Continuing Tales

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A Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir Story
by DarkReyna16

Part 9 of 37

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A week blurred by, with a new routine for Marinette set in place: get up early, go jogging (while being accompanied more often than not by a certain model), stop by her parents’ bakery for breakfast, shake said model to go home and shower, go to class, come back home, sketch out new designs while starting to sew previously created ones, and save Paris from akuma attacks, all while keeping a rogue cat man and the ignorant masses of his followers calling for the slaughter of akuma victims at bay. It was a shock to Marinette’s system when she awoke one Friday morning to find snow falling from the sky.

Ugh. Winter was coming.

Groaning, Marinette buried herself back into the blankets. She didn’t like being cold before she became Ladybug, but ever since receiving the Ladybug Miraculous, winters had sucked for her; she became so sluggish, and she only wanted to sleep all the time. Like a beetle wanting to hibernate for the winter.

This she blamed on Tikki, who yawned widely beside her, just as content to lay in bed as she was, instead of reminding Marinette that she had adult stuff to do.

Marinette grumbled and reset her alarm to wake her before class.

Fuck running in this weather. Even if she tried, there was a good chance she would just turn around and go back, burrowing into her blankets so far that it would take some effort to extract her.

The day passed in a haze, and before she knew it, Marinette was back in her room, dozing at her work desk. She had four out of the five spring ensembles required for her senior project sketched out, and was reasonably pleased with her work so far. It was only the peacock design that was still giving her trouble, and she couldn’t quite focus, the chill she was forced to bear all day catching up to her, though her room was nice and warm…very cozy…

Marinette jolted awake when her phone began to ring shrilly. A piece of sketch paper was stuck to the side of her face, and Marinette pulled it away, smacking her lips and making a face at the drool that had pooled on one of her sketches. Great, now she would have to redo it…

Yawning, she silenced her phone at last, lifting it to her ear without checking the caller ID, because she already knew who it was.


“Ah-ha! Napping when you should be heading over to Francoise’s, huh? Do I have to come over there and get you, Marinette?”

“Nooo,” Marinette yawned, rubbing at her face with the heel of her palm. “I’m up, I’m up.”

“Good, then hurry up and get your butt over here!” Alya demanded. “Nino has some big thing to tell us, but he’s not spilling until you get here!”

“My lips are sealed!” Nino called in the background, followed by a grunt. Marinette was willing to bet that he had been elbowed in the gut by Alya.

“So hurry up and get here, girl, or I may have to resort to torturing Nino to get this information out of him!”

Nino gave a theatrical gulp. “Hurry, Marinette! My life is at stake!”

“Oh my god, you two are ridiculous,” Marinette laughed, pushing herself to her feet. “I’m coming, I’m coming. Don’t do anything drastic, Alya.”

“No promises!” Alya called before hanging up. Giggling to herself, Marinette headed to her bathroom to wash up real fast before she dared to venture out again.

The snow was melting as it made contact with the ground, but that didn’t seem to deter the sky—it kept sending the white fluff down to the earth, determined to cover it, though the ground was too warm for the snow to stick. Marinette frowned around the muffler wrapped securely around the lower half of her face, a sleeping Tikki nestled safe and warm within a hidden pocket of the muffler. Marinette would be more disgruntled that it was cold enough to snow, were it not for how pretty it looked. It was truly a catch-22: she hated the weather that caused it, but she wanted to see it, because it was aesthetically pleasing. She just couldn’t win.

Sighing, she got into her car, cranking the heater up as high as it would go, letting the car idle until it was warm enough for her to focus on driving. Any other time, she would just walk to Francoise’s gelato shop—it wasn’t that far away from where she lived—but in this weather, it was out of the question. In fact, gelato itself would be out of the question, were it not for Marinette’s sweet tooth. Hmm…maybe Francoise already had his specialty brownie and ice cream combination ready to sell…

Marinette parked a block from the gelato shop, bundling herself as much as she could in the warmth of her hat, gloves, coat, and muffler before she reluctantly left her heated car, stepping out into the soft chill of snow swirling around her. She was momentarily distracted, watching the flurries dance their way to earth, as if it was a lazy race none of them were in any hurry to complete, just enjoying the descent. She smiled and lifted a hand, wanting to catch a couple and see them melt in the palm of her glove—

Her phone began to ring again, muffled by her coat pocket. Rolling her eyes and smiling, Marinette answered just as she was crossing the street, the gelato shop in view.


“Girl, where are you? Nino’s been teasing about this big news for the last ten minutes, and I’m honestly considering shanking him with a whittled-down spoon.”

“I’m being threatened, Marinette!” Nino called in the background, and Marinette smirked as she approached the window of Francoise’s, spying the two dorks she called best friends across the room, cuddled up as close as ever, no such nonsense about threats present. “Hurry up and mediate like you usually do!”

“Do I have to hurry? It doesn’t really seem like you two need it,” she commented idly, watching as their heads snapped up and spied her through the window. She gave a mocking wave, and Alya’s answering grin was cheeky, Nino’s sheepish.

“What’re you doing standing out in the cold?” Alya challenged, raising a beckoning finger. “I know you hate it out there, so come inside already!”

“I would’ve been inside already, were it not for your impatient phone call,” Marinette teased, sticking out her tongue at Alya simply because she could—her best friend couldn’t reach her out here, unless she decided to don her jacket and give chase.

“Oh, now you’re just being a little sh—whoa,” Alya breathed, her eyes widening as she stared at Marinette. Marinette blinked at the blank look on her best friend’s face, worry beginning to swell within her.

“Alya?” She asked, wondering what was so shocking that Alya had stopped talking.

In response, Alya merely pointed to something over Marinette’s shoulder.

Marinette turned—and nearly suffered through a fatal heart attack.

“Hi,” Adrien greeted, hiding his smirk behind the back of his hand as Marinette fell back against the front window, closing her eyes and attempting to reason her heart back into its normal slow and steady rhythm.

“What the hell, Adrien?!” She spat as soon as she was able, opening her eyes to glare at him. Hastily, she hung up the call with Alya and dropped her phone back into her pocket. “What’re you doing sneaking up on me like that?!”

“Not my fault you didn’t hear me coming,” Adrien replied with a mild shrug…but his eyes were wicked. Marinette scowled at him, annoyed to find how handsome he looked in his black trench coat, that eggshell blue scarf tied securely at the base of his throat. She felt herself flush and hated it—now that Adrien knew the scarf had been a gift from her, it felt like he was wearing it to intentionally embarrass her, and she didn’t appreciate it one bit.

“Where’s your hat?” She asked to distract herself, frowning at his bare, blonde head. “Aren’t your ears cold?”

Adrien brushed his fingertips through the careful swoop of hair that rested against his forehead. Snow was melting in it, dissolving whatever gel he used, and Marinette smirked at the thought of how messy his hair might look in about twenty minutes of exposure to snow.

“Not especially,” he replied with a mild shrug. “Winter doesn’t bother me too much…” He eyed her up and down, his lips twitching. “…Not like it seems to bother you, anyway. Guess that explains why I didn’t see you on my run this morning.”

Was he judging her? Marinette couldn’t be sure. Just to be safe, she frowned at him, lower lip jutting out in a pout.

“I don’t understand how you can run so early in the morning when it’s this cold out,” she said, shaking her head at the madness that was Adrien Agreste. She shivered, as if to protest such lunacy. Adrien’s smile faded.

“Why are you standing out here in the cold, anyway?” He glanced up into the window, inspecting the shop behind Marinette. She didn’t have to look to know when Adrien spotted Nino—his posture became suddenly stiff, eyes widening by a margin. He quickly looked away, back down at Marinette. “Ah. Meeting friends, huh?”

“Yeah…” Marinette trailed off, peering up at Adrien curiously. He had the strangest look on his face; his eyes were tight, jaw locked, looking awfully skittish all of a sudden. He appeared to realize it, however, and dropped his gaze away from her. This made Marinette ache and frown all at the same time.

“Do you want to join us?” She offered unexpectedly, taking both Adrien and herself by surprise. The model blinked at her, as if she had suddenly used a dialect of Chinese he wasn’t familiar with, which was impossible. Clearing his throat, he gave her an awkward smile that didn’t reach his eyes.

“I don’t, uh, think I’ll be very welcome.”

Marinette shrugged.

“You’ll never know unless you try, right?” She asked, turning to head into the shop. Adrien gave her pause when he put his hand on her shoulder.

“Marinette, really,” he began, looking more uncomfortable than Marinette had ever seen him. “I’d rather you didn’t, I—”


Adrien and Marinette jumped, turning and finding Nino suddenly there. His hands were buried in his heavy duty dark green coat, golden eyes focused and frowning at Adrien. Alya lurked behind him, looking worried.

“Is he bothering you, ‘Nette?” Nino asked, though his eyes didn’t leave Adrien. Marinette felt his hand slide from her shoulder.

“I’m fine, Nino,” she assured him, splaying her hands in a peace-making gesture. “Everything’s fine. Adrien and I were just…catching up.”

She glanced over at Adrien, but he had become rigid again, eyes dull as he regarded Nino. She shifted, stepping on his foot, drawing his eyes to her.

“Say something,” she mouthed to him, gesturing to Nino with a glance. Adrien’s jaw locked…and then unhinged.

“Nino,” he greeted, and there was a definite coolness to his voice that Marinette had never heard him use with Nino before. Nino seemed to register the tone, and his normally friendly golden eyes narrowed.

“Why are you bothering Marinette?” He demanded to know suddenly. Alya cringed, and Marinette bit her lip.

“I just said—”

“I’m not bothering her,” Adrien interrupted Marinette’s defense of him, frowning. “We were just having a conversation. No need to come out here and snap at me like you’re her guard dog.”

“Adrien!” Marinette sputtered, but Nino sneered, hackles rising.

“So what if I’m protective? I’m her friend. And if I feel like my friend is hanging around guys she shouldn’t be hanging around with, I’m gonna say something about it.”

“Marinette isn’t your responsibility. She’s a grown woman. Friend or not, you don’t really have a say in who she hangs around with.”

“How would you know, considering you don’t have any friends for a basis?”

“Nino!” Alya yelped, stunned. But the men had only eyes for each other, their stances steadily becoming more and more aggressive as they hurled abuse at each other.

“The fact that you assume I don’t have friends just because we stopped talking only tells me that you’ve gotten so full of yourself that it’s unreal.”

“And the fact that you’re so arrogant to think that I’d even want to be friends with you anymore shows me that you just grew up to become your father!

The world was suddenly immobile. Marinette didn’t need the sudden quiet and stillness, or the look that froze on Adrien’s face, to know that Nino had crossed a line.

He seemed to realize it, too—he flinched as the words seemed to register in his mind, looking contrite. But that was quickly replaced by alarm when Adrien suddenly lunged forward. Marinette reacted instinctively, stepping into Adrien and blocking him with her shoulder. He was tall, but she was strong, and for a moment, the two opposing forces struggled, Marinette grunting with the effort, Adrien snarling in rage.

“Adrien, stop!” Marinette commanded, pushing her hands against his abdomen and making him rock back on his heels. The terrifying snarling from his throat abruptly stopped, and he wheeled on his heel, stalking off in the other direction. With a disappointed glance at Nino, Marinette followed, waiting until she got close enough to grab the back of his coat.

“Adrien, wai—”

Leave me alone,” Adrien hissed, wheeling on Marinette and baring his teeth at her. Marinette retreated a hasty step back, staring at his eyes. She couldn’t be seeing them correctly, but…they looked narrow, like—

He blinked, and they were abruptly normal again. The motion seemed to take all the fight out of him; his shoulders slumped in defeat and he turned away from her.

“I’m sorry,” he muttered, and Marinette’s heart gave a painful throb at the strain in his voice. “Please, just…just leave me alone, Marinette.”

“…All right,” she reluctantly conceded. She reached out once more, however, laying a hand on his arm. Adrien twitched at the contact. “But…if you need someone to talk to, I’m here, okay?”

As a matter of fact…

Marinette fished out her phone from her pocket, biting her lip. Adrien might not be in the mood to indulge her…but she really wouldn’t know until she tried, would she?

“Want to exchange numbers?” She offered, hesitating a little. “I mean, if you don’t want to, that’s fine…but I figured it might be smarter, since we sometimes meet up for morning runs and stuff…that way, if I end up deciding not to leave my bed, I can just text you and say it’s too cold, or, you know, whatever.”

Adrien stood still for a very long moment. Marinette let her hand slide away from him, about to let it drop, but then he moved, reaching into his pocket. He pulled out his phone, unlocked the screen, and handed it to her without looking at her. Her heart beating a little more slowly now, Marinette placed her unlocked phone in his awaiting palm, and they spent a couple silent minutes inputting their information into each other’s phones.

Adrien’s contacts were divided into two sections: “Work” and “Friends”. Marinette had a debate with herself over which list she should add her contact information to—while this wasn’t an exchange for work purposes, she wasn’t so arrogant as to add her information to the “Friends” list. But the “Work” list was really full…and only Chloe’s number was on the “Friends” list, which was really, really sad…but Marinette didn’t really want to be on the same list as Chloe Bourgeois…

Sighing to herself, she just added her info to the “Work” list to be done with it, handing Adrien his phone back just as he slipped hers back into her palm.

“Thanks,” Marinette breathed, sliding her phone back into her pocket and smiling tentatively at Adrien’s profile. His eyes were far away, staring through the snow at something she couldn’t see… “Um…you can feel free to text me for things other than jogging, okay? Like I said…if you need someone, I’m here.”

Adrien bobbed his blonde head, not looking at her for a moment…but then he glanced at her from his peripheral vision, an almost-smile tugging at the corner of his lips.

“…Thank you, Mari,” he mumbled, barely audible above the whistle of the wind. Marinette shivered, folding her arms around herself.

“No problem,” she replied with a smile. Adrien sobered, and he glanced away from her.

“You’d better head back inside. It’s cold out here.” Raising a hand in farewell, he crossed the street, walking tall, his hands in his pockets. Such a confident stride…Marinette wondered if it was just habit for him to just walk around like he owned the world by now.

Shaking her head, she turned on her heel, returning to the gelato shop and ducking into the gracious warmth with a sigh of relief.

Nino and Alya were at the table she’d seen them occupying earlier. Nino was slumped over the table, his arms folded under him, and Alya had an arm around his shoulders, muttering to him. They both looked up as Marinette approached, and Nino cringed when she put her hands on her hips and scowled at him.

“I know, I fucked up,” he sighed, running a hand over his face and temporarily dislodging his glasses. “I shouldn't have said the thing about his dad.”

“No, you shouldn’t have,” Marinette agreed, removing her gloves, muffler, and hat. “He was really upset.”

“I’ll say,” Alya chimed in, raising her eyebrows. “Did you see his eyes? Scariest thing I’ve ever seen—I swear, his pupils narrowed into, like, slits. Like a…a snake’s. It was freaky.”

So Alya had seen that, too? Marinette checked her earlier assumption that she had imagined the look…though ‘snake’ wasn’t the animal she immediately thought of when it came to Adrien’s narrowed pupils…but perhaps ‘snake’ made more sense.

“I was just mad,” Nino defended himself, his forehead flopping down onto his crossed arms. “Haven’t seen the dude in years, and that’s how he greets me?”

“He was probably feeling awkward,” Alya reasoned wisely.

“You didn’t really help when you accused him of bothering me,” Marinette pointed out as she sat down across from her friends, a frown on her face. Nino gave a sigh that sounded like it was pulled from some deep part of him.

“Well, from where I was sitting…” He trailed off, propping his head up with a hand. “Nah, you know what? I’m not even gonna try and make an excuse. I wanted a reason to fight him, basically. When he saw me sitting in here, he just…looked away. Like I was nothing.

Alya squeezed his shoulder.

“You don’t need him, baby.”

“Yeah, I know.” Nino huffed again, eyes speculative as he took in Marinette. In much the same tone he used the last time he asked the question, he inquired, “…How is he?”

“Like I said: upset.” Marinette sighed and dropped her frown, settling into an anxious sadness now. “That last comment was too much, Nino. I know things between you and Adrien ended badly, but I really think you should apologize.”

“Yeah,” Nino agreed with another sigh and a bob of his head. “I really want to, now…” He cringed. “Think I can get a word in edgewise the next time I see him before he manages to take my head off?”

“Oh, yeah, he looked ready to kill you.” Abruptly, Alya’s shrewd gaze was focused on Marinette. “I’m kind of surprised you were able to keep him at bay, girl. You must be stronger than you look…”


“I just planted my feet really well, I think,” she said with a shrug, and then swiftly changed the subject. “So, are you ever going to tell us this big news, Nino, or does Alya have to stab you with a makeshift shank after all?”

She felt bad throwing Nino to the wolves, but her sympathy was being tempered by her annoyance with him at the moment, so her guilt when Alya immediately rounded on him was minimal.

“Oh, right! What is it? Spit it out already!”

“Okay, okay!” Nino cleared his throat, straightened his glasses, and beamed at them. “Guess whose sick beats just landed him a contract with Bob Ross Records?”

“You’re kidding!” Alya yelped, and then threw her arms around her boyfriend. “Nino, that’s great!

“Congratulations!” said Marinette, beaming at the embarrassed look that crossed Nino’s face as Alya planted a bunch of kisses to his cheek in celebration. “Tell us how it happened!”

“Okay, so I’m mixin’ like usual at Blaze, right?” Nino said, pantomiming said mixing skills in front of him, as if he was currently working at Blaze, the club where he was employed as DJ. “It was standard stuff, but the crowd was bumping, so that’s all that matters. After one of my sets, though, this suit comes up to me, hands me his business card, and talks about how he’d like to hear some more of my stuff. So I send him a CD with my best mixes, and he goes nuts. Last week, I get a call: guess who wants to hire my awesome talent as their next big name? I just went in to sign the contract this morning.”

“And you waited this long to tell me?!” Alya complained, pouting in a mock offended manner. “This is high priority stuff, mister!”

“Really? Even more important than the Ladyblog?”

“Whoa, let’s not get crazy here…”

Marinette giggled, shaking her head at their banter.

“I’m really happy for you, Nino.”

“Thanks,” Nino replied, rubbing the back of his head and grinning. “Oh, and guess what? I’m allowed to hire someone to design my first CD.” He pointed a finger gun at Marinette and winked. “Want some extra cash in your pocket?”

Marinette’s eyes lit up, but she worked to play it cool.

“That depends: how much are we talking?”

Nino tapped his chin in thought.

“I’m thinking about two-fifty euro as the commission charge, and another two-fifty when you’re finished?” He offered.

Marinette felt her jaw drop.

Holy shit…that kind of cash could have her set for a while…but…

“Will the record company be okay with you spending that kind of cash?”

“Yeah, I’m all for feeding our poor Marinette, but don’t write checks you can’t cash, Nino.”

“It’s fine, the company’s giving me a stipend,” Nino said with a wave of his hand. “And I want a quality cover, so I’ve gotta pay the quality price, right?” Marinette flushed at the compliment, and Nino grinned at her. “Whaddya say, ‘Nette? Can I count on you?”

“I think so,” Marinette agreed, grinning a little. “But I’m pretty busy at the moment, Nino—”

“No rush,” Nino assured her with a shrug of his shoulders. “The CD’s not meant to come out until after Christmas, anyway. I just wanted to put this on your radar, get my bid in for a Marinette Dupain-Cheng original cover before you become too famous and forget us little people.”

“I think you’re the one on the fast track to fame, here,” Alya teased, tapping her spoon against the empty ice cream dish in front of her, the contents long since consumed. “A toast, then! To Nino!”

“To me! But, uh, maybe we should have something to toast?”

“Mm, good point. All right, get me and Marinette a couple brownie sundaes, then.”

Nino pouted.

“Why do I have to pay?”

“Because you’re the big shot with the fancy record deal,” Alya teased with a wicked gleam in her eye as she reached across the table, slinging an arm around Marinette’s shoulders. “And me and Mari are poor, me being a journalist intern, Mari being wisely unemployed instead of working for a thieving harpy. Look at us, all pathetic and shit.”

“I’m feeling especially woe-be-gone, because I haven’t had anything sweet in the last twenty-four hours,” Marinette chimed in.  “Pleaaaaase?” She and Alya pleaded together, making their eyes wide and cute. Nino pretended to stagger, raising his hands and groaning in protest.

“Agggh, the cuteness! Can’t resist…! Ugh, all right, fiiine. But just because I’d feel bad about letting you two starve.”

Grabbing his wallet, Nino made his way up to the counter, making sure his walk was as dramatically sluggish as possible, as if Marinette and Alya were already bleeding him dry. Marinette and Alya giggled at his antics.

“Honestly, it’s a good thing I love that boy, or I’d start to wonder why I put up with him.” Alya shook her head good-naturedly. As she looked at Marinette, however, her smile began to fade.

“What did Adrien say to you after you chased after him?” She asked in a low voice. Marinette suddenly understood that Alya had sent Nino to get them more ice cream just so she could have a moment alone with Marinette.

“Not much. Like I said, he was really upset. He wanted to be left alone, so I let him be.”

Marinette chose not to divulge that she had exchanged numbers with him. Alya may be her best friend, but Marinette didn’t like to think what she might do with such information.

Alya frowned, tucking loose hair behind her ears.

“You know, I don’t think he’s over it. What happened with his dad, I mean.”

Marinette frowned at that. “I don’t know…it might have just been the moment. Nino really got under his skin. And I’m pretty sure he saw a therapist when he was younger about all this stuff.”

“Well, only the man himself knows that for sure.” Alya folded her hands under her chin, regarding Marinette in quiet concern. “Just…be careful around him, okay? He looked like he was ready to tear Nino’s throat out…and I shudder to think what he might do with a little thing like you.”

Marinette was about to point out that Alya had seen with her own eyes that Marinette was not quite that vulnerable…but then she thought better of it when she remembered the whole other can of worms the words could force open.

“I promise to be careful,” she said to put Alya’s mind at ease. Her promise was rewarded with an approving nod from her best friend.

“Good. But if you do manage to get in trouble with him…” Alya’s grin abruptly turned dangerous. “I’ve got good friends at the police department that would be willing to make some evidence “disappear”, if you know what I’m sayin’.”

“What’re you two talking about?” Nino asked, giving the girls strange looks as he set down warm brownie sundaes before them. Marinette immediately dug into hers, savoring the taste of melting chocolate and vanilla ice cream while mumbling her thanks to Nino.

“Oh, y’know—murder. The usual,” Alya said with a wink. Nino paused, and then carefully resumed his seat next to his girlfriend.

“I don’t wanna know,” he prefaced, and Marinette and Alya grinned at each other.



It so figured that the one night Marinette was able to go to bed at a reasonable hour would be the night that her phone rang shrilly at half past midnight, demanding her attention.

If this was Alya calling her over something asinine, Marinette was going to kill her.

Groaning, Marinette kept her face buried in her pillow as she slapped at her nightstand, locating her phone after the fourth slap. She dragged it off the nightstand, turning to peer at it with a bleary eye.

Adrien’s name was flashing across the screen.

Frowning in confusion, Marinette sat up, clearing her throat before she hit the answer button.


“Yo,” said an unfamiliar voice from the other line, “this, uh, Marinette Dupain-Cheng?”

A thief?’ Marinette wondered, her brow furrowing in the dark.

“Who wants to know?” She wanted to check. The voice on the other end of the line chuckled.

“Whoa, all right girl, damn. No need to get sassy. I’m just calling to ask you to pick up your friend. Dude’s messed up bad.”

A chill ghosted down Marinette’s spine, and she was gripping the phone hard, all sleepiness vanishing on the spot.

“What do you mean, ‘messed up’?”

“I mean he’s fucked up,” said the voice with a sigh. “Everyone was just trying to have a good time, but outta nowhere, he and this big asshole get into an argument at the bar, and suddenly, I’m having to pull him off of the big guy. Your friend got away with a black eye and a busted lip at most, I think, but the other guy…” The voice on the phone let out a low whistle. “Anyway, I’d call him a cab, but he’s refusing to tell anyone where he lives. I managed to get his phone, though, and you and one other chick were in his “Friends” contact list. But she didn’t pick up, so I guess he’s your responsibility now.”

Marinette stared at her pink, flower-patterned blanket for a moment.

She could have sworn she added her contact information to his “Work” contact list…

“I’ll be right there,” she said with a sigh, kicking off the blanket and searching for the sweater and jeans she had discarded earlier. “Can you give me the address?”

Twenty minutes later, Marinette was pulling into the parking lot of a seedy-looking bar. Just the sight of it made her wish she had brought Tikki along; she didn’t feel very safe being just Marinette here. But as she got out of the car, she spotted Adrien slumped on the curb nearby, an unfamiliar man sitting next to him. He glanced up as Marinette approached and got to his feet with a grunt of effort.

“Marinette Dupain-Cheng?”

“That’s me,” Marinette confirmed, glancing down at Adrien, who was refusing to look at her. The man in front of her shrugged.

“Figured it wasn’t safe to let him sit out here on his own. He looks, uh, a little too ritzy for this part of town, y’know?”

Marinette nodded, appreciating this. Adrien had just been in a fight; he didn’t need to add “getting mugged” to his already crappy night.

“Have the police been called?”

“Uh-uh. Shit like this happens all the time here: if you don’t wanna get wrecked, you gotta get good.”

“Is there a tab I need to settle?”

“Nah. Apparently dude’s got a card on record. It’ll just be automatically charged.” He cupped a hand around his mouth, lowering his voice. “Watch it—guy’s got some major rage issues to work out.”

“I can hear you,” Adrien finally spoke with an annoyed glance at the strange man. He gave a shrug.

“Whatever, man, I don’t know your life. I can only call it like I see it.” With another shrug and a nod to Marinette, the man disappeared back inside the bar. Marinette gave a sigh, peering down at the mess that was Adrien Agreste. At this angle, she couldn’t really see the damage, and so she crouched down, peering into his face. Adrien looked away from her, but Marinette could see the swelling of his eye and lip. Both looked pretty bad, but the man had glossed over them, stating that the other guy had been in worse shape. Marinette resisted the urge to cluck her tongue in disapproval. How on earth had Adrien Agreste managed to find himself in a fight?

“Can you stand?” She asked after a quiet moment. Adrien glanced over at her with his good eye.

“…You didn’t have to come,” he grumbled. Marinette had to restrain herself from giving him a dry look. ‘You’re welcome,’ she wanted to say…but now was probably not the time to antagonize him.

“I know,” she said instead, hands on her knees as she peered at him, worry beginning to take precedence. “Can you stand, Adrien?”

Adrien huffed, his shoulders slumping in defeat.

“…Yeah,” he affirmed after a moment, and Marinette watched him stretch to his full height—well, nearly his full height. His shoulders were rounded, making him appear hunched and shorter than he actually was, and he swayed, but only a little. Marinette resolved to watch for ginger movements; it could mean bruises to his abdomen, or worse, broken ribs. Again, how did this happen? She had no earthly clue.

“Did you drive here?” Marinette asked, standing up as well. Adrien shook his head. Well, at least she didn’t have to worry about leaving his car here, then…

“Come on,” she urged him, ducking under one of his arms to support him when he leaned a little too far to one side. “I’ll drive you home.”

“You don’t have to,” Adrien grumbled, and Marinette sighed.

“I know,” she repeated, nearly half-dragging him to her car, opening the passenger door for him. “Get in the car, Adrien.”

Adrien grumbled something unintelligible under his breath, but did as he was asked, sliding carefully into the passenger seat. Marinette shut the door on him and crossed over to the driver’s side, strapping herself in and coercing him to do the same.

“Let me know if you’re gonna throw up,” she told him, and a second later, they were pulling away from the sketchy-looking bar and heading uptown.

It was a quiet ride. Adrien seemed to have nothing to say, and Marinette didn’t bother filling the space with meaningless conversation. Concern and exasperation were twisting together within her, filling her with a strange, erratic tension. Questions chased each other in her mind, each one latching onto the tail of the preceding one, writhing in circles, an ouroboros of queries:

What was Adrien doing in such a seedy bar in the first place? Why would he go to such a place as opposed to the less rough-and-tumble bars uptown? Why had he gotten into a fight with someone bigger than him that could’ve pulverized him? How did he come out the victor of that fight when he clearly didn’t eat enough to pull off such a stunt? What in the world was going on in that head of his?

Marinette glanced over at him repeatedly from the corner of her eye as she drove, but Adrien just slumped against the seat, glassy eyes on the window.

When his home came into view, Marinette parked against the curb. She had just a second’s warning, as she rounded the front of her car, to see Adrien step out…and then pitch forward.

“Whoa!” She managed to catch him, hands supporting his waist as he wobbled. “Are you—”


Adrien’s face turned a sickly shade of green, and Marinette dived out of the way, her self-preservation skills kicking in hard. Adrien fell forward onto his hands and knees, vomit spraying the road underneath him. He heaved a second time, and more came up, as if he was determined to empty the complete contents of his stomach. Marinette cringed, a hand covering her mouth.

Ugh. If there were any lingering feelings within her over this mess of a human being, this sight ought to send them screaming for the hills.

“Oh, Adrien,” she sighed, taking his arm and helping him unsteadily to his feet once again. “Can you walk?”

Adrien nodded. Nevertheless, Marinette kept a careful grip on his arm as they headed up the walkway to his house, trying not to wrinkle her nose at the sour tang of vomit that now hovered over him.

Getting the door open was a bit of a struggle—Adrien seemed to have trouble getting his key into the lock, and so Marinette had to help him while supporting him, the whole process taking a lot longer than it should have. When they did finally stumble through the threshold, Adrien looked ready to pass out, and so Marinette steered him to the nearest bathroom she could find, which was about halfway down the hall into the foyer.

Adrien’s home was beautifully decorated, retaining much of the beauty of his childhood home…but there was something about the air that was a little colder than the Agreste Mansion. Marinette didn’t have time to ponder on it, however—she carefully lowered Adrien onto the floor of the bathroom, resting his back against the tub. She grabbed a hand towel from an awaiting rack and wet it with cold water, pressing it to his face to wipe the sweat and vomit from him.

“Are you gonna pass out?” She asked him, giving him an anxious look as she rinsed off the towel and pressed it to his neck next. Adrien shook his head, his nonverbal response concerning her. “Are you sure?”

“M’fine,” Adrien grumbled, reaching up to push damp hair out of his face. He glanced down at himself, making a face at the stained coat and shirt he wore. “I’m gonna go change—”

“I can get a new shirt for you,” Marinette insisted, firm hands holding his shoulders down. “Where’s your bedroom?”

Adrien shut his eyes, frowning.

“Upstairs,” he said after a moment. “First door on the right.”

“Got it.”

Well, if he’s coherent enough to give directions, I guess it won’t be too bad to leave him alone for a few seconds…’ Marinette reasoned with herself as she left the bathroom, still marveling at the fact that she was on drunk babysitting duty for Adrien Agreste. She still hurried as she climbed the stairs two at a time, heading into his bedroom. She had never been in here before…but the memory of the last time she had seen it had Marinette searching for the closet quickly, spying two large doors to the left of her that looked promising. She opened them up to find…another bathroom. Great.

There were cabinets in this bathroom, though. Marinette moved forward, ignoring the large and gorgeous tub sunken in the middle of the bathroom, opening the cabinets at random until she found what she was looking for—a drawer full of T-shirts that would work just fine. She selected a black one and shut the drawer, inwardly reflecting on how ironic it was for Adrien to have all these shirts, and yet she’d seen him shirtless twice now. It was ridiculous.

“Adrien,” she called as she jumped the last few stairs, heading back to the bathroom she’d left him in. Her fingertips slid over the knob as she called, “I have another shirt for—”

She opened the door a crack—only to have the sound of the shower starting greeting her. With a yelp, Marinette slammed it shut again, gawking at the door. What was he doing?!

“Adrien?! I really don’t think it’s a good idea for you to shower when you can’t even stand up by yourself!” She called over the sound of running water, her teeth worrying her lip as she stared at the door. What if something happened? What if he slipped and hit his head, knocking him unconscious, and his body blocked the drain, which made the water from the shower fill the tub, and he drowned while she was standing just outside the door?!

“I’m fine, Marinette,” Adrien’s voice answered, a bite of impatience in his tone. “I’ll be quick. I just don’t want to smell like puke for the rest of the night.”


“Just leave the shirt on the counter,” Adrien commanded, and Marinette frowned. She still thought this was a bad idea…but as long as she stayed nearby, she’d hear if any commotion went down, right? Taking a deep breath, she took hold of the doorknob once again. Okay…she could do this…

“All right. I’m coming in.”

Marinette carefully eased the door open, squinting her eyes shut to prevent her from seeing anything she shouldn’t see. The curtain was drawn around the tub, hiding Adrien from view, and she breathed a little easier, setting the neatly folded shirt down onto the counter for him. She made a face at the clothes strewn about on the floor, biting her lip again.

“Uh…do you want me to do something with your clothes on the floor?”

There was a sigh, and the curtain twitched.

“I’ll take care of it, Mari. You don’t have to pick up after me.”

That was true—she wasn’t the maid. Just a concerned…friend? Could she call him that yet? Sure, she had said as much to Chat Noir when talking about Adrien, but that was so the stupid stray would get off her back. As things stood now, could she really consider Adrien Agreste a friend…?

“I’m gonna get some ice ready for your eye,” Marinette announced, backing out of the bathroom now. There was another sigh from behind the curtain.


“Meet me in the living room when you’re done,” Marinette talked over his complaint, shutting the door so he couldn’t say any more on the subject…not where she could hear, anyway. A part of her panicked at leaving him to his own devices, but he said he’d be quick—if he wasn’t done in ten minutes, she’d just go get him.

Trying to assure herself with that thought, Marinette set about exploring the rest of his home.

The living room was sumptuously decorated in plush, dark furniture, the thick carpet shaded in ochre. Large, golden, luxurious curtains framed even larger windows, which had a gorgeous view of the garden out front. It looked as if the living room had been decorated with an Egyptian prince in mind. Idly, Marinette wondered if Adrien had selected everything himself before she remembered her current mission was ice. Shaking her head at herself, she moved on through the living room, in the direction she hoped was the kitchen.

Nope. Dining room. But she was getting closer.

Marinette eyed the dark dining room for a moment, the large table surrounded by six hard-backed chairs catching her attention. It was a bit too big for someone who lived here alone, wasn’t it…?

Maybe he has a lot of dinner parties here with a bunch of important work people,’ Marinette reasoned, shrugging and heading on to—ah-ha, the kitchen at last. It was as industrial as she was expecting, everything done in stainless steel and dark granite. Marinette glanced at the high-tech appliances with a raised eyebrow. Surely Adrien wasn’t that accomplished of a chef? Maybe he had someone come during the day and make meals for him…when he wasn’t running around being Mr. Model/CEO of his own company, anyway…

Marinette moved over to the refrigerator—holy crap, it was so much bigger than her, was having such a large fridge even necessary?—and pulled open the freezer. To her surprise, there were a stack of ice packs just inside a shelf on the door. Huh. And here she was, certain that she’d have to MacGyver one out of whatever materials she could find…


Marinette jumped at the voice that called out to her. Wow, he had been quick.

“Coming!” She answered, hastily grabbing one of the ice packs, finding it already full and ready to go. How convenient.

Rushing out of the kitchen and through the dining room, Marinette reentered the living room and found Adrien perched on the end of one of the lounge couches. He was dressed in the T-shirt Marinette had retrieved for him, and the jeans he’d been wearing earlier; they were miraculously vomit-free. A towel was slung around his neck, and though his hair dripped onto it, it was still styled perfectly. That kind of annoyed Marinette, but she kept the urge to ruffle his hair out of spite at bay.

The living room was dark; Adrien probably left it so because the light would irritate his eyes. He simply stared at the floor as she approached, using the light from the hall as a guide, ice pack in hand.

“Here,” she said, reaching out automatically to lift his chin. He didn’t resist her touch, and she cringed at the sight of his eye, which was beginning to turn purple.

“Oh, Adrien,” she sighed again, pressing the ice pack as gently as she could to his swollen eye. Adrien winced, but made no noise of complaint. His lip looked like it needed attention, too. She really should’ve grabbed two ice packs instead of one. “What happened to you?”

Adrien managed a shrug, his good eye glancing away from her.

“It’s not a big deal. Things just got a little out of hand. Guess I drank too much to realize what I was doing.”

Marinette frowned.

“You seem perfectly coherent right now.”

Adrien shrugged again.

“Got most of the alcohol out of my system at this point, I think. The shower helped.”

Marinette sighed and shook her head.

“Never would’ve taken you for a fighter,” she admitted, disapproval coloring her tone. “The guy who called me to come pick you up said he had to pull you off some guy.”

“I was drunk,” Adrien reminded her, not meeting her eyes. Marinette felt her brows furrow deeper.

“Somehow, I don’t think that’s the only thing going on here,” she said. She removed the ice pack from Adrien’s face for a moment, just to peer into his eyes, though his bruised one was swelling shut. “What happened earlier really upset you, didn’t it? With Nino.”

Adrien flinched at the name, and looked away from her.

“I’m over it.”

“Really? Starting fights in shady bars is what you call ‘over it’?”

“Butt out, Marinette,” Adrien grumbled, pulling his chin out of her grasp with a scowl. “You’re not my mother.”

“No, but I am worried.”

“Why should you be?”

“Because the way you dealt with your anger tonight wasn’t healthy!” Marinette huffed, resting her free hand on her hip. “You can’t just go starting fights with strangers—you’ll get yourself killed!”

“I doubt it,” Adrien replied in what was unmistakably an obstinate tone. Marinette had to restrain herself from hitting him over the head in frustration.

“Adrien,” she began lowly, waiting until he looked at her. “I think you need help.”

Adrien scowled, his eyes tightening.

“I’m f—” He broke off in a hiss when Marinette pressed the ice pack to his swollen eye once again. She raised an eyebrow.

“Really? Because that’s not the case from where I’m standing.”

Adrien said nothing. Marinette let him be for a moment, marshalling her thoughts. She didn’t want to set him off further…but this had to be addressed, didn’t it? She couldn’t very well just stand by and let him punch his feelings out on other people, could she?

“…You’re not your father, Adrien.”

He hunched, as if he wished to make himself smaller again.

“I know.” The words were halfway between a growl of frustration and a sigh of defeat. Marinette cautiously proceeded.

“…But you seem to worry about becoming him,” she said gently, her free hand lifting Adrien’s chin when he lowered it, to keep the ice pack in its proper place. “I can’t say I know how…complicated…your relationship with him was…but I thought you already saw someone about this?”

If this was just a slip, Marinette wasn’t judging him. Getting over who his father was and what he had done…it couldn’t be easy. But it felt like it went so much deeper than that, so deep that Marinette was worried about Adrien’s well-being. How okay could he be if he was starting bar brawls with random strangers?

Adrien gave a grunt as Marinette shifted the ice pack on his face.

“Who said I already saw someone about it?” He mumbled, seemingly to himself.

Marinette opened her mouth to retort—and then shut it just as quickly. Because he raised a very good point—who said he had actually gotten help for this years ago? That’s what he told Ladybug, sure…but as much as Marinette didn’t want to consider it, he could have been lying. Either way, she couldn’t call him on it, since it was information she wasn’t supposed to have.

Marinette moved the ice pack again to pierce him with a serious look.

“I think it’s time you went to see somebody, then.” She said. “You’re clearly not dealing with it on your own very well.”

Adrien frowned.

“It’s not a big deal,” he tried to insist again, despite Marinette rolling her eyes. “As soon as the swelling goes down, make up will cover the rest of the bruising. It’s not like I have to stop working or anything—”

“I’m not talking about your job, Mr. Model,” Marinette huffed at him, “I don’t care about that. What I do care about is the fact that you got hurt in a fight that shouldn’t have even happened. Did that guy you beat up even provoke you at all?”

Adrien’s brow puckered at that, lips pursing in thought.

“He…may have looked at me funny.”

“He may have?”

“It’s kind of blurry now, honestly.”

Marinette stared at Adrien for so long that he had to be the one to glance away first, his expression warping into sheepishness.

“…I suppose I could’ve left it alone,” he admitted after a quiet moment. Annoyed, Marinette shook her head at him.

“Adrien, this is not okay. Seriously, I’m worried about you.”

Adrien stared up at her as she shifted the ice pack briefly to rest where his lip was swelling. Though his left eye was nothing but a puffy slit now, he still managed to pin her with a gaze so intense that she could almost feel its weight settle onto her shoulders. After a moment, his lips parted.


The question was honestly curious…with a little bit of wonder mixed in. Marinette stared down at him, blinking perplexed eyes. ‘Why?’ Did he really have to ask?

Apparently so—the incomprehension in his expression made it clear that he could not fathom her reasons for caring. And that reaction caused a small fissure to crack its way through Marinette’s heart. Suddenly she had her answer on the 'friends or not' debate.

She did hit him this time: the palm of her free hand smacked into the crown of his head lightly. Despite the love tap, he still winced. Marinette smiled apologetically.

“Because we’re friends, you dork,” she told him, the words confident and strong. “That’s enough of a reason, isn’t it?”

The look of wonder, just a spark before in Adrien’s eyes, evolved into something much stronger: an explosion of awe. Adrien’s mouth actually popped open, his face turning rosy. It was as if Marinette had just given him the moon on a string, and he was rendered speechless in gratitude.

Marinette hated herself for blushing, and in her annoyance, she poked one of his blushing cheeks to get rid of that not adorable at all look on his face.

“What? This really isn’t a surprise to you, is it? Why else would I put up with you?” She teased him.

Slowly, a corner of Adrien’s mouth quirked up.

“…Does this mean I’m forgiven for being rude to you during our first fashion meeting?” He wanted to check. Abruptly, Marinette was struck with the realization that her anger at him was still bothering him. Wow, he really had taken her seriously, hadn’t he…?

“I think so,” Marinette allowed, rewarded briefly with a grin that flashed across Adrien’s face before she held up a finger. “On one condition.”

“Uh-oh,” Adrien mumbled, his grin fading. “It’s not a lifetime of servitude, is it?”

“You wish you were so lucky,” Marinette couldn’t help but tease him. But soon, her smirk disappeared as well. “Ultimately, this is your decision, Adrien. And I have no right to police you or tell you what to do. But what I do want is for you at least try therapy. I want you to have a safe space, and have someone to talk to about your problems.”

Adrien nearly pouted.

“Why can’t I just talk to you?” He asked. Marinette smiled a little at that.

“While I appreciate the faith you’re putting in me…I think this goes beyond my pay grade,” she stated. “I’m only a fashion designer, after all.”

“You’re a great fashion designer,” Adrien corrected her, and Marinette’s smile returned.

“Well, thank you. But don’t change the subject: I think it would help for you to see a therapist. And I know a good one…if you’re willing to at least give it a shot.”

She shrugged, the movement at odds with the concentrated way she watched his face, taking in every little change in his expression.

“Will you give it a chance? In the name of our friendship?”

Adrien regarded her steadily, blinking slowly.

“…This is blackmail, isn’t it?”

Marinette smiled in a guilty fashion.

“Think of it more like a strong suggestion,” she encouraged. Adrien chuckled, and Marinette waited, holding her breath.

“…Okay,” Adrien said after a long silence. As relief washed through Marinette, he smiled. “I only have to agree to try, right?”

“That’s all I want,” Marinette assured him with a nod. “If it’s not for you, I’ll leave it alone.” Her brow furrowed. “But I’d really feel better if you talked to someone, instead of carrying all your problems on your own.”

“Keep in mind that I have to pay this person to listen to me complain,” Adrien reminded her, taking the ice pack from her and holding it to his own eye now. Marinette shrugged with a smile.

“While the money does help, I doubt he’d mind listening to you complain even off the clock.”

Adrien began to frown.

“And who is this therapist you’re so gung-ho about?”

Marinette gave a mysterious smile.

“If I can manage to get you an appointment this week, you’ll find out,” she promised.



“You didn’t say it’d be today.

“He was available faster than I was expecting.”

“But did you have to make it for today?

Marinette turned, hands on her hips as she frowned up at him. Adrien eyed her expression through his sunglasses warily, wondering if she was about to snap at him. He really didn’t need to be fussed at today—his head was pounding, his swollen eye ached, and Marinette’s fireball energy wasn’t going to help matters much.

Almost as if she knew he was suffering, she huffed, her expression softening.

“You said you’d give this a chance,” she reminded him. Adrien frowned from behind his sunglasses.

“And I’m still willing. Just not when I’m hungover,” he grumbled.

“You’ll live,” Marinette insisted, taking hold of his wrist and dragging him into the building. “Come on.”

Adrien sighed, staring at the back of Marinette’s pink snow hat as she marched ahead of him. She was rather pushy when she wanted to be, hmm? Of course, he’d learned that the hard way several times over already, but it still managed to astound him, sometimes. She was nothing like the girl he’d known back at Dupont, save for her seemingly limitless kindness. That Marinette had been shy and soft-spoken around him, nothing like the spitfire that marched him into the building now, approaching the secretary in the lobby immediately, all confidence in her strut.

Adrien had to admit that, for reasons he didn’t quite comprehend, he was a little fonder of this Marinette.

“Hi, we’re here to see Dr. Bruel? Dupain-Cheng, nine o’ clock appointment.”

The secretary asked them to wait on the couch. As they sat, Adrien frowned, trying to stir his sluggish brain into action. Bruel…he knew that name…

His mind was refusing to cooperate, sadly. But when he asked Marinette, all she did was smile that mysterious little smile from the night before. It kind of felt like Adrien was being set up…but for what, he didn’t know. He opened his mouth to ask again, considering walking out if Marinette didn’t give him a proper answer, when the secretary announced that Dr. Bruel was free to see them now.

Again, Marinette took him by the wrist, leading him to the door where Dr. Bruel’s office sat behind. She paused, her hand on the door handle, blue eyes peering up at him in inquiry. Adrien took a deep breath, squared his shoulders, and gave a nod. She smiled encouragingly at him, and then pushed the door open.

The office was pleasantly warm, not stifling like most buildings this time of year. It was the standard psychiatrists’ room, Adrien thought: plaques and diplomas on the wall, a couple of comfortable-looking armchairs, and of course, the obligatory chaise longue. What Adrien didn’t expect was the large figure that got to his feet from behind his large desk, smiling in welcome, the smile just a touch shy. He was dressed professionally in a white button-down shirt and black slacks, his hair combed back and completely dark…save for one small streak of blonde Adrien could just make out.

Adrien could only gape, but Marinette released his wrist and threw her arms around the figure.

“Hi, Ivan! Long time no see!”

He patted Marinette’s back fondly.

“Yeah, no kidding. How’re you, Marinette?”

“I’m good,” Marinette allowed, pulling back to stare up at Ivan, who dwarfed her by an amount so large it was almost comical. “Work is work, school is school, you know? Not that you have to worry about school anymore, Mr. Early Graduate Valedictorian.”

Ivan laughed a little, his cheeks heating.

“It sounds a little embarrassing when you say it like that,” he said. Glancing up, he seemed to take note of Adrien. “But you’re not here for a social call, right?”

“True.” Marinette turned back around, heading back to Adrien and resting a hand on his bicep. “Recognize this guy?”

“Of course.” Ivan approached, his size intimidating to all who didn’t know him. For his part, Adrien was merely bemused as Ivan extended one of his large hands. “Nice to see you again, Adrien.”

“Uh, same,” Adrien replied, shaking hands. “Though I, uh, didn’t realize it was you I’d be seeing…”

He slanted a glance Marinette’s way from behind his sunglasses, and she just smiled again.

“Yeah, I get that a lot. A lot of people from my past are surprised when I tell them I’m a shrink now.”

Adrien’s eyebrows quirked.

“You call yourself a ‘shrink’?”

“Why not?” Ivan allowed with a small smile. “It’s just a word. Nothing to get upset over.”

Huh. Adrien remembered all too clearly a time where Ivan had been vulnerable enough to let such taunting words get under his skin, the words so effective that he had turned to stone and terrorized a bewildered Paris for the first time…

But Adrien didn’t see Stoneheart now.

He saw Ivan Bruel, a former classmate-turned-therapist. Someone who, apparently, wanted to help him.

He wasn’t yet sure how to feel about all this.

Marinette didn’t seem to care about his uneasiness, however; after a second, she ducked around the two men, heading for the door.

“Well, I’m only in the way here. I’ll let you two get reacquainted and…talk.”

Adrien’s eyes widened behind his sunglasses, gaping at her.

She was just leaving him here??

“Marinette—” He began, but Marinette was already in the waiting room, closing the door behind her. She popped her head back in to give him another encouraging smile.

“You’ll be fine,” she promised him. “I’ll see you later!”

And before he could think of anything to say to call her back, Marinette left, the door shutting behind her with a final-sounding ‘click!’

Silence filled the room. Adrien didn’t know what to do with himself, so he merely stood there, arms hanging awkwardly at his sides, feeling very much like a cat trapped in a cage.

He wasn’t sure whether or not Ivan picked up on his tension, but he moved away either way, settling himself into one of the armchairs away from his desk.

“Do you want to sit down?” He offered, waving to the armchair next to him rather than the chaise. A small part of Adrien appreciated that; he was already uncertain about this idea, and lying down on a couch wouldn’t help matters.

Adrien folded himself into the armchair opposite Ivan, taking in the large man before him. Silence settled between them once again.

“…So…is this the part where I spill my guts or something…?” Adrien asked, falling back on humor to mask his discomfort. Ivan smiled a little.

“You can take your time. Marinette booked you for an hour,” he said.

Adrien grimaced.

“And how much am I paying for this hour?”

“Well, Marinette told me you were a little unsure about this,” Ivan said, nodding thoughtfully. “I don’t really feel good about charging you for something you’re not committed to, yet…so today, it’s free.”

Adrien felt his eyebrows creep into his hairline.

“Is that okay?”

“Sure,” Ivan allowed, folding his hands in his lap. “Consider it a favor for an old friend.”

There that word was again. ‘Friend’.

And just like the night before, Adrien felt himself flush at the label.

Clearing his throat, he moved on in an attempt to distract himself.

“Marinette asked me to come here as a favor to her,” he prefaced. Ivan laughed.

“I’m not surprised. She’s really driven when she sets her mind to something.”

“Yeah,” Adrien agreed, sighing and rubbing the back of his neck. “She’s something else…”

“Do you want to talk about Marinette today?” Ivan asked, surprising Adrien.

What? Why would he want to talk about Marinette?

“Nothing really much to say,” Adrien said, frowning at the way Ivan was looking at him—expectantly, like he had already made up his mind on what Adrien felt, when he himself didn’t even know. Frowning now, Adrien added, “I’m not really sure if I wanna talk about anything at all.”

“That’s fine,” Ivan said, and Adrien stared at him. “We can talk about nothing, too.”

“We can?”

“Sure,” Ivan answered again, smiling. “Whatever you want, whenever you’re ready.”

Honestly, Adrien didn’t think he was ‘ready’ for anything, in regards to what therapy involved.

But…he wouldn’t know until he tried, would he?

Back to Us

A Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir Story
by DarkReyna16

Part 9 of 37

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