Footsteps.

Deceptively soft against the frosted concrete behind her.

Marinette sneaks another glance at the man behind her, trying to relax her body. Her heart beats wildly in her chest as she passes under another street light, his soft prowl seeming loud and dangerous in the empty streets of Paris.

Marinette softly swears and grips the bag holding Tikki tightly as she once again steps into the semi-dark.

She would have been home already if she had been smart, but Tikki was so tired after the akuma attack, Marinette had a lapse in judgement and decided to walk home.

She tightened her grip on her purse strap.

Which was the wrong choice.

Breathing shallowly, Marinette runs through the remaining options in her head for the millionth time.

-Keep walking till I can sprint to the bakery door

-Try to lose him so I can transform into Ladybug

-Try to out run him

All the options are looking pretty sketchy by now, and Marinette isn't sure it's the best idea to let him find out where she lives. Her pulse thunders in her ears and she takes deceptively confident steps across what seems like the thousandth street she's crossed since she noticed her little shadow. If it comes to it, she can try to fight him, although she isn't sure how strong she'll be not transformed.

The itch to look behind her becomes too strong to ignore, and she risks another peek over her shoulder, pretending to look at the street sign to her left.

He's closer than she thought, his form jumping out at her from the corner of her eye. She watched his hooded form long enough to make out most of his features, besides his eyes, which was shaded with a black hood. His mouth curled into a smile.

Heart hammering, Marinette jerks her head forward, silently pleading that she'll make it tonight. Her new platforms squeak and crunch against the concrete, sounding more like some hungry creature than shoes.

The itch comes back more intensely this time, and Marinette turns her head just in time to miss the unfortunately placed curb in her path. Her boot hits the curb and she gasps as she's sent sprawling to a bed of concreate. Her body slaps the ground, pain lacing up her elbow. Gritting her teeth and pressing her stinging palms into the ground, she scrambles to get up.

She sprints, every nerve on fire and screaming that danger is behind her. Wild and panicked gasps shoot through her chest, sounding desperate even to her. She looks behind her again, no longer trying to be subtle.

He's close, too close and gaining on her. She turns around, letting out a piercing scream right before she's tackled from behind. Self-preservation kicked into full drive, she screams and fails against the arms tightly wrapped around her. A calloused hand clamps over her mouth, cutting off the screams no one would hear. Tears prick her eyes, and she tries to bite the hand, growling.

Tikki.

Marinette's eyes bugged with she realized her friend was still sleeping in the bag that was pinned to her side. She'll have to drop her bag somehow without the man noticing when he drags her away. Maybe if the kwamni wakes in time, she'll bring Chat Noir and save her.

A burning tear streaks down her face as her arms are roughly pulled behind her, a heavy knee pinning her to the concrete. She bites at the hand again, nipping enough skin for him to yank his hand away.

"I don't have any money," She spits, resisting the urge to dissolve into hysterics.

The hand comes back a second later, along with a stream of hot breath on her neck.

"I don't want money," he grunts against her skin, releasing her hands long enough to skim the length of her spine. Her body goes hot and then cold, the shiver in her bones making her want to throw up. She bites again, harder, and breaks out of the wall of arms enough to scramble to her feet.

"Chat! Chat Noir!" She gasps, knowing her friend is tucked away at home by now.

"Help! CH-" her cries are cut off as she's slammed to the ground, stars exploding beneath her eyes as her head collides with the ground with a sickening crack. Her head throbs as she's pulled back and flipped on her back, too dazed to think straight.

"Where to go...," She thinks she hears him say, but the pounding in her skull makes it hard to concentrate. She closes her eyes for a moment; the dark doing little to sooth the beast in her head.

A sharp clang off to the left makes her wince, almost making her miss the alarmed curse from her attacker. She opens her eyes, forcing herself to pay attention. A blur of black and gold lands in front of her, facing the panicked criminal as he tries to scramble away. Another clang along with the sound of an object sailing through the air as it meets it's mark. The criminal howls and runs, favoring his right leg.

Marinette lets out a small gasp as she connects the dots, staring into the green eyes of Chat Noir as he turns around. She's never been happier to see her best friend. His green eyes stayed on hers long enough to narrow in concern before flicking back to her attacker, cursing when the criminal ducks into an ally. He chases after him and disappears around the corner, leaving Marinette by herself.

With shaky hands she pushes herself up, lifting the crumpled bag and unhooking the latch. Tikki zooms out, tears in her eyes. "Marinette, I'm so sorry! I didn't know what to do or how to help you. I couldn't get ou-"

She cuts off the kwami by hugging the bug to her chest, overwhelmed with relief. When Marinette lets her go, a tear escapes from the kwami's eyes as she drinks in her appearance. "Ouch," she whispers and ghosts a limb across Marinette's cheek. Suddenly, Tikki streaks away, hiding back in Marinette's pink bag. She doesn't have to look to know that Chat has returned.

"Thanks," she rasps once he was closer.

"Not a problem, my princess," he holds out a hand and she takes it, surprised at how easily he drags her up.

He, too takes in her appearance and winces.

"Ouch," He says, echoing Tikki.

Marinette shrugs, rubbing her sore elbow unconsciously. "It would have been a lot worse if you hadn't shown."

She tries for a nonchalant laugh, but it comes out as more of a sob. She runs her fingers through her hair, trying to keep herself from falling apart.

"Hey, hey it's okay," Chat tries to sooth her, although she can hear the underlying sense of panic. Sometimes it's hard to remember that Chat doesn't know this part of her.

A hand falls on her shoulder and she sniffs, subtly pulling away and rubbing her burning eyes.

"I'm sorry," she tries for a watery smile, "you probably get this a lot." A tear slips from her eyes and drips down her cheek before she could catch it.

She looks away and scrubs her face, embarrassed. Ladybug shouldn't be so easily frazzled, especially from something so insignificant.

Chat hesitates, opening his mouth as if about to say something, but closing it at the last second. His helplessness is written all over his face, and had it been in a different situation, Marinette would have laughed. But instead, she secures the bag holding Tikki on her waist and straightens her spine in what hopes to be a confident pose, although her body was aching.

"Well," she says business like, nodding towards Chat, "thank you for saving me."

She's halfway down the street before he lands in front of her, halting her path with his lithe form.

"What're you doing?" He asked. His voice is back in its normally playful tone, and internally she sighs in relief.

"I'm walking home," she tries, keeping the shiver going up her spine out of her voice. She wasn't looking forward to picking a dark alley to transform in.

He stops her again, grabbing her waist before she could react and scooping her into his arms.

"Ha, nope." He uses his baton to fling them both into the air, propelling them over the rooftops of Paris. Marinette yelps as they land, arms automatically going around his neck.

"Hey," she complains, squirming, "put me down."

He snorts, looking down at her in amusement. "And let you run around Paris tonight? Not a chance."

He tightens his grip and takes another leap, the cool air stinging both of their faces.

Marinette tries to ignore how close she was to him, and how his scent tickled her nose in a very not unpleasant way. Her whole body felt hot, and it made her feel jittery.

"The bakery is ov-"

"-I remember," he shot her a lopsided grin, "I've been there once a-paw-n a time."

Marinette purses her lips.

They arrive on her rooftop silently, the city's few population of crickets humming softly. He puts her down, hands lingering on her waist before stepping back.

The moonlight just barley illuminates his silhouette, his golden mop of hair shining in the faint light. Marinette fights back a smile as he rubs the back of his neck, a nervous habit of his.

"So," she said casually, walking over to her garden. She lifts the delicate petal of a lilac and sniffs the flower, looking up at him curiously.

"How did you know I was in trouble?"

He relaxes at the question, leaning on the black railing besides him. He flicks one of his cat ears and smiles. "Cat hearing. It's a little known fact that these ears aren't more than accessory."

Marinette tried to stifle her surprise, but by the way Chat laughed, it was pretty apparent. She dropped the waxy petal and took a step forward, brushing a piece of loose hair behind her ear.

"How much more than accessory?"

She took another step, noticing when he swallowed and pushed away from the fence. She hesitated, wondering what his reaction would be to her request.

"Can... can I touch them?"

Immediately her face went red at the implications of such an obviously intimate gesture. She took a step back, blushing furiously.

"I'm sor-"

"-sure."

She looked at him, startled. Her arms dropped.

"Really?" She said, now stepping closer. Maybe it wasn't as intimate as she thought...

He coughed, crossing his arms. "I don't see a reason to say no."

She was close enough to reach up and bury her hands in his silky locks, but she hesitated, frowning.

"You've met me like twice, Chat Noir. I could think of a few reasons for you to say no."

He simply shrugged, the moonlight glistening off his leather. "I trust you."

Marinette dropped her hands, appalled. "What?"

Concern for her best friend filled her lungs, making it hard to breathe.

"With that kind of mentality you'll be captured or hurt...or killed."

A fresh wave of hysteric tears prick her eyes, and she blinks furiously. He starts to speak, but she cuts him off.

"-No, that's unacceptable." She snapped, the traitorous tears in her eyes softening her response. She broke his gaze, looking instead to the floor. Chat stood wide-eyed as he watched Marinette struggle.

A few seconds pass before a pair of hesitant arms wrap around her. Her chin rested on his shoulder and immediately her arms wound around his waist. Marinette's heartbeat picks up as his soothing voice ghosts over her shoulder.

"Hey, shh, it's okay."

She shivers with emotion, blinking away tears.

"I'm not going to be captured, okay? I won't let that happen. And Marinette, I trust you because Ladybug trusts you. I don't trust just anyone."

Marinette shakily inhales, his pure and unconditional devotion to Ladybug reaching for her like a slap in the face. And just like that, she's crying; hot and raw tears pouring down her cheeks. Chat just holds her as she quietly cries into his shoulder, waiting until she's ready.

"I'm sorry," she blubbers into his shoulder, "I'm usually not this unstable."

He laughs, the rumble in his chest vibrating against Marinette's ears.

"Honestly, you've held up longer than most of the girls I've saved. There's just something about a life or death situation that'll shake up some of the strongest nerves."

This makes her feel a little better, so she peels her face away from his shoulder, cringing at the mess she left.

"Ewe, that's disgusting."

He laughed again, surprisingly happy with the way things played out.

"Nothing a little dry cleaning won't fix, unless you'd like to hose me down yourself." He wagged his eyebrows suggestively.

Marinette fake gasped and hit him on the non-slobbered shoulder, easily falling into the banter and forgetting her tears.

"Don't get ahead of yourself... I thought cats didn't like water."

"Ah, but you see," he narrowed his eyes, smiling, "It all depends on the mew-ment. A cat could definitely be cohered into a bath with the right purr-suasion."

Marinette choked down a grin, unable to stop her next words.

"You're paw-sitively claw-ful, Chat."

Marinette slapped a hand over her mouth as Chat practically glowed with excitement. A mischievous grin spread across his face. He stared advancing, making Marinette back away.

"Why princess, I didn't know you had it in you," he purred.

Her back hit the wall, and she gulped, eyeing her best friend cautiously. His lithe form loomed over her, not quite trapping, but making escape somewhat difficult. Her heart gave a big thump.

"Um..." Marinette hedged, voice still thick from her tears. Chat Noir smiled as if sharing a private joke before leaning in, closing the small distance. Body on fire and pulse racing, Marinette holds her breath, unable to do anything but watch. His face gets close enough to smear into a blob of black and gold before he turns and misses her face, leaning instead close to her ear.

"Sleep tight." He whispered, and pulled away to jump off her balcony. Her body went cold from the lack of his added heat as her mind raced to catch up.

"Chat Noir!" She yelled, marching over to grip the railing. She could faintly hear laughter in the distance, already far from the bakery. Marinette shook her fist at the nearby buildings, her elbow stinging with the motion.

"Boys," she huffed, dropping her arm.

HI GUYS!

For now this little thang will stay an oneshot, although I might come back later and make it into something moreā€¦

ANyway,

I've been suffering from writers block and a busy schedule so I haven't been able to update much of anything. I have some oneshots I've been working on forever, so those will probably be up soon...hopefully lol. I plan on continuing King of the School, although the name will most definitely change in the near future.

Thank you to SonicELITE for messaging me

:D stay happy

-DrowningInFeelz