Actions

Work Header

Checking Sources

Chapter Text

“Ladybug?”

Paris’ spotted heroine jumped slightly after being pulled from her thoughts. She’d been staring out over the city’s glittering lights, lost to the maelstrom of voices and recalled memories swarming her mind with a thoughtful (at least she hoped it was) frown on her lips. So much so, that she hadn’t noticed when her leather-clad partner had shown up to sit next to her on a night he was supposed to be taking off.

When the hell had he gotten there? She wondered, looking around quickly for any indication of how long she’d been stuck in her own head. 

“Hey Chaton, what are you doing out here? It’s my night to patrol.” She asked as another entirely panicked thought came to mind - that she’d been so dazed she’d missed the tell-tale signs of an Akuma.

But, before she could freak out any further, she took in Chat’s relative ease - or at least, he didn’t look like he was on the verge of jumping into a fight. He did seem apprehensive, though. She could tell in the way it tensed and squeezed his shoulders together like he wanted to be close, but wouldn’t dare come in contact with her.

Which made her wonder if she’d said or done anything recently to give him the idea he was overstepping his bounds. Or maybe he was mad at her for something? And wasn’t that just the icing on the cake that was her day? 

First, Lila had caused a major scene that got Marinette detention for the rest of the week (it all happened so fast, she barely remembers what the hell had even happened). Now she was having a panic attack over whether her partner was mad at her for something she didn’t remember doing? Who else was she going to piss off today?

“What’s your stance on sharing your identity?”

Panic attack on momentary pause, a dark brow shot up at the question, and if she wasn’t so wary of the way he’d said it with that uncomfortable look on his face, she probably would have been angry. But he seemed so off tonight that it was throwing her usual emotions for a loop. So, choosing not to go off on her partner, she sighed heavily, trying to keep her focus on him despite the bubbling irritation, “Chat, I’m sorry, but we’ve talked about this. Our identities are a secret for a reason.”

For the first time since he sat down (she thinks), she sees him glance her way if only slightly. The uncomfortable look on his face had softened a bit but he still has something unreadable in his eyes that makes Ladybug anxious, “So... you’ve never shared your identity? With anyone? Not accidentally or otherwise?”

If she didn’t know any better, she’d say his words were a little accusatory. 

Which, okay first off, what the fuck? And second, why was he suddenly giving her the third degree? 

Again, though, the entire display was throwing her and she knew she had to be rational about this. 

“No. Of course not. I promised you didn’t I? Once Hawkmoth was defeated, you would be the first person I told.” She stated as calmly and resolutely as she possibly can. She’d been clear from the start where she stood on the subject. 

As soon as the words left her mouth, Chat Noir visibly relaxed. Shoulders slumping and a breath heaving from his chest as he nodded, “Right. Right, of course.” He finally managed to turn to look at her and the discomfort was quickly hidden by a small smile.

The shift in his attitude was almost as disconcerting as his arrival.

“What is this about, Chatton?”

That smile faltered a bit as he looked away from her again, “There’s this-” he began but his words died before he shook his head, “No, it’s - it’s nothing. Sorry for bothering you about this. It was stupid.” 

Chat made to stand, but Ladybug caught his wrist before he could get away, “Obviously not if it brought you out here as upset as you looked. I know I can be a real stickler about the secret identities thing, but Chat, I’m not doing this to hurt you. I promise!” She implored, feeling like she’d missed something major. “If you’re being hurt or-”

Blonde hair flew as he shook his head quickly, “No, no. Nothing like that. Really. I know why you do. I won’t pretend it doesn’t suck, but I get it. Really, I do.” He tried to assure her, and while it did seem like he understood and he was being honest with her, he was still hiding something. Something that had driven him to come out and ask her these strange questions.

“Then what was all of this about?”

He had the decency to look apologetic at least as the corners of his mouth pulled up and he shook his head again, “It’s too personal - talking about it might give me away, Bugaboo, but I really am sorry about this. I didn’t mean to upset you.”

Ladybug’s eyes darted back and forth as she watched him closely, but eventually, hesitantly, she let go of his wrist and allowed him to get up.

The whole conversation left an unsettling anxiousness over her and a rather uncomfortable tenseness in the air between them as he backed away and saluted before she even had the chance to say anything - disappearing into the night.

That unease followed her home and through her restless sleep and when she woke up the next morning, she couldn’t help but let it consume her thoughts. Distracting her as she made her way to class earlier than usual.

Distracting her so much, in fact, that she almost didn’t notice the crowd gathered around two individuals crammed into her usual seat next to Alya giggling and talking loudly.

Almost.

As much as she hated it, Marinette had developed something of a sixth sense for the Italian exchange student Lila Rossi. A personal radar to warn her of the liar’s presence.

And it was going off big time.

It wasn’t uncommon for Lila to try and steal her spot when she could. Usually, it resulted in some sort of argument between Marinette and Alya when her supposed best friend defended the other girl for just wanting to hang out, and why didn’t she try being nice to the girl for once?

This time, though, Marinette was quickly made aware of three things:

1. Lila wasn’t alone.

2. Whoever this other girl was, she and Lila were already very close and that didn’t bode well for anyone - especially Marinette.

3. Adrien, who was an unfortunate captive in the crowd around his desk, looked really uncomfortable - more so than usual as he openly frowned at the desktop in front of him, trying not to associate with the things going on around him.

What the hell was going on? Marinette had only been gone from class for one afternoon! 

Alya was the first to notice her entrance to the class, giving her an unsure look from her seat (she had been pretty mad at her yesterday for whatever it was that landed her detention for the week), causing a ripple effect as Lila and her ‘guest’ looked up at her too, quieting down and catching everyone else’ attention.

The unfamiliar girl sized the noirette up before speaking, “Is this the girl you were telling me about?”

Lila put on her biggest, fakest, puppy-dog eyes and nodded softly, watching Marinette like she might lunge at her any second now. 

Like parting the red sea, the unfamiliar girl stood from her place at Marinette’s desk and the crowd around her gave her room to move, allowing her to make her way to stand haughtily before her. The girl was a tad taller than Marinette, but the platform sandals she wore made it so Marinette would need to look up at her slightly. She had dark, almost black, shoulder-length hair that hung loosely, but the color of her brows made it clear that it wasn’t natural. She’d dyed it, recently too, if the lack of root discoloration was any indication.

Marinette watched her approach with a raised brow, unimpressed by the superior gleam to the girl’s blue-green eyes.

“I heard you’ve been bullying my best friend.” She said, authoritatively, her hands propped on hips clad in Gabriel branded jeans.

There was a collective gasp among her classmates like this was some big reveal in a soap opera. 

The class rep merely blinked a moment, brow still raised because who the fuck even was this girl and why was she squaring up to her like she even had a chance? Actually, no, she didn’t care.

“I’m sorry, who are you?” Marinette asked, but her tone gave away how few fucks she actually gave about the girl’s answer.

“For your information, it’s Bianca. I just transferred yesterday. But don’t change the subject. I’ve heard that you’ve been bullying my best friend Lila.”

Before Bianca had a chance to say any more, Marinette gave her a deadpanned look, “Well, sorry to inform you, but your best friend is a liar.”

Lila could immediately be heard breaking out into sobs somewhere in the background but Marinette was quickly losing interest in this conversation. 

“I don’t think she is. I think you’re the liar. In fact, I think people like you are what’s wrong with Paris. Always trying to hurt others so they get Akumatized and I have to clean up your mess.”

I’m sorry, what? 

That had Bluebell eyes snapping to focus on the girl in front of her. Interest piqued. 

“I’m giving you one chance. Stop being a menace to society or my partner and I will take action.”

There was quite a bit to unpack from that. Like... a lot. Menace to society? Partner? Take action?

Who did this girl think she was? Ladybug?

The one thing that seemed clear to Marinette after reviewing the word choices in her own head a few times, was that this was not a friendly recommendation.

“Are you threatening me?”

She probably should have sounded a little angrier. In fact, anything would have been better than bored. But she just couldn’t find the energy. 

A triumphant smile spread over Bianca’s face, as she disregarded the lack of fear in Marinette’s voice, “I don’t threaten people. But that is a promise.”

Marinette was left to blink at her a little longer. 

Because what even was happening here? What on earth had she done that the universe saw fit to drop this steaming pile of bull on her morning?

And why did it feel like the girl was hinting at something she wasn’t picking up on? Why was her body telling her that she needed to react while her brain was taking its sweet time to catch up with everything?

“Dude,” someone from the peanut gallery stage whispered, finding it in their heart to give her a helping hand, “That’s Ladybug!”

Lila shushed them loudly, “Guys, not everyone is supposed to know! We don’t know who we can trust!”

Oh.

oohhhhh!

Wow. When she’d made that comment in her head before, she’d been joking but... seriously? Did she really just?

“You’re Ladybug?” Marinette asked, wanting to clarify and make absolutely certain that she hadn’t just imagined that last forty-five seconds of her life.

Bianca’s chin raised, literally looking down her nose at Marinette, “Normally I wouldn’t share that information with someone like you.”

Behind her, Adrien stood from his seat looking absolutely livid, but Marinette barely had a moment to even register the malice in the gaze he pointed at Bianca before - 

Pfft...

Marinette covered her mouth with her hand to stop it, but nothing could hold back the onslaught now. 

They were giggles at first, tumbling from her in waves as she tried to clear her throat and treat this seriously. But before long, she couldn’t help it. She was laughing out loud, doubling over, completely ignorant (maybe not completely, but she didn’t care at this point) to the looks of confusion on the faces around her.

She made the mistake of looking back up at Bianca and that only renewed her laughing fit until it literally brought her to her knees, clutching her sides as she laughed so hard she cried.

Fucking cried.

It was a solid five or six minutes before she could breathe again. Sitting back up, wiping the tears from her eyes, she beamed at the girl standing awkwardly before her, “Wow. Thanks. I really needed that.”

She cleared her throat, clearly unsure of the strange behavior. She couldn’t blame her for that. “I don’t see what’s so funny.”

“All of it. Really.” She stood up from the floor, making a show of dusting off her pants before turning her full attention back on the girl. 

Because this was going to be fun.

“So, Ladybug, tell me this; if I’m such a menace to society, why would you entrust me with a miraculous?”

Bianca's smirk faltered, her eyes darting over to Lila for a moment, both of them looking a little lost for words. As was everyone else for that matter.

Even Alya, whose mouth hung open at this revelation. But the reporter flew to her phone, swiping quickly, "when?! There were no new heroes! How do we know you're not lying?"

Oh good. They were playing right into it. One thing you could always count on with sheeple... they always follow.

"Huh, well, then I guess if you can’t believe me at my word, it would be pretty easy to fact check." Her tone was a bit forced on those words and the reporter had the decency to look taken aback, "You could always just ask Ladybug, here."

"Well I-"

"Or you could ask her partner. Seeing as how he saw me transform."

Bianca's mouth snapped shut. It was still hit or miss whether or not Marinette was bluffing. And it's easy to claim something like that when the only other person who could confirm or deny the facts was not present.

This had been Lila’s game the whole time. The difference was, Marinette wasn’t lying.

But neither of them could take that chance.

Because neither of them knew what she knew.

And Ladybug was definitely in this room, but it wasn’t who they all thought it was.

"I asked her to give you a chance. Because I wanted to help you. I thought being a hero would make you a better person. But you just kept bullying me!"

"E-exactly."

Ah, so they were going to go this route, hmm? She could work with that. And given Lila’s proclivity for being Akumatized, maybe she could mess with Hawkmoth too while she was at it. 

Because it was only a matter of time before someone was targeted.

"How very generous of you, Lila," She said in her sweetest voice possible, but even to her own ears, it sounded fake. How did Lila keep this up all the time? “But, that’s not what you said on the tower when we fought that Akuma together.”

"What did you think I would say when you were obviously unfit to be a Hero! I didn’t want to risk you turning on me.”

“You didn’t think I was unfit when I helped save you and Chat Noir.” This time, it felt a little more realistic when she put the hurt look on her face, glancing away.

In the process, she caught sight of Adrien giving her a strange look. One she couldn’t really put a name to. But it was different than all of her other classmates. Why did he seem so much more confused than the others? 

The girl scoffed, "leave my partner out of this." She demanded, and it felt like a desperate attempt at redirecting the conversation. 

Fine. She could work with that too.

"You... do know that your 'partner' is my best friend, right?" She turned an apologetic look to Alya she only half meant, "sorry Als, but - you know," Marinette pointed between the two of them indicating the distance that had grown between them. They weren't nearly as close as they'd used to be. And while they were still friends, Marinette had a hard time categorizing her as her 'best friend'.

And the implication wasn't wasted on the reporter either. She was left staring wide with bewilderment and hurt. But Marinette was less positive it was because of not being best friends anymore and more that she hadn't told Alya that she spent time with one of the heroes she loved to chase.

"My partner would never hang out with someone like you."

God, she was just a broken record, wasn’t she? Did she really still think she was bluffing?

With a scoff and a soft shake of her head, Marinette pulled her phone from her pocket and swiped through her pictures until she found what she was looking for.

She wasnt trying to be smug about the way she flipped her phone around so she could show the class, but she definitely couldn't help the little smirk that pulled at her lips as the class gasped again, pulling closer so they could study the photo.

A photo of her and Chat Noir sitting a little too close together on her chaise lounge. Marinette sticking her tongue out at the camera, while chat gave the overly kawaii victory peace sign over his left eye like he was straight out of an anime. It was one of her favorites. They'd spent nearly the whole night binging on shows together after a particularly stressful day. The pictures had been a side effect of too much sugar, not enough sleep, and good company. And for some reason when Chat found out she’d been Multimouse, that increased her ‘coolness factor’ and they had something in common.

Of course, she couldn’t tell him that wasn’t the only thing they had in common.

Either way, it had brought them closer together as friends and they hung out often. 

Which was a reprieve given that most of her friends had abandoned her anyway. 

As Bianca stared a little blankly at the picture, a number of voices all began to pick up around them.

"You're actually friends with chat noir? That's so cool!"

“Does that mean you hang out with the other heroes too?”

“What is Chat Noir really like?”

"Wait, then that means you really were a hero? I thought heroes had to keep their identities secret."

That’s the one she’d been waiting on. Quickly silencing the others with a pointed look back at Bianca, "They do. But I'm not a hero anymore, am I Ladybug?"

"I-I..."

"Why was it again that I’m not allowed to be Multimouse again?" She put a thoughtful finger to her chin, but she felt her own fire building in her core, “I’m pretty sure it was nothing to do with being a menace to society.”

She tapped her chin a few more times, looking around deep in thought. Catching another glimpse of Adrien studying her carefully, but she refused to let his perfectness distract her because fuck these people.

Fuck the high road.

If he was going to be mad at her for standing up for her alter-ego then fuck him too.

But he didn’t seem mad. 

In fact, as soon as she locked eyes with him, a slight smirk pulled at his lips. It was roguish and totally out of place on his angelic face, but goddamn did it do things for her.

But the smirk paired with the slightly raised brow aimed at her said, ‘Yes, what did Ladybug say?’

It’s sarcastic and playful and familiar in ways her heart is not ready to admit.

But that would have to come later.

Marinette spun back to the imposter, narrowing her eyes dangerously, "Oh right! Because I'd accidentally revealed my identity to Chat Noir. Because identities are supposed to remain a secret."

"W-well th-there are exceptions!" Bianca tries to defend, but Marinette isn’t going to let her.

“No, I think you, just like your supposed best friend, are a liar. You’re not Ladybug. You don’t know a damn thing about Ladybug. Because if you were, you’d already have been beaten. You’ve been in this classroom all of what, one day? And the entire class already knows your ‘identity’? We’re all lucky you aren’t one of the heroes, otherwise, Hawkmoth would already have won!”

She was fuming now. All of the emotions finally catching up with her. She thrust an accusatory finger at Bianca, making the girl stumble back slightly, “You don’t know a damn thing about what it takes to be a hero. What they have to sacrifice to keep people safe. Besides, Ladybug and Chat Noir don’t even know each other's identities - why the hell would Ladybug share something like that with a classroom full of people who’ve been Akumatized at least once and not share that with her own partner?!”

Whatever fear she’d instilled in the new girl quickly swapped for something much closer to fury as she reclaimed her balance and advanced on Marinette with a fire burning in her eyes. “How dare you call me a liar, you little fucking brat!” 

Surprised at the outburst, Marinette didn’t move when she saw Bianca raise her hand to strike her, instead, closing her eyes and bracing for the blow.

A blow that never connected. 

A gasp brought Marinette to peak open her eyes before they widened at the scene.

Bianca stood where she had previously, hand raised and poised to strike. But just behind her, Adrien had moved - impossibly quick, seriously when the hell had she gotten up? - and grabbed the girl’s arm, hand clutching tightly at her, keeping her still.

“A-Adrien!”

“That’s enough.” He hissed at her, voice low and threatening. “If it wasn’t clear before, it definitely is now. You’re not Ladybug. She would never raise a hand to a civilian like that!”

“B-but - !” Lila tried to come to her ‘friend’s’ defense but was silenced when he shot her an equally terrifying look.

“I’ve had enough of you trying to turn everyone against Marinette. I knew you both were lying when you ‘accidentally’ revealed Ladybug’s identity to me yesterday, but I didn’t have proof to prove it. You’ve been lying to everyone about everything!”

Wait... The way he’d said accidentally... why did it seem so familiar? 

Her thoughts of the blonde-haired, green-eyed model were very suddenly replaced with thoughts of a similarly blonde-haired, green-eyed superhero who’d come looking for her on his night off, asking if she’d ever ‘revealed herself, accidentally or otherwise’.

“Adrien! Y-you’re hurting me!”

Marinette’s eyes were drawn to the boy’s hand, still tightly clutching Bianca’s in a vice grip that would likely leave bruises.

But that’s not what she was focused on. Instead, it was the familiar shape of his silver ring that drew her eye. Familiar because she’d seen him wear it since the first day she’d met him and never took it off. 

Except for the day they’d done the shoot for her website.

The day she and Chat had to switch Miraculouses.

Adrien.

Adrien was Chat Noir.

Her kitty had been there the entire time.

That’s why he’d been so angry. That’s why he’d looked so upset. That’s why he’d come looking for her and asking such strange questions!

Because Lila and her lackey had chosen the one person who’d know for a fact that they were lying.

And if she thought she couldn’t love him any more than she already did, she was sorely mistaken.

“What is going on in here?!”

Great. of course the teacher would walk in then.

She didn’t pay much attention to the chaos that ensued after Madame Bustier had walked in the room. Lila and Bianca had claimed Marinette attacked and Adrien had stepped in to help her and they were both sent to the hall because a number of people started speaking up and coming to their defense, suddenly not blinded by Lila’s lies any longer.

But now, she was standing in the hall next to her crush and her partner

“I’m so sorry Marinette.”

Her thoughts came to a startling halt as she turned wide eyes on him.

“I shouldn’t have ever told you not to call her out. I was stupid. I just hope you’ll forgive me someday.”

Marinette couldn’t help the smile that pulled at her lips, because how could she not have noticed? Model or not, that was the heart of her partner beating in that beautiful body of his. 

“There’s nothing to forgive, Adrien. Besides, at least you checked your sources.” She chuckled, finding so much irony in that statement. If he hadn’t come looking for her, she probably wouldn’t have put it together.

He turned a confused look on her.

The smile she turned on him in return was brighter than she’d given anyone in some time, “I told you, didn’t I? You’d be the first to know.”

Chapter Text

Adrien.exe has stopped working.

Your Adrien ran into a problem and needs to restart. We’re just collecting some error info, and then we’ll restart for you.

0% Complete.

Yesterday, Adrien Agreste was having a - maybe not terrible, but certainly not a great day

Being yanked from bed at zero-dark-thirty for a surprise photoshoot after being up half the night catching up on homework from the previous day was bound to put him in a sour mood.

  Then, getting to school to find the class in disarray after some sort of drama had unfolded, landing one of his closest friends kicked out of class for the rest of the afternoon and in detention for the rest of the week certainly didn’t make his mood any better.

And of course, this new drama had left the class divided over said friend’s supposed change in character.

10% Complete

What a load of bull.  

People didn’t just change like that. Not really. And Marinette wasn’t the type of person to ‘fake’ being nice just so she could get away with bullying someone else. Marinette wasn’t a bully, period .

And okay, maybe he didn’t know Marinette all that well, at least as Adrien, but he knew her well enough as Chat Noir to know that the only change in character around here worth being worried over was the addition of a liar to their class hell-bent on making things miserable.

This was really getting out of hand.

He’d recommended Marinette to take the high road because, at the time, it had been harmless white lies. Things meant to make the new girl look more important than she actually was. Some misguided attempt to make friends in a new place. He could sympathize with that.

Sure, some of the lies were maybe not as harmless - claiming to be Ladybug’s best friend was just asking for trouble, but he was sure that one was going to come back to bite her quickly enough that she’d learn that maybe putting herself on blast when a magical terrorist was out there, was a bad idea .

12% Complete

“Hey, Adrien!”

Inwardly, the model had groaned, suppressing an eye roll as best he could.

Speak of the devil and she shall appear.

This wasn’t how he’d wanted to spend his rare lunch at school - fielding drama from none other than the resident liar herself. But, before he’d been able to make a move, take a bite, pick up a book - anything to indicate he was too busy to give her the time of day, Lila Rossi had placed herself directly in his space on the bench next to him, cuddling up way too close to be considered anything but sexual harassment. 

“There’s someone I’d like you to meet!” she’d sung a little too happily - especially given the civil war she’d caused in the classroom.

If Adrien hadn’t been so focused on the ‘Bad touch! Bad touch!’ going off in his head, he might have noticed the other girl standing before him with a presence that, once acknowledged, demanded attention.

20% Complete 

“Hi, Adrien. It’s nice to meet you.” The unfamiliar girl smiled, something in her eyes flashing something that he caught, but couldn’t really understand, “Well, officially, at least.” She chuckled to herself at some sort of personal joke. 

The model eyed the girl for a while. 

She didn’t look familiar. But he worked with and met lots of people all the time.

“I’m sorry, have we met before?”

The new girl flashed a small grin and conspiratorial look at Lila, “You... you could say that.”

Lila cleared her throat from his side, “This is Bianca Esposito. She’s just transferred into our class today from another school.” 

Ah. So Lila was trying to corrupt them as they came in now?

Great. He could only hope this one would be quick to see the lies for what they were.

“Just transferred, huh?” He tried to sound interested - because, despite Lila, this girl had done nothing to warrant his ire, and he wasn’t about to drive her any further into Lila’s clutches if he could help it. “Where are you from originally?”

“Here, actually. I’m from Paris. I was just at another school in the city. But something about this school made me want to transfer.” 

Was that a meaningful look she was giving him? She was putting a lot of unspoken emphasis behind her words that he wasn't really making a whole lot of sense of, “Oh yeah? Like what?”

Her smile broadened at being asked, “Well my best friend, for one.” She gestured to Lila with a look he’d only ever seen Alya give Marinette when they’d been the bestest of best friends. “Lila and I have been besties for a long time.”

25% Complete

Oh.  

Well... that could either spell the end of all the stupid drama in the class as Lila had a ‘true friend’ to spend time with or could be the beginning of something far worse.

Though, something deep down told him it was the latter.

Bianca studied him for a moment, looking between him and Lila who was still uncomfortably close, seeming torn about something before she sighed, “Look, I’m not really supposed to do this, but I wanted to apologize.”

“Bianca! We talked about this!”

He looked between the two of them, watching as they had some sort of unspoken conversation.

“No, Lila. It wasn’t right. I have to.” Bianca gave her ‘bestie’ a stern look before she turned back to him, “Adrien, one of the last times you and I,” her eyes trailed away for a moment as if literally looking for the right words to say, “ met - I acted really immaturely and said something I didn’t mean. And I wanted to apologize for that.”

Okay - now he was really lost.

Because in no way did his memory include a confrontation with this girl. He may not remember every face and name, but he remembered confrontation. Mainly because of how often he tried to avoid it if possible. 

So what on earth was this girl talking about?

His confusion must have been written all over his face because she looked around to check for something before getting closer and dropping her voice, “You know - the park? I... I called Lila out saying we weren’t friends?”

That sounded familiar. His brain was working double-time to pick up what she was laying down for him. And it was not being very helpful.

He definitely remembered a confrontation happening like that. Someone had come to discredit Lila about being their best friend as well as a lie about being a superhero.

But that hadn’t been this girl. 

That had been - 

No.

30% Complete

Understanding registered in his gaze, eyes widening slightly, making the girl - Bianca - chuckle, “Figure it out? I guess it is a little hard to recognize me, huh?”

So many emotions whirled up on him at that moment. 

Sure - there was that little traitorous part of him that was immediately elated. Because maybe this was his Lady - there were only three people (that he knew of) who knew about what had happened in the park that day. And maybe this meant - 

But just as quickly as joy had filled his chest, so did a foreboding sense of distrust and betrayal. Because if that really was Ladybug who stood before him unmasked - she’d broken her own golden rule. She’d shared her identity with him . Not Chat Noir . And while they were the same person, Ladybug had promised Chat would be the first to know her identity. And this wasn’t exactly what he’d always pictured when he would eventually (hopefully) find out.

They hadn’t defeated Hawkmoth.

This was not a moment of celebration between the partners who’d sacrificed so much for the safety of the city.

And never ever in his dreams of their reveal, was Lila Rossi ever present.

Not to mention, Ladybug had made it abundantly clear how much she distrusted Lila. And okay, fine, maybe someone could chalk that whole thing up to a spat between friends, but that wasn’t like his lady at all. 

At least... he didn’t think so. 

It wasn’t what he’d come to know of her. She did some things that were maybe a little questionable sometimes, but so did he. But taking out her frustration on a friend using her powers? That wasn’t like the Ladybug he knew.

And Lila had made it clear she wasn’t a fan of Ladybug either.

Something was very wrong here.

Either he didn’t know Ladybug nearly as well as he’d thought, or this was not Ladybug. 

"Like I said though, I'm not really supposed to be saying this." Her words had brought him out of his thoughts and back to reality as he watched her wink and put a finger to her lips.

“Then why did you?” Adrien found himself asking because he could not confirm or deny anything yet. He couldn’t trust his mouth to not say the things clouding his head.

“Because I trust you, and I wanted to clear the air.” She answered simply.

35% Complete

Apparently, that trust was extremely cheap to attain, because most if not all of the rest of his classmates knew before the end of the day. He would hear them whispering in lulls during class, hushed mentions of ‘Ladybug’ spreading like wildfire around the room.

Which had only soured his mood further.

It wasn’t like he minded if she shared her identity with people she trusted - but if this was the real Ladybug, she hadn’t spoken a peep of this to Chat Noir. And there was that little voice in the back of his head constantly droning on and on about how this meant that he was nothing more than a sidekick to her. 

She didn’t trust him. 

He didn’t actually know her the way he thought.

And lastly, but probably the most distressing: Ladybug is a liar.

But he kept pushing those thoughts away in the hopes that this wasn’t his lady. She wouldn’t actually do something like this. She wouldn’t discard him like this.

He had to believe that.

He had to trust that the Ladybug he had come to know was the truth. 

That’s how he’d come to the decision to drop in on her during her solo patrol.

To ask her point-blank.

40% Complete

“Ladybug?”

Paris’ spotted heroine jumped slightly after being pulled from her thoughts. Her head whipped around quickly after seeing him sit next to her, looking out around them for something. Probably trying to figure out how long she’d been zoning out for. 

Which was a while, actually, and on any other night and with literally anything else on his mind, he probably would have said something about it. 

“Hey Chaton, what are you doing out here? It’s my night to patrol.” She asked, surprise filling her face and tone.

Was this Bianca Esposito he was sitting next to? He found that he couldn’t look at her right away. He couldn’t look at her at all. And the build-up of anger and unease about this confrontation from the day made it hard to be in her presence. 

But he had to confirm it. “What’s your stance on sharing your identity?”

For a moment, out of the corner of his eye, he saw her tense up and her face clouded with something close to anger herself. But after a moment of watching him, she’d quickly swallowed that back and took a deep breath, “Chat, I’m sorry, but we’ve talked about this. Our identities are a secret for a reason.”

That sounded a lot more like the Ladybug he knew. He glanced her way, catching her staring at him. He was being unfairly suspicious of her. He knew that, but he’d been fighting those daunting thoughts all day that she wanted nothing to do with him and it was hard to immediately drop that. “So… you’ve never shared your identity? With anyone? Not accidentally or otherwise?”

A raised brow shot at him and maybe a little hurt in her own gaze as she stared back, “No. Of course not. I promised you didn’t I? Once Hawkmoth was defeated, you would be the first person I told.” She stated calmly and resolutely.

43% Complete

As soon as the words left her mouth, Chat Noir felt himself relax fully. Shoulders slumping and a breath heaving from his chest as he nodded, “Right. Right, of course.” He finally managed to turn to look at her and the discomfort was quickly hidden by a small smile. 

He’d been such an ass to her. And he felt so bad for being suspicious but this had been something he needed to tackle head-on at the source.

“What is this about, Chaton?”

That smile faltered a bit as he looked away from her again, “There’s this-” he began but his words died before he shook his head, “No, it’s - it’s nothing. Sorry for bothering you about this. It was stupid.”

Because it was. Why would he have ever believed anything Lila or anyone calling themselves her ‘bestie’ said over his partner?

He’d let them get to him. 

45% Complete

Now the big question was what he was going to do about it. Because something had to be done. But he couldn’t risk exposing himself or Ladybug in the process.

Chat made to stand, but Ladybug caught his wrist before he could get away, “Obviously not if it brought you out here as upset as you looked. I know I can be a real stickler about the secret identity thing, but Chat, I’m not doing this to hurt you. I promise!” She implored, and if that didn’t just break his heart for making her think she’d done anything wrong. “If you’re being hurt or-”

Blonde hair flew as he shook his head quickly, “No, no. Nothing like that. Really. I know why you do. I won’t pretend it doesn’t suck, but I get it. Really, I do.” He tried to assure her, but he knew he was doing a terrible job. It had been such a long and emotionally draining day. He needed some time to come up with the right way to make it up to her.

“Then what was all of this about?”

He gave her the most apologetic look he could muster, the corners of his mouth pulling up as he shook his head again, “It’s too personal - talking about it might give me away, Bugaboo, but I really am sorry about this. I didn’t mean to upset you.”

Ladybug’s eyes darted back and forth as she watched him closely, but eventually, hesitantly, she had let go of his wrist and allowed him to get up and make a quick escape.

Something he hated to have to do. And the guilt ate at him the rest of the night, making it near impossible to sleep. So he’d tried putting his mind to better uses - coming up with ways he could disprove the fake Ladybug before things got out of hand.

Because he knew they would. 

50% Complete

The next morning was tiptoeing somewhere close to “terrible day” real quick and he’d only been in class for fifteen minutes.

It had taken all of three minutes of entering the classroom for Lila and her ‘bestie’ to proffer the seat behind him like they owned the place and start holding court.

For every student that entered, he found another obstacle blocking his ability to get up from his seat and escape - until he was literally trapped there; listening to the liar and the fake reminisce over their friendship and answering all the questions their classmates hurled at them.

All the while, Adrien was becoming increasingly angry.

Because how dare they ?

That was his partner they were lying about! 

And listening in only made him angrier. So angry, in fact, he’d been shocked when that anger didn’t earn him a black butterfly. That shock only lasted a moment, because the rational part of his brain knew he needed to calm down before one actually showed up. 

He had to do something .

But what could he say or do that Marinette hadn’t already tried?

Oh god… Marinette…

Things were only going to get worse for her now, weren’t they? With the imposter, Lila’s lies would only become more credible. And with ‘Ladybug’ backing her up, there was no telling what kind of trouble they’d get Marinette into.

Nino was his best bro. Always would be. Aside from Ladybug herself, Marinette had become his best friend . They shared something he only dreamed he’d be able to share with Ladybug some day.

He knew, because she’d told him, that she wasn’t as close to her friends at school anymore because of all the nonsense with Lila. So he’d been trying harder to be her friend both in and out of the suit. He’d tried standing up and speaking out more about the lies Lila told.

Not that it did much good. He was brushed off just as often. People just happened to be nicer about how they did it to him than they did to Marinette.

Adrien had been so caught up in his spiraling thoughts that he’d almost missed the quiet that swept over the crowd around him. 

Almost.  

57% Complete

Looking up from his stare-off with the tabletop, green eyes immediately zeroed in on what had quieted the room. Or, rather, who .

Marinette stood staring at the group. The confusion evident in the way she examined what must look like quite the strange gathering around what was supposed to be her seat.

“Is this the girl you were telling me about?”

Oh no…  

Quickly, Adrien glanced over his shoulder, taking in Lila as she put on her biggest, fakest, puppy-dog eyes and nodded softly, watching Marinette like she were a wild animal ready to strike.

This was exactly what he’d been afraid of. 

He had to come up with something quick! And he was running out of time to get up and actually do anything as the crowd that blocked him in only got denser as Bianca was given a wide berth to exit the seat she’d helped steal.

64% Complete

To her credit, though, Marinette merely watched the girl’s approach with a raised brow, seeming unimpressed by the superior gleam to the new girl’s blue-green eyes.

“I heard you’ve been bullying my best friend.” She said, authoritatively, her hands propped on hips in a way that demanded respect. Like the way an adult demanded respect from a child. Which just wasn’t a good look on her - even when she was pretending to be someone she wasn’t.

“I’m sorry, who are you?” Marinette asked, but her tone was… well - quite frankly, she sounded like she had better things to do.

“For your information, it’s Bianca. I just transferred yesterday. But don’t change the subject. I’ve heard that you’ve been bullying my best friend Lila.”

Before Bianca had a chance to say any more, Marinette gave her a deadpanned look, “Well, sorry to inform you, but your best friend is a liar.”

Lila could immediately be heard breaking out into sobs behind Adrien and all he wanted to do was turn around and yell at her to cut it out. But that wasn’t going to help Marinette. It would only make it worse.

68% Complete

“I don’t think she is. I think you’re the liar. In fact, I think people like you are what’s wrong with Paris. Always trying to hurt others so they get Akumatized and I have to clean up your mess.”

Uh… Excuse the fuck you??

That had Bluebell eyes snapping to focus on the girl in front of her. Interest suddenly looking piqued. 

“I’m giving you one chance. Stop being a menace to society or my partner and I will take action.”

Okay, one - go fuck yourself . Two, this wasn’t how Ladybug and he operated! This wasn’t how this worked. How was everyone still so caught up in this girl’s lies?!

“Are you threatening me?”

Even while trying desperately and failing to keep a handle on his own rage, Adrien found it… off that Marinette seemed even more disinterested in this than she had been even in the beginning. She wasn’t getting riled up or anything!

A triumphant smile spread over Bianca’s face as she disregarded the lack of fear (or emotion in general) in Marinette’s voice, “I don’t threaten people. But that is a promise.”

Marinette was left to blink at her a little longer - his dear friend looking lost and completely bewildered at what was happening. 

“Dude,” someone from the crowd stage-whispered, probably thinking they were helping, “That’s Ladybug!”

Adrien fought the visceral need to yell back how stupid they all were for buying this bull.

Only for Lila to shush them loudly, “Guys, not everyone is supposed to know! We don’t know who we can trust!”

Fuck you and everything you stand for Lila Rossi.

73% Complete

“You’re Ladybug?” Marinette asked, and Adrien knew he had to do something.

And at this point, it didn’t matter what he did (except for maybe revealing himself, because that was literally going to make all of this so much worse), because he’d let this go on long enough.

The blonde stood from his seat, intent on pushing everyone out of the way if he had to. Hell, he would pick them up and toss them out of his way if necessary. But he wasn’t going to let his best friend sit here and think that Ladybug was threatening her.

He was pissed Lila would go this far. And he would get her back ten-fold when all this was over.

But this was ending right here, right - 

Pffftt…

Adrien froze as Marinette covered her mouth with her hand to stop the snort that cut through the silent tension building around the two at the front of the class.

Then watched in confusion that likely mirrored the rest of the class as she broke out into giggles first, then full-on belly laughs that echoed through the classroom. She was laughing out loud so hard that she doubled over clutching her stomach like she might be sick, and only laughing even harder when she glanced up at one point. 

Before long, she was almost literally rolling on the floor laughing and Adrien wasn’t sure if he should worry or join her.

75% Complete

She laughed like that for a solid five minutes.

Which was… Honestly, it was impressive.

Eventually, the laughing began to die until the designer was left wiping the tears from her eyes as she beamed at the girl standing awkwardly before her, “Wow. Thanks. I really needed that.”

Huh. 

In the wake of her unusual reaction, there was something Adrien caught in her eyes as she stood up and brushed off her pants. 

A spark. A gleam that sent an involuntary shiver down his spine.

It was determined and sharp. Like a fencing match won before the second move. Absolutely disastrous for whoever it was used on. 

He’d seen that spark before. It was so familiar and yet so foreign on his friend’s face. But he knew it . Where had he seen it before?

And then she spoke - and if the look was disastrous, the tone was damn-near fatal, “So, Ladybug, tell me this; if I’m such a menace to society, why would you entrust me with a miraculous?”

Wait… what? That’s… that’s not what he’d expected her to say. Not that he really had any clue how any of this was going to go in the first place, but outing herself like that?

Most everyone had similar looks of confusion and shock, so luckily he blended in.

79% Complete

“When?! There were no new heroes! How do we know you’re not lying?”

Oh, right - in the heat of all of this, Adrien had nearly forgotten about Alya. And this was probably going to be a much larger shock for her than anyone else. Her best friend being a hero, and the hero she thought she’d been fawning all over the last day or so being a fake.

“Huh, well, then I guess if you can’t believe me at my word, it would be pretty easy to fact check.” Her tone was a bit forced on those words and the reporter had the decency to look taken aback, “You could always just ask Ladybug, here.”

“Well, I-”

“Or you could ask her partner. Seeing as how he saw me transform.”

Thankfully, Adrien didn’t flinch too much when she referred to his alter-ego. Because that would have been a dead give away. But he was still confused as to why Marinette would tell everyone she’d been a hero? He’d been the only one (besides the real Ladybug) who’d seen her detransform. And he couldn’t exactly come to her aid as Chat Noir right now.

Not to mention - in time, he may have even been able to talk Ladybug into letting Marinette try again as a hero, but that couldn’t happen now. 

She’d also never boasted about it before. Even when he came to talk to her about it a few days later, she didn’t say a whole lot about being a hero - he’d practically had to coax her reaction out of her!

So why now? Why this? What the heck was she planning that had her looking more and more confident with each passing comment?

81% Complete

“I asked her to give you a chance. Because I wanted to help you. I thought being a hero would make you a better person. But you just kept bullying me!”

“E-exactly.”

“How very generous of you, Lila,” She said in a syrupy tone that sounded nothing like her, actually, it was a little creepy, “But, that’s not what you said on the tower when we fought that Akuma together.”

“What did you think I would say when you were obviously unfit to be a Hero! I didn’t want to risk you turning on me.” Bianca argued loudly.

“You didn’t think I was unfit when I helped save you and Chat Noir.” She grumbled, actually seeming upset as she looked away.

In the process, she caught sight of him watching her, and they studied each other for a moment. He couldn’t give himself up, but he wanted so desperately to ask her what she was doing. Which probably looked like a strange combination of emotions on his face since her brows pulled together as she watched him.

The girl scoffed, "leave my partner out of this.” She demanded, and it felt like a desperate attempt at redirecting the conversation. Marinette seemed to think so too as she turned back to study the girl again.

Ugh, but If he had to hear this girl call him her partner one more time…

86% Complete

“You… do know that your ‘partner’ is my best friend, right?” She turned an apologetic look to Alya she only half meant, “sorry Als, but - you know,” Marinette pointed between the two of them, and the model was glad he didn’t have a clear view of the reporter because he could feel the guilt wafting off of her from where he stood.

“My partner would never hang out with someone like you.”

Yup. There is was. God, what he wouldn’t do for an Akuma to beat up right about now.

With a scoff and a soft shake of her head, Marinette pulled her phone from her pocket and swiped through her pictures until she found what she was looking for.

Still very angry, Adrien hadn’t meant to allow the blush to overtake his face (not that anyone else seemed to notice, thank god). But the moment she smugly flipped her phone around so she could show the class what was on her device, he definitely couldn’t keep the heat from traveling down from his head to his toes as the class gasped again, pulling closer so they could study the photo.

The photo they’d taken together - she and Chat Noir cuddling close on her chaise lounge. Marinette sticking her tongue out at the camera, while gave a victory peace sign over his eye. It was one of his favorites. He had a copy saved to his phone as well.

90% Complete

As Bianca stared a little blankly at the picture, a number of voices all began to pick up around them.

“You’re actually friends with chat noir? That’s so cool!”

“Does that mean you hang out with the other heroes too?”

“What is Chat Noir really like?”

“Wait, then that means you really were a hero? I thought heroes had to keep their identities secret.”

Apparently, that’s the question she’d been waiting on, because she quickly silenced the others with a pointed look back at Bianca, "They do. But I’m not a hero anymore, am I Ladybug?”

And he suddenly understood what she had planned. He knew exactly why she’d said the things she did.

"I-I…”

“Why was it again that I’m not allowed to be Multimouse again?” She put a thoughtful finger to her chin, looking innocent, “I’m pretty sure it was nothing to do with being a menace to society.”

She tapped her chin a few more times, looking around deep in thought. Locking eyes with him briefly before moving on. But her eyes found him again not a moment later, and he really couldn’t help the smirk that pulled at his lips, anger almost entirely receding.

Because she was a goddamn genius .

And it was all he could do to not jump in on her perfect scheme for outing a liar and an imposter in one go.

93% Complete

She studied him again for a moment, but just as quickly, Marinette spun back to the imposter, narrowing her eyes dangerously, “Oh right! Because I’d accidentally revealed my identity to Chat Noir. Because identities are supposed to remain a secret.”

“W-well th-there are exceptions!” Bianca tried to defend, but Marinette was already in a parry .

“No, I think you, just like your supposed best friend, are a liar. You’re not Ladybug. You don’t know a damn thing about Ladybug. Because if you were, you’d already have been beaten. You’ve been in this classroom all of what, one day? And the entire class already knows your ‘identity’? We’re all lucky you aren’t one of the heroes, otherwise, Hawkmoth would already have won!”

Was it wrong that he suddenly found angry Marinette really attractive?

Probably, right?

Right.

95% Complete

Marinette was advancing on her opponent, finger jabbing accusingly at Bianca and making her stumble a bit, “You don’t know a damn thing about what it takes to be a hero. What they have to sacrifice to keep people safe. Besides, Ladybug and Chat Noir don’t even know each other’s identities - why the hell would Ladybug share something like that with a classroom full of people who’ve been Akumatized at least once and not share that with her own partner?!”

And didn’t that just send all kinds of tingles over his body…

Marinette was a spitfire. He’d known that from his time as Chat, but hearing her come to his defense like that, well, it was hard not to admire the fire she exuded.

That was until Adrien recognized a similar if not more destructive heat burning in the imposter’s glare as she found her footing and reclaimed her advance on Marinette instead.

He had to move. 

Now .

“How dare you call me a liar, you little fucking brat!” 

Adrien didn’t even try to push past his stock-still classmates. Instead, he lept over his desk smoothly sliding over the wood and pushing himself so that he hit the ground just as Bianca had raised her hand to strike her intended victim. 

Not happening. Not now. Not fucking ever .

Without much effort, Adrien caught Bianca’s wrist before she could move, holding her tightly and making her wince with the force of his grip. Because he was not being gentle. 

No, Akumas who had no control over their emotions got ‘gentle’. 

He would not hesitate to destroy her if she lunged for Marinette again.

97% Complete

“A-Adrien!” Bianca cried out in surprise.

“That’s enough.” He hissed at her, voice low and threatening - not really recognizing his own tone, but not entirely caring either. “If it wasn’t clear before, it definitely is now. You’re not Ladybug. She would never raise a hand to a civilian like that!”

At least, not without good reason. But he wasn’t about to say that out loud.

“B-but - !” Lila tried to come to her ‘friend’s’ defense but was silenced when he turned and shot her an equally terrifying look.

“I’ve had enough of you trying to turn everyone against Marinette. I knew you both were lying when you ‘accidentally’ revealed Ladybug’s identity to me yesterday, but I didn’t have any proof to prove it. You’ve been lying to everyone about everything!” He snarled, and he was starting to wonder if he’d accidentally transformed with the way he felt himself bristle in anger.

“Adrien! Y-you’re hurting me!”

He turned to say something maybe a little ungentlemanly , but before he could, Madame Bustier walked in the class, “What is going on here?!” She shrieked, bag and class assignment papers falling from her hands as she took in the scene.

Oh, this was just fantastic .

99% Complete

In the chaos that followed, Adrien and Marinette had been sent out to the hall while Madame Bustier got the story from the other students. 

But the only student he cared about was the one standing outside right next to him. 

“I’m so sorry Marinette.” He said, trying not to mutter because he needed to say it, but finding all the guilt suddenly rearing its ugly head when left alone with her.

She was his best friend. Why hadn’t he tried harder to stand up for her?

“I shouldn’t have ever told you not to call her out. I was stupid. I just hope you’ll forgive me someday.”

Marinette watched him a moment, eyes wide, but soon replaced with a gentle smile that pulled at her lips. “There’s nothing to forgive, Adrien.” She said, shrugging as if it were the most obvious thing in the world, “Besides, at least you checked your sources.” She chuckled, finding something funny in what she’d said.

Wait…

He turned a confused look on her.

Checked his sources? What did she mean by…

The smile she turned on him in return was brighter than she’d given anyone in some time, “I told you, didn’t I? You’d be the first to know.”

 

100% Complete

Restarting Adrien Agreste…

“Adrien? You… you okay there?”

Wide-eyed and jaw hanging open, the blonde blinked a few (several) times as he was brought back to the present, having to take a moment to remind himself how to: a.) breathe, b.) speak, c.) remember his own name.

Adrien was his name.

Right. Of course. Cool. 

Now if only he could do the other two things, he’d be set!

Marinette watched him with a strange (read: adorable ) mixture of amusement and concern that had her biting her bottom lip and pulling it into her mouth while she watched and waited for him to react. Probably to keep herself from laughing at him. And he should feel some way about that, but he couldn’t stop staring at her lips and wanting to be the one biting them and - 

AND BREATHE DAMMIT.  

Oh right.

He’s supposed to be doing that thing.

Giving in to the screaming need for oxygen, Adrien sucked in a deep breath, allowing for it to slowly ease back out of his mouth as he continued to watch his classmate with wide, unblinking eyes that were really starting to sting and water.

As he’d reached the end of his exhale, though, his voice began to function again as little breathy chuckles started to escape him. A smile had begun to grow over his lips and as the chuckles turned to giggles and full-on laughter, and his eyes watered more, he was beaming as he clutched at his sides.

He was smiling so large in his laughing fit there was no reason for his eyes to be watering this much - oh no, those are tears

And he was shaking. And not because he was laughing. 

The laughter didn’t petter off though, even when he swung around and gathered the girl in his arms, lifting her up, and spinning them both around in the empty hallway until she was laughing along with him. The combined sound between them so exuberant and joyful, not a single care for the world outside of the two of them at that moment.

He spun them until he was dizzy and even then he couldn’t be bothered by the tilting sway of his world because he’d set her down and she was blushing like mad and beaming up at him with those bright blue eyes that were always so familiar and-

Oh my god…

Trembling hands moved from her arms up to her face, cupping her cheeks gently; fingers brushing against the stud earrings she never took off. “My Lady?” His tone was soft and questioning, and no one could possibly blame him for that because this was an absolute dream and he was terrified of waking up.

She chuckled back at him, soft tender gaze looking absolutely radiant as she lifted a hand to brush away the remains of tear streaks from his cheek, “What’s the matter Chaton? Cat got your tongue?”

Adrien’s eyes widened once more because he will never not love hearing her call him that without a mask, but also she just punned and it’s doing things for him.

But none of that mattered. There was only one thing Adrien wanted to ask her at that moment.

“Can I kiss you?”

There’s surprise in her expression but she doesn’t look upset by the request. In fact, there is a playful gleam in her eye as she smiled at him now, “I’d be offended if you didn’t.”

Let no one ever say Adrien Agreste made it a habit of offending ladies.

His Lady.

His partner.

His best friend.

All wrapped up in this one amazing girl, who tilted her head up, eyes fluttering shut so sweetly, cheeks tinted the most adorable shade of pink.

God he almost forgot how to breathe again.

Which was absolutely fine. Because, as soon as he leaned in, lips pressing softly to hers, he realized with startling clarity that he would spend the rest of his life having his breath stolen away by this girl and he would revel in every moment of it.

“Ahem-”

The sound of someone clearing their throat brought the two of them out of their little bubble, making them part slightly, but Adrien refused to let her get very far out of his grasp, to look back to the classroom door.

Where half the class piled up nearly on top of one another to gawk at them.