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Marinette's Secret

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            “Pound it!” Chat grinned, extending his fist to his partner. A purified white butterfly fluttered away while Ladybug’s magic patched up the city. Ladybug smiled and touched her fist to his in their typical congratulatory ritual before an awkward silence fell between them.

            It had been three days since they’d found out each other’s identities, and after fighting an akuma for the first time since, it was hard to resist the habit of parting ways. So they stood there awkwardly until Chat cleared his throat.

            “So, is it cool if I come hang out?” He asked cautiously. Part of him still hadn’t accepted the fact that the love of his life had been sitting behind him at school all along, and he especially couldn’t quite comprehend that she loved him back.

            “Uh, sure, yeah.” She clicked her tongue on the roof of her mouth. Seems he wasn’t the only one struggling to adapt.

            “You can introduce me to your parents again as, ya know…your boyfriend,” He rubbed the back of his neck. Ladybug-Marinette, his girlfriend, the thought still made his heart skip a beat. “And I can discover all of your dirty secrets.” He winked.

            That familiar playful smile broke out across her lips, and she stepped closer to him, folding her arms across her chest as she did so.

            “Nice try, but I don’t have any secrets, I-” Her eyes widened with horror, and he couldn’t stop the mischievous grin spreading across his face.

            “Do you have Ladybug pajamas? I bet you have Ladybug pajamas,” He nodded knowingly, and she blushed.

            “No! I don’t have any secrets!” She stomped her foot.

            “So, you won’t mind if I go have a look?” He laughed, vaulting himself over the edge of the roof.

            “Don’t you dare! I know where to find you, Adr-Chat!” She called, but he was already across the city, landing on her balcony.

            He slipped inside with an impish grin, eager to find what she was so embarrassed by. Everything seemed normal enou-

            He cupped a hand over his mouth, stifling a laugh as he beheld what was no doubt the root of her embarrassment. Vaguely, he registered the sound of her weight hitting the bed as she dropped in from the skylight, and he shifted his gaze to look at her, a smug smirk twisted across his lips.

            “Well, well,” He started, and her face fell into her hand. “I mean, I know you love me, but now I know you love me.”

            “It’s not what it looks like!” She insisted, cheeks as red as her suit.

            “No?” He turned back to admire his images, crossing his arms over his chest thoughtfully.

            “I like your dad’s work, and you model for him, so naturally I cut out pictures for inspiration, and- don’t touch that!” She grabbed his wrist as he tapped the space bar on her keyboard, pulling up her screensaver consisting of several images overlain with hearts.

            “Yeah, you like his work alright,” He chuckled. Not that he was really one to talk as he often spent his time perusing the Ladyblog. Still, it was amusing to see her squirm, and her schoolyard crush was kind of adorable, if a bit obsessive. But he’d spent months obsessing over her too, he supposed, so it didn’t bother him so much.

            “That’s just, um, sh-shut up!” She shoved his shoulder.

            “It’s cute.”

            “Shut up.” She looked away, covering her face.

            “You love me,” He smarmed, leaning in closer to her.

            “That’s not a secret anymore,” She said pointedly, looking up at him. “So, technically you still haven’t discovered any of my dirty secrets.”

            “Oh, I’d say this is pretty dirty.” He waggled his eyebrows suggestively.

            “I’m taking all of them down.”

            “What? No, my beautiful face!” He pouted.

            “Do you want to meet my parents again or not?” She sighed, pushing him toward the window. “Go down to the front door. I don’t want to explain to them how you got up here.”

            “Fine,” He rolled his eyes, extending his staff down the ground and climbing out. “But can you leave this one up? I look really good-”

            She shut the window forcefully and closed the blinds with a huff. He chuckled to himself as he slid down and released his transformation before heading inside. Taking the stairs two at a time, he quickly reached the door at the top and pressed his ear to the wood, listening in as Marinette explained to her parents.

            “So, um, you guys remember Adrien, right?” She started nervously.

            “How could we not, dear? You talk about him every day.” Her mother chuckled, and Adrien bit back a smile. She was never going to hear the end of this, and she knew it.

            “Right…Well, he’s, um, we’re, sort of, he’s my boy…friend.” She stammered in a way he’d become all too familiar with.

            He heard the sound of metal clanking against the floor, and there was a moment of stunned silence. As the silence pressed on, he began to worry that they were angry, but then he heard Tom’s heavy footfall and Marinette’s soft giggles.

            “Well, look at you! I thought I had a few years before I had to start worrying about boys, but my little girl’s all grown up!”

            “Papa!” She laughed, and Adrien pictured Tom lifting her into a big hug. “Um, actually, he’s kind of…here, so-”

            “Oh, well, let’s let him in!” Sabine fretted, rushing to the door. Adrien straightened himself, taking a deep breath as the door opened.

            “Hi…” He waved politely. “It’s good to see you again, Mr. and Mrs. Dupain-Cheng.”

            “Likewise, come on in,” Tom waved with a welcoming grin, so he stepped inside timidly.

            “Marinette was just telling us about you two,” Sabine could barely contain her excitement.

            “Yeah, I, uh, asked her out a few days ago, and lucky for me she said yes.” He replied carefully.

            He remembered the night fondly. The night time ran out, and they discovered their biggest secret. How adorably flustered Marinette got when she realized who he was all along. They spent hours atop the Eiffel Tower talking and laughing, exchanging transformation stories. She was everything he could have hoped for and more, and he didn’t waste any time confessing how he felt about her. Because she was Ladybug even without the mask, he realized. Always helping people and doing the right thing. Part of him still felt shocked that he hadn’t seen it sooner.

            “Oh, that’s not surprising, Marinette never shuts up about you.” Sabine giggled. He cast a sideways smirk at Marinette whose face fell into her hand, a common gesture nowadays, as her cheeks once again turned pink.

            “Oh really?” He cocked a brow. “What scandalous things have you said about me, sweetie?” Tom and Sabine ate it up.

            “Not that much. They’re exaggerating!” She tried to interject, but Tom and Sabine took their role of embarrassing parents very seriously.

            “Well, she’s always got her face buried in whatever magazine you’re on the cover of-”

            “I like to look at the designs!” She cut in to no avail.

            “And every day she comes home and gushes about you.” Sabine finished, turning to Tom who clasped his hands together near his head and batted his eyelashes.

            “Oh, guess what Adrien was wearing today? I loaned Adrien a pencil in physics today!” Tom raised his voice an octave, mocking his daughter, who sulked beside him.

            “I don’t sound like that…” She grumbled.

            “I can’t believe she said all those things. I’ve liked her for a while, but I never thought she ever even saw me.” He smiled mischievously at her, a look she returned with a glare.

            “Well, Marinette can be a little shy, so I bet you had a hard time figuring her out.” Her mother tsked.

            “It’s honestly one of her cuter qualities,” Adrien laughed, wrapping an arm around her shoulders.

            Tom and Sabine smiled warmly at them, deciding they had tortured their daughter enough for one day.

            “Well, we’re just excited that our Marinette fell for such a sweet boy who likes her back just as much.” Sabine gave his shoulder a gentle squeeze.

            “Now, just remember, Adrien, I am not a violent man, but I will count every one of her tears-”

            “Papa!” Mari growled, her face scrunching in that adorable way.

            “I’m kidding, but seriously, don’t make a violent man out of me. You treat her like a queen,” Tom gave him a stern look.

            “O-Of course. Wouldn’t dream of it, sir.” He winced.

            “Good,” Tom patted his shoulder as he passed them out the front door, heading down to the bakery for their afternoon rush.

            “We’ll check up on you periodically, okay?” Sabine warned, lingering in the doorway.

            “Mom,” Mari groaned, and Sabine covered her mouth to stifle a giggle then followed her husband down the stairs.

            “They’re nice,” Adrien commented as Marinette pinched the bridge of her nose.

            “You must think I’m psychotic.” She sighed.

            “Nah, you just love me,” He teased, wrapping his arms around her waist and pulling her against his chest.

            “I’m breaking up with you,” She pushed his nose away with one of her playful grins.

            “Aww, c’mon, Bugaboo. It’s adorable!” He held out his arms with a laugh.

            “Shut up,” She groaned, burying her face in his shirt.

            “Can I tell you a secret?” He murmured, hugging her tightly. Her response was another groan, so he continued, “I stalk the Ladyblog nonstop in my free time, and last February I wrote you love poems every day for like a week.”

            She perked up, glancing up at him with a small smile.

            “Well, then I guess we’re even.” She giggled.

            “So we are,” He leaned down and touched his nose to hers. “I love you.”

            “I love you, too, Adrien.”

            Gently, he closed the distance between their lips, tasting her breath and reveling in how fortunate he was that the girl he’d been crazy about for so long had been right behind him the whole time, and as it turned out, she was pretty crazy about him too.