It had been Nathaniel’s idea to include Reverser in their comic. He felt bad for essentially causing Marc to become the villain in question to begin with, and he thought a four-man team would be better rounded than a three-man team. It totally wasn’t just to see the way Marc’s brilliant green eyes lit up in excitement at the idea, nor the smile he gave Nathaniel in response. No, it totally wasn’t that, not at all. However, the more Nathaniel worked with Marc, the more he did everything in his power to see that smile, to see those eyes light up. He had it bad for his co-creator, and there was nothing he could do to stop it. He was pretty sure Marc liked guys, and he’d long since accepted that he was bi, but he never said anything, because he didn’t want to make things awkward between the two.
One afternoon while he was waiting for Marc in Room 33, Nathaniel was mindlessly sketching something out for the comic, not really thinking about what was going on the page. He just kept sketching, until it felt done. When it was done, his face quickly flushed the same red as his hair, because what he’d drawn was Mightillustrator and Reverser sharing a chaste kiss underneath the Eiffel Tower. Quickly flipping to a new page before Marc got there to see it, Nathaniel busied himself with something else, trying to make the redness in his cheeks dissipate before Marc arrived.
When Marc did arrive, Nathaniel was sketching new Akuma designs, the redness in his cheeks faded to a barely noticable pink. Marc didn’t notice the colour change, thank HaShem, simply taking his usual seat next to Nathaniel and opening up his notebook.
“Sorry I’m late, Nath,” he apologized, grabbing a pencil from his pocket. “Mme. Mendeliev kept us late to rant about something or another. I wasn’t paying attention.”
“It’s alright, Marc. I was just trying out new Akuma designs. You wanna see them?” Nathaniel assured him, turning his sketchbook towards Marc invitingly.
“Ooh, I like that one. Is that Lady Wifi?” Marc hummed, pointing to the drawing in the top left corner of the page. It looked like Lady Wifi, but better. Nathaniel just nodded, content to let Marc fawn over his drawings so he could watch the excitement on his face.
“These are all amazing, Nath!” Marc gushed, turning to look at his best friend with awe in his eyes. Oh damn, he looked adorable. Nathaniel felt his heart picking up speed in his chest at the image of those green eyes lit up like that, as much as he tried to fight it. Did Marc know how adorable he was? Or was it all natural and accidental adorableness? Either way, it was driving Nathaniel insane.
“You think so?” Nathaniel muttered with a soft blush creeping back into his cheeks. No matter how many times Marc complimented him, the genuine tone always got to him.
“I know so,” Marc nodded firmly. “Would you like to see what I have for the script so far?” he offered, sliding his notebook over to Nathaniel so he could read it. It was the outline of the next issue, which involved Mightillustrator and Reverser having to save Ladybug and Chat Noir from Prime Queen. As usual, Nathaniel loved everything Marc wrote, smiling slightly the longer he read.
“It’s perfect,” Nathaniel assured him with a smile. The two fell silent for a while after that, working on their own respective parts of the comic before one of them spoke up again.
“I had an idea,” Marc said hesitantly, looking up from his notebook towards Nathaniel.
“What’s that?” Nathaniel hummed in acknowledgement, tearing his eyes away from his sketch of Prime Queen.
“Valentine’s Day is coming up... What if we did a special edition for it?” Marc explained, clearly nervous. “I-I’ve been workshopping some ideas, so I thought I’d bring it up.”
“That’s a great idea, Marc,” Nathaniel beamed, ignoring the way his heart was beating in his chest at the idea of a special Valentine’s edition. What did Marc have in mind, exactly? “What were your ideas?”
“Maybe a reverse-Dark Cupid Akuma? Like, an actual Cupid that went around making people admit their feelings to their crushes?” Marc rambled, tapping his fingers on the desk in front of him. “Maybe one of the heroes gets shot and is forced to confess a seemingly unrequited crush that turns out to be mutual?”
Oh, the temptation was strong to have Mightillustrator hit and confess to Reverser, Nathaniel thought to himself before dashing the idea. It was Marc’s idea, he’d let Marc decide how it went. If he had a different idea as to who got shot and who they confessed to, Nathaniel would have to be okay with it.
“Who should be Cupid-ed, then?” Nathaniel asked instead of voicing his traitorous thoughts, intrigued.
“Maybe Chat Noir?” Marc thought. “Nah, it’s pretty obvious he’s in love with Ladybug,” he shook his head after a moment’s thought.
“What about Mightillustrator?” Nathaniel suggested, his heart hammering in his chest.
“Oh, that could work! He could tell Ladybug how he feels!” Marc nodded, and wait, he sound disappointed? HaShem, Nathaniel both hoped and didn’t hope that was what he’d heard in Marc’s tone.
“Yeah, Ladybug...” Nathaniel trailed off, not wanting to make Marc uncomfortable by saying who he wanted his comic counterpart to confess to. “Why don’t you write a confession for each of them, and we’ll see which one works the best?” he suggested instead. “I can try sketching a few kiss scenes for a followup too, if you’d like.”
“I’ll do that,” Marc nodded, picking up his pencil to get back to writing. “If you want to,” he added as an afterthought, already absorbed in his writing.
The next day, the two were back in Room 33, having finished their ideas for the Valentine’s confession comic and were ready to share. Marc wordlessly handed Nathaniel his notebook, already open to the page of the first confession scenario. Nathaniel took it, equally wordless, as he read.
The more Nathaniel read, the wider his seafoam eyes widened. The first idea was Chat Noir confessing to Ladybug, another was Ladybug confessing to Mightillustrator, but the one that got his eyes to widen and his heart to start beating faster against his ribcage was Reverser confessing to Mightillustrator. It was really sweet and heartfelt, and Nathaniel wondered if (hoped) it came from Marc himself, not just a proxy through the fictionalized version of Reverser. He felt his cheeks warming up as he handed the notebook back to Marc, looking anywhere but at his best friend so Marc couldn’t see the look in his eyes.
“What do you think?” Marc asked nervously, taking the notebook back and closing it.
“I-I really like the last one,” Nathaniel admitted softly, finally looking at Marc. “It seemed the most genuine and realistic.”
“That’s because... it was,” Marc admitted, trying not to look away from Nathaniel as he said that. “I-I didn’t know how to tell you, so I wrote it out and used Reverser and Mightillustrator as a shield or something,” he said nervously.
“Oh Marc,” Nathaniel muttered, grabbing his notebook and opening up to the sketch he’d drawn the day before while he was waiting. “You’re not the only one who used art as a proxy. I drew this yesterday. I’ve been so scared to tell you, because I didn’t want to ruin our friendship over something as silly as a crush.”
“Nath...” Marc muttered back, eyes wide as he took in the beautiful drawing. “It’s so pretty...”
“Not as pretty as you,” Nathaniel whispered, not realizing he’d said it out loud.
“You think I’m pretty?” Marc blinked in surprise.
“Very,” Nathaniel nodded seriously, putting the sketchbook aside and scooting closer to Marc. “Like a painting in the Louvre.”
Marc’s face turned as red as the hoodie he wore, eyes briefly darting down to Nathaniel’s lips before returning to his eyes. “Can... Can I kiss you?” he asked hesitantly, reaching out a tentative hand to cradle Nathaniel’s cheek in his palm.
Instead of answering, Nathaniel closed the distance between them and kissed Marc gently, hands bracing themselves on Marc’s thighs. The kiss didn’t last very long, but it was long enough to leave both boys dazed as they sat staring at each other with soft expressions.
“Would you like to go on a date some time?” Marc found himself asking.
“I’d love to,” Nathaniel nodded quickly.