Marinette had entered into class today as a woman on a mission.
An Impossible Mission, if you will.
As she settled into her seat next to Alya, she had to suppress a little swell of guilt because her crush had come roaring back when Kagami and Adrien had split up.
Marinette would have been dejected when Kagami told her that Adrien had said he was developing romantic feelings for someone else, so it wouldn't be fair to date Kagami under false pretenses, but Kagami actually encouraged her to be honest.
With the fencer's blessing and somewhat pained exhortation, Marinette was ready to implement her plan.
Said plan was simple, straightforward, and eminently logical in its aims and execution, as all of Marinette's well-considered schemes were. She was, after all, an expert strategist as evidenced by the tactical acumen she demonstrated on the daily while battling Hawkmoth and his cadre of clowns who gave new meaning to the term "fashion disaster."
She'd spent two days without sleep, plotting out every detail and squealing.
But mostly mostly thirsting.
As an aside, one of these days, someone was going to have to explain to Marinette the difference between strategy and tactics. Aptitude in one did not imply competence, or sanity, in the other.
Execution of Marinette's Machiavellian masterstroke of magnanimity that would lead to matrimonial merriment between Adrien Agreste and herself – and it was entirely magnanimous because it was about getting him out of his father's borderline abusive clutches and into her very, very enthusiastically "caring" clutches, well-ensconced inside their nuptial bed – began this morning when she started staring at his hands.
Rangy, set with thick bony knuckles that foretold the growth spurt that would transform the slightly effete teen into a mouthwatering meal of manhood, all massive muscles and maintained meekness because of course Adrien would still be an absolute angel even if he was, like, an insidious demon who turned everyone he passed into quivering puddles of watery jello in the face of that svelte form that had even straight men questioning their sexuality constantly.
... she might have a hand-fetish because she kind of wanted Adrien to wrap them around he-
Focus on the plan.
And the prize.
She'd already lost an hour this morning staring at Satan's seductive hands.
Specifically, the one hand that showed off the gleaming silver ring that adorned his fourth finger.
His wedding-ring finger... on the wrong hand, but it would suffice.
The plan, such as it was:
Step 1: Get Adrien's Ring.
Marinette, we have to talk about your kleptomania.
Step 2: Take it to a jewelers for measuring.
It's been around twenty cell phones, a half dozen heirlooms, Adrien's book, and – Tikki did mental calculations – eighty bicycles. You do realize that stealing is wrong, right?
It's not stealing, Tikki; it's borrowing without asking.
Tikki had just frowned while Marinette continued to write out further steps.
Step 3: Procure properly-sized promise ring to hide inside a passionfruit macaron to be offered to Adrien when I work up the courage to confess my hand fetish (Why did I write that!?) feelings because an engagement ring would just be too forward at this juncture and what am I some kind of obsessive freak? No. Of course not. I'm entirely normal.
Yes. She wrote all of that as 'step 3.'
You're not a freak, Marinette, even if you do have a hand fetish. Don't think that for a second, but maybe you should consider the consequences of this plan.
Right! She clapped her hands. The consequences. Duh!
Step 4: Marriage.
Do you think that you' might be missing a few steps?
After no small amount of staring this morning, the first part of her plan had gone off without a hitch.
Granted, she'd had to clamber into Adrien's bedroom window at around 2:00AM and then rappel from his ceiling to hover over his sleeping form, just for good luck because that was how this sort of thing worked, right?
Marinette, this is not an appropriate use of your Ladybug powers!
You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain, Tikki.
That doesn't make any sense in this context!
No, Tikki! A finger jab and a sassy rock of the head. YOU don't make any sense in this context!
As she had no hands, Tikki could not facepalm; instead, she double facenubbed.
Carefully applying the best bakery butter money could buy to Adrien's hand, held reverently while he slept – the only time she could really find it within herself to not tremble while she held his hand – Ladybug eased the ring off his finger and retreated from the Agreste estate.
Mission Accomplished, without a hitch.
Ethan Hunt's plans never went off without a hitch...
When she arrived home and released her transformation, she cuddled up into her bed immediately. Of course Marinette had the foresight to wear her pajamas and had already brushed her teeth before visiting Adrien. She needed her breath to be minty fresh if he woke up and tried to kiss her for some reason and her pajamas were easy to tug off in case of hormonal emergencies.
Remember: tactician; not strategist.
It would have been wise for her to go to bed at that point, slipping the gleaming hunk of silver under her pillow for safekeeping, but she couldn't. Letting it go was impossible. The tempting curves of its slick and cool surface seemed to stick to her clumsy iron fingers as if magnetized while she rolled and thumbed it, tracing each captivating gleam of reflected moonlight.
Surely it was the masterwork of metal-smiths and jewelers who lived for a century each before crafting it as the last test in their lifelong pursuit of genius and brilliance – of the sublime given shape in metal, only fit for, like, the platonic form of beauty itself known as Adrien Agreste. In so doing, they had imparted their souls to the little band of silver, endowing life itself to...
...to the shiny.
How could she resist the pull? How could she not try it on, just for one single moment, feeling the band encircling her finger just as it had Adrien's?
As she slipped it onto her ring finger, shocked to see that it somehow actually fit perfectly, she realized that this was not the gloriously romantic culmination to her plan that she had envisioned.
She may have missed a step.
"Pigtails, what the fuck did you do?"
Oh, hai, Plagg...
"Plagg, why are you in Adrien's ring?" she asked, befuddled, of the cat Kwami floating above her bed. Thick bristles of fur burst across his body, making him look like he was twice his normal size, hackles raised.
"No, no! I'm asking the questions here!" Floating mere inches away from her face, he jabbed his nub towards her bed sheets in a gesture of impatience. "Explain now!"
"Well you see," Marinette began, desperately searching for an excuse like the Grinch from the Dr. Seuss story as he tried to provide an explanation for why Santa Claus was stuffing Cindy Lou Who's Christmas tree up the chimney, "I saw that Adrien's ring was... tarnished? I was going to... use baking soda paste to clean it? And – and I didn't know if Adrien owned baking soda? So I brought it to the bakery?"
And, yes. Every one of those statements was phrased as a question.
Plagg did not appear impressed as he fluttered up to her nose and clenched it between his nubs, making her go cross-eyed as she tried to watch what he was doing.
His Camembert-breath made her throw up in her mouth just a little.
"If you ever smother my ring in baking soda" – his voice was that of a daemon-king... a really nasal, squeaky, and whiny daemon-king but nonetheless – "I will kill you and destroy everything that you love."
The threat wasn't particularly dire, in all honesty. Far less distressing than his Camembert-breath, she realized as she swallowed down that little teaspoon of vomit in her mouth.
"Well," she choked slightly, longing for mouthwash, "to be clear, it's not your ring, so you don't really have a reason to do that." Her violent head-bob did not dislodge the kwami from her nose.
"What?" With that, he did actually pull back, green eyes blown wide.
"It's Adrien's ring," she clarified as if Plagg was an idiot, which she knew wasn't the case, but he really had to keep up with what was going on here. "You live in Chat Noir's ring."
Plagg blinked, worry-lines splintering across his rubbery cheeks, and turned to his fellow kwami who was simply deflating with a sigh.
"Tikki," he began, head listing to the side like his neck was slowly breaking, "what's wrong with her?"
"She's been awake for about two days straight, Plagg, so don't be too harsh. There's also the shock. She's brilliant and courageous and kindhearted too."
"She's a frick'en brainless moron is what she is," Plagg burst out, grimacing like he'd just eaten Kraft Cheese Whiz that had been disguised as Camembert as a prank (Adrien had done that once. Don't ask.). "They're made for each other. Two halves of a whole, my furry butt. Of a whole brain cell, maybe."
He swept a paw over his ears with a wide spidery contortion of his mouth and face that had a fang curling over his lip, looking utterly, petulantly adorable to the point that Marinette nearly cooed.
"Now, work with me, here, Pigtails," he sighed. "Whose ring did you steal?"
Silly cat. That's where her kitty got it from.
"I didn't steal anyone's ring, Plagg," she offered with a laugh. His fur was so soft, though the gentle stroking of that special spot under his chin that always had Chat melting didn't seem to placate him. "What do you take me for?"
Staring at the ring on the wedding-ring finger of her left hand, splayed on her bedspread, Plagg floated down to it, then stared back at Marinette's smiling face, back at the ring, and then back at Marinette's face again.
At that point, he offered her a "duh!" expression and threw both of his arms out towards the ring it a "tada!" gesture like a magician's assistant in a low-rent carnival indicating the vacant spot in a "forbidden box of mystery," the illusionist himself having disappeared from within.
"I borrowed it without asking."
In the distance, Tikki started crying.
"Okay, Pigtails," he responded with a massive, cheesy, and somewhat unholy grin, slapping his nubs together. "That's some great self-delusion you got there. It would be a real shame if something happened to it 'cause it lets you convince yourself that it's alright to do some really chaotic and rebellious shit. I actually kind of like it."
"What do you mean self-delusion?" Marinette asked, demonstrating her fathomless capacity for self-delusion.
The little imp scoffed. "Never mind. That's not important right now. So whose ring are you wearing?"
"That is correct." Plagg smiled, showing off adorable little pin-prick fangs. "Now whose ring do I live in?"
"Good. So from these two points we can logically conclude that...?"
Marinette snapped her fingers. "Oh, you were miraculous shopping."
It was really so obvious that she should have realized it earlier.
"Like, house shopping... but with miraculi?" She thumbed her chin, tapping out the Mission Impossible theme with a finger to her jaw. "Maybe Chat's ring was getting a little old so you thought that maybe you could move into a new one if he could convince Adrien to give up his to Chat Noir?"
Plagg blinked, lips contorting into random expressions as if he was trying to scream and mouth questions and curses that simply wouldn't emerge. Behind him, Tikki continued weeping while he sucked down a slow, calming breath before raising a nub in a politely deferential signal that he had a question to ask.
"How does that make any sense whatsoever!?" he screamed, smacking his nubs to his head like he was trying to beat out the insanity, the high pitched shriek waking Marinette's parents who just sighed and decided to get an early start in the bakery.
"It could happen."
"Okay." He threw a desperate glance at Tikki that really wasn't fair. Marinette was trying her best to piece together this strange mystery that he seemed to be alluding to. "I take it back. This self-delusion of hers isn't fun at all."
"I know, Plagg," a tearful Tikki offered while retrieving a cookie from her emergency stash and downing it in one gulp. "I know."
"Like you said, Plagg, let's try to focus on the important things, here." Of course it was up to her to get things back on track. "How do I get you back to Chat Noir?"
"Why don't you just give the ring back to-" Bubbles burst forth from his mouth as he nearly vomited.
"Bleh! Just put the ring back where you found it."
It wasn't entirely clear how returning Adrien's ring would help Plagg get home, but that might have been the sleep deprivation turning her brain to mush.
At least it was something that Marinette could do well in advance of Adrien's typical – she checked her drop-down schedule of his activities – five AM wake-up call, and it wasn't like she hadn't been able to go a full three days without sleep in the past.
Pausing only to sneak downstairs in order to brush her teeth again and rid herself of the flavour and scent of vomit that was rolling around inside her mouth and sinuses, she acceded to Plagg's demands, wending her way through the glittering Parisian night in order to return to Adrien's bedroom.
Hopefully Plagg knew how to get home to Chat Noir's ring from there.
Then the unthinkable happened.
Of course it would. Like a fool, she had forgotten to rappel down from Adrien's ceiling this time.
While sliding the ring back over Adrien's finger, she tickled his palm and the bony spurs of his knuckles clenched, thick veins popping along the back of his hand, and as fire washed up from her slightly buttery gloves to consume her body, she whimpered and flopped backwards, butt slapping into the boy's bedside table, toppling a book that they had to read for English class – Shoot! She forgot about that assignment! – to the floor.
And the model's eyes lazed open.
For tense seconds as Marinette tried to cobble together an excuse, again like the Grinch who Stole Christmas, they just stared at each other.
"Plagg?" Adrien mumbled in a sleepy hush, tugging his thick comforter up to his throat as he gummed his mouth. A massive yawn ensued as Plagg responded.
"Is this a dream?" His voice was lilting and uneven, like a stream of water tumbling over gravel.
"I- ugh." With a moan that vibrated the little deity down to his nubby hind-paws, the Kwami flitted off to his bed on one of Adrien's shelves, settling himself down into a fluffy pillow. "Yes, kid. This is all just a dream. A horrible, horrible dream."
"Oh, one of those dreams..."
At this point, Ladybug nearly choked on her tongue because with a surprisingly familiar flirtatious flourish that was only made sexier by his slumping, mussy-haired ... half-roused state, Adrien Agreste, teen heartthrob and famed model, threw off his covers and revealed the answer to a question that teenage girls the world over had pondered through many a sleepless night.
Sleepless because they were dying in the ravine in Super Penguino's tutorial level.
Because they were enjoying some personal time.
Because they were petting their cats (Marinette was going to do a lot of that in the near future when she had two cats instead of just one.).
Because they were diddling around.
Because they were nulling the void.
Because they were visiting their safety deposit boxes.
Because they were masturbating.
In case that wasn't completely clear.
And the answer was: yes; Adrien Agreste slept in the nude.
It was a good thing that Marinette was only wearing her pyjamas underneath her costume, as several hormonal emergencies arose in rapid succession.
When Adrien closed the distance between them, rubbing at his crusty eyes, Marinette could only stare at those bony knuckles while she fidgeted back and forth from foot to foot.
His body is so hot...
Because he was hot from being under his blankets and the heat was rolling off him in waves and she was hot because he was hot and looking at her in a really heated way so that she was like one massive blush and blood was hot in her cheeks but not like sexually hot as blood-play was not something that she was in to so it wasn't hot like he was which wasn't what she was thinking right now she had just meant that he was physically hot and was it getting hot in here?
And then, for a very clear and obvious and large and hot reason, Adrien cupped her jaw, the soft pads of his fingers tingling against her skin as he traced the silhouette of her mask.
Despite that obvious reason, he tilted up her trembling chin and kissed her like she was a venerated religious icon, something to be worshipped and cherished.
That wasn't hot.
She started to tear up, covering the hand on her cheek with her own, settling her fingers over his.
Her hand didn't tremble.
It was warm, and it filled her up with everything that she had never realized that she needed in her life.
He kissed her like she was something that he was graced to be able to touch, his slow and even breathing caressing the naked flesh of her cheeks and the open spots between his splayed, gentle fingers.
"Tikki, spots off." The words came out as a whisper of breath from her dry mouth when he pulled back. His eyes were molten neon-green caramel apples, full of sweetness and sugar, shining in the moonlight from beyond the wide bay windows.
"Oh, Marinette?" he mumbled against her lips. The fluttery softness was like drinking the summer sun.
"Um, surprise?" she said with a chuckle.
"Mmm," he hummed sleepily. "Even better than the dreams where you and Ladybug show up together, even if it is just a dream." The sigh in his voice was like the breathless, airy hush that fell over a tearful audience as the final notes of a masterful concerto lingered in the air, just before the applause burst out.
"It's not like I'm lucky enough for the two girls I love to be the same person."
And as Adrien started to wake up properly and Marinette reciprocated his confession in a rushed, ecstatic fumble, she melted into a puddle of watery jello, right into Adrien's gorgeous, sexy, Satan-hands and then into his bed.
Perhaps she was a competent strategist after all.
Plan failed successfully.
And those hands?
She was wrong.
They weren't Satan's hands.
Lucifer himself would be jealous of how this angel's hands could sin.
Author's Notes: I hope that you've enjoyed my characteristic attempts at amalgamating sweetness and crack.
Thank you for taking the time to read through the story.