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One Brain Cell Between Three People

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1. From an akuma

“So, Ladybug!” Chat Noir says brightly. “If you’ve got any brilliant plans to get us up to Sauron out there, I’m sure we’d love to hear them!”

Ryuuko doesn’t have a clue who Sauron is, nor how it relates to the massive tentacled monster with one gigantic red eye that’s resting on the tip of the Eiffel Tower. They’ve tried coming from all angles, but the akuma’s eye seems to have a full three-hundred-and-sixty-degree field of vision, because it always sees them coming and bats them away as easily as swatting mosquitoes.

“Why do I have to come up with the plans?” Ladybug grumbles. Chat Noir’s cheeky grin widens.

“Because you’re the brains, milady, and I’m just the humble clown.”

“Your brain was working just fine against Miracle Queen!”

Ryuuko tunes out their banter as she peeks around the corner of the wall behind which they’re hiding. Her brain leaps from idea to idea like arcs of lightning, zapping each one to a crisp when she picks out the flaws, because all of them rely on not being seen and there’s no way to accomplish that against this akuma. It seems to have flawless superhero senses, because it always sees right past the terrified civilians to pick out the superheroes –

Wait…

“I have an idea,” Ryuuko announces. Her teammates’ banter immediately dissipates. “The akuma is ignoring anyone who isn’t directly working against it. It’s almost like it just wants to keep surveillance on everyone.”

“You could say it wants to keep an eye on people,” Chat Noir says cheerfully. Ladybug sighs and facepalms.

“Low-hanging fruit, kitty,” she mutters. Ryuuko just raises an eyebrow and waits for them to finish.

“If we want to get close, we need to not be what it’s looking for,” she says.

“Like sneaking into Le Grand Paris disguised as a pizza delivery person because that’s not what Chloé Bourgeois is expecting you to be even though she knows you’re trying to get back something she stole from you?” Ladybug says. Chat Noir blinks.

“That’s, uh…incredibly specific,” he says. “And I’m not sure I want to know why. You were saying, Ryuuko?”

Unlike Chat Noir, Ryuuko does want to know the context behind Ladybug’s very specific example, because it’s exactly the kind of thing that Marinette would do. The thought of her girlfriend brings a small smile to her lips, just as when she thinks about her boyfriend Adrien. It’s a pity they aren’t superheroes, to be honest; they’d be fantastic, but Ryuuko’s not in any position to make suggestions, so she keeps this to herself.

“Different,” Ryuuko finally manages to say. “We need to not look like superheroes.”

“Disguises!” Ladybug jumps from foot to foot. “I’m so good with disguises! I’ve snuck into the hotel! And a party everyone threw for the guy I liked who’s now my boyfriend since I wasn’t allowed in for being a girl –”

“Why, milady, if your boyfriend didn’t recognise you beneath your strong disguise, he can’t be that much of a keeper,” Chat Noir says.

“My boyfriend is very much a keeper, thank you very much!” Ladybug huffs. “He’s one of the smartest people I know! Apart from Ka – uh, my girl –”

“Akuma,” Ryuuko interjects. Ladybug and Chat Noir jump.

“Right! Akuma!” Ladybug unslings her yo-yo. “There was a costume store on the next street over! For disguises!”

Getting to the store takes far longer than it should, but since there’s a giant eye in the sky, Ryuuko’s sure they could be forgiven for having to be extra slow and cautious. Once Ladybug’s shut the doors behind them and dragged over a chair for good measure, the three of them get to work browsing the multitudes of costume clothing and accessories to find the best pieces to conceal their most obvious features.

“I wish all akumas could be this fun,” Chat Noir beams as he tries on a cowboy hat. “They’re all get out there, get the crap beat out of us, milady comes up with an amazing plan, we’re done. Not that I don’t love the times I get to see Ladybug, of course.”

“I know what you mean,” Ladybug says. Ryuuko slaps a hand over her mouth to smother her giggles at the sight of Ladybug, hero of Paris, wearing a massive blue feather boa and round glasses. “We’ve been doing this for so long that it’s become…monotonous, you know? The only real variety is my Charm.”

“Not the akumas?” Ryuuko says as she selects a long blonde wig, then shudders and replaces it after a moment. Too similar to Chloé Bourgeois. And while they might both be rich girls with mother issues, Ryuuko refuses to think of herself as anything like that spoilt brat, especially after the stunt she’d pulled as Miracle Queen.

Okay, so Ryuuko doesn’t actually remember that, and Chloé does apparently have some semblance of a heart, but still. Ryuuko’s not known for her forgiveness, especially with how much nastier Chloé’s been since that incident.

“Milady! Milady!” Chat Noir yanks out a ladybug-patterned onesie. “I could be you!”

Ladybug snorts. “In your dreams, kitty. You could never be me.”

“But I was once!” Chat Noir tilts his head like a curious kitten would. “Remember?”

“Yes, and you were just amazing at it,” Ladybug says dryly.

“You weren’t any better, Lady Noire!”

“Excuse me? I was perfect!”

“Explain the Cata – uh, power mess-up, then!”

“I still had to figure out the Luc – the Charm!”

“And I could’ve told you not to dust the sentimonster!”

Ryuuko just ignores their arguing this time. Maybe it’s better for them to get it out now, so that they’re focused when facing the akuma. She loses track of time as she sifts through the costumes, wondering why she’s even being so picky in the first place since it’s just to disguise herself from an akuma. Then again, Kagami Tsurugi would never be caught dead in a clown costume, even as Ryuuko. Maybe it’s a good thing to have more refined tastes.

“Hey, guys!” Ladybug says. Ryuuko turns to see Ladybug picking up a large box, having dumped its contents on the ground, and she grins and drops it over her head. “Look, I’m a bug in a box! The perfect disguise! He’ll never know it’s me under here!”

“Come on!” Marinette’s whisper is marred by giggles as she holds out boxes to Adrien and Kagami. “Let’s hide from your bodyguard in these! He’ll never know it’s us under here!”

In that moment – by the silliest way possible – Ryuuko suddenly knows. Now there’s a name to the face beneath the scarlet mask; the face with the bright blue eyes and freckles, framed by pigtails – pigtails! – and currently wearing the same silly smile that Ryuuko has seen a thousand times as Kagami and looks forward to seeing a thousand times more.

Oh, it’s too bad that she can’t tell Adrien that he’s dating Ladybug. His massive superhero crush on her is more obvious than the fact that there’s next to nothing in that pretty head of his. Actually, that’s not fair; Adrien is very smart, but he’s also one of the densest people that Kagami has ever met. Being with him is just like working with Chat Noir, who’s got a very sharp mind when it’s needed –

“Does this make me the Chat in the Hat?” Chat Noir says as he dons a top hat and Ladybug’s laughter grows louder.

– but is also far more of an idiot than anyone has the right to be. It’s a wonder that poor, bi Kagami didn’t trip over herself around Chat Noir like she did with Ladybug, considering how similar he is to Adrien –

Ryuuko freezes. No. No way. There’s no way all three of them could be that lucky; that Marinette and Adrien, Ladybug and Chat Noir, were pining for each other this whole time, that Ryuuko fell for the two people who happened to be the heroes of Paris, that there’s a reason why Chat Noir showed her so much care after she was Oni-Chan and why Ladybug was so sweet and understanding of her failures as both Kagami and Ryuuko –

“– something picked out, Ryuuko?” Ladybug’s – Marinette’s – voice pierces the fog that’s descended on Ryuuko and shrouded her thoughts with realisation after realisation as she combs through every memory of her interactions with them. “I mean, this has been really fun, but we probably should get back to doing actual superhero things.”

Ryuuko takes a deep breath to ground herself. She’s far better trained than this; she shouldn’t allow herself to be so distracted during a mission. “Yes, I’m ready,” she says and grabs the first armful of cloth and accessories that she can find. She can fall apart later. Right now, she has a job to do, and she’s not going to let her partners down.

2. From Paris

Kagami loves her boyfriend and girlfriend. She really does. But there are times where she wonders if being with them is worth the constant emotional turmoil that they always seem to put her through.

“The fattoush looks good,” says Adrien, who’s seated across from Kagami. The fact that he’s wearing a hideous straw brim hat and sunglasses so appalling that they would give his father an aneurysm on the spot is the source of Kagami’s current agony. “But I’m tempted to go for the kibbeh, just because Father would die if he knew that I was eating something fried.”

“Do it,” Marinette says immediately. Kagami’s pain is compounded by the fact that her girlfriend is wearing a pair of glasses with a large fake nose and moustache attached, along with a sickeningly horrible pink poncho. But then again, for a budding fashion designer to wear something so awful? Maybe she’s smarter than Kagami had first thought.

Of course she is, says a traitorous little voice in Kagami’s brain. She’s Marinette. She’s Ladybug. But even being Ladybug isn’t enough to save her from Kagami’s judgement. Why couldn’t Adrien and Marinette have just worn an oversized hoodie like she did?

Okay, so it’s Adrien’s oversized hoodie, and the smell of him envelops her like a warm hug whenever she ducks her face down beneath the collar, but still.

“Done,” Adrien says and slams his menu down. The couple at the next table over stare at him, but his disguise seems to work because they might think he’s a weirdo, but they don’t appear to think that he could be Adrien Agreste. “What about you, Gami?”

As always, Kagami’s insides flutter at Adrien’s use of his and Marinette’s nickname for her. She clears her throat and squints down at her menu, which may as well be written in English what with how nothing seems to compute in her brain, and she blurts out the first thing she sees. “Shish barak.”

Marinette wrinkles her nose. “Sure, if you’re into yoghurt.”

“Does that mean you’re gonna steal just my food?” Adrien complains. “Maybe I should order the shish barak too, so you leave my food alone.” He’s promptly shut down by Marinette giving him a quick kiss on the cheek.

“No, you’re getting the kibbeh,” she says.

“Yeah, I’m getting the kibbeh,” Adrien parrots robotically. Marinette smiles sweetly.

“And I’ll have the djaj mashwi,” she says, while Kagami ponders the merits of slamming her head on the table at the sheer display of Ladybug and Chat Noir energy from her two oblivious idiots. “I’m in the mood for chicken.”

Kagami pushes all thoughts of clobbering her partners’ heads together away as Adrien plays foot wrestling with her under the table and Marinette waves a waiter over to order. For now, she’s just going to enjoy this silly date in their silly disguises.

3. From Lila

She’s everywhere.

She’s hanging off Adrien on his way to fencing. She’s tangling their legs together when she crashes their study dates. She’s smothering the air around them with her cloying citrusy perfume as she laughs far too loudly at Adrien’s joke during a friends’ hangout.

And there’s nothing that Adrien can do about it. If he does one thing that even hints at defiance, Lila Rossi will go running straight back to tattle to his father like the venomous little muse she is. Even the fact that Adrien’s taken – by two people – has done nothing to dissuade her. If anything, she takes this as an open invitation.

“Oh, this kind of thing is very common in Italy!” Lila had crooned one day when Kagami had – very politely, in her opinion, since no swords were involved – asked her to please take her hands off Kagami’s and Marinette’s boyfriend, thank you very much. “It was so good to learn that Adrien had two girlfriends! There’s so much love in his heart…and so much room for more…”

It’s a sunny afternoon after school when Kagami finally snaps. Not at Lila; no, she knows very well what Gabriel would do in retaliation if his precious spy was hurt in any way. Rather, as soon as fencing is over and she’s changed out of her sweaty gear, she barges into the boys’ bathroom with her heavier-than-usual fencing bag.

“Kagami!” Adrien yelps and slaps his hands over his nipples. Kagami rolls her eyes.

“You don’t have breasts, Adrien,” she says with every ounce of patience that she’s had to curate since learning her partners’ secret identities. “And it’s nothing that Marinette and I haven’t seen before. Speaking of Marinette, hurry up and get dressed.”

“Why?” Adrien hurries to throw on his top, further confirming Kagami’s suspicion that he’s started changing after fencing as slowly as possible to put off the moment he has to leave and be accosted by Lila. “Is she hurt? Did Lila or Chloé throw her over the balcony or something?”

“Not yet,” Kagami mutters. She rummages in her fencing bag for Adrien’s oversized hoodie that she’s…ahem, delayed returning. Because she has definitely intended to return it. Eventually. Which is now. “She’s letting Lila…spout hot air? Is that the saying?”

“And you left them alone together?” Adrien snatches his hoodie and tries to yank it on so quickly that his head ends up caught in the sleeve with his arm. Sighing, Kagami helps him correct his mistake while trying as hard as possible not to let her fond smile at her boyfriend’s dorkiness slip through.

“Marinette can handle herself.” Kagami fishes out a pair of sunglasses and a green baseball cap. “It’s Lila I’d be worried about. In any case, she’s keeping Lila occupied, but there’s only so much threatening and bragging that Lila can do before she grows bored.”

“Then what’s –?”

“We’re sneaking you out. Come on.”

Kagami tugs Adrien over to one of the tiny windows in the bathroom. Then, in one smooth movement, she crouches and cups her hands for Adrien’s foot. Gritting her teeth and drawing on every bit of athletic strength she has, she propels Adrien up to the window and locks herself in place so that he can pop the latch and push the window open.

“Damn it!” Adrien curses when the locker room door opens. Kagami prays it’s not –

“Adrien?” Lila’s sickly-sweet voice echoes in the locker room. Thank goodness for bathroom doors, or she’d have caught them in a heartbeat. “Where are you? I didn’t see you walk out.”

With newfound fervour and a boost from Kagami, Adrien grabs the windowsill and propels himself upwards. He almost doesn’t fit – Kagami holds her breath when he ends up stuck halfway out and curses – but then he forces out a loud breath of air for just that little less abdominal width and manages to slide fully out the window. Kagami just has to assume that he’s fine and has no serious injuries from his landing, although being hurt would probably be preferable to him over dealing with Lila.

She gives it to the count of ten, then flushes a random toilet and washes her hands before pushing the bathroom door open. Lila immediately materialises in front of her.

“Kagami! Hi!” Lila says with a very fox-like smile. “I wasn’t expecting you to use the boys’ bathroom.”

Kagami shrugs. “After you called me a boy with boobs the other day, I figured it shouldn’t matter if I used the boys’ bathroom. There’s really no difference except for the urinals. And the stench. I wouldn’t recommend it.”

“Oh, I was only teasing.” Lila sounds like she was doing anything but. “Where’s Adrien? He’s usually finished changing by now.”

“I don’t know,” Kagami says with another shrug. “He’s not in the bathroom either, though. You can go and see for yourself.”

Before Lila can take up any more of her precious time, Kagami brushes past her and out of the locker room. As soon as the door swings shut behind her, she lets her giggle break free into her hand and pulls out her phone to check in with her accomplices – er, her partners. Now she truly understands the saying “being bad has never felt so good”.

4. From an akuma take 2

“I seriously want to know what goes through Hawkmoth’s mind half the time,” Misterbug complains. He deflects a burst of pink perfume with his yo-yo, then ducks so that Lady Noire can jab Princess Fragrance with her staff. “Like, remember the days we thought he was Mr Agreste? And then I realised ‘no, he can’t be, because Mr Agreste at least has some creativity!’”

Ryuuko isn’t sure whether she wants to pat Misterbug on the head in agreement or slap him to get his head back in the game. To be fair to Hawkmoth, Puppeteer had been one of his most powerful akumas with her ability to control someone if she has a doll or similar representation of them, so akumatising her for a third time isn’t too foolish of a move. And considering that Ladybug and Chat Noir merchandise is very widespread, the decision to swap their Miraculouses like with Reflekdoll had been inevitable. Ryuuko’s never been more grateful that she’s not considered a steady enough temporary hero to have merchandise made of her, so there’s no way for Puppeteer to control her.

If she’s honest, Ryuuko can’t really scold Misterbug for not fully focusing. Not when she has to spend a whole mission with her girlfriend in a tight black catsuit. And while Ryuuko is very much asexual, only a fool would deny the sheer beauty of Marinette Dupain-Cheng with a long braid and a suit sculpted to her body and an uncharacteristic smirk on her face that’s much more reminiscent of Chat Noir than Ladybug. If Ryuuko had even an iota of artistic skill, she’d spend hours just trying to capture Marinette’s beauty in all forms, starting with the feline goddess who’s just managed to trick Silencer and Jackady into hitting each other. Silencer immediately starts to cluck like a chicken, while Jackady frantically starts shuffling his cards, trying to make his power work without his voice.

“Heads up!” Tortue Verte’s shield whizzes over Lady Noire’s head and nails Darkblade right in the face. She whoops and punches the air. “Strike! I could so get used to this.”

“As hot as you look in my colours, babe,” says Foxtrot, using his flute to keep panther Animan’s jaws away from him while he’s sprawled on the road, “I kinda miss Rena. And using the shield. Never thought it’d suck to have merch of me.”

Knowing that Ladybug is Marinette, Ryuuko’s almost certain of the identities of Tortue Verte and Foxtrot, aka Rena Rouge and Carapace. But considering that they’re in the middle of a battle and there are several brainwashing akuma puppets, she buries that thought very deep down and instead focuses on deflecting one of Reverser’s paper planes with her sword. There’ll be time later to muse on secret identities, when they’re not in the heat of one of the most chaotic battles that Paris has ever seen.

5. From Gabriel

Death is far too good for Gabriel Agreste.

“Breaking up with Adrien is the last thing we’re going to do,” Kagami says as Marinette sobs hysterically into her chest on the soft pink chaise. The anger simmering beneath her skin is almost at boiling point, threatening to bubble over and explode out of her, and her crying girlfriend is the only thing keeping her grounded. One of them has to be on the lookout for akumas, and it’s most definitely not going to be Marinette in her current state.

“B-But you heard M-Mr Agreste,” Marinette chokes out. “He’ll p-pull Adrien from school. And – your m-mother – we’re j-just a d-distraction to you – he said she told him –”

“Rubbish.” Kagami runs her fingers through Marinette’s hair and presses a soft kiss to her head. So many years of being hard, of compartmentalising her irrelevant and distracting emotions to please her mother, to live up to the Tsurugi name, and then she’d met the boy and girl of her dreams and now she’s alive, and she feels so strongly, and no one is going to take this away from her. What is honour if it means turning her back on those who need her? On those she cares about?

“B-But –”

“No. Marinette, listen to me.” Kagami cups Marinette’s cheek and guides her face up. The sight of her girlfriend’s red-rimmed blue eyes is enough for the poisonous rage inside her to almost break free, but she forces it back down as though it’s a rabid animal on a leash. If Marinette gets akumatised, all is lost; not only because she’s Ladybug, but because she’s one of the kindest, sweetest, most amazing people that Kagami has ever had the fortune to meet. And if Kagami gets akumatised, the emotional toll of having to defeat and purify her will more than likely be too much for Marinette to bear after everything else that’s happened today.

“Kagami…?”

Kagami blinks and shakes her head to clear her tumultuous thoughts. Later. She can process her own emotions later. For now, Marinette needs her.

“I’ve never been more focused since meeting you and Adrien,” Kagami says. “And if Mother even tries to argue, I have a whole presentation prepared. I’m serious. I have it saved on my flash drive.”

Marinette lets out a weak giggle. Kagami basks in the glow of this laughter, as tiny as it is, because it’s tangible proof that, as awful as she can be interacting with other people, she’s improving. She knows enough to support one of the people dearest to her.

“Mother might not have been happy, but she didn’t try and interfere,” Kagami continues. “She said that so long as my focus did not waver, she would give me her tentative blessing. I suspect that Adrien’s father has spoken to her and persuaded her that you are a negative influence on me and Adrien. That will change once I talk to her.”

“And…Adrien?”

“We’ll work it out.” Kagami leans in and leaves a soft little kiss on the top of Marinette’s nose, and she’s rewarded with another watery yet musical giggle. “The only thing we’re not going to do is break up with him. That will crush him. We’re going to tell him exactly what his father said.”

“We can’t!” Marinette jerks back and almost topples backward off her chaise, if not for Kagami’s arms around her. “Mr Agreste will pull him out of school and he’ll never get to see his friends again and he’ll know it’s all my fault and he’ll be unhappy for the rest of his life and end up turning to evil and working with Hawkmoth and we’ll never marry him and have three kids – more if you want them but I want three and they’ll be Emma and Hugo and Louis – and a hamster called –”

“How do you even have enough breath to say all of that?” Kagami says, trying not to pass out just from following Marinette’s catastrophising ramblings. Marinette laughs rather hysterically.

“It’s a gift. But we can’t tell him! He’d refuse to break up and I’d be responsible for him losing everything!”

“Shouldn’t he have that choice?” Kagami says. “Everyone around him tries to control him. Adrien deserves to be able to make that choice. And this isn’t solely on your shoulders. We’re both dating him.”

“But…how do we talk to him?” Marinette whispers. Now she’s slumping against Kagami with fluttering eyes, as though she’d just participated in an extremely strenuous bout of fencing and is two minutes from passing out. Considering her anxiety-ridden ramblings from just before, she probably has exerted that much energy, just mentally rather than physically. “His father will never let him out. We’d have to stand at the front door, and he’d know as soon as we tried to talk to Adrien.”

“We default to our usual plan.” Kagami gently untangles herself from Marinette so that she can cross over to Marinette’s wardrobe and start rummaging inside. “Disguises.”

“But what good is that going to do?”

“Plausible deniability. Adrien’s bodyguard is a very firm ally, but even he can’t ignore direct orders. However, if he allowed Adrien out to talk to some friends instead of his girlfriends…”

“Of course!” Marinette breathes. Kagami is suddenly tackled from behind and is forced to throw her hands out and grab the sides of Marinette’s wardrobe to prevent herself from faceplanting. “Gami, you’re a genius! I love you, I love you, I love you!”

The poisonous anger that had been burning through Kagami’s body dissipates at Marinette’s words and gives way to soft warmth, like the sun is shining inside her. Once her legs are steady underneath her, she turns and wraps her arms around Marinette, who’s now trying to plaster every inch of her face with kisses.

“I had to bring something to this relationship, didn’t I?” Kagami says. “You and Adrien are far too chaotic to be left alone. Come on, help me pick out some disguises so we can go and talk to Adrien.”

+1

Kagami had never imagined that Hawkmoth’s defeat would go this way.

It was supposed to be glorious. A fantastic final battle full of clashing superpowers and pumping adrenaline.

But no. Adrien had caught a glimpse of Nooroo – Hawkmoth’s kwami – during a visit to his father’s office to confront Gabriel for his stunt regarding Marinette and Kagami and trying to break the three of them up. From there, it had been far too easy for Ladybug and Chat Noir to simply sneak in and steal the Butterfly Miraculous after Adrien had somehow slipped some sleeping pills into his father’s expensive whiskey.

(Or rather, Plagg had done that part, but Kagami’s not supposed to know about her boyfriend being Chat Noir, so she’s considerately refrained from pointing out the flaws in the “official” story).

Gabriel and Nathalie – aka Mayura – had been arrested the following day. In the wake of their arrests, Kagami had thought that Adrien would jump at the chance to be done with them and pretend they never existed. But her boyfriend had proven that, despite the years of emotional abuse he’d been forced to endure, he’s still got one of the biggest hearts that Kagami has ever seen.

“I love them,” Adrien had whispered into a midnight three-way cuddle, finally allowed to crack and break down after so much time fearing the consequences of emotional vulnerability. “After everything they did to Paris…to me…there’s a part of me that still…I don’t want to forgive them, but I don’t want to hate them. I just want them to…not be. You know?”

And that leads to now. Kagami, Alya, and Nino have been gathered in Adrien’s temporary suite in Le Grand Paris, where he’s been staying until his bodyguard can be awarded permanent custody since Emilie Agreste had been laid to rest just days before.

“Thank you for coming,” Ladybug begins, wringing her hands. “I know that there wasn’t really a final battle or anything –”

“Pity,” Nino mutters. “Been looking forward to smacking that guy in the face for years.”

“– but I still wanted to thank you for stepping up and putting yourselves on the line,” Ladybug continues, while Chat Noir’s lips twitch at Nino’s comment. “I trust the other heroes, of course, but you three are, well…I’d trust you with my life. And with what Chat Noir and I are about to reveal.”

Chat Noir’s lips quirk again, but it’s hollow. A small part of Kagami wonders if it’s appropriate for her to know exactly why, when even his own superhero partner doesn’t know.

“Even though Hawkmoth and Mayura are gone, there’s still so much to do with the Miraculouses,” Ladybug says. “Petty crimes, little acts of goodness…and figuring out how to do this whole Guardian thing. Part of that is not leaving the kwamis locked up in the Box for centuries. So, now that Hawkmoth is gone, and identities aren’t an issue anymore…”

Alya almost faints when Ladybug retrieves the Fox Miraculous from her yo-yo and holds it out. She stretches her hand out to take it, pauses with her fingers right above the golden chain, and she only snatches it away and hugs it to her chest with squeals of ecstasy when Ladybug smiles and nods. Nino actually yanks Ladybug in for a tight hug when she gives him the Turtle Miraculous before letting go to talk to the turtle kwami that had materialised, just as Alya is currently chatting away to the fox kwami so fast that her words are almost just a buzzing sound.

It takes every ounce of willpower for Kagami to not lose her composure and shriek when Ladybug presents her with the Dragon Miraculous. Instead, she forces herself to contain the energy that’s vibrating beneath her very skin, and she bows her head and accepts the choker from her masked girlfriend.

“Greetings, Kagami-san!” Longg says once she’s appeared in a flash of red light. “I am thrilled that you are to be my permanent holder!”

“As am I, Longg-sama,” Kagami says with a smile and holds out a hand for Longg to settle on.

“Now that that’s out of the way,” Ladybug says when Kagami, Alya, and Nino have finally exhausted themselves from excitement, “Chat Noir and I have something that we want to tell you.”

Chat Noir reaches out and takes Ladybug’s hand with a small smile. Alya looks like she’s going to burst with excitement, but that’s nothing compared to her reaction after Ladybug and Chat Noir utter their next words.

“Spots off.”

“Claws in.”

As soon as their transformation lights fade, it becomes painfully obvious that they hadn’t revealed themselves to each other before this moment. Alya’s screaming – muffled into a pillow to avoid security rushing up to them – and Nino’s wordless gaping are to be expected. What’s not expected is the way Marinette and Adrien take one look at each other, then squeal and jump apart.

Oh my god, it’s you!” they bellow. Their kwamis, meanwhile, are doubled over in mid-air with laughter.

Dude!” Nino holds up his hands with the look of someone who’s doing ten equations at once in their heads while being utterly awful at mathematics.

My best friend is Ladybug!” Alya shrieks. “Since when? How the hell didn’t you two figure it out from being together? Is that why you gave me the Fox? And missed class all the time? And all the times you flaked – you were off being Ladybug – my best friend –”

Kagami just stands in the centre of this storm and smiles down at Longg.

“And you!” Alya jabs a finger at Kagami. “How the hell did you manage to land Ladybug and Adrien Agreste? Tell us mere mortals your secret!”

“You’re not even surprised?” Marinette splutters. “How did you –?”

“Because unlike others in this room…” Kagami takes a step forward and leans in. Marinette and Adrien lean back with wide eyes and pink cheeks. “I have a brain cell.” Then she leans back and savours the mixture of indignation and awe on her partners’ faces. She might pay for this later, but for now? She’s going to savour this sweet, sweet victory while she can, before Marinette and Adrien team up to punish her.

She won’t complain too much, though. She’s sure they’ll work out an appropriate punishment…like kissing her until her brain melts. She can live with that.