Adrien sighed, clicking off the TV. They were recapping the events of earlier today, when Rena Rouge and Ladybug saved the city from Scare Bear, a young girl who was akumatized after being made fun of for still carrying her stuffed animal around. Chat Noir, had of course not been able to make it on time.
“You and me against the world, milady,” he muttered to himself, fiddling with his ring. Or at least, it used to be. He had seen Alya at school the other day, she was wearing the fox miraculous. Ladybug didn’t seem to need him anymore. She had found a new person to defeat Hawkmoth with and she didn’t even care that Chat Noir was gone. Adrien had gone over every moment they had together in his head, wondering how he went wrong, over analyzing every joke he made, searching for the answer to his question- why hadn’t he been good enough?
He missed the adrenaline, he missed the feeling of victory, he missed fist-bumping Ladybug, he missed teasing her, he missed her frown, her smile, her laugh. He missed the stupid items her lucky charm spawned and her overly complicated plans, he missed her calling him kitty and he missed being her friend.
And he had started to wonder if it would be like this forever. And it felt like since he thought that thought for the first time, a hole had opened up inside of him. His chest felt hollowed out and he felt empty and alone and sorely hurting for something always just out of his grasp. He wished with all his heart that things could go back to before- that Ladybug hadn’t had to start loaning out miraculous and that she hadn’t needed help that day and that Master Fu had never been found and that he had never had to make Ladybug guardian of the miraculous.
It’s not that he didn’t think Ladybug made a good guardian- she was smart, and resourceful, and made an incredible guardian. But maybe, if she wasn’t the guardian of the miraculous, she wouldn’t have gotten so busy and overwhelmed, and wouldn’t have had the ability to make Alya the permanent holder of the fox miraculous. And it’s not that he didn’t think Alya wasn’t suited for the job- she was as heroic as they came, but he felt replaced and alone.
Aw, who am I kidding, if Ladybug gave Alya the fox miraculous that was probably a long time coming, it would’ve happened either way. This was going to happen no matter what. Adrien sighed. His father was designing and Nathalie and his bodyguard were dear to him but he didn’t have that kind of connection with them, and Nino was out on a date with Alya and he had wrecked his relationship with Kagami.
So he clicked the other person in his contacts. His other friend, who always understood, and despite not having quite the best way with words, always seemed to know what to say. Someone he hadn’t realized he appreciated as much as he did until he had ample time to think about his life as a civilian. Someone he could trust, his everyday Ladybug.
“Tikki, spots off,” Marinette flopped back onto her bed. She had just gotten back from patrol with Alya. Chat Noir wasn’t showing up as much anymore, she wasn’t quite sure why but she had realized today, as she and Alya were on the rooftops of Paris, keeping a steady conversation, that while she loved her best friend and their patrol, she wasn’t used to the absence of his stupid jokes and puns, and him calling her “milady” and “bugaboo”.
She and Alya were tightly bound by complete honesty with each other and the trust that came with being best friends, but she and Chat Noir shared the kind of trust that came with placing faith in someone even as they’re hiding things from you. Trusting someone despite their secrets. And he made being irritated fun, in a strange way. He warmed up the world in a different way than Alya, with the crackling heat of a fireplace and a steady dependability. And she felt offput now that it wasn’t there anymore.
“You and me against the world, milady,” she whispered to herself, pushing the skylight open and hopping up onto her patio. She felt like it was just her against the world now. She felt lonely.
“Are you okay, Marinette?” Tikki asked, floating up beside her as Marinette settled her arms on the railing and gazed out at the street below her. The night had a slight chill to it that matched how Marinette was feeling right now, and she enjoyed it.
“I’m... fine, Tikki. I wonder how Chat Noir’s doing.”
“Do you miss him?” Tikki asked.
“Yeah,” Marinette whispered, tears stinging her eyes as the full impact of just how deeply she missed him hit. She missed his smile and his laugh and his frown and his stupid questions and his stupid little cat ears and his nicknames and his teasing and she missed being his friend. She missed him. “Yeah, I miss him a lot.”
Her phone rang from her pocket, and she leaped into the air, startled out of her sorrow. She sniffed and rubbed her eyes to get rid of any moisture.
“It’s Adrien! Why is Adrien calling? Tikki, help me!” she said, losing her grasp on her phone and juggling it from hand to hand, trying to grab hold of it again. It clattered to the patio floor, and Tikki’s “help” was to press the answer button. Marinette grabbed the phone.
“Aaaaaadrien, hiiii!” she said.
“Hey Marinette. I hope I’m not bothering you.”
“Yeah- I mean no, I’m doing something really important- no. I mean-” Marinette took a deep breath, “I’m not doing anything right now.”
“Oh, okay. Sorry, there isn’t really a reason I’m calling, I just… I wanted to, I don’t know… I guess I just need someone to talk to. It gets… really lonely.” Marinette let herself relax a little bit. This was Adrien, her friend, who had put up with her odd behaviour from day one. She could wind herself down a little. She could hear the ache in his voice and she didn’t really know what to say but she recognized it as the same one she held in her heart and she decided to just be honest, no pretending to be cheerful or trying to fix things.
“I know the feeling.” She admitted, sinking down to a sit, back resting against the railings.
“Do… you want to talk about it?”
“Not really. Do you?”
“Can we just… pretend everything’s normal, then? For a bit?” Marinette asked. She was desperate for a sense of that normal, ordinary life she used to have. She wouldn’t trade Tikki and her miraculous for it in a million years, but she missed it all the same.
“I’d like that a lot, I think.”