Adrien Agreste was not a sociable kitty.
The researchers tried everything. They forced him into a room with other CDIPs, or Cat-DNA-Infused-Persons, and he ignored every friendly meow. They pushed him to mate with a particularly attractive feline named Chloe Bourgeois, and the result was a deep scratch marring Chloe's formerly pretty face. They threw him into a cat's paradise, filled with endless balls of yarn and toys beyond imagination, and were baffled when he refused to play with anything that touched a researcher's hands.
Things were getting dire. Adrien was reaching the end of his critical period of socialization. He turned his cat-eared head away from all beings, whether human or kitty. At this rate, Adrien would display nasty behavior to any organism for as long as he lived. The researchers began to sweat severely; their boss would be the opposite of pleased with a failed subject, especially this far into the experiment. If worst came to worst, they would have to euthanize the cat-human, which would be a waste of the CDIP's excellent gene pool and the millions of dollars put into the hybrid's painstaking care.
As a last-ditch effort, the researchers introduced every type of animal-human they possibly could to Adrien, hoping for some form of interaction. All they received for their hundreds of manipulated meetings were hostile hisses and multiple swear words directed toward the one-way observation glass. Scientist Caline Bustier, head of Adrien's troublesome case, groaned into her hands. Her boss threatened to fire her tonight if she couldn't solve the kitty's issue with friends, and judging by the previous researchers of Adrien departing left and right, her boss wouldn't hesitate for a second to do so.
"Bring in LBIP Subject 912015," Bustier tiredly muttered. Maybe she'd grab a coffee on the way home after she inevitably lost her job.
Quickly, a burly gorilla-human shoved a dainty slip of a girl into the observation room. The antennae above her pigtails twitched painfully as she clumsily landed on her butt. Looking around frantically, the girl seemed to skitter about while trying to find an exit, and finding none, she pleaded desperately in front of the locked door she entered from before.
"Wait, please! You have to let me out!" the blue-haired girl begged, while she pounded at the door with her tiny fists. Caline Bustier's eyebrows rose. This was a first.
Usually, the subjects in the facility were almost completely compliant with the researchers' demands. The conditions in which the animal-humans were raised were ideal for their species. Moreover, they've heard of the few punishments inflicted upon resistant animal-humans, and anybody's willpower would be crushed at seeing their fellow animal-humans disciplined in their animal-specific ways. Of course, the subjects were never killed through these punishments, but they were unpleasant enough to be avoided by the animal-humans at all times. Dog-humans would be given cones of shame, cat-humans would be left out in the rain, affectionate animal-humans would be isolated, etc. Thus, the subjects generally did what they were directed and went where they needed to go.
Researcher Bustier grimaced and made a small note on her chart. It looked as if Subject 912015, a Marinette Dupain-Cheng, required a night in the cold to stay in line. Caline sighed sadly. She hated punishing the animal-humans, but it was part of her job description. Actually, the way things were going, it was going to be part of her previous job description. Realizing this fact, Bustier paused for a moment. Then, she crossed out the punishment entirely. If she was going to be fired anyways, might as well save the young ladybug from a horrifying experience. A small sniffling soon jolted Mme. Bustier out of her thoughts.
Marinette's pretty bluebell eyes were filled with tears, and she continued to pound at the door for all she was worth. "Please! He'll… he'll eat a bug like me! The others are all terrified of the Ch… Chat Noir! Th… those scratches! Please! Let me go!"
Caline shut her eyes in grief. Poor Marinette. However, she couldn't save the ladybug from this encounter. Adrien's case had been a constant source of frustration for her employer, and any deviation from experimentation would mean more than a firing. Crossing out punishment was one thing, but skipping a whole meeting? Marinette would be euthanized, and Caline herself would disappear without a trace.
No doubt, the prospect of meeting Adrien was a fearful thing to most animal-humans. Most subjects trembled in fear in the corner of the room to avoid punishment for resistance. The last hundred or so subjects were all psychologically scarred somehow, experiencing varying degrees of post-traumatic stress disorder. Adrien, coined "Chat Noir" by his victims, crept under the skin of all of the previous subjects, putting them into such a panic that the researchers had to cut every meeting short. The interior of the observation room was filled with feral nail marks imbedded into the stone. Yet, Adrien rarely laid a claw on the animal-humans he met, with the exception of a small scratch on each victim's cheek, scarring the subject for life. No wonder Marinette was so afraid. She was to be another sacrifice in this socialization investigation that Bustier's boss insisted on.
Righting her gaze away from the crying ladybug, Caline reluctantly stated, "Bring in CDIP Subject 10192015." God, with this lingering guilt, maybe she was better off fired.
Gorilla-man firmly jammed the door shut after flinging the cat inside. Marinette's delicate wings came out as a reaction to being forcefully pushed back by the abrupt opening and closing of the entryway. Five different security measures activated to ensure neither subject's escape.
For a beautiful, peaceful moment, all was silent. Then, the deafening yowling and hissing began. Adrien wouldn't even look at Marinette as he clawed away at every single possible surface of the room, ruining and destroying everything he could get his hands on. Bustier winced; she could never get used to the destructive storm of Adrien's initial anger. The decorative stone table was practically a scratching post. After hundreds of similar tantrums, the stone chairs were almost smashed to bits. Another deadly paw attempted to break the one-way glass. Bustier flinched. Slowly, the researcher willed her eyes to open and observe Marinette. Surely, the girl would be just as terrified as the rest. Bustier needed to get the data for the poor ladybug, lest her boss make Marinette encounter Adrien again simply due to Bustier's lack of records. Caline needed to be strong, at the very least, for the frightened girl.
Caline gasped. The ladybug-human… Marinette… was watching Chat Noir in… in fascination! The girl's tears had suddenly stopped. Dear god, Marinette! Didn't she realize how much danger she was in? She could die at any minute! Bustier clutched a hand to the glass. Unknowingly, Caline didn't realize how much of her heart had swayed in Marinette's favor from just minutes of observation. And she certainly didn't expect what was coming next.
Call it the insanity of a near-death experience, but Marinette couldn't help being drawn to the destructive cat like a bee to honey. Her sapphire orbs seemed to follow his raging path of carnage, and she couldn't avert her eyes away. His hair seemed to be created from threads of pure light crafted from the heavens. His fierce, green eyes reminded her of the welcoming flora of her home, the ladybug habitat's magnificent emerald expanse. And his body moved and wove seamlessly through the air like the needle she had wanted for years. He was her angel of destruction, overwhelming Marinette with feelings unfamiliar and strange. Like hearing a clap of thunder or emerging from suffocating waters, Marinette felt more alive than she had ever before, yet she knew she had lost somehow. With the cat that would soon kill her, she had fallen in love at first sight.
When Adrien paused in his whirl of wreckage to glare at the glass, Marinette, by a stroke of sheer stupidity (or bravery), listlessly crawled toward the boy and… caressed his face.
Bustier let out a high-pitched scream. OhMyGodOhMyGodOhMyGod! Marinette, sweet and naive Marinette, was about to die one of the most painful deaths of all time, at the claws of Chat Noir! How could she have done this? Why did she do this? She should have just quit as soon as Marinette was taken into this damned observation room!
Adrien, furious at this rude interruption of his display of destruction, turned to do more than a kitten's scratch on his newest victim, oh so much more, when he came face to face with the most breathtaking pair of cerulean skies he had ever seen in his life. He wanted to fly into them forever, indulge in the sense of freedom he had most desired, found laughably in the girl - no, no, no, no, the picture of innocence, his angel - he was ignoring all this time. He too, then, in that instant, fell for a heavenly existence. Her clear, pale skin reminded him of the milk he preciously lapped at as a kitten, giving the feeling of warmth, of home. Always giving, never taking. The rivulets of blue running down her adorable head brought to mind his reflection in crystal water, the pride he developed as a boy for being reflected in life itself, the image of vivacity. And the soft outstretched hand touching him lit a fire craving the affection that he was so deprived of, and that he desperately needed. He roared, the sound of anything and everything being discovered at once building in his chest. For once, for once, Adrien finally felt free.
Marinette faltered. Had her touch upset him so much that he had to growl ferociously in her direction? As if scalded, she pulled her hand back and scrambled toward the nearest wall. She didn't mean to. She didn't mean to agitate him even further. All she wanted to do was comfort him. Because in the midst of his annihilation, she and only she, of all the victims, could see a sort of loneliness. She shrank within herself, thinking of how she always managed to do things wrong, especially when she wanted to make a good first impression. She curled into a ball, finally trembling in what seemed to be fear.
No! She was running away from him. She was scared of him! Adrien wanted to murder himself. She wasn't getting away. She was never getting away from him. Ever! He pounced.
His lethal paws dug into the wall around the girl, and Marinette, shocked, looked up and drew in a startled breath. He was so close. He was panting, gazing at her hungrily as if she were prey. In acceptance, she gently closed her eyes. If she was going to die, at least she knew it was to Chat Noir, the cat she loved.
Never in her career was Caline Bustier so panicked as she was now. Adrien was never this bloodthirsty with any other subject! Never! Hurriedly, she fled the observation deck and pulled the emergency lever outside the room. Security would be here at any moment to detain the cat and yank the ladybug from the vicinity. Then and there, Caline Bustier vowed, job be damned, to never allow poor Marinette near vicious Adrien ever again. She cared too much for the girl.
Instead of her body being torn to pieces, Marinette sensed a light exhale on her face, as if he, her Chat Noir, were hesitating. Suddenly, all at once, she felt his lips on hers, and Marinette died. She died. Her Chat must have killed her; there was no way she could have tasted the ecstasy that was his lips, felt inexplicable passion within the short, urgent kisses to follow, and mewled at the wild nibbles of his teeth upon the bottom plush of her mouth. She must've died. She must've.
All too soon, objectionable hands grasped her at the waist and tore her away from her Chat Noir. Because he was hers now. And she his. Swiftly, Marinette realized that she hadn't died. Oh no. She hadn't died. She was having a glorious dream that had rapidly turned into a nightmare. Gifted only with an fleeting glance toward her chained Chat Noir desperately reaching for her, Marinette was met with the slam of a cold, stone door.
Yes, she must've been having a nightmare. Rather than a scratch, a lone tear ran down a cheek, her souvenir from Chat Noir. After all, where, other than nightmares, did she wallow in such despair?
She hadn't even told him her name. And she was ever so ignorant of his.
Would she ever see him again? How would she find him? There were thousands of animal-humans in the facility. Finding the one she longed for, with every fiber of her being, would be nearly impossible.
Would they always have to stay anonymous?