"The roses are over half a century old," Gabriel tells his son at dinner that night. "I noticed you were out in the garden. I thought you might like them, when I bought the house."
"They're very nice. Thanks, Dad," Adrien pushes the shrimp around in their sauce, taking a bite out of one. "The shrimp's great too."
Gabriel smiles. "I'm glad you like it. Isn't it nice to be able to eat dinner together again? We'll have much more free time out here."
Adrien offers a genuine smile at that. "I'd like that a lot... hey, dad?"
"Is the house haunted?"
The humor drains from Gabriel's face. "No, Adrien."
"Because, the thing is, I saw this girl in the garden. She said it was her house, and-"
"No, Adrien. Stop right there. This is you seeking attention. We both know that you do not see ghosts, and if you do, then I'm making a mistake and you need to see a psychiatrist. Do you need to see a psychiatrist?" Gabriel demands.
Adrien cringes back. "No, Dad. Sorry, I was just kidding around."
Gabriel relaxes, smiling. "Okay. Listen, Adrien, I know that you've been... effected, by all of this-"
"I'm fine, Dad," he smiles, getting up. "I... I'm going to go up to my room and unpack, okay?"
"Alright," the man seems relieved to be rid of this conversation.
Adrien races up the stairs, ready to message Nino, but when he flings the door open...
She's floating over that canopy bed...?
"Okay, what the hell?" he rolls his eyes. "Nice to meet you, Miss Ghost Person, I'm Adrien, and I guess we'll be living together, I honestly can't give a shit right now."
She blinks, and tilts her head. "Well, you're rude."
"Sorry," he looks down, a bit embarrassed, although he's pretty sure that it's okay to be rude to hallucinations... still. "I'm a little tired, and I'm not supposed to talk to ghosts. Also, I had no idea you'd be here, so..."
"You didn't?" She raises an eyebrow. "Every other guest I've had at least heard the stories."
She gives him a deadpan look. "So you actually don't know who I am?"
"Not a clue."
"You're... serious right now?"
He grins at her, and tilts his head. "I'm dead serious."
She glares at him. "That was terrible."
"You grave me the perfect opening!" he laughs, sitting on the bed beside her as she smacks her forehead with the palm of her hand. "C'mon, live a little!"
"That is... not the reaction most people have to seeing me," she mutters. "I was expecting screaming..."
Adrien shakes his head. "I'm not most people. Now, who are you then?"
"I'm the Ladybug."
That thing Nino told him to look up? "Well, it's nice to meet you, my Lady," he jumps up and bows deeply, the picture of a... dramatic teenage guy. Which he is, so it's no great feat. "I mentioned my name before, right?"
"Yeah. You're Adrien, and you honestly can't give a shit right now," she smiles slightly at the bow. "Nice to meet me, is it?"
"Very much so! What guy wouldn't want to find a beautiful Lady in his bedroom?"
She wrinkles her nose. "Down, Tomcat."
He laughs, and attempts to take her hand... before passing right through it, to her apparent amusement. "Alas, my Lady! You mock me, while my only intent was to show my respect with a kiss to thine lovely hand!"
"I died in the eighteen-eighties, not the sixteen-eighties, you don't have to talk like that," she giggles. He shrugs, and leans back.
"So, why did Nino tell me to look you up? And why wouldn't he talk about you?"
"Because I've killed thirty-eight people."
The sun shines down through the window as birds chirp outside, while the bedroom stills after that proclamation.
"I'm sorry... what?!"
"Yes, when the sun goes down, I transform into a vengeful demon seeking revenge on any who trespass into my house. So, ah, you and your father might want to leave before that happens," she bites her lip, tilting her head.
"... That's... um... good to know," he stammers out, before seeing the huge grin on her face as she bursts out laughing. "Wait, why is that funny?"
"You should have seen your face!" she wipes a tear of mirth. "No, I don't turn into a demon, and I haven't killed thirty-eight people, I just wanted to get back at you for the puns," she explains, settling down on the bed, her red dress fluttering in an imagined wind.
"Ha ha, you're hilarious," he rolls his eyes. "At least my puns don't give people heart attacks."
"They're pretty bad, someone could die of secondhand embarrassment."
"So seriously, why was Nino scared of you?"
She bites her lip.
"Well..." she rubs the back of her neck. "It's not thirty-eight. But I have killed before. I'm this town's favorite horror story. Ladybugs bring luck, you know that? But dead ladybugs bring death to all around them. I don't know who came up with that, but it stuck."
"And your real name is...?"
She laughs again, and suddenly, black spots seem to appear on her skin... burns. The skin between the dark burns glows red, before it fades back from the burnt nightmare flesh to soft, translucent skin. "Because that girl died in a fire. Her name is lost forever to history."
"Who's dramatic now?"
She gives him a look. "You're really not afraid of me."
"I see no reason to be."
"So?" he shrugs. "I'm acquainted with death. And I'd like to get acquainted with you." He offers a hand, meeting her eyes with a hint of an honest smile.
Her eyes widen, and her breath catches. "You look like him..." she murmurs, before carefully meeting his hand with her own, and he feels the cold where they touch. Something about it feels right.
Then the sky darkens, and in an instant, she's gone again, a sudden rainstorm sending shadows over the girl made of light.