"I… I want to tell you what really happened. With Chat Blanc." Marinette's breathing had just barely managed to steady, when she dropped this bomb on Adrien's head. She was still in his arms, as they sat on the cold hard ground.
Plagg had returned to the room silently, likely having eaten some cheese. Good, he needed to be transform ready.
"O...okay." Adrien whispered. He stroked her hair, trying to steady his own breathing. He would listen.
"So- so if you remember what I said this morning, that my-" she swallowed, and continued. "...That my love for Chat Noir would end the world. I said that I had been taken with Ladybug to a future where you were akumatized into Chat Noir, and that you called me Marinette, and that only I remembered what happened."
He nodded. He hadn't quite thought about it, but if Marinette was Ladybug… something didn't match up with the stories. How had she managed to separate herself from… herself, in that story before? That and, had Bunnyx brought her in as a civilian? Why would he have…. No, Chat Blanc…. And their love?
"Well, actually, Bunnyx only brought me to that future. As Ladybug. I had no idea what was going on, I just entered her time portal, and came out in a world that was nothing but grey. Dull blue and grey. And you sat there, humming on the roof, 'Little kitty on a roof, all alone without his lady.'" she took a shuddering breath.
Adrien attempted to calm his own breathing, as he listened. He desperately tried not to clench his hands, he had to stay calm. He had sung that. He had sung that exact song before.
"You- no, Chat Blanc," she interrupted herself. "Chat Blanc came to me, all lighthearted and- and wrong. He was joking one moment, furious the next- and he- he asked me to save him," her voice lowered into a whisper. "But then, we started fighting, and he said, 'Now you're breaking more than just my heart, Marinette!'"
Adrien gasped, and she nodded. "I was completely transformed," she confirmed. "He knew who I was." She watched the ground for a moment, before continuing, her voice steadier than before, but still shaking. "The destroyed city should have been enough for me to realize, but when he used that 'mega cataclysm'... It was too much. It was terrifying."
"He mentioned that Hawkmoth found out about everything and kept saying that it was our love that did this. We kept fighting, I even fell in the ocean, oh yeah, the water level rose cus the moon was split in two-" Adrien's eyes widened. That was something of a detail to have missed. Apparently, he had even split the moon in two?
….And Marinette had to fight him alone?
"-and I saw myself, next to Hawkmoth, both of us ash statues." She didn't mention how it was the same as a cataclysm. She didn't have to. "I never would have defeated him fighting. I only managed to get the akuma- from his bell- after pretending like I had given up."
"He flicked his bell, saying he was not Chat Noir. He was Chat Blanc. I felt his heartbeat, it- it really was Chat Noir, alive underneath it all. And when I deevilized him, he trusted me completely. Even though my Miraculous Ladybug would essentially cease his existence."
She stopped, her lips still slightly parted as if to say something more, but her story was complete. All Adrien could do was pull her closer and try to breathe.
He replayed her story in his head, as he held her close, just barely trying to process everything.
He had been akumatized. He had destroyed the world- and moon too, form the sounds of it. He had almost killed Marinette. He had blamed their love for it all, and she had to face him alone.
He felt tears of his own come to his eyes. And she thought she was weak? "I'm- I'm so, so sorry," he choked.
"It's not your fault, kitty," she whispered, moving her hand up to stroke his hair in return. "It- it won't happen again-" Her eyes widened, her jaw hanging open as her gaze flicked to movement from the window. "Tikki, spots on!" she shouted.
Adrien froze as he felt the surge of magic, but not from his own miraculous. It was much softer, no not soft, it was just as powerful- just a different kind of power. It was rounder at the edges. "Time to deevilize," she murmured, the yo-yo pulling the darkened butterfly into its wings. "Spots off," and the magic was gone.
Adrien was speechless. It was one thing to hear it, it was another to see it. "M-Marinette-" he began. That- that akuma… it hadn't been for her, had it? "I'm so-"
"No!" she interrupted him. "Don't you dare apologize."
"But- after everything you went through, the whole point of this was that I don't get akumatized! And yet-"
"Chat!" she interrupted again, her eyes filling with tears. "You- you aren't even transformed right now, for one. For two- Chat Blanc isn't going to happen again- because I'll be right next to you, this whole time." she swore.
Adrien swallowed. "I… I was supposed to be protecting you."
Smiling softly, she took his hand, her thumb drawing circles on it. "And you did, Kitty."
He blinked, to push back tears threatening to flow. He had to go back. "...How long?"
She blinked. "What?"
"How long have you been dealing with Chat Blanc? When did you go to fight him…?"
She swallowed. "Several months now. It was on Adrien's fifth name's day, Saint Athanasius Day." He froze. She kept that close track of his civilian self? To both know his fifth name, which honestly, he had forgotten about, had he not received that beret-
"That beret I-" He stopped. "I mean, that beret Adrien got, that was from you…?"
Marinette's eyes widened. "You know about it? Maybe you two had a conversation about it then…." Chat frowned in confusion. "The beret was actually the trigger, for some reason. Adrien saw me give it to me as Ladybug, but it was signed by Marinette, so he must have connected the dots."
"...But it wasn't signed?"
She shook her head. "That was because I erased my name, such that he wouldn't be able to make the connection. I wasn't sure how Adrien figuring out my identity led to you figuring it out, but you had a conversation with him then, huh? You probably both figured it out in that timeline…."
Adrien opened his mouth to speak but closed it again. What was he supposed to say to that? Was she ready for his identity? Also, Ladybug had said it was from Brazil… but she had actually been the one to make it. Not to mention, it had hearts embroidered into it-
Okay, okay, okay, he's getting ahead of himself.
"...That's part of the reason I've been so adamant about our identities, and that I can't be in love with you," she whispered.
OKAY maybe he's not getting ahead of himself.
"You- you're in love with me?" he squeaked.
She burst into laughter. "'I'm terrified my love for Chat Noir will end the world' ring any bells? Yes, I love you, you silly kitty."
His mouth flopped open like a fish, then closed again. "My- Mari-" he spluttered.
She flushed. "I- I think you probably figured out who the other boy is by now, especially knowing I'm Marinette…." No, no he most certainly had not. "After all, it's pretty weird to pay attention to a boy's many middle names and then give handmade things for their name's day," she winced.
Adrien's heart pounded in his chest. "S-so, this whole time, the other boy was- was Adrien?"
She nodded. "...I admit, I still have some feelings for him, but… Only one boy has saved my life, time and time again. Only one boy was willing to become furious for me," her face darkened. "Adrien is kind. The kindest person I know. He's perfect, in every way. But that's the thing. He's too perfect, he's too kind, he's willing to forgive too much. But you,"
She turned to face him, but his brain was barely working at the moment. All Adrien could do was hang on to what she was about to say. "You're my partner. My other half. You have an incredible amount of kindness in you too, even if no one else notices it. Who is it that comforts the victims after everything? That's you. Yes, you have terrible puns, timing, rush into battle, keep getting yourself hurt for me no matter how many times I tell you not to-"
Marinette hesitated to take a breath. "But that's you. I always thought you were happy all the time, like your joking demeanor suggests, but…" she chuckled. "Well, today certainly proved me wrong. You're as sensitive as it gets, and you… you have a hard home life. I never realized. I'm sorry I dismissed that, assuming you were happy like that," she murmured, sincerely apologizing.
She hesitated, waiting for him to say something, but when he didn't, she continued. "So… uhm, yeah. I love you, Chat Noir. And I have for a long time, I think, I just never really realized it. And by the time I did, Chat Blanc was hanging over my head."
Adrien took a deep breath. And another. Screw it, there was no way he was gonna clear his thoughts. "Marinette… I'm so sorry you had to go through that all alone. And for so long. I'm sorry I never realized how much you were suffering either. I thought this was all easy for you, you're always so strong."
"But that was a perfect strength. I was putting you on a pedestal," he realized, "As Ladybug. You were the strongest thing out there, when in reality your strength was more than that- you were suffering. And you were still the most powerful thing out there."
He chuckled. "It was only today that I realized I loved Marinette just as much as Ladybug." she froze, and he cracked a small smile. He knew that feeling. "I realized that it's when I'm with you that I feel like I'm at home. It's Marinette that stood up to her bullies, it's Marinette that is the kindest civilian that I know- to the point of being an everyday Ladybug." he laughed. Kwamis, he was stupid.
"I- I love you too. My Lady, My Princess, Ladybug, Marinette." He listed softly. "I- I would like to show you my identity, if I could…?"
She blushed bright red. "You- you can't- that's-" she spluttered. "I- I haven't even said anything else! Identity now?!"
He laughed. "I know yours. Besides…." He smiled fondly. "We'd be able to stand together… as civilians and as superheroes. And, I think it would help you better understand where I'm coming from… and why you can trust that I know you, Marinette."
Her eyes widened. "...That's why you've been disguising your voice. I know you."
He froze. He had completely forgotten to disguise his voice. For- for however long this conversation had been going on. "...Yeah." he confirmed.
Slowly, closed her eyes, taking a breath. She then opened them with determination, her hands rose to his hood, brushing against his hair. She slowly pulled his hood down, revealing the mess of blonde locks underneath.
She swallowed, seeming to already have her answer, but even so she moved her hands down to his mask. The mask she had most certainly made before today. Adrien could feel his heart in his throat as her hands continued to still and made the mistake of catching her eyes. His pale green on her bluebell. Her hesitation on his anticipation, waiting for her to remove the cloth mask.
Her hands seemed to jerk for a moment, before she carefully untied the strings, her hands brushing against his ears. He found himself closing his eyes, as she pulled it away, almost afraid to watch her reaction. Her breathing became unsteady, and he heard her choke on a sob.
His eyes flew open, to see her hand over her mouth, her eyes filled with tears. Instinctively, he pulled her into a hug, and realized after he had done so that perhaps her reaction as negative and that was the wrong act to make.
...She had just compared Adrien with Chat Noir, and Adrien didn't seem to be very high on her list at the moment. But she buried her face in his chest, hugging him tightly. "I love you so much, you stupid kitty!" her voice was muffled through his shirt, mixed with sobs. "...Adrien."
AN: And that's a wrap! Thanks for coming along with me for the angst and fluff train, with Marichat as the fuel. I have an idea for a sequel, though at the moment I'm working on another fic, so I'm not sure when I would be able to get the sequel written. It will have a little more plot than this one, though I plan to stuff it with angst and fluff for sure! (Gotta touch on all the things going on here- how Gabe takes this, some Bunnyx thoughts, more relationship, and drama all over the place.