Emma's giggling was the only sound in the room. Marinette tried to look at Adrien but quickly averted her gaze when she saw that he was staring back at her. His eyes, questioning and curious, seemed to penetrate the careful barrier she had set up, one which hid the answers to all of her lies and secrets.
"M-maybe," she started, trying to make sense of everything, "my friend's doll is defective, maybe anybody with one of these bracelets can take care of it."
It was a bad excuse, and she knew that it couldn't explain how Chat was able to put her Emma to sleep, but it's all she was able to come up with.
It was the only explanation that she wanted to accept, because deep down, another conclusion was forming in her mind, one which she wasn't yet ready to confront.
Adrien finally adverted his gaze from her, letting it fall to the floor with a serious expression. Things weren't adding up, they hadn't added up since the beginning, and now this realization was finally starting to gnaw at him.
He needed answers.
"Yesterday," he couldn't bring himself to look at Marinette, to see her reaction "didn't you say that you found Louis lying around? But now you're telling me that he belongs to your friend."
In his peripheral vision the small girl grew fidgety as she tried to come up with an answer, with a lie. Why would she even need to lie about this sort of thing in the first place?
It wasn't just Marinette either, he himself had made up more excuses in the past couple of days than he was used to.
Once the gears started turning there was no stopping them, his brain would continue to look further into this issue until acceptable answers arose.
He waited for Marinette's reply.
She had told him that, hadn't she. This wasn't good, she was so far into her lies that she couldn't keep track of them anymore. After a moment of hesitation, she finally managed to squeak out a half-baked reply. "R-right! That's what I meant of course! Silly me..."
Marinette nervously glanced at him to try and read his expression, but Adrien was no longer looking at her. She was worried that he might be angry, but the face he wore was so much worse.
He was listening to every word she spoke, carefully analyzing her reactions. She would have to tread carefully over this thin sheet of ice because one mistake, a single small screw up, could cause her to go crashing through. One obvious lie would lead to another, and another, and so many more until it was impossible to escape from all of them.
This would definitely cause a strain in their relationship, the relationship that she worked so hard to build up. It would be gone, and reasonably so. Nobody wanted a friendship built on lies.
Adrien lifted his head ever so slightly, moving on to the next question without giving Marinette the chance to explain any further, her reaction was all that he needed.
"Why did you tell me that Louis was a boy?"
He finally turned to stare back at the girl beside him as he tried to fit more pieces of the puzzle into place.
Perhaps it was mean of him to ask such a question. He knew that there was no possible reason Marinette would need to lie about the baby's gender unless she was hiding something, but he asked regardless. Typically as Adrien he would let something such as this slide, sparing the other party the embarrassment of knowing he could see through their lies, but in that moment he let his more blunt Chat side break through his outer shell.
"W-well, that's because-"
"How come we're able to care for this baby when Emma should be the only one who responds to our bracelets?"
He moved on before Marinette could finish answering his previous question. Her lies were irrelevant to the answers he sought.
"Like I said, maybe this doll must be defective."
She spoke with more clarity in her voice than before. Adrien studied her. It wasn't a lie this time, it was an excuse. She wasn't trying to convince him that this was true, she was trying to convince herself.
Adrien looked down at the doll in her arms. "Then let's find out."
Marinette, who was expecting another question, was taken off guard by his sudden statement.
Adrien gently took her hand and led her out of the classroom, had this been happening under different circumstances she probably would have blushed and internally fan-girled over the action.
The hallways were fairly bare, most students had already made their way home, but there were still a few stragglers wandering around.
He led her through the halls, studying everybody they passed and coming to an abrupt stop when he found what he was looking for.
Standing by a locker was Kim, getting ready for one of the many sports teams he was on.
"Kim!" Adrien waved to his classmate as he approached him. "How's the assignment going?"
"Horrible!" He slammed his locker door shut. "Sabrina won't let me touch Chloe Jr. You use your daughter as a football once and suddenly that makes you a bad parent!"
"O-oh, I see..." Adrien stopped in his tacks and began to move backwards, protectively shielding his arm in front of Emma, "well, I'll see you around."
He turned and quickly led Marinette down a different hallway. "On second thought, let's look for someone else."
"Who are we looking for?" She asked, getting nervous.
"One of our classmates, or anyone else doing this assignment."
"Why..." she looked down to Emma who she carried in her free arm. She already knew the answer, but asked anyway.
Adrien glanced back at her. "To see if Louis really is defective."
"I don't...I don't think we should."
They say that ignorance is bliss don't they? Why couldn't the two of them just remain ignorant, continuing to believe that Louis is defective? That night she could give Chat back his Emma and Adrien could get back their Emma. That way they could continue on with their lives, both happily remaining ignorant.
Adrien stopped and turned to her, as though he just read her mind. "Because I don't want to remain ignorant any longer."
His words made a knot form in the pit of Marinette's stomach.
He looked away and spotted two girls by the front door. They were from another class which was also doing the parenting assignment, which was made plainly clear by the doll one of them held.
He approached them regardless of Marinette's protests.
"Hi!" He took Emma from Marinette and as if on cue, the doll started crying. "I was wondering if you could try to calm our baby down."
The two students looked at each other, then to Adrien, confusion written all over their faces. One of them spoke up before her friend.
"It won't work, only the parents can put stop the baby from crying."
Marinette's chest tightened as the student repeated the same words that Ms. Mendeleive had told them only several minutes earlier. Adrien, however, continued to push the issue.
"Please, could you just try?" He asked, holding out Emma and the bottle. "We're testing something."
The girl gave Adrien a strange look, but still took Emma and the bottle from him. She cradled Emma in her arms and held the bottle to the baby's mouth.
There were no slurping sounds or anything. Emma continued to cry.
"Maybe she's not hungry!" Marinette had to add in.
Adrien got out one of Emma's diapers and handed it to the student. She tried changing it but once again, Emma had no reaction.
"M-maybe she needs to be comforted." Marinette tried again. She had to convince them, she had to convince herself.
The student tried to rock Emma for a bit before sighing and shaking her head.
"I told you, it's not going to work."
Marinette started to come up with another excuse but stopped as Adrien rested his hand on her should. She looked up to him and he simply shook his head.
"Thanks for your help, we'll take it from here."
The girl handed Emma back to him and the two of them headed off. Adrien turned to Marinette and held out the crying baby.
"Try calming her down."
"I don't want to," she whispered.
Marinette looked up into his eyes, eyes filled with theories and conclusions. He knew, and there wasn't anything she could do to stop him from knowing.
She slowly reached out her arms and took Emma from him. With only a few short rocks, the baby's cries died down until there was nothing but silence.
"Marinette," he gazed down at her but she couldn't bear to meet his eyes, "can I ask you something?"
"About the doll?" Her voice was barely audible.
Adrien shook his head.
"Marinette you...you've never been akumatized, have you." She looked away and that was the only answer he needed. "Neither have I."
Marinette tightly clutched Emma close to her chest before fully turning away from him.
"I need to go home now...and think."