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Uncertainty

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It wasn’t unusual, in fact Adrien turned down various girls every week, but he hadn’t expected it from Marinette of all people. Then again, thinking about how nervous she always seemed around him it did make a lot of sense.

“I’m sorry, Marinette. It’s just that I already have someone that I like.” It was his standard answer for these things, and he feels terrible for using it. This isn’t just a random fangirl off the street, this is his classmate and friend.

“No, it’s ok.” She wouldn’t make eye contact with him. “I knew you didn’t like me like that, but I just needed to hear it to move on.” Her hands were trembling as they clutched the strap of her bag.

“Um. I gotta go.” Marinette’s usually soft voice wavered and cut off into a sob as she turned and ran down the hall.

Adrien could only watch her go, letting the girl get ahead of him so that she could calm down in private. He felt like an asshole, but he couldn’t just date whoever asked him to. Adrien was destined to be with Ladybug, he just knew it.

“Yikes, that’s going to be awkward tomorrow. About time though, that one’s been watching you from day one!”

Adrien scowled down at the kwami popping its head out of his bag. “Thanks Plagg, that makes me feel so much better.”

Plagg shrugged his tiny shoulders in a way that came across as “What else did you expect from me?” and made a face. “Not my fault you’re stuck on your own unrequited love. I keep telling you to move on, and that girl was a better candidate than the others I’ve seen confess to you.”

The kwami wasn’t wrong, but Adrien still held out hope that Ladybug would eventually come around. He’d been dawdling on his way out of the mostly empty school when he heard crying coming from the girls’ bathroom.

He winced, knowing that he was the cause, and was about to hurry away when he saw it. A black butterfly flitted past him and under the door to the bathroom.

No…” Adrien breathed out, horrified that he had caused Marinette so much distress that she had attracted an Akuma. And god, he didn’t want to have to fight her.

The thought that he might be able to trap the thing before it reached her entered his mind, and in the next moment he was racing into the girls’ bathroom.

Adrien looked around desperately, but she wasn’t by the sinks. His heart lurched as he heard the one-sided conversation coming from one of the stalls. He was too late.

“Make him love me?” Marinette’s voice sounded hesitant. “But… it wouldn’t be love if he didn’t have a choice.”

There was a pause as Hawkmoth replied, no doubt using his silky voice to convince her that he was doing her a favour. Finally, she spoke again. “No, I won’t do it because I love him!” Another pause, shorter this time. “Because I’m stronger than that, and I’m stronger than you!

A white butterfly tumbled over the door to the stall, flapping about awkwardly and almost looking disorientated before it flying away. Adrien followed it back out of the bathroom, but it was gone.

A low, impressed sounding whistle came from his bag.

“Wow, you sure you’re not interested in the girl?” Plagg was staring back where they came from.

Adrien was more concerned with what he’d just witnessed. “What just happened?” He followed the kwami’s gaze back to the bathroom where Marinette was still hiding.

“Like she said, the girl was stronger than Hawkmoth. Her heart was so pure that she cleansed the Akuma instead of being taken over by it. I haven’t seen anyone do that in… a good few hundred years.”

“Wow.” Was all Adrien could get out. It was kind of amazing, to think that someone with such a pure heart could love him so much…

It was the first time he’d ever been unsure if his love for Ladybug was as strong as he’d thought.

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Marinette had confessed on a Friday, meaning that Adrien wouldn’t see her again until school on Monday. He’d spent all of Saturday worrying about her, but he knew that she wouldn’t want to see him if he were to visit her home to check up on her.

That is, she wouldn’t want to see Adrien.

“Come on Plagg, we have no idea how absorbing all that negative energy could be affecting her. She might need our help!” The kwami wasn’t convinced, and so he stayed hiding.

“And how would you be able to help her, Mr. Bad Luck? We’re not exactly experts on purification.” He had Adrien there.

“Then I’ll call Ladybug if it looks like she needs help. Now come on, I’ll have a cheese platter brought up when we get home if you cooperate.” If there was one thing that never failed to entice his kwami, it was the promise of cheese.

One catch phrase and a flash of green light later, Chat Noir leapt out the window of the Agreste Manor and into the streets.

It was only once he’d arrived on Marinette’s balcony that Chat realised he probably should have thought up an excuse to be there. Instead, he pressed his face against the window and tried his best to look silly rather than creepy.

The girl in question was shoving a pile of papers into a box that really didn’t look like it could hold any more than it already was. When she looked up, having caught movement in the corner of her eye, she let out a high pitched squawking sound and fell backwards out of her chair. He winced in sympathy. That really wasn’t what he’d intended to happen.

Marinette scaled the ladder to her bed easily and practically flew up out of the hatch to meet him outside. Her face was pink, either with embarrassment or fury, and she did not look pleased to see him.

“What are you doing here, Chat Noir?” Her arms were crossed in a perfect display of defensive body language.

“I was bored…” she didn’t look impressed “and a bit lonely.” Chat Noir gave her his best kitten eyes and her expression softened. “And your house always smells amazing when I’m in the area, I’ve been meaning to stop by for a while now.”

Marinette sighed. She knew from conversations that they had when she was Ladybug that Chat was fairly isolated in his civilian life. “Oh alright.” She rolled her eyes as his face split into a wide grin before directing him to follow her down into her room. “But I’m not feeding you!”

He had been here before as Adrien when they had practiced for the gaming tournament, and it was still just as pink as ever.

“Just give me a minute, I want to get this sorted out first.” Chat Noir nodded absently as his attention was drawn to a stack of pictures on her desk. They were various photos of their classmates, and while he recognised some of the events, quite a few featured younger versions of Marinette and Alya. They were cute.

Marinette was still stuffing what he now realised were pictures and magazine clippings into the overstuffed box.

“Spring cleaning?” He asked, startling the girl enough that she dropped a few of the pictures. She huffed and started picking them up.

“Redecorating.” She corrected him, and he knelt down to help her. As Chat started picking up the pictures he realised that they were all of him. Magazine clippings, promotional posters, advertising, photos that had been released online, even candid photos from at school that often included other people, all the pictures had Adrien in them.

“Celebrity crush?” Chat tried to sound casual. “You have excellent taste, everyone knows that blondes are the most fun to be around.” He winked, hoping to keep the mood light.

Marinette frowned down at a photo of his smiling face before mumbling “Something like that.” and stuffing it into the box with the rest.

“Well who can blame you, he’s very good looking. That’s probably all he has though, those model types tend to be all pretty faces with nothing going on upstairs if you know what I mean.”

The girl fell back into her computer chair, suddenly looking exhausted as she accidentally jolted the mouse and caused her desktop background to appear. It was a collage of Adrien’s modelling pictures.

“He does have a pretty face.” She sighed. “But you’re right, he’s as thick as a brick.” Chat choked on air. He was trying to make her feel better about being rejected, but that was kind of mean.

“He’s in my class, you know. The first time I saw him I had this rush of inspiration. I spent a whole week in a mad frenzy of designing and sewing clothes all based on the colour of his eyes, it was incredible.” She sighed, eyes flicking to her wardrobe where the results of that inspiration probably still hung.

“And then we were partnered for this project and he was so nice I couldn’t believe it. It only took me two weeks to fall in love with him, and probably one more week after that for the rest of the class to notice. I spent two years hoping that he’d realise and say something.”

Chat Noir had never felt guiltier in his life. Had he really been so oblivious? Thinking back on it, Nino was always trying to get him to spend more time with Marinette. And both he and Alya would often ditch group meetings, resulting in Adrien and Marinette working together without the other half of their group. He closed his eyes in frustration. He really was as thick as a brick.

“But,” Marinette continued as she changed her desktop to a photo of Alya and herself at the beach from their last summer vacation. “It’s ok. I can finally move on.” She got up and gave the pictures of Adrien a final shove so that she could close the box, then taped it closed with a sense of finality.

After that, the mood lightened considerably as Chat helped Marinette sort through her Adrien-free pictures and pin them to her walls. Each photo had a story, and he took great pleasure in listening to each. Even the ones that were recent enough that he had witnessed them were interesting to hear from her perspective.

They all varied in size, shape, and the number of people in them, but they were all group photos with at least two people. That is, until Marinette pulled out a print of Nathanael. It was bigger than the others, and looked brand new. She stuck it right in the middle where she’d been saving space for it and then traced the boy’s long hair with a finger, her lips quirking into a half smile.

Something about that rubbed Chat Noir the wrong way. He redirected his attention to the rest of the photos, and realised that Nathaniel showed up in them more frequently than anyone else other than her best friend Alya and Marinette herself.

“When you said you’re moving on…” Chat paused, frowning as Marinette turned to look at him innocently. “You can’t just make yourself fall in love with someone else, it doesn’t work like that.”

She huffed and turned back to the centre piece of the wall. “Of course, I know that. But Nathanael is very sweet, and he’s cute. Gorgeous eyes. I don’t think it’d be hard at all to fall for him once I finally forget about Adrien.”

That phrase, “forget about Adrien” made the hairs on the back of Chat’s neck stand up. “He became an akuma and kidnapped you!” he protested.

“Exactly. Even at his most evil, all he did was ask me on a date. And until I tried to steal his stylus it was incredibly romantic.”

“He locked us in a glass prison and left us on a sinking ship. So romantic.” Marinette scowled at Chat Noir, it wasn’t like him to hold a grudge with someone who was akumaized. He knew that they didn’t have control over themselves.

“Anyway,” She continued. “He must have liked me a lot back then, and he might still like me a little bit now.”

“So when you say “easy to fall in love with” you really mean “easy to get a date”.” He regretted saying it as soon as it left his mouth. He regretted it even more when he saw the disbelief on her face and the hurt in her eyes.

“What’s it to you anyway?” Marinette whispered harshly, trying not to yell and alarm her parents. “Why are you acting like this?”

Why was he acting like this?

Thankfully, they were interrupted my Marinette’s mother calling her down to help with a rush in the bakery. Still furious with Chat, she’d only glared at him before turning and ducking down the stairs without even saying goodbye. Chat Noir was about to leave when he spotted a stray picture of himself that had escaped the box by hiding half way under the desk.

He pulled down the picture of Nathanael and replaced it with his own smiling face. Feeling a little rebellious, Chat used her phone to take a picture of himself spread out seductively on her chaise lounge. Quickly, in case she came back up, he bluetoothed it to the computer and made it her desktop.

Chat Noir snickered to himself all the way home, but when he was lying in bed later that night he couldn’t help but think back over his day. Why on earth had the thought of Marinette falling in love with Nathanael made him lash out like that?

It was just that he didn’t like the idea of someone forgetting about him so easily right?

Right?

He wasn’t sure anymore.