AN: Yes! Part 2! Here we go.
Gabriel Agreste was the winter, attempting to freeze Adrien where he stood, leaving him cold and complacent.
The day he called Adrien into his office, he knew that something was wrong. The only times his father willingly called on him were when he needed something, or when Adrien had done something that upset him. He expected that this situation was one of the latter.
He could feel a layer of frost seeming to grow on the walls as he made his way down the hallway to his father's office.
Once Adrien made had made his way inside the small room, Gabriel began to speak almost immediately.
"Listen, Adrien. Things at the shop are going well. Very well. Actually, better than I had expected from a small project such as this. But," his father's eyes were cold, and he motioned to a chair in front of his desk. "There are some things that concern me. Have a seat."
Adrien knew, then, that his original suspicions were right. Something was always wrong when his father spoke to him long enough to have him sit down.
He felt the frost begin to creep up his neck.
He was silent as Gabriel spoke to him, starting with sales and reviews and quarter reports. Adrien began to wonder why he had bothered to call on him in the first place. And then the conversation shifted.
He began asking about Marinette.
With every question Adrien became more worried, and as he watched his father frown with every answer he gave, he knew that it was over.
And that's exactly what his father said.
"Listen to me. You need to stay away from that girl. She is what is making this shop run as smoothly as it is. I've seen her sales, and I've read reviews from enough people to know. She needs to continue to work as efficiently as possible. She doesn't need any distractions from her work. That includes distractions from you."
Adrien felt the frost make its way through his chest. He heard himself speak before he registered the words.
"But Father, she-"
Gabriel cut him short, raising a hand to silence his son.
"You don't need any distractions either, Adrien. Don't forget that."
Any arguments Adrien had were stopped there. It was a long minute before his voice cut through the silence laid out in front of them.
The frost blurred his vision, then. He was too cold to move.
It was his father that shocked him into action, and even after his words hit him, it took him a while to move.
"You are dismissed."
Adrien left the office hurt and angry, storming down the hallways to his room. He closed his door and pressed his back against the cold surface, sliding to the floor. He pulled out his phone, squinting at the screen as it lit up in front of him, and scrolled through his contacts for a few seconds before finding Marinette's. Just her name sent a small jolt of energy through his body, and he felt it nestle itself at the bottom of his stomach, sending warmth through him.
He lost track of how long he sat there, his thumb hovering over the small black lettering of her name, before he turned his phone off and threw it to the end of his bed.
He felt the frost begin to melt, but for some reason, it hurt.
Adrien watched the window in front of him, elbow on the table and his chin in his open palm, counting the people who stopped to consider coming into the shop. So far he had counted 32.
So far all 32 people had come in.
He pulled his eyes away from a couple who had just slowed to read the name of the sign, to look in the direction of the front counter.
To look at Marinette.
There she stood, smile as bright as the sun as she packed pastries into bags and called out names written on coffee cups in the small, curly handwriting she used for customers' entertainment. Nothing phased her as people (and orders) began piling in, and instead seemed to be moving like a perfect machine, never missing a single beat as she practically floated behind the light green countertop. His breath caught in his throat as she looked up from the pastries she was packing, catching his eye. He felt his stomach turn to lead as she smiled at him, but he managed a wink in return. Her face turned pink as she nearly dropped the apple pie she had been holding and Adrien let out a laugh, the lead in his stomach flipping.
Her face grew an even darker shade of pink as she turned back to the customer on the other side of the counter, setting the pie down and apologizing multiple times. Adrien could see the customer smiling as she waved the girl's frantic apologies off, but still she persisted, and even went as far as to give her a free cookie to take with her. He smiled, watching as the woman left the shop and out into the city.
When he turned to look back at Marinette, his heart nearly stopped.
She was dancing, her head bobbing to the song playing over the shop's speakers. Adrien watched as her pigtails swayed with her hips, and her lips quietly sang along to the music. She moved from one shining chrome machine to the next, filling the shop with cinnamon and pumpkin spice, never missing a beat or spilling a drop. She was flawless. His smile grew as he watched, ignoring the stack of homework he had piled on the table next to him. He wouldn't do it without Marinette, of course.
It had been nearly five months since she had brought him a cookie and homework answers, and he's refused to work without her since. It had become a routine - come to the shop, wait for Marinette to go on break, and work on their homework together (though if he were being completely honest with himself, not much homework got done). Then she would go back to work, and he would go home. His house would be silent, cold, and empty.
He would be alone.
Which is exactly why he came to the coffee shop every day. Marinette's warmth radiated in all directions, seeming to touch every corner of the room. She was always so happy; always smiling and singing and baking the most amazing pastries that Adrien had ever eaten. She was the summer, and she brought a light to his life that he had never experienced before.
She was the summer, and she melted away the layer of frost that his winter home had covered him in.
This was one time he would choose not to listen to an order his father gave him.
Marinette pulled off her apron, gathering her books from her locker as she went on her break. She turned to head out to meet Adrien, but didn't make it out of the back of the store before Ayla cornered her.
"So are you gonna do it today or what?"
Marinette felt her face heat up, and she averted Ayla's gaze as she attempted to scoot around her to the door.
"W-what? I don't know what you're talking about, Ayla! We- we should go. There are customers and-"
"Oh come on girl! You know what I'm talking about. You need to ask him out already!" Ayla's expression became that of amusement as Marinette dropped one of her books with a small squeak. "At the very least, ask him to study somewhere other than his father's coffee shop? It's been like 3 years."
Marinette bent down to pick up her dropped book, thankful to avoid Ayla's gaze. "It's been five months and thirteen days. We barely know each other."
Ayla sighed as two more of Marinette's books slipped from her hands. She crouched with her, helping to gather her materials.
"Mari, there are people who get married after knowing each other for five months. You can ask Adrien on a date. Have confidence!"
Marinette scrambled to her feet, practically running from Ayla as she pushed her way through the door to the front of the shop. "Easy for you to say, Ayla. You practically ooze confidence."
She could hear Ayla push through the doors behind her, following her from the back towards the front of the shop. She just needed to make it out from behind the counter and she'd be home free, but her friend had other plans.
The slightly taller girl pushed her way in front of Marinette, blocking her from the opening to the front. Her eyes blazed with determination from behind her glasses, and Marinette knew that there was no escaping now. She could hear the voices of customers and the scraping of silverware on plates from just around the corner, and she longed to be able to blend in with the crowd for a bit. Anything to avoid one of Ayla's pep-talks.
"Listen to me Marinette. I see the way you look at each other. I definitely see the way you look at him. You're both stupid for each other and don't even realize. I bet he's got the same confidence issue as you do, and just doesn't have the guts to ask you out. Which is exactly why you need to make the first move," Marinette huffed out a laugh, attempting to edge her way past her friend without her realizing. But Ayla was too quick, and blocked her once more with her right arm, pressing her weight against the wall to stop Marinette. And with a handful of books, she wasn't in much of a position to make any progress of getting through. Ayla took her silence as a pass to continue.
"I've seen the way he looks at you, babe. I know you don't believe me, but it's true. He's crazy for you. And you know," her voice turned soft, the corners of her eyes crinkling as she smiled, "maybe he just doesn't have the guts to ask you. Or maybe he doesn't even realize it yet himself. But I can guarantee it, Mari. He feels for you. He feels a lot. Just listen to me, this once. Ask him out. Okay?"
Marinette stood silent for a moment, taking in what Ayla had said. She felt her eyebrows pull together in thought, and she watched as Ayla's small grin became a smirk.
"Besides, if he says no, I can always kick his ass for you."
And that was it. Marinette squeaked and dropped her books for a second time that day, and she could hear Ayla laughing as she fell to the floor to pick them up. Her friend wasn't far behind, crouching next to her and scooping up her notebooks and papers that had fallen next to them.
Once everything was collected, Marinette stood quickly, giving Ayla a look of determination as she did so.
"Maybe I can do it today," she said, nodding reassuringly (more for her benefit than Ayla's), before her determined frown became an expression of worry, "But… No promises."
She pushed her way to the front of the shop, Ayla's laughter ringing out behind her.
"What did you get for number 23?"
"What's your favorite color?"
Marinette smiled as she answered, "Pink."
She watched as Adrien made a slight humming sound, pretending to take extensive notes on the small questions he'd been asking her as they finished their philosophy homework. She laughed to herself, glancing at him through the fringe of her hair. He was looking at her, as well, a smirk spreading across his face.
Marinette felt another wave of heat crawling up her neck at the sight.
"I don't know what that smirk is for. If you write down my favorite color as your answer, you're guaranteed to be wrong." It came out as more of a soft, unsure whisper rather than the confident jab she had meant, but the slight falter of Adrien's grin brought a small bout of confidence to her.
Maybe she could ask him today…
She inhaled, taking in the smell of the cinnamon rolls and chocolate chip muffins that surrounded her, and spoke.
"Um… Adrien, I was wondering-"
She was cut short as one of the phones on the table in front of them began vibrating, the screen lighting up and a harsh ringtone crying out between them.
"Oh, uh," Adrien gave her an apologetic smile as he reached for the phone, pulling it toward him. "I'm sorry, Mari. I need to take this. Give me a minute."
A simultaneous flood of relief and hurt flooded through Marinette, and she sunk a bit lower in her seat as Adrien swiped his finger across his screen, holding the phone to his ear.
His voice was much more serious than it normally was, and it had her worried.
"Oh, Nino. Hey man, what's up?"
She watched Adrien's body visibly relax, and he sat up a bit higher in his seat at the sound of the voice on the other end of his phone.
"No I haven't seen it yet. Yeah…. Yeah we should watch it sometime this weekend. I'll come to your place. Uh," he looked up at Marinette, his cheeks growing pink as he covered his mouth, lowering his head and speaking lowly. "Hey man, can I call you back? I'm with… Yeah, yeah I'm with her now. Yeah…"
Adrien flinched as the voice on the other end of the line grew louder, and Marinette stifled a laugh as he pulled the phone away from his ear a few inches.
"Y-yeah man. No promises. But… Yeah. Okay. I'll call you later. Alright. Bye." He turned back to Marinette, and smiled.
She swore her heart stopped as he ran his fingers through his hair.
"I'm sorry, that was my friend," he laughed as she frantically waved her arms, assuring him that it was okay. He continued, leaning over the table to look at her seriously. "Hey, what were you going to ask me earlier? I kind of cut you off, I'm really sorry."
Marinette heard herself speaking before the sentence fully registered in her mind.
"Oh, I was going to ask what you got for number 25."
Adrien smiled, and Marinette swore he rivaled the sun.