"You know you don't have to act with me. You don't have to say anything, and you don't have to do anything. Not a thing. Oh, maybe just whistle. You know how to whistle, don't you? You just put your lips together and... blow." A canon compliant LadyNoir-centric fic.
The abundant sun had warmed the clay roofing tiles just enough that morning to remove the night's chill, making it quite comfortable to sit on instead of the usual cases of extreme hot or cold at any other time of the day. There was even a slight breeze, brushing her bangs this way and that. It was almost a perfect day, were it not for the fact that she'd just finished freeing yet another citizen from the manipulating grasp of an evil butterfly.
They both had another few minutes before their transformations would revert, thus her partner lay stretched out on the roof beside her, catching his breath. A bird that was perched on a nearby chimney broke into song with a series of shrill tweets. She smiled at the sound of its joyful noises. Leaning back on her hands in the morning sun, she closed her eyes and basked in its warmth, enjoying the tiny, solo performer as it chirped away.
The solo soon became a duet.
Her eyes flew open, looking to one side to see her partner's lips pursed and pushing out notes that either matched or complemented those of the bird. Both of his hands were tucked behind his head and his eyes remained closed while he whistled along with his avian compatriot as if he'd known the song his entire life. It was remarkable how well he could replicate the sound, to the point that even the occasional warbles and trills weren't beyond his skill.
Of course, should couldn't tell him that. Well, she could and run the risk of being on the receiving end of sideways grins and waggled eyebrows—she always marveled at how he managed such exaggerated eyebrow movements from behind a mask . So, she chose the strategy of merciless teasing.
"Is that how you trick birds into letting you eat them, kitty? You pretend to be one of their kind?"
One green eye peeked open to look at her and he pushed both of his arms up above his head in a languid stretch.
"Considering my violent allergic reaction to Ramier's pigeons, that would be an unwise decision on my part."
In the time it took her to dwell on her embarrassment, he'd sprung to his feet and offered his hand to her. She took it without complaint, not wanting to add to her blunder any further.
"It's alright, my lady, I appreciate the backhanded compliment," a lazy grin spread across his face. "That's really the only one call I can replicate well."
"You must have spent forever practicing it to get that close."
She stood beside him then with her arms folded, expecting him to preen, but he just shrugged.
"I used to have a lot of spare time."
"Yea, so did I," she laughed. "I never would've considered mastering bird calls as a potential activity, however."
"Just because you didn't think of it first doesn't mean it has no merit," he wouldn't back down from her teasing, not that she was expecting him to. "Besides, you could always start now."
She faltered, her hands falling to her side.
"I… really couldn't."
"Oh, please, I'm sure you'd be better than me in a few weeks," he insisted.
"I wouldn't be so sure of that if I were you."
Her voice was tiny, and not just because she'd started inching away from him at that point, her feet carrying her one tiny sidestep at a time. Her face was flushed and she was grateful for the fact that only the space between her nose and throat were visible because she was sure her entire body was red even without the suit. Much to her relief, her partner continued to prattle on in complete unawareness of her behavior.
"I mean the majority of the time I spent was on trying to figure out how to whistle. Once you've got that covered, you're more than halfway there," he began walking in tiny circles while he spoke. "And I'm sure you already know how to—"
He stopped walking when he finally took a good look at her, noticing the arms she'd wrapped around herself and the slight hunch in her shoulders. The fact that she refused to meet his eyes didn't do her any favors either.
"Oh my gosh," the words left his lips with excessive excitement and she groaned.
"Kitty—" she warned.
"Ohhhh my gosh."
He started shifting from one foot to the other in an eager sort of dance. His pupils were blown wide and she wished she could wipe the adorable, but annoying, smile he wore off his face.
"Chat Noir," she warned again.
"You can't do it, can you?"
The roll of her eyes followed by the long-suffering sigh was all the answer he needed. Of course it was, they knew each other well enough that a single look or a slight gesture from one was all the other needed as a directive in battle.
"Okay, now I have to hear this."
"Come onnnnn," he begged, falling forward to fling his arms around her waist.
She stumbled at the sudden added weight and spent a few seconds trying to pry off the overdramatic superhero who now clung to her before giving up. Satisfying his curiosity was easier than trying to best him physically. It wasn't that she could not whistle, but her attempts always resulted in an… unique sound.
Well, at the very least, it was probable that she'd make him regret asking. She pouted her lips and gave it her best shot.
The sound caused him to dislodge himself from her with abrupt swiftness and stand up straight in surprise. One hand made a slow journey towards his face before clamping over his mouth. She put both hands on her hips and dared him to laugh which, to his credit, he didn't. Instead, he pulled his hand away to reveal two rows of perfect, white teeth gleaming behind lips pulled taut from ear to ear.
Just what the hell made him so damn happy?
"You have a whistle like no one else, my lady."
She swore he almost sounded as if he were swooning. That made her confused and she was about to ask what he meant by that. However, he happened to luck out as both her earrings and his ring rang out almost in harmony with each other, warning them that their time together was drawing to a close. His grin crossed over into lopsided territory and he offered her a mock salute with two fingers before bidding her a fond farewell and leaping from the rooftop. It took several seconds for her to shake herself free of her shock at his reaction and begin swinging her way back towards school. When her feet touched the floor of the bathroom after throwing herself inside through the window mere moments before her transformation dissolved, the realization hit her and she smothered a curse.
Marinette Dupain-Cheng could never attempt to whistle in public again.
They called themselves Obfuscator and they were making a fine mess of Paris over the course of their rampage. The City of Lights was less than living up to its name as every streetlight, headlight, lamp and electronic device went dark. Even the sun overhead was blotted out by thick, black clouds. Visibility was close to zero. The sound of large, scraping claws and loud hisses and growls were little more than an auditory illusion, she'd finally realized. Her guess was that their latest victim had been teased for their fear of the dark despite the fact that they were no longer a child.
Now it was everyone else's turn to be afraid.
Ladybug had been separated from Chat after a blow to the chest with Obfuscator's giant flashlight launched him into the air for several blocks. She wanted to try looking for him (and she used that term in the loosest sense possible, considering her current situation), but calling out to him seemed like a bad idea. Using her communicator was equally inadvisable for the same reason. Any sound or source of light would easily give away her location. Sure it would be hard to pick out her voice amongst the confused yelling of everyone else, but that wouldn't do her kitty any favors either.
That was right about when the realization of what she had to do blew through her mind like a speeding freight train, leaving debris and buffeting wind in its wake.
Ladybug let a quiet groan escape before stretching her arms out to feel around her. The smoothness of glass met her right hand and she guessed it was the front window of the shop she landed by before everything went dark. That shop faced the east and, if she recalled correctly, Chat's trajectory had him heading due south. Skimming her fingers along the surface of the window, she kept her right hand outstretched and began to slowly walk southward.
Her yo-yo was helpful in determining if her path was unobstructed as she continued forward and she let it fly at a set distance in front of her at regular intervals. She was thankful that the darkness had brought all traffic to a halt as trying to cross the streets would have been even more perilous than it was when fully lit. Once she decided she'd progressed far enough, she swallowed the lump in her throat along with a good portion of her pride.
Well, insofar as one could describe the sound as a whistle.
She did it two additional times as she kept moving but heard nothing in response. Taking a deep breath, she tried to whistle harder and louder. This continued for half a minute until she had to lean against the wall to her right and suck in several heaving breaths. When she straightened up again to continue, she heard it in the distance. It was the same sound of the bird she remembered from over a week before. Her first instinct was to dismiss it as just a bird, but it didn't sound quite right. With the exception of only a handful of birds, most of them did not sing when the sun wasn't out. Moreover, this particular bird sounded almost human.
It was him. It had to be. He recognized her and was answering her back so that he didn't give himself away either.
Hope restored, she whistled back until her lips went numb. They were getting closer and closer, she could tell by the increase in volume of his call. She was about to round the corner her still-searching fingers told her she was nearing when she collided with a very familiar body that rushed towards her at full speed, sending them both to the ground. He'd been running? Did his night vision even work in complete darkness? She would have to ask him about that later.
A sigh of relief and a short laugh rumbled through the chest on which she now laid.
"Found you," he whispered.
She grunted, pushing herself up into a sitting position.
"Not like I made it that difficult."
"As I've said before, you have a whistle like no one else."
She could hear the teasing grin in his voice without having to see it and she nudged him with her elbow.
"Don't remind me," she let out a woeful moan. "I've had to stop myself from whistling in public on several occasions for fear that you were close enough by to find out my identity."
He scoffed and she wondered into what theatrical pose he'd arranged himself with that reaction.
"I would never do that to you, my lady. Never without your permission."
"And they say chivalry is dead," she deadpanned.
"Not as long as this cat's still around," the pride in his voice was palpable. "The last thing I'd want is to ruffle my beautiful songbird's feathers."
Ladybug made her eyeroll as audible as she could.
"Anyway, I think I have a plan for our flashlight-wielding foe."
"Oh, care to enlighten me?"
There was no stopping the loud groan that escaped her mouth. She quickly recovered and reached out for the bell she knew was at his neck to pull him closer and whisper her idea in his ear. She almost ignored the gleeful yelp he let out when she did so.
One perfectly timed Cataclysm, a Lucky Charm and a well-deserved fist bump later, Paris was once again illuminated and things were put to rights. But, before she could hurry off, Chat stopped her with one hand.
"I meant what I said earlier, you know," he'd fixed her with an earnest stare. "Never without your permission."
And, with that, he walked away.
Thus began the strangest game of 'blind man's bluff' between one Marinette Dupain-Cheng and one Adrien Agreste.
It started when Marinette had stopped by a local grocer during an after school errand because the baskets of ripe strawberries that sat proudly along the streetside display had given rise to an intense bout of spontaneous design inspiration. She dug a sketchbook and pencil from her bag and soon filled three pages with notes, scribbles and a few basic designs. Flipping back through the pages, she nodded in approval at her efforts and, before she could stop herself, she attempted an impressed whistle.
Everything within her wanted her to frantically look around to see if anyone heard or noticed, but she remained still and forced herself to calmly put her book away. She was about to give herself a mental pat on the back for her restraint when another sound stopped her. It came from inside the store itself from the… cheese section? Marinette froze, unsure what to do when the familiar chirping whistle started again, but had not moved any closer. If anything, it seemed to be moving further away, heading towards the back corner of the store.
He was warning her that he was in the area.
She took that as her cue to make a hasty exit, and she did. Her pulse pounded in her ears the entire way back to the bakery and all the way up the stairs into her room. Throwing her bag to one side, she slumped onto her chaise lounge, draping one arm across her face. Her breathing eventually slowed from heavy gasps to a more even cadence.
"That was close Tikki," she mumbled from behind her arm. "Too close."
The tiny, cookie-loving god that often resided in her purse emerged from said sanctuary to regard her charge.
"Well, he did say he wouldn't find you unless you wanted him to. It was pretty nice of him to let you know he was nearby like that."
"Yeah," she sighed in agreement. "I guess so."
Adrien was at yet another park for yet another photoshoot. It was too hot, he'd been there too long and there were too many people milling about trying to catch a glimpse of him. His ever-patient smile was plastered on his face to hide his irritation while he waited to be dismissed to take a break. It was a testament to his mood that he harbored a secret wish for someone, anyone to become akumatized just so he had an excuse to leave early. Of course, that never happened and the photographer finally waved him off, grumbling something about his camera while walking away.
Well, he wasn't finishing early, but he would take what he could get.
Reclining on a bench under a shady tree, he let his head fall back to look up at the branches that stretched overhead. He spotted a small lark hopping along one of the narrower offshoots and he smiled up at it. Entertained by the small, intermittent jumps the creature made, he gave in to his urge to call out to it. The bird stopped and cocked its head to one side to look down at him so he did it again. It was less effective and the bird chose to ignore him, but he heard a distinct discordant strain from beyond the park fence. His hands trembled from excitement and nerves and he whistled again.
But, there was no response.
The disappointed frown that formed on his face was there for less than a second before it was replaced with a sunny smile born of sheer optimism. It didn't even falter when the photographer beckoned for him to return. He'd found the strength he required to endure the following grueling hours of endless pose, lighting and wardrobe changes.
He knew his lady was somewhere closeby and that was all he needed.
They continued in that vein for the better part of a year, trading whistles back and forth both in costume and out, but never venturing any further to locate the source of the sound. Adrien respectfully kept his distance while Marinette usually ran at the first sound of her partner. When they met as their alter-egos, there was an unspoken rule between them that they wouldn't discuss the details of any of their almost-meetings. Chat would throw out the occasional comment that it had been nice to 'see' his lady outside of the suit on whichever day they didn't quite cross paths, but nothing ever progressed from there.
At least until one afternoon when they were both in the school locker rooms, unbeknownst to the other. Adrien was getting ready for fencing practice while Marinette was on the other side of a bank of lockers trying to talk herself down from a fit of hysterical crying. Lila had returned once again from some fabricated overseas trip and was on the warpath that day. Despite her best efforts to avoid the poisonous girl, she still managed to end up in point-blank range of her lies and vitriol. She was tired and angry and her heart hurt. Her silent pep-talk kept the butterflies at bay, but only in the barest sense and Tikki could only do so much to reassure her.
She felt alone and she hated it. It wasn't that she needed someone to put an arm around her and let her cry into their shoulder, though that would be nice. She just needed to know that someone was there and that they acknowledged her. Her entire body shook and she wrapped her arms tighter around herself and a trembling whistle escaped her lips. Marinette knew it was improbable that her kitty was anywhere near, but she felt as if he was the only other person she could call on.
Adrien's ears perked up at the sound and he looked around the empty room. She sounded close. Very close. But, she also sounded sad. There was something almost depressing about the tone of her whistle, giving it an awful, heart-wrenching quality. He immediately whistled back and waited for her response.
There was a hiccup, followed by another somber whistle. She hadn't moved any closer or further away.
He decided it was time to make a move and left his fencing gloves and helmet behind to walk closer, whistling each time he advanced a few steps. Each time, she answered back having not moved an inch. His steps slowed as he neared the partition between the rooms and he whistled one last time.
That time, her reply came from a spot much closer to his own. Adrien gulped and sucked in a long breath.
"If you don't want me to come any closer, tell me now and I'll leave," he paused to lick his lips. "But it's breaking my heart to hear you so sad and I can't do anything about it."
Nothing was said, but he heard her whistle. She was closer than ever. All he had to do was round the corner and she'd be right there.
So he did.
"You know, the day you randomly decided to skip out on our trip to the movies five minutes before everyone was supposed to meet up makes so much more sense now."
It was a windy night and they'd taken shelter on a secluded rooftop, behind a wall. Chat Noir looked down at his partner, whose head rested on his lap. The glowing moonlight above them created a halo when reflected in her midnight hair and she laughed.
"I'm serious," he insisted. "You never turned down a chance to see a movie with all of us so I was floored when Nino said something came up and you had to bail."
Ladybug reached over to where his hand lay on the ground next to him and picked it up, lacing her fingers between his. She smiled up at him.
"Correction; I never turned down a chance to see a movie with you ."
He mulled that statement over for a moment before nodding.
"Huh, you're right."
"Alya thought I'd lost my damn mind, which I kind of did considering how I ran hell for leather back home."
It was his turn to laugh, his eyes glittering with mirth. He rubbed an idle thumb against the back of her hand. Ladybug sighed and shifted slightly to find a more comfortable spot on his lap.
"I suppose I now understand why you suddenly had to leave Kagami behind during your picnic together back when you were trying to date her."
He looked up at the sky to watch an errant cloud pass over the moon.
"She told you about that, huh?"
"She told me a lot of things," though he couldn't see the sly smile on her face when she said it, it was quite present in the tone of her voice.
"I wasn't trying to date her."
"Yes you were."
"Yeah, I was. I felt guilty when I heard you that day, knowing you were so close while I was out eating salade niçoise in a park with another woman."
A graceless snort forced its way out of her, "You didn't even know who I was."
"I knew you were Ladybug," his eyes wandered downward from focusing on the sky to meet hers. "That was enough for me."
Silence stretched out between them, punctuated only by the sounds of wind, voices and vehicles from the city below. Chat looked out across the city and hummed a tuneless melody in an attempt to fill the rest of it.
"Was-was it like that for you and Luka?" he stopped long enough to ask.
Ladybug shrugged as best as she could in her position.
"Maybe? I don't know," she took two steady breaths as she chose her next words. "I really liked him, but it's hard you know? There was a part of me that I could never tell him about. I wanted to, but it wouldn't be right... or fair… to anyone."
"I know exactly what you mean."
"Of course you do. You know me better than I know myself."
"I thought I did, at least," his chuckle was short and self-deprecating.
"Well, now we know everything."
She pulled their linked hands up to rest them on her stomach and just breathed. A fond smile grew on her partner's lips and he pushed several errant strands of hair out of her face with a gentle swipe of a single, clawed finger. They gazed at each other as seconds coalesced into minutes, the realization that they now carried a burden heavier than the enchanted jewelry they wore settled over them both.
"We're gonna be alright, won't we, kitty?"
He gave the hand folded in his a light squeeze.
"Yeah, bug. I think we will be."
"Yeah, we will."
THIS IS MY FIRST TIME, EVERYONE. PLEASE BE GENTLE: I never thought I'd cave and write a fic for this fandom because it would be the equivalent of hurling a snowflake at a glacier. I was having the best time just reading all the other amazing works people have been posting here. Unfortunately for me, this story invaded my mind when I was trying to sleep and refused to leave me alone.
This was a fun experiment, brain, but let's never do this again. I actually like sleeping.
FYI: I haven't seen anything past Puppeteer 2 but, OMG I TOTALLY WANT TO. The gifsets I keep seeing are driving me insane.