It started with a text.
Alya: Hey, get your sleepy butt over here! Ali is in town and throwing a costume party for all his ‘friends’ which apparently means most of our school. I blame Rose. Anyways we need to talk so hurry up
Marinette, who had never been much of a morning person to begin with, had been far too engrossed in reading her text, while scarfing down the last of her morning croissant, to pay much attention to where she was going as she stumbled her way towards her classroom. Knowing Alya, she probably wanted to talk about doing a Ladybug and Chat Noir costume. It had taken the better part of two weeks for Marinette to talk her out of them for Halloween. That had been one of the scariest two weeks of Marinette’s life, as Alya had decided that despite her own hero worship, Marinette would be the more ‘accurate’ Ladybug of the duo.
She was trying to think of as many alternate costume ideas to pitch as possible, when the sound of her own name made her halt in the middle of the hallway.
“Hey Marinette, I was hoping to catch you before you got to class,” Adrien said pushing away from the wall he had been leaning against and hurrying towards her.
Marinette swallowed. She wondered if he had any idea how ridiculously attractive he managed to make the simple act of straightening up to his full height look. Was that something they taught you as a model? How to go from already gorgeous to ‘make poor unsuspecting girls lose the ability to function’ levels of hot? If so could she sign up for lessons to try to even the playing field?
“Can we talk?” he asked.
“Oh, of course! I love talking.”
“Um… ok,” Adrien said with a puzzled smile and Marinette wondered not for the first time if she could just bang her head into a wall until she managed to not make an idiot of herself in front of this boy.
“What can I help you with Adrien,” Marinette said with as much dignity as she could manage, and only the slightest hint of a blush. Yay. Progress.
“Well you probably haven’t heard but we all have been invited to a costume party that Prince Ali is hosting this weekend. Rose is handing out the invitations to everyone in class.”
“Right, Alya was just texting me about it.”
“Oh,” Adrien’s smile faltered slightly. “Did you have a costume picked out?”
“No, how could I? I only just found out there was a party 10 seconds ago.”
Adrien grin came back in full force and he put his hands on her shoulders.
“Great, then I am hoping that you can help me.”
He was touching her… HE WAS TOUCHING HER. Marinette bit down on her lip so that she could focus on what he was saying instead of fainting. Although if she did faint he would probably catch her, and then she would wake up with him gazing at her with concern- focus. She needed to focus.
“I just had the best idea for a costume,” Adrien said conspiratorially, “would you be up for partnering with me?”
Marinette nodded, not quite trusting her voice to work. Her face flamed even hotter as Adrien broke into an ecstatic smile.
“Great,” he said excitedly, “this is going to be amazing, but I’ll need your help.”
“To sew them?” she asked, proud of that fact that her vocal cords seemed to be cooperating with her for once.
“Not exactly,” Adrien said with a sly smile. “Just come over to my place after school and we can work out all the details. I don’t want anyone else to know what we are doing.”
He gave her a conspiratorial wink and then rushed off to class, oblivious that she was still too stunned to move. Oh well, at least it gave her time to calm her racing heart.
A couples costume with Adrien? This was going to be the best party ever!
“Marinette!” Alya shouted at her as she walked through the door a few moments, and a few stifled shrieks, later, “I have the perfect plan for our costumes for Ali’s party!”
Before Marinette could even respond Adrien had whirled around in his seat and slapped his hands on Alya’s desk.
“I call dibs on Mari,” he said with a possessive pout that made Marinette feel the need to go back into the hall where she could shriek some more without drawing undo attention to her giddy antics.
“Since when,” Alya said, crossing her arms and meeting Adrien’s glare with one of her own, “she is my best friend.”
“Yeah but I asked first,” Adrien replied smugly.
“Nino, control your Mari stealing cohort.”
“Hey don’t drag me into this,” Nino said with a shrug, “I’m doing my own thing.”
“But you said you were doing Star Wars, I assumed that that meant you two nerds were in this together.”
“Hey, Adrien doesn’t have a patent on being a geek you know. Also Star Wars is totally legit these days. Which you would know if you gave it half a chance.”
“Oh not this again,” Alya groaned as Marinette finally came and took her place.
“Alya,” Adrien ask, “is Nino implying… I almost can’t say the words… that you haven’t seen Star Wars?”
Both Nino and Adrien let out twin gasps of horror.
“And every time someone reacts like that I put it off for at least another week.”
Marinette almost jumped in her seat as she felt Adrien’s hand clamp down on top of her own.
“Yep, Mari you are definitely coming with me. Someone needs to save you from this culturally backwards monster who is posing as Alya.”
“Ha ha, very funny Agreste,” Alya scoffed, wrapping her arms around Marinette’s shoulders, “Mari tell Adrien you aren’t really going to abandon me in my hour of need,” she teased with a knowing glint in her eyes that said she would personally throttle Marinette if she didn’t take this opportunity to spend extra time with Adrien.
“Sorry, but he did ask first,” Marinette replied with a nervous smile.
“Yes!” Adrien crowed, turning back around with a celebratory high five to Nino.
Alya gave a theatrical moan of defeat while giving Marinette a discrete fist bump. “I guess I’ll just have to figure out something else since I’ve been ditched by my best friend.”
“You know,” Nino said craning his neck back, “You could always-“
“If you say one word about metal bikinis I am dumping you.”
“How many times do I have to tell you that is literally one scene? It’s not even in the same movie I want to do!”
Before Alya could interject with round 279 of ‘why I won’t cave to the peer pressure of consuming popular media just for the sake of it’s popular ’ a high shrill laugh caused all 4 classmates to turn their heads in nervous apprehension.
“What’s the matter Cesaire? Even your loser friend won’t do a costume with you? How sad,” Chloe simpered as Sabrina tittered behind her. “You know if you really want to win a costume award that badly, just show up in the same outfit you are wearing today. You’ll be a shoe in for ‘scariest costume.’”
“Yeah because your outfit is so ugly it’s scary.”
“Sabrina, shut up, you are ruining my punchline!”
“Anyway the point is, you are hideous, and Marinette is still the queen of losers. What idiot other than you agreed to partner up with her anyways?”
Alya’s mouth split into a predatory grin. “Oh, I believe that would be Adrien.”
Chloe’s scream of protest could be heard from 3 classrooms away.
This was a terrible idea. Marinette wasn’t sure what had possible convinced her to think that this entire thing wouldn’t blow up in her face. What if they found out? Her potential future career could be ruined. Even dressing up as Ladybug would have been less terrifying than this. At least then she could have intentionally tried to make herself look different. She paced agitatedly outside the entrance to the hotel 15 minutes after the party was supposed to start, just like she and Adrien had agreed upon last night over the phone.
She knew from his most recent text that Adrien would be arriving any minute and that was the only thought that had kept her from rushing home as quickly as possible and changing into any of her dozens of other costumes before anyone could see her. The memory of Adrien’s infectious excitement over the last few days kept her from bolting.
She had spent more time with him in the past 4 days than in the whole rest of the previous school year, outside of classes or group events. He had been texting her practically non stop after the first nerve wracking hangout at his house to discuss his ‘secret costume’ plans. Their 15 minutes of discussion and closet raiding and been followed by 5 hours of video games, rock climbing, zip lining, and one ‘you haven’t lived until you have seen this’ Miyazaki movie.
The following day at her house to discuss ‘character profiles’ had been just as delightful- if embarrassingly intruded upon by her meddling parents.
She even had the sinking suspicion that Adrien meant for her to keep the impressively high end tablet he had gifted her with as part of her costume.
Plus, he had been so happy. Genuinely, joyously happy. Grinning at her with smiles a little too wide for his usual model look but that made her heart beat twice as fast as any magazine cover she had ever drooled over. The selfie he had insisted on taking with her had replaced both her framed photo of him and her desktop computer backdrop, even if her own face was noticeably flushed in the picture, with his arms wrapped over her shoulders as she held out the camera.
Wasn’t all of that worth a little risk?
She glanced towards the hotel and caught another look at her reflection in the glass and tried to control another swell of panic. She could do this. Just think of Adrien.
She thought about sending him another text just in the hopes of soothing her own nerves, but the action proved unnecessary as she saw the sleek silver town car pull to a stop in front of the hotel. The driver's door opened and Adrien’s hulking figure of a bodyguard climbed out, casting a wary eye out for potential threats as he headed around the car to release Adrien. It wasn’t until he had already opened the passenger side door that he spotted Marinette.
The large intimidating man froze, his hand still on the door and stared for several seconds before letting out a loud throaty laugh.
“Don’t mind him, he’s been doing that all night.”
Marinette turned her eyes away from the now wheezing Bodyguard to see Adrien climbing out of the car. Her eyes widened as she took in Adrien’s precisely styled appearance. His hair was expertly slicked back, his white suit jacket immaculately pressed. Between the ensemble and the sleek glasses perched along the bridge, of his nose the already obvious family resemblance became unmistakable. Adrien was a picture perfect, younger, and definitely hotter, Gabriel Agreste.
For a few second’s Marinette just stood staring, trying and failing to get used to the odd and slightly unsettling image before her.
It wasn’t until Adrien’ brow began furrowing into a slightly questioning look that Marinette realized he was waiting for her to give some sort of reaction.
“I didn’t think that outfit could look attractive on anyone,” she blurted, and then immediately blanched.
The cackling bodyguard let out a particularly loud snort, slapping his hand against the car roof in amusement.
“I mean,” Marinette said trying desperately to remember their ‘character’ discussions, “I am impressed by your continued insight into the subtleties of high fashion, sir.”
Adrien laughed his face lit up with a brilliant grin, but then just as quickly he schooled his expression back into a serious grimace.
“One does not smile in public,” he said raising one eyebrow. “As my assistant for the evening it is your job to make sure I don’t break character.”
Marinette bit back her own laugh. “Yes sir,” she said, “I will do my best to make sure everything is going smoothly.”
“See, you are already perfectly in character,” Adrien said, clasping his hands behind his back in an imposing manner even as his eyes danced with amusement. “Shall we attempt to survive this evening of meaningless frivolity,” Adrien said with a dramatic rolling of his eyes.
Marinette couldn’t help letting out a small giggle. “He can’t seriously talk like that.”
Adrien lifted up his nose and peered down at her through his fake glasses. “Who can’t possibly talk like what?” he said solemnly.
Marinette straightened and schooled her own expression back into a look of neutral boredom, not wanting to spoil Adrien’s fun. “Nothing. After you sir.”
With a final precise nod, Adrien strode forward and lead the way into the hotel.
When they entered the mid sized ballroom that had been set up for the occasion Marinette felt all of her initial nervousness return. It didn’t take long for their friends and classmates to notice them, eliciting a whole slew of wide eyed stares and murmurs.
Adrien weaved his way through the crowd with a sort of single minded determination as Marinette trotted along behind him.
She wondered idly how accurate this was to real life. All that was missing was a mini Adrien dutifully chasing after them in hopes of some scrap of attention.
Marinette shook her head and tried to clear her thoughts before she could go any deeper into that depressing mental rabbit hole.
She almost tripped into her companion when Adrien suddenly stopped, his hands clasped behind his back and his chin lifted in a look of complete and utter disdain. She peered around his shoulder and saw Nino, a few feet away finishing off a glass of punch.
She could feel the waves of excited anticipation rolling off of Adrien, even as he continued to hold onto his stern demeanor. Clearly this was his intended target.
After a few more seconds their friend turned and gaped at them both. Nino’s eyebrows raised up impossibly high his face seeming to be trapped somewhere between a smile and a scowl.
Marinette glanced back at Adrien, his own brow raised in challenge, his mouth still fixed into a disdainful sneer.
“Okay,” Nino said at last, crossing his arms and leveling them both with a resigned glare, “you guys win for scariest costume.”