for @portentous-offerings who is my sick buddy today. Feel better my friend ^_^
“She’s never going to love me.”
It was so quiet she almost missed it.
“What did you say Kitty?” she asked, her face still pressed into his back from where they were cuddling in her bed.
“Forget it. I shouldn’t have said anything,” he said, rolling over and giving her a cheeky smile that didn’t reach his eyes.
“Are… are you talking about Ladybug?” she asked softly, feeling the knot of guilt that had steadily been building over the last few months of this strange friendship they had fallen into.
He didn’t bring up her alter ego very often. The subject of romance in general always seeming to carry some sort of bizarre taboo whenever he stopped by for his increasingly frequent visits. Not that Marinette had minded. She had Alya to cry to about her lack-luster love life after all, and given how unwaveringly supportive he was about all of her other problems, it seemed silly to hold it against him that he was uncomfortable talking to a girl about crushes and the like.
His eyes flashed guiltily and he rolled back over, staring out into the darkness of the room.
“Really it’s nothing,” he said again, but he couldn’t quite mask the defeated tone that colored his words.
It was a sound she was all too used to. The same defeated cadence that had echoed from her own lips after her disastrous attempt at confessing to Adrien 5 months and 27 days earlier that no amount of Rom-coms or Alya suggested poster-burning had been able to cure.
“Chat, it isn’t nothing,” she said, sitting up and gently trying to pull him back around. He didn’t budge, still keeping his gaze obstinately fixed at something that she couldn’t see. “If it matters to you… it isn’t nothing. Not to me.”
“It’s not appropriate,” he said softly, “and it’s not fair to you.”
“Shouldn’t I get to be the judge of that?”
“It would be selfish-“
“So be selfish!” she said with a slightly forced laugh. “Trust me, you have a long way to go before you catch up to my level of selfish so I am hardly one to judge.” She teased her fingers through his hair, letting her nails scratch delicately against his scalp and felt him relax in spite of himself.
“Yeah right,” he scoffed lightly, “your strange phone kleptomania aside, you’re a pretty stand-up person.”
“Hey, I will have you know I have been working very hard to reform my phone-napping ways,” she teased, hoping to draw out a real smile from him.
“You stole Alya’s phone just last week!”
“That was a special circumstance. I told you so,” she pouted. “Besides, Adrien doesn’t deserve to be taunted like that no matter what Alya might say about it,” she added softly.
She felt Chat stiffen slightly, his cat ear twitching at her words, and she was once again suspicious that he knew all about her romantic trouble regardless of their lack of conversation on the subject. She flushed at the thought.
“You are one of the most selfless people I know,” he said, reaching up to grasp her hand in his own and give it a brief reassuring squeeze.
The guilt Marinette was feeling was almost overpowering as the thought of the secrets she was keeping from him weighed on her like a stone. He had never questioned how they had fallen into such an easy friendship, and she had become too attached to having him as a part of her life- her normal everyday life- to be willing to admit the one-sidedness of it all. Here she was getting mopey over someone she had sworn she was done chasing after in front of a guy whose heart she routinely seemed to trample into the dust. Talk about selfish.
“Please just tell me,” she whispered, her fingers resuming their seductive strokes that she knew full well would reduce him to a compliant puddle in her lap.
He was silent for a few more moments before finally letting out a small defeated sigh.
“I was just thinking about everything and I guess I just…” he hesitated. “She’ll never love me. I know that. I think on some level I always suspected as much.”
His voice wasn’t bitter or angry, and that calm resignation shattered her own heart into a million pieces more than the actual words he was saying.
“I think,” he continued, “I think I will be ok with it. She loves someone else. She doesn’t really say much about it, maybe to preserve our identities or maybe because she doesn’t want to hurt my feelings, but every once in a while she lets something slip and it’s not that hard to put the pieces together. I always thought it was so cheesy in the movies when people would say things like I just want her to be happy, but I think I get it now. She’s incredible and I am always going to love her, but she doesn’t need me to make her happy.”
Marinette could feel the tears pooling behind her eyes as the words poured out of him in his soft, even tone. Her fingers were frozen, buried in his lush golden hair, her breaths turning shallow and frantic as the words reverberated through her like an electric current.
She stared down at the boy beside her. Her precious, irreplaceable kitten, who loved her so fiercely and believed in her so much. Who was willing to call her out for her faults and yet somehow still believed her capable of rising above them.
“She’s smart,” Chat continued, his voice seeming to echo in the near silence of the night, “and I know that whoever she does choose is going to be someone who can make her happy. Somebody good and funny and able to keep up with her when she is at her best and keep her grounded when she’s at her worst. So I think I can be ok with that.”
She tried to imagine what her future would be with some potential lover. Her heart lurched slightly at the thought of Adrien, her own love that was apparently not to be. She brushed that thought aside and instead tried to picture a world where she was curled up beside some new face, running her fingers through hair that wasn’t blonde.
She had to choke back a sob.
The slight twinge of pain she had felt at the momentary reminder that she and Adrien would never be more than friends was nothing to the soul rendering terror she felt at the sudden realization that finding a new love would inevitably mean losing Chat.
They would still be friends. Of course, it wouldn’t be the same. It wouldn’t be like this. He would never impose like that. Not her Chat. Her partner who was good, and funny, and who had seen her at her best and her worst, who knew her better than anyone, and who still had never made her feel anything less than precious. Her dearest friend who just the momentary thought of a life without him made her feel like she was dying.
Chat let out a small self-deprecating laugh and Marinette wondered how she had ever been so blind.
“So yeah,” he said finally twisting back around to look up at her, “I think I’ll be ok. Even if she doesn’t love me.”
She gazed down at him, his brilliant green eyes glowing in the near darkness of the night, a tired smile on his face that she longed to see transformed into his usual infectious grin, as the truth hit her like a bolt of lightning.
“I do,” she said breathlessly, before leaning down to capture his lips in a long overdue kiss.