and I said I wasn't going to continue this. You know, like a liar
Yep, this fic is getting more chapters. I'm excited to say that Yuumi and I are collaborating for this and have lots of fun ideas, but for now have a little Halloween special. (also shoutout to clover. Happy honorary birthday!)
"I can't believe everything's sold out now," Adrien groaned as he rifled through his wardrobe for something that could be used as a Halloween costume. "If that akuma hadn't hit when I was doing the shoot, I would have had time to sneak off and grab something then, but no. It's like Hawk Moth and my father are tag-teaming to steal any chance of fun from my life."
Plagg floated near him and unwrapped a small wheel of camembert. "Does that mean we can stay here so I can watch my programme?"
"No." Adrien straightened, hands on his hips. "It means I just have to—" His gaze rested on Plagg, and his eyes lit up. Right! He could go as Chat Noir! No, wait, that was a stupid idea. That would draw way too much attention. Everyone would be questioning why Chat Noir was at the party, and he wouldn't be able to relax properly, not with all of his friends there. Ladybug would kill him if he somehow exposed his identity.
He sighed and walked over to collapse face-first onto his bed. "This sucks. At this rate, I'm going to have to go as something dumb like a robber wearing a t-shirt tied around my head, or, or—"
"A sheet ghost?" Plagg offered.
"Yeah. Or that."
If only his father could be lenient just this once. Then it wouldn't matter if he didn't have a costume that covered every identifying feature. Adrien was eighteen now, and it was just one little Halloween party. But Father had been immovable.
"Frankly, I don't know why you're so insistent about going anyway," Plagg said, ever the source of comfort. "I bet they won't even have a decent cheese platter, if they have one at all."
Adrien shifted so that his cheek rested against the pillow, giving him a clear view of Plagg and the stinky cheese that he was now stuffing into his mouth. "You wouldn't understand."
"You're right, I don't. Seems a big waste of time to go to a party and have to pretend you're not there."
"That's 'cause I can't risk Father finding out. You remember what happened that time I sneaked out to go to the movies."
Plagg raised his eyebrows, as if to ask what the point was.
Adrien huffed. "It makes sense to me, okay? I don't care what you think. I always have to miss out on these things, only seeing everything in pictures and stuff, and this time I just want to be there."
He wanted to hear the music, to feel in the excitement and energy of the party. Was that really so much to ask? Besides, he knew that Nino would never blow his cover. And Marinette and Alya would keep his secret, too. If he kept the truth just between the three of them, it would surely work out this time.
Plagg floated down to pat him on the head. "Yeah, alright. I guess you better decide on a costume that hides that pretty face of yours then."
"It'll probably have to be sheet ghost," Adrien sighed, sitting up and plucking at his bed sheet. "It's just so … lazy. No panache at all."
"Make it a pirate ghost porn star."
Adrien scrunched his nose. "What?"
"Isn't that what you humans do? Take something and make it sexier for your Halloween costume? You've got an eyepatch and I know you've still got heels from when you were practicing to run in them."
"Look," Adrien said, folding his arms, "no one told me running in heels would be different from platforms. I had to make sure an akuma couldn't catch me off guard no matter what kind of shoes I got stuck in."
"Right. So, you have all the things for it."
Adrien pressed his palm to his forehead. "Plagg, I'm not going to dress up as a—"
Wait. Maybe Plagg actually was onto something. Not the porn star part, but a sexy ghost pirate? No one would expect Adrien Agreste to dress up as something like that. It was like an extra security feature, and at least his costume would be a little fun.
"You know what," Adrien said, a hint of mischief curving his lips. "Why not?"
Tonight, he would be the sexiest of sheet ghost pirates.
Strappy black heels? Check. Silky smooth legs encased in sheer stockings? Double check. Then there was the white sheet, carefully ripped with his claws, that draped over him in a very ghostly-like manner. The hem stopped above the knee and fell in uneven strips, though it was allowed to hang longer around the arms to create a billowing effect. Two holes for the eyes, a smaller hole for the mouth, and a black eyepatch completed his ensemble.
One sexy pirate ghost was ready to party.
Adrien stood near the entrance and scanned the hired hall. Black cloth had been set up to cover the four walls, and fake cobweb clung from it, intermingled with cut-out spiders. The lighting was dim. Plastic, glowing skeletons had also been stuck around to give a spooky effect. It was a little tacky, sure, but that was what he'd expected. The main thing was that the crowd was already dancing to the music and laughing in small groups.
But where were his friends?
His gaze zeroed on the front. Ah, there was Nino acting as DJ, as usual, and dressed as Rena Rouge. And that was definitely Alya in a Carapace costume and handing Nino a drink. Adrien smiled. He'd go say hello to them soon. They didn't know he had managed to come and would get a big surprise, though he would have to make sure they didn't blurt out his name or anything. Come to think of it, he should probably think of an alias for the night.
He moved towards the dance floor and spotted Kim and Ondine dancing on the outskirts. Kim did a little spin and bumped into a vampire.
"Watch it, clam boy!" the vampire growled at Kim.
"I'm not a clam," Kim retorted, who was indeed dressed as a clam. "I'm a merman! Can't you see the fin attached?"
"Are you messing with me right now?"
Kim just laughed and continued to dance exuberantly with Ondine. She was wearing an actual mermaid costume, complete with glittery tail and a long wig that had little shells stuck to it. Perhaps the two of them had tried to match—try being the key word here. Still, she didn't seem to mind that he was a giant clam with a cardboard fin attached.
Adrien left them to it and finally found Marinette near the food table, dressed as an exorcist with her rosaries glinting in the light. She was also sneaking some of the sweet snacks into her purse. It wasn't a quick dash-and-grab either. She chose each one with deliberation, muttering things under her breath before making her selection. Probably thought she was being stealthy as well. Every now and then, she'd cast looks around as if to check no one was watching.
He bit his lip to hold back a laugh. So, that's how she liked to play it at parties, huh?
Mischievous grin in place, he sneaked up behind her and bent close to her level. "Boo," he said in her ear.
She shrieked and spun around, tossing a mini éclair into the air. "Who—what—"
"I thought you'd be able to get all the snacks you wanted living above a bakery, yet here you are resorting to snack-table thievery." Amusement laced his voice. "I'm shocked, Marinette. Truly shocked."
"Y-you—" Her gaze flicked from his sheet-covered face down to his strappy black heels and then back to his face. Then her eyes widened like huge saucers that wanted to pop out of her skull. "Ch-Chat Noir?"
"Oh my gosh, it's you!"
No, no, no. Not again.
She grabbed his arm, moving closer. "Why are you here?" she hissed.
"Am I not allowed to be at a party?"
The words were out before he could stop them. Panic intermingled with a knee-jerk reflex to tease her were not good combinations, and now it was too late to go back. He had as good as confirmed that he was Chat Noir.
Her grip tightened on his arm. "I can't believe you! I can't believe you're here right now and wearing this—this—" Her gaze once more drifted down to his heels, taking in his smooth legs and the glimpse of thigh peeping out between the ripples of shredded bed sheet. Pink bloomed on her cheeks. "What are you even wearing?"
"Isn't it obvious? I'm a sexy pirate ghost." He struck a pose: hip popped, his palm cradling his jaw to draw attention to his lips, cheekbones, and eyes. Except there was only white sheet and a black eyepatch.
She groaned and let go of his arm so she could pinch the bridge of her nose. "This is terrible."
"Hey, I totally rock these heels."
"Not the heels." She waved a dismissive hand, still pinching the bridge of her nose with the other as if to fend off a migraine.
"Is it my legs? Because I'll have you know I work hard to keep these legs looking good in or out of the suit."
"No, no, it's not your legs or your heels."
He leaned closer, tapping one of the rosaries on her costume. "Is it because you're an exorcist and I'm a ghost and now we're fated to be sworn enemies for life?"
A snort escaped her. "No, you dork."
"Because we can totally make a redemption arc happen. Yours, of course. You're the big bad guy here who has to have a change of—"
"Stop, stop." She clamped her hand over his mouth, or at least the sheet. Her lips quivered with repressed laughter. "You know that's not what I meant."
He grinned, enjoying the way she struggled to put on her Serious Face. Even if she managed a frown, her eyes would still give her away: they always lit up so brightly, a twining of laughter and twinkling stars. Ladybug was the same.
"Then what's the problem?" he said, straightening to his full height.
"You." She poked him in the chest. "You should not be here. You know that."
"What if I was invited?"
She opened and closed her mouth, a few wrinkles forming on her brow. "You mean you you?"
"I mean me me."
Panic flared in her eyes like a switch had been flicked. "Chat!" she groaned, gripping both of his arms. "You can't just tell me these things! Now I know you go to my university—"
"Or I could just be friends with someone who does."
"Same thing! The point is you're here, and you're not wearing your suit, and that sheet looks way too easy to pull off, and what if someone does tug it off? Then your face will be exposed and I'll know who you are. Or maybe I won't know who you are, but it won't matter because I'll still have seen your face, and then that will be burned into my mind forever, and then—"
"Hey, hey." He placed his hands over hers, hoping that his touch would stem the flow of her bullet-train speech. He hadn't meant to send her spiralling. "It's okay. Nothing bad is going to happen."
"You don't know that!"
"Wanna introduce me, Marinette?"
They both flinched and turned to find Alya holding a cup and smiling at them. Marinette pulled away from him as if burned.
"Him?" Marinette said.
"Oh, he's …"
"This is Théo."
"Théo," he mouthed. The Copycat guy's name? Was she serious?
Alya blinked. "Oh, the guy who did the Ladybug and Chat Noir sculpture?"
"No," he said with a strained smile, not that any of them could see it. "I'm a different Théo. We exist."
"Right, right." Alya took a sip of her drink. "So, how do you two know each other?"
"Work," he said at the same time.
Marinette forced a twitchy grin. "Class and work. We just keep running into each other." She laughed, but it was so stilted that it made him think of a video trying to play on lagging internet. Still, he managed to repress his wince and joined in with her laughter.
"That's right," he said, looping his arm around her shoulders. "That's how we became friends. I call her Nette-Nette for short."
"No, you don't," she gritted out through her smile.
"I sure do, Nette-Nette."
Their eyes met, and though the sheet covered his face, both of them wore the same expression: rigid jaw, slightly narrowed brow. She pinched his arm, a sure warning that they were going to talk about this, but he just pinched her back. Oh, yes. They were definitely going to talk about this. Of all the names, she had to call him Théo.
"Would you give us a moment, Alya?" Marinette said, already trying to steer him away.
"Wait, do you two mind posing for a photo. Ghost and exorcist and all that."
"We'd love to," Adrien said, mostly because he knew it would annoy Marinette. As Plagg knew first-hand, he could be petty when he wanted.
Marinette released him so she could take up an exorcising stance with a rosary—all heavy brow and judgement. In turn, he shifted into the caricature of sexy: knees together, butt out, and then he blew her a big old kiss.
"Great!" Alya said, capturing the shot.
"You wanna do your redemption arc now?" he asked.
Marinette's lips twitched. "Oh, shut up."
He laughed and relaxed out of his stance, even as she looked away so he wouldn't see her smile. (Too late; he already had.)
"It was nice to meet you, Alya," he said. "Perhaps we can all dance together when Marinette and I get back."
Marinette grabbed his hand. "And on that note, we'll be back."
She whisked him off to the hallway, finding a quieter space for them near a door that maybe led to a backroom or a closet. "Okay, what the heck was with Nette-Nette?" she demanded.
"You started it. You called me Théo."
"It was the first name that came to my head!"
"That's the sculptor guy's name! You know, the guy who tried to steal my identity and made all of Paris think I was a thief!"
"Oh, come on, that was four years ago."
He pouted. "Look, I'm allowed to not like him. He was a jerk, and his name is dumb."
She rolled her eyes. "It's just a name. Could have been worse. I could have called you Kévin."
Before he could retort, a drunk bumblebee and Snow White came barraging down the hallway, and Adrien suddenly felt the sheet tug and lift from his body. Everything after that happened very quickly. Marinette let out the strangest sound he'd ever heard: a choked thing that was like a startled goose crossed with a mouse. She opened the door to her left and shoved him inside with her. He got a glimpse of shelves, colourful bottles, and a mop before the door shut. Then darkness. Every breath tasted like dust and the sharp tang of chemicals.
"Transform!" she squeaked. "Transform now! I didn't see anything, but—"
"Marinette." He bit back a laugh. "It's okay."
"It's not okay! You lost your sheet!"
He leaned past her and fumbled for the light switch, patting around until he at last found it.
"Don't!" she said. "You—I'm not supposed to—"
"Marinette." He gently pulled her hands away from her eyes, standing with her under the glow of the lightbulb. "It's okay. I promise. You can look."
She had her eyes squeezed shut, but now she risked peeping through one. He smiled as he met her gaze, knowing what she would see: a man wearing black heels and a sheet draped over his head that had been artfully ripped at the hem to give a ghost effect. The only difference was that this sheet was sleeveless and he'd used leftover sheet to make a belt, cinching the whole thing securely at the waist.
Marinette groaned and leaned forward, letting her head thunk against his chest. "You could have told me you'd layered up like some Russian nesting dolls."
He laughed and patted her head. "I was trying to tell you earlier that nothing bad would happen. I came well prepared."
"Okay, but there's no way I could have expected you to have done that. I mean there's being prepared and then there's wearing two layers of the same costume."
"Even sexy pirate ghosts get cold."
She snorted and wrapped her arms around his waist, pulling him into a hug. "Not sure you can call yourself a pirate ghost now. You lost your eyepatch."
"Honestly, it's no loss. It was annoying me."
Her shoulders shook in a muffled laugh, and because she seemed quite content to nestle against him, he wrapped his arms around her, too.
"Hey, Marinette," he murmured after a moment.
"How'd you know it was me? When you first saw me, I mean."
"I don't know. It just felt like you."
"Felt like me? What does that even mean?"
"I don't know." She stepped back from him and folded her arms. "Can we stop talking about this? I mean you shouldn't have spoken to me tonight in the first place."
Oh great, she was back to scolding him again.
"I'm sorry," he said, because he didn't know what else to say. It wasn't like he could explain that actually he was her friend, Adrien Agreste, and he had been hoping to hang out with her tonight. She was the one who had jumped straight to superhero. "But there's no use worrying about that now, right? So can't we still have fun together?"
One corner of her mouth quirked up. "Even if that means you have to be a guy named Théo?"
"Yes, even if that means I have to be a guy named Théo."
She laughed and once more grabbed his hand. "Alright. Let's see how well you dance in those heels."