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Under the Mask

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“I know…I know who you are.”

Panic. That was the first thing Ladybug felt shivering down her spine. But Ladybug was not supposed to panic. Ladybug was a hero. Ladybug wouldn’t let anyone get the best of her.

“What?” She asked, hoping she had misheard. Her face was a blank slate. She could hear him shifting around behind her, clearing his throat, the metal of his boots scuffing the shingles below.

“I know your civilian identity,” Chat Noir clarified.

Rage. It coursed through her veins, warmed her blood. A million thoughts flew through her head. How dare he? She told him not to pry, to keep their identities separate! How could he betray her trust like this? There were a million things she could say or do, all of which Tikki would chide her for. No, she needed time to think. To breathe. She pulled out her yoyo and swung away.

“Wait, Ladybug! We can talk about this!” He called, following her rooftop over rooftop. They had worked together long enough for her to know how easily he’d keep up. Although she liked being in high places she decided to swing down into the streets, hoping to lose him between buildings. She set off into a jog, running between alleys. His yells got quieter. Just when she was sure she lost him and walked out into a dark street, he ran up to her, stopping to catch his breath.

“Don’t…be…afraid,” he said between gasps. She narrowed her eyes. Afraid? Ladybug didn’t have fear, especially not when it came to lying, spineless, cats. He met her gaze and must have seen something there because he took small steps away from her. Ladybug seethed. How dare he run away? Before her thoughts could come together, her yo-yo whipped out, catching him. His eyes widened as she strung him against a nearby lamppost. He had a silly grin stretched on his face.

“Wh-what a cat-ch. I’m shocked,” he punned, causing her to pull tight enough for him to wince. She didn’t let up, even as she stepped closer.

“Don’t throw those shitty puns at me,” she snapped. His eyes widened, unused to her profanity, unused to her anger. “You’d better start talking chaton.”

“W-well I w-was bound to figure o-out that you—“

“No names!” She interrupted. “I don’t want to hear you say it.” He opened his mouth and closed it, debating what to say to her.

Ladybug took the time to process what he just said and scowled. “Bound, really? Is this really the time?”

“I, uh, didn’t mean to tick you off?” he answered, his face heating.

Ladybug was five seconds away from screaming in his face. Then she had a better idea. “You’d better start taking this seriously or I will leave you tied up here until the police find you tomorrow morning. We’ll see what they say when they find some untransformed teenage boy Ladybug left for them."

His eyes widened. Even she was surprised by how malicious she sounded.

“I-I’ll stop! Don’t do that!” He begged. “My father would kill me!”

It wasn’t the first time Chat Noir alluded to his father; it was obvious he had “daddy issues”. Ladybug avoided asking so they wouldn’t discover each other’s identity and because he always grew quiet and vulnerable about it. But that didn’t stop him from prying, she chastised herself. “Oh yes, what will your father say if he finds out you sneak around at night?”

Chat Noir shifted at bit, testing the boundaries of her yo-yo’s hold. When first stuck to the lamp post, he hadn’t shown the slightest discomfort or hesitation. Ladybug often used her yo-yo on him in battle and it was evident he trusted her. Now, he was assessing the situation, trying to form some sort of escape. From her. His eyes were watery and she bet his heart thumped in his chest. That fearfulness only increased her confidence. She stood even closer, lowering her voice. “How did you figure it out? Did you follow me? Watch me detransform? Peek at me in that closet? Turn around when I helped you with Antibug? What was it?”

“None of that,” he whispered, looking at the ground. “I just…finally saw you. You smiled and it was just like her. She protected someone and looked just like you.” His voice was tinged with affection. That threw her off. Why would he be happy about this? 

“I guess I thought about it for a while,” he continued. “Before I knew it, I thought about both of you interchangeably. It seemed unfair to keep it to myself.”

Ladybug let out a breath she didn’t know she was holding. He had no proof. She was completely unlike her Ladybug persona: clumsy, unconfident, silly. There was no way that he figured her out. No, she knew exactly what this was about. “So what, just because you have another crush doesn’t mean that it’s me.”

God damned two timer. Not that she was romantically interested in the slightest. But it hurt to know that someone who constantly flirted with her flirted with someone else. His blush deepened.

“Cat got your tongue, chaton?” she asked, her face hovering inches from his. He swallowed as her free hand held his jaw, forcing him to look at her. For a moment she was lost in his emerald eyes.

“I’m too stuck on you to like another girl,” he finally replied, mischief in his eyes.

“You know what? Maybe I will leave you here,” she replied, releasing his face.

“Don’t! I didn’t mean to my lady!” He squirmed about, looking fearful.

With a smirk, she put her hand on his chest, straight over his beating heart. He stopped moving. “You’re nervous,” she noted feeling the pulse underneath his leather-bound muscle.

“Well yeah. I didn’t expect to get tied up over this,” he replied cheekily. He was growing bolder, but both of them knew who held all the cards. Her hand absentmindedly lingered on his chest. Ladybug decided she wanted more information before she’d make any decisions.

“Tell me more about her. The girl you like who you think is me.”

“Why are you so certain it’s not you?” He dared to ask.

“You don’t know what I’m really like,” she murmured, tracing his chest up to his bell. His eyes lowered, following her hand movements.

“Resourceful, beautiful, kind, always looks out for her friends,” he listed smoothly. “Enchanting blue eyes and cute pigtails. Always running to and from things.”

“That could be anyone under a flattering light,” she replied, mesmerized by the way the cord of her yo-yo tightened over each breath his chest took.

“As flattering as this one?” he murmured, looking up at the light of the lamp post.

“Do you flirt with her like this?” She asked, a finger slipping under a cord. It pinched tightly. She wondered if he was in pain, if the yo-yo was this tight everywhere. She had him trussed up from chest to legs. Would it leave marks? Or did the suit protect from that?

“Are you jealous my lady?” he asked softly as her eyes traced his whole body. Was her breathing speeding up? Was his? Then she saw it, her teenage brain barely comprehending.

“Are you aroused?” She asked, her voice lifting as she met his face.

His jaw dropped. “What? No!” He protested, squirming around. He looked downward and winced, the truth of the matter in plain sight. Ladybug bit her lip, unsure of what to do, her hand lifting from his chest.

“Look, it’s t-tight and I’m losing circulation. Blood flow and all that,” he argued, growing more embarrassed. All his cockiness was gone. Her hand drifted back on his chest.

“I didn’t expect you to like this. That wasn’t the point,” she replied, flicking his chest. He made a whimpering sound and she realized she hit his nipple.

“D-don’t do that!” He begged.

So of course she did it again. “Here I am trying to have a real conversation with you and all you can think about is dirty thoughts about that crush of yours,” she accused, running her fingers over the tight bud. His breath hitched and she rolled her thumb around.

“That’s not true,” he replied, his voice gravelly. She liked the sound and gripped his pecs.

“My alley cat is also a tom cat,” she murmured, exploring his body.

“Someone will see us!” He protested, squirming beneath his bonds.

“Oh, how embarrassing for you,” she answered, wandering down his stomach, not surprised by how toned his abs were under the cord. “Mangy street cat in heat? What will people think?”

“Ladybug, please,” he begged. She met his eyes, entranced by the tears at the edge of his mask, the red seeping from under it. He was beautiful. How had she never noticed?

“Please, what?” she murmured, face hovering near his.

He whined, shutting his eyes. “Stop!” His chest heaved with breaths, dragging the cord. How long had he been hiding this magnificent and virile body from her? What was I mad about? She couldn’t remember. Her fingers glided over his belt.

“You don’t actually want me to,” she whispered, near his ear.

“Please,” he begged again. Her hand cupped him. He hissed, shutting his eyes in pleasure. She moved her fingers, surprise by how soft the muscle was. In all her imagining, she’d never expected it to feel so warm nor inviting. Moisture began to gather. His hips twitched.

“Marinette,” he moaned in her ear.

Reality came crashing down. She squeaked, drawing the yo-yo back with her free hand. He fell to the floor with groan, landing on his hands and knees. She took steps back, noticing how small he looked on the ground.

Panic settled in again. She ran.

 

---

 

Adrien woke up in bed, staring at the white ceiling, Plagg screaming for him to turn off the alarm clock. He sat up, cradled his head in his hands and groaned. With sluggish movements he turned the thing off. It had probably been about two hours since he actually fell asleep. Now the sun twinkled in the early morning sky, pouring through his large windows. Plagg, rolled over on his pillow, immediately going back to sleep. Adrien stood up and looked down at his shirtless chest.

It wasn’t a dream.

Pink lines played across his chest. He swallowed, touching them gingerly. What the hell had happened last night? He’d expected to go up to her, tell her the truth, and then confess his love for her. In his hopes, she confessed her love back. In his nightmares, she revealed her hatred for Adrien made it impossible to work with Chat. It had taken all his courage to finally tell her. He saw the way Marinette looked at him, blatantly avoided him; it was no secret that she hated him. Telling her about her identity meant that he’d have to reveal his. He was prepared for it. Yet that hadn’t happened. Nothing went according to all his planning or his anxieties. Never had he imagined she’d tie him up and cop a feel.

Ladybug had copped a feel. A grin spread on his face.

He remembered the heavy-lidded glances she gave him, her shaky breaths against his ear. He’d never really been with a girl intimately, but it didn’t take a rocket science to know that had been intimate. But why? He went to take a shower, worried about the marks. He had a photoshoot that afternoon. His father’s workers would find out. His father would find out.

Water poured on his aching muscles and he stretched, noticing a few marks on his arms. He touched them idly, enjoying the slight grooves. It felt like her yo-yo was still wrapped around him. Like she was still with him. He liked it. His face heated remembering what Ladybug had said that night. Doubtless, she thought he was a pervert. There she was panicking about her identity and he was…how did she put it? In heat. Never in his life had he thought about being tied up as sexual. Sure, he’d heard of BDSM but he knew absolutely nothing about it. Yet just remembering the tight binds against his chest, the loss of breath, the thrill of that exposure, her undivided attention, had him aroused. He quickly brought himself to an orgasm, guilt settling in as he thought about how scared she’d looked when he first chased her. How the hell was he supposed to look at her in class today? What if an akuma attacked? She’d run away and he’d been too shaky, too scared to follow. Everything was unresolved. 

With what little time had before school, he decided to do some research on the internet.

Chapter Text

Marinette paced around her room, her alarm going off to wake her up from the sleep that never came. She bit her nails, whittling them down to almost nothing. Tikki sat on the desk watching with her worry drooping in her eyes. They’d spoken about it. Tikki hadn’t even scolded her. The kwami comforted her charge, explaining it was a misunderstanding and she should talk to Chat about it. That he could forgive her. It was a lie, but a comforting one all the same. She’d thought about going back out in the night and searching for him. Multiple times. There was no way anything would ever be alright. Or the same. What would she even say? 

It was almost time for school and she hadn’t even come up with that. She whined at the thought. If she went to school, she’d run into Adrien. Sure, they weren’t dating or anything—he didn’t even know she existed—but she felt so disloyal. She’d felt another boy up. And enjoyed it. Why had I enjoyed it?! Her maman called from downstairs, reminding her to wake up.

“What if I just never leave my room again?” She posed to Tikki. “That will work!”

“Marinette, you can’t just miss school like that. Think of all the times you miss class for akuma attacks,” the kwami scolded. “It’ll be fine. You don’t even know if Chat Noir goes to your school.”

“He said my name Tikki! He could be in my class!” She squeaked back. Just remembering the way he groaned out her name, so longingly, made her body heat up. The girl he had a crush on was her! But she had no idea who he was. Did I even want to know? She’d felt up a classmate! Just seeing him tied up and vulnerable brought out a part of her she didn’t know existed. It had been exciting, arousing. She bit her lip. She’d said some awful things to him. He’d begged her to stop. Tears gathered in her eyes as her emotions flooded her once more.

“Tikki, I’m a monster,” she sobbed, stating this for the fifth time since the incident.

“Marinette, you are a hero,” she argued, waving her tiny arms. “So maybe you weren’t so, um, nice last night, but you were just nervous. I’m sure if you two talk it out it will be okay.”

Like this can be resolved! “Okay? Tikki, I made him cry!”

“So? Boys cry too,” Tikki replied, her tone growing more firm. “Just go to school already.”

---

Adrien gripped his elbows. Why isn’t she here? Usually he felt oppression just from sitting in front of her. It was exhilarating. He constantly wondered if he looked too stiff, if she saw the doodles on his notes, what she was whispering to Alya about. Now he was feeling that anxiety and she wasn’t even there! Did he scare her off last night? Come on to strong? He frowned. Technically he hadn’t done anything. All he wanted to do was talk. No!, I didn't do anything wrong, she was the one who—he cut those thoughts off again. I can't think about that at school! 

“Dude, you okay?” Nino asked, that worried look on his face again.

“Yeah, just thinking about that test later today,” Adrien smoothly replied, quickly recovering. As a model, pretending had become his most valuable skill. He donned the mask, the civilian, and kept the wild flurry of emotions inside at bay. He had to.

“Shoot, I forgot about that!” Nino groaned, leaning on the desk with his head in his hands. Just as Mendeleiev finished calling attendance, Marinette skid into the room. Her hair was haphazardly tied in its usual pigtails, her eyes held dark raccoon circles, and it was evident she’d forgotten her make-up. With the two hours he’d managed to get in, he wondered if she even slept at all.

“Ohmygosh I thought I still had time,” she was saying to Mendeleiev, laughing nervously and flailing her hands about. “I didn’t mean to interrupt.”

“Just. Sit. Down.” The teacher scowled, pointing at her empty chair. Marinette fluttered by him, already biting her nails again as Chloe made her usual remarks and Alya began her interrogation. Luckily for Marinette, she was late so often that today didn’t really stand out as extra-ordinary. No one else knows what we did... The small part of him wondered if it even was extra-ordinary for her. He didn’t know her life. She’d made that abundantly clear last night. For all he knew she had tons of experience with boys. Ladybug sure seemed like she played femme fatale in her spare time.

“You didn’t sleep at all?” Alya whispered furiously. “Girl, what were you worried about?”

“The uh…test! Yeah, I didn’t study,” Marinette replied. He could picture that small smile she wore whenever she lied to Alya. Did she realize Alya probably knew too?

“Did you ever think you might do better if you spend your time actually studying instead of worrying about the fact you hadn’t?” Alya deadpanned. Alya was an excellent friend—he knew how great she was because Nino wouldn’t stop gushing over her—but sometimes her tough love seemed a bit too harsh to Adrien. In book in anime, friends were always supportive and he assumed that was normal. Not that he really had much experience in the friend department. Ladybug had made that abysmally clear.

“I know,” Marinette sighed, deflating. “I just start thinking and then it doesn’t stop.”

At least the two of them had something in common. Besides dressing up as animal superheroes and sneaking out in the middle of the night anyway. His eyes wandered up to the chalkboard and he began diligently writing notes. When he first started school he struggled with multi-tasking. Alya always talked about interesting things like Ladybug and comic books and he was desperate to figure out anything about his friends in class. But now he could confidently say he was a master note-taker and eavesdropper. His lady would be proud.

Well, if he wasn’t eavesdropping on her.

“Oh~! You were thinking about him again?” Alya jeered, leaning close to her desk partner.

 Ah, yes. If the whole secret-identity wasn’t enough of an obstacle, there was the mysterious boy-crush Alya alluded to. At first, Adrien had thought it was a joke. Marinette was confident and brave, totally the type to come forward and confess her feelings. Not like him with his awkward flirting and shitty puns. Once he got to know her better, however, he quickly realized she was a buzzing ball of anxiety and stress. He could imagine her going straight up to a boy and accidentally asking him to marry her, spouting off dating trivia and whatever other information flooded into her brain. If she did that to me I’d put a ring on it in seconds.

“No! Yes…gosh, how can you always tell?” Marinette whined. I wish I could tell, he mused, wondering if that would just make it hurt more.

 But since she didn’t act flirty with anyone in class he could only assume her crush was someone outside of school. Maybe a customer from the bakery or a neighbor. He’d eliminated the boys in the class since she treated them all the same: friendly competitiveness and her positive helpful can-do attitude. Even the way she treated Chat Noir was similar, which meant she at least thought of her super-hero partner as a friend: that is what he told himself on really depressing nights where her usual rejections made him feel completely hated.

Except she did hate him. The only boy she treated differently was Adrien. Every time he tried to approach her, help her, talk to her, she got flustered, refused to meet his eyes, made excuses to get away from him. He considered himself lucky that she was kind enough tolerate his presence and not yell at him again like she did at their first meeting. Whatever it was about him, maybe his awkwardness or his fake-pleasantness, she surely despised him. He'd thought knowing he was Chat Noir might make up for it. Now, he wasn't so sure.

“Girl, I’m not blind,” Alya was laughing, finally finished her teasing. “What are you feeling disloyal again because of your new internet buddy?”

Adrien perked his head up. Since when does she have an internet buddy?

“No, nuh-uh, of course not, I don’t think of him like that.”

Adrien gripped his pencil tightly, trying to convince himself that being jealous about a girl he wasn’t even dating was creepy and clingy. She had every right in the world to crush on her mysterious school crush and new internet boyfriend. Then again, if she has a crush, maybe she shouldn’t be forcing herself on people, he thought bitterly, wondering what bothered him more. For someone with a crush on someone else, she was super into feeling me up!

“Something happened with him last night, didn’t it?”

“…yeah,” Marinette whispered, the sound close to his ear. He shivered, realizing that she was resting her chin on the desk behind him. He could turn around and they’d be close enough to kiss.

“Come on,” Alya sighed. “I can’t help you if you don’t give me something to work with.”

Her words trailed down his spine. “He knows who I am.”

Holy shit, she was talking about him! He was the internet friend. Did that mean that Marinette have a crush on Chat Noir? She did compliment him a lot to their classmates, but he always thought that was a motherly pride for her dopey partner sort of thing. As Ladybug she’d complained plenty of times about people treating him like a crappy side-kick and never giving him any credit. Actually, that time when he’d joked back and said it was all true was the first time she’d ever yelled at him. 

“Dude seriously?” Alya squawked rather loudly. “Did he track your IP? Oh god, is he leaving you shit at your door or something? We gotta call the cops!”

“Alya, is there something you’d like to share with everyone?” Mendeleiev cut in. Alya blustered some excuses and remained silent for a while, letting Mendeleiev’s attention get diverted once more.

“He goes to this school,” Marinette finally offered up, showing a bit of cleverness. “And we talk about normal stuff; it’s not that hard to figure out who someone is. I guess he just figured out me.”

Marinette defending him was pretty much the last thing he expected. A little satisfied smile made its way onto his face. Nino leaned back in his chair.

“So do you know the dude?” He whispered, joining the conversation with that ease that always made Adrien feel a little bit envious. “Don’t tell me it’s Nathaniel again. Between this and the akuma I am going to start believing you two are destined.”

Honestly, Adrien had first wondered about him as the viable crush candidate. Before he knew Marinette was Ladybug he thought they were a well-suited pair for each other: two artistic imaginative people with a mutual dislike of Chloe. But then there was the fear that spiked in Marinette’s eyes when she went on her date with the evillustrator, the relief in her face when she saw Chat Noir. He bet it was super awkward for her to call him up and ask for protection like that. Looking back, he realized she placed a lot of trust in him by putting her identity in his hands.

“It’s not Nathaniel,” Marinette groaned. “Seriously, Nino, it’s already embarrassing enough for him that Chloe gets on his case, you don’t need to join in as well.”

“So who is it?” Alya pursued, like a dog chasing a ball.

“I don’t know,” Marinette muttered. What would she think if she knew he was sitting right here?

“You didn’t ask him?” Nino sputtered. Mendeliev gave a short ahem and he jolted forward in his seat, sputtering off an overtly wrong answer if her glare was any indication.

“Let me guess. You logged off before he could finish explaining and blocked him,” Alya mused. Of course Alya, with her near perfect grades and sharp eye would figure out her friend in a heartbeat.

“Basically,” she sighed, close to his ear again. “I just…I didn’t want to know okay? I liked things the way they were.  I don’t want to ruin what we have.”

The seeds of guilt crept into his heart when he heard the defeat in her tone. How many times had she insisted that their identities must be kept secret? Was that why she got so angry?

“But what if it turns out better than what you have?” Alya persisted. “Your buddy could hang out with you off the web and meet your awesome best friend.”

“It’s not that simple—” Marinette started, then stopped. “He doesn’t actually know me. Once he figures out who Marinette is he’ll change his mind about me.”

“That’s not true.” The words escaped his lips before he could stop them. “If he knows you well enough to figure out who you are, then he obviously thinks very highly of you. There’s no way you’d be a disappointment to him.”

There was a long pause behind him. Nino shot him a smile and a thumbs up. Ever since Adrien had confessed his desire to be friends with Marinette, his bro had been full endorsing every endeavor.

“I couldn’t have said it better myself,” Alya replied, recovering first. “Why don’t you go talk to him and see what he has to say? I’ll come over and sit with you if you want.”

He heard a small thud that could only be her forehead hitting the desk. “I did something bad.”

Adrien felt himself flush, guiltily thinking about how great “bad” was. It had been so wrong, but … Not terrible. Maybe if he'd been more prepared or if they talked about it first. What even was the normal way to go about that? What little he read on the internet didn't really talk about how to get started. There was no one he could talk to about it anyway. If word got out that Adrien Agreste was ... The girls probably told each other everything, but would Marinette tell her about that? When he heard the scratch of pen on paper, he realized the conversation had gone to non-verbal.

Damn.

Chapter Text

So, Marinette had to totally flub the truth and get Alya off the scent before her lack of a filter got her in trouble. Somehow she spun a story where she called her internet pen pal a whole bunch of mean names, using her lack of self-control as an excuse. By the arch of her brow, it was obvious that Alya didn’t believe it. But, being the truest of friends, she still gave advice for the fake scenario, insisting Marinette go and apologize for hurting her friend’s feelings. Tikki basically said the same thing when she got home, reiterating that she should ask if he was okay and at least try to listen to what he was trying to tell her in the first place.

Marinette’s logic: “Okay, but he knows who I am so he can just show up here if he wants to talk to me right? Do I really need to go meet him tonight?”

“If he shows up here then you’ll get scared and just say more things you don’t mean,” Tikki concluded sagely. “Plus, I doubt he’ll come to you after what happened.”

Right? Because I totally molested him!” Marinette cried into her pillow. “I don’t even know what came over me. I like Adrien, right? Right???”

“Marinette, you can like more than one person,” Tikki informed her patiently for the 100th time.

Her laughter became almost manic. “So anyway, he’s not going to come here, and I’m not going there. We’ll just see each other on akuma attacks and pretend it never happened and it will totally not be awkward because we’ll be too busy fighting crime to think about it right?”

“Marinette, just go,” the little kwami sighed, shaking her head. “The sooner you talk to him, the sooner you can come back home and drink some hot-cocoa, okay?”

Marinette lifted her head from her pillow. “I think I actually failed my test today.”

“Marinette…” Tikki exhaled, patting her forehead. “Come on, we’ll practice what you are going to say one more time and then we’ll transform and go to the patrol spot.”

So, after three blubbering attempts at apologizing for over-reacting and begging for him to forget who she was and keep their relationship the same, Marinette found herself suited up and swinging from the Parisian buildings. Her plan was to run through her speech one more time on the roof-top before he got there. But, despite their meeting time being midnight, there he was at 11:15, swinging his legs over the street below, looking like a poster-child for calm and well-adjusted.

“Chat,” she grit out, standing beside him, fists clenched tightly as she tried steel herself for what needed to happened.

“So I looked up some things on BDSM today,” he blurted, sending all her practiced dialogue down the metaphorical drain of her mind. She blinked, opening and closing her mouth.

“And I’m totally okay if that’s what you are into. I’m a-frayed it’s knot something I’ve considered before, but last night really chained my perspective.”

Ladybug wondered how long it took him to come up with those considering BDSM puns were probably not in his normal repertoire. “You really think this is the time to be joking?”

Chat still hadn’t looked up at her, his clawed finger-tips gripping his knees. “I had a feeling you’d worry about that and think there was something wrong with you. So, I just wanted you to know that there wasn’t. If you are into that sort of thing.”

Ladybug sighed, sitting down beside him. “I restrained you, threatened you, and then assaulted you. Of course there is something wrong with me.”

“Assault? That’s definitely not what it seemed like last night,” he started, brow drawn.

Then, the dork that he was, he giggled. “Gosh, I never thought I’d say that to you.”

She let out a frustrated groan. “Why are you like this?”

“Humor is a defense mechanism,” he answered flatly, surprising her. She side-eyed him, watching him turn away as he bit his lip. It struck her then that her partner was probably just as nervous and scared as she was. Ladybug crossed her arms, feeling safer within them.

“Fine, Chat. What did it seem like to you?”

“Like two purrfectly compatible friends discovering a kink together.”

“That’s not a normal friend activity Chat.”

He kicked his legs casually. “Neither is vigilantism, yet here we are.”

Ladybug scoffed. “This isn’t a hobby. If I hadn’t been roped in by Tikki, I certainly wouldn’t be swinging around fighting bad guys every day.”

There was a gleam in his eyes. “Whose Tikki and why is she roping you? Should I be jealous?”

“She’s my kwami asshole! And I don’t have a BDSM kink!”

Chat Noir seemed to contemplate something, ears and tail twitching. “Then … why?”

“I just came here to apologize,” she announced flustered and ready to leave, standing up. “I want us to pretend last night never happened and resume fighting akuma. Can we do that?”

“Of course,” he answered softly, a petrified smile on his face. “I just wanted to make you feel better.”

Ladybug shook, knowing her anger would solve nothing. “By making fun of me?”

He met her gaze. “By letting you know I was okay talking about it."

“I’m a superhero, I can’t like that kind of fucked up shit,” she growled, palming her yoyo. Her intuition was telling her he wouldn’t let this drop. Maybe I’ll hide out for a few weeks and he’ll forget.

“I’ll admit,” he swallowed, rubbing his neck. “It was a bit…startling. But it was knot bad.”

Ladybug could read between the lines enough to know that still didn’t mean good.

“I think maybe we should try again,” he blurted, staring up at her with those emerald eyes. “Like, with privacy and time, you know. I don’t like being on view for the world.”

Ladybug arched her brow, thinking perhaps that the danger of voyeurs watching them wasn’t what truly made him uncomfortable. He liked playing with the press and sneaking on cameras. Then there was the way he threw himself in battle, running head first into enemy fire with that excited gleam in his eyes. The same gleam reflecting through the darkness now.

“Wait,” she stopped her train of thought. “Are-are you asking t-to…”

She thought maybe she was Marinette when she whispered, “do it again?”

“Can we?” He grinned, with that model-like smile. Oh shit.

That fact that she even contemplated saying yes terrified her. She turned away, gripping her yo-yo hard enough to break. “I can’t do that. I already have someone I like.”

“I know,” he sympathized, voice fading.

“How do you know?” She squeaked, turning around. She’d expected him to look disappointed or hurt. Instead he looked carefully neutral, fiddling with his claws as he tried to find an answer.

 

 ---

 

The only way he could explain how he knew she was in love was the fact that he sat in front of her. She was too subtle about her crush otherwise. And after the way she handled her own reveal, he wasn’t too keen to start another, especially with her being so…volatile.

“Of course, you know,” she sighed at the silence. “Everyone does. God, I’m pathetic.”

As Adrien, he was out of the loop on a lot of things. People didn’t necessarily find him friend material. Whether that was his father, or his association with Chloe, or his own bland personality, it was hard to say. But the fact that everyone in his class knew something about his lady that he didn’t really irked him. As did her own dejection.

“Does he know?” He probed, hoping she might at least drop him a name.

“No, thank god,” she muttered, sitting back down beside him. It was almost like a normal patrol. They’d stop and break, talking about their problems in the vaguest ways, pep talking each other through another hard day. Sometimes it was the only thing that kept him going.

Chat Noir frowned. “So certain he’ll reject you?”

“I mean, he’ll be nice about it, he’s always nice. But I’m not exactly girlfriend material,” she blabbed, confounding him. Was she not aware of how many boys in their class had crushes on her?

“Plus he’s like…you know…a little out of my league.”

“My lady, you’re a crime fighting superhero … he’s out of your league?” he chuffed, already irritated at whoever the hell thought she wasn't good enough for him. Even if she wasn't Ladybug, she was still class president, had a decent online commission store for her clothing, had prize winner bakers for parents and could cook with them, won a fashion competition, created an album cover for Jagged Stone, and managed to be friends with almost everyone she met. Hell, he wasn't even sure he could measure up to that. 

“Most guys don’t like that sort of thing,” she pouted. Before he could argue, she continued, “Not the superhero thing, the whole girls being stronger than them thing.”

Chat furrowed his brow. Being a model who spent a good part of his life in isolation, he wasn’t quite up to speed on what young men were supposed to and not supposed to do. “But why?”

“They just don’t,” she huffed, rolling her eyes. “Guys don’t even like the fact I play video games.”

“Or they just can’t stand losing,” he chuckled. “You have a vicious counter cycle.”

Ladybug stiffened, turning to him with alarm in her expression. For a moment, it was almost like she’d forgotten about the identity reveal; the usual panic of hearing one too many details seizing her. But then she breathed, letting go and turning her gaze back to the Seine.

“If you can’t be yourself around him, then why do you like him?” Chat asked quietly. He didn’t understand her. The reason he liked Ladybug, besides the fact that she was beautiful and strong and funny, was the fact that she liked him too. At least, in a friendship sort of way. She let him make puns and joke and even if she pretended to be annoyed, she still let him. That was important. He wanted it to be like that for her too. It was what finally made him approach her.

Ladybug finally spoke up. “Look, I appreciate the fact that your being supportive, Chat, but I think things were better before. I want you to pretend you don’t know me.”

God, he didn't understand her.

 

---

 

He paced back and forth on the roof, trying to calm himself, uncharacteristically angry from her request. Ladybug watched, fascinated by the indecision in his posturing. She could tell he was upset, but he wasn’t going to say why. Now, that she thought about it, she'd never really seen him angry. Maybe annoyed or agitated, but he quickly subdued that with one of his stiff smiles and banter. When he finally spoke, his voice was small, subdued. “You don’t want to know my identity? It’s only fair.”

“No, I don’t,” she snapped immediately. “You can’t even be sure you know mine!”

His glare surprised her. “We’re past the point of denying who you are Marinette.”

Hearing that name, in this costume, in this night, their night, shook her. “Don’t call me that.”

“For the record, I’m glad it’s you,” he continued, as if she hadn’t spoken, staring down at the city. “I always wondered if Ladybug was just an act, something you felt you had—“

 “Ladybug is an act!” She shouted through the panic, feeling it seize her chest, her brain. “You don’t know me!”

 He stood his ground. “Then show me.”

Something deep inside her trembled and despite the authority she’d tried to maintain, she found herself breaking down. I'm supposed to be Ladybug, damn it! Tears bubbled and pouring and she keened, stepping away from him. “I don’t want to, Chat! It’s not fair! You weren’t supposed to know!”

At this point she was a broken record and she knew it. He stood close enough to be felt but didn’t dare touch her. Her shoulders shook. “No one was. What if Hawkmoth finds out? What if he attacks my mom, my dad, Alya? Or me? He’ll take Tikki and then I’ll be—”

Nothing. Without the mask she was nothing.

“I’ll protect you,” he answered with an intense quiet she'd only ever seen on the edge of battle. “And everyone important to us.”

She turned and pushed him away. “But if I’m gone who will protect you?!”

His face did something strange then. He looked younger, sweeter, and different somehow. Yet familiar.

"My lady, I think you’re focusing too much on things that haven’t happened yet,” he said, abruptly avoiding her gaze. “No one knows but me and I won’t tell anyone.”

“I know you won’t!” She snapped, covering her face with her hands, knowing it was too late to hide. It was already enough that he knew she was Marinette, but now he had to watch her break down in person. She’d probably lost all his respect; why would he ever listen to her again?

“But I’m standing firm on not pretending,” Chat Noir declared, crossing his arms. “This is a good thing. I can support you this way.”

Ladybug looked between her fingers, her eyes tightening into a glare. Was he … talking down to her? God, she was right! He already saw her as some fragile, feeble-minded—

“That’s what partners do, Ladybug,” he continued confidently. “I know you’ll support me too.”

 

 ---

 

Chat felt his ears flatten against his head. As usual, things were going the exact opposite of how he wanted and now Ladybug seemed broken. Why am I so bad at making her feel better? She’d slid down on the roof, her legs giving out, tears still glistening down her otherwise blank face. He’d thought about just giving into what she said, placating her as he did his father, but just as much as she was fighting the changes between them, he was also unwilling to yield.

Maybe he didn’t know her. But he knew himself.

And she likes me, he asserted, chasing back the doubt in his heart. She'd looked at him like he mattered and that meant something.

“Chat,” she finally uttered, her voice hoarse.

He knelt down to her level. “Yeah?”

“How has Hawkmoth not sent an akuma after me?”

He grinned widely and replied, “Because you’re pawsitively perfect.”

Even under the mask her eyes looked sunken and dead. “Why do I even bother?”

“Because I’m clawsome?”

She snorted, wiping her eyes. “I need a tissue.”

“Sure, let me just go—”

She reached out with her other hand, grabbing his arm. “Don’t. I’ll lose my nerve.”

He stared at her hand, then at her face. It was drenched from tears and it took him a full second to stop looking at the way her teeth nervously nipped her lip. Sensing they might be moving somewhere he sat down, crossed his legs, and stared at her expectantly.

“Can you … can you just turn around?”

Chat raised an eyebrow but slowly rotated, having a feeling his normal pun or flirtation would set her off again. Plus, he wanted to prove himself. That when she was sad, he’d be there. Even if he had no idea what the hell he was doing.

“I’m sorry,” Ladybug whispered. He wanted to reassure her, but she kept going.

“I meant to apologize for yesterday and promptly started yelling at you today. I panicked and I hurt you. What really sucks is that I didn’t stop to even think about how you were feeling about all this. You didn’t have to tell me you knew; you could have lied to me.”

“You hate liars,” he answered automatically.

“Chat,” she reprimanded flatly, making him grin wider. “I’m trying to say something.”

“Right, sorry,” he choked, trying to remove the grin she couldn’t see.

“You knew I wouldn’t like it and you still tried to talk to me,” she continued, her hand landed on his shoulder pooling warmth. “I shouldn’t have attacked you or yelled at you. It was terrible of me to start touching you like that; especially when you had no way to stop me. It just happened and I was so mad at you and I ….”

“It’s okay,” he encouraged, waiting for her to go on.

“I’m really sorry, Chat. You just freaking came out of nowhere and I overreacted because I was … You won’t tell anyone, I know that, I just … I was thinking about myself but I should have been thinking about Ladybug and Chat Noir. No matter what happens we've still got akuma to catch. Thank you for giving me a second chance.”

Chat furrowed his brow. He definitely wasn’t so selfless as she was portraying him. Maybe if he had thought past his initial excitement and his desire to date her, he might have come up with a better way of letting her know. Some sort of method where she was ready and calm.

“We’re partners, Chat,” she said, scooting forward and hugging him. His heart beat rapidly, enough to make his chest feel like it would burst. “I should have trusted you.”

Chapter Text

Marinette found her way back to her bed, her body feeling so tense and tired it was like she’d just been beaten up by an akuma. It’d probably been three days since she’d gotten decent sleep; everything was finally taking its toll. The pressures of being a superhero were almost worse than actually doing heroic deeds. Even though Hawkmoth was mysteriously less active at night, it was really the memory of the day that kept her awake. But somehow her mind was mysteriously at ease as her head hit the pillow and Tikki doused the lights.

Everything is fine,” Chat said, feeling so warm in her arms as she pressed against him. “You can do whatever you want.”

There he was, making his strange suggestions again. “I don’t know what I want.”

Why was he so toned? She’d never thought herself that interested in muscles; she’d always been fond of pretty slender boys, but lord he felt amazing. She dropped her chin on his shoulder and sighed. She could hold him for hours.

"Er, LB?” He asked, stiffening as her breath hit his ear.

"What?” She asked, opening her eyes, noticing his claws trying to hide his lap.

Oh, come on, Chat!”

"I can’t help it!” He sputtered, trying to wriggle free. “I don’t get hugs from pretty girls all the time, okay? I’m a teenage boy!”

Of course, just when she was starting to think he was … he had to! She pressed down on his shoulders, putting him in place. “Are you really so pent up? Is that why you were so desperate for a re-run? Sorry, kitty, I don’t do casual.”

"Chatual you mean,” he mangaged, under the pressure. Her fingers dug into his shoulders and as much as she reveled in the feeling, she wanted to go back to that hug they shared. Body to body. Their hearts so blended who knew where one stopped and the other one started. Not that she would ever admit to that.

"Maybe we should talk about this another night,” he wavered nervously. “You’re stressed; I’m stressed. It’s late. We’re on a roof. I need to go home.”

Ladybug frowned. “Why so you can use me to rub one out?”

“Wh-wh-what are you saying?” He asked, voice breathy, the rise in his chest tantalizing. “Geez, bugaboo!”

Her hand ran down his back, cinching his waist. “I’m right aren’t I?”

He whimpered, cat ears going flat. “Teenage boy, okay? It’s not my fault you wear spandex.”

"And you wear leather,” she retorted, as if that mattered.

“Yeah, but you don’t—” Then he grew quiet. “Unless you do?”

Ladybug took the dive, grabbing him by his hard-on. “We’re talking about you, kitty.”

His breath seized. “Fuck, too hard, LB.”

“Are you?” She purred, even as she loosened her grip. Her palm felt warm, the sensation unfamiliar. “Just the same as before … to think I just left you there like this.”

Her wrist rotated with each slow caress and his head knocked against hers. She watched her movements, entranced, wishing it wasn’t dark, that he wasn’t wearing black, that she could see just exactly what she hadn’t seen before. Watch, not just feel, his breaths rising swiftly.

"That wasn’t very nice of me was it, kitty?” She soothed, her other hand riding up his chest. Her fingers gripped the zipper of his suit, playing with it. “Heroes are supposed to give helping hands.”

"I woodn’t—” He flinched as she gripped fiercely.

"Was that a pun?”

"No,” he lied.

"Because I would think that with me being so nice, you’d quit it for once,” she bantered, lightening her grips. “But, oh well, I can always stop.”

“Don’t stop,” he whispered, sounded wrecked. “Please, please, don’t.”

Her hand left his zipper, wandering up his chin, gripping it to look at the tears in those beautiful eyes. Her own body trembling with equal parts of excitement and fear as he gazed up at her in wonder.

"Marinette.”

Wait, no, something wasn’t right. Why would he call her—

“Marinette!” a tiny voice shrieked in her ear. She jolted up, falling off the bed, her legs tangled around her body pillow as it saved her from the fall. With a groan, she peeled herself away, immediately noticing an unusual feeling between her legs.

Then the sound of feet on wood, and a door creaking open.

“Marinette, are you up yet?” Her mom called.

“Fuck.”

 

---

 

Adrien rose at the crack of dawn which, considering he barely slept that night, was not really a feat at this point. He’d been too anxious about Ladybug, wondering what the hell was going through her head. Admittedly, it was nice being hugged. She’d reminded him of his mom and made him feel warm and wanted. But it was weird for her. It wasn’t like she didn’t have plenty of affection in her life and half the time she was mad at him. Yet, she’d just held him, shaking and silent, for what felt like blissful hours. Then, after apologizing again, quietly left.

“I don’t get girls,” he muttered at his reflection, brushing his teeth. Thank god Plagg was still sleeping. He’d already mocked Adrien about the lamppost incident and probably had words about Ladybug’s freak-out last night. Interestingly enough, Plagg had made no real comments or insight on Marinette being Ladybug when he'd first excitedly suggested it. Which, despite his devil-may-care attitude, was unusual for the nosy kwami.

Maybe he already knew, Adrien reflected, dressing himself for the day. As usual, Adrien was the last one to know everything. Well … I guess not anymore. She still doesn’t know who I am.

The longer it was taking to tell her the truth the more hesitant he was becoming. Logically, he knew that she didn’t want to know and learning that he was a boy she hated would only distance them. Emotionally, however, he secretly wanted her to be excited it was him. How great would it be for someone to actually light up when they saw him? Or to feel like the moment was his and that no one could fill in his spot? Maybe it was being a clothing rack all day, but he did feel … replaceable.

He started putting stuff in his bag, the plan growing more firmly in his mind. Then, he woke up Plagg, smiling as the kwami groaned.

“You stay out all night and you wake up super early! How am I supposed to get my cat naps?” Plagg cried, clawing at the air. “Where’s my cheese?”

Adrien dutifully handed him a wedge. “You can sleep at school.”

“Where you fidget around while Ladybug talks about her “online” boyfriend?” Plagg teased, inhaling the entire wedge. “Forget it. I gotta make sure you don’t get akumitized and stomp through the streets in a jealous rage. I expect extra cheesy payment for my bodyguard duties.”

“You are tired,” Adrien said sympathetically, patting Plagg's round head.

“Yeah, and whose fault is that?” Plagg grumbled, floating up off the pillow. “Why didn’t you just tell her as Adrien? We would have avoided all this trouble.”

You would have avoided it,” Adrien quipped, grabbing his bag and school supplies. “Besides, who is Marinette going to trust more? Her partner or a stranger?”

“Okay, you know you aren’t a stranger. You sit in front of her in class. You share the same friends.”

Adrien shared most of his life with Plagg, but he tried to keep the fact that Marinette hated him to himself. Plagg would never let it go. “You know what I mean.”

“I’m just saying, Ladybug wouldn’t have attacked you,” he said with a devil may care attitude. Adrien was tired enough that slide; he didn’t want to waste time arguing how Marinette could just as easily kick his butt. Plus, they’d have to actually talk about what happened that night. Plagg wavered around his bag, then stared at the clock.

“What?! It’s too early! Adrieeeeenn!” He whined.

 “No, it’s not, we got some errands to run first.”

Plagg’s eyes widened in horror. “I thought that cheese was too easy!”

“Claws out!”

 

---

 

By the time Marinette got to school, she had calmed down her anxiety, styled her hair, and plastered on a fake smile. All she had to do was just get through the day and then go home and catch up on some of that precious sleep. She found herself avoiding meeting anyone’s eyes, as if someone could just look at her face and think,

"Oh, look there’s dirty Marinette who dreams about forcing herself on boys!”

God, she’d never thought so much about sexual deviants as she had in her unusually long walk to school. It terrified her how easily she blended in, how she was supposed to be a superhero that people trusted. Just how would they feel if they knew what she was like inside?

Luckily, she made it to her locker without any commotion.

Unluckily, what waited for her inside stirred a lot of commotion.

               To the best purrson in the world,

               You don’t ever have to apologize to me. Have a clawsome day!

Her hands had quickly seized and crumbled the note, but she couldn’t do anything about the yellow roses pouring out of her locker and piling around her feet. The first person to notice was Rose, who squealed and excitedly asked her who the lucky guy was. Next thing she knew, everyone was surrounded her with a large cacophony of congratulations and teases. Then Alya parted the crowd with an icy glare that would give Hawkmoth a run for his money.

The bell rang and they had to scurry to class. She shrunk in her seat, face burning as the jeering and compliments continued pouring in. Chloe, at least was acting normal,

“Oh whatever, so Dupain-Cheng has a Dupain-lame boyfriend,” She stopped for a second, laughed and then told Sabrina, “Did you hear that? I’m hilarious!”

“At least someone is getting flowers,” Alya snapped back, as Marinette shrunk further. How could he do this to me? The worst part was that she didn’t even have a boyfriend, just an overly-apologetic stupid side-kick! This is why we shouldn’t know each other’s identities!

The teacher quieted them and then Alya sprung to action.

“Okay, what was that all about? Why didn’t you tell me you were serious?”

“S-serious about what Alya?!” Marinette stuttered, looking down at her paper, hoping the white void would swallow her up.

“You said he was a friend,” she continued, counting her fingers. “Then you blocked him. Then you made up. Then he sends you flowers?! You didn’t tell me you were flirting with him!”

“I wasn’t flirting with him,” Marinette squeaked, face burning. Okay, sometimes she flirted with him, but that was how superhero stuff worked. You acted confident and traded jokes and some of those jokes just happened to be compliments that might be construed as—

“No,” Alya whispered, gripping her pencil tightly. Her eyes took a killing edge. “I’ll kill him. Give me his IP. We’ll find out who stalker boy is in a heartbeat and—”

“Oh god Alya, stop,” Marinette protested, causing the teacher to hush her. “He’s not a stalker and he’s not my boyfriend. He just got me flowers to be nice because he knew I was stressed.”

“First of all, guys don’t just get girls flowers,” Alya snapped, steadying her breath as she came down from the high of her rage. “Secondly, they don’t fill your locker with them; that shit gets expensive. Third and final, you don’t get friends ROSES!”

 “Well, actually yellow roses are a flower of friendship,” Adrien’s voice said softly, turning his head slightly towards them. “They usually are used for an apology.”

Marinette felt the rushing blood of embarrassment drain from her face in horror. She’d been so caught up in her dream about Chat and then the stupid roses, that she hadn’t thought to consider what this looked like to Adrien. Not that they were dating but like … a guy had brought her flowers after she met with him in the night after they'd cuddled and had sordid dreams about him.

This was bad, so, so bad.

“Oh really?” Alya drawled, zeroing in on him. “Where’d you learn that?”

“My secretary has to send them out to people all the time,” Adrien replied back with a  nonchalant shrug. “When schedules get changed, shows cancelled, you know. It’s just good manners.”

Bless Adrien Agreste and his perfect face and perfect words and god if she could kiss him—

“For working professionals maybe,” Alya surmised, then her brain jumped again. “Oh god, you don’t know who he is. Girl, what if he’s a teacher?!”

“Alya is there something you need to share with the rest of the class?” Ms. Bustier asked, trying her best to sound stern, even as a smile cracked. Alya slouched in her seat and muttered out a soft no. The lessons resumed and the day slowly thrummed back to normalcy. 

Not that it stopped the inquisition.

Chapter Text

Adrien was starting to think the flowers had been a bad idea. He’d just woken up, remembered how Ladybug had cried and held him, and wanted to do something to brighten her day. Something that was obviously Chat so she’d know things were okay with him. If only he’d had Alya to tell his pitiful home-schooled self that flowers in lockers were the type of ridiculous stuff you saw in manga.

How utterly humiliating.

Ladybug already knew Chat liked her so she probably took this as him trying to convince her to date; how could he have not seen that?! She’d already told him no and their relationship right now was … rocky. He’d hoped with time and getting to know each other she’d change her mind but maybe he’d just ruined his chances. God, I am so dumb.

“I’m just saying, you need to talk to him,” Alya was still going on. “Maybe he’s a NEET who never leaves his room and doesn’t know that normal people don’t do these things. Or maybe he actually is a creepy stalker. Either way, you need to make the boundaries clear. Not interested.”

“It’s just we finally stopped fighting and I don’t want to hurt his feelings,” Marinette answered nervously, stirring a warm feeling in his chest. He wondered if some part of her at least recognized what he meant, had felt appreciated when she opened that locker. Maybe even decided it was nice that he could reach out to her civilian form.

“Plus, he did get me flowers … no one’s ever done that for me before.”

Adrien frowned; she deserved get flowers everyday. He wondered how hard it would be to keep a flower handy as Chat Noir. But he had a feeling that Ladybug might get annoyed from that, especially since he knew he’d be obligated to follow up with garden and bug puns.

“…you like him,” Alya accused in disbelief. “You wouldn’t care if he figured out who you were unless you cared what he thought. You’re always a nervous wreck around A, uh, th-that guy, so it only makes sense. You little player, you.”

Adrien snorted, sharing a look of disbelief with Nino. His look stemming from the fact that no way Ladybug had a crush on him and Nino’s probably from the amusing image of kind, quiet, Marinette two-timing. Then again … she was really popular with the boys in the class. Even Nino had liked her at one point.

Adrien knew jealousy was a petty toxic feeling. But damn.

“As a friend. I mean, come on, Alya I don’t even know who he is.”

Not like you gave me the chance, he thought bitterly. Not that it would fix things.

Alya only grew more determined. “I’m just saying girl. A certain someone isn’t getting the hint and this boy is at least into you. Let Mama Alya meet him and we’ll decide on the wedding date.”

Marinette busted out laughing, “No way you two are going to be left alone together!”

Bustier finally separated them—“It’s for your own good. You can go back to your seats when you calm down”—and Adrien hoped that Alya hadn’t noticed the distinction when Marinette let down her guard. Because Alya did know Chat Noir, as well as his undying love for Ladybug, and it wouldn’t take long for her to put two-and-two together.

 

---

              

Marinette had made it through the school day—not akumatized, thank god—but still blasted with question upon question about her internet boyfriend. Apparently, the class had heard enough of Alya’s ranting and no one would let her hear the end of it. This whole thing is stupid. It wasn’t the first time someone had made a grand romantic gesture in their class: look at Ivan or Nathaniel.

Yeah … Nathaniel had let up and they went back to being normal with a week. He’d even become her friend; though he’d be doubly pissed if he found out she was also his new crush Ladybug. Thank god he was spending more time with Marc. Meanwhile, everyone acted like it never happened. So, it stood that if she just waited it out the whole flower incident would be forgotten.

Or so she thought.

Before she could even leave the building, the oh-so-familiar sound of screams and destruction rang through the school. This was her least favorite part of the whole superhero gig. She could never just turn it off. No one cared that she had a stressful day or that maybe she wanted to go home in sleep. Ladybug just had to step up. She ran back through the building, finding an empty closet.

“Let’s do this!” Tikki shouted excitedly, pumped.

"Spots on!”

The quad was covered in green vines in flowers, twisting and growing into a fairy tale garden. Ladybug swung up on the roof, not at all surprised when a certain feline joined her.

“Ladybug, I just want to say—”

“Akuma first,” she grit out, wanting to so desperately hold her temper. He looked so meek and she hated that. She didn’t have time to think about what his flowers meant or why he seemed upset. Ladybug had a job and that job involved stopping students from getting turned into flowers. God, her life was so weird.

“Love me!” The akuma screeched, a ridiculous looking fairy, swinging a thorny whip. Ladybug swept closer, jumping across the roofs. Chat Noir followed her.

“Wow, talk about a thorny situation,” he quipped, kneeling like the cat he was. “This will get dangerous floral. Let’s not leaf her to it.”

"Do you just make these up on the fly or do you spend valuable time studying and filling your brain with that crap?” Ladybug scowled, the question rhetorical.

“I strive to entertain mew,” he said with a paw tapping his face, looking adorable. Scratch that. Chat did not look adorable, especially when she was still angry with him. He immediately, straightened out when he saw whatever hell she unleashed with her face.

“A combination of both, my lady.”

The fight was over in a flash, just like they always were. Alya appeared, mentioning she’d overheard the girl crying because she heard about the flower debacle and she wanted her boyfriend to give her flowers. Ladybug surmised the flower trough she was skating around in was actually the girl’s locker. Once lucky charm and cataclysm later, they had a flash-frozen flower woman and a broken locker.

One purified akuma later and they had a couple expressing their newly invigorated love for each other. Ladybug almost gagged as they swung each other’s arms.

“I thought I was coming on too strong! We only just started dating!” The boy cried.

The girl commiserated, “I couldn’t even tell we we’re dating!” Then the smooching began.

“Aww,” Chat gushed, leaning on his baton. “They look so happy.”

“Yeah, no thanks to you,” she muttered. His ears flicked down at that.

“It’s not like you haven’t caused an Akuma,” he stated calmly, his expression growing dangerously neutral before returning back to that sly grin of his. “And lilac’d any knowledge of her so you know it was an accident.”

Ladybug’s brow furrowed because he was right and she knew she was being mean and she was so fucking tired and frustrated. Then his miraculous began to beep. She took out her yo-yo.

“Can we meet somewhere?” He started, hopeful. “I don’t want to leave things like this.”

“I don’t want to know who you are,” she hesitated, imagining where this may lead.

“Okay, thirty minutes, retransform and meet in the empty classroom they’re remodeling. We can probably get in through the window,” he shot out quickly, as another beep sounded off.

Ladybug wanted to just forget it but then again, she needed to make sure he didn’t do this sort of thing to her again. And she might as well do that while the anger in her veins still gave her the courage to confront him. “That’s … surprisingly well thought out.”

“Been thinking about it all day,” he chirped, with a wink before vaulting off.

 

---

 

Chat Noir was surprised to find Ladybug already sitting in a desk before he even climbed through the window. He’d only added an extra time stipulation to give her a break; he’d given Plagg some cheese and immediately swung back into the school, sending his bodyguard a message that he’d gone out with friends. The plan was to wait for her and think about what he was going to say.

Or for her to just not show up at all.

She looked weird sitting at the desk. Softer, more Marinette, her had propping her face, her eyes staring out the door as her shoulders slumped with defeat. As he walked over from the window, he realized she was almost dozing off, her face slowly teetering towards the desk.

“My lady,” he called quietly, hoping to not startle her.

She jolted up, straight out of the desk.

“AHH!” Then scrambled, arms flailing as she tripped over the chair. Chat couldn’t help it.

He laughed.

“Oh, don’t start with me!” She grumbled, pouting from the dusty floor. “Help me up.”

“With purrsure,” he teased, holding out his hand. She seized it, standing up to awkwardly dust herself off. He dropped his eyes, giving her time to compose herself.

“It’s so dusty in here. Why’d you pick this place anyway?” She complained, sneezing. His heart sung as she made a soft mouse sort of sound. Does she have to be so cute all the time?

“It’s quiet, private, and sometimes I hide out here when the pressure gets too much.”

Ladybug looked at him thoughtfully. “Should you have told me that?”

“You aren’t going to come hunt me down, are you?” He provoked, knowing the answer. Hoping he didn't. She frowned, shoulders broadening as if she were going to call him out on that challenge.

“What kind of pressure?” She asked, instead, surprising him. It wasn’t that Ladybug was thoughtless or mean but she didn’t often ask him questions about himself. Especially like this. She was dealing with her own stress, too focused on the moment to notice wallflowers wilting.

“Being a superhero and student isn’t easy, no matter how you slice it.”

“I know that,” She sighed, kneeling down to pick up the chair. “I’m always late to class, I never get enough sleep, I have to lie to my friends. It just sucks.”

“Yeah,” he sighed, knowing how many times she’d lied to Alya. “Well, if it makes you feel butter, you make it look like a piece of cake. You’re amazing.”

Ladybug stared at him, intensely, like she was solving a complex equation, her mouth slightly parted as she barely breathed. Then she shook her head, and said, “We can complain all day but I really need to talk to you about the flower situation.”

“No need, Lady-bee,” Chat Noire answered immediately, waving a flippant hand. “It was foolish and insensitive of me, fur real. I caused you a lot of trouble and could have exposed your identity; which I puuromise to never do. I hope you can furgive me.”

You don’t ever have to apologize to me,” she muttered, crossing her arms. “A bit strange thing to write to me, don’t you think? Especially since you still get to do it all the time.”

Chat Noir felt uneasy. He’d thought he’d gotten pretty good at identifying her moods, but the dejection in her expression just wasn’t like her. Yeah, she was probably running on fumes, but that was kind of her normal. Usually the puns got her to smile or at least pissed her off a bit. This was weird. “It’s only because I’ll always forgive you.”

“You know I don’t like liars,” she answered bitterly, softly, holding herself.

She almost sounded depressed; it reminded him of himself. Not Chat Noir, trusting and brave as he waited for judgement, but Adrien alone at night remembering how meaningless life was without people and laughter to fill it. Knowing he still had to live through it anyway. He didn’t say anything. Didn’t know how.

“I thought about your offer,” she finally added, still as a statue.

“What offer?” he ventured, confused. Did she want to know about his identity? A panic spread through him. She was already upset; imagine what would happen if she saw Adrien…

That brought back some spark. She blushed, grumbling out, “You said you wanted privacy and time. We’re alone in a classroom. Read between the lines.”

His heart stopped. Is she asking for what I think she’s asking for? Like, sure, he’d looked it up the other day and offered because hell yeah, he was so, so down, but he hadn’t actually dreamed … And, oh¸ she was looking at him, really looking at him, those blue eyes almost anticipating.

But why now? Did her crush react badly to the flowers? Was she heartbroken?

Oh. He really didn’t like that. Being a rebound; the second option. That stung.

“What happened?” He asked, biting back the raw emotion in his voice. He turned around, feeling so stupid because boys, superheroes, were not supposed to cry, damn it.

“I’m not,” Ladybug started, then stopped again. “I’m not doing well. Lately … this has been a lot. But when I think about that, I mean, you probably think I’m a pervert but …”

Chat Noir held his breath, his whole-body clenching for the blow.

“I’ve had dreams about you.”

The breath released. What?

“Fuck, I didn’t mean to said that,” Ladybug cursed, groaning. She muttered to herself a bit, debating something, before I finally confessing, “Look, I don’t know why but it’s been on my mind and somehow … with everything that's going on ... I think I really need this, Chat. I think that we need it.

Chapter Text

How did one begin to explain to their partner, and all that word entailed, that there was a certain order to things? That he had barged in and broken that order and she was still reeling? That it wasn’t really about the lust—because, okay, it kind of was—but what she really wanted was to go back to the way they were. That without the safety of anonymity, all the boundaries that protected them needed to be rebuilt.  Even though this was the weirdest fucking solution it was the only one she had.

“Okay,” he breathed, shoulders relaxing.

“A-are you sure?” She asked, scared of what she would do. It was one thing to imagine it. Another to actually do it. “Because if you changed your mind that’s okay. I don’t want to pressure you or anything because you seem kind of nervous and I don’t know what I’m doing and this is probably not normal by any means—”

“It’s fine,” he answered, turning around with that stupid cat smirk, the light dancing in his eyes. Ladybug’s face burned from her growing blush. Of course, he was all smug about it, hearing that she basically couldn’t stop thinking about his hot bod. Typical boy.

“We probably need some rules though,” he added, holding his claws together, looking shyly at the ground. “So, we know what to expect and stuff. Things like safe words and all that.”

That … was actually a great suggestion and one she should have suggested first. You know, being the dom, it was kind of her job to make the rules, right? Not that she knew anything, she probably should have done more research beyond a few google searches but she’d gotten too nervous about accidentally finding porn and oh god she’d been quiet for too long.

“Akuma could work,” she laughed, awkwardly. “Always freaks me out.”

“Um, maybe something not related to work,” Chat suggested softly, tail curling around his leg. “If that’s okay? Besides, who knows, we might role-play, right?”

Holy hell he could probably tell she had no idea what she was talking about. She hadn’t even considered that sort of thing. How can he even trust me to do this? “Uh, yeah if you like that sort of thing. That should definitely be a rule. Only doing things we like.”

“Or think we might like,” Chat added immediately. “Because I don’t actually know.”

“Yeah, for sure,” she echoed laughing and probably sounding crazy.

“I’ve heard people use a red-yellow-green system,” he offered, extending his hands. “So like red is a definite no, and yellow is like maybe, and green is good? I mean, you can make a better word later once we get a better feel for what we’re doing.”

Then he laughed. “Feel, you get it?”

“Oh, hah hah,” she snarked, surprised he’d waited so long for a joke. “Well, I can work with that. Is there anything else or should we just start? Anything you don’t want me to do?”

“Wait, now?” Chat Noir asked, looking around the dusty darkening room. That made her uneasy. She kind just wanted to jump into it, get out of the crazy spiral in her head, figure out the truth about all of these feelings. But not if he didn’t want to. She had already forced herself on him once and she never wanted to do that again.

“O-or later is fine too,” she hedged, plastering on a reassuring smile. “We need time to prepare anyway and should probably write down more rules and—”

“Now is fine,” he interrupted firmly, holding up a clawed hand. “More than fine.”

Well, this was it. This was really happening. She was going to hell.

And apparently taking Chat Noir with her.

 

---

 

“Well, sit then,” Ladybug requested, turning around to pull the chair out from the desk. She stood behind it, gripping the metal frame, looking intense. It was the same look before she faced an akuma.

He obeyed, a thrill chasing up his back. Ladybug had been dreaming about him? Ladybug needed Chat Noir? Whatever was going through her head was beyond him but what he did know was that this was something more than just frisking a friend. The way she unyieldingly looked at him, like he was the only person in the world, did not a rebound make.

Until he knew what that look meant, he was willing to play.

“Do you know why I’m upset with you today?” She started, fingers tapping his shoulders. Oh, we’re scripting something? He smirked, knowing how she wanted him to play. She’d never admit it, but he’d seen the way she got with dangerous akumas. As Chat he couldn't be too meek or patient. Ladybug didn’t like reticence.

“Why? Should you be?” He asked innocently, looking up at her. Her hands gripped his shoulders, fingers slightly nipping, making him wish his leather wasn’t so tough.

“You caused an akuma,” she said lowly, sending warmth pooling in his stomach. “And almost exposed my identity. You think that’s acceptable behavior for a miraculous holder?”

“Ah, bugaboo, we already decided I had nothing to do with the akuma—”

You decided,” she snapped, jolting him. It didn’t really hurt, just reminded him of her solid weight behind him, trapping him. “But you want to know what I think?”

Her breath touched his ear. Was she leaning over the chair, that pert ass defiantly in the air?

“You just wanted attention.”

He shuddered. Her voice was like liquid gold.

“Didn’t you?”

“That’s not it, my lady, I only wanted—”

She tugged his bell up, the cold metal touching his throat as she forced him to look at her. “Didn’t you?”

Here went nothing. “I wanted to make you happy.”

Her grip softened and she let go. He took a breath of relief as she walked around the chair. No ... strutted. Ladybug was strutting like a model on a catwalk her hips swaying erotically, calling him.

“You know what makes me happy?” She asked, sauntering towards him. Her foot stamped on the side of the chair, causing him to tighten his legs together as he jumped. She leaned down, bringing her chest almost eye level, before grabbing him by the jaw.

“What?” he breathed, excited. Unbearably so. Her yo-yo shot out and she pulled back, rolling the tight cord around his torso, binding him to the chair. She yanked, causing the chair to scrape against the floor. The sound echoing down the hall.

Shit, he flinched, looking toward the door. Ladybug followed his gaze then looked back, the cords of the yo-yo wrapped tightly in her fist.

“The truth, Chat,” she demanded, pulling tighter, the binding squeezing his ribs. He sucked in a breath, bowing down his head, biting his lip. It felt so, so tight. Suffocating even.

“I wanted you to think about me,” he confessed breathless, “when you’re happy.”

The binding loosened as moved forward again, yo-yo curling with each step, her eyes glittering. “Poor Chat, meowing loudly like a stray, waiting to be stroked and loved.”

That analogy resonated with him. Was he really so pitiable?

“Let’s be really clear,” she said softly, squatting in front of him, meeting his dropped gaze. “You don’t get to manipulate or coerce me. You ask me for what you want. Like a good kitty.”

The way she purred that last bit made his whole body hot, burning enough to swallow him. His breaths were already ragged. But seeing her below him, talking like a sexual fantasy, almost stole the oxygen from his brain. She wanted to know what he wanted? Did he even know what he wanted? He certainly hadn’t asked for or expected this. The plan was to reveal their identities, fall in love, and live happily ever after. Like in books and movies. But when he tried to envision what that looked like…

“I don’t know,” he whispered, feeling his eyes sting. Oh god, don’t cry, not now, don’t ruin the mood! Thoughts of her intentions plagued his mind like a poison and he suddenly wondered if maybe agreeing to this was a very bad idea.

 

---

              

Ladybug stared up at him, noticing his eyes glistening beneath the mask. Tears? Is it too tight, did I hurt him? She almost pulled back the yo-yo but then she remembered the words. He could talk: if he wanted her to stop, she would. He had to know that, right? She wanted to ask, just call it off, but was that what a dom was supposed to do? Would he be disappointed in her? Was she doing this right? If Chat really wanted to be a sub, then maybe he expected her to make him cry. And yeah, she'd hurt him before, lashing out without meaning, but this was different. Now, she had to mean it. 

She didn’t know much about sadism or even if she was a sadist, but there was only one way to find out. “I think I know what you want, Chaton.”

Her hand gripped his knee, rubbing up his thigh, familiarizing herself.

“You want to be punished.”

His eyes widened, darting between her hand, her face, his torso, the door.

“You did a bad thing and all the guilt is eating away at you,” she continued, bravely, splaying her fingers on top of the cords on his chest. “Pressing against your chest like a dead weight.”

“Or a hairball?” he whispered, almost amused. She grinned at him, their faces almost inches apart as she found herself crawling up his body.

“Like another worthless apology,” she answered, pulling the cord sharply. He let out a small yelp. “But you can’t forgive yourself, can you? That’s why you want me to do it. You want me to take responsibility for your own guilt. You want me to take the blame.”

“I didn’t mean to,” he wheezed. She let up again, worried about his lungs.

“I’m tired of surprises,” she continued, standing up, confidence burning. Because he was watching her, not staring off into the distance, not covering his expression with a smile, not hiding his words for jokes. “And yelling and feeling like I’m going crazy. You don’t get to do that to me anymore. Hold up your hands.”

He bent his elbows, struggling to get his arms higher than his lap. “What now?”

Ladybug flipped, her wrist, loosing the yo-yo enough to walk over to the desk, to find the ruler she’d been absentmindedly thumbing while waiting for him to appear. The same one she’d experimentally slapped her arm with, remembering old stories of school marms. Before she grabbed it, she released her yo-yo, giving him one more chance to leave.

Chapter Text

With a loud zip and the rush of air collapsing in his lungs Chat Noir realized he was free. No, just unbound, he reasoned, holding his hands in the same position. Subs were supposed to obey orders and she’d explicitly told him to hold up his hands.  Therefore, he had no choice but to continue doing so.  No, that wasn't right either. He did have a choice. He could walk away right now and end it. 

Instead, he watched as she leaned over the desk, giving him a view of her ass as she reached over it. He bit his lip to hide a moan. She could have easily walked around the desk to reach into the drawer. This was purposeful. His lady was playing with him, every single movement, every phrase, strategically thought and placed. He’d seen it as soon as they’d started, then sudden confidence, the ease in her demeanor. Ladybug had thought about this whole scenario before even entering this room.

Was this what she was thinking about in class all day?  The thought made him shake: imagining her sitting behind him, biting her eraser between those plush lips, thinking lewd thoughts about the next time they were alone together. His body trembled, desperate to move. Ladybug kept her movements slow and languid as she drew a ruler from the desk and glided back toward him, holding the bendable plastic between two hands. Her eyes were taking in his steady form and he wondered if she noticed how still he’d stayed. If she liked that.

“Do you know what this is Chaton?”

 “A ruler,” he answered, reticent. Then, thinking better of it, “I’ve got enough inches, unless you’re plotting something else, bugaboo.”

Her arm came crashing down, the ruler slapping the edge of the seat between his legs. The sound was deafening. He froze, imagining what would have happened if she aimed higher.

“Teachers used to use these to punish bad students,” she said conversationally, like she hadn’t done anything remotely threatening, bending the ruler between her fingers. “They’d hit lefties, hoping to whack the curse right out of them. Do you know what happened when they did that?”

Chat swallowed. “People learned to use their right hand?”

“Exactly, Chaton,” she praised, warming him, even as she lightly tapped her palm with the plastic. “People learned to be better. That’s what punishment is for.”

“So … you’re going to make me … better?” he ventured, taking that into consideration, trying to understand her angle. He’d seen the way Marinette acted when their class talked about this months ago, raising her hand indignantly, going on about how terrible that was and how those teachers should have been fired. Chloe had even made a joke about it, causing Marinette to jump up from her desk with anger. He’d remembered everyone being wowed by the meek art girl going on a mad tirade while he’d sat there thinking how damningly similar to Ladybug she looked and if only they were the same girl.

Then he wouldn’t feel bad about wanting to kiss her.

“Mhm,” she affirmed, drawing the ruler against her lips. “Every time you do something bad, instead of fighting with each other, I’ll punish you. Do you understand?”

This was another rule but she wasn't setting it. This was a negotiation. It hadn’t escaped his notice how her gaze wavered away, her voice lost its strength. He could cut her off right now and stop this out of control spiral they were falling into. There was no way he could do that. Not when she was waiting so expectantly. Because she wasn’t just talking about today.

She was talking about a future.

He raised his hands up slightly. “I understand.”

“Five lashes and you’re going to count them.”

I can do this; she wants me to do this. “Yes, Ladybug.”

The ruler came crashing down, slapping his palms and cracking against the leather. Pain laced through him. He let out a cry, fingers straining to stay unclenched.

“One,” he groaned, meeting her eyes. She smiled, looking so lovely and proud. Then she hit.

The second time was almost easier. He knew the pain, expected it, overcame it. “Two.”

“Why am I hitting you?” She asked soft as silk.

“Because I sent you flowers.”

Then, out of nowhere another whack. Fuck, his mind scrambled, his hands throbbing. He had no idea how fucking sensitive his fingers could be. How long would they hurt? Would this bruise?

Oh god. This could bruise him.

“Not the flowers, Chaton, the meaning. You wanted attention, but couldn’t ask for it,” she insisted, not backing down from her original assumption. “How many was that?”

“Th-three,” he winced, the quickly blurted, “I really wanted you to like them.”

Ladybug breathed in, her brow furrowing, and then SLAP. Biting through the leather, his fingers beginning to curl as tears finally broke from his eyes.

“You did it for yourself.”

“Okay, okay, I did it because I wanted you to like me,” he agreed, desperately, voice growing hoarse. “Next time I’ll ask what I can do to make things up to you instead of making assumptions.”

“How. Many. Hits,” she grit out, ignoring his yammering. His mind felt hot. Had they done three? Or four? Fuck, please let it be four, he could do one more, just one more left.

“Four,” he breathed, knowing the fifth would follow. Ladybug’s fingers traced his palms, riding up from the edge of his wrist to the tips of his fingers, almost as if she could clasp hers between his. Every movement resonated, feeling so, so soft and great and god he was so hard. Just holding her hands felt like heaven, fucking hell.

“You were bragging,” she stated, leaning to whisper in his ear. “Look, I know who you are. Only me. Your identity is mine. You belong to me.”

He shuddered, thinking yes, yes, yes, until he realized she was talking about herself. About him.

His eyes followed her as she pulled back to stare at him and she was so beautiful and he knew he was an absolute fucking wreck covered in tears and blush and lust and shame. God, the temptation to kiss her was almost as strong as the throbbing in his palms. He wanted to pull out those pigtails, run his hands through her hair, take her tongue—

“If you really wanted to apologize to me, you wouldn’t have involved Marinette and the rest of the school. That’s not how we work, is it, Chaton? You leave Marinette alone, you understand?”

“You are Marinette,” he wanted to cry. “I like Marinette. I like you so so much.”

But this was a game. A game with rules. “Yes, Ladybug.”

The edge of the ruler brushed against his palms, a brief warning before she pulled back, before the plastic descended for one final blow. “Five...”

His head bowed, even as his hands remained open and waiting. Completely chained.

 

---

 

Ladybug watched him, exhilarated breaths burning in her throat. Her body was warm and wet. She knew, without even looking, her nipples were straining against her suit and if his face wasn’t bent over in pain, he’d know it too. Her body, more than the excitement in her blood, the racing of her thoughts, delivered the confirmation she wasn’t ready to face.

I’m a sadist.

But did he like it? He’d been crying. Big delicious tears that made her want to lick his face just as much as they made her want to apologize and run away. But then his breaths were rushed, his erection straining against his suit. His emerald eyes darkened with what she was coming to recognize as his own desire. Even though he’d never voiced it, she just … knew.

Tentatively, she reached to stroke his hair. He stiffened, remaining hunched over as she massaged around his cat ears. Her fingers danced back to lightly scratch his scalp. Their bodies were almost touching as she almost straddled the chair to whispered in his ear, “Good counting, you were amazing.”

Her heart was gushing and she couldn't stop it. “You didn’t even move the whole time; you took your punishment so bravely.” She lowered her hands on his back, drawing him forward, settling on his lap to wrap herself tightly around him. Fuck, he felt so amazing, so hard and warm and god she trembled as she was rubbing her cheek against his.

“You’re such a good kitty, Chaton.”

Chat let her, his arms slowly moving up to return the embrace. Slowly, he settled against her, nuzzling the side of her neck, letting out a large breath of relief. All the tension rising in his muscles released, and she melted with him. Whispers played against the spandex of her neck and he groaned as she massaged his shoulders. The sound was so raw, so male, and she wanted, oh she wanted …

No, focus, she chastised herself. “Was that okay?”

“Amazing, my lady” he purred, rubbing his cheek against hers. “Or should I say my mistress?”

Her laugh was almost silent, the sound puffing against his ear. “Stupid cat.”

There was a sound pulling at the edge of her thoughts, steps clamoring down the hallway. A voice called from the darkness that had started to overtake them.

“Anyone there?”

Ladybug jumped, pulling herself off him in milliseconds, staring at the silhouette of security guard lit by his flashlight outside the window on the door. His keys jangled as the knob rattled.  Her heart lept out of her chest, her thoughts racing as her body froze. He heard us. He knows. Everyone will know. Everyone will hate me.  

“The window,” Chat uttered, grabbing her by the arm, taking her out of her panic. They jumped out it, zipping up to the roof, crouching in silent terror. Ladybug listened as the man walked through the room, closing the window, muttering about “darn kids and their pranks.” But even that affirmation of his ignorance didn't quell the fear.

It was minutes before he was gone and Chat let out a deep breath. “Holy shit.”

“You can say that again,” Ladybug whispered. “We’d better get going. I’m sorry.”

“Hey, part of the whole hero gig,” Chat shrugged, “No time for privacy.”

It was weird seeing him so relaxed, like the classroom had never happened or they were meeting up for another akuma battle. “Are you … will you be okay getting home?”

“I’ll be fine,” he smiled broadly. “It’s cute that you’re worried though.”

“Hey, you were the one blubbering, not me,” she snapped, feeling embarrassed. In the Paris air, with the cool of evening all around her everything came crashing down. I’d climbed on him like a cat in heat! I hit him! I said all those weird things to him! Not to mention her family had no idea where she was and it was almost dinner time and she needed to help them with the bakery stuff. They were used to her being late with all the unexpected akuma fights, but they were easily getting tired of her excuses.

Oh god, I have no excuse for this, she bemoaned. What have I done?!

“Uh, hello, earth to Ladybug?” Chat was saying, waving a hand in front her face.

“What?” She asked, jumping back.

He had a saucy grin. “I asked: when’s the next time?”

Chapter Text

Adrien turned the knobs on the shower, letting the cold water pour over him as it slowly warmed. He looked down at his chest, smiling at the almost familiar marks of her yo-yo, touching the lines with the pads of his fingers. He didn’t know how to tell her but he really liked being bound. Especially when she played with the tension, tightening and loosing, giving him the illusion of control. His was grinning so hard he worried his face would stay in that goofy position. His hands touched his cheeks, hyper sensitive. He’d been amazed how much he could feel with just his hands. As heavy as those moments had been all she’d done was slap his hands, with his suit on no less, leaving a red brand that would probably fade by the next day.

I don’t really want it to fade, he thought with a frown, turning his hands over, staring at his pink palms. He liked being able to look and see that confirmation. That Ladybug of all people had chosen to touch him. He wanted to carry that brand as a precious secret. Ladybug had been so cool, almost another person, reminding him of the unrealistic expectations he’d had of her back when it was just a crush. Not so unrealistic, he teased himself, remembering her commanding presence. How funny it had been to see the difference on the rooftop.

“N-next time?! I mean, I don’t know I’d have to prepare more— I mean not that I’d really, you’re so easy to … you know what I need to go. Mom and dad are going to kill me and this is so, so strange and see you like maybe never? Sorry!”

He’d grabbed her arm as she tried to launch her yo-yo. “Everything is fine. We’re fine. Right?"

“Y-yeah,” she uttered, blush growing as she stared at his hand. “Look, some of those things I said, I mean, I was just looking for excuses, right? Like you don’t have to take it seriously—”

“I liked it,” he admitted, still reeling from the fact that he’d enjoyed her strange accusations. Enjoyed getting thrill of getting caught. It made him think about every “kind” deed he’d ever done, made him wonder if perhaps he was more selfish than he’d ever believed.

“I’ll try to be more careful with your identity in the future. I guess flowers aren't your—"

Ladybug cut him off. “They were really pretty and I know you didn’t mean it that way and it was kind of a nice surprise and if everyone hadn’t made a big deal, I—”

Second guessing herself, she shrugged out of his grip, throwing her yo-yo out.

“They were nice, okay?”

Adrien leaned against the tiles, trying not to laugh like a madman. God, she was so cute and stubborn. Zipping away in a rush of fear as if he could do anything to her. He’d contemplated chasing her down, knocking on her rooftop, letting her know that he wasn’t done with her just yet. Woah, where did that come from? He took a deep breath, turning off the icy water. There was so much he had to catch up on; he didn’t have time for flights of fancy. Instead, he put on some pajamas, toweled his hair, and walked into his room where his dad was sitting on the couch.

“Father!” He yelped, jumping. His eyes scanned the room for Plagg, hoping he hadn’t been caught. The kwami had dropped the transformation and floated away, muttering about needing sleep, the same way he always was. As long as they were pretending, Adrien was fine. Just like how Adrien pretended his dad cared about what he was doing.

It didn’t mean he expected him to show up in his room.

“Natalie said you missed fencing and Chinese today,” Mr. Agreste drawled, legs crossed comfortably. Geez, is this some kind of business meeting? Adrien thought sourly, wondering if he should keep standing there like an idiot or pretend to do something important.

“Well, an akuma attacked the school and the fencing class all ran off,” he lied effortlessly. “I’d gotten a little lost and it took me awhile to get back. I got sweaty from all the running, so…”

Those cold eyes assessed him, “No one saw you come through the front door."

“Oh, yeah I went through the back so I could get a snack,” he replied carelessly. Then blanched, realizing what he had just said. His father stood up slowly.

“You have a regimented diet because you are a model. You can’t just keep raiding the kitchen—for cheese of all things—and sneaking in extra meals at school. Already you—”

“My weight is fine,” he snapped, growing self-conscious. Ladybug had touched his body. What did she think? “I’ve been exercising a lot.”

“That’s another issue,” his father continued, towering over him. “Muscle gain is still weight and you’re bulking up way too much for the amount of energy you expend.”

“Yeah, but,” he started waving his hands. His dad caught his wrist and his heart stopped.

“What’s this?” he asked, softly, eyes narrowed. Fuck, he flinched. It felt wrong for someone else to see, to ask. This was Ladybug’s mark, not—

“Adrien?”

“I fell!” He blurted. “I was running from the akuma and caught myself on my hands really hard.”

“Hm,” he father murmured, dropping the wrist. He put his hands behind his back, which usually meant some sort of ultimatum was happening. “I don’t know what you’re really hiding Adrien, but the excuse of akuma attacks can only work for so long. Don’t disappoint me again.”

 He bowed his head. “Yes, father."

 

---

 

Marinette had somehow spent another night almost sleepless. Her parents hadn’t been mad, they never were, just happy that she’d been safe from the akuma attack. Alya had sent her a massive explosion of texts and only chilled out after Marinette finally texed back and  lied about turning off her phone. She’d rushed around doing her homework and chores, doggedly ignoring Tikki’s tiny interjections of, “Marinette we need to talk.”

After dinner she’d had no choice. After all, she and Tikki lived together. Plus, Chat probably had to talk with his kwami about whatever the hell they were doing too. It wasn’t a superhero thing and she didn’t want to hear how disappointed Tikki was with her or that what she did was wrong. Because Chat said they were fine. She wanted to be fine.

“I just think you are a little young for it,” Tikki began primly, crossing her arms. “And inexperienced. You could really hurt him without meaning to. You don’t know him well enough to gauge his limits.”

Marinette almost wanted to snap that she did, they’d fought side-by-side for so long, what she was doing wasn’t worse than commanding him to distract enemies and risk his life. That the cat miraculous pretty much set him up for pain. That at least she didn’t almost kill him. But she knew Tikki was right and she was way too embarrassed to say anything.

“So, if you really want to do this you need to spend more time researching it,” Tikki continued on, tapping her laptop authoritatively. “You could have cut off his circulation using cord on his chest like that; humans are very fragile. You need something softer.”

Marinette’s eyes bugged out, looking between the kwami paw and her keyboard. “What?”

“It's very important you be safe, sane, and consensual,” Tikki continued, like she was reminding Marinette to do her homework or something mundane.

“I’m sorry, what?”

Tikki started to repeat herself and Marinette cut her off. “No, I heard you, just … I thought you were going to tell me to stop or something.”

“Holding the miraculous already tampers with your everyday living,” Tikki sighed, floating to sit on the desk. “I don’t think it’s fair to tell you how to live your life when this is obviously something you really want to do. Especially if Chat wants it too. We just need to find a way to help the two of you do things right, okay? As your kwami I’m supposed to support you.”

It was like a weight had been lifted off her chest. Tikki had always allowed all her eccentricities, made her feel like she was a decent person. Someone who deserved a miraculous.

“Tikki, you’re the best!” she cried, letting her defenses crumble. Tikki floated up to pat her head consolingly, murmuring sweet nothings until Marinette calmed down.

“Besides, it’s not like you’re the first Ladybug with a kink problem.”

So that was a thing, apparently. Tikki just went back to snacking like she’d not just dropped a major bomb and Marinette spent about an hour staring at her homework before she gave up and went on her computer. Then she made the mistake of looking up BDSM. The images floored her. She’d known she was a visual person—it came with being an artist—but to actually see the reality of what they were doing? Naturally, nothing really matched what she was looking for—search terms like “light bondage” and “maybe doing BDSM”—everything was either hardcore or grossly sexual.

Which like, yeah, they hadn’t even taken off their clothes. Eventually she’d have to come to terms with seeing him naked. With maybe him seeing her naked. At what point did that cross the friendship line? Like, she could acknowledge because of their weird lives some things were acceptable, but what the hell were they doing with each other?

Could she still reasonably love Adrien while domming Chat Noir?

But when she laid in bed, it wasn’t the multitude of questions that haunted her. No, it was remembering the little moans he made in her ear, his voice grating out those numbers, his body hard and giving under hers. Not even the guilt from touching herself thinking about it that kept her staring at the ceiling.

It was the exhilaration.

Naturally, she slumped her way into class, feeling dead as can be. Alya showed sympathy, offering to help her study, getting excited as she showed pictures of Ladybug’s fight yesterday and teasing Marinette about the akuma she supposedly caused.

Marinette snorted, and Alya noticed.

“I mean, it’s his fault anyway,” she covered up, faulting back.

“Right. What happened with that? You talk about it?”

That stirred a strange feeling. Aww man did we “talk” about it.

“Uh, y-yeah I guess, he apologized and won’t do it again. He just thought I looked down lately and wanted to cheer me up. He forgot teenagers are stupid.”

“I told you he’s a teacher!” Alya started fuming again, as the final members of the class found their way in. Marinette’s heart fluttered as she saw Adrien’s seat.

Empty.

“What happened to Adrien?” Alya asked Nino, noticing Marinette’s dejection. She didn’t know what she was more upset about. The fact that he wasn’t there or the fact that she felt relieved he wouldn’t be there to look at her and know what sins she’d committed. How could they ever date now when she was so … so dirty?

“His dad grounded him yesterday,” Nino huffed, his friendly demeanor disappearing as his eyes narrowed. Marinette had felt uneasy in the few interactions she had with Gabriel Agreste. First, because she admired his work and wanted him to like her. Later, because for some reason Adrien always seemed so sad when he talked about him. She knew he was a business man, and an artistic genius but the guy couldn’t even remember his birthday! Nino, after his one interaction, was not a fan at all. It was pretty much the only thing he and Adrien fought about.

“Why?” Alya asked, her reporter senses probably tingling.

“Uh, because the akuma attack,” Nino answered, brows drawn, his voice inflecting upwards as if he questioned his own information. “Adrien was late to classes or something and his dad was worried about his safety. Not that it really matters, akumas just kind of happen, but he was saying his dad wants him to learn more discipline and not put himself in danger, I guess?”

“Well, maybe he should stop and think about not akumatizing his own son,” Alya replied thoughtfully. “Adrien is pretty zen but being unfairly punished might be the thing to push him.”

Marinette’s heart spasmed. Fighting Adrien?! On maybe two hours of sleep while working together with the guy she was cheating with—not that they were dating! Wait, did that count as cheating?

“Nah, he’s fine,” Nino brushed off, rubbing his neck. “He was saying he actually needed a chill day. He’s been pretty upset about something lately.”

She wanted to ask so badly, but Alya beat her to it.

“About what? He seemed fine yesterday.”

“Well, it was a bit before Marinette’s whole internet boyfriend—”

“Not my boyfriend,” she cut in.

“Right, well, your internet dude or whatever you call him. My bro can be a bit … slow on the customs of the lay people, you understand. He mentioned something about upsetting a friend of his; so I gave him some chill advice to mellow him out.”

“I swear to god, I don’t know why he trusts you with anything,” Alya teased, looking as annoyed as she was affectionate. “We need details, man!”

Nino’s eyes slid partially shut, giving Alya a dopey smile. “You should call me man more often, babe.” The two gave each other those looks, so awkward and cringy, and Marinette wanted to groan. That was the other reason she needed Adrien here. He was the buffer. They didn’t care about being all kissy-kissy around her but Adrien got special treatment because he was, as Alya explained gently, a pure sunshine child not ready for the adult world.

Marinette joked about Alya indirectly calling her a pervert and Alya had only grinned like a cat with crème. At the time, it seemed like friendly banter, but now she could help but wonder…

“He asked me how to change himself,” Nino finally described, looking somewhat thoughtfully at the desk. “Said they won’t like him the way he is and he really wants them to. I guess he was disappointed when I said he should just be himself and that people are gonna like who they like.”

Marinette frowned, wondering who could possibly dislike Adrien.

But even worse than that was the idea that Adrien felt the same self-loathing she did.

Chapter Text

Adrien sighed, spinning in his computer chair, fingers interlaced on his stomach as he stared at the multitude of tabs open on his screen. One of the greatest things about being grounded was that his father always cancelled all his outdoor plans. He couldn’t remember a day when he’d only had a couple lessons and make up homework. No photo-shoots, no driving around town, no managers, no fencing, no excited fans. Just him and the empty confines of his room.

God, he hated his room.

Okay, he supposed, as Nino pointed out, it was the coolest pad ever and he was a spoiled brat. It had a rock-climbing wall, skating hoop, veranda, large window, private bathroom, and yet it still felt sterile, like an observation room in a psychiatric research facility. He found himself yearning for a space that felt like his own. All he wanted was to go to a certain designer’s room and live on her settee. He’d seen it once, when an akuma led him in her room, and even without knowing who she was he’d thought, “That’s my spot.”

But, as Ladybug had so sexily explained last night, he was a stray, and Marinette was supposed to mean nothing to him. He sighed again, closing out all of the windows, almost hoping an akuma would show up just so he could have the excuse to see her. The obsession with her was starting to become a problem.

Somewhere along the way he had forgotten it. From the first day he put on that Chat Noir ring he’d know this whole charade was going to be an ordeal. But he’d convinced himself it would be manageable and jumped into it without a second thought, desperate for any taste of freedom, even if it meant listening to a cheese addict and risking his life against overblown temper tantrums. The price was well-worth the reward and he sacrificed a lot of time to keep his image, his grades, his life, perfect enough for his father.

Until now.

This wasn’t a punishment for the akuma excuse, he knew that quite well. It was a punishment for getting caught in a lie, no doubt, a contest to see who would yield first. Would Adrien finally tell the truth or would his father finally sympathize? Sometimes, Adrien told “truths” and other times his father lifted the ban after a reprimand from Natalie. But with Marinette already feeling jeopardized because of her identity and their relationship doing … whatever the hell they were doing … he knew now, more than ever, yielding was not an option.

Ladybug was a noble pursuit. If exposed, Hawkmoth would do terrible things in retaliation, but Marinette would still have her honor and her pride. If the nature of their desires got out, however …

So, he stayed in his room, observing the boring white walls until Natalie knocked.

“You have a visitor,” she informed him from the other side. He turned off his screen.

“Am I allowed to have visitors?” He asked cautiously, approaching the door.

“Just keep it brief,” Natalie answered, opening the door. He barely heard her heels clopping away because his heartbeat became that excruciatingly loud.

Standing outside his door, with a folder between her pretty hands, was Marinette. In all her stammering, I-can-barely-tolerate-you glory.

“Hi,” he said breathlessly, wondering how crazy she’d think he was if he just went ahead and said he loved her and wanted to do naughty things with her for the rest of their lives. He could imagine her flustered expression as he took her to his computer, showing her the results of his research, pointing like an excited kid at a theme park, saying "Mari, let's try that one!"

“Hi,” she squeaked, nervously flickering, eyes shifting. “Can I come in? AHAHAHA, you know, the hall, it’s—you’re awkward! I mean, I’m…”

“Come in,” he cut in softly, putting her out of her own misery. She tip-toed in, looking around his room with the general awe of a first-time guest. Not that she was since she had been here a few times as Ladybug. He supposed it was pretty smart of her to pretend to be impressed again.

“So,” he started, drawing out the sound. “Why are you here?”

“Right, my homework!” She thrust the folder toward him. “Well, your homework, I’m just here delivering, but you already know that … So, yeah?”

“Oh, thank you,” he answered with a smile, taking the folder.

“Ahahahaha, your problem,” she answered with a grin and … finger guns?

Fuck, it was so hard to not grin at her like a love-sick idiot. He could feel his facade cracking.

Her eyes widened. “I mean, my problem, I mean NO! Problem. None. I’m not inconvenienced by this at all, in fact I just love you—H-HELPING you!” She stuttered out erratically, getting more agitated by the second. He flinched, taking in the sarcasm dripping in her words. For all he knew, the teacher forced her to come all the way over here. Marinette never struck him as mean, but the passive-aggressive approach she took with him was unsettling. At least Chloe was obvious when she disliked someone and didn’t even pretend to cater to their feelings. If he ever called Marinette out on whatever this was, she’d probably just feel guilty and apologize and bottle her feelings. He never wanted her to feel like that.

So, instead, he did what he did best.

Smiled.

“Yes, well that’s expected from the class president and all,” he answered neutrally. “But still, you didn’t have to come out here and I really appreciate that you did, Marinette.”

Her face turned tomato red and he inwardly winced. Did it sound like he was entitled? Or that he was mocking her? What was he doing wrong?! His hand was itching to touch her, settle on her shoulder as he tried to steady her. Then he remembered yesterday and his face grew flushed. Would she notice? Was there anything left to notice? Had he been quiet for way too long?

Which is how he somehow ending up blurting through the silence, “You wanna watch a movie?”

Somehow, that actually got her to stop jittering. “What?”

Oh fuck, now it was awkward. Was it normal for guys to invite their girlfriend—friend that happened to be a girl—to watch movies or was this one of those flirtations he didn’t know he was doing?

Make it seem natural Agreste!

“Yeah, it’s kind of boring being stuck here all day,” he continued, trying to desperately shut himself up. “I’m glad you came by. I have tons of cool movies. You can pick one.”

Now she was grinning at him, her eyes almost manic as they filled with panic. “Me? Pick? Ahahahaha, with ME? Ah! I mean, I don’t know! I’m not good at this? Natalie!”

His eyebrows shot up. Is she  actually going to ask for permission?

"Sh-she said I had to be quick! Didn’t even want me to get in, like I’m some sort of stalker or something right? Which, hello, I’m NOT obviously. I don’t do that, why am I even talking about that? You’re going to get in trouble. You should go!”

He tried not to let the disappointment show too much on his face. “Right, well, thanks again for coming by Marinette. You take care of yourself, okay?”

“MHM!” She muffled out, face stiff as cardboard. “Bye!”

It wasn’t until she slammed the door that he realized she accidentally said she loved him. How sad was it that just that made him giddy? Maybe he really was a masochist …

 

---

 

Marinette slumped onto her bed, groaning in her pillow.

“I’m such an idiot Alya!” She cried into the receiver. “I totally had a chance and I blew it!”

“Like how bad are we talking?” Alya probed, tone laced with amusement.

“Like, “hey you wanna watch a movie with me Marinette?” and “No, because I’m your stalker!” god, he probably thinks I’m so fucking crazy.”

“Girl, you did steal his phone.” Alya would never let her live that down.

Another cry into the pillow. “He doesn’t know that! You didn’t tell him, right?”

“I barely talk to the guy,” Alya drawled, probably twining her hair in her fingers like she usually did when they started talking about Adrien nonsense. “You’re not the only one whose shy, you know. He probably talks more to you than he does to me and that’s really saying something.”

“It’s probably because I put my face in his business all the time,” she whined, sitting up and hugging her pillow. Adrien was extremely introverted and usually kept to himself. He probably hated every time she intruded on his silence. “He’s probably afraid of me and keeping me at bay the same way he does with Chloe! Oh god, I’m Chloe, Alya!”

“Sweetie, you’re not rich enough to be Chloe. That’s like a third of her personality. The rest is filled with narcissism and general bitchery and unless you’re playing me, you really don’t have those either,” Alya soothed in that no-nonsense way of hers. Ah, Alya, Marinette was so lucky she moved to Paris. Who else could tolerate her brand of crazy?

“You know, we were getting better. Just last week we talked about the homework and I didn’t stutter or anything. I don’t know why I blew it today. It was as bad as the beginning.”

Alya winced. Actually winced. “That bad?”

All she could do was whimper. Alya comforted her with soothing nothings, reminding her that Adrien was probably the least judgmental person in the world.

“Hold on though,” Alya said slowly, the way she did right before regurgitating a new Ladybug theory. “He asked you to watch a movie with him. Alone. In his room?”

“Okay, it sounds bad, but it’s Adrien,” Marinette defended, disliking the implication in her tone. “He was just lonely and wanted to hang out with someone.”

“Still girl, I can’t believe you turned down a date. Hey, you know what, you could ask him about it when he comes back to school. Just say you were busy today and you want to reschedule.”

“Oh, great idea, Alya, that will go about as well as the other times I’ve tried to ask him out,” Marinette groaned. Why was it the one guy that she was totally into made her a fucking spaz? She was an okay public speaker, usually comfortable hanging out with boys, even if she was quieter. Meanwhile when she was with Chat Noir …

Holy shit. She didn’t like that comparison at all. Just imagining herself talking down to Adrien like that was terrifying. She'd make him cry! And not even shameful, "this hurts but tell me more" tears like Chat's, but real heartbroken "I'll never forgive you" tears. Her mind clung to that image, even as Alya and her stayed on the phone like they normally did while doing homework. How would it be like if Adrien was more like Chat? Why were both of them so different from other boys?

Am I always going to be comparing the two? Is it wrong? After, lingering on the idea she finally decided to ask Tikki,

“Hey, why do you think I get spaz-tastic with Adrien?”

Tikki looked up from the spools of thread she was color coding. “Um, nerves, I guess. You like him a lot and you don’t want to seem silly and then you overthink and try too much at once.”

“But, here’s the thing, Tikki: I was so, so nervous with Chat the other day but I was so calm on the outside,” she rushed out, breaking through her humiliation. Because it wasn't like she could talk to Alya about this. “How come I can’t just channel that confidence when talking to Adrien? It doesn’t make any sense.”

Tikki plopped down on the desk, her little paw tapping her chin. “I don’t know. There's something different happening there. One of my Ladybug’s once talked to me about subspace. She said it was almost like her mind became fine-tuned, more instinctual. But that’s part of being in the scene, I suppose.”

The fact that he kwami of luck and all that was good and pure in this world just spouted that out of her cute little mouth sent Marinette reeling. Tikki mistook her shock for confusion and went on.

“I guess you’re pretending to be another part of yourself. Like when you’re being Ladybug. I have a feeling you’d be able to talk to Adrien just fine if he was in danger and you were doing your job. Ladybug gives you confidence and Chat’s someone you can trust. Between those two things, it’s no wonder that you can be comfortable with him.”

Something about that struck her. “So, what, I don’t trust Adrien?”

“If you think something you will say will make him hate you, I suppose,” Tikki answered thoughtfully. “Humans are a bit confusing for me. It’s more like you trust that Chat won’t hate you.”

She was quiet for a while, sketching an outfit full of curves and confusion. “Do you think it’s awful of me to be this way?”

Tikki blinked. “Why?”

“Well, I like Adrien, I really do, and I want to be with him. And I like Chat—as a friend of course—but he expects me to continue our … thing. After how it went I think I want to. Is that bad?”’

“I’ve already told you Marinette, you can like two people at once,” Tikki scolded, rolling her eyes. They'd had conversations before the whole reveal debacle about her possibly having a crush on Chat Noir and although Marinette was adamant this was not the case, Tikki had yet to let it go. She'd learned to just drop it at this point.

Tikki finally finished her sorting, floating up to admire the gradient. Then she turned to Marinette. “You should think about what things you like about each one and come to a fair decision.”

Yet her mind still wavered, unable to sort through the murk in her heart. 

Chapter Text

Adrien was able to return to school after three days feeling refreshed and ready. He’d spent the time contemplating his awkward situation with Marinette, as well as his father, and thought he’d possibly come to a solution for both. His father had let up the grounding once Adrien was able to show him his finished reports and apologize for being careless. Adrien had thought of a few loopholes for some of his lessons—mostly in case of sudden akuma attacks—and even went as far as to schedule into his night time to make more space for homework. Once he showed better results, his father would surely back off. 

Marinette was another issue entirely. He couldn’t figure out a decent way to tell her about his identity and he wasn’t sure he felt honest continuing to “play” with her. First, he felt she’d be insulted that he tricked her once she knew his real identity. Second, she’d expressed there was another boy she liked and it was unfair to manipulate her away from him if that was what she really wanted. Third, their lives were already hectic enough without covert meetings. Every aspect had solutions, but he wasn’t sure how to implement them. Obviously, he needed to get her like Adrien. Whatever happened between them, they still were partners, and she needed to be comfortable enough with him so he could reveal the truth. Before that, he needed to sit her down and more directly approach what she expected from Chat Noir. Then, follow her expectations.

Naturally, Marinette liked to keep things unpredictable.

“Hello, thanks again for bringing the classwork,” he greeted, approaching her desk as direct as possible. Even Chloe raised a brow at him as he stood there waiting for a response.

Marinette looked up at him, her expression stiff as she swallowed sharply.

“You really helped me.” He patted her shoulder, hoping his warm grip conveyed his sincerity.

“No problem,” she said steadily, actually meeting his eyes. “Glad to see you’re back.”

Am I dreaming? She was talking to him! Like she didn’t hate him. He smiled, giving her a gentle squeeze. “Yeah, I’m glad to be back.”

Marinette breathed in, her lips soft and pink as she slowly smiled back. He removed his hand, realizing he’d lingered too long. For him, he was looking down at the girl he loved, the girl who had just a few days ago had dominated him with just a ruler and her sexy voice. Stop thinking about that, she doesn't even know who you are anyway! Sometimes, it got difficult to remember that he was nothing to her. Just because she talked to him didn't mean he could push his luck. Growing uneasy from her unyielding stare, his inched towards his seat, feeling his shoulders hunch as he dug through his bag.

“What was that dude?” Nino whispered, eyes wide with shock.

“I don’t know, but it worked,” he whispered back excitedly. The sat through class filled with a strange exhilaration. Does this mean she doesn't hate me anymore? For the life of him he couldn't figure out what had changed. Their last encounter had been just as awkward and tense as all the rest. It made him wish they were close enough to share their feelings; try as he might, there were just some things about her he didn't understand. He didn’t have another chance to talk to her until lunch. Usually, he liked to retreat to do his own thing since it was one of the only times in the day he could just sit down and take a breath, but he asked Nino to invite him along and he bravely continued with the conversation starter he’d focused on all morning.

“Some weather, huh?” he asked Marinette, who nodded at him, then went back to talking to Alya about the pastries she’d brought. He tried to keep going anyway. “It looks like it’s going to rain later.”

“Yeah, dude; if they cancel your photoshoot, you should totally come to my place and play mecha strike,” Nino cut in enthusiastically. “We gotta hang more.”

Adrien felt a twinge of guilt that his first thought after hearing the weather report had been about what a great opportunity that would be to find Ladybug. They could snuggle up somewhere and watch the rain patter on the window, light some candles, and when dusk settled in—

“Are you still grounded?” Nino asked sadly, noticing Adrien’s extreme concentration.

“Well, you know father he’s never…” he trailed off, realizing he was saying more than he needed to. Nino was already getting that familiar look of consternation, another uncomfortable rant waiting underneath it. He'd already been livid when Adrien called to let him know he was pulled out of school again. “But yeah, I’ll try to see if we can set something up Nino.”

“You know, Marinette was saying she needed to get more practice in for Mecha Strike’s next tournament. Maybe we can join you,” Alya interjected, some strange light in her eye. For whatever reason, maybe it was because Nino was now her boyfriend, Alya had been doing her best to try to improve Adrien’s friendship with Marinette. It seemed like every other day she threw Marinette in his direction, only for him to accidentally mess it up. If only I had more time to prepare…

“Today?!” Marinette squeaked, her face pinkening. “Oh, I can’t! I’ve got important things to do—not that being with you isn’t important—just … maybe another time?”

Just like that, they were back to ground zero.

 

---

 

Marinette was 110% sure if that if she confessed to her friends that she wanted to spend the afternoon planning on preparing for her next kink meeting with her leather catsuit wearing partner, they  would forever shun her. Tikki had mentioned it would rain in the afternoon, and she was more accurate than TV, and sudden rain usually meant sudden akumas which meant she might run into Chat Noir and then they’d—

“What’s so important?” Alya prodded, frowning. “You’ve been working way too hard lately, girl, you need a break. You hardly ever relax anymore! It’ll be a lot of fun.”

Alya had that mad dog look in her eyes which meant she wasn’t going to let go. Marinette knew she was just trying to be helpful—it was her own damn fault for worshiping Adrien so much in front of her—but how did she explain that she needed more time to decide how to feel about Adrien? Tikki’s advice about playing a role  and trying to trust him had actually been pretty sound. But the more she thought about finally getting the courage to ask him out, the more she thought about a certain black cat, staring up at her with those emerald eyes.

“It would be fun,” Marinette hedged, realizing all three of them were staring at her. “But I have a, uh, previous engagement and—”

“Oh my god, is it your internet boyfriend?” Alya demanded. Marinette flinched. She’d jokingly said over the phone it would be funny to see Adrien get jealous over the new attention she was getting but Marinette didn’t think she’d actually try anything this obvious. Plus, a guy had to care about you first to get jealous. Just ask freakin’ Chat. He turned into a silly braggard every time Ladybug even complimented a guy. And even if he seemed okay with her crush on Adrien, she could tell it bothered him.Not that she wanted to talk about it, but she did think it was weird that he wouldn't even say his name in front of her. Instead, he got abnormally quiet, his face taking on an almost porcelain quality, void of the warmth he normally exuded.

She happened to glance at Adrien who, for some odd reason, was staring back at her very intensely. There was something about his eyes, the same ones once spattered all across her bedroom wall, that seemed to speak directly to her, holding some secret only they could share. All she could do was drop her gaze, feeling her throat start to tighten in panic. It was impossible, she knew that, but she felt like could just look at her and know and she’d be exposed and then no one would ever want her to be Ladybug ever again.

“I-i-if he’s online, we might talk,” she stuttered out, her face almost in pain from the blush. “He’s really busy too, you know. It’s not like I was planning on anything!”

“Maybe you should invite him over!” Alya beamed, probably admiring her own genius. “It’s about time you meet him anyway and if he’s really busy maybe he needs a break too!”

A break from life in a dark room, his hands shaking from her touch as she slid her fingers over his…

“NO!” She almost shouted, her eyes shifting between them as they all looked more concerned. “It would be weird, not that you guys are weird, I’m weird. I mean, he’s weird, shit! What I meant was we haven’t met yet and it would be really weird.”

Her legs were curling up in front of her and she wanted to die. Once again, her heart was hammering so loudly that it pounded in her skull. Normally when it got this bad, she’d just run to the bathroom and take a breather but Adrien was there and she was trying so, so hard to seem normal.

“I doubt my father will let me anyway after what happened the other day,” Adrien said softly, some emotion she couldn’t decipher in his eyes. “I’ll try to set aside a day on my schedule and let you guys know as soon as possible. Maybe I could convince him to let you guys come to my house.”

“That’d be cool,” Alya answered, eyes shining. “Just think, an inside scoop on the manor of reclusive fashionista genius Gabriel Agreste.” Everyone gave her a tired look and she laughed. “I’m kidding! For real though, how come you haven’t invited us over already?”

“I’ve been over,” Nino answered between bites of his sandwich. “It’s pretty cool, I guess.”

“Really?”

“Babe, I don’t gotta tell you everywhere I go,” he teased, a gleam in his eye. “Besides, it was just for a class project, no need to get jealous. Adrien’s pretty, but you know you’re the only one for me.”

Alya huffed, rolled her eyes and checked her phone while Adrien and Nino busted out laughing. It was nice to see them relaxed and getting along; Adrien rarely laughed, despite his positive attitude about everything. When he laughed the sound seemed to move his whole body, his face lighting with a vitality so different from the relaxed poise in his pictures. Marinette hoped that one day she could make him laugh so happily.

She bet Chat could do it. 

Chapter Text

By the time Adrien got out of school he was jumpy with anticipation. Predictably it had started to rain during fencing practice, and that made him think about Marinette and that look on her face when he handed her that umbrella the first day they met and for a moment thought that they were destined for … something. That was before he met her at school again and she started stuttering and squawking out a storm while everyone just held in their laughs because they knew whatever stupid thing he’d done to eternalize her intense need to be as far away from him as possible.

Now, as he stood on the steps, waiting for his bodyguard, staring at his phone, he couldn’t help but feel like rain was going to start meaning something else for him. He hadn’t missed the way those big cerulean eyes of hers wavered at the way she said previous engagement. It felt sneaky of him somehow.  Almost thrilling. Because he knew, without a doubt, that she was talking about Chat Noir. He had no idea how they’d contact each other, but he was sure she had something up her sleeve.

Though he supposed he could always just get brave enough to knock on her roof.

He was interrupted from this train of thought when a giant black mass shot through the street, snapping around all the cars to pull them back. In a flash, he jumped up the steps, looking in horror as he realized they were being tangled in hair. Miles and miles of inky black hair overtaking the city.

“Aw, man it’s raining, I hate working when it rains!” Plagg groaned from in his bag. “Can’t Ladybug just take of this one by herself! It’s so gross.”

But Adrien had been running, two steps at a time to the abandoned classroom. “Claws out!”

The akuma was easy to trace. All he had to do was follow the hair to the center of what looked to be the location of his professional photography studio. He’d bet all of Plagg’s cheese that the akuma was some model unhappy with the sudden change in weather. He'd guess the humidity frizzed up her hair. 

Ladybug jumped on the roof beside him.

“Hello, my lady,” he cheerfully greeted. “We’re about to get in a hairy situation.”

“You know, if puns are going to be your thing you might want to set the standard instead of going for the lowest hanging branch,” she snarked, pushing her wet hair out of her face. It proceeded to whip back into place from the encroaching winds of the storm. He was surprised to see the slight curl it had.

“Ugh!” She ground out, trying to press it behind her ears. He wondered if she’d let him braid it if he asked.

“Rest asheared, my lady,” he started instead, standing up straight. “I’ll cut this short.”

She let out another exclamation, but this one was more of a soft whimper, and he realized she was shivering from the cold.

“Bugaboo, are you okay?”

“Fine, just fell in a puddle before I transformed. Forgot my umbrella yet again. I really wasn’t in the mood for an akuma today,” she pouted, crossing her arms.

“That’s tearable,” he sympathized, proud that she'd come anyway. “If it makes you feel any better, you’ve made my day.”

Some hair from the streets whipped up at them and they jumped out of the way. Then he slipped on the shingles, sliding to the edge of the roof, his claws barely holding on. He felt something compress around his body and then he was dragged away.

“Chat!” She shouted, zipping after him, running along giant ridges of hair. Then his vision was completely obscured by the inky strands, hair tendrils wrapped around him tight as piano strings. He thought about using cataclysm but he was too afraid the hair was attached to the akuma and he had no idea what cataclysm could do to a person.

After being bumped and shingled around, he was suspended from the top of a stage in the studio, colored lights flashing on the woman below.

“Look what cat I dragged in,” the akuma simpered, covered in a strange assortment of bedazzled gems and jewels. Her skin was eggshell white, and he recognized the sharp planes of her face. Jeanne, a fellow model for the Agreste line. Aw man, he inwardly sighed. She was worse than Chloe so he supposed it was nice that she had just barely been akumatized but still. Dealing with people he knew and worked with was so much harder than strangers.

Her face lit up with butterfly neon. “Oh yes, I’d love a new accessory.”

This, naturally, prompted him to struggle in the bonds. The realization that he couldn’t escape settled in and a strange feeling of resentment settled in his chest. Ladybug was supposed to tie him up, not some stranger. Plus, the hair was wet and slimy and his position was awkward and holy shit this was not the time to be thinking about that. The hair tightened and his fear only escalated. He felt his arm being forcibly moved down and he tried to resist while gritting his teeth. He watched as the hair slid off his hand, and the akuma rode up on her own strands to admire Plagg's ring.

“How gauche,” she pouted, slapping his hand away. “It doesn’t suit moi!”

Her face lit up again and he was sure Hawkmoth was lecturing the akuma or something. Unfortunately, her distraction did nothing to unbind him. “You know what would really suit you?”

“Hm?” She turned to stare at him eyes like diamonds. “You look familiar.”

 “A butterfly!” He interrupted, ignoring her. “Cats are so last season, my miraculous is pawsitively boring. But a butterfly would look stunning with your complexion!”

“Really?” She gushed, her hair loosening. “I was so worried about my hair frizzing in the rain. Utter disaster! But now I’m absolutely perfect, don’t you think?”

“I’m flattered just being near you,” he emphasized, knowing how much she liked it when fans said that. The model had terrible mood swings, going from the runway diva to unconfident compliment fisher with minutes. He’d once asked his father if maybe they should have required mental health services for their employees to help with the stress of the fashion world. Predictably, his father called it a waste of time. He said mental illness could be better translated to mental weakness and anyone who couldn’t handle the heat didn’t need to stay in the industry. That was probably around the time Adrien had stopped actively trying to engage him.

Bigger fish to fry Chat, he chided himself, “Surely, something more suited to a girl as pretty as you. Hawkmoth has the perfect miraculous. Why, you could turn yourself into this form whenever you want!”

Jeanne’s hair loosened, enough for his other hand to reach for his baton. “Oh, you’re just trying to trick me! You think I’m disgusting, tell me the truth!”

His binding tightened again and he choked. “No, really. You’re stunning!”

The akuma looked dubious. Chat supposed being kept around for constant compliments was better than losing his miraculous. “The most beautiful girl in all of Paris!”

It was just his luck that Ladybug chose that moment to come crashing through the room with a giant pair of  polka dot scissors. A few snips later, a screaming model, and a broken mirror and the akuma was defeated. She de-transformed, her hair floating around her head in a frizzy bird nest.

He helped her up, noticing that she was still crying. “It's fine. You aren’t even a little disgusting. There’s nothing wrong with having a bad day, you know. You’re probably the prettiest model in the industry, you know that?”

Jeanne sucked up her tears, trying to look proud, accentuating the perfect angles of her face. “I never have bad days but thanks for the compliment, cat boy.”

 

---

              

I’m so stupid, Ladybug told herself, flinching as the wind outside caught her. Why she thought Chat would possibly be interested in a bitchy girl like her when he apparently could sweep models of their feet was beyond her! God, he really does flirt with all the girls, she thought grumpily, wondering why that bothered her so much. It’s not like she cared anyway. If he wanted to hang out with Jeanne D’Arc, one of the top contracts for the Agreste fashion line, then by all means! It wasn't like they were dating anyway. The things they had done probably meant nothing to him anyway.

“Ladybug, wait!” Chat called, running after her. Naturally, this drew all the attention of the citizens waiting outside the agency. Ladybug rolled her eyes, throwing her yo-yo, too fed up to deal with anyone and their questions. Her life sucked right now. She didn’t want to pretend to be friendly and encouraging and happy. Her miraculous beeped out a warning as she landed on a building.

“Hold on!” Chat called, vaulting after her. I really should just leave, she thought, knowing he didn’t deserve her going on him. It’s not like they were an item or anything. She already had a boy she liked anyway, so why even bother—

Screw that, she internally shouted, turning on a heel. Chat skirted on the flat roof, almost crashing into her. She raised a brow as he caught himself.

“Why’d you leave so fast?” He asked, catching his breath. “I just wanted to talk!”

“I’m about to de-transform,” she uttered, flashing her earring at him. The excuse had served well in the past.

Chat frowned, his tail curling around his leg, his ears drooping. He looked almost as miserable as she felt. “I’m sorry I wasn’t much help this time. She had me in a close shave.”

Ladybug barked out a laugh before she could stop herself.

He grinned in response. “That’s the pun that makes you laugh? Really?”

“Of course not,” she snapped, her earrings beeping urgently. “It’s because you’re so unbelievable! You even have the gall to joke about it!”

“Why are you upset? Did something happen?” He asked, holding on to her arm. Could he really be asking that after he almost lost his miraculous? Did he feel no fear whatsoever when akuma’s thrashed him around? God, maybe he actually liked it. His fingers barely touched her, the claws making a neat circle. She jerked her arm back.

“Leave me alone! I can’t believe I was actually worried about you while you were just hanging around and flirting with that model! Seemed pretty cozy, Chat, why don’t you just ask her to suspend you next time? I’m sorry she was covering all of Paris; next time I won’t intrude! Let me know how it goes being with the jewel of Paris, you alley cat!”

“Are you serious right now?” He demanded, voice lowering with anger.

Ladybug’s heart fluttered. He didn’t normally get mad at her and when he did, he never looked like that… She expected him to just leave, follow up on her suggestion with the model, explain he didn’t actually care about her. After all, she was convenient and willing to do what he wanted but that didn’t mean she was his first choice. Why did that piss him off anyway? Not that she had time to figure out what got his tail in a twist. Her day already sucked; she really didn’t need to transform back into Marinette drooping with mud while he yelled at her for trying to save his life again.

“Whatever,” she muttered, getting ready to swing her yo-yo.

“The classroom!” He shouted, stopping her yet again. “We’re not done, okay?”

She gave him a curt nod before retreating.

 

---

 

Chat picked open the window lock with his nail, lifted up the glass, and slid through the opening. The classroom was dark and empty. Maybe she won’t show, he thought morosely, walking over to the door to make sure it was locked. He’d immediately ran over here, barely having enough time to get his thoughts together, trying to figure out what bothered him the most. Was it her lack of faith in him? It kind of stung that she was so ready to hand him away to another girl. He knew he wasn’t her crush, but damn, he thought she cared a little bit. Also, ironic that she’d get mad about it considering she was the one who didn’t want any labels on their relationship. Plus, she’s the one who loves someone else! What even am I to her? Because, like it or not, they had something and he’d been stupid enough to think that meant more.

Ladybug was an enigma. She pulled him in. She pushed him away. He supposed it should be flattering that she was jealous but he found himself being disappointed instead. All he did was try to help an akuma victim, that’s what they always did. Jeanne had been so fragile and lost, totally different from the normal exuberant confidence she held but instead of giving her a kind word Ladybug had just walked off in a huff. Ladybug always checked up on victims, even if it was someone like Chloe. Did she just really hate models or something? If he told her how much he related to Jeanne, how he was worried she had an eating disorder, how he also felt like he’d never be good enough … would she just laugh at him? Or would she think him a wimp and tell him to get over himself because he was lucky to have everything he did? Maybe her response to Jeanne bothered him because he imagined her scorning him.

His pacing was interrupted when Ladybug slid through the window, shaking the water off herself. The clock overhead told him that he’d been waiting for almost an hour, stewing in his thoughts.

“Sorry, Chat, I got home and my parents were behind on a delivery and I had to wash off the mud but I got here as fast as I could,” she got out, catching her breath. Seeing her bent over, hand on her chest, almost mollified him. She looked almost … apologetic. “Have you been waiting a long time?”

“Not that long,” he uttered, not wanting to embarrass himself further. Apparently, his embarrassment was contagious because now she was awkwardly fidgeting.

“Are you sure you want to?” She began, gesturing the room. “While we’re…”

Her hands gestured between them and he raised his brow, realizing the source of her confusion. Did she really think he invited her to play BDSM partners right now? Well, he wanted to ever since she mumbled about previous engagements at lunch but he was supposed to be mad at her, right? Had he just made a big deal out of something inconsequential again?

“I guess?” He replied, voice rising in pitch. Even then, it felt wrong. They still hadn’t really talked about rules or anything. All she said was that she might punish him sometimes, but he didn’t do anything wrong!

“Chat, I … “ She wavered, looking a little lost. “I don’t know if we should keep doing this.”

Well, it wasn’t like he didn’t expect it end eventually. “Okay.”

“Because, I … okay?” She repeated, her brow drawing. “That’s it? Okay?”

“Well, it’s not like I can make you,” he snorted, hand on his hip. “You’ve been on the fence from the beginning and now you've stooped to mocking me for it. Hell, you told me to go ask that girl to partner with me which, by the way, not cool LB. Just because I got tied up didn’t mean I suddenly enjoyed it! You really think I get aroused by every single akuma we fight? Even though I like what we’re doing doesn’t mean I automatically like any situation where I’m in danger. It was really rude of you to suggest it, especially since you didn’t want me putting you down for your kinks. You were the one who started all of this anyway and not once have I ever tried to shame you for it. It wasn’t my fault I got snatched up by an akuma, okay? That’s part of the job requirement, LB. You didn't have to be so awful about it. I just wish you’d think about things before you yelled them at me.”

Fuck, he winced, staring at the disbelief on her face. I can’t believe I said all that. But he had and there wasn’t any going back now. He stood his ground, fully steeling himself to defend his position.

Ladybug walked over to him, her face downcast and soft. “You’re right.”

“I am?” He asked, confused as she took his hands in hers.

“Chat, I’m not very good at being angry,” she admitted softly, her thumbs stroking the outside of his hands. His stomach flipped, enjoying the low profile of her face as she focused on the ground. “Sometimes I have a bit of a temper and it kind of clouds my head and I say things that I don’t really mean. Most of the time I just put up with shit so when I finally get pissed, I guess I explode. I should have just left instead of yelling at you. I wasn't being fair to you at all.”

Wow, he inwardly gushed, she’s so cute when she’s apologizing.  It was flattering that she felt comfortable enough exposing her flaws to him. That she had thought about him at all.

“Well, you did try to leave,” he answered steadily, gripping her hands back, feeling solid again. “I appreciate that you were trying to be considerate, even if you well … I guess it was my bad for not letting you go. Do you want me to give you space next time?”

She considered this, biting her lip, staring upward. “I’m really sorry Chat. I don’t like upsetting you. But if I hadn’t said anything you wouldn’t have said anything and I would be at home being unreasonable. I’m glad you let me know I was wrong.”

“Well, I didn’t say that,” he backpedaled, growing nervous. He’d kind of run off at the mouth a bit, which was something he never did, and maybe she’d grow more upset after taking time to think about it. He didn’t want more fighting. Neither did she. It would have been easier if had just let her go. Let her decide when to recover. Why couldn’t I just brush it off?

“Chat,” she interjected flatly, letting go of his hands. “Sometimes, I can be reckless and even though it works, most of the time I’m just pulling out solutions from thin air. Half of the time, I have no idea what the hell I'm doing. There’s no way I’m always going to be right. You’re allowed to criticize me. Anytime. You know that, right?"

With reluctance, he nodded, knowing what she said was sound.

She put her hands on her hips, confidence mixed with uncertainty. “I’m not mad at you, okay? I was actually mad at myself.”

It made him smile, that snappy reassurance. “Can I do anything to help mew?”

A dry huff was her reply. “I feel so dumb. I spent all day thinking about fun stuff to do with you and instead the first chance I get I go off on you like a crazy bitch.”

“Don’t call yourself that,” he replied, brow furrowed. Then her words hit him. Yeah, he suspected, but to actually hear she spent her day thinking about him. Designing something for him. Oh, he knew how she got when she had an outfit on her mind. She’d focus on her notebook, drowning out everyone and everything, her focus hyper centered on one objective. To think that he could be the subject of that sexy focus of hers?

Ladybug didn’t notice the myriad of emotions on his face. “That’s part of why I was late too. I had to sneak out and bring this stuff for you. But I guess we aren’t doing that anymore, right?”

He swallowed as she pulled a cute bag from the back of her yo-yo belt, It was bulky, obviously one of her designs, and damn he really wanted to know what was inside.

“I never said that, my lady.”

Chapter Text

Marinette felt so dumb, hefting the bad in her hands. Somehow there was a different between just stumbling around and finding things as opposed to carefully setting up and planning to … Chat looked at the bag with curious anticipation, his mouth quirking up in a nervous but calm smile. She herself felt unsteady. The entire dynamic had been ruined. She treated him terribly, told him off, confessed what a wreck she was. How could he ever trust her with his safety?

How could she even trust herself?

“This might be a bit more intense than last time,” she warned, maybe slightly teasing him with her voice. He swallowed, absentmindedly stroking his hand. 

“Like more painful?”

“Not today. I want to try something else,” she breathed nervously. There was no excuse for what she was asking for. Doubtless it barely strode the lines of BDSM anyway. But no matter how many scenes she read about torture and whips and ropes, her mind couldn’t help but go back to the basic lines of his body. She was curious, so, so curious about him.

But Chat wasn’t shy at all. If she just came out with it, he’d go along. Those moments slight discomfort would be what enticed him.

And there was only one way to accomplish that.

“I’m going to need you to detransform,” she requested, opening the drawstrings of the bag.

“Now?” He balked. “You might not like knowing—”

She pressed a finger on his mouth, quieting him before he revealed anything further. It was a curious how anxious the reveal made him, especially since he had been pushing it for so long. At this point she felt she knew almost everything about him. What additional information could possibly change anything?

“Put this on,” she ordered, pulling out a mask. She’d sewn it herself, soft and silky, the fabric too expensive for such a small swatch. She’d thought of his mask when making it, added her own features, soft embroidered edges, a sharp edge for his nose. “After you do it.”

He took the soft mask in his claws, his eyes heavy with some emotion she couldn’t place. His fingers traced the black threads where her name was hidden. “You made this for me?”

Marinette nodded, biting her lip. “It’s difficult with your costume to … to do things.”

He rubbed the fabric on his cheek. “It’s so soft.”

Why did the room feel so hot? “Y-yeah, I also made you these.”

God, he was going to laugh. Better get it over with. She thrust the pair of cat ears at him.

He grinned widely. “Meow~. I didn’t realize you liked cats so much.”

“Oh my god!” She knew he’d take it wrong! “It’s just weird without them okay?”

“Suuuure,” he teased, moving the ears up so they were in front of his normal Chat Noir ones. Hers were smaller, connected to a band, matching the lace, and looking frankly girlish in comparison. “What do you think, bugaboo? Am I a cutie? Meow~”

It was weird how photogenic his face was. How easily he could catch childlike excitement with just a single alteration. She thought it was shame she hadn’t brought a camera.

Something for the future, I suppose.

“Are you going to do it or not?” She demanded, trying to reassert herself.

 “Are you going to show me what else is in the bag?” He quipped, gaining a surprising amount of confidence. Well, maybe not surprising for him, but she’d be super uncomfortable in his position. He was acting like it was nothing! God, I’m like the worst dom ever.

“You’ll find out later,” she said brusquely, turning on her heel. “Get started.”

Chat Noir was quiet for too long. It made her wonder what he thought about all this. They'd never really sat down and talked about it. Maybe he also realized this was reckless. 

Almost reticent, he said, “Claws off.”

Green light flashed in front of her face and the realization of it sunk in. If I turn around, he’ll be right there. Will I know who he is?

Her heart thumped rapidly at the thought, her feet almost seeming to work against her. She wondered if she might actually recognize him. Would he be upset? 

“Ugh, I hate rain, I’m so hungry!” A small voice whined, causing her to jump. “I’m going to the cafeteria! Catch up with you guys later, okay?”

“Don’t cause any trouble Plagg!” Chat snapped, exasperated. “Sorry, LB. He means well.”

Marinette wanted to ask what his kwami thought about all this. If was as involved as Tikki, offering endless advice and what not, but she didn’t to break the mood.

Her ears were hypersensitive as he ruffled through his hair, donning the mask and ears. She itched to know what it looked like.  Tikki had mentioned that kwami magic made it harder for people to identify her. What if she saw the mask and it just became too obvious? Something whispered at the back of her mind, an inkling of an idea, that maybe she had met his other identity already.

“Should I take off my clothes?” He asked carefully, making her heart skid.

“Wh-wh-what?”

“You might,” he hesitated, voice so quiet, so unlike him, “recognize them.”

“You think so?” She asked breathily. Was he really offering to strip? That easily?

“Well, you are a fashion designer,” he hedged, sounding more and more uneasy. “I’m sure you just notice these sorts of things all the time.”

“That makes sense,” she answered nervously, not sure what to do with the prospect of a suddenly naked boy. “Just removing your shirt should be fine. Oh, maybe your shoes too. They're probably the thing I'm worst at designing so I really pay attention to them.”

“So, keep my pants on?” he teased, his voice close to her shoulder. She shook.

But damn she wasn’t going to let him get the upper hand. “For now, chaton.”

The way he inhaled, the way her voice sultrily suggested … hell yeah, she had this in the bag. Even as she could hear him removing articles of clothing, she could read his nerves. Hesitation with each step, slow rustling tantalizing her brain. Already she was feeling warmth pooling between her thighs. It was probably for the best he didn’t know what kind of effect he had on her.

“Alright, I think I’m good,” he finally uttered, taking far longer than she’d thought.

“You put the mask on?” She demanded stiffly.

“Yeah, and my kitty ears, mistress,” he drawled, playfully. Ladybug turned on a heel, ready to snap back a retort and then her breath caught.

Lord, he was toned. She knew, of course, that tight leather hid nothing. But wow seeing his biceps bunch as he casually covered his chest was so much more erotic. There was something nervous and sensual in the movement all at the same time. His body looked posed and graceful; but he'd always had the posture and movement of a dancer. Her eyes focused on what she could see of his abs, the way his hip bones slanted over the tops of his jeans. God, those jeans. They were a light fabric, tailor made, sculpting his legs.

Underneath, his toes touched, almost nervously, mismatched with the whole image.

“Um…” he started nervously, shifting under her gaze. Her eyes zoomed up to his face. The mask was gorgeous, accentuating his emerald green eyes, no longer cloaked under the green film of Chat Noir. Wow, those eyes. They were so dreamy she could get lost in them.

“Do I … look bad?” He asked, wincing, shoulders hiking up. The movement was so familiar. If he were Chat Noir, his tail would be curled, his ears drooping. When Ladybug had tried to imagine him undressing it had always been him to put his hands on his hips, strutting out poses, flexing his arms, making stupid puns and totally ruining the intimacy of the moment.

This … this was unexpected.

“What do you think?” She asked coldly. Because there was no way he didn’t know what kind of effect he had on people. Girls probably flocked all over him. He was fit, he was pretty, he was tall, and she would never admit it to him but he was actually kind of funny.

He bit his lip, but wouldn’t say anything more.

 

---

 

Adrien was shaking. Yeah, it was a little cold in the classroom, rain still showered against the window, but it wasn’t the temperature that threw him. Ladybug coldly assessed him, her eyes taking in every pivot and angle of his body and he knew without a doubt that she’d see everything he was hiding.

That maybe she’d already realized.

“Right now, you look like a cold stray,” she said, touching her chin thoughtfully, head tilting. There it was again. That metaphor. It just … resonated. “Put down your arms so I can see.”

It was already moving so fast. Taking off the Chat Noir mask was daunting. He could be fully clothed and still not really know how to face her. What would she do when she learned about the sad boy afraid of being alone? Then again, this had nothing to do with identity. She'd created a new mask, recreated his image to her design. It felt like at the same time she was protecting his amenity with the woven mask, she was making a statement. A clear line separating the truth of him from this space they shared. He had to do everything to follow this path. Live up to her expectations.

But what did she actually want from him?

“Chat,” she snapped, pulling him from his thoughts. “Your arms.”

“R-right,” he managed, trying to form a small smile. Slowly, he pulled back his arms, letting them rest to his sides, wondering if she’d immediately notice the hint of his ribs. Or if she thought his stomach looked flabby. If she noticed how big his arms had gotten lately. That his wrists were bony.

She inhaled, her hand moving up to cover her mouth as she walked around him. Inspecting, analyzing. God, it was terrible to think but it reminded him of his fittings. How his father would stop by to see how the collection was coming along, ruthlessly pointing out every detail and flaw. By the time she made it back around, she had to have noticed his shaking.

Her voice was a whisper. “Why are you crying?"

He’d be so caught in his head that he barely noticed the tears building under the mask. His hands moved up, trying to dry his eyes, hoping he hadn’t damaged the material. “S-sorry.”

Her voice moved closer to his ear. Soft as silk. “Are you still upset about earlier?”

“I’m fine,” he assured, pulling down his arms again, plastering a fake smile. Ladybug’s eyes slanted down, and she tip-toed right up to his face. Almost close enough to—

“Put your arms behind your back,” she uttered, her gaze lowering to his lips, her expression hooded as if maybe she wanted to ... He trembled as her eyes met his again. “Or I can turn around and you can put your clothes back on. Your choice.”

“Ladybug,” he uttered, trying for a pun or flirtation. But all he could do was pull his arms back, wrists locking, his gaze shamefully pointed to the floor. How cruel of her to put the decision in his hands. He wasn’t sure he could handle any consequences.

Ladybug finally moved, walking behind him with slow sureness. Her fingers touched his shoulder, small spandex tips lingering down the long line of his arm. Then her hands clasped his elbows, folding his arms up. He shivered as she repositioned him, stacking one forearm over the other, causing his back to almost bow from where she pulled.

Molding him to the shape she desired.

“That’s better,” she said, drawing one finger down and up his spine. Like a jolt of electricity. “You’re quite sensitive, aren’t you?”

He nodded, arms shaking to remain where she put them. Her hands were gone and he heard her rustling. Rain dripped out the seconds, pattering faster than his shivering heart, spiking his fear. Then he felt soft silk run against the hairs on his arm.

Adrien let out a slow exhalation. The silk moved under his arms, slid against his back, wove in and out between the two, wrapping up from his wrists to his elbows like a strange glove. Tighter it pulled and he found himself relaxing into it. The bounds were familiar and at the same time gentler, lighter. The ribbon squeezed as she tied a bow at the center, his arms squished against his back.

“How pretty,” she murmured to herself. “You can't move them, can you?"

He tested his range, letting his shoulders droop. Then she touched his binding, pushing him forward. Light, subtle movements were enough to have him guided across the room. It was acrobatic, routine, so easy to step where she wanted, to do what she wanted. After making a round, soaking in the pitter-patter of the rain, she brought him to a chair.

“Sit,” she ordered.

He turned, looking down at her fierce expression. Her mouth was tight, teeth drawing in her inner cheek in concentration. Their eyes met as he lowered himself in the chair and he swore she moved with him, hovering, anticipating. His arms pressed against the hard back and her hands pushed against his shoulders. Seeing the scarlet red of her gloves, stark against the white of his skin …

“Do you know what we’re doing today?” She asked conversationally. As if she were inquiring about a class assignment or a friendly outing.

“No, Ladybug."

Something shifted in her expression, her hands moving off him. She stood tall, hands on her hips as she stared down at him and she looked almost unsure of this. Of him.

“I’m going to tie your legs to this chair,” she explained, pulling a strip of thin silk from the bag at her side. “You won’t be able to move at all. Anyone could walk in and you’d just be sitting there. Half-naked, masked, and totally exposed. A desperate pervert getting his fix at school. How utterly humiliating.”

Ladybug knelt in front of him, stretching the silk taunt between her hands. With a rough pull, she moved his leg open, shoving it into the chair leg. The silk wove around his jeans, pinning the rough material to his ankle. He couldn’t see anything but the top of her head, her shoulders moving as she worked. As she repeated the same movements to the other leg, hurriedly, roughly, the reality of the situation started to sink in.

Not even Chat Noir could hide him. 

Chapter Text

Ladybug was getting more anxious by the second. Something was wrong. Chat wasn’t lively, wasn’t engaged. He just stared at her, tears sliding unnoticed down his mask, shaking softly. The classroom was cold, sure, but somehow this seemed something more. What started as a sexy idea had quickly turned into a situation she didn’t know how to handle.

Because she had no idea who was staring up at her underneath that mask.

“Try moving,” she ordered, testing him. She saw his knees bob, then his shoulders rise, before leaning back against the chair again. The movements were subtle. Effortless.

“You’re totally at my mercy,” she cooed, hoping another verbal jab might get a rise out of him. “I could do anything I wanted to you and you couldn’t fight me off.”

That seemed to spark something in his eyes, fleeting. His voice was so quiet,

“What are you going to do to me?”

“I thought maybe I ought to reward you,” she drawled, pretending like she was considering multiple possibilities. “You took your punishment so well last time.”

Still, nothing. He looked ashamed, his body curling in, like he could slowly disappear.

“Then again, you did cause me a lot of trouble with that akuma today.”

Which, yeah not really, just some panic about his safety and another fiery feeling she wasn’t quite ready to label. She knew she shouldn’t focus on it. Chat wasn’t hers. He could flirt with girls if he wanted to. He hadn’t done anything wrong. This was just something for both of them to enjoy. Yet, he just sat there. Waiting.

Her hand moved to stroke his head, tugging his hair just enough to lift his face.

“Well?”

“Punish me,” he whispered, surprising her.

“What am I punishing you for?” She asked, tugging his head to the side, enjoying the long lines of his neck, the muscle connecting to shoulder.

“Whatever you want, my lady.”

Ladybug supposed she should be happy as a dom. He was obviously submitting which meant he both trusted her actions and wanted her actions. But she didn’t really want to hurt him. The way he looked, fragile, cold, sad, she wanted to untie him, bundle him up, maybe give him some hot chocolate and pet his hair. But she had to remind herself that this moment was his too.

So instead, she leaned forward, pressing her lips on his neck. Her teeth scraped playfully, her tongue stroked intimately, and his breathing stuttered. He let out a little gasp as she found the spot between his shoulder and neck, the pliant muscle deliciously supple. Then she sucked. Hard.

“Ah!” He startled, arms jolting. She froze, pulling back.

“Not so loud,” she warned.

“Sorry, I just—” he cut himself off, biting his lip. God what she wouldn’t give to hear him finish whatever the hell that statement was.

“Don’t bite,” she teased, pushing his mouth with her finger. “Wouldn’t want to bruise your pretty lips, chaton.”

His cheeks pinkened. “Huh?”

Ladybug supposed she should feel embarrassed, calling a boy pretty, admitting that she was very, very attracted to pretty boys. But wasn't that the point of all this? She didn’t have to feel embarrassed. This was something he asked her to do. He was hers to do whatever she wanted with. It was okay to desire him. 

“Don’t act like you don’t know Chaton,” she teased instead, letting him handle the embarrassment. “You know there are girls with your silly pictures on their phones, right? They take them off the Ladyblog and swoon over you and pretend you're in love with them.”

He actually scoffed, some color returning to his face. “No, they don’t.”

“And I just have to sit there and listen to it,” she pressed, ignoring his denial. “Trying my damned best not to bust out laughing when they talk about how suave you must be, how gentlemanly, how worldly. I wonder what they’d think about all your puns? About this?”

“You’re actually serious?” Chat asked, his face splitting into a grin. “That’s so stupid.”

It struck her as odd. Does he really not know how popular he is? “Oh, you wouldn’t believe a certain girl’s fantasy about things you can do with your tongue.”

His brow furrowed. “Like what?”

She leaned up to whisper in his ear. “She think’s it’s rough. Like a cat’s.”

Chat laughed, hard, enough for her to need to lean back. God, watching his chest move the red of the blush move past his collarbone… He was blinking, trying to get the tears out of his face,  head subtly jerking. Her hand moved to wipe them, realizing just how much he was in her possession. As his mouth slowly parted, his eyes following the action, she knew he realized it too.

“That would make kissing really unpurrsurable,” he finally started, still snickering. Realizing he had no idea what she was insinuating, she drew a finger down his collarbone, to his stomach.

“That depends on where,” she confided, finger dipping against his abs.

The exact second he realized his laughter dissipated, leaving him wide-eyed and anxious.

She laughed at his sweet innocence. “Ah, kitty, you really don’t know, do you?”

 

---

              

“About me?” Chat demanded in disbelief. “Doing that? To who?”

It was like a sudden slap back to reality. He knew, somewhat, that girls liked ads of him as Adrien. But that was the make-up, the camera angles, the excitement of fame. Underneath all the clothes he was just a rack, a hanger, skinny and sad. Why would anyone actually want that?

“You don’t actually want me to answer that,” she teased, placing a finger on those lips. “Girls don’t spill each other’s secrets. And, oh, what secrets I know.”

His heart hammered in his chest. “About me?”

Chat wasn’t sure he liked that. Strangers taking in his body, molding it to their expectations, using him to find some intimate pleasure. God, just thinking about the way some of the guys talked about Ladybug when they first started hero work pissed him off. He’d gone off on multiple lectures about objectification and female bodies, surprising Nino with his sudden passion. It was probably how Nino figured out he had a crush on Ladybug in the first place. It'd had been his first time in a school locker room. A few baudy statements and gross suggestions and he'd almost punched a guy. 

Everyone made sure to avoid talking about Ladybug in front of him after that.

“You really didn’t know,” Ladybug murmured, face looking vacant. “It never occurred to you?”

People rarely talked about Chat Noir as it was. Ladybug took the spotlight, the praise, and he was totally fine with that. That was the point of Chat Noir. To get away from the roving eyes. The heavy weight of expectation. Chat could do whatever he wanted. He thought no one cared.

“Superhero of Paris, brave and kind and housed in sexy black leather,” she teased, brushing the hair off his face. “Superheroes are the latest trend, you know. And unlike the movies, you’re real. All this sexy muscle, those pouty lips, your cute butt. Girls think you’re fuckable.”

Holy hell. Ladybug thought he was sexy. Ladybug said he was fuckable. He could feel her whispers on his face, knew he was hard as steel. “I’m just a side-kick.”

Ladybug grasped his chin, glaring. “We’re partners. I don’t do side-kicks.”

The moment it left his mouth he knew he was in for it. “But you’d do me, right?”

Adrien had said it softly, failing to deliver it with the punch such a line meant to have. Ladybug blinked, her cheeks growing pink, her delicate lips slowly parting. As if realizing this, she moved her arm in front of her face, blinking rapidly as she looked away from him. Had he ruined the moment? Whatever this was, they were trying to be casual, right? He probably came off as too serious, too desperate with that line. But, then again, she liked when he was being desperate. She got so bold when she started accusing him of being a pervert. She liked the power. And, as hard as it was to admit, he loved being caught and noticed, maybe even granted the things he secretly desired from her.

“You, uh,” she uttered, flustered, trying to meet his eyes. “Don’t get cocky.”

With a wide grin, he meaningfully looked back at his lap and then up at her. “It’s a little late for that LB.”

“Is it?” She teased, finger sliding down the front of his jeans. Just that small brush sent a wave of pleasure jolting up his spine. He bit his lip to keep quiet and damn if she noticed.

Ladybug’s eyes never left his, not even when she casually pet him again.

“What got you hard this time?” She asked, surprising him. “You didn’t respond when I tied your arms or made you strip. Not even when I gave you that juicy story about tongues. I thought you weren’t an exhibitionist. You really get off on the idea that tons of girls are into you?”

Chat huffed out a breath, surprised he was able to even stay this still when his whole body was twinging with arousal. The binding was almost security as it kept him from reaching out and touching her. It occurred to him that just as she did with akuma attacks, Ladybug was studying him. Placing verbal attacks, pulling back, gauging his reactions. But having her directly ask, those blue eyes narrowing with confusion and disapproval, he realized exactly what this little meet-up was about.

Ladybug wanted to know how to turn him on.

She grabbed his chin, pulling his head forward. “You answer me when I ask a question, Chat.”

Hngh, she could pull him around all day and he’d follow. “Yes, bugaboo.”

“Was it the girls or what?”

“You’re the one who said not to bring other people into our meetings,” he teased, realizing there was still some remnants of jealousy stirring in her. He dropped his grin when she tsked at him.

“I’m flattered, really, that you think girls are into me,” he tried to explain, shrugging his face out of her hand. “But even if they were, they’d be disappointed once they saw me stripped.”

Ladybug looked thoughtful, her lips thinning.

 

---

 

“Why would they be disappointed?”

It was too weird. Chat had to know how attractive he was, there was no way he couldn’t, but his tone sobered real quick when he admitted girls wouldn’t find him attractive. As much as she wanted to continue roving his delicious body, she couldn’t ignore this big of a misunderstanding.

“I’m too bulky. Men in my family run tall so I’m supposed to be slender.”

She snorted in disbelief and his brow pinched tight as if she’d slapped him. “Chat, you are slender. Just because you have muscle doesn’t mean you’re some macho man. It all depends on where you carry it. You aren't going to suddenly bulk up, geez. Don’t tell me you started taking steroids or something.”

“I’m not,” he quickly defended. “But I can’t help it. We’re fighting akuma’s day in and out and then I have to run all over the city to get to my jobs and—”

“Wait, wait, wait,” Ladybug cut him off, panicking. Not many people their age had jobs and if he talked about the type of work it’d be even easier to find him.  “Be careful with what you’re saying.”

Realization hit his expression and he looked almost panicked. Why? Hadn’t he been the one so desperate for them to know each other? It had been little more than a week since all this began and she couldn’t figure out what changed in such little time. Because everything was constantly changing.

“Sorry,” he finally settled on. “My life is a bit hectic and unusual.”

There was something important hiding in those words. “Really? I always thought you lazed around and hung out with friends. You’re always so relaxed.”

He snorted. “Yeah, when I’m with you.”

God, that intrigued her. What was he like when he wasn’t around her? He could be downright intimidating in battle, almost a different person when all the jokes fell aside and that brimming determination burned in his eyes. Yet, now he almost sounded quiet, shy even. She wondered who had placed the ludicrous idea that he was unattractive, who made him believe so little in himself.

“Chat, I don’t know who tells you those kinds of things, but they’re dead wrong,” she said, instead, placing a hand over his heart. “You’re so sexy it pisses me off.”

His breath hitched, eyes brightly wavering. Like he didn’t believe her.

“Just look at these abs,” she pressed, fingers gliding down each divot. “You're shredded. How am I supposed to look at them and not lick them?”

“Ladybug,” he whispered, looking almost scared when she leaned forward to teasingly flick her tongue. Her breasts settled on his lap as she looked up at him, hands roving on his chest again.

“How am I supposed to fight akumas with all this distracting me?” she continued, finger sliding on his pink nipples. “Mm, sensitive and pretty.”

His body was shaking, his breathing getting more erratic. 

She rose up his body, arching her back. “And these broad shoulders. Perfect for hanging on to.”

Her hands tugged his shoulders forward as she pressed her nose to his collarbone, breathing in his masculine smell. The reality of him, hard yet pliant, was better than anything she imagined. Just feeling him had her on edge. It was so, so hard to resist throwing herself on him, sucking his lips to hers, grinding for a climax. That would be the simple way.

Instead, her lips glided up to his neck, sucking on the other side, her hands trailing down his bunched arms. He moaned, hips lightly thrusting.

“I think I figured it out,” she whispered, up the side of his jaw.

“Wh-what?” He whispered back, expression dazed.

Mischievously, she nipped his ear. “You want to be desired.”

She pulled back so she could study his face. If she was right, he’d melt, a puddle of embarrassment. Vulnerable and ready to be molded into whatever she wanted.

Of course, he was always surprising her.

“Only by you,” Chat said steadily, somber and serious. She swallowed, aware of every sensitive bud on her tongue, wanting so desperately to ravage his mouth. Marinette had wasted so much painful time pining over a boy that never even noticed her. Nights she’d rolled in her own mind, replaying every single failure, remembering everything about her that was wrong. Feeling just as much disappointment as relief when guys professed their love one week then drew away the next. Wondering what it was about her that shattered their fantasies.

Was she desperate for affection too? It didn’t matter. She was the dom. She didn’t have to be desperate for anything.

“You promise?” She purred instead, finger pad circling the button on his jeans.

Chapter Text

It had to be a dream.

That was the only thing that made sense. There was no way Ladybug was seducing him with that sultry voice, those glinting eyes, her soft hands slowly unzipping his pants.

“Wait,” he uttered, heart fluttering so much it hurt. “A-are you sure?”

Ladybug paused, looking up. “You don’t want me to?”

God, this felt like a trap. Say no and piss her off by lying. Say yes and ruin things by moving too fast. She had him in the palm of her hand, manipulating him down to his every movement, his every word. The freedom to choose was his and yet somehow she owned him. “I want whatever you want.”

Ladybug smiled, stoking down the seam of his jeans again. “Good. Lift up your waist.”

This was crazy. He couldn’t even remember being naked in front of his parents as a kid. His dressing rooms were private and even in hair and make-up his lower half was always concealed. No one had ever seen him down there period, let alone when he was sporting a raging hard on.

Had she even seen a dick before?

“Or I could make you come like this,” she teased, pressing her flat palm against his bulge. A wave of pleasure followed the movement and he shuddered. “You seem close.”

It was a familiar method. She was honest, blunt, always putting out her terms to the extreme. Refreshing compared to everyone else he knew. But then, gauging the oppositions reaction, she’d pull back, modifying, adapting. It was what made her such a good class president. A great superhero.

He lifted his waist, refusing to let her settle.

She hummed, pulling down the material of his jeans, latex fingers sliding on his black boxers.

“Agreste?” She murmured, stroking the band.

Adrien froze, terrified.

“I didn’t peg you as someone who wore designer clothing,” Ladybug said thoughtfully, pad of her thumb tracing the name emblazoned on the band.

“O-o-oh are they?” he stammered, trying to let his held out breath slowly. Trying not to suffocate. Why the hell did their label even have underwear? Why was he wearing it?!

“Sorry, you know I’m a designer, so clothing labels, fabric, coordination, I uh … just notice these things,” She squeaked, looking just as awkward as he felt. There was that familiar draw of her brow, that look of fierce contemplation as her lips pursed.

Oh, he realized. She’s thinking about me.

“I would think you have more pressing issues,” he teased, trying to get her mind off it. Because for all intents and purposes he was Chat Noir. Their backgrounds, the baggage, none of that mattered. Once he put the mask on, he was whatever she wanted. Whoever.

“Yes, let’s get these out of the way,” she murmured coyly, lifting up the band. Tentatively he raised his hips, watching her slowly undress him. Her eyes widened with surprise—and would it be conceited to think desire?—as his cock sprang free.

God, it was excruciating. Her absolute silence. The cold gathering around him. The thoughtful look on her expression.

“You’re big,” she said, swallowing, drawing his eyes to her pouty lips.

He snorted. “You don’t have to say that kind of stuff, my lady.”

Her hand nervously hovered over him, then pulled back, her eyes looking up at him as if asking for permission. And wasn’t that odd? Considering he could do nothing but sit and watch. But then, she shook, steeling herself as her hand wrapped around the base.

He slowly exhaled, overwhelmed by the soft press of her hand.

“It feels different than I thought,” she murmured, fingers gliding up towards the crown. All his muscles flexed, trying to stay still. He wouldn’t seem desperate. He wouldn’t interrupt her.

“You’re already leaking,” she teased, thumb circling the tip, causing him to curl forward to stop himself from thrusting. God, he hadn’t realized how aroused he was. Just fleeting touches and she had him on edge. How was he supposed to last like this?

“Sensitive too,” she praised, leaning forward on his thighs. “You’re going to cum soon, right?”

Instead of answering, he whimpered.

“I want to see how you do it,” Ladybug cooed, a little smirk on her face. “Maybe next time?”

Because apparently his erection would be prominently featured in future meetings. He could already see it, Ladybug towering over him, barking out orders, forcing him to—

“Too bad you’re all tied up and needy,” she continued, fingers descending back to the base. “You can’t even do anything to make it better. Just have to sit there and beg for it.”

Did she want him to beg? “Ladybug...”

“Hm, just imagine the mess we’ll make. Then someone will come in to clean the floors and notice some very peculiar stains. Will they suspect what we do in here?”

God, would he ever be able to walk into this room again and not remember this?

“For all we know, they already know,” she purred, eyes dancing. “You’re so loud kitty.”

“Not today,” he whispered, shaking, trying his best to last for her. Be good for her. Ladybug leaned closer, her breath softly dancing on his shaft as she replied,

“I must not be doing my job then.”

 

---

 

Where did the desire come from? By mere association, oral sex was an action of submission. One where you surrendered your own pleasure to please another. One where you became a mere object, an orifice for someone else’s desire. She’d always thought of the act as degrading, imagined it tied with men barking orders at her, pulling back her hair, forcing her down and taking her.

But just one soft press of her lips and he was crying. She hadn’t thought it, but he was an easy crier. She’d bet he cried at kid’s movies during those moments they tried to get you to believe the main character died. Maybe it was because he kept everything bottled up. First, in his pleasant façade of jokes and lightheartedness. Then, in whatever form he held in his civilian life.

He was crying with release and she ate it up.

“You like that?” she teased, leaning forward to lick upwards.

“Y-yes,” he managed, shaking, panting.

“I’ve never done this before,” she confessed, enjoying the thrill of that. This was their moment. No one else knew his body; he belonged to her. “Your cock is a lot of fun.”

“Mm,” he whimpered, eyes flinching shut, face turning a lovely pink.

“What does it feel like?” Marinette asked, because curiosity always got the better of her. He stared down at her, letting out a slow sigh, chest heaving.

“Torture.”

“You like it though,” she grinned, giving the tip a quick peck. “Does it feel nice?”

Chat panted as she ran her lips down the side, licking as she came back up. It surprised her how much she wanted him in her mouth. But instead she sat there, playfully kissing and licking, taking her sweet time tasting him, resisting the urge to take him any deeper.

“Fuck,” he muttered, probably unintentionally. “Ah!” Even with his rising embarrassment, his body’s tensing, his eyes never wavered from watching her.Like he was bewitched.

“Ladybug, please,” he moaned, pushing back against the chair. It screeched against the floor.

He was quivering, slick with sweat. “Stop…”

“Why?” She purred, moving forward to meet him, lips slightly parting, light nipping the tip as she finally sucked his pulsing length between her lips.

“Ahh, fuck, r-red!” he begged. It took every muscle in her body to keep herself still. They’d put those words in place to protect him from harm. Did she accidentally hurt him?

“What’s wrong?” Her voice was low and smoky. Unrecognizable even. His sculpted body was flushed and ready above her, those dark eyes begging for everything she was desperate to give.

“I’ll cum,” he blurted, eyes screwing shut. “You’ll get dirty, I can’t st—”

“It’s okay,” she interrupted, squeezing his thigh. “Just let it happen.”

“But—”

“Why do you think I’m on my knees for you?” she pressed, gripping his waist. “Tell me you want it too.”

Chat swallowed, his eyes brimming with desire and something dangerously like love. She waited, hoping he’d let her continue, preparing herself for the disappointment when he said no.

 “Yes, my lady.”

Her thighs were shaking with desire. “Cum for me, chaton. That's an order.”

She lowered her mouth, done with games, taking him in deep. He let out another cry and she couldn’t remember to even care as heat permeated through her head. Her own hand trailed down her stomach, sliding against her wet suit, as she moaned around his throbbing cock. It wasn’t long before he tensed, trembled. She could feel the orgasm running through him. Just as he tried to scoot back again, she grabbed his waist again, securing him as she swallowed his cum.

Her own orgasm was still waiting but as she pulled back, the salty taste lingering on her tongue, she found that she didn’t care. Chat was panting, his chest shaking with every breath as he stared down at her, incredulous. She grinned, then playfully licked her lips as she slowly rose from the ground.

“Good boy,” she purred, running a hand through his hair, petting him. He rubbed his head against her, lips sliding on her wrist affectionately, eyes darkening when he asked,

“Your turn?”

Marinette wasn’t sure what panicked her more. The implications of what they were about to do or the loud steps of a man stomping through the hall yelling, “damn kids again!”

 

---

 

Adrien shook, assaulted by the sudden transition from pleasure to terror. Ladybug looked off her game as well, her wide eyes resembling his anxious classmate more than anything. She quickly pulled up his clothes and he lifted his waist, still sensitive as cotton brushed him. Then she stood up, face bright pink as she stiffly walked toward the door.

He didn’t dare make a sound.

Ladybug opened the door, positioning herself right in the crack, hip leaning on the frame. He knew, being sequestered in the corner, no one could see him from that angle. But it didn’t stop him from sucking in his breath, as if even that sound would expose him.

“Good evening,” Ladybug said smoothly to whoever was in the hall. The rubber of shoes squeaked on the polished floor.

“Ladybug! Don’t tell me there’s an akuma here!”

“I certainly hope not.” Her voice was lower than usual, husky and unbearably sexy. “I hope I didn’t bother you. I noticed there were a lot of students from this school who had been akumatized and I’ve been looking around to see if there are any clues why.”

Had she thought this up on the spot? Because, yeah, she had a point now that he thought about it. Was it because Hawkmoth was getting closer to discovering their identities?

“Well, you should be careful,” the janitor was saying. “The floors in that room are old.”

“Of course, sir.”

“Where’s Chat Noir? I thought you did everything together.”

His heart hammered in his chest. All it would take was one small shift in her expression and he’d be exposed. Just like she said. Anyone could take one look at him, tied and shaking, and know exactly what Ladybug had done. Just one look and they’d know he’d wanted it.

“Searching around the quad,” she answered. “Sorry if we scared you. We’ll be done soon.”

How the hell was she acting so cool and professional? Just a second ago, she’d been just as panicked as he was. And before that, she’d been—

“Thank you, Ladybug. For everything you do.”

“No problem. I’ll be on my way.” She was already backing out of the door, trying to close it.

“It would be safer this way” the janitor insisted. “That room’s under repair.”

“I came in through the open window. I’ll close it on my way out. Wouldn’t want to trouble you.”

The janitor huffed in annoyance. “Damn kids, probably came in there to smoke. You haven’t happened to see anyone around, have you? Been some kids sneaking in here.”

“Just me,” she said breezily. “But Chat mentioned there might some kids nears Damocles office. They’ve been trying to get a video of him turning into the Owl. Is he still here?”

The janitor chuckled. “Unfortunately. Makes it hard for me to lock up. Tell Chat Noir thanks for the tip.”

Just like that the jangle of keys and stomp of boots faded away. Ladybug closed the door and leaned against it, slowly sinking down to the floor as she covered her face.

“That was so fucking close,” she muttered to herself, almost too soft for him to hear.

“I can’t believe you lied to him,” Chat teased. “How unpurrfessional.”

Ladybug sent him a fiery glare. “Hey, one scream and he’ll come right back. Don’t test me.”

“Don’t get testy,” he retorted back. She snorted as she moved around to untie his arms.

“We’re done?” He asked, hoping he could mask the disappointment in his tone. For a brief moment, he’d seen it in her eyes. That heady mix of desire and fear. The excitement he cause with his daring suggestion. God, would she have let him?

“I don’t think we should meet here anymore,” she replied, stepping away to kneel in front of him and untie his feet. The position reminded him that just moments ago she had been sucking him off. Excitedly, even. It was something he’d never dared imagine in any of his fantasies. The thought of her just being interested in him was enough. Hell, they hadn’t even kissed and yet somehow—

“Hm? Oh, yeah that might not be a good idea,” he admitted, deflated. Would everything already be over before it began? They had been good before. Maybe he could go back to just being her friend, coaxing out small details of her life, hiding everything about his, trying to swallow his own feelings for her.

The thought made his stomach curl.

“I’ll head out first,” she said softly, stepping away from him, sending his heart scrambling. She picked up her hand-stitched bag from the floor, placing it in one of the abandoned desks in the corner. “Just leave everything in here and I’ll come pick it up another time.”

“My arms,” he uttered, quietly, pulling against his bonds as he struggled to find balance enough to stand. Instead, he felt pin-pricks of pins and needles shooting through his numb muscles. He hissed a breath, realizing he’d put all his weight into them in those last moments of ecstasy.

Ladybug looked sheepish. “Turn around.”

Adrien obeyed, feeling her quickly tugging at the black ribbon. He wanted to say something to her. Anything. But he was too afraid, too choked up on his own feelings, hoping she’d be the one to reach out instead. Just something to let him know this wasn’t the last time, that he’d been good for her, that she still admired him even after seeing the scared sack of bones he was underneath.

Pain dotted down his arms as the blood reached through them. Ladybug lowered them to his sides, her palms still curling over his closed fists.

He almost didn’t hear her. “I didn’t hurt you, did I?”

Adrien shook his head, his chest pinching in anyway. Somehow, he knew she wasn’t asking about his arms. If he could get it out would she listen to him? But she let go, striding toward the window, foot planted on the sill as she prepared to launch her yo-yo.

“See you tomorrow then,” she finally said, giving him one last look over her shoulder.

Adrien watched her go. He always did.

Chapter Text

Marinette spent the next few days contemplating what happened between them. She’d run into Chat two times already due to akuma battles but the interactions had been brief. Stilted even. He’d give her that two clawed salute of his, bounding away on his staff, leaving her fist without its usual bumping partner. On the outside, it was almost like everything was back to normal. It was exactly what she wanted every since that crazy night.

At least she thought.

Instead, a slow frustration and confusion was building in her. Did I do something wrong? It wasn’t like Chat to avoid her; if anything, he was always getting in her face . This session had been weird. Part of it had been selfishness, it always was, but another part of her had been really trying for him. She’d gone way further than she thought she would. Her original intention was to just touch him a bit and tease him. But he seemed so lost, wavering in and out of the moment, and she’d wanted to capture him. Make him feel as good as she did. What did he like, what made him happy? He once told her he didn’t know and she was starting to get scared that maybe she didn’t either.

Alya had noticed her drop in mood, but Adrien had coincidentally gone missing again and she attributed it to him. Of course, that was worrisome in its own way. Just last week his dad had grounded him and now was out again. At this rate Adrien was going to school less than 50% of the time. How did he manage to keep his grades on top of the class? Gabriel Agreste was a top designer, one of her major influences, but she could help but feel a bit of unease whenever she heard his voice on the news lately. Nino had said some things before: mostly about the stress of work and just being a teenager. Adrien told them it was fine but … she had to wonder sometimes.

Would he understand Chat? Adrien always seemed to know what to say. All it took was for him to open his mouth, give that gentle smile, and the whole room would light up. She bet he would have looked at Chat’s insecurities and soothed them all away. Maybe Chat needed a gentle dom, maybe Adrien ... The thought of that made her uncomfortable. Two attractive boys in a scene? Please, god, never let those two boys be in the same room. She didn’t think she could handle the steam. Or the guilt.

I wish I could talk to him, she sighed, staring at his empty chair with longing.

“When’s Adrien coming back?” Alya asked Nino, noticing Marinette’s expression.

Nino slowly turned to them, something cautious in his expression. “Tomorrow, probably.”

“What gives?”

“You remember that rain akuma? You know, Sadako on steroids?”

 Alya leaned forward, investigation mode activated. “Yeah, that model chick, right?”

“I guess Adrien’s car got totaled and he and his driver were separated. Took him a couple hours to make it back home and his dad was pissed,” Nino answered, his nose scrunching up. “I mean, yeah doesn’t want him walking to school without his bodyguard or anything but still … “

Marinette had an inkling the car issue was only part of the problem. “Didn’t they have a fashion shot yesterday as well?”

“Oh, did they?” Nino asked, no longer surprised at Marinette’s abundance of information on Adrien. She’d tried to hold back, honestly, but there was something soothing about knowing where he was all the time. If she didn't she'd get anxious, worried that he'd hurt or akumatized. I’m a god-damned creep, she chastised, accepting it.

“Explains why he was texting me about that model chick,” Nino continued, with a wry grin. “Apparently, she’s threatening to go all akuma on the money people or something if she doesn’t get her way. Adrien’s been trying to talk her down, but he’s too chill to be persuasive sometimes.”

“She’s lucky Adrien even gives her the time of day!” Chloe fumed, apparently taking the excuse of free work to insert herself into their conversations. Marinette tried to hold in her scowl, she really did, “He’s not some charity worker. You three are lucky he puts up with you! Especially you Dupain-Cheng! Imagine if he knew how much a freak you were. He’d never talk to you again!”

Chloe was right. Adrien was so kind he’d probably be disgusted by her wanting to hurt Chat. There was only so much he could understand. He would totally hate me…

“Says the girl who wears the same three outfits,” Ayla snapped back, fire burning in her eyes.

“Excuse moi for knowing what looks fashionable,” Chloe huffed, flipping back her hair. “It’s better than wearing a multitude of rags. Quality over quantity, you know.”

If Chloe wasn’t such a total bitch, maybe she’d be someone to talk to about dominance. She certainly had that air of superiority down pat. “Chloe if you don’t have anything interesting to say, why are you even bothering to talk to us?”

“It’s part of my own charity work, gracing you plebeians with my fountains of wisdom,” Chloe laughed, chin raised with confidence. “Adrien is always going to do the nice thing so don’t get conceited! He’s even gotten himself in trouble for arguing about getting mental health care for the models; can you believe it? It’s not hard to be pretty; if they can’t handle it then just quit.”

Marinette bit her lip. It was one thing thinking it, but another hearing it, especially from Chloe. Maybe she shouldn’t have been so mean to that model the other day. Being an akuma was scary; it was important to talk to the victims and make sure they were okay. Chat had been trying to tell her that.

Ayla, of course, jumped on the opportunity, “Then why aren’t you one?”

“My perfect face selling clothes?” Chloe laughed, waving away the thought. “Utterly ridiculous, they couldn’t pay enough for my image. Modelling is a boring job anyway, Adrien told me so. In fact, you all should be paying me for even letting you look at me right now.”

Sabrina shook beside her, reaching for the coin purse in her desk, trembling at the idea of trying to quantify Chloe’s glory. Chloe raised an eyebrow, slightly turning at the sound.

“But as I said, I’m extremely charitable and know you can’t afford it anyway, so I don’t bother,” Chloe informed them, crossing her arms confidently. No one bothered to respond to this and the conversation hushed as Mrs. Bustier passed by and gave them uneasy reminders to finish their work.

Marinette did her best, but of course, her thoughts were racing back again. Adrien’s approach with Jeanne interested her. Just like he did with Chloe, instead of accepting her behaviors as her character and lashing out he seemed to look at things from her perspective. Gosh, I love that boy, Marinette sighed, hands cradling her cheeks. I wish I was as kind as him.

“Hey, Alya,” she murmured, hesitant. Alya always had good advice, even if she could be nosy sometimes.

Alya didn’t even look up from her work, furiously scribbling out an answer. “Hm?”

“I wanted your advice about my online friend.”

The pencil clattered and she moved right into Marinette’s personal bubble, her grin wide and excited as she stared her down. “Do tell. I’ve been forgetting to tease you with Adrien gone.”

Marinette shrank back, already regretting her decision. “It’s nothing …”

“Aw, boo, did you fight again?”

“Weren’t you guys going to meet up on that rainy day?” Nino interjected, showing way more interest and focus than she would have expected from him. “What happened?”

Their gazes became oppressive and she almost wanted to shrink into her seat. She hadn't expected this much interest, had no idea why they cared. Thank god Adrien wasn’t there with that adorable curious light shining in his eyes. “He, um, hasn’t been online as much. I think something happened to him.”

“How am I suppose to work without any material?” Ayla sighed, shaking her head. “Sometimes you are like a stubborn clam, you know that? Give me deets!”

“Marinette, What do you think happened?” Nino added, giving his girlfriend an exasperated look.

“Nothing with me. I think, anyway,” she confessed quietly, wishing she had more to give them. “But I think he was stressed from his job. He has a lot of responsibilities.”

 Ayla’s brow quirked. “You sure he’s not a working adult?”

“I’m sure,” Marinette pressed, lips pursing.

This seemed to excite her. “Oho~ So you’ve finally seen him?”

Alarm sirens blared in her brain. “Wh-wh-what makes you s-s-say that? We j-just ch-chat!”

“You didn’t seem sure before,” Ayla grinned wickedly. “Is he cute?”

Nino was looking away at his phone, apparently not so interested in cute boys.

Marinette’s blush sold her out before she could bother.

“Ah, a love triangle is in the air!” Rose squealing, dancing by their desks. Juleka was following her, giving a thumbs up and a supportive grin. Marinette’s forehead thudded on the desk.

“Good, now you can hang out with your lame NEET boyfriend,” Chloe interjected once more, her tone laced with approval. Alix and Kim laughed at this and Marinette realized the whole class had started listening. Her legs shook beneath the desk and tears gathered. Fuck, fuck, I shouldn’t have said anything! Her heart fluttered, struggling to pump blood to her anxious brain.

“Hey, I totally beat him up for you if he sucks,” Kim offered, high fiving Alix.

Mylene even spoke up, “I can m-make you some couple pins!”

“Of course, should you need, I will assist in tracking down the suspect,” Max added, already clacking away at the laptop he kept in his backpack. “Just tell me the chat forum and username.”

Oh god, Max would know right away she wasn’t chatting with anyone and then they’d ask and they’d realize she was talking about Chat Noir and he’d get exposed and they’d learn about the terrible things she did to him and then Adrien would find out and hate her and—

Mrs. Bustier gave a loud ahem, causing the class to quiet. “I appreciate your support and teamwork of Marinette’s, er, romantic endeavors, but you all should really focus that energy toward completing the class assignment. Isn’t that right, class president?”

Marinette jolted up, hands banging on the table. “INEEDTOGODOSOMETHING!”

Then bolted out the door.

 

---

 

               Dudebro: Marinette thinks her internet boyfriend is cute.

Adrien read Nino’s text, a bit of apprehension and excitement building up in his chest. It had been hard to believe, even harder with the recent photo shoot problems, but she had said he was perfect. Did she actually mean that or was that just part of the scene? Am I actually cute? He stared at the photographer, noticing he still wasn’t done with his other shot. Adrien had to wait for a custom tailor again since his shoulders were so broad the larger sizes were draping around his stomach. Since his father had left, at least he wouldn’t have to worry about getting his phone taken away again.

               Why are you telling me this?

               Dudebro: Dude, chill everyone is talking about it.

               Dudebro: I gotta keep my bro in the loop.

               Dudebro: Plus, you totally seemed like you wanted to know ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

               Not really.

               Dudebro: Whatever, man. Chloe’s gonna charge people $$$ to stare at her.

Adrien snorted at that, imaging her pompous attitude as she held out her hand for money.

               No, she’s not. :P

               Dudebro: Okay, but she did say it.

               Dudebro: Oh shit.

Adrien lifted an eyebrow, watching the little typing icon go wild.

               Dudebro: Everyone was talking about the internet boyfriend

               and Marinette ran out the class. Crap, Ayla’s mad at them hold on, brb.

He clenched the phone, wishing his dad hadn’t pulled him out of class. What can I do though? He thought sadly. Marinette probably would have thought he was making fun of her too.

               Is she okay? :<

With a deep breath, he closed his eyes, trying to steady his racing heart. Marinette would be fine. She probably just wanted some space from everyone. Still, to run out of class is pretty bad. At least she does it for akumas so no one probably thought much of it but… Part of him wondered if he could just ditch the shoot, turning into Chat Noir and searching the school for her. But she’d probably lash out again and say something hurtful for both of them.

He was starting to recognize that sometimes she just needed to be alone.

               Dudebro: Alya went to the bathroom to go talk to her.

               It’s middle school all over again 😔

Adrien sighed in relief, knowing Ayla would take good care of her.

               Middle school?

The minutes to get the replies were agonizing. Too bad Nino was texting in class.

               Dudebro: Remember how I had a crush on her?

Adrien already disliked where this was going. He wanted to kick himself for trying to help Nino and Marinette get together. What if he had actually succeeded?

               Yeah.

               Dudebro: Like I wanted to protect her and stuff?

He distinctly remembered being confused when Nino had told him that before. Only because Marinette was so spunky that he couldn’t imagine her being a damsel type. Then again, Ayla wasn’t either, and she seemed really happy with Nino’s protective sheltering. Man, I know shit about girls.

               I guess so.

               Dudebro: It's because she was bullied really bad.

Adrien sucked in a breath, watching as Nino quickly typed another reply.

“Agreste, you’re up,” the photographer called as Adrien jumped in his seat. He quickly pocketed his phone, walking onto the set as it buzzed in his pocket. They threw the modified jacket on him, fluffed his hair, and he posed looking into the camera over his shoulder. Why would anyone bully Marinette, why would you bully anyone, what the hell is wrong with people?

Familiar shutters clicked. “Nice, intense!”

A slight alteration, the lift of chin, the tilt of the waist. Is anyone bullying her now? Chloe is a bit mean, but Marinette holds her own fine. Sometimes, they seem like they are joking even.

“Wow, you’re on fire, baby!” Vincent praised. “Keep the intensity, you’re an explosion, the marinara is everywhere and prom is tomorrow!”

Adrien pulled the jacket off, draping it over his shoulder, hand tucked slightly in his pocket, touching the buzzing plastic. His eyes stared out to the studio windows, imagining leaping across the roofs.

“The face, Agreste!” Vincent protested. “Don’t hide the passion!”

He stared back into the camera, jaw clenching as he tried to mask his ire. A photoshoot was the last thing he wanted to be doing right now, damn it.

“Amazing, I think you got it!” Just then his Natalie walked on set, that familiar ipad cradled in her hands as his father stared through it with a discerning eye. He let go of the pose, jacket crumpled in his fist.

“Try actually showing the product in the shot,” his father finally spoke, voice monotone. “And consider the line. We’re trying to sell adolescence not hoodlum aggression.”

Adrien knew that was another jab at Adrien’s choice of friends. His dad had taken one look at Nino and just assumed the worst. Bigot, Adrien let himself think, enjoying that quiet rebellion. Still, he stuffed the jacket on, zipping it up, glad the AC was beating the steadily rising heat outside. He knew why fashion was done in off-seasons, but damn he wished they asked models opinions too.

Natalie came closer and his father examined the jacket, making a pleased hum at the perfect fit. “You can hardly tell. I was afraid the extra bulk would show off your sudden weight gain.”

That pit in his stomach grew. I’m not fat, he protested silently. Guys can have muscle.

Then again, Ladybug said they weren’t meeting anymore so their sessions were over for good. Maybe femdoms liked tiny guys. It made sense. He was big for his age, would probably grow even more in the next year or so. He was already almost 6ft. Would she dislike that? But she thinks I’m cute, he told himself, his phone almost burning in his pocket. I can be cute. I just need another chance.

The photoshoot finally finished, his father selecting a softer picture of him sitting on the edge of a table, looking out at the sunlight. It reminded him of his mother, the way she almost blended into the sun itself, her life just as bright and warm. I miss her, he mourned. Slinking into his chair, he opened his phone, reading the chain of texts.

               Dudebro: For a long time dude, like kindergarten.

               Dudebro: She was real bossy and the other boys didn’t like that.

               Don’t tell Ayla, but I was a bit of a crybaby, so we sort of became friends that way.

               Plus, you know, we’re not  wonderbread white. Gotta stick together.

               Dudebro: She got in fights a lot. Bit a kid once.

               Dudebro: The boys stopped in middle school. But I think the girls were worse.

               Dudebro: We stopped hanging out a while cuz, you know, middle school.

                I was getting more into music and she was getting into fashion. And boys. Ugh.

               Dudebro: That’s why she got mad about the gum thing. I didn’t tell you because we just met.

               Dudebro: Where’d you go?

               Dudebro: Hello? :O

               Dudebro: Whatever, you’ll read it later. Dude, she hasn’t had panic attacks since

               whatever happened to her in middle school.

               Ayla’s never seen it and I suck at it. She’ll probably hate me for telling you,

               but we’re all friends, right?

               Dudebro: The next class started. She’s not out yet.

               Ayla said she yelled at her to leave. What do you think we should do bro?

Adrien read the lines with a growing feeling of dread. Should I know this? Is this okay? He had a feeling, whether it was Chat Noir or Adrien, that Marinette would freak if she knew she'd been hurt that way. Or that she was having a panic attack. Actually, he was kind of irritated that Nino told him at all. It should have been Marinette telling him; maybe when she was finally comfortable or ready to do so. But what was done was done. Nino presented him with a problem and he’d do his best to work it out. Slowly, he typed,

                Have Ayla tell her it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.

                She and her internet friend know exactly what their relationship is.

                Everyone in the class just likes watching her get flustered, so it’s

                pointless to take them seriously. They just want the reaction.

                It’s totally fine to get upset at them. No one thinks less of her.

Adrien bit his lip, wondering if that was too forward, thinking she might take it as being told what to think or feel. He may have suspected, after listening to their classroom conversations for months, and may have looked up anxiety disorders a couple months ago. But that didn’t mean he knew what she was thinking. Or that he had a right to tell her what she should think. Ladybug hated that.

                Also, Ayla should apologize if she was babying her.

                Just because someone has anxiety doesn’t mean you should

                change the way you interact with them. Marinette can handle herself.

                Just tell Ayla to ask Marinette what she wants her to do next time

                because she wants to be there for her. Friends are supposed to be

                there for you and there is no shame in needing someone.

With a satisfied nod, he sat back hoping that Ayla and Marinette would sort things out. The two were awesome friends and he’d hate to see them not talking anymore. Their hushed conversations in class were the most entertaining part of his day, even before he learned Marinette was Ladybug.

                 Lois Lane: You’re the best! :D Nino forwarded that text to me. I’m going to talk to her.

                 Good luck. 😊

                 Lois Lane: Actually, I’m probably just going to read it to her. 😏 It's that good.

Oh god, that would just make her hate him even more!

               No! :O Just pretend it’s you.

               Seriously, Ayla don’t. :(

She didn’t text back and he was stuck waiting. Gorilla came and ushered him into his car and he sat back in the plush, looking sadly at the school as they drove past it. He’d be back home and forced to finish another three-hour study block: which meant he would probably waste the time looking up more BDSM tips and tricks. Thank god he knew how to hide that shit. It’d be embarrassing if his father saw his internet history recently. He didn’t put it past him to check. When he first started watching anime, his dad blocked it, saying the cartoons would rot his brain. His mother had gotten furious, comparing it to black listing old movies and books like 1984.

Damn she’d be upset at their life now.

               Lois Lane: Thank you!!! She accepted my apology! :D

               Dudebro: Hey man, the girls are happy again.

               The class also said they were sorry. Besides Chloe, lol.

               I told you you’ve got some Jedi mind voodoo dude, idk how you do it.

He smiled, the praise washing away the constant criticism he’d been swept up in. So, what if he was bulky and stupid and lazy? His friends liked him. Ladybug liked him.

“Adrien, get off your phone, I’m hungry hungry hungry! Today was boring, when do we go back to school? This is so lame!” Plagg whinned, tugging on his collar. He rolled his eyes, pulling out a block of camembert and tossing it in the air.

“Ahh, you’re my best friend,” Plagg moaned, embracing the cheese before inhaling it. “Would it kill you to spare just small smackeral more?”

Chat grinned, pulling up the address of store he’d been looking at the past few days. This whole situation had only reminded him how unwilling Ladybug was when asking for help. Maybe she was just as unwilling to end their sessions as he was.

“Oh no, don’t look at me like that!” Plagg protested, crossing his arms. “I’m not helping you with another one of your non-superhero errands. This is abuse of power!”

Both of them knew Plagg didn’t have a choice anyway. But Adrien knew what that felt like. He’d never force him into anything. “How about a whole wheel of camembert?”

Plagg eyes lit up. “And next time it rains you won’t walk back home in it?”

Adrien rolled his eyes. “It’s a deal.”

Chapter Text

Marinette trudged out of school, already exhausted for the day. Too bad she still had to man the counter at the bakery, plus study, then work on that commission one of the art kids asked for. All she wanted to do was go hide under her covers and cry. Ayla had been hovering, sending her anxious looks as she finally turned on her street and left.

She felt so bad.

I’m a shitty friend, she told herself, remembering Ayla’s hurt expression as Marinette pulled open the bathroom stall, screaming like a madwoman:

“I’m just crazy, okay?! Everyone knows it, that’s why they all just stare at laugh at me all the time! You treat me like I’m your child and I hate it, okay?! Just leave me alone!”

Ayla had looked to the floor, tears gathering in her eyes as she clenched her fists. “Okay. Fine."

Then she turned, slowly walking away and Marinette slammed the door, sinking down on the filthy floor, another howl building up in her throat. Small nubs patted her, a soft voice,

“Marinette, it’s okay,” Tikki had soothed, rubbing their cheeks together.

 Marinette sobbed, drawing up her knees. “Why did I tell her that?”

“Marinette, it’s going to be fine—”

“Where’s my akuma, Tikki?” Marinette snapped, horrifying herself. “When is Hawkmoth going to come get me? When is it going to be over? When are we done, Tikki?”

Tikki sighed, settled on Marinette’s knee. “You’re stronger than you think. He’s not going to come for you because you have this under control.”

The heat in her head dissipated. “I do?”

Tikki nodded, a smile widening on her round face. “Sure! Marinette, you’re miraculous!”

Tikki was right, in her own way, though Marinette was feeling anything but miraculous. She hadn’t managed to get out of the bathroom for two whole periods and missed lunch as well. Ayla, bless her, had at least brought Marinette a sweet bread roll, coming back as hesitant as she was determined.

“I brought you some food,” Ayla hesitated, knocking on the bathroom door. “I haven’t told anyone you’re hiding in here. They think you went home.”

Marinette slowly unlatched the door. Her tears had stopped but just the thought of walking into class and explaining what happened made her immobile. Ayla was standing there, bread in hand, a small smile on her face.

“Hey, girl, looking good,” she teased, getting Marinette to smile back.

They stared in silence, both waiting for the other one to move.

“I’m sorry!” They blurted together. Laughter followed.

Ayla had always surprised her as a friend. The two of them clicked immediately, something she never really had with another girl, and they never really fought about anything. Truth be told, she liked Ayla’s nosiness and wit, it made her feel cared for and she never wanted Ayla to feel she needed to change that about herself. They’d talked it out, sitting out on the banister, sharing that sugary bread, reestablishing what was lost. Ayla had been so kind, letting Marinette know she didn’t think anything less of her, thanking her for explaining the panic attacks. The only person she’d ever talked to about it was her school counselor—her parents were supportive but she was so afraid of disappointing them—so it was very awkward having to explain herself to a friend.

But she still likes me, Marinette thought with a small smile. The rest of the class had welcomed her back like it was nothing; it was only briefly awkward when some of them apologized to her, but they got over it fast. The day passed by just enough that she could convince herself that everything was normal. Now all she had to do was get back home and—

Screams erupted from the streets, and a giant infant parading over the buildings, doing a terrible Godzilla impression, with his fleshy gums crying out a battle roar. Not again, she sighed, hating that Hawkmoth would stoop so low as to target children. She ducked back into an alleyway, quickly transforming, zipping up on top of the school to get a closer look. Most of the baby akumas were easy to deal with—really similar to each other and simple to understand—so hopefully this would be brief.

Chat Noir thudded beside her, catching his breath as he straightened himself.

“Hey, milady, what do you call a group of baby soldiers?”

His shit-eating grin almost made her want to laugh with relief. Still, she managed to remain firm and neutral as she asked,

“I don’t know, Chat. What do you call a group of baby soldiers?”

“An infantry!”

The word started to sink in her brain and she scowled. Chat, meanwhile, was having a grand old time of things, apparently tired of being serious and strange.

“Ah, poor little tyke. Hopefully we can pacify the situation and deliver her to safety!”

Ladybug stared at him. All this time and she still didn’t know how he could keep such childlike wonder on his face while watching Paris burn. She supposed she did the same thing, keeping that cool distance, despite the terror mounting inside her.

“Fucking hell,” Ladybug muttered, watching the baby dip her foot into the Seine and flipping over boats. She pulled back her yo-yo, surprised when claws lightly circled her wrist.

“Wait,” Chat asked, causing her to turn around. His emerald eyes searched her face, his expression suddenly serious. There was that strange feeling again. Like she should know those eyes.

“What?”

Chat pulled her close, wrapping his arms around her back, settling his cheek on her hair. His body felt warm and sublime, so much so that she almost let herself melt, barely realizing how much she’d been wanting to be held. She just stood there, relaxing her forehead on his shoulder. The moment was brief, and he let go, giving her a soft smile that made her heart flip.

Then he bounded off, leaving her confused as can be.

They quickly captured the akuma, which really turned into playing in the water with a giant baby, which pleased the akuma victim to no end. They returned her to her mother and Ladybug made sure to mention some swim classes Ayla’s sisters were attending. Her earring beeped, letting her know she had just enough time to get home, when Chat stopped her again.

“Can we meet somewhere tonight?”

They hadn’t done patrol in a while; everything had been chaotic the past few weeks. “Sure, wanna meet at the Eiffel Tower? The usual time?”

Chat gave her a superfluous bow. “As you wish, my lady.”

 

---

 

Chat walked around the tower, enjoying the cool breeze, getting used to the feeling of hefting around a backpack while in costume. He was almost thankful an akuma had shown up today, giving him and Ladybug a reason to connect, and he wondered if that wrong of him. Plagg teased him endlessly, going through his new belongings, getting annoyed when the supplies did not consist of mostly cheese. As usual, Paris was twinkling in the night, the streets still brimming with parties and life.

Ladybug swung down, looking through the dark with the light on her yo-yo. He almost swore he saw a smile before the light blinked out and she sauntered over to him.

“City seems pretty peaceful tonight,” Ladybug greeted, staring out at the Seine. “We can stay and talk for bit if you want.”

Ah. The classroom thing had been easy. It was their spot. Their scene. Meanwhile, the rest of the city belonged to Parie, the expectations of civilians, the superhero battlefield. He shouldn’t have been surprised her mind immediately jumped to patrol.

Still, it would be better to check. “I’m not keeping you up, am I?”

“I wasn’t going to sleep anyway,” Ladybug shrugged, eyes zeroing in on his shoulders. Before he could dissect that remark, she followed up with,

“What’s the bag for? Don’t tell me you’ve become a cat burglar.”

“Hey, if you’ll be my Bonnie, I’ll be your Clyde,” he suggested, enjoying her scowl. Instead of pressing for information, she surprised him,

“You look better.”

Chat laughed it off. “I know, the darkness makes me look rugged and mysterious.”

“I meant your mood.”

His feet felt planted in the ground, her voice capturing him. Adrien swallowed, looking away at the view again, trying to figure out another joke or something.

She was firm, her posture confident. “Did I do something wrong?”

“Bugaboo, you know you are the epitome of—”

“Chat.”

His face was so tight it hurt. Sure, his life had been hell the past few days, but what right did he have to complain about it? That was just part of being an Agreste. Plus, she was going through her own struggles right now, he couldn’t burden her like this. “I’m fine.”

Ladybug was quiet for a while. “Okay, I’ll play. What’s in the bag?”

“Right!” He chirped pulling the bag off his back. He crouched to the ground, lighting up a flashlight so she could see the contents. Thankfully, she joined him there, letting the previous subject slide away into the shadows. Her eyes widened as he opened the zipper.

“Are those … cell phones?”

“Yeah! I thought it might be good for us to have a way to contact each other outside of our costumes. At first, I was thinking we could just text but then someone could track it or whatever and then I thought we could use an anonymous chatting service, but again, our IP would still be traceable and the texts would be accessible through our phones. So! I thought, why not just change the phones?”

“Uh huh …” Ladybug uttered, giving him a blank stare. It wasn’t exactly what he was hoping for, so he pressed on, trying to deliver more good news.

“Yeah, so we can use a private messenger I installed on them and contact each other. We can even make calls; I was able to get private SIM cards and put them under a fake name. Just, uh, don’t put any identifying information on the phone. We can call each other code names; probably come up with codes for akuma and things like that as well—"

“Won’t it be strange carrying around two different phones?”

Chat smiled, tail flicking, glad she was thinking this through. “Exactly, we’ll set up times we know for sure we can use them so no one else will see them.”

“This sounds illegal. And expensive.”

“W-well, we’re vigilantes and that’s not technically legal—”

“We work with the police, Chat. They aren't equipped to deal with akumas. It’s a special case.”

“This is also a special case,” he floundered, losing his momentum with her growing disapproval. He’d thought she’d be enthusiastic. This was a great solution to their problems.

“What else is in there?”

“Oh, uh, I thought since you, well …” His whole face flushed pink. Maybe Plagg had been right, maybe this was totally stupid. Ladybug stared at him, her hand reaching into the bag to pull out the blindfold, cuffs, leash, and collar he’d purchased at an adult store with a fake ID and cheap face mask. Either the clerk hadn’t noticed or hadn’t cared that he was underaged. He was actually proud he managed to pull it off. One by one, she laid them out on the floor, her expression unreadable as she traced the black matching leather, her fingers lingering on the collar. It had round stubs encircling it and three shiny metal loops, two of which jutted from the sides.  

Does she like it? He hoped she liked it.

At least she looked curious. “Did you buy all this?”

Of course, she’d worry about it being traced. “Don’t worry it was in cash. My cash.”

Her lips pursed. “Chat this is nappa leather, it’s expensive.”

It was soft and beautiful and breathed almost like a second skin. They didn’t need anything less. “Quite observant of you, my lady. Do you like it?”

“How much did you pay for this?”

Oh, that intense tone she used with commands was creeping in. Are we going to— here?! Chat bit his lip, wondering what would happen if someone snuck up here like them or used a telescope or even a camera on a news helicopter. Then he wondered how much he really cared.

“It’s no big deal LB,” he waved a hand away. “I wanted to buy it.”

“Chat, I know you have a job but you should really use your money for more practical things,” she said sternly, crossing her arms. “Otherwise, you’re doing all that work for nothing.”

Right. Ladybug had no idea he was an heir to a multi-million conglomerate. But how did he explain that without her catching wind of his identity? Plus, if her interactions with Adrien and Chloe were any indication, she really disliked rich people. “Uh, actually the job is more of a hobby. A, uh, talent I suppose. I have tons of money. You don’t have to worry about me.”

Doubt laced her tone. “I guess I just have to believe you on that.”

“Don’t worry, bugaboo, I’m basically Batman,” he joked, flexing. Her eyes trailed back down to the leather implements, getting that intense session look again. It made sense. People’s eyes would light up when they realized just who he was. Not because they cared about him but they knew just how much money followed that name. How much fame. Even if she didn’t like to admit it, surely Marinette desired things her parents couldn’t afford. Things he could totally get her.

“In fact, I have too much money,” he suggested, leaning back on his arms, stretching his back. “If you really wanted to, you could just force me and I’ll buy you whatever you want.”

She sauntered closer to him, crawling on all fours, her eyes getting that lustful shade to them and he knew he’d said the right thing. She grabbed his bell, leaned into his ear, and whispered,

“Do I look like some whore, chaton?”

Chapter Text

Ladybug was seething. First of all, how dare he suddenly start acting normal after making her worried sick! Was this what he had been up to the last few days? Why not discuss it with her, then? God, she hated being coerced and yet here he was handing her a fistful of presents that basically translated to: “I only want to talk to you because I want something from you”. Which, she supposed, was better than shutting down and shutting her out but was she really that hard to talk to?

Plus, he had the gall to lie to her about his financial circumstances. If he was so overflowing with cash, how come he’d never mentioned it before? With all the different approaches he tried with flirting, it was impossible to think that using money to do something extravagant never came up. Well, except the flowers, but he'd just been desperate at that point. She couldn't believe easily he could throw away money! He was teenager, god damn it; he could use this money for college or his family or himself!

Plus! Plus … it was her job. She was the dom! The supplies and the location and the session should be her decisions. How else could she possibly surprise and thrill him if he knew everything? Where was the fun in that? God damn it, she’d already written out some new ideas in a special notebook in her lockbox she bought just for them! She’d worked really hard on that mask and ears for him; had started making him some other surprises. Did he … didn’t he like them?

Chat was staring up at her, his mouth gaping, his breaths staggered as she waited for a response, as she pulled his collar up to arch his neck.

“Wh-why would you say that? Of course, I don’t think about you that way!”

“Oh sure,” she sneered, releasing him as she balanced back on her knees. “I have tons of money babe, I’ll buy you whatever you want babe, just perform sex acts for me, babe!”

“It…it does sound bad when you put it that way,” he admitted, drawing up his knees. “Babe such a toolish nickname, at least call yourself bugaboo, it's super cute."

Nitpicky, goddamned wordsmith! “That’s not the point!”

“I know it’s not,” he sighed, rubbing the back of his head, ears going flat with dejection. “I was just trying to … I thought you’d be excited.”

Ladybug took a really deep breath. It wasn’t supposed to be like this! She was tired of yelling at him. Why am I always so angry? She’d already hurt Alya’s feelings today. Sure, they’d made up but she’d vowed to never do it again and yet here she was about to blow another gasket. Why did she have to be so neurotic?

What would Adrien do? Adrien was the calmest person she knew. He’d never gotten upset, not even when his father was unfair, not even when Chloe or Lila started bothering him, not even when fans interrupted him in public. How the hell was he so peaceful all the time?

She’d been quiet too long. Chat was biting his lip, looking ready to cry.

“I’m sorry, Ladybug,” he ducked his head down. Her heart burned and not in that good endorphin overkill sort of way, but a sharp ache. What happened to him? Yeah, she wasn’t proud to admit it but she’d said worse to him and he’d taken it fine. Yet, just a bit of yelling and he looked ready to fall apart. Somehow, she was getting the feeling that none of this was about her in the first place.

Ladybug sat down on her haunches, examining her new adversary.

“Tell me what you were thinking when you bought them.”

Chat froze, still not lifting his head to look at her. “It doesn’t matter.”

“That’s an order, Chaton.”

He didn’t answer, which was probably a sign she really had gone too far. Whatever she did last time, he certainly needed enough space to be able to come back with this crazy solution. Then she immediately shot him down, letting her head get the best of her, taking out all her worries on him. “Look, I’m sorry for yelling at you. I can just go if—”

His face shot up, burning sincerity glittering with tears. “Wait!”

Thinking better, he lowered his head, “please.”

“Okay,” she answered, not knowing what else to say. Why is he so upset about that? He’s the one that doesn’t want to talk; what are we supposed to do then? He should be allowed to refuse orders, it made sense, she wouldn’t want to be forced to do things either. But the idea was finding ones he didn’t want to refuse. That was the game.

“So ... let me guess, you walked right into a naughty store with a giant pile of cash,” Ladybug drawled, emphasizing the right words. “I suppose I’m a little impressed.”

One of Chat’s ears perked up. “What makes you say that?”

Ladybug closed her eyes, imagining herself—him—staring at a cashier, maybe some college kid with heavy makeup, piercings, and a dead expression, the warm air of each breath bouncing back behind the mask as she tried to lie about her age. The adrenaline of almost getting caught, that sudden building anxiety that someone might recognize her, maybe even a bit of excitement? Was it a similar feeling when he looked up with anticipation, waiting for her to touch him? She supposed they never really sat down and talked about why they liked doing this but maybe she could kind of understand that feeling he was chasing. A little bit anyway.

“The way you talked about it earlier you were almost acting like you were doing me a favor. But that’s not the case, is it, Chaton? You’re actually that much of a fucking pervert.”

Chat flinched as if slapped, head still bowed.

“Gosh, I bet you looked at every option, acting like a little rich boy ordering everyone around until you got all your little toys just right,” she accused, picking up the leash and stretching the material. Heat flooded her senses as she felt the give, the weight of it. “Mm, hiding these in your bedroom, hoping no one found them, touching them when you were alone … I bet you tried them, didn’t you?”

His voice was a whisper. “I didn’t.”

She pulled the leather leash tight between her fists, enjoying the brisk sound. “It was just too much wasn’t it? I bet you were turned on just looking at them. Sensitive Chaton.”

Am I doing this right? Doubt mixed into lust, worry with passion, her stomach pooling. It would be better if they could just talk but it seemed like that was getting harder and harder lately. There was more at stake and she had no idea what was going on in his head. There had to be some way to break down that barrier, to get him to spill everything to her.

“I wonder if you … “ Fuck, should she even be saying this? Did he like being talked down to like this? “If you had t-trouble making it home. Bet your d-dick was practically throbbing with cum. How embarrassing, having to walk out of the store like that. Did you even get your pants off before you came?”

He didn’t reply and that scared her too.

“Well? Answer the question Chat.”

A soft mumble was her only reply. She walked her knees closer, her thighs almost touching his legs, the leash caressing him. “Look at me when I’m talking to you.”

“I walked in, found what I was looking for, and left. They have a website with tons of good reviews. I already had a plan before I went in,” he answered, meeting her gaze.

“Cautious kitty,” she praised, feeling almost giddy, excited by his attention,  his participation.

"I stuffed everything in the bag and went home,” he added, looking cavalier, looking like Chat. “Didn’t open it until now. That’s about it. You aren’t disappointed, are you?”

“Why would I be disappointed?” She played, voice lowering as she moved closer to his face. Chat surprised her by grinning,

“Because, bugaboo, you like that I’m a pervert.”

Ladybug felt her whole face flush red. Had his voice always been smooth as velvet?

“You got quiet,” he teased, leaning on one hand. “You know, I may have gotten a bit nervous that they would I.D. me but no one tried. Maybe I should go in as Chat Noir next time?”

He went in civilian form? As a high schooler? “Are you crazy?”

“Crazy about you,” he grinned, taking the opportunity. She rolled her eyes. Sometimes he made absolutely no sense to her. There he was, throwing caution out the window, almost exposing himself and getting arrested meanwhile one cross word from her and he was practically a puddle. How would she ever find his limits when he buoyed back and forth between everything?

Chat continued, unaware of her internal dilemma. “I did tell them about my girlfriend though. They asked who I was gonna use it on and you know what I said?”

Please tell me he wasn’t dumb enough to use my name. Maybe it was the altitude but she felt light-headed, even he was breathing quicker breaths. “What did you say?”

Chat took way to long too long to answer, swallowing nervously. It drove her crazy. Had he mentioned her name? Or did he talk about Ladybug? His face was flushed, looking almost vulnerable again, even as his lips were twitching with a smirk, “My girlfriend likes to cook so she’s making me a sub.”

Ladybug pushed his chest, pissed that she fell for it. “Oh my god, Chat, you are so-so-!”

“Chat got your tongue?” He dared, then had the gall to look to the side, fingers touching his lips. “Well, not yet.”

Red seethed into her vision. “God, you’re such a dick! Why do I even bother!”

“You’re just so cute when your mad,” he said, echoing all the fucking assholes in her past with the phrase she hated more than anything else in this world. “It’s adickting.”

Fucking piece of shit won’t be laughing when I throw his ass off this tower, her thoughts rang, her rage rising, her eyes just barely catching him wince between smiles, his eyes more sunken than she remembered. Chat wasn’t a misogynist, not even accidentally. “You’re doing it on purpose.”

Chat pouted. “Doing what?”

Oh, he was good. Ladybug remembered her early frustrations, trying to balance the responsibility of being a superhero and leading the dumb reckless boy around, only to actually listen to him and realize he wasn’t dumb at all. In fact, he was exceedingly clever, spouting off facts faster than a SAT prep student at trivia night, his brain quickly formulating angles and pressure for traps like a god damned engineer. The jokes were something she learned to live with. A way for him to keep the mood and normalcy in their fucked-up lives.

Maybe, deep down, she liked them. Yeah, they were fucking dumb but it was like a careful reminder: We’re okay. This isn’t a big deal. This is so easy.

It hadn’t struck her that maybe he was playing to her insecurities as well.

“I thought I already told you,” she glowered, breathing in through her nose, willing her rage to die down. “You don’t get to manipulate me or coerce me.”

He tried to stand up. “Bugaboo, I didn’t—”

“Nuh-uh, nope, on your knees,” she snapped, pointing a finger at him. “You think you can just show up with your little toys and your jabs and trick me into getting angry and lashing out at you. You want a session? Then you better beg like the submissive you’re supposed to be.”

Chat curled over his knees, forehead almost touching the floor. “Yes, my lady.”

Ahhh, there it was.

 

---

 

Chat trembled on the ground, trying to bite back the grin threatening to split his face in half. I’m in trouble now, he reaffirmed, feeling her toes jab against his cheek, sliding down his neck, lifting up his chin to a painful angle. God, her legs were so long and toned and the moonlight bounced off her hair—

“First of all, I’m not your girlfriend.”

Her foot dropped him, his nose almost slamming against metal.

“Secondly, it’s about time we established some more rules. What was the first one?”

His answer was swift. “Only doing things we like. Or might like.”

Ladybug hummed in approval, walking around him. “The second rule?”

“Our safe words. Red, yellow, green.”

“Maybe try actually using some of them if you remember,” Ladybug snarked, surprising him with her irritation. It wasn't like she'd done anything incredibly painful or out of line. 

He wondered how much she’d studied. “You can use them too.”

Her foot pressed down on his back, lightly testing him, and damn he wished he actually tried to kiss it when he had the opportunity. Would she like that? He wondered, enjoying the meaning more than the action. He wanted her to know he was hers, that she could trust him to always be that.

“I don’t need them.” Her weight was firm, imprinting even. He’d ignore it. For now.

“Third rule?”

“Every time I do something bad, you’ll punish me.” Like now, he thought gleefully, even though the actual crime wasn’t clear to him. It reminded him of something Master Fu had told him one day, when he was asking him why 吹毛求疵 literally meant blow hair on fur when it simply translated to nitpick. Fu had chuckled, saying: “Exactly. You ask questions to overcomplicate simple and good things instead of just accepting them as they are. Fate can be fickle, for better or worse, so just accept when it comes. There’s nothing wrong with finding happiness Adrien.”

“And I’ll reward you when you do good,” she added, lifting up her foot, stroking down his spine with her giant toe. She stopped just at his tail belt, foot hovering. “I think that was all of them so far.”

“Leave Marinette out of this,” he uttered, not bothering to hide the unhappiness in his voice. “You made that one crystal clear multiple times already.”

The side of her foot slapped his ass, a soft thump, hardly noteworthy. “Then don’t do it!”

“What, I can’t even say your name now?”

This time was harder, enough for him to suck his breath in. “Fine, okay, LB.”

“That’s just a given,” she announced, walking back in front of him. “So, we won’t count it as a rule. Rule number 4 is that I’m the one that sets up our sessions. That means materials, location, time, everything, understand? I’ll make an exception today, but this won’t be happening again.”

His chest did a funky flip at the word session, as if hearing that mere vocalization for everything between them was affirming something. Because if it had a name, it was real, wasn’t it? Then he actually focused on what she was saying. Oh. Ohhhhhh. He hadn’t realized that was important to her, but of course it was. Ladybug always came up with the plans in battle, why should this be any different?

He felt so guilty, “I’m so sorry.”

“Sure, you are,” she snorted. “You got exactly what you wanted anyway. Here you are, taking orders on top of the Eiffel fucking Tower. You can be so annoying, you know that?"

That sent a thrill up his spine. Her words were harsh but it was almost like ... like she was praising him. "But even if you’re pissing me off, I still think you deserve a say in it. So, Rule 5 is that you need to ask me for a session. I’ll even allow you to ask for specific acts, though whether or not I’ll follow through is entirely up to me.”

Holy shit, this is too good to be true! “Thank you so much, my lady.”

“Geez, you’re so excited you’re shaking,” Ladybug teased, squatting in front of him. He almost looked up, tempted to see her thighs parted, but wouldn’t dare. Even better than that quick peek, she started stroking his hair, her fingers lingering and scratching and feeling so amazing that he got harder.

“We can’t be too obvious though,” she summarized, still absentmindedly petting him. “So, even though I think you’re crazy, we’ll use your secret agent phones, okay? You can tell me or text me, “I want a session” and we’ll schedule a time and I’ll reach out to you.”

Chat struggled to breathe; his chest so full of happiness that it almost hurt. He didn’t dare look up, didn’t want her to see him crying again, and didn’t even know how to express what this meant to him. She just lingered there, waiting for some reaction. So, he kissed the top of her foot.

“As you wish, my lady.”

Ladybug reached for his face, lifting up both his cheeks so that she could stare at him. She looked gorgeous, the moonlight tracing her silhouette and her soft expression more relaxed than he'd seen in a long time. He felt immediately felt relaxed with her.

“Chat,” she murmured, thumb stroking his cheek. “What do you want?”

“I want you to own me,” he breathed, letting the tears fall anyway.

Chapter Text

Ladybug stroked Chat’s face, feeling the strangest sense of proprietary satisfaction. He was submitting to her, he always did, but this felt different somehow. It was like, for the first time ever, she actually held him, claimed him, and holy shit he was letting her and that felt amazing. Her hand searched the floor for the leash while she distracted him with a light tap on his bell.

“I don’t think a collar will fit over your costume,” she uttered, tugging him forward by the bell, fingers seizing the loop that branched to his zipper. His eyes looked down, mouth opening with a soft breath of surprise. “Good thing you always dress like a pervert.”

The leash clicked on almost too easily. She stood up, pulling the cord around enough to angle his head up, the bell pressing right against his Adam’s apple.

“You like it though,” he reiterated, balancing on his knees to follow her.

“You know, cats actually hate leashes. They like to be free,” she said thoughtfully, taking a step back. He moved one step with his knee, not once looking away from her. “Seems counter-intuitive.”

Chat just smiled at her; his eyes almost glowing in adoration. “Cats are just really selective. Despite all the stereotypes, cats can be very loyal and trainable. But a cat has to respect their owner.”

How much of this was an info dump and how much of it was a request? “Hm, I suppose this means I can’t call you a stray any more, can I?”

“You mean it?” He beamed. Ladybug bit her lip, intimidated.  This was moving too fast, too weird. Maybe she should have walked away, taken some time to think things through, but then she remembered that look of dejection and anxiety on his expression. She yanked on the collar, pulling him forward, watching him throw his hands on the ground to catch himself. It seemed like he wanted her to take his control and yet he never quite seemed to let it go. 

The leash isn’t enough, she decided, staring at the other implements.

“Depends. I have a busy life; I don’t have time for a pet. You can’t live at my house.”

Chat exhaled, a flash of something in his reflection as he muttered, “Baby steps.”

Which was oddly endearing. In a frustrating sort of way. She had him on the floor, with a leash, god damn it, how was he still pushing her around? “Put your arms behind your back.”

Chat obeyed, that damned smirk still on his face. She waltzed in front of him, movements slow as she picked up the cuffs and moved behind him. His breath quickened. Then she knelt, feeling a strange flip in her heart when she saw he’d stacked his forearms on top of each other instead of locking his wrists, placing himself in the same position she had given him last time. Shaking herself from the distraction, she loosened the clasps on the cuffs, trying to figure out how they worked. He said nothing, kneeling there in the dark, waiting for her.

Finally, she grabbed his hand hand, forcing his fingers together so she could fit it through the cuff. Then she clicked them into place, noting that, yes indeed, they were custom fitted. Did he order them online and pick them up or did they size him in the store? The idea of someone intimately touching him, drawing that flexible measuring tape around his neck sat ill with her. That was something she wanted to do.

“These fit well,” she commented, trying extra hard to keep her tone neutral.

“They should,” he snorted, mystifying her. She pulled the chain through the loops in-laid on the wrists, trying to figure out how to make it tighter. The two pieces weren’t flexible like rope was, but they were too short to wrap around his arms. Why are they like that? It irked her that she had to sit there and think about it, wasting time and making things more awkward.

Finally, she settled for tying the chains together in a crude knot between his wrists. It looked bulky and ugly, totally different from the black ribbon she’d used last time.

“Those are for attaching to the collar,” he finally spoke up. “You attach them through the side loops and it forces your arms to bend up and your hands to hang by your shoulders.”

Ladybug was able to get a clear image in her head, imagining the pose was similar to old wooden medieval hand cuffs. But it didn’t fit here. Maybe if she spread him out on a bed, bare against silk sheets, his ankles cuffed to the bed posts—

Woaaah, she stopped herself there. Imagining her in her bed, naked save leather and chain, was not a way to stay focused. Plus, that’s like a bit … and anyway, we aren’t…

She blamed it on all the porn.

Chat, of course, was smug. “Got you thinking about it, didn’t I?”

“Nah, I was thinking about how horny you have to be to buy a custom leather set for yourself. Kind of reeks of desperation, Chaton.” God, she was proud of that quick comeback.

“I gift my best,” he answered, testing his arm movement without her even having to ask. Luckily, they held firm, with only about a couple inches of give. “I got them for you, my lady.”

Oh, here we go again. Ladybug stood up, hands on her hips as she circled around him, contemplating. “Why is it so hard for you to admit you wanted them for yourself?”

He shook his head, barely biting back a laugh. “You caught me, LB. I want this.”

“Stand up,” she ordered, yanking on the collar. “We’re going for a walk.”

Chat looked bemused as he examined the twinkling sky-line. “Where to?”

Ladybug tugged the lead, pulling him closer as she walked toward him, watching him stumble without his arms to balance. They ebbed and flowed, like a strange dance, Chat stumbling into whatever pace she gave him. Yet he didn’t show any discomfort, not even as she stepped right into his personal space. That was when her leg brushed against it.

“Of course,” she deadpanned, trying not to make a big deal. Because it was something that was going to keep happening, no need to give him a big ego or anything. Plus, last time she’d been down on her knees, stroking and sucking, and— Fuck, stop thinking about his erection.

“Don’t tell me I’m becoming too predicktable.”

Fuck, he noticed. “Come on, tomcat.”

 

---

 

Chat died and went to heaven. Well, the pervy version of it. Ladybug was playing with him, willingly, even taking charge of the game and this wasn’t going to be the last time. She gave him rules. She said she’d contact him. She said he could ask her whenever he wanted! Thank goodness I had the courage to do this, he thought again and again. It made the last week of hell almost worth it. 

The wind picked up and he shivered, his whole body feeling electric. It was a little hard to walk, especially because she had a brisk pace, and she kept randomly tugging him. They had bound his arms before and he’d quickly learned how defenseless it made him. But he hadn’t realized how much it messed with his ability to walk. Plus, the leather tightly squeezed his dick with each step, sending slow waves of pleasure up his spine. It was exciting, emboldening, erotic, and yet he still felt like he was waiting for something more.

“Maybe we should try this on the street,” Ladybug said to herself. “The red-light district is probably still crowded. We might even seem normal there.”

Oh wow, to be dragged around by Ladybug where everyone could see that he was hers and she was super into it sounded awesome. It was a shame they were obviously underaged. And that they were Paris’s most recognizable superheroes. Plus, there was something erotic about her secretiveness, knowing that something rested between them that no one else could begin to access or understand.

“Maybe someday,” he agreed. She walked closer to the edge and his heart spiked. The floor beneath them was steady, he knew that, and even if he fell, she’d definitely catch him with her yo-yo. But seeing the fall, imagining the rush of air, then the crash, filled him with a strange exhilaration. It terrified him.

But not as much as, “You need to tell me what happened.”

“Chat, you basically avoided me for a week,” Ladybug snapped, turning to face him. “You’ve been trying to distract me. That’s the real reason you bought everything, isn’t it?”

His voice came out rough. “You’re still asking about that, I said I’m sorry, didn’t I?”

Ladybug stood on her tip toes, her nose almost touching his. “Was it because I forced you to cum even thought you asked me to stop?”            

“Wh-wh,” his face heated and he took half a step back. “No, definitely not!”

“So, did you actually like it or not?”

Was she seriously asking him if he liked his first blowjob? “Yes! Geez, bugaboo.”

“Was it because I asked you to de-transform?” Her volume was increasing, he voice becoming more frantic as she opened the latch to her mind. “Were you worried about me discovering your identity? Did I make you uncomfortable by moving too fast? Was it because of what happened with the akuma? Or something else? Was I too mean? Why were you crying?”

The back of his heel met with air and he lurched forward, vertigo hitting him. Ladybug’s eyes widened as she pulled his collar, balancing him on his toes. She let out a rush of breath and his heart thudded in his chest. All she had to do was let go and…

He couldn’t even catch himself or use his baton. There was another level sticking out under them by the time she reached him it’d probably be too late. He could actually die here, away from it all.

“Did something happen at home, Chat?” Her voice lowered and her grip tightened. His head swam as he tried to escape and he realized she wouldn’t be able to pull him up. But the words were catching up in his throat, feeling more constrictive than ropes or collars, and as he looked in her eyes he realized that would be the last sight she saw of him before he plummeted.

“R-red,” he gasped, holding himself desperately still.

 

---

 

Marinette yanked him towards her, throwing him down on the floor, tears, panic, and a small scream escaping her lips. The leash tangled and she fell, landing on him, catching herself on him.

“Oh my god, oh my god,” she panicked, her hands running up and down his face, his chest, his frantically beating heart, the breaths teetering from his lips. “Are you okay? Can you breathe? I could have killed you! Oh, my fucking god, Chat I almost killed you!”

“Breathe,” he uttered calmly, shocking her.

“DON’TTELLMETOBREATHEYOUALMOSTDIEDYOUASSHOLE!”

She shook his shoulders, sobs wracking from her chest. “This is why I didn’t want to be your dom, Chat! Oh my god! What the fuck are we doing?!”

“Mari, calm down,” he whispered, his arms squirming under them. God, that hurt. No one called her Mari, not since grade school, but he said it so naturally, like they were totally normal friends or something. Deep down that’s how he actually saw them. And to think she’d been so careless with him, that she almost—

“I can’t do it Chat,” she cried, cupping her eyes in her hands. “Fuck, I can barely deal with Ladybug or school or friends or liking boys and this is just too goddamn much, Chat! There's so much to keep track of and I can’t even take care of myself. I’m a nervous wreck! How am I supposed to take care of you? I can’t even—"

He leaned up and bit her nose, shutting her up. She blinked.

“Marinette, listen to me,” he said, curling up to a sitting position, catching her in his lap. “I’m fine. I didn’t fall. It was my fault for walking to close to the edge and not saying anything. It was dark and we couldn’t see it. We’re going to make mistakes sometimes, there’s no way we can know everything. But now we know, dangling each other off buildings is probably a bad idea.”

His voice was smooth. Velvety. Different. “Sound good?”

She nodded, wiping away her tears.

“For the record, I think you’re doing great,” he continued, giving her a reassuring smile. “I know I don’t know much about BDSM but I like doing it with you and if I didn’t know better, I’d think you’d been practicing for months. On top of that you save Paris practically every day, all while leading the class and helping your family. You’re always there for everyone when they need you and never ask for anything back. I said it before, and I’ll say it again, I’m so, so glad you’re Ladybug, Marinette.”

The tears started gathering again. There was no way that was her, it was just an idealized version of her life. A fantasy he wanted that she could never measure up to.

“I know I’m,” he trailed off, his eyes going hard. “Difficult. I shouldn’t have asked you to do this today, not after that happened at school. I just…”

Her emotions stirred. She was embarrassed that he knew about the panic attack, wondering how far it spread at the school. If he purposefully kept tabs on her or if the whole student body talked behind her back. Then there was flattery. He knew she had a freak out and still trusted her to be his dom. His loyalty to her was faultless, something she was so, so thankful for.

Chat was still struggling, his brow furrowed. “I just really needed, I mean, I wanted…”

She had no idea what he meant by difficult. As carefree and self-serving as he pretended to be, she knew he was constantly sacrificing something in his mind. It was why he kept his opinions to himself, why he went with her whims, why he was so, so easy to work with. Even after expressing interest in BDSM, he’d never outright asked her for it, just waited for her to lead him. She’d seen his actions today as pushiness and selfishness, but was there anything wrong with that?

Yes, she concluded, watching him swallow nervously, shutting up again. If he was asking for something, fully knowing it would inconvenience her, then he must be more desperate than she thought. The sessions were a great way for her unwind; every time she played with him all her anxiety and stress seemed to melt away. But what did it do for him?

What was he so desperately running from?

“Maybe we can try again,” she whispered, placing a hand on his chest. “Would you like that?”

Chat nodded, his eyes watering. “Are you sure?"

"I'll be fine," Ladybug assured, trying to be the calm that he needed. "Do you want to?"

"Please."

It was so weird, trying to break down the steps of what she was going to do to him. Especially since she didn’t have time to plan this, didn’t even know if it would work.

“I want you to lay down with your head hanging off the edge. Then I’m going to sit on top of you to make sure you don’t fall. That way we can still play with vertigo. What do you think?”

Chat leaned forward, resting his head on her shoulder, “Let’s try it.”

Chapter Text

The immediate rush assaulted him, dizzying and palpable, as his back pressed down on metal, his head floating on air. Ladybug pulled on the leash, keeping his neck up enough for him to watch her swing her leg over him, straddling his chest. Her expression was worried as her hands roved his body.

“Is this comfortable?”

His back was pressing into his arms, doubtless growing a giant impression where she had balled up the chains on his wrist, and his neck and shoulders were already stiff. “Not really.”

Ladybug huffed. “You know what I meant. Are we good? Or should we stop?”

“Everything’s green, my lady.”

“How’s your head?”

“A bit heady.”

Ladybug ignored him, pressing on. “If I ask you something and you take too long to respond, I’m pulling you back up, okay? Don’t go quiet on me right now.”

“Aw, you actually just wanna hear my jokes, don’t you, bugaboo?”

“If you aren’t going to be serious, we’re stopping right now.”

Damn. He suspected she was catching on to the fact that she could use that as a threat against him. Maybe he shouldn’t have been so eager. “What do we do now?”

“You’re going to tell me what happened between the last session and this one,” she ordered, wasting no time. “I thought you actually liked it. Didn’t you?”

“It was really good,” he affirmed. Then, taking the opportunity, “Did you like it?”

God, he could just imagine that adorable blush sprinkling across her nose. “Focus, Chat. We're talking about you.”

“I was worried you didn’t,” he blurted, nervous, hoping she’d sense he wanted that reassurance just as much as she did. “So, I got nervous.”

“What made you think I didn’t like it?” She prodded instead. Her tone was laced with ire. That was the complication, he supposed, that push and pull. The seductive energy of her passion was equally terrifying. At what point would she toss up her hands and be done with him? How long would it take her to realize just how pathetic he was?

But if I don’t say anything, she’ll stop. “I don’t know.”

“Was it the part where I was fucking you with my eyes?”

Chat shuddered, remembering that liquid look as her blue eyes trailed down his chest.

“Or the part where I started sucking your dick?”

His head swam, the wind echoing in the tower arches below, metal creaking, his arms cramping from the amount of pressure she put on him, his neck stiff from her hold on the leash. But even through all of that, his body could still remember the wet pressure of her lips, the slight brush of teeth. At first, he’d been grateful to be pulled out of school again, knowing that no amount of cold showers could override the intense release of that rainy day.

“I didn’t mean to, you know,” she drawled, adjusting her pert ass on his chest, drawing his gaze to the shadow of her navel. “I just wanted to look. You could call it curiosity.”

“Killed the chat, you know,” he wheezed, surprise by how airy his voice had become.

 Ladybug gave his collar a brusque tug. “That’s not funny Chat.”

“Too soon?” He grimaced, realizing where her mind went. Wanting to get away from that, he bravely added, “What made you do it then? I-if you just meant to look.”

Ladybug’s chest shuddered, her perky breasts shaking with the movement. God, what a view.

“I couldn’t help it. You were so fucking hot it made me wet.”

Wait, what? Chat blinked. 

“I guess you were a little … preoccupied,” Ladybug uttered, drawing a finger down her clavicle, following the trail to her stomach. “So, you didn’t notice…”

Those fingers slid between her legs, wedged between her tight suit and his chest. Oh my god. They stroked, forward, then back, and he had to crane his neck to watch. To think that she did that to herself, while bringing him to orgasm had him breathless. That she could be so needy…for him…

She pulled her fingers out, stroking up his chest instead, as it wracked with breaths.

“Yell…ow…” he tried to breath out. Ladybug stiffened, balancing on her knees to hover over him, lifting his head as she pulled him up over the edge. That hand, those fingers, were cradling his head as she lowered it to the floor, her eyes were wide with worry.

“Can you breathe?” She asked, palm splayed above his erratic heart. “Are you okay?”

“Bugaboo,” he begged, feeling his lungs expand again. “Can I touch you? Please?”

 

--- 

 

Chat’s eyes were dark with desire, his chest panting breaths, his erection straining against leather. He lay underneath her on the metal, safe and secure, and way more aroused than he ought to be. She’d intended to shock him, maybe embarrass him, not send him over the edge. He looked so turned on the breeze might set him off. The idea enraptured her, so much so that she wondered if he felt her growing wet between their suits before she’d moved off him .

Instinct told her to ride him, but she forced herself to focus.

“You beg so sweetly,” Ladybug teased, brushing his bangs off his face as she balanced her weight on her elbows. “But you’re forgetting something very important, Chaton.”

Were his pupils dilating? “What?”

“You never answered my question: What happened between the last session and this one?”

Because this session was for him. She wasn’t going to get distracted by her own pleasure.

“Please, bugaboo.”

“Did it take you this long to realize this is an interrogation?” Ladybug teased, shaking with the thrill. “I won’t give you anything until you tell me what I want to hear.”

“Fuck,” he uttered, eyes blown.

She flicked his nose. “Tick-tock, Chat. I’ve got a busy schedule tomorrow.”

“It’s home stuff,” he managed, eyes cinching shut. “We can’t talk about it.”

“I suppose I can always take a nice hot shower instead,” Ladybug continued, slowing her words as she moved her face closer to his. “Or cuddle up with a very firm body pillow.”

He let out a strong exhalation of air, turning his face away from her. Push him more, she decided, letting her breaths dance along the shell of his ear.

“That’s what I had to do last time.”

His voice came out high, almost reedy. “Oh god.”

This is going to be so humiliating, she thought, but so fucking worth it. “You’ll never guess who I was pretending to grind on top of.”

Just because she could, she lowered her pelvis against his. The feeling was so amazing she shuddered, forgetting her plan to immediately pull back. Neither of them moved beyond their trembling, getting lost in that feeling of competition.

“Try to stay focused Chat,” she managed, her voice like the air. “The last session went great; we both liked it. But something happened and you almost ghosted me.”

“I, I can’t,” he murmured, trying to shift away from her. The movement sent a bolt of pleasure through her and she bit down a moan. “Please…”

Lifting away from him was the hardest thing she’d ever done. With a deep breath, she crawled back up on her knees, balancing above him. He looked utterly wrecked below her, tied up and twitching, desperate for any sort of touch. She wondered far that desperation could go. “You ever heard of neglect play?”

“I don’t want to do that,” he uttered, voice low. "Please, don't do that."

Her fingers tugged on his leash. “Why not?”

He whimpered but refused to say more.

“Some people say the desire of something is more compelling than having it,” Ladybug considered, wondering how she herself felt about it. It was just a goad; there was no way it could realistically work. Their schedules were too erratic to build up his anticipation and she had no way of knowing how he was doing outside their suits.

Safe words would be meaningless if she couldn’t even hear them.

“I don’t like it when you leave,” he whispered.

Ladybug blinked, unsure if she actually heard him. “What?”

“You …” He swallowed, turning his face away again and she moved back on her elbows, just close enough to examine the clench of his jaw. “You left me there.”

Her heart throbbed, painfully reaching up her throat. “Chat…”

Everything had been so overwhelming. His strange reactions, her sudden escalation to oral, the real fear of almost being caught, the implications between them. As soon as she’d answered that door, she’d panicked, desperate to run away and collect herself all over again.

She hadn’t even realized what that looked like to him.

“I’m sorry, Chat.”

She palmed his cheek, pulling his eyes to meet hers. His face eyes glittered with tears.

“You said you didn’t want to meet anymore.”

“I never said that!” She protested, watching him flinch. Then she remembered.

“Oh my god! I meant the classroom, Chat,” she insisted, shocked he jumped to that conclusion. “I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a janitor voyeur fetish, okay? I just freaked out.”

Chat cracked a grin. “At least we made a clean getaway.”

Ladybug bit her lip, trying to hold in a smile. He was good, so good at raising the mood. Even when, sometimes, it might be better to stay there for a while. Because he’d been agonizing over this for days and if she had known she could have just told him everything was fine.

“I wanted to decide on another time but you were avoiding me so I thought I went too far.”

Chat sighed. “I was just trying to be normal again.”

“Not talking to me is never normal, Chat.”

He swallowed, his breaths shaky as he whispered, “Sorry.”

Ladybug stroked his hair, feeling strangely at ease as she settled on top of him, her arms folding on his chest, her thighs nestling his cock. “You should have told me.”

Because Chat was so charismatic, so good at saying just the right thing at the right time, she’d never fathomed that he could ever be at a loss for words. He wasn’t like her, spastic and out of control, but that didn’t mean that he had any more control of his silence than she had of her stuttering and shouting. But she didn’t have to except it. Neither did he.

How had Alya put it? “Girl, I know you didn’t mean it okay? Everyone has their rough days. You just gotta let me know what to do to make that smoother. You know me: I’m gonna worry and I’m gonna pry. I can’t promise that away. But I can promise to do what you ask me, okay?”

Chat was lying under her, probably dying from her weight and the cuffs, somehow resisting the urge to rub against her. His self-discipline was terrifying. Why is he so hard on himself? It struck her that maybe he lived his life outside of the mask this way. Constantly on edge, waiting for something to give.

“Still, you were able to tell me now,” she praised, moving her hands to stroke his head. Her tiny breasts squished against his chest, feeling larger and more feminine than she’d thought they could be. “My kitty needs extra pets and attention, right?”

She punctuated this with a light rock against his dick. He moaned, the sound tremoring against her chest. Her whole body was melting, desperate for everything she’d been denying.

“Yes,” he sighed, gently rocking back.

“Rule three, Chaton,” she managed out, tugging his hair. “I want you to beg for it.”

He released a shaky breath. “Please, my lady.”

Oh god, her hips were trembling. “Please, what, Chaton?”

The silence almost killed her. “Make me cum.”

 

---

 

Chat groaned as her thighs parted, just enough to bracket his. She tested the angle, her own breaths becoming shallow pants as she rocked against him. God, she was so warm and soft and he wanted to flip her over, pin her down, fuck himself deeply into her as she clutched him tightly, screaming his name with her own wild release.

But he was in bonds. And she hadn’t ordered him to move.

Her hands left his hair, leaving him bereft, hoping for another one of those mind-blowing tugs. He could just imagine going down on her, those hands pulling and guiding him into submission. They moved onto his chest, pressing down as she slid up. The ecstasy of his dick wedging deeper between her legs, the extra pressure on his arms and back created a delicious concoction of opposing forces. He could stay there forever, feeling her tiny thrusts quivering against him.

“You like that?” She asked, her voice low and throaty, something straight out of porn.

“Don’t stop,” he pleaded, aiding the fantasy.

Ladybug moaned, grinding harder, slower, indulging in every inch of him. He’d expected a quick fumbling, the eruption of all the tightly bound feelings she’d forced them to lock. Instead, she was lingering in the moment as if she wanted it to last forever. As if she wanted to stay with him.

“I need …” she sucked in a breath, back arching, her neck looking lovely in moonlight. “Chat…”

His reply was meaningless, a devolution of sound, wild and erotic.

“Please,” she cried, gripping his shoulders. “Move.”

He gave in with one rough thrust, enough to make her bounce.

“Ah!~” She cried, her own hips jerking still as she shook. “Chat…”

The angle was difficult, his arms heavy and bruised, but he ground slower, trying to imitate that feeling she’d so purposefully chased. Ecstatic when she met him with her own thrust.

“Please, please, Ch-chat,” she begged, wanting what he couldn’t give.

“Help me up,” he demanded, his brusque tone causing her to still.

“Chat?”

 “You need it harder.”

Ladybug backed off, manipulating his body back into a sitting position as he drew up his knees. His erection throbbed from the movement, tortuously. She slowly returned, biting her lip nervously as she examined his body. She reached out to stroke him directly, her eyes growing almost heavy lidded.

“I want you to cum with me,” he protested.

Doubt tinged her expression, her brow furrowing with want and shame. “Chat…”

“This is my reward, right?” He goaded, pulling false bravado. “Straddle me, bugaboo.”

His breath staggered when she did just that, her fingers pulling back his hair as she growled, “Don’t get cocky with me.”

“Little late for that,” he panted, laughter weak and dry. Ladybug tugged again, her knees spreading on the floor as she ground down, her face close enough that he could see her mouth widen into a pornographic ‘O’.

It took a bit of positioning, but he finally cradled her ass on his thighs, matching her tempo as she buried her face in his neck, her fingers scratching the leather of his suit as she muffled her moans. Then he felt her whole body stiffen with a tremor, vibrating against him as she cried in his ear, the sound pulling forth his own orgasm after hers.Then she melted, curling around him as she had that first session, her chest so tight against his they could almost share heartbeats. If he could use his hands, he’d hug her back, maybe even hold her still before prying her lips with his tongue. He’d work her body into another fever keeping her writhing and desperate for him so she’d never leave again.

Instead, he took what he could get, letting out a satisfied sigh as he rested his cheek against hers. Was there anyone who loved as deeply as he loved this girl?

Chapter Text

Ladybug held Chat close, reality creeping around them as she came down from her high. What the fuck did I just do? She’d moaned, loudly, like a goddamned slut, and rode him on top of the Eiffel Tower. Anyone could have heard them! Her first instinct was to curl up in her bed, maybe cry about it to Tikki, or writing erratic confessions in her diary. But then she remembered his voice, broken and lost,

“You left me there.”

God, she hadn’t realized how much she’d fucked up. She’d done some reading about aftercare. People said it was good if subs were nervous or upset after a session, a great way to get them back to reality. It never occurred to her that he would need that too. He could bounce back from even the worst akuma and Chat always seemed so happy after they played.

Then again, Chat always seemed happy.

“Are you … doing okay?” She asked, trying to gauge him.

“Mmm,” he mumbled, almost sleepily.

She squeezed him tightly in reply. Then she realized his arms were bunched up.

“Crap, let me—”

“No,” he grumbled, pressing his face into her shoulder. “I don’t wanna move.”

Ladybug puffed her cheeks, trying to quell her annoyance. Defiantly, she felt around for the chains, fumbling as she tried to undo the twists and knots. “You can’t stay like this.”

Chat snorted. “I can if you can’t even untie them.”

“Hey, I had to work with what I had,” she snapped defensively. “It’s not my fault you gave me a foot of chain to work with, geez.”

Finally, the chains started to loosen. “Hah, take that.”

“Damn.” His tone was wistful.

His arms fell and she shimmied around, trying to undo the clasps on the bracers. “You sure you don’t want to return these and get your money back?”

“Keep them,” he insisted again, childish and stubborn.

“Yeah, yeah, fine,” she answered, sliding the cuffs down his arms. “You aren’t allowed to go back to that adult store again though.”

Because no way was, she letting him do something that stupid again. Chat stiffened slightly. It only made sense. She hadn’t really given him an order outside of a session before. Was she even allowed to do that? Testing the waters, she whispered, “not until I order you to.”

Because next time she wanted to be with him, damn it.

“Yes, my lady,” he chuckled, the sound getting cut off with a wince as his arms fell to his side. She scooted back on his lap, pulling his arms forward, wishing she could see what she’d done underneath the leather and midnight.

“Plagg’s gonna kill me,” Chat mumbled as she stroked his arms.

Ah. The cat kwami. They’d met briefly once, when Chat had supposedly lost his miraculous. He had been a miniature of Chat Noir, carefree and snappy, until he actually came to the rescue. She remembered asking Tikki whether miraculous effected personality and Tikki had snorted, saying,

“It certainly doesn’t help.”

Whatever the hell that meant.

“Your kwami? Why?”

“He said it was my business whether or not I wanted to be pervert but cumming in the suit crossed the line,” Chat grumbled, reminding her of just exactly what they’d done.

God, it must be hot and sticky. “Oh, you’re going to have to walk home in that, aren’t you?”

“Don’t worry, LB, I’ll figure it out.”

There he was again. Throwing away his own suffering. Just a week ago she would have nodded, distancing herself with some sort of flippant comment. But this was all part of the scene, all her responsibility. “Next time we’ll try it without the suit.”

Chat stiffened under her. “Next time?”

Her heart thudded wildly. Maybe she had been presumptuous in thinking he enjoyed that. What if she had been too eager, too loud, too awkward with her binding, too inept with her handling of him, what if he didn’t want her—

“W-w-well, there doesn’t have to be a next time, there are other things we can do besides, y-you said you wanted to try th-things but you can always say n-no if you—”

“Do you want to?” He interrupted, hands on her shoulders.

She squeaked. “I can handle it. Not that you can’t, just I’m the dom, so, I mean—”

Chat moved his hands to cup her face. “Did we go too far?”

“Shouldn’t I ask you that?” She mumbled, startled by how nice his hands felt.

“It was,” his chest expanded, trying to encapsulate what happened between them, the space between his words filling her with dread. “Intense. Amazing. But we don’t have to go that far if it’s too much. I know you have, um, reservations about ... I, uh, was being a bit selfish with my request.”

Ladybug wanted to pick the pieces of his mind, stack them up one by one and finally make sense of what was happening inside there. “I told you to ask me for what you wanted.”

“But I don’t want you to ever do something you don’t want to,” he protested, pulling back. She frowned, trying to understand him. If moaning and begging on top of him was what she sounded like when she didn’t want it, god help them when she actually started getting into it.

“Chat, no one can make me do anything,” she snapped, pulling a bit of bravado. “So, stop sitting there and beating yourself up about something that’s not even true.”

Chat wrapped his arms around her, his hug so strong it almost crushed her. “I just don’t want you to feel guilty about it later,” he whispered.

Insecurity rang through her. Because even if she wanted to deny it, she couldn't.

 

---

 

Adrien stumbled into the shower, blasting the water to drown out Plagg’s bitching.

“But you don’t ever listen to me, do you?!” Plagg was screeching, flitting around on the other side of the glass, stalking back and forth in an odd bout of frustration. “It’s like the more someone tells you not the do something, the more you have to do it.”

“Reminds me of you,” Adrien teased, peaking out of the shower.

Plagg rolled his eyes. “It’s the principle of thing. I don’t eat my cheese on your bed.”

Adrien snorted, lathering up some soap. “But you totally do though.”

Plagg chose to ignore that. “Why is she always so mad all the time? She’s not like that at all outside of the suit. Plus, I thought you were doing it so she wouldn’t be mad!”

“She’s not mad, Plagg, she’s just stressed,” he argued, lathering his hair. “And I’m not doing it for her sake, you know. I happen to I like being with her. If anything, she’s the one doing me a favor.”

“Ugh, I almost wish you were writing sappy love poetry again. At least that was juvenile.”

“What can I say, Plagg? I’m all grown up.”

Plagg continued grumbling as he let the warm steam envelop him. One of the reasons he liked showers so much was that overwhelming heat, so different from the empty halls of the manor. For a moment, he could pretend someone was with him, holding him. It was so much easier to imagine with Ladybug’s touch still lingering. He shook the thought, running his hands through his hair, flinching when his arm pinged. He rotated his forearms, looking at the purpling bruises from the chain. It was different from rope marks; impersonal and chaotic, probably something that would linger unpleasantly for days.

I’m going to have a hard time covering this up.

“And that’s another thing!” Plagg continued, becoming audible again from his back and forth prowling. “Why doesn’t she want to talk to you? I thought the point of telling her you knew her was so that you could improve your friendship and learn how to communicate! Not become sex friends!”

“W-we aren’t sex friends,” Adrien sputtered, turning off the water.

Plagg threw a towel on the floor outside. “Ya could have fooled me!”

Adrien started drying himself, frowning at the kwami. Usually, Plagg would already be asleep, his only complaints based on his lack of nap time and extra cheese. He hadn’t shown judgment or reservations the other times. Even with the jokes, Adrien could tell Plagg was happy for him. It just wasn’t in the kwami to ever be straightforward with his feelings.

He was similar to Marinette that way.

“Look, I’m sorry I didn’t consider you Plagg. Next time I’ll stay out of the suit.”

The kwami huffed, rolling his eyes. “What difference will that make?”

Adrien felt a brief flicker of anxiety. Plagg was complicated at best, but he’d become fairly competent at understanding the kwami. And Plagg understood him. It was why they were so comfortable with each other. Why they could react and interact to each other without hardly any conversation some days. 

“That’s…that’s not why you’re mad?”

Plagg’s tail drooped and for moment, he seemed like he wouldn’t answer.

“She almost dropped you off a building,” Plagg uttered, his eyes glittering.  “I didn’t become your kwami so you can hurt yourself like that.”

Tears? He hadn’t known a kwami could cry. “Yeah, we’re not going to do that again.”

“You promise?”

Adrien cupped the kwami in his hands. He wasn’t used to anyone worrying about him. Not since his mother had disappeared. “I’m sorry Plagg, I didn’t mean to scare you.”

Or Marinette, he thought mentally, remembering her sobbing on top of him. Was it really the same night? So much had happened between them.

“I’m a god of destruction and don’t you forget it! There’s a reason ancient cultures fear the cat,” Plagg was blabbering, little chest puffing up with pride. “I wasn’t scared. At all.”

“Yes, yes,” Adrien chuckled, petting his head. Plagg’s eyes slanted down but before he could retort, Adrien’s phone started vibrating on the counter.

Well, one of his phones.

He and Plagg shared a glance before the kwami dove for the phone, zooming up to the ceiling with his prize. “Well, well, well, what do you have to say for yourself, Ladybug?”

Then, very slowly, he floated back down. His expression complicated.

Chapter Text

Marinette took a deep breath, the smell of her lavender shampoo filling her nostrils. The phone had been easy enough to work. It only had a couple apps on it and a smiling Chat Noir selfie as the background. The messenger was small and private, and her username was set to Buginette which...

She wasn’t sure how to feel about.

Tikki had been distant, as if sensing Marinette’s need for space, quietly saying she was going to sleep and they’d talk about things in the morning. Tikki had floated into her little bed on the nightstand but Marinette knew she was lying wide awake, listening and waiting.

               R u okay? Did I hurt u badly? Did u make it home safe?

All popped up on her screen, only to be erased by her cursor and doubts.

Instead she sent,

               Ok, Im on ur secretagent phone. How do I change my username?

The reply took exactly six minutes. It bothered her that she knew that.

               Chaton: But we’re matching!

She snorted. Obviously, she’d given him too much credit.

               Chaton: Why don’t you like it?

               It’s whatevr. R u home?

Did that sound casual enough or too mean? God, this is why she preferred talking on the phone. Staring at those little dots, reading her words over and over again, always drove her insane.

               Chaton: Yes. I just took a shower.  (^・ω・^)

Cat emojis. What was she even surprised?  She could just imagine him leaning closer to her as he said that, that shit eating grin on his face. Hesitant, so, so hesitant, she typed,

               Me 2.

Immediately, she wanted to take it back. He was taking way, way, way too long to answer.

               Chaton: That’s good.

               Yeah.

Holy shit, she couldn’t even think of anything to say. What that an invitation? Did he want her to say something sexy to him?

               Chaton: Thank you for texting me. I know you weren’t thrilled about it.

               No big deal.

Again, the long crazy pause. She finished toweling her hair, letting out a sigh as she laid down on her bed, staring up at the skylight door. What the hell am I doing? This was why she hated texting! She had to sit there and look at every single incriminating word she said and think about every other possible response she could have typed. 

               Chaton: It is to me.

It was weird how different he seemed in text. She’d imagined garbled text language, way more emojis, and tons of reaction pictures. Instead, he texted like a grandma.

               Chaton: afkajskdfja

Or maybe not.

               Chaton: WENED2TALK!

What?

               Chaton: WERSGHD!

Marinette tried googling the strange combination of letters, wondering if it was German or something. It took way too long for him to answer.

               Chaton: Sorry, LB. Plagg tried to take the phone.

Marinette bit her lip.

               Becuz of teh suit?

Her heart was hammering and she wished she’d never agreed to texting.

               Chaton: Partially. He doesn’t quite understand why we do the things we do.

Well, it was to be expected. Not everyone was as understanding as Tikki. And it wasn’t like she understood it either. Chat was probably having doubts as well after what almost happened.

               Chaton: I’m sorry. He says he does understand but he doesn’t like the way we do it.

Were all kwamis knowledgeable about human kinks? Tikki was secretive at best, and Marinette had trouble voicing her thoughts out loud anyway. Bravely, she responded. 

               Does he have advice?

---

Adrien shared a glance with Plagg, who had finally calmed down and stopped complaining, and settled on Adrien’s forearm, tilting his head inquisitively as he examined the text again.

“What makes her think I know anything?”

“I mean, if you are going to criticize, you might as well offer alternatives,” Adrien counter-argued. He wasn’t sure what bothered him more. The fact that Plagg accused Marinette of being careless and mean or the fact that some of what he was saying might have a smidgen of truth to it.

Plagg huffed. “I already told her to stop bitching, it’s not my fault you won’t text that to her.”

“That’s not really an alternative.”

Adrien started typing anyway, knowing she needed to hear something back.

               Just spend some time researching a bit more.

               Buginette: Thats hardr then it sonds.

He remembered overhearing Marinette and Ayla talking about a research project they did together for history where Marinette said “google is basically useless” and Ayla snapped back about “a computer is only as smart as what you input”. She had put in long sentences with specific questions, yielding strange unrelated material and sighing that computers were basically beyond her. He’d almost gotten enough courage to lean over her shoulder in the computer lab and show her some of his own tricks. He’d imagined being just close enough to smell her hair, wondering if her shampoo was fruity or flowery, feeling guilty for using this as an excuse to find the answer for that. Then Chloe had stolen Nino’s seat, taking him on her own whirlwind adventure.

               I could send you some links.

Plagg was quiet. Highly unusual. His ears flickering as he waited for the next reaction on the phone. The way a person might wait for their favored sport team to place a goal.

               Buginette: Ok. Ty.

Adrien smiled. Funny how four letters could warm him.

               Anything in particular?

“Ugh, this is going to get gross, isn’t it?” Plagg gagged, floating up. “I need some camembert.”

“You sure you’re okay?” Adrien called, watching him as he started searching the cabinets. “There wasn’t anything else you wanted to say?”

“Nothing you’ll let me,” he grumbled. The phone hummed.

               Aftercare and preparation.

He had expected something erotic or graphic but he supposed the question made sense. Once they got into the mindset it was almost like the session took control of itself.

               That really depends on what kind of things you want to do.

Adrien held his breath with baited anticipation. Had she gone home and imagined more with him? What she lying there, hot and soft, waiting for him?

               Buginette: We shuld probbly talk 2mrrw. Jus wanted 2 check in.

He smiled and sighed, slowly typing out his reply.

               Yeah, sure thing. LB. Don’t stress, okay? (^・ω・^)

               Buginette: Lol. Nite.

Adrien set the phone down on his night stand and sighed with satisfaction.

“What? What happened?” Plagg asked, peeking from the cupboard with his stash.

“You can read it if you promise not to text her.”

Plagg hummed, floating up to tap on the messenger icon, scrolling through the last few lines. He gave a little shrug and went back to his cheese, apparently placated for the time being.

 “Wow, you almost had a conversation. I told you the phones were a good idea. Ladybug just didn’t want to admit it because she didn’t come up with it.”

Adrien held his wrists, examining the bruising thoughtfully. “I think it might have been my fault.”

“Oh my god, not everything is your fault,” Plagg groaned, inhaling another wedge. “I told you, you’re not allowed to be all doom and gloom anymore. It’s because you have that attitude that people take advantage of you. Ladybug shouldn’t have been so stupid. That’s on her.”

“Plagg, she didn’t have time to prepare and probably felt pressured from me asking too much of her. I keep thinking I’m helping but every time I push her out of her comfort zone,” he confessed, holding his head between his hands. “I don’t even know if she wants any of this. She’s always helping people, even if it hurts her, everyone depends on her all the time and I’m no different.”

Plagg made a thoughtful noise. “This is why you need to talk to her. Both of you sit around getting stressed that the other person doesn’t like you but have you ever considered that both of you are fine? It just makes no sense to me. If you are going to do it anyway, why feel bad about it?”

Adrien felt some invisible weight lift from his shoulders. “You think I’m just overthinking things?”

“I know you’re overthinking things.”

Chapter Text

Marinette found herself scrolling through forums on a Saturday morning, reading personal accounts of BDSM relationships. She was glad to see that other people had the same questions and struggles she did. Gladder still to see that most of them didn’t seem weird or crazy. One man had mentioned his corporate job and another complained about taking his kids to soccer practice.

She supposed the only weird thing was they were all adults.

I guess most people my age aren’t even doing it, Marinette thought glumly, scrolling through all the comments. Then her phone buzzed.

               Chaton: Morning beautiful~

She rolled her eyes. Predictably, Chat had been flooding the spy phones with texts in the last week. He almost used it like a personal diary, telling her observations about his day, sending pictures of snacks and buildings. She had to admit; he was surprisingly good at photography. Part of her was tempted to cross search the pictures to see if he had a social media.

But that would be cheating.

               Morning.

               Chaton: What are you up to today? :D

Marinette bit her lip. They’d had been carefully avoiding talking about BDSM since she said she’d do more research and she had to admit it was kind of nice. Their silly banter was reminiscent of their first months with the miraculous, back when they had been simply friends. Part of her was scared to try a scene with him again. Thinking about that almost happened, thinking about the things she could do to him terrified her. In someways she knew that he wanted to be hurt. But she was starting to think that maybe she wasn't ready for that. She found herself thinking about softer, warmer, confusing things. So, she kept it vague.

               Reading stuff online.

               Chaton: OoOoOoh do you read LadybugxChatNoir fanfics too?

Marinette snorted. Ayla had tried showing her some a long time ago and she’d flipped out, upset that strangers online were writing strange smut about her. Then she’d secretly tried reading some and slammed her laptop shut with disgust and vehement rants to Tikki about people assuming girl superheroes had to be love interests.  She spend that night staring at the ceiling, growing uneasy at the thought of her and Chat doing … that sort of thing.

Except, now it was a bit different, wasn’t it?

               Any recs?

Honestly, this was the smartest idea she had thought about ever. Chat probably read a ton. What an easy way to get information about what he liked without having to actually talk about it.

               Chaton: Wow, no protests or anything? I didn’t realize you supported our ship so much.

Marinette grinned, typing faster.

               No, actuly I wanted 2 red sum Chat Noir X Volpina.

               Chaton: OMG. NO.

               Chaton: She’s a villain! That doesn’t even make sense!

               Chaton: Fine, I’ll send you some Chloe X Ladybug, since you love her so much!

She squealed in horror, causing Tikki to look up from the sock she was knitting.

               But whyyyyy?

               Chaton: You know the moment you first rescued

               her she met your eyes and the passion you so

               desperately tried to hide burst into bloom.

               She only causes akumas to see your beautiful

               face once more. If only you could be honest

              with your feelings for her. (ŐωŐ )

               UR disgusting IM BLOCKING U.

“You’re so cute when you text him,” Tikki said smugly, pawing her tiny face. “Is this what a proud parent feels like?”

“Ugh, please don’t,” Marinette protested, holding up a hand. “He’s just being stupid again.”

               Chaton: No! Don’t! : ((((((((((((

She bit down on her lip, trying to hide her growing grin.

               Oh yeah. Y not?

               Chaton: Because you like talking with me…right?

How could she continue to tease him when he was so sincere?

               I was actually reading some BDSM stuff.

               Chaton: Oh, that forum I told you about?

If he were in person with that smug grin and prodding, she’d immediately deny it or spin it on him. But with the phone and distance, she could breathe, slowly releasing her emotions before replying,

               I’d be too nervous to post that online.

               Chaton: I know. Especially with how easy it is to trace an IP.

               Its rlly more normal than I thought.

               Chaton: Yup. 😊

               But they don’t go into enough detail.

               Chaton: And you need your dirty details :3.

There it was again. Chat starting to tease her. It was almost like before all of this had happened, the way he would teasingly flirt with her, expecting nothing to come out of it. But now something had. And now every suggestion had her hot and embarrassed. Almost stupidly so.

               Chaton: Actually, I have a fic recommendation if you are interested.

Her heart thumped in her chest. Over such a stupid little thing.

               Ok.

For some reason she imagined him leaning closer, tilting up her chin to making up for the height difference, backing her into a wall with a smile that was just for her.

               Chaton: It’s called ‘Spots and Paws’. Ladybug takes Chat in and makes him her pet.

Marinette waited for more of an explanation but nothing came. So, she typed it in her computer, finding it after a bit of searching, looking at the description with curiosity.

               After things get dangerous at the Noir household, Chat is left on the streets. Ladybug finds out and takes him home. On the condition he submit totally and completely as her pet.

Ladybug started reading the intro, surprised when her counterpart put food in a dog bowl. Chat crawled over, the descriptions of his body made her mouth dry, and then he meowed. Ladybug laughed, scratching his head, teasing him as if he really were just a cat. The intro faded and by the time Ladybug was asking herself how they got there, Marinette was dying to know more.

Then her trap door burst open, causing her to scramble around, shutting down her computer and throwing the Chat phone in her back pocket. Alya shouted, “Girl, are you up? We about to miss Adrien’s live interview, hurry up!”

 

---

 

Adrien stuffed the phone in his jacket, feeling a thrill at talking to her in the middle of a public studio. He doubted anyone noticed, but it was fun anyway, and kept his mind off his father’s angry warnings. If Gabriel Agreste had his way, there would be no interview at all, but being the top model in Paris made that impossible. Adrien wished he could be Chat Noir instead. Everyone expected him to be goofy and liked him for it. All the interviews and attention were fun, especially with Ladybug at his side.

A crew member put a microphone on his lapel and he stared down at the designer suit in dismay. It seemed incredibly odd to do an entertainment interview in formal wear, but he had no say in it. As much as his father talked about accessibility and nostalgia in their new wear campaign, the company image would always be top of the line and noveau riche.

Nadja Chamack was exuberant as usual, shaking his hand as his at down on his couch.

“Thank you so much to agreeing to this interview.”

Adrien didn’t agree to shit. Still, he smiled and said, “Yes, it coincides well with our announcement for our new summer line-up.”

“And if I heard correctly, you already finished shooting for winter as well. Gabriel Agreste is such an icon of a businessman, you must be honored he is your father.”

Adrien glanced at the camera, wondering if they’d started rolling. This question wasn’t part of the pre-arranged script. “I deeply admire him.”

“Well, who wouldn’t?” Nadja praised, then turned to the camera. Her façade immediately became livelier. “Alright, reporting to you live this is Nadja Chamack, here with a special guest.”

“Good morning,” Adrien smiled at the camera. Some of the female crew members swooned.

The line of questioning went as predicted. A bit of conversation about fashion trends and his thoughts on them, then some conversation about their fashion line in America. He supposed he had to be the one to answer everything, since his father refused to make public appearances. Natalie had been lecturing him for days about things like assets and stocks, prepping him for these exact questions.

“The akuma attack must have been quite the shock,” Nadja switched, looking sympathetic. Adrien caught himself just in time before he winked and threw out a pun. Instead, he carefully said,

“Thankfully Ladybug was there to save the day.”

“Ah, yes our resident superhero. Are you a fan of superheroes?”

Adrien chuckled. “Who isn’t?”

“Who indeed?” Nadja chuckled along, the sound horrendously fake. “Except Jeanne D’Arc posted on her twitter some disparaging remarks about Ladybug.”

“I cannot speak for my co-worker but I imagine turning into an akuma is very shocking,” Adrien replied, knowing his father wanted him to keep a neutral stance.  A lot of Parisian upper-class were not in support of Ladybug: the idea of vigilantism and a teenage superhero appalled them. Probably because they couldn't bribe their way out of her polka-dot branded justice. 

Nadja didn’t relent. “But most akumas are thankful for Ladybug’s intervention.”

“Jeanne has already publicly apologized on her social media,” Adrien answered, growing firmer. “There's no need to demand anything more from her. A lot of people are treated poorly just because they were forced against their will to be an akuma. You yourself faced some dissention after you’d been akumatized.”

“Yes, well, I—”

“We already know those who have been akumatized are more vulnerable to Hawkmoth striking again. And even if they weren’t, it’s not right to attack someone who has been that vulnerable. Any one of us can be akumatized. Instead of terrorizing each other we should be understanding. We all make mistakes and I’m sure Ladybug understands that best of all.”

People in the background started clapping and Adrien felt his stomach curl. Fuck, I shouldn’t have said all that. But he was so sick and tired of hearing his classmates and co-workers and people on the street insulting people for losing control of their emotions or making insensitive jokes like “don’t get all akuma on me now”. At least the reaction seemed positive, even Nadja had recovered and was praising him.

Doubtless, his father wouldn’t be thrilled.

“Wow, it’s no wonder you’re rated #1 Paris Teenage Hearthrob,” Nadja finally stated, getting off the akuma subject. “A hardworking model, quadrilingual speaker, musician and a great public speaker.”

All the flattery made him uncomfortable. “Yes, well, I’ve had a unique upbringing.”

“And modest too! I’m sure all the girls at school get nervous just being around you. Everyone was probably excited when they heard you were enrolling.”

Adrien quickly saw the way out and took it. “I’m no different from any other student. My classmates are really down-to-earth and friendly. We’re all supportive of each other.”

The conversation continues with callouts to all of his awesome classmates, from Kim and his rapid swimming, to Max and his computer skills, and even Sabrina with her amazing organization skills. He was even able to slip in, “And Marinette, who sits behind me, is a super talented fashion designer. Maybe if I’m lucky I can wear her clothes on the runway someday.”

“It sounds like all your classmates are exceptional,” Nadja answered, flipping to her last cue card. “Before we get off the air, we had a fan poll for the top questions fans want to know about you. With almost 60,000 votes that number one question is: What kind of girl are you attracted to?”

Adrien smiled, resisting the urge to roll his eyes. “Oh, that’s super easy. She’s super kind and smart and probably a bit awkward too. We laugh about stupid things like cat pictures on the internet. She’s someone I can just be myself around. Someone whose my best friend first.“

 

---

 

Marinette leaned closer to the screen, getting lost in the gentle light of his eyes. “But most importantly. I know she’ll always be there when I need her. She’s like my personal superhero.”

“And that’s Adrien Agreste, viewers. After this commercial break, we’ll count down this summer’s top 10 movies currently in theaters. Nadja Chamack out.”

Alya clicked off the TV, smiling nervously as she said, “you good girl?”

“D-d-did you hear that?” Marinette asked, tears bubbling, as Alya patted her shoulder. “He’s so sweet and amazing and kind. He even said nice stuff about me! He likes my designs!”

“Girl, it was all true,” Alya encouraged, pulling her in for a side hug. “I told you he doesn’t think you’re a mess. Even if you get all, you know, stutter-y around him.”

Marinette squeezed her pillow tightly, her face burning. The way he looked at her! It was almost like he was speaking directly to her, as if he already loved her! She knew the things he said weren’t really directed at her but for the briefest moment she could pretend. Right?

“He definitely has my approval,” her mom laughed from the kitchen. “When are you bringing him home băobèi?”

“You know he was basically talking about you, right? Kind, check, smart, check, awkward, CHECK!” Alya punctuated this with some keystrokes on her phone, already scrolling. Marinette’s mom put a platter of cookies on the coffee table, excusing herself to go down the bakery. Meanwhile, Marinette didn’t even notice, she was too busy replaying the whole interview in her head.

She had no idea that Adrien felt so strongly about akuma victims. In the few public interviews he did, he always steered clear of any serious issues. It was one of the things she could admit wasn’t his best quality—after all, if you were silent then you were part of the problem—but it had been something she’d been willing to overlook for him. Hearing him speak out for people, and even compliment her work as Ladybug, had tipped the scale even more in his favor.

Then her phone buzzed. Except it wasn’t the one on the table, but the one in her back pocket.

Chat… It was like a glass of cold water thrown in her face.

If she were a good person, she’d let go of this obsession with Adrien. He’d never notice her anyway. And Chat was funny, sweet, extremely compatible with her, and accepted even the worst parts of herself. He didn’t deserve to be with someone who was constantly looking the other way. Tikki had told her she needed to make some sort of decision and god damn it, she knew the kwami was right.

“Oh…” Alya muttered, hands freezing on her phone.

“What’s wrong?” Marinette asked, pulling herself out of her head.

Alya wordlessly passed over her smart phone. The screen was littered with responses to the interview, girls claiming to be the one he was talking about, hundreds of candid shots of Adrien talking with his fellow models, fans breaking down and analyzing each and every word.

               “Did you see the way he talked about her?

               I wish I was that girl! OMG!”

 

               “That’s not even a fantasy, that’s a real relationship.

               No boy is that pure guys, he’s hiding a girl.”

 

               “He used present tense, omfg!

               He was talking about a real person!”

 

               “I think we can all agree that Adrien Agreste

               Is totally in love with his mystery girlfriend.”

Alya wordlessly took her phone back, letting Marinette process the fact that the boy she’d been pining for all this time was in love with someone else. That maybe she was too.

Chapter Text

The uproar from after the interview was insane. Fans lined up outside the TV studio, trying to break past his bodyguard, declaring their “mutual” love for him. His father was rapidly chatting with Natalie on the phone, trying to plan some sort of public announcement to deal with the drama.

“I don’t think denying it to the press will help. That will only make it seem like we are hiding something,” Natalie was responding, unfazed by the rage on the other line. Adrien, meanwhile, felt like he had been turned to stone. His heart was rapidly beating and yet he felt breathless. Who knew what sort of hell his father was going to unleash?

Pulling him out of a school was a definite. They’d been fighting on it back and forth anyway, this was just the push his father needed to say, “oh hell with it”. He’d go back to private lessons, never going outside and never seeing Nino or any of the dudes again.

He’d never get to eavesdrop on Marinette again.

A pang hit his eyes and he blinked, drawing a breath through his nose. His father wouldn’t be pleased. Crying was a sign of weakness. A little paw reached out of his messenger bag, patting his thumb. Adrien stared down at Plagg, a smile starting to return.

Well, I suppose I can always run away. They’d joked about taking to the streets before. Plagg said Paris basically owed them their weight in cheese, they could totally take payment for their superhero work. Maybe set up a public office even. But Ladybug wouldn’t like that. She said they shouldn’t ever make people pay for the right to be safe.

They stopped in front of the mansion and Adrien walking through the large doors of his prison, settling for the fact that even if he was forced to stay in his room that he at least had Chat Noir. At least he could still go outside and feel like he was doing something worth doing, spending fleeting moments with the girl that he loved. His father was standing on top of the stairs, arms folded behind his back, expression cold.

“I told you time and time again that you were to take a neutral stance on akumatization,” he started, descending the stairs. “We are not a political organization and making that sort of announcement devalues the art of what we do. You need to stop living in this fantasy that adults are not aware of or dealing with the issues of the world. I didn’t raise you to be a revolutionary.”

“Yes, father,” Adrien muttered, staring at the marble floors.

His father's voice was scathing. “You’ve put me in a tight position. If I do nothing then it looks like we are just talk. Natalie, start brainstorming an initiative to increase employee satisfaction. We will not offer counseling nor assessments; don’t let it be said our employees are fragile or incompetent.”

Because of course that’s the conclusion you jump to, Adrien thought sarcastically.

“Of course, sir,” Natalie answered, tapping away. Doubtless it would turn into something like an extra company holiday or employee luncheon. Just enough to get the heat off their backs but not enough to actually mean anything. It was a wonder that no one had begun to notice the pattern.

“Who is she?” His father demanded, pulling him out of his thoughts.

“Who?” He replied airily. 

“Don’t play coy with me Adrien. Which one of your classmates is it?”

There was nothing to lose at this point anyway. “Which one of my classmates, what?”

“All the sneaking around, the lying. You wouldn’t hide her from me if she was someone acceptable,” he argued, towering over Adrien, the sharp planes of his face utterly terrifying. “What are you trying to hide from me? Have you slept with her?”

Adrien’s face flamed. “Wh-what, no! There is no her; I don’t have a girlfriend!”

“It’s true; I’ve checked all his social media as you requested and he hasn’t been talking with of his female classmates outside of school assignments,” Natalie said, surprising him with her defense. Then he bristled. He knew they were going through his texts. There had been conversations, minor inklings about information he was sure he didn’t mention, plans that suddenly cropped up when he was invited out. It was why he kept his texts so formal. Why he’d finally caved to Plagg's request and gotten a secret phone.

“What about the cash withdrawals from his account?” Gabriel asked, as if he weren’t there.

“Still trying to track which banks, sir. But the times are strange. It may be someone accessing his accounts with permission,” Natalie answered, flatly scrolling through her ipad. “Extremely large sums in the middle of the night. Adrien was in his room during those times.”

Which the probably assumed because of the GPS on his phone. God, if he didn’t find some way to calm things down, they’d start checking on his night hours like hospital nurses.

“You are on a thin line,” his father said, steeling his attention back. “Whatever you are hiding, I will eventually find out. The longer this draws out the worse it will become. Unfortunately, I have a client meeting in the next hour. Finish your school work and we’ll talk more over dinner.”

“Schoolwork?” Adrien echoed, a bit of hope leaking out into his tone.

His father frowned. “It would be unwise to pull you out after the show you put on. We’ll wait until the publicity dies down. Until then, your studies will be your top priority. You can forget about wasting time with these so-called friends of yours. Don’t forget, most of them are just crawling around you to beg for money. Especially this girl of yours. Make the smart decision and don’t let them use you.”

“Yes father,” Adrien sighed, trudging up the stairs.

One painstakingly long afternoon and awkward dinner later and Adrien pulled out some excuse about buying snacks after school and the whole money issue was dropped. Mysteriously, enough his father had nothing more to say about the girlfriend and Adrien chose to not bring it up either.

His classmates, on the other hand, were not so discrete.

“Look, he doesn’t have a girlfriend dudes, chill,” Nino interjected, as the whole class gathered around their desk. For all his teasing behavior, he really pulled through when Adrien told him how much all the attention bothered him. He was a better bodyguard than Gorilla sometimes. “You know how those TV editing things go, real creepy man.”

“Ah, you’re just saying that,” Kim laughed, giving Adrien a playful shove. “Who is she? Is she a super model? I bet she’s a supermodel. Up top bro! Is she smoking hot?”

“Of course I am; everyone knows he was talking about moi,” Chloe snapped, flipping her hair. “Why don’t you peasants stay out of our business? You wouldn’t understand our love.”

“Hard to understand something that’s not real,” Alya quipped, sending Chloe fuming. Before she could call her father and shut down the school, Ms. Mendeliev stammered from her podium.

“Class, I know it is pleasant to see Adrien again, but please welcome him outside of class time.”

The whole class had him on edge as everyone repeatedly joked with him. He hid out in the abandoned classroom during lunch and was pretty successful at avoiding conversations about it the rest of the day. Then, as he was leaving to his fencing class and waiting for Gorilla to come pick him up, he felt someone tug his sleeve.

Marinette, the last person he’d expected, shuffled back, twiddling her fingers.

“Oh, hi,” he breathed, taken aback. What does she think of all this?

Her smile was painfully bright as she said, “C-congratulations on the girlfriend, it’s about time, right? N-not that there was a ru-rush, I mean any girl would be lucky to date you, ahahaha, since you’re like famous and all not that I would know, I’m not— NOT bothered by that, hnnn, I bet she’s really great!”

Adrien’s heart clenched as he tried to interject. “Marinette, wait—"

But she kept babbling, throwing her hands up in some mock enthusiasm, unable to pretend how disgusted he made her. “You are super awesome and sweet and so she’s probably happy. I mean, she IS happy, obviously you would know, she’s your girlfriend. Congrats, by the way, on getting a girlfriend!”

“Mari…”

Marinette flinched as if he slapped her, her mouth clamping shut. Before he could ask what the intense expression in her eyes meant, she ran away, leaving him alone in the hall. Adrien pushed back his hair, a tension headache building in his forehead as he muttered what he should have just said months ago,

“You’re the one I’m in love with.”

 

---

 

Marinette managed to make it to her room after a full day of bakery work and quickly scarfing down dinner, ignoring her parents’ sympathetic looks, before throwing herself on her mattress. Tikki brushed her hair, voice light as she said,

“You did the right thing. I’m sure he’s happy you’re supporting him as a friend.”

“I know,” she groaned, turning around on her back. “It just sucks! I’ve been in love with him for so long, I don’t know if I’ll ever stop. I didn’t know heartbreaks actually hurt this bad, Tikki.”

Tikki looked at the computer thoughtfully. “I’m not actually sure if he has a girlfriend though.”

“Oh, not you too,” Marinette pleaded. Alya had been consoling her all day, saying that Nino was right and Adrien was single and that this would be a perfect time to confess. Which, of course, made her so anxious she wanted to vomit. She was tired of this rollercoaster. Thinking he might love her back, realizing there was no way. The worst part was all this back and forth was entirely in her head. The way he lit up when he looked at her, the way his voice seemed to cradle her name as if it was something precious, the way he always held on to her shoulder like he was looking for an excuse just to touch her. All of it, the same deluded fantasies every girl in Paris seemed to share.

She clutched her cat pillow. “It might be better this way, Tikki.”

“Why do you say that?”

“It’s not like I can actually confess to him anyway. At least now I have a definite no.”

Tikki hummed, crossing her arms and looking away from Marinette. She was always supportive and yet it always felt like there was some thought on the tip of her tongue. Some variable her ancient eyes could see that Marinette could not. But the kwami offered nothing more than,

“Will you tell Chat?”

She could just imagine his ears dropping, lightly swallowing as he looked away, quietly asking,

“So, you still love him? After everything we…”

It was so wrong. If she accepted Chat now then she wasn't treating him any better than an undesired alternative. He definitely didn’t deserve that, not on top of everything she’d been putting him through. He was so trusting and kind and she couldn't understand what he liked about her so much. She was loud, anxious, and way too caught up in her own problems. The worst part was that he seemed okay with being walked all over. No matter how crazy or awful she was he took everything in, accepting parts of her that she herself still held at range.

“He already knows,” Marinette muttered. He knew who her crush was, he’d probably seen the news. It was unfair to go to him about it and expect some sort of comfort. She only hoped that he wouldn’t bring it up himself. It was a conversation she'd be desperately avoiding, the same way she'd been changing the subject when he asked when their next session was. 

               Chaton: Hey, bugaboo!

Speak of the devil. Then again, 8:00pm was about the time he usually started texting. She’d expected him to blow up the phone more, but he must really have a lot of things to do.

               Hi.

Marinette bit her lip, already feeling her tears drying up, the ache in her heart relaxing. There hadn’t been an akuma in a while and the two of them had been little more than pen pals. And yet..

               I finished teh fic.

               Chaton: :O that was fast.

               Shut up. I like 2 read.

               Chaton: Oh, sure you do.   / = = \

               Chaton: What did you think?

Honestly, it had been a bit poorly written, over the top with smut, and yet something about the idea of seeing Chat sitting at her feet, rumbling with purrs and adoration, kept her focused until the end.

               Is it rlly like that?

               Chaton: What do you mean?

               Being treated like an animal. Is it actuly nice?

He didn’t answer immediately. Giving her enough time to worry over it.

               Chaton: I wouldn’t mind. If you liked it.

               Do u?

               Chaton: You’ll have to find out ( = ω´=)

God, she could imagine that coy smirk on his face. She wouldn’t back down.

               U want 2 eat outta a bowl?

               Chaton: If you ask nicely.

               And play with … toys?

               Chaton: Σ(;Φ ω Φ)  Are you inviting me over?

Marinette stared at the box peeking out from under her bed. Her mother and father were downstairs but could they really hear much through the insulation? She blasted music all the time and they didn’t complain about it. Still, to have Chat show up at her house …

               You wish. I have work 2 do.

               Chaton: Tease. :P

After last time, she wanted to make sure everything was safe first. A pet scenario could take hours and depending on the bondage that could cause a lot of strain. They’d never done anything that took that long before. And to put all that effort in and have him not even like it?

               I’m not sure about it.

               Chaton: About what?

               The …

She hesitated to even type it.

               The bathroom parts.

               Chaton: Meaning…?

               Dont make me say it.

               Chaton: :< If you are having bathroom

              problems you should see a doctor, bugaboo.

Sometimes she couldn’t tell if he was obtuse or cute. Probably both.

               Cats don’t use toilets.

Marinette cuddled her pillow tighter, growing nervous as she waited. She didn’t want to immediately shut that down and make him feel bad if he were into it. But at the same time, she had trouble imagining them getting to such a comfortable level with each other. It felt…weird.

               Chaton: Some cats can be trained to actually.

               Chaton: But maybe we just have

               bathroom breaks? I can use my safe word.

               Won’t that ruin teh mood?

               Chaton: We don’t need to be hardcore, bugaboo.

               Just take things at your own pace.

It was miraculous how easily he could melt her worries away.

               Ty. 😊

               Chaton: =^._.^= ∫ What did I do?

She didn’t want to be too mushy gushy or give him any expectations and yet she could write a whole novel about the amazing things this boy had done. Instead, she typed,

               Exist.

Such a flirtatious and sarcastic reply should have pulled out one of his puns or a stupid string of cat emojis or some self-inflated speech about how awesome he was and how everyone should notice. But as the minutes turned into an hour and he still didn’t answer, she frowned, scrolling through their messages for the tenth time in as many minutes.

               r u ok?

               Chaton: Oh, yes, I’m fine. Just got preoccupied.

Her eyes narrowed in suspicion but she decided not to press the issue. If he wanted to pretend that nothing was wrong then she’d pretend. Sometimes it seemed like the only thing she was good at.

 

---

 

Adrien shrugged into the suit jacket, feeling suspicious as Nathalie stood in the doorway.

“But who am I meeting with?” Adrien insisted, quickly buttoning upward. Without any sort of announcement, she’d burst into his room on a Saturday morning right as he was finishing up piano practice, and handed him a tailored suit. It wasn’t like his father to make last minute plans. Any more than it was like him to interrupt Adrien’s rigorous schedule.

“I am not at liberty to say,” Nathalie answered, scrolling through her Ipad. “But your father insists that you make a good impression and do whatever is needed to sustain the agreement.”

Maybe it was a new investor. Strange, usually Nathalie handles that sort of business. “Shouldn’t you run me through whatever the terms of the agreement are before I do anything? I’m sure father wouldn’t approve if last minute adjustments were made to the deal.”

“He’s trusting you to make the right decisions,” Nathalie answered, gesturing for him to follow her down the stairs. “You have a good head on your shoulders, you’ll figure it out.”

Considering the way he flipped his lid over the whole interview scandal, giving Adrien executive powers seemed almost counterintuitive. Then again, this might have been his own way of trying to restore the two of them back to the status quo. Adrien was his prodigy, his perfect creation, and one couldn’t help but feel pride after such a long investment. It had been a long time since Adrien had been able to look at their relationship any other way. They’d always been distant, but with his mother gone, it became painfully clear that Gabriel Agreste was not a man of sentiment.

But he did care. He wouldn’t get upset if he didn’t. 

They got in the car and Gorilla started driving. Adrien gripped his knees, trying to get his mind off the matter. He’d awkwardly texted Marinette a “ttyl” when Natalie came bursting at his door. She’d just been telling him about some fics she read where Ladybug was a forty-year man who transformed into a magic girl, her broken texts and exaggerated explanations making him almost snort water out his nose. Texting with her was amazing; she was so funny and cute and opinionated. They hadn’t been able to even see each other, let alone have another session, and yet he found himself feeling strangely satisfied.

“Something amusing?” Nathalie asked, flicking her gaze up at the mirror.

“Nothing, sorry,” he uttered, trying to school his expression. They zipped through Paris, stopping right outside Le Grande, some nameless restaurant. Adrien frowned. He hated eating in front of others, especially strangers. He’d get comments about his weight, food choices, how tough it must be as a model… Then he’d have to worry about his face looked trying to stuff food, how much on his plate was acceptable, and where to even look when someone was chowing in front of you.

Natalie talked to the host and fans were already sneaking phone pictures of him from their dining tables. Adrien softened his expression, giving out that neutral smile he’d now become associated with. A waitress came to guide them but Natalie didn’t follow.

“I will be eating at a separate table. I wouldn’t want to intrude.”

Now it was even weirder. At least Natalie could be trusted to communicate back and forth with his dad, or pull the leash if he spoke out of place. There was no way his father would allow Adrien such free reign over something so important.

“Are you coming?” The waitress asked nervously, playing with the menu on her lips.

“Don’t be nervous,” Natalie added, giving him a strange smile as she patted his shoulder.

Oh no. Natalie never smiled.

“Thanks,” Adrien smiled back, turning to follow the waitress. His heart was thumping in his chest, his fists clenched as she looked around the crowded families. Why pick such a public place? His father would never dine at somewhere so “pedestrian”. He could already see people tapping on their phones to get secret pictures of him.

Then he saw her. Sitting in a booth for two.

“Adrien!” Lila waved enthusiastically, grinning. “I’m so glad you made it!”

“Your table,” the waitress said, gesturing for him to sit. Lila blocked the way, pulling him into a tight hug.

What the hell is going on? It wasn’t like they were particularly close. She’d been really flirtatious when they’d first met but backed off after Ladybug had flipped her shit. Adrien still didn’t know why Ladybug hated her so much—it wasn’t like she’d been akumatized at that point—but with the way she treated Marinette there was little left to wonder. If he had had known her identity then, maybe he would have done more to help her, broken out of that pleasant empty shell that his father had worked so hard to build, actually said something to Lila. Maybe that was why Marinette hated him.

He blinked, patting her shoulder. “Uh, hi Lila. What’s up?”

“Silly,” she pulled back, playfully flicking his nose, the movement way too similar to Ladybug to feel comfortable. “You invited me, remember?”

Adrien slid into his seat, not breaking her gaze, trying to figure out what her angle was. “Right, of course. How are you today? I haven’t seen you in a long time.”

Since when did his dad talk with Lila of all people? Some of his classmates texted her but no one had seen her for months; he certainly hadn’t. Wasn’t she on some trip to Dubai?

“What would you like to drink?” The waitress asked.

“Two waters,” Lila snapped out, reaching over to touch Adrien’s hand. “I love how health conscious you are. I’m trying to be better about it myself.”

The waitress’s smile stretched further. “You two are so cute together.”

No way.

Lila giggled, having the grace to look embarrassed. “Aww, did you hear that babe?”

No FUCKING way.