Author's Note: Hello and welcome to the third and final instalment in my Tendencies series. If you haven't read Obsession or Glaze yet, please do that, because there is plenty of backstory there which will be needed.
A few quick notes:
· The entirety of the Tendencies series is set, timeline wise, after the thirteenth episode aired, The Mime. Obsession was started in the hiatus that followed. All of my information is based on those thirteen episodes. That said, any 'leaked' information may come into play, but the akumas which appeared won't.
· I've based my spelling on the French episodes. Hence Chat Noir and Nathalie (but Hawk Moth, because reasons)
· I am Australian. I feel the need to warn people every time I post a story, because if I don't, someone will comment on my spelling. I use British-English (with American slang most of the time).
· It's a T. I will be heavily pushing that T limit. There will be discussions about sex. There will be teenage hormones. There will be no over the top descriptive interactions at this stage, so I do not feel it needs an M rating, however consider yourselves warned. If I decide to up the rating, I will give you plenty of warning if you're not comfortable with that sort of thing.
· Any information about the kwami and their purpose within this story are my creation. It has been derived from small clues within the show. I do not know if my thoughts align with the show. If they do, yay for me, if they don't, please remember this was written before the origin stories were aired, and even if it's aired during the time this story is being posted, the information we get then will not change the outcome of this story. It's all plotted already.
· Updates every 3-4 days. Please don't ask for more than that. There are three people who can ask me to post more than that. Do not bug them either.
Big fat warning: Angst. Teenage hormones. Adult discussions and possible situations (nothing descriptive). Plagg.
Spring arrived in Paris with as much fanfare as it could. Flowers pushed themselves through melted soil to greet an ever waiting sun as warmth flowed across the land. Days heated, insects woke, cats carolled. Crouching on the rooftops of Paris, Chat Noir followed the line of his partner's leg with his eyes until they settled at the join of her hips. Stars filled the night sky as they snatched a moment to patrol between his photo-shoots and her designs.
She cleared her throat. "My eyes are up here."
He kept them right where they were. "I'm well aware of that, my lady."
"And, it's not my fault you sauntered in front of me. Here I was, happily gazing out over the city and keeping a watch out for crime and bam." He clapped his hands together. "Ladybutt."
She laughed. "You shouldn't let a little rear distract you."
"I'm not distracted," he replied. "I am purr-fectly focussed."
"On my butt."
Grinning, he didn't move from his crouch. "Again, not my fault you presented it to me."
Ladybug rolled her eyes. "You're hopeless."
"Possibly," he replied, jovial. "It's certainly up for debate. Did I mention you look divine this evening?"
"Really?" she teased and tossed her head so she flirtatiously looked over her shoulder at him. "I hadn't thought you noticed more than my butt."
He sighed in delight. "It's a divine butt."
She turned, resting her elbows on the railing behind her and cocked her hip. "I have other divine squishy bits you could be looking at."
Since she was so conveniently puffing out her chest for him, he let his gaze wander up. "Just looking at?"
"Well, we are in uniform," Ladybug replied, with a seductively raised eyebrow. "There has to be some sense of professionalism."
"I can be professional."
"Sure you can."
"I was being professional," he reminded her. "Right up until the presented Ladybutt occurred."
"Not my fault if you decide to be cheeky. But then, that's something I can absolutely get behind."
Her eyebrows shot up. "You so did not make a butt pun."
He smirked. "I'm very good a cracking jokes."
"Chat!" she scolded.
"If you like," he said, flicking his eyes up to hers, then back down, "I can rack up—"
"You have been spending way too much time with Nino," she chided. "That's something I'd expect him to say. Not you."
Chat Noir cringed and fixed his eyes on hers. "Too much?"
She scrunched up her nose. "Little bit."
"I prefer charm over crass."
Chat Noir raised an eyebrow, then smirked. "Oh, you want me to charm you, do you? My lady needs a good wooing?" Lifting from his crouch, he prowled towards her on all fours, purring. "Do you even realise how much I love you?"
Ladybug's eyes grew wide.
Reaching her, he head-butted her knee, then smooched his way up her body. "You make me feel so lucky when you're around." With both hands, one on either side, he gripped the railing behind her to use as leverage and rubbed his chest up her stomach until he could kiss her neck. "I could stare at you forever and it still wouldn't be enough. You are purr-fection, my lady, and I'm a lucky kitten."
Hitched breath betrayed the stern gaze and showed him just how much that affected her. "What magazine did you get that out of?"
Nibbling on her jaw, he said, "Cool Cats Guide on how to seduce your Lovebug."
She snorted and curled her hand around his bell. "I see."
Pressing their hips together, he hovered his mouth over hers and asked, "Did it work?"
Giving his bell a shake, she pushed him away. "Catch me, and you'll find out," she said and threw her yo-yo.
With a Cheshire grin and a laugh, Chat Noir gave chase.
He almost had her at Champs-Elysées. His fingers scraped through her hair at Luxembourg Gardens. At Notre Dame she let his hand slide along her back before she darted away. At the Eiffel Tower, she caught him, tied him up to one of the beams with a cleverly placed yo-yo throw.
"You were too slow, kitty," she said, sauntering up to him.
"Enjoying the chase, my lady," he purred at her, watching her swishing hips and wishing his hands were free.
"Or enjoying the view." She reached out and gripped his bell and he felt the zipper beneath it pull.
"Perhaps a little bit of both." He pushed against the twine of her yo-yo, leaning his head towards her in invitation. His arms, bound above the elbow, could still reach her to pull her to him.
She let him kiss her, slow and easy, while his fingers flexed against her hips. Purr rumbling between them, he could tastes spring on her lips. Freshness of flowers and the lingering taste of sunlight. Fingers in his hair, hips against his, the sweet smell of her breath against his face. Her knee slithered between his legs and she nipped his lip, took it between her teeth, then tilted her head to push her mouth against his more. Their teeth clicked as she added spice and heat to the kiss and his heart picked up its steady pace, especially when the gentle sound of a zipper slid down his throat and chest and her hands slipped inside his suit.
She broke away from his mouth to follow the line of the zipper and Chat Noir barely managed to suppress a moan. He loved it when Ladybug was passionate. When she was coy. When she flirted and enjoyed herself. Marinette doing these things was delightful and addictive, but when they seeped through to her Ladybug side, when the duty got tangled up with affection and lust, Chat Noir lived for those moments.
It would be nice if he could hold her properly. Touch and play and let his claws dance over her suit to tease her as she teased him.
He squirmed. "Do you wanna let me out?"
"Nope," she told his sternum.
"No marks," he reminded her. He had the Agreste runway walk for Paris Fashion Week tomorrow night and as much as he enjoyed her love bites, it'd be embarrassing to strip for a dresser and not be able to hide it because make-up would stain the clothes.
Hooking her fingers into his belt, she stood while simultaneously brushing every part of her that she could below the belt. "You are no fun."
Closing his eyes, he cleared his throat. "As much as I love you like this, if you keep it up, there's going to be a quite obvious reaction and this is a skin tight suit."
She looked at him through her eyelashes while her fingers toyed with his belt. "And how do you know that's not what I'm aiming for?"
He blinked. Then blinked again. His body rippled with anticipation but his mind reeled. "Ahh…"
Ladybug blinked back at him and unhooked her fingers. "Aaaannd… that's probably going a little far on patrol."
Chat Noir pressed his lips together and nodded. "Hot though."
"Sorry," she said, flushing. "Spring fever?"
"I really—" he had to clear his throat again. "— really don't mind."
Recalling her yo-yo, she scratched his chin. "You're such a silly kitty. You can dish it out but the minute it's returned, you get all tongue-tied."
He stepped away from the beam to put a hand on her waist. "It was unexpected. I'll be ready next time."
"Glad to hear it," she said. Her eyes dropped to his open collar and she stretched out a finger to rub at his collar bone. "I may have…"
Chat Noir cringed. "You better not have."
"Sorry," she responded with a cringe of her own. "I forgot you had a runway. You don't normally do them."
"Over-protective father," he responded. "Lots of people all at once, all doing different things. And those things can be brutal, especially when models get catty with each other. He'd much rather I do photoshoots where I can be monitored. Me too, actually. Less pressure."
"Not to mention all the naked ladies."
He laughed at the expression on her face. "Bugaboo, some of them have less than fifteen seconds to dress for the next walk. No one has time to notice anything." He frowned and scrubbed a hand through his hair and to the back of his neck. "That reminds me, I need you to come back to my place tonight."
She arched an eyebrow and her lips curled up. "The mention of naked ladies and suddenly you're inviting me back to your place? Really, Monsieur Agreste, shame on you."
He laughed. "No. Not like that. I need you to take Plagg and my ring."
She stilled. "Oh."
"I can't wear it tomorrow; they make you take off anything personal. And it's my father's show, 'it's a gift from my mother' guilt trip won't work."
She nodded. "And you don't have time tomorrow to drop it off."
He shook his head.
Dramatic, she rested the back of her hand on her forehead. "Such is the life of a supermodel."
She took her bottom lip between her teeth and he wished they hadn't stopped kissing. "Are you sure that's a good idea? I mean, I could pick it up right before the walk. I don't like the idea of you being without your ring for so long."
"I don't like it either and personally, I think Plagg just wants a sleep over."
She giggled. "You mean an invited one, not one where he sneaks in in the dead of night and thinks I won't notice."
Chat Noir laughed. "Tikki is just as bad at the moment and not as fast at sneaking out at the end of the night."
"And they think we're the irresponsible ones." She sighed and reached up to brush her thumb across his face. "I'll take Plagg because otherwise he'll just get in your way tomorrow, but I'll come find you right before the show to take your ring, okay?"
He nodded, turning his head to kiss her fingers. "Alright. We can be cutesy about it and say it's for luck."
"It won't get you in trouble?"
He heaved in a sigh. "I'm the son of the brand name."
She was mock sympathetic. "Woe is you."
"You got your ticket, right?"
"Good. I'm actually looking forward to the after party this time since you'll be there."
Ladybug turned her head and looked out at the Paris night. "And I suppose you need to turn in soon. Get an early night sleep."
He chuckled. "I'm already 'scheduled' to be asleep." A week after New Year's Adrien's schedule increased, even more than it had the previous year. He was in demand. Photoshoots were scheduled in every free slot possible, even before he'd had a chance to fill it with his own plans. He was just lucky Nathalie pre-empted his father's sudden need to take up every scrap of Adrien's time and scheduled at least one afternoon a week to see Marinette. Or he'd never have time to even breathe.
She giggled and shook her head. "I'll be so glad when your schedule returns to normal next week. I've missed you."
Chat Noir kissed her temple. "I missed you too, Princess."
A quirky grin and Chat Noir launched from the Eiffel Tower. "I'll beat you this time!"
By the time the Agreste Fashion Walk arrived the following evening, Adrien was already exhausted. He'd been going all day. Salons in the morning, last minute fittings, practice walk, make-up and hair redone towards evening, he'd barely had time to eat. His eyes itched from the contacts and he was hungry.
Marinette's sneaky cookie when she arrived to take his ring wasn't enough to sustain him. As delicious as it was, he'd practically inhaled it when she'd offered it. "I wish I'd brought more," she said, studying him. Tikki and Plagg peeked out of Marinette's bag at him.
"You look tired," Tikki crooned.
"I'm fine," he said, smiling at her. Standing in the corner of the room backstage to the Agreste walk, Adrien licked his fingers. "You look gorgeous, by the way."
She beamed and twirled for him. A vintage style dress with a puffed skirt and a sweetheart neckline, Marinette had added her own flare to the design. "Thank you."
Careful not to lick his lips, both from the way she looked and the cookie crumbs, he asked, "Tell me I didn't smudge."
Her eyes flicked up from his throat to his lips. "No. You're fine. There's still thirty minutes before it starts. I can get home and back with more?"
He smiled. "No. We'll be getting ready for inspection soon. Thanks for the offer."
"It's mayhem back here," Marinette said, peeking over his shoulder.
"You should see it in about ten minutes, if you think this is bad." Lifting his hand, he slipped his ring off his finger and took hers, sliding it on her index. "Let's hope this doesn't go bad."
"I'll be within reach," she promised, clenching her hand around the ring. Glancing over his shoulder, she said, "There's a man glaring at you."
He felt quite naked and vulnerable without the ring resting on his finger, but he trusted Marinette with everything he was. "Probably my assigned dresser. Bald man with a moustache?"
"No, looks like a model. He's wearing an outfit similar to yours. But he doesn't fit it as well."
He didn't bother looking. It could be any one of them and it didn't matter to him. "Competition is fierce."
Eyes back on his throat, Marinette hummed.
With a thoughtful expression, Marinette said, "That would look better with the collar popped."
Raising his eyebrow, he asked, "Yeah?"
"It's… annoying that it's down, actually. By the set, it's supposed to be up."
Extending his neck, he stooped down. "Can you?"
Marinette's hands deftly fixed the collar, then spread her fingers over his shoulder. "Very handsome."
"Places everyone!" The backstage coordinator yelled.
He sighed and Marinette stroked her finger down his chest. "I'll see you after," she said, blew him a kiss, and disappeared out the door. "Good luck."
If backstage at the opening show if Paris Fashion Week Agreste wasn't mayhem moments ago, it was now. Designers dashed, assistants hurried, dressers made last minute alterations, models lined up single-file and Gabriel walked the line to inspect with Nathalie at his side with her style sheet ready. His father had been working towards this for half a year, he'd let nothing stop the show now.
Adrien, pinnacle of the obedient son, kept his eyes fixed on the bare shoulders of the model ahead of him, aware that his father was steadily approaching his position. He knew his job. Even though he only had five outfit changes and some of the higher end model's had upwards of twelve, it was still a stressful night. He hated the runway, all the quick changes and scrutiny from the other models, added with him being the son of the lead designer. Even after the runway was over, there were still lines to model, poses to take, photographers to wrangle with, parties to attend, people to smile at and pretend to be the dutiful son.
At least Marinette would be waiting.
With a sigh, Adrien shook out his shoulders and raised his chin. Do the walk. Get changed. Walk again. Rinse and repeat until everything was done. Get dressed. Join his father. Smile and play nice. Join Marinette. Eat something.
Just before Gabriel reached Adrien, Adrien's dresser noticed the upturned collar and, grey-faced, rushed over to fix it. Adrien kept his face blank. "Why did you change it?" the man asked.
Noticing the exchange, Gabriel fixed his gaze on the collar of Adrien's shirt. Able to read Gabriel's moods, Nathalie offered her style sheet so he could see what the outfit had been approved to look like.
"I'm sorry, Monsieur Agreste, the collar is wrong—"
Gabriel held up a hand to the dresser and addressed Adrien, "Marinette was here."
Adrien, seeing no need to hide it, replied, "Yes."
"It appears the style sheet may have been incorrect," Gabriel said told the dresser and fixed Adrien's collar so it was up again. "Thank Marinette for me." Moving on, Adrien heard Gabriel say, "Nathalie, make sure the style sheets are updated correctly next time."
Two pink spots appeared on her cheeks. "Yes, sir."
Eyes forward, Adrien smiled.
Over the course of the night, Adrien barely looked beyond himself. There just wasn't time. He had to be concerned with what he was doing, how he dressed, how he carried himself. If something happened to the model on his right or left, unless he could directly help, he stayed out of the way. His job was to show off the clothes, it was the dressers and coordinator's jobs to make sure everything ran smoothly.
At every walk, no matter how much preparation went into an event, there's always, always something which goes wrong. Shoes which don't fit or shared between models. Dresses that rip when putting them on or off. Underwear showing when it shouldn't. Hair tangled in zippers. New dressers that get too flustered or old ones which have a bad day. Overbearing designers. Prop fails. Models in pain from wrong shoe sizes. Falls. Make-up mishaps. Even with their good luck charm sitting in the audience and soaking up the bad luck, things still went wrong, but it's all about the cover. The presentation. No one in the audience needed to know things fell apart back stage, because the walk is all that matters. Eyes front, face carefully arranged, whole body working, lights and fashion brilliance.
Adrien wondered, as his dresser stitched him into his second last outfit for the night, whether his bad luck and lack of ring caused the tear. Rubbing his thumb against the skin where the ring usually sat made him feel better, as did being able to pick Marinette out of the crowd. It felt like a lot of little things were going wrong tonight, but he couldn't be sure.
Gabriel inspected each model before they walked. The man had an uncanny knack of being able to pick tiny imperfections just by looking, but Adrien had never been in a runway under anyone else's name, so really didn't have anything to compare it to.
"This is taking too long," his dresser muttered.
"Just do your best," Adrien said, trying to be supporting.
"I am," his dresser snapped. "There. That should hold. Don't do anything fancy."
Adrien nodded. "Thank you," he said and hurried back toward the line of waiting models. Flexing his fingers, he shuffled along after the models waiting ahead of him. He'd reached his father when the hairs on the back of his neck stood on end. Something tugged at him. A warning, but he couldn't be sure. It wasn't something he'd felt before. Glancing over his shoulder, he looked around, trying to find what he could sense.
Nothing seemed out of place.
Gabriel clicked his tongue in disgust at the makeshift alterations to what Adrien wore and Adrien gave him a 'couldn't be helped' face. Shaking his head, Gabriel tilted it toward the stage in permission.
Adrien moved past his father and put his foot on the first stair. Fixing his eyes ahead of him, he watched the model who'd just finished their walk descend on the opposite stair. A dresser hurried the model away and in the scant seconds he had to see it, he spotted the black and purple butterfly trapped in a glass jar in the dresser's hands.
Eyes blew wide and his mouth went dry. With a rapid blink he tilted sideways to see past the curtain and verify what he'd seen. He couldn't and the model ahead of him already moved across the stage. He had to follow. Had to make the walk and hope what he'd seen was just a prop.
He stepped on to the stage, his body on automatic and his mind elsewhere. If it wasn't a prop, did that mean Hawk Moth was here? One of the crowd? One of the models? A dresser or a helper? Who? Which person? Did they have a chance to catch him before he infected someone?
At the end of the runway, he went through his poses and deliberately looked to where he knew Marinette sat. He slid through a clawed pose on the way through to another one and hoped she'd get the signal. Anyone else watching wouldn't recognise it, but he was sure she would. He couldn't see her reaction to the pose, not with the bright lights trained on the stage.
It wouldn't have mattered, he found as he turned around to stalk off. Thick red ribbons burst from through both the side stage openings and raced into the crowd. People were plucked from their chairs and cocooned in ribbons. They split, diving for more and more people and the model on the catwalk ahead of him screamed as they took her too.
He couldn't see Marinette. She was lost among the crowd of people. But if he didn't want to be captured too, and therefore be useless to Ladybug, he had to hide. Adrien dove from the stage, tearing the makeshift stitches designed to hold his outfit together. Thinking quickly, he scrambled beneath the raised staged itself. The curtain of silver material designed to hide the crawlspace flapped behind close to conceal him.
Adrien wrinkled his nose at the woody, dusty smell which had accumulated beneath the stage, and then took deeper sniff. A hint of something fresh in the air. Wholesome and wonderful and—
"Hello, handsome boy," Ladybug cooed from further down the crawlspace beneath the stage. "Fancy meeting you here."
Plagg rested on her shoulder, seemingly in a stupor and Adrien pulled a face. Trust the kwami to try and get out of a battle by appealing to Ladybug. Turning, Adrien crawled towards her, weaving through the support struts. "Hello, my lady."
"Nice signal," she said, holding out his ring.
"Glad you could pick it up," he replied. "It was really odd; the akuma was in a jar."
Ladybug raised her eyebrows. "Really? That's weird."
"It's entirely possible he's here."
Ladybug swallowed and Plagg raised his head. Footsteps thudded along the catwalk above them and Ladybug and Adrien exchanged a glance.
Sliding his ring on his finger, he smiled. "Time to get to work."