I'm still a little busy but it definitely won't affect the updates and I also won't stop uploading.
If you were worrying, don't :D I won't need to take a break and I promise to fully upload Breeze in the usual rhythm of three days ;)
I'm working on a few other projects but that won't put Breeze on a hiatus as well, so everything good here. Also, we're still not halfway done with Breeze, the amount of words I've uploaded up until now is definitely not half of the whole by a long shot.
So, you guys can definitely look forward to regular updates and a whole lot more of Breeze is coming your way.
Also, if you think we're over the hardest part, keep on dreaming~
But for now, enjoy the chapter!
"Wh-What?", Marinette was barely able to stutter as he already fastened his steps, leading her towards a fast food restaurant. She just so managed to stay upright as she kept up with his steps. They entered and immediately, a greasy yet somehow appetizing smell filled her nose.
She looked around, out of reflex, and saw most people eating their food, chatting with each other, yet a few had looked up and now glared at her. She gulped, inconspicuously nudging Adrien and keeping her gaze down.
"U-Uh-… Adrien-… I don't think I'm welcome here-… Or anywhere for that matter. L-Let's just go…?"
He narrowed his eyes as she already took a little step back, pulling on his shirt, searching for the people who didn't approve of her presence. He easily caught their gaze and followed Marinette's step but instead of escorting her out he wrapped an arm around her shoulders and openly pulled out his wallet, still glaring back at the people. Those who recognized him now stared at them with a surprised expression and those who didn't eventually let them be, concentrating on their food again.
"So, what do you want?", he asked instead of reacting to her, turning up front again. He was still a bit unsure with these fast food restaurants, he had been there with his friends before but never alone – or, well, ordering for someone else who surely wouldn't be speaking.
He couldn't judge Marinette for that, even if he wanted. She already had her problems with opening her mouth around people she knew, completely justified, so it was perfectly fine for her to be scared to talk in public.
He felt her shivering and immediately regretted making her stay here though he could feel how thin she had become. He definitely wouldn't bring her home without having treated her something to eat. She needed this.
But instead of pleading him to go again she shyly stretched out her hand and pointed to a plain, small portion of fries. It was the cheapest on the menu. Adrien lifted his eyebrows, gently pushed her out of the line and pulled out his phone.
"I can ask Alya what you always preferred to eat when going to a place like this, y'know? I need to call her anyway, since she needs to know you're safe."
Marinette sighed, lowering her gaze to the floor and shrugged weakly.
"I just don't wanna be a bother for you. I've been a bother for everyone in the past months, so I-… I don't wanna be anymore."
Adrien smiled at her confession, brushing over her back and cupping her cheek with the other. She flinched away but at least looked up to see him smiling.
"You're not a bother. Promise.", her shoulders slumped at the seemingly unspoken words not anymore so he quickly added, "Have never been. It's been a hard time for us all and I'm just glad I can treat you dinner right now. Okay?"
She sighed and finally told him she wanted a small menu consisting of a burger, a portion of fries and a small soft drink. He felt that wasn't really what she wanted but just told him that to shut him up. It wasn't rude, he realized as they went to the end of the queue again, waiting for their turn. It wasn't false modesty either.
It was fear.
Fear to go to deep, fear to open up too much, fear to be too much of a bother for him and fear to be here at all.
So he kept his arm around her shoulders, stepping forward as the employee looked up to take their orders. He told him what Marinette wanted and then added his own wishes, not missing the sympathetic look the employee gave the girl. As he prepared their dinner he also didn't miss that the employee slipped another few fries into their bag, along with a second dip and a little note. Adrien burned of curiosity as he took the bag, paid for both orders and saw the employee smiling at Marinette before exiting the restaurant, sensing she didn't want to stay here for any longer.
As soon as they were out he led her to the next park that was just around the corner and sat down on a bench inside a pavilion, so they wouldn't get wet from the rain that got stronger again, with her, opening their bag to pull out the note.
"Hey, that's sweet.", Adrien said without thinking as he read the little sentence on the napkin the employee had given them. Marinette blushed deeply when she took the napkin from him, briefly reading over the note that said I believe in you, before stuffing it into her pocket.
Adrien waited if he could get another reaction out of her but she stayed silent and avoided eye contact so he pulled out her menu and handed it to her with a little, reassuring smile.
"Eat up.", he said quietly, "You need to eat, Marinette."
She flinched at her name again but took her food, pulling up her legs to fold them beneath her as she nodded lightly, beginning to eat. He didn't say anything else to let her feel comfortable again but as soon as they were almost finished eating he realized she tried to stretch it out. She didn't want to go home and she probably didn't want him to call Alya as well. She wanted to spent another night out on the streets.
He turned towards her, waiting until she would make eye contact again. She finally looked up as soon as it was impossible not to notice his gaze anymore and he lightly leant forward, studying her face when he spoke.
"You-… You don't wanna go home, right?"
Marinette immediately lowered her gaze to her fries again, half of them tumbling around in the paper bag they came in, taking one and quickly pushing it into her mouth so she had an excuse of not answering right away.
Adrien didn't mind it, he would give her the time she needed. If and when she would answer was completely her decision.
"… No…", she finally mumbled, still keeping her gaze on the fries, "I don't wanna be anywhere…"
He reached over and offered his hand once again, sighing in relief when she took it.
"You do realize I have to bring you home, right?"
Tears welled up in her eyes and she nodded with erratic movements, her voice sounding thick as she replied.
"I-… I know…"
"And you do realize that if you don't go home, I won't either?"
A sniffle now worked its way up her throat and he immediately regretted cornering her like that but she needed to realize he wouldn't leave her alone again.
"Do you wanna go to Alya's place instead?", he asked but she immediately shook her head so that her hair flew around, "Nino's, then?"
Marinette seemed to consider it for a brief moment before shaking her head another time. Adrien brushed over her knuckles, incredibly thankful she didn't pull away.
"I can't bring you to my place, my father's been a pain since that-… That day… So where do you wanna go?"
That seemed to break the dams again. Tears flowed down her cheeks a second time that day and Adrien gulped, a second time that day expecting to run after her. But once again the short time of letting her feelings out ended abruptly, she once again stopped herself because of fear. Because she needed to maintain her walls.
"I dunno…", she finally whispered and he nodded, knowing exactly what she meant. He had felt like this for a short part of his life as well, not knowing where his home was, not wanting to return to the house that had become so cold since his mother had left.
He knew exactly how she felt.
"But I don't wanna leave you in the streets, please.", he tried a last time and she nodded, so he spoke out his last idea, "Should I stay with you at your home?"
Her gaze shot up and she incredulously looked at him, her hand slipping out of his.
"N-No, I-…" she gulped, straightening up again and he knew he lost her. How could he have been so stupid? He offered her his help, merely maybe an hour ago, completely turned around her world, offered her to trust him again and what did he try next?
Invade the only place she had been able to be alone? Stay in a room where she could openly let her feelings out, rob her of an entire night to-… What? Make sure she won't start drinking again? That nobody of these guys will come pester her? To be with her, not leave her alone?
The only time she had been safe and free in these last months had been when she had been alone and he just had the audacity to ask her if he can basically steal her this opportunity for an entire night, especially after such an eventful day.
Of course, Agreste, way to go, he thought as he sat back again, slowly nodding.
"Yeah, of course…", he tried to save it but the conversation already died down. They both sat in silence for a few minutes, Marinette wordlessly offering him her fries which they finish before he pulled out his phone.
"I need to call Alya…", she sighed, shrugging.
"You probably do."
He looked up, his face falling a bit when he saw her hopeless expression.
"She's worried, too, you know?", he quietly mumbled, pulling up her contact, "She wants you to be safe."
Marinette groaned, obviously frustrated with something.
"I know but-… Why now, why at all?! I-… No, No just forget it, call her. It's alright."
He shot her a quizzical look before pressing call, lifting the phone to his ear. Almost immediately Alya picked up, car noises audible in the background and another voice, probably Nino.
"Hey Adrien… We're heading home now. Got anything new from Marinette?"
He sighed, looking over to the girl next to him, once again cursing himself to have been too confident, too rash and too fast forward.
"Yeah, actually I got news.", he was barely able to finish the sentence as Alya already interrupted him with a waterfall of words falling from her mouth at lightspeed.
"Oh god, is she okay? Where is she right now? Where are you? Agreste, if you left her alone I will skin you alive, I will make sure Mister Teen Model will not step outside anymore and I certainly will make sure you won't be able to sit for a few days. Is Marinette with you? Where did you find her? How is she? Been drinking again? If she did and you left her alone I will-"
"Yeah, yeah, skin me alive and all that. No, she's-… She's actually here with me. I treated he dinner and I'll bring her home now."
Alya gasped and covered the speaker to talk to Nino, giving Adrien the chance to look over to the girl next to him once again. She had curled up on the bench next to him, her head already dropping down whenever she allowed herself to close her eyes. He carefully shifted closer and offered her his shoulder to lean on but she declined. He tried not to let his disappointment show as he heard Alya returning to the phone.
"Okay, where are you? Nino's agreed to stay out a little later."
Adrien quickly shook his head as he finally felt Mari's head bumping against his shoulder, softly adjusting so she could rest her head there. She was hesitant at first but then she couldn't fight it anymore, already drifting off. She probably didn't sleep too much during the last night.
"Oh no, no, no, I'll just bring her home now. She needs the rest, you can probably talk to her tomorrow. For-… For today I just wanna make sure she's safe in her bed for a good night's sleep."
Mari lightly huffed and he heard Alya literally holding her breath as she heard the noises that obviously didn't come from Adrien but after a few moments of silence Alya spoke up again.
"Oh, yeah… We should probably get to bed as well…"
Adrien nodded, smiling at the sleepy girl.
"Yeah, you should. Sleep well, Alya."
"You, too. And if Mari doesn't end up in her bed in five minutes I will-"
"Do your death threats ever change?", he grinned and Alya probably rolled her eyes.
"I got a lot of them in store, thank you very much.", she grumbled, Nino throwing something in in the background.
"I can definitely testify that."
Adrien chuckled and nodded.
"Yeah, yeah. Get to sleep. We'll see Mari tomorrow in school if she's feeling well enough."
They hung up and he gently leant her back to get rid of the trash in a nearby trash bin before scooping her up in his arms, gulping at how light she had become. He had lifted her a few times before, mostly because Alya and Nino had requested it to get the funniest reactions from the bluenette, but she had never been as light as she was now.
He adjusted her so her head rested against his upper arm and held her sleeping form closer, beginning to walk down the street towards her home. Luckily it wasn't that far anymore.
He just had to explain a whole lot to her parents, he realized.