Ladybug wanted to cry. She and Chat Noir had just fled the (awful, everything went wrong) fight with Techno Pirate, and now they stood frozen in the sewer as they watched the news footage about Paris. So much was destroyed, it was an unbelievable blessing that no one got killed.
“We waited too long to return to Paris,” she cried. “There’s nothing I can do anymore!”
She covered her face with both hands.
Chat Noir looked worried, but also a little confused.
“Can’t you just do a lucky charm when we’re back in Paris?”
Ladybug looked up, both angry at him and upset at herself.
“My power allows me to create a magical object that repairs damage caused by a specific villain, but the villain is already gone!”
Now Chat looked on the verge of tears.
“And there’s no longer a chance for repairs?”
Ladybug put her hands over her face again, shaking her head.
Chat Noir’s head bowed.
Ladybug was the first to walk away, hands dropping to her side.
Chat lifted up his hand wearing the miraculous.
“It’s all my fault. You were perfect as always! Knight Owl was right to want to confiscate my Miraculous. I left Paris without telling you; I ruined everything.”
He walked to the opposite side of the wall.
Ladybug listened, her heart and mind warring for the correct response.
Chat continued, “And if Uncanny Valley hadn’t been a robot, I would have caused irreparable harm.”
Ladybug closed her eyes, turning her head away. She was too tired right now, and she knew Tikki must be too.
Chat Noir followed suit.
Looking towards his beloved kwami, Adrien reached for his ring.
“Please forgive me, my friend.”
Plagg realized what he was about to do.
Adrien ignored him, though his heart twisted painfully as he did so.
“I renounce you, Plagg.”
That was not what Marinette had expected.
Adrien leaned down, hand reaching out from behind the wall and setting
his the ring down near his lady.
“I never want to risk harming anyone ever again. Least of all you.”
Marinette was going to cry again. Her kitty sounded so broken.
“Wait!” she gasped. ‘No no no, Chat Noir, don’t do this!’
“Tikki, Spots on!”
As soon as her transformation took over, she grabbed the ring and leaped out from behind the wall. She spotted a figure running away and threw her yoyo towards it. When it made contact, Ladybug pulled the string back, closing her eyes as soon as he came into view. Chat-as-a-civilian nearly slammed into her, and if she hadn’t been transformed at the moment, they would have both fallen into the sewer water. She wouldn’t have really cared to be honest, but right now she had more pressing matters to take care of. Chat pulled himself away as she untangled her yoyo.
She cut him off by reaching out (a little blindly since her eyes were still shut) and pulling him into a desperate hug, holding him as if he might run away again.
“Don’t ever do that to me again.” She whispered. “You made a mistake. We all make mistakes. And don’t you think for a second that I’m perfect. I’m far from it. In fact, I made a huge mistake the first time I became Ladybug, remember?”
Ladybug felt Chat relax a little, though not completely.
“But if Uncanny Valley hadn’t been an android-”
“That’s a load of crap and you know it.” She interrupted. “Remember how you got cataclysmed yourself before? Yes, it hurt like hell, but it didn’t kill you. And I know you had a magical suit, but so do these heroes! It would have done very little to them.”
She paused for a moment.
“At the most, I think it would have left them a tad bit under-dressed.”
Ladybug allowed herself a giggle and released Chat from her hold. Then, even though she knew she looked a bit ridiculous with her eyes still closed, she held out the hand containing Chat’s ring.
“Chat Noir I-don’t-know-you’re-real-name, this is the miraculous of the black cat. It grants the power of destruction. You'll use it for the greater good. Once the mission is over, you'll return the Miraculous to me- oh wait no! Sorry, I’m on autopilot.”
She took a deep breath.
“Chat, I know you didn’t want to purposefully hurt me or Paris by leaving. I’m sorry you felt like I couldn’t trust you. I was angry and I wasn’t thinking. So, forgetting the most recent events... Chat Noir, can I trust you?”
There was a moment of silence. Ladybug’s heart was thumping loudly in her chest. And then...
A hand touched hers, taking the ring. Suddenly, a rough, nasally voice spoke.
“Kid, why’d you do that!? Don’t ever do that again, you hear me!?!?”
“I’m really sorry Plagg. If it makes you feel any better, I really didn’t want to do it.”
“Well good. I mean, how am I supposed to get my delicious camembert otherwise?”
“Well, Plagg, it’s nice to... hear you again.”
Chat spoke up.
“Plagg, I think bugaboo wants her sight back, so... Plagg, Claws out!”
When the burst of green light faded, Ladybug finally dared to open her eyes. There, in all his stupid glory, was Chat Noir... flexing. Ladybug sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose. ‘Here we go again.’ But she couldn’t help it when she threw her arms around him in another hug, this one a little less desperate.
“I can’t be Ladybug without you, Chat. Never forget that, no matter how mad I get. And don’t hesitate to tell me if I ever hurt you like that again, even though I don’t think I’ll be so stupid as to repeat that.”
They parted once more. Suddenly, Ladybug remembered something.
“Chat, why did you come to New York?”
Chat looked sheepish. His hand traveled to the back of his neck in a nervous gesture that Ladybug thought felt oddly familiar.
“Well, you see, it’s French-American friendship week, right? So, um, my class had planned on coming here for the celebration, but uh, my father... he rarely lets me... really do anything that I want to do, so I didn’t think I was going to go. But then, this awesome friend of mine went to appeal to my father on my behalf, and, somehow, she did it.”
His face practically melted into a smile, whilst Ladybug’s was turning redder and redder as her brain simultaneously froze and exploded. ‘It can’t be, but it is oh no why isn’t he shutting up!?’
“She’s amazing,” Chat continued, apparently completely oblivious to his lady’s inner turmoil. “I’ve always thought she might not like me or something, because she’s always acting, I don’t know, scared around me? I really want her to feel comfortable around me, but I don’t understand what I’m doing wrong and-”
He was cut off by a mouse-like squeak from Ladybug. Her eyes were practically the size of saucers, and her hands were over her mouth. Chat was confused.
“Milady? What’s wrong?”
Ladybug let out another “eep!” before shaking her head.
“No-nothing! Nothing’s fine! Everything is wrong! I mean!”
“Wow, milady, you’re sounding a lot like-”
He froze, his mind racing. ‘Blushing, stuttering, same hair, bluebell eyes, lip-biting when nervous... no way, I can’t be that lucky.’
It was nothing more than a mere whisper, and if it weren’t for his enhanced hearing, he might have missed it. But he did hear it. Chat stared at his partner, his classmate, his first friend and first love.
She stilled for a moment, then nodded ever so slightly.
Ladybug covered her face.
Adrien couldn’t help it. He burst out laughing. Ladybug peeked at him through her fingers, then joined in, giggles turning to guffaws.
“You- you were right there the whole time!?” Adrien gasped out through his laughter.
“I turned you down for you!” Ladybug blurted out.
Ladybug let her laughter die out on its own, no longer caring.
Marinette Dupain-Cheng replaced Ladybug, though from what Adrien could see, the only difference was she was no longer wearing polka-dotted spandex.
“You heard me, kitty. I kept turning Chat Noir down because I was in love with Adrien.”
Adrien cocked an eyebrow.
“But how? When? I’ve loved you since the day we met, when did you fall in love with me?”
Marinette’s eyes grew distant.
“The day you gave me your umbrella. It was after the misunderstanding with the gum- which I’m really sorry about by the way-, it was raining, and I had forgotten my umbrella. You show up and say hello, but I’m still mad at you, so I look away. But then, you apologize and tell me how you were just trying to take the gum off. You look at me with your gorgeous green eyes and hold out your umbrella to me, and a peal of thunder booms. But there’s more. When the umbrella collapsed in my face, you burst out laughing, and I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. Your laughter could turn anyone to mush, Adrien. That was when I knew I was a goner.”
“You know, if you hadn’t apologized to me that day, it might have been Chat Noir I’d have been a stuttering mess around. Boy, would that have screwed up our ability to fight akumas!”
Adrien’s gaze was nothing short of adoring.
“What did I do to deserve you, bugaboo?”
“You were yourself, kitty.”
You would think a sewer wouldn’t be a very romantic place for a first kiss (or at least, one they’d both remember), and maybe it isn’t normally, but right there, in that moment, the kiss they shared was one of pent up longing and adoration. Each poured out all the love they’d been so scared to show. Adrien absorbed that love like a sponge. Marinette’s scent filled his nostrils, the fresh berries and vanilla like a beautiful summer day. She, on the other hand, conveyed how much she so desperately needed him by her side, and that she couldn’t imagine life without him. His minty scent reminded her of a crisp winter morning. They broke the kiss due only to their need for oxygen. Panting, they held each other, neither daring to speak.
“Ewww, seriously? A sewer?”
“PLAGG, they were having a moment!”
“But why do they have to have their ‘moments’ in front of me!? I need cheeeeese!”
“Aw, come on, Plagg! I just found out the love of my life loves me back; can’t you forget about your stinky cheese for one. second.”
A flushed Marinette touched his shoulder.
“It-it’s alright, Adrien. We should probably get back anyways.”
His arm rubbed the back of his neck.
“Yeah, you’re probably right.”
“Tikki, I only have a small cookie from the field trip. Will that be enough?”
Tikki smiled at her chosen.
“Of course, Marinette!” She replied, receiving the cookie gratefully.
Adrien blatantly stared.
“Wha- how did- why me!?” he spluttered.
Marinette tilted her head questioningly.
“What is it?”
“How come you get the nice kwami??”
“Oh, she’s just playing nice in front of you. Back home, it’s all ‘Marinette, I’d really like some raspberry macarons today’ or ‘Mmm, I think today I’d settle for a chocolate madeleine’.
Adrien turned to the little red kwami, eyebrows raised. Tikki, in turn, shrugged. At least it looked like a shrug. He couldn’t fully tell.
“What can I say?” Tikki said. “I have delicate tastes.”
“Ok, I see the resemblance to Plagg now.”
“Hey!” said kwami spoke up. “My tastes are at least refined.”
Adrien handed him a piece of camembert.
“Eat up, Plagg. Milady’s right, we have to get back.”
Plagg took the cheese, practically inhaling it. Tikki polished off her cookie. Marinette and Adrien turned to each other, wearing matching grins.
“Tikki, Spots on!”
“Plagg, Claws out!”
Ladybug and Chat Noir truly looked at their partners for the first time, taking it all in. Chat spoke up first.
“Wow. I knew you were the one.”
Ladybug’s cheeks tinged pink.
“We-well, you loved too- I mean! I knew I loved you too.”
“There’s the Marinette I know.”
Ladybug looked indignant.
“Let’s see if the ‘face of Gabriel’ can beat me back to our classmates.”
Chat had the gall to look affronted.
“Oh it’s on, bugaboo.”
And they were off, but not just back to their classmates. They were off to a new future. And though the future is uncertain, they would face it. Together.