. Beneath the Stars .

She doesn't remember what drew her out into the rainy evening. Uncertain of what draws her to the safety beneath a bridge as the rain pours down, soaking everything and anything that its gentle drops touch. But she is there, peering up into the dark skies in hopes that it will soon end so that she may return home and explain to her concerned parents that she was delayed because of it.

Still, the night is beautiful. The rain slicks the streets, turning them dark and sleek, like the furs of a panther that stalks the night. It drips into every crevice, creating a musty smell that she enjoys as she inhales sharply and smiles at the small creature that peers over her shoulder with distaste as she examines it.

"I'm sure it will go away soon," she soothes the Kwami with a gentle and kind smile on her lips, her sparkling blue eyes full of amusement. She gently smooths her damp bangs from her face, ignoring the wet strands that fall into her sight. "I know how you hate the wet...sorry."

The Kwami gives her a look of unconcealed amusement and fondness. "It's not your fault, Marinette," the Kwami reassures, "I know you can't control the weather. Besides. It'll probably let up soon, just like you said." The small creature, practically glowing red with patches of black in the darkness, smiles kindly at her friend and the one she masks when the situation requires it.

Marinette only laughs. "Thank the heavens for that! I don't think I could handle controlling the weather, Tikki...we've already seen someone who does that, and it was a pain." She gently touches her Kwami in a playful way on the tummy, and Tikki giggles. Suddenly, however, Tikki slips into hiding; she hides herself in Marinette's bag in a flash and Marinette realizes why only a moment later.

"Talking to yourself, princess?" a familiar voice quite literally purrs. Marinette's eyes lift to discover a slyly smiling Chat Noir, his eyes glowing in the dark like a true cat's as he watches her. She can't help but smile, recognizing her partner with ease despite the fact that he held only the slightest recognition for her.

"Perhaps," is her only answer as she peers back out at the rain, a slight pout appearing on her soft lips as she realizes that the rain has only started to come down harder. It won't end soon and she knows it. "I take it you're escaping the rain, too?" A teasing smirk crosses her face. "I mean, cats hate water…"

His gaze becomes one of laughter, as if he is enjoying the retaliation she throws his way. "Protecting Paris is a full time job, I'll have you know, and I don't care much for escaping the rain when I-" A drip of water suddenly lands on his head, one of only a few that leak through the bridge they stand beneath. He gives what sounds like a hiss as he recoils away, and Marinette does nothing but laugh.

Her kitty is as foolish as usual. Not that she minds. She appreciates his cocky and amusing behavior. It's a nice break from the attitudes of those like Chloe or the explosive eagerness of Alya.

Chat Noir peers curiously at her for a moment before asking, "What are you doing out in this weather?"

"Delivering," she says with honesty. Because it's the truth. She was delivering a parcel from her parents' bakery when the rain had started. "Someone ordered a batch of cookies and wanted it delivered immediately, but my parents were busy, so I offered to take it." She glares at the sky with a scowl on her face. "What about you? What is a little kitty doing out in the storm?"

His lips quirk into a smirk at that as he answers. "Patrolling. You'll be glad to know that this isn't the result of an akuma."

"Without Ladybug?" Marinette tests the waters with care, her eyes never leaving those glowing eyes to make sure that she doesn't take a step in the wrong direction. "I'm surprised."

"I'm sure my Lady is busy elsewhere," he hums in response, earning a stifled laugh from Marinette. If only you knew! she cries silently, and turns her gaze elsewhere. Her fingers fall into her purse and Tikki playfully latches onto one in a motion of comfort.

Fighting back a giggle at Tikki's action, the disguised girl peeks out again at the rain when she realizes that it has begun to lighten up if only just a little. "I'm sure she is. And does your Lady know of your fear of water?"

He scoffs, but gives her a grin, instead choosing to change the subject. "When the rain has gone, your prince is more than willing to escort the princess back to her palace." He bows playfully, the baton he uses as a weapon attached to its usual place at the small of his back.

Marinette glances down when Tikki whispers, encouraging her, and then smiles in a manner that is just as playful. "Why not? So long as you think that Ladybug won't mind…"

His smile falters just barely before it returns just as strongly. "I'm sure my Lady holds no concerns about such matters."

Marinette studies Chat Noir for a few moments, the briefest of moments, and then leans back against the cold stone bridge to peer outside again. Her eyes watch the rain, her fingers lifting to brush the bangs from her eyes as her heart gives a strange twist that she is not used to feeling. Ladybug - and Marinette - holds no feelings of love for the man and hero beside her. Her heart belongs to the one and only Adrien Agreste.

But she feels a slight twinge of regret, of reluctant warm affection for her kitty. He is her friend, a good friend, and her partner in crime when it comes to saving their beloved city of Paris. She knows that Char Noir feels strongly for Ladybug, but...she can't bring herself to return such feelings.

Still. Chat Noir is a friend, and, as she'd said, a good one. She will keep him distracted from the unhappy thoughts he's probably thinking of.

"I'm sure she does," Marinette sighs with a look of understanding. Even if her other persona is the subject of Chat Noir's attentions, she understands the longing and misery that accompanies a one-sided love. Because that's how it is with Adrien, who doesn't seem to realize what she's attempting to tell him most of the time.

The rain dribbles for a few more minutes; the pair enjoy their silence. It is a comfortable one, not awkward in any way. Marinette thinks she can hear Tikki whispering something to her, but she can't hear her over the rain.

Suddenly, he speaks again.

"Looks like the rain's stopped," he comments, risking the wet night to slip past her and out into the open air. Marinette picks her way out after him. The rain has come to a complete and total stop. She smiles at the cloudy sky, smelling the air with a happy look, because what could possibly smell better than the scent of the world after a spring shower?

"Shall we, mademoiselle?" he teases, offering a hand.

Marinette doesn't hesitate to place her own in his. She trusts him, will always trust him. She wishes - and not for the first time - that she could reveal that it was her, Ladybug, that he was looking at, but she doesn't dare. It puts so many at risk. Herself, Alya, her parents, Adrien

"We shall," she agrees, playing along. His gloved hand is warm, surprisingly, and his fingers curl gently around her own. Grateful that the dark will hide her slight blush, she steps up to his side, determined to walk beside him as an equal. Just as she always has.

Because while the public reveres Ladybug as a far more important and capable hero, she is nothing without Chat Noir.

They walk through the streets of Paris, chatting softly with one another. Marinette swears that Tikki is cheering her, encouraging this little private affair, but she ignores her Kwami in favor of smiling kindly at Chat Noir when they arrive.

"Thank you," she tells him with a look of gratitude. Not for the first time, she curses her heart, because she knows that he is genuine in his affections to Ladybug. But she can't find it in herself to move on just yet.

He only smirks and draws her fingers to his lips, which are warm against her chilled hand as he kisses it. "No problem, princess. Make sure to stay out of the rain next time."

"I'll try," she laughs and withdraws her hand, her cheeks burning. Acting on impulse, she moves closer and presses a kiss to his cheek. It's not the first time; she's done it before, but only as Ladybug, and she prays that he doesn't recognize it. His eyes are wide when she pulls away, staring at her, and she worries that her kitty has figured it out.

But then he laughs loudly, unconcerned. "Thank you, dear princess. I hope that you enjoy the rest of your lovely rain-filled evening." He glares at the sky as he says this before bidding her farewell and simply disappearing into the evening sky with ease, taking cover in the darkness.

Marinette watches with a warm smile on her face before turning to enter the bakery, murmuring under her breath to Tikki in a scolding when the Kwami teases her.

Completely unaware that Chat Noir watches from the windowsill of a building across the street, a smile tugging at his lips and a gentle look in his eyes as his fingers brush over the warm spot on his cheek.

This was so much fun to write. I enjoyed adding to this little fandom. I'm sure I've confused my usual readers, but it was worth it. I've got plans for a multi-chapter in the future. But it won't be out for a while. Just a warning.