Continuing Tales


A Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir Story
by MidnightStarlightWrites

Part 16 of 35

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A cold breeze danced across the exposed expanse of the Trocadero, its low hiss the only sound save for the muted traffic in the distance. Marinette and Chat Noir faced each other, silent, shocked, wondering…

Marinette was panting, breathless, unable to fully comprehend the fact that Chat was there, his glowing eyes boring into her. Why? Why were they staring at each other this way? Or rather- why was he looking at her like that? Like she was an apparition come to ease his troubled soul, like he couldn't quite believe she was really here.

A heady sense of attraction settled at the top of Marinette's mind, like a hand pushing against the crown of her head. She felt herself treading towards him before she'd consciously decided to do so. Wrong, she thought, this was wrong. She wasn't Ladybug right now; she was Marinette. Thus she had to feign indifference, pretend she hadn't (to borrow a phrase from Alya) had his tongue down her throat.

Ok so that wasn't exactly how they kissed. How she kissed Chat was far nicer than that, not that there was anything wrong with having someone else's tongue down one's throat but- oh god she was getting off topic.

She swallowed thickly, determined to keep a mask of ignorance on her face (the irony was not lost on her). Still, Marinette couldn't deny the intangible strings of fate which seemed to constantly tie herself to her green-eyed partner, constantly force each other into each other's lives, constantly remind her of how they were two halves of the same whole.

Marinette wondered if there was someone like that at school, if she was constantly tripping over the boy behind Chat's mask- both metaphorically and literally. Someone she was drawn to the same way as she was to Chat Noir. Another pair of green eyes, a mop of blonde hair, and a kind smile swam into her mind's eye.

Despite inwardly shaking her head, the image remained. Once again she had to remind herself that the only reason Adrien crossed her path so often was because she was so ridiculously, pathetically hung up on him.

Knowing her, she'd missed all the signs, any little moments between Chat's alter ego and herself; passed through them like a ghost traversing through walls. Knowing her luck, she'd completely missed what was right in front of her whilst she'd been busy pining after Adrien- trying to make links between the two boys who held her heart.

She really was something else, in every negative sense of the word.

"You're here again?"

He'd spoken first, his voice deep, like he was speaking for the first time in years.

"It was my spot first, Chat," she reasoned, moving to sit beside him, surprised by the emotionless calm in her own voice. Lord she was tired, "you can't come here and scent mark my territory."

Chat chortled and she glanced up, surprised to see a layer of heaviness past his mask. He was smiling though.

Marinette didn't quite know what to make of that, so she didn't address it. Maybe Ladybug might've, but it wasn't Marinette's place to do so.

"Apologies, I didn't mean to suggest I was taking the Trocadero and marking it as my own," he acquiesced, waving a hand of surrender to her, "this is your sleepless domain, not mine."

"Glad we've settled that, Alley-Cat," she nodded, unsure if she should have used such a nickname, but too tired to really care. The scars from her earlier musings, the reminders of her romantic failures, were still quite raw. Truth be told, she'd give anything at that moment to be Ladybug- to transform and take his hand, run carefree across Paris, laughing and kissing all the way.

She smiled, small and warm at the thought, as the pair settled into a silence that was halfway between awkward and comfortable. It would come, she thought- she hoped. One day they'd know each other, hands and lives fully entwined as they transformed in front of each other. A part of her knew they were close, so close, inches away from that time. For once, she actually didn't feel the need to rush. Patience coursed through her, where it would normally prod and provoke. Maybe it was the tiredness, she couldn't find it in her to feel impatient, or perhaps it was the fact that she was- in a weird way- enjoying the ride. There were so many possibilities, so many outcomes, and where Marinette usually felt overwhelmed when there were too many paths ahead of her, he was one of her constants. The pathways were paved differently, some rough, some smooth, but they all led to the same destination. A damned good destination, she was certain.

In the small space she'd begun to carve out for herself in the world, she had a few constants; her parents, her friends and now she'd chosen him- Chat Noir- as one of them.

Subconsciously, she flopped against his side and where that should have been awkward, it wasn't. For the first time in hours, her soul felt calm. Sure she'd made some bad, ill-informed choices in her eighteen years, but he wasn't one of them. Of that she had no doubt.

Chat Noir would never, could never, be a bad decision.

In fact, her challenge for him to find her might just turn out to be the best decision she'd ever made. Marinette folded her fingers into her lap. Wrapped in a blanket of contentment, she hummed sleepily.

Chat Noir, on the other hand, was on the verge of a heart attack.

"S-sleepy?" he squawked, his voice reaching pre-pubescent pitches, and he fought the urge to bludgeon himself to death with his own baton, "I mean, you sleepy?"

Marinette nodded, thankfully not drawing attention to his faux-pas, "sorry for using you as a human cushion."

"Don't you mean cat cushion? A lot more comfortable than a pin cushion and at least four times as cuddly!" he joked, feeling more like himself than he had all night.

He hadn't meant to come here, but a part of him didn't want to go home after his patrol was done. His thoughts would be the same, locked up in his room with no escape, and they would still keep him up into the early hours. So, he'd reasoned, there was no sense in returning when the city, when his alter-ego, gave him a reason to exist outside his own troubled mind.

Before he'd known where he was heading, he'd arrived at the steps of the Trocadero and boy didn't that just sum up his life in general? He hadn't even been here for five minutes before she'd shown up; the girl who haunted his being, who he couldn't let go of even before he'd realised the full depth of his feelings.

The girl for whom his feelings refused to switch off; despite Ladybug, despite Nathanael, despite himself. His hands clenched, hating how much he enjoyed having Marinette lean against him, having her trust him so much, how his heart called to her.

Then she giggled and it was though he'd been punched in the gut. The tremors of her chuckle echoed in his bones, settled in his heart like stardust, and he knew. He was a total, complete, goner.

Oh god My Lady, I'm so sorry, he thought closing his eyes, I've fallen for the girl I thought was you.

He'd been so sure it was Marinette, but one wretched moment earlier that afternoon had plunged him into an ocean of doubt. With every passing second he felt himself sinking, deeper and deeper, away from the surface, where the light from the sun above couldn't reach.

"Ok, ok," she sat up, yawning, and god help him he missed her being by his side- the side reserved for Ladybug.

He wanted to kick himself. Three years. Three years this girl had been right behind him in class, right under his nose. Why, only when he couldn't have her, had he realised he wanted her? Did he only want her because he couldn't have her? Were his feelings really so selfish? Was he, himself, so selfish? Especially when he had Ladybug. He loved Ladybug, not Marinette! He had no right to feel this way!

You can't have your cake and eat it too, Adrien, he chided himself, you're a model. You aren't allowed cake.

"What about you Mister? Don't you have a home to go back to?" she asked curiously, quirking her eyebrow at him, completely oblivious to his inner conflict. Chat was determined to keep it that way.

"Yeah, but I seem to be a night-cat for now. I probably wouldn't be able to sleep even if I'd taken a heavy dose of catnip."

"I know the great superhero, role-model, and Parisian Prince, Chat Noir didn't just suggest he did-" Marinette pretend to gasp, throwing her hand up to her lips as she whispered the remainder of her sentence "- drugs?"

In spite of the crushing weight against his chest, Chat Noir laughed, ignoring the horrifyingly pleasant swoop of his stomach when she'd called him 'Parisian Prince.'

Kill me.

"No, not at all! Haven't you seen those posters at school?"

Marinette snorted then, reminding herself of the cheesy anti-drugs posters the police department had asked the pair of them to model for.

"Of course, of course," she nodded, standing up and posing playfully, the same way she had on the posters, dropping her voice low as she mocked her alter-ego, "after all 'Ladybug wants YOU to stay Miraculous, by saying NO to DRUGS!'"

Marinette relaxed her pose, giggling uncontrollably at how absurd her life was. To think that she was the face of anti-drugs campaigns for her peers! Chloe would probably die of shock if she ever found out. She distinctly remembered her spoiled peer running up to her to demand an autograph, despite trying to lock Marinette in an empty classroom earlier that day.

When Chat Noir didn't laugh along with her she glanced down, finding him staring at her with wide eyes, like she was the sun and he was the moon. Like she was Ladybug.

She winked.

Chat coughed, turning away, and Marinette didn't miss the pink tinge of his cheeks. A part of her internally screamed at her own boldness, at the sheer impertinence of it all.

For God's sake Marinette, you aren't supposed to be seducing the poor cat as yourself, he doesn't know you're Ladybug yet, a part of her- which sounded rather like Tikki- yelled, stop testing his loyalties.

She threw herself back down beside him, ungraciously sprawling her legs down the steps and leaning back on her palms.

Well, she thought, at least I know he's attracted to both sides of me. Or at least it kind of looks that way...maybe.

After another moment of silence, this time one-hundred-percent awkward, Chat tried to change the subject.

"What about you, Marinette? What brings you out here on another sleepless night? I'd say you should go home and get some beauty sleep but you don't-" he was halfway to finishing his flirtatious remark before he realised to whom he was speaking, and promptly snapped his mouth shut. Adrien cursed the lack of a filter he seemed to possess when he was his alter ego.

Astoundingly, Marinette didn't seem to mind, shrugging non-committedly at his remark.

"Oh I gave up on beauty sleep a long time ago," she chuckled, hovering a hand over her face, "I'd need a beauty coma to fix this mess."

Before Chat had a chance to even begin stating how insanely wrong she, Marinette continued to speak. A frown crossed her face and Chat watched, curious.

"I've just had a lot on my mind recently, and it's kind of causing an art block in my brain. I can't design any outfits up to my usual standard. Which sucks. Like- it super-duper sucks," she sulked, puffing out her cheeks, and it was only then that Chat realised how much her face had changed over the years. Her cheeks were still rounded, especially when she was deliberately making them so, but she was less like the fifteen-year-old he'd met all those years ago. Her features were more defined, dainty and cute, yet worryingly attractive. He had no doubt that she could look every bit of a model as he did if they ever did a photoshoot together. Chat swallowed, the phrase 'puberty done right' slipped into his mind before he could stop it and he tore his eyes away before they had a chance to roam any further. He could almost feel the flames of hell licking at his heels, ready to drag him down at a moments notice.

We're playing with fire Chat Noir Ladybug's voice piped up from the back of his mind.

He'd told her to let him burn. She said she never would.

She didn't account for her idiot cat to single-handedly douse himself in oil and light the match on his own.

"That sounds like an annoying purr-oblem," Chat nodded sympathetically, refusing to give into to his rebellious thoughts. He was eighteen, nearly a grown man. Above all things, he prided himself on being respectful, a gentleman both in and out of the mask, and so he forced himself to concentrate on the conversation at hand, "although I can't sym-paw-thise completely, I am not creative in the slightest."

"Seriously? Two puns in a row? You're hopeless, Chat Noir," she sighed, shaking her head fondly at him, "but really? Not creative at all?"

"No, I'm more into science, tech, those kinds of things," he replied, running a hand through his hair, a playful smirk stretched across his features as he preened, "besides I'm more of a model than a designer, wouldn't you say?"

He expected her to roll her eyes, to giggle at his silliness. When she did neither, he looked over to her, surprised to see her staring. Before he had the chance to analyse the look in her wide eyes, however, she'd turned away.

A wild thought entered his mind, taking root and sprouting several branches before he had a chance to stop it. Once, long ago, Master Fu had told him that Ladybug and Chat Noir were two halves of the same whole, two sides of the same coin. In a way, Marinette complimented Adrien similar to the way Ladybug complimented Chat Noir. Ladybug was analytical where Chat Noir was the type to rush in head-first, creation and destruction, good luck and bad.

And Marinette and Adrien? She was fire where he was water, designer and model, creative and scientific. They balanced each other out just as much as Ladybug and Chat Noir did.

But those comparisons, he thought gritting his teeth, were forbidden now. Yet every second, he drew another line between Marinette and Ladybug, and every second he despised himself for it.

She's not Ladybug, and she's not yours he thought bitterly, reminding himself of the things he'd seen and heard earlier that day. He remembered Marinette and Nathanael hand-in-hand, him spinning her the same way he'd twirled Ladybug the previous night. Chat could feel his cat-ears drooping, and he stared at his lap, trying to ignore the little twist in his gut. Marinette's had a boyfriend, Ladybug hasn't. Ladybug wouldn't lie to you about that. Those are the facts you know for certain. So get it together Agreste, and move on.

Whilst this was going on in his head, he realised Marinette had yet to reply. Chat swallowed at Marinette's silence, worried. Had he crossed the line with his model comment? It was probably too flirty. That reminded him, he still needed to apologise for their…moment earlier on in the week.

"Eh well I guess you are a model, right?" Marinette said quietly, after a pause.

His heart stopped, his head snapped back to her, mouth agape- only to find her staring up at the top of the Eiffel Tower. Slowly, her eyes slunk back to him. He could only stare, frozen.

Oh no, oh no, oh no, oh no, his mind offered helpfully.

Marinette frowned before gesturing, with a non-committal arm, to the air around them.

"The anti-drug posters?" she offered and Chat had never felt the urge to collapse in on himself with relief, never knew he could feel something akin to a collapsing star, until that moment. He didn't let it show, putting all his years of modelling experience into leaning back casually.

"Oh. Right. I never thought of that as modelling, but I guess you're right," and then he decided he desperately needed a change of topic- if only to let his poor heart recover from the shock it had just received, "so how about you tell me about your art? If you talk about it, it might un-block you?"

Although he was unsure if the advice was sage or not, he found himself curious when she stood up, walking a few steps, her head bowed in thought. Chat wondered if she was about to take his advice, or berate him. Honestly, Marinette was quite unpredictable, he'd never fully been able to figure her out. But that's what he liked about her. She kept him on his toes.

A vision of Ladybug crossed his mind and he had to fight not to bury his face in his hands.

Looks like I have a type.

"The title for my final art and design project is 'fusion', so I had the idea to create a dress inspired by my heritage," she began, brows furrowed, and Chat had to admire how quickly she seemed to switch into artist-mode. He'd been around enough designers to know she certainly sounded like one, "I guess that sounds kind of vain, making a dress revolved around my own identity, but once I got the idea I couldn't let it go. Does that sound stupid? It probably sounds stupid. The idea sounds better in my head."

Ah. There was the ramble-y Marinette he knew. He fought the smile which made the corner of his mouth twitch, though he lost to the fondness blooming in him, surrendered himself to it. She was just so…cute.

"The point is," Marinette continued, pacing, and Chat was quite sure the world had fallen away for her- that he could be swapped with a lamp-post right now and she wouldn't notice. It was far too endearing, "I know it's not particularly original, fusing cultures in fashion. Designers do it all the time, especially with Chinese couture, but this is different. It's me. It's personal. It's like I want to show the combination of cultures in me, French and Chinese. I wanted the personal touch to create this sense of…I don't know, home? That sounds weird I know, how can a dress look like home?"

She fixed him with a worried stare then, biting into her lip.

"You want it to represent who you are," he replied, thoughtfully twisting his fingers around his belt-tail, "because you yourself are a fusion of different cultures?"

The smile on Marinette's face rivalled the Eiffel tower shining behind her and, before he could fully recover from the shock of it, she'd rushed forward and grabbed his hands excitedly.

"Yes!" she cried "Yes that's exactly it!" and she dropped his hands as quickly as she'd picked them up, leaving Chat's heart in the dust as she resumed her pacing, more energetic than he'd ever seen her. It was a sight to behold.

For a brief moment he was struck by a memory. A warm room with a nostalgic, sun-lit glow; of happiness and measuring tapes teasingly twisted around a blonde ponytail, of two figures playfully throwing fabric scraps at each other, of laughter at glasses misplaced on a mannequin. Home.

Before he could help himself, Chat winced, caught off guard by the sting of the memory. That… that was a long time ago. It had been many years since he felt home in the place he lived.

No. Home meant something different entirely now.

The thought calmed him and he glanced back up to where Marinette was still ranting on- feeling both guilty and thankful she hadn't caught him mid-reminiscing.

"…and every time I tried, the Chinese influence was too forceful. It consumed the design and made the French influence near non-existent," she waved her arms in frustration, pacing faster, back-and-forth. Chat was reminded of a yo-yo, "you would think that it would be the other way around, having lived in Paris my whole damn life! But noooo, nope-ity, nope, nope! My brain has to be difficult!" she huffed, slowing down, "I just need some kind of spark, you know? A bit of inspiration, something to get the ball rolling in favour of the French side of me. But I got distracted today, and it was kind of hard to concentrate. So I haven't figured out how to find that spark yet."

Marinette deflated then, her movements stalled, her shoulders slumped. Her once vivid blue eyes dulled as she stared out at seemingly nothing.

Chat, very determinedly, decided not to press her about what distracted her; he had a fair idea and he was enjoying her company too much to pull at that thread quite yet. He knew he'd need to tug it loose eventually, but for now, he dug his heels into denial and refused to budge.

After all, his Princess (she's not your Princess!) was frustrated, upset. He regarded her quietly, the light bouncing off her delicate features, the freckles across her cheeks huddled close together as her face scrunched into a pout, her loose hair messily tumbling around one shoulder. He thought about the passion she had for her craft, her wit and intelligence-

And was suddenly struck by the greatest idea he'd ever had in his entire life.

"Chat?" Marinette enquired as he leapt to his feet, peering over at him with a curious tilt of her head.

"I know a place that might help you," he breathed excitedly, his smile widening with every passing moment, "it will take a little while to get there but I really think it might give you the inspiration you're looking for, that is- umm- if you want to go?"

She blinked, letting the words sink in for what seemed- to Chat- like an eternity. That is, until her mouth twisted into a teasing smirk which had his hand half-reaching for his heart, as if he could calm it that way.

"Are you asking me out on a date?" she drawled, leaning her torso towards him, the very picture of a siren.

Even before the last word slipped from her tongue, Chat Noir felt his face violently bursting into flames. Stumbling back, he waved frantic hands in her direction.

"D-date?! No! No not a date, I didn't mean anything indecent, I swear on my Miraculous, no I- well Ladybug- and- you see it's not that-"

She saved him from his floundering with a loud snicker, shoulders shaking with mirth.

"You're a good friend, Chat Noir," she chuckled, "and entirely too easy to tease."

Chat exhaled, short and sharp, through his nose.

"Marinette," he said, only to frown when her eyes widened, his earlier blush transferred to her, but he was too busy glowing at her calling him a friend to put too much thought into her reaction, "one of these days you're going to make me faint."

"Now that I'd like to see," she nodded, skipping down the steps- humming tunelessly as she went. Glancing over her shoulder at him, she raised a curious eyebrow in his direction, "So, Chat Noir, where are you taking me?"

There was something challenging in her gaze which made Chat Noir stand up taller, and he followed her down the steps to stand by her side. Pulling his baton from its mini holster, and spinning it a few times around his fingers for good measure (not to show off, of course) he fixed Marinette with a wicked grin.

"Don't worry," he replied, and now it was his turn to wink, "you'll see."


A Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir Story
by MidnightStarlightWrites

Part 16 of 35

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