GUEST POST: Beauty and the Beat—Ch. 2

In case you missed it, I started featuring guests on my blog, and my first guest is @obdobuk! He wrote a short fan-fiction based on the infamous TV series, Miraculous Ladybug. If you missed Ch. 1, click here.


Chapter 2

Marinette dragged herself over to her bed and collapsed down on it. She was exhausted. It had been three weeks since she had started ENS and she couldn’t remember being as tired as she was in that moment. Nothing could have prepared her for the workload she had been given. From day one she had been dropped in the deep end.

Design analysis.

Fabric and material research.

Reports on recurring trends.

History of fashion.

Economics and management.

And these were, according to her professors, the easy weeks. All she wanted to do was sleep for the next fourteen hours but she knew she couldn’t. At least not without a shower; it had been a hectic day and she desperately needed the miracle that was her own personal shower. It was such a wonderful fixture that just the idea of it overcame her fatigue and allowed her to stand up. Her bag and portfolio, which she had dropped on her way down, could wait.

She shucked off her clothes and headed in.

When she had woken up on that first morning, Mari realised that she didn’t know what her bathroom looked like. Based on the rest of the house, she knew it would be amazing but was unprepared for the sheer magnificence of it all. When she had first opened the door, her jaw dropped. Marinette would have stood there gawping at her bathroom had she not really needed to use it. The first thing that she saw had been the claw-footed bath right in the centre of the room. A shimmering white fixture atop metal feet that glinted against the black marble floor. To the side was the sink and toilet, both equally white. And in the corner was a giant walk in shower; big enough to fit four. It was without a doubt her favourite part.

Marinette stepped into the enclosure and turned the water on. It fell from above like rain but also sprayed her body from multiple smaller jets. The water was almost hot enough to burn and she loved it that way. She spent at last twenty minutes under the water. Lathering, soaping and simply relaxing. And by the time she got out Mari was feeling much better.

She lounged in her room in a robe and a towel as she dried off. ‘Maybe it’s because I’ve been so busy’ she thought, ‘but I feel more at home here than I thought I would’.

Her room was definitely lived in; it was a mess. Reports scattered across her desk, catalogues and designs strewn across the floor. Posters she had received during her first week were up on the wall. Marinette’s process was chaotic and it showed.

She sighed contentedly. Mari loved her room.

Bzzzt

She picked up her phone to see Alya messaging her from the dining room. Dinner was being served. A second later she heard the loud gong that the cooks struck when the meal was ready. After the first day she had learned that they took great pleasure in being the one to hit the metal disc. Everyone had laughed.

Marinette hated being late for dinner. Not only because she was often hungry by then but because she felt it was rude. The cooks went to so much trouble for them all, they could at least be on time. In clean pyjamas, Marinette ran out of her room, down the hall and straight into Adrien as he came up the stairs.

“Oh my g- I’m so sorry Ad- Mr Agreste”. Marinette had almost reached out to steady him but he recovered his balance fairly well considering he had been at the top step upon one foot. He glanced at her once then looked away as he nodded in acceptance of her apology. Without a single word Adrien vanished into his room, leaving Mari standing there perplexed.

“Where you been girl?” Alya asked as she finally entered the dining room. The other two had already started eating and there was no one else around. Sitting down, Marinette filled her plate with slices of roast beef with stuffing, vegetables and potatoes.

“I ran into Adrien on the stairs. Literally. Almost knocked him down them but he’s pretty well balanced for a big guy”.

“Why must you attack our gracious and friendly host?” Alya asked so sincerely that Nino almost choked on his food.

“Go easy on him. He’s nice enough and he hasn’t kicked us out yet” Marinette said, pounding her friends back as he tried to breathe.

Between bites they talked of their day and their work.

“There’s just so much to do and I’m going insane! I just want to relax and have fun for a little bit. Is that too much to ask?” Alya looked up at the sky as if asking a higher power but it was Nino who answered.

“Well I may have the solution. I just got a gig next weekend”. By the way their eyes lit up, Nino knew they were in. “Maybe it’s time to dust off the old gear. I trust you brought them with you?”

Their laughter and smiles told him they had indeed brought everything with them.

Marinette happily finished the rest of the meal and the trifle for dessert. Had Nino proposed this before her shower she would have been to tired to even think of saying yes. But now she could not wait. Marinette loved to dance.

/

Adrien sighed as he collapsed back onto his bed. He was not making as much progress with his social life as he thought he would. He wasn’t making any progress. It had been two days since he had almost knocked Marinette down on the stairs but he still blushed when he thought about it.

“This is not the impression you wanted to make” Adrien scolded himself. His studies weren’t that bad. His tutors had always pushed him to work harder and learn faster so the rigours of university level education weren’t that difficult for him. He was studying Business and Management to prepare for the day he took over from his father. Adrien didn’t hate the idea as much as he thought he would. The company was a legacy. Something passed from parent to child. That his father would trust him with the company he had started…

But perhaps he would change the name. Agreste. His father would approve.

“I could run the company and take it to new heights. At least then I’d have an excuse for not having friends”.

Adrien’s dark humour was enough to get him moving again. He had very little work to do and, based on the last few weeks, he knew he had the house to himself for the next few hours. As he showered, Adrien realised that he didn’t loathe coming home as much as he used to. Knowing that people were going to be in the house with him. Even if he was yet to talk to them.

With his hair still damp Adrien strolled up and down through the hallways; his favourite room in this house had always been the music room. As he always did when he walked in, Adrien took in every inch of it as if for the first time. The stained oak floor and the white mantle. The black piano in one corner, the violin stand in another. A bookcase full of music and a window letting in the light.

Adrien took a deep breath full of wood and paper and then smiled. In his opinion this room was definitely the best. He walked around it, casting his hand out like a fishing lure and trailing it across every surface he moved past. His fingers came to rest upon the piano but it didn’t seem right. Not now. Now he was feeling restless…energetic. But not piano energetic. Adrien moved across the room and opened the violin case. Picking it up by the neck, the first thing he did was gently wipe it down. And then, after tightening the bow, Adrien brought the two together.

He was slow at first. Adrien let his fingers become readjusted to the strings; his arm relaxing into the once awkward angle required to hold the instrument. He drew the bow across the violin and produced a single, clear note. Then another. And another. A slow rising scale that echoed off the walls and the floor to surround him in crystal clear sound.

Falling back into the rhythm he sped up. And as he began to play faster, Adrien started to move. Pacing a simple circle around the room, in time with the music he was playing. He couldn’t stay still. Eyes closed, and now utterly lost in the music, he walked around the room. With every step Adrien played faster, and as he did all the loneliness and sadness in his life came to the surface. The harder he played, the better he felt after. So Adrien played very hard.

Sweat dripped down the side of his face but he didn’t notice. His fingers danced across the strings. His bow pulled the music from the instrument. Adrien was drowning in the symphony as the room itself amplified every note he made.

This was no musical piece that had been memorised. This was Adrien playing his deepest and darkest fears and underneath it all was the quietest presence of hope. He didn’t know how long he played. But eventually he became aware of the ache in his hand and the pain in his fingertips yet he kept on playing. He couldn’t bring himself to simply stop.

But after some time the pain became more noticeable so Adrien began to wind the music down. He Slowed his playing and quieted the sound. Eventually the bow stopped moving and Adrien took a deep, shuddering breath. It had been a long time since he had played like that. His heart was pounding, his skin was burning and there was a smile on his face when he opened his eyes and saw Nino and Marinette staring back at him.

No one said a word.

Everyone was in shock but for very different reasons.

Marinette was dumbstruck. She and Nino had come home early due to cancelled classes and heard the music. They had expected to find a music system, not Adrien playing fervently. When he had turned around she had gasped from the expression on his face.

Adrien was panicking. He hadn’t closed the door but the volume of his playing had drowned out any sound of their approach. They would think him a freak. What kind of normal person plays like that? He started to breathe faster than before. They would make fun of him. They would mock him.

Nino was amazed.

“Dude, that was incredible!” He strode towards Adrien’s frozen body as he spoke. “I’ve never heard anything like that. The way you played, it was perfect”.

His father had only ever criticised his music but no matter how hard Adrien looked, there was no scorn or mockery on Nino’s face. Just sincerity. Adrien became less panicked and more confused.

“R…really? You think so?” Nino nodded, his entire frame shaking with the energy he put into the act.

“Hell yeah man! I’ve sampled strings from all over and I’ve never even come close to finding something like that”.

With every passing second, it became less and less likely that Nino was lying to him.

“Thank you. What do you sample for?” If Nino noticed Adrien’s nervous manner, he didn’t care. For Nino, there was nothing that came in between him and good music.

“I’m a DJ. I sample some stuff and mix them with my own tunes. I focus mostly on hip-hop and R’n’B but I try to do a little bit of everything. Keep my skills sharp”. Adrien stood there, too afraid to move incase he broke whatever spell had been cast. He was talking to Nino as a friend. It was nerve-wracking and terrifying and he loved every second of it. “So how long have you been playing the violin?”

“Oh- er, I’ve been playing for years. My father had me start learning violin and piano when I was four”. Adrien tried to wring his hands but noticed he still held the violin. Thankfully Nino noticed as well and stepped back. For one heart-breaking moment, Adrien thought he would leave, but instead Nino gestured towards the violin case and then sat down on the piano bench. In a daze, Adrien wiped down the violin down and put it away.

“That’s a long time to play”, Nino commented from his new spot. “No wonder you sound as good as you do”.

“I- er I mean yeah I guess. I had a lot of time spare so did a lot of practising”. After a moment’s hesitation, Adrien slowly made his way towards the window before hopping up to sit on it’s cushioned ledge. It was getting easier to talk, easier to open up. “I was home-schooled up until this year. Lots of tutors and private lessons but not much else. So I would practice my music, watch movies, read books. Anything really”.

“That’s…did you not have any friends?” There was sympathy on Nino’s face and Adrien didn’t know how to process that.

“There was one or two, I guess? I have a penpal and she’s ok”.

“That’s not right man”.

Adrien took Nino’s words to be an insult against him and immediately fell silent. Ashamed all over again. But Nino made a snap decision then and there.

“What kind of movies do you like?” As it had before, the open and honest look on Nino’s face drew Adrien out from where not even Nathalie could reach him.

“Sci-fi I guess. Fantasy as well”, he mumbled without making eye contact.

“What do you know of Star Wars?” Finally his eyes locked onto Nino’s.

“I know that Han shot first”. Nino smiled widely and easily at his comment.

“My friend, we are going to get along great”.

As they talked about everything and anything, neither had noticed that Marinette had left a long time ago.

It was later that night when Adrien was eating dinner in his room. He had hurriedly declined Nino’s offer of going to dinner. One conversation was all well and good but the idea of sitting with all of them was still terrifying. Even though he was once again alone in his room it had been a good day. After weeks of living with them all, today had been his first conversation. And it had gone well.

Putting his empty plate aside, Adrien booted up his computer and searched Nino’s name. He had done this when they had been chosen before the school year began, but now he was looking for something specific. He grinned when he spotted it, the fifth link down the page.

Nino Lahiffe, aka “The Bubbler” is returning to Club Miraculous this Saturday night! No work! No stress! No responsibilities!

Adrien’s grin became wider and wider as he read more about the night. He had always loved to dance.

//

“I’m telling you Alya, he’s a good guy. Just really shy”. Nino continued to defend Adrien to his girlfriend while Marinette slowly ate her food, her mind elsewhere.

“I’ll believe it when I see him do something other than look at me like a robot before walking away from me”, Alya replied in between bites of her lamb stew.

“Marinette saw him, right Mari?”

“Err…actually…” The truth was that the moment Adrien had began talking to Nino, she had fled to her room. It hadn’t been the music that had gotten to her. Or the awkwardness of the silence when Adrien had seen them.

There had been a moment. When they had followed the sound they had found Adrien, fully in the grips of his music. He moved around the room in a dance that only he knew. His arm flew back and forth across the violin, sometimes fast and other times slow. But always perfectly. And then he had turned around and she had seen him. His skin shined with sweat and his face glowed with passion. The expression on his face…it felt like she had been punched.

Marinette had been hypnotised. She had seen him in hundreds of different fashion articles but never had she seen him like that. He played with such reckless abandonment, with nothing held back, and it showed. Marinette hadn’t been able to stop thinking about it and it was becoming inconvenient.

She kept replaying that moment in her head when she should have been working or eating. On Friday night she had bumped into Adrien whilst daydreaming about Adrien. The realisation made her blush and run away before he could even begin to apologise. As she fled, Mari heard him trying to stutter his way through the word “sorry” and knew that he was back to his reserved self.

Saturday was a different kind of day. She had an alarming amount of work piling up and Marinette needed to get it done. After breakfast she shut herself away in her room and worked hard all day on her reports, fashion analyses and her designs. When she heard the dinner gong, Marinette had finished nearly all of her work and caught up on next week’s reading. She definitely needed to relax. Her friends thought the same.

“I am so glad we’re going out tonight” Alya moaned over her food. “This damn year is kicking my ass. I just need a break”. Nino put a sympathetic hand on her back.

“I know what you mean”, said Mari. “There is so much work and they all want it done at the same time”.

“You know the rules of my club ladies. So get all of this worrying and stressing out of your systems because it ain’t gonna fly when I’m on the deck”.

Alya turned to glare at Nino who glared right back while Marinette laughed. Tonight would do them all good.

After getting ready, Marinette left at eleven with Alya and Nino. They were all excited, especially Nino as this was his first gig after summer and he was ready to go crazy.

“I hope you two are well rested because it is going to be wild!”. In the back of the taxi, Alya and Mari both laughed and assured him they could handle it.

The club was a simple black building that glowed with red and blue lights. They lined the door, the outside walls and the roof. The three of them walked right in, greeting the bouncers like old friends. Nino had played many gigs here in the past and Alya and Mari had been at every one of them. The inside of the club was surprisingly big. There was a wide open space that was meant to be filled with hundreds of dancers. A few seats and tables were scattered around the edge but that only made it more obvious that this was a place to move, not to sit still.

Spotlights of all colours strobed and moved over the dancefloor while a few smoke machines gave the air an almost blurry quality. Every time Mari walked into this club she felt as if she was walking into a dream, and because she had done it so many times before, the stress melted away. She knew she would have fun here.

The club was already very full. It was one of the most popular ones in the area and even though it was rarely empty, The Bubbler always packed it out a little more. The dance floor was already full of people moving with the beat as the DJ finished her set. She worked the crowd up into a frenzy and left them on that high as a gift.

“Alright everyone give it up for The Bubbler!” She screamed out over the crowd and the crowd roared back.

Nino took his place at the deck and was back in his element.

“You know my rules people. Say it with me!”

“NO STRESS! NO WORRIES! NO NAMES!”

Everyone in the club chanted out the mantra in one voice, Alya and Marinette screaming with everyone else.

“Yeah! Get those masks on people!”

This was Nino’s gimmick. His hook. Every one of his gigs had the same rule. Leave your life at the door and just dance. There was a flurry as nearly everyone on the floor pulled out masks and covered their faces. Some went into the bathrooms to paint their faces and came out unrecognisable.

Nino preferred face paint as he said a mask got really hot. Marinette agreed and painted hers red with black spots whilst Nino went completely blue. Alya went with a simple black mask but her costume made up for it.

“Do we really need costumes?” Mari had asked once.

“I don’t think so” commented Nino.

“Of course we need costumes” declared Alya. And that had been that.

Marinette had designed them both but Alya had been very enthusiastic with the ideas. In the end Alya had been given a black tank top, with the wifi symbol on the front and a fully charged green battery icon on the back with a pair of black and white striped leggings. For herself Marinette had a red sports bra with black spots and some soft black sweatpants and red trainers.

When she danced she preferred tight on the top and loose on the bottom. Alya was the opposite. Marinette had made these so that they would look amazing while they danced. And she had succeeded.

When all the masks were on, Nino turned up the music and everyone threw themselves into motion. There was no style or skill involved. Just the beat thumping through their bodies, the feel of the floor beneath them and the ecstasy of letting go of all worldly concern. It was modern day meditation and Nino was a Zen master. As she leapt and whirled and spun, Marinette caught sight of Nino at work and for a fleeting moment he had the same expression Adrien had that captivated her so. Then she twisted and the moment passed.

The crowd had a mind of its own. It moved and surged with the music, pushing and pulling people around where it wanted to them ago. One second Mari was pressed up against Alya and the next she was taken away. But through it all they never stopped dancing. Years of formal and informal dance training had given them both a great deal of strength and stamina. This meant that they were able to keep going long after people began to drop out.

Around a quarter of people had left the floor and were hanging off the surrounding tables and chairs. The rest were dancing slower apart from a few individuals, two of them being Mari and Alya. While everyone else was drinking cocktails, they’d only had water. Nights in were for getting drunk, nights out were for dancing. And when Nino met their eyes and smiled they knew what was coming and they felt as full of energy as if they had just arrived.

The beat changed and both Mari and Alya stopped moving. They stood perfectly still, one in front of the other. The kind of stillness that made everyone around them take a step backwards; they knew something was about to happen.

“Alright everyone, give it up for my girls. Lady WiFi and the Ladybug!”

Some recognised the names, most did not. They all cheered anyway.

The pair started slow. Tapping their heels with the music before rolling their shoulders. Arms flew out and began to move as their bodies swayed side to side. When the music became faster so did they. Alya moved first.

She spun out into open space and, to the cheers of the crowd, began to dance properly. And properly to Alya meant phenomenally to everyone else. Every part of her moving to the beat with effortless grace. Her head, arms, back, hips and legs all twisting and turning with the rhythm and with her partner.

When Alya had spun one way, Marinette had turned in the other. Fully given over to the beat running through her body, Mari was dancing on instinct. Letting her body decide how to move and knowing that Alya would be doing the same. They had been dancing together for so long that they instinctively moved together; sometimes even when they weren’t dancing.

The crowd was going insane. With every beat of the music and every pop of their hips, their audience got louder. People were standing on tables and chairs to watch them both dance.

Marinette felt free.

She moved without hesitation or reservation. This was where she belonged. She threw her head up, hair fanning backwards before pirouetting several times. The crowd roared as the room rotated around her and Mari couldn’t help the smile that grew across her face.

Her chest heaved.

Her lungs bellowed.

And she danced faster and faster. The screams vanished, replaced by the roaring of blood and the pounding of her heart.

Marinette’s entire body thrummed with energy. The music was building; it was almost over. She found herself close to Alya again and immediately grabbed her offered hand and pulled her in. They were moving with each other. Against each other. Twisting, turning, spinning with one another. So fast they were a blur in the flashing lights.

The music stopped.

The girls stopped.

The crowd roared.

A heartbeat before they had been unstoppable; Marinette and Alya holding each other as if in a waltz. Turning as if they were a tornado of movement. Mari had dipped Alya at the last instant and there they stood. Their skin glistened with sweat, multicoloured from the lights as they gasped for breath.

Marinette lifted Alya back upright and they began hugging and laughing before walking off the dance floor, arm in arm as their screaming fans parted before them.

“THAT’S HOW YOU DO IT! THAT’S HOW YOU DO IT!” Nino was roaring into the crowd and they replied with their approval. “GIVE IT UP FOR LADYBUG AND LADY WIFI!”

Mari and Alya reached the bar and sat down, still laughing. Immediately, offers of drinks came their way but they politely declined and stuck with water.

“Oh God that was amazing!” Alya gushed. “We haven’t danced like that in so long!”

“It was perfect” Mari agreed, sipping her water. “ And it was so much fun! I’ve missed dancing”. They relaxed at the bar for a short while, watching Nino work his crowd. Men and women approached them both hoping to turn conversation into something more, but they all walked away disappointed.

Twice more throughout the night Marinette and Alya went out onto the dance floor and blew everyone away. Each time the music was different and the moves were different as well. But the skills were the same. There was no stopping them. Occasionally Nino would call for challengers and a few did try to step up. But none of them could compare to the duo. Afterwards, Mari and Alya would talk with the ones who tried to outdance them. Laughing and joking, they would talk about dance and music and style before Nino once again lured them with his music.

It was early morning and the club was about to shut down.

“We got time for one more and I know my girls are up for it. So who is gonna try to show these two how they do?” The cheers were just as loud as they had been at the beginning of the night, everyone looking around for the final victim.

“Oh here we go people. We have one last player”. The people in front of Mari broke apart as a figure walked through them. He was tall and broad, with blond hair and a black mask concealing his face.

“Give it up, for Chat Noir!”


AUTHOR’S NOTE: “I’d say “surprise” but literally every one of you saw it coming. A quick thank-you to @starrycove for the inspiration behind this fic. Leave a comment below. I’d love to read it. Tune in next time, and thanks for reading!” – obdobuk

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