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I ain't happy, I'm feeling glad

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If Chat Noir noticed her all-of-a-sudden affectionate behaviour towards him, he didn’t comment on it. And for that Ladybug was really grateful because, how in the hell would she provide any justification or reason for all of those hugs and soft caresses, hands on arms and scratches behind ears followed by that pleased purr she had come to adore; not with the truth that’s for sure.

Oh, it’s nothing really. I just saw your future self akumatized and in pain, begging me to make it all end and after that wonderful experience where future-you tried to actually kill me to get my miraculous to try and fix things up, I finally realized how important you really are to me, Chat Noir. seems a little… too on the nose. And Ladybug really does not wish to bestow that trauma and image into her minou ’s adorable head.

As it is, Chat Noir is just taking her shows of affection like he usually takes her rare praise - by eating it all up and not questioning too much. 

Standing on their usual meeting spot before patrols on top of the Eiffel Tower, overwatching the city, Chat Noir is almost on her lap as she gives him one armed hug. Her arm is curled around the small of his back, pulling him as close as their awkward position makes possible and drawing small circles on his prominent hip bones (she’ll have to reprehend him later for it. He had promised her not so long ago after he fainted during an akuma attack that he would start eating more). With her other hand she runs her fingers through the wild golden locks until they finally settle on that place behind his ears. 

The effect is almost instantaneous; Chat’s eyes grow wide and he lets out a startled mewl before he figuratively melts into her touch, his body sliding down her frame until his head settles on top of her lap.

Ladybug chuckles and continues her petting. She misses the heat of her kitty pressed to her already.

“Ladybuuuuugggg.” Chat whines almost helplessly, muffled against the black-spotted red fabric of her suit where his face his pressed on, “We should goooooo.”

“Aw. Look at you, being the responsible one for once while I’m the one that just wants to sit right here and hug you for a whole eternity.”

Chat’s shoulders rattle and Ladybug knows they’re doing so with laughing because she feels the quick warm puffs of air hit her thighs along with the vibration and tickling that spreads all around her skin from the place where Chat has his mouth pressed on. It’s so reassuring that it makes her smile a little; just the simple thought that her partner is breathing.

“We’ll stay here for just a little bit more, okay? Then we’ll go.” Her voice came out sounding sadder than she expected it to be and she internally curses when Chat doesn’t fail to pick it up too. He raises his head up, supporting himself by the elbows as he stares at her intensely.

“Ok. I didn’t want to say anything about it because I know how much you hate it when people make assumptions about your current behaviour but I have to ask. What’s wrong , Ladybug?”

Ladybug. Not my Lady, not bugboo, not any other stupid nickname Chat has come up for. 

She exhales deeply and then lets out her breath in a long sigh.

She really can’t hide anything from her partner, can’t she?

Ladybug stares at the grand Paris beneath them; beautiful Paris, mumbling with the endless moviment, adorned by lights and covered by the peaceful cloak of night. There aren’t been any akuma attacks these past few days ever since she came back from her fight against Chat Blanc. In a way, she’s really grateful for that. Chat Blanc had changed her forever in ways she herself would never admit to.

Her eyes turn back on Chat’s expectant ones and her heart sinks deeper into her chest.

“I-” just remembered how many times you risked your life for me or how many times you actually died to protect me and I’m such a fool for not realizing how much you mean to me sooner. “I’ve been having some nightmares lately.”

Chat cocks his head to the side. “Nightmares? How bad are those nightmares?”

Very bad nightmares.”

It’s been only three days after she had last saw Bunnix and ever since that day, Marinette’s dreams have been plagued by visions of that future made of ruin and destruction, of her partner sitting in the middle of it all quietly singing to himself, staring down at the still murky water and clawing at his shoulders as if he’s slowly going mad , as if he’s been waiting for the chance to- to-

Ladybug shakes her head and dabs her forearm over her eyes before the tears could come out.

Oh, how things were so much easy back then when all of her concerns revolved around her crush not liking her back. Now she’s all alone , carrying this weight on her shoulders on her own, being Ladybug, knowing things no one else knows nor can know.

Chat Noir has no idea of how many times Ladybug saw him suffer, get hit and die when it should be her! It should be her, damnit!

“L-Ladybug?” Chat startles, rushing to her side and hugging her. She sniffs and hugs him back as tightly as she can, arranging her position so she could slide her legs under Chat’s and have her arms on his waist, pulling him again to her lap. “Ladybug…” he breathes out, resting her head on her shoulder and letting her fully embrace him into a protective embrace.

He doesn’t say anything else and they stay in comfortable silence, snuggling up against each other.

Everything was just… so frustrating!

Tikki told her the ladybug and the black cat are equals ! Yin and yang! And yet, Chat keeps showing time and time again how dispensable he is, that all that really matters in a fight against an akuma is Ladybug’s ability to purify and restore while the destruction of the akumatized object could be made by literally everyone else, herself included as well! The black cat is actually subordinate to the ladybug and there’s no balance where it should be at.

Chat Noir seems to know about this as well, seeing how he always takes the hits for her, or how he steps back when a new heroes’ powers are needed for a certain mission.

Her mind goes back to Chat Blanc then. Maybe he got akumatized because of that? Maybe he felt like he was worthless?

She doesn’t know. Bunnix refused to answer when she asked, just like she didn’t say anything in regards of how the hell Chat Blanc- Chat Noir knew her true identity in the future. Maybe the cause of his akumatization was related to the fact he knew who she was?

Ladybug closes her eyes furiously. No! Think of other things!

As always, all she can do is carry this burden with her as well and reflect about Master Fu’s words more wisely. Their identities must remain a secret! As much as it really pains her…

She opens her mouth, ready to give Chat a piece of her mind to not put himself in any more harm's way but her kitty seemed to also choose that time to talk.

“You know, I used to have nightmares too… when my mom… yeah,” he shrugs, moving his head so his face is pressed against Ladybug’s collar. The steady breath caresses the skin under her suit and she shivers. “On those nights… when it got pretty awful, I usually sang to myself… Mom and I used to do it all the time when I was younger. Sometimes she would even let me play with her in her piano.”

Oh… “ Chaton-

He shakes his head. “It helps because it reminds me of her. It’s like- she’s in there with me, you know? So… whenever you have a nightmare, just do something that reminds you of someone you love. That way you’ll know you’re not truly alone and that the nightmare is just that. A nightmare.”

She hums, considering his words. Sewing and baking come to mind, as it reminds her of her friends and family respectively. Star-gazing too, just sitting on her balcony watching the night sky, feeling the chill of the night air and thinking about all of it reminds her of Chat Noir; so welcoming and yet so distant. She feels like she can always confide in him. He’s her best friend after all! She feels like she knows so much about him even though she has no idea of who he is under the mask.

She knows how bad Chat’s home situation is, with an absent mother and a really distant and neglectful father. She knows he loves sweets, especially macarons, especially her macarons . She knows his favourites are the vanilla ones with chocolate filling. She knows he’s smart and kind and brave and how he doesn’t deserve any of this. She knows how bad things would get if they got too close . She knows…

She knows now, how much she loves him.

“Thank you, mon chaton .”

Ladybug feels him smile against her collar and she lets out a smile herself. “Always, my Lady.”

She chuckles, patting him on the shoulder. Chat let’s go of her and keeps his face right in front of hers, smiling that goofy smile of his. Ladybug had never really noticed before but Chat’s eyes shone with sprinkles of gold, like stars were trapped inside its greens. Ladybug reaches up, cupping her hands on his cheeks and watching with fascination as Chat, truefully to his name, snuck further into them and made an expression akin to a cat that just got the cream.

Ladybug’s smile flickers for a short second. You only notice something when you lose it, and she’s been seeing Chat Blanc’s crazed blues in her dreams so often that now every flicker of light inside Chat Noir’s greens felt like she was meeting him for the first time all over again. Like she was falling for him.

No. That’s a lie.

She has already fallen for him.

“C’mon,” she says, snapping Chat out of his trance. “We’ve stalled for long enough. We have a city to patrol.”

Chat nods enthusiastically and jumps up to his feet. He then offers a hand to Ladybug, which she accepts with a small giggle as Chat literally yanks her back on her feet.

“Do we separate? East and west, like always?” he asks.

Ladybug taps her finger against her chin, foreigining thinking over Chat’s idea. It takes her a few seconds until she flashes Chat a grin of her own and grabs him by the waist again.

“Nope! We’ll stay together!” she pulls out her yo-yo and throws it over the nearest skyscraper.

“Well, if you so insist.”

“Oh, shut up! You’re thrilled by the idea of getting to spend all night with me!”

Chat laughs as they both fly through the Parisian night. “You know what they said, my Lady; you can’t argue against facts.”