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     1. Dirty Talk

Marinette throws her head back and moans louder than strictly necessary, but she’s flat out on someone’s outdoor lounger on a rooftop deck and there’s no one around to hear them. The sun’s mostly set, the lights in the apartment beneath them are off and Chat’s head is just a silhouette against of the ambient glow of the Parisian streetlights lining the boulevards.

“Fuck!”

He nips her with his teeth right there and his chuckle at her exclamation sends vibrations through her core like a hurricane. She clenches her legs around his head and swears she sees stars.

“Right…right there, ahh!”

She digs her fingers into someone else’s cushion and wipes her hand against her brow, careful not to dislodge the mask covering the skin around her eyes. Chat’s pressing harder, his forearms bending her thighs back and she thanks her lucky stars that she’s become so flexible in and out of her suit. The sloppy sounds he’s making with his mouth are filthy and she can feel herself gushing, slick and wet against his lips and there are two (three?) fingers curling inside of her, fuck, and God knows what he’s doing with his tongue and teeth but whatever it is it’s positively killing her.

After all, they don’t call it la petite mort for nothing.

Her orgasm sneaks up on her, her back arching off the cushion like an electric current. Her toes curl, her eyes clench, her hips practically lose control. She distantly feels him press her forcefully against the chair to devour her and that only intensifies the feeling, sparks and flames and pleasure and pain and desire; he knows just how to get her off, what with all the practice they’ve been getting lately.

These Ladybug merchandise masks were the best €3.75 investment she’d ever made.

He crawls up her body and she knows she must look a mess judging by his expression. He wipes his mouth with the back of his hand and that Cheshire smile of his only grows as she quivers, the aftershocks of her orgasm still racing across her skin.

“M’Lady,” he croons, shifting the velvet Chat Noir mask so it sits more comfortably on his nose, “You’ve spoilt my dinner.”

“Hmm?” Marinette’s body is still buzzing, the little twitches in her toes jolting in time with her heart and clit.

“I don’t usually get to eat dessert first.”

Marinette has enough brain cells left to roll her eyes and grab him by the neck, pulling him down to her lips. She kisses him senseless, his lips salty and slick, and her body responds in kind, pulsing against the spring evening chill. She grazes her hands against every part of him that she can reach, clipping his nipples with her fingernails and reveling in the full body shudder she scrapes out of him.

“M’Lady…”

Marinette opens her eyes, sensing the tension in his body and she just knows what he’s about to say. After all, it’s how he ended up between her legs in the first place, “Chat, I swear if you start punning again—”

“But I adough you.”

There’s a beat and then Marinette is flipping them, her muscles responding in a way that speaks of years of familiarity. There’s a brief tangle of limbs before she’s straddling his chest, her clit close enough to his chin that he can practically taste it. His eyes are sparkling and he’s licking his lips instinctively, forever a glutton for punishment.

“This should be a piece of cake for you.”

Chat practically melts, “I love it when you talk dirty to me.”

Marinette rolls her eyes and sits on him, putting that mouth of his to better use.

Chapter Text

           2. Masturbation

It’s been three days.

When Chat had let her know that he’d be out of Paris over the long weekend, Marinette had simply shrugged. It wasn’t like it was the first time he’d been busy doing whatever it is his civilian self did on the weekends. She’s lucky that Le Papillon’s attacks seem to conveniently halt whenever he leaves the city as well.

But that was before they started their…thing.

Whatever that is.

Now she’s got her fingers pressed between her legs and her tongue between her teeth, praying that the noises she’s making are subdued enough that her family can’t hear them. She’s panting heavily, her lips chapped from the hot air and the thirsty brush of her tongue. It’s so oppressively hot in her room that she feels like she can’t breathe.

She imagines herself pressed beneath him, the heat from his body making her sweat with need, keening and mewling and oh god, it's like she can feel him against her. The planes of his chest, the way his skin slides against her breasts, the way he latches onto her nipples and tugs and oooh, she tries not to moan out loud, she really does but it’s so hard when he’s hard for her like this, oh. She brushes her fingers against her bare nipples, clipping them with her nails and it sends something like a shockwave straight to her clit so she does it over and over again, imagining his mouth there instead. He’s got a way with his teeth and she loves it, loves the way he’s not afraid to give her what she wants when she wants it, biting and nibbling and that gentle roughness she’s come to love.

She pinches her nipple one last time and focuses instead on what’s happening between her thighs, the skin there slick and wet with arousal. She dips her index finger inside her to coat it with her juices and goes back to town on her clit, desperately massaging the spot just to the right of it. She’s so frantic for release, for the orgasm to take over her body, to be fulfilled and filled by him, his cock inside her. She grinds her hips against her palm and busies her other hand with her bed sheets, barely holding on as the image of his cock pounding her from behind nearly blinds her. Her, on her knees and elbows, moaning and desperate as he slams his cock inside her, his pace relentless. He’d look just as desperate as her, moaning her name, telling her all the things he’d like to do to her, scraping his nails down her back. She would reach down and rub her clit and he’d bat her hands away, grabbing her hips and pulling her back onto his lap. She’d grind down and he’d breath heavily in her ear, demanding her to fuck herself on his cock. She’d bob up and down obediently and he’d tell her what a good girl she’s being so he’d reward her by touching her clit, rubbing her in just the right spot—

Oh!

She nearly arcs off the mattress, her hips finally losing control. She undulates against the mattress and my god, she feels like she’s exploding, the way her fingers and toes are throbbing right in time with her clit. She can feel herself spasming, can feel her arousal coat her fingers, the way it drips down between the cleft of her ass. She keeps her fingers going, rubbing everywhere except for that one spot that gets her off right away and keeps the feeling going until it becomes too sensitive to touch, too overwhelming.

She closes her eyes and tries to focus on the way her nerves are still backfiring in her legs. It’s better than thinking about the sweet nothings he’d usually be whispering into her ears right about now, beckoning her for round two.

She grabs her mobile and checks it for messages. Finding it blank, she opens Snapchat and takes a photo of her hand still between her legs. She types a caption for the photo and sends it, rolling over to wait for his response.

Somewhere in Milan, a boy opens his notifications and reads, “look what u made me do…

Chapter Text

          3: Bondage

They've gone and done their hero song and dance. They've posed for reporters, signed autographs, kissed babies; it's only when their Miraculous begins to run out that they turn tail and head for the rooftops to hide in the closest shadows they can find.

It's a rooftop patio in Montmartre this time, blissfully empty considering the time of night on a Tuesday. Marinette detransforms behind a particularly vigorous tropical plant and slips on the Ladybug mask she keeps in her pockets for nights like these, nights that are becoming more and more frequent as of late.

“It's a school night you know,” Chat mentions quietly, already waiting for her. He says it more for her benefit than anything; he could sleep when he's dead. Speaking of which...

“I am going to kill you,” she whispers, and it's that menacing twitch of her eyebrows that does it for him, his cock suddenly hardening under the sudden wave of pleasure/lust/fear that washes over him when she stalks his way, effectively pressing him against the railings.

"LB…" he croaks and she's suddenly all up in his face, both hands caging him in. She grinds herself against him, dressed in nothing but a halter top and a pair of pink linen pyjama shorts, and moves in for the kill.

"Twice I asked you to get out of the way. And did you listen?"

Marinette grabs him by the v of his cotton t-shirt and tugs hard enough to make the seams whinge, bringing them nose to nose, "No, you didn't! You could have gotten yourself killed, or worse!"

Chat swallows, "I don't think there's anything worse than that, to be honest."

Marinette scrunches her brows together, "You could have gotten us both killed, that's what! And for what, the opportunity to one up me in a pun contest?"

Chat can feel the tendrils of doubt twisting in his stomach with the knowledge that he'd most definitely found himself in the wrong this time, "I'm sorry."

"Oh, you'll be sorry all right," she says and that spark in her eyes comes full circle, igniting his rapidly smouldering flame. It wasn't the first time Ladybug had gotten herself worked up after one of them nearly bit the dust, and it certainly wouldn't be the last. Chat hadn't realised that a 'near death experience' kink was a thing until Ladybug came along and lit up his world like a five-alarm fire.

Let's just say the masochist in him reveled at the challenge.

Livid, she physically drags him over towards the main bar and pushes him onto one of the huge loveseat sectionals dotting the patio. The backs of his knees hit the cushions and he collapses backwards, his body falling helplessly as she stands and observes her handiwork. He's sprawled and hard for her, his lips wet and wide as if parted to speak and—

"I don't want to hear another word out of you," Marinette threatens, shucking her shirt and shorts unceremoniously. She's needy with it, the conflicting desire to fuck him senseless and silence him with her mouth waging war on her senses. She can feel how soaked she is with the way her thighs slide together with every small motion she makes.

Her lips curve wickedly.

"I am going to punish you," she purrs, climbing on top of him. He loves the way she talks sometimes, the way she takes control after a near miss on the battlefield, "And you're not going to be able to do a thing about it."

He's about to ask for clarity when she presses a finger to his lips, dipping the pad of her index finger between them. He sucks it in eagerly, laving it with his tongue and teeth, devotedly trying to convey his desires. He hopes she'll sit on his face again and he can almost taste her with the way she's staring at him, watching him suck her desperately and zealous for more. He can see her arousal reflecting off the apex of her thighs and silently begs to be buried in them.

Marinette sits up and slips her fingers beneath the waistband of her panties, slowly pulling them down. Chat follows their path with his eyes and feels his breathing hitch in his chest, his own arousal straining at the zipper of his jeans.

"So sit back and keep your mouth shut," she says and Chat can't help but die inside in the best way when she talks likes this, and god, she is so sexy, her panties hooked around her knees, her arousal practically dripping down her skin. He wants to taste her so bad...

Marinette rises and lets her panties slip all the way down to her ankles. She steps out of them, gathers them into her fist and promptly shoves them into his mouth.

The shock of having something rammed into his mouth aside, Chat's arousal nearly hits a fever pitch when his brain catches up with what's happening. Her panties inside his mouth, a makeshift cotton gag and oh fuck, he's ready to come already and she isn't playing around.

“I'm going to do all the talking tonight,” she says, climbing back on top of him, "And the only noises you're going to make are these ones.”

She grazes her fingers over his straining cock.

“And these ones.”

She undoes the button and the zipper of his jeans, shimmying the fabric down past his ass.

“And these ones.”

She mouths his erection over the fabric of his briefs and Chat can't believe the noises coming out of his mouth, the noises only she seems to be able to carve out of him.

“Do I make myself clear?”

Marinette shifts herself forward and straddles his waist with her thighs, eyeing him appreciatively. Disheveled and more dazed than she’d ever seen him, Marinette can’t help but revel in the power she holds over him, dominant and unwavering. It’s a role she falls into naturally, their team dynamics magnetised when it’s just the two of them, two teenagers with raging hormones and matching sex drives.

Chat blinks slowly and nods, wide eyed and fraught for release. Marinette tugs his briefs down and spares them the pomp and circumstance, lining herself up with his cock and dropping down.

Mmff!

Marinette steadies herself on his chest and briefly chides herself for being so hasty, biting her tongue at the sting. She can feel Chat’s shameless moan through his skin, can feel the way the purr comes from his chest and reverberates straight through his cock and she thanks every star in the sky for blessing her with a cat Miraculous as a sex partner. She rocks her hips ever so slightly, aggravating the sting and stimulating her simultaneously and the pleasure/pain dynamic is delicious.

“I wish you could see yourself right now,” Marinette groans, setting the pace of her thrusts a little too slow and if Chat’s pupils weren’t already completely dilated, they certainly were now. He tries to visualise himself in his mind’s eye from her perspective, flat on his back and wanton, making lewd, needy noises with every thrust. His cock twitches inside her and Marinette grins, tweaking his nipple with her fingernails. She loves seeing him so helpless beneath her and it only spurs her onwards.

She picks up the pace, grinding down and shifting until she’s seeing stars with every thrust. She’s got that spot just right and Chat can sense she’s close, gripping her hips in the way he knows she likes. He thrusts up inside her and it’s her turn to throw her head back with abandon, uninhibited and brazen. It’s enough to break through the veneer of control and allow her to go full tilt, riding him until she forgets the burn in her thighs.

He keeps his left hand on her hip and slips the other one between her legs, his thumb targeting her clit and rubbing it relentlessly. She bites her lip to keep herself from screaming and braces herself on his chest, grinding down on him so he stimulates that spot inside her again and again and again and again and—

Ah!

She comes first and the visual stimulation is enough to send Chat flying off the edge, his hips losing control. He forces himself to keep his eyes open as he comes inside of her, her facial expression one of pain and pleasure and bliss as her muscles quiver around him, milking his cock and his orgasm and fuck, it feels so good. His mind goes blank, his body clenches then goes slack, and he loses time for a while.

When he comes to, she’s lying limp against him, panting and exhausted and deliciously spent. He can feel the tension leave her body as she closes her eyes and tries to control her breathing, and why is she always fighting for control? He picks the panties from between his teeth and vaguely imagines taking control over her for once, of fucking her the same way she just fucked him and it’s enough to send another wave of desire to his thighs.

Merde,” he breathes and he feels her nod in agreement beside him. It’s the first time in a week since they’ve been intimate and it’s felt like a lifetime, what with being shipped to Milan for the weekend and then the mounting stress of final exams. Just another springtime in Paris, he thinks reverently, not entirely unaware that they just fucked like animals in heat. It’s been a bit of a problem these last two years, what with the effects of their Miraculous rubbing off on them, and he’s thankful Ladybug came up with the masks idea so they could scratch that itch with each other.

After all, that’s all they were doing, right? Scratching an itch? She’d never seemed romantically interested in him before…

Chat sighs. Being friends with benefits has never seemed so dull.

Chapter Text

          4: Oral Sex

It's two in the morning and they've just captured the akuma responsible for turning a hipster cocktail bar into a molotov cocktail manifesto. Exhausted and filthy, she's sprawled on a concrete bench in the neighbouring building's courtyard with one arm draped over her eyes. It’s dark, it’s late, Le Papillon is an absolute asshole for keeping her up on a school night, and it's only a matter of time before she detransforms.

"Ladybug?"

Marinette grunts in response and doesn't do much more than that.

"Are you okay?"

She shifts her arm ever so slightly, "I'm good. You?"

"A little burnt but I'll live."

She turns her head, exposing one of her eyes to the light, and spots him spread eagled on a patch of grass a few metres away. He looks a little worse for wear if she's being honest; his eyes are closed against moonlight, his lips parted ever so slightly in fatigue, his hair blackened with soot and god knows what else.

To her, he's never been so handsome.

He’d spent most, if not all, of the battle trying to save civilians, running in and out of the line of fire more times than she could count. He provided some back up of course, causing a few diversions if only to give her the upper hand, but he left the fight mostly to her. It was only when the fires got out of control, when he couldn’t save another civilian without killing himself that he pulled her out of the building before the ceiling collapsed. The thanks between them were wordless, the immense amount of trust between them so palpable in that moment it made her heart burst.

She soaks him in against the moonlight, all long limbs wrapped in black leather. She knows what those limbs look like laid bare before her, pressed against her, twisted in ecstasy as she rides him. She's seen that face in the height of an orgasm, watched his green eyes stare up at her in reverence...

She peels herself off the bench and flops down beside him.

"You looked lonely," she explains before he can speak and he's right, he is a little singed. She runs her fingers through his hair to dislodge some of the soot and feels herself relax when he presses his head against her palm. She repeats the motion until that telltale purr of his comes to fruition and she can't help but smile fondly, knowing his innate need for contact goes way deeper than just his Miraculous.

“If I could move, I would kiss you right now.”

Marinette closes her eyes, “I would let you.”

Chat hums and Marinette rolls onto her side, burying her hand further into his hair and draping the other over his chest. Their Miraculous start to chime fervently in their ears but neither of them feel particularly inspired to move beyond the rise and fall of their chest to breathe.

“Do you have your mask?”

“With our track record?”

“Good point,” Marinette laughs through her nose, the air blowing a tuft of hair on his forehead into his eyes. She brushes it away and rolls back enough to face skyward, closing her eyes again until the glowing green and red light of their bodies transforming fades from behind her eyelids. She blindly reaches into her pocket and slips on her mask, listening until he’s done the same.

“Good?”

“Yup.”

Chat’s dressed in black pyjamas and it’s a good look to be sure. She eyes him appraisingly and finds that she wouldn’t hesitate to divest him of his clothes should she find the energy.

“I know what you’re thinking and it’s not going to happen.”

Marinette raises an eyebrow, “Is that a challenge?”

Chat, exhausted as he is, finally finds the will to crack a smirk, “Only you…”

Marinette rolls onto her stomach and brackets herself with her elbows, watching him closely. His eyes are still closed and his breath has evened out for the most part, the very picture of relaxation. Marinette has other ideas.

“Challenge accepted,” she purrs, watching for a reaction. For all his perceived exhaustion, Chat’s cheeks redden ever so slightly and she knows her words aren’t entirely without consequences. She shifts her weight over to one elbow and trails her fingers slowly down his chest, tracing nonsensical patters and shapes until she reaches the edge of his waistband. The tempo of his breathing begins to pick up again and she increases the pace of her movements, observing the way his throat bobs as she skims the skin beneath his navel.

“LB…” he trails off, his voice hoarse in his throat. She takes that as a sign to go further and dips her fingers beneath his waistband, scratching at the hair she feels beneath it. He squirms and Marinette tears her eyes from his face long enough to see that her ministrations appear to be getting the desired result.

“Yes?” she answers, the coyness in her voice doing nothing to mask the desire she feels as she shifts her body downwards, still prone but closer to her goal. She shifts her weight over his leg and finds herself lying between the v of his thighs and it’s not altogether comfortable, but this is about him after all.

Her lips ghost over the tented fabric of pants and Chat fights the urge to thrust up into her mouth, his body both bone tired and agonisingly high strung. He feels her pull his pants downwards, feels her give his briefs the same treatment, and shivers briefly in the evening air before being completely and utterly devoured.

Chat’s eyes snap open, “Oh!

Marinette cranes her neck just so, and the angle is just this side of right that Chat can’t help but arch his back and moan aloud, digging his fingers into the grass beneath him. She’s doing that thing with her tongue again, that thing that nearly had him come in thirty seconds flat the last time she’d tried it. She’s not holding back either, overwhelming his already garbled senses and sucking him senseless, sloppy and eager sounds filling his ears and driving him crazy.

“Fuck…” he gasps and she cranks her lips and her hand in two different directions, sending sparks up behind his eyes. The wretched sounds she wrings out of him as she circles his head with her tongue is nothing short of embarrassing but he can’t be bothered to care, not when she’s running her tongue up and down the underside of his cock in the middle of a secluded courtyard only metres from the road. The risk of being caught coupled with the hot mouth on his cock is enough to make his toes curl and his mouth scream.

She senses his impending orgasm and sets a relentless pace, bobbing up and down and using every trick in her arsenal to make him shout for her, to make him moan her name. He says it like a prayer, her name interspersed with indecipherable cries, pleading for release. He glances down for a split second and makes eye contact with her, her swollen pink lips circling his cock and fuck, he’s suddenly coming, his orgasm crashing in like a tidal wave. His hips thrust up before he can control himself and she rides it out, his vision turning white and black at the crest of it all.

He follows the sated twitches of his muscles back to reality, opening his eyes long enough to see Ladybug sprawled back down beside him. He tries to open his mouth, tries to say something witty to match that smug expression on her face but his exhaustion is suddenly paralysing and marrow deep. He tips his head to the side and glances at her instead, his chapped lips curled into a satisfied smile.

“Thanks,” he thinks he says, his mind still fighting to get on the same page with his body. She understands the gist of it anyway and answers in kind, smirking and tapping the tip of his nose with her finger.

“Never let it be said that I would back away from a challenge.”

Chat would never doubt her again.

Chapter Text

       5: Toys

“You forgot your mask?!”

Chat takes a step back and swallows thickly, willing his erection away without much success. She looks about as disappointed as he feels given the circumstances; after all, it wasn't very often that she was the one making mistakes.

“I know,” she groans, running her gloved hand down her face. She's pissed off at herself for leaving it behind in the back pocket of her jeans from last night, too busy with cumulative projects and the like. She’s still got two months left before the end of her terminale but the pressure is starting to ramp up in anticipation for her final exams regardless.

“Well, we could always not have sex.”

Marinette snorts, “It’s been three days and I could literally tear that suit off you. Stupid hormones.”

“Oh…kay,” Chat says, shrugging his shoulders in an attempt to try and hide the way she affects him with her words. She wants to tear his suit off him? Merde… "I might just have the solution."

Marinette raises a brow, “And what's that?”

“A blindfold.”

“A blindfold,” Marinette questions him skeptically and purses her lips, raising her arms in question to look around the empty rooftop, “And where do you suppose I get one of those?”

Chat smirks and steps back into her personal space, heedless of her concerns, “I've got just the thing. Now close your eyes.”

Marinette squeezes them closed just in time to watch the green haze of light glimmer from behind the forest of her lashes and she listens intently to the rustle of clothes. She hears one fabric run against the other, a light sound with a high pitch, and holds her breath.

He rubs something against her cheek, a silky fabric that's smooth and cool to the touch, the unmistakable feeling of silk. He brings it up to her eyes and she hears him walk around her body, fastening the strip of silk just above her ponytails at the back of her head.

“Detransform,” he whispers in her ear and she concedes obediently, a war waging inside of her. She hates not being able to control her surroundings, what with one sense completely out of commission, and being left entirely to Chat's mercy certainly leaves her more than a little apprehensive. And yet, she feels herself getting wet as he circles her, skimming his fingernails against the bare skin of her arms and chest, compelling her thoughts to swim with desire.

“Why are you wearing a tie?” she asks, her trembling voice giving away her nervousness. She takes another shaky breath and tries to gather back her control.

“Sometimes I have to dress up for my job,” he replies simply, slipping his fingers beneath the neckline of her t-shirt and slipping it off her shoulders.

“I thought you were a lycéen?”

“I am,” he tosses her t-shirt and it falls somewhere to her left, “But I have a job as well.”

“On top of being Chat?”

“Well, I can't exactly quit my job and tell my father I'm Chat now can I?”

Marinette mentally chides herself. If she were thinking clearly, she wouldn’t be asking such stupid questions. She feels his breath against her neck as he begins to pay special attention to the spray of freckles there with his mouth, leaving a path of hot kisses against her skin, “I g-guess not.”

“And it's not so bad really,” he whispers against her, his chest pressed firmly against her back. She angles her head to the side to allow him access and barely holds back a moan, "It's fun to dress up and play pretend."

She lets that odd tidbit of information roll around in her mind before he wipes it clean completely, flooding her senses with his mouth and hands and skin. He pushes the straps of her tank off her shoulders and down her arms, grazing the skin there with his teeth. Marinette's pulse picks up despite her attempts to control it and she bites down on her lower lip so she can focus on the pain instead.

“Ah ah ah,” he chides, slipping his thumb between her lips. He leaves it there for her to lave while his mouth continues down her neck, sucking a line of kisses along her jugular, “I want to hear you.”

“It’s still light out. Someone could see us,” she manages to mumble, distracted by the way he nibbles at her collarbone. He all but sinks his teeth into the muscle running along her neck, nearly sending her soaring.

“That’s half the fun,” he croons, teasing her lips with his own. She can’t help if a little part of her actually agrees with him, the part of her that acts impulsively, that relishes this little thing they have together that no one else knows about. They’ve been at it since the itch started again in February, the irresistible tendrils that seemed to draw them together having latched onto them with a ferocity they hadn’t felt in the past. Tikki had said something about the physiology of it all and Marinette had simply been too embarrassed to listen, not wanting to endure another sex talk from the kwarmi. Goodness knows she’d already gotten one from her parents, her teacher and at least two others from the tiny god the last few times this had happened.

“Mating is perfectly normal,” she’d said.

“Finding the right partner will be fun!” she’d said.

And now look at her; she could barely keep her hands to herself now that spring was in full force. It was ridiculous, the way her body responded to him without her permission no matter where they were. How could they keep doing their jobs when all she wants to do is jump his bones?

Chat senses the way her mind wanders and captures her slack lips with her own, taking advantage of her momentary lapse of focus. He tips her head back and consumes her, kissing her with just enough force to remind her of the fact that she’s putty in his hands. She responds in kind, moaning helplessly as he presses his palms to her ass and hefts her up so her legs can wrap around his waist. He’s been fantasising about doing this for months, about taking her into his arms and ravishing her, about her relinquishing control so he could have his way with her without interference. She clings to his neck as he steps forward carefully, his strength considerable considering his body type, and sets her against the ledge of the fire escape.

Now seated, Marinette spreads her thighs so Chat can press himself flush to her body and she buries her fingers in his hair, inundated with sensation. She can feel everything, every movement and pulse of Chat’s body against her, the way his hips undulate against her core, the way his hands carefully divest her of her top. He tosses it and Marinette only has half a brain to hear where it lands, too captivated by the way he’s claiming her with his mouth. He’s never quite kissed her like this before, the feeling intense and overwhelming; it feels like he’s consuming her from the inside out, leaving her breathless and exposed.

He makes quick work of her bra and gets to work on the button of her jeans, hauling her up by her ass to loosen the fabric from her thighs. He shimmies them down her legs and she loses her flats along the way, nearly completely naked and wanton on a fire escape in Trocadéro.

She runs her hands against his chest and discovers the source of his tie, a three-piece suit made of wool and cashmere. It feels astounding against her sensitised hands as she pushes his jacket off his shoulders and busies herself with the buttons of his waistcoat.

“Too many buttons,” she mutters, skimming her hands along the seam of his dress shirt. She hears him chuckle against her lips and wraps his fingers around her wrists, effectively stopping her in her tracks. He replaces them on his shoulders and she can feel his hands come down between her thighs, his knuckles brushing her core as he undoes his belt and trousers.

“I want to fuck you,” he breathes against her lips and Marinette feels herself tremble, feels the last of the walls protecting her crumble. She’s lost in the moment, heady and emboldened, and the feeling is incredibly new. He’s never really shown an inclination to take control of their lovemaking (is that what they were doing?) and she’s always been more than happy to take the reigns and ride him ragged, so what changed? Where was this coming from?

He runs the head of his cock against her slit and she shivers against him, leaning back ever so slightly to help him find her entrance. She takes him in hand, luxuriating in the way he hisses her name, and guides him inside her.

Marinette throws her head back and moans, clawing at his back as the sensation overtakes her. It’s a position they’ve never explored before and the angle is impeccable, oh god, and when he starts to move against her, she has no choice but to lean back and wrap her legs around his waist as tightly as she can so he can get just that little bit deeper.

“Yes!”

Chat breathes heavily as she moves her hands behind her to support herself, thrusting her chest in the air, and all Chat wants to do is take her nipples into his mouth and suck. He leans down just as she shifts her hips and sparks burst from behind his eyelids, his body threatening to fly off the handle. He keeps his thrusts short, knowing with firm certainty that he’s hitting just the right spot inside of her, what with the way her body shudders against him, her lips twisted in ecstasy.

“Harder,” she all but begs, every shred of self doubt leaving her mind. Chat’s fucking her senseless, leaving her breathless, and the fear of handing over control has all but faded to a distant memory. All she can think of is how good he feels inside her, how good her ass feels when he grips it with his fingers and pulls her tighter against him, how good her clit feels every time he brushes up against her. Between the sensations and the way he’s whispering her name hoarsely in her ear, telling her the things he’d like to do to her, Marinette can’t tell where she stops and he begins.

Her orgasm begins to rush up on her, the telltale coils of pleasure seizing in the muscles of her abdomen. Shifting her hips one more time, she flattens herself against his body and moves her hips against him, picking up the pace. His thrusts become rougher and shallower but she can’t be bothered to care, not with the way he’s stimulating her clit like his life depends on it and oh, she’s getting close, she’s moaning unintelligibly, her toes are curling uncontrollably, her mind is buzzing and her muscles are spasming and—

“CHAT!”

She comes with abandon, throwing her head back in rapture and bliss and doesn’t feel the least bit embarrassed screaming his name from the rooftops, overwhelmed with sensation. His hips stutter as her muscles clench around him, milking his cock and god, does it ever feel good to let go and be held, riding out her high.

She comes around a few minutes later, and blindfolds or no blindfold, she’s feeling better than she has in days.

“I…that…that was good.”

She can almost imagine the way Chat’s smiling at her, swollen lips and eyes sparkling like the cat that ate the canary, “Y-yeah.”

“We…we should do this again.”

He laughs through his nose, “Which part?”

“Everything.”

Chapter Text

       6: Shower/Bath Sex

She waits at least two minutes before taking off the tie.

He's long gone of course, having disappeared behind the rooftops of the 16e arrondissement. She scans the horizon only for a second before looking down at the strip of the highest quality silk she has ever had her hands on, flipping it over to find the designer.

Agreste.

Her heart stutters for a moment, her stomach clenching in her abdomen. How on earth did Chat, a seventeen/eighteen year old lycéen in Paris, have enough money to be able to afford this?

The question haunts her as she makes her way home, taunting her with half formed thoughts and realisations. ‘I like to dress up and play pretend…’ Did he work in retail? A high-end tailor perhaps? Maybe he had a co-op with a business that required him to dress to the nines? But that still didn't explain how he could afford such an expensive accessory! After a quick check on her mobile, she'd found them selling at more that €329.75 a pop!

She lands on her balcony and detransforms seamlessly, slipping back into her bedroom as though she’d never been gone. She plops down on her office chair and spins idly for a few minutes, unable to focus on anything in particular save the tie in her lap. She twists it around her palms and weaves it through her fingers, lacing it down her wrist and arms. The cool silk warms as she handles it, moulding to her touch, luxurious and opulent and extravagant and…well…

Kind of racy.

She wraps the silk around her left wrist tightly and tugs, the briefest of thoughts crossing her mind.

Boy, did she need a cold shower.

Marinette gets up from her chair and drops the tie onto the desk, walking over to the wall where she hangs her robe and strips her clothes from her skin. She wraps herself in the terrycloth and snatches her mobile from her bed, slipping out her door towards the bathroom.

Logic tells her to take a shower and get back to studying but that niggling voice in the back of her head begs her to be selfish and draw a bath. It only takes a second to make her decision; she’d been indulging herself as of late and tonight would be no different.

She turns on the taps and scrolls away idly at her phone, flitting through her Instagram feed. Fashion, horticulture, the odd cat video…she turns off the screen and slips the robe off her shoulders, slipping into the water waiting beneath.

Bzzz!

Marinette peers over the lip of the clawfoot tub and narrows her eyes at the phone she’d literally just let go of thirty seconds ago and wipes off her hand with a towel. She grabs it and turns on the screen with a flick of her finger, checking the SnapChat notification on the screen.

CN is typing…

Marinette settles back into the bath, holding the phone just above the water’s edge and waits until he’s finished typing.

CN
Hey.

Ladybug
Hey yourself.

CN
Whatchat up to?

Marinette rolls her eyes and considers flinging the phone across the room before ultimately deciding to respond.

Ladybug
Relaxing. You?

CN
Doing homework.

He sends a snap of what looks like a mound of papers sprawled across a white desk, the pages covered with text and equations. Marinette takes a screenshot of the rare glimpse into his civilian life and files it in a folder hidden within another app.

Ladybug
Not at work then?

CN
I think I’ve done enough work tonight.

Marinette tries not to close her eyes and recall the events from a few hours previous but it’s hard not to relive the way his fingers set fire to her skin. She’s pretty sure she’s going to have bruises all over her body tomorrow morning but my god if that wasn’t the hottest sex she’d ever had.

Unable to think of anything to respond to that, she takes a picture of her bent knees, angled and exposed in the bathtub, and hits send. The response is almost instantaneous.

CN
Are you in the bath?!

Ladybug
I told you I was relaxing.

CN
You didn’t tell me you were relaxing NAKED.

Ladybug
You didn’t ask.

CN
Show me more.

Marinette raises her eyebrows, slightly taken aback by the assertive comment. Chat was certainly in a mood today, not that she was complaining, but it was still unnerving to see this unfamiliar side of him.

Ladybug
What would you like to see?

CN
Surprise me.

Marinette lifts the phone above her head and stretches her legs all the way out, aiming the camera just so. Reviewing the picture leaves very little to the imagination, her lower lips just barely visible on the edge of the frame.

CN
Fuck.

Marinette smiles and sends another one, this one featuring her abdomen. The frame stretches from below her breasts to just above her core.

Chat doesn’t respond for a few seconds and she can only imagine what he’s doing right now. She imagines him sprawled out on his bed, one leg propped up and bent and the other outstretched on the mattress. His hair would be askew, his eyes closed and his lips parted. He’d slip his hand under his waistband and –

No.

He did not.

She stares at the photo and nearly drops her phone in the water.

He’s sprawled out on his bed all right, his lower lip pinched between his teeth and his eyes screwed shut, the rest of his face covered by his mask. His chest – his glorious, chiselled, muscular chest – is completely bare and the waistband of his briefs are pulled down just beneath the shaft of his cock, erect and mouth watering and he’s pumping himself, the tip glistening ever so slightly in whatever ambient light he has in his room and she would have had the photo burned to memory and hung in the damn Louvre as a piece of priceless art if it wasn’t for the line of text printed across his stomach.

CN
look what u made me do

She’d fuck him into next week for that.

Chapter Text

        7: Spanking

It's the press conferences that always get her.

Ladybug this, Chat Noir that...but this one? This one was driving her to distraction.

There had been a particularly bothersome akuma prowling the arrondissements and so far, neither Chat nor herself had been able to wrangle him. The police already had their suspicions as to who he was based on a missing persons report; a mercenary with a messy divorce and a criminal charges list a mile wide was no one to be tampered with.

Enter Chat Noir.

While Ladybug had been busying herself with trying to capture the akuma, Chat had taken it upon himself to help every citizen get out of the vicinity unscathed. He wasn't always completely successful, and since they hadn't been able to capture the akuma, she hadn't been able to heal the damage the akuma had created. As a result, it wasn't rare to find Chat Noir visiting hospitals and gracing victims with his presence, bringing small gifts and his own adorable brand of charm forthwith.

#ChatNoir had been the national number one trending hashtag all week.

Hence the press release, followed by the talk show appearance, followed by the press conference. Chat Noir this, Chat Noir that, Chat Noir...

Marinette wasn't jealous of course, not even by a long shot. She'd been overshadowing him for two and a half years now and it was about time he had his due. He wasn't gloating or rubbing it in her face either; he was incredibly humble when it came to being in the spotlight and Marinette couldn't help but find it endearing, the way he smiled and blushed adorably at the praise. She loved seeing him being honoured by the city as much as she was, celebrated and adored by both Paris proper and the suburbs beyond. Hell, every news channel in France and Belgium had been covering the akuma attacks and Chat's resulting philanthropic ventures. In fact, she'd even been able to join him at the hospital a few times herself, enthralled by the soft side of Chat she'd always known was there but had never really seen.

What she didn't count on was the fans.

And not just the fangirls, oh no. France is a nation of people who have no qualms in telling it like it is and it seemed everyone and their mother wanted a piece of Chat.

Marinette wasn't jealous.

The voice in the back of her mind she so often associated with Tikki while she was in her suit told her otherwise.

And that's how they found themselves standing on the podium standing side by side, her thumb hitched casually tersely between his back and his belt. It rests there, a firm reminder of her presence as he fields the questions with a practised ease she'd never been able to master.

“Chat Noir, with half of Europe enamoured by your acts of philanthropy towards the citizens of Paris, have you thought of adding your name officially to any particular charity?”

Chat smiles genuinely, “Right now, my duty is to my partner and to the people of Paris. That being said, I’m happy to continue to visit and support the people who have been affected by the actions of this akuma for as long as I’m welcome.”

“Chat Noir, during your last trip to L’Hôpital Necker, you stated that you would do everything in your power to stop the akuma from hurting any more children. Have you and Ladybug been able to get any closer to finding Le Tireur?”

“Ladybug and I, along with our city's finest, have been busy coming up with an offensive strategy to defeat him. When he pops up next, we'll be ready.”

“Chat Noir, is it true that you're still single?”

Marinette grips Chat's leather belt likes it's wronged her and tries to keep her face neutral.

“I'd rather not make a comment on my personal life at this time. Next question.”

“Come on,” another reporter pipes up, “Every Superman has to have his Lois Lane.”

Marinette lets her hand skim downwards, ghosting the globe of his ass as a warning.

“Sorry to disappoint Madame, but even if I were seeing someone, I don’t like to kiss and tell.”

“So, you're not seeing anyone then,” a third reporter butts in amidst the excited buzz, “With Ladybug long refuting your advances, I'm sure the people of France will be thrilled to consider you Paris' most eligible bachelor.”

Marinette can't see herself in a reflection but she’s fairly sure that if looks could kill, half of Paris’ press correspondents would be flat out on the floor. Single my ass!

And speaking of which, Marinette throws caution to the wind and reaches back, smacking his ass and squeezing it hard enough to bruise, her growl low enough that the microphone doesn't catch it. Chat looks like he's been struck by lightning.

“I wouldn't make assumptions Madame,” he barely manages to squeak, eyes wide. He glances down as Marinette snatches the microphone and swings it her way, her expression positively scathing.

“That’ll be all for today. Thank you.”

And with that, Marinette smiles in a way that’s all barred teeth and nothing else, flashing a peace sign. He gives the crowd his signature smile and salute before Marinette all but physically drags him off the stage by the tail of his belt, her glare dead set on the war path.

“What the hell?” he exclaims, chasing after her as she swings her yoyo and leaps from the cobblestones onto the nearest balcony. He follows her until she stops on the roof of the Notre Dame de Paris and sits beside a gargoyle, crossing her arms.

“How dare they ask about our personal lives at a time like this?” Marinette harrumphs, frowning at the crowds of tourists flocking the grounds below, “It’s ridiculous.”

“Ridiculous?” Chat replies, his eyebrows careening to his hairline, “As ridiculous as the way you just slapped my ass in public?”

Marinette is still too frustrated to be embarrassed, “They were being stupid.”

“Ladybug, it’s their job to ask questions. It’s not like we haven’t been asked before.”

“That was then,” she mumbles, finally feeling the heat of shame spread across her cheeks, “Things are different now.”

“Different how?” Chat steps towards her, “What was it you labelled us way back when? Friends with benefits? Isn’t that what we are?”

He sounds angry and Marinette can’t find it within her to turn around and face him, “Yes.”

“Then what’s the problem?”

“You’re my problem.”

“What?”

Marinette turns around and stands back up, the very action taking more willpower than she’d like. She stares at him then, humiliated and embarrassed and uncomfortable as hell, and watches as he scans her face for something she can’t quite decipher. His cheeks are flushed in anger, his eyes wide with disbelief and she hates that his resentment has been turned on her.

Not that she doesn’t deserve it.

“I’m sorry,” she sighs, wringing her hands together, “I let my emotions get the best of me.”

Chat purses his lips and crosses his arms, “I’d say.”

An awkward pause stretches out between them and it takes all of her energy to try and break it.

“This is harder than I thought it would be,” she finally admits.

“What is?”

“This,” she gestures between them and the implication is obvious.

“Do you want to stop?” he replies quietly, his tone poignant.

“Do you?”

Chat smiles cheerlessly, letting his hands drop to his sides, “Ladybug, I’ve been in love with you from the get go. You can’t honestly think I’d want to stop.”

She sighs, “I know.”

“Look,” he closes his eyes and takes a deep breath, “Just…think about it. But keep this in mind, it’s not just your feelings at stake. There’s someone else on the other side of this, someone who’ll respect your wishes no matter what you decide, but I don’t want to be dragged through it if you keep deciding to torture yourself.”

Marinette cringes, “I…I’m sorry.”

Chat takes his baton from the holster on his back and extends it, “Text me when you get home safely. Who knows when this akuma will strike again.”

He leaves and his words echo in her ears, devoid of humour or fondness or anything really. It cuts her like a knife.

Chapter Text

         8: Exhibitionism

She spends most of the night wide awake, oscillating between being furious at herself for letting her emotions get the better of her and being furious at Chat for being right.

She’s an idiot.

She runs her hands down her face and groans at her ceiling, cursing her inability to sleep. Not that she doesn’t deserve the punishment but she’s got a trigonometry quiz tomorrow and she’s not looking forward to failing at yet another thing in her ridiculous life.

How could she have thought that this was a good idea? Friends with benefits? Really?

It wasn’t as if she could keep her feelings at bay anymore, especially with the way she’d responded yesterday. The press hadn’t seemed to pick up on the impromptu slap, the proximity of their bodies as well as the podium having hid it from the press. But the fact remains that she’d lost her proverbial marbles in that moment and the entire internet was blowing up with theories as to why Ladybug looked like she was going to commit arson with her eyeballs when Le Parisien’s reporter had asked Chat Noir about his love life.

She had three options.

One: Admit defeat and tell Chat Noir she was falling in love with him.

Two: Admit defeat and tell Chat Noir that they should stop sleeping with each other.

Three: Fuck him senseless and hope he forgets about it.

“Well that settles that,” she murmurs, rolling over onto her side.

~

Marinette putters through her trig test, if only barely, and proceeds to spend the rest of her morning mentally berating herself. It’s the same argument every time; on the one hand, she's more or less accepted that she's an awful human being for being possessive over a guy she's not even dating. On the other hand, she can't deny that she wants to make him hers.

She looks down at her desk and barely keeps herself from faceplanting against it.

Instead, Marinette cups her chin in her palm and tries to follow her teacher's lecture on marketing strategies but it's hard when the very source of her conflict sits three rows in front of her.

Adrien doesn't raise his hand to answer the question, which is fairly unusual considering his seemingly all-encompassing knowledge of the subject. He's slumped in his seat today, the epitome of couture; she's seen him pose similarly in the Agreste spread in last January's Vogue.

They're still friends of course, and she's able to talk to him as freely as any other boy nowadays. It's a far cry from the disaster she'd been in her troisième but thankfully, with two and a half years of being a public superhero now under her belt, she's plowed through most of her social anxieties. More than anything, it was Alya who had given her the courage to get over herself; you're never going to make it as a fashion designer, she'd said, if you can't even talk to any of the models.

Mind you, just because she could talk to him without having an aneurysm doesn't mean she likes him any less. In fact, between all the time they’d spent together being collective third wheels during lunch breaks with Alya and Nino, her feelings had only gotten stronger.

And yet...

She still didn’t have a chance with him. He's so focused on work and school and extracurriculars, not to mention he has a secret girlfriend now. When he'd first mentioned her in February, Marinette had all but shut down completely. She'd ripped the posters of him from her walls, cried in the shower, and then, in an ironic twist of fate, she'd had to fight an akuma later that evening which of course led to drowning her sorrows with orgasms thanks to her own secret boyfriend friend with benefits.

Anyway, she still has a crush on him but she's no homewrecker. Adrien has never looked happier and Marinette can't help but be happy for him, even if it makes her kind of miserable. She may not be part of his happiness but she still loves him enough to support him, even if it hurts like hell.

So Chat Noir it is. If she can't have the boy of her dreams, she may as well have the next best thing. Her partner and confidant, her equal in all things and the only person on the planet she can speak frankly with when it comes to this Miraculous world of monsters and magic. Kind and wholesome and utterly cheesy in every sense of the word, she probably has a lot more in common with Chat than her and Adrien ever would.

And it's with that realisation that spurs her to run home the second the bell rings and throw all caution to the wind, changing her clothes, transforming, and texting him as soon as she's launched herself from her balcony.

Ladybug
I want to talk to you.

She's covered two arrondissements by the time he responds.

CN
When?

Ladybug
Now, if you've got a minute.

CN
Where are you?

Ladybug
In the Latin Quartier. I can meet you somewhere else if that's easier.

CN
La Tour Eiffel in ten?

Ladybug
I'll be there.

~

She doesn’t hear so much as feels him land, the wrought iron lattice of la Tour Eiffel vibrating in response to his body weight. She shifts ever so slightly to acknowledge him as he sits down beside her, legs dangling over the drop off below.

“You wanted to talk?”

Marinette steels herself, “I want to apologise for being selfish. I shouldn't have put you in that situation yesterday.”

Chat nods, sensing that she isn't quite finished.

“I also wanted to tell you that I’m…I’m not…I want to keep doing this. Us.”

“Define ‘us’.”

Chat’s going in for the kill and Marinette honestly can’t blame him.

She swallows uncomfortably, “Friends. Partners. Maybe…something more.”

“Maybe?”

“For now,” she replies, swinging her feet back and forth, “I need time.”

“Okay…” he trails off, “So where does that leave us?”

“Exactly what we were before. Friends with benefits, except I’m going to try and be less of an idiot.”

He chuckles, “Could you repeat that? I couldn’t hear you.”

“I’m an idiot and I’m sorry,” she snarks back, pulling one leg up over the landing so she could lean closer.

“One more time?”

“Don’t push your luck kitty,” she grumbles, mock punching him in the arm. He nearly closes the gap between them, their noses brushing against each other. He looks down at her lips and smiles softly, his eyes bright with mischief.

“You know, it’s still broad daylight. Anyone could see us,” he whispers, his breath ghosting against her lips, “We could give them quite a show.”

Marinette bites her lip and watches as Chat slinks closer, a grin slowly spreading across his features. Of all the kinks Chat could have…

“It’s risky,” she murmurs, shivering as his hands card through her hair and slip down her shoulders.

“It’ll be fun,” he sing-songs, his nails skimming her back and sides, “Come on…”

Marinette leans into his ministrations, throwing her head back as he grazes his teeth against her jugular, “I still say it’s too risky.”

“I dare you,” he hums into her skin, “And you never back down from a challenge.”

“Using my words against me,” she chides breathlessly, “You’re awful.”

“But I’m your awful, if you’ll have me.”

She recoils just enough to look into his eyes and see the honesty, the desperation there. He wants to be hers, he wants her to claim him, be owned in every sense of the word.

Fuck.

She grabs him by the back of the neck, smashing their lips together, and it’s everything Marinette has ever wanted. God, she’s so needy, so needy for control and she climbs over top of him, situating herself in his lap and yes, this is what she’s been waiting for. She grabs two fistfuls of his hair and tugs, pulling his head back so she can deepen the kiss, consuming everything he’s willing to give her and he moans and cups her ass with his hands, pushing her body flush.

She grinds her centre against him and it feels amazing, the friction between their suits just right. He can feel every ridge of her body against him and he takes advantage of the way her nipples harden against his chest, pinching them between his forefingers and thumbs. She keens softly and contorts her body so he has better access to her chest, cupping and tweaking and flicking until she’s moaning with every breath. He loves making her sound this way, desperate and heady with pleasure, and the noises alone are enough to bring him to his knees.

“Please,” she cries against his lips, her movements increasing in tempo against him. He scrapes his claws down her stomach before removing his hands altogether so he can use them as leverage to grind her against him even faster. The friction between their suits and her clit is enough to drive her to distraction, throbbing and aching and overwhelming. It’s astounding how fast he can get her off, how his hands and lips can bring her to orgasm faster than she can believe. She latches her lips against his neck and sucks to give her something else to focus on, desperate to ride this out a little longer.

Chat groans as she nibbles his skin and screws his eyes shut at the pleasure/pain devastating his senses, the smell of her arousal and the sound of her cries overwhelming him. He’s this close to coming—

Marinette takes his earlobe into her mouth and sucks, “Come for me.”

The way she says it likes she owns him, like she controls him, sends him flying. He comes hard, screaming her name into her hair as his vision blanks and his body shudders; it feels like he’s both floating and drowning, the sensation of her against him overpowering. It feels like she’s everywhere and no where as she grinds against him one last time, stuttering a list of curses a mile wide as she comes herself and he tries to watch but his vision shimmers, his senses overwrought with stimulus and pleasure every time.

She’s still trembling when he opens his eyes, her body on his chest pressed against him. He smiles at the sight and turns his head to glance through the lattice, spotting a hoard of tourists pooled around the base of the tower. He opens his mouth to say something but eventually decides against it, proud of putting those social marketing skills of his to good use.

Later that night, when #LadyNoir trends so hard it nearly breaks the internet, Marinette can barely find it within herself to be embarrassed.

Instead…she kind of feels proud.

Chapter Text

9: Multiple Partners

They're three days into their school district's spring break when it happens.

Le Papillon, for all his ups and downs, could certainly deliver when he wanted to. Marinette almost wondered if he created silly and easily defeatable akuma from time to time just to lull them into a false sense of security, because this?

This one was a doozy.

He's never been known for having more than one akuma on the go but Le Papillon has certainly outdone himself this time. On top of Le Tireur and last week's La Pharmacienne, the corrupt Miraculous wielder has somehow managed to keep those two going whilst simultaneously akumatizing a pair of twins all at once.

"We are Gemini!" they shriek in tandem, mirroring each other's incantations as they made about sixteen copies of themselves. Marinette exchanges a glance with Chat and wishes she had the power to do the same.

"How on earth are we going to manage this one?” she asks, fiddling with the yoyo in her hands, “Two against thirty plus…not the best odds.”

“We’ll do as we’ve always done M’Lady,” he replies, taking one of her hands in his and offering a squeeze, “Achieve the impossible.”

Well, when he puts it like that…

Marinette grins and returns the squeeze, setting her sights back on the growing crowd of akumatised copies. With their yoyo and baton in hand, the two of them jump in guns a-blazing and knock out a fair few of them before getting overwhelmed.

“How many do you think there are?” she pants, taking one down with a swift kick to the solar plexus.

“Too many,” he grunts back, spinning his baton and striking two copies at once, “We’ve got to come up with a better plan.”

“Sounds good to me,” she replies, ducking beneath his basic sweep so she could wrap a hand around his waist. She flings her yoyo out towards the nearest balcony and wrenches them upwards, getting them out of harms way for the moment.

“What’s Plan B then?” he says, dropping out of her grasp. They watch as the twin in pink presses the butts of her palms together and aims a burst of energy at the other, effectively replicating the opposite twin. The twin in blue repeats the motion and Marinette suddenly has an idea.

“They can replicate each other but not themselves,” she muses, tapping her chin in thought, “If one of us can get close enough to them, maybe we can intercept the blast and—”

“I love this plan!” Chat claps his hands together, eyes alight, “I have always wanted a clone.”

Marinette raises a brow, “Is that so?”

“Mmhmm,” he replies, “Think of all the things you could get done with a clone! I mean, the clone could go to work and school and then I could be Chat Noir all the time!”

“I can think of other things I’d rather do…” Marinette says before she can stop herself. Chat stares at her agog for a moment before she brushes him off and points back down at the mass of akuma down below, “Come on, let’s get moving.”

“M’Lady,” he breathes, still looking at her as if she holds all the world’s secrets. Marinette just rolls her eyes and pushes him closer to the edge.

“Whoever gets close first takes the hit. It shouldn’t be too difficult if we make enough of a fuss. Let’s go!”

The two of them quickly go careening off the building and into the pile of vicious twins with a bone to pick, doing their best to fight their way over to the original set. Their pace is painstaking slow to be sure, but with the two of them working together as well as they do, their tandem attacks seem to eventually hit the spot. She’s volleying a series of punches when she sees an opening and juts her chin at Chat, signalling his chance.

“Go!” she cries, and Chat doesn’t need to be told twice. He dives into the line of fire and suddenly…

…there are three Chats.

Marinette pauses and thankfully the rest of the clones do the same, although not for the same reasons. While the twins scream in anguish at being played by their own fiddle, Marinette is trying not to imagine the possibilities of having two Chats under her influence, let alone three of them.

They make quick work of the twins after that, the three seemingly indomitable Chat Noirs obliterating the rest of the clones so that Marinette can focus on the twins themselves. She backs them up in a corner and manages to get one of their toques off their heads, ripping the hat in two and releasing the butterfly within. She captures and purifies the creature before setting her sights on the other, all too aware of her Miraculous beeping incessantly in her ear.

“M'Lady.”

She spins and takes in the sight of them.

One is leaning against the railing of the staircase, smiling impishly at her. The other idly spins his baton in his hand before holstering it, winking and licking his lips. The third bites his tongue and eyes her top to bottom, his gaze exposing every filthy thing running through his mind.

Putain de ta race.

“Chat?” Marinette’s felt arousal before but never quite as sudden and intense as this, “I have to recharge before I can capture the other akuma.”

“Of course M’Lady,” all three of them respond in chorus, prowling towards her, “Shall we save this one for later?”

Marinette gulps as she turns her attention back to the remaining akuma, throwing her yoyo and effectively binding it within the unbreakable string. Ignoring the unmistakable pounding between her thighs, she looks down at the purified twin holding his head and places her hand on his shoulder, “Are you all right?”

The man groans, “What happened?”

“You were akumatised,” she replies simply, desperately trying not to pay attention the three Chats standing behind her, “Your sister is still akumatised but I can’t purify her until I can recharge my power.”

The twin nods and stumbles upright, “What can I do?”

“I’ll stay here and keep them company,” one of the Chat clones volunteers, smiling easily at Marinette and the male twin, “I’m sure Ladybug won’t keep us waiting too long.”

Marinette glances at the other two Chats standing behind her and then back at the twin and his struggling sister, “Are you sure?”

“We’ll ménage just fine M’Lady. Off you go.”

Marinette gulps.

"I'll be back as soon as I'm recharged," she assures the man, watching as he tries to shake away the drowsiness. She gives the Chat clone a hard look for the pun before leaping onto the nearest rooftop balcony that’s hidden from sight, confident that the two remaining Chats would be following close behind.

She stops and leans against the balcony's railing and tries to ignore the giant lounging cushion littering the deck and its possibilities, “Which one of you is the real one?”

"Me,” the one on the left responds, running his fingers through his hair. The other sneaks in behind her and begins suckling on the exposed skin of her neck, leaving tiny marks to pepper her skin, “What do you say Ladybug? Just you and me and Chat, up here on the rooftops. Think of all the possibilities.”

“Yes,” she breathes hoarsely, throwing her head back, “Close your eyes so I can detransform.”

“As you wish,” the two of them say at once and Marinette’s never released her form so quickly in her life, thankful that she’s remembered her mask this time. She tosses her purse to the side, stuffed to the brim with cookies baked earlier this afternoon, and slips the mask over her ponytails. She lets him know she’s covered before affording him the same courtesy and when she opens her eyes, the real Chat has transformed back to his civilian self while the clone remains in his Miraculous form, standing side by side.

“Fuck me.” Yeesh.

Chat turns to his doppelganger and grins, “Shall we?”

They advance on her, the clone making quick work of her jeans while the real one captures her lips and kisses her, scraping his nails against her spine. She squirms as the clone pushes her jeans down her thighs and guides her feet out of the fabric pooling beneath her, freeing them completely.

“What do you think M’Lady?” Chat purrs against her skin, “Should he fuck you while I kiss you senseless? The decision is yours.”

Marinette can’t help the way her hands make their way to her core, skimming against the cotton and lace, “I want you two to kiss.”

The real Chat’s eyes widen behind the toy mask, his mouth parting to make the perfect O. He looks down at his clone and makes eye contact briefly before staring back at Marinette, “What?”

Marinette feels emboldened by his surprise, happily gaining the upper hand, “Kiss each other. I want to watch.”

Chat considers for a moment, his expression uncertain.

“Please?”

That word seems to break his resolve, shaking him out of his reverie. His clone gets back to his feet and Chat closes the gap between them, taking a deep breath before pressing his lips to his. Marinette collapses down onto the mattress sized cushion and thanks every deity in the sky for giving her this moment to fuel her dreams for the next twenty years. She slips her fingers beneath the waistband of her panties and presses her fingers against her clit, entirely unsurprised to find herself sopping wet.

She moans and the sound seems to spur them, egging on their performance further, the two boys pressing ever closer. Their kiss gains an aggressive edge, all teeth and claws and hard angles as they begin to devour each other, their fingers and tongues waging war. The real Chat reaches down and grinds against his counterpart, relishing in the sweet friction against their thighs.

“Chat!”

Marinette's orgasm comes out of nowhere and she falls back against the cushion, her body and legs contorted in ecstasy. The Chats break apart to watch her and the real Chat wastes no time in stripping his clothes off as she quivers around her fingers, milking the last waves of her orgasm. He comes up behind her then just as the clone crawls between her legs, their lips wet and swollen and eager to please.

Beckoning her to her knees, the clone strips her of her top and panties as the real Chat caresses the planes of her abdomen from behind her, latching onto the hollow behind her jaw. He sucks and nibbles her to a frenzy as she tries to get her bearings, thighs still wobbly from what would have to go down as the fastest orgasm in her personal history. The Chat in front of her unclips her bra and immediately goes to town on her chest, pinching and lapping and tugging ever so gently with his teeth, watching her face all the while.

The Chat behind her grips her hips and tugs her hair, enticing her body to arch as much as possible, her head and ass jutting backwards in a perfect curve. She grits her teeth in anticipation as he rubs his cock against her folds, seeking entrance and when he slowly languidly finally sinks into her it feels incredible.

“image”

“Yes…” she hisses as he pulls out, teasing her with his tip before thrusting hard, ramming her forward into Chat’s waiting mouth. He skims her stomach and sides with his fingernails as he continues to tease her nipples and reaches down between her legs, tracing her lips and scraping her thighs. Every thrust drives another moan through her lips, his rhythm eager and consistent, decadently unrestrained.

The Chat in front of her grazes her clit and the pressure pulls her body taut, overwhelming her senses. Keeping his hand between her thighs, he uses the other to pull her hair back, capturing her lips in a sloppy embrace. The one behind captures her breasts with his palms and kneads them, clipping her nipples between the pads of his fingers with every thrust and god, it feels like she’s being consumed, like she can’t tell where one Chat ends and where the other begins, sandwiched between them in some hedonistic ritual that’s driving her crazy and oh, oh, oh…!

He swallows her screams with his mouth and she tampers his screams with her shoulder and at least two of the three of them reach a crescendo of pleasure together, glorious and with abandon, and she feels him come inside of her and she feels him tweak her clit and fuck, fuck! she’s coming again and it’s even more powerful than before, knocking her right out of her body and into some celestial headspace because fuck, it feels like she’s gone and died in the best way possible, floating and quaking and ah!

Some minutes later the three of them attempt to come to, sprawled and sated on the cushion like a Renaissance painting, self indulgent and utterly debauched. It’s only when a tiny voice makes itself known somewhere to their left that Marinette tries to sit up and take it all in.

“Ladybug, if uh…if you’re about done now, I’m ready to transform!”

Marinette nods and blinks owlishly, looking back down at the two Chats still slouched against the cushion, smirking in unison.

Akuma or no, this was by far the best day of her life.

Chapter Text

       10: Hurt/Comfort

There’s fire everywhere.

Marinette skids to a stop on her back, her body having been flung off the side of a collapsing building and the crash and the noise…everything is too much. There’s something heavy weighing her down, a piece of debris probably, and she uses her legs to push it off her, revealing the carnage of the world.

There’s a high pitch noise filling her ears and the feedback, combined with the muffled sounds of everything else, gives her vertigo. She’s overwhelmed with the acid crawling up her throat as she rolls onto her stomach, clambering through the debris on her elbows, hands and knees.

Her voice sounds far away as she groans and pushes herself to her feet, stumbling backwards in an attempt to catch her balance. Her ears are screeching, her mind is racing and her legs feel like they’re going to dissolve out from underneath of her, leaving her helpless.

From the corner of her eye she spots him, slinking down the side of the Panthéon with his weapon strapped to his back. He runs at her and she’s not prepared, her defensive stance easily crumbling as he uses the butt of his weapon to whip across her body, sending her flying back into the burning ruins. She lands hard on her shoulders and desperately scrambles to get back to her feet, her vision swimming in the waves of heat coming from the fires.

She tries to regain her footing but he’s too quick, kicking her and pinning her to the ground. Using his weapon, he smashes it down towards her face and Marinette has just enough energy left to dodge his blows, twisting her upper body side to side beneath the foot bearing most of his body weight on her chest. Then, using his grappling hook, he launches himself in the air with her in tow and drops her from a four-storey height, chuckling as she disappears into the fiery ruins with a cloud of dust.

He lands and finds her prone within the rubble, picking her up by the collar of her neck and she hangs there, unable to move, exhausted and barely holding on to her transformation, grasping at straws. She doesn’t want to go out like this, not with the fate of her partner resting on her shoulders, bleeding out somewhere where she’d hoped he’d be safe. But now, with the building completely in ruins, she’s not even sure there will be anything left to save.

“Many have said that I’d made a deal with the devil,” Le Tireur laughs as he drops her, her body collapsing like a sack of gravel to the cobblestones, “This Papillon, this man that wears people like masks. I don’t think he knew what he was in for when he tried to possess me.”

He circles her as she presses her palms against the wreckage and attempts to push her chest upright, “You, on the other hand, are a fighter. I like that,” he smirks and tips her chin up with the muzzle of his weapon so she can look him in the eye, “I’m a hunter you know. When I was a boy, my father used to take me into the woods. We’d hunt for wild boar and deer all sorts of other creatures. It felt good to shoot them, to cut them open and skin them, to hang them and eat their meat. It's all about the thrill of the chase.”

Marinette struggles to find purchase on the crumbling rocks, “I am not your prey.”

“Ah, but you are. I’ve been watching you Ladybug, tracking your whereabouts around the city. I know where you live, I know where you go to school,” he grins, exposing his perfect white teeth, “You ought to be more careful, not that it matters. Le Papillon wanted these stupid earrings and once I have them in my possession, you won’t be much of a problem any longer.”

Marinette grits her teeth and spots the flaming façade of the Panthéon swaying behind him. She swallows uncomfortably and gets to her hands and knees, her eyes glued to the building, “It’s going to fall.”

“You are going to fail,” Le Tireur gloats, flicking the safety on his weapon before aiming it at her.

“Turn around!” she cries, her eyes growing wider as the building begins to keel, scrambling backwards. Le Tireur stands his ground and laughs, peering down the front sight of his weapon with a sneer.

“Time to end this little game Ladybug,” he smirks, aiming the weapon at her forehead.

“I’m trying to save you!” she screams, fumbling for the yoyo holstered at her waist.

It’s too late.

The building comes crashing down like a collapsing wave, the bottom stories crumbling beneath the weight of the top of the structure, the sound of chaos deafening in her ears. She scrambles to her feet and runs as fast as she can away from the Panthéon, away from the man she tried to save as he turns around and watches as the stones rain down upon him, crushing him completely.

“NOOOOO!” she screams, collapsing to her knees from the force of the shock wave. She fumbles against a huge piece of marble and pulls herself upright, turning to rush back into the fire, to try and save him.

It’s too late.

It’s silent for a long moment, the feedback and the fire and the smoke filling her senses. It’s dark and the fire is blinding in the nighttime, forcing her to squint and look away. Her body aches as she stands, her head lolling on her shoulders as she faces the fire and the carnage and wishes she’d never opened that damn box. The power of a Miraculous gone wrong is what caused this, this destruction, this chaos, this utter and complete loss of life. The power of the Ladybug could only do so much…she didn’t know if it could bring people back from the dead.

Somewhere Chat was laying against a wall with a group of others he'd managed to save, a handkerchief anchored by a scarf wrapped around a wound in his abdomen. Dizzy and unsteady, she wonders if he's still alive, if anyone was still alive after all this.

Using the debris to help her forward, Marinette stumbles through the rubble and spots her lucky charm several metres away. Her mind is swimming as she trips over a steel support beam and falls to her knees but she’s determined to get there, determined to throw that thing up into the sky if it’s the last thing she does. Every step takes a week, every stumble lasts a month; time is buckling beneath the weight of her head and shoulders and arms and legs, distorting and twisting every thought and sound. She stares at the fire extinguisher, the one she’d had to use to save Chat instead of defeating her enemy and reaches for it, watching it flicker out of reach like a mirage and appearing again some metres away. She chases it, finally grasps it, and tosses it up with as much energy as she can muster, watching the ladybugs fly.

~

They meet the next day under the veil of moonlight.

They’re tucked into one of the more secluded areas of Le jardin des Tuileries, not that it matters. There’s no one walking around a park at 0200 in the morning, especially not when a psychopath had nearly razed it to the ground less than twenty-four hours ago.

The citizens of Paris were a resilient people, their Ville Lumière having survived thousands of years of destruction and war, famine and besiegement. Typically, the citizens simply pulled up their socks after an akuma attack, happy to have Ladybug there to save the day.

What they hadn’t banked on was the rest.

The people who were hurt or killed in last night’s attack were all right of course, but their memories remained. They didn’t simply forget like the akuma all so often did, shaking their heads clear and going about their day; the people affected, and there were many, bore a different kind of scar.

Chat Noir was one of those people.

They sit against the base of a tree, their legs crossed and their shoulders hunched. Chat presses a palm against the lower left side of his abdomen and breathes.

“I think I died,” he says simply, as if he were commenting on the weather. His tone is hollow though and he keeps his eyes fixed on the grass in front of him, still and unblinking.

She feels the blood drain from her face as she tangles her fingers with his, squeezing gently.

“It felt like falling asleep,” he murmurs, his voice softening to a whisper, “I just closed my eyes and then…”

He trails off and Marinette has never felt such a pain in her chest, the hurt deeper than any of the burns and wounds she’d gotten fighting Le Tireur the night prior.

“When I came to, I had changed back,” he shrugs wearily, “It was like nothing had happened but…I can still feel it…does that make sense? It’s gone, but I can still feel where it went through my stomach.”

She can’t help it anymore and turns her body towards him, pulling him into her chest. He collapses against her, his upper body overtaking hers as she leans back against the tree, taking the brunt of the blow. She encircles him with her arms and presses her cheek against the crown of his head and every breath is a reminder of how much she could have lost, how much she has at stake with or without him. It aches and every muscle in her body sings with it, every throb of her heart pounding in her ears proof that she couldn't do this without him, wouldn't do this without him.

He takes a deep, shuddering breath and tries to keep his emotions at bay. She senses his turmoil amidst her own and cards the fingers of her right hand through his hair, keeping the left firmly wrapped around him.

"I thought he was going to kill me," she says softly, gently kneading the gloved pads of her fingers against his scalp, "He aimed at me and..."

"You've always had luck on your side," he replies, his voice muffled against her chest. She kisses the top of his head and it's a tender gesture she'd never thought she'd offer him, not before today.

"It didn't feel that way yesterday," she rubs circles on his back, "I thought I'd lost you."

"You did," he replies, "I failed you. I couldn't protect you."

She hugs him harder, "I wouldn't have been able to defeat him without your help."

"You found a way…you always do."

It's rare to see this side of him, the side that hides behind the confident facade of his mask. He's shared little anecdotes with her over the years about his civilian life, about how he's never been good enough, of how he misses what it's like to be wanted. She knows he has a good group of friends who love him, who know what his father is like, and he’s always had her. She buries her nose in his hair and breathes deeply, the smell of his shampoo and the pressure of his body against her comforting in the chill.

"I would have been dead without you and you know it. Don't you dare sell yourself short."

He hums and resettles his head against her chest, his voice less muffled this time, "Is that an order?"

She hesitates, "It's a request. I know what you're worth. You should too."

"It's hard sometimes," he mumbles and buries his face back into her chest, miserable. Something rears inside of her, ugly and fierce and it wants to protect him from the world. She brackets his body in between her thighs to stabilise them and slides her hand down towards his cheek, cupping his chin so she can lift him to face her.

"You have all the makings of a supervillain you know, and yet here you are. You’ve got an evil dad, you’ve got the power to destroy things and bad luck's curse? You chose to be good and you are good! Your friends love you, Paris loves you, like, do you know how many fans you have?" she rubs her thumb back and forth against his cheekbone with a smile, "And most importantly, what would Ladybug be without her Chat Noir?"

"She would still save Paris," he says, his small smile not quite reaching his eyes.

"When we first started out, Tikki told me about how Ladybug needed Chat Noir. I didn't understand until she explained how our magic works, that we're two sides of the same coin. I'd be unbalanced without you, the yang without its yin. And it’s not just the magic though. Believe it or not, I do actually enjoy your company.”

"What about my jokes?" he says and finally, there's that spark behind his eyes.

"Definitely not your jokes. I hate your jokes."

"But I purrfect them just for you."

"No."

"I've got a gut feline that you're just saying that."

"No."

"I can tail that you love them!"

"Hush Chaton. You're impawsible."

"So you do love my jokes!" his face lights up like a Christmas tree and it makes him look younger, that innocent and naïve and childlike Chat from so many years ago. They'd changed quite a bit since then, grown older and wiser from the responsibilities they'd accepted, back when they were young. She had no idea what she was getting into when she’d accepted the Miraculous she now wore in her ears, and she wonders if Chat thinks about it too, about how much easier their lives would have been if not for the tangled web they’d been weaved into without really knowing much about it at all.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she retorts, trying her best to look serious. It’s hard when he’s smiling the way he is now, his nose a hair’s breadth from hers, his eyes brimming with mirth and something else.

“Yes you do,” he croons, brushing his nose against hers. It’s such a silly gesture but there’s an intimacy to it, one that makes her blood sing with emotions she’s not entirely familiar with. It feels amazing, whatever it is, and it makes her want to pull him even closer.

“You’re hallucinating,” she nuzzles him back, the tips of their noses bumping together.

His smile softens, “There’s no illusion on earth that could compete with your beauty M’Lady.”

She rolls her eyes and pokes his cheek with her finger, “You’re such a weirdo.”

“But I’m your weirdo, if you’ll have me.”

It’s that line again, the one that makes her toes curl and her fingers tingle with fervour. She closes her eyes and rests her forehead against his, a slow grin taking over her lips.

“Yes. Everything and more.”

Chapter Text

         11: Fantasy

Things have been different since last weekend, to say the least.

Beyond the unusually sombre atmosphere of the city and the renewed public controversy on just how far reaching Ladybug’s powers actually were, Marinette could sense a palpable difference in the air. People were a little more cautious, a little less willing to place their trust one another. It was like Charlie Hebdo all over again, except instead of rallies and demonstrations and angry protests, there was silence in the streets.

The only good thing to come out of all this was that Le Papillon hadn’t been heard from in a week. After sitting down with Master Fu and confirming that yes, it was possible for akuma to go rogue on certain occasions, they both suspected he was still licking his wounds.

There’s only a few days left of Spring Break and her and Chat are spending their free evening watching the sunset on the rooftop of the Notre Dame de Paris together, lounging in amidst the buttresses and snacking on day old pastries. She’s brought a seemingly endless supply of cookies and croissants and chocolate treats along with her and Chat simply can’t get enough.

“Alright, next question. You’re up.”

Marinette hums thoughtfully as she chews on a cookie, “What’s your favourite subject at school?”

Chat leans back and soaks up the last rays of light, “That’s easy. Physics and phys ed. You?”

“French and Visual Arts.”

Chat nods thoughtfully, “I’ve never seen you draw before.”

“Well, it’s pretty inspiring up here. Maybe I can bring a sketchpad with me one day.”

“I’d love to watch,” he says, his voice nothing but genuine and it makes her head spin, “Alright, my turn. Celebrity crush.”

“Hmm,” she brushes the crumbs from her chest and shifts her hips slightly, “I have a few.”

“Okay…who are they?”

“Christiano Ronaldo for sure. His body…phew!” she pretends to fan herself and Chat laughs at her antics, grabbing another croissant.

“I guess I better lay off these if I want to compete,” he takes a bite anyway and Marinette rolls her eyes, “I agree by the way. His abs are mystical.”

“You’re not so bad yourself,” she smirks, delighting in the way he blushes.

"M'Lady humours me," he mumbles and shoves the rest of the croissant in his mouth.

"Always," she winks, "Also, I know this is weird but I think The Weeknd has really good music. I'm not attracted to him like, sexually I guess? It's more of a talent crush."

"Weird choice, but no judgement. I feel like that but with Stromae. Oh, and Harry Styles."

"Right? It's not love but it's like, I'm attracted to his talent."

"Totally," he nods understandingly, "Anyone else?"

"Well...she trails off, "I'm sure it's a pretty common crush given the way his face is plastered all over the place, but Adrien Agreste. He's gorgeous."

Chat chokes, "Adrien Agreste?!"

Marinette raises an eyebrow, "Have you never heard of him? He's a high fashion model with the Agreste house of fashion. He’s super hot, and nice too, apparently."

Chat pointedly stares at a blinking tower in the distance and makes a noise of acknowledgement around a mouthful of croissant. Marinette eyes him suspiciously before continuing.

"He's pretty popular and he's my age," Marinette continues, "Not that I'd have a chance with him. Rumour has it that he has a secret girlfriend."

Chat makes an odd coughing sound into his fist, "Really?"

Marinette shrugs, "I think he has to keep it a secret or his fans will go crazy. I mean, everyone knows who he is, even in the U.S.A. He's even been to Hollywood! He did a shoot there back in December with Karlie Kloss."

"What? How do you...that shoot isn't even published..."

"So you do know who he is! I knew it!" Marinette giggles, batting his arm, "I have to admit, I'm a pretty huge fan."

Chat’s brows begin to knit together, "Do you know him?"

Marinette freezes and begins to backtrack, knowing that she's said too much, "I might be in the same school district as him. I have friends who know him."

"And they told you he has a girlfriend?” he frowns deeply, “Some friends they are."

Marinette sighs, "Alright, look. Ignore that bit, I was just trying to hide my identity but...seeing as how there’s over 1,500 people at my school and you've already told me you're in Trocadéro, well, I guess I can return the favour and be honest. I...actually go to the same school as Adrien. That's how I know."

"Really?” Chat replies, his expression suddenly stunned, “Still, it's kind of disappointing that one of his friends is spilling details about his personal life. "

Marinette smacks both hands over her face and groans into her palms, "Alright alright, I know Adrien personally okay? Well, in passing I guess. He's been in my classes before. He's super chill for a celebrity, like really down to earth. And he's really smart too, his grades are super high."

"You seem to know a lot about him."

"Not really. I'd try and flirt with him but, you know, secret model girlfriend and all. And he's a celebrity! Celebrity crushes are totally impossible!"

"He has a secret model girlfriend?"

"Well, he said that he met her at work so she must be a model,” she taps her chin, “I wonder if it's Karlie."

"Why didn't you let him know you had a crush in him!?"

"He’s Adrien Agreste Chat! Everyone has a crush on him! It's like how everyone loves Jagged Stone! And when he told us that the girl he had a crush on had finally agreed to give him a chance? What kind of girl would hesitate to give him a chance? She must be crazy, whoever she is."

Chat makes an odd muffled sound of agreement, "Yeah. She must be."

"Anyway, your turn. Who is your celebrity crush?"

Chat gulps audibly, "Besides you M'lady?"

"Yes Chat, besides me."

"Um..." he seems distracted, "Penelope Cruz."

"Good choice. She's very beautiful."

"Right?" he nods, slowly shaking off his mood, "And Adriana Lima."

"Seems you have a type."

"Don't judge! Love has no age limit, M'Lady. Love transcends time, love conquers all!"

Marinette rolls her eyes at his theatrics, "You're such a dork."

"Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" he leaps to his feet, sweeping his arms towards the sunset, "Thou art more lovely and more temperate than...than..."

Marinette giggles as he flounders, forgetting the words, "It matters not M'Lady. There is no force greater than that of love, of that I can assure you."

"Don't quit your day job," she laughs as he sits back down, a grin splitting his face in two. His hair looks even more dishevelled and golden in the waning light, "My turn. Describe your perfect day."

"My perfect day? That’s a good one," he contemplates, taking another cookie, "Well, it would be a school day. I would go and see my friends and then at lunch, I would go for a picnic in the gardens with the love of my life. We'd eat all of our favourite foods and lay in the sunlight, laughing and telling jokes, and then I would kiss her slowly. Then, we'd go back to school and finish classes and then after school, we would hold hands and walk to her house and do homework together and she'd take me up to her balcony and we would kiss for hours until the sun set behind the horizon and the stars light up the sky."

Marinette is lost in the way the pink rays of dusk kiss his skin, the way his eyes light up as he describes his perfect day with the woman she could never be. The lightness she’s felt for hours begins to fade.

"You've clearly thought about this a lot," she says quietly and Chat faces her again, his eyes shining.

"I have. It was just a fantasy before but I think one day soon, it may just happen."

Chapter Text

       12: Foreplay

It's lunchtime on the first day back at school after spring break and it’s warmer than normal for this time of year. As a result, the four of them are settled beneath the shade of an old oak tree in the courtyard outside for the first time this year, chatting quietly and eating their lunches. Adrien sits cross-legged across from Alya and Nino in Versace jeans and a Kelly-green Pierre Balmain cashmere sweater that brings out the colour of his eyes; Marinette tries not to marvel at him the yarn grade of the fabric.

"That's the thing!" Alya gesticulates wildly, "No one knows what happened! No one was there to film it, no one actually saw Ladybug defeat him. We don't even know what happened to the guy!"

"She's been talking about this non-stop by the way," Nino points to her with his thumb, harried like he’s heard this a thousand times before, "She's full-on obsessed."

“It’s insane! Everything is insane!”

“It’s been a week Alya.”

“I don’t care! I’ve been moderating thousands of comments non-stop on the LadyBlog. I’m going to need to hire an assistant at this rate.”

“Don’t look at me,” Nino takes a bite from his sandwich, “I’ve got a real job.”

“Why wait tables when you could work with me? Think of all the fun we could have—”

“And that’s enough of that,” Marinette interrupts, spinning leftover pasta around her fork, “Can we change the subject?”

“No, we can’t. I need to know what happened and I’m not going to stop until I can figure it out.”

"I wouldn’t worry too much about it," Adrien shrugs, forking a strip of chicken breast.

"Easy for you to say," Alya interjects, "You weren't even here!"

“Yeah man, you didn’t see the craziness first hand, it was wild. Where were you anyway?”

“Monaco, and I still saw it on the news, my phone was blowing up for hours. But Ladybug saved the day, and she always will," he turns to Marinette and smiles, "I trust her to do the right thing. She’s certainly saved all our skins a million times before. Remember troisième?"

Nino nods in agreement, “Dude, it was like everyone got akumatised.”

“Everyone except the two of you,” Alya pouts at Marinette, “I always wondered what you would turn into.”

“Lady Croissant?” Nino snickers and Marinette goes to throw her fork at him, “No no, Madame Macaron! How dare the people of Paris snack on potato chips and hamburgers when they can eat sweets!”

“That’s ridiculous,” Marinette stabs the end of her fork into Nino’s arms and he falls over in mock-pain, holding his ‘wounded’ appendage, “How would that even work? Why would I be mad enough about macarons to get akumatised?”

“No, Marinette would definitely be akumatised by Chloe,” Alya says, bunting her boyfriend with her elbow, “Honestly though, how have you not been akumatised by her already?”

“Beats me,” Marinette shrugs and gets back to her pasta, “I guess I’m just lucky.”

Adrien gives her a funny look and Marinette returns it, “Are you all right?”

“Hm?” Adrien blinks slowly, “Yeah no, I was just imagining what you would look like as Madame Macaron. Bright pink dress maybe? Would you throw macarons at people?”

“Enough about Madame Macaron,” she shakes her head in playful indignation, “Why aren’t you making fun of him? He hasn’t been akumatised either.”

Nino and Alya turn to Adrien and pause to consider.

“Monsieur La Mode? You could like, target the hipsters or something.”

Adrien gives him an incredulous look, “Really? That’s the best you can come up with? I’m thinking more like Le Blagueur!”

Marinette raises a brow and takes another bite of her pasta, “What? How is that an evil superpower?”

“I would tell really bad puns until the city of Paris gave into my demands!”

“Well, considering someone almost took over the city with a flock of pigeons, I guess that could work,” Alya nods approvingly, “I like it.”

“Right?” he sides up to Marinette and bumps her shoulder with her own, watching the blush spread across her cheeks, “Think of the pastabilities.”

Marinette rolls her eyes and sticks her tongue out at him, “One more pun from you today and I’ll—”

“Now now, don’t be a putain-esca.”

Nino oooohs as Marinette scooches closer, eyeing Adrien fiercely.

“A putain-esca? Really? That’s all you’ve got?”

Adrien narrows his eyes and grins, “You’re right, can we put this little disagreement pastas?”

“Pho the love of god, stop it.”

“Ooo! She gives as good as she gets! Go ahead, penne for your thoughts?”

“Your puns are soba-d.”

“I dough’t know what you’re talking about. My puns are amazing.”

“Alright, I’m done,” she aims her fork at him and Adrien artfully dodges out of the way, “What has gotten into you today?”

“I’m sorry, I’m just doing it fusilli reasons.”

“UGH!”

Marinette throws her hands in the air and looks over towards Alya, who’s happily videotaping the whole exchange on her mobile while Nino watches over her shoulder and nods in appreciation.

“You too? Ugh,” she flops backwards onto the grass and stares up at the sky beyond the leaves of the tree, feeling the warmth creep up into her skin. It’s the heat she so often attributes to her powers as Ladybug, the one that begs to be as close to the Chat Miraculous as possible. Licking her lips, she wonders why it’s suddenly flaring now and hopes to goodness it isn’t because she’s subconsciously associating Adrien’s little pun war with Chat, because that? That would be humiliating.

~

“I had the best day at school today.”

Marinette lands beside Chat at their usual starting position for Monday Night Patrol, “Yeah?”

“I did! It was awesome,” he flicks his hair out of his face and settles in his usual hunch, “I got to hang out with my friends again. I haven’t seen them in ages.”

Marinette nods and sits down on the ledge he’s perched on, “I haven’t seen my friends in a while either. It was nice to catch up.”

“Right?” Chat smiles and Marinette catches his silhouette in the moonlight, “It felt like normal again.”

Marinette pulls her leg up, tucking her thigh against her abdomen, “It’s starting to feel like it. I’m glad the news is focusing on other things now, like this heat wave.”

“It’s been warm for April hasn’t it?” Chat replies, looking like he wants to tug at his own collar. Like hers, his magical suit is fused to his body and she can only imagine how hot he must get when he’s inside it during the summer months.

“Do you like the heat?”

“I don’t mind it,” he shrugs, “I get a mean tan every summer when I go to St. Barths. But I also like the cooler weather.”

“Wait, what? You go to St. Barths every summer?!”

Chat’s eyes go wide, “Uh, well. I mean, not every summer. I’ve been there like, twice and I, I was just exaggerating because, you know, I…I do that sometimes. Anyway, enough about me. Let’s go patrol the mean streets of Paris!”

Chat leaps off the ledge and disappears into the night before Marinette can even come up with a reply. She’s baffled more than anything; St. Barths is expensive!

She leaps after him and they fall into an easy rhythm after a while, joking and cajoling each other into doing silly parkour inspired tricks across the city. There’s no real rush or sense of urgency; Le Papillon is still AWOL and the streets are fairly quiet, meaning that there isn’t a whole lot going happening to worry about, and it suits the two of them just fine.

The heat beneath her skin is back and soon they’re leaping across rooftops side by side, never less than a metre away. The itch always pulls them back into each other’s orbits until they eventually collide, driven together by the magical forces between them, not unlike that of gravity. Conceding, they pause to catch their breath at Le Perchoir Marais, a rooftop lounge in St. Gervais that’s become a bit of an icon in their personal history.

After all, it’s where this whole mess started in the first place.

“Remember the first time we landed here?”

Marinette blushes profusely, staring at the couches made of wooden pallets, “Mmhmm.”

Chat steps into her personal space and grazes his claws along her arms, “I thought it was the best night of my life.”

Marinette plants her hands on her hips, “What?”

“That is,” he closes the gap between them and weaves his fingers with her own, pulling her closer, “Until the next night, and then the one after that. In fact, every night we’ve been together has far surpassed the night before it.”

Marinette smirks and shakes her head, “You are such a romantic.”

“You say it like it’s a bad thing M’Lady.”

“Love doesn’t just happen Chat. You’ve got to work at it, it takes time and patience and two people who actually want to make it work.”

“Well, I think I have my side of it down pat,” he says, gesturing for her to take a seat. She does and he sits down beside her, the moonlight catching the subtly mirth in his expression.

“You know how I feel about this,” she cautions and Chat just shrugs.

“Who’s saying we’re even having this conversation? I’d much rather be doing other things with my mouth anyway.”

Marinette is grateful for the change of subject, “Yeah? Like what?”

“Like this,” he purrs and captures her lips with his own, the itch of his Miraculous rearing its head. She grabs onto the back of his neck and quickly pries his lips open with a swift flounce of her tongue, diving in with vigour. He responds in kind, both of them clearly consumed by the itch, but there’s a different edge to it that softens Chat’s kisses and his gentleness only makes her more and more restless.

He breaks apart to breathe, "Do you remember the first time I swept you off your feet—"

"I'm pretty sure I swept you off yours, if I remember correctly."

"Semantics, Ladybug. Now, as I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted—"

"You kind of collapsed against that railing over there—"

"When we first kissed against the railings—"

"And I had to haul you upright because I thought you were fainting—"

"It was the most magical moment of my life up until that instant —"

"And I thought you were going to cry—"

"My knees were weak knowing that I had finally gotten my wish—"

"It was kind of funny to be honest—”

“Have I ever told you how sexy it is when you talk over me like that?”

“Yeah? I can think of plenty of other things I’d rather be doing over top of you.”

Chat gulps, “Is this your way of telling me to shut up?”

“Is that not obvious?”

Chat goes to open his mouth in reply but she is so done, so done with him talking. She feels things when he talks and she’d rather not feel anything but the feel of his body against hers, his skin against her skin. When her emotions were promptly thrown onto the backburner, things were so much easier; after all, having sex with him was so much easier than making love.

“Let's do something productive with that mouth of yours,” she mutters, pushing him onto his back on the pallet couch. She covers his eyes with one hand and detransforms, using the other to slip the mask on over her head. She’s already wearing a skirt and hastily pulls her panties down past her thighs, flicking them onto the cocktail table to her left. She’s finally rendered him speechless, what with the way she nearly tears her skirt off as she crawls closer to him and, seeing nothing but pure eagerness in his expression, she presses her clit to his face and lets him do what he does best.

For all his terrible jokes, he certainly has a talented tongue and god, the way he runs it against her lower lips and uses his nose to spread her open is perfect in every way. It's been ages since they've done this, ages since they've just decompressed together and fucked each other without a care in the world, ages since they just gave in to the itch. Too many emotions this week, too much of everything and Marinette forcefully shuts her mind down so she can just concentrate on his tongue and teeth and lips.

She grinds down against him and he grips her thighs, the pads of his fingers pressing bruises into her skin. She likes it a little rough, likes the juxtaposition of pleasure and pain that forces her to focus on nothing but him and he exploits it, knows it and takes advantage of it, grazing his teeth against her clit. She throws her head back and keens at the way he soothes the sting, alternating between licking and sucking with his lips. His pace is torturous, slow and purposely inconsistent, and it's driving her insane.

Frustrated, she bucks her hips and he gets the hint, reaching back and scratching his fingernails against her ass and thighs. It feels good and keeps her centered, keeps her focused on the pleasure and not on the identity of the boy underneath her, eager and impossible.

Intrinsically, he senses her flickering focus and ups the ante, doing things with his tongue she's never felt before. She wonders what kind of things he had to watch in order to learn them and imagines what he'd look like stroking himself, imagines that snap he'd sent her a few weeks ago with his hand around his cock.

Eyes closed, she braces one hand on the rooftop railing and busies the other with her breast, pinching her nipple through the lace of her bralette. The sensation makes her practically gush into Chat's mouth, the friction delicious as she closes her eyes and begins to lose control of her rhythm. He takes the reins and keeps her going, urging her closer and closer to release and god, it feels good when he hums against her just like that and yes, Chat, right there, faster, oh!

Marinette arches her back and comes, heedless of the sounds she's making. She loses control of her hips and grinds down, a victim to the way her toes are curling and her lips are screaming, lost in the sensation. It feels amazing and sucks the life out of her all at once, all encompassing and addictive.

Coming down and still shaking, she manages to sit back on her haunches and happily lets Chat manipulate her body to free himself. Her limbs feel like rubber, sated and debauched, and she shivers at the way he licks his lips and grins.

"I love it when you scream my name like that," he gloats and Marinette's not quite working at all cylinders yet and grunts at him in response.

“Chat got your tongue?”

Marinette just glares at him, mentally daring him to make another stupid joke. He laughs and crawls forward instead, kissing her chastely before responding.

“Care to return the favour?”

Chapter Text

        13: Dry humping

The heat.

It’s the end of April and it’s so so hot. Local news stations are calling the heat wave Lucifer and they’re not wrong; it feels like Marinette is both literally and figuratively stuck in hell, what with the way she feels.

The itch.

It’s completely taken over. She feels it from the moment she wakes up to the moment her body finally relinquishes every night. She dreams about it, wakes up wet and restless with it, tries to use her fingers to feed it and just ends up frustrated with it.

It was only a matter of time before it boiled over.

~

“Get in here.”

The alley near the passages was narrow and barely held enough room for the two of them. Chat doesn’t protest as she muscles him into the backstreet, digging her fingers into the flesh of his forearm with enough force to bruise and he can tell that she’s positively seething.

He shakes her off once they’re hidden in the darkness of the alleyway and stands across her, watching her features closely. Marinette is arguing with herself internally, want and need and a myriad of other emotions coursing through her veins like a fever, vying for dominance. Chat was hers and hers alone and no one, no one had the right to touch him the way she touched him. She shoves him against the wall.

“Ladybug, what’s going on?”

Marinette grabs two handfuls of hair and smashes her lips and against his, all teeth and tongue, and releases the fury she’s been feeling. Surprised, Chat yelps and the sound is trapped in the back of his throat, trapped by the ferocity of her embrace and the way she takes control of him like a puppeteer, fully and completely. He surrenders himself to her and snakes his hands around her waist, letting himself be consumed.

She finally breaks the kiss and she can feel his gasps against her lips, his heartbeat against the palm she has pressed against his neck. His lips are swollen and red and the evidence of their exchange glistens in the meagre light that filters down through the cracks in the walls.

“They can’t have you,” she says and she can’t believe the words coming out of her mouth, uncontrollable and fuelled by the swell of possessive heat overpowering her common sense and blistering her skin, “I will not share you.”

“Ladybug, calm down—”

Marinette doesn’t grace him with a response, gripping his neck harder and reigniting the kiss between them. It’s less violent but still fierce in its design, desperate and unshakable, and she digs her fingers into the short hairs at the nape of his neck and scratches apologies into his skin.

“They want you,” she whispers, desperation and need clawing at her chest. She sounds ridiculous and she knows it.

“We’ve been in the spotlight for years Ladybug. That’s just the way it is.”

She swallows, suddenly feeling a bit silly. She doesn’t know what this feeing is that’s washing over her, “I think it’s the Miraculous.”

“You think?” he asks with incredulity, “You don’t see me hauling you into a dark alley and smashing you against the wall.”

Marinette frowns and still doesn’t relent against him, their bodies completely entwined, “You don’t feel it?”

“Oh, I feel it,” he chuckles darkly against her lips, his nose brushing against hers, “I’ve just gotten used to ignoring it.”

“How?”

“I respect you enough not to push it. It’s not like you haven’t told me how you feel.”

Another wave of possessiveness washes over her and she feels ashamed. She exhales, shuddering, “I want you now.”

“Not all of me,” he responds and there’s something else hiding behind his words, cheerless and unspoken, “But you already know that.”

Her fist grips his hair harder and pulls downwards, baring his neck to her, ever compliant in her hands. It thrills her that he’s so willing to surrender himself to her, to expose himself to her even though he knows what she’s still holding back, “Are you challenging me?”

His lips move soundlessly for a moment, “I would never force you to do anything.”

She takes a deep breath and smells nothing but him, “I know.”

“But,” he exhales, cocking his head to the side as if struck by thought, “In the spirit of open and honest communication, sometimes it really pisses me off.”

She can count the number of times he’s used that tone of voice with her on one hand and it always feels like a slap to the face, “I—”

“Most people just give up when the person they love doesn’t love them back. They don’t wait on them for years, by the way, only to have them taunt them about it later.”

“I didn’t—”

“No?” he implores, raising his brows and digging his fingers into the swell of flesh below her hipbones. He’s finally given into the furious desire to claim he’s been suppressing since they started this whole affair and it feels good to be angry, to let it all out, “Then why do you act like this means nothing?”

Chat turns the tables before she can respond and switches places with her, pressing her up ever harder against the wall. He covers her body with his own and shoves his knee between her thighs, his groin throbbing in response to the way she writhes and struggles against him.

“I love you,” he hisses and she’s wet with the way he says it, furious and fervid, “I’m not going anywhere, I’m not leaving your side. I’m your partner and your friend and your lover, if only you’d let me.”

Marinette swallows uncomfortably, wedged between the wall and his body, long and lean and hard against her. Her mind is begging her to run away, to get out of there and keep with the status quo but her body says otherwise, provoked and soaked and all the things she’s been trying not to feel.

“Do you understand? Do you understand how it feels when you act like you want me but you don’t actually want all of me?”

“I…”

“Do you?” he demands. He presses hot kisses to the exposed skin of her neck and bites down, leaving a trail of wetness along the collar of her suit. He gets to the flesh beneath her earlobe and snaps down harder, knowing the mark he’ll leave behind will be there long after she detransforms.

She hisses and arcs against him, scrambling for purchase against the fabric of his suit. He takes her wrists and stops them in their tracks, raising them up above her head and pining them there.

“I don’t care if you think that your Miraculous is making you act crazy, I know I have control over my actions when I’m in this thing. So don’t go making excuses and thinking you can make false claims about owning me when you don’t.”

He grinds his hips against her and anchors her pinned wrists with his right hand, trailing his left down her cheek so she can’t help but make eye contact with him, “If you don’t want me, fine. I’ll live. But you just hissed at a reporter to back off and it was embarrassing.”

Marinette squeezes her eyes closed and understands that what she did was humiliating. She knows it’s only going to fuel the press and make it a thousand times harder to do her job and it’s all her fault. She knows she can be impulsive sometimes, she knows that she acts without thinking about the consequences of her actions and without thinking about the people involved and she knows that this isn’t just her Miraculous talking. It’s compelling her, yes, and it’s making her aroused to the point that it’s driving her crazy, but my god, she’s being so unfair. Ridiculous. Insane. Stupid!

“I’m sorry,” she whispers like a prayer, her eyes widened at his insistent glare. He shifts his hips again and rubs the length of himself against her, panting against her lips.

“Sorry isn’t good enough,” his grip tightens on her wrists, “Make a decision. Either you want this or you don’t. It’s not fair to me, not now, not anymore. When you’ve made a decision, text me.”

He leaves another searing kiss against her lips before releasing her, freeing the baton at the small of his back and extending it upwards. He disappears onto the rooftops and goes god knows where, leaving Marinette slumped against the brickwork, alone.

To be continued…

Chapter Text

        14: In Public

It’s been two and a half months since her and Chat had made their arrangement just as an inconvenient outburst of hormones and horoscopes combined to make the perfect storm, which means it’s been two and a half months since they’d sat down and actually been honest about their predicament with each other, carrying a serious load that had led to…well…

This.

“Can we keep it quiet?” she’d asked, ignorant to the way his face had hardened when she’d said it.

“Of course,” he’d responded, always the gentleman.

It’s been two and a half months since they’d decided they’d be better off weathering this storm together than apart, wary of dragging civilians into their messy, chaotic lives. Better to sleep with each other than be forced to explain to a potential girlfriend or boyfriend that they were essentially in heat and couldn’t keep it in their pants without losing their damn minds. But that wasn’t the problem.

“It’ll be our secret,” she’d reasoned, nodding as if she’d just come up with Newton’s third law of motion.

“Sure,” he’d replied.

It’s been two months since she’d fucked him senseless for the very first time, bare skin and masks and heat and release and everything she could have ever wanted. There was no fear or pain worth mentioning; every horror story she’d heard about sex was irrelevant in her case. It had been amazing really, her body having been ready and willing for so damn long that even her kwarmi had wondered how she’d managed to keep it together. But that wasn’t the problem either.

The problem was that it wasn’t going away.

No, every time she touches him, every time she so much as comes near him, the territorial itch grows. She never talks about it, never so much as mentions the way she wants to suck a mark on his skin so hard that she hopes it’s permanent. She never mentions the way that she wishes she could parade him down the streets, boasting that he’s hers and hers alone.

She spends an inordinate amount of time wondering what it would be like to make love to him. To actually just give into the desire and destroy the status quo for what it is, an excuse. An excuse not to get caught up in messy emotions, emotions she’s already hopelessly tangled in despite her best wishes. An excuse not to fall in love with a guy who was never in the ten-year life plan she’d fantasised about since she was fourteen. It was supposed to be Adrien, it was supposed to be three kids and a dog and a boutique on the Champs Elysées.

Good god, what was she even talking about?

She’s seventeen now. What kind of fantasy world had she been living in? Adrien is a world-famous model, the monthly rent for a shopfront on the Champs Elysées is more than what her parents make in a year and hello? Life isn’t like it is in the movies. Opportunities don’t just fall into your lap, even if the Miraculous she wore in her ears did just that. Life is hard, life requires work and Marinette feels old and entirely way too young all at once.

She sinks down onto her haunches against the brick wall and holds her head in her hands.

What do I do?

She heads home and eats her dinner, lethargic and pensive and only half listening to the way her father rants about the Sotnikova sisters and their elaborate cake design for their brother’s second wedding. She putters upstairs and finishes her homework, only answering a few of the questions on her statistics review. There’s something so purely and explicitly wrong about all of this, about the way she’s just torturing herself. Tikki says as much and the inflexible part of Marinette that’s been protesting since the start is beginning to have a harder time yelling above the din of all the other voices in her head begging her to just admit it and give in.

Still.

The unspoken question remains.

Tikki and Master Fu had told her time and time again about the power of the Miraculous, about how the two most powerful of them all were bound together by magic and fate and all those things you could read about in fairy tales. Marinette loves pink and Snow White and Once Upon a Dream but she’s not naïve enough to think that the two of them are simply meant to be.

Love takes doesn’t just happen, she’d said to him just days ago. It takes time and patience and two people who actually want to make it happen. Chat wanted it, he’d wanted it enough that he’d let her string him along for years and god, she’s been so cruel to him. How could she have been so selfish?

She knows it now, recognises every sigh and feeling and emotion and urge. She loves him; a part of her knows she always has. But what if something goes wrong? Or what if they can’t get along? What if he finds someone he loves more than her in real life? What if Adrien asks her out? Could she still love him? Could she still be faithful to Chat when there was sweet, gorgeous Adrien hovering in her periphery, just out of reach?

She sighs.

It was time to make a decision.

~

Ladybug
Yes.

CB
Yes what?

Ladybug
Come and find out.

~

She’s on the Île de Reuilly when he finds her, sitting on the circular bench of Le Temple Romantique with her legs tucked up underneath her chin. It’s still light out, her text coming less than twenty-four hours after he’d up and left to blow off steam. The distance had helped clear his mind and he hoped it had done the same for her.

He stands there for the longest time and watches her, appraises her from his vantage point off the rocky outcropping. He knows that she’s aware of his presence and he chooses to keep the high ground, if only for a while.

“I don’t know who you are,” she begins after several minutes, resting her chin on her kneecaps, “and I don’t know what you do. I know you must be rich, judging by the fact that you vacation in St Barths and you wear expensive ties. I know you come from a broken family and your dad is a fire breathing lunatic who doesn’t know what a great son he has and I know you don’t have a mum anymore.”

“I know you enjoy playing sports but you love anime even more and you’d stay up all night watching it if it weren’t for Le Papillon. You like puns and cheesy jokes and making stupid decisions even though you could get hurt and it drives me crazy. You don’t get enough to eat at home, which is why I constantly bring you food so that you don’t waste away to nothing and you’re always miserable around the holidays because they remind you of better days.”

“I know that I can trust you with my life and I know that when an akuma attacks, I can count on you to be at my side. I know that even when there’s nothing happening, I can count on you to talk and laugh with me and tell me jokes, even if they’re awful. I know that you’re my friend and the only person I can talk to when it comes to being a superhero.”

“But what I don’t know is whether or not I can let go of that.”

Chat slips from the edge of the escarpment and joins her in the Grecian looking temple, slinking closer and pausing to stand a few metres away, “What do you mean?”

“If something goes wrong and this all falls apart…”

“Is that really what’s holding you back?” he asks, “The fear that we might break up?”

Marinette doesn’t dignify him with an answer. It sounds ridiculous when he says it aloud.

“We risk our lives everyday. I mean, anything can happen, just look at what happened to me a few weeks ago,” he shrugs and she shudders and it’s not the right thing to say but neither one of them is thinking clearly, “Look, what I’m trying to say is…we live dangerous lives and they could be over in a heartbeat, so why are you so concerned about the future? We have to enjoy what we have now.”

“We all have to prepare for the future Chat. I have to have a plan.”

“And plan what?” he places his hands on his hips, “Le Papillon’s defeat? Been doing that unsuccessfully for three years. University? Sure, but your future job? Your future life? Newsflash Ladybug, these are all things you currently have no control over, so let it go.”

“Easier said than done Chat,” she replies, a little irritated. He’s so casual and nonchalant and it makes her feel weak, “I’m not some rich kid who can afford fancy ties. My parents are working class people and I’ll have to work my way through university in an economy that probably won’t even land me a job once I graduate, on top of being Ladybug. Life isn’t all honey and roses.”

“That’s true, and I work to make my due,” he brushes his hair from his eyes, “Every cent I make goes into a fund I can’t even touch until I’m eighteen. I’ll live under my father’s shadow for as long as he’s alive and there’s nothing I can do about it. I can’t control it, I can only choose to make the best of it. And the best of it is being Chat and spending time with you, saving Paris and kissing you until it’s way past our bedtimes.”

He approaches her, “We can do this together, take it all on together and fight each battle together and share what we can of our lives together. We can’t change what’s going to happen, but we can try and live in the present together, you and I.”

She looks up at him then, those candid eyes in phosphorescent green speaking more truth than she ever could. How could he just say these things so easily? It dawns on her then that’s he’s so much more mature than she’s ever given him credit for.

“I can be yours, if you’ll have me, but only if you give yourself in return. I want you to be mine.”

Marinette closes her eyes for the longest moment and tries to give every voice inside her head a vying chance to be heard; she’s still not sure what she wants to choose.

“Yes,” she finally says and Chat knows better than to comment on the hoarseness of her voice. She feels incredibly small and helpless in this moment, vulnerable and afraid and a myriad of possibilities pop up in her imagination as she says it, possibilities of arguments and hatred and even death and—

“Ladybug.”

She opens her eyes and Chat is squatting in front of her, something akin to astonishment shining in his eyes. He runs a claw up and down her shinbone and takes a shallow breath, “Are you sure?”

Marinette releases her grip on her legs and unfolds them gently, bending forwards so she could meet him at his level, “Yes.”

Chat takes her hand and pulls her upright, pulling her into an embrace so passionately tight Marinette thinks it might just be branded on her skin forever, hard and soft and rough and tender all at once. It feels like she can’t breathe, overwhelmed by emotion and helplessness and the way his body presses against her, filling her senses with the unmistakable scent she’s begun to associate with the way her stomach fills with butterflies and her heart stammers in her chest.

This is love, she thinks, and it feels like a dream.

They close their eyes and detransform, blindly sliding their masks on without having to say so much as a word to each other and the two of them work in desperate unison to shed their clothing, her blouse and his trousers flung wildly onto the stone floor until there’s nothing but their undergarments between them. Marinette reaches down and strokes his cock through the front of his briefs and he growls in her ear, a territorial, possessive sound that vibrates from his chest to his toes and goes right to her core.

Marinette responds in kind, latching onto his exposed throat and sucking a line of bruises against his skin, raw and red and certain to leave a lasting mark. She digs her nails into the skin of his shoulder blades and the moans he makes sound so needy, so desperate in her ears that it only encourages her further, marking him and claiming him as her own.

After all, she’d always felt a need to have control, to have things in her possession that she could effortlessly operate; it’s why she applied to be class president in collège and why she continues to be an active member on the student council at her lycée. It’s why she makes her own clothes for her friends to wear and signs them with a signature so obvious that everyone can see it. She thrives on the ability to claim ownership and is proud of what’s rightfully hers.

And Chat, who’s lived through the consequences of neglect and abandonment more times than he can count needs that, craves it like he’s dying of hunger and she’s the hanging fruit, sweet and luscious and everything he could ever ask for.

“Fuck me,” she whispers against the shell of his ear and he’s not so far gone that he doesn’t hear her from where he’s busy nibbling at the hollow of her collarbone. She withdraws her hand from where she’s been stroking him through his briefs and drags her fingertips, wet from the slickness of his pre-come, across his chest, “Fuck me now.”

He pushes her towards one of the stone columns and pins her there, sliding a hand between their bodies. He ruts his cock against her and the sensation is glorious, the friction all too much and not enough and god, did she really agree to be his?

“You’re mine,” he slurs, drunk with the way she squirms against him. He runs his fingers along the waistline of her panties, lace and satin and midnight black and he pushes them down as far as he can while still pinning her to the wall. She shimmies them down the rest of the way and divests him of his briefs in much the same way before focusing on her bra.

Tossing it and pressing into her, he seeks out her hands and twines her fingers with his, pressing them to the stone column on either side of her head. Like his, her body is taut and slick with sweat from the heat and the itch, pliant and restless and thirsty with need and he’s so determined to show how deep his love for her is, how visceral his need to be loved by her is. He throws all self restraint to the wind and devours her like an addiction, greedy for the taste of the salt on her skin.

She thrusts her hips against him and the entire action lacks her usual finesse, her customary restraint. It’s an addictive feeling, to let go of every shackle and just feel, moaning and gasping and muttering praise like nothing else matters. Chat keens at the approval and it feels like he’s going to shatter at any moment, the elation so intense he swears he could burst.

Letting go and taking his cock in his hand, he strokes it twice before trailing it down the path of her lower lips, taking a moment to clip her clit with his cockhead before tracing farther, rubbing his member up and down. The tip of him teases her entrance, pushing just enough to make her squirm and buck her hips before moving away.

“Chat, please,” she rasps, dragging her teeth over the shell of his ear, “Please.”

It takes every ounce of willpower and more to ignore her, to press her further against the wall and capture her lips with his, intent to savour every moment, every taste and every kiss. It feels like the first time and the last time, feelings of hope and desperation surging inside of him. She shudders as he breaches her again, her muscles stretching only for him to pull back again, driving her crazy.

He twines his fingers in his hair and she spreads her legs wider, panting and moaning as he thrusts his hips shallowly, never quite reaching where she needs him to reach. Another shudder wracks her body as the blunt end of his fingernail rasps against her clit and Marinette moans into his skin, begging for release.

He drags his tongue against her lips, “Do you want me?”

Marinette closes her eyes and gasps, the unbidden words coming to her without hesitation, “Yes.”

He enters her and it feels like the air has been punched out of her lungs, the sensation so intense and so overwhelming she swears she sees stars. He hefts one of her thighs upwards and wraps it around his hip and it feels like a reward when he withdraws and works his way in again, slow and deliberate and tormenting and oh!

Chat’s patience is waning, what with the way she’s whispering praise in his ear, begging him and lauding him and please Chat, yes, right there, harder, I need you, please! He works his way up to a punishing tempo, revelling in the way she flutters against his cock and intersperses her praises with profanities, and crushes his pelvis to hers against the whitewashed stone. He bites into the soft flesh of her neck and fills his senses with her scent and groans, leaving incensed marks all along her skin.

“So good,” he babbles against her lips, writhing against her. She sputters incoherently, eyes closed and mouth wide open, her breaths coming in rasps. He can feel how wet her thighs are, her arousal dripping down the smooth skin of her legs and he can feel his orgasm building from inside her, thick and sharp from the sweet pleasure of how he thrusts into her. She can feel her clit throbbing, swollen and tight and just this side of painful and desperate for release.

“I…please!” she struggles to breathe, “I’m…”

“Come for me,” he gasps.

She takes her free hand and shoves it between them, pressing down just to the right of her clit in time with Chat’s increasingly frantic thrusts. She kisses him blindly, too overwhelmed to focus on anything but her fingers and the cock inside her, and his words in her ear, soft and reassuring and full of love are enough to fracture her control and send her flying over the edge.

She wails with pleasure, convulsing and trembling around his cock and lets out a moan of satisfaction, her mind wiped blank. He rams in harder, freeing her trapped hand and looping his arm around her waist, pulling her in as close as physically possible to regain the ferocity of his rhythm. Her body arches, catlike and taut as she’s pushed onto her toes, her hips offering themselves to him against the onslaught, forceful and powerful and fuck, she can feel it rise in her again, the rising tide of orgasm and fuck! you can orgasm twice? and yes, yes, yes!

A high, shocked cry bursts from her lips as he lifts her leg as high as he can and he whimpers, moaning as he thrusts into her mercilessly, releasing inside of her. She digs her fingers into his hips so hard that they leave bruises and she can’t hear his cries over the rush of blood in her ears, their bodies convulsing together as one. He presses his mouth to hers and kisses her savagely, riding out the wave of white hot heat like a solar flare, collapsing and slumping against the wall, clinging to each other.

Merde,” Chat whispers, stunned and thrilled and a myriad of other emotions all at once. Marinette looks much the same.

“That was…” she trails off, unable to keep her fingers from trailing across the marks she’s left on his skin for all to see, bruises of every shade peppering the length of his neck. She takes another deep, shuddering breath before burying her face against his shoulder, exhausted and utterly spent.

“Ladybug?”

She revels in the way his whole body hums when he says it, the sound reverberating from deep inside his chest, “Yes?”

“Do you mean it?”

She nods against his shoulder, “Yes.”

She feels his body slacken in relief against her and she can’t help but indulge the urge to wrap her arms around him, collapsing gently backwards against the cool stone. They tangle their limbs together, laid bare as the sun begins to dip behind the horizon, their bodies glowing in the sun.

Chapter Text

    15: Voyeurism

It’s all over the internet.

“MARINETTE!” Alya screams from across the quad, waving her mobile maniacally in the air. Marinette, having already read all fifty-two of her unintelligible texts when she woke up this morning, knew exactly what she was getting into when she stiffly waved back.

“HAVE YOU SEEN IT?” Alya shrieks, skidding across the grass to where Marinette is standing in the shade beneath a tree; it’s not even 07:45 and the temperature has already surpassed 30°C.

“No,” Marinette replies cautiously and begins walking towards the doors, “I haven’t checked the LadyBlog.”

“It’s insane!” Alya sings, tapping eagerly at her phone, “Look! Twitter is blowing up right now and, oh my god, have you seen the top ten?”

Marinette briefly skims the screen being shoved into her face before pausing in her tracks, snatching the phone from her friend’s hand, “Putain…

Hashtags - Masquerade
“I know right?” Alya squeals, taking her phone back, “#ladynoir is trending everywhere! It’s currently holding at number three in the United States and number four in Germany! That basically means that all of Eastern Europe is getting a piece of this which means the video on my blog is TRENDING WORLDWIDE!”

“A video? WHAT!?”

“What’s going on?”

Both Marinette and Alya turns simultaneously as Adrien and Nino approach from the road.

“Hey guys! Did you see my video?”

Adrien cocks his head, “On the LadyBlog? I haven’t had time to check it this morning.”

“Then you’re in for a treat because you won’t BELIEVE what one of my uberfans shared with me exclusively last night. You can’t watch it anywhere else, I have the rights! My servers are crashing!”

Adrien begins to pale, “What’s in the video?”

“Dude, just watch it,” Nino replies, stepping closer to Alya. She holds her mobile out in front of her as Marinette and Adrien join in to watch, “Alya said it’s insane.”

“Almost got it…here!” Alya pulls up the page on her phone’s browser, “I had to put a NSFW blocker up and everything. Okay, okay, it starts here.”

Alya hits the play button and it’s of someone rowing on the Seine. They’re chatting in what Marinette can only assume is either Spanish or Portuguese when the screen turns abruptly and…

Oh god.

“Is that…?”

“Yup. Keep watching.”

The camera zooms in and it’s definitely her and Chat in flagrante delicto, just barely visible behind one of the columns of le temple romantique. The rower suddenly puts the burners on to get them further around the island and the video is violently shaky for about fifteen seconds before evening out again.

“How do you even know that’s Ladybug and Chat Noir?” Adrien asks, his voice cracking.

“Well first off, they’re wearing their masks,” Alya replies, glancing briefly back at Adrien likes he’s blind.

“Yeah but…they’re naked.”

“So?”

“Couldn’t they could just be two people having fantasy sex or something?”

Alya winks at him, “Just wait ‘till the end!”

Marinette swallows uncomfortably and continues to stare at the screen. He's pinned her hands to the column and sandwiched her between him and the stone, devouring her neck and collarbones.

"My god, look at their bodies. Specimens."

"Check out the shot of his ass coming up. I swear he's carved from marble."

“It’s amazing how fit they are.”

"Ooh, I love this bit."

In the video, Chat hauls her leg up and thrusts into her.

"Daaaamn, that girl is flexible."

"Very flexible," Adrien mumbles and shifts slightly in his stance, sweat beginning to bead at the back of his neck.

"They're going to town, aren't they?" Nino can’t help but admire, “I mean…wow.”

"I love how he’s just totally dominating her right now."

"What?" Marinette interjects before she can stop herself, blushing red, “She's clearly in control.”

"It doesn't look like it," Alya retorts just as Ladybug all but sinks her teeth into Chat Noir’s throat.

"See?"

 

The video shifts in and out of focus for a few seconds and the person behind the camera zooms back to get a clearer picture.

"I gotta hand it to him, the dude has stamina," Nino remarks appreciatively. Adrien bites his lip and tries not to sputter, "It's been what, seven minutes? And they’re still going at it."

"Probably lots of practice."

"Obviously. They’ve been going out since the video of them making out on the Eiffel Tower.”

“You couldn’t even see them making out Alya, people just assumed it,” Marinette whispers, watching as Chat hauls her calf and ankle up and over his shoulder, lifting her onto her toes. She’s so beyond embarrassed right now but that isn’t stopping her body from reacting enthusiastically, her panties already uncomfortably damp with arousal. That, and as much as it pains her to know that all of Paris all of the world has seen her naked…

“Oh wow,” Marinette mutters, subtly squeezing her thighs together.

They were really, really hot.

“Alright, he’s about to orgasm.”

“About time,” Nino bunts Adrien with his elbow, “He’s making all of us mortals look terrible.”

Adrien blinks absently and tries not to choke on his own tongue.

“Watch this guys,” and they do, their eyes wide as Chat thrusts inside her with enough force to send them both reeling and…it’s visceral alright. They throw their heads back in tandem, eyes closed and lips parted, bodies arched in ecstasy and bliss and Marinette can't tear her eyes away.

"Wow..." Nino trails off, shifting his trousers uncomfortably. Alya waves at him to stop talking and points at the screen.

Collapsed of the ground, Ladybug and Chat Noir begin to converse and, although the camera is too far away to capture any audio, it's obvious they're laughing about something. He stumbles to his feet and offers her his hand, pulling her upright and they embrace again, kissing as Ladybug pushes Chat's back against the column.

"They are not going to have sex again," Nino deadpans, gawking at the screen.

"Chat may be a superhero, but he's still human," Marinette mumbles, neglecting to notice the way Adrien’s face turns an unpleasant shade of plum.

"Look look," Alya insists and the two of them break apart sluggishly to collect their clothing. It looks like they're chatting while they dress and suddenly Chat says something that makes Ladybug swat at his arm.

"They're just talking," Adrien whispers, praying the video ends within the next few seconds before—

Merde.

There’s a flash of white light that engulfs the screen, blinding them all for a few seconds. When the light finally dissipates into the atmosphere, Ladybug and Chat Noir are as they usually are, dressed and proper as if he hadn’t just buttered her croissant against a column on a moderately public island in the Seine. Adrien struggles to swallow and steps back as the video promptly ends, feeling for all the world like he might just vomit.

“That was…”

“Insane right?” Alya fist pumps the sky and tucks her mobile into her back pocket, “I know I can’t keep it up forever because yes, I know it’s super invasive and they’re probably dying right now, whoever they are, but I figure I’ll give it twenty-four hours. Besides, this is a gift! Nine months from now, there’s going to be a baby boom all over the world because this? This is the hottest thing I have ever seen in my life.”

“Speaking of which,” Nino quirks an eyebrow and both Adrien and Marinette take their cue to beat feet up the stairs as fast as they can. Curiously, they end up side by side by no means or efforts of their own, and make their way to their lockers.

“That was…something,” Adrien says and it suddenly dawns on Marinette that Adrien has not only seen her completely and utterly stark naked but also in the throes of arguably the best sex of her life.

She wonders if this is what dying feels like.

Chapter Text

        16: Fingering/handjob

A sex scandal, a PR nightmare and an akuma attack all in one day; just a typical afternoon for Paris’ dynamic duo.

Or, as La Parisienne had so aptly put it:

CONFIRMED! Cities Having the Most Sex…Can You Guess Who’s on Top? (And it's not Ladybug!)

Marinette smashes her face into her pillow and screams as loudly as she can, kicking her feet hard enough to make her bounce around on the mattress. Alya had finally, finally pulled the video from her website but the damage had already been done. The screenshots were everywhere on Instagram, the GIFs all over Tumblr; it seemed that everyone and their dog was talking about Chat Noir and Ladybug’s ‘nooky in the nook’ (thanks Cosmopolitan) and the press was having a field day.

Surprisingly, the reaction wasn’t entirely negative; it’s not like they were being praised or anything, but much of the focus was on their bodies. Considering the skin-tight nature of her suit, Marinette wasn’t entirely unaware that her physique was a constant source of interest on the internet and she figured the same fanaticism could be applied to Chat. After all, he had just as many raving fans as she did; the fan art and fanfiction on the internet could attest to that.

After that, the more pragmatic side of the world was looking into how their transformations took place, which had obviously never been captured on film before. It took away a lot of the initial sting since the television news stations couldn’t exactly air the footage due to the subject matter; instead, they had to focus on other aspects of the incident.

There were the haters of course. The American organisation One Million Moms was arranging protests in their country, declaring a television boycott on the two Parisian superheroes in order to save the decency of their children. Others were saying Chat was being too rough (somehow forgetting that Ladybug had been just as rough, if not more so) and that they were too young to be having sex. After all, the press didn’t know their ages and their reports varied wildly, pegging them anywhere from fourteen to twenty-two.

And that wasn’t even the worst part.

Marinette had been forced to wear a kerchief around her neck all day to hide the hickeys and even Alya had told her that she looked like she just walked off an Air France Boeing 747. Alya had tried to tug the scarf off and Marinette had clung to it like her life depended on it, so of course Alya was curious. Marinette tried to explain that she was covering a nasty zit with it and, when the bell rang, she escaped as fast as her feet could take her. She’d managed to evade Alya’s sticky fingers for the rest of the day, but the bruises wouldn’t be fading for at least another few days and no amount of concealer was going to save her.

And that wasn’t the even worst part either.

In true Le Papillon fashion, the supervillain decided today would be a great day to re-emerge from his two week absence and infect an angry lawyer, which meant that Marinette had to somehow sneak out of calculus to nip that in the bud. Mind you, the purification had been simple enough; the lawyer’s razor-sharp dossier of death had been no match for Chat’s cataclysme and they had everything tied up within ten minutes.

“So,” Chat attempts to break the ice, “How’s school?”

Marinette grabs his forearm and steers him away from the oncoming hoard of journalists, disappearing into a covered passage and running up the fire escape, “Oh, let’s see. Everyone in my school has seen me naked. So, you know, it’s been great.”

Chat ricochets off the stone wall and pulls her up with him until they’re on the roof, “I know. The girls in front of me in econ wouldn’t stop talking about my butt.”

“Yikes.”

Chat looks just as dazed as she feels, “It was…well, you had to be there. It was creepy.”

Marinette shivers and they set off towards the general direction of her school, “You’re telling me. My best friend won’t stop talking about it.”

“Mine too,” he dives between a clothesline and makes the next few bounds on all fours, easily keeping up with her, “It’s been surreal.”

She takes a sharp right and pauses at the brink of the boulevard, “Patrol tonight?”

“As always,” he replies, slipping his hand into hers for a moment, “We’ll talk later. I’ve got it get back to class.”

She gives his fingers a brief squeeze and waits until Chat has disappeared behind a building before yoyoing back to her school.

Back in her bedroom, Marinette sighs. That part wasn’t so bad, but still, sometimes it feels good to scream into a pillow and be dramatic, especially when pictures of your naked body are still trending worldwide.

When she’d ran home from school and opened the door to her parent’s bakery, her parents had been oddly subdued and she figured it had something to do with the oppressing heat making all of the measurements for their pastry recipes fall out of whack. It was extremely humid in the kitchens and her father asked her to try and fiddle with the air conditioning to get it flowing properly again.

“Is the cold air coming out?” Marinette hollers from the boiler room.

“Not yet!” her father booms from the kitchen and she jabs her fingers into the thermostat again, hoping to beat the ancient thing into submission by brute force alone. She wiggles the tiny handle and smacks her fist down over the top of it and all it does is pop, sputter and shut back down with a heaving clunk.

Marinette throws her head back and glares reproachfully at the ceiling, “Could this day get any worse?”

And now, with the house feeling more like the surface of the sun, Marinette screams into her pillow again and throws the offending cushion across the room for no better reason than that it feels good to do it.

“Marinette?”

She listens as her mother cracks open the trapdoor and reluctantly turns her head to acknowledge her, “Yeah?”

“Are you alright? I…heard screaming.”

Marinette sighs theatrically, “I’m fine mum. Just hot. And tired.”

Sabine makes her way into the bedroom and shuts the door behind her, “Are you sure? Do you need to talk about it?”

She barely keeps herself from snorting, “No, it’s okay. It’s just school and the heat, that’s all.”

“Alright,” Sabine nods but looks far from convinced. She pins Marinette with a knowing look, “Just remember, I’m here to talk if you need to. About anything, I mean it. I won’t get upset.”

The way she says it speaks of things Marinette has long suspected but never acknowledged, “I know but I really don’t want to talk about it right now. Maybe later.”

“Okay.”

Marinette closes her eyes and Sabine retreats back into the bakery, leaving her blissfully alone. She turns her head and peels one eye open, taking note of the time and closes it again.

Three hours left until patrol.

~

“Good evening,” he calls from behind her, landing on the railings of the Hermès building in the 8e arrondissement. They’ve long used the building’s private rooftop gardens as a meeting place and have spent many a warm evening tucked in behind the trees and shrubs, chatting the night away.

“It’s a terrible evening,” she sulks, crossing her arms over her chest. She’d brought a water bottle with her this time, determined to stay hydrated in this life sucking heat.

“I heat to agree with you but I’m feeling the burn.”

Marinette briefly fantasises about throwing said water bottle at his face, “I’m not in the mood.”

“Not in the mood for jokes?” he smirks, “I never would have guessed.”

“It’s been a rough day all right? I want to relax.”

“I can help you with that.”

“Good. Close your eyes, I need to get out of this suit.”

She drops her transformation as soon as he turns and sighs in relief when her skin is finally exposed, wearing only a soft tank and a pair of cotton shorts underneath. He opens his eyes and drinks in the length of her legs and the creamy skin of her thighs, so perfect and yet almost always covered. He’d only ever seen her in a skirt for the first time this week, his steady suspicions of her identity only confirmed further, especially since Marinette had disappeared during calculus at the same time he had. He wishes she would wear skirts more often, wishes he could dress her in some of the items in his father’s summer collection, all soft fabrics in flowing designs.

She lays down on the soft sod and closes her eyes, giving him a chance to detransform. He does so gladly, slips his mask on, and sighs when he finds himself back in the clothing he’d returned home in after the Versace fitting, perfectly tailored but altogether stifling in this heat.

Whoa.

“Ladybug?” he calls and his voice startles her, snapping her back to reality.

“What?”

He wiggles an eyebrow, “You’re looking a little red under that mask.”

“I am not,” she responds and flushes even more.

“I love it when you blush,” he hums, “Even your ears turn pink.”

She snorts, “Speak for yourself. You’ve swooned so hard I’ve had to scrape you off the ground before and you know it.”

“I have not,” he scoffs and sits down beside her. She tries to stay composed on the outside and bites her lip, conscious of the way she’s clenching her inner muscles and thighs together to relieve some of the pressure.

She sneaks a glance at him, dressed to the nines, and finds him watching her, a little grin spreading on his lips. She feels the familiar rush in her stomach that comes with the sudden onslaught of arousal and god, she wishes he would just crawl between her legs and be done with it. She doesn’t know whether it’s the heatwave or the itch beneath her skin but she can’t help the way she reacts as she inches closer and he leans in, his breath ghosting over the shell of her ear, “Let me make you come.”

She nods and turns her face towards him, their noses brushing, and he cups her face in her hands. He kisses her then, soft and hot and everything she’d been craving, burying his fingers into the hair at the nape of her neck. She responds, expert and bruising, and brushes her hands up his chest and neck and cheeks, rough with facial hair.

“Slob,” she chastises teasingly, grazing her knuckles against the rough texture.

“It took me a while to get ready this morning,” he blushes.

“Did I tire you out last night?”

Her teasing only makes it worse, “Yes. It was the best sex of my life.”

She may be the queen of baiting him but he’s always been able to knock her down a few pegs with his sheer and brutal honesty, “Oh.”

She’s falling back into the grass and his body slots between her legs like it belongs there and now, after all this time, she’s starting to believe it really does. Like Tikki had told her a thousand times already, a Chat Noir always finds his Ladybug eventually, no matter the odds against them.

Crawling over, he hitches her legs upwards and hooks them around his hips, slender and addictive. She kisses him breathless and lets her mouth travel down his jaw and neck and collarbones, dissolving him into a puddle between her arms. She loves that these simple gestures, these effortless acts of adoration make him melt like putty in her grasp and smiles into his skin, transferring every ounce of her newfound love into her kiss.

She undoes his dress shirt, a slim fitted cotton poplin with mother of pearl buttons, and tries not to wince as she slips it off his shoulders and throws it into a shrub. She eyes the tag as she does so and tries not to choke at the fact that the Burberry shirt probably costs more than her six month bakery allowance.

She breathes out and slowly surveys him with starving eyes, revelling in the way he squirms under the appraisal of his body and she flattens her hands to his exposed abdomen, running them slowly upwards until they graze his rib cage and nipples.

He gasps, “Ladybug…”

“Make as much noise as you want,” she breathes into his ear, wishing she could rub her thighs together to diffuse the intense arousal she feels, “I want you to be loud for me tonight.”

“Loud?” he gulps.

“Well, all of Paris knows we’re having sex. What’s there left to lose?”

Marinette cannot believe the words coming out of her mouth. Who is this person and what has she done with her common sense?

He gasps as she rolls them onto their sides and leans into him, running her tongue and lips over his collarbones and chest. She nips at one of his nipples lightly before laving it with her tongue, bucking her hips against him. He groans, his eyes fluttering open and he feels hard and urgent against her core, turning her on even more.

He pulls her on top of him and his hands circle her waist, tugging her towards him and her clit is unequivocally throbbing at this point; she's been aroused for hours ever since she watched that stupid video and being around him doesn't exactly help stifle the heat and the itch.

"Up," he urges and she raises her arms, kissing him as he pushes her shirt up and over her head. He unclasps her bra and she grabs the back of his neck, nuzzling him and enjoying the way her bare chest feels against the texture of his skin. He smiles and runs those long, slender piano fingers of his through her hair, seemingly content to hold onto her for as long as he can.

He hooks one of his arms around her body and pushes her back against the grass, rolling a nipple between his fingers and drawing a gasp from her lips, "Our lives are insane," he mutters against her skin and she chuckles breathlessly.

"It could be worse," she admits, pulling back to press a kiss to the side of his neck, "I don't know how, but it could be worse."

"At least we looked good," he clutches her head against his neck and wills her to continue sucking marks into his skin. He’d spent a half hour covering them with concealer this morning but he couldn’t care less about that now, bucking his hips and sneaking his hand beneath the waistband of her shorts.

He pops the button open and slides the zipper down, slipping his fingers beneath her lace panties, "Have I told you how much I love you today?"

She's practically vibrating with anticipation at this point, watching eagerly as he sits up to pull her shorts down her thighs. He tosses them behind him and pulls her panties off as well, chuckling as she waves them around when they get caught on her ankle. He eyes her appreciatively, completely naked before him, and lets his fingers explore her body, ghosting over her inner thighs.

"You haven't," she replies, leaning back into the greenery. She whines as he just barely skims the sensitive skin there, her lips parting in pleasure.

"Let me make it up to you," he purrs, laying on the grass between her legs. He rubs circles with his thumbs on the crease where her thighs meet her hips before slipping back down to spread her knees. He raises one and Marinette catches on immediately, hooking them up and over his shoulders.

Without so much as a word, Chat dives in and cleaves her open with his tongue, pressing it against her clit. Her hips buck upwards from the sod and he grins against her, tucking one hand under her ass to squeeze and sliding the other up towards his face.

"Hng!"

He slips a finger inside her as he strokes her clit with his tongue and pumps them in and out experimentally, drawing the most delightful sounds from her throat. He explores her, his tongue thorough and languid, roaming over her clit with practiced ease, having found himself between her thighs so many times before. It was becoming their default and Chat couldn’t find it within himself to complain, not with the way his cock is reacting. Alone, he’s finding that his fantasies seem to revolve around getting her off this way, coming to the memorised sounds of her rasps and screams.

Marinette’s eyes threaten to roll to the back of her head as he nibbles on her clit, sending her reeling. She gasps his name and fists a hand in his hair, tugging and yanking and he seems to enjoy it, speeding up his movements in a way that’s making her soaked with need and passion and oh, he’s moaning against her clit and she tightens her thighs around his head because he’s slipping another finger inside her and he’s pumping in and out in fervour and fuck, this feels so good, so good and she’s so close, so close and—

“Oh! O-h! Chat!”

She shudders and can’t help the way her hips react, bucking off the grass and he holds fast, scissoring his fingers and prolonging her orgasm until all she can do is pant and stare in a sex induced daze at the stars above them, her body throbbing in post orgasmic bliss.

“So? Did I make it up to you?”

He crawls back up her body and she slams her lips against his, tasting herself and sending another pulse of heat between her legs. He moans and presses himself against her, still trapped in his perfectly pressed trousers that probably cost more than her entire wardrobe.

“I’ll take that as a yes.”

Chapter Text

        17: Long distance/sexting

"I have to leave again."

Marinette sighs and scoots closer to the ledge to give him room to land, letting her legs swing, "When?"

"Tomorrow,” he replies, joining her on the platform, “And I won't be back until Tuesday night."

"Where are you going this time?"

It comes out harsher than she'd intended and she cringes inwardly at the way he shirks away.

"New York City."

Marinette blinks in surprise, "Really? That's a long way away."

"It's only about an eight-hour flight."

"Only?" Marinette recoils, "I've never actually been on a plane but I can't imagine staying still for that long. I'd go crazy!"

Chat chuckles, "If you think that's bad, try flying to Australia. Or Los Angeles. Now those are long hauls."

"It sounds like you've travelled everywhere," Marinette mutters, trying to keep the envy from creeping into her voice. Her family rarely has the time to take a short vacation, let alone a long one. Her mum and dad had been talking about visiting her extended family in China for years but she knew it would never actually end up happening.

"I'm very lucky for the opportunity," he replies and there's something so humble in his voice that she can't stay bitter for long.

"Alright then Big Shot, why do you get to go to New York City and miss, what, three days of school?"

"It’s for a special event."

"A special event all the way in New York City?” Marinette racks her brain for a moment before gasping and jerking her head back towards him, “You don't mean..."

Chat raises a brow and waits for her to answer, prompting her with a roll of his wrist.

“No way.”

“Hm?”

"I knew you were wealthy but…the Met Gala? You get to go to the Met Gala?!"

Chat grins at her reaction, "I take it you've heard about it?"

Marinette throws her hands up, "I live for the Met Gala. It's like fashion Christmas! And the celebrities and their crazy couture, I love it!"

"It is pretty wild", he remarks, his eyes shining. He loves it when she talks fashion to him.

"Wait, do NOT tell me you've been before."

"Twice actually."

"What? And you never told me? You know how much I love fashion!"

Chat shrugs, "You weren't very keen on sharing personal information back then. Being invited to the Met Gala kind of narrows down who I am in real life."

Marinette swallows, "I...didn't think about it like that."

"No big deal," he shrugs.

She continues swinging her legs, "Are you going for your job?"

"I am actually. It's not going to be much of a vacation."

"Well, at least you get out of school for a few days. I'll be here, slaving away in a hot classroom while you get to wear fancy clothes."

"It's cool there this time of year so I'm pretty excited about that."

Marinette huffs, "How did you even get this job anyway?"

"I guess you could say I was born into it."

"Family business then? I know how that feels. It’s like, my parents respect my love for fashion but I think they really wish I would go in for marketing or something. They’ve been not so subtly hinting about franchising opportunities."

"It’s tough, having that extra pressure from parents on your shoulders. My dad never even gave me a choice," his voice tightens in his throat, "It's this or...well, there is no other option. If I didn't do this job as gracefully as I do, I know it would just make things more difficult for me, you know?"

"That sounds awful," she squeezes his knee and the gesture is comforting, "Your dad sounds awful."

"He wasn’t always this bad. He loves me, I know that, but it's just who he is. It's always been about the business. It’s always comes before me and it always came before my mother..."

She sneaks her arm around his waist and hugs him closer to her side, "I'm sorry."

"It is what it is," he rests his cheek against her shoulder, "Nothing I can do about it."

"If you could though, what would you want to do?"

Chat snuggles deeper into her side and she turns her face to bury her nose in his hair. He smells like shampoo and sweat and it's heady, the way his scent inspires every protective instinct inside her.

"I don't really know. I've thought about getting into non-profit."

Marinette isn't as surprised as she thought she'd be, "I think it would be a good fit for you."

She can feel the tension melt out of him and it occurs to her that he may have been nervous about her reaction, "You think?"

"I do. You're kind and generous, and I remember doing those hospital visits with you and I don't think I've even seen you look so excited. It was kind of cute."

"They were a lot of fun," he muses, "When this little sex scandal of ours simmers down, we should go and do those again. It felt really good, especially the way they got so excited when we came to visit them. You know, my mum, she was always trying to find ways to help kids and give back to her community. She was friends with Angela Missoni and she was a huge contributor to Angela’s charity for orphans. I…I think I’d like to follow in her footsteps.”

Marinette smiles and her chest tightens; she loves the way he seems to care so deeply, so instinctively for others and it makes her heart burst, knowing that the depth of his love seems to be endless. How could she have ignored this side of Chat for so long? How could he have so much capacity to love?

“I think you would be great,” she kisses the crown of his head and swallows the bittersweet feeling in her chest, realising all of the potential for good she has wrapped in her arms.

Potential she could never be a part of, not when they were who they were.

Ladybug and Chat were partners, lovers, inseparable.

But their civilian lives?

Two roads, diverged.

~

Ladybug
How was the flight?

CN
Slow. You can only play Plants vs. Zombies for so long.

Ladybug
Yikes. Glad you survived.

CN
Can’t get rid of me that easy.

Marinette settles onto her chaise and clicks on the snap he sends, filling her screen with an image of the open city view from his balcony.

Ladybug
Whoa! Where are you?

CN
The Mark. Check out this bathroom!

He sends her another snap of a black-and-white marble bath with a gorgeous mint green vanity and a soaker tub. He’s circled the tub in red and inserted a winking emoji for good measure.

CN
Wish you were here.

Ladybug
I know just what I’d do with you.

CN
Yeah? What’s that?

The smirk that spreads across her lips is positively predatory.

Ladybug
I need to know what you’re wearing first.

He sends a snap of his reflection in the mirror, the frame just barely concealing his face. He’s wearing dark wash jeans and a simple white tee that leaves nothing to the imagination. Her mouth waters at his obvious physique.

CN
Return the favour?

Marinette shucks her shorts off and poses in front of her floor length mirror, jutting her hip to one side and snapping a photo. Her bralette is made from lavender Chantilly lace and her matching panties don’t leave much to the imagination either.

Ladybug
I would peel that shirt off your body and run my hands against your chest. You’d lean back against the marble and let me take care of you.

CN
Yes.

Ladybug
You’re tired after your long flight so you’d close your eyes and I would kiss you. I’d bury my hands in your hair and you’d watch as I dropped to my knees and unbuttoned your jeans and I’d push them down.

CN
Ladybug…

Ladybug
We would take off the rest of each other’s clothes and I’d lead you to the soaker tub. It’s already filled with water and you would step in first and I’d step in after and you’d pull me to your chest and I’d lay against you.

CN
Are there candles?

Ladybug
Of course. You can’t have a bath with your lover without them.

CN
And bubbles?

Ladybug
Yes.

CN
This sounds romantic.

Ladybug
I can be romantic when I want to.

CN
Let me know when that happens. I would love to be wooed by you.

Marinette frowns and briefly wonders if she needs to step up her game; she’d thought the treats she always brought him were enough.

Ladybug
I’ll write a memo.

He sends her a side-eye emoji and she laughs through her nose.

Ladybug
Alright, back to the bath. I’ve always fantasised about sharing a bath with someone else.

CN
That someone else being me?

Ladybug
Yes.

It had always been Adrien in her imagination, that is until lately. The heat and the itch seemed to have overtaken her senses so all she could think about was Chat.

CN
What would we do after?

Ladybug
You’d kiss my neck and I’d rest my head on your shoulder. You’d suck marks into my skin and so everyone knows I’m yours and you’re mine.

CN
All that concealer was so worth it. Seeing the way you marked me with your teeth…

Ladybug
Then you’d reach forward and touch my chest and squeeze and I would moan and press myself against you. You’d use your other hand to touch me.

Marinette mirrors the actions her thoughts are taking, massaging her breast through her bra. The texture of the lace feels good against her nipples and only serves to make them more sensitive and erect in the heat of her bedroom. She takes a snap of her hand grasping her breast and sends it.

CN
Fuck, Ladybug…

Ladybug
You’d tell me how much you’d missed me while you touch me and you’d slip your fingers inside me. You’d keep whispering things to me and it would feel so good that I would moan until the neighbours could hear me.

She sends a snap of her fingers beneath the waistband of her panties, the tuft of hair beneath just barely visible.

Ladybug
You would tease me and tease me until I’m screaming for you. You want to take your time but all I want is you inside me.

Chat sends a snap of his fingers beneath the waistband of his briefs, his covered erection taking up the lower left-hand side of the frame.

Ladybug
You’d make me come and I’d ride your hand during the aftershocks. You’d pull me out of the tub and we’d collapse onto the bed. You’d spread me open and push into me and make love to me.

CN
You’re killing me right now.

She slips her panties off and sends him a photo of where her fingers have buried themselves between her thighs. She circles her clit twice before concentrating on the button of nerves just to the right of it, pressing and rubbing until her fingers are soaked in need.

Ladybug
I’d put my legs over your shoulders and the angle would be so good. 

Her pace in frantic now and the snap he sends of his hand around his cock only heightens the sensation. She takes a screenshot and closes her eyes when the image fades, throwing her head back and imagining the way he must be thrusting into his palm on a bed in the middle of New York City, alone and pining for her. She can see him moaning her name in her mind’s eye, the way he arches his back and bites his lower lip. His hair is everywhere and he starts stroking himself faster, panting and desperate. She loves seeing him like this, watching him try and hold out when she’s fucked him in the past or when she’s had her lips wrapped around his cock. It only fuels her own arousal and she dips her fingers inside again, coating them with her juices before returning back to her clit, rubbing it mercilessly.

She feels it coming, feels the way her abdomen clenches and quakes and she briefly considers slowing down to prolong the feeling before throwing caution to the wind and just going for it. Her body arcs off the chaise and she drops her phone so she can throw her lower arm over her mouth to muffle the scream she makes, loud and breathy and god, this feels good.

She stares up at the ceiling for a moment before finding her phone again, swiping past the lock screen to see the snap he’d just sent her. It’s of his body, his come strewn across his torso and Marinette feels the heat rekindle inside of her, the itch utterly insatiable.

CN
This is going to be the longest five days of my life.

Ladybug
For once, I’ve got to agree.

Chapter Text

        18: Dream/daydreaming

It’s Monday evening and she’s wrapped that damned silk tie of his around her wrist for what’s probably the umpteeth time. Tikki has long since deserted her for the kitchens, sick and tired of Marinette’s silent sentimental pining; the little kwarmi would rather risk getting caught by her parents than listen to her sigh again.

Marinette pulls the pointed end of the tie and lets the fabric unravel against her skin, the gorgeous silk cascading down onto her exposed thighs; it’s by far one of the most expensive accessories she’s ever been able to have in her possession and it’s not even hers although...technically, he hasn’t asked for it back. Maybe he doesn’t mind that she’s holding onto it for safe keeping? She hopes he didn’t get in trouble for misplacing it; it’s not like he could have forgotten where he left it considering the mind-blowing sex they’d had that night.

She brushes the refined fabric against her cheek and analyses it closely. The deep green silk is handstitched with tonal beads and coils and detailed with an intricately textured pewter charm debossed with designer Gabriel Agreste’s thumbprint on the back. What she had initially thought was a regular luxury tie from the Agreste men’s line had, upon further inspection, turned out to be a one of a kind handmade masterpiece and she couldn’t get enough of it.

She imagines what he must have been wearing with it to complement such a luxurious strip of handstitched fabric. She’d peeled a three piece suit off him that day when he’d wrapped it around her eyes and fucked her on a fire escape, but what had it looked like? What colour had it been? She can’t even remember what the fabric felt like to be honest…she was much too busy orgasming.

Speaking of orgasming, there’s only a few days left in April and the itch is worse than ever. Last year, it had hit its peak around mid month and dissipated steadily after that, working its way out of her system by the first week of May. That’s clearly not the case this year, not with the way she feels herself drip every time she thinks of him, which is constantly if she’s going to be honest. Misery loves company, and she selfishly hopes he’s feeling much the same.

“Marinette?”

She unwraps the tie from where she’d bound it around her left thigh and slips off the chaise, opening the trap door, “Yeah?”

“There’s a letter here for you.”

Marinette purses her lips, “Really?”

“I’ll leave it on the stairs.”

The curiosity alone is enough to prompt Marinette to hurry down and snap up the non-descript envelope from the second last step. She turns around and begins to head back upstairs, considering the package in front of her. No return address, no stamp, just her name scrawled in unfamiliar, rough chicken scratch across the front of it.

She sets it on her desk and grabs her mobile before slipping into her office chair, swinging her legs around so she can sit more comfortably. She rips the short end of the envelope and slips her fingers inside, pulling out the folded piece of lined paper within.

She reads it once, twice and Marinette feels her face drain of blood.

i’m back ladybug
see you soon

Chapter Text

         19: First Time

Part 1

February 12th, 2017

They're sitting on their favourite ledge on the uppermost tier of la Tour Eiffel, gorging on hamburgers and frites and Coca-Cola when she finally (finally) broaches the subject.

"Has it started yet? For you?"

He’s already predicted the reason for her silence tonight and it's with that seemingly intrinsic ability of his that Chat doesn't choke on his food, "If by it you mean it, then yeah, it has."

They don't speak for a while, a quiet understanding stretching out between them. After the Spring 2016 fiasco, they'd talked about it in a conversation that had somehow turned into a pact where they promised that they would try and find a solution to deal with it together as opposed to suffering alone. The essential point had been thus: the lines of communication had to stay open for their partnership to work and that was something both of them could agree on.

"I talked about it with Tikki," she says around a mouthful of frites, "She gave me some suggestions."

Chat gulps down half of his cola in one go and keeps his eyes trained along the horizon, "Yeah?"

"I'm...uh," she takes a huge bite of her hamburger and tries to find it within herself to keep going, "On the pill now."

Chat stares pointedly at a blinking cell tower in the distance and tries to keep himself from blushing, "Will that help?"

"Tikki seems to think so. She thinks it might help...dampen the affect."

"But it'll still be there."

"Yeah."

She licks some rogue ketchup off her wrist and fiddles with her carton of frites, "What did Plagg say?"

"Besides make fun of me?" Chat snorts and Marinette can't help but chuckle along with him, well versed in Plagg's scathing sarcasm from all the stories he'd shared, "Probably the same thing Tikki told you."

"The ‘you should probably just have sex and get over it’ talk?"

"More or less."

Marinette sighs, "Well, they do have a point."

This time Chat does choke on his food, "What?!"

"How old are you again?"

"Seventeen," he wheezes, not entirely sure where this is going.

"So am I and it's not like it's unheard of for seventeen year old’s to have sex."

"Yeah, but—"

"And if we're smart about it, then we can hit two birds with one stone without dragging civilians into this."

"Ladybug—"

"So I know this probably seems totally out of the blue but I’ve been thinking about it and I think being friends with benefits could work out for us."

“What?!”

“Well? What do you think?”

“You…want to have sex…with me?”

Marinette looks at him like he’s being an idiot, which he probably is, “That’s what I just said.”

“But…what?”

Marinette shakes her head and wonders if she’s broken him, “Do I need to spell it out for you?”

Chat gapes at her and nods, a piece of lettuce falling out of his mouth. She rolls her eyes and dips another frite into the mayonnaise between them.

“I’m in heat and it makes you go crazy because we have a Miraculous fused to our bodies and it’s affecting us on a physiological level. The first year was fine, the second year was awful and I have no intention of sitting around again doing nothing for a whole month when it feels like I’m dying and exploding at the same time. So, I made a plan and this is it. We’re going to be friends with benefits. We have sex together when the itch starts to get in the way of our daily lives and we go on being friends and partners. Nothing changes in our relationship except this. You know, you scratch my back and I scratch yours.”

Chat blinks slowly. He blinks again.

He blinks one more time.

“…okay.”

“Is that an ‘okay, I’m fine with this’ or an ‘okay, I still don’t understand’?”

Chat opens his mouth and closes it again, glazed eyes as wide as saucers. It takes him another few seconds to gather his thoughts before he can actually try and form a sentence, “I…wha…ahhh…”

“Come on Chat,” she stares at him expectantly, urging him with a twirl of her wrist, “Spit it out.”

“That’s good,” he finally sputters, “Yeah. That’s good.”

“So you’re on board? When it gets bad for you, you’ll let me know?”

His world is beginning to spin rapidly, “Um, yeah.”

“And I’ll do the same,” she replies evenly, oblivious to the way he shirks from the ledge and tries not to fall backwards, “It probably won’t be for a while yet anyway, but I wanted to get a game plan together. I always like to have a plan.”

“Yep.”

“Chat, are you okay?”

“Yep.”

“Are you sure?”

“Nope.”

Chat surrenders to gravity and tries not to hyperventilate, ignoring the way the very woman responsible for ripping the carpet out from under his feet peers over him, only slightly concerned, “Chat?”

“I need a minute.”

Marinette just rolls her eyes, “You’re being so dramatic right now.”

“You literally just told me that you wanted to have sex with me.”

“Yes, I’m well aware.”

He exhales slowly and tries to tune out the sound of blood rushing in in ears, “Am I dreaming?”

“Would you like me to punch you to find out?”

“No thank you,” he breathes, the reality of the situation beginning to dawn on him, “Holy shit.”

“Hm?”

“You want to have sex with me.”

Marinette facepalms, “We don’t have a choice. Besides, this is for purely necessary reasons.”

“You want to have sex with me.”

“I mean, can you imagine trying to explain this to a civilian?” she lifts her fingers into guillemets, “Every Spring I suddenly go crazy and want to have sex 24/7. Oh, and by the way, I‘m Ladybug,” she shakes her head, “Yeah, not my idea of a fun time.”

You want to have sex with me.”

If she rolls her eyes one more time, she swears they’ll get stuck there, “Seriously Chat? Are you even listening to me?”

He turns his head from where he’s been staring at the stars and makes eye contact with her, gaping like a fish, “Oh my god.”

“I’ll take that as a no,” she shakes her head and sips her drink, “Well, when you’re done having your existential crisis, I’ll be here.”

The dismissal in her voice shakes him out of his trance and he pulls himself onto his elbow, “Sorry, this is like…probably the weirdest moment of my life.”

She raises a brow, “Trust me, I never thought I’d be saying this either.”

“Ladybug, asking me for sex,” he can’t help the slightly unhinged giggle that escapes his lips, “I never thought I’d see the day.”

“Moi non plus, but here we are,” she plucks the pickle from her hamburger and pops it into her mouth, “Any questions before we proceed?”

“Yes actually,” he pulls himself back into a sitting position, “Where exactly is this going to happen? It’s not like there are tons of strategically placed beds sitting around the rooftops of Paris.”

Marinette levels him with a look, “Obviously. I still haven’t figured that part out yet but it’s not like it’s going to get bad right away. We have time.”

“Okay,” he trails off, “What about this?” he gestures between the two of them before flicking a claw against the bell at his neck, “These don’t exactly have zippers.”

“I’ve come up with a solution for that one,” she replies confidently, “Masks. You can pick them up at any store these days, I’ve already bought one from Carrefour. We can just keep it on us all of the time and when we need to, we close our eyes, detransform and put the mask on.”

“Alright,” Chat swallows, his next question decidedly awkward, “What about…condoms and stuff?”

Marinette shrugs, “I have an allergy to latex, and before you say it’s weird, it’s actually pretty common. That, and I’m already on the pill so I’m not worried, not unless you’ve been sleeping around or something.”

“No,” he feels the heat immediately flood his cheeks, embarrassed and uncomfortable at the turn of subject. Not that there was a lack of interest mind you; his father had introduced him to a number of beautiful and wealthy models and celebrities over the past year who he would have paired up nicely with, not that he’d had any interest. He only had eyes for one girl.

“Well, me neither,” she forces herself to make eye contact. She’s got to be the adult here and talk frankly about these things. She’s Ladybug, confident and mature. She can do anything, “So there we are. Any more questions?”

Chat ponders for a second, still fighting with the blush that’s spreading all the way up to his ears, “No, I don’t think so. Sounds like you have everything covered.”

“I’ve been planning this for a while,” she admits, waving a frite at him, “It’s high time we start acting like adults and do something about these things on our own.”

“Adults?” he chastises, “You’re the one who made me chase a laser the other day.”

“I didn’t make you do anything,” she giggles, completely unashamed, “You chased it all by yourself.”

“I wouldn’t have chased it if you hadn’t brought it in the first place.”

“I just happened to have it on me at the time.”

“You just enjoy making me look ridiculous.”

“I don’t have to do anything to do that. You do well all on your own.”

“Remind me why I’m your partner again?”

“Beats me,” she laughs and he shakes his head, sipping his cola. The whole night had taken a surreal turn and although she seemed to have everything all sorted, he still has some misgivings, mainly with the whole friends with benefits bit. He knows that Ladybug thinks she’s being pragmatic about this, but he can’t help but wonder how she’d forgotten the other crucial side of this. Like, for example, how obviously head over heels in love with her he’s been since the day they first saved Paris? How on earth is he supposed to keep it together and not ruin their friendship?

After all, life wasn’t like it was in the movies. She wasn’t just going to decide to fall in love with him.

…Right?

Chapter Text

          20: Dom/sub

Part 2

February 27th, 2017

~

“Are you feeling okay?”

Marinette jerks up from her dinner plate and promptly looks away from her mother’s imploring gaze, hoping to pray away the flush on her skin and the throbbing between her thighs. This was not supposed to start this early.

“I…uh…I just remembered something embarrassing at school today, that’s all.”

Sabine never looks entirely convinced anymore and, if she wasn’t so distracted by the fact that she’s probably soaking through her sweatpants, Marinette would have cause to worry, “Are you sure? You look flushed. Are you feeling sick?”

“I’m fine mum, just embarrassed.”

“You’ve been looking off all week,” her father adds, eyeing her carefully. She ducks her head and glares at the pile of untouched rice in front of her, vowing to interrogate Tikki the next chance she gets.

“Don’t worry about me!” she puts on her best Meryl Streep and smiles like she doesn’t have a care in the world, “I just need a minute. I’ll be back.”

Marinette slips out of her chair and takes her phone off the counter, walking towards the bathroom as casually as she can. She’s starting to sweat now, beads of perspiration pooling on her collarbones and the small of her back. She remembers the feeling from last year, the all-encompassing urge to do something she has absolutely no idea how to do overwhelming her. She closes the door behind her and gently nudges her pocket, urging the kwarmi out from inside its folds.

“What is going on?”

Tikki kneads her hands together, “It must be the weather.”

“What?”

“Well, what else could it be?” she says more to herself than to Marinette, “It’s always worse in the temperate countries. We never have these issues when we only have two seasons.”

“Wait, what?”

Tikki turns to acknowledge Marinette yet again, “Heat cycles are triggered by changes in the length of the day. The higher or lower the latitude, the more drastic the change. However, extreme changes in temperature and climate can also be a factor.”

“So you’re saying that global warming is the reason why this is happening to me?”

Tikki shrugs, “It’s a possibility, yes.”

Marinette takes the towel off the bar and buries her face in it, moaning in frustration, “Why does this always happen to me?”

“It’s all right Marinette,” Tikki presses a tiny palm to her cheek, “You’re not the first Ladybug to deal with these kinds of things you know.”

Marinette sits down on the edge of the tub, “I know, I know. Still…is this going to affect me for the rest of my life? And what about Chat? What’s going to happen to him?”

“It will settle down eventually,” Tikki replies carefully, her gaze not quite reaching her bearer’s eyes.

“And Chat?”

“He’ll…always be affected in one way or another. That’s just how it works.”

Marinette frowns, “What about when we’re older?”

“Well, most Ladybugs and Chat Noirs find that they end up together one way or another. It’s never been too much of an issue.”

“What about the others?”

Tikki wavers, “Saving the world can be a dangerous undertaking.”

The kwarmi doesn’t elaborate and Marinette doesn’t need her to, “But I don’t love Chat.”

“You don’t have to,” Tikki shrugs, “Not yet anyway. Sometimes they start as friends like yourselves, sometimes they start as enemies. It’s never the same story and it never will be. You’re the master of your own ship Marinette. Only you can decide who you love.”

Marinette shoves her face back into the towel and exhales loudly, “But you’re saying that the odds are against me.”

“Not against you Marinette. You’ve built that wall up all on your own.”

“I just don’t like the idea of being forced to love someone just because of some weird side affect to being a Miraculous weilder.”

“Like I said, no one is forcing you into anything. The two of you just happen to be predisposed to each other, that’s all.”

“It doesn’t feel right.”

“Is Chat really that bad that you can’t give him a chance?”

“It’s not that I don’t want to give him a chance…”

“But…”

“I like…other people.”

“Adrien already told you that he’s seeing someone.”

Marinette slumps against the tile, the memories of ripping gently removing his pictures from her wall still fresh in her mind, “I know…but…”

“If you told him how you felt now, how do you think that would make him feel? I’ve never heard him so animated than when he was describing her.”

“I know…”

“So let him go Marinette. Let him be and support him. I know you’re unhappy but you can’t let it define you. Trust me, your friends have noticed.”

She winces, “They have?”

“Yes,” Tikki nods, “It’s okay to feel sad sometimes but it’s not okay to push that sadness onto others over something that makes them happy.”

“I know…” Marinette sighs, "I guess I have been kind of stupid lately."

"I wouldn't put it quite like that but..." Tikki shrugs, "Sometimes our greatest happiness comes from seeing others when they're happy, even if you're not necessarily a part of it."

Marinette draws her legs up to her chest and buries her face in her knees, "You're right Tikki. I should apologize."

"That would be a good start," the kwarmi replies, nuzzling her forehead. Marinette looks up and, although the touch is soothing, she still feels oversensitive and overheated.

"Should I text him?"

Tikki gives her the once over and nods, "I think that's a good idea."

She unfolds her legs, "I'm nervous."

"Everyone is nervous for their first time but trust me, your body will know what to do."

"It will?"

"I think so," Tikki takes one of her fingers and nudges her towards the door, "Instinct will cut in and you'll be just fine. Now, text him and let him know before you chicken out!"

~

“Alright, let’s get this over with.”

Marinette weaves her fingers together and reverses them, cracking her knuckles out in front if her with a stretch and a pop. Chat just looks at her like a grape that’s been left out too long in the sun.

“Can I just put this out there?” he struggles to get his lips and jaw working in sync, leaning awkwardly to one side, “I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.”

“Me neither, so we should be on an even playing field,” she says, grabbing his forearm and gently tugging him forward, “Come on, we need to find a quiet place to get this out of our system.”

Chat gulps and tries not to breathe, “You smell so good right now.”

“Yeah?” she makes a face, “You’re not the first person to tell me that lately.”

“Might be the hormones,” he replies, pupils widening as the space between them diminishes, “You usually smell like bread but now you smell even better.”

He buries his face in her hair and Marinette tries to control the way her body reacts, she really does, but god, it’s starting to act on its own volition and maybe Tikki was right, “Let’s find that spot quickly before someone catches us.”

“Right,” he mutters and his voice is lost in a daze. She swallows uncomfortably and leaps off the edge of the Notre-Dame de Paris, yoyo-ing across the river towards the district of St. Gervais. She lands on the rooftops of La Grande Paris before taking off further north, her eyes peeled for something, anything.

Tentatively, she lands on the wooden planks of a rooftop bar and quickly scans the area for any late-night stragglers, eyeing the name of the place glowing from a hanging neon sign. Le Perchoir Marais stands out against the dark in the ailing moonlight and she can immediately sense his presence as he lands and approaches her from behind, the hairs on the back of her neck rising in anticipation.

“This looks as good a place as any,” she whispers, her voice wavering dangerously and Chat can’t help but reach out, grazing his claws along her arms. She spins around before he can move any closer, swallowing back her fears so she can take the lead.

“Close your eyes.”

He nods and complies, giving Marinette a brief moment to catch her breath before detransforming. The weather is unseasonably warm tonight, a comfortable 23°C, and she’s dressed only in a T-shirt and soft pants. Nothing sexy about it, she thinks as she pulls her mask on from where she’d stuffed it in her back pocket, but they probably weren’t going to stay on her body for much longer anyway.

“Alright, now you.”

He opens his to find hers already closed and detransforms quickly, slipping the cotton mask he’d snagged from the corner store across from the back door he’d managed to sneak out of after yesterday’s Armani fitting. He steps towards her and Marinette doesn’t need to hear him speak to know that she can open her eyes, capturing him in her gaze. His eyes are covered, his clothing black and casual against his skin. She lifts his shirt over his head and runs her hands over his sides and torso, tracing his muscles and mapping his body, and leans in for a kiss.

Plagg had filled him in on the first time she’d kissed him (thanks Nadja Chamack) and he certainly hadn’t neglected to tease him mercilessly about it for weeks. The second time she’d kissed him had been in a moment of vulnerability on both of their parts, a small peck to the forehead that had left him breathless.

This kiss was nothing like that.

Her lips are soft and warm against his and he’s not sure what to do with his hands so he follows her lead, skimming her arms and neck with his fingertips until his palms are cupping her face. He’s so anxious he can barely breathe, so nervous that he’ll screw this up for her, so nervous that he won’t be able to give her what she needs because he knows what they’re about to do, knows the significance of it and oh god—

She snaps him out of it with just a hint of tongue and it surprises him, the texture so different from her lips and he ignores the urge to pull back and ask if he’s doing this right because she’d probably hit him, and then she’d be mad at him and start telling him that this was a bad idea and

“Chat.”

He blinks slowly, “Yeah?”

“I can practically hear you thinking. Stop it.”

“Uh,” he stammers, pulling back for a moment, “I’m-I’m sorry.”

Her expression softens, “Are we doing this or not?”

He nods and tries to unglue his tongue from the roof of his mouth. He takes a deep breath and it has the complete opposite effect of what he wants; instead of calming him, it fills his senses and fries his nerves.

She pulls off her own shirt and he glances down nervously, studying her chest and abdomen. He runs his hands against her obliques, her toned physique thrown in stark relief against the waning moonlight and he slides them up her body, meeting her gaze in wordless permission.

Now this is something he can deal with, he thinks, reaching back and unclasping her bra with an ease born from growing up with hooks and fasteners of every kind littering his mother’s office. He wasn’t allowed into his father’s as a child but his mum would let him toy with whatever she happened to put in front of him.

Finally feeling a little sense of confidence, he takes the straps between his fingers and pulls them down over her skin until he frees them from her arms and gently drops her bra onto the coffee table beside them. He’s seen people naked before (perks of the job?) but never quite this close and never quite for him.

“Touch me,” she demands, her cheeks flushed from the way he stares at her in earnest, like he’s trying to commit this to memory. For all she knows, he probably is.

Chat takes his last shred of conviction and places his hands on her waist, running them up her body until he can graze the undersides of her breasts. She reacts with a shiver and he isn’t sure whether it’s from him or the slight chill in the breeze but he hopes it’s the former and goes with what he knows, reminded of the way he touches himself now and then. He grazes one of her nipples with his thumb and watches her body frisson with what he hopes is pleasure and promptly repeats the gesture.

“Oh,” she breathes, watching her body react. It feels like she’s escaped reality for a moment, like she’s watching herself from above, shivering with anticipation. She feels like she’s soaking through her pants and that this isn’t helping, none of this is helping at all. She needs release and she needs it now and nothing, nothing is going to stop her.

“Lie down,” she squeezes the hand that's still resting on his shoulder and he drops his arms, nodding dumbly at her. He leans back against the cushions on the pallet couch and watches as she climbs over top of him, digging her fingers in beneath his waistband. She pulls them down much like she would pull off a band aid; carefully at first and then quickly and without abandon because—

She’d done her due diligence of course. She’d opened her web browser on privacy mode and looked them up, pragmatically noticing the differences in size and shape without thinking too specifically about it. She figured if she could do that then, she could do that now. After all, this was a means to an end, this was a means to an end, this was…

There’s something like a loud clunk in her brain, one that knocks her train of thought completely off its rails and into the neighbouring ravine. His penis is erect, it’s average in size and shape, it’s bobbing against his abdomen and fuck, all her body wants to do is touch it.

“Ladybug?”

Her eyes tear back to his face and she knows she must look crazy, knows she must look ridiculous because his eyes are widening dramatically, his lips parting like he’s about to shriek. She licks her lips, all considerations thrown out the proverbial window as she hops off his lap and tears her own clothing away, clambering back on top before he can so much as speak, let alone wipe the look of fear off his face. She takes his cock in her hand and shimmies closer, trying not to look into his eyes but she can see the way his body suddenly arches, hears the way he keens in surprise and grasps onto the cushions like his life depends on it. Marinette can’t get distracted, she has to have him, has to scratch this itch and get on with her life and—

She guides his cockhead between her lips and tests her weight, finding the right spot. She knows it’s going to hurt but she’s so wet and greedy with it, exhaling loudly as she inches her way down and down and down and ah!

She finally settles against his thighs and doesn’t move for a moment, trying to come to grasps with the foreign feeling and the blood pounding in her ears. She finally looks up at him again and sees his face flushed and panting, lips parted and eyes half-lidded in pleasure and panic. His hips jerk like his muscles can’t quite handle the way they’re being overcome with the sensation, his nerves strung tighter than a live wire.

“Hold my waist.”

It takes a moment for her words to catch up with the rest of him but he eventually follows her lead, always follows her lead because—

Ah!

She puts her hand squarely on his chest and begins moving, letting her hips shift forward ever so slightly. The friction is fleeting and she does it again and again, relishing in the way it makes her thighs tremble and her fingers ache from where she has one of his palms trapped against her hips. She uses the hand on his chest to support her, her fingernails scratching red lines into his chest and he lets out a breathy gasp, pressing back into the pleasure/pain and his cock jolts inside her. She moans at the feeling and clenches instinctively, setting forth a whole chain of reactions and sensations that leave her mind senseless.

She rolls her hips as her instincts take over, the buzz in her brain telling her to let go of his hand on her hip and reach forward to touch herself instead. The contrast feels sensational and she throws her head back, lips parted and eyes closed shut at the way the angle of his cock shifts inside. He’s losing his breath, jerking his hips upwards to meet her thrusts and revelling in the way she seems to sink deeper, so slick and wet and tight and fuck, her breathy moans are filling the air around him and it feels like he’s on fire, responding to her every shudder and touch and she flutters around him, clenches and moans and Chat can’t help but arch against the cushion and seize and come and come and come.

~

“Chat?”

They haven’t moved in minutes, what with the way she’s more or less draped herself unceremoniously over top of him. It’s a luxury he never thought he’d get a chance to indulge in and he’s not planning on moving any time soon.

“Mm?”

“Do you still feel it?”

“Yup.”

“Oh thank god, you up for round two?”

~

May 1st, 2017

Ladybug
Are you still in New York?

CN
Yeah, why? Gala starts in an hour.

CN
Do you think this looks alright?

CN
The outfits some of these people are wearing are insane.

CN
Did you see the snap I sent you of Madonna? Weirdest thing I've ever seen in my life, and I fight akuma for a living.

CN
Well, not a living but you know what I mean.

CN
It'd be nice if we could make some royalties off all the merchandise they sell.

CN
Ladybug?

Chapter Text

        21: Body Worship/With Food

There’s a man waiting outside the bakery the next morning, idly smoking a cigarette just to the side of the doorframe. He greets her as she steps outside, dark hair and dark glasses and a voice she’d recognise from anywhere.

“Good morning,” he grins through a breath of smoke, taking up stride beside her. Nostrils flared, Marinette keeps her head down and turns left, heading east towards her school.

“What do you want?”

“I think we got off on the wrong foot,” he stops at the crosswalk beside her and reaches out with his hand, “I'm Loïc Lhérault."

She takes one look at his outstretched palm and turns away in disgust, stepping off the curb and onto the concrete.

"Pleasures all mine of course," he continues, jogging slightly to catch up with her, "The infallible Ladybug, in the flesh. Imagine what would happen if word got out."

Marinette doesn't take the bait, "Are you going to answer me or not?"

"Ah, pardon my manners,” he says, the hand at his side spasming ever so slightly, “I'm not used to conversing with a beautiful young woman such as yourself."

Marinette continues walking, her steps stiff and tight, "Colour me surprised."

"Feisty in and out of costume," he remarks, his fingers twitching as he takes another drag, "I like that. It'll make things interesting when it comes down to it."

"Is that so?" Marinette mentally applauds herself at keeping her voice so level and acerbic when her insides feel like they're crawling. Fighting the panic, she digs her fingers into the chain of her purse and clenches her teeth.

"It is. See, I need a favour."

"A favour?” she spits, “That's rich, coming from you."

"Now, now, hear me out. You'll find it's quite reasonable."

"Says the man responsible for terrorising innocent civilians, not to mention nearly killing me. Excuse me if I'm a little sceptical."

"I was under Le Papillon's influence, I’ll have you know."

"You and I both know that's not true."

Loïc raises his brows from behind his sunglasses, "Feisty and smart."

"Let's cut to the chase," she grumbles, "I have to get to class."

"Of course," he flicks the butt of his cigarette, the burnt end catching in the humid breeze of a passing truck, "I want my powers back but, in order to do that, I need to give Le Papillon something in return."

"I'm not giving you my Miraculous."

"I'm not asking you to. In fact, I'm happy to let you keep it."

Marinette frowns, "Then what do you want?"

"Le Papillon wasn't really particular on his terms, to be honest. I hunted down his identity too, wealthy sonofabitch, he invited me to tea in his fancy garden and everything."

Marinette stops in her tracks, "You know who he is?"

Loïc grins, "I knew that would get your attention. You'd be surprised how easy it was to find him. He doesn't exactly do subtle very well."

"You and him must have a lot in common."

"I do subtle very well," he places a hand on his chest in mock-offence, "Did a stint in the army for seven years before being dishonorably discharged. After that, I went to work for some Russians. They pay a hell of a lot better than the army did. No benefits or pension, mind you, but what the hell."

"I really couldn't care less," Marinette grumbles, crossing another street, "You're getting distracted."

"Right you are darling. You know, he has his own fairly good reasons for wanting your Miraculous. He told me that having both of them in his possession would give him ultimate power, which is all fine and dandy, the usual villain thing. That’s when he started talking about wanting to bring some woman back to life, I don't know, I kind of stopped paying attention at that point. I hate sob stories, nobody actually cares about a tragic backstory, you know?"

"Anyway, he keeps saying 'bring me the Miraculous and I'll give you your powers back' and I say 'we’ve got ourselves a deal' and we shake hands and part ways. See, he didn't specifically ask for both so I'm going to give him one in exchange for my powers and when he inevitably asks for the second one, I'll beat feet it out of there back to Russia and you can deal with him again like you always do."

"Why are you telling me all this?"

"Because you're part of the plan Ladybug!"

"I still don't get what you want from me."

"It's simple really," Loïc pauses and lights another cigarette, "I need the cat Miraculous. You help me get it and in exchange, I'll tell you who Le Papillon is, address and all. Police go marching in, you take the cat Miraculous back to your boyfriend and Paris is finally safe again!"

Marinette contemplates for a moment, "I don't believe you."

"I wouldn't believe me either if I were you," he shrugs, "But I swear, it's the truth. And if you're in the know, then we can make this upcoming battle of ours very convincing without anyone being the wiser."

"Upcoming battle?"

"Well, Le Papillon took a few weeks off after our little fiasco to sort some things out, namely how many people he can possess at the same time. Turns out it's about six, which is plenty to keep you busy and run you ragged. That's where I come in."

"I need to incapacitate your feline friend and, in all the chaos, that little ring of his goes missing," he drawls, looking her over and letting out a laugh, "I'm not going to kill him, ma belle. A graze will do, and my aim is impeccable. Your cat will be right as rain after a few stitches."

Marinette is frozen in place, her blood rushing to her ears. In the distance, she thinks she might hear Alya call her name but she can't move, can't see anything outside the tunnel of her vision.

"I know it isn't ideal, but it's the only way we can sell this. Besides, how does that saying go again? Ah yes, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few," he sneers, all teeth and gums, "This is my bargain Ladybug. Let me at his ring and I'll give you the information you need to save all of Paris. Don't and the plan goes down regardless, except I kill Chat Noir instead."

Marinette takes a deep breath and tries to control the acid crawling up her throat, "I..."

"Think about it," he says, tipping his sunglasses forward on his nose, "I'll walk you to school tomorrow and you can tell me what you think."

"Marinette!"

She spins and sees Alya waving at her from the other side of the road. She waves back, the movement stiff and unbalanced and she turns towards Loïc again, eyes ablaze.

"Fine."

He winks and replaces his glasses, "Until then, ma chérie."

~

Marinette shuts the washroom stall door behind her and latches it shut, fighting the nausea bubbling at the back of her throat. She stares at the floor for a long moment, her expression blank and devoid of anything beyond the initial hysteria, and leans against the partition for a while.

"You need to tell Chat."

Marinette turns her head and watches as Tikki clambers out of her purse, her eyes wider than she’s ever seen them.

"He'll be in the air right now, he won't get it anyway."

“He needs to know Marinette!” she insists, hovering from side to side in agitation, “He could be in danger!”

"He's after me right now, not Chat."

"You don't know that," Tikki admonishes, "We can’t trust him at his word."

“I know that, but I still need to protect him.”

“By making a deal with him?” she raises her voice, “You can’t seriously be considering this!”

“What other choice do I have? You heard him!” Marinette balls her hands into fists, “If I don’t cooperate, he’s going to…to....”

“We can find a way to stop him Marinette. We just have to think this through.”

“He hurts people for a living Tikki. How am I supposed to find him when I’m too busy fighting akuma?”

Tikki takes a deep breath, “We always find a way.”

Marinette huffs through her nose and doesn't argue, slamming the door back open. She stomps over to the bathroom mirror and tries to smile through her anger, wiping at the beads of sweat on her brow.

“And if we don’t?”

The kwarmi meets her bearer’s stare through their reflection, “We find hope in the impossible and we do the best that we can.”

“Sometimes that’s all we can do.”

~

There’s a buzz all over the school that she can barely begin to contemplate, too wrapped up in her own thoughts to grasp anything beyond her own nose. It isn’t until lunchtime that Alya finally manages to chisel away at her self-induced daze, unceremoniously shoving a picture of Adrien and a brunette in her face on her phone.

“That’s her! That’s his girlfriend!”

Marinette blinks rapidly, “What?”

“Kaia Gerber! You know, Cindy Crawford’s daughter! No offense Marinette but damn, they make a fine power couple.”

“No offense taken,” Marinette mumbles, her eyes glued to the photo. Adrien’s smiling, his head tipped back ever so slightly with some unspoken joke said between them, and Kaia’s body is orientated towards him, their eyes meeting with that indelible model chemistry that speaks volume against the lens. He’s so photogenic and she’s drop dead gorgeous, all brown eyes and cheekbones against his perfect, flawless skin. She can’t help but stare in awe, the amount of beauty captured in the frame too splendid for words.

“I…”

“I know right?” Alya turns her phone back and scrolls to find another photo, “Here they are again. Check out that photobomb.”

Adrien’s head is turned to the side, his profile perfectly captured as Kaia fixes his crooked tie. Further to the left of the frame, Justin Bieber grimaces at the two.

“Throwin’ some shade,” Alya snickers, continuing to scroll. Marinette watches over her shoulder as they pass through hundreds of photos, all of them featuring gorgeous celebrities in negotiably beautiful dresses and designs. Chat was right about Madonna, she thinks, raising a brow over that particular fashion choice.

Wait…

Adrien…

…was at the Met Gala?

She says as much and Alya turns around, staring at her like she’d lost her proverbial marbles, “What is going on with you? Of course he was, didn’t you get his snap story?”

“Snap story?”

“You do have Adrien on Snapchat right?”

“Yeah, but I didn’t see it.”

“You? Not creeping Adrien?” Alya grabs her by the shoulders, “Who are you and what have you done with my Marinette?”

She laughs, although the sensation still feels heavy in her chest, “I’m…I’m over my crush on Adrien, Alya. You saw him in that photo, he’s in love!”

Alya takes a step back and eyes her appraisingly, “My little baby, all grown up and making mature decisions.”

“Shut up,” she flicks her with the back of her hand, hitting Alya’s shoulder, “Things are different now.”

Nooo,” Alya narrows her eyes, “Is that why you’ve been all doe eyed on me lately? You have another crush, don’t you?”

“Not really,” Marinette replies and she’s surprised when it feels like a lie on her tongue, “Not that it matters. The bell is going to ring soon and I’ve already been late for phys ed more times than I can count this semester. Let’s go.”

~

CN
Just landed, thank god.

Ladybug
Let me know when you’re settled in. I need to see you.

CN
Missed me?

Ladybug
Just text me alright?

CN
As you wish :)

~

She chooses this location specifically for the lack of view, nestled deep within a semi-covered courtyard thick with trees and shrubs. There are no inward facing windows and there’s only one way in and out, all of which she can keep an eye on from where she’s set a blanket between the lilac trees. She knows Loïc could be anywhere, but she’d made sure the path she’d taken to the 16e arrondissement was as convoluted as she could possibly make it. Even if he was tracking her, there was no way he’d be able to drive fast enough through the winding streets of Paris to keep an eye on her whereabouts.

The hollow sounding thud of his baton hitting the sod has her spinning on her heels, the hairs on the back of her neck suddenly standing on edge. Stepping cautiously out from beneath the branches of purple blossoms, she spots that familiar mop of blond hair over one of the hedges, windblown and shining silver in the moonlight. Giddy, she emerges fully from under the overhanging flowers and pauses on the cobblestone pathway, her heart on fire.

“Chat…”

He turns and the grin that spreads across his cheeks is nothing short of breathtaking, “M’Lady.”

There’s a flurry of movement and Marinette’s not sure who dives first, but she’s wrapped up in his arms within moments and the sensation bubbling in her chest feels so good it hurts.

“How was the flight?” she asks, her lips muffled against his neck.

“Long,” he replies, brushing the bangs from her forehead, “I’m glad to be home.”

“Me too. I brought you food.”

“Yessss,” he grins, closing his eyes and pulling his hands to his chest, “I’m starving.”

“I knew you would be. I brought the works.”

She takes his hand and they duck beneath the overhanging branches, leading him to the blanket she’d set out earlier down by a wicker basket and a bag of pastries. She can’t help but smile as he wriggles out of her grasp and leaps towards the bag, tearing it open and shoving his hand inside, “Croissants? You spoil me M’Lady!”

“Only for you,” she kneels on the blanket and opens the basket, reaching for the plates and napkins, “I brought sandwiches too.”

“Oooh,” he crawls over and she hands him a parchment bundle, “You really went all out.”

“You need to eat more.”

He shrugs, “My father begs to differ.”

“I don’t care what your father says,” she unwraps her own sandwich and sets it on the plate in front of her, “You’re too skinny. Eat.”

He gives her a funny look, “You’ve got to be the first person who's ever said that to me.”

“You should hear my parents every time we’re on the news,” she takes a bite and settles back onto her haunches, crossing her legs, “Does that boy live on the streets? Doesn’t anybody feed him?”

He blinks slowly and shakes his head, “I’m on a pretty strict diet.”

“Why? It’s not like you’re allergic to anything.”

“It’s more for appearances sake. You have to look the part in my line of work."

Marinette frowns as he puts down his sandwich and reaches for the water bottle in the basket instead, “Well, no one's judging you now, so eat up.”

“Yes ma’am,” he twists off the cap and takes a swig, “I barely had the chance to eat anything over the weekend so this is awesome.”

“Why not? Isn’t New York City famous for food?”

“Oh yeah,” he says, taking a voracious bite of his sandwich, “The bagels are amazing. Literally, you can find every single type of bagel in the world. Raisin bagels? Got them. Asiago cheese and tomato bagels? Got those too. How about rainbow bagels? Everywhere.”

“Really? Rainbow bagels?”

“Yeah, and I really wanted one! But nooooo, nothing but carrot sticks and Perrier for me.”

“You could have just snuck out.”

“And risk being spotted in New York City as Chat Noir? Yeah, no.”

“Good point,” she shifts closer to him, slipping another croissant onto his plate, “I can’t make rainbow bagels but if you dig further down in that bag there, I packed some pain au chocolat for you.”

He wriggles in his seat with excitement and Marinette can't help but laugh, “Have I told you how much I love you today?”

“You have not.”

He pushes himself up on his hands and knees and presses his lips to her cheek, “Let me make it up to you.”

Her skin is on fire but that unshakable protective instinct that’s been rearing its head at her all day won’t give her any peace, “Eat first, then sex.”

He pulls back and gapes at her, “Did I just hear that correctly? Ladybug doesn’t want to jump my bones?”

“Shut up before I make you,” she grumbles, taking the croissant off his place and shoving it into his mouth. He laughs through the bite and takes the other half in his hand, holding it above his head and just out of reach. She clambers over top of him and they wrestle for the half-eaten pastry, rolling off of the blanket and onto the grass in a flurry of giggles and tangled limbs. She digs her fingers in beneath his ribs and he squeals, squirming and she takes the upper hand and flips him over onto his stomach, pinning him to the ground.

He huffs into the sod, “I can like, lift a bus you know.”

“And I can make you do anything I want.”

“That’s a good point.”

“It sure is. Now eat.”

She bends over and shoves the croissant back in his mouth, smiling triumphantly. He juts his chin out and sulks, chewing placatingly but he can’t deny that he needs this. It feels good to be taken care of by someone after being handed a schedule every morning and being left to fend for himself.

“Are you going to behave now?” she says from over top of him, holding another croissant in front of his nose. He grumbles just for show and opens his mouth, his arms still pinned against his sides, and lets her pop it in his mouth.

“I like you like this,” she coos in his ear, shifting her hips against his spine, “Where I can keep an eye on you and keep you out of trouble.”

“Me? Get into trouble?”

“Mmhmm,” she leans over, her chest flat against his back, “Always. It drives me crazy.”

“I drive you crazy?”

“In more ways than one.”

Marinette buries her fingers in his hair and massages his scalp, revelling in the way his body immediately seems to deflate beneath her. He turns his head and closes his eyes, moaning into the grass.

“That’s...mmm…”

“Good?” she brings her other hand up to his shoulder and begins to knead the muscles there, momentarily taken aback by how stiff he is, “When was the last time you actually relaxed?”

He snorts, “Like, never?”

She brings her other hand to his shoulder and digs her thumbs in beneath the ridge of his shoulder blades, “Well, there’s no better time than the present. Get comfortable.”

“Unmf,” is all he manages to say as she goes to town on the muscles of his shoulders and back, gouging into every knot with her fingers. He swears he sees stars at one point, the pain so intense that it starts being pleasant, like the satisfying ache he feels after a long chase. His toes twitch as she moves up towards the junction of his neck, jamming the pads of her fingers right there and god, that feels good, forgetting himself for a moment. He vaguely recognises the sounds escaping his lips but he’s too far gone to care, too distracted by the breath on his neck and the press of her body against him.

He bites his lip on the next jab as she kneads him with her hands, the pressure firm and even as she soothes her fingers flat across his spine. Her hands are ruthless but careful, steady and practiced and he feels the tension from his shoulders uncoiling, his gasps falling into a steady rhythm.

He forgets about his weekend, forgets about his father and his carrot sticks, and as Ladybug’s relentless hands continue to demolish the stone sized knots in his shoulders, he forgets about everything. He can’t remember the last time he’d felt this comfortable, what with the life he’s found himself accustomed to. He feels like he could fall asleep and sinks further into the spongy sod she’s pinned him to, melting into her touch.

“Is this alright?” she whispers, shimmying down his back until she’s straddling his hips. She digs the heels of her palms into the muscles on either side of his spine and he groans into the blades of grass, writhing beneath her. She prods experimentally with her fingers and drives them into a knot in the middle of his back, the action nearly sending him reeling and fuck, he’s tighter than he thought, not that the plane ride seemed to help. Sensing his reaction, she takes a more careful approach and rubs circles against his skin instead.

Her hands track lower, kneading the muscles of his lower back and pushing him even further into the sod. He inhales sharply as she grazes the cheeks of his ass, lighting his skin on fire and working out the stiffness at the same time, sending him reeling. His stomach erupts with butterflies as the warm glow of his back becomes more of a sweet, intense burn and he tries to keep his hips still but the muscles in his thighs are quivering in response to the rhythm of her fingers, wiping his mind blank.

He wishes he wasn’t trapped in his suit right now, wishes he could feel the silky glide of her fingers on his bare skin sending shivers up his spine. He bites his lip to try and muffle a particularly obscene moan but it escapes his throat regardless, inspiring a soft chuckle from the woman above him. She doubles down on his glutes and he shudders, her fingers and thumbs dipping even further to graze the skin of his inner thighs.

“Ladybug…” he gasps before he can stop himself, putty in her grasp. His breath hitches as she circles back up, squeezing his cheeks and heat blossoms in his lower belly, inspiring something feral inside him. He can’t stop imagining the way her fingers would feel if they moved just a little lower and he lets out a whimper, his breath coming in shorter and quicker huffs as he’s drowned out by a buzz of pleasure suffusing his entire body, “Please…”

“Roll over and detransform,” she orders and her breath is shaky and wrecked. She swings a leg up and over his body as he obeys her, eyes wide and cheeks flushed with need and he lets his transformation drop, slipping his mask over his eyes.

He’s glancing up at her, his mouth slightly open and spread out before her. She climbs back over top of him and helps him out of his t-shirt, fire racing through her veins and setting her alight, “Let me take care of you.”

Chat stares up at her, regarding her with a mixture of desire and awe and something else he can’t find words for. He’s rock hard in seconds, gasping as she pulls down his pants and briefs in one go, slipping his socks off as well. She clambers back up and runs her hands along his hips and thighs, careful to keep her breath measured to disguise the way her clit throbs beneath her suit. He’s laid out beneath her, utterly naked and hard for her, his cock jutting proudly against his abdomen. She presses her thumbs at the joint where his pelvis meets his legs and revels in the throaty moan she drags out of him, teasing him senseless.

“Fuck,” he whines as she trails her fingers back up his hipbones, working her way back down his body. She kneads and rubs at every tight knot she finds, luxuriating in the feeling of his taut muscles under her palms, “Please Ladybug.”

The way he says her name, wrecked and breathy and desperate for her, does her in. She stops teasing and reaches down to grasp the root of his cock, thick and pulsing in her hand, and she drags her fingers up and down his shaft, circling the wetness at the tip with her thumb.

“More?” she murmurs, her other hand splayed against his inner thigh. She bends down and kisses the exposed column of his neck, grazing her teeth against the tendons.

She increases her speed and the moan she entices from his lips is broken and wanton, his lashes fluttering against his cheekbones. He thrusts up into her grasp and she takes his answer for what it is, watching as she coaxes him further towards the precipice. He writhes and arches into her touch, one hand gripping her knee as the other buries itself in his hair for lack of anything better to do. He tugs and she increases the pressure until he lets off a cry of pure bliss, muffled by the way her lips hover just above his. She kisses him quickly, deep and chaste and it leaves him wanting, leaves him begging and panting and desperate for more.

“Come for me,” she breathes against his lips and he can’t help but submit to her, thrusting up into her grasp and a rush of heat spills into her hand, frantic and earnest. She lets him ride it out, the wonderful, messy glide of his cock against her suit prolonging his pleasure and she bends down to kiss him, gasping against him. He keeps his eyes screwed shut, rolling through wave after wave of pleasure as she slowly relinquishes her grasp on him until he’s finally spent, flushed and panting and shivering against the sensation of the night.

When he finally opens his eyes, he gazes upwards towards the strings of fairy lights strung across the rooftops and rafters, illuminating the courtyard and the lilac trees above him. He turns his head to the side and pulls her closer, her body pressed against his side, her head resting on his chest and he wonders, perhaps, if this is a turning point for them, if this is some barrier she’d finally kicked down and burnt in favour of the possibilities they could share together.

“I love you,” he sighs into her hair, brushing some aside that had fallen astray. She only presses closer, wrapping her arms around him and breathes him in.

Chapter Text

         22: Roleplay

“Good morning darling.”

Marinette stomps across the threshold of the bakery door and rushes onto the busy sidewalk, lips pursed and hands clenched into fists. She doesn’t deign him with so much as a curtesy glance, turning forcefully and marching east.

“If you’re so hell bent on getting his Miraculous, why don’t you just hunt him down yourself?”

“Let’s cut right to the chase, why don’t we?” he drawls sarcastically, swiping left on his smartphone before shoving it back in his pocket.

“The less I have to talk to you the better.”

“Well,” he drawls, “Somebody woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.”

“Spare me the small talk, I’m not in the mood.”

“Is that so? You certainly looked happy when you got home late last night.”

Marinette shirks back in disgust, “You’re repulsive.”

“Hardly. Just observant,” he shrugs, shifting his ball cap, “But you’re a tricky target to follow, I’ll give you that.”

“I have no intention of leading you to him. Besides, you never answered my question.”

Loïc purses his lips, “He’s much more careful that you’ve even been. He never takes the same route home twice and I always loose him between the 4e and the Seine.”

“Some hunter you are.”

“Says the woman who’s supposed to be responsible for defeating Le Papillon. I mean, it’s been, what, three years since you started your stint as Ladybug?”

“Two and a half,” she snaps back, “And you said I was the one who woke up on the wrong side of the bed?”

“If we’re in the business of being honest with each other, can I just say that Le Papillon is getting a bit antsy?”

“What do I care?”

“Seems he’s in the business of making demands and having them met. Pompous prick that he is, he does have a point.”

“And that is?”

“We’ve got ’till Saturday to fine tune this plan of ours. There’s some first responder appreciation thing going on so police presence on the streets will be at a minimum and that’s when he plans on getting this show in the road. You don’t believe me?” he questions, turning his lip at her less than convinced expression, “Here, read this.”

He fishes his phone out of his pocket and unlocks it, finding the conversation and dropping it in her palm, “I made the mistake of giving him my number and now he won’t stop texting me.”

“They say I made a deal with the devil,” she mocks him, shooting him a glare before scrolling through his conversation, “How do I know you didn’t make this conversation up yourself?”

“Seriously?” he makes a derisive noise and Marinette can only assume he’s rolling his eyes behind his sunglasses, “Teenagers. So cynical.”

“Killers,” she snarks back, “So trustworthy.”

“Good god,” he grumbles, pulling a battered cigarette case from his back pocket, “You really are in a nasty mood.”

“Say something worthwhile and I might change my mind.”

“You’re hardly in a position to talk.”

“You’re hardly in a position to order.”

“I know where you live. I know your friends, your family. I know everything about you.”

“And none of that will help you get to Chat.”

“It’s only a matter of time before he slips up. Everyone does in the end.”

“I can’t trust you. You’ve given me no reason to start.”

“Despite my initial akuma fuelled power trip, I’m not all about causing chaos and terror,” he replies, flicking the spark of his lighter, “I prefer to stick to the status quo.”

“And what is that supposed to mean?”

“Every person who has killed a public figure eventually gets caught. Oswald, Ray, Princip, Godse; I don’t intend to be next.”

“But you want to be the first to get away with it.”

A dark shadow passes over his features, “You’re starting to get on my nerves.”

“At least you and Le Papillon have something in common.”

Loïc pinches the bridge of his nose, “Look, I am trying to work with you for the common good. Well, your common good anyway, I just want some powers back so I can make more money out east. Now, are we going to work together or not? It’ll be a lot easier if we just call a truce and be done with it.”

“How do I know you won’t kill him?”

“You don’t.”

“So how can I trust you?”

“You can’t. But in this case, trust my selfishness. I want control above anything, power and control over my destiny. I want a fat caseload and an even fatter wallet and with my very own akuma in my possession, I can have both of those things. I’m willing to cut a deal with the only person on this planet who has been able to kill me, and now that I’ve been resurrected I’m not about to make the same mistake twice. Let me get him for the spectacle and you don’t even have to take the damn ring, I’ll do it myself if that’ll make you happy, I don’t care. I get my powers back and you get that pain in the ass’s name and you’ll never see heads or tails of me ever again.”

Marinette walks quietly for a long moment, letting his words sink in. Tikki buzzes, agitated in her purse but Marinette can’t be bothered, Chat’s smile and voice haunting her decision like a plague.

“Fine.”

“Fine what?”

Marinette steels herself, “I’ll play your little game. But if you do more than graze him, I’ll kill you.”

“I doubt that,” he snorts, smoke pouring from his nostrils, “But like I said, I don’t plan on killing him. Nobody hires a merc with a price on his head.”

“Then we have a deal.”

“Yes darling, that we do.”

Marinette swallows the bile bubbling at the back of her throat, “Where’s he planning on striking first?”

“You know he’s all about spectacle.”

“Eiffel Tower?”

“Where else?”

“How dramatic.”

“It’s Le Papillon. What do you expect?”

“Nothing less,” she mutters, shifting the strap of her purse across her chest, “At night?”

“Dusk I believe.”

“Great. Anything else?”

“Not that I can think of off the top of my head.”

“Good. Let me know if anything changes.”

“I know where to find you.”

“And isn’t that a comforting thought.”

“Catch you later Ladybug.”

Marinette sticks her tongue out in disgust and crosses the road to her school, “Can’t wait.”

~

Ladybug
Do you want to do our patrol together tonight?

CN
To what do I owe the honour?

Ladybug
I know you’re usually busy on Wednesdays but I thought you might want to hang out after whatever it is you do.

CN
Let me check my schedule.

Ladybug
Your schedule?

Ladybug
Sounds like a friend I know. He always has a schedule.

CN
Really?

Ladybug
Is it a boy thing?

CN
Having a schedule?

Ladybug
Yeah.

CN
I don’t think so. I just like to be organised.

Ladybug
Seriously? You’re the most scatterbrained person I know.

CN
Meowch. I have an image to uphold you know.

Ladybug
As Chat? Or as you?

CN
Who says I’m one or the other?

Ladybug
That’s how I see it. My civilian side isn’t anything like Ladybug.

CN
I highly doubt that.

Ladybug
Good thing you don’t know me in real life then.

CN
I’d love to try

Ladybug
Not yet.

CN
Soon?

Ladybug
We’ll see.

CN
Rats Chats.

Ladybug
…seriously? That was horrible.

CN
If I just keep punning, will I eventually break you down?

Ladybug
No. Don’t even think about it.

CN
I’ve got a meowtain of them I want to try.

Ladybug
You know, sometimes you can actually be kind of funny.

Ladybug
But this is not one of those times.

CN
Really? M’Lady thinks I can be funny? I’ve never felt so cattered.

Ladybug
Please no. Forget I said anything.

Ladybug
I take back everything.

Ladybug
Chat?

“Marinette!”

Marinette jerks upwards from where she’s leaning against the oak tree in front of the music hall and stumbles slightly before catching her balance. Adrien suddenly appears beside her, gently grasping her elbow to help stop her fall.

“Adrien!”

“Long time no see,” he smiles, letting go of her arm and dropping his own against his side, “How are you?”

“I’m uh, good thanks,” she replies, plastering a sheepish grin to her face, “How are you?”

“Tired,” he admits, brushing his fingers though his hair, “Jetlag sucks and I was up pretty late last night.”

“Yeah? What were you up to?”

“Well…can you keep a secret?”

Marinette presses her back against the tree and tries to stay calm, “Me? Sure, I’m…I’m great at secrets.”

He takes a deep breath and smothers his smirk, “I was on a date.”

“A date?” she breathes, eyes widening, “With who?”

“She’s…she wants to keep it a secret.”

“Oh.”

“But that doesn’t mean I can’t still talk about it,” he shrugs, “It was amazing, she’s amazing. I mean, she even made me a picnic!”

“A picnic?”

“Yeah! It was pretty romantic.”

“Romantic?” Marinette looks down at her phone for a moment to check for a response, “That sounds…nice.”

“It was,” he sits down against the trunk of the tree and brings his knee to his chest, “She’s not really the romantic type to be honest so I was pretty shocked.”

“Is that a good thing? Or a bad thing?”

“Being romantic?” Adrien cocks an eyebrow in surprise, “It’s a personal choice I guess. I love it though.”

Marinette slides down the tree to sit beside him, cradling her phone in her lap, “I wouldn’t know.”

“No lucky boy on your radar?”

Marinette tries not to choke, “B-Boy? No, nope. No boys.”

“Girls then?”

“No!” she scrambles to find her composure, missing the way he bites down on his lip to keep from laughing, “No nothing.”

“That’s too bad,” he replies with a grin he can’t quite stifle, “I know more than a few guys who have talked about asking you out.”

“I…I’m not…” she covers her face with her hands and cringes, her cheeks on fire, “It’s not…I don’t have time.”

“I’m the same way,” Adrien responds and tips his head back against the trunk, “But somehow I make time for her.”

“Yeah?” Marinette splits her fingers apart to peer through them, “Is it Kaia?”

“Kaia?” Adrien reacts, his eyes widening before dissolving into snickers, “Nooo. I mean, my dad set us up but…Kaia? I’ve known her for a couple years but I’m…not really her type? I don’t know, it wouldn’t work out.”

“You’re not her type?” Marinette drops her hands and stares at him incredulously, “How is that even possible?”

Adrien turns away and looks into the courtyard, willing his cheeks to keep from flushing, “She’s…she’s into guys who are…how do I word this? Stronger than me I guess?”

“Strong?” Marinette frowns, glancing down at his exposed arms, “Does she need glasses?”

Adrien bursts out laughing, “No!”

Embarrassment thrown aside, Marinette turns towards him and waves her arms in disbelief, “Then what could she not possibly see in you? You’re amazing!”

“Th-thank you,” he hiccups through his laughter, “But it’s alright. She just likes tough, bad boy types, that’s all. I don’t quite fit that description.”

“Then she’s missing out,” Marinette assures him, peering down at her phone again.

He gestures towards her lap with his chin, “Are you expecting a text?”

“Me? N-No, I mean…yes actually.”

“From who?”

“My friend.”

“A boyfriend?”

She narrows her eyes, “I already told you I don’t have a boyfriend. He’s just a friend.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah…why?”

“What’s that on your neck then?”

Panicking, Marinette's hands scramble to her neck, fervently brushing the exposed skin for imaginary bugs and winces when she comes across a particularly tender bruise just behind her left ear. She immediately freezes, her legs spasming outwards before curling in, and burrows her face in her knees.

“Is that a hickey?” he whispers conspiratorially, thankful that she can’t see the smug expression on his lips. She makes some sort of high pitched, anguished moan and Adrien almost takes pity on her, “Don’t worry, your secret’s safe with me.”

Marinette pitches another fit into her thighs and curls her hand around her neck in a death grip, turning her head to expose one eye, “How am I going to finish school like this!?”

“I always keep a tube of concealer on me,” he says breezily, fishing through the school bag at his side, “My girlfriend loves to take her frustrations out on my neck.”

“D-does she?” Marinette squeaks, lifting her head.

“Oh yeah,” he intones, “She likes to bite.”

Marinette swallows uncomfortably and shifts her hips against the base of the tree, “Yeah?”

“Mmhmm,” he pulls the tube from a small green sack and holds it against her skin to compare shades, “It’s annoying to cover up all the time but I kind of love it,” he puts the tube back in the bag and searches for another, “And she’s a little possessive...it's actually pretty sexy.”

“Really?”

“Yup", he pulls out another tube and deems it suitable, twisting off the lid, "She does most of the heavy lifting, per se. I’m just along for the ride."

“Wh-why are you telling me this?”

“Well, now that it looks like you’re in the same boat as I am, I want to ask you a question,” he says, squeezing a dollop the size of a peppercorn onto the tip of his index finger.

“A question? A-about what?”

“Actually, let me rephrase that. I need some advice. See, my girlfriend is a bit of a control freak and tends to…take the lead, you know?” Adrien waves nonchalantly and keeps going, revelling in the blush spreading down her neck and chest, “What do you think she would do if I turned the tables?”

BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP

Marinette jolts from her spot against the trunk and turns back to Adrien, her eyes as wide as saucers, “That was the bell!”

Adrien chuckles, pulling himself to his feet, “It was. Come here and I'll put it on quick."

He leans in much closer than strictly necessary and dabs the concealer against the purple bruise, deftly blending the make-up into her skin. Marinette stands frozen and takes a deep mouthful of air, breathing him in and reeling at the way her senses seem to sharpen, the slowly subsiding springtime itch suddenly flaring at the base of her spine.

"All finished," he whispers, his breath flush against her ear, "I’ll see you later Marinette.”

She watches him walk away and jerks when the phone in her hand begins vibrating without warning. She nearly drops it before getting a grip and she brings it up to her face, quickly checking the message.

CN
I can meet you after 23:00. See you tonight.

~

“Do you like games, M’Lady?”

“What?” she asks, her eyes flicking up to his face before returning to his belt.

“I said,” he repeats helpfully, “do you like games?”

“Not at the moment. Why?”

“Because I want to play one."

“No,” she retorts, her fingers casually resuming their task. Undaunted, Chat places his hands over hers and traps them, her fingers twitching futilely against his belt buckle.

“I’m afraid I’m going to have to insist,” he urges, his expression predatory.

“And if I refuse?”

“Then you’ll just have to head home to satisfy yourself.”

He’s taking a risk here and he knows it. After all, Marinette has always preferred to be in charge so as to know which way the shots are going to be called, especially since she’s the one usually calling them. There’s every chance she’ll just let go of his belt and call him out for taking things too far but...there’s also a chance she’ll take on his challenge and let him decide how things will play out. Chat maintains his expression of casual challenge while she frowns up at him, determined not to let his nervousness play out on his features.

“...Fine,” she purses her lips, “What’s the game?”

Chat smiles in relief, “Do you remember when we were talking about celebrity crushes?”

“Yes…” Marinette drawls, the word settling uncertainly on her tongue. He watches in earnest as the confusion on her face starts to fade and he know that she can see where this is leading.

"Then how about a little game of make believe?” Chat lowers his head to her neck and brushes his lips against her skin, pressing closer and walking her back towards the wall.

“Do you want me to call you Christiano or Abel?” Marinette teases, smirking even as his hips pin hers to the brick.

“Christiano maybe..." Chat can’t resist leaning back to look her in the eye any more than he can stop the smirk twisting his lips, “Or you could call me Adrien.”

“A-Adrien?” Marinette squeaks, her body stiffening in shock. She gapes at him, her eyes widening dramatically, “N-no! Chat, I go to school with him. We have classes together! How would I even be able to look at him?”

“You’ll figure it out,” Chat murmurs against her collarbones as his hands push her skirt upwards, his fingernails scraping her inner thighs before brushing against her clit. She gasps as the tips of his fingers rub circles around it, the cotton fabric of her panties grazing the sensitive nub in delicious counterpoint. Her hand reaches out, ghosting over the ridge in his trousers but Chat pulls his hips away, ignoring her whimpers.

“Ah, ah, ah,” he scolds even as the muscles in his thighs seem to tighten in protest. He dips his index finger deeper, teasing her entrance through the cotton and revels in the way she seems to widen her stance to accommodate his movements, “You haven’t agreed to play. Who will it be?”

“I can't call you Adrien,” she protests.

"Why not? We're both tall, blond and incredibly handsome. Is it so much of a stretch?"

Marinette raises an eyebrow, "Is this some sort of jealousy thing?"

"Hardly," he replies, his finger still pressing lightly in and out, teasing her lips while his thumb rubs against her clit. “I don't think I have too much to worry about. Besides, when you see him tomorrow at school, you’ll have to look him in the eye and remember all the things I did to you.”

She narrows her eyes, "You're being ridiculous."

"Come on Ladybug, it'll be fun!" Chat squeezes her chest beneath his fingers in retaliation, pinching her nipple through the fabric.

"That's, ah! not fair," she hisses, arching into his grip as he lowers his lips to nibble on her neck, "I see him all the time."

"Oops," Chat slips his fingers under the seam of her panties, running his fingertip along her slit and drawing up the moisture gathering there, "I guess you'll be thinking about me a lot then."

"You don't know any of your celebrity crushes personally," she grumbles back, "Wait...do you?"

Chat shrugs and sucks on the skin only a few centimeters away from the bruise he’d helped her cover earlier that day. Ruthlessly, he presses a finger inside her and listens to her breath hitch, "Does it matter? This is just a game M'Lady, no need to take it so seriously."

"Ugh," Marinette pulls back ever so slightly, "Where’s this coming from anyway? I just want to have sex with you."

"It'll be fun, I promise," he smirks into her skin, redoubling his efforts and adding a second finger, curling them to find that spot he knows drives her wild. His thumb presses into her clit as he sucks strongly on the patch of skin at the juncture of her shoulder and neck, purposely leaving a mark there. Clearly thinking the discussion was over, she makes quick work of the Armani buckle, deftly popping the button on his trousers and easing the zipper down.

Chat waits until she’s freed his erection from his briefs before stepping back, leaving her flushed and panting against the wall. He watches her expression as he stands there, shirtless and gleaming faintly under a light sheen of sweat from a combination of their activities and the mounting humidity of the heat wave. He sees her eyes darken as she looks down at his parted zipper, his cock bobbing and hard, jutting out into the warm night air and she steps forward but he grabs her wrist instead. Raising her fingers to his mouth, he kisses her palm before drawing the tip of her finger between his teeth, sucking hard.

“So?” he asks, releasing the digit with a pop before moving onto the next one.

"So what?"

"Are you going to play or not?"

“Chat...” she whinges, reaching for him with her other hand. He catches it without looking and easily pins it up against the wall, his erection rubbing over her stomach, “I already told you, I have to see him in class tomorrow.”

“Oh well,” Chat sing songs, nibbling along a third finger, canting his hips against her, “You'll just have to go to school and look him in the eyes knowing what I’m about to do to you or...I can leave you to your own devices. You have such talented fingers,” he taunts, “I’m sure you could put them to good use.”

“Of course…” he continues to tease, scraping his teeth over her thumb and swirling his tongue over the sensitive skin of her bare wrist, “If you’d rather have my cock…”

“Fine."

“Fine...what?” Chat’s eyebrow quirks.

She huffs, “Fine Adrien, I accept your terms.”

Smiling, Chat releases her wrist and allows her to touch him, her squeeze almost punishingly tight. He ignores her small retribution and continues trailing kisses along the inside of her arm, reaching under her skirt to grasp the edge of her panties and he drags them down just past the crease of her thighs, letting her worry about kicking them off. Quickly, he uses his free hand to shove her shirt up, pushing the cups of her bra aside to grasp one breast directly, and squeezes it firmly before tugging on her nipple. Marinette whimpers as he plants a final kiss on the inside of her elbow before letting her arm drop around his neck and her fingers pump his cock, her thumb brushing up and over the engorged head to distribute pre-come down the length of it.

Chat moans into her mouth as her lips seal over his, thrusting into her hand as he leans forward and pins her flush to the wall, “Here or—?”

“I don’t really care. Anywhere's good.”

“I don’t really care who?” he demands, grasping her thighs and lifting her up.

Marinette reaches down between them and shifts her skirt out of the way, grabbing his cock and dragging him up and down her wet slit before slipping his head against her opening, “Fine. Adrien,” she moans as she sinks onto him, “Ahh...I don’t care Adrien, just oh!

Chat echoes the sentiment, his eyes slamming shut as he feels her wet heat envelope him. His hands circle her waist, sliding around to brace his palms against the wall to keep the brick from rubbing them both raw and Marinette reaches out, threading her fingers through his hair and tugging his face up to press her lips against his, groaning into his mouth.

“This is…ah, great,” she pants as she bites his lip, sucking on it to soothe the ache, “I think I love this position.”

Chat mutters something or other against her chest, mentally agreeing as he thrusts up into her, her legs wrapped tightly around his hips. His cock’s almost vertical inside her, her already tight channel clenching to an almost mind-numbing pressure as he rocks against her; everything about this position is tight and warm and gloriously wet as she moans and pants and writhes in his arms. They were about as close together as it was physically possible to be, another perk being that the position put her breasts very nearly in front his mouth as he rocks against her, increasing in tempo. He didn’t even have to lean down to catch the nipple between his lips, sucking hard on the tip and worrying it with his teeth as Marinette—

Oh!” she gasps, nearly screaming, “Oh, Adrien, right…just like—ahhh, just…like that.”

Her walls flutter around him, not quite the compulsive spasms of an orgasm but it's close enough that he feels like he’s been lit on fire, his name on her lips igniting an inferno inside him that has him gritting his teeth in an attempt to control himself. Risking it, Chat pulls a hand out from behind her and reaches up to grasp her other breast as he leans in, fucking her senseless. Bracing her shoulders against the brick, he wraps a hand beneath her ass and holds her steady until he can pull back a bit further and slam into her.

“A-Adrien, I, ah! I’m going to—!”

Chat feels her clench around him, her inner muscles quivering as she arches in his grasp, her breasts pushing into his mouth, and her lips moaning his name. He cries out at the heady pressure, her civilian name spilling from his lips and smothered incomprehensibly against her chest as his heart clenches and lightning races down his spine. It feels like being shoved off a cliff, forcibly weightless and awestruck, unforeseen lights flashing behind his eyelids as he slams up into her, his muscles tensing as his release consumes him.

Chat Adrien comes down from his high slowly and finds himself shaking for a whole new reason; he’d wanted to chasten her – however vaguely and indirectly – for being so willfully blind to his identity; he wouldn’t come out and say it but now that he knew it was her, he was bewildered and annoyed that she stubbornly refused to see him in return. He wanted her to look him in the eyes tomorrow and remember what he’d done to her. He wanted her to sit down beside him in marketing and squirm against the bench, reliving the way he’d pressed her against a brick wall and made her toes curl.

What he hadn’t counted on, however, was what hearing his name from her lips would do to him.

He feels wrecked, if he’s being honest. All physical exhaustion aside, hearing her moan his name in the midst of her orgasm had him seeing stars, simultaneously shredding his insides and sending him into one of the most forceful orgasms he could ever remember having. Physically he was exhausted; emotionally he was drained.

Marinette’s snickers against his skin forces him back to reality as she uncrosses her legs to slide down his thighs, her legs unsteady. Arms snaked around his waist, she digs the pads of her fingers into the muscles on either side of his spine and presses her forehead against his collarbone.

“Some day,” she announces, oblivious to the turmoil playing havoc in his mind, and he feels a little better knowing that her voice is as shaky and as breathless as he feels, “I want to do this in a bed.”

All Chat can do is laugh and nod in silent agreement.

Chapter Text

       23: Kink Fetish - Praise

"Marinette?"

“Hm?” Marinette jerks on impulse, gazing upwards from where she'd buried her face in her folded arms, "Hey Nino."

"You're looking a little red this morning," he remarks with a smile, taking up his seat beside her, "Fall asleep on your balcony again?"

Marinette shakes her head and grabs her textbook from her bag, "You're never going to let me live that down are you?"

"You had the funniest sunburn I've ever seen," he snickers, "Wrap around sunglasses and a turtleneck? Really?"

Marinette giggles uncomfortably and tries to forget that on time she'd forgotten her sunscreen when they'd fought for hours over the Seine, "I told everyone a hundred times, it was for a fashion project."

"Sure..." he smirks, rummaging through his backpack, "But really, why are you so red? Are you sick?"

"Sick?" Marinette replays last night's sexcapade in her head for the umpteenth time, "No, no, I'm fine. Just embarrassed."

"What happened this time?"

"This time?”

He shrugs, “You’re always embarrassed about something.”

“I am not,” she mumbles, flipping to chapter four.

“Yeah you are. So who was it then? Amina? Chloe?”

She cringes, “Can you keep a secret?”

Nino nods in earnest and drops his textbook against his desk to give her his full attention, “I…I’m kind of seeing someone.”

“You WHAT?!”

“Shhh!” Marinette swats him across the chest, “Keep it down!”

Nino recoils for a moment, completely rendered speechless. She waits and lets him soak it in for a moment, watching in earnest as his eyes bulged, narrowed, and then widened again, “Does Alya know?”

Marinette swallows uncomfortably, “No. Not yet.”

“You’re seeing someone and she doesn’t know!?” he gapes at her, “She’s going to kill you. Oh god, she’s going to kill me!”

“Not if you don’t tell her.”

“Not tell Alya?” Nino shudders, “She knows everything. She’ll know I’m keeping a secret from her and then she’ll threaten me and—”

“You have to keep it a secret, do you understand?” Marinette insists, “I’ll protect you from her, I promise.”

“How? She’s an actual super spy. She’ll kick both our asses.”

“You’ll be just fine if you don’t tell her anything,” she rolls her eyes, “Anyway, I told you because I need advice.”

“Advice?” Nino reels at the change in subject, “Like, guy advice?”

She fiddles with the strap of her purse, “Well…you’re a guy in a relationship. I thought you would be a good person to ask.”

“Adrien’s in a relationship too you know,” Nino points out, “And he’s way better at these pep talks than I am.”

Marinette reddens at the thought of him, “N-not Adrien. I…I can’t ask him this.”

Nino raises a brow, “Why not?”

“Look, it doesn’t matter,” she tries to say breezily, hoping that he doesn’t notice the way her words seem to get stuck in her throat, “I need advice and it’s got to be you.”

“If you insist. Go for it.”

“Well…” she trails off, staring at her textbook, “What’s your…thing?”

“What?”

She shakes her head, “I mean, what’s the thing that makes you happiest when you’re with Alya? Like, what does she do that just makes you…well, happy I guess?”

“Ah,” Nino nods sagely and presses the bridge of his glasses further up his nose, “I see. You’ve got feelings for him, don’t you?”

“I…” Marinette can’t find it within her to say otherwise, “I just want to let him know I care.”

“Well, if you really want to know…”

“As long as it’s not about your sex life, then yes, I do.”

“Oh darn,” he laughs, snapping his fingers, “I have a whole list of the things she can do with her—”

“Nino!” she punches his arm, “I’m being serious!”

He laughs and grabs his wounded bicep, folding over in pain, “Your knuckles are sharp!”

“And I’ll use them again if you don’t answer me!”

“Fine, fine. She listens to my rants.”

“Your…rants?”

“Yeah,” he fiddles with the wires of his headphones, “My family is…messed up sometimes and it’s hard to talk about, so when something happens it’s like she just…she knows. And she sits me down and makes me food and just lets me talk, you know? Sometimes it takes a while but she never complains and I…honestly, it’s the best thing. It feels like someone actually cares.”

Marinette blinks rapidly, “That…that’s actually really helpful.”

“Yeah?” he replies, making eye contact with her again, “Is his family messed up too?”

“I think so,” she says, playing with the pages of her textbook, “He’s kind of neglected at home from what he’s told me. Not in like, a dangerous way or anything. It’s just…his dad sounds like a total dick.”

Nino snickers, “Are you sure you’re not dating Adrien?”

“What?” she chokes on her own saliva, grabbing at her throat, “No!”

“Well, whoever he is, he sounds like he has a lot more in common with him than he does with me.”

Marinette coughs forcefully into her elbow, her eyes watering, “They’re-cough-nothing-cough-alike.”

“You sure?” Nino opens the lid of her water bottle and hands it to her, “Well, if he’s anything like Adrien, he probably just needs someone to tell him that they care.”

She takes a few gulps and winces, “That’s it?”

“Yeah. Like, one time I told him he was really good with kids because my little brother is the poster child for ADHD and he can keep him happy and occupied for hours which is like…an actual miracle, so I told him and I thought he was going to cry.”

“Really?”

“It was kind of weird at the time but I thought about it after and…man, it kind of made me sad, you know? Like, I know he’s a popular guy and all that but…”

“But it’s still nice to hear it from people that matter,” Marinette supplies, turning away, “It makes sense.”

Nino adjusts the temples of his glasses, “Right? Anyway, that’s just my perspective. But if you haven’t already, you should just talk to the guy and tell him something personal, like how you like his taste in music!”

Marinette snorts, “I don’t even know what kind of music he listens to.”

“What?! How could you not know what kind of music he listens to?” Nino exclaims, waving with his hands, “What else would you even talk about?”

Marinette rolls her eyes and sits back in her chair, “We talk about lots of other things.”

“Like what?”

“I…everything actually. Well, almost everything.”

“Almost everything?”

“Well…” she frowns, shifting her purse so it sits in her lap, “We all have secrets.”

“Just make sure they don’t turn into skeletons,” he replies, “If it’s one thing I’ve learnt from my crazy family, it’s that keeping secrets is no different than lying. Best to be honest about everything than have to always keep up a charade or whatever. Remember Lila?”

Marinette nods emphatically, “How could I forget.”

« Mes élèves, si vous regardez la page 113 de votre manuel, vous constaterez… »

“Ah crap. Anyway, let me know how it goes eh?”

“I will. Thanks for the advice…and keep your mouth shut.”

Nino gulps, “I make no promises.”

~

“So…did you ever want this back?”

Marinette tosses her head back and picks up the tip of that green Agreste tie she was so very fond of, the strip of silk now tied artfully around her neck. She sounds more amused than she has any right to be considering her predicament, arched and sitting pretty, naked and impaled on his cock.

“I think it looks pretty good where it is,” he grasps her hips and thrusts up into her, relishing in the way her eyes seem to darken in response. He stops suppressing the rumble in his chest, the one he suspects is Plagg's doing, and watches as her hips shift unconsciously against him, lost to the sensation. He loves this woman, the warmth and the heat of her...

Even her bizarre obsession with his ties.

“Good,” she replies, her voice breathless despite her teasing tone, “because it’s mine now.”

Chat chuckles, “If I’d known that ties were what did it for you…”

“Oh, it’s not just the tie,” Marinette murmurs, leaning forward and pinning him under her weight, “Not to say that this isn’t the finest piece of silk I’ve ever held in my life but… it’s not the tie.”

“Really?” Chat retorts, his eyebrow arching under his mask as his arms slide up her thighs to wrap around her waist, “Because you practically molesting this one.”

“Okay, it might be the ties a little,” she admits, waving her fingers airily to dismiss the notion before reaching up to card them through his hair. Chat’s eyes close, his head tilting automatically to grant her better access, the rumble deepening as her fingernails scrape across his scalp, “But ultimately, it’s not the tie.”

“Yeah?” he’s only half paying attention to her words at this point, his focus fixed on the feel of his cock buried inside her, the weight of her against him. She smirks and shifts again, revelling in the way his purr seems to intensify the harder she kneads.

“Mmmm,” Marinette’s leg slowly stretches out behind her as she leans forward, her toes tracing the curve of his calf and the dip in his heel before circling his ankle, “It’s the man wearing the tie.”

Beneath her, Chat’s eyes snap open.

“You’re beautiful,” Marinette admits in a rush, “And I’m not just saying that because you’re disgustingly good looking, with your pretty eyes and your pretty smile and your frankly amazing cock.”

“Disgustingly good looking,” Chat repeated wryly, “Geez, thanks.”

“You’re sexy and you know it,” Marinette chides, “You’ve always known it, so don’t give me that look.”

“But it means so much more coming from you,” Chat croons back, that trademark cockiness of his bubbling through his breathless tone. Marinette can only roll her eyes and shift her hips in retaliation.

“I’m trying to be serious here.”

“Says the woman trying to ah! torture me to death.”

“Like you’re not getting anything out of this,” Marinette retorts, clenching her inner muscles and smirking as his eyes glaze over and his hips jerk in response.

“M’Lady…” he whimpers, hips twitching futilely under her weight, “This is cruel.”

“Cruel?” Marinette clenches again, holding for a beat before relaxing, “Me? Never.”

“Please,” he begs, shifting restlessly, “Don’t tease.”

“Me? A tease?” she quips, rocking her hips back against his. Groaning, he slides his hands towards her ribs and pushes her down, fruitlessly thrusting up inside her, “Hardly.”

“That’s not what it feels like,” Chat argues, his tactics shifting. He bends his knees and digs his toes into the sod, his thumbs brushing against the sensitive skin of her stomach. He slides his hands between them and adjusts his grip, desperate to get her to fuck him, “Is this payback for Wednesday?”

“Have I ever told you how amazing my partner is?” she evades his question, leering down at him. She continues stroking her fingers through his hair, shuddering at the slide of the silk tie between their bodies and relishing in the faint tug of it around her neck in counterpoint to the motions he makes as he thrusts into her. She clenches around him, partly to heighten the sensation of him inside her, but mostly to hear him moan, “Because he totally is.”

Leaning down, she sinks her teeth into his earlobe and laves it with her tongue, “He’s incredibly strong…did you know I once saw him lift a bus? Seriously, a bus. And even though he’s not as strong as a civilian, he’s still strong enough to pick me up and fuck me against a wall.”

“You’re not that heavy.”

“I’m not that light,” she refutes, letting go of his earlobe to trace the shell of his ear with her tongue, “That’s still fifty-two kilos that he supported while he pinned me against the wall and fucked me stupid. And he did it like it was nothing.”

“He’s handsome too,” Marinette continues, rolling her hips to punctuate her point “He knows it too so I don’t say it too often, but he’s amazing to watch. Once, we got caught on video and nobody, not one person, had a single negative comment to say about his body. ‘An ass carved from marble.’ ‘A body like a Greek god.’ ‘A fucking Adonis.’”

Beneath her, Chat begins to pant and writhe, tilting his head back to give her better access to his throat as she kisses compliments across his skin, “I heard his partner is pretty hot too.”

“You’re not wrong,” she dismisses, “but trust me, all eyes were on the specimen of physical perfection she was with. I mean, #CNbooty trended for days on social media…I can only imagine all the women who climbed on their boyfriends that night, wishing they were him.”

Chat whimpers as he tries to rock his hips against hers, the movements short and hindered by their position. He reaches down and tries to tug her leg back up, groaning in frustration when she flexes her thighs and refuses, “They really only saw the least of it, which is better for me really, because if they knew how hot he really is, up close and between my thighs, they’d probably hate me. But he’s so much more than just strong and handsome.”

“And that’s what I love the most,” she purrs, her nose brushing just below his ear as her nails scrape down his chest and to trace the muscles there. She pinches his nipples just to hear him gasp before dragging her fingers down his ribs, sitting up and tucking her leg back up alongside him, “His physical attributes are really the least of it.”

Chat regards her, wide-eyed and a little disbelieving as she moves over top of him, her back arching and breasts thrusting out as she continues to rock.

“I mean it,” she scolds him at his mute stare, “He’s kind and he cares about others. He stays behind to talk to akuma victims when he can and checks up on them to make sure they’re doing okay or that they’ve gotten help…oh, did you think I didn’t notice that?”

“We visit hospitals,” she carries on, grabbing his slack fingers and pulling them up to her chest. She plants her palms over his and rolls the hardened peaks of her breasts between his fingers, “It’s good publicity of course, but he really just loves doing it, talking to people and letting old ladies pinch his cheeks...the ones on his face obviously,” Marinette adds, winking mischievously, “Only I get to pinch the other set.”

“And kids, he loves kids,” Marinette pants as he thrusts up into her, “He goes to visit them in the hospital and carries around little treats and stickers for them in his pockets to hand out when we’re patrolling, or after a battle.”

Chat writhes underneath her, thrusting into her wet heat as she continues to shower him in breathless praises, interspersed with hoarse moans and pleased hums. He lets go of her hips and grabs the green tie still looped around her throat, wrapping it around his wrist and tugging her down to smash his lips against hers. He tries to pour all of his feelings, his love and adoration, his reverence and pride and longing into the kiss and it still isn’t enough.

“You’re amazing,” he struggles for breath, peppering kisses along her cheeks, her jaw, her throat, anywhere he can reach, “You’re beautiful and strong. You’re-”

Marinette reaches up, gripping his hair and yanking his head back. He gasps as her teeth sink into the muscle of his shoulder and her hips grind down against him, the intensity of the friction sending her reeling. She grips him with her thighs as she rides him as hard as she can, the nails of her free hand biting into his opposite shoulder and scraping him raw. He’s helpless to do anything other than her bidding, thrusting up into her blindly as he hangs, dangling, over the abyss.

“Yours,” she whispered reverently, “I’m yours.”

It’s like being ignited by lightning, love and lust and frenzy and a desperate need to be acknowledged all twisted up into a ball inside him, sitting in his chest and crushing his lungs. He drops the tie to grip her hips and hold her to him even as his rhythm falters, squeezing tight as he slams into her. She lets him, bearing down on him and whispering her love and devotion against his lips as his release consumes him.

Sometime later, he finds himself lying prone against the grass in the moonlight, gasping and panting and bonelessly tired. Eyes still clenched shut, he breathes in the scent of her skin and listens to her heady gasps as she comes down with him, the intoxicating slide of silk against his throat forcing him back to reality.

“Wha-?” he murmurs blearily, blinking his eyes open and frowning as Marinette sits back up and ogles him smugly; the tie was no longer around her neck.

“You know, I changed my mind,” she declares, reaching out and stroking a finger down the loose knot before straightening it absently, “I want you to wear it.”

“I thought it was yours,” Chat replies, still trying to regain his equilibrium. Licking her lips, Marinette flexes her spine and stretches languidly as if his dick wasn’t still rock hard and sitting inside her.

“Oh, it is,” she smirks deviously, “It’s mine, and so are you. All mine.”

“I can handle that,” he murmurs, absently trailing his fingers down her thighs and brushing his thumbs over her knees.

“In fact, I want you to wear it. And every time you wear it, every time you look at it, I want you to remember what you mean to me.”

“This is payback, isn’t it?” Chat breathes, throat clogging on emotions he can’t voice.

“Besides,” she adds smugly, rising up off of him and onto her knees, her eyes shining with mischief, “I already sent you those pictures. You know what I did with that tie. Try to forget that while you’re wearing it, I dare you.”

Chapter Text

          24: Sensory Deprivation

Marinette leaps out of the way, grateful for her Ladybug reflexes as a suitcase, a garbage bag full of clothing and a laptop go flying out the window above her head.

"How DARE YOU!" a woman screams from beyond the open window and Marinette can't help but pause and pull an earbud out of her ear, eager to see what all the fuss is about, "You told me she was your COUSIN!"

At least twenty pedestrians have stopped to congregate around the pile of strewn clothes and shattered technology by this point, their eyes and ears glued to the stage before them, "I never SAID she was my cousin!"

"Yes you did! That's what you had her listed in your contacts!"

"You've been through my PHONE?!"

"OF COURSE I have and for good reason! You've been CHEATING on me!"

Marinette takes a second to glance around her, the throngs of people quickly gathering either recording or livestreaming the spectacle as the angry couple continues to hurl abuses at each other, unapologetically airing their dirty laundry for all and sundry to see.

“It’s not like I asked for this!”

“What?!” she screams, the couple move towards their open balcony, their wildly flailing silhouettes finally in view, “You married another woman!”

“And if she hadn’t screwed up and gotten pregnant, then this never would have happened!”

“WHAT?!”

The whispers rippling through the crowd abruptly shift from appalled curiosity to alarm and nervousness. Marinette winces, realizing that people are now actually discussing what this akuma’s powers might be like it’s a topic for casual conversation rather than a potentially life-threatening situation. She looks skyward, tracing pointing fingers, looking for the telltale back dot signaling the next victim. The whispers shift again, casual nervousness becoming actual fear and Marinette’s heart sinks, tracking not one but two small black harbingers of doom as they fly their way into the open window.

“How DARE YOU?”

“This isn’t my fault!” he shrieks, throwing a lamp against the wall, “You just HAD to go snooping through my things!”

“We have a child together!” she begins to sob, “There’s no excuse for this!”

“And if you had just given me what I wanted—”

The voices stop abruptly, the all too familiar black and neon purple haze erupting from the second story apartment in a flash of light. Eyes wide, Marinette breaks off into a sprint and ducks into the nearest alleyway, nearly flinging off her purse in haste.

"Tikki! Transforme-moi!"

~

Adrien slips his mask off his head and lowers his épée against the floor, turning his attention back towards the phone ringing off the hook in the school’s athletics office. Both he and the three other boys in training share a speculative glance as M. D’Argencourt stomps over, cursing a blue streak under his breath at being constantly interrupted, and nearly tears the hinges off the office door before disappearing within.

“What do you think?”

Adrien turns to Mohamed and shrugs, mirroring Isaac’s equally confused gesture. He sits down on the practice pads as Clement slips his gloves off and collapses beside him, beads of sweat pooling on his brow.

“It’s too hot to be practicing like this,” he complains, glaring daggers at the ceiling. Adrien cocks a brow and decides that it’s best to keep his mouth shut, knowing the larger boy’s less than measured temper.

“If Monsieur makes us stay here longer just because he’s on the phone…” Isaac trails off, sitting back on one of the nearby benches. They’d been practicing for well over an hour now for the first competition of the season and D’Argencourt was running them ragged with drills and mock duels.

“Whatever it is, it’s probably important,” Mohamed replies, “It’s been ringing off the hook for at least ten minutes.”

“Probably,” Adrien shucks his gloves off as well, swallowing against the way his stomach seems to be sinking in his chest. He watches D’Argencourt’s silhouette through the frosted window of the office door as the older man’s flailing arm seems to collapse to his side and slump. The other boys follow his gaze and exchange a worried glance.

“That can’t be good,” Mohamed says quietly, his eyes glued to the door.

Clement pushes himself back into a sitting position, “It’s probably just another akuma attack, no big deal.”

“No big deal?” Adrien can’t help himself, ignoring the way the boy beside him glares at him reproachfully, “The akuma attacks have only gotten worse lately.”

“And more dangerous,” Isaac adds, getting back onto his feet, “I’m going to sneak into the locker room and grab my mobile. If it’s an akuma attack, I’m sure it’s all over the news.”

“Don’t be too long,” Mohamed warns, still watching D’Argencourt through the glass, “You know how nasty he gets when we bring our phones out.”

Isaac nods and jogs through the door on the other side of the gymnasium, appearing a few moments later with his iPhone in his hand. He scrolls quickly and sits down beside Adrien, his eyes widening with every swipe of his thumb, “Merde.”

“What?” Adrien scoots closer and watches over his shoulder in panic as Isaac pulls up the trending livestream from the Paris Police’s official Twitter feed, the video retweeted straight from the LadyBlog.

“This is Alya Césaire from the Ladyblog,” the stream switches abruptly to the forward-facing camera, “And I have never seen anything like what I’m seeing right now!”

Alya switches the direction of the camera and zooms in on the carnage taking place some two blocks away from their school, “What started off as a married squabble ended in an all-out brawl between man and wife. Talk about taking ’till death do you part to a whole new level.”

Ladybug dodges a blast of red magic and leaps up onto the eaves of the closest structure, disappearing behind a rooftop. The angle changes and Alya focuses it back onto the raging akuma, glowing red and orange and screaming at the top of her lungs.

“I’M SICK OF YOUR EXCUSES!”  she hurls another beam of energy into the air, “I WILL HEAR NO EVIL!”

Spreading her arms, she clips a series of bystanders with a burst of magic and sends them flying into the air. The footage is shaky for a moment as Alya runs towards them, dodging the screaming civilians that had flocked to see what all the fuss was about. When the camera finally stops wobbling, the lens focuses on a group of tourists clutching at their ears, desperately shouting at each other from the lack of sound.

The camera shudders again, “Are you okay? What happened?”

The closest person, a thirty something man clutching his girlfriend to his chest, shakes his head in abject horror, “HELP! I CAN'T HEAR!”

“Ladybug has her hands full with this one,” Alya can be heard behind the camera, following the akuma as it tears down the boulevard, “And Chat Noir is still nowhere to be found.”

Adrien digs his fingers into the padding of his protective pants and yanks his eyes away from the screen to track D’Argencourt. Releasing a breath he hadn’t realised he’d been holding, he inhales and gets back up onto his feet, brushing imagined particles from the fabric of his pants.

“Where are you going?” Mohamed asks, staring up at him.

“My father told me that the next time there was an akuma attack at school, he’d send a car,” he lies easily, gathering his gloves and equipment, “It’s probably waiting outside now.”

“D’Argencourt will be mad.”

“Tell him my father will be even madder if I get injured because of this attack.”

“I’ll let him know,” Mohamed gives him a thumbs up, “Be safe!”

“Thanks,” Adrien smiles and nods, sprinting towards the locker rooms, “Enjoy your weekend!”

Steeling himself, Adrien shuts the door and barely registers Plagg at his side, too busy shucking his gear off his body. He shoves it all in his locker and pulls his shirt over his head, slipping his sack over his shoulder and checking it for cheese.

“Ready?”

“Hardly.”

“Plagg, transforme-moi!”

~

Chat vaults over the rows of tightly packed buildings towards the screaming and skids to a stop along one of the rooftops, sending a few loosened shingles flying. He watches the fight below for a few seconds, bewildered that the akuma seem to be fighting each other just as much as they’re fighting Ladybug herself. He studies their patterns, noticing the way she seems to bring her arms into her chest right before shooting beams of energy at her targets. He, on the other hand, seems to have no tell at all.

"I am going to KILL you!"

He spots Marinette as she ducks behind an advertisement kiosk, narrowly missing a wide ray of neon green energy. The man roars and turns his attention back on his wife, ripping a bus shelter bench from its trappings and chucking it in her direction.

“Not if I don’t kill you FIRST!”

Sliding down a lamp post, Chat scurries over to where Marinette is squatting behind the stand and takes point, leading them both around the corner and into relative safety, “What’s going on?”

Marinette squints at him and hesitates for a moment before responding, “They take away your senses. He takes sight and she takes hearing!”

Chat blinks but doesn’t comment on the way she seems to be speaking louder than normal, “What have you tried so far?”

“I don’t know,” Marinette replies, her eyes widening, “Sorry, can you repeat that?”

“I said, what have you tried so far?”

Marinette nods her head, “Oh! I’ve tried to turn them on each other but they’re too fast. I’m going to have to use lucky charm.”

“Okay…” Chat trails off, “Are you sure you’re alright?”

Marinette blinks owlishly and takes his hand, “Let’s go.”

She drags him back around the bend and plucks her yoyo from her belt, releasing it and spinning it at her side. With the married couple far too distracted in their quest to maim each other, Chat takes a defensive position in front and waits as Marinette flings her yoyo into the air, calling upon her lucky charm. In typical Chat Noir style, he chances a glance backwards to see what had landed in her arms and smirks, shaking his head at the mirror lying there.

“Didn’t see that coming,” he chuckles, turning back to the quarreling duo. The civilians had long since cleared the area, the police and fire department waiting on the wings. They’d been reduced to crowd control long ago, knowing full well they were no match for the supernatural beings Le Papillon made it a habit to create.

Marinette weighs the handle carefully in her hand and flips it around a few times. Flexing her wrist, she faces the reflective part forwards and runs full tilt towards her assailants, “Stay here!”

“Ladybug, hold up!”

She doesn’t respond as she ducks in behind the bus shelter, ignoring his repeated calls as she peeks around the tinted glass. The man shoots another ray of neon light from his palms at his estranged wife and bellows when she cartwheels out of the way.

“Would you just SHUT UP already?”

“Would you just DISAPPEAR?”

Scooting in around them, Chat takes advantage of their momentary distraction with each other to check their bodies for the possessed items. Their power seems to emanate directly from their hands, their left one specifically, but they seem to be able to transfer it to both if they press their palms together. Squinting, Chat can see the way their wedding rings seem to pulsate with energy every time they hurl insults at each other and Chat doesn’t have to grasp at straws to come to his conclusion.

“It’s the rings!” he shouts from across the boulevard, his voice carrying over the racket. The couple pause and turn their attention to him, revving their energies across their fingers.

“Mind your own business Cat!” the man roars, launching another wave of raw power. Chat dodges it easily and glances over to the alcove where Marinette had been hiding, finding it empty. He uses his forward momentum to throw himself onto his back and slides between the fighting couple, ducking out of the way in the hopes of one of their beams cross firing and hitting the other.

“Sound to me like you couldn’t keep your business in your pants,” Chat quips back, scrambling onto all fours and darting away, smirking at the woman’s overjoyed reaction.

“See?” she cackles snidely, nearly clipping the man with her powers in the process, “Even Chat Noir is on my side.”

The akumatized man’s response is a wordless howl of rage, his pupils constricting to pinpoints as his gaze flicks between Chat and his star-crossed wife. His face contorts in a snarl as his left hand snaps out, acid green light firing from his palm towards his erstwhile partner, who’s hand comes up to shield her eyes even as she tries to dodge away.

Marinette chooses this moment to spring forward from behind the shelter and runs full tilt at her assailants, glass in hand. Chat’s eyes blow wide as she darts directly towards the beam, her arms outstretched to intercept the energy with the handheld mirror, forceful and determined. However, the akumatized woman is still in motion, her hand blocking her vision as she moves, sending beams of light that knock everything awry.

“LADYBUG!” Chat screams, desperately trying to warn his partner of the impending collision. She doesn’t appear to hear him, and Chat frantically wonders if she was already struck previously and he hadn’t realized it, or if she’s simply hyper-focused and not paying attention to anything else.

Regardless, his cry goes unheeded and Marinette and the woman slam into each other, their combined momentum sending them crashing in a tangle of limbs. The woman stumbles forward, slamming face first into the concrete as she trips.

Ladybug, however….

The beam hits her like a tidal wave, sending her sprawling backwards into the air. Abruptly, the bus shelter breaks her fall and she slumps forwards, bracing herself on her hands and knees as she scrabbles for purchase, viciously rubbing her eyes. Chat tears over to her with a speed he didn’t even realise he was capable of and gathers her into his arms, the severity of the situation dawning on him. Potentially deaf and blind and running on borrowed time, Chat scoops her up over his shoulder with one hand, grabs her yoyo and mirror in the other and runs for his life.

“Crapcrapcrapcrap,” he repeats the mantra, sprinting into an alleyway several meters away. Even with his super strength, he can’t leap up onto the rooftops without his baton so he shoves her yoyo into her empty hand and braces the mirror’s handle in between his teeth. He snatches the baton from the small of his back as the couple looms closer, their shouts gaining strength and volume as they near the mouth of the alley and Chat wills the baton to extend, shooting them both skyward.

He sprints across the rooftops for a good twenty seconds before dropping her onto her haunches in a shaded alcove. Scrambling, he takes the yoyo from her hand and clips in onto her belt himself, watching her helplessly as tears pour from her eyes. He waves his hands in front of her nose and she doesn’t react, not to the way he snaps his fingers near her ears nor the sound of his voice.

“I can’t see!” she yells, waving her arms around until she finally grasps one of his wrists, “I can’t see!”

“I can see that,” he rasps, taking his hands and cupping her cheeks. The gesture does little to solve her panic attack, her blue eyes roving sightlessly back and forth and Chat can’t help but panic along with her, swiping the tears from her cheeks.

He starts swearing again, settling on his knees in front of her. Her earrings are on their last pip and although she can’t hear it, he knows she must sense her waning energy with the way she tries to shake him off and curl in on herself. He can’t help but let her, his heart breaking at the anguish playing out on her features, of the desperation in her eyes as her detransformation takes hold.

The magic tingles across her skin and only muscle memory has Marinette reaching towards where Tikki normally falls as she struggles not to hyperventilate. A warm weight drops into her hands and she’s left sitting there, feeling curiously naked and terrifyingly vulnerable, unable to do anything except hold her breath and clutch Tikki to her chest in a futile effort to hide.

The feel of something touching her bare hands is a jolt to the system, too much and not enough all at once. His long fingers slide over hers, his gloved palms coming to rest along the backs of her cupped hands and they squeeze hers gently as Chat mimics her gesture. Tikki’s weight leaves her and Chat’s familiar hands are pulling her trembling fingers out and up, towards where she knows his face must be. His hands bump hers uncertainly against his nose, shifting his grip to grasp her fingertips and press them up where his eyes are. They trace the lines of his mask up, burying themselves in his hair and she pulls him to her chest like a landline, like an anchor is a sea of silence and black.

“I can feel you purr,” she gasps, clutching him harder. She can sense his breath ghost against her neck as he settles against her, wrapping his arms around her middle, “I can feel my voice.”

He nods against her and she revels in the motion, finally finding something to hold onto, “Squeeze once for yes and twice for no.”

He squeezes once and the tension in her body dissolves marginally, her breaths evening ever so slightly, “Are they still fighting?”

Squeeze.

“Did you get my lucky charm?”

Squeeze.

“Did you figure out what the possessed item is?”

Squeeze.

“What is it?”

His purr falters for a moment as he wraps his free hand around one of her fingers, “Marriage ring. Obvious.”

Squeeze.

He resumes his characteristic rumble, quelling some of the anxiety inside her. She knows her voice is still quivering, the tears she can’t quite control still dribbling down her cheeks. She’s grateful he’s not watching, his face comfortably burrowed into her chest instead, “Chat…”

He squeezes her and settles to the side, doing something she can’t quite decipher, “Do…do you know who I am?”

Of course he knows who she is but that doesn't stop her from wondering, doesn't stop her from wanting to hear it from him even though she can't. He squeezes again and it feels like she's shrinking.

“Are you...okay? With…”

There's a flurry of movement, too much to decipher and categorise and he's suddenly pressing his lips against her forehead, her temples, her cheeks. He feathers kisses against the bridge of her nose, the crease of her chin and lips, pressing reassurances into her skin. She can't help but start crying again, overwhelmed and vulnerable and helpless, knowing full well it'll be up to him to solve this. She hadn't aimed the mirror right and she'd failed them and—

“I’m sorry.”

He presses his lips against hers and takes her lower lip between his teeth, biting it as a warning. She huffs a pathetic laugh against him, tugging her own ponytails in a mixture of frustration and fear, “We've got to go back.”

Squeeze.

“Is Tikki eating?”

Squeeze.

“Good, I always pack a few extra in the front pocket of my backpack if she wants more.”

There's a flutter against her skin, Tikki’s tiny paws tapping a rhythm against her cheeks. She leans into the feeling and draw confidence from her, trying to breathe. She presses one hand against the brick behind her and uses her other to search for his hand, finding it easily.

“Use the mirror to reflect his power against him to stop him from talking. Tikki? Let him use my yoyo. I don’t know if you can because I can’t even communicate—” she rubs her hands across her face, “Just let him, okay? If he can tie him up, Chat can capture at least one of the rings and…ugh, I don’t even know what I’m talking about, I can’t see!”

Chat glances over to where he’s placed the mirror against the brick facade and lets Marinette crush him to her chest again, her breaths ragged and uneven.

Blinking carefully, he cranks his neck upwards, “Have you ever done this before?”

“Oh, Chat Noir and Ladybug have traded tools now and then,” Tikki says carefully, hovering just above his nose, “I’ll try my best to help you out.”

“That’s all I can ask for I guess,” he takes a deep breath, “Alright. Marinette transforms, I bring her back, I use the yoyo to get the man out of the picture...then what?”

“You’ll find a way.”

“See, this is why Ladybug makes the plans,” he pinches the bridge of his nose and hopes that Marinette can’t feel the anxiety coming off of him in waves, “That’s what I do you know? People tell me what to do, I do it.”

“Calm down Adrien,” Tikki responds, settling in front of him, “Have faith in yourself. Marinette has never needed you to be the best version of yourself more than right now.”

Chat closes his eyes, “How long have you known it was me?”

“Since the beginning,” she shrugs, “It’s the smell.”

“The smell?”

“Who else would carry camembert in their backpack? That, and Plagg doesn’t exactly grasp the meaning of subtlety.”

“Preaching to the choir,” he mutters, watching the red and black kwarmi fetch another cookie from Marinette’s sack, “Does she know?”

“Marinette?” Tikki’s laugh sounds like the wind chimes on the porch of his home in Saint Barths, “Of all the Ladybugs I’ve chosen, she’s certainly the most…imaginative. The two of you are drawn to each other like a moth to a flame and yet…” Tikki shakes her head, “When she does realise who you are, she’ll kick herself for weeks.”

“It’s a good thing she can’t hear us right now,” Chat hums, Marinette’s fingers tangling themselves in his hair again. His ears spread sideways, oddly attached his head as they are, and she gently scratches at his scalp, “She’d kill us both.”

“Ladybugs are known for their perseverance, even if it sometimes comes off as stubbornness, just as the Chat Noir’s I’ve had the pleasure of knowing are known for their recklessness,” she takes another bite of her cookie and chews thoughtfully, “While your flaws may characterise you, they certainly don’t define you.”

“You’re so much nicer to talk to than Plagg. Why couldn’t I have gotten you instead?”

Tikki smiles, “You’re not the first Chat Noir to tell me that either.”

“Can we trade for a day? I have a really nice garden.”

“I’ll think about it,” Tikki polishes off the last piece, having saved the bite with the chocolate chunk for last, “I’m sure Marinette would get along with Plagg splendidly. She has a soft spot for cats.”

Chat blushes as Tikki buzzes away, leaving him to his partner’s ministrations. He can practically hear her thinking, her eyebrows furrowed in both concentration and frustration, her eyes open and blank, “Tikki, are you ready?”

“I am.”

“Okay,” Chat sits up and tugs her to her feet, tapping on her earrings. She nods and Chat stands back, watching in awe as Tikki disappears into the burst of light that seems to swallow her, pulsating and compressing until it finally releases, sending red sparks up and around every which way. She holds her pose of confidence for a fleeting moment and takes a deep, heaving breath, holding out her hands.

Chat guides her forwards and turns around, pressing his back to her chest. Reaching to pat the outside of her thighs, Marinette gets the hint and climbs up onto him, wrapping her arms and legs around his neck and torso. With his hands now free, he takes the mirror in his left and his baton in his right and begins tearing across rooftops, easily tracing his steps back to the battle at hand.

“Alright,” he mutters, talking to no one in particular, “I’ve got to put you down somewhere.”

Extending his baton, Chat slides to the cobbles below and sits her down on the nearest bench, far enough out of harm’s way but still close enough to keep an eye on. Vaguely, he can hear the buzz of the crowd as he brushes his hand over her hair and forehead, leaning down to press a quick kiss against her lips. He traces his fingers down her neck, shoulder and arm until they come to rest around her waist, his claws clipping the yoyo to free it from her belt.

“Take it,” she unholsters it for him and presses it into his palms, “Just think about what you want it to do and it will follow.”

“Just like the baton,” he mutters to himself, eyeing the tool apprehensively. Slipping the string around his finger, he squeezes her shoulder one last time and heads forwards, the lucky mirror and yoyo in hand.

“Honey, I’m home!” he calls from across the boulevard, his tone light and teasing despite the heaviness in his chest. He keeps on his toes, dodging a splay of acid green light from the husband as the wife eagerly waves back, “Care to strike a deal?”

The telltale glow of butterfly wings hovers over her eyes and cheeks, distracting her for a moment, “Give me your Miraculous and then we'll talk.”

“Absolutely,” he smiles, sidestepping another attack by the husband, “But I can offer you something even better.”

The wife steps closer, ignoring her soon to be ex husband's jealous, enraged roar, “Yeah? What's that?”

“A chance to punch your husband in the face,” he winks, skirting closer, “All I need is for us to work together. What do you think?”

“I like the sound of that,” she smirks, eyes glowing red with her powers, “Shall we?”

“You SLUT!”

“Says the man with TWO WIVES!”

Chat grimaces, “Looks like she cat you red handed.”

Furious, the man howls and Chat hands the mirror over to the woman with a flick of his wrist, “What’s this for?”

“Reflect his power back at him, I’ll do the rest,” he replies, sprinting forward. Sliding to a stop, he keeps on his toes and weaves back and forth between every one of his sloppy punches and strikes.

“That’s MY WIFE,” he snarls, kicking out with his foot. Chat deflects him easily, squatting down to dodge a beam of light.

“I have a great repurr with the ladies,” he taunts, dancing just outside of his personal space. Skirting to the right, he aims his body so as to make sure his next blast heads for the wife, “I’ve been told I’m a regular catsonova.”

“AAAAUUUGHHH!!!”

Ducking, Chat flattens himself to the cobblestones and closes his eyes as the blazing ray of light skyrockets overhead and promptly beams back like neon boomerang. It smacks the husband like a freight train, the force of his own power sending him sprawling up into the air and into a neighbouring storefront, smashing its windows. Swearing and praying to every deity he can come up with, Chat throws the yoyo with all the force he can manage and hopes it wraps around his prey.

Chapter Text

        25: Striptease

Yanking back on the yoyo, Chat opens his eyes and nearly trips over himself in relief at having trussed up the husband in the yoyo's string like a roasted Cornish hen, ready for service on a silver platter. Whooping with glee, he punches his fist to the sky and dances on his toes towards him, snickering at the man's crimson lips and cheeks, his mouth spewing curses and insults without any sound.

"Cat got your tongue?" he giggles and nearly doubles over in hysterics, powerless to stop himself from laughing at his own jokes with the rush of elation cursing through his veins. He plucks the possessed ring from the husband's violently thrashing hand and holds it up to the sunlight like an offering to the gods, smiling foolishly at the sky and watching as the wife stomps over to them, her eyes practically glowing in anticipation as she cracks her knuckles and readies her fists.

"Ready?" he invites her closer, spreading his arms in invitation. Grinning like an idiot, he scoots out of the way and stands on the sidelines as the wife hauls out and punches the husband straight in the jaw only to step back and nail him right in the groin.

"I hope I remember this later," she sneers, planting her hands on her hips as her husband writhes on the ground, crying and squirming like an eel out of water.

"I don't think that'll be a problem," Chat replies with a wince at her savagery, pointing over to where Alya stand at the forefront of the crows, phone in hand.

The wife uses the toe of her boot to lift the husband's cheek off the concrete, forcing him to make eye contact, "You low life, scum of the earth, rotten piece of shit. I'm filing for divorce and full custody of Samuel," she grinds her heel into his mouth and flicks her foot to knock his head back onto the ground, "I hope you're happy with your harpy wife, wherever the hell she is."

She turns to Chat and slips her ring from her finger, slamming it onto the ground herself, "Worthless piece of crap."

The wedding band breaks open and a black and neon purple butterfly emerges, stuttering briefly before fluttering back up into the sky. Chat gasps and recoils the yoyo from the husband, running back full force to where he'd left Marinette sitting on a bench. Subtlety be damned, he scoops her up and runs back to where the flapping akuma is starting to gain altitude, planting her on her feet and slipping the yoyo around her finger. He smashes the husband's ring on the ground as well and scoots in behind her, grabbing her hand and aiming it in the first akuma's general direction. Confused but catching on quickly, Marinette takes a deep breath and seems to get the hint.

"Je te délivre du mal !”

Chat throws the yoyo using Marinette's hand, concentrating on where he wants it to go with his thoughts as hard as he possibly can. The yoyo captures the first one and he reels it back into Marinette's palm, using the hand he has clamped around her waist to spin her and face the second akuma desperately trying to make a break for it. Like clockwork, she allows him to bend her arm back again and he chucks the yoyo at the second one, delighting when it captures that one too. Unable to keep his elation in check, he hops up and down a few times with joy and winds the yoyo back in, popping it back into her hand. It closes and he slides his claw along its lid, releasing the purified butterflies up and into the atmosphere to the sounds of cheers from all around them, the crowd babbling with excitement.

"We did it!" he hollers, leaving Marinette by herself for a moment to pick up the mirror left on the ground. He scurries back and sticks the handle within her fingers, taking her wrist and motioning for her to throw it skywards. He steps back as she readies her stance, cocking a hip and tossing it into the air.

"Miraculous Ladybug!"

A flurry of magical ladybugs bursts from the sky, splaying like fireworks and raining down on the people around them, scooping up the victims of the akuma attack and rendering them normal again. Marinette is wrapped up for a moment and blinks repeatedly against the blinding light when she emerges, her sight and hearing finally restored.

“We did it!” Chat shouts, nearly galloping back towards her, scooping her up into her arms and spinning her like a top, “We did it! We did it!”

She grabs onto the first thing she can reach, unbalanced and disoriented after being in the dark for so long; she can’t help but share in Chat’s effervescence, his enthusiasm so contagious that she begins to smile, holding onto his shoulders for dear life. He jumps up and down a few more times before setting her down, grabbing her hand and turning tail, running away from the hoards of spectators coming their way.

“Ahhhh!” he babbles as they make a break for it, unable to plug his energy from bubbling out from inside him, “I used your yoyo! We did it!”

All she can do is nod in bewilderment as he takes her hand and uses his baton to launch them into the air, leaning wildly so as to land on the edge of the highest fire escape. He lets her down first and leaps from the top of the baton, grabbing her hand again and leading her up the stairs towards the roof.

“It was so cool!” he gushes, taking each step three at a time, “Your yoyo is awesome!”

They make it to the top of the building and he skips towards the nearest chimney stack, rebounding against it with a backflip, “It was AWESOME! Best akuma fight EVER!”

Marinette shakes her head, loosening the cobwebs in her mind, “Easy for you to say.”

He turns back towards her and grabs her hands, dancing them around in a circle, “It’s like I got to be Ladybug for a day!” he raves, doing his best impression of a heart-eyed emoji, “Ahhhh!”

She lets go of his fingers and pauses for a moment to get her bearings, “Look Chat, I’ve got to get home.”

Merde,” he pauses in his celebration, “So do I. I’ll talk to you later?”

“Sure,” she replies non-committedly, turning around and leaping off the building before he can say another word.

~

Marinette collapses face first into her bed and doesn’t move for a long time.

Her mum comes up to check on her twice, reassuring her that they’d put her dinner in the fridge in case she wanted to eat it later and Marinette appreciates the thoughtfulness, all things considered. Judging by the lack of harassment from Sabine after being over an hour late from her walk home from school, she already suspects she hasn’t been fooling anyone.

Least of all Chat.

She tries all the usual strategies: listening to calming music, tending to the boxes of spring flowers on her balcony, taking a stab at the chemise she’d been meaning to mend. Each time she ends up face first on her bed, the consequences of her inadvertent reveal hounding her thoughts like the plague.

She ends up drawing a long, hot bath and slipping into the water immediately eases some of that pent-up tension inside of her, the bubbles tucking in behind her knees and her ears like a security blanket, covering her almost completely. She sinks down until the water comes up passed her lips and sits there for a few minutes, far longer than she'd ever intended, watching the bubbles shine like spilled petrol on asphalt and pop in the ambient light. Like all things though, the tension in her spine creeps back up into her muscles and fogs her mind like a mirror, leaving her just as restless as she was before.

Giving up, she steps out and over the rim of the clawfoot tub and towels herself off before collapsing back into bed, her moans of frustration muffled by the mountain of pillows piled on her bed. There's no way on the planet she's even going to consider showing up to patrol later tonight but she needs something to relieve the pent-up pressure inside of her head, something beyond the proverbial mound of homework waiting for her on Google Classroom. If she doesn't do something and be smart about it, she knows she'll probably end up doing something reckless and stupid, something she's apt to do when she's in the weeds. She's stolen enough phones and stalked enough people out of misplaced desperation to attest to that.

Too lost in her own thoughts to be entirely aware of what she’s doing, it takes a minute or two to realise that her hand had snuck its way beneath the hem of the towel and continued its pilgrimage up to the crease of her thighs. Sighing into her pillow, she rolls over and closes her eyes, drooping her forearm over her head to block out the ambient light of her lamp and foregoes worrying about it anymore. She needs this, if she's going to be honest with herself. She might actually be able to hold a coherent conversation if she could just burn off a little frustration...

She lets her hand continue its creeping path up and across her abdomen, her fingers tangling in her hair before slipping down further along her folds. She’s not surprised to find that her body is already a few steps ahead of her brain, her lips slick and needy and she can't suppress the moan that bubbles passed her lips when she grazes her clit, bending her knees and bracing herself against her mattress. The little bundle of nerves sings with hypersensitivity and she's already half way there, imagining the way he smelled against her skin earlier that day, the sensation of his hair between her fingers, the vibration of his chest against her own. She takes her lip between her teeth and tries to stay quiet, her toes burrowing themselves in the sheets, her back arched and her muscles taut.

It’s only been a few short hours since they'd defeated the akuma, leaving her breathlessly confused and him bursting at the seams. Seeing him so happy nearly sent her reeling, the humbling realisation that she'd just been forced to detransform in front of his face and he hadn't really reacted, had just kissed her like he'd known all along, like his life depended on it. She thinks back to that moment and imagines those lips on her now, bringing her right to brink only to tease her, drawing back and kissing patterns against her inner thighs like he’d meant to all along, teasing her senslessly. Doubling down, she can't bear the thought of slowing down, jumping ahead in her fantasy to just give her some release and ah!

It's the lasting image of his face between her thighs that finally tips her over, her orgasm short and sweet and just enough to dull the razor's edge of her thoughts and worries, granting her the smallest modicum of relief. Curling up onto her side, she presses her face into the pillow and wallows in the afterglow, if only for a moment, and forces herself to try and relax in its wake, her ears still pounding in tandem with her heartbeat.

Crash!

The sound of the lock rattling against the trapdoor above her head jostles her back into awareness and she scrambles to her feet, grabbing the nearest object to her with a potential to maim. Wielding a table lamp in one hand and holding her towel up around her chest with the other, Marinette tiptoes over her mattress and hisses as loudly as she dares through the wood.

"Who is it?"

"It's me," comes the muffled reply, "Chat."

Shifting uncomfortably, she tightens her grip on the lamp, "Prove it."

There's a quick rustle of movement above her head, "Who else would be on your balcony at 22:00?"

Marinette purses her lips, "Humour me. What did we talk about last night when we left the courtyard?"

"You made fun of my Naruto socks."

Marinette smiles in relief and sets the lamp back down on the beside table, reaching up to unclip the lock, "You have to admit, they were ugly."

"You know, I came out to have a good time and I'm honestly feeling so attacked right now," he pounces down onto the mattress, leaping with all fours onto the neighboring chaise.

"First Naruto, now memes?" she locks the trapdoor behind him and spins around, heedless to the way the towel flutters around her thighs, "You're lucky I don't kick you to the curb."

"But I just got here," he eyes her approvingly, his voice having dropped a few registers at the sight of her. She hadn't bothered putting her hair back into ponytails after her bath, her loose tresses falling in soft waves against her shoulders and back. She tries to quell the blush that threatens to spread to her collarbones and chest, having been the subject of his gaze more times than she can count, but she feels so exposed, so unprotected and bare to him now, her dollar store mask long forgotten in the back pocket of her jeans.

Not that she needs it anymore.

Something must show on her face because Chat suddenly changes his stance, settling against the cushions, "Hey Marinette."

"Hey," she replies, sitting back down on her bed. She looks down at her bare legs, swinging them idly, "Welcome to my room."

"It's nice," he says, looking around, "A little too pink for my taste, but it suits you."

She shrugs, "It's my favourite colour."

"So I guessed," he crosses his legs in front of him and leans to the side, propping his head on the elbow leaning against the chaise, “Did you watch the footage Alya posted on the LadyBlog?”

Marinette glances over towards her computer, “I’ve been meaning to.”

“I thought that would be the first thing you’d do,” Chat says, his surprise obvious in his tone, “It’s not like you had a first-hand experience or anything.”

“I…” she trails off, “Did you know? Before?”

“Did I know what?” he says, his face the pinnacle of innocence. He’s used it on her enough times before to no longer be fooled.

“You know what.”

Chat looks away, scratching at the back of his head, “If I knew your identity? I…I had my suspicions but I didn’t…I didn’t know for sure until then.”

She sighs and continues kicking her legs, her heels bouncing off her bedspring. Was it really such a bad thing? After all this time, everything they’d been through, everything they’d done…if anyone had earned the right to know who she was, it was this man. He’d asked before, and she’d denied him every time. She did her best to not think of who he might be, though she knew he was leaving clues for her to ignore.

He wanted to know who she was. He’d earned that knowledge in a thousand different ways. He’d had the opportunity to find out before and had never capitalized on it, but this? This situation was a little different than a door that hadn’t fully closed, or stepping around the side of a chimney. She had literally detransformed in front of him, with no way to hide or escape.

Finally raising her head, she makes eye contact with him across the short distance that yawns between them. This is yanking off a bandaid that had been on too long; hold your breath and try not to think of the sting. Because even if it hurts, the bandage needs to come off.

“Well, now you know,” she says and her tone is a little more acidic than she’d intended. She looks away again, embarrassed and frustrated and a myriad of other emotions all rolled up into one. She feels like curling up into a ball under the heat of his gaze, uncomfortable and exposed like an insect fixed to a pinning block. She doesn’t know what to think of his inaction, of the way he continues to sit across from her, eyeing her curiously.

“Do you want a hug?”

She looks up at him from where she’s hung her head at the hopeful look in his eyes, watching it spread across his features. It’s moments like these that she stops forgetting why she ever thought this was a bad idea.

He’s at her side before she can even say a word.

“I thought you were going to sneeze or something,” he says, wrapping an arm around her shoulder, “I’m so used to seeing you in a mask that it’s kind of hard to get a read on you without it.”

She smiles at his attempts at levity, “Want me to go get it?”

“No!” he exclaims and Marinette reacts quickly, shushing him with a finger to his lips.

“My parents will hear you!”

“Oh,” he replies, a little sheepish. He snuggles closer, “Can I make it up to you?”

She fiddles with the hem of her towel with a middle-distance stare, “You still…want that?”

“What?” he pulls back ever so slightly and she’s ignorant to the sudden hopeful look that spreads across his features. He leans in and presses his lips to her cheek, easing her head to turn towards him and face each other, leaning forwards to meet her lips in a kiss that’s somehow just as soft and yet so much more than its predecessors. They’ve never quite kissed beyond the throes of the itch, explosive and frenzied from so many years of built up tension between them, but it’s still enough to send frissons all the way down her spine, his toes curling in his boots in satisfaction.

She kisses him back carefully, the way their lips move against each other no less passionate and yet somehow, somehow it managed to convey a depth of feeling she had never truly felt in the wake of his body against hers, crushing and overwhelming all at once. The metaphor of fracturing into a million indelible pieces of herself is not lost on her now and she finds herself pulling away much sooner than she had wanted, putting some much needed distance between them.

“This changes everything.”

“It changes nothing,” he counters, getting up to follow her across the room, “You’re still Ladybug.”

“I’m Marinette. Ladybug is…an alter ego.”

“Doesn’t mean the two of you are separate entities,” he takes her hands, ignoring the way her towel seems to be unravelling, “I love both of you regardless.”

“You don’t know me as Marinette,” she replies and Chat feels like tugging his hair out at the irony of the situation.

“Then let me,” he insists, “Trust me. Trust me with this. Trust me with you. We’re a team, right?”

“Yes.”

“And we agreed long ago that we had to keep the lines of communication open, right?”

“Yes.”

“Trust is a two-way street,” he weaves their fingers together, his eyes never leaving her face, “I love you regardless of who you are and we can’t let this distract us from what’s important.”

She takes a deep breath, “Knowing my identity has put us both in danger.”

“Then we just have to be more careful.”

“Careful?” she snorts softly, “When have you ever been careful?”

“Our flaws don’t define us,” he says, smiling wryly, “You can be borderline neurotic sometimes and I still love you.”

She narrows her eyes, “You’re a dick.”

“A loveable dick though.”

“I hate you.”

“Mm,” she honestly expects him to devour her at this point, so it comes as a surprise when he simply kisses the corners of her mouth, her bottom lip, her cupid’s brow. Impatient, she deepens the kiss and slides her tongue against him, drawing his lips between her teeth and swallowing his gasp.

The heat that had been steadily waning with the onset of summer races down her spine, coiling low and hot in her abdomen. His hands are everywhere and hers are no better, roaming his torso as her fingers trace the outlines of his muscles through his suit. He gasps as her hand ghosts across the evidence of his arousal straining against the fabric and she grinds her stomach against him, grinning against his lips at his reaction.

She steps back and lets the towel drop.

A blur of movement and the sudden weight of his arm across the bottom of her shoulder blades is the only warning she has before his other arm hits the back of her knees, scooping her up into his arms. Marinette feels herself gasp even as her arms automatically wind around his neck; it never fails to give her a thrill when he picks her up, a casual show of strength made more impressive by the fact that he isn’t bragging about it. Unwilling to swoon against his chest like a helpless damsel, Marinette braces herself and squashes the urge to squeal.

They don’t go far, just a few strides, and he spins her around, dropping her back down onto her bed with a bounce. A soft laugh escapes before she can censor it and the hands pressed into the mattress next to her on either side of her face stills momentarily.

“I did say I’d like to do this on a bed some time,” Marinette shakes her head with a wry smirk, moving up the mattress to nip along his jawline, revelling in the power she holds over him as he arches his neck in offering. She reaches out to thread her fingers through his unruly hair and bites down at the juncture of his neck and he responds in kind, grinding down and growling low in his throat.

“Have I told you how much I love you today?” he mutters against her collarbones, his purr well and truly triggered by this point. He puts his weight on one hand and explores with the other, tracing along her ribs and brushing against the undersides of her breasts. He slides his palms up and over, cupping one and running his gloved thumbs over her nipple, straining despite the warm air of her bedroom. He presses one thigh between her legs and she can feel herself grow hot and slick and straining for friction, more of it, anything to take the edge off, heat pooling low in her abdomen.

“Plenty,” she groans, smiling into his skin when he indulges her and shifts his leg, allowing her to grind up against him. The texture of the suit feels widely different than his fingers and she trails her hands down his sides, reaching to stroke him through the fabric, spreading her legs further to accommodate him. He rolls his hips forwards with excruciating slowness, the pace in direct contrast to the way he devours her lips and digs his claws into the skin of her thighs, nearly sending her skyrocketing to the ceiling.

He replaces his leg with his fingers, cupping a broad palm against her clit and she grinds against the heel of his hand, slick and needy. He feels hot even through the fabric of his gloves and she presses harder, eager for the friction, eager for the way he draws ragged gasp after ragged gasp when he drags his claw along the seam of her lips, circling her clit just the way she likes.

“Do you still hate me?” he purrs, slipping away momentarily. He’s so familiar with her body and he takes ruthless advantage of it, playing her like a musical instrument, grace be damned.

“No,” she mewls and he rewards her, dipping between her folds and slipping a finger carefully inside her, pumping once, twice, three times before retreating to her clit. He repeats the pattern a few times before changing the rhythm.

“And we’re going to be honest with each other now?”

He slips a second finger inside of her and the pressure in tantalising, “Yes.”

“Good,” he nibbles the shell of her ear and picks up the pace, cautiously curling his fingers to hit the spot inside her he’d found only recently and would never forget, not with the way she screams and clenches around him, “Because I have a question for you.”

He doesn’t elaborate and dives down instead, lapping unexpectedly at her entrance and she cries out in pleasure, heedless to the noises she’s making. He plunges his tongue inside and she can feel him rumbling though her, her entire body shuddering with it, the vibrations nearly sending her past the brink. Her muscles clamp down on his tongue and he only ups the ante, purring louder and it’s suddenly much harder to breathe, her back arching off the back in ecstasy. She’s so close now, her thighs quaking and her head tossing side to side, making a delicious mess of her hair against the pillows.

Ah!” she cries, babbling nonsense against the hand now shoved up against her lips and it’s the graze of his teeth against her clit, the moans, and the knowledge that he’s taking pleasure from it all that finally sends her over the edge yet again. Her hips rocket out towards him and he holds her as she shudders, his tongue still tracing the seam of her lips to draw out her pleasure and she sinks even further into the mattress, boneless and sated and unreservedly satisfied. It takes her a second to open her eyes again, watching as Chat sits back up, straddling her thighs and lewdly wiping his mouth with his forearm.

“Can I ask that question now?” he says, his eyes fiery in contract to the clever pull of his lips. She’s helpless against him and nods, her entire body still thrumming with post orgasmic bliss.

He cocks his head to the side and Marinette is already regretting it.

“So, do you want to tell me why the same man whose been stalking me home every night for the past two weeks is camped out across the street?”

Chapter Text

     26: The Battle

Everything freezes for a moment; Marinette’s heart turns to ice in her throat.

“But you already knew that of course,” he sits back on his haunches, casually crossing his arms, “That’s why you’ve been leading me on crazy chases through Paris lately. That’s why you wouldn’t let me in until I proved my identity. Whoever it is guy is, you knew about him and yet…”

He leans forward, caging her against her mattress with his forearms, “You didn’t tell me about him.”

She braces herself on her elbows, tearing the sheet off the mattress to shield herself, “I was going to.”

“When?” his nostrils flare, “You know, I thought I was crazy at first. It’s not like I’m the brains of this operation or anything, that’s your job, but I figured there was no way you’d keep something important, like a stalker, from me so I let it slide.”

“I…” she trails off, rolling over to grab a nightshirt from her bedside table, “I didn’t want to…bother you.”

“Bother me?” he sits back again and tries to hide how flustered he feels, the reality of the situation dawning on him, “You knew whoever this guy is was capable of tracking you across the city which is why you started taking all sorts of crazy routes. Did you not think that maybe he’d been tracking me too?”

“Did Tikki say something to you?” she glares reproachfully at the corner where the kwarmi usually resides and tugs the shirt up and over her head.

“What?” Chat looks honestly surprised, “No, she didn’t. What she did tell me was that I needed to start using my brain, and now I realise she wasn’t just referring to the akumas.”

“It’s not a big deal,” she mutters, refusing to look up at him. Her heart hammers in her chest.

“How much does he know exactly? He’s watching you, he trails me everywhere, and now he’s just seen me pop into your bedroom. Does he know who you are?”

“Yes.”

“Marinette!” Chat exclaims, anxious and outraged all at once, “What the hell?”

“Be quiet, my parents are downstairs!”

“This is bad Marinette! What does he have on you?” Chat recoils, his outrage melting into panic, “Has he threatened you?”

There's a growing lump in her throat that's making it harder and harder to swallow, "He knows who Le Papillon is."

"WHAT?!"

"Hush!" she reaches up, grabbing his shoulder and pulling him back down onto the mattress, "What part of ‘my parents are sleeping downstairs’ do you not understand?"

He opens his mouth to yell again and thinks better of it, mollified for the moment, "He knows who Le Papillon is?"

Marinette purses her lips, "He tracked him down and now they're planning an attack together."

"How do you know this?"

"He told me," she glowers at the wall beyond him, "He's been walking me to school everyday."

"That's...sick," Chat curls his lip and folds one of his legs in front of him, "What else did he tell you?"

Marinette weighs the words on her tongue for a moment, debating with herself on how best to explain, "He knows who I am, but he can't figure you out. He tracked down Le Papillon because he's been akumatised before and he wants his powers back."

"Which akuma was he?"

She takes a deep breath, her stomach sitting heavy in her abdomen, "Le Tireur."

Chat's expression darkens, "I thought he was dead."

"So did he," she mumbles, fiddling with an errant thread on the sleeve of her nightshirt, "Clearly not the case though."

"What does he want with you then?"

"He spoke Le Papillon and made a deal with him, our Miraculous in exchange for his powers back."

"Then why hasn't he tried to take yours already?"

"I..." she trails off, steeling herself, "Having power will make him wealthy in his job but he doesn't want the reputation of hurting one of us hanging over his head...he thinks it'll make him less desirable with his clients or something," she shakes her head, "It sound ridiculous, but he seemed sincere at the time."

"That's probably the stupidest thing I've ever heard," Chat blinks, feeling vaguely insulted, “So he’s going to…what, wait for some opportune moment to steal them then? I honestly don’t get it.”

“It’s complicated,” she wipes at her face, frustrated and exhausted and everything in between, “He wanted to make a deal with me. He’ll tell me who Le Papillon is if…”

“…if what? You give him your Miraculous? Not a chance.”

“Not mine,” she hugs her knees to her chest, “Yours.”

Chat stares at her for a moment, unmoving, “And?”

“I agreed,” she shrugs, “If I didn’t, he said he’d kill you.”

“And you believed him?”

“Of course I did. Don’t you remember what happened last time we underestimated him? He terrorised the whole city for weeks!”

“That’s when he had his powers,” Chat rebuffs, “What makes you think he won’t go on another homicidal tear once he has them again?”

“I don’t know!” she throws her arms up in the air, “All I know is that he was threatening you and I wouldn’t have it, so I agreed to his stupid plan.”

Chat closes his eyes and tries to stay calm, heaving a deep breath through his nose, “We’ve got to come up with a better plan.”

“Obviously,” she snorts, “And quickly. Le Papillon is planning his attack tomorrow.”

“That soon?”

“He said something about a charity event for first responders, which means there will be less of them available to distract him. He’s going to akumatise as many people as he can.”

“The most he’s ever done is two or three.”

“Apparently he can do up to six.”

“Six?”

“That’s why he went quiet for two weeks after the first attack. He was practicing.”

Merde,” Chat shifts and sits cross-legged, running his claws along the treads of his boots with a frown, “What are we going to do?”

“That’s what I’ve been trying to figure out,” she watches him move idly, tracking him as he trails his fingers back and forth, “We don’t know who the akuma are and I don’t know where Loïc is going to be hiding. We’re going in blind.”

“What are the odds that Le Papillon already knows that this guy has double crossed him?”

Marinette makes a face, “Unlikely. How would he figure that out?”

“The butterflies. He doesn’t always send them out with a target in mind. Who’s to say that he doesn’t use them for surveillance or something?”

“That’s…I never thought of that,” she considers, “It makes sense though.”

“Right? Anyway, we can’t trust that his plan will come together. Who’s the say they aren’t in this together and they’re just double crossing us?”

“I know, I know…” she shakes her head and clenches her fingers against the sensation, her whole body dazed and numb. Sensing her frustration, he places his hands on her shoulders and squeezes, “It’s too much.”

“We’ll figure it out. We always do.”

She takes a deep breath, “That was a dick move by the way.”

“What?” he finally cracks a smile, “Ravishing you into honesty?”

“Yeah,” she smacks him lightly, aiming for his bicep. He snickers and moves out of the way, “Don’t do that again.”

“You always listen better after you orgasm,” he answers her matter-of-factly. She finally looks up with a glare, intently meeting his gaze.

“I’m sorry I kept things from you.”

“And I accept your apology. But this isn’t the first time you’ve pulled this on me.”

“I know,” she dips her head, “I’m working on it.”

“That’s all I need,” he says and she can hear the fondness in his voice, the way it lilts ever so slightly. He places a finger beneath her chin and tips her head upwards, staring into her eyes, “Now, let’s figure out how to get this guy.”

~

LB
When will you be done?

CN
I’m stuck here for another half hour.

LB
It’s 17:45.

CN
I know that but I kind of have a job.

LB
I know. Get here when you can.

CN
I’ll be the first one out the door.

LB
Okay

~

LB
It’s started!

CN
What has?

LB
Check Twitter! An akuma on the Seine!

CN
…Is that a flying canoe?

LB
We’ve seen weirder.

LB
I’m there now. She’s a police officer calling herself Maudite.

CN
Maudite? What’s that supposed to mean?

LB
No idea. Google it, I’m busy.

CN
It means ‘damned’ apparently.

LB
She throws fire! Get here soon!

CN
I’ll be there in 10.

~

“Ladybug!”

Chat skids to a stop along Le Pont Neuf and ducks as a ball of fire comes flying in his general direction, singeing the ancient stone bridge black. He picks himself up and peeks over top of the edge, flattening himself against the cobbles as a flaming red woman in a flying canoe rockets by, cackling some sort of quasi-French nonsense in her wake.

“So nice of you to join me,” Marinette drops down beside him in a crouch, keeping her eyes on the retreating akuma. She grabs his wrist and tugs him onwards, urging him to follow her north along the bridge.

“Just one so far?”

“Just one,” she confirms, using her yoyo to hoist them upwards once they’re safely within the buildings of the mainland. They land on the rooftops and immediately start heading west, “And I have a feeling I know where she’s headed.”

The explosion in the distance only confirms it, “La Grand Palais?”

“Looks like—”

A shower of ice pellets rain down on them from overhead and they're forced to dart out of the way, skidding down the steep roof tiles and launching themselves off the eaves. Marinette lands on a nearby balcony and Chat swings from a fire escape somewhere down below, narrowly missing a volley of razor sharp icicles.

"Are you alright?" she calls to him, flipping down underneath the wrought iron railings for better protection. She sees Chat do the same, his tail barely visible beneath the balcony below.

"I'm fine," Chat replies but his voice is clipped and hurried, "Where the hell did that come from?"

Marinette takes the risk and peers up and around the floor of the balcony, watching the sky, "There's an akuma on a cloud up there."

Chat doesn't respond for a moment, "Yeah, looks like Twitter's blowing up about some guy who flipped his lid over the lack of air conditioning on the Metro."

"Then that's probably him," she replies, ducking back under the wrought iron. She drops to the balcony beneath and scoots below it, joining Chat in his hiding spot.

"He still up there?"

"He would have thrown more ice if he had seen me. Best to get out of here before he gets closer."

"Agreed," Chat quietly extends his baton until it hits the ground below and slides down towards the alley, landing gingerly so as to not attract attention. Marinette follows suit and squats beside a stack of bins, keeping one eye on the sky and the other on the entranceway.

"We've got Maudite burning Paris and we have this new akuma trying to cool things down. What are the odds we can get them to turn on each other?"

"Not likely if Le Papillon is controlling both of them at the same time," Chat replies, tapping a button on his baton and scrolling through the Paris Police Twitter account again, "Looks like we have a third one on Les Champs-Élysées."

"What's their power?"

"Minecraft. Some kid is turning people into creepers."

"A devil woman, a man who throws icicles and creepers. Could this day get any better?"

“He’s only got three left, if that’s any consolation.”

“I think you need to look up the definition of consolation,” she muses, peering up and over the bins, “The problem is that we have to try and stop them without purifying them. Otherwise, he'll just make more."

"I hate today," he mumbles, pressing the pads of his fingers against his temples, “Shall we nab the kid’s artifact first?”

“He should be the easiest target to tackle.”

“Then let’s get going. Ladies first!”

Rolling her eyes, Marinette takes off down the narrow alleyway, zigzagging around the debris before emerging onto the boulevard beyond. She takes a sharp left and hurries down the sidewalk, eyeing the enormous cloud of soot brewing off in the distance. The Ice Man (Elsa? Frozone?) was dangerous and the Minecraft boy probably was too, but Maudite was posing the highest threat to the civilian population. Determined, she hops up onto the roof of a bus and rides it down road, keeping an eye on the sky.

It's not hard to find the ten-year-old Minecraft enthusiast wrecking havoc down on Les Champs-Élysées, what with the blocks and structures of every shape and size blocking traffic at every turn. Marinette hops from car roof to car roof until she's found herself near enough to his Minecraft fortress that she starts getting unwanted attention from the handful of former civilians turned creepers surrounding it. A group of tourists cheer as she takes down a horde of the green creatures with her yoyo and she flashes a peace sign at them with her fingers as she passes by, making her way up to the top of the fortress.

"Helloooo?" she cups her hand to her mouth, waving down at the akumatised boy from the top of the wall with a cheeky smile. The tween Minecraft master shrieks in rage and chucks a series of blocks at her, all of which she dodges easily and using her yoyo as a shield, she hops into his fortress and deflects a few more blocks before stopping before him.

“Having a blast?” she cocks her hip to the side and quirks her eyebrows, effectively distracting him for a moment. Mesmerised, Block Boy steps forwards and Le Papillon takes the opportunity to communicate with him, leaving him preoccupied long enough to give her a chance to drop down into a crouch and knock his feet out from under him.

"M'Lady," Chat lands alongside of her and cracks his knuckles, "That was incredibly sexy."

Marinette grabs the akuma’s ankle and drags him closer without looking, hauling him up so he hangs upside down, "Keep it PG mon chaton, young ears are present."

"Of course," he replies with a wink, "So what are we going to do with him?"

"Lucky charm. It should give me a way to trap him without him being able to escape and cause any more chaos."

"You'll have to recharge."

"I've got a backpack full of cookies on me. I packed some cheese for Plagg too, by the way."

“Always prepared,” he smiles fondly, leaping out of the way onto one of the upper ledges. With the coast clear, Marinette releases the boy from her grasp and flings her yoyo up into the air, catching her lucky charm. She twirls the fishing net a few times to get her momentum going and fires it at the boy, approaching him carefully just to ensure that he’s been fully encapsulated in the net. She removes the action figure from his breast pocket and tosses it up to Chat, scaling the inside of the fortress before the boy can do much of anything really, too busy wailing and having a tantrum on the concrete floor. She lands halfway down the wall and waits until Chat clears the castle before knocking a few blocks down by the door, sealing its entrance.

"I need to go," she says, whipping her yoyo in a tight circle with her wrist, "Keep the object safe for me?"

"Where are you going to go? It's not safe being anywhere alone."

"I'll be fine. You keep an eye on Maudite and I'll catch you in ten."

“Yes M’Lady. Meet you at Le Grand Palais?”

“See you then!”

~

LB
Akuma number 4. Kindergarten teacher turned Scaretaker.

CN
A+ pun

LB
You disgust me.

CN
You love me. What’s her deal?

LB
She’s laminating people.

CN
???

LB
We’ll have to double back if we want to nab her.

CN
Whereabouts?

LB
Near the Louvre.

CN
Is Tikki ready to go?

LB
Transforming as we speak. I’ll be there in 3.

~

“I thought I told you! NEVER LET THE LAMINATOR FILM RUN COMPLETELY OFF THE ROLL!”

“Yeesh,” Chat turns around to the sound of Marinette’s yoyo, the two of them safely out of reach on top of a neighbouring building, “I’ve got mixed felines about this.”

She groans and tries not to roll her eyes, “Can they even breathe in there?”

They both recoil at the sight below them as groups of people squirm in their plastic cages, seemingly fine despite being almost completely unable to move, “I think so? I’ve been standing here watching for about a minute and no one’s keeled over. Yet, anyway.”

“Have you spotted the artifact?”

“Well, she’s got a pencil sticking out of her bun and a #1 Teacher badge pinned to her chest. Could be either one of those.”

Le Papillon really pulled out all the stops on these akuma,” she grimaces, watching as the woman swings a giant laminator around her neck like a guitar, trapping a group of bystanders in a film of plastic not entirely dissimilar to the Bubbler all those many years ago, “Did he even try?”

“I don’t think he’s going for creativity,” Chat muses, sitting on the ledge to rest his tiring legs, “He’s trying to distract us remember?”

Marinette sighs, “Right. Let’s get this over with. See if you can grab the pencil, I’ll grab the pin and let’s break the laminator just for good measure.”

“Sounds good to me,” he says, rocketing off the rooftop with a twist and a flair. He lands in a crouch and gracefully dodges a sheet of melting hot plastic, wincing at the wave of searing heat that wafts by his cheek at the close call.

“Sorry about my hissbehavious Mme.,” Chat skirts around the possessed teacher, dancing within an arm's reach of the pencil, “But it looks like you need a time out.”

The teacher sends another volley of boiling hot plastic at his face, “SILENCE!”

“My my,” Marinette drops down behind her, using her forward momentum to pluck the pencil from the teacher’s hair and toss it at Chat, “Putting students in danger? That’s grounds for detention.”

“Why are you still wandering? SIT DOWN!” the Scaretaker cries, flinging a glob of plastic just beyond Marinette’s ear and laminating the tree behind her. They share a knowing look and Chat snaps the pencil between his fingers with a shrug, tossing the two ends over his shoulder.

“Not the pencil then,” she mutters, eyeing the pin fastened to the teacher's romper, “Chat?”

“My pleasure,” he narrows his eyes with a smirk, already teasing the power from his fingertips, “Cataclysme!”

Chat lunges for the strap on the laminator wrapped around her torso and claws at it, effectively disintegrating the band and the weapon attached to it. Smirking, Marinette takes advantage of the teacher’s sudden panic to swipe the pin from her chest and launch herself up onto one of the plastic trees and, analysing it closely, she can feel the dark energy emanating from its plastic face. She holds it up above her head in victory, “I’m pretty sure we’ve got it!”

“Yeah?” he retreats backwards, watching the teacher warily for a sign that she may procure another laminator from thin air. She tries and evidently fails at her task, scrabbling for the pin at her chest in vain and collapsing to her knees, crying out in frustration. He ignores the beep from his ring for the moment and approaches the akumatised woman carefully, gently pressing a hand on her shoulder, “Hey…it’s alright now.”

The teacher just slumps further into the concrete, “No one ever listens. Not my students, not my principal, not the parents…when Pierrette broke the laminator again, I just…”

Marinette watches from afar as Chat sits down beside her and takes a moment to marvel at his sense of incomprehensible kindness. Of all the times to take a moment and comfort an akuma…sighing, she clips the pin to her belt and carefully approaches the two of them, huddled together like a pair of old friends.

“…and then I said, ‘if I tail you, I’d have to kill you!’”

The teacher snickers through her sobs and Marinette can’t help the fond smile that stretches over her lips as he acts out the Sherlock Holmes akuma story for what was probably the 150th time, “Come on Chaton. Your transformation is about to run out.”

“Elementary, my dear Buginette,” he replies with a tap to his nose, pulling himself upright, “We’ll be back soon.”

“Why can’t you purify me?” the teacher asks, her tear stained cheeks flaring. Chat puts his hand on her shoulder again and bends back down to her level.

“I can’t tell you right now, but you’ll be back to your old self in no time. Now, why don’t you see if you can try and help these people out of this plastic? Someone ought to have a pair of scissors somewhere.”

“I have a class set in my bag…”

“Purrfect!” he says with a grin and a wink. Marinette grabs him by the underarms and hauls him up, throwing him that unimpressed look he’s become entirely too familiar with, “Sorry Mme. but I have to dash! No hard felines.”

The teacher snickers at his pun, “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome!”

“Chat, you’re on your last pip!”

“I’m coming!”

~

Sagging behind the chimneystack, Chat releases his transformation and catches Plagg in one palm and hunts for the hunk of cheese in his satchel with the other.

"Really, Romeo? You're kind of stretching things here, don't you think? Can't we take a break, go find some better cheese...take a nap?”

"Can it, Plagg," Adrien snaps, "You know as well as I do that we need to handle these akuma before they cause too much damage."

"Damage? What damage? All they're doing is being ridiculous. Their powers are as awful as this cheese you're trying to pawn off on me."

“Are you ready to go yet?” Marinette calls from the other side of the brick column, no doubt tapping her foot impatiently against the roof tiles beneath her feet.

“I will be!” Adrien grabs him around his middle and crams the wedge of cheese into Plagg's sneering face, perversely satisfied when the little troll chokes on it and coughs as he swallows, “Keep this up and I’ll feed you mushrooms for a week!”

"Mushrooms? MUSHROOMS? What are you, a heathen?" Plagg seethes, glaring at his chosen, "Mushrooms are the blandest, most disgusting—"

"If you can digest it, you can transform," Adrien smirks, "Now. Plagg, transforme-moi!"

~

Sliding out from behind the row of trees, they materialize under the cover of dusk in the shadow of La Grande Palais. It's heavily guarded by Maudite's akumatized demons, making it nearly impossible to approach without being spotted or singed. Nodding briefly, Chat darts off and sneaks along the wall, looking for a means to create a distraction that Maudite herself wouldn't be able to ignore while Marinette stays behind, waiting for an opening to scale the wall and sneak inside.

"Come on Chat," she murmurs, coiling her yoyo around her fingers in anticipation. She watches and waits as he blends into the falling darkness, a barely discernable shadow amidst the canopy of trees. It only takes a few minutes before a thunderous explosion rumbles from the other side of the building, the ground beneath her feet trembling as nearby windows shatter and the stone facade cracks. The demons standing guard at the doorways scream in alarm, running from their positions in a frenzy with teeth and claws bared, ready to strike.

Perfect.

Marinette creeps forward, taking advantage of their mass exodus to fling her yoyo around one of the statues on the side of the building. She lands silently on the ledge of the stone structure and skids across the ceiling of glass, her suit barely making a whisper of a sound as she slips through a broken window without a second glance.

She runs through the convoluted maze of hallways, constantly alert for the sounds of shuffling feet in the shadows. Maudite hadn't been subtle in her redecorations of La Grande Palais; there were red banners and piles of black soot everywhere she went, the black remnants of priceless paintings floating in the air as embers, carried by the current of the central air.

Hearing a commotion up ahead, Marinette darts smoothly into an alcove and waits, holding her breath as a hoard of demons scurry by. They don't see her, not with the way the seem to be fleeing, eyes wide and tails tucked between their legs. She briefly wonders if it's Chat’s doing or Maudite's.

Finally emerging into the central space of the building, Marinette scales the several story walls and sneaks in behind a banner, the hoards of demons seemingly oblivious to her movements. She scans the floors and walls and finds Chat doing much the same behind another banner on the other side of the room, balancing precariously on the rafters of the ceiling. Catching his attention with a small wave, she gestures with her wrist towards the front of the room and, nodding in acknowledgement, Chat takes point, leading the way as the two of them slip along the trusses and over glass planes towards Maudite, who sits, poised and suddenly alert, on her makeshift throne.

"Have you come to crash my party?!" Maudite hollers as Chat tiptoes across a beam of iron like a tight rope, using his baton to steady himself. Marinette keeps to his left and continues her forward pursuit on the other side of the massive space. Spotting an opening in the surveillance, she leaps from one truss to another and lands in a roll behind a huge tapestry of red and black embroidery, soundless and unseen.

"Come out, come out wherever you are!" Maudite cackles from her throne on the floor, her flaming red eyes scanning the ceilings. Her demons roil around her, undulating at her feet like frothy waves in an ocean storm, chanting her name like a mantra. Chat inches ever closer, only freezing when Maudite turns his way, and continues his approach as quietly as he can.

His baton buzzes in his hand and he retracts it, pressing the green button, "Chat Noir Hot Line."

"I can see her object," Marinette whispers into her yoyo from across the way, her face almost completely obscured in the shadows, "It's the canoe."

"The canoe?" he squints and spots the small boat leaning against the back wall, innocuous save for the red veins of magic coursing through the bark, "You sure it's not the police badge on her chest?"

"Trust me, it's the canoe.”

"If you say so," he replies, chancing another peek from behind the fabric, only to draw back when he finds Maudite staring straight at him.

"CHAT NOIR!" she screeches, leveling a finger in his direction. Chat gulps and takes a wary step back, not even bothering to hide now.

“We can’t steal a full-sized canoe and leave all these people possessed!” Chat hisses into the baton’s microphone, eyeing the demons as they turn their empty stares towards him.

“I know, and since the celebration Loïc told me about is being held here, these are probably all of the first responders. I bet you the reason why she’s so mad is because she wasn’t invited in the first place.”

“That would explain why there was no police presence on the streets,” Chat continues backpedalling in the wake of the hundreds of beady eyes staring up at him, “Have a plan yet?”

“Not really, no,” Marinette admits, shifting nervously as the demons begin to advance, “Do you?”

“Try not to die?” Chat suggests.

“That’s a good start.”

“Lucky charm?”

“In a minute.”

“I could die in a minute,” Chat feels obligated to point out.

Marinette scoffs, “Drama queen.”

“Me? Well, I never.”

“Can you cataclysme on the roof structure?” Marinette asks, glancing around desperately.

“And kill us in the process? Sure thing.”

“Don’t sass me.”

“Plan please!” Chat yelps, dancing out of range of grasping hands as the demons climb over each other to get to him.

Marinette inhales sharply, a plan beginning to take shape in her mind, “Can you cataclymse part of the roof structure? That arched part above her head?”

“If I can get close enough,” Chat grapples with Maudite’s tapestries and kicks at the hands attempting to take hold of his ankles, “I’m going to need a distraction though.”

“Allow me,” Marinette flips her yoyo closed and steps out from behind the banner she’d been hiding behind, “Yoohoo! Lose your invite to the party?”

Maudite jerks forward at the new voice and surges closer, hissing as Marinette swoops down from the rafters, “This is my celebration! REMOVE HER!”

“Not so fast,” Marinette scolds, keeping an eye on Chat as he escapes the horde of distracted demons and scurries atop the trusses above, “I’m not the party crasher here!”

“Shut up!” she screeches, “Not all of us are handed super powers and fame and fortune. Some of us have to work for our jobs. Nothing was given to me!”

“I’m sure you’ve worked hard for your rank,” Marinette replies, stalling for time. The demons on the floor part like paper before a flame, scurrying away as Maudite approaches her, furious and flaming.

“Yeah, and then I was demoted!” Maudite rants, gesticulating wildly, “Now I just roam the shores of the Seine looking for homeless people and garbage. I might as well be a mall cop! Well, screw that. Officers on probation don’t get invited to parties so I went ahead and made a party for myself!”

Marinette weighs her words carefully, “Sometimes you have to make the best of what you have...I mean, at least you still have your job?”

“You know, I don’t like your attitude,” Maudite sneers, her army of demons bowing before her, “Everyone has been saying that to me and yet…I’d rather they had just cut me free. Now I have to see their stupid faces, making fun of me, calling me an alcoholic behind my back. This is justice!”

“It sure is,” Marinette mutters impatiently, glaring up at the ceiling. She starts to flex her muscles in anticipation, hoping to burn off some of the excess adrenaline flowing through her veins, “So what is your goal exactly?”

“My goal?” Maudite actually looks surprised, “Isn't it obvious?”

“Well, yeah, but don’t you have more planned than just crashing a party?”

From up above, Chat nears the roof truss responsible for keeping the glass over their heads and can’t help but smirk at Marinette’s understated sarcasm. Sometimes, it’s nice to hear her use that tone of voice of someone other than himself for a change.

“You’re the one crashing my party,” Maudite laugh echoes strangely throughout the cavernous space and she turns to her demons, riling them with a wave of her flaming hand, “KILL HER!”

“Chat, NOW!”

“You’re in the way!”

“DO IT!”

Cataclysme!

Chat scrambles away from the shattering edge of glass and instinctively tries to lower his centre of gravity, dropping to all fours in a mad dash to safety. He takes a quick breath and sprints beneath the shards of the spiderwebbed ceiling and ignores the deafening crash as it gives out, sliding backwards as the roof trusses begins to tilt. He plants his foot on the metal and jumps as far as he can, his arms madly pinwheeling in an attempt to propel himself even further away from the falling glass only to slam into the wall with enough force to crack the stone caulking. Sliding down, he grabs one of the banners and dislodges a corner, using the last of his momentum to swing to safety.

Skidding to a stop several metres away, it only takes a moment to pick Ladybug out in all the debris, standing tall amidst the wreckage with her lucky charm in hand. Staring at her in awe, Chat wonders, not for the first time, how he got so lucky.

“Chat! The canoe!”

Jerking from his sparkling rose coloured reverie, Chat offers her a jaunty salute and careens towards the other side of the room, picking up a fallen banner along the way. Swinging it above his head like Enjolras in the fog, he catches an errant blast of fire with it from Maudite’s fingertips and fans the flames, tossing the burning strip of fabric as far towards the canoe as it can go.

“Fi-eerreee!!!” Chat sings, sounding for all the world like Jagged Stone on a bender as he dances around the burning canoe, pumping his fist in the air.

Marinette pulls her finger off the trigger of her Ladybug fire extinguisher and pauses, turning to stare at her partner in disbelief, “Uhh...Chat?”

“What?” Chat pauses mid-prance, looking at her bewildered expression before starting to laugh, “Oh, M’lady, you need to watch more cartoons.”

“What?” Marinette’s nose scrunches up beneath the mask, her yoyo tightening around the foam covered akuma as she regards him.

“It’s from Ninjago. Kai, you know, the fire ninja? Well, he gets his powers back and is lighting things on fire singing… you know what? No, you’ll just have to watch it.”

“...Um, ok. If you insist,” Marinette mumbles, shaking her head and returning to the task of cleansing the akuma. Shrugging at Maudite, she retracts her yoyo, captures the butterfly, and quickly tosses the fire extinguisher into the air, restoring the building and the people inside it back to their former selves.

At least a hundred police officers, ambulance attendants and other various members of the public safety community slowly pick themselves off the ground, shaking the cobwebs from their minds. Handing the akuma free Constable Trudeau over to the nearest group of police officers, Chat slowly meanders over to her side through the masses and combs his fingers through his hair, stifling a yawn, “I don’t suppose this means we can join the party?”

“No,” Marinette responds, keeping a close eye on the diminishing pips on his ring, “But I don’t think anyone would complain if we grabbed something to go.”

“Good,” he slumps in relief, rubbing his wrist idly, “Because I’m starving. I barely even ate breakfast.”

She turns her head, pinning him down with a look of both concern and admonishment, “Why didn’t you eat something this morning?”

“I had a fitting,” he replies, walking over to the buffet tables stacked with food. He asks the nearest group of firefighters if he can have a bite and they nod amiably, even passing him a plate. Marinette follows him over after a beat and immediately begins to demolish the crudité platter.

“A fitting for what?” she asks between bites of broccoli smothered in dip. He moves further down the banquet table and continues piling food onto his plate.

“Clothing,” he shrugs simply, tucking into some mushroom tartlets, “Apparently I’m getting a little too broad for the sample sizes.”

“Broad?” Marinette tips her head to the side, chewing hurriedly so she can shove another gougère in her mouth, “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Too much muscle I guess, not that I can help it,” he grumbles, grabbing a couple of toasted slices of bread smothered in pork rillettes, “I’m supposed to be two sizes smaller.”

“That’s ridiculous, you’re Chat Noir,” she responds, her tone haughty. As crowded as the room is, the people in it seem to know better than to approach them as they stuff their faces and whisper vehemently at each other, “You need to eat in order to protect the city.”

“Easy for you to say,” he mutters in response, a few crumbs of pastry spilling from his lips. Marinette has long gotten used to how chaotically he eats when he’s thinks no one is looking and doesn’t comment on it, “You don’t work for my father.”

“Your father?”

“I was just bringing out some bite sized pissaladières if you want some,” a male waiter walks by from the other side of the banquet table. He offers the platter to Chat and he snatches a few from the corner, thanking the man and continuing down the spread. Marinette raises her hand in thanks but doesn’t take one.

Chat balances another tart on top of his already precariously stacked plate and looks down at his Miraculous, “Come on, we better find somewhere to hide before we run out of time.”

Marinette nods and snatches another few slices of the vegetable tart from an enormous silver platter before following him up into the rafters. There’s a small alcove that’s just remote enough to shield them from prying eyes on the far side of the cavernous space and Chat settles there first, resting his plate beside him.

“You transform first,” he says, pulling his legs up in front of him. She draws in her yoyo and lets the wash of magic dissolve from her body, catching Tikki in her palms, “Did you say you had cheese in your backpack?”

“I do, but not camembert,” she answers, slipping the bag off her shoulders and onto the floor of the stone nook, “All I could find was a block of gruyère.”

“As long as it’s fermented or moldy, he can eat it,” Chat responds, shoveling three hors d’oeuvres into his mouth in succession, “Can I twansfom now?”

Marinette closes her eyes and continues rooting for cookies as the flash of green takes place in front of her eyelids. She waits for him to fish his mask out from his satchel and pull it over her face before opening her eyes again, “Here.”

She tosses him the package of gruyère and he catches it without looking at it, too busy frowning at the grumbling tiny god in his lap, “I have never been so exhausted in my life.”

“Then eat,” Adrien insists, placing the unwrapped block of cheese on his thigh in front of him, “You’ll feel better, I promise.”

"Ugh, what is this?" Plagg eyes the cheese with disdain, "Is that...gruyère? What kind of scam are you running, trying to feed me gruyère?"

Chat sighs, "Gruyère travels better, Plagg. You know this. Camembert is too soft and runny and besides, if Ladybug hadn’t brought this with her, you’d have nothing to eat."

"Camembert is perfect," Plagg sniffs, glaring over at Marinette, “This is hardly an acceptable substitution.”

“Do you ever have anything nice to say?” Tikki admonishes him, tossing her second cookie into the air and swallowing it in one gulp. Plagg takes a messy bite and makes gagging noises in retribution, consuming it nonetheless.

“Never,” Chat replies on his behalf, shrugging with a roll of his eyes. He devours the rest of the pork rillettes and moves on to the rest of the pissaladières with vigour, positively famished, “See what I have to deal with? I was serious when I offered to swap for a day.”

Tikki laughs and begins to nibble on a madeleine, “Maybe when this is over. I think we could all use a little vacation.”

“Not to change the subject, but we still haven’t found the ice akuma yet,” Marinette muses, using her finger to scoop up some of the extra dip off her plate, “And there’s still two more akuma not accounted for.”

“We won’t have to look far,” Chat replies in between yawns, “Akuma seem to have a way of finding us.”

“And I haven’t seen Loïc either,” she picks a piece of roasted aubergine off her plate and pops it into her mouth, “I thought he’d try to get you earlier when we were on the rooftops. I figured that would be his style.”

“I’m sure his skillset isn’t just limited to shooting people.”

“No, I suppose not, but that’s what he insinuated.”

He yawns again, “Well, we should be safe here. Surrounded by first responders, no windows up here, no doors…”

“It’s nice to just have a moment to ourselves,” she agrees, relaxing against the stone wall beside her, “We’ve been going non-stop for hours. It’s, what, at least 20:00?”

She turns his head and notices how he seems to have copied her position, his eyes closed and lips slack “Chat?”

“Hm?”

“Not sure if this is the right time for a catnap.”

“Mmmm…”

“Chat?” Marinette’s eyes widen, “Chat? Are you okay?”

Chat slinks further into his slump, his head lolling backwards, and Marinette crawls over to him on her knees to catch him, “Chat? Chat?!”

“My head feels foggy,” Plagg shakes his head fiercely, his eyes struggling to focus as Marinette lowers Chat backwards until he’s prone on the floor. Tikki chirrups loudly and Plagg responds in kind in the background, their own language lost on Marinette’s ears as she kneels beside him and shoves her backpack beneath his head.

“Chat? Wake up!” she shakes his shoulders, pressing her fingers to his pulse. It’s slowed considerably when she compares it to her own, and bile begins to crawl up her throat in panic, “Chat!”

“Something’s wrong,” Tikki hovers just beyond her ear, her eyes carefully jotting between Plagg and his chosen. She looks up at Marinette, “We’ve got to get him somewhere safe.”

Marinette doesn’t hear her through the rush of blood in her ears, “This is Loïc’s doing.”

Tikki’s eyes bulge at Marinette’s tone, the syllables coming out rougher than she’s ever heard them, “This is it Marinette! We have to follow the plan! Take his ring!”

Marinette’s nostrils flare, “If he’s hurt him…”

“He’ll…he’ll be fine,” Tikki tries to assure her, placing her paws on her cheek, “We’ll give him to the ambulance attendants.”

“We can’t trust anyone!” Marinette raises her voice, her ponytails flaring as she whips her head around, “Someone down there poisoned him!”

“Marinette—"

“I have to keep him safe.”

“We have to stop Le Papillon!”

“I can’t just leave him here!”

“Marinette, focus!”

“He’s my responsibility! He needs to be with someone I can trust,” she snarls, whipping out her mobile. She mashes the keys furiously, her fingers a blur as they dance across the touchpad, and Tikki’s jaw begins to drop.

“Maman? …Yes, I’m okay, but I need your help.”

Chapter Text

27: Animalistic Tendencies

Marinette ends her phone call with a flick of her finger and folds her hands in her lap, unable to do much more than stare blankly at the wrinkled cotton fabric of Chat’s t-shirt. Her eyes don’t seem to want to move from where they’ve stubbornly stuck in place, unblinking and numb in the hazy evening light that filters up from the quickly dissolving party, the men and women in attendance ditching their formal clothes for uniforms to deal with the akuma.

Hesitantly, Marinette stretches one hand out towards him and intends to lay her palm over his chest, to check his heartbeat and feel the warmth of his body thrum beneath her fingers. She snatches her hand away at the last minute, folding it back into her lap as if she’d never moved it in the first place.

Something small and fragile fractures in her chest.

Forcing a deep breath into her lungs, Marinette tidies his satchel and gently cups the back of his head, lowering it to the ground so she can slip the backpack he’d been using as a pillow up and over her shoulders. She knows what she needs to do, knows what’s at stake without the constant chatter of her kwarmi tittering in her ear like a particularly annoying ringtone. She’s making a mental checklist, gather items, transform, take him to the distributing doors at the back of the building, load him into her parent’s car, take his ring…

She eyes the ring apprehensively and bends forwards, twisting it slowly back and forth to loosen it without hurting him. It takes a few seconds before it finally slips off his finger, revealing a band of skin so pale it makes her lip twitch. Had he never taken it off? She runs her thumb over the cool skin and squeezes his hand fondly, her heart cramping in her chest.

Shifting onto her haunches, she reaches back behind her neck and unclasps the necklace she’d worn specifically for today, the silver chain thick and durable enough to take the presumed weight of the jewelry. Chat had mentioned that it was a fairly heavy band of metal but she hadn’t expected it to be quite as substantial as it was in her palm, silently buzzing with energy. She slides it onto the chain and slips her necklace back into place, tucking the ring beneath her shirt where it would be safest against her sternum.

Finally, she runs her hands gingerly over the pockets of his jeans and fishes out a black velvet sack, unending it in her palm. The red drawstrings give way and another silver ring drops out, this time far less heavy and much more intricately designed. She takes it between her fingers to see if there’s an inscription on the inside of the band and blinks a few times to clear her vision before taking another look.

PT

She lowers her hand with a thump against her thigh and tries to ignore the shock in her gut, the way the blood seems to shirk from her limbs and head straight for her ears.

Platinum? Just how rich was he?

She turns to Plagg and scoops him up in her palm, bringing him closer to her face. He’s nearly bent double into himself, clutching his head with his tiny paws, “Plagg?”

He mewls and Marinette takes it as acknowledgement, “Where did Chat get this ring?”

Plagg cracks open an eyelid, “Dad.”

“His dad?” Marinette recoils, giving Chat the once over, “Is he going to get in trouble?”

“’s not…importuuughh,” he moans, running the pads of his paws over his eyes. Tikki lands beside him and places her hand at the base of his back, tracing circles against his fur.

“He’ll have to stay with you.”

Marinette nods and sets him down on Chat’s abdomen, pulling herself upright, “Let’s do this.”

“Follow the plan Marinette,” Tikki warns, joining her at eye level, “This is the greatest danger you’ve ever faced.”

“I know,” she takes another deep breath and clutches the ring to her chest, “We can do this. Tikki, transforme-moi!”

Clad in black and red again, she bends down and plucks the cat kwarmi from his makeshift bed, bringing him up to her nose and eyeing him curiously, “Where am I going to put you?”

“Hair.”

Marinette pulls a face, “Really?”

Plagg rolls onto his back and groans, “’s where I hide some…times.”

Marinette shrugs and moves her palm around her head, urging him to burrow into one of her ponytails, “You sure you won’t fall out?”

“Mmmm.”

“Plagg?”

“Mhhrrrr…”

“I’ll take that as a yes,” she mutters, scooping Chat into her arms as carefully as she can. She clutches him to her chest and leaps from the alcove they’d been hiding in, landing on the ground in a crouch and cupping his head to her chest to keep him from hurting anymore than he probably already was. Rising from her squat, she starts running towards the back of the building and emerges through one of the emergency exits, rushing down the empty sidewalks towards the area where the transport trucks park and deliver their shipments. Stepping into one of the downward slanting ramps, she sets him onto the gradient so he’s semi seated against the wall and looks upwards towards the mouth of the driveway.

“Over here!”

Marinette hears the sound of the engine before she sees it tear around the corner, the distinctive thunk of the vehicle’s standard transmission imprinted on her memory after many a road trip up north to see her relatives in Saint-Malo when she was younger. Her father is at the wheel, his large frame shoved into the much smaller shell of the Volkswagen, and he pulls up in front of her, his mouth understandably agape.

Sabine nearly leaps out of the vehicle as soon as he’s put it in park, her eyes searching the heroine in front of her, “Are—are you okay?”

“I am,” Marinette replies and her voice is shaky at best, the repercussions of revealing herself to her parents not lost on her, “But Chat…”

Sabine’s eyes widen in horror as Marinette bends back down to grab him, her hands slotting gently beneath his shoulders and the dip of his knees, “What happened? Who did this to him?”

Le Papillon,” Marinette answers, figuring it would be easier to generalise until she could properly explain to them what was going on, “I need you to keep him safe so I can go after him.”

Tom hasn’t peeled his eyes off his daughter since catching her in the beams of his headlights, “Marinette…”

“I’ll tell you everything later, I promise,” she tries to assure them, averting her eyes, “Just please, take him. Keep him warm and try and wake him up and-”

“We will,” Sabine places a hand on her shoulder, silencing her daughter before she could go off on one of her anxiety-ridden tangents she’d come to know so well. Coming into focus, Sabine had been understandably suspicious for years and she wonders how she hadn’t put all the pieces together before now.

Tom approaches and Marinette lets him scoop Chat’s sleeping body from her arms, the larger man easily taking his weight. He walks over to the car and Marinette opens the back door for him, watching as he lowers him onto the bench seat and tosses the blanket they keep folded over the middle seat on top of him. She adjusts it as Tom steps back, ensuring that he’s completely covered and spared from the coolness of the evening, tucking in every corner and fussing with his hair, brushing it out of his eyes.

“What are you going to do now?” Sabine asks as Marinette finally shuts the back door, pressing her palm to the window to keep an eye on him inside.

“I’m going to go after him.”

Le Papillon?”

“Yes.”

“Shouldn’t you wait until Chat Noir is feeling better?” Tom asks, his tone apprehensive. Marinette shakes her head and walks back towards them, her face neutral and resolute.

“He’s been planning this for a while,” she says, pulling her fingers into fists, “I have to stop him.”

“But how?”

“I don’t know, but I have to do it.”

“Marinette—”

“I’ll be fine,” she says, slapping on that Ladybug smile and it feels like a mask, “Keep Chat safe for me alright? I’ll be back home before you can say strudel.”

She expects them to protest, to raise their voices or demand she come home with them. She doesn’t expect being pulled into a hug.

“Be careful,” her father mutters into her shoulder as he lifts her off her feet, buried in his embrace. Sabine joins into the fray and they say nothing for a long moment, content to just absorb each other’s company for a while.

“I will,” she responds quietly, stepping back as he sets her back down on the concrete. Clutching his arm, Sabine bites her lip and nods resolutely, dragging her husband back towards their vehicle. Marinette tries to keep the tears back, tries to focus on the frame of the vehicle as it backs up and totters away down the road, tries to fight the way they threaten to spill when the clatter of the faulty transmission fades into the night.

He’ll be safe now.

“Hello darling.”

Speak of the devil.

Marinette spins around and gnashes her teeth like an animal, closing the space between them in two wrathful strides, “If you hurt him in any way—”

“Relax,” Loïc drawls, loosening the waiter's cravat around his neck, “I just tranqed him. He'll be right as rain in a few days.”

“A few days?!”

“Well, I didn't know how the Miraculous would affect it, so I thought I'd err on the side of caution and give him enough to drop a horse.”

She's felt anger and indignation, sure, but Marinette has never felt this level of fury boil through her veins quite like she is at this moment, “WHAT!?”

“Like I said, he'll be fine. Well, mostly anyway.”

Marinette closes her eyes in an attempt to control herself and finds she's at a crossroads, “You will tell me how to save him,” she says softly, her eyes cold and sharp and utterly focused, “or I will hurt you.”

Loïc scoffs, but there's a sudden uncertainty in his posture that wasn't there before, “Sleep, water and a paracetamol or two should do it. Seriously, I don't know why you're overreacting, I thought you'd like this better.”

“You thought I would like this better.”

The inflection, the stiff and strict emphasis she puts on each and every word is enough to make Loïc feel a little less unflappable than he would like, “Well, would you rather I shot him?”

He goes to take another pull of his cigarette and she stops him outright, grabbing hold of his wrist, “If something happens to him…” she tightens her grip to demonstrate her sincerity, “I will stop at nothing to make sure you never see the light of day again.”

“No jail can hold me for long, princess.”

“I wasn’t talking about jail,” she intones, releasing him and stepping backwards. He scoffs and rubs his wrist but doesn’t quite meet her eyes, shucking his waiter’s jacket off of his shoulders and tossing into the nearby dumpster against the wall.

“Well, death threats aside, did you bring me your side of the bargain?”

Marinette clenches her teeth together and unties the tiny black bag from her belt, throwing it at him with far more vehemence than necessary and Loïc says as much. She sneers at him with a shrug and crosses her arms across his chest, waiting for him to finish analysing the platinum band.

“So if I put this on, I’d become Chat Noir?” he asks, his voice curious.

“Drugging him sent his kwarmi into hibernation,” she replies snidely, banking on the half truth to keep her cool and stop her from stuttering, “Until the effects wear off, the ring is useless.”

“Huh,” Loïc slips the ring onto his finger regardless and extends his hand in the ambient light, moving it back and forth to catch the glint of the streetlights, “Hadn’t thought of that.”

For once, Marinette is grateful that things hadn’t gone as planned, “So? What about my half?”

Loïc meets her glare and smiles, “You get your information when I get my powers back.”

“Give me a hint at least,” Marinette insists, pursing her lips, “Anything.”

“He’s a man,” Loïc plucks the ring off his finger and sticks it in his pocket. Marinette just rolls her eyes.

“Give me one reason why I shouldn’t punch you in the face right now.”

“Alright, alright,” he raises his hands in defeat, his cigarette slowly burning between his fingers, “No need to resort to violence, I’ll talk,” he lowers his cigarette to his lips and pulls deeply, exhaling columns of smoke out his nose, “He’s filthy rich. I mean, you should see the house this guy lives it. That, and he's a sanctimonious piece of shit.”

“I already knew that,” Marinette replies, cracking her knuckles, “You’re not telling me anything I didn’t already know.”

“That’s your problem,” Loïc responds, patting the ring in his pocket, “Because that’s all you're going to get until my second favourite psychopath hits me up with some magic butterflies.”

Marinette wonders for a moment who his favourite psychopath is and promptly decides she doesn’t care enough to ask, “Are you going to see him now?”

“Sure am, sweet cheeks,” he drawls, pulling his smartphone from his pocket, “I’m texting him as we speak.”

“Where?”

“Now now Ladybug, I can’t have you following me around the city,” he tucks the cigarette into the corner of his mouth and starts tapping away at the screen with the pads of his thumbs, “You go home and take care of your boyfriend and let the adults do their thing.”

There’s so much condescension in his voice, his choice of words so disgustingly patronising that she doesn’t quite know what happens next except for how her body reacts, which is a swift and punishing blow to the face that sends him reeling backwards on his ass, sprawled like a boxer after the final knockout. She stands above him and shakes her hand out with a growl, finally unleashing the tethers on her emotions that she’d been fighting to control since gathering Chat up in her arms. She’d expected tears and Marinette level anxiety outbursts, not fierceness and rage.

She feels like an animal.

“What the fuck was that for?!” Loïc screeches, holding the left side of his face in pain. He rolls over onto his side and curls into himself, moaning into his palms and forearms.

“For hurting Chat,” she belittles, watching his writhe, “Stop being such a baby, I barely hit you.”

“The fuck?!” he sputters again in place of actually replying and Marinette can’t help but feel a little smug.

“Go on, up you get. The faster you get to Le Papillon, the faster I get my side of the bargain.”

He groans loudly and Marinette taps him with the tip of her toes, urging him upwards. He shifts his hands and glares at her between his fingers, pulling himself onto his knees, “You’re fucking crazy, you know that?”

She cocks her hips and plants her hands on her hips with a grin, “I’m Ladybug, protector of Paris. Crazy is what I do.”

Spinning on her heel, Marinette loosens her yoyo from her belt and launches herself up into the treetops of Paris, disappearing into the shadows of the night with a smirk. A surge of adrenaline thrums through her veins, the high of punching Loïc in the face and taunting him keeping her nimple on her feet as she circles another building and settles onto a balcony where she can keep an eye on Loïc without being seen. He’s pulled himself onto his feet by now, cursing a blue streak as he meanders over to a parked vehicle a few metres away from where they’d been arguing. He crawls inside and fires the ignition, pulling out of the drive with a frustrated screech.

She tracks him across the city, his trajectory obvious. The Eiffel Tower looms ominously in the distance.

He parks his car in the Pullman lot and trudges across the stretch of land, gesturing wildly as he talks into his phone. He pauses to light a cigarette and Marinette is forced to linger back even farther to keep from being seen.

Every stride she takes ratchets her anxiety even higher, a wash of tension dancing over her skin. She sweeps her eyes over every square metre of the expanse in front of her, watching and cataloguing every sound and movement; if Le Papillon actually fell for their ruse, she'd have another akuma to deal with.

And if he didn't…

Her steps grow lighter, her movements more wary as she darts from shadow to shadow, determined to stay hidden in the hazy dark of the Parisian evening, sparsely illuminated with elegantly crafted streetlights. Noises she wouldn't otherwise hear suddenly sound amplified, the texture of the concrete beneath her feet somehow more intense. She’s ready for anything, ready for everything; it’s only a matter of time before her cover is blown.

The ring weighs heavily against her chest.

Loïc breaks into the security around the tower and begins his slow trek up the stairs, pausing from time to time to fetch a cigarette from his back pocket and to catch his breath. She waits until he’s made it passed the first platform before rocketing over the security gates and scaling the tower herself, meaning that she’s lost a few precious moments before she catches up with him on the uppermost level.

The observation deck at the top of the tower is completely dark save for the exterior lights illuminating the iron lattice of the exterior shell and the surrounding sky. She sneaks in quietly and follows the sound of voices, spotting the silhouettes of two men standing near the elevator on the north side of the space.

“Are you sure?”

“Did everything you asked boss,” Loïc offers the taller man a half-hearted salute and leans back against the wire containment fencing, crossing his arms casually in front of him.

“And Ladybug?”

“Busy tending to her kitty cat, I imagine,” he responds with a shrug and a smirk, “She threw the ring at me and left in the car once I gave her the antidote.”

“Clever,” the man responds, tilting his body enough that Marinette can finally take stock of his features in the ambient light, “It appears she didn’t leave you unscathed.”

“She’s got a mean right hook,” Loïc reaches back and fishes his cigarette case from his back pocket, “Knocked me right on my ass. Can’t say I’d like to take her on in a fight.”

“You’ll have to if you want your reward.”

“Not so fast,” Loïc lets the unlit cigarette rest at the corner of his lips, “You said bring me a Miraculous, not both of them. There’s no chance in hell I am going up against her without an advantage.”

“That was not what we discussed.”

“Ladybug is a machine. You’ll need an army to take her down.”

“You will deliver the Ladybug Miraculous to me.”

“No way Jose,” Loïc raises his hands up in defeat, “Chat Noir was easy, but Ladybug? She’s got no weaknesses.”

“Chat Noir is her weakness.”

“Yeah, and I’ve already kind of exhausted that strategy. Look, think about it. Give me my powers back and it’ll be easy. You’ve been running her around the city for hours, she’ll be tired.”

“All the more reason why you need to bring it to me today.”

Loïc takes his lighter and flicks the trigger, illuminating his face briefly in the dark, “Nope. I don’t have a death wish.”

“You are in no position to argue with me.”

“Yeah?” he aims a cloud of smoke to his left, obscuring his features, “I know who you are.”

“And that information will die with you.”

“Are you threatening me?”

“I’m merely stating the obvious. Deliver her Miraculous to me.”

“No.”

“You will obey me.”

“Why?” he steps forward, encroaching into Le Papillon’s space, “You create butterflies and give people powers. That’s all you do. What do I have to be afraid of?”

Le Papillon closes the gap between them, “You will obey me.”

Loïc bares his teeth, “I told you, not without my part of the deal.”

Le Papillon snaps.

Driving a knee into his solar plexus, the taller man seizes Loïc by his shoulders and forces all the air from his lungs. Bucking him off and snarling, Loïc steadies himself on his feet and lowers his centre of gravity, his eyes feral with concentration.

“I do not negotiate with criminals,” Le Papillon hisses, tracking the mercenary’s movements with narrowed eyes. Marinette holds her breath as Loïc deepens in his stance and begins to twitch.

“What’s that saying again? Oh right, kettle? Black?”

Loïc shifts and Le Papillon deeks in kind, blocking Loïc’s blow only to fall into his follow-up strike, Loïc’s fist sinking deep into the flesh of his midsection just beneath his ribs. Le Papillon stumbles into the chain link fence and snaps forwards again, twisting to ram his elbow into Loïc throat just as Loïc prepares a kick that slams into Le Papillon’s side. He chases it with a second coup to the jaw and Le Papillon staggers backwards, fighting to stay on his feet in the wake of the explosion of light behind his eyes.

“Don’t forget who you’re messing with here,” Loïc mutters, circling him like predator in search of a fresh meal, “Just give me what I want and I’ll get you what’s rightfully yours.”

“You cannot be trusted,” Le Papillon wheezes, steadying himself against the fence.

Loïc smirks, “You’re right about that.”

He lunges back in, focused and dirty and Le Papillon does his best to retaliate, twisting just out of arm's reach in order to raise his cane and strike. Sensing an opening, Loïc aims another punishing blow at his weakest points, establishing an advantage that leads him easily away from Le Papillon’s overhead efforts to knock him out cold. Twisting, he takes Le Papillon by the neck and pins him to one of the nearby support beams, bearing down and squeezing the column of his throat.

“Last chance Butterfly,” Loïc coos in his ear, quiet and deadly, “I’m losing my patience.”  

“I…will,” Le Papillon gags, scrabbling for purchase against Loïc’s wrist and forearms, “…not—”

“Those are not the magic words,” Loïc releases his grasp on his throat only to grab the lapels of his collar, slamming his head back into the support beam, “Give me my powers back!”

Marinette covers her mouth with her hands and tries not to interfere as Le Papillon’s face completely drains of colour. Loïc smashes his head back into the post again and snarls, fury rising in his eyes until they’re nearly glowing with rage, “Give them to me!”

The last thing she expects to hear is Le Papillon snort deliriously in the din and he moves suddenly, an indulgent sneer on his face as his cane clatters to the ground, revealing something that Marinette can’t quite decipher in the flurry of movement. Whatever it is, it sits in his right hand and he snaps it forwards in a hard, crushing blow that sends Loïc reeling, stumbling backwards and clutching his abdomen.

“It’s a pity you chose unwisely,” Le Papillon rasps, his throat ragged and raw from being strangled, “You would have made a spectacular ally.”

“You won’t win,” Loïc gasps, crumbling awkwardly onto the ground. Marinette freezes in place as the red stain continues to spread across Loïc’s t-shirt, a stream of blood pooling at his side, “She’s more than you’ll ever be.”

Le Papillon coughs harshly for several moments, his hands curling into fists at his sides, “You had your chance to be a part of history.”

“Ladybug—”

“Will perish,” he informs him, reaching down to pick up the shell of his cane. He slides what looks like a rapier into the sheath and reattaches the two pieces together, “As will you shortly. I hope you have come to regret your decision.”

Loïc gasps and finally collapses, the shock creeping over his skin like ice water in his veins. He opens his mouth and all that comes out is a gurgle, his lungs failing to capture enough oxygen, his arms and legs both burning and uncomfortably numb. He tries to take another breath, just a few more, just a few more, just a few more…

Le Papillon wipes the blood from the back of his head off of the support beam with the sleeve of his suit and winces at the stain before stalking off towards the elevator. He enters it primly when the doors open and he soon disappears from sight, sinking passed the floor of the observation deck towards the ground down below.

The second the lift clears the space, Marinette races to Loïc’s side and falls onto her knees, reaching into his pocket for his mobile phone. She finds it and activates the emergency call feature, alerting the authorities of the casualty on the top of the tower as calmly as she possibly can, searching his face for any signs that he may still be conscious. The pool of blood continues to spread around him as she bunches up her shirt to try and stop the bleeding and do something, anything to quell the bile in her throat and the smell of iron in the air and—

“Ahh…” Loïc gasps into the air, a rivet of blood spilling from the corner of his lip. He cracks his eyes open and regards her for a moment before focusing on something passed her shoulder, “He’s…”

“Shhh,” Marinette tries to console him, panicking as he tries to shift his position, “Don’t move, the ambulance will be here soon.”

He raises his arm off his midsection and pulls his fingers into his palm, leaving one outstretched, “Agr…”

Marinette’s brows furrow, watching as his eyes track back and forth from hers to the wall beyond her shoulder, “What?”

Loïc takes another rattling breath and reflects on how strange it feels to sense the absence of a pulse in his chest.  

Watching the light fade from his eyes, Marinette gasps and promptly turns around, following the trajectory of his blank stare towards an advertisement panel on the other side of the observation deck. She can’t quite make out the words, but she’s seen that face a million times before.

Green eyes.

She stumbles to her feet and runs closer, fighting the urge to vomit at she takes in the poster before her of Adrien Agreste in all his glory, dressed sharply in his father’s designs, all tailored lines and luxurious fabrics, accessorised with perfectly waxed leather oxfords and an embroidered green tie so lavish, so expensively extravagant that she’d know it from anywhere, wrapped around his neck like the noose that suddenly feels like it’s tightening around her throat and—

No.

It couldn’t. He couldn’t be. But—

Loïc didn’t know. He didn’t know Chat’s identity. And yet—

Did he—

He must have figured it out—

Nononono

Marinette spins around and rushes back to Loïc, sliding across the observation deck on her knees and she grasps his shoulders, shaking him, choking on her words and—

“What did you mean?” she manages to sputter, her words born from grief and anger and panic as tears begin to prickle at the corners of her eyes, “What did you mean?!”

She hears the howl of sirens in the distance, feels the coolness of the breaking heatwave run its fingers through her hair. The man beneath her hands continues to lay motionless, wordless and answerless and Marinette sees no answer to her problems, no means of finding a solution she can no longer seek. She stumbles to her feet, her legs tingling and numb and struggling to support the rest of her weight and she can only gape as the ambulance attendants appear in the bleak light of the elevator doorway, rushing towards her and it feels like time stops a little, like everything has suddenly keeled slightly to the left, like the earth has stuttered in its constant rhythm around the sun, shuddering beneath her feet and there’s arms around her shoulders, helping her get back up on her feet and she can’t feel the heat of the man’s body through her suit, can’t feel anything beyond the chill creeping through her limbs like a dose of cold water and—

“Ladybug? Ladybug?” she can hear someone call her from somewhere off in the distance but it’s too far, too far to make out the syllables, too far to make sense of the sounds and the shapes of the words on his tongue, “Are you okay? What happened?”

She blinks a few times but the noises don’t become any more distinct than before. She tries to pry her tongue from the roof of her mouth and finds she can’t quite manage that task yet either, the paramedics and their flashlights reflecting in the pool of red beneath her feet.

“Ladybug? What happened?”

“How did this happen?”

“Who did this?”

“Where is the weapon?”

“Did you see who did this?”

“Was it Le Papillon?”

“How did they escape?”

“Where are they?”

“Who is he?”

“Where?”

“How?”

“Where?”

“How?”

“Where?”

“How?”

There’s something bizarre about the way the tower seems to shift from its foundations, teetering precariously even further to the left that it already was and the walls seems to shiver around her, wobbly and unsteady concrete built on iron lattice that seems to be pulling apart at the seams, sending her rocking sideways. A pair of hands holds her shoulders steady but she’s already tipping, already collapsing beneath the weight of gravity and something else she can’t quite put her finger on, not that she has control of them anyway. The world is tilting after all, knocked off its axis, ending abruptly.

Some indeterminate time later, she finds herself sitting in the back of an ambulance.

There’s red and blue lights flashing everywhere, and somehow the masses have been kept at bay, a rowdy but easily ignorable din in the distance. Faces she remembers seeing, remembers pulling to their feet in the halls of La Grande Palais mill around her, some eyeing her nervously, others warily, others desperately but unwilling to be the first. Marinette watched them idly like she would a documentary in class, like that one she’d watched the other day in marketing, people everywhere, doing their thing, off in their own realm of work. Everything still feels muffled and Marinette can’t quite get a grasp on what’s wrong with her, idle and motionless and everything she’s not when she’s Ladybug, intrepid and fearless. She feels like she’s left her body a little bit, like an outsider looking into the screen and watching the story unfold without being able to do much about it, a stranger in her own story, unable to recognise herself.

Every time she closes her eyes she sees him a little more clearly, smiling through the plastic partition and it all starts to pull together slowly, purposefully, like the stars in the sky finally revealed by the absence of light. The stars were always there, she sees that now, just hidden from view but by what though? He’d offered his identity up a thousand times over, the signs were obvious; the clothes, the outlandish trips around the world, the Met Gala, the tie, oh, the tie. That stupid, stupid, stupid tie, the one she’d wrapped around her thigh and fantasised about using on him so many times over the past three months, the stupid tie that should have given it away all along and yet it hadn’t because of her own inability to see things right in front of her nose!

That bit that’s still hovering outside herself knows she shouldn’t be beating herself up over this, knows she should be focussing on the other, far more important things plaguing her life at the moment, like how to explain what happened to the dying man she’d been found with, stabbed to death with a sword. They didn’t know that, mind you, and they wouldn’t until she got a hold of herself, until she buckled down and pushed everything that had happened to the back of her mind and focused on the facts.

She steels herself and brushes the blanket from her shoulders, shifting her body weight onto the balls of her feet.

“It was Le Papillon,” she says to the closest attendant, her voice fuzzy and foreign in her ears. The woman freezes and immediately waves to her superiors, beckoning them towards her, “I watched him do it.”

“Why didn’t you stop him?”

Marinette swallows thickly and averts her eyes, “I didn’t get there in time.”

There’s a buzz of understanding, of revulsion and sympathy and Marinette wonders how she managed to get through that lie without stuttering like an idiot, “He keeps a blade in his cane. They were fighting.”

“Do you know why?”

“They were working together.”

The words come easier after that, flowing steadily as the group of professionals around her listen intently, jotting notes on the devices. There’s a confidence in her voice she doesn’t feel but she rolls with it regardless, the effervescent personality of Ladybug, effortless and devastating and everything in between taking over her body with an ease born from having done this for years. It’s as easy as pulling the disguise over her eyes, just another part of this masquerade she’d been thrown into all those years ago, whether it be with the press or with her partner. It was always a bit of an act really, always a conflict of what she could and couldn’t share with the world, with her parents, with him.

Everything had changed now.

Someone offers her a bottle of water and she takes it eagerly, drowning half of it in one go. She hadn’t realised how thirsty she was, how tired she was, the exhaustion she’d been ignoring in favour of panicking now settling deep into the marrow of her bones, deepening the pull of sleep. She leans against the side of the ambulance and her earrings begin to ring in her ears, saving her from the myriad of questions pouring from the lips of those around her and she bids them a quick farewell, promising to visit the police station tomorrow to answer any more questions they may have for her.

The yoyo feels leaden in her fingers and it’s more laborious than anything to reach back and fling it at the nearest object to try and launch herself in the air. Her shoulder catches the brunt of it and she’s used it by now, the g-forces that send her flying skyward, but it feels like she’s moving in slow motion still, the botched effects of time on reality not quite restored. It only takes her a few minutes to reach La Notre-Dame de Paris but it feels like hours have gone by and her muscles are burning, the last pip on her Miraculous ringing in her ears and…

She lands on the east side of the building and catches Tikki as she falls, soft and sleepy in her palms. She cracks an eye open and smiles at her in encouragement, wordlessly beckoning her onwards and Marinette can’t find another reason to linger, to prolong the suffering. Tucking Tikki into her purse and crossing the street, Marinette pushes through the doors of the bakery and walks inside.

Chapter Text

     28: Morning Sex

The lights are off at this time of night but they’d left the door open for her regardless, the bell on the doorframe clamouring against the silence of the bakery. She turns around and locks the door behind her, her heart pounding in her ears, her limbs leaden with exhaustion and guilt and failure and—

“Marinette?”

She turns with a start and follows the voice of her mother to the hallway, sprinting up the stairs with the last reserves of her energy. She pushes the apartment door open and finds Sabine pouring tea in the kitchen and her father resting in the living room, the vibrant images from the television playing colours against his skin.

“Marinette!”

Sabine sets the teapot down onto the counter and runs towards her daughter, pulling her into her arms as only a mother can, crushing and tender and everything Marinette hadn’t realised she needed until that moment. Uncontainable, a choked sob escapes her lips as her father approaches and sweeps the two into an embrace of his own, hauling both of them off of their feet and into his burly arms. They stay there for a while and Marinette relishes in the warm comfort, tears prickling at the corners of her eyes as her father plants a kiss on the top of her head, blubbering nonsense into her hair.

After a few more moments, he sets them both down and Marinette’s legs are shaky as she shuffles towards the motionless figure on the couch facing away from the door, bundled up in every blanket and duvet they owned. She drops to her knees beside him and pushes the empty wastebasket out of the way, studying him apprehensively.

“He's going to be all right,” Sabine comes up behind her and places her hand on her shoulder, gentle and reassuring. Marinette avoids her gaze and tries not to think of the explanation she'll no doubt owe them later, “He'll be awake and running around by your side before you know it.”

“You took off his mask,” Marinette whispers, reaching up and brushing his hair from his forehead. She bites down her lower lip and forgets how to breathe, trailing the tips of her fingers along the brow bone of one Adrien Agreste.

“We, uh…well, you don’t want to know,” her father replies from where he’s sat back down on the other couch, his voice strained and tired, “But the wastebasket is there for a reason.”

“Ah,” Marinette grimaces, getting back to her feet, “He didn’t—”

“Luckily, he was outside of the car at the time,” Sabine chuckles, “He’s been fine ever since.”

“Has he said anything?” she asks, fishing Plagg out from the refuge of her ponytails. She unties the ribbons as she does so, gently dropping the snoring kwarmi onto Adrien’s abdomen.

“He's been fast asleep this whole time,” Sabine replies, observing the cat shaped creature snuffling against his chosen’s rising and falling chest, “Is that his version?”

“His version of what?”

“The little red creature I catch in the kitchens from time to time.”

Marinette freezes, “You've seen her?!”

“She's not exactly subtle. I thought the bakery was haunted for a while.”

Marinette slips the strap of her purse off her shoulder and opens the clasp, glaring reproachfully at the pair of guilty blue eyes hiding within, “I thought I told you to stop stealing from the bakery.”

Tikki floats upwards from behind her wallet and giggles nervously, brushing cookie crumbs from her chest, “Sorry?”

Quite frankly, Marinette had expected more of a reaction from her parents than just curious expressions and nonchalant comments. Blinking rapidly, she stares between the two of them and doesn’t quite know what to think.

“Did you…” Marinette takes a wary step backwards, the realisation suddenly dawning on her, “Did you know?”

Sabine drags her eyes away from the sheepish kwarmi of good fortune long enough to pin her down with a deliberate stare, "You may not realize it since you're the one sneaking out, but the walls aren't that thick. We can hear your footsteps on your floor, we can hear the skylight slamming shut when you run out quickly and forget to close it slowly."

Marinette pales under the heat of her mother’s gaze as Sabine continues, "How many three-hour shopping trips with Alya do you think you can go on? Especially since you never seem to come home with anything but bruises?"

“I—”

"Also, you can only miss school so many times before the administration starts getting suspicious. You're doing a good job keeping your grades up, but your absences are being noticed, and your teachers do a good job of calling to ask where you're are."

Marinette feels her back hit the bookcase behind her, “I had to keep it a secret.”

“We realise that,” Sabine says diplomatically, turning to go and fetch the tea cups she’d poured a few minutes ago, “Which is why I never said anything. It was only lately that we started to get concerned.”

Marinette knows what’s about to come out of her mother’s mouth next and she is so, so not ready to breach this topic, oh god, oh godohgodohgod

“Especially since that video was posted.”

Marinette covers her face and whines, slowly sinking down to rest on her haunches against the floor, “Please maman, not today—"

“And with Adrien Agreste,” Sabine continues, heedless to her daughter’s embarrassment, “Did you know it was him?”

Marinette groans into her palms and Sabine presents her with a cup, “When he’s feeling better, I’d like you to invite him over. I think we all need to have a talk.”

Her father is blessedly silent throughout the whole exchange and Marinette can’t help but be grateful as she takes the mug blindly, her burning face now buried in her knees, “Yes maman.”

“Good,” Sabine joins her husband on the sofa and sips her tea, watching the Parisian news unfold before her eyes. Marinette takes another deep breath before emerging from her makeshift hideaway and she brings the mug to her lips, her eyes inevitably drawn to Nadja Chamack’s emphatic reporting on the murder at the top of the Eiffel Tower. There’s blurry footage of her sitting in the back of an ambulance broadcasting across the screen as well as the chief of police’s statement on the matter, the soundbites from the press conference playing on repeat.

“Are you all right Marinette?”

Marinette nods once.

“Do you want to talk about it?”

Marinette struggles to pull her eyes away from the television and doesn’t respond for a long time, too lost in the feedback loop of noise and sensory overload and everything in between. Sabine eventually turns away and buries herself back between her husband’s arms, her patience still and everlasting, and it takes minutes, hours even, before Marinette finds the courage to speak.

“Yes.”

~

“I’m sorry I kept you up so late,” Marinette whispers, checking her phone and finding 0237 glowing against the pink background light, “I know you have to work tomorrow.”

Sabine pushes herself to her feet as her husband stretches and yawns, the bones in his shoulders and spine cracking audibly in the din, “It was quite the story.”

“I didn’t want it to end!” Tom raves, lacing his fingers together above his head, “It sounded so much better coming from you than from the LadyBlog.”

“I can’t believe how many people have been akumatised,” Sabine continues, tapping her chin, “It seems like everyone has at one point or another.”

“I feel like we’re secret spies or something,” Tom drops his voice into a mock whisper, making Marinette smile, “Of all the people in Paris, only we know the truth.”

“It’s still a secret,” Tikki cautions from where she’s buried herself beneath the blankets around Adrien’s neck, popping her head out to make certain that she’d grabbed everyone’s attention, “No one else can know Ladybug or Chat’s identities.”

Tom brings his fingers to his lips and pretends to zip them, placing his fist over his chest, “Baker’s honour.”

Marinette grins and leans back against the cushion of the couch she shares with Adrien, his blanket covered feet resting against her thighs, “Thank you for listening to me.”

Sabine’s expression grows serious, “We’re always here to listen Marinette. Even if you can’t tell us everything, we’re happy to listen and give you our support.”

“Ooh!” Tom palms his own cheeks and begins to wriggle from side to side, giddy from lack of sleep, “Does this mean I can get your autograph?”

“Dad!” Marinette admonishes in embarrassment, averting his eyes as he dances around the room, “Oh my god, stop!”

“Think about it!” Tom continues, tapping his exasperated wife on the shoulder, “We could start another side business selling signed Ladybug merchandise!”

Marinette covers her eyes, “Ughhhh…”

“Come on dear,” Sabine intervenes, taking her husband by the elbow, “We need to get to bed.”

“But how am I going to sleep?” he replies, sniffing dramatically, “Ladybug, protector of Paris, doesn’t like my dancing? I can’t go on!”

“Daaaaad,” Marinette rolls her eyes and smiles, her father’s histrionics leaving her feeling lighter than she has in weeks, “Go to bed.”

“And you?” Sabine asks as she leads him towards their bedroom, “Are you going to stay up with him?”

Marinette nods, “I don’t want him to wake up alone.”

She doesn’t see Sabine’s reaction, but she can hear the understanding in her voice as she speaks, “Don’t stay up too much longer.”

“I won’t. Goodnight.”

“Goodnight.”

Marinette watches the door to her parent’s bedroom close and she pauses, goosepimples pricking across her skin. So much had changed in only a handful of hours, identities and lines and a myriad of other things crossed and exposed like a live wire, dangerous and vulnerable. Marinette wraps her arms around her chest and sits there for a while in the ambient darkness, heedless to the time that passes, lost in her own wavelength of thoughts. How could everything change so quickly?

Marinette glances down at the boy wrapped in blankets, maskless and slack against the cushions, and suddenly remembers how tired she is, how heavy she feels in the wake of the fact that she’d just spilled the story of the last two and a half years of her life on her parents in a way that she’d never expected. Snuggling deeper into the crease of the couch, she tucks her feet in underneath her and closes her eyes, the warmth from the soles of his feet providing enough solace that he’s still breathing and alive.

~

“Sabine?” Tom whispers loudly, poking his sleepy wife in the shoulder.

“Shh…” she admonishes him, swatting his finger away as she reaches for a mug, desperate for caffeine to make up for the lack of sleep.

“Where’s your iPhone?” Tom’s whisper isn’t that much quieter, but Sabine ignores it and lets him tug her towards the living room.

“In my pocket, why?” she murmurs, stifling a yawn and blinking blearily as her eyes begin to adjust to the dimer lighting,  “…Oh.”

Tom, still a little stupid from only two hours sleep, points dramatically, “Look!”

“Shh!” Sabine scolds him, already tugging her hand free of his grasp.

“Take a photo!”

“I am. Keep quiet, you don’t want to wake them!” Sabine whispers, fishing her phone out and fumbling with the screen.

Tom takes her mug so she can use both hands, “Save them in the wedding folder.”

“Absolutely.”

~

Marinette wakes just as the sun clears the rooftops of the Parisian cityscape, her eyes flying open only to find herself wedged between the back of the sofa and another body. She blinks away the sherbet sunlight that pours in through the windows, bleaching his already pale skin and glinting off the golden hair that falls into her eyes. His back presses firmly against her front, restricting her breathing and Marinette gasps reflexively, grimacing as the less than pleasant smell of sweat, soot and sick fills her nose.

Careful not to jostle him, Marinette extracts herself from the tangle of blankets and props herself up at an angle high enough to peer down her partner, her fingers brushing over his clammy skin and his disheveled hair that sticks up at the temples. He was moving at least, small twitches and reflexive movements indicative of normal sleep; his breathing was deep and even and Marinette breathes a sigh of relief. Loïc had said that he’d be out for a while, maybe even a few days, and…

Her stomach turns over at the thought of him and her shoulder collapses beneath her weight, her head dropping back against the armrest with a resigned thump. Swallowing uncomfortably as bile rises in her throat, she closes her eyes to try and ground herself but it only makes the churning sensation worse and she opens her eyes back up again, searching desperately for a distraction.

Tugging on her rumpled shirt, she climbs over top of the armrest and tiptoes up the stairs to her room in search of a new change of clothes, eventually deciding that she’s better off just getting a shower. Setting some pants and a loose sweater over her forearm, she climbs back down the stairs and disappears into the bathroom, intent on scrubbing the events of yesterday from her skin.

She’s towelling off her hair when she hears him coughing in the living room and she nearly phases through the door in her haste to see him, vaulting over the couch in nothing but a bathrobe. She’s at his side within seconds, keeping him steady as he fights to catch his breath, shallow and laboured but steadier by the second. She brushes his bangs from his eyes and she wonders how she didn’t put it all together before, perfectly blond and dishevelled and a cupid’s brow she’d practically committed to memory.

Blearily, he opens his eyes, and Marinette watches as his confusion clears the longer he looks at her.

“Adrien!” Marinette combs her fingers through his hair and presses the pads on her fingers into his scalp, rubbing gently, the gesture as much to soothe her as it is him, “Adrien, are you alright?”

“Hnn?”

His voice is thick and dazed and Marinette begins to panic, “Oh my god, are you okay? How do you feel? Do you need anything? Can I get you something—”

“Hnnn.”

Marinette watches in horror as he grimaces in the light, his brows furrowing as he squints and shifts against the blankets. He digs the heels of his palms into his eyes and moans again, his head throbbing to the rhythm of his pulse, his vocal chords grinding together with every breath.

“What happened?” he tries to say, although he’s fairly sure it comes out like a series of garbled whimpers. He peers through the cracks of his fingers and watches as Marinette barrels through a myriad of emotions that he can barely keep his eyes open long enough to watch, let alone parse out their meaning.

“I’m sorry!” she squeaks, her voice hitting pitches he can’t even comprehend at the moment, “Water, oh! I’ll get you water, stay there!”

There’s a flurry of movement and he can practically feel every footstep reverberate against the floorboards, his skin hypersensitive and prickling uncomfortably. Everything feels too tight, too delicate to touch and it hurts, oh god, does his head ever hurt.

What the fuck happened?

There’s a small glass of water in his face all of the sudden and he takes it gingerly, propping his head up just enough to properly connect the rim of the glass with the seam of his lips. He still manages to spill it all over him but at least he gets a few sips in, if anything, so he counts it as a victory and promptly collapses back against the soggy cushions, limp and aching and utterly exhausted.

He can hear her fussing as he fights to keep himself conscious but the pull of oblivion is ever so tempting and it doesn’t take much to start falling back asleep, if only to get away from the pain. He feels the movement around him stop and a short, forceful exhale is the last thing he hears as soft fingers burrow into his hair once more, soothing circles easing the pain. Unable to resist, Adrien succumbs and falls back asleep.

~

The next time he wakes, the curtains around the room have been drawn, blocking out most of the painful light. Marinette is curled up on the other section of the couch, fully dressed this time, though her hair is still damp. She’s scrolling through her phone, her brow furrowed as she worries her lower lips between her teeth.

Something must have alerted her because she glances at him, then starts, her eyes flying wide as she fumbles her phone. Catching the device, she sets it down on the coffee table before moving to crouch down next to him. His lips still feel stiff and numb, but Adrien forces them into a small smile, which seems to relieve her.

“Morning, again,” she says, but there’s still concern in her eyes as she looks him over, “You going to stay with me for a while this time?”

“Tha’s the plan,” Adrien mumbles and even though his tongue feel like it’s made out of lead, he still manages to force the words out and he counts it as a victory.

“Good, good. Great,” Marinette exhales forcefully, her bangs ruffling upwards, “How are you feeling? Better? Do you think you can eat? Or drink? Take a shower?”

Adrien considers for a moment, his thoughts sticky in his mind. His stomach isn't happy at the idea of food but he hasn't eaten properly in days aside from whatever he'd consumed at the party. Grimacing at the vague memory of it coming back up, he returns his attention to Marinette's question. His stomach is empty and he's probably pretty dehydrated; eating and drinking will probably help him feel better so long as he can keep it down.

“I’d like to eat something first, if that’s all right,” he says quietly and Marinette all but leaps into action, exiting the flat and running down the stairs as fast as her feet will take her. She emerges into the hallway and pops her head into the bakery, scooting around the industrial mixer to find her father elbow deep in butter and pastry.

“Morning!” she greets, walking up behind him and Tom spins around at the sound of her voice, his cheeks and forehead dusted with flour.

“Good morning yourself,” he grins widely, lifting up a tray of sourdough buns and placing them in the proofing oven, “How’s he feeling?”

“He’s awake and he’s hungry,” Marinette beams, eyeing a plate of croissants on the counter and Tom follows her gaze across the room.

“Take a few,” he insists, gesturing with his elbow to catch her attention, “There’s some coffee over there as well.”

Marinette nods in thanks and grabs a smaller tray from the cupboard, crowding it with croissants before walking over to the coffee pot, “Will you need my help today?”

Tom shakes his head and resets the temperature on the oven, “I think you have enough to worry about upstairs. We can handle ourselves.”

Marinette pours two cups of coffee and tops them off with table cream, “Are you sure?”

“Of course!” Tom beams, wiping his brow with the corner of his apron, “Go on, don’t keep him waiting!”

Smiling over her shoulder, Marinette nods and heads back the way she came, climbing up the stairs carefully so as to not wear the steaming hot coffee all over her shirt.

“I’m back!” Marinette calls, pushing the door open with her hip. Keeping her balance, she hurries over to the coffee table and sets everything down before she spills it, relieved to see Adrien still sitting and somewhat alert. He'd obviously moved around a bit judging by the blankets strewn every which way on the floor and Marinette happily adds to the chaos, flopping down beside him.

“Croissants and coffee,” she announces, presenting him with the tray of pastries. He grabs one and sinks back into the cushions, closing his eyes and taking a tiny nibble from the corner.

“So what happened?” he asks, taking another hesitant bite, “I don’t remember anything after defeating the akuma in La Grande Palais.”

“Loïc poisoned you,” Marinette replies simply, eyeing him nervously but Adrien doesn’t so much as twitch at the confirmation.

“I thought so,” he mumbles in between mouthfuls, “Where’s Plagg?”

“Being spoiled,” she smiles fondly at the memory of how she’d found the two kwarmi in her room earlier, “They’re cuddling together.”

Adrien opens one eye, “Plagg? Cuddling? Please tell me you took a picture.”

“Obviously,” Marinette snorts, fishing her mobile from her back pocket. She finds the picture and scoots closer to his side, holding it up in front of his nose, “Is that not the cutest thing you have ever seen?”

“Awww,” Adrien smirks, taking a sip of coffee, “That’s actually adorable. Can you send it to me? I want to print it off and taunt him with it.”

Marinette laughs, “You two are so mean to each other.”

“He’s a troll,” Adrien tries to deadpan, his comedic timing understandably off, “I constantly smell of cheese because of him.”

“I’ve never noticed,” Marinette turns her body to lean against the armrest and tucks her foot underneath her, “I think you smell fine.”

“Not right now I don’t,” he pulls a face and Marinette can’t help but agree, a sourness she sometimes she smells off her father wafting from him in waves, “I think I’ll take you up on that offer to use your shower.”

“Of course,” she replies, noticing how the colour is starting to return to his cheeks and skin, “Whenever you want. Do you want me to launder your clothes?”

“No, that’s all right. I don’t think anyone will notice that I haven’t changed,” he mutters, shucking his white shirt off his shoulders and folding it in his lap, “Nathalie said my father is feeling ill and won’t be around for the next few days. He’s probably locked himself in his office or something.”

“Does he do that often?”

“All the time,” Adrien shrugs, “I see him like...once a week? And when I do, it’s usually a scheduled meeting where he yells at me for something, like being too fat for Tom Ford or disappearing at a shoot again.”

“Too fat for Tom Ford?” Marinette recoils, “What?!”

“Well, too muscular, whatever,” Adrien waves his hand and sips his coffee, “He’s still pissed off about that.”

“Your dad is an asshole,” Marinette remarks emphatically and Adrien bursts into laughter, nearly spilling his drink on the shirt in his lap. Marinette can’t help but giggle along with him, a sense of relief and pride washing over her as he starts to bounce back, his usual persona beginning to peek through the cracks.

“You’re not the first person to call him that,” he wheezes, clutching his stomach, “But it’s still really funny to hear it from you.”

“Well it’s true,” Marinette turns up her nose playfully, crossing her arms across her chest, “So what if you're too muscular? You’re perfect just the way you are.”

Adrien gives her an honest to god smile and a whole series of emotions she’s not sure how to categorize begin to bloom in her chest, “Not today I’m not. I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck.”

“Loïc did say he dosed you pretty heavily,” Marinette hands him another croissant, “He said you wouldn’t wake up for a few days.”

A shadow passes over his features, “I read about what happened.”

“Wait, how did you find your phone?” she chides him, wondering briefly where her parents must have stowed it only to remember that they had left it on the counter.

“I needed to make sure Nathalie wasn’t going crazy,” he replies, burrowing deeper beneath his blanket, “Luckily she wasn’t too upset with me for not responding to her texts last night.”

“What did you tell her?”

“Well, I already told her I was going to Nino’s house for a sleepover,” he explains,  dipping his croissant into the coffee, “and then I told her I fell asleep early because I was tired.”

Marinette nods, “I’m glad you’re not in trouble.”

“Me too.”

A comfortable silence washes over them and Adrien settles even further into the couch, closing his eyes again with a sigh of content. Marinette waits until his breathing evens out before moving, rising from the cushions as carefully as she can so as not to disturb him. Quietly, she gathers up the coffee cups and the empty plate but leaves the croissant sitting in his lap alone in hopes that he’ll wake up and be hungry enough to eat it.

The rest of the morning passes quickly; she makes due on her promise to visit the police station and she gives them her statement, carefully recalling every detail she can remember. She insists that they check the surfaces of the support beams, knowing full well that whoever Le Papillon was, he had bumped his head hard enough to leave a little bit of blood. She hopes that they’re able to identify something from the clues he'd left, even if it just gave them a hint about who he was.

She finishes up within an hour and races back home, heedless to the paparazzi and the tourists that gawk and snap photos of her as she flits across the rooftops. She takes less detours than she usually would to avoid detection but there's never been a better time to cut corners and be a little bit reckless, if only to make sure her partner is all right.

Right?

Detransforming in a nearby alleyway, she barrels across the street and slips in through the front doors of the bakery as casually as she can manage, her parents already aware that she had had a secret rendez-vous scheduled with the police. Greeting them cheerfully, Marinette runs upstairs and opens the door to the sound of the water running and covers her mouth in shock, checking the couch just to be sure. If he was up and moving, it must mean he’s feeling better and…

He’d left the door open a crack.

She hears the telltale scrape of the shower curtain against the metal railing and can’t help but peek inside, her curiosity getting the best of her, “Ch-Adrien?”

“Yeah?”

“Are-are you all right?”

She can hear the pads of his feet squeak against the porcelain as he turns around in the tub, “Kind of. I’ll be out in a second.”

“Okay,” she replies, taking a step away from the door. Uncertain, she hesitates for a moment and lowers her stare, catching sight of the object that had been keeping the door from fully closing. Propping it open ever so slightly with her toes, she gathers the sock in question as well as the rest of his clothing and slips back into the kitchen, popping the entire pile into the washer/dryer unit with a dryer sheet. It was something she’d seen her father do more than once, much to her mother’s chagrin; something about the old days as a bachelor in Paris and being too lazy to wash his own clothes.

She hears the shower stop and she waits for a few minutes, listening intently in case of trouble. It’s uncanny the way she finds herself slowly meandering towards the pocket door as if drawn by a magnetic force, apprehensive and worried and excited and fearful and anxious all at once and the door is still propped open ever so slightly and—

“Marinette?”

She freezes at the threshold, “Yes?”

“Um…how long have I been in here?”

“About ten minutes or so,” Marinette frowns, “Why?”

“I think I fell asleep again? Not sure though.”

Marinette more or less whips the door open at this point and takes stock of the scene before her, all sprawled legs and mussed hair and oh my god, Adrien Agreste is naked in my bathroom.

Shaking her thoughts free, Marinette slides across the tile and kneels down beside him as he massages his temples, his eyes screwed shut in discomfort, “I thought the shower would help but…ugh.”

“There’s no rush,” Marinette tries to keep the jumpiness out of her voice, suddenly thankful for the bath towel pooling around his waist, “I’m not kicking you out or anything.”

“We have school tomorrow,” he replies and it’s all beginning to dawn on Marinette, “How am I going to explain this?”

Marinette swallows her nervous giggle, “Tell them you’re sick?”

Adrien groans, “Nathalie will probably think I’m hungover and then she’ll tell my father and then I’ll be forbidden to ever see Nino again and then—”

“Hush,” she insists, placing her hand on his naked shoulder, “We’ll figure out a story together.”

“Right,” he sighs, the ghost of a smile playing on his lips, “Because we’re partners, right?”

Marinette tenses, “Of-of course we’re partners.”

“And the fact that I’m Adrien Agreste doesn’t change anything.”

Adrien opens his eyes and watches the emotions play over her face and he can’t help but chuckle, seeing her mouth hanging open a little, her eyes wide. Smirking, he reaches over and takes her hand between his, running his thumb over the back and turning it over to study the sinews and lines that he knows so well, tracing them with his fingers until the information can sink in.

“I…”

Coming back to her senses, Marinette watches as Adrien weaves their fingers together and she itches to reach out and touch him, to bury her hands in his hair, to scrape her nails across his cheekbones and jawline just to feel the patches of stubble there. She untangles their hands and reaches towards his face, his lips grazing the skin of her inner wrist as he sinks into her touch, “I’m still Chat. You’re still Ladybug. Nothing has to change.”

“Everything has changed,” she responds, bringing their foreheads together, “This is…I don’t know what this is.”

He takes a deep breath, “I think good pretty much describes it.”

“But how are we going to explain this?” she pulls back, gesturing between the two of them, “To our friends? Your dad? He’s hated me ever since that book incident.”

“Book incident?”

“The Miraculous Book.”

You had it?” Adrien squints and Marinette can’t tell if he’s confused or in pain.

“It’s…” she reaches back to rub the back of her neck, “It’s a long story. Not important. Anyway, what’s important is that he hates me.”

“Who cares what he thinks?” he shrugs, “We’re Chat Noir and Ladybug. We can do whatever we like.”

Marinette grimaces at the sudden memory, “Speaking of which, my parents want to lecture us when you’re feeling better.”

Adrien meets her gaze, “Was it the—”

“Yup.”

Merde.”

“Yup.”

Adrien rests his head on the lip of the tub, “Well, on the bright side, now we have two perfectly good, private, camera free bedrooms to use.”

Marinette buries her head in his shoulder in a terrible attempt to hide the blush burning a path across her cheeks and he finally gives into the irresistible urge to lean forwards and kiss her, planting his hand against her cheek and gently pressing his lips to hers. It’s different somehow than all the others, simple and easy, innocent and perfect and everything he’s ever wanted, free from the masks and disguises. He’s doing this purely because he wants to, because they’re finally free to embrace both sides of themselves without having to worry about getting caught up in the heat of the itch and Marinette doesn’t resist in the slightest, content to lean into him and let him set the pace.

He chases the taste of butter and cream as his tongue sweeps across her parted lips, his hands reaching up to thread his fingers through her hair. He draws a small gasp from her as he deepens the kiss, nibbling her bottom lip and soothing the bite with his tongue and he swears he hears her growl, beckoning him closer.

There’s no sense of urgency, no need to rush as they kiss until they’re light headed with it. Marinette wishes they could stay there for hours against the shell of the clawfoot bathtub, laving each other with lazy kisses but Adrien’s suddenly shivering, and whether it’s from the kiss or the chill in the air, the last thing he needs is a cold on top of everything he’s already been through.

She pulls back reluctantly and scoots backwards, disappearing out the door for a moment and leaving him breathless on the floor, his lips wet and tingling. She rushes back with his clothes in a ball and she drops them in his lap with a loud exhale, planting her hands on her hips.

“Um, why are my clothes warm?”

Marinette grins, “I put them in the dryer for a few minutes with a dryer sheet to freshen them up.”

Adrien rubs at the back of his neck and averts his eyes, slightly embarrassed, “That’s...thank you Marinette.”

“You’re welcome,” she replies, taking a deep breath, “You get dressed and I’ll get us lunch. You’re probably starving.”

Adrien nods and Marinette closes the door behind her, leaving him half sprawled on the floor in a daze as he tries to wipe the look of shock off his face. He looks down at the pile of clothes and back up at the panelling on the door a few times, raking his fingers though his hair and letting out a small, strangled laugh.

Later, once he’s gotten dressed and she’s procured a plate of leftovers for the two of them, he lets her guide him back to the couch. He picks at his food for a while as she describes the chaos of the night prior, listening as intently he can manage but it all begins to blur after a while. Sensing his waning attention, Marinette shoves the last of the rice into her mouth and sets her plate on the coffee table, their knees pressing together.

“Done?”

Adrien blinks, “Hmm?”

Marinette carefully takes the plate from his fingers and piles it on top of her empty one, settling back down beside him. He pulls her in front of him, wrapping his arms around her and Marinette leans back into his embrace, resting her head against his collarbones.

“Have I told you how much I love you today?” he murmurs, pressing his cheek into her hair.

Marinette closes her eyes and smiles, “Are you always going to ask me this?”

He pulls her tighter against him and sighs, “I’m never going to stop.”

~

“Are you sure?”

“It’s fine,” Adrien says, stepping up onto the doorsteps of Nino’s apartment, “The Gorilla will be here any minute now.”

Marinette catches her yoyo and slips it back onto her belt, “You don’t feel sick or anything? Or like you’re going to pass out again like you did in the kitchen?”

Adrien’s cheeks begin to burn, “Can you please stop reminding me about that?”

“I’m worried,” she says with a ferocity that has him reeling, “I don’t want you to get hurt.”

“I’m fine,” he says and it’s totally a lie, “I’m feeling better.”

Marinette bites her lower lip, her expression anxious behind her mask, “You almost threw up on me while I was bringing you here.”

“I’m fine,” he repeats himself, “I’ll talk to you tomorrow okay?”

“Text me when you get home.”

“I will,” he takes her hand and squeezes it gently, “I love you.”

Marinette opens her mouth as if to speak, then quietly closes it. Smiling, she gives his hand a quick squeeze in return and disappears into the shadows of Paris.

(And if she just so happened to track his car down the streets until it pulls into the Agreste compound, well…no one is the wiser.)

Chapter Text

  1. Making Love

Marinette isn’t surprised when Adrien doesn’t show up to school the following day. He sends their group chat a text message that morning assuring them that he’s okay, but Marinette still insists on pestering him throughout the next few hours to confirm that he’d found something to eat and that he’s drinking lots of water. He falls asleep around the lunch hour and when he starts answering her texts again later that afternoon, she can tell he’s feeling better.

Adrien<3
How’s school?

Marinette
Stressful. Mme. Michon surprised us with a pop quiz.

Adrien<3
For once I’m glad I stayed home.

Marinette
Speaking of which, you should be resting.

Adrien<3
But I’m boooooored.

Marinette
I don’t care. Sleep.

Adrien<3
Nope.

Marinette
Don’t make me come over there.

Adrien<3
You can come over me anytime you like.

Marinette
…seriously?

Adrien<3
In fact, I’d love if you would come over me right now.

Marinette
I am not having this conversation with you. You’re sick.

Adrien<3
Love sick maybe. I’m feeling a thousand time better.

Marinette
I can tell. Your puns are back to being awful again. I liked it better when you were napping.

Adrien<3
You wound me M’Lady. Just for that, I’m getting up.

Marinette
Get. Back. Into. Bed. Immediately.

Adrien<3
Or what? You’ll make me?

Marinette
I’m serious.

Adrien<3
Sorry Buginette, but I aim to hissbehave.

Marinette
One more pun out of you and I’ll never let you into my room again.

Adrien<3
For your infurmation, I happen to like sex puns. In fact, I like to slip one in whenever I can.

Marinette
OMG STOP

Adrien<3
I know how you can make me stop.

Marinette
How’s that?

Adrien<3
Remember that time when I wouldn’t stop talking and you sat on my face?

Adrien<3
Or that time you literally shoved your panties in my mouth just to shut me up?

Adrien<3
I could go on if you want.

Marinette scrubs her hand down her face and heaves a long-suffering sigh, ignoring her phone for all of two minutes before caving.

Marinette
I am trying to pay attention to M. Renaud.

Adrien<3
Oooo, remember when we made love on the Eiffel Tower and #LadyNoir started trending worldwide?

Marinette
Please tell me you’re not on tumblr again.

Adrien<3
Look at some of this fanart!

Marinette grimaces at the photo notification on her lock screen and briefly looks around to make sure no one is looking her way before she opens it.

Marinette
Omg.

Adrien<3
And there’s more where that came from. Have you seen this one?

Marinette quietly groans into the sleeves of her sweater and opens the next one, blushing deeply.

Marinette
I’m in class!!!

Adrien<3
I wonder if LadySutra321 takes commissions. Did you see the way she drew your ass? üüü

Marinette
I can’t believe the effort people go through just to draw us.

Adrien<3
You have no idea. Have you read the fanfiction? There’s 11.000 stories on this website alone.

Marinette
Kill me.

Adrien<3
Let me in tonight and I’ll show you a petite mort.

Marinette
That was awful.

Adrien<3
You’re right, it sounded much better in my head. Offer still stands though.

Marinette
No, you need to rest.

Adrien<3
Please? Pretty please? Pretty pretty please?

Marinette
No.

Adrien<3
I will be on my best behaviour. No more puns.

Marinette
Still no.

Adrien<3
I will be good and sleep for the rest of the afternoon?

Marinette
I’ll think about it.

Adrien<3
YES.

Marinette
I haven’t agreed to anything yet.

Adrien<3
SEE YOU TONIGHT I LOVE YOU

Through sheer will alone, Marinette barely refrains from smacking her head against the surface of her desk and purposely ignores the smirk Alya sends her way.

~

She senses him before she sees him, the baby hairs at the nape of her neck standing on end as he lands in a crouch on the roof perpendicular to her own. Leaning against the railing of her balcony, she traces his silhouette with her eyes as he extends his baton and teeters from the eaves, arcing through the sky before landing gently beside her.

Marinette takes a step towards him, watching in earnest as he drops his transformation before her eyes, “How are you feeling?”

“Better now that I’m here with you,” he croons, his green eyes flashing mischievously the pastel glimmer of the evening sky, “I missed you.”

“I know what you’re up to and it won’t work,” Marinette narrows her eyes, smirking as Adrien closes the space between them, “You’re still recovering.”

“And I know just the cure,” he purrs, tilting her chin up with his fingertips, “You look beautiful tonight.”

“Mon minou,” she smiles despite herself, bringing their foreheads together, “Flattery will get you nowhere.”

“Flattery will get you everywhere,” he wraps his arms around her waist, grinning when she starts to laugh, “This is…good.”

She pulls back ever so slightly, “What is?”

“This,” he squeezes her tighter, “You and me. Together, finally.”

She frowns, “We were always together.”

“Not like this,” he brushes his thumb along the curve of her jaw, “No more hiding.”

Marinette sighs, her shoulders slumping forwards, “We still have a lot to talk about.”

“We do.”

They stand quietly for a moment, ultimately lost in thought. Her mind drifts back through the last twenty-four hours and the revelations that had come with them as she lets her head fall forward against his shoulder with a gentle thud. She wants to know everything, she needs to know everything, something to help her catch her balance in the wake of how quickly the world seemed to unravel beneath her feet.

Everything was different now.

“You’re my best friend, you know that right?”

She takes a deep breath and lifts her chin, drawing her eyes back up to meet his. When she doesn’t reply, he takes his fingers and brushes her bangs from her forehead, “I’ve got your back.”

Before she can consider doing anything else, she threads her fingers through his dishevelled hair and watches as a smile spreads across his lips. She can’t help but return it, drawing him closer and pressing her lips against his, revelling in the warmth of his skin as she melts into his embrace.

He takes his time exploring the contours of her body, pulling her flush against his own. She tries to pour everything she’s feeling into the kiss, fisting his t-shirt with one hand and burying her fingers into his tresses with the other, pulling his lip in between her teeth because she knows it drives him crazy. She tugs at the strands at the nape of his neck as he splays his hands out across her waist, gasping at the rush of pain/pleasure, the mouth-watering contrast.

“I know I should have stayed in bed but…” he whispers against her lips as his hands find purchase on her abdomen, his thumbs drawing circles against the skin above the waistline of her jeans, “I needed to see you again.”

Adrien’s lips continue to travel across her jawline, kissing the silky skin just beneath her ear, “The last few months have been so crazy and I…” his hand rakes through her hair and she lets her head fall backwards, allowing him access to graze his teeth along her neck, “It always boils down to the two of us.”

Marinette moans against his lips, “Adrien…”

“I am so in love with you,” he confesses, kissing her again if only to stifle the cry that escapes from deep within her throat. She quivers against him, scrambling for purchase as her knees threaten to buckle beneath her weight, and his lips are all she can think about.

He pulls away suddenly and Marinette watches as his eyes betray him, flitting sideways in a moment of insecurity, “Are you…though?”

Marinette’s heart beats erratically in her chest, “Minou…you already know the answer to that.”

Adrien releases a breath he hadn’t realised he’d been holding, running his thumb across her kiss swollen lips, “I…I want us so badly Marinette.”

“Then what are you waiting for?” she giggles breathlessly, “Come on.”

She takes his hand and tugs him towards the trap door, nudging it back open with the tip of her toes. She hops through the opening, bouncing lightly on her mattress as he slides in beside her, flicking his shoes off the side of the platform. She gently lowers the wooden panel until it’s flush with her ceiling and flicks the clasp shut with an air of finality, spinning around to face him.

“Keep your voice down,” she warns him, crawling over on all fours, “My parents are downstairs.”

Without waiting for an answer, Marinette covers his mouth with her own and kisses him deeply, grabbing the bottom of his shirt and shoving it up his chest until he gets the gist of what she’s doing and pulls it up over his head. Love and lust and every shade in between surges through his body as he kisses her, tasting icing and sugar and something so distinctly Marinette on her lips and she whimpers as he wraps one hand around her waist and fumbles with the button on her jeans with the other, running his hands down the back of her thighs until he’s tugged them off completely, throwing them aside.

Shamelessly, Marinette drags his hands back up her body and urges them to grab her around her waist, moaning when he shifts them back to cup her ass instead. She jerks when he squeezes and she grinds her hips up against his, keening sharply at the contact. Her blue eyes blown wide, she pulls him down on top of her and grabs one of his hands, guiding it up beneath the hem of her sweater.

Eyes fluttering shut, Marinette clings to his shoulders and holds on, the heat of it all pooling so strongly between her thighs that she’s certain she’ll burst. Her heart beats wildly inside her ribcage as his palm kneads her breast, her nipple responding eagerly beneath his touch. She drowns in the sensation, the way he whispers her name against her neck, the feel of his body pressing her into the mattress, the red-hot bond that seems to sear to life between them.

He tugs her shirt off and captures her lips in another blistering kiss, unclasping her bra and tossing it into the ever-growing pile of clothing strewn along the floor. Her nipples brush against his bare chest and she raises her hips up to rock against his, the sudden sense of urgency overwhelming her, desperate for more, desperate for anything to take off the edge, oh!

Impatient, Marinette reaches for the drawstrings of his pyjama pants and pulls on the knot fruitlessly, growing more and more annoyed when the strings refuse to unravel. Adrien chuckles softly against her lips in response to her growl of frustration and pushes himself up onto his knees, deftly unfastening the knot with his fingers. He lets his pants plunge past his hips with a smirk and Marinette’s mouth goes dry, her desire only growing as he drops back down over top of her, caging her in with his hands, hard and completely bare.

Marinette reaches out and strokes him, watching as his eyes fall shut at the onslaught of sensation. He begins exploring her body in earnest, his upper body carefully suspended over hers as his fingers quickly divulge her of her panties, “Impatient, are we?”

She rolls her eyes and curses through clenched teeth as his hands travel down her body, dipping between her folds, “Shut up—ah!

She gasps as he swirls his thumb around her clit, working a finger inside her at a torturous pace. She’s so passed this, faltering as an intense, carnal need takes over that’s so, so much different that the fiery burn of the itch and yet just as all-consuming and unbearable and oh my god.

“I know,” he groans against her, his smug lips curling against her neck. She hadn’t realised she’d been thinking aloud and she grinds her centre against the heel of his palm, moaning his name like a prayer.

Hearing her shout his name nearly a week ago in the throes of her orgasm had been something for the ages, but hearing it now was borderline indescribable. She whispers it without abandon, breathy and needy and nothing has ever made him feel this way before, “Adrien, please.”

“Eager?” he murmurs, trying for a joke and failing miserably as she arches into his touch, her lips parted in a gasp. He doubles his efforts, slipping a second finger in beside the first and curling them just the way he knows she likes.

“Nnnhh,” she bites her lower lip to try and stifle her cries and wraps her legs around his hips like a vice, forcing him closer. He acquiesces and nudges her knees apart, rising above her in order to ease himself in, his mouth fluttering over hers in an almost kiss that leaves her frustrated and breathless. He curses as he bottoms out inside her, his jaw clenching as she grasps onto his biceps, her nails leaving crescent shaped indents in his flesh.

Whimpering, Marinette writhes against the mattress, desperate for him to move against her, within her, something because if he doesn’t start moving right now, she swears she’ll make him pay for it. She says as much and Adrien chuckles into her hair, taking his time to pull out only to gradually ease his way back in, agonisingly slow and merciless and everything she does and doesn’t need all at once.

“Adrien…”

His hands continue to explore her body, his fingers tracing haphazard patterns and shapes against her skin. His thumb strokes her cheek and settles at the divot of her lips and she nips it eagerly, sucking and laving it with her tongue.

“Faster,” she begs him, “Please.”

He shakes his head and kisses her again, languid and agonisingly slow and Marinette swears she sees stars, responding with everything she has inside her. His pace is excruciating and she can barely focus, barely keep her head above the crashing waves as her muscles begin to quiver, her thighs wrapped around his body shaking with a desperate effort to urge him inside her, to go faster, to do anything and she’s teetering on the edge, writhing as she grinds against him and he responds in kind, pressing deeper inside her.

“No rush,” he breathes, his voice ragged as he fights to keep his movements unhurried, “Gotta make this last.”

She growls against his lips as he gently rolls one of her nipples between his fingers, “Minou--”

Adrien ignores the warning in her voice and buries his nose in her hair, seeking out the sensitive patch of skin beneath her ear again and grazing it with his teeth. He laves it with his tongue and sucks kisses onto her throat, marking her and she moans hot against his skin, shifting her head to give him a better angle. Her body tingles with every thrust of his hips, building her pleasure as his cock slides against her clit, and Marinette can’t remember a time where they ever took this long to just enjoy each other, an eternity of soft cries and kisses and god, the way he slides his fingers between their bodies to rub circles against her centre nearly sends her careening off the edge, his lips sucking and kissing every centimetre of skin he can reach. He’s sheathed inside her, his hips pistoning against her and she’s shuddering around him, her muscles tightening, and she's never quite felt pleasure like this, shockwave after shockwave overwhelming her as she chants his name into his hair, her orgasm surging through her body.

Her name tumbles hoarsely from his lips, his body growing rigid as she arches up against his, shuddering and mewling his name and he can’t hold back any longer, his climax overtaking him. They're panting, their lips brushing against each other as he continues to tremble around her, the aftershocks of pleasure lasting long after they've collapsed side by side, shattered and spent and more alive than he’s ever felt in his life. He can’t quite feel his toes anymore, their bodies entwined as he gathers her in his arms and pulls her against his heaving chest, sated and exhausted.

“Wow,” Marinette murmurs against his skin, wrapping her arm around his abdomen. She rests her head against his collarbone and reaches up to thread her fingers through his hair, eager to hear the rumble in his chest beneath her cheek as they bask in the afterglow. He doesn’t disappoint her, arching into her expert fingers as he strokes the soft skin at the small of her back.

“Mmm…” he can’t quite manage to make his lips cooperate quite yet, running his fingers up and down the length of her spine. He tries to memorise each and every mark on her body, every freckle that peppers the pale expanse of her back, the tiny marks and scars and bruises from battles past and present.

She sighs and closes her eyes, settling herself into the crook of his arm, “Adrien?”

“Yeah?” he croaks, yawning as his body sinks further into the mattress.

“You know we have school tomorrow right?”

“Give me like, two hours, that’s all I ask.”

Marinette snorts softly, “I could get used to this whole bedroom thing.”

Adrien raises a brow, “Mmm?”

“Yeah,” Marinette bends her knees, locking their legs together, “Wake me up when you leave.”

“You sure?”

“Mmhmm,” she closes her eyes, “But I’m a heavy sleeper…so you’ll have to get creative.”

Adrien chuckles, “I know just the thing.”

~

Marinette wakes up to the press of open-mouthed kisses against her skin and an arm wrapped around her waist, pulling her flush against the sleep-sated body behind her. Humming, she smiles into her pillow and grinds back against him, parting her legs in silent invitation.

“Good morning,” he murmurs into her skin as his hand slides farther down her abdomen, lingering near the mess of curls between her thighs. He ventures further between her folds and she gasps as he swirls a finger around her clit, drawing circle after circle to draw out her pleasure.

Muffling the sound of her moans with her pillow, Marinette arches her spine and presses herself against his erection, grinning when he inhales sharply into her neck, “Good morning yourself.”

She wriggles against him as he grips the base of his cock and guides it inside her and Marinette’s toes curl against the bedsheets, a fresh wave of arousal rushing through her. He starts to move, slow and

unhurried and she craves the sounds he’s making as he thrusts inside her, each and every breathy gasp in her ear only ramping up her pleasure. His purr reverberates through his skin and the thrill of it peaks in her centre, his fingers working wonders between her thighs.

She hooks her foot around his leg and urges him to go faster, his moans growing hoarse against the shell her ear and all she can do is whimper and hold onto him as the pressure builds with every shallow thrust. She keens as he pulls her earlobe between his teeth and tugs, the angle of his cock shifting inside of her and she can’t stop the uninhibited gasp that escapes her lips, her mouth dropping open with the new sensation.

“Ah, ah fu-ck!” she shudders under the sudden onslaught, her orgasm blindsiding as he continues to flick her throbbing clit from side to side. He continues to move against her, his breath ghosting over her cheek as she comes down from her high and she can tell he’s on the verge, every thrust accompanied by a gasping breath that goes straight to the bundle of nerves at the apex of her thighs.

Boneless in his grasp, she tries to grind back against him and he responds eagerly, his hips faltering in their rhythm. Sloppy kisses stretch across her neck and shoulders, his hands now wrapped tightly around her waist, his face buried into the side of her neck, searching for his own release and he’s so close he can practically taste it, teetering just on the precipice and she squeezes her inner muscles and—

“Ah!” he scrambles for purchase as he comes at last, latching onto her waist and pulling her close. He buries his nose in her hair and it’s completely overwhelming, his mind is buzzing, his toes are curling uncontrollably, his muscles are spasming—

Spent, he sags against the mattress, panting into her hair and Marinette is fairly sure she’s invested in the best alarm clock in the world.

“What time is it?” she wonders, rolling out of his grasp. He grumbles into the pillow at the loss of contact and rolls over onto his stomach to sulk, “Oh my god.”

“Hrrnn?”

Marinette leaps back to the other side of the bed and starts shaking him, “It’s 0625! Get up!”

Adrien resumes his groaning and Marinette rolls her eyes, dramatically flopping back onto the mattress, “Your dad will kill you if he finds out you’re not in your room.”

“Father?” Adrien opens one bleary eye, “He wouldn’t notice even if I painted my room pink and wore plaid.”

Marinette crosses her arms over her chest and huffs dramatically, “Fine. What about Nathalie?”

Adrien’s head shoots up from the pillow, “Shit.”

“That’s what I thought,” she smirks, sitting up on her side of the mattress, “Now get up!”

Adrien rolls onto his back, “But I can’t move,” he whines, his green eyes blinking dolefully. Grumbling, Marinette threatens to pick him up herself, an offer which he appears to consider for a moment before ultimately declining. Rolling her eyes, Marinette huffs and slides down the stairs towards the floor of her bedroom, tossing his pyjamas up at him.

“Get dressed before you get in trouble,” she orders him, pulling on her bathrobe from where she’d left it on her chaise. She marches over to the shoebox by her dresser and gently plucks the cat miraculous from the pile of fleeces, ignoring his petulant complaints as she tosses him up too.

“As M’Lady commands,” he replies, his voice muffled from what she hopes is his shirt going over his head. She’s suddenly nervous and she’s not sure why, hesitating at the stairs to her platform. He and Plagg are bickering under their breaths and she tries to focus on their voices, finally gathering enough courage to climb back up and send him off.

There’s a flash of chartreuse light just as her head pops up above the mattress and she blinks rapidly to chase the blindness away. She’s relieved to see him in his costume, kneeling with his hands stretched above him to fiddle with the lock on her trapdoor and Marinette doesn’t know how she’s going to face him at school in only a few hours time. Things were so much simpler when they still had their masks on, but if last night had taught her anything, it was that nothing worth having is ever easy.

He unlatches the lock and pushes the door open, “Adieu!”

Marinette waves, her voice momentarily lost as the sunlight glances off his hair and skin. He blows her a kiss and leaps from her mattress, disappearing from view and Marinette freezes, hesitating briefly before throwing caution to the wind and chasing after him.

“Adrien!”

Perched on the railing of her balcony, Adrien nearly wobbles off before steadying himself with his baton, “Marinette?”

Squaring her shoulders, Marinette closes the gap between them and kisses him, long and slow and deep and when she finally pulls away, his forehead falls against hers.

"See you at school?" she sounds uncertain and suddenly bashful, tucking a stray lock of hair behind her ear nervously as he eyes danced away from him.

Adrien frowns, “Yeah…why wouldn’t you?”

"I don't know," Marinette shakes her head, "I guess...it's all still weird and new. I just—"

Chat leans forward and slips a gloved hand around the back of her neck, tilting her head back up towards him. His clawed fingertips tangle in her hair as he presses his lips against hers, grinning all the while.

Marinette feels a flash of irritation at his amusement and she reaches out, yanking on his belt and pulling him so he’s flush against her. Deliberately, she rubs herself against him, her hands slipping around his back and sliding up on either side of his spine to cup his shoulders as she slants her mouth across his. Nipping at his bottom lip, she draws it between her teeth, suckling to soothe the ache before she brushes her tongue against his.

"Careful Princess," Adrien murmurs, "Keep this up and I won't want to leave."

Marinette rolls her eyes and plants her palms against his chest, “Get going!”

Adrien just pulls her closer, “I love you,” he murmurs hoarsely, leaning in close, his lips mere centimetres from her own. He feels her breathing hitch and she steps backwards, sliding out of his embrace.

“I…” her voice trails off and Adrien takes pity on her, leaning back against the railing as casually as he can.

“You don’t have to say it back you know,” he shrugs, his gloved hand finding the back of his neck, “I’ll see you at school Marinette.”

He turns to climb back onto the railing and catches her frowning out of the corner of her eye, the corners of her mouth turning down, “Is that a challenge?”

Adrien pauses, “A challenge? Wha—”

“I love you!” she blurts and her eyes grow wide, surprised and shocked and Adrien can’t help but feel like the wind has been knocked out of him. He swoops back around just as she launches herself at him, pressing their lips together and he slides his tongue into her mouth, walking her back across her roof to press her against the wall.

Marinette's heart suddenly leaps into her throat; the kiss is the same as any of the other hundred they’ve shared since beginning their relationship – the press of their lips, their hips, their hands, their tongues dancing and brushing as their arousal threatens to overwhelm them, and there has always been emotions between them – lust, trust, friendship, affection. Unrequited love, then the devastating uncertainty of their new love as it grew and blossomed. Anger, occasionally, and frustration, certainly. Hurt and forgiveness. Joy.

And yet now, somehow, there is so more than that, pinned against a wall, tender and reverent. He kisses her like he’s trying to commit every piece of her to memory and she’s just glad she’d managed to stay on her feet this long. Her knees begin to buckle as she laces her fingers with his, smiling against his lips.

“I love you.”

Adrien laughs, “I love you more.”

“Really?” she pulls back and smiles at him, squeezing his hands, “I never back away from a challenge.”

Adrien never doubts her for a moment.

Chapter Text

     30: Epilogue

"Did you know that it's been over two weeks?"

"Hmm?" Tikki's hums as her head emerges from a bed of purple asters, her lips nearly bursting with petals.

"Since the last akuma attack," Adrien continues, scrolling through his news feed as he lounges in the waning sunlight. It's still fairly mild outside despite the lateness of the month of May, Mother Nature having gifted them with a few weeks of reprieve after the hottest spring heat wave on record.

"Weally?" Tikki tries to speak between mouthfuls, bashfully catching the errant petals that keep falling from her lips, "Thas almosh a wecord!"

"Paris seems to think so too," he replies, rolling onto his stomach, "The Mayor even announced a parade!"

Tikki swallows the rest of the petals and begins to giggle, "Marinette will love that."

"She loved the last one," Adrien smirks, fondly remembering that particular fiasco, "What was that, a year ago?"

"At least," Tikki streaks over his head to attack a bush of hedge roses, "This garden is lovely, by the way."

"Thank you. I'm glad Marinette agreed to swap for the afternoon so you could come and see it," Adrien picks at a few blades of errant grass, "Plagg wouldn’t stop bugging me about visiting the bakery."

"She did offer to bake him a cheesecake," Tikki remarks from beneath the bush’s leaves, "How could you blame him?"

"I just hope he doesn't cause her too much trouble."

"He's smitten," Tikki assures him, "I wouldn't worry."

"Doesn't mean I won't," he mutters, checking his lock screen again, "How are the roses?"

"Delicious! You have so many beautiful varieties, I'm spoiled for choice!"

"I'm glad someone gets to enjoy them," Adrien drops his mobile on the grass and sits up, reclining against the bark of the oak tree, "I'm not even allowed out here half the time."

"Why not?" Tikki plucks one of the blossoms off the bush and settles on his knee, watching him curiously, "It's beautiful."

"Well, first of all, I could get a tan," he rolls his eyes and brushes his bangs from his forehead with a flick of his wrist, "and it's not like laying around in the garden is very productive. I should be practicing piano, or speaking Mandarin, or focusing on my best angles in the mirror or—"

He stops and takes a deep breath, "The only reason I'm out here is because Nathalie has been so busy doing whatever my father needs her to do that she hasn't noticed."

"I remember you mentioning that the other day," Tikki points out, nibbling of the outermost petal, "How are you holding up?"

Adrien shrugs, "I still can't believe the police were here, but at least they haven't been back. I don't even know why to be honest, no one will tell me anything."

"Didn't Plagg offer to investigate?"

"Plagg? Offer something?" Adrien laughs and shakes his head, "That'll be the day."

"I could go," Tikki suggests, "We aren't visible by camera."

Adrien waves her off, "No, I wouldn't ask you to do that. I know I'll figure it out eventually, but until Father leaves his office, I just have to wait."

"When was the last time you saw him?"

"Umm..." Adrien taps his chin, "Over a week ago? It was after his accident, so I went to ask if he was feeling better. He's been texting me but I haven't been called in for a lecture in a while, which is nice. "

Tikki purses her lips, "That's no way to treat you."

"I guess I'm just used to it. Being welcomed into Marinette's family, now that will take some getting used to."

"They're a lot of fun," Tikki beams, "Marinette is so lucky to have parents like hers."

"She certainly is," Adrien picks up his phone to check his notifications again, "I wonder how her and Plagg are holding up."

Tikki rolls her eyes fondly, "It's only been an hour. I'm sure she can take care of herself."

"It's Plagg," Adrien mutters, "It's no wonder I haven't heard the fire trucks yet."

"Is that why you were checking the news? To make sure he hadn't burned down the bakery?"

He shrugs sheepishly, "Well, that and I'm keeping tabs on the Agreste tag in case somebody posts something on why the police were questioning him. It's been three days so far and the press hasn't reported anything."

"Probably for the best," Tikki tosses the rest of the bloom into the air and swallows it whole, "The press can be very invasive."

"You're telling me," he grumbles, gathering his knees to his chest and wrapping his arms around them, "My face is plastered all across Paris."

Tikki lands on the crook of his elbow, sated for the meantime, "At least it's another quiet day. Enjoy it Adrien! Come on, show me where you're hiding the freesias."

The kwarmi's enthusiasm is contagious and Adrien can't help but be wooed by the way her tiny paws tug on the sleeves of his jacket, urging him onward. He smiles and pushes himself to his feet, fiddling with the borrowed black earrings turned cuff links resting at the hollow of his wrists.

"Are those lilac trees?" Tikki titters joyfully, vibrating through the air with excitement as they walk around a series of elaborately trimmed hedges. Adrien nods vehemently, thrilled by the joy of the kwarmi's face as she zooms in on the nearest tree, gorging herself anew with blossoms.

"Try to leave a few for the bees," he jokes, her body a blur in amongst the purple clad branches. He steps beneath them just to soak up their scent, heady and intoxicating and sumptuously sweet and they remind him of someone else he knows.

"Speak of the devil," he mutters to no one in particular, fishing his vibrating mobile from his back pocket. She's sent him a series of snaps, all of which include Marinette and Plagg in various stages of disarray and chaos as they attempt to bake a cheesecake.

"No fire and smoke yet I hope?" Tikki flutters in from somewhere up above him, sitting in his shoulder. Adrien chuckles and shakes his head, replaying the last video for Tikki. Marinette is staring at her phone sheepishly, holding a sodden Plagg up by the tail, his entire body dripping with cheese filling.

"Seems like they're enjoying themselves," Adrien remarks as Marinette drops him onto a dish towel, "I hope he's not shedding."

Tikki pulls a face, "I don't think I'll be taste testing that batch after all."

"Not if he's been swimming in it," Adrien agrees with a matching expression, slipping his phone back into his jeans, "Come on, there's more to this garden than just lilac trees."

"Adrien!"

Tikki zooms beneath the lapels of Adrien's collar as he spins around, his lips parting in surprise as one of his father's assistants rushes out from one of the many side doors, holding her skirt above the grass, "Mme. Dauney? What's the matter?"

She stops a few meters away and braces her hands on her knees, gulping for air "It's Monsieur!"

"Father?" Adrien hurries towards her, supporting her shoulders, "What happened?"

"He...wants...to...speak...with...you," Mme. Dauney finally manages to utter in between gasps, her bulging chest and stomach heaving with every breath. Adrien's eyes widen as the implications of what she's said dawns on him and he scoops her arm from where it's still braced against her kneecaps, guiding her towards the mansion.

"Did he say what he wanted?" Adrien tries to focus on his breathing rather than the terrified nest of butterflies exploding in his stomach, easing her through the threshold of the door before following her inside.

"He's very upset," Mme. Dauney nearly whimpers, having mostly caught her breathe, "I don't think I've ever seen M. Agreste so outraged."

"What did I do?" Adrien murmurs, continuing through the hallways. He can feel Tikki shift nervously from where she's nestled herself inside the inner breast pocket of his jacket, having slipped from his lapels.

"I'm not sure sir," Mme. Dauney replies, shaking her head anxiously, "He hasn't been himself in weeks."

"No? Adrien slows his pace ever so slightly, "I haven’t spoken to him since last Sunday. Is he mad at me?"

"Oh, he's very cross with everyone," Mme. Dauney babbles and Adrien has never been so happy to have been summoned by the house gossip in his life, "He's fired the entire jewellery production team! Oh, and then he fired three more employees in the past two days, if you can believe it, and he hasn't taken a single call from Gabriel headquarters. Mme. Sancoeur has been spending every waking moment in her private office doing the work of three assistants; she's even sleeping on the couch! He won't let the cleaning staff into his office either, goodness knows why because it is a mess in there. M. Majordom says that he hasn't been sleeping or eating much at all."

Adrien stalls at the doorway of the dining room, "Is he sick? Has anyone called the doctor?"

"Oh yes," Mme. Dauney continues, oblivious to Adrien's confusion, "Remember how he hit his head two weeks ago in the accident? We had to send for the doctor then because he wouldn't leave his office, you know how he is, and he was fine for a while, that is until the police showed up to speak with him. No one has been allowed into his office since, and he refuses to see Dr. Remède again."

"What about Nathalie? Has she seen him?"

"No, he won’t let her in either and she's always in there doing something or other, although I think he let M. Ledroit in yesterday."

"M. Ledroit? The lawyer?"

"Yes!" Mme. Dauney pats his hand gently, "He hasn't visited the mansion since your mother's disappearance, I'm astonished that you remembered!"

"You'd be surprised," Adrien mutters under his breath, "Was the lawyer here about the police?"

"I would assume so," Mme. Dauney peeks around the corner to make sure the coast is clear, "Only Mme. Sancoeur was there with him when they came. M. Majordom thinks it's because he's a person of interest in a case."

Adrien reels backwards, "A person of wha—"

"ADRIEN!!!"

"Oh no!" Mme. Dauney covers her mouth with her hands in horror, "That's him! Quickly! Oh, he's going to fire me next for taking so long, come on!"

The stout woman tugs on his elbow and Adrien is helpless to stop her as she drags him into the foyer. Gabriel stands at the threshold of the double doorway to his office, glowering at the two of them with a snarl on his face that Adrien hasn’t seen since his mother vanished nearly four years ago.

"Come. At once," Gabriel growls, his stance as menacing as his tone of voice as he gestures for Adrien to enter his office. Steeling himself, Adrien takes a deep shuddering breath before crossing the expanse and entering the room.

The door clicks shut ominously behind him.

Horrified, Adrien tries to absorb the chaos, the stacks and stacks of pristinely organised designs splattered across the floor, the designer chairs upturned and thrown haphazardly across the room. The shock must register on his face as he turns around to face his father, his heart pounding in his ribcage out of both astonishment and fear.

“Were you aware of my upcoming jewellery collection release?” Gabriel asks very softly, his voice a low murmur against the sound of Adrien’s blood rushing through his ears. He continues to glower from across the room as Adrien raises his hand towards his chest, rubbing the place where his Miraculous usually sits on his finger.

“I am...” Adrien takes a deep breath and tries to channel some of the strategies he’d learned in acting class, desperate to keep his cool in the wake of whatever lecture his father was planning, “Is it the wedding band collection that was shot in Trocadéro a few weeks ago?"

If this was about the ring he'd asked Plagg to steal out of his father's office...oh no...

"Precisely," Gabriel replies, his lips curling with discontent, "And someone stole one of the prototypes from my office."

"I..." Adrien swallows uncomfortably, "Do you need help finding it?"

Gabriel doesn't acknowledge his offer as he begins to pace across the room, "Someone stole my design from under my nose and used it against me! No one can be trusted in this house, let alone this company!"

“It’s got to be here somewhere,” Adrien suggests, taking a few wary steps backwards, “Things don’t just go missing…”

“I’ve fired the entire production team but it could have been anyone!” he hisses and Adrien tries not to react as his father’s nostrils flare with indignation, “I tried to narrow it down but it’s been impossible without alerting the police to my actions. After three years of trying to hunt them and they could have been working for me all along!” Gabriel grabs the nearest item to him and throws it across the room, howling in outrage.

Adrien straightens from where he’d instinctively cowered behind a chair, “If you can tell me what it looks like, maybe I can help you find it?”

Gabriel shoots him a withering glance, “It was a replica of the Cat Miraculous. There was only one produced due to the lengthy process required to create it but it has already been found. It was returned to me in secret, likely as a threat, and I do not suffer employees that try and threaten me!”

“It was returned?” Adrien’s eyes grow wide, “How?”

“It doesn’t matter,” Gabriel waves his hand dismissively, “But I’ve already made my decision. We’re leaving.”

“WHAT?!”

Gabriel rolls his eyes in disdain, stepping around one of the upturned designer chairs with an air of patronising superiority, “Control yourself Adrien. You’d think you would have grown out of your penchant for emotional outbursts by now.”

“But—"

“Gather your things immediately. We’re leaving Paris in three hours.”

“W—what?” Adrien’s jaw drops, his stomach sinking in terror. He stumbles backwards over a pile of designs and Gabriel takes the opportunity to swoop in on him, towering over his son’s stunned body.

“Everything will be explained to you at a later time,” Gabriel’s voice is clipped and dismissive, his usually perfectly coiffed hair completely askew, “Now, give me your mobile and return to your room immediately to prepare.”

“But Father—”

“Do NOT disobey me,” he snarls, backing Adrien up until his back brushes against his father’s standing desk, “Or you will come to regret it. Don’t make things any more difficult than they already are.”

“But Father—”

“ENOUGH!” Gabriel raises his voice and Adrien winces away instinctively, his words impaling him like a knife, “If you do not obey me immediately, I will pull you from school. I will pull you from fencing. I will pull you from any and all extracurricular activities that do not include working for my company. Do you understand?”

Adrien stops breathing and somehow unfreezes long enough to nod on instinct, forcing his eyes to look somewhere else, anywhere else because oh my god, holy shit—

No. No.

Adrien grips the edge of the desk for a moment and watches as his father spins around on his heels, stomping towards the foyer. In a moment of pure desperation, Adrien glances wildly around him, desperate for something, anything to protect him in this moment and comes up despairingly short.

“Please…” Adrien tries to take a deep breath and it feels like he’s being strangled, “Can I…can I ask one question?”

Gabriel’s expression shifts briefly, his eyebrows rising ever so slightly, “If you must.”

“Why were the police here?” Adrien asks, his lips falling numb as the blood drains from his face, “Was it about the missing ring?”

“Of course,” Gabriel responds, tilting his head to the side like a curious child, “Why else would they visit?”

“Oh…okay, “Adrien nods again, "Can I...go now?"

"Immediately," Gabriel steps back, gesturing to the door with a stern sweep of his arm. Adrien shrinks away and runs as fast as he can from his father, his...

Adrien scampers up the stairs and slams his door shut, closing his eyes against the barrage of information. How could the ring, the same ring he’d seen in his father’s office, the same ring that looked so similar to his own, the same ring who he’d bribed Plagg into stealing with the offer of an entire wheel of camembert…

How did his father get it back?

"Adrien?” Tikki nuzzles her nose against his cheek, “When is your birthday?"

Opening his eyes, he takes a shallow, ragged breath, "September."

"Do you have any other family?"

"No. Why?"

"I…I think I know why the police were here."

Turning, Adrien follows the kwarmi’s gaze towards the newsfeed splayed across the three monitors of his computer set-up across the room, plastered with his father’s ever frowning face. He’s got it on mute, but the subtitles are as clear as day, rolling across the bottom of the synchronised screens like a tidal wave threatening to swallow him whole—

‘BREAKING NEWS: Parisian Designer Gabriel Agreste Declared Person of Interest in Murder atop Eiffel Tower after leaked reports of a DNA match confirm...’

“No no no no nononono,” Adrien fights the urge to vomit and digs the heels of his palms into his eyes, "This is…this…"

The butterfly motifs, the Miraculous book, the trips to Tibet…

No. Nonononono

He loves his father and he would never do this.

Nononononono

And yet…

My father is not Le Papillon.

How could he have not noticed before?

And he had noticed, of course, Ladybug had been the one to put two and two together but somehow his father had become akumatised that one time and...oh my god, had he…had he akumatised himself? What?

My father is not Le Papillon.

And how many times had he put Chat Noir's life, no, how many times had he put Adrien's life, his own son’s life, in danger? How many times had he been targeted by an akuma as his civilian self, with Kagami, with the Gorilla, with Nathalie, with his classmates, even with Nino…

Had he…had he done it all on purpose?

My father cannot be Le Papillon.

Had he put his son’s life in danger just to suss out Ladybug and Chat Noir?

Had he…

He'd...

“Adrien? Adrien!” Tikki begins to fidget, tugging on his lapels desperately, “We need to warn Marinette! And Plagg! We need to tell them what’s going on!”

"How?" Adrien cries, tugging his hair, "Father has my phone!"

The doorbell chimes and they both tense, staring at one another in horror.

“This is bad, this is bad, this is bad.”

“Adrien!”

He starts to pace around his room, alternating between hugging his arms against his chest and burying his face in his palms, “He’s going to, he’s, oh my god, he’s going to figure it out and then—"

“Adrien!”

His chest rises and falls rapidly, his pace increasing, “He can’t be, he can’t actually be him and this is not happening, this is not happening, this is a dream and I’m going to wake up, I’m going to—”

“ADRIEN!”

He stops mid stride and turns, gaping at her like stunned fish, “What?”

"We need to leave. Now."

He shakes the cobwebs from his mind and wrings his hands together painfully, "I can't without Plagg! Do you think I’m going to be able to just, what, just waltz out the door and run away? He’ll kill me!”

"Think Adrien, think for just a second,” Tikki hovers in front of him and tries to school her features as best she can, “I need you to focus. Remember what I say to you when Marinette lost her senses?”

Adrien shakes his head and grasps fistfuls of his hair, “No. No. I am freaking out right now and—”

“Have faith in yourself Adrien,” she whispers soothingly, desperate to get him to focus, “Marinette has never needed you to be the best version of yourself more than right now. Think. Think.”

Adrien tries to think, tries to dull the sound of his heartbeat thrashing in his chest like he’s just scampered across Paris proper twice over, tries to make his lungs calm down and actually take in oxygen because he feels like he’s drowning and it’s starting to hurt and if only he could just get out of his cage and try and fix this and—

Oh.

"Ohhh."

Tikki sags in relief and flutters down, pulling on the index finger of his right hand until he gets the hint and helps her lift it. She sits in his upturned palm and smiles encouragingly, patting his thumb with her tiny paw, “Are you ready?”

“No.”

“You can do this Adrien,” she implores, her blue eyes sparkling in the sun’s afternoon glow, “I believe in you.”

He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath, focusing on Marinette in his mind. If he can do this, if he can keep her safe and warn her about what’s happening, maybe he can prove his father’s innocence too.

“I’m ready,” he steels himself and the Miraculous of good fortune grins, leaping back into the air.

“Tikki, transforme-moi!”

Masquerade's Sequel - Cumming 2018 (Now Posted!)

Chapter Text

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