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take my hand (we'll make it I swear)

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She and Chat walked in silence for a while, just holding hands. Marinette liked the way that the occasional passerby smiled at them. When the sun had gone down, and they didn't have to worry about the sunlight touching Chat, sometimes they could be a normal couple for a few stolen, cherished moments. Not a vampire and a slayer, but just a boy and a girl. Tonight, she wanted that more than anything.

"Why are we heading back to my place?" Chat asked at last.

"No reason," Marinette said innocently. Chat's place was actually an old warehouse that was on the brink of being condemned. But it had a roof and a bed, and, because things like food and water weren't that important to him, it was perfect for Chat. Sometimes she daydreamed about the two of them sharing an apartment. With black-out curtains, it could work. She could easily flip her hours around to sleep during the day and design at night, when Chat would be awake to keep her company.

Chat looked at her oddly, narrowing his eyes. "You're up to something, Bugaboo."

"Stop being nosey, Chaton."

"I am but a kitty, slave to my nature."

"You're not a slave to anything," Marinette said, freeing her hand to tap his nose playfully. Then she ran ahead. Chat immediately ran after her. He was fast, with his long legs, but Marinette was small and nimble. She giggled frantically as she ran, and heard his laughter behind her.

He caught up to her just as she got to the warehouse, and their laughter was smothered as their lips came together. Chat fumbled the door open and they stumbled inside, exchanging feverish kisses. It was dark until he flicked on a battery-operated lamp. In the dim light, she could just make out his eyes and smile. He was so sexy that it made her knees weak, but she'd never shied away from the intensity of what was between them and she didn't intend to start now. She closed the distance between them, rubbing their noses together.

"Marinette," she whispered.

Chat froze. "What?"

"My name. It's Marinette Dupain-Cheng. My parents are Tom and Sabine Dupain-Cheng. They own a bakery." She toyed with the strands of hair at the base of his neck and felt him shiver. His eyes were wide. "They make the best macarons in Paris, though of course I could be biased."

"Why are you telling me this?" Chat asked.

"Because I trust you," Marinette said simply. He could've figured it out easily, she knew. Chloé, who had met Chat not long after Marinette had after Chat saved her life one night, had never been shy when it came to sharing details with Chat. All Chat would've had to do was look up the list of students who attended the local lycée along with Chloé and matched Ladybug's picture to her name. But he hadn't.

For a moment he just stared at her. Better than anyone, he knew how strongly she valued her privacy. Marinette had made it clear from day one that she would do whatever she could to protect her parents from her slayer activities, and that included making sure that no demon, witch or monster ever learned her real name.

"Marinette," Chat said slowly, rolling each syllable, and it was her turn to shiver.

"Chat," she said, suddenly desperate, and leaned in to kiss him again.

"Adrien," he said between kisses. "My name... it's Adrien."

"Adrien," Marinette repeated. It suited him. Chat the vampire, Adrien the boy. Both of them hers. She stepped back and, in one smooth, practiced movement, pulled off both her jacket and top and dropped both pieces of clothing on the floor. The part of her that wasn't preoccupied with Chat's gold-fish expression noticed, in her peripheral vision, Tikki and Plagg making themselves scarce.

"Lady - Marinette?" Chat said.

"I want you," Marinette said. Standing there in her pink, lacy bra, she was a little self-conscious. But that didn't stop her.

Chat - no, Adrien. Adrien visibly swallowed. "Are you sure?"

"I've never been more sure of anything in my life," she said. To hell with Master Fu. He got to dictate pretty much everything else in her life. He didn't have the right to control who she loved. She met his gaze. "If you want me."

"I want you," Adrien said immediately, reaching out to touch her. His fingers hovered over her skin for a moment before making contact. "But I..."

"I love you," she whispered, cutting him off.

Adrien exhaled shakily. "I love you too." He slowly slid his finger beneath her bra strap before, glancing at her face, he slid it down.

At some point, they made it to the bed and tumbled onto the mattress. Fully naked, Marinette climbed atop her partner and gazed down at him. She knew that they didn't need protection - Adrien was dead; he couldn't make her pregnant or give her an S.T.I. - and she was more than wet enough to take him. It ached a little, the same sort of burn that came when she hadn't exercised a muscle for a long time, but that faded when Adrien's fingers reached between her legs. Marinette gasped, digging her nails into his chest, and he smirked up at her as his talented fingers moved in tiny circles. He knew exactly how to drive her crazy.

Once they'd both come, and she was lying beside him, she swatted at his chest. "You're evil," she gasped out.

He laughed and licked his fingers. "Guilty as charged, My Lady."

Marinette opened her mouth, then paused. "Your ring changed," she said, startled, and grabbed his hand so that she could get a better look. Sure enough, the silver ring that he wore on the ring finger of his right hand was now black. There was a green pawprint with five pads on the surface. Marinette touched it, but the paw print was smooth beneath her fingers.

"Ah, yeah," Adrien said quietly. "That's Plagg. The ring connects us."

"Connects you?" Marinette repeated, baffled. "Why?"

He sighed. "Marinette... have you ever wondered why I'm not like usual vampires?"

"Of course."

"Why didn't you ask?"

She shrugged. "It's your business."

He kissed her. "Thank you, but I think you should know. My mother and father died in a vampire attack."

Marinette sucked in a sharp breath. "Oh, Adrien..."

"It was a very long time ago. That's how I became a vampire too. And at first, I was like any vampire. I wanted blood and I didn't care who I killed to get it." Adrien's face twisted with grief. "Women, men, even children. I just didn't care. Then one day, I killed the daughter of a gypsy. She swore vengeance and eventually tracked me down. I laughed when she confronted me. I thought her pain was funny. She vowed to make me feel what she felt. She and her coven cursed me... they cursed me with my soul."

"Your soul?" she echoed, furrowing her eyebrows.

"Yes. My soul... my humanity." Adrien took her hand and set it over his still chest. "I was horrified when I realized what I'd done. I was ready to kill myself when Plagg found me. He kept me going in more ways than one. I wouldn't be here if it weren't for him."

"Oh my god," Marinette said softly. She couldn't even fathom what he must have gone through.

Adrien nodded. "It was a bad time," he admitted. "And that's not the worst part."

"What's the worst part?" she asked, studying his face. He looked so distraught, a stark change from how happy he'd been minutes before. She almost regretted asking about his ring, yet she sensed that this was something he'd been wanting to tell her for a while now. And whatever he wanted to share, she was willing to listen.

"The curse said that if I ever experienced a moment of true happiness, I would lose my soul and become that monster again."

Marinette contemplated that for a moment. Her eyes widened and she half-sat up. "You mean..."

"You make me happier than I ever thought I could be. I know that sounds like a cliché, but it's the truth. I'm a vampire. A monster. I never thought anyone would love me," Adrien said, biting his lip. He hesitated, looking at her face, before he went on. "But you... you look at me and it's like I'm not just a monster, like I'm something more. You gave yourself to me, knowing what I am, and I - I love you, Marinette, I love you so much..." His eyes were welling up. "I know now what she meant by true happiness."

"Oh, mon minou." Marinette reached for him, pulling his head down against her bare breast. He shuddered and nuzzled into her, leaving smears of dampness across her skin.

"By binding us together, Plagg insures that my soul can't leave. He's tethered it to Earth... to me... to this ring," Adrien explained, the words coming in stuttered bursts. "Without it, I would be a monster again. Plagg keeps me human."

"No," Marinette said, pressing a kiss to his forehead. "You're human enough on your own, Adrien. Plagg doesn't make you jump into the middle of fights. Plagg didn't make you save Chloé's life. Plagg didn't make you bring me flowers for our three month anniversary. Plagg doesn't make sure you know every place on my body that makes me wet. That's all you. You're my precious little kitty, and I love you." She kissed his wet eyelids, then his nose, and finally his mouth.

He kissed her back with growing desperation, gently pushing her back against the sheets. Marinette opened her heart, her arms and her body. This time they made love slowly, and Adrien didn't let her come until she was begging. And even then, he brought her over the edge with such care that Marinette was left completely wrung out. She collapsed back against the sheets, her chest heaving as she panted for breath, and Adrien stared into her eyes as he finished. Only then did he lean down to kiss her.

In spite of her best efforts, Marinette fell asleep not long after that. She woke what felt like mere minutes later to the sensation of Adrien dropping kisses onto the back of her neck. She smiled sleepily. "Mmm, that feels nice."

"You have to get up for school," he said, not without regret.

Marinette sighed into the pillow, wanting nothing more than to fall back asleep. That was one of the worst parts about being the slayer: living two separate lives, one by night and one by day, didn't always leave a lot of time for sleep. And she hated to waste what time she had with Adrien, before the sun came up, asleep. It was yet another reason why she dreamed of the day when she didn't have as many daytime committments, and she could become a night owl to better match the hours he could be out and about.

But for now, school. She turned her head and found his mouth; they kissed lazily for several minutes before Adrien pulled away, smiling. He crawled out of bed and left Marinette pouting after him. Reluctantly, she threw back the covers and followed.

"Do I have time to go home?" she asked, stretching unashamedly.

Adrien shook his head. "I got you breakfast, and you can wear your tights with one of my shirts."

"Fashionable," Marinette said, running her fingers through her hair. She could've used a shower, but, when she checked her phone, she saw that Adrien was right. He'd let her sleep until the last possible moment.

"Does coffee help?" he asked, holding up a cup, and Marinette beamed.

"I love you," she said sincerely, and he laughed. But it was true: what other nineteen-year-old boy would run out before dawn to get their partner breakfast?

But then, Adrien wasn't really nineteen, was he? Marinette's smile faded as she remembered what he'd told her last night. He'd spoken of his parents' death so casually. She supposed that it had happened so long ago that he'd come to terms with it by now. And the thought of him having been a murderous vampire, just like the other vampires she staked every night.. she looked up at him. He was standing in the doorway, holding a piece of cheese in his hand. Plagg was turning his nose up because it wasn't Camembert, and Adrien was telling him that was as good it was going to get today.

She smiled again and shook her head, fetching her bra and panties and tights. Adrien had laid out a green shirt for her. Marinette slid it on, fastening the buttons. It was loose on her, but not to the point where it would look odd. The hem hung down over her butt, at least. She slid her feet into her combat boots, knowing that she had flats in her locker at school. If this became a regular occurrence, she'd have to start packing some civilian clothing in her bag. Or leave some here. She thought that Adrien probably wouldn't mind if she did that.

"Where's that coffee?" Marinette said, strutting forward, and Adrien turned to look at her. She rather enjoyed the stunned, lustful look on his face when he saw her. There was nothing vampiric about him right now.

He was just Adrien. Chat. Her kitty.

"You're going to be late, Marinette," Tikki said.

"Spoilsport," Marinette said, but Tikki was right. She kissed Adrien, took the coffee and the bag he gave her, and scooted out the door before she changed her mind about pinning him to the wall.