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Pick-Up and Chase

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"Just because you're immune to my charm doesn't mean everyone else would be," Chat said confidently, flipping his hair in a way that Ladybug could only think to describe as flamboyant.

"I'm not immune, Kitty," she clarified. "No girl would ever fall for any of your lame pick-up lines."

"I beg to differ." His tone was playful, a smirk pulling at his lips as he slyly glanced her way. "Have you ever tried it?"

"What?" She scoffed. "Of course not."

"Then how could you paw-ssibly know?"

"Because you're suggesting it," she said smartly. "And any idea that comes from your litter-brain is probably doomed to failure."

"As your partner and fellow superhero, I resent that."

"I bet you do." Crossing her arms over her chest, she stared out across the city from their vantage point atop the Eiffel Tower, doing her best to ignore the way Chat was narrowing his knowing gaze in her in direction.

"All I'm saying," he started, putting a clawed hand on his chest, "is that you might be surprised." She cocked a single brow in his direction. "You ladies may roll your eyes at our lame lines, but, at the end of the day, at least we're putting in the work."

She chuckled. "Excuse me?"

"You laugh, but it's not always easy for a guy to get up the guts to use one of what you consider to be silly pick-up lines. Not everyone is as smooth as I am."

She snorted.

"It'd probably be a nice surprise, a guy getting a cheesy pick-up line from a girl. We like to be romanced too, you know."

"Stupid pick-up lines aren't exactly my definition of romance."

"Don't hate 'til you try it." He stood firm, holding his hands up defensively. "Funny romance might be what does it for some guys. Don't judge."

"Guys like you?"

"Maybe."

Smirking, she reached out and poked him on the shoulder. "I bet if some girl came up to you and said she wanted to spend all nine of her lives with you, you'd just… collapse into a puddle of goo on the floor."

That Cheshire grin pulled at his lips. "You're speaking my love language, My Lady." He waggled his eyebrows beneath his mask, leaning in a little too close.

"What can I say," she said flatly, pushing him lightly back by the tip of his nose. "I've heard enough from you to be fluent."

"I always knew you were listening to me."

"You talk so much that I hardly get a choice in the matter."

"Aw, are you saying I'm too chatty for you?"

Taking a step closer to the edge of the tower, she looked back at him over her shoulder, casting her yoyo out in the same moment. "I'm saying that not every word that comes out of your mouth is the cat's meow. Sometimes I wish I had a muzzle."

"Oh, kinky."

"I should have known you'd be into that sort of thing," she replied, managing a wink. "You are the one dressed in a leather, black cat suit."

"Hey!" he scolded, pointing harshly in her direction. "Don't dis on the suit. Dominatrix happens to be a very flattering look on me."

She couldn't stop herself from laughing, which she knew would inflate his ego far beyond acceptable limits. "Whatever lets you sleep at night, Chaton." She finally pushed herself off the edge of the tower. "No judgement." Lifting off, she let loose another laugh as she plummeted, any words of rebuke he might have had falling on deaf ears. The wind whipping by was all she could hear as she shot off across the city, doing her typical round-about path before vaulting up onto her balcony.

Casting a single look up into the night sky, she hummed to herself, thinking only shortly of Chat and their patrol—and his ridiculous advice—before she headed down through her skylight and into her bedroom. Tikki was buzzing off immediately, headed for the plate of cookies waiting beside the computer. And while she devoured her evening meal, Marinette plopped down on her bed before sinking back against her pillow.

Despite how ridiculous she knew he was, some of Chat's words wouldn't leave her head. She'd never considered it, that boys were normally doing the romancing while the girls stood idly by. While she'd never thought on it before, pointing it out so blatantly really did make it obvious—at least to her—how ridiculous such standards were. But, really, she'd never been one to wait for the first move. Granted, she'd never gotten up the guts to explicitly tell Adrien her feelings, but she had given him a gift, and sent him a poetic valentine. That seemed pretty romantic to her.

Well, such things would have been if Adrien ever knew she was behind such actions. Yet, the very thought of him finding out sent her squirming, face pushed into her pillow as her flush ran rampant up and down her body.

Maybe… Maybe Chat had a point after all.

Disgusted that she was almost admitting he was right, she closed her eyes and instead decided to focus on sleeping. With how rigorous their patrols were, it didn't take her long to conk out.

And, as per usual, she was rolling out of bed with hardly enough time to wash up and run across the street to school. Leaving in her typical rush, she sprinted over the crosswalk—causing a few cars to honk in offense—before she stumbled into the school yard, nearly smacking a group of girls with her bag when she tripped over a rather treacherous patch of thin air.

Squawking, she tumbled, bracing herself for a chin full of concrete.

But something caught her before she landed, her eyes squeezed closed with painful anticipation. It took her a moment before she dared look around, able to easily deduce that it was a pair of strong, steady arms that held her aloft, her fists having collided with what she soon realized was a broad chest.

Pulling her gaze up, she was victim to that soft smile, bright green eyes concerned beneath furrowed brows.

"You okay?" Adrien asked, Marinette gaping like a drowning fish as he effortlessly supported her entire weight leaning into him. "You should be more careful. A trip like that could really do some damage."

It was Adrien. She was in Adrien's arms. Again. She'd tripped into him at least twice before, and each time he caught her like it was nothing. Really, she didn't know how he managed to be in the right place at the right time every time she lost control of her feet, but it was getting to the point where she'd be unable to recover from the trauma.

"Um- uh…" She internally cursed her stuttering, as well as her inability to get to her feet. She was frozen with shock, completely victim to her own helplessness, as well as her own uncontrollable mouth. "S-sorry, I didn't mean to, er, I just- I didn't mean-" Just say something! Or so her brain was internally screaming, reaching out to any shred of composure she might have.

What came out next was totally unexpected. No stuttering, no hesitance—it rolled off her tongue with so much ease that one would have thought she'd been practicing beforehand.

"I think I might be falling for you."

The alarms sounded, her eyes widened, and her world cracked down the middle.

While Adrien, blinking stupidly, dropped his smile into a gape of his own.

"I mean!" Her voice was loud, causing a few of the students walking by to jump. "I'm sorry I'm falling for you! NO! I mean- I mean-"

She knew she was a ripe tomato-red from her neck to her ears. Whining in the back of her throat, she finally found her feet, managing to push herself back and out of his hold.

"I meant to say I'm sorry for falling on you!" she finally managed to shout, hands balling into fists at her side. "Sorry! I'm really, really sorry!" Insides shrieking, she turned away without daring to give him another look, marching quickly up the steps where, much to her continued humiliation, Alya was near tears with laughter.

Grabbing her best friend by the sleeve, she dragged her into the school, not coming to a stop until they were safely through the door that lead into the girl's bathroom. And while Alya continued laughing, Marinette stumbled her way over to the nearest sink, grabbed it by the edges, and allowed a single, high-pitched whine to leave her throat. Before she fell into a pathetic crouch.

"I can't believe you said that!" Alya managed to say between laughs, what few other girls were in the restroom giving them curiously annoyed looks. "Oh my god, Marinette! You were practically smooth!" She bent down beside her. "And his face!"

"Please, stop," Marinette begged. "Make yourself useful and go dig my grave. Then I can just throw myself bodily into it and let the worms take me."

"Careful, you're falling for Adrien, remember?"

She whined again.

"Oh c'mon, if you hadn't been so mortified about the whole thing, you might have actually pulled it off," Alya explained, finally overcoming her own amusement in order to pat Marinette on the back. "You should have owned it! I mean, did you see his face?"

"How could I see his face?" Marinette asked dramatically. "I was too busy bearing my death-by-humiliation."

Alya snickered. "I've never seen Adrien so red before," she explained. "Mr. Cool-as-a-Cucumber didn't expect what you said any better than you did."

"That's not exactly a comfort."

Around them, most of the other girls had filed out—no doubt headed for class.

"And, what, stuttering unintelligible sentences around him is somehow better? At least you got his attention."

"I didn't want his attention!" she moaned, collapsing on all fours. "At least, not like that!" Couldn't she just curl up in the corner and disappear?

Alya huffed. "At least he was looking at you, right? Try to see the bright side of things. And don't put your hands on the floor, Marinette." She released a motherly sigh. "This is a bathroom. C'mon, get up."

"Just let me die."

"If you're going to die, then at least do it in class where I can take notes through the eulogy. C'mon, up, up, or we'll be late."

Only putting in just enough energy to get to her feet, she continued to flop around precariously, groaning all the while.

"But Adrien will be in class." Maybe she could call in sick. Or break her own arm. Or transfer to a different school.

"Maybe," Alya said, chuckling as she dragged Marinette out the door. "Unless he's still too stunned to make it there."

"Alya!"

But no amount of complaining garnered her any sympathy, and so she was trudging through the door a few moments before the bell whether she liked it or not. Gripping her bag to her chest, she was flushed as soon as she and Alya passed the doorframe, her gaze flicking to Adrien's seat whether she tried to remain focused on the floor or not.

She hadn't anticipated that he'd be looking back.

And while this caused her heart to freeze and her mortification to rise up all over again, it also allowed her an interesting view of Adrien's composure leaving him once again—if what Alya had claimed previously held any merit.

He'd been tapping his stylus on his desk, or so she assumed, and upon their eyes meeting, he'd lost his rhythm. Rather violently, the instrument went flying up into the air, escaping his hold before bouncing somewhat harshly off of Nino's cheek. Which caused him to "Hey!" in alarm as Adrien fumbled to retrieve it. His attempts weren't exactly graceful, however, and after a few clumsy grabs, he ended up slamming his hand loudly atop the desk, trapping the stylus beneath.

This drew the attention of a few giggling students, which in no way made the situation any easier to swallow. While the eye contact between them had been severed, Marinette could still make out the heated redness crawling up his neck—as well as his defensively hunched posture—as she quickly slipped past him to her seat.

It was a familiar pose—one she was all too familiar with. Which was, perhaps, what eased her own nerves some. While she was still horrified over what she'd said, it was somehow empowering, knowing it'd actually had an effect on Adrien. It'd made him nervous. Clumsy even.

For once, she wasn't alone in her discomfort.

Of course, it didn't exactly mean anything. Adrien's behavior could be caused by uneasiness at seeing her as well as anything else. But she wasn't sure she'd have been able to salvage any of her dignity if she'd walked in and he'd simply smiled sympathetically at her. Or, worse, ignored her completely.

It was nice, actually, knowing she wasn't the only one suffering the consequences of her slip up. Yet, that didn't mean she should take any pleasure in it. What she should do was apologize—make it completely clear to Adrien that she hadn't meant what she'd said and that he had no reason to feel uncomfortable around her.

Even if all she ever felt whenever he was in a room was anxiety and distress.

The bell hadn't rung yet. She still had time. And so she nearly reached out to him, pushing her own nerves down as best she could so as to make this right. Yet, before she'd made the effort to lean forward, hesitation flitted through her reaching fingers.

After all, what harm had she really done? She hadn't tripped into him on purpose—hadn't intended to assault him. And while she hadn't intended to confess anything to him either, it'd happened whether he believed it or not. There was no indignity in that, and certainly nothing she should be ashamed of. She'd been wanting to confess, after all. She'd made him that scarf and even sent him a valentine—though she'd forgotten to sign it.

She wanted to tell him, even if it was scary. And while this didn't exactly count as a confession, it was something, wasn't it? It'd gotten his attention at the very least.

No, her recovery hadn't been smooth, but her delivery had been. What if she'd been confident about it? What if she'd let the words roll between them the same way she was always seeing men on television deliver their own stupid lines? After all, she wasn't going to get anywhere constantly forgetting to sign her cards or gifts. Maybe, in a way, this was good. It was progress. Kind of.

"It'd probably be a nice surprise, a guy getting a cheesy pick-up line from a girl. We like to be romanced too, you know."

What if Chat was right? While she'd never admit to seeing truth in his words, he was still a guy. And so would probably know more about how boys felt than she did. And for all his silly flirting, he was sometimes quite charming in his own way. Maybe boys wanted girls to be forth-coming too. What if that was something Adrien liked?

Her stuttering shyness certainly hadn't gotten her anywhere. Might as well try something new, right?

Faltering, she eventually pulled her hand back, pressing her finger to her lips as she slumped in her seat. Staring at the back of his head, she watched as he reached up and rubbed his neck—a nervous gesture. Almost as though he knew she was watching him.

Like he finally knew she was there.

Smiling a bit to herself—despite her own persistent blush—she dared share a sly look with Alya before silently giggling to herself.

Maybe Chat wasn't such a litter-brain after all.