Chapter 1: Library
Calm Before The Test
"Is right now too early to have a breakdown? Asking for a friend,” Felix said. His head was on the library table and he didn't even look up as he heard Nino approach. Midterms were kicking his ass, as well as the asses of everyone in class.
"It's Monday," Nino said, dropping his bag on the table and slumping against it, using it as a very uncomfortable pillow.
"So, too early?"
"No, I was going to say that anyone who hasn't had one yet has me impressed."
"I saw Rose crying before homeroom even started," Felix said. He slid his travel mug of coffee over to Nino.
"Are you... offering me some of your coffee?" Nino didn't touch the cup, in case his interpretation was wrong.
"You look as tired as I feel," Felix still hadn't even looked at him, so that was an interesting claim.
"...Is it poisoned?"
"Yes. There's a lethal dose of caffeine in there. I've spent years building up an immunity."
Nino took the cup, still waiting for the other shoe to drop. Felix simply adjusted his arms under his head and closed his eyes. Nino took a sip.
"That's disgusting," he said, putting the over-sugared coffee back on the table. "You probably aren't actually tired, you're probably falling into a sugar coma."
"That's a distinct possibility," Felix mumbled, half asleep in the sunlight from the window behind him.
"I had you down as a black coffee, dark, bitter roast guy," Nino said, picking the cup up for another sip.
"I give off that aura, yes," Felix said. His words were starting to slur.
"Are you seriously falling asleep?"
Nino looked at the boy in front of him. Felix was curled over the table, his breathing starting to even out. His face was relaxed and the sunlight made his hair glow. His tie was loosened and it looked like his shirt was mis-buttoned. There was a coffee stain on his right sleeve and one sock was dark blue, the other dark green. The great Felix Agreste was a little bit of a mess in that moment, and he had never looked cuter.
The thought took Nino by surprise so he decided to focus on midterms again.
"Want me to wake you up in a half hour so you have time to get some cramming in before the test?"
Nino finished Felix's coffee.
Chapter 2: Family
Nino takes pity on his grumpy classmate.
Those were the two words Nino said to Felix most often. He considered it a standard greeting these days.
“Left early.” Felix reached in his bag for the book he was reading only to remember for the twelfth time that day that he had forgotten it at home. He had resorted to doodling in between his notes during classes without the distraction of his current novel. He sighed in irritation and Nino crossed his arms. Oops. Offended the Nice Kid again. Nino probably thought Felix was sighing at him. Oh well. He was pretty sure Nino's opinion of him was already set in stone.
“We might as well walk together,” Nino said.
Gabriel had lightened his choke hold on the twin's freedom and they were allowed to walk home a few times a week. Nino's house was past theirs by a few blocks, and it wasn't the most direct route for Nino, but Nino and Adrien would take any time they could get together.
"Of course," Felix said. They headed for the door in silence. It was a sunny, early spring day with a bit too much wind to be comfortable, but a nice day all the same.
"I've gotta say, part of why I said we should walk together is because I thought you'd try to read while walking and accidentally step into traffic or fall down an uncovered sewer access hole," Nino said after a couple blocks. "Where's the book?"
"I forgot it at home," he said. "I've been in an awful mood all day because of it." He glanced at Nino and jumped in before he could say anything. "Don't say 'I couldn't tell', it's beneath you."
"I was going to say that I could tell," Nino said with a smirk, glancing from the crosswalk signal to Felix for just a moment before returning his attention to the signal.
A block later, Nino asked, "Was it just the book? I mean, like I said, I could tell something was off, so I figured it was bigger than that. So I was just... wondering..."
"It doesn't matter," Felix said. "The book was the straw that broke the camel's back."
They reached the mansion and Nino kept walking, giving a quick goodbye and a wave. Felix looked up at the cold iron gates and made a split second decision. He caught up to Nino and kept walking.
"Uh, where you going, dude?" Nino asked when Felix appeared at his side again.
"There's nothing this way," Nino said. It was a residential area.
"Okay, now I know you're lying," Nino said, coming to a stop in the middle of the sidewalk. "What's up?"
"Nothing. We just happen to be going in the same direction. It's not a big deal. I can wait a few moments, give you a head start if walking and talking at the same time is too much for you." Felix was aware that he got mean when defensive, but he hadn't found a way to make it stop yet.
"That's not what I meant and you know it," Nino said, crossing his arms. "Something's up with you, has been all day. Just spill."
"Why do you care?"
"Because that's what normal people do? If me caring is that uncool to you, hurry up and tell me what's wrong and I'll be on my way."
Felix rolled his eyes and kept walking down the street, leaving Nino behind. He wasn't sure what his goal was in doing so, seeing as Nino had to head the same way to get to his house, but again, he made a decision and stuck to it.
"You have until I reach my house to tell me what's wrong," Nino said. He had grown a few inches taller than Felix and had less trouble catching up to Felix than Felix had had catching up to Nino a minute before.
"And then what?”
"And then I get annoyed that we walked all that way and you said nothing."
They were quiet a few minutes more until Felix blurted out, “Have you ever had a miserable time, like stuck at school with a cold and the teacher won’t let you call your parents, or traveling to visit relatives you hate and you have a headache from your little cousins screaming? And you’re tired and your thoughts are jumbled, but in all that mess, you have one clear thought, ‘I just want to go home’?”
Nino glanced at Felix out of the corner of his eye. He had hunched in on himself and pulled his sleeves further down his hands, eyes down on the sidewalk. The grimace on his face made Nino think that maybe Felix hadn’t meant to speak at all.
“Yeah. Yeah, I think everyone’s felt that way before.” He didn’t ask what that had to do with Felix following him. He was worried that being too direct would spook Felix.
“Have you ever felt that while in your own house?”
Nino shook his head. “I haven’t.”
“All I want is to go home,” Felix said. “But that place isn’t home. Especially since Adrien’s gone until tomorrow.”
“So you’re wandering the streets of Paris instead?”
“I figured I’d walk around a little, find a cafe, get homework done…”
Nino stopped in front of his house and looked Felix over again. Felix was telling the truth, but there was something he was leaving out. It took a minute, but it finally clicked for Nino. Felix wasn’t just wandering at random. He could have gone in the other direction, crossed the street, stopped in and grabbed that book he left home. Instead, Felix had followed him. He was lonely.
"C'mon, dude," he said, grabbing Felix's wrist and tugging him up the steps to the front door. "It's not your home, but I'm sure a home cooked meal will get that feeling to calm down some."
"Technically, all my meals at home are home cooked by a chef," Felix said, putting up very little resistance as he was dragged into the house and directed on where to put his shoes.
"Yeah, not the same," Nino said. "Mom?" he called down the hall. "I brought Felix home. We're gonna do homework and then we'll help with dinner when you start it."
"And what makes you think I'll let you choose everything we do?" Felix asked.
"Oh, I'm sorry, would you like to play video games or watch reality TV?" Nino snarked as he pulled Felix to the couch.
"While I'm here, I was hoping, if you want, that you could show me some of the music you're working on."
"Uh, yeah," Nino said. He couldn't be more surprised if Felix had admitted to liking bad horror movies. "Yeah, we can do that."
A few hours later, Nino found out that Felix did not, in fact, like bad horror movies, but he was a fan of spy movies and the occasional rom-com. They put on a classic Bond-style action movie and worked on their homework until Nathalie called Felix demanding to know where he had been all day. A car was sent for him and the boys waited for it on the porch.
"Thank you," Felix said. "I had a nice time."
"Any time," Nino said. "Seriously, you heard my mom at dinner, she loves when I bring people home to compliment her food."
When Felix entered his room that night, he wasn't sure if it was better or worse that his feeling of "I want to go home" now came with a clear place, and a face to represent that feeling of "home".
Chapter 3: First Date
Nino and Felix have a nice dinner together, walk through the park talking about their hopes and dreams, and then go back to Felix's apartment where Marinette says something that shocks them both.
This chapter is dedicated to my spouse-human. He helped come up with the idea for this chapter. We also had the weirdest first date ever. And I just plain like him.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"Stop that," Felix said. There was no bite to his voice so Nino ignored him.
"I got your tie in that shot," Nino said, working on getting a new camera angle to capture the beautiful dinner and table setting before him. He glanced up at the smile Felix was suppressing. Oh yes, overall, a very nice sight in front of him.
"I don't even like this tie. Delete that one," Felix said.
"You don't?" Nino asked, taking one more picture that most definitely included Felix's tie again. "It's a good color on you."
"Really?" Felix asked, running a hand over the tie. He hoped that if his face was as red as it felt that Nino would blame the excessive heat in the restaurant.
"Yeah. You look nice tonight."
"I showed up in my work clothes."
Nino shrugged. "You still look nice."
Felix managed to stutter out a "thank you" just as their waiter came to check on them. By the time they were alone again Felix felt less flustered. Felix usually felt like he did a good job of acting normal around Nino, but every now and then Nino said something like that and it felt like the world was thrown off its axis for a few minutes. Felix Agreste had it bad for Nino and there seemed to be nothing he could do about it.
"So how's that new work project coming?" Nino asked. "Will this be the app that gets you the investment money to start your dance school?"
"I seriously doubt it," Felix said. He went on to explain what the app did and why he didn’t give it a high expectation of success. Nino didn’t understand all of it, but Felix had gotten better at figuring out when he was leaving Nino behind and explaining better. It was a far cry from a few months ago when Felix would alternate between giving the shortest, vaguest answers possible and rambling at length about something Nino had never heard of before.
“Enough about that,” Felix said after a minute. “How’s the club?”
“Not all that interesting,” Nino said. “I got new headphones. I learned how to repair one of the stage lights. One of the regular bartenders got into a screaming match with his manager and quit.”
“That sounds interesting. It wasn’t the tall, skinny man with the eyes that-”
“-that look like they’re staring into your very soul?” Nino finished. “Yeah, him.”
“I’m not surprised.”
They chatted a bit more about work before moving on to family, and then onto books they had been reading and the play that Nino had dragged Adrien and Marinette to see the week before. Before too long they were walking in the crisp fall air through the nearby park.
“So, is DJing it for you?” Felix asked, taking in the color of the leaves and the smell of autumn and the wet squelch of his shoes on the damp leaves covering the path. “I know it’s been your goal for years, but I always got the feeling you didn’t think of it as long term once you achieved your goal.”
“You’re right,” Nino said. “I figure I can only keep this schedule up for another year or two before I’m craving a more normal sleep cycle and less deafening work environment.”
“Do you have plans for when that time comes?”
“I haven’t told anyone yet but I’m considering book editing. I’ve been taking those night classes I mentioned? And I’ve already been asked to work as a tutor for the literature department. I really like reading, and I really like helping people troubleshoot the stuff they’re working on. I know it’s not necessarily the easiest line of work to get into, but… I dunno, it excites me.”
“I think you’d be great at it,” Felix said. “Why haven’t you told anyone?”
“Most people think that since I was so set on DJing from such a young age, it’s the only thing I should want to do. I guess I’m just expecting a lot of judgement for it.”
“Anyone unwilling to support you in whatever you decide is important to you is unworthy of your time and attention.”
“Has that been your philosophy with the dance school thing?” Nino asked, taking on a teasing tone. “Every time someone says something negative about it, they become unworthy?”
“The comment that irritates me most is when someone questions my ability to work with children. I love children. They’re honest and have had less time to develop ridiculous assumptions. I am Nath and Chloe’s on-call babysitter, I’ll have you know.”
“To be fair, I think when they started dating, I remember them telling you that you became automatic godfather of their children because you set them up in the first place, so the on-call babysitter thing doesn’t surprise me in the least.”
As they wandered the paths they continued to talk about the future. Felix's dance school plans, what Nino would probably miss about DJing when he left. Eventually ended up at the unofficial halfway point between their apartments.
"Would you like to come back with me?" Felix asked. "Marinette is out, possibly for the rest of the night. I have that book I was telling you about, if you'd like to borrow it."
Nino shoved his hands in his pockets to try and cover how flustered he felt. It was a simple question. He had hung out with Felix alone in his apartment tons of times. What made this time different?
"Yeah, sounds good."
There! Simple, to the point, no worries!
And then he tripped and almost fell on his face.
"Alright there?" Felix asked, grabbing Nino's arm as he stabilized.
"Fine!" Nino said, becoming much too aware of every point of contact between Felix's hand and his arm. How were his hands so warm in this weather? "Just channeling Marinette, I guess."
"I get enough of her," Felix said, throwing an arm around Nino's shoulders. "She's a great roommate when she's deep in a project or rage-cleaning, but I could do with fewer anxiety spiral rants and broken dishes."
Nino stopped and turned to look at Felix without dislodging the arm holding him close.
"What are you doing?"
"Complaining about Marinette? She's aware of these issues, I'm not talking about her behind her back or anything. And she's made clear to me what parts of living with me are less than-"
"Dude. Your arm. You're voluntarily touching me."
Felix tried to pull away, but Nino wrapped an arm around his back and held him in place.
"You act like I've never showed you the slightest affection before," Felix said, relaxing just a bit as they continued walking.
"You definitely haven't. I'd have remembered that." Wait, did that give too much away?
Whether he had or not, Felix let that comment go as they entered his apartment building and he fished out his keys.
“Whatever happened to that cello thing you were working on?” Felix asked as he unlocked his front door.
Nino laughed. “I had forgotten about that one. I swear, you remember my projects better than I do.” He pulled out his phone as he kicked off his shoes and brought up the recording. “I actually finished it, but by the time I was done with it I hated it.” He hit play and cello music filled the apartment.
"It's missing something," Felix said as he cleared Marinette's things from the couch. "Something to drink?"
They settled on the couch, the book Felix had offered to loan Nino forgotten as they tried to figure out what was missing from the cello recording. It was nice, but Felix found himself a little too preoccupied with the way Nino's glasses moved when he scrunched his nose and how he would mime the motions to play certain parts of the cello piece and how soft his lips looked and how Nino's eyes would linger on his own face at times. He wasn't much help, but he didn't much care so long as Nino didn't look like he was planning to leave any time soon.
The front door banged open and they heard Marinette swear as she shut the door as quietly as possible. When she reached the living room she waved and gathered up the things Felix had moved off the couch.
"How was your date?" Marinette asked. "I saw the pictures of your dinner. Felix, I can't believe you didn't say anything beforehand! You were so calm before you left, you're usually a mess before dates."
Nino was vaguely aware of his glass slipping from his hand and shattering on the floor, but seeing as he couldn't feel his fingers, it didn't really surprise him.
"I thought you were doing something with Adrien tonight," Felix said, jumping up to get a towel for the water and a broom for the glass shards.
"I did, but he has an early morning flight to the next filming site. I didn't know you guys were coming back here, so I'll just disappear into my room and you two pretend I'm not even here, okay?" She grinned at them. "I'm so glad this finally happened. I love you both, but if I had to listen to either of you pining after the other for another minute I was going to lose my mind. Have a good night!"
Felix gathered up the remains of Nino's glass and swept until he was sure all the fragments were gone. With mechanical movements he returned the broom to the cupboard and sat back down next to Nino.
"Did I miss something?" Felix whispered. "Did I completely miss something?"
"Was that a date?" Nino asked. He turned to Felix suddenly. "Wait, did you want it to be a date? Which of us came up with the idea of dinner?"
"Oh, I've moved on from the fact that neither of us realized we pretty much just went on a date," Felix said, still facing forward. "Marinette said that we both were pining."
Nino covered his face with his hands and sighed. "And she didn't think to tell either of us?" He looked at Felix again. "After all the drama she and Adrien went through?"
"They at least had secret identities preventing them from figuring it out," Felix said, turning to Nino with a self deprecating smile. "It turns out I was doing a better job hiding my feelings for you than I thought."
"So, just to confirm," Nino said, feeling his face heat up, "you have feelings to hide in the first place?"
"Nino," Felix slid a little closer on the couch. "That was the best first date I've ever had, and not just because I didn't know it was a date and therefore couldn't self-sabotage myself from nerves."
"That doesn't answer my question."
"Then let me know if this does," Felix whispered, leaning in to kiss Nino. He intended it to be a quick kiss to gauge Nino's interest. He didn't expect Nino to respond immediately, putting one hand on Felix's knee and the other cradling the back of his head. They kissed until they were breathless and Nino pulled away.
"I guess that answers my question," Nino said.
"I would hope so," Felix said, letting his eyes map every feature of the face before him.
"Can I retroactively ask you out, making tonight our first date?" Nino asked.
"I don't think it works like that," Felix said. He looked around the room, thinking for a moment. "But if you want, I could put on a movie, and the rest of the night could be our first date?"
This time when Nino said, "Yeah, sounds good," the stakes were higher but he had never felt less nervous.
When Marinette found Nino and Felix asleep and cuddling on the couch a few hours later, she covered them with a blanket, turned off the looping DVD menu, and texted Adrien that her plan to pretend she thought they had been on a date had worked perfectly.
Talk with me over at cheeseeatingtrashmonster.tumblr.com. Ask about that "first date with spouse-human" story, if you dare ;)
Chapter 4: Miraculous
So this is actually an excerpt of a fic I’ve been working on for a few months. It’s missing a few scenes and needs a little cleanup, but I’m hoping to get the rest done soon and post it. But I looked at the prompt for today and no matter what I tried, I just kept coming back to this universe, so I figured I’d give this preview.
A little background on this universe: A few months before Emilie Agreste goes missing, Felix receives the Black Cat Miraculous because Fu feels like something big is coming. Felix is the only hero for a little while, and stays in the shadows so no one knows he’s there until the events of Origins when Ladybug joins the hero scene. After a few months in school, things are too much for Felix to handle alone and Plagg splits his Miraculous into two, giving one to Adrien. Something went wrong during the splitting process and Felix’s ring is stuck on him. Only one Chat Noir can be active at a time, so everyone who isn’t part of the hero team thinks there’s only one Chat Noir. Carapace joined the team about a year before the events here, where everyone is in their last year of high school. Ladybug and Adrien’s Chat Noir are dating.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Take Me Home
“I want to quit. I don’t want to be a soldier anymore.”
Carapace looked stunned for a moment, then angry. "The city needs you. The team needs you. You can't just leave."
"I can't keep doing this anymore," Chat Noir said, shoulders hunching forward, a contrast to his usual confident, exaggerated posture. "The battles keep getting worse, the choices we make are too hard."
"That just means you're needed even more."
Chat shook his head. "It means I shouldn't be the one making the decisions."
"That's so selfish, dude," Carapace said, crossing his arms. Chat flinched as if the words stung. "I can't believe you. So what, you just quit?"
"Yeah," the cat's voice was getting quieter with every word until Carapace was forced to lip read. "You guys'll be better off without me."
Carapace opened his mouth to snap at him, but seeing his partner flinch again made him pause. He took a good look at Chat Noir. Usually his partner stood tall, grinned wide enough that his teeth glinted in the moonlight, nearly bounced with restless energy when forced to stand still for too long. The Chat Noir in front of him was still. He had his arms wrapped around his middle, curling in on himself as if to look smaller. There was no grin, or smirk, or even sneer. What little he could see of his face around his mask looked pale, drawn, exhausted.
"You're not okay, are you?" Carapace asked, letting his own arms drop to his sides.
"I'm not okay," Chat agreed, letting his eyes close and a tear drip down his mask.
Strong arms pulled Chat Noir into the shadow of Carapace’s shell and hood, gentle pressure keeping him there and providing the first feeling of safety he'd had in days.
"I trust you," Carapace said. "Whatever you say you need right now, I trust you. You need to quit, you do it. You need a vacation, go for it. You need to punch me for what I just said a minute ago, I'll take the shell off so you don't hurt your hand. So, Cat Man, what do you need?"
Chat Noir freed his arms from where they were trapped between them to get an awkward hold on Carapace's neck, bumping his hands into the top of the shell before settling.
"I can't go home and I don't want to be alone," he said. "Can I go home with you?"
“Yeah. Yeah, I can make that work.” He hesitated, running a hand up and down Chat’s back. “You know that means at least my identity needs to be revealed, right? And I don't know how long you could hide yours. I don't know if your kwami can keep up your transformation all night.”
“I'll reveal when we get there,” Chat said, pulling away and running his hand over his face, clearing away the tears he couldn't stop. “I'll explain when we get there, too. I just… I need to be somewhere safe for a bit.”
Carapace squeezed Chat’s shoulder and nodded. “Are you willing to travel by shell, or do we have to take the long way?”
“I hate that thing.”
“I won't let you fall.” He took off his shell and set it on the ground. He stepped on it and held out his hand.
“Just take me home,” Chat whispered. He took Carapace's hand and stood on the shell behind him. Carapace turned to face forward, latched Chat's hands around his waist, and felt Chat bury his face into the back of his suit. Carapace loved the feeling of flying through the city on his own personal hoverboard. This flight, however, he was more focused on the fact that he could feel every sob from Chat Noir.
They landed on the roof of an apartment building. Chat didn't move until Carapace pulled his arms apart and stepped to the ground.
“I usually detransform before going inside,” Carapace said, nodding towards the roof access door. “I'm really nervous. Literally no one knows who I am.”
“It's okay,” Chat said. “The other Chat is the only one who knows who I am. Though I won't be surprised if, when Ladybug and he reveal to each other, she figures out who I am.”
“We're stalling, aren't we?” Carapace said, shaking his head with a smile. “I'll go first, if that will help?”
Chat Noir nodded, his arms crossing over himself again. Light flashed.
Nino. Nino Lahiffe stood in front of him.
Nino hated him. Nino had every right to hate him. He shouldn't burden this good, kind person with what he knew, with having to keep him safe. Carapace had signed on for the hero thing. Nino Lahiffe had not.
“I can't do this,” he whispered, backing towards the edge of the roof. He would go home, pretend he was fine, find another way.
“Woah, wait, stop.” Nino's hand clamped down on Chat Noir’s wrist. “Why not, dude? Is it me?”
Chat shook his head. “I should go.”
“The only thing that changed is you know who I am now. Do we know each other?”
Chat knew Nino could feel that he was trembling. What could he possibly say?
“If I show you who I am, you'll hate me.”
Nino tugged on his wrist and he found himself not resisting in the slightest, leaning in when Nino brought him into a tight hug.
“You know I have, like, an embarrassing, puppy dog crush on you, right? You could be Chloe Bourgeois and I'd still see you as the amazing dude who saves my butt six times a week. Or, dudette.”
They stood on the edge of the roof, one superhero and one boy dressed in cat ears and a tail. When Chat pulled away from Nino and turned to face away he wasn't sure if he was about to run or detransform until he saw the light flash.
The silence made Felix feel like each bone in his body had turned to lead. He couldn't turn around.
“I promise that I have popcorn and hot chocolate inside.” A warm hand slid into Felix's.
“What about coffee?” He turned to see a smile he didn't deserve.
“Yeah, you're literally shaking, dude. No coffee.”
“You're such a mom friend.” He was shaking, yes, but also grinning ear to ear.
“Speaking of moms,” Nino said. “I can hide you from my family if we really need to, but maybe you should let them know you're here. You said... you said you don't want to go home, but it seems like... maybe you're scared?"
Felix's eyes slammed shut. "I'm terrified. I can't go home."
"You're almost eighteen. Maybe... you can just stay with us? My mom would know better."
"Not... not yet." Felix said, pulling his hand back. Nino found it even more heart wrenching when Felix wrapped his arms around himself than when he saw Chat Noir the superhero do so.
"Okay. Like I said, whatever you need."
Felix's stomach growled.
"That popcorn sounds nice," Felix said with a chuckle.
"Yeah, Adrien has said you don't eat enough when you're stressed. Come on."
Nino led Felix into the apartment. They didn't pass anyone in the hallway and Nino all but shoved Felix into one of the bedrooms.
"Stay here, I'll be right back," he whispered.
In the hallway, Nino called loudly, "Mom, I'm home."
Felix listened through the door as Mrs. Lahiffe worried over her son. You stay out too late, you should eat something more nutritious than popcorn, how was school, when do I get to meet that boy you have a crush on. It made his heart clench and guilt bubble up. He was putting this sweet family in danger. Mrs Lahiffe, single mother powerhouse. Nino's older sister, Melanie- part time student, part time barista. Chris, Nino's younger brother who was in his first year of high school. And Nino.
Nino returned with popcorn and a large mug of hot chocolate.
“I couldn't get two mugs without alerting my eagle eyed mom to your presence,” Nino said, handing the mug to Felix. Felix set the cup down and started pacing across the room.
“I shouldn't be here,” he said. “I don't want your family getting into trouble for taking in the runaway Agreste boy, or in danger because Chat Noir is here.”
“Well, they already have one superhero under their roof. What's a second one?”
Felix continued to pace. Nino watched him from his desk chair for a moment. Felix had nothing with him. No school things, no overnight bag, not even a winter jacket.
“Felix?” He stopped pacing and faced Nino. “What’s going on? Is Adrien okay?”
Felix sighed. “He's safe, for now. He's in Milan with Nathalie for the week.”
“Would you sit?” Nino said, shoving the hot chocolate into Felix's hands again. Felix slumped to the floor and leaned back against the side of the bed. His eyes slid closed and he pulled his knees up to rest his chin on one. The Felix that Nino knew from class would never let himself look so vulnerable in front of anyone. Chat might, if a battle was going poorly and he was scared for one of his teammates. This would take some getting used to. Merging two people in his mind was not what he had expected to happen from a reveal. He had assumed, Paris being a big city, that he didn't know any of his team in real life. Now he knew two of the three other main players.
“At least drink the hot chocolate and get some sugar in your system,” Nino said.
Felix took an obedient sip, but didn't really taste it.
“You're an ill-prepared runaway,” Nino said.
“Yeah. Sorry. I left in a hurry.”
Nino waited to see if Felix would volunteer any information, any clue as to what this was about. He just sat there, sipping his drink with his eyes closed.
“So here's what I know, dude,” Nino said, taking a handful of popcorn before setting the bowl next to Felix. “You're Chat Noir. You don't want to be Chat Noir anymore. You said you can't go home. You're obviously scared of something. I've got some wild and terrible theories, but I'd really just like the actual answers at some point. If you're not ready, that's fine. You're kind of a disaster right now, I get that. But you're not alone. I'm here to help.”
Felix sighed, opened his eyes, and set down the mug.
“Nino, my father is Hawkmoth.”
Chapter 5: Roommates
Felix is excited for a summer testing his leadership skills and getting experience for when he's a teacher. Nino is dying without internet access. Summer camp co-counselor adventures ensue.
Camp Counselor AU
“Why are you doing this, again?” Gabriel asked as he and Felix followed the Gorilla down a dirt road surrounded by pine trees.
"Work experience. Because it gets me out of the house. Because the program came highly recommended by my guidance counselor at school. But to be honest, the thought of seeing you surrounded by nature while dropping me off was more than enough."
"This is a waste of your time. You could have spent your summer studying or practicing your violin."
"Yes, seeing you, saying that, with actual trees behind you is worth all the sunburns and bug bites and screaming children this summer could possibly give me."
At the door to Felix's cabin Gabriel said his goodbyes.
"You'll be calling for a ride home within three weeks," was Gabriel's last words before leaving with the Gorilla.
The cabin was small, six sets of bunk beds lining the walls with lockers and a clothes hanging bar against the back wall. Felix took the top bunk in the back left corner and unpacked some of his things into one of the lockers. He was reviewing his schedule for the rest of the first day when the door banged open again.
"Why are there rocks everywhere?"
Felix looked up to see a very frustrated young man lugging a pair of suitcases and a sleeping bag behind him up the steps into the cabin.
"Are you Nino?" Felix asked, reaching to hold the door open for the newcomer.
Nino looked up and forgot the toe he had stubbed on a rock outside the door, and how tired his arms were from lugging his bags around, and that the sun was giving him a headache. The exact words that entered his mind the moment he saw Felix Agreste were, "Oh no, he's hot."
"Here, give me a bag," Felix said, reaching to help. Somehow this resulted in both of them dropping all of Nino's belongings on the floor.
"Well now I'm glad I left my laptop at home," Nino muttered, picking up a bag and lugging it to the top bunk in front of Felix's.
"I would hope so," Felix said. "There's no internet signal in most of the buildings and we weren't supposed to bring them anyway."
"Why not? I didn't bring it because I didn't want some punk kid breaking it. I didn't know we weren't supposed to."
"You seem ill-prepared," Felix said, setting Nino's second bag on top of the row of lockers.
"This was not my first choice summer activity," Nino said. "Sorry, I didn't catch your name."
"I would have given it if you had answered when I asked yours."
He's hot and kind of a jackass, Nino thought. "I'm Nino. Nice to meet you."
"Nice to meet you," Felix said, trying not to roll his eyes at the obvious sarcasm from his co-counselor. "I'm Felix."
"Well, Felix," Nino said, climbing up on top of his bunk and starting to make his bed. "What did you do wrong to spend a summer in Hell?"
"I'm here voluntarily." Felix climbed to his bed to see Nino better. "I like working with kids. I want to be a teacher someday."
"Fair enough. Ugh, is it always this hot in here?"
"I brought a box fan, but it won't do much," Felix said. "But I hear it cools off at night. Why are you here, if it wasn't your first choice?"
"My parents basically said that I needed to get a job and get out of the house more, and most of the places I applied wouldn't take me, so here I am." Nino sat back against the wall behind him. "It's not that I don't like kids, and I get to teach some of the music and drama classes, which will be fun. But I'm more of an air conditioning and wifi guy than campfires and swimming in lakes."
Felix nodded. Maybe this grouch he was rooming with wasn't quite as unpleasant as his first impression would have him believe. "I'm sure I'll have trouble adjusting to the accommodations, but I'm just as happy with a book in the sun as a book inside."
"I'm a Kindle guy myself," Nino said. "You ready to head down to orientation?"
"Sure," Felix said, grabbing his sunglasses. "I look forward to working with you this summer."
“Felix!” Nino yelled from the middle of the cabin. “You are the only person in the entire camp who irons their clothes. Why are you also the only one unable to understand that you can’t leave wet towels in the middle of the floor or open boxes of candy in your luggage?”
“My personal appearance and the amount of experience I have keeping my own environment aren’t in any way related.”
“I’m pushing you in the lake at the swim race tomorrow.”
“Jokes on you, we have opposite schedules tomorrow. I’m at the crafts table while you’re at the lake.”
"Then who's gonna remind you not to glue your hand to your shirt again if I'm not there?"
"Nino," Felix whispered, trying not to alert the cabin full of half asleep nine year old boys. "Are you awake?"
"Nino, there's a spider over my head and it's horrifying and I seem to be paralyzed by fear."
"Fine, give me your book," Nino said, dragging himself from his sleeping bag to climb across the gap to Felix's bunk.
The loud "thunk" of the book smashing into the spider made three of the boys scream.
"What are you doing?" Felix asked, holding out the ice cream cone he had bought for Nino.
"If I stand in exactly the right spot on top of this picnic table I get enough of a signal to check Twitter."
"You have a problem."
"I'm aware." Nino felt something cold hit the side of his hand. "When did I get ice cream?"
"You have a serious problem."
"I know, dude."
"Sit with me at the bonfire."
Felix had crept up behind Nino and leaned forward to whisper in his ear. Nino didn't jump like he'd hoped, but he did shiver when Felix's breath hit his skin.
"And why would I do that?" Nino whispered back, watching two of their campers try to skip rocks while two others competed to see who could scream louder.
"I'll share my s'mores with you."
Nino wasn't sure if Felix was being intentionally suggestive or if his mind was making everything dirtier, but he knew there was no way he was sitting with anyone else that night.
"It's been four weeks," Felix said, leaning over to Nino's bunk. They now slept so that their heads faced each other, making it easier to talk without disturbing their campers.
"It's the middle of the night, Felix," Nino said, squinting at him through sleepy eyes.
"My father said I'd never last three weeks."
"We'll celebrate this weekend when the kids are gone," Nino said. "We'll plan it in the morning. I swear I'm excited for you, but I'm going back to sleep now."
"Why are you even here if you can't follow basic instructions?" Felix snarled. "Did it not occur to you that despite how dull your job is, it is actually important to get it right?"
"Felix what the hell?" Nino said, trying to be quiet so he didn't get in trouble for swearing in front of campers again. "You can't speak to people like that."
"She almost handed Greg a plate with strawberries on it," Felix said. "Even after he handed her the meal card that said he was allergic. Even after he said out loud 'no strawberries'. I still had to turn around and see her almost hand him a plate with strawberries."
"Okay, go take a walk," Nino said, putting a hand on Felix's shoulder and guiding him to the door. "No harm was done, and I've got this from here, okay?"
"Watch her," Felix said, glaring back at the lunch lady.
"How is it that every Friday I can't wait for the kids to leave, but every Sunday morning I can't wait for the new ones to get here?" Nino asked, sitting next to Felix on a log overlooking the sun setting on the lake.
"I don't know, but Saturday evening is definitely the magic spot between the two," Felix said. He stole a glance at Nino's profile before looking back at the oranges and reds and purples before them.
"You need to up your sunscreen game, bro," Nino said, reaching a feather-light finger over to brush against Felix's cheek and down his nose. "You'll be a lobster before the summer's over."
"Maybe you're just making me blush," Felix said, catching the hand and holding it between them.
"Felix, stop buying me ice cream," Nino said, flopping onto his back in the grass of the athletic field. "I'm going to get fat."
"You swam so much today, I seriously doubt that," Felix said, not looking up from his book. "Bobby, don't throw the ball at people's faces!"
"Are we supposed to be teaching them anything right now?" Nino asked, looking at the group of campers running wild with a variety of kickballs, soccer balls, and baseballs.
"I now declare this free play time," Felix said with a sweeping gesture with the hand not holding his book. "The ones that need to blow off steam will tire themselves out, the ones that need to rest will sit in the shade and gossip." He looked up from his book to sweep his gaze over Nino's form next to him in the grass. "You're definitely not getting fat. And I enjoyed watching you swim today."
"Yeah?" Nino pulled his hat over his face but it didn't hide his smirk. "Maybe we should go swimming together on Saturday."
"What's the first thing you'll do tomorrow when you get home?" Felix asked as they packed up as much of their belongings as they could on their last night, the last set of campers having left that afternoon.
"Nap, then eat something that doesn't smell like the kitchens here, then go online and become a lump on the couch until my brains fall out my ears. You?"
"Shower in a shower that has water pressure, nap, and then go to the library."
"Cool," Nino said, zipping his bag halfway shut. "And what about the day after that?"
"After that?" Felix asked, stretching idly as he pretended to think. "I was thinking of you."
"Cool," Nino said, crawling up to his bunk.
"Cool," Felix said, walking over to shut off the light.
Nino reached out and pulled Felix to him by the front of his shirt for a kiss.
Talk with me over at cheeseeatingtrashmonster.tumblr.com if you like :)
UPDATE: I am working on expanding this chapter into its own story. You can follow me on tumblr for occasional updates. :D
Chapter 6: Misunderstanding
Felix takes a risk to try and move his relationship with Nino from frenemies-with-benefits to something more.
It was stupid. He was stupid. This was not a new conclusion for Felix, but this time the bite of the thought was a little deeper, with a little more weight behind it.
Of course he was stupid. Not only had he brought flowers to a club of all places, but they had been red roses. Not only did he horrify Nino, but he had embarrassed himself in front of half the club full of people. Statistically, with how popular that club was, with how popular Nino's DJ act was, more than a few people in the crowd knew who Felix was.
In what universe did Felix Agreste bring someone flowers and not thoroughly embarrass himself?
Felix had left the club after seeing the look on Nino's face and just started walking, the bouquet hanging from his hand, occasionally dropping petals. He knew the area fairly well, even if his usual vantage point was a story or two up from the sidewalk so he wasn't worried about getting lost as he let his legs carry him wherever. He found a bench eventually and sat, holding the flowers, staring at the blood red hue under the harsh orange streetlight.
What kind of person brings flowers to a "first time DJing at a major club" like it's a ballet recital or theater opening night?
Who tries to take a functional frenemies-with-benefits arrangement and add feelings?
Felix slid a rose from the bouquet and set the rest down next to him. He spun the flower in his fingers, marveling at the strength, the history, the exquisite form of the rose. There was a reason it was such a frequently used symbol, but sometimes the beauty of the object was lost behind the weight of the ideas it represents. He brushed his finger over the petals, trying to focus on only what was in front of him and not how stupid he was going to be feeling for a long time to come. One of the petals was dislodged and fell to the ground.
On an impulse Felix plucked another petal and dropped it to the sidewalk. He thought of the first time he realized the attraction wasn’t one sided. He had caught Nino staring through the door to the dance studio where he was practicing alone. Felix had smirked and Nino had blushed and pulled his hat down to cover it and that was confirmation enough.
He plucked two petals and dropped them, thinking of how bickering and sarcasm had taken on a flirtatious edge after that. Snide comments with a side of innuendo had become their thing.
Another few petals fell as he remembered the first time they had kissed (locked in the basement of the school during an akuma attack, of course). They had both confessed a minute later that they had planned on waiting for the other to break first and make a move. Nino had been the one to kiss him, and while Felix was kind enough not to mention it, he was secretly very smug about that fact.
He ripped out a clump of petals all together as he remembered how quickly things had heated up from there. Sneaking off in the library. Stealing moments when Adrien was called away while Nino was visiting. Leaving parties, concerts, recitals early together. They had both asked for and immediately agreed to secrecy, and from what they could tell, no one was on to them yet.
The flower in his hands was bare, so he dropped the stem and grabbed another. He pulled out petals as he tried to pinpoint the moment lust and loathing had turned into love. Was it when Felix had fallen in a broom cupboard and smacked his head hard and Nino insisted on getting him ice for his head, watching him for signs of concussion the rest of the day? When he saw Nino notice that Chloe was making Adrien uncomfortable so he stubbornly distracted and antagonized her until she gave Adrien space? Was it when Nino started stopping by to watch him practice ballet without expecting even a kiss afterwards?
He ripped off the head of the next flower and tossed it into the street.
Maybe it was the first time they kissed.
Felix looked at the stem in his hands, trying to decide if he wanted to keep ripping the flowers or just go home. He threw the rest of the bouquet in the trash.
Whether or not Nino loved Felix, Felix loved Nino. And love hurt worse than any damage he had taken from an akuma over the years.
Felix brushed himself off and started walking towards home. He wondered if Nathalie had told his father that he was missing yet. He pulled out his phone to check the time and saw he had missed quite a few texts. Unlocking his phone, they were from four people. Nathalie, Chloe, Bridgette, and Nino.
Bridgette: Did you bring Nino flowers? That's the most romantic thing I've ever seen! I'm so proud of you for putting yourself out there!
Bridgette: WHY DID YOU LEAVE? COME BACK. SWEEP HIM OFF HIS FEET. YOU TWO ARE MY OTP
There were six more messages from Bridgette with various threats of what she would do to him if he didn't return and romance Nino immediately. Okay, either they had not been as subtle as they'd hoped, or Bridgette thought they would make a good couple for other reasons. He would figure that out later.
Chloe: Uh please tell me you didn't show up at a *club* with a *bouquet* like some dork?
Nathalie: We're having a talk about what "I'm just stepping out for a minute, Nathalie" means when you get home.
There was a new calendar notification titled "Defining 'stepping out for a minute'" on the agenda for Monday.
Felix took a deep breath and opened Nino's text
Nino: Shit. I'm sorry, I think you got the wrong idea. Come back and let me explain?
Felix didn't want to let him explain. He didn't want to give Nino another chance to smash his heart to bits. But it was apparent that the foolish, hopeful bit of him hadn't had enough disappointment tonight. He walked back to the club, paid to get back in, and stood, the picture of awkward, off to the side of the DJ booth near a wall. He didn't expect Nino to be able to pick him out of the crowd, so he texted him.
Felix: Do you get a break during this or what?
It took less than a minute for Nino to respond, even as Felix watched how busy he was with his various DJing doodads.
Nino: In about 15, 20 mins I have a short break, meet me by the men's room?
Felix waited by the exit, trying to decide if he was sticking around to hear Nino's explanation or not. The meaner parts of him wanted to leave now that Nino knew he was here. That would serve him right for crushing him with a single look. At the last second, seeing Nino descend from the booth, Felix pushed his way through the crowd.
"I get it, I screwed up," Felix said over the pounding music. "I got it wrong, you don't want more. That's fine. I just look like an idiot now."
"My family doesn't know about you, or that I'm involved with anyone," Nino said. "I want more. I want anything and everything you're willing to give me. But my family needs to find out from me, not from me falling to pieces and not being able to work my first big gig in front of them because of a hot guy with flowers. They're big on trust and open communication. Like, tell each other everything level of open. You're the only important thing I've ever kept from them in my life.”
"I... didn't even consider that your parents would be here," Felix said, crossing his arms. He hadn't had a parent at any of his performances since he was thirteen. "Did they say anything?"
"They thought I was freaking out from stage fright. My brother might have caught on though, he saw you leaving. He wouldn't say anything though, I don't think."
The silence bothered Felix, especially not knowing how much longer Nino had until he had to return.
"What happened to the flowers?" Nino asked, smirking but unable to look at Felix fully.
"I slowly destroyed a few of them before chucking the rest in the trash."
"Too bad," Nino said. "I've never been given flowers before."
"Are we okay?" Felix asked. "You're not mad?"
“I mean, you jumped to conclusions and didn't think through coming here and risked our entire thing we have going- all apparently without much forethought- and almost made my relationship with my parents incredibly interesting.”
“I'm sorry,” Felix said, looking miserable.
Nino cupped Felix's face and kissed him with a gentleness that made Felix melt.
“It's the most romantic thing anyone's ever done for me.”
Something shifted (possibly the music but Felix didn't know it well enough to say for sure) and Nino pulled away with a sigh.
“I have to go. Can we talk tomorrow?”
Some of the residue of “I was so stupid” washed over the front of Felix's mind again and he suppressed a cringe. “Of course. Whenever you're available.”
Nino rolled his eyes and Felix almost flinched. Nino looked over the pathetic sight of confused and emotionally overburdened Felix and had to suppress a smile. He would never admit it, but Felix caring about him enough to be this affected, after months of emotionless private encounters felt good. But he wouldn't gloat. Felix had never gloated about Nino kissing him first.
“Stop overthinking. We'll talk tomorrow, but I've got a good feeling. I want this to work.”
Nino was gone less than a minute before a small ball of energy flung herself at Felix, her feet leaving the floor as she latched her arms around his shoulders.
“You came back! You guys have a shot at something real! You're gonna be so happy! I'm so happy!"
"For crying out loud, Bridgette, get off of me!"
Chapter 7: Concert
College AU. Nino needs his computer fixed. Felix doesn't want to work at the IT desk. Adrien is annoyed.
IT, Coffee, and Concerts
“You came to me, Mr. Lahiffe. You asked for my help. So either restart the machine or leave.”
"It’s Nino. And this is why no one likes the IT guys," Nino said, stabbing the power button on his laptop for the fourth time.
"Do you think I like being an IT guy?" the student IT expert wearing a nametag that said "Felix" asked, gesturing to the IT desk broadly with his travel coffee mug. "I'm only here because it's the highest paid on-campus job for which I qualified."
"Oh yeah? What else did you qualify for?"
Felix looked him dead in the eye and said, "Live model for the art classes. Clothed or not."
I will not check him out. I will not check him out I will not- dammit he's really hot. Good going, Nino, now he's smirking at you and dammit that's hot too.
Nino glanced at his computer screen, hoping for something to distract him from the smug way Felix was sipping his coffee.
"There, see, still weird," Nino said, shoving his laptop towards Felix.
"Was anyone messing with your computer before this happened?" Felix asked, setting his coffee down to pull the laptop close enough to properly reach the keyboard. "Cat walk on your keyboard, little sibling slamming their hands into it, girlfriend using it to write the next supernatural romance bestseller?"
"No cat, little siblings are old enough to fear touching my tech, and no girlfriend. I don't think anyone's used this laptop but me, and I'm pretty careful."
"Because this problem usually arises from- ha, fixed it." Felix turned the computer back, the screen no longer doing the weird thing that made it impossible to use.
"Oh my gosh, seriously, dude? You're a lifesaver!" Nino held his his hand up to fist bump. Felix stared at it. "Do you have, like, a tip jar or something? You've seriously saved both my academic and musical careers here."
"That's the first time I've been asked that," Felix said, eyebrows raised. "Usually it's just people blaming us for printer jams and easily avoidable viruses that we can't do anything about."
"That sounds rough." Nino looked down at his fixed computer, trying to think of something to say. He had very urgently needed to do something when he got to the IT desk, and was definitely in a rush. Whatever it was seems less important at the moment than the green-blue eyes tracking his every move.
"You said 'musical career'," Felix said. "What do you play?"
Nino grinned. "Listen to this." Aware of the fact that the IT desk was in the library, Nino pulled up his latest mix and played a few seconds as loud as he dared. "I made that."
Felix's eyebrows rose again, impressed this time. "Not what I'd usually listen to, but impressive all the same. Is music your major?"
"Communications, with the goal of using that to get ahead in music."
"That's smart. And you're obviously talented. You'll go far."
"Thanks. It's nice to hear something other than 'no one makes it in music'. What about you? You're working IT, so is it safe to assume comp sci?"
"It is not. I'm double majoring in education and dance. So I'd never tell a fellow artist that 'no one makes it' because I'm so sick of hearing it."
"What kind of dance?" Nino tried not to sneak another look at Felix, but found himself confirming that he definitely had a dancer's body.
"So you dance, you're learning to become a teacher, and you turned down a modeling job to fix computers. You're quiet the complicated guy, Felix."
"You're not exactly boring yourself. Chat Noir screensaver, huh?"
Nino glanced down at his laptop which had in fact gone into screensaver mode. He closed the laptop with a swift but gentle motion. "Ignore that. Small crush is all."
Felix's smirk widened. "I'm sure he'd love to hear that." Felix's phone beeped next to him. "Looks like my shift is done. Why don't I buy you a coffee and you can tell me more about how you make those music things?"
"Uh well," Nino said, putting his laptop away. "I’m actually heading to that concert on campus." With Adrien, that’s what he was supposed to do, meet Adrien. Well, Adrien would forgive him for ditching him for a maybe-date, right? And the band was only okay, definitely skippable. “But coffee sounds nice. I can be late.”
“I was actually going to go to the concert myself, I just didn’t want to go alone. Would you want to grab coffee and then go to the concert with me?”
“Yeah. Yeah, I’d love to. Let me text the friend I was going to meet, let him know.”
Felix grabbed his bag and came around the desk to Nino's side. Nino sent a quick text to Adrien before putting his phone away as the pair started walking towards the on campus coffee shop. When they stepped through the door, Felix's phone rang.
"Hello my brother," Felix said.
"Hey, Felix, my friend ditched me, and I know you wanted to see the concert. Wanna join me?"
"Sorry, I can’t."
"Your loss, I hear it’s gonna be great."
“I’ll be fine.”
Felix insisted on buying Nino’s coffee. They took their to-go cups towards the dorms to drop off their bags. They found they lived two floors apart in the same building and had both had clothes ruined by the basement laundry machines. Nino fed his turtle and they headed to the concert venue. While waiting in line they moved from "I think you're flirting and I'm flirting a little" to "you're definitely flirting and I'm flirting back hard". They had just entered and started looking for their seats when an angry, accusatory, familiar "aha!” startled them both.
"You both ditched me for each other?" Adrien stormed over to their row, arms crossed.
"I didn't ditch you, we had no plans," Felix said, calm in the face of Adrien's familiar over-the-top indignation.
"Bro, I explained in my text. You two know each other?" Nino looked between the two. Wait, Adrien had mentioned a brother... "You're Adrien's twin?" he asked Felix.
"You must be that friend Adrien mentioned. He usually doesn't have this good of taste in friends."
"How DARE you two both ditch me like this?" Adrien said, trying to pull their focus back to his anger. "After I was slow-playing matchmaking you two! This date wasn't supposed to happen for two more weeks! Wait until I tell Marinette how much this throws off her timeline."
I can't believe it's over! I love writing these two. Come yell about Nelix with me at cheeseeatingtrashmonster.tumblr.com :)