i think i shall pat myself on the back

Checkmate ~ Part Seven

Rest and relaxation was all that you could hope for after the ordeal you had just been through, but the next day at your manor was proving to be one of the oddest you had ever experienced.

“I-I don’t understand. You’ve fallen in love with her? When did you even meet her?” Rising from your seat, you pressed your hands on the solid cherrywood desk before you. Your brow twitched in utter bewilderment as you stated at your fiancée, who had just declared his love for Elizabeth Midford.

“Well, it was only yesterday actually. I was here, awaiting your return and she dropped by in hopes of surprising you and Ciel. I offered to show her around and keep her entertained and we hit it off.” Shrinking away, he clasped his hands behind his back, dropping his gaze to the floor as to avert his eyes from your judgmental state.

“Hit it off? Do you even realize how idiotic you sound? You’ve known the girl a mere day and you’re professing your love for her? Life isn’t some sort of fairytale, you know. Love at first sight is a myth!” Exasperated, you pressed your hands to your forehead, trying to contemplate how in the hell this happened.

“Lizzy doesn’t think so.” Liam raised his eyes with a start as he leveled his gaze with yours. “If you’re jealous or hurt, please know this doesn’t mean I care for you any less, but we aren’t fooling anyone. You and I are only in this for political reasons and I just can’t do it anymore. I still consider you a very dear friend.”

Opening your mouth to speak, you found yourself at a rare loss for words. All you could do was stare at Liam’s kind and honest face, until you heaved a great sigh and found the right words to say.

“Liam, I understand. I’ve never been a fan of any arranged marriages, this one being no exception. I’m simply in shock at the abruptness of all this. For goodness sakes, I was gone a day! I want you to be happy and if this is an excuse to be rid of this politically-appointed burden of an engagement, then I wish you the best of luck. Honestly, you two are far better-suited for one another. I’m sure she does believe in love at first sight and fairy tales and all of that nonsense. She’s better for you, so you have my blessing if you feel this will make you happy, but just be wary, all right? She is engaged also.”

“I understand. She promised she would dissolve her engagement straightaway. I’m to meet her at her manor tonight, so I must be leaving soon. I wanted to explain myself in person and I do hope this isn’t the end of our relationship.” His smile was so innocent and honest, you couldn’t help but return a soft grin.

“Of course not. Honestly, this is for the best. Where everyone is concerned, I feel. Personally, I think you and I might even get along better now. I wish you all the best.”

“Thank you, (Y/N). For everything. I shall see you soon.” Stepping toward you, Liam moved around the desk to give you a tight squeeze, which you returned as you patted his back gently.

“No, thank you. Travel safely. I’ll be seeing you.”

His smile remained as he pulled away and moved to exit the room, looking back over his shoulder just before he took is leave.

“Goodbye, (Y/N).” With a gentle nod, he took his leave, allowing you to sit down in your high-backed chair as you let your forehead collapse into the palm of your hand.

How in the hell would Ciel react to this?

“Mistress? You’ve fallen asleep in your study again.” Hannah’s gentle tone stirred you from your slumber.

“Hmm? Oh, thank you, Hannah. What time is it?” Collecting your thoughts, you sat up straight and suddenly recalled the unexpected events of the day. You shook your head, still trying to wrap your mind around what had happened.

“Mistress?” Hannah’s expression looked mildly concerned as she set a gentle hand on your shoulder and it was at that moment you realized she was speaking to you.

“Yes, I’m sorry. Just a bit groggy. What is it that you were saying?”

“The Earl of Phantomhive is here to see you. Shall I send him in?”

Ciel flooded your thoughts. Lizzy must have broken the news to him as well. Who knows how he took the sudden change of plans.

“Yes, please. Send him in.”

“Very well.”

In a flash, Hannah had disappeared and just a moment later, she opened the door to allow Ciel into the study, unaccompanied.

“Hello. I take it you heard the news?” Sarcasm dropped from your words as you stood to greet him.

“So you have heard as well. Honestly, I couldn’t believe it at first. I didn’t know whether to be relieved or insulted.”

You cracked a smile, fighting back your laughter, but to no avail. A giggle left your throat and Ciel shot you a curious glare.

“What’s so funny?”

“Honestly? I thought the exact same thing. I mean, after over a decade of being ‘engaged’, he walks in here and tells me he’s actually fallen in love with someone and it’s over. Everything we were expected to be, just gone. I mean, not like we would have ever been married anyway, but still. Any normal person would be devastated, right? Yet here I am, feeling the same way as you; relieved. My goodness, it’s days like these that remind me how sick and twisted my life can be.” Returning to your seat, you crossed your legs and folded your arms over one another, shaking your head as you continued to laugh at your unusual situation. A hearty chuckle could be heard across the desk and you whipped your head toward Ciel for solid proof that it was he who had actually made that sound.

“You’re right. You’re absolutely right. I’m relieved. Maybe the humanity that’s left with me doesn’t want to admit that, but it’s true. Perhaps we ought to be celebrating our newfound single status.” For the first time since you’d met him, you saw a glimmer of genuine amusement in his eye as Ciel grinned in your direction.

Mirroring his expression, you decided he was right. “Hannah, bring us a bottle of champagne, would you? We have cause for celebration.”

One of the “fun” things I have learned about me and my relationship to productivity is that no matter what I do I will almost always end the day feeling as if I haven’t achieved anything worthwhile. There are the rare occasions when a big project or task gets accomplished and I pat myself on the back but mostly it’s me thinking of all the ways I fall short or could have done better. This is something that has only plagued me since working at home and I know it’s attached to my feelings of worth about the work itself. 

So I want to get better about celebrating the little things and letting my work for the day, however much I did, be enough. Does anybody have any strategies that they use or find helpful?

Special thanks to @x-aa for allowing me to use her art for the thumbnail!

“Chat?”

He looked up to see Marinette standing in front of him. It was the middle of the night and he was sitting on a park bench, not wanting to go home quite yet. “Princess? What are you doing out so late, alone?” He asked.

“I… was trying to catch some footage of the Akuma fight as a present for Alya!” She exclaimed.

“That’s not safe,” He said, patting the space next to him as a gesture for her to sit down.

“I guess you could call me a rebel.”

“A pretty cute one,” he winked.

“You never stop flirting, do you kitty?”

“It’s im-paw-sible.”

“You’re starting to make me feel bad for Ladybug,” she joked, sitting down next to him.

“Why do you say that?” he asked.

“How would she feel if she knew that you were flirting with other girls?”

“Oh, but Marinette,” he said, leaning in towards her, “You aren’t just some other girl.”

She was a bit taken aback by his words. “What’s that supposed to mean?” She laughed, glancing away from his gaze.

“I’m sorry, did I fluster you?” Chat grinned, pulling away from her face. “I’m only teasing after all.”

“Are you hungry?”

“A little, why?”

“I guess I’m the kind of person who likes to feed stray cats.”

Chat couldn’t help but let his grin grow wider. A home-cooked meal is everything he wanted in that moment. “What’s on the menu?” He asked.

“How about we stop at the store first and you can pick out your favorites.”

“Really? You’ll make me lumpia?”

“Lumpia?” Marinette turned around with a question on her face. “What’s that?”

“Filipino egg rolls.”

That’s your favorite food?”

“I just want to eat it.”

“…Chat?” Marinette glanced over at him, “…Did you see this in an Anime?”

“What? No!”

“Reeeeally?” Marinette asked, skepticism bleeding out of her voice.

“…Yes…”

“Okay. I’ll look up the recipe online,” she said, pulling out her phone. “Let’s see… We’ll need meat, green onions, carrots, egg roll wrappers…” She quickly typed up what ingredients her parents didn’t have at home and started walking ahead.

“Wait for me, Princess!” He called after her. Several phones were out by the time they reached the store, recording Paris’ favorite superhero racing shopping carts with a random girl.

“Don’t you think we’re a little old for this?” Marinette asked, balancing herself on the railing of her cart as her feet hovered above the floor.

“Never.”

“Coming from the guy wearing a mask.”

“Touche,” He smiled, grabbing a package of ground turkey, “Would you prefer this, or pork?”

“Ground turkey will be easier to cook,” She said, comparing prices. “Anything else you’d like before we check out? Some chocolate, perhaps?”

“Chocolate?” Chat’s ears popped up at the suggestion. “I can have some?”

“Yes?” Marinette wasn’t sure why her partner was so excited at her recommendation. Was he not allowed to eat sweets often?

“What kind? Like, a chocolate bar, or truffles? Or maybe something dipped in chocolate! Or, because it’s almost Christmas, Orange-flavored chocolate that you can peel ‘slices’ off of?”

She bit back a laugh at the sight of so much excitement in the young man’s stature. “Yeah, okay. We’ll get two orange-flavored breakaway chocolate balls.”

His face light up and he sprinted to the candy aisle, leaving Marinette to follow him like a mother with her five-year-old son. “Milk or dark chocolate?” He asked, his arms filled with the seasonal chocolate.

“Whichever you’d like,” She said, “But you can only get two, and one of them is for me.”

Chat stood up after a few minutes, proudly holding out his selection- one dark chocolate and one milk chocolate. “Are these two okay?” he asked.

“Perfect choice. Shall we go check out?”

“Yeah!” He returned to his place at her side and waved at a passing child looking at him in awe.

“I bet you just made that kid’s day,” Marinette said, patting him on the back.

“You think?”

“If you go ask to take a picture with him he’ll be the most popular boy in school for a week.”

“I… guess. I mean, I never really thought of myself that way.”

“Come on, Chat. All of Paris looks up to you,” Marinette said, unloading the cart onto the checkout.

“Do you really think so?” He asked.

“What makes you question it?”

“I mean, do you think Ladybug views me in that light?”

Marinette froze with her hands on the onions. “What do you mean?”

“Do you think Ladybug looks up to me?” He unloaded the chocolate onto the conveyor belt.

“Yes.”

Chat looked up at her in surprise of her stern answer and didn’t know how to respond. The cashier checked them out and they made their way back to her place in silence. He was on the edge the whole time, unable to tell if the quiet between them was uncomfortable or not.

“Here’s a spatula. If you’ll start the meat I’ll start dicing the onions,” Marinette said, handing him the utensil and the package of ground turkey.

“Medium heat?” He asked.

“Sure, sounds good. Throw some oil in there with it.” Marinette said, turning to dice up the vegetables. A few minutes later she heard an unusual noise and turned to see Chat on the brink of tears.

“What’s wrong?” she asked, suddenly worried about her partner.

“Nothing, I’m just… really happy right now. Sorry, I guess I’m a bit of a crybaby,” Chat said, trying to sniffle his tears back inside him.

“No, really, what’s going on?” She reached up to touch his face in support.

“Nah, it’s stupid.”

“I don’t care. Tell me.”

“It’s just… shopping for food together. Cooking together. It feels nice.”

“What do you mean?”

“I guess I’m just not used to this feeling.”

“And what feeling is that?”

“Home.”

Marinette froze at his bold choice of words. “Home?” She asked.

“I would imagine that this is what shopping with your family feels like,” he sighed, mixing the meat into the bowl and giving her a weak smile. “I think it’s time to start rolling them up.”

“…We need to add the soy sauce first,” Marinette said, unsure how to respond to his remark.

“…Do you plan on having a family, Princess?” He asked.

“As opposed to what?”

“Being a career woman,” Chat said, pulling out a wrapper and spooning the filling on it.

“I think… family would come first,” Marinette said, sealing the wrappers he filled with a beaten egg.

“It would be a nice life, wouldn’t it?”

“Cooking with your family each day?”

“Yeah.”

“…I think so too,” Marinette said, throwing the rolls into a pot of oil. “But Chat, you already have a home whenever you need it.”

“It doesn’t feel like home,” He sighed.

“I’m not talking about where you sleep at night, silly kitty,” Marinette laughed.

“Then… where are you talking about?” He asked, furrowing his brows.

“Here!” She pointed to herself. “Friends can be family too you know.”

“We’re… friends?” Chat said in astonishment, his eyes growing wide.

“Of course we are! I don’t make lumpia with just anyone, you know!”

“Friends…” Chat whispered, staring at his classmate. A warm fire flickered in his heart that brought a smile to his face. Perhaps this feeling of home wasn’t going to be temporary.

—-

Fanfic requests are currently: OPEN
Have an idea for a fanfic? Send it my way and I’ll give it a go!