Soulmate marks are unpredictable. Some people know the first words their soulmate will say to them. Others have their soulmate's last words imprinted on them. A few have the words that are said the moment they realize they're in love inked over their heart. Some have symbols or two different colored eyes, or maybe they're missing color, and some people can't even see color until the first time they meet their other half.
But Marinette didn't have any of those. In fact, Marinette didn't even have a soulmate. Not anymore. At least that's what she thought. Her soulmate, Adrien Agreste, was her best friend growing up. They had met when they were 11 and she thought he had put gum on her seat. She had hated him then. Thought he was just another version of Chloe. But then he had offered her his umbrella while standing outside of their school building and when their hands had touched their skin glowed. His fingertips burned an intense red while her hand had turned a blinding green.
He had laughed and said, "Well, I guess we're soulmates! Why don't we start over? Hi, I'm Adrien." Then he offered his hand to her and, after a brief pause, she reached out to shake it and the umbrella she was holding snapped closed around her. They both laughed and in their hearts, they knew that this was the start of a wonderful, everlasting friendship. So a few years later, when they were both 15, it was no surprise to Marinette when her partner, her kitty, turned out to be her best friend. Apparently a miraculous can block a soul bond. Plagg and Tikki (but mainly Plagg) had a field day when they discovered each other's superhero identities. Plagg wouldn't shut up for two weeks about how oblivious they both were.
"I fell in love with you twice, Minou!" Marinette had laughed. And she was right. It wasn't romantic love, not like the people of Paris theorized. Kwami knows they've seen too many magazines and newspapers print theories about their bond. But they were best friends. Best friends who loved each other more than anything else in the world. Marinette was glad Adrien was Chat Noir. She wouldn't have wanted it to be anyone else.
She was devastated when he died. He sacrificed himself to save Paris, to save her. The final battle with Hawkmoth didn't go quite as planned. Even though the Miraculous Team and a few of the younger superheroes from overseas had been there, they hadn't been able to save him. Viperion had been knocked out and couldn't reset the timeline and the rest of the team was preoccupied with the multitude of akumas Hawkmoth had created. Bunnix had shown up a few days after the battle and explained to Marinette that Adrien's death was a fixed event. The timeline couldn't be changed. The universe needed him to die. Bunnix's visit only broke her heart more -- there really was nothing that she could have done. Just like the two were destined to meet, Adrien was destined to die.
Hadn't they given enough? Hadn't they'd sacrificed enough for the sake of the universe? How cruel, Marinette thought, how cruel of the universe to take him too. He deserved better. They both deserved better. But there was nothing she could do.
The fight had been tedious. When Ladybug had been thrown into a wall, Hawkmoth had made a move to strike her while she was down, but Chat Noir jumped in to take the blow. Stabbed through the stomach with Hawkmoths cane, Chat Noir was left to bleed out on the ground while Ladybug desperately tried to retrieve the butterfly miraculous. When she had successfully beaten Hawkmoth with a well-used Lucky Charm and taken his miraculous she was not surprised to see Gabriel Agreste. The two had discovered his identity a few weeks prior after Plagg had accidentally stumbled upon a secret passageway underneath the floor of the Agreste Mansion.
With a cry of "Miraculous Ladybug!," Ladybug cast the cure and watched as ladybugs swarmed over her and her partner. She rushed over to Chat Noir as soon as her transformation dropped only to discover that he hadn't been healed.
"Tikki what's going on? Why didn't it heal him?"
Tikki put a comforting paw on Marinette's shoulder and looked at her forlornly, "Sometimes the cure can't heal injuries caused by another holder."
"But Hawkmoth has injured us before," she argued as tears ran down her face, "He punched Chat that one time and the cure healed him then!" Marinette sounded desperate now as she reached out to hold Adrien's hand tightly as she moved his head to her lap as he choked on his own blood. He had transformed a few moments prior and she could see Plagg floating near Adrien's shoulder out of the corner of her eye but she paid him no mind. She was focused on Adrien. She wanted to remember what his eyes looked like while they still held life in them.
"He used his cane this time. When a holder uses their weapon with the negative intention that Hawkmoth did it can cause permanent injury. If you were to use your yo-yo to harm someone or Chat Noir were to use his staff, the miraculous cure wouldn't be able to heal the person completely. It would likely leave a scar. But Hawkmoth has corrupted his and Nooroo's bond over these past few years. He only carries hatred and negative emotions in his heart which must have negatively reacted with the cure. There's nothing we can do." They all knew he wouldn't make it. There was too much blood spilling from his stomach and the injury had been caused by a magical object. If the miraculous cure, the most powerful healing magic in the universe, couldn't save him, nothing would.
"No," Marinette sobbed, "No! It can't end like this! We're so close, we've come so far. This isn't fair."
"I know, Marinette. I'm sorry."
Adrien lifted a bloody hand to her cheek, "It's okay M'Lady. We always knew it could end like this."
"No! It's not okay. He's your father! How could he- how could-" She couldn't finish her sentence. There was no point in reminding him of his father's failings now. She didn't want their last moments together to be spent discussing the man who killed her best friend.
"I know," he had tears in his eyes but was struggling to keep it together, "I know."
"We were supposed to have so much more time. We were supposed to grow old together! Us against the world, remember? Us against the world," Marinette cut herself off as her voice broke. There was too much to say and not enough time to say it.
It was obvious that Adrien was struggling to talk but he tried anyway, "As sad as I am that it's ending, I'm glad that my last moments are with you, Bug. You're my best friend, you know that?" He let the tears fall now. There was no point in holding them back anymore. He didn't need to be strong around her. She'd see through it anyways.
"I know. You're my best friend too."
Plagg flew forwards and placed a paw on Adrien's blood-covered cheek, "You've been a great cat, Adrien. The best. I'm glad that the old man stuck me with you. You've grown so much, kid. I'm proud of you. Rest easy now." Then he flew away to hover by Tikki at Marinette's shoulder. Tikki pretended that she didn't see the tears running down the other Kwami's face as she moved to hug him.
"I love you, Marinette," he took a final look at her, "Goodbye."
As the life started draining from his eye's Marinette said her final goodbye, "I love you too, Adrien."
And then he was gone.
No. No, no, no. Everything was all wrong. It shouldn't be sunny outside. She shouldn't be able to hear the birds chirping outside of the ginormous circular window in Hawkmoth's lair. She shouldn't be able to feel the wind on her skin as a cool summer breeze drifted through the room.
She let out a heart-wrenching scream as she hugged Adrien to her and rocked him back and forth.
No, no, no, no, NO! This couldn't be how it ended. It couldn't be. But it was. And everything hurt. Everything. Hurt.
The universe had given her a soulmate only the rip him away.
She barely noticed when the rest of her team and other superheroes returned to see her and Adrien on the ground. She barely noticed when Robin stepped forwards to command the other children to handcuff the knocked-out Hawkmoth and Mayura -- or rather Gabriel Agreste and Natalie Sancoeur -- and to check on the coma-like Emilie Agreste in her glass coffin. As the teenagers lept into action with tears running down their faces Robin approached Marinette and placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. Both of them were too caught up in what had just happened to notice the brief golden glow that emitted from where his hand met her shoulder. They didn't notice the connection that they both shared once again.
It was clear that Robin wasn't the best with comforting, or human contact in general, but he had grown close to Ladybug over the past year he had known her. He and the rest of his superhero friends weren't always there to help out the Miraculous Team, but they were there when they could be and would drop what they were doing and Zeta over during the most dangerous fights. If it wasn't for them Marinette was sure she and Adrien would have lost a long time ago. For a second she let herself imagine what that would have been like. A relief, she thought. At least we would have both died together. She didn't know how she would live with herself now that he was gone. She had already lost one soulmate a year or so after first becoming Ladybug. She couldn't go through that loss again. She couldn't.
"It should've been me." It was so quiet Robin thought that he had imagined it for a moment.
"It should have been me." She said it louder this time.
"Hawkmoth was aiming for me. He was trying to kill me. Not him. His own father-" She cut herself off and looked up at Robin with tears running down her face. He was stunned for a moment. He knew that he shouldn't find her so beautiful with a tear-covered face and snot running from her nose but he did. He took a moment to shake the thought from his head. She had just watched her soulmate die, he could deal with his emotions (shudder) later.
"Don't say that."
She shook her head and continued talking, "If I had just paid more attention and dodged Hawkmoth's hit he wouldn't have had to jump in front of me-"
"Ladybug!" Robin said fiercely.
He grabbed her shoulders to ground her, "This is not your fault. The only one at fault here is Hawkmoth. Do you understand me?"
"Do. You. Understand. Me?" he interrupted her.
"No, Ladybug. The fault is solely Hawkmoths. This is not on you." She wanted to believe him. She really did, but a part of her wouldn't let herself take that out.
Robin sighed, "I know you don't believe me right now, but I hope one day you will, " he looked at Adrien on the ground for a moment, still lying there with his head resting on Ladybug's lap his eyes still open and staring blankly into space, "Come with me. We need to contact the Justice League."
"No!" she immediately protested, "I'm not leaving him."
She pulled him closer to her and held on tight, "I'm not leaving him!"
"Ladybug, please. Being with him right now is only hurting you. You need to take a step back and process for a moment."
"No. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no!" she started chanting over and over hugging Adrien close.
Robin sighed, "I'm so sorry for this Ladybug," he pulled out a dart from his belt and swiftly sunk it into her neck. She paused her chanting to look up at him with a mixture of surprise and betrayal before swaying for a brief moment. Her eyes rolled back in her head and she slumped over into Robin's waiting arms. Ryuko, no longer transformed, stepped forwards to gently lift Adrien's head from Marinette's lap so Robin could pick her up and cradle her in his arms. Kagami set his head back on the ground, swept his matted hair from his face, and closed his eyes with a light touch. Robin knew that they had had a thing for each other but never inquired if they had committed to a relationship or not. He supposed there was no point now.
Robin cleared his throat and looked around at the other teenage superheroes around him, "We need to meet with the Justice League. There's a lot to discuss."
When Marinette Dupain-Cheng was three, her parents realized that she had a soulmate. They were ecstatic! Their baby had a soulmate! Of course, they wished that their bond had manifested in a different way, but they were happy nonetheless. While they were eating dinner one night the young Marinette had groaned in pain and clutched her hand to her chest. Upon further investigation by her parents, Tom and Sabine realized that an angry-looking red mark was left upon the knuckles of her right hand. To their relief, the mark was quickly fading but they both recognized it for what it was. A soul mark. Marinette and her soulmate shared an injury bond. Whatever injury the other would get would briefly mark the other's skin depending on how severe the other's injury was. This bond also allowed the bonded to share a small fraction of each other's pain. The most worrying part to Marinette's parents, however, was that if one soulmate died, the other would die along with them.
Years passed and the injuries that Marinette's soulmate received became more and more worrying. She tried to hide the more concerning ones from her parents. She didn't know what their situation was and didn't want to get them in trouble whenever they inevitably met. Of course, some soulmates would never have to opportunity to meet, but she was confident she would meet hers.
Whenever someone would ask about it she would always respond the same way: "I can feel it in the bottom of my heart. We'll meet one day. I know it!"
All of her friends knew about her bond. When she was younger, Chloe used to make snide remarks about how her soulmate must not be very bright because they were always getting in fights. By this time Marinette knew Chloe only acted this way because she didn't have a soul mark and was afraid that she would never get one, but it still stung. Years later Chloe would apologize and Marinette would forgive her and they would grow closer, but that wouldn't happen until after she met Adrien.
Nino was one of the first people Marinette told. He was her first friend and they grew up together so it was obvious that she would tell him first. When they met Kim they quickly let him into the fold. When she joined Ms. Bustier's class she told them all at lunch one day when they were discussing soulmates. She remembered how the table had gone silent. Injury bonds were rare. Everyone knew that if anything terrible happened to her soulmate it would happen to her too without warning. They were terrified of losing her.
She told Adrien a day or so after they first discovered their bond. She wasn't trying to hide it from him she had just forgotten that he hadn't known. She was complaining how she often would feel a brief pain in her hands because apparently, her soulmate couldn't keep out of fights.
"You have another soulmate?" She facepalmed. Of course. She had forgotten that while he was part of her class now he was still new. Of course he wouldn't know.
She lost her other soulmate after the reveal between her and Adrien but before Lila Rossi joined her class. She had been on patrol with Chat Noir when she suddenly felt a blinding pain in her chest. Chat had rushed over as soon as she let out a scream but he didn't know how to help. It was obvious to him from the angry, red marks that appeared on her suit that the injuries were from her soulmate. He held her in his arms as she shook and screamed as more and more red appeared on her suit. God, there was so much red.
Suddenly, it stopped. The marks that were littered over her body disappeared instantly. There was no slow fade like there usually would be. Ladybug had stopped screaming but she was now holding on tightly to Chat Noir while she sobbed into his arms. Her transformation dropped while Chat stroked her hair and held her close.
"What happened?" he asked Tikki who was struggling to stay in the air. She quickly landed on Marinette's shoulder and looked up at Chat with tears in her big eyes.
"I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry Marinette."
"Tikki what's going on? What happened?" But he already knew. He just didn't want to admit it.
Marinette was the one to answer him, "They're dead. My soulmates dead."
"But- How? You're still alive. There's no way-"
Tikki interrupted him, "I saved her. The miraculous interferes with soulmate bonds. I acted like a buffer. While she still felt their pain she didn't die with them. But they're gone. I'm sorry."
Chat Noir and Marinette sat on that rooftop for hours while they both cried. Adrien couldn't imagine what it would be like to lose Marinette so he could only imagine what she was going through. To lose someone before you even met, must be horrible. And despite having never met the person who Marinette was bonded to he loved them. He loved them because he knew they would love Marinette, and she was his best friend. His little sister.
Marinette had to mourn silently. She couldn't tell anyone besides Adrien that her soulmate was gone. That her bond was broken. There was no logical explanation as to why she would still be alive. To everyone else's knowledge, there's no way for someone with an injury bond to survive their soulmate's death and she couldn't have anyone suspecting that she was Ladybug. So she stayed silent.
She joined an anonymous online forum for people who had lost their soulmates. She was the youngest one on there. Slowly, she started to recover. There would always be a part of her that hurt whenever she thought of all of the opportunities that she would miss and she would definitely never fully recover, but her life was starting to look up again.
Still, it hurt when her parents would make a remark about how her soulmate must be doing better because they're no longer getting in so many fights. Or when Jagged and Penny asked how her bond was doing while she was adjusting one of the outfits she had designed for him. Or when the ever-curious Alya asked her questions about her bond. Or when Lila joined her class and would constantly talk about how rich and powerful her soulmate was (but never mentioning their name, of course) after she discovered that Marinette would always look upset, despite how well she was able to hide it, when soulmates were mentioned. Lila figured that she didn't have a soulmate and was jealous. When she discovered that Marinette did have a soulmate she was surprised, but never looked much more into it. That would require an actual investigation and Kwami knows she doesn't do that.
Some nights she would lie in bed and wonder what they would have thought of her. Would it have been another platonic bond like she and Adrien had? Or would it be something more? Something romantic? She tried not to think about it too much because there was really no point now. It would do nothing but cause a bottomless ache in the pit of her stomach that would radiate a special kind of pain throughout her entire body but she couldn't help herself. Would they have made a joke about all of the injuries she caused them? Would they have made a jab about all the times she had stabbed herself with a sewing needle or scraped her knees tripping down the stairs? Would they have inquired about the time when she was seven and broke her arm falling off of the monkey bars in the park across from her house?
She met Robin when she was 14. As she looked him over she could picture herself falling in love with him. Not at first, of course. He was rough around the edges and rude at times (most of the time), but he was blunt and (despite how he would deny it) cared for her and the rest of her team. He balanced her out in ways that Adrien couldn't. His bluntness soothed her nerves. She knew that he wouldn't lie to her to protect her feelings. There was no second-guessing his meaning when having a conversation with him. He didn't talk in riddles like some of the other people she knew.
Of course, she would never act on whatever feelings she had for him. All she could think about when trying to form a romantic relationship with someone was them. Her lost opportunities. It would be a long time before she was ready to truly put herself out there. And Robin didn't seem to be the kind for a relationship like that. She doubted he had ever truly thought about dating someone in that way.
Nevertheless, they grew closer. They were both the unofficial (her more so) leaders of their teams and they wanted to work well together to make sure there were no rifts between the Miraculous Team and the others. She had only become the Guardian a year beforehand and had only started choosing permanent wielders a few months before meeting Robin. Some point after that Wonder Woman had discovered the terrors Hawkmoth subjected the people of Paris to while visiting her home in France. She contacted Ladybug and Marinette had told her to keep the Justice League out of Paris. The damage that an akumatized Justice League member could bring would be catastrophic and she doubted that her team could take down an akumatized Superman. Wonder Woman had suggested that she work with some of the younger Justice League members that could help her and her team train both physically and mentally to prevent themselves from becoming akumatized. She agreed as long as they never moved to France. They would Zeta in during certain attacks or whenever it was time for training in order to lower the chances of them being akumatized. And even if they were akumatized it wouldn't be as catastrophic as an older Justice League member would be.
Robin and her would train together once or twice a week depending on their schedules. A few months after knowing him they exchanged phone numbers so that could share information about Hawkmoth, but that quickly transformed into just talking to each other about their daily lives (excluding the identity revealing info of course). They grew closer. She would count him as one of her closest friends despite not knowing some of the most basic things about him. Like his name. Or what park her would always take his dog to (he loved to play fetch with the fallen branches apparently). Or the name of his dog. But she knew about his mother. And his struggles growing up. His complicated relationship with his father and brothers. It had taken them a long time to get to that point in their friendship/partnership/whatever they decided to call it (Adrien and Chloe would always mess with her by saying they were dating but Marinette would always fiercely deny it). She had promised that if she ever met his mother it would be on sight. He had laughed at her for that.
"As strong as you've become I doubt you could take her. She's a highly trained assassin. She's been killing people since before you were born."
"Doesn't matter. She hurt you. And I have magic on my side. I could take her."
He chuckled, "If you say so, Bug." His laugh had made her day. She thought about it for weeks. He rarely laughed so whenever he did it was all she could think about. But it was always tainted to her. Some part of her, in the very back of her mind, told her she was betraying them. Which was absurd considered she had never met them and didn't even know if they were a romantic connection but her feelings were rarely logical. She loved with her whole heart so when the universe decided to tear it apart it hurt. Kwami it hurt.
She had told Robin about her soulmate. That they were dead. But she had never described her bond. That would make it too real. At some point in that conversation, Robin had mentioned that he had died once. They didn't connect the dots.
Marinette woke up in the med-bay in the Watchtower after Adrien's death. Some of her teammates were around her and they looked just about as miserable as she felt. After speaking with her teammates for a few moments she got up to go find Robin. She needed to talk to him. To the Justice League. She was sure she would have to give some kind of report and she wanted to get it over with.
She found Robin and a few other members of the Justice League standing around a large, oval table. The serious conversation they were having paused as they all fell silent when she entered the room. She stood there awkwardly for a few moments. She knew that she must look horrible but she just couldn't find it within herself to care.
"I guess I should formally introduce myself now that Hawkmoth is no longer a threat. Hi, I'm Marinette Dupain-Cheng."
"Marinette," Robin whispered quietly to himself. Beautiful. Just like her. He quickly shoved down that thought. Now was not the time.
Batman stepped forwards and placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. He led her away from the main group and spoke to her in a quiet voice and (Robin presumed) collected a quick statement. They would have to go more in-depth later but they would wait for a time when they had more privacy. He knew that it wouldn't be fun reliving that moment.
He watched as Wonder Woman traded places with Batman and he could barely hear her apologize for her loss and give Ladybug -- Marinette -- her contact info.
"In case you ever want to talk. I know what it's like to lose a soulmate. I can help."
A few weeks later, after Adrien's funeral, Marinette's parents sent her to live with Damian and his family. Bruce had reached out at some point after Hawkmoth's defeat reached the news. Apparently, Alfred and Gina were friends? He and his brothers had a theory that Gina was the 'old flame' Alfred had mentioned on a few occasions that he was still friends (platonic now he assured) with. Alfred would never confirm their theories but the glint in his eyes when they would bring it up was confirmation enough.
Marinette's parents didn't take long to agree. They knew their daughter needed to get out of Paris. They may not know that she had been Ladybug, but they knew that Paris held too many bad memories for her. With the press learning that Adrien Agreste, Hawkmoth's son, had been Paris's very own Chat Noir they hadn't hesitated to try and intrude on Marinette's life, not giving her time to properly grieve. She left a week after Adrien's funeral.
She had her own room in the Wayne Manor. Right across from Damian's. Damian. It seemed fitting for him. Her ever-growing feelings for Robin -- Damian now she reminded herself -- were put on hold. There was just too much going on in her life right now to focus on that. Adrien's death, her move halfway across the globe, the dangers of Gotham, it was all so much. She had retrieved the miraculous from the rest of her team the day before she left. She promised that if they were ever in Gotham they could visit their kwami but the miraculous couldn't remain active if there wasn't a threat for them to handle. She would end up Zeta-ing or using the horse miraculous to portal back to Paris every few weeks so they could see them anyways.
She could no longer wear the Ladybug earrings. It hurt for one thing. It served as a reminder of Adrien, her partner, her most trusted friend. But more importantly, there couldn't be a Ladybug without a Chat Noir. The balance of the universe and all that. Of course, she could probably find another suitable user for the miraculous but she couldn't bring herself to do it. She didn't want to replace Adrien. There was no real reason for her to do it anyways. There was no threat to the miraculous anymore. Her job was over. She could rest now.
Sometimes she would have nightmares at night. She would call out in her sleep for Adrien, beg Hawkmoth to have mercy. Some nights Dick would sneak into her room to comfort her. He gave good hugs. He was the big brother she had always wanted. He knew how to make you feel better whether that was by telling you a funny story, giving you life advice, or just offering a listening ear.
Sometimes after a nightmare, if there was no one there when she woke up covered in sweat and terrified half to death, she would sneak out of her room and to the balcony that was at the end of the hall. Sometimes Jason would see her there, sitting by herself when he came back from patrol. He would sit with her for hours watching the stars. He rarely asked what was wrong. He knew that whenever she was ready to talk about it she would. He wasn't pushy. Mostly they would talk about the stars or Shakespeare. Sometimes she would make fun of his costume.
"Honestly Jason, you call yourself Red Hood. How you can say that when you wear that ugly ass helmet everywhere I have no idea."
"Hey! It's not ugly."
"Whatever you say, Helmet Head. And don't even get me started on Robin's costume. Traffic-light looking ass-"
"I'm telling him you said that."
"Go ahead! It's not anything I haven't told him before. And don't look so smug you all looked terrible. At least Dick had an excuse."
"They're traditional, Pixie!"
"You could have at least made them look nice. There are ways to make red, green, and yellow look good together you know."
Jason looked over at her, "Maybe we'll let you take a shot at designing us new stuff. If you'd be down for that of course."
It wasn't a secret that she was in a bit of a design funk. Every day she'd sit down and try to design something, to draw something, anything, but nothing ever seemed to work. It felt wrong somehow, trying to go back to normal now that Adrien was gone. Almost everything she did reminded her of him. And there was nothing she could do to fix it.
"Well, it's not like I could make anything uglier even if I tried."
"Hey!" She laughed when Jason pulled her close and messed up her hair.
She would find Tim downstairs on the nights she couldn't sleep. He was always working on something. They would rarely talk and instead just sit together working on whatever project they had at the time. Time would drink his coffee while Marinette preferred energy drinks. They wouldn't sleep until Alfred came in and cut them off.
"Honestly, I swear that man never sleeps. Why he keeps getting onto me for doing the same thing-"
"I assure you Master Timothy I get plenty of rest. Now off to bed the two of you. You can resume your work in the morning."
"Notice how he didn't actually say he sleeps? I bet it's because he has a set of batteries. Like a robot. Do you think he plugs himself in at night?"
"I can still hear you, Miss Marinette."
Time moved on. The nightmares stayed. Marinette started designing again (she started using it as an outlet).
Bruce would always check up on her (almost) every night before she went to bed. He became a sort of father-figure to her. Or maybe a mentor. He could be quiet and stoic, but also fun. During the family movie night they had once a month, he was always the one to instigate the popcorn fight.
"Marinette, I'm sure you can work on that dress after you finish your homework."
"This is why Jason calls you overbearing, Bruce."
He laughed sarcastically and then paused for a moment, "Does he actually call me that?"
"Oh my Kwami."
But normally it was Damian who would comfort her after a nightmare. Or whenever she was feeling down really. It was weird for him, caring about someone else. His family was certainly surprised. He became used to being woken up by her whimpers. She wasn't very loud, but he was a light sleeper. A side effect of being trained by assassins for the formative years of his life.
He gave her the best advice he could and in return, she would give him little knick-knacks. Sometimes they were things she created, like a bracelet, or an iron-on patch for the jean jacket that he sometimes wore. Or she'd give him spare buttons or beads she had lying around. He referred to them as his 'lucky charms'. He wasn't that far off. Considering that she was a True Ladybug and still had access to the ladybug miraculous (that she still wore around the house sometimes. She couldn't bear to not talk to Tikki for more than a few days at a time) if she focused on enough positive thoughts while holding a small object she could transfer luck into it. Not too much of course, but just little things that could make your life easier. Damian, for example, never encountered traffic while driving around town when he had one of her lucky charms with him. An accomplishment for Gotham's often busy streets.
Marinette grew restless. She was so used to having something to do, people to save. She began wielding Longg, the dragon miraculous and went by the alias Dragon Rouge (Red Dragon in French). She worked with Damian on her sword fighting skills and, according to him, was a 'natural with lots of room for improvement'. A great compliment according to his brothers.
About a year after Adrien's death, Marinette realized something. Her soulmate bond had returned. She had skipped out on patrol for the night, instead electing to work on one of her newest designs. She wanted to show Jagged a copy the next day and wanted to make sure everything was to her liking before he picked it apart. Suddenly, she felt a sharp pain across her rib cage. She froze for a moment before dropping her pencil and notebook and racing for her bathroom mirror. She raised her shirt and saw it. A slowly fading red mark across her chest.
She showed him her discovery and gave him a quick rundown of her history with her second soulmate.
"How can they be alive Alfred? I know they died, I should have died with them! How is this possible? And why is the bond suddenly back? Did they just come back to life or was it a while ago? And if so, then why did the soulmate bond only activate now?"
Alfred placed a comforting hand on her shoulder, "Take a deep breath, Miss Marinette. Everything will be okay. This is good news, is it not?"
Marinette spluttered, "Of course."
"Then take this win. Quite frankly, you deserve it. How long has your bond been re-activated? Perhaps you've come into contact with your soulmate recently?"
"Now was the first time it's happened. Actually, now that I think about it, it's been happening for a while. I guess I just didn't notice it. Or want to let myself believe it." Looking back, Marinette realized that this had been happening for quite some time. She'd noticed marks and pains while patrolling but had convinced herself they were from her own fights. Denial can be a fickle thing.
The vigilantes soon returned home after a night of fighting crime and Alfred left Marinette in her bathroom to inform them of her discovery. Damian was the first to greet her.
"You're soulmates back? The one you told me about before?"
"Yeah." She told him the full story then. How she had grown up with an injury bond with some unknown person. How they had always gotten into fights. How her parents were afraid that one day her soulmate would get into more trouble than they could handle and bring her down with them. How her parents were right but she could never tell them. Never tell anyone in fear of them discovering she was Ladybug. How she wondered what they would have thought of her. Would they have thought it was funny that she was always pricking herself with her needles? Or would they have found it annoying? Would they inquire about the time she broke her arm or all the times she had scraped her knees and gotten bruises all over because of her clumsy nature? Or would they have not cared to ask?
At some point during her story, Alfred must have brought her some water. She brought the glass to her lips, her hands shaking from her lack of sleep and the stresses that she had been through that night. As she moved to put the glass down it slipped from her fingers and Damian sprung forwards in an attempt to catch it. He barely missed the glass (he blames it on the events of the night. Not because his reflexes were slow. He had very good reflexes thank you very much) and it shattered as it hit the floor. Marinette crouched down to collect the glass, but he grabbed her hands to stop her.
"Let me. You sit down."
She compiled without much resistance. She was tired. She definitely needed a nap now that she thought about it. She hadn't gotten much sleep the night before.
"Damn!" Damian moved his hand to his mouth and began to suck on the blood that was starting to form there. He had cut himself on one of the shards of glass in his attempt at cleaning it up.
Marinette sat stunned in the chair next to the bathroom.
Damian looked up, "You okay?"
She just held up her hand to him. In the same spot that he had cut himself was an angry red line spread across her hand that was slowly starting to fade.
For a moment all they could do was stare at each other.
Suddenly, Damian smiled, "Let me reintroduce myself. Hello, Marinette. I'm Damian. Your soulmate."
All she could do was continue to stare. In that moment she thought of Adrien. How he had reacted when they discovered they were soulmates.
She laughed. The weight on her shoulders no longer felt as heavy.
"Goddamn! Well, I can't say any of us are surprised."
Damian didn't look away from Marinette, "Shut up, Todd."
Marinette took Damian's hand, "It's nice to meet you, Damian."
When she was 19 she became Ladybug again. A new threat was introduced. The League of assassins was involved (of course).
But there can't be a Ladybug without a Chat Noir.
She was in the Batcave along with the rest of her soulmate's family when she broke the news to them, "You need Ladybug. You can't defeat them without the help of the miraculous." The room fell silent.
Bruce was the first to speak, "But you have no one to wield the Black Cat miraculous. We won't be endangering your life for this. If we have to handle this without Ladybug then we will. We always find a way."
"I know who's meant to wield the Black Cat miraculous."
Bruce raised an eyebrow, "Who?"
She looked around the room, "The Ladybug and Black Cat wielders have always had some kind of bond. Sometimes they're blood-related -- siblings or parent-child pairs. Or they're soulmates. Like Adrien and I," she looks towards Damian, "Or Damian and I."
Damian stepped towards her, "How long have you known?"
"Not that long. A few days. When we first realized the League of Assasins were involved. Before that I did my best to avoid thinking about," she paused for a moment before forcing herself to finish her thought, "replacing Adrien." Because that's what this was. No matter how much she tried to deny it.
"That's why the universe gave me two soulmates. Adrien was born to die. And you were meant to replace him. The universe demands it."
She held out the ring to him. An offering.
He took it.
Damian hadn't been the new Black Cat for long before he pulled Marinette aside one day to speak with her.
He placed a hand on her shoulder, "I'm not replacing him, you know. He can't be replaced."
"It sure feels like it," She refused to meet his eyes.
"It's like you told me before, your heart is big. There is room for both of us. Your love for him does not impede on your love for me. Just like your love for me does not impede on your love for him. He isn't gone, he lives on in you. And now in me. I will do my best to carry on his legacy. I'm not replacing him, because he is not gone. As long as you live, he will always be with you," He brushed a piece of stray hair behind her ear, "I love you Marinette, I always will. And I will do my best to protect you."
Marinette sniffled, "Tomorrow, when we battle against them, please promise you'll stay safe. I can't lose you too. I've already lost you once, I can't do it again."
He smiled sadly at her, "I'll do my best, my love. I promise that."
"Thank you." She pulled him close and held him tight. She tried her best to remember everything about him. His voice, his smell, how he felt pressed against her. If anything happened tomorrow, or the day after that, or ever, she wanted to remember every aspect of him.
Already she struggled to remember what Adrien smelled like. How his hand felt in hers. If it weren't for videos they had of him she wouldn't remember what he sounded like. She couldn't go through this again.
She looked up at Damian and pulled him in for a chaste kiss, "I love you, mon amor."
He gave her one of his rare (less so now) smiles, "I love you too, Habibti. I love everything about you."
The battle was hard, but they came out victorious. Marinette brought in the rest of her old team and they fought as if they hadn't spent years apart. A few of them died. She brought them back. They didn't talk about it.
Marinette and Damian worked together seamlessly. Somehow they always knew what the other was doing. She had his back and he had hers. For the second time in her life, Marinette felt perfectly balanced.
When they arrived at the Justice League headquarters for de-brief Marinette and Damian, still transformed, stood near the back. Marinette yawned and leaned against Damian, her head resting on his shoulder. He brought his arm around her shoulders and leaned down to kiss the top of her head. He left his head there, his lips still brushing the top of her head, and closed her eyes. He likes being near her like this. Being able to feel her heartbeat underneath his fingertips. Hear her breathing, smell the strawberry scented shampoo she adored. He could feel everything about her, down to his bones. And that made him the happiest man in the world. For the first time, he began to purr.
Marinette giggled and looked up at him, "I love you. I'm glad you're okay."
He smiled, "I love you too, Bug. It's us against the world remember?"
"Yeah," she smiled looking towards the rest of the Justice League still in debrief. She could see Batman and Wonder Woman standing stoically, both of them watching Red Hood struggle to take off his helmet (somehow it got stuck, apparently undoubtedly it was the work of Red Robin, not that he would admit it).
She watched these people, her family, she realized joked around and made future plans to protect the universe. The very universe that had been so kind as to put the best of people in her life, but so cruel to take them away. She held on tighter to Damian. Thinking of Adrien still felt like a stab through her heart. A raw wound reopened over and over again. It felt like forever since she'd lost him. But also, not long at all. And it really hadn't been long. For people like Plagg and Tikki, her life was a blip in the end credits. They'd been alive for millions of years, and they'd be alive for millions more. Longer than that really. She'd be reunited with Adrien again. She knew she would. Marinette thought back to the conversation she'd had with Damian the day before. He wasn't gone. Not really. He was right there with her. And Damian. Her Damian.
She looked back up at him, "Us against the world."
Everything would be okay. Eventually.