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Checkmate

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Marinette walked up the stairs to her class room very carefully. It was her birthday and she had brought each of her classmates a special customized cupcake. She had even brought one for Lila.

Her face broke into a smile when she spotted a few pieces of confetti sparkling on the ground in front of her classroom door.

A surprise party.

She should have expected something so kind from her friends. Sure things had been rocky between them since Lila’s appearance, but Marinette had been working hard to repair her relationships.

She took a breath, preparing herself and walked into the door. Sure enough, her desk was adorned with decorations and a sign. Her eyes flashed to the back of the class room. All her classmates had their party hats in their hands and were surrounding a sobbing Lila. Marinette felt her heart drop.

Alya’s eyes flashed to Marinette. “Girl! Thank goodness! I was wondering when you’d get here” the brunette said, quickly walking towards Marinette. Marinette smiled softly, at least she could rely on Alya to always have her….

“Where have you been. You’re always late… Gosh. Lila needs sugar” she grabbed the box out of Marinette’s hands and walked back up to her classmates.

Marinette stood frozen, arms still outstretched. She slowly began moving, forcing herself out of shock. She placed her bag down at her desk, and noticed ripped up gift wrap strewn along her bench. She bent and picked up the tags:

“To Marinette… From

Luka

Alya

Nino”

The three tags were no longer attached to their gifts.

Marinette walked towards the group. Rose threw her arms around Marinette.

“Lila just received a call that her grandmother had finally lost her five year battle with terminal cancer. Isn’t it awful?” the girl cried. Marinettes arms hung loosely at her side. “Her granny who had driven cross country with her world famous motorbike gang last month?” Marinette said, recalling the time Lila tried to upstage Marinette’s tales of  Gina’s adventures.

All eyes turned to stare and Marinette, Lila picked her head up furious eyes locking with Marinette’s.“How sweet that you remember Marinette. Yes, that was one of her last wishes. We all knew her time was coming” Lila said between sniffs.

Now that her classmates had parted to give the two girls direct access Marinette could see Adrien at Lila’s side. His arms were around the sobbing girl. Marinette felt her blood boil. She saw Lila smirk as her eyes lingered on the tags in Marinette’s clenched fists. “Oh Marinette I’m so sorry about your gifts by the way”.

Alya rushed to Marinette’s side. “Lila said her Nonna always had wrapped gifts for her, so it just triggered an epileptic attack” the brunette explained simply, like what she was saying wasn’t absolute lunacy.

“I had to give her Luka’s gift. Lila said holding metal helps prevent attacks” Juleka said. Lila opened her hand, showing a beautiful replica of Jagged Stone’s favourite guitar pick. “I simply cannot let this go…. Or risk an attack”

“Lila said she didn’t have music for her Nonna’s Thanksgiving tonight… So…” Nino said, a bit sheepishly. Lila tapped a CD case on her desk.

Marinette felt her heart tighten. Nino had picked Lila over her.

She’d lost her rook.

“… And Lila was so devastated from shock, she was shivering” Alya said. Marinette’s eyes landed on the soft pink shawl that was draped over Lila’s shoulders. “I know you understand girl, we can…um order you another” Alya said softly. It was the final blow, Alya knew how badly Marinette had wanted the limited run shawl and how disappointed she was when it was sold out.

Alya had known full well that Marinette knew the truth but chose to lie to her anyway. Just like Lila.

She’d lost her bishop.

Marinette felt her eyes prick with tears. She stood in front of her peers, trembling. Adrien suddenly got up and rushed towards Marinette.

“Bon Anniversaire Marinette” Adrien smiled, handing her a gift bag.

Marinette’s heart swelled as she picked up his gift from the bag. It was an exquisite headpiece adorned with crystal flowers and small ladybugs. He took the object from her and placed it on top of her head. They locked eyes, his green eyes filled with joy. “For our everyday Ladybug”

Marinette’s reddened face broke out in a brilliant smile. “I love it Adrien. Thank you so much”. She was filled with adoration for the blonde, his words echoing in her head. “As long as you and I know the truth, isn’t that all that matters” at least she had Adrien… Through this nightmare he knew the truth. They stood there staring at each other for what felt like eternity, when a loud sob echoed through the room.

Marinette ripped her eyes from Adrien and stared at the sobbing Lila. She wouldn’t dare. She couldn’t possibly have the nerve.

“My Nonna wore a headpiece just like that on her wedding day. Unfortunately it was lost when she was on the front lines during the war”

The class stared at the two in front of them expectedly. Adrien stared at Lila intensely. He won’t allow it, Marinette thought, her heart fluttering. “Your Nonna would want you to have it. It would be so beautiful if you wore it to her funeral, right Adrien?” Alya’s said, hands on her hips. A look of panic swept over the blonde’s face. “I… Um…I don’t think…” he sputtered out. “Come on Adrien. You can just get Marinette another, man” Alix exclaimed, tapping her foot impatiently. Adrien rubbed the back of his neck, avoiding the gazes of his peers. “You see this was kind of one of a kind. I don’t think…” he almost whispered. “Really dude? Man, I’m so disappointed in you” Nino’s said. Marinette watched the blonde face drop in shock. The room grew tenser and tenser, the group waiting for an exchange that Marinette knew would never come. Lila’s voice cut through the tension, “It’s okay everyone l. It’s Marinette’s special day after all. A birthday is a rare occasion, unlike losing a loved one…. Oh wait… It's an annual celebration.. Oh well I’m sure Adrien has his reasons for not wanting me to have a memoir of my Nonna”

The eyes turned angrily to the couple. Marinette’s faith in Adrien shattered when she stared back at him. A sheepish apologetic look in his eye. She could hardly believe what was happening as the boy took the headpiece off Marinette’s head. He hadn’t even asked her… He hadn’t even hesitated.

“You understand… Right Marinette?” he whispered, giving her a classic sunshine smile.

Without waiting for a response he turned to Lila, handing the headpiece to her. She tapped her forehead and Adrien gulped slowly. Everyone squealed in excitement gathering to the front of Lila’s desk, bending down with their phones to snap pictures of the two.

Marinette shook her head as the image in front of her blurred. Lila draped in a beautiful pink flowing gown elevated, crowned by Marinette’s love. Lila’s pawns bowing low at her feet, showering her in praise as music played in the air. She stared down at Marinette, her eyes…. The smirk on her lips said it all.

Checkmate.

Lila had captured her king. Marinette stared up at the blonde boy who beamed from ear to ear. Flashes of all the things she’d done for Adrien in the name of love played trough her head.

The heartache she’d felt when he thought the scarf she’d painstakingly made for him was a gift from someone else.

At least Adrien was happy.

The party she’d thrown for her bully. The girl who tormented Marinette on a daily basis.

At least Adrien was happy.

The constant red hot grip on her heart she had felt when she helped him on a date with another girl.

At least Adrien was happy.

But was Marinette happy? Knowing the blonde as happy used to fill Marinette with joy. Now seeing the blondes smiling face, surrounded by all her “friends”, she felt only bitter disappointment.

Marinette turned on her heel and walked down the steps of her classroom. “Oh Adrien thank you for always being so sweet to me” she heard Lila call out loudly before Marinette stepped out of the door.

No her King hasn’t been captured at all.

He’d willingly surrendered.

Chapter Text

Adrien stared down at his phone with a frown. He’d sent Marinette multiple texts and she had yet to reply. He thought back to the events of the day. He’d almost lost all of his friends, thank goodness he’d avoided that mess. He sighed in relief slumping into his sofa.

Plagg flew out of his shirt. “What’s up Casanova?” the  kwami said dryly. Adrien cocked his head in confusion, clearly Plagg was joking but his comment had a certain bite to it. He chose to ignore it, turning to his computer screen to see Ladybug on his monitor. “I can’t wait to see my Lady tomorrow night” he sighed dreamily, his cheeks tinged pink. The kwami flew in front of his chosen’s face, “I’m not talking about the bug, genius”.  Adrien stared at the kwami dumbfounded. Plagg sighed “The foxy liar. You really were her knight in shining armor today”. Adrien recoiled in shock, “That’s not funny Plagg”. The kwami facepalmed,“Wasn’t a joke kid. You really went above and beyond for something you and I both know is a lie” . Adrien sat up quickly. “Well yeah but I mean we don’t know for sure. And everyone else believed it so I would have looked totally insensitive if I said anything” the blonde exclaimed, defensively.

Adrien’s phoned beeped and the blonde rushed to it. “Like you would have said anything to save the bug” Plagg sighed to himself, as he watched the blonde’s face drop.

The notification was from Lila. She had tagged the whole class in an Instagram post. He opened it to see a snapchat filtered picture of Lila wearing Marinette’s headpiece. She was pouting as the golden butterflies fluttered around her. Adrien felt sick, that was definitely not the face of someone who just lost their grandmother. He scrolled down to he caption.

Thank you @adrienagreste for the stunning gift. I feel like your princess.

He sighed and scrolled down to read the comments.

FasterThanAJaguar: Wow Lila! Wish you were my princess❤️

RoseColoredGirl: Beautiful inside and out. Real princess 👸

DJnino: Totally awesome dudette!

TheLadyBlog🐞: Why didn’t you tag @MariGoRoundOfLife?

TheRealLilaRossi: Oh she seems to have blocked me. I’m not sure why, I hope I haven’t upset her?

TheLadyBlog🐞: WHAT!? SHE’S BLOCKED ME TOO! THAT GIRL HAS SOME EXPLAINING TO DO.

TheRealLilaRossi: Well I might know the reason, let’s chat on our group chat everyone

Adrien went to search for Marinette, without luck. “There must be something wrong with Instagram I can’t find Marinette” Adrien said out loud. “Wow I wonder why” Plagg said, sarcastically. “Don’t be silly Plagg. Marinette wouldn’t block me. We’re friends” Adrien replied. “You helped ruin her birthday today. I don’t think that’s what friends do kid” Plagg responded. The blonde snapped his face to the kwami, scrunched in anger"That wasn’t my fault". The kwami sighed again, “Kid I was there, you practically ripped her present from her head. God did you not see her face? She looked devastated” the kwami said, his voice softening at the last part. “Plagg you don’t know what you’re talking about. She’s fine” Adrien said, batting his hand at the kwami. Plagg suddenly flew straight into Adrien’s face, his green eyes seemed to be on fire.

“Kid. I’m thousands of years old. I know all about betrayal”

Adrien stood by the school steps anxiously waiting for Marinette. He was eager to prove Plagg wrong, Marinette was sweet she could never be angry for such a simple matter. His heart pounded at the sight of her, as she approached. She looked terrible, her eyes had heavy bags under them and were red rimmed. His confidence faltered, has she been crying? Was she really that upset?

“G… Good morning Marinette” he said, with his brightest smile. The girl looked at him and said nothing. They stood in silence for a full minute. “Ummmmm… How are you feeling?” the blonde asked, fidgeting with his bag strap. “How do you think?” the girl snapped back. Adrien didn’t know how to react. He couldn’t read her. What did she mean. “Did…. Did you enjoy your birthday?” he said quietly. Silence….

Marinette burst into laughter. She laughed hysterically as Adrien stood by smiling awkwardly. “You really are something Agreste” she sighed, face still in a grin. “Oh. Thank…” the blonde began.“And that something is a coward” Marinette hissed, finger pointed at his face.

Coward? Him? He was Chat Noir! Saving Paris on a daily basis. He was anything but a coward.

“Don’t be ridiculous Marinette” he said, sternly. The girl crossed her arms and stared at him from head to toe. “I thought we were in this together? You know the truth. Why are you acting just as clueless as the rest” she said, gesturing to her classmates who were watching from a distance. “Marinette” he lowered his voice “You of all people know how manipulative Lila is. She would have destroyed my school life if I didn’t give her what she wants”. Marinette’s hardened expression softened and Adrien thought he was finally getting through to her. “Yes me of all people would know. Because she’s been making my life hell and you have just been going with the flow. Why?” the girl yelled, poking the blonde in the chest. The blonde flinched at Marinette’s fiery expression, he had never seen her like this.“ Marinette. I didn’t want to lose my friends…. Please understand I didn’t… I didn’t want to end up like…. “he stopped suddenly, eyes widening.” Like me?“ Marinette laughed. Adrien took a quick peek around him, realizing people would overhear their conversation. Marinette composed herself and placed her hands on her hips. Her strong stance feeling so familiar to Adrien.“I was wrong about you Agreste. You aren’t a coward. You’re a manipulative enabler. You’re just like Lila” she spat out, looking utterly disgusted him. Adrien felt his blood boil. He was only trying to help everyone and this is the thanks he gets?

“I don’t get why you have to be so selfish Marinette?! We all have problems not just you! Lila needs our help, but instead of doing that you want to bring her down!” he shouted, loud enough that he was now drawing a crowd. “I can’t believe I called you our everyday Ladybug! You’re nothing like her. Ladybug helps people, she doesn’t try and hit their weaknesses!” he continued. Marinette stared at the angry faces that began surrounding her. “You’re so quick to blame everyone else. Take a look at yourself! Lila lost her grandmother and all you can think about is yourself” Adrien shouted. He pulled back, suddenly realising he may have went too far. Marinette’s face looked like he had just punched here in the gut.

Suddenly Marinette was pushed to the ground. Her best friend was standing over her. “Get out of here you selfish b***h. We don’t need people like you around us”. Adrien gasped at Alya’s reaction and instinctively he reached out to help Marinette. He stopped himself. He stared down at the sobbing girl on the floor as her classmates begun to circle her. He turned and walked away.

She didn’t want to give Lila a chance to change.

She chose to be aggressive.

She deserved this.

Chapter Text

She didn't deserve this.

Marinette was a sobbing mess as her friends towered over her. She watched Adrien, her sunshine, look her right in the eye and walk away. He'd known the truth... Known her pain and sacrificed her so that he could keep his friends? So he could look like a saint in everyone's eyes? He had backed up Lila's lies just to make Marinette look worse in the eyes of her classmates. She stared at the back of the golden head as he disappeared past the school doors.

"Lila told me all about what you said about us and about her! I didn't want to believe it but now I saw the way you berated Adrien! I can't believe I was ever friends with you!" Alya screamed at her, as she heard shouts of agreements around her. The circle of her peers gathered closer around her.
"I thought you were a good person Mari" Rose sobbed out.
"We don't like you!" Kim declared, showing a thumbs down sign.
"Totally not cool" Juleka said, her eyes narrowed.
"We're so disappointed in you Marinette" Mylene said, holding hands with a nodding Ivan.
"I thought you were a true friend. Clearly I miscalculated" Max added, pushing his glasses up.
"I can't believe I put you in my comic book" Nathaniel said, shaking his head.
"I can't believe I ever let you give me advice. You're clearly the most selfish person I've ever met!" Alix said, fist bumping with Nino.
"Ditto. You can't diss Adrien and think that's cool. He's like the best person I've ever met." Nino added.
"Well this is typical Dupain-Cheng behavior. Sabrina and I are not surprised your true colours are finally showing" Chloe said absent mindedly, texting on her phone.
Marinette stared out at her friends all around her as tears streamed down her cheeks.
Lila sauntered up to Marinette and kneeled down so they were eye level. "I'm really sorry things have to be this way Marinette. I know I promised not to tell anyone you've been bullying me, but I couldn't stand by while you slandered all my friends. I had to speak up against evil".
The crowd cheered for Lila. She stood up, looking down at Marinette triumphantly. "Come on guys. I know a great bakery, and luckily this one doesn't have a rat living in it".

The group walked away leaving Marinette still crying on her knees. None of the passing students helped her, having heard all the accusations from her classmates. Marinette felt a nudge from Tiki and looked up to see a purple butterfly fluttering towards her. She shook her head. Swallowing her emotions and calming her mind like Master Fu had taught her. Ladybug CANNOT be akumatised. The butterfly hovered around her, Marinette stared at it emotionless. It didn't dare touch her, she could feel Hawkmoth trying to break into her mind. She wouldn't let him. She was strong. She was confident. She was Marinette.

She was not feeling so confident a few hours later, when the butterfly still lingered on her balcony. She thought she had her emotions under control but clearly she was letting something slip. She couldn't help it, she was beyond heartbroken. Marinette sucked her breath in, choosing to focus on something... Anything... Other than her friends. She knew if she started thinking about it, her emotions would explode out. Tikki nuzzled into Marinette's cheek. "You're a good person Marinette. You know you did nothing wrong. Don't belive what they say" the kwami said, as her chosen cupped her in her hands. "I know Tikki.... It's just that.... They're my friends... And the things they... Said..." Marinette begun to sob. Tikki eyed the butterfly fluttering towards her chosen. "It's time for patrol. Let's run this out" Tikki said with a smile.

Ladybug rushed from rooftop to rooftop desperately trying to avoid the butterfly behind her. "It's no use" Ladybug gasped watching the persistent bug following her. She reached back and quickly purified it. She knew another would appear in its place, like the 3 before this one. She saw Chat Noir flying towards her, crashing into her at full speed. The two tumbled in a heap on top of a rooftop. "My lady there's a butterfly chasing you" he gasped, watching the butterfly settled near them. Ladybug tried smiling at him, "I'm a tad emotional. I may not be able to overcome this" she said, her voice breaking softly. Chat Noir pulled her into a hug and she fell weakly into his arms. His hand was in her hair, patting her head softly. "My lady it doesn't matter what's going on. I will always be by your side. I will have your back.... Always" he whispered into her hair. Ladybug pulled back and stared at her partner with teary eyes. "Thank you Chat... You have no idea how much that means to me" she said, softly kissing his cheek. The cat hero blushed softly, and stared back at Ladybug softly. "If you want to talk I'll be happy to listen" Chat Noir said with an encouraging smile. Ladybug nodded slowly.

She still had her knight.

Chapter Text

Marinette stared out at her beeping alarm on her phone. She'd barely been able to sleep from the stress and anxiety.
"Marinette! Sweetie! You're going to be late!" she heard her maman call from downstairs. She cringed, anticipating the day ahead. "I.. I'm not feeling well maman" she croaked, trying her best to sound sick. Her mother popped her head into her daughter's room and eyes her suspiciously. "You don't look well dear... But you've already missed a day and a half... Atleast go collect your work and if you still aren't feeling well, you can come home" her mother said with a smile. Marinette nodded and slowly got out of bed. She was Ladybug. She'd faced bigger challenges than this. She had to persevere.

She felt a chill as soon as she walked into her classroom. Every eye was on her. She locked eyes with Adrien first, who simply nodded in acknowledgment. Nino pulled his cap down to block his eyes, but his lips were fixed in a scowl. Her gazed moved to Alya, who sat crossed arm. "Not a chance. Keep moving" she declared, narrowing her eyes. Marinette blushed as a few giggled rumbled thorough the class. She stared up at the rest of the benches only to be greeted with angry faces. Miss Bustier walked in with an ever present smile. "Places places" she said, looking at Marinette. Lila stood up and walked to Marinette. She was wearing Alya's shawl and had Adrien's headpiece on her head. "I'm sorry miss Bustier. I know what an excellent teacher you are. You're truly the best I've ever had even compared to all my tutors from all over the world with decades of experience" Lila said, causing the teacher in front of her to blush wildly. She turned to give Marinette a satisfying smirk. "But I'm afraid Marinette is just to disruptive to sit with any of us... I think the whole class would agree. She just isn't the right fit for a conducive learning environment. Wouldn't you agree guys?" Lila said, gesturing to the class around her. The class was filled with agreement and applause. Marinette felt her eyes burn with tears as her "friends" jeered at her. Miss Bustier looked stunned and stared at the two girls dumbly. "Is this really how everyone feels? Alya? Adrien?" she asked, looking to the front. Alya stood up and cleared her throat. "I will not able to concentrate knowing Marinette is in the room. It makes me extremely uneasy" the brunette explained. Miss Bustier simply nodded and turned her gaze to the blonde. Adrien looked at Marinette "I want what's best for the class". Marinette gasped softly, she hadn't expected the boy to fight for her but she didn't think he'd openly side against her. Miss Bustier walked around her desk and put her hand on Marinette's shoulder. "Let's talk on the principal's office". As they walked down the stairs of the classroom Marinette heard thunderous applause and cheers. She didn't think it was possible to have any more tears left to cry, but the stream flowing down her cheeks proved otherwise.

"Have a seat Miss Dupain-Cheng" principal Damocles said, gesturing to the chair across his desk. Marinette sat down wearily, her face still wet with tears. "I've had a dozen complaints from each and every student in your class about your behavior, as well as several petitions to have you expelled. Would you care to explain yourself?" he asked, his voice sounding neutral. The girl before him took a breath."Sir I have no idea what Miss Rossi has said to my classmates, but I can assure you it's all a lie" Marinette said calmy. The principal cleared his throat, and gestured to a screen frozen on footage of Marinette pointing her finger in Adrien's face. "This looks to me like you are bullying Mr Agreste, which lines up with testamonies from Miss Rossi" the older man continued. He folded his arms and stared down at the small girl. "Mr Agreste is a prestigious student and his father is taking great lengths to assure his safety and happiness at our school. This is a VERY serious matter Miss Dupain-Cheng" he said sternly. "Sir... I didn't.. I would never bully..." she cried out. At that moment Tom and Sabine walked in and stared in shock at their distraught daughter. After reassuring hugs and kisses, they took a seat on either side of their child. "Monsieur... Madame" principal Damocles said polietly, gesturing to the two parents "Your daughter has been accused of bullying, harassment and hate speech by every one of her classmates". Tom furrowed his brows and cast a gaze at his wife, who scowled at the man in front of her angrily. "I know my daughter Monsieur. She goes above and beyond for every single person in her class, even those who have been horrid to her for years. She is the kindest, sweetest soul I know. She would never engage in the things you accuse her of" Sabine exclaimed, placing a hand on Marinette's shoulder. "With all due respect Madame. There are testamonies from fourteen students, aswell as video evidence of her being aggressive with an important member of our school. There is also the matter of a constant stream of requests from the Mayor himself, to punish your daughter for treating certain classmates unfairly on a regular basis and abusing her power as class president" principal Damocles said, crossing his arms again. Tom stood up, towering over the principal. "With all due respect Monsieur, you are wrong. You've chosen to accuse my daughter without even hearing her side of the situation. This school clearly appreciates money and power or the welfare of their students. I will be removing my daughter from your school immediately!" Tom exclaimed, slamming a large palm on the desk. Tom gazed down at his daughter, who smiled happily and nodded in agreement. Sabine stood up and gestured to Marinette."We have nothing more to discuss. Adieu Monsieur" Sabine said simply, as she led her family out. As they walked out of the administration building the family passed a teary eyed Miss Bustier. "I'm terribly sorry Marinette" she said softly, giving the girl a gentle squeeze. Sabine gently picked the teacher's hand off her daughter. "You've done nothing but enable my daughter's bully for years, we should have expected things to escalate to this degree. Please reconsider your field of work" Sabine said coldly, as her family walked away.

Marinette looked up at her parents walking on either side, holding each of her hands tightly. She was filled with gratitude that she was born a Dupain-Cheng.

Chapter Text

Luka was perched on the bench on their boat, staring up at the stars. He slowly allowed his fingers to play the melody of his heart.

Slow... Quiet... Waiting...

His thoughts wandered to Marinette as he stared out at the deep blue ocean. He wondered if she had liked his birthday gift, she hadn't responded to any of his texts. The boy sighed, and the melody changed.

Shrill ... Confused... Lonely...

Perhaps the girl was too wrapped up in spending time with a certain blonde model. During their last Kitty Section practice Luka had shown the band the pick he had gotten Marinette, Adrien was flabbergasted that he had forgotten her birthday and said he had to get her something aswell.

Perhaps the gift had finally done the trick. Perhaps the oblivious model had finally seen Marinette's feelings for him. Luka thought of the beautiful girl's smiling face, having finally gotten what she's always wanted. His tune changed yet again.

Soft... Beautiful... Happy.

Marinette was a kind, sweet and amazing girl. All Luka had ever wanted was for Marinette to be happy, even if it meant he wasn't the one who made her smile.

His thoughts were distracted by laughter approaching him. He looked out to see his sister arriving with a few friends. He jumped up to see if Marinette was with them. "Hey sis. Is Mari with you?" he asked, eyeing the usual girl squad. "No. We don't hang out with her anymore" Juleka replied, simply. Luka cocked an eyebrow but knew better than to question his sister in front of her giggly friends. He moved to the side and gestured them below deck, "Well... Enjoy ladies". As the girls walked by, one he didn't recognize gave him a deliberate wink. He brushed it off and walked back to his bench, trying to perfect his ever changing heart song.

A few hours later Marinette's best friend and the new girl approached him. He nodded curtly to the girls and the stranger giggled loudly. "Hey Luka. This is our friend Lila Rossi. Shes close friends with Jagged Stone and wants to help hook you up" Alya said, a telling smile on her lips. The boy looked at Lila with an amused grin. "Is that so?" he said, swinging his guitar onto his back. The girl took a seat next to Luka and rested her hand on his arm. "Juleka has told me all about you... I think we're... Kindred spirits. I dabble in music myself" she said, trying to sound sultry. The girl turned to Alya who was staring at the two in surprise "Al.. Doll. Could you give us some privacy. I want to see how my connections can help Luka". The other girl nodded and walked off.

Lila turned to the blue haired boy and scooted closer to him. "Jagged told me I have one of the best ears for music, you know... Could you play something for me?" she offered, batting her eyelashes at the boy. Luka nodded politely, "I could play the song in your heart... It's a gift of mine" he said, swinging his guitar back to the front. Lila stretched her hand out and ran it along the boy's thigh. "I'd love that" she said, huskily. Luka listened to seemingly nothing and suddenly his face furrowed. He began playing a ghostly version of a very familiar song. An eerie half broken song that Luka knew as well as his own.

Marinette's song.

Lila looked up at the boy in with her smile but her eyes seemed to burn with rage. "How... Beautiful." she said, picking her hand off his thigh. Lukas eyes fell to her neck as she pushed a lock of hair away. It was his gift to Marinette strung on a cord. He shot up.

"Where did you get that!" he exclaimed, his guitar swinging on its strap.
"Oh" the girl said, hand going to touch her neck "Marinette gave it me. She didn't really want it when she saw what Adrien had given her".
Luka tried to remain calm but his face betrayed him. The girl wrapped an arm around him, "I think it's absolutely beautiful. Only an idiot would throw something as precious as this away for something else" she whispered. The boy looked down at his shoes, feeling his heart ache. Suddenly his sister came up and Lila sprung away. "Oh Juleka it isn't what it looks like... Luka didn't mean to come so close to me!" the girl exclaimed. The goth girl simply nodded. "Jules did Marinette say anything when you gave her the pick?" he asked. Lilas eyes went wide in alarm. "I gave it to Lila because she said being in contact with metal stops an epileptic attack" Juleka said, pointing to the necklace. Lila quickly nodded. "Right! Wasnt that so sweet of Marinette?!" she said, her voice sugary sweet. Luka folded his arms and stared at the girl.

"Give it back" Luka said, holding his open palm out. Lila glared at him in shock. Hand defensively on her neck. "I can't risk it. I could have an attack if I don't have contact with it at all times!"she argued. The boy rolled his eyes," Its not metal. It's just plastic coated in metallic paint". Juleka gasped. "But... The attack...." she started, a confused look on her face. Lila pulled the necklace off and began to smile broadly. "Wow! Must have been the placebo effect! I can't belive it! I'm cured!! Thank you Luka" Lila grinned, giving Luka a half hearted hug. Julekas face turned back onto a smile. "That's awesome! I'll go tell the girls" she said, heading back below deck.

Lila's eyes snapped back to Luka. The boy raised his eyebrows in response. "Any musician knows metal picks wear out your strings... Even ones that *dabble*" he said, he held his open palm out again. Lila took the pick in her hands and held it out. As Luka reached out for it, she bent it between her fingers. She dropped the ruined pick on the floor.

"Huh... Plastic. Guess you were right".
Luka dropped to his knees, holding the crumpled pick in his hands. He stared up at the girl in anger. The girl sauntered away "You can have it....that necklace was my second choice anyway".

Chapter Text

Adrien sat staring outside his window. His elbows propped up his face as he smiled giddily. He put his palm against the cheek Ladybug had kissed and erupted in giggles as his face reddened. His kwaki sat on the desk in front of him, staring at his chosen flatly.

"I thought Ladybug was in distress... You seem mighty happy". Adrien sighed and spun around in his chair in glee. "She kissed my cheek Plagg.... The love of my life.... Willingly kissed my cheek!" Adrien exclaimed, clutching his heart theatrically. "Kid I don't mean to burst your bubble... But Ladybug is under threat. If she gets akumatised you absolutely will not be able to take her down" Plagg said, sternly. Adrien stared down at the little kwami and pat his head. "Don't worry I'm already on it... I know just how to make Ladybug feel better" Adrien smiled, picking up one of his Ladybug dolls. The kwami stared at the youth expectedly "And...?".
"I'm going to be there to support her. I know it'll bring both of us closer together... And hopefully she'll realise her true feelings for me" Adrien grinned, his fingers ghosting over his cheek.

"And another thing. Your friend Marinette could be akumatised. You should check up on her" Plagg said, flying to his cozy little resting place. Adrien rolled his eyes "Plagg don't you think My Lady's possible akumatisation out trumps Marinette's". Adrien could still hear Marinette's words echoing in his head...

COWARD

The last thing he would do is go see her. Besides he could care less about A judgemental classmate when he was finally going to get closer to the love of his life tonight. He heard his kwami hum softly "The choice is yours kid".

***********

Chat Noir wanted the night to be perfect. He lined the rooftop with candles like he had once before. He had cushions and throws, flowers and chocolates. He was ready to whisk his lady off her feet. The spot clad hero landed quickly, throwing her yo yo behind her to grab the chasing butterfly. "Hi chaton" she said weakly, releasing a white butterfly from her yoyo. Chat got on one knee and took his Lady's hand, placing a kiss on it. "Okay bugaboo. I'm all ears. Tell me who wronged you" he smiled, giving her as much space as possible. Ladybug sat down with a smile. "Thank you for all of this chaton. You went through alot of effort minou."

The girl shifted uncomfortably in front of him. "Do you remember the guy I told you I liked?" she said softly. Chat's heart frozen, he nodded. "We had... A bit of a falling out..he chose to believe a liar over m... My friend... We aren't on speaking terms anymore. I suppose I'm not taking it as well as I should be" she said, looking up at him with a weak smile. Chat's felt his insides squirm at the sight of the fragile girl before him. "My Lady. You're allowed to be hurt" he said, reaching out to stroke her palm. The girl shook her head, her pigtails swishing. "No Chaton. I'm Ladybug. I can't be akumatised. I need to... Get over this... I.
. I just don't know how. My... Friend... has lost all her friends over this and I.. Don't school with her so it's hard for me... Knowing I can't help. It's scary knowing you could lose people you care about over things that aren't even your fault" she said, her voice becoming a whisper.

Chat scooted closer and put his arm around the shaking girl. "I'm here for you My Lady. You'll never lose me" he said, giving her a small squeeze. She looked up at him with teary eyes  "Thank you minou. I do feel a bit better". Chat rubbed the back of his head nervously "Anytime bugaboo. I wish I could be with you behind the mask too.... To.. To support you and your friend ... Of course" he added quickly. Ladybug giggled, "I'd like that.... I could use a friend". Chats heart raced. Was this really happening?

He shifted in front of her and grabbed both her hands. "My Lady if you told me who you are I could protect you... Both sides of you. You'd never be akumatised! Id never allow it!" he exclaimed, his eyes shining. Ladybug stared at him in surprise, she seemed locked in a trance staring into her partner's eyes. "I... I... It's not up to us Chaton. I don't think it's a good idea... It could be dangerous" she said, her face looking clearly conflicted. The cat hero sighed, "Don't we know what's best for us LB?". She got up and smiled down at the boy. "It's not just about you and I Chat. What we do affects everyone. We have to put Paris first" she called out, as she walked to the edge of the roof. "I'll speak to Master Fu about what we should do going forward. I'll you know when we meet on Tuesday" she said as she cast her yoyo out, "Thanks again Chaton. You're a good friend".

Chat looked at the small red dot jumping in the distance. "Master Fu will never let us reveal ourselves" he muttered to himself. He stared down at his claws. "My Lady needs me.... If we both want this... No one should stand in our way" he continued, clutching his heart. "Love is stronger than anything" he hissed, as he tore after Ladybug.

Chats ring beeped violently as he tore after Ladybug. "Plagg wants to stop me...he doesn't understand what Ladybug and I need" Chat thought to himself as he slipped into the shadows. He watched Ladybug launch herself onto Marinette's balcony, and felt a pang of guilt. He'd forgotten all about his ex friend and her possible akumatisation. "My Lady has enough on her plate, now she had to worry about HER too" Chat thought darkly, as he waited for his Lady to leave.

A few hours passed with no sign of Ladybug. Chat grew restless, he watched as Marinette lounged on her balcony with a sketch book in her lap. He sighed in annoyance and jumped out of the shadows and onto Marinette's balcony. The girl jumped up in shock, spilling her hot chocolate all over her sketchbook. "Hi... Hi Chat... What are you..." she started. He barged into her room. "Where's Ladybug" he asked, not making eye contact. Marinette stared at him in alarm. "Um... What do you mean... She.." Marinette began, her hands covering her sketch book. "I saw her! She came to check up on you right? We both know about your little stunt at school" he said, eyes still darting around the room. Marinettes hands dropped and she stared at the boy. "Chat... You're... Being weird" she whispered. He stared at her in annoyance and she recoiled. She averted her eyes, her face looking hurt. Chat rolled his eyes, "I needed to talk to her but whatever" he muttered. As he turned to leave his eyes cast down at her sketch book. The page had a rough sketch of the rooftop he had set up for Ladybug with the cat hero front and centre, holding a pair of hands and staring out of the page looking helplessly in love. He looked at the girl with her head lowered, tears falling down her cheeks. The cogs in his head began to turn...Her friend being abandoned for a liar... Could it be?

Chat Noirs face became red as a tomato as he quickly grabbed Marinette's hand and placed a quick kiss on it. "Gotttagoprincess"he said, quickly flying off her balcony
"Seeyoutomorrowbyeeeeeee". His heart was racing as he contemplated the consequences of his latest discovery.

Marinette Dupain-Cheng was friends with Ladybug.

Chapter Text

Marinette awoke in a daze, the fresh smell of pastry hit her nostrils. She gazed to her table to find a plate of strawberry tarts and a bunch of soft pink roses. She smiled to herself, her parents were truly the greatest in the world. For the first time in the past few days, her soul felt at peace. She rubbed her eyes and felt her phone buzz beneath her.

Unknown : Good morning Marinette! You aren't in class today and my messages aren't going through to you. I hope everything is okay.

Marinette rolled her eyes. She had blocked all her classmates on every social app imaginable, even going as far as blocking Max and Adrien on the PlayStation Network. She didn't know who the person pretending to be nice to her was, and she didn't care. Marinette blocked the new number and tossed her phone aside. She was determined to make today a good day.

Tikki was floating in front of the mirror, admiring the tiny toga Marinette had made her. "Now this bring back memories. Hippolyta used to make me togas just like this!" Tikki cooed, as she twirled. Marinette placed a tiny gold ring on top of the little kwamis head. "Now you look like a real queen" Marinette smiled, as the kwami nuzzled her cheek. "You would have loved the Amazons Marinette, they were a real sisterhood. Loyal to the end" the kwami sighed happily. Marriette's phone buzzed for the tenth time today. The girl sighed in irritation, this was yet another new number.

Unknown : Marinette. I don't get why you're not responding. I'm going to stop by the bakery. I want to fix things with you.

The girls breath caught for a moment. Someone wanted to make peace? She stared out her window and for just a moment felt hopeful. If someone had seen the error in Lila's ways perhaps the rest of her ex classmates could.

"Marinette. An old classmate of yours. Should I send them away?" Tom shouted from the bakery, sternly.

Marinette took deep breaths to steel herself, "No. Let them up".

She stared at the hatch wondering who had come to their senses. Perhaps Alya? Maybe Nathaniel? Rose was a possibility. A mop of blonde hair popped in, smile like the sun.

Marinette's blood ran cold. "What are you doing here Adrien?" she said, as the blonde climbed up and made himself comfortable on her chaise. "I'm just here to clear the air between us... I don't want you getting the wrong idea about me" the model said, as if reciting a speech. The girl crossed her arms, "Okay...".
The model stared at the girl dumbfounded "Are you going to apologize?".

"What!?" Marinette hissed.

The model sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose, muttering something incomprehensible. "Stubborn as always. Okay... Listen I am a good person. Kind, compassionate, forgiving and extremely trustworthy" the boy said. Marinette stared at the blabbing blonde in utter confusion. "I'm also brave and loyal! To the end! I'll do anything for My La...for my loved ones" Adrien continued, ever present smile plastered on. "Right... That's why you agreed with the class to get me kicked out? " Marinette asked dryly. The blonde seemed to be getting frustrated  "What happened between us" he said, gesturing between the two of them "Was NOT my fault. I was only being a good person and trying to prevent an akumatisation. You could have left Lila alone like I did, none of this mess would have happened!"

Marinette held her head in her hands. "Can you just leave Adrien. I don't know what you even came here for" she said, her voice sounding exhausted. Adrien sighed deeply, his lips pulled in a tight line. "I just... Don't want you spreading false information about me to other... Important people... And once you apologize, I'd like us to be friends again." the boy said slowly, like he was explaining something complex to a child. The boy brightened suddenly and walked toward Marinette."I'd love to meet some of your other friends... I'm sure you know some interesting characters" he said, practically beaming ear to ear.

"Adrien I don't know what you're talking about. And I'm not apologizing when I did nothing wrong" the girl replied. The boy's large smile turned back into a frustrated scowl. "Look" he hissed, fingers rubbing his closed eyelids "I know you know Ladybug. I heard you were doing a commission for her. I don't want you telling her an incorrect version of events just because you're emotional" he snapped. The girl's jaw dropped. "Adrien... I think you should leave" Marinette said, her voice shaky. Marinette started to back away from Adrien, but he reached out and grabbed her arm. "Marinette... Please" he said, his eyes boring into hers "I need you to tell her...."

"Papa. Please come up here" Marinette called out loudly, jerking her arm away. Adrien's face fell, as the towering man climbed up the ladder. "Please show Monsieur Agreste out. I will not be entertaining his visits in future" she said to her father. Adrien's stared at her in shock as the hulking baker snatched the boy up by his collar and dragged him out of Marinette's room. "Please Marinette!"she heard him shout "I love her! She's my soulmate! I need her to understand I'm a good person!!"

Marinette stared dumbfoundedly. She had never seen someone so deluded before, and she'd seen her fair share of akumatised victims . Before she could even move from her position she heard a thud on her roof. Her lips crooked up into a smile. That alley cat really did have perfect timing. She picked up the plate of pastries and went out to greet Chat Noir.

Marinette almost dropped her plate when she caught sight of the hero. He was dripping with sweat, letting out ragged breaths and staring at Marinette angrily. "Kitty... Are... You okay?" she said slowly. The hero shook his head, and wiped his brow. "Just had... An extremely unfriendly interaction" he  said. The girl noticed the tension between then and smiled uncomfortably. "Would you like a pastry kitty?" she smiled, offering him the plate. The boy took one slowly and gave her the fakest smile she had ever seen. "So..." Chat began "I noticed your dad throwing out a kid". Marinette's eyes shifted away and her face began to turn red. "He's... An old friend..." the girl said quietly. Chat Noir awkwardly stretch and leaned against her balcony railing. "Old? Did something happen? He seemed nice enough" the boy said, staring at the floor. Marinette walked up to the boy and slumped down in a chair nearby.

"To be honest Chat... He's an old crush of mine... He's such a wonderful person. Handsome, charming, kind.... Sweetest person you'll ever meet" Marinette said, idily playing with one of her pigtails. She cast a look at the boy when she realised he hasn't said anything. His entire face was scarlet, his brows furrowed and he stared at Marinette as if she'd sprouted two heads. "N... Not that you aren't awesome too kitty... You know you're my favorite hero" she grinned, giving him a thumbs up. The hero looked away, and smiled softly. "But.. He didn't really care about me..He took a liar's side over mine... He let me suffer for so long... Just to keep the peace.I suppose I can't blame him. It's probably just the way he is.... But the way he's treated me.... It really hurts" Marinette said, giving the hero a weak smile. "Then apologize! And you can be friends again! I'm sure he wants to make up with you!" Chat blurted out. Marinette cocked her head and ruffled the hero's hair

"I didn't do anything wrong dummy. I don't know if I'd ever even want to be friends with him again.... But I'm glad I have you kitty" she smiled. Chat huffed and looked away. "Say... Why were you looking for Ladybug here the other day?" she asked, bending her head to look the boy in the eye. "She... Said she was coming to check up oh you and I wanted to see if both of you were okay..." Chat said, his voice strangely high pitched. Marinette smiled at him "That's kind of you kitty. Ladybug is lucky to have you". Chat Noir gave her a nod and jumped up to stand on her railing. "I have to run Mari... It was... Nice talking to you again" he said, giving her a small Salut. The girl gave him one back and he dove away. "That cat is so strange sometimes..." Marinette said, with a faint smile.

Chapter Text

Adrien got back to class in a huff. He thought spending his lunch hour with Marinette would prove more fruitful than it had. He stared down at the hand he had grabbed Marinette with, not believing that he had gotten physical.

Adrien had spent all night agonizing over what Marinette could have said about him to Ladybug. If Ladybug had a bad impression of Adrien, how could she possibly accept Chat Noir when they inevitably reveal their identities to each other? Adrien winced at the memory of Tom shoving him out the door, with a dark look he could have never imagined on the kind man's face before. "I was willing to overlook her behavior but refusing to apologize and throwing me out was totally uncalled for" Adrien muttered to himself, as he quickened his pace.

Then there was his second conversation with her as Chat. He was definitely experiencing some emotional whiplash. It was ao different... So strange. Where Marinette had been guarded and on edge with Adrien, she was calm and friendly with Chat. Adrien hadn't realised Marinette had a crush on him, he didn't quite know what to do with that information. He pondered on the thought of the girl seemingly falling for both sides of him. He smiled just a bit, seeming flattered at the thought. "Marinette is a pretty girl... But she's no Ladybug" the boy whispered to himself. Adrien saw the school gates begin to approach and began to jog. "I'll have to use my good will with Marinette as Chat to get her to drop some details about Ladybug... She clearly doesn't trust Adrien anymore" he muttered to himself. He felt his kwami shift in his bag slightly and the irritation crawled back up his neck again. The kwami had been uncharacteristically silent ever since last night. Adrien had expected a lecture about following Ladybug without her permission, but Plagg had just looked at him with large sad eyes and shook his head slowly. It was lonely without Plagg's constant stream of snarky comments, Adrien would just have to find some way to make it up to him. Everything in his life was falling apart, if only Marinette had listened to him.

The boy looked out at the school yard, sporting Lila with her arm around a blushing Nino. The two's attention snapped up to him as he approached. "Bro! Huge class party at Juleka's tomorrow! You've got to come, Lila said she has a big surprise for everyone. I can help you convince your pops. It won't be the same with you right Lie?" Nino said, giving Lila a wink. Lila stiffened next to him. "I prefer being called princess" she said with a big smile, adjusting the headpiece that had been secured in her braid. She linked her arm with Adrien's and placed another on his forearm. "I think I'm really making a change for the better Adrien. I'm even running for class president, now that the position opened up" the girl cooed, reaching up to touch Adrien's cheek. Adrien's insides cringed at her touch, but he smiled broadly at the girl next to him. He was happy that the girl was changing for the better, and he was more than happy to help. "You definitely have my vote Lila. Having so much responsibility is hard but I'm sure you'll rise to the occasion" Adrien smiled "And a party sounds like fun. Count me in"

***********************

Marinette lounged on her chaise looking through school brochures, when a thought crept into her head.
Adrien was the one who was texting her from ten different numbers...
His outlook on Marinette seemed to have changed overnight...
He had someone discovered a connection between her and Ladybug...
He believed that Ladybug was his soulmate.
He was desperate to rekindle their friendship because he thought that she had some kind of leverage with Ladybug.

Marinette wrung her hands and stood up, pacing around her room. Tikki flew to her chosen and offering her a comforting smile  "Are you okay Marinette?". Her chosen looked at the kwami was teary eyes. "No..." she whispered "Was just using me? ". Marinette kneeled on the floor, hugging herself. "Did... did he even care about my feelings.... All he wanted was an in with Ladybug?" The kwami closed her little eyes and took a deep breath. "I need to step out for a bit Marinette. The kwamis are meeting in the miracle box. I'll be back before patrol" the kwami said, touching her chosen's cheek. Marinette nodded knowingly, she respected the kwami's need for space. The kwami looked out the balcony and smiled. "Something tells me you'll be just fine without me" the kwami whispered to herself.

Marinette sat cross legged on her floor trying desperately to meditate. She couldn't help her mind from wandering to Adrien. Her old crush thinks she's his soulmate? She hadn't even realised Adrien had a crush on Ladybug. Marinette shook her head and squished her eyes shut, trying to keep as level headed as possible. She had to focus on her breathing and not the raging in her heart and head. She opened her eyes when she heard a soft melody flow into her room. The song sounded so beautiful ... So familiar. She went out to her balcony, and closed her eyes. The sun soaked into her skin as she took in the soft music. Two quick chords and suddenly the tune changed to something much more exciting and energetic. She opened her eyes and looked down to see a familiar face.

Luka was standing across the street with his guitar, staring right at the girl with a smile. The girl stared down at him uneasily. He nodded simply and continued to play to soft melody. The corners of Marinettes mouth curled up in a smile when she finally recognized the tone... It was her heart song. She gestured for him to come into the bakery and made her way downstairs. She heard Luka's calm voice contrast with her father's gruff tone and rushed into the bakery. "It's okay Papa... He's a friend" she said, stretching her hand out to Luka "A real one...."

The boy stared around Marinettes room with curious eyes and the girl suddenly become very self conscious. "I'm sorry.... It's a little..." she began. "Pink" he said, bending to pick up scraps of material from the floor "And chaotic... Just like you....". Marinette looked stunned for a moment, and the boy went red with embarrassment. "I meant that's how you make my heart feel... Sorry I didn't mean to make you think I was trying to insult you..." Luka said, his eyes full of sincerity. Marinette felt the blush creep up her cheeks as the handsome boy smiled broadly at her.

He stared curiously at her desk and picked up one of her plushies." Didnt know you were a penguin fan" the boy grinned, making the penguin doll's flippers move worth his fingers. Marinette snatched the plushie from him and squeezed it tight. "Hey! Show some respect" she teased "This is my Empoleon. He's only my favorite Pokémon ever! I've had so many adventures with him" the girl giggled, looking down at the penguin happily.

Luka felt his heart skip a beat at the adorable sight and cleared his throat in hopes his voice wouldn't catch. "I had a run in with your new classmate" he said, handing her the bent pick. Marinette looked down at the disfigured piece of plastic in sadness. "I'm sorry Luka... She convinced everyone to give her my gifts" Marinette said, hanging her head low. She felt awful that his present had gone to waste. The boy reached out and gave her hand a squeeze. "It's okay Marinette. I'm sorry your birthday was a disaster. Jules told me.... A very odd story about that day and wasn't sure what to think... Especially considering you weren't responding to my messages" Luka explained. Marinette wrung her hands anxiously, "I'm sorry Luka... I blocked everyone... I.. I don't think I could have taken it if you hated me too..." Marinette said quietly. Marinette averted her eyes and curled in on herself, the all too familiar feeling of helplessness seeping through her body.

Luka gave her a smile and stretched his hands out "Want a hug?" he asked. Marinette looked at him with half tear filled eyes and rushed into his arms. Luka wrapped one arm around her and gently stroked her hair with another. "I could never hate you Marinette. I didn't doubt you for a second. I just wasn't sure what to make of this fantastical Lila character...then I met her" he said into her hair, as he wrapped his arms tighter around her. The girl shifted in his arms and looked up at him with her big blue eyes "I hope she wasn't too mean to you". Luka chuckled as stroked her cheek softly. "Nothing I can't handle... I heard her heart song and thats when I knew what she had inside... It was just a weak version of yours Marinette." the boy said to the puzzled girl. "W.. What does that mean...?" Marinette asked. Luka smiled "It means she's jealous of you Mari. So jealous it vibrates right down to her core". The boy let go and walked to Marinettes balcony. She suddenly felt extremely hollow without his arms around her. "Have a seat Mademoiselle. I'm going to serenade you" he said with a smile as he lounged in one of her chairs. The girl blushed deeply and giggled as she made her way to him.

Marinette took a quick look around her room suddenly realizing that the butterfly was gone. She smiled contently and gazed at she sweet boy in front of her. She'd never considered that she had another knight on her side.

Chapter Text

Luka was waking home after spending another day with Marinette. The Parisian evening was particularly cold tonight but the boy had hardly felt it. His heart was still beating erratically from spending time with Marinette. Luka had been determined to make Marinette's heart song sing as happily as it did the first day he met her.

Luka couldn't believe that his own sister and her friends had chosen a new student over their loyal friend. He never liked intervening into Juleka's personal life but this seemed to be a crossroads for her. He gazed out at the boat seeing his sister and her classmates having a bit of a party on deck. He sighed heavily, resting his head on the railing as he contemplated going back to Marinette's.

"Friends of yours?" a voice asked.
The boy stared back to see an older Asian man inspecting him with great curiosity.

"Sort of. .. They're good kids on the wrong path.... I hope I can help steer them back before it's too late" the boy explained, giving the man a friendly smile.

The man nodded knowingly, and gestured out to the Adrien who was locked in an embrace with Lila. "What a pity. I had seen that blonde with another very pretty dark haired girl with pigtails. Thought they made a good match" the man said, his happy expression shifting.

Luka thought it was odd that a stranger had studied the kids so carefully and have him a puzzled look. "Saw them on TV... The fashion show" the man responded, as if reading Luka's mind. The blue haired boy smiled, having been reassured. "Yes so did I... But it looks like he isn't worthy of her..." Luka said, he gave the man a friendly wave good bye and walked off in the opposite direction of his home. Master Fu sighed as the boy was out of earshot.
"Yes... It would seem so..."

Luka had gone to his school's abandoned practice room for some peace and quiet. Ever since he had seen Marinette earlier that evening he had been inspired to compose a song. It was one he didn't fully understand yet... It was a mix of him and a mix of Marinette wrapped in something else entirely. He was just getting in the groove of things when his guitar wire snapped. "Bummer..." the boy sighed as he reached into his bagpack for his spare pack. As he fingers searched for his strings, they brushed against an unfamiliar object.

He pulled out a small black and green box. "Huh... Did Marinette put this here..." he wondered as he opened the pretty box. A green bracelet lay on deep red velvet, as he could reach out to touch it, a flutter of blue light popped up in front of him and a tiny creature materialized in front of his eyes. It looked like a tiny blueish grey snake with yellow slits for eyes and a black v stripe on its head. The boys eyes went wide in alarm. He put the box down and started to slowly back towards the door.

"Don't be alarmed human! My name is Sass and I'm affiliated with Miss Ladybug and Chat Noir!"the creature exclaimed, flying towards Luka. The boys eyes remained wide as he slowly nodded." Um... Hi? "he gasped out, still backing away slowly.

The little creature laughed "This isn't how you and I were meant to meet but these are serious times. Miss Ladybug needs your help" the creature explained. The boy straightened up at this. He remembered how much the heroine had done for the city, especially his family. Ladybug had saved each and every member of the Couffaine family when they'd been akumatised
, and made the time to swing by a day or two after to reassure the family that being akumatised was not their fault.

He nodded firmly "Im ready to help anyway I can" he responded. "You were chosen because of your ability to remain level headed in times of conflict. You have a dual purpose: to help Miss Ladybug in battles with akumas, but also to protect her before during and after from any... Undesirablesssss..." Sass said with a low hiss.

Luka cocked his head to the side" You're going to have to be more specific... Is someone out to get Ladybug?". Sass looked uneasy and put his little paw out to Luka."Prove yourself today and I will tell you everything" the kwami said. Luka took the  kwami's paw and shook to slowly.

"As I said before, my name is Sass and I am a kwami. The kwami of Destiny to be exact, as such I can grant you the ability to go back and change fate for short periods of time. My fate with you has always been known to me young Luka. I already know you will be a great hero and worthy comrade to Miss Ladybug" Sass said, bowing his head slightly to show the boy respect. Luka bowed his head in return "Thank you for sharing your power with me Sass... Just tell me what to do".

*************************************************

Ladybug could not stand the irony of this afternoon. For the last three days she had been running away from countless butterflies, now they were flying away from her!

Social media was ablaze with reports of a flutter of butterflies all heading in one direction. Ladybug counted atleast 8 as she chased them down tirelessly. As if today couldnt get more exhausting, Tikki had warned Marinette that Chat Noir might not make an appearance today!!! She couldn't risk 8 alumatisations by herself, she had to purify the butterflies before they found their targets.

Suddenly the girl felt a chill rush down her spine and she realized she was being followed. "Seems like one butterfly already managed to evilise someone" Ladybug thought in a huff,noticing a green figure approaching from the corner of her eye. Ladybug quickly spun on her heel, turning 180 to face the akuma. Using her momentum she flung her yo yo out and quickly trapped her pursuer. A rather attractive teenage boy with green tinted hair in a emerald suit seeming to be fashioned after a snake. His eyes were mint coloured and for a moment Ladybug lost herself in them before snapping to reality. She tugged the stranger towards her and he fell face first torwards onto the concrete.

"Ouch... Not the way I expected to be greeted" the boy hissed. "I don't know what you're planning Hawkmoth! But you won't get away with this!" Ladybug explained, leaning into the boys face. The boy erupted in laughter "I'm not an akuma! I'm a hero! My kwami said I should tell you that the Master sent me" the boy explained. Ladybug shook her head in confusion. She undid her yo yo and stared at the new hero suspiciously. First Chat Noir is a no show and now a brand new hero she knew nothing about emerges. Ladybug's alarm bells sounded in her head as thoughts shifted to Volpina's first appearance, she narrowed her eyes at the hero as he dusted his suit.

She pointed in the direction the butterflies were heading. "I'm only letting you go because there's a whole bunch of akumas heading towards...." her voice died as her eyes followed her finger "The boathouse..... No!!!!"

Ladybug was gone in a flash, tearing towards the Couffaine household. The snake boy suddenly popped on her right, fidgeting with his bracelet . "Ladybug this way!" he shouted, pointing in another direction. Ladybug snarled and drove forward in her direction even harder. She didn't have time to worry about helping a newbie find his feet. "I have to save Luka! I can't let him get akumatised again!" Ladybug thought desperately, as she finally broke out of the city blocks.

Ladybug yelled in annoyance, she had misjudged her direction and was about 5 kilometers from the boathouse. By the time she landed on the boat it was too late. Her classmates were gathered all around her, butterflies everywhere seeping into various objects. She widened her eyes in horror as her classmates transformed in huge monstrous warriors.

Each classmate was a towering creature brandishing axes, shields and swords. Some were already in the Siene, making their way towards the city. Others took to the sky, shooting laser beams out of their eye sockets. They were all united by a common screech.

"We will destroy MARINETTE!!!"

Ladybug's yoyo hung limply in her hand, unable to move or process what to do next. A monstrous Alya began to approach her, holding an enormous hammer high above her head. Ladybug could do nothing but gape as she watched the beginning of the end for Paris.

"Hey spots" the snake hero said, jumping next to girl. Ladybug's pale face remained emotionless as she watched her best friend edge closer towards her. "Next time I say follow me, you should probably listen" he said with a smile, as he placed a hand on her shoulder and flipped a switch on his bracelet.

Before Ladybug didn't even register what the hero had said, when everything around her began melted away. Ladybug was left feeling like she was flying, she rubbed her eyes and realised she was! She was exactly two minutes in the past. The snake hero popped up for the second time "Ladybug this way!" he shouted. This time she followed him.

In seconds the new hero had led her out of the city and she was on top of the boathouse. She cringed internally, realizing her stubbornness had almost cost all of Paris. She landed in the deck and watched the butterflies heading straight for her. Ladybug smirked, she knew exactly where they were heading.

"Time to de-evilise!" she shouted, swinging her yoyo around the boat expertly. She snatched every butterfly, then flung her yoyo straight up, releasing a some what beautiful white shower butterflies. "Bye bye little butterflies" she smiled, as the butterflies flew out of sight.

The boat erupted in applause, shouting praise and thanks eagerly at the heroine. A flash of green caused Ladybug to stare up and see the new hero hiding on the upper deck on the boat, out of sight. She gave him a small smile and gave the cheering teens a polite nod as the began to surround her.

Ladybug's eyes locked with Adrien's and she noticed his panicked expression. His eyes were darting around frantically and his face was covered in sweat. Ladybug had never seen the model in such a state before, she decided to play it casual and walked towards the group of classmates to investigate the reason for attracting so many butterflies.

"Whats this?" the hero asked pointing to a projector screen. Alya stepped forward first. "Lila was just showing us all the horrible texts Marinette has been sending her about the whole class. It's truly awful stuff!" Alya said, cosying up as much as possible to Ladybug. The hero took a few steps away and went to the text screen that had been blown up. She pointed to the profile picture. "This is a pretty bad photoshop job. Anyone can see that the picture and name has been cropped over the original" Ladybug said dryly "Right Max... I hear you're the tech whizz. I'm surprised you didn't pick this up". The boy gulped nervously and took a step closer to examine the screen. "Why... Yes! It does appear to be an edited picture!" he gasped.

Before any could even react Lila let out a chuckle "I knew it was fishy! Marinette sent that to me! She must have known I'd show you guys the texts so she could prove it was a fake! She wanted to make me out as a liar!" the girl exclaimed, shaking her head as if the situation was unbelievable. There was a rumbled of gasps and whispers throughout the group of classmates. "Marinette faked receiving texts from herself?" Ladybug said flatly. Lilas eyes flashed with panic and her gaze quickly settled on Adrien. "Gosh Ladybug you should hear the nasty things she said about you! She's totally jealous that you got to save Adrien those times! I think she even insinuated that you caused those akumas to get close to him!" the girl said sweetly, with her best mock shock expression. Ladybug rolled her eyes" Lila please... Don't try and change... " Ladybug started only to be interrupted by Adrien's shouts. "Oh Ladybug! I don't mind spending time with you at all!" the boy was practically shouting out. Ladybug held her hand out for him to stop. "I mean I could spend all the time you want with you! We could go right now if you want!!!" Adrien said, excitedly rushing towards the heroine. The snake hero finally leapt out of his hiding spot and landed on the lower deck, right between Adrien and Ladybug. The crowd gasped at the sight of a brand new hero. Adrien looked less than impressed, eyeing the hero with narrowed eyes. "Think it's time we head out spots. You can only lead a horse to water" he shrugged. Ladybug beamed at him and nodded. The two took off together to cheers from everyone on the boat, well... almost everyone.

They landed on a quiet rooftop, the hero stood a few feet away plucking his lyre in fascination. Ladybug awkwardly cleared her throat and struck out a hand. "I owe you an apology. I let my emotions blind me and it was almost detrimental" the girl said "I'm Ladybug.... You are?". The boy smiled and thought for a moment. "Viper..." he started, his thoughts shifted to Marinette and her adorable penguin friend "Viperion". They shook hands as Ladybug giggled. "You sound like a Pokémon"

"That's the idea"

Chapter Text

Adrien had spent his childhood in isolation. He'd been home schooled all his life and was never allowed to leave the house. His mother was wonderful but she was obsessed with keeping Adrien safe. The boy felt like he had spent his whole life in a cage, showered with adoration but forced to watch life roll on from behind the bars. Weekends with Chloe were bliss because she was his only link to the outside world. She told him about all her adventures and all the people are her who were falling over themselves to be her friends. Adrien thought she was the luckiest person in the world. Chloe was beyond the bars.

Then his life changed.

His mother, the only light in his life, had vanished and rather than comfort his son, Gabriel had pushed him further away. Adrien desperate for human companionship felt his prison becoming smaller and smaller, suffocating the little life he had left. When a certain red bug flew into his life, the boy latched onto her like she was his only life preserve in the vast ocean of loneliness. His Lady was his first friend... The love of his life.

Adrien had made so many friends since then, Nino, Alya, Marinette and all of this classmates. He could finally laugh and talk and experience life like a normal teenager. He finally felt free of the burden of his cage ... His name... his past, and for the first time Adrien was free.

Adrien knew Lila was a threat, but he also knew she was just a victim of circumstances. She was like him, all she needed was a friend. Someone to show her the right way of doing things. Adrien was happy to be that friend, and he had hoped Marinette would be too. Marinette had never been akumatised, she was strong and brave, she was their everyday ladybug!

Marinette however did not feel the same, Adrien was sad that Marinette couldn't understand that Lila needed to be treated delicately. And so as expected, Lila fought back against Marinette. Adrien watched in horror as Lila tore everything away from Marinette. Every lie was so well placed that his classmates ate it up. Fear set into the boy, as he considered that Lila could very well do the same to him.

If they had dismissed their everyday Ladybug so easily... How quickly would they discard of him? Would he be forced back into the prison he had known so well?

So the boy let Lila sink her claws into him. He watched as Marinette was torn apart by her lies. He wanted to help her, wanted to reach out and pull her out of the abyss she was sinking in but he did nothing. Then she lashed out at him. Calling him a coward when he was trying to prevent an akumatisation, he was out there everyday as Chat Noir saving Paris. Marinette was usually so sweet and understanding, he just didn't get why she was acting this way. Could she not see the risk the situation posed for him? He could lose all his friends...all his freedom. He didn't understand why she'd turned against him... Didn't they say they were in this together?

And now she refused to help him with Ladybug. After all the times he'd helped her, after all the times he'd made the time to talk to her after everyone abandoned her. All he asked was to meet his Lady. It was so simple. She'd thrown him out like he was trash, yet insisted to Chat Noir she had feelings for Adrien. If she really cared why not help him? Was she so selfish?

***
Adrien snapped to reality by Lila clinging to him. He stared out at the group of his classmates, some crying and others swearing furiously. Lila had made up another slew of fake messages from Marinette. Adrien didn't even see the point anymore, it was clear Lila had won. Adrien looked at his classmates and realised they had all been in a state of constant agony and sorrow since Lila had arrived. He watched Nino from afar, realizing Adrien couldn't remember the last time he had a conversation with the boy without Lila involved. In fact the model struggled to remember spending time with any of his friends. Lila had monopolized all his time and attention. Perhaps he had lost all his friends after all? Adrien's thought were interrupted by a familiar sound. He heard the flutter of wings and  turned to find several purple butterflies appraching.

Before he could react he saw a red blur moving from the corner of his eye. Adrien stared out in wonder and his Lady landed powerfully onto the deck. Lila seemed to pull him closer and sink her nails into his arm but he could hardly take notice. Ladybug swung her yoyo and grabbed incoming butterflies just inches away from several classmates. "She's so amazing... Could anyone be anymore perfect?" the boy thought dreamily.

He suddenly rocked from his daydreaming . There could still be danger around! His Lady needed him. His thumb went to his finger and he realised the familiar chill of the cat miraculous was gone. The boy held his hand in front of his face, staring at his bare hand in alarm. He locked eyes with Ladybug, her beautiful bluebell eyes seemed to pierce his heart everytime. Guilt panged his heart as he tore his eyes off her and looked around the boat in panic.

He was hardly listening to the conversation until he heard Lila mention Marinette and Ladybug. Adrien contemplated the implications of her statement, Marinette did admit to having a crush on him so would it be possible that she would try and keep her competition away from him? The boy knew any word out of Lila had to be taken with a grain of salt, but Alya had been telling him some pretty crazy things Marinette had done because of her apparent feelings for him. "I do need to speak with Ladybug privately, regardless. I have to tell her the truth about what happened with Marinette! I need her to know my side of things" the boy thought.

He stumbled through his words, desperate to be whisked away by the superheroine as they had done a few times before. "All we need is some alone time... Perhaps I can even tell her my identity to bring us closer" the boy thought, as he reached out for the heroine.

Another blur landed before him in a flash. A toned figure stood protectively in front of Ladybug. Adrien glared at the new hero angrily as he saw Ladybug smile at something the new hero said. Anger bubbled up within the boy. Who was this imposter who dared to steal his Lady's smile. The smile that belonged to him and him alone. And then without so much as a glance the two fled. Adrien gazed as they flew together closely.... Too closely. He had to find his ring and put this fraud in his place!

Adrien's room was in a state of complete disarray. Every item was turned upside down and evey wardrobe door swung wide open. Adrien huffed angrily as he searched through his countless pairs of white shirts. He couldn't believe he hadn't even noticed his ring was missing until the boat party. He pinched the bridge of his nose, trying to take calm deep breaths. Every second he couldn't find his ring was another second away from his Lady.... It was another second of her being alone with HIM! He remembered the fondness in the way Ladybug looked at the new hero and it was driving Adrien insane. Adrien realized his mind had been so preoccupied with all the class drama he hadnt noticed when plagg left his bag. He was so wrapped up with Marinette's actions that he hadn't noticed his own kwami's absence. The boy kicked his foosball table in irritation. "If I wasn't for Marinette I wouldn't be in this mess!" he shouted angrily.

"Is that so?" a voice said from his window. Adrien looked up to see Master Fu as the Jade Turtle. Adrien bowed his head quickly "Master thank goodness! I've lost my ring! I've looked everywhere I don't know where...." the boys voice trailed off as he noticed that Jade Turtle's hat had been replaced with a green hood and a pair of green trimmed black cat ears on Master Fu's head. The boy glanced down to the older man's hand, and sure enough the black ring was around his finger. "Plagg claws in" the man said, as his cat themed alterations to his suit began to vanish. The black kwami appeared in front of the two.

"You... you took my ring master?" Adrien gasped. Fu exchanged a look with Plagg. "I did" the kwami confessed. Adrien's legs wobbled beneath him and he steadied himself on his foosball table. "Plagg.... Why..." the boy whimpered as tears began to roll down his cheeks. "You weren't acting like a true Cat. Just a selfish one" the kwami shrugged "I tried to warn you". Adrien felt his breath quicken "You... You betrayed me!" he shouted "Chat Noir is all I had! You took that away from me!!". Plagg looked up at the angry crying child "You betrayed me Adrien. You ignored my wishes and disrespected your partner. The ladybug and cat are two parts of a whole. A perfect balance. A give and take. You have been doing nothing but taking these past few days. Your actions are inexcusable" Plagg said. Adrien stared at Master Fu desperately "I didn't do anything to Ladybug I don't understand!" he cried. Master Fu gestured to a framed photo on his piano. A photo of his three friends Nino,Alya.... Marinette. "Someone who  chooses to stand with evil and watch while good people get trampled on is not a hero. Someone who preys on another's weakness and ignores their wishes for secrecy is not a hero. Someone who would watch a friend continue being hurt over and over again, who kept the truth a secret for selfish reasons is not a hero. Plagg told me about how you abused your power to seek entry into Marinette's home after she expressly stated that you were no longer welcome. " Master Fu explained to the baffled teenager. "You have been under probation since Paris was flooded, everytime Plagg vouches for you, you disappoint him. The cat needs to be with someone of stronger spirit and conviction in their beliefs. I'm sorry Adrien. You were... Very promising... But after Plagg heard your plan to use Chat Noir to get close to Ladybug through Marinette he simply could not stand by."

Adrien's eyes shifted to Plagg again" I was being tested ? And you knew? Why didn't you say anything? ". The kwami wanted so badly to snuggle up in the boy's hair like he always did... To tell him everything was going to be alright... But this time the kwami wasn't quite sure." I'm sorry Adrien. It's against the rules.... I just..... " Plagg began.

Suddenly Adrien made a grab for Plagg, his hands almost around the kwami. "Shelter!" Master Fu shouted, as a tiny orb of green light surrounded Plagg. The boy still tried in vain to grab the cat. "Please plagg... Stay with me.... Im nothing without you!!!" Adrien pleaded, snot and tears dripping off his face. "You're a good kid Adrien. I hope you find your way again" Plagg said, pressing his paw against the orb. The boy and his kwami locked eyes, both shattered at the realization that this may be the last time they see each other. "Claws out" Master Fu said, as the kwami sucked back in to the ring. Adrien desperately tried to follow and stood face to face with the Master. The boy gave the man one last look of desperation. "Please Master give me another chance! I know I can change!" he cried out. The man cast a weak smile at Adrien "I look forward to seeing it".

With that the older man disappeared out the window, leaving a stunned Adrien behind. The boy felt the chill of the night air wrap around his body as he fell to his knees. He stared out as the moon shone brightly outside his windows. The spacers between the panes of glass cast long shadows along his room floor. He reached out and let one of the shadows fall on his outstretched hand. Adrien's face twitched into a dark smirk as he thought of the irony.

He was back in his cage.

No more Chat Noir.... Not now... Not ever. His mind tried to process it. No more intense battles... No more thrilling chases.... No more flying across the sky ... No more freedom... No more late night rendezvous...

No more Ladybug.

Chapter Text

Tikki struggled to remember a time she had felt so helpless.

She'd thought back to previous Ladybugs and their own personal trials.

Hippolyta was maimed by that brute Hercules and had her miraculous stolen. Tikki had to serve the oaf for many unpleasant months until the amazons finally poisoned him and retrieved Hippolyta's girdle.

Lady Trieu, the most vicious Ladybug, was at the head of a rebellion in Vietnam. She was squashed by the infighting, ignited by the opposition.

Tikki remembered Jeanne's sweet disposition and loving smile, so similar to Marinette. She hadn't been there when the sweet child had been sentenced to death. The girl had accepted her fate and given the miraculous to a disguised guardian just before her death.

Every Ladybug was different, and they all had a unique set of scruples. One thing every Ladybug had in common was their disdain for  injustice. Each Ladybug was special, fighting for what was right in their own way. Tikki was proud of them all. All the heroes were chosen carefully, the guardians had rigorous tests and training before any chosen got to keep their miraculous. Tikki shuddered when recalling the day the temple was destroyed, awaking to a crying little boy showing her the ash of her centuries old home. Wang was a caring child, but some of his decisions were questionable.

Tikki was horrified when they discovered Noroo was alive and well, but in the hands of a villain. She was ready to help rescue her friend and save this city as quickly as possible. Wang's test for Marinette was laughable and the kwami battled to understand the man's logic of entrusting the salvation of a city to a pair of 14 year olds.

Then Tikki met Marinette and everything changed. The girl was unsure of herself and timid at times, but she was brave despite her insecurities. Tikki could hardly remember meeting such a creative Ladybug. She was sure that as Marinette grew into herself, she would unlock the powers of the Ladybug miraculous that few had. The cat was a bit shaky, but was dedicated to her chosen. Tikki was content that the two would one day thwart Hawkmoth.

When Tikki discovered that Marinette's crush was the cat, the kwami was elated. She considered that perhaps this was the work of destiny. The Ladybug and Cat performed marvelous feats when they were in perfect union , and these two had their fates intertwined in more ways than one.

Kwami rules stated that one must not interfere directly in human affairs.
You may guide.
You may advise.
But you must never act!
So when Tikki heard lie upon lie wrap itself around her chosen practically choking her, it was difficult to remain passive. Tikki listened as Marinette's closest friends, her handpicked comrades, had dismissed her as if she were nothing! The kwami struggled to bear to watch her beautiful confident girl fall apart.

Then her own cat... Her other half... Betrayed her. It was unforgivable. The Kwami remained as positive and comforting as possible. Tikki had captured and purified countless butterflies when Marinette was not paying attention, her skills that made her such a phenomenal Ladybug would no doubt make her an unstoppable villain. Tikki spent all her time nuzzling her crying chosen, reassuring her things would work out.

Tikki sensed the foolish cat following them home that night. She refused to drop Marinette's transformation on the balcony, even though the girl screamed it out six times! The Kwami knew that the truth that Adrien was Chat Noir... Ladybug's trusted partner, would break poor Marinette. When she finally released the transformation when they were safely in her room, Tikki hid and waiting for the stubborn cat's enviable invasion. Tikki was so sure the boy had discovered the truth, until she had seen his disturbing fit the next day.

That insolent child  had the nerve to use her chosen to get closer to Ladybug. He brushed aside his cruelty to the girl as if it were her own fault. He treated Marinette as nothing more than a pawn to move closer to his prize. His entitlement knew no bounds, as he reappeared as Chat Noir straight after being thrown out as Adrien. It was the last straw for Tikki. The boy didn't understand boundaries and she had to put measures into place to protect her chosen.

"I need to step out for a bit Marinette. The kwamis are meeting in the miracle box. I'll be back before patrol" she had said to Marinette, before flying off. She looked down to see the sweet boy Luka gazing towards Marinette's balcony. Tikki knew it was invasive but she hid and waited to see how Marinette would react to seeing him. The girl invited him into her room and began recounting the events of her betrayal. Tikki eyed a butterfly resting on the opposite end of the balcony cautiously, she was about to stealthily purify it when she heard a noise she hadn't heard in days.

Marinette's laugh.

Tikki peeked into the room to see the girl cuddling a toy, smiling at the boy. She watched for a moment longer as Marinette melted into the boys arms. Tikki had always thought of Luka in high regard. She knew that Fu had shortlisted him as a possible hero, and Sass had already hinted that he had seen his future with the boy. The kwami smiled to herself and turned her attention back to the butterfly. She was startled to see it had changed colour and flown off.

"Good day Master. I'm here to meet with my peers" Tikki said politely to the man. The man stared at her in surprise, "Is there a problem Tikki?". The Kwami nodded, "Ladybug is in danger of akumatisation. I think some changes are in order".

"I agree Sugarcube" Tikki heard a voice say. She turned to see a teary eyed Plagg at the door, clutching the cat miraculous in his shaky paws.

Chapter Text

Marinette happily hummed a tune to herself. Her parents had helped her find an amazing lycee called Woodview College. The school was difficult to get into but had an amazing fashion programme aswell as a renowned academic record.

Marinette had to include a detailed portfolio of her work in order to be accepted. She was busy filing her Chat Noir coat concept, when she stopped and gazed at the sketch of the cat model affectionately. The coat had kept her up many a night when inspiration had struck, usually after patrols. The form fitting coat had thin green lined along the seams and miniature batons as zippers. The belt could even be adjusted so it formed a tail reminesent of the cat hero. She'd done the initial sketch of Chat when he had stopped by after a particularly rough fight she had with Chloe earlier that day. He was so attentive... So understanding.... She felt like the luckiest girl in the world that day. To know that someone as wonderful as Chat cared about both sides of her life made Marinette's heart swell with affection. She had missed Chat Noir yesterday but she was glad to meet a new hero.

Viperion was surprisingly capable for a newbie, he hadn't even used his weapon which she noticed fixed to his hip.She had asked Viperion to join her and Chat Noir on patrol tonight, to introduce the two boys to each other and see how they could incorporate Viperion into the team. Marinette smiled at the thought of the two capable boys at her side. With Viperion's time reset abilities, Chat's cataclysm and her luck they were going to be an unstoppable force. Marinette's mind shifted to the other "heroes". Alya and Nino had chose to believe loosely based lies over a friend, how could she trust them to watch her back?

Tikki flew to her chosen, having sensed her unease. "I don't think I can trust Rena or Carapace... Not after everything they've said to me" Marinette said, looking at the framed picture of the four friends she had propped on her desk. She flipped the frame down and sighed.Tikki's eyes shifted but she cast Marinette a friendly smile. "We will look into replacing them once you find a more trustworthy acquaintance" Tikki replied. "Atleast Chat and I will have help from Viperion, I already have so many great plans for the 3 of us!" Marinette said, as she brushed her hair.

"Marinette... There's something I need to tell you about Chat Noir" Tikki said, watching as the girl turned around to face Tikki. "Whats the matter Tikki?" the girl asked her face riddled with panic. Tikki knew exposing Adrien was against the rules, but the last thing she wanted was her for her chosen to seek the cat out. "He might be.... Indefinitely out of commission ...his kwami and him aren't seeing eye to eye" Tikki decided. Marinette's eyebrows furrowed. "But... He has one of the two most powerful miraculous... I need him... We're a team" the girl insisted. The kwami flew to her chosen and sat on the desk in front of her. "Put your trust in me when I say... This is for the best. He hasn't been living up to his potential and Hawkmoth is getting more dangerous by the day" Tikki said, reaching out to touch the hand Marinette was resting on the desk. "But...Tikki... He... He's been with me... Since the beginning... He believed in me when no one else did...I trust him with my life... Tikki... I can't... I can't just abandon him Tikki.... I won't!" Marinette cried out, staring at the kwami. "He... He doesn't deserve your pity Marinette. There will be no new cat and perhaps he will change and return some day. But things simply could not go on with him as the cat...Master Fu will speak to you further when the time is right" Marinette stared at the kwami, her face still riddled with doubt. "Please, I'm begging you .... Trust me Marinette". Marinette nodded uneasily as Tikki gave her a small smile and flew away. The girl stared down at the smirking hero in her lap, her fingers stroked his face affectionately. How could she ever give up on her minou?

***
Luka sat cross legged on the upper deck, with Sass doing the same on top of his head. He was happy his kwami shared a love for meditation too. Sass emphasized that being the snake was no easy feat, and the maintenance of a calm and level head was essential.This was no ordinary meditation session though, Luka wanted answers. He had made sure Juleka and Anarka were sound asleep.

"So..." Luka started, staring at the little snake in front of him "Kwami of Destiny hey? How does that work? Can you change fate?". Sass looked up at Luka with curious eyes. "I can see multiple future paths and connections. There are many different possibilities for the future, but once a specific event occurs it cements a path. Nothing any of us do can alter the path once that occurs" Sass explained. Luka scratched his chin deep in thought. "Like a fixed point in time? An event that can never be changed?" Luka speculated. Sass stared at him in surprise "Exactly so young Luka. I'm impressed at your quick grasp of the concept".Luka grinned "You just remind me of the doctor". "Doctor who?" Sass inquired. Luka snorted and lightly patted the kwamis head. "We have to binge watch it. I'm sure you'll love it" he smiled "So... We're trying to prevent a fixed point from happening?" Sass nodded "Indeed. It is imperative that we save Miss Ladybug". Luka could see Sass was reluctant to give any other information and simply nodded, not wanting to pressure his knew little friend. "Listen Sass... I want to apologize for my behavior. I know you told me to stay hidden, but when I saw Adrien stepping up to Ladybug I got this weird... Feeling...like a sensation. I jumped in front of him before I even knew what I was doing... I'm sorry for not following your instructions" Luka said, his eyes cast down in shame. The kwami flew up to the boy "Yes the snake tires much more after using its power than the other miraculous. I was concerned about you, luckily Miss Ladybug is extremely competent and purified all the akumas before they could take over anyone" Sass said. Luka smiled at the kwami's concern and made a mental note to take his warning into consideration during his next battle. "Hold on...Sensation.... You... Felt that?" Sass asked, the kwami flew in front of his eyes shining in awe. Luka looked taken aback for the Kwami's response. "Yes... Is it something important?" Luka asked, trying to study the kwami's expression. "It's rather odd... Tikki and Plagg often speak about chosen's who have a natural fit  to their miraculous but I've never experienced it myself..." Sass pondered, speaking mostly to himself. "Sass... Anything you'd care to share?" Luka said, giving the kwami a little chuckle. "You seem to be picking up on my powers. I can sense when events can possibly affect the future path... I didn't know it was possible chosen to feel it too..." the snake smiled "I knew this was a fated connection! "

"So..."Luka said, handing out a tiny quails egg "You said you'd explain what Ladybug needs protecting from". Sass happily gulped down the egg and nodded at Luka in gratitude. "Chat Noir has not been acting very heroic in recent times, and the master has taken away his miraculous" Sass explained. Luka contemplated this, scratching his chin. "But... Chat Noir seems like a good person... And Ladybug and him have a really good dynamic going on..." Luka said. Sass smiled at the boy "While they do make a good team, there is much imbalance. Miss Ladybug pours everything into battle, the cat is decent but he doesn't take the responsibility seriously. It's been an issues amongst the kwamis for many a moon. His infatuation for Miss Ladybug is also a point of concern. While I do not know Miss Ladybug's stance on the matter, he disregards rules and boundaries in the name of love. The cat followed Ladybug after patrol one night without her permission. The cat kwami, Plagg, insists that he feels like his chosen only wanted to talk to Ladybug. Regardless, he almost discovered her identity" Sass explained. Luka recoiled in shock, "Why... Would he do that?". Sass seemed to struggle with his words then sighed deeply. "Kwamis are ancient beings.... We were once revered and worshipped as Gods. As such we have rules to prevent us from manipulating the human world. Chosens that wield miraculous are essentially an embodiment of this power. One of our rules prevents us from revealing rhe identities of chosens. It's up to destiny to determine whether they are fated to meet without the mask or not " the kwami stated "I understand you cannot protect Ladybug without all the information. I cannot tell you directly, but... perhaps I can show you".

Viperion sat on the edge of a high rise roof, watching the city below him. Sass mentioned seeing red lines connecting throughout the city but the boy saw nothing but a lovely view. "Maybe I'm not a natural fit after all" Viperion chuckled softly. The boy sighed and got to his feet to stretch. "Might as well get some practice in, huh Sass?" the boy grinned. The boy flipped and rolled along the rooftop, pretending to dodge invisible attacks. His hand brushed against the lyre in his hip. "I'd forgotten all about this... Pretty weird weapon" the boy thought out loud. He imagined going up against his akuma with nothing but his electric guitar and chuckled. The boy's gaze fell on a beer can propped up on top of one of the air ducts nearby and an idea popped into his head. He threw the lyre and it knocked the can cleaning off, but the boy was surprised when the lyre came flying back to him. "Boomerang action... Sweet" he smiled, catching the lyre with ease. Viperion clipped lyre to his wrist and found it made a decent shield or blunt weapon for close range attacks.

Two hours later the boy was covered in sweat, breathing heavily but smiling broadly. He could not deny having super powers felt awesome. He stared out as the Siene, as the sun sparkled through the water and his mind drifted to Marinette. He couldn't stand seeing the girl so sad and was determined to make her feel better. He picked up his lyre and slowly began plucking her heart song. He was about halfway through his song when he noticed an illuminated red string tied around his wrist. He boy picked up his arm in surprise, studying the intangible string. He stared out to see the string stretched far into the distance. "Is this what Sass was talking about?" the boy thought, getting up.

The hero took off, following the string as it wound all over the city. He passed  a few other strings as he ran across the buildings, but kept following the one attached to him. He was flabbergasted when he stood on top of a building, staring at the source standing on her balcony across the street. A very focused Marinette Dupain-Cheng, happily sketching away on her lap. He stared at all the strings tied to various parts of the girl's body. He noticed many of them led in one direction and were dull and frayed, his eyes followed them as they led to Françoise Dupont. However one string in the bunch was equally as bright as his and wrapped around another duller string like a braid.

The hero followed the braid to Françoise Dupont and stood on a rooftop,scanning the various students. Some looked up at him and cheered, but one pair of eyes glared at him angrily. The source of the two stings: Adrien Agreste. Viperion stared at the boy in surprise, struggling to find a reason as to why the boy had two strings from Marinette.

Suddenly Viperion's string begun to pull and tug. "You're early" a voice said behind him. Luka turned to see Ladybug smiling warmly at him, the various strings bound to her.

"Of course..." Viperion said, smiling warmly at the girl.

Chapter Text

Alya watched as the new snake hero perched on their rooftop scanning the school below. Her heart leapt at the chance of interviewing the hero without the threat of an akuma attack. Everyone was dying to know more about the mysterious new green hero who seemed older than the other temporary heroes seen thus far. As the girl rushed to grab her phone and notebook her heart stopped. She heard no sound of distress or had any news alerts in her phone.

No akuma attack?

Why did Ladybug give him his miraculous?

Alya did a quick scan of the school. The bug wasn't even here. Alya felt a familiar pang of jealousy. She'd first felt it when the snake hero joined Ladybug on Juleka's boat. She could admit, she'd been miffed that there was yet ANOTHER newbie. Everytime Alya saw Ladybug spring into the screen with a new hero that wasn't her, Alya couldn't help but doubt herself. She knew she'd done a great job as Rena Rouge, so why didn't Ladybug call on her more often? Alya knew jealousy wasn't very heroic and always tried to dismiss the wicked thoughts in her head, choosing to assume that Ladybug couldn't find her in time. After all, she was the first secondary hero and the one with the most experience and skill. That snake boy didn't seem like much
Granted, Alya hadnt seen him in action but she didn't have high expectations.

Alya saw Adrien standing at his locker, his eyes fixed on a wheel of cheese in his hands. "Hey Adrien. What do you think of snakey up there?" She said leaning against the lockers. The model's eyes widened as he looked up at the hero. Without a word, Alya watched Adrien walk into the courtyard and glare up at the hero. Adrien had caused some other students to notice the hero aswell, and they shouted his praise excitedly. The hero's eyes seemed to lock on Adrien. Alya could practically feel the tension between the boys in her own chest.

There was a story behind this!

A red dot shook her out of her thoughts and she heard shrieks and cheers around her as Ladybug joined the new hero. Alya watched as the male took Ladybugs hands in his, with a broad smile. Even from this distance, Alya could tell Ladybug was getting redder than usual. Alya quickly took her phone out and snapped a picture.

There was definitely a story here!

"Ladybug! Ladybug! I need to talk to you!!!" Alya heard Adrien shout out. The girl was surprised at Adrien's burst of energy, as he ran up the stairs to get closer to the heroes. Alya saw the two heroes exchange a wary look and without a word to each other took off together. Alya dumped her belongings into a bag and took of in the direction of the fleeing heroes.

As Alya turned the corner she saw Ladybug glance back at her, her feet almost coming to a stop. Alya broke into a broad smile and waved the heroine down frantically. "Ladybug can I ask you a few questions?!" Alya shouted out. Alya watched as the heroines face twisted in a emotion she had rarely seen on Ladybug's face, before turning around and taking off with the new hero. Alya stopped and scratched her chin as she pondered the heroine's actions. Ladybug had hesitated.

Alya sighed tightened her hold on her bag and she continued running after the heroes. The girl ran straight into Lila. "S... So sorry girl. I'm after a hot story" she explained. "Care to fill your bff in?" Lila grinned, following Alya's eyes to a despondent Adrien. "Theres something going on with Ladybug .. That new hero isn't coming out of no where... I need to get the scoop on Ladybug" Alya said, her eyes fixed on the two heroes, disappearing in the distance. "I'll come with... I'm her bestie after all... I can give you your scoop" Lila smirked, as her eyes lingered on Adrien.

*******

"Thanks for not asking questions" Ladybug said awkwardly, as the two heroes perched on the Arc de Triomphe. Viperion shrugged "I could tell he makes you feel uncomfortable.... Could tell that from yesterday actually..." the hero said.

Ladybug looked at him in surprise, "I... Its odd working with someone so perceptive... Chat Noir doesn't really pick up on my feelings quite as accurately as I'd like..." Ladybug said with a smile, but Viperion could see sadness behind it. A flutter of wings drew Ladybugs attention and her face went scarlet red. She was Ladybug, the last thing she wanted was a fresh hero to see how weak she really was inside. Viperion looked away, as the girl grabbed the akuma and purified it.

Ladybug jumped to her feet, desperate to take both their minds off the butterfly. "Alright. Let's see what you can do with that thing!" she declared, gesturing to his lyre. Viperion stared back uneasily, " You... Want me to fight you? "he said slowly. The girl nodded, holding her arms up in defense."It's important that we know how to take each other down" Ladybug said, staring at him in determination.

"Take you down?" Viperion said in surprise. Ladybug crossed her arms "I'm an experienced hero Viperion. If I become akumatised you'll need to defeat me". The boy seemed to ponder this and eventually nodded slowly. "Will your suit absorb my attacks?" Viperion asked, worry creasing his brow. The girl smiled broadly, "Of course... I'll show you". Without warning Ladybug jumped into the air and threw her yo yo at the boy. Viperion was still alert from his training earlier and deflected it with his lyre. He clipped it onto his wrist quickly and smirked at Ladybug's raised eyebrows. "You've got moves V.... Okay... Let's play" Ladybug grinned as she flew into another yo yo attack.

As Viperion brought his lyre up to shield himself the girl fell back down into a roll and sprang herself off the ground with her hands, her feet connecting squarely with Viperion's chin. The boy fell backwards on his butt, rubbing his chin in awe. She towered in front of him, one hand on her hip the other confidently spinning her yo yo. "That's my technique... I like to switch up between long range and close combat. It's a good way to distract your enemy" she smiled, sticking a hand towards the fallen boy. Viperion gripped it tightly and neatly tossed the girl over his shoulder on her back. This time he towered over her. "I'll remember that spots" he said, smiling sweetly.

Ladybug narrowed her eyes "You asked for it bebe serpent". The girl spun on her back, her feet barely grazing Viperion's face as he staggered back in surprise. Ladybug's stance had changed drastically. She effortlessly flipped to her feet and began a flurry of quick attacks with her yo yo. She'd been light on her feet before, fluttering in and out around him like a butterfly, now she dug her heels into the ground and charged him with a ferocity she had rarely displayed Viperion managed to dodge half of her attacks but everytime he took a step forward or grabbed his lyre to attack she sprang just out of range. "You're quick Bug" he grunted, throwing his lyre straight at her.

Ladybug backflipped, watching the lyre pass harmlessly over her head. "You're aim is just lousy V" Ladybug laughed, standing in front of him with her hands on her hips. He crossed his arms and cocked an eyebrow. "Not that lousy...." he smirked, as he motioned behind Ladybug. The girl barely had time to turn when the instrument came hurling back and slammed into the side of her head, throwing her off her feet.

The boy picked up his lyre with a grin "Not bad for a beginner, hey spots?". Ladybug's pigtails had come half undone and her hair was cast over her face as she was sprawled on the ground. He heard the sniffle of tears and his heart dropped. Viperion threw his lyre aside and quickly rushed to the girl's side. When he was standing just inches away her face quickly turned to him.

The black strands of her hair fell loosely over her face, lips fixed in a scowl and her eyes burned with fury. The boy took a few steps back in confusion, but it was too late. She threw her yo yo at him, wrapping it tightly around his arm and lunged herself between his legs. The force of her movement somersaulted Viperion into the air and he landed hard onto his back. Ladybug kneeled on top of his chest and clutched his bracelet tightly.

There... You've lost" she said coldly. Ladybug wordlessly got up and offered him a hand. This time Viperion nodded and took it, getting to his feet. He could tell the mood had shifted sometime during their fight. Ladybug pulled her hand away and cast her eyes down at the floor. "I... I'm sorry to put so much pressure on you..." she said, her voice soft as a whisper "But you need to understand. I'm not just some little girl... I can be dangerous too. You need to take me seriously. You.... You can't be another Chat". She ran a hand through her loose pigtail and coughed uncomfortably. Viperion simply stared at the girl patiently waiting for an explanation.

"I could get akumatised and I need to know that I can't simply trick you with a few fake tears or sweet lies. You can't just give up. You can't just give in. You can't just run to my side if I'm injured. Paris comes first. ALWAYS" Ladybug said sternly. Viperion stared at the girl closely, her face was the picture of strength but behind her eyes he could see a watery mess. "I... I know this may be... Premature.... And we don't really know each one yet... but please.. don't feel like you have to keep up a facade to not be akumatised. I understand what an enormous responsibility this is... And I'm taking it very seriously... I want you to trust me.If you ever fall prey to Hawkmoth... Ladybug... You have my word... I will take you down" Viperion exclaimed, his hand over his heart.

Blue eyes widened in surprise and the girl burst into a mixture of tears and laughter. Viperion stared at her in shock as the girl doubled back in giggled and tears streamed down her face. He placed an unsure hand on her back as her laughter ensued. "Spots.... You okay?" he asked in concern. The girl lifted her face, riddled with happy wet tears. "It's... Just... So funny.... I've never been so relieved to hear that someone is willingly beat me up" she giggled, throwing her arms around Viperion.

"Thank you...." Ladybug whispered. Viperion returned the girl's hug. He knew Ladybug was dedicated to Paris but to know the girl behind the mask and see her with such steely determination, made Luka discover a new nuance to her heart song.

Ladybug pulled back and he could tell from her expression that she was both embarrassed and confused by their interaction. "I... I've been told that Chat Noir will be on the bench for a while so... For now it's just you and me" she said, fixing her pigtails back into place. "Rena Rouge and Carapace ?" Viperion asked. He watched the girl's expression fall into one that was all to familiar on her face in recent days... Complete and utter devastation. Viperion knew he had said something wrong and racked his brain on how to rectify the situation, when the girl finally spoke.

"They are not in the picture anymore..." she said, her voice trailing off. "Well... Maybe that's for the best. With Chat Noir gone I'm sure you need more combat inclined heroes now. Do you know anyone you trust with any experience with a miraculous?" Viperion asked quickly, trying to shift the conversation from whatever was upsetting her. Ladybug crossed her arms and narrowed her eyesb at the city before her, deep in thought.

"Perhaps"