely insane the next? Nino’s jaw drops as Adrien steps onto the edge of the rooftop and leaps without so much as looking down. Nino scrambles to get underneath him just as Adrien snags a thick column of ivy just in the nick of time, swinging forwards like Tarzan and landing on the ground beside him in a superhero crouch.
“Dude!” Nino wants to strangle him and kiss him simultaneously, his blood both frozen in fear and boiling with hot hot heat at whatever the hell he just pulled off. “When did you start taking gymnastics, dude? What the hell?!”
“What can I say?” Adrien says, brushing the dust off his knees as he stands. “I’m gifted in every category.”
The pun goes right over Nino’s head like a Boeing 747. “Are you okay?” he asks, still too shocked to notice that every goosepimple on his skin is tingling.
“Yep!” Adrien smiles and Nino is immediately reduced to putty. How does he do that? It’s kind of like when he’s with Alya, except the feeling in his chest is completely different entirely. With her, his heart warms with affection and safety and happiness. He knows he can be himself and enjoy himself with her and thinks about holding her hand constantly. But Adrien? Being with him is like a rush of adrenaline, like a dangerous game where they can’t get caught. “Come on, Nino. Let’s get lost!”
Thoroughly baffled by the boy before him, Nino tottles along behind Adrien like the lovestruck fool that he is, though he’s not about to admit it. When Adrien had invited him to sneak over to his place and play Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on their Nintendo Switches, he hadn’t expected to be doing it outside underneath the stars in his giant labyrinth.
(...it was kind of romantic!)
“Dude, why don’t we just sneak into your bedroom instead?” Nino asks as they enter the sanctuary of the pristinely trimmed hedges.
“We’d get caught!” Adrien laughs as if it’s obvious. “Sometimes you can be pretty loud when you’re winning, and I don’t want Nathalie to hear us. She’d ban me from seeing you for the rest of my life!”
Nino swallows. There’s absolutely no way he can let that happen. “As long as we don’t get lost in there.”
“I know the way.” Adrien bumps their shoulders together and smirks. “The Gorilla is terrible at mazes. I come in here when I want to lose him.”
True to his word, Adrien easily leads them to the middle of the labyrinth. There’s a small stone fountain surrounded by roses in the small courtyard and Adrien tugs a large sack out from under them, opening it to reveal the contents within. “I made sure we were prepared!” He exclaims, pulling out a blanket, two cushions and a variety of candies and snacks. With Nino’s help, they set up the perfect little gaming cocoon. “So? Who are you going to play tonight?”
Nino pulls out his Switch and sits down beside his best friend and current raging crush, his heart fluttering with the close proximity. “Who do you think?”
Adrien rolls his eyes and shoves some gummy bears into his mouth. “Buh you alwaysh play Yoshi!”
“He’s my dude!” Nino grins, snatching some of the candies from Adrien’s bag. “And you can’t have him.”
“But I thought I was your dude!” Adrien holds his palm against his chest and feigns heartbreak, which is when Nino’s brain decides this would be a great idea to press a kiss to Adrien’s temple. Nino freezes the moment he realizes what he’s done.
He tries to stammar out an apology and finds that he can’t even will air into his lungs to breathe. Adrien stares, shocked senseless and wide-eyed, and Nino wishes the ground would swallow him whole.
“Nino?” he whispers tentatively, gently brushing at the very place Nino’s lips had touched a moment earlier. Adrien’s face flushes red instantaneously. “Did you just—”
But he doesn’t get much farther than that. Nino sees the way Adrien is staring at his lips and lets his monkey brain make another executive decision. Softly, gently, cautiously, Nino leans in for a proper kiss this time.
Adrien and Nino spend the summer between collège and lycée playing video games as often as their busy schedules allow. Adrien feels like he has a modelling gig every other minute and rejoices everytime he gets home so he can sit in front of his screen with his headset on. Nino, on the other hand, has been running food deliveries for his uncle’s restaurant during the afternoon rush for extra pocket money. Nino’s mom is adamant that he doesn’t do any deliveries at night — between the protests and the mounting violence against “others”, the Lahiffe’s would rather be safe than sorry.
Adrien loves Resident Evil Village and Nino likes to tease him about simping on the giant vampire lady because of course he would simp on Lady Dimitrescu. Nino hates jumpscare games personally and prefers playing Halo but hey, they compromise. They’re both super excited for Horizon Forbidden West and freak out over the game play when they see the trailer for it on Reddit.
Nino follows a few Twitch streamers but Adrien must follow hundreds, if not thousands. Nino doesn’t get it but the boy needs to compartmentalize his insane life somehow and Nino doesn’t mind. As long as they have the time to play together, he’ll be happy.
“I wish I could play beside you.” Adrien seems to say this every time they’re on voice chat and Nino expresses the same thing. He misses sitting beside his best bro, especially now that they won’t always be in the same classes in lycée. The dread in his chest at the thought makes him wonder, but he quickly brushes it off as karma for eating the Casablanca platter that the weird lady in the Marais refused to come down and get from the lobby.
Alya is the first one to notice that something’s up with Nino. He talks about Adrien more than usual, which should have been her first clue. She’s a little jealous initially, hating that his gaze seems to be drawn in a direction different from her, but she comes to terms with it after a week or two. Nino is having a bi awakening and that’s okay! Alya’s been there, done that, got the pride t-shirt. But will Nino act on it? Will he just ignore it or mistake his bi feelings for something else entirely until he explodes? Now, that’s the question.
Nino has always been casually affectionate. A hug here, an arm draped over a shoulder there. He’s like this with everyone, but more so with Adrien and Alya than anyone else. It’s no secret how much Adrien loves the extra attention and actively seeks it out, thanking Nino politely for each and every little bit of closeness Nino sends his way.
One fateful Friday evening, the boys manage to sneak Adrien out of his cage and they all congregate at a pool for Kim’s birthday party. Adrien is elated and wrestles with Nino in the water, climbing up onto his shoulders to fight Alex and Kim. Nino feels that rush again, the one that steals the breath from his lungs and pointedly reminds him that his best bro’s unmentionables are smushed against the back of his head.
Needless to say, they lose the battle miserably.
But boy oh boy, Nino’s not ready to lose the war.
“You’re having a bi awakening.” Alya swims up beside him, having watched the entire exchange with a bemused quirk of her lips. “And that’s okay.”
Nino nearly chokes. “What?!”
“You’ve got feelings for Sunshine and Rainbows, I get it.” Alya pats him on his shoulder and presses a kiss to his cheek. “I’m not mad. I’m actually kind of happy for you?”
Nino splutters for a hot minute, his cheeks as red as the vibrant colour of Alya’s suit. “I don’t—I mean—”
“Look, if the time is right and he’s into it, you have my permission to kiss him. We’re young.” Alya shrugs her shoulders and smiles encouragingly. “And if it’s something you want to pursue, then we can talk about it after, okay?”
Alya swims away and six thousand thoughts course through Nino’s brain at the speed of lightning. Was Alya giving him permission to cheat? No, Alya was giving him the room to feel without guilt and after a solid five minutes of hyperventilating and dunking his head underwater to keep from spontaneously combusting entirely, Nino goes and gives Alya the kiss of a lifetime.
“Thank you,” he whispers, to which Alya responds with a quick peck to the cheek.
“You do you, Turtle Boy.” She grins as he throws his head back and laughs, reminding everyone around them of how glorious he sounds when his soul is set alight. “You’ll always be number one in my heart. And hey, let’s agree that if you get to kiss Sunshine, then I totally get to kiss Ladybug.”
“Deal.” He wraps his arms around her waist and whips her about, creating a whirlpool around them. “Adrien! Come and save me! Alya is trying to kill me!”
As if on cue, Adrien swan dives into the water and snags his number one bro in a piggy back hold. “Your gallant hero is here to save you from her siren’s call!”
Alya shares a knowing glance with Nino and disappears beneath the water, swimming away towards Marinette and Myléne. Whatever happened between them is entirely in Nino’s hands now.
Marinette wanted many things. To have a healthy sleep schedule again. To defeat Hawkmoth already. To have less demanding customers...
What she did NOT want was her annoying rich friends dropping by her house at seven in the morning to teach her how to deal with rich people.
She felt a finger poke her face and jolt her out of her nap but damn it she was still tired and she was not intending on moving for another fifty years if she could help it.
Another poke. And then another.
Pleeeeease go away, she thought as she burrowed deeper into her blankets.
Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke.
“I don’t think it’s working, Chloe,” said Adrien.
“It is. She’s awake, just ignoring us.”
Marinette grabbed the hand and opened a bleary eye to see two blonds standing over her. She opened her other eye in order to glare at them properly but, instead of running for safety like people with self-preservation instincts are prone to do, they just broke into grins.
“Good morning,” cooed Adrien.
“How the fuck did you get in my house,” said Marinette, finally releasing the hand and pushing herself up to sit.
“Your mom let us in.”
She grumbled a little in Mandarin. Chloe and Adrien understood what she was saying, if the amused smiles on their faces meant anything, but she couldn’t bring herself to care as she rolled out of bed and trudged around getting changed.
An hour later she had been fed and clothed and given enough coffee to be able to wake up some.
Now that she was awake… she turned to glare at her friends. “I hate you guys.”
Adrien stretched lazily, unperturbed by her apparent hatred of them, and it was here that Marinette noticed the brooch on his shirt. Her head tipped to the side the slightest bit.
“Weird choice. Is bad fashion sense just a family trait?”
He gave her a confused frown until she nodded to the brooch and then he puffed out an awkward laugh. “Yeah. I was going through the house looking for places we could all transform in during the gala and I found this. It used to belong to my mom.”
Marinette pressed her lips together thinly. She would like to take back her joke.
She couldn’t so she flashed awkward finger guns and abruptly switched to the next topic:
“I really don’t need this. I deal with rich bitches for my job all the time. I’ll be fine.”
Chloe winced. “See, it’s you calling them ‘rich b-s’ that worries us.”
“You can’t swear in front of people,” said Adrien. “Which means… we’re implementing a swear jar.”
“Really?” Said Marinette, suddenly tired all over again. “I’m not a child.”
“We need to get you to stop swearing. If we have to use negative punishment to get you to stop then so be it.”
“Fuck out of here with your Skinner nonsense.”
“Not nonsense. Ten euros in the swear jar,” said Adrien.
“Ten,” confirmed Chloe, reaching into her bag and pulling out a jar. “Pay up.”
Marinette clicked her tongue and found her purse. However reluctantly, she dropped ten euros in the jar. She got the feeling that the jar would be very full by the end of the two weeks.
She gave the two a tentative smile. “Ready to start?”
The first day was dedicated to silverware. You’ve read that right. A whole day. Dedicated to fucking SILVERWARE.
Who needs this many spoons? This many forks? Why did they have so many names? WHY?
She glared at the diagram Adrien and Chloe had drawn for her.
“This is some white people shit.”
“Ten euros,” said Adrien absently.
Marinette scowled as she dropped another few euros into the jar. “It is! It’s so dumb!”
“It’s important to rich people. Now, what is this?”
“... a spoon.”
“It’s a salad spoon.”
“WHO EATS SALAD WITH A SPOON?”
Marinette was going to punch someone. Preferably the corpse of whoever had decided to make so many different types of silverware.
“Alright, now try this one.”
She looked up at the weird three pronged fork Chloe was pointing at. “Trident.”
“Are you even taking this seriously?” Asked Chloe exasperatedly.
“Yeah, but I’m not convinced that whoever thought of this was. What is it?”
“Lemon fork,” answered Adrien.
“FUCK,” she hissed.
Adrien grinned. “Ten euros.”
She scowled at him and threw some more money at the jar.
Day two was posture. It turns out hunching over a sewing machine does not do wonders for your back.
She added a lot of money to the swear jar that day. Her bank account was crying. Flies were practically flying out of her wallet. And yet she needed to swear. How else could she convey her frustration?
Adrien smirked. “This is the reason you can’t lift much.”
Marinette clicked her tongue. “I doubt there’s that much of a difference.”
“I can bench about 200 kilograms,” said Chloe.
“WHAT THE FUCK.”
Adrien opened his mouth to tell her she had to pay the swear jar. She threw the money at him before he could get a word out.
The third day they went over the different designers and what each one meant about a person’s social status. This went by pretty quickly because Marinette was already well versed in the fashion world. She was pretty sure that they were giving her a break because the previous two days had been so draining, and she was secretly grateful for it.
… the gratefulness didn’t last. The next day was learning the name of every rich person that was set to attend and their known partners. A hundred invitees and another fifty or so plus ones. Marinette thought she was dying.
Marinette rested her head in her hands as she stared at the newest name on the board.
“How do I even SAY that?”
“I’ll give it to you.”
Day five was backhanded compliments and other passive-aggressive jabs.
“An oldie but a goodie is: ‘I love how you’ll just wear anything’,” said Chloe.
Adrien nodded. “I like ‘I don’t care what others say about you, you’re alright in my book,’ personally.”
“Oh! And then there’s the most devastating thing you can say to someone you’ve already met: ‘Hi, nice to meet you!’”
“When I was a kid I got away with asking a really skinny person when their baby was due to mess with them.”
While these backhanded compliments were very useful in a place like Paris, Marinette didn’t really get why they needed so many or why rich people in particular were so fond of them. So, she dropped some money in the swear jar preemptively and asked: “Why not just call someone a bitch be done with it?”
“Lose opportunities,” said Adrien with a frown.
“That’s dumb. Who wants opportunities with people they don’t like?”
Marinette frowned. She was kind of regretting the fact that her type was rich kids with parental issues and poor social skills. If this is what being a rich person was like she kinda didn’t want it.
But then Chloe grinned and rested an arm around her shoulders. “I like to tell people ‘Your new haircut looks so much better than your old one.’ Especially if their new haircut is bad. No matter what they do they lose.”
Maybe dating a rich kid wouldn’t be SO bad...
Day six discussed how much they were going to be able to eat while there.
To sum up the lesson: nothing.
“That’s fucked up,” mumbled Marinette with a frown.
“Ten euros,” said Adrien.
She threw her entire purse into the swear jar.
Is it possible to be excited for something while also seriously dreading it?
Because that was how Marinette felt about day seven: faking a relationship with Chloe.
She tried not to freeze up as Chloe rested an arm around her waist. They had always been affectionate, why was it suddenly so hard? It should have been the same, and yet… with the new context of them ‘dating’ Marinette’s heart couldn’t seem to stop spasming in her chest.
Marinette swallowed thickly before leaning up and pressing a kiss… to Chloe’s cheek. Her head tipped forward to rest against her shoulder and the two of them laughed awkwardly. The arm around her waist slipped up and the other wrapped around her and her laughter became a little more relaxed as she hugged back.
“We can probably get away with just kissing each other on the cheek,” said Marinette quietly.
Chloe nodded slightly. “Yeah, I wouldn’t want to do anything you weren’t comfortable with, anyways.”
‘But are YOU uncomfortable?’ she screamed mentally.
She forced a smile and pulled back. “There are other ways of showing you’re dating.”
“Like…?” Said Adrien.
Marinette fought not to jump. She’d forgotten he was there. She pressed her lips together thinly as she tried to think, before grinning and flashing finger guns. “Pet names.”
“Gotta be super gross and embarrassing, obviously. I’ll call you…” Chloe trailed off, unsure.
“Honey?” Offered Adrien with a slight smirk.
“NO,” complained Marinette.
Chloe laughed a little. “No no no, he has a point. It’s perfect.”
She groaned. “Fine. I’ll call you something even stupider like… like… like SWEETIE.”
Adrien snickered. “I don’t think these are the wins you seem to think they are.”
“Oh, fuck off, Adrien,” said Chloe.
Marinette gasped and turned to look at her. “Oh, sweetie, you swore? For me?”
She pretended to swoon, hand to her forehead. Chloe caught her with ease.
“Of course, honey, anything for you,” she cooed, leaning forward to nuzzle her nose against hers jokingly.
The pair of them smiled at each other and Marinette realized with a start that their faces were still only a few centimeters apart. Heat rose to her cheeks slowly and Chloe smiled, taking the hand from her forehead and pressing a kiss to her palm.
She hesitated, face burning red, before twisting the hand in Chloe’s to intertwine their fingers and then pulling back.
Marinette turned to Adrien and gave him a smile. “How was that for two people in love?”
Adrien went from ecstatic to exhausted in about half a second.
I have finally done the math. This should have about 57 parts
Adrien slipped through his window at two o’clock. Two! In the morning! He was pretty sure keeping someone up for that long was a crime. If it wasn’t it should have been.
But, hey, they figured out generally what they were going to do. Adrien and Chloe were essentially going to give Rich People Lessons so the others would know how to behave. Marinette got the first week of lessons, Nino and Alya would get the second week, and if that wasn’t enough to teach them then he supposed they’d just be screwed because the Gala was at the end of the second week.
Which meant that he only really had a day to set up everything he might need during the Gala.
So, instead of dropping onto his bed and sleeping for a year like he so desperately wanted to, he grabbed a cup of coffee -- don’t think about the bugs don’t think about the bugs -- and jumped right back out the window again.
He slipped through the streets of Paris, coffee to his lips and phone to his ear.
“I don’t know, I just think you should check his finances.”
He could practically hear Alya’s eye roll. “He’s over three hundred, we know that everything is going to be screwy.”
“Exactly. We need to pin something on him. Identity fraud, money laundering, being a front, SOMETHING.”
There was a few moments of silence over the line, enough that he worried she had hung up to warn him, but then she said, “Fine. Just know it’ll take a while.”
“You’ve got at least two weeks.”
She gave a small hum of affirmation. “I should be able to manage. You owe me.”
“I’ll make it worth it,” he promised.
“Good. Now go to sleep. Hawkmoth isn’t due for an akuma until around nine, and models are supposed to get their beauty sleep or whatever.”
“I’ll think about it.”
“I’ll sic Chloe on you if you don’t sleep soon.”
He laughed a little. “Crap. I’ll sleep as soon as I can.”
“Good. Sleep well.”
The line clicked and he set his phone in his pocket. Just in time, too, he thought vaguely as he came upon his destination.
He walked up to the door and hesitated.
Tears pooled in his eyes and he knocked on the door.
It took a few moments, but Master Fu came to the door. It was just as the door swung open that Adrien burst into tears, water rolling under his mask. “It’s him. My dad is… he’s…”
“Oh, my dear boy,” said Master Fu. He felt a tiny hand wrap around his and gently tug him inside. “I’ll set the kettle on for you. Earl Grey?”
He nodded and sunk onto the plush mat. He pulled his knees to his chest and buried his face in them, letting tears roll over his mask. “I don’t… I don’t get it. How could he?”
“The grieving do weird things,” said Master Fu. Adrien felt the mat squish next to him, but he didn’t dare lift his head. “You like Batman, right? You modeled your costume after Catwoman, after all.”
“Yeah,” he said quietly.
“Mr. Freeze keeps his wife alive through cryogenic freezing. Everything he does, every crime he commits, is on the off chance he can bring her back… but we as an audience know he can never heal her, his story would end, so the only thing he accomplishes is maintaining his own grief.”
He frowned. “My dad…”
“Is the same,” he confirmed. “Years of effort, years of compromising his morals, all in hopes that he could one day bring his wife back to life.”
Adrien nodded slowly, pulling his face from his knees and wiping his face of his tears. “Do you think he’d stop if he got her back?”
“I don’t know. Is he really doing it for her or is that just a justification? Is it what she would have wanted?”
“Apparently, since she was Paon. She probably would have loved all this evil stuff,” muttered Adrien bitterly. A cup of tea was forced into his hands and he took a couple sips. “I barely remember anything about her, y’know, and now I have to live with the knowledge that the few memories I have of my own mother were probably fake because she was hiding this whole other side to her and --.”
He was crying into his tea. He moved the cup away from his face.
“I shouldn’t miss her, knowing what she did, but… I do. I really, really do.”
“You miss the innocence you had when she was last here, that is not the same,” said Master Fu.
Adrien swirled his tea around idly, watching the tea leaves that had slipped through spin. “I guess not. I never really knew her, after all… can’t miss someone you don’t know.”
He felt a hand rest on his shoulder and slowly raised his gaze to meet Master Fu’s eyes.
“I do have…” The hand left his shoulder and the gaze left his and Master Fu started shuffling around his shop. He pulled open a drawer and picked up a notebook, and then he turned back to Adrien and handed it over. “Here. It is not much, but it is all of the discoveries my mentors and I have made over the years about the peacock miraculous. It may jog some of your memories, or at least give you some sort of understanding of your mother.”
He sniffled and wiped his face with his hands, then sent Master Fu a watery smile. “Thank you.”
They packed up quickly after that and Adrien gave him another halfhearted smile as he clutched the notebook to his chest. He started to leave.
“Remember…” Master Fu started. Adrien turned to face him. “Your mother hurt people. Your father is doing the same. You may understand them, that doesn’t mean you can condone their actions.”
“Of course. Good night, master.”
With that, he spun on his heel.
A smile spread across his face.
He started off towards his house.
Adrien trudged across the room to his bookshelf. He read the spines carefully and then pulled out a Batman comic.
He thumbed through the familiar pages. The Killing Joke. A basic choice, but a good one. He flipped to the funhouse section and something fell to the floor with a quiet ‘clink’.
Adrien closed the comic and set it back on the shelf, then knelt down to pick up the fallen object. It was metal, unassuming. It kind of looked like a blue version of the location pins on digital maps.
He spun it in his fingers before walking over to his computer desk and setting it down. Then he grabbed the notebook Master Fu had given him. He started flipping through.
The brooch had been in his family for generations. Passed on every thirty to forty years. The oldest would get the pin once they turned eighteen, almost like clockwork…
Almost DISTURBINGLY like clockwork, he thought as he read further. Even if some people stayed good, most of them didn’t. They were power hungry, hell-bent on outdoing each other in their atrocities. Not the kind to give up their powers willingly… and they didn’t. Every single one met unfortunate ends, and their pin would get passed on.
He looked at the pin, worrying his lip with his teeth. He’d gotten it when he turned eighteen, too, but he was pretty sure that was a coincidence… right?
Well, they WERE messing with gods, he supposed. Cursed jewelry wasn’t out of the realm of possibility.
But he had until his hypothetical possible kid turned eighteen to deal with that. For now, he needed to figure out how it worked…
He scanned the pages.
There were some normal miraculous rules. If their identity was found out it couldn’t be told to someone else, everyone had to find it out for themselves. It affected the wearer’s looks, giving them markings around their eyes similar to eyeliner...
His family had an affinity for magic, whether that was because of the amount of miraculous holders it had had or some natural gift for it was unknown. Adrien took out a pen and wrote down that it was likely the amount of miraculous holders, as the effects from his father’s miraculous had passed down to him as well.
He messed with a page between his fingers. If that was true then he might have been one of the most powerful holders to ever live. That was kind of cool. He had been needing the ego boost.
He brushed the thought aside temporarily. He had a mission, after all.
It was on the last few pages that he found what he actually needed. Scrawled in handwriting that he recognized as his dad’s were a few instructions and facts. If he saw that the pages had old water stains on them, he didn’t acknowledge it.
He picked up the miraculous and fastened it to his shirt.
Blue light rippled from the brooch. He fought the urge to shield his eyes, instead just waiting the light out until… a blue kwami popped out.
He smiled at it. “Duusu, right?”
Duusu nodded slowly. Their blue head tilted to the side, purple eyes scrutinizing him for a long time. He fought the urge to fix his hair a little under their gaze.
The kwami slowly floated towards him and pressed a paw to Adrien’s nose. He went cross-eyed trying to keep track of them. They smiled at him and then floated back to hover by his miraculous.
Adrien cleared his throat. “Nice to meet you. I’m your holder for… however long this stuff lasts. Hopefully not long. After that we’ll figure out what to do with you, okay?”
The kwami nodded at him.
“Duusu, spread my feathers,” he said.
He was enveloped in blue light and when he came out he was wearing… a really cute dress, actually. He liked it. Swish swish swish swish -- CONCENTRATE.
He plucked a feather from his fan and tossed it on the nearest object, a computer mouse, and he couldn’t help the slight smile that made its way across his face as it transformed into a real mouse. He picked up the tiny mouse and smiled as he brought it close to himself, examining it. It looked so… real.
He couldn’t remember a lot about his mother’s Sentimonsters, they always avoided his house for reasons he hadn’t known back then, but he remembered that they were just as realistic and far less cute than the one he had made.
Adrien shook his head to clear the thought.
He detransformed and slipped the mouse in his pocket in case he ran into Nathalie or his bodyguard and then made his way through the house.
He knelt down in front of the door to his father’s bedroom and he pressed his ear to the door. Nothing. Good.
He looked at the mouse in his hand and gave it a smile. Adrien set the mouse down and watched it struggle to squeeze under the door.
Adrien worried his lip anxiously as he waited. He knew that his father was a light sleeper. There was no way that he could get away with taking the butterfly miraculous off of him directly, but that didn’t mean that he couldn’t get other things from his father’s room…
He smiled as the mouse slipped back under the door, key clutched in its teeth. He smiled and rubbed the tiny mouse’s head with his thumb. He picked the mouse back up and set it in his pocket, then pulled something out of the other side.
He made an imprint of the key, just in case, and set it back in his pocket.
Last things last, he made his way through the house, a new direction this time. Up some stairs, down a hall, take a left then a right, walk to the end of the hall… and you get to The Door.
It had been locked since his mother died. Adrien had sometimes tried the knob out of curiosity, but it was always locked. Untouched. Memories too painful for either of the remaining Agrestes to really try and go inside and face…
Until today. Adrien ran his thumb over the cold metal of the key. It should have felt heavier than it did, he thought. He twirled it in deft fingers and then inserted it into the lock. Twist, click, breathe…
He felt a weight settle on his shoulder and turned his head slightly to see Plagg sitting there. He smiled faintly at the familiar weight and allowed the kwami to nuzzle his cheek.
“Thanks, Plagg,” he murmured.
Plagg patted his shoulder.
Adrien took another deep breath and shouldered the door open.
Dust billowed out and he fought the urge to cough, knowing the sound would echo and possibly draw attention. He brought his shirt up to cover his nose and ducked back, waiting for the dust to settle (literally) before making his way into the room. His feet made tracks on the floor but that was fine, no one would be coming here for a long while…
Except for those Adrien wanted to come. He looked around the room, eyeing portraits covered in sheets and boxes of photo albums.
XD I know, right? They're just so precious. I love how sweet their friendship is.
Nino is seriously best boy. I mean, how many people get akumatized because they're upset on someone else's behalf? He is part of a rare class of individuals who truly value others and put their loved ones before themselves.
I would love if we could get some more canon Adrino content this season. I really need to see Adrien and Nino being bros. It gives me life. XD