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From Friends to Enemies

Chapter Text

 

Wednesday, 8:47 a.m.

Marinette just about jumped out of her skin as someone slammed the locker right next to hers. She looked up, shocked for a moment, before she saw who it was.

Adrien.

She'd been anticipating, well, something, but this was a bit much. He glared down at her, but she only smiled sweetly, fluttering her eyelashes in mock playfulness.

"Kabedon, Chat?" she whispered, an edge of malice floating in the sickeningly sweet tone she used. "That's a little forward…even for you." Marinette fanned her face before rolling her eyes and looking back in her locker.

She really was feeling quite warm. Whether the feeling was from embarrassment, dislike, or something else, she really couldn't say. Whatever that something was, though, Adrien was radiating it, and she felt her cheeks flush again, just like they did every time she was in his presence. This time, however, it wasn't because of a crush. At least, that's what she kept telling herself.

While Marinette went back to fiddling with the lock on her locker, Adrien only chuckled darkly, leaning his shoulder against the lockers and making a show of flipping his hair out of his eyes. His burning look never lowered from Marinette…and he was standing uncomfortably close. Marinette refused to meet his gaze, but she was having a harder time keeping herself from shaking. In an attempt to do so, she started lifting books out of and into her bookbag from the floor.

It wasn't working. Her fingers trembled, her breath was shakey…and the problem was only exacerbated when Adrien actually started to speak.

"Don't get your hopes up, Bugaboo," he replied in an equally low voice, leaning in close enough that Marinette could feel his breath on her hair. "I'm just putting on a little show for the locals."

At this, Marinette finally looked up to meet his eyes. At the contact, Adrien flicked his gaze to the side. Marinette mimicked him, seeing, among some of their other classmates and students, Alya and Nino talking with each other by the locker room door. Marinette's lip twitched before turning her stare back to Adrien. This time, though she wasn't quite able to control her quivering, she refused to lower her stare from his.

"And here I thought you had come without a mask," she whispered back.

Adrien's eyes narrowed. Marinette turned away, a twinge of guilt attacking her resolve to keep on the offensive. Rather than see his blush as a sign she should change tactics, she saw it as a sign of victory. Adrien's voice, however, was smooth and seemingly unaffected as it always was.

"I'm starting to think you never took me seriously, with or without the mask."

Adrien grabbed onto the door of her locker, effectively caging her into the small space.

He doesn't like you, Marinette, she reminded herself again, feeling the betraying heat in her cheeks, her ears, her neck… He doesn't like you…not like that. Not really.

It wasn't enough. When Marinette, bolstered temporarily by the mantra, turned to him, the further realization of their close proximity seemed to hit the pair of them simultaneously. They both seemed to immediately lose some of their edge in favor of staring at one another. Adrien was leaning down over her, his height causing her to look almost straight up at him. Taking a deep breath – and trying furiously to fight down the rising panic in her body – Marinette reached up and gently looped her fingers around Adrien's neck. He stiffened under her touch and she reveled in the small victory. In another quick movement, she pulled him down until he was low enough to whisper into his ear.

"Chat Noir was my best friend for three years," she spoke softly, trying to keep the tremor out of her voice. "You think I never took you seriously?" A deep breath. "I took everything you said to heart."

Adrien's breath hitched. Marinette couldn't breathe at the sound. His head tilted and her grip weakened when he pulled back, their noses almost touching. He leaned a little farther toward her, and she thought that maybe he would, that he was…

Snickering.

He was snickering.

Marinette, eyes widening from their half-closed position in preparation for some lip contact that never came, cursed herself for expecting anything. She looked up at the smug look on Adrien's face and scowled.

Jerk.

"Charming. But really, Purrincess, I have a question for you." Adrien purred, smile widening as he moved from leaning on the lockers to standing even closer. He brushed a thumb across her cheek, and somewhere in Marinette's mind, she reminded herself that he was doing this just to get under her skin…that this was Chat Noir, and what he had done, what she'd gone through the last few months was because of him.

And she hated him for his war tactics. She hated that they were working.

Oh, LAWS were they working.

"I thought I told you to stay away from me," she managed to eke out, finally dropping her hand and backing away as much as she could in the small space.

"You told Chat Noir to stay away from you."

Marinette side-glanced a flat look toward him.

"Don't pretend like you don't want to go to the arcade with me today," he continued, crossing his arms in front of his chest, as if he had already won a prize they were both vying for.

"I don't have to pretend," Marinette spat back, slamming her locker shut. Arcade? A date? Really…? She picked up a small parcel from her bookbag before closing and slinging the bag onto her back. Without a parting glance, Marinette started on her way past Adrien. Before she had made it a few steps toward the door, though, a hand on her upper arm caused her to halt suddenly.

"It's for Nino."

"What?" Marinette blinked up at Adrien. Adrien sighed, pursing his lips before sneaking a glance toward the couple by the door waiting for them.

"Nino wants to take Alya to the arcade today but doesn't feel comfortable being…alone with her yet. He wants to double. Asked me to ask you."

"Oh, how nice of him to think of a backup date for you!" Marinette fluttered her eyelashes at Adrien again. "He must have known Ladybug was already unavailable."

"Marinette."

"Adrien."

His name hadn't meant to come out so…intimate. Like a whisper. Like some type of "sweet nothing" spoken between lovers. But Marinette had thought so lovingly of just that name for so long…the full meaning of what it was and had been to her seemed to coat the word like a sticky syrup.

In short, that suddenly sultry tone in her voice at the sound of Adrien's name left both teens in a sudden hormonal, blushing mess.

And Marinette, while good at many things, had never been very good at keeping a level head. Or playing the "chill" card. So instead of facing her feelings at this point – or even admitting defeat, as she saw it – she gut-punched Adrien with her small parcel. With a small "oof!", his hands came to grab at her fisted impact, and she immediately distributed the box into his larger fingers.

"I made these for everyone," she stammered out somewhat hoarsely, refusing to meet his eyes, but noting with some sort of snide satisfaction the watering in them from her blow to his stomach. "It would look weird if I didn't give you yours."

Marinette didn't delay in her retreat this time.

Though she regretted giving Adrien his chocolates immediately.

She blushed every time he slowly – purposefully – ate one in front of her. All throughout the day. And yes, he made sure she was watching every. Single. Time.

She was going to kill him.

If she didn't die from this slow torture first.


Monday, 6:32 p.m.

"Pound it!"

The superduo smacked fists together, grinning.

This particular Akuma was, well, hilarious. The duo could barely keep from laughing as they chased casually up the street, holding on to each other to stop from bending over, incapacitated from the absolute hilarity of their situation. Hawkmoth, they had decided, was probably hoping this one would be captured immediately…it had to be embarrassing for him.

The man was a giant collection of balloons. He was large, couldn't move quicker than a balloon on a light breeze, and squeaked loudly with every step. His only power was making balloon animals, harmless balloon animals. They were huge, but the most "damage" they did was to occasionally cause a minor traffic jam.

The only reason it had taken them this long to defeat him was due to actually finding the Akuma; those were a lot of balloons to go through.

By the time they were done, they were both red-faced, tears streaming down their cheeks. They laid in the middle of the sidewalk where the battle had ended, pounding fists lazily, giggling uncontrollably.

"But, the squeaking!"

"I know, right? BAHAHA I couldn't move!"

"That was about the most threatening thing he had going for him!"

"The only reason I even took out my stick was to lean on it for support! Ha, I haven't laughed that hard in a long time."

Chat looked down at where Ladybug's and his own hand were resting after their celebratory gesture. He weighed the pros and cons of the choice he had before him: If he did touch her, a pro would be her being okay with it, and they live happily ever after.

The con? She would hurt him. Mostly likely in more ways than one.

As always, to Chat, the pros far outweighed the cons.

Without looking at her (in fact, pointedly looking away), he tentatively reached over and grabbed her hand. He felt her stiffen and he flinched automatically, but she didn't let go. Instead, she carefully held his hand back, relaxing a bit.

Before he could combust with tears of joy, he chanced a look over at his Lady.

Ladybug wasn't looking at him, but he could still see the expression on her face. Or, he would have been able to, if her face wasn't the same color as her suit. Suddenly she looked shocked. Standing abruptly, she let go of Chat and went for her yo-yo. Chat sensed her plan for escape. Before she got very far, he grabbed her hand again, pulling her close to him, and, before she could object, lifted them high into the air.

She sat stiffly on his leg, but Chat didn't loosen his grip around her.

"So, uh," he started, noticing, as he did, that she was now the one avoiding his eye contact. "Do you, um, want to explain what just happened?"

Ladybug didn't move for a moment. Then she spoke quietly to the ground, eyes half shut.

"No."

"My Lady-"

"No."

"But, I-"

"No."

Chat scowled. Ladybug didn't move a muscle and her face was still a flaming hot mess. Seeing it made Chat's face heat up as well, though he wasn't quite sure what exact emotion was peaking at this moment. But he had made headway for the first time in, well, forever, and he wasn't about to back down from this. (Pun intended…get it? Back down? 'Cause they're up high? Okay, sorry, not funny.)

"Ok," he said finally. "Don't talk. But can I say something before I put you down?"

And before you put me down.

She nodded slowly.

"I, uh…" Rapidly realizing what he was about to say, his mouth decided to object, throat and tongue drying up without warning.

Et tu, mouth?

He tried, futilely, to "ahem" his way out of his betraying body. No success, so he pressed on regardless.

"Ladybug, you're a smart girl." He cringed at how dumb that sounded. "You probably have figured this out, but maybe, well, at the same time, I don't think you have." He took a deep breath to steady his nerves. "I, uh, well I only flirt with you, you know that, right?"

Was that what he meant to say?

Cursing his now betraying brain, and feeling the heat rising more and more to his face, he pushed on as Ladybug shifted on him a bit.

"I love you, My Lady," he finally spat out. "I always have." Deep breath. "I always will."

Chat studied Ladybug's face for a reaction, and wasn't disappointed. She looked straight at him. He could see her balking at his words, her eyes caught in confusion, and suddenly he was worried. Chat swallowed, hard. He waited patiently, though…waited for an answer. Then, unexpectedly, she turned away.

"Chat, can you let me down now? I want to go home."

Chat was crushed. There was no answer here, and nothing to even build a hopeful thought or idea from. He had no inkling where he stood with her, other than about 200 feet in the air, give or take. He nodded his reply, though he didn't know if she was looking at him at all, having turned away himself, and started the descent. As soon as they landed, and he gently released her, Ladybug's hand was on her yo-yo, and he prepared to see the scene play out before him like it did in every nightmare he had with her: Ladybug running away from him.

To Chat's surprise, though, she hesitated. When she turned around, tears had welled in her eyes.

"I'm sorry, Chat," she whispered. "But I don't want this."

Ouch.

And with that she swung away, leaving Chat alone in the street.

So, pros and cons….

She hadn't backed away….

But she had hurt him. Badly.

Chapter Text

 

Wednesday, 4:26 p.m.

Alya couldn't tell if she regretted it or not. On the one hand, telling Nino to ask Adrien and Marinette along for the "date" made it a little less awkward for Alya to be alone with Nino. One the other hand, there was enough embarrassment from the pair tagging along with her and Nino to make it awkward for everyone in the entire arcade.

What happened with these two!? Alya wondered again to herself. She was watching as they stared daggers at each other in between hits while playing the arcade's version of Mecha Strike. Marinette wouldn't breathe a word of what had transpired between them to Alya; Nino got as much information out of Adrien.

Nino and Alya had abandoned their own game of dual-player Crossy Roads and stood gaping at the other two battling it out.

Marinette was clearly winning. Her face was in an uncharacteristically malicious grin. Adrien on the other hand looked like he was going to blow a fuse…or five. His model-handsome face was contorted into an angry grimace and he pounded on the buttons as hard as he could, willing with sheer force to beat the ladybug Mech on the screen. It was to no avail. As the cat Mech fell with finality to the battleground, Marinette whooped and danced around in mocking victory. Her ladybug Mech upgraded on the screen. At the same time, she matched the game's sound effects and jumped onto the controls of the large game console, showing off her muscles.

Alya and Nino rushed over to the pair. Nino grabbed Adrien's arms and pushed him away slightly from Marinette, squaring himself in Adrien's line of vision, trying to calm down the blond-haired fireball. Alya grabbed Marinette's arm and yanked her down, pulling her away as a worker was coming over to see what all the commotion was about.

"What is wrong with you, girl!?"


Marinette gazed thoughtfully at the screen of high scores in a room with the others, waiting for the current laser tag game to finish before the crew went in to play their own.

"I'd try to see things from your point of view," a voice whispered near her, "but I don't think I could stoop down to your level."

Marinette scowled. If she hadn't just received a sound tongue-lashing from Alya (and a few glares from Tikki) for her behavior earlier that day, she would have elbowed the boy behind her in the gut. She had managed a few "accidental" hits with her golf club in mini golf. And a few well-placed toes were able to trip up the cat-boy a few times that day. He had returned in kind, a few stray balls finding their way onto her skin painfully, while a sound shove when out of the line of sight from their friends landed her more than once sprawled on the ground. For now though, she and Adrien had just silently agreed to badger each other ruthlessly, albeit quietly.

"If you're going to be two-faced," she whispered sweetly, "at least make one of them pretty."

"I'm pretty sure you think both of my faces are pretty, Princess."

She barked out a laugh. "Let's just say that if laughter is the best medicine, your face must be curing the world."

Adrien leaned on the wall in front of Marinette, under the high-score monitor. His eyes fixed on her own, and she felt equal parts of her bolstered by his impertinence and shied away from his intensity. Despite their ongoing animosity toward each other, Marinette couldn't add truth to any of her insults of his face. It was, as she had nearly always believed it to be, perfect. As he casually stood ahead of her, she fought the impending flush starting to prick her cheeks mutinously. He was dressed ready for the next game, looking like some hot-shot anime hero brought to life. A chest and back plate was strapped around him with unlit lights in the most crucial spots, along with a headband for a helmet and hockey-player-esque shoulder pads. The laser gun itself fit the picture perfectly: oversized slightly, futuristic-looking, and held in his hand loosely. Marinette, though she hated herself for giving in, looked away from him and back up to the scoreboard, cursing her blushing cheeks.

It only got worse when she saw his lip curl from the corner of her eyes. He knew he looked gorgeous, and he knew that she knew it too.

Curses!

Marinette huffed and brought her own gun up to rest on her shoulder, turning away from him to watch Nino and Alya. Her expression softened some. They were really enjoying their time together. Guilt pricked at Marinette's conscience as she thought about the trouble she had caused earlier. She silently decided to try to take things down a notch with Adrien, at least with their friends there.

She didn't realize that a trickster cat would come into play, ruining her resolve.


It didn't take Adrien long to realize that Marinette was in this game to win it.

All of it. Number-one-on-the-score-board all of it.

Once he had come to that conclusion, he let his instincts take over. He was ready to not only thwart Bug-girl in her own mission, but he planned to take the prize for his own.

When did I become so vindictive?

He pushed the thought aside as they jostled slowly into the laser tag area for the 3rd time. Alya and Nino had given up playing with the pair after the 1st go, having been soundly beaten by the secret superheroes. The 2nd time around, he and Marinette had to play on a team against three others, who they squashed thoroughly. By the 3rd time, they were left alone. Apparently no one wanted to go against the players who had easily secured the top two spots on the FFA board and the top spot on the Team board. Adrien grinned to himself as he thought about it. He had beaten out Marinette for the top spot already. He was ready to do it again.

The area rang with loud electronic music. He knew Marinette liked to take the high areas, so he secretly stole into a back corner away from her perch. With the dark, the flashing lights, and the loud music, he knew his plan could be executed perfectly, as long as a little Kwami was in on the game he wanted to play.

"Plagg," Adrien spoke as loudly as he dared.

"Hmm..?"

A "groggy" Plagg poked his head out of Adrien's over shirt.

"We need to transform."

The Kwami eyed him suspiciously.

"You know, you shouldn't abuse the Miraculous powers like this. It really isn't acceptable."

Adrien just stared at him, lips pursed, brows furrowed. He knew that, but….

"But I see where you are going with this, and I am down."

That was all Adrien needed to hear. He looked around once more, making sure Marinette couldn't see what was about to happen.

"Ok, Plagg, transform me!"

The flash of green light lasted for only a moment, but Adrien felt so exposed. He shook off the feeling. They only had four minutes left in the game. He had to get going. He bent low, listening, and began to stalk around the gaming room. It wasn't even 10 seconds into his transformation, however, before he heard something behind him. Cat ears twitching, he slowly backed up against the wall, turning himself and his gun to where he had thought he detected movement.

The sound of his chest plate getting hit made Adrien jump like a cat in water.

His feet left the ground for a moment before he felt his tail being pulled harshly. Yelping, he landed hard on his butt before trying to scramble up into a more defensive position. She had him though. Another pull proved her position, another hard yank jarred him as he squeaked again. He slid onto his knees and quickly grabbed his tail, dropping his gun to his side. He turned around to see where Marinette had gone, only to be nose-to-nose with his assaulting assailant. She grabbed onto his bell to keep him there.

"Naughty kitty," Marinette breathed into his face, scaring him beyond what he would ever admit to. His hackles bristled. She was so close, and so ferocious looking, and so adorable-

NO, no, don't go down that roadNot again.

But….

His inner thoughts warred with each other for the brief moment Marinette held his gaze. Out of habit, a little bit of his flustered Chat self leaked out as his lady stared aggressively into his eyes. He tried not to melt under its intensity.

Not. Again.

He hadn't realized she had her laser gun pointed at his chest plate until it went off suddenly, making him jump….

….Right into her face.

They didn't move immediately, staring at each other with wide eyes. It was the single most awkward "kiss" in the history of anything, Adrien was sure, but it seemed as if neither of them could bring themselves to break the connection, nor to further it. The indecision lasted painfully long, the only thought running through Adrien's head was, "GAME OVER GAME OVER GAME OVER…."

"GAME OVER!" the speaker on the intercom yelled. Adrien pulled away and quickly hid behind a wall.

He was hiding just because he needed to de-transform, he told himself.

He told his now de-transformed self.

He gulped, hard, before shaking his head.

Marinette doesn't care about you, he reminded himself for the 43rd time that day. Don't fall into that trap again you stupid cat-

Marinette peered around the corner and up into his surely-mutinous-to-his-personal-feelings face. The same thought that ran through his mind earlier started up again, and no amount of fault-finding, cheesy one-liners, or quipped insults could drive it out. He was immobilized.

GAME OVER GAME OVER GAME OVER GAME OVER GAME OVER.

Marichat Laser Tag - My Bad X)

 

Chapter Text

From Friends to Enemies - Chapter 3

I love you, and it's killing me.

Monday

Marinette struggled against the tears pricking her eyes. The look in Chat's face when he realized he was faced with unrequited love crushed her heart. The look in Chat's face was a mirrored image of herself at the end of every day. She sniffled again, soaring through the air, hardly knowing where she was going. She didn't want to go home - the emotion fighting against her eyes would betray her immediately. Unable to suppress the teary pressure anymore, she landed roughly on a roof, tumbling from the impact. The bodily pain that pulsed through her as she struggled to pull herself up to lean against a low wall was nothing compared to the ache that throbbed in her heart. Chat had tried and failed with Ladybug (her, sure, but not really her), and it hurt her, seeing her trusted friend and partner hurting. The pain, however strong in itself, was immediately doubled inside of her when it melded with her own insecurities.

The fact staring at her was that Marinette had also failed with Adrien, and she wasn't even strong enough - like Chat was - to try in the first place.

The quiet sobs broke free at this thought. Marinette pulled into herself. She brought her knees up and pushed her forehead hard against them, wrapping her arms around her legs. There was no physical way to escape her pain this way, but the soft semblance of a hug allowed the tears inside to leak freely, unseen by the world.

It was a while before Marinette calmed down enough to even realize where she was. When she raised her head up and looked across the street, she groaned inwardly.

Adrien's house. She had brought herself to Adrien's house.

Marinette's whole body seemed to sighed deeply. Exhaustion - emotional rather than physical - took over and she closed her eyes, leaning her head against the low wall she had chosen to rest against.

It was only due to a deep internal need to repress everything and her superhero good luck that kept a startled gasp from escaping her when a flying cat-boy landed deftly in front of her. He crouched into his hard landing; though, she noticed, it didn't seem to put as much strain on his cat-like muscles as it had hers. He pulled up to his full height and for one piercingly tense moment, Marinette thought he had followed her here, that he was looking for her. But, as she watched apprehensively, he didn't move to turn around, didn't make any movement to indicate that he knew she was even there. Instead, he sniffed.

Marinette chanced a glance up at his head. It was bowed down. He looked…defeated. He sniffed again and Marinette realized her dear Chat was crying (dear Chat?). An irrepressible wince passed over her features when she remembered that he was crying because of her.

Had he really been that affected?

Marinette had no intention of changing her mind about what she had said or done - she really didn't want to go down that road with Chat, and she honestly did not think that her rejection would actually affect him the way it seemed to be. He was a flirt, she knew, and for all of Alya's talk about Chat Noir's real affection for Ladybug, Marinette had continually put the thought down. From the beginning she really had been trying not to let herself fall for a boy who could possibly break her heart. Adrien she could admire from afar; with Chat, she would be in constant contact with him (school was different). Now, though, seeing him so defeated, she didn't know what to think.

Chat tensed suddenly before starting to step backward. She held her breath. Ooohh goodness the awkwardness of him finding her here now, after he'd been standing there for so long, would turn the awkward amp to an 11. Right before his foot would have touched her, he bolted forward, leaping off the roof, sailing right through…Adrien's window.

Marinette blinked quickly for a moment before throwing herself flat against the roof of her current perch.

What the heck was Chat Noir doing in Adrien's house!?

A silly stroke of jealousy tickled her from the inside. It was dumb, she knew, but her eyes narrowed and she stared suspiciously as Chat stood in Adrien's empty, dark room. His back was still toward the windows, toward her, so Ladybug took a chance….and leapt. After attaching her yo-yo to a sturdy point on his roof, she lowered herself upside down until just her face reached the very top of the window and she was in optimal spy mode. Chat was still just standing there, a clawed hand covering his face. Her thoughts searched futilely for an explanation. She squinted her eyes for a moment while a flash of green light lit the room. Then she let out a chest-heaving gasp while simultaneously pressing her face ungraciously against the glass to make sure she was seeing what she thought her eyes were not actually seeing but what they must be seeing and what they saw was…Adri-

NO, NOT GOING DOWN THAT PATH IT CANNOT BE HAPPENING BUT HE IS RIGHT THERE WHAT - WHAT -.

The gasp had not stopped until Marinette started to feel lightheaded. Her chest heaved and she pressed her face so hard against the glass she was sure her cheeks were smooshed in the most unflattering way possible. But her eyes that saw what she couldn't believe she was seeing still saw the sight that she thought she would never see: Adrien was Chat Noir. Chat Noir was Adrien. A black swirl floated up by Adrien's face and he looked momentarily at it, as if conversing with it. His Kwami, she supposed. Adrien's Kwami. ADRIEN AGRESTE'S KWAMI.

SHE HAD PUSHED AWAY ADRIEN AGRESTE AND ALL OF HIS LOVE AND FLIRTATIONS AND –

Marinette physically snapped back (ignoring her face-print smudge mark on his window), remembering a cool cat "saving" her from the Evillustrator as Marinette once. She could picture him clearly in that moment still, could remember the words exactly. Why she could remember so clearly she wouldn't bring herself to say, but that disappointment had, at that time, played a part in her ability to retain this piece of information, she also wouldn't attempt to deny to herself.

Chat Noir had looked straight at her, ticking his list off his fingers.

"Damsels in distress, ladies in waiting…I've got a lot more saving to do, you can thank me later."

She hadn't been able to pull herself to roll her eyes then, somewhat shocked, but she had collected herself enough to scoff at the idea that she would need to thank him for telling him how to do his "job".

He had been just Chat Noir then, a superhero with a decent female fan-base (not that she had checked). But now he was Chat Noir and Adrien Agreste, and she knew from personal experience that he actually did have a rather large female fan-base connected to his civilian name.

Marinette felt sick to her stomach. Not everything connected, and she wasn't sure how to even feel right now, but she knew where she wanted to be, and that was anywhere but here at the moment.

qpqpqpqpqp

"Marinette, be reasonable," Tikki spoke in her sugary-sweet high voice. "You don't honestly think Adrien would give into all that, do you?"

Marinette wanted to tell her that, yes, she believed that Adrien would not want to get into anything even remotely like that…but she couldn't, not when Chat Noir's name was attached to it. No...Chat Noir was good too. But what he said...why... Ugh. She decided an honest answer would work best.

"I don't know, Tikki," she mumbled from under her blankets. "I don't know what to think anymore."

qpqpqpqpqp

"You OK?" Plagg floated on Adrien's left, touching a tiny limb to his shoulder. Adrien thought, from the tone of his voice, that Plagg already knew the answer, but was using the question more as a gesture to show that he did, actually, care. Adrien, still unable to speak, shook his head. Plagg sighed and sat on his shoulder.

"What are you going to do about school tomorrow?"

The question tugged at Adrien. He still hadn't said a word to Plagg, had only cried quietly since that moment with Ladybug, but the simple question jarred Adrien's heart. Why would he need to worry about school right now…?

Oh. Right. Marinette.

Ladybug.

He sighed, a groan escaping him as he reached up with both hands to his face and palmed the lingering tears out of his eyes. He flopped himself down face-first on his bed and groaned again.

He thought back on when he first realized Ladybug was Marinette. It was partially an accident, partially…not. The Animan Akuma had been chasing them - and Kim (well, really, mostly Kim) - across Paris. They had planned a trap for him and were waiting in the Dupain-Cheng bakery. Ladybug was talking about getting rid of their scent, and they were in a great-smelling bakery and it just seemed sort of natural to, well, sniff her. He expected her to smell good, but it was better than he could have imagined. She smelled like Chapstick and sweat and fabric and pencils and croissants and…and…Mr. and Mrs. Dupain-Cheng.

Oh. She was Marinette.

She was Marinette!

Adrien had been beyond excited, but couldn't show it, couldn't show how his friendship with Marinette was currently mixing with his adoration and love for Ladybug in a euphoric way. He was stuck in sweet adoration, about to float away…until he watched in horror as his lady jumped into a dinosaur's wide-open maw. As he pictured in his mind's eye the large jaws snapping shut around his lady love, Adrien was snapped back to his present situation. Another, even louder groan escaped him.

Wait.

Marinette…had a crush on him, right? Civilian him...

Suddenly Adrien felt like he was floating, hovering, being propelled by a force that would allow him to lift up to the clouds or plummet toward the ground. This…might…work…?

"Plagg…" he started tentatively, not wanting to voice the idea, not wanting to put himself out there one more time, but not wanting to miss this chance.

"Plagg, if I can…I-If she's really, you know, crushing on Adrien, I-I mean me…"

He got up suddenly and started pacing around.

"Do you think I might still have a chance?"

Plagg remained silent. Adrien was both annoyed and grateful. Plagg was feigning sleep again, all compassion he had shown earlier exhausted; Adrien knew he only had so much to give at one time. He appreciated deeply, though, that Plagg knowingly was building up his strength not just to transform again, but to comfort his boy again.

You know, just in case.

Adrien sighed.

"Alexa, play 'Rejected by Ladybug Again' playlist."

Adrien flopped on his bed again, this time staring at his ceiling, formulating all the ways he could try again to get in his lady's good graces, and maybe, just maybe, convince her that he wasn't so bad after all.

"Once upon a time, a few mistakes ago, I was in your sights, you got me alone, you fooound me…"

Chapter Text

From Friends to Enemies – Chapter Four

"Falling in love is like handing someone a gun pointed at your heart and hoping they don't pull the trigger."

-Anon.

Tuesday

Marinette knew that she needed to tell Chat – Adrien – that she had seen him transform. No big deal, right, just the guy she's been absolutely crushing on since nearly the first time she met him. Just the guy who had occupied almost every waking thought and subconscious dream she has had for the last long while. Just the guy that had held every possibility of making her the happiest person ever and she rejected.

NO I'M NOT FREAKING OUT WHY SHOULD I BE FREAKING OUT.

She decided that right when she arrived at school she would seek him out and confess. At least that was her plan. But it would only go one way – she had not wanted Chat to know before all of this, and now she most definitely did not want Adrien to find out about her being Ladybug. Let him continue to crush on Ladybug. She could take the heartbreak of him never loving her as Marinette over seeing the disappointed look on his face if he ever found out who Ladybug really was.

Yes, she'd tell him as Marinette, not as Ladybug, that she knew who he was. And then she could, you know, try to move on from there. She took it a breath and held it for a moment. The reflection staring back at her looked markedly uncertain. The "bluebell" eyes were still red and wide in shock from yesterday. Marinette wasn't sure if that look would ever go away, but she figured she'd have to suck it up and get to school, deer-in-the-headlights look or no.

Inhale…exhale.

"You're going to be fine, Marinette," Tikki whispered to the somber girl. She gave a tiny hug to her cheek. "Things are going to work out right, I promise!"

Marinette blew out the air she had been holding and offered a weak smile in return to her kind words. She really was grateful to her Kwami, more than just granting her superpowers. Tikki was an anchor to her at this ambiguous time, and she appreciated knowing that someone knew her, all parts of her, all imperfect parts of her, and still loved her completely. With one more deep breath, Marinette opened up her purse for Tikki to fly into, then started down her trap door.

It was a short trip to school, and Marinette felt all the inconvenience of the distance that day. There was not enough time to collect herself before she had to start actively searching for Chat – Adrien. But Chat – ADRIEN – was nowhere to be found. Marinette was having trouble concentrating on specific faces – she had to tell herself over and over again to look for the green eyes and blond hair without the mask. Breathing was suddenly becoming more difficult. Faces kept passing and she felt lost in the familiarity of them all. Maybe she should have stayed home today.

No, she thought to herself. I have to face this now.

With a deep breath, she made to push through the crowd, but her feet still felt heavy. She tried to breathe in again…tried to breathe…tried –

Abruptly her posture gave into her poor respirations and Marinette felt her body start to fold in on itself.

I NEED TO GET OUT OF HERE!

"Marinette!"

Was that Alya? Oh thank goodness!

"Good morning, Marin- Oh gosh, Marinette, what's wrong?"

It wasn't Alya. It was Adrien. Of course it was Adrien. And all she could do was stare.

The flow of kids pushed past them. Marinette rapidly began to feel smaller and smaller. Adrien towered over her – how had she never noticed that before? And he was close, closer than he had ever been before. She thought she could feel heat emanating from him. His hand gripped her shoulder. His eyes looked concerned. And all she could do was stare.

And lean closer. Or was that him? She couldn't feel her legs. Her body was warm as if in an all-encompassing blush. There were less people now, but she hardly noticed. What was happening? Was his face red too? She couldn't pull away from those eyes. She could hear a heart beating – felt it – was that hers? His hand was on the back of her head now…and she leaned back into it, looking up more to him. Was this actually happening? What exactly was happening? Was Adrien Agreste – was he – was he going to –

"Yo, Adrien!"

Nope. Nope, he wasn't.

qpqpqpqpqp

Adrien stood staring at Marinette, breathless. This was not exactly how he had planned to get back on her good side. The nervous excitement that made him feel like his body was abuzz with energy had done anything but dissipate when he had finally spotted her. He'd been waiting at the school all morning, patience almost giving way; he'd all but decided to leave, to go to her house and make sure she was alright, when she had stepped in through the doorway. Eagerness propelled him forward and he called out to her. He paused only when he had reached her. The look in her eyes… they were darting in every direction. She had looked absolutely terrified.

How he had gotten to this point, however, he still couldn't say. His hand had made it from her shoulder to the back of her head. She had leaned up to him. She was right there, and – and was she…willing? He couldn't think but started to close the gap, wanted to touch her face, heart beating too fast, her eyes were closing, and he started to close his own, and then –

"Yo, Adrien!"

WHAT THE CRAP, NINO!

For a moment, Adrien thought about just kissing Marinette anyway; she hadn't moved, she was still there, but her eyes were wide open now, staring at him again. Had the moment passed? Was that a moment? What was that – this? Whatever was happening – had happened – he was going to kill Nino for forcing it to end.

It was only out of respect to Marinette that he dropped his hand back down to her shoulder and took a small step back. He knew she could get embarrassed easily. (Boy, did he know that.) He broke the eye-contact finally to look at Nino as Nino hurried over to them. He saw that Alya was close behind. Now Adrien could feel the blush cross his cheeks. Alya's eyes were bearing into him, a knowing smile making those bespectacled eyes look like they had recently read through the contents of his soul and was about to question him about it.

Marinette shifted for the first time since he had come up to her and he looked down at her again, remembering the look she had had on her eyes before, well, all that. He placed his other hand on her shoulder; Marinette never pushed him away like Ladybug did…the irony was not lost on him, and he knew he took more liberties finding ways to break touch barriers with Marinette because of it. Adrien looked into her eyes and asked the same question he had earlier, only quieter this time.

"Marinette, what's wrong? Are you alright?"

Adrien didn't know what to think, what to do. She just stared at him. Granted, that behavior wasn't exactly abnormal for Marinette in general, but her eyes were usually more, well, focused.

"Hey, girl!"

Alya had moved up next to them. Her presence seemed to be the trigger Marinette needed. Adrien watched the focus come back into her eyes as she looked over to Alya. A small smile crossed her face for the first time and Adrien felt himself relax a little. He dropped his hands from her shoulders (reluctantly) and settled for a side-eyed glance at her – at the same time she did the same.

"Hey Alya!" she chirped back, a strain to her usual cheerful voice.

Alya and Nino glanced at each other.

"Hi, Alya," Adrien said, smiling. "Hey, Nino."

"Hey, dudes!" Nino started. "Uh, we're going to be late for class! And I know Alya and I could probably get away with it, but I don't think you guys have any more chances."

Adrien tried to ignore the penetrating eyes of one Alya, fearless blogger. He could see her looking suspiciously between him and Marinette.

Just how much of that did she see?
Adrien was suddenly very, very warm.

qpqpqpqpqp

-What just happened, girl!?

Marinette looked at the note from Alya. She sighed.

-I honestly have no idea.

Marinette didn't look at her friend's face. She didn't want to see the skepticism there. But, really, Marinette had no idea what to make of what she was now calling the "doorway scene".

-He was all over you!
-He was not all over me.
-ALL. OVER. YOU. If Chloe had seen you, she would have passed out
-Well, next time, let's make sure she's in the vicinity. ;)
-Is there going to be a next time!?

Marinette jumped when she heard her phone buzz. Then buzz again. She glanced up to make sure Ms. Bustier wasn't watching, then bent down and checked who the messages were from. An accusatory stare made its why from her eyes to the back of the head of the person sitting in front of her. The messages were from Adrien.

-Hey, Marinette! This is Adrien.
-Nino just gave me your number. Hope that's alright. :)

Marinette blinked. What is going on today!?

-Hey, Adrien! Uh, yeah, that's totally fine. :)

She looked down at him when she heard his phone buzz. He immediately looked down and started to answer back.

-I don't want to get in trouble for texting, but I just wanted to tell you…you look really pretty today.
-I hope that's OK for me to say.
-And are you sure you're alright? You looked sort of worried this morning.

Say whaaaaat…?

Marinette was at a loss at how to respond. A blush stole across her cheeks. At the same time, Alya slid her own note over to her.

-Oh my GOSH, Mari! Are you texting him right now!? You are, aren't you!?

Marinette actually rolled her eyes at this.

-Yeah, no big deal! :)

WHO WAS SHE KIDDING. THIS WAS ANYTHING BUT "NO BIG DEAL."

She actually felt the heat coming off of Alya's stare even while she was turned away. Time to text Adrien back.

-Wow, Adrien! Thanks for the compliment. Yeah, I think that's ok to say. And I'm ok. Just have a lot on my mind right now.
-Well, if there's anything I could do to, you know, help clear your mind, let me know!

Marinette flushed when she read the message.

-Oh gosh, that did not come out right, sorry! I wasn't thinking. I mean, I'd do whatever you needed me to, but that's not what I meant.
-OK, gosh, sorry, that made no sense either.
-I, uh, I'm here for you, Princess. :)

For all the blushing Marinette had just done, her face now did the opposite – she completely blanched. Adrien, she noted, shifted in his seat. Marinette wasn't sure what to think anymore. Did he know that she knew, or was he just being a flirt? Marinette had that sick feeling again, a growing, heavy rock in the pit of her stomach. Was she just another lady-in-waiting? Is that how he, Adrien, and he, Chat Noir, really saw her?

'Ladybug proved unfruitful, so now I'll try for Marinette, she's a lovesick fool of a girl. She won't say no.'

Marinette, the shy, stupid girl would be so much easier to get to than strong, brave Ladybug.

Adrien wouldn't do that, she told herself firmly. Chat wouldn't do that. He would never. Hurt. Me.

But….

She just had to know….

-Oh, gosh, Adrien! I really didn't take you for such a flirt. ;)
-Only for the special girls…. ;)

WHAT.

-Special girls? :)
-You know…just those pretty, talented girls.
-Particularly ones with big blue eyes. ;P

"WHAT!"

Her three friends jumped and Marinette realized too late that she had accidentally yelled that out loud instead of screaming it in her head.

"Marinette! Adrien!"

Marinette's head shot up. She had stood up from her seat, palms planted firmly on the desk, phone slamming on the desk. She looked at Ms. Bustier who was just short of glaring at her…and Adrien. Adrien was half standing, turned almost completely around in his seat, staring at her, something of a grimace on his face, phone in his hand.
"No phones in class! Please march yourselves to the principal's office!"

UUGGGHHH.

Marinette grabbed her things without a word and marched herself out of the classroom.

She tried, desperately, to block the tears fighting to leak from her eyes.

When she came to the stairs, though, she headed past the principal's office and straight for the front door.

She deliberately ignored the boy shouting her name.

Chapter Text

((NOTE: There may or may not be a – ahem – kissing scene at the end of this. Reader be aware…. (: ))

From Friends to Enemies – Chapter 5

"Tumblr Post:

If ur bored you could just kiss me or something, idk."

qpqpqpqpqp

Thursday

Adrien always loved going out onto the field for gym. Usually fencing was his go-to sport, but the pent-up energy from the previous days pressed on his skin uncomfortably, begging him to do something with more contact. It didn't matter that the field was a muddy mess from the downpour the night before (he chased out the memories from that storm). Football ((soccer))? No. Lacrosse? Nah. League rugby? Done.

It wasn't long before Adrien was able to get enough guys to play the smallest rugby game ever, despite the mud-ridden mess of green grass. (The term "rugby" was to be loosely interpreted into tackling each other while trying to get to the opposite end of the field with a rugby ball to "score".) Nino perhaps had to be coerced to play more than the others, but at least he came out somewhat willingly. Adrien was glad; even if Nino wasn't the most athletic of his classmates, he was his best friend, and he needed him there. That was probably the only reason Nino had agreed to this scheme in the first place.

The teams stood thus: Adrien, Nino, and Alix (she had insisted, and it made even teams, so why not?) versus Ivan, Kim, and Max. After a few strategy talks, they got into the game.

It was just the release Adrien had been looking for. Ivan and Kim were big enough opponents that Adrien had to keep on his toes. The inner cat in him mixed with his muscle memory from all the Akuma fights and patrols. He felt alive, and he found himself truly smiling for the first time in days. While the others slipped in the mud, he slid across it effortlessly. He had to make himself fall every so often to keep back any suspicions…and, well, it just felt good for an ultra-clean model who acted more as the trophy of his father than his actual son to just get a good smattering of dirt all over him. Natalie would lay into him later, but right now, he didn't care. It was the last class of the day, and he was going to enjoy every moment of it.

Most of the other classmates had gathered to watch the progress of the messy game. There wasn't much more the class could do in the murky stadium. Marinette was running – sprinting – around the track, but he didn't care. He didn't even notice. Every time she went around the track, he never noticed. Not even when she was working through her 3rd kilometer, he didn't care. Nope. That was definitely not a playing factor to him starting to, well, show off a bit. Definitely not.

It took all of the next ten minutes for the rest of players to realize that Adrien could probably play on his own team against them and still win. Inhibitions totally gone, his inner Chat Noir began leaping, jumping over others, and sliding gracefully around the field. After one particularly beautiful play, Adrien had earned himself not only a goal, but an applauding audience. The other five players laughed in humored exhaustion. Nino had completely given up and was hanging out with Alya who, Adrien then realized, had her phone out, recording him. With an eyebrow wiggle worthy of his alter-ego, Adrien grinned widely and posed with his guns. That's when he didn't notice Marinette watching him, and didn't reward himself with successfully catching her attention that he didn't want in the first place by continuing to pose, sometimes ridiculously, and sometimes in model-worthy positions. Nino and Alya were laughing and Alya hadn't put the phone down; the rest of the class was starting to laugh as well. Now only if….

When Adrien heard a scoff so pronounced that he could almost feel the eyeroll that accompanied it, he knew he had scored another goal.

His head snapped to Marinette. She flushed immediately but met his gaze. He sauntered over to her, his good mood completely unaffected by her moody demeaner.

"What's the matter, Mew-rinette?" he leered at her. "Jealous of my purr-fectly executed mew-ves?"

Marinette narrowed her eyes and she tried to frown…but one side of her lips twitched as if she was trying to hold back a smile. Adrien's heart skipped a beat and he leaned back from her a bit to a safe distance. For added security, he placed his hands on his hips. And for good measure, he posed slightly. Marinette actually smirked a bit at this before pursing her lips to hide it.

"Silly Kitty," she whispered, shaking her head. "I have to ask, though…" Marinette had raised her voice to a normal level now. She took a small step forward and suddenly Adrien was trying not to panic. NO, no, she was not allowed to break through his carefully placed boundaries. In one movement she laced her hands behind her back and leaned her head up to him. It would have been a sweet gesture if, you know, Adrien hadn't been scared out of his wits from her serious overstep of personal space boundaries.

"Just how many YouTube videos did you have to watch and practice before you got that move just right?"

Adrien blinked. Wait. Was she – was she being playful? There had to be an ulterior motive, right? RIGHT? Then she blinked up at him with those big bluebell eyes and he decided that he didn't care. If she was going to play, he would too.

"Watched, Purr-incess?" he sneered back, daring to lean just a little closer to her. "I make those videos."

"Oh, you must not have heard me properly," she said sweetly, tapping his chest with a finger. "I said YouTube, not stupidvideos.com."

An "Oooooo…" came from the crowd that they didn't know was still watching.

"Do you really think you could do any better?"

"Oh, are you asking me," she pointed the finger that was on his chest at herself, "to show you what 'awesome' actually looks like?"

"Please," he purred, bowing low without breaking eye contact. "Be my guest."

Marinette immediately pulled away from him and turned around for a moment. He stared as she tied a knot at the bottom of her T-shirt and rolled her neck muscles around, then her shoulders. After a big breath she turned back around to him, hands on her hips, looking so much like Ladybug that all Adrien could do was blink stupidly at her. She took away one of her hands from her side and gestured with an exaggerated flourish to her shirt, wiggling her fingers. Adrien cocked his head to read the printed words that, he just noticed, were written upside-down:

THIS IS MY HAND STAND SHIRT.

Without any more prelude than this, Marinette lifted one leg up from her side effortlessly as anything until her straight-leg splits were perpendicular to the ground, her upper body almost parallel to it. Then, smiling, she completed the rotation, placing her hands on the ground and pulling her other leg up. Her legs criss-crossed in a showy floating pose for effect. Adrien grinned back at her, shaking his head, impressed in spite of himself. She brought her arms down as her legs came over her head and before he knew it her shirt read upside-down again, the wearer right-side-up in front of him.

Applause followed this, along with a "WHAT THE CRAP, MARI!" from Alya.

A whistle from Mr. D'argencourt sounded. Class – school – was over. Some students started the trek back to the school to get their books or other things. Everyone else stayed to see how the current events played out.

"Impressive," Adrien conceded. "But I think your, uh, cute little display would hardly be able to match what was going on out there." He gestured a thumb behind him to the field, wiggling his eyebrows again. All he got in response was a raised eyebrow before she was marching passed him.

"Pick your team, Agreste," she called back to him. "I'll be waiting. Alya! Alix! You in?"

"You know it, girl!"

"Oh we so got this, Mari!"

The sound of high-fives sounded behind Adrien, knocking him out of his stupor. Well, almost. His brain was still trying to process what she had said and really, the only picture he could concentrate on was the last game they had played, just yesterday…and that awkward…what? It wasn't really a kiss, right? Was it? Had he kissed Marinette? Oh gosh, what is going on? What constituted a kiss? Was it just when lips touch or was it something more? Did they kiss? Did he want to say that they had? Did he want to do it again? Did she? Had she told Alya? DID ALYA TELL NINO!? WHAT IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW ABORT ABORT ABORT-

"Hey, Agreste."

The blue eyes he had just been thinking about were on him now. Marinette's cheeks were flushed, as if she knew what he had been thinking. Adrien started to panic again.

CAN LADYBUGS READ MINDS?

Oh my gosh, Adrien, stop being an idiot.

Somehow all the ground he had gained in the last hour had dissipated to almost nothing. She seriously needed to scoot back. Like, right now.

He looked down at the rugby ball she had placed in his hands Oh, right. A game. He looked up at Marinette (well, not that far up, she was so much shorter than him) and scowled. He backed away warily from her before turning and running onto the field. He wasn't sure if he liked the smirk playing on her lips there. One part of him hated it. The other part of him, well….

I'm just gonna say that I kissed her. And the next time, I'll make sure I do it right.

The other two girls had already gotten into position. Alix and Alya were near midfield. Marinette was jogging to a spot in the very middle. Adrien watched her until he caught her eye, then he pointed the rugby ball from his chest back to Marinette. Marinette faked a shocked expression and pointed to herself, mouthing the word, "Me?"

Adrien grinned. He couldn't help it. Something inside his chest caught almost painfully, telling him that this was not something to get into. He ignored it. Again. Then he went to talk strategy with his team.

Nino obviously did not want to be there, but a certain girl he couldn't tell no had pushed him into his second rugby game of the day. He was spent, but a fired-up look sparked in his eyes. Adrien paired him against Alya, thinking that just maybe he had a big enough vendetta toward her to at least block any advances made by the red-haired sass-machine.

The obvious choice for Alix was Kim. While he knew that they had some sort of crush for each other – the feeling around them was palpable – their own competitive natures always, always, pushed to the forefront. They would be completely distracted with one another.

So that left Marinette to Adrien.

If he wasn't wrong, which he didn't think it was in this case, the girls had planned the same set up. Marinette stood at centerfield in a relaxed position, as if she could yawn at any moment. One hand rested on her hip, but not in an aggressive way. Adrien narrowed his eyes.

"Who's kicking off?" he yelled to her.

"We will. You can have the ball first. Deal?"

Adrien nodded in reply, tossing the ball to Marinette. She caught it at the last second in a strong grip. That confidence in her eyes was a little disarming; Adrien decided to move a little farther back than he had previous thought he would need to.

His hunch proved to be the right move. In a swift, perfectly-executed kick, the ball flew into a massive arc. Adrien's teammates were moving toward their opponents while Adrien went for the ball. He vaulted up, his legs coming into a slight cat-like crouch midair, and grabbed the ball. The thrill of the play electrified him and he broke into a dash downfield as soon as his feet hit the ground again. The others were giggling and fighting, having fun, but right now, to Adrien, this just became serious business. By the look on Marinette's face, he could tell she felt the same. Though her body still seemed to be in a lazy pose, he recognized the fire in her eyes. She was prepping for an attack, and he planned on giving it to her.

Really, he had really planned on doing that.

As the gap closed and she didn't move, didn't make any reaction to his barreling toward her, his confidence faltered momentarily. He decided to try to run past her a little farther away, and it appeared that she was going to do absolutely nothing about it. Adrien panicked when, at the last second, a leering expression stole across her face and she rushed him.

Adrien desperately wanted to pretend that he hadn't yelped. He defensively held the ball away from her, cradling it in both hands. Before he knew it, she had moved to be directly in front of him. Normally the sheer difference of body mass would have assured him a victory if he simply barreled over her. But she knew better. He couldn't stop his momentum, which, he was sure, she had been counting on. In one swift movement, like a scraper across a bowl, Marinette, using her head and hands at the same time, scooped through his woven hands and successfully pried the ball from his fingertips. Just to finish it off with a move he belived was completely unnecessary, she lifted herself up with vigor when his stomach slid over her back and his legs were just barely airborne. Involuntary midair somersault completed, Adrien landed flat on his back with a jolt.

COMPLETELY. UNNECESSARY.

He groaned.

"Oh my gosh!" Marinette almost screeched. "Adrien! Oh my gosh, Adrien I am SO SORRY! Are you alright!?"

She knelt down by him, fretting over him. Adrien noted with pride that she actually looked genuinely upset.
Now, Adrien was torn. He could let Marinette believe that what she had done hadn't really affected him, or he could make her stew in her own guilt. He chose the latter. Just so, you know, she would have to suffer with the consequences of her actions. Not because he could maybe be enjoying the attention she was giving him.

"Oh my cats, Marinette!" Alya had rushed over, followed by the rest of the students still there. Adrien squirmed a bit. Being fussed over by Marinette? Sure. Being fussed over by everyone else? Not as appealing. He started to get up before shaky hands were on him. Grabbing him. Hoisting him up. What was happening again?

"What're you –" Adrien tried to ask before Marinette finished pulling him up onto her back. She had wrapped her hands under his thighs and, after jumping with him to get him into a better position, immediately took off down the field, away from everyone else. Adrien wrapped his arms around her neck, eyes wide. For the 102nd time just that week he asked himself, WHAT IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW?

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Marinette had broken him, she was sure. What she had been thinking, she couldn't say. She was relying on muscle memory for everything else, and the only thing she could guess is that her fighting instincts had taken over too much. And now she had broken Adrien Agreste. His father was going to kill her. Paris was going to blow up because she wouldn't have her trusted partner to help her. She would end up giving away her Miraculous and Hawk Moth would take over the world and everyone would know it was her fault because she had flipperty flippin' flipped Adrien Agreste while playing "rugby" and had broken him.

He tightened his grip around her and she hurried faster. Tears stung her eyes again, but she didn't have time for that. She could hear the others shouting things like, "Put him down, Mari! He's fine!" or "Calm down, we can all figure this out!"

Or were those just her inner voices? Nah, they were a little too forgiving to be her own inner thoughts.

"Mari," Adrien said from behind her, but she ignored him. He would tell her to put him down, but she wasn't going to do that. She was going to fix this problem. She would –

An idea struck her and she straightened up and pulled him more securely to her. He sighed, and she figured he had given up trying to get her to release him. Good, she thought, then quickened her pace. She could fix this.

They were in the underbelly of the stadium seating now and Marinette searched everywhere for somewhere safe, somewhere secret. Beathroom? No. Concession stand? No. When she saw the open broom closet, she headed in that direction. There didn't seem to be anyone in the vicinity. Good. She slid the last six feet into the closet. She hastily set Adrien down and locked the closet before shutting the door. Turning around, she misjudged the distance and ran smack into Adrien. They both yelled out before sprawling all over the supplies in the closet. Marinette and Adrien were a mess of limbs. A painful mess of limbs. UGH! Of course she had to go and make his situation worse. She struggled to her feet. Was there a light here? Now where was the door? How did she already get so turned around already? She felt her cheeks get warm. Crrraaaaaap….

"Er…." was all she could get out.

Adrien laughed softly, sounding a little embarrassed. From the direction of his voice, he was still on the floor, but whether sitting or just lying there still, she couldn't tell. It was really just black in there.

"Eh, this is not what I m-meant to happen," she stammered. Stammered. Gall, she could pull her hair out.

"You know, Mari…" Adrien started, his tone sounding teasing.

"Don't you even dare," she warned.

"If you wanted to be alone –"

"Stop."

" – in the dark – "

"Seriously, I am regretting this."

" – with me – "

"Oh my heck, just stop."

" – all you had to do was ask." Adrien finished the last part of his sentence in a tone barely above a whisper. There was a tenderness there that Marinette could feel wash through her bones.

"I.…" she replied dumbly. Then she cleared her throat. Marinette couldn't see anything and wondered if Adrien could, cat-boy that he was. She didn't think he had moved – probably, like her, afraid of tripping over something in the dark. Again.

"I, uh, didn't think it would be so dark. In here. I-I just was trying to find a safe place to transform, so I could use my Miraculous-fix-everything spell thingy, and then you wouldn't be broken anymore, and then –"

Marinette paused. Blah. She didn't even have Tikki with her. This plan was doomed before it had even been poorly formed.

Adrien started actually laughing now. Marinette stopped at the sound.

"Marinette, I am not broken."

More warmth rushed into Marinette's cheeks and she was, for the first time, really glad it was so dark in this closet.

She took a deep breath to steady her nerves.

"I'm really sorry, Adrien. I really don't know what came over me."

"Mari, you are as much Ladybug with or without the mask. Marinette is who makes Ladybug. It's no wonder that a little bit of yourself comes out every once in a while."

Marinette balked at his words. He was comparing Ladybug to Marinette, not the other way around. He had seamlessly combined them. Her heart rate picked up slightly and she wrapped her arms around herself.

Oh wait, no she didn't.

Those were Adrien's arms. On her arms. Holding her there.

"Just…hold still for a moment, K?" he told her.

Mmhm, yeah, yeah, sure, no problem.

PROGRAM 'MARINETTE' HAS STOPPED RESPONDING.

Marinette felt him move away from her for a moment before the sound of the door lock clicked. Then the door was pushed open a crack, just enough to see the muddied mess of blond hair and green eyes and a soft smile and…and….
She melted into the sight of him. She wouldn't have admitted to it earlier, but all that dirt caked all over made him look better than he ever had before. How many laps had she run to try to ignore the sight of him out on that mess of a field? Apparently not enough.

"Marinette?"

"Mmmm?" was all she could eke out. Adrien reached up and scratched the back of his neck. He was nervous.

"I know we haven't exactly been on the uh, best of terms lately…"

"Uh huh," she responded dumbly.

"But, well, I, uh, could I, could we, um…."

He released a strained breath, looking down for a moment, hands going to his hips. Then he looked straight at her.

"Marinette, I want to kiss you, but I won't if you don't want me to."

Ehhh….what?

He wanted to what now!?

"Yes," she whispered.

"Um, yes, I can, or yes you don't want me to?"

Marinette closed her eyes in frustration, cursing her ill-formed responses.

"Just…stop talking."

Words weren't working, but she was pretty sure she was smiling stupidly, hoping that that was invitation enough. He took her advice and crossed to her in one swift step. His hands went to the back of her neck and she looked up into his eyes, seeing an energy there that seemed at once to make her stronger and to undo her all at once. He smelled like sweat, and mud, and cologne, and…something like leather. She touched his chest. He smiled softly, and suddenly his eyes were full of emotion. Marinette felt her own eyes prick with tears and she hoped her smile back looked markedly less idiotic than it felt. Regardless, he started to lean in to her and she closed her eyes….

….before the door swung open.

"OH MY GOSH, NINO! AGAIN!?"

Chapter Text

From Friends to Enemies – Chapter 6

"The prince fought valiantly. He slayed the dragon. The princess cried for days. She loved that dragon."

-caliginosity

Tuesday

Hawk Moth didn't have to wait long this morning until the easily-disrupted emotions of a teenager called him to his window. He could feel the unrest there, could sense the uncertainty of self. It was…perfect.

"Oh, love is such a fickle feeling. Go, my little Akuma, and evilize her!"

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Marinette couldn't breathe. She grabbed a hand to her chest, gripping her shirt as if she was trying to physically pull out her aching heart. The sobs escaped before she could stop them. Blinded by the tears, Marinette didn't see she had come to the top of the stairs. It took a moment for her to miss the first step and roll into a rough landing, sprawled across the sidewalk. There was no super suit to shield her from the hard ground this time, no cushion to the pain she now felt, inside and out. Wincing, Marinette didn't bother getting up; she shifted onto her side and just laid there and wept.

"Marinette?" Tikki had floated up to be next to Marinette's face. "Marinette, what happened? What's wrong?"

Maybe that was the problem. Marinette couldn't decide really what was wrong. It was everything, and yet, somehow it really, well, really wasn't that big of a deal. Was it?

Apparently sensing that Marinette was not going to divulge anything, Tikki relented her post floating above Marinette and gently laid herself down on her cheek, stroking the girl with a tiny limb.

"There, there, Marinette. Everything's going to be OK," Tikki soothed. "Everything is going to work ou-MARINETTE, GET UP!"

What!?

"GET UP! RUN, NOW! NOW!" The urgency in Tikki's voice physically pulled Marinette up off the ground. She stumbled backward and looked around for what was causing the Kawmi to panic so badly. And then she saw it: a blackish, purplish butterfly fluttering straight for her.

No…no, no, no, no, NO.

All Marinette could do was back up. What else could she do? The panic began to set in, metaphoric walls closing in. This was it, Hawk Moth would finally get her miraculous. She couldn't cure herself.

"Marinette, throw something at it! It just needs to touch an item, but then DON'T TOUCH IT."

Marinette didn't have to be told twice. She swung her bag off her shoulder and started pulling out everything, tossing them one by one and then in handfuls at the persistent butterfly, who was a true master of evasion. At the last moment, Marinette tripped into a shaky crouch, holding her bag in front of her as a shield.

"Marinette!" Tikki screamed again. "Let go, NOW!"

The bag fell from her hand…but not before a wave of something rippled through her body, settling in on her mind. A sound reminiscent of a reptilian screech rang in her ears, driving out everything else, making her forget about Tikki; simultaneously, her feelings of intense sadness and anger created a cacophonous symphony in her mind.

"Heartbreaker," a voice purred in her mind. Her muscles slacked slightly. "I am Hawk Moth. I can grant you the power to destroy the hearts of those who have dared to break your own bleeding heart. I only need you to do something for me: get me Ladybug and Chat Noir's jewels, their Miraculous!"

"I…" Marinette couldn't finish the thought. Her mind battled within itself, some part of her fighting this new feeling of being in control. She could show others what it felt like to have a broken heart! To feel betrayal!

It is not so bad as that! Snap out of it!

"Heartbreaker, pick up your bag again, and together, we will conquer love once and for all!"

Marinette tried to look down at her bag. Her vision was fuzzy, but she could make out a deep red, heart-shaped backpack where her pink one had once been. She reached out for it –

"MARINETTE, NO!"

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Adrien didn't know what else to do, so he pushed her, pushed her as far away from the bag as he could with one great shove, making sure to give the backpack itself a wide berth. Tikki looked at him for a moment before they both glanced at the bag and then back at Marinette. She was on the ground, shaking her head; Adrien noticed how roughed up she looked, like she had already been in a battle. Out of nowhere, a purple mask appeared in front of her face, Marinette again frozen in concentration.

GET OUT OF HER HEAD!

Adrien wasted no time. He hurriedly crouched down to her and grabbed her arms, pulling her up, forcing her to look at him.

"Fight this, Marinette!" he nearly begged. "You have to fight this! Fight him! Marinette, look at me – LOOK AT ME!"

That, finally, seemed to do the trick. Marinette snapped her attention straight into his eyes. Adrien physically shuddered at the empty expression looking back at him, but didn't look away. Instead, he followed wherever her gaze tried to wander. He cupped her face in his hands to hold it still.

"Marinette, I cannot fight this one for you – you have to do this. You need to break out of this. You can do this."

Adrien took in breath, unable to let it go, something choking inside of him.

"I believe in you, Marinette."

All at once, the line around her eyes vanished. Marinette's head jerked back and her whole body trembled. She gasped in air before grabbing at her head with both hands. Adrien had let go immediately but didn't dare move away from her. Her breaths rapidly started to come in short gasps, and Adrien recognized the start of panic attack. He grabbed her and pulled her into him, wrapping one arm tightly around her, the other stroking her hair.

"It's okay," he whispered to her, hoping it was at least somewhat consoling, fighting his own tremor in his voice. She just beat an Akuma on her own…he could be strong for her.

"It's going to be okay, Marinette."

Adrien winced as the trembling form of Marinette unanticipatedly screamed into his chest. He caught her when her legs seemed to give out under her, cradling her onto the ground. He never stopped holding her, but she didn't seem to care, maybe didn't even notice – she just cried out, over and over again. And he just held her there. He felt a few stray tears fall down his own cheeks.

How much of this had been his fault?

It was the question he didn't want to ask himself, but couldn't stop it from forming in his mind now. Silently, he laid his head on top of Marinette's and wrapped both arms more securely around her. Tikki floated up on the other side of Marinette to look at Adrien. The soft smile she gave him calmed his own nerves considerably.

Adrien had just been about to give up on chasing after Marinette when they were caught in the classroom and dutifully walk into the principal's office with the red Kwami had barreled into him. Panic was written all over her face; all she had to do was utter "Marinette" and he had shot off.

Oh, Marinette, he thought, closing his eyes for a moment. What have I done to you? Then in the same thought, What have you done to me?

"Thank you."

A scratchy whisper reached Adrien's ears. Then a deep shuddering breath.

"Thank you for saving me."

"Anytime, My Lady," Adrien responded quietly, releasing his own labored breath and closing his eyes.

Marinette stiffened noticeably. Adrien paused for a moment before he realized something...

"What did you just call me?"

Oh.

Oh shoot.

Chapter Text

From Friends to Enemies – Chapter 7

"No one can hate you with more intensity than someone who used to love you."

-Rick Riordan

Wednesday

Adrien, done up in his super suit, slid down the slope of the Eiffel tower. The storm had drenched everything. Normally he didn't come out into the rain, especially for Plagg's sake, but the tiny black Kwami had suggested it; Adrien was sure it was 100% because Plagg was sick of him talking about everything out loud and pacing around his room and 0% because he actually cared about what was on the boy's mind.

So Adrien had gone out to, well, play.

And play anything but laser tag.

Or Mecha Strike.

Or mini golf.

Adrien stumbled in his descent before shaking the distractions out of his head once again. His thoughts were no more well-formed than they had been earlier. It was like his inner mechanic had fallen asleep at the controls and all that was coming out was an error code.

Adrien shoved his stick into the side of the tower when he neared the bottom and flipped unto it. Before he could continue his course to the ground and then home, something moved behind him, immediately drawing his attention. He snapped his head around and nearly jumped out of his skin. Ladybug was standing on his baton right behind him.

Meep!

"I thought kitties didn't like the rain."

"Aw, Ladybug, I didn't know you cared."

Ladybug didn't respond, and Adrien was surprised by the lack of snark. Instead, she just stood there.

"Ladybug…." Adrien didn't know what he wanted to say. Okay, he had a grand, GRAND idea of a LOT of things that he WANTED to say, but he didn't know which one he should say, or start with, or anything. The rain dripped off her thick eyelashes, the lights off the Tower combined with the moisture making her eyes sparkle. There was still a hardness in her look, but it was more out of something bordering on determination rather than disapproval or anger. Something had been giving more on her side since the arcade that afternoon. He felt like there was just a slapdash fence keeping them apart now instead of a brick wall. And the way that she looked at him now…he felt his own fortifications start to slip.

"Will we ever be able to fix this?" he finally was able to ask.

Adrien could see it, the immediate crumbling of her defenses. There was a sadness that had been hidden there. With a jolt he heard again the heart-wrenching scream she had let loose yesterday ringing in his mind.

"I am two pieces of one person, Chat," she whispered, emotion clinging to each word like fire on grease, sticky, hot, and thick. "Two pieces that don't quite make a whole. Like you said before, you can't fix this for me." She sighed. "And I don't know if I can fix it either."

Adrien opened his mouth to reject her words, tell her she is perfect the way she is, but she put a hand up to his mouth.

"Adrien," her voice was even lower. "You deserve much, much more than a fixer-upper."

He was frozen there. All he could do was stare at her.

"Now come on, Kitty," she said, a fake smile full of surrender on her face. "I'll race you back to your house."

They were silent the whole trip, but the words that had gone unspoken created a palpable bubble around the two; it was something tender to the touch, ready to pop if punctured; but it completely engulfed them. As they reached the Agreste mansion, Adrien dove into his window before looking back out into the storm.

Ladybug stood there, a shadowy figure on the neighboring rooftop. Her posture was upright, strong, and, though wind and rain pushed against her, she seemed absolutely immovable.

And then she was gone.

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Tuesday

"What did you just call me?" Marinette asked.

She had come that day to share a confession…but now, it seemed as if Adrien might have one of his own.

"I…uh…."

Marinette pulled away from him. Her body immediately felt the loss of the added support and warmth he had lent her. She was sure she was a sight for sore eyes, but this definitely couldn't wait another moment to be addressed.

"Adrien," Marinette stood now. Small pains all over her begged her to sit back down, but she fought back the physical exhaustion. She took a deep breath and tried again. "Adrien, how long have you known?"

Adrien stood slowly. Marinette tried to force the guilt tinging her voice back to where it came from, but she couldn't fight it all the way. He had just saved her from an Akuma single-handedly, after all. She really owed him her life, and, on the same note, Paris had no idea how much they were indebted to him. Hawk Moth could have had her Miraculous by now. She shook her head, shook away the other thoughts. One thing at a time, she told herself.

"Adrien, you don't have to be afraid of me." Marinette stared up at his tall form. (The sentence seemed ridiculous from this angle, really.) "I know you're Chat Noir."

Adrien blinked for a moment before realization seemed to wash over him, eyes growing wide.

"I uh," Marinette tried to explain, but the words seemed to be strangled in her throat somewhere. "I saw you transform yesterday. In-In your house. I didn't mean to!" she hastily added. "I fell on the roof across from your room on my way home. And then you landed in front of me and I didn't want you to know I was there so I didn't say anything, and you-you-" She really didn't have to finish. He knew what happened next. Well, knew everything except that he probably still had a nice Ladybug's-face-sized smudge mark on one of his upper windows. Marinette had averted her eyes for a moment while she finished her story, but now she brought them back up to Adrien's face. When he didn't say anything, she took a deep breath. Preamble over, she was ready to ask her question again, and this time she would get an answer.

"Now, Chat, how long have you known?"

Adrien swallowed and his eyes flicked away from hers for a moment.

"Well…remember when we fought Animan?"

It was Marinette’s turn to just stare and blink. How could she possibly forget that!? She had jumped into the mouth of a Tyrannosaurus-Rex!

But wait…that was...that was months ago. Months.

"I…but…you've known for that long?"

Looking extremely shamefaced, Adrien nodded.

Marinette almost felt sorry for him. And then she remembered the months of awkwardly chasing after her crush, Adrien Agreste. The months of watching Chloe hang all over him, telling Marinette over and over again how she would never match up to his level. The months of crying over loving a boy that she just wanted to know better, of obsessing over having the ability to say more than three words together in his presence. And he had done nothing. Today was the first day he had even wanted her cell number. Today was the first day that Adrien Agreste had taken any real interest in Marinette Dupain-Cheng. The day after Ladybug had turned him down.

But I am Ladybug, she argued in her mind. The confusion must have shown in her face.

"I'm sorry, Marinette. I just…never knew what to say."

"Never knew what to say?" Marinette heard the words come out, but she still wasn't able to fully take ownership of them. She felt like her mouth was working faster than her brain, working around thoughts and arranging corresponding questions of its own accord. "Never knew what to say to little stuttering Marinette? Excuse me if I find that a little hard to believe, coming from the cat that can't ever leave the ladybug alone."

Adrien's lips pursed together. He shoved his hands in his pockets, but didn't seem like he had anything to say, any denial to add. This only fueled Marinette further. The gears were working in her head a little more now, picking up speed.

"You love Ladybug, you told me that. If you knew I was Ladybug, why would you ever keep quiet to me about it? There'd be no reason to! I was obviously crazy about you, and you knew it, you knew it and you kept me right there – oh." Marinette started to tear up again. It was a confusing feeling because she honestly did not know she had more tears to yield. They stung her eyes more forcefully, the swollen vessels they were escaping from protesting against the salty feeling. It felt like sandpaper scraping across her eyes. But she pressed forward. She needed to just…know.

"You always loved Ladybug...but you didn't like Marinette. Not in that way at least…and those feelings never really changed, did they?"

Adrien looked down at the ground. His toe kicked against it. Then, slowly, he shook his head.

"And you couldn't have Ladybug going after anyone else…so you kept me…strung along."

Adrien sighed slightly, still averting his gaze. His hands went deeper into his pockets before he nodded.

It was always her biggest fear, more than someone getting hurt because of her, or something bad happening because of a leaked-out identity…this was always her biggest fear, that Adrien – that Chat – would be disappointed in the girl on the other side of the mask. Although the idea always caused her agony, her positivity had consistently won out over her fear. She – and Tikki – constantly consoled her fears away, tell her that she was worth it. Marinette felt the pain of it seep down into her bones. It was everything, every fear, every single insecurity right there, come to fruition. She had been playing a game and she hadn't known it. And she had lost everything.

The tears abruptly dried up, and Marinette didn't know what to feel anymore. As the numbness descended upon her, she saw Adrien raise his eyes to hers for the first time in the last five minutes. Dear, sweet Adrien. He looked so guilty, she almost felt sorry for him, despite everything. She forced herself to look away and her gaze dropped to her bag, the bag that the Akuma had taken over.

And then she was livid.

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The sun was high as Adrien watched over the city with sharpened eyes. He tried not to take in the attractive landscape but instead put every effort to keep every single molecule honed in to his surroundings…listening, watching, smelling the air. He hadn't been this scared in his life.

Where the heck is Ladybug!?

The battle had dragged on for the past hour, maybe longer, and he was having problems both keeping eyes on his assailant and finding better places to hide. He even considered dropping his transformation all together, but he didn't think it would make much of a difference. A sore spot on his side told him that he would probably have a nasty bruise there tomorrow, while through his boot his right foot throbbed from a hit near the very beginning of the fight. He wondered vaguely if the ‘Miraculous Ladybug’ hearts would cure these pains. Not only was the thought unlikely, but Adrien was sure he would be feeling the effects of this skirmish for a long, long time. There was nowhere left for him to go except home, and no easy way to traverse the last half mile there. There was no way to smooth talk his way out of this either.

Adrien cursed himself for letting his mind wander again when he heard a sudden sound. He pressed himself as flat as he could against the chimney piece he had chosen to hide behind as a voice rang out, cold and clear.

"Here, kitty, kitty…" the voice drawled lazily. "I know you couldn't have gone far…."

Adrien dared to gulp, but nothing else. He strained to hear footsteps, a zipping wire, anything, but nothing came. After what seemed like another half hour entirely (but, in reality, was probably only a few minutes), Adrien risked a peek. He didn't dare to even sigh with relief when he saw nothing around the chimney piece, didn't dare to breathe easy until he could make it home, if he ever could….

But there was no one there. Even in the next few minutes of stalking out into the open, there was no one. Did he dare dash to safety? One more building was all he had left. One more building and he would be safe at home. Deciding it had to be his best bet, Adrien bolted and leapt unto the next roof. Last one down, now just one more jump…! With barely a pause he continued his sprint and in a huge, well-practiced arc, he leaped, almost right through his window. Almost.

Adrien should have known he’d never have much luck.

Especially when going up again Lady Luck herself.

The yo-yo hooked around Adrien’s ankle and the lady swung him up and away again. He had no way to save himself from another forced crash landing at her hands, his stick having been taken away a solid hour ago. He was unexpectedly "saved" this time when the lady herself released his ankle and wrapped the string around his middle instead, tying his arms to his sides, before letting him land in a dangle over a streetlamp. (It could be worse, and Adrien was thankful that this time he was at least rightside-up.) He glowered at her when she lowered herself from a nearby roof using his baton. Then she walked slowly up to him and all the anger in Adrien was replaced with fear…again.

"Oh, mon minou, why do you keep running away from me?" she hummed in a mockingly sweet tone. The lady moved right in front of him, giving his bell a little jingle before scratching lightly under his chin. The smile plastered on her face matched the tone she used: forcibly endearing, laced with arsenic. Adrien kicked his legs, trying to break away, but it was in vain. She giggled mockingly at his silly efforts.

"Wasn't it just yesterday that you told me how much you cared about me?"

"Yes, well," he spat back at her. "Feelings – er – change sometimes –"

She laughed out loud at this. "We both know you're preaching to the choir, Kitten."

"I'm not your Kitten."

"No? You used to be. I think I'll use the endearment anyway, though. It's so…charming."

Adrien had literally dreamed of a moment like this, and quite often, really, but he had never been afraid of the ending. Sweet talk? Check. A little scratch under the chin? Check. His Lady calling the shots? Meow! Check, check. But unlike his dreams, he seriously doubted that this would end, well, well.

Not with Marinette here.

Not with Ladybug here.

"What-what're you going to do?" GALL, why did he have to stutter now!?

"Well, mon cheri, that really depends on you."

Adrien blinked in reply.

"I'm going to leave you here until your ring starts beeping…and then I might just let the world know who you really are."

"But, but, My La – eh hem – Ladybug, you can't do that –"

"Oh," she laughed maliciously, "but I can."

"Ladybug…" Chat growled through gritted teeth. This had gone on long enough.

"Yes, Kitty?"

She got so close to him so fast that Chat was completely caught off guard. He yelped, then ogled at her for a moment before realizing that that was exactly the kind of reaction she'd been attempting to pull from him since she chased him from the school this morning.

"What do you want, Ladybug?"

Marinette didn't miss a beat, as if she had been anticipating the question and had just been waiting for it to pass his lips.

"I'm here to tell you to stay away from Marinette, Chaton. I don't want you near her ever, ever again." She grabbed his bell roughly and pulled his eyes so he was looking directly into hers before whispering the last few words:

"Got it?"

Adrien could only nod in reply.

With a sharp tug around him Adrien dropped to the ground, Ladybug having released him from her yo-yo's grasp. When he tried to stand, a sharp pain – his baton – jolted into his stomach, Ladybug having just thrown it at him.

"Consider this my first responding offensive."

Adrien looked up at her from his pained, stooped position. All the sweet tones were gone from her voice, derisive or no. Her eyes narrowed disdainfully at him; though, he thought he saw tears creeping into them again.

"We have been at war for a while, Kitty Cat, and I have a lot of ground to make up."

"Ladybug-" he started as Ladybug started to walk away. Then, as any self-respecting teenager would do, Chat straightened up, stomped his foot and crossed his arms in front of him before yelling out, "FINE!" He sputtered a moment more as her yo-yo swung back. He shot out one last remark before she escaped into the sky without a second glance back to him.

"TO WAR IT IS!"

Chapter Text

From Friends to Enemies – Chapter 8

"Oh, Dear Boy, I wanna follow you
You're a Wild Boy, I am a Wild Girl, too"

Avicii – Dear Boy

Thursday

Nino stared blankly at the couple in the closet. He was pretty sure Adrien had just yelled at him, but he didn't really understand what he had said. "Again"? When was the first time? He was pretty sure this was the first time he had ever caught his bro in a closet with anyone, let alone Marinette.

Alya was behind Nino staring at her best friend standing close to the guy she had been crushing on for the entire school year and who had recently been at the brunt end of every ounce of Marinette's displeasure. While Marinette's feelings may have been confusing to her, Alya knew; there was nothing confusing about the way Adrien and Marinette were holding each other now. And nothing confusing about what Adrien had yelled at Nino. Alya snickered.

Adrien shot daggers through his eyes at Nino. He was sure his face was redder than Nathanael's hair, the heat emanating from his cheeks nearly burning his eyes. A calm inner voice explained to his emotions that Nino had no idea what had been going on in there and not to blame him. A snarky inner voice (that had somehow adopted the voice of Plagg) scolded him for unlocking the closet door in the first place. Though the two party-poopers stood at the door staring at the attempted party-goers, Adrien didn't make an indication of wanting to move from his spot. In fact, his hands gripped Marinette more firmly as if daring the others to continue to poop on his party.

Marinette stood there, frozen, blushing more than she had been a moment before once Adrien's grip tightened without warning, holding her closer to him. It wasn't the best position to be in; at least, not in front of spectators. She immediately wanted to close the door and be in the dark again. Because of the harsh embarrassment of the last minute or so, she wasn't sure if she wanted to be alone with Adrien in here, in the dark, or just alone, wallowing in her own bad luck. She settled for a slight clearing of her throat; no matter what she chose, she had to be able to actually move to do it, and Adrien was decidedly preventing her from doing just that.

The other three snapped their faces to Marinette. When they all stared at her, not saying anything, the awkwardness of the situation became too great and Marinette pointedly locked eyes with Adrien tried to move free. It was a half-hearted attempt, mostly because she wanted him to make the first move to release her. It took Alya sniggering again and Nino's deadpanned, "Uhhh…" to seem to finally break Adrien free from his own thoughts. He sighed begrudgingly and reluctantly eased Marinette away from him. It was an odd mixture of feelings for Marinette; all at once she felt physically alone and mentally spent. A breath she hadn't realized she had been holding escaped from her.

"Soo…" Marinette pressed her lips out, eyes darting between everyone, swinging her arms in front of her. "We just gonna stand here, or…?"

The other three all started talking at once.

"Oh, yeah, right!" Nino piped up.

"Uh, haha! Yeah, I gotta thing to go do, yeah," chirped Alya.

"Um, yeah, er, uh, uh-huh," muttered Adrien, a hand scratching the back of his neck again.

Marinette couldn't help the grin that spread across her face. She didn't really mean to, really, but she leaned a little closer to Adrien. Some wall had splintered between them; and, feeling like she had broken the surface of an ocean, she longed to breathe in deep again, breathe whatever this was, if it was anything, in deeply.

Alya could feel the gravity rising again between her other two friends and hastily started pulling a bewildered Nino away from the pair. He started to protest before Alya all but shoved him away. Gall, he really was not understanding what was going on at all, was he!?

Adrien watched them leave before looking back down at a very smiley Marinette. The look in her eyes shattered him.

How had he never wanted this girl?

"Oh my gosh, I'm in so deep," he murmured.

Marinette's eyes widened.

Aw, crap. Did he just say that out loud!?

"Uh, I mean, I –"

Marinette wasn't listening. She grabbed the front of his shirt and planted one right on his mouth. A big one. A big, deep, meaningful mess-of-emotions one. And he loved every second of it.

Adrien opened his eyes when she moved away from him all too soon, utterly struck to his core.

"Uh, thanks," he squeaked out, staring into space. Marinette giggled, a hand covering her smiling mouth. The sound made Adrien blush again, but when he looked down at Marinette, he saw tears leaking down her grinning face. The sight made him so, just, happy. He picked her up and they finally exited the closet, senseless, loud laughter ringing between them. Adrien stared at her face as he spun her around and then, returning the gesture from earlier and practically throwing her onto his back, piggy-back style, then took off at a dead run. Marinette screamed in delight.

The janitor that had just walked back to his supply closet stared after the pair and, huffing, decided that he really needed to make sure the doors were actually locked before he left that day.

Alya screamed and grabbed onto Nino when a laughing blur of teenage frivolity raced past the walking twosome.

"Oh, heck no," muttered Nino. He barely glanced at Alya before grinning wickedly.

"Oh, yeah, boy! Let's do this!"

Nino hefted Alya up onto his back and raced after the couple in front of them.

For the first time in a long time, the world rested at ease, and four teenagers enjoyed being young and carefree, running through Paris, the City of Love.

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It was a fantastic, wonderful, marvelous ten minutes.

The four friends had collapsed outside on the school steps, laughing, trying to catch their breath, especially poor Nino who wasn't used to the physical exertion. Alya's phone was out and she was recording the worn-out DJ as he waved her away, acting annoyed. Then a beep sounded on Alya's phone. She pressed a button and immediately blanched. The mood among the four friends instantly stiffened.

"Alya," Marinette spoke first. "Alya, what's wrong?"

"An Akuma."

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All in all, Adrien decided that he would have rather taken on Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and maybe even Godzilla himself (herself?) over having to deal with this guy. He called himself Roundhouse (really, Hawk Moth?) and seemed to be a disappointed owner of a dojo. He was out to show the world the "beauty, majesty, and kick-butt awesomeness that was karate". Unfortunately for Roundhouse, Ladybug and Chat Noir were on fire today; the battle was tough, but the super-duo wasn't going to back down any time soon. Chat grinned at HIS LADY again, both of them sweating and breathing deep.

"We're getting quite the workout today, aren't we?"

Roundhouse slammed down in front of them, cracking the street, and then leapt away.

Adrien had missed this, the bantering, having fun with his red-suited partner. You know, nice bantering…not snarky one-liners.

"Well," she shot back playfully, "if someone hadn't insisted on playing a certain contact sport earlier –"
"Ha! Excuse me, miss, but I believe you were the one that initiated the contact."

She laughed heartily. "You liked it!"

Yes. Yes he did.

Ladybug ran toward Chat, skidding to the ground before vaulting a ready Chat into the air. He spun his baton into a helicopter-esque motion as she grabbed onto his feet, away from Roundhouse and another powerful hit. Then they both dropped down, yelling to build momentum into their tandem hit. Roundhouse barely dodged, flailing out his sparring legs in a replying attack. Ladybug pulled on Chat's tail to get him out of the way and landed a swipe around Roundhouse's legs, attempting to knock him over. As Ladybug was aiming low, Chat leapt over her, a double steel-toed boot kick smashing into the side of Roundhouse. While he was going down, Ladybug pushed on Chat's shoulders when he landed and swung out her yo-yo and wrapped the unbreakable line around Roundhouse.

The heroes hurried over to Roundhouse and looked at him, confused for a moment.

"The headband?"

"The belt?"

Or maybe the sweatbands?

They started stripping the screeching Akumatized karate master in search of the affected item. Before they could find it, however, Roundhouse pulled something new from a pocket. How he managed to do that while tied up and two superheroes standing over him was anyone's guess. Later, Adrien guessed that it had been in his hand all along, though they hadn't realized it.

A staff similar to Chat's, if not so much in looks as in ability, shot out of nowhere and straight into Ladybug's stomach. With Ladybug gone from her yo-yo, Roundhouse was able to wriggle free of his constraining cords.

"Ladybug!" Chat had yelled out, looking over at Marinette rather than at the villain they were facing. He wanted to race over to her…and a moment later got his wish, though not in a way he would have chosen. Roundhouse had straightened the staff in his hand into Chat's stomach this time, throwing him not only to Ladybug, but sprawled right on top of her.

"UGH," Ladybug groaned.

"Sorry, M'lady," Chat matched her tone, wincing as he raised himself up. Then he offered a hand to her. This time, though, while his hand was to his lady, his eyes were fixed on the Akuma victim. Roundhouse's staff was the same look and size as a bo-staff now, and it was evident from the way he worked with and spun it around that he knew how to use it. Chat narrowed his eyes as Ladybug rose up next to him, standing close to him, watching Roundhouse try to intimidate them with his "skills". Suddenly, Chat felt Ladybug use his arm to boost herself up so she could…kiss his cheek.

"Go get 'im, Tiger," she hummed.

Chat grew warm and grinned mischievously. A sound escaped him, somewhere between a growl and a purr. He pulled out his baton and extended it to match the size of Roundhouse's, twirling it around his hands and body masterfully before ending in a formidably defensive position. Grinning even wider, Chat reached out the hand not holding his staff toward Roundhouse, palm up. Wiggling his fingers, he gestured Roundhouse to come get some.

The two males roared at each other before coming together in an epic staff battle.

Meanwhile, a certain red-clad, black-spotted superheroine slipped out of eyesight before calling up her lucky charm. As always, she was filled with bewilderment while looking at the object in her hand.

"A giant sticky hand!?" she wondered. "What am I supposed to do with this?"

She ran back closer to the battle. She tried to keep her mind on what she was supposed to be doing, not watching Chat leer at his opponent, a ferocious – and, eh hem, super attractive – look in his eyes.

Lucky charm. Stinky hand, I mean sticky hand, ok, now…what…?

Her ladybug vision led her back to the battle and she hyper-focused on Roundhouse's face.

Ladybug snorted. She took out the sticky hand and lightly twirled it, trying not to let it stretch to the concrete beneath her or into her own arm. In her other hand she held her yo-yo ready.

Chat glanced over at Ladybug when she raced over to them, standing just to the side of Roundhouse but still out of his line of vision. After meeting Chat's gaze again, Ladybug flicked her head up momentarily and Chat seemed to get the hint. He leapt up and aimed high. In the same fluid movement Roundhouse made to block the high attack over his head, Ladybug came out from his peripherals and swung the sticky hand. It wrapped around his head once before slapping him in the face with a satisfying smack. Roundhouse grabbed at it with one hand. Ladybug pulled back on the part of the sticky hand still in her hand, causing the cord to go taut, before letting go. A loud snap sounded as the villain's face was again assaulted. He reached up with his other hand, dropping his staff.
A clawed hand snatched the copy-cat weapon from the air and tossed it to Ladybug. She grabbed it and smashed it into the ground. (Roundhouse howled, but not because he had just lost…it was because that cursed sticky hand was pulling painfully at his hair.) A purplish black butterfly flew out of the broken pieces.

"No more evil-doing for you, little Akuma! Time to de-evilize!"

Chat stared on in wonder. This was his favorite part, watching Ladybug set the world right again. It had been since that day when she told off Hawk Moth in front of all of Paris.

"Bye-bye, little butterfly."

Ladybug walked up to where Roundhouse once stood, a groaning, portly man dressed in a cheap imitation of a karate outfit lying on the ground. She picked up the sticky hand toy from the ground and threw it into the air.

This was also her favorite part.

"MIRACULOUS LADYBUG!"

Ladybug watched as the world renewed. The beauty of it was never lost on her. As she looked around Chat Noir ambled to her side.

"Pound it!" they spoke together.

"Paw-some job today, M'lady."

"I was feline pretty good."

"That was a purr-ity good one, Bugaboo."

"I might have seen it on… Mew Tube."

"You have cat to be kitten me right now!"

"What, not feline too good? Do you need a purr-amedic?"

"Breaking Mews! Ladybug is being com-paw-letely pun-believable!"

"GUYS! Guys, please…" The man who used to be Roundhouse had sat up and his hands were up in front of him in a defensive position. "Please," he said again, closing his eyes and touching the bridge of his nose. "All these cat puns…they kind of…freak meow-t."

There was silence for a moment before the three of them erupted into unconstrained laughter. When Ladybug's earrings beeped a warning, the realization that maybe they should all get back to real life washed over them all.

Ladybug was about to yo-yo away when she felt a tug on her left hand. She turned to see Chat right next to her, a contented look set firmly on his features. She sighed slightly at the sight of him. He didn't say anything, so she took the reins for the second time that day. She pulled on him by the hand he was holding her with until he almost stumbled into her; it was a purr-fect position for her to whisper into his ear.

"Come over later, yeah?"

When she started walking away, eyes still fixed on him, Chat's heart seemed to catch in his chest. He couldn't even reply to her question before she flew into the air…but he figured the grin stupidly fixed to his face was sufficient for an answer.

"Seriously though, Chat Noir, I'm sorry about all this." Not-Roundhouse-man said when she had zipped out of sight.

"It happens, man."

"And uh, hey…could you sign my headband?"

Still Thursday

The night air whipped around Adrien as he stood at the balcony rail, thinking. It had been a whirlwind day – a whirlwind week – and to think it still wasn't over, to think about, after all of this, that they would have normal things to do like homework and going to school, was a bit overwhelming.

"Yes, Maman, I'm leaving the door open." Marinette's exasperated voice floated up from her room. A moment later Adrien saw her head popped up out of the trap door to the balcony, followed immediately by the outline of the princess herself. It was dark on the balcony, a slight chill in the air, but Adrien could see Marinette's blush as she stepped up by him.

"What's wrong?" he asked, a laugh on the edge of his question.

Marinette huffed. "My parents."

"Do they not like that I'm up here?" Adrien certainly hoped not.

"No, no, it's nothing like that. They, uh…" Marinette's blush deepened and she scowled. "They were teasing me."

"About what?"

"Erm…about how I h-had upgraded."

At the questioning look in Adrien's eyes, Marinette huffed even louder than before.

"They were congratulating me on how I had upgraded from posters to, you know…the real deal."

Adrien blinked before he realized what she was talking about – him.

He burst out in laughter. Marinette tried to let her scowl deepen, but the pure mirth coming from the Sunshine Child was too much; she joined in. They stayed like that for a while before tears stung their eyes. Then Marinette set down the items Adrien hadn't noticed she had brought up the hatch with her: a thermos and two mugs. After filling them, Marinette came and joined Adrien again next to the balcony railing. She handed him a mug, then leaned on the rail, looking out into Paris. Adrien mimicked her position. When he brought the mug up to his lips, he smiled at the design: Ladybug red with black dots. His smile only widened when he noticed her mug: black with a pair of winking green cat eyes.

"Nice," Adrien said, gesturing to the mugs and matching the green-eyed wink.

Marinette shrugged. "They were on sale."

Adrien chuckled slightly and looked down at Marinette, who was still looking out into the city lights. That's when he noticed for the first time what she was wearing.

She was wearing a black scarf…with cat paw mittens on the ends…attached to a black hood with cat ears.

"Was – er – t-that on sale too?"

"Mmhm," she answered nonchalantly. Adrien couldn't help it. He took a step back and took in the whole picture of her. From the cat-eared hood to the black sweater with a green pawprint (that matched his ring), to the black cat socks peeking from under her usual pink pants, and down to the black cat booties with matching winking faces to the green eyes on the mug. Adrien just stared. Then he cleared his throat, a sudden tightness there.

Oh cats, she looks absolutely adorable.

"And, uh, all that, too?" he gestured to her whole ensemble. Without looking at him, Marinette look another sip of her hot cocoa, then shrugged and nodded.

"You know, purrrr-incess," Adrien purred as he came back to stand next to her. He leaned on his side on the railing this time so he could look more directly at Marinette. The blush filling her cheeks gave him confidence; she knew he was there, even if she wouldn't look at him. The fact that she was smattered in Chat Noir merchandise also did something for his ego he wasn't sure he would ever recover from. "If I didn't know any better, I'd say you might have some sort of affinity for black cats. Black cats with green eyes. And maybe even a certain one in particular."

She didn't miss a beat.

"Nah," she said flatly, shaking her head. "I'm just cheap. Ladybug stuff is expensive."

Marinette pursed her lips while Adrien just stared at her. She chanced a glance in his direction…and lost it. Adrien joined in the laughter. He liked that this was becoming the norm for them.

"You know you're going to have to make me a Ladybug hood for me, right?"

"Oh!" she said in mock surprise. Then she put her mug down on the ground and walked behind the chair on the balcony. When she came back, Adrien noted with elation she held something that was red with black spots…. "You mean, like this?" She offered the bundle to him, blinking her eyes sweetly.

Adrien didn't care that a decidedly girlish squeal escaped him as he rushed to put on the Ladybug hood with scarf. It fit perfect, as he figured it would; Marinette was amazing. The red hood had little antennae on the top. The exterior was red with black spots, the interior black, the mittens on the end all red, a circle with five black spots inside, just like Ladybug's earrings, hand-stitched there. Adrien was fan-boying up the wazoo despite himself. He looked at Marinette, a permanent grin glued to his face, and putting down his mug, his now-mitten-ed hands clapped together excitedly as he started to jump up and down.

"Marinette, I love you! You're the best!"

Adrien only realized what he had said when Marinette stopped smiling as wide as she had been, her face going slightly lax. Then the blush spread from her cheeks to the rest of her face and neck. Adrien was sure that her ears were probably fiery red too; he knew his were.

"Marinette, uh, well, I –"

Was he going to try to explain himself out of this one? Nope, nope he was not.

"No, nope. You know what? I love you, Marinette." Adrien looked straight into her bluebell eyes. He pulled his hands from his mittens and placed one hand on each of her shoulders. "I. Love. You."

The forcefulness of the statement seemed to do something detrimental to Marinette's system. Adrien watched as several emotions flashed over her face, easily discernable by the unintentional flamboyancy of each one.

Surprise. Confusion. Suspicion. Surprise again. Sadness.

Sadness won out, and Marinette looked up at Adrien with tears welling up, making the blue of her eyes look like irises floating in an ocean.

"Marinette, what's wrong?"

"I don't deserve this, Adrien," she sighed. "I don't deserve you."

"No, no, you don't get to say that, okay?"

He took her hands in his.

"Remember what you said the other day? About being two halves that don't quite make a whole?"

Marinette nodded.

"Well, without sounding too cheesy, but being completely serious, what if that's because your two broken pieces and my two obviously broken pieces are supposed to fit with each other? Not separate, but together." He shook his head, trying to get the words out right. "Not Marinette with Ladybug or Adrien with Chat Noir," Adrien breathed in deep and then released his breath, releasing some of his tension with it. "But Ladybug with Chat Noir…and Marinette with Adrien."

When Adrien said this, he bit his lip nervously. He wanted to help Marinette, to comfort her, to let her know that not only was she not alone, but, if it were up to him, that she would never have to feel alone again.

And he hoped beyond hope that she felt the same way.

Because he certainly couldn't live another day with her, not anymore.

"Yin and Yang," Marinette finally whispered.

Adrien chuckled slightly. "Exactly. I think."

When Marinette sighed and looked away, Adrien grew worried. Did she not approve?

"What if I can't agree to that?"

WHAT. What kind of response was that!?

Before he could say anything more, she sighed again, a little more theatrically.

"Cause, I mean, I totally ship Marinette with Chat Noir." She looked at him, pulling one of her hands away, gesturing to herself and her getup. "Obviously."

Adrien burst out laughing out loud at her antics.

"I think I can arrange that."

Then, before Marinette could make the move first again, Adrien pulled her up to him, closing the gap in one sweep. There was a lot in that kiss: repentance, forgiveness, healing…and, most of all, love.

Adrien was started to really enjoy himself there with Marinette until a familiar voice called loudly up to them from the street below.

"OH MY GOSH NINO WHY JUST WHY WHY ARE YOU HERE."

Fin!

Chapter Text

Happy Halloween!

Ok, so I took out the Chronological Order chapter and replaced it with this for now. I'll put it back, I promise! But this is getting a bit of a rewrite. Ok, maybe a lot of a bit. Yeah. That makes sense. The whole first half of Chapter One has been rewritten. So the chronological part won't make sense anyway.

Mostly this rewrite is stemming from wanting to deeply edit this as my first chapterific fanfic.

Everything else has to do with the artwork in Chapter Two, and wanting to make the story better to fit the SWEEEEET ARTWORK.

'Cause it's by EDEN DAPHNE.

AND IT'S AWESOME. 

So I want to give this work the effort it deserves.

But I have other stuff going on so it might be a little bit of a slow time coming.

BUT THE ARTWORK.

Sorry, sorry, I digress. So this is just a little update on something that WAS done but might get a bit more...tweaking. 8)

Thanks for all your comments, Kudos, subscribes, and bookmarks!! YOU are what make all this worth it! 

Keep smiling and don't get yourself Akumatized. ;)

-Maki

(P.S. I'll delete this little A/N when the rewrite is all done.

So in like, a year.

Haha! JK. Hopefully. 8) -M )