“What about Honey?”
“What about honey?” Chloé responded through gritted teeth, taking a brief moment to glare at him out of the corner of her eye. Less than a second later her eyes were on the road again and Nathaniel was thankful she was at least a good driver. He would be lying if he said he hadn’t been extremely hesitant to get in a car with Chloé Bourgeois behind the wheel, but his mind had quickly been set at ease when he’d realized she wasn’t an absolute maniac on the road.
“Oh come on,” he said, “that’s a pretty common pet name.”
“That doesn’t make it any good! It’s so sappy and sticky and gross!”
“As a pet name or a food?”
He hummed in thought as he watched cars go by them, noting somewhere in the back of his head that Chloé didn’t even speed (hah, what a nerd). “But Honey suits you.”
“Because of your hair.” She briefly turned to give him a look that reminded him of the time she had tried marmite.
“What, so I should call you Tomato?”
He gave her a deadpan expression, not that she could see it. “No,” he replied flatly, “because that’s already our lycée class’s pet name for me.”
She half-heartedly tried to cover up her laugh. “Oh yeah, I forgot about that.” He wanted to glare at her, but he couldn’t exactly be mad when she looked so cute smiling like that. And after she’d been so incredibly tense all day too. It was refreshing. “I don’t get it, though,” she continued. “Why do we even need pet names?”
“How am I supposed to convince your family that we’re dating if we don’t even have pet names?”
“Having pet names isn’t some sort of relationship requirement, Nath.”
“Of course it is! Pet names are one of the best parts of dating!” She rolled her eyes, but he didn’t miss the tiny smile in the corner of her mouth.
“What about kissing and hugging and love and support?” She glanced nervously at him when he didn’t respond. “W-What?”
“I’m surprised you didn’t say sex.”
“Don’t tell me you’re actually a romantic at heart,” he said, chuckling. Her head sank down into her shoulders, a deep blush taking to her cheeks. “Oh my gosh, you are.”
“Shut up,” she muttered bitterly. He just laughed.
“That makes it even more surprising that you don’t like pet names though! Especially with all those different names you used to give Adrien. Let me think,” he counted off on his fingers, “Adrikins, Adrisweets, Adrifl—,”
“Okay, okay, I get it,” she interrupted. “Look, that’s exactly why I don’t like them, okay?”
“Because of Adrien?”
“No! Well, yes.” She sighed. “Because that was all so fake and impersonal. Back then I had no idea what love was, and I acted so disgustingly toward him because of it. I like to think I’ve moved on from all that now.”
Nathaniel hummed in thought. “Fair enough. We don’t need to use any pet names. But speaking of kissing and hugging,” he was pretty sure he saw her twitch just the slightest bit, “how much of a show do you want me to be putting on?”
She bit her lip and he wasn’t sure if it was a product of being nervous or just careful deliberation. He should probably stop overthinking every little move she made. “Well, holding my hand every now and then would be good, and probably hugging. You’ve dated before, right?”
“A little bit, yeah.”
“Yeah, so, you know, whatever seems natural? Don’t overdo it. I might kiss your cheek here and there, are you alright with that?”
Hell yes. “Yeah, that’s fine.”
“Okay. And as far as kissing on the lips goes…” he swallowed nervously, wondering if it was wrong of him to be hoping for her to say he should kiss her often, “we might need to for a picture or two. But other than that, it shouldn’t be necessary. I mean… Well, my Aunt Georgia watches a lot of Hallmark movies and she might ask us to kiss or something. She’s kind of gross like that. Is that… Are you comfortable with that?” she asked, eyeing him nervously.
You could hold me down and cover me in hickies and I would beg for more—He cleared his throat, hoping it might clear his head too. It didn’t. “Yeah, that’s totally fine.” He thought for a moment, then smirked as the Hallmark comment caught up with him. “Do you realize how freaking tropy this is?”
“Yeah. You know, asking me to visit your family with you for the holidays to pretend to be your boyfriend? There are at least three fics of this in any given fandom.”
She side eyed him with a smirk and a raised eyebrow. “Nerd.”
“True, and not the point.”
She rolled her eyes, still smiling. “It’s only tropy if we fall in love by the end.”
He found himself very glad in that moment that she wasn’t looking at him and therefore couldn’t see the sudden blush that he knew had appeared on his face. “Haha, yeah, true.” He nervously scratched the back of his head and stared at her. She didn’t seem to be having any sort of reaction to it and he wondered if his feelings really were one-sided. “Hey, Chloé…”
“Why did you ask me to come and not Adrien or something?”
“Adrien already had holiday plans,” she stated plainly. His heart sunk.
“Plus, all of France already knows he’s dating Marinette.”
“Right, of course.”
“And besides,” she shrugged, “I trust you.”
His heart thumped in his chest and he could feel that blush returning just as it had begun to calm down. “W-What?”
“You’ve been keeping my identity as Queen Bee a secret for, what? Three years now? Four? I’ve seen you lie with ease a million times, and you’ve more than proven that I can trust you. Plus, second to Sabrina, you’re kind of my best friend at this point. Honestly, I would rather face my family alone again than bring home anyone else.”
He reminded himself not to take her words as any sort of sign that she reciprocated his feelings.
But that didn’t mean that he had to ignore the warmth that he felt because of her, right? He didn’t want to deny himself this glow of love and appreciation that he felt from her. Even if the way she felt toward him was different than what he felt for her, it was still something special and he could at least take joy in that.
She glanced at him after he didn’t respond for a while. “What?” He smiled and she rolled her eyes, cheeks taking on the slightest dusting of blush. “So I said some nice words about you, don’t let it go to your head.”
He laughed. “Yes, Honey.”