Had a heartwrenching daydream where Nino at age 22 was wandering Paris with a guitar singing mostly to himself and he sets up in a park and he sees a little boy maybe 10 years old playing an accordion trying desperately for tips, so he walks over and puts everything he had in the little kids cup and the little kid almost cries before saying thank you and running away. Nino follows him because he’s really worried about this little guy he looks malnourished, and tracks him to a little crew of about seven of them ranging from 8-13. Five boys and two girls. They skitter at the sight of him and vanish into the city and he’s trying to find em but he can’t. He reports it to the police and checks in at the station every few days because that poor starving kid with the accordion just wont leave his mind, it really rattled him, but the police say they never found them or even seen them. They sort of think Ninos got them on a goose chase but on his own Nino goes back to where he spotted them at first, and he finds a couple bent guitar picks, some frayed bowstrings, and one broken string that could be from anything. He thinks its insanely weird, but he can see a few cups and things with pennies and nickles still left in them, so he starts asking around about kids playing for money. He gets Adrien in on it (who secretly uses his standing as Cat Noir to recruit Ladybug and find the children, however they run even from the heroes).
A week or two passes and Nino keeps living his life, focusing on mixing songs and work and what not, but part of him is really stuck on those kids. He wishes he could find them and help them somehow, he wasnt a rich man but maybe something more than money. Everything he had by way of his apartment came from being roommates with Adrien, but he wanted to at least notify authorities that some kids looked like they were in a bad way. Alya suggests checking foster homes and orphanages but he doesnt have the heart, what could he even do if he found them then? It would be the foster homes responsibility not his. So finally, one day at night about two weeks later he takes his guitar and starts walking, playing softly and singing. He walks clear across the city, passing on purpose through every park and the place where he saw them. He plays and sings and never looks backwards, just walking along the river with the moon high and bright at a time of night where Paris came the closest to being asleep as possible. A very select few would see the small line of children following him, listening, each with an instrument in their hands. Nino doesnt turn around even when he hears them start to sing, playing with him quietly in an absolutely gorgeous show. Their voices are young and gentle but their playing exceeds their years, a small group of prodigies so he thinks. His feet ache and his hands are raw and his voice rough but he keeps going and loops all the way back around to his apartment, and pulls up in the alleyway beside it and brings the music to a halt, turning around slowly to face them all.
They don’t run, they just lower their instruments and look at him like not a single one of them know what to say. But the little boy with the accordion steps forward first and says “You’re really good mister.”
“You’re all amazing,” he replies immediately. “Seriously. Some of the best stuff I’ve ever heard. Absolutely stunning.”
A few of them smile, a few others nervously look to the floor and fidget with their violins or guitars or ukuleles or tambourines or harmonicas, the list goes on.
“I want to help you,” he says genuinely. “You all look like you could eat something” the kids look at each other nervously before nodding, and he smiles to put them at ease.
Adrien wakes up to hearing noise in the house, getting up and rubbing at his face blearily before freezing in the doorway, staring at Nino and seven rag tag children eating literally everything in the house. Nino smiles sheepishly and Adrien just blinks, standing there shirtless before sighing and turning around to say “Let me get dressed before you explain all of this…”
Nino gradually develops a relationship with all of these children, finding them again and again in the city and taking care of them. He starts saving up all of his extra cash and working really hard to buy them shoes and food and clothing. He manages to keep them around through this kindness and also taking care of their instruments, learning how to maintain them all. The kids all are runaways from orphanages and what not and do not want to go back, so he is stuck in a tough place where he wants to help but they refuse to go back to the places they came from. In an effort to raise money for them Nino starts organizing them to perform together, writing songs (with their help, he has a lot of study and theory and learning on his side but these kids are prodigies) to have more impressive numbers that earn them tips. Adrien also starts befriending these kids, showing them with as much money as he can slip by his dad (who still has control over adriens portion of the fortune for various reasons). Alya and Marinette fall in love with them all, and though the kids are skiddish they really grow close with them all. Marinette fixes their clothes and tutors them since they arent in school and Alya redistributes all of her little sisters handmedown things and clothes.
Nino writes music for these kids for them to perform and earn money with, and it becomes a local phenomenon about a group of different pairings and combinations called “The Rag Tag”. A bunch of mismatched extremely talented kids and the man that sometimes plays with them.
Especially the little boy with the accordion (Evan) looks up to Nino like a father, and Nino finds himself so entirely committed to helping these kids. He fights so many long horrible legal battles (backed up by Adriens legal team and money the whole way, but the victories really come from Alyas ruthless cutthroat methods for getting their way) and goes to nearly a hundred court meetings and CPA hearings things like that, and it takes almost a year, but in the end Nino finally legally adopts all seven children. And how does he financially pull it off?
In the time of the legal battles Nino professionally recorded using his own equipment all of the kids and made an official album with all of their music. He features all of their original pieces, all combinations between them and also large group numbers where they all sing and play together. Their music is so beautiful and genuine, that as soon as its released it skyrockets in popularity. Alya does everything in her power to write the story of the seven children and the man who protects them in a way that won them international favor, utilizing her position as a reporter to make their story known. Through this, people from all over the world buy the album, beg for more, purchase tickets to shows and donate thousands and thousands of dollars to this incredible story, and it gives Nino enough money to buy a house and put them all in school while they pursue their love for music together as a family.
Its a lot of work and not at all the direction in life Nino thought he’d take, but in the end he loves his kids more than anything. The day he finally legally adopts them all and gets them back from the system that took them away from him they crowd around him and hug him and they all cry. And little ten year old Evan hugs him and buries his face in Nino’s chest and says “I love you dad.”
And it was the first time any of them had ever called him that, and Nino is overwhelmed that he finally has them all back again. He remembers so potently when authorities really caught on to the fact that this group growing in popularity were essentially homeless though they often stayed crowded in Nino and Adriens apartment (the girls often took half of them at night) but it wasnt legal. Nino wasnt their legal guardian so one day the police showed up and took them all away from him. The kids were screaming and fighting them and Nino was desperately begging, going so far as to assault an officer and was imprisoned for only a night before Adrien posted his bail. But now he had them back, and no one was taking them away and Nino was going to give them as good of a life as he could. So he tells them that he loves them too, and lets them all refer to him as their father. They call Adrien their Uncle and the girls their Aunts, and Nino will push the couches aside in the living room of their modest home as they all crowd around him with their instruments and sing for them the same song he did when he first found them all, and they play with him.