Disclaimer: I do not own Miraculous Ladybug.
By: Princess Kitty1
RE: Twenty Sixteen
2 hours ago
Tease me all you want, but I really can't get out of bed this morning. I've made several halfhearted attempts and the covers sucked me right back in every time. This is terrible. I have important things to do today.
Help me, Bugi-nette Kenobi. You're my only hope.
Adrien yawned as he walked to the café table, balancing a caddy of drinks in one hand and dragging his carry-on with the other. The airport was as busy as always: men in suits trying to conduct business in cramped plastic seats, children running circles around their tired parents, people catching quick naps on the floor of their terminal, and security guards keeping an eye on all of them. But at least this morning, unlike so many of his previous trips to the airport, Adrien had friendly faces to look at.
"Here we go. One caramel frappe for Chloe, a regular coffee for Nino, and a soy hazelnut latte for Alya, extra espresso," he said as he lowered the caddy to the table.
Alya, who looked even more tired than Adrien felt, grabbed her drink as if her life depended on it. "Oh thank God."
Adrien passed Nino and Chloe their drinks, then sat in the empty seat beside Chloe and lowered his head to the table. "Wake me up when it's time to leave," he mumbled.
"Quick, now's your chance, sneak us one of those croissants he's got in his bag," Nino said, presumably to Alya.
Adrien pulled his carry-on under the table and tightened his legs around it. "Stay back, you fiends. These are Marinette's croissants," he said. And despite his exhaustion he had to smile at the happy flutter in his stomach, because he would be seeing Marinette in a couple of hours. Marinette, his love, his Lady, who he hadn't seen in almost two months. Earlier that morning, her parents had loaded his bag with pastries, fresh out of the oven and packaged with care, then hugged him as if he was their own son before sending him on his way.
"How long are you staying with her, anyway?" Nino asked. He removed the lid from his coffee cup and blew across the surface. "You didn't pack much."
"Just the weekend," Adrien said. "Last time I stayed the whole week, neither of us got any work done—"
"Gross," Chloe snapped.
"—because we went sightseeing."
Alya laughed. "Is that what they're calling it these days?"
Adrien's cheeks burned. Well, they weren't wrong. "What about you two? As I recall, you're using sightseeing as an excuse to stay in California a few extra days."
Nino choked on his coffee. Alya's cheeks reddened. They'd been together for a year and had only recently made their relationship Facebook official. Adrien could see why Marinette predicted it would take them at least four more years before they realized they might as well get married.
Chloe picked up her phone and checked the screen. "While I'd love to stay and listen to boring couple banter, I have a flight to catch."
"Where are you even going?" Alya asked her.
"For now, to visit my dear friend Prince Ali and be pampered like the royalty I am," Chloe said as she stood from her chair and picked up her bag and drink. "After that, who knows? Maybe I'll seek enlightenment on a mountain somewhere."
Adrien smiled at her. Chloe had been in therapy for several months, and had recently concluded that she needed to leave Paris if she wanted to get out of her own head. He hoped it would do her some good; she'd already come a long way from drinking herself into a stupor every weekend, but she had yet to give up on the idea that her cancer's return was inevitable, and it continued to hold her back.
He stood from his chair and wrapped Chloe up in an enormous hug. "I'll miss you, Chlo," he said.
She kissed his cheek. "You know Prince Ali is dying to see you, so don't be a stranger. But if you're bringing Marinette along, do me a favor and wait until after I've left the country."
Adrien rolled his eyes. Chloe claimed that she still hadn't forgiven Marinette for the Ladybug thing, but seeing as she hadn't chased her away from him yet, he imagined that her ill will was at least partially an act. "When are you going to admit that you like her?" he asked.
Chloe pulled Adrien's sunglasses out of his shirt pocket, snapped them open, and perched them on her head. "When hell freezes over," she replied.
"Wait a sec, Chloe," Nino said. He got up and patted his jeans pockets until he reached into one and withdrew a small USB drive. He walked around the table and held it out to her. "Made you a playlist for your adventuring. It's kind of a queen-bee-versus-the-world sort of thing, and unique to you, so try not to leak it online."
Chloe stared at the USB drive. She looked up at Nino. And then she stepped forward and threw her free arm around his neck.
"I don't hate you, you know," she said.
He slapped his hand over his mouth. It was as close to a love confession as she would ever get.
Nino smiled and hugged Chloe back. "Great," he said, "I don't hate you either."
She let go of him, took the USB drive and tucked it into her jacket pocket, then walked off as if she hadn't shown any emotion whatsoever. "I'll see you peasants later," she called over her shoulder.
Adrien, whose heart still raced from Chloe's almost-confession, laughed to himself. A part of him wanted to go with her to make sure she'd be okay. They'd been together for so many years, protecting and defending each other from everything life threw at them, that the thought of her being out in the world by herself made him nervous. But he had to be believe that she'd be fine on her own. He couldn't be her knight in shining armor forever.
Nino clapped Adrien on the shoulder. "Alya and I should get going, too. Our flight's about to start boarding. How about yours?"
"Mine doesn't board for another half hour," Adrien said. He checked his phone and perked up when he saw a reply from Marinette in his inbox. "I'll be in Milan just in time for lunch."
Alya got to her feet and pulled up the handle on her carry-on luggage. "I know that you'll probably forget this entire morning the moment you see Marinette, but do tell her that her best friend says hi."
"And her best friend's boyfriend," Nino added.
Alya kissed his cheek. "Yes, the boyfriend too."
Adrien grabbed his backpack full of pastries and slung it over his shoulder, then gave both Nino and Alya a hug. "You two be careful over there," he said. "Alya, keep an eye on him. Don't let him drink too much before his show or he'll go experimental on the crowd."
"Gotcha," Alya said. "And don't you distract Marinette too much. She's a busy woman."
Adrien smiled at her as innocently as he could. "Me? A distraction? Never."
He waved them off as they headed in the direction of their gate, then he checked the nearest flight list for his. It took a little over an hour to get from Paris to Milan by plane. He'd have himself a nice cat nap so he could be fresh and awake for Marinette, though he knew that even without the nap he'd be fresh and awake for her anyway. Nine months into their relationship and the sight of her still left him thunderstruck.
The best part of his trip to Milan? Marinette had no idea he was coming. He'd mentioned having important things to do—certainly nothing could be more important than visiting his Lady—but he hadn't gone into specifics. As far as she knew, he had plans in Paris that weekend.
Adrien found his gate with ease, took up an unoccupied seat, and sent his father a text message letting him know he'd made it through airport security. Then he opened his email.
RE: Twenty Sixteen
7 minutes ago
A Star Wars reference?
Where is my good morning cat pun? )-:
RE: Twenty Sixteen
15 minutes ago
In my awake brain—which, coincidentally, I left at home.
It's times like these that make me wish I could send emails to the past. Had this been a year ago, you would have been shocked by your own eagerness for cat puns. I'd have to include a footnote: The Ladybug of the present has fallen head-over-heels in love with Chat Noir, which he warned her she would do, but did she listen? No, she did not. She only has herself to blame for her newfound addiction to comedy.
RE: Twenty Sixteen
Remember the time I suggested you ought to jump into the Seine?
I'm repeating myself now.
Go jump into the Seine.
So you'll wake up, I mean.
RE: Twenty Sixteen
That's not what you mean AT ALL, Marinette. You're so cruel. The cruelest girlfriend I've ever had. You snatch my heart right out of my chest, then you leave the country with it. I'm going to go withdraw a ridiculous amount of money from my bank account and use it to wipe my tears.
(I do have to disappear for a bit. Talk to you soon, my Lady!)
Marinette set her phone down with a pout and looked out her office window. Gianmarco Leuzzi was all about the future: he'd stationed his fashion empire in a brand-new skyscraper with views of the entire city of Milan. Marinette couldn't complain; she loved the view, the office, her job, and her boss—she'd learned more from Gianmarco Leuzzi in the last five months than she had in her four years of university. She loved her tiny apartment and the architecture that reminded her so much of home.
The only downside to Milan was that it had no Adrien.
After just a month of dating, she'd desperately wanted to ask him to go with her. Getting to see her Chat Noir every day had ruined single life for her forever. She couldn't stand the thought of having him at long distance again. But she also couldn't separate Adrien from his father while the two of them were making so much progress on their relationship, so she'd told him to stay.
Besides, it wasn't like they hadn't seen each other on holidays and weekends and whenever else the opportunity presented itself. It kept their relationship in a perpetual state of new. Each meeting, being the first meeting in some time, sparked enough excitement and giddiness to keep them smiling for hours.
Marinette turned back to the designs on her computer screen. She needed to put the finishing touches on at least two more before she went to lunch. She'd promised her friend Lila—a distant cousin of Alexa's—that she would check out a new restaurant with her.
As she worked, she thought about how she'd break the news to Adrien that she planned on staying in Italy for another year, then looking for work in New York after that. She knew she would go back to Paris eventually, but now that she'd gotten a taste of life abroad, she felt like a snowball rolled off a hill. She wanted to keep moving, accumulating experience and contacts until the grand opening of her own boutique would be one of the most highly anticipated events in the fashion world.
And even though the past year had taught her that her boyfriend was as needy and affectionate as, well, a cat, she still worried. Would he want to stick with her through all that? Would he be okay with their relationship taking a backseat while she pursued her dream?
By the time her lunch hour rolled around, she had successfully thought herself into a funk. She almost sent Alya a message before she remembered Alya was on a flight to the United States. Her mother was an option, but Sabine wouldn't see the message until after the bakery's lunch rush ended.
So Marinette saved her progress on the designs and grabbed her purse, determined to distract herself with food instead. Her phone chimed on her way out of the office.
RE: Twenty Sixteen
I'm hungryyyy. What's a cat supposed to eat around here?
RE: Twenty Sixteen
3 minutes ago
You live in the gourmet food capitol of the world and you're asking me?
Marinette emerged from the building and stepped into the warm spring sunshine. It was a gorgeous afternoon, so beautiful that she changed her mind about taking the metro and decided she'd catch a bus instead. She made it to the nearest stop just as a bus arrived to let off a few passengers, and although it was somewhat crowded, she managed to find a seat near the back.
The restaurant Lila wanted to meet at was in the city center. Marinette sent her a text to let her know she was on her way, then checked her email again.
RE: Twenty Sixteen
2 minutes ago
That's exactly why I can't decide. You pick for me, buginette. I don't feel like walking much.
Marinette shook her head, but tried to conjure up a mental map of Paris and its restaurants. She knew of a few good places in the vicinity of the Agreste mansion. She also knew of a few good places around her house. But Adrien had mentioned having things to do that day, so he might have been somewhere else. She frowned and hit reply.
RE: Twenty Sixteen
Are you home or somewhere else?
Marinette admired the city of Milan through the bus window. Although her Italian had improved a lot in five months, she still didn't trust herself to go exploring on her own without getting lost. She couldn't wait for the day when she could wander around the way she did back in Paris, going wherever her whims suited her, discovering new places to eat and hang out. Now that warmer weather was on the horizon, she'd have to find somewhere like her rooftop balcony back home. She'd had some of her best ideas out in the fresh air.
Her phone vibrated, pulling her out of her reverie. The bus slowed as it approached another stop, and Marinette opened Adrien's email.
He'd sent her an image. An oddly familiar image of a comfortingly familiar hand pointing a thumbs up at an oddly familiar cathedral. A cathedral that, if she wasn't mistaken, was the Milan Cathedral.
"I'm gonna kill him," she murmured in French.
Marinette stood up and squeezed past the couple boarding the bus. The moment her feet hit the pavement, she took off running. She could see the cathedral's spires over the tops of the nearby buildings, and pedestrian traffic grew thicker as she drew closer, but she didn't slow down.
"I'm gonna kill him, I'm gonna kill him, I'm going to kill him," she panted as she dodged people walking in the opposite direction and burst into the Piazza Duomo. As usual, it was packed with dozens of tourists snapping photographs of the cathedral, its surrounding structures, and the monument of Italy's first king. Marinette stopped and scanned the crowd. Plenty of blondes around, but…
Standing by himself with a large backpack on his shoulder was her blonde. Her kitty cat. Her ridiculous, pun-loving, surprise-visiting boyfriend. All thoughts of strangling him left her mind immediately.
She could have walked around the square and snuck up behind him, but there was no way she'd miss the look on his face when he saw her. Because even now, nine months into their relationship, it was still the same look: the brightening of his eyes, the general upward motion of everything—brows, mouth, shoulders and chest as he breathed in—and the twitch of his hands, impatient to touch her.
Marinette started across the square. When Adrien spotted her, he slipped his phone into his jacket pocket and strolled leisurely forward, as if he hadn't just flown to another country to visit her on a whim. They met each other halfway.
"You couldn't just get lunch in Paris?" Marinette asked.
"I could," Adrien said, "but everyone else was going somewhere and I didn't want to eat by myself."
She threw her arms around his neck. "Oh, my poor minou," she murmured before he pulled her into a kiss that made fireworks explode behind her eyelids. Would she ever get tired of kissing him? She doubted it.
Adrien drew back with a grin. "Everyone says hi, by the way. And I come bearing gifts," he said, then shrugged his shoulders for emphasis. "I think your parents put one of everything in here."
Marinette gasped and turned him around to dig into his backpack. Sure enough, it was full of things from the bakery. "I have so many people to share these with and I kind of don't want to share any of them," she said. She reached for a tried and true macaron and popped it into her mouth. The sweet strawberry flavor made her taste buds sing.
"Why do I get the feeling you'd be perfectly happy if I left the backpack and went home?" Adrien asked.
"Because it's lunchtime and I'm hungry and you know how I get when I'm hungry." Marinette zipped the backpack shut. "Which reminds me, I'm supposed to be meeting my friend Lila at a restaurant right now. Want to come with me?"
Adrien's growling stomach answered for him. Marinette laughed and pulled him away from the cathedral. "Let's go, chaton."
All throughout lunch and the rest of the work day, Marinette's anxiety made a nuisance of itself in her brain. Even the pastries that she brought to share with her coworkers and munch on while she finished her designs did little to calm her racing thoughts. She imagined Adrien waiting in her apartment, happily unaware of her intent to complicate their relationship with all her plans.
But her plans were important to her. Adrien was important to her. She'd just have to find a way to make both of them work together.
She took the metro home and gathered her courage as she walked up the stairs to her flat. She'd given Adrien the key before they parted ways, so she knocked on the door and waited.
And waited. And waited.
She frowned. Had he gone somewhere? Or, more predictably, had he fallen asleep? She raised her hand to knock again, but the door swung open and she ended up tapping Adrien's chest with her knuckles instead.
"Welcome home, buginette," he said, and gave her a kiss on the cheek before letting her in. Marinette picked up the smell of food almost instantly.
"Were you in my kitchen?" she asked.
Adrien smiled and gestured to her small round dining table with both arms. It was laden with food. "Surprise! Your useless boyfriend learned how to cook! I accept all forms of thanks, but head scratches and kisses are preferred."
Marinette walked over to investigate. She cast an anxious glance towards the kitchen, but found no evidence of a carefully concealed disaster. And when she saw the spread of food, she forgot her worries and let her mouth water. It looked delicious. It smelled delicious. "You learned how to make all this in the two months since I last saw you?" she asked.
Adrien stepped up behind her and removed both her jacket and her purse. "It helps having chefs in the house," he said. "And a best friend whose girlfriend's mother works in a restaurant." He pointed towards the kitchen. "Although Tikki did most of the work."
Marinette looked again and saw Tikki perched on top of the refrigerator wearing an apron fashioned out of a napkin. She laughed, turned around and thumped her head against Adrien's shoulder. "You're too good to me."
"You make that sound like it's a bad thing," he said. She lifted her head stared at him helplessly. He rubbed at her wrinkled brow with his thumb. "How about we eat before we talk about whatever's stressing you out?"
"I'm bad at hiding it, huh?" she asked.
"From other people, no. From me? Yes." Adrien kissed her once, then gave her a gentle push in the direction of the table. Marinette sat down and waited for him to return from hanging up her jacket and purse. She noticed that he walked around her apartment with perfect ease, as if it was his apartment, too, and it felt so right that she almost caved and asked him to move in with her on the spot.
She wanted him there with her. She wanted him everywhere with her.
Adrien sat across from her and gave her his most reassuring smile, but she could tell that he was anxious, and that was no way to feel while eating dinner.
"Adrien," she said as he grabbed his glass of water for a sip, "will you marry me?"
It took half a minute for him to stop coughing long enough to speak. "Where did that come from?"
Marinette stared at the table. "Oh, you know, I've been thinking about the future. The past, too, I guess. That got me thinking about the future in the first place. Funny how that works, huh?"
"You're rambling," Adrien pointed out.
"And I was thinking I wanted to stay in Milan a year longer, and maybe go to New York or London after that. The point being that I wouldn't be coming back to Paris for a long time. It's like, you've been in one place your whole life and you finally get out and you just want to keep going, you know? And there's so much that I can learn from so many people in so many places, and having worked for Monsieur Leuzzi, that'll open a lot of doors for me." Marinette paused to see if she'd lost Adrien, but he nodded at her to keep going. She breathed deeply. "There's no doubt in my mind that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. But you and I are… we found each other during this awkward transitional phase, and…"
"You're afraid that your plans and my plans won't work together?" Adrien guessed.
Marinette nodded and wrung her hands.
He considered her words for a while. "But you asked me to marry you," he said, "which is the opposite of breaking up with me."
"Yes, because I'd hate for you to think that I didn't want our plans to work together," she said. "Being on the receiving end of that… it sucks."
Adrien pushed the dinner plates aside and held his hand out to her. Marinette took it. "You're right. It does make me happy that you considered all of this, because it shows me that you're taking us seriously—not that I ever doubted that." He caressed her fingers with his thumb. "I knew what I was getting into when we started this relationship. I've lived with a fashion designer for twenty-seven years, remember?"
Marinette giggled at that. "I suppose you have."
"And it is complicated. There's no questioning that. But you're committed to making things work and so am I. That's what adults in relationships do." He kissed the back of her hand. "You're becoming someone new, I'm becoming someone new. Even if we settled down in Paris next week and stayed there for the rest of our lives, the change wouldn't stop. So if we're going to become different people no matter what, we might as well do it together, and in the most interesting ways possible."
Marinette smiled at him across the table. "Then you will marry me?"
"Whenever you want," Adrien said.
"If that's what you want."
"I don't want to get married tomorrow."
He laughed. "Then we won't!"
"I mean, I wouldn't mind, but it's so last minute and trying to get croquembouche during the weekend in Italy… not to mention Alya would kill me if I denied her the pleasure of telling everyone how we met."
"It'd be more trouble than it's worth," Adrien agreed, and his expression was so warm that it upset the butterflies in Marinette's stomach again. "Did you mean it when you said you couldn't imagine your future without me?" he asked.
"Of course," Marinette replied.
"Have you changed your mind?"
She shook her head.
"Then we have nothing to worry about. Now eat your food."
Marinette let go of his hand and picked up her fork. "You know, if you hadn't gone to the trouble of preparing this meal for me, I'd skip it entirely and have you for dinner instead."
Adrien winked at her. "I do make a purr-fect dessert," he said.
Marinette rolled her eyes, but she couldn't deny it. So she ate and basked in the feeling of having Adrien with her again, in the assurance that she would have him with her for as long as they were both willing. And though the future still scared her with all of its complications and uncertainties, she felt better knowing that she would face it with her best friend by her side.
Yesterday, Chat Noir told me he wished he could send emails back in time, and it really got me thinking:
What if I could send an email back in time?
What if, by that same miracle that sent my email to him, this message could reach me, sitting alone at home, worrying that my life is never going to get better?
It bothered me so much that I crawled out of bed early this morning—even though it's Saturday and the weather is springtime chilly and Chat Noir is oh so very warm—to write this email to myself.
You're probably feeling lost right now. Rejected. Unloved.
You're probably looking at all your ruined plans and wondering what's going to become of you.
And everyone in your life is probably telling you, in a well-meaning but unknowing sort of way, that things are going to work out. That you're going to be okay. That one lousy setback won't keep you down forever. You want to believe them, but through no fault of their own, their words sound like they've been plucked straight out of a greeting card.
So allow me to tell you from personal experience:
You're going to be okay. More than okay. You're going to be happy.
I'm not saying it'll be perfect or easy. The next two years will be full of doubts and heartbreak and letdowns. You're going to cry and you're going to worry and you're going to lose sleep some nights.
But you will also be courageous. And productive. And successful. Your talent will be acknowledged by people you never imagined you would meet.
And you will be loved the way you've always dreamed of being loved.
So don't give up on yourself. Don't become your own worst enemy. Put your heart back together and keep going, no matter how bleak things look.
Because you're so much luckier than you think.
Marinette Dupain-Cheng, Fashion Designer.
A/N: Does anyone else have tears and snot pouring down their face or is that just me?
Guys, I want to thank all of you, from the bottom of my heart. This story has gone through several long hiatuses and y'all stuck with it and encouraged me while I was too busy with my schoolwork to update. I've loved answering all of your screaming asks on Tumblr and reading every single one of your reviews and messages. It's made writing this fic so much fun!
I ended up putting a lot more of myself into this story than I realized. All of Marinette's doubts and fears and worries about the future were things that I experienced in the three years before I got accepted to grad school. Two years later, I've had a short story published, I'm about to graduate with my MFA, and I'm confident that I'm doing what I want to do for the rest of my life.
So if you're out there feeling like nothing is going how you planned and you're staring down an uncertain future, then this story is for you. Take heart. Be strong. You're going to make it.
Now then, what am I doing next? Those of you who've been following me on Tumblr know that I have plans to extend my ML Winter Sonata AU and post it on my fan fiction accounts. If you've read it already, you know what you're in for. If you haven't read it yet, get ready for a world of hurt.
In the meantime, I hope that you all have a wonderful summer, and I thank you again for all of your support. Until we meet again!