Despite being a walking disaster, Marinette Dupain-Cheng had the affection of every boy in their school. In his class alone, Adrien could see how well she got along with the guys. It was no secret that Nathanaël had a massive crush on her. Max enjoyed the fact that she was into video games. Even the aloof Ivan and the cocky Kim were on good terms will her. Heck, even his best friend Nino was once unable to resist her charm.
Sweet Marinette—pretty, cute, friendly and fell enough times for anyone to want to swoop in to protect her. All the guys loved being on the receiving end of her bright and cheery smiles and she gladly sent them in their direction. That is, if you weren't Adrien Agreste.
Adrien could not, for the life of him, figure out why she always looked like a deer caught in headlights when she interacted with him. He was starting to feel isolated and left out of the group. He could feel his affections slowly growing for her but there was no sweet smile in return—only a look of nervousness and fear.
Adrien watched as she sassily bantered with Kim and Max and as she chatted with Nathanaël, the boy's face the shade of a tomato, matching his hair perfectly. She greeted Ivan and the often angry-looking student gave her a smile reserved just for her.
Nino had gotten over his crush on Marinette but that didn't mean that they weren't close. They had been friends for years. Adrien was not only envious of Nino for having Marinette's attention but also of Marinette who was better buds with all the guys than he could ever be.
So here they were, all enjoying themselves in the sun as the friends had taken a trip to a park for a celebratory end of year picnic. Marinette had thoughtfully organized the whole event and invited the whole student body. Everyone loved the idea and pitched in, making sure they had enough funds for transportation and catering. Miss Bustier was even kind enough to come as a chaperone with a few of her friends. Their last year at the collège was almost over and soon they'd be heading to a new school. Adrien had to admit that he was a little sad about it. He wondered if he'd be lucky enough to be in the same class as his friends again.
Adrien looked out towards the swimming pool under the shade of an umbrella and sighed. Everyone was in their swimsuit, enjoying their time in the pool but he was sitting on a lounge chair, in the shade, fully clothed in swimming shorts, t-shirt and a button-down because god forbid he get sunburn. His father would not be happy.
Her bubbly laughter caught his attention and his eyes automatically zoomed in on her. She had gotten out of the pool and was slightly bent over as she talked to Alya in the pool. She wore a scuba-style bikini, color-blocked pink and black with a high neck that was zippered down center. What the guys would give to see that zipper pulled down a little. He felt his face grow warm, berating himself for his ungentlemanly thoughts. And her hair—her normal pigtails were gone and her dark tresses were pull up into a high bun, loose tendrils cascading around her sun-kissed face.
Adrien blinked and turned to his right to see Nino sit in the lounge chair next to him. He sipped on a cup of lemonade and stared out at the pool before turning to Adrien.
"Get out there man. You need the sun." Nino said as he eyed the pale boy. "Just slap on a ton of sunscreen and you'll be fine!"
Adrien just sighed again. He didn't trust himself with having to reapply sunscreen once it wore out. It was likely that he'd jump out there, have a blast and totally forget to lather himself up again. Then he'd end up burnt and on the receiving end of his father's wrath. Staying in the shade was his best bet.
"You're staring." Nino said and Adrien suddenly straightened up, with a blush on his face. Nino's laugh followed. "Go chat her up, become best buds."
"You don't understand." Adrien sighed for the umpteenth time. "Every time I talk to her, she just freezes up and looks terrified. I'm starting to think that she hates me."
At his confession, Nino burst out in laughter. He knew that was hardly the case. Alya had told him about Marinette's gigantic crush on Adrien and despite wanting to just tell Adrien after seeing his friend's depressed state, Alya made him keep his mouth shut. He obeyed her of course—Alya was not a force to be reckoned with.
"Marinette? Hate? I don't think she has a single hateful bone in her body. If she does, it's fully reserved for Chloé." Nino held back a chortle. Chloé, who seemed to have a major vendetta against Marinette, refused to come to the event planned by the raven-haired girl, not that anyone really cared. Some nasty words were spoken by the blonde but Marinette just brushed her off with a roll of her eyes. Nino was proud of her. Marinette used to just deal with being Chloé's victim but had become more confident after meeting Alya. Now she easily stood her own against the mayor's daughter.
"Well... It certainly doesn't help that I'm childhood friends with Chloé." Adrien mumbled in his hand, after returning to his slumped over position with his head dropped in his palm.
"Whatever dude. I'm gonna head back in and you'd better be in there before everyone notices and throws you in, without sunscreen." Nino remarks and heads back over to the pool.
His verdant green eyes followed his friend's back and he was shocked when Nino approached Marinette and shoved her into the pool. He heard her sharp, startled cry and a splash followed.
"Nino!" She yelled, after surfacing and their surrounding classmates just laughed.
"That wasn't cool, Nino."
Adrien was surprised that the statement came from Kim. The tall boy approached Marinette from behind and placed his hands on her shoulders. Adrien wasn't sure how he felt about the contact, his stomach turning uncomfortably as Marinette didn't seem to mind and only turned slightly to give Kim a smile.
"Come on Marinette, I'll help you out." Kim said.
Adrien unconsciously narrowed his eyes and frowned when Kim dipped lower into the pool, wrapped his arms around Marinette's lower body and lifted her up. But instead of helping her like he said, he pulled her further into the pool.
"W-wait! Kim!" She cried, eyes wide as he laughed mischievously. "Kim!" Marinette shrieked as he lifted her higher and dunked her back in, backwards and head first, shouting 'German suplex!'
Adrien stared wide-eyed at the scene as everyone burst out into laughter and he couldn't suppress the small grin that was making its way onto his face. It was mean but he couldn't help being amused. Marinette surfaced, sputtering and heaving, furiously wiping the water away from her face. Her bun had come loose and Adrien found his face heating up as her hair clung to her skin.
"Sorry, Marinette. You okay?" Kim appeared by her again with a look of concern etched on his face. She nodded slightly, still rubbing her eyes. "Here, let me help you out." Kim said again and held her, but a grin replaced his mock concern. Adrien saw her wide eyes briefly before she yelped and was dunked once again.
Poor, innocent, naive Marinette. This time Adrien was a little less amused as she genuinely looked like she was in pain from the water rushing into her ears and nose.
"Kim!" She tried to shout and glare angrily but her pout only came out looking completely adorable.
Adrien felt his heart thump in his chest. He didn't know he could feel this way outside of being Chat Noir and being by his Lady's side. He wanted to turn his eyes away but he saw Nino approach Marinette, tapping her shoulder and then pointing at him. He immediately shot up when her eyes landed on him.
Nino was saying something to her and she nodded along, wide eyes still on him. He averted his eyes, face reddened from being pointed out. Damn that Nino. What the hell was he telling her? So absorbed in his embarrassment, he didn't notice the shadow that appeared.
"A-Adrien," Marinette stammered.
Adrien was startled and finally noticed the two dark shadows that her legs cast in his field of view. He looked up to see a glistening Marinette standing nervously in front of him. But aside from the nervousness, she held a look of concern deep in her sky-colored eyes—eyes so reminiscent of Ladybug, he thought.
He gulped as she stood, head slightly tilted to wring the water out of her hair. His eyes trailed over her face, her eyes shy and lips pressed in a thin line. Her hands were tangled in her raven locks and the thought of running his hands through her hair briefly crossed his mind. His face was set ablaze and he was sure that now he looked just as nervous as she did.
"Won't you join us?" She asked, surprisingly without a stutter and he watched her intently as she talked. "N-Nino told me you forgot your sunscreen. Y-you can use mine, if you'd like, t-that is." There it was, he inwardly laughed.
No, he was sure Marinette didn't hate him. She was much too nice to him to hate him. It was clear whenever she was displeased with someone, evident whenever she sassed with Chloé. It had reminded him of Ladybug whenever she stood up to the mayor's daughter. She didn't hate him, he knew, but she wasn't exactly comfortable around him and that's what bothered him. If he thought about it, she was definitely less skittish around him now, compared to when they first met (he grimaced, remembering their less than ideal meeting.) There were a few occasions where they seemed to get along amicably and Adrien got to really see and appreciate the real Marinette—but awkwardness aside, she was still always guarded with him. Adrien gave her a practiced smile, so she wouldn't think anything strange and shook his head.
"Thanks. But I didn't forget it. I just don't think I'd remember to reapply once I got out there and I don't want to think about what would happen if I got sunburned." He explained.
Marinette frowned deeply, clearly displeased with the fact that he couldn't have fun in fear of the sun. It didn't suit her at all, he thought. Marinette looked best with a smile.
"Well," She sat down next to him, in Nino's lounge chair and looked at the other students playing in the water. "I have a solution for that." She said and Adrien blinked at her. She turned to him and grinned, making his heart slam against his chest. The expression reminded him so much of his red-clad beauty that it made his mind swirl in confusion.
"I actually had actually gotten out to reapply when Nino shoved me back in." She said, her eyes softening and grin turning into a gentle smile. "I burn fairly easily so I have to put sunscreen on often. I'll remind you to reapply whenever I do."
"O-oh..." Real smooth Adrien. He heard her giggle before she got up and walked two chairs over to rummage in her bag. He couldn't stop himself from watching her hips sway as she walked. He forced his eyes away when they lingered on her bikini clad butt for longer than necessary.
Marinette pulled out her bottle of sunscreen and returned, holding it up happily. She returned to Nino's chair and flipped opened the cap of the bottle.
"So... Join us?" She asked, tilting her head cutely.
He didn't trust himself to talk and merely nodded. Her eyes grew wide and bright and a large smile made its way onto her face. He was awed. It was the cheery smile that he'd been jealous that everyone else received. It made his lips curl up and it was then that he understood why the male population became grinning fools around her. Her smile somehow made you feel special—like you mattered.
Agreeing to join her, he began to undress from the waist up and the smiling Marinette had become a blubbering fool once again. When he was done, he looked over to find her with her face buried in her hands.
"Marinette?" Adrien said her name questioningly.
"Huh?" She pulled her face up to meet his and suddenly they were in her hands again. He could see her red-tinged skin through her fingers and even the tips of her ears were colored. She dropped her hands and her eyes looked everywhere but at him.
Was she embarrassed? Adrien wondered mirthfully. She didn't seem to mind all the other half-naked boys in the pool. Then he suddenly felt mischievous, his Chat Noir personality seeping through as he spoke.
"Say, Marinette..." Adrien started and she turned to him, still bright red in the face. Her eyes though, avoided meeting his.
"Y-yes?" She squeaked.
"Do you mind helping put this sunscreen on? I can't get my back."
If it were possible, Marinette's face became even redder at the question. Her eyes finally met his and her lips quivered as she tried to get a response out. Her shy eyes flickered away again and he thanked his alter ego for helping him earn such a rewarding sight.
She nodded, knowing that if she spoke, it'd just come out in a high-pitched, unintelligible squeak. Adrien thanked her and handed her his bottle of sunscreen. She got up from her seat and sat behind him nervously.
Adrien immediately regretted his decision as he became acutely aware of how close she was to him. His whole body heated up when her hand gingerly touched his back, spreading the cream around. Why? Why did he put himself in this situation? He hadn't felt the heat of the summer day before but now his body was burning up. He hoped that she just assumed it was from the weather. Her hand ran along his shoulder blades, making sure to cover him thoroughly. She then proceeded to go lower and his body went rigid as her soft fingers glided down his spine. She concentrated on his lower back and her fingertips brushed the edge of his shorts.
Oh god, did they just go under his waistband a little?
He squeezed his eyes shut, willing the heat in his face to subside. She was silent the whole time and he wondered if she was feeling as embarrassed as he was. When she was finished, she removed her hand and despite his earlier protests, he wanted her to keep her hands on him. He was officially losing it.
"Thanks Marinette—" He turned to thank her only to find his face a few inches from hers. Before he could be surprised, she yelped and tumbled backwards off of the chair. There she was, the ever-falling Marinette. Adrien quickly stood and went to her side, helping her up. He noticed a scrape on her elbow and felt a pang of guilt.
"I'm sorry," He stared at the injury that was starting to bleed a little. "You got hurt because of me." He looked so devastated even though it was just a scrape and Marinette couldn't help but feel bad even though she was the one that was hurt.
"No!" She blurted out, forcing his eyes back up to hers and she grew increasingly timid. "I-I mean, it's n-not your fault. I'm just really clumsy." She rambled. "And it's not bad. Look, not even bleeding anymore."
Adrien couldn't help but smile at her sincerity. She was too nice for her own good. She removed herself from his grasp and returned to Nino's chair and began applying sunscreen to herself and he did the same for all the parts he could reach. Even though he was busy lotioning himself up, his eyes flitted over to her often, taking in the sight of her spreading sunscreen over her limbs.
Another reason why all the guys liked her—under that cute and adorable pig-tailed guise—
She was utterly ravishing.
Her arms and legs were nicely toned, as if she'd never missed a workout day in her life. He'd seen her running around a lot, due to her perpetual lateness and despite her frequent trips and falls, she was pretty athletic. If he remembered correctly, she was faring well in gym.
Her eyes fluttered up and caught his gaze and he inhaled sharply, caught in the act of ogling her. He quickly turned towards the pool.
"R-ready?" He stuttered and she blinked, baffled at his sudden strange behavior.
"Yeah, let's go." She said and stood up. He followed suit and they both walked towards the pool together. When Marinette entered, Alya waded over to her, shot her a sly look and nudged her with her elbow. Marinette merely blushed in response.
Adrien exhaled and sunk himself deep into the water, relishing the feeling of the cool water on his burning skin. He didn't know why he was letting Marinette get to him so much today. He peered at her. Maybe it was because her hair was different. Maybe it was because of the bikini. Maybe it was because her wet skin sparkled under the light of the sun. He quickly splashed the cold, chlorinated water on his face and shook his head, trying to go back to his relaxed state. He was pulled out of his calm when a large splash of water came his way, drenching his head and making his hair heavy.
Nino laughed, hand on stomach and pointing at Adrien. Adrien narrowed his eyes at his friend and a smirk made its way onto his face. He pulled himself up and splashed Nino back, the latter dodging and swimming away. Adrien quickly went after him but Nino just laughed as he went.
Marinette smiled, seeing that Adrien was finally enjoying himself. He really did deserve it, considering that he never had the freedom to enjoy himself as much as he should. Her thoughts were interrupted when Nino swam behind her and used her as a shield from Adrien.
"Nino—agh!" She scolded him but he had placed his hands on her shoulders and shoved her hard into an unsuspecting Adrien. She crashed right into him and pushed them both under the water.
Adrien's mind went blank when he felt her body pressed against his, with nothing but her thin swimsuit between them. He could feel her softness against his bare skin and blood rushed to his face at the closeness. His vision was blurred under water but he could see that she looked just as shocked as he felt. They both swam back up to the surface, faces flushed, cold water of the pool not helping them cool down at all.
Both Alya and Nino were laughing now. Marinette was visibly fuming as she stuck her arm out and pointed at them.
"Prepare to meet your doom!" Marinette announced and Alya and Nino quickly turned to escape. She was surprisingly fast in water but Alya and Nino enlisted the help of Kim and Alix to help them out.
"Eek!" Marinette shrieked as Kim launched a giant wave at her. Four on one didn't seem fair but Marinette hadn't complained at all. In fact, she looked like she was enjoying herself as did the others. He had to admit, he felt a little lonely just standing off to the side on his own.
"Adrien, back me up!" Marinette shouted over to him. He was surprised by the sudden request but then he felt his heart flutter and a big smile stretched onto his face.
She had accepted him. They all accepted him and he gladly joined in on their fun.
"Ah, I'm beat." Nino stretched. The four friends had gotten enough play in the pool and were completely famished. They changed out of their swimsuits and started heading back to the picnic area where the buffet was set up.
Adrien couldn't remember the last time he had so much fun (aside from his time with Ladybug of course). His eyes trailed over to Marinette. He had her to thank for that. Of course Nino and Alya as well but Marinette's acceptance made him feel like he finally belonged.
Marinette and Alya walked ahead and chatted happily while he and Nino hung back. He found his eyes looking down at her swaying hips again. This time, they were covered with a pair of cuffed denim shorts but they still had the same mesmerizing effect on him.
"Duuuude," Nino drawled.
Adrien felt the tips of his ears burn, knowing exactly what Nino's tone meant. He had been caught staring at Marinette's derrière and Nino wasn't going to let him live it down. Thinking of what to say in his defense, a shout grabbed all of their attention.
A volleyball was making its way directly towards Marinette's head and she stared bug-eyed at it. Adrien rushed in to try to deflect it but before he came close, Marinette had already lifted her arms and caught the speeding ball before it flattened her nose. Adrien sighed.
But his feeling of relief was short lived as the action set off a chain reaction of unfortunate events for Marinette. The force of the catch forced her back into the refreshments table and one of the coolers fell down onto the picnic bench, making it pop up and jut out, slapping her behind her legs. The unexpected hit made her knees buckle and she fell over, instinctively grasping for anything nearby to keep her up. Said thing was the lemonade cooler and it fell over, unscrewing in the process. She shrieked when the ice cold lemonade drenched her front side completely, making her loose baby pink tee cling to her body in an immodest transparency.
Marinette Dupain-Cheng had even worse luck than Chat Noir, if that was possible.
Marinette wrapped her arms around herself, fighting off her blush as her striped bra became visible through her soaked shirt. Adrien swiftly swooped in and put his white button-down over her body. Alya snapped at the responsible party, yelling at them for playing ball near the picnic area. While she continued lambasting them, Nino rounded over to Marinette's other side and he and Adrien helped her up. She stumbled and winced, turning her body and looking down at the back of her legs.
Adrien frowned deeply as he followed her eyes down to the bright red marks on the back of her legs. The rough, rotted wood of the bench had scraped her legs and the wound on her right leg look pretty bad as blood was seeping out and sliding down.
"Ugh!" Alya shook her head and walked back over to her friends. "Just sit here a bit. I'm going to find Miss Bustier." Alya said and stalked off, still miffed about the incident. Adrien and Nino helped Marinette over to another bench and they sat down. She held Adrien's shirt closer to her body and shivered, still feeling cold from the iced lemonade.
"How're your legs feeling?" Nino asked with concern. This probably had to be her worst accident yet—that he'd seen anyway.
"They sting a little but it's not too bad." Marinette smiled sheepishly. "I'm feeling more mortified than anything." She admitted. It was undoubtedly an embarrassing and graceless fall. Tack on the see-through shirt and she was feeling just swell. It was true that she was walking around in a swimsuit earlier and a bra wasn't really much different but the fact that it was something that wasn't supposed to be seen made her feel undignified. All the students in the vicinity had seen the undergarment. Adrien had seen it.
Alya returned shortly and gestured over to the group of ball-playing students. Miss Bustier stood before them, lecturing them sternly.
"She said there's a first aid kid on the bus. Let's get you patched up." Alya grinned.
"No, no. You guys stay here and eat. I know you're all starving. I can handle myself." Marinette said as she stood.
"You sure?" Alya's eyebrow quirked. She didn't want to leave her friend but she had to admit that she was dying for a sandwich at the moment.
"Yeah, I'm just getting some bandages. No need for all of us to go." Marinette laughed at the absurdity of all four of them going all the way out into the parking lot just to get some bandages for her. "Really, I'll be fine."
They just peered at her skeptically. The statement was a far cry from the truth. Marinette was the queen of clumsiness if the scrapes on her elbow and behind her legs were any indication. She'd probably come back with more dings and cuts than when she left.
"Uh," Adrien started, raising his hand slightly. "I'll take her. You guy can eat." He offered. A roguish look appeared in Alya's eyes as she looked toward her best friend. Marinette blushed from head to toe and she wanted to smack Alya for giving her such a suggestive look.
"Great!" Alya swung her arm around Nino's shoulders and grinned. She didn't even have to set anything up this time. "Thanks Adrien. I'll leave Queen Klutz to you." She chuckled much to Marinette's annoyance.
"Shall we go, My Lady?" Adrien bowed and held his hand out to Marinette. Alya and Nino just snickered at the play.
He paused, realizing what he just said. The line was distinctively Chat Noir and something he reserved for Ladybug. He quickly dismissed the thought. He was only saying it because Alya had called her queen. There was nothing else behind it. His eyes flickered towards Marinette to see her surprised look before amusement settled into her eyes.
"Why thank you, Sir Knight." Marinette took his hand and Alya blinked, surprised by Marinette's sudden lack of shyness. "We'll be back in a bit. Don't eat everything." Marinette grinned and released Adrien's hand to adjust his shirt around herself.
Marinette had to be lying when she said her legs weren't bad because they sure as hell looked terrible. The flesh on her left leg was starting to swell and bruise and her right leg had a giant patch of smeared blood on it.
"Sorry about this." Marinette apologized. His eyes looked up from her legs and he blinked. It still managed to surprise him when she spoke to him without stuttering. But her cheeks were still distinctively pink as she talked.
"It's no problem." He replied. "Are you sure your legs are okay?" His eyes went back down to her legs and he frowned. A melodious laughter rung out and he was sure that ladybugs were fluttering around in his stomach because that's all he could think about when he listened to Marinette laughing.
"I've been through worse." She replied. Of course she had. She was Ladybug after all. Not that he knew. "Sometimes I wonder how I managed to live this long." Marinette joked.
He stared at her profile. The way her eyes crinkled when she smiled was just like Ladybug's. He got the fluttery feeling in the pit of his stomach again and turned forward in haste. He reminded himself that Ladybug was Lady Luck. It couldn't be possible for so many misfortunes to fall upon her.
When they reached the bus, they found the doors open and entered without any reservations. Adrien found the first aid kit tucked under the first row seat and pulled it out. Marinette seated herself on the opposite side of him and sighed.
"I probably should have washed off first. Now I'm super sticky from the lemonade." Marinette discretely tugged the sticky t-shirt from her body. "I'm sorry, I ruined your shirt." She said, looking down at the several wet patches along the white cotton fabric.
"It's really not a big deal. Glad I could help." He really was. He was glad to finally have friends and the feeling he got from actually being helpful to them made him feel great. He treasured the bonds he had with them. Adrien handed her the kit and sat down. He noticed her discomfort as she wiggled around in her sticky clothes.
"If you want, you can change out of your shirt and just wear mine." Adrien suggested. Her face reddened and she stared at him wide-eyed and he suddenly grew nervous, wondering if what he just suggested was inappropriate. "U-um, I-I didn't mean anything strange by that. You just seemed uncomfortable so—" He rambled and Marinette couldn't hold back her laughter.
"Thanks Adrien," She breathed after her fit of laughter. "But I don't think that'll work out." She said as she pulled the shirt in front of her and pressed her hand against the inside of it. He could clearly see the flesh toned hand through the shirt.
"I see..." He murmured. He hoped she didn't think he suggested that knowing that the shirt was too white and thin to be of use to her.
"I'll ask Alya later if she has any spare clothes I can borrow."
Adrien bit his lip, wondering if his next suggestion would be too forward. He didn't want to scare her after she'd finally warmed up to him. He watched her open up the box and pulled out a bottle of antiseptic and some gauze pads.
"How about you change into my t-shirt then? I'll wear the white shirt."
Marinette blinked at him as he pointed to the shirt he was currently wearing, a plain olive colored tee. A nice shade of strawberry covered her features and she stumbled on her words.
"I-I couldn't do that. This shirt already has lemonade on it and it'd be uncomfortable for you to wear." She motioned to the wet patches on his white shirt. Adrien smiled and shook his head. A few patches was nothing. She was covered in a sticky mess and he'd rather deal with a few patches than let her sit in discomfort.
He pulled his t-shirt off and heard her squeak in embarrassment as she covered her face, much like she did earlier at the pool. It was endearing how embarrassed she became and he found that he liked teasing her. Was he becoming a sadist?
He stood up and handed her his shirt and she look it, being careful not to look up at his bare chest. Adrien bit back a laugh at how cute she was being.
"I'll wait outside while you change." He said and turned to leave when she grabbed his hand.
"W-wait, you don't have a shirt on." She stuttered. She didn't want him to have to stand outside half-naked. "I'll just change in the back of the bus."
Awkward was an understatement. He lowered his head, face ablaze, as he slouched in the front seat. His ears were keenly aware of the rustling of clothes at the back of the bus as she changed. He should have just waited outside. Even then, he wasn't sure if the images of Marinette changing wouldn't assault his mind.
He heard her footsteps coming back towards the front and he sat up. He saw his white shirt passed over his shoulder and he turned around to take it. But the image of her clad in his shirt made blood rush to his head and he quickly turned forward.
"Better?" He eked out as he put his shirt on and began buttoning up.
"Much. Thank you." She thanked him and returned to her previous seat. "Now to get this taken care of."
Adrien turned to her to see her grimacing as she carefully cleaned the smeared blood off of her leg with the alcohol soaked gauze. He was sure he had the same expression on his face. After she was done cleaning it, she grabbed a big piece of gauze and some tape. None of the bandages were big enough for the large cut. She turned her leg uncomfortably and twisted awkwardly, trying to make sure to position the gauze over the injury fully lest she wanted to end up crying later whilst trying to peel tape off of the wound.
"Do you need help?" He asked as she struggled to get the bandage onto the back of her leg properly.
"Yeah, thanks. This is harder than I thought." Marinette frowned. She handed him the gauze and stood up, turning around for him to place it on.
He knelt down to put the gauze on but noticed blood smeared around again from her movement. He reached into the first aid kit and pulled out some more gauze. He carefully wiped it, making sure not to irritate her broken skin before placing the clean gauze pad over the wound. Her leg trembled as he placed pressure on it and he apologized.
Marinette tore a piece of tape and handed it to him so that he could tape the gauze in place. Once he was done, he realized that his face was awfully close to her thighs. She smelled sweet and tangy, courtesy of the lemonade. He quickly back away and stood up when some rather indecent thoughts swirled in his mind.
"Thanks again." Marinette laughed sheepishly. "Ready to head back—"
Right as she finished asking, there was a deep rumble and the bus shook, knocking her back into her seat. Adrien gripped onto the seats to keep steady as he looked back towards the picnic area.
'An akuma!' The thought crossed both of their minds.
"Marinette, you stay here while I go check out what's going on. Don't go anywhere." Adrien said.
"O-okay. I'll stay right here." She stumbled on her words nervously. "Be careful!" She said and he rushed out of the bus.
Marinette looked down at her hip and Tikki poked her head out of Marinette's purse. They both nodded at each other.
Chat Noir arrived at the scene to see an akumatized student standing on a picnic table, volleyball in hand. She looked remarkably similar to one of the students responsible for the ball incident earlier. He face-palmed. Clearly Miss Bustier had dished out a punishment that was deemed unfair to the student.
Chat announced his arrival with a witty remark and was greeted with a volleyball rushing towards him. He scrambled out of the way and heard a loud crash as the ball made contact with the ground. He turned to see that the ball had made a mini crater.
'Whoa! Don't want to get hit with that!' He turned his attention back to the akuma to see a slight smirk on her face.
"The first-aid kit was on the bus, was it?" The villain grinned and immediately disappeared from her spot. Chat's heart pounded in his chest, realizing where the villain as going.
He whirled around and sped back to the bus, hoping to get there before the akuma. But his stomach dropped when he heard an explosion in the distance. His heart thudded loudly in his ears and he prayed that she was safe. He rushed through the trees and used his baton to make one final vault in the sky.
He felt his blood run cold. The bus that he was in just minutes ago was on its side, ripped into two and scraps of metal littered the surrounding area. Smoke rose from the destroyed vehicle and he stared with wide eyes.
She was in there. He told her to stay in there.
Swallowing the lump in his throat, he rushed forward unthinkingly.
"She's not in there!" A familiar voice shouted out, cutting off his cry for his classmate. An explosion set off next to him and pushed him back. He had a moment of clarity to see that Ladybug had saved him by deflecting the volleyball headed towards him into the ground a few feet away with her yoyo. The superheroine landed nimbly next to him and breathed a sigh of relief.
"Be careful, chaton." She scolded him, lips pressed together and brows knitted in worry. But he didn't have time to be concerned with Ladybug's lecture. His head whipped back over to the bus.
"I told her to run towards the lake." Ladybug offered and he turned back to her, frightened look still plastered on his face. Her eyes softened at his concern and she brought a hand up to pat his cheek gently. There was an odd scent of lemons that lingered in the air when Ladybug arrived and it calmed him, as he thought of Marinette. "Come on, we have an akuma to deal with."
Chat had no interest in messing around this time. He had to see for his own eyes that Marinette was safe. The two turned their attention to the akuma that peered down at them with animosity. She let out a snort and spoke, voice dripping with hatred.
"Are you here to save little miss klutz too?" There was a bitterness to her tone and Chat could not figure out why this student was so irritated with Marinette. She couldn't possibly be the one upset when Marinette was the victim here. "So now she has superheroes at her feet too? What a joke. She's a sham. Nothing more than an attention whore. Falling over her own feet just to get the boys to pay attention to her. Chat felt a fire burn within him as he listened to her speak ill of Marinette.
"And can you believe her? Hanging all over Adrien today—I figured I'd teach her a lesson but then one of my stupid classmates called out to her."
Chat couldn't quite name the feeling that was bubbling up inside of him. All he knew was that he wanted to claw the smug look off her face. His body trembled with unbridled anger but before he could do something that he would regret, Ladybug took his hand and squeezed it.
He looked over to her to see that she was angry, her blue eyes narrowed at the girl. But she kept calm. There were no reassuring words from her, explaining that she was saying those thing because of the akuma. Because they knew it wasn't true. It'd be folly to suggest that all wrong-doings were because of akuma. It was becoming clearer the more they continued the superhero business that some people were just terrible. The girl had wanted to hurt Marinette before she was possessed and purifying the akuma wouldn't change that.
"Her wristband." Ladybug whispered. She knew that the girl was part of a volleyball team and like Kim, she always wore a wristband to help soak up sweat. It was the only thing that remained after her transformation. "Distract her for me." Chat nodded but before he went off, there was another tug on his hand. "I know you're upset but don't do any rash." She added. There was something unreadable in her eyes as they bore into his. The ocean blue of her orbs squelched the blazing fury that he felt and he calmed down, giving her his trademark grin.
"I shan't disappoint you, My Lady." He winked and bowed.
Ladybug let out an exasperated sigh and rolled her eyes but the amusement on her face was unmistakable. They went their separate ways and commenced their plan to release the akuma. Ladybug swung up atop a tree and kept her eyes on the action. Chat was running along the ground, taunting the girl and nimbly avoiding the volleyballs that she served at him. She felt her heart stop when one of the blasts sent half of the bus flying at him. He quickly used cataclysm to destroy it and she sighed in relief. She called for her lucky charm and a baseball bat dropped from the sky into her hands. She raised an eyebrow at the sports equipment. Definitely the wrong sport.
She looked back down to see that Chat was now using his baton to return the balls back to the akuma. Like earlier, she was able to rebound the ball will her yoyo without it exploding until it hit the ground. An idea came to her head and she caught Chat's eye, waving the bat up for him to see. He seemed to understand what her plan was and smirked.
The akuma served another explosive ball towards Chat and he readied his baton. As it closed in, he hit the ball but it completely missed the enemy. She let out a laugh and ridiculed him for his terrible aim.
"Nice set!" She heard Ladybug's voice behind her and she swiftly turned around to see that Ladybug had leapt into the sky with bat in hand and swung swiftly, making direct contact with the ball, performing a makeshift spike towards the girl. The ball hit her square in the chest and sent her flying to the ground. Chat sprung towards her and ripped the wristband off of her arm, the purple butterfly emerging shortly thereafter.
Ladybug captured the akuma in her yoyo and cleansed it before tossing the bat up and returning everything to how it was. She peered at the brunette that was kneeling on the ground, confused and dazed. She didn't feel like offering any comforting words to her but she knew that she had to say something to her. She approached her and knelt down, placing a hand on her shoulder. A look of dread flittered past her face when she looked up to see Ladybug and she immediately felt remorse. She had only wanted to hurt Marinette a little, not kill her. Her hands trembled and Ladybug quietly told her to go back to the others.
Ladybug sighed and turned around towards Chat to find that he was gone. She whipped her head towards the lake to see him quickly vaulting through the sky, no doubt towards her civilian self. Her eyes widened and she cursed.
She had let her transformation go too hastily as she rushed like a maniac towards the lake before Chat Noir got there. She skidded on the ground, tripping and falling painfully. As if she didn't have enough battle scars for the day. She pulled herself off of her knees and rolled onto her butt. She pulled her knees up, examining them carefully. Great, she thought. Now she had injuries on the front and back of her legs. She sighed as she looked at her hands, bottom of her palms also scraped up.
Her back straightened when she saw Chat Noir land right in front of her. She looked up, letting out a nervous laugh.
"C-Chat Noir!" She played surprised.
Chat Noir let out a breath of relief and knelt down. His eyes rested on her bloody knees. It was clear that she received them after Ladybug's cleansing. Else her knees would be cured.
"U-um..." Marinette stammered. She didn't know what to say to him. He was clearly worried about her and the way his eyes peered at her and his lips were pressed together in a slight frown made her jittery. "I guess you and Ladybug managed to save the day huh?" She let out an awkward laugh and rubbed her neck apprehensively. He was still being silent.
Then his ring beeped.
"Chat Noir! Your ring!" She shouted and looked down to his ring. He was on his last minute. Despite her urgency, he didn't budge. "You should get going!" She pressed.
He didn't know why he wasn't moving. He was just glad that she was okay. His transformation was going to wear off soon but he couldn't find the strength in his limbs to escape. She could have died, he repeated to himself. Some part of him wanted her to know who he was, to blame him so that he could feel a little better.
The final beep sounded out and a distinct green light appeared.
Marinette shouted and scrambled to turn around, shutting her eyes tightly. Even with her eyes closed, she saw the light die down and was now certain that Chat Noir was behind her in civilian form.
"What were you thinking?" She squeaked, putting her hands over her face. Why was he being so careless with his identity? Not that she wasn't trustworthy but he didn't know that.
Marinette felt a weight on her back as Adrien circled his arms around her. He dropped his head on her shoulder, blonde hair tickling her face and held her close. Her face, she was sure, was a bright red at his close proximity. But she kept her eyes forward.
"I'm sorry." He finally spoke.
"Why are you apologizing, Chat?" She sighed, a gentle smile tugging at her lips. She raised a hand and ran her fingers through his hair. It was a comforting gesture and it made him hold her tighter. He knew she was right in thinking that Chat Noir had no reason to apologize. Chat Noir wasn't the one who left her in the bus. Chat Noir wasn't the one who watched her like a lovesick puppy and induced a jealous girl's wrath.
He was sure he'd lost his mind. He wasn't thinking clearly when he decided to de-transform. He wasn't thinking about what kind of burden he'd place on her. He wasn't thinking that knowing his identity would possibly put her in danger (although it was his civilian form that was partly responsible for her danger this time.) He was so concerned with apologizing to her as Adrien and easing his conscience that he did something stupid.
"I'm sorry." He apologize again. "Please don't turn around." He whispered and she could feel his warm breath on her skin, giving her goose bumps. Her shoulders shook as she tried to stifle her laughter.
"You release your transformation in front of me and now you don't want me to look? Are you feeling okay Chat?" She teased him. She was fairly certain that she knew what was going on his mind.
"I'm not." He mumbled. He knew that he was being suspicious and un-Chat-like and she was probably confused by what was going on but she simply went along with him. He appreciated it.
After a moment a silence, he released her and stared at her back. He wondered how she felt in the bus all alone, how she felt when Ladybug told her to run, knowing the akuma was after her.
"You don't have to worry about me Chat Noir." She said quietly. It was silly of him to feel guilty. It's not like he knew the akuma was targeting her.
"That's impossible, Princess." He said too seriously for her liking.
"Am I another one of your damsels in distress?" Marinette asked, a teasing lilt in her tone, hoping to lighten the mood.
"You're more than that." He answered honestly. At the moment, he was certain that Chat Noir had earned the title of creep. But her giggling seemed to tell him otherwise.
"Such a smooth talker." She teased. "We've only met a few times. Have you fallen for me already?"
"Maybe." He answered in amusement. Adrien's lips curled up into a smile at her flirting. It was unexpected. Marinette stayed silent and he was sure that he had rendered her speechless. No matter what she dished out, it was still easy to embarrass her.
"I wasn't thinking when I released my transformation." He mumbled, changing the subject. He had to apologize. "Sorry. I was being selfish. It would be a burden for you." Adrien watched her straighten up, head still facing forwards. He had just implied that he wanted her to know had it not been for the responsibility put on her.
"You'd trust me? With you identity?" She asked lightly with a hint of surprise.
"I would. I trust you as much as I trust Ladybug."
Adrien heard her sigh and her shoulders relaxed. He could see her stretching her legs straight as she dropped her head a little to look at them. She was being oddly silent and he was sure now that she thought Chat Noir was officially a creep. His eyes lingered on her when she raised her head back up and something barely audible passed her lips.
Marinette turned her head and gave him a gentle smile. He could only stare back at her in shock. She turned her body enough so that she could pull him into a hug. Her arms wrapped around his neck and he could still only stare forward in shock.
"Thank you for worrying about me. But I'm okay, really." She said soothingly as she absentmindedly combed her fingers through his hair.
"H-how did you...?" He swallowed the lump in his throat. He could feel her body shake as she giggled.
"Well, let's say you've bowed in front of me one too many times." She laughed. "Not to mention your reaction when you saw the bus." She supplied. She recalled the scene—he had looked absolutely terrified, thinking that she was still in there and the way her name desperately passed his lips—it made her shudder. She held him tighter. Adrien blinked. Had she still been there when he reached the bus? She couldn't have been close enough that she could see him and him not see her. The only ones there were him, Ladybug and the akuma.
"And who could mistake that mischievous little smirk of yours, mon chaton?" She let that last part drop to a whisper and he felt goose bumps all over his body. He let the scent of lemons overtake him before pulling back and holding her at arm's length, eyes darting around and examining her thoroughly.
"My Lady?" Green eyes gazed into her blue ones and it just clicked. For months, the idea floated in and out of his mind, but he refused to dwell on it. He thought that he was just trying to make things convenient for himself, to combine the two girls that held his affection into one. That and the fact that Marinette was nowhere close to being graceful like Ladybug. But in the end, Marinette was Ladybug. Marinette was his Lady.
"Now will you listen to me when I tell you that you don't have to worry about me?" She tilted her head, a small amused smile splayed on her lips.
"Never." He grinned, earning a pout from her. He let his eyes wander to her knees then back up to her face to see her frowning. He opened his mouth to say something but she cut him off.
"Don't even," She rolled her eyes and he could clearly see the Ladybug in her now. He just grinned at her irritation. "Ladybug may be lucky but that doesn't transfer over to me." Marinette said in annoyance.
"To be honest, that's the main reason why I figured you couldn't be Ladybug. Ladybug always seemed so graceful and you... well..." He trailed off with a nervous smile, finger scratching his cheek mindlessly.
"Oh, I see." Marinette huffed and pulled herself up off of the ground. "Sorry to disappoint you. I'm not the perfect Ladybug that you like so much." She stalked off back towards the bus so that she could treat her knees. But a hand on her wrist stopped her. She spun around only to find her face in his hand, his thumb stroking her cheek gently. She flushed as he gazed at her seriously, emerald eyes boring into hers. He stepped closer to her and wrapped his arms around her waist and rested his head on her shoulder.
"You're right. You're the perfect Ladybug that I love." He said. Marinette was sure her knees would have given out had he not had her in his embrace. "Brave, kind, sassy—" He pulled back and rested his forehead against hers. It took all her strength and willpower not to melt into a puddle before him as he drew closer to her. "Beautiful..." He whispered against her lips.
Her hands trembled as she placed them against his chest, gripping his shirt ever so slightly. Through his lidded eyes, he could see her eyes flutter close and he felt her lashes brush against his cheeks. Her lips were soft against his and he could taste the sweet lemonade over her skin. It was a chaste kiss, both of them filled with nerves. She pulled away first and averted her eyes, cheeks tinged pink.
"W-we should head back. I don't want to worry Alya and Nino." She breathed. Her hands were still on his chest as she tried to steady herself. Adrien felt something in his heart just burst as he watched the girl in front of him—admiration, adoration, affection. He wanted to pull her in for another kiss but what she said was true. They had to get back.
"We have to patch up those knees first." He grinned and she answered with a pout.
When they got back to the picnic area, Alya ran to Marinette and pulled her into a hug, sighing in relief. Pulling away, she examined the girl from head to toe and frowned at the newly bandage knees. Marinette laughed sheepishly, telling her friend that she tripped on a rock and fell.
"Girl..." Alya shook her head at her friend's clumsiness.
Nino went on to explain what had happened. Miss Bustier had asked to students to write a short paper reflecting on why it was inappropriate to play ball there as punishment. Then she asked them to apologize to Marinette once she came back. But the one girl who was the one who had hit the ball off course in the first place, refused. She complained that it wasn't her fault that Marinette was clumsy enough to make a mess of everything.
Alya had butted in, hearing the complaint and flipped out. Miss Bustier attempted to calm everyone down but the girl shoved Alya in irritation and that had earned her a call to her parents. Alya grunted in annoyance and shook her head.
"Girl, you should have heard her. She was clearly just jealous of you." Alya said, folding her arms across her chest. "She went on about how you were just pretending to be clumsy to get the boys' attention."
"Right. Because I love getting banged up and getting scars all over." Marinette rolled her eyes, hearing the inane accusation again.
Because of the akuma attack, the trip ended early and the kids all filed onto the bus. Marinette sat together with Alya as usual and Adrien with Nino. He sighed contentedly with a goofy grin on his face as he sat down and Nino smirked at him.
"Best day." Adrien said dreamily. He was still reeling over the fact that Ladybug had been sitting behind him all along. His sweet princess was his lady and that fact made him just want to soar through the sky and scream happily.
He was a little too happy, Nino thought. He knew his bud had fun today but not enough fun that he was sighing and grinning like a fool. That meant that something had happened during his alone time with Marinette. Nino nudged Adrien, waggling this eyebrows to try to get some answers. Adrien just smiled at Nino and said nothing more than that he had fun.
Alya on the other hand would not be satisfied with such an answer. She noticed how Marinette was wearing Adrien's shirt but made no mention of it until they were away from the boys. Marinette just blushed and said that he offered his shirt because her clothes were sticky, nothing more. Alya leaned in closer, eyeing Marinette skeptically.
"Hmm..." She hummed. "Are you sure nothing else went on in the bus, with just the two of you, alone, that required the removal of clothing?" Alya raised her brow suggestively and Marinette blushed a deep red, understanding completely what her friend meant.
"Alya!" She shouted as quietly as she could. Alya just backed away and laughed.
"Just saying. That would have been a good opportunity." She said in a sing-song voice and Marinette playfully slapped her arm. They were fifteen for goodness sake. What was going on through her perverted mind?
When they returned to the school, Adrien was surprised to see that Gorilla was already there, waiting. Miss Bustier must have contacted everyone's families. He was a little disappointed, hoping that he'd be able to hang out with Marinette longer. It was Friday so it was unlikely that he'd get to see her until Monday unless an akuma attacked and he saw her as Chat Noir. He blinked, an idea suddenly coming to his head and he grinned.
He said his goodbyes to Alya and Nino and then turned to Marinette. He walked up to her and leaned in close, whispering something in her ear before backing away and waving at them. He walked to the car in merriment and left the three friends there, confused.
"What was that?" Both Nino and Alya turned to Marinette excitedly but she was still frozen to the spot. "Earth to Marinette~" Alya cooed. The raven-haired girl finally pulled herself out of her stupor and blushed wildly.
"Ah, no, um, it was nothing!" Marinette squeaked. It was definitely not nothing. The looks that her friends gave her displayed their skepticism and she knew she had to escape before they tried to weasel it out of her. She gripped her bag tightly and backed away from the hounding couple. "I gotta go! See you Monday!" She said and dashed off.
'I'm going to see you tonight.'
Marinette brought a hand up to her burning face as she ran. He was unbelievable.