The timer beeped twice to signal it had started its countdown.
Marinette set it down on the counter and took off dashing upstairs, throwing her apron behind her. Nathaniel beat her to the trapdoor to her bedroom, and he threw it open, running up the stairs inside. They both collapsed against her chaise lounge, giggling madly.
“So, those are in the oven- now all we have to do is make our own gifts,” Nath said aloud, tapping his pencil against the blank page of his sketchbook, a contemplative frown forming on his face.
Marinette leaned over to poke his cheek, then stood up and sat down at her desk, propping open her own sketchbook.
“Know what you’ll make yet?” he asked from his place on the floor, scritch-scratching away.
Marinette nodded, humming to herself softly. “I’m going to make a decorative case for Nino’s airpods.”
“What’d he do for you?”
“A board of mood playlists,” she answered, grinning to herself as she pulled out her phone to scroll through them. “He put them together specifically for me, based on what songs give me what vibe and put me in what zone.”
“That’s sweet of him,” Nath noted, putting his pencil down and reaching for an eraser.
“What about you?” Marinette asked, pulling out different color swatches from a box.
“It’s a surprise, apparently,” he shrugged. “He wouldn’t tell me anything except that I’m supposed to get it at 12 o’clock noon, on the dot.”
“Well, it’s 11:52 right now,” she informed him, glancing at the clock.
The redhead snapped up, alert. “Already?” he asked, consulting his phone, then pocketing it. “Wow, guess I’ll be finding out soon, then.”
“I’m excited,” Nathaniel confirmed, grinning at his page and scribbling away with renewed energy.
A few thuds sounded from downstairs and the trapdoor opened, Alix appearing.
Nathaniel halfheartedly attempted to jump up to greet her, ending up semi-sprawled across the floor. Alix walked over, offering him a hand, and helped him up.
“Thanks,” he told her.
She took a long look around the bedroom, before settling back on Nath. “What’re you guys up to?”
“I’m making a case for Nino’s airpods while Nath waits for Luka to reveal his present,” Marinette explained.
Alix raised an eyebrow. “And I’m guessing there’s some gushy, lovesick mush in there somewhere,” she said carelessly. “Please tell me you guys won’t be as bad as Rose and Juleka.”
“You went to the Liberty?” Nathaniel asked. “Was Luka there?”
She shook her head. “He told me not to tell you anything,” she shrugged.
Nathaniel sighed, sinking back down, then sat up again when he saw it was 11:58.
“Two minutes,” Marinette smiled, turning back to her own work.
“Yeah, just try not to lose yourself when you finally see it,” Alix sighed, sitting down next to the redhead.
He nudged her slightly. “No promises- you’ve got me crazy curious about what this thing even is. ”
Alix shrugged again, picking up her helmet and resting it in her lap. She traced the design for a bit, and Nathaniel went back to drawing.
He looked up again thirty seconds later. 11:59.
“Nath, you’re literally shaking. Chill,” Alix said, putting a hand on his arm.
He stopped immediately, grinning widely into his sketchbook, then tried to hide it and looked up.
“Soo, you were with Kim this morning, huh? How was he doing?” he started casually.
“Kim’s doing great. He went to the zoo with Max and Ondine and ate ice cream and didn’t try to flex on any zoo animals,” she answered uninterestedly, then paused, looking up with a small smile. “He seemed kind of sad that I wasn’t spending V-Day with anyone, till I told him I had someone- then he wouldn’t stop asking who it was,” she finished, snickering.
Nathaniel wasn’t paying attention, though; the clock had just struck noon. He frowned at the screen, scrolling up and down, then looked at Marinette.
“What am I supposed to be looking for?” he asked.
“Here,” Alix snatched his phone and tapped a few times, typed something in, scrolled a bit, tapped some more, and finally passed it back to him - a YouTube window on full-screen so Nath couldn’t cheat by reading the video title.
The redhead watched, Marinette coming over and leaning against him to watch too, as the camera panned from a black wall to a darkened area of sorts in front of a brick wall. An alleyway, maybe? An abandoned drum set came into view, then the scene immediately shifted to a studio with flashing lights and cheering crowds.
The music started, and the three of them waited as the image flashed between the two sets, slowly panning on a subject in each scene, until finally settling on a lonely cobblestone pathway in the rain. Someone was walking along the path, and the camera took some time to focus before they managed to identify it as someone they all knew well.
“Luka!” Marinette pointed, and Nathaniel swatted her hand away impatiently, eyes widening and a smile growing on his face.
By the time the bridge started and Jagged Stone played his feature, it was pretty obvious what - or rather, who - the song was about.
Nathaniel was a blushing mess until the video ended and links were popping up on the screen for more recommended videos. Alix exited full-screen mode and finally showed him the title.
Nathaniel hid his face in his hands. “Oh my gosh...” he mumbled, fanning himself slightly to try and decrease the heat in his face.
“He wrote a song about you!” Marinette gushed. “That’s adorable!”
“It’s pretty awesome,” Alix relented. “Plus, Jagged Stone literally featured in it! He’s practically on his way to stardom.”
“I’m so lucky,” he sighed, staring at the screen with starry eyes.
Marinette poked him. “We’re so lucky. Both of our amazing, talented, musical genius boyfriends.”
Nathaniel sighed, holding his phone against his chest for a moment, before dropping it in his lap and looking at Alix. “So, before we got distracted with that amazing video,” he prompted, “you said you were spending today with someone?”
Alix grinned. “So you were paying attention.” She leaned back and casually rested against the chaise. “I am.”
Nathaniel stared. “Who?”
“Well, see, some one does not necessarily refer to a human being,” she explained, amused.
Nath smirked. “So what did you tell him?”
“Nothing,” she said simply. “He can figure it out for himself if he’s got the brains.”
“Hey, let’s be nice,” Marinette said, running a length of ribbon between her fingers.
“I am!” Alix insisted, and sighed. “Anyways, where’s the rest of the girl gang? Or is Nath now a replacement for your girlfriends.”
“I make an excellent replacement, just so you know,” Nathaniel informed her.
“I know ,” Alix said, throwing a tiny wad of paper at him. “Better than anyone else, actually.”
Marinette shrugged. “Mylene is obviously with Ivan, you already saw Rose and Juleka, and Alya wanted to go around and find out who everyone’s spending Valentine’s Day with.”
Alix stared. “Alya is...what?”
The designer gave her a rueful smile. “Well, she’s not technically doing anything wrong, so I didn’t try to stop her…?” she tried.
Nathaniel dropped his pencil. “So she’s stalking everyone?”
“Uh, I’m actually not sure...” Marinette admitted.
Nath and Alix shared a look.
“What?” Marinette asked, defensive. “Don’t judge me...”
“We weren’t judging,” Alix assured her.
“But uh, just out of curiosity, where would she be right now?” Nathaniel asked.
Marinette paused, checking her phone. She’d been ignoring Alya’s texts for the past two hours. Oops …
“She’s been hovering around the Pont des Arts for the last half hour,” she told them.
They shared another knowing look. Nathaniel snapped his sketchbook shut and reached for his bag.
Marinette blinked as he slung his bag over his shoulder and followed Alix to the trapdoor. “Where are you two going?”
“Somewhere very urgent due to a sudden change of circumstances,” Nath explained, stepping down after Alix.
“Very important,” Alix added, already gone.
Marinette was left staring after them as a warm aroma began to waft in through the open trapdoor. The timer would be ringing any second now.
She glanced at the pile on her desk, walking over to it. She lifted up a few pieces of flimsy paper and let them fall to the floor, picking up the small box in the middle and putting it in her purse. Then she abandoned her desk, opening the trapdoor again and stepping down through it.
Sure enough, the timer was four seconds away from sounding the alarm. Marinette turned it off and reached for a pair of oven mitts, carefully cracking the oven open and taking out the pan of cupcakes that lay inside. She let them cool for ten minutes before picking her favorite two, frosting them, and putting them in a box.
She cast another glance at the door, then shrugged. As curious as she was, there wasn’t much of a point of trying to figure out what Nath and Alix were up to. Those two could be as dangerously sneaky and sly as they could be fun and entertaining friends.
Besides, she had a date to go to.
(20:27) Marinette: busy preparing for tmrw?
(20:30) Nino: u know it ;))
(20:30) Marinette: :D
(09:25) Nino: meet at the fountain @1?
(09:37) Marinette: ill be there!!
(10:02) Marinette: ahhhh the gift i loveee
(10:05) Nino: then ull loveeeeeeeee what i have for you l8r
(10:12) Marinette: ;O;
(10:14) Nino: ;)
(10:15) Marinette: dsjkbnksbnsknks
(12:41) Nino: u comin?
(12:42) Marinette: ofc
(12:44) Nino: Im outside ur door
(12:46) Marinette: you hav been spending way too much time with alya
(17:21) Nino: youre adorable you know that?
(17:22) Marinette: *you’re
(17:22) Nino: no u
(17:24) Marinette: ilu
(17:25) Nino: u2 uwu
(18:27) Marinette: i dont lov u
(18:31) Nino: ;0;
(18:32) Nino: yyyy
(18:44) Marinette: one more uwu and were over
(18:45) Marinette: youre worse than adrien and chat noir combined
(18:46) Marinette: jk thats a nightmare
(18:50) Nino: ;)
(21:09) Marinette: :3
(21:11) Nino: sweet dreams valentine
(23:43) Marinette: bold of u to assume ill ever get any sleep
(23:44) Marinette: but sweet dreams to u 2