AN: Yet another kooky idea I wanted to play with. I also wanted to try an interesting twist to Adrien and Plagg's relationship. Hope you like it.
Marinette was sweetness personified.
Well, for a human.
Nonetheless, she was adorable, creative, independent. Plucky even. With a mean streak of bad luck that absolutely charmed him. With blue eyes that reminded him of his other half. And the mouth on her. While his chosen's heart was claimed by Ladybug, starstruck, his kwami found his attention inexplicably diverted by someone far less... miraculous.
Plagg was very disturbed by his musings. He was supposed to be above such things. Having tender feelings for a human was like having feelings for a dog. It was... unseemly. (Tikki would never let him live it down if she ever found out.) Yet while Adrien droned on and on about his unknown lady love, all Plagg could do was roll his eyes at how incredibly dense the boy was. How could he not see that he already had someone so amazing head over heels for him?
However, Plagg refused to clue him in. It would be too easy and quite frankly, he didn't deserve it if he didn't even notice her.
As for himself, he was content to watch. He had a nice view from his spot in Adrien's bag. He munched on a wedge of cheese, happily looking up at Marinette as she looked on his charge with that loved struck look in her eye. Would that she would look on Chat Noir like that. In his weaker moments, he wondered... what if she were his kitten instead?
A stupid thought. A dangerous thought. The Guardian chose Adrien for a reason.
It didn't stop Plagg from daydreaming.
That's all it would ever be.
When Chat called Marinette 'princess' for the first time, he really didn't think much of it. Marinette was one of the shyest people in class. She deserved a little bit of recognition. To feel a bit special. He wanted to give that to her.
Then she completely trounced his expectations. She was so brave. So cunning. So... so...
His interest was piqued.
I should go see her.
Came the thought as Chat Noir. Being a man not so... constrained by inhibitions, he headed over to the bakery without giving it very much thought. He spotted her from the other side of the street. His curiosity sated, he left it at that. Then the next night. Then the next.
I should go talk to her.
Well. He had been somewhat stalking her for a couple weeks now. It wasn't so outlandish that he might want to chat her up, so to speak.
So, he went.
Sure, she was a little surprised to have a superhero turn up at her doorstep. Who wouldn't be? However, she handled it with aplomb. And with cookies.
He would have gone just for the cookies.
He ended up staying for her.
Marinette was sweetness with a touch of sass. Like blackberries in champagne. She was even more lovely up close. With eyes that sparkled with mirth and sly smiles. And a laugh that sounded like golden bubbles. Not to mention, the playful banter between them. She gave as good as she got, making him grin as she teased him. Every time he went over, he only became more and more captivated.
I should kiss her.
Chat blinked, startled out of his rosy revelry. He pulled back, before she even noticed that he was leaning towards her. She did notice how still he went, looking up from sketching in her notebook on the floor. "Something wrong, Chat?" she asked, raising an eyebrow.
It was his third week of visits. Perfectly innocent visits. He was in his usual spot on her chaise, nursing a small plate of sweets while they enjoyed each other's company. Then so very suddenly, he saw the back of her neck, hair parted on either side of the lily-white skin and he...
"N-no nothing," he answered quickly and stuffed a cookie in his mouth to keep from needing to answer more. This seemed to satisfy her, as her attention went back to her designs. Meanwhile, he began to sweat bullets.
What the hell was he thinking? Kiss Marinette? Marinette was a friend. An absolutely adorable friend who fed him and had very kissable lips and- No. No. Bad cat! Bad! More than a little perturbed by his thoughts, Chat made as polite a excuse as he could and beat a hasty exit from Marinette's room.
Safe back in his room, Adrien paced his room, mind working furiously as he tried to puzzle out why he had a sudden change of heart. ...Only it wasn't so sudden, was it. It snuck up on him. He wanted to be close to her. To see her smile. To hear her laugh.
But oddly, only as Chat Noir. It was like she was a ball of yarn. One that the cat had every temptation to play with. As Adrien, it was... confusing. Sure, he liked Marinette. She never filled his thoughts the way that Ladybug did, but he liked her.
Just not like that.
...Plagg was being awfully quiet.
The blond turned to his kwami on the couch, who was snacking away on his store of cheese that had been preemptively left out. His eyes narrowed in suspicion. "You're not giving me any flack for going to kiss Marinette. Why?"
"Oh, is that what you were doing? I didn't know," the little black kwami replied archly, tossing a wedge of cheese up in the air and swallowing it whole. He cast another up in the air and let out a sound of protest as Adrien caught it.
"Oh that is bull. You know perfectly well what I'm doing as Chat. And you love teasing me," the model retorted, "That whole Valentine's fiasco? You still mock me about that."
"Because it was hilarious," Plagg replied, going for a different wedge of cheese.
Adrien frowned. "Come to think of it... You haven't been teasing me about Marinette at all. No lovebird stuff. No 'oh just friends?' spiel. And you haven't complained once about my going to visit her all these times. You nag me if I so much as spend two extra minutes to flirt with Ladybug. So what the heck is your deal?"
The kwami, rather conspicuously, said nothing. Instead, he turned his back like the cat that he was, feigning disinterest.
"Alright, I didn't want to do this..." The blond went to his bed and pulled out an airtight sealed steel box. Inside was another sealed container. Then another. Suddenly the extremely pungent smell of rotting feet permeated the room, making Adrien nearly gag. Holding his nose, he hurriedly dropped the limburger out in front of the kwami. "You get this if you tell me what's going on," he said nasally, trying to talk without getting the smell in his mouth.
Plagg's eyes went wide, visibly salivating. The tiny being trembled, barely able to contain himself. That he was resisting at all was suspect. However, the kwami inevitably gave in, dive bombing for the limburger. "Oh, my precious~" he purred, lovingly stroking the rim of the container. He let out a yelp of protest as Adrien picked it up. He stared up at the blond's expectant look, before he gave in for real. "Oh, fine. I'll tell."
Adrien opened up a window, then sat himself across from his kwami, who was already partaking of the limburger with gusto. "Okay, spill. What is it?"
Plagg slowed his munching, looking uncomfortably up and away, at anything but the blond. "Well," he said, taking a very sudden interest in the black screen of the tv, "Marinette is a very nice girl. For a human. That's all."
"...Okay?" the blond said in confusion. "Well, yes. She's nice. I like her. Doesn't mean that I want to kiss-" Adrien suddenly froze as comprehension dawned. His eyes went comically wide, his jaw dropping in shock.
"You're going to catch flies that way," Plagg said peevishly, taking another less enthusiastic bite of his cheese. He only riveted with defensiveness, when Adrien snorted and then broke into laughter.
"Oh my God, you like her!" the model shrieked in between fits of laughter. "Mr. Romance is Stupid! That cheese is better than girls! You like Marinette!"
"Okay, yes! Fine! You can shut up about it now!" the kwami snapped, before shoving a hunk of cheese in his mouth. Though it didn't taste nearly as good as it did seconds before. "And before you ask, I'm not making you go see her."
Reminded of the matter at hand, Adrien sobered up somewhat. His sides ached from laughter as he sat up properly. "Yeah, okay, but you're influencing Chat somehow," he accused. He wasn't entirely wrong. "So, what is it? Is it your subconscious? Can't you just... separate that out?"
"And separate out all the parkour in the meantime?" Plagg asked archly. "Sorry kid. Neither of us likes it, but we're both stuck like this." At the boy's frown, the kwami said, "Look it's fine. This- this whatever it is will just go away. I just need to ignore it that's all."
"Yeah, 'cause that worked well so far," Adrien muttered under his breath. However, the cat kwami had gone back to being actively disinterested in the conversation. Well, Adrien supposed at least he knew what was up now. He just needed to keep Chat in check.
Chat Noir tapped his claws against the edge of the tin roof, his eyes fixated on the girl across from school. He hadn't visited in a week. She was probably wondering what happened to him. After spending nearly every night there for weeks, it was rude to just...
No. No, no, no. You're not going over. You don't like her.
Except he did.
NO, YOU DON'T.
Right. This was getting ridiculous. Time to call it a night.
Somehow, a minute later, he was on her balcony.
What are you doing?!
Apparently, he'd hopped in the wrong direction. Right, keep moving. His house was just a little-
Chat froze up when he heard the latch to the hatch open. Marinette peeked up from her room, frowning as she regarded him. "You've got a week's worth of stale cookies with your name on them," she said wryly, as she hooked her arms over the edge of the hatch.
"Sounds appetizing," the superhero replied, giving her a strained smile.
"So what brings you here?" Marinette asked, pulling herself up to the balcony.
"Well, who wouldn't be tempted by week old stale cookies?" Chat tried, giving her a charming grin. At her raised eyebrow, he took it that she didn't buy that excuse. "W-well, actually I was just a little busy, that's all. But I'm here now... so..."
"Hmmm~" the designer mused, clasping her hands behind her back as she circled him. It made him unaccountably nervous. Especially with that look in her eye. "You kind of looked like you were running away. I don't scare you, do I, chaton?"
A little, yeah.
Unknowingly, he backed up against her lounge chair and fell back into it with a small yelp. Marinette stood over him, a sly grin on her face, mischievous look in her eye. It was exactly why he fell for her. Heat flushed over his shoulders, staining his cheeks until he was bright cherry red. She leaned in, until they were nose to nose, studying him intently.
"...I'll let you go," she decided magnanimously, pulling back and giving him some breathing room. "You look like you have somewhere to be."
Chat cleared his throat, regaining a bit of his sensibilities. Jumping to his feet, he dusted himself off. "Right. That's right. Off to protect Paris. Thanks for stopping by."
"You're the one who stopped by here," Marinette reminded him, with a smile of amusement.
"Er, yes, that's what I meant," he answered quickly, only growing more flustered. "A-anyway, I'll be off. See you... sometime." Chat froze up when she put a hand on his forearm. Marinette pulled a slip of paper from her pocket, holding it in front of his nose.
"Next time," she said, casually undoing his zipper pocket to slip the piece of paper in, "you could call ahead. Give me a heads up. It's not nice to keep a girl up waiting for you." She patted his side, making him squeak. "See you later, Chat."
With a frantic nod, Chat Noir immediately made his escape. In just a few hops, he was back home. After the two separated, neither could look the other in the eye. Adrien kept a hand crossed over his chest, his face bright red, as he looked out of the window. He coughed lightly, "So... I don't think this is working..."
"It is not my fault she's flirting with you," Plagg growled.
"Well, learns from the best, doesn't she?" the blond huffed. "Anyway, you need to get over this. What if Ladybug sees me flirting with Marinette because of you! She'll get the wrong idea!"
"Oh Ladybug, Ladybug," the kwami scoffed. "So upset over a girl whose name you don't even know! Let me tell you- I've met all the Ladybugs since the dawn of time! They can all do flashy magic tricks! Big deal! You're the fool who's missing what's right in front of his face!"
Adrien turned and stared at the little black being, his eyes widening. "...Just how big is this crush you have on her?" he demanded, his arms uncrossing from his chest. "Are you even supposed to get crushes? Isn't that like being anti-kwami or something? Are you going to self-combust?"
"Har har har. As if," Plagg said with a roll of his big green eyes. "Look just- lay off turning into Chat outside of superhero-ing purposes for a while. You'll be fine."
"But you know I have to have my walkabouts!" Adrien protested. "I'll go bonkers trapped in here all the time!"
"Well, then I suppose you'll just have to get used to a beautiful young lady flirting with you," Plagg said archly. "Oh what suffering."
Adrien let out a sigh. Once again, they were at an impasse. His kwami's refusal to deal with this crush was only going to blow up in both their faces. One way or another. Something had to be done about it. If not by Plagg and certainly not by Chat, then Adrien was going to have to step up.
The next day, Plagg found something odd with his accompaniment of cheese. The kwami raised an eyebrow at the sleek new cellphone on the coffee table in front of him. "Something wrong with your old phone?" he asked, casting a suspicious look at his chosen.
"I thought it might be useful, if Ladybug ever gave me her civilian number," Adrien replied innocently.
"Fat chance of that," Plagg muttered.
"Well. Then I guess I'll just have an extra phone laying around," Adrien shrugged. He dug in a pocket and absently dropped a slip of paper onto the table, as though it were a bit of lint. "Welp, I have piano lessons. Then dinner and Chinese. I won't be back until, oh... I say..." he checked his watch, "eight? You'll just have to entertain yourself until then. Plenty of cheese for you in the stash. Salut!" he called, heading out of the bedroom.
"I know what you're doing!" Plagg called after him. He was only answered with a closing door. The kwami glared at the empty space, before his attention turned back to the phone and the slip of paper with Marinette's number on it. "That boy thinks I'm so easy," he huffed, flicking on the television to watch his favorite shows.
An hour passed and his eyes flicked back to the phone. Then to the number. Then to the phone again. Then he shook and brought his gaze back to the television.
An hour later, he was punching in Marinette's number.
The little kwami was vibrating on pins and needles as he sent a text. A simple 'Salut'. He waited for about ten minutes, before he got a reply.
Salut? Who is this?
Oh damn, he forgot about that. Plagg tapped the coffee table nervously next to the phone. Well, he couldn't very well name himself Plagg over text, now could he? Nor was he actually Chat Noir.
So he answered: Meow
That was clue enough, when the teasing reply came. Aha~ salut, chaton. What's the matter? Lost your voice?
Plagg let out a sigh of relief. Then he wrote back, You would like that, wouldn't you? Me purring sweet nothings in your ear?
And where would you have gotten that idea, chaton?
So it was just my imagination when you were getting handsy last night?
You were all out of sorts last night. I couldn't help teasing you. In fact, methinks you're the one who's afraid to hear my voice.
Never. You have the voice of an angel.
Flirt. Are you sure there's nothing wrong with you? I haven't heard a single pun yet.
Oh damn, those stupid puns. Purely Adrien's influence. Sighing, Plagg looked skyward for guidance. I'm pawsitive I can come up with a couple, if you're feline up for it. he wrote, cringing even as he did.
Nope. Changed my mind. Pun-free please.
Thank the spirits. As you wish, princess~
The pair of them chatted away for hours, Plagg's attention and paws completely diverted as he word-played with Marinette. Suddenly, it was eight and the door creaked open to the bedroom. Plagg gave a guilty start, and typed a hasty Got to go! before he kicked the phone away.
Adrien peeked into the room, looking the picture of innocence as he came in. "So, you behave yourself while I was busy?" he asked sweetly, before he faltered. His eyes stuck to the half-eaten wheel of camembert on the coffee table. "...You didn't finish your cheese."
The kwami looked to the damning evidence. Then he snapped it up and shoved the whole thing down into his maw. "Yesh ah 'id," he replied, his mouth full.
The blond's eyes snapped to the phone, obviously touched since he last saw it. "You were so busy texting Marinette that you didn't even eat?" he said, absolutely stunned.
"'ell," Plagg swallowed the cheese down, "you can't eat and type at the same time. I'm bitty. It's hard."
Adrien wouldn't stop staring. "You like Marinette better than cheese."
"Don't be ridiculous. Of course not," the kwami scoffed. Although he couldn't look his chosen in the eye. "Nothing is better than cheese!" He faltered when Adrien's eyes slipped over to the phone again and saw the intention in his eye. Both dove for it at the same time. Being bigger and more long-limbed, the model got to it first. "No, that's private!" Plagg protested as Adrien scrolled through the texts.
However, the evidence was right there in black and white. Or blue and green. Adrien looked over to his kwami. "You spent all evening flirting with her."
"And what did you think was going to happen?!" Plagg demanded defensively.
"I thought you'd get bored!" the blond cried. "If you talked to her, you'd come to your senses and lose interest! I mean, she's a human girl. That's what you always said. Girls are boring!"
"Well, you have a bad habit of underestimating your classmate," his dark kwami growled, his green eyes narrowing.
"Clearly," the blond muttered, his cheeks heating as he went through the texts. He had no idea that Marinette had this side to her. Confidence, sass, humor, wit. None of these things she showed to him as Adrien. She was more at home with talking to some millenias-old destruction spirit than him. "Seems she likes you back," he said, tossing the phone back onto the coffee table.
"She's just playing. It's nothing," Plagg ground out self-deprecatingly. He knew full well where Marinette's true interest lay.
"Doesn't look like nothing." Adrien considered him for a long moment. A human and a kwami. Sounded absolutely absurd, but... what if? How would that even work? But... if they genuinely liked each other...
"...You're getting this weird look on your face," Plagg said suspiciously. "You're plotting something."
"No, I'm not," the blond protested. He patted his hand on the coffee table and said, "Well, I'm heading to bed. Just don't go texting Marinette into the middle of the night. Night!" With his kwami glaring at him in suspicion, he headed off to shower and sleep.
All the meanwhile formulating a plan.
The next day at school, Adrien set to looking for Marinette. She turned up late, naturally. He only got the chance to even talk to her at second break. "Hey, Marinette," he called up to her, as they took their transition break from math to literature. "Could I have a minute?"
As Marinette's eyebrows rose, her cheeks went pink with shyness. Adrien deliberately ignored the small kicking sound from his bag and the interested ooh that Alya made. "U-u-um, s-sure!" the designer replied, worlds apart from the sassy girl that texted Plagg all night. It made him sigh just a little. However, he had a mission. A benevolent mission, so he left his bag behind and brought Marinette out into the hall for some privacy.
"So..." the blond said awkwardly. This was going to be a funny thing to try to explain. "This is going to sound a little... I mean... Well, let's just say that we have a mutual friend."
"Um... Nino?" Marinette blinked.
Adrien quickly shook his head. Looking around, he leaned in and whispered, "He's a bit... kitten-eared."
At this, the designer's eyes went wide with shock. "You know Cha-!"
"Shhh!" he hushed, pressing a finger to his lips. In a low voice he continued, "Yes, and I know that you've been, um... friendly." Marinette's face went bright red, going speechless. "N-no, I don't think it's bad! I mean- it's almost cute. L-like Romeo and Juliet... Sort of..." She still wasn't speaking, so he went on. "A-anyway, I have it on very good authority that he likes you very much. So much that... I wonder if you would consider going on a date with him...?"
The raven haired designer still wasn't talking. In fact, she almost looked catatonic. (Ha.) Gingerly, he put a hand on her shoulder and shook her. "Um... hello? Marinette?"
"I'm sorry! I don't like him!" she squeaked, her cheeks still burning brightly. "I-I mean-! Please, you have to know that! It doesn't mean anything!"
Adrien regarded her, his brow knitting into a faint frown. Well, he'd been flirting with her, unwitting or not. Not as much as Plagg obviously, but... That was really all meaningless? He never pegged Marinette as... insincere. "...I'm sorry to hear that," he said quietly, masking his disappointment with a model smile. "I'll let him know."
With that, he went back to the classroom without another word. When he sat back down, he found a pair of glowing green eyes glaring at him from the bag. Demanding answers. Later, Adrien mouthed at him as Mme Bustier began literary class.
That very lunch, when they entered the foyer of the Agreste Mansion, Plagg flew out of his bag and hovered in front of his face in plain view of everyone in the house. Refusing to hide until the blond spoke up. "Nathalie, I'm taking lunch in my room," he called out to the stairs, before dashing into his private suite. Then he whirled on Plagg. "Are you crazy, what's wrong with you?" he hissed, glaring daggers at his kwami.
"What did you tell her?" Plagg growled, his black fur bristling as he spoke. Adrien had never seen the cat so angry before. Like he was about open up a black hole right underneath his feet.
"Nothing serious!" Adrien hissed back. "I just- let her know that I knew she and Chat have been... close. I asked her for a date on your behalf." Plagg stared at him, dumbstruck. "Okay, it wasn't the best idea," Adrien admitted. "But you like her and-"
"You idiot!" Plagg shrieked at him. "You dense, stupid, thoughtless human child! How could you-! You told her you knew about her flirting with someone else?! You?!"
Adrien gaped, before his cheeks reddened with indignation. "I was trying to do something nice for you! She said no anyway so-"
"I never asked you to!" the kwami snapped. He vibrated in anger, barely keeping himself in check. "And really, a human and a kwami together? That was never going to work!"
"Doesn't mean I shouldn't have tried!"
"YES, IT DID!"
Adrien started, frozen at the shrill shriek. Then his expression went cold. "Fine," he spoke quietly. "If I'm such a fool, then why don't you just go to her? It's obvious you prefer her over me."
"That is not how that works," Plagg replied, utterly unrepentant. "Don't be daft. Just eat your lunch and drop it. You've done enough damage already." Adrien only gave him a surly look in reply. "You don't eat enough as it is. Don't skip meals because you're busy being angry at me."
However, Adrien didn't eat. When he returned to class, his face was as grave as tombstone. Never noticing, the way that Plagg noticed, how shuttered and depressed Marinette looked after his severely misguided quest. It made him seethe in righteous, silent anger. Maybe he really should hop over to her. Just for an evening. It would teach Adrien a lesson.
It was a passing fancy. Nothing more.
Sighing to himself, he settled in between Adrien's books for a well deserved nap.
When Plagg woke up next, it was with a painful smack to his side.
The kwami awoke with a start, blinking sleepily as he looked around. He realized very quickly that things were not right.
For one thing, everything was very... pink.
Marinette's room. He'd been here enough that he recognized it on sight. The kwami spun around in a panic. Where was Adrien. Where was his kid?!
Okay. Okay, calm down. Plagg took pause, sensing for him. Alright, the boy still had the ring. Good. So, somehow, he just needed to get back there. Simple enough. All he had to do was-
"What on earth?"
The kwami froze up at the familiar voice. Stiffly, he looked up and saw Marinette peering down at him, amid books and pencils scattered along the floor. Above him was Marinette's open bag. Likely how he was transported here and then summarily rolled out. The designer crouched down, picking him up from the floor. It was too late to pretend he wasn't a living, breathing thing. She already caught him.
Marinette looked down at the little kwami, her blue eyes wide with shock. "You..." she started, her mouth bobbing. "You have kitten ears..." she spoke, brushing a finger over his brow to scratch between his ears.
Plagg meeped, before remembering himself and letting out a little meow instead. Her face lit up in a warm smile, genuinely rendering him speechless. "You are so cute..." she smiled, stroking his head with a knuckle. "Where did you come from?"
Despite himself, a purr rippled from him as he was stroked like a treasured pet. It only made Marinette's smile grow. "What's your name?" she asked, as if expecting an answer. And she was so charming about it, that he nearly replied. However, he licked at his paw, like some common vagrant. "Not talking, huh?" she said in amusement, going back to stroking him again. "Well, that's alright. You're safe with me, chaton. At least until we figure out where you belong. Someone like you is going to be missed."
How on earth did he end up here anyway? Did Adrien simply dump him in Marinette's bag? He wished that he could say that Adrien wouldn't be that stupid, but the boy was capable of all kinds of duncery lately.
However, he was distracted from such thoughts as Marinette continued to pet and stroke him, eliciting more deep rumbling purrs from his chest. "Gosh, you really are such a little cutie," she gushed, while he melted like a happy little puddle of goo in her hands.
"Well, it's getting late," Marinette decided. "Let's get you someplace to sleep and something to eat." She got up from the ground, picking up a pillow to create a makeshift little bed on top of the chaise. Nuzzling his head again, she made a quick trip down to the kitchen, before coming upstairs with a sandwich. A ham and brie sandwich. Giving him an apologetic look, she set the plate down on the chaise beside him and said, "Sorry, this is all we have in the kitchen now. Hope it'll do. You comfy?"
Plagg let out a meow in response, which she took as an affirmative. "Alright, good. Don't worry, chaton. I got you. You have a good night." With a last nuzzle, she left him to it as she headed to the bathroom to get ready for bed. Leaving Plagg to his own devices. Once it was safe, he dove for the brie, letting out a satisfied hum. Well, it wasn't camembert, but it was close enough. Even better, to have Marinette feeding it to him was its own little slice of heaven.
The kid won't need me for the night. He'll be fine.
Unbeknownst to him, Adrien was ransacking his room even as he was being pampered. After having already gone to school and back several times, looking through class, his locker and his desk. There was no sign of Plagg anywhere. The kwami had simply vanished in the middle of the afternoon.
It was impossible not to think of their last argument. But Plagg wouldn't really leave him, would he? Even if he was in a temper. His eyes flicked to his ring as he flopped onto his upturned bed. Then he looked to the second cell phone, still laying on the coffee table. He didn't want his worst fears confirmed, that Plagg really had left him of his own volition. For someone else.
...But what choice did he have?
Reluctantly, he picked up the cell. He stared at his reflection in the black screen for a heartbeat, before tapping on the number labeled PRINCESS. His stomach roiled with nerves as it rang. Then he heard Marinette pick up. "Hello chaton," she said, a smile in her voice as she spoke.
"Ah, h-hello, M- Princess," Adrien said, a little flummoxed to hear that voice directed at his civilian self. "I appear to have misplaced something. Cat-burgled if you will. I don't suppose you've seen any tiny cats around have you?"
"Funny you should say that," Marinette said, before there was a strange noise that sounded suspiciously like brushing teeth. "I've got an adorable little black kitten out on my chaise. Seems all tired out. Figured he could spend the night."
Adrien's stomach sank. Plagg really had left him. "Ah," he said.
"...Is that okay? You need him sooner than that?" Marinette asked over the line, growing hesitant.
"No, no, I'm sure he's purr-fectly safe in your capable hands," the blond assured her quickly.
"Well... alright, if you're sure," the soft, sweet voice replied. Gosh, it really was worlds apart from the shy, stammering voice in class. He could get used to this. "What's the cutie's name?"
"Plagg," he answered. "And he's not a cutie, I promise you. You just haven't gotten the chance to get to know him yet. He's actually a little devil."
"Sounds like a case of the pot calling the kettle black," Marinette teased. Then the humorous atmosphere over the line fell away, as a sobering silence fell between them. "Hey... Chat," she said softly, making his heart unexpectedly pitter-patter. "You know Adrien?"
"I... yeah..." he whispered, a trickle of dread crawling down his spine.
"He, um," the designer hesitated. Not in the frightened way she did at school, but in a way that suggested she was merely collecting her thoughts. "If I ever gave you the impression that I was serious with my flirting, I'm really sorry. I didn't ever think you were serious either. It was just... playing around, I thought. And if not, I'm really sorry."
Adrien swallowed, his heart thumping a little harder against his rib cage. "I... No, of course. It wasn't serious. Don't feel bad, Marinette."
"Okay," she said, the smile returning to her voice. "G-good. That's good." Then she let out a small laugh. "It was kind of a shock to hear from Adrien that he thought otherwise."
"Oh?" he said, his interest piqued. He felt guilty for deceiving her like this, but his curiosity was getting the better of him. And he was still 90% of Chat anyway. He was entitled to his secrets. "Shocked that I keep company with a supermodel?"
"Somehow, that was the least surprising part, you vain kitty," Marinette teased. "No, more that my crush was trying to arrange a date between you and me."
Adrien's world suddenly tilted. He instantly regretted this, but he couldn't stop now. "You... you like Adrien?" he whispered.
"Loads," the designer replied, her voice warm with affection. It made it just a little harder to breathe. "You won't tell him, right?" she asked urgently. "I'll die if he finds out. I act like such an idiot around him enough as it is."
"...I won't tell," Adrien promised, feeling like a wretch as he spoke the words. This was all getting too much. He couldn't- "I-I'll chat with you tomorrow, Marinette. Please take care of Plagg. Bonsoir."
Ending the call, the blond stared at the empty black screen in his palm. Marinette... she had a crush on him? This whole time? And he told her- Plagg. He must have realized it. Known that he didn't stand a chance. No wonder he was so upset. He managed to break both their hearts in one go.
His shoulders trembled, feeling sick. Both physically and with himself. Plagg was right. He was an idiot. No wonder the kwami took off. He didn't blame him. What kind of superhero was he? The meddlesome, selfish kind. So worried what Ladybug was going to think, he trampled over the feelings of the people he cared about instead. He wasn't worthy of any of them.
Falling back into his sheets, he laid an arm over his brow and held his ringed hand up to the ceiling. His green eyes fixed to the silver ring. Plagg left him. He was, by definition, not chosen anymore.
Maybe it was best to make it official.
The next morning, about an hour before school, the blond turned up at Marinette's doorstep, wearing a black hoodie and a black mask from a masquerade party his father threw sometime last year. He didn't think he looked that scary, but the designer let out a small shriek when she opened up her front door.
"And good morning to you too," Adrien said brightly, when his ears had recovered.
"You gave me a heart attack!" Marinette accused, red faced and flustered. Looking around the street, she quickly grabbed him by the arm, tugging him inside into the foyer. "You know, I gave you my number for a reason! You're supposed to call before you turn up!"
"Ah, sorry!" the blond replied, sheepishly running a hand over the back of his neck. "I forgot." He'd been so nervous that he very nearly came over to her house sans disguise.
Marinette peered at him, giving him an odd look. The she shrugged. "Well... I guess no harm done. Just head upstairs to my room. I'll grab breakfast."
With a nod, Adrien took a step up the winding blue stairs before he paused. "If you have any cheese danishes, that would be great." If she didn't know about Plagg's dietary needs, she may very well have tried feeding the kwami tuna or beef. He was probably starving by now.
The designer cocked an eyebrow, an amused smile stretching over her lips. "Sure, I'll see if I can scrounge some up. Go on up. My parents are in the bakery. It's safe."
A moment later, Adrien realized just why Marinette looked so amused when he found Plagg pigging out on an enormous wedge of brie on the floor of her room. "I should have known," the blond said darkly, pulling himself up into her room. "Making yourself comfortable, are you?"
The kwami froze up when he saw the visitor, before he resumed his munching at a much more sedate pace. "I didn't have to do anything," Plagg sniffed. "Marinette is a very observant and astute young lady. She figured out all on her own that I like cheese. Imagine that."
The barb stung, but Adrien didn't bite. It was deserved anyway. Fiddling absently with his ring, he waited until Marinette came upstairs with a tray of fruit, cheese danishes and glasses of milk. "No chocolate chip cookies yet," she said apologetically. "It's still kind of early." Her blue eyes glanced over to the kwami, who was still eating and watching them both. "Hope it's okay that he's eating cheese. It was the only thing he ate last night."
"No, no! It's okay. It's his favorite. Loves rotten milk for some reason. It's weird, I know," Adrien assured her quickly. As he looked on the fruit and pastries, his own stomach growled. He hadn't actually eaten since breakfast the day before, being too mad during lunch and too panicked during supper. He blushed, even as Marinette giggled. Picking up a danish, he took a bite of the buttery, fluffy pastry and let out a small moan of pleasure. Marinette smiled as he fully dove into the food, eating with gusto that would have never been allowed at home.
Meanwhile, she picked Plagg up into her palm, running her fingers over his head and back. Adrien's eyes narrowed as he watched, his kwami simultaneously growing flustered under his chosen's knowing look and melting into a puddle of goo underneath Marinette's delicate fingers. Plagg looked as though he were having the time of his life. The kicker was the small, rumbling purr that emanated from the little being. A noise that Adrien never even knew he was capable of making.
Well. That made this easy then.
"I'm glad you two are getting along," he said, running his thumb along his ring once again. In a smaller, more somber tone, he said, "...You should keep him."
That froze both of them where they sat, their eyes going wide as they stared at him. Coughing lightly, Adrien went on, trying to keep a brave face even as his heart was breaking, "It's obvious he likes you better than me. You're his real chosen. And you'd make an amazing Chat Noir. I know you will. S-so, you should take this," he said as he began to slip off the ring. "I'll explain everything, I promise, but-"
"ARE YOU INSANE?!"
Both Marinette and Adrien started back, as Plagg flew up in front of Adrien's nose, a puff ball of dark, angry energy. "I told you, it doesn't work that way!" the kwami hissed, poking Adrien insistently in the nose with an indignant paw. "You can't get rid of me that easily!"
"I'm not getting rid of you! You left!" Adrien snapped, his temper finally at its final straw.
"That's a funny way of saying you dumped me in someone else's bag!"
"I didn't dump you!" the blond shrilled. "I didn't do anything of the sort! You were in my bag and you were suddenly gone! To Marinette of all people! So what was I supposed to think?!"
"Well, I didn't go into her bag willingly! I woke up in her room!"
"Well, I didn't put you there!"
Both paused, fuming and panting for breath. However, something became rather clear. Neither of them knew what actually happened. The only connection was... Both sets of green eyes turned to Marinette, who had been watching the entire exchange in silent bafflement. Then it occurred to her to speak. "O-oh! Your cat! It talks! And flies!" she said, not at all convincingly. "H-how weird is that? I mean, I never suspected that. How could I?"
The designer began to sweat as their eyes narrowed. "Well, I didn't steal him either!" she protested, getting back to the argument at hand. "I don't know how he got into my bag!" She was saved when her cell buzzed and she dove for it, "Ah! That's Alya! Sorry, gotta take this!" Making her escape, she bolted for the bathroom and for privacy.
They were still waiting for her, gazes expectant and suspicious, when she finally left the bathroom after her call. Marinette's face was flushed a rosy red, her eyes flicking between kwami and human. "Th-that was Alya," she said, wringing her hands nervously around her cellphone. "She, um, she told me that she 'borrowed' some of Adrien's books. ...From his bag. And put them into mine. She said I should return them when I got to school and she called to make sure that I didn't forget them."
Silence fell over the room.
"S-so..." Marinette squeaked, her face still warm and red, "Adrien, I presume?"
Adrien and Plagg looked at each other. "Cat's out of the bag now," the blond said, making the kwami groan into his palm. His own face flushed pink, Adrien pulled his hood back and took off the black mask. "Surprise...?" he said with a nervous laugh.
Marinette let out a shrill noise, before she clasped her hands over her treacherous mouth. She only reddened further, looking like she was about to pop. "M-Marinette? Marinette, breathe," Plagg insisted, trying to tug her hands away with his little body. "You humans need air to live."
The designer let go, taking a long gasp of breath. However, even then she only seemed capable of high pitched squeaky shrills. "You mean-! I've been-! This whole time-! And the flirting-! Then when you asked-! And you know-!"
Adrien winced, cringing with guilt. "Marinette, I'm so sorry!" he said, taking her hands and squeezing them. "I didn't mean to find out about your crush on me! I didn't want you to feel embarrassed. I hope that you're not."
Marinette let out a faintly hysterical laugh. "N-no, it's okay! It's just- I just realized. When you were asking about fixing a date with Chat Noir, you were talking about..." Her voice trailed off, her cheeks a cute rosy pink as she gave him a shy smile.
Adrien's expression fell. Oh no. He'd forgotten all about that. She probably had the wrong idea! Again! He was going to have to correct it. Let her know he wasn't asking for himself in some convoluted way. He would have to let her down easy-
"Oh!" she started, a thought suddenly occurring to her. "I nearly forgot. If you've had your secret exposed, I suppose it's only fair to share mine." With a wide grin, she called out, "Tikki, you can come out now!"
"T-Tikki?!" Plagg cried, giving a violent start. Adrien found out why a second later, when a black and red spotted little bug spirit came out of hiding.
The sweet little kwami smiled as she regarded the boys, although her smile was especially sly when she looked at Plagg. "Good morning!" she chirped, giving them a wave. "Adrien, it's very nice to meet you." Her blue eyes flicked to the destruction kwami. "Plagg," she greeted, her tone knowing and sly.
"...Tikki," Plagg greeted back grudgingly. Oh no. He was never, ever, ever going to hear the end of this.
Meanwhile, it was Adrien's turn to turn as red as a tomato, when the truth had dawned. "Y-you-!" he squeaked, rearing back to point a finger at Marinette's nose. "Y-you're her! You're Ladybug! You've been her- this entire time?! Behind me?!"
"Kinda shocking, huh?" Marinette grinned, her cheeks still bright and rosy. "So, I really couldn't have taken your jewel anyway. I'm already spoken for. I'm sorry I didn't let you know before, but I really liked our little meetups in my room. I didn't want them to end. Even though I had my eyes on a different boy," she added slyly.
"Wha- who? Oh! Oh, right me," the blond stammered. His face was already so red, he was liable to overheat and pass out from the shock and the embarrassment. Mostly the embarrassment. He let out another faint wheeze, when Marinette took his hands again.
"So..." she said, all smiles as she squeezed his fingers. "Am I right? When you were asking for a date for a kitten-eared friend, you were talking about yourself...?" she asked softly. Her dazzling blue eyes looked up at him both shy and hopeful. They were so warm and yet shone like sapphire. They took his very breath away.
That was when Adrien felt it. He glanced out of the corner of his eye, and saw two green glowing eyes glaring in his direction. Promising murder.
"...Yup," he lied, completely unrepentant. It was Ladybug, after all. Friendship only went so far. "I would be honored if you would let me take you on a date, Milady," he said, dipping his head down to press a kiss to her knuckles. He smiled as he heard her giggle, looking up to catch those bright blue eyes again.
"I would be happy to," Marinette smiled back, cheeks flushed with pleasure. "For now though, I still need to get ready for school. So shoo," she said, waving them off. "Oh, and Plagg?" Catching the attention of the very unhappy cat, she grinned and cupped him in the air to give the kwami a chaste little peck on the cheek, "Thank you for being a perfect little house guest."
It very nearly undid him. His green eyes went wide, a blush heating up his whole body like a hot water bottle, though it was hidden underneath the black fur. "N-n-no problem!" he stammered, purposefully ignoring Tikki's sly smile and Adrien's suspicious look.
Outside, on Marinette's front step, Adrien and Plagg glared at one another.
"I hope you know..." the kwami said slowly, "that this means war."
"It's hardly a contest," the blond scoffed dismissively, picking up his bag from his hiding spot to sling over his shoulder. "We already know she likes me better."
"I think you're forgetting..." Plagg said, with a light cluck of his tongue, "that I very nearly won her over as Chat without even trying." He leaned in to Adrien's nose, his eyes narrowing. "Just imagine what's going to happen when I do."
Adrien stared at him. "That's not going to work," he protested. "She's going to know it's me in there. All you're going to do is make her fall more for me."
"Adrien. Dear boy," Plagg purred, examining his tiny paws. "You and I both know you don't deserve her. Which is going to make it all the easier when Chat Noir steals her heart out from under you."
The blond's face went white, his green eyes staring at the kwami in cold indignation. At his heated green eyes. At the challenge. Maybe it was kind of an unconventional way of winning her heart, but there was no way in hell that he was going to let Marinette go. Least of all, to the one who had refused to go after her in the first place until now.
"Alright..." he spoke, "Bring it."