Disclaimer: I am making clear now that I wrote this before watching the Miraculous Ladybug origin episodes. If anything contradicts from the origin or other episodes aired recently, it won't and shouldn't change much here but I'm just too excited to get this published to go back and make sure everything remains canonically sound. Future chapter should be up to date with things.

That being said, thanks so much for waiting! You guys have no idea what it means to writer to know their work is appreciated. Thanks KiannaCat for beta-reading! :D

Chapter 2

Marinette hugged the pillow to her chest, eyes wide and unblinking as they drifted in and out of focus, the beams of her ceiling just blurry shapes in the darkness of her bedroom. The hatch on her ceiling remained firmly shut, but a cool breeze drifted in from the propped open window by the desk, whistling as it rustled the fabric skirt of her gown where it hung on the mannequin in the corner. Her faraway thoughts barely registered the white noise, the movie theater of her mind replaying its feature film on constant repeat.

Marinette had been over the moon when she'd seen Gabriel Agreste's invitation on the news. It wasn't exactly how she had imagined attending an Agreste gala, but it was an opportunity nonetheless, and she latched onto it like a vice.

Chat Noir hadn't shared her enthusiasm, a strange loneliness creeping into his expression as he laughed, no doubt surprised himself at Gabriel's outreach. Can't have this misbehaving tail of mine breaking things, with my luck, he'd said, scratching the back of his head in that way that Ladybug somehow found incredibly sexy, despite Adrien's firm lodging within her heart. She was in love with Adrien, but it didn't mean she couldn't admire sexy when she saw it.

She'd spent countless hours bent over her worktable, sewing and gluing and stitching until she was happy with the end result. Marinette was firmly against going to the party in her glaringly red, spandex suit. It wasn't appropriate for the occasion. She imagined beautiful ball gowns and sharp tuxedos, and anything less than perfect would be inappropriate. Luckily, Tikki assured her that she was able to only partially transform with the mask, granting Marinette a couple extra hours of disguise since it required less energy, which meant there was only the dress. A dress that had to be worthy of Gabriel Agreste.

A dress Adrien would see her in.

Adrien. Oh god, Adrien.

Marinette squealed as his stupid blonde face appeared in the movie of her mind, clutching her pillow to her face to stifle the sound and not wake her slumbering kwami. She could feel her heart rate picking up just thinking about him, how sharp and refined he'd looked in that freaking' suit. Puberty had hit them both like a freight train, and god help Marinette if she ever found a more beautiful specimen than Adrien Hot Damn Agreste, made all the more handsome with his stunning disposition and bottomless pool of kindness.

Ladybug had seen Gabriel Freaking Agreste first, making eye contact with him within five minutes of passing safely through the entrance. He was curt, concise, and stern, but she detected also a mysterious aura that seemed to emanate from the man, an aura that she couldn't identify. He complimented her dress (Marinette had to remind herself how to stand after being praised by her idol) and politely excused himself, turning away and walking towards a familiar blonde head across the crowd. She'd debated for the longest time walking up and formally introducing herself to Adrien. She wasn't Marinette, she was Ladybug, Parisian superhero! She could talk to a guy!

Maybe not, Ladybug had sighed for the umpteenth time as she chickened out yet again, managing to duck out of sight just before Adrien had caught her. So somehow she'd ended up on the roof, shivering slightly at the unexpected chill of the night.

Marinette shifted in her bed to lay on her stomach and adjusted the pillow so she could still breathe. The blinking numbers on her nightstand informed her that it was almost two in the morning. It wasn't unusual for Marinette to stay up this late, but the knowledge that she had been lying stock still in her bed for two hours thinking about Adrien was enough to make her groan.

The movie was coming up to the climactic kiss scene. The designer buried her head deeper into the pillow, kicking her feet a little as she recalled turning at the unexpected noise of someone behind her, only to see Adrien Hella Handsome Agreste standing there. The way he'd looked at her, like she was made of solid gold and he was perfectly content to go blind staring at her. And then he'd kissed her.

It was a move she hadn't expected at all, turning to go back into the party and be social like she was supposed to, only to have his hand on her shoulder and his lips on her mouth, eyes half-shut seductively and nose rubbing against her own. There she was, kissing the love of her life, and she couldn't move to return the gesture.

He'd pulled away after a couple chaste seconds, his eyes squeezed shut as if he expected her to slap him for forcing himself on her. Well, she couldn't have Adrien thinking that she hated him. What better way to convey emotion than a heavy make-out session straight out of a cliché romance movie?

His lips, his shoulders, his back, she wanted to feel it all. Marinette could clearly recall, as she struggled not to melt into the mattress, that he had tasted like punch and the barest traces of mint, lips slightly chapped but far from unpleasant. Adrien Señor Sexy Agreste was a fantastic kisser. He was also a submissive type, Marinette had been surprised to discover when he had let Ladybug pin him against the railing, despite the undoubtedly uncomfortable iron bars.

Marinette's wiggling roused Tikki, the little kwami yawning loudly as she pushed herself into a more comfortable position in the tiny shoebox bed Marinette had made for her. "Marinette," Tikki slurred, blinking drowsily.

"Sorry, Tikki," Marinette sighed. "I just can't sleep."

"Thinking about Adrien?"

Tikki is the sharpest kwami ever, Marinette decided. (Considering she'd never met Chat Noir's…) The girl nodded as best she could, face-down in her pillow, and Tikki sighed knowingly. "What are you so worried about?"

Marinette turned her head to face the tiny red creature. "I don't know, Tikki… We kissed, and it was amazing."

"I'm sensing a 'but' here."

"But," Marinette conceded, her eyes downcast as she once again recalled the way Adrien had looked at her after their kiss, as they danced. There had been a glowing admiration in his expression as he smiled, eyes never wavering from her own. She'd never seen her classmate and friend look at anyone like that before. "But he was looking at Ladybug like that. He kissed Ladybug. He doesn't look at Marinette like that."

Tikki pursed her lips, used to Marinette talking about her alter ego as if Ladybug was an entirely different person. "But you're Ladybug," the kwami insisted, floating over to settle on the pillow near her girl's confused face. "If Adrien knew who you were, I think he'd look at Marinette the same exact way."

Marinette's eyes flicked up to meet her kwami, a warm feeling growing in her heart. "You think?"

"I know," Tikki amended.

It didn't do much to ease Marinette's inner turmoil, but she smiled for Tikki's sake, and rubbed the kwami's head affectionately. "Thanks, Tikki," she said.

In answer, the kwami snuggled in the warm curve of her chosen's neck, antennae tickling Marinette's chin. Marinette curled in closer around her kwami, grateful for the support, but still unable to tear her mind away from Adrien.

Through the next couple days at school, Marinette couldn't even look in Adrien's direction without turning a deep shade of crimson. He would greet her warmly on the front steps, and though she had gotten better at talking to him over the years, now she suddenly devolved back into a sputtering mess. She couldn't tell Alya the reason for her sudden nervousness around the model, despite her friend's endless stream of questions.

It finally got to the point that Adrien himself asked her what was wrong, if he had done anything to make her hate him. He'd cornered her in the back of the library that Wednesday during break, eyebrows knitted together and mouth slightly parted in a nervous frown as he awaited her answer. And that ripped at Marinette's insides. That expression didn't belong on his face. It was pain, hurt, rejection, fear that someone he trusted and considered a friend would suddenly avoid him altogether. What Marinette knew of his home life wasn't good, and she realized that her avoidance of him reflected the neglect he grew up with. She wanted to cry right there, wishing she could admit to him what he wanted to hear. I'm Ladybug.

"I'm just going through some stuff right now," Marinette told him. "It has -" Everything. "-nothing to do with you."

Adrien looked slightly relieved, but the nervousness was still there as he smiled. "I'm glad. I really like being friends with you, Marinette."

Friends. That was all she was to him, a treasured friend. Friends don't make out on secluded rooftops. Friends don't look at each other with warmth, love, and longing in their eyes as they dance in perfect sync across the floor. Friends keep secrets. Friends tell lies to protect themselves from getting hurt.

Those thoughts circled through her mind like a cyclone, jumbling up all her emotions into such a discombobulated mess that Marinette could barely think straight. And it was starting to show in Ladybug. Patrols the couple of nights following the party were clumsy and unfocused as she kept tripping, missing jumps, and being overall distracted. Her distress did not go unnoticed by her concerned partner, who finally voiced his concerns that same night.

"You sure you're okay?" he asked again for the maybe tenth time during their Thursday evening patrol, and she looked up at where he sat perched on a chimney high above her. His cat eyes glowed in the blackness of night, and Ladybug could swear those eyes could see through more than just the dark.

"I'm fine," she said again for definitely the tenth time. Chat didn't look convinced, but he knew when Ladybug needed her alone time.

"I think I'm going to turn in early," he said, standing and arching his back in a satisfying stretch. "But before I go…"

He hopped down and came to stand directly in front of his partner, a look on his face that Ladybug couldn't identify. Regret, maybe? What did Chat have to be regretful about? Ladybug inhaled deeply as he suddenly wrapped his arms around her shoulders and pulled her into a hug, pressing his cheek against her own in an affectionate but non-romantic way. Like a cat cuddling against your shoulder.

"You can talk to me about anything, you know," he said comfortingly, one clawed hand reaching up to gently stroke her hair.

Ladybug was used to Chat's affection. He showered her with it on a daily basis. But this was a completely different side of him that she wasn't used to. It was… pleasant. Comforting. His breath on her ear, ticklish but not unwelcome. A deep purr rumbled against his chest and thrummed through her body. The warmth, the closeness, the emotion Chat was putting into such a simple action as a hug… The feelings she had been trying to repress began to bubble and froth until the pressure behind her eyes finally released as the floodgates opened.

She gripped the back of his suit as she began to cry into his chest. Why was she crying? Why did she feel so confused? She should be happy, right? She'd kissed the love of her life, and he'd kissed her back. They danced together, all Cinderella-like, and then she'd disappeared without a trace, not even leaving a glass slipper behind for him to remember her by. So why…?

Chat didn't say anything, simply letting her sob into his chest, probably getting snot all over his costume. He stood there and held her while she cried, supportive and caring. He continued to purr and rubbed her back, the circular motions doing the trick as Ladybug finally began to calm down, hiccuping a few times before pulling away.

"I'm sorry."

"Don't be."

Ladybug ran her hand over her eyes to clear the last of the tears from their ducts and settled on the roof where they stood, dangling her legs over the edge and staring out over the Parisian skyline. With a jolt she realized that they were near the party venue, the view now almost the exact same as the other night when she and Adrien had-

Chat sat next to her, crossing one leg lazily over the other as he followed her gaze across the city. "Who do I need to go beat up for making My Lady cry?" he asked in all seriousness, gloved hands gripping the edge of the tile.

Ladybug shook her head. "It's not his fault."

Chat's leather ears flicked at the pronoun, standing sharp on his head as he whipped around to stare at her. "His?"

Ladybug nodded, drawing her knees to her chest. "It's no big deal."

"Obviously it is if you have to cry about it. What did he do? What's his name? When I get my claws on him-"

"Please, Chat," Ladybug mumbled into her knees. "It's just… I have a lot of conflicting thoughts and emotions and it's messing with my head."

"Penny for your thoughts?"

Ladybug looked over at her partner, ears still perched straight up on his golden hair, green eyes piercing but also calm as he tried to create an atmosphere for her to feel comfortable in, but also still stewing over the fact it was a boy who had been the cause of her breakdown. She almost smiled at the reminder of how much Chat Noir really cared about her.

Ladybug looked back out over the city. "It's just… remember the Agreste Gala I went to the other night?"

If it hadn't been so quiet, Ladybug might have missed Chat's sharp inhale. She glanced in his direction, letting out a tiny puff of a giggle as she took in the cat's swelled cheeks and wide eyes, looking like she'd just confessed her undying love for him. She wasn't sure what she had said that might elicit such a reaction, but she dismissed it.

"Y-yeah," Chat finally breathed. "Did you meet someone there?"

Ladybug nodded. "You could say that."

Chat waited for her to continue speaking. She tried not to swallow her tongue as she struggled with how to form the sentences she needed to appropriately explain the hellfire of a teenage girl's emotions.

"I'm just so confused," Ladybug began. "I… He… I mean, we…" She took a deep breath, checking once again to make sure that her partner was listening. Indeed he was, leaning in her direction with ears forward, eyes wide. He's way too into this.

"We kissed, okay? We kissed, and I don't know what to do."

Ladybug squeezed her eyes closed, waiting for the ramifications. She was aware of Chat's feelings toward other boys getting too friendly; a couple years ago he'd almost tackled a reporter who got a little too close for his comfort. His slightly overprotective nature towards her was cute, but she was also her own person and felt that sometimes his childish possessiveness was unnecessary.

So to say that she was surprised when Chat Noir didn't immediately break into a stream of caterwauling was a gross understatement. His expression was hidden, eyes unreadable and his lips drew into a thin line as if he was unsure how he was supposed to react to her confession. "What to… do?" he finally asked.

Ladybug nodded slowly. "I'm confused."

"You kissed."

Another nod.

"Did you like it?"

"Too much."

"And he liked it, too?"

Ladybug sucked on her bottom lip, a nervous habit she had picked up recently. "I think."

"So what's confusing? You like each other, right?"

Ladybug struggled to form an answer that would make sense to someone other than herself. "Because… it's complicated."

"If it's weighing on your mind, my Lady, you know you can talk to me about it."

"It's just that…" Ladybug wondered briefly if she should quit while she was ahead. She trusted Chat Noir, that was obvious, but she had never shared so much of her personal life with him before, and she was treading on thin ice. But… Chat was a guy, right? He should know how guys think.

"It was Adrien Agreste, Chat," she finally conceded. It wasn't like her partner would know who he was; even if Adrien's face was on billboards all over the city, anyone who wasn't into the fashion industry wouldn't really know him. Chat didn't strike her as the fashionable type, even if he did rock the black leather. "He's a famous model in the fashion world, the son of the guy whose party we were invited to." Ladybug was rambling now, talking animatedly as if the frantic movement would better illustrate what she was trying to say. "And I went to the party and ended up making out with Adrien on the roof and I totally didn't mean to but it was the heat of the moment, and I guess because I love him I just-"

Chat let out a noise like a strangled cat, doubling over as he devolved into a coughing fit. Ladybug trailed off, looking over at him in concern as he pounded his chest with a fist to get his lungs back in working order. "Sorry," he wheezed, and unless Ladybug was mistaken, his face was significantly redder. "I, uh… pigeons?"

Ladybug nodded. His allergy. It wouldn't be unusual for stray pigeon feathers to be lying around.

"So… ah, you… love... Adrien? This model guy?"

She nodded again. "I do. I can't explain it, Chat." An almost wistful expression crossed her face. "He's just so handsome, and kind, sweet, funny, and he's so smart and talented. He plays piano, speaks fluent Chinese, fences and plays basketball, all on top of keeping up stellar grades and his modeling." She ticked off Adrien's accomplishments on her fingers as if it would make him more real. "I don't know what to do, Chat. I love him… I really do, but…" The giddiness evaporated instantly, and Ladybug withdrew back into her huddled form. "He doesn't love me."

"What would give you that idea!?" Chat's voice betrayed undertones of urgency.

"Because," Ladybug continued tentatively, unsure of how Chat would take what was to come. While both of them had exchanged vague stories from their personal lives to let off steam (Chat usually complained about his part-time job, while Ladybug often ranted about something that had happened at school), she had never truly shared her insecurities about being Ladybug with him before. While she knew that the catsuit gave Chat Noir an outlet from his, as he described it, empty home life, Ladybug had hesitated to share her thoughts regarding the balance between her civilian and hero lives.

"Because all he knows is Ladybug," the polka-dotted heroine murmured, not trusting to look over and gauge Chat's reaction. "That's all he loves. He loves the idea of being in love with Ladybug, but he doesn't know me, y'know? The clumsy girl behind the mask, the girl who-" Ladybug stopped herself before she gave away something that might reveal her identity. "Anyway… I guess I'm just a bit insecure. What if I decide to tell him who I really am and he doesn't want me?"

The force with which Chat gripped her shoulders was unexpected. She let out a small gasp as her partner turned her to face him. His green eyes burned as they stared intensely into her own surprised blue ones. "That's impossible," Chat insisted with a sort of determination in his tone that left Ladybug reeling. "If you think he really loves you, then it won't matter if you're in costume or not. He'll love everything about you."

She felt tears well up behind her eyes again as Chat repeated the very same advice Tikki had given her. The firmness of Chat's voice and the positivity it presented made her incredibly grateful for his presence and unwavering support. Perhaps, if Adrien weren't here, she would have fallen for Chat Noir instead. He looked at her in ways Adrien never had, made it clear that he accepted everything about her and would protect her with everything he had. In all their years together, since Chat Noir had first appeared in Marinette's life, he had proven himself to be an irreplaceable person in her mind. What if she…?

"Maybe you should go talk to him again," Chat was suggesting, pulling Ladybug back to the rooftop. "Get to know him more. Get to know him, and let him get to know as much about you as you're comfortable." He grinned encouragingly. "Guys are stupid, and we don't know when a girl likes us. Who's to say it might not go somewhere?"

"Where's this advice coming from?" Ladybug questioned, finding enough strength to tease. "Never would have thought you'd be giving me advice on my boy troubles."

Chat cocked his head, his grin becoming more mischievous. "Who knows? Maybe I have an ulterior motive."

Seeing Chat acting like his usual flirty self lifted the cloud of anxiety that swirled around Ladybug's mind. She gently pushed him away, smiling brightly. "Thanks, Chat."

"Anytime, my Lady."

The remainder of patrol passed without a hitch. Ladybug made a point to avoid the dance venue, despite her reassurances that she was better. Thankfully, Chat didn't push her, even taking the lead as he took their route through an extensive detour, bypassing the location altogether. Ladybug wouldn't wonder until later how, or even if, he had known that that particular hotel had been the place where she had screwed everything up.

They split up soon after one in the morning, Chat once more reminding her to face her troubles head on rather than stewing unnecessarily over them ("Have you even seen an Asian drama?") before taking off for home.

Ladybug remained for at least an hour after Chat departed, staring wistfully in the direction of the Agreste mansion. Adrien would be asleep by now, probably after a long day of rehearsal; the official event to showcase Gabriel's newest lineup was well under way. Standing there alone in the darkness, Ladybug reached up and pressed her fingers against her lips, finding herself wishing to once again feel the sensation of Adrien's warmth pressed against her body.

Would it be too much to visit now? It was very late (early?) and Ladybug didn't want to rouse him from the sleep he very much deserved.

Or would he be awake like she was, running over their kiss in his mind and thinking about her? Did he lay in bed for hours, staring at the ceiling as he wondered what kind of person she truly was, under all the bravery and self-confidence? Could he even possibly fathom the notion that the very person he thought he loved sat directly behind him?

These questions that burned in Ladybug's mind finally prompted her to take a running start across the rooftops, vaulting over chimneys and flying over dark alleys as she approached the Agreste mansion. She had to know exactly how Adrien felt; about the kiss, about her. Chat was right; avoiding him, especially as Marinette, wouldn't do anything to fix her problem. Ladybug didn't run from a challenge. Ladybug body-slams her challenges and puts them in headlocks until she figures out how to defeat them.

Ladybug landed on a neighboring building, providing her a clear view of Adrien's home. The only light on at this late hour belonged to what Ladybug first assumed was a sort of lounge, with a television and couch, some arcade games and even a freaking skating ramp, with a bookshelf nestled onto the second floor. She was so taken with the brightness of the colors that she barely noticed the dark grey bed nestled in the corner. Bedroom, she corrected herself.

Wait. Was this Adrien's room?

Her questions were answered as said boy suddenly came into view, toweling his hair as if he had just gotten out of the shower. For what reason he would be awake and taking a shower at two thirty in the morning, Ladybug didn't ponder, for she was trying not to stare too much. She occupied her thoughts with other things as she waited for him to put on a shirt, like maybe how was she going to start talking to him, assuming she didn't melt first.

She could knock on the window, scare the living daylights out him.

She could open the window herself and waltz in, scare the living daylights out of him.

She could… scare the living daylights out him.

Ladybug slumped her shoulders, turning her face away from his windows. There was no clear way to initiate this inevitably awkward conversation. She didn't have any plans beyond "Hello," and almost gave up, mentally preparing to leave and wallow in her uncertainties until morning, when a voice pierced the night air.

"Hello?"

Ladybug looked up in surprise, stunned to see Adrien leaning halfway through his window (fortunately, or unfortunately, now fully clothed), peering through squinted eyes in her general direction. Ladybug swallowed. He'd seen her, or glimpsed her. He knew she was there. Ladybug heaved a breath to calm her shaking limbs. The hard part was over now. Now she just had to not screw this up. She could do this. He didn't know who she was; she could play the role of a confident superhero. Fake it 'till you make it, right?

Before she could lose her nerve, Ladybug lurched to her feet and took a running jump. Years of practice had ingrained in her the instinctual energy necessary to carry her across the wide gap, and timing it so that she landed directly beside the blonde boy. With one hand gripping the window sill so as to keep her balance, she planted her feet against the clear glass and let her free hand perch on her hip in what Ladybug hoped was a cool superhero pose. "Hi there, hot stuff."

Yes, good. This was a good start.

Evidently, her opening line was right on the money. Adrien, who had turned with a jolt when she had landed on the window next to him, was currently biting his lip as he stared at her with those freaking green eyes of his in an apparent attempt to stop the flow of blood rushing to his cheeks. It didn't work. His hair was still slightly damp, clinging to his forehead and glinting with remnants of shower water whenever he shifted. That image, coupled with absolute star struck expression on his face, was absolute gold. Ladybug wished she could freeze that expression on his face long enough for her to grab a camera.

"L-Ladybug?" he managed, recovering enough from his mental freak out to compose himself. "What are -"

"Got a minute?" Ladybug asked, smiling pleasantly.

"Huh? Oh, uh, yeah."

Adrien stepped backward, allowing her enough room to maneuver gracefully through the window. His bedroom was much larger than what it had seemed from the rooftop across the road, and she quietly observed the surroundings while he shut the window. It was like any teenage boy's room, even if it was a well-off teenage boy; posters on the wall, basketball hoop, gaming consoles. But despite the expensive equipment, there was still an air of modesty about the place, like Adrien was almost embarrassed to have so many things.

"Um, Ladybug?"

The heroine clasped her hands behind her back, fiddling with her fingers so he couldn't see how nervous she was. She turned to face him, a genuine smile on her features. She could feel the nerves pumping adrenaline into her veins, the pent-up energy thrumming through her limbs as she was faced with the boy with whom she'd shared an intense kiss. "Hm?"

"I… wasn't expecting you."

"I wasn't expecting to come."

Adrien shuffled nervously, one hand scratching the back of his head in an achingly familiar gesture that Ladybug couldn't quite place. It was obvious what he was thinking about, and Ladybug's face grew considerably warmer at the memory, of his hands on her hips and his mouth on... She quickly snapped back to the present. She wasn't about to let her mind wander when she was a bug on a mission.

"Listen, Mr. Ag-"

"Adrien."

"Sorry?"

"Just Adrien."

"Listen, Adrien," Ladybug amended, stepping forward with a purpose. Now that she didn't have on her heels, she was a good several inches shorter than his broad-shouldered frame, and she had to crane her neck to look him in the eye. Her hands subconsciously weaved her yo-yo string between her fingers, needing something to do with the excess energy. "About the party, I-"

"I'm sorry," Adrien blurted out, hands gesticulating wildly in front of him like he didn't know what to do with himself. "I know I probably shouldn't have done that, it was inappropriate, and I wanted to talk about it earlier but then I didn't get to and I just really, really admire you, Ladybug, and I-"

Ladybug listened to him ramble, only half-hearing what he was saying. This expression was too similar to the one he had given Marinette when he thought she'd been avoiding him (which technically she had been, but that's beside the point). Knitted eyebrows, pained expression, tense shoulders. It didn't match what he was trying to say. It was some kind of convoluted confession, Ladybug supposed, the way he began going on about how much he admired her and appreciated her. Hearing Adrien spout off why he liked her-Ladybug-warmed her heart but did little to remind her that the famous superhero was the only side of her he knew. And yet...

Adrien was still talking, nervously avoiding looking at her as his hands alternatively waved wildly and scratched the back of his neck. The gestures were all so... Adrien. So… enthralling. Like it was some kind of pull in her gut, a fishing line caught in her heart and with every wave of his hand or awkward grin he was reeling her in, and no matter how much she wriggled, there was no escape.

Ladybug closed the distance before she could stop herself. She placed her hands on his shoulders for balance as she rolled up on her toes to press her lips quickly to his, effectively shutting him up.

Adrien was frozen, whatever he was going to say dying on his tongue. Through her eyelashes, Ladybug could see him staring wide-eyed down at her as his cheeks turned a bright shade of red. This wasn't what she had in mind coming here tonight. She had simply come to talk, to figure out what that night had been, what it had meant for both of them. But looking at her long time crush, directly in front of her, talking and talking and just not kissing her… She wouldn't stand for that.

Adrien's surprise was short-lived. He quickly regained his bearings and kissed back with an incredible force Ladybug wasn't anticipating, opening her eyes wide when his arms suddenly wrapped around her shoulders, fingers massaging her scalp as he moved his mouth against her own. She melted against his touch, completely closing her eyes and letting herself be swept away into the land of milk and honey.

Adrien sighed happily, and she took the opportunity to press her tongue against his bottom lip. He accepted the invitation without fuss, allowing her to pry his jaw open and taste the minty fresh toothpaste that still lingered on his breath. This kiss was less frantic than their first on the roof, but somehow that just made it all the more passionate. The slow caresses, the careful strokes, the turning of heads for deeper kisses. The way he ducked his head to match her shorter height. It was invigorating, satisfying, and utterly blissful.

Somehow, Ladybug had moved forward, guiding Adrien backwards until his knees hit the couch. He sank into the white cushions, his hands moving to cup her face as Ladybug followed, shivering as the cold metal of a ring poked at her cheek. Her hand moved from its spot on his shoulder to flatten below him as she gently guided him downwards, not once breaking the hurried stroking of her lips against his, while the other busied itself with examining the planes of his chest through his thin T-shirt. Their legs twisted and entwined in an effort to align their bodies comfortably, Adrien's bare toes tracing the line of her shin.

Adrien's back against the couch seats, her somehow straddling him. Funny, how a simple kiss can turn into making out so quickly. His hand on her back, pulling her closer to him, the other around her shoulders as if afraid she would float away. The way he held her, so tenderly, gently, a way that contradicted the furious way he attacked her mouth with heated breaths stolen by aching lungs before once again diving back in for more.

Ladybug's chest pressed against his. She could feel the erratic beating of his heart beneath the hand that had discovered the hem of his shirt, slipping beneath the rumpled cloth in favor of slowly tracing the fine lines of his torso. He hummed into her mouth, skillfully taking her bottom lip between his teeth, and she had to stop herself from moaning aloud.

She broke away from his lips and moved down his jaw, smiling at the almost cat-like noises that escaped him as she kissed her way towards his neck. She found a particularly warm spot just below his ear, and he angled his chin to grant her better access with a groan. She licked at the patch of skin, pleased at the shudder that ran down the length of his body.

"Ladybug…"

His breathy whisper jerked her out of her lust-crazed stupor. In her trance, she had forgotten that she wasn't Marinette. Adrien wasn't kissing Marinette. He was kissing Ladybug. Ladybug, whom he would never truly know, no matter how much she wished she could let him in.

Ladybug jerked back, practically flying off the couch as she retreated to the window, hands covering her mouth as she tried to quell her pounding heart. She could hear Adrien shift on the cushions as he sat up, the rustle of his pajama pants as he stood and took a few steps towards her. She watched his reflection in the clear glass, slightly warped by the dark shapes beyond, as he came to stand a few feet behind her. His expression was distorted but still clearly identifiable as confused hurt.

"Ladybug?"

She shook her head, pigtails flying wildly. "I shouldn't have come here."

"Wait, Lady-"

She fumbled with the latch on Adrien's windowsill, her shaking fingers unwilling to cooperate. It could have been minutes or hours, Ladybug couldn't say, before she finally managed to unlock the window, jumping up to crouch on the pane, reaching automatically for her yo-yo. She didn't dare look behind her, at Adrien whom she knew still stood there, watching her every move. Don't look, don't look, don't look. If she did, she wouldn't want to leave, and Ladybug didn't know how much more of this heartbreak she could take.

Just as Ladybug was about to swing away, she felt a gentle hand wrap around her wrist, holding her in place. "Please, wait."

Don't look, don't look, don't look… Ladybug chanted, squeezing her eyes closed as if it would somehow make Adrien vanish. It didn't.

"I'm sorry if I hurt you," Adrien was saying, seeming content when she didn't immediately pull from his grasp. "But I really like you, Ladybug. If we've moved too fast, that's okay. It's just…" his voice faltered. "I haven't ever wanted to kiss anyone so much before. If it's okay with you, maybe we can... start over? Be friends?"

Don't look, don't look, don't look.

"I'd… like that," Ladybug heard herself saying, and she could feel Adrien's relief wash over her like a tidal wave.

"Great! That's, uh, great! So… um… see you tomorrow?"

Ladybug pulled her hand away from his, shivering involuntarily as his fingers traced the inside of her palm, like a silent plea, before falling away. She wanted to turn, to take in Adrien's perfect face, that almost childlike grin framed by kiss-bruised lips. She wanted to jump from the windowsill and continue to kiss him senseless. She wanted bury herself in his arms, inhale his scent and fall asleep against his chest. But Ladybug didn't do any of those things.

Instead, she locked her gaze on a nearby chimney, perfect for swinging. "See you tomorrow." She said, and added, almost as an afterthought, "Hot stuff."

She threw her yo-yo and swung away before Adrien had the chance to respond.

.o0o.

6100~ words! Phew! Can't guarantee every chapter will be this long, but... hm. Stay tuned for part 3!