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AU Yeah August 2018

Chapter Text

Adrien hated mornings.

Between his father’s photoshoots, school, his extracurriculars and his extra- extracurriculars waking up in general was never a pleasant experience.  But there was something particularly needling about rolling over in his sleep only to be stabbed awake by a stray pin to his thigh.

His father’s staff had long ago stopped checking on him when he yelped in pain.

Son of a bitch, he winced, rubbing at his bleeding skin. When Adrien finally met his soulmate they would be having words.

Of all the items to lose it just had to be needles.

A problem, really, as he frequently showed up to photo shoots with pin pricks and red scratches on his face. His father may be rich but there was only so much one could spend on band-aids.

And it wasn’t just in his bed.

They were everywhere.

In his shoes, on his bench, in the shower.

After one particularly unfortunate incident involving his boxers Adrien made sure to inspect his clothes very carefully before putting them on.

Plagg thought it was hilarious.

Or rather, he’d thought it was hilarious until he was on the receiving end of a few stray needles of his own. He wasn’t so amused after that.

“I’m a god not a pincushion,” He yowled, pulling yet another needle from his paw. “You find this person.  You find them soon or so help me--”

“Believe me, Plagg.  No one wants this to stop more than me.”

He’d tried asking Ladybug about it - an admittedly vain attempt at finding out if the love of his life was actually the love of his life - but it was a nonstarter.

“We can’t talk about that stuff, Chat.”

Which left Adrien back to where he started.

Unfortunate as he didn’t even know where to begin to look.  As a model who grew up with and around designers lost needles weren’t exactly an uncommon problem.  

He was literally looking for a soulmate in a needlestack.

“What the hell am I supposed to do?” He groaned as he pulled yet another stray needle from his backpack.  “This is absolutely ridiculous.”

“Tough luck,” Nino said, shooting his friend a sympathetic smile.

It wasn’t fair.  The worst Nino had to deal with was crumpled up papers and the occasional guitar pick. He didn’t have to pull needles from his pillow case before going to sleep at night.

“Seriously, Agreste,” Alix said, shooting him an exasperated glance across the empty hall as she slammed her locker shut. “If it bothers you so much why don’t you just talk to her about it?”

Adrien scowled.  “Gee, why didn’t I think of that.”

Alix rolled her eyes. “Then buy her a pincushion or something.  Sure, Marinette will probably lose that too but–”

“What?Adrien asked, his heart lurching up to his throat as he stared down his pink-haired classmate.

“Dude.” Nino exhaled.  “Dude.  That makes so much sense.

“You seriously didn’t know?” Alix took in his confusion with disbelief. “It’s so obvious.”

No it wasn't.  At least not to him.

At least not till now.

“Oh my god,” He whispered.  “Oh my god.”

Adrien didn’t have time to process this revelation before the locker room doors burst open and Marinette Dupain-Cheng came storming through, Alya trailing close behind.

“It’s getting ridiculous,” She huffed.  “I don’t even know where they go.”

Alya smirked, patting her friend’s arm consolingly. “I’m sure your soulmate is keeping them safe for you.”

“Well I wish they’d give them back,” She whined.  “I’m bleeding money buying all these replacement needles.”

That snapped him out of it.

“I have to disagree with you there,” Adrien said, causing the two girls to whirl around. Marinette’s eyes widened at his abrupt appearance as he stalked closer and closer and closer still until he was nearly pressing her back into the lockers. “If anyone here is doing the bleeding it’s definitely me.”

“A-Adrien?”

“I believe this belongs to you,” He murmured, eyes roving over her rapidly reddening face as if seeing her for the first time. He reached for her hands, nervously clutched in front of her chest, and slowly unfurled them to return her most recent loss.

Marinette stared dumbly at the silver sewing needle in her palm before looking up to meet his smirking grin.

“You really need to invest in a pincushion.”

Chapter Text

It had been a long week.

Job applications, internship write ups, and research papers aside, she’d somehow managed to get roped into Alya’s latest undercover endeavors for their university paper.  One eighteen hour stakeout later, Marinette was running on stale doughnuts and cold coffee and wanted nothing more than to crawl into bed and never leave.

In other words, Marinette was too tired to deal with this shit.

She scowled down at the naked, blonde Adonis passed out in her doorway and contemplated pretending she hadn't seen him.

It would probably be easier if he weren't curled up on her welcome mat.

“Um, excuse me,” She said, nudging his shin lightly.  The stranger grunted but did not move.

Excuse me,” She said again, kicking him a little harder with no result.

Marinette wasn’t a vindictive person by nature. But there was nothing natural about the ridiculous hours she’d been keeping over the past month and all of her good will was spent after eighteen hours in a cramped van with her crazed best friend.

She didn’t think twice before pulling out her half-empty water bottle and dumping its contents onto her unwelcome guest.

“Brhag!” He spluttered, nearly jumping to his feet before his dizziness caught up to him.

Marinette quickly averted her eyes as he shifted his… position.  “Morning sunshine.”

“Wha-aaah!” Her visitor’s voice strangled in his throat.  “Oh my god.

She could see him scrambling from the corner of her eye before he ripped up her welcome mat and covered his lap.  Marinette bit her lip to keep a sleep-high giggle from escaping.

Welcome indeed.

When she was sure he was sufficiently covered she turned back to face him only to find a familiar face.

“Aren’t you in Delamar’s Econ class?”

“This isn’t happening,” He groaned covering his face with his hands.  “This is not happening. I’m not naked in Ladybug’s hallway.”

Ladybug?

“Ladybug?”

He shook his head. “Your pencil case.”

“Ah.”

Her classmate’s hands migrated to clutch at his hair.  “I'm going to kill Kim.”

She giggled. She couldn't help it.  He looked so distraught.

Naked Econ boy stared up at her in awe.

Marinette frowned.  “What?”

“I love your laugh.” He blurted.  His eyes widened. “I mean- NO.  I don’t - not that it’s a bad laugh.  It’s amazing- you’re amazi- Oh god.”

She blinked, biting back a smile. “You sure are talking a lot.”

“I’m drunk or hungover and naked. Please don’t hold this against me.” He buried his face in his hands but she could still see pink tinging the tops of his ears.

Cute.

Marinette ruffled his hair as she moved passed him to opened her door. “I’m going to need you to put on some underwear before you say anything else.“

He watched her from the floor of her entryway as she grabbed a Ladybug spotted blanket off of her bed and tossed it over to him.

He looked down at the blanket in wonder.

Marinette leaned against the door frame. “Consider it a gift from Ladybug.”

Her mortified visitor let out a low whine. “Please kill me.”

“Maybe tomorrow,” She smirked, closing the door on him.  “I'm too exhausted to work up the energy.”

Chapter Text

She couldn’t do this.  She couldn’t do this. She couldn’t do this.

Marinette stared at the well worn door, eyes tracing over every weather-beaten scratch as if some one mark or other could make what she was absolutely not about to do any easier.

“Tikki, this is a terrible idea.” She murmured, fingers anxiously tap tapping on her rounded belly.  She smiled, more from exasperation than pleasure when she felt an answering kick.

Her daughter may be taking her sweet time but she had no qualms about letting Marinette know when she was annoyed.

The feeling is definitely mutual.

Two weeks.  

She was two weeks overdue and Marinette was going absolutely insane.

Forget morning sickness, painful gas, and night sweats.  The last nine months had nothing on these last two weeks.

“Trust me,” Tikki said, poking her head out of Marinette’s overnight bag. “This hasn’t failed a Ladybug yet!”

That’s what she was afraid of.

Marinette steeled herself before knocking on the too familiar door.  She heard shuffling on the other side, which was hardly surprising knowing the hours her partner usually kept.

A disheveled, mussy haired Adrien Agreste opened the door, dressed down to an old grey t-shirt and boxers.  He was mid-yawn when he realized who was knocking at his door at three in the morning.

“Marinette?” Suddenly he was a lot more awake. His eyes flashed nervously towards her stomach. “What’s going on? Is everything okay?”

No.  Everything is not okay.

“Yeah,” She said, shifting nervously from one foot to the other. “We’re good.  She’s good.”

Adrien didn’t look convinced as he reached for the bag on her shoulder and gently lead her inside.  It wasn’t the first time she’d shown up at his door in the middle of the night and it certainly wouldn’t be the last.

Chat Noir wasn’t her partner for nothing.

“Chamomile and honey?” He asked after setting her overnight bag on the couch.  Bless him, he didn’t even hesitate to put on a kettle as she waddled her way towards one of his kitchen stools.

Marinette nodded.  “And some cookies if you have any.”

Tikki shot her a beatific smile as she settled on the countertop next to Marinette’s anxious tapping fingers.

“Of course I do,” He said, shooting her a sleepy over-the-shoulder grin. “Only the best for my bugs.”

Marinette’s heart fluttered and she pillowed her head in her arms on the counter to avoid having to look at him.

He was just so good.

She honestly hadn’t known what she was going to do.  Nine months and two weeks back she had been walk of shaming herself out of some stranger’s apartment – only to wind up back on his doorstep a month later with a positive pregnancy test.

The father did not take the news well.

Overwhelmed and terrified she’d ended up confiding in the one person she felt she couldn’t disappoint.  Talking to her partner who didn’t actually know anything about her life was a lot easier than facing her parents or her friends. 

What she hadn’t been expecting– or maybe what’d she’d been expecting all along – was his immediate, unwavering support.

After all, her Chat Noir had never let her down before.

After a few weeks of anxious late night phone calls on their communicators– phone calls that consisted mostly of Chat’s fretting– Marinette and Tikki decided it would be best for everyone involved if they revealed their identities.

“Because you know,” Ladybug had said, taking her stupefied partner’s hand. “This kid is gonna need their uncle Chat.”

Or, as the case may be, their uncle Adrien.

It took a few days for Marinette to fully process that revelation.

But if Adrien was shocked, he didn’t show it.  He immediately threw himself into her life– offering to take her to doctor’s appointments, being at her beck and call for cravings, and serving as her emotional support blanket when everything became too much.

He’d even held her hand as she dropped the news on her parents and Alya – which initially caused an embarrassingly inaccurate understanding of her child’s paternity.

Taking it all in stride, Adrien was everything she could have needed from her partner.

Yet here she was, in his kitchen, working up the nerve to ask for more.

Damn you, Tikki.

As if she could read her thoughts, Tikki grabbed one of the cookies and zipped out of the room.  Although not before tossing her a wink.

Traitor.

Adrien passed her the mug of tea and leaned against the counter.  Marinette thanked him and did her best to ignore his adorably ruffled bed head and easy grin.  He always looked more like Chat in these moments and she hated how much it affected her.

“So my lady,” He said.  “What brings you here this lovely evening?”

Oh, you know.  My kwami wants us to have sex.  The usual.

Marinette rolled her eyes and took a sip from her mug.  Yeah, like she could say that.

Adrien made a strangled, squeaky choking sound.  She looked up in concern to see him staring at her, red faced, mouth open.

“E-excuse me?” He managed.  She frowned at her partner as he looked ready to faint.  “Tikki wants us to- to what?

“What are y...” She trailed off, horrified as she realized she’d spoken aloud.

Oh no.

Oh no no no no no no no no no.

Marinette’s eyes welled up with unbidden tears and she buried her rapidly paling face in her arms.  “I didn’t mean to say that!

Her partner remained silent and she didn’t dare look up at him as she sniffled into her– his – oversized hoodie that she’d swiped months ago.

“I’m just… so sick of being pregnant,” She sobbed.  “I’m so uncomfortable.”

She heard the shuffling of bare feet on tile as her partner approached her cautiously.  She felt the warmth from his hands seep through the fabric of her clothes as he gently rubbed her back, pulling her close.

“Shh,” He murmured.  “Shh. It’s okay. I’m here.”

“I know,” She moaned, giving up on her dignity and allowing Adrien to pull her close.  Burying her soaking face in his neck and gripping his t-shirt tightly. “You’re just so good.  And I’m– I’m– so fucking pregnant.”

Adrien hugged her tighter and smothered his laughter in her hair.  Marinette pulled back and scowled.

“It’s not funny.”

Her partner pursed his lips to hold back his grin and failed.  “Come on, Bug. It’s a little funny.”

“You’ve clearly never been pregnant.” She snapped.

“Can’t say that I have, no.” He said, humming softly.  Marinette couldn’t meet his eyes and focused on her fidgeting hands instead.

“Tikki,” She began, hesitantly.  “Tikki said that– that sex could help induce labor. She h-hasn’t shut up about it for the last nine days.”

“O-oh?”

“I t-told her.  I told her that there was no w-way that was going to happen.” She squeezed her eyes shut, mortified as she felt the tears welling up again.  “I’m single and severely, severely pregnant.”

She felt Adrien shifting against her side as she continued.

“She said… she suggested… that… Chat Noir… you... might be… oh my god.”

“Oh.” He said, dumbstruck, his shaky hand moving from her back to run through his hair. “S-So Tikki wants me to…to...”

Marinette buried her face in her hands and screamed.  Before Adrien had time to react she pushed herself off the stool and began pacing (waddling) anxiously around the living room.

“I know it’s crazy.  I know.  And I told her so, Chat.  I told her over and over and over again.” She gave a hysterical laugh and whirled around to face him.  “But it’s been two weeks over nine months and I’m losing my mind, kitty.  I’m losing it.”

She missed her partner’s softening eyes as she shook her head.

“Please.  Please.  Can we just... forget this ever happened?” She wiped at her eyes furiously with her sleeves.  “It was just a rough night. I was- I wasn’t thinking straight. I’m so s-sorry.”

She finished on an exhausted wail as Adrien pulled her into his arms as tightly as her stomach would allow.  She sobbed out her embarrassment and frustrations on the man she’d fallen for twice over and could never have.  Not in that way anyways.

“It’s okay, my lady.  It’s going to be okay.”

But he was still her Chat.  He would always be her Chat.  She wasn’t going to lose him over this.  They weren’t going to lose him.

“I’ll do it. Of course I’ll do it.”

Emma was going to have a good man in her life.  Her uncle Chat was going to be there for her. He was going to–

“W-What did you say?” She stammered, pulling away to look in her partner’s face.

She couldn’t possibly have heard him right.

“I said okay,” He murmured, his cheeks flushed as he held her gaze.

“But… but…” Marinette was sure she was having a stroke.  “What?"

“Buginette,” Adrien said, dropping a kiss to her forehead that made her heart flutter.  “I’ve been in love with you since we were fourteen. If I even thought for a second you’d want me–”

“I do!” She blurted, her hands grabbing his arms.  She couldn’t even be embarrassed. Not when this was her Chat saying such wonderful things.  “Want you, that is. Of course I do.”

Adrien’s smile nearly blinded her as his hands found her waist.  Her fingers tightened on his arms and she looked away.

“My lady,” He said softly, pulling her closer. “Why am I sensing a but?”

She winced, but didn’t push him away, instead choosing to bury her face in his chest. “It’s not– it’s not really fair to you is it?”

He nuzzled her hair and gently swayed her. “Hmm?”

“With me.  With Emma. It’s never going to be just us.”

His hand found her chin and guided her to meet his gaze.

“Marinette,” He said, his voice scratchy with emotion.  “I already love Emma because she’s yours. I couldn’t love her anymore if she were mine.”

“I was so… insanely jealous that she wasn’t.” He admitted, smiling.  “But I realized– it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter because I’ll be there.  I’ll always be there. Whether you need a babysitter or someone to wake up with her in the middle of the night or… or helping you now. I want to be here with you both.  In any way you’ll have me.”

Marinette never was good at suppressing her emotions.

She let out a happy sob and threw herself at her partner who held her just as tight.

“How. Are. You. So. Wonderful?” She said, peppering light, frantic kisses into his neck and chest.  “My. Wonderful. Wonderful. Kitty.”

Adrien laughed and scooped her up into his arms. She let out a startled squeak before bursting out into giggles as he carried her towards his bedroom.

“So my lady,” He said, shooting her a devious grin. “What exactly did Tikki recommend?”

Chapter Text

“There’s another akuma,” Tikki said, hovering anxiously over Marinette’s shoulder.

“Mhmm,” She murmured, pins between her teeth as she tugged the loose fabric of her latest project into place. “I can hear the news report just as well as you can.”

“Well, are we going to do anything about it?”

“You know the drill, Tikki.” Marinette frowned at a particularly stubborn pleat.  “Chat Noir can bring it to me when they’re done.”

Marinette,” The kwami chided softly.  “This isn’t how it’s supposed to be.”

She shrugged, pushing herself away from her desk to stretch.

“Yeah, well.  I didn’t sign up for this.  And the police don’t seem to want our help anyways so what’s the point?”

Tikki flew up to meet Marinette’s eyes with her own.

“Because you’re a superhero.”

She snorted.

“Because you’re a good person.”

“That’s debatable,” She said, shoulders slumping.  “What else you got?”

“Hawkmoth’s after your earrings too, you know!”

“All the more reason to stay inside where he can’t get them,” Marinette said, moving past her kwami to grab her school bag.  “Don’t worry, Tikki. I’ll do my job– I’ll fix the city. But in the meantime I’ve got homework to do. Call me when it’s done.”

“But what about Chat Noir?” She cried, fluttering around Marinette’s head.  “He’s going to need your help. He’s going to need his partner.”

Marinette hesitated, her forehead wrinkling in concern as she worried her bottom lip. For a moment Tikki thought she might have finally gotten through to her wayward charge–

Only for her to shake her head stubbornly.

“Chat’s strong.  He doesn’t need me.” Tikki’s antennae drooped as she watched Marinette descend down the trap door.  Her heart nearly broke as she heard her charge’s parting words.

“No one does.”

Chapter Text

It was all Nino’s fault, really.

If his best friend hadn’t overloaded Adrien’s washing machine and then broken it, none of this would have happened.

He wouldn’t have had to wait a week for a repairman to come out and fix it, his father wouldn’t have scheduled a big shareholder’s dinner during that same timeframe and Adrien wouldn’t have had to make do with the laundromat four blocks over.

And if all of that hadn’t happened then he definitely would not have made a fool of himself in front of the cute girl with the ladybug slippers.  He wouldn’t have fallen head over heels for her sly grin, her bright eyes, or the way she bit back laughter as she took in his laundry day attire (grey t-shirt and black cat pants) and called him the cat’s pyjamas.

And he definitely, positively, absolutely, would not have come back every week since.

But Nino did break his washing machine, his father had scheduled a shareholder’s dinner, and Adrien had stumbled into his neighborhood laundromat at ten-thirty on a Thursday night only to fall into a debilitating, awkward, painfully obvious crush.

Dude,” Nino said, watching as he stuffed yet another laundry bag full of dirty clothes.  “It’s been seven weeks.”

“Six and a half,” Adrien corrected, for the sake of his dignity. 

It occurred to him that knowing the exact amount of time that had passed since his mockery of a courtship began probably wasn’t doing his dignity any favors but he pushed the thought aside in favor of sorting through the clothes he was going to bring.

Nothing too embarrassing, one or two pieces that could start a conversation, something nice so she knows I could take her out…

Nino watched his deliberations with increasing horror.  “This is just getting sad.”

“According to you and Chloe this was always sad.”

He snorted. “Yeah, well. You’ve just outdone yourself on the Tragedy Scale, which, considering your dick of a father, I didn’t even know was possible.”

Adrien rolled his eyes.  “If you’re done making fun of me now–”

“I never said that.”

“–Then please get out.  I’m supposed to meet up with Marinette in half an hour.”

Nino shook his head.  “I don’t get why you don’t just ask her out.  Or invite her here to do laundry where it’s free and you have AC.”

Adrien walked him to the door, keys, quarters, and laundry in hand.

“It’s not that easy, Nino.”

“I’m just saying,” He said, eyebrows waggling.  “You can do a hell of a lot more than talking if you had her up here.”

Goodbye, Nino.”

Chapter Text

It was late in the evening when she was able to sneak away.

Marinette loved her roommates, she really did, but there was something to be said about having your own bedroom.  It was the thing she missed most about home, right after the internet and sensible pens.

Even still, there was no place she loved more than Beauxbatons.

It was only their second week back from summer holidays but the thrill of being back on school grounds had yet to wear off.  She loved her parents dearly but the long, hot days devoid of spells and runes and enchantments was more than her muggleborn heart could bear.

Returning here after months away she felt a part of herself stirring back to life.

Slipping out of her dormitory and down the starlit, window pane halls was much less terrifying in her seventh year.  She remembered her former fear– breaking the rules when she was still learning this new and strange world– eleven years old and too proud to turn down a dare.

Look at me now, she grinned, pulling back one of the ancient tapestries to reveal a hidden staircase.  From there it was relatively easy to navigate the dark stairwells and underground passageways that lead up to a trapdoor in the equipment shed on the quidditch pitch.

She could hardly suppress her grin as she took in the smell of wet grass, old wood, and dirt.

This is what she missed the most.

Her fingers ran lovingly along the school-provided brooms mounted on the walls.  She could feel the itch beneath her skin, urging her on, begging her to take one and fly.

“I was wondering when you were going to show up.”

Marinette yelped, nearly toppling over as she whirled around to face her unwelcome visitor.  Her shoulders tightened as she recognized the obnoxiously-ruffled blonde stepping out from the shadows.

“You know it’s after curfew right?”

Adrien grinned. “Don’t worry, Spots.  I’m not gonna snitch on you.”

Marinette rolled her eyes.  “How did you know I’d be here?”

“Call it a lucky guess.”

She pursed her lips.  “You’ve been waiting out here every night haven’t you?”

“I’ll never tell.”

That was a yes then.

She’d give him that; her beating partner was nothing if not persistent.

“If you wanted to meet up you could have just sent me a note.”

“Oh?” He said, leaning back against one of the wooden benches that lined the room.  “Would you have actually answered this time?”

She shrugged, hoping the dim lighting in the shed hid her blush.

“Hmm.” He studied her carefully. “So if I hadn’t caught you here tonight what would have happened at practice on Wednesday?”

“Quidditch.”

Marinette.”

She threw up her hands, frustrated.  This was not the conversation she wanted to be having tonight.  Or ever, really.

“I don’t know what you want me to say, Adrien.  It’s been three months – I was kind of hoping we could just forget the whole thing.”

“You kissed me.” He said and the look on his face was more than she could bear. 

It was the same look he’d had all those months ago.  Disbelief and confusion and that terrifying, indefinable something that sent her running from him in the first place.

“I was drunk.”

“I kissed you back,” Adrien said, softly, taking a step towards her.

You were drunk.” She pushed past him towards the entrance to the pitch.  There were two people too many in the shed.

He was quick to follow after her.

“I was not and you know it.”

The night was cool and cloudless, a million stars spread out behind and beyond the black mountain peaks that surrounded them.  It would have been beautiful if she wasn’t so annoyed.

“Can we please just drop this?” She said scrubbing her face with her hands.

That whole week had been one mortifying revelation after another.

Finding out that her internship application for one of the premiere magical fashion labels was rejected. Breaking down during their last quidditch practice and snotting all over her partner. Discovering only hours later that their entire year had a betting pool on them.  And learning that everyone and their owl knew she had a crush on smarmy, dorky, insufferable Adrien Agreste except her.

Was it any wonder she lost her goddamn mind at the farewell party?

She’d risked their partnership on a firewhiskey whim. 

And she was absolutely not ready to face the consequences.

“I don’t want to drop it,” Adrien said, grabbing her hand in his. Marinette whirled around and was startled to discover how close he was. “I’ve spent months trying to analyze, forget, then analyze it all over again.”

His thumb traced circles over her palm.

“I read tea leaves.” He whispered pathetically.

And there it was.

Marinette laughed.  She couldn’t help it.

The confession was just so… him.

“See, Bug,” He said, eyes alight with triumph. “It doesn’t have to be awkward.  It can just be us.”

“There’s an us?” She said, staring down at their feet.  She could feel the heat pooling in her cheeks and out here with the open sky there was no way he couldn’t see it.

Adrien’s hands slid up to her arms and he swayed her softly from side to side.

“Why are you quaffling over this?”

Marinette’s eyes snapped to his.

Really?

He continued, undaunted, lips twitching.  “It’s not nice to keep me in suspense.”

Oh my god.” She shook off his hold and stomped away, scowling. “I cannot believe you right now.”

“But my lady,” He grinned, chasing after her.  “It’s only your heart that I seek.”

“I swear Agreste I’m not above hexing you into next semes–EEE!

Adrien laughed as his partner squealed in indignation as he lifted her up and twirled her around and around.

“Not if I beat you to the punch.” He sang.

Marinette buried her face in his shoulder to hide her smile. “You’re awful.”

“Actually, I’m pretty good, D-C.” He said, leaning towards her with a smarmy grin. “I could teach you a thing or two.”

“I’m sure you could,” She hummed, pushing him back by his nose and struggling out of his arms.  “But I think I’ve learned enough for tonight.”

His hands fidgeted nervously as she moved out of his hold.  A wave of anxiety and affection threatened to overwhelm her in the face of his uncertainty.

It doesn’t have to be awkward.  It can be just us.

Swallowing down her own nerves Marinette took his hand.

Adrien looked down at it in wonder.

“Yeah?”

She squeezed his fingers, entwining them with her own.

“Yeah.”

Chapter Text

“Seriously, dude. It’s not that big a deal,” Nino said, holding out a white button down for his inspection.  Adrien nodded, without really seeing.

The phrase not that big a deal reverberated like a shot through his veins.

Not that big a deal, he says, like Adrien wouldn’t kill any other man to be in his position.

He was a terrible friend. 

The worst.

When he initially put Nino up for this reiteration of France’s The Bachelor he’d done so with the intentions of pulling his best friend out of his two-year dating slump.  It was never the plan to develop a ridiculously inappropriate crush on the one woman Nino actually seemed to like.

He knew it wasn’t on purpose.  He knew that.  But if Nino really had wanted him to suffer through this process with him then he’d definitely succeeded.

He called them Best Friend dates.

It was one of Nino’s many stipulations about participating in what he so lovingly called the prostitution of his self-respect.  If he had to appear on the show then there was no way in hell Adrien was getting out of it.

“After all,” He’d said.  “How can she be the One if she doesn’t get along with my bro?”

Adrien saw through his friend’s bullshit.

The producers loved it.

In the beginning Nino only sent him on dates with his most irritating suitors.  That strategy lasted about three weeks before he realized it was more a punishment than revenge.  After all, while Adrien was out approving his dates, Nino was seeking approval of his own.

And if he hated spending time with the women on the show he sure as hell wasn’t going to enjoy going out with their friends.

But Adrien would have gone on a thousand terrible dates if it made his friend happy.  As it was, he was starting to despair of Nino gaining anything from this experience.

That was, until he met her.

Blue eyes, killer smile, and a love for puns that could rival his own -- Marinette Dupain-Cheng was five foot something heartbreak.

Which is all his heart could really do as Adrien watched his best friend pick out his clothes for the evening…

and the following morning.

The words fantasy suite were an anchor in his stomach.

“I get that it doesn’t have to be a big deal,” Adrien said, lying. “But it should be nice.  To see Marinette without all the cameras around.”

Nino hmm’d his agreement but didn’t add anything else.

Adrien’s jaw clenched.

He felt ugly, black and biting jealousy settle like a viper in his throat.  Only twelve weeks into this farce and there he was– ready, willing, eager to strike out at the one person who had always been there for him.

God, he was really in it this time.

Chapter Text

Plagg didn’t get it.

For all of his charge’s wonderful qualities–  her love of baked cheesy bread, the little scarves she knit for him, her delightful penchant for stealing phones– he couldn’t understand her taste in boys.

Particularly this boy.

He scowled down at the oblivious, sleeping idiot passed out on the library table.

Sure, he was kind of attractive by human standards.  He had eyes and a nose and ears in all the acceptable places.  And he’d been relatively nice to Marinette whenever the ridiculous girl managed to form a coherent sentence.

But he was nothing miraculous– at least not by any measure he could see.

Even if he was Tikki’s chosen.

Besides, what good was her Harlequin to his Jynx if the oblivious idiot couldn’t even see that she was absolutely gone over him?  For all of Harlequin’s nauseating professions of devotion and appetite-killing pick up lines when the so-called love of his life was standing in front of him he was blind.

Sure, Tikki said it was the magic but she didn’t have to watch Marinette’s face every time she made a fool of herself.  She didn’t have to watch her charge’s so-called partner fail to protect her from the cartoonishly evil, easily squashed classroom bully.

She didn’t have to watch her charge fall apart under the pressure to be always good, always patient, always kind

Even after days like this when nearly every line of decency had been crossed.

He wasn’t surprised.  Not anymore.

With all of his girl’s endless, endless babbling about her sweet, gorgeous, amazing, lonely, talented, thoughtful, angelic, living embodiment of walking sunshine, hung the goddamn moon in the sky crush, it wasn’t a wonder that she wrote away his biggest imperfection even when it hurt her.

But Plagg was the god of destruction.

He wasn’t Tikki.

He wasn’t under any obligation to be good or patient or kind.

And he wouldn’t hesitate to remind this insignificant boy of that fact.

He floated just above the sleeping blonde’s head, very aware of Tikki’s disapproving glare from the pocket of the boy’s overshirt.

“Listen here, bug,” He said, voice dirt-low. The boy – Adrien – shifted but did not wake. “I don’t care that you’re her partner.  I don’t care that you’re fifteen.”

Plagg circled the boy’s head, his distress visible in the tensing of his shoulders and the sleep-tight frown of a nightmare.  Good.  He’s listening.

He stopped just beside his ear to make sure he was heard.

Because he would be heard.

“If you ever pull a stunt like that around my girl again... Cataclysm will be the least of your worries.”

Chapter Text

It started out as a joke.

The sickening nicknames, the hand holding, the bunny kisses when the kids thought they thought no one else was around– three years of serving as Miraculous camp counselors meant they had their routine down pat.  After all, who were they to disappoint all of the little matchmakers that descended on them every summer?

If the occupants of the Ladybug and Chat Noir cabins thought that Marinette Dupain-Cheng and Adrien Agreste belonged together well that’s just the way it was going to be.  Marinette long ago discovered that pretending to be in love was a lot easier than dealing with a hoard of well-intentioned ten-year olds.

Good evening, my lady~

are you ready for your dashing knight to pick you up?

Marinette grinned as she read over Adrien’s texts.  Always ready to put on a show, the nerd managed to turn walking to their staff meeting into an event for her girls.

She grabbed the red lipstick from her makeup bag and got to work.

If he wanted to put on a show far be it from her to hold back.

A chorus of girlish shrieks and giggling and excited whispers let her know her “date” for the evening was on his way.  She’d been more than a little amused by their determined sentry at the windows as they kept watch on the Chat Noir cabin.

By the time they were all calling “Ladybug, Ladybug, Ladybug!” and rushing into her room to grab her she was already holding her clipboard and keys.

“Chat Noir is here!”

“He’s so cute.”

“Are you two going to kiss?”

“Stupid, we know they kiss.  Don’t you remember the lake?”

“I know I sure do,” Adrien grinned as dozens of tiny hands sent her stumbling out of her room.  Marinette rolled her eyes, trying not to blush too much under his laughing gaze.  The stupid idiot was leaning calm-as-you-please against the cabin’s door frame, arms crossed, muscles bunched under the sleeves of his shirt.

Fake dating this smarmy cat every summer was a lot of things but at least he was easy on the eyes.

Marinette returned his smirk with one of her own as she stood up on her toes to plant a vibrant, red kiss on his cheek.  She hummed as she pulled away, pleased that her idiot boy looked at least a little off balance and that her lipstick had left its mark.

She knew from experience that he would need to track down some makeup remover if he had any hope of washing it off.  And she wasn’t going to be the one to offer hers unless he asked very, very nicely.

The girls erupted into more shrieks and giggles as Marinette patted his cheek lightly before stepping away.

“I’m sure you remember a lot of things, Kitten.”

She knew her partner well, so when Adrien’s eyes flashed at her challenge, Marinette twirled out of his reach and down the front steps of their porch.

“Be safe, girls!  We’ll be back in an hour.”

“Take your time!” One of them shouted back before eyeing the frozen boy in front of them.  He met her raised eyebrow with one of his own. “You should take her out after the meeting.  We’ll be fine here.”

Adrien blinked.  His hand came up to touch the spot on his cheek where Marinette had kissed him and he shot the nosy camper a devious smile.

“I’ll definitely keep that in mind.”

Chapter Text

Marinette knew as soon as they walked into the restaurant that something was wrong.

Luka, bless him, thought her mid-doorway stop was due to discomfort and squeezed her hand reassuringly.

“You’re beautiful anywhere.”

She smiled, absently, but continued scanning their elegant surroundings.  Clinking glasses, low conversation, and soft piano music filtered throughout the restaurant.  Men and women dressed to the nines, candles flickering in the dim light, and a small booth for two, in the back like she liked.

Something was very wrong.

“I think we should–”

“Table for two?”

Luka smiled and tugged her forwards after the maître de.  Marinette studied the room, humming her thanks as they were handed menus and told their waiter would be with them shortly.

“Do you not like it here?”

Her eyes snapped back to her date who was watching her with concern.  “If it’s too fancy we can go somewhere else.”

“It’s lovely,” She said, flashing him her best smile.

Luka returned it with a grin of his own and brought her hand to his lips.  “You’re lovely.”

Her knuckles tingled as she pulled away and Marinette did her best to stamp down the anxious something that pricked the back of her mind.

She needed to relax.

Three years without a break and it was like she had forgotten what it was like to just… be.  God knows she hadn’t flown halfway around the world to worry about work.

She was on vacation dammit.  No one knew she was even here.

“And what can I get started for the lovely couple?”

Son of a bitch.

The waiter’s gleeful green eyes flashed dangerously at her giving him away despite his demure smile.

That goddamn, sneaking cat .

Marinette swallowed down her scream.

Luka closed his menu and passed it over. “Could we get started with a bottle of your best Montrachet?”

The blonde raised a skeptical brow and looked towards her.  “Is that what the lady wants?”

She bit back her scowl at his soft emphasis on lady.  “That’s fine.”

Their waiter shot her a disbelieving look before retreating to the bar.  She looked back towards her date and his frown.

“Are you okay?”

“I’m fine.”

She was so not fine.

She’d told him.  She’d told him that under no uncertain terms was he to disturb her over these next few weeks.

And what does he do?

Et Voila.  A bottle of Montrachet for the gentleman.  And a glass of our finest Pinot Noir for the lady.”

Marinette pursed her lips as she took the glass not bothering to suppress her glare. This meddlesome, curious, stalking stray. 

He met her angry eyes head on.

What are you going to do about it, Buginette?

She started to take a sip from the glass when Luka stayed her hand.  

“I’m sorry sir but we ordered the Montrachet. We’re not paying for the red.”

“It’s on the house then,” He smiled, the expression not at all friendly.  “Whatever the lady wants.”

Her date looked between them in confusion.

“Am I missing something?”

Marinette rubbed her temples, feeling the telltale signs of a headache coming on.

God help her she did not sign up for a pissing contest today.

“Luka, Adrien.  Adrien, Luka.” She shot Adrien a look.  “Can we get back to dinner now?”

Her date wasn’t to be deterred. “And he is…?”

She sighed.  She was too sober for this shit.

“My ex.” She snapped.

Or at least he will be when I get my hands on him.

Luka frowned, glancing back towards the handsome blonde.  “Boyfriend?”

Adrien flashed a gleaming grin. “Partner.”

Oh?” A biting edge slipped into Luka’s voice and he leaned forward to take her hand in his.  “How… interesting.”

It wasn’t.  It really, really wasn’t.

Marinette grabbed her wine glass and took a healthy swallow.

All she wanted was a goddamn vacation.

Chapter Text

Nino was freaking out.

Adrien watched, confused and a little heartbroken at the devastation on his friend’s face.

All over a fish.

“He can’t die, Adrien.” He said, pacing back and forth across their living room floor, his red hat twisted like a wet rag in his hands.  “He can’t.  I just got him!”

“I’m sure he’s fine,” Adrien said, watching as the clearly not fine fish drooped to the bottom of his bowl.

Dude,” Nino whirled towards him, betrayal in his eyes.  “You said you’d never lie to me.”

Adrien gestured helplessly.

He really wasn’t good at this kind of stuff.

“Do you think there’s an emergency vet who will take him?”

The question was clearly rhetorical as Nino was already searching on his phone.  Adrien resisted the urge to groan as he thought about how to deter his misguided friend from bringing his fish to the emergency room.

Thankfully he was saved from that particular argument by a pounding at the door. Knowing Nino was in no way capable of dealing with company Adrien answered it only to nearly slam it shut when confronted by their very angry neighbor.

He sighed, running a hand through his hair. Fucking perfect.

Alya Cesaire scowled

“Can we help you?” He said as the short, shaking woman did her best to glare him out of existence.

Adrien wasn’t exactly sure what he’d done to piss off their downstairs neighbors.  During the girls’ first day in the complex everything was friendly enough. He and Nino had even helped them move in.  But that meeting had ended awkwardly and the next time he saw Alya and her roommate the red head was like a viper with a hair-trigger temper and the previously talkative Marinette was a stuttering, blushing disaster.

Their acquaintanceship only deteriorated from there.

Well… his did.  Nino was somehow still in Alya’s good graces though that didn’t keep him from getting caught in their crossfire.

It was irritating. He’d been likened to a ray of sunshine by more than a few people over the years and he didn’t appreciate the tar she’d seemed to smear all over him.

“You’re doing it again.” She said, her foot tapping.

Adrien tilted his head, inviting further explanation.  There was a long list of complaints Alya had with him. She would need to be more specific.

She rolled her eyes.  “The stomping around – it’s like you’re hiding a herd of elephants in here.”

“I’m sorry,” He said, not sorry at all.  “But unfortunately we can’t truncate their stay.”

Alya’s scowl, if possible, deepened.

“Oh come on.  That was a good one!”

She opened her mouth, scathing retort on her lips when Nino’s heartbroken cry cut her off.  Like snuffing out a candle, Alya’s expression switched from hostile to concerned.

“What’s going on?” She asked, already pushing her way into the apartment, giving him a hard shove for good measure.

Adrien’s indignant Excuse you! was drowned out by Nino’s panicked babbling.

Alya seemed to get the gist of the situation though despite his incoherent friend.  Carefully she picked up the fish bowl and started towards the door.

“Don’t worry, Nino.” She said, his best friend trailing in her wake.  “We can save him.”

Chapter Text

The room was unbearably warm, foreign dignitaries and monarchs alike all crowded together in the main assembly chambers of his father’s palace.  When Gabriel first requested his appearance at the peace meetings between Papillion and the neighboring Miraculous kingdoms Adrien assumed he was finally going to be entrusted with some responsibility.

He should have known better than to get his hopes up. 

He stifled another yawn as he listened to their prime minister drone on about shared borders and inter-kingdom property rights.  He could feel Gabriel’s disapproving stare from across the room but chose to ignore him. After all, his father had made it very clear that his primary responsibility during these talks was to be seen and not heard.

There was nothing he hated more than being an ornament for diplomacy.

His eyes wandered the crowd, only to catch on one of the Paon representatives.  Whoever they were, they seemed to be having more difficulty staying awake than him.  The diplomat’s head dipped down and up as he struggled against his baser instincts.

Adrien smothered a grin.

“At least someone is getting some rest.” He murmured.

A muffled giggle from behind caught his attention.  Adrien hesitated for a moment before turning to face his co-conspirator only to feel the breath rush out of him as he came face to face with a pair of bright blue eyes. 

Eyes made all the more captivating by the glint of mischief that seemed to dance in the candlelight.

Oh.

He turned back around, cheeks aflame.

Princess Marinette of Coccinelle.

Adrien hadn’t officially met her yet, but he knew of her all the same.

It was hard not to hear about her.  Especially when he made a point of keeping up to date on all the goings on in that area of Miraculous.

For diplomacy reasons, of course.

The fact that by all accounts Princess Marinette was regarded as just and clever and kind had no bearings on his research whatsoever.  That she was reported to have the bluest eyes this side of the sea absolutely did not influence his desire to take a larger role in Papillion’s diplomatic relations.

And last night Adrien most certainly did not excuse himself from his father’s banquet to wallow in his disappointment when the princess and her party did not arrive in time for the festivities.

“Do you think he’ll start snoring?”

Adrien nearly jumped out of his seat as he felt more than heard the princess’s low words.  After all, how could he not when she nearly whispered them into his neck.

“W-w-w-h–at?” He squeaked earning him a few disapproving looks from those immediately around them.

A breathy laugh, light and low, hit his skin sending him further down his fanatic spiral.

Oh god.

“Or not,” She murmured, leaning back into her seat.

Adrien chanced a look over his shoulder and met her laughing eyes.  He couldn’t manage to find the appropriate words but she seemed to understand his lost look all the same.

She smiled.

“Pay attention, your highness.  You never know when international relations will get interesting.”

Chapter Text

Chat Noir never knew when he was going to see her again.

Each turn of the wheel, each roll of the dice, each new call to service –

the hows of the universe never made their work easy–

but it was ultimately kind.

Every life, every transformation, every breath would always lead them back to each other no matter how the past may have ripped them apart before.

Like a vibration under his skin, like the weight of his miraculous on his finger, like coming home–

they’ve been at it for millennia.

He never knew when he was going to see her again

but

"Tag,” She whispered into his ear.

He whirled around to meet his partner’s blue, blue eyes.

Her face was new, but he would know Ladybug’s smile anywhere.

“You’re it.”

He couldn’t stop his tears or half-broken laugh if he tried.  She giggled and cried with him as he swept her up and around in a familiar dance.

The hows of the universe never made their work easy–

Too long.  It had been too long.

but it was ultimately kind.

Chapter Text

“Thernkoufrherpngmer,” She muttered through pins as her shaky hands adjusted the cuffs of Adrien’s pants.

Or rather her pants. 

He was just kind enough to serve as her model.

“Of course!  I’m honored you even thought of me.”

Adrien would say that, she thought, shaking her head.  No matter how often he heard it the boy never seemed to realize just how attractive he was.

He was practically built for the runway.

Fortunately for him, his mother wasn’t one to push unwanted extracurriculars on her son.  No, Emilie Agreste was happy enough letting him pursue his own dreams in the way her parents never approved of hers.

Marinette had heard him tell the story a thousand times.  But she never got tired of seeing Adrien’s proud smile when he spoke of his mother and her pursuit of an acting career.

And how she loved him enough to leave it all behind.

Adrien never said that part of course.  It’s just something Marinette knew. 

After all, wasn’t she in his position reversed?

“Of course I thought of you!” She said.  “You’re perfect.”

Adrien’s smirk had her backtracking.

“F-for this!  Perfect for this I mean.” He laughed and she scowled.

“Shut up.”

“It’s fine, Marinette.  I know what you meant.”

He absolutely did not know what she meant but that was probably best for her dignity anyways.

Marinette hummed, foregoing further conversation.  Adrien’s eyes scanned her very large, very pink bedroom.  His eyes caught on the large textbooks on her desk.

They almost looked like...

“Engineering?” He said, eyebrows raising as he looked back down to his friend.

Marinette smiled at his confusion and shrugged. “I like puzzles.”

“Wow,” He said, trying his best not to fidget as she finished with the last few pins.  He was looking at her like he always did- with warmth and kindness and awe.

Alya said it was because he liked her.  Marinette unfortunately knew better.

“That must be really hard– balancing everything I mean.”

“It's fine.”

She didn't want to talk about how it was hard.  Not when he seemed so impressed by her so-called accomplishments in the first place.

Never mind that they were the result of affectionate, guilty distant parents.  She loved her maman and papa and she was thrilled that they were out in the world living their dream.

She just wished their dream included Paris.  She just wished their dream included her.

Adrien was frowning. She quickly waved off the questions she could see forming in his eyes.

“Don't worry about it.” She said, standing up and back to admire her work. “Besides, it’s actually kind of fun.  Seeing how to marry the two in my designs.”

Satisfied with the result she turned Adrien around to face the mirror.  Her heart flipped at his delighted grin.

“Marinette, this is amazing.”

She blushed.  She couldn’t help it.  Adrien Agreste was the kind of earnest, genuine soul that demanded to be impressed.

It was one of the reasons she liked being around him.  There were very few people in her life that made her feel like she didn’t have to try.  That just being Marinette was… enough.

She liked being enough.

Chapter Text

Marinette was halfway through getting ready for bed when the front door slammed shut. 

“Arlya?” She gurgled through frothing toothpaste. “Dird yr trrl thrm tr kerp irt dern?”

Marinette froze in the hallway entrance as she realized her roommate wasn’t alone.  Standing in her kitchen were their upstairs neighbors– the blonde– Adrien– looking for all the world like he'd rather be anywhere else.

Both boys turned to look at her and Marinette was suddenly very aware of her ratty tank top, lack of bra, and shorter than short pajama shorts.

Oh my god.

“Sorry for the barge in, M!” Alya called out as Marinette ran back to the bathroom.  “But it’s kind of an emergency.”

That she could believe.

There was no other way her roommate would have allowed Adrien Agreste to step foot in this apartment.

Spitting into the sink and tossing on her robe, she threw one last look at herself in the mirror before giving her appearance up for a lost cause and rejoining their unexpected company.

She studiously avoided looking at Adrien and focused instead on the bowl in Alya’s hands.

Or rather, the fish in the bowl in Alya’s hands.

The dying fish.

Marinette’s heart lurched as she saw the poor creature, limp and miserable.  Before she even realized what she was doing she reached forward to take it, clutching the little one tightly to her chest.

“What happened mon doudou?

“He’s sick,” Nino said, coming around to stand beside her.  She could almost feel the anxiety rolling off of him.  Unbidden, her tongue clicked lightly against her teeth causing both boy and fish to relax.

Alya shot her a warning look.

“I think I see the problem,” She hummed, gently setting down the bowl and disappearing into the hallway.

Adrien frowned, watching as Nino swayed slightly on his feet.

“Are you okay man?”

“Hmm?” His eyes were glazed over and he shook his head.  “No, I’m fine. Just worried about Ferdinand.”

Alya rubbed his back and smiled.  “Don’t worry, Marinette’s a wizard when it comes to this stuff.”

“Found it!”

Adrien watched as Marinette came traipsing out with a large, rectangular fish tank filled with various equipment.  Nino blinked as she set it down on the counter.

“What’s all this?”

“Your fish.  His habitat is too small.  It’s a common enough mistake.” Marinette started pulling out different pieces from the tank.  “This will help keep the water circulating. Ferdinand should be back to better in no time.”

Adrien was horrified to see that his best friend was on the verge of tears.

“Thank you so much, Marinette!” Nino said, nearly bowling her over in a hug.  “You have no idea– I’ve been out of my mind.”

Marinette’s startled gaze met his over Nino’s shoulder.  Adrien ventured a smile.

“He’s not exaggerating.” He said.  “We definitely owe you one.”

She blushed, dropping her eyes to the floor as she stammered out a vague dismissal of their praise.

Alya rolled her eyes.

“Okay, okay.  Not to kick everyone out, but I’m kicking everyone out.”

She grabbed the new fish tank and shoved it roughly into Adrien’s arms, smirking as he let out a pained oomph.  Next she picked up Ferdinand’s bowl and carefully passed it over to Nino.

Marinette smiled.  “Make sure to get him moved over tonight.  I can come check on him in a couple days if he needs it.”

“Thanks so much!” Nino beamed, already rushing out the door to get started on his pet’s recovery. Adrien followed after him at a more sedate pace, barely avoiding having the girls’ door slammed on his ass as he followed Nino up the stairs.

“Good riddance.” Alya muttered, sliding the deadbolt into place.

Marinette sighed.  “I wish you would be nicer to him.”

Alya shot her a look that clearly said that wasn’t going to happen.

“It’s not his fault, you know.”

“Actually, it is,” She said, scowling.

Marinette hugged her robe tighter around herself.  “He didn’t know it was my pelt, Alya.  He was just being helpful.”

“Yeah,” The redhead snorted. “Real fucking helpful that one.  Might as well have tied you to the bow of a ship for all the good his ‘help’ did.”

Legs shaking, Marinette made her way over to the couch and collapsed with a sigh.  She knew Alya meant well, but as they say the best intentions

Alya’s expression eased as she watched the heartbreak weigh heavy on her friend’s shoulders.  Swallowing down her disgust, she took a seat beside her and wrapped her in a hug.

“You know you’ll have to talk to him sometime, babe.”

Marinette sniffed into her shoulder.  “Because that will go over well.”

“You’re wonderful, M.  He should be so lucky to have you for a wife.”

“You know it doesn’t work like that here.  There’s different… customs.”

“Well then he shouldn’t have handled your pelt.” Alya said, scowling. “Humans have to learn sometime.”

“Not by dragging him reef to rock into marriage.”

Alya's nose twitched in disdain.

“Just say the word and we can eat him.”

Marinette laughed in spite of herself. “I think I’ll try talking to him first.”

“Suit yourself,” Her roommate stood up and stretched.  “But just know, the offers always open.”

She smiled, heart lighter than it had been in weeks.

“Thanks, Al.  I know.”

Chapter Text

“M-my wingman?”

Ladybug didn’t like the look Chat was giving her.  The shock, the confusion, the downright disbelief...

It was incredibly insulting.

“Yeah, Chat.  Your wingman,” She said.  “You know, your copulation cohort. Your collaborateur de la couer.  Your romantic sidekick!”

Her kitten’s face was frozen.  Ladybug leaned forward to poke his cheek.

“Minou?”

Chat’s eyes widened and his skin went from chalk white to red in seconds as he scrambled away from her.

“Y-ou want to be m-my sidekick?”

Ladybug beamed.  “Of course!”

Romantically.”

She rolled her eyes.  “That’s what I said.”

Why?” He croaked, the question taking them both by surprise.

Ladybug’s teasing smile became sweet.

“Because I love you, kitty.  And I want you to be happy.”

“Happy…” He said, his words more air than sound.

She stepped forward, slowly, to take his hand.

“Yeah, Chat,” She said, intertwining his fingers with her own.  “Happy.  You make me happy and I want to make sure you’re happy too.”

Her partner stared at their joined hands, his thumb running anxiously over the skin above her knuckles.

You make me happy,” He confessed.

Ladybug’s smile was blinding in its ignorance.

“So you’ll let me do it?”

Chat saw her ill-disguised joy and couldn’t say no.  Even as he knew the plan was doomed to failure.

“Of course,” He squeezed her fingers.  “On one condition.”

“Oh?” She asked, pout already forming.

Chat laughed.  He couldn’t help it.

Ladybug was unparalleled.

“We’re partners.  No sidekicks to be found.”

Her eyes were blue and bright behind her mask– all the more beautiful for being hers.

Deal.”

Chapter Text

Marinette Dupain-Cheng.

That was her name.

It had taken him eleven months but he’d finally, finally tracked her down.

Nearly a year of coded messages, harrowing rescues, and moonlit reconnaissance lead him to this moment right here.  The one where he could finally see his partner, his lady, without the mask.

When a young, dark-skinned woman approached him in the park he never expected her message to lead him here.  To the very heart of their operation.

To the very heart of her.

When he followed the young woman’s instructions to a modest townhouse in one of the respectable, but shabbier parts of the city Adrien wasn’t sure what to expect.  Par for the course really, considering the wonderful chaos this woman had made of his life

It was nice to have a purpose.  It was nice to be more than his father’s son.

It was nice to be Chat Noir.

The back alley streets of Paris were hardly friendly, but she made them come alive in a way he’d never seen from his father’s carriage.  From the first moment he’d seen her holding court during the Agreste annual masquerade he was intrigued.

And later, as he caught her sneaking around the edges of his estate in the dark of night, terrified maid in tow, it took little more than an apologetic smile and puff of cloyingly sweet perfume to make him fall.

Quite literally.

It was a fond memory now but when Adrien originally woke up in the garden to his father’s frenzied servants he felt nothing beyond a pounding headache and severe annoyance.

The strands of his structured life began to unravel from there.

And he loved every moment.

He loved her.

His heart pounded against his rib cage like it was trying to escape to the woman before him.  She looked… different here.  At ease as she moved through the nursery, hands trailing lovingly over the shoulders of one child or another.  Her eyes sparkled like the ring in his pocket as she knelt down beside a boy to see the drawing he was holding out for her.

The boy made a sweeping gesture and Marinette laughed, the well-loved sound sending Adrien’s whole being from toes to fingers into a vibrating, electric tizzy.

“Miss Marinette, who is that?

Adrien froze as a small girl, no more than four at most, pointed towards him. Her small, chubby fingers an accusation that had all of the children erupting into a frenzy.

And not a good one.

Marinette’s eyes snapped to him, her expression flashing from confusion to shock before she and the other women in the room rushed to calm down the over excited children.

It took him a moment to realize that it was fear that was causing their disquiet and he didn’t have to see his lady’s scolding look to know that he’d messed up.

Again.

Making sure the others had everything in hand, Marinette quickly walked towards him, lips thin, as she ushered him out of the doorway and away from the nursery.  He followed her in silence as she wound her way down the unfamiliar halls.  Some part of him itched to reach out and hold her like he did when he’d chased circles around her through alleyways.

But this wasn’t Ladybug and he wasn’t Chat Noir.

Not anymore.

Marinette lead him downstairs into a small drawing room off the main entrance. The main entrance he hadn’t used.

The door clicked shut softly behind him and he turned to face Marinette as she leaned back against the door, eyes guarded.

“How did you find me?”

Wordlessly, he handed over the note.  She glanced at it only to scowl.

“Alya.”

He didn’t know for sure so he didn’t say anything.  He only knew of Miraculous House through Ladybug.  He only knew the names she’d told him and all of them were as unreal as his own. If she said the brazen woman who chased him down this morning to hand him a note with an address and the name Marinette Dupain-Cheng was Alya then that’s who it must be.

Marinette folded up the note and stuffed it in the folds of her skirts.

“You’re not supposed to be here.”

Adrien’s chest was tight.  She’d said that to him before.

We can’t do this anymore, Chat.

The weight in his pocket felt heavy.

Shaking her head, Marinette moved further into the room, making sure to keep her distance from him as she passed.  He watched her anxious pacing and the sight made him ache.

Her incoherent muttering, the way her hands clenched at her side, the swish of her skirts in the windowlight– it was all so familiar and different and right.  Even as everything was so, so wrong.

He waited for her to speak.  She may not want him as her Chat Noir, but she would always be his Ladybug.  And he would always follow her lead.

She abruptly stopped pacing, squared her shoulders, and turned to face him.

“What can I do for you, my lord?”

Adrien’s shoulders fell.

Business.  She was all business.

Helpless, he met her shuttered gaze with his own.

He knew Marinette Dupain-Cheng better than he knew his own soul.  He could pick her laugh from a crowded ballroom, knew how she lost her smartlash temper before she cried, had seen her outsmart abusers and blackmailers, and aristocrats alike for the sake of one life, two, then dozens.

And for one night, one wonderous, heartbreaking, beautiful night he knew what it was like to fall apart in her arms… and what it was like for her to send him away.

“I–” He stopped, already choking on the words.  Shaking, he shoved his hands into his pockets.

Marinette’s whole demeanor seemed to soften in spite of herself.  She looked like she might even move closer but instead crossed her arms to hold herself back.

“Chat,” She said, softly, and his heart nearly broke all over again.  “You should go home.”

How could he go home when home was already here?

How could he explain to her that no title or fortune or obligation by birth could replace what she’d already given him?  What he’d already given her?

He shook his head, unable to move forward and absolutely unwilling to go back.

“Your father...” She worried her lip. “You can’t stay here, Adrien.”

It was the first time she’d called him by his given name since she found out.  If Adrien had known then that taking off his mask would lead to her leaving he would have sewn the damn thing to his skin.

“I–I wa–ant...”

He nearly cursed as he felt tears stinging his eyes.  Not now.  Not now.

“I wa–ant…”

“Kitty?”

This time she had moved closer and the urge to reach out and grab her and never let go was so overwhelming he was nearly sick with it.  With a frustrated cry, his fumbling fingers found the box in his pocket and roughly shoved it into her hands.

Marinette hardly had a moment to react before he fell to his knees in front of her, arms encircling her waist as he buried his face in her abdomen.

Please, Marinette,” He whispered, hoarsely.  Adrien heard her gasp as she registered just what he’d practically thrown at her and he pressed his face closer to her stomach, tears staining the light fabric of her skirts. “Please, let me keep you.”

“Adrien,” She murmured, her hands gently trying to push him back only for him to hold on tighter.  “Adrien, we can’t.”

“Let me be your Chat Noir,” He pleaded, desperate as he pulled away to meet her own tearful gaze.  “Let me help you with the girls and the house.  Let me help you with the children. If– if you don’t want to m-marry me… just… just let me be him again.  Let me be yours,” He finished quietly, voice cracking.  “I just want to be yours.”

Marinette was shaking as tears slowly slipped from her eyes.  Knees weak, she nearly doubled over herself and the man in her arms as she tried to return his awkward embrace.  Resting her head over his, face buried in hair more Chat than she’d ever seen without his mask, her hands clung tightly to his shoulders.

But she couldn’t.  They couldn’t.

His father… the girls.

“Adrien,” She said, voice unsteady and nearly as broken as her partner’s.

He pulled back and she let him.  He didn’t go far.  Rough hands that only recently earned their scars held her face as eyes like emerald fire burned through her.

“I’ll protect them.” He vowed, his thumbs wiping her tears only to be replaced by more.  “I’ll protect us.”

It wasn’t that easy.  She knew it wasn’t that easy.

There was a reason Marinette had insisted on secrecy when she started down this road.

But as she held her earnest, beautiful, stupidly optimistic, fierce, and loyal partner’s gaze she couldn’t see any other choice.

She wondered if she ever really had one to begin with.

The cat had found his way into the house.

It was clear from the moment she saw Adrien Agreste, her Chat Noir, standing helpless and wonderstruck in the doorway of the nursery.

He’d let her push him away once.  He had no intention of letting her do so now.

“Yes.” She murmured, nearly breaking out into more tears as she saw the beautiful man in front of her struggle to accept that she’d actually said

“Yes?” He croaked out, hastily wiping at his eyes.  “You’re saying yes?”

Ye–” 

Marinette’s reply was cut short as Adrien’s lips crashed onto hers.  More bruising than gentle, more earnest than pleasant, there were too many smiles and tears for it to be anything more than the heartcrazed promise it was.

It wasn’t going to be easy.  She knew it wasn’t going to be easy.

But the cat had found his way into the house–

and by all accounts he was here to stay.

Chapter Text

Oh now this was ridiculous.

Chat scowled as he saw Rena and Kujaku curled up on his lady’s lap.

Seriously?” He whined.

There were a lot of reasons to love the newest additions to their superhero pantheon.  Support in the battle against Papillon, someone to pick up patrols when his civilian obligations became overwhelming, a greater sense of belonging, home, pack

But sharing Ladybug was definitely not one of them.

Kujaku peeked one eye open and grinned.

“You snooze you lose cat-boy.”

“I could eat you,” He scowled, resisting the urge to stomp on the tails of her costume.

This was his time with his lady.

“Chat.” Ladybug said, a warning clear in her voice.

“Kitty has to share,” Rena giggled, burying her face further into their alpha’s stomach.

God he really hated that their cycles had all synced up.

It was criminal how adorable Ladybug looked under her blanket of superheroes.  Sitting up, back against the wall while Rena and Kujaku curled into her sides like mewling kittens, Ladybug occupied herself with a pair of knitting needles and a skein of black yarn. 

If she weren’t currently surrounded he would have taken the opportunity to say something about how he was yarning for her.

The best laid plans.

“Don’t you have a boyfriend?” Chat sniped, digging his elbow into Rena’s side as he circled the trio for an opening before coming up from her side and snuggling up under his lady’s arm. Her needles clicked together as he inadvertently ruined her cross-stitch.  He returned her glare with a sheepish smile.

“Sure, but he’d never beta block me.”

Chat stubbornly held back his laugh.  No pun was worth forgiving his thieving teammates for stealing his time with Ladybug.

“Well I’m free as a bird,” Kujaku said, her dark eyes glittering in the city lights and it rankled that he could never tell if she were serious or not. 

Kujaku was still relatively new to their little group and while Chat didn’t have any official claim over Ladybug and she’d never expressed interest in any of them beyond her role as their alpha, the fact that she never outright rejected either of them left him feeling particularly vulnerable to Kujaku’s innuendo.

It wasn’t until he felt a pinch in his side that he realized he’d been growling.  He didn’t need to meet Ladybug’s disapproving eyes to know she was displeased.

Down Kitty, they seemed to say.

It was a conversation they’d had often enough since the others joined.

Chat really wasn’t used to sharing.

Leveraging his position into jostling Kujaku slightly off the other side of his lady’s lap, Chat ignored the tuft of Rena’s ponytail and nuzzled his face into Ladybug’s abdomen.

Mine.

“Cha-at.” The spotted heroine whined, her arms awkwardly placed around the three superheroes sprawled around her.  “I can’t work like this.”

“Then don’t.” He hummed, eyes falling shut as he wrapped his arms around her side, his voice muffled by her stomach.

“Rena!”

The fox in question curled around her knee, a punch-drunk grin on her lips.  “There are worse things than having a lapful of attractive omegas.”

Ladybug threw a pleading look towards Kujaku who merely shrugged.

God dammit, Tikki.

Ladybug huffed, resigned, and threw her knitting to the side.

This so wasn’t in the job description.