“And here we are, my princess.”
Was the nickname worth the jab in the chest when it made her smile like that? It was absolutely worth the jab in the chest when it made her smile like that.
“Fla—… flatterer,” Ladybug-cum-Marinette yawned as she left his arms and touched down next to the back entrance to their school. “Careful with that mouth of yours. It’s gonna get you in trouble one day.”
“I’ll be careful,” said Chat, much more awake than his partner, who’d just spent the last twelve hours in a self-sustaining time loop. “Only for you, ma belle.”
She rolled her eyes, a fond smile playing around the corners of her mouth, but the sound of skidding footsteps cut off her retort, and they both looked up to find…
The journalist blinked first at Marinette, who, now that he thought about it, looked rather suspiciously tired and sweaty, then at Chat, who was also tired and sweaty, though for much weaker reasons.
Alya’s mouth formed a perfect ‘O’.
Chat could see the cogs click into place. He wondered if it was too late to go back to fighting Timebreaker.
“A-A-Alya?” Marinette asked, interrupting the staring contest as the name falling on the tail end of another yawn. “What are you doing back here?”
“I could ask you the same thing,” said the far more alert of the two, and Chat wondered if he should intervene somehow, or if he’d just make it worse.
“Mnnh,” said Marinette, stretching distractingly out of the corner of his eye. “Chat was just… dropping me off.”
Alya’s eyes almost glowed.
Did he save Marinette from their friend’s reporter tendencies and risk giving her the scoop himself, or just leave well enough alone and trust their friend to not pick up the scandal they were almost laying out for her?
“That was nice of him,” said Alya, faux casual as she sidled past him to grab Marinette by the elbow, squinting suspiciously at him as she did so. “How do you know him?”
“Oh,” said Marinette, laughing. “We’re—”
Chat raised his eyebrows at her from behind his mask.
Marinette’s smile froze on her face. “Th-that is, we, um. We just met! Ahaha! He saw me walking here and offered to give me a ride! Nothing like… well. Um. I’ll stop talking now.”
Alya looked from her exhausted mess of a best friend to the exhausted mess of a suspected supervillain, and said, “I… see.”
…Well, it could be worse, mused Chat, slowly dropping his face into his waiting hand so he could press the heel of his palm to his forehead. It could have been raining, too.
Right on cue, thunder rumbled in the distance, a dramatic threat for what would most likely be a quick summer shower.
…Fuck his life.