“Alright, we’ll have that ready for you, thank you!”
The bell above the doorway signaled yet another customer coming in as Mars hastily moved to prepare the coffee order as another employee took their place at the register to cater to the next customer. The sound of pens clicking, register beeping and doorway chimes was the unsteady rhythm that filled their ears daily as they prepared another drink and wrote the name on the cup and called out the order’s name.
“Thank you, come again!” they smiled as the person took the drink and walked away. Before another could take their place however, they felt a hand on their shoulder and turned to see a coworker gesturing away from them.
“There’s a delivery here, we need you to get it.” They said. Mars nodded and tried not to smile too wide at a chance to get away from the flood of customers as they quickly walked to the backdoor and around to the front.
Rounding the corner they saw a familiar face holding some large boxes and called her attention. Obviously daydreaming, she yelped in surprise, attempting to regain her balance. They quickly helped her before she dropped the large boxes in her hand and only chuckled at her as expected clumsiness.
“Hello, Marinette.” They chuckled.
“Oh! Mars! I wasn’t sure who would be back here today.” She said happily peeking over the boxes as she handed them over.
“Me as always; what’s the pastry today?” they asked, looking over the boxes.
“Specially made apple fritters from Boulangerie Patisserie!” the girl responded. Mars hummed in curiosity, looking over the boxes once more.
“I might just cave and buy some myself! I’ll stop by later, tell your parents thanks as always!” they said as they handed her the money for the delivery.
“Thanks again!” Marinette said as she quickly walked away and got on her bike. Something caught her attention however and she stopped for a minute, but Mars didn’t question it too much until they almost ran into someone, nearly dropping the boxes of pastries they’d just paid for, but the other person instinctively caught them.
They looked over and sighed in relief at the young boy who gave a cheeky smile.
“Sorry! Thanks, Adrien.” Mars said, now more carefully taking the boxes from him.
“No sweat! I was just heading in. Are those from Marinette’s parents’ bakery?” he asked.
“Sure are! I just need to set them up, could you, uh….” They trailed off, being unable to gesture since they had both hands taken, but the boy understood and opened the door for them.
“Thanks! How’s school going? And all the extracurriculars, of course?” they asked, knowing he was following after them.
“Pretty good! I’ve been getting better and better at my fencing lessons! And I have a new photo-shoot modeling some cool new clothes next week!” he said excitedly.
Mars put the boxes down on the counter, breaking them open and helping put them away behind the glass display cases.
“That’s great! God, I don’t know how you manage it all! Teen model, student, fencer, etcetera!” he only rolled his eyes and shrugged.
“You get used to it. Could I get one of those and a hot chocolate?” he asked. They nodded as they went around the corner, taking their pen out of their pocket, which immediately caught his attention.
“Woah! That’s a cool-looking pen!” he said. It was true, if not for clicking it, it hardly looked like a pen. At least, it was much larger and rounder, as well as having several buttons on the sides.
“This? It’s just something I brought to work today I normally use for college stuff. It’s got multiple colors! See, that’s why it’s got all the buttons!” they said, happily showing it over.
“Cool! Does it have green?” he asked. Mars chuckled and clicked the green button.
“Sure does. Want your order and name in green I’m guessing?” they asked. He nodded, as they proceeded to get his order out, writing his name on the cup with green ink.
“Thanks!” He handed them the money and took the food and drink. They said nothing, but smiled and nodded before checking the time and sighed happily, gaining his attention as he was turning around. He watched curiously as they typed something in the computer and walked around the counter, taking off their apron.
“You wouldn’t mind if I joined you, right?” they asked, reaching under another counter and grabbing their bag.
“You’re off already?” he asked.
“I’ve been here since early morning, I’d sure hope so!” they said. He smiled and nodded as the two walked outside, finding a nice place to sit as Adrien took a bite of his pastry, smiling and humming happily as he did.
“Marinette’s bakery has the best food, it’s no wonder you guys take deliveries from them!” he said.
“You’re telling me! I’m probably gonna head over there later. And if you like them so much, why are you here?”
“You guys make great drinks! I…don’t like coffee too much but I really like some of the other stuff, plus, I get to see you here!” he smiled
“Aww, aren’t you sweet! Who knew the kid I first asked directions from was the nicest kid in Paris?” they teased, reaching over and ruffling his hair.
“Well, who else? You’re lucky I knew so much English, but your French has gotten a whole lot better!” He laughed.
“True, true.” They chuckled, leaning back and taking a water bottle from their own bag.
“I thought you normally did night shifts, how come you’re working so early?” he asked. Mars could hardly contain the satisfied smile that grew on their face as they took a swig of water and replied.
“Well, you know how my major is Web Design, right? I’ve got an interview later today for an internship at some big graphics company near here.”
“Really? That’s great! But, what about the shop?” he asked. They looked down at the bottle in their hands, twisting their hands and watching the water swirl.
“It’s just a part-time thing, not like they can’t find someone else to cashier just as easily. Besides I…..I was never really happy there, to be honest. It’s exhausting, catering to so many customers day-to-day, not to mention off-days and off-customers.” They sighed. Adrien gave them a sad look but he shrugged and smiled.
“Well, now you won’t have to worry about that anymore!” he said. Mars smiled back and nodded.
“If I get in, that is! Though with my grades and prerequisites, I can’t see why I wouldn’t.” They said, looking back up at him and smiled more smugly when they realized something.
“Say, it’s not a school-day, and I don’t see any bodyguard. What’s up with that, kid?” they smirked. The boy across from them chuckled nervously and rubbed the back of his neck.
“You snuck away from him again, didn’t you?”
“Maaaayyybe! There’s not a lot of harm in taking a snack run and meeting up with some friends, right?”
Mars laughed and shook his head.
“No, certainly not! But you’re getting bolder, Agreste. A “character” and a “delinquent who doesn’t follow rules,” just like me!” they nudged his shoulder.
“You know my father’s only said that once!” he laughed at their mock “serious” tone.
“Yeah, but he thinks it every time he sees me, doesn’t he?”
“He’s just worried, I promise he’s not like that always. I’m sure he’d warm up to you if he knew you.”
“Like he’d ever let me in your house to do so; Oh! Geez, I should get back to my apartment! Gotta change and look professional.” They winked, grabbing their bag and getting up.
“Stay out of trouble, kid.” They said, pointing finger guns at him which he returned.
“You too! Good luck at the interview!” he said.
The next hour flew quickly by as Mars found themselves sitting in an office, anxiously fiddling with their jacket and the multicolor pen in their pocket. It had been a considerable amount of time since they’d been shown in, and as the minutes passed, their previous self-assurance was fleeting and nervousness was starting to set in.
In an attempt to calm themselves, they took a blank sticky-note from the desk in front of them and took out the pen and started sketching. Just little doodles, themselves wearing a nice suit at the big company, littler sketches of the heroes of the city, Ladybug and Chat Noir. They’d barely run into them, but they’d seen them on TV enough to know what they looked like. The more they thought about it, and the more distracted they got, the less nervous they felt.
But finally the door opened, and they couldn’t help themselves from quickly looking over their shoulder and putting the pen and note out of sight. The person they’d wanted to meet, the employer, a very strict looking woman along with a man whom she was likely in the midst of conversation with before she saw them and stopped.
Mars smiled nervously and gave a small wave. The woman however had a more unreadable expression. She looked surprised, almost unexpecting them to be there. In a panic they traced their mind, suddenly worried that they’d gotten the date wrong before she cleared her throat and faked a smile.
“He-hello! You must be….the American studying abroad, here for the internship?” she asked, reaching out her hand. Mars quickly stood, realizing they were still holding the pen and note, quickly put that arm behind their back and used the other to shake her hand.
“Yes, thank you! It’s nice to meet you.” They said, trying their best not to show their nervousness. The woman gave them an odd look before taking her hand back and moving around to sit at the desk, and they sat in front of her.
She held a tablet in her hands, and looked down at it, scrolling over it a few times, looking back and forth from it to them for a second before putting on the fake smile again and forcing a chuckle.
“Well, the form you submitted is…..in, order. As are your grades.”
Something about her tone sounded almost in disbelief. She put the tablet down and looked back at them.
“You…..are ‘Mars,’ right?” she asked, looking almost just as nervous as them, and now they started getting confused.
“Y-yes? I mean, yes that’s me. Is….something wrong?” they asked.
She forced another laugh, though this one seemed much more…….disappointed?
“Well……no, not…….really. Like I said, you seem to be a good pick, your grades are certainly…..average, but….I just….well I assumed…..” she trailed off, avoiding eye contact.
“A-assumed….?” They asked, encouraging her to finish though, something about the way she looked at them was starting to get on their nerves.
“I assumed you were more…..professional.” she said, eyes darting to them and then away.
“I……what…..what have I done to prove otherwise?” they asked, nervousness starting to be replaced with confusion and a slight tinge of anger.
“Well……see, we never got any pictures of you before……youuu…..well, I hate to say this but……we don’t normally have people with such……unnatural appearances.” She gestured to their pink hair. Almost instinctively, they reached to touch it and understood.
“Y……you…….but, I was never told of any policy?”
“Well, there is none but, well……it’s just not something we normally do…”
“I…..I don’t understand.”
“It’s nothing against you, believe me, we just strive for professionalism in our employees, as well as int—”
“What’s unprofessional about me?” they suddenly stood, surprising the woman. “If there’s no policy, why does my appearance matter?” they asked.
The woman now let her façade fall as she stood up and looked down at them.
“Like I said, we don’t normally those with such unnatural appearances. Nor do we tolerate tempers.”
“Yo—but I—” They could barely form words with all of the shock and anger they felt.
“But that’s not fair! That’s……wrong.” They assured. The woman only looked back at them as she lifted her head and sneered.
“Well, I’m sorry my business practices are “wrong” to you, but that is how we do things here. And I can see now that you won’t fit in here. As I suspected when I first saw you.” She said.
Oh. Oh that did it.
Mars sneered right back, stepping forward now lacking all previous nerves and anxiety.
“I wouldn’t want to work for a company that acts like people who are different can’t do their jobs because of their appearances!” they raised their voice. She looked surprised again for just a second before glaring and uttering a single word.
They didn’t need anything else, as they threw the sticky note in their pocket in the trash by the door as they walked out.