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The Bravery of Adrien Agreste

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As hard as she could, Marinette threw the magazine against the balcony floor. Angry tears threatened to fall down her cheeks.  Deep breathes. In through the nose, out through the mouth, peaceful thoughts. You can do it girl.

Screw that! God, she wanted to be angry right now.

Marinette rammed her hand in her pajama pocket, reaching for the charm bracelet there. Her fingers cataloging the beads one by one.  Each bead was different, but she knew their unique textures by heart.  It was a meditation that normally helped calm her. But tonight, the action felt empty.

Her eyes fell to the crumpled magazine. Of course, it fell open to that page.

It was a picture of Adrien and Lila. Their beautiful smiling faces turned toward the camera. Lila’s hand on his chest, fingers splayed possessively.

Figures. She had carefully selected that fashion magazine. It focused on pattern building and draping.  It was one that Gabriel never featured in. But there they were! It wasn’t even an article, just a half-page perfume ad toward the back. 

Adrien was looking beautiful as ever, but Marinette could see the discomfort in his eyes. He didn’t want Lila to touch him. And, Lila seemed to know that too. Marinette stared at the triumphant gleam in her eye, bile rising in her throat.

She inhaled a shaky breath.  Held it for five counts, and exhaled.

Does it matter, as long as you and I know the truth? Adrien’s words hunted her.

“Yeah, it matters.”  She spat aloud to no one in particular.  “It’s worse.”

She pulled the blanket tighter around her body. It was after 11 o’clock, on a cool autumn night.  She sat on the floor of her balcony, her back resting against the wall.  The past few hours were a busy whirlwind of essays, studying, and working on her commissions.  Some alone time with her new magazine was her reward for a solid 5 hours of work.  

Marinette sipped her mint tea and gazed at the Paris lights. She pulled out the charm to look at it. The colors were muted in the yellow glow of her string lights.  Adrien tried his best to copy the one she gave him. The colors and materials were different. But the size and number of beads were the same. It was a sweet gesture, it really was.

“Evening purrrinccess.”  A familiar black leather-clad figure appeared on her railing, sitting on his haunches.

“Hi, Chat,” she answered politely.  “What are you doing out? It’s not your patrol night.”

“It’s nice to know your keeping tabs on me.” Chat smiled playfully.

Marinette knew she should try to think of an excuse, but she couldn’t bring herself to care.  The patrols were hardly secret.  There was probably a Ladyblog post about them.  Akuma attacks never happened on patrols.  It was more to show the people of Paris that their superhero team was always there for them.  Not to say Marinette didn’t enjoy their jaunts around the city.  Jumping from roof to roof was exhilarating when there wasn’t an Akuma chasing you.

Marinette realized that neither had said anything in a while.  Chat remained at his perch, watching her.

“I’m afraid I’m not good company tonight,” she admitted.

“Anything I can do to help?” Chat offered, jumping down from the railing to sit beside her. “They say, cats are very good listeners.”

Marinette exhaled and stared at the skyline again.  She liked having him next to her, as Marinette.  His rooftop visits were few and far between. But she always enjoyed it when he stopped by.

Chat was different around Ladybug.  With Ladybug, his bravado often overpowered any trace of sweetness.  Over the years, the flirting subsided, but Marinette’s uneasiness remained.  Ever since Bunnyx showed her that horrible future, she strived to always be professional.  She always worried that a touch here or a wink there might lead to. She never wanted to give Chat false hope.

“You seem upset,” Chat said after a minute. “I can go if you want me to."

“I don’t, it just,... it’s just,” Marinette sighed, “I guess I am upset, I shouldn’t be. It’s just me being stupid.”

“I don’t think you’re stupid.” Chat smiled sweetly.

Marinette gave a halfhearted laugh.  “You don’t know me that well.”

She went back to studying the string of beads in front of her.

“What’s that?” Chat asked.

“It’s a luck charm.”  She stated flatly. “It doesn’t work.”

‘Oh,” he said quietly, shifting slightly. “Why do you keep it then?”

Marinette could feel tears start to fill her eyes. “A good friend gave it to me. Or at least, I thought he was a friend.” 

Chat seemed to wince at the words.

“What changed?”

“Nothing really.  I just realized something about him.”  Marinette took a shaky breath, already hating herself for what she was about to say.

“He’s a coward.”

She didn’t look at Chat, but she could tell her was watching her.

She sighed and leaned head back against the wall, gazing up at the stars.

“I mean, I get it. His father is super strict.  He was homeschooled forever.”Marinette closed her eyes and exhaled. “He probably never had the chance to stick up for himself, much less anyone else”

Marinette expected Chat to say something, but he remained silent.  She debated how much she should tell him.  It wasn’t really fair to unload on him.  But after the expulsion fiasco, she couldn’t really talk to Alya or her parents.  And Chat did offer to listen.  After several moments she continued.

“There’s this girl at school. Lila. You’ve met her. Volpina. Chameleon.”  Marinette twisted a few beads. She saw him nod out of the corner of her eye.

“She hurts people.”

“Not physically, though.” Marinette clarified. She’s much too clever. But she lies, and she manipulates.” She could feel the tears escape her eyes.  “And if you ignore her threats, she turns everyone you love against you.”

Marinette could feel her voice cracking. “Parents. Friends. It doesn’t matter. She’ll get them in the end. She’s good at telling people what they want to hear.

“She had me expelled, you know? She had my parents believing the most horrible things about me.”  Tears were streaming down her face now.  “And just like that, she got me reinstated.  Just to gloat over the power she has over the school!”  She could feel Chat fidget beside her, but she continued looking straight ahead.

“Early on my friend convinced me to take the high road, not to expose her.”  Her throat tightened.  “I shouldn’t have listened.”

Marinette clutched the charm tightly in her fist and brought it to her chest.  Her breath was coming out as shaking sobs. “I loved him so much! I would have done anything he said.”

“You loved him?” Chat’s voice was barely above a whisper.

Marinette half choked, half sobbed. “Yeah,…"

She took a few more breaths to calm her breathing.  Chat made no attempt to speak.  He really was a good listener. “I was cruel to him when we met,” Marinette admitted.  She opened her fist to look at the charm again.  “I thought he was a privileged spoiled white kid.  But he had amazing kindness and sincerity to him.” Her finger traced the carved rooster figure in the charm.

“I was so awkward around him, and he was so patient with me.” She paused a moment before she continued.

“After I got to know him more, I learned how much his home life sucked. But he still gave his best, always believed the best in people.”

She could feel a sob rising in her chest.

“But... he knows what she is, he’s known all along! And then, he smiles with her! He holds hands with her!” Marinette knew she was yelling now, but she didn’t care. “He lets her touch him when his eyes are screaming for her to go away!”

Marinette leaned forward so she could bring her arm back. With the years of throwing her yo-yo, her muscles knew the action well.  Using all her strength, she hurled the charm bracelet against the hard stone of her balcony.  The red string broke on impact, scattering the charms.

She wrapped her arms around her knees and sobbed, making no effort to calm herself. Chat was here, if a butterfly came at her, let him cataclysm it.  For once, she could let herself feel. Let herself cry, let herself behave like a normal teenage girl!

The dam broke.  All the emotions she keep pushing down came at her with full force.  She felt so alone, with the weight of the world on her shoulders.  Fu was gone.  She had no idea how to be a guardian.  Her friendship with Alya was slipping away.  Her parents no longer believed her.  Lila was making her life a living hell, and she had no idea how to stop her.

The sobs continued to tear at her throat as hot tears poured out. 

And then there was Chat.  Chat who loved Ladybug but knew absolutely nothing about her.  And that was the way it had to be.  If it slipped, if Chat ever found out. Well, shit, that could end the world!

She knew she was ugly crying now,

Even though Ladybug could never allow herself to get too close to him, to show true affection, Chat was forever loyal, ever faithful.  Even now, without having any idea what is going on.  Chat was being there for her. Supporting her. The immense gratitude she felt for her partner further prompted more sobs.

He had no idea how much she needed this. But then again, he always had her back.

After a few minutes, Marinette’s breath slowly steadied. She wiped her nose and eyes on her blanket, wishing she had brought a tissue.  She sighed again, feeling some of the tension leave her muscles.  Marinette leaned back against the wall of her balcony, staring up at the sky.

“I’m sorry he disappointed you.” Chat whispered, his voice weak.

Marinette turned to face her partner.  His shoulders were slumped, his head down, he was staring at hands. Tears were dripping down his mask and falling onto his gloves.

She made Chat cry?

“No, Kitty, no.” Marinette shrugged off her blanket to kneel beside him. Chat looked away from her. 

“Hey,” she cupped his cheek. Gently, she used her thumb to wipe away a tear. “Don’t be sad, none of this is your fault.”

He made a slight choking noise.

“Please, Chat. Don’t be upset.”  He wouldn’t turn his face to her.  Chat seemed to be staring intently at one of the scattered charms.

“Dear sweet kitty, I shouldn’t have unloaded on you like that.  That wasn’t fair. When you give so much to the city every day.”  Her thumb kept wiping away tears, but they continued to fall.

“I should have helped you.” Chat finally spoke.

“No!” She said louder than needed.  “Don’t feel bad over this. There was nothing you could have done.”

“You don’t know that.” He sounded so small.

“Chat, you’re the bravest person I know.”  She cupped both his cheeks now. “Please look at me.” She pleaded.

Chat didn’t move.

“You are brave, kind, selfless, and amazingly sweet. You’re a wonderful friend and an extraordinary partner.” Marinette paused for a moment.  “And occasionally, you’re jokes are even funny.”

Chat scoffed.

He turned his head to look at her, eyes bloodshot. “You’re only saying that because you were in love with me.”

Marinette smiled at the memory of her bizarre rooftop confession. 

“Yeah,” she admitted, “I do love you.” Marinette meant it too. Sure, it was a different love than she had for Adrien.  It was different from the love she felt for her parents and Alya too.  She leaned her forehead to his. “I can’t help it. You’re very lovable.”

“Not to ladybug,” Chat stated dryly, his eyes shifting down.

Marinette’s heart froze. How could her poor kitty even think that? She sat back on her heels and grabbed his gloved hands.

“Hey,” she coaxed.  “I need you to look at me.”

Marinette waited, and after a few moments, Chat finally met her eyes.  

“Ladybug. Loves. You.” She said slowly, enunciating every word. 

His chin quivered as he shook his head. “No, she doesn’t.” His voice small. “She always says…"

“She says what she has to say!” Marinette interrupted. “She can’t let herself be in love with you. But NEVER doubt that she loves you.”

Chat seemed to be stunned by her outburst.  Marinette continued anyway.

“She has to be the responsible one, especially now.”  She was saying too much, but she just desperately wanted her kitty to understand.  “If she truly gave herself to you, the power and intensity of that love…” she paused at a memory of a white-clad, blue eyes kitty. 

“It could destroy worlds,” she whispered.

Her eyes were weeping again. Though, the sad expression on Chat’s face been replaced with pure bewilderment.  He watched her with confusion in his eyes.

“Please don’t be sad anymore,” she sniffed. Slowly she leaned over to kiss his forehead, tenderly stroking the hairs out of the way. 

She heard Chat sigh into the gentle contact. She cupped his face and gently smiled at him.  He was gazing at her, almost curiously.

She leaned forward to kiss his cheek. Chat closed his eyes, ever so slightly turning into her hand.

Marinette pulled back to look at Chat.  His eyes were still shut, his face still rested in her hands. There was a soft contentment to his expression.

Her heart warmed. She did love her kitty. Ladybug couldn’t show him, but he needed to know.  He needed to know how incredible, how amazing, how lovable he was.

She tenderly kissed his lips.

It was slow but chaste. Chat’s lips were warm and soft against her own. Surprisingly soft. His skin smelled lightly of aftershave. He didn’t kiss her back, but he made no attempt to turn away.

Marinette broke the contact, leaning back in her heels. “I’m sorry, I should have asked.  It was highly inappropriate-"

“I didn’t mind.” Chat admitted, his voice low.

Marinette was at a loss for words.  She stared at him stupidly until Chat broke the silence

“So, ummm.. thank you?”

"Uh, sure. I mean you were sad and I just,... uh.” Marinette groaned. This is a disaster.

“Well, I guess I’m less sad now.”

“Yeah me too.” 

Marinette played with the hem of her pajama top as moments of awkward silence passed between them.

“Marinette?” Chat asked, his voice soft. “May I kiss you again?”

She felt his gloved hand on her cheek, guiding her toward him. Chat was leaning forward now, so there was less space between them.

She let him lead her forward until their noses touch. She could feel his breath on her skin. “May I?” He asked again, his words creating feather-light touches against her lips.

Marinette pushed forward ever so slightly to complete the contact. A shiver raced through her body, as her stomach twisted in knots. Her heart started pounding in her chest.  The kiss was so different than just moments ago.

Chat broke the kiss for a split second before pressing into her again. Another long slow kiss. Marinette’s hands shyly touched his arms before sliding them up to his shoulders

She felt his lips pull back in a smile.  Her own face broke into a giddy grin.  Marinette felt herself being lifted and resettled on the tile floor between Chat’s legs.

Marinette wrapped her arms over Chat’s shoulders and around his back.  She buried her nose in his neck and inhaled deeply.  God! He smelled good.  Marinette felt him pull her against his chest, Chat’s fingers gently caressing her back.

She could stay like this forever.

Marinette couldn’t remember the last time she left so content, so protected, so safe.  Even dancing in the arms of Adrien, she never felt like this.  This was something different, something calmer.

Marinette frowned when his arms left her back.  She wasn’t ready for this… whatever it was, to end.  Stubbornly, she gripped Chat tighter, squeezing her eyes closed.  

She felt the familiar texture of the blanket on her shoulders.  Marinette could feel the muscles of Chat’s back move as he positioned the blanket over her body.  Once he seemed satisfied, Chat returned his arms to her back, holding the blanket in place.

Marinette pulled away from his neck to rest her head on his shoulder, gazing at Chat’s profile.  He seemed pretty pleased with himself.  Chat was staring straight ahead with the smallest grin on his face.

“Thank you, Chat.”  Marinette beamed, smiling brightly.

“You’re welcome, Princess.” Chat whispered, turning his face toward her.

There was so little space between them now. Marinette tried to look at his eyes, but her focus kept drifting toward his mouth.  Oh God! His smirking mouth, where just a minute ago, those smooth warm lips were on her own.  Marinette suddenly couldn’t breathe. They were so close, and she desperately wanted to feel his lips again.

She forced herself to look at his eyes.  They were heavy and staring at her lips. Marinette slightly tipped her chin up towards Chat, watching him closely. Her heart was pounding in her ears.

Chat’s eyes met hers for the briefest of moments before he bent his head down. And kissed her again.

Marinette sighed into his impossibly soft lips. The kisses were harder this time, and faster. All she could hear was her pounding heart and the tiny wet noises from their mouths.

Marinette tightened her hold on Chat’s back. She wanted to feel more of him. Marinette twisted in his arms until her chest pressed against his own.

A sudden jolt of pain made Marinette jump in Chat’s embrace.  Her hands came suddenly to her lip. Did Chat just bite her?  She looked up to see his cocky face.  Oh, two can play at that game!

Marinette sat up on her knees and turned to face him straight on. He was taunting her, daring her.  He didn’t need to say anything, Marinette could tell what her partner was thinking with just his eyes.  And she was up for a challenge.

He watched her with an amused expression on his face. Marinette smirked back at him.  Then, climbing onto his thighs, she took his head in her hands and attacked his mouth.

He didn’t even defend himself, not really.  Within seconds Marinette triumphantly nipped his bottom lip.  Then, his top one for good measure.  She felt his hands grab her waist, pressing her toward him. Both of their mouths were wet, but she didn’t care.

The hard fast kisses gradually slowed, but the intensity increased.  Marinette fingers traced Chat’s jawline as she gently coaxed his mouth open. She ran the tip of her tongue shyly across his bottom lip. 

She felt Chat’s body freeze.

Oh no! She went too far. Marinette tried to move off his lap when strong hands grabbed her and held her in place.

“Sorry,… I didn’t mean...” Chat stammered.

“No, it's okay,..” Marinette could tell her face was bright red.

“It just surprised me is all.”

Marinette suddenly found Chat’s bell very interesting.

“Could you, um,.. do it again?” Chat asked quietly.

Marinette felt herself smile, but she still didn’t look at him.

Once again, his mouth was on hers, his tongue shyly begging entrance. It was like a jolt of electricity when their tongues touched.

She moaned into his touch, fingers in his hair. It should be illegal to feel this good. She broke the kiss to catch her breath, arching her back to look up at the stars. Chat continued kissing her jawline, then down to the sensitive skin on her neck.

Marinette heard gasps escaping her throat, but she didn’t remember making them.  But, she couldn’t find it in herself to care either. Chat was suckling at the base of her neck. Liquid pleasure filled every ounce of her being.  

She closed her eyes, wanting to focus completely on the new sensations flooding her body. Marinette squeezed Chat’s shoulders in encouragement, grinding her hips against his.

A sudden flash of green glowed through her eyelids, as Chat’s naked arms clamped tightly around her.

“This is NOT what the super suit is for!” Shouted an annoyed voice.

Marinette heard the sound of a tiny object whizzing through the air at high speed, then it was gone.