Written by PaperandInk (Emery)
Ladybug swung from rooftop to rooftop, a continuing mantra of “Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!” running through her head. She couldn’t believe that she had just embarrassed herself in front of half of her friend group. Actually, the sad fact was that she could believe it. It wasn’t exactly something new for her. The only saving grace was that Adrien hadn’t been there to see the spectacle.
She came to a stop on a ledge to allow herself a moment to outwardly groan at the memory of the event playing through her mind on repeat. “Why?” she asked looking skyward.
She moved to step forward and get a running start when she lost her footing. The sensation of falling backward made her stomach lurch. A little yelp squeaked out of her throat as a sheet of canvas broke her fall. Before she could relax, momentum caused her to bounce and send her flying out of her makeshift hammock. She went sailing out of what she quickly realized was a canopy over the entrance to a shop and just as she shifted her weight to land on her feet she crashed into someone, knocking them to the ground.
Ladybug recovered before the unlucky civilian did and looked up to find that she was sprawled on top of Adrien Agreste of all people. “This can’t be happening,” she bemoaned.
“Sorry?” he replied, rubbing the back of his head and wincing.
Ladybug’s eyes went wide with horror as she scrambled backwards to let her crush up. “No! I’m sloppy! I mean, sorry! Well, I guess my footwork was sloppy. That’s why I fell.” Stop talking! Her jaw clicked shut as she consciously forced herself to stop babbling. She tried for an apologetic look as she reached out a hand to help him up.
Adrien took her hand as his signature charming smile graced his lips. “Thanks.”
“Again, I’m really sorry about falling for you- on you!”
“It’s okay,” he said with a laugh that sounded like a choir of angels. “I’m more concerned about whatever you’re on your way to. Is there an akuma?”
Ladybug looked away, unable to meet his gaze as she remembered the earlier humiliation and her speedy escape as Ladybug just to get some distance as fast as possible. “No! No, akuma. I was just dealing with something, but its all taken care of. A local schoolgirl was in trouble at the public pool.” She smiled, impressed by her own smooth, half-truth.
“What?” Adrien said in disbelief, his eye widening. “My friends were at the pool today. I was just heading over. Is everyone okay? Was Chat Noir there to help?”
“Oh, uh… yeah, everyone’s fine! I umm…” Come on, Ladybug, you got this! It can’t be that hard to lie to Adrien Agreste! She opened her mouth, unsure what she was going to say, but was cut off when Adrien put a hand on her shoulder and gently led her to step off the main walkway. A group of people passed by right where they had just been. She looked at where Adrien’s hand was still resting on her shoulder. Her face went warm.
Adrien jerked his hand away as if he had just been burned. “Sorry,” he muttered, face going red.
Ladybug cleared her throat. “Your friends are fine. It wasn’t anything big. It was a small thing. So, small that I didn’t even need Chat Noir!”
“I see,” he said, a deep frown settling on his face.
She was certain she could hear her heart breaking at the sight. “Not, that I don’t need Chat Noir! That’s not what I’m saying at all!” That frown didn’t disappear, only became more confused. Why am I messing this up? I’m not usually this flustered when I’m Ladybug…
She put her face in her hands. “I don’t know what I’m saying.”
“I hope I’m not being too presumptuous, but do you want you go for a walk in the park? That usually helps me clear my head.”
Ladybug looked up to see Adrien smiling again. Suddenly, everything seemed more bearable. She nodded.
They walked across the street to the park and began their stroll. It was weird walking beside him while she was in costume. She had always imagined having a moment like this with him, but as Marinette not Ladybug. Not that she was complaining.
He looked over at her and lightly bumped her shoulder. “So what’s going on? You can tell me.”
A blush warmed her cheeks and she tensed up automatically. This was Adrien Agreste and she was Ladybug. I’m a super hero. He shouldn’t be able to get to me like this.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to…” he trailed off and rubbed the back of his neck uncomfortably.
He’s nervous too…
“It’s okay. I… there was no emergency or danger.” She didn’t know if it was a good idea to tell him, but in that moment it felt right. It felt like she could tell him anything. “I kind of embarrassed myself in front of a lot of people at the pool… as a civilian, not as Ladybug!” she rushed to clarify.
The memory flashed through her mind again. She had slipped and fallen into the pool, then flailed around in a panic. Kim had jumped in to save her, but when he’d pulled her out he got caught up in the heroics and tried to give a very conscious Marinette CPR. She had gotten startled and screamed, only drawing more attention to the situation. Then Ondine had yelled at Kim for trying to kiss another girl. All of this, in front of Nino, Alya, Max, Juleka, Rose, and Luka. Marinette had run out and transformed just to get away.
She didn’t tell Adrien all of this. It would be too identifiable, but he seemed sympathetic. “I ran out of the situation and transformed into Ladybug to run away,” she finished. “It feels kind of silly now.”
“I don’t think it's silly,” he said with conviction.
They stopped walking and turned to each other. His eyes were a sincere bright green that Ladybug was sure she could get lost in if she allowed herself.
“I’ve done the exact same thing,” he continued. His eyes widened and he opened and closed his mouth several times, before blurting out. “I- I mean, I would’ve done the same thing if I’d been in your shoes! Being a super hero, which I’m not, seems to have its perks. Why not take advantage of them?”
Ladybug couldn’t help but laugh. She hadn’t realized Adrien had such a great sense of humor. She shouldn’t be surprised. “You make a good point.”
Her eyes caught something over his shoulder. It was several people packing up equipment into cases. “I wonder what was happening over there.”
Adrien looked over his shoulder behind him. “Oh, that was my photoshoot. The photographer let me finish early so that I could meet my friends at the pool.”
“And I prevented you from going!” she exclaimed in horror. “I am so sorry! Here I’ve been going on about my problems-”
“It’s okay, really!” he tried to insist.
She wouldn’t allow this to happen. He barely gets to hang out with friends as it is. “I’ll take you! I can swing you over there right now and you can still spend time with your friends.”
He looked at her strangely and it dawned on her what she had just suggested. I just asked Adrien Agreste if he wants me to carry him through Paris so that he can go swimming. He must be so insulted.
“If you don’t want to I understand! I wouldn’t want-”
“Okay.” He took a step closer.
Ladybug swallowed hard. Had he really just agreed? Was she dreaming? She had to be dreaming. “Okay.”
Her heart felt as if it was going to beat out of her chest as she wrapped her arms around him and scooped him up. He looked at her. His face was inches from hers. He smiled, looking almost too pleased with himself. The expression was familiar but she couldn’t place it at the moment.
“To the pool,” she said, voice squeaking with nerves.
Ladybug threw out her yo-yo and she felt Adrien’s grip on her tighten as they were pulled into the air.