I am Ladybug trash, and there's no going back. I love these two dorks too much.

Disclaimer: I do not own Miraculous Ladybug, or any of the beautiful, wonderful characters in it.

But all of this writing is mine.

It's raining lightly outside, and the clock hand lingers over the six. Marinette's eyes follow the droplets as they collect and slither down the glass. It's cold for early autumn, and she's glad for the comfort of her bed, the warm familiarity of her room.

The distant tapping against the pane distracts her from the script between her hands – the current project that's supposed to have her undivided attention.

Her school just posted a notice for an upcoming play. She overheard Adrien discussing the auditions in passing with Nino, mentioning his interest in auditioning. Marinette had already been hesitant, but when Chloe made it clear she'd be pursuing the female lead, the young hero knew she had no choice. She would have to try.

Alya was thoroughly supportive, going as far as getting her friend a copy of the script to practice at home with until auditions. So, she finds herself here, curled up on her bed with the pages between her hands.

Despite playing the façade of a normal teenage girl every day, hiding her separate life as Ladybug, she honestly doesn't have the slightest idea at how to perform onstage. She scrutinizes the dialogue, her eyes unfocused. It's hard enough to keep track of which characters are speaking, and what is going on – let alone figure out what they are saying.

It's too late to go meet with Alya; the auditions are after school tomorrow. Marinette is hardly prepared to recite lines – especially in front of an audience. Chloe will be there, ready to laugh at her if she does badly. Worse still, if she fails, Chloe will have the female lead – and she will be sharing romantic scenes with Adrien. Marinette doesn't doubt for a second that he'll land the male protagonist.

So, she needs to try. If only for a chance to see Adrien onstage, outside of school hours.

"Tikki?" she inquires softly.

The little kwami peeks out from Marinette's bag, "Yes?"

"What do I do? The auditions are tomorrow."

Tikki perches delicately on one of the pages, eyeing the text.

"Do you have to memorize all of this?"

Marinette sighs, "Not right now, but if they choose me I will."

Her kwami frowns, glancing between Marinette's worried gaze and the script.

"Why don't you take a small break?"

Marinette pauses, considering. She still has a few more hours, and relaxing a little might refresh her senses. She tosses the small booklet onto her bed, rising.

"That's not a bad idea, Tikki. I think I'll go check Alya's blog – she was gushing about it this morning."

Marinette sinks into the chair in front of her desk, pulling out her phone. Tikki nestles against her cheek, comfortably resting on her shoulder.

Alya has been even more passionate about the Ladyblog the last few days. She insists that she is onto something big – something that might actually reveal the hero's identity. Marinette scrolls through the videos posted during the past week, faltering as a live feed catches her attention. Alya is streaming.

As the video fills the screen, Martinette's attention settles on her friend's face. She is ducking in an alleyway, tilting the camera toward a convenience store across the street.

"-in front of a robbery on 20th Avenue! That's right, everyone! You're seeing this action live, right here on the Ladyblog. Any moment now, Ladybug will be here!"

Marinette straightens in her chair, her stomach clenching. Her mind flits back to the incident in the Egyptian museum. Alya is out there, in the middle of a dangerous situation.

Why does she have to be so reckless?

"Tikki, we have to go."

Practicing for the play will have to wait till later. But maybe, after she is done attending to this, she can 'accidentally' run into Alya and get some help. Marinette grabs the script off her bed, shoving it into her purse. She transforms and then dives off the balcony railing, swinging over the rooftops.

The robber holds a gun level with the clerk's eyes, a make-shift mask guarding his features.

"Put the money in the bag," he demands gruffly.

The man behind the counter trembles, nearly dropping the bills he is pulling out of the register. He glances warily toward the camera overhead, inwardly praying that someone will come. The police – Ladybug or Chat Noir. Someone. This financial loss will shut down his store.

"What are you looking at, old man?" The masked man jabs his gun into the clerk's chest with a threatening laugh, "You think somebody is going to come help you?"

"There's no need to be impawlite."

Both men twist around, their eyes drawn to the lithe figure leaning in the doorway of the men's restroom. Chat Noir grins back impishly, his arms crossed. The robber stares at him for a second too long, glancing back at the front door, as though he isn't quite sure how the hero managed to come in without being noticed. The clerk has a similar expression.

"Cat caught your tongue?"

The criminal's brows draw together, an incredulous anger replacing his confusion. He lifts the gun back to the clerk's face.

"I'm the one with the gun – so I wouldn't be making light of the situation if I were you."

He rounds on the clerk, snarling, "Finish putting it in the bag!"

Chat steps away from the doorframe, taking a cautious step toward the counter. The hand holding the gun twitches.

"Don't even think about it."

The robber yelps suddenly, a string darting through the air and looping around his arm, wrenching it back painfully. The red yoyo snaps back into Ladybug's hand as the gun clatters to the floor. Chat dashes forward, snatching it away from the man's fumbling grasp.

"Bad timing?" she asks in a honeyed voice.

The robber lunges for Chat, grasping for the gun. There is a crazed glint in his eye, and Chat dances out of his reach, holding the weapon over his head in an odd game of keep-away. He shoots her a wry smile.

"Hardly, my lady."

Ladybug tosses her yoyo forward, snagging it on the man's leg and tugging it back, dropping him face-first onto the floor. The clerk is already on the phone, calling the police.

The duo stands in front of the store minutes later, shaking the officers' hands. The clerk thanks the two profusely. He shoves sodas into their hands, insisting that it is the least he can do.

"If you ever need something, just stop by and I'll take care of ya'," he says tearfully.

Ladybug accepts it, a bit embarrassed. Her black-clad accomplice takes a long swig as the man shuffles away.

"Y'know," he says casually, "Since this wrapped-up pretty quickly, we don't have to run off-"

"See you later, Kitty." Marinette says, spotting Alya in the crowd of reporters.

She is eager to be out of this outfit, and off the dark street. The only problem with being Ladybug is that her job is never really over, and she never actually gets a break from her shift. Chat calls out for her, but she darts through the reporters and jumps toward one of the nearby buildings, swinging toward the skyline.

As she rounds toward the back of one of the buildings, letting the transformation dissipate, her mind wanders to Adrien. Maybe he's practicing for the auditions tomorrow – or maybe he has only glanced over the script once or twice, confident in his skills.

Unlike her, with her late-night rescues and uneven schedule – Adrien is in a different world from her entirely.

Marinette stumbles around the corner of the store, her eyes searching the crowd Alya had been standing in. Her gaze settles on the glasses, the familiar charm dangling from Alya's phone. She starts forward, already mentally stringing together her excuse of making a late run for a drink to study with. Marinette pauses to open her bag and pull out the soda the clerk gave her. Tikki offers her the drink, and as she grasps it, the script falls out. She gropes for it, but it slips through her fingers and drops in a puddle.

Her mouth goes dry.

Marinette scoops it up, dread pooling in her stomach as she feels the sodden weight of it in her hands. It soaked straight through.

"Oh, no." she whispers.

Tikki peeks over the lip of her bag at the booklet, "Do you have another one?"

The girl shakes her head. She stares hard at the cover, her brain working out possibilities. She backs toward the alleyway near the store, an idea already forming in her mind.

"There are more at the school, though. I could get into the theater and find one of the spares."

Marinette glances back toward where her friend is standing down the street. She's peering up at the buildings longingly, phone in her hand.

"I'll just meet up with her tomorrow – right before the auditions," the hero reasons, already reaching for her earring.

And when she's airborne, slinging her yoyo from one building to another, she believes it wholeheartedly. She soars over the rooftops, and the wind whips back her hair, gliding over her suit with a crisp bite. She still has plenty of time. Once she gets there, if there is a dire situation, she can sneak a few crackers from her locker to Tikki.

Chat is always reasonable when it comes to Ladybug's privacy. He never demands to know her identity, and he never follows her home. He respects that she wants to keep her personal life separate from being a superhero – even if that means keeping it secret from her closest colleague.

It's getting late, but he isn't in the mood to go back just yet. He has plenty of time to spare after the incident at the convenience store, and even though he has homework to work on (and a script to take a look at), he figures it won't hurt to relax for a little while before he heads home.

Chat has only walked down a block or two, leaning against a brick wall as he polishes off his drink. And then he sees her. She is a little scarlet blip, arcing over the rooftops, shooting over the architecture like a star in his eyes. And this late in the evening, it's hard to tell the difference.

He drops the bottle into a trashcan nearby, flitting up the side of a building to get a better view of where she is heading. The lights silhouette her figure, freckling the expanse of the city like fireflies. It halos her dark hair, the curves of her suit, and he can't tear his eyes away. Maybe she is aiming toward home, or maybe…

No, she has boundaries – and he already resolved not to cross them. She deserves that respect, at least.


Maybe he could just happen to go in the same direction. He technically needs to head that way to get home. That wouldn't be breaching anything, right? A simple coincidence isn't an active violation of her privacy.

Chat's heart hammers against his ribs, a smile splitting across his face.

Ladybug slips into the school through a window in the girls' bathroom. It isn't exactly 'breaking and entering', she rationalizes. Nothing has been broken or damaged – and she isn't going to steal anything. She's just borrowing, and then bringing it back to school tomorrow.

She wars with whether she should take off the transformation while she's here, to give Tikki a rest. But if she runs into a night guard, or a security camera catches her on tape, she will be in trouble. Ladybug can explain that she had followed someone she thought was a thief into the school and then scared them off.

"If I was a script, where would I be?" she whispers, wandering down the hallways toward the theater.

Her suit is damp from the light rain, her hair clinging to her face in dark strands. It's eerily dark in the school, and the velvety weight of the curtains on the stage appears ominous. Ladybug shivers, ducking behind them, feeling her way toward the backstage dressing room. The teacher keeps all the props in the storage room, so if they aren't in here, that is her only other option. She's glad to be Ladybug right now – caught backstage under the dark curtains and the creaky floorboards. Her own breath is too loud, and she can hear her pulse in her ears. Her fingers graze the uneven wood of the wall, the wiring that threads vertically to connect all the lights. She creeps forward cautiously, fumbling in the dark, her heart thrumming. Isn't there a system back here that controls the stage lights?

She stumbles forward, stubbing her toe on something that is probably technical equipment, from the shape and size of it. A short, shrill sound escapes her, and Ladybug leans into the wall, cursing softly under her breath. Only she would lose her luck in the dark of a school theater, alone, cold, and wet.

She reaches out, feeling for the stupid box-like shape of the object, intending to move it or shimmy around it. Instead her touch encounters warm solidity, a steady, strong heartbeat under her fingertips.

A hand catches her wrist, and Ladybug shrieks again, this time stomping down hard with her good foot. He lets out a yelp.

"Me-ouch! What was that for?"

Chat doesn't relinquish his hold.

"What are you doing here?" she hisses.

His voice is still pained with a partially feigned hurt, but he speaks carefully, as though he already prepared to answer this.

"I happened to be heading in the same direction. And I noticed that you-"

"You know what? Never mind," she sighs, exasperated, "I'm sort of in the middle of something."

The darkness presses in, enveloping her senses. She can feel the weight of his eyes, piercing through the shadows, roaming over her. She definitely can't afford to let the transformation drop now – not here, with Chat. He can see her clearly, can maneuver as well as in broad daylight, and she is a clumsy fool.

"Maybe I could help."

She can hear the smirk in his voice. She squints toward her wrist, spotting the faint glow of his ring. Marinette doesn't know how similar it is to her earring – but if they are anything alike, he doesn't have a lot of time left. Maybe fifteen to twenty minutes.

She's cold in the damp material of her suit, despite the magical properties of the Miraculous. It's drafty in the theater, and she doesn't want to be back here, alone with him, more than necessary.

After a moment of hesitation, she relents, "I'm looking for a book."

Chat is very still. She can hear the intake of his breath, but even though she waits for a reaction, there is none.

"If you wanted a book, you could have gone to the library, my lady." he jokes, but she can tell there is an underlying question there.

'Why are you at this school?'

"Maybe," she says vaguely, "But I…uh… have a friend. And she lost a script that her other friend gave her. So I'm getting another for her."

"So it belongs to a friend of a friend?" He is amused.

"Yes," she mutters, "Now, if you could just take a look around-"

Chat lets go of her, but the release doesn't lift the weight on her chest. They are still alone – together – in the dark. And her time is limited.

"What does it look like?"

His voice recedes; he must be moving ahead of her. Marinette presses a hand against the wall, taking wary steps forward like before, feeling her way around.

"It's called 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'. The cover is sort of brown, and it has a lot of swirly plants and vines along the binding. There's a-"

"Have you already seen it? You sound like you're familiar with it," he notes casually.

Marinette clears her throat, mentally chastising herself. She tries to sound dismissive.

"My friend told me what it looks like."

Chat hums. The sound catches in his throat, coming out as more of a purr.

"Mmm, right. The friend of a friend."

His voice is so low, so distant, that she almost thinks he might be musing to himself. Speculating. Irritation swells in her at the cheeky tone of his voice. What right does he have to question her? He followed her here, and popped out of the dark like a ghost, scaring her senseless. And now he is teasing her and poking his little whiskers into her personal business.

"Yes," she says a little too loudly, indignant, "That's right."

His chuckle makes her grit her teeth, and if she weren't a fumbling, clumsy mess, she'd smack him. It's a good thing she can't see the grin on his face.

"I think I found it," he says.

Her interest immediately perks, the annoyance melting away.


Marinette wishes fervently that she could transform back and use her phone as a flashlight. She reaches out from the wall, squinting in the shadows, looking for Chat's outline. Her heart leaps in her chest, startled, as his fingers thread through hers, pulling her in his direction.

"Here," he whispers.

He touches her other hand gently, guiding it away from the wall so he can press the booklet into it.

"Thank you," she says honestly.

He doesn't respond, but the silence is enough, and she knows he must be looking at her again – searching her face for something. She feels suddenly very exposed, despite the mask.

Before she has the chance to break away, his soft voice arrests her.

"I wasn't going to follow you. But I saw you go inside, and you didn't come out, and…I was worried."

"You were curious," she says plainly.

He leans toward her, and she can smell the shampoo he uses, mingling with the scent of rain. Heady, distracting.

"Maybe I was both."

Perhaps it's the proximity, or the direct, unhindered enclosure of the darkness that makes her feel fearless, like she could say anything here – do anything, and it would be carefully cocooned in these shadows, hidden from the rest of the world.

"Curiosity killed the cat," she says, so quietly it's nearly lost.

His ring beeps, but she can't even register it. Her pulse is in her ears.

"But satisfaction brought it back," he murmurs.

She pushes against his chest, lifting her eyes, ready to brush off his firm grasp. But their gazes lock, and the vivid, brilliant green irises strip whatever words had been on her lips, stealing her composure. Marinette can feel his breath on her skin, warm puffs against her cheek that encourage the slow heat that's working its way up her neck.

It's absolute ridiculous how something so simple, so unintentional can rattle her so thoroughly. Has he looked at her this way before? He must have, plenty of times. But she is always so careful, so quick to dismiss his antics.

She thinks of Adrien, then. The thought is so sudden, and so arbitrary, it catches her off guard. A tinge of familiarity pricks in the back of her mind, urging feeling through her limbs that only reacted, up till now, for him. She's warm, abruptly aware of Chat's touch, and it frightens her.

When she finally tears her gaze away, her heart is thrumming, and she's embarrassed.

"You should go," she says.

"And leave you here?"

His voice is nearly a rasp, and she unsuccessfully tries to ignore it.

"I can take care of myself."

"Not if your time runs out," he says simply.

"Your time is going to run out, too," she counters.

She has to distance herself. Get away from him, from this dark, enclosed theater and his smoldering gaze.

Chat ducks, catching her eyes again before lifting his head, drawing her attention back up. She feels hot all over – from the flush on her skin, the anticipation burning through her abdomen. Distantly, she hears a beep in her ear.

She expects him to speak, but the silence between them stretches, and it isn't broken until Chat stiffens, abruptly alert.

"Be very quiet." he whispers fiercely.


Chat claps his hand over her mouth, his face level with hers. She is caught in that emerald gaze, and the rational part of her brain remains silent. He is listening, she realizes. She strains to ignore the pressure of his palm against her lips, the breath that stirs in her hair. And then she hears it – footsteps.

"How did you get in here?" he asks.

Marinette blinks slowly, as though rousing from a daze. He relinquishes his hold against her mouth momentarily, and she tries to keep her voice level.

"What do you mean?"

There is a beat, and then Chat grins, the devilish teasing back in his voice.

"Are you telling me the door to the theater was unlocked?"

It's another second before the recognition washes over her, and then Marinette tries not to panic.

"It was unlocked, but I-"

His hand presses back over her mouth, and she can hear the rattling. Someone is trying the theater door. Her pulse is throbbing in her ears, her heart racing.

And then silence.

They don't move for long, agonizing minutes, and she can hear Chat's ring beep again. Her earring follows not long after. Her free hand – the one that's not still clasped in his – rests against his chest, grasping the script. She can feel his heartbeat there, hard and fast.

A flicker of light darts under the curtains; someone sweeps a flashlight over the theater, and Marinette's eyes follow it, her breath caught in her throat.

Long, unbearable seconds go by before they hear the door click shut. When a few more excruciating minutes pass, Chat lowers his hand. The young girl pulls in a hesitant breath, testing the mannerism, allowing herself a hint of relief.

Somehow they are on the floor, crouched low in the fearful expectation of being caught. His knees brush her hips, and when he breathes, she can feel his chest rise, hear the velvety undercurrent of his voice when he does speak.

"Are you sure/That we are awake? It seems to me/That yet we sleep, we dream."

She's breathless, disoriented, "What?"

Chat laughs softly, and she nearly forgets where they are, why they're here. Her heart is still pounding from the near discovery, and now it's erratic.

"A Midsummer Night's Dream," he utters.

He closes the space between them, his mouth moving to the shell of her ear, and her breath hitches.

"It's from the script you were looking for," he reminds her softly.

His voice is silky as it trails over her skin, eliciting an unexpected shudder from her.

She forgets that their time is running out, relentless and inevitable. She forgets that this is Chat, and she is Ladybug, and that that alone should mean something. Some part of her recalls the carefully constructed boundaries, the layers of distance she has laid between them. Reason escapes her as his lips part, his voice a whisper against her temple.

"And yet, to say the truth, reason and love keep little company together nowadays."

Distantly his ring lets out one last beep, one last reminder of who and where they are.

He touches her chin, a gentle request, and she's leaning forward unconsciously, her eyes falling shut despite the darkness. She says his name, and he releases an impatient noise, closing the last space between them. And then he's kissing her, and Marinette can't breathe, let alone think.

She lifts a hand to his hair, and she's threading her fingers through the soft tresses, pulling him closer. She forgets caution, forgets why she's supposed to be careful. A small, distant voice of logic reminds her that she's supposed to push him away, but she can't remember why.

Chat purrs in the back of his throat, his hands gliding over her waist. He drags her roughly against him, and she can feel the sinewy muscle of his arms, the firm press of his chest. She never paid much attention to it before, but she can feel shape now, the distinct curves of his body where they meet.

She gasps for breath before his mouth is closing over hers again, stealing the noises she makes, swallowing her chance for protest. But Ladybug isn't objecting. She presses into him, willing, submissive. When she breathes his name, it breaks him, wedging under his skin and driving him half mad.

Her earring lets out a distant noise, but it's lost, drowned out in sensation.

There's a brief flash of green light, and then darkness. His ears disappear, and so does the mask, leaving just a boy with his heart on his sleeve. Adrien's pulse skips. His night vision is gone, but he can still feel everything – the curve of her leg between his knees as he leans over her, the flutter of her lashes against his skin. Any moment now, her transformation will be gone. And it'll just be the two of them, as they are, without any masks or pretenses. It sends a thrill through him, and he catches her lip between his teeth, tugging gently. She lets out an incomprehensible sound – somewhere between a moan and a gasp, and it jolts up his spine, sending an ache through him.

"You're supposed to be the sensible one, my lady." he says huskily.

Adrien can feel the flush on her skin. His mouth follows it, tracing down her jaw, leaving a trail of kisses behind.

"Shut up," she says shortly, but her voice is breathy. Lost.

She doesn't have the energy or the willpower to reprimand him – and they both know it.

There's a beep, and then the light flashes between them. Adrien presses his face into the dip of her neck in one fluid motion, and she stills. There's a pause, and when she speaks her voice is quiet, uneven.

"Did you-"

"I didn't see," he assures.

She relaxes a little, and then they're left with the silence, the recognition of the position they're in. He craves to stay like this, to touch her and kiss her everywhere that he can reach. But they're both disheveled and trapped in the secrets of their separate lives. And Adrien knows without asking that this has to remain here – a secret exchange that doesn't move past this moment.

He sits up minutes later, thankful for the dark of the room. If he could see her the way he left her, he wouldn't be able to pull himself away. Restraint isn't his forte when it comes to Ladybug.

When he reaches for her, she leans into his touch, and the joy that swells in his chest is instantaneous. His fingers wind through Marinette's hair, pulling her toward him. She curls between his legs, her head resting against his heartbeat.

They'll have to get up eventually, regardless of how long they allow it to last. But for now, Adrien rests his chin on her head, relaxing against her small form.

"A friend of a friend of a friend?" he muses.

"Don't press your luck," she sighs.

"I think I've had enough luck for today, my lady." he says, smiling into her hair.