so maybe annie downloads snapchat on jeff’s phone before she leaves for DC, and he’s all grouchy about it, saying he’s too old for the new wave of social media and he thinks, at 25, she probably is too. but annie sends him and the rest of their friends snaps each day and, though he never mentions it when they talk on the phone, she can tell he always views them right away.
after a couple of weeks she gets alerts that he’s taking screenshots and it makes her laugh, because she’s not sending anything worth saving – just photos of her bored at her desk and the tiny bedroom in her capitol hill apartment and the foamy leaf design in her $4 latte.
the next time they talk she tries to keep it to herself – because he must not know she gets alerts when he screenshots and she doesn’t want to embarrass him – but somehow she just blurts it out and then there’s stunned silence on the line and she kinda panics a bit.
but after a moment jeff just laughs, a quiet, bashful laugh she doesn’t often hear from him, and even though they’re not facetiming she knows he’s shrugging his shoulders.
“i just like seeing glimpses of your life, i guess,” he says. “and the time limit stresses me out – how am i supposed to digest a photo in under 10 seconds? it’s ridiculous.”
she texts him photos after that. every time he replies, “[screenshot].”
Marinette was not home when he came to visit. Of course, he
didn’t realize this at first. The window had been left open, as she had started
to do after several complaints from her neighbors about her cat (so she
claimed; he liked to believe she was growing fond of his visits), so Chat had
snuck inside and shut the window, as usual. Once he was inside, though, he
noticed the lights were off and Marinette was nowhere to be found. She wasn’t
laying on the couch pretending to sleep or watch TV just to ignore him for a
little longer, she wasn’t in the kitchen cooking up something delicious that he
would beg her to share just a morsel with him, she wasn’t in her bedroom asleep
or at her desk working on her newest design.
It was Friday night, their night together, but she wasn’t
home. Had she forgotten? Or worse… not cared? Maybe she had a date tonight. The
thought made the hair on the back of his neck stand up and his jaw clench.
Okay, so maybe Marinette wasn’t really “his” yet… but the last thing he wanted was some nice, well-dressed rich
man showing up and stealing Chat’s princess. Oh sure, that Mari-stealer would
know his manners, and smile real charmingly, and maybe even kiss her hand as he
said goodnight – and how dare he, that was Chat’s thing, not his – and she’d
giggle that sweet laugh of hers and fall for
it, fall for him, because who on
earth would choose a poor, stealing alley cat over a rich guy with a steady
Marinette deserved better than both of them, but at the very
least she deserved more than Chat could ever offer her in his lifetime.
Still. He wasn’t very good at sharing.
He would interrogate Marinette next week. For now, he would go
home and lick his emotional wounds – ignored, unwanted, not even warned she
would be gone and probably left for some stuck-up snob in a suit – and work up
the courage to support her had she actually started to date someone. It
wouldn’t be easy.
Chat had never meant for it to be serious. The pet name
“princess” had simply come to him off the top of his head and he used it
because it fit; Marinette was a princess, kind and honest and beautiful. He
wasn’t sure when the possessive “my” started to appear before the pet name, but
he liked the sound of it, the reassurance that whatever it was they had
together, it was theirs, and for the night, they were each other’s.
He promised Plagg he wouldn’t be squished, but he soon
discovered that it was far too late for warnings. He was falling fast and
falling hard for this girl with sky blue eyes that he could soar through for
ages, with a wide, brilliant smile that lit up her room, no, the whole of
Paris, at least in his eyes. He came more often just so he could be with her,
even if they were simply sleeping or watching TV. He wanted to learn everything
about Marinette, from her favorite fabric to work with, to how many puns she
would endure before wrinkling her nose (or, if he was lucky, shooting one or
two back). He wanted to hold her hand as they walked through the park, carry
her across rooftops and show her the brilliant Paris night sky, and maybe even,
if miracles truly happened, kiss her cheek as he bid her goodnight. He would
daydream of Marinette during the day and long for her during his work, so much
so that Plagg had started to complain (as if he had never been in love before
and didn’t see the point). His lips would start to linger on her hand a bit
longer than necessary, and his cuddling would bring him as close as she would
allow. If Marinette had noticed his sudden desire to be near her, she didn’t
bring it up.
The fact was he was completely and utterly under her thumb by
now, and if she was out with someone else, he knew his heart would shatter. So
maybe it was best if he didn’t know where she was right now.
He wouldn’t ask. Marinette had her own life. If she didn’t
like him like that, he would… well, he wouldn’t be okay, but at least he would
live and do his best to support her – and commit murder should the snob decide
to break her heart.
Chat was just about to leave, when out of the corner of his
eye he saw his name. Curiosity got the best of him, and he stepped over to
Marinette’s desk. A mug half-filled with what smelled like coffee and a phone
blaring the last number called in bright red letters sat on the desk next to a
wanted poster. Chat lifted the poster and looked over it.
Wanted by Paris Police
Department for repeated acts of robbery and attack of an officer of the law.
Goes by the alias Chat Noir. The details of this thief are largely unknown.
From all previous reports we believe the thief to be male and wearing a
cat-eared hoodie and black mask. If seen, report in immediately to the
Chat held the poster limply in his hands, staring at it in
disbelief. A lump formed in his throat as his eyes flickered to the phone
laying on the desk and the phone number it displayed, desperately praying to
every deity he knew that it wasn’t true, there was no way she had done this
because at the very least, they were friends and friends didn’t…
It matched the number on the wanted poster.
Marinette had called the police.
Marinette was absolutely exhausted as she walked to her
apartment, hoping for nothing less than to flop face-first into her mattress
and sleep the rest of the week away. Her shift today had been long and
exerting, one chase down the streets after the other. She couldn’t understand
why every criminal was so set on running. It would be so much easier if they
just gave up; no one would be tired, no one would have to dodge traffic, and no
one would get tased. See? Easy. Why couldn’t they understand that?
With a sigh, Marinette leaned against the elevator wall,
waiting to reach her floor. Today was Friday, right? Chat Noir would come to
visit. Maybe she could convince him to give her a massage… or maybe start a
bubble bath for her to soak in for the next month or so… heck, she’d be happy
if he’d give her a break from those ridiculous puns. Yes, that seemed like a
plan. No puns tonight since she was exhausted. He would understand.
It took a moment for her weary mind to process the thought
process. It was Friday afternoon. Chat always visited on Friday night, so she
had left her window open. She had been going over Chat’s files, looking at the
wanted poster (and laughing because they knew so little before guilt replaced
her mirth since she was the reason they knew so little), when the station had
called. Myléne was out sick, could Marinette please come in and take her shift?
She was supposed to be done before Chat usually came home, so she agreed and
went out. The shift took longer than it was supposed to. Too many calls, not
enough officers available, and who better to do the job than Ladybug herself?
By the time she was finally headed home, it was almost ten. Chat always came
Her eyes widened and she stood up straight, exhaustion
suddenly disappearing. She had left the window open. Chat was in her house,
alone, and she had left the wanted poster out on her desk.
The elevator doors opened with a ding, and Marinette raced
down the hallway to reach her room. She fumbled with her keys and swung the
door open, letting it slam closed as she sped inside. The living room window
was closed and locked, as Chat always left it when he came in. A few blankets
and pillows had been tossed aside on the couch – no doubt he had been looking
for her – and her bedroom door was pushed open. Marinette stumbled inside,
hoping that maybe he hadn’t seen it, hadn’t noticed, had gone home some other
way or was playfully sleeping in her bed.
Chat stood by her desk, staring at the poster he held in one
hand and the phone he held in the other. His emerald eyes met hers
accusatorily, as if waiting for her to make her excuse (or begging her to prove
his suspicions wrong). Marinette stared back, mouth dry.
Finally he spoke, his words dripping with spite, a tone she
had never heard him use before. “I thought we were friends.”
Tears pricked at her eyes. “C-Chat, it’s… it’s not what you
“Are you sure? Because I think
you reported me in. I think you
gave me away. Are they on their way now, princess?” He looked over her
shoulder, as if searching for a group of officers behind her. “Huh? How long
until they get here? Were you told to stall?” Marinette couldn’t answer, silent
tears dripping down her cheeks as she weakly shook her head. Chat scowled and
shut the door behind her before pinning her against it. His hot breath brushed
her face as he glared down at her. “Answer
She desperately tried to come up with something, anything to
tell him that wouldn’t betray her identity. He didn’t know she was an officer.
He didn’t know she was working a shift tonight. He had no idea she was Ladybug,
and that’s why the wanted poster was on her desk. What excuse could she give to
satisfy him? What could she say to make him trust her again?
“I… I went in… interview,” Marinette manages, wiping desperately
at her tears. “R-Reports of stranger… coming in window… neighbors were
worried…” She was lying to him again, but it was better than the alternative
(at least, she kept telling herself that). What else was she supposed to do?
Chat’s eyes widened as he stumbled back. “You… didn’t call the
police?” She shook her head, watching as guilt filled his expression. “Oh, I…
Marinette, I’m so… and I thought you…”
He watched, distraught, as Marinette slid down the door and
sobbed into her hands. Not only had she upset him, scared him into thinking she
had faked their entire friendship to turn him in, but now she was lying to him
just to keep her identity a secret. Was it really worth it to lie to him?
It was. It had to be. If this was how he reacted to the idea
of her calling the police, there was no doubt in her mind that he would
absolutely despise her if he ever found out she was Ladybug. Chat would think
she was just trying to get close so she could take him in. He would never trust
her again, never want to see her again.
She never wanted that to happen, but she hated having to lie
Marinette felt Chat move beside her, but refused to move her
hands from her face. He didn’t deserve such an awful, deceiving friend who was
practically working behind his back to put him behind bars. Times like these,
she wished she never decided to be an officer. It would have made life so much
Chat lightly held her wrists and carefully, as if fearing she
would fall apart if he applied too much force, drew them from her face.
Marinette stared up at Chat with wide, guilty eyes, the same guilt that was
reflected in his own green eyes.
“I’m so sorry, Marinette,” he murmured, his thumbs stroking
soothing circles against her wrists. “I should have known… I never should have
accused you of reporting me in.” Marinette attempted to argue, to insist that
he was right, she was the enemy and he should yell and scream and leave, but
ended up only hiccupping. Before she could blink Chat drew her into his arms,
holding her close as he rubbed her back, letting her sob into his shoulder. She
was vaguely aware of him whispering into her ear, but the words blurred together
to a low, lulling hum. He rocked her a little, swaying Marinette in his arms
until her breathing calmed.
The rest was a blur, her exhaustion from the long day and the sudden swell of emotion getting the best of her. She remembered bits and pieces,
the feeling of Chat’s hoodie pressed to her cheek replaced by a cotton
pillowcase, the smell of Chat’s scent disappearing and missed, the brush of
lips against her cheek with a murmured apology. She tried to apologize as well, but he
had ignored it with a shake of his head. On his way out, she had a moment of
clarity, a moment prompting her to say something incredibly important. Lifting
her head from the pillow, she had called for him, and Chat stopped, waiting.
“Please… come back…” Marinette begged.
He had looked surprised, and had he been closer, she surely
would have seen tears in his eyes. True to his image, though, Chat grinned,
shot her a wink, and promised, “I will, princess. Your knight will always
Marinette awoke the next morning alone in her bedroom, with a
single crimson rose laying on her nightstand.