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Are They Worthy?

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Max had arrived at Carter’s place with Markov. He rang the doorbell. Carter answered. “Come in” he said.

Max entered and noticed that a lot of stuff was being boxed up. “What’s all this?” Max asked.

Carter looked stern. “Since dad’s arrest, we’ve lost a lot of money. We’re doing what we can with what we have, but we’re moving.”

“Oh. I’m, uh, sorry to hear that” Max said, nervously.

“Don’t be” Carter said. “It’s..liberating. All my life, my father dictated what I should be doing. Selling this house. Selling a bunch of his stuff. It’s like I’m clawing my way out of this deep hole.”

“I see…” Max said.

Carter smiled. “We’re still going to be in Paris,” he said. “We’re just not going to be in the lap of luxury. We’re budgeting ourselves. We’ll be fine.”

Max looked at his new old friend. “I know you invited me over to talk about something concerning me, but do you want to continue venting before we do that?” he asked.

Carter sighed. “A little.” They went into his room. His hoodie was thrown over his computer chair, which he sat in. Max sat on his bed. Markov floated around Max. “Heh. Remember when you first came here?” he asked.

Max nodded. “You had just gotten Ultimate Mecha Strike: II. I wanted to play it, so when I heard you had it, I asked if I could come over.”

“Yeah” Carter said. “I miss days like those. Just playing games for the fun of it. My dad pushed me to play games competitively” he said in a somber tone. “I mean, I’ve enjoyed it, but I never wanted to do it as much as he did.”

“Pardon me asking, but why did you not say no to him?” Markov said.

“Markov!” Max said, nervously.

“It’s fine” Carter said. “You’re just a curious little thing, aren’t you?”

“Why yes” Markov said.

Carter smiled. “My dad was a very powerful man. It was really hard to say no to him. He had everything over me. Wealth. Power. I didn’t want to upset him. I’ve seen him upset at people before.”

“So, you were scared?” Markov said.

“Pretty much” Carter said. “When you guys beat me, I was more scared that I’ve ever been. I guess that’s why I got akumatized so easily. But even then…” He sighed. “One thing I did to make my dad happy was inherit some of his attitudes. He thought in order to get what you want, you have to control people. I kind of fell into that same trap.”

“Oh, you don’t need to worry about that as much” Max said. “Hawk Moth’s the one who gives powers. He’s the one who made you Nighthawk, not you. Trust me. I’ve been on the receiving end of akumatization as well.”

“As have I” Markov said.

“Yeah, but that doesn’t change the fact that I inherited some of his other terrible behaviors as well,” Carter said. “Part of me thinking through things was trying to undo all of that. I’ve still got a ways to go, but I feel like I’m getting better.”

Max smiled. “Glad to hear it.”

Carter then realized something. “Wait, did you say ‘He’?”

“What?” Max asked.

“When describing Hawk Moth. You said ‘He’” Carter elaborated.

“Yeah…?” Max said.

Carter held his head. “I know it’s a bit fuzzy, but I remember a female Hawk Moth.”

“WHAT?!” Markov said. “What does this mean?”

“I dunno. But we should tell Ladybug this” Max said.

“It could be nothing…” Carter said. “I mean, villains need to be themselves as well. Hawk Moth could just be trans.”

Max looked at Carter surprised. “I think you’ve made a lot more progress than you think.” Carter smiled.

“That could be true” Markov said. “But at least that could give us a lead as well.”

“Yeah” Max said. “Anything that could lead to Hawk Moth’s capture is valuable. No matter the circumstances.”

“Great! But, how are we supposed to meet with Ladybug?” Carter asked.

“Well, she patrols the streets sometimes” Max said, nervously. “Maybe if one of us sees her, we could tell her.”

“Right” Carter said. “Well, I’m feeling better. Wanna talk about your thing?”

“Sure” Max said.

“So, I don’t know about asking Katelyn out right away,” Carter said.

“Why not?” Max asked.

Carter got serious. “That has to do with how she joined the team. See, her ex-boyfriend was Mitchel Baume.”

“Wait, of the Orleans Alphas?” Max interjected.

“Yes” Carter said. “They two had dated for a long time. But when Mitchel moved to Orleans to be a part of the team, Katelyn got upset that a team was more important than her. She came to us after she found out we were looking for a fifth. She was on a mission to destroy the Orleans Alphas. We let her on because she was talented. We did beat them in many tournaments with Katelyn on the team. But she was always distant. Though, I can hardly blame her.”

“I see…” Max said.

“I’m not saying you don’t have a chance,” Carter said. “I’m saying tread lightly. Despite my attitude, I don’t want to see anyone on my team get hurt.”

“Right” Max said. Max looked around and noticed that Carter’s consoles were not packed yet. “Hey, wanna play some games? You know, for old time’s sake?”

Carter smiled. “I’d like that.”

Meanwhile, Marinette and her parents arrived at the Agreste Manor. They rang the doorbell. The camera came to meet them. “Come on in” Gabriel said.

The Dupain-Cheng family walked in and were greeted by Gabriel and Adrien. “Hi” Adrien said, clearly embarrassed.

“Hi” Marinette said, equally embarrassed.

“Shall we have lunch?” Gabriel said. They all moved to the dining room. Adrien usually hated that room, but his father, his girlfriend, and her parents were there. Adrien’s face lit up. Everyone sat down and their lunch was plated. “So, shall we get started?”

“Um, sure?” Tom said. “But what’s this about?”

“Yeah. Isn’t it a little early to be talking about their future?” Sabine asked. “Unless…” Sabine looked at Marinette.

Marinette was eating when she picked up on what her mom was implying. “Mom, NO! We haven’t even been dating a week. We haven’t even had a second date yet!”

“Well this could be our second date” Adrien said, trying to lift Marinette’s spirits.

“With our parents?” Marinette said.

The adults chuckled. “I understand it’s a bit early before anything serious happens,” Gabriel said. “I just wanted to have a talk. I’m not sure what you know about me, but I can be a bit overprotective of Adrien here. He’s all I have, after all. I’m just concerned is all.”

Tom was offended. “Are you saying that Marinette isn’t good enough for your son?” he asked.

“Not at all” Gabriel said. “Marinette is a wonderful young lady. I just can’t help but be concerned. I want what’s best for my son.” There was a distinct sadness in his voice

Tom smiled. “I understand” he said. “As parents, we all want what’s best for our children. Why, I remember when my little Marinette was rejected by Cat Noir. I got so mad that someone wouldn’t want to date my little girl that I ended up akumatized.”

Adrien coughed up his drink at the mention of the Weredad incident. “Is something the matter?” Gabriel asked.

Adrien looked at them staring at him. “It’s just… I can’t stand the thought of someone saying that Marinette is not good enough for them…”

Tom looked at Adrien. “AHHHHHHHHH. You and I are going to get along just fine. If we weren’t at a table, I’d give you a hug right now.”

“Yay” Adrien said, nervously. Marinette put her head down on the table.

“Well, regardless, I still think Marinette and Adrien are a great couple,” Sabine said.

“Of course. Based on the limited amount of times I’ve seen them together, they seem to bring out the best in each other” Gabriel said. Marinette and Adrien thought about that. That certainly was the case with Ladybug and Cat Noir, but it was a bit more subtle when it comes to them specifically. 

“Still, I have a greater concern,” Gabriel said. “Now, I don’t mean any disrespect by what I’m about to say. It just comes from my overly cautious nature. Adrien and I are very well known figures around Paris. I don’t WANT to think Marinette is like that, but…”

“Oh, you don’t need to worry about that” Adrien said. “Marinette couldn’t stand me at first.”

The rest of the table was surprised. “Adrien!” Marinete said.

“Pardon?” Gabriel said.

“Isn’t that what you told me?” Adrien asked.

Marinette sighed. “Yeah…” She said. “When Adrien first came to school, I thought he was helping Chloe pull a prank on me. I just kind of wrote him off as another spoiled rich kid. It was only after he apologized to me and gave me an umbrella that I saw the real him.” She began to think about incidents with he and Adrien and her and Cat Noir. “Someone whose kindness knows no bounds. Someone who puts others over themselves. Someone who will do whatever it takes to cheer you up. That’s the Adrien I fell in love with.” Adrien was stunned at Marinette’s words.

“I see” Gabriel said. He was starting to well up. “Please excuse me.” He left the table.

A few minutes later, a loud noise was heard coming from Gabriel’s office. “Father?!” Adrien said.

“Let’s go!” Tom said. The four left the table and ran out.

They got to the doors. “I’m sorry, but Mr. Agreste told me not to let anyone in” Nathalie said.

“Move!” Tom said, pushing her out of the way. Sabine caught her. Tom burst through the doors. “Are you OK, Mr. Agreste?!” he shouted. Everyone else entered. They saw Gabriel’s office in complete disarray. Gabriel was sitting down. “Mr. Agreste?” Tom said much more calmly approaching him.

Gabriel looked up and saw the kind faces surrounding him. “I’m sorry” he said, tears in his eyes. “I just hate people seeing me like this.”

“It’s OK” Tom said.

“What’s the matter?” Sabine asked.

“Nothing” Gabriel said. “It’s just, when Marinette was describing Adrien she reminded me a lot of myself and my wife back when we were dating. I miss her every day.” Tom and Sabine sat next to him and gave him a hug. “Thanks” he said, a smile coming over his face. “If you don’t mind though, I’d prefer to be alone.”

Sabine and Tom broke the hug. “We understand” Sabine said.

“We’ve gotta get back to the bakery anyway,” Tom said.

“Marinette, are you coming?” Sabine asked.

“Well…” Marinette said.

“If it’s alright with you, maybe she can stay here a while?” Adrien said.

“Of course son” Tom said. “You to have fun!”

“But not too much fun!” Sabine said.

“MOM!” Marinette said.

Tom and Sabine were about to leave when the ran into Nathalie. “Sorry about pushing you out of the way like that” Tom said.

“It’s alright’ Nathalie said. “You were concerned for Mr. Agreste.”

“Thanks for being so understanding,” Tom said.

“Of course” Nathalie said. Tom and Sabine left.

“Marinette why don’t we go to my room?” Adrien said. Marinette nodded. The two walked off.

Back at Carter’s, after some gaming Carter got up to go to the bathroom. Max took out his phone and texted Vlad. “JW. We have some information on HM. Need to talk. -P.”

“Got it. Tomorrow” Vlad replied.

Max sighed. “Alright, no where were we?” Carter said, getting back Max got another text. “What’s that?”

Max checked his phone, worried that it was a more specific text from Vlad. However, much to his delight, “Katelyn?” he said.

“What does she want?” Carter asked.

“She wants to meet with me,” Max said. “Right now.”

“Well, what are you waiting for?” Carter said.

“Right” Max said, getting up. Just as he was about to leave. “Before I go, since we were reminiscing, why don’t you pursue that goal you told me about the day I first came here?”

Carter smiled. “I’ve been thinking about that. I kind of want to move first.”

“Fair enough” Max said. “Anyway, seeya.” He left.

Adrien and Marinette made their way to Adrien’s room. “Well, that could have gone a bit better” Adrien said.

“Well, it could have gone worse” Marinette said. “So, what did you want to do?”

“Well, I had something in mind” Adrien said. He put his phone on his speaker and played “Rebel Girl” by Angels & Airwaves. He then held out his hand. “May I have this dance?” Marinette took his hand and the two started to dance together.

Max was running off to meet Katelyn while Adrien and Marinette were dancing their hearts out. Max eventually found Katelyn and ran up to her. “*huff….huff…..” he said. “You wanted to see me?”

Katelyn looked at Max. “Yeah… So, I had a really bad break-up. I haven’t been able to move on. The only reason I joined Carter’s team was because I was still caught up in all that petty nonsense. But, being with you this past week had made me let go of all of that stuff. What I’m saying is, I think I might like you-A little bit! But I can understand if you don’t feel the same.” Tears started streaming down her eyes. “I’m sorry.” She started to run away.

Max grabbed her hand. “Wait” he said. Katelyn looked back. “Carter told me the whole story. I understand what you’re going through. But I also like you too. In fact, that was the reason I was talking with Carter. We can take it as slow as you want. But I do feel the same about you. You’re so amazing. It feels like even though I’ve known you for a week, I know you well.”

Tears continued to flow down Katelyn’s face, but they were tears of joy. “Thank you” she said. The two held each other. Markov looked on, proud of his creator. If he could cry, he would.

Meanwhile, after the song wrapped up, Marinette said “Wow. That was amazing.”

“Not as amazing as this” Adrien said. He then kissed her. She kissed him back. They sat on his bed. “Marinette. There IS something I need to talk to you about.”

“Was all of that to try to butter me up?” Marinette said, teasingly. “You don’t need to do that. But I appreciate it.” She nuzzled her boyfriend.

“Yeah…” Adrien said. “So, we know who we are as superheroes, right?” Marinette nodded. “So, is there anything I should know? You know, since we’re dating and all.”

Marinette was surprised. But she dd think she owed him something “What do you want to know?” Marinette asked.

Adrien rubbed the back of his head. “Well, truth be told, Master Fu told me a lot about what’s going on already. But I want to know who everyone else is.” Marinette was shocked. “You and Vlad both know everyone else already. I kind of feel out of the loop.”

Marinette looked concerned. “Well, it’s not necessarily up to me” Marinette said. “I’d have to ask everyone.”

Adrien smiled. “I understand.” They both got a text. “Possible HM information. Meeting tomorrow?” “It’s from Vlad” Adrien said.

“We can meet tomorrow” Marinette said. They both texted Vlad about agreeing.

“There” Adrien said. “Now, with that out of the way, allow me to butter you up some more.”

“What is it this time, kitty?” Marinette said.

“Just for fun, bugaboo!” Adrien said. They spent the rest of the day hanging out in Adrien’s room.