It was meant to be only once.
Desperation drove him, hounding at his steps as he bounded across the rooftops of Paris. An ignited craving which could not, would not be ignored. His chest tightened and snatched at his already ragged breath as the streets became oh-so familiar.
Were it not for the rain, the scent of freshly baked bread would fill the air and tantalise his senses. Were it not for the clouds, overburdened and black, starlight would have taken his hand and guided his way.
But there was no starlight or scent of baked goods for him tonight. Only hot and wet and Marinette.
It was meant to be only once.
Bruised hearts and battered egos they stood alone among a maelstrom of whirling hormones and shared a common ache of an unrequited and overwhelming love. Within the mayhem their outstretched fingers had met and, broken and alone, clasped the other as a lifeline.
She ached for one who did not know she existed and he thought that a sad and sorry existence for her prince. How can someone fail to be blinded by her brilliance?
He was in love with one who could not love him back and hid his ache behind flirtations and smiles.
Two hearts, so different in their turmoil and yet so similar, yearned for solace in the darkness.
Clad in white and pink pajamas, she sat in her grove of polka-dot pink, a journal on her lap and beside her a tray with two mugs, a thermos, macarons and a wedge of cheese. A towel rested on a chair in clear invitation. The lights were dim, the room illuminated by a single lamp at her side.
Pushing open her window, he let himself in. “Hello Princess, did you miss me?”
She rested her pen between the folds of her journal as she closed it. “The cat finally dragged himself in.”
Picking up the towel, he dusted the water from his body. “Were you worried?”
She wouldn’t admit it even if she was. “I wasn’t looking forward to drinking all this hot chocolate by myself.”
Glad for Plagg’s waterproof armour, Chat Noir sat on the chaise beside her and grinned.
Her eyes widened, then she held up her hands in supplication. “No, don’t—”
Chat Noir shook his hair, showering both his princess and the surroundings in fine droplets of water.
“You’re a cat!” she complained, her laughter like soothing chimes. “Not a dog!”
He leant toward her, one hand on either side of her lithe body. “Ahh, but you’ll have me either way, won’t you, my Princess?”
Fingers against his chest gently pushed him back. “Maybe.”
Undeterred, he picked up a macaron to nibble while she poured them both a drink. “Did you make these?”
Soft breaths created ripples atop of the chocolate as she lifted her mug to her lips. “Yes.”
“Delicious, my Princess. Simply divine, just like its baker.”
Pink blossomed on her cheeks. “You are such a flirt.”
He grinned. “Purr-fection.”
Embarrassed, Marinette placed her mug on the tray and changed the subject. “I wondered if you’d come at all, considering the rain. The Ladyblog said the attack was hours ago.”
“Who could resist you?” he purred. A mistake, as he watched the light in her eyes dim. Covering, he said, “Your friend runs the Ladyblog, right?”
Marinette nodded. “Alya.”
“And what does Alya think of our secret rendezvous?”
The pink deepened and Marinette couldn’t meet his gaze. “She doesn’t know.”
“Are you ashamed of me?” he asked, his concentration on his macaron.
Her pigtails bobbed as she shook her head. “I don’t want to share. If she knew, then everyone would know and… I… I like it when you visit.”
He grinned. “I like it too.”
Pink bloomed down her neck and she scrambled for something to say. “I brought cheese for your… um…”
“Kwami,” Chat Noir supplied and nodded at the cheese wedge. “Thank you.”
“This way, when you start beeping, you won’t have to run home in the rain as yourself.”
Last time, when she’d been too enticing to consider leaving and he had pushed the transformation as far as it could go. Last time, when he’d detransformed on her terrace with his precious maiden squeezing shut her eyes so he didn’t reveal himself. While he’d bumbled through an explanation, Plagg had complained bitterly about the absence of sustenance, but had quickly been appeased by cheese bread. Adrien had been amazed at the classmate who took his secret with grace.
He warmed himself on the cockles of the kindness in her heart. “But alas, my Princess, you’ll see my true beauty while he recharges. You swoon enough without that added.”
She pulled a face at him. “As if. Besides—” She pulled out a swath of cloth from beneath the cushions. “I… er…”
“A blindfold.” The smile slid to a smirk and he winked. “Oh, I’m sure we can find other uses for that.”
Lifting a foot, she jabbed her toes into his ribs. “Stop it, Chat.”
He caught her ankle and slid his fingers up until he cupped her shin. Green eyes met blue and he was drawn toward her unbidden.
It was only supposed to be once. But he kept coming back for more. She was irresistible.
She melted back on the chaise and he flowed into her embrace. Nestled between her legs, he sought her warmth, comfort and understanding. “Is this okay?”
Fingers caressed his neck and danced through the hair at the nape, a gentle reassurance. “Yes.”
His lady, while both indulgent and enduring, disappeared fast after vanquishing an akuma, running back to the life which was so important. She was Ladybug for duty. He was Chat Noir for freedom. She was business, no play, only resolution. If he could become Chat Noir forever, he would leave his life behind with no regrets.
She needed him, might even love him, but not like he loved her. She didn’t know, didn’t understand. Not like Marinette did.
Marinette. Sweet. Charming. A sassiness which he had not been aware of and found delight in. Something he couldn’t draw out as Adrien, which vexed him immensely. Kind, so very kind, to take in a bedraggled alley-cat such as himself on a stormy night.
Plagg tried to explain it. This craving. This need. A flame he carried inside himself when he was Chat Noir, unlike anything he had experienced as Adrien. The more he transformed, and the longer he remained, the stronger the need. Even after defeating an akuma, he remained coiled tighter than a spring.
“Does she know?”
He traced her collarbone with the tips of his fingers. “She wouldn’t understand.”
“She might, if you told her. She could do this for you. Then you wouldn’t need me.”
He stilled, then propped himself up on his elbows so he could see her face. “Do you not want me to come anymore?”
A pained expression but he couldn’t tell what she was thinking. “No. I just think Ladybug could give you what you need if you asked her—”
There was a reason he’d never asked his lady. He was certain she’d oblige him, but it would be out of duty. She’d roll her eyes, scoff and make a witty quip and he’d feel his heart shredded beneath her candour. Marinette never made him feel that way. “My lady couldn’t feed me macarons and chocolate milk. My lady wouldn’t wait up in the rain to make sure I’m okay. My lady’s smile doesn’t light up her face when she sees me. Yours does. She can’t give me what I need, Marinette. What I need, my Princess, is you. And a princess is far brighter than a lady.”
She looked astounded at his admission. “Chat—”
His eyes slid away from her. “Alas, but I am a mere knight and if your blind prince has finally seen the light, I will regrettably—”
“He hasn’t.” Tender hands against his face, coaxing him back down. “There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.”
But there was someone else she’d rather be with.
Ear pressed against her chest, he closed his eyes. Her heartbeat thrummed, its speed increasing and he answered with a rumble. Lithe fingers stroked up his spine and then buried themselves in his hair. With her fingers scraping against his scalp, he allowed himself to relax and the coiled spring inside unwound. Arching back his head, the ache in his belly dimmed as Marinette’s fingers dipped along the line of his jaw to scratch under his chin.
Mewling, he rubbed his face against her, smiling as she squirmed. She never made fun of him when the cat demanded. She never scolded when he pawed at her or gave ‘kitten kisses’. She never complained when he purred. She seemed to enjoy his mewlings as much as he did.
It was only supposed to be once. A moment caught in time, a sadness and a yearning washed away by a brief moment of togetherness. But the once turned into once more and that morphed into many and he couldn’t stay away.
Marinette was a gift.
Her hands were a sin.
He couldn’t get enough of either.
Her prince was a lucky, lucky man, if he ever found the wits to see her for the marvel she was. Purring, Chat Noir lifted his head enough to press his ear into her palm. Of their own accord, his eyes dipped closed in a slow blink.
Marinette slow blinked back.
He leant forward until his forehead brushed hers. The purr in his chest deepened as he rubbed his face against the smooth skin of her cheek. The corner of his lips brushed against the edge of hers.
Marinette stifled a gasp and Chat Noir froze as the air between them supercharged.
There were barriers. Boundaries and consequences and unspoken agreements. While intimate, what they shared had never been sexual. He shied away from areas where she might feel uncomfortable. Trust and respect had been forged, he never took more than she was willing to offer. Never crossed the lines she drew. Every step taken with her permission and acknowledgement.
This was about the cat, not the boy. The cat who needed pats, needed touch and affirmation. Not the boy who craved love and affection. This was about Plagg and his stupid, stupid obsessions which somehow wormed its way into Adrien’s psyche when transformed and manifested as an addiction to being petted.
It wasn’t about the boy, starved and lonely in this cold and rainy world. Nor the girl with her magic hands and endearing smile. The girl with the heart of gold who lived in a bedroom of pink and dots. The girl who held sunlight in her smile. The girl who’d cupped his face and brought her lips to meet his.
His mind emptied, then filled in the space of a breath.
He’d flowed before, drawn in to her embrace, a cool trickle and the haze of want for pets. Now he melted against the heat of her, liquid fire against his lips and the promise of so much more. Taste whirled and when she opened her mouth, his senses flooded. Hot chocolate and honey, caramel and cream. Hot and spice, like the girl beneath him.
Fingers buried in his hair, scratches against the nape. Toes stroking the back of his leg. The non-existent space between their chests burnt with a fire that engulfed him. He lived in the space within the best of both worlds. Her hands were sinful when they caressed his ears and they were sinful when they gripped his shoulders. They were sinful as they stroked his hair and they were sinful traversing the small of his back.
A purr rumbled deep in his chest as he pulled her closer and it was her turn to mew. He let the sound reverberate through his ears and mind, torn between wanting to hear the sound again and wanting to know what other sounds she could make.
She whispered his name around his lips and her hands became a gentle nudge away. She was intoxicating, letting him steal further kisses even as he rose. “Chat.”
Nuzzling, he hummed.
“You’re beeping,” she whispered.
Eyes closed, he let the skin on his face kiss her in lieu of his lips. “I don’t care.”
Her breath fanned against his neck. “Chat—”
“You have cheese and a blind fold.” She turned her face away, so he nibbled on her neck instead.
“That won’t do either of us any good right now.” Soothing, her hands coaxed him back to where she wanted him to be. “It’s stopped raining.”
He didn’t care. “So it has.”
“You should go.”
A cold fist gripped his spine and he didn’t want to open his eyes to see the regret shining on her face. “If that is what you wish.”
How was he going to face her tomorrow? How was he going to pretend he didn’t know about her noises and her hands? How was he to ignore her intoxicating presence behind him now he knew how her lips tasted? How was he to exist without ever tasting them again? It had been hard enough to act normal when it had simply been pets, now how was he supposed to survive?
Fingers curled against his ears to gift him with another scratch. “I’ll see you tomorrow?”
Chat Noir’s eyes flashed open. Swollen lips, disheveled hair and a shirt that had both ridden up and been tugged askew, she looked flushed and ripe and… uncertain.
Riveted, he watched as she took her bottom lip in her teeth and asked her question again. “Will I see you tomorrow?”
A cheshire grin burst from his face and he stole one last, lingering kiss. “As you wish, my Princess.”