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The Bodyguard

Chapter Text

“So, what you’re saying is, you need a bodyguard who won't stand out,” Gabriel Agreste steeples his fingers, and looks up at his son, who stands before the desk.

“Yes, Père,” Adrien’s voice is firm. “I know having a bodyguard is one of your conditions for going to university. But I’ll never fit in with the Gorilla glaring at everyone over by shoulder.”

“Very well,” Gabriel says, tapping at his keyboard. “I’ll start the search.”

Adrien conceals a smirk as he leaves the office. He knows it’ll be impossible to find someone that will fit in. He’s seen plenty of bodyguards over the years, and no one will be able to pass as a first year student.


Exactly two weeks later, just before his induction day, Adrien is proven wrong.

“This is Marinette Dupain-Cheng,” Gabriel introduces them in his office. “She’s your new bodyguard.”

There’s a glimmer in Gabriel’s eye. Adrien resists the urge to splutter and tries his best to mask the utter disbelief that is no doubt showing on his face.

For a start, she’s small. Way smaller than him, the top of her head level with his Adam’s apple. Her dark, midnight hair is tied up in a short, no-nonsense ponytail. Her eyes are blue, the impossible blue of an Artic sea, and they’re just as cold as she appraises him. She seems to think less of him than he does of her. Adrien can almost see ‘helpless pretty-boy’ tattooed across her head. Her face is bare from make-up, but she’s definitely pretty.

There’s a logo on her long-sleeved grey sweater, just on the right side of the chest. The Han characters are difficult, but Adrien can just pick out the words ‘school’ and ‘military’. Black combats and boots finish the outfit, and he doesn’t think he’s seen someone dressed so unfeminine before. For some reason, the thought sparks all the way down to his toes.

“Pleased to meet you, Madame Dupain-Cheng,” Adrien says in French, not wanting to assume she can speak Chinese just because she looks Asian (he’s made that mistake before). He sticks out his hand, and she shakes it firmly, and he’s certain there will be bruising tomorrow. Her voice isn’t as butch as he expects.

“Likewise, Monsieur Agreste. Just for the record, it’s Mademoiselle.”

“M-my mistake,” he stutters. There’s a sharp bite to her tone, polite but with a hostile lilt.

Gabriel nods. “As I explained to your superior, this role will require you to blend in as a first year student.”

“Understood, sir,” the young woman salutes. “I will be here on Monday morning to accompany Mons. Agreste to university.”

“Isn’t this perfect, Adrien?” Gabriel smiles. “Mademoiselle Dupain-Cheng has just returned from Beijing, so she’ll also be able to help you with your studies.”

“Great,” Adrien says weakly. This was not what he had in mind, at all.


 

Marinette rocks up in a monster truck the next morning. It seems she’s taken his request not to arrive in a limo seriously: the Bulletproof Jeep Grand Cherokee is the furthest thing from it. The SUV is silver and huge and he’s impressed Marinette can even touch the floor. He dithers, unsure where to sit, but the young woman has already exited the car and swings around to his side effortlessly, opening the back door before bundling him in, her hand bracing above his head so that he won’t whack it against the doorframe. Adrien clutches his leather satchel in his lap in a state of shock that this tiny female has just manhandled him with total ease.

“Seatbelt,” his bodyguard bristles at him, and he jumps to attention.

“Morning,” he says brightly, trying to hide how rattled he is, but Marinette simply sighs and hits the gas.


 

They have a private parking space, of course, and it isn’t until they are walking on campus that Adrien finally registers her attire. It is drastically different from yesterday: skinny black jeans, a white blouse under a navy blazer and ankle boots. He can even spot a touch of eyeliner and lipgloss. She doesn’t look a day over eighteen.

“So um, do you know where we’re going?” Adrien asks, pulling out the map, which he received in his welcome pack. “I came here for a tour a few months back but they all start to blur into one, you know?”

“I scouted the area yesterday,” Marinette tells him curtly. “Your induction exercise will take place in the Butterfly Building, room 101. It will take us approximately six minutes and 45 seconds to reach it on foot.”

“I see,” Adrien said, hastily folding away his map. “Well, it’s great to know I won’t be spending time lost like most first years.”

The Université Paris Diderot is located on the bank of the Seine, and is comprised of many off-white buildings, with gardens in the middle, and long silver benches and pieces of modern art. Marinette skilfully cut her way through the throngs of students, never leaving Adrien’s side. To anyone else, they may have appeared to be a couple.

“Yo!” a sudden male voice came from behind them, and Adrien had half-turned around to address it, when his bodyguard was suddenly in front of him. Despite her size, she seemed to fill the space, and was grasping the wrist of the tall male who had been about to tap Adrien’s shoulder.

“Hey!” the guy protested. He wore glasses and a checked-shirt, and Adrien didn’t recognise him. The young man tried to shake Marinette off, but she was like a pit-bull with firm jaws around her prey. “I just wanted to say hi to Adrien!”

“Do you know him?” Marinette’s voice was like jagged glass.

“Everyone knows him!” the bespectacled youth protested. “He’s a famous model!”

“That doesn’t mean you can touch him,” Marinette gritted out, and when the boy brought up his other hand to grapple, she effortlessly tossed him over her shoulder.

It happened so fast Adrien almost missed it. One moment, he had opened his mouth to ask the guy to chill, and the next, checked-shirt was on the ground, groaning.

Marinette leaned over him, hands on her hips. “Next time, no touching.”

“Um, sorry?” Adrien offered, as his bodyguard began to lead him away.

“Leave him, we’re going to be late,” she said, propelling them forward, one hand on his lower back.


 

They reached the Butterfly Building one minute before 10am. It was a typical lecture room, and students were clustered around the benches, socialising.

Adrien was surprised when his bodyguard hung back. “You choose where you want to sit,” she told him. “I’ll follow.”

He shot her a graceful smile, and moved down the aisle, finally deciding to sit next to a boy his own age, who had bright red headphones slung around his neck. Adrien took the plunge, introducing himself, and the boy, Nino, grinned and fell into easy conversation with him.

He was aware of Marinette slipping in behind him, and striking up conversation with a girl to her left.


For most of the day, it was easy to forget she was even there. They filled out forms, took part in ice-breaking exercises, and selected classes. Adrien was studying fashion and languages, specifically Mandarin. Marinette was studying the same, unsurprisingly. When it came to lunch, Nino suggested they check out the gardens, and his bodyguard suddenly appeared at his side.

“Um, why don’t you join us, Marinette and…?”

“Alya,” supplied the other girl, grinning. “Sure, let’s go. I could murder a coffee right now. Far too much info for one morning, right girl?”

Marinette murmured in agreement, and Adrien wondered at her sudden change of personality. Was she putting on an act, to fit in? He supposed she couldn’t really chuck around her classmates and remain conspicuous for long.


“Today was great!” Adrien was buzzing as they walked back to the car. “It was so nice being able to talk to people my own age, like normal!”

Marinette had returned to bodyguard mode and once again helped him into the car; at least this time he was prepared.

“Did you have fun, Marinette?” he asked.

“With all due respect, Mons. Agreste, it’s not my job to have fun,” she said, reversing out the space with one hand on the wheel.

“Please, call me Adrien,” he asked again. “It’s kinda strange if you call me that when we’re both supposed to be students.”

“I’m not allowed to call you by your first name, Monsieur Agreste.”

“What do I call you?”

“You can call me anything you like, sir.”

Adrien felt a smirk creep across his face. “Really? Like Mari? Princess? Bug? I like that one. How about buginette? You know, since you’re really small.”

Her knuckles whiten as she grips the wheel and he crows, sensing a win.

Chapter Text

“You’re eighteen?” Adrien explodes, as soon as they are alone. They had finally received their student ID, and he couldn’t resist looking over her shoulder as they left the student services.

“Yeah,” Marinette shrugs.

He blinks rapidly, confused. “How can you be a professional bodyguard so young?” he asks. “I thought you needed years of training!”

Her baby face had thrown him. Adrien had just assumed she looked younger than her years, but she actually was the same age as him?

“I’ve been training in martial arts since I was three,” Marinette tells him, sticking the ID into a black wallet. She fishes out another card and shoves it in his face. “I joined to military training school when I was ten.”

“I’ve been learning fencing since I was five,” Adrien blurts out. “And karate since I was seven.”

“Cute,” Marinette says, glancing at her nails. “You ever used fencing outside of practice to defend himself?”

Adrien feels himself tense. He has, but he can’t tell her why. “I guess not.”

“I used to guard billionaire businesswomen who had the mafia after them. Trust me, you’re safe, pretty boy.”

Adrien deflates. He can’t even think of comeback for the pretty boy label.

“That sounds much more interesting. What made you come back to Paris?”

Marinette jams her wallet in her back pocket. “Your father was willing to pay me double what I earn in China.”

“Of course,” Adrien sighs. His father would only want the best of the best.

“Any other questions, sir, or are you satisfied my CV is adequate?”

“How about a match, buginette?” Adrien’s green eyes suddenly gleam. “If you lose, you have to call me by my first name.”

His bodyguard snorts. “Never gonna happen.”

Adrien isn’t sure what she means: that she would never lose, or never call him by his name. He plans to find out.


 

On the way to their first timetabled lecture, Adrien suddenly tenses and ducks behind Marinette. “Hide me!” he begs.

His bodyguard quirks an eyebrow as a blonde haired girl bounces into view.

“Adrieeeeen!” she drags the name out like a whine. Marinette plants her feet squarely on the ground.

“Hi, Chlo!” he says, waving from behind his bodyguard.

“Who are you?” the blonde girl asks rudely. “Can you move?”

“Nope,” Marinette says, eyeing the newcomer up and down. “Who are you?”

“Chloe Bourgeois, not that it’s any of your business,” she says, flipping her silky hair. “Adrien, who is this weirdo?”

“Sorry, Chlo. She’s my new bodyguard. She won’t let anyone touch me.”

“What? But I’m your best friend!” Chloe pouts, almost stamping her foot.

“Oh, in that case, be my guest,” Marinette grins, sweeping to the side. Adrien shoots her a look of betrayal as Chloe squeals and tackles him, arms around his neck.


“I thought you were supposed to protect me?” Adrien asks pointedly, as they sit down in the lecture theatre, the model attempting to wipe sticky lipgloss from his cheek.

“Yes, from hostiles,” Marinette tells him, pulling out a notepad and a pen from her bag. Props—she won’t be taking notes. “Not fangirls.”

“It would have been nice if you had went along with it,” he grumbles. “I hate how she jumps on me every time she sees me.”

“Then be a big boy and tell her so?” Marinette deadpans, observing the theatre as other students file in. Her eyes are always watching.


It’s his bodyguard’s role to accompany him not only to university, but also to any extra-curricular activities, and his modelling jobs. Adrien convinces his father that he needs to be dedicated to his studies, but there’s still the occasional shoot or event to attend.

He’s nervous, for some reason, the first time Marinette is on set. Everything that was natural to him before suddenly jars and he can’t stop his hands from shaking. Luckily, his bodyguard is too preoccupied to notice, prowling around the set like a tiger, making sure the only guns around are for lighting.

He’s exhausted by the end of it, slumping in the back of the SUV, and Marinette regards him in the mirror, smirking. “It’s hard work being pretty, huh?”

He agrees limply, closing his eyes.


Marinette’s only day off is Sunday, unless Adrien’s schedule requires her, so Gabriel gives her a bedroom in the mansion where she can rest once Adrien is home safe.

She spends most her free time in the gym in the basement. He walks in on her on Saturday, beating the shit out of the boxing bag, and he can only stand and stare.

“You need me?” Marinette asks, wiping sweat from her brow. Her whole body glistens from her workout. She’s wearing a red sports bra and black, loose shorts, and Adrien can feel the blood rush around his veins.

“Ahh…no,” he says, finally finding his voice. “I was just wondering if you wanted to practice some karate together? I thought it might be a good idea… you’re probably better than my sensei.”

Marinette shakes her head, and the sweat drops shimmer in the air. “Not a good idea, sir. I might accidentally hurt you.”

“Come on, buginette,” he squares up to her, leaning against the boxing bag, making the use of his extra height. “One little match. Or are you scared?”

She rolls her eyes and grabs a towel, wiping herself down. “Fine. Just one.”


Adrien lands on the mat, and blinks up at the ceiling. The match was over before it had even begun, and he’d barely bounced on the balls of his feet.

“Again,” he says, getting up. “I wasn’t ready.”

Marinette sighs deeply, but she humours him. They face each other, and their hands go up. There’s no referee, so she moves forward first, and Adrien tries his best to mirror, keeping his guard up. She’s already sent him on his ass with a swipe to the ankle that he wasn’t going to fall for again.

He doesn’t want to hurt her, either, so he wavers, pulling back a chop at the last minute. Adrien hears her grunt of annoyance and she punishes him with a high kick, a violent “yah!’ bursting from her lips. The height of the kick—level with his head—and the sudden noise startles him. He falls backwards and once more, onto his ass.

“Happy?” she asks, hands on her hips. “Now, no more. We shouldn’t even be doing this without gloves or mouth guards. Can’t have you bruising your face.”

Adrien huffs but has to agree. He struggles to his feet and bows, accepting defeat.

“It was a pleasure, Marinette,” he says, taking the time to roll her name in his mouth like a delicacy.

“You need a better sensei,” she says flatly.

"Is that an offer?" Adrien grins.


“You don’t like dresses, huh,” Adrien notes, as Marinette opts again for jeans on Monday, this time in bottle green. “Is it your legs?”

He trails off, realising how awful that sounded. “Sorry! I meant that in a good way, I mean, I’ve seen your legs, and they’re very muscular—”

Adrien stops talking, thinking his bodyguard was likely to take him out any moment now.

Instead Marinette regards him, suppressing a smile. “I don’t wear skirts or dresses when on the job, because it hinders me from kicking.”

“Fair point,” Adrien squeaks, remembering how well she had kicked his ass a few days prior. Suddenly he has visions of her legs wrapped around his hips and he chokes, pretending he’s swallowed a fly when Marinette looks concerned.


 

“Dudes, you need to come to my set tonight,” Nino tells them, after their lecture on Fashion and Business, Module 1.

“I’m there,” Alya grins, thumbs up. “It’s at the student bar on campus, right?”

"Yeah,” Nino nods enthusiastically. “I’ll put you guys on the list at the door, so you can just walk in.”

“You down, girl?” Alya asks, nudging Marinette in the ribs. Adrien holds his breath, hoping she doesn’t deck the poor girl, but she simply tilts her head in thought, her eyes sliding to his. Marinette has expressed her openness to over-time, and he’s not sure why she needs the money so badly, but he’s willing to help out.

“Sure, sounds fun!” Adrien grins.


“You’re not driving us there, are you?” Adrien asks, later that night.

He’s wearing the latest Agreste fashion, of course, stoneworked soft grey jeans and a white t-shirt with a v-neck. Marinette waits for him at the front door, swinging her keys around her finger. She’s still wearing the bottle greens but she’s swapped her black t-shirt for a white blouse with a gold zip down the front. It’s the lowest cut thing he’s seen her wear, but even then, there’s only a suggestion of cleavage. The ankle boots have stayed.

“Is there some problem with that, sir?” Marinette asks, frowning.

“We’re going to a bar,” Adrien says, attempting to take the keys from her, but she spins them to her other hand. “Let’s just get the metro, like normal students?”

“Not all students drink,” she reprimands him.

“Most students don’t drive bulletproof cars,” he counters. “I thought we wanted to fit in?”

“I’ll park far away,” she says, opening the front door.

"You never turn off, do you," Adrien complains.


Adrien can’t help but feel pumped. It’s his first time going to a club that isn’t related to his modelling. There are no chandeliers in the student bar: it is dark and grimy, and a bodyguard’s worst nightmare. They flash their cards at the bouncers on the door and Marinette hangs back to discuss business. Adrien can hear the pulse of music from the next floor. Posters upon poster decorate the walls, along with adverts for telephone numbers students might need: money advice, depression helplines, where to find free condoms.

Adrien coughs and diverts his attention to the students milling around. There’s stairwell up ahead and the building is several stories high. The floor plan tells him the first floor is a café, the second a bar, and the third is the club. This floor is only for check-in and cloakroom.

“Ready?” Marinette asks, suddenly at his arm.

“Yeah,” Adrien grins down at her. “What were you asking?”

“Emergency exits, that type of thing,” Marinette says, leading him up the staircase. “I had a quick look online but there wasn't enough info.”

“I hardly think anyone is going to try and kidnap me here, buginette,” he says, trying to ease the tension he can see in her shoulders. He can joke about it now: he was seven at the time and it was terrifying, and his father will never forget it.

“Perhaps not, but that’s not to say there won’t be bar fights, or terrorists,” Marinette states, her eyes sweeping the path ahead as they reach the third floor.

“True,” Adrien relents. Paris has been on high alert since the last attack. It’s only natural that his bodyguard would be considering such threats, too.

“Okay, before we go in,” Marinette says, her blue eyes pinning him to the spot. “We need a few ground rules, sir.”

“Yes, mademoiselle,” Adrien salutes, but his bodyguard doesn’t crack a smile.

“Do not accept any drinks from strangers. Do not accept any drugs from strangers. If you’re in the bathroom for longer than ten minutes, I’m coming in. Stay in my eye line. Clear?”

“Sure thing,” Adrien says, grinning. “Want me to hold your hand, too?”

Chapter Text

Before Marinette has time to reply, Alya pops up from behind, and slings her arms around them.

“You guys made it!” she grins. “It’s already packed in there. Let’s go get some drinks before our boy hits the deck!”

They follow: Adrien behind Alya, Marinette bringing up the rear. The model is delighted by the concoctions of drinks on offer and he can’t believe how cheap they are.

“Mwah!” Alya kisses her student card as she orders some shots. “God, it’s good to be in a student bar again.”

As they wait for their drinks, Alya explains that she had been to another college previously for journalism, but the course was so poor she dropped out.

“I mean, the lecturer just used to stand there and tell us who he had on speed-dial!” she complains. “The only teaching he did was that goddamn inverted pyramid. I was ready to stick him with it.”

Adrien laughs as the bartender returns.

“What’s that drink?” the blonde asks, motioning to the bright green cocktail the girl down the bar has just received.

The bartender fixes his black cap and grins. “That’s my specialty. A Chat Noir, named after our superhero.”

“Awesome!” Alya says immediately. “Can I get one of those, too?”

“And for yourself?” the bartender asks Marinette, who is looking anywhere but the menu.

“Yeah, the same,” she says, idly brushing her hand through the air.

“Three Chat Noirs,” Adrien asks as he pulls out his wallet.

“It must be so nice to have a cocktail named after you,” Alya muses, handing them shots. “Do they have superheros in China, Marinette?”

“Eh, yeah,” the bodyguard replies, looking momentarily thrown as she accepts the shot glass. Adrien knows she doesn’t want to drink on the job, so when Alya turns away, he takes it from her. He’s had shots at modelling parties before, and a small part of him hopes to impress her as he knocks it back in one, but she just rolls her eyes.

“Wow, these look great!” Alya gushes, as the cocktails are put down in front of them. Adrien waits until she snaps a photo before lifting up the drink. It’s artfully done: bright, neon green liquor, with black icecubes, no doubt mirroring cataclysm. Black sugar coats the rim of the cocktail, and a black mixer in the shape of a cat’s paw finishes the look.

“Tastes great,” Adrien says, surprised. “What do you think, princess?”

His bodyguard scowls and takes a sip. “Okay, I guess.”

“So, girl, are there superheroes in Asia?” Alya asks again, as they push their way through the crowd.

“There’s one, I think,” Marinette says casually, her blue eyes scouting the room. “Ladybird, or something.”

“Oh, that’s right!” Alya clicks her fingers. “I remember reading something about Ladybug a few weeks ago! Her fans were all super worried because she suddenly disappeared. I didn’t realise that’s where she was from.”

“Ladybug, huh,” Adrien stirs his drink thoughtfully. “Does she have… flower power?”

“No!” Marinette says sharply, as if offended. Ayla and Adrien laugh in unison.

“Sorry, I’m not trying to diss her,” the blonde grins, apologetically. “It’s just…ladybugs are small and cute, you know?”

“Well, black cats are as well,” Alya points out. “Though they do have claws, I guess?”

Marinette opens her mouth to retort, but suddenly Nino’s voice floods the sound system.

“All right, peeps! DJ Bubbler here, ready to crack this shit up a notch!”

“Go Nino!” Alya whoops, some of her drink sloshing onto the dancefloor. Adrien looks down and notices how sticky the place is. His tangerine converse are, no doubt, going to get pretty gummy by the end of the night.


Although Adrien isn’t a confident dancer, it doesn’t take much to sway next to the girls beside him. Alya is much more energetic in her movements, bopping to the beat and shouting encouragement in-between drops. Marinette rocks on her feet a little so as not to stand out, but it’s clear her mind is on anything but the music.

“Refill?” Adrien asks Alya, and she nods, handing him her empty glass.

“Same again, please!”

Marinette tries to accompany him to the bar, even though it’s less than five feet away.

“Stay with Alya,” he tells her over the music. “It’ll be weird if we both go!”

“Come straight back,” his bodyguard warns him, and he salutes with a wink.


The bar is much busier now, and Adrien jostles for a place. He isn’t used to this type of pushing and shoving, and is wary of starting any fights (as he knows how Marinette will end them). As a result, it’s twenty minutes before he is served. The blonde can feel his bodyguard’s eyes on him and he orders another three Chat Noirs as quickly as possible. Marinette isn’t even drinking hers: it serves simply as a prop.

Adrien struggles to keep the tray of cocktails upright as he moves through the crowd. He finally reaches the girls, and hands them their drinks, pointing the bar to indicate he has to return the tray. Alya helpfully takes his coktail from him with a wink, pretending to drink his too. Adrien makes it to the bar, deposits the tray, and after a laborious ten minutes of swimming through the river of students, Adrien finally spots Alya and Marinette once more.

What happens next seems to unfold in slow motion.

His bodyguard’s attention is on him, as always. When she spots him, her posture relaxes a little and her shoulders fold back. Alya is still dancing away despite a drink in either hand, hips widely flaring to Mamacita, which is blaring over the club. A group of guys nearby have been watching the girls, and since Adrien left, they have inched closer. They seemed older, late twenties perhaps. Alya is blissfully unaware, but Marinette spins around suddenly, catching one of the boys just as he attempts to grab her ass.

“What the hell?” Adrien is in front of her before he has time to think, pushing the student away. “Is that your attempt to flirt? Because it sucks, man.”

“Adrien!” his bodyguard’s arms lock around his stomach, trying to stop him from moving forward. Alya is at his side in seconds, yelling at the group as they surge forwards to back their boy.

“What’s your problem?” the groper laughs, his brown hair flopping into narrow eyes. “No one is hurt, dude.”

“Are you serious?” Adrien shouts over the music. “You can’t just go touching girls because you feel like it!”

“What you gonna do about it?” floppy hair taunts, and the model feels rage pour through him, hot and dry. He attempts to punch the guy, but Marinette has had enough, and somehow he’s behind her again. She confronts the group head on, hands up in a defensive stance (she seems to have dumped her drink). They laugh and point, one actually wiping tears from his eyes, until Marinette has three of them on the ground, wincing. Adrien grows annoyed, and he doesn’t want to just stand there, but his bodyguard pins him with a furious glare that says don’t move.

Her distraction is enough for one guy to grab her in a headlock, but she flips her body up in a move that seems to belong inside a WWE ring. Dancers gather around, entranced by the girl now upside down, her legs wrapped around her attacker’s head. All Adrien can think is flexible and he blames the alcohol. Another one hits the deck. His bodyguard brushes herself off just as the bouncers arrive to escort the hooligans out. They don’t try to touch her or Adrien, and Alya blinks in star-struck wonder.

“Dudes, you totally interrupted my set,” Nino complains, appearing beside them with a bottle of water.

“Sorry, man,” Adrien claps him on the shoulder. “Couldn’t let you have all the limelight.”

“We’re leaving, now,” Marinette says, arms folded. Her voice allows no argument and Adrien nods, wondering how many rules he has broken in his bodyguard’s handbook.

“Er, okay,” Alya says, quirking an eyebrow. “See you both tomorrow?”

“See you,” Adrien waves, and follows Marinette meekly out the door.

“What’s with those two?” Nino says, scratching his chin.

“Do you think she’s a superhero?” Alya asks, half-serious, handing him Adrien’s untouched cocktail.

Nino chuckles, mussing up her hair. “I was going to ask if they were a couple, but let’s go with your theory. Come on, Wifi, I want to dance.”


“What part of ‘I’m supposed to protect you’ do you not understand, sir?” Marinette asks squarely as she powerwalks back to the SUV. Adrien has to jog to keep up.

“The part where some guy molests you and I do nothing?” Adrien pipes up, causing Marinette to stop abruptly. He tips over, nearly losing his balance like a cartoon character.

“Listen,” his bodyguard says, hands on her hips. “I am the one trained to deal with ANY aggressive situation. Not you. Got it? Tonight could have been so much worse. I was handling that boy, and it we could have avoided violence if you hadn’t interrupted.”

“Sorry,” Adrien says, running his hand through his hair. “I know that. I know you’re strong and fl- freaking amazing at your job. I just couldn’t help it. A gentleman wouldn’t just stand by and let that happen.”

“Sir, this isn’t medieval France, and I’m not a fair maiden,” Marinette says, her blue eyes blazing. “The next time you try something like that again, I will forcibly carry you out over my shoulder, no matter how embarrassing it may be. Do you understand?”

“Yes, m’am,” Adrien sighs. He allows her to put him in the car, and they travel in silence for the whole journey home.

“Are you going to tell my father?” the model asks, concern colouring his voice.

“No,” Marinette says, gripping the wheel. “I don’t want to highlight my own failings to my employer.”

“Okay,” Adrien says, unclipping his seatbelt. She smartly exits the car and opens the door for him. He steps out into the night, and gazes down at her.

“I really am sorry, Marinette,” Adrien says.

“It’s fine,” his bodyguard dismisses it. “You don’t have to apologise, sir. I’m at fault for not reading the situation faster.”

“You’re not a robot,” Adrien tells her. “Besides, you were concentrating on me. Your own defences were down.”

“I’m not employed to defend myself,” Marinette retorts.

“I know,” Adrien acknowledges, and for some reason his hand reaches out, and gently moves the hair from her face. She jerks back in shock and he smiles sadly at her.

“You leave yourself vulnerable. But you do have a right to protect yourself, princess. But maybe next time, I’ll let you handle that yourself. Since you’re the professional, and all.”

“That would be helpful,” Marinette says, sarcastically, locking the car.

“You’re cute,” Adrien chuckles, hooking his hands in his pockets.

She doesn’t flush, but instead stares at him, incredulously.

“Night, princess,” he gives her a sweeping bow, and makes his way into the mansion. He laughs as he hears her cursing echo behind him, and the snap of something breaking.

Chapter Text

“So dude, what exactly is your relationship with Marinette?” Nino asks the next day. They’re in the library, preparing for their first assignment, and they’ve split up the case studies between them.

“Hmm?” Adrien tries to seem unflustered by the question, as he pulls some back catalogues of Coco Chanel from the shelf.

“Don’t ‘hmm’ me,” Nino grins, digging a finger into his side. “You’ve got all these nicknames for her, don’t you? And you were glaring daggers at that poor guy that tried to sit next to her earlier. Are you dating, or not?”

“I wish,” Adrien says, piling another few books into his arms. Nino blinks, and the blonde quickly backtracks. “I mean…it’s not as simple as that. Our relationship is kinda…complicated.”

“I’ll say,” Nino chuckles. “The way she took those guys out? She got anger issues, or something?”

“Or something,” Adrien agrees, dumping the books on the table. “Look, don’t make a big deal about it, okay? I don’t want her to be uncomfortable.”

“I won’t,” Nino promises. They sit down, trying to make sense of the first question, when the girls arrive, another load of books and catalogues in their arms.

“It was such a good idea to work on this together,” Alya grins. “We’ll have it done in no time! It’s so annoying we’re not allowed hot drinks on this floor, though.”

“Let’s go grab a quick coffee?” Nino winks.

“You’ve barely done anything yet!” Adrien complains.

“Okay, let us go for a quick caffeine buzz,” Alya begs, palms pressed together, “and we’ll be super productive for the next two hours. Promise!”

“Fine, go!” Adrien sighs, but he’s only half-serious. Marinette sits down next to him, and Nino and Alya high-five and head to the elevator.

“Did you get everything you need?” Adrien asks, looking over at her pile of books.

“I think so,” Marinette tells him. Even though she’s his bodyguard, she still has to do the work. The university won’t allow her to remain on the course otherwise.

“Nino was asking about us,” Adrien says quickly, opening one of the books. “Did Alya…?”

“Yeah,” Marinette says, lightly. “I just said we were friends.”

“Oh,” Adrien releases his breath. “Good. Yeah, good, that’s what I said, too.”

They work together in silence, and when the blonde slants his eyes to catch sight of Marinette’s neat handwriting, he’s stunned at the quick sketches of designs decorating her notebook.


 

“I need food,” Nino demands, as soon as they complete the assignment. They all agree, and since the library café is shut, they decided to head to the nearby pizza place.

“Let’s just get one of the massive ones and split the toppings,” Alya says, because even with a discount, they’re still students. Adrien goes for the four cheese, and Marinette agrees to have the same. Nino and Alya battle out how spicy they can make their side.

“Sure you don’t want a salad instead, bro?” Nino teases the model before they order, and Adrien punches him lightly on the arm.

“I’m a growing boy,” he insists, and he can almost feel his bodyguard roll her eyes.

“Yeah yeah okay, no need to flash the guns,” Nino complains, covering Alya’s eyes.

“Babe, you know he’s all over the magazines,” she giggles.

“It’s not fair,” Nino complains, tensing his arm. “I eat a tonne but I still can’t gain. How do you do it, man?”

“You need to work out, too, Nino,” Adrien laughs. “But in your case, I think it’s a high metabolism.”

“I could do with some of that!” Alya sighs. “Even smelling this pizza is making me put on weight.”

“Shut up, you’re perfect,” Nino tells her, squeezing her hip, and they giggle together, sharing a quick kiss. Adrien flushes at the intimacy and quickly shoves a slice of pizza in his mouth. Marinette sips on her soda, completely at ease with the public display of affection.


“Hey, Marinette, do you mind if I ask you something?” Adrien asks on the way home.

She flicks her eyes up to the mirror. “What is it, sir?”

“Have you ever had a boyfriend?” he says quickly. “It’s okay if you don’t want to answer, I’m just curious. I was home-schooled, so I kinda missed all the teenage dating stuff.”

Marinette drums her fingers on the wheel as they stop for a red light.

“I didn’t have time for boyfriends. I went on a couple of dates, but they were all idiots.”

“I see,” Adrien smiles, trying not to feel euphoric. “I’m glad it not just me then.”

“I’m sure Chloe would go on a date with you, if you asked,” Marinette says, her eyes meeting his in the mirror.

“Oh God, no,” Adrien shudders. “I’m not that desperate!”

“Suit yourself, sir,” Marinette grins, and hits the gas. "I'm always here to chaperone your dates."

Adrien shifts in his seat, holding back a quip about her being the date instead.


They work in groups for their lecture the next day, and Adrien has to hide a smile about how slickly Marinette ensures she isn’t separated from him. She plants herself firmly at his side, eyeballing anyone who dares think of confronting her (including the tutor). He’s pretty sure by now all the other girls in the class as thoroughly spooked by his bodyguard (and some of the guys too).

However, it doesn’t stop one girl sitting next to him on the other side. He introduces himself, and she squeaks before saying, “Rose! Nice to meet you, Adrien.”

Although Rose is petite and shy, she doesn’t flinch away from Marinette’s once over, and even smiles at her and asks if she wants some bonbons (Rose has a sweet tooth, she explains).

The three of them get on well, and Marinette seems to soften when she talks to Rose, admiring her pink dress with the embroidered wings ("it took me all night, but it was worth it!") and they discuss fabrics with a fervor that Adrien hasn’t seen in his bodyguard before.


 

It’s just the two of them for lunch, since Alya has joined the blogging club and Nino is at the dentist. Adrien waits until they are seated at their table, far away from anyone who can overhear them.

“You really like fashion, don’t you?” Adrien asks, cupping his chin with his hand. Marinette blinks at him, and stops unwrapping her sandwich.

“I don’t understand what you mean,” she says, looking down at her outfit. It’s the same as always…a blouse, a blazer, and skinny jeans.

“I’m not talking about your bodyguard uniform,” Adrien says, dismissively. “I know you just wear that to blend in. But earlier, when you were talking to Rose. It seems you really have an interest in it? You had no trouble with our assignment, either.”

Marinette fidgets, looking uncomfortable, and Adrien knows he’s onto something.

“Is that why you took the job from my father? It can’t have been easy, relocating to Paris on your own, especially at our age.”

She sighs, looking down at her food, determined not to crack. Adrien decides to play dirty, and grabs her bag from under the table.

“What are you doing, sir?!” she hisses, making a grab for it, but he moves his chair back out of reach and pulls the notebook from her bag. It’s pink, which surprises him, because it’s not a colour he has ever seen his bodyguard wear, and he flips it open. His eyes take in the pages upon pages of intricate designs, with notes in the margins, and fabric swatches taped to the paper.

Marinette stands up and snatches the book from him, clutching it to her chest. Her face burns, and for the first time, she looks like a normal teenager.

“I’m sorry…” Adrien says, ducking his head. “That was really rude of me... you’re really talented…”

Marinette jams the book back in her bag, and looks like she wants to leave. But he knows she can’t. She slumps back into her seat, and takes a half-hearted drink of her orange juice.

“I wanted to be a fashion designer, okay?” she finally says, embarrassed. “It was my dream, when I was younger. My father is French: I have dual-nationality. They used to run a bakery here, but when the financial crash hit, they lost everything. We moved back to China, to live with my mother’s family. I needed to support them, so I went for the job that paid the most.”

“Marinette…” Adrien’s eyes grow wide at this sudden outpouring of his bodyguard’s past.

“Like I said before, your father paid more than I was earning in Beijing. But when I saw the job required going to university to study fashion…even the business side of it, I couldn’t say no.”

“You’re still young,” Adrien says, reaching for her hand. His bodyguard flinches, but she doesn’t pull away. “After four years, you’ll have a degree and I’m sure you’ll have send enough money home to your family. Maybe then, you can pursue your own dream?”

“It’s not just sending money home,” Marinette explains. “I want to buy the bakery back for them. They miss Paris.”

Adrien grins, and places a kiss against her knuckles. “You’re amazing, buginette. Do you know that?”

“It’s what any daughter would do,” Marinette shrugs, taking back her hand.

“I guess I’m a bad son, then,” Adrien says, picking at his salad. “I don’t want to take over the business.”

“What?” his bodyguard seems genuinely shocked.

“I prefer languages over fashion business studies,” he explains. “But I had to compromise, or my father would never have agreed to let me come to university at all. I want to be a translator or something. I’ve worked in fashion since I can remember, but it doesn’t interest me.”

Marinette regards him with horror, as if he had just admitted to being a cannibal.

“Wait, I have an idea,” Adrien smirks, leaning forward so they’re almost nose-to-nose. “Marry me, Mari. Then you can inherit the business, design for my dad, and be so filthy rich you can buy whatever bakery you want. Hell, buy a chain of them.”

His bodyguard pushes him away lightly, a finger on his nose.

“Are you seriously asking me to marry you for your money, sir?”

“Well, for love too, of course,” Adrien winks.


They’re walking back to the SUV, Adrien idly texting Nino to tease him about his root canal when it happens. There’s a roar of an engine and a scream behind them. The blonde doesn’t even have time to react: Marinette uses the whole force of her body to shove him out the way. He falls back, onto the grass, his phone flying out of his hand. He hears the screech of brakes and the sound of the impact, and he’s not sure if he’s screaming too, because he’s winded and scrambling to get back on his feet.

People are running, and someone shouts, “Call an ambulance!”

“Marinette!” Adrien stumbles towards her, barely noticing the motorcycle on its side a few feet away, the rider surrounded by a crowd. She’s lying awkwardly on the concrete, as if she’s landed funny, and there’s blood trickling from her hairline.

“Shit,” Adrien’s phone is smashed on the ground. He begs a nearby student for his mobile, but the guy is already talking to 112.

The model falls down on his knees beside her, wishing now he’d taken a first aid class of some kind, because he has no idea what to do. Suddenly Rose is pushing him out of the way, and she checks Mariette’s mouth.

“She’s breathing,” Rose says, and she gently rolls the bodyguard onto her side. She tilts Marinette’s chin and adjusts the girl's hand to rest under her face. Adrien tugs off his jacket and covers her, his hands shaking.

“She’ll be okay,” Rose reassures him. He nods, unable to speak, and moments later, moves out the way so the medical staff can check her over. Rose pats his back as they load Marinette into the ambulance, and he numbly tries to climb in the back when one of the staffers stops him.

“He’s the boyfriend,” Rose explains, and they nod, allowing him in.


It’s agony, the waiting. He calls Nathalie and she arrives with strong coffee that he can’t drink.

“Where’s father?” Adrien asks.

“He’ll try and come by,” Nathalie says. “I’m sure she’ll be fine, Adrien. It was just a knock, by the sounds of it.”

“She was run over by a motorbike!” Adrien protests, on his feet. “She pushed me out the way!”

“Adrien…” Nathalie says, slowly. “That’s her job.”

The blonde shakes his head, feeling sick. His back is bruised from where he hit the ground but he refuses to be checked over.

A doctor approaches them and Adrien swallows, dreading the bad news.

“You’re Marinette’s boyfriend?” he asks, and Adrien nods, ignoring the shocked look on Nathalie’s face. “Come this way, you can see her now.”


“Marinette!” Adrien rushes to her side and doesn’t even try and contain the tears in his eyes. Her head is bandaged and she has scrapes and bruises on her face. There are drips and machines and it brings back memories that make bitterness bloom on his tongue. She looks tiny in the bed, like a doll.

“You’re okay, sir?” she says, her blue eyes alert and running over his body. “Thank goodness.”

It’s the first true smile Adrien’s ever seen from Marinette, and it makes the tears well up and his stomach turn over.

“You idiot,” he scolds, leaning down to kiss her cheek. “Of course I am, you made sure of that.”

“Your father?” Marinette asks, looking concerned.

“He’s been told. I’m sure he’ll be pleased that you lived up to your reputation,” Adrien says bitterly, dragging a seat beside her. He wants to hold her hand, but it’s covered in bandages, so he grips the bed rail.

“Adrien,” she says, and he jumps. It’s the first time she’s used his name, and it sounds so intimate and strange. “Don’t be like that. This is what a bodyguard does.”

“I didn’t sign up for a girl taking the fall for me,” he grumbles.

“Sexist,” Marinette coughs.

“I’m not!” Adrien flushes. “I know you’re stronger than me, princess! It doesn’t mean I have to be happy about you ending up in hospital because of it!”

“Shh,” Marinette says, wincing. “My head is sore.”

“Sorry!” Adrien gasps, abashed. “Do you want me to get you anything?”

She shakes her head, immediately wincing at the action. Adrien chews his lip and leans over, gently stroking her hair. He waits for her rebuke, but she simply sighs and closes her eyes.

 

 

Chapter Text

His father visits the next day. Adrien has barely left Marinette’s side, though the nurses do occasionally kick him out, sending him the hospital café to eat and drink. They’ve all enamoured by the famous model, and they giggle about his good looks in the nurses stations, occasionally plucking up the courage to ask for his signature on a magazine he’s featured in.

Marinette is sleeping when his father enters the room. Adrien looks up at his arrival, but doesn’t move his hand, which is covering his bodyguard’s.

“I’ve spoken to the doctor,” Gabriel says, no preamble whatsoever as he stands at the foot of the bed. His eyes rove over his son’s hand before turning to his face. “Mme Dupain-Cheng should be out in around two weeks time. She just needs plenty of rest.”

Adrien nods. He had gathered as much from the nurses’ conversations. There was concussion and some broken bones, but Marinette had been incredibly lucky.

“Of course, she’s in not fit state to be your bodyguard.”

“Yeah,” Adrien agrees. “About that. I don’t want Marinette to protect me anymore.”

“Oh?” Gabriel says, a small smile tugging at his lips. “Are you giving up university already?”

Adrien shrugs. “If this is the only way I can do it, I don’t want it. I don’t want Marinette to be in danger again.”

His father pats his shoulder, the gesture awkward. “Very well. You’ve made the right decision, son. I’ll arrange it. We’ll compensate her for the accident, of course.”

Adrien nods dumbly. Marientte will be happy. After all, she won’t need to deal with his pretty boy problems anymore, and no doubt his father will reward her handsomely for deterring his further education. It’s a win-win.


He doesn’t anticipate Nino’s reaction.

“You’re dropping out?” the boy’s jaw drops. Adrien had asked if he could meet them both, first to fill them in one Marinette’s condition, but also to explain the situation. The Gorilla sits at nearby table, and luckily his friends haven’t realised they’re linked in anyway.

“Yeah,” Adrien scratches his head. “It’s just not for me, you know? I’m going to work with my father instead.”

“So what, now you’ll go back to modelling?” Alya asks, stirring her latte.

“I guess, in-between the business side of things.”

“You’re a terrible liar, Adrien,” Nino snorts. The blonde swallows, clenching his fits on his knees. “I’ve seen how you light up during Mandarin. Hell, it’s just an elective for me, and most of it goes over my head, but you really get into it, you know? But I’ve never seen you show a whit of interest during any fashion class.”

He opens his mouth, unable to deny it.

“What’s Marinette saying about this?” Alya asks. She gapes at his panicked expression. “You haven’t told her?!”

“She sleeps a lot at the moment,”Adrien explains, fiddling with packets of sugar, scrunching them between his fingers until the paper wrinkles. “There hasn’t been a right time.”

Then a thought hits him like a blow to the chest. She won’t be able to attend the university anymore. He thinks of the carefully stuck swatches in the pink notebook, and guilt whooshes through him.

“Well, I think you’re being an A-class idiot,” Nino says, rolling his shoulders. “You can still take over the ropes once you graduate, right? There’s no real rush now. Besides, being a student isn’t about studying, man. You really want to work for the next forty years?”

The very thought makes Adrien shudder. He’s been doing modelling jobs since he could toddle, but the thought of suddenly doing that full-time without any other outlet makes him feel nauseous.

“Adrien,” Alya says gently. “You’re not a kid any more. There are options, you know. It’s not like you’re short of cash. Why don’t you just move out?”

He blinks. It’s something he’s never even considered, if he’s honest. After the loss of his mother, his father was all he had left. There was no extended family, and apart from Nathalie and the Gorilla, he didn’t have anyone close to him (though they were paid for the pleasure).

“You could do it, man! The dorms I’m in are right on campus. Sure, it’s not the luxury that you’re used to, but it’s freedom.”

Adrien flinches at the thought of telling his father. He’s never rebelled in his life before. Gabriel would never hit him, but his cold words are just as hurtful. Adrien doesn’t care about things like inheritance, but he wants some semblance of a family.

“I don’t think I could,” he says weakly, and the sugar packet finally tears, white granules spilling onto his plate.


When he returns to the hospital, Marinette is sitting up in bed. She’s the most alert he’s seen her, and she places her phone down in her lap when he enters the room. Her face is a conflict of emotion: anger and confusion.

“They’ve told you?” Adrien sighs, slumping into a chair.

“Yes,” she says, frowning. “I don’t understand. Why do you want to quit now? The accident could have happened anywhere.”

“It’s not because it happened on campus,” Adrien explains. “It’s because you were hurt. I don’t want that to happen again.”

Realisation dawns on her face. “You don’t want to quit, do you? You just don’t want me as your bodyguard anymore.”

“It’s not as simple as that!” Adrien protests, leaning forward and gripping the bed rail. “I love having you as my bodyguard! You have no idea how much freedom you’ve given me! I’ve made friends, I’ve been able to mingle with people my own age…it’s everything I always dreamed of…”

“Then why?” Marinette asks, confusion sitting prettily on her features.

Adrien swallows. “I thought you were dead. When I heard the impact, and the screams…I thought you were dead, princess! And I never want to feel like that again.”

Marinette’s face flushes with anger. “Don’t you get it? I’m a bodyguard—that’s my job! Even if it’s not you, I’ll always be protecting someone else! I’ll always put my life on the line. The same way the police, and fire-fighters, and soldiers do! It’s no different, sir. You can’t just wrap humans in cotton wool!”

Adrien rocks back at her outburst. His heart quivers at her fury, directed solely at him.

“My father tried to wrap my mama in cotton wool,” he says softly, his knuckles tightening so that that the veins on his hand pops. “Then she died of cancer anyway.”

Marinette blinks at the sudden confession. “I’m sorry.”

“Maybe you’re right,” Adrien reflects. “Maybe I’m just being silly. I guess I’m more like my father than I thought.”

He starts when Marinette places her hand over his and gives a light squeeze.

“I know I maybe don’t show it, but I like being your bodyguard, sir.”

If he wasn’t already swaying, it’s the final push. Adrien ducks her gaze, blushing, and clears his throat. “I’ll speak to my father. On one condition…”

“I’m not teaching you karate,” Marinette says flatly, and he chuckles.

“Not that,” the model grins. “You have to call me Adrien.”

She hesitates, the struggle clear with the professionalism engrained on her soul, like emblem of her military school on her sweater on the first day they met.

“Fine…but not in front of your father.”


Alya and Nino visit the hospital the next day, to celebrate the good news. It helps to distract him from the frigid disappoint of his father’s reaction, but at the very least, he doesn’t block the decision.

“Hey man, are you going to come back to classes now?” Nino teases, since Adrien hasn’t attended one since the accident.

“Ehh…I have a little bit of PTSD,” he says awkwardly, and his friends take the wooden lie for embarrassment, and thankfully say no more on the matter.

It’s a relief when Marinette is finally released. Adrien realises he’s missed her presence in the mansion: bumping into her on the stairs, or seeing her in the gym, or spotting her crazy concoctions in the fridge.

She still has to rest for a week before she’s officially allowed to return to work, and the model makes the point of spending as much time as possible with her. Their lecturers have helpfully been emailing their notes and tutorial work, so they sit together in the house’s library, eating the strange snacks Marinette’s parents have sent from China, and working on projects together. Gabriel operates a strict no visitors rule, so they Skype with Alya and Nino to catch up on gossip (one student has already had a mental breakdown near a deadline and another was violently sick after drinking three cans of Red Bull in one go).

Although Adrien would never be thankful for the accident, it is nice to spend some time one-on-one with her. Not that they’re ever really completely alone in the mansion, what with cleaners and cooks, and Nathalie often bursting into the room unexpectedly as if hoping to catch them at something other than studying (not that he’s adverse to the notion…)

They have become more relaxed around each other, and although Marinette calls him “sir” around the mansion, when it’s just the two of them in the library, she uses his name with barely any effort at all. What’s even more wonderful is when they speak in Chinese together; Adrien is delighted to discover that Marinette’s Beijing accent is similar to his old teacher’s, meaning there is no difficulty in understanding her. Sometimes she’ll use slang, which throws him off, or she’ll speak too fast and he’ll splutter with laughter, unable to keep up.

“I never imagined young Parisians would have any interest in Mandarin,” Marinette admits, as she flicks through their textbook.

“It was my father’s choice. He wanted me to learn the most spoken languages in the word, and I had a better affinity for Chinese than Spanish.”

“And English?” Marinette asks, switching flawlessly to an American accent.

“It’s okay,” Adrien says, his accent clearly more influenced by British learning. “I can manage.”

“This stuff is really far too easy for you,” Marinette says, slipping back into French. “It’s too basic for your level.”

“It was the only course that offered Chinese with fashion and business,” Adrien shrugs, closing his dictionary. “English was more popular. It’s worth it, just to study it at all. I’m sure they’ll crank it up a notch next year.”

Marinette nods, before teasing him mercilessly about his half-hearted attempt at designing an eco-friendly raincoat.

“This is just a sheet with holes cut out for the head and arms,” she giggles.

“A poncho,” Adrien corrects, sly.

“There’s no hood!” Marinette stabs at the piece of paper with her finger.

“They can use an umbrella?” Adrien offers, and she shakes her head at him in disbelief.

“You’re going to bomb this class.”

“That’s the plan,” he grins, revealing pearly whites. “Father can’t really take such a failure into his company, can he?”


Marinette slowly eases back into exercise, to strengthen her muscles again. She attends physio every couple of days, not realising she has a faithful shadow tailing her from the rooftops.

Adrien is shocked when she asks him to be her sparring partner. “I’m not sure this is a great idea…” he manages to gulp, just before Marinette slams him onto the mat. The blonde knows he should be annoyed that she’s still stronger than him, even when healing, but instead he finds her attraction even more overwhelming.

When Marinette realises Adrien clearly isn’t going to put up much of a fight because he’s afraid to hurt her (there’s still bandages around her right arm and her hip) they end up rolling around on the mat like kittens. It doesn’t take long for Marinette to have the model pinned below her, his wrists above his head and the iron grip of her thighs keeping his legs together. Her face is pink with her exertion, a giggle bubbling from her lips as she regards his helplessness. Her pink sports bra does nothing to hide the sheen of her skin, the damp, dark hair clinging to her neck and her flat, toned stomach.

“This isn’t karate,” Adrien complains, trying to ignore the building tension in his gut, the flutter of something stirring in his boxers. He’s ever so grateful for the baggy black sweats he’s wearing, the thick cotton doing wonders to mask to growing problem in his pants.

Marinette is blissfully unaware of his discomfort as she grins down at him, removing one hand with ease, still able to keep him restrained, as she sweeps the hair from out of her eyes. Adrien swallows, his gaze skirting over the defined muscle in her arm at the movement. The arm that could easily wrap around his head and choke him. Though, if he were allowed to pick his demise, he would much prefer being suffocated by Marinette’s silky, strong thighs.

The thought makes his body clench and suddenly his problem is so much more pressing. He gasps, started by the sound because he didn’t give his mouth permission to do such a thing. Adrien tries to wrench his arms free, with the intent of fleeing this situation, right now.

Marinette is caught off guard by his sudden attempt at escape, and she loses her balance, falling forward onto his body, her free hand slapping down on his sweat-soaked t-shirt to try and right herself.

But the damage is done, her hips pressed against his.

Her eyes widen, and Adrien lets out a whine of mortification. It takes all his self-control not to buck into the warmth of her body.

“Really?” she asks, stunned.

“Please get off me,” he begs, when she just stares in shock.

Marinette complies, releasing his wrists and tumbling onto the mat. She coughs and stands up, wiping herself down with a towel. Adrien takes deep, shuddering breaths because while he’s had erections before, he’s never experienced a public one and he’s certainly never had it pressed into a girl he likes. A girl that no doubt thinks he’s a pervert and gets off on being dominated.

Oh, God…

“Sorry, I wasn’t thinking…” Marinette says, scuffing the floor with her workout shoes. “I forgot how…adrenaline could do that.”

Adrien closes his eyes in shame, scrubbing his face with his hands. He can only imagine the reason why Marinette knows that. Since she’s only referred to protecting female charges before, he’s not sure if it’s her personal life she’s referring to. For some reason, that makes him feel worse.

She leans down next to him, patting his back. “I went to military school. There’s nothing I haven’t seen before, trust me.”

“I’m glad one of us is used to it,” he grits out, desperately trying to think of anything but the girl’s warmth behind him.

“Perhaps I should leave first,” she says, placing a towel around his neck, before quietly slipping out of the gym. He dabs at his face, and catches a whiff of her scent. He wonders if the towel was some sort of permission as he groans, collapsing backwards onto the mat. There’s no way he can stand, never mind make it to his room in time.

Adrien inhales the fragrance on the towel as his hand glides down his sweats. They’re alone in the mansion, and Marinette sure isn’t returning anytime soon, so he allows their tussle to replay in his mind as he touches himself, imagining another hand in his place. The tension pools in his stomach and he bites the corner of the towel so as not to make a sound as he jerks, the ghost touch of Marinette’s body lingering on his skin. He’s taken aback by the intensity and quickness of it, and in the aftermath he is wrecked, emotionally and physically. He shuffles back to him room, glad to make it without bumping into a certain someone, and shucks his sweats, sighing as he turns on the shower.

As he washes, Adrien overthinks Marinette’s casual line about military school. He wonders what exactly she means by it, and tortures himself with thoughts of built and manly martial artists. He’s rather weedy in comparison, he thinks, appraising himself in the mirror.

There’s only one thing that can make him feel better now, and after drying off, Adrien clenches the silver ring on his hand. “Claws out!”

Chapter Text

Six months ago, the little black box had appeared in his room. He almost hadn’t spotted it, perched on the middle of the low table, a note tucked underneath.

At first, Adrien thought it was a fan present. Sometimes they were sent to the office, and Nathalie would drop them off. He opened the box first; curious at the red design he recognised to be Chinese.

He was puzzled at the silver ring. It seemed a strange thing for someone to give him, and he took it out, examining it closely. It was chunky but plain, and he had slipped it on his middle finger, surprised that it fit.

Adrien had next examined the plain white card under the box. In a slopping script, ‘claws out!’ was written, and then there was a telephone number on the other side.

“Claws out?” the model had read aloud, and next thing he knew, the green magic was surrounding him.

Terrified of being caught, Adrien had panicked, and clambered out of his window to the roof, dialing the number frantically on his phone.

“Lucky Charm massages, how can I help?” asked a chirpy, accented voice.

“Oh, sorry, I think I have the wrong number…” Adrien had gasped, his voice squeaky.

“Oh, it’s you,” the man had replied, his voice changing, sounding relieved. “You received the ring?”

“What is going on?” Adrien had demanded.


The six months has flown by, Chat Noir reflects, as he swings across the familiar Parisian skyline. The blonde relished his newfound freedom as Chat Noir, but since the arrival of his new bodyguard, it was almost impossible to sneak out anymore. He could only really escape when everyone was in bed.

He still wasn’t sure what he was supposed to ‘be ready’ for, but Adrien had watched enough superhero movies to know what responsibility came with a suit like this. Crime was rife in Paris after hours, so he spent a lot of time breaking up fights, robberies and the occasional threat of terror. He knew something was missing, though. Master Fu clearly had a plan he was keeping to himself for the moment.

After an hour of fresh air, Chat feels better, and decides he best return to the mansion. He is close, when he spots Marinette down below, in her civilian clothes (skinny jeans and a blazer). He curses, realising that if his bodyguard has already left, it means Nathalie and the Gorilla are now home, so he has about fifteen minutes before someone raps on his bedroom door.

Despite the urgency, Chat lingers, watching as Marinette crosses the street to stop outside a building. It’s boarded up, and from this angle, he can see it was a boulangerie. There's a 'for sale' sign. It doesn’t take long to make the connection.

Before he can think twice, he’s extended his baton, and touches down beside his bodyguard. She whirls round, immediately in a defensive pose, which makes him chuckle. Her eyes grow wide as she takes in his suit, and she steps back a little in shock.

“Good evening, mademoiselle,” Chat dips in a bow. “Are you lost?”

Marinette blinks at him, and then tilts her head. She seems different when she’s not on duty: more open and relaxed. “Who are you?”

“Ahh! Don’t you recognise me?” he gasps, pressing a hand to his heart. “Chat Noir, the hero of Paris, at your service.”

He takes her hand in a kiss, but she scowls and pushes him away with a finger to his nose. Chat wobbles, off-balance, and she laughs at him. It’s a wonderful sound.

“Ahh, you’re Chat Noir? Sorry, I’ve been abroad for a while, I’m a bit out of touch…”

“I see…” Chat acts dumb. He looks towards the shut-up shop. “I don’t think this bakery is open anymore, sadly. Were you looking for someone?”

“Mmm…” Marinette clasps her hands behind her back. “I used to live here. I just wanted to look.”

Chat wiggles his brows. “The view is much better from the top, mademoiselle.”

She sighs with nostalgia. “Yes, the balcony. I used to love it up there. It was like a different world…”

Chat takes a breath, then slides closer to her, offering his hand. His pulse burns as he finds the words: “If you would like, I could take you…?”

She looks at him, really looks at him this time, and her eyes are megawatt blue. Chat expects her to slap him away (in fact, he’s already preparing for the sting) so when she places her small hand in his, he has to conceal his shock.

“Up we go, then!” he grins, wrapping an around her waist (which she quickly unhooks, placing her arms around his neck instead). He tries not to puff his chest out with glee as she clings to him, and he uses his baton to propel them to the rooftop.

“Oh…” she cries out, as he easily leaps onto the balcony, setting her down and collapsing his baton. “It’s just how I remembered!”

Marinette holds onto the railing, and drinks in the view as if she needs to sear the image onto her brain. Her cheeks are flushed in delight, and Chat has to hold back the overwhelming urge to touch her (he knows how that will end for him: badly).

“It’s very purrity,” he smirks, and she rolls her eyes at his pun.

“Ahh, I needed this…” Marinette laughs, holding her arms out as if she can touch the skyline.

“Tough day?” Chat asks, glad that he didn’t say ‘hard’…he’s still trying to forget that particular incident.

“Yeah…” she reflects, leaning on her hands. “My work doesn’t allow a lot of…freedom. I miss this…”

Chat hums non-committedly, not particularly wanting to ask about her work (i.e, him). He feels guilty, however, that his own freedom has hampered hers.

“Do you plan to stay in Paris long?” he inquires. Marinette sighs and tightens her grip on the rail, rolling on the balls of her feet.

“Yes,” she replies, her eyes fixed on the horizon. “Forever…if I can.”

Chat feels his heart swell at her answer. “As much as I would love to stay and talk more, I must depart. Damsels in distress to save, you know. Can I escort you down…?”

“Marinette Dupain-Cheng,” she supplies.

“Marinette,” he curls her name around in his mouth.

“Sure,” she grins, her arms around his neck again without warning, making him blush. “Can’t keep you from your job.”

Chat picks her up and sails effortlessly down to street level. She tries to release herself from his grip too quickly and she stumbles. His arm automatically loops around her waist, catching her.

“Whoops,” she giggles. “Sorry, I’m a bit clumsy…”

Chat blinks at her, before his mouth curves into a smile. “Really?”

He’s seeing a new side of her today.


 

The next week, Adrien convinces his father to let Marinette escort him shopping. He knows she’s been itching to leave the house, and her comment about freedom has been eating away at him ever since their encounter.

“Don’t you have enough clothes?” Marinette asks, as they pull up outside one of Paris’ most exclusive boutiques, Angeliqué.

“Yes, I do,” Adrien smirks, as they walk into the shop. A smartly dressed staffer in a pale pink suit greets them at the door. “Monsieur Agreste, it’s a pleasure…”

Marinette looks around, firmly in bodyguard mode. She’s wearing a black cap, her hair in a high ponytail, along with a khaki, camouflage-print sweater and black combats and her boots. She’s not trying to blend in today, which makes sense, because they’re more likely to bump into the press in these places. She wants to make it clear who she is.

“Sir…this is a women’s boutique…” she says, clearly confused.

“That’s right,” Adrien says brightly, turning to the staffer, who has introduced herself as Amelia. “Can you please ensure no one else enters?”

“Of course, Monsieur Agreste,” she simpers, and makes to lock the door.

“The owner of this boutique and my father are old art school buddies,” Adrien explains, leading Marinette over to some ball gowns. “She has boutiques all over Paris, but this one specialises in evening wear.”

“Are you buying a gift for someone?” Marinette asks, eyeing the remaining staff warily.

“Yes,” Adrien nods, tapping her nose. “For you, princess.”

“What?” Marinette blinks and bats him away. “What are you talking about…sir?”

He laughs, knowing she had another word in mind, but she’s on her best behaviour in earshot of others. He flicks through the rack of floor length gowns while Marinette twitches beside him.

 “Consider it a bonus, for a job well done,” Adrien teases, as he touches a sapphire satin. “I’m your employer, too, right?”

“I get paid to protect you,” Marinette reminds him, her arms crossed. She frowns at him when he holds up a scarlet dress against her. “Stop it!”

“Relax,” Adrien says, touching her shoulder. “I bet you haven’t had a chance to shop since you arrived, right? Just wander around and see what catches your fancy.”

“These dresses aren’t me,” his bodyguard says firmly, glancing around the shop as though the faux fur will suddenly attack. “When on earth would I wear them?”

“Actually, now that you mention it…” Adrien grins, pointing at a framed placard near the cash desk. “Every year, we attend Madame Celesté’s charity ball. Naturally, you will be protecting me this year, instead of the Gorilla. You have no idea how difficult it was to find a tux that fit him…”

Marinette processes this information with pressed lips. “I told you before why I don’t wear dresses.”

Adrien falters. “I don’t want you to be uncomfortable…it’s just, you love fashion, so I thought you would like it here…”

His bodyguard exhales, hands on her hips. “It would need to be a cocktail dress. I can’t have lots of material hampering my legs.”

“Yes, m’am,” Adrien laughs, and he leads her to the shorter dresses. “Try on whatever you want. Take your time.”


 

Marinette doesn’t let him to see any of the dresses that she tries on, which is disappointing, but as a model he understands wanting to be seen at ones best. She at least shows him what she decides on: a simple black dress, with thin spaghetti straps, floaty at the top but then tighter at the hips.

“You need shoes, too, right?” Adrien says, leading her to the back of the boutique. “What about a bag?”

“I don’t need…” Marinette protests, but is immediately silenced by the beautiful shoes on display.

“Have you worn heels before?” Adrien worries. “Perhaps flats would be safer?”

“Don’t worry, sir, I was trained in heel-wearing,” Marinette smirks, picking up a pair of glossy stilettos. “I used to work for rich women, remember?”

“Right,” Adrien squeaks, watching as she tries on the shoes. She appraises herself in front of the mirror and even teamed with her combats, her legs look amazing.

“These will be fine,” Marinette smiles, and suddenly her mood is lifted. Adrien had no idea shoes could be so powerful. “I won’t need a bag.”

“Okay…” Adrien wants to extend the shopping trip, so he looks around wildly. “What about jewellery?”

Marinette touches the small studs that she always wears, and shakes her head. “I’m not really a flashy type of person. You’ve spent enough, sir.”

“Okay,” Adrien smiles, not wanting to push her. Amelia wraps the purchases in pink tissue and petals and pop it into a glossy bag. Marinette accepts it, and the shop is opened again.

“Thank you,” his bodyguard says, when they’ve returned to the car and they are alone again. “You really didn’t have to…”

“You’re welcome,” Adrien says gently.


 

“Dudes!” Nino greets them with obvious joy when they return to university the next week. “It’s so good to see you both!”

“How are you, girl?” Alya asks, looking Marinette up and down. “Can I hug you, or…?”

“I’m fine now, so sure,” Marinette laughs, and her friend grins and wraps her in a careful but enthusiastic hug. Adrien tries not to be jealous, and bumps fist with Nino instead.

“Do you need to borrow any notes?” Alya asks, as they head to class.

“No, we’re fine,” Adrien explains. “The lecturers were really good and emailed us everything…my father’s influence probably helped…”

“Yeah, I bet,” Nino chortles, but he claps the blonde on the shoulder to show that he’s just having fun. “Well, you’ve not really missed anything exciting…”

“Adri-chou!” suddenly he’s on the ground, an excited Chloe on top of him. “You’re back! I missed you so much—”

Then the weight lifts, Marinette easily pulling Chloe off by the back of her yellow sweater. “Do you mind?!”

“Actually, I do!” his bodyguard says, her face close to the blonde’s. “That was really dangerous! You realise you could have hurt Adrien?”

“Oh, please, I was just hugging him!” Chloe retorts, prodding Marinette in the chest. “What does it matter to you anyway?”

“Chlo, that’s enough,” Adrien interrupts, stepping in-between the two women and holding the mayor’s daughter by the wrist. “Marinette has just recovered from her injuries. Please don’t touch her like that.”

“Hmph!” Chloe rolls her eyes. “I doubt I could hurt her. Her muscles are bigger than my neck.”

“Thanks,” Marinette smirks.

“It wasn’t a compliment!” Chloe squeaks, before Adrien leads her away from the group. “Chill, Chloe. Come on, tell me the gossip.”

The distraction works, and the model puts up with ten minutes of nonsense before he makes his escape: “Oh, my lecture is starting! Got to go…”

He doesn’t resist her forceful hug this time, and he wonders why all the women in his life are so violent. With a sigh, he returns to his friends, and Nino pats him on the arm.

“She’s a handful, that one,” Alya whistles.

“You okay?” Adrien asks, as they fall behind the others. “I know you told me to let you fight your own battles, but she’s my friend, so I thought I better handle it…”

“It’s fine,” Marinette replies, as they sit down. “I was caught off-guard. I won’t let her jump on you next time.”

“Jealous, princess?” Adrien teases, unable to help it. Marinette glowers at him and grits her teeth.

“Just doing my job, pretty boy.”


 

They go to the union after their classes finish. Adrien isn’t really in the mood to drink, and of course, Marinette won’t either, so they end up commandeering the video game console and beanbags to start a tournament.

They decide on boys against girls, with the winners having to buy food.

Adrien and Nino lose the first round, so they buy nachos and cheese.

“Marinette is too good at this!” Nino complains, as they tank the second round too. “I guess they had this game in China, too?”

“Pretty sure we invented it,” Marinette laughs, eating some nachos. Adrien tries not to watch as she licks her fingers.

“Okay, we need to up the stakes!” Alya says, her eyes darting around the room. “Pool? Boxing? No…wait! The bucking bronco!”

“Does that thing even work?” Nino asks doubtfully, as they approach rubber circle in the colours of the French flag.

The music pumping from the speakers is interrupted and the current DJ’s voice crackles through: “Oh lala! Do we have some challengers for our bronco?”

“Oh great, now everyone is watching us…” Alya hisses.

“Hey, what about you, short stuff?” the DJ calls out, and Marinette bristles. She’s the smallest in the group. “If you can stay on for a minute, it's a bottle of champagne, on the house.”

“Oh really?” Marinette smirks, taking off her blazer and handing it to Adrien.

“You’re gonna do it?” he asks, despairing. Sure, the rubber will protect her if she falls, but the leather bull has seen better days. "You've just recovered! What if you..."

The music changes to Western, and Nino slaps his thighs.

“This will be good,” Alya chortles, hitting record on her phone. “Go, girl!”

Adrien watches as she strides towards the bull, shoulders squared, her lips in a fine line of determination. Another thing he’s learned about his bodyguard today: she’s competitive. He wonders if that’s why she’s one of the best in her field.

Shucking her shoes, Marinette hitches a leg over the bull. She’s almost too small to make it, and Adrien covers his eyes, unable to watch. But the mechanical whirring starts up, and he spreads his fingers. His bodyguard is holding onto the rope that’s looped around the bull’s head, and it rises up.

“Time starts…now!” the DJ hollers, and the bull begins to buck.

“She’s…good!” Nino observers, as Marinette seems relaxed, riding with each shake and jump as the machine tries to throw her off. The music grows faster and the bull becomes more aggressive, but his bodyguard gives a leisurely smile…and holds the rope loosely with one hand.

“Marinette!” Adrien shouts before he even realises what he’s doing, but the music drowns him out. Alya whoops and Nino claps, as she leans back, letting go, holding onto the bull only with her thighs.

“Err…it seems I may have overestimated the little lady…” the DJ pipes up. “That’s 40 seconds…can she make it to 60?”

Marinette does, of course, and she goes much further than that, and finally the bull shudders to a stop.

“A bottle of champagne will be waiting for you at the bar,” the DJ announces. “Please give a round of applause for our new record-setter!”

Marinette bows, and steps into her shoes. She hasn’t even broken a sweat when she reaches the group, yet Adrien can feel his t-shirt sticking to him, his hair wet at the nape of his neck.

“You killed it, girl!” Alya laughs. “You sure you can’t have one drink, thunder-thighs?”

“Let’s save it for something special,” Marinette says, elbowing her friend for her new nickname.

“You were awesome, man!” Nino grins, “you made it look too easy!”

Adrien wants to congratulate her too, but his mouth doesn’t seem to be working.

“I know, let’s have a flat party at mine this weekend,” Nino says, as they collect Marinette’s prize. “I’ve got loads of games, and you guys can crash, so you don’t need to drive, Mari. How’s that sound?”

His bodyguard looks to him, and he nods. “Sounds fun! I’ve never been to a sleepover before.”

“You poor child,” Alya winces. “We need to remedy this immediately!”

“Scary movies and face masks?” Nino ponders aloud.

“You bet,” Alya says, punching his shoulder.

“Why are women so violent these days?” Nino complains, and they jostle each other as they leave the union.

“So…was that part of your training, too?” Adrien asks. He regrets it as soon as the words leave his mouth, but can’t think of anything normal to say. He's not angry, per se, as his bodyguard clearly knew what she was doing, but the thought of seeing her injured again had made him feel physically sick.

“Well, not the broncho, but we had to hold onto logs with just our legs,” Marinette shrugs, sticking her hands in her pockets. “Usually suspended over water for a few hours. So yeah, I’ve had worse.”

Adrien blinks and tries not to think about how strong Marinette’s thighs are.

“Intense,” he mutters.

“Will your father be okay with you staying at Nino’s?” she asks.

“As long as you’re there,” Adrien replies. “You don’t mind, right? I know it’s a long day of work for you…”

“It’s fine,” Marinette smiles at him. “You know I want to work all the overtime I can.”

Adrien thinks about the bakery, and that night, he checks how much it’s listed for online. €1,100,000. It’s a hard sum to picture. He’s never had to worry about money in his life, and even his modelling pay, which now goes straight into his bank account, barely registers with him. He rarely has to put his hand in his pocket.

He realises he has no idea how much his father is paying Marinette, so he has no idea how long it will take for her to save up that much money. Frustrated, Adrien blows air through his lips. He logs into his bank account and checks the zeros. Not quite enough…yet.

 

 

Chapter Text

Group chat: #SquadGoals

Nino: So, we have a bottle of champagne to get through! You guys free this Saturday night?

Alya: YES

Adrien: Actually… Marinette have a charity ball thing to go to. Can we make it Friday? That lecture has been moved now so we finish early…

Nino: Plan. But damn, you’re taking Marinette to a ball? You really ARE such a prince, you know that?

Marinette: …

Adrien: Hey, I needed a plus one okay! Otherwise my father would set me up with some scary model…

Alya: Says Mons. Cover of Vogue magazine…

Adrien: THAT WAS ONE TIME

Nino: Okay, Friday, after class it is. Alya, sort the face packs, I’ll get the films.

Alya: Yes sir!

 


 

Adrien takes a deep breath, his fingertips grazing the handle of his father’s room. Marinette stands behind him, hands in her pockets, waiting for him. She’s agreed to the sleepover, on the condition that his father approves.

“We need to clear it with him first,” she had explained, arms folded. “Your father pays me to protect you. I can’t go against his wishes, ever.”

That one line terrifies Adrien. It’s thanks to Marinette that he is allowed a single speck of freedom these days. But now, he knows the price that has to be paid for it.

Shaking his head to clear it, Adrien grips the handle and pushes open the door. His father is sketching on his tablet, and pauses when they enter the room.

“Is everything… all right?” Gabriel asks, eyes darting between Adrien and Marinette.

“Yes, Père…” Adrien nods. “I just wanted to check something with you. My friend Nino has asked us to stay with him on Friday night. We have a project to work on, and then we’re going to watch some movies. Is that… okay?”

“Nino?” Gabriel places his pen down on the desk with a click. “Isn’t that the boy from Morocco?”

“Yes…?” Adrien frowns at his tone.

“Hmm. Will there be drugs at this gathering?”

“Père!” Adrien gasps. “You can’t just use such a blanket stereotype…!”

“How many people in attendance?” Gabriel directs this question to Marinette.

“Four, sir. I can promise there will be no consumption of drugs.”

“Alcohol?”

“Yes, but I am of legal age, you know,” Adrien grimaces. “We’re all sensible adults…”

Gabriel rolls his eyes at the word ‘adult’ before pressing his fingertips together.

“Very well. Since Marinette will be there, I cannot complain. Hourly updates, please.”

“Yes, sir,” Marinette nods swiftly, while Adrien sighs. But, at least, it is a yes.

 


He is nervous when Friday finally rolls around. Adrien isn’t sure why, since he spends most of his days with Marinette, anyway. What difference does it make, seeing her at Nino’s apartment instead of the mansion? But he knows the answer. He has never seen Marinette truly relax around him (although she had been that way around Chat Noir…) The only time he had seen her asleep was in the hospital.

Marinette drives them all to the apartment after their last lecture. The champagne is in the boot, along with some other alcohol and food that they have picked up along the way.

“Damn, girl,” Alya whistles upon seeing their ride. Nino is speechless, jaw dropped. “I didn’t have you down as a rich kid, too?”

“Yeah, well…” Marinette laughs, starting the car with ease. “I like to keep it on the down-low.”

“This.is.so.cool!” Nino bursts out, bouncing up and down in his seat. “I bet your car isn’t even this good, man!”

Adrien laughs, catching Marinette’s eye as he slides into the front seat. “I never learned to drive. My father thought it was too dangerous. He wants me to wait until I’m older.”

“Wow,” Alya blows air through her lips. “He really is overprotective. How did you convince him to let you stay tonight?”

“I told him we were working on a project,” the blonde confesses, and Nino chortles.

 


 

“Here it is, home sweet home,” Nino grins, leading them up a few flight of stairs to his place. He’s already warned Adrien that the student accommodation is basic, but the model is still shocked by how small it is. The main room has a worn, navy cloth sofa that apparently turns into a bed. There’s a small TV mounted on the wall, coated in dust. Also, a desk with an uncomfortable looking metal chair in the corner, and Nino’s Macbook, which displays his latest mix project. A red kitchenette takes up the rest of the room, containing a small fridge, a sink and a hob. There’s no oven, but Adrien doubts Nino would cook much anyway. A microwave balances on the small, white washing machine.

“You’ve cleaned,” Alya observes, dumping a bag of food on the floor, before putting the champagne inside the tiny fridge.

“It’s very…homely…” Adrien says politely, and Nino cuffs him playfully.

“It’s all I really need, to be honest,” his friend confesses. “Bathroom is in here. My bedroom is here.”

Again, Adrien is taken aback by the lack of space. The whole apartment could easily fit into his bedroom. The bathroom consists of a toilet, sink and standing shower. The bedroom has space for a single bed and a wardrobe, nothing more. Nino has decorated the walls with posters of his favourite bands.

“All right, snacks are served!” Alya calls, placing bowls of popcorn and potato chips on the desk.

“What movie should we watch first?” Nino asked, shuffling some DVDs in his hands. “Chick flick? Or horror?”

“Horror!” Alya and Marinette say at the same time, before sharing a smile. Adrien swallows.

“How scary are we talking here?” he asks, trying to sound calm. Nino immediately eyeballs him, and Alya gives a sinister grin.

“Oh dear… is our innocent cream puff scared of horror movies?”

Adrien flushes and tries to act nonchalant. “It’s not…that. I’ve just never watched them before.”

Even Marinette’s mouth opens at his confession, and Adrien feels the embarrassment coat him, like hot honey.

“Sit,” Nino orders, pushing Adrien down onto the couch. He is handed a bowl of popcorn and a glass of lemonade. Alya directs Marinette next to him, and she pulls the curtains closed while Nino slips the DVD into the slot.

“Oh, The Ring,” Marinette says, as the title scene flashes up on the screen. “I haven’t seen this in years.”

“I’ve only seen the Western version,” Alya admits, sitting on the floor, leaning her back against Marinette’s legs. “I’ve heard this one is creepier.”

“It sure is,” Nino grins, slocuhing on the metal chair. He gives Adrien a smirk before pressing play.

 


 

 Fifteen minutes later, Adrien is moaning into Marinette’s shoulder, covering his eyes. Wasn’t it just his luck, to be a complete and utter scaredy-cat?  

"We're not even at the bad part yet," his bodyguard chuckles, but she doesn't push him away. Adrien tries to be brave, but every time they play that damn tape he knows something awful is going to happen. He finds himself clinging like a child onto Marinette’s arm, his face buried into her neck so he can’t see the stupid film. Nino and Alya haven’t teased him yet, so perhaps they haven’t noticed his actions. Either way, he prefers it here. His bodyguard smells wonderful, something sweet and spicy like cinnamon, and her skin is warm and soothing. Even the noises from the movie make him feel distressed, and he swallows and shudders until Marinette’s hand is suddenly on his head. He freezes, thinking she’s about to rip him away and tell him off for being such a coward, but instead her fingers comb through his hair. Adrien slumps against her touch, able to block out the awful movie and instead focus on her breathing and the sleep-inducing movement of her hand.

Adrien is almost sad when the movie is finished, and he has to pull away from Marinette and rub his glazed eyes.

“See, not too bad, right?” Nino crows, letting light back into the room, making everyone grumble and shield their eyes.

“It was okay,” Adrien smiles, catching his bodyguard’s gaze. She rolls her eyes and helps Alya prepare the food. They heat up cheese puffs, mini pizzas and vol-au-vents in the microwave. Nino pops the champagne to applause, and pours the foamy liquid into plastic cups: “student style,” he laughs, passing Adrien a cup. The model grins. He’s had champagne plenty of times before, but never like this.

They eat and drink for a few hours, chatting about university and future plans.

 


 

 

“Okay, face mask time!” Alya beams, clapping her hands. They have polished off the food and champagne and now are onto cheap wine. “Everyone into pyjamas!”

Adrien’s heart trips over at this sudden announcement. He didn’t realise this was part of the deal. He doesn’t actually wear pyjamas, more of a ‘sleeping in his underwear’ type of guy. Luckily, he has brought a pair of comfortable black sweats and a white tank top, but he hadn’t imagined they would be lounging about in front of each other. It seems rather…intimate.

“Come in here and get changed,” Nino says, grabbing his friend and pulling him into the bedroom. Adrien is glad to see his friend’s pyjamas simply consist of baggy shorts and a t-shirt: in loud colours, of course. Nino sheds his cap and glares at Adrien’s arms.

“Dude, can’t you cover up a little? You’re putting me to shame here…”

Adrien laughs and rubs the back of his neck. “Sorry, man. I don’t even usually wear this much when I sleep…”

“Okay, enough!” Nino groans, waving him off. “I don’t need that image, thanks.”

He knocks on the door. “Are you decent?”

Alya yells back affirmative, and Adrien braces himself. Nino wolf whistles, giving Alya the thumbs up and she winks back. She’s wearing a hot pink dressing gown with long sleeves, knotted in a big bow, showing off her legs. Marinette is more conservative, in a baggy khaki sweater and grey shorts.

"Strawberry or chocolate?” Alya asks Adrien suddenly, and he’s thrown.

“Facemask, she means,” Nino laughs, lightly punching Adrien on the arm. “Part of the sacred sleepover ritual. You can’t watch a chick flick without it.”

“Um, strawberry?” Adrien asks, feeling like there isn’t a correct answer. Alya hands him the pack, and he fumbles with the packaging. He has strict skincare routine, sure, but it’s not usually him that performs it.

He watches as Marinette tears open her pack with her teeth. She’s swept her hair up into a high bun, exposing the back of her neck, and it makes him feel tingly. She clips her stray fringe to the side, and squeezes the creamy mixture into her hands before smoothing it onto her face.

“Here, model boy,” Alya laughs, handing him a green hairband. “Can’t have you getting gunk in your hair…”

“I don’t really care…” Adrien protests, but it’s too late—Nino has already tugged it over his head and swept back his hair with it.

“You look pretty,” his friend teases, and Adrien sighs, defeated.

Of course, his facemask is pink, and he glows at the product as he squeezes it onto his hands. Nino and Alya are arguing over what movie to watch next, so they miss Marinette moving over to Adrien and taking the packet from him.

“Here, let me,” she chides him, scooping the lotion from his hands and spreading it on his face. “You’re going to get it everywhere.”

Adrien blinks and lets her gently spread the mask on his skin. She looks so cute, with her hair up and the mask makes her look so young. It smells fresh, like cucumber, and he unconsciously leans closer.

Marinette continues to smooth the mask on him, his fingertips lingering over his forehead and nose, her touch leaving him dizzy. She avoids his lips, her thumbs covering his chin and round-about.

“There!” she says, satisfied, and she brings a cloth to wipe the residue off his hands. He sits obediently, like a little boy, and Marinette nods with satisfaction.

They find themselves back on the couch. Alya has won, and ‘How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,’ plays on the screen. There’s no excuse to hide against his bodyguard this time, but he’s aware of the body warmth from their arms brushing. Nino refills their cups with the cheap wine and Adrien can feel himself becoming sleepy. It’s comfortable, this little bubble they’re created, filled with laughter and friendship. Adrien can’t remember ever feeling so at ease before, or ever so warm. It feels like home. The model watches as Marinette retrieves her phone from the pocket of her shorts, and he sees a text from his father, asking for an update. Adrien sighs and drinks more wine.

They take turns in the bathroom, washing off the masks, making fun of each other’s soft skin and poking cheeks. They settle back down to watch the rest of the movie, and it’s dark now even without the curtains closed. Adrien’s hand has fallen by his side, and is suddenly trapped against Marinette’s leg when Alya squeezes onto the sofa with them. His knuckles brush her bare skin and he’s terrified to move his hand in case she thinks he’s trying something.

The film washes over him. All Adrien can focus on is the heat and softness of her leg. He curses internally as he remembers the feeling of her body trapping his, and he wonders what it would be like to run his palm down her thigh. The model swallows, growing uncomfortable in this line of thought, glad the room is so dim.

It’s only midnight when the credits roll, but everyone is sleepy already from the alcohol. Nino suggests a drinking game but Alya protests, asking if they can leave it until next time. She makes off into his bedroom, mumbling a goodnight, clearly done.

“Here, I’ll show you guys how this works,” Nino says, and they move from the sofa so he can extend it out. He takes extra pillows and blankets from the cupboard and helps Marinette make up the bed.

“Will you be okay sharing?” Nino asks, his eyebrow quirking. Marinette doesn’t react, but Adrien flushes cherry red.

“I’ll sleep on the floor,” he offers, when Nino leaves the room.

“Don’t be silly,” Marinette shakes her head. “You’ve never slept on a floor, before, have you? I’ll do it.”

“There’s no way I’m going to sleep here while you’re on the floor!” Adrien protests. He looks down at the bed, a small double now it’s extended. “There’s enough room…we could just top and tail?”

Marinette shrugs, shoving her hair away from her face. “I don’t really care.”

The words stab him more than he would like to admit.

 


 

Adrien can’t move. He lies rigid on his back, feeling every bump and bubble in the sofa-mattress. He tries to breathe normally, in through his nose, out through his mouth, but his body is buzzing with nerves. Marinette is a small lump under the covers, and though he can’t see her in the dark, he can feel her heat. He can even smell her from here, and the very thought makes him cringe. Who knew he was such a pervert? He wants nothing more than to slip his hands down his shorts and release some tension, but that would be wrong on so many levels. Even if he was sure Marinette was asleep, he would never risk it.

Adrien tries to think of anything but the woman he is sharing a bed with, but it’s impossible. The same fantasy plays in a loop on his head, that she’ll turn over and snuggle up against him, maybe even kiss him. He imagines Marinette has kissed many men. He’s a little boy in comparison, completely inexperienced, with nothing to reference but his own imagination. He has a long list of things he would love Marinette to do to him, and number one is currently pinning him to the ground with her thighs and sitting on his face…

The blonde releases a small whine, almost in pain, as his cock hardens with desire. He’s usually so much more in control than this, but the alcohol has loosened him up, has allowed the thoughts that he usually locks away to rampage in his brain. There’s only one thing for it, and he carefully and slowly pushes back the covers and plants his feet on the ground. If Marinette is sleeping, he doesn’t want to waken her.

He gently rises from the bed, but it still creaks, and the rustle lets him know she isn’t sleeping. Adrien flushes, trying to calm himself, and his back is to her when she reaches out and touches his shoulder, making him jump.

“Sorry!” Marinette gasps at his reaction. “I just wanted to check… are you okay?”

Adrien nods feverishly, then realises he isn’t even facing her. “Fine! Just…that horror movie. I can’t sleep…”

“Oh…” Marinette says, and the bed squeaks under her as she moves, drawing closer to him. The blonde flinches away, embarrassed, and his bodyguard clears her throat.

“Adrien…it’s okay…”

“No, it’s not…!” he grits out, arms wrapped around himself. The streetlights outside illuminate his figure, and it’s obvious he is tense.

Marinette sighs, and suddenly she is standing beside him. He’s aware of how small she is, yet how powerful. She could snap his neck without breaking a sweat. Adrien’s heart is already racing, and when she touches his cheek, he shudders and moves back. He's aware of her eyes on his body, raking down to where the material is bunched.

“I’m going to the bathroom,” he says, which was his original plan in the first place. He just has to jerk off, and then they can both sleep.

“Adrien,” even hearing his name on her lips is pleasurable. He pauses.

“You’ve never…?” she asks, the question hanging in the air.

“I’ve never shared a bed with a girl before,” he admits.

“Cute, but that isn’t actually what I was asking,” Marinette smirks, he voice arch.

“What, then?” Adrien demands, suddenly defensive. “No, I’ve never been kissed before, either!”

“What?” Marinette is clearly shocked, and even in the poor lighting, he can see her eyes widen.

“What?” Adrien repeats. “Isn’t that what you were asking?”

The silence hangs between them, and he feels his face burn.

“You’re a model…” Marinette speaks up finally. “I don’t understand…?”

“You know my father,” Adrien shrugs. “Dating and kissing is out of the question. No scandals allowed.”

Marinette bites her lip, and runs her hands through her hair.

“Can I go now?” Adrien asks, his voice jagged. He really needs to deal with this problem, now...!

“Wait…” Marinette grabs his shoulder. She pulls him around, and before he even has time to register how close her face is, she’s kissing him. Adrien isn’t sure his mouth is even working because he’s so stunned. But she leads, and after a few seconds, he follows. His bodyguard pushes him down onto the sofa bed and lies over him as he groans and rocks underneath her, his hands on the small of her back. She’s so warm and soft and it’s everything he hoped it would be, and when her tongue flicks into his mouth, he buckles. When she reaches down and massages him through his sweats, Adrien shivers and pants into her mouth. When his bodyguard hooks onto the waistband with a finger and allows his cock to spring free, he mind goes blissfully blank. When she wraps her hand around him and strokes him once, twice, three times, he feels the world tilt off the axis and he willingly falls from the surface.

Chapter Text

It feels like an earthquake is trapped in his bones. Adrien can’t control his body, and he flings his head back, biting down on his fist to muffle any noise. He's limbless, a soul without a string securing him to the earth.

He feels Marinette leave, and he gulps air desperately. The model can’t think straight, pieces of his mind sliding like a kaleidoscope as soon as he tries to grip a hold of them.

His bodyguard returns, and gently wipes him clean with the wet towel from before. It’s amazing what has changed between them in a mere matter of hours, from wiping his sticky hands like a mother, to acting like a lover.

“Wait…!” Adrien says hoarsely, as she stands up. Marinette looks at him, her eyes dark but giving nothing away. “Why…?”

She falters, looking away from him, and he shakily gets to his feet, adjusting his slipping sweats.

“Marinette…” he whispers, one hand touching her face, but she shrugs out of his reach.

“It was just a one-off, okay?” she tells him, clenching the towel. “Just forget about it, sir.”

“No!” Adrien protests, struggling to keep his voice low. “You’re not my bodyguard right now. There must be a reason why you did that!”

Marinette interrupts him, her blue eyes flashing. “I had a moment of weakness, okay? I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.”

She turns and leaves, closing the bathroom door firmly behind her, leaving Adrien to stand in the dark.

Marinette doesn’t return to bed that night, and Adrien curls up alone on the sofa, his stomach in knots. He runs the line over and over in his head, and every time there is a different meaning. Did Marinette feel pity for him, because he had never been kissed? But why didn’t she just stop there? Or – the reason the model is clinging onto – is she attracted to him? Like him, did she let her guard down with the alcohol, and act inappropriately?

“Oh God…” Adrien whimpers into his pillow. Why are women so complicated?


The next morning, Marinette is cool and professional with him. Nino makes them strong coffee, and Marinette assures him she is fine to drive.

“Rough night?” Alya teases. “You don’t look like you slept a wink, girl!”

Marinette freezes, her lips apart, and Adrien coughs nervously.

“That’s my fault! I snore really loudly. Sorry, Marinette.”

He smiles at his bodyguard as Nino and Alya ribs him (“We knew you weren’t perfect!”) but she simply looks away.

The drive home is awkward, as expected. Adrien is glad he doesn’t have to sit in the front of the car with Marinette. It is painful to be near his bodyguard right now, the pleasure of last night coloured by her instant rejection.

They arrive at the mansion, and the model wishes he can clear the air.

“Wait…” he begs, as she unlocks the doors. “We have the charity ball tonight. Can’t we talk? I don’t want it to be difficult for us…”

His bodyguard catches his eye in her mirror. “There’s nothing to discuss, sir. Please just forget it.”

“I can’t!” Adrien gasps, unsnapping his seatbelt and holding onto the back of her chair. “Just tell me, please! Was it because you felt sorry for me? If that’s the reason, I would rather you had never touched me!”

“Adrien…” Marinette bites her lip and looks away. “Honestly…you really have no idea…”

“What?” the model asks, but he can’t see her face, so he slams open his door and climbs into the front seat. Marinette turns away from him, hands clenched on the wheel.

“Princess…” he says softly, touching her shoulder. “What’s wrong? I won’t tell my father, if that’s what you are worried about…”

“It’s not that…” his bodyguard says, finally looking at him directly. Her cheeks are flushed, and her eyes bright. “You really have... no idea, do you?”

She climbs out of the car, slamming the door, closing the conversation, and the model thunks his head against the dashboard.


 

Adrien has never looked forward to a ball before. It’s usually just another excuse for his father to put him on display in the latest season’s line, like a breathing mannequin. But this time, Marinette will be accompanying him.

He waits eagerly at the bottom of the stairs, his hands constantly smoothing over his fitted grey suit. His father’s design compliments him in the way it was created solely for him, and although he doesn’t enjoy playing the model, it’s comforting to know he isn’t lacking in the looks department. A jade, skinny tie sits flat against his white dress shirt, and Adrien can already feel the perspiration stick to the cotton under his arms.

“Sorry I’m late…” Marinette appears at the top of the stairs, immediately disarming him. He’s seen the dress on the hanger, but nothing prepares him for how it looks on his bodyguard. She’s worn skimpy clothing before, during workouts, but this is a different beast entirely. The little black dress clings to her hips and if Adrien hadn’t been the one to buy it, he would assume it had been created just for her.

Marinette is small, but her legs are incredibly long in comparison to the rest of her body. They look ridiculously toned in her black stilettos. Adrien’s heart catches in his throat as she walks down the stairs, but she doesn’t miss a step, clearly comfortable in the heels. They give her enough height that she reaches his nose, and he feels troubled by the change.

“Ready to go?” Marinette asks. She is bare of jewellery, save the little stud earrings, and it only serves to highlight the clash of her pale skin against the black silk. Her hair is loose and wavy down her back, and her make-up has matured her. Adrien was always intimidated by his bodyguard, but now he almost has to take a step back. Her blue eyes are piercing under the smoky makeup and her lips glossy and red.

“Sir?” she asks, and he nods sharply, as if slapped.


They travel in the limo with Nathalie and Gabriel, so there is little talk as the Gorilla drives. His father’s cologne is so strong and giving him a headache, and Adrien wishes he could bury his face into Marinette’s neck. She sits primly beside him, hands fisted on her bare knees, clearly not used to her exposed attire.

The Gorilla pulls up to the front of the hotel, and Nathalie steps out, holding the door open for Gabriel. She is also wearing a long black ball gown, but her glasses and stern hairstyle remains.

Adrien slides out the limo carefully, aware of how fitted his suit is. One wrong move could result in a split seam, and wouldn’t that be perfect for the awaiting paparazzi? Marinette stands to his side, arms crossed, appraising the crowds, a mixture of photographers and fashion fans hoping to glimpse the real models that adorn their walls and magazines.

Gabriel glides by, ignoring the screaming fans begging for a photograph. Nathalie rolls her eyes at them and follows behind him, heels clicking smartly. Adrien pauses to sign some posters, aware of the many hours they have probably waited. He poses for a few photos, resulting in shrieks and sobs, and he’s glad for a moment that these girls are at least easy to understand. Marinette stands close behind him, scanning the crowd for…what, he’s not exactly sure, but she knows what she’s looking for.

“Sorry guys, I better go in,” Adrien smiles sympathetically at the disappointed faces and hands still clutching for him. “Madame Celesté won’t appreciate late arrivals!”

He finally breaks free and walks towards the hotel with a final wave. Marinette sticks to his side, her face carefully blank. She’s ignored the questions from the journalists, and it’s clear from their body language that this is a business relationship, nothing more. There is tangible disappointment in the air: there will be no exclusive scoop tomorrow about Adrien Agreste’s new beau.

“Sorry, that took longer than I thought it would,” Adrien apologises, noticing the stony look on his bodyguard’s face. She opens her mouth to reply, but then something flashes across her face, and suddenly, she’s pulling him close. It happens so quickly that Adrien barely has time to react, one of her hands cradling his head against her chest, the other gripping his shoulder and pulling him down with her. They hit the ground, Marinette taking the brunt of the force on her bare knees, and for a moment the model thinks she has lost her mind.

Then the hotel explodes.


The sound is so loud, there is no noise at all, only vibrations. Marinette is protecting him with her body, the hand under his crown saving him from a nasty knock on the concrete. Her body is flush against his, but Adrien feels strangely detached from the situation. His face is still against Marinette’s chest, so he can’t see anything, but now he can feel intense heat from the burning hotel prickling the top of his ears. His arms wrap around Marinette, trying to check if she’s okay. She flinches at his touch, and he feels instant relief. She’s alive. He rubs her back reassuringly, and she loosens her grip. Adrien rolls them carefully onto their sides, and he blinks, ash catching on his eyelids. Marinette coughs, and he notices the black streaked across her face, the gash on her arm from taking his weight in the fall.

“I'll need to get you a new dress,” Adrien tries to joke, because what else is there to do in this situation? But he can’t speak. Or perhaps he is deaf? He swallows and tries not to cry. Marinette is hurt and he needs to get her to safety. His fingers skirt over her body, checking for injuries, and he realises her dress is wet with blood. He clutches the ring on his hand, hoping he can transform even if he can’t speak, but the green light does not come. Marinette’s eyes widen and her lips part in warning but he’s suddenly dragged to his feet.

The noise rushes back, as if someone has turned the volume dial in his mind to maximum. Sirens scream in the distance, and the hotel blazes merrily, parts of the structure crumbling around them.

“It’s him, that designer’s son!” the person hauling him to his feet shouts.

“Take him with us,” another voice yells. “But we need to leave, NOW!”

Adrien struggles like a newborn kitten, unable to fight the hands pulling at him. Marinette staggers to her feet, screaming his name, but a nearby masked man grabs her too. And then his world goes black once more.


When Adrien awakes, the first thing he does is frantically check that the silver ring is still on his finger. The weight of it calms him, and he realises he’s been stripped of his suit jacket. The shirt sticks to him with sweat and dirt, smoke clinging to him like a secret. His head pounds, and he can feel the lump on his head, even if he can't reach up and touch it.

“Oh you’re awake, pretty boy,” the same voice that grabbed him from earlier is suddenly in front of him. He rips the blindfold from Adrien’s eyes, and the blonde squints at the sudden light. His kidnapper is surprisingly dressed in coat-tails, his brown hair slicked back. They’re in the back of a van.

“Had to look the part to get a job in that place,” he winks at Adrien. “How’s your head? I’m afraid a dry-clean isn’t going to get those stains out.”

“Did you blow up the hotel?” Adrien demands, and it hurts to talk.

“Well, not personally, but yes, I was involved,” the man smiles, revealing perfect teeth that he’s clearly invested a lot of money in.

“Why?” Adrien asks. His father, Nathalie, Madame Celesté… he has no idea if they have survived. The thought of losing his remaining parent makes him see red and he rears up on his chair, making two men jump up and restrain him.

“Woah, there,” Perfect Teeth laughs. “Don’t wear yourself out, Monsieur Agreste. It’s going to be a long night. Or should I say, morning.”

“Morning?” Adrien repeats, forced to sit back down. The restraints keeping his hands behind his back are tightened, and they wrap duck tape round his ankles, securing them to the chair legs.

“Indeed,” Perfect Teeth smirks. “Shall I fill you in? Last night, the French Patriots blew up the charity ball in aid of refugees. Total casualties are over one hundred. Deaths yet to be confirmed.”

“The French Patriots?” Adrien spits. He has never heard of them, but it didn’t sound good.

“Yes,” Perfect Teeth says, rolling back his shirt sleeve to reveal the French flag, adorned with golden stars. “Our aim is to return France back to her people. To rid her of the bloated tumour sucking the life from her.”

“You’ve lost me,” Adrien frowns.

“The refugees, pretty boy,” Perfect Teeth leers, rapping his knuckles against the model’s forehead. “You may not notice up in your ivory tower, but they’re sucking this country dry, like leeches.”

“So you blew up the hotel because the ball was in aid of refugees? “Adrien asks, dumbstruck.

“Exactly,” Perfect Teeth nods. “That money should be going back into our economy, not their pockets.”

“My God,” Adrien shakes his head. This was not what he expected to be dealing with. His thumb rubs against his ring, as if stroking a magic lamp.

“And you are going to be our new poster boy,” Perfect Teeth laughs, ruffling the blonde’s hair. “You are exactly what inspires Parisians. Beauty, fashion and wealth.”

Adrien raises his eyebrow. “I’m not exactly in a fit state to model right now.”

“Oh, we’ll fix you up, don’t worry,” Perfect Teeth smirks. “We have our own make-up artist and everything.”

"A shower might be a better idea?” Adrien suggests, hoping to free his hands.

“Nice try, Monsieur Agreste. But you won’t be leaving this chair.”


Adrien has experienced some bizarre situations in his modeling career, but nothing quite topped being sponge-bathed by terrorists for a press conference. He isn’t exactly sure what they want him to say (he supposed they would threaten him with the old cliché, do or die) but there’s no way in hell he will speak on behalf of them. As soon as he can, he’ll transform, secret identity be damned. Paris is bigger than him. Hell, France is bigger than him.

Someone finds him a clean shirt, though it’s a size too big, so they tuck it into his suit pants (his lower body isn't going to be on screen, apparently, so it doesn’t matter that they are torn and dirty). The make-up artist is more like a racist who happened to own a brush and some powder, and she combs out his hair as if it has personally insulted her.

He has to wait until the cameras start rolling, Adrien decides. They will have to free his hands to make his speech sound convincing (though reading off cards held up by one of Perfect Teeth’s lackeys was sure going to sound stilted anyway). Yes, it means Chat Noir will be broadcast live on air, but if the people didn’t need a superhero now, when would they?


An hour later, Adrien is tiring fast, but they are almost ready. His face stiffens as the camera phone is shoved near his face, and Perfect Teeth gives him a light smack on the cheek.

“Remember, Monsieur Agreste, we want smiles, or we’ll inject you with this lovely little drug that will make you sing like a bird.”

Adrien nods, clenching and unclenching his fingers. As soon as he has claws, Perfect Teeth is going to earn some new stripes.

Suddenly, there’s a scuffle outside the van, and he hears a familiar voice call his name.

“Marinette!” he gasps, unable to believe it. She found him! The ‘makeup artist’ has already started to unravel his bindings and he pulls his hand forward. His bodyguard cries out in pain and he growls, bringing his ring up to his chest. “Claws out!”

The toxic green light fills the van, blinding the remaining occupants. Chat wastes no time in slicing through the tape at his ankles. He bats the camera phone to the floor, glad they hadn't started recording yet. He doesn’t crush it. Perhaps the police can use it later. Extending his baton, he barrels out of the van and takes in the scene. Marinette, still in the black dress but minus the heels, is wrestling with one of the thugs. Perfect Teeth grabs her by the hair, but gets no further, as Chat rakes his claws across his face. He takes satisfaction in the terrorist’s screams.

“You!” Marinette gasps upon seeing him. She’s wobbling, her makeup smudged into the ash, her hair a riot. Her arm is still bloody, her knees gashed, and her feet are filthy.

“Careful!” Chat grabs her elbows as she stumbles forward.

“Adrien!” she cries out. “Have you seen him?”

“He’s safe,” Chat promises, lifting her effortlessly into his arms. “Let’s get you out of here. And I gotta rat these thugs in.”

He’s so happy to have Marinette close to him. She wraps her arms around his neck and presses her face against his chest, the wind clearly stinging her eyes. Or perhaps she’s crying? Chat can’t be sure. Either way, he’s glad that he’s the one protecting her now. Once again, she is hurt because of him, and it makes him feel pathetic. Adrien is powerless, but at least as Chat he can look after her, and ensure the police find the terrorists.


He touches down in front of the bakery, a neutral spot, and Marinette is shaking as her bare feet touch the ground.

“Can you get home from here okay?” Chat asks. He would happily deliver her to her bed, if it wasn’t for the small issue of his identity.

“Yeah,” Marinette nods, rubbing her arms. “Is Adrien at the hospital?”

“No,” Chat says, “I delivered him home. Did you see his father? He was worried about him.”

“Gabriel made it out,” Marinette tells him, and he can’t hide the relief blooming in his eyes.

“Thank you,” she says, reaching out to stroke his face. “Whoever you are. Thank you for saving him.”

“My pleasure,” Chat says, brushing a kiss against her scraped knuckles. “Don’t forget to wear shoes next time you intend to battle, princess.”

He disappears, racing across rooftops to make it to the mansion first, hoping Marinette is too dazed to notice his slip up.

 

 

Chapter Text

Chat is glad he’s used the rooftop fire escape before. He just has time to touch down and de-transform before he can hear Marinette’s footsteps pounding on the stairs. The blonde winces, feeling the full pain of his injuries once more. His clothing is rigid with ash, and he scrunches his nose at the acrid stench. He lowers himself into the attic, every movement jarring his bones.

“Adrien!” his bodyguard’s voice makes him jump, and she grabs him by the shoulders, eyes quickly scanning him over. “Are you hurt?”

He blinks, surprised to hear the raw emotion in her voice, as if she’s about to burst into tears.

“I’m fine,” he says gently, touching her face, which is soot-stained. “Are you?”

She nods, swallowing, then gently embraces him as if he’s an ornament made of glass. “I’m so glad you are okay.”

“Is my father…?” Adrien says, because even though he knows, it would be suspicious if he didn’t ask.

“Yes, everyone is fine,” Marinette reassures him. “Come down. I didn’t have time to tell them, I rushed right here.”

Adrien nods, and watches as his bodyguard checks the lock on the fire escape. The roof could only really be accessed by helicopter (or superhero) but he understands why she’s so cautious after the night they’ve had.

They hold hands as they climb down the stairs, as if both of them need the support, and the Agreste in him notices the bloodstains and dirt they trail behind them. He’s not sure how Marinette knew he’d be up in the attic, but perhaps she realised the roof was the safest place for a hero to land, unnoticed by the press outside.

“Adrien!” his father is just leaving his office, Nathalie at his elbow, when they are spotted on the stairs. Gabriel freezes, his face contorted in agony. Adrien goes to him, smiling to show he’s unharmed. His father holds his face carefully, tilting it this way and that, and inhales.

“Père,” Adrien speaks, feeling overwhelmed. “I’m home.”

“Thank God,” Gabriel sighs, and he seems to have aged in the last few hours. “Marinette, did you find him?”

“Yes, she came looking for me,” Adrien cuts in, before his bodyguard can speak. “Will you call the doctor? She needs to be treated.”

“Of course,” Gabriel says, and he nods to Nathalie, who rushes to make the call. “I’ll call Gustave, too.”

Adrien sighs a little, but doesn’t make a fuss.

 


 

 

The mansion is on lockdown, with only the medical team allowed in and out. The press is camped outside, and he can only imagine the headlines: ‘Top designer’s nightmare as model son kidnapped for the second time.’ Adrien shakes his head to clear the thought, and is glad when the doctor has finished his examination, so he can shower. His clothes are bagged and binned, and he wishes he could recycle the whole night from his mind. People did die in the incident, his father tells him, but refuses to go further. Madame Celesté was hurt, but is already planning the next fundraiser, refusing to be daunted by thugs.

Adrien changes into soft clothing (some grey sweats and a green hooded top) because even though he isn’t injured, he’s exhausted and sore. It’s strange to sit on his bed and not be able to look outside. Instead of sunrise, all he can see is the steel sheets of the mansion’s defense system. Now there is no escape, either for him or Chat Noir.

There’s a soft knock at his door. Marinette stands awkwardly outside, in her black combats and grey military sweater. There’s bandages peeking out from under her clothing, and he feels guilty that she took the fall for him when the hotel exploded.

“What did the doc say?” Adrien asks, putting his hands deep in his pockets to resist touching her face.

“All fine,” she smiles, scratching her cheek. “Uh…your father asked if I would stay with you. Gorilla is on the front door, but I think he’s still twitchy about leaving you unattended.”

“Eh, okay,” Adrien says, the last time they slept in the same room flashing in his mind, short-circuiting his speech mechanism. “You need rest, too, though. You can sleep in my bed? I mean, not with me! …I’ll sleep on the couch?”

“I’m fine on the couch, sir,” Marinette says, breezing by him, checking the locks on his windows.

“Not many people I know can get through that steel,” Adrien laughs nervously, closing his bedroom door. “Apart from you know, that cat guy.”

He makes an awkward claw movement with his hand, immediately regretting it when Marinette stares at him. Luckily, she laughs, making him burst into a blush.

“I guess he could, huh…” she smiles. “Did you see his powers?”

Adrien bites his lip, wishing he had never mentioned his alter-ego. “Um, something green, I think? Melts stuff.”

“Huh,” Marinette pauses, her eyes seemingly looking through the steel. “Interesting…so, why didn’t you tell your father about him?”

Adrien clears his throat. “I didn’t want him to turn on you. What does it matter who brought me home, as long as I’m here?”

Marinette looks pained, and he tries to change the subject. “Did Père say how long we would be on lock-down for?”

“That guy let the police know where the kidnappers were, but there’s one missing. Once they have them all behind bars, we should be good.”

“Oh,” Adrien says. He, of course, had been the tipper, calling the department from his baton.

“Gustave…” Marinette suddenly says. “He’s your… psychologist?”

“Yeah,” Adrien fiddles with the zipper of his hoody. “I’ve had him since…the first time it happened.”

Marinette sits down next to him on the bed, her face serious. “When you were kidnapped as a child?”

“Yeah,” the blonde replies. “It was a week, that time. This morning was nothing in comparison…”

“A week,” Marinette repeats sadly. “It must have been so scary, at that age.”

“I’ve blanked most of it out,” Adrien admits. “Sometimes I get little pieces here and there. Gustave says it’s a common method the brain uses for traumatic stress. Even when I came home, it took me a few months to talk again. And my mother…never really recovered from the ordeal.”

“I’m so sorry…” his bodyguard says, and she places her hand on his knee.

“Thanks,” Adrien squeezes her hand gratefully. Unlike others, Marinette doesn’t treat him like that same little boy from back then. “Shall we try and sleep?”

 


 

Despite his best arguments, Marinette takes the couch. She at least accepts his spare pillow and quilt. Adrien is surprised how quickly he falls asleep, knowing she is near. Perhaps it’s because he feels safe. Even though it’s daylight outside, the room is pitch-black due to the steel shutters.

The dreams are awful when they come. A small, dirty room with no windows. He can’t see into the dark corners, but the scuffling and scratching echoes off the walls and he covers his ears. But he can still hear them, tails flicking and noses twitching, ready to bite him. And then the dogs howl in the distance: a key turns in the lock, and he knows the bad man is coming. His breath reeks of stale coffee and cigar. He huddles small, and pretends to be asleep, but he knows that tactic no longer works.

They take a photo with him holding the day’s newspaper, to prove he’s alive. They’ve already sent his parents a piece of his shirt, and a lock of his golden hair. He hears the men mutter among themselves: what would get the ransom up quicker? A pinkie finger? Or a piece of his ear?

 


 

Adrien doesn’t remember waking up, and he doesn’t realise he is screaming until Marinette’s warmth envelops him. The nightmare is more a flashback, with his brain filling the blanks, and it’s as vivid as if he’s still in that room. He rocks back and forth, trying to forget what his mind has just shown him. The only thing that can distract him right now is pain, so he claws down his arm, but his nails are no match for Chat’s claws. He barely breaks the skin before his bodyguard grabs his hands, linking her fingers though his and squeezing tight.

“It’s okay, Adrien, you’re safe…” Marinette tells him, and he tries to shake her off. But she’s too strong, and she pins his hands to the wall, making him snap to consciousness. There’s a look of determination on her face and he wobbles.

“Breathe with me,” his bodyguard says, her face close, and he concentrates on her lips, unable to look anywhere else. Adrien follows her instructions, grateful to her voice for blocking out his dark thoughts.

“Good boy,” she smiles, when he’s breathing normally again: in and out, his heart no longer pounding in his ears. Marinette doesn’t push him away when slumps forward and cries into her chest. She rubs his back in circles and produces a packet of tissues from her pocket. He uses one to wipe away his tears. His bodyguard encourages him cry it all out, and he allows her to rub cold cream onto his arm so it doesn’t mark.

“You know, I was tortured as part of my training,” Marinette says, conversationally, as Adrien returns to the bed. “It’s an important thing for a bodyguard to experience, in case they are captured. It wasn’t pleasant, but they taught us methods of coping with it. Maybe I could show you some?”

“I’d like that,” Adrien croaks, his voice dry from crying. He tries to get his head around the fact that Marinette has willingly allowed herself to be tortured. He’s not sure what methods they would have used in China, but he’s sure it’s painful.

“You can talk to me about anything,” Marinette says, sitting next to him. “I know you have Gustave, but if you just want someone to listen, not analyse, I’m here.”

“Thank you. And the same goes for you, too,” Adrien says gratefully. He reaches out and takes her hand, giving it a squeeze. “Will you stay beside me? Until I sleep? I feel better when you’re next to me.”

“Of course…” his bodyguard nods, and Adrien pulls back the duvet.

“Just so you aren’t cold!” he explains hastily, turning scarlet when she raises a brow.

“Turn over,” she tells him, and the blonde hastily complies, wondering if he’s stepped over the line. He controls a squeak when Marinette moves flush against his back.

“Now, go to sleep, Adrien…” she says, pressing a kiss to his burning cheek. He believes it impossible, but her warmth, combined with the gentle stroking of his hip makes him fall into a deep slumber.

 


 

 

When he wakes up, it isn’t from a bad dream. He can still feel Marinette against him, her small breasts pressing against his back. She has a snuffled way of breathing that is so cute, Adrien wishes he could see her face. He doesn’t want to move, for fear of waking his bodyguard. It still amazes him how she was able to find him. She’s almost unhuman.

His bladder squeezes in warning and Adrien sighs, wriggling out from the bed as quietly as he can. After finishing his business, he finds Marinette curled up on his side of the bed, looking defenseless and young in slumber.

I was tortured as part of my training… her words return to him as he slips beneath the sheets. He turns on his side to look at her, allowing himself to stroke her cheek with his finger. How could anybody willingly hurt this girl? He can’t understand what would make her want to choose such a path in life. He notices the freckles on her cheeks and itches to trace them, but he’s a gentleman, and he knows better than to be touching his bodyguard’s face while she sleeps. Instead, he hunkers down, and lets her breathing lull him back into dreamless sleep.

 


 

His body clock is confused when he wakes up, because the steel shutters are still in place. Marinette is gone, but his father sits on the bottom of his bed, head in his hands.

“Père?” Adrien speaks, and his father moves quickly.

“How are you feeling?” Gabriel asks, standing tall near the bed.

“Better,” Adrien says. “Hungry.”

“Good,” his father smiles. “Marinette and Nathalie are downstairs eating. Why don’t you wash and join them?”

Adrien nods, and climbs out of bed. He’s still very stiff, but at least there isn’t lashing pain down his spine anymore. His stomach growls and he decides he’s too hungry to shower, washing quickly in the sink and throwing on clean jeans and a Jagged Stone t-shirt.

“I didn’t realise you were a fan,” his bodyguard comments, as he sits down at the table. He went to sleep late in the afternoon, and another day has already passed.

“I love his music,” Adrien laughs, helping himself to pastries and fruit. It’s odd to see so much sugar at the breakfast table, but clearly his father is turning a blind eye this time.

“Me too,” Marinette grins. “He reminds me of the bands we have back home.”

Adrien tucks this information away and helps himself to a milky coffee.

 


 

 

The model feels guilty when he finally remembers about his mobile phone. There are many missed calls and texts, mainly from Nino. He sends him a quick apology, then gives them a more detailed answer in the group chat: ‘Mari and I are both fine, just recovering. Mansion is on lockdown so I’m afraid you can’t visit, but hopefully it won’t last long.’

Marinette is watching the news with the Gorilla when he returns downstairs. His bodyguard chews her lip agitatedly as Nadja Chamack announces that one of the terrorists is still on the run.

“Hey,” Adrien says, not wanting to see his face on the screen anymore. “Can we practice some karate?”

The Gorilla looks at them but says nothing.

“Are you feeling up to it, sir?” Marinette asks doubtfully.

“Sure!” Adrien enthuses. “I mean, shouldn’t I be trying to better my personal defence right now?”

“Okay,” his bodyguard nods. “One hour.”

 


 

The model feels a burst of nervous energy as they prepare to spar. Part of it is the fact that Marinette seems completely unaffected from their spooning, and the other part is that Adrien can’t take his eyes off his bodyguard when she’s wearing her red sports bra and black shorts. He’s ogling, he knows it, but he can’t help but watch as she stretches, her thighs and calf muscles taunt and smooth.

“Ready?” she asks calmly, and Adrien steps onto the mat, springing on the balls of his bare feet. He’s changed into his white gi, as if this will somehow get him into the right state of mind. The models knows how far apart their levels are, but he at least wants to stay upright for more than a minute.

Marinette grins at him and counts them down. They bow and begin circling each other. Adrien blocks her first chop, and attempts a low kick, which she easily evades. His bodyguard grabs hold of his gi and attempts to toss him, but he plants his feet and grits his teeth.

“Good,” she praises him, which makes him flush and nearly lose concentration. They exchange a few more blows, switching between offence and defense, and Adrien knows the end is near. His bodyguard distracts him with an elbow strike, then effortlessly grabs his gi and floors him.

“Much better!” Marinette beams, rubbing her arm against her face, which is dripping with sweat. “You’re really…”

She tails off, and the model looks up, wondering why. All the grabbing and tossing has messed up his clothing, so he picks himself off the floor and unties his obi, opening the gi out so he can fix it. His bodyguard’s swallow is so loud even he catches it, and he meets her eyes. She’s not looking at him, though, but rather at his bare chest under the gi, slick with sweat.

“What?” Adrien asks, embarrassed. He’s a model, for god’s sake, but he’s never been at the end of such an intense stare before.

“You really have no idea…” Marinette sighs, wrenching her gaze away and picking up her towel, dabbing at her neck.

“You keep saying that!” the blonde accuses, tossing the gi down on the mat and striding over to Marinette. “What are you talking about?!”

His chest is pounding, a mixture of fear and adrenaline, and his bodyguard reaches out, about to touch him, before snatching her hand back as if scolded. He tries to take hold of her hand but she pushes him away and stalks to the other side of the room. “Go, please…”

Adrien shakes his head, confused.

“I can’t do this!” Marinette groans, covering her eyes. “This has never happened to me before!”

Adrien approaches her slowly, as if she was an injured animal. “Please… I can’t help if I don’t understand…”

His bodyguard turns to look at him, her blue eyes bright. She reaches out, shaking, and brushes a thumb over his bottom lip. Her touch is electric, and he swallows, stroking her wrist.

“Wait…” Adrien can physically feel the cogs turning in his mind, and he his tongue darts out to lick his lip, the spot that she caressed. “Are you…attracted to me?”

His bodyguard shoots him a loaded look, and he immediately blushes, but summons his courage.

“You know I like you, right?”

His bodyguard sighs. “I’m not allowed to date, Adrien, and dating my charge is a definitely no-no. I’ll be struck off the register forever.”

“Oh,” Adrien says, though he expected this. “I get it. I mean, my father would never let me date, either, unless it was someone he wanted me to marry, to better the company or something…”

Marinette laughs, and fiddles with her hair. “We’re both rather pathetic, huh?”

Adrien smiles hopefully. The tension between them is a little relaxed, now that they understand how they both feel.

“So, uh…” the model bites his nail. “Are you going to randomly kiss me again anytime soon? I would like to be prepared for it…”

“Dream on, pretty boy,” Marinette smirks, flicking his nose.

 

Oh, he will.

Chapter Text

With the capture of the last member of the French Patriots, the mansion is finally lifted from lockdown. Adrien is keen to return to university, but he knows it won’t be as straight-forward as that: his father is still twitchy. Gabriel at least allows Nino and Alya to visit for a study date (but really they just want to hear all the gossip).

“Damn, that was like going through JFK,” Nino quips, as they finally make it to the mansion’s library. “Glad I left my weed at home.”

Alya hits him, and Adrien laughs. “Sorry. The Gorilla is pretty…thorough.”

“Well, you were just kidnapped,” Alya reminds him, giving him a gentle hug. “How you holding up? I brought snacks.”

“Thanks,” Adrien accepts the bag, which is crammed with everything he isn’t supposed to eat. He’s surprised the Gorilla didn’t confiscate it. “I’m not too bad.”

“Oh girl, you just recovered from your last accident and now this,” Alya fusses over Marinette’s injuries. “Just as well you have a pretty face, huh?”

“I guess,” his bodyguard shrugs with a smile.

“I wish I had taken a photo before we left for the ball,” Adrien sighs. “Marinette looked amazing.”

“Luckily, your fans got a photo of you both…” Nino grins, tapping his mobile phone alive. “Although, check this caption…”

“Huh?” Alya leans over his shoulder and does a double-take. She looks at Marinette, then back at Adrien, before clapping her hands. “I KNEW there was something different about you, girl!”

“What is it?” Adrien feels chills down his spine. He doesn’t like the way Nino is looking at him. Like a star-struck fan rather than a friend.

“M…you’re his bodyguard?” Alya manages.

“What?” Adrien laughs forcefully. “Let me see that picture. Crazy papps, they never get it right…”

Marinette blinks but she doesn’t deny it. Nino is flicking through more photos now, whistling through his teeth. “Genghis Training School? Didn’t Time Magazine do a piece on them?”

“Stop it!” Adrien gasps, feeling the panic start to creep in. Does the whole of Paris know that Marinette is his bodyguard now? After everything they’ve been through... is she going to have to give up the job, anyway?

“It’s okay, Adrien,” Marinette says softly, patting his arm. “It wasn’t really a secret. It’s probably better that they – and everyone else – knows, especially with what happened the other day. I’m sorry my attempt to blend in failed.”

“You didn’t fail!” the model exclaims, motioning to Nino and Alya, who are watching the exchange with interest. “They would never have known if it hadn’t been for that attack.”

“That’s true,” Nino pipes up. “Though I did wonder when you were flinging those guys around in the club that time. I thought it was martial arts or whatever.”

“Well, that was a large part of my training…” Marinette winks.

“Have you ever killed anyone?” Alya asks, her eyes gleaming.

Adrien opens his mouth to protest, but finds he wants to know the answer, too. Marinette hesitates, rubbing the back of her neck. “Just one time. I always try and avoid injuring others, but my charge’s life was at risk.”

They gaze at her in awe, before quickly changing the subject to other things. Marinette tells them the backstory that Adrien already knows: she’s half French, half Chinese, and after the recession, her parents sold the bakery and moved back with her grandparents. Marinette wanted to help out and went for the highest paying job in the country. She always wanted to be a fashion designer, and wanted to buy back the family bakery, hence her move to Paris.

“That’s sick,” Nino compliments her. “Man, I thought I was pretty cool spinning decks in the union, but you’ve already achieved so much!”

“It was necessity,” Marinette brushes it off. “Most would do the same in that situation. Plus, Adrien has been working much longer than me.”

“That’s true!” Alya nods. “Weren’t you modelling from diapers?”

The blonde rolls his eyes. “I wouldn’t say crawling around a set is exactly comparable to Marinette’s training…”

“Yeah, but still making that dolla!” Alya says, digging him in the ribs. “How much you got stashed away, sunshine? If you need a sugar baby, you know where to find me.”

“Hey!” Nino protests, hurt, making the group laugh. The snacks are opened, and the topic drifts to their upcoming class presentation, and Adrien feels himself relax a little. He’s not losing Marinette.

 


 

That night, Adrien thinks it’s safe to venture out. He waits until midnight, when the mansion is deadly quiet, before sliding open his window. He’s relieved that the shutters no longer block the Parisian skyline.

He transforms, muttering the words while balancing on his window ledge. Then he leans up and tilts the CCTV camera the other way, just a slight 45 degrees so he can clamber out undetected.

It’s raining lightly but it doesn’t dampen his mood. His hard boots splash through puddles and the droplets roll down the leather without making him feel cold. Chat uses his baton to jump between buildings, no particular destination in mind, when the baton starts beeping.

He gives a yelp of surprise, because that’s never happened before, and the only one with this number is Master Fu. Chat lands on a church rooftop, and takes the call. There’s no image, the screen focused on the moving ground.

“Chat Noir?” it’s a female’s voice, and she sounds out of breath.

“Yes?” he replies, nervously. He wasn’t aware he had a hotline.

“I’m Ladybug. No time to explain, but you need to get to the Eiffel Tower, now. We have a hostage situation.”

“Ladybug?” Chat repeats, scrunching his face up. Alya mentioned a Ladybug before, didn’t she? The hero shifts through his memories but it’s hidden under a drunken, fuzzy blanket. Shaking his head, Chat orientates himself. The Eiffel Tower is directly north of his location, and he can reach it in about five minutes.

“Be quick!” the female says, before cutting off.

Chat grimaces and extended the baton again, spinning it around so he can cover ground faster. He has a bad feeling about who would be holding Parisians hostage.

 


 

He arrives, out of breath and very wet, shaking his damp hair with his hand to chase out the water drops clinging to him.

“There you are!” there’s a thump behind him, and Chat turns warily. He isn’t sure what to expect, but she isn’t it.

“Ladybug?” he asks tentatively. She certainly is wearing a red suit with black spots. Her dark hair is gathered into puffy twin-tails, a hairstyle he hasn’t seen since elementary school.

“Yes,” she says impatiently, grabbing him by the wrist and tugging him along so they can see the chaos more clearly. “The police and terrorist squads are out in force, but they can’t get close to the hostages, or they’ll kill them all.”

“What are they demanding?” Chat asks, though he already knows.

“Freedom for the imprisoned French Patriots,” Ladybug tells him.

“Damn it,” Chat mutters under his breath.

“So, here’s the plan,” Ladybug says. “You go in and distract them. They planned it just at closing time, so everyone was making their way downstairs. They’re all on the second floor now. You can climb, right?”

“Sure, but won’t they just shoot the victims when they see me?” Chat worries.

“Can’t you use your power?” Ladybug questions.

“On what?” the black cat retorts. “The tower? Everyone will die if I do that.”

“Hmm,” Ladybug reflects on this information.

“What’s your power?” Chat asks. She has no obvious weapon, save the spotted disk strapped to her hip. He’s assuming that’s how she called him.

“It’s a yo-yo,” Ladybug explains, unsnapping it from her body and demonstrating, catching onto a nearby chimney. “It’s very powerful, it can’t snap.”

“Ok. What if we both rush them? They won’t be expecting an attack from outside the Eiffel. I can cataclysm the glass, and I’m sure between us we could knock them down with my staff and your yo-yo?”

“We would need to be discrete…” Ladybug ponders. “Let’s go tell the police our plan, first. So they don’t shoot us by mistake.”

 


 

 

That done, they begin to climb up the metal framework of the tower. Even though it’s night-time the tower is lit up like a beacon, and a helicopter drifts nervously nearby.

They can hear the terrorists before they seen them: screaming at everyone to stay on the ground with their hands on their heads.

“Before we go…” Ladybug casts her yo-yo up above, and murmurs: “Lucky charm!”

Chat watches with interest as a polka-dot object falls into her grasp.

“Great, a smoke bomb!” Ladybug grins. “I’ll throw this as soon as we break through, and it will help confuse the gun men.”

Chat Noir gives her a thumbs up, and gets into position, raising his claw to the glass.

“Three…two…one…now!” Ladybug hisses.

Things move so quickly; Chat barely has time to register the anxiety in his gut. The glass melts under his palm, and Ladybug flicks the bomb into the room. It immediately explodes, causing cursing and coughing. Chat’s night vison helps him see through the smoke, and he uses his baton to take down two of the terrorists. He chucks their guns out the melted window so they can’t grab them again. The black cat turns to see Ladybug performing some interesting aerobatics with her yoyo, yanking five gunmen down by their ankles at once. Chat takes the remaining three, having to physically wrestle a gun from the grip of one man. Bullets fire into the ceiling and the hostages scream, but Chat use his claws to dig deep and prize the weapon away and out the window.

“All clear!” Ladybug calls to him, tying her men securely with the yo-yo string. Chat’s victims have been knocked out cold by the baton. “Can you give the signal?”

Chat grabs the nearest French flag, and angles it out the window, letting it swing back and forth. The police below move as soon as they see the colour, and burst into the building.

“Here, let me help you…” Chat leans down and begins to free the hostages from their cable ties. There are couples, young and old, as well as foreign visitors, who babble thanks to him in languages he can’t understand. He simply smiles and nods.

“Good job!” Ladybug offers him her fist, and he pauses before bumping his own against hers. “We should get out of here before the media descend.”

“Sure,” Chat replies. It’s bad enough being in the papers and on television all week as Adrien Agreste, kidnapped model.

He follows Ladybug to the edge of the broken window, feeling bad about the vandalism, though it did save lives. She loops her yo-yo into the distance and he follows, swooping through the sky for ten minutes before the heroine comes to a stop.

“We make a good team,” Ladybug tells him with a smile.

“I didn’t realise I was to have a partner…” Chat admitted. “Did Master Fu contact you too?”

“Yeah…I’ve not been in Paris long, that’s why I haven’t bumped into you before. Sorry there wasn’t time for proper introductions.”

Chat shakes his head. “Time was of the essence. I’m glad we could work together. I don’t think I could have done that alone.”

Ladybug punches him lightly on the arm. “You did great last week, though. Wasn’t it you that saved Adrien Agreste? Don’t be so hard on yourself.”

Chat blinks. “How did you know about that?”

Ladybug sighs. “I was trying to help, too, that night, but I got caught up in the blast.”

The black cat raises his eyebrows. “You were at the charity ball, too?”

“Yes, working though.”

“Ahh,” Chat nods. He motions to his suit: “I guess we’re supposed to keep our identities secret?”

“I think that would be wise,” Ladybug nods. “Just in case one of us is captured. We don’t want to put the other at risk.”

“So, was this why we were chosen?” Chat asks. “Did Master Fu know about these terrorists? Is that why he gave us this power?”

Ladybug taps her lip. “I think the miraculous are gifted whenever Paris has a dire need for them. I guess Master Fu decided the situation was urgent enough.”

Chat rubs his neck. “So, do we have a plan, then? Or just keep a constant check on the news? I’m sure we both have commitments, it might be hard to try to run away and transform every time!”

“I downloaded an app on my compact and mobile phone,” Ladybug shows him. “It alerts me to breaking news and threats from low to severe. I guess it’s just about making a judgement call. And we can keep in touch with each other, like tonight...”

“Okay,” Chat agrees. “I guess we can do our best.”

“See you soon, Chat Noir,” Ladybug grins. “But hopefully not too soon…”

 

Chapter Text

LAST TIME:

“So, was this why we were chosen?” Chat asks. “Did Master Fu know about these terrorists? Is that why he gave us this power?”

Ladybug taps her lip. “I think the miraculous are gifted whenever Paris has a dire need for them. I guess Master Fu decided the situation was urgent enough.”

Chat rubs his neck. “So, do we have a plan, then? Or just keep a constant check on the news? I’m sure we both have commitments, it might be hard to try to run away and transform every time!”

“I downloaded an app on my compact and mobile phone,” Ladybug shows him. “It alerts me to breaking news and threats from low to severe. I guess it’s just about making a judgement call. And we can keep in touch with each other, like tonight...”

“Okay,” Chat agrees. “I guess we can do our best.”

“See you soon, Chat Noir,” Ladybug grins. “But hopefully not too soon…”

 


 

As soon as he arrives home, Adrien searches on the internet for Ladybug. Most of the fan sites are in Chinese, and he’s able to understand the basics of them: that the heroine had been around for a year, before vanishing. Several imitators had tried to take her place, but all had suffered grievance injuries and been exposed.

Adrien chews his fingernail and thinks. Is it too much of a coincidence, that Ladybug disappeared from China just as Marinette arrived in Paris? The fact that’s she super strong, almost too strong, even for someone trained in martial arts and as a bodyguard?

He tries to visualise Ladybug’s face, but he can’t seem to place it. There aren’t any images online yet, just some fuzzy camera phone videos of their rescue at the Eiffel Tower.

 


 

Adrien is allowed to return to university the next morning, and although he is pleased, he’s quiet in the car. Marinette glances at him a few times, concerned, but he just tells her he didn’t sleep well. She seems to be satisfied with that.

“Just take it easy today,” his bodyguard tells him. “We can leave after lunch, if it’s too much.”

Adrien nods, though he would never be the one to suggest leaving early, not after he fought so hard for this normality.

Nino and Alya greet them in the lecture hall, and it feels like they have barely been away. He feels protected in their little cocoon of friendship, even though some students stare blatantly at him in the corridors. He hears whispers: “Wasn’t he the one that was kidnapped?” but the double glare of Marinette and Alya soon frightens them off.

“There’s a pub crawl happening this weekend, and I got some free tickets,” Nino tells them at lunch, in-between chomps of his apple. “You guys in?”

Marinette exchanges a glance with Adrien. The model sighs. “I don’t think my father will allow it, so soon. You guys should go, though. Mari hasn’t had a day off in ages.”

His bodyguard frowns at him, but he simply winks. “Go and let your hair down. I’ll stay at home with the Gorilla.”

“Come on, Marinette!” Alya begs, grabbing her friend by the arm. “Adrien’s right, you’ve been working non-stop. You need a break before you crash, girl.”

The bodyguard sips her water carefully. “We’ll see…”

 


 

Even on Friday night, Marinette still tries to protest the night out.

“Come on, Mari, you need to live a little,” Adrien laughs, ruffling his hair. “You must be getting cabin fever, being around me 24/7. Go and have some fun with the guys.”

“It’s my job, so I don’t mind,” Marinette tells him, her face conflicted. “Plus, I don’t want to go if you can’t.”

“I’m a big boy,” the model winks, stretching his arms above his head. “Besides, I’m beat. I’m just going to game for an hour then have an early one.”

Marinette dithers in front of him, clearly tempted by a night of freedom.

“Go,” Adrien urges her with a smile, pushing her towards her room.

 


 

 

She emerges an hour later, and Adrien almost wishes he could take back his words. She’s dressed all in black: leather jacket with a plain t-shirt underneath, skinny ripped jeans and black boots. Marinette is wearing a hint of eyeliner and a plum lipstick and suddenly Adrien isn’t feeling so generous anymore.

“I won’t be late,” Marinette promises, slinging a leather bag over her shoulder. “I’ll just do the bars, and then come home.”

“You should go to the club, too,” Adrien tells her, tapping at his keyboard, as if he can easily rip his eyes away from her. “Nino is doing promo for them, right? It would help him out.”

Marinette blinks several times and checks her mobile. “I’ll get the last metro home, then.”

“Don’t walk alone,” Adrien warns her, but she simply laughs and waves goodbye.

“Dammit,” the blonde curses, rubbing his eyes with the heel of his hands.

 


 

At 1am, Marinette still isn’t home, and Adrien is getting worried. He knows she can handle herself, but he can also see from Alya’s snapchats and instagram that the pub crawl has included a lot of shot-taking. Trays and trays, in fact. He’s worried about the size of Mari: how much alcohol can her body handle? Will she even remember how to get home?

Working himself into a state, Adrien wishes the Gorilla goodnight and makes as if he is going to sleep. He turns off the lights and pads his bed, though he doesn’t expect anyone to check on him at this time.

Transforming, Chat blends with the darkness of the night, and checks his phone again. His friends are in the Bastille area, known for being a hit with the young Parisians and full of students. They’ve already visited a pub, and a shot bar, and have made it to the main club.

The narrow street is full of drunk students, some stumbling into cabs, others rushing for the metro. Chat waits patiently. He isn’t going to interfere, only watch over his friends and make sure they get home okay.

Finally, half an hour later, he spots them. Nino and Marinette are propping up Alya between them. She helps them into a cab, and despite the DJ’s protests, waves them off. Adrien understands why: they live at opposite sides of town, and it would be cheaper for Marinette to jump in her own taxi. Still, he’s nervous as he watches her stumble down the street.

The model grits his teeth as she doesn’t even attempt to hail a cab, instead following the revelers towards the metro. Chat silently stalks her movements from above the domed roofs. Once she makes it down the steps, he’ll leave, he promises himself. But Marinette doesn’t even make it that far, staggering into a wall with a giggle. Her bag slips down her shoulder and she stumbles, grabbing a railing to steady herself. Chat clenches his fist. The street is still too busy with students, otherwise he could swoop down and save her.

He watches, anxiety building, as a group of young men approach Marinette. One of them seems to know her from the club, and helps her up. She laughs and walks with them, almost bouncing on the soles of her feet. Chat almost rolls his eyes. Of course, his bodyguard would be a happy drunk.

He watches with his own eyes as they enter the metro, and feels slightly better. Safety in numbers: hopefully they wouldn’t try anything at such a crowded stop. Police officers mill the streets too, making him feel better. Chat races back towards his home, and the metro station that Marinette will emerge from in a few moments.


 

He taps his foot distractedly as he waits. Finally, people start to spill from the subway station, shouting and arguing. Marinette is swaying again, her eyelids flickering, and she starts to make her way towards home. She stumbles constantly, and Chat can tell that her feet hurt.

He waits until she has cleared the main boulevard, and only a few drunk stragglers remain, before nimbly jumping down before her.

“Princess,” he sweeps into a bow. “You seem a little unsteady. May I escort you home?”

“You!” Marinette hiccups, pointing at him. Her bodyguard’s mask has slipped completely and he can read every emotion on her face. “What are you doing here, chaton?”

Chat chuckles at the nickname. “I was simply out for a night stroll, as strays like myself are likely to do.”

Marinette narrows her eyes and pokes his chest. “Or, maybe you’re out looking for trouble?”

Chat blinks his green eyes innocently. “Well? Did I find her?”

Marinette giggles, a tinkering, happy sound that fills him with warmth from the tips of his toes to his fingers.

“Very well, my knight. You may escort me home.”

The bodyguard holds out her hand, and Chat bends, kissing it, before lifting her gently into his arms. He is wary of making her sick, since she seems so tipsy, so he keeps the bounding to a minimum. Marinette buries her face into his chest, no doubt to hide from the cold wind whipping by them.

 


 

They arrive a few moments later on the rooftop, on the same place Chat supposedly dropped off Adrien after the kidnapping. He lets Marinette down and gently flicks the locks, helping her navigate the steps in the dark. She is unsteady on her feet, and on the second last step, wobbles, and falls into his arms.

“Woah,” Chat cradles her close, bracing himself against the wall. “You okay?”

“Sorry…” Marinette laughs, breathlessly. “Stupid Alya and those stupid shots…”

“A good night all round, then,” Chat teases, gently nudging her wayward hair away from her face. She looks up, her hands still against his chest, and her cheeks flush scarlet.

“Um…I…” Marinette diverts her eyes, realising they are almost nose-to-nose. Chat chuckles and leans forward, nuzzling his nose against hers, which is cold from her spell outside.

“What are you…?” the bodyguard asks, confused. In this form, Chat feels the power tensing under his suit, and it gives him satisfaction to know at least for the moment, he is the stronger one. He protected her from harm, this time.

“Sorry,” he mumbles, embracing her close. “Can I just hold you? Just for a second?”

He’s willing to let go the moment she says no, but to his shock she simply sighs and tucks her head under his chin. Chat feels himself melt against her body heat, and smooths his leather-clad hands over her hair. He resists a squeak when Marinette presses against him more firmly, his back flat against the wall as her hands run over his hips.

“You’re so strong…” she murmurs, her fingers skirting up his sides until she is tracing his biceps.

“Um, thanks…” Chat pants, wondering why on earth his night has taken such an unexpected turn. It would seem that Marinette is not only a happy drunk, but a frisky one, too.

His bodyguard blinks up at him, and he can see her pupils blown wide in the dark, her eyes the palest blue. Her makeup has smudged and her lipstick has disappeared but she’s still so damn beautiful. Chat hopes her makeup has rubbed off from drinking, not from other club activities involving mouths, and the sudden jealously that spikes through him catches him by surprise.

He can’t cope with her exploring hands anymore, the bulge under his suit already far too tight, and so Chat switches their positions, pressing her against the wall, linking his fingers through hers. She gasps, her mouth dropping open in surprise, and he can’t hold himself back anymore. He leans down, seeking permission, and her eyes flutter closed. Chat touches his lips to hers, and the warmth floods through his veins once more. Marinette rocks against him, trying to free her hands from between his. He relents, cupping her cheeks instead, slipping his tongue into her mouth. His bodyguard wastes no time in grabbing his shoulders, and hooking one leg around his hip.

Chat groans against her, the friction of her jeans against the leather a sweet torture. She seems to agree, nibbling on his bottom lip and running her fingertips through his wild hair.

“More, please…” she begs, and he’s only too willing to assist. He picks her up, wrapping her legs around his waist so he can grind into her more forcefully. Marinette sucks in air, her head lolling against the wall as he kisses her neck, peppering her skin with light kisses before sucking a spot on her collarbone. By arching her back, her breasts strain against the thin white t-shirt, the leather jacket slipping down her shoulders. Chat is breathing heavily by the time his hands creep under the material to cup her breasts under her bra. He can’t feel the softness of her skin under the suit, but he can feel her warmth, and the way she wiggles against him as he thrums her nipples with the pads of his thumbs.

"Yes, Chat!” she squeals, and hearing his name from her lips so wantonly unravels him. He collapses onto the step, Marinette on his lap, and tugs up her t-shirt and bra, freeing her breasts into the cool air. Chat latches onto a teat with his tongue, careful of his fangs. She tastes amazing, and the sweet noises he coaxes from her are enough to tip over the edge. Marinette grinds frantically against him, with a whimper.

A voice in the back of his mind – Adrien’s sensible voice – tells him to stop it here, but they’re both so close to completion. Although he doesn’t have a lot of experience, Chat knows that he can pleasure Marinette faster with his fingers than their current situation, so he tugs at her waistband, wanting to check she’s ready for the next step. Marinette swallows and clambers off him, popping the button of her jeans and wiggling them down her hips. Chat kneels, urging her to stand against the wall, and he slips down her cotton underwear, pleased to see they are already wet.

His bodyguard jerks against his mouth as he carefully kisses her between her legs, his hands stroking her thighs to reassure her. The scent is so much stronger here, and it fuels his desire even more. Chat laps at her, rough, slow strokes, and he can tell from her reaction it’s the right direction. Her hands fist into his hair again and he enjoys the light tugging, the tingling in his scalp. He circles the area he believes to be her clit with his tongue and bingo, Marinette squeaks his name and presses against him. He strokes her with a thumb while he teases her with the tip of his tongue, wondering if this is always such a pleasurable experience, or if it’s heightened for him because of his sense of smell and taste. Either way, Marinette bucks against him and begs for more, and Chat experiments with sucks and dragging his mouth and tongue. Her thighs clamp around his head and she makes a choking noise as she comes, her whole body trembling with her release. Chat cleans her up the best he can with his mouth, which is difficult because the whole lower half of his face is covered in her (not that he minds). He smirks and wipes his chin with the back of his hand, and Marinette covers her face in mortification.

“Hey, hey,” he says, easing her underwear back up her hips and tugging up her jeans. “Are you okay, princess?”

“Yes, it’s just…” Marinette conceals a sob, and Chat feels his heart splinter. Has he pushed her too far? Did he take advantage of her drunken state? He flicks back through his memories in a panic, because she seemed more than willing every time he checked. Marinette embraces him and kisses his throat.

“Sorry, I’m an emotional drunk,” she reveals. He laughs, relieved, and pets her hair.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Chat worries over her.

“Yes…” Marinette trails off. “Can I…return the favour?”

She looks down at his groin, where his cock is straining against his suit, and Chat bites his lip and shakes his head.

“No, no…the suit doesn’t come off. I enjoyed myself enough, princess…”

“That doesn’t seem fair…” Marinette pouts, her hand reaching out to stroke him through the leather. Chat gasps and leans into her touch unintentionally, bracing his arm against the wall for support.

“Really… it’s okay…” he huffs, his jaw slack, but his bodyguard seems to be ignoring him, kneeling down and pressing little kisses against his cock, before trying to suck him off through the suit.

“Marinette!” he grunts, claws grasping her shoulders. The damp heat feels wonderful and he wants her to continue, but he’s not sure sucking suit is the most pleasant experience for her.

“Just give me two minutes,” she promises, her eyes wicked. He bites his fist, at the mercy of her mouth.

It takes one and a half, at most.