It’s been a month since Ladybug first brought a DVD player on one of their patrols. It had been after both of them had big tests at the same time, and she’d said she was tired—patrol could wait. She just wanted to spend time without any particular stress. Time with him. With her friend.
It wasn’t a date. He knew that. But it was nice to pretend.
Patrols has been changing ever since then, and while he knows the how , he can’t figure out the why . She’s relaxing more around him, and patrols are getting less and less professional, less and less mobile; some nights they just stay in one place, talking and laughing, and every time he sees her smile he falls a little harder.
Tonight, they’re on one of their favorite rooftops, one with a view of the bridge, and she’s brought a full picnic with all of the things he’s mentioned, in passing, are his favorites. He’s still a little surprised by how willing she is to stand still, now; not two months ago, she would’ve been insisting on them moving, covering ground, as soon as they met up, but tonight she’d already set up the blanket when he’d arrived.
“I’m telling you,” she says around a mouthful of croissant, “the new controls are amazing. They upgraded your mech, too—you gotta try it!”
He picks apart the muffin with his claws, extracting the chocolate chips and popping each one into his mouth. “Haven’t had time,” he says. “This week’s been real busy at my job.” Which is a shame. He’d gotten the new Mecha Strike pretty much as soon as it came out, but he hasn’t had more than ten minutes to himself all week; not nearly enough time to even get past the tutorial. He’s a little jealous that she’s been able to clock so much time on it.
Ladybug laughs, and it’s so bright, so full of life, that he can’t help but smile as well. “One day,” she says, “I am gonna find out where you work…” She leans forward, pointing at him with a mischievous grin. “...and I am just gonna deck your boss.” He’s talked before about how much he dislikes his job, his workplace; not enough for her to know what he does, but enough that she’s made these kinds of threats before.
He responds how he always does. “Please don’t,” he says with a chuckle. “I kind of need this job.”
“It’s a shame you don’t get more time to yourself,” Ladybug says, looking down at the Seine with the reflection of the lights shining in her eyes. “Going to school and working full time, I’m amazed you manage to be Chat Noir.”
“Well, you know,” he says. “Any time I can spare for you.” He grins in a manner that he assumes is flirty—he’s seen anime characters do it before, and it usually gets some kind of attention. He knows she’ll either shut him down or pass it off as friendship, because that’s what she always does. Never lets him get close. And he’s fine with that, really.
She places her hand on top of his, and his heart skips a beat. “I’m glad you manage,” she says. “I love spending time with you.”
It’s not quite ‘I love you,’ but he’ll take it. She’s been saying things like that a lot more, lately. He knows she doesn’t mean them the way they sound to him; wishful thinking on his part never got him anywhere. So he lets it slide without saying the thing he desperately wants to, without telling her how he’d leave his whole life behind just to spend a few precious extra minutes with her, and instead just says, “Yeah, me too.”
She laces her fingers into his, and he feels all the muscles in his arm tense, desperate not to move even a little bit, to give her an excuse to let go. He licks his lips. This isn’t a date, he reminds himself, no matter how much he wants it to feel like one.
She turns to look at him and smiles, and it’s so bright . He smiles back, a pained, needy thing, and he looks at her lips, hoping that maybe, maybe, if the universe is truly kind—well, it’s not, so he just imagines kissing her.
And then suddenly he’s not imagining. It’s quick, it’s sudden, but for just a moment her lips are on his, and he can taste croissant on her mouth, and—
All of his nerves catch fire at once and he panics. Yanks his face away with a yelp, scrabbles backward, bangs his head on the ventilation ducts.
“Oh my gosh, Chaton, are you okay?” Ladybug cries, her hands covering her mouth. She’s blushing horrifically, and it’s adorable on her, but he’s too terrified and confused to properly appreciate it. “I’m so sorry, I should’ve asked first, I thought you’d like it, I didn’t realize—”
She’s babbling. He can’t stop staring at her, ignoring the ache in the back of his head. “Bug?” he says, and she stops instantly.
“Why did you kiss me?”
She clutches her bicep, looks down. “Well, it’s our one-month, and I thought it would be nice if… you know…”
He blinks. “One month?” he says. “Of what?”
Her head snaps up, her eyes meet his, and she tilts. “Since… we started… dating?”
His diaphragm implodes. She… he… they’re… what?
“We’re dating?” he croaks. “But I thought…”
She squeezes her eyes shut and gently thunks her head into the brickwork next to her. “Kwami on a cracker,” she whispers. “How is every boy I fall in love with this much of a moron?”
In love with. She said in love with. Chat’s mouth goes dry.
“Or, no,” she mumbles. “Luka’s smarter than this. I bet he’d realize it if I tried to flirt with him…”
Every single one of her actions over the last month suddenly makes sense. The movie nights, the picnics, the way her touches have been getting steadily more intimate (that he’s been ignoring, assuming she didn’t mean it the way he thought when she super frickin’ did ), the way she fusses over him when there’s literally no reason to because nothing’s happened—
He shakes his head. “Why didn’t you say anything?” he says.
“I didn’t think I had to!” she cries in anguish. “I thought I was being obvious!”
It’s still sinking in, and his insides are feeling warmer and warmer with every second; not only does she like him, not only does she love him, not only does she want to date him, she’s been dating him for a month without him noticing.
He’s died and gone to heaven. Or maybe hell. He’s not sure. It’s definitely moving from one to the other, though.
A smile spreads across his face. “Oh my gosh,” he says. “You like me.”
“You like me.”
She rolls her eyes. “ Yes , you stupid cat .”
He springs forward, taking her hand. “You like me!” he cries, and there are tears in his eyes now. “You like me!”
She reaches up with her other hand, caresses his cheek. “Yes, I do,” she murmurs, then kisses him on the cheek.
His face heats up. “Wait,” he says. “I thought cheek kissing was a friend thing?”
She laughs. “I swear,” she says, “you’re just as bad as Adrien.”
He stops breathing. “As bad as who ?”