It started with a kiss.
It ended with… Actually, Adrien isn't entirely sure how it'll end. Their story isn't quite over at this time. Hopefully it will end be with a white gown and a black tux, but he doesn't know. Yet. All he knows is how it started.
With a kiss.
Well, to be perfectly frank, the kiss didn't exactly start everything. Though, it does sound way more romantic. And it was certainly the catalyst for all that was to happen, but technically—technically—it started from the moment they met; the moment Adrien became Chat Noir and was introduced to his partner, Ladybug. It only grew from there. Acquaintances to partners to friends to now. What 'now' was, Adrien couldn't say. He only knew how it felt within himself, not the label to put on it.
Whenever he'd make his legendary cat-like puns, Ladybug's quips were less dismissive and more…well, not flirtatious, but…not not-flirtatious. They'd been partners for four years—Adrien's eighteenth birthday was just about a month ago—and his feelings for Ladybug had never diminished during those years. He'd been enamored by her when they first met, which had then turned into admiration mixed with a small (huge) crush, and then, as the months had become years, it became love.
At least, he thinks it's love.
Who's he kidding? It had to be love!
Adrien had never felt such a strong connection and yearning and pull before—not all at the same time—for just one person. For Ladybug. It had to be love. He knew he'd die for her. He'd kill for her too, if it came down to it. But most of all, he wanted to live for her. All this without even knowing her true identity.
During the years, Adrien managed to coax some information from Ladybug. Nothing too major, unfortunately, but it was still something. He knew her favorite color was pink, being a fashion designer was her dream job, and she was an only child. He figured out her parents owned a café somewhere in the city by the constant aroma of vanilla and cinnamon that hung around her.
When her grandmother was dying from cancer in China and she couldn't go, he held her as she sobbed into his chest. Later, he had slipped her three round-trip plane tickets so she and her parents could travel in first class to the funeral—it was the only thing he could think to do.
When she'd been broken up by her boyfriend two years ago because he was going off to university and she couldn't stand keeping secrets from him, he'd sat beside her in silence, letting her silently cry for several minutes before challenging her to a race in an effort to keep her mind off him. It had worked for her. But Adrien, on the other hand, had been a storm of emotions.
Hate for the boy that had caught her attention, had her attention, and yet broke it off with her after only a year and a half. Relief that she hadn't revealed herself to the boy and that she was no longer with him, which meant Adrien still had a chance with Ladybug…and also guilt for feeling relief at his Lady's heartbreak.
It had lasted for several months.
Only when he caught Ladybug staring at him when she thought he wasn't paying attention did his emotional storm finally die down. Her face had been soft and open. She'd looked at him as if she'd never seen him before. As if she liked what she saw. He wasn't sure to make of it, but after catching her several more times that week, he realized what it was. She was seeing him, actually seeing him! And clearly, she liked what she saw.
Adrien never dared to allow himself to think she had a c-word on him, but he hoped. Oh, how he hoped it was true.
So, the kiss was merely the action that made things both clearer and more complicated.
And the falling Eiffel Tower started the kiss.
Chat Noir watched in horror as the Akuma—a man who called himself Nightmare—touched Ladybug, freezing her in place.
"No!" he shouted, willing his legs to move faster. He was supposed to be the diversion; the Akuma was supposed to follow him, not her. "Ladybug!"
She didn't answer him. She couldn't. His partner was frozen, paralyzed with fear. Chat didn't know what she was seeing, but from how the other citizens reacted to Nightmare's touch, soon she'll start screaming, and when her voice gives out, she'll start sobbing.
"That was too easy," Nightmare muttered, walking to around the terrified heroine to look at her face-to-face. He extended his hand, about to take her earrings. "Pardon me, my dear, but I owe someone a debt."
His fingers brushed her hair back. It was almost tender.
"Bastard!" Chat shouted, tackling the Akuma to the ground. "Release the spell!" he demanded, pinning the man's wrists down, careful not to touch his fingertips. "Now!"
Nightmare merely chucked, causing something deep in Chat's gut to churn. It burned, fueling his anger and strength.
"Oh, silly little kitty cat. I can't reverse my touch."
"Try," he hissed. He could hear Ladybug whimpering behind him; he fought his instinct shouting at him to GO TO HER DAMMIT GO TO HER RIGHT NOW. Nightmare must've sensed, or seen, his distraction because the next thing Chat knew, he was being kneed in the gut.
Quickly, he rolled to the side, jumping to his feet before Nightmare's fingers could brush against his skin
"My, you're quick," the man observed. "But do you have nine lives?" He threw his hand out towards the Eiffel Tower, fingers splayed. At first nothing happened, but then—CREAK!
Chat watched in muted dread as the great structure swayed.
"I didn't know you could do that," he said, mostly to himself.
"It was someone's fear," Nightmare replied. "Little girl, somewhere in Paris. Don't know the name. I simply made her fear a reality."
With an awful groan, the tower began falling.
A child's scream pierced the air. Exclamations of disbelief, followed quickly by shouts of terror, filled the block.
"NO! Get out of the way! Ladybug! LADYBUG!"
For the second time, Chat found himself running toward his partner. He pushed through the chaos of scrambling citizens, not caring if they fell to the ground from his haste.
The tower's shadow was right over Ladybug. It was going to fall on her, but there was no way he was going to let that happen. He was practically useless without her. No matter how many times she corrected him, he knew, deep in his heart, Ladybug was the hero and he was the sidekick. And he was completely alright with that.
But Ladybug needed to still around to need a sidekick.
Each citizen he pushed passed, another curse came to his mind. They shouldn't have been there. They should've known better by now. When there's an Akuma, run. Don't stay and watch. It's stupidity.
Chat caught a glimpse of red and brown hair. Alya. Her phone was in hand, angled to catch everything as she ran away with the crowd. He loved his friend, he did, but he hated that she not only put herself in danger to "Get the perfect picture!" but she, and all the other idiots who stay to watch and record, also put others in danger. And this time, that person was Ladybug. If something were to happen to her…Chat didn't even want to think about that. He focused on running. On reaching his Lady in time.
The weight of the tower was stronger than anything he'd ever felt before. It wasn't just metal crushing him down, there was dark magic infused in the structure. It nipped at his strength, taking a little more with every passing second. It hadn't even been a full five seconds since he propped it up, and yet Chat could feel his strength already failing.
But that didn't matter. Nothing mattered except that Ladybug wasn't crushed under a metal coffin.
"L-Ladybug!" he gasped, staring down at the shaking girl by his feet. Her eyes were unfocused as she mumbled please full of desperation. Something about it can't be true, it can't be. "Please! S-Snap out of—" he couldn't finish, the weight above him making it harder and harder to breath. His entire body was trembling, every muscle protesting in agony.
"What a predicament you're in," Nightmare mused. He stood a few feet away, taking in the scene with a smirk. "You make this too easy. Is it because I'm special or are you two having a bad day?"
"Fuck off," he gasped out.
Nightmare chuckled. "I'll take that as the latter then." He sauntered towards them, taking his sweet time. The block was completely deserted now; not even Alya stayed behind to record the unfolding scene.
"Ladybug!" Chat begged. The strain was getting too much, and he no longer knew if it was tears or sweat running down his face. Perhaps it was both. "Please! Ladybug!"
He didn't remember falling on a knee, but it hadn't helped. The tower was still too heavy. Too unbalanced.
"She can't hear you," the Akuma reminded. "She's trapped in her own little nightmare. She'll start screaming soon. Oh, I love when they scream. Can't you hear her know? Those sweet, pathetic little whimpers."
He squeezed his eyes shut. How had this gone so wrong?
"Ladybug," he whispered, positive that what were now falling down his cheeks were tears. "My Lady. Help."
"Help isn't coming for you Chat Noir," Nightmare said darkly. He raised his hand, extending it toward Chat's face. "But death is."
Chat's eyes flew open (when had he closed them?) and he saw her. With tear-splotched cheeks and red, puffy eyes, there she stood. Ladybug.
"What? How?" Nightmare asked dazedly, staring up at the figure who tackled him to the ground.
"No one hurts mon minou," she snarled. Raising her fist, Ladybug brought it down with a precise punch to the jaw. Nightmare stumbled backwards, his face slack with shock.
But it wasn't over yet.
"Oh, so that's how you want to play it," Nightmare mused. He lunged at her, knocking her onto the floor, but his victory was short lived. Using her Lucky Charm, Ladybug overpowered Nightmare, quickly utilizing the black and red pillow. Within minutes, she had wrestled him back to the ground, much more bruised and battered than before.
Who knew that if you hit someone hard enough, a pillow could break their nose? Talk about a pillow fight.
"Tell your little master," Ladybug spat, a hand on his throat. "That if you ever try to kill my partner again, I'll make his life a living nightmare." She raised her fist once more, and this time, Nightmare was out cold.
"Bastard," she huffed, yanking his necklace free and crushing it with her foot. "Time to deal with you, little cretin," she told to the black butterfly. Finally, she flung the pillow into the air, and Paris reverted itself to its rightful state.
She was so beautiful when angry, Adrien thought as he crumbled to the ground, the Eiffel Tower back where it belonged. Black spots swarmed his vision. The final moments of Nightmare and Ladybug's battle had been shielded from him because of them, but he hadn't fretted. He knew his Lady would win. And now that she had, maybe he could take a little cat nap. Already his eyes were closed. Sleep was only a few seconds away…
"Chat! Oh god, Chat!"
As Ladybug cradled his body to hers, Chat was jarred into alertness. Being cradled, even if it was by his Lady, brought about waves of pain that shook his body with every breath. (Though, honestly, his entire being felt so awful, any position would've been a painful one.) However, almost as soon as his eyes flew open, they demanded to be shut again. He felt too exhausted to take in the smell of her hair or the softness of her breast. He was so tired. And everything hurt.
"Chat? Chat, answer me!"
"…'m here, m'lady," he mumbled, fighting to keep his eyes open. To look up into her. He tried to lift his hand to touch her face, but he could barely lift it an inch, let alone get it to stop shaking. Every word he said felt like an anchor, weighing him down further and further in the blackness. "Just…tired…'n' sore."
"You saved me," she said, tears falling down her face. He only knew because he felt them when she pulled him closer. "Chat, you…"
"You saved me," he corrected, his words slurring together. Like always. Ladybug saved his ass as well as the entire city's a—
His eyes flew open.
Pulling back just enough to speak, Ladybug whispered, "No, Chat. You're the hero today." Then she pressed her lips to his again.
Reflexively, because he was in completely shock, Chat opened his mouth. Ladybug must've taken it as some sort of encouragement because soon, he was getting thoroughly French kissed, right under the Eiffel Tower with the love of his life. He moaned when she pulled away and tried to chase her lips. Giggling, she put a finger up, blocking his search.
"Silly kitty," she said quietly. Fondly. Her thumb swiped tenderly at his cheek. "I have to get you somewhere safe before I de-transform."
"Oh," he said stupidly, hearing the beeping of her earnings for the first time. He felt himself being lifted up, carried bridal-style by his Lady. Unable to hold back his sheepish grin, he tightened his arms and buried his face in Ladybug's neck. "Okay."
Slowly, she set him down on the softest patch of ruble possible. "I'll send help, I promise. Don't move."
"Couldn't even if I wanted to," Chat mumbled. He wanted to reach out and bring her back down to him. Have her wrap around him and pet his hair. Hold him close like his mother used to. Have her never leave his side. But he didn't do that. One, because that would've been embarrassing, and two, he seriously couldn't. His arms still felt like buttery noodles.
He hated that the magic power that fixed everything didn't fix their bruises and scrapes and flat-out exhaustion. Sure, they healed faster and didn't need as much sleep as others, but not having to hide even the smallest of scares would be a blessing.
Despite the second-to last warning her earrings were blaring, Ladybug hesitated. "Are you sure you'll be alright?"
There was no way he was letting an opportunity like this slide. "You could always kiss me again." The words weren't as confident as he'd like them to be, but it was so difficult to speak without becoming out of breath. "Just to be safe."
Ladybug rolled her eyes, blushing. "I don't have magically healing kisses, Chat."
"You can't possibly be certain after just one kiss."
For a moment, Chat wondered if she was going to take everything back. If she was going to say that they shouldn't have kissed, that it was a mistake, that she was merely caught up in the moment and didn't mean it.
But then she bit her lip and smiled, her eyes sparkling with mischief.
"Well, Chat, I suppose…just a little kiss…wouldn't hurt. Just to see…"
"Just to see," he repeated breathily, closing his eyes as she leaned forward.
Softly, her lips brushed against his and she raised a hand to jaw his jaw. It was gentle and sweet, slow and perfect. He wanted her lips to never leave his, her hand to never retreat from his face, her—
Her earrings beeped again, jarring the couple into reality, and she pulled back from him like she'd been stung. Her cheeks were the same color as her suit.
"I—I should get going."
Chat wondered what it said about him, that he was willing to make out with an almost-total stranger. That he was in love with a girl who wouldn't even tell him, her crime-fighting-Akuma-slaying partner, her real name. And he was completely okay with that.
"I'll send help. I promise."
And then she was gone.
That had been over half an hour ago. Chat was fine with waiting—he still couldn't lift his arms without feeling like he was straining something—but he wasn't quite sure he liked where Ladybug had placed him. Empty buildings unnerved him. Even though they usually had their nightly rendezvous here for city patrol, he just didn't like being left alone.
His cat ears twitched at the word. It sounded strangely like—
"Marinette?" he blurted out. "What are you…? Ladybug sent you?"
He regretted his words instantly, watching her figure stiffen while her hands tightened into fists.
"Well, if you don't want my assistance," she turned on her heel.
"Wait!" His mind was still whirling. "I just—I'm sorry—but how do—I mean…" he took a breath, grateful that Marinette turned back to face him, her face softening. Maybe it was because of how pitiful he looked—he felt extremely pitiful—but he didn't care why she turned, just that she did. "I'm sorry for my words. Truly, I am. I just didn't realize that you and Ladybug knew each other. Trusted each other."
Marinette blushed, breaking eye contact. "Oh. Yeah, that's… Um. It's quite a story." Rather than elaborate, she removed the backpack from her shoulders. "I brought you some food and water. And pain pills."
"Wonderful," he sighed, shifting his weight back against the concrete slab. "You didn't happen to bring a pillow either? My ass is getting a bit numb."
He heard a stifled gasp, then felt something soft smack into his face. It was a pillow.
"You really shouldn't use such language," Marinette scolded.
"All I said was—" he stopped himself, grinning at his classmate's stern face. "All right, fine. No swears in your presence, Princess."
Princess. He hadn't called Marinette that in years. Not since that Akuma attack back when they were sixteen and her parents' bakery was being targeted. He couldn't remember exactly why it had been the target, but he remembered what it felt like watching her interact with her parents. It stung even now, knowing he could never have the picture-perfect family with a mama and papa who loved their child.
(At least, not with his parents. He promised himself he'd do better with his own family someday. No less than two kids, he'd decided. Growing up as an only child in that big, empty house was a fate he wouldn't want anyone else to ever have.)
"Good. I hope you like vegetable soup."
It was really nice having someone take care of him, Chat thought. Even if it wasn't the Lady he wanted, Marinette was perfectly fine too.
"So how do you know my Lady?" he asked after being spoon-fed the soup a few times.
Her movements stilled, but after a moment, she set the soup down and began rummaging through her backpack. Adrien took note of the careful way she did not look at him.
"I told you."
"All you said was—"
"Ah! Found them!" Marinette held up a bottle of pain pills. "It says to take two, but I'm sure adding one more won't hurt."
"…Two more?" he asked, hoping his voice wasn't actually as pleading as it sounded in his ears.
After a moment's pause, the girl shrugged. "Why not. Need water?"
"Please, thanks." Reaching for the bottle, he was pleased that he could lift his arm. Sure, there was still a tremor and the bottle felt as if it weighed a ton, but at least he could move. Slightly. Distantly, he wondered why Marinette didn't tell him how she met Ladybug. Was it embarrassing?
"It should start working within the hour. Will you…"
Biting her lip, she looking at him calculatingly. It was different than how she looked at Adrien. Less shy and skittish; more certain and calm. It wasn't as bad as when they were in collège, but she still got tongue-tied and nervous around him. He had hoped they'd gotten past the whole 'I-thought-you-were-putting-gum-on-my-seat-and-so-I-yelled-at- incident, Adrien still felt as though Marinette didn't like him at times. Even if they, Nino, and Alya would eat lunch or go to the cinema together, there was always something just a little off. He'd asked Nino about it a few times, but he would vehemently deny Marinette disliking him and change the subject quickly. It never made Adrien feel any better. Why else would she act so strange? At least it lessened through the years.
"Will you need help getting home?"
His body begged him to say yes. Just because he could drink some water without dumping it down his front, didn't mean he could get all the way home.
But his home wasn't inconspicuous. At all. It was completely conspicuous.
Unless he could convince Marinette that he was Adrien Agreste's brother that had been hidden from the world (which would look very bad on his father) or the son of a staff member (which would only make sense if the staff lived in the mansion, and they don't because it wasn't the 1800s), then there was no way he could let her help him home.
"I think I'll be okay," he answered as honestly as he could. "I don't live too far from here."
"Okay." She nodded, her eyes saying she knew the other reason he turned down her offer. He was a superhero; she was a civilian. What did she expect?
"But you could do me another favor."
"Oh? And what's that, Chat Noir?" she asked, her voice picking up a pinch of the sass she hardly ever used around Adrien.
"Tell me how you met Ladybug. Please, I'm curious."
"Oh!" Her face turned red again and she looked around the room nervously. "Well, you see, it's… Uh… What I mean to say is that…"
Her phone rang. She fumbled to get it, almost dropping it twice in her haste.
"O-One moment," she told him. "Hello?" Her eyes went wide. "M-Mama! What are you—?"
Chat could hear a harsh voice, but couldn't make out the words.
"I know it's late, but I… Yes, mama. I'm sorry for sneaking out. I'm helping a friend… No! No! It's not a boy, it's not like that! It's—It's…" she sighed. "Okay, I'm coming home right now."
"Trouble with the 'rents?" Chat asked, half-amused, half-disappointed. He'd never seen Marinette in trouble before. Of course, now that she had to go home right away, that meant he wouldn't have company and wouldn't be able to get the story out from his classmate.
"Yeah. I'm definitely grounded. For life."
"You can always tell them you were helping me."
She sighed. "Somehow, I don't think they'd believe that. And I already told my mom that it wasn't a boy." She rummaged through her backpack once again. "Here, these are for you," she placed some macarons, biscuits, and a simple sandwich beside him.
"Thanks," he said, mouthwatering at the sight. "Did you make these yourself?"
"The sandwich and macarons. My papa made the biscuits. I'll see you later?"
"Of course, Princess." Chat grinned. "I have to properly thank the lady who brought me food. And pain pills. You'll see me soon."
It was dark, but he could've sworn he saw her blush.
"Dude, what's with you? You're walking like you're made of glass or something."
Slowly, Adrien sat down in his seat. There was a special place in hell for whoever thought schools shouldn't have cushioned seats.
"Rough fencing workout," he lied. "Must've overexerted myself."
"Yikes," Nino replied, sliding beside him. "Glad I don't do that sport thing. DJing is tiring enough."
Laughing, Alya leaned over her desk. "You say that like it's hard."
"You try it sometime! Standing there for hours, constantly moving your arms, having to nod your head!"
"Oh yes," she said solemnly. "Sounds completely terrible."
"What sounds terrible?" Marinette asked, arriving just moments before homeroom started as usual. She had bags under her eyes, as if she barely got enough sleep. Alya didn't comment on it though, so Adrien decided it was best to follow the best friend's actions.
Rolling her eyes, Alya responded, "Nino was complaining about DJing again. But enough about that. Why didn't you answer my texts?"
Marinette sighed and somehow looked even more miserable than before. "My phone's been locked up. I'm grounded."
"Ugh, again?" Alya folded her arms across her chest. "This is why you shouldn't be so late to class all the time. How long is it this time?"
"…Four weeks," the girl mumbled, looking down.
Adrien turned sharply, wincing at the dull ache that his body betrayed him with. Four weeks? That's a really, really long time. His stomach churched with guilt.
"What! Four weeks? They can't do that!" Nino exclaimed.
"They're my parents, Nino. They have every right." It sounded like she was repeating what had been told to her many, many times.
"But you're an adult! You're in lycée! You're eighteen!"
"Doesn't matter," Marinette said glumly. "Their roof, their rules."
The teacher called for the student's attention and began calling names.
"But four weeks?" Alys hissed. "What did you do? It can't be because you were late to class." She gasped. "Mari! Were you out late with a boy?"
Her eyes darted toward Adrien, but it was too quick to tell if she was implying something or if it was a figment of his imagination. He hoped the latter. There was no way Alya could know he was Chat Noir; no way she could know what happened last night.
Alya squealed softly, her hands coming up to cover her grin.
"You're a terrible liar," Nino said, also smiling. "So, you gonna tell us who it was? What you guys," he lowered his voice and raised his eyebrows, "Did so late at night?"
Marinette's face turned as red as Nathanaël's hair. Adrien was sure he was no different. The thought of him and Marinette doing something…like that…it just didn't seem right. Especially since sometimes it still felt like she struggled to see him as an actual friend and not as an enemy about to put gum in her chair.
Despite that, once in a while Adrien found himself wishing he could rip out his feelings for his Lady and crush on Marinette; she was sweet and kind, but wasn't a pushover, and she always stood up for her friends. Sure, she was exceptionally shy, but had it been another time, a different life, maybe Adrien could've fallen for Marinette. She was beautiful and strong, so much like Ladybug. Though much clumsier.
For a moment, as he watched his friend's face, Adrien let his imagination run. He pictured an older Marinette, long blue-black hair twisted into a bun as she concentrated on her latest fashion design. He pictured an older version of himself, walking into the room, and kissing her cheek, distracting her from the design. He pictured them going off to Rome and New York and Hong Kong, running off on adventures without a care for Akumas or taking over the family business. He pictured them snuggling on the couch, watching a movie or talking or…or…
At the sudden thought of a blushing, gasping Marinette beneath him, Adrien turned his back on the conversation, his face burning. Where did that thought come from?! He was probably as bright as Ladybug's suit.
Thinking of Ladybug only made him want to hit his head. Hard. She kissed him last night. Twice! His feelings had finally been reciprocated and it was one of the best moments in his life. He was probably going to have the girl of his dreams become his girlfriend, which he really, really wanted, and thinking about his classmate and friend in such a way was totally inappropriate! Even if he and Ladybug weren't together or official yet, thinking of some other girl felt too much like cheating, and Adrien would never cheat on anyone—especially on the girl that he's been in love with since forever and who could overpower him in ten seconds flat.
(That last part was every bit as terrifying as it was hot, a notion he tried really, really hard not to dwell on. Not only was his partner an amazing badass, but she could pin him down and tie him up and—oh, fuck, fuck, fuck!)
Crushing his palm down, he prayed that his friends didn't realize his predicament and he begged for his stupid erection to go away. If they connected the paw prints and figured out that the reason he was so flustered talking about last night was because: one, he was with Ladybug, who kissed the hell out of him and he was thinking very, very inappropriate thoughts about their possible future, and two, Marinette was with Chat Noir, who was him, Adrien Agreste, their friend, then that could not only make things extremely awkward at the present moment, but also put them in huge danger. If Hawkmoth ever found out… Adrien shook his head, refusing to think such things. Hawkmoth would never hurt his friends. Adrien wouldn't let him.
(At least thinking about his friends in danger from his arch nemesis solved the problem down under.)
"It wasn't like that!" Marinette all but squeaked.
Laughing, Nino waggled his eyebrows. "Sure, it wasn't, Mari."
"Nino!" The teacher called out sternly. "Class has begun. You're not in collège anymore, so please act like it."
He had the decency to look ashamed as he turned back around to face the front of the classroom. "Yes, ma'am. Sorry."
The rest of Adrien's day was a mixture of physical pain, intense guilt, and incredible denial about what happened. He focused on the second one most. Four weeks of punishment for helping him out. Maybe he could convince Ladybug to get Marinette's punishment lessoned. They were going to see each other for patrol later that night. And after convincing her to help Marinette… Well, Adrien really wanted to taste those lips again.
"My Lady," Chat said with flourish, bowing at the figure. It was stiff, but less painful than he would've thought. "You're late."
"Yes, I… I had some complications getting here." She paused, looking him up and down. "You look better."
"I feel better." He took her hand, kissing it. "Because of your kiss."
She rolled her eyes. "Yes, I'm sure that's it. Nothing to do with pain pills or time or having a magical kwami."
"The pain pills helped," he admitted. "And maybe Plagg, but we won't tell him that. Speaking of pain pills though, the girl you sent to help me, Marinette…"
Ladybug cocked her head. "What about her?"
"I heard she got grounded because of it. Do you think there's any way you could…I don't know, pop into her parent's house and explain that you sent her to help me? Four weeks is a long time to be grounded for helping someone else."
"How," she paused, her throat bobbed. "How did you find that out?"
Rubbing the back of his neck, Adrien wondered if he should admit he goes to school with her. If he did that, should he admit he went to collège with her too? Or maybe that would be bad. Despite never having a girlfriend, he knew there were unspoken Do's and Do Not's regarding talking about other girls. Would this be considered a Do Not?
Ladybug wasn't even his girlfriend yet! He really needed to get his life together. Alright, evading the question it is.
"Let's just say a little kitten told me."
From the way she was looking at him, Chat knew that Ladybug knew he was keeping something from her. They weren't really together yet though, so it didn't matter…right? It was okay to keep the fact that the pretty girl that Ladybug knew (was friends with?) went to both collège and lycée with Chat, who was Adrien.
Oh, dear god this was complicated.
"Um. Okay. Well…I guess…I could try…to talk to her parents…? I don't know how much good it would do though…"
"That's okay. At least you would've tried."
A somewhat awkward silence settled around them. He refused to let it ruin what happened last night.
"Don't we have a patrol to do?" he asked, standing up and stretching his limbs.
"Right." Ladybug nodded, repeating his actions. The tension cleared quickly.
"I'll race you to the Eiffel Tower. Last one there has to bring snacks next time."
Laughing, his partner stuck out her hand. "You're on! Prepare to bring chocolate du pain next week."
He shook her outstretched hand. "Oh no, no, no, my Lady. You prepare to bring macarons!"
With their agreement set, the heroes ran into the night, jumping, swinging, and laughing the entire way. Carefree smiles on their faces and determination in their steps. It wasn't possible to declare a winner. They stepped foot on the rooftop closest to the Tower almost simultaneously, but before they could bicker on who would bring the snack, Chat Noir's bad luck showed its face. He tripped over his own tail, tumbling into Ladybug, who fell to the ground with a huff.
Though maybe it wasn't really bad luck after all. They were both laughing, still high on the adrenaline of the race, and then, when their humor began to dwindle, they realized exactly what position they were in. Maybe it hadn't been bad luck, for bad luck would not have had Chat looking down at his Lady, with his elbows braced on either side of her head, and his knees on either side of hers. Bad luck would not have had Ladybug looking up at him with her mouth as a small 'o' and her cheeks scarlet red.
"Chat," she whispered.
"Y-Yes?" he asked, voice just as soft. He wanted to kiss her again. Oh god, he really wanted to kiss her again and press himself against her. He wanted to feel her heartbeat against his.
"L-Listen. About the other day…"
"You mean when you kissed me?"
Her blush deepened. "Yes. You see I…well, I was only…I was thanking…um…"
"If that was you thanking me, I would very much love to be thanked like that again." He grinned, waggling his eyebrows. He felt so giddy and so nervous he was almost positive that actual butterflies were in his stomach.
She huffed and shoved him aside; it wasn't a dismissive gesture, but it was forceful enough that he let her push him away. Standing up with arms crossed she muttered, "You're absolutely ridiculous."
"I definitely am," Chat agreed. After a moment's hesitation, he moved to stand right behind Ladybug, his chest against her back. She jumped as he wrapped his arms around her, but she slid hers atop his, keeping him against her. Leaning closer, his lips brushed against her ears as he whispered, "But you're the one who kissed me."
She shivered in his arms. He expected her to say something, but only silence filled the night. It was almost peaceful. Almost. She still trembled, and at first, he thought the cool wind was affecting her, but as droplets appeared on his gloves, he knew better.
"Ladybug? Are you—"
He gasped as she turned in his arms and clutched his body tighter to hers.
"You were dead!" she sobbed, burring her head in his chest. Automatically, he tightened his grip on her, pressing her even more into him. "There was so much blood! And you were—!" She stopped abruptly, unable finish her sentence; her breath hitched as she trembled in his arms.
"Your nightmare," he realized after a beat. "You dreamed I…" He couldn't finish the thought.
"I couldn't save…it'd been a trap and I…then you…" she broke off into more sobs.
Rubbing her back, he murmured, "Don't worry. It's all okay now. I'm alive. We're both breathing."
"But he almost killed you!" Ladybug pushed away from him, just enough to look him in the eyes. "The Akuma actually tried to kill you!" Her hands cradled his face. "I can't lose you, Chat. I can't. You're my…my…" She heaved a breath, trying to find the words.
"Partner?" he supplied, still reeling at the fact her nightmare had been about him. "Kitten, friend, colleague—"
For the second time, Chat found himself being kissed by the love of his life. Her hands remained on his face, keeping him closer to her height. He didn't remember moving his arms, but he felt the small of her back beneath his gloved fingertips, then beneath his forearms as he pressed her against himself. Every time they broke apart she murmured words he couldn't understand over his own words.
"I love you."
"I should get home," she whispered. "School tomorrow and all that."
But Ladybug didn't move. Neither did he. It wasn't that he was comfortable—his body still ached from last night's fight, and the cold, hard roof did not help matters whatsoever—but Ladybug was in his arms. She was actually laying in his arms with her head on his chest. And this was after hours and hours of kissing and cautious touching.
A few minutes later, with an exaggeratedly sad sigh, Ladybug sat up. She looked down at him, her eyes shining, and kissed his cheek. "Until next time, mon minou." Just before she swung away, she called out, "I'm looking forward to the snacks!"
Chat opened his mouth to shout back—because he did not lose that race—but stopped. Instead, he smiled. She was already out of ear shot, and besides, he could get macarons for himself later. Right now, he wanted to savor the feeling of Ladybug in his arms.
He also really needed to get back home before Natalie realized he was gone. School started in two hours and he couldn't let anyone know anything was different.
(Of course, hiding things from Nino and Alya was as easy as hiding cheese from Plagg.)
"Whoa, dude! What happened to you?" Nino slid up to Adrien's side as soon as he stepped foot on school grounds.
I made out with the love of my life until about two hours ago and then jerked off in the shower.
Snorting, but unable to stop smiling, Adrien replied, "Well, that's one hell of a way to greet a friend."
Nino rolled his eyes. "Dude. You look like… Like you got something. Something nice."
"Ew, Nino, please never ever try to be coy again."
Laughing, Nino steered the both of them into their first classroom, making lewd jokes all the way. Adrien didn't stop him.
Alya made a passing comment as well later that day, but it was much slyer than Nino's. Also, she only made one. At least in his presence.
But nothing could bring down his good mood. Even Marinette seemed happier today, and was able to hold a conversation with him without a stutter.
Over the course of the next few weeks, Adrien's sure that if there was a record for the amount of make out sessions orchestrated in within seven days, he and Ladybug broke it each week. And he was definitely not complaining.
He was also quite grateful that their suits could be maneuveredto show off more skin than usual. His opened in front, almost as if his bell doubled as a zipper while Ladybug's opened down the back. The amount of times he thought about tearing open her suit, or her tearing his, probably broke another record too.
And he had to have at least reached the record for cold showers in one week. He's lost count of how many he's taken.
Especially counting that latest super-cold shower he had to take when Ladybug dragged him away from the crowd that always appeared after an Akuma was cured. She dragged him far, far away from the cameras and reporters and civilians and bloggers, and she pushed him against one of the walls in their abandoned building, kissing him like her life depended on it. Before either one realized what was going on, his suit had been unzipped and off his shoulders while her hands roamed his exposed skin.
"That was so hot," she murmured between kisses. "God, Chat, you were incredible out there today."
"S-So were you," he managed to say, as her tongue slipped in and out of his mouth, her mouth catching and re-catching his bottom lip.
Somehow, her kissing him was even better after they'd made the agreement that this thing between them was not something either of them wanted to share with anyone else. He couldn't stop smiling when he finally was able to call his Lady his girlfriend for the first time. Even now, the memory brought a smile to his lips, though it quickly melted into a moan when her lips moved to the side of his neck. And the lower her fingers traced, the more his breath hitched. Normally, the suit fit so snug that nothing would budge…but the suit was unzipped. And he knew that she could definitely feel just how happy he was at the current moment. And he was very, very happy.
Also, a bit disappointed when she didn't go any lower than a few inches under his navel. Though perhaps that was for the best since they hadn't had any discussions about that particular activity yet. At least that's what the logical part of his brain keeps telling him. The part flooded with hormones was, well, not so logical.
Of course, then she put her hands against his sides, thumbing at his skin, which, yeah tickled a bit, but also felt so good having her gloved hand against his bare skin and her mouth at the base of his neck and her leg between his thigh and…well, if a reporter had taken a picture of them, there's no way it could've been circulated in a family newspaper.
When they finally split apart, he was relived Ladybug looked about as disheveled and wanton as he felt.
"Until next time, kitten," she breathed out. He isn't sure if she meant for her voice to sound so sultry, but she did kiss him one last time and trail a finger down his bare chest, so maybe she did.
He was in the shower nearly two hours that time.
When he got out, he noticed a small box on his bed.
Adrien, this came for you. -Natalie
He really, really hoped she put it there earlier today and he only just now noticed.
Either way, he decided not to dwell on it. For his own sake.
"Is that my special Camembert?" Plagg asked, zipping from some unknown corner of his room.
"No, this is for someone else, you selfish cheese head," Adrien laughed. "Your regular Camembert is in my minifridge."
"Ugh, fine," he grumbled, flying over to the fridge and prying it open. "You never give me anything special."
Rolling his eyes, Adrien made a mental note to get Plagg some extra stinky Camembert. He also planned on how best to see his Princess again.
"Chat?!" Marinette nearly screamed, holing her hand to her chest. "W-What are you doing here?"
Balancing on the pads of his feet on her balcony ledge, he sheepishly rubbed the back of his neck. He didn't mean to frighten her, though jumping down from the near-black sky probably wasn't his wisest decision.
"I told you I was going to give you a proper thank you for helping me out."
Marinette looked at him as if he were crazy. "That was nearly a month ago."
"And for that, I apologize. I got…distracted." Hopefully his blush wasn't too noticeable, but it was so hard to keep his face neutral whenever he thought of Ladybug, his girlfriend, and all the things they'd been doing. Suddenly, he was extremely conscious of all the hickies his leather suit was hiding.
"Distracted, eh?" The smirk on Marinette's face was way too knowing. "Well, come on in. My parents aren't home, and it's cold on my balcony."
"You still haven't told me how you know Ladybug," Chat said suddenly, dropping down from the trap door. He's glad she finally moved her bed from right under the opening; he would've hated to put his dirty boots on her sheets.
"You're right, I haven't."
Marinette's desk was scattered with papers; some were school related, but most had sketches of outfits.
"And you're not ever going to tell me, are you?"
A strangely sly and mischievous grin spread across her face. It was almost flirtatious the way she glanced at him.
"No, I probably will. Eventually."
His heart flipflopped, and he couldn't quite figure out why, but he tried to ignore it.
"Here. For you," he said, holding out a small box. "And a friend."
She eyed him suspiciously for a moment before tearing apart the perfectly wrapped gift. All her weariness evaporated at the sight of her gift.
"Are—Are you serious?" she breathed out, eyes wide. Gingerly, she picked up one of the tickets, treating it as though it would disintegrate at any moment.
"Of course, Purrincess. I've heard about your passion for fashion, and I couldn't think of a better way to thank you for helping me that night. They'll get you back stage after the show too." He paused, wondering if he should add the next part. Ultimately, he decided that he would, if only to tell at least oneperson that he was finally, finally datingLadybug and he really did love her with all his heart.
"I must admit, I originally intended to give them to my Lady, since she also loves fashion, so that we could go on a proper date, but I knew that she would turn me down for fear of our identities being revealed. A rightful fear, but still…" he shrugged. "I couldn't waste them, and I knew you would treasure the gift as much as my Lady would. Maybe more."
Marinette seemed to be speechless at his words, and her cheeks were colored with a light pink.
"P-Proper date?" she asked, finally managing to string her words together.
"Yes." He grinned. "As much as I love running over rooftops, my girlfriend deserves a proper date. I just hope I can give it to her sooner than later."
"You know, I think you might get it sooner than later too," she whispered thoughtfully, almost to herself. "Uh, I mean, thank you so much, Chat," she stuttered loudly. Then, softer and sincere, she added, "I really, really love this gift."
Typical Marinette, he thought. Not quite making sense, but still being genuine in her words. He wasn't sure how she managed to be so paradoxical, but it was certainly endearing. And certainly Marinette.
"Good," he said aloud, letting out a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding. He couldn't stop smiling either.
He moved to leave but paused. "By the way, I'm sorry you were grounded for so long after helping me. It wasn't right. I'm glad Ladybug was able to lessen your sentence for you."
"O-Oh. Um. Thank you. I'm glad she was too…"
Chat grinned, dismissing Marinette's sudden nervousness. She was probably hoping he wasn't about to ask her again how she knew the superhero. With a quick wave goodbye, he jumped up to the balcony, got out his baton, and leapt away.
He left her room feeling quite accomplished. He'd thanked Marinette, given her a gift, and declared Ladybug as his girlfriend. He hadn't quite gotten to the this is how much I love her part, but he hadn't even said the words to her yet—minus that night she admitted her nightmare had been about his death, but he really doesn't think she heard that one—so telling the world can wait until he tells his sun, moon, and stars how he feels about her.
(It wasn't until years later that Adrien realized Marinette hadn't been the slightest bit surprised at the notion that he was finally dating Ladybug. It was only the notion of a "proper" date that had her wide-eyed and fumbling for words. When he told her this, she couldn't stop laughing for a full five minutes.)
The next night, Ladybug jumped him before he even realized she'd landed on the roof, tackling him to the ground and effectively making him immobile as she kissed the life out of him. The hard floor beneath his back felt like silk cushions. He griped her thighs, pushing her further down on him.
"Oh, god," he moaned when she unzipped his suit to latch onto that sport on his neck again.
But she didn't stay there for long. Moving back towards his lips, after he'd squirmed and gasped, for several minutes, she pulled him up. Now, they were kissing and she was straddling him and kissing him and Adrien was sure he was about to spontaneously combust.
When they finally parted, both of their lips were red and raw, but they didn't separate from each other yet.
"You're amazing," she whispered, breathing heavily and moving her hands down his arms until they interlock fingers. "I love you."
"You…" Did he hear that right? Did she actually say it? "You love me?"
Laughing quietly, Ladybug kissed him again, leaning her forehead against his.
"Yes, Chat. Yes, I love you.
He squeezed her hands, nudging his cheek against hers. "I love you too, my Lady. I love you so much."
"C-Can I show you how much I love you?" she whispered, moving her hands and setting them on his hips.
Now Chat really was going to spontaneously combust. "You want—? Are you sure?" he stuttered.
"If you're okay with it."
"Yes." He couldn't say it fast enough. "Yes, please."
Laughing, she helped him get his arms out of his suit before pressing him back down. The roof was cold against his back, but every other part of him was on fire.
"I love you," Ladybug whispered again, pulling his suit down just enough to release him.
Chat's response was drowned in a garbled moan. They didn't get much patrolling done that night. They didn't get any patrolling done that night. But Paris didn't seem to mind.
"This is so exciting!" Alya squealed.
"I know! I can't believe we actually get to see one of Gabriel Agreste's fashion shows!" Marinette's eyes were practically glowing.
Adrien was watching them from behind the curtain. It was only because of his miraculous that he could even hear them over all the other boring chatter.
"Huh? Oh, no, I meant that Ladybug and Chat Noir are finally dating! Look at this!"
Alya shoved her phone in Marinette's face, where the picture of Ladybug kissing Chat's cheek was enlarged with several emojis dancing around the couple's faces.
It had only been a few days since he and Ladybug made their relationship official to the public. They'd had a month and some change of privacy, but after one too many close calls after Akuma attacks, they decided to take control of the situation before the media took it and ran amok.
"And they agreed to do an exclusive with me! Can you believe that?" Alya rambled. "Me! No one else!"
Laughing, Marinette said, "Well you are their biggest fan. You run the Ladyblog!"
"I know!" Alya's eyes were shinning as bright as Marinette's had been just a few minutes earlier. "This is a dream come true."
After a few short seconds, she made a face. "Oh no! Mari, this is your dream come true. I'm sorry, I made this about me and the Ladyblog. We can talk about that some other time. Right now, we're living out your fashion dream! You're actually going to watch Adrien walk down the runway! In his father's fashion line! In person!"
"You know I've seen him walk before, right? Marinette laughed. "We go to school together!"
Unfortunately, Adrien wasn't able to hear the rest of the conversation since he had to get in line. That didn't stop him from wondering why watching him in particular was such am exciting thing though. Especially since Alya and Nino had been going steady for years now, ever since collège.
He glanced at the two of them as he walked by them briefly, hoping no one caught it on camera. Both girls seemed excited and supportive of him, wearing big smiles and even pumping their fists in the air. There was a slight blush on Marinette's cheeks, but it was a bit hot in the room. Though, that could've just been him, considering the hot lights were blaring down on him and his way-too-tight black, leather pantsuit. He'd complained to his father about it, but of course he wouldn't hear it.
"You need a better excuse than that, Adrien," he had said. But the truth that the garment was way too similar to Chat Noir's outfit wouldn't do. One, he couldn't admit to his father that he was Chat Noir. That would put him in way too much danger with Hawk Moth. And two, the theme was Ladybug and Chat Noir. There was no way he was getting out of it.
At least his next two outfits were Ladybug themed and his last one, despite being Chat Noir inspired, was less of a leather pantsuit and more of a casual dress look with black, ripped denim jeans, a dark green V-neck, and a white beret.
"That was awesome!" Alya exclaimed after the show was finally over. "Adrien, you looked really great up there!"
"Thanks!" He rubbed the back of his head, trying not to blush. Most of the comments he received regarding the runway either involved sharp criticisms or embarrassing innuendos. He turned to Marinette, about to thank her for coming when the words just disappeared in his mouth.
She was smirking, eyeing the leather jumpsuit from his first walk.
"I think these gold accenting lines would look much better green," she said. Her eyes seemed to be asking him a question that he couldn't understand.
"Uh, well…" But he wasn't able to finish.
"That would look so Chat Noir!" Alya exclaimed. "I love it! Just needs a little bell, right here," she pointed at the collar, laughing. "Chat Noir wished he could be so stylish."
Marinette laughed too. Adrien grinned, unsure what to say.
"Speaking of! Did you know how we got our tickets?" Alya asked with a knowing smile. "It was Chat Noir! Apparently, our little Mari helped him a while ago and he thanked her with these tickets! I looked the price up online. He's got to be loaded."
"Alya!" Marinette tutted. "Don't talk about the prices, that's rude."
Adrien shrugged. "I mean, they are really expensive, but I don't have any say in the matter unfortunately."
Rolling her eyes, Alya continued, "That wasn't the point, Mari. The point was that Chat Noir gave you these tickets. Maybe Adrien actually knows the person behind the mask! Well, of course you don't know who exactly Chat Noir is, because if you did, obviously you'd tell your friend, Alya, but you might know the person without actually knowing the person! You know?"
Adrien blinked. "Um. What?"
Alya sighed and began trying to explain her idea again. Adrien had understood perfectly well the first time, but he had not been planning on having to avoid identity questions. It always took so much of an effort to keep up the façade, especially when he already had to keep some semblance of his model impression intact as well.
"Uh, I guess?" he said, after Alya finished a way longer and much more complicated explanation. "But, I really have no idea who it could be. Most of the people associated with runway shows like this are girls. Or old." And none of the guys have blonde hair except for me. None of them would be the right age except for me. But he kept those last thoughts to himself.
With a dramatic sigh, Alya flopped down into Adrien's chair. He refrained from telling her that his bare ass had touched the seat more times than he could count.
"I'll never figure out their identities," she said theatrically. "Oh, woe is me!"
Marinette laughed, rolling her eyes at her friend's antics. She laughed louder when Alya had quickly jumped up, realizing she didn't have service and couldn't check her online sources for if Ladybug had shown up anywhere.
"You checked it before the show!" Marinette reminded her, as she scrambled to go back to the front for a few minutes.
"Which was over an hour ago!" was the hurried reply.
Marinette just shook her head. When she turned back to Adrien, he could see a question in her eye, even though she didn't ask him anything.
"You know, I think you might make a good Chat Noir," she said quietly.
He tried not to choke on his water. His bad luck always gave him just the most perfect timing.
"Alya tried to tell me that once, can you believe?" She rolled her eyes again. "It was back in collège. I couldn't see it then. But," looking back at the leather suit, she said, "I don't know. Maybe I can now."
Adrien looked at the suit again too. That damned thing is almost blowing his cover. If Ladybug knew any of this was happening, she'd probably have his claws for being so careless. Though, if anyone had to find out, other than Nino, he'd want it to be Marinette. She might have a terrible stutter at times and be mighty shy, but she would never share such a secret. Even with Alya. (He thinks.) If Ladybug knew her, and apparently, she does somehow, maybe she wouldn't completely have Chat's claws for being a bit careless with his identity.
"Would that be bad?" he asked quietly. "If I was Chat Noir?"
"Bad?" Marinette repeated with a frown. "He might be completely reckless, but Chat Noir is one of the kindest and most selfless human beings on this planet. Whoever is behind the mask is amazing and thoughtful and one of the best people in the world. Probably better than Ladybug herself."
Before he could protest her last remark, she turned to him and smiled. It was soft and threw him completely off kilter. He'd seen that smile more times than he can count now.
"I think it would be amazing, if you were Chat Noir," she said quietly. "You're pretty amazing, Adrien. Adding superhero to your list of talents? Well, I wouldn't be surprised."
He stomach flipflopped again. But just then, Alya showed up, banging Adrien's dressing room door open and waving her phone drastically.
"Mari! Adrien! There's been an Akuma attack!" she yelled over the roar of people, yelling and running in the hallway behind her.
"What!?" they shouted at the same time.
"Right outside! We need to leave now!"
Leaving his private dressing room meant having to go into the hallway, where people were cramming themselves to leave the building via the backdoor. Alya already had been swept by the crowd, barely managing to warn him and Marinette. At least no one tried to enter his dressing room.
Without speaking, they looked at each other, nodded, and took a deep breath before plunging into the crowd.
Almost immediately, they were separated, which meant Adrien was able to easily slip away into an empty room and transform, but he couldn't stop worrying about his friends. Did they make it out? Is Alya trying to get the Akuma on her phone? Will Marinette be in danger if she's with her friend? Will she be in more danger if she's by herself?
It didn't take long to get to the roof, where he could see the destruction of the Akuma for himself. The streets were half-full of people running away and half-full of people in animal-like outfits, running around and screaming whatever sound their animal make.
It was such a bizarre scene that Adrien didn't even see the Akuma at first. But then, a woman in a white pantsuit covered with animals and standing on a giant ostrich entered his vision. She had a wand of some sort, that kind of looked like a giant pen.
"My designs weren't good enough, Gabriel?" the Akuma shouted. "Well how's this for awful?"
Not even as Chat Noir could Adrien get to his father in time. The purple blast from her pen-wand landed square in Gabriel's chest, and when the color dispersed, he wore a very chicken-inspired suit.
"What is—?" But then the suit's chicken head, which was in the middle of his chest, squawked. It squawked. Then, his arms, covered in brown feather, began flapping and his legs started moving on their own accord.
"No one talks to Fashion Disaster like that!"
"What a strange name," Ladybug said, landing elegantly. "Let's stop her quickly, Chat, I'm supposed to be grabbing ice cream with some friends."
Still reeling from what he just saw, he didn't think before he said, "Yeah, me too."
Ladybug looked at him in surprise before she smirked. It looked so familiar, but he couldn't place it.
"Alright then, let's go."
"That was easier than normal." Ladybug frowned, staring at the swarm of red butterflies fixing the Akuma's damages.
"Maybe we're just getting better at it," Chat replied, winking.
With a laugh, she grabbed his hand, pulling him closer to her body. "Maybe. Chat, I've been thinking. Maybe we should finally tell each other—"
"There they are!"
"Ladybug! Chat Noir!"
Chat groaned. Ever since they made their relationship public, the press has been hounding them more than ever before. "Uh oh, my Lady, hold that thought. It looks like we need to bug on out of here."
Ladybug rolled her eyes at the pun. "Perfect timing," she muttered before pressing a soft kiss to his cheek and yo-yoing herself away.
Chat followed quickly, using his baton to fly over the press' heads and into a secured alleyway. But, of course, he ended up being ten blocks further from the ice cream parlor than the fashion show was. And he was still in his last outfit.
"It suits you," Plagg said. "Plus, it gives you a bad boy vibe. I hear the ladies dig a bad boy."
"Not now, Plagg," he groaned, running to the parlor. "I'm gonna be so late!"
"There was an Akuma attack," Plagg pointed out. "Technically everyone is going to be late."
By the time he got there, Mari, Nino, and Alya already had their ice cream.
"S-Sorry I'm late," he gasped. "The crowd took me all the way too—"
"Don't worry about it," Alya said, waving her hand. "Just get in there and get some ice cream. We've got a lot to talk about!"
He raised his eyebrow, looking towards Nino and Mari, but both shrugged their shoulders.
"Don't look at me, man, she's been saying that since we arrived," Nino said.
Since we arrived. Adrien mulled that over as he went inside. Did that mean since Nino and Alya arrived? Or since Nino, Alya, and Marinette arrived? He remembered the look Mari had given him. The smile on Ladybug's face. Could it be…?
He stepped outside to Mari frantically wiping off a man's suit, apologizing over and over again for the accident.
"That's our clumsy, girl," Alya said to him, rolling her eyes. "She can't go a day without getting into or causing an accident."
The man tore himself away from Mari's hands and rushed off, though not before muttering, "Psycho bitch," under his breath.
"Hey! Shut your mouth!" Adrien had called after him before his brain caught up with his lips.
Mari was almost in tears. "I didn't see him, I seriously didn't."
Adrien looked at remains of an ice cream cone on the ground. "It's okay, Marinette, he was a jerk. Come on, I'll buy you another cone."
"No, you don't have to do that," she protested, following him inside.
She was definitely smart, but Alya had a point: Marinette was one of the clumsiest people he'd ever met. She was also the sweetest, bravest, kindest, and most protective people too, all qualities of his lady, but Mari was just a tad too accident-prone to actually be my Lady.
"Seriously, you didn't have to do this," she said quietly.
He threw his arm around her shoulder and squeezed her closer to him in an awkward side-hug. With a light laugh, he said, "What else are friends for, if not to buy you ice cream when you drop it?"
A blush tinted her cheeks and she ducked away, smiling. "You're right."
They sat down around the tiny table and Alya immediately started talking a mile a minute.
"Guys, this is big! But I'm going to need your help. It'll be hard, but together we can do it! We can do anything. But we'll have to keep it on the down low. Can't have anyone else knowing about this, okay?"
"Alya," Mari said as soon as the girl paused to take a breath. "What on earth are you talking about?"
"Chat Noir!" she whispered, her eyes wide. "We can figure out who he is!"
Adrien shifted in his seat. "I don't think that's a good idea, Alya."
She snorted. "You're right, cuz it's a great idea! Somehow, he knows Mari and somehow you know him! How else could he have gotten those tickets?"
"Uh. Online?" he offered.
But Alya was shaking her head. "Backstage passes weren't offered online this time, I checked. Something about security protocol since it was a Ladybug and Chat Noir themed show. The only way Chat Noir could've gotten it is if he was part of the show somehow!"
"Alya, even if that's the case, we should let Chat's secret identity stay just that. Secret," Mari said.
"You both aren't any fun," she hmphed. "You agree with me, right, Nino?"
Nino cleared his throat, looking nervous. "Babe, I…I actually agree with Mari and Adrien… This is a bad idea."
Alya looked crestfallen. "Why don't you guys want to know who he is? Wait, Mari, do you already know who he is?"
"W-What? Me? No! W-Why would even you ask that!"
She pointed at Adrien, who stiffened. "Because Chat Noir gave you the tickets to the show. Duh!"
Mari took a deep breath. "No, Alya, I don't know who's behind Chat's mask. And I don't think civilians should know. It can put us in danger, thus putting him in danger."
Crossing her arms, Alya muttered. "I wouldn't tell anyone."
"Not even the Ladyblog?" Adrien asked.
Alya glared at him, but it melted within second. She sighed. "Well, there go my plans for the evening."
Nino grabbed her hand brought it to his lips for a kiss. He didn't let go.
"How was the show, Adrien?" he asked after a few moments of silence.
"Hectic as always." He grimaced, remembering when one of the assistants accidentally poked him with a needle. "But how was it from the audience point of view?"
"Wonderful!" Mari breathed, her eyes lighting up. "Nino, you should've seen it! Oh, I have so many ideas!"
Adrien watched her talk animatedly, waving her arms and even standing up a few times. She really did remind him of Ladybug.
Suddenly, he remembered her last words to him.
"Chat, I've been thinking. Maybe we should finally tell each other—"
Was she going to say our identities? Adrien tried to focus on the conversation at hand, which had now shifted to universities, and even Alya was talking in this one, but he couldn't keep up with it. His brain was stuck on Ladybug, her words rolling over and over again in his head. The way she had looked at him, the way she had smiled…
The next time he saw her, were they going to reveal themselves?
Tonight. It was going to happen tonight. Maybe. Hopefully. Potentially. Tonight.
Adrien couldn't concentrate in any of his classes the whole day. He kept trying to figure out who could be behind the mask. During first period, he thought back to Marinette and her smiles, but when he watched her skid into second period, which they shared, and nearly faceplant into their teacher, he shook the idea from his mind.
(But she had to suspect him. Maybe. A lot happened during the fashion show, both before and after the Akuma attack. He could've just imagined the coy glint in her eyes when she had talked about his black pantsuit, but the way she acted when he, as Chat Noir, gave her the tickets… She was friends with Ladybug, could she have told her something? Because something was there. He just didn't know what.)
The rest of second period, he tried to put another face for Ladybug's, but almost all the girls looked a bit like Marinette, or Kagami, who he hadn't thought about in years, so he gave up trying to find a face. Instead, he imagined what they would do together.
Like going on dates. Actual dates. Without their masks.
And they could have nights in. With candles and roses and satin sheets…
He jumped when something tapped his shoulder. Marinette was looking at him apologetically.
"Sorry," she said, looking contrite. "But we're supposed to do this worksheet with a partner, and, well, we're together—I mean sitting." Clearing her throat, she repeated, "We're sitting together. So, we should do the worksheet. Together."
"Right." He smiled, forcing the imaginary Ladybug suit off Marinette in his mind's eye. They weren't the same person. Although, maybe they were cousins…Not the time, he reminded himself firmly, shaking his head. "Of course, Marinette, I'd be delighted to be your partner. Now…what are we supposed to do again?"
That worksheet was the only thing Adrien did in any of his classes. He'd have to ask for a copy of Nino's notes tomorrow. And Alya's. And Mari's. And Chloe's.
But it would all be worth it, to finally see who his Lady is behind the mask. And she should be arriving any moment now. He'd been so giddy for their patrol, that he skipped dinner to make sure he arrived on time.
Okay, an hour early.
An hour and a half.
"You're here early."
He whirled around, grinning and ran. "My Lady!" he cried, swinging his arms wide and laughing himself into the air.
They tumbled to the ground, laughing.
"Miss me, kitty?" she asked, looking up at him. Lifting a finger, she jingled his bell. "We saw each other last night."
"It wasn't enough," he purred, leaning down.
Ladybug gripped his hair and pulled him down faster. She tasted faintly of strawberries.
"I missed you to," she whispered when they finally pulled away.
Chat snuggled up to her side, resting his head on her chest.
"Let's stay like this. Patrol tomorrow."
She hummed and he was sure she was going to say no. Ladybug was the logical one, the practical one. She was going to say—
"Okay." Her fingers carded through his hair. "Just for a little while though."
He'd take what he could get. "Whatever you say, my Lady."
It was several more minutes before he remembered what he'd been thinking about all day.
"Yesterday, after we stopped Fashion Disaster, it sounded like you were going to ask me something."
Underneath him, she'd stiffened. "Um. Yeah, I, uh, I was."
He sat up, frowning. "Is everything okay, my Lady?"
"I think so." She sat up to, looking slightly distraught. "I know that…that I've said before we should keep our identities a secret…"
Chat held his breath. He'd been right! Ladybug was going to suggest they reveal themselves!
"But lately…" She fiddled with his tail. "Lately, I'm thinking…that I'd actually like to—"
A loud explosion interrupted her words.
Quickly, they scrambled to their feet and looked towards where the explosion sounded.
A giant Venus flytrap was walking around the city.
"Another Akuma?" Chat groaned. "Right meow?"
"Chat, that's not the Akuma," Ladybug said. She pointed right above it. "Look there."
Squinting, Chat could barely make out a green and pink clad girl, around their age or a little younger. She was standing on top of the plant.
"Wonder what pissed her off," he muttered as Ladybug shouted, "Come on, let's go!"
They arrived within minutes. The few people that had the misfortunate of being outside were trapped in a glob of an amber-colored substance.
"At least they haven't been eaten," he said wearily.
"No puns, chaton?" Ladybug teased, but her voice was slightly strained. She didn't look pleased at the interruption.
"I'm not really in the mood." All he'd wanted was a quiet night to be with his girlfriend and finally reveal themselves to each other.
"Oh, there you are." The akumatized girl looked down at them. "I am Attrape-Mouche. Give me your miraculouses."
"Like hell," Ladybug muttered. "What have you done to these people?"
Attrape-Mouche cocked her head. "Don't you know how my baby works?"
"Her baby?" Chat repeated, looking at Ladybug, who shrugged.
Patting the Venus flytrap on its head, Attrape-Mouche explained, "Lucille digests her food by releasing an enzyme to break it down. The more she eats, the stronger she'll get."
"Eats?" Chat looked around at the civilians trapped in the strange substance. As his horror rose, so did his bile.
The Akuma was also looking around at the civilians, but she was smiling. "No one will ever make fun of me for Lucille every again."
"So, you're going to let people be eaten?" Ladybug shouted, her fists clenched. "You'll team up with Hawkmoth just because some people don't like that you have a plant?"
Attrape-Mouche blinked. "Of course."
With an infuriated shout, Ladybug launched herself into the air. She would've reached Attrape-Mouche if the giant Venus flytrap hadn't swung one of its leaves, causing Ladybug to soar through the air in the opposite direction.
"My Lady!" Chat shouted, already running to catch her before she could splatter onto the pavement.
"Thanks, Chat," she gasped as she landed painfully in his arms.
The girl walked down the Venus flytrap, its leaves forming a makeshift flight of stairs.
"Distract the plant, I got the Akuma," Ladybug gritted, jumping out of his arms and readying her yo-yo.
He nodded, sharpening his claws. "Consider it shredded."
Attrape-Mouche's hand was outreached as she walked towards them. "Hawkmoth would really like your miraculous. Hand them over."
"It's got to be in her gloves," Chat said. "Good luck, my Lady. Not that you need it." With a wink, he dashed off, climbing up one of the buildings to avoid going right past the Akuma.
He wanted to look back, to make sure Ladybug was okay—he could already hear them fighting with each other—but he trusted her to get the Akuma. She could hold her own perfectly fine, but the citizens of Paris couldn't protect themselves from a giant Venus flytrap that would literally dissolve them.
And for a plant, it moved fast. It was already three blocks from them.
"Watch out!" he shouted, diving in front of a young couple walking with their newborn. He twirled his baton so the amber spit wouldn't land on the family. "Get out of here," he instructed. The family, as well, as everyone else on the block, began running.
The plant didn't even seem to notice him. It (she?) moved throughout the city, slobbering everywhere.
He had a feeling there would only be one way to stop her. Cataclysm. Now, if only he could get close enough to it…
Running on to rooftops, Chat was able to catch up with her, but not before she captured three more people.
"Hey ugly!" he shouted at it, giving himself an extra from the rooftops with his baton. He landed right on its head. "Perfect. CATA—shit!"
The plant shook its head, dislodging Chat. He barely managed to grab onto the flagpole, swinging himself around to help slow down his momentum.
"Well, that didn't work," he muttered, grateful the people had already begun clearing out. Of course, there were a few stragglers, taking photos of him and the creature.
"Where's Ladybug?" One of them shouted.
"Get out of here!" he responded.
The plant turned at the noise, a drop of its dissolving substance falling atop the straggler.
"Dammit," Chat gritted. "That's it. CATACLYSM!"
He felt the power of destruction enter into him, the dark smoke coming out of his claws. With a scream, he ran head first towards the plant. Three meters. One meter. Half a meter. Right—
One of the leaves collided with him, sending him flying into the nearest light pole. Ladybug wasn't there to break his fall and the pole was too close for him to shift his position to avoid hitting it head-on. Just as he realized this, he hit it head-on. Well, more like side-on.
"Fuck," he groaned, spitting out blood. That had to be a broken rib. Or two. Glancing down, he saw the familiar black, bubbling smoke around his hand. He breathed a sigh of relief.
This time, he made no sound, except for a pained grunt when he stood to his feet. Silently, he climbed up the nearest building and dashed past the rooftops. When he was directly above the plant, he jumped.
Using his hand, Chat was able to slid gracefully down the plant's body and onto the streets. It disappeared in a bubbling cloud of black and in its place was a black butterfly.
"Oh, shit." Quickly, he pressed the green pawprint on his baton. "Ladybug, the Akuma was in the plant!"
"That explains it," Ladybug's voice gritted in his ear. "I'm on my way. Don't lose it!"
Following a butterfly with some broken ribs and his miraculous about to beep within five minutes? Sure, piece of cake.
As he took off running once again, he gave a quick thanks to the upgraded communication system they'd been given. Talking to each other through earpieces, activated by pressing their weapons, was so much easier than using them as phones.
When he had two-and-a-half minutes left, Ladybug finally showed up.
"Distract her," she instructed, running past him. "Don't let her touch you!"
"Great," he muttered, getting into a defensive position.
Attrape-Mouche was only a few seconds behind Ladybug.
"You killed Lucille!" she shouted, her bare hands balled into a fist, aimed at his face.
He managed to duck in time, but before he could catch his breath, his ribs protesting in anguish, she swiped at his feet. And now she was above him, one hand gripped at his bell, the other one reeled back to punch him.
Red butterflies appeared, and Chat let his head fall back against the roof with a thud.
"W-What?" The now-unakumatized girl reeled back away from him, eyes wide. "What's going on?"
Ladybug appeared then.
"Ladybug! I…I don't know what's…I'm so sorry!" the girl sobbed and clutched a tiny plant in her hands. It was Lucille.
"It's okay," Ladybug said, kneeling down and patting her head. "I'll get you down off this rooftop, okay?"
She nodded and allowed herself to be carried by Ladybug. They jumped off the roof and disappeared.
Chat was going to transform within the minute, he knew, but he still couldn't move. Once again, he found himself hating that Ladybug's power could to restore everything back to its rightful place expect when it came to fixing bruises and cuts and broken bones. What a terrible deal.
"Chat? Why are you still down there?"
He glanced up, but Ladybug's face was obscured by the blurred lights.
"Taking a rest," he heaved.
She knelt beside him, his lips pulled down into a frown. Her touch was soft on his face.
"You're hurt," she whispered.
"I'm about to transform back," he said. "If you want to leave, I'll understand."
She looked around. "Do you think we can make it to—"
Green light flashed around them.
Adrien felt Plagg drop on his stomach.
"Cheese…" he moaned.
"Oh," Ladybug breathed out. "It's you."
Adrien arched an eyebrow. "You don't seem very surprised."
"I…I had some suspicions…" Her own miraculous beeped. "We need to get out of here."
She huffed, laughing slightly. "I'm not going to leave my boyfriend on this rooftop alone."
He couldn't help but smile at that. "Boyfriend," he repeated.
"We've been dating for a while now," she said, but her cheeks were red.
"Your boyfriend." He grinned, though it turned to a grimace when she helped him stand up.
Placing Plagg into his overshirt pocket, he nodded.
They yo-yoed off into the night.
Surprisingly, they landed on a familiar balcony, which was attached to a familiar bakery.
"What are we doing here?"
Ladybug smiled tensely before she was covered in a pink light. When it was gone, there was—
"Marinette?" Adrien breathed out, his mind reeling. "It's you?"
Out of the corner of his eye, he watched as a red creature sluggishly flew towards the hatch to Marinette's room, muttering something about cookies. He felt Plagg leave his pocket and follow after the red creature. But his brain didn't process a single microsecond of what he'd seen; he was still gaping at Marinette. His only thoughts were of her.
Her shoulders hunched inwards. "Um, yeah, it's me." She chuckled nervously. "Is that oka—aaahhh!"
They tumbled to the floor, Marinette having tripped over something Adrien hadn't seen. He landed painfully, somehow tangled up in Marinette's flailing limbs. Despite it, a giggle burst from him. And then another one. Soon, he was laughing heartedly, despite his ribs screaming at him.
"What's so funny?" Mari asked, crossing her arms. He didn't see her nervous expression.
"You," he answered. Then he saw her face. "Um. Wait. Why are you—?"
"Are you disappointed it's me?" she asked, not looking at him.
"No!" He sat up, grunting as the pain in his ribs flared. At least it got her to look at him. "No, I'm sorry. I think that all came out wrong." He grabbed her hands. "Mari, ever since yesterday, well, every since we got out miraculouses, but especially after yesterday, I've been trying to think about who could be behind Ladybug's mask. And the first person I ever thought about it being, and honestly, I kept thinking back to, was you."
She blinked and the ghost of a smile covered her lips. "Really?"
"Yeah," he breathed out. "You're both so kind and amazing. You're brave and strong and you've got the same hairstyles, and you both smile the same way, and it's honestly so dazzling, and when you start talking about things you like, you get this look in your eye—hmf!"
"Sorry!" she pulled back, her hands covering her mouth. "I'm sorry, I just… You were talking and it was so nice and I just wanted to—"
Adrien gently grabbed her hands and lowered them. "No, don't apologize. You just caught me by surprise, is all."
He licked his lips. She watched him.
"So…can I do it…again?"
He saw that dazzling grin one more time before she was pulling him closer, one hand in his hair, the other on his shoulder. Her lips were soft and she still tasted faintly of strawberries. He brought his own hands up to her cheek and her lower back, pulling her closer. She moved to straddle him. And, damn, yeah that was fantastic.
"Ow, shit," he muttered, when his side twitched.
Mari jerked backwards. "Are you okay? Oh no, of course you're not! You're hurt and I've been making it worse, like an idiot," she muttered to herself, shoving his overshirt off his shoulders and lifting up his shirt.
"You might have a better look of it if you're not sitting on me," he murmured, not really wanted her to leave, but also really wanting his side to stop hurting.
"Right." Biting her lip, she shifted her weight and sat by his side. When her fingers brushed his side, he hissed.
"Yeah, I think there's definitely a few cracked ribs here," she said. "Come on, let's go inside."
Grapping his overshirt, she opened the hatch to her bedroom all the way and disappeared inside. After a moment to catch his breath, and calm his thoughts, he followed her. She was rummaging through her first aid kit.
"Okay, get comfortable," she said, gesturing at her desk chair.
"Will your parents be okay with me being here?"
"Um… Let's not tell them…"
He chuckled, stopping when his ribs ached in protest.
"I wish you didn't get hurt so often," Mari whispered, rubbing some gel on his side.
"Better me than you."
She looked at him sharply. "My life isn't more important than yours."
"No…" He carefully lifted his arms so she could fully take off his shirt and wrap a bandage around him. "But you're the only one who can purify Akumas. Better me be out of commission than you."
She frowned, but didn't say any more. She didn't have to; it was an argument they'd had long before they started dating. They knew every rebuttal, refute, and refusal the other would have.
"You're very sneaky, Marinette," he said when she was done. He left his shirt off, not wanting to shimmy back into it.
"I know I am, but how do you mean?" she asked, smirking.
Gesturing at her vaguely, he said, "Well, now I understand how you and Ladybug know each other."
She laughed. "You were very insistent on getting that out of me. Well, Chat-you was."
"Do you ever feel like a different person? In and out of the mask."
"Kind of?" she looked away, frowning. "It's me, and I know it's me, but there are parts of me that are…more pronounced than usual, I suppose."
"Yeah, I feel the same way."
For a moment, silence fell. It wasn't awkward, but there was a tension to it. At least, to Adrien. There was a lot less kissing involved in this reveal. He wanted to rectify that.
He bit his lip. "I just want to let you know that…I still want to be your boyfriend. If you still want to be my girlfriend. I knew we kissed on the balcony, but I just wanted to say it alou—"
"Yes," she said breathlessly. Then, "I mean, I do. Still. You mean so much to me. As both Adrien and Chat. And I definitely want to still be your girlfriend. Chat and Adrien's girlfriend. As Ladybug and Mari—"
"Can I kiss you again?" he asked, cutting her off. It was rare for his Lady to ramble, though Marinette did it often. Either way, he wanted to taste her lips again.
Her cheeks flushed, but rather than answering, she took a few steps forward and leaned down.
The kiss wasn't any different from before. From the balcony, from when he didn't know who she was. Except it was completely, totally different. Somehow, it was better.
Maybe it was because there were finally no secrets between them and they still wanted each other. Maybe it was because as soon as his fingers carded through her hair, she sat down, straddling him. Maybe it was because of the way she wrapped her arms around his neck and rocked her hips without any suits to get in the way. Maybe it was—
"Mari? Sweetie, are you still up?"
"Shit, that's my mom!" she squeaked, suddenly across the room. "You gotta hide! Get in get in!"
And that's how he ended up hiding in the closet for about an hour, listening as Mrs. Cheng gently but firmly scolded her daughter on her terrible habits. Staying up late, barely finishing her homework, almost constantly late to school and other events.
He felt jealous. He didn't want to, but it bubbled up inside him.
Not only did Marinette have a family—two whole parents—who loved her and worried about her health and education and wanted the best for her, but, if he calculated it correctly, she also got at least five-and-a-half hours of sleep most weekdays. In order for him to keep up appearances, he was lucky to get four hours with a forty-five-ish-minute nap once, maybe twice a day whenever an Akuma hit or he and Ladybug had patrol. On the days where he was just a regular son-slash-student-slash-model-of-a-multi-millionaire, he managed to get about five hours.
"I love you, Marinette. Now go. to. sleep."
"Yes, I promise, mama." She even hung her head in shame.
When a few minutes had passed, Adrien poked his head out.
"Sorry you had to hear that," she said, covering her hands with her face.
"Sorry to be a terrible habit of yours," he replied. When she looked up at him confused, he quickly explained, "Our patrols. You stay up late and can barely finish homework because of them."
"Don't forget the Akumas," she said, chuckling softly.
He joined in. "Heh, yeah… To tell you the truth, I struggle with it all too. Balancing everything is so hard. I don't really know why I bother sometimes though. I don't think my father really notices…"
Shit, that just took a turn down Pity Lane, right across from Depressing Avenue.
"Do you wanna stay here tonight?" Marinette asked quietly, her question startingly him.
"You want me to…sleep over?" An image of him sharing Marinette's bed with her in it popped in his head. He couldn't get it out.
She shrugged, her cheeks flushed. "I mean, your ribs should take some time to rest and heal. And your house is so far away from mine. It just makes sense."
"Yeah, makes sense." His throat felt so dry. "So, where would I…?"
"In the bed. With me. If you want," she said shyly, her cheeks growing darker and darker by the second. "We are, you know, together. Boyfriend, girlfriend."
Adrien couldn't get his mouth to open. The ground could've swallowed him up, and he wouldn't have screamed. The image of him and Marinette, curled around his other sleeping in peaceful bliss was so vibrant in his mind's eye he almost fainted. His cheeks felt like they were on fire.
"Or not," she added quickly, apparently taking his silence for disapprovement. He couldn't have that.
"No, no! It's fine. It's… I would love… That would be…" He wasn't sure how to say it.
Giggling, she pressed against his side and gently bopped his nose. "Cat got your tongue, chaton?"
"N-No," he said, lying through his teeth.
She laughed, leaning up to give him a chaste kiss. "I'm going to change."
Grabbing her PJs, she left him standing dumbstruck in the middle of her room. Still shirtless.
"What the matter, kid?" Plagge asked, flying out from somewhere. A red kwami followed him. She must've been Ladybug's kwami. "You're all caught up on the Who's Who game. What's got your Camembert in a twist now?"
"It's so great to officially meet you, Adrien, I'm Tikki!" Ladybug's kwami said. "It's totally okay to be a little nervous after finding out who your Ladybug actually is, but there's no need to fret over your relationship. You two are soulmates! You're meant for each other."
"S-Soulmates?" he repeated. It felt right on his lips, but also so weird to voice. He wasn't sure of he truly believed in that two people were destined to be a couple by the universe or God or gods or whatever. All he knew was that he loved Ladybug—Marinette—more than he could ever say. More than his own life—and he's saved her life more times than he could count.
"My life isn't more important than yours," she'd told him earlier. The memory made him feel warm. Safe.
"Yeah, kid. Soulmates," Plagg agreed. "It's so rare for a Ladybug and Chat Noir not to be, and it looks like you two are just almost every other Ladybug we've had."
"Plagg," Tikki admonished. She turned to Adrien. "You two are unique in ways the other miraculous holders never were. You're Marinette and Adrien, and there's never been and never will be another pair like you two again. You mean a lot to her, both in and out of the mask."
"What are you guys talking about?" Marinette asked, stepping out of her bathroom. She wore pink sleep shorts and a polka-dotted spaghetti strap top.
He's seen her in it before, but everything felt different now that he knew and she knew and they knew and everything was clicking into its perfect place. He wanted to hold her and never let go. He also wanted to tear off her clothes and kiss every inch of her body.
"Just giving him a pep talk," Tikki chirped. "Now, off to bed, you two! You have school in a few hours."
School. Right… That means Adrien's going to have to get up early enough to sneak back into his room without Natalie discovering he hadn't slept there. Fuck.
"Do you normally sleep in your jeans," Marinette asked, crawling into her bed.
He looked down. "Er, no."
"You can take them off then," she giggled, though her eyes had darkened. "I don't like wearing jeans to bed."
He did as told, revealing his black and gold plaid boxers.
"Cute," she said. "Now, come on. I'm really tired." She patted the empty side of her bed.
He settled down, facing her.
"Can I kiss you goodnight?" he asked.
With a grin, she leaned forward, catching his mouth with hers. For several minutes, they kissed lazily, their legs intertwined and their hands roaming. Finally, Marinette pulled back and settled down by his side, her head resting on his chest.
"Goodnight," she whispered.
It was way too early when Plagg shook Adrien awake.
"Five more minutes," he mumbled, turning his face into his pillow. His pillow squirmed.
"Wha's happ'ning?" someone slurred.
Adrien looked up to see Marinette's dazed face. That's when everything came rushing back to him. He groaned.
"I have to go," he whispered. "Can't have Natalie knowing I didn't sleep at home."
"But you're warm," she groaned, pressing herself firmly against his side. He felt her bare stomach against his.
"I don't want to leave either."
She looked up at him, sleep in her eyes and her hair a mess. "Kiss me?"
She was the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen.
Though her morning breath left a bit to be desired, not that his was any better.
"Stay," she whispered, arching up into him. "Please."
"I can't." But, oh, how he wanted to.
He looked down, taking in the sight for as long as he could. He wanted to see this every day.
An idea popped into his head.
"Maybe, I can stay a little while…to thank you for last night," he said slowly.
"Last night?" she repeated.
Gently, he kissed her neck. "Yeah. And for that one time on the roof."
"The roof…" Her eyes looked at him with more clarity. "You want to—?"
"If you're okay with it," he said, echoing her words from that night.
"Yes," she breathed, lifting up her hips so he could slide her shorts down. "Yes."
She chanted that word like it was the only one she knew until she finally shouted a muffled Adrien! through her fist. He wanted nothing more than to stay there. To wrap himself around her and never let go. To kiss her until her breath evened out. Or until she was ready to do it again.
But he couldn't. Not yet anyway.
"Bye," he whispered, kissing her forehead. "See you soon."
She smiled, still breathing heavily. "Soon."
And then he was gone.
Adrien looked up at the voice, smiling. "Hey. You're here early."
"Yeah, I couldn't go back to sleep after you left." Her eyes glistening slyly, but she said nothing more on the subject. Gently, her fingers brushed against his side. "How are you feeling?"
"Better. I'm glad we heal quicker than would be normal."
The way she looked up at him, made Adrien want to swoop down and kiss her, but they were in public, and he wasn't sure how she would feel about him outing one of their secrets to the world.
He shouldn't have worried.
"Listen, I've been thinking…"
"I don't want to hide our relationship. At least not to Alya and Nino. And I don't want to see you, looking like that, and not being able to kiss you."
His smirk and teasing Looking like what? died on his lips. She wanted to kiss him. That would never, ever get old.
"Please, my Lady," he whispered. "Don't ever stop yourself from kissing me."
As their lips touched, he could hear the gasps around him turn into excited hollering. A few shouted "Finally!" while others just clapped and chanted their names.
The scene made him pull away quicker than he wanted to, but by Marinette's look, she clearly didn't want to give their audience too much of a show either.
"Girl, when did this happen?" Alya asked, marching up to them with her eyebrow raised and her grin wide.
"Dude!" Nino held his fist out for a bump.
"You guys have to spill everything at lunch, okay? Because we've all been waiting for this for a long time, and the fact I had nothing to do with this kiss makes me a bit disappointed actually," Alya said, but she nudged Marinette gently, indicating she actually wasn't disappointed whatsoever.
"Lunch," Marinette promised, her hand squeezing Adrien's.
The fact that he knew that she was reassuring herself and reassuring him and reminding him that they had to leave out the fact that they were Paris' masked superheroes all in one squeeze made him want to kiss her again.
If soulmates truly existed, they were certainly just that.
It started with a kiss.
It ended with a white gown and a black tux. Three kids and three cats. Twenty-nine fashion shows and four fashion lines. Seven grandchildren and eighteen great-grandchildren. Another kitten and a puppy. And finally, two headstones, laid side-by-side with fresh flowers every week.
But Adrien will never forget how it started.
With a kiss.