"Would you believe me if I said it's because I'm Ladybug and I'm secretly in love with Chat Noir?" Marinette said with a sly grin. Then she let out a giggle, that turned into a cackle, like she'd just said the funniest thing. He laughter died down a little when she realized Adrien wasn't laughing along.
He was just staring at her, brows knotted together in a very serious expression.
"I would." He said, eyes roaming her face.
She'd meant it as a joke. Yeah, it was the truth, but he wasn't supposed to take her seriously. That's why it was so funny. At least to her. But she was drunk, and drunk people say stupid things, and she was instantly regretting ever letting that come out of her mouth. You're supposed to be able to get away with saying anything when you put "lol" at the end. And she did! She laughed out loud!
Chuckling again, "Are you serious?" she asked him.
"Of course not!" she laughed again, hoping to play it off. "As clumsy as I am, I'd never be able to pull off any of the things she does. Plus, I'd be pretty stupid to tell you my secret identity." She cringed internally at her faux pas, and laughed again at the irony of her own idiocy. She blamed the alcohol.
He seemed to finally be taking the joke the way she'd meant it, since he started to relax and laugh along.
"I see. So, you're not Ladybug, but you are in love with Chat Noir?" he asked with a teasing grin of his own.
"Oh definitely. He's a super sight for sore eyes." Laughing again, they were falling back into the rhythm of the playfulness that had existed before her drunk mind told her that saying the Ladybug thing would be funny.
They'd been having a night out along with Alya and Nino, celebrating the release of Nino's latest album. It was well deserved break for each of them as well, having their own recent accomplishments, so when their VIP passes also granted them open access to the bar, they took full advantage of it. Eventually the party died down, and Marinette found herself drinking on an otherwise empty terrace, and goofing around with a drunken Adrien.
They'd remained close through the years, probably due to the fact that they became co-workers of sorts after Marinette was accepted into the Gabriel fashion house. Working so closely together was also probably why she was able to get over the ginormous crush she had on him when she was younger. That, or the fact that she'd finally noticed a certain alley cat.
Chat Noir had always had a crush on Ladybug, but she'd been too preoccupied with Adrien to pay him any attention. And one day, when she realized that her feelings for him extended past friendship, he'd already moved on. She was happy for him, though. He was kind and funny and he deserved to be happy.
So here she was, confessing her secret love for him, though she'd never told anyone else other than Tikki. Even though she said it jokingly, she meant it. It felt good to say it out loud to someone else.
"So, what about you?" she said, turning the question back to Adrien. He'd asked her something along the lines of why wasn't she seeing anyone or something like that. She couldn't quite remember the wording. "As long as I've known you, I don't think I've ever seen you with a girlfriend. And I know it's not for lack of candidates."
He shrugged. "What can I say? It seems I always fall for the unattainable ones."
Marinette snorted. "Oh, please. Like who?"
Adrien glanced away a bit sheepishly, "Honestly? It's almost embarrassing how many years I spent hoping Ladybug, of all people, would notice me." He let out a short laugh at the memory.
Marinette accidentally swallowed an ice cube.
"Aw, come on don't laugh." Adrien groaned.
"I'm choking, actually," she coughed and then giggled, "I swallowed an ice cube. I did not expect you to say that."
"Oh, so you're the only one allowed to have a superhero crush then?" he said teasingly.
"Well, duh." She teased back.
They laughed together, and then fell silent again, each in their own thoughts.
Adrien sighed, "There is someone that I…" he trailed off, and Marinette looked at him, waiting for him to finish his sentence.
"There's someone that I have in mind, but I don't know how to get her to notice me either."
"Oh, she notices you," Marinette said, waving off his concerns and taking another sip of her drink.
"No, I'm fairly certain that she doesn't."
"Adrien, she notices you. Every girl notices you. There isn't one who doesn't."
"So, you really think I have a shot?"
"I'm positive. Who is it?" Marinette guessed it had to be someone they worked with, and was going through candidates in her mind already.
"Well," he paused, and looked her in the eyes, "It's Alya."
He held her stare for a moment longer before cracking a giant grin, and leaning back into his chair with laugher.
Marinette sucked her teeth, and playfully shoved Adrien's shoulder. "Shut up!"
They laughed together again, and when the conversation continued it was about something else entirely.
They talked for a little while longer, and it was getting late. Past late.
"Come on, let me walk you home." Adrien stood up, and offered his hand to Marinette.
She looked past his hand, up at him. "I'm not so drunk that I can't walk myself home, you know." Though, in all honesty, she might've been just a bit.
Adrien chuckled and reached down to grab her hand and pull her to her feet. "I know, I know, you can take care of yourself." In a teasing voice, he added, "You are Ladybug, after all."
He chuckled, to which she huffed in response.
She hadn't expected him to say, "Let me be your Chat Noir for the night."
They were both standing less than a foot from each other, and the air suddenly carried a soft electricity between them. There was no denying that it was a result of Adrien's words.
That sentence was so pleasing to Marinette's ears, she almost wished he'd said it again. It was a tempting sentence, and the way he was gazing into her eyes didn't help either. Adrien had always been breathtakingly handsome, but she'd gotten over that. She couldn't get over their proximity or the smell of his cologne at that moment. Some part of her brain registered that her hand was still in his. Yet, her brain didn't send the commands for letting go. Instead it told her that the green of Adrien's eyes was the same shade as Chat Noir's, and it replayed Adrien's sentence again for her. Or maybe it was the alcohol.
Let me be your Chat Noir for the night.
Marinette blushed, and looked away, thus ending the moment. Adrien was known for his charm. It's just a part of who he was, and Marinette knew that. He hadn't meant anything by it.
She cleared her throat, "Well let's go." She didn't make eye contact again, and he turned to lead the way towards her home.
Neither one of them let go of the other's hand.
The walked together in silence for a bit, the electricity between them still evident. It was Adrien who spoke first.
"You know, you never did answer my question." He cast a sideways glance down at Marinette beside him.
She was only confused for a moment before remembering their earlier conversation.
"Oh. Why aren't I dating?" she asked, looking up at him for clarification.
"I mean, is there a reason?" he kept his eyes straight ahead.
She couldn't help the little sigh that escaped her. She was happy Chat Noir had moved on, but it still stung a bit. Especially knowing that she let him slip away.
"You don't have to answer. Sorry, I shouldn't have asked."
"No, it's okay, I don't mind."
Adrien peeked back down at her.
"There was…is…was—I don't know. Ha."
Adrien didn't say anything, but waited for her to continue.
"There is a guy that I am friends with. And I didn't feel this way about him when he felt this way about me." She paused, before continuing, "And now that he's finally moved on, I just want him to be happy. He deserves that much."
They'd reached Marinette's doorstep by that point and were standing face to face. The cool night air had cleared her head a little bit, though the electricity still hadn't vanished. Until that point, she was certain she'd been imagining it. He was standing close to her again, and she had to tilt her head to look up at him. Even now, they were still holding hands. Perhaps that was the source of the electricity?
Adrien tilted his face closer to hers. "You know, you're an amazing girl, and I'm willing to bet that he still feels the same for you." And with a slight grin and teasing tone, he added "Ladybug."
Marinette fought back her giggle, "Adrien—"
"Not Adrien. I'm Chat Noir, remember?" And still holding her hand, he leaned down and kissed her.
Marinette's heart raced, and the electricity graduated into sparks. With her free hand, she reached for his waist to pull him even closer. Instead, he pulled his face from hers.
They looked at each other for a moment, neither one of them saying a word.
The corner of his mouth game up in a somewhat mischievous grin, and he leaned down to peck her cheek.
"Goodnight." he said, as he slowly let go of her hand.
He turned to walk himself home. Marinette's fingers raised to her lips, where Adrien's had just been.
I'm Chat Noir, remember?
She watched as he walked away.
Had he meant…?