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August Fluff Month

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Adrien slowly crept into the apartment he shared with Marinette. Which might not have been notable were it not for two - soon to be three - important facts. One, he was entering in through the window, which is generally considered to be a strange way to enter your home. Especially since they were three stories off the ground. Two, he was presently the feline hero Chat Noir, returning from a night patrolling the city of Paris.

Through the years they had spent fighting Hawkmoth, he and Ladybug had not let their vigilance wane. Still, the rigors of his university life and whatever Ladybug was doing had meant that solo patrols became more and more common.

Ladybug… he had given up pursuing her years ago. There is only such much rejection someone can take before they have to walk away for their own well being. So he had let himself love another…

Marinette was everything he had hoped she would be. It had taken him a little while (Okay, it had taken me ages) to realize her affections for him. Yet, once he was no longer pining for someone else, he let himself love her.

And they were happy. They shared everything… almost. There was one secret that he couldn't share. No one must know that he is Chat Noir.

Which brings us to the third important fact. Marinette was not at Alya’s tonight, as planned. Rather, she was in the bedroom. Where he had just entered through the window.

Both of them were too surprised to respond at first, with Adrien having one leg in the room and Marinette laying on the bed in lingerie. The two of them were having trouble coming to grips both with the other’s presence and what the other was wearing. Adrien felt the blood rush to his face just as Marinette became slack jawed.

“N-now, Mari! This isn't what you think.”

She recovered enough to give him a disbelieving look. “Oh? Then what is it, exactly?”

He sputtered for a moment, trying to think up a believable excuse. “I, uh, I was, um…” The silence stretched on as Adrien’s overwhelmed brain struggled to come up with a believable excuse while a significant portion of its blood supply was otherwise occupied.

Eventually, he eyes widened. She whispered, quiet enough that he only caught it because of his enhanced hearing, “‘Mari’...?” Louder, she asked, “Did you just call me Mari?”

Rising from the bed she walked over to him, hands on her hips and pouting up at him (The years had only caused their height difference to increase). “There are only two people who call me Mari and one of them is a redhead woman. And the other is…” She stared at him, then for a moment seems to stare though him her eyes widened in realization as he hands snapped to her mouth. “...Adrien?”

He gave a weak smile and jazz hands. “Surprise…?”

To his surprise, she began laughing. He frowned. This was a serious matter! Ladybug was always saying how letting our loved ones know would put them in danger! “Mari, this is no laughing matter! You are in danger now!” He remembered her best friend, who still maintained the most extensive collection of super hero lore on them. “And you must promise never to tell anyone! I'm sorry, but you are now a part of this.”

Her laughing subsided into giggles. “Tell you what, kitty. I'll make it even. Just stay here for a minute.” Too confused to respond, Adrien just stood there and watched her leave the room.

A few minutes later, she returned, her hands behind her back. She smiled at him, full of love and warmth. “Tikki! Spots on!”

And there before him was the lady he had pined after for all his years in lycee, who he still had strong admiration for, and who, as it turns out, he had been living with for several months now.

She was about to say something when he rushed forward and pressed his lips to hers. When they finally had to part for air, he whispered to her. “I told you that you wouldn't be able to resist me without the mask.”

She playfully hit his chest with her fist before pulling him back in. When they parted again, she responded, “Yeah, well, it took you long enough to figure out when someone is desperately in love with you Mr. She's-Just-A-Friend.”

They glared at each other for a moment before breaking into laughter again. Adrien said through the giggles, “I guess we were both kinda dumb, weren't we?”

Ladybug - his Marinette - laid her head against his chest, listening to his heartbeat. “Yeah. We were.”

A companionable silence stretched between them.

“So… was that lingerie for my benefit?”

Her eyes flashed with playfulness. “That depends on if you are a well behaved kitty tonight .”

Chapter Text

Adrien had just been sent to his room after a nasty argument with his father. This was, unfortunately, becoming a fairly common occurrence, with the confidence from being Chat Noir causing him to no longer be a passive tool in his father’s designs. Still, there were hurtful words said on both sides that would not be easy to move past.

Adrien reached out to his closest confident, hoping to find some relief from the turmoil in his heart. They had been through a lot together, and although there had been some rough waters recently, they had only grown closer as a result.

Adrien: Mari? Are you up? I really need someone to talk to right now…

Before long, the message was marked as read, but no response arrived. He curled up into a ball on his bed, fighting back the tears. No one cares about me. Not really. This fight just proves that.

He was so wrapped up in these thoughts that he didn't hear the tapping at his window. It wasn't until the tapping became rather insistent that it pierced through the cloud of negative thoughts to reach him. When he looked up, it was to see Ladybug standing on his window sill, basket in hand and tapping on the glass.

He jumped out of bed and rushed to the window, fumbling the lock before finally getting it open. She entered the room and found herself wrapped in a hug. “Mari! You came!”

She was surprised at the intensity of the hug, but returned it without hesitation, nuzzling into the crook of his neck. “I'm sorry it took me so long. It seemed bad so I needed to grab some treats for us.” She broke the hug, pulling him by the hand to the couch.

She took a seat, Adrien close behind as he laid down on the couch, head resting on her lap, looking up into her ocean blue eyes. She began running her fingers through his hair. “So, tell me what Garbage Agreste did this time to cause this newest fight.”

The story of this most recent fight went on for several hours, with all the side tracking and explanations that needed to be offered. But the sorrow from earlier had melted away and his insecurities vanished for the moment with the safety he felt in her presence.

After pouring his heart out, Adrien could barely keep his eyes open and got up to go to bed. However, by the time he had gotten up, Marinette had picked him up bridal style and carried him to his bed loft.

He got settled in, and as she turned to leave, Adrien caught her wrist. He could barely meet her eyes as he asked her, “Stay?” her bewildered expression softened into a caring one, and she got under the covers with him. She wrapped her arms around from behind him and settled her face into the nape of his neck.

As they fell asleep there, Adrien’s final thoughts of the night were that his house may be cold and loveless, but she was warm.

Chapter Text

Even superheroes need a vacation.

At least that was the reasoning that Adrien and Marinette used when they were trying to convince each other to take up Alya and Nino’s offer of a beach getaway. The last semester had been particularly rough, and the two of them hadn't had much of an opportunity to see each other. Despite having just started their relationship, it still hadn't sunk in for either of them since all their duties kept them apart.

This built up desire just to spend some time in each other’s company lead to them accepting the invitation. Nino was driving the four of them to the beach, where they'd have a weekend of fun and relaxation.

Alya, in the front seat wearing her sunglasses, looked back at them with a sly grin. “We’re going down the beach to search for sea shells. You two want to go with?”

Marinette yawned. She had accidentally stayed up late last night getting everything prepared for today. “No, I think I just want to take a nap in the sunlight to start things off.”

Directly in front of her, Nino chuckled. “An exciting start to our getaway, dude. Try to save some adventure for the rest of us.”

She could only pout in response to the good natured teasing. She felt her hand get squeezed and locked eyes with Adrien. “I'll keep you company, Mari. I'd like to start off slowly anyway.”

A brief flutter of appreciation made it into her smile before she had to yawn again. He chuckled and brought her close to kiss her forehead, brushing aside stray hairs as he did so.

Addressing the couple in front, he asked, “What is there to do at this beach anyway?”

“Oh, dude, there is tons!” Nino was talking excitedly, gesturing with one hand and driving with the other. “Besides the ocean and all the stuff you can do there, there is usually carnival games at this time of year.”

Alya continued on, “The cabin we are renting had a hot tub as well. And two beds. You two don't mind sharing, right?” The question was asked innocently enough, but the look she fixed them with was absolutely predatory. The two of them hadn't revealed much about their relationship since there wasn't much to reveal. She felt Adrien give her hand another squeeze. Smiling, she responded, “No, that’ll be just fine.”

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They made it to the cabin first, dropping off their excess stuff and changing into their swim clothes. It would only be a short walk to the beach proper, after all. They each found a side room to get changed in and met back up in the main area.

Marinette had realized, on an intellectual level, that Adrien wouldn't be wearing much. But to actually see him lounging on the couch in nothing but a pair of red trunks with black spots nearly killed her on the spot. It was a crime that this boy was hidden under so much clothes most of the time. Why hasn't he done any swimsuit photo shoots yet?

Clearly, his time as Chat Noir had paid off, if the well tone muscles were any indication. She blushed as she realized she was gawking at him. Reluctantly, she raised her eyes to meet his own.

Or she would have, if he had finished eyeing her as well. It was gratifying that she could render her boyfriend speechless like this with just a black two piece covered in cartoon cat faces. Her giggling seemed to be what drew him out of it, and his eyes snapped up to hers, the blush at his cheeks evidence of his embarrassment of being caught.

Her giggling spread to the other two, eventually reaching Adrien himself. Embarrassment forgotten, they left for the beach proper, chatting away.

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Marinette was lying comfortably on her towel in the sand, sunglasses and closed eyes protecting her from the Sun’s rays.

Well, that and a generous amount of sunscreen. When she had Adrien help her put some on the hard to reach areas, she had been afraid that she had accidentally fried his kitty brain. He had his revenge when he needed the same help, and then she was the blushing mess.

They recovered, and carried on a pleasant conversation by themselves. Alya and Nino had long since walked far along the beach in search of shells and other interesting flotsam.

She wasn't quite certain what Adrien was doing since she had her eyes closed, but he had taken a bucket and trowel with him here. From the position of his voice she knew he was moving around her. Unfortunately, that same voice, so sweet and pleasant, lulled her to sleep.

She woke up later and slowly sat up.

“Marinette! Be very, very careful!”

The urgency in Adrien’s voice caused her to pause and tense. Was there an akuma? Were they in danger?

“Adrien? What's wrong?” She entered into what he had told her was her ‘Ladybug voice,’ which demanded obeying and took command of situations.

Just as seriously, he responded. “If you move too much you'll destroy our fortifications, my lady.”

What.

She opened her eyes. Her towel was untouched, possibly due to the fortifications built around them. A wall had been built, completely surrounding her, standing about thirty centimeters tall. The walls had towers anchoring the defensive line, standing about twice the height of the wall. A moat, complete with water, surrounded the entire defense.

She lowered her sunglasses to look over them at her partner. She cocked an eyebrow as he grinned with pride back at her. She struggled with words for a moment before asking the most obvious question, “Why?”

His eyes lit up, as if he was waiting for it, “Because a princess needs a castle.”

She rolled her eyes and put a sandy palm to her forehead. She couldn't hide her smile, and Adrien deftly crossed the barrier, settling behind her as he wrapped her in a hug. “You are a dork, Adrien.”

He hummed in agreement. “Yes, and you are stuck with me.”

Hateful Poseidon eventually destroyed their castle, but by that time their friends had returned to go for a swim and then to eat. The day winded down from there and they returned to the air conditioned cabin exhausted.

Marinette fell asleep to Adrien cuddling her from behind, his breath on her neck. Her last thought before dreaming was: I could get used to this.

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Sunday morning arrived and Adrien was up before any of them. Marinette knew this because she kept scooting backwards to find his warmth, only to fall off the bed. In an angry huff that only those tired souls cheated of comfort can manage, she reluctantly got out of bed to search for her boyfriend.

She heard Alya’s snoring from their room, and guessed that Nino was still in there as well. Once arriving in the main room, she searched for the kwami they had stashed in their luggage.

“Tikki? Plagg?” She called out gently, not wishing to wake her friends.

A familiar red shape emerged from the vents. She yawned. “Good morning, Marinette. Did you sleep well?” The tiny deity looked at her knowingly.

She stretched. “It was great! I feel like I slept well for the first time in ages.”

Another voice echoed from the vents. “Yeah, the kid said pretty much the same thing. Doesn't compare to the real deal, I think he said.” A floating black cat emerged from where Tikki had. He was clutching a hunk of cheese. “He went out for breakfast, if that's what you were going to ask.”

She frowned. “He went without us?”

Plagg shook his head. “No, he went to bring back breakfast. He tried making something, but, well, look for yourself.”

She looked over at the stove and saw a pan filled with a burned crisp that might have one time been eggs. She put a hand on her chest. Adrien was always trying to pick up on the things he never learned to do due to his sheltered upbringing.

She sighed. It would have been nice if he had waited till they woke up to do this. At least then they could have showed him.

Plagg continued as she got to work trying to clean up the mess. “He was going on and on about waking you up with a breakfast in bed.” She shook her head and smiled. That sounds exactly like something he would do. The hopeless romantic.

Something clicked in her head. She turned to Plagg who had floated next to her shoulder, gnawing on the cheese. “What did you mean, real deal?

He began cackling and Tikki, who was on her opposite shoulder, responded. “Don't laugh at him, Plagg! He is your chosen, after all.”

“Yes, and that is why I'm allowed to laugh at him. Besides, it is pretty funny with how it all turned out.” To Marinette, he said, “You know those dolls you gave him? Of Chat Noir and Ladybug?” She nodded. They were his presents for his seventeenth birthday party last year. “He sleeps with the Ladybug one on his pillow.”

She began giggling too. Adrien was pretty clingy. Not that she minded that this beautiful boy hated being separated from her, of course - she certainly didn't enjoy their time apart either.

That's when she heard the betrayed gasp from behind her. She whipped around, afraid that Nino or Alya had woken up early. Instead, she faced Adrien, who was carrying a paper bag, presumably filled with their breakfast.

He glared at his kwami and whined, face red with embarrassment, “Plagg!”

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Adrien, despite the grievous treachery of his kwami, survived his embarrassment. He and Marinette ate their breakfast in peace, waiting for their friends to wake up. Then ten in the morning came.

He tapped his fingers against the table. “Why aren't they up yet?”

Marinette, through a yawn, replied. “Maybe they were up late?”

“They went to bed at the same time as us. What could have possibly kept them up?”

They both had a realization at the same time, light blushes coloring their cheeks. Adrien coughed. “Uh, let's just leave a note for them and head out.”

She nodded, glad to moving on from that thought. “Sounds good. Ready for the carnival games?”

He gave her a very Chat Noir grin. “Yes! And I'll win you all the prizes!” She giggled at his enthusiasm.

“Lead on then, kitty.”

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Alya woke up to find her face buried in a warm mass, which turned out, upon further inspection, to be her boyfriend’s chest. It was with great reluctance - especially considering the previous night - that she extracted herself from his arms to get dressed. After putting on a fresh set of clothes, she stepped into the main area of the cabin.

The faint scent of burnt egg buried under the much strong smell of fresh pastries drew her over to the small kitchen space within the living room. Placed out in the open was a paper bag and a note.

Adrien and I woke up early. Went to the seaside games. Text us when you two are up.

P.s. Adrien bought us all breakfast.

Marinette

She put the note down onto the counter and dug into the box of goodies. Smirking, she reasoned that since Nino slept in he would have to settle for the leftovers. Choosing the best of the snacks, she sat down on the couch and began texting Marinette to pass the time while waiting for Nino.

After half an hour, her patience had run thin and she slipped back into their room to wake him up. Gently, she shook him by the bare shoulders. In a sing song voice she whispered to him. “Baaaabe. Wake up~”

With a snort, he turned away from her. Gentleness slipped from her mind as she pushed her glasses up and narrowed her eyes at the sleeping lump before her. Hands on her hips she continued, “You better get up now, or this'll get ugly, DJ Dumbass.”

In response, he merely grunted and wrapped himself further in his blankets.

“You brought this on yourself, babe.” She put her hands on his now-covered shoulders, as if to caress them. Nino groaned appreciatively, loosening his grip on the blankets.

Alya sensed weakness. She ripped his coverings off, leaving him in just in his boxers. Instead of getting up, he refused to surrender and simply entered into a fetal position. He waved his hand at her over his back in a shooing motion.

She pinched the bridge of her nose. She sat on the edge on the bed and leaned against his back. “You know, Adrien went out and got breakfast for us.” Silence. “And it would be awfully sweet if we could eat the last of it together.”

He groaned and slowly got up. She planted a wet kiss on his cheek. “There you go, babe.”

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After some coercion, Alya drew her boyfriend into some clothes and breakfast. Once he had some food in his stomach, he returned to his lovable self. While eating, he listened to Alya briefly explain where their friends had gone.

“So they’re off being adorable and shit out in the seaside games. I suspect some adorable shit also happened here based on the failed breakfast and the large bag that I found nearly empty.” Which wasn't entirely true, but Nino didn't need to know that.

He swallowed the last of his food. “What are we going to do about it? Seems pretty much like what we had wanted all along.” The real reason for dragging the two along had been to give them alone time. Since both Alya and Nino held the vaunted best friend position for the two love birds, they had been more aware than anyone else that they had been miserable apart.

Alya put a finger to her mouth in thought. What should they do with this? They could just leave them alone, like Nino seemed to be implying. Gone were the days when she had to actively conspire to get the two of them to admit their feelings for each other.

She let thoughts of plots and plans leave her mind. “You know what, babe? Fuck it. Let's just go to the games and have some fun. If we find them, cool. But I think our babies have grown up enough to decide how fast they want to go with their relationship.”

Nino smiled. “Now that sounds like a plan.”

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As fate would have it, they did end up finding their friends an hour into wandering the booths and attractions. Adrien was clutching an absolutely giant stuffed animal- specifically, a black cat.

The hero merchandising is strong even outside the city limits of Paris, Alya thought to herself.

Adrien, being too busy fawning over the stuffed animal, did not notice them at first. Instead, it was blushing Marinette who saw them. Rushing over to them, she called, “Alya! Nino! You finally got up.”

“Of course, girl. Can't let you two have all the fun. Although, sleeping in is part of the joy of vacation.”

“Trust me, I know. But Adrien-”

Before she could finish, Adrien had rushed over to shove his new toy in front of her and Nino. “And they say that the carnival games are rigged!”

Nino smiled at his friend’s bubbly excitement. “That's cool dude, but shouldn't you hand that over to Marinette?”

He pulled it back, confused. “What? No, Marinette won this.” He hugged it protectively. “For me.”

Alya nodded sagely. “That sounds right. My girl has a competitive streak in her that'll put anyone to shame.” No way some machine would beat her. Especially if Adrien was involved.

Marinette inclined her head. “I’ll that as a compliment.” She looked between the two of them. “You two, uh, been out long?”

She shook her head. “Only about an hour.”

“So… you won't be back to the cabin anytime soon?”

Bemused, Alya replied, “No, we were probably going to stay out for a few hours.” She smirked. “Already trying to get rid of us?”

To her surprise, they blushed. Adrien said, “No no no, just curious, needed to drop off this giant cat after all.” He laughed nervously.

Nino’s eyes widened with understanding. He gave a sly smirk. “Oh, I get you, bro. You'll have the cabin to yourself, at least for a couple of hours.” He put an arm around Adrien’s shoulder. “And since you'll be stopping by the convenience store, maybe grab a movie or something for tonight?”

Adrien, entirely red in the face, could only nod as Nino pulled Alya away. Once they were out of earshot, Alya asked, “Are they going to do what I think they are?”

Still grinning, he only said, “Oh yeah they are.”

She whistled. Under her breath she said, “Go get him, girl!”

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Later in the evening, they returned to find Marinette cuddled up on top of Adrien, who was napping on the couch. Their hair was a mess and their clothes looked wrinkled and thrown on, but they smiled contently, Marinette’s face flush with Adrien’s chest and Adrien’s hand in her hair.

Alya picked up the DVD they had purchased for the night and immediately rolled her eyes. An animated feature. Not that she had anything against such movies, but they had, as a group, watched a lot of them once Adrien and Marinette had realized they both adored them.

Nino crept up behind her, arms around her waist and head on her shoulder. “Poor kids tired themselves out. Think we should go get some take out for when they wake up?”

She gave him a kiss and responded, “I can get behind that. But if they aren't up by the time we get back then I am pushing them off. Cute or not, I've been walking all day.”

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The following day, they packed into the car ungodly early in the morning. This was both to beat the traffic and because Marinette had to watch the shop this morning.

Sluggishly, they stacked their bags - much less well organized now - into the trunk and wordlessly set about out on their journey back home.

Alya and Nino, who had fallen asleep first last night, chatted during the ride. Marinette and Adrien, who had finished watching the movie together, now slept in the back seat, leaned up against each other. Alya smiled when she noticed that even sleeping they were holding hands, fingers interwoven as they dreamt.

Chapter Text

“We’re going to be out for a few hours.” Tikki began to explain - for the third time that day - to their chosen sitting cross legged in front of them.

Plagg groaned. “Geez, Sugarcube! They get it. They are going to be on a date too, you know.”

Tikki glared at him while Marinette giggled. “It isn't wise to be so far apart from our chosen. Maybe we shouldn't go…” She was interrupted by a pair of hands scooping her gently out of the air.

She was brought face to face with Marinette. In a voice both amused and exasperated, she said, “Tikki! Go! We’ll be fine, patrol nights are usually slow anyway, and you two could use some catching up without us around.”

Tikki looked uncertainty between her charge and Adrien, who gave her a thumbs up. “I can take care of her while you are gone.” Marinette rolled her eyes.

“I’m pretty sure that I am the one babysitting you.”

Slowly, Tikki floated up off Marinette’s palms. “Okay…” She held up an arm, “But! If we get the faintest hint of an akuma, we are heading straight back here!”

Marinette acquiesced to this, and Tikki rushed up to hug her face. “Don't stay up too late.” She glanced over to Plagg, to see him patting Adrien on the nose. She rolled her eyes. He was never one for shows of emotion other than those relating hunger.

With just a few more parting goodbyes, the kwami were out the window, and the young couple temporarily became normal teenagers.

----------------------

Later that night, the two immortals sat at the top of the Eiffel Tower, looking out over the city. While they could go anywhere they wanted, the Eiffel Tower was a favorite spot of their chosen. It felt right for it to also be the site of their first - for lack of a better word - date in centuries.

Tikki was sighing contently. “I'm so glad that they got together in the end.”

Her other half nodded. “My kid is so much happier now. Watching him chase Ladybug while her civilian identity was pursuing him was getting physically painful.”

“You think that was bad? At least Chat could talk to Ladybug. It took so much counseling from Alya and I to get her to confess her feelings.”

“I dunno. It was pretty funny from my side.” Plagg snickered while Tikki smacked his arm.

“At least now they can finally be together.”

Plagg snorted. “More than a lot of the past heroes could say. Even the ones that were on the same side.”

“Mmmhm. I like this batch of heroes.”

The silence stretched between them, but it was not an uncomfortable one. They had spent long millennia together - there was not much left to say between them. Instead, they took comfort from their other half. Plagg stirred, eyes distant. Tikki could sense that he was deep in thought, but she was patient. She knew he would speak when he was ready.

Time passed - how much, she didn't know. Plagg spoke hesitantly. “Do you think… we made a mistake?”

She scrunched her face in confusion. “You can't be talking about Adrien and Marinette.”

He shook his head. “No, with the miraculous. Should we have let ourselves be bound to them?”

She considered this. She thought of Nooroo’s plight, of how often they had all shared a similar fate. Of having to watch each chosen grow old and die. The thought of doing the same with Marinette scared her in ways they hadn't in a long time.

But… they had protected the innocent. They had stopped evil - mundane and supernatural. They brought people together.

She realized that Plagg was waiting on an answer. “We were - and are - needed. Humans need heroes to look up to. I can't bring myself to regret our choice all those thousands of years ago.”

Plagg looked up towards the moon. “No… I can't either.” Without a change in his introspective expression, his stomach growled scarily loud. “Speaking of regret, I need cheese. Let's go back to the kids.”

Chapter Text

Breathing heavily, Nino frantically looked around the devastated area, trying to catch sight of his girlfriend.

He hadn't wanted to go to the site of akuma battles, least of all on a regular basis. But Alya did. She wanted to get the latest scoop. She wanted to be the first one reporting and with the most accurate facts on the matter. All to get closer to unraveling the mystery of the city’s resident heroes.

Nino didn’t care much about who the heroes are. But Alya did, and he loved her. Or at least he hoped so because it was already very stupid to follow her into danger like this, and it would be even stupider if he didn't have love as an excuse. He sighed. This wasn't what he envisioned his first relationship being like.

Before he could think on it further, he caught sight of her jacket and was running after her. If nothing else, this was doing wonders for his physical fitness, and he crossed the distance between them without straining himself much more.

He about tripped when Alya caught him, grinning wildly as she did so. “You’re off your game today, babe. I almost lost you.”

He crouched behind the car they were using as cover. “Nice try, but you won't be able to get rid of me that easy.”

She shook her head. “You know, I can do this by myself. You don't need to come along too.”

“Yeah, like I'm gonna leave my girl by herself in the middle of an akuma fight.” He rolled his eyes, despite her attention being entirely on the phone she was using to record the battle. Or, more specifically, Ladybug fighting. Shaking his head, he made a mental note to tell her about how Chat Noir is just as important and cool as Ladybug.

“I'm just saying I have things perfectly under-”

She was interrupted from finishing the rest of her sentence when Nino tackled her to the ground. A car flew over them. “-control.” She finished lamely. “Thanks.” She gave him a quick peck on the cheek and shimmied out from underneath him to dart into a more secure alley.

Blushing from the contact and the feeling of her underneath him, he adjusted his earlier musings. He was definitely in love with this clearly crazy lady. Sighing, he followed after her.

Once he was behind her again, he asked, “You want to get some coffee after this?” They already had one date ruined today, but he was determined to have at least one work out.

She looked over her shoulder at him to flash a smile. “Totally! It'll be nice to unwind at a cafe after this gets settled.” She turned back around. “Doesn't look like it'll be much longer.”

The villain was on his knees, already transforming back into a civilian. Ladybug threw her lucky charm - a stick of deodorant - into the air. A swarm of magical ladybugs fixed the city of Paris, just like usual.

….

When did my life become so weird?

Chapter Text

Chat was laying down on his stomach on her chaise, his tail swishing back and forth constantly. He was facing forward, towards her computer screen, where she was getting the first movie ready.

These little movie dates had become a regular event over the last few months. They'd meet about every week, commiserate about how they had failed to win the attentions of their respective loves, and then drown their sorrows in whatever comfort food was around. It had been a nice deal that they had going, but they ran into a little snag.

They seemed to have accidentally fallen in love with each other.

Marinette isn't certain when that happened for her, but one day she had realized while staring at Chat - well, first, she noticed she was staring. But after that, she realized that she got the same full, warm feeling in her heart when he was around that she did when Adrien was around.

Now, she was aware of Chat’s crush on Ladybug. It had taken her until he had admitted it to Marinette, but, hey, she got there. She knew the longing looks Chat would give her when he thought she wasn't looking. But it was only recently that she realized he was giving those same looks to Marinette.

She wasn't quite sure yet, but she knew they needed to talk this out. She’d just go and get the food first…

She suddenly straightened and whirled around to face him. “We don't have snacks!” She blurted out. Mentally, she smacked herself in the head. Smooth, Marinette. Very smooth.

His tail stopped its swinging and he looked up at her. Eyes widening, and a slight tremor to his lip, he said, “No… snacks?”

She shook her head. “We got cleaned out today. There aren't any leftovers like we usually have.” Chat eyes lingered on her for a moment longer before falling to the ground. She ran her fingers through his hair. “Don't be sad, kitty. I can go and make us some cookies.” And give myself some time to figure out how I'm going to approach this.

To her dismay, he jumped up, all playful smiles. “I can help!”

She held up her hands. “No, it's fine, you can stay up here.”

He shook his head, and grabbed her hand to drag her towards the trap door “No way! I've always wanted to learn to make cookies. We used to, years ago, but…” He trailed off, suddenly stopping. “...well, we don't anymore.”

“If you've done this before, then you know how to make them, kitty.” She knew her partner well enough to know when not to pry. He’d tell her in his own time.

“I never learned. I only did the frosting.”

His childlike enthusiasm wore her down. “Okay, okay! You can help. Just be quiet, my parents are sleeping.”

They made their way to the kitchen, and Marinette immediately began gathering ingredients. As she looked around for the confectioners sugar, she told Chat, “Get the stand mixer out, a baking sheet, a couple of bowls, a plastic bag and a pastry bag. Oh and a couple of spoons.” Chat complied wordlessly. They had already done plenty of these late night kitchen raids, and Chat was familiar with where everything was.

He returned with the last utensil, gently setting the stand mixer down. His eyes poured over the ingredients she had assembled. She watched his face, waiting to see when he'd realize what they were making.

“Hm… ground almonds, confectioner sugar, normal sugar, egg whites.” He cupped his chin while he tail swished lazily back and forth. Realization dawned and he looked up at her. “Macarons?”

Smiling, she nodded. “Ready to get started? We already have frosting, so there won't be much for you to do, kitty.”

He bowed. “Purrhaps but I can always watch the master at work, princess.” She rolled her eyes and began working on the batter.

---------------------------------------------

After pouring out the batter and watching it form the perfect circles, now came the hard part: Waiting. When she cooked them with papa, it usually took about an hour. Which meant she now had an hour to fill with Chat Noir.

She took a deep breath. Now or never… “Chat?”

He looked back toward her, head tilted in curiosity. “Yes, princess?”

In that moment, when she had finally decided to have a grown up talk about their feelings, those solid green eyes were melting her to the floor. She closed her eyes and rushed her words out so she couldn't chicken out. “IthinkI’minlovewithyoubutIalsothinkthatyoumightbeinlovewithme.”

After a few moments of silence she opened her eyes again to see Chat standing there, dumbfounded. A shocked smile tugged at his face. “You like me? Like like me?”

She groaned. Why did he have to say it like that? She nodded, struggling to meet his eyes.

Before she could really understand what was happening he had rushed forward to wrap her in a hug. “I was worried I was the only one! But I felt like I had to keep it inside because I was - am? - still in love with Ladybug.”

“Chat-”

“So I resigned myself to pining after two amazing, unobtainable women.”

“Chat.”

“Which sorta felt like cheating, but princess, I am so glad that you-”

She knew her silly kitty and as a result understood how hard it would be to get him to stop talking once he started. Running purely off the relief of high strung emotion suddenly unwound, she did the only thing she knew would grab his attention.

She pulled his face down to her level and kissed him.

His was surprised at first, but he relaxed into the kiss, wrapping his arms around her. Her eyes flew open and she pulled back. “Chat, I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to force myself on you like that-” Before she could finish, Chat had crossed the intervening distance and rested his forehead against hers, and pulled her close to him.

“Princess.”

She could be forgiven for not responding immediately since the intimate contact set fire coursing through her veins. After she could reliably put one thought in front of the other again, she responded, “Yes?”

He shifted slightly, mouth close enough to her ear that once he began speaking, his lips brushed against her earlobe. Which overall did not improve her situation. “Would you like to make out while we wait for our macarons?”

Marinette’s only response was a nod.

After two hours passed, kissing, talking, and cuddling, a half mad, tiny red deity phased into the room, screeching, “WHERE THE HELL ARE THE COOKIES, WOMAN?”

Chapter Text

Adrien usually considered akumas the biggest threat to him as Chat Noir. The events of today forced him to recognize that while that is probably true, he shouldn't underestimate more mundane threats.

He had been out on a solo patrol, since Marinette was busy working on a design for an upcoming fashion show. Normally, patrols are done to give citizens the sense of security that they are being protected. And before their reveal, it also gave Adrien quality time with his lady. Either way, it wasn't often that something actually happened during those patrols. They were, to Adrien, incredibly dull.

So when he saw three men with knives corner someone in an alley, he leapt at the opportunity. He beat them easily enough, but he had taken some hits to the face in the process. Now it hurt and he was bleeding, and Ladybug wasn't there to cure him with her miraculous power.

He couldn't go home like this. That would raise too many questions if someone barged in before he could get patched up.

Through the stinging pain, he smiled, and immediately regretted it. Ladybug might not be here, but he knew where Marinette was, and he knew she kept a well supplied first aid kit.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Not long after, he was on Marinette’s balcony, knocking on the trap door leading into her room. He could feel his face getting sticky from the blood, and was eager to get cleaned up.

Marinette popped her head out, a playful smirk on her lips as she turned to face him. “Silly Kitty, I thought I told you-” She saw his face and startled him by letting out a strangled screech. “Adrien, what happened?!” She pulled him down into her room.

He settled onto the chaise, watching her as she pulled out the collection of medical supplies from its hiding place. She paused on her way out of the room to push him so that he was laying down on the chaise. Sternly, she said, “Stay right there! I'm going to get a wet washcloth. Tikki, keep an eye on him, please.”

Bemused, he stared at the trap door she exited down. He looked over to Tikki, who was now floating near his face with concern. “What happened, Adrien?”

“There were some muggers on patrol. Some of them got some good hits in before going down.” He paused. “Does it really look that bad? It doesn't feel too serious.” He hadn't meant to scare Marinette like this.

“No. You have a couple of scratches that bled all over your face, and that probably freaked her out.” She looked him over. “She cares about you.”

“I know.”

“Like, a lot.”

He smiled (ow) and winked at Tikki. “Good to know we feel the same about each other then.”

Marinette chose that moment to return, washcloth in hand. She rushed to his side, dabbing it against his face. “How do you feel? Dizzy? Faint?”

It was hard to respond with the rag being pressed up at his face, but he managed. “I'm fine, really. It looks worse than it is, princess.”

Despite his consoling words, her worried expression didn’t soften until she had washed away the blood and found the wounds. This turned out to be two cuts, one just above his mask and the other along his cheek. She rifled around in her medical kit. While she was looking down she asked, “So what happened?”

After he filled her in, her expression turned sour. “You wouldn't have gotten hurt at all if I had gone with you.” She hunched over in guilt

He took one of her hands and placed it on his uninjured cheek. “Mari, you know nothing usually happens on patrol. You can't have known this would be the one time something did happen. And I am purrfectly fine. In a couple of days, I won't even have these scratches.” He turned his face to kiss her palm.

She smiled, and pulled out two band aids. Red with black spots, of course. She put them on his face and stood up. “Now, for being a good patient, I'll get you some sweets.”

Adrien wiggled in his spot in excitement. “Yay!”

Upon her return, he dropped his transformation and the four of them watched movies until the early hours of the morning, Marinette and Adrien falling asleep on the chaise.

Chapter Text

It was time. She was going to confess her feelings to Adrien.

She didn’t know where the hell this burst of confidence came from, but she was determined to make the best use of it. Looking over across the table, she took him in as he watched her with the patient, loving smile that she so adored. The candlelight of their romantic dinner gave a gentle glow to his features, and his hair caught the light and reflected it like glittering gold.

She set aside her science homework as she leaned her elbows on the table. Maybe I can indulge myself for a little bit longer… Adrien doesn't seem to mind…

In fact, Adrien was mirroring her own actions, leaning forward just as she had. Their eyes locked and she became lost in his vibrant green eyes. A gentle sigh escaped her and she purred his name.

“Adrien…”

-------------------------------------------------------------------

“Adri...en…”

The blonde boy in question looked up from his homework. His gaze passed over the half finished platter of cookies, the mess of books and notes, and, of course, Marinette. She was hunched forward, arms forming a pillow on top of a textbook. One pigtail had come loose, and she was drooling slightly.

He had thought that the drooling was just a normal part of sleeping. However, between her content expression and his name being whispered, he had a hunch it might be because of something else entirely.

The room was cozy and warm, a stark contrast from the heavy snow falling outside. They had long since discarded their over shirts, leaving then each in their t-shirts. If the snow continued like this, Adrien had been thinking, then I'd need to stay the night.

He leaned back and thought about how his friends had escaped what would certainly become an impromptu sleepover. This study session was supposed to include Alya and Nino. Unfortunately, they had gotten sick at the last minute. This left him and Marinette alone, especially once her parents had gone to bed. While she seemed to be bothered by this at first, she slowly became more comfortable with him.

And then she fell asleep.

He rested his chin on his hand, elbow propped up on the table, and watched her. He smiled as she muttered incoherently in her sleep. She is pretty cute. He reached out a hand to rustle her hair. While he did so, she stirred. In a voice still heavy from the dream world, she said, “Adrien…. I love… you.”

He froze. Did she just say....?

Bliss dawned on her face and his heart melted. He closed his book and got up. The table needed to be cleaned off, and he had to carry Marinette to bed. Maybe he could find a couch to crash on for the night. They could talk about her confession when they woke up tomorrow.

He smiled, humming as he got to work with these nocturnal preparations. He had never been so eager for morning before.

Chapter Text

“Hold still, Chat!”

Being good friends with the feline hero of Paris had a number of hidden benefits. She hadn't expected ‘good clothing model’ to be be among them, but here they were. She was putting a new jacket on him, and she was surprised at how well it fit. Maybe he wasn't lying when he boasted about having a similar physique to famed model Adrien Agreste.

She sighed at the reminder of who the jacket was for. Adrien had, impossibly, only gotten more handsome once they had started university. They had drifted apart, however, and barely got to see each other. The same went with many of her friends from lycee, with the exceptions being Alya (who she made time to talk with over wine each week) and, of course...

Chat Noir pouted at her. He grumbled, “I'm just looking around, Princess.” Nevertheless, he listened to her and stopped moving.

To her surprise, his late night visits didn’t simply continue after leaving lycee, they actually increased. Just as her time spent with Adrien dwindled, she started seeing Chat multiple times a week. Sometimes it was a brief conversation, but usually he was there long enough to watch a movie with her.

Or, in this case, help her with a project, which was as of now being zipped up by Marinette.

It was a great help that Chat’s suit was so skin tight. It allowed her to admire how the jacket fell on his shoulders, and how well it clung to his chest. Which she was just now realizing her hands were still resting on.

Chat seemed to notice this before she did. When she looked up, it was to see him giving her that playful smile that he was so well known for. “See something you like, Princess?”

The question, she knew, was meant to be a joke. But it suddenly reminded her of the intimacy of their position - there was less than a hand’s breadth between them. Her mind was empty of any witty retort about him being a flirt and was instead filled with just him. She bite her lower lip and looked into his eyes.

Surprise flitted over his face briefly before he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her, unresisting, the remaining distance to him. She didn’t expect her kitten to be so timid when it came to romance, but here he was. Holding her in his arms, but clearly unsure of what to do next, he paused in doubt. His eyes flickered between her own and her lips, a silent plea.

She wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled his face down to her own. Pressing her lips to his, she put his doubts to rest.

They stood there innocently for a few moments before she felt him smile against her. She pulled back just enough to speak, “What is so funny, Chat?”

He lightly shook his head, and she noted with some satisfaction that he was just as flushed as she was. “I was just wondering how long you've been wanting to do that.”

She rolled her eyes and pulled back a bit more to give him a flat look. “I don't stay up all night whispering your name, alley cat.”

Still smirking, he said, “Oh? I've seen the way you look at me, Princess.”

She choked and blushed. I was hoping he hadn't noticed. “W-Well! You pull off the, uh, skin tight leather look nicely, is all. Can't blame a girl for appreciating it.”

He laughed. “Thank you, but I was talking about my photo shoots. Like last week, for instance?” Last week? But that was the premier of the Agreste swimsuit line- Her jaw dropped as she stared at Chat, who was still snickering. “Yeah, it was a lot like that.”

In a scandalized whisper she said, “Adrien?!”

“Plagg, claws in.”

Before her now stood her childhood - and, honestly, adulthood - crush, Adrien Agreste. A tiny black cat floated off to the side. “I'll be over here once you two are done being gross.” Unerringly, he found Tikki’s usual hiding place.

She looked back at Adrien, who was still looking adorably smug. If he is Chat Noir, then that means for years he has been flirting with me as Ladybug. Her mind reeled with the sudden realization.

Adrien nodded. “I know this is a lot to take in, Princess.” He grinned. “But at least now the two men you've been ogling are one and the same.” He winked.

She cocked an eyebrow even as her heart fluttered. He believed he was holding all the sexy, sexy cards in his hand. A smirk worked its way onto her face. Two can play that game.

“Since you are Chat, I also know for certain that you ogle people in skin tight suits as well.” She placed a finger on his chest.

He gulped. “Well, ah, you shouldn't believe everything you see on the Ladyblog, ha ha.” He laughed nervously, obviously worried he had shot himself in the foot with this relationship that hadn't even started yet.

She smiled. Grabbing his chest, she pulled him back down to face level again. She said, “Oh no, I didn’t read this on the Ladyblog.” Her face slowly drifted closer to his. “In fact, you could almost say… that I… am intimately familiar with your staring…” Her lips were brushing up against his now. His face was flushed red, either from embarrassment or arousal, she couldn't tell. She held him there for a moment before she added, “Tikki, spots on.” After the transformation took hold, she pulled him in for their second, deeper kiss.

It would be the morning before they split apart again, despite moving all the way to her apartment's bedroom.

Chapter Text

Adrien watched with concern as Marinette and Alya verbally fought across the street from him. The noise of traffic and the other students drowned out what they were actually saying, but from their expressions it seemed intense.

His face fell into a frown. Adrien knew that they were about as close as he and Nino were. It had to be something serious if it got them both riled up so much. Then again there had been some sort of friction between them for the past couple of weeks or so. Whatever it was must have just come to a head.

Too late he realized he might not want to be gawking at them. Alya said something and that drew Marinette’s attention to him. Normally, she was very shy and unable to talk to him - he found it very endearing, if frustrating at times. None of that showed in the vision of rage that stalked towards him now. Despite her very clear anger, he was struck by the beauty behind the sheer determination in her eyes, which reminded him of someone else entirely. He clutched his bag protectively to his chest as she reached him, terrified that gentle, kind Marinette was about to thrash him.

Glaring, she said, “You wanna go?!”

-------------------------

It was no secret that Marinette had feelings for Adrien. This was excruciating clear to everyone except for the very person who she was in love with. This was partially due to his obliviousness, yes, but also because she couldn't muster the courage to actually talk to him.

Alya was patient… at first. But the weeks turned to months and now they were at the start of a new school year. With no progress to show for it, Alya was understandably a bit frustrated. After a few overly complicated plots from Marinette failed miserably, she snapped.

“Just tell him how you feel, girl!” She threw her hands to the sky.

“You know that I can't do that!” Marinette hissed back, like a cornered animal.

“Of course you can! It would be the easiest thing in the world! No phone stealing, no magic ice cream, no stalking! Just walk up and ask him to go out to a movie!”

“No! I'd just mess it up, and then I'd blow my chance with him forever!”

Alya’s eyebrow twitched. She didn't know what the hell went on in blondie’s head, but he was always incredibly patient with Marinette and her nervous babbling. Way beyond even what Alya herself could handle. That had to mean something.

Speaking of Adrien, she caught sight of him across the street, staring dumbfounded at them. She winced, suddenly aware of how public this argument was. Well… maybe I can work this to the advantage of team Adrienette.

Alya crossed her arms. “Look, I bet you don't just ask him out because you can't do it. You are too scared.”

She saw the familiar behind Marinette’s eyes. “I can too!”

Pointing across the street, she said, “Oh? Well he is right over there and I dare you to ask him out!”

Marinette took the bait, and stormed across the street, anger and competitiveness temporarily blinding her.

Alya followed at a more leisurely pace. She winced when she heard Marinette say, “You wanna go?!”

------------------------

Marinette’s world began collapsing once she realized exactly what she had said, and saw the shock in Adrien’s eyes.

Anger drained from her face, replaced by panic. “Out!”

He blinked. Opened his mouth. Closed it. Opened it again. “What?”

Wringing her hands, she said, “Out. You, you want to go out? With me? M-maybe to the movies…?” She deflated as she finished her sentence. She hanged her head, tears beginning to gather. I shouldn't have let myself get so riled up…

“Sure.”

Her head whipped back up. “What?”

He smiled gently and brushed away the nascent tears with his thumb. “Sure! You look like you could use a day of relaxation. My photo shoot starts at four in the park if you want to meet up there.”

She held her hands to her chest. “Y-Yes! You sound amazing. I mean! That sounds amazing! Thank you!”

“Cool! I'll see you then.” He winked and touched her shoulder as he passed by.

Chapter Text

“Pound it!”

The heroes of Paris were exchanging their usual post battle celebration, and normally she would stop to watch. It would often even inspire her to write some Ladynoir fanfiction. Today, however, Rose’s mind was entirely focused on finding her.

When the villain attacked, he had been taking victims seemingly at random. Bursting in on their hiding spot in a broom closet, he had ignored Rose. Instead, he had taken Juleka, pushing Rose to the ground when she had tried to save her. Before she could get up again, the door had slammed shut, and locked.

Rose had to stay there, sitting in the dark, afraid of what had happened to Juleka. An hour passed before she was freed.

The flood of magical ladybugs unlocked the door and Rose had burst out, worried for her friend. Now she looked around the open courtyard, hands held to her chest as her eyes darted over the scene. The heroic duo stood in the center of the space, waving at the crowd surrounding them. Many of her classmates were among the throng. She saw a flash of black and purple hair, and dashed for it.

On the opposite side of the courtyard she found her. She was standing in the shade, apart from the crowd but smiling and waving at Ladybug and Chat Noir. Juleka saw Rose before she reached her, and her smile grew even larger.

Juleka had expected Rose to be excited to see her, but she hadn't expected a flying hug to crash into her. Juleka barely managed to keep her footing when the Rose-shaped projectile latched onto her. Rose’s arms wrapped around her waist and her head rested on Juleka’s sternum.

Juleka brushed a hand through Rose’s short hair, speaking gently. “Hey… hey, I'm here, and I'm okay. Everything is fine.”

The two of them had tentatively feeling the waters for several months now. Neither had quite known how to progress their relationship, instead floating around the issue. And while Rose had never been one to conceal her emotions, she also hadn’t wanted to rush Juleka.

But now? After being terrified for what seemed like an eternity? She knew that she needed to let Juleka know how she felt, in as unambiguous a way as possible.

Eyes still faintly watering from held back tears she leaned forward and kissed Juleka. After a moment of shock, she leaned into it and kissed Rose back.

Chapter Text

Ladybug and Chat Noir stood on top of the Eiffel Tower, looking out over the breathtaking vista of nighttime Paris.

They found this boring. But that was nothing new - patrol nights were almost always pretty dull. Still, they often found ways to entertain themselves. In the month following the reveal of their identities and subsequent dating, it was something to look forward to. But even saucy make out sessions across Paris grew stale.

In boredom, Adrien had spun his baton in a particularly dexterous way. He caught it to find Ladybug watching him, eyebrows raised in admiration. Which immediately switched to annoyance once he grinned and bowed.

“Yes, yes, you can hold your applause, I realize that I am amazingly pawesome.”

She stood, pulling her yoyo out while she did so. “I think that you might need to be knocked down a peg or two, kitty.”

She began spinning her yoyo, forming complex patterns in the air as she switched between hands. All the while, she locked eyes with Adrien, a smug smile forming on her face. The yoyo stopped by firmly smacking into the palm of her hand, and she now bowed as mockingly.

Adrien clapped slowly. He was willing to admit when someone had outclassed him. “You realize what this means, don't you?”

His girlfriend giggle. “That I am at least as good as you in technique?”

Shaking his head he said, “No, it means you've just challenged me to a show off competition.”

“A contest you might have a chance at beating me in.” Her tone was playful, but her eyes had already set into that determined stare he had become accustomed to, both in and out of the suit.

She put her hands on her hips as he stepped forward to extend his staff.

-----------------------

Their competition had gone on for the better part of an hour, and the strain was beginning to show. It wasn't just physical, but a mental drain as well. At least, that is what Marinette would claim later, when she was trying to explain why exactly she thought what she was about to do would be a good idea.

Their tricks had become increasingly complicated. Despite her bravado from earlier, Adrien’s long hours of fencing practice had given him a decisive advantage in using his staff. Marinette had to substitute skill with daring.

She wasn't even entirely certain what she had been trying to do. Something about leaping between buildings and doing this weird two handed maneuver with her yoyo, which was presently hurtling in a different direction than herself. The ground was rising up to meet her and she braced for impact.

Which came from an unexpected angle - the side. She was now moving parallel to the ground and rising back up to the rooftops. A strong arm was wrapped around her waist. She sighed in relief. Chat had caught her.

They landed and Marinette was about to comment on how he won the contest - bitter as those words would be - but she didn't have the opportunity. He didn’t let go of her. If anything, his hold only tightened. His face was pressed onto the crown of her head, her entire view now being Chat’s neck and chest.

She pushed against him, her voice muffled by her partner. “Hey! Chat? Can you loosen your grip? You are freaking me out a little.”

He pulled back slightly to give an incredulous stare at her. “I'm freaking you out?! I just watched you almost crash against the ground!”

She gave an undignified squeak as he scooped her up to carry her bridal style. Leaping over the city, she had to shout to be heard over the rushing air, “Where are we going?!”

“Back to your place!”

“I'm not hurt, you know. I can walk just fine by myself.”

He didn't respond, and they reached her house shortly after. He was already dropping his transformation as he landed on her roof, and continued to carry her into her room.

----------------------------

Adrien was probably overreacting. He knew this, but he also couldn't help it.

He had always been very protective of his lady. He had long since gotten used to jumping in front of attacks meant for her. It was good that she was more than capable of defending herself, otherwise he might have become a nervous wreck months ago.

But things changed once they revealed their identities to each other. Ladybug had a name - Marinette. She was no longer an invincible figure that could do no wrong. Instead, she became human - all the more lovable, and all the more real. But more real meant that the dangers felt less like a game or a challenge.

Which reminded him that since their relationship escalated to be more than just partners or classmates, Marinette was the person he had the closest connection to. In that moment, as he watched her fall in slow motion to the ground, he thought he had lost her and that he was about to be all alone again.

All this, in his mind, justified the sudden bout of childish protectiveness. Although, Ladybug probably didn’t need or appreciate the blankets he had wrapped her in. He walked back up the stairs to her room, holding a platter with two steaming mugs and some cookies. Entering hesitantly, he flashed an uncertain smile her way. While making the hot chocolate, he realized he may have gone a bit overboard.

She still sat on her bed, where he left her. Two blankets have been wrapped cozily around her, leaving her head exposed. Her mask was gone, and Tikki was floating down to him. She whispered, “You better be careful, Adrien. You are on thin ice at the moment.”

“Thanks for the warning.” He gave her a cookie as big as she was and made his way to the unimpressed Marinette burrito. “Lovebug?”

She stared at him through narrowed eyes.

“I brought you hot chocolate?” He flashed her another uncertain grin, and held the platter forward. She glanced between him and the goodies. Sighing, she broke her arms free of the blanket cocoon, and grabbed a mug.

“You are ridiculous, kitty. I'm not some damsel in distress, you know.”

He retrieved her laptop and brought it up the ladder with him to her bed. He kissed her cheek as he settled down behind her, back against the wall. “I know, but that doesn't stop me from getting worried.” He paused and looked at the blankets again. “Sorry if I overreacted.”

She leaned against him, head settling against his chest. “It’s okay. I can't be mad at you being scared for me.” She nuzzled against him. “Especially since then I'd have to avoid cuddling you, and I don't want to do that.”

He placed an arm around her, his other hand opening the laptop on his lap. “So… what movie do you want to watch?”

Chapter Text

The suit chaffed, like it always did. Maybe it was his body’s way of finding something interesting in these parties. All the major designers and heads of fashion were here, trying desperately to network with anyone who could improve their station. Ideally, they would find the most powerful or influential person and cozy up to them.

A shame that he wasn't there, as always. Instead, they found their way to Adrien. He got tugged along, pulled into various cliques. They would introduce themselves, the names passing straight through his brain without ever stopping. He would smile and nod, engage in the polite conversation that was expected of him at these events.

On and on it went. Until the sun set and the party died down, when he could slip away. Not quite unnoticed - nothing Adrien did went unnoticed. It would be a struggle to get to the door, his politeness judo tested to its limits as desperate newcomers and seasoned veterans of the craft tried to stop him for conversation. All this, just to escape.

Success came and in barely any time at all he was home. He wouldn't have bothered to change out of his clothes, what with his deep desire to simply flop down onto his bed, but his suit was still itchy and uncomfortable. Minutes later, he was in his fluffy ladybug jammies, alone at last. Satisfied, he finally flopped down onto his bed.

Minutes passed. In the cold emptiness of his room, he reminded that he was just as alone here as he was surrounded by the movers and shakers of the fashion industry. He groaned.

“I feel ya, kid. I spend most of my time at those “parties” asleep and they are still way too boring.” Plagg floated onto his pillow and sat down, chewing on a hunk of camembert as he watched his chosen.

Adrien pulled out his phone and looked at the time. 10:53. And he was exhausted, but not tired. This was going to be a long night.

Through a mouth full of cheese, Plagg said, “Instead of sighing and moaning you could text your girlfriend or something.”

He sat up, a bit more alert now. “Do you think she is still up?”

“Kid, you of all people should know she doesn't have the best sleeping habits.”

True. Marinette almost always lost track of time when working on a new piece, or during patrol. He’d send a text to test the waters.

Adrien: Hey, Mari. You still up?

Minutes passed before he got an answer, but his phone did eventually ding.

Mari: Yup. How'd the gathering of the snooty brown nosers go?

He snorted, amused. Not a bad description, really.

Adrien: Exactly as well as I had thought.

Mari: That bad, huh? Want me to come over?

He started typing to say yes, but paused and bit his lower lip. She needed to work on her design. He was a grown boy and he had dealt with this stuff before. Erasing his previous message, he started again.

Adrien: No, I'll be okay.

Seen, but no response from her, so he sent another text.

Adrien: Yeah, I've got loads to keep me busy, so you don't need to worry about me, honest! ;)

The message went unread and Adrien lay back down. She must really be busy if she can't even look at that message. I must have made a good call.

After staring at the ceiling in the dark for a few minutes, he heard a tapping at his window. Dangling just outside, toes on the sill, was Ladybug. He scrambled to his feet and opened the window. She dropped in, giving Adrien a hug and a kiss on the cheek.

“Hey, kitty. Tikki, spots off.” The transformation melted off and Marinette let go of him, a warm smile on her face. She pulled out her phone and read his text. She slowly looked around the room shrouded in darkness. “Yeah, very busy, I can tell.”

He pouted. “I didn't want you to put off your dress more than you needed to.”

“And it's sweet of you to look out for me, but I'll make that decision myself. For now, my boyfriend needs company.”

She settled down next to him on the bed, both of them lying on their backs and staring at the ceiling as if it were the night sky. Their conversation was held in low whispers, and covered nothing consequential.

And yet… in the cool darkness of his room, speaking in a whisper about nothing… he felt at peace.

Chapter Text

He wasn't quite sure what he had expected when he sent that slightly angsty text to Marinette. Some comforting words, certainly. Perhaps she would even have called him to talk things out. He certainly did not anticipate her to arrive in costume, knocking on his bedroom window as she hung onto her yoyo like a rope.

Obviously, he opened the window as fast as he could, and felt the cool night breeze pour into the room. Summer was giving way to autumn, and the wind would soon start carrying some bite to it. For now, it was pleasant, and lightly tousled his lady’s hair as she, surprisingly, stayed outside.

“Marinette? Aren't you coming inside?”

She reached out a hand, smiling. “No, kitten. We are going out. On a date.”

“I should transform then, right?”

“Nope! Today, you are getting carried like the prince you are. Now come on. You could use some fresh air.”

She isn't wrong, he thought to himself. Another missed photoshoot. Another fight with his father. They butted heads more and more frequently these days, but Adrien was sure that was a good thing. He no longer wanted his life dictated to him. He wanted to be free. By the end of this coming school year, he would be.

He took her hand, and she pulled him into an embrace. “Now, hold on tight. I'll need both hands free for this.” He obliged, his grip on her waist tightening as he put his head on her shoulder.

Her yoyo returned to her and they were falling, only to be pulled back towards the sky in the graceful swings that he had always admired of his lady. He looked out into the city, a smiling forcing its way onto his lips. It was a different experience entirely when being carried, rather than moving of his own accord. He didn't have to watch where he was going, or plan out his falling arc. He could take in the splendor of the world laid out before him, sailing through the skies, wind rushing past.

The rushing wind which caused him to shiver. He should have brought his jacket. All he had for now was his lady for warmth. He snuggled into the crook of her neck. Smiling, he thought to himself, Oh no, how terrible. An excuse to stay close to Marinette all night. How will I cope?

After sailing over Paris for what felt simultaneously like hours and minutes, they landed on the Eiffel Tower. Adrien, ever the romantic at heart, felt his eyes water as he meandered around the open space. It was here that they had revealed themselves - their secret identities and their feelings for one another.

He felt arms wrap around his waist and a warmth pressing from behind. Giggling into his back, Marinette said, “Are you going to get teary every time you see the Eiffel Tower now?”

His fingers wove between hers. “Of course, my lady. But you were pretty tearful that day too.”

She shifted behind him, and she placed her chin on his shoulder. “Mhmm, ‘cause I knew then that I’d have to live with you puns forever.” She gave him a quick kiss on the cheek. To his disappointment, she drew back, taking a seat with her legs dangling off the edge. “So, what happened today?”

Heart full of joy, he took a seat beside her and they began to trade stories about their day.

Chapter Text

It was time.

Once, when all the stars and planets aligned, then the prophesied opportunity would happen. Her parents were out for the night. She didn't need to watch the bakery. She was fully stocked. No friends were coming over. No projects needed doing, no upcoming tests. Plenty of stress to melt.

The perfect storm.

She started by getting everything she would need. Salts. Her semi translucent bottle of pink bubbles. Lotion, from when she went shopping with Alya. Candles. Music - a relaxing playlist she convinced Nino to make for her. Hair tie. Phone. Towel. Bath cushion. The fluffiest pajamas she had… a gift from Adrien last Christmas. Adrien...

She vigorously shook her head, pigtails whipping back and forth. No! No boy thoughts! Only relax!

As she started adding the bath salts, Tikki floated over to her. “Wow, Marinette! You’ve got almost everything for a bubble bath!”

Marinette froze, doing a mental checklist. She was certain everything was here. “What do you mean almost everything?”

Big blue eyes looked up at her, opened as wide as they would go. “What about the platter of fresh cookies?”

Stronger willed mortals than her had broken under that stare. Patting Tikki’s head with her finger, she chided her kwami, “Tikki! You scared me. But I haven't started filling the tub, so I guess there is still time to make cookies.”

---------------------------

An hour later, and Marinette was back to preparing work. She turned on the faucet in the bathtub. Once it was hot enough to be uncomfortable, she let it start filling the tub. Tongue sticking out in sheer focus, she added bath salts. Gotta have those minerals.

That done, she sat with Tikki to pass a few minutes while waiting on the water to rise. She leafed through a fashion magazine. As with many of her magazines, this one prominently featured Adrien on the cover.

Tikki took a large bite of her cookie, glancing between her chosen and the cover. “How are things going with Adrien?”

Marinette let out a long sigh. How were things going? “I don't know, Tikki. We’re hanging out more and more, but that is always with friends. He is always so nice to me, but then again, he is really sweet, so it could just be him being himself.”

Tikki tilted her head and watched her over the cookie. “That’s true. But being around him more is a good thing, and being with friends means you are both more at ease, right?”

“I guess…” Once they had started going out as a group regularly, Marinette became more comfortable in his presence. She was almost completely over the stuttering by now.

“And it is also true that Adrien is a nice boy, but not everyone is treated so kindly. Remember all the times he pushed back Chloe? But he only ever seems to pull you closer?”

She thought back to their almost kiss for the school movie, and the dance at Chloe's. “You don't think…?”

Tikki took another bite of her cookie and gave her a sly look as she chewed. “It is a very real possibility, Marinette.”

Tikki looked past her at the tub, which drew Marinette’s attention to it. It was time for the core element - the bubbles, strawberry scented. She walked outside the bathroom, taking her reading material with her. It would be a while longer before the tub was filled.

------------------------

She returned to find the tub at the perfect level and turned off the water. Once she got in, it should be up to her shoulders. She left the bathroom one last time, allowing the water to cool and steam up the room and made her way to the kitchen to grab a large bowl. She took some of the fresh bath water into the bowl and placed it on the bathroom shelf.

Yet another reason why she needed to wait for her parents to be gone before she had a bubble bath. It would be hard to explain why she needed a bowl for her bath. But Tikki certainly appreciated a bubble bath as well.

Her hair was freed from the pigtails only to be drawn into a bun as she returned and undressed. The bath cushion was put into place, music was turned on, candles lit. Phone and towel were put within reach. And now, at last, she sank into the hot water and relaxed. A light splash from nearby told Marinette that Tikki had entered her own bath.

Her eyes had closed to take it all in, but she opened one to glance over at her kwami. “How is it over there?”

A satisfied hum answered her. “I see why you like them so much.”

They went without talking for long enough that Marinette was beginning to drift off. Which wasn't that difficult given the warmth, gentle illumination, and soft music. A splash from Tikki’s bowl drew her back to the present, and put a question in her mind.

“Tikki? Have you ever had a bubble bath before me?”

The seconds ticked past and Marinette thought that maybe her kwami had fallen asleep. She was about to call out again when Tikki responded.

“I remember in distant places relaxing in hot springs found in the wild, or waterfall oases. I remember opulent bath houses in ancient cities.” She giggled. “But I don't remember bubble baths.”

Marinette smiled into the faintly illuminated darkness. “I'm glad I could add something to the Ladybug tale then.”

“You’ve added much more than just fragrant hot water to my story, Marinette.”

She hummed in interest. “And what is that?”

“A friend.”

She shook her head, loose strands of hair coming loose. “Friendship doesn't sound too special, Tikki.”

Her response was interrupted by a yawn. When she spoke, it was with drowsy conviction. “A friend is always special.”

Chapter Text

It was cold and dark where he was. He stood on top of a hill overlooking a small house, and he was trying to reach it. Why, he didn't know. All he knew was that it was incredibly important he get to it.

The sounds of laughter drifted up to him as he made his way down the road. The yellow light of the windows beckoned to him, illuminating the stones and roots that made the route treacherous. Glancing down to secure his footing, he only tore his eyes from the house for a second, just one moment. He looked up only to find the simple pathway had become a twisting trail through a dead forest. The light was gone, and he was left wandering in darkness.

He began calling out, hoping to hear an answering voice. “Father? Mom?” No response. He searched deeper in his heart. “Nino? Alya?” Only his own voice, twisted by the echoes off the trees returned. The shadows felt like a thick liquid, sticking to him and drowning him. Digging deeper, he found the name closest to his heart and brandished it like a shield against the darkness. “Marinette!”

-------------------------------

Marinette was woken up by two things: Adrien’s tossing and turning, and her own name being spoken in a frightened whisper. She rolled over to see him curled in on his stomach away from her. His mop of blonde hair hide the upper half of his face, but even so she could see his face was a mask of pain and the channels that tears had taken.

She sat up and gently shook his shoulder. “Adrien. Adrien! You are having a bad dream.” He sucked in a deep breath and rolled onto his back. Sweat stained the front of his loose t shirt.

With the hand that had been on his shoulder, she brushed away the hair from his eyes. A flicker of a smile passed over her face. Messy like it was, she couldn't believe she hadn't realized her silly kitty and her model crush were one and the same. Worry kept the smile from staying as she watched his breathing level out.

“Do you want to talk about it?”

He looked up at her, and shook his head. “Maybe in the morning, but… I don't want to revisit it so soon.”

She nodded. He had told her he had frequent nightmares, but they had vanished once they moved in together. Well, almost vanished.

With surprising strength, she pulled him towards her, resting his head against her chest as she wrapped her arms around his shoulders. “Whenever you are ready to talk about it, kitty.”

He relaxed against her, his hands snaking behind her back. Hesitantly, he returned to sleep, lulled into dreaming by the comforting sound of her heartbeat.

There were no more nightmares that night.

Chapter Text

The akumatized villain wasn't far behind him.

He wasn't entirely certain why this woman had singled him out, and he hoped he hadn't done anything to cause her to be susceptible to Hawkmoth. But those questions would have to wait, for now he needed to lose her and find a safe place to transform.

Those were tall orders. She had been chasing him for ten minutes now, and it was getting exhausting. He didn't know when he had ended up on the roof of the building. The moment he realized that he was on the roof, with no apparent escape, he thought that was the end of it.

He turned back around to face the villain, slowly backing up as he did so. She called. “No more running, Gabriel’s boy.” Oh, so this was his father’s fault. Yay?

Before he could respond, he heard a familiar voice call out from behind him. Looking across the wide street, he saw Ladybug, the love of his life. Even if she didn’t realize it yet. “Adrien!” His heart fluttered. “Jump!”

Without hesitation he had leaped from the roof, only barely hearing the remainder of her sentence “...I'll catch you, oh you already jumped.”

Ladybug swung across and caught him in mid air. She didn't put him down right away, instead opting to put as much distance between them and the villain as possible. He started slipping and he put his arms around her neck. This drew out from Ladybug what Adrien could only described as a suppressed squeal.

Once they could no longer hear the angry screeching, they stopped in an abandoned alley. It might have been Adrien’s imagination, but she seemed hesitant to let go of him once they landed. The light blush, on the other hand, was certainly just him projecting.

“There! You should be safe now.” She turned away and stopped, yoyo still in hand. Concern was in her eyes when she looked back. “Are you… feeling alright, Adrien?”

He blinked, surprised at the question. “Well, tired from running away, but otherwise okay.”

“It's just… you were very quick to jump off that building…”

Suddenly he understood. “Oh! No no, I just trust you with my life, Ladybug. I knew you wouldn't let me fall.” He smiled at her. Hopefully, she wouldn't realize the reason he trusted her so implicitly then was because he did so on a weekly basis. That would be a heck of a way to reveal their identities. Not romantic enough.

She returned his smile, and her blush was definitely real. “Thank you for your faith in me.” She winked at him. “And if you see Chat Noir, tell him to get his tail out here!”

He watched her swing away. Once she was out of sight, he opened his jacket, letting his kwami out of the interior pocket. “Do you think she knows?”

Plagg rolled his eyes. “Well, kid, you weren't subtle. Even her biggest fans would hesitate before jumping off a bridge for her.”

Adrien shrugged. “Well, you heard her. Let's get our tail over there to help her. Plagg! Claws out!”

Chapter Text

They met within one of Notre Dame’s towers, safe from prying eyes. The bells tolled the last few hours before Christmas day, the heroes patiently waiting for the ringing to stop before they began talking.

Adrien readjusted his grip on the long package he was cradling. They had not met for patrol, instead Ladyb- Marinette, he mentally corrected himself - had wanted to do a gift exchange. But she wasn't holding anything, and her suit couldn't hold anything. She had even arrived before he had, so she must have had spare time.

Contrary to her normal self assured confidence while in the suit, she was avoiding his eyes and every time she caught his stare she blushed. Her hands were held in front of her, restless. When they learned about each other a week ago, she had become bolder with Adrien, and he had thought she had finally kicked this shyness.

What had brought it back?

He cleared his throat. “Merry Christmas, my lady.” He held out the package for her. She got a curious glint in her eyes and gave him a long, searching look.

“Am I?”

“I, uh, what?”

She took a few steps forward. “Am I your lady?”

He blinked. The endearment had become reflexive over the past couple of years, and he usually said it without thinking. But now that they knew each other - knew that they were closer than they had ever expected - it carried much more weight.

But was this an invitation or a warning?

She was still waiting for an answer that he wasn't sure of. Of course he wanted it to be true, but he didn't know if she felt the same. He never had found out who the mystery boy she had fallen for was, and he had hoped that finding out who she was would help with that. But Marinette wasn't crushing on anyone, as far as he knew.

He felt the weight in his hands and was grateful for the distraction. “So! Um, what did you get me for Christmas, my, my, uh…” Higher functions like speaking began to turn off as she stepped forward. She looked up towards the ceiling, and Adrien followed her stare.

He saw, high above, green leaves and red berries. Mistletoe? He looked back down into Marinette’s eyes, which were locked on him.

He let the package drop onto the ground - it was an Agreste brand dress, it would be fine. He crossed the final distance between them and wrapped his arms around her waist as hers found their way to his neck. Soon, their faces were close enough that it became all they could see in the world.

“Merry Christmas, Adrien.”

“Merry Christmas, Marinette.”

They were smiling too widely for anything more than a chaste kiss, but to them it was everything they could have hoped for and more.

Chapter Text

Nino was lagging behind the rest of the group. It could be because he was more heavily encumbered than the others. It was his first camping trip, and he hadn't known exactly what to bring and what to leave behind. But excessive weight from being a bit too prepared was only part of the issue.

Adrien - he was his bro, but damn him right now - was alert and perky despite the sun only rising a few hours ago. Marinette ought to have been in the same boat as Nino, as she was also a late sleeper. Yet, the presence of Adrien meant she was very much awake. It was like they fed off each other’s energy.

Alya was mercifully only a little bit ahead of him, but even she was starting to lose patience. “Come on, Nino! We’re really close to the cabin.”

Yeah. Right. The fabled cabin that she used to convince them to go camping in the first place. Nino wasn't about to set up tents out in the woods. He would appreciate nature and all that during the day, but when he slept he wanted nice secure walls around him, and a proper bed beneath him. He had begun to think that the cabin only existed in their hearts when they crested a hill to see it snuggly set into the surrounding woods.

Adrien and Marinette were waiting for them at the top of the hill. Adrien’s glowing smile faltered when he turned back to Nino. “You doing okay, bro? You don't look too hot.”

“That, my man, is because I am always cool.” Nino adjusted the heavy bag on his back. “Also this is heavy as shit. Come on.” With the end in sight, Nino took the lead for the first time that day. He reached the door first, only to have to wait for Alya to unlock it.

The door swung open and they got their first look at their lodgings for the next three days. The cabin mostly consisted of one large room, which had a fireplace surrounded by a couch and two armchairs, each covered with a plastic tarp. A kitchenette along the leftmost fourth of the room had a stove, sink, small refrigerator, and empty cabinets. Along the right wall was three doorways, which Nino knew from Alya’s descriptions led to two bedrooms and a bathroom. To the immediate left of the doorway was a closet. A thin layer of dust coated everything.

Marinette took this all in with an appraising eye. “Looks like we can't relax just yet. We’ll need to clean up first.” She set her bag just outside the door and tied her hair back into a ponytail.

The rest of them followed her lead, Adrien even attempting to put his hair up like she did. While he had let his hair grow longer in the year since leaving school, it wasn't there just yet. He pouted at the hair tie now lying in the dirt after it slipped off the sad and pathetic knot of hair it was holding.

Adrien and Nino went to the bedrooms while Marinette and Alya worked on the main room.

The bedrooms were a sorry state. The bedding needed to be aired out. Probably needed the dust beat out of them too. As for the blankets and pillows… well, it was a good thing they each brought one of their own.

Nino shook his head at the two beds in each bedroom, all designed for one person a piece. As they pushed the beds of each room together, Nino said, “Dude, it is a good thing we came as couples. The nights are gonna get cold and all we got for warmth is what we brought.”

Adrien chuckled. “If we hadn't already been a couple, we would have ended up as one with all the cuddling we are going to have to do.” He had a faraway look in his eye. “Not that I wouldn't have been doing that anyway. Marinette is just as cuddly as I am and I love it.”

He was happy for his bro. Really, he was. But he and Marinette had developed into one of those sickeningly sweet couples that were inseparable, always mere moments from being all over each other. Yet another reason he was thankful there were two bedrooms. The first reason being that he had privacy to that with Alya.

Adrien scooped up some of the sheets. “Come on, I think I saw some clotheslines outside.”

Entering into the main room, they saw that Marinette and Alya had found brooms and dust cloths. Already, the area was beginning to look less abandoned and more homey. Marinette said over her shoulder while in a flurry of activity, “Beating the dust out?”

“Yeah, how’d you guess?”

“Besides the dust everywhere else? We do something similar at the bakery, except with flour.” She stopped sweeping and turned to look at them. “Word to wise? That dust will get everywhere. Cover your mouths and noses while you beat it.”

Silence. Adrien’s lips curled in a smile. “Thanks for the advice on how to beat it, darling.”

Blushing red, Marinette tried to respond, “T-that's not what I-”

Nino cut in, “We get it, we get it. You just want us to be safe while we beat it together. No problem, I'll watch out for your boy toy, dude.”

She ignored them and turned to Alya, looking at her pleasingly. “Alyaaaa! Make them stooooop.”

Alya shook her head and put an arm around Marinette’s shoulders. “Alright you two, that’s enough.” Marinette sighed in relief. “Go beat it outside where she doesn't have to hear about it.”

Marinette groaned as everyone else laughed, but the boys did as they were told and headed outside.

--------------------------

An hour later, they were almost done cleaning the main room. Marinette was finishing wiping the kitchenette counter clean, as Alya folded the plastic tarps. Without any task left to occupy her mind, Marinette was free to think about the next few days.

It was just now occurring to her that they had gotten so swept up in the idea of going camping that they hadn't actually decided on what they were doing

“Hey, Alya?”

“What's up, girl?”

“What's around here?”

Alya set down the last of the tarps and crossed her arms, expression thoughtful. “Well, there is a lake about a half hour walk from here. And there are loads of trails that we could spend a few days exploring.” She held up a finger to interrupt Marinette. “And I love you guys, but I'm not spending all our time here hiking.”

The door swung open with a wooden creaking sound. Adrien and Nino walked in, covered in a light layer dust except for their faces. Adrien was grinning while Nino seemed uneasy.

It might have had something to do with the axe Adrien was carrying.

“Guys! Guys! We found a little shack out back with a bunch of logs in it. We can use them for the fireplace!”

Marinette looked from his eyes to his hand. “And the axe…?”

“Well, we still need to split the logs, right?”

This wasn't anything unusual, Marinette reflected. He got excited about little things, especially if they were new things, and especially especially if he got to do them with friends. Biting down on a sarcastic response about no axes in the house, she instead said, “Well, it is supposed to get cold tonight…”

Adrien looked beside himself with excitement, and Alya glanced between the two of them. “Well you kids have fun with that. While you exhaust yourselves with chopping wood, we’ll get the fireplace ready.”

--------------------------

Their friends always underestimated just how fit he and Marinette were. Then again, they still didn't know about their long careers as Ladybug and Chat Noir, so it could be forgiven. By the time they had cut up a respectable amount of lumber - without tiring themselves out much - Alya and Nino had only just finished clearing out the fireplace.

She blinked up at them from her spot on the floor. “Geez, already?” She stood up to flop down onto the couch next to Nino. “Go ahead and get the fire going then, girl.”

Adrien hovered nearby, watching Marinette start the fire. If nothing else, he wanted to learn how to start the fire himself. Within minutes, light and warmth filled the space, just in time for sundown.

Tomorrow, they would have power in the building. For now, they talked until the fire faded to embers and they dragged themselves to bed. Wrapped up warmly in blankets and each other, Marinette and Adrien were content.

--------------------------

Marinette woke up intimately tangled up with her kitty. Although, it might be more accurate to say that he was ensnared by her. She was holding him from behind, legs wrapped around his, hands linked at his stomach and her face nuzzled into his neck. And while she would have readily stayed like that forever, her stomach made a convincing argument to get out of bed.

Since her back was to the wall, and he was between her and the other edge of the bed, she had no choice but to wake him up. She decided to do so in a way that her fourteen year old self had very literally dreamed of.

Pulling herself to her elbows, she leaned over him and planted a big, wet kiss on his cheek. He scrunched his eyebrows together and wiped his cheek, but settled right back into place. He even backed up a bit, seeking her warmth.

She didn't let up. She followed the first with a second, third, fourth, fifth, got on top of him and pinned him with kisses. He woke up fully somewhere around the third or fourth and stopped squirming in favor of laughing around the seventh or eighth.

His voice muffled occasionally by her assault or his laughing, he choked out, “Mmf! Okay, okay! I'm - mmf! - I'm awake.”

She settled her chin against his chest, looking into his face. “You are supposed to say ‘You can stop now.’”

There was a glint in his eyes as he said, “Well, I know you don't like liars…”

She laughed and gave him one last kiss, this time on the lips. Rolling off him and onto the floor, she found her outfit for the days and started to get changed.

“Wow. That was obnoxiously cute.” The unimpressed voice of Plagg came down from the rafters.

“Well, I think it was just adorable. They are such a good match for each other.” Tikki’s voice wasn't far from Plagg's. Looking up, Marinette could see the kwami poking their heads out to look down at them.

Plagg snorted. “Yeah, the two cheesiest dorks found one another.”

Adrien, hands behind his head, smiled at his guardian. “Oh? I thought you liked cheese, Plagg?”

“Don't push it, kid.”

Marinette finished putting on her warm hiking clothes, and sat down on the bed to lace her boots. Adrien sat up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist, trailing kisses along her neck. “You know, we don't have to get up just yet.”

She smiled and got up, pushing her boyfriend back into the bed. “Yes, we do. We have a lot of ground to cover today, kitty. Now get dressed. I'll see what they are making for breakfast.”

The answer to that question ended up being ‘Nothing.’ Marinette was the first one out of bed. She got to work making some toast, thankful that the stove was working this morning. By the time Adrien was up and dressed, Marinette was finishing putting jam on the four slices she made. He sat at the kitchen counter and she passed a plate of two slices to him.

As he began eating, Marinette said, “Alya was saying there's a lake nearby. I was hoping we could walk the shore. Maybe we can go out on the water tomorrow.”

He swallowed. “Sounds good! Speaking of Alya have you seen either of them yet?” She shook her head. “I'll go knock on their door.”

Adrien returned before she could get very far with her breakfast. She looked up at his flushed expression. “What happened?”

“You know how I recommended we… stay in bed?” She nodded slowly. “They did.”

--------------------------

An hour later, the four friends were on the road. Although road may have been too generous - the dirt path, wide enough for two people to walk side by side, hadn't been traversed much recently. Fallen branches blocked it at times, and in places vegetation was beginning to take it back.

A persistent wind rattled the orange leaves and brought a chill with it. None of the four was bothered by it, between the exertion of the journey and the warm clothes. An amiable conversation did even more to keep the cold off their mind.

They made it to the forest lake in record time. The waters were still except for the slight ripple caused by the wind. On the shore was a small boathouse holding two paddle boats. A trail circled the entire body of water, with other paths leading off into other parts of the forest.

They stood admiring the sight for a few minutes. Alya spoke first. “Freak out! It is just like how I remember it being. We’d all come out here in summer, cool off by swimming in the lake, walk through the shade of the forest after a big meal.” She sighed contently. “Good times…”

Nino came up from behind , wrapping his arms around her. Putting her hands on his, she added, “It's nice to share it with you. All of you.” They shared a kiss.

Adrien cleared his throat. “So… where to from here?”

Alya looked over to her best friend’s boyfriend. As if he didn't indulge in some public affection now and then… “The trail wraps around the lake. We could take a lap around, and decide from there.” Hearing no objections, Alya led the way forward.

It was all how she remembered it. Once her parents had moved into the city, they had less and less opportunities to visit the cabin. Other family members borrowed it from time to time, but those big family vacations were a thing of the past. A thread of bittersweet nostalgia wound around her heart.

She looked beside her, and saw Nino keeping pace with her in front of the group. He was the most reticent to go on this trip, but now he was looking out at the lake with eager eyes and a spring in his step. Glancing back, Alya saw her best friend holding hands with her long time crush. Alya grinned. It had been a tough road, but she got those two dorks there. With some inside help, of course.

Focusing back on the trail before her, the nostalgia faded, replaced by excitement. She was eager to make more happy memories here.

--------------------------

“Oh my god, you’re fine, babe.”

She knew she shouldn't be too harsh on him. This wasn't something he was used to in his day to day life and hours of hiking could have their toll on a body. That being said, even he shouldn’t be having this much trouble with the trail.

Adrien put a hand on his best friend’s shoulder. “Come on, dude. We’re almost at the top. We can rest once we get up there.”

Nino groaned, but nodded.

The majesty of nature seemed to have worn thin with her boyfriend. Either that or the long hours of walking through winding forest trails was getting to him. She was thankful for the crisp fall air. Otherwise, he might not have made it even this far.

“Yeah, babe. There is a gazebo up here. We can relax for awhile. It is getting about time for lunch anyway.” She patted his back as they crested the hill, finding the gazebo housing a picnic table, just like she remembered.

While the others starting pulling out their meals, Alya leaned against the railing. The spot on the hill offered an excellent view of the surrounding forest. Since the opposite side of the hill ended immediately in a cliff face, her vantage point was higher than the trees, acres of orange and golden covering the landscape. The smell of lunch - jams and bread and all the other makings of their sandwiches - brought her back to the view behind her. Nino had collapsed gratefully onto the bench, backpack dropped on the ground and the man himself lying on the bench. She settled down and he pulled himself towards her just enough to lay his head on her lap. As she took off his hat to run her fingers through his hair, she addressed her friends across the table from her.

“How are you kids enjoying our little field trip?”

The couple she was addressing were leaning against each other, one set of hands interlaced as they ate their trail food. One thing she had noticed about them since they had started dating was that they clung to each other all the time. She should have expected it - both were touchy feely people, and were romantics at heart. Which is why it had been depressing watching them barely spend any time together due to jobs and university work. Giving them some days to spend together had been a major motivation behind this trip of hers.

Adrien, always quick to eat, was the first to answer her. In a monotone voice, he said, “The cabin was a mess, Nino wasn’t prepared for any of this, and it is cold, especially at night.” A few stunned moments passed before his face split in a grin. “I’ve been having the time of my life.”

Marinette rolled her eyes. “He loves cleaning, Nino’s shell shock with nature has been sad but funny, and he is a cuddler. The cold gives him an excuse.”

Adrien kissed the top of Marinette’s head. “She gets it.”

Alya looked down at her lap, “And what about you, babe? The outdoors kicking your ass as much as they seem to think it is?”

“No way, dudes. I can totally handle the great outdoors.” He sat up to lean on the table, smirking. “Buuuut, if I can do it from the comfort of the cabin, I think I’d be way better off.”

They shared a laugh, and Adrien spoke through his snickering, “Okay, man. We can go hang at the cabin. And...” He let go of Marinette to rifle through his backpack, eventually pulling out a deck of cards. “...I know what we can play when we get back!”

--------------------------

Adrien’s idea for poker was tossed out since no one had brought enough of any one thing for convenient gambling. But from his spot, seated on the floor in front of a fold out low-sitting table they had found, he continued to insist on playing some kind of card game.

“Guys! C’mon! What else are we going to do for the rest of the day?” He had become less persuasive as time passed, and now was just whining like a petulant child.

Marinette was crouched at the fireplace behind him, attempting to get some light and heat in preparation for nightfall. “Well, when it gets dark, I want to tell some ghost stories. The howling wind and flickering fire light would be perfect for it.”

“But that still means we have a couple hours before proper spooky atmosphere!” Nino was stretched out on the couch, lying face first into a pillow he had brought. Alya was reading a book she had brought, doing her best to ignore him. “Please? Play with me?”

Alya closed her book. “Okay, Adrien. I’ll play one game with you.” His eyes lit up in excitement. “But! I get to choose the game.” He nodded with enthusiasm. “It is called fifty-two card pick up. I’ll show you how to play.” She held out her hand for his deck of cards, which he passed to her. Ceremoniously, she removed the jacks. Adrien nodded - good sign so far. Then she shuffled the deck for a good long minute. His anticipation was building to almost unbearable levels. She cleared her throat. Presented the deck to him. And then…

Alya threw the cards into the air. They all came fluttering down onto the ground. “And now, you have to pick them all up.” She turned and sat back down at her spot on the couch, opening her book while she did so.

--------------------------

Marinette, fully invested in what she was doing, had not heard what was happening behind her. Once she had the fire started and felt warmth start filling the room, she turned around to see what everyone was up to.

She saw Nino, still face down on the couch, Alya reading her book. And she saw her boyfriend, her kitten, staring at the ground around him, which was littered with cards. She walked around to get a look at his face, and saw a stunned look of surprise. Then it all clicked. The scattered cards, Adrien’s giddiness to play card games, his present shock...

Marinette stepped in front of Alya. “You didn’t…”

She glanced up at her, with a small smirk. “You know how rare it is to get that joke to work, girl. I knew with his sheltered life he had never heard of it. And I was right!”

Marinette put her hands on her hips and glared at her best friend. “That was mean, he is just an innocent cinnamon roll who didn’t know any better. You are playing with this poor boy now. All of us are!”

She felt a tug on her shirt sleeve. She looked down into a pair of warm green eyes. “It’s alright, Mari, it was pretty funny. Unexpected, but funny.”

“Shush, I’m defending you. We are playing card games now whether they like it or not.” She knelt down to help Adrien pick up his deck. With a groan, Nino sat up on the couch and Alya put aside her book, again.

With her chin held in her hand, Alya sarcastically asked, “And what game will we be playing, oh lady of the deck?”

“Go fish.”

More groans, but when she looked to her side, Adrien was beaming. And that's all she wanted.

--------------------------

The hours were whiled away, the last rays of sunlight for the day spent on playing Go Fish. Despite their original resistance, Nino and Alya ended up getting into it, if only to keep up with Marinette’s competitive streak. But eventually, the last round was won, and they were free to tell scary stories around the fire.

Marinette - the stalwart protector of Paris - had a weakness for horror movies and ghost tales. Not a particular fondness for them, though she did enjoy them from time to time. No, while she could face any sort of enemy Hawkmoth could throw at them, whether it be friends turned foe or truly monstrous akuma, fictional danger always got to her. It baffled Adrien to no end, but he was always there for his lady.

Once the stories were done and (almost) everyone had a good laugh at the cheesy terror they told to each other, they parted for bed. Adrien was lying on his back, eyes closed and hand on his chest. The bed sunk as he felt a warm mass cuddle up against him. With their bodies pressed so close together, he could feel a faint tremor. Marinette was shaking.

He opened his eyes, which only increased visibility by a fraction. He scooped her up in his arms, “Still don’t like horror?”

She rolled onto him and planted her face into his chest, groaning. Chuckling, he rubbed her back.

“You could just… not suggest telling stories, or have left the room when we started?”

She lifted her head and although he still couldn’t see, he had been on the receiving end of enough of her glares to be able to perfectly envision it in his mind.

He lifted his hands in surrender. “Just a suggestion.” His hands returned to her back. They sat in the cool darkness until Marinette began to squirm.

She propped herself up on her elbows. “I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep until I get my mind off of this.”

“Oh?”

Her face became close enough to his for him to make out its online in the dark. He could feel her hot breath hovering near his mouth. “Mhmm…”

After giving her a quick kiss, he leaned forward to find her neck with his lips. “Well, I think I owe my warrior princess for defending my honor earlier…” His hands drifted lower. He squeezed and she squeaked in equal parts surprise and pleasure.

“Naughty kitty~”

Once they were finished, Marinette fell asleep spooning Adrien, horror and fear the furthest thing from her mind.

--------------------------

Nino woke up, which he considered a very poor move on his part. Light was streaming in through the window near the ceiling, insisting that the day had started. The bed was cold, which meant that Alya must have already gotten up. He opened his eyes, confirming his suspicions as he reached towards the bedside table where he had left his phone. A bit after ten. He blinked uncomprehendingly. What?

He had expected them to wake up much earlier. Then again, maybe they did, but they let him sleep in. His feet hit the floor and he dug around in his bags for a fresh set of clothes. Only one way to find out…

--------------------------

Alya was sipping at her cup of coffee when Nino walked in. A quick once over prompted her to pour a cup for him as well. She handed it to him as they reached the couch.

His voice was still groggy as he answered - he can’t have been awake for very long. “Where are the others?”

“They woke up super early, so they went to the lake to make sure the boats aren’t ruined or anything. They might also be getting wood for the grill, but knowing them they might get distracted.”

She saw the gears whirr and stutter in his head. “Distracted by what?”

Laughing, she responded, “By each other, doofus.” She took a sip of coffee, and pushed his thus-far untouched cup to his mouth. “They left us some breakfast, by the way.”

“About time we found a use for those early birds.”

“Yeah, yeah, eat up and we’ll go join them. Who knows what they’ll get up to without our supervision.

--------------------------

They found Marinette and Adrien at the lake, having surprisingly not gotten into any mischief. Alya allowed herself a grin as she figured they probably got it out of their system after they went to bed last night. She took in the state of the paddle boats, which were in surprisingly good shape. Judging from the scuffed and slightly dirty clothing of her two friends, she figured that they might have had something to do with that.

“Having fun you two?”

“The boats weren’t cooperating, but they should be fine now. What are we going to do with them?” Marinette’s tone was all business, but from her stolen looks at the lake and how warmly she had bundled up, she was clearly dubious about anything water related.

“Well, normally we come out here in the summer and the lake is really relaxing to swim in.” Marinette’s eyes widened. “But, the water is too cold to get in during fall. I brought some fishing poles from the cabin, and a nice, relaxing day of sitting in a boat on the lake would be a nice break, don’t you think?”

Adrien glanced between Alya and Nino. He wore a small smile as he asked, “This was Nino’s idea, wasn’t it?”

“One hundred percent. But! I’m still right - this will be a pretty zen day, and not all of us are in crazy good shape like you two.” She shot a suspicious look at the two of them, as if daring them to tell her their exercise secrets that doctors don’t want you to know. They remained tip-lipped, as always.

Nino, having recovered from his morning stupor, was eager to get started. “C’mon, dudes. I did hiking yesterday, we can do some super chill fishing today. Let’s get started!”

Each boat had room for two people, so the couples stayed together as the boats set sail. While the reasons for that may seem obvious, it was also because Alya and Marinette were the only ones to have gone fishing ever before. Admittedly, they hadn’t gone frequently, but they had some experience. The boats were relatively close to each other and the boathouse at the start.

Two things quickly became clear to Alya - first, is that Nino took to fishing like, well, a fish to water. He was the most at ease of any of them at being still, patient, and quiet. But the second was that Adrien and Marinette were definitely unsuited for fishing. They were very active people, and, once you get Adrien out of his reserved facade, they were both chatty.

Nino and Alya began to drift their boat away from the others, and after a couple of hours they were almost on opposite ends of the lake. Alya would look back after catching her third fish and noticed that they had landed their boat and gotten back onto the shore. What were they doing?

--------------------------

As it turns out, they were building a bonfire. Adrien had caught a bit of pyromania and wanted a fire all his own to tend to. Besides, his lovebug was cold and what better way to solve this problem than a big roaring fire? He puffed out his chest in pride while Marinette giggled at him.

Well, it wasn’t as big as he would have hoped. Nowhere close, really. Just slightly larger than the ones in the fireplace. He deflated a little. This was harder than he had expected it to be.

He sat down next to Marinette, on the bench that surrounded the circle of stones that they assumed was a firepit. She patted his back. “It’s a pretty good first attempt, kitty.” He smiled weakly. “And I’m warm now! So, mission accomplished.”

His smile became more certain, and he looked out towards the lake. “Geez, they’re still at it?”

“That’s probably for the best, since we didn’t catch anything. And some grilled fish sounds pretty good.”

He acknowledged this with a nod. He leaned back and breathed deeply of the fall air, reflecting on the day so far. Fishing was nice and all, but he had enough of being confined and still and quiet to last him a lifetime.

“Tomorrow, do you want to go out hiking again?”

Marinette was watching their friends out on the water. “Sure, but I don’t think Nino will want to go for it.”

“Probably, but I’m sure he wouldn’t mind some alone time with Alya either.”

“If they’re fine with it, then definitely.” He nodded along, pleased that he might be able to steal Marinette for a whole day.

The conversation slipped to swapping stories about their kwami, and the various mischief they’ve gotten into.

As promised, Nino and Alya returned with plenty of fish between them, already prepped for eating. They grilled on the fire and returned to the cabin.

--------------------------

They had returned much later than they had yesterday, and they had very nearly needed to resort to their phones to illuminate their way home. All the way back to the cabin, Alya had been hinting that she knew exactly what to do for the evening. Once they were back inside, they started to remove their jackets, but Alya stopped them.

“Woah woah woah! You might want to hold onto those.” She faced Adrien. “Blondie, give me your deck of cards.”

He dug them out of his bag again. “Are we doing more Go Fish?”

“Ha ha ha ha, no.” She began shuffling them expertly. “Remember how Adrien suggested poker yesterday?” They all nodded. “Well I’ve been thinking about how we could make it work. Then I realized - how about we do some strip poker?” She saw Adrien and Marinette pale. These poor, innocent children. “No nudity, but down to underwear should still be scandalous enough, no?”

To her surprise, they agreed. They gathered ceremoniously around the table as the first hands were dealt.

--------------------------

Nino put his hands behind his head as he pointedly looked his friends and girlfriend up and down. His victory was well earned, even if he had to enjoy it in an under shirt, socks and shorts.

Marinette had phenomenal luck, which always brought her close to victory, but rarely won her rounds. It was ultimately her competitiveness that became her undoing. She constantly attempted to one-up everyone else, and her lack of experience only worsened this. She was the first to have lost it all, and spent the extra time working a fire to stay warm.

It was this situation that helped Nino engineer Adrien’s downfall. He had started out cautious, but Marinette’s daring had eventually spread to him. Out of all of them, only Adrien’s poker face could compare to Nino’s stony expression, and it was incredibly difficult to read him… until he started stealing glances at Marinette after her defeat. Those moments between him getting flustered and resuming his poker face were all that Nino needed to chip away at Adrien’s slight lead. Once this was done, he had assured his bro’s fall from grace.

Which left Alya. She was about as threatening a player as Adrien. Sure, she didn’t have his passive expressions, but she did have plenty of experience playing normal poker with her big family. But that was her weakness - constantly one upping family members leads to hasty decisions, and a sloppy player. Much like Marinette, she would often coast to the end of the round - although with her bluffing instead of luck - only to crash and burn once called out.

He shuffled the cards while they shuffled nervously, getting a bit closer to the fire. Then Adrien had the audacity to strike a pose, which drew giggles from the girls. Soon, the tension dissolved and they were back to joking.

The final excitement of the day had worn them out, and they went to bed without fanfare.

--------------------------

As they had expected, Alya and Nino had plans to return to the lake for the last day. When Marinette and Adrien woke up, they sent out for the trails immediately, leaving the other two to head out at their own leisure.

They made good time, only needing to keep pace with each other. Two hours later, they were well into the forest, past the point they had explored two days prior. As they took a shortcut up a steep incline by climbing the cliff, Marinette asked, “Who knew that moonlighting as superheroes would be such a good workout routine?”

He looked over his shoulder at her. “I can’t believe we’ve gotten to the point in our lives where we can use the word ‘routine’ when taking about saving Paris from supervillains.” They shared a barely winded laugh as they finished the climb.

The path they were following continued on into the forest, but it was the cave not far off it that drew his attention. The mouth of the cave was wide and surprisingly clear of debris, excluding some sticks and branches that had somehow found their way into the entrance. He could tell that the cave went deeper, but he had no idea how deep it went.

Adrien looked back at Marinette, who had crossed her arms and was looking right back at him.

“Do you think we could-”

She interrupted him decisively. “No.”

“But, my lady! Who knows what we could find down there?”

“That is exactly what I was thinking. I’ve seen one too many horror movies that start out like this, kitty. I don’t want to become one, especially since we left Tikki and Plagg behind at the cabin.”

He inclined his head - she had a point. It seemed like a good idea at the time - all the couples should have a day to themselves, their kwami being no exception. Besides, they were far enough out that if something did happen, they wouldn’t be able to get help quick enough. With a sigh, Adrien let himself be led away from the cave.

--------------------------

Alya and Nino made their way out to the lake sometime around noon, long after their friends had left to canoodle in the woods. Or whatever it was they had intended to do - Alya was content to leave it up to them. Her days of meddling in Marinette’s love life were mostly over now that they had finally gotten together.

She boarded the paddleboat, and her mind was drawn back to the present once she realized they had forgotten something. “Uh, Nino? Don’t we need to fishing poles?”

There was a sparkle in his eye as he turned to her. “Not for what I have planned, no.”

She leaned back and crossed her arms in front of her while Nino take them further out the lake. “And what, exactly, do you have planned, babe?”

Instead of a response, he began singing. Deliberately badly. In Italian. All while paddling the boat, except now he was doing it with dramatic, over the top motions.

She ran the gamut of emotions. Surprise was an early contender. When did he learn Italian? This faded momentarily into annoyance - What the hell does he think he is doing? - but gave way to simply being impressed and touched.

He wore himself out after a while, but it set the tone for their day. The hours passed in bliss. They might have continued sailing on the newly christened love boat for the entire day, but the light rain that arrived threatened to worsen. They hurried for the only shelter - the boathouse - making it just in time before the heavy rains came in.

Nino look at her with worry. “Do you think they’ll be okay out there?”

She nodded and tried to put more confidence in her voice than she felt. “Oh sure, there is plenty of shelter out there. Like that gazebo? They’ll be fine.”

--------------------------

When Marinette felt the first few drops hit the top of her head, she knew they might be in trouble. The last suitable cover they’d seen was a half hour in the opposite direction, and the trees would only help them so much. “Adrien? Do you feel that?”

He briefly caught her eyes before looking up at the skies, only to quickly have to avert them due to the sprinkling rain. “Yeah, I feel it.”

The rain began to pick up, and they started to jog. Marinette could feel the rain start to soak into her jacket. She shivered as the wind picked up again.

“We definitely aren’t close to the cabin, and we can’t reach anywhere else in good time. What are we going to do?”

“I think we’ve wound back around to a part of the trail we’ve been to before.”

“Really? Which part?”

He looked back with a grin as he pointed, past the trees and foliage, toward a cave entrance. She sighed.

--------------------------

“I don’t think this storm is going to let up anytime soon, babe.”

Nino wasn’t about to argue with her. If anything, the rain had only worsened, with occasional flashes of lightning chased with thunder lit up the sky. He came to a decision. “We need to run to the cabin.”

Alya whipped around to face him. “What?! We’ll get soaked!”

He held up his hands in a calming gesture, but kept his gaze steady. “Marinette and Adrien are still out there, dude, and they have it way worse. We gotta make sure a fire is going by the time they get back, so they can get warm as quick as they can.”

She seemed unconvinced. “We could just wait out the rain, and so could they!”

“We got maybe like three hours of daylight left, and this storm doesn’t look like it’ll let up too soon. Who knows how far out they went?” He could tell she wanted to argue, but they both knew their best friends too well. “The road back has got some nice cover. We should be fine. Mostly.”

She threw her hands in the air. “Okay, fine. Let’s go.”

--------------------------

Adrien watched the rain from the relative comfort of the cave. He had always enjoyed the sound of rain growing up. The soft pattering against his windows during the night had never failed to put him to sleep growing up. He could do without the booming thunder, though.

He turned back toward the main area of the cave to see Marinette poking at the fire they had made. Despite their dash for shelter, they hadn’t escaped untouched. Hopefully by the time the rain died down, they would be dry again.

All they could do was wait, so he sat down next to her, close enough to feel the warmth radiating off her over the heat of the fire. Patting her back, he said, “I’m sorry today turned out bad. I didn’t think the weather would turn on us.”

She leaned into him. “Silly kitty, we’ve been in worse situations than this.” She kissed his cheek. “The trip to the cabin might be rough, but if we head out just when the rain starts to let up, we should make it before nightfall.”

He blinked. He hadn’t even considered that they might be too far out to get back with this delay. Then again, she is always the one thinking ahead in battle. Except now they fought nature instead of akumas. “I’m glad you’re with me, Marinette.”

“Aw, right back at you, Adrien.”

A comfortable silence fell over them. Adrien stared into the fire, deep in thought. Eventually, he broke the quiet. “I’ve really enjoyed this weekend.”

“Mhmm, me too.”

“Just having you next to me during the night has been wonderful.”

She giggled. “Yeah, I bet you’d say that.”

“Not just that, but now that you mention it…” They shared a laugh followed by a kiss. “But, what I’m saying is, we don’t get to do that a lot.”

“Right…?”

“What if we moved in together.”

“Adrien…”

“Hear me out! I know you don’t like me spending money on you, but we could get a nice little apartment that we can split the bill evenly on…” He was gesturing wildly, as if he could shape it out of thin air.

“Adrien.”

Still staring at the fire, he was unable to bear looking at her in case she wasn’t going for it. “But it doesn’t matter what sort of apartment it is, so long as you are there...”

She put her hands on the sides of his face and directed him back at her. “Adrien!”

“Y-yeah?”

“Yes. I would love to move in with you.”

He felt his eyes widen and his heart melt. His dream of going to bed every night with her there was starting to become reality. In a small but excited voice he said, “Really?”

“Yes, you dumb cat. But we can talk about that later, okay? First we need to get out of the storm.”

Suddenly, the storm didn’t seem so bad anymore. Not with what he had waiting on the other side.

--------------------------

Nino stood up from the fireplace and began to get changed. He didn’t feel any need for modesty since his friends hadn’t arrived yet, but that brought with it a set of worries all its own. There wasn’t a lot of daylight left, and the chances of them getting back in time were starting to narrow.

Alya, who had already discarded her wet clothes, was pacing. She suddenly stopped and looked at the window, where the dying light shone through. “We should go out and look for them while there is still some light left.”

“Then all of us are out there in the darkness and no one benefits.” He walked back over the Alya, having managed to get a fresh pair of pants on before being interrupted. “You gotta trust them. Even if they get caught out at night, you know they’ll be able to make it back. They have their phones, they have each other. What else do they need?”

High in the rafters, two immeasurably ancient beings nodded to each other and set out into the woods.

--------------------------

They trudged through the forest, Marinette clinging to Adrien’s jacket as they walked. She didn’t get frightened easily, but this entire scene reminded her of the scary stories told two nights ago and she didn’t want to lose track of her boyfriend like in that tale. It… didn’t end well for either protagonist.

The light of their phones provided a cone of harsh white illumination in front of them, but the moon was new and everything beyond those cones was shrouded in darkness. The only sounds that reached their ears was the wind through the trees and the squelching of the mud under their boots. Occasionally, an owl could be heard.

To take her mind off the eerie quiet, Marinette asked, “How far out do you think we are?”

“Well, it took us like half an hour to get out here, so on foot prolly like two more hours.” A familiar voice coming from Marinette’s shoulder startled her and she instinctively reached out to grab it.

She opened her hand to find a floating black cat there. Adrien excitedly called out to him. “Plagg!”

A red blur rammed against her cheek. “And me!” She felt a shower of tiny kisses. “Your friends were worried, and so were we! We came out to find you.”

“But… how?”

“You still have your miraculous on. We just followed our instinct for home.”

“Awesome! Well, now we can transform and make our way back.”

“Wait! Even as Ladybug, you can’t see in the dark. I’ll transform, and I can carry you back.”

She huffed, but couldn’t find a fault in that argument. A few minutes later, she was sailing over the forest, her arms around Chat Noir’s neck and his hand on her back. She stared up at the skies, marveling at the stars she could never see in Paris.

--------------------------

After a tearful reunion and many shared hugs, they could at last go to bed. Today had been the most exhausting one for everyone - either physically or emotionally. They drifted off into a deep, dreamless sleep and were well rested by the morning.

They hiked back to where they parked the car and headed home. They would look back on this trip fondly as they crafted their plans for the future.

Chapter Text

Nino stepped out of his house in his best clothes and as well groomed as he was going to get, having spent the last two hours getting ready for his date. There was a spring in his step as he reflected with pride that he only called his best bro Adrien four times for advice or reassurance.

He just wanted this date to go well, especially considering that the last few times he and Alya had tried to go out, they would be interrupted by an akuma. But not this time. He felt it in his bones - this time, he’d be able to treat Alya to the stress-free night out that she deserved.

With hope for the evening running high, he started his walk to bus stop. With how early he was leaving, he should beat her to the restaurant, no problem.

He made it ten steps before he had to stop. An old man was getting angry with the bus driver for demanding exact change. Nervousness pounded in his chest. If this kept going, the old man might get akumatized into some super villain, probably one that said stuff like, ‘exacting revenge on Paris.’ Then she’d have to cancel their plans, and the date would be off. Nino moved to intervene.

“Woah, dudes, I can cover him. I have enough for a ticket right here.”

The elderly man’s face cleared of anger, and he thanked Nino profusely.

Waving at the departing bus, Nino exhaled deeply. Okay. So I’m walking to the restaurant. I left way early, so I should be on time.

-------------------------

As he turns out, he was on time. But she was early. Annoyance shifted into relief when she caught sight of him.

“Where the hell have you been, Nino? I thought for sure you were going to beat me here.”

For a brief second he considered telling her about the situation with the old man, quickly deciding against it. He gave her a quick kiss. “Sorry, babe. I missed the bus. Ready for our dinner?”

Arm in arm, they slipped into the restaurant. Their table was unfortunately still in use, so they had to wait for a while longer before they could be seated. They passed the time catching up, exchanging stories from the last couple days, and news about the city. Alya had snagged an editorial position for a local newspaper, her years of work on the Ladyblog paying off.

“You know, Hawkmoth’s been pretty quiet recently. I hate to say it, but I bet we’re due for an akuma soon.”

Just as she said this, he caught sight of a customer shouting at a waitress, who seemed to be using her serving plate as a shield. The poor girl - probably mid-teens - was on the verge of tears. From the frayed hair and packed restaurant, it must have been a hell of a night. She rushed off to the balcony, clutching her tray to her chest.

“I, uh, I need to go the bathroom, babe. Be right back, okay?”

“Sure, I’ll just check on the Ladyblog while I wait. Hurry back.”

He went as fast as he could through the restaurant, trying to catch up to the stressed waitress before Hawkmoth could turn her into the Hatetress or something. Serving up Paris on a silver platter, which would probably be her akuma. Then he and Alya would get immediately caught up in it, probably trapped somewhere while the Hatetress said a pun. Nino shuddered. The puns were always the worst part of the akuma attacks.

It didn’t take long to find the girl wracked with tears. He leaned on the same railing she was, and when he started talking, it jolted her into the present.

“Dude, I feel you. I worked in customer service for ages. But let me tell you the best part - now you get to mock them with your coworkers for years. He will live on as the guy you imitate in a high-pitched voice forever.”

They stood there for a few minutes, Nino doing his best to draw laughter out of her. After all, Nino found that being able to laugh at a problem was the first step to letting go of it. Once she had pulled herself back together, he returned to Alya.

“Sorry that took so long.”

------------------------------------

Once they got to their table, their waitress came and started to ask for their orders, only for her and Nino to freeze when they saw each other. It was the same waitress as before, but before Nino could do anything, she smiled and continued on with what she was saying. She introduced herself as Nicolette.

The afternoon went beyond expectations for Nino, especially with Nicolette doing her very best to make sure they were well taken care of. After a delicious meal and a complimentary dessert, they were back outside, making their way to the park for the fireworks show. The date - and the day itself - was almost over, and nothing had gone wrong. Nino let his guard down.

This was a mistake.

But not immediately. The universe took its time before trying to ruin their date for the third time that day, having learned from its mistakes. It was an hour into their romp around the park when the universe made its move.

The yelling and screaming was their first indication of something wrong. When the akumatized villain showed his head, Nino knew the date was over. He hanged his head in failure, but Alya called out to him. “Hey, babe! Can you watch my back while I get some footage of this for the Ladyblog?”

Nino grinned. Maybe the date wasn’t a bust after all, so long as he was still side by side with the love of his life.

Chapter Text

Marinette tied the bundle of goodies from the bakery together in a cloth which she then placed in a wicker basket. Cliche? Perhaps. Romantic? Definitely. And the romantic gesture alone would do wonders to help Adrien recover from whatever it was that he had. Sometimes, she thought that he was fueled more by gestures of love than by food and sleep. It certainly seemed that way during this last season of back-to-back modelling sessions.

It had taken a few hours to get everything she had needed from her parents’ bakery. Which isn’t to say that it had taken so long just to get everything baked and ready - neither of them were slouches. But they were very nosey and wouldn’t let her leave until she had filled her in on the latest goings-on in her life. As she approached her move to an apartment for university, they seemed to be trying to get as much snooping done as possible while she was still in the house. She love them, but once the questioning let up and she had her basket of goodies, she bolted out the door.

The trip to the Agreste mansion - soon to be inhabited by only one Agreste, rather than two - was a short and uneventful one. She stood resolutely in front of the gate monitor, staring defiantly at it. Eventually, the voice of the elder Agreste came through, wary and brow-beaten.

“Marinette Dupain-Cheng. And to what do I owe the pleasure of this visit.”

Her eyes narrowed at the camera, where she knew Adrien’s father was looking down at her. “I’m here for the boy, Gabriel. Someone has to take care of him.”

There was a long silence as she felt his glare even if she couldn’t see it. But this was a duel that they had fought many times, and each time she had gotten her way. They both knew he couldn’t outright oppose her without risking revolt from his normally-compliant son. With a growl - both human and machine - the gate swung open and the camera retracted.

She strode confidently through the gates, across the courtyard, and into the mansion. Natalie glanced in her direction before quickly looking away. The Gorilla (who, Marinette had learned in her years of visiting the lavish estate, was named William) and they shared a polite nod to each other, in solidarity to being victims of Gabriel’s dickish ways. He stood out of her way as she entered Adrien’s cavernous room, where the goal of her quest lay in bed.

His normal healthy glow, perfectly calibrated by his father for maximum market appeal, was replaced with a sickly pallor. His hair, which he grew a bit longer these days, spread out over his pillow as though he were floating underwater. Which he may as well have been, for all the sweat he was covered in. Her heels clicked loudly against the stone floors, echoing across the room. His eyes flickered open and despite his clear distress, he managed a smile.

“Heeeyyy, my lady.” He spotted the basket she was holding in her arms and he weakly tried to sit up.

She picked up her speed, the rhythm of the clicking intensifying as she reached his bed. A hand on his bare chest, she gently pushed him back down. “Woah there kitty. Let me grab you some pillows first.” She pulled back a moistened hand. “Maybe a fan too.”

Once he had more support and some air circulation, she placed the basket on his lap and pulled his swivel chair from his desk and over to his side. He had already reached the cloth, and was undoing the knot she had tied to keep it all in place.

“Now, I grabbed a bit of everything from the bakery, but I made sure to place a few extra chocolatines in there since I know how much you like them.” Speaking more loudly and not exactly at Adrien, she added, “And some camembert treats as well for ‘us’ to share.”

This was the cue for Tikki to emerge from her bag and Plagg to fly out of the trash can he was hiding in. Marinette picked out the goods in question, placing them on the cloth, which she handed to the two kwamis. They carried the cloth between them to the desk, where they began setting up a little picnic.

Plagg looked at Adrien as he floated away. “You better marry her at some point, kid. She is definitely a keeper.”

The stricken bearer of the cat miraculous gave a thumbs up and croaked out, “I’m working on wooing her as we speak. It’s only a matter of time before she falls for my roguish charm.”

She giggled, and brushed the damp hair out from his face. “How are you feeling, my kitten?”

“I’m feeling better already, bugaboo.” She raised an eyebrow at how rough his voice sounded. “...It looks worse than it is.”

“I’ll need to have words with your Father about all these modelling sessions. Again.”

His laugh was gravelly, but genuine. “I don’t think he’s recovered from the last time. Besides, he just wants to get as much out of me as he can before I’m done working for him.” He snaked his hand into hers. “Which works for me, since that's all the more money we’ll have for our apartment.”

“Are you sure you are going to be okay staying at home? I don’t want you to give up something you love…”

“It’s not something I love. At least, not until I’ll be modeling your lines, of course.” He gave her very Chat-like wink. “I think I’ll like the role of homemaker until then.”

A warm smile lit her face as she looked at her sick, exhausted kitty who, nonetheless, was staring up at her with all the love in the world.

Chapter Text

There is something to be said for the power of names. The thought ran through Adrien’s mind as he watched the morning ritual of Alya and Nino meeting outside of school.

The two almost never arrived together, with Alya walking with Marinette and Nino with Adrien, but nearly every school day they met up on the steps of the school before heading in. First, they would notice each other. It was almost uncanny how they seemed to spot each other simultaneously. Nino would gave Adrien a pat on the shoulder and a couple of finger guns as he left his side. Alya would part from Marinette, usually with the latter watching the reunion with a wide smile.

They’d rush to close the distance between them, embracing at the midpoint. And each time, they’d call out to their partner.

But never with their actual name. No, then this wouldn’t have been something that stuck out in his mind so much. Everyday, they’d call out to the other with a nickname. Most days, it was something simple and utilitarian, like ‘babe’ or ‘sweetie.’ Some days, it was more… inspired. Like the day after Nino had royally messed up a date, and Alya had taken to calling him, “DJ Dumbass.” Regardless of what name was called, he could feel the affection behind them.

Which brought him to Marinette…

He wasn’t sure when he had fallen for his pigtailed classmate, but by now it was clear to him that he had. Everyday, when his best friend embraced her best friend, he watched Marinette. She was happy for them, sure, but he could tell what she was really thinking. It was only confirmed for him when she’d see her eyes glance toward him, then quickly look away. Why can’t that be us, he could hear her think.

For the past week or so, Adrien had been gathering up his courage to ask her out, and was wracking his mind to come up with the best name to help seal the deal. When his told this plan to Nino, he was… less than understanding. Nino simply chuckled and told him to ask her out anyway, she’d be more than happy to say yes regardless of what he called her.

It was in this situation that Nino and Alya let go of one another and Nino called out, “Yo! Marinette! Adrien has something he wanted to ask you.” Adrien’s jaw dropped as his best bro gave him a thumbs up and bolted inside, his chuckling girlfriend in tow.

They nervously approached each other. At least Marinette was used to being awkward around him - being flustered was a fresh experience for Adrien. He desperately tried to think of anything - anything - cute to call her. That’s when their eyes met, and he became lost in a sapphire ocean.

With an awed whisper more common in high holy temples than in front of public school, he breathed, “Marinette…”

He was struck by realization. What could be a more pretty name to call her than by the name that was unique to her? That he associated so fully with such compassion, charm, and beauty?

With more confidence than he felt, he started again. “Marinette. I have something I want to ask you…”

Nino was right.

She said yes.

Chapter Text

Dragging her feet, Marinette trudged into class and took her seat. Chloe’s no doubt thrilling commentary on her appearance fell on deaf ears as she put her bag on her desk. Her head soon followed after it as she watched the rest of the students file into the classroom.

With great difficulty, she registered that Alya was trying to talk to her. Groaning, she made the effort to pay attention to what she was saying. “Girl, what did you do last night?”

Oh, you know. Woke up at three in the morning by the maniacal laughter of the latest villain, took an hour to defeat it, then tossed and turned for the remaining few hours before class. The usual. How about you?

Marinette snorted. She couldn’t say that, of course, so her sluggish mind was left to dig out another excuse to satisfy her friend. “Working on a new project. Lost track of time.” Alya rubbed her back in sympathy.

“Poor baby. At least you can look forward to the sunshine prince.”

As Marinette was enjoying her impromptu back massage, she heard Nino say, “Woah, dude, you’re looking pretty rough today.”

“Thanks for sparing my feelings, bro. But yeah, I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night.” Adrien took his seat, Marinette managing to get a weak groan of approval out at his arrival.

Before long, class was starting, and the real struggle began. She felt herself slipping into unconsciousness, and so tried to find something more stimulating to focus on. Thankfully something fitting the bill was sitting right in front of her. As the teacher’s voice faded into a monotonous drone in the background, her entire view became a blur of Adrien.

----------------------------

They were standing in an open meadow, the warm weather having allowed them to shed their usual jackets. The full potency of the late spring sun shone down on them, causing his hair to glimmer like gold. The sunlight reflected off him so well that he was almost painful to look at, but Marinette was willing to grin and bear it to see his flawless smile. She couldn’t hear him, but she could see his lips forming her name as they leaned in close to one another.

The moment stretched into infinity as she called his name, “Adrien…”

----------------------------

“Adrien…”

The rest of the class had left. Alya was going to stay behind, but once she saw who else was trying to wake Marinette up, she wished him luck and left with Nino. This meant that the only one to hear Marinette’s whisper was Adrien himself.

He had just placed his hand on her shoulder, gently shaking her and saying her name. Instead of waking, she had answered by calling his, the last thing he had expected. Now he was blushing, tiredness evaporating under the weight of the yearning her voice had carried. He didn’t know what to do, but he couldn’t leave now - he was the only one here for her, and even if he wasn’t, he wasn’t about to leave a friend behind.

He kneeled down so his chin was resting on his folding arms in front of her, his face level with hers. Slowly becoming more insistent, he repeated called out her name until her eyelashes began fluttering. She stretched and yawned. Absently, she said, “Good morning, Adrien.” She froze in the middle of her stretch and stared at him.

Smiling, he responded, “Good morning, Mari. Want to go get some coffee with me?”

Chapter Text

The cool air of the winter night rushed past Adrien’s face numbing it as he gracefully bounded over the rooftops of Paris. He always landed without a sound, and always hit the ground running. The exertion helped him forget, helped him clear his head. During the day, his life wasn’t his own. Today especially had been full of flashing cameras and his micromanaging father, searching for any flaws his heir might be hiding. But he wasn’t Adrien at night. He was Chat Noir.

He paused to catch his breath and while gulping in the bracing air, he caught a familiar scent. It wasn’t recent, but rather an odor that had been so frequent that it seeped into the very stones of the building. The smell was of bread and sugar and chocolate. Belatedly, he realized his midnight jaunt had landed him across the street from his girlfriend’s home. While he would love to stop by, it was late and she would definitely be asleep…

...Or so he thought, until he found her window, cocking an eyebrow at the light that softly permeated the curtain pulled across it. So his princess was still awake. Lime green light illuminated his face as he pulled out his baton to check the time. A hiss escaped his lips upon noticing it was three in the morning.

Well, He thought to himself as he made his way to her balcony, after I get her to sleep, I’d better be off to bed as well. While he wouldn’t need to be particularly perky for tomorrow’s show - he was merely attending it, rather than being a part of it - his father wouldn’t see it that way.

He landed next to her trapdoor and knocked their special code to let her know it was him. After a few moments, Marinette cracked open the hatch. Even accounting for the terrible lighting from below, she looked in bad shape.

Dark circles surrounded her eyes, which she struggled to keep open as they adjusted to the darkness. She wore a black hoodie that she had stolen from him near the start of fall. The oversized article’s sleeves had been pulled back, as had her hair, which was tied into a bun.

She rubbed at her eyes, failing to stiffle a yawn as she asked, “Hey, cutie. What’re you doin’ up?”

“I could ask you the same thing, lovebug.” He slipped past her and climbed down the ladder. A glance around him confirmed his suspicions - a mannequin with a mostly-finished dress on it sat in the middle of her room. Sewing supplies were arranged haphazardly around it, the area immediately around the mannequin miraculously clear of debris. All in all, it looked like the aftermath of either a rocking tailor party, or an oddly fashion-conscious tornado had passed through.

At least the dress looked nice, but, then, so did all of her work.

She climbed down after him, her response quiet due to exhaustion. “I had to get the dress done.”

“But why?”

“Cuz it was mocking me.” She glared at the mannequin. “Being all not done and stuff.”

He shook his head. “You need to go to bed, Marinette.”

She pouted and took a step forward to get closer to her work. “Nooooo… I’m almost done….”

Hugging her from behind to stop her, he responded, “And we both know if you keep messing with it while you’re like this, you’ll regret it in the morning.” He kissed the top of her head. “Go to bed.”

“Noooo….”

She didn’t resist as he scooped her up and carried her princess style to her bed. It was only the stubbornness that he so adored in her that kept her up at this point, but even that was quickly crumbling as he tucked her into bed. He freed her hair from the bun and gently ran his fingers through it while she mumbled with her eyes closed. He hummed softly until she stopped, then got up to leave.

As he was halfway out the hatch, he felt a tug on his tail. With only her head poking out of the blankets, she had snagged his tail and was looking at him with lidded eyes.

“Stay?”

Mentally, he performed some quick arithmetic. On the one side was his father and a very important social gathering for the company. If Adrien stayed here, he would get a tongue lashing from his father, and probably get grounded. Somehow. Despite being eighteen and almost out of the house anyway.

On the other side, was Marinette, who would probably be asleep soon regardless of what decision he made. He took a deep breath, having made up his mind, committed to his course of action.

He slipped between the covers, her arms settling around his shoulders as he nuzzled against her clavicle. The top of his head was warmed by her rhythmic breathing, and the steady beat of her heart carried him off to sleep.

Chapter Text

“Hey, bugaboo? You almost ready for bed?”

It hadn’t been that long ago since they’d moved in together, but they settled into each other’s daily habits and nocturnal rituals remarkably easily. They hadn’t been dating for much longer - one year anniversary in a couple weeks! - but with their camaraderie as Ladybug and Chat Noir, plus their civilian friendship, it felt as if they’d been together forever.

She walked out of the bathroom in sweat pants and a tank top, hair bouncing along freely with the spring in her step. Seven weeks of sharing a bed with Adrien Agreste, and every night she couldn’t believe how well it had all worked out. She bit her lower lip when she saw him scoot over to let her onto the bed. The years of modeling had certainly done wonders for him, and that was all out on display for her every night since he loved to sleep shirtless. Whether that was because he preferred it, or because he knew she liked it, she didn’t know.

But the best part was seeing his face light up as she entered the room. He was practically glowing as she slide into bed with him, his bare arms snaking around her and pulling her close for a kiss on the cheek. She giggled at his touch and kissed him back before turning off the bedside lamp.

Laying on her back, Adrien latched onto her like a lifeline, resting his head on her chest as his arms wrapped around her and his legs snaring one of hers. In the darkness, she idly played with his Chat-like mess of hair - it is so damn silky smooth - until eventually sleep came for her.

------------------------------------------

Sliding gently out of unconsciousness, she awoke in the middle of the night. There was a strong arm around her waist and puffs of hot air washing over the back of her neck. Her hand reached behind her head to find that same soft mane she had fallen asleep appreciating. She shifted backwards pelvis-first, quickly bumping into what she was looking for with a grin.

One of the things she had discovered over her years of being Ladybug was how poorly she handled the cold. And I hadn’t even dealt with it well before that! It got so bad that back when she was in lycee, she’d even broken down and purchased an electric blanket. It had served her well in the following years.

Right now, that electric blanket formed the bedding of the little den she had made for their kwami to sleep in. Once Marinette and Adrien were together, their kwami had become inseparable. Even now, they were curled in upon each other just like their chosen were.

There was no need for the blanket any more, at least not for her. She rolled over to bury her face into Adrien’s neck, her arms resting against his chest, and their legs tangled together. As she listened to her sun prince’s deep sleep breathing, she reflected that he was all the warmth she could have ever wanted.

Chapter Text

“Oh come on, Chat! Please?”

His tail flicked back and forth as he stood cross-armed in the middle of the room, ears splayed against his head, and looking away from Marinette. He grumbled, “I don’t want to.”

“But I need to know how it looks like on a person! A mannequin can only show me so much.”

Marinette was sure that whatever Chat had expected when he had knocked on her trapdoor, it hadn’t been for her to pull him inside and beg him to model for her. At first, he had seemed amused, then panicked. For now, he had settled on petulant.

Hand to her mouth, she thought about what she could possibly offer the feline hero of Paris to get him to reconsider. A growl broke the silence. Wide-eyed, she looked at Chat, who had begun blushing. Smiling, Marinette offered, “If I feed you, will you work with me?”

He opened his mouth to argue, only to have his stomach growl louder and cut him off. After a moment’s consideration, he nodded, “Okay, okay, fine. I’ll lend my well-honed skills to your quest, purrincess.”

“Grooming yourself in the mirror all day doesn’t count as modeling experience, alley cat.” She walked out of the room, closing the door before he could respond.

After a few minutes, she returned with a platter of croissants - surely enough to fill up a hungry superhero, even if he was a teenage boy as well. While he nibbled his way through the pile, she took some quick measurements of Chat Noir. She nodded in satisfaction - the two matched pretty well, so if it fit on him…

Through a mouthful of chocolate croissant, her prospective model asked, “Why does it have to be me again? Didn’t you say you had a model friend?”

Absently, she responded while getting the clothes out. “You mean Adrien? Well, this is a surprise gift for him. I can’t exactly have him model it ahead of time. Plus, you two have really similar body types.” Even with the super suit, this should fit perfectly. Thank the kwamis that the suits are skintight.

Chat must’ve scarfed down a croissant too quickly, since he descended into a coughing fit. After a few minutes and Marinette patting him on the back, he recovered. Red in the face (presumably from the choking), he weakly asked, “That so? What’s the occasion?”

She would never doubt Chat’s courage. However, after watching him immediately reach for another baked good while tears were still running down his face from choking on the last one, she did have reason to doubt his intelligence. Even more so when her response triggered another coughing fit.

“I’m going to give him this and then ask him on a date.”

Watching him chug down the glass of water to help recover, she commented, “Are you going to be good now?”

“I, uh, didn’t know you felt that way about him.” He followed her gaze when she looked at the walls of her room, where most of the available space had been covered by Adrien’s face.

Deadpan, she said, “I guess it never came up.” She picked up a jacket - not too different in form to the one Adrien often wore, but definitely her own in style. “Here, put this on.”

As he did so, he asked, “So… what do you see in model boy besides a pretty face?”

She sat back in her chair, deep in thought. “Well… I’m usually a mess around him, but he’s never made fun of me for it yet. He is incredibly patient and kind - somehow he can even stand Chloe for more than a few minutes at a time. He is just… the sweetest boy I’ve ever met.” Looking at Chat, she could see a small and genuine smile on his face. She grinned. “Plus, have you seen him? I call him hot stuff for a reason.”

Chat’s face flushed beet red, and she shot him a curious look. “You okay there, Chat? Cat got your tongue?” When the pun failed to draw a reaction out of him, she grew worried. “Chat? What’s wrong?”

“I… I have something to tell you, Marinette.”

“Okay…?”

“Claws in.”

It was thirty minutes before Adrien got her to stop screaming - even if the screeching was too high-pitched for him to hear, it probably wasn’t healthy. Then it took him another ten minutes to get her to stop hitting him, and calling him a stupid alley cat. It was after a comment about how they weren’t supposed to reveal their identities to civilians that things clicked.

He hugged her until she calmed down and they spent the rest of the day in each other’s arms.

Chapter Text

He was sure that hadn’t been part of the plan. How could it? She nearly froze to death in the icy grip of the akuma - most of her body coated in a layer of frost. They had cut it so close, her shivering arm was barely capable of lifting the lucky charm of the hour - a pair of gigantic, fluffy earmuffs she had given him to render him immune to the Snow Queen’s song.

When the swarms of magical ladybugs set everything right, the only thing they didn’t fix was his memories of the close call. So he could be forgiven for not reciprocating their usual post-akuma fist bump.

Maybe it had just been because it was late fall, or maybe it was as he feared - that she hadn’t fully recovered from the akuma of the day. In either case, when she held out her fist, he watched a shiver quake her body, reminding him of the deathly chill that had almost taken her. Instinct took over and now he was carrying her bridal style over Paris. It had all happened too quickly for Ladybug to offer more than a surprised squeak of protest.

A few minutes later - including some unfortunately necessary running about, to throw reporters off his trail - he landed in Ladybug’s home, just as her transformation wore off.

“Adrien, what the hell was-”

Before she could finish her sentence, he was wrapping her in blankets.

“Adrien, I’m fine, you don’t-”

He leapt down from her bed, rushing out of the room to make some hot chocolate. Even through the closed door, he heard a frustrated groan and something that just might have been, “That cat…”

Thankfully, her parents weren’t at home. From what he remembered, they were out making a delivery. Or maybe it was catering? In either case, he could make some drinks as Chat Noir without having to answer any questions. His lady was waiting, after all, and although he had become a semi-regular at the bakery, they might put two and two together after he left with Ladybug in such a hurry.

As quickly as possible, he returned to the room, where Marinette was attempting to extract herself to the tune of light laughter from Tikki. Her kwami smiled widely as he climbed the ladder.

“Hello, Adrien. That better be good hot chocolate, or you might be sleeping on the chaise tonight.”

Holding out one cup to his girlfriend, he responded to Tikki while looking at Marinette. “I never make anything less than the finest hot chocolate in Paris.” He dug out the small bag of cookies he had snagged from the bakery below. “And the Dupain-Chengs make the finest cookies - we are a killer team in and out of the kitchen.” He handed half the cookies to Tikki. “These are for you - thanks for getting her through that mess. Now it is my turn.”

After a reapplication of blankets that left her with only a bit of motion with her arms and hands, she pouted, “I feel like I should have a say in this.”

He set up the laptop she kept near her bed, having it play a movie in front of them. Crawling behind her, he set his hot chocolate down on the plate with the cookies, and wrapped his arms around her. With a kiss on her cheek, he responded, “You’ve been overruled, princess.”

Marinette looked to Tikki for support, but she nodded. “It’s true. You both could use some warmth and comfort after that fight.”

Marinette rolled her eyes, but relented. “...Okay, fine. But at least get under the covers with me.” Her voice was slightly distorted by the rumbling purr reverberating in Adrien’s chest.

After a slight adjustment, the three of them sat back and watched the movie.