Sabine had always been a somewhat inconsistent sleeper, so for her to slowly wake up at any random hour of the night was not entirely uncommon. As she got older, she stopped trying to go back to bed right away. She knew it never worked, so instead she decided to go check that things were ready for Christmas morning and see if the kids had ever made it to bed. When she had last left them they were wrapped up again in their video game, sitting side by side so close that their knees touched and laughing at each other. Adrien had bid her goodnight along with her daughter, promising to keep it down since she was going to bed, but she just laughed and told them to have fun.
Sabine gently swung her feet over the side of the bed, careful not to disturb her husband who was still fast asleep next to her. Her eyes fell first on the clock displaying the time, announcing that it was now about two in the morning, then on the small silver hair comb lying on the bedside table. With a smile she lifted it into her hands, admiring her present again before setting it back down to go check on the boy who gave it to her.
She shuffled tiredly into the hall, blinking at the bright light shifting and playing off of the walls as she got closer to the living room until finally she saw something that made her heart melt.
In the living room the TV was still on, showing a character standing still in the middle of a town. The screen was dimmed slightly from disuse, and as she got closer she couldn't help but chuckle at the sight of two kids passed out side by side on the living room floor.
The lights of the Christmas tree shined over their faces as they slept, the both of them tangled up in a sea of quilts and blankets that tied them together even more than their interlaced legs. The controller dangled from Marinette's hand sitting in the small space between the two teens, and Sabine wondered when in their playing had they both fallen asleep. The game wasn't even paused, their hero just abandoned to stand aimlessly in a town while his puppeteers dozed on the hard floor together. Dozens of empty caramel wrappers were woven into the blankets and a few empty soda cans dotted the floor, making the mother sigh and shake her head. They would have stomach aches for sure, and she knew she couldn't let them have sore backs as well.
A little regrettably Sabine knelt quietly besides them before reaching over and shaking their shoulders gently.
Adrien to his credit jolted awake, bleary eyes blinking up at the woman in drowsy confusion. Marinette was much harder to stir, but after a few moments she finally cracked on unwilling eye open. Since it was the way her face was pointed the first person she saw was Adrien, incredibly close to her and staring at her with the same sort of haze in his eyes.
"Merry Christmas…" he slurred after a moment, trying to bury his head in the pillows again before Sabine dragged him back out. He made a vague noise of disapproval that had Sabine giggling before he looked again at Marinette, who as now wide awake with a blush on her face that was visible even in the dark.
The two of them were literally tangled in each other, he was surprised they weren't straight up cuddling even though they might as well have been. However in his sleep deprived state of mind it was easier to just sleepily grin at her, managing to get a wink out before she scoffed and started pulling away. If the mother hadn't been standing directly over him he might have been confident enough to reach out and stop her, but even his impulse driven low power brain wasn't that brave.
"Go on up you two. Come on, I'll clean this up."
It took a little work but eventually Sabine got the two of them on their feet, Marinette helping Adrien up since he was still mostly unconscious. He leaned on her heavily, wrapping his blanket around him and bundling up a pillow in his hands so he looked like a sleepy toddler.
"Where am I going?" he finally asked in a voice thick with sleep, stumbling a little when Marinette gently tugged him.
"You're sleeping on my lounge, my parents will wake you up otherwise," the designer reminded him, unable to help a smile at how disheveled he looked.
"Staaairs though," he mumbled, trudging forward without Marinette's assistance despite his complaint. He was starting to wake up and part of his brain was now embarrassed to have been essentially curled up to her and caught by her mother.
"Get some sleep," Sabine chuckled, starting to tidy up the living room as the kids wandered up the stairs and into Marinette's room.
Adrien slumped down onto the lounge the second he spotted it, scooting forward like a worm until his face was buried in the pillows.
Marinette giggled, absent mindedly patting his hair before heading towards her own bed. The second the pressure of her hand left his head he looked up, pouting even though she couldn't see and watching her work her way up the steps to her bed. From where he was he could watch her climb and stretch, shifting her blankets around to get comfortable.
She stopped, looking down to where he lay. Through her windows soft wavering light from the street outside filled the room, being broken up and dimmed by falling snow. It was like a dozen tiny shadows flitting across his face as he looked up at her, smiling gently as he blinked the tiredness from his eyes.
"Yes?" she replied, grinning back at him.
"Merry Christmas," he murmured again, settling into the cushion of the lounge and looking around him at her room. "And…thanks again, for letting me be here."
He watched the snow fall outside for a moment more before her silence urged him to look at her again. Her expression was…soft, and gentle as she smiled, looking away at nothing in particular.
"Well…it's where you're meant to be kitty cat," she said in a light tone, trying to play it off like it was nothing at all.
"By your side?" he offered with a very Cat Noir tone, the smirk obvious in his voice. "Yes, I think so too."
He chuckled at his words but felt something like a firework exploding in his heart when he saw her giggle and look down at him with a smile before turning towards her sheets. "Merry Christmas, Adrien," was all she offered, no sort of denial or roll of the eyes, just Merry Christmas.
"M-merry…" he whispered to himself, his heart racing a little unevenly as he watched her climb into bed. He had basically just said they were meant to be together and she hadn't said no. She didn't say yes but she didn't say no and she didn't roll her eyes either or even scoff; she just very strategically said nothing about it, which means it was something she was thinking about right? Like maybe she's been considering it too, and just didn't know what to say so she didn't say no when he said it but maybe he should say it again just to be sure? But he couldn't; if he pushed it to far she would leave and then she'd never be with him and he really couldn't deal with that now that he knew who she was, well he couldn't deal with it before but now he really couldn't deal with it because Ladybug was perfect but the more he watched Marinette talk and joke and play and move and dance, the more he knew they were the same person but more complete now that he knew it. She hugged him and made him feel welcome and offered him a family and told him he belonged there and- he stopped.
He was going to drive himself nuts, he was already nearly having a heart attack in her room in the middle of the night if he had a crisis of the heart right then on top of it he would probably scream. The crisis was there wasn't one, there was absolutely no reason he shouldn't admit to himself that he utterly lo- stop. Stop, stop, not now, it's way too soon, she's your friend first and foremost and you will not do this right now.
He watched the shadows above her bed and he could see that she was still awake, probably on her phone judging by the light. Wasn't she tired? She had seemed pretty awake, and now there was no way he was going to be sleeping. He reached into his pocket and pulled out his own phone, trying desperately to push his affections from his mind. It didn't matter that she was completely perfect, she hadn't shown interest in Cat Noir so- well. He stopped again in the thought, thinking of the whole picture. Marinette had sort of shown interest in Adrien.
Ugh. Stop, it doesn't matter right now.
He opened her contact, taking some time to admire the selfie they had taken in the snow before typing out a message.
'A- Not going to sleep?'
He sent it and waited, smirking to himself as he watched the light above her bed waver and flash. Then he heard her chuckle.
After a moment his phone vibrated and he read her reply.
'M- I got a little woken up, and you? I'm assuming no since you're texting me from ten feet away.'
He laughed quietly to himself before discarding the blanket surrounding him and getting to his feet without a sound. He left his phone behind, choosing to pad silently up to her steps without it. He managed to make it all the way to the top before she spotted him, yelping in surprise and dropping her phone on her face.
He was still crouched in place on the top step but he had to grab the guardrail to keep from falling over with laughter, glad for the grip once she threw a pillow roughly at his face.
"You scared me!"
"I was only ten feet away," he reminded her with a smirk, "you're just unobservant."
She huffed sitting up and scowling at hi for a second before saying, "Well we are both awake now, want to try and sleep or do something else?"
"Hmm," Adrien deliberated. Now that he had thoroughly woken himself up with his wandering thoughts of love and- he cut it off. He had a good idea.
"Tikki and Plagg have been cooped up all day, care to check the city? It should wear us out enough to get some sleep eventually."
Before Marinette could respond a tiny black blur zipped into view, his glowing eyes wide as he latched on to Adrien's face.
"Please YES! Yes, let's leave, I can't take all this pink anymore and Tikki keeps trying to get me to eat her stupid cookies!"
"Cookies aren't STUPID," another small voice retaliated, Tikki flying into view. "You would like them if you just tried one!"
"No, I won't do it!" Plagg shouted, zipping towards Adrien's ring and knocking the metal with his fist like he was begging to be let in.
Adrien watched him for a little with an amused smirk before saying to Marinette, "Well, I guess I'm going out for a run either way, care to join me?"
She giggled into her hand, leveling him with a very Ladybug gaze that made his skin feel hot before saying, "Yeah, that sounds fun, bundle up though, it's freezing outside."
He grinned at her, his teeth so white they caught what little light there was. "Lucky for me I've got a very nice coat to wear that should do the trick."
"And I have a beanie that will do nicely," she snickered, watching as Adrien leapt from the raised platform her bed rested on and dashed to his bag. He transformed in a bright flash of green light that swelled and filled the room before there stood Cat Noir, grinning at her as he slipped on his coat. "Looks good even with the cat ears," Marinette chuckled, following him down to the lower level.
"Everything looks good with the cat ears because I look good with the cat ears," he replied, watching a little in awe as she transformed as well. Something about watching Ladybug slip on a coat and his gifts to Marinette made him jumpy, bouncing his weight as he pulled his coat close to him. He jumped in surprise when she walked over and threw his scarf around his neck, tying it tight before saying, "Let's go, kitty."
"Y-yes mam," he stuttered, and to his delight she just laughed. Focus, he reminded himself, trying to peel his mind away from obsessing over her laugh and her smile and just…everything. Focus.
He was trying to pick. What was his greatest moment, when was he at his happiest? He had a few scattered memories of times with his mother, his joy at being allowed to go to public school, when he first became Cat Noir. Now however, as time went on, more and more of his candidates for happiest memory had the same girl in it. It had her. In one form another, it all had her.
Was it when he first met Ladybug? No, probably not. As fantastic and amazing as that had been it wasn't all of her, so much was still confusing and obscure. Was it finding out who she really was? Maybe, but it was also such a terrifying moment that it was hard to say for sure. He slowly realized it was in smaller moments, small meaningful moments. When she reached out and put a gentle hand on his knee as he cried over his father's betrayal. She wasn't whole then but she had started to be, started to seem more complete to him the more he got to know her. When she leaned into him as they played Windwaker for the first time, or when she chased him away from her snacks with a laugh. When she looked down at him when she tackled him to the sidewalk with eyes that showed so much emotion and honesty and care and respect and- he hesitated to say love but there was that too. Not quite the love he sought after, but still love. Love for a partner, love for a friend, joy that he had come. Maybe it was when she met him outside of his house, bringing light to such a dark and cold place, making him feel warm. On the topic of warmth maybe it was even farther back, when she had first given him the jacket or shown him how much she considered him. Maybe it was when she bought his bell or maybe it was just when she laughed. Every time she laughed or smiled, those were candidates as well.
Or maybe it had been the AM hours of Christmas morning, where he chased her over rooftops and sang her silly songs until she started to throw snowballs at him. Maybe it was when she swung and leapt to his side, talking about the beauty of Paris in winter like it could even somehow compare to her. Maybe it was when she called him Adrien, even when he had the mask. Maybe it was when he called her Marinette, maybe it was when he called her 'lady'. Maybe Princess.
Or maybe it was this.
He shook his head to draw himself from his speculation, responding too late to a question Marinette had asked. "I'm sorry, what was that?"
She giggled, her Santa hat still sat on her head as she stood in the bakery's kitchen. "I had asked if you were listening but I guess that answers that," she laughed, rolling her eyes and settling her weight on one hip that somehow still carried all the sass of a superhero just without the spots.
"No, I'm listening, I just got distracted, what were you saying? I promise I'll pay attention now." He smiled at her in a pleading way, clasping his hands together and bouncing in place until she giggled and covered her face with one hand.
"You're so silly," she said a little breathlessly, peeking from between her fingers to see him grinning ridiculously wide as he smashed his own Santa hat over his head.
"No, I'm as serious as they come! Let's make these cookies. I am so ready."
He stood with his legs spread, hands on his hips and proudly displaying his borrowed apron from Tom that said, "Kiss the Baker" on it, one he had picked deliberately with a waggle of his eyebrow.
"Oh my god," she muttered, a laugh bubbling out as she turned back to the recipe. "Okay these are just simple cookies, the same ones I took you on the roof. Let's get everything we'll need."
"On it!" Adrien declared, snatching the list from her hands and charging into the store room with her hot on his heels, the two of them laughing and racing to get the right ingredients.
Yeah, maybe it was this.
It was so unreal, how happy he could be when she was there. It was the perfect storm, everything to make someone smile all thrown into one place until he felt like he would burst. It was Christmas Day spent in the home of people who genuinely liked him and cared for him. He could act silly and sing and make jokes to his heart's content without anyone making him feel bad or childish; sure, Lady teased him, but he never once felt foolish no matter how much he made a fool of himself. He had a funny hat, everything smelt delicious, he was wearing his new favorite sweater underneath his new favorite apron, and she was there. She danced in place while she thought sometimes, her face furrowed adorably as she examined the recipe. When she looked for things she would twirl on the ball of her foot, her own mood so infectiously bright it was like a vicious circle. The happier she was the happier he was, and the happier he was the happier she was. They built off each other until they both felt incredibly warm, sometimes catching each other's eye as they rooted around and laughing at nothing at all. He was already fairly set on dubbing 'making cookies with Marinette' as his happiest moment yet when they made to walk back into the kitchen and stopped dead in their tracks, eyes glued to the small bundled plant hanging from the doorframe.
"Oh my god that was so my dad," Marinette blurted out loud, mostly on impulse. Her voice was high and breathy, her entire body felt like it was burning. How could her father do this to her? She knew it was him, hung in just a way so they would only notice it as they were heading back. It was so awkward but there it was, mistletoe, and they were both staring right at it.
"I-I'm s-sorry don't even- just ignore that he's ridiculous I-" she was stumbling over her words and starting to panic, and Adrien, who was in much the same state, was confused. Was she flustered because she didn't want to kiss him or because she assumed he didn't want to kiss her? Because if it was the latter, hell no.
"W-well tis the season, huh, my lady?"
Marinette looked up so quickly the bauble of her Santa hat flung around her face thumping audibly against the back of her neck. She looked up into Adrien's face as he blushed, rubbing at his neck but trying for a charming smirk anyways. He looked silly in a Santa hat and cat sweater with that "Kiss the Baker" apron that was way too accurate right now, but he still looked incredibly handsome. Leave it to Adrien Agreste to pull off that look, and so well that it made her brain panic. However it was the blush she noticed most, smirking at her to disguise something else, ready to play off a rejection if it came to that.
He was hoping for it.
Of course he was this was still Cat Noir, but… it was also still Adrien. Adrien was nervous, hot in the face and unable to totally look her in the eye, choosing instead to examine the plant above them, but Cat Noir was still flirtatious enough to crack a joke about it. Brave enough to hope.
He was being respectful, had been ever since he arrived. He made a few jokes but he was mostly just her friend, overjoyed at her family's hospitality. He had told her of his feelings for Ladybug in the past, she knew that he harbored somewhat of a crush for her but she had thought that maybe…it had…changed? Maybe not faded but changed, like hers had. Her crush on Adrien was not gone not by a long shot, but it had changed. She was realizing now that maybe it just changed to include…all of him.
Because how adorable did Cat Noir look, his foot thumping anxiously against the store room floor. He might not have the mask and ears, but he was there, there in the flash of his cheeky smile.
"Tis the season," she replied, her voice much steadier and more sure. Playful, even.
"What?" he answered, his eyes shooting down to hers, widened in surprise. What had she said? Was that a yes?
It was when she had gathered a small handful of his sweater and apron into her hands so she could pull him down that he decided that yup, that was a yes. It was a yes and she had said yes and- and then she was kissing him.
It was meant to be short. Short, simple, sweet, and playful. A mistletoe kiss. Her heart had been racing, frantically demanding her brain to tell it if it was really going through with this but she had felt a surge of sudden confidence. She would be the one to fluster him for once, the tables would turn and he would be the stuttering mess but…but then...
She pulled him down, her lips finding his in one smooth motion, their softness and warmth making every thought go silent. It was just meant to be one, but there was something that changed. It was only a second, where their lips pressed together and her eyes slid closed, but it had been so soft. So gentle. She hadn't really intended it that way, she hadn't really intended anything she was just going to kiss him and pull away but it had instinctively been so…gentle. It was only meant to be a second. But then he kissed back.
He moved, returning the kiss in a way neither of them had expected. He had still been processing it, still working through that it was happening at all but there had been no moment of shock once the contact was made, only response. It was like a fact, as strange as that is to say. Their contact was a fact in time, something true and undeniable, so unmovable that his body was wired to react, to pull him in and guide him through it.
She was soft. And it was warm.
Later he would worry that he had gone too far, made it something he wasn't supposed to but just then neither of them minded. And that was…amazing.
Ladybug was- she was kissing him and he kissed back and that was okay.
God she was so warm…
Marinette pulled away, gasping for breath even though the kiss had only been a few seconds long, breathless for an entirely different reason. In those few short seconds Adrien's hands had shifted, one on the small of her back and the other spanning the space between her jaw and neck, cupping it gently. Their eyes opened and they stared at each other, Marinette slowly noticing that her hand was splayed across his chest but not pushing him away, the other resting on his hip. There was a second where neither of them reacted, just staring into each other's eyes, then a second more where a ferocious blush creeped across their faces, then another for them to fling themselves to opposite ends of the doorway. It was such a small space but they both separated instantly, clinging to the doorframe and staring at each other with bright red faces.
"Uh- uh I- u-um," Adrien was a mess, his heart pounding so frantically that he felt like he was going to collapse. Every inch of his skin felt like a live wire ready to electrocute both of them if he moved because now he knew. Now he knew what she felt like, how s-she- holy hell.
Just be her friend huh? Good freaking luck now, asshole.
He just stared at her, he had no idea what to do he had made it so much more intimate, was she angry? Was she upset? Was she- she…she was laughing.
She giggled delicately into her hand, her face still hot but her body slightly more relaxed as she looked at him.
"How very in the spirit," she giggled, a little breathlessly still her face still a bright red but a smile on her face. "That counts as a gift kitty."
"Can I have another then?" he found himself asking, a grin on his face but the hope a little too real. What was he doing did he seriously just say that to her?
Now she rolled her eyes, laughing at him and setting her hands on her hip before shaking her head. "Greedy, greedy," she replied, winking at him before walking into the kitchen as was their original intention. Internally her heart was beating a million beats per minute and she felt like she was going to shake apart because that, that was not a mistletoe kiss that was- that was- oh wow.
That was a kiss with Adrien, and it had been very, very good.
He followed behind, a little delayed and a little unfocused as he picked up their discarded ingredients (which they had dropped a little unceremoniously). He had just kissed Ladybug, a proper kiss, not even a little peck, and it was very real. He could still feel it, the soft pressure of her lips and the way her body molded to his, how her fingers spread out flat against his chest and the gentle heat of her hand resting on his hip, guiding him forward pulling him in. He could still feel the heat of her back on his fingertips and the softness of her face. He could still feel how it almost felt like a release, a snap of tension, like a sigh.
"Adrien? Focus, come on, cookies now." Marinette was looking at him, her voice a little shaky and her face still flushed but ultimately faring better than he was. It probably had to do somewhat with the confidence boost she got from watching him nearly pass out from a little kiss, admittedly it made her feel powerful even if she was almost freaking out herself.
"Cookies, right yup absolutely," he said in a rush, tripping over himself to set everything down. He was chanting in his mind as she started to measure things out. Friends friends friends friends be respectful don't stare friends friends be respectful oh god. They were friends, she was his best friend. She was amazing, talented, understanding, and kind. She cared about him, how he was doing and if he was okay.
Where was he going with this? Was this meant to dissuade him from getting distracted cause it really wasn't, in fact it made it worse way worse.
However as scatter brained as he was, he was happy. Happy was an understatement he felt like he was going to fly away if he wasn't careful. He was practically hovering. As time went on and it started to set in how fantastic this girl was and how he had just kissed her, how he kissed the girl of his dreams and she started it and- just, he could hardly believe it. He would chuckle to himself randomly, start laughing out of nowhere and bouncing in place and hopping around. He looked like an idiot but he didn't care, because this was it. This was his happiest moment, he was almost positive now. It summed up everything, every amazing thing all tied together in a beautiful scene for him to enjoy. There was Marinette, humming to herself the theme from Windfall Island as she moved fluidly through the bakery. Her necklace flashed every time she turned and each time she looked up at him, she would smile.
"Merry Christmas, my lady!" he announced randomly, sliding up to her and confidently grabbing her by the hand. She yelped in surprise and he spun her in place, strategically tipping her off balance so she would have to cling to him to remain upright. Instead of getting annoyed though, she laughed, blushing fiercely and looking up at him.
"Merry Christmas, alley cat."
They worked together in the kitchen, Adrien contributing in the form of catastrophic mistakes that Marinette would then have to fix but she didn't seem to mind. He was actually trying as well he was just a disaster in the kitchen, he had no idea how to do anything so he ended up goofing off a lot. Somewhere around the step where they had to roll the dough into balls he felt a nudge in his pocket.
"What's up Plagg?" he asked aloud confidently since the only one there was Marinette, and it struck him once again how much of a relief it was to have someone in on the secret.
He looked down into his pocket to see Plagg pushing his phone out into the open. "Answer your phone, it's buzzing too much!"
Adrien pulled a face that betrayed his unease but when he lifted his phone into his hands and unlocked the screen he laughed in relief, because every message was from Nino.
'N- Merry Christmas dude!'
'N- How is Marinette's what are you up to?'
'N- Are you having a good time, what are you guys doing?'
'N- Dude if you don't answer I'm just gonna assume you're making out with her.'
Marinette looked up from the cookies when she heard Adrien snickering, one hand trying to smother the sound but his other clutching his phone.
Adrien met her gaze and he seemed close to tears of laughter before he showed her the message. She blinked at it in confusion for a moment before abruptly barking in laughter, bending over and holding onto the counter for support.
"W-well," she finally managed between laughs, looking up at him with a red-faced grin, "I guess he wasn't wrong?"
Adrien blushed slightly at the comment but continued to laugh, before his entire expression leveled out in sudden revelation, then erupted back into a mischievous grin.
"Can I screw with Nino, please? Please it will be so funny."
Marinette raised an eyebrow at him, straightening up to cross her arms. "What did you have in mind?"
Adrien started to type something out, Plagg carefully looking around before floating up to his shoulder to oversee what was happening.
"No, no," Plagg cackled, "Say 'Well you're not totally wrong,' it flows better."
"Oh go- what are you doing?" Marinette demanded, but Adrien had already sent it when he showed it to her. It just read:
'A- Sorry for not getting back to you but, well, you're not totally wrong.'
"Oh my god Adrien!" Marinette squealed, but the idea of their friend getting that message was such a horrid mix of hilarious and mortifying that she wasn't sure how to respond.
Adrien was going to say something when his phone buzzed in his hand, the response so immediate that he was already laughing before he had even read it.
'N- What does that mean!?'
Adrien was laughing so hard that he could hardly type, Marinette a blushing bouncing mess behind him as he did.
"Let's see if we can get the phone to fall," he proposed between laughs, finishing his response and showing it to Marinette.
'A- God bless Mistletoe.'
"Too much?" he asked, acknowledging that Marinette looked horrified, but to his delight she shook her head.
"No it's hilarious he's just going to lose his mind."
"I'm taking that as permission!" he exclaimed, pressing the send button and placing his phone on the counter top. Then he crossed his arms and waited.
There was a pause, where nothing happened at all, then all at once the phone started vibrating like crazy.
Adrien and Marinette were laughing hysterically, watching through their tears as the phone inched closer and closer to the edge. There was even a phone call that drove it the last few inches before it plummeted to the ground, Adrien having to dive to catch it.
"Oh no, Adrien my phone as well," Marinette giggled breathlessly, holding out her now desperately vibrating phone with Alya's contact on the screen.
"Man he told her fast!"
Marinette's phone buzzed more persistently and she giggled helplessly when she saw it was a phone call.
"Should I answer?"
"No, no let them hang for a little, we can talk to them later," he chuckled, wedging his phone between a few items on the counter to keep it from escaping and enjoying the clanging ring as it tried to skitter away.
"Our friends are going to go nuts," she sighed, shaking her head at the ridiculousness that was her life just then.
"I know, it's so funny," Adrien snickered, falling back into his fit of giggles every time his phone went off. "Nino will get tired eventually."
"Not Alya," Marinette replied, just when the house phone went off.
"Is that her?" Adrien asked, jogging over to read the contact info and discovering that it was indeed Alya.
Marinette sighed again, readjusting her Santa hat in an almost nervous gesture. "She'll call my parents next if I don't answer, I'll keep it vague."
Marinette crossed to the phone right when it was on its last ring, taking a deep breathe before pulling it off the receiver.
"MARINETTE OH MY GOD WHAT!"
"Hey Alya," Marinette chuckled anxiously, holding the phone a little ways away from her ear.
"Nino just texted me is that real or did he make that up? DID YOU REALLY!?"
"Well it was mistletoe and that is what you do with mistletoe," she responded vaguely, watching as Adrien clamped his hands over his mouth to keep from laughing too loud. Marinette wondered quietly if this was heaven or hell.
"DID YOU SERIOUSLY KISS ADRIEN UNDER THE MISTLETOE YES OR NO!?"
Marinette sighed, emptying her lungs before drawing in a long shaky breath.
"OH MY GOD."
Adrien watched as Marinette bowed her head until it was resting on the countertop, thumping it gently against the surface again and again as Alya ranted and cheered. It was beyond hilarious and he probably wasn't helping her embarrassment by winking at her any time she looked up at him.
This was mortifying to endure, but there was also a hot nameless emotion buried beneath it all, making her blush and smile even as she continued to gently hit her head against the counter.
Once Alya realized she wasn't going to be getting much out of Marinette she told her to enjoy the rest of her Christmas, with an obvious insinuation behind it before hanging up. Marinette dropped the phone roughly on the receiver and groaned, looking up when Adrien patted her hair.
"There, there" he said soothingly, obviously entertained by the whole mess he had created, "if it makes you feel better I've got like a hundred texts from Nino to sort through."
"They are so gonna think we're dating now," Marinette sighed, laughing quietly as she returned to their abandoned cookies.
She didn't think much of the silence at first before she heard hesitantly, "W-well I can think of worse things."
She couldn't help her sharp inhale, spinning around and almost slipping on the tile as she did so, staring at Adrien with wide eyes. He was red, and she imagined she was much the same though she stared right at him while he looked anywhere but. He grinned and laughed like it was a joke but his inability to maintain eye contact gave him away as a nervous wreck, his flush creeping down his neck and his Adam's apple bobbing as he swallowed.
He stood at the opposite end of the bakery's kitchen near his still buzzing phone, and for a while the vibration was the only sound she could hear.
She didn't really think before she spoke, the words falling out in a rush that was disconnected from the better half of her brain, said on pure impulse.
"Cookies first, kitten."
She turned her face away from him before she could see him react, screaming internally at what she had let slip so randomly. She stared at the mounds of cookie dough without really seeing them, the back of her neck tingling as she prayed for death.
Adrien was frozen, choking on air as he stared at her back. Cookies first, kitten. That's what she had said, she had said first, as if to imply that there was something else after it. Something else to come, something else to consider. Cookies first, what did that mean!? What came next?! She didn't say yes but she didn't say no, does that mean maybe?!
Jesus Christ, he wasn't sure he could do this, because he wanted so desperately for it to mean maybe.
Please, please mean maybe.
The memory of her kiss was forefront in his mind, the possibility of earning it again one day just- he-
Cookies first, Adrien. Finish the cookies.
He moved robotically at first, fumbling hands trying to assist an equally flustered Marinette, but after a while and a few ridiculous mistakes the atmosphere began to ease, and Adrien recalled for the millionth time why being with Marinette was so fantastic.
She made everything okay, she always did.
They spent the cooking time talking, trading jokes and discussing their true intentions for the seven dozen cookies they had prepared. There was about an hour that neither Tom nor Sabine could really say where the kids were, but somewhere off in Paris the superhero duo of Ladybug and Cat Noir swung and leapt through the city, knocking on windows and presenting pajama wearing children with a few cookies each. There were hundreds of photos taken of the two heroes waving from rooftops with Santa hats on their heads and in the end no one seemed to mind that the statues in the park were now bare, their hats stolen by the heroes themselves.
Seeing children stare at them with wide shining eyes as Cat Noir leaned in the window, passing them a few still warm cookies with a smile and a wink was one of the greatest feelings there was. Adrien was fairly certain one particularly avid fanboy was going to pass out when Ladybug handed him a treat, saying in her sweet voice that she hoped he was having a happy holiday.
As soon as they had shed the last of their load they sprinted for home, undoing their transformations and turning the corner just as Tom walked outside with a coat on, a worried frown on his face.
"There you two are!" he shouted, grimacing at them. "Why didn't you answer your phone?"
Adrien paled slightly but Marinette just smiled apologetically, dashing forward to hug her father. "I'm sorry! We were just walking around I didn't feel it go off!"
Adrien watched in anxious anticipation as Tom frowned a moment more, before letting his expression soften into a small smile.
"Well I figured you two were alright as long as you were together but your mother wants to open the rest of the gifts now."
"Yes papa!" Marinette exclaimed, looking over her shoulder at Adrien who still stood stock still in the snow, afraid that he would be scolded or worse sent home. "Let's go Adrien don't you want to see your presents?"
It took him a second to respond, adjusting to the fact that what he had thought would be real trouble blew over so quickly, before stammering out, "Uh yeah!"
"Come on then, up you go," Tom laughed, his frown utterly replaced with the man's usual joy as he ushered them inside. "Did you two see Cat Noir and Ladybug while you were out? According to the news they are running around and surprising children for Christmas isn't that great?"
Tom looked towards Adrien for an answer, and in response he just said, "U-uh yes! We saw them running over the rooftops they didn't stop to talk to us though. It's a shame, I'm a huge fan of Ladybug!"
Marinette snorted and tried to disguise the sound with a cough, shooting a glance over her shoulder that would have best accompanied a tongue stuck out mockingly. He just grinned at her.
The two kids darted out in front, running up the stairs to greet Marinette's mother who stood near the tree.
"Present time!" she called, having already sorted everything out into piles with Marinette's gifts sat next to an equally large pile of Adrien's. He did a double take when he saw them, feeling like he swallowed his tongue when he realized that her parents had actively made sure he had just as many gifts to open as their own daughter.
"I- I don't-"
"Merry Christmas, Adrien," Tom cut him off, smiling at him as he walked past the boy to his own pile, sitting down on the sofa and drawing them into his lap.
Marinette had to physically push Adrien down in front of his things before taking her own seat, leaning against him in what she hoped was a supportive manner. He seemed to appreciate it.
"Alright!" Sabine announced, gesturing towards her family as a whole (purposefully including Adrien) for them to start. "Hope you like them, Merry Christmas!"
Adrien was slow to move at first, shaking his head slightly to focus his mind before reaching out for his pile.
It was surreal and amazing and- and overwhelming. He had only know them for a week or so, but each gift had him in mind. Every time he opened something Tom and Sabine had some reason that they had picked it.
Another ornament, this time of a camera since he was a model.
A Gameboy advance themed cover for his phone since he loved video games.
A framed picture of him and Tom in their matching sweaters, having been wrapped and placed under the tree just that morning.
An old book about the history of the "Console Wars" between Playstation and Xbox from a friend of Tom's.
He snickered at the cut pun on the tag of his last present, declaring a cheery 'Mari Christmas' that he very much appreciated.
"What is this?" Adrien said aloud, pulling something shapeless and green from a bag and flattening it out gently with his hand. When Marinette peeked over she giggled and looked away quickly, a soft pink dusting her cheeks.
"I-it isn't very good I made it very last minute the day before Christmas eve but- uh-"
"Is this LINK'S HAT!?" he demanded, recognizing the shape once he found the opening. It was incredibly simple, just a green bit of cloth cut in such a way that it could be worn exactly like the Hero of Hyrule. "Marinette did you make me Link's hat!?"
Her blush came on a bit stronger, looking over into his shining green eyes filled with joy before smiling happily. "Y-yeah I thought you would like it!"
"Like it!?" he shouted, pulling it onto his head in place of the Santa hat and bouncing on the cushion, "Like it!? Oh my god Mari!"
He started to laugh, and even to him the sound was completely unshackled of any negative emotion. There was no hesitation, no nervousness that he was being imperfect. He just laughed, in a warm and welcoming home on Christmas day.
When he laughed the sound was clear and light, making everyone in the room start to smile. It was impossible not to with a sound like that, impossible not to feel that same unhindered joy.
Here was a boy who grew up in a cold home, laughing like a boy who had never seen sadness.
And Marinette laughed too.
On each of their phones was a hundred unread messages, and downstairs was an unassuming bundled plant hanging on a doorframe that held the start of something else. Outside snow fell and people sang beneath shining lights all over the city, little kids running to their parents with cookies in their mouths spouting a fantastic story about two superheroes knocking on their window. And in a family bakery on the second floor was two smiling parents, and two laughing teens.
What would come after the holidays concluded neither of them had any idea, though they both had their hopes. They were still confused, still adjusting to the complete person who sat beside them but it was perfect. It was all…so perfect.
Because…that other person made everything okay.
They always did.