"Are you messing with me, Plagg? Cuz this is really not the best time for a joke!" Adrien ended on a cough and winced. "Ugh! I'll try anything, just promise me this is not a prank."
"It is not a prank. Marinette has been trained in the art of healing. Just tell her 'a friend recommended her meditation ceremony', and she will fix you up."
"This is weird," Adrien continued to whine all the way to the door for the bakery's living quarters.
To be fair, he was in a lot of pain. His transformation had worn off as he was jumping into his window, and he fell hard into the room. He had jarred both legs then tumbled into his couch smashing his head in the process.
He knocked tentatively and waited five minutes. "I don't think anyone is home."
"She's here. Her room is just too far away. Knock louder!"
Adrien knocked a little harder and was relieved to hear a call of, "Coming!" But then a crash and muttered 'ouch!' forced his worry back to the front of his mind.
The door swung open, and a blushing Marinette stared at him. "Uh hi, Adrien! What are you doing here?"
"Oh hi, Marinette!" He raised a hand to scratch the back of his neck, but he as he pulled his aching muscles protested. Plagg poked him hard from his shirt pocket, and he remembered his line. "A friend recommended your meditation ceremony."
She blanched immediately and blinked at him. Then she reacted quickly, grabbing his hand and pulling him in, "Come inside now. My parents are in the bakery for another hour or so. Hopefully we won't be disturbed."
Adrien was relieved to have gotten through that part so easily, but his strained muscles didn't want to cooperate. He moved slowly, and he stumbled on the stairs. Marinette squealed and rushed to help him up the remaining stairs.
"I didn't think about how many stairs there are to my room! I might have to bring my parents in on this secret so we won't have to worry about getting caught. Not sure yet..."
Adrien sucked a sharp breath in through his teeth. He tried for a joking tone in his reply, "I wouldn't complain about doing whatever this is in the living room next time."
"Next time?" Marinette questioned under her breath. Adrien heard her, but he probably wasn't supposed to, so he didn't respond.
They made it up the last flight of stairs, and they bent over huffing to catch their breath.
"Is your back injured?"
Adrien shook his head, but he immediately regretted it as it ached.
"Good! Come lay down flat on your back and take off your shoes." She spread out a blanket for him to lay on, but continued apologetically, "I'm sorry I don't have room for a table to lay on!"
"This is fine! I promise, laying down is so much better than trying to hobble around. It would still be better even if you made me lay out on the cold floor without this fluffy blanket."
Marinette was wandering around the room lighting incense and candles, and Adrien closed his eyes trying to block out the pain. He heard her having a whispered conversation, but he tried to just think about the delightful smells she was creating.
She sat next to him on her knees, and she reached out a shaking hand to his head. She took a deep breath and started chanting, placing her hand firmly on his forehead.
She moved to his shoulder then trailed to his chest and stomach. She stopped chanting to change positions and asked softly, "Did you hurt your legs too?"
Adrien nodded, blushing. "I suppose I owe you an explanation..."
"No! You don't. If you want to tell me, I will listen, but you are here for healing, not judgement."
She firmly touched his knee, and he jolted a little. She squeaked out, "Sorry! I haven't done this since... I mean, in a while."
He chuckled, "No, I was just not expecting it. You're doing great, Marinette. I'm feeling much better already." Adrien was surprised to find that it was true. He started talking to comfort her, but his head didn't twinge as he shook it anymore.
She chanted over his knee, ankle, and foot before shifting to the other side to start over.
When she finished, she gently rang a gong.
"Try sitting up and moving around. If you need a little more help, I can lead you through some yoga poses as well."
Adrien bent and moved, and it was almost normal. It felt like the week after an accident instead of the day it occurred. "Wow! I feel great. What are the chances that the healing will prevent bruises? I have a photo shoot this weekend, and I'd really like to avoid conversations about this."
"Umm, I have a salve to help, but it has a strong scent of mint. Is that ok?"
"It should be fine. I don't think anyone pays attention to how I smell."
Marinette choked and spluttered, but she composed herself. Be professional, she chided herself. She breathed in and said calmly, "You can come here whenever you need help, but don't come here transformed. If you still—"
"What do you mean 'transformed'?"
"It doesn't matter what I think, Adrien. It only matters if you know what I mean."
"So you didn't need an explanation because you already know what happened?"
She sighed, "I'm sorry, but that's true. Unfortunately for you, only one human and two kwamis know about me. I know that Ladybug isn't the friend who told you to come here, so that leaves the kwamis. If a kwami told you to come here, you are someone who should be warned to not come here transformed."
"Are you going to tell Ladybug that I injured myself like an idiot?"
"Of course not! Whatever happens here is between us. Consider it client privileges." She smiled sweetly at him and started blowing out candles.
He sheepishly responded, "I should have known that, Marinette. I trust you, I was just thinking that Ladybug knew about this and I didn't so she probably has your loyalty over me."
"Ladybug knows because I trained for this from her Master, and she does have my loyalty, but not over anyone else. And especially not over you, Adrien."
"You are so amazing, Marinette. Would I be imposing if I asked to work through a couple of yoga poses?"
She smiled brightly, "Of course not! I offered, remember?"
They moved through several poses, and by the third set Adrien was moving naturally.
He checked his phone and rolled his eyes, "My bodyguard knows that I haven't come home after that Akuma alert, and it's passed time for school to be out. I better go. He said he'd give me another twenty minutes before he lets Nathalie know I am missing."
Marinette walked him down to the door, and he pulled her in for a hug. "You're a lifesaver, Marinette. And," he pulled back smiling sincerely, "I am glad you know who I am. I didn't think I would feel anything but panic, but it's comforting to know that someone knows what I do."
Marinette smiled a secretive smile and leaned up to kiss Adrien's cheek, "I'm glad it's you."
They stood there looking at each other until Marinette's Ladybug side came back out, and she reminded him, "Even if I know who you are, you can't come here transformed. Remember what happened to the last person who tangled up with superheroes."
"I'll protect you, Marinette. I always have." He took a step away but turned back to say, "I'll see you soon. Take care!"
Once he was out of earshot, Tikki flew out. "So, now you know... Are you going to tell him who you are?"
"No," Marinette sighed, "It isn't time yet. Let's see if I can manage to be normal around him first. My first priority is to keep us safe though. If he was targeted because of me, I think I would lose my mind."
Tikki nodded before a sly smile covered her face, "Still, at least it makes sense why you are so drawn to Chat."
"Yeah, that's definitely a relief. I have been getting distracted by that silly Chat more than I should."
Tikki smiled widely. Marinette wasn't denying her feelings for Chat Noir anymore. Everything was on the way to being settled.