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To Cry

Chapter Text

“Ah, Ladybug. How may I help you today?” Master Fu opened his door and gestured Marinette to come inside with a slightly raised eyebrow as he sensed that her spiritual energy was out of sync. Something was terribly wrong with the girl.

“Master Fu, I h-hate to bother you… but Tikki said that I should come because…I-I need your help.” An almost tearful Marinette answered. “I’ve been trying to deal with it myself, but I have to admit, I’ve… I’ve been compromised.”

It had been awhile since they had fought Puppeteer again at the wax museum, and Adrien’s oh so casual mention of the girl that he loves after Marinette’s embarrassing ‘accidental’ confession and the even more horrific kiss that was so bad, Adrien jumped away from her with such speed that he probably broke the sound barrier in shock and was that revulsion? With how hurt she was that he had tricked her and that she had fallen for it, confessed and kissed him accidentally, she couldn’t read how he felt about it. Except she now knew that he told her about the girl that he loves and had been keeping secret apparently at the first opportunity.

She had no idea who it was. Was it an excuse? Just to let her down easily? Adrien didn’t seem to be THAT close with Kagami, but maybe their relationship was a secret. Maybe that was the truth and it wasn’t a poor attempt to say that he wasn’t interested.

Part of her hoped so.

All she knew, was that for her part, she never thought that she’d feel like this after kissing Adrien Agreste.

Embarrassed. Stupid, small, unimportant and worst of all, broken.

Marinette tried to move past what happened, they did ‘discuss’ it right away and she tried to wish him happiness in her heart, but it was just so hard and it hurt. It hurt to think that she was ‘just a friend’ and that she would never be, no could never be, anything more.

I’m not good enough. Her self-doubts and worries ate her alive.

As she thought about it… it was like he pitied her. She was just an ordinary girl after all, of course he’d make fun of her crush. Had he just been tolerating it this whole time? Had he known? He’d told her he was in love with another girl and that was so hard to hear, but she wasn’t surprised.

Her thoughts as she went to sleep that first night, after pretending to not be as hurt after all that had happened, well, they weren’t good.

I’m an idiot.

I’ve seen him kissed on the cheek by Chloe, Lila and Kagami. Marinette thought. I’ve kissed him on the cheek before. He… he seemed to tolerate the one from Chloe and probably me too now that I know that I repulse him.

Of course, I would. I’m not pretty, I’m not rich. I’m just a poor baker’s daughter with a hopeless crush to tease.

Marinette tried to regulate her thoughts and breathe, she knew that she couldn’t be akumatized, but it was hard. It was hard not to let her worries and the pain consume her without giving in to it.

Adrien accepted the cheek kiss from Lila with more grace than mine because he was in front of a camera, I should have seen that. She mentally scolded herself, the only cheek kiss he seemed to enjoy was the one from Kagami. How could I have been so stupid as to not have noticed that?

Was it all in my mind?

It probably was.

He just wants to be my friend and I’ve acted terribly for a friend.

No wonder he teased and made fun of me.

I’m a horrible person.

Of course, he wouldn’t like me like that.

The thoughts that came after that were worse, but thankfully she hadn’t started crying quietly to herself, lost in her thoughts until after her kwami had gone to sleep.

I wish I could disappear and never have to see him again.

Thankfully she was lucky and no akumas showed up to haunt her and she eventually fell into a restless sleep.

The first few days were the hardest.

Thankfully the museum trip had been Friday and she wasn’t going to have to face -him- until Monday.

Marinette kept herself busy by doing her commissions and helping in the bakery over the weekend. She even managed to finish her homework for the week, but she hardly got any sleep because every time she tried, she would wind up crying and just attract another akuma.

She was beginning to drag, both mentally and physically.

After having attracted five akumas already, Marinette was starting to get a little paranoid, but she still refused to tell anyone about it, not really.

She told Tikki to please leave her alone about it, “I’m trying. Really I am!” Was her excuse every time.

Her mother and father picked up on her mood almost immediately, but she wanted her space and they wouldn’t press the issue, especially after they noticed that she removed all of Adrien’s professional photographs off of her walls and then hid most of them at the bottom of her closet, unable to toss them all just yet.

Besides her parents, the first to notice was Luka. He had come over to check the fit of his Kitty Section t-shirt Sunday afternoon. He had brought his guitar and of course gave her a look of concern before playing her a sad and haunted melody.

“Marinette, your melody, your harmony… well, it sounds like you’re in pain. Is there something wrong?”

She didn't mean to let him see her feelings, the dull ache of all her pains and doubts in herself that was now haunting her. “I- I may need a minute to calm down.”

He nodded as somehow, he understood that she didn’t want to talk about it, not really, but he wouldn’t push her to tell him more.

She wanted to deal with it, but she was only able to tell him honestly, “I’ve just been dealing with,” she swallowed, “something hard.” Then she picked up his Kitty Section shirt that she had just finished and handed it to him, “let’s get your fitting done first, you can take off your shirt and try this one on in the bathroom.” She tried to say calmly.

Luka had nodded once more, laid down his guitar on her chaise and took off his jacket and laid it beside it before turning to her, and gently putting his hand on her shoulder to comfort her. “I’m here whenever you need me Marinette.” Then he held up the shirt that she had just finished as he told her, “I want to help you whenever you’re ready. All that I ask is that you let me. No strings attached, I promise.” Then he gave her a quick wink and told her with a whisper, “I’ll be right back.” Then he walked to the bathroom to try on his new shirt.

Marinette took a deep breath and wondered why she had the bad luck to fall for such an oblivious guy like Adrien. The humiliation and embarrassment from the museum still stung. She had forced herself to interact with him with their friends on their group chat since then, but it wasn't easy.

She tried to exhale all the stress of knowing that being with Adrien just wasn’t to be. He loved another girl. Probably Kagami.

What does Kagami have that I don’t? Marinette wondered as her eyes grew wet. Besides being upper class like him, pretty, rich, poised, a fencer, strong and definitely not clumsy. Everything I’m not.

Marinette groaned a little.

No, I can’t think like that. Adrien is allowed to love whoever he wants to. Marinette reminded herself again mentally. That doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with me.

She kept trying not to think about Adrien, but it was hard to let go.

Luka returned, with his old Jagged Stone shirt in hand, before he tossed it on his jacket. Then he smiled at Marinette and raised his arms to turn around and show off her work. “Fits like a glove.” He commented with a grin, happy to wear one of her works.

“I’ll be the judge of that.” Marinette replied softly, causing Luka to chuckle as she approached and checked the seams. She pinched the seam on his left side and he laughed, “hey, that tickles!”

Marinette couldn’t help but smile sweetly, as she decided that they both could probably use the laugh as she tickled his sides. Luka’s laugh was a happy melody all of its own, like a rainbow that made the storm worthwhile.

So, she tickled him more.

“Hey!” Luka objected as he laughed again, before he turned on her and tickled her back. It wasn’t long until they were almost wrestling as they had a tickle fight that lasted several minutes, the trouble was, as Marinette’s eyes watered from laughing, she eventually began to genuinely cry. The happiness of spending time with Luka was short lived, unfortunately.

Why? Why couldn’t it have been me? Her doubts and fears resurfaced. Why am I not worthy? Will I always be alone?

Even Luka’s not interested in me enough to do something about it.

They were on the floor at that point and Luka quickly wrapped her up in his arms and held her, rocking her as he hummed a comforting song just for her as he gently rubbed her back and brushed her hair out of her face as she cried her eyes out.

Luka was a godsend. She was pretty certain that he was the reason why an akuma didn’t show up this time, because she was thankful that he was here.

Thank you, Luka.

Marinette had cried herself to sleep and Luka carefully carried her up to her bed and laid her down gently, tucking her in before going to her parents to ask them if they could call him if she needed him again. They thanked him for his help, they had heard that laughter from the tickle fight and had admitted that something had happened, but they weren’t at liberty to say.

Luka had shouldered his guitar and told them, “it’s okay. I don’t need to know what is bothering her, I don’t mind just being there for her, just, anything for Marinette. Please let her know that I want to help her. She is such an amazing girl.”

Sabine and Tom were grateful for his help and agreed to tell her.

Unfortunately, Luka’s mother needed him at home and he had to leave, but he left Marinette a note with his number asking her to call him whenever, and he also left the dock address of his family’s boat, just in case.

Marinette woke up for a late dinner, and her sadness was a bit muted, but managed to attract another akuma when she went back to bed that night.

Alya noticed on Monday morning that something was wrong, but she respected Marinette’s request to just leave it alone… for a while anyway.

“Gurl, whatever it is, I’m here for you and so are the rest of the girls.”

“Thanks Alya, but… but I’ll be fine. I just need some time, please.” Marinette cared enough about Adrien that she didn’t want Alya to be mad at him, so she didn’t explain.

“I’m here when you’re ready.” Alya had replied and then went to hang out with Nino for lunch.

Adrien looked like he wanted to talk with her when Nino left him too, but Marinette rushed off, she could always find something else to do.

Chat Noir noticed that there was something wrong with his lady during their Monday afternoon battle, but Ladybug didn’t want to tell him about her humiliation.

A part of her was afraid that he might be happy now that she was ‘free,’ although it was petty of her and she knew it. Chat Noir probably wouldn’t be like that.

It just didn’t feel like she was free, it felt like she was drowning, being unable to truly cry it out was hard because she had to keep an eye out for an akuma and she wasn’t about to tell Chat how many akumas she’s been attracting. She didn’t want him to worry either.

If she had told Chat, he might just want to know the name of the guy that had toyed with her so he could go and defend her somehow. That’s the last thing I need, Chat trying to hurt Adrien. Is it wrong of me that I’m the only one who wants to hurt? She wondered.

So, she told her partner nothing.

As time went by, with Marinette in a partial trance, she broke out of it enough to call Luka a few times since Sunday and he hummed a song for her or played her something to help her feel better each time. He offered to come over so that he could be there for her in person, but she made excuses for him to not show up each time.

I don’t want to be a burden, not to him, not to anyone. The thought echoed and in her darkest moments she thought, I’m not worth it.

Chapter Text

Adrien would not leave Marinette alone.

Despite her attempts to avoid being alone with him, Adrien tried to talk to her Wednesday when he finally seemed to notice that she had been having trouble looking at him. She managed to escape, that time.

He doesn’t really want to know, and I don’t want to tell him. She mentally chanted to herself.

Why can’t he leave me alone! She thought angrily, but quickly forgave him, she couldn’t be mad at him. This was her fault, if anything she was mad at herself.

Hope is a lie. I have no hope, no love. No Dream, just… just emptiness.

Then she would be almost crying again, waiting until she could be alone to begin to cry, only to have to transform again and catch another akuma.

Forced to tap down her emotions, the pressure was building and the pain was almost overwhelming at times.

Tikki and her parents were getting worried, but she wouldn’t talk it out with any one of them.

Talking about it makes it more real.

Somehow, Adrien managed to corner her after school before his fencing lesson on Thursday, it had almost been a week since they had gone to the museum together, and yet through her exhaustion and sadness, it had felt like an eternity.

“Are, are you really okay Marinette?” He asked as he rubbed the back of his neck nervously, “I can’t help but feel like you’ve been avoiding me.” He admitted.

Marinette tried to be objective when she tried to read him. Adrien looked, well, almost concerned for her. Was that sadness? Worry or Pity? It hurt because she didn’t want sympathy, at least not from him, that would be worse.

Marinette didn’t want him to know how badly hurt she was, how something felt dead inside and what made it worse was that despite it all, she knew that it wasn’t his fault. She was the one that had dared to hope, to dream and to be crushed by her own teenage drama that she practically invented herself. He didn’t care for her, not that way. That, that was okay, even if it meant that she was not.

Still, she didn’t want to hurt Adrien, since she knew that he would blame himself for her pain if he knew.

As if he could control it. She thought ruefully. He’d grown up sheltered and was a social mess after all.

He has no idea what he does to girls. She tried to reassure herself. That’s not his fault.

Adrien was so sweet and innocent when it came to social, well, things, and she didn’t want to ruin that about him. Plus, he was in love with another. Telling him how she felt wouldn’t help anyone.

So, she lied.

“No. I’m fine.” She stated as calmly as her heart would allow, hiding her pain again as she looked away from him. “I’ve just been busy. Yeah, it’s not your fault if I’ve seemed off. I’m… I’m fine.”

Marinette knew that it was ironic that that was one of the most coherent things that she had ever said to him.

When he gave her an uncertain smile and tilted his head as he thought about how to respond, she did her best to return it, but then she mumbled an excuse and darted away from him quickly and hid, trying to calm herself, only to attract yet another akuma. Like all the others she had already managed to tap down her feelings for a moment, to make it pause long enough for her to transform and purify it.

She wasn’t going to risk talking to Tikki after one of them appeared until after she’s taken care of it after all and even then, her kwami’s hopeful phrases held no comfort.

Tikki was really worried, but at this point she didn’t say much besides she was there for Marinette and maybe, just maybe, they should think about seeing Master Fu.

“I don’t want to bother him Tikki.”

Alya and her other girlfriends had noticed her change in attitude too. Marinette was no longer the bubbly person that she was before. Her natural light had dimmed.

Not even Lila’s lies or taunts could rile her up. She’d just nod and leave it be.

Pretty soon, even Lila gave up, thinking she had won Marinette’s obedience somehow.

Marinette was sad, turned inside out and while she genuinely tried to be Adrien’s friend, she found it hard to be around him and didn’t even realize that she had been avoiding him or any group meeting where he might be there.

Which led to the next Tuesday’s afternoon’s confrontation.

“Gurl, I’m tired of waiting for you to come to me. Why are you avoiding Adrien? Did… did something happen?” Alya asked her point blank as she gave Marinette a hopeful but confused grin, because even then she could tell that Marinette was sad and depressed about something.

Marinette tried to lie. “Nothing important happened.”

I can’t tell you what happened at the museum, it was, it was just too embarrassing. Marinette thought as she cringed just a little.

I wish that I had been smarter, I wish I’d known that Adrien doesn’t like me like that and I wish that it never happened, that I’d never wasted my time or my life being so stupidly in love with him to begin with. It’s not like he would ever return my feelings…

It hurts.

Knowing that Alya would pester her until she had a version of the truth, Marinette said all that she was willing to. “Thanks for asking, it’s just, ah, I just finally realized that Adrien, well, he… he just wants to be friends with me and I’ve decided that I… that I’m going to honor that.” Her eyes had grown wet and Alya immediately held out her arms to hug her.

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Alya began, as she patted her back a little, but then she pulled away as she tried to read Marinette’s face, “are, are you sure though gurl? You’re worked so hard to confess to him.”

“I’m sure.” Marinette whispered as she tried not to cry as she hugged Alya for a few minutes. Unable to explain that it was pointless. After all Adrien was in love with another and she, lowly Marinette Dupain-Cheng, was just a friend.

Alya had to leave anyway to go out with Nino again. Marinette wanted her friend to be happy at least, she deserved it. So, she took a breath and pretended to smile and not cry. Honestly, she was surprised that Alya bought it.

“You ought to get going.” Marinette told her with a half-baked smile.

“Alright, but I’m only one text away if you need me.” Alya told her as she ran off to find her boyfriend.

“Thanks.” Marinette muttered as she avoided Adrien in passing again as she jugged off to the nearest alleyway to deal with the inevitable as she slumped against the brick wall beside a dumpster. Another akuma found her a minute later as the tears began to fall.

Everyone seems to leave me. Was the stray thought that had brought that akuma. She knew it wasn’t true, but it still had come, as did many other dark thoughts.

After transforming and purifying the akuma, Marinette dried her tears and de-transformed. Tikki did her best to reassure her, but this time she pressed her suggestion.

“Maybe it is time to see Master Fu. Maybe he can help?” Her little kwami suggested. “Or, or maybe Luka again? He’s worried about you. He’s called the bakery and asked Juleka about you too didn’t he? Why have you been fighting accepting his help?” Tikki pleaded.

“I know Tikki, I just don’t want to bother anyone.” Marinette sniffed, “and I don’t want to hurt him.”

Like I’ve been hurt.

“No Marinette. Don’t use that excuse. Luka offered to help, he cares about you and asked you to let him help, he even said that there was no strings attached Marinette. Please, you need help. Call him.” Tikki pleaded.

“P-Please, I-I just need a minute.” Marinette wiped her eyes. I’m tired, so tired of all of this.

Tikki had nodded and floated back into Marinette’s purse to eat the last cookie that she had on her.

“I’ll go home and get you some more cookies.” Marinette promised.

“Please, just think about it.” Tikki had almost cried as she asked again.

I’m coming apart. Marinette realized by the time another week had passed and she saw herself in the mirror.

I hardly recognize myself anymore.

Chapter Text

Calling and talking with Luka always helped Marinette a little bit, but not enough.

After all, Marinette couldn’t really let herself cry without someone else there to alert her about an akuma that would usually show up, which was most of the time that she tried to think through things and she couldn’t tell Luka why she was afraid to just… let it all out.

Of course, when she tried to cry her worries, fears and hurt out, she’d have to transform to catch an akuma before she really got to the heart of the matter. Then she’d have to deal with that and once she had cleansed the akuma, she’d have to work on staying on top of her emotions as well to not attract another.

Tikki tried to keep an eye out for her chosen, but she was getting worn out as well, Marinette’s dour mood was unfortunately infectious to the positive little bug to a degree as well. Which only made things harder for them both.

Marinette figured out that it wasn’t the dark thoughts that called the akumas after all, it was the uncontrolled emotions that they caused.

So, she tried everything to calm down, to deal, and to basically just shut down.

She was still a shadow of herself, a walking zombie practically.

It was obvious that Ladybug was beginning to drag as well. Either she went into a battle with such a frenzy that she’d defeat the villain of the day within minutes before Chat Noir had a chance to show up, or the battle dragged on. The puns and banter that used to come second nature to them was almost a distant memory.

It didn’t help that one of the thoughts that bothered her was that while Ladybug was good enough for Chat, Marinette wasn’t, at least that was oddly one of her fears and it really didn’t help her self-esteem. She knew he wasn’t required to like Marinette, but Marinette was the larger part of her and the flawed side. It was hard to feel cared for by someone who only loves you when you’re at your best.

Not that Chat Noir didn’t keep trying to cheer up his Lady, but the more attention he gave her, the more she seemed to distance herself.

It didn’t help that there was another party that Adrien went to, inviting his three friends as he escorted Kagami, like their parents had arranged.

Marinette knew that Adrien and Kagami weren’t together, but she could see how they would fit together, having similar backgrounds and all. Marinette had been working on being friends with Kagami lately, having found out that she wasn’t as bad as she thought she was, she just didn’t know how to make friends with her and stay friends with Adrien at the same time. Especially when it seemed like their parents were trying to get them to be more than just friends, which brought up the lost dreams and doubts again, stronger than ever for Marinette.

So, Marinette again was too sick to go, or so she said.

I think Alya believed me. She found herself thinking more often than not.

It still hurts I, I just can’t face him.

Her friends were worried for her, Chat was worried about Ladybug and she knew it. It was all that she could do to try to make it look like she was fine, but it’s hard to fake feelings that are the opposite of the ones that haunt you.

It wasn’t natural for Marinette, to try to be so emotionless. She kept coming back to the idea that she just needed to cry, to let it all out at once. It wasn’t safe to do as Marinette, she knew that as well as she had been lucky the day that Luka had been there.

I just need a really good cry.

Is Ladybug allowed to have a good cry? Marinette wondered, is there a way that I could?

That was how Marinette wound up at Master Fu’s and asked him for a special favor.

“Are you sure Ladybug? Why not ask Chat Noir for this? To be there for you.” Master Fu had asked. “I’m sure that your partner would want to be there for you for this.”

“He might want to be, but I need someone that can watch over me and comfort ME, the Marinette side of me. Chat Noir loves Ladybug Master, he’ll want to let me vent, then solve my problem really quickly and then he’d probably ask me out. I hate to say this, but he’s… he’s not very mature that way. He charges in without thinking about the consequences. It’s been a couple weeks now Master and I need someone that can just be there with me, with no strings attached and no plan of attack. I know that Chat Noir loves Ladybug, but I need someone that loves and cares for all of me, the Marinette side included.”

Master Fu looked like he was about to say something, but seemed to think better of it. “Are you sure about that Ladybug?” He raised an eyebrow at her. “I will not tell you what to do in this, but I will say that maybe you’re not giving Chat Noir the benefit of the doubt.”

“Master Fu, I’m hurt and confused right now, so that may be true, but I have another reason for my idea. Chat, well, Chat can’t defend against an akuma and if I turn to him for comfort, I’m afraid that he’ll turn it into something that it isn’t. Or he might demand to know who I broke my heart over and I don’t want to accidentally tell him only for him to turn around and go after Adrien.”

Master Fu was surprised when she said Adrien’s name, and he pressed his lips together and nodded as she quickly went on and told him about Luka and how she thought that he could help her, with the right Miraculous.

Master Fu thought seriously about her plan. “This young man that you are thinking about, from what you have told me, he is very intuitive. He may discover who you really are through this.” Master Fu pointed out. “Is it worth the risk?”

Marinette swallowed, exhausted and on the verge of tears, “is that such a bad thing? I need someone to be there for me! Ladybug cannot afford to be akumatized Master, not once and this, this has been too hard for me. It keeps coming back to haunt me. I’ve been depressed and in pain. Luka may not know it, but I think that with the Snake Miraculous, he can help me finally let my feelings flow so that I can deal with them. I’m a teenage girl that needs to deal with things like a teenager sometimes Master Fu, please.”

Master Fu nodded. “I see.” He looked defeated for a moment and then went to get the Snake Miraculous, “perhaps it would be a good idea since nothing else is working, you’ve been lucky so far.” Then he gave her a small grin as he presented it to her, “but we can’t have Ladybug compromised for long after all.”

Later that evening, a young man looked up from playing his guitar on the prow of his family’s boat.

Having heard something or someone land softly behind him, he opened his eyes, turned around and saw her. He cocked his head and asked, “Ladybug?”

Ladybug nodded and began her plea, “Luka Couffaine, I need your help…”

Luka stood up immediately and walked over to her, taking her breath away with the sight of so much concern on his face, as if his actions were for her, for Marinette. Luka walked past the Miraculous that she was holding out to him and then he wrapped his arms around her and hugged her with one hand on her back and one on the back of her head gently.

Then he whispered, “Marinette, I’ll always be here for you.”

“H-how? How did you know?” Ladybug closed her eyes and sniffed a little as she melted into the hug, tucking her head into his shoulder.

“Marinette, you’re my Melody. You have the same heart song in both forms,” Luka admitted as he chuckled, “not to mention the same voice, the same hair and the same spirit. Although honestly,” he pulled back and looked into her eyes as he brushed her cheek with his thumb as he cupped her face, “I think that you’re braver without the suit. It’s easy to be brave when you can hide your face. Not so much without it and yet you still manage it, most of the time that is, which is still more than most of us.”

“Oh Luka,” she tucked herself into his arms again and confessed, “I haven’t felt brave for a while now, I haven’t felt like myself. Something happened a-and I don’t know what to do or who I am anymore. I t-think I just need to let it out without having to hold back. I don’t want to burden you but you did offer to help…” She shook in his arms and he rubbed her back to comfort her.

“I did promise that and I meant it. Whatever you need Marinette.” Luke interrupted her rambling, “no strings attached.”

She pulled away from him and she held out the Snake Miraculous, “I need you to watch over me then, because I just… I just need to have a really good cry.”

Luka looked surprised but then his eyes softened as he nodded and took the Miraculous.

“Anything you need, my Melody.”

They transformed after she had explained his powers and he got to meet his kwami Sass. Then Ladybug led him to a rooftop high above its neighbors, with a small building on top shaped like an L on its side.

Ladybug took off her yo-yo and told Viperion how to use it. She even had him practice catching an akuma.

“It looks like you know what you’re doing.” Ladybug concluded after a few minutes as she bit her lip nervously.

“Juleka went through a yo-yo phase.” Luka explained, “I learned a few tricks so I could teach them to her.”

“You’re so sweet that way.” Ladybug answered with a half grin, then with a swallow she began to explain, “you c-can catch multiple akumas and then I can cleanse them all, when, when this is over.”

Viperion nodded and patted her shoulder reassuringly as she continued, “when you see the first one approaching, you can use your power to give us a second chance if we need it. I just, I haven’t been able to cry over something…”

Luka again nodded as he whispered, “I know Marinette. I know that Adrien rejected you.”

“Wait, I, I haven’t told anyone that! H-how did you know?” Marinette asked. “I mean, I don’t think even he knows that.” She let her words trail off as she wrapped her arms around herself as she realized how sad that sounded.

“Your heart, your melody has been crying out for some time.” He wrapped his arm around her. “I could tell even through the texts and phone calls.”

“Sorry.” She quietly apologized for not trusting him until now.

“Heartbreak isn’t the same for everyone, and moving on past our first crush can be hard, I get that.” Luka explained. “You didn’t have to tell me.”

“Have… have you had your heart broken before?” She asked carefully.

Luka nodded, “once, a while ago. I think of her as a distant friend now, since she wasn’t interested,” then he saw a concerned look on her face. “Oh, Marinette no.” He wrapped both of his arms around her to comfort her as she almost began to cry. “She wasn’t you, I’ll admit that I like you,” He blushed a little as he added, “quite a bit actually, but I know that you’ve been crushing on, well, that other guy.”

Then he added with a small smirk, “the one too blind to see what a wonderful girl you are.”

Luka somehow knew that she didn’t like hearing Adrien’s name right now, and she appreciated that.

Marinette sniffed. “Oh?”

Viperion nodded as he pulled back from the hug, “I haven’t asked you out because of that and because I was afraid. I fell pretty hard the last time, falling for her I mean. It was like being hit by a hurricane, it wrecked me once I confessed and she, uh, she didn’t feel the same way. She was actually mad at me about it for some reason, but thankfully those feelings have passed like the storm that crush was. Our friendship never was the same and unfortunately, she’s no longer in my life besides being friends on a few apps online.”

“Oh.” Marinette didn’t know what else to say about that after all.

“That doesn’t mean that’s going to happen to you.” Luka nudged her, “knowing you, caring about you, has been like the tide is coming in, bringing me home into a safe port after the storm. I’m happy to love you from afar Marinette, I’m not here to try to get you to switch over to me. I want to show you how much I care and that’s by waiting until you’re ready to move on or heaven forbid until my heart realizes that there may be other seas to sail.” He chuckled and she couldn’t help smiling a little, “although I’ll admit that right now, I’m happy that I’ve dropped anchor where I am and most of all, I want you to be happy, first and foremost.”

“You’re such a poet Luka.” Marinette sniffed and a tear leaked out of her eye.

“I’m a musician.” He objected, but then he saw her tear fall. Wiping it away, he asked gently, “how would you like to do this?” He swallowed, “do, do you want me to hold you like before?” He asked hesitantly, respectfully.

She knew he meant when she had cried herself to sleep after their tickle fight and she nodded, knowing that last time she had wound up on his lap. “We may want to sit down in the corner over there first, this… this may take a while and you’ll have less sky that you have to keep an eye out for.” Mairnette swallowed, “that’s why I picked this place.”

“Understood.” Luka went to the corner inside the L shape of the building and sat down, crossing his legs, leaving him with a 90 degree view of the sky.

Marinette grew a little self-conscious, “I-I forgot to ask, but, is this o-okay with you?”

Luka smiled at her, “that’s what I’m here for, and Marinette?”

“L-Ladybug, it’s Ladybug when I’m suited up.” She sat down next to him as he opened up his arm for her to tuck herself in beside him, her yo-yo in his other hand and at the ready. “You, had a question Viperion?” She whispered.

He told her softly, “I just wanted you to know that you don’t have to ask to sit with me or hug me, okay?”

She nodded, “okay.”

“Are you comfortable?” He whispered after a moment.

Ladybug nodded and sniffed, wiping away a tear as thoughts of Adrien and how little her crush on him made her feel, how his off hand and yet unintentional rejection hit home as her self-doubts haunted her once more.

“Then let it out.” Viperion told her gently as he held her in a tender embrace as he whispered, “I’m here for you.”

Chapter Text

There were reports of the cries of a woman in pain in one of Paris’s neighborhoods. As well as a strange calming hum, there were some people that could have sworn that they heard the melody of a harp between her cries too. Still, it was the woman’s mourning that was the loudest. No one could find her, not even the police were able to find her despite the sounds that she made, carried on the wind for all to hear.

Someone alerted the Ladyblog and Alya wrote a quick article about how there had been cries along with a ghostly tune heard in that part of the city for almost two hours. Adrien Agreste, aka Chat Noir, was alerted of course when he checked the Ladyblog before he went to bed and decided that he might as well investigate. He didn’t have anything else left to do for once and he was worried that the woman might be akumatized if she wasn’t already.

Better check it out before calling My Lady. He thought to himself as he coaxed a reluctant Plagg into transforming. His kwami hadn’t been very vocal of late, which was odd, but besides the lack of complaints or the demand for more cheese, Adrien hardly noticed.

Arriving on the scene where the cries had been reported, about twenty minutes after the posting, Chat Noir checked the streets that Alya mentioned and found Alya making another blog post.

“Hey Ladyblogger.” Chat Noir greeted her playfully, landing by her side once she was done recording and posting her newest video, “I came to see what was the mat-purr. Have they found anything?”

Alya shook her head, “nope, even when I came, I could hear a woman crying off and on. Whoever she is, she must have been through something, like she lost the love of her life or something.”

Chat Noir frowned slightly and his ears lowered, “that’s terrible.”

“Well, yeah. Between her cries, I could barely hear a strange hum or melody when she wasn’t crying. I think that she may have cried herself out by now or maybe she left the area, although we have no idea how.” She answered with a shrug, “either that or she’s a ghost of some kind.”

“I’ll be the judge of that, I’ll see if I can find her. Thanks for the help!” Chat Noir saluted her and used his baton to launch himself to the nearest roof top. He closed his eyes and listened. There it was, well, a muffled cry, and then an almost whimper that was obviously someone settling down after being upset, as well as the sounds of a harp?

“I better investigate.” Chat Noir muttered to himself as less than a minute later, a part of him selfishly wished that he never did…

Chat Noir’s eyes went wide when he found a new Miraculous holder sitting cross legged with his back in a corner, hidden on one of the taller rooftops, making a good stage to project loud noises and then, to his horror, Ladybug whimpering and curled up on the new guy’s lap and tucked into his arm that was holding a little harp, no, a lyre. The green clad superhero saw Chat Noir approach immediately and whispered something to Ladybug and for some reason, she clutched the newcomer closer and whined a little as the new guy lowered the lyre to speak.

Chat Noir of course bristled as he began to reach for his weapon, “what did you DO to her?!”

Ladybug sniffed and whispered something quietly to the new guy as she tensed up a little bit.

“I see.” The new guy whispered in response to whatever Ladybug had said, ignoring the threat of Chat Noir’s presence.

Ladybug turned towards Chat Noir weakly and he gasped, there were tear tracks down her face, her hair was loose and her eyes were puffy and her face was red.

Apparently, his Lady had been crying a lot. Now that he could reach them, the new guy wiped the tear trails off of her cheeks and mask. She didn’t seem to mind his touch at all, which really floored Chat Noir, usually she was so protective of her personal space. The new guy hummed a little and Chat Noir could see her visibly relax.

Ladybug weakly swallowed, “C-Chat, I’m, I’m okay Kitty.” Which was just enough for Chat Noir to stand down from taking some sort of drastic action.

She sniffed and shook her head, “I just need a little more time.” Then she whispered to the new guy. “You, you can tell him… I guess.” Then she began to mutter… “I’m so tired, so, so tired.”

Pulling her close, the new guy rubbed her back as she tucked her head into his shoulder, with one hand hidden, wrapped around him in a hug presumably and the other clutched on his chest. It was a very intimate position and Chat Noir registered that fact as he clenched his fists.

“Why don’t you rest then, Ma-My Melody.” The new guy told her far too sweetly for Chat Noir’s taste.

Chat pouted at the term of endearment and that Ladybug was so comfortable with the new guy.

The new guy waved for Chat Noir to sit on a nearby crate and spoke up a little louder to him, but still in a whisper so as not to not disturb Ladybug, “please sit. She said that I could tell you some of what happened.”

“Only some?” Chat Noir raised an eyebrow at the newcomer.

“I’ll tell you what I can.”

Adrien noticed that his Lady’s breathing was evening out even as they spoke, as if she was falling asleep.

Chat also noticed that the new guy had Ladybug’s yo-yo in the hand that he had been using to strum the lyre, which he continued to play for her now as they spoke with his thumb. It was a very calming tune.

“Did you hurt her?” Chat Noir angrily whispered, accusation in his voice once again.

“Do you think that she’d let me hold her like this if I had?” The new guy answered before shaking his head with a look of surprise on his face, which softened when he looked down at the now sleeping Ladybug. “No, I’m only here for her as a friend.”

The new guy then held up her yo-yo in his hand, “at least Hawkmoth is frustrated tonight. We’ve got fourteen akuma in here.” Then he continued to strum the lyre, as if having Ladybug in his lap wasn’t a distraction at all.

“She let you use her yo-yo?” Chat Noir wasn’t exactly surprised, he just couldn’t believe it.

The new guy nodded, “she kind of had to and I’ve used one before.” He shrugged his shoulders but not enough to disturb Ladybug. “Well, a normal one. She’ll still have to cleanse them after her nap.”

“Oh.” Chat Noir was confused but he finally sat down, “why…why didn’t she come to me about, whatever this is?” He opened his hands, as if pleading for an explanation before he put his hands on his knees to wait.

The new guy shook his head, “she had her reasons. I think the main one is that my power lets me go back in time if used properly and if she had been akumatized, well, I could have stopped it before it happened. Oh, the name is Viperion by the way.”

As he looked down at Ladybug with a small smile on his face, Viperion stowed away his lyre on his hip and then brushed back her hair, which was loose for once. Which was both gorgeous and disturbing considering the situation. “I don’t blame you for wanting to check on her first though.”

Chat Noir answered, “yeah, well, I’m Chat Noir, but I think you knew that.” He shook his head as he admitted, “she, she means everything to me and I still don’t know why she didn’t come to me or why either of you didn’t call me to let me help keep a look out at the very least.”

Viperion looked thoughtful. “Again, she had her reasons. One of them is that I really don’t think she wanted to hurt you.”

“Hurt me? Not letting me be there for her hurts me.” Chat Noir explained with a pained look on his face as he folded his arms and pouted, his cat ears lowered and showing his irritation at her distrust.

Viperion shook his head, as he stroked her back lovingly making Chat Noir jealous and irritated all at once. “Look, she probably didn’t mean to hurt you and thought that maybe by keeping you out of it, things would be less complicated. She’s kind like that. She was also embarrassed and overwhelmed, she’s a young woman and she has a big burden on her shoulders after all.” Viperion tried to explain for her.

“I know, I carry it with her.” Chat told him defensively.

Viperion shook his head again, “I don’t think you truly understand. Of all the people in Paris, she’s the only one that can’t allow herself to lose her temper, to really yell and scream or cry.” He hugged her tighter, as he looked down to make sure that she was still asleep. He ran his fingers through her hair or rubbed her back occasionally too, as if it was second nature.

Chat frowned at the other guy’s tender care for his partner. Jealous that she wasn’t in his arms.

“Look, Ladybug has to be at every battle and she has to be the one that cannot be compromised because she’s the only one that can cleanse the akuma, if she gives in to her emotions then everyone loses, she’s under an enormous amount of pressure that way. Knowing Ma-,” Viperion quickly cleared his throat, “I mean, knowing my Melody, she would think that at least if she doesn’t give in, then she’s the only one in pain...” Viperion adjusted Ladybug’s position a little and leaned his head on hers.

Chat Noir scowled at him as Viperion continued, “when she does that though, her pain just eats at her as she tries to bury it. She’s been trying to fight the pain of… of something that I’m not sure that she’d want me to tell you about.”

“I’ve noticed that something has been bothering her, but she refused to talk about it.” Chat Noir looked down, feeling like he had failed her somehow, “even with me.”

“Hey, you couldn’t control it, she’s been very secretive about it.” Viperion told Chat, “and besides the burden she carries, well, it was just too much. I-I want to try to leave that up to her to tell you about it when she is ready, if possible.” He added hesitantly, like it was a subject that he didn’t like either.

Chat Noir glared at him. “I still don’t know why she’d tell you over me.”

“She knows me.” Viperion answered, “I was there for her when she tried to have a controlled cry over this, this thing I guess and I told her that I’d be there for her no matter what, no strings attached. She really needed this.” He swallowed and added, “Ladybug was embarrassed by all of the akumas that have come after her of late.”

“She’s almost been akumatized?” Chat Noir looked surprised but then swallowed placing a hand on his chest as if he was in shock for a moment, “and she’s never told me about it?”

Viperion answered seriously, “repeatedly. We had a bit of a talk before, well, this.” He wiped his thumb along her cheek as if to wipe away the dried tears. He sighed and whispered to her, “oh, my Melody, you’ve been so strong and amazing. Of course, you’d be Ladybug.”

“Wait, you make it sound like you know her!”  Chat Noir gasped.

Viperion raised his eyebrow at him and nodded his head lightly, “yes. It took me awhile to figure it out, but yeah, I know who she is,” Chat Noir choked on a response, only to look hurt, which caused Viperion to explain further. “Look, I guessed who she was, she didn’t tell me by choice.”

Chat Noir snorted angrily and folded his arms.

Viperion grew thoughtful. “Look, honestly, I’ve seen you two interact, on both sides of the mask and I’m surprised that you haven’t figured her out yet on your own.”

“Wait, I know her too?!” Chat Noir looked shocked.

Viperion nodded and rolled his eyes as if he should know this by now, “yeah, I’ve seen you rescue her before too, as a civilian.” Viperion stroked her hair as he practically cuddled her, making Chat Noir glower again.

“I don’t believe you, I would have recognized her.” Chat Noir defended himself, “I love her!”

“So do I.” Viperion stated, as he had had enough of Chat Noir’s attitude, he was worn out himself after taking care of Marinette himself after all. “She was just so, upset, that I couldn’t help but connect that my lovely, heartbroken Melody is Ladybug.”

Chat Noir looked away and snorted. “So, you broke her heart huh?”

“NO, it was, ugh, some other guy.” Viperion hissed, but then he took a breath and lowered his voice once more even though it seemed like Marinette was a deep sleeper. “Look, I’m trying not to give you any more clues, I mean honestly, since you haven’t figured her out, if I say anymore even the blind idiot that this was over would figure it out.” Viperion’s frustrated voice was uncharacteristically lowered and dark as he practically hissed the last part unintentionally, but Chat Noir still heard him anyway. Viperion closed his eyes, and muttered ashamed of his lack of control, “and now I’ve said too much.”

“This is over that boy that she likes.” Chat Noir concluded with a slightly confused face.

“I didn’t say that directly.” Viperion peered at Chat Noir and tilted his head as he looked him over, “you know, now that I think about it, you actually remind me of him.” Viperion looked thoughtful as he assessed Chat Noir once more before he nodded once and then asked, “would you say that you’re a ‘model’ citizen? Oblivious to a fault?”

Chat Noir visibly flinched, “no, ah, I wouldn’t say that.”

“On the fence about it are you?” Viperion smirked a little as Chat Noir’s eyes grew wider as he realized that his identity may have just been discovered.

Viperion checked on Ladybug once again, finding that she was completely out of it and she wouldn’t hear what he said next. Apparently, she was an extremely deep sleeper and it probably didn’t hurt their conversation that she was sleep deprived and needed her rest desperately.

Viperion’s tone changed as he lightly hissed, “If I wasn’t holding her, I’d probably be decking you right now.”

Chat Noir cockily responded as he folded his arms, “why use your venom on me? I don’t even know what you’re talking about.”

“Because there’s a good chance that you’re the guy.” Viperion glared at the cat.

Chat Noir raised an eyebrow dramatically and waved a hand dismissively, “what? What are you saying? That I’m the guy that hurt her, or the one that she likes? I’d never hurt my Lady and I seriously doubt that she’d fall for the real me unless she was a close friend or something and well, I would KNOW her when I saw her! The mask I wear as a civilian isn’t really as close to the real me as Chat Noir is, so I doubt that she’d be able to connect my two identities.”

Viperion scoffed as he muttered, “well, at least you’ve got that part right.”

“Look Snake, I really don’t think you know what you’re talking about. I would recognize her without the mask. So, what did you really mean? Do you think that I’m the one that hurt her or the guy that she liked?”

Viperion rolled his eyes and groaned lightly, “I was clear enough the first time.” He paused and then thoughtfully asked, “so, Adrien, when are you finally going to make it official with Kagami? Or should I ask about Lila or Chloe instead?”

Chapter Text

Viperion had just suggested that it looked like Adrien Agreste was at the very least considering a relationship beyond friendship with one of his two friends Kagami, Chloe or the girl he would never willingly consider and possibly the worst option ever… Lila.

“What?! I’m not interested in them!” Chat Noir almost shrieked before he blinked and glanced at the lovely yet cried out Ladybug, snug as bug and out like a light in the snake’s arms. Chat Noir swallowed took a breath and exhaled as he whispered, “wait, so you do know!”

“That you’re the model boy? It wasn’t that hard to piece together.” Viperion frowned and shook his head before he muttered, “you’re just SO clueless.”

“It’s not like I want to be.” Adrien replied sadly as he gazed longingly at Ladybug, thinking that Viperion was referring to their secret identities being kept from each other, “she thought that it was safer if we didn’t share our identities and as far as the girls, ah, my Father didn’t really teach me much about, well, the world.” He waved his hand for emphasis before he looked down at the ground, needing a break from watching Ladybug being held and comforted in Viperion’s arms.

Viperion nodded as he took in that information as he cuddled Ladybug with a slight frown on his face, rubbing her back gently again.

Chat Noir pouted as he thought about Viperion’s earlier insinuation, which is why a few minutes later he decided that he just had to ask, “so why did you say that about my friends? It’s not like I’m dating Kagami or Chloe and definitely not Lila.”

Viperion hissed, “so you’re their FRIENDS huh? I didn’t know that you had a harem of them.”

“WHAT?!” Chat whisper screamed.

“Pretty low quality too if you ask me.” Viperion was irritated with Adrien and he wasn’t going to hide it. That obviously meant that he was being a bit more vicious than he normally would be, especially since he found his words came to him so much easier in the suit than they usually did as a civilian.

“I don’t have a h-harem! They’re just F-FRIENDS!” Chat objected as he waved his hands around, “we-we’re not like that, I’m not like that with any of them! I only love Ladybug!”

“Calm down.” Viperion ordered, closing his eyes for a moment to resolve to try not to bite off Adrien’s head, despite how sick of the younger man’s stupidity that hurt Marinette, the girl that was Ladybug even though Ladybug couldn’t be Marinette, to him anyway or so it seemed. “I was making a point you imbecile.”

Alright, I’ll have to work on not being so straight forward. Luka mentally chastised himself, Marinette wouldn’t like it and it’s not me, this has just been a rough night, and he hurt her so much and he just didn’t see it!

“I am NOT an imbecile.” Chat Noir folded his arms and glared at Viperion.

Viperion exhaled to release some of his stress over the matter before he opened his mouth this time. “When it comes to relationships and girls, I hate to break it to you Adrien, but you are.”

“I am not.”

“Look, you’ll have to admit it to yourself someday so you can learn how to be better and grow up.” Viperion rolled his eyes a little as he saw the petulant look on Chat Noir’s face. “I’ll admit this because I’m fairly certain that it won’t help you figure out her identity. You see, you probably would’ve already seen the girl that IS Ladybug in your life if you were more observant. This woman in my arms is worth ten times all of those girls lumped together.” Viperion hugged the limp form of the sleeping Ladybug to him for emphasis, making Chat’s eyes glow with a touch of jealousy and anger.

“Wait, so I’ve seen her? Without the masks?!” Chat Noir looked absolutely shocked. “No way!”

Viperion shook his head at himself, “ugh. You have and I’m terrible at this, I shouldn’t have said that.” He brushed Ladybug’s hair to comfort himself and to be sure that she was still asleep, which she was. He sighed to himself, he was so grateful that she trusted him to do this for her and he couldn’t help to fall for her a little bit more, as if that was possible. Plus, she fit so well in his arms. He smiled down at her lovingly, so happy to be in Marinette’s life.

“You can stop gloating.” Chat Noir broke Viperion out of his reverie as he looked sadly at him and Ladybug as his ears drooped, “look, I can’t help it if Father locked me away and I didn’t pick up much, I’m still playing catch up here.”

Luka’s eyes blazed for a moment.

“Excuses.” Viperion hissed.

“You’re one to talk, I think you’re the one that needs to calm down.” Chat Noir pouted.

Viperion took a deep breath and released it, knowing that he didn’t want to get loud enough to wake Marinette. “Would YOU be calm if you were holding the girl that you LOVE as she cried her eyes out over another guy for over two hours until she literally cried herself to sleep?” Viperion pointed out before his hissed, “I think that I have a RIGHT to be upset.”

Chat Noir swallowed, “you, you love her? Too?”

Viperion nodded and looked down at Ladybug with love in his eyes, “I think so, yes. She’s… she’s my Melody.”

“She’s uh, never mentioned you.” Chat Noir tried to point out with a wave of his hand, then he smirked as he pointed something out, “since you’re not the guy that she likes either, the feeling isn’t mutual.”

“I know that.” Viperion hissed again before he took a deep breath and went on, “you have to realize that as Ladybug, she does her best to be a professional and I know that. I also know that I’m ‘just a friend’ to her civilian side. Just like Chat Noir is to Ladybug on this side of the mask, so it’s not like I’m surprised.” Viperion admitted as Chat looked annoyed. “I just happen to know more about her than you do because I now know both sides of her.”

“You don’t need to rub it in.” Chat Noir kicked a pebble that had somehow made it to the roof to the side.

“I didn’t fall for Ladybug if that’s what you’re annoyed about,” Luka cupped her cheek gently and then brushed his thumb on her cheek, “I’ll have you know that this mask that she occasionally wears doesn’t matter to me.” Viperion took a deep breath, “I fell for the girl beneath it first.”

“Like that makes a difference.” Chat Noir sulked as he looked away.

“Knowing my Ma-, umm, my Melody, she would think that it does.” Viperion stated as he returned to rubbing her back. “She’s not the same without it, she’s better.”

Chat Noir scoffed, “there aren’t many girls that I can imagine could come close to even being like Ladybug.” Then he looked down and mumbled, “I know one girl… but no, that’s… that’s not even a possibility.”

Luka had heard him, he has no idea at all, even when it’s right there in front of him, it’s like he’s denying it or doesn’t want Marinette to be Ladybug, how weird is that?

Chat Noir was quiet for a few minutes, allowing Viperion to think.

Luka shook his head as he wondered, what would Marinette want? She’s said that she wants Adrien to want her, but Ladybug is a part of her, not all of her. I-I really think that she might be hurt if she finds out that Adrien fell for all of her good qualities that shine just because she sometimes wears a magical spandex suit. Should I ask her about it?

A few minutes latter he was shifting Ladybug’s position, his legs having grown a little numb from sitting for so long.

“Let me know if your arms get tired,” Chat Noir smirked, “I could hold her for you.” He mentioned hopefully.

Viperion’s grip tightened around Marinette protectively. “I’m fine.”

Chat sighed after waiting a few more minutes, “how long are you going to sit here with her then? All night?”

“Till she wakes up or until I figure out how to purify these butterflies.” Viperion answered as he held up her yo-yo that contained over a dozen butterflies that had attacked as she had cried her eyes out and Viperion had stood watch, “otherwise I’d take her home.”

Chat’s eyes widened, “wait, you know where she lives?!”

Viperion couldn’t help his own light smirk as he got cocky, “of course, I’ve even been in her bedroom.”

“What?!” Chat Noir growled, bouncing to his feet as he flexed his claws threateningly.

Viperion held back a laugh, but he found that even he couldn’t stop himself from teasing the cat after what Mari’s been through…

“She even told me to take off my shirt for her.” Viperion teased, “which of course, I did.” He could feel the smirk on his face as he added, “then we had a tickle fight.”

“Now you’re just teasing me.” Chat Noir pouted and folded his arms as he sat back down as he tried to relax a little, not believing the ‘lying’ snake for one minute, “I can’t even see Ladybug being in a tickle fight.”

“Maybe,” Viperion shrugged, “it doesn’t make it less true though. Her civilian side can be quite playful and sweet, if she’s comfortable around you that is.” He smiled ruefully, like that was some part of a big secret, which it was.

“Are you implying that she’s not comfortable around me?” Chat Noir raised an eyebrow at him.

“Maybe, but which side?” Viperion parried, causing Chat Noir’s frown to grow before Viperion was kind and waved his hand a little at him nonchalantly. “Of course, you of all people know that taking off your shirt for a girl doesn’t mean anything, I’m sure that you’ve changed in front of many girls.”

“Interns, other models and assistants don’t count.” Chat Noir insisted but then sighed, “could you please explain though? I’m going to worry myself sick about it all night if you don’t.”

“Nope.” Viperion grinned as he shook his head and brushed Ladybug’s hair reassuringly, “I’m not going to hand over her identity like that. I will say that it wasn’t for any nefarious reason or to disrespect each other. I’ve said enough as it is though, because if I were you, I’d probably know who she was by two clues ago.”

Looking down at Ladybug the snake smiled gently but almost ruefully, “you know, I’ve got an idea.” Viperion said as he took her hand that had been curled up on his chest and put the yo-yo in it. Then he leaned down and it looked like he was about to kiss her.

“Don’t kiss her!” Chat Noir almost shrieked as he stood up and glared, “she-she hasn’t given you consent and… and…”

“And what? I thought that you of all people thought that even ‘friends’ kissed on the cheek.” Viperion lifted an eyebrow at him. “Or am I wrong with THAT assessment?”

“Well it means something different if you have feelings for her!” Chat Noir groused.

“Funny you should say that. Look, I’m just returning the favor.” Viperion smirked and gently kissed Ladybug on her temple, just beside her mask.

Chat Noir audibly growled and clenched his fists and teeth.

Viperion pulled back and rolled his eyes at him. “You really ARE a cat. Look, I only know two guys that she has kissed and I just HAPPEN to be the other one.”

“What? She, she kissed you?” Chat Noir looked down, defeated. “By… by choice?”

“I wouldn’t force her.” Viperion said sternly. “Besides, why would that bother you of all people? I know that you’ve been kissed by lots of girls, publicly even by Chloe and Lila, I’ve seen the photos. Although even I’ll admit that email with Lila was embarrassing.”

“That wasn’t my choice.” Chat Noir insisted as he held up his hands as if to say, ‘stop,’ but then he sighed. “Lila surprised me for that picture and uh, usually it, it isn’t my choice. I-I can’t just push girls away either, in public especially. My father says that it would make my image look bad. It’s better to smile and not react at all when it happens. Chloe is one of my oldest friends and she kisses her friends, so that’s not a big deal either since friends can kiss on the cheek like that.” For some reason Adrien looked guilty as he paused before he hesitantly asked, “right? I mean, uh, most girls just kiss me to make themselves look good by being with me or for an image boost, or just for a picture for their scrap books. They don’t love the real me because they don’t really know me, so it doesn’t really mean anything.”

Viperion frowned at that, but slowly nodded, “It’s almost funny that you would say that, still, I’m… I’m sorry to hear that. I’m sorry for teasing you. It’s just odd that you’ve got so many girls pining over you and you don’t seem to realize it. Still, you shouldn’t have to be kissed if you don’t want to be.”

“Thanks, I guess.” Chat Noir muttered as he shrugged one shoulder like it wasn’t a big deal. Then he looked at him questioningly, “what did you mean by pining?”

“Those girls I mentioned all seem to like you like that.” Viperion waved his hand at him, “or so I’ve heard.”

“Oh, well, at best they’re just friends, I’ve told them that.” Chat Noir replied with a shrug, “any kisses they’ve given me are just as friends or we’ve welcomed or said goodbye to each other with a traditional la bise. Well, Lila was being more like a fan for that picture, but I think she knows I don’t like her that way.” Chat Noir sighed, “she just likes me for my celebrity and face I think.”

Viperion glanced at Ladybug as he swallowed, not knowing if he should ask Adrien more about this topic. He knew that he’d always wonder about it if he didn’t though. So, Luka resigned himself to do it as he calmly looked up at Chat Noir, at Adrien, and asked, “so, are-are you telling me that you’ve never been kissed by someone that you wanted to kiss you?”

Chapter Text

Viperion frowned at Chat Noir, knowing that he was talking to Adrien Agreste and he calmly asked him, “so, are you telling me you that you’ve never been kissed by someone that you wanted to kiss you?” He cleared his throat and then added hesitantly, “besides Ladybug I mean.”

Chat Noir thought for a moment and deflated, “maybe.” The cat shrugged and then rubbed the back of his neck. He looked guiltily at Ladybug and then looked away. “I’ve been kissed on the cheek, as a friend, by the prettiest girl in my class.” Then he held up his gloved hand and showed a little space between his thumb and pointer finger, “I kind of have a tiny little crush on her, but most everyone at school does and I don’t think she even knows how awesome she is either.”

Viperion had closed his eyes and hugged Ladybug close, as if he was afraid that he was about to lose her, “I see.”

Chat Noir sighed and then groaned in frustration, “Things have been, not so great with her lately. The pretty girl I mean. I don’t know what it meant when she accidentally kissed me when I was playing a joke on her and when I asked if she meant it, she said that it was a joke like I was playing a joke on her and it didn’t mean anything and… and it should have.” Adrien looked guilty again as he pouted a little. “I-I didn’t want to take advantage of her, but somehow it feels like that may have happened.”

“So that’s what happened?” Viperion muttered to himself with a blank look on his face, which of course, Chat Noir heard.

“Yes, that IS what happened.” Chat Noir looked confused and a little upset as he waved his hands almost frantically. “I mean, I thought that she was upset with me. Which was why I played a prank on her to try to cheer her up and then the pretty girl, she ah, she told me that she wanted us to be together forever when she didn’t think that I was me? I don’t know how to explain it.”

“Try.” Viperion said almost coldly.

Chat Noir blushed beneath his mask and sighed as he looked at the roof beneath them and rubbed his neck with one hand, “it was my first kiss, well, the first one that I could remember anyway. It was really quick, but the pretty girl’s lips were so soft,” he said dreamily as he touched his own lips as he remembered the feeling, but quickly dropped his hand as he bit his lip.

Viperion was grateful that Chat Noir didn’t see him flinch at that.

Then Chat cleared his throat, “when it seemed like it might happen, I thought that I wanted it. At the first contact, it, it was amazing, but all at once it felt like I wasn’t being true to Ladybug and… and somehow I was cheating on her and that wasn’t right, so I jumped away from her and then, and then when I told her it was a joke, she said it wasn’t funny and then she said that what she did was a joke and then went on one of her confusing jumbled speeches when she gets nervous, she’s really cute when she does that, but still, she… she was just so, well, I don’t know what to think.” Chat Noir shrugged, completely mystified still by what had happened.

Chat Noir looked confused by the memory, “when I asked her about it later when I apologized for pranking her, well I think we didn’t communicate things properly?” Looking guilty he added in a whisper, “I’ve just never seen her so upset before, it hurts to think that she was hurt like that because of me.”

“She was upset? The pretty girl I mean. She… she ah, she was the one that kissed you?” Viperion noted sullenly, like he didn’t want to admit it as he tried to think through this impossibility in his mind, “and you, you didn’t like it. So, shouldn’t you be the one that’s upset with her?”

Adrien double checked to see that Ladybug was still asleep, and bit his lip before he admitted with shame in his voice, “oh, I liked it. That’s the problem, I shouldn’t have and I’m ashamed to say that I did.”

“That’s, sad. To be ashamed of being kissed by a pretty girl that likes you I mean.” Viperion sulked, but Chat Noir was so caught up in the memory he hadn’t caught his comment.

“At first, in the moment, I looked forward to it, the thought of it I mean, but… but then there’s her.” Chat Noir waved at Ladybug. “Even though she keeps rejecting me, my heart belongs to her.”

“Uh, huh.” Viperion commented before he switched tactics and accused, “wait, it sounds like you could have stopped this pretty girl before it happened. So WHY didn’t you?”

“I KNOW! Some part of me selfishly wanted it alright!” Chat Noir whisper screamed with his hands up in the air. “And, and she had said such sweet things and it was so FAST! I was caught up in the moment!” Chat Noir waved his hands once and then ran both of his hands through his hair.

Then Adrien looked up helplessly at the girl in Viperion’s arms, “then the… the pretty girl said that it wasn’t real.” Chat Noir looked downcast as he dropped his hands to his lap. “The whole thing was confusing.”

Adrien motioned towards his left and then to his right indecisively, “she does one thing and then she says another. I mean, her explanation made no sense whatsoever.” Chat Noir exhaled as he ran a single gloved hand through his hair. “It’s nice to know at least with Ladybug, that it… that it means something, when Ladybug kisses you that is.”

“Uh huh.” Viperion wasn’t too happy to hear that Marinette had kissed Adrien on the lips, accident or not and his tone wasn’t that great for a minute. “Well, I hate to break it to you model boy, but it means just as much if not more so when THIS girl kisses a guy without her mask. She’s clumsy, sweet, amazing,” Viperion looked down at her lovingly, “and the prettiest girl I’ve ever met actually and I’m not just talking about her freckles.”

“Ladybug has freckles?” Chat Noir grinned at the idea, once again grinning at the exhausted superheroine as he held his hands over hit heart, “just when I thought that she couldn’t be more adorable!”

“Well, I can’t disagree, and I keep saying too much. Ugh.” Viperion groaned a little as he adjusted Ladybug’s position on his chest once more as he held her hand with the yo-yo in it. “She has the most beautiful heart too.”

“Getting tired?” Chat Noir nodded as he smirked and changed the subject, “like I said, I wouldn’t mind taking over…”

“You’re not getting her to keep tonight cat.” Viperion hissed before he sighed and leaned down once again as if to kiss her.

“Hey! You’ve already kissed her!” Chat almost yelped, despite trying to keep it down so as not to wake up his Lady.

What he didn’t notice was that Viperion had whispered something to her during his protest instead.

Ladybug mumbled something and the yo-yo opened, freeing over a dozen purified butterflies.

“Well, that does it.” Viperion grinned, “now I can take her home.” He tried to stand but he had been sitting for too long and his legs were now asleep.

Chat Noir chuckled at his failed attempt to stand, “NOW can I help? We wouldn’t want to wake her just yet, right?”

Viperion glared at the cat for a moment and then sighed, “fine, just for a few minutes.”

Chat Noir practically pranced over to him as he bent down and gently picked up the sleeping Ladybug. It was his turn to hold her lovingly and gaze upon her in his own arms.

“Hey, don’t get too excited.” Viperion told him as he stretched after wrapping Ladybug’s yo-yo around her waist. “It’s not like I’m taking you to her house.”

“Oh, why not?” Chat Noir whined.

Viperion stopped stretching and gave him a look, “do you honestly think that not only I should get permission to kiss my ‘just a friend’ on the cheek,” of course he used air quotes as he said that, “and then I should just show you where she lives just like that and by extension tell you her identity? Just how do you think she’d feel about that?”

Chat Noir glowered, sometimes he really hated the rules. “Alright, alright, I guess I can see where you’re coming from.” Chat allowed. “Can I at least help you get there half way?” He asked hopefully.

“You just want to hold her longer, don’t you?” Viperion raised an eyebrow at the younger teen.

“Can you blame me? She smells wonderful.” Chat Noir rubbed his cheek against the top of her head and took a breath as he smiled.

Viperion nodded with an irritated look on his face, “that she does. Kind of like the cookies she made for me last week.”

“She… she made you cookies?” Chat Noir swallowed, “she’s… she’s never made me anything.”

“Has she ever had the opportunity to make you something?” Viperion pointed out with a raised eyebrow. “Remember, it’s not Ladybug that can bake, it’s her civilian side. You two are too busy saving the city for desserts I imagine.”

“Well, I guess that’s true, most of the time.” Chat held her close and closed his eyes, as he started to purr lightly, “but I guess that’s not her fault.”

“Are you… are you purring?” Viperion raised an eyebrow at the other hero as he folded his arms. “That’s weird.”

“Cat’s purr to comfort. Like you’ve said, she’s been through a lot.” Chat Noir ignored the weird comment. “She’s worth it.”

“That she is.” Viperion agreed, but then sighed. “Look, I will say that she has a hard time dealing with her emotions and tends to get overwhelmed I think by thinking about what could happen and then she has trouble when she’s surprised, but that’s probably part of why she’s so amazing.”

“I’d have to say that it’s partly why she’s such a good Ladybug.” Chat Noir said smugly.

They took a moment just to be.

“Come on.” Viperion finally nodded towards the west, “I’ll take you up on your offer of carrying her part way, just, when I ask you to, will you leave her with me and not follow us?”

“How do I know that I can trust you?” Chat Noir demanded as he held Ladybug closer possessively, not wanting to ever let her go.

“Isn’t it obvious? She’s the one that trusted me here.” Chat’s shoulder’s slumped. “Don’t take it personally cat. I told you, my Miraculous power is a good back up if something had gone wrong and she knows me. I didn’t figure her out for sure until tonight when she brought me the Miraculous and besides her obvious similarities to Ladybug, she is the most amazing girl I know, especially without the mask.”

“Yeah, she is awesome.” Chat Noir nodded, “alright, I’ll help and I guess I’ll go when you tell me to, maybe she’ll change her mind about telling me her identity once she feels better.”

“I wouldn’t count on it, me guessing and being right is different than her telling. Still, thanks for the offer and willingness to go when I say that you need to.” He smirked at Chat Noir, “I wouldn’t want to have to lead you back to my place and explain to my Mom why the girl I like is sleeping in my bed.”

“You wouldn’t!”

“Hey, I’m a gentleman! I wouldn’t make her sleep on the couch, which is where I’d wind up being if I did take her home tonight.” Viperion laughed, “now come on!” He jumped over onto the next rooftop and Chat Noir easily followed.

A few minutes later and they ended their trip together when they landed on the roof of Adrien’s school.

“I guess that explains how she gets to akuma attacks at my school so quickly.” Chat observed.

“Maybe, I could have just led you in the wrong direction.” Viperion pointed out.

“True, but I don’t think that you did. She may be little, but she’s not light.”

Viperion chuckled, “no, I’ll admit that I didn’t, but she’s perfect the way she is.”

“I know.” Chat agreed, as he looked tempted to kiss her lightly on the top of her head, but he restrained himself before he sulkily handed her over with a frown. Then he rubbed the back of his neck nervously. “Viperion, can… can I ask you something?”

Viperion nodded almost reluctantly, “sure.”

Chat Noir swallowed before he asked hesitantly, “what does it mean when a girl does one thing and then says another?”

Chapter Text

Chat Noir had swallowed and asked Viperion who was now holding a sleeping Ladybug in his arms, “What does it mean when a girl does one thing and then says another?”

Viperion looked resigned, “Is this about your little crush? The pretty girl I mean?”

Chat Noir toed his foot on the ground and bit his lip before admitting, “maybe.”

Viperion sighed, “look, I’ve had a long night and while I love holding my Melody here, she needs to get home and get some real sleep, she hasn’t been sleeping much of late obviously.”

Chat Noir sagged and nodded.

Viperion exhaled and decided something. “Look, if you sit down, close your eyes and keep them closed for a minute, I should be back in ten minutes or less and then we can talk more about it if you’d like.” Viperion told him with an uncertain expression, “if you REALLY need to talk about this that is.”

Chat Noir’s eyes and ears perked up. “You’d, you’d do that?”

Viperion nodded and shrugged with the shoulder that didn’t have Ladybug’s head on it after a moment. “I think that it’s what my Melody here would want me to do, eventually anyway.”

Frowning a little at his term of endearment again, Chat Noir nodded, “actually, I’d appreciate it.”

“Then sit down and close your eyes.” Viperion told him and Chat sat down and closed his eyes like a good cat would.

“See you in ten.” Viperion told him.

Viperion returned without Ladybug about eight minutes later.

“Is she, is she alright?” Chat Noir asked.

“She’s fine. Tired though, I was barely able to get her to de-transform.” Viperion admitted.

Chat Noir tried not to glare at the new superhero who held his hands up to placate the cat. “Look, I just thought that her kwami would appreciate that and I doubt her parents know about the whole superhero on the side job, so I didn’t want to mess up and let her parents see Ladybug sleeping in their daughter’s bed.”

Chat sighed, “alright, that makes sense.”

“Now, you wanted to know what it meant when a girl does one thing and then says another?” Viperion asked as he sat down next to Chat Noir.

“Yeah, is that normal?” Adrien gave him a confused look.

Viperion laughed, “no, it’s not. Except maybe in your position. I may be older than you, but that doesn’t mean that I have some guide to girls laying around that I’ve memorized.”

“Huh? Wait, you’re older than me?”

“Just got my driver’s permit.” Viperion said vaguely.

“Wow, I had no idea, and… and you like Ladybug too?” Chat Noir asked.

“You’re getting side tracked again.” Viperion wagged his finger at Chat Noir. “No wonder you haven’t figured out her identity, you literally only have eyes for Ladybug.”

“Who wouldn’t?” Chat Noir asked with a shrug.

Viperion gave him a look, “I know that by loving the girl under the mask makes me love the girl with it on by default, but I doubt she’d see it that way. I bet she sees the mask as a duty, maybe a part of her, but not HER. Not entirely that is.”

“I have no idea what you’re saying.” Chat pointed out. “My mask lets me be more myself than my civilian side I think, but I’m still the same guy with or without the mask.”

Viperion shook his head and waved his hand dismissively, “look, let’s not talk about Ladybug or the masks, you wanted to talk about your little crush.”

“Really little crush.” Chat Noir pointed out as he held up his gloved hand to show a distance of barely a centimeter.

“Ouch.” Viperion commented, “now I really feel sorry for her, and you too I guess.”

“Why?” Chat Noir tilted his head at Viperion in a very cat like way.

“Let’s just say that you’re being a bit blunt. Now, I can’t tell you about your crush because you haven’t actually said who she is, although I COULD guess.” Viperion rolled his eyes, “I’ll just nudge you along I suppose, so tell me, does she act the same way around you as other boys?”

Chat Noir measured what he should say but then told him warily, “not really. The pretty girl, she ah, she used to stammer around me a lot but she still helped me out when she could and got me little snacks every now and then, usually enough to share with our whole group. Ma, I mean she,” Viperion looked out across Paris at the slip with a blank look on his face, “she always seemed like she didn’t like being around me.” Chat Noir admitted, his ears drooping. “I’ve tried to be a good friend, but then there was that accidental kiss and now, now she avoids me.”

“Since the ‘accident’?” Viperion clarified sullenly.

“Well, yeah. When I asked our friends why she was avoiding me, it seemed like she had this excuse that she’s just really busy and she’s told our friends that we’re still friends but well, it … it just doesn’t seem like it.” He looked really sad. “At least not like before. I mean, she hasn’t brought me a little treat when she knew I had a busy day for a long time and most of my days are busy, but she, she hasn’t done that in a while.”

Viperion sighed as he brought up his knee and leaned on it. “Is this girl always honest with you?”

“Why would she lie? She’s one of the most trustworthy people I know.” Char Noir answered defensively. “Besides, that’s one thing that she has in common with my Lady, they both hate liars.”

“You may have a point, but there is a difference between being a liar, telling the truth and lying to protect someone or even your own feelings.” Viperion pointed out. “The latter means that you can still lie and be trustworthy sometimes, if you’re doing it for a reason. I mean, if someone asked you as your other self if you were Chat Noir, what would you say?”

“I’d ask them why they thought that.” Chat Noir replied easily.

“You’d avoid the question you mean.” Viperion pointed out.

Chat Noir gave a small nod as he rubbed the back of his neck, “I see what you mean.”

Viperion glanced at him, “now, here is the big question for you Adrien.” Chat Noir gave him a look, like ‘don’t use the real name’ newbie.

“Go on.” Chat Noir encouraged him with a stern voice.

Viperion looked like it pained him to ask, “when this accidental kiss happened, are you sure that she was joking in the moment? Did she seem like she was acting like herself? With some girls, uh, with some girls, actions speak louder than words.”

Chat Noir looked thoughtful as Viperion added as he looked across the city again, “look, I confessed to a wonderful girl as myself some time ago.”

“Was, was it Ladybug? Did, did she reject you too?”

“She’s the girl that turned out to be Ladybug,” Viperion shrugged and chuckled, “so I guess I did confess to Ladybug, but I confessed to my Ma – to my Melody, not the superhero.” He smiled wistfully, “I don’t think I’ll ever get used to that. Anyway, she was shocked by my confession and her blush was beautiful. The thing is, I was too afraid of being rejected to ask her out, because I knew she had a crush on another guy.”

“Her crush?”

Viperion’s heart ached, but he didn’t want to lie. “Her whole class knows about it, except for the blind idiot that she cried her eyes out over tonight.”

“Umm, wait. Didn’t you say that either I’m the blind idiot or the one that she was crying her eyes out over? Which one is it?” Chat Noir asked frankly, still completely confused.

“What do you think your little crush would say?” Viperion asked him with a raised eyebrow.

Adrien thought about it, “knowing her, she’d jumble her words, say that I was, but I wasn’t and then change the topic. That’s not exactly an answer.”

“That’s avoiding the question isn’t it? Why would she avoid answering your questions cat?” Viperion pressed unwillingly and gave him a sour look.

Chapter Text

Viperion had just asked why Chat Noir’s pretty little crush would be avoiding him when he was trying to clarify something…

“Well, she… she doesn’t like me?” Chat Noir asked uncertainly, “she keeps trying to be nice to me though, or at least she did.” His ears showed his confusion and hurt, “but that doesn’t make sense. If she didn’t like me, why was she always be trying to be such a good friend to me?” Chat Noir sighed, “or at least she used to go out of her way to do things like that.”

Viperion didn’t look happy at all as he asked, “is… is that all that she really is to you?”

“Well, yeah,” Chat Noir shrugged, “she’s a very good friend. I told you that, besides, I love Ladybug.”

Viperion shook his head at Chat Noir, “you know, I don’t know whether to be jealous of you, pity you or if I should just knock you on the side of your head. You’re just not getting it are you?”

“Getting what? My friend, that I may or may not have an itty-bitty little crush on,” Chat wagged his finger at Viperion to make his point, “ she said that she likes me, but then she said that she doesn’t and then she has been acting really strange around me or she avoids me. How am I supposed to interpret that?”

Viperion sighed and rolled his eyes, “again, does she act strangely around other people?”

“How would I know? Whenever she sees that I’m in the room she used to get all weird! She seemed fine, brilliant even when I’m not around or even when she forgot that I was there, but now… now she seems to just try to avoid me.”

“Heaven help me.” Viperion muttered before he pointed out to the cat themed hero, “you know that’s a sign right?”

“Yeah, a sign that she doesn’t like me!” Chat Noir argued with a pout as he looked down and fiddled with his claws, “and I, I really miss her.”

“Wait, hold up.” Viperion told him as he held up his hand to stop him from going on. “let me just get this straight, before all of this she used to act strangely around you?”

Chat Noir nodded as Viperion went on, “but she still seemed to like being around you enough to keep coming back to be around you, liked she used to do nice things for you?” Another nod.

Viperion blinked at him, “and you still think that she didn’t like you?” He looked at the cat incredulously.

“Well, she likes me as a model.” Chat Noir waved his hand around before folding his arms, “I mean, she loves fashion and my father’s designs.” He smiled wistfully, “she has like a whole wall of me modeling his stuff on her wall, but I don’t know how she feels about me personally,” then he added pitifully, “especially now.”

“I can’t believe I’m going to say this,” Viperion muttered as he ran his hand through his hair, “but have you ever seen her design outfits or things like your father has designed for you?”

“Well, no. She’s made a hat, sunglasses, t-shirts, oh and an album cover!” Chat Noir happily listed off Marinette’s accomplishments. “Oh, and she also makes her own clothes! Wait, oh no.” Adrien looked over at the other hero who had folded his arms and was giving him a look with a raised eyebrow, “you’ve figured her out too?”

“It wasn’t hard.” Viperion snorted as he looked annoyed as he shook his head, “anyhow, what does that tell you, hmm? Our pretty little designer says that she likes your father’s designs, but she only seems to focus on what he has YOU model. He does have other models, right?”

Viperion tried to lead Adrien to the truth because this was just so messed up and a part of him felt sorry for the boy.

I am getting so tired of this conversation. Luka thought painfully. I don’t know if Marinette would want this, but somebody has to do it before he figures it out himself and then makes her hurt even more by trying to force his ‘friendship’ on her before she’s ready for it.

“Well, yeah, but that’s why I’m asking you?” Chat Noir raised an eyebrow quizzically, “she’s a really confusing girl. Adorable and amazing, but confusing.”

Viperion looked at him sternly and shook his head at him again. “Adrien, you are unbelievable and I’m getting a headache.”

Why me? Wouldn’t it be in my own best interest to just… leave things be?

Chat Noir looked annoyed at him before he decided to shrug whatever was bothering him off as he offered weakly, “well, it is getting late.”

“It’s not that.” Viperion waved that idea off and rubbed the bridge of his nose, “I’ve tried to nudge you along, but you’re just so dense Adrien.”

“Hey! I can’t help not understanding whatever this is and she’s not making it easy! Plus, don’t use my name if I can’t use yours.” Adrien attempted a scowl, but it just made him look like he had just tasted some sour milk.

“I can’t tell you my name even if I wanted to,” the new hero huffed, “you might figure out uh, Ladybug’s name that way, and she trusts me not to tell you.” Viperion told him bluntly. “Which is why you’re not getting that little detail from me until she tells me otherwise.”

“I know and that’s not fair!” Chat Noir protested as he looked at Viperion almost tearfully as he stood up and demanded, “why did she tell you before she told me!”

“I already told you. She DIDN’T tell me. I figured it out. She doesn’t hide it well, not…” Viperion looked away as he gave the only explanation that he could, “not when you love her.”

“I DO love her!” Chat Noir insisted.

Viperion stood up and glared down at the younger man and told him sternly. “No. You love the hero! The mask. The best of herself that she allows to be seen as Ladybug. She hides some of the best parts of her with that mask!” Chat Noir looked surprised at how strongly Viperion spouted his words fiercely, “you don’t know her fears cat, you don’t know about the bullies that come after her and how she does her best to deal with them. Or, or how she’s so brilliantly amazing every day in every single thing that she puts her mind to or even the name of her idiotic crush and finally, you don’t even know her real name!”

“That’s not fair!” Chat Noir insisted.

Viperion smirked as he gave him a look and bowed mockingly, “Life isn’t fair. Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who tells you differently is selling something.” (Author’s note: Obligatory quote from the movie, The Princess Bride, it’s a great movie!)

Chat Noir just glared at him.

“Look, if you have a problem, it’s best to own it.” Viperion exhaled with a final breath of frustration before taking on his kinder toner, “look, your love for Ladybug is clouding what you see again. I think you might be leaving out one thing here. When you talked with this pretty crush of yours, what EXACTLY did you say? Context can be everything here.”

Chat Noir folded his arms and his eyes darted from side to side as he thought about it. “Well, just what I told you the first time. I played a prank on her and it almost sounded like she may have confessed to me, not thinking that it was me and then she tried to kiss me, umm, not knowing that it was me?” His voice changed a little as he realized that it didn’t sound very good at all, like he had tried to trick her maybe, but he knew that wasn’t the case, so he cleared his throat and went on despite how badly it sounded.

“Anyway, I jumped away from her just as our lips touched and then she was upset. I told her that I don’t know how to be a good friend but we were interrupted by an akuma attack. Then, uh, later on we talked again and she apologized for kissing me and I apologized for pranking her because Ladybug has told me before that I joke around too much.”

“Wait, back up. You told her that Ladybug told you that?” Viperion raised an eyebrow at him.

“Well no, just that the girl I love said that.” Chat Noir answered flippantly. “No one would believe me if I told them I knew Ladybug well enough for her to tell me that.”

“Ah. So that’s what happened.” Viperion concluded as he shook his head.

“Huh?” Chat Noir raised an eyebrow at the other young man.

“That was the nail in the coffin Chat Noir.”

“Nail in… in the coffin?”

“It means that it was the final act that convinced her of something, something that was devastating to her, an ending of some kind.”

“E-ending?” Chat Noir echoed with a worried look on his face. “What do you mean?”

“I guess you would need it have it explained to you huh?” Viperion looked disappointed, “was she,” Viperion cleared his throat and chanced it, “was Marinette really sad and hurt after you said that? Did her whole attitude change?”

“So, you do know her.” Chat Noir gulped but then nodded with a stricken look on his face, “h-how did you know that was what happened? She… she looked like I’d kicked her actually.”

Viperion rolled his eyes, “I hate to break it to you, but emotionally, you probably did without even knowing it.” Chat Noir looked heartbroken as his ears laid flat on his head in dismay.

“Look, you rejected her when you jumped away from her kiss.” Viperion lifted one finger to count up his crimes, “then you told her you were playing a prank on her, as if how she felt or what she did in practicing to confess to you was a joke,” a second finger was raised.

“Practice?” Adrien gulped.

“Probably, you did say that she didn’t realize that you were you.” Viperion shrugged one shoulder dismissively like it was obvious before continuing as Adrien just looked haunted, “then you rejected her again by saying there was a girl that you love, rubbing salt in the open wounds of her heart.” A third finger joined the other two and then a fourth joined them. “Which to her would be an insult to her personally, because if you are friends, she would think that she would know if you were ‘in love’ with someone. It’s like you invented Ladybug because Marinette isn’t good enough for you! So, I guess that might make five reasons you turned her down without actually saying the words.”

“Really?” Adrien asked in a small and quiet voice.

Viperion flung his hands up in the air in frustration. “No wonder the girl is treating you differently!”

Chat Noir looked like he was processing this information, “wait, wait, I rejected her? But she said it was a joke! That she didn’t mean it! She’s not interested in me like that!”

“Was this after you jumped away from her kiss and surprised her?” Viperion asked him in disbelief, “because the way that you explain it, she only said that to cover her tracks.”

Chat Noir was upset now, “what? No! I mean, when we talked it over afterwards, she said that it was a joke!”

“After you told her you were playing a prank on her.” Viperion deadpanned. “some people, girls especially, don’t like to be made fun of, especially when it comes to their feelings. She was probably trying to save face, make it look like she wasn’t hurt for YOUR benefit and a little bit of her own. I can only imagine how humiliated she was.” He looked up at the sky, “how do I explain this?”

“It… it can’t be.” Chat Noir sputtered.

Viperion nodded to himself, “alright. Let’s try it this way, now how would you feel if Ladybug walked up to you, wrapped her arms around you, whispered sweet nothings into your ear and then kissed you…”

Chat Noir was grinning wistfully as he began to daydream.

Viperion snapped his fingers in front of Chat’s face to get this attention, “and then Ladybug jumps away and said, ‘gotcha! It was a joke Chat and you fell for it!’ Ha ha ha!” Viperion frowned a little as he almost growled, “I bet you’d be devastated.”

Chat Noir’s eyes grew to an enormous size. “I would be, but…but Ladybug would never do that to me! She’d only kiss me if it was an emergency, or… or if she meant it.”

Viperion sighed, “I think you’re missing the point. We’re talking about that pretty girl remember? Your friend? The girl that you only feel this much for.” Viperion held up his hand and showed a tiny little space between his fingers. “That you only feel like she has that much value TO YOU.”

Adrien looked shocked, “th-that’s not what I meant!”

“It’s what your actions were saying.” Luka tried to get his point across again, “now imagine for me that this girl likes you, as much as you like Ladybug.”

Chat Noir’s eyes grew big at that suggestion as Viperion continued with the irritation loud and clear in his voice, “and then… and then you pull this prank, that you could have stopped at any time but instead you waited until she would be utterly humiliated as you jump away from her kiss. She’s hurt and embarrassed now. Then later you tell her about your so called ‘love.’ Now, I’m guessing that she doesn’t know that you know Ladybug personally and that you love her?” He asked Adrien with a scrutinizing look.

Chat Noir swallows and shakes his head. “I can’t tell anyone that I love her, they’d think I was crazy.”

“Alright, so follow me here. Now it almost sounds like you invented a girlfriend to reject this ‘pretty girl’ or little crush or whatever. No girl wants to hear that there is no way that you’d think of them that way because you went out of your way to say that she’s not what you want without saying it in SO many ways!”

Chat Noir was shocked to say the least as he so eloquently muttered, “I hurt Ma-Marientte?”

Chapter Text

Chat Noir muttered, “I hurt Ma-Marientte?”

Chat gulped as Viperion again listed off some of those reasons that it looked like he was rejecting Marinette at the museum irritably. “Yes, you hurt Marinette. You’ve rejected her by thinking that it would be a good idea to prank her, by not calling off the prank until you embarrassed her, by jumping away from her kiss and then by mentioning the ‘girl’ that you love. I mean, it would be like you’re rejecting her and to top it off you have to let her know that she is SO unattractive that it looks like you had to invent a girl indirectly to be in love with to just get Marinette to get the picture, which she already understood, just to get her to leave you alone! Which guess what? It seems like that is what she’s DOING by avoiding you!”

“I-I didn’t mean any of that! Does-does that mean that I-I really hurt her?” Chat Noir looked at the other hero in disbelief, “but she said that she was okay, that it was just a joke! Like mine was!”

“Yeah, but was it a joke to her, really? Would it have been a joke to you or on you if Ladybug had done the same to you?”

Chat Noir swallowed before he muttered, “maybe… maybe it wasn’t a joke to her?”

“Bingo.” Viperion sighed, “just for a little more context here. Did she look happy or was she trying to look happy after all of this was done? I mean, did she still seem nervous and then sad or hurt afterwards?”

Chat Noir looked at his feet and let his arms droop. “Nervous and sad.” He blinked and looked disappointed in himself as he looked to the side before looking up at the older boy, “and… and hurt. Do you really think that I hurt her without meaning to?”

Viperion blinked at him and shook his head slightly, “what do you think cat? Because it really doesn’t matter what I think.”

Chat Noir groaned. “I think… I think that I may have accidentally hurt her, but…but I didn’t mean to.” Chat Noir clenched one hand and pounded it into his other hand resolutely, “well then, I’ll just have to apologize to her and fix it! Then we can be friends again!”

“Wait.” Viperion held up his hand. “Stop. You are forgetting two things here. First, did this happen yesterday?”

“No, it’s been awhile actually.” Chat Noir admitted, “a couple weeks maybe? That doesn’t matter though, a good apology will fix everything and it well, it really hurts to think that she’s upset with me. I want my friend back Viperion.”

“Look, it doesn’t sound like she’s upset with you but at herself at this point.” Viperion pointed out, “she says she’s still your friend but avoids you right?”

Adrien nodded as he tried to follow as Viperion went on, “and that brings us to my second point. She’s probably still hurting but can’t say anything about it. She’s doubting herself and her attractiveness and such.”

“Marinette is gorgeous and she probably could do anything that she wanted to!” Chat Noir told the snake defensively.

“Chat Noir, look, you’ve clearly put her in the friendzone.” Chat Noir’s eyes widened with shock as Viperion calmly continued, “so unless you want to confess to this girl and let her know that you’ve finally figured out that you love her as more than ‘just a friend’ and that you want to ask her out on a date, then maybe you should just leave her alone to deal with her heartbreak.”

“Heartbreak? Wait! NO! I-I didn’t want to hurt her! I didn’t mean to hurt her!” Adrien quickly objected.

“It sounds like she realizes that.” Viperion wisely pointed out, “she must have figured that out pretty quickly to have hidden all of this from you,” he rolled his eyes as he subtly added, “not that it would be hard to with how oblivious you are.”

“Hey!”

“Own it Adrien.”

Chat Noir growled at him.

“I’m only speaking the truth here,” Viperion waved his hand, “because otherwise she would have told you to leave her alone and that she never wanted to see you again. Which is usually what will happen after a bad break up or heartbreak like that.”

“We were never together like that though!” Chat Noir objected. “She’s just my really good friend!”

“R-Remember what I said. Do you want to be?” Viperion coughed once before he asked painfully. “Together. With her I mean?”

Chat Noir swallowed and looked away as he answered plaintively, “n-not like that. I-I love Ladybug.”

Viperion nodded, “then that settles it. Your little crush cares enough about you to not want to hurt you, so please, do her the service of doing the same.” He sighed, “what I mean is that she thinks that you don’t know how she feels. It would probably be better to let her move on. She’ll probably truly be ‘just your friend’ when she’s ready.”

“I-I miss her though.” Chat Noir admitted as his eyes grew wet, but he was determined not to cry in front of Viperion. “She’s a… a really good friend, or she was, to me. I, I don’t want to lose that.”

Viperion put a hand on Chat Noir’s shoulder supportively. “Honestly, it probably won’t be like it was before, like, ever.”

“Ever?” Adrien looked heartbroken himself now, but he wasn’t sure why.

Viperion nodded, “remember, she used to treat you like she loved you, like she was trying to woo you and she has to stop doing that for her own sake, maybe find a guy that appreciates her for well, her.”

“I appreciated everything she does for me, or… or that she did.” Chat Noir’s ears were twitching, screaming his disappointment that he can’t make things go back to how they once were.

“Cat, she’s got to learn to be ‘just’ your friend. She’ll heal faster if you leave her alone and let the knowledge that you don’t see her in a romantic way sink in.” Viperion swallowed, “look, Marinette obviously is easily embarrassed when it comes to you because she likes you and she’ll probably avoid you longer if she finds out that you know that she liked you like that, maybe even loved you.”

“You, you think that she loved me?” Chat Noir asked with wide eyes.

“Possibly. Why else would she let you go and not fight for you when you’re in love with another? She’d,” Viperion avoided his gaze and swallowed as his own eyes teared up, “she’d want you to be happy if she’s not what you want, or do you think that she would be petty about it? Put her feelings above your own and demand that you date her or else? That’s not love Adrien, that’s being possessive and cruel.”

Chat Noir sighed, “no, if she does, err, did like me or love me like that, she… she’s never told me and now that she knows that I love someone else…” Adrien sighed again as he rubbed the back of his neck in misery. “Or even if she thinks that I’ve invented a girl that I love, to turn her down without really meaning to turn her down, well, y-yeah. I can see that she might want me to be happy like that.”

“She might…?” Viperion prodded.

“Well, I think that she would hope that I was being honest and that she would want me to be with them.” Adrien remembered when they had gone skating at the ice rink. Marinette was so supportive, but… but sad for some reason. It made sense. She liked him, as more than a friend, and he’d asked her how to ask out Kagami!

Then she brought Luka and he couldn’t take his eyes off of her or how Luka seemed to care about her. Why did that bother him? Then or now?

Chat Noir felt his eyes tearing up. “Ugh! I’ve been such a jerk to her! I even asked her for dating advice when I tried to get over Milady once, but I-I just couldn’t do it and I didn’t mean to hurt her though. I really should still apologize.”

“Now YOU’RE being petty.” Viperion scolded.

“What?” Chat Noir looked shocked.

“Do you really want to apologize to help HER feel better, or do you want to do it to make yourself feel better? Because if it’s the latter, you are being selfish. She’s trying to respect your feelings and you would be rubbing it into her face again that she’s not enough for you by reminding her of all of this, plus embarrassing her by mentioning it.”

“That’s not fair! I loved Ladybug before I noticed her!” Chat Noir defended, “and I never said that she wasn’t enough, Ladybug is the one that I love!”

“I already told you, life isn’t fair and apologizing will only open up her wounds.” Viperion scolded again, “you have no reason to feel guilty about her feelings or for your own. She can’t make you love her and you can’t make her unlove you.”

Viperion took a breath and tried to calmly explain. “Your little crush has to make the choice to move on Chat Noir. If you care about her, which I think that you do but not enough to return her feelings. So please, let her make this less difficult for her and let her move on.”

Chat Noir shook his head, “I don’t want her out of my life though.”

“Ugh, how do I explain this? It sounds like she’s taking a breather, but ought to come back as your friend to some degree from the looks of things, why can’t you understand that?” Viperion folded his arms in frustration, “and if Marinette is only ‘your friend’, it would be appropriate to let her make her own choice and respect that. Marinette is respecting your love for your mystery girl and your obvious distaste of the idea that she could ever be something more, which means that you should do the same for her.”

Chat Noir frowned at him, “it’s not that I don’t like the idea of… of being more than a friend with Marinette, but Ladybug has that place in my heart already. Didn’t I already say that?”

“I know that and now she knows that.” Viperion pointed out harshly before he took a breath and attempted to explain, “even though it hurts her. She needs time to adjust. So maybe it’s time to let go of your little itty bitty crush and let her move on, it’s what she’s trying to do for you after all.”

“You make it sound so easy.” Chat Noir shook his head, “but it’s not, and… and it, it just feels wrong not to apologize.”

“If it comes up, apologize for the prank and for letting it go on for too long, but if it doesn’t, don’t bring it up.” Viperion advised calmly, “you don’t have to apologize for not loving her the way she wanted you to, especially since that will let her know that you now know about her feelings, which obviously she didn’t want to bring up since she now knows that it’s useless.”

“Wanted to, ugh.” Chat Noir scoffed. “It sounds awful that way, like she won’t care about me anymore if I don’t love her the way she wants, that’s just typical.”

“And that’s hypocritical.” Viperion continued for him as he rolled his eyes at the irony. “Since obviously you haven’t moved on or given up on Ladybug like she has asked you to on the news, because she’s interested in someone else.”

“It’s not the same. I’ve told Ladybug how I feel about her!”

“Now listen you… you stubborn cat, Marinette is trying to not care about you so much that it hurts her. She has been loving you from afar and frankly, not confessing to you so you could have the opportunity to let her down gently has already hurt her. That was her fault true, but she gets that, but you’ve got to admit it’s very similar. You can’t take away the hurt that Marinette is feeling right now. She’s staying away at the moment to heal her heart and to build a better and healthier boundary between you and to learn how to hope that there is someone else out there worthy of her. That’s how she’s handling your not so subtle and numerous rejections. Can’t you see that?”

“I don’t want her to push me away though, I don’t want her to leave me.” Chat Noir looked at him with wide eyes and pouted, “since she is staying away from me, does… does that mean that she will stop caring about me completely?”

“From the sounds of things, she wants to be your friend and she just needs time to figure out what that means. You have to let go of the idea that it’ll ever be the same between you. I mean, come on, without you knowing it, she was showing you that she loved you before and now she’s doing it again by leaving you to your mystery woman and trying to move on, isn’t she?”

“M-maybe. I don’t know what to do about all of this though, she, she seemed to like, err, maybe even love me so much the way you explain it. It’s just, I don’t understand why?”

Viperion chuckled, “I think that the best answer there is why not? You’d have to ask her, but I think that would be a bad idea right now since you can’t point out that you know about her feelings. If you love her a little bit, it probably means more to her for you to love her the way that she loves you and try not to say anything. I mean, real love isn’t easy,” Viperion winked at Chat and shot him a finger gun, “but it’s worth it.”

“Yeah.” Chat Noir looked sad as he agreed. “I just wish it wasn’t so confusing.”

“I’d definitely have to agree with that.”

They were quiet for a minute, looking out at Paris as they let everything sink in, before Viperion stretched like he was getting ready to leave.

“Well then.” Viperion wiped his hands of the matter, “it sounds like you’re going to have to leave your little crush to do her own thing now and hope that she comes back as your friend, as you continue to go after Ladybug that is. Am I right?”

Chat Noir only nodded once and weakly answered. “Y-yeah, because I, I love Ladybug.”

Viperion frowned and pointed out, “you know, you say that a lot, but saying it won’t make it so that she loves back, you know that, right?”

“I know, but I’m not giving up.” Chat Noir told him defiantly. “I love her too much to let go!”

Viperion shook his head, “it’s like we haven’t even had this conversation huh?”

“What do you mean?” Chat Noir raised his eyebrow at him quizzically.

Viperion sighed, “I mean I’ve done all that I can tonight. I’m a mere mortal after all and I guess that means that it’s only fair that I warn you. Sometime in the near future, you may have some competition.”

“Huh?”

“I’m going back to the reason why I came out tonight and I’m letting you know that I’ll wait until the pretty girl who is under Ladybug’s mask is ready, but when she is, I intend to ask her out on a date.”

“But… but, that’s not fair!” Chat Noir objected, “she won’t date me!”

Viperion nodded, “because of the masks, I know. Now I’ll let you know that I’ve wanted to date her since I met her civilian side and now that Mr. Oblivious will likely no longer be her focus, I might have a chance.”

Chat Noir pouted, “but it’s not fair, I want a chance to ask her out too!”

“I’m just being honest with you. You know enough to figure out Ladybug’s identity, you just can’t because you’re so focused on the mask.” Viperion looked out across the city. “I will tell you one thing though just in an attempt to be fair, as long as you’re focused on the hero, you’ll never see the girl behind it. She has faults Chat Noir, she’s not perfect, close but not quite.” Viperion finished as he chuckled, “so I guess I’m just being a gentleman and telling you to get ready for some competition.”

“Viperion, look, I know that she’s not perfect, but she’s perfect for me and I know that she’ll choose me!” Chat Noir insisted, “I’ve loved her since she put on that mask! If anyone has a right to ask her out, I do!”

“I never said that you couldn’t. It’s Ladybug’s choice, and if anything, I have loved her before I knew that she wore her mask.” Viperion told him resolutely as he gave his competitor a two-finger salute. “Now that a certain blind idiot has turned her down, she’s going to need someone someday that truly loves her and who knows,” he shrugged and grinned, “maybe she’ll give us each a chance when that time comes.” He chuckled, “I’m just telling you that right now because I doubt that we’ll be seeing each other often like this, so may the best man win.”

“I will! I’ll ask her out too.”

Viperion laughed lightly and shook his head like he didn’t believe Ladybug would accept, which infuriated the black cat.

“Whatever Chat Noir, I’ll see you later!” Which was when Viperion jumped to the next roof over and began to run away.

Chat Noir scowled at his disappearing form and almost yelled, “I don’t care what you think, she’ll choose me! We’re meant to be! I know it!” Then he frowned and whispered worriedly a moment later, “right?”

Chapter Text

For Adrien, he woke up a few hours after going to bed, after Plagg refused to talk to him about the situation with Marinette or Ladybug late last night. Having grown used to only about four hours of sleep each night, he was rested for the day, for the most part.

To Plagg’s irritation, Adrien brought up the topic about Marinette again when he woke up his kwami as he got ready for the day.

“Plagg, I’ve thought about it and now that I know that Marinette likes me, I really should apologize to her so we can be friends again.” Adrien announced with a grin.

To which the very irritated kwami answered snarkily, “she ‘liked’ you like that Kid. Didn’t you hear that she’s working on doing what you want her to do and just be your friend? It can’t be the same anymore. Fu, you need to grow up and for Miraculous sake listen to the snake, he wasn’t lying. Give the girls some space!”

“Plagg, I don’t want to ignore Marinette!” Adrien pouted, “I’ve done enough of that already! I want to apologize for hurting her, I didn’t know that I hurt her like that. If I apologize then maybe we can move on and be friends again.”

“Humpf.”  Plagg grunted. “If you had been listening, really listening, you’d know that you’re being selfish about this, for camembert’s sake just let the girl move on!”

“I just wish I didn’t have this photoshoot all day,” Adrien said distractedly as he took out some cheese and tossed it to Plagg, ignoring what he had said since he would usually only be complaining about his cheese by now anyway. “Then I could go and see her or… or at least I could give her a call.” Adrien suggested randomly before he went into his closet to find his clothes for the day.

“Don’t bother, your battery will be dead.” Plagg muttered, “I’ll open so many apps and games that you won’t be able to bother her or… or Tikki.” The kwami looked really irritated about all of this, then sad all of a sudden. It wasn’t easy to have a chosen so focused that he was blind to what was under his own nose after all.

“What was that Plagg?” Adrien asked as he came out of his closet with his clothes. “I mean, do you really think that it’s too early to call Marinette?”

“Ugh Kid!” Plagg groaned in frustration, “just let the girl go.” Then he saw the look on Adrien’s face as he pouted like a kicked kitten and gave his kwami kitten eyes. Plagg rolled his eyes at that as he said, “alright, alright, fine. Give her say, a week, if she doesn’t start acting less crazy, then talk to her,” he waved his paw dramatically at Adrien, “only if you absolutely must! Remember, I’m the embodiment of destruction and bad luck and it means something when even I think that talking to her about her old feelings about you is a bad idea.”

“Sheesh Plagg, you make it sound like I’m easy to get over or something.” Adrien joked as he went to get dressed in his bathroom. “If she really loved me, how could she let me go so easily?” His voice echoed through the now closed door.

Plagg rolled his eyes again as he mumbled sarcastically, “with great difficulty and a lot of heartache obviously, especially since it’s what YOU want. It’s obvious that’s what she’ll do, FOR YOU.” Then Plagg sighed, “oh Tikki, why me?”

Adrien came out of his bathroom, “what did you say?”

Plagg looked at him seriously, knowing how scatterbrained the boy was when he woke up. Then he sighed and went against all of his natural instincts as he told his chosen frankly, “Adrien, not everyone shows love the same way. You love Ladybug and won’t let her go. I love Camembert and I’m never giving it up either, unless someone miraculously invents a more fragrant cheese.” Then after he sighed dreamily, Plagg shook his head and he folded his arm stubs as he went on, “Tikki, on the other hand, loves cookies but she’ll try other foods because it makes her remember how much she loves cookies. My Sugarcube is sweet like that.” Plagg looked off to the side bashfully for a moment. “I know better.”

“Alright, well, what should I do about my girl problems then?”

Plagg groaned, “look I’m no expert, but Pigtails seems to want to do what her ‘crush’ seems to want her to do, and that’s to let him go. Even if it hurts her.”

Adrien only huffed as he tried to tame his hair, not picking up that Plagg was talking about both of the Pigtailed girls in the boy’s life, who just so happened to be the same girl.

Plagg thought about the irony, how their fights with akuma resulted with Adrien sacrificing himself for Ladybug relatively often and how now Tikki’s charge was trying to do the same for Adrien, only with her heart.  He rolled his eyes as he told Adrien, “you know, it’s pretty self-sacrificing thing to do and really ironic that way too.”

“I don’t see what you’re talking about.” Adrien commented, “Tikki. Where have I heard that before? Wait, that’s Ladybug’s kwami right?” Adrien asked, distracted once again, “wait a minute, you mean that kwami can eat other foods beside their favorite’s and you make me carry around that stinky cheese all day?!”

“Focus kid, I don’t judge you for liking girls, when cheese is far better, bar none.”

Adrien shook his head and went to brush his teeth, “Plagg, you don’t know what you’re missing. Look, I tell you what, I’ll give Marinette a few more days and if she doesn’t come back, well, I’ll go to her. I don’t want to lose her friendship.”

“Why me?” Plagg groaned as he turned to the wall and told it, “you’d probably agree with me by now.”

“What was that?” Adrien called again from the bathroom.

“Nothing!” Plagg rolled his eyes before he went to find more Camembert for breakfast. He really didn’t want to deal with Adrien’s attitude on top of an empty stomach later in the day after all.

“Maybe I can eat enough to put myself into a good Cheese coma and all of this drama will be done.” Plagg shook his head as he found another wheel of his favorite meal and ate it whole, hoping that Adrien wouldn’t see him gorge himself again, he really didn’t want to have to deal with the boy’s attitude and self-righteous judgement.

“Plagg!”

Whoops, Plagg thought, guess Tikki’s good luck isn’t on my side today.

Since it was also a day off from school, Marinette had been allowed to sleep in, at least until her Maman decided to wake her up for brunch around 10:00AM.

“Wake up Marinette dear!” Sabine called to her daughter, “it’s almost time for brunch!”

Marinette yawned and stretched as she felt better than she had in weeks, like the weight of her heartbreak had diminished somewhat. She rubbed her eyes and realized though that she felt gross still since she desperately needed a shower and her eyes were raw from crying so much.

She tried to call out to her mother, but she discovered that her voice was rough today too, “I-I’m getting up Maman!”

Hearing Marinette’s odd tone of voice, Sabine knocked on Marinette’s trapdoor and peeked inside, only to see Marinette coming down her stairs with red eyes and dried tear streaks down her cheeks. “Oh my! Are you alright dear? Let me take brunch off the stove and we can talk sweetheart.”

Marinette walked over, bent down and hugged her Mother. “Don’t worry Maman, I’m okay. Better than I’ve been in a while actually,” she added sheepishly, “I just finally had a really good and long overdue cry last night.”

Marinette then glanced up at her still mostly bare walls that had once boasted far too many pictures of Adrien Agreste. “I think today will be a good day to start putting up those new fashion designs and photos that I’ve found. I’ll be fine now, really Maman, I’m sure of it..”

Her mother patted her back, understanding that her daughter had finally started to move on from a certain blond. “If you say so dear, but please remember that I’m here for you too. I’ll work on brunch then while you go and get cleaned up Sweetheart.”

Marinette nodded and twenty minutes later, a freshly showered Marinette was wearing clothes that were ideal for relaxing around the house came down to eat. Her hair was down to let it dry and she was wearing an old pair of yoga pants, fuzzy socks and an early prototype for a Jagged Stone t-shirt design that she had made and had rejected for something more rock n’ roll. While Jagged had liked it, he was thrilled with the final design, which would be getting released for his next tour of Europe at all of his concerts, initially after all. She’d be making a tidy sum off of that.

Small accomplishments like that had helped Marinette get through her days at least partially of late, no matter how much her friends pulled away from her, or how much I pulled away from them. She internally chided. I know that I’m a talented and amazing girl, not matter how much a boy feels about me.

Besides, I’m still Marinette Dupain-Cheng and I’m not going to think about that today. Marinette told herself with a confidence that she had begun to fear that she had lost.

There was a knock at their door, “I’ll get it!” Marinette offered as she went to answer it.

“Luka!” She exclaimed when she saw their visitor.

Luka smiled at her genuinely as he took in what she was wearing and the small grin that she was now sporting too. Unable to help himself, he looked off to the side and blushed slightly. “You look really nice today,” then he looked back at her and smirked slightly and teased, “Ma-Ma-Marinette.”

“Oh this? Uh, thanks. I made the shirt myself.” Marinette grinned at him and then turned to call back to her parents, “Maman can Luka join us?”

“Oh, I wouldn’t want to intrude.” Luka tried to get out of it, but Marinette wouldn’t allow it.

“I won’t take no for an answer Luka, unless you’re busy. So uh, are you busy today?” Marinette asked him as her mother called back to them that they were already setting up a place for him at the table. “I don’t want to mess up your plans.”

Luka shook his head, “I was just going to practice at home today, until this evening that is.” Then he smiled wider as he shared, “I’ve got another gig tryout at 4:00pm.”

“Really? Congratulations! I always knew that you’d hit it big.”

Luka chuckled, “it’s just as a backup for a small local band on the weekends, but thanks.” He sighed and gazed at her before admitting. “Still, I wanted to stop by to check on you.” Then he leaned closer to her and whispered hesitantly, “and I thought you mentioned something about needing to return a certain something?”

Marinette grinned and nodded, “well, that can wait until after we eat. You wouldn’t want to disappoint my parents now, would you?”

Luka shook his head and answered, “heaven forbid, besides who could say no to your families’ cooking?”

Marinette nodded at him and took his hand, pulling him inside with the door just missing his guitar as it closed behind them. Marinette quickly turned towards Luka and admitted shyly, “I just want to put this out there, I apologize for whatever they are about to say or do to embarrass me.”

Luka chuckled softly, “that just means that they care about you.”

“Well, sometimes I wish that they didn’t care so much.” Marinette rolled her eyes and then shrugged, “still, you’ve been warned. Want to put your guitar in my room for now?”

Luka nodded, “sure.”

After brunch and far too many intrusive questions for Luka, not that he minded, it was as if he had passed some course in pleasing a girl’s parents and her parents seemed to really like him now. It was almost like Luka could do no wrong, although he would probably disagree with you on that.

Tom and Sabine finally decided that they would do the dishes together so that Luka could play a song for Marinette that he had mentioned having finished over brunch.

The two teenagers were also warned no funny business while they were alone in her room.

Luka responded well to that too as he told Tom, “Sir, I would never disrespect Marinette that way. I care about her and right now, unfortunately well, we only have a respectful and friendly relationship.”

The ‘for now’ part of that was left unsaid, as Marinette looked away and blushed nervously, but Tom nodded approvingly as Sabine invited Luka back for their next scheduled family brunch the next weekend. Apparently, it was a tradition.

Luka glanced at Marinette’s face and could see how uncomfortable she seemed to be at her parent’s matchmaking overtures. “Maybe another time.” Luka told her parents. “Marinette can tell me what works best for her.”

“How sweet of you dear.” Sabine observed. “I’ll remind her another time.”

Luka nodded and smiled, “I’d like that.”

Tom grinned with approval again, “well, our door is always open and you’re welcome to join us for a meal whenever you’re available.”

“Thank you, Sir.” Luka told him earnestly, “I’d like to go play that song for Marinette now.”

“Go right ahead Dear.” Sabine told Luka as Marinette led him to her room and closed the trapdoor behind them.

Luka picked up his guitar and settled himself on her chaise, leaving just enough room for her to sit at the foot of it beside him.

“So, uh, how are you feeling?” Luka asked almost hesitantly as he gazed at her from the side as he tuned his guitar without having to look at it.

“Better now, thank you.” Marinette told him. “Still a little, well, sad, but I think that I can put things in perspective now.” She swallowed before adding, “it’s like the weight I’ve been carrying has lightened a little bit.”

Luka gave her a small smile as he replied, “I’m happy for you then, Ma-Ma-Marinette.”

Marinette giggled at that softly, blushing as she looked away from him.

Chapter Text

“I’m glad you’re feeling better,” Luka had nodded with approval a few minutes later as he began to strum a calming tune with his guitar for Marinette. He played for her for several minutes and Marinette just sighed and listened, clasping her hand to her chest as she relaxed to the melody that he played.

The song came to an end and then Luka began another as he calmly told her, “your partner was worried about you, you know.” He paused before he added, “and so was I.”

She sighed, knowing she couldn’t avoid this conversation. “I know, and I’m sorry about worrying you both. I’ll have to have a talk with him sometime and apologize.” Marinette sniffed as she remembered last night and imagined how difficult it was for Chat to see her like that. She knew he liked her, but she had always put her crush on Adrien and their duty to Paris first. She may be working on growing past her crush, but she wasn’t sure how that would make her feel about him in the future, but she also knew that was likely a dead end, knowing how he felt about Marinette and how they still had to protect Paris.

Still, she had to ask Luka, “h-how much does he know?”

“Hmm.” Luka hummed as he weighed what to say, certain that Marinette would be able to figure out Chat’s identity if he said too much. He settled with as much of the truth that he could share as he stopped playing and put his guitar down.

Then Luka took off his miraculous and handed it back to her. “I’ve already said goodbye, for now, to Sass I mean.”

Marinette nodded as she put the Snake miraculous in her purse before she began to worry about why Luka was stalling. “Luka?”

“I know.” Luka admitted with a sigh and then went right into it. “Well, to be blunt, Chat Noir wasn’t happy that you asked me to help you instead of him. I did admit that I knew you and who you were. He…he really did not like that.”

She sighed as she answered with a sigh, “I can only imagine.”

“Although I’ll admit that he accepted it eventually once I told him about the Snake’s power and why you needed to have a good cry, and how you didn’t tell me yourself.” He swallowed and nodded to himself as he nervously added, “we uh, had quite the talk. He’s not very observant, or… or careful.”

Marinette laughed, “I could have told you that.”

“Well, that’s the thing.” He gave her a cautious look, “I may have figured out his identity too.”

That was when she shrieked, “WHAT?!”

“Wait, wait… wait.” Marinette held out her hands to stop Luka, as if she could stop him from telling her the truth by doing so, “you’re telling me that not only you figured out WHO Chat Noir is but now you know who he is and who I am?”

Luka nodded yes hesitantly, unaccustomed to her freak outs.

“Oh, this is bad, so bad!” Marinette got up and began to pace around the room, “what if Hawkmoth figured out who you are and that you knew! It’d put a target on your back! And… and what about our families? Our parents and Juleka?!”

Tikki flew out and around Marinette’s head, “Marinette! It’ll be alright, we’ll figure something out.”

Luka got up and stopped Marinette from pacing, placing his hands on her shoulders as she began to cry, “look at me Marinette! Please.”

“I really messed up here, I failed you, our parents and, and Paris!” She wiped her eyes as the tears began to flow.

“What? No! Marinette, you did nothing wrong, something like this was bound to happen anyway, secrets aren’t good for teams. This way, if something happened to either of you, I would likely hear about it and at least be able to tell the other one of you about whether or not you’re coming.”

“Yes!” Tikki quickly agreed, “he does have a point and since Hawkmoth doesn’t know who he is and since Viperion rarely helps out, he should be safe!”

“But… but what are we going to do?” Marinette asked in desperation as Luka drew her into a hug to comfort her as she sniffed, “we can’t go back and change things, we don’t have Bunnix around yet after all.”

“Bunnix?” Luka asked.

Tikki explained, “the rabbit kwami, she can help her chosen to travel through time, but only in the most serious of circumstances.”

“Is it really so bad that I know?” Luka asked, “I’ve been doing my best to not get akumatized again.”

Marinette shivered in his arms and he held her tighter. “Is there someone we can talk to about this?” He carefully asked.

“Oh! Yes!” Tikki exclaimed as she went and found Marinette’s phone, nudging Marinette’s arm with it until she took it.

Luka led Marinette over to the chaise and he sat down with her beside him.

Marinette leaned onto his shoulder for support as she swallowed and began to explain, “there’s a Guardian, a Guardian of the Miraculous. He’s kind of hiding from Hawkmoth right now, but I can call him and maybe he can give us some a-advice?”

Luka nodded appreciatively, “please do.”

He watched her enter in her passcode to unlock her phone, then he grinned when he saw that her background picture was of her and Kitty Section, with him at her side. “Love the picture.”

Marinette giggled once, elbowing him slightly before pulling up her contacts and tapped on the Turtle icon for the Guardian.

It rang four times before it was picked up by a near breathless Master Fu, “I’m sorry I couldn’t answer immediately Marinette, I haven’t had to dart into a closet for some privacy in a long time. Did you need something?”

Marinette and Tikki giggled before Tikki spoke, “Master, we have a bit of a problem. Viperion has figured out Marinette’s and Chat Noir’s identities.”

“Has he told her who Chat Noir is?” Master Fu replied.

“I didn’t think that I had the right to do that, especially when I knew that Marinette didn’t want me to reveal her identity to anyone. I just couldn’t help it, if you know what I mean.” Luka told them vaguely.

“Ah, I do understand. Well, that is something to go off of then.” Master Fu replied thoughtfully. “We will need to be more cautious now.”

“How can we do that Master?” Marinette asked. “I know we brought on Viperion to help me feel better and to get through, well, that, and I am feeling better now about that situation already. To- to an extent. Sh-should we call on Bunnix?” Marinette bit her lip before adding, “b-but I’m afraid that things might be worse if we do.”

Master Fu hummed, “well he seems to be a responsible individual and changing the past is not ideal, if something went wrong again, the outcome could be much worse.”

Marinette looked crestfallen, “this is all my fault.”

“No Marinette.” Luka told her, “you needed this. Paris needed this, it’s not your fault that I figured out what I did and I’m not going to tell anyone, I can keep a secret, especially for you.”

Marinette looked up at him and nodded once but then shook her head, “but what if you get akumatized again?”

“Well, you’ve managed to hold off akumas, I’m sure you could teach me a thing or two there.”

“That she could.” You could almost hear Master Fu stroking his beard thoughtfully. “However, she cannot protect you at all times in case your identity or what you know becomes known. I have been considering this for a time, but I think that the situation has made the decision for us.”

“What is that Master?” Marinette asked.

“I think it is time to set up some semi-permanent heroes.”

Chapter Text

“S-semi permanent heroes?” Marinette stuttered.

“Yes.” Master Fu sounded sure about his decision, “I suppose we could also say on call heroes. They will not come to every fight but if we leave the Snake miraculous with Viperion, he could protect himself if needed and when you need him to join in a battle, you will be able to text his civilian form from your yo-yo instead of having to come running to me.”

Marinette looked astounded but then looked up at a smiling Luka who nodded his head in agreement. “I’m willing to do that. I imagine that would save time, and that way I will have my own back up by having Sass at my side.”

Master Fu shockingly agreed, “I think that would be wise, plus you can also help Marinette or Chat Noir know about the status of their civilian sides if necessary, or fill in as needed since you know who they are.”

“F-Fill in?” Marinette stuttered. “What do you mean?”

“Well, you are getting older and I imagine that there will come a day when you are unable to be available at a certain time. Viperion and you could exchange Miraculous for a short period, or the same could be said of him and Chat Noir. Knowing both of your identities would help with that.”

“Ah, but Chat Noir does not know my identity Master.” Luka pointed out. “In fact, if he found out, it wouldn’t be hard even for him to figure out Marinette’s.”

“Hmm, that would be an issue, but it is possible to trade Miraculous without revealing yourselves. Or you could just borrow the Cat Miraculous as you wield the Snake Miraculous, they are compatible and you can wield them both at once when there is a dire need.”

“Really?” Marinette asked.

“Yes, returning it would be easy, or you could just leave the ring somewhere only Chat Noir would find it. All you would need is a meeting point and a time.”

“It still sounds risky.” Marinette pointed out.

“I agree!” Tikki quickly twittered, “but, I think Master Fu has a point. Overall, it would strengthen our position, so it could be worth the risk.”

“I think it is.” Master Fu stated, “Hawkmoth has been getting more daring and he calls upon the Peacock when he is about to lose. Having a few of the other Miraculous and their holders being available at a moment’s notice would only help us.”

“Yes Master.” Marinette reluctantly agreed. “Who else are you considering? We can’t use the Dragon or the Bee.”

“Ah, but that is where you are wrong my young Ladybug.” Master Fu sounded amused. “Since they wouldn’t have to wait for the miraculous every time, you could choose to place their Miraculous with them, with the strict instructions to only come when called upon and to hide their identities no matter what.”

“Hmm, I think that the uh, Dragon, would have trouble keeping that secret from her p-parents, they watch her closer than A-Adrien’s,” She stumbled over his name and Luka patted her shoulder to comfort her, then gave her shoulder a squeeze. She nodded at him appreciatively. “A-as I was saying, she’s watched closer than his bodyguard watches him.”

“Then the Dragon is out. What about the others?”

“Pegasus is trustworthy.” Marinette concluded, “no one would suspect him and he, he’s been avoiding the situation at school for the most part. I think I’d be willing to give him the opportunity.”

“Is this about Lila?” Luka asked.

“Yeah.” Marinette looked sad, knowing that she practically pointed toward where he could find Max.

“Hmm, I’ve been wondering about her. Juleka and Rose have told me so many unbelievable stories about her, sometimes they don’t seem to believe them themselves, but well, I can’t be sure.” Luka shrugged.

“Yeah, I’ve been having trouble trusting anyone close to Lila lately.” Marinette muttered as she hugged herself. “Even Nino and Alya, they invite her to everything and well, we don’t get along since Lila is always lying and somehow manages to make me look bad most of the time, which is why we don’t get along.”

“I see.” Master Fu observed.

Luka hugged her briefly, “hey, I’m sure that you have your reasons to not like her. You can tell me more about later if you feel like it.”

“Thank you, Luka.” Marinette whispered.

Master Fu cleared his throat, “well, what about Miss Bourgeois then? I’ve noticed that she has been doing better lately and she is a very strong minded individual, she seems to be someone that Hawkmoth would have difficulty controlling.”

Marinette gave his turtle image on her phone a look of confusion, “but, everyone knows that she’s Queen Bee.”

“I’m sure that we can arrange something.” Master Fu almost sounded like he was chuckling. “It is possible for the suit to be changed, she could use a new name and be given instructions about when and how she could use the Miraculous.”

“I’m not sure if I’m ready for that yet Master.” Marinette told him worriedly. “She can be a bit of a loose cannon. Same for the guy you gave the Monkey Miraculous too, he likes Lila too much and he’s a bit, well, over the top.”

“Very well, think about your options then. It would be a pity to have to find new holders if things cannot be settled between you and the current weilders because of one girl.”

“I know Master, I’m trying to figure out what I can do about all of that.”

Luka smiled at her, knowing that she was trying to come up with a solution.

“Very good Marinette. Now, we have a little time now that Viperion is on the bench as you would say, and the next time you visit me I will give you the Horse Miraculous to give to Pegasus.”

“Sure Master.” Marinette agreed reluctantly, “what should I tell Chat Noir?”

“Your partner may not like it, but I believe that you should still keep your identities safe from each other as long as you can. This way if one of you is compromised, the other will be able to continue the fight. Tell him about the plan to use Viperion or Pegasus as back-up, he should be given a way to contact them as well.”

“I guess I could get a burner phone to keep my identity from him that way,” Luka suggested before he cleared his throat, “although I’m afraid that I don’t agree with that Master. Chat Noir seems to be the kind of person that expects honesty, he doesn’t seem to read between the lines well and if Ladybug chooses to not share identities with him until there is an accidental reveal of some kind with him or without a solid deadline, it would hurt him.” Then he looked meaningfully at Marinette, “you could be hurt too.”

“Psfft,” Marinette blew a raspberry at him and brushed it off. “No matter who he is, he’ll always be my Kitty.”

“I hope you’ll remember that if you ever have an issue with each other, it’s just, umm,” he tapped his chin thoughtfully before asking, “what if he could be something more?” Luka asked her with a sad look in his eye, “I mean, Chat Noir does seem to like you, maybe even love you, as Ladybug I mean.”

Marinette gave a small laugh and waved the idea off, “oh, I think that ship has sailed. Whoever he is, he doesn’t like the Marinette me that way. My own Papa was akumatized when he thought that I, Marinette me I mean, had a crush on Chat and then he came over and told us that he was in love with Ladybug.”

“I was unaware of this.” Master Fu commented.

“Me neither.” Luka added.

“It wasn’t one of my shining moments, he saw Marinette me right after I transformed after a fight and then he mentioned how he saw me a lot after Ladybug left. Thinking that he was about to figure out my identity I… I, uh, kind of told a fib and told him that I loved him.” She tapped her fingers together nervously and avoided Luka’s startled gaze.

“I did it to protect my identity, but then my Papa showed up, overheard me and invited Chat Noir over for brunch the next day.” She took a breath and she continued with, “he came over with a pink rose, ate with us as my Papa wouldn’t let him speak up to say what he came to say, that I was a an awesome girl and all, but he was in love with Ladybug. No matter how many times Ladybug rejects him, he’s still waiting for her.”

Marinette frowned slightly as she rolled her eyes, “I mean, Marinette is a big part of me and he can’t just have Ladybug, which is me, just a part of me. I may be Ladybug, but Ladybug isn’t Marinette. There is more to Marinette than just Ladybug and you’d think that if he really liked me, all of me, then he’d seem just a little bit interested in Marinette and well, that’s just not, well, that’s not how it is.”

She shrugged, “I do love him, but just like a close friend, maybe like the annoying brother I never had. It’s not a romantic love at all, I was too b-blinded by A-Adrien for that at first and now that I know he only loves Ladybug? Well, that’s that.”

“Wow Marinette, that’s…” Luka didn’t seem to know what to say.

“Understandable.” Master Fu finished for him.

“Huh?” Marinette asked.

“Chat Noir cares so much about Ladybug, he cannot allow himself to see any other girls like that.” Master Fu explained. “It’s the same as you felt about a certain someone when all of this began.”

“Oh, it’s a… a blind love then.” She sighed, “but it’s not really. I mean, there must be something about Marinette that he doesn’t like to think about her in that way. Wouldn’t the Ladybug part of me be obvious to someone that really cared about me?” She looked up at Luka meaningfully with wet eyes and he pulled her close again to comfort her silently as she went on, “I mean, it’s not obvious though, not to Chat or anyone else anyway besides… besides Luka.”

“Is that how you found out?” Master Fu asked.

“I-I care a great deal about Marinette Sir.” Luka admitted bashfully, “when I’m around her I hear her heart song, her melody. I’ve been privileged to get to know it better lately as she’s hugn out and worked with my band and that’s probably why when I met Ladybug, her song cried out to me as much as Marinette’s. It was the same symphony.”

“Ah.” Master Fu muttered, “so you are particularly observant.”

“Only in some cases.” Luka answered bashfully, giving Marinette a small grin.

She blushed as she smiled back at him, understanding that he meant when it came to her.

Marinette looked away, “anyway, back to the question, would I ever want to be with Chat Noir? Not that it’s anybody’s business, but it wouldn’t work out, knowing he doesn’t like Marinette me that way, yeah, it wouldn’t work with him at all, knowing how he really feels about Marinette me. Enough to come and say that I’m awesome, but since I’m not Ladybug, I’m not worth his time.”

Luka flinched at that, “he probably didn’t mean it that way.”

She shrugged, “well still, he will probably agree with me when he finds out my identity. He’ll probably move on to some rich heiress like Kagami, he seemed to like her, not that he said anything when he took her home after she was de-akumatized after Oni-chan, but I could read between the lines.”

“It sounds like someone is a little jealous.” Luka smirked a little, finding it funny.

“I was just surprised that he’d rather take care of her before our usual ‘pound it’ after the battle, they’re practically a tradition!”

“Some traditions a meant to be broken Ladybug.” Master Fu commented, “do not hold it against Chat Noir for one forgotten fist bump.”

“I’m not.” She pouted a little as Luka chuckled.

“You so are.” Luka commented.

“Who asked you?” She asked defensively and Luka held up his hands, backing off from the topic and a little bit from her, to give her her space.

She shook her head as she looked up at Luka at the end of her rant, “besides, why would you ask something like that? I mean, why would I want to ‘be’ with Chat Noir someday? That’s just well, I don’t know what to call it, unless you know something I don’t’?” She looked up at Luka imploringly as he leaned back as he bit his lips, unable to meet her eyes and not knowing what to say.

Master Fu came to Luka’s rescue as he cleared his throat and answered, “no matter what Chat Noir wishes, this decision to keep your identities secret from one another is a security measure to protect Paris. Unless there is an accidental reveal, or until Hawkmoth is defeated or you give up your Miraculous by retiring, that is the way that it must be.”

Not to be deterred, Marinette asked again, “Luka? I still want to know, why did you ask that?”

Luka gave a small frown and looked away from her, as he admitted, “well, like I said, somehow last night I figured out who he is and uh, Chat Noir is a good-looking guy, he wasn’t lying about that.”

“I don’t just fall for a pretty face, no matter how it may seem that way.” She gave him a small nudge.

Luka then smirked at Marinette who only rolled her eyes as he went on, “besides, I can’t help but notice that you do seem close to him as Chat Noir, and I think that he’d want someone to object for him about this decision during this discussion.”

“That’s very thoughtful of you.” Tikki told him, “but it’s not your responsibility to be Chat Noir’s caretaker.”

“What do you mean Tikki?” Marinette asked. “I mean, you both should know that I wouldn’t just date anyone just because of their looks.”

“I just mean that, uh, they did a lot of talking last night and while Viperion is very good about discussing things and calming people down, he almost revealed you several times.” Tikki huffed as she tried to change the subject, she wasn’t the best person to talk about Adrien at the moment after all. “Thankfully Chat Noir is a bit focused on you as Ladybug and as such he can’t see you as Marinette, after barely a touch of Miraculous magic that is.”

Luka shook his head, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to say too much. He’s stubborn and hard to talk to, so I’m sorry about that Marinette, about possibly saying too much. Chat Noir is many things, but he’s not good at reading people and that was purely by accident,” he looked at her kwami, “Tikki was it? I’m sorry if I did anything wrong, I’m new to this.”

Tikki giggled and held out her little paw, “I understand, it’s good to meet you Viperion.”

Luka reached out and shook her paw gently, “good to meet you too, oh and you too Master, I’m Luka by the way.”

“I know. Marinette told me who she was going to entrust the Snake Miraculous to after all.” Master Fu replied, “now, is that all? I’m afraid my co-worker’s will be looking for me soon.”

“Yes, Master. Thank you!” Marinette replied.

“Yes, thank you Master.” Both Tikki and Luka said at the same time, they looked at each other and giggled lightly.

“You’re welcome, and please think about what we discussed and feel better Marinette.”

“I will!”

“Then Goodbye.” At which Master Fu hung up the phone.

Chapter Text

“Alright Luka,” Marinette pulled away from him and turned to face him, then she glanced at her kwami, “can we have some time alone please Tikki?”

“I’ll be out on the balcony if you need me Marinette.” Tikki replied as she floated away.

Marinette then focused on Luka, “alright now, what was that all about? I-I would think that you’d want to keep other guys away from me.”

Luka smiled painfully, “you know how I feel about you Marinette, but still, I don’t want to be a rebound for you from uh, that other guy.” He rubbed his elbow nervously with his other hand,  “and well, besides him I would think that you might be interested in Chat Noir. I mean, if it weren’t for the fact that you have to be professional as Ladybug with him.” Then he let go of his elbow and shrugged.

Marinette surprised him as she gave him a cute little snort, “and how would that work? Chat and I dating as superheroes? Even if I wanted us to, that’s the craziest thing that I’ve ever heard! I’ve told Alya that thousands of times. Not only could Hawkmoth use us against each other, but how would we get to know each other if we have to hide our civilian sides from each other?”

Luka was surprised, she seemed to have actually thought about dating her partner apparently.

Marinette elbowed him, “Luka, don’t you realize that at most I currently spend about twenty percent of my day as Ladybug during the really bad attacks and that is while the world is falling apart? I was Ladybug for only about four hours on Hero’s Day. As Max would say, how could I date someone with only 20% of myself? It’s illogical.”

Luka nodded, “that would be difficult.”

“Especially since I know that Chat Noir loves that 20% more than the 80% or more of my life that makes up the rest of Marinette Dupain-Cheng. I would wind up second guessing myself all the time, feeling like all of me isn’t enough.” She was shaking her head now. “No, it… it wouldn’t work. Ever.”

Luka nodded as he let out a sigh of relief, “well then, I guess I can honestly say that I did my best to advocate for him. If he ever asks, I can at least tell him that, even if the cat is out of the running then, for now.”

“Or as he’d say, fur-ever.” Marinette pointed out, “ugh, now I’m doing it!”

Luka looked thoughtful despite chuckling, “we’re still young Marinette, there is no need to rush into a relationship. Who knows where we’ll be in a couple of months after all?”

“How’s that?”

“I don’t mean to stir the pot here, but maybe Adrien will change his mind about you by then? What if he gives up on that girl?” Luka asked as he raised an eyebrow questioningly.

Marinette was shaking her head at him with her eyes closed for a moment as she considered it with a small pout on her lips, her eyes wet once more. “No, no, I’m not going to let myself fall into that trap. I don’t want his heart to be broken just so he can be with me. That’s selfish and I still care about him as a friend at the very least. I can’t wish a broken heart on him like that.”

“I’m sorry I mentioned it.” Luka apologized and truly looked sad about it.

“No, don’t be. I want to face it and frankly, just like Chat, A-Adrien has made his feelings about Marinette Dupain-Cheng clear.” Then she boldly added, “so I’m moving on.”

Luka smiled and nodded before he tilted his head and raised an eyebrow at her in that thoughtful way of his as he asked carefully, “are you though?”

“W-what?” Marinette stuttered.

“Well, from what I’ve heard, he doesn’t know how you felt about him, and stop me if I’m wrong, but you’ve been avoiding him and anyone that hangs out with him but you still claim to be his friend, does that sound right to you? Do friends avoid each other like that?”

Marinette hugged herself and looked away, “I, I just needed to accept that he’ll never feel about me the-the way that I felt about him, it’s hard to change your feelings overnight.”

Luka nodded. “I know, I’m just saying that now that you’ve had your chance to cry it out, how are you going to move on and be friends with him and well, everyone else? You need to put some effort into moving on. I haven’t seen you actually be yourself for a while now Marinette. You’re an amazing girl and… and I’ve been worried about you.”

“I… I’m not sure, what you mean exactly. I know I’ve been a bit, off, but what do you think I should do Luka?”

“It doesn’t really matter what I think, but since you asked, I would think that you would work on remembering what makes Marinette the most wonderful girl in Paris.” He put his arm around her shoulders supportively and gave her a small half hug, “maybe take some time for yourself?”

“Yeah, I like that idea.” Marinette considered it, “you know, I can’t say that I’ve liked myself so much while I’ve been crushing so hard over A-… over him. I’ve neglected my projects and even my other friends. I did some embarrassing things too and well, I wasn’t really me. I should be able to talk to the guy that I like, and I really didn’t like his stance on just letting Lila lie and hurt people but I put up with it because I liked him. I became someone that wasn’t me and well, Lila has her claws set in some of my old friends and well, we don’t get along like we used to. That’s kind of my fault in a way, isn’t it?”

“I wouldn’t say that it’s your fault per se, but maybe a consequence of inaction.” Luka nodded, understanding how love made you do things you’d rather not want to do.

Marinette swallowed and looked away, “he-he said that as long as we both knew about it, it didn’t matter, like he would be there for me, but then he wasn’t. I mean, I probably should have told him about Lila’s threats, he might have believed me, but he still seems to like her somehow. He puts up with her antics and seems more worried about upsetting her and her getting akumatized than anyone else and he seems to ignore how her lies hurt people, including me.”

He squeezed her shoulder supportively.

Then Marinette finished softly as she told him, unable to meet his eyes as she admitted, “I also became someone that I didn’t like being, for a boy I mean, and that’s… that’s not right. I want someone to love me for me, not for who they think I should be.”

“Oh Marinette.” Luka sighed as he nodded, remembering when she admitted that Lila had threatened her before but told him not to tell since no one besides him would believe her about it. “He has no idea what he’s missing out on with you.”

Marinette sniffed as she reached out for a hug and he pulled her in securely, “I know, but it’s probably better that way. Thank you for saying all of that though Luka.” She wiped her eyes and then hugged him back for a few minutes.

“It’s only the truth.” He muttered as he stroked her loose hair to comfort her a little more.

After their tender embrace, Marinette pulled back and asked, “so, what are you going to do now as our new reserve hero?”

“Well, I think I’ll ask our residential superheroine for some tips and get to know my kwami. Get the burner phone too, you know? How’s that for a start?”

Marinette giggled, “I like it.”

“And you? What are you going to do Marinette?” He asked her kindly.

She thought about it for a moment before she grinned, “I think I’m going to remember who I am, and maybe bring macaroons to class Monday.” She suggested happily.

“Hmm, makes me wish we were in the same class.”

“I’ll give you some to take home.” Marinette grinned at him, “do you want to practice here while I do some sketching?”

He gave her a sincere smile, “I’d like that.”

Luka and Marinette hung out for a couple hours before he excused himself and got ready to go home. She returned his miraculous and Sass happily hid in Luka’s guitar for now.

Marinette unskillfully asked Luka if he might be interested in maybe exploring something more with her after she had walked him to her front door.

Luka gave her a loving look as he responded calmly, “Marinette, while I am sorely tempted, I think that we should just be friends for a while as you make a clean break from you know who.”

“Oh, okay.” Marinette looked away from him as if she’d been rejected again.

“No, I didn’t say that right.” Luka quickly surmised. “It’s not like he’s some evil magical being whose name cannot be named that has resurfaced or something.”

Marinette giggled at the Harry Potter reference as he went on, “what I mean is not now, maybe later, when you’re ready.” Then he winked at her, “if I’m lucky enough.”

“H-how will I know when I’m ready though?”

Luka seemed to consider her question. “Well, only you will know for sure, but I’d think you should give it another six weeks as you mourn and move on. I’ve heard that two months is a good amount of time before trying to move on after a heartbreak, and you’ve already spent what, three weeks dealing with this?”

Marinette swallowed, “almost a month. I probably need that extra time though.” Then she nodded to herself and smirked at him lightly as she came to a decision, “expect to hear from me in six weeks then Luka Couffaine.”

“Not unless you hear from me first.” Luka then laughed adorably, “I hope to be here for you as a friend until then Marinette, but if you need more time, there is no pressure from me. No is okay too, I feel blessed just knowing you. Your Melody is such an inspiration.” He gave her a sweet smile and then a quick hug goodbye, “although I will say that you’re worth the wait.”

She blushed lightly as she told him gratefully, “thank you, Luka.”

“No, thank you.” Luka told her, before shooting her a quick wink and a salute goodbye.

Chapter Text

Marinette woke up extra early the next day after a wonderful night’s sleep after finishing redecorating her walls in her bedroom. She got ready for school humming to herself. She brushed her hair and noticed that it had grown longer. Either she needed to get a hair cut or consider wearing her hair differently.

Tikki woke up, shocked to find her chosen checking out a new style in the mirror. After their unusual and stress-free good morning to each other, Marinette asked Tikki if her pigtails would appear if she was wearing another hairstyle when she transformed.

Tikki smiled and told her, “if you want it to be like that, I could do it for you Marinette. You’re the one who chooses the suit after all.”

“Please do it then Tikki, I don’t want anyone to realize who I am just because I changed my hairstyle.”

Tikki giggled as Marinette brushed her hair back into a high pony tail, tying a slim and short pink scarf around it as an accent.

Marinette then took a look in the mirror and smiled.

“I love your new look.” Tikki praised.

“Thanks, Tikki, so do I. Now I’m going to go and make some macaroons for my class.”

Tikki cheered as Marinette headed down to the kitchen.

Finally, at school, Marinette was sitting at her desk with a soft smile on her face as she responded to a text from Luka, wishing her a good day back at school and good luck.

“Ooo,” Lila cooed as Marinette sent her message before she looked up to acknowledge her and then tucked away her phone. Thankfully, with Alya and Nino beside her, Lila would be on her best behavior. “Texting your fake boyfriend?” Lila teased.

Adrien walked in and glanced at the group talking before he took his seat, with a strange sad and dejected look on his face.

Marinette only smiled at Lila and shrugged as she answered her, “I don’t have a boyfriend Lila. The guy I was just texting while coincidentally is a boy and my friend, he recently turned me down for the position to be honest. Not that that is anybody’s business.”

Alya gasped, “Gurl, you asked a guy out and you didn’t tell me?”

Marinette rolled her eyes, “if you hadn’t noticed I’ve been a bit out of it lately? It’s kind of guy related,” Marinette lifted her hand and made a so-so movement. Then she took a breath and sighed as she folded her arms and looked down at her lap, “but I don’t want to talk about it. He actually helped me realize that I need a break from all of that and not to rush into anything. I was following a fantasy before after all, but now I’m not anymore.”

“Really?” Lila smirked at her.

Marinette nodded and after a quick glance at Adrien, one that everyone but him noticed, before she looked away as she vaguely admitted, “let’s just say that I’m not sure if I know how to love properly right now and I’m trying to remember who I am because of that.”

Lila folded her arms and smirked as if she had won their little ‘war.’

Nino looked surprised as he totally got it.

Adrien looked at the ground feeling guilty, while Alya frowned as she told her, “gurl, I know something has been up with you lately, but come on Marinette, you shouldn’t be so hard on yourself.”

Marinette had a small grin on her face as she shook her head, “I’m not being hard on myself Alya, I’m facing reality and frankly, enough about me.” She waved her hand dismissively. “Let’s just say that I wanted to have a fresh start, so I brought macaroons to share. I made your favorite Alya and Nino!”

“Whoa Dudette, thanks!” Nino replied happily as Marinette opened the box and held it out to him as he picked out two orange ones. Alya frowned but nodded as she took two yellow ones.
“I still want to talk to you about it later Gurl.”

“Later is good.” Marinette replied as she let Lila pick a macaron too, “you too Lila, I feel like we got off on the wrong foot.”

Alya smiled, “I’m proud of you gurl.” She praised her like Marinette had just apologized for whatever Lila had been saying that she had been doing to her of late.

Marinette shrugged as Lila schooled her expression and managed to reply, “well, thank you, I guess. Do these have nuts in them? Everyone here knows about it, but I’m highly allergic remember?”

“Hmm, I did remember hearing something about that.” Not that Lila mentioned it, “and although these don’t have any in them, there may be some cross contamination from the bakery.” Marinette frowned, “it’s a real pity but you shouldn’t eat one if you have allergies to anything Lila. You make a very good point, we just don’t have the set up to separate out things like that. I wouldn’t have been able to control it if I had tried. Maybe you could just give it to your Mom or something? I’m sure someone else would enjoy it since obviously you know better than to risk it, I’m sorry that you’ll have to miss out.” Marinette gave her a small smile as if she truly meant what she said.

“Yeah, I’ll think about that. Thanks.” Lila replied coldly before she walked up to her seat, putting the macaron in her bag, fully intending on eating it herself later.

Marinette smiled as she prepared herself as she turned around to speak to her former crush, “hey Adrien?”

Adrien looked up and turned around, startled that Marinette would even speak to him.

“Yes, Marinette?”

“Would you like a macaron? I made them this morning so they’re fresh. They’re lemon and orange.” She offered him the box. “I didn’t have time to make more than two flavors, and I haven’t made Alya’s or Nino’s favorites in a long time. Besides,” she laughed once lightly, “it’s tough getting the passion fruit ones just right and I didn’t think you’d mind.”

“Um, no, I’m fine. Thank you.” Adrien answered sullenly as he took one of the orange ones. Then Marinette passed the box to Rose who had just come in.

“Thanks Marinette!” Rose said as she passed the box around to all of the other students with a grin.

“Yeah, they’re really good, thank you Marinette!” Nino added, his thanks being echoed by their other classmates.

Alya raised her eyebrow at Marinette wondering why she didn’t make Adrien’s favorite flavor instead and most of all, why wasn’t she stuttering? So, she asked her, “yeah, thanks. Um, Marinette? Is everything okay?”

Marinette nodded as she smiled at her distant friend, “it’s getting better, thanks for asking.”

Marinette then took a steadying breath and looked at Adrien and clearly said with a small smile before looking back at Alya and Nino, “I want to hear about you guys though, how have you been lately? Have you and Nino been on any good dates?”

Adrien seemed to register that something was different, but his soft smile never changed. Although one of his eyebrow’s seemed to raise, showing how strange it was for him to have Marinette address him so easily after avoiding him for the past few weeks.

Alya looked surprised too as Nino answered for them, “Dude, we went to the arcade this weekend, Lila babysat for us and there was this awesome new music game…”

Marinette nodded, Alya looked on in disbelief and followed along as Nino regaled them about this awesome new dance game until their teacher came in and called the class to order.

Adrien didn’t know why, but while Marinette seemed to be doing better, things between them still didn’t feel right. It felt wrong somehow as he felt an ache in his chest as he realized that while Marinette would look at him now, it wasn’t the same look that she had for him as before.

Which was why he pondered, this is good for our friendship right? I mean, she’s talking to me now, but, but that means that I don’t have to bring things up with her huh? I’m glad she’s doing better, but still, I don’t understand this feeling. It… it kind of hurts? Maybe? I wish I knew why.

After class was over and everyone was packing up to go to lunch, Marinette texted Adrien.

Marinette: Hey, can you spare a few minutes? I just wanted to tell you something.

Adrien turned around and nodded, certain that he was about to hear about her crush and he’d have to turn her down. He couldn’t help but dread it, but it had to be done. He nodded to himself as he thought, once we talk about it, it’ll be all over and we can just be friends again.

Finally, the rest of the class left the room, leaving them alone. “W-what do you need to tell me Marinette?” He asked casually as he rubbed the back of his neck nervously as he thought, like I already don’t know.

Marinette looked thoughtful but then nodded to herself. “Adrien, I’m going to be honest with you. I can’t take the high road anymore. It leads to an emotional cliff for me and I’m tired of throwing myself and my feelings off of it.”

Adrien eloquently responded with a raised eyebrow as he dropped his hand to his lap and only said, “huh?”

“I’m letting you know that I’m going to try to be nice to Lila this once and this once only. BUT, if she decides to lie to me or my friends after this and I can prove that she’s lying, then I will stand up and do so.”

“But… but I thought that we agreed…” Adrien began, but Marinette held up her hand to stop him from interrupting as she went on.

“Adrien, honestly, I don’t like who I’ve become or what has been happening here, I will not roll over and take this lying down. You know that day that you told me to take the high road?” Adrien nodded shocked that she had interrupted him and was now being so forward. “Well, that was the day that she threatened me that she’d take away all of my friends and I was almost akumatized.”

She WHAT?

Adrien looked shocked as she went on, “I didn’t tell you because I had trouble talking to you and I was giving her the benefit of the doubt like you had asked. Well, no more. She declared war on me that day and I doubt you’ve been blind to the fact that she has a tendency to make me look bad with every chance she gets.”

“Marinette, this isn’t like you...” Adrien began. Wait, Lila declared war on you?

“No Adrien. It’s not like you and I am not you. She won’t go after you since to her I’m only in her way, you on the other hand, you’re the key to her success.”

“What?”

Marinette rolled her eyes, “Adrien, let me explain this to you. I’m Marinette, I give the benefit of the doubt until I’m proven wrong and then I’m careful and I stand up and fight when I have to. Lila has proven to me that she isn’t going to change. I’m giving her one more chance because I haven’t been true to myself, so she just got her last free pass and I’m letting you know right now that that is how it’s going to be.” She stood up, “I’m not going to be walked over anymore, not for you or for anyone else.”

“F-for me?” Adrien looked confused.

“Yes, for you. I did as you asked and things have only grown worse around here. Have you noticed that no one asked me to come eat lunch with them? I know you’re used to it since you’re always picked up for lunch, but for me, that’s unusual and it kind of hurts. I held my tongue about Lila, and now even Alya doesn’t reach out to me much, if at all anymore. Unless it’s to ask me to do babysitting for her and Nino. She wasn’t like that before Lila came along.”

“Marinette, wait, Nino and Alya weren’t dating then either, right?”

“Yeah, but being asked to babysit once a week for free when I’m busy enough as it is isn’t fun, especially when Alya thinks I’m a terrible friend for saying I’m too busy and calls on Lila instead.” She took a breath and sighed, “it’s not that I don’t want to help Alya, but I get busy and when I do, I’ve been feeling guilty because Lila tells Alya that good friends come first.”

“Well, they do.”

Marinette looked off to the side, “look Adrien, sometimes other responsibilities come first and really, it’s Alya’s and Nino’s jobs to babysit their siblings, not their friends. They seem to have forgotten that.”

“But…”

“No buts, I’ll be discussing this later with Alya as well if she asks me again, because if I have anything else I need to get to, that comes first now. They don’t ask you to babysit do they?”

Adrien smiled uneasily as he laughed lightly, “of course not, I wouldn’t know what I’m doing and I’m always so busy.”

She pointed at him like he hit the nail on the head, “exactly!”

Marinette rolled her eyes as Adrien looked at her quizzically before asking, “what do you have to do that’s so important that you can’t put it off for your friends?”

“Adrien, that’s not the point. The point is that I’m being punished for Lila’s lies. Not being available to babysit for free at the drop of a hat does not make me a bad friend just because I can keep the kids alive and out of their hair isn’t fair. No matter what Lila says.”

“Okay, so I can see what you mean about her stepping on you sort of, um, why am I the key to her success?” Adrien asked even more perplexed, “is it because I’m a celebrity?”

“At least you figured that one out. If you weren’t you…”

He smirked a little, “if I weren’t me…”

She took a breath and explained, “if you weren’t Adrien Agreste, a handsome and rich model, the only heir of the wealthy and famous Gabriel Agreste, she wouldn’t be all over you at every chance she gets and trying to make it look like you are together.”

“What! We-we’re not together, I…”

“Like someone else. I know.” Marinette finished for him, somehow stopping herself from whincing, “but that doesn’t stop Lila from making it look like you’re secretly dating. You should ask Nino what she says about your relationship with her.”

Adrien shook his head, “Nino knows I wouldn’t date her!”

“Does he?” Marinette quirked her eyebrow at him, “you only mentioned this girl that you love to me once instead of telling everyone, probably because you are hiding her from your Father. I bet Nino knows just as much or less than I do. That means either she doesn’t return your feelings,” she looked away and muttered, “I can only imagine why, or…

“But…”

“But nothing Adrien, it looks like you’re hiding a relationship with someone especially this girl that you like and since you haven’t named any names, it could very well be Lila.”

Adrien made a face and shook his head, clearly distressed, “I am not interested in Lila! She’s nothing like the girl that I like!”

She’s not Ladybug or… or an Everyday Ladybug like you. Wow, where did that thought come from?

“Adrien, I know that. You asked out Kagami of all people and if you liked her…” Marinette looked away briefly again, “I can’t see how you’d like Lila like that. They have nothing in common and I know you well enough for that now, I know that you know that Lila is liar and I can’t see you being with someone like that.”

Adrien nodded and sighed, “thanks.” He looked away and added softly, “the girl I like, she… she’s not Kagami.”

“I kind of guessed that. Probably a girl you work with, right? Not that you have to give me a name or anything.”

“I can’t tell you her name, but you could say that we work together.”

“Alright.” Marinette sighed and rubbed her forehead briefly before she added, “look, I’m just tired of attracting akumas here Adrien.”

“Wait, you’ve attracted more than one?” He asked, shocked at the news.

Marinette rolled her eyes at his surprise, “I practically have Ladybug on speed dial because of it.”

“Wait. You know Ladybug?” He asked with astonishment on his face. “You have her number?”

Which made Adrien wonder, How could I be so lucky?

Chapter Text

Marinette's POV

Marinette had just flippantly said that she’d been nearly akumatized a few times, an understatement really, but what bothered her most was Adrien’s focus on the fact that Marinette knew Ladybug and how to reach her.

“You have her number?” He had asked.

“No, that’s not what I meant.” Marinette shook her head and held the bridge of her nose for a moment as she painfully thought, of course Adrien would focus on the fact that I know Ladybug. Everyone wants to know about Ladybug, completely missing that I AM Ladybug!

“It’s just a phrase Adrien,” she finally explained after taking a breath, “it’s not like I have her literal number that I can call and talk to her in person anytime.”

That would be highly difficult to call myself and have a conversation with, well, myself. Either that or it would be a sign that I’ve gone completely insane, kind of like the way that this boy used to do that to me, ugh the irony.

“Oh.” Adrien looked down, disappointed at her explanation.

Of course, he would be disappointed, he’s a Ladybug fan just like everyone else. It would be horribly ironic if he thought that he was in love with her too, not even Chat Noir knows me well enough to love me truthfully.

Not like Luka anyway, and Luka doesn’t seem to be blinded by the spots thankfully. Wait, since when did I realize that?

Marinette took a breath and exhaled as shook her head to focus as she decided to tell Adrien, “well, I just wanted you to know that’s all that I really wanted to talk to you about today Adrien. You’re still my friend, I know how much you appreciate your friends, but I’m not going to follow you blindly anymore.”

“I never asked you to.” Adrien looked down, disappointed. “I just didn’t want Lila to get akumatized.”

She hesitantly reached out and then patted his shoulder twice before quickly pulling away from him even though it wasn’t easy, “I know Adrien, that’s one of the things that I liked about you, you think about everyone, the trouble is you overlook some people when you do.”

“Oh, thanks.” He gave her a small smile.

“That wasn’t really a compliment Adrien.” Marinette frowned slightly and so did he, with a hint of confusion on his part, “what I mean is that I don’t want my friends or myself to get akumatized either Adrien.”

Adrien shook his head like he didn’t want that either. “I never said that I wanted that.”

Marinette frowned at him a little, “Look, all I’m saying is that it’s not healthy for me to be putting my tormentor above my own mental health. I can’t stop being me and just let bad things happen to protect the person that goes out of their way to make my life miserable. It would be like Ladybug finally catching Hawkmoth then giving him a pat on the back with a lollipop and a severe warning to not do it again and then letting him walk off with his miraculous, only for him to do something even worse than he has been doing the next day.”

“That’s… that’s not the same thing though...” Adrien began as he looked confused.

“Adrien.” Marinette put her hands on her hips in a very Ladybug like fashion before waving one hand, “it is EXACTLY like that. We KNOW that Lila isn’t going to stop lying and Hawkmoth isn’t going to just stop his attacks, unless someone STOPS him. I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do and whether or not you want to support me or walk away, that is up to you, but I’m not going to put up with it anymore. I need to be true to myself, I waved a flag of peace this morning with those macaroons and it’s up to her now.”

 

Adrien's POV

Wow, she really reminds me of my Lady. Adrien was taken aback at the thought before he shook his head at the idea. No, that… that can’t be right. I’d know her if she was her, wouldn’t I?

Marinette was breathing heavily after her speech and Adrien nodded once to himself before he stood up and smiled at her gently. Stopping himself as he reached out to touch her shoulder as she flinched at that and pulled away slightly. He dropped his hand.

It’s really not going to be the same between us anymore, is it?

Not knowing what else to do, Adrien apologized. “I’m sorry if I wasn’t there for you Marinette, I didn’t know everything, I wish I did.”

He looked away and muttered, “then I could have been there for you more and well,” he hesitated to add but did anyway, “and Lila would never have broken into my house and kissed me.”

Marinette nodded having heard but didn’t seem to be surprised that she made him feel uncomfortable, she seemed surprised at what he said though and uneasy too but she seemed determined to tell him as she relaxed a little. “Well, maybe not. She does tend to get her way though, huh? Knowing her, she would have found a way for that to happen anyway. She’s pretty determined to get her way after all.”

“Yeah, maybe.” He admitted.

Marinette sighed, “look, I’m sorry I didn’t have the courage to speak up about her threats until now. Her kissing you and taking that picture would probably have happened eventually since she’s got her sights on you. This is Lila we’re talking about and I doubt it would have made much of a difference if I had told you sooner.”

He swallowed, “it-it would have, to me. I could have, I don’t know, been more wary of her? I was hoping she was trying to do better, and now to hear this?” He shook his head, “this is messed up huh?”

Marinette frowned, “I know, it’s not what either of us expected, huh?”

“No, it’s not.” He gave her a wry grin. “Can you ever forgive me? We should talk more like this. I guess what I’m saying is that it seems like we haven’t been on each other’s side much huh?”

“Yeah, I mean,” She twiddled her fingers as she thought about it out loud as she looked out the window, “the high road is a nice idea in theory, but it doesn’t work well in real life.”

I think I’m beginning to see that. He thought as he mentally echoed her words.

S he’s so pretty, wait, where did that come from?

Marinette went on though, “Adrien, I know it’s pretty sad and unfair, but sometimes people will walk all over you if you let them, or worse since they don’t take the high road too, just to take the fastest way to get their way. Even if it involves walking all over you or hurting others. There are some people that you just can’t avoid and things you’ve just got to do that you don’t want to do it sometimes.” She shrugged, “that’s just the way that life is. Life isn’t fair, it’s not all peaches and cream, sometimes it’s just sour and bitter.”

Adrien sighed, “I think I know that now. Still, I’m glad that you finally felt like you could tell me. I’ll try to be there for you if you need me to be.” Still, he seemed like he couldn’t help but hesitate. “I-I won’t just attack her though.”

That would make it worse, right? Making bad guys suffer never made them good guys after all.

She frowned at that, is she upset? It’s not smart just to attack people though.

“It’s not that I plan to.” She reiterated, “look, I prepare for possibilities when I can, but I won’t make the first move.”

Marinette replied with a raised eyebrow. “I’m surprised that you think that I would just outright attack her.”

Adrien quickly held up his hands defensively, “no, no, that’s not what I meant.”

Marinette shook her head at him as if she was disappointed now.

I don’t like that look, why does it seem familiar?

Marinette folded her arms, “look, I’m giving her an opportunity here. I think she understood that, don’t you?”

Please don’t look at me like that. Adrien found himself pleading, I never wanted to hurt you or disappoint you. Why does it feel like I’ve done both?

Adrien cleared his throat once uneasily, “yeah, I think she wasn’t happy when everyone looked so happy that you were being nice to her.”

“True, with one simple move I was proving that I am not her enemy. No one gets free Dupain-Cheng cookies if they’re not a friend, right? I decided that I should give her a chance since I haven’t been myself. Since that’s what the real me would do.”

“That’s what makes you our Everyday Ladybug.” Adrien praised, his heart aching a little bit.

She really is like my Lady, if only she was, it’s just, I’d recognize her, right?

“Oh please,” Marinette rolled her eyes, blushing slightly as she waved the idea off, “we all know I’m not anything like Ladybug.”

“No, in some ways, you’re better.” Adrien admitted with a small grin although the comment made his heart ache a little more somehow, maybe I’m betraying my Lady by saying that.

Marinette was surprised at the compliment and looked away as he finally decided to ask, “if you don’t mind me asking,” Adrien hesitantly began, “why do you think that you haven’t you been yourself?”

Marinette smiled and shrugged, shaking her head as she exhaled as she glanced at the door like it was time to leave, “I’m just going to say that I was following a fantasy, but now I’m not.” She simply explained as she picked up her bag as she started to walk away, “some dreams don’t come true Adrien and sometimes, it’s better that way.”

“Marinette?” Adrien gave her a questioning look, wondering, is she talking about me? I-I thought she had a crush on me. Why didn’t she mention it?

She waved his question off as she stated his name, “Adrien.”

“Marinette please, be honest with me.” Adrien pleaded with a raised eyebrow, his curiosity almost killing him. I don’t like not knowing if this is about me, if I hurt you somehow.

“I have been. I’ve told you everything that is important just now. I’m getting over a fantasy that by following it, I forgot who I am. So now, well,” she smiled at him, “now I’m remembering who I am. Instead of following the impossible…”

Strange, that hurts. Why?

She went on as she looked away from him, unable to meet his eyes, “look, I’m going to work on me now, by being myself and trying to be a better friend over all, it’s no big deal Adrien.” She smiled sweetly as she tilted her head to look up at him, “it’s called growing up.”

Growing up? You’re one of the most responsible people I know. Is this about you crushing on me? He thought again. I mean, I could have sworn, wait, are you avoiding it because you’re trying to get over it?

His eyes grew wide as he realized that was most likely true, but he was disappointed in himself when he also came to the conclusion, why can’t I ask her that? Why do I feel bad about not being able to return her feelings? Isn’t it better this way???

Then he finally understood something that had changed that was probably important. “Wait, y-you haven’t stuttered once since we s-started talking.” He observed with wide eyes.

And now I’m doing it!

Is… is that because Marinette is getting over me? Why, why does that hurt?

“Yep. See? I’m doing better already.” She told him confidently with that sweet smile of hers that he has been missing for some time now.

It’s good to see you smile again.

Then she surprised him by frankly saying, “so, don’t worry your handsome little head about me. I’ll see you around Adrien.” She waved and smiled at him genuinely from the door, “I hope you enjoy your lunch. Bye.”

Bye? Why does that seem, so… so final? She’s my friend, doesn’t she know how lonely lunch is for me? He wondered as she left and he texted his driver that he was on his way as he thought about it.

Or does that have another meaning?

The thought bothered him as he left the classroom alone, after glancing into his pocket to find Plagg taking yet another nap.

On one hand he was grateful his kwami hadn’t heard the conversation, on the other, it would be nice to talk to someone about it, not that Plagg was good for that kind of thing, since everything came back to cheese somehow.

He turned down the hall only to see Marinette standing outside the cafeteria, looking longingly at the entrance, only to sigh, clutch her bag to herself and then turn to walk towards the entrance of the school to have her lunch at home supposedly. He was going the same way, so he happened to follow her.

She didn’t quite seem like the confident Marinette that he had just talked to, maybe a little reserved, but she still soldiered on, leaving ahead of him as her confidence came back with each step. It was kind of interesting to see.

Then he remembered her telling him goodbye.

Somehow, her goodbye didn’t make him feel better about the situation at all. It felt… it felt, like the end to something, I just wish I knew what it was.

Chapter Text

Wednesday morning and Marinette was found on the front steps of the school again, with a slight blush and a smile as she was typing away on her phone, saying good morning to Luka once more.

Adrien was shortly delivered by his bodyguard to the school and he joined up with Nino and Alya, who were of course standing by Lila’s side listening to her newest tale, based upon the newest newsworthy item. If only she knew that she was poking the bear… or in this case, by extension, the crocodile’s best friend.

While she tried for half a second, Marinette discovered that it was too hard not to ignore the chattering and gossip that was loudly being passed along around her, but she listened in anyway. Pressing record on her phone just in case. Good for her… not good for the resident liar.

“Of course, I knew that they were going to get together, I introduced them after all, after saving his kitten that he had to give away because of his allergies.” Lila loudly proclaimed, repeating a former lie. “I mean I was the one who found a baby alligator in Australia a couple years ago that I knew he’d love, that’s how he got Kang.”

“Oooo!” Rose cooed, “weren’t you afraid of him?”

“Of course, not silly. Kang was only like ten centimeters long and abandoned by his mother. I knew Jagged would love him! Penny too. I’ve even helped them plan the wedding. I’ve passed on Gabriel’s personal number so that he could help them design their outfits of course.”

“What’s Lila talking about now?” Adrien asked Nino.

“Dude, haven’t you heard the news, Jagged Stone is marrying Penny!”

Adrien looked over at Marinette who had stopped the recording and was now forwarding it to a certain friend with a small grin on her face. She was shaking her head like she just couldn’t believe her luck.

“Marinette?” He asked in a questioning tone.

She looked up at him and answered, “Adrien.”

“Are you going to, uh? You know?”

Marinette only grinned wider at him with a glimmer in her eye.

“Oh yes, Marinette, what do you think about the news?!” Lila squealed. “I know you’ve met Jagged, but he really LOVES me!”

Marinette shrugged and got up, collecting herself as she calmly replied, “oh, I guess that’s nice? Although I will admit that I heard about the wedding a couple days ago though and I’m very happy for them.”

“Dude! You knew!” Nino exclaimed.

Alya shook her head, “no way! You would totally have told me.”

“Jagged and Penny didn’t want to have that information leak just yet.” Marinette offered with a shrug, “they just got engaged after all, besides they knew they couldn’t keep it a secret forever but they wanted to keep it to themselves while they could, so I didn’t tell anyone.”

“Gurl, I can’t believe you!” Alya looked on at her in shock, “I can totally keep a secret!”

“Sorry Alya, I know how to keep a secret, it wasn’t my secret to tell and they’re practically family. They came by and told us about everything Monday night, when they came to set up their taste testing for their wedding cake.”

“Just because I know him so well, you don’t have to lie and try to steal the spotlight Marinette!” Lila teared up, irritated that she had lost her adoring crowd’s attention, “I can’t believe you’d do that!” Then she ironically started up with the crocodile tears.

“I’m really not trying to steal anyone’s spotlight Lila.” Marinette pointed out with a raised eyebrow. “I really know Jagged that well and my parents ARE making his cake.”

“Yeah, she even had him over at her bakery once.” Adrien quietly supplied with a smile.

“Uh, yeah.” Alya looked confused, not quite sure what side to take, as if there were sides as she offered, “she even designed one of his album covers.”

“Of course, she did, I didn’t want Marinette to keep feeling bad about herself so I suggested that they give her a shot at that!” Lila offered.

“Umm, I think that was Jagged’s idea.” Marinette answered, “and I know I’m a good designer. I don’t feel bad about myself at all in that respect. Jagged thought of me because I had already made his Eiffel Tower sunglasses at that point.”

“Oh, you wouldn’t know that I suggested to him to call you up again! I told him not to use my name, I didn’t want you to think you were being chosen for the job out of pity.” Lila offered.

Marinette just blinked at that.

“That was so cool of you Lila!” Rose praised.

“Yeah, well, it was a really good thing for Marinette’s career.” Alya joined in, “you should seriously bake her some cookies or something Marinette.”

“I don’t think I could if I wanted to, remember Lila’s nut allergy?” Marinette parried. “Not that I was going to do that.”

Chloe had arrived a few minutes earlier, and just snorted as she tossed her hair. “Of course not, that would be ridiculous, utterly ridiculous.”

Lila gave Chloe a look since Chloe usually overlooked her lies and avoided her, “are you saying that I don’t know Jagged?”

“Silly me, of course not. He only stays at my father’s hotel and I’ve never seen you there visiting him.” Chloe mentioned off hand as she inspected her nails, “honestly, I think I know him better than you, and there is only one person here, unfortunately, that knows him better than Moi, and she’s not you Lie-la. It’s Dupain-Cheng. She actually comes to visit Fang, you know, his crocodile? Usually when he has a show or something and he has to leave it behind. Dupain-Cheng is one of the few that that beast will listen to and crazy enough to get near it willingly.”

“Oh, please, Kang follows me around like a puppy!” Lila laughed and waved Chloe’s information away.

“Uh, Lila, I can’t believe that I’m saying this but Chloe is right. Fang is a crocodile, his name is Fang not Kang and while he’s friendly to almost everyone, he won’t listen to everyone. He’s kind of spoiled that way.” Marinette explained.

Chloe rolled her eyes, “you better believe it. He’s chewed up my shoes before!”

Marinette giggled, “well, did you at least get some more shoes?”

“Eight new pairs.” Chloe proclaimed with a smirk, “and I’ve locked them all away from that beast!”

“Well, it just goes to show he has taste right?” Marinette joked.

“Yeah well, whatever.” Chloe rolled her eyes like her comment didn’t phase her, as she tried to hide her smile.

“Yeah, well, enough about the amphibian.” Lila began as she decided it was time to change subjects, “I can’t wait to tell you all about what Jagged and Penny want me to do for their wedding!”

Just then, a limo came racing down the street and hit the breaks in front of the school so hard the back of the vehicle rose off the ground for just a moment comically. People stepped back and then jumped away from the limo as the door opened and Fang the crocodile spilled out and ran up to Marinette knocking her over and started to lick her happily.

Jagged Stone and Penny Rolling exited the vehicle next and caught up to the happy crocodile. “Aww, Fang really likes you Marinette! I knew I contacted the right girl to help me with my wedding!” Jagged exclaimed.

Penny giggled as Fang finally let a laughing Marinette stand up, “thanks Jagged. I like Fang too!” She leaned down and started to rub Fang’s tummy and then he started to tap his leg like a puppy.

“Hey, that’s Uncle Jagged to you Marinette!” Jagged Stone proclaimed.

Lila was crowded by her fellow students and couldn’t leave. “Hey Jagged!” Rose called out innocently, “do you ever miss your kitten?”

“Kitten?” Jagged gave Rose a questioningly look, “I’ve never owned a kitten, right Penny?”

Penny shook her head, “not that I’m aware of.”

Jagged nodded as he snapped his fingers, “that’s right, I’ve owned Fang here for seven years, he was only about thirty centimeters long when I got him, but the farm I got him from said that he was about a year old and that he wouldn’t get along with any other pets.”

“But your friend Lila said that she saved your kitten and got you your alligator from Australia a few years ago.” Kim offered, “or was she mistaken?”

Jagged Stone looked at the crowd confused, “I have no idea who you are talking about. Fang is a salt water crocodile which is way more rock n roll than any ordinary gator and even I know there are no gators in Australia kid. Besides, I’ve never owned a gator and I don’t know a Lila either.”

“But Mr. Stone! This is Lila!” Rose objected as she pointed at Lila, who was looking for a way to escape. “Don’t you know her?”

Jagged shook his head, “nope. I just came here to meet with my niece.” He grinned at Marinette and began to just ignore everyone else, “I wanted to catch you before school Marinette. You see, I’ve been trying to find someone to design some rock n roll outfits for our wedding and no one will make a suit for Fang! Not even Gabriel Agreste!”

“You contacted Father?” Adrien asked from the edge of the crowd.

“Oh, yeah, you’re his kid.” Jagged frowned at Adrien as he shrinked away from the disapproval in the rocker’s gaze, “you’re the one that my niece USED to like.”

“Jagged!” Marinette and Penny scolded.

“Nope. I’m not having it. Blindness must run in his family,” Jagged put his arm around Marinette supportively as she covered her face with shame, “not only would your old man refuse to make something for my dear Fang, but I can’t believe you didn’t want to go out with this girl! She’s so amazing and talented! Don’t worry Marinette, Uncle Jagged is here for you.” Jagged hugged her close and petted her hair like she was breaking down.

She wasn’t breaking down though, she was embarrassed and a bit mortified.

“Jagged, A-Adrien is just a friend now! I told you that.” Marinette muttered from behind her hands.

The crowd gasped as Alya asked loudly, “you’re over him! Really? NO WAY!”

“Yep.” Marinette took a deep breath as she finally put her hands down escaped Jagged’s grasp and gathered her Ladybug courage before she announced with a wave of her arm. “Adrien Agreste has a new title, just a friend.”

Adrien had a confused smile on his face, happy about the friend part, but sad and hurt about the ‘just’ part for some reason.

He had a sinking feeling as he thought randomly, wow, karma sucks.

Penny and Jagged whispered amongst themselves as Lila took center stage once more.

Lila smiled to herself as she sidled up next to Adrien and clutched his arm, “I guess that means that Adrien’s available?”

Adrien pulled back from her unconvincingly, “ah, s-sorry Lila, there’s another girl that I like.”

“Dude? Really? I thought you an Lila…” Nino began.

“No way Nino!” Adrien almost shrieked as he looked at his best Bro incredulously.

How could you think that I’m with HER!

“Psft, you don’t know what you want Adrien.” Lila waved the idea off as if his feelings didn’t matter as she gripped his arm painfully again in a possessive way.

Adrien realized that no one seemed to notice this but Marinette who gave him a look which clearly said ‘well, what can you do?’

Lila didn’t notice and went on, “of course I could help you figure out what you want Adrien, I’d be the perfect girlfriend for you.” Then she loudly whispered for the whole crowd to hear, “you know we’re perfect for each other and you don’t have to hide it anymore, Marinette is over you and it won’t hurt her if you start going out with someone better than her, like me.”

Adrien looked shocked and didn’t seem to know what to say. Thankfully, Marinette did.

“Oh, PLEASE Lila,” Marinette stood up from petting Fang again, he was one spoiled croc after all, “as far as I understand it, Adrien either doesn’t want to be or CAN’T be in a relationship right now. He claims that he likes some girl that doesn’t seem to see him for who he is. I mean, I know it seems like she doesn’t exist because this is the first TIME that we’ve heard about her and while I know it’s odd that we don’t know her, there is one thing that I’m sure of and that is that she is NOT YOU. Now please, just let go of the poor boy and let him LIVE HIS LIFE!” Marinette demanded.

“But Adrien adores me!” Lila objected with false tears in her eyes, refusing to let go of Adrien.

“Umm, no. He doesn’t. I can’t believe I’m saying this because that means that I’m on the exact SAME side as Dupain-Cheng, but that’s WHY he’s leaning away from you.” Chloe pointed out. “That’s why he makes that face of revolution around you.”

“Even I can see it, and forcing yourself on someone is so not Rock-n-Roll.” Jagged commented as he now hugged Penny to his side.

“You know, they’ve all got a point.” Mylene pointed out. “Adrien has never said that he’s secretly dating Lila to anyone, has he?”

“She actually said that?!” Adrien demanded, and they believed her?

The whole class nodded as Rose chirped up, “she said that you had to keep it private because of your father and because you’re a celebrity.” Then she looked uncertainly at Marinette, as if confused for some reason, “plus, it would, ah, maybe hurt Marinette’s feelings?”

Marinette shook her head, “look, I know he tolerates Lila, but even I’d never believe he’d date her, and why would Adrien care about my feelings like that? We’ve never been more than friends and he’s never found me attractive at all.” She waved it off, “which is totally fine. I’ve finally figured out that he’s not really my type.” She returned to petting Fang as several people gasped for some reason.

That you know of. Adrien looked away bashfully, why does Marinette not know that she’s the most attractive girl in our class? And there it is again, why does her saying that we’re just friends sting?

“Ah dude, you’re prettier than you think.” Nino told his girlfriend’s best friend, “besides, we all knew that you liked him, it was so obvious that even we could see it.” Nino bluntly explained to Marinette herself, “that’s why we didn’t say anything to you Dudette.” Which of course meant that he was quickly elbowed by Alya.

“That was a secret!” She hissed as she worriedly looked at Marinette.

Marinette laughed and waved the idea off, “oh, that was so last month guys. One sided crushes will always end like that.”

They… they do? Adrien looked at her worriedly, but what about Ladybug? Does that mean she’ll never love me?

Penny chuckled, “she’s telling the truth guys. There isn’t one poster of this boy left on her walls at home anymore.”

“Really?!” More than one voice exclaimed, the loudest of course was Alya and Adrien.

“Yep.” Marinette happily answered as she finished petting a now groggy Fang.

Adrien looked down at the ground, sad for some reason at her answer as he processed the fact that she truly had had a crush on him and it seemed like she was over it now.

“Wait a minute.” Kim of all people put it together, “Lila’s been telling us all not to tell Marinette that she was secretly dating Adrien…”

There was a flash of uncertainty that crossed Lila’s face, but she just held onto Adrien more.

“She wasn’t!” Adrien defended. “I’d never date her!”

“Never say never.” Lila flirted with him despite Adrien trying to gently pull away from her again. “I mean, I totally understand why you’d want to keep our relationship secret, I’m great with secrets after all my model-boo.”

Adrien’s face wasn’t the only one that cringed at the terrible nickname.

“Yeah, well, Jagged Stone just said that he doesn’t know her either.” Someone else pointed out.

“Totally.” Jagged shot them finger guns. “That girl is so not Rock n Roll!”

Alya folded her arms, “wait, that means at least three things she’s told us isn’t real. She’s not Adrien’s girlfriend…”

“Thank you!” Adrien squirmed under Lila’s grasp until he finally broke away from her.

Alya frowned as she went on thoughtfully as if she was still processing it, “then at least the two other things about Jagged. There was no kitten and she didn’t get him Fang.”

Lila looked around at the now wary crowd, no one wanting to believe it, but things were starting to look bleak for their world traveling, charity driving and well-connected girl, aka, Lila, soon to be, the liar… maybe.

Turns out the crowd needed a little more convincing…

“Rose?” The quiet voice of Juleka asked, “maybe you should ask Prince Ali if he knows her.”

“On it!” Rose brightly answered as she finished a text to her pen pal Prince Ali and sent it off.

Lila almost cringed as she tried to come up with something…