i know this is late, but happy birthday Janai! You're such a fun, amazing person and I've really enjoyed getting to know you. hope you like this!


little kitty on a hotel roof, wearing his ladybug boxers

Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep!

Adrien aimed for Chloe's hotel, the black material of his transformation vanishing even as his bare feet landed on the rooftop and triggered a few of the motion sensor lights that rimmed the pool. Phew. That was a close one.

"Cheese," Plagg rasped as if he was on his death throes.

"Yeah, yeah, I—"

Plagg let out a small gasp and zipped out of sight. Oh no. Adrien's heart plummeted like it had been pushed off a high cliff, sinking down, down, down. He slowly turned around. On the stairwell side of the pool, clad in pink pyjamas, stood Marinette. She held a macaron to the air as if about to spout a dramatic soliloquy to it. Her gaze was fixed on him, her jaw hanging.

Crap, crap, crap.

"I-I can explain!" he said, holding his hands up.

"Did you see?" she cried at the same time.

He blinked. "What?"

"What?"

They stared at each other.

She whipped the hand that held the macaron down to her side. "N-nothing. I'm just—I'm surprised to see you here."

"Right." He laughed nervously as he walked over to her, ruffling the back of his hair and using the seconds to think of an excuse. "I'm, uh, staying with a friend here tonight."

"Oh?"

He nodded, hoping that his smile didn't look as strained as it felt. He swore his cheeks were going to split like Kim's gym shorts after the hundredth squat if he maintained it any longer. "Yeah. Just thought I'd come up for some fresh air."

"Of course." Her gaze dipped to his red and black-spotted pyjama t-shirt, complete with matching boxers, and then snapped back to his face. "That makes sense."

He gestured awkwardly at her. "And you?"

Her expression froze. "Me? I—I was sleepwalking."

"Sleepwalking?"

"Yes."

He glanced from her face to the macaron. "With a macaron?"

Her left eye twitched. "Yes."

Laughter bubbled free of his lips. "You must really like macarons."

Another eye twitch. "I sure do. That's me, macaron girl." She stuffed the whole macaron into her mouth, crumbs sticking to her lips and spilling to the floor. "Mm, just can't get enough of these." More eye twitching. "You know, because I really love macarons." She swallowed and pulled finger guns.

Creases formed on his brow. Never mind the fact that she had somehow managed to sleepwalk to the hotel, let alone the roof, but she wasn't looking too well. Her cheeks were pale and her expression reminded him of Mylène's whenever Ivan performed a new love song for her—her smile locked in place and toothy bright, but her eyes were a scream captioned with: "When Love Makes You Its Fool, and You Can't Find the Exit." Either that or Chloé when she actually had to play nice with her classmates.

"Hey, are you okay?" he asked.

"Huh?"

"You just don't seem quite yourself and, uh, your eye keeps twitching."

She belted out a laugh, waving her hand in a dismissive manner. "Oh, that. I just have an eyelash stuck in my eye." Her left eye twitched at him like a glitchy wink. "See? Real stubborn."

He frowned. "Do you want me to help you get it out?"

"No, no, no!" She waved her arms in a cross formation, stepping back. "I—"

"Marinette!"

He lunged towards her as she yelped and tumbled for the pool. His hand linked with hers, but gravity was already working its inevitable, tragic magic. There was a moment where their eyes meet in mutual alarm, then her pink bag went flying past him—tossed in a last second ditch to keep it dry—and they hit the water with a splash. Water got up his nose. His eyes stung, and it was a struggle not to get all tangled up with her like a fishing line. Her body bumped and slid against his, and her hair brushed his face in feathery, underwater caresses.

Their fingers interlocked. Perfectly in sync, they reorientated themselves and kicked their way up, breaking through the surface with twin gasps for air and spraying little droplets everywhere. He pushed his sopping hair out of his face.

"Well, I think we can safely say that eyelash is no longer in your eye," he said straight-faced.

Her lips twitched, his own quivered, and then they were both laughing and struggling to keep themselves above water. Just two teenagers cracking up at a joke that wasn't even that funny. Neither had let go of the other's hand.

Her giggles subsided, softening into a smile that warmed her eyes. Warmed and welcomed. She was so close. Flutters stirred in his chest—delicate, soaring. They were dandelion seeds slipping beyond his reach before he could catch and understand them. Her smile only got warmer.

"What?" he said, tilting his head.

"You don't laugh like that often." She gave a little shrug, brushing wet strands of hair away from her eyes. "I like it when you do."

His eyes widened and heat burned its way across his cheeks.

She let out a strangled squeak, releasing his hand, her face glowing pink. "I-I mean because you're my friend and obviously I like it when my friends are happy."

"I—"

"Not that I don't think you're cute." Another squeak. "Did I say cute? I meant hoot! You're a hoot because you're so funny." She laughed, rigid and loud.

His expression melted. "Thank you, Marinette. I think you're a hoot, too."

She bit her lip, the pink glow darkening. It was the kind of blush he'd seen a thousand times on her, but this moment felt different. The delicate flutters in his stomach were back and he had a strange urge to move closer, to maybe touch her shoulder or cup her heated cheek.

"We should probably get out of the pool," she said.

He blinked. "R-right."

They clambered out of the pool, both of them dripping with water. Instantly, the shivers started.

"Wish I had a towel right now," Marinette said through chattering teeth.

"I don't have a towel, but …" He held out his arms in offer. "Maybe it would help?"

"Y-you mean hug?"

He shrugged, rubbing the base of his neck. "You don't have to. I just thought—"

"No!"

He closed his mouth. "Oh. Okay."

That didn't sting. Not a bit. He totally didn't want to cry because she had rejected him as if he was some stinky sock trying to masquerade as a glove.

"I-I mean," she said softly, glancing at him from under her eyelashes, "no, I do. Thanks."

His heart stuttered. He closed the distance between them, wrapping his arms around her. She snuggled in close. Still wet. Still cold. Still shivering. He wasn't sure if it was doing anything for either of them, but he had to admit that he liked being close to her like this.

"Adrien?"

"Yeah?"

"Um, did … you have something in your shirt pocket?"

His entire body went rigid. The slice of camembert.

He pulled back from her, patting at his chest. Whatever was left in his pocket was gooey, sticky mush. Oh no. Did it seep through the cloth onto her or something? Did she touch it and feel it go squish?

He closed his eyes, fingers curling into his palms. "I am so sorry."

"It's okay."

"It's really, really not."

Plagg. This was all Plagg's fault. Why couldn't he be like Ladybug's kwami and like macarons or—

Wait, macarons.

Marinette on a rooftop where she shouldn't be, at a time where she shouldn't be, holding a macaron to the air as if in offering or about to deliver a soliloquy.

His eyes snapped open. He stared at her: black hair, blue eyes, freckles sprinkled on her cheeks. Same height, same build. "I can't be this lucky," he whispered.

She tilted her head. "What?"

"Ladybug?"

Her eyes went round. "What?"

He clamped his hands over his mouth.

"Adrien, what—I don't—why are—"

"Because my pyjamas are Ladybug themed!" He laughed nervously and gestured at his red and black-spotted pyjamas. "See?"

Please accept it.

Much as he wanted to jump up and down in delight and hug her until both of their ribs hurt, the rules held him back. No sharing identities. No removing masks, no dropping hints, no fishing for clues. The rules had been very clear about that. If it came to it, he'd pretend he'd never figured out anything tonight. It would suck, but he'd do it.

Except the cogs were already turning in her mind. She had that look in her eyes that she got whenever she tried to figure out a Lucky Charm. Crap, crap, crap. He knew it was over when she looked him up and down, from his bare feet to the pocket of cheesy sadness, and then finally to his face.

"No way," she breathed. "You're Chat Noir."

"I'm sorry," he groaned, covering his face with his hands.

"Why are you saying sorry?"

"Because we aren't supposed to know each other's identity, and Plagg's cheese ruined everything, and I know you'll probably have to take my miraculous away now, but I don't want to lose Plagg or you or—"

"Kitty, kitty." She gripped his shoulders. "No one's losing anything."

He raised his face, blinking the stinging prickles from his eyes.

"I'm the guardian now."

"But—"

"You're my partner." Her hands slid up to cup his face. "You're the only Chat Noir I want at my side."

He sniffed, a small smile tugging at his lips. "Are you saying to hell with the rules?"

Her eyes twinkled. "Maybe."

"Does that mean I can hug you now?"

She hugged him instead, surprising him with the intensity. Not that he minded. He wrapped his arms around her waist—tighter than before—and dared to pick her up, spinning her around and around. Laughter bubbled free of her lips. It was infectious. His eyes crinkled as he joined in, unrestrained and warm.

When he lowered her to the ground and met her gaze, the flutters stirred once more in his stomach. This time he understood.

"Can I ask you something?" he whispered.

"What?"

"Are you still in love with that boy?"

Pink dusted her cheeks. "Why?"

"Because I love you. Whether you're wearing a mask or standing here as my friend, I love you."

Her eyes widened and her mouth formed a small O.

"Marinette." He clasped her hand, though gently enough that she could pull away with no effort. "Please tell me that I have a chance."

She stared and stared. It was like something had broken in her brain. Then a smile trembled free on her lips and her fingers interlocked with his. "Yeah," she said. "Yeah, I think we can safely say you do."

His grip tightened. "Wait, really?"

"Adrien, you are the boy."

His jaw dropped. "No. You're joking."

She shook her head. "I've been in love with you for so long, I—"

He laughed and scooped her back up into his arms. "Yes!"

The bright sound of her giggles rang free. He almost pulled her in for a kiss before he paused, his face heating.

"Um, sorry," he said, moving to put distance between them. "Got a bit carried—"

She grabbed his collar and tugged him back in, crashing her lips against his. Just BAM! Smoosh. His eyes bulged like starstruck moons. His heart tripped over itself, struggling to function when every nerve and thought was a scream of, Holy heck, it's happening, boys! It's really happening! The love of his life was kissing him, and this time he would actually get to remember it. Well, unless another akuma turned up right now and decided to ruin everything. Or maybe he'd fall over and hit his head and lose all of his memories.

Man, that would suck.

She smiled against his lips. "Are you going to kiss me or not?"

Yes. Kissing. He could do that.

He tilted his head for a better angle and kissed her like he had always dreamed of doing. Well, as much as a teenage boy with little experience could. It was a bit fumbling. Probably would have been safer to stay with the close-lipped smoosh. But he had feelings he wanted to express, dang it, and she was more than eager to try.

Yeah, not quite the fireworks and magic people liked to proclaim. Still, kissing her felt nice and It was even better once they found their rhythm.

"Are you two done yet?" Plagg demanded.

Adrien groaned and shot a dark look at Plagg, who had emerged from one of the bushes. "You have the worst timing, you know."

"You ruined my cheese, kid. You deserve it."

"It's not like I meant to fall into the swimming pool!"

"And I didn't mean to destroy the dinosaurs, yet here we are."

Marinette giggled. "Hi, Plagg."

Plagg raised his chin. "You're in disgrace too, pigtails."

"Oh, leave them alone," Tikki said, floating over to join them. "It was an accident."

Adrien rubbed the base of his neck. "I guess we probably should get home, though. We're both wet and cold, and it would be bad if someone found us up here." He bit his lip. "Um, since Plagg's recharge cheese is ruined, do you think you could transform and take us home?"

It was like a pink explosion on Marinette's cheeks. "Oh. About that." She laughed awkwardly and ducked her head. "I, uh, kinda panicked earlier and ate the only macaron."

He blinked. "You mean we're stuck up here?"

"Yeah."

Well, dang.

Tikki patted Marinette on the head. "Don't worry, I'll get something from your kitchen. You two just wait here."

"Great," Plagg said. "Then I'll—"

"Nope." Tikki nabbed his paw. "You're coming with me."

Adrien watched the two kwamis swoop off in the direction of the bakery, then turned back to Marinette. "Sorry about Plagg. He's …"

"Plagg?"

He laughed. "Yeah."

She stepped closer, tucking her hand in his. "I don't mind. I think I can get used to him."

He smiled a bit shyly. "What about having me as a boyfriend?"

"You as a boyfriend?" Her eyes twinkled and she squeezed his hand. "Yeah, I think I can get used to that, too."