Ladybug held out her hand for a fist bump after the duo defeated yet another akuma. Chat Noir responded by pulling out a pink rose. "My Lady, we've been working together for so long now and I can't ignore this any longer. I know you said there was someone else but I beg you, just give me a chance."
She looked at him, sorrow evident in her eyes. "I'm sorry, Chat Noir, I just don't like you that way. You're an incredible partner and my best friend and I wouldn't swap you for the world but that's it. I don't hold any romantic feelings towards you, I'm sorry."
He sighed, defeated, and put the rose away. "Ok. Pound it?" He held out his fist and tried to keep his sadness down.
She smiled and bumped it. "Pound it." Her earring started beeping and she swung off into the sunset. Chat Noir used his pole to parkour on top of a tall building and sat. He had let himself hope too much and he'd set himself up for disappointment. He could feel the tears threatening to spill. 'No,' he thought. 'I can't leave myself vulnerable to akumatisation.' He stood up and began vaulting through the night towards the one house he knew he could get comfort from, even in his superhero form.
Ladybug landed on her balcony and detransformed. Tikki took the macaroon she offered her and began eating. She thought back to the conversation she'd just had. "I feel so bad for letting Chat Noir down," she told Tikki.
"It's not your fault that you don't hold any romantic feelings towards him and you can't force yourself to endure something for the sake of someone else's happiness. I'm sure he understands."
She nodded, feeling a little better. She watched the sunset in front of her before going to work on her homework.
She had only been working for about 10 minutes before she heard a knock at her window. She looked up and saw Chat Noir standing there, looking in. He looked like he was almost crying as she ran to the window and let him in. "Are you ok Chat? What happened?"
"I tried asking Ladybug out again. You're smart enough to guess how that went. I just… I didn't want to be alone," he said, before wrapping his arms around her. He began crying onto her shoulder as she stood, shocked for a second. Hesitantly she wrapped her arms around him as well.
They stood like that for a short while before he pulled away. Wiping his eyes, he muttered, "Thanks, Marinette," and turned to leave.
"Wait!" she shouted. "Where are you going?"
"I didn't want to bother you too much. I know you have school tomorrow and I didn't want to stay too long."
"I can't very well leave you on your own tonight, can I? Not only could you get akumatised but you're also my friend, and you don't have to deal with this alone." He smiled gratefully and she lead him to her chaise. He wrapped his arms around her again and snuggled into her side.
"Thank you, Marinette. This means the world to me, you know that?" She nodded, resting her head on his.
They sat, mostly in silence, for about half an hour before she asked, "So, you really love her then?"
"Of course I do. She's incredible. She's selfless, brave, smart, incredibly beautiful." For some reason, Marinette felt her heartbeat skip as he spoke. "She's sassy and even plays along with some of my jokes sometimes. I don't think I could ask for a better partner."
'Neither could I,' she thought to herself.
"I could go on all night about how incredible she is. She's saved me from the influence of akuma so many times that I'm starting to question what I actually do."
"Hey!" Marinette interrupted. "Don't say that. You are just as important as Ladybug and she couldn't do what she does without you. You aren't a sidekick or comic relief. You are her partner, and you play just as important a role as she does. It's just a shame that the rest of Paris doesn't realise it. You are important!"
"I know, it just… it doesn't always feel like that. God, she's incredible. I don't care if she doesn't love me, I'd give my life for her. No matter what she says."
She felt her cheeks begin to heat up slightly. She knew he thought highly of her but all this ranting was making her flustered. "I'm sure she'd do the same for you." She told him.
He nodded in agreement. "I know, that's what makes her so amazing." He looked up at the clock on the wall. "I'd better get going now. Don't want people to notice my absence. Thank you, Marinette, for everything," he told her, gratefully.
He walked out onto the balcony before turning back to her. "See you around, Princess." He took her hand and kissed the back of it.
She waved at him as he leapt away, her mouth hanging open slightly. "Go… good… gah. Woah, why am I stuttering?" She suddenly realised he hadn't made a single pun all night. Everything he'd said had been one hundred percent serious and sincere. She'd never seen this side of him. She always thought he was just a flirtatious, jokey cat. She thought back to the conversation they'd had and she realised how close they'd been. Her cheeks heated up as a blush started to creep slowly up her neck.
Tikki flew out of her purse and began giggling. "I might have an idea."
Marinette glared at her before walking down off her balcony to get ready for bed. "Shut up, Tikki. You know I only have eyes for Adrien," she insisted but even then, she was still unsure herself.