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till the storm blows over

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Chat Noir flings himself from rooftop to rooftop, bathed in darkness. It was late, past nightly patrols, but he couldn’t find it in himself to want to go home just yet. He couldn’t stand that house; tension spilled from its very brim, a sad and lonely thing that he could only put up with for so long. From his perch, high above the empty streets, Chat catches a glimpse of light. It comes from a block or so away- the Dupain-Cheng’s bakery. He watches as Marinette climbs from her room to her balcony, leaning heavily against the railing. 

He hops to a rooftop adjacent to the balcony, still trying to keep hidden. Marinette seems lost in thought, staring up at the moon peeking out from behind the clouds. Chat doesn’t want to disturb her, but he really doesn’t want to be alone right now and Marinette always knows the right thing to say. Hesitantly, he approaches. 

“Evening, princess,” Chat greets, startling her slightly. She’s slouched over more than usual and her greeting smile doesn’t quite reach her eyes. 

“Chat, what are you doing here?” She asks mildly. Her eyes don’t leave the stars. 

“Just thought I’d pay you a visit… Marinette, are you okay?” Chat places a gentle hand on her shoulder, hoping to offer up some sort of comfort. 

Marinette nods, then shakes her head. “I don’t know,” she sighs. “I guess I’m just down. Chat, do you ever feel like you’re not who you’re supposed to be? Like, everybody expects so much out of you, but you just… Can’t be what they want?” 

The blonde boy looks down at his feet. She had just described his whole life. “All the time, princess,” says Chat quietly. In an impulsive decision, he wraps a protective arm around Marinette’s shoulders and pulls her closer. She leans into his touch, resting her head on his shoulder. Warmth blossoms from the spot, making Chat shiver slightly. 

He doesn’t realize she’s crying until she pulls away to wipe her eyes on her sleeve. 

“Hey, it’s okay,” he is quick to assure. “You’re so much more than what people expect from you. You’re incredible, Marinette. You outshine expectations every day, just by being yourself.”

Marinette falters, staring at the boy in front of her. She is searching for something in his eyes, something that he’s not quite sure he understands. “You really think that?” She sniffles. 

“Scout’s honor,” Chat insists with a smile. Marinette giggles through her tears, letting them dry on their own. She’s about to say something when she feels a droplet of water on her head, and another on her cheek. All of the sudden it is pouring rain, and Chat Noir is beckoning her down the ladder into her room.

“Crap! I forgot the forecast called for rain tonight!” Marinette rushes to open the trapdoor to her bedroom and climb down before reaching for Chat. “Aren’t you coming?”

“Is that- I wouldn’t want to-” he stammers, but Marinette yanks his hand. 

“Just get in here, you stupid cat!” 

He shuts the trapdoor firmly behind him as he steps into Marinette’s room. He’s been here once as Adrien, a year or two ago. It looks different now, more mature but still very Marinette. A picture of Alya, Nino, him, and Marinette is pinned up over her computer, and it makes him smile. As if she’s embarrassed, Marinette watches warily while Chat glances around her room. 

“Um, sorry for getting all sad on you back there. I don’t usually…” She blushes, avoiding eye contact. 

“You don’t have to be sorry at all, princess. We may not know each other all that well, but you can always talk to me if you need to. I get what it’s like to feel like you should be more than you are. If you ever need a shoulder to cry on again, I’ll be there.” It’s soft and gentle and so very un-Chat Noir, and Marinette looks taken aback. Her surprise lets way to a warm smile that inexplicably fills Adrien’s stomach with butterflies. 

“Thank you, Chat Noir. Really.” She stands on her tiptoes to wrap him in a hug that he reciprocates immediately. 

The hug is warm and comfortable and it feels like something is clicking into place. Something about it feels right. Marinette smells like cinnamon and kindness, her thin arms draped around his shoulders lazily but her hands clinging tight. It strikes Adrien then that he never really noticed how lovely the girl in his arms is. Sure, he thought of her as one of his best friends, and he admired her greatly as a person. Yet he had never really stepped back to realize her true beauty. 

When she pulls away, Marinette’s eyes are dewy but still blue, blue, blue like the sky right after the sun sets. Chat looks away upon realizing he’s staring, his face a little pink. 

“Are you sure it’s okay for me to be here?” He asks. 

“Of course, kitty. I want you to stay, at least till the storm blows over. You shouldn’t have to go home in this weather,” she says, peering out the window at the pouring rain. 

“Alright then, princess. What do you have to do in this room of yours?” Chat raises his eyebrows with a grin. 

“Hmm… Oh! I just got Ultimate Mecha Strike IV last week! You said you played the last one a little bit, right?” 

“You have it already? No way! I heard the graphics are amazing!” He enthuses excitedly. “I’ve been meaning to get it, but I just haven’t gotten the time to get to the store, and it’s not available online yet.” 

Marinette perks up at his excitement and loads up her gaming system, pulling out two controllers. She offers one up to Chat wordlessly. With a bright smile he takes it. 

“Hope you’re ready to lose, princess,” says Chat.

“In your dreams, kitty.”

When Chat finally heads home, the storm is long gone and it is well past three in the morning. They both fall asleep with smiles dancing across their lips. 

Chapter Text

It is a week later when Chat pays Marinette another late night visit. She’s not sad this time, and neither is he. She is pleasantly surprised when he visits her just for the hell of it. 

She’s curled up on her chaise with a sketchbook when he finds her. “Fancy seeing you here, Chat Noir,” she remarks. 

“Did you miss me?” Chat smirks. 

Marinette giggles, not because she’s dismissing him but because she only just got done patrolling with him as Ladybug. She’s never away from her chaton for too long. 

“Not as much as you missed me, obviously.”

“What are you drawing?” Chat says, clearly distracted from their conversation as he spots the sketchbook in her hands. 

“Just sketching some designs. I’m not sure I really like any of them, though,” she shrugs, eyeing the page with a frown. 

Chat leans over her shoulder to get a peek at the designs. He’s seen Marinette’s work before, and he knows how talented she is. She moves her hands shyly to let him get a better look. 

“Woah, these are beautiful. I’d even say… purr-fect?” It’s not his finest pun, but Marinette lets out a little laugh before she can stop herself, then rolls her eyes. It brightens Chat’s day tenfold. “I’m serious, though. They’re really creative. I love your style.” 

On the page, Marinette has drawn five designs for dresses. Some short and some long, they all have a unique feature that’s just so… so Marinette .

“I like this one the best,” says Chat, pointing to one in the middle. The dress has off the shoulder sleeves and flares out at the waist, cutting off at the knees. It’s gorgeously feminine but not over the top. “What color would it be?”

“Green, I think. Not dark green, but…” She glances up at Chat, keeping eye contact. “Light. Like your eyes.” 

“You think about my eyes a lot, princess?” He teases. 

“No!” Marinette is quick to exclaim, her ears turning red in embarrassment. “I just… It’s… a nice color,” she says, rubbing the back of her neck. 

Chat decides to let it go, but he tucks that information away for a later time. 

“Can I see some of your other designs?” He asks. 

“Um… I guess. Just don’t judge me too hard,” Marinette sighs. 

“Princess, I could never judge a true artist like you.” He gives her a wink to emphasize his point. 

“Flattery will get you nowhere, minou,” she giggles. 

He practically preens at the nickname, just making Marinette’s smile bigger. It’s silly, but she really has been surprised at Chat’s softer side. When he’s not spending all his time flirting with her as Ladybug, he’s actually a really good guy. She watches as he flips through the sketchbook in fascination, seemingly awestruck. 

“You’re crazy talented!” 

“Really?” Marinette asks, eyes wide. “Do you wanna see what I’m working on right now?” 

Chat nods, so Marinette grabs his hand to pull him to the trapdoor into her room. They climb down the ladder and Marinette rushes to her desk, where she fiddles around before giddily holding up a bright red leather jacket. 

“It’s faux leather, obviously, and it isn’t quite finished yet, but… yeah!”

“You made this all by yourself? Wow, Marinette, it looks like it was made by a professional. I love the banded hems on the sleeves!” 

“You know your stuff! Okay, you can’t tell anybody about this, though. This is what I’m gonna be submitting to Gabriel Agreste’s competition,” she reveals, laying the jacket back across her desk. 

“It’s sure to win,” Chat assures her. “There’s no way it won’t end up in Agreste’s fashion show.” 

“I hope so! If Adrien Agreste were to model my jacket,” Marinette trails off, blushing slightly. Chat cocks an eyebrow. “Uh, just, I mean, it would be great exposure! For… for the jacket!” 

“Are you friends with this, uh, Adrien guy?” Asks Chat, making Marinette blush. 

“Yeah.” 

Just friends , she thinks gloomily.

She has a faraway look in her eyes that Chat can’t quite comprehend, but he smiles. Marinette is one of his best friends, and he’s glad she thinks the same of him. 

“But enough about me,” Marinette is quick to add. “What’s been up in your life? How are you, kitty?” 

“Uh…” Chat shrugs, trying to think up an answer. 

“You don’t get asked that a lot, huh?” 

“Not… really,” he deflates, eyes downcast. His whole mood had changed in a matter of seconds. Now that he thinks about it, he supposes he doesn’t really get asked how he’s doing very often. Certainly never by his father, and Nathalie only cares if it affects the business. Nino did his best, but he’s a teenager just like him, so his life can get pretty messy too. And when he’s with Ladybug- who he’s sure would care- they’re always too busy to really talk. 

“I’m so sorry, minou,” Marinette says gently. She takes one of his hands in both of hers.

“It’s not your fault, princess,” Chat reassures, but Marinette just sighs. 

It is , she thinks. If she could have taken just one minute to ask him how he was on patrol, or talk to him about anything other than Hawkmoth or danger… Maybe he’d have more support in his life. It is then that Marinette decides that she’ll be Chat Noir’s rock. He’s her best friend as Ladybug; why can’t Marinette be the same? 

“C’mere.” She beckons to Chat, who pulls her into a hug.

“I’m sorry you always have to pick up my pieces. I feel like I shouldn’t put that on you,” he murmurs into her hair. 

“You did it for me. I’m just returning the favor. Besides, I want you to know that I’ll always be here to pick up the pieces. You’re my friend, and I care about you.”

Chat smiles brightly against Marinette, so much that she can feel his grin. He’s still smiling when they pull apart. 

“You really know how to make a cat purr, princess,” he says slyly, back in his typical flirtatious manner. 

Marinette groans, but she can’t hide the smile gracing her features or the giggle bubbling in the back of her throat. 

“Whatever, kitty. All it takes for you is a little scratch behind the ears.” She reaches a hand up toward his hair, but Chat ducks away with a laugh. 

“Catch me if you can! Us cats are known for our speed!”