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Down for the Count

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A stupid godforsaken pun.

No akuma, no disaster, no injury

No careless slip of the tongue, no back alley there's-no-time,

No far-fetched completely impossible definitely-never-crossed-her-mind slick watered confession in the rain.

Of all the ways and hows- it had to be his stupid, perfect mouth grinning around each carefully chosen syllable that sent her precarious cardhouse of denial collapsing to the ground.

Oú vont les chats quand ils meurent?

She should have run screaming into the glittering night.  She should have pushed him off the roof or thrown him into the Seine.

She should not have answered his sinful grin with one of her own.

Je ne sais pas, minou. Oú vont-ils?

Stupid, stupid girl.

Black and blonde and green blurred into one as he leaned in close. Close enough for his chest to brush against her shoulder. Close enough to feel his words as they rumbled through him like pleasure.

Au purrrgatoire.

Marinette ruthlessly suppressed the skittering pins running relays down her spine.

He smelled like leather and freedom and Chat. It was her dead-of-night secret shame that his casual affection sent her heart ba-thump-thumping in an unsettlingly familiar tattoo.

And it was with a horrified sort of wonder that she realized she was humming right back. When she flicked his bell her fingers brushed the base of his neck.

Est-ce que tu veux dire purrrchatoire?

It was almost worth her self-sabotage to see the heartbreakingly wide-eyed glee that overtook him.  Dissolving into a helpless, disbelieving pile, she could feel his smile through her suit as he buried his face in her shoulder.

It was only the recollection of another pair of green eyes that had her pulling away with guilty reluctance.

And the idiot cat with his heartsick grin never noticed. He was practically flying and couldn't bother to see how his pleasure sent her heart running like a merry-go-round.

The oblivious bastard.

And now.

Now that he'd gone and walked the cat like a goddamned prize-

she wondered just what the hell he was trying to prove.

It started the next morning.

Marinette hadn't slept well. Her hormone-addled brain moved from blonde green-eyed idiot boy to blonde green-eyed idiot boy.

She kicked covers, she punched pillows, she apologized to her disgruntled kwami.

She tried warm milk, she stripped down, she moved to the floor.

It was only when she heard her parents stirring that she gave up on sleep entirely.

So it was, that when Adrien Agreste turned in his seat to face her before class, Marinette couldn't manage to work herself into a respectable panic.  Today, her heart belonged to the cold, neglected bed waiting for her back at home.

Her hopeless crush seemed annoyingly bright this morning. Adrien’s mouth was always slower than others. Every smile asked permission.  Some days, however, he forgot to ask and she would feel the curve of his lips down to her marrow.

He appeared to be very forgetful today.

Ça va, Marinette?

She grunted and he forgot some more.

Marinette recognized her heart’s attempts at acrobatics with a detachment only exhaustion can bring.  His whole body was vibrating and it was disorienting to watch the boy with the slow, careful hands fidget about. Thankfully, Nino was there to distract him and Marinette buried her head in her arms, her new favorite pillow.

She let the happy hum of her friends’ conversations roll over her and imagined she was across the street, buried in blankets.  The classroom was warm beneath the fluorescent lights, but with her face covered they didn’t bother her. She probably would have managed to slip away entirely if an almost too familiar purr hadn’t broken through her semi-conscious haze.

Oú vont les chats quand ils meurent?

Marinette’s eyes snapped open.

Oh no.

She slowly turned her head and peered over her arms at the boy before her.  From his golden head to his wide shoulders to his wary fingers- his whole body was tensed in anticipatory glee. Horrified, Marinette watched as a slow Cheshire-wide grin broke out across his face.

Oh hell fucking no.

Au purrrchatoire!

Son of a bitch.

Marinette distantly heard Nino’s groan and Adrien’s unbridled laughter but she couldn’t tell you what happened after that.

Everything seemed to fade into a black buzz that overtook her vision and her hearing and her thoughts.  Her skin seemed too tight and her tongue too large. She didn’t know what to do with her hands.

She could feel Alya’s worried glances but reassuring smiles were beyond her.  Alya should be worried.

There was something happening to her insides.  A heaviness had taken up residence inside her face and chest and there was a clammy sort of heat radiating off her skin in waves.

It wasn’t until class was dismissed for lunch and Marinette stumbled out of the school in a crazed semi-lucid stupor that she identified the emotions roiling through her.

That Adrien Agreste was Chat Noir she accepted.

Why wouldn’t Adrien supermodel-superstudent Agreste be a superhero too?

Damn him.

And honestly it was just like that annoying cat to be the boy she’d spent the past two years hopelessly pining after.

Double damn him.

No, it wasn’t shock that had her skin itching like a poorly placed tag.

It was fury.

Oú vont les chats quand ils meurent?

What was even the point of a mask when there was his quick-grinning mouth?

Why bother with secrecy when every heart-clenching twist of his lips screamed Chat?

She couldn’t unsee it now.

It was like she’d been given some new prescription and all she could see was him. From his untamable blonde hair to his sad, sad eyes to his smirking (ugh) mouth to his slow, careful hands

All she could see

All he was

Chat. Chat. Chat.

He might as well plaster the goddamn news on a billboard and spare her this violent, heartsick agitation.

Except he already fucking had.

Marinette wanted to scream.

She stopped to take stock of her surroundings and realized she’d wandered far away from the school.  She could have traversed the whole city and it wouldn’t be enough.  There was something about her feet and the ground and the crowds.  She ducked into a nearby alley and transformed. This was a feeling that called for red and the rooftops and the sky.

She needed to be indestructible because inside she was wrecked.

Nine words and suddenly all the strings holding her up had snapped.

And she was falling, falling, falling

Again.

Because it was bad enough that Marinette had been pining for Adrien and worse still that she’d succumbed to Chat, but she could not, would not forgive him this third indignity.

How do you fall in love with the same person three times?

She could almost see his canary-wide smirk. 

You know what they say, LB. Third time’s the charm.

Now Marinette really did scream and she couldn’t be bothered to reassure the startled Parisians below.  Let them wonder about the screaming girl in the polka-dotted mask. 

The smug bastard could never know.

She would eat Tikki before she gave him the satisfaction.

 


 

Adrien Agreste was walking back to school when the screaming started.  Gripping his backpack tighter he took off in its direction.  He rounded a corner, prepared to come face-to-face with Hawkmoth’s latest victim only to come to an abrupt halt.

Ladybug stood on a nearby rooftop, alive and bright and, if the concerned looks of passersby were to be believed, the screamer in question.

His relief overwhelmed his confusion overwhelmed his fear.

She didn’t seem to be in any immediate danger.

He pushed forward in the crowd to get closer.  The movement caught her attention and his heart stopped as Ladybug’s blue, blue eyes stared directly at him.  She was too far away to read the emotions on her face but that didn’t stop the blush that creeped up his neck.  It was hard enough when she looked at Chat and he was wearing a mask then.

When she didn’t look away Adrien lifted his hand in a hesitant wave.  Maybe she remembered him from the few times she had worked with his civilian self. A slow smile tugged at his lips.

For one incandescent moment it looked like she was returning it with one of her own.

The helium high that was filling his lungs shattered when Ladybug abruptly let out a loud, frustrated uggggh! and shook her head violently, burying her face in her hands.

Alarmed, Adrien considered ducking into the nearest alley to transform however before he could move she was glaring down at him again.

And suddenly, before he could fully comprehend her movements, Ladybug raised her fist in a manner that can only be described as vulgar before whipping out her yoyo and disappearing from the rooftop altogether.

The shocked crowd around him slowly dispersed amongst scandalized murmurs while a wide-eyed Adrien Agreste stood immobilized on the sidewalk.

“Um.”

...What the hell just happened?