Almost 3,5k ... phew ... this last part was so much fun to write. :)
Wednesday morning arrived in a flash.
Marinette never imagined that having more tasks could reduce stress, too. Or maybe it was the company she kept since last Friday. She almost skipped to school, she would swear some astonished classmates turned their heads in her direction.
First, she didn't oversleep. Second Adrien didn't drag her out of the bakery so that they would be on time. Third she had slept for ten hours without break. Ten! She had doubled, almost tripled her hours without problem for once.
The air was brisk, a bit cold, but she liked it that way. The early sunshine combined with a nice chill reminded her of her races over the Parisian rooftops. Marinette took the stairs to the front door, two steps at a time, her feet almost dancing to a tune only she could hear.
Inside her purse Tikki chimed because of her cheerfulness.
A good night's sleep could change the whole world!
Yet Marinette stopped as she crossed the threshold to her classroom, taking in the view. Half of the seats were still empty. Nathanael was sketching in the back row and ducked his head flustered the second Marinette waved to him. Sometimes she missed the old days of her collège, her group of classmates was partly the same, but the friendships shifted and changed during the years.
Except Chloé. She would never get rid of her until Marinette finally attended a design school.
"Good morning." Adrien who already sat on his desk greeted her enthusiastically. He had spotted the bags in her hands at first glance. This or his cat senses perceived the delicious scent.
Marinette sauntered over to their seats and dropped her bag carefully. She wished to kiss him or hug him as a hello but her secret relationship forbid this kind of touches, yet. So, she settled for smile instead.
Adrien still looked tired but gorgeous no less. Black jeans hugged his hips and he had slipped on a bluish gray shirt and a comfortable whine red botton-up-shirt. Topped off by a beanie in the same color which held back his tousled blond locks. Autumn theme in perfection, Marinette swooned and tried not to look him up too long. He was a natural with colors. This or all the years stuck up at fashion shows drilled the knowledge into his head.
The thread of her lucky charm Marinette gave him ages ago had already withered. But she made him a necklace out of the jade center piece which dangled now around his neck. For a second Marinette didn't know what dazzled her more. The shiny jade as a proof of affection or Adrien's sparkling green eyes in the early morning sunshine.
"How come we never realized that Marinette virtually undresses Adrien with her looks?", Nino interrupted her with a barking laugh.
"Because she's doing it for years and years, it's nothing new to me", Alya answered without hesitation. "How come I never noticed that they wear matching things?"
Marinette took of her own rosé-colored beanie which was made of the same pattern as Adrien's while her boyfriend tried to hide his cheeky grin.
"We've always distracted you", Marinette answered honestly and looked more precisely at her friends.
Alya barely sat upright in her chair. A load yawn escaped her lips and she continued to rub her eyes that had dark bags underneath. Her hair had been curly and hard to tame ever since but today it looked like Alya had been hit by a storm. Plus she was too tired to fix the messy cluster on her head.
Marinette wondered if Nino had worn the same clothes the day before. His cap shielded parts of his face but Marinette perceived the small scratches nevertheless. Red blotches had grown across his hands, as if he had been slapped playfully too many times and a dark bruise blossomed right under the rim of his sleeve.
She turned to Adrien handing him out a steaming cup of coffee. „You shouldn't break them in the first week."
Alya groaned, resting her head in her palm. Nino seemed to have fallen asleep on his desk.
"I'm not." Adrien pouted adoringly. "I'm testing their limits so that I can figure out where to start from."
Marinette placed a croissant and coffee in front of Alya and Nino. The sugary scent combined with caffeine somehow woke them up.
"He's killing us ..." Alya complained while taking a sip. "I've never been exhausted like this."
Nino pulled off a piece of his croissant and sneakily stuffed it into his jacket pocket where Wayzz rested. Despite being a turtle he loved the essence of traditional French cuisine: butter. The more butter something contained the better.
Three of four kwamis would be demanding food of her family's bakery soon. Trixx was still teasing Alya that she liked fat Parisian pigeons most.
For an instance Marinette remembered that Master Fu had given up his Miraculous for Nino. As his successor Nino would have to train far harder than Alya, there was no way to back out of this. The current Great Guardian was still attending his duties but one day Nino would take over his place. This idea was as frightening as amazing.
Adrien and Alya continued nagging when the rest of their class settled into their seats.
"Your arms are made of pudding."
"They're not. You're just accustomed to Marinette who is unusually strong."
Marinette giggled at her retort. She couldn't deny this fact.
"Hey, don't insult my girl." Nino lifted his head slowly. "She's the most luscious fox in Paris."
Alya flamed up as red as her superhero costume.
"For real, you aren't allowed to complain." Adrien continued like nothing had happened. "We had to learn by trial and error."
"An awful lot of errors", Marinette added and offered her boyfriend a piece of her croissant. Their fingers lingered a second too long before Adrien snatched it away. "And we're on our own. At the very beginning we had to struggle by ourselves."
"So, please trust our experience," Adrien explained. "You're lucky to walk down the easy path!"
"Easy ...", Nino and Alya sighed in sync.
The rest of the students gathered in class, greeting more or less joyful each other. "What are you up for?" Ivan watched the battered appearance of the newest superheroes.
"Parcours." Marinette made this white lie up easily. "Adrien showed those two parcours as a new hobby. But apparently all their manage is to crash into solid objects and walls."
Nino hung his head in defeat and Alya sent her an angry glare.
"You're into parcours, Adrien?" Ivan asked bewildered. "Your rigid excuse of a dad has no clue, has he?"
"Well, practice makes purrrfect", Adrien quipped which earned him a joint groan and a nudge from Marinette. "And it's not like I'm jumping down the stairs right in front of him."
"Really? I always thought that you were a lame fencing guy."
"Fencing and basketball and parcours and flying and martial art and bo-jutsu", Adrien muttered under his breath as Ivan continued to climb the stairs inside of the classroom.
Marinette offered him another croissant to lighten up his mood. "Thank you for taking them to patrol last night. I think I'm fully recharged. But Adrien", she whispered, "my parents wonder why you never stay for breakfast. You should stop slipping away once a while."
"O-o-kay," he stammered, face flushed.
They continued their breakfast treat in silence, Nino and Alya accepting their loss obediently.
Shortly afterwards her teacher entered the classroom and started with the attendance call.
Without further notice Marinette and Adrien prepared their presentation, connecting his convertible with the beamer. After turning in their reports concerning the kitten therapy Marinette's school had been so enthralled that they had to hold a lecture in front of their classmates, too.
For once Marinette didn't felt bothered by this extra task. It felt more like summing up the last weeks, she was about to draw a conclusion before she could face the next level.
Adrien gave her a thumb up and their teacher sat down on an empty chair.
„Today we're going to tell you something about stress", Marinette started. "How stress emerges, tell-tale signs ..."
"... and ways to reduce it," Adrien continued. "Mostly common possibilities to cope with stressful situations. For example how cats reduces their owner's stress just as we experienced in our recreational hour last Friday."
As Adrien told their introduction Marinette's smile faltered for a second. Her boyfriend had assured her several times that he would go official the second she decided to. But it was her choice to unveil their relationship since she would be dragged into the public eye as Marinette, too.
The last years she enjoyed being under the radar in her civilian life but she was fed up to play pretend to be only Adrien's class mate.
So unbelievable fed up.
She was almost there ... almost ... twenty meters, nineteen ...
A manicured hand landed on her shoulder and she was turned to face Chloé. A bunch of other girls followed the mayor's daughter most of them were part of their class.
Marinette suppressed a sigh. She didn't want to get caught, but running had been no option.
"What has happened to Alya and Nino?" The girls asked. "Are they a thing now?"
Down the hall Adrien leaned against a window sill, thanks to a heavy down pour the students were allowed to stay inside. Nino was sitting at his feet, vigorously chatting with him, while Alya sprawled across Nino. From the distance it seemed like she was sleeping. Anyway, for the rest of the students it must look like some full-scale cuddling.
"Not officially." Marinette answered honestly. Though it would not take much longer for her bestie to realize her feelings.
The girls groaned. Some of them tried to hit on Nino, hoping to get access to exclusive parties thanks to his DJ'ing jobs. Some of them even tried to approach Adrien via Nino, but both guys always brushed off every girl charmingly.
Marinette wished she would have made it to her friends without being stopped. Because she knew by heart the following questions and assumptions.
"So did you really spent an hour in a kitten box with Adrien?"
"All alone?" Their voices went higher up.
Marinette registered the lingering fingers of Chloé on her shoulder but didn't push her way.
"Really?" Giggling. Squealing. Almost fainting.
Marinette nodded with a small smile.
The girls laughed at her statement. "Did you finally make a move on him?"
"We were being recorded", she tried to divert the topic. They sought the touch of each other constantly, they were long gone past 'making a move'.
"So we will find your make-out session on YouTube soon?"
Marinette bit down her first answer. This question was gross.
"No. Nothing happened. We just relaxed and talked. Played with those adorable kittens." One little peck was not similar to making out, was it? Especially if she compared it to some messing around after a heavy akuma attack they barely managed.
Apart from this: Those girls should kept their noses out of their relationship. Secret or not.
„In your place I would have snatched away Adrien", one girl suggested dreamingly. "Kissed him senseless until he was addicted to my lips."
The other one's giggled once again.
„No way to run except into my arms."
"I would bare all for Adrien, he just has to ask nicely. Even with being recorded."
"Oh, hell, yes!"
Oh hell, yes, gross!
Marinette decided to stay silent. Half of the female Parisians at her age wanted to catch Adrien. Someday she would be used to those comments.
"Admit that you're lying." Suddenly all of her attention snapped to Chloé who slowly released her shoulder.
„That you are lying", Chloé repeated. Lips tight, bows furrowed, she really seemed bothered for once. Or she learned to play it better. "My Adrikins would never spent his recreational hour with you."
Marinette took a deep breath.
"I mean you're worthless scum, not even considered pretty, why should he pay attention to you if he can have me?" Chloé flicked her blond hair over her shoulder. "It must be a lie, Adrikins probably offered to help you with your presentation because you would have utterly failed on your own."
Marinette clenched her hands to fist and rammed her nails deep into her skin. She would not explode. She would not explode in front of everyone.
"He has that kind of nice personality. He must have pitied you because of that rug you're wearing. What are you, a Chat Noir fangirl? Really? Losers stick together, don't they?"
That was it.
Marinette had enough. 3, 2, 1 - BOOM!
No one disdained her kitty!
"I absolutely knew that Adrien would never spent time with you on his own, you're just tagging along with that dumb DJ. Since we're always together we match way better than ..."
Marinette's resolve snapped in a good way.
"You always stick together?", she echoed her voice low and strained of anger. "Then answer me some simple questions. What is his favorite food? What is the color he really likes? Not the one he has to wear because someone decides to. Do you know his allergies? Do you know why he hates rain?" And why he likes to be scratched behind his imaginary cat ears, she added silently. Fortunately. "Have you any idea what he wishes to do after school? Really wants, not what is expected of him? Have you ever in all those years comforted him on that one particular day? Do you know where he goes when he's fed up with all those people who are pulling him like a marionette?"
Marinette crossed her arms in front of her chest in order to restrain herself. She was treading on thin ice, almost disclosing information no one should care it existed.
But she was so deep down furious right now!
"Do you?", Marinette hissed.
The other girls stared her down, eyes wide, mouths hung open.
Only Chloé started another attack. "You filthy little liar. Making up stories to belittle my perfect, flawless Adrikins."
"Well, I can show you, all of you, an idiot-proof evidence." Marinette challenged. "Maybe you want to get your phones out? I'm sick of this stupid arguments, so take pictures, record, do whatever you want to have future reference. But leave us alone after this."
"Us?", asked one of the girls, "What do you mean by us?"
Marinette placed two fingers against her lips and let out a high-pitched whistle.
Adrien jerked, his head bolting up in anticipation. Usually Ladybug would use this sound to get Chat Noir's attention.
Marinette spun on her heels, strands flying out of her messy bun, before she stomped down the hallway.
"Did she really ..."
"Yeah, I think she did."
This is your moment, Marinette told herself. No one steals Ladybug her show.
She closed her eyes, scaled down her flaring temper and exhaled a long breath before she faced Adrien. Her beloved alley-cat wouldn't suspect what was going to happen next. It was her choice. She decided to end their game and to start a brand-new one all the same.
A sassy smile graced Marinette's features, her posture got more relaxed, her steps almost gliding. She had no runway experiences yet she could carry herself with pride and confidence.
Baffled Adrien let his convertible slip through his fingers but Nino caught it in time.
"Are they dating?" The girls were following her, whispers ringing through the quiet corridor.
"Don't know. But have you seen that look? Adrien has never been so ..."
"No", someone breathed. "Head over heels."
Don't listen, Marinette thought and walked ever so slowly.
Just the with the right way to sway her hips. Ladybug-swagger, a secret weapon a special someone couldn't resist.
On top of that she wore the superhero themed hoodie she had sewn for Chat Noir ages ago. After Adrien's growth spurt he loved to see her wearing his former present, though.
You have so lost, Chloé, Marinette rejoiced, closing in the distance. She might look a bit sloppy to the mayor's daughter, dusty red chucks and distressed black tights and such, but the hinted superhero theme was irresistible in Adrien's eyes. Nothing else mattered.
"Minou." The word caressed Marinette's lips. Soft enough to be inaudible to everyone else except cat senses.
On the window sill Adrien blushed scarlet. He nervously rubbed his neck, almost brushing off the black-framed glasses he wore during long working hours at his computers.
The girls followed her, cautiously measuring the space between them so that they could watch Marinette and Adrien at the same time.
Their gazes locked and everyone else faded into the background.
This was right.
This was them.
Marinette and Adrien as well as Ladybug and Chat Noir.
No more hiding their real selves, no more quashing manners that came naturally.
They could be bold, dorky, love-struck, frivolous, serious, in tune, afraid, worried, pensive, happy and satisfied.
But therefore they had to be themselves.
At last a rush of panic soared, making Marinette doubt her decision briefly. Were they ready for the next step? The questions, the gossip, the photos in magazines ... Was she acting up childishly because she wanted to claim him for herself? Heck, she was openly seducing Adrien to prove some ridiculous point!
Marinette stumbled right in front of her secret boyfriend, her long forgotten klutziness returning. Her hands shot up, desperately seeking something to hold onto but Adrien reached out for her, steadying her one moment, drawing her in instinctively in the next.
"I'm all ears, princess," he teased. "You've definitely got my attention thanks to this spectacular show."
Tiptoeing Marinette brought herself to a higher level as Adrien lend down to her, pressing their lips together in a chaste kiss.
With the most angriest shriek Chloé stormed down the hallway, the other girls apparently stayed. Through a wild buzz of excited voices Marinette heard the snapping sound of camera lenses.
Adrien hands went down to the small of her back, firmly locking her in place as he deepened the kiss slowly. It tasted of promise and proposal. Plus, it tasted like coffee. She loved the flavor as much as Adrien's hands roaming over her hoodie. All together Marinette melted under his touch. Her fingers wove into his golden locks, eliciting a soft sigh of pleasure.
As Marinette pulled away, breathing heavily, all of their spectators were long gone.
"You should call Natalie", Nino joked. "Twitter is probably crashing down any minute now."
Even Alya typed furiously on her phone. "Paris' most sought supermodel AdrienAgreste off the market. Hashtag Adrien in love, hashtag Adrinette, hashtag love wins. Photo looks awesome ... and online."
"No!" Marinette exclaimed. "Stop inventing couple names! I hate it that every damn reporter asks me if 'LadyNoir' will be official one day!"
"You never allowed me to use MariChat." Adrien whined playfully with a big goofy grin plastered across his face. "Don't listen to her, Alya, I liked 'LadyNoir' from the first day."
Nino only chuckled at their antics. Marinette buried herself at Adrien's neck as he pulled her even closer.
A couple of minutes later a loud crash echoed through the school followed by screams.
"Akuma", Marinette and Adrien said on cue. "Probably Chloé."
"You two are disgusting." Nino shook his head and heaved himself in a standing position. "So, shall we go?"
"No", Marinette replied, stretching a bit. "It's too early for you."
Plagg and Tikki poked their heads out of their hide-outs, ready to share the magic with their chosen one's.
„You stay here, you're not accustomed to your powers yet", Adrien emphasized. "I'm not rescuing an eager kitten that cannot jump properly."
With a flash of pink and green they've vanished, taking a short cut they had yet to show the second generation of heroes.
Nino and Alya shared a look - as if they would stay behind now.
Then Alya smirked confidently and waited that Nino took her hand. "Trixx, transform me!"
"Wayzz," he let himself get carried away by her guts as a countless times before, "transform me!"
Together they dashed off to defeat their first akuma.
One of many to come.
For now. ;)
A/N: Hello guys! 21.000 views! We've hit 21,000 views with chapter ten! Unbelievable! :D Thank you, thank you, thank you for reading, sticking with me and reviewing! THANK YOU!
I don't know when I'll continue this story since my vacation has ended on the 22th and I have to concentrate on my next publications first ...
But rest assured, the moment I upload a continuation (as a new story) I'll post a note right here.
Again, thank you! And take care!