It was a universal fact of life. Ladybug had no problem keeping up with Chat Noir.
Oh he talked big and all, dancing circles around her in battle then inevitably getting knocked aside through his own hubris. But at the end of the day, they were partners, equal in both speed and strength (even if their power often presented itself in different ways.)
That’s why, on yet another chilly Parisian night, when Marinette found it hard to keep up with her black-clad companion, she began to seriously worry. Another rippling shot of pain hit her and the idea of leaping across yet another rooftop made Marinette seriously want to curl up and cry. The again, lately most everything elicited the same response.
She called out to the dark shadow leagues ahead of her, suggesting they take a quick break from patrol as she hunched down and braced her back against a nearby wall.
“What’s wrong?” Chat Noir taunted as he sauntered back to her position. “Can’t keep up with the lightning fast moves of Paris’ most beloved superhero?” The shit-eating grin he wore slid right off his face though once he saw her gritted teeth and drooping shoulders. He padded over to her and lifted her chin, hunkering down next her.
“Are you hurt? Did you pull something on that last leap?” The worry was evident on his feature despite his quirked eyebrow, “Maybe I should carry you back, hmmm?”
Ladybug shot him a withering look, shaking her head free of his grasp and rocking back onto her heels. Leave it to Chat to find a way to be simultaneously concerned and flirtatious.
“No I’m… great,” another white hot pain hit her as she stood up, causing her to hiss out and pause halfway to her feet. “Well maybe not great, but I’m not injured.” The cool night air felt good on her flushed skin, assuaging some of her discomfort. After a moment the pain was gone and she was able to stand fully.
She glanced over at Chat, registering the doubt written across his face
“Uh-huh, you look just dandy. Seriously, you can go home early if you’re sick, it’s been pretty quiet so far tonight and I don’t mind finishing up alone,” he said, glancing her up and down as if she were about to explode.
Something about his gaze irritated Ladybug, despite the sincerity of his words. She hated feeling fragile, both emotionally and physically; And if what her Mother had mentioned about her own experiences held true for her daughter as well, this was only the beginning.
Marinette remember turning bright red that day, burying her head into the pile of fluffy pillows stacked on the bed her Mother sat on the edge of, kindly prattling on to her daughter all about the “Joys of Womanhood”. Marinette had stuttered out that this discussion wasn’t really necessary, that someone had come to her class a few months before and explained the whole thing, but Mrs. Dupain- Cheng had insisted, stating she didn’t trust anyone but herself to inform her daughter about the facts of life.
Marinette did have to admit she held some appreciation for her mother’s gentle, yet straight-forward guidance. Towards the end, she felt much more at ease, even comfortable enough to ask the questions she would have never dared utter in class, for fear of melting into a puddle on the ground. Though if she ever had to hear her mother say the words “menstruation” or “condom” again, Marinette might just flee the country.
Since that day, life seemed almost like a ticking countdown. As more and more girls in her class started “getting theirs”, the lingering fear Marinette felt for this particular part of life gave way to curiosity, and eventually expectation. By the time Alya started her period, Marinette has crossed the line into envy. Even as she watched her friend curl up on the chaise complaining about the cramps, bloating, mood swings, and “oh gosh this stuff just gets everywhere if you aren’t careful and stand stock still!”, Marinette couldn’t help but feel like she was being left out of a special club.
Don’t most girls start before they turned 14? She speculated, fearfully anticipating her 15th birthday coming up in just a month. Call her a worrier, but at the time if seemed a perfectly acceptable catastrophe.
Of course now here she was, hunkered over in a dirty alley with a wad of cotton where the sun don’t shine and an equally annoying sidekick to deal with. After the initial triumph of waking up with bloodstained sheets, Marinette couldn’t recall exactly why she was so ready to open this particular chapter of her life.
“Hello… Earth to Ladybug,” Chat said, waggling his clawed fingers in front of his partner’s face, “Come in Ladybug.”
Well, in her defense, she didn’t snap him in half immediately.
“Yes! Hello Chat! IM RIGHT HERE.” Ladybug spat out gesturing to herself. Chat took a step back, throwing his hands up in mock defeat, a gesture that only seemed to further fray her nerves. To her horror, she began to feel her eyes well up with frustration. He must have noticed them too, as his face switched from amused befuddlement to utter terror in under a second.
“Oh gosh, oh no.” Chat’s hands fluttered uselessly in the air. He looked around in the dark for some sort of lifeline as he wracked his brain for ways to make her stop crying. “Lady, I’m so so so so sorry. I’m a idiot, I know that I just….” He was rambling at this point, but honestly it was so hard to think with her shoulder shaking like that. “You know I take things too far sometimes but I swear I never meant to hurt your feelings and I just…”
Ladybug listened to his frantic apologies, the ridiculous nature of this whole situation dawning on her as she watched the boy flail around like a wet cat. She couldn’t help let a small chuckle slip her lips, seeing him this flustered. Chat turned at the sound, anxiety turning to confusion as he let his hands fall at his sides. Then, just as quickly as the tears had started…they stopped, leaving Ladybug feeling very foolish that she had even cried in the first place. She took a deep breath, dragging her hands down her wet cheeks and flashing am apologetic look at her strung-out companion.
“I’m missing something,” he muttered, still staring at her. “I have to be missing something right?” It was at that moment they heard a sharp beeping emit from her earring, signaling their patrol would have to be over in a few minutes, one way or another. Marinette sighed, turning to place a hand on Chat’s shoulder.
I’m not mad at you Kitty Cat,” she said, ruffling his hair slightly, “I’m just dealing with something right now.” She flashed him an appreciative smile and he seemed to relax a bit.
“Well, My Lady, you know I’m always here if you’d like to talk about said problems.” He was steadily regaining his bravado now, leaning forward to whisper in her ear. “You just let me know which boy won’t stop pursuing your affection and I’ll have him shipped abroad within a day, cat’s honor!” Ok, he was clearly recovered enough from her outburst to resume flirting, Ladybug noticed, rolling her eyes and stepping away.
“ But who would help me save Paris if you were out of the country?” Ladybug asked coyly, watching his ears droop into a pout. “Besides,” she continued, the barest hints of a blush cropping up on her cheeks, “this is more of a…uh… lady problem if you catch my meaning.” Chat just stared back quizzically, eventually shrugging his shoulders.
“Nope, can’t say that I do.” He phrased it casually, but she picked up on his questioning tone. Boy, was this a conversation she never thought she’d have to have with her partner. This time she stared him dead in the face, putting emphasis on each word.
“A Lady Problem, Chat.” Still no recognition. Well if she wasn’t embarrassed before, she sure was now. How was he not catching her meaning! “Have you never taken a health class? In your life??” she exclaimed. Another shrug.
“I haven’t actually.” He responded truthfully. Health was never a subject covered in his home-school curriculum, nor was it brought up in his first year of public education. Besides, it not like he didn’t know the basics. Brush your teeth, wear deodorant, change your underwear and you’re good. But judging from the flushed and frustrated face of his beloved Ladybug, there was clearly a memo he had missed out on. This time, his miraculous was the one to beep.
“You know, never mind Chat,” Ladybug sighed, secretly thankful for her escape route from this conversation. “All you need to know is that I’ll be ok in few day, so there’s really no need to worry.” She shot him one last confused look as a goodbye and shot up the side of the wall.
“Wait!” he called from below, prompting her to peek over the edge of the roof on which she now stood. “Should I be getting something here?” he questioned, throwing his arms wide. Ladybug gave a quick shake of her head before deciding to take pity on his innocent soul.
“Go ask a friend if you aren’t sure,” she shouted down at him, “You have those, don’t you?” She chuckled at the teeth gnashing look he shot her before turning and vaulting to the next building, thinking of the life changing soak she would take once she reached home.