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Taking a Sick Day...or Ten

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Marinette should have seen this coming. After the Akuma fight in the downpour the day before, and Tikki already seeming a bit…despondent, a pale and worn out Kwami shivering in her hands the next morning really shouldn't have surprised her. They'd fought in the rain before, and usually Tikki suffered no ill side-effects. But the rain yesterday had been harsh and cold. It reminded Marinette of the nightmare of trying to fight Princess Fragrance, where not only was she terrified for poor Tikki's sake...but trying to be Ladybug without being able to be Ladybug was, in a word, awful.

So Marinette wasted no time this go around. Forgoing breakfast so she would have the time before school, she raced out the bakery door as soon as she was dressed, her path a beeline to the healer's house.

A quick run later and Marinette stood in front of the door, waiting. And waiting. The first four times she had knocked had proved fruitless, and Marinette was trying to not panic.

"It's okay, Marinette," Tikki murmured from the open purse at Marinette's hip. The wise Kwami smiled. "We'll try again later. You need to get to school!"

Marinette bit at her lower lip, hands fretfully tapping her cheeks.

"Are you sure, Tikki? Maybe I'm just not knocking hard enough–"

At this, Tikki giggled.

"Marinette, if you had pounded on that door any harder, it would have broken down!"

Marinette grinned sheepishly. As Tikki tucked back into the purse, Marinette clasped it shut before turning quickly around and–

"OOF!" two voices yelped.

Marinette backed away from whatever – whoever – she had just collided with, instantly embarrassed.

"Oh, I am so sorry! I should've been wat–"

"Marinette?"

Words completely died in Marinette's throat, their strangled death cries echoing out of the suddenly dry chasm of her mouth. She watched as Adrien flicked his eyes from her to the door she had just walked away from. One hand was behind his back.

"What are you doing here?" he asked.

If Marinette could have allowed sane thought, she would have supposed that was a fair question...for either of them.

"H-H-Healer," she pointed to behind her.

"Oh! Ha, ah heh hah har…" Adrien swallowed. "Me too!"

Marinette took a deep breath and swallowed hard.

"H-He's not here. I think."

"Oh…." Adrien looked markedly disappointed.

"I-I mean, you can try, but I've been knocking for the last 10 minutes."

This elicited a direct stare from the blond model and Marinette felt herself melt under his abrupt and scrutinizing gaze. As fast as the look came, though, it passed. Adrien sighed.

"Well, there's no point in waiting around here anymore then, huh?" he said, shrugging, a small smile pulling at the edges of his lips.

How did this happen? Marinette wondered for the 37th time in the last 2 minutes.

"Hummersstyguglerp," was all she could reply, looking down and kicking the ground nervously.

Adrien sniggered, but only a little.

"Well…uh, should we walk to school then?"

"Y-Yeah, okay."

Adrien smiled again and backed up a bit, gesturing to allow Marinette out of the doorway area first.

Marinette found it endearing, of course, but almost shook her head at how predictable his actions were.

Always the gentleman.

She smiled to herself as she walked past him, not noticing as she did so how he deftly hid his own sick Kwami into his backpack.

As the teens walked away from the healer's house, four eyes – two normal and two absolutely tiny – watched them from a window, partially hidden by a curtain. They shared a knowing glance, eyes twinkling.

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Marinette couldn't believe her luck when, after banging on the door to the point of bursting, the healer remained elusive. There wasn't much time left for her lunch break and she was starting to grow desperate. She had even peeked in through as many windows as she could get to (she huffed when she realized she wouldn't be able to transform so she could peek in through the higher ones) before toying with the idea of trying to manhandle the door open…or just kick it in…or….

She was jolted from her musings when a familiar shuffle of feet skidded to a halt behind her.

Chat?

Marinette whipped around and felt her cheeks flush in surprise when, AGAIN, Adrien Agreste stood before her. He was panting slightly, looking completely jarred from his usual calm composure, and seemed to only be able to mimic her blank stare. Marinette gulped.

"Still?" Adrien almost whined. He huffed when Marinette nodded and let his hands drop down to his side from their exasperated, outstretched pose. Marinette narrowed her eyes and cocked her head slightly. Something about the whole lack of composure he was carrying was almost…familiar.

As the two teens slowly meandered their way back to the school, a terrible silence threatened to last through the entire trip, as it had the first time they had walked to the school. Marinette, bolstered by her sudden reminder of a cat-boy who would laugh at her antics – or lack thereof – tried at some type of conversation.

"S-So…"

Well, she tried.

"So," Adrien replied.

Marinette pooched her lips out in consternation.

I AM LADYBUG! she shouted to herself.

I AM LADYBUG! I AM LADYBUG, I AM LADYBUG –

"I AM LA–!" she shouted before smacking herself in the face. Marinette cursed herself and her bad luck and peeked up at Adrien's somewhat startled, somewhat amused look. "I am lAtely worried about my c-cat!"

Wow. You go, Marinette.

"Th-That's why I have been trying to get to that healer so bad."

"Really?" Adrien asked, sincerely questioning. "I didn't know you had a cat."

"She just kinda...appeared one day. I don't really know how she got there, but I've been taking care of her ever since." Marinette was slightly lost in thought at this. She smiled to herself. "Well, actually, she's helped me a lot too."

When Marinette looked up to Adrien, the sweet smile on his face made her blush again, but she held the eye contact.

"What about you?"

"Heh, well…" Adrien suddenly looked nervous. "Would you believe that it's actually the same reason? Except my cat's not eating…which is really, really, REALLY–" he yelped suddenly and smacked his shirt. "Eh, s-sorry. Itchy tag? Eh hem. Anyway, it's really weird for him to skip any meal. I'm worried about him."

"Oh, I'm so sorry, Adrien. I hope he gets better soon."

He smiled. "Yours too."

They had arrived at the school steps and stopped for a moment before going inside.

"So…" Adrien started.

"So," Marinette giggled, echoing their earlier interaction. They both laughed lightly at this.

"Do you want to come with me to try again after school?"

Marinette tried to keep still, willing her vibrating frame to not betray her. She didn't trust her mouth, so she tried for what she hoped was something like a sweet smile, and nodded.

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Days two and three of the same events came and went.

By day four, the two had considerably opened up to each other. Marinette wondered, in all of her study of and attraction to this boy, how much she really didn't know the real him. And, a fact that was even more surprising to her - or maybe not surprising at all - how much she felt ready to love every single new part of him she discovered.

As they headed back to school that lunch break, Adrien was animatedly talking about one of his favorite manga. When he had learned Marinette liked the artsy side of graphic novels and occasionally picked up a few for reference pieces but never read the stories, Adrien had brought a stack of his favorites from home and dropped them in her school bag that morning. Now, though, he was telling her which one she should start with and why. Without giving anything – or, at the least, everything – he tried to explain the basis of the story. Marinette, though she wore a continuous blush from the attention, couldn't help but giggle at his enthusiasm.

"So, what's her name again?"

"Her real name or her superhero name?"

Marinette laughed, this particular topic too close to her own reality to not make the subject ironic. "Real name."

"Usagi, and her superhero name is–"

"Sailor Moon, I do remember that. And she uses…what kind of magic?"

"Ha! No, no, no, no, I'm pretty sure I gave you enough spoilers that you could pass off reading it without even opening the first page."

Marinette grunted theatrically. "UGH! You caught on to my plan!"

Adrien shoved her shoulder playfully, a little rougher than he meant to. Maybe.

Marinette retaliated, returning the gesture upon her attacker, forgetting momentarily who her alter-ego was and the residual strength that came with it. Adrien almost stumbled over. Marinette had to grab tightly onto his hand to keep him upright.

"Geez, Mari!" Adrien laughed, steadying himself when she snapped her hand back. Marinette blushed anew – first at what she had done, including touching his hand, and second at the sound of her nickname coming from him. "Since when have you been so strong?"

"Psh," she scoffed before she could stop herself. "That was nothing."

Adrien quirked a brow.

With quite a sound shove, Marinette was sent stumbling to the side, skidding on one foot for a good six feet, arms flailing wildly. Adrien looked completely unashamed of himself.

Marinette smirked, straightening up. There was a certain pleasure burning through her at the flicker of uncertainty crossing her companion's face under her intense stare.

She may not be able to handle a crush, but she was always ready to conquer a challenge.

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Alya and Nino were waiting near the front doors of the school for their friends to show up.

Alya had a smirk on her face, happy that the lovesick duo had been spending so much time together. And she was ready to give her bestie a thorough ribbing for having spent all that time together alone, and without either one of them telling anyone where they were going off to every day.

Nino stood next to Alya, casually playing with the fingers of one of her hands while listening to a new mix through his headphones.

They would have done better to have waited in the classroom.

Well, Nino would have, at least.

Without warning, Adrien came barreling up the stairs, a manic grin on his face. And without even a wave, he pulled Nino roughly by the sleeve, causing the DJ to stumble into the spot Adrien had just vacated, as Adrien himself continued racing inside the school.

"What–?" was all Nino could get out before Marinette crashed into him. Instead of tripping over him, though, she deftly used his toppling frame to vault herself up, over, and further into the school.

"NO CIVILIANS, CHEATER!" she shouted as she retreated from her friends.

"COLLATERAL DAMAGE!" they heard Adrien yell back from inside the school. "NOT RESPONSIBLE!"

Alya reached down to help Nino up, shock etched in her features.

"GADS, what the heck just happened?" Alya wondered aloud, dumbfounded but what transpired right in front of her.

"I dunno," Nino muttered darkly, brushing himself off as he stood. "But I'm gonna kill them both."

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Marinette started bringing breakfast for two by day four. As she and Adrien rounded the corner of the bakery on their way back, Adrien caught a waft of the sweet-smelling scents coming from within the shiny windows and triumphantly popped another huge bite of chocolate croissant in his mouth. Marinette, he noted, had stopped. She seemed to be studying the monogram on the bakery door.

"You designed that, right?" Adrien muttered through a mouthful of bready goodness.

"Mm…" she mumbled in distracted reply.

Several mornings, afternoons, and evenings in a row with Marinette told him that she had just lost herself in a new design idea. Figuring she wouldn't be talking to him for a while, he shoved the whole rest of his pastry into his mouth, sighing contently.

He could definitely get used to this.

Mouth too full to effectively lick his figures, Adrien held his hands aloft by his face, waiting until the yumminess subsided into his stomach. A sudden snort of laughter brought his attention downward into a glittering pair of bright blue eyes.

"Wha?" he wondered aloud.

Marinette lost it. She put a hand on his arm to keep her upright from laughing too hard. Adrien grinned (well, tried to…his cheeks were considerably full). He took some of the chocolate and buttery goodness from his waiting fingers and smeared a bit on his face before lowering his head to be in her line of sight.

"Mawri, do I haff sumfin on muh fathe?"

She chanced a glance up at him through her fingers, tears streaming down her cheeks. What she saw left her entirely breathless in mirth. Her legs gave out and she wholly collapsed on the ground.

"You…look…ridiculous!" she got out through huge gulps of air. After a few intense minutes of roaring, side-splitting laughter, Marinette finally pulled herself over to the side of the bakery, gasping for air. Adrien sat down next to her, grinning to himself in a self-satisfied way, and finished chewing his croissant. When he turned to look at her, she was waiting for him.

"Hey!" he protested as a giggling Marinette pulled her phone down from his face and then turned it around so Adrien could see his masterpiece that was his face. He really did look ridiculous. The sight sent the two of them into renewed titters.

Adrien pulled out his own phone and turned it to them before slouching into the side of Marinette. He felt her tense until his touch, something he was getting used to, but she didn't move away, even when he wrapped his arm around her shoulders. Instead, she pulled a silly duck-lipped face right as the camera light flashed. Adrien laughed at the sight before turning to her, phone still raised. The camera went off again. Bah. He must have hit the rapid capture feature again. Oh well. He pulled Marinette closer to him, grinning into the selfie-frame as she squealed at his side.

The pictures looked perfect.

The warning bell sounded and Adrien, phone still out and taking pictures, turned his head to the sound.

"Shoot!"

"What?"

"The bell!"

"Oh snap!"

The two scrambled up. Adrien grabbed onto Marinette's hand and pulled her all the way to the classroom.

...Where he was promptly sent to the bathroom to scrub the chocolate off his face.

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When Adrien, alone at the lockers after school, was getting ready to head out again with Marinette to try to get to that confounded healer, he started flicking through the 30 pictures his phone had taken of him and Marinette by the bakery. Although the morning lighting was perfect, most of the candid pics were pretty silly. But when he flicked through them a second time, he paused at a certain one, and felt his face start to burn.

It must have been the first surprise picture captured. Marinette was mid-giggle, eyes closed. She was cute, of course, but that's not what had drawn his attention.

Next to her was a blond-hair guy staring at her with straight-up adoration, like she was his world, a giddy smile on his face and a pink blush on his cheeks.

He had caught himself gazing at Marinette.

Adrien closed his locker, leaning against it for support. His eyes couldn't stop looking at the picture. He cleared his throat to no one and for no reason and thought fleetingly of just forgoing the walk with Marinette today, nervousness suddenly bubbling up unbidden in his chest.

Until he skimmed again through the last few pictures.

He stopped at one that must have snapped just a moment after Adrien had heard the school bell ring. And Adrien had looked away.

And Marinette….

Marinette had looked right up at him. And the look in her eyes….

Was the same as the one he had seen in his own.

Adrien dropped his head, suddenly overheated to his ears.

"Hey, Adrien! Are you ready?"

Marinette was suddenly there.

Adrien wasn't sure how to respond to that question, his own mental interpretations and implications of the unassuming words causing him a minor existential crisis as he brought his eyes to hers.

On a side note, he did know what the new background to his phone screen was going to be.

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"So, you want to be a designer, right?"

The two were eating ice cream that evening after their walk. Adrien hadn't been ready to let her go yet, and he didn't have anything planned from his father for the rest of the day, so he had insisted on going to this specific ice cream shop after the healer proved absent again. So what if it was the ice cream place that was three blocks farther away from her house than the five others they passed to get there?

"Mmhm," she responded, trying to lick off a stay blop of ice cream off her nose before giving up and wiping it away with the back of her hand.

CUTE.

"But everyone knows that by now," she waved the question away. "What about you?"

"Me? Me what?"

Marinette laughed. "What do you want to, you know, do? What's your dream?"

Adrien blinked. Dream? Was he allowed that?

"I…I don't know?"

"You don't want to go into fashion design too? Like, follow in your father's footsteps?"

"No."

Marinette stopped mid-lick and stared up at him after his harsh tone.

"Er, sorry." Adrien sighed, trying to find a way to word what he wanted to say. "It's not that I don't like fashion or whatever…I practically live it. Heh…" he breathed out a short laugh. "I do live it. But, uh…I don't really want to be…want to become my f-father."

He felt guilt even at saying this out loud, though it was absolutely true. For as much as he loved his father for simply being his father, he hated seeing how Father worked over his main staff, the models (including him), and the designers under him. Even (or maybe he should say especially) Nathalie couldn't escape his tyranny. "Niceness" was not something Gabriel Agreste was known for.

Adrien scowled, ice cream forgotten.

A hand on his arm stopped Adrien mid-step and he flicked his gaze to Marinette. A double-take didn't take away the fire he had spied in her eyes, her whole countenance, at his first glance. The look of determination on her face was so achingly familiar, he found himself completely lost in the blue of her eyes, ready to listen to whatever this girl had to say.

"Adrien," she started in a seemingly uncharacteristically strong tone that was so very her. "I'm not even going to pretend to know what's going on between you and your dad, and I won't ever ask or pester you about it." She took a deep breath. "But you should know that you are a good person, OK? And I can't see that ever changing."

Adrien could only gaze at her, lips pursed, blinking hard to keep back the emotion in his eyes fighting to be free.

After a moment, Adrien found something of a shaky voice.

"Th-Thanks, Marinette."

Her soft, genuine smile elicited all the same feelings in Adrien as when the Miraculous Cure swept through Paris: he all at once felt renewed...and filled with fluttering. She squeezed his arm where her hand rested on him.

"You're welcome."

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"So…" Adrien hurried up beside a waiting Marinette the next evening, a little breathless from his jog from jome. They took off on their usual trek upon his arrival, neither thinking anymore on how this had become something normal to them both. Instead they were happy each day just to be in the other's company, something Adrien had felt especially restless over the whole of that morning through the afternoon.

He had, unfortunately, been detained the entire day by his father - a normal Saturday - and countless appointments. But now he was free, and he had wasted no time before messaging Marinette to see if she could, and wanted to (oh how he hoped she did) try another trip to the healer's house. She had readily replied in the affirmative, and Adrien tried to tell himself that his heart was racing from his run to her house and not from the sudden sight of her glowing in the lights of the sunset.

She had been waiting by the front door of the bakery and smiled when he came bounding up to her. Adrien's inner voice stammered a little and his body's mechanic started banging his head against the metaphorical wall. Adrien was thankful when she held out a pastry for him. He gladly grabbed it from her hand, thankful for the distraction. Then, hoping to seem undeterred during the brief interlude, continued with what he was about to ask her.

"So, do you like anyone?"

He could tell Marinette reeled back for a moment at the question and smirked inwardly despite the fire of something close to desperation for her answer burning in his bones. Marinette seemed to recover a bit, shaking her head as she looked away from him.

"Like I would tell you," she muttered.

"I'm guessing he doesn't know, then?"

Marinette blushed. "Why would you say that?"

It was Adrien's turn to look surprised at her words. "'Cause I can't imagine someone saying 'No' to you, Mari."

Marinette looked up to Adrien and he felt the heat on his cheeks again. So he did what was needed and shoved the whole pastry agonizingly slow into his mouth. It worked: Marinette started to laugh before punching him in the arm. He tried really hard not to reach up and rub the now very tender spot.

Why is she so strong?

"Thanks for the confidence, but I don't think it's going to happen."

"Whuteffer! Why noh?"

"Um, first of all, that is so gross!" she giggled at his full mouth. "But anyway...I'm pretty sure I quite soundly 'friend-zoned' myself." Marinette sighed at this and Adrien was both relieved and sorry for her. He swallowed hard, and it was because of the oversized bite of pastry. Not nerves. Really.

"You should drop him a line."

Marinette looked confused. "What…like poetry?"

Adrien laughed. "No! No, no, no, like, a pick-up line."

This time Marinette laughed heartily. Like, a long time. Like, a really long time. Like, long enough Adrien started to get a little annoyed.

"Yeah, what a hilarious suggestion," he deadpanned.

"No, sorry, haha! I just know someone who would completely say the same thing." She took a deep breath, eyes glittering with moisture. "But I don't think I could do it."

"Seriously! You should try it out on him. I really don't think he'd reject you, Mari."

Marinette was a red mess. She sighed, fingers worrying themselves as they laced and unlaced together.

"H-Hey, Adrien?"

Adrien frowned slightly at the sudden stutter in her voice. Didn't she feel comfortable with him yet? He certainly hoped so.

"Yeah?"

"Can I tie your shoes for you?"

"I-what?"

"'Cause I don't want you falling for anyone else." Her voice was suddenly soft and, dare he even think it, a little...sultry.

Adrien could only blink. Blink and flush from his neck to his ears. Blink and...pun.

"A-Are you feline alright?"

Marinette, who had been looking markedly more confident than normal, abruptly scowled before rolling her eyes.

Adrien balked at the expression.

When she stared up at him again, the fierceness in the blue eyes, the red surrounded them from the heat in her cheeks matching His Lady's colors, the dark hair…in pigtails…with red ribbons….

Ah, crud.

Yeah, sure, "yay!", but…crud.

It's her.

She's her.

Adrien gulped, palms suddenly feeling sweaty.

And he had been encouraging her to drop a line to the dude she liked! Gall, he couldn't stand to lose both of these girls! Or, rather, this girl. This wonderful, beautiful, playful, brave, girl. He had hoped it was him that she liked...at least one part of him, as Adrien or Chat. And then he had to go and make that stupid suggestion! Drop a line? UGH! She had only laughed! And then she...she…oh.

She did drop a line. A super cheesy, delicious line.

To…him.

Somehow, through all of Adrien's wide-eyed musings, they had made it to the door of her building complex. Marinette kept glancing up at him, and Adrien was sure he looked like a red, sweaty mess. He held the door open for her as he had been doing for the past week, but instead of leaving her there and turning to walk home, he gulped thickly and followed her up to where her actual front door was.

Were they going to have a doorway scene? Would she want that? Gah! Why did he follow her!? She was smiling. He was broken. Wasn't there a movie about what to do about this? Something about…90/10?

Had that ended badly? He couldn't remember. And now it seemed like the most important information in the world.

Marinette stopped at her door and turned to face him, taking out her keys and…and…fiddling with them.

"I, uh, had a g-great time tonight, Adrien."

Has she seen that movie!?

Adrien stuck his hands deep in his pockets. Well, as deep as 3-inch pockets would allow. "Yup," he dumbly answered, popping the 'p'.

He saw Marinette grin even though her eyes were on the ground. When her gaze flicked upwards at him, followed by a full head tilt, and those big, blue eyes were blinking slowly, expectant, hopeful, he didn't care anymore.

Forget 90/10.

He was going for the whole 100.

Even if he had no idea what he was doing.

Grabbing Marinette's hands, Adrien pulled her toward him slowly, while taking a step forward to her. She backed up a bit, almost to the door, but didn't necessarily pull away; the movement just drew him into her farther. Adrien took another step toward her, brushing her hair back with his thumb for an excuse to cup his hand behind her head and pull her face up toward him more. His other hand let go of hers and he leaned his entire forearm on the wall behind her, closing the distance between them. When he lowered his face toward hers, he hesitated for only a moment.

A shudder passed through him when he felt her quick, warm breath on his own lips.

Oh, gosh, what if she didn't want this? What if he was coming on too stro–ermmahgosh.

So that's what 90/10 means.

She had grabbed onto both sides of his face, so delicately he shivered again, and pushed herself up the rest of the way to him, meeting his lips with hers. He didn't need help with the next part. He figured he could take care of it from here.

It was soft, tender, but gave him warm butterflies through his whole body.

After a few tentative touches, he deepened it, pulling just that much closer to her, lifting her head up at a better angle. After an almost undetectable moment of hesitation, she responded in kind; the softness was still there, but with something more like real fervor as the driving force behind the action. It was euphoric.

He wrapped the hand that had been on her face around her waist, pulling her closer to him. Her fingers scraped the nape of his neck, twirling in the hair there...and Adrien nearly fainted out of elation-induced delirium. She abruptly pulled away, and Adrien followed her face without meaning to, missing her warmth, her touch, immediately.

"Chat…" he heard her whisper. He opened his eyes wide in surprise and saw her gazing into his, that ferocity dancing behind the blue again. He wasn't sure how she knew...but she did. She knew. And he loved her for it.

"M'lady."

Her eyes widened for only a moment while she bit her lip. When her eyes became geavy again, he closed his own, and felt the pulsing of his heart banging fir freedom when she slid her lips almost teasingly against his own. He could only pull her closer still, feeling her strong hold matching movement for movement.

Then they were fully kissing again. Adrien took his hand away from the wall and wove his fingers thickly into her so soft hair as she pulled on his neck a little harder. They moved at a quickened pace; there was more feeling behind their actions now, more raw emotion and new discovery pitted against established attraction and desire. Adrien could feel her body melt into him, her small frame leaning entirely against his own...and he held her as firmly and close as he could manage.

It was only for another minute, but it was enough. And when they broke apart, they both started laughing lightly.

"GALL FINALLY." A new voice practically shrieked into the air. The couple yelped before abruptly jumping back from each other.

"SHHH PLAGG WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM!"

"MY PROBLEM IS A SERIOUS LACK OF CHEESE FOR THE LAST WEEK."

"YOU–"

"AND DON'T EVEN TELL ME YOU LIKED DIPPING YOURSELF IN FLOUR EVERY DAY TO MAKE YOURSELF LOOK PALE."

"I WASN'T!"

"GOOD!"

"GOOD!"

Adrien looked in wonder from Marinette to the two arguing blobs now floating in front of them. After narrowing his eyes at Plagg, he cleared his throat before crossing his arms.

"What!?" Plagg spat at him.

"Uh…" the red blob spoke hesitantly. Ladybug's – Marinette's – Kwami, seemed to give up on any excuse then. She shrugged happily.

"The Great Guardian was tired of you two dancing around each other."

As if that explained everything.

"So you faked being sick…" Marinette muttered, seeming to latch on to what had been going on before Adrien could wrap his head around the sutuation. "And you knew the healer would never be there…and we...we'd…keep trying to help you." Now she looked kinda…ticked. Out of habit, Adrien winced.

Tikki, however, only smiled.

"Well, you finally got that kiss from Adrien – and Chat! – that you've always wanted, Marinette! I think it all turned out right."

Adrien's heart fluttered. He suddenly could care less about the Kwamis' underhanded tactics. The means completely justified the ends. Especially now that he knew that Marinette (Ladybug) really had wanted this. If Tikki's words hadn't been reliable, the red brushing across Marinette's cheeks and down her neck was a dead giveaway.

"You like me that much, Bugaboo?" he smirked, and his sassy grin only widened at Marinette's obviously affected posture when she turned back to him. "Or…really, maybe I should call you Buginette?"

Instead of giving him a retort, which he completely expected, she looked instead to Tikki, feigning disinterestedness.

"Actually, Tikki," she spoke sweetly, hands clasping behind her back. "It looks like I have already kissed Adrien. You remember…before all of this." Marinette's eyes flicked up to his momentarily, now wearing Adrien's stolen smirk. Tikki giggled.

"That's right! I had forgotten about that! That was a fun Valentine's Day!"

Marinette gave Adrien an over-the-shoulder smirk as she turned to put her key into the door to go in.

"Wait…" Adrien felt all of his cheekiness flee. "You're serious?"

Marinette giggled, having slipped inside already. "How do you think I recognized you?"

"Wha...!? Wait!"

"Goodnight, Chaton."

The door closed, but before it did, Adrien caught one last glimpse of a blushing face, small fingers tracing over lips that he had kissed.

To imply that he was a little self-satisfied would be a 'cat'-astrophic understatement.

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Walking home, Adrien pulled out his phone when he felt it buzz. Looking at who it was from, he smiled widely.

"Ugh, this is going to be even worse than when Ladybug was just a mystery girl."

Adrien ignored Plagg and opened the messages coming in from "Buginette" (yes, he had already changed her name in his phone).

-Dear mon minou, I feel quite cold up here on the Eiffel Tower and so I brought some hot chocolate.

-I figured our naughty Kwamis owed us a night out.

-And if you ever want to hear the story of how you almost killed me but I saved your sorry leather-clad skin with a kiss, then I suggest you come join me.

-'Cause it's now or never.

-Here, Kitty, Kitty….

Adrien didn't see the last few messages though.

Chat Noir raced along the rooftops of Paris, the lit-up Eiffel Tower in his sights.

His Lady was waiting for him.

And he didn't want to just be told a story….

He was hoping for more of a reenactment.

Wait…I tried to KILL her!?

Fin!