Chat Noir tried to straighten his back, hoping his ears weren’t drooping with sadness as he tried his best to be a supportive friend. “Well, Ladybug, if you like this guy so much, why don’t you just ask him out as your superhero self?”
Ladybug just rolled her eyes.
“I mean it,” he continued, scooting a little bit closer to her, trying to show her that he was being earnest. “Not many people would reject a superhero, especially not the coolest, prettiest, greatest superhero in Paris.”
“Thanks,” she said quietly, a small smile forming on her lips. “I appreciate that.”
His heart felt warm.
“But, you know, I want him to like me for me,” she continued. “I want him to like Marinette, not Ladybug.”
“Marinette?” Chat asked, his eyebrows flying up and his mouth falling open slightly. “Why would… Marinette… uh…”
He felt like the gears in his brain were turning as he struggled to catch up. His eyes widened as Ladybug’s face suddenly turned very red.
“No—” she started to say.
“You, you’re, you’re Marinette!” he gasped, leaning away from her just slightly as his eyes frantically scanned her face. “You’re—you’re—you’re my… Marinette—”
And her arm was flying out, connecting with his face in the most painful of ways.
With a howl, Chat Noir fell onto his back. He pawed at his face briefly before sitting back up, pressing the heel of his hand to his cheekbone. “Holy shit, Mari,” he said, a grin on his face. “You’re strong.”
[Ladybug is Marinette Ladybug is Marinette Ladybug is Marinette Ladybug is Marin—]
“You didn’t forget?” she asked, her entire body language screaming ‘frightened’.
“No,” he said, trying not to laugh. This was the best day of his life. “Maybe if you hit me a little bit harder—”
Suddenly, she was punching him again, tackling him down to the ground in the process. The air was knocked out from his lungs and he just lay on his back, looking up at her in a daze as he struggled to force air inside his lungs.
Ladybug was leaning over him, avoiding eye contact, as her face got redder by the second.
“Ouch,” he said after a moment, his tone reproachful. “I didn’t mean for you to actually hit me again.”
“I’m panicking!” she said. “I’m sorry! I don’t know what to do!”
“You could let me up,” he said gently.
Ladybug very slowly got up off of him before turning and sitting with her back to him. She put her head in her hands.
“Gotta say, My Lady,” Chat said joyfully, moving to sit beside her again, “I didn’t think you would be tackling me off a rooftop tonight, but I’m pleased with the circumstances.”
She groaned. “Spots off,” she whispered. A pink light flashed and then it was Marinette—little Marinette, who sat behind him in class, who messed up her words and tripped over nothing—Marinette, the class president who was powerful and sure of herself, the girl who never let anybody feel hurt or left out—Marinette, one of his best friends, sitting beside him on the roof.
“Marinette,” he whispered. Her name felt wonderful coming from his mouth.
“Hi, Chaton,” she said. The nickname sounded strange when she didn’t have a mask on her face.
Chat figured he would get used to that.
“I’m sorry I revealed myself to you,” she said. “And punched you in the face. Twice. And tackled you to the ground.” She peeked over at him, still mostly hiding behind her hands.
He smiled. “I’m glad you did.” Nudging Marinette with his shoulder, Chat laughed quietly. “Actually, I’m thrilled.”
“You’re going to have a bruise,” she whispered, reaching up and touching his cheek.
He shrugged. “That’s okay.” Hesitating slightly, he bit his lip before soldiering on. “Plagg, claws—”
“Don’t,” Marinette said, hands flying up to cover his mouth.
“Chaton, I don’t need you to endanger yourself by revealing your identity, too,” she said, slowly sliding her hands down to his arms.
“But I want to,” he said softly.
“I know.” She nodded. “I’m sorry.”
He sighed quietly before standing. “Fancy a lift home?”
Laughing quietly, Marinette jumped to her feet. “I would love that,” she said.
Without another word, Chat gathered her in his arms and off they went.
“Adrien, dude!” Nino greeted him the next morning at school. “What’s up, my man?”
They did their secret handshake (Adrien had always wanted a secret handshake with a friend!) and made their way into the classroom, finding their seats, chatting about something random—probably music, or a video game (he honestly wasn't paying much attention, not today, the most important day of his life)—when Marinette came bursting into class, followed closely by a laughing Alya.
Adrien’s eyes tracked Marinette as she rounded the corner and plopped into her seat behind him.
“Girl, you’re okay,” Alya was saying as she laughed some more. “Class doesn’t start for, like, seven more minutes.”
“Okay,” Marinette said quickly. “I was just worried that I was going to be late again, and you know I can’t be late again! I’ll get a formal reprimand!”
“You’re good,” Alya said soothingly before glancing over at Adrien. “Hey,” she said. “What’s up?”
Adrien jerked back, surprised. “Oh, hey, Alya,” he said, hoping he didn’t sound as guilty as he, oddly, felt.
“What happened to your face?” Alya asked, frowning slightly as she motioned towards his cheekbone.
Adrien suddenly realized that he had a decision to make. A very difficult decision, really.
Who was he kidding? It was the easiest decision in the world.
“Oh, someone punched me in the face last night,” he said nonchalantly, ignoring the sudden silence that filled the classroom at his words. “Twice.” His eyes slid to Marinette, who had frozen in her seat. “And tackled me.”
The entire class erupted into noise as everyone started questioning him all at once.
“Dude,” Nino was saying next to him. “Who the hell—”
“You probably deserved it,” Marinette blurted out.
Everyone fell dead silent once more.
“What?” Alya asked after a moment. “Girl, explain yourself.”
Adrien just smiled and winked.
Marinette turned red and covered her face with her hands.
It was the best day ever.