Hope everyone is surviving the worlds longest year this year. Only seven months left, 12 days until Friday. I get to go to the mailbox tomorrow, that's exciting.

STILL working on The Breakup Fic because it's not perfect yettttt.

I hope everyone is doing well, though, despite everything.

-x-

Set: Shortly after the end of season 3, so 15-ish?

Ladybug's foot bounced as it swung and her heel hit the building softly. These moments were her favorite—sitting on the edge of the roof with Chat Noir, just watching the sun set and the city lights twinkle on one at a time.

In all of the newest stresses added onto her life, he was like a balm for her mood. She felt soft and safe around him. Because no matter what, it was him and her against the world. Always. Well…almost. There were some things he just couldn't help her with, and it felt like a solid barrier between them. A barrier she had fought hard to keep erected. For safety, she told herself.

But what now? She'd been the new guardian for two months—eight very long, very sleepless weeks—and one single thought kept plaguing her. It was her duty to know. But also, if she knew, it was dangerous. But it was dangerous to not know, to just have the cat miraculous out there somewhere and not know who it was with.

But that was only half of her worry…

"Hey, Chat?"

"Hm?"

She didn't dare look up at him, her eyes focused on her swinging feet. The tips of them slid in and out of view beyond her knees. It took her a moment to find her voice again, a quick never mind on the tip of her tongue. She clutched a solid second of bravery and pushed the words out. "What would you do if you found out who I was…" She saw him turn his head to look at her out of the corner of her eye, but she still couldn't look at him. "…And I wasn't what you thought?"

Chat pressed his lips together for a second, brows pulling together. "Like, you think I have guesses about your identity and you think I'll be disappointed if you're someone else?" She shook her head. "What do you mean?"

She took a deep breath. "What if you found out I'm clumsy and not brave at all, and mostly a spazz? That I suck at time management and scramble to get things done at the last second. I'm not very smart and I'm basically—"

"Ladybug," Chat interrupted, voice soft but uncharacteristically firm. She finally met his gaze and frowned. "So what? Then you're clumsy and shy and quirky. If your time management is derailed by all this—" he gestured widely around them, perched on the edge of a tall building, "—like it is for me, then I'll just tell you I suck at time management, too."

Her shoulders sagged. "Chat," she sighed, sounding tired and unconvinced.

Chat frowned harder and leaned towards her until she glanced back up at him. "But you are not dumb," he pressed. "You're brilliant. The smartest, most creative girl I've ever met."

Ladybug shot him a dry look.

"It's true," he insisted, turning back to the glittering skyline with a shrug.

"I'm sure there's someone in your life smarter than me."

He lifted a shoulder and shot her a sassy smirk. "Sure, but he's a prodigy so he doesn't count."

"And like I said, you don't know me—what if I'm not really as smart as Ladybug is?"

Chat waved it away. "You're wrong, My Lady. Everything Ladybug is, is you. The real you."

"Is Chat the real you, then?" she countered. "Flirty and up front? World's worst puns?"

"Hey!" he cut her off, but his face was somber, it held a sort of out-of-place sadness. "I think of it like Superman. Superman was who he really was. Clark Kent was the disguise."

Ladybug frowned at his sincerity. "What does that mean?"

Chat gave her a tight smile. "I have…there are certain expectations of me as a civilian. I feel…freer as Chat Noir. This is the real me, My Lady, I promise."

A silence fell over them again, more stifling for Ladybug than Chat, though he could feel the anxiety rolling off her in waves. He had hoped that being flippant and flirty would help pull her from the pit of anxiety and despair she had been living in for months. Since the day Master Fu dumped the world on her shoulders with the guidance that could rival an Ikea instruction manual.

He knew his bitterness was a tad irrational, but still. They were kids.

He took a deep breath, sobering again. "Listen, Ladybug. I know the identity thing stresses you out and you don't want us to know each other—"

He'd guessed her current anxiety right when she tensed up tight. "It's a security risk, Chat," Ladybug interrupted. "I don't want Hawkmoth to be able to use us against each other, or get to each other through each other."

"I know, I know."

"But the master is supposed to know." She rubbed the heels of her palms into her eyes. When she spoke again, Chat had to strain to hear her. "I don't know what to do."

"What does Tikki think?"

"That my fears are valid but that I need to know the identities of the miraculous holders," she grumbled. "She doesn't know either."

Chat nudged her shoulder with his. "I've been thinking of a compromise."

Ladybug looked up at him skeptically.

"What if I wrote my name on a piece of paper and sealed it in an envelope," he suggested. "You can put it in the miraculous box to keep it hidden. If something happens, you'll know who I am, but not until then."

"That's…actually brilliant," Ladybug mumbled, sitting up straight.

Chat preened at her compliment. "Thank you."

She wilted a little. "But what if someone gets ahold of the box? They'll have your identity."

"They'll have yours," he corrected. "If someone gets the box, they'll have all of the other miraculous and your identity. That's way worse than anyone having mine."

"Okay, but what if you don't actually put your real identity in there?"

"Do you trust me so little?" But there was a slight smile on his lips.

He watched a soft, fond smile light her face when she looked up at him at that. "No. I trust you completely. I just don't want to open it in an emergency and see 'the man of your dreams' written down instead."

Chat laughed outright at that. "Alright, here," he said, taking one of her hands and squeezing it. "I'll put my name in an envelope. Plagg will watch me do it to confirm it's my real identity. At the end of patrol on Thursday night I'll hide and detransform. Plagg will hand deliver it to you, so that you won't have to worry at all."

Ladybug let out a breath and it felt like she could breathe easier. "Thank you, Kitty."

"We're partners, My Lady," he sighed contentedly.

Ladybug pursed her lips. "You're my best friend, Char Noir," she admitted in a whisper. "I can tell you everything I can't tell my friends during the day."

He hummed warily. "Yeah, but you can tell them way more that you can't tell me."

She leaned into his shoulder and resumed kicking her feet gently. "Nothing nearly as important."

"Everything about you is important to me."

She sighed. "I wish things could be different."

"Maybe one day they can be."

She doubted, but the way he said it gave her a warm feeling blossoming in the pit of her stomach. It gave her hope. "Maybe…"

-x-

Don't forget to review and let me know what you think!

Bonus drabble, post-reveal:

Marinette sat up suddenly and looked down at Adrien, who was working out of a physics book on his stomach on the floor next to the chaise where she had opted to study her history. "Do you want to do a trust exercise?"

Adrien finished the line of calculations he was doing and then looked up at her with a raised eyebrow. "Trust exercise? You don't trust me, Bugaboo?"

"Close your eyes for a second."

She waited until she was sure he wasn't peeking and pulled the miraculous box from its hiding space. "Okay."

He opened his eyes and sat up as she put the box down on the chaise next to her. "A trust exercise with the miraculous?"

"No, with this!" She pulled out the envelope she had hidden inside the box years ago, and Adrien let out a laugh.

"I'm going to need Plagg for a quick escape, hold on—" He started to push up off the ground, but Marinette grabbed his hand before he could get too far.

"Oh, no you don't," she said as sternly as she could manage behind a smile. "What do you think will happen if I open this and there is a cheesy pick-up line in here?"

Adrien grinned and shook his head slowly. "You really do have such little faith in me."

Marinette rolled her eyes. "No, I just know you." She tore open the envelope and pulled the paper from inside.

She expected something silly inside, but wasn't surprised when she unfolded it and only two words were written in his neat handwriting. She couldn't help the soft smile that formed on her face when she looked up at him to see an expression that matched her own.

Adrien Agreste

"I can always count on you, Kitty."

"You and me against the world," he murmured as she tilted his face down to capture his lips.