posted: 10.30.20
word count: 1,760
prompt: pastries


It hadn't been long since they started, but Adrien was definitely feeling out of his depth and in way over his head. It was his idea. It had definitely, certainly, been Adrien's idea to do this, but he was kind of, sort of, almost regretting the very thought right now. There was just so much stuff.

"Okay, that's the last of it!" Marinette cheered as she set a bag of flour onto the counter. "So, we have our flour, our eggs, sugar, milk, vanilla, baking powder, baking soda, brown sugar, chocolate and salt! What do you want to tackle first?" Marinette glanced up at him expectantly, gray jacket discarded somewhere in the house so that the short sleeves of her blouse revealed her arms. They were stronger than they appeared in the jacket, clearly toned and defined, but not having the appearance of a bodybuilder. Adrien found them strangely attractive and slightly distracting. He probably shouldn't be fixated on his friend's arms, but it was definitely better than trying to sort out his thoughts regarding this whole baking thing.

"Um, girl, I think you broke him."

"Huh?"

"Dude, just pick something," Nino poked Adrien in the back and Adrien jumped. He blinked.

"Um… what are our options again?"

"Dude, didn't you say you had recipes?"

"I did?" Adrien blinked dumbly. A pinch just below his collarbone, near the pocket Plagg usually rested in, kicked Adrien back into gear and he could think again. "Oh, right! Um. Won't macarons take the longest? I was thinking we could start with those and then maybe move onto the chocolate chip cookies and maybe brownies and croissants if we have time?"

"Whoa, now, Sunshine," said Alya. "That's a lot of baking there. What was this for again?"

"A charity bake sale for Critter Connection Inc. It's not a very popular charity because people like cats and dogs better, but hamsters and guinea pigs are just as cool. We don't have to bake a lot, I just really want it to do well." Adrien brought a hand to the back of his head, ruffling up his hair in the way that his father is always scolding him for, but Adiren can't seem to control it any better than he could five years ago. He was nervous and he didn't want his friends to think any less of him, but he also didn't want to guilt them into doing something that they didn't want to do. Critter Connections was sort of a secret passion of his and he already felt plenty self-conscious because of how Nathalie and his father stared at him when he first brought up the charity a year or so ago, and Plagg hasn't been making things much better.

"I wish you would have told me this sooner," Marinette sighed, a slightly disappointed tone in her voice. Of course, if Adrien had told her this before they had all come over to her house, she would have told him no and to bake them on his own, or maybe just buy them from the bakery downstairs. It's not like Adrien hadn't thought it, he just thought it would be more fun to bake everything with his friends. "I'm gonna have to get another bag of flour from Papa. I'll be right back! Adrien, do you think you can help me?"

When Adrien made his list, he was thinking that maybe, just maybe, the recipes would all be simple and he and his friends would all be able to work on different things and chat and have fun and maybe get an hour or so of just hanging out and spending time together. The recipes had certainly looked simple enough. When Nathalie had cleared out a good portion of his schedule so that he could go baking with his friends, Adrien just thought maybe she was perhaps being nice for once.

In a way, he wasn't wrong; for the most part, the recipes were simple. For the most part, once they got things mixed and into bowls, the actual baking part, the waiting for things to cook part, was literally a matter of waiting. Even if Adrien had plenty of experience with waiting, between travel time to photoshoots, call times on photoshoots, and waiting for his father to, well, be a father, he didn't like actually doing it. Still, Adrien quickly learned to leave the oven door alone, if only to avoid Marinette's unexpected strength. The one time she hit him was enough to stop him. Adrien had always believed Marinette was a force to be reckoned with, from her barricade of town hall to facing down Akuma without breaking a sweat, but actually standing beside her as himself while she stood in charge of her kitchen? Leader Marinette was gorgeous, her voice was clear and her instructions concise, leaving no room for an inexperienced baker like Adrien to make mistakes. There was something in her tone that was attractive, the fire in her eyes did things that he was definitely not going to admit to, and Marinette did not stutter. One. Single. Time.

Later that evening, Adrien lay across the floor outside of the Dupain-Cheng family's kitchen later, worn out from whisking, mixing, spraying, molding, and folding. He was definitely an unpresentable mess, and his father might be extremely displeased when he saw him, but Adrien was excited. He was happy that he got to spend all afternoon baking with his friends, and the things they baked actually turned out to be edible (as if they were going to do anything else when they had Marinette Dupain-Kick-Ass-Cheng leading them) and actually delicious (again, they had a Marinette) and God, Adrien was so proud of what he accomplished today. Alya lay beside him, seemingly passed out.

"You two are a pair of punks," Marinette scoffed glancing at them. She and Nino stood at the kitchen sink washing out the dishes they'd soiled over the last few hours.

"Hey, Sunshine and I did pretty well for our first time, isn't that right?"

"No one told me baking was this exhausting," Adrien groaned.

"Hey, dude," called Nino.

"Yeah?"

"Baking is freaking exhausting."

If Adrien had the energy, he would have found something to throw at his best friend. Well, that, and if he weren't at Marinette's house. As it was, Adrien only had enough energy to lift his arm and send his friend a very rude hand sign. Alya gasped.

"Sunshine! Nino, are you corrupting our baby boy?"

"Yes. Yes, I am, and I am so proud of him!"

"You guys suck. Marinette, you wanna find some better friends with me?"

"And after we spent four hours baking your macarons and your brownies and your chocolate chip cookies."

"What chocolate chips?" Marinette snorted. "Alya, you ate more than we actually put into the batter. We needed six cups and we only had two."

"You live in a bakery, you have like, a million bags!"

"But I had to pay for these!" Marinette laughed.

"And I'll pay you back," Adrien interjected. "Sorry I forgot about that, by the way." Marinette fixed Adrien with a soft smile. It wasn't the first time he noticed her smiling at him like that. Each time, Adrien found that his heart fluttered just the slightest bit and he wasn't sure what to do with that.

"Don't worry about it, Adrien," Marinette said softly. "I care about the hamsters too."

"I'm doing it more for the guinea pigs than the hamsters, but as long as we're on the same page."

"Oh, no," Alya gasped.

"Dude, don't," said Nino.

"What?" asked Adrien. "What did I say?"

"Hamsters are cuter than guinea pigs is all," Marinette shrugged. "Period."

"You take that back," Adrien somehow found the strength to sit up.

"I said what I said, Agreste."

"Do you know what?" said Adrien. "I think I'll take my business elsewhere. I think I'll have to reconsider our entire friendship, Dupain-Cheng."

"Uh-huh, and is that going to be before or after the brownies come out of the oven?" Marinette rolled her eyes and Adrien found himself grinning.

"I like this Marinette best. You should pick on me more often."

They all froze. Adrien pursed his lips, embarrassed that his mouth moved quicker than even his brain finished processing the thought.

"I told you, Marinette," said Alya. Marinette groaned.

"What did I say now?"

"Nothing," all three of Adrien's friends denied. Something told Adrien that wasn't completely true, but since no one was willing to explain exactly why he shouldn't have said what he said, there was nothing he could do about it.

"Why don't you talk to me normally more often? You're more playful with the rest of our friends."

"I…" that strained note returned to Marinette's voice, and Adrien felt bad. He should have left well enough alone. "I…. get nervous. When you're around. It's… hard to think, so I just stop talking. Sorry."

"Oh… I scare you then. I'm sorry."

"For the umpteenth time, Adrien, you don't scare me."

"Then I intimidate you, and that sounds a lot like fear, Marinette."

"Dude, just drop it," Nino spoke more firmly than he normally would. Hearing that tone from his best friend brought Adrien up short. He took in the room, from Marinette's anxious fiddling with the dishtowel to Nino's stern expression to Alya's incredulous eyebrows. Adrien flopped back onto the floor.

"This isn't finished, Marinette," he told her. "But I like you too much to keep making you upset."

"Good boy," Alya poked him in the side. "You'll get extra brownies that way."

And indeed, later that evening, when Adrien got into his town car with several boxes of wrapped and decorated baked goods in tow, he had an extra package full of his favorite macarons and a heart-shaped note. The writing was tight and curly, a very girly hand that Adrien had learned to associate with Marinette now. I don't bake cookies for people I'm afraid of, it said. Adrien rolled his eyes, but he got the message. Now if he could only figure out what it was that bothered her about him, everything would be great. Oh, and fix that weird hamster thing.