Adrien stood in his room, his hands shaking as he tried to straighten his collar, doing his best to listen to Nino's reassuring words coming through the speaker of his phone.
"It's gonna go great dude what are you tripping about?! She's going to have a great time and so are you and it's gonna be fine."
"I really don't want to screw this up Nino," Adrien confided in his friend, taking the phone with him into the bathroom to look himself over for the thousandth time.
He was wearing a favorite outfit of his, one he had received the most compliments on when he had modeled it for a shoot and had asked to keep afterwards. It was a simple but expensive black buttoned shirt tailored to fit him perfectly and a gray double breasted vest with eight buttons and notched lapels. He had an elegantly cut black suit jacket to go with it, though it lay discarded on his bed for the time being, and formal gray slacks to compliment his smart looking black dress shoes. Over all he looked sharp, or at least he hoped so.
"Damn…" Nino's voice echoed in the tiled bathroom, "You must really like her huh?"
Adrien paused for a moment, looking at himself in the mirror and sighing heavily, a small smile on his lips.
"You have no idea man."
Nino laughed, and Adrien could imagine that he was likely shaking his head.
"Geeze you fall hard dude, but don't sweat it, so does she."
Adrien tried to fix miniscule imperfections with his hair, his foot tapping nervously as he did, and he once again asked, "Did she seriously have a crush on me this whole time?"
"DUDE yes, I promise you, you were the only one who didn't know. I'm surprised you even noticed Chloe did with how oblivious you can be."
"Hey!" Adrien protested, only earning a laugh in return. Plagg was sitting on the sink and covered a snicker of his own.
"When are you leaving? It's like seven."
Adrien glanced at the on screen clock above Nino's displayed contact, and it stated a daunting '7:15 PM'.
"Soon, I have to pick her up by 7:30, our reservations are for 7:45." Adrien's voice was taunt with his nerves, the tapping of his foot being picked up on the call.
"Chill out man, everything's going to go great, you've got this in the bag. It ain't about impressing her or anything it's about you guys having a good time. She likes you, remember? Just be yourself."
The sound of tapping slowly faded and Adrien held his own gaze in the mirror, Nino's words slowly sinking in. 'Just be yourself.' That was more relevant than Nino even knew, that's what made the dinner so nerve wracking. It was him and Marinette, the real versions of themselves, sitting down together for dinner. For a date. Cat Noir and Ladybug, Adrien and Marinette.
"Yeah…" Adrien breathed the word, nodding his head in some silent confirmation of something. "Myself."
He stared at himself for a moment longer before he gave one final adjustment to his vest and picked up his phone, switching the call to a video feed.
"Alright man how do I look?" Adrien asked, holding the phone out to show himself in the camera, careful to avoid Plagg. Nino's face was now filling the screen, lying in bed with his hat and headphones off for once. His friend's reaction was delayed a little thanks to the lag of the call, but when he saw it he scoffed, shaking his head.
"Unfair is how you look. How the hell are normal guys like me supposed to get anywhere with jerks like you walking around."
Adrien chuckled, grinning at the praise, if that's what it was.
"I have some suits you can borrow."
"Cause it's just the clothes that do it. You look great man, she's gonna love it."
Adrien steeled himself, then said, "Alright. It's time to head out. Wish me luck Nino."
"You won't need it! Have fun."
Adrien ended the call and strode out to collect his jacket, slipping it on and pausing a moment to let Plagg clamber inside.
"You promise you'll behave right?" Adrien asked the kwami uncertainly, heading out to the hall, double checking he had his wallet and cards on the way.
"What do you take me for?! No respect." Plagg replied from the jacket, feigning offense.
Adrien sighed, knowing that was the best he was going to get and just hoping that he could get him and Tikki in the same space together so she would keep them in check.
He pulled out his phone, striding down the hall on the way to the car and sending a text to Marinette.
'A- About to get to the car, be there in a few minutes.'
He did his best to ignore how loud everything sounded, stopping to grab an umbrella in case the rain returned. His hands were sweaty when he picked a plain black one, and he tried to ignore that too.
'Just be yourself'.
What even was that at this point?
Marinette sat in her room patiently waiting, her mother pulling out the last curl and letting it drape around her daughter's face before taking a step back to admire how beautiful she looked.
"You look stunning sweetheart," her mother said in a quiet voice, knowing just how nervous she was, but there was no lie in her statement. She looked so grownup, and absolutely gorgeous.
She was wearing a coat and dress of her own design, something she had made a long time ago for a wedding that happened last December. The dress coat was an asymmetrical peacoat style with lace puffing out the bottom hem slightly just above the midway point above her knee, double breasted and made of sparkling pure white woven wool. The lace was a deep black, complementing the black of her warm winter leggings and leading into fashionable black and white accented boots she had bought only a few hours earlier for the occasion. They didn't have heels, she didn't trust herself with them on such an important night, but they were cute nonetheless. Plus, she liked how much taller Adrien was than her.
Marinette reached a hand up to gently touch the silky, still warm curls of her hair, the spirals soft and long as they warmed her neck. She turned to look in her mirror, staring at a woman who seemed so much older than herself, wholly elegant and graceful, things she had never thought in accordance with herself outside of her mask.
"Thanks mom… for helping me get ready and everything. I- I'm-"
"It's alright honey, I know you're nervous, but Adrien is a very sweet boy." Sabine smiled gently at Marinette, stepping away to collect a thin necklace of diamonds from her personal collection to drape around her daughter's neck. "I have all the confidence in the world that you will have a wonderful time. No boy can resist the charm of my darling Marinette, I doubt the poor boy will even be able to speak."
Marinette smiled, her nerves fading for a moment as she remembered how excited, yet utterly unsurprised her parents were when she told them about the date.
She had told them while they were working, walking in after Adrien had walked her home with an excited smile on her face. She had said it quietly, fidgeting with her hands, and if the two of them hadn't been so busy she knew they would have hugged her.
Instead her father had laughed, his smile bright with pride, saying, "Of course! It was only a matter of time, no boy looks at a girl like that without asking her to dinner. He is a very kind young man, I know he'll treat you with respect."
Her mother had smiled, nodding her head in an 'I knew it' fashion before offering to help her get ready once the bakery was closed for the day.
Just then Marinette's phone buzzed, announcing that Adrien was on his way, and her nerves returned in a tense flurry.
"Oh god Mom I don't even know where we're going! I just know it's really fancy I, what if I look all wrong!?"
"No one could look all wrong looking like that," her mother tsked, hoping for a smile that was swallowed by her daughter's apprehension. She sighed, reaching out to smooth the edges of the black lace. "Aren't you excited honey?"
"I- yes of course I am it's just… really complicated…" Marinette groaned, pacing across the room to collect her small white bag that currently held Tikki. She resisted the urge to rip it open and cradle her kwami against her, the action always helping calm her in the past.
"Yes, I know," her mother started, something Marinette severely doubted, "but it is also incredibly simple."
"How can something be simple and complicated at the same time?" her daughter demanded, a slight pout forming on her lips, her hands fidgeting with a button on her coat.
Sabine couldn't help but chuckle a little, pleasant memories of young love resurfacing so she could draw wisdom from them.
"Do you like Adrien?"
"Does he make you laugh? Really laugh?"
"Can you talk to him? Does he listen when you do?"
Silence hung in the air for a moment, and Marinette tried to focus on her mother's words, using them to calm herself.
"Yes… to both," she finally answered, her mind turning to Cat Noir leaning against his staff as he listened to her talk about the city, and Adrien listening to her rant about a book series. He had seemed so happy both times.
"Did you want to say no to dinner?"
"No, not at all I want to go more than anything!"
Sabine smiled sweetly, taking one of Marinette's hands from the button on her coat.
"Then go sweetheart. There is nothing simpler than that."
Marinette let her statement sink in, turning to clasp her other hand around her mother's as well. They stood there for a while, and the more she thought about it, the easier it seemed. She shouldn't be nervous, or scared, or anything like that. She had her partner with her, her Cat Noir and her Adrien. Even if he was the one responsible for making her nervous, she knew she would always be okay if he was there.
"Thanks mom…" she responded at last, a small smile washing away the last doubts she had. She was still nervous… but she wasn't scared anymore.
She took a deep breath and smoothed her coat, adjusting the dress underneath and patting at her hair. She really hoped he liked it…
Adrien stepped out of the car, a sleek compact thankfully and not the limousine. He was already going a bit far… the limo would have been too much.
He was grateful it wasn't raining, clouds still heavy in the sky and the air cold but at least there was that. Maybe he could offer her his coat… if he could get that far.
He felt a little pathetic, the bouquet was shaking in his hands but he couldn't stop it no matter how hard he tried. It was a collection of light dusty pink tulips, mixed together with red roses. He had reasons for picking those flowers since Marinette didn't have a favorite, though he couldn't remember for the life of him now as he stared at the bakery entrance. He was just standing on the pavement, trying to regulate his breathing, scolding himself harshly in his head.
'You're a superhero damn it she's your best friend! Just go!'
No matter how much he chanted it though he didn't move, he just stood there, the cold air chilling his skin but his palms still sweaty.
He jolted when he heard the chime, his eyes refocusing to see Tom standing there holding the door open with a gentle, understanding smile.
"Hey son," he said quietly, letting the door swing shut and standing outside with him, enduring the chill with the same warm smile.
Adrien didn't say anything at first, looking up at the towering man. He knew though he didn't need to say it. From the look in the father's eyes, he understood all too well what Adrien was feeling.
Adrien felt something besides the crippling nerves when Tom stepped forward to put a heavy hand on his shoulder, the man offering strength and reassurance to the struggling boy.
"Wait till you see her," Tom said with a soft chuckle, "You're quite the lucky lad… I suppose this is meant to be the part where I threaten you, tell you to treat her right, but you know," Tom's eyes were bright and alive with sincerity, "something tells me you will only ever take care of her."
Adrien felt a spark of burning warmth in his chest, reaching for his voice, trying to speak clearly.
"I-I will sir, I swear. I know it seems sorta… fast… but Mari and I have been close for a while and uh…" Adrien swallowed, steeling himself and straightening his shoulders. "She means a lot to me sir."
Tom's deep laugh brought a smile to his face, reveling in the sort of fatherly comfort he had never known before.
"I can see that… I like you Adrien, Sabine does as well… I hope you know that. So no matter what, this house will always be open to you."
Tom stood there for a moment, absorbing the shocked emotion on Adrien's face with a slight sadness, knowing that there should never be a child who needed support the way this one did, knowing it was wrong that it ever came to this. However… being able to offer him something felt good, and he had a feeling that he would make his daughter very happy. Before it could go too long though, Tom laughed heartily to break the tension, and gently pushed Adrien towards the door.
"Now come on, no more stalling. She's waiting for you."
Marinette stood at the top of her stairs, holding her bag close to her and staring down into the bakery like it was a place she had never been. She felt two consistent sources of encouragement though, one from her mother standing behind her, and another from Tikki, silently cheering her on.
"Come on sweetie," her mother spoke softly, "it's time to go."
She didn't move right away, her heart pounding in her chest, but she remembered her mother's words and what they reminded her of. It wasn't just Adrien, not anymore. It was Cat Noir too, and she knew that Adrien was probably just as nervous as she was even if he tried to hide it.
Finally she felt her heart steady just a little, and she started down the stairs, timidly but still moving forward.
Sabine followed behind, standing behind her daughter proudly as the two teens locked eyes, and the look that settled on Adrien's face sent a wave of affection through her. She watched as he took in Marinette, looking at her with something almost too old for him. It was heavy in his eyes, and part of her wondered if he knew he was in love. They were so young and so sweet, but there was something… so much more. As a mother she was ecstatic. He was well mannered, thoughtful, polite, and caring while also having the youthful energy to match her daughter's. What luck her daughter must have… to find a boy who looked ready to stand by her side forever on the very first date.
Adrien couldn't move. She was… god she was perfect. Her hair was down again… something that he realized looked even better without the mask somehow, maybe it was the curls, the way they hugged her neck and framed her face. Diamonds glittered on her collar bone and her eyes were accented in such a way by the dark color of her hair and the glowing white of her coat that they looked like icicles with light shining through them.
He said it aloud, unable to keep the awe from his voice, unable to retract the words once they were said. Tom smiled, Sabine sighed happily, and Marinette glowed.
Pink dusted her cheeks and she found the confidence to walk towards him, looking him over and then looking away shyly.
"You… you look very handsome Adrien. A-are those for me?"
Adrien was lost, still staring at her when Tom's encouraging hand motions brought him back to the present, a flush creeping up his neck as he held out the flowers.
"Y-yes my lady. I thought they were beautiful before but nothing compares to you."
Marinette's eyes widened at the line, before she giggled and reached out to take the bouquet, mostly to hide behind them.
"Thank you… they're lovely."
"Not as lovely as you."
"Oh shh," she finally teased with a laugh, glad to see him smile.
Her mother stepped forward then, reaching out to gently take the flowers.
"I'll put them in your room honey, you two should be on your way."
"Right," Adrien spoke up, taking Marinette's arm in his without thinking about it much, "let's go."
He grinned at her, his confidence slowly returning as the initial nervousness started to fade. He could see it in her as well, still bashful but working on getting more comfortable.
He helped her outside, opening the bakery door for her and sliding in alongside her when the door to the car was opened by the driver.
The door clicked shut and the driver walked back around to the front, quickly raising the partition to give the teens their privacy and heading towards the restaurant.
In the small space of the car the seats were still rather spacious, but somehow, for one reason or another, Marinette and Adrien sat shoulder to shoulder regardless. He could feel her heat besides him as the intimacy of the car dawned on him, the dim lighting only flaring up when streetlights flashed in the window. He swallowed again, berating himself for his nervousness and reached down to hold her hand, containing a sigh of relief when she reciprocated the gesture.
"So tomcat," she finally spoke, turning to look up at him in the darkness, "will you tell me where we are headed now?"
He grinned, the nickname putting him more at ease. "Pierre Gagnaire's restaurant," he responded plainly, smirking slightly when her jaw dropped.
"B-but reservations are impossible!"
"I had Natalie make them, how she got them is beyond me but I didn't plan on complaining. It was pretty funny actually, once I told her it was for a date she went the extra mile to make it nice."
"Ah Adrien we really don't have to! Seriously! Just spending time with you is nice I would have been fine with a sandwich or something!"
His grin grew, but he shook his head. "I have to show you I'm serious princess, only the best for you. Then we can do whatever we like. First impressions matter you know."
"First impressions," she huffed, pinching the bridge of her nose with a bemused laugh. "You don't have to impress me." She gripped his hand a little harder for emphasis, her blush visible even in the dim light. "We are already kind of together ya know."
"Yes but now is time to seal the deal! Also, if you think I'm not going to spoil you, you obviously don't know me very well."
"Cat!" she protested, her eyes widening slightly as she screwed her eyes shut and shook her head, the curls swaying with the movement. "Shoot I'm sorry."
"It's cool, the cabin is fairly soundproof, and even if it wasn't I can imagine worse people finding out than my driver." He laughed it off, waggling an eyebrow at her, finding it easier to be himself now with the name out in the open again. It was so easy to convince himself that it wasn't real and she didn't actually know. "Hopefully we don't get that wrong in public at some point, but even if we do as long as we stick together we can handle anything."
Marinette's lips parted in a silent gasp, her eyes shining and the corners of her mouth tilting upwards in a smile, and he couldn't take his gaze away from her face, her deep blue eyes pulling him in once again.
However the moment was thoroughly ruined when Plagg groaned, popping his head out of Adrien's jacket and saying, "Ugh I already hate this! Tikki this is the worst this isn't any fun at all anymore."
Marinette, though irritated herself at the little cat's interruption, still had to struggle to restrain her snicker at Adrien's furious expression, looking utterly betrayed.
"Plagg you said-"
"I never said nothing!" he whined, squeaking in a mix of pain and fear when he was suddenly yanked out of the jacket and out into the space of the cabin by Tikki, materializing from Marinette's purse to save the day.
"Plagg!" she scolded sharply, "You will leave them alone, you interrupt again and I'll chuck you from the window!"
"Tikkiii," he moaned but she bat him over the head again with her hand and frowned sternly, turning to Adrien.
"I'll keep him quiet, don't you two cuties worry about a thing, it's like we're not even here!"
To prove her statement she pulled Plagg into the bag and snapped it shut, effectively putting the small black kwami in lockdown until the date was over.
Adrien, who was still grieving the lost moment, sighed but attempted to be good natured about it, raising an eyebrow when Marinette chuckled.
"Well he seems like a handful, he's cute though."
Adrien groaned and it made her laugh harder, his mood appeased mostly thanks to the sound. "You have no idea, I love Tikki! She's so sweet, honestly she's the nicest. All Plagg ever does is pull pranks and stick cheese crumbs in everything."
Plagg's tiny protest of "Ungrateful!" could only just be heard, but he ignored him in favor of the lovely woman besides him.
"Is that why your room smelled like cheese? I wasn't going to say anything but uh…"
He groaned again, his face falling in his hands and making her snort with laughter. He was planning on being embarrassed, but he was so distracted by the adorable sound he didn't have it in him to sulk.
"Well at least there doesn't seem to be signs of an akuma attack so we won't need to transform, Chloe looks to be in the clear according to Sabrina."
That caught his attention, Adrien picking his head up to gaze at her curiously.
"Did Sabrina talk to you or something?"
Marinette nodded her head, her teeth clamping down gently on her bottom lip as she thought.
'Stop staring at her lips damn it' he pleaded mentally.
"I sent her a text earlier today after you walked me home, asking how Chloe was doing. She called me and was beside herself, saying how something awful almost happened. According to her, an akuma tried to possess her, and it didn't work."
"Wait seriously?" he exclaimed, his attention refocusing, "So I guess double possessions don't work."
"I don't know, that's not how Sabrina made it sound," she countered. "According to her the two of them were together outside of the school. She was ranting and crying and suddenly the akuma flew in and tried to plant itself in Chloe's sunglasses. The way Sabrina made it sound was Hawkmoth tried to talk to her, but Chloe forced him out."
"That's possible? Well, maybe it's just easier to dissuade if it's happened before."
Marinette shrugged, obviously not having much of an idea herself. "Getting the story from them isn't going to be unbiased in the least, Sabrina was trying to make it sound all heroic. I was asking her for direct quotes of the conversation between Chloe and Hawkmoth but she didn't seem inclined to share. I was part of the reason Chloe was so upset in the first place, I doubt they would tell either of us. The best I could get from Sabrina made it sound like Chloe decided she didn't want revenge, she just wanted to be alone and told Hawkmoth to go away."
Adrien was slack jawed, trying to wrap his head around the idea. Finally though with an amused chuckle he said, "Well if anyone could tell Hawkmoth to take a hike I wouldn't put it past her to manage."
"Seriously," Marinette muttered in agreement, laughing along with him. "If it's true then I'm impressed. To decide to just leave us be would be pretty grownup of her."
"Well I doubt she'll be nice," he sighed, "but at least she won't try and actively kill us."
Marinette tittered, nervously playing with the diamonds at her neck. "Yeah that's definitely a nice change. She was a pretty nasty akuma."
"Ivan was worse," he responded, shivering slightly at the memory. "Well maybe not worse, but a lot scarier. Queenie was vicious and fast but he was unnerving to fight. It was so quiet, it was the worst."
"You beat him though," she said quickly, moving to recapture his hand. "You saved everyone."
He was silent for a bit, looking down at their hands and breathing out slowly. "Yeah, everyone." He squeezed her hand, running a thumb along her fingers.
"Don't look so sad kitty cat, I'm right here aren't I? I'm not going anywhere."
His smile was subdued but genuine, leaning into her to press their shoulders together and gently lay his head against hers, another tender gesture that she reciprocated immediately.
"I know, it's just still fresh is all. I know you're okay."
"What about you?" she asked, playing idly with the ring on his finger, smiling since she knew what it was and liking how he didn't move to stop her. He knew he could trust her with it. "How are you feeling?"
"I assume you mean my injuries," he chuckled, "since it should be obvious I'm feeling pretty amazing right now in every other regard. Hardly any pain when I'm sitting like this, I'm doing just fine."
He picked his head up from its place against hers and reached out, taking her chin in his hand and angling her face so she was looking at him. "I promise, Cat's honor."
"Cats have honor?" she laughed, the strength behind it fading as the both of them started to realize the intimacy of their position, how close their faces were, the way his fingers gripped her face gently.
"Yeah…" he responded lamely, practically feeling the heat spread across her face through his fingertips. Her skin was soft, and her eyes were wide, staring up at him, wondering what he was going to do next. Honestly he would have also liked to have known, the warmth from the back of his neck spreading into his cheeks as he looked again at her lips.
This was ridiculous he was being ridiculous he couldn't just- not again he was lucky he had gotten away with it in the first place. She was right there though, and it was all he could think about.
"Princess…" his voice was soft, and hesitant, his fingers holding her face trembling slightly.
"Yes?" she responded, her voice amazingly steady as she watched him, neither of them pulling away.
"M-may I… May I kiss you?"
The only sound he could hear was the tiny hitch of her breath and the pounding of his heart, filling the cabin and fueling his nervousness, wondering why she hadn't responded yet.
However, after a moment, her eyes wide with her own nerves and a small smile forming on her face, she nodded silently.
Adrien was frozen, petrified by his own fear even though he had managed to kiss her so effortlessly before, but he didn't have to move. Marinette slowly picked up her own hand to grasp gently at his jacket, pulling him forward and sitting up slightly to meet him, taking the opportunity to lead on their second kiss.
At first it was as soft and tender as their first had been, charged with their tense nervousness, but once they were brought together their fear of being refused vanished completely. Adrien leaned forward, an arm wrapping around her and pulling her to him as his desire overrode his lack of initial confidence. He felt Marinette sigh against him, the slight brush of air on his cheek urging him on, making him surer of himself. His free hand wrapped around to the small of her back, his other cupping her face and letting his thumb glide along the soft skin of her cheek, loving the warmth he found there. A strange feeling blossomed in his throat when he felt her hands slip inside his jacket, sliding along his sides and holding him gently so as not to cause pain. She pushed into him, controlling the kiss and making his heart hammer frantically against his ribs.
She got more confident, letting their second kiss melt into a third, a fourth. Once she was there, kissing him and so close, she couldn't think of him as a crush she was terrified of embarrassing herself in front of. He was Adrien, and he was kissing her.
Without thinking much of it her hand found its way up to his neck, curiously reaching for his soft golden hair and winding her fingers through it, using it to push him to her again.
That strange feeling grew in his throat again, and he shivered, unable to process that it was all really happening. When she gently grabbed at his hair he cringed when he felt himself make a noise, incapable of containing it, but also incapable of pulling away from humiliation. Any noise at all would have been mortifying, but something so low, something so close to a purr of contentment was too much.
She pulled away just enough to let him feel the smile on her lips before she kissed him one last time, sitting back against the seat to catch her breath.
They were both flushed, still sitting so close together with their breathing filling the cabin. Adrien's heart was beating so quickly and so hard that he thought he felt a phantom ache from his ribs, his face feeling hot, almost feverish.
They were silent for a while before she said, "T-thanks for uh, asking. I hope that answer was clear."
He was staring at the ground, smiling like a fool, the back of his neck tingling.
"Thanks for uh… yeah just- thanks."
He shook his head, trying to make the thoughts come together but he grinned when she laughed at how disjointed he was.
Her laughter lead nervously into a stuttered sentence, her hands playing with her coat in the corner of his eye.
"Y-you can do that whenever, just so you know. If you want."
"Awesome," he responded too quickly, giggling at his rushed and incredibly lame answer. "Cool, great."
He looked at her, loving how flustered she was, loving that it was his lady that looked back at him so bashfully.
"Whenever?" he asked, smiling at her.
"Yup," she squeaked, playing with her hair and looking at the ground, his bright green eyes to much to look at after something like that.
"Cool," he said again, silently cheering at how she jumped in surprise when he kissed her nose, making her look up in so he could kiss her lips again, short and sweet.
"A-Adrien!" she sputtered, burning red and retreating into her coat, glaring at his excited grin.
"You said whenever! I'd do it again if we weren't about to arrive."
He gestured out the window, his driver pulling into a place where he could drop them at the doors. He could see the looming building and the people filing in, all very obviously wealthy adults. They would be the youngest ones there by a decade at least, unattended that is.
The car pulled to a stop and with the car still idling the driver got out to head towards Adrien's door and open it for them.
"Come on Princess, time to go."
Adrien quickly fixed his hair from where she had messed with it, waiting for the door to open and then taking a step out onto the curb.
"My lady," he said simply, holding out his hand with a charming smile. He was so exhilarated from kissing her he felt like he could do anything, especially take her to dinner.
Marinette was still recovering from the surprise attack, and all of the kissing in general, but did not want to be outdone. She saw her tomcat out there, smiling confidently at her and holding his hand out like a gentleman, patiently waiting for her and looking like he was on top of the world.
She took a deep breath, and found herself smiling at the cat's charm, reaching out to except his offered hand and follow after him, the chill of the night in sharp contrast to the heat of her face.
As soon as she was standing outside the car he looped his arm through hers, striding forward and thanking the driver. He ushered her towards the front doors being held open by two immaculately polite attendants, straightening his back and holding himself with practiced composure.
"Sir Agreste and Madame Cheng, thank you for joining us. Your table is ready for you if you'll just follow me." The male attendant smiled professionally at the children who were half his age in a place so high brow. He knew better than to treat them with anything less that his utmost professionalism, because if children passed through a place like this without anyone holding their hands then they had family who had the flack to make it happen, especially with a last minute reservation like theirs. The name Agreste did not go unnoticed, the wait staff already tense and watching. However, as he led them to their table he didn't get the impression that they would cause any trouble. In fact, he was almost certain it was only the boy who had the power to make a reservation and the young lad was practically glowing with happiness, his eyes constantly on the pretty girl who followed him quietly. The attendant smiled, watching the boy pull out the girl's chair for her and how she blushed at the simple gesture, and then how the boy eagerly took his own seat, glancing around at the restaurant and then back at the girl to check her reaction.
'He is trying so hard, it must be a date,' the worker thought, his exhaustion from his work day fading slightly as he watched the boy smile at nothing more than the image of the girl across from him. Regrettably though he could not observe the scene forever, remembering himself and offering to take their coats as they got settled.
"Oh, uh yes t-thank you," the girl stuttered, and with a small smile the worker realized she must not be used to places like this. He felt a surge of pride for the boy he didn't know. If he wanted to make an impression than a five star fine dining experience was certainly the way to go.
The two teens removed their jackets, only the thoroughness of the attendants training keeping him from laughing at how the boy flushed immediately upon seeing the girls dress for presumably the first time.
'So adorable,' he thought, silently amused as he was forced to leave, taking the coats and leaving behind menus.
'Ah… woah. Crap,' Adrien though helplessly, glad that Marinette was momentarily distracted by her surroundings and wasn't looking at him so he could panic in peace.
She was wearing, in essence, a simple dress. It was an off shoulder cut and hugged her in a way that was flattering without being skin tight, ending just above the knee. It was tailored to her perfectly, and was a deep scarlet red that looked perfect on her, as he had often thought when he saw her as ladybug. There were no fancy designs or over the top sequins, just the gentle shimmer of the fabric he had no name for, and it looked amazing. Just… the cut, and the diamonds and the curl of her hair. He didn't exactly blame himself for getting caught staring, but it didn't mean he wasn't embarrassed.
"Ah I-I'm sorry what were you saying?" he was frying in his chair, now victim to her teasing gaze, but ultimately she looked flattered.
"I was saying" she laughed, looking around again, "this place is amazing. I've never seen such an intricate chandelier before."
"Y-yeah uh it's pretty nice um," he was trying to recover his perfect confidence from before but it was utterly lost to him now, her playful smile only aiding in his ruin. "I've never been here before myself, but I've heard good things."
"My parents tried to come here once for their anniversary but it was booked over the entire month when they called. I'll be honest," she said, looking at the menu for the first time, "I don't really recognize any of this."
She smiled at him, trying to ease his nerves with a joke and only smiling wider when he shot her a grateful look.
Adrien looked through the menu himself for a second before closing it again and shrugging, saying, "After being to enough places like this I've learned to just say 'Whatever the chef recommends' and leaving it at that. Much less work, and it usually turns out well anyways."
Marinette breathed a laugh, closing her own menu and setting it back on the table.
"Sounds easy enough, I think I'll do the same thing."
Their attendant returned then. "What drinks can I get for you?"
"Just water is fine," Adrien answered simply, putting the menu to the side.
"Iced tea, thank you," Marinette nodded graciously, wholly unsure of herself.
"And the two of us will just take whatever the chef recommends for the night," Adrien added, smiling at the waiter and was pleased to earn a surprisingly genuine smile in return.
"Of course sir, perhaps an appetizer along the same vein?"
"Marinette?" Adrien asked, referring to the girl, who nodded quickly without thinking much on it. "Yes that would be nice, thank you."
"It will be out shortly."
The worker left with a smile, returning to his gossip with some of the others working the tables near him, following his friend into the back while saying, "Did you see them? It's ridiculous, that kid is more committed than I've ever been in my life and he is like twelve, easy."
"That boy has his love life more together than I ever have and I'm forty five damn it," his coworker responded, moving into the back and lowering his voice as he passed their supervisor.
A hostess passed them then, whispering, "Those two who came in? The Agreste boy? I know right! It's adorable he looks so excited!"
Another hostess stopped, pretending to look through something and saying over her shoulder, "God the girl as well! It's so cute she looks like she's going to burst. I was worried they would be snots like half the other rich kids who come here but they couldn't be sweeter it's like a sitcom."
The original worker spoke up, keeping an eye out for their manager. "They just ordered whatever as well, they obviously don't care about the dinner they just want to talk I can't even believe it. This random rich kid has more game in his freaking finger than I have in my whole body."
"It's not game," the first hostess scowled, "he is obviously in love with her just look at him!"
The four of them looked out the window set in the door looking into the dining area at the young couple sat directly under the largest chandelier. The boy was saying something, most likely a joke, and the girl was blushing delicately, giggling into her hand. The way he looked at her was so heavy with earnest emotion it made the woman sigh and the men groan.
"He looks nervous too though," the attendant responsible for their table spoke up, "what's a good appetizer? I want to help him out."
Adrien was absorbed, watching as Marinette talked about her family. He wanted to know everything, and he kept asking questions, genuinely interested in all the details.
"My dad has worked as a baker for a long time and my mom used to own another business when they met. They banded together to run the bakery we have now," she stated simply, smiling at the waiter when he brought her the iced tea and taking a sip from it.
"Are you going to inherit the bakery when you're older or did you want to pursue fashion design still?"
Marinette thought about it for a moment before shaking her head. "No my parents have always been really supportive, I think they plan to run the bakery themselves for as long as they can and let me do what I want. I've always felt sort of bad though… it's the family bakery and I'm their only child. I really hope they give it to one of my cousins or something so that it stays in the family, but I know they wouldn't want me to give up on being a designer for it."
She felt a little embarrassed by how intently he was staring at her, something he seemed to notice since he chuckled nervously and leaned back in his seat.
She held off asking what he wanted to do when he grew up, not wanting to bring him down with thoughts of what his overbearing father might expect of him, so she instead asked randomly, "Have you traveled a lot?"
Adrien was surprised by the abrupt change in subject, but was glad to escape having to talk about his family. "Yes an awful lot, mostly for modeling and photoshoots and occasionally along with my father on important business trips. New York city was one of my favorites, I stayed there with a summer when I was ten while my father worked with a company on some big project. I've been there several times since then but never for as long. I stayed for a few weeks in Shanghai once, and I've been all over for just a few days. Greece, Mexico, Germany, Russia, all sorts."
Marinette was smiling hugely, her eyes looking like they were full of stars. "Wow Shanghai! I've always wanted to go, my mother has family there but we've never had the chance. I've been to America once myself for a wedding, I got to go to Los Angeles. It was amazing and very different, I'd love to go again sometime though. What was New York like?"
Adrien began to talk animatedly about the city and Marinette only became distracted from the vivid story telling a few times. She couldn't help it when it happened, her eyes would be following some hand gesture of his and trail along his arm, looking at his well-tailored outfit and taking him in against the backdrop of the restaurant. It was a dream made reality, Adrien looking at her and speaking with her casually on their first date, his handsome face alive with energy and his perfect green eyes sparkling with his happiness. Sometimes while he spoke he would seem more Cat Noir than Adrien, and other times more Adrien then her superhero ally. However mostly he was just a perfect mix of the two, and the more he spoke the more she realized there really was no escape. Everything she had ever loved about those two boys collapsed into one person, each mannerism and shift in tone making her heart skip. She was grateful that he was her tomcat that Adrien was the one behind the mask, because she couldn't imagine anything more perfect than this.
It was easy.
All his worrying and fretting and it was almost effortless to go through with. A few times while they talked he would catch her looking at him with pink in her cheeks, and he realized he would pay anything to know what made her blush and look away. She laughed at his jokes, or groaned at his puns, and each time she smiled it was just a little harder to breathe normally. It didn't feel like she was faking it either, it really did look like she was having a nice time.
'Are you seriously still doubting whether or not she's interested man come on. She cares about you! Get over it already, stop being so surprised.'
His thoughts were interrupted when the appetizer arrived, a gourmet unnamable fancy… something. Adrien realized he probably should know better, but high end food had never really captured his interest. What did catch his interest thought was the waiter who was offering him an extra cloth napkin with a smile that seemed more than just polite professionalism.
"Uh, sure? Thanks."
Adrien took it and felt something like paper wrapped up inside, the waiter giving him a wink and leaving while Marinette was distracted trying to decide what the food in front of her was. To play it safe Adrien lowered the napkin in his lap and unfolded it out of sight, doing his best to listen to his girlfriend but was thoroughly occupied with the note written on a scrap of paper.
'We're all rooting for you buddy you're doing great don't be nervous. If you need anything, special menus, desserts, a change in music let one of the workers know and we'll make it happen.'
Adrien choked on nothing in particular, his head shooting up like he had been pricked with something sharp and immediately scanning the area. He noticed right away that some of the workers were glancing his way, keeping an eye on his table. Even the freaking chef was looking through the window that lead into the kitchen, giving him a thumbs up of encouragement.
'When did I get a cheer squad!? Have they been watching us the whole time?'
"Uh it's some sort of cheese I think," Adrien tried to participate in Marinette's speculation, but his face was burning and she quirked an eyebrow but ultimately left him alone about it.
He had to admit, even if it was kind of embarrassing it was also… strangely comforting? For no reason at all basically every employee there was supporting him. Was it that obvious he had been nervous? Maybe that was just the sort of extra mile service you got in high end places but… it felt way more human than that, like everyone just genuinely wanted to see him succeed.
He refocused when he heard Marinette make a vague noise of approval, and he realized she had tried whatever they had been served.
"It is cheese you're right, or at least mostly cheese and something else. Should I give some to Plagg?"
"Oh, uh yeah he would probably like that make sure it's not too hot though. He'll eat it without checking and burn himself."
Marinette laughed at his concern, and her mature beauty struck him again, making his heart falter in its steady tempo. He held on to the note tightly though, grateful for the support from complete strangers.
Marinette looked around to make sure no one was looking at her purse before opening the top and lowering in a square of zested expensive cheese coated bread. It was immediately stolen from her with an excited squeal she had to cough to cover up, the black kwami only visible for a moment before he was pulled back inside along with his treat by Tikki.
"How are they? I bet they're bored but it can't be helped really," Adrien said vaguely, trying to distract himself from the excited smiles aimed at the two of them from every worker in their area.
"They seem fine, the cheese should tide Plagg over at least for a little while. I left some cookies in there for Tikki as well, and I'm sure she's busy keeping him in check." She smiled and laughed good naturedly, finding it amusing how genuinely apologetic Adrien looked.
"He can be pretty unbearable sometimes, sorry you've got to deal with him now. It's sort of a package deal though," he laughed nervously, grinning in an uneasy way that made her giggle.
"I don't mind it, I think he's funny."
"He thinks he's funny too."
They shared a laugh at that, and Marinette was a little entertained that she was the mediator for their date in a way she hadn't expected to be. She figured she would be the one fraying at the edges with nerves and Cat, well Adrien, would be the one keeping it together but it was the opposite. She found it surprisingly easy as well, to smile and laugh in a way that made him more comfortable.
How cute that in the end it was the tomcat who was the ball of nerves. Not that she was exactly out of the woods herself, but still, it was easier than she had expected.
Their conversation evolved and flowed in a way that reminded her most of their patrols late at night. He would make some terrible joke that she would tease him about, and they would fall easily into light, fun banter. Cat Noir was an effortless person to be friends with, it was just his way, and in the end an effortless person to fall for as well.
He was so sweet as well… it was adorable. At one point she had remarked that string music was a favorite of hers when some had started to play from somewhere in the restaurant, and not long after he had slipped away to use the restroom that was almost all that exclusively played for the rest of the night. He denied it when she asked but she was positive that he had something to do with it. She was going to have to watch out for too much gift giving in the future… the stupid cat would run his wallet through if she didn't stop it.
Eventually their food arrived and she caught a conspirator's wink traded between the waiter and a grateful looking Adrien, but she was soon too distracted with the extravagance of their food to question it. It was seafood, salmon she believed, but so artfully prepared it had other guests looking over to find out what it was. It was presented in such a show of sauces and sides that she wracked her brain trying to find out where on the menu it had even been.
"Excuse me, sir," she called a little hesitantly to a passing worker, one who seemed all too pleased to stop for her.
"I was just wondering, what is this called?"
The worker beamed happily at her, saying, "It doesn't actually have a name Madame it was prepared as an original dish specifically for the two of you."
"Wait seriously?" Adrien spoke up, and Marinette was surprised to see the shock on his face. He hadn't planned it?
"Yes sir, no extra charge. It is in celebration of your um special night." This worker gave a wink of his own before vanishing, leaving a stunned blushing Adrien with a stunned blushing Marinette.
"W-wow you really went for the whole nine yards kitten," she stammered, but raised an eyebrow when he shook his head.
"No um, I'll be honest the staff is just sort of… enthusiastic," he chuckled almost self-consciously.
The two of them became fairly absorbed in their food, and once that was done, in each other once again. Sometimes when one of them was talking the other would become so engrossed that the one speaking would trail off without noticing, and the two of them would just lock eyes until the realized in unison that the conversation had petered off. They would do the same thing every time, laugh a little nervously, stare a little more, and then try their best to pick up where they left off. After a while it became easier to ignore the staff, and the other diners, and every other living soul.
"Did you want dessert My Lady?" he asked, their post dinner conversation having already stretched an hour on its own. She was so easy to get lost in, they had just sat with empty table in front of them for ages.
"Um no, honestly what I really want is maybe um…"
Adrien tilted his head when she got quiet, a blush on her face as she shook her head.
"Never mind I'm sorry-"
"No say it! Whatever you want I want this to be perfect."
His heart faltered when she looked up at him through her lashes, a small smile on her face.
"It's already been perfect Adrien."
She took a deep breath, seeming to collect herself and unable to quite look at him.
"I-I know we just spent hours and hours together, but, if you wanted, once I'm home and my parents fall asleep. Did you maybe want to go out again, but with the masks this time?"
Adrien was silent for a moment, before a huge grin broke out across his face.
"I can't think of anything I'd rather do more darling. We can do whatever you like, have a race around Paris, or sit on top of the tower. I'll spend every night and day with you if you'll let me my lady."
He realized his heart was racing again and he silently wondered why agreeing to something so simple felt so… official. So final. Like taking her hand and diving out into the cold night was the one last thing he needed to do to make her really his. He hadn't see her yet, as Ladybug, not since Chloe's akuma attack. Now the sky was finally clear though, the rain had stopped and his heart belonged to her more completely than it ever had before. He could see it, stretching out in front of him like the dream he had always longed for. Cat Noir and Ladybug together at last, racing over the rooftops, stealing kisses in the moonlight. Every sappy love struck daydream he had ever had was finally coming true in the most roundabout hilarious way.
He knew it was her, that she was his ladybug sitting across from him, staring at him with that overwhelmingly powerful strength in her eyes. Marinette was his lady, his lady was Marinette, but having Ladybug sneak out her window late at night to see him, to run to him, to chase him down through the streets to hold him… god it was everything he had ever wanted.
"We won't be doing anything so… active kitten. I haven't forgotten about your injuries," she smirked at his obvious disappointment. "But we can go out, and a little light climbing should do you good anyways. Sound fun?"
He smirked at her, his heart bursting with every 'I Love You' he was smart enough to save. So instead, he said it in his own way, in a way that would have to do for now.
If you were awake in the very early AM's on one Paris morning you might have heard the steady background thrum of lights and generators and heaters working diligently throughout the city, and you might have heard a pair of high ringing laughs slowly strolling along the rooftops. And if you had been looking out your window, past the bright glowing clock on your nightstand stating a practiced "3:46 AM" on its face, you might have seen two figures arm in arm walking slowly through the night.
If you had kept watching you might have recognized them as the two heroes of Paris, pausing at the edge of a neighborhood in a spot they frequented for their patrols. And if you had kept watching still, you might have seen the gentle way with which they regarded each other, and the way they drew close and slowly reached out.
You might have even seen them kiss.
((Unfortunately, I feel it is time to draw this story line to a close : ) if in the future I find the inspiration to play more with the way things develop, the first I love you, the reveals for Nino and Alya, I will be sure to add more! But for now I think this is enough. I have other LadyNoir stories I wish to toy with, and if you have any prompts please feel free to go to my tumblr, .com , and submit them! I have seen questions about their winter outfits, I might do a one shot with them in the future but since they were mostly a plot device I did not see reason to tie them back in. The designs are available on my tumblr if you were curious to see them. Thank you very much for reading : ) ))