Author's Note: Just an FYI, I decided to give the first three chapters a revamp so if you've read this before you'll find it's been expanded on. Enjoy!
The scorching summer sun beat down harshly from the cloudless sky. Marinette rolled out her towel on the hot concrete beside the pool and cautiously sat, hoping she didn't bake her backside. Slipping off her shoes and adjusting her hat, she positioned herself close to the cool water and dipped her toes. As she settled in she winced at the poke of her lollipop stick in her hip pocket. Drawing it out, she turned to Alya as she set up beside her. "I can't believe how hot it is."
Alya adjusted her sunglasses and fanned herself with her hat as she glanced at the people milling around the rooftop pool. "I know, I just hope there's no akuma attacks today. It's too hot to be racing around."
Marinette swished her feet in the water as she peeled the plastic from her lollipop "I wonder what Adrien is doing today."
A broad smirk spread across Alya's face. "Hmm, he's probably chilling out. Nino told me he has a spa bath in his ensuite. Chances are he's relaxing in it with nothing on."
A choking noise sounded from Marinette as she spat her lollipop into her hands and shot her best friend a dirty look.
Laughing hard, Alya attempted to apologise. "Sorry, I couldn't resist."
"That image is going to be stuck in my head forever." She placed the lollipop back in her mouth and washed her hands in the water.
Alya threw her a sly look. "You mean you hadn't thought about it already?"
A slow smile formed on Marinette's face as she visualised what her friend insinuated while she pulled the lollipop from her lips. "Oh, not that particular scenario but something similar." They both giggled.
"You've got to ask him out girl."
The smile on Marinette's face dropped. "You know what I'm like around him. I get so flustered just trying to spit out what I'm attempting to say. He probably thinks I need speech therapy."
"It's a confidence thing. You need to act like you're talking to someone you're comfortable with." Alya suddenly gave her a wicked grin, "Besides, there are ways to communicate without words. I mean what if he was in that bath and you just happened to join him, no words required."
Marinette's cheeks grew pink and she turned to look at her toes, twitching them in the water. "But that's never going to happen."
Alya laughed, "Honestly what would you do if you found Adrien naked?"
Marinette wiggled her eyebrows, lifted her lollipop to her lips and ran her tongue around the circumference before slowly sucking it into her mouth.
Alya laughed harder. "See no words required."
The pair were so busy laughing that they didn't notice the figure looming beside the large potted plant. From beneath a wide brimmed sun hat Chloe raised an eyebrow, she'd caught that last exchange on video with her phone and she knew just what to do with it.
There were many benefits when living in a mansion. One of them being temperature control. Outside might have been scorching but Adrien sat comfortably on his sofa channel surfing as he stared at his TV with increasing boredom. He'd asked his father if Nino could come over, the poor guy was roasting at home, but as usual the answer was no.
With his lips dipping into a frown, the blonde was about to switch off the TV when his phone buzzed on the coffee table. Quirking an eyebrow, Adrien swiped his phone to see he'd received a new group message from Chloe. The note was brief. 'It's amazing what you overhear at the pool…' Attached was a video clip. It wasn't uncommon for Chloe to send him clips of things she found amusing and he generally watched them to be polite, so without further thought he hit play.
A minute later the phone fell from his fingers as he stared blankly at his empty hand in shock. It was the sort of talk he sometimes overheard from strangers who believed he was out of earshot but this, it was something else. He'd immediately identified Marinette, who was the primary target on the clip, and he recognised Alya's voice posing the question as her profile came into view: "Honestly what would you do if you found Adrien naked?"
That alone had him sitting back in surprise, then Marinette answered her in a way that both intrigued and angered him. His heart was pounding against his ribcage as the image of her tongue circling the lollipop filled his mind. So many girls flocked to him because he was a model and they liked what they saw. It wasn't uncommon for him to be objectified but he'd thought things were different with Marinette. Now he was beginning to question that. Did she see him as nothing more than a pretty face too? He sighed as he thought of when he first met her, she hadn't been a fawning fan girl then, perhaps she was genuinely attracted to him.
That presented another set of problems. Running an agitated hand through his hair, Adrien let out a groan. Surely this was just a joke between friends that was never meant for his hearing. He picked up his phone which began pinging with notifications from people replying to Chloe's message. Adrien turned his phone to silent and laid it face down on the table.
Mortification didn't even cover what Marinette was feeling right now. She had been horrified when she discovered what Chloe had done. Recording her was humiliation enough but to send it to the whole class was a new level of low. Worst of all, there was no doubt that Adrien had seen it too. Her face burned with embarrassment as she walked into class, her head tucked down in shame as she slid behind her desk.
Glancing sideways, she caught a few sympathetic looks from her friends. Kim made a snide comment about lollipops to which Chloe and Sabrina laughed. A hush fell over the classroom as Adrien walked in. He looked impeccable as usual, but a scowl darkened his face as he scanned the room briefly before taking his seat.
Chloe cleared her throat to get his attention, "So Adrikins, you got a lollipop for Marinette?"
Marinette sank lower in her seat as a couple of sniggers sounded. They were quickly silenced as Adrien threw a glare so harsh on Chloe that everyone was stunned. There was a venom to his voice no one had ever heard from him before, "What you did was despicable, Chloe."
She tried to wave him off. "It was only a joke."
He turned to face her directly. "You need to apologise to Marinette."
Chloe scoffed, "She needs to watch what she says in public."
A dangerous glint lit his eyes as he lowered his head menacingly. "Apologise."
The pampered brat huffed and crossed her arms, "Fine. I'm sorry Marinette."
"Say it like you mean it," Adrien growled.
Chloe rolled her eyes and looked at Marinette, "I'm sorry."
An uncharacteristic snarl sounded from Marinette as she thumped a fist on the desk. "Don't do anything like that again."
The girl flicked her blonde ponytail over her shoulder and turned away with a shrug.
Marinette peered at Adrien through her bangs. "I-I'm sorry," she croaked sheepishly, feeling beyond awkward.
Green eyes soften with sympathy. "It's okay. I know that wasn't meant for my hearing."
She flushed, dipping her head to conceal her eyes with her dark hair as she studied the woodgrain pattern in the desk. When Alya slid into her seat Marinette was eternally grateful for the gentle squeeze to her shoulder in support. With a wane smile now eclipsing her frown, she was glad when the teacher walked in and began the lesson.
After the awkwardness of school, Adrien had been almost relieved when there'd been an akuma sighting. He'd eagerly transformed into his alter ego, excited to meet up with his partner who knew nothing of his personal life. But Ladybug was out of sorts. Her fighting had been more aggressive than normal and she'd resorted to her lucky charm before thinking things through. Chat Noir raised his fist to bump hers upon their victory and was rocked back on his heels when she knocked her fist into his.
"Is everything okay, milady?" He asked as he rubbed his knuckles.
She placed her hands on her hips and shook her head. "No. To sum it up in a word: shit."
Masked eyebrows lifted in surprise. He'd never heard her swear before. "I hope it's nothing I've done."
Relief swept through him when she shook her head. "No, my problem is with someone else."
Chat Noir tapped the tips of his fingers together while he anxiously asked, "Lover's tiff?"
A dry stare arrowed his way. "No. Just a girl who is set on humiliating me."
Chat Noir puffed up his chest with the immediate need to defend his lady. "How dare she!" Then he cocked his head curiously and studied her. "What did she do?"
Ladybug's face flooded with colour to match her mask. "I'd rather not say."
Taking a step closer, he laid his hands on her shoulders. "I won't laugh if that's what concerns you."
She eyed him for a long moment and he hoped she'd confide in him. Instead, her earrings chirped in warning and her edginess returned. "Gotta run kitty."
"Come on, you can't leave me hanging like that." He grumbled with outspread hands.
Adrien sat in his room at his desk twirling a pencil between his fingers. "I've been thinking about what Ladybug said."
Plagg gave him a bored look, "What's new there?"
"She said she'd been humiliated. Marinette got humiliated, I know it's a long shot but I'm wondering if…"
Plagg laid his chin on his paw, "If what?"
"Could Marinette be Ladybug? There's a lot of similarities and I've considered it on and off for some time. Do you think it's possible?"
"You're telling the story."
Adrien groaned, "You're no help."
Plagg floated down to sit in his empty cheese box. "There's a way to test that theory. Give her a lollipop and see how she reacts."
Stay tuned for more… Thanks for reading.