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Stress Relief

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Chat was starting to get worried.

He hadn't heard from Ladybug since the Akuma attack earlier in the day. This wasn't unusual in and of itself; they rarely spoke, outside of patrols, scheduling, and the occasional Akuma fight. What WAS unusual was that she hadn't messaged him to cancel patrol, and yet, thirty minutes late, and no Ladybug to be found. She was NEVER this late.

He slid open the screen on his baton on the off-chance that he'd missed a call or a message or SOMETHING, but nothing showed up. He slid it closed again and hooked it onto his belt, then looked up, sniffing the air. It was probably nothing, and maybe she'd meet him on patrol.

Thirty minutes later, once he finished his patrol, he began to get REALLY worried.

He messaged her again, tried another call, but still no answer. It didn't go straight to voicemail, so he was still getting her phone, but... she wasn't picking up. Was she okay? Could she reach her phone? Had she left it somewhere?

He couldn't shake the niggling feeling in the back of his head--just at the nape of his neck--that something was wrong. That she hadn't cancelled because she COULDNT cancel, that something...

Fuck. His Lady needed him.

He was moving before the thought had even finished, before he even realized that he'd decided to jump.

He made his way back to where the Akuma attack had finished. She'd been in a hurry, her Miraculous almost out of time, and had vanished onto a nearby rooftop. That was the last he'd seen of her, and that seemed like as good a place as any to start.

He arrived at the rooftop where he'd last seen her retreating form, bold and strong and beautiful, as she zipped off into the afternoon. He landed in absolute silence, like his namesake, his eyes scanning over the rooftop... before locking on to a small, female form lying on her side just below him.

And she was SQUIRMING.

In a most distracting manner.

Chat took a moment to compose himself as he stared down at the girl, attempting to ignore the rush of heat to his face or the rush of pressure to the front of his pants. He dropped down next to the girl, who was dressed in soft flannel pajamas... and something else very, very unexpected. Her wrists were handcuffed behind her back, linked by a short length of chain to another pair of handcuffs locked around her ankles. Her head came up, briefly, and she gasped (quite enticingly, he thought, before slapping down that part of him. Bad brain.) as she saw his face. "C-Chat?" she mumbled, her mouth forming into an O as the breath rushed out of her.

Chat stood there, completely gobsmacked, as he stared at her lying helpless on the roof.

"Marinette?"

He knelt down, taking in the bonds that held her tight against her own body. "Who did this to you?"

She bit her lip, looking down at the shingles of the ceiling below, her face redder than he'd ever seen it--quite a feat, for her. "Um," she stammered, pointedly looking away. "I did."

"On a random rooftop in the middle of Paris?" Chat replied, averting his gaze. Don't look don't look don't look, he thought, but no matter what he told himself, his eyes kept flicking back to the body of his classmate, who he couldn't help noticing was looking cuter than he'd ever seen and STOP THAT BRAIN THIS IS NOT THE TIME!

"Can you just--Ah!" She bucked suddenly, and Chat realized that he could hear a slight buzzing coming from... oh dear. He could smell it, too, hot and sticky need overpowering her usual delicious scent of cinnamon and yeast. "Can you get me home, please?"

"Oh, yeah, sure!" Chat said, his usually clever mind short-circuited by the assault on his senses from the girl in front of him. He gathered her up between his arms. "How did... how did you even get up here?" he asked, trying to distract himself from how suddenly VERY CLOSE and WARM she was through logistical questions. It was, after all, something that needed solving.

She huffed, or at least tried to, but was cut off as another buck and another intake of breath wracked her tiny frame. "Chat, *please*," she mewled. "Get me hooooome..." She shuddered, her eyes squeezing shut, her breath coming out in panting huffs.

"Oh, shit," Chat said. He wasn't sure what was happening, but it seemed not good. Was this an aftereffect of the Akuma, something that the Miraculous Cure hadn't taken care of? How had she gotten hit? Had she even been in the area?

His mind spinning, he launched himself towards the Dupain-Cheng Boulangerie & Patisserie, carrying in his arms the most precious cargo he'd ever held.

***

Chat landed on her bed as lightly as he could with Marinette still in his arms. "Keys," she gasped. "On my desk."

He laid her out gently on the bed, then leaped down towards the desk, snatched her keys, and flung himself back up the ladder. He unlocked her her wrists first, and she immediately reached into her pants, pulled out a small, buzzing object, and flung it across the room. It hit the wall with a wet thwack.

Chat unlocked her ankles. "How long were you out there?" he asked.

"Hours," Marinette said, rubbing her wrists. "I'm... I don't feel so good. I'm... I'm cold, Chat."

Chat gritted his teeth. "You're probably dehydrated," he said. "Do you have orange juice downstairs?"

She nodded.

He wrapped her in blankets as best he could, then raced down into the kitchen--and bumped face-first into the massive chest of Tom Dupain-Cheng.

"Oh, sorry, sir," he said on reflex, before looking up to see the man's wet red eyes.

"Chat Noir!" he gasped. "Did you find her? Did you find my little girl?"