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Practice Makes Purr-fect

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Marinette looked really nervous, and Adrien wasn’t sure why.  She’d arranged for them all to come over after school because she needed their help with something, but now he and Nino and Alya were seated on her chaise and she was just pacing.  Not pointing out anything she needed help with or doing anything else other than muttering under her breath and tugging at her hair.

Honestly, he was a little worried, and it seemed like he wasn’t the only one.

Alya leaned forward, her elbows resting on her knees and her face scrunched up in concern.  “Mari?  Honey, are you okay?”

Marinette jumped, as if she’d forgotten there were other people in the room, and then started nodding overenthusiastically.

“I’m good,” she said, her voice high and sounding anything other than good.  “I’m just kind of freaking out a little cause I really need your help with something and for you to help I need to tell you a really big secret and I’ve never told it to anybody before and I probably should tell him first but I need to practice because if I don’t practice I’m going to screw this up and he’s going to hate me and—”

“Marinette,” Nino interrupted and Marinette flushed pink.  “It’s cool.  Slow down.”  Marinette took a deep breath and nodded, sitting lightly on her desk chair.  A moment later she hopped up again and resumed her pacing.

Her friends shared a look, and Adrien was even more confused.

“So you need our help?” he prompted, and a momentary pause and a nod was all he got.  “And for us to help you, you need to tell us a really big secret?”

Marinette stopped completely that time, nodding again and staring at her friends with wide eyes.  “You can’t tell anyone,” she said, her voice slightly desperate.  “You have to swear that you won’t repeat anything I tell you.”

This was concerning.  What kind of secret could be that big?  Was she secretly a bank robber and was going to tell them the location of her stash?  Was she the next in line for the throne of Genovia and her grandmother wanted her to take over?  Was she really from the future and Alya and Nino were her parents and she had to get them together or she wouldn’t exist?  Was she—?

“I promise.”  Alya’s voice snapped him out of the void of movie tropes and back to the topic at hand.  “I won’t say anything to anyone ever.”

“Me too,” Nino echoed.  “Cross my heart and hope to die.”

Their eyes turned to him and he realized that he should probably say something.  “I promise, too.”

Marinette nodded, letting out a deep breath through her nose and running a hand through her hair.  “Okay,” she said, as if talking to herself.  “Okay.  I can do this.”  She nodded decisively, straightening her back and staring straight at her friends.

And then she said the two words that Adrien had only ever let himself think about her saying in his deepest most impossible dreams and fantasies.

“I’m Ladybug.”

Alya and Nino started freaking out, claiming they knew it, that they’d called it, but Adrien just sat there, staring at her.

Because Marinette was his Lady.

Marinette was the love of his life.

And Marinette had just told him and two other people something she’d never even contemplated telling him as her partner.

And that kind of hurt.

Fortunately, no one seemed to notice his less than ecstatic reaction until he’d pasted a smile on his face that was only a little bit forced.  Because, yeah, it wasn’t the best that she seemed to trust him as Adrien more than she trusted him as the partner who routinely saved her life, but she was still Marinette, still Ladybug.  He honestly couldn’t have pictured anyone more perfect being her.

“You said you needed help with something?” he reminded her, loudly to be heard over Alya and Nino’s excitement.  He needed to get them back on topic, before he had a total meltdown and did something stupid like kiss her or reveal his own identity.

“Right.”  Marinette nodded slowly, returning to her previous nervous state.  “Yeah.”  She bit her lip and crossed her arms.  “So I’m going to tell Chat tonight, and I need to practice on you guys so I don’t completely screw it up.”

His heart caught in his throat, and he couldn’t breathe.  She was telling them because she wanted to practice for telling Chat Noir?  That was why this was happening?  She wanted to share identities?

Oblivious to Adrien dying beside her, Alya was confused.  “Tell Chat what?”

“This.”  Marinette gestured to herself, as if that answered the question, and Adrien nodded along because it did.  Of course, he hadn’t really had the question to begin with.  But that didn’t seem like enough of an answer for Alya and Nino, so she expanded.  “That I’m Marinette.”

“Wait,” Nino said, his eyes widening as he leaned forward.  “You mean he doesn’t know who you are?  And you don’t know who he is?”

Marinette shook her head.  “No,” she confirmed.  “I mean, he’s always wanted to know, but it’s been a safety kind of thing, and I—”

“Why do you think you’re going to screw it up?” Adrien blurted.  Smooth.  Three sets of eyes turned his way, blinking in shock at his question.  Then Alya and Nino’s turned back to Marinette because, yeah, that was honestly a valid question.  There really wasn’t any way to screw up telling someone your identity.

Marinette looked embarrassed, rubbing at her arm as her face turned red.  Her voice was quiet when she spoke.  “Because I always screw up this kind of thing.”

“This kind of thing,” Nino spoke slowly, drawing out the words as if she was a child, as if speaking slower would make them all understand, “as in telling people who you are?”

Marinette quickly shook her head, and Adrien let out a breath he hadn’t known he’d been holding.  Because if Marinette knew she always screwed up telling people who she was, how many people did that mean she’d told?

“No,” she said.  “Not that part.  You’re the only people I’ve ever told.”  Adrien fully relaxed back into his previous tense state.  “I always screw up the other part of what I’m going to tell him tonight.”  Her eyes darted meaningfully between him and Alya, though neither of them seemed to figure out what that meaning was.

Alya shrugged before swinging her arms wide.  “Practice away, then.  Adrien, you go be Chat.”

“What?” Nino protested.  “Why him?  Why not me?”

“Because he looks more like Chat Noir,” Alya pointed out, reaching over to mess up Adrien’s hair, “so it’ll be more realistic.”

Adrien tried to smooth back his hair some as he stood.  He didn’t want it to look too realistic.  Not yet, at least.

Marinette was bouncing on the balls of her feet, arms swinging by her sides like she was getting ready for a fight.

“Right.” She nodded to herself, staring up at Adrien with a look that was pure concentration and determination.  “Okay.  Let’s do this.  Hey, Chat.  Fancy meeting you here.”

Her voice was awkward, and he figured it was because she felt weird addressing Adrien as Chat.  But he shrugged it off, slipping as much into Chat as he could to make it seem like he was trying without actually giving anything away.

“On a paw-trol that we scheduled?” He raised an eyebrow, and Marinette groaned.

“You’re right, that was stupid.”  She scowled for a moment before shaking it off.  “Let me start again.”

Adrien nodded.  “Okay.”

“Hey, Chat!”  She was speaking in a falsely bright voice, giving him a choppy wave as Alya and Nino hid giggles behind their hands.  “There’s something I need to tell you so I’m gonna just go ahead and say it before I lose my nerve and something happens and I lose my chance and we explode or something and—”

“That’s really rambley, Mari,” Nino interrupted.  “And when you go rambley, you never get to say what you want to say.”

Marinette flushed, looking absolutely adorable.  “Oops.  Sorry.”

“Maybe you should just go ahead and say it,” Alya suggested, stretching out on the couch.  “Like no prelude.  At least to give us an idea of what you want to say so we know what we’re working with.  Adrien, you start this time.”

Adrien gave Alya a salute that might have been just a little bit too Chat for right now and turned back to Marinette.  “Hello, my Lady.”

“Hey, Chat.”  She squeezed her eyes shut and took a deep breath, before blurting everything out in a single exhale.  “MynameisMarinetteDupain-ChengandI’minlovewithyou.”

Fortunately, every person in the room still caught every word.  Alya let out a delighted gasp, and Nino grinned widely.

“Holy shit!  No way!”

“Girl, you better pull this off!”

As Alya and Nino prodded Marinette for details, Adrien felt his heart stop beating.  She—she loved him?  Marinette, Ladybug, she was in love with him?  That’s why she was telling them?  She needed help to tell him that she loved him?

He was feeling a little light headed, as he was fairly certain that all his blood had rushed to his face to create the most spectacular blush known to man, and he couldn’t say anything.  He just stared at her, at the love of his life who loved him back, not moving like a total idiot for far too long.

“I love you, too, my Lady,” he whispered, much too late for it to accurately be interpreted as part of the scene.  Three faces whipped towards him.

Alya grinned at him, chuckling slightly.  “Nice try, Adrien,” she offered.  “But I really don’t think Chat would look that shell shocked.”

“Are you okay?” Marinette wondered, her hand touching his cheek and murdering him on the spot.  “You look like you’re going to pass out.”

“I’m fine,” he squeaked, nodding quickly like she hadn’t just confessed to being in love with him.  “I’m totally fine.”

Nino clapped him on the shoulder before sprawling out on the chaise again.  “Let’s do this again,” he commanded, waving a hand and ushering them back to their places.  “We’re gonna get this perfect, Marinette.  Don’t worry.”

*********

The rest of the afternoon was filled with variants of the same, of Marinette telling him over and over that she loved him and Adrien not being able to do anything about it.

On the one hand, it was good, because his reactions were getting further and further from almost-passing-out and breaching into flirting-back territory.

On the other hand, it wasn’t good, because it was getting harder and harder to keep himself from just grabbing her face and kissing her.  That would be a disaster, considering no one knew he was Chat Noir and everyone would think he got off on having people pretend to confess their love to him and it would be awkward and Marinette would probably hate him and he did not want to be that guy.

So he had to suffer in silence.  Or, well, flirty non-silence.  But silence in the sense that he couldn’t kiss her.  That kind of silence.

They all ended up staying for dinner, too, because apparently she needed more practice, and Marinette was getting more and more nervous the closer it got to patrol time.

And, eventually, it was time for Adrien and Nino to go home—Alya, apparently, had a few pointers to give her that weren’t for boys’ eyes—and it absolutely killed him to not be able to give her a goodbye kiss.

Just forty five more minutes, he promised himself as he got into his car, praying that she’d tell him at the beginning of patrol rather than the end.  Forty five more minutes, and then you can never stop kissing her.

*********

Twenty five minutes later, Adrien stood on the rooftop, his heart in his throat.  He’d gotten to their meeting place early, too restless to sit around in his room doing nothing.

He still couldn’t believe this was happening.  Any of it.  It was insane, and he figured he was going to wake up at some point and it would all just be a wonderful dream.

In what world was Ladybug someone so sweet and amazing and perfect as Marinette?  In what world was she in love with him?  Apparently the real world, and he was ready to die because his life had been made.

Scratch that.  He wasn’t ready to die.  He hadn’t even gotten to kiss her yet, or hear what she sounded like when she actually knew she was telling him.

So he wasn’t ready to die, but he was pretty freaking happy.

He jumped at the barely there sound of footsteps landing on the roof and took a deep breath before pasting a too wide smile on his face before turning around to greet her.

“Hel—”

“My name is Marinette Dupain-Cheng and I’m in love you!”

It was rushed, but not as rushed as the first time, and it was loud, probably too loud for the low-ish roof they were on, but Adrien’s heart still skipped a beat in the same way it had every single time she’d said those words earlier today, and his face split into a grin so wide it threatened to break open.

She looked nervous, her face as red as her mask and one arm tugging lightly at the other, and she was looking away, as though she was scared for his reaction.

So he did the one thing he’d been dreaming about for years.  He closed the distance between them, wrapped her in his arms, and crashed their lips together.

She froze for a moment, long enough for him to worry that he’d somehow managed to misread the situation.  But then her arms came up, twining around his neck as her fingers dug into his hair, and she kissed him back.

Adrien was pretty certain he’d died at some point and was in some form of heaven, but he really didn’t care.  Because Ladybug was in love with him, Marinette was in love with him, and she was kissing him like her life depended on it.

It was a long while before he pulled back just enough to breathe, resting his forehead against hers and grinning like an absolute fool.

“You have no idea how hard it was to not do that all afternoon while you were practicing,” he told her.  His voice was lower and rougher than it usually was, and he felt her shiver in his arms before his words seemed to sink in.

She jerked backwards, frowning at him in a way that was absolutely adorable with her flushed cheeks and kiss-swollen lips.  “What?”

His smile turned slightly sheepish, and he reached up to tuck a wayward strand of hair behind her ear before cupping her cheek.

“My name is Adrien Agreste,” he said, and her eyes widened.  “And I’m in love with you, too.”

“You—but—no—I don’t—what?  How—?” Marinette spluttered, and her face seemed to get even redder.  It reminded Adrien of when they were younger, and he felt his grin grow.  “Why didn’t you say anything?”

Adrien shrugged, the arm that was still around her waist pulling her even closer.  “You wanted to practice,” he reminded her, rubbing their noses together.  “I wasn’t going to steal your moment.”  Marinette pulled back, though she was smiling, her eyes still searching his face as if she was trying to put Adrien and Chat together.

“It was awful, though,” he continued, pecking a quick kiss against her nose.  “Do you have any idea”—he broke off to kiss her cheek, and she giggled slightly—“how hard it is”—her other cheek—“to just stand there”—the corner of her lips—“and pretend to be yourself as the love of your life finally confesses her love to you over and over for hours and not be able to do anything about it?”  His words trailed of until they were barely a whisper, and he stared longingly into her eyes.

Marinette giggled again, her fingers running through his hair in a way that was pure bliss.  “Oh, poor minou,” she cooed, tracing down his face and along the seam of his mask.  “That must have been awful.”

“It was,” he whispered back, watching her eyelids grow heavier as he inched his face closer.  “You’ll have to make it up to me.”

“I think I could make that work.”  Her voice was breathless, her nails scraping against his skin and sending shivers down his spine.  “What did you have in mind?”

“Well.”  Their faces were almost touching, their eyes barely slits and their hearts pounding in their ears.  “That was five and a half hours of me not being able to kiss you.  I think five and a half hours of nothing but kissing would more than make up for it.”

Marinette’s tongue darted out to lick her lips, their faces so close that it briefly brushed against his chin and he let out a gasp.  “I think that sounds fair,” she breathed, and then their lips were together again, and Adrien never wanted them to separate.

*********

It wasn’t quite five and a half hours, but it was a significant amount of time before they even considered leaving the rooftop, patrol forgotten for the night.  They couldn’t bear to leave each other even just until school the next morning, so it was both of them who fell through Marinette’s skylight onto her bed.

Two transformations dropped, and it was almost like they hadn’t just spent the last few hours making out on a roof, because all Adrien wanted to do was kiss her.  So he did, because he could, because he loved her and she loved him back and there was nothing stopping him.

Marinette’s phone buzzed somewhere on her bed, but they both ignored it.  It wasn’t until they were sprawled out and exhausted, Adrien collapsing onto her from his position above, and the phone didn’t have even a second between sets of vibration that Marinette fished it out from somewhere in her bed.

“It’s Alya,” she murmured, her free hand weaving slowly through his hair as he pressed lazy kisses against the crook of her neck.  “And Nino.  They’ve sent, like, a hundred messages wanting to Skype to know how telling Chat went.”

Adrien had been ignoring his own phone vibrating nowhere near as frequently in his pocket and pulled it out.  “Yeah, they want me in on the skype too.”  He quickly sent a text off to Nino with some vague excuse as to why he couldn’t join and then tossed his phone somewhere on the ground.  “Skype away, my Lady.”

Marinette lightly pushed him off her so she could fish around on the floor for her laptop, and they talked logistics of how to tell their friends as it turned on.  She pulled up Skype, and he curled into her side, low enough to not be spotted by the webcam but in a good enough position that he could see the screen.

And then she was being called by Alya, and the three way call popped up with Nino.

Alya’s eyebrows rose as her eyes swept Marinette’s appearance, and Adrien glanced up with a contented sigh at what she was seeing.  Her flushed face and kiss-bruised lips.  Her wild hair, and her skewed shirt.  There was no doubt in his mind that both their friends knew what they’d been up to.  There was also no doubt that he looked to be in the same state.

“I take it went well,” Alya mused, a smirk gracing her face.  “And it also seems like Chat Noir is as skilled a kisser as everyone seems to think.”

“Obviously it went well.”  Nino rolled his eyes, leaning forward towards his computer.  “She wasn’t answering for hours, Al.  That’s a lot of making out, Marinette.”

Marinette opened her mouth to say something, but Alya cut her off.

“Nino, where’s Agreste?  I need details, but we can’t get started without him.”

Her boyfriend flipped a hand, dismissing her words.  “He texted and said to start without him,” he said.  “Apparently he can’t get to a computer at the moment.  So, Mari, dude.  Get going.  We need details.”

Marinette smirked down at Adrien, running her fingers through his hair.  “Well, for starters, you were totally wrong, Alya,” she said, and their onscreen friends frowned, clearly taking that to mean she hadn’t just spent the last few hours making out with Chat Noir.  “He did look like he was going to pass out the first time I told him I love him.”

Their friends burst into laughter, and all Adrien could do was pout up at her. 

“Adrien actually had the right reaction,” Nino wheezed before his mother appeared at the bedroom door in the background and he pulled away to have a hushed conversation with her.

When he returned, Alya was ready to get down to business.  “Start at the beginning,” she ordered, hands cupped excitedly around her mug of tea.  “Don’t leave anything out.”

Marinette took a deep breath, grinning down at him for a moment before she started.  “So he was already there, right?  Cause Alya made me be late.”

Alya looked properly chastised.  “Sorry, girl.”

“Forgiven.  Those pointers were totally worth it.”  Her grin turned into a smirk, and Adrien made a mental note to ask just what she’d gotten pointers on.  “Anyway, I show up and he’s like ‘Hey, Bugaboo.  What’s up?’”

She’d dropped her voice ridiculously low to mimic him, and Adrien let out a snort.  That was so not what happened, a matter which he’d been clearing up as soon as he was allowed to talk again.

“He calls you Bugaboo?” Nino cooed, significantly quieter than he’d been before.  “That’s so cute, Mari.”

Marinette blushed and didn’t look down at him, and Adrien smirked.  So much for hating the nickname.  If it made her blush like that, he was definitely going to use it more often.

“Yeah,” Marinette said, before rushing through the rest of the story.  “And then I put on the charm and told him my name and that I’m in love with him.”

“And then?” Alya was leaning forward in her seat, like this was her favourite soap opera.  “What did he do?”

Marinette flushed even darker, her words coming out in an excited squeak.  “He kissed me!”

Alya and Nino let out cheers and congratulations, and he was pretty sure Alya demanded to hear every little detail of his kissing skills at a later date, but he elected to ignore that as Marinette settled back into her story with a smirk.

“So then he pulls back and is like ‘You have no idea how hard it was to not kiss you all day’.”

“What does that mean?” Nino asked slowly, eyebrows drawing together.

“Did you even see him today?” Alya wondered.  “Before patrol, I mean?”

Marinette grinned widely, subtly moving more into half of the screen.  “Kay, so I was pretty much as confused as you guys, but then he’s like—”  She broke off, turning her head fully to face him.  “Oh, what did you say again, Minou?”

Alya screamed.  Sure, it was muffled by her mug and not all that loud, but it was a definite, genuine scream.

“Minou?” she pressed in a loud whisper.  “He’s there with you?  Marinette, you’ve got a boy in your bed and you didn’t even say anything?”

Marinette leveled her with a heavy gaze, the grin still on her face.  “Do you want to find out or not?”

“Shut up, Al,” Nino hissed, moving closer to the screen.  “I wanna know.”

Alya nodded rapidly, raising her mug to her lips to take a sip.  “Okay, girl.  I’ll be quiet.  Go on.”

Marinette bit her lip, her nose scrunching up as she gazed down at Adrien.  “Okay, so he says—”

Adrien popped up into the view of the webcam beside her, cupping her cheek.  “My name’s Adrien Agreste,” he said, his voice low, “and I’m in love with you, too.”

Their kiss was brief, but long enough to miss the original reactions of their friends.  When they turned back to the screen, tea was running down Alya’s quadrant and she was coughing up a lung, Nino’s wide eyes flickering between his choking girlfriend on one screen and his apparently superpowered friends on the other.