Come inside, you'll freeze to death!
It's cold outside- you'll want something to keep you nice and warm. Don't want you getting a cold.
Come on, you don't want to catch your death out there, do you?
Death by cold.
As serious as it is, and like many other important things in life, we downplay it to casual things. You often say the above phrases and more when you want someone to come inside before they get sick, or when you want them to be comfortable when they leave the house.
Usually, when people do that, the only thing on their mind is the common cold. Some are even completely unaware of the fact that the cold can inflict far worse things upon those of the living.
Now, Chat Noir didn't really know that death was a possibility when he ran out of his imposing, imprisoning house that fateful night. He didn't quite care if it was or not- the worst, he had figured, was a measly cold. And while getting sick would still suck, he needed the open and fresh air to help clear his mind.
Especially with he revelations that he had had.
His heart raced as fast as his thoughts while he, once again, extended his staff to send him flying into the cold wind of the wintery night. Snow fell around him innocently, making the city that he loved even more beautiful and enchanting than it usually was.
He pulled his mental list back into his thoughts. Running across the rooftops helped clear his mind, so maybe they could help him process the revelations too.
1st- Marinette was definitely more than just a friend.
Her remembered the dream he had had- how it's temperature was drastically different, how names were called and kisses were shared. Well, it had started out like that, but then he had told her that he couldn't- that if he did, he would be betraying Ladybug, and he could never do that to his lady.
That led to his second revelation- There was a pretty good possibility of Marinette being Ladybug.
In his dream, she had magically donned her red and black spotted super suit. Even after he awoke, he couldn't deny the feeling of completeness that he had felt at the idea of the two girls actually being one. They complimented each other greatly- they even looked alike!
Then Plagg had whined about being woken up when his charge had accidentally thrown him off of the bed when he had woken up. Sheepish and needing to completely digest his dream, he had told Plagg that they should sneak down to the kitchen and get the kwami some camembert in apology. Plagg had instantly stopped complaining and chastised Adrien on being too slow, unknowingly leading Adrien to another revelation.
One that he didn't want to believe.
The fact that Gabriel Agreste, his father, was-
He pushed the very idea of the thought to the back of his mind- still adamantly in denial that such a thing could ever be truly possible.
Surely his luck wasn't that bad.
But the proof that he had seen while going to get a midnight snack for himself and Plagg said otherwise. The floating little light purple kwami that looked suspiciously like a butterfly who kept calling his father master. It was even more proof when Gabriel got the kwami some cinnamon rolls, telling him to hurry up and that he needed to hurry so that he wouldn't miss his flight. After Plagg had gotten his cheese, Adrien had quickly snuck them both back upstairs. Plagg was muttering something along the lines of 'of course it's him' and 'gotta tell the old man'.
Before Plagg could talk to Adrien when they got to the safety of his room, the blonde had muttered his transformation sequence, allowing him to safely leap out of his room.
Chat Noir enjoyed the bitter wind slapping against his cheeks- keeping him awake but dazed. Awake enough to know he wasn't dreaming, but dazed enough to feel like he was. To feel like everything up until this point wasn't reality- that the sight of Gabriel with a kwami didn't necessarily mean that he was Hawkmoth, terrorizer of Paris.
An hour after leaving his bedroom, he landed on the snow-covered Eiffel Tower and leaned against the railing. He looked over the city he fought to protect every day with his life- the enchanting view was enough to take his breath away, and steel his mind in his personal storm of thoughts and emotions.
A yawn forced its way through his mouth while he contemplated on the discoveries in his life, and he grew a bit confused. Wasn't the cold supposed to keep you awake?
Then again, it was around two-thirty to three in the morning. Of course he would be tired.
He craned his neck up to look at the crystal clear sky and smiled at the few stars that he could see. Stargazing always seemed to help him relax and clear his mind when nothing else would. He and his mother would do it all the time- sometimes they'd leave the city and go out into the country to see them better. Those were his favorite times with her- just laying down on the blanket in the grassy fields, looking up and into the artistic masterpiece that was the heavens.
Idly, he wondered if she was watching them from up there. What did she think? He hoped that he was making her proud- at least then one of his parents would be.
Another yawn clawed its way up his throat, and he absently found himself sitting down in the snow. He leaned back on his arms to continue to look up at the sky without hurting his neck too much.
Right about now his father would be leaving on that trip to China. Nathalie was home because she was sick, and his bodyguard had his break off tomorrow. Staff had also been deemed excused for Christmas, so Adrien literally had the house to himself. It was a harsh loneliness there- nothing like the loneliness that he experienced in mask, sitting on the Eiffel Tower. This was more relaxing than the one at home, more… dream-like.
Chat Noir shifted so that he was laying down in the snow- a much more comfortable (but definitely colder) position to be in at the moment. He didn't care all that much- it wasn't like the snow could hurt you. His clawed hands rested behind his mop of blonde hair, cat-like emerald green eyes continuing to stare up at the sky.
A strange numbness started to encase him starting rom his toes and fingers. Chat Noir brushed it off as a mix of the cold and the three- no, two revelations that he had today. Only two and not three, because the third one just couldn't be real.
He yawned again, but when he opened his eyes they seemed heavier than before. He blinked them a few more times, his eyes only getting heavier and heavier with sleep. The numbness continued to spread through his arms and legs, encasing him like the blanket of snow that currently covered all of Paris. Yes, it was freezing- but at this point Chat Noir was too tired to even attempt getting up.
'I can take a quick nap here…' He thought, both emotionally and physically whipped out as his eyes slowly slipped closed one more time. 'After all, what's the worst that can happen?'
Another harsh breeze brushed past, and the snow began to fall a little heavier than it had been before. Chat Noir didn't respond to that or Plagg pulsing from his ring, trying to wake the fatigued superhero up. His ears didn't twitch at the sound of cars traveling from late-night shifts underneath him, and his breathing slowed enough that it was almost impossible to see the rise and fall of his chest. His body, that had been previously wracked with unnoticed shivers, was becoming still as his body temperature dropped.
And so, our dearest cat-themed superhero slept the warmth away, completely unaware that he now had a case of hypothermia.
A sickness caused by the cold that, more often than not, led to death.
Marinette, unlike her partner, was completely aware of what Hypothermia was. Especially after her Aunt had gotten it back when she was ten years old.
Her aunt being sent to the hospital had given her maman and papa quite the scare, so they made sure that they sat down with their only daughter and told her everything about it. The side effects, how to know someone has hypothermia, how to treat someone you find with it, and how to not get it.
Marinette had never told anyone that she knew, nor had she ever had to use her knowledge to help someone with it before. In fact, she had never thought of the possibility that anyone would be stupid enough to go out in the cold without proper war gear first. Especially after she had become Ladybug- Tikki had warned her about how much more sensitive to the cold she could be, and she had taken the proper precaution.
Two scarves, two jackets, a coat, three pairs of socks, boots, three pairs of pants, gloves, hat, and earmuffs were now apart of her daily winter gear. She gawked when she saw people wearing only one or two layers of clothing, but she didn't say anything about it.
In fact, Marinette had been enjoying a particularly amazing dream about her and Chat Noir saving Adrien from Chloe, and Adrien kissing her senseless when-
"Ow!" Marinette was snapped out of her wonderful dream by something pinching her ear. She sat up straight- accidentally throwing Tikki into the wall across from her. "Oh my gosh, Tikki, are you okay? Is there an akuma? What time is it?" Marinette looked over at her clock in question. "Why on earth are you waking me up at almost three in the morning?!"
"It's more urgent than an akuma, Marinette!" Tikki exclaimed, flying back over to her half-awake charge. The kwami grabbed Marinette's finger and began to pull, helping Marinette stand on her knees.
"More urgent than an akuma?" Marinette asked. "What's going on?"
"Plagg's sending out a distress signal!" Tikki explained, continuing to pull Marinette to her skylight. "It means something bad happened to Chat Noir! We have to find him Marinette- he might be dying!"
Marinette didn't need any further persuasion.
"Tikki, Spots On!"
Marinette had absolutely no caution when throwing her skylight open and slamming it closed behind her, yoyo already throwing itself towards the rooftops across from her.
Her heart raced and cheeks stung against the cold winter wind, but she had to find him. What if he was bleeding to death?! What if Hawkmoth had found him and was trying to get her secret identity out of ihm? What if-
She felt a tug on her suit- towards the Eiffel Tower. It was probably Tikki, telling her where Chat Noir and- Plagg was it?- was. She threw her yoyo as hard as she could, and was extremely thankful when it hooked onto the said Eiffel tower. She shot herself towards it, confusion entering her mind when she didn't see anything wrong at first. She landed on one of the lower railings and threw her yoyo up- tugging herself towards the top of the Eiffel Tower.
When she arrived up there, it took a moment to recognize the heap of black-leather and blonde hair that was already somewhat covered by snow.
"No no no no no no nononononononononono-" She quickly brushed off as much as she could, revealing most of her partner's face that was agonizingly peaceful. Ladybug swiftly checked for a pulse and was relieved when she found one.
Her exhausted mind didn't care about consequences- she was only going through the facts that had been hammered into her.
Step 1: Check for pulse.
Sep 2: Remove them from the cold.
She did this as fast as she could, draping her freezing partner over her back and arms dangling over her shoulders. She fumbled around a bit before finding his staff. She extended it and carefully maneuvered them around to her house. Then she quickly detransformed so that Tikki could help her open up the trap door. Once Marinette and Chat Noir were inside, she laid him down on her bed.
Step 3: Get hot water bottles, blankets, and strip victim of cold/wet fabric.
Marinette quickly grabbed some extra blankets from under her desk while Tikki said that she would go and get any hot water bottles that she could find. Marinette had quickly told her not to bother- her parents didn't have any as far as she was concerned. The next best thing would be to grab more blankets from downstairs, and-
Step 4: Strip down to underwear if necessary and sleep next to victim. Whenever possible call emergency center and get them to the hospital.
Marinette crossed her fingers and hoped for the best. She was aware that he might detransform in the night, so she couldn't quite go to the hospital (any other consequences of him detransforming didn't quite reach her mind). She took off her pajamas- leaving her in her pink brief underwear and a tank top on for modesty reasons.
She instantly put herself under the bedsheets, scooting closer to him and wrapping her arms around him. He was ice cold to the touch, and she flinched at the difference in temperature. The only thing keeping her there was her worry for her friend and his breath that she could feel on her head.
Maybe her exhaustion had played a bit into it as well, because somewhere along the line Marinette's eyes had closed and she had fallen asleep. Time passed, and Chat Noir unconsciously wrapped his arms around her too. His body began shivering again as he sought out the warmth around him, still fast asleep.
It was around five in the morning when Plagg finally released Adrien's transformation, completely exhausted. Tikki smiled at him and helped Plagg down from the bed, where she had prepared some Camembert and cookies for them.
While Plagg began to nibble on his camembert, Tikki got one of Marinette's scarves and wrapped it around the two of them to stay warm.
"So?" She eventually asked Plagg when he started to eat the camembert a bit faster. "Why were you two out?"
"Kid woke up from a dream." Plagg replied, leaning on Tikki when she scooted a bit closer. "He accidentally threw me across the room, and in apology we snuck down to the kitchen to get camembert. Guess who was there with us."
"His father?" Tikki guessed.
"Not just him." Plagg sighed. "Nooro was there too."
"But that means-"
"I know." Plagg interrupted. "Adrien's smart to, so of course he realized what it meant. He was in complete denial, but before I could talk to him about going to see Fu he transformed. Next thing I know, he's laying down in the snow like some idiot and falling asleep!"
"Shhh." Tikki reminded him when Plagg raised his voice. The black kwami instantly went back to whispering.
"Sad thing is, bug, I don't think that he knows what hypothermia is. He didn't even know what he was getting himself into. Top that with his father being Hawkmoth, and-"
"You're not being a burden on him." Tikki interrupted, knowing what Plagg was getting at. "This is just a learning experience. It'll help him be more careful in the future- we both know that those two needed something to show them how dangerous it is again. Last akuma Marinette didn't even look to see if anyone was around before transforming! And in the Library, of all places!"
Plagg snorted, a smile coming to his lips.
"Adrien keeps on hiding behind advertisements with his face on it to transform." He admitted. "Stupid kid doesn't even realize it half the time." Tikki giggled and snuggled a bit closer to Plagg.
"I can't believe that they got themselves in the love square." Tikki admitted. "We've had all sorts of complications, but this is the third time that our chosen have fallen for each other like this."
Plagg sighed, snuggling closer to Tikki as well. They eventually fell asleep like that, resting in the peaceful silence that was early morning.
It wasn't long until Marinette woke again, feeling really hot. This was strange to her, because normally when she felt hot, she would have already kicked the blankets off in her sleep. She shifted, but was unable to move that far when strong arms pulled her close to a chest. A leg that was not hers shifted from where it was draped over her own, and Marinette was reminded of what had transpired last night.
'He's okay.' She thought, relieved that he hadn't died. She still hadn't opened her eyes, and was even afraid to when she didn't feel the normal leather of the suit. Instead, her hands were fisting an actual shirt. Marinette absently noted that it was professional and top of the line, which was odd. She had never pegged Chat Noir as the type into fashion.
Marinette made sure her head was tilted away from his face when she opened her eyes. His shirt was black, and now that she could see Marinette knew that it was from some of Gabriel Agreste's sleepwear. Probably the black tank-top, she mused when she felt civilian-Chat nuzzle her hair.
Much to her surprise as she woke up a bit more, the heat didn't really bother her. Neither did the fact that civilian-Chat was using her as his cuddle-partner, or that he was detransformed. All Marinette could really feel was safe, protected, and dare she think it- love.
She raised her hand up and focused on his heartbeat- she needed to know how bad he had gotten hypothermia. It was beating strongly and regularly, and Marinette breathed a small sigh of relief. He also didn't feel as cold anymore- the temperature of his skin only slightly colder than her own when she touched his arm.
Then again, her arms had been under the blankets and his arm was resting outside of them, so she couldn't be sure. His chest was rising and falling rhythmically, telling her that he was fast asleep. Marinette bit her lip- she wanted to look up at his face to see if there was anything else, but she felt like she would be betraying his trust if she did.
"Lady…" He mumbled in his sleep, pulling her closer and nuzzling her hair. Marinette tensed and let out a squeak, but she relaxed when he didn't wake up. She leaned her head against his chest, closing her eyes.
A few minutes later, she heard a small yawn and opened her eyes again. Dare she speak and risk waking Chat, or should she inquire her kwami to decide what to do with her partner? Surely Tikki would know the answer.
Speaking of, he would probably wake up soon. What was she going to tell him?
"Don't worry, bug. My kitten's a deep sleeper- a few whispers won't wake him up." The dry voice spoke from above her. Marinette tilted her head to the side, only to see Plagg floating there with some camembert in his paws. He looked smug; a smirk on his face, and amusement in his eyes.
"Oh." She breathed. Then she quietly cleared her throat. "A-Are you okay? I'm sorry I wasn't able to stay awake long enough to help you-"
"Tikki took care of me." Plagg shrugged off. "Besides, I wanted to talk to you before she woke up completely." Marinette blinked, and she could've sworn that his smirk grew wider. "Aren't you gonna look?"
"N-No…?" She half-asked. Plagg shifted to float on his side lazily, eyeing his slice of cheese nonchalantly.
"And why's that?"
"B-Because I would be betraying our trust." Plagg scoffed.
"What a Tikki answer." He looked at her out of the corner of his eye, studying her for a moment. Mischief danced in his eyes when he finally seemed to find what he was looking for. "Tell me, bug, what's the harm in looking?"
"It wouldn't be right." Was Marinette's automatic answer. Much to her surprise, her partner's kwami rolled his eyes.
"Stop saying what Tikki would say." Plagg swallowed the cheese in one bite (Marinette had to do a mental double-take: that slice of cheese had been almost as big as him!) and then flew closer to her face. "I want to know what you're really thinking- right there in your heart, with no Miss-I'm-Always-Right-Tikki to tell you what you want." He pointed to her chest, and Marinette removed one of her hands from Chat's shirt to rest it over her heart.
"I… I really do want to know." She closed her eyes. "But I don't want our dynamic as a team to change just because I want to know who he is." She looked up at Plagg again, and the look on his face encouraged her to continue.
"Our friendship is far too important for me to loose. And it's not that I don't trust him either- he can take care of himself. Well… last night wasn't really a good example of that." Marinette giggled softly, and Plagg nodded in agreement.
"He can be an idiot. A very oblivious one." Plagg rolled his eyes. "Even among your human standards he's oblivious, but you're the one who makes up for it."
"What do you mean?"
"His strengths are your weaknesses and vise-versa." He explained. "That's the thing with mine and Tikki's chosen- they're always there to make up the other's faults. Like when you walked out on that bratty-girl when she annoyed you too much, he stayed behind to see it through the end until he was given another task. You knew what Hypothermia was and how to treat it, my kitten didn't even know that such a thing existed. You absolutely despise lies and lying, and he lives a life full of them. Creation and destruction, good luck and bad luck. You two were chosen to work together mostly because of that."
"I had no idea… Tikki always told me why I was such a good Ladybug, but she never explained why Chat and I were chosen to work together." Marinette admitted. "I know lots of people who could work as an amazing Ladybug- probably even better than me. To know that it's our bond and dynamic that sets us apart…"
"Yeah yeah, I know 'inspiring'" Plagg made a gagging noise. "Anyway, you need to know something bug."
"What is it?"
"Only reason why my kitten was out and about last night was because his world was completely flipped upside down, in a bad way." Marinette gasped, but the kwami continued on. "He was in complete denial about it- but when he wakes up he's either gonna forget, or know that it wasn't a dream. You're the only constant in both of his lives, so think carefully before you decide whether to look up or not." He glanced up at civilian-Chat Noir's face.
"And you have plenty of time, too. He hasn't had a good night's rest for the last few nights, so he's probably gonna sleep in at least two hours or so. Also, your parents left the house. They left a note for you on your desk- as far a I'm concerned they didn't see anything." Then he swiftly flew away. Marinette thought over Plagg's words for several minutes- torn between keeping her head where it was, and looking up at his face.
He shifted a bit, almost as though he could sense her unease, and pulled her closer. He started to purr as he nuzzled her head again, and Marinette giggled.
"Nice…" He sighed. Marinette shifted a bit closer, lifting a hand up rub his back. His purr grew a bit louder in appreciation, and Marinette remembered something about cats and purring. They only did so when they felt completely at ease with where they where, who they were with, and what they were doing.
Even in his sleep, he felt comfortable around her and where he was. Surely that meant something, right?
'Please don't hate me, chaton.' She thought, bracing herself for what might come of this. She looked up, blinking a few times. Marinette took in the face of her partner under the mask- the same mask that she had seen almost every day.
His bed head was definitely crazier than his hair normally was as Chat. A soft smile was on his lips, eyes closed and generally peaceful-looking. Behind those closed eyelids, were a pair of emerald green eyes that Marinette had sworn she would recognize no matter what.
She was rendered speechless. For what felt like ages, she stared up at him- imagining the black mask on his face, the smug grin on his lips, and the suggestive wiggle of his eyebrows. Eyes that always seemed to stare at her in adoration and love- no matter how hard she tried to deny it or brush it off as something else. Envisioning him bowing and taking her hand in his, so that he could sneakily place a swift kiss on it. She could see it all- see all of him, and she couldn't find it in herself to even think because she was so shocked.
Eventually, her mouth opened on it's own accord.
The feeling encased Adrien and continued to lull him asleep even when he smelled the pancakes and eggs being made downstairs. It wasn't just the comfortable blankets around him even- the smell of cookies and vanilla in the bed sheets could be described as warm, too. In fact, for some odd reason, his chest was overflowing with warmth. You know- the kind you feel when someone gives you a compliment, or when you do something for someone and it makes them happy.
He never felt this comfortable when waking up in his house before, but he wasn't complaining.
Adrien snuggled even closer to the blankets around him, pulling them close as the smell of sweet things washed over his nose again.
His bed never smelled this good.
He slowly opened his eyes, blinking away his sleep and focusing on the wall across from him.
The pink wall across from him.
Adrien's eyes fell on the bed, and his green eyes lit up in slight recognition when he saw the skylight above him; sunlight streaming down and resting somewhere on the floor below.
He was in Marinette's room.
But why was he in there? He sat up and looked around, but he couldn't see the cute designer anywhere below him. Her door was open, though. Adrien carefully pushed the blankets aside and walked down the stairs. He reached a hand up to rub some sleep out of his eyes- stumbling only once. He walked down until he could see the whole of the kitchen…
No one had seen him yet, which gave him the time he needed to absorb the scene below. Plagg was flying around with a red kwami that looked like a Ladybug. He had never seen his kwami play like that before, much less smile that wide. Over by the stove, Marinette was flipping some pancakes over. She was humming and lightly dancing to some tune in her head. She'd occasionally glance at the two kwamis and smile. Then she'd shake her head and continue on with breakfast.
Adrien couldn't stop himself from staring at rare sight. He almost never saw this side of Marinette. To see her completely relaxed sent butterflies alight in his stomach, and his heart do cartwheels in his chest.
That was right- hadn't he realized his feelings for her last night? He had woken up in his room, and he and Plagg had decided to sneak downstairs to grab some camembert… he knew something happened in the kitchen, but his memories were fuzzy with sleep. Hadn't someone been down there?
"You're awake!" Adrien was snapped out of his thoughts when his kwami launched himself towards Adrien. Plagg collided with his chest, nearly making Adrien loose balance on the stairs. "You stupid idiot- never scare me like that again! You better think twice before you go out in the cold ever again!"
Gone out? Adrien lifted a hand to hold the kwami close to his chest, absorbing the information. That sounded right, but why did he leave his house? Had there been an akuma?
"Okay…?" He half-asked. Adrien looked at Marinette, who was looking up at him with a shy smile. "Uhhh… what happened?"
"How about I tell you after breakfast?" She suggested, flipping over another pancake. Adrien nodded after a moment, and finished walking back down the stairs to sit down at the table. The ladybug-looking kwami he had spotted earlier flew up to him happily.
"Hello Adrien!" She greeted. "I'm Tikki, Marinette's kwami."
So-So it was true! The other revelation that he had had- his princess was his lady! He smiled goofily at Tikki and held out his fingers for her to shake.
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Tikki." He said. He felt like he was dreaming- Marinette and Ladybug really were one in the same? It wasn't just some stupid late night fantasy? His goofy smile grew dreamy as Marinette walked over to the table. She dished up some eggs and pancakes on their two plates.
"The bacon isn't quite ready yet, just a few more minutes." She informed, leaving to go and grab some syrup. She also grabbed some milk- bringing them to the table and setting them down in between them. Then she sat down across from him, beginning to eat her breakfast. When she realized that he was staring, she gave him a curious look. "What?"
"Ah-Nothing." He replied, looking away with a blush. He needed something to say- something that wasn't pun-related and would be perfectly normal… "Where are your parents?"
"They left for a Christmas function. It's going to be going on all day, so they went and told me to do some chores while they were gone." She explained. Adrien reached for the milk, but when he got there her hands were there too. They both looked up at each other and blushed.
"Uh, you can go first." Adrien said after a moment, moving to reach for the syrup instead.
"No, but-" By the time she had spoken, he was already grabbing the syrup. She blushed and mumbled a 'fine' under her breath. Then she grabbed the milk to pour it into her cup.
While they ate, Adrien found himself in deep thought. He had gone out last night, and had woken up from a dream before that. He had snuck down to the kitchen to grab some Camembert for Plagg, but that didn't explain why he had left his room. It also didn't explain why he had woken up at Marinette's house.
In her bed.
He blushed and stuffed some pancakes in his mouth.
"Do you want some?" She asked, and Adrien looked up to see her offering him the plate of cooked bacon.
"Oh, yes please." He said, accepting the plate. He put two down on his plate and then set it somewhere on the table, going back to his thoughts. He supposed that whatever had happened after he had snuck out was bad enough to go to Marinette for comfort. That had to have been what happened, there was no other possible expli-
He nearly dropped his fork as he remembered a purple butterfly kwami with his father in the kitchen.
"Are you okay?" Marinette asked, probably having seen his facial features change. Plagg landed on his head, lazily snacking on his camembert.
"Fine, fine- I, uh, just remembered something."
"About last night?" She questioned, and he paused before nodding. Marinette looked at him worriedly. "How much do you remember?"
"Kinda up to the moment I left?" He half asked. "I don't know, it's all a bit fuzzy…"
"That's normal." She said, and he blinked.
Just what did she know that he didn't?
Marinette stretched and stood up, her empty plate in her hands. Adrien looked down and was surprised to see that he had eaten most of the food on his plate too. Had that much time past?
"I'm going to start on the dishes, you can play some games if you want to." Adrien watched Marinette from his seat at the table while she moved over to the sink. She turned it on and rinsed her plate off before grabbing some other dishes that had been left out. Adrien stood up with his own plate and set it under the water. When she looked up at him, he knew he had to say something. He swallowed nervously.
"And let my lady do all the work? Nu-uh." A blush bloomed on her cheeks, and it accented her freckles. Adorable.
"W-Well, if you want to help I suppose it wouldn't hurt." She said shyly, reaching for a sponge. "Why don't you dry? Plagg and Tikki can help put the dishes away."
"Of course, Marinette!"
"Do I have too?" Plagg whined, and Adrien chuckled at his kwami while grabbing a cloth. At first he wasn't quite sure- was there a specific process to drying dishes?
He relaxed after Marinette handed him the first dish- of course it would be simple, it was just like drying anything off. Adrien supposed that he had been worried because he didn't want to look stupid in front of her. He already knew that she saw Chat Noir as an idiot sometimes for not knowing some of the basic things in life. It wasn't his fault that he was sheltered!
Adrien handed the dish off to Tikki and Plagg, who then moved to put them away. As the process continued, he found himself lost in thought once more. He wondered about if this was what it would be like if he and Marinette were married, or perhaps living together. How many moments like these would they have?
He could perfectly imagine her relaxing against him while she worked. He would probably be reading a book, maybe watching her work. He always loved watching people do what they loved, there was just something so… inspiring about it.
Marinette handed him another dish, and he began to dry it off. What other moments like this could they have? He could think of several, but which would be the best? What about with their kids?
A smile grew on Adrien's face, and he handed the dish to Tikki and Plagg while he waited for the next one. Maybe his father would even crack a smile when all of his grandkids ran up to him, and-
The warm feeling in his heart suddenly dropped, leaving an icy-cold feeling in its place.
Was it even possible for Gabriel to live a normal life? He'd be in jail when they defeated him- not if, when. Did he want his kids to know about what their grandfather did? Would he dare bring his precious little ones to jail to introduce them to their grandfather? Gabriel was his only living relative left, how could he stoop so low as to-
"-drien? Adrien?" Marinette's worried voice snapped him out of his thoughts again, and he looked at her. Her beautiful bluebell eyes were full of worry and concern. She reached a hand up to wipe away a tear that was falling down his cheek. Had he been crying? He hadn't noticed.
"Are you okay?" Marinette asked softly.
"Fine." Adrien lied out of habit. He instantly berated himself and looked away, ashamed. He knew that she hated lies, and that she knew that he wasn't fine. She knew he was lying. How could he be so stupid?
Her hand landed gently on his shoulder, and Adrien couldn't find himself looking anywhere but her eyes.
"You know, it's okay to cry. Whatever had you running around that late at night must've really shaken you up." Marinette gently pulled him close to her; her other hand wrapping around him in a hug. "Plagg didn't say any specifics, but he did tell me that you were in denial about it. I won't pry, but please don't lie to me, chaton."
He relaxed into the hug, shifting so that he could wrap his arms around her too.
'Get a hold of yourself.' He thought. 'It's not like it's the end of the world.' Marinette pulled out of the hug slightly, smiling up at him. He couldn't find it in himself to not return the smile.
"Come on- now that we're done with the dishes we can sit down and talk." She said softly. Adrien nodded, and absently placed the towel he had been using to dry on the counter. Marinette's hand trailed down to hold his while she led them to the couch. They both sat down- close enough to know that he was comforted by her, but far enough away that they were respecting each other's personal space. They sat in a small, comfortable silence, and he waited for Marinette to say whatever she wanted to say to him.
"What-what do you think happened last night?" She asked.
"That I came over to your house?" He half asked. "I mean, we were kinda-friends as Marinette and Chat, and I'm pretty sure that I'd come and talk to you about it…" He frowned. "But I remember it being really late- there was no way that you were awake then…" Marinette's hand, that wasn't still holding his (yes, the butterflies in his stomach were very happy), was lifted up to rest it on his knee.
"Adrien…" She paused. "When I woke up last night, Tikki had told me that Plagg was sending out a distress signal. She said that something bad had happened to you- that you could be dying." His stomach twisted uncomfortably, eyes going wide.
"But, I don't remember getting into any fights." Marinette smiled and squeezed his knee assuredly.
"You didn't." She confirmed. "At least, none as far as I'm aware. You weren't dying from any wounds." Her words made him feel sick- she was insinuating that he had been dying, after all.
"Then what?"Her smile grew a little pained.
"Hypothermia." He blinked.
"Hypothermia." She spoke a little louder, tears beginning to gather in her eyes. She scooted closer to him, but her eyes never left his. "It's a sickness that's caused when your body temperature is dangerously low. It happens if you spend too much time out in the cold."
That was when Marinette collapsed on Adrien with small sobs, and his hand wrapped around her.
"I-I found you-you on the Ei-Eiffel tower, fa-fast asleep and barely breathing!" She wailed into his chest. "I-I thou-thought that I was too-too late, bu-but then I fou-found your pulse an-and I just knew that I-I had to sa-save you! You-you stupid cat! Ne-Never scare me like th-that again!"
Adrien pulled her closer to him, mind still going thousands of miles per minute. When he finally found it within himself to do so, he swallowed.
"I'm sorry." He whispered to the crying girl that was attached to him. "I didn't mean to scare you." He ran a hand through Marinette's hair, and she sobbed a bit harder. He leaned his head down and nuzzled hers. "I'll never do that again."
"Pr-Promise?" She asked several moments later, after calming down. Adrien smiled and looked her in the eye.
"Hate to interrupt the moment…" Plagg flew down and landed on Marinette's head, gaining his chosen's attention. "But we do need to talk about the reason why you were out so late."
"Right." Adrien's smile faded a bit, but before he could think of doing (or saying) anything, Marinette hugged him tighter.
"We don't have to talk about whatever it is until you're ready to talk about it." She said. Adrien smiled again and nuzzled her head, bringing her closer to him.
'No matter what happens…' He thought. 'I love this girl.'
SEVERAL YEARS LATER
"Ah! Hugo, stop~!" The blackette squealed and rushed behind a wall, all bundled up in her black coat, green snow pants, black snow boots, and a black cat-eared beanie. Her green eyes were alight in joy and mock anger, the said eyes looking down at her younger brother.
"You started it!" The blonde boy yelled, his aquamarine eyes full of joy as he made another snowball and chased after his older sister. He was wearing a blue coat with grey snow pants, and black snow boots. Blue earmuffs were over his ears, keeping him warm.
Meanwhile, his twin was helping his grandfather build a snowman. His blue eyes stared studiously up at the figure made of snow, black hair tousled by the wind. His coat was red, and he had black snow pants and snow boots. A red scarf was wrapped around his neck.
"Something's missing." He stated bluntly. Gabriel leaned down a bit.
"Perhaps a nose?" He asked, holding out a carrot. Louis beamed and happily grabbed the vegetable out of his grandfather's hands. When Louis couldn't place it on the snowman, Gabriel chuckled.
"Do you want a lift?"
"Yes please!" Gabriel leaned down and picked up the five year old with a small grunt, lifting him up high enough for the boy to place the carrot in the grinning snowman's face. Gabriel set Louis down and they both took a step back, admiring their work.
"Grandpa." Louis said eventually, and the elder looked down at him as he looked up at him. "I think that we've made the best snowman in history." Gabriel chuckled and rustled Louis' hair a bit, smiling warmly.
"That we did, Louis." He said fondly, glancing at the boy's parents on the balcony with a knowing twinkle in his eye. "That we did."
Death by cold.
It's an often underrated thing, but it is very real. Many do not know how real it can be.
They knew this- perhaps even more than most. After all, they probably wouldn't be where they were now without it.
Adrien shot his wife a knowing smile, his hand reaching out to hold hers. She looked up at him and returned the smile, wrapping her hand around his. He squeezed it, and she squeezed it back. Then they both looked out at the heartwarming scene before them, smiles growing.
They wouldn't have changed a thing.