He wants to wear her clothes.
Immediately after thinking that, he winces, because damn if that doesn't sound supremely creepy. And yet there it is. His own assembly-line clothes that he wears everyday are his father’s, reducing him to a walking advertisement capitalized upon in every way. Elegant, aesthetically pleasing designs, to be sure. They wouldn’t be Agreste clothes if they were at all unsightly. But the clothes that prisoners wore had more love in them.
He and Nino had gotten some well-loved sweaters and jeans at a thrift store once and his father had burned them.
But her clothes were made by hand, and with love, he can see that. It was amazing to witness the process, once he'd first noticed it. To see her working on a design in her little sketchbook, scribbling out lines and creating variation upon variation until she seemed satisfied. Within a few days, she’d be sporting the new article of clothing, as well as lots of multi-colored bandages on her fingers. He looks at them, and wildly thinks that he wants to kiss them.
“What’s wrong with me?!” he thinks wildly one day after she comes in sporting a beautiful new dress, turning away from her to hide the blush on his face. That's something Chat Noir would, and could, do, not Adrien Agreste. But there's something about her that makes all of his standard operating procedures go on the fritz. Something that makes him frantically backpedal and fight to keep his normal, polite, boring self on the surface, because of course, and this is just his luck, the girl's completely terrified of him. The only time she seems able to even make eye contact with him is when he's Chat Noir.
But he watches her from the corner of his eye, smiling and laughing with Alya, running her fingers through her hair, holding some mundane object just so, and he almost hears whispers in his head. Pay attention, pay attention, you’re missing something, you’ve seen her before, she’s important, the most important.
She blushes bright red, like her dress, like his pounding heart, like a ladybug, and he quickly looks away.
Adrien loves. He loves so hard and so vividly that it aches like a phantom limb, because he loves but he must never let it be seen. Perhaps it is because he lives in a vacuum of love, that it’s all brought out of him so brightly and heart-racingly torturous. The scarf that he received for his birthday smells like salt from all the nights he’s curled up in his bed and clutched it, crying softly lest someone hear. He doesn’t dare wear it outside. What if he lost it?
That scarf is like a candle to him, or a single star in the night sky. Some pitiful evidence he clings to of something he couldn’t have lived much longer without.
Ladybug isn’t like that at all. She is vibrant and warm and she looks at him when she talks to him and she rolls her eyes at him and yet still smiles when she sees him. He can’t figure out how to act properly around her, but she doesn’t seem to care, simply rolling with the punches and keeping them on track. It was the most freeing experience he’d ever had.
When he thinks about it that way, of course he’d been doomed to fall for her from the very beginning.
Which then of course begs the question, why did his eyes keep sliding toward her, Marinette, she who raises up others? It's like staring at a riddle and knowing that you know the answer, you really do, but you can’t think of what it is. Like forgetting the words to your favorite song.
They both hum, Marinette and Ladybug, when they're distracted. They hum the same soft melodies. He wants to wear her clothes. He wants those hands to touch him, indirectly or not. He's Adrien Agreste. He’ll take what he can get.
Plagg teases him mercilessly, that he's in love with two different girls.
Sometimes, late at night, he wonders if that's true.