Summary: Hawk Moth has a new plan to catch Paris's two heroes off-guard. The result? A suspicious lack of Akumas, the disappearance of one teenage model, an ill kwami, and Marinette deciding to adopt a black cat. Now, if only she could find her other stray kitty.
Note: For the purpose of this fic, any of the miraculous chosen revealing their identities is not something to be taken lightly. There are actual consequences to the act; induced by the same magic that gives them their powers.
I See You – Prologue
"Chat," Marinette gasped as she pulled away. Her black-clothed counterpart leaned forward, but her palms upon his chest stopped him from closing the distance. "We can't." She felt jittery at the declaration; that it even needed to be said. Lidded green eyes bore into hers. Her arms pleaded to go slack at the intense look, and the world seemed to slide away. Her mind was dazed; hazy with the pleasure of all her nerve ending on alert.
Blond locks tickled her shoulder as Chat Noir stretched to bury his face into her neck. He tilted his head to nip at her jaw line. Marinette dragged in a shaky breath.
"I know," Chat murmured against the spandex of her Ladybug outfit. He continued with his task despite his words. His hands coming up to curl around her waist and comb through her hair.
Marinette could feel herself going slack under his ministrations. A loud beep pierced her ear and Chat gave a discontent hiss. It was with limbs of stone that Marinette dragged herself out of Chat's hold. Her miraculous chimed a warning only moments after Chat's. Marinette looked up to meet Chat's dark gaze. "I'm sorry," she whispered.
A heavy smile twisted Chat's expression. "Don't be."
"I'm the one that insists-"
Chat cut her off with a swift kiss. Shorter than their last, but just as intense. "One of us has to." He said against her lips. Green met blue for a long, regret-filled moment. "It's the better choice."
Marinette wanted to deny his words. She wanted to stay right where she was and wait for the wash of magic to strip the mask of Ladybug off her. The world had faded away until all she was left with was this one moment. They stood on the precipice of a choice that could change their lives; for worse or for better. All they had to do was leap.
"Chat Noir and Ladybug are yin and yang; bound closer together than most Miraculi are. Maintaining that balance is a difficult task. Your bond will pull you together, and the magic will react. Not every pair has overcome that trial."
Ladybug inhaled sharply as she swung away from the rooftop; leaving her partner to head in the opposite direction. They had felt that pull since day one. It had once been mild. The bond they shared made trusting each other feel as natural as breathing. They were not Ladybug and Chat Noir; they were Ladybug and Chat Noir. Marinette couldn't imagine her life as a superhero without her counterpart. She'd mused on it before, but each time her mind had come to a screeching halt. She simply couldn't see Ladybug without Chat Noir, or Chat Noir without Ladybug. Trying to do so felt… wrong.
She'd dismissed the warning early on. The idea of falling for Chat was a bit of a stretch when she had Adrien to focus on. Marinette had later admitted that she might have fallen for him if Adrien wasn't there, but that wasn't the case.
Now, she could feel the bond burning under her skin. The same magic that gave her powers sang through the air around her. It was stirred into restlessness by her previous closeness to Chat. It hummed with challenge, buzzed with power, tempted her with glimpses into what could be-
"What, exactly, would happen?"
Marinette landed on her balcony and slipped into her room. Only the moon hanging high over Paris chased away the shadows. Rivulets of silver light streamed in through the windows; illuminating her bed and desk. For a moment, the room flared vivid red as the transformation dissolved and Tikki reformed next to her.
The pair shared a smile and a few quiet words before slipping off to bed. Sleep called them both after the exhausting patrol. Paris was safe and sound under the care of its two protectors.
"If you succeed, your reward is all the happiness you've been chasing. You'll be closer than ever before. The bond can make you stronger, as well. If you fail and the bond breaks… it's been described as having your soul snap. You will fundamentally change… and you'll never be able to transform again."
The black-haired teen pulled the sheets over her head as the warning from two years ago rang in her ears. She had to keep her distance. They had to keep their distance. She didn't want to risk it. The bond felt fragile as it clung to her bones. She cherished Chat Noir with everything she had. She couldn't lose him. She just couldn't.
"And the only way to avoid it is to never reveal ourselves?"
Memories chattered in her mind and scrambled to the forefront as she recalled the feeling of his lips against hers. Chat's voice echoed in her ears.
"I underestimated it."
It had been easy for him to make that mistake two years ago, when the bond had been so new. It had been an easy for her to make that mistake a year ago, when she found herself being charmed by his bright personality and relentless flirting. Even his puns made her smile.
It wasn't a mistake she could make now. Not with magic snapping at her heels and the bond buzzing in her blood.
She took in a shaky breath.
"Yes, Tikki?" Said teen answered as she peeked out of the covers to look at her sympathetic kwami.
"It'll be okay." Tikki chirped as she drifted down to nestle on Marinette's pillow.
Marinette smiled at her tiny friend, who held the wisdom of thousands of years, and couldn't find it in her to agree.
"Today was intense," Tikki soothed as though she knew exactly what Marinette was thinking. "The bond was strained."
She was answered with a tired laugh. "And kissing is the only way to fix it?"
"You were vulnerable," came the patient response. "You kept your head. You left."
"We did." Marinette agreed as she closed her eyes. Moments later, her exhaustion dragged her down into the realm of dreams.
"The ability to understand is the most powerful force that exists. Ladybug is a core part of you now, and it is the same for Chat Noir. It is part of what makes you, you. The magic of the transformation comes from that. You could never have transformed if you weren't already Ladybug. To have two people with a bond that close, whose 'understanding' of themselves has taken form… if they should ever truly know each other, the bond- and the magic that made it- would never let go."
I will be x-posting this on AO3. I decided to make an account there as well. My pen name on AO3 is WolfsQuill. I will also be changing my ff pen name to WolfsQuill, because I like it more. If you're curious, it's meant to be "Wolf's Quill" without the apostrophe and the space.