Inspired by an AU by Asian-simba
"… yes, thank you! I'll let her know. Okay, bye."
Marinette set the phone back on the desk with a clatter and groaned softly to herself. She was in the third week of her internship, and it was … not quite going the way she had always imagined it would.
It wasn't that she had been naïve. She had known that fashion internships were mostly phone calls and errands and pulling pieces together for supervisors. The work itself, she didn't mind. Menial tasks were menial, but necessary. It was just that, when compared to the thrill of designing and sewing and modeling her own pieces, the internship felt stifling.
But she was interning at Agreste Designs! Of all places! That in itself was enough to keep her morale high.
Well, for the most part.
"Girls, you will never believe what Mme. Sancoeur just said to me!"
Chloé Bourgeois flounced into the office the interns all shared, carrying with her the now-familiar air of arrogance that Marinette had already complained about to Alya several times over at this point. Most of Marinette's fellow interns were sweet and kind enough when she talked with them one-on-one, but the de facto queen bee Chloé had – for some reason – singled Marinette out as The One She Didn't Like, So No One Else Should Like Her Either.
So Marinette was having trouble on the 'making friends' front, but still – she was working at Agreste Designs! Besides, Chloé only had a couple hundred followers on Instagram compared to Ladybug's couple hundred thousand, and she derived a small amount of petty satisfaction from that.
"What did she say?" Sabrina Raincomprix asked eagerly, looking up from her work organizing the company closet.
"She said that Adrien has a shoot tomorrow, and that I'm going to be helping out as a personal assistant!" Chloé pulled her sunglasses from where they sat perched on her head and snapped them shut with a sense of finality.
Sabrina gasped, and several of the other interns congratulated Chloé as well. Marinette resisted the urge to roll her eyes. They were all helping out with the shoot tomorrow, it was nothing special. Well, it was, because they'd get to meet Adrien fucking Agreste, but it was par to the course for interns to help out at shoots. They'd already helped out with several lower-profile shoots.
Marinette quirked her lips into a smile and shook her head slightly as she opened her email. Sighing softly, she tried to get over herself. What did it matter if Chloé got a position like 'personal assistant' while she only got something like 'wardrobe assistant'? Nothing. Being Ladybug didn't give her bonus points – not here. The only two people who knew who she was behind the mask of Internet were Nathalie Sancoeur and Gabriel Agreste himself.
And, as evidenced by this development, Nathalie Sancoeur was not one to play favorites.
Speaking of, Marinette had an email waiting for her in her inbox.
From: Sancoeur, Nathalie
To: Dupain-Cheng, Marinette
Subject: Wardrobe for Tomorrow's Shoot
Please find the following pieces in the company closet and make sure they are in top shape for tomorrow. We accept nothing less than perfection.
Attached: 1 File
Marinette had quickly learned that 'nothing less than perfection' was the unofficial company motto. Nathalie closed almost all of her emails with it. Every company-wide email closed with the line as well. It made for an intimidating atmosphere, and Marinette had had a hard time adjusting to it at first.
In fact, her misplaced words and general awkward bumbling air of incompetence was what Chloé had latched onto her first week and turned against her. Marinette would never admit it to anyone else, but she had gone home and cried on that very first night. She had tried to be quiet, but their apartment was small and Alya had heard her anyway.
After a small amount of pity and commiseration, Alya had dug through Marinette's closet and threw a military-style jacket at her with a high collar and two rows of gold buttons down the sides of the opening. Soon after came a white shirt, gold leggings, and a pair of combat boots. Because it was summer, the sun hadn't quite set, and so they had gone out and done an impromptu power-pose photoshoot in front of Les Invalides.
Marinette had gone into work the next day with far more determination than she'd felt the night before. Unfortunately, it wasn't until the end of that week that she felt like she'd finally settled into the groove of things.
But that didn't matter now. She printed the list of items Nathalie requested and closed the email. Pushing herself away from the desk, she ignored the eyes upon her and Chloé's titters as she left the room.
Fun fact: Chloé Bourgeois followed Ladybug on Instagram.
The company closet was impressive, to say the very least. Marinette had been in there a couple times now, and yet she was still stunned by the sheer amount of color and texture and fabric in the room. Even more stunning was the fact she recognized several of the pieces from past Agreste collections and magazines and, admittedly, Adrien's photoshoots. And she was here! In the room with them!
She shook the stars from her eyes and gathered the pieces on the list, hanging them on the trolley she had grabbed along the way. Once she had everything she needed, she rolled them out to the workroom, where she painstakingly steamed and ironed and lint-rolled under the watchful eyes of the senior seamstresses.
Thankfully, she managed not to screw anything up the way she had the first time she'd been left to her own devices. She knew how much steam and heat each fabric required, but under the stress she had accidently gotten them mixed up. It was a mistake she wouldn't make again.
The rest of the day went quickly. Marinette kept her head down and did what needed to be done. She asked Nathalie if there was anything else she could help with. She didn't complain when she was sent out on a coffee run – at least she got some fresh air.
The next day, a day she'd dreamed of since her years in collège, came all too quickly.
Marinette swallowed hard against the sensation of her stomach leaping up into her throat. All of her fellow interns were dressed and made-up so well. Rose wore a cute blue sundress. Juleka wore a sharp suit. Sabrina wore a fashionable romper. Chloé had gone above and beyond and wore a bright yellow bodycon dress.
"You do realize we're meeting Adrien Agreste today, right?" Juleka asked.
"Uhm, yeah," Marinette said.
It was clear the others thought she hadn't dressed for the occasion. Which, well, maybe she hadn't. She wore a white cropped t-shirt over a pink bralette with a pair of matching pastel pink high-rise pants that came down to just above her ankles. Navy blue pumps and a navy blazer completed the outfit. Her hair was in its usual pigtails, and she only had the lightest brushing of makeup on her face.
She had meant to dress up a little more that morning, but she'd been up late sewing and had slept through her early alarm, giving her far less time to get ready than she'd wanted. She had supposed it didn't really matter – they were just interns, after all. At least she was wearing heels, although she'd brought Converse for when her feet started to kill her.
Unlike the others, who had been assigned roles like 'personal assistant' and 'camera assistant' – every intern position had the term 'assistant' in it – she would be working behind the scenes in the wardrobe department. Honestly, she didn't mind. She would get to be hands-on with the clothes, which was what really mattered.
Unfortunately, part of her wouldn't be happy unless she actually met Adrien.
Then again, what could she say?
"It's not like I can just walk up to him and tell him I'm Ladybug," she muttered to herself as she fetched the rack of clothes she had collected the day before. "He'd think I'm crazy, or that I'm just trying to get his attention."
She sighed heavily. She would just stare at him, starstruck, like every other foolish girl who had hung pictures of him in her room during collège and lycée. She hadn't taken them down by the time she moved out for université, so they were still up there – an embarrassing shrine to a celebrity crush that had since faded, but had never gone away completely.
Marinette hummed quietly to herself as she rolled the trolley from the workroom to the men's dressing room. She knocked on the closed door. When she didn't get a response, she opened the door and propped it with a nearby wedge so that she could wheel the rack in.
Carefully, she began arranging the pieces by outfit. She understood the value of time in this sort of thing, and was careful not to miss a single detail. Her mind drifted back to her own closet – it was still growing, but thankfully far more organized than it had been a few months ago.
She finished laying everything out fairly quickly, but she … really didn't want go back and join the others. Catching sight of herself in the mirror, she made a face. One of her pigtails was falling out. She sighed and pulled both ties out of her hair to let it fall around her shoulders. She shook it out, then pulled it up into a high messy bun.
Still humming to herself, she started to dance a little in front of the mirror, pulling exaggeratedly seductive faces at herself as she wiggled her hips and waved her arms about.
As she came out of a twirl, she caught movement out of the corner of her eye. Looking over at the other end of the mirror, she froze when she saw green eyes staring back at her.
A face like no other.
Marinette squeaked. She froze, her face flushing bright red. "Uh. Sorry, I was just. Uh. The mirror –"
Adrien – Adrien Agreste – smiled and chuckled. God, his laugh was adorable. "Don't worry about it," he said, addressing her though the mirror. "The door was open, so I thought I'd find someone in here. You're one of my dad's interns, right?"
Marinette turned to face him proper and rubbed the back of her neck nervously. "It's that obvious, huh?" She giggled.
"Dude, relax," Adrien said, leaving the doorway and – oh god – walking closer. "I grew up around basically everyone in this company. It's easy to recognize new faces."
"Oh. Yeah," Marinette said sheepishly. "I suppose you're right. I forgot about that."
Suddenly he was standing within arm's reach, and Marinette didn't know what to do with herself. Whenever she'd played out this exact situation in her head, she'd known exactly what it was she would say. Now, all of that flew from her brain like pigeons flying the coop.
"At risk of sounding conceited, I realize you probably already know who I am," Adrien said, holding his hand out, "But I'm Adrien Agreste. What's your name?"
Marinette took his hand on instinct. Oh. It was warm. And soft. And his cologne smelled good. "M-Marinette," she managed to say. Merde, she forgot her last name. "Marinette Dupain-Cheng."
Adrien grinned. "Pleased to meet you, Marinette!"
"Pleased to meet you too," Marinette replied weakly, letting go of his hand. "Uhm. I should go find Mme. Sancoeur and find out what I'm supposed to be doing now."
"Well, don't let me keep you," Adrien said. "Nathalie can be scary when things aren't running smoothly!"
Marinette felt some of the tension leave her body. "Yeah, that's one word for it," she said. "Well, I'll see you later, I guess!"
While she had been managing just fine in her heels all morning, Marinette felt like she tottered out of the dressing room. Adrien Agreste. She'd just met Adrien Agreste. And now he knew her name! (He had also caught her dancing awkwardly in his dressing room, but that didn't really seem to matter). Honestly, she could die happy right there and then.
But she didn't. She pulled herself together and reported back to Mme. Sancoeur for her next task.
Marinette hovered in the back of the room, away from the cameras and the bright lights and Adrien Agreste's even brighter smile. Professional photoshoots were fascinating to watch. Everything went like clockwork.
Several poses in quick succession.
Adrien moved so naturally in front of the camera. With an easy smile and a casual brush at a stray piece of hair, Marinette's heart nearly fell out of her chest when he glanced in her direction. Not at her, in her direction.
This was bad. This was very, very bad. She felt herself falling faster and harder than she ever had before. Back in collège and lycée, all she had were posters and fashion shows and filmed interviews. The crush could only have been superficial – she didn't know him.
But now she did. Well, she'd met him. Briefly. And he'd graciously overlooked the way she'd made a fool of herself.
And that was all it took.
Chloe stood up front and off to the side, watching Adrien with an unsettlingly hungry look in her eyes. Marinette noticed Adrien did his best not to turn toward her, which gave her a strange sense of satisfaction. Each time it became obvious, it was all she could do to contain giggles.
The first three outfits went smoothly, but it was the fourth that really got Marinette in trouble. It was a shimmery, almost reflective white suit with a bright emerald tie, extremely well-cut and flattering. The man looked like an angel, and Marinette's heart ached. That suit would go so well with the flowy white dress that Adrien himself had re-grammed. With deep breaths, she tried to center herself, but the very thought threatened to consume her.
This shoot called for athletic poses that would cause the light to reflect off the suit in as many ways as possible. Marinette could only stare as he jumped about on the platform, sometimes with serious faces, sometimes with goofy excited ones. There were a couple green lights added to the collection of white ones, which added a spot of color.
"Non, non, non!" Mme. Sancoeur cried, breaking Marinette from her thoughts. "This isn't working! The tie keeps moving off center! Marinette, the pins!"
Startled, Marinette grabbed the small box of pins as fast as she could. A sharp, stabbing pain in her finger stopped her short as she impaled herself on a loose one. Checking her finger, she saw to her dismay that she had started bleeding. She couldn't get blood on that suit!
Rather than hand the pins off to someone else, she grabbed a bandaid from her pocket. She had started keeping them with her about halfway through the first week of the internship. Hastily, she wrapped it around her index finger, where it joined the couple others she already had on other fingers.
"I'm coming!" she cried, and hurried up to the front, her heels clicking frantically across the floor.
When she got there, Mme. Sancoeur was turned away on her headset talking to someone. Marinette gulped. This would be up to her, then. Okay. She could do this. Easy.
She took a deep breath and stepped up onto the platform, her legs shaking beneath her. The clack of her heels against the platform sounded infinitely louder than it had against the floor just moments before. She clutched the box of pins at if it were her lifeline, knuckles white against the cardboard.
Her heart thumped fiercely. When she dared to look up at Adrien's face, it kicked into overdrive. She kept her breathing measured – if she didn't consciously think about it, she might stop breathing altogether.
"So," Adrien said quietly, one corner of his mouth pulling into a half-smile. "We meet again. Didn't you say we would?"
"Uhm." Marinette scrambled for words. "Y-yeah, I guess I did." She let out a small laugh.
Adrien leaned in conspiratorially. "Just try not to stab me," he said. "I've been stabbed more times than I can count at these things."
"T-that was my intention," Marinette stammered as she reached for his tie. "Not stabbing you, I mean!"
It was obvious he was trying to put her at ease, she thought as she carefully adjusted the emerald tie. Unfortunately, his easy, borderline flirty tone just made things even harder. She kept her eyes on the tie as she pinned it in place, and if her hands lingered a little longer than need be, it was only by fractions of a second. When she finished, she looked up to see Adrien looking back at her with an inquisitive look on his face.
"What?" she asked.
He shook his head. "Nothing," he said. "Thank you, Marinette."
At hearing her name leave his lips, Marinette blushed, nodded, and quickly retreated from the platform to her safe spot in the back of the room.
Unfortunately, this time when he glanced in her direction, she knew he was actually looking at her.
God, she was so fucked.
I've had this chapter written for months. I was hoping to wait to post it until I had the next chapter written, but the past couple months have been really rough for me personally, and all my writing fell by the wayside. I'm starting to get back into it now, but I can still only write what I really feel inspiration for, and this fic isn't quite at that level for me right now.
I WILL be continuing this fic, I promise! I'm planning to finally watch season 2 when it's released to Netflix, and that should get my ML brain juices flowing again. Thank you all for sticking with me though this unexpected hiatus, I'm glad you like reading this story as much as I do writing it 3
If anyone is interested in the meantime, I created a discord server for my fics. I'm new to this whole discord thing but there's channels there for Instantane, Fermeture, and La Curiosite, so if you wanna talk to me about any fic, feel free to do so there! Invite link is here: discord . gg / E5rT8kH