Written for 11JJ11! I hope you like the fic! Thank you to Khanofallorcs on tumblr and AO3 for betaing.
Marinette ran into school, about an hour late for class. The last akuma attack had taken far too long and she hadn't even been able to properly feed Tikki. She'd had to recharge in the middle of the battle and then she hadn't had enough cookies.
"Marinette?" Tikki stuck her head out of Marinette's purse.
"I know, Tikki. Let me get to my locker, I have lots of cookies there!" Tikki nodded at Marinette weakly before settling back down. The poor thing seemed so weak. "I'm so sorry," Marinette apologized for the umpteenth time.
"It's okay, Marinette," Tikki sighed, clearly exhausted.
"No, it's not, Tikki," Marinette refuted as she walked into the locker room and attempted to wrench her locker open. She ended up pulling with far too much force and ended up toppling over. She picked herself up slowly by holding onto the locker door.
"Here we go," Marinette sighed as she spotted the familiar bakery bag, full of cookies. Fishing out a large chocolate chip cookie, she handed it to Tikki while she gathered her supplies.
"Well, looks like I missed Mlle. Bustier's class. It's time for Science and I'm ten minutes late!" Marinette scrambled out the door, running to the classroom. She desperately hoped Mlle. Mendeleiev wouldn't notice her late entry. Or at least not care enough to comment.
No such luck. As soon as Marinette pushed the door open, she fell over her own two feet and slammed to the ground, front first. "Ouch," she groaned as Mlle. Mendeleiev stared down at her.
"Yes, thank you for announcing your entrance, Marinette," she sighed. "Care to explain why you're late this time?"
Marinette flushed pink as she flailed her arms, while trying to come up with an excuse. After a few moments of pointless babbling, Mlle. Mendeleiev shook her head and pointed Marinette towards her seat.
Marinette sighed in relief as she sat down next to Alya. Her best friend was shaking her head at her fondly. Marinette gave Alya a sheepish grin in reply, before turning to pay attention.
An exhausting hour of Chemistry later, Mme. Mendeleiev set them free for lunch.
"Girl, you will not believe what you missed today," Alya was telling her. "Where were you anyways?"
Marinette blinked as she got out of her seat. "I...um….Oh I was–," Marinette was thankfully spared from answering when she tripped for the third time that day. What was happening to her? She was clumsy, yes, but not that clumsy!
She looked down to see a bag tangled in her feet. So that was it. She needed to pay better attention to where she was going. A yawn cut off her train of thought, as she untangled the bag straps from her feet. Clearly, a good night's sleep would help too.
"Woah, what is that?" Alya was exclaiming. Marinette turned to look at whatever it was that Alya found so fascinating, only to find her vision blocked by Adrien.
"Hi, Marinette!" The boy greeted her with a sunny smile. Marinette felt her heart come to a grinding halt, the brightness of his smile making her feel warm from head to toe.
"A-Adrien!" She squeaked out, her face burning hot. His smile grew a little brighter and Marinette found it hard to breathe.
"Need a hand?" He asked, as he offered her his outstretched hand. Hesitantly, Marinette placed her hand in his and let him pull her up. She stumbled a little as he did, and caught his shoulder to regain her balance. His grip on her hand tightened as his other hand automatically went around her waist.
They looked at each other, their faces far too close. Marinette turned a bright shade of pink as she practically leaped away from Adrien.
"Th-thank you!" She stammered out, as she blinked up at him. Unfortunately, she didn't get much of a chance to see Adrien's reaction or talk to him further, because that was when Alya made her presence known.
She had one hand on her hip and a foot was tapping impatiently. Marinette stared at Alya with raised eyebrows, completely confused. She couldn't remember the last time her best friend had ever interrupted her while she was trying to talk to Adrien.
Then Marinette took a closer look and nearly had a heart attack. In Alya's other hand was Tikki. Alya shoved Tikki into her face, so Marinette could see her kwami up close. "What is this?" Tikki's expression had turned into one of panic and Marinette tried to mentally reassure Tikki that it would all be okay.
Alya pulled Tikki away from her and leaned in, waiting for an answer.
Marinette blinked rapidly, trying to come up with anything that would protect her secret identity. Beside her, she could hear Adrien choking, but there were far more important things at stake.
"It fell out of your purse, Marinette. What is it?" Alya was demanding loudly. Marinette bit her lip, while she tried to think a way out of this mess.
Nino had come up to them, wondering why they were taking so long, when he too saw what was in Alya's hand. He stifled a tiny gasp as he threw his girlfriend a questioning look. In answer to his silent question, Alya simply pointed at Marinette.
Marinette took the opportunity to take a closer look at Tikki, hanging limply from Alya's grasp, and noticed she was playing dead. If Marinette didn't know any better she'd think Tikki was just a doll. At the thought, a lightbulb went off in Marinette's head.
"That's a doll," Marinette replied, trying to sound confident. Alya took another look at Tikki, seeming to carefully examine her.
"Okay," she said slowly, a worried expression appearing on her face. "But how did you get it?" Alya's eyes took on a certain glint. "Could you tell me the store you bought it from? I'd love to get one of my own."
"Bought?" Marinette squawked. Alya raised an eyebrow at her questioningly, pretending to be innocent. Marinette swallowed, her eyes darting left and right. "I mean….does it really look that good? I made h–it myself!"
Alya brought Tikki closer to eye level. Then, she showed Nino, who seemed just as cautious, if not more. Marinette knew that both of them were mentally comparing Tikki to their own kwamis and mentally groaned.
"How did you get the inspiration for it, Marinette?" Adrien spoke up, the smile on his face brighter than ever.
"Inspiration?" Marinette repeated, feeling a fresh wave of panic wash over her. She stared at the floor, her mind whirling.
"Good question, bro! The design is pretty unique, dude, how'd you come up with it?" Nino followed through.
Marinette wracked her brain, trying to come up with any plausible reason to have created such a 'doll'. Then it hit her, the perfect way to throw off suspicion was to add a grain of truth. "It's based off of Ladybug's kwami."
Alya and Nino gaped at her while Adrien pretended to be confused. If Marinette had been paying better attention, she would have wondered about Adrien's strange reaction. He should have known what a kwami was, he had been Aspik after all.
"How, how do you know Ladybug's kwami?" Alya asked, her voice dropped down to a whisper. Nino and Adrien were staring at her in the same kind of wonder, and slight suspicion in Adrien's case. Marinette was determined to not let that rattle her.
"I...a few weeks ago Mme. Mendeleiev got akumatized! Ladybug asked me to help her then," Marinette shrugged, her heart feeling like it was beating a thousand beats per minute. She was moments away from a full blown panic attack. Please believe me, she prayed to every deity out there.
"You were a superhero?" Nino asked, awe clear in his voice. Marinette felt a little offended for a second. He was a superhero, was it that surprising that she could be one too? Marinette had to remind herself that it was a good thing her friends didn't think she could be a superhero. That was how she was able to keep her secret identity just that. A secret.
"Y-yeah!" Marinette gave them a falsely bright smile.
"What kind of hero?" Alya interrogated as she pulled out her phone to take notes; she was in full reporter mode now.
"The mouse," Marinette smiled.
"That's kinda cute," Adrien mused, his green eyes bright and clear. They were so mesmerizing, she could easily get lost in them. "It makes sense Ladybug chose Marinette. She's our Everyday Ladybug after all."
Marinette turned a bright red at that, as she tried to remain cool and collected. She quietly pinched herself, to keep herself from going to dreamland. This wasn't the time for that, there were more important things happening. Far more important than her crush paying her a compliment.
"So, how did that result in you meeting Ladybug's kwami?" Alya was asking excitedly while Nino's expression had turned into one of horror.
"Dude! Why did you tell us that? Now Ladybug will never call on you again!"
"How do you know that?" Marinette asked suspiciously, throwing the spotlight on Nino for a moment. She almost felt bad for making him panic about protecting his secret identity, but she needed a break.
"Well, you know! Superheroes and their secret identities and all that. We all know how strict Ladybug is about identities," Alya covered for Nino. He nodded along enthusiastically.
"Oh, I see," Marinette hummed. "Though that doesn't stop you from asking about Ladybug's!" She noted, to which Alya sheepishly shrugged, causing Marinette to sigh. "Well, I don't have to worry about that. I accidentally revealed myself in front of Chat Noir, so Ladybug already said she couldn't call on me again." Marinette gave them a small, sad smile, acting as if she had accepted she would never be a hero again.
"That's too bad, Marinette," Adrien gave her a sympathetic look. Her smile grew shy as she shrugged at him.
"Did you ask Ladybug before making a doll about her kwami?" Alya worried.
"I think Hawkmoth already knows kwamis exist," Marinette pointed out dryly.
"She has a point, babe," Nino fiddled with his hat. Alya handed Tikki back to Marinette, who quickly took her back and put her back in her purse.
"That didn't explain how you met Ladybug's kwami," Adrien interrupted.
"Well...I met Ladybug and Chat Noir's kwamis," Marinette corrected, as she told the three about the story of Kwamibuster. Considering she never planned on using that trick again, she didn't mind letting them know some of the details. At the end of her story, Alya and Nino were nodding in understanding.
"That sounded rad, dude," Nino complimented and offered her a fist bump. Marinette tapped her fist against his.
"Yeah, let's get to lunch!" Alya agreed, as she swung an arm around Marinette.
"You guys go! I'll be right there!" Marinette ducked underneath Alya's arm. She just needed a moment alone, so she could talk to Tikki and calm her nerves.
Alya and Nino gave her a puzzled look before they shrugged and nodded. Waving, they left her to her own devices.
Marinette could still hear her heartbeat pounding in her ears as she let out a sigh of relief. She grabbed a hold of her purse and was just about to begin speaking to Tikki, when a voice spoke up.
"You alright, Marinette?" The purse fell from Marinette's hands as she squealed in surprise. She could hear Tikki give a tiny squeak and mentally winced in apology. Marinette looked up to see Adrien biting back a smile at her antics.
"Guess Ladybug was right to give you the Mouse Miraculous," he chuckled. Marinette wanted to dig a hole into the ground and disappear forever.
"Could I see your doll again?" He asked politely. Marinette's hands flew to her purse protectively. "It's just, I'm a big fan of Ladybug. I don't want to bug you or anything, but I'd love a doll of her kwami myself."
Marinette blinked and stuttered as she looked around for an escape route, anything that would allow her to distract Adrien without seeming suspicious. Adrien's expression didn't change as he expectantly held out his hand.
"Y-you see, I really should be–," Marinette protested anyways, but when she saw Adrien's big, green eyes pout at her, she was rendered useless. Silently, she reached into her purse and despite Tikki frantically tapping Marinette's hand in disapproval, brought her out for Adrien to see.
Adrien bowed his head to take a closer look and rubbed Tikki's head. Marinette held her breath, hoping Tikki wouldn't move. "Great workmanship, Marinette!" He flicked his eyes towards her and gave her an earnest smile. "I can't even see the seams!"
Marinette nervously smiled in agreement. "She even smells like cookies! Much better choice than Camembert," Adrien laughed, as he kept his eyes trained on her.
Marinette laughed with him, slightly puzzled by his words but far too relieved to truly notice anything wrong in that statement.
"Does your Tikki come with matching earrings?"
"Earrings?" Marinette's eyes widened as she frantically shook her head. "What earrings? No earrings here!"
Adrien gave her a patient smile as Marinette took a breath trying to calm down. At least she was able to speak proper words around Adrien, that was a win in her book. It was especially surprising considering how panicked she was, she couldn't even think straight!
"You've captured her sweetness perfectly! I wonder if you could do the same to Plagg," Adrien suggested. There was something in the way he was looking at her, but Marinette couldn't put her finger on it.
She blankly nodded along, her other hand was twitching. The sooner Tikki was hidden away, the better. She never should've given in! Her anxiety was killing her. Adrien gave Tikki one last look before backing away. Marinette quickly tucked Tikki away and gave Adrien a frazzled smile.
She was just about to turn and leave, to regain some of her sanity, when the last few minutes of the conversation ran through her mind. Didn't want to bug her. Tikki. Camembert. Plagg. Marinette whirled around, mouth gaping and one finger pointed at Adrien.
Adrien tilted his head innocently. "Marinette?"
Marinette opened her mouth before closing it again. She shook her head before trying again, but nothing would come out. All the clues were there but she still wasn't sure. Until she was, Marinette couldn't take that chance, there just had to be a logical explanation for this.
The only one she could think of though, was Adrien being Chat Noir. After watching Marinette try to talk a few times, Adrien sighed.
"Cat got your tongue?" He smirked at her. Adrien Agreste was smirking at her. Marinette didn't know how to react. That could mean something else, it didn't have to mean what she thought it meant, did it?
Adrien seemed to understand what she was thinking because his smirk grew wider. "How clawful, Purr-incess! Haven't you figured it out yet?"
Princess. The only one to call her that was...Marinette's eyes grew wide as she silently took in his confirmation.
"Th-then you really are?" She croaked out, feeling it hard to breathe. Adrien walked behind her to close the classroom door, before nodding.
"It's me, Bugaboo," he was grinning, looking ridiculously happy.
A black blur zoomed out of Adrien's shirt at the same time Tikki flew out of Marinette's purse.
"That was just painful," Plagg complained.
"Oh hush, Stinky Sock. She just needs some time to process!" Tikki argued weakly, she herself was giving Marinette an incredulous look.
"You did a great job playing dead!" Adrien complimented Tikki, who glowed under the praise.
"Not good enough," Plagg pointed out, making Tikki immediately turn to scowl at him.
"He's been Mister Bug! Of course he didn't buy it!"
"That's enough you two," Adrien scolded the kwamis while he kept his watchful gaze on Marinette.
Marinette couldn't stop staring at him. Adrien was Chat Noir? Polite, sweet Adrien was her flirtatious partner who cracked the worst jokes? She couldn't even reconcile the two boys as one in her mind, let alone accept it in reality.
The longer she stayed silent, the more the bright smile on Adrien's face faded, until it had disappeared entirely, a bitter one replacing it. "Are you disappointed it's me, m'lady?" He had finally looked away from her and Marinette felt panic swell in her throat.
She frantically shook her head. "No!" She shouted, as she waved her hands trying to convince him, as she stumbled towards him. Adrien caught her hands with his, making Marientte's insides turn to mush. "Never," she whispered.
"I believe you. It's a lot to take in, isn't it?" He was smiling brightly again, so Marinette calmed down.
"How come you aren't freaking out?" She complained, her face was radiating so much heat, she felt like she was in a sauna.
"Trust me, when I saw Tikki in Alya's hand, I freaked out plenty," he laughed, looking at her softly. Marinette peered up at him, trying to read his expression. "I'm not disappointed either if that's what you're wondering," he added, a Cheshire cat grin on his face.
Marinette squeaked as she bowed her head, trying to avoid looking at him.
"I do have to ask though, how did you pull off Multimouse? I almost doubted myself, but well, not even you can make a kwami doll that convincing, LB."
Marinette pulled her hands away from Adrien reluctantly, so she could use them to cover her face. "I used the Fox Miraculous," she mumbled into her hands.
"What?" Adrien questioned as he tried to tug her hands away.
"I said, I used the Fox Miraculous," Marinette huffed. Adrien's eyes widened in understanding, his eyes becoming softer as he laced his fingers with hers.
Marinette squeaked as she tried to think of just about anything else. A thought crossed her mind and her eyes widened as a new flash of panic went through her. "Tikki! We... I mean identities!" She got out, fear tinging her voice.
"It's fine, Marinette," Tikki reassured. "It was about time you two knew each other's identities. Not knowing was causing more problems anyways."
"We're just surprised it took you so long. The kid wasn't exactly being subtle," Plagg cackled.
Tikki looked like she wanted to argue but even she was looking at Marinette in disappointment.
"I was panicking! It's not like I knew he was Chat Noir!" Marinette tried to defend herself. When they all stared at her in disbelief, Marinette groaned and covered her face with her hands again.
"It's okay, I still love you m'lady," Adrien grinned. Marinette peeked at him from behind her fingers in surprise. He froze, as it dawned on him what he had just said.
"I-I mean!" It was Adrien's turn to stammer, as his face turned pink.
Plagg was snickering while Tikki sighed. Marinette stood there frozen while Adrien searched for something to say. Marinette took in a deep breath before taking pity on him. "How about we go get lunch first? I'm sure Alya and Nino are wondering where we are."
Adrien nodded. "Good idea," he smiled. He still seemed a bit nervous so Marinette offered him her hand. Tikki and Plagg were still laughing as they went into their respective hiding places.
"We'll take this one step at a time, alright, Kitty?" She whispered as he held on to her hand tightly.
"It's you and me," Adrien grinned back.