For what it’s worth, Adrien would like it to be known that he has never once done anything wrong in his entire life.
In the annual review from his father, he’s noted as the “epitome of perfection” (though with side notes: could be better). He’s in the Top 10 of the Parisian tabloids “Sweetest Celebrities”. Even the Ladyblog’s viewership voted him “Least Likely to Be Akumatized” last month. In all honesty, Adrien Agreste lives and breathes the whole halo-and-wings uniform, and some swear that celestial hymns are heard wherever he goes.
If you asked Adrien, he’d tell you that the evidence speaks for itself: he has not, and never will, cause trouble.
…that doesn’t mean trouble doesn’t happen though.
Because it does. It actually happens a lot.
That’s sort of what happens when you wield the Black Cat miraculous, he figures. No matter how much sunshine runs through your veins, darkness always creeps into the pallor of skin and the silence between heartbeats. It’s not something he can control, even though he’s spent the last few years trying, so all Adrien’s left with is the product of bad luck and cataclysms.
Basically, it goes like this: Adrien’s been screwed from the moment he was born.
That’s why when he ends up in situations like this, trapped between his secret identity and a girl, where he’s not left with many options other than to 1) lie, 2) embarrass himself, 3) distract, 4) panic and then 5) …lie really well (not always in that specific order, mind you).
For all intents and purposes, it hadn’t started off as a bad day—things were actually looking up. His father is on a business trip to London for the rest of the week, Nino and he are going to the movies after school, and he and Marinette have planned a video game marathon this Saturday. But then Lila Rossi waltzs into the classroom with that charismatic smile and glittering eyes, all beautiful and deadly in a way that was way too dangerous, and lights the match on the latest clusterfuck of a forest fire to burn down his life in a few words.
“Of course I have a boyfriend,” she’s telling Alya over textbooks and breakfast. “Like it’s nothing official, but we’re basically dating at this point.” She slips that easy smile onto her face, dazzling anyone caught in her trap. “You can only kiss and tell so many times before something else, you know?”
Adrien doesn’t mean to listen to her (doesn’t particularly even want to), but he can only absently reread the assigned reading before it turns monotonous and his body practically forces him to be distracted. Unfortunately, Lila’s conversation registers before the thud thud thud of Marinette hustling into the room with two croissants, a coffee cup, and a feral look in her eyes that reads of unnamed horrors and the looming fear of tardiness.
If it had been three seconds earlier, Adrien would have happily turned to his friend when she entered and asked (read: interrogated) her for the story regarding her latest conundrum (because with Marinette, there always is one). But, like he mentioned earlier, Adrien Agreste is a victim of bad luck on a regular basis, and today is certainly no different.
“Who could you have possibly been kissing?” Alya asks Lila, the quizzical expression basically trademark of the young investigative journalist. From his spot behind them, he can see the curiosity glinting like a sharp knife in the light, poised to strike.
“No one special, honestly.” Lila crosses her arms against her chest, Cheshire grin stretching even wider. (Adrien wonders if that hurts her face at all).
“Come on,” Alya says. She pokes the other girl in the shoulder and laughs. “You always have a story to tell, so don’t clam up now.”
Lila shakes her head, shoulder trembling, though Adrien can’t tell if it’s due to amusement or excitement. It’s one of the biggest thing that bothers him about Lila Rossi: he can never get a read on her. Body language and expressions have always been an open book to him, having spent much of his time watching instead of doing as he grew up, that he’s normally always able to read a person’s story with ease. Lila, however, is an ever-shifting enigma to him: he’s never able to tell.
“Lila.” Alya’s voice drawls out, long and loud. Beside her, Marinette tosses back her coffee like a shot and follows it up with a huge chunk of croissant, crumps stuck to the front of her blouse. “Come on.”
“Fine, fine, fine.” This time, she giggles and clasps a quick hand over her mouth, eyes skittering across the classroom for any potential onlookers. She’s not discrete though; Adrien knows enough to pick up on this, at least. She’s subtle in a way that calls attention to herself, and, as he should have realized sooner, this was Lila’s goal all along.
Lila leans closer to Alya’s eager ear and whispers (read: at fucking regular volume), “I’m dating Chat Noir.”
Adrien has never believed in bad luck until he became Chat Noir. Sometimes he wishes that Plagg had been completely honest the day he accepted the Black Cat miraculous about what the powers of destruction entailed, but then against, even with some curse following him around, he probably wouldn’t change anything. So he’s forced to live every day as it comes: finding calm in the calamity.
Right now, though? Right now, he’s decided he’s going to tie Plagg up in a drawstring bag and throw him into the Seine when he gets home because this is a cruel and unnecessary form of torture.
Do you know that earth-shattering roar that starts as silence and gradually builds into a crescendo of sound until it’s nearly deafening? Because Adrien can’t hear past that: I’m dating Chat Noir, I’m dating Chat Noir, I’m dating Chat Noir….
Realistically, he should have known she was lying (because that’s what Lila does), but the panic sets into his brain before sense does, and all Adrien can do is open his mouth and say, “You are?”
(Why didn’t anyone tell me? is his next thought, and he nearly smacks himself in the face for it.)
“Of course, I am,” Lila says, obviously not prepared for Adrien to be the one to follow her up on the statement. Flabbergasted, Alya stares at the other girl, for once at a loss for words, and the rest of the class is quickly tuning in (because they’re all fucking vultures when it comes to Parisian heroes, god, teenagers are worse than paparazzies). “Do you think I’d make something like that up?”
If Adrien were a smarter man, he would’ve just left her alone instead of calling her bluff, but to be honest, he was voted “Sweetest Celebrity”… not Smartest. “Yeah, I do.”
The musings and side comments of the entire class quiets. Eyes linger on him and Lila with a ferocity he hasn’t seen since the rare Ladybug collectibles were released to the general public. Alya still hasn’t responded, and Lila burns with a fire he has no hope to putting out. Marinette’s still munching on her croissant and desperately cramming the assigned reading into her brain before class starts.
“You lie about a lot of things, Lila,” he points out even though his voice trembles, his hands tremble, his brain trembles. Danger, danger, Will Robinson. “I’m just not sure why we should believe you this time.” For a brief flash of insanity, Adrien has to check that he hasn’t astral projected into Marinette’s body because this seems like something she’d do, and he wonders when he picked up her temperament towards Lila Rossi.
“Because it’s true,” Lila points out simply. In a fluid motion, the seventeen-year-old pulls down the collar of her shirt, showing the dark bruise along her collar bone. “Where else would I have gotten this?”
“Probably from the diplomat’s son at my father’s hotel.” Chloe’s voice, bored and monotone, sounds from the front of the classroom; she doesn’t even look up from the magazine she’s currently flipping through. “I’ve seen you go in and out of his room all week.”
“Excuse me?” Lila’s cheeks are flushed with streaks of red. “How would you know that? Are you stalking his hotel room, Chloe—”
“If you’re trying to imply something, Rossi,” Chloe interjects, “I’m gonna stop you right there. I’m way too gay for your shit.”
There’s silence that lingers between them, everyone too afraid to say a word. Marinette’s slurp of coffee is the only thing heard.
“Besides,” Adrien tries again, even though he should probably stop while he’s ahead, “Why would Chat Noir be dating you? He doesn’t seem like the type of person to put a civilian in danger.”
“Because I’m worth it,” Lila retorts hotly. “And if you keep going on about this, Adrien, I’ll have to assume you’re just jealous of us.”
Adrien shakes his head, cheeks burning with embarrassment. “You aren’t dating Chat Noir!”
“And how would you know?!” Lila stands up in a flourish, hands tightening into white-knuckled fists at her side.
Adrien suddenly finds himself thrown for a loop, and his mind blanks as he fumbles for an explanation. No proof, no evidence, nothing to back up his claim: he’s basically screwed at this point. What else can he say though? Secret identities, he reminds himself, there’s only so much you can do. The way he sees it, he’s only left with three options for how he should proceed.
One: Adrien Agreste says he’s dating Chat Noir. (Pros: he can control any rumors and lying would be pretty simple considering they’re the same person. Cons: he’d had to endure Chloe’s wrath that he didn’t say anything when she came out, and it would include a very awkward conversation with his father.)
Two: Adrien lets Lila have her way. (Pros: he won’t have to deal with it anymore but just endure the tarnished reputation of Chat Noir. Cons: he’s a stubborn ass and there’s no way he’d ever do that. If he hasn’t caved to Hawkmoth yet, he certainly won’t cave for Lila Rossi.)
Three: Adrien has Chat Noir date someone who he actually likes. (Pros: the person would be someone he trusted, so it’s give him some control over the rumors and gossip that follows. Cons: the only person he actually likes who deals with Chat Noir on a regular basis is Ladybug, and she’d never go for that.)
His mind freezes, his mouth runs before he can process anything. Fuck secret identities, he apparently thinks, even though there’s no room for thinking right now. (He certainly isn’t if this is the option he goes with.)
“Because Chat Noir is dating Marinette.”
The sound of a coffee cup hitting the floor echoes through the room, and Marinette, who chooses that exact fucking moment to become privy to the conversation, stares at him, wide-eyed with a croissant stuffed in her mouth, and speaks three words that will haunt him for the rest of his existence. “What le fuck?”
Crumbs dribble onto her blouse again. She doesn’t notice.
Instead, she stares at him with those soul-bearing crystal eyes that send icy shivers down his spine, and his face just burns and burns and burns. “Y-Yeah,” he squeaks out. “I-It’s okay to admit it, Mari. Y-You’re dating m-m… Chat Noir.”
He gulps in terror. Marinette’s going to kill him when this is all over; he knows it.
But the only thing he can do right now is plead with her, whole heart and all, eyes wide and pressing for her to just go along, but he’s also panicking because he doesn’t know how good her telepathy skills are. Somehow though, things seem to click for Marinette. Her expression clears into smooth glass, eyes shuddering shut with some emotion he can’t quite place, and she drops her croissant onto her desk and squares her shoulders to face Lila.
“Yeah,” Marinette says lowly. “I’m dating Chat Noir.”
The class erupts. Alya cusses. Lila gasps. Chloe flips through her magazine.
He’s fucking screwed.