The best word Marinette could think of to describe her friendship with Adrien was tentative.
She could meet his eye - if barely - and no longer screamed when she ran into him, but even after a year her words still tripped over themselves and tangled up before they could even leave her lips. And yet somehow he still sought her out to spend time with her. She had no idea what Adrien saw in the strange babbling girl before him. Any minute, she was sure, he would give up on whatever made him think she was worthy of his time - politely and apologetically of course, because it was Adrien - and she would be left heartbroken. It was inevitable, she said, even though Alya had argued with her at least six times about it already.
The thought had been weighing heavily lately, and it haunted her all throughout her mission that day, leaving her distracted and spacey. Chat Noir had also been a million miles away, and she was sure defeating the Akuma had taken twice as long as it should had as a result. They had agreed to skip their patrol that night and parted with simple distracted goodbyes. She had been taking a short cut through an alleyway, head in the clouds, when her phone had beeped gently.
[4:37 PM] Can you come to my house ASAP?
Marinette stared at the phone for a few long moments before the words processed, and then a smile spread across her face - one part elated, two parts absolutely and completely terrified.
Her thumbs hesitated on the touch screen. She was too scared to call Alya - like relaying the information would make her wake up and realize it was all a dream - but Tikki floated over and responded to the text with a series of bird like chirps and shrieks. Which in turn made Marinette scream. And then Tikki screamed more.
(They shut up very quickly when a biker zipped past them, gawking in confusion.)
She shot back a quick yes, and Adrien thanked her and gave her his address (like she hadn’t know it since the first week he started school, ha).
She made the journey with shaking legs, her mind buzzing with possibilities. Was he going to tell her that he liked her? What if he told he hated her? Could he dump her without even dating her in the first place? Friendship-dumping? … Frumping?
The intercom at the front was as intimidating as it had been the last time, but when she tapped at the buttons with shaking fingers it was Adrien’s warm voice that greeted her.
“Marinette,” he said, sounding utterly relieved and happy, and she felt her entire body turn to butter. “Thank you for coming. I’ll let you in.”
The gate opened, and she took a deep breath and straightened out her clothes. She marched towards the door with stick straight legs, and reached out to knock -
It opened before her knuckles could brush the wood, Adrien standing in the doorway and she had to bite down a Adrien Shriek (™) before it could escape.
His green eyes sparkled, but his expression was knotted with stress. “Thank you,” he said, again. “You’re a life saver.”
If you only knew, she thought, managing only a shaky smile.
She stepped inside and he closed the door. He glanced around the foyer, and Marinette frowned before noticing that there were video cameras everywhere. She tilted her head up, looking for more in the high vaulted ceiling, when she felt Adrien’s breath tickle her ear.
She almost exploded.
“I have a favor to ask you,” he said, ushering her up the stairs, an arm around her waist.
“Um,” she said. “O-okay.” She fought to keep her voice at whisper level.
He exhaled, and continued like she hadn't already agreed automatically. “You don't have to do it if you don't want to, I didn’t know who else to ask - and I know you were willing to when we were filming Nino’s project, so I thought…” He sounded nervous, and Marinette thought she might have toppled backwards down the stairs if he hadn’t been keeping her steady.
He opened a door and placed his book bag down gently inside while Marinette took in the room - giant TV screens, a massive collection of bookshelves, arcade games, even a skating ramp.
It wasn’t until her eyes fell on a small grey bed, nestled like an afterthought in the corner that she realized that it was his bedroom. Oh mon Dieu. Oh mon Dieu.
He looked amused at her awe. “I’d give you the full tour, but I'm running out of time,” he said, sitting down on a pristine white couch.
Marinette turned back to him, still dazed. “Time for what?” She still had her shoes on, and she was worried she was leaving dirt all over the carpet.
He opened his mouth, and then grimaced before he could even get a word out. “I need you to help me with something. I can’t tell you everything at this moment, but I promise I’ll make it up to you and I’ll explain it all after. Or if you never want to speak to me again that’s fine, just - kiss me, quick.”
“What?” Maybe she had gotten some water from the Seine in her ear from the mission today. That was the only thing that made sense. There was no way Adrien Agreste just told her to kiss him.
He gave her a nervous smile. "If you want to?"
Yes. Yeah, she wanted to.
He glanced at the clock, and his eyes widened in panic. Marinette’s head was swimming, but she could at least recognize that whatever was going on, it was an emergency. He glanced at her, expression apologetic. “I’m sorry, Marinette, I should have asked before but I was freaking out and didn’t know what to say and it doesn’t have to mean anything but I trust you and -”
She considered her options while he rambled.
A, this was not how she planned her first kiss with Adrien. It was supposed to happened at the Eiffel Tower, at night, maybe around Christmas, with pretty lights and someone playing violin in the distance.
B, But she had let that fantasy go once, for Nino’s film (that was what he was talking about) so … why not again?
Fine, he was probably not asking because he was secretly in love with her. Maybe he was just bored. Or needed to practice for a scene for a play. But it was a start, right? How many girls got asked by their dream boys to kiss them?
And for whatever reason it was, it was an emergency. Maybe he was dying of a disease only kissing could curse. Maybe he was cursed, like Ch-
Marinette banished that thought and beat it down with a big ugly stick. Nope. No. She was not going to think about him when her crush - her prince charming - the love of her life - just asked her to kiss him.
He was still talking, and starting to sit up from the couch, so she pounced before either of them had the chance to change their mind.
Adrien made a startled noise as her lips crashed into his. It wasn’t neat, it wasn’t nice, but at least she had avoided knocking their noses together. She was kneeling on the couch, and he pulled back slightly and laughed with relief. “Thank you,” he said, and then whispered, “pretend you’re really into this?”
That would not be hard.
Adrien reached for her, cupping her face in her hands, and kissed her, slowly, softly. Perfectly.
Her fingers twitched at her sides, begging to dig into his perfect hair. The kiss lasted so long she lost track of time, and every second he seemed to be gauging her comfort level, making sure she was still willing, that she still wanted this. And she did. She wanted the way his thumb traced her cheek, she wanted how soft and warm his lips were, and she especially wanted how right this felt.
His hands moved, one supporting her back as the other pressed down, palm flat against the couch cushion, and then he was lowering her down and she could feel his heartbeat against her chest and - oh. Oh.
She didn’t understand how kissing could become making out so fast.
(The position was also more familiar than she wanted to admit, but she was not thinking about that.)
He pulled back slightly, swallowed. "Is this okay? Are you-"
"Shush," she said, and his eyes closed again as dipped his head to kiss her.
Their legs were hopelessly tangled and she was still not entirely sure what she was supposed to be doing with her mouth or tongue or whatever, but she managed to lift her trembling hands and run her fingers through his hair. Marinette could feel him laugh against her mouth, and - was she dead? Had the Akuma today killed her? Because if this was heaven, it delivered.
And then she heard the door creak open.
Terror spasmed through Marinette’s entire body as she and Adrien jolted, turning to face the intruder.
A woman, tall and thin with black hair and glasses, stared at them in shock.
All she could think was, at least it’s not his father.
“ Nathalie!” Adrien exclaimed, his face flushed and lips swollen. She was probably not supposed to think he had never looked so cute. Oh God. She was going to be in so much trouble. The Agrestes were so rich, and so influential - what if his father found out and never wanted her to see him again? What if they gave her a restraining order. Oh mon Dieu, what if they sent her to jail??
“Adrien,” said the woman, looking flabbergasted. “Why - since when - is this why you’ve been sneaking around and missing lessons?”
Adrien’s expression looked tremendously guilty. Which didn’t make sense, as he had not been fooling around with her. None of this made sense.
“My God,” said Nathalie, pressing a hand to her temple. “Coming to class late, creeping into the mansion at odd hours - how did I never guess?”
She shot Marinette a glare, and she flinched, still trying to wrap her head around what was going on.
“How long were you planning on keeping this a secret?” the woman asked, pacing the floor.
“You know my father would never allow this,” Adrien said, pleading. Lying. He was acting - performing the part of a guilty teen a little too dramatically, and this Nathalie didn’t seem to have a clue. But… why?
Marinette realized suddenly that Adrien had known they were going to be interrupt - that's why he had came into the room. Why he had texted her in the first place. And why he had apologized and promised to make it up to her before. He needed to fake a secret girlfriend to cover up something else.
…But what on earth was he covering up?
“For good reason,” Nathalie sniffed. “Who are you, anyway?”
She froze. “I’m - I’m a classmate, of, of - Adrien’s?” She couldn't even remember her own name.
A flash of recognition (and … guilt?) registered on the woman’s face. “I see,” she said. “I’ll need to tell Gabriel about this, of course-”
“Please,” Adrien said desperately, his brow creased. “Please, don't, I’ll tell him myself, just give me some time -”
Nathalie pressed her lips together. “Fine. But I’m - we’re all very disappointed in you.” She seemed unused to doling out discipline.
Adrien bowed his head, looking utterly desolate. Nathalie turned on her heel, nose in the air and walked out, shutting the door behind her.
After a beat, Adrien raised his head, revealing a huge grin. Marinette wasn’t sure if she had ever seen him smile that much - he barely looked like himself. “That went perfectly. Thank you so much."
He hugged her tightly, and she felt like her brain was going to short circuit. He glanced at her, noticed her expression, and pulled away, looking guilty - genuinely, this time.
“I’m sorry, Marinette,” he said, quickly. “I was worried if I warned you that you might not react strongly enough and -”
“No, no,” Marinette said quickly. “I understand, but - what exactly is going on? What are you hiding from her? And why did you text me to do this?” Something was making her bold, confident, the way she could never be around him. “You owe me that at least, right?”
“I owe you everything,” Adrien said, and why did she see Chat for the tiniest moment?
He grabbed her hands, his thumb rubbing her knuckles. and took a deep breath. “Marinette - I’m - I ... why is this so hard to say?" He let out a frustrated sigh and tried again. "I - I’ve known for a couple months now, that you’re - you’re -”
In love with him? Marinette thought. Was this why he asked her?
He wet his lips. He looked terrified. “I’m actually-”
The door slammed open, and this time the interruption managed to be even more terrifyingly jarring that the first.
“You,” Nathalie said pointing at her, like this confrontation was an after thought. “You… you need to leave. Immediately.”
She nodded rapidly and jumped to her feet.
“I’ll text you,” Adrien said, looking genuinely miserable this time, and Nathalie muttered, “No, you will not.”
Marinette stood there between them, frozen. Wondering what Adrien wanted to tell her. Wondering if she would ever get to see him again after his father got through with him.
“Go on,” Nathalie said, standing firm, preventing any sort of uncensored conversation. She walked, slowly and mechanically, out of the door.
She glanced back one more time at Adrien, who seemed to brace himself for a moment and then said “I’ll see you tomorrow, m-my lady.”
And then Nathalie shut the door.
Marinette stood there for a moment, stunned. The only thought that forced her to move forward and down the stairs was how Nathalie would react if she was still standing frozen outside the door ten minutes later. But what was Adrien talking about? Tomorrow? They didn’t have class, so how exactly was she going to -
OH MON DIEU.