A/N: Guess who got her butt in gear early and is starting a Love Square month on time? XD Meaning daily updates for the month of June ;)
Adrien was sixteen when he visited New York for the first time. An overrated city, if you asked him. The only reason he was here was because he had been dragged along by his father to go meet Ms. Audrey Bourgeois, her daughter, and her protégé.
The first thing that was abundantly clear was that Adrien wanted to spend as little time as humanly possible around Miss Chloe, Ms. Bourgeois' daughter. Clingy and entitled was the best way to describe it. There really wasn't much of a difference between her and most of his fangirls.
However, there was one person that they didn't get to meet.
"I thought you said I would be meeting your protégé," his father said.
"Yes," Ms. Bourgeois began, her scowl deepening. "Except I had to let her go."
Gabriel rose a single brow.
"Yes," the woman said with an exaggerated sigh. "It's a long story I don't care to bore you with, but she didn't have the… tenacity to do what we do here. She simply didn't fit. Mercy and sweetness have no place in a ruthless world of fashion."
Adrien disagreed, but he couldn't exactly tell a woman as famous as Audrey Bourgeois otherwise.
"Now," she continued, "shall we start the tour of my headquarters?"
And that was the beginning of one of the most boring tours Adrien had been on. Not that he'd been on many interesting ones when it came to offices. An office was an office, and despite working in fashion, he really didn't care much for it.
So, when he was granted the opportunity to slip away, he gladly took it.
He wandered down a hallway with the intent of pulling out his phone and playing whatever game seemed interesting, but he paused when he heard crying. Curious, Adrien followed the sound to a storage room. And upon peeking inside, spotted a girl sitting on the floor, her legs curled to her chest and her head hidden between her knees.
Adrien knocked, startling the girl. She froze but didn't lift her head. "Are you okay?" he asked.
The girl remained frozen.
"Can I come in?"
"Leave me," she said.
"Are you sure?" he asked.
"Yeah. I'll be gone soon enough. Don't worry. You don't have to kick me out."
"Who said anything about kicking you out?"
At that, the girl finally raised her head.
Adrien gave her a smile, hoping to put her at ease as he walked up to her and knelt beside her. "Hey," he said with a weak wave.
She stared for a moment before a look of horror crossed her face. "Oh my gosh," she whined. "You're Adrien Agreste."
He gave her a smile and a nod. "That I am."
In a second, she buried her head between her knees again. "How humiliating."
"Hey, no. Don't worry," he tried to placate. "You're upset over something. There's nothing shameful about that. Do you want someone to talk to?"
She shook her head. "I can't. I don't want to get in trouble."
"I won't tell," he said. "I swear on my life I will not tell a soul."
Again, she stared at him blankly before giving a pitiful smile. "I'm sorry, but I can't."
He nodded. "Fair enough. But do you want to talk about it in vague terms?"
With a heavy sigh, she curled up on herself again, resting her chin on her arms crossed over her knees that were still pulled up to her chest. "Let's just say," she began. "That I had a really good opportunity. And I worked really hard to prove myself, only for it to fall apart because I… I apparently don't have the traits needed to continue."
Adrien frowned. "That happens," he said. "Just because you're passionate over something doesn't mean you have the talent for it. There are times you can practice enough to overcome that, though. You just have to work harder."
She looked at him. "But… I can't. Because the opportunity I had is gone and the likelihood of having another one is zero."
"Can you make your own opportunity?"
She frowned. "What?"
"Can you make your own opportunity?" he repeated. "You have a goal in mind, obviously. Can you reach that goal another way?"
She shrugged. "I mean… I can. But there are a lot of other people going that route, and it's going to take longer, and there are only so many positions open, and none of it is going be like this opportunity that I lost, so what do I do?"
Adrien paused to think. "Well," he said. "I think it's time to trailblaze."
Her brow furrowed and her head tilted. He could say with honesty that despite the trails of mascara on her cheeks, she was still really cute. "Trailblaze?"
"My father was told by a lot of people that he couldn't be a fashion designer. And the regular 'college, internship, job, boss' model wasn't exactly working for him. He couldn't even get past the 'college' phase because he just 'wasn't cut out to be a fashion designer' everyone said. So, he basically said 'screw it all' and made his own way, only to be discovered by Ms. Bourgeois which lead to his success. I'm saying that anything is possible, and if you really want to get one of those spots at the end of whatever path you're on, you might have to trailblaze a different route to do it. So don't give up, okay?"
She sat there, her mouth slightly agape as she stared at him. "You…" She blinked a few times, clearly struggling with her words. "You really think it's possible?"
He smiled. "I'll bet there's hope for you yet," he said. "You just have to work twice as hard to get it, now."
Just then, his phone went off. He pulled it out, only to see a message from his father demanding his return to his side.
With a sigh, Adrien stood, knowing he needed to not press his father any further. "I must be off, my lady. It was an honor keeping you company."
"No," she said, scrambling to her feet. "The honor is mine. I… thank you so much for all your kind words."
He smiled. "Keep your chin up," he said, taking her hand and raising it to his lips. "There's always hope for those who keep pressing forward."
With that, he pressed a kiss to her knuckles like any gentleman would do. Underneath the smeared make-up, he could see her blush.
Cute. He thought before giving her a salute and heading out of the room.
Trailblaze, huh? Marinette asked as she boarded a plane back to Paris. She'd been in New York only a couple months after Audrey Bourgeois discovered her and practically begged her to come back to New York as her protégé. Marinette had been so excited about it and agreed on the spot, knowing that it was a fantastic opportunity.
Apparently, said opportunity meant sacrificing who she was to be molded into something she wouldn't be proud of. She'd had to step back to her moral boundary, and she'd paid the price for it.
But Adrien's words lingered in her mind. Trailblaze. Find a new way to the goal.
And so, that's what she decided to do. Fashion was her biggest love, and if she had to work at the bakery for a long time until she could turn her love of fashion into a career, that wouldn't be so bad.
Would it be hard? Yes? But the biggest question was would the pay-off be worth it?
Halfway through the flight, she decided her answer. And by the time she was back in Paris, she had sketched out a plan for a new trail.