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Don't steal my heart

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Hi there!

 

We are happy to know that this story interested you, to the point of clicking on it. Thank you for this!

 

This fic called Don't steal my heart would start to be posted on the 1rst of September 2021. After that date, every two days, (if nothing stops us to do so) we would post the next chapter. 

 

This is a collaboration between three writers. So, don't be surprised if the writing style is different, from one chapter to another! We would put in the notes at the start of each chapter who wrote it.

 

We had the same amount of work to do between each writer: around four parts of this story. However, every part can be in one, to multiple chapters each. Therefore, it might look like some writers wrote more than others, while it's simply because they couldn't fit their parts in just one chapter. Said chapters can't be more than 1000 words.

 

We recommend you to read the fic Don't steal my heart (LORE) that we posted before this one, and that you can find in the list of fics linked to the series Crime AU. While you could read this fic without reading the lore first, it might help you understand how the gangs work and give you a clipse at the mechanism behind all this. (there also are a few links for drawings representing the characters in their criminal personas)

 

To make sure that everyone is around the same page about how the AU works, we would still give information (that are in the lore fic or new ones) within the chapters here.

 

If you are still interested, then stay tuned for the rest of this AU!

 

Until next time!

Chapter Text

 

For decades, Paris had never been safe, a gang war separating Paris’ district. 

 

The four rules Parisians followed were absolute. Do not go outside during the night. Do not intervene or cross paths with gang members if you must. Do not refuse a gang member when they claim your district after winning against the gang that controlled it before. And if Hawkmoth from the Miracle Gang knew something about you…

 

...Pray that he would see something in you, becoming one of his gang members… Or else.

 

 

Marinette Dupain-Cheng had been a normal citizen for the two first decades of her life. After leaving her parent’s house in the seventh arrondissement to live nearer her university, Marinette knew that some things would change in her life. After all, to study in the university of her dream, she needed to leave the Perfector territory and her parents, to stay in a part of Paris protected by another gang. 

 

Everything changed when the Miracle Gang -one of the most feared gangs-  took over the seventh district where her parents’ bakery was, before doing the same for the fourth district where she was living in. 

 

Those two drastic changes in Parisians lives was the catalyst of a new chapter of Marinette’s life. 

 

She didn't know why they thought she had some potential, but the young woman didn’t have any other choice than to accept Hawkmoth’s offer to become a new recruit in the gang. Trying to escape the fate of her and her loved ones’ corpse being found in a dark alley if she refused, Marinette Dupain-Cheng became Ladybug, a spy for the Miracle Gang.

 

It took her two years full of hundreds of missions, but she became one of the most powerful members of the gang. Even as popular as ChatNoir, who had been trained to be a thief and fighter since he was a child. 

 

As Hawmoth’s son, ChatNoir knew too much. Decades of gang wars made it evident that the training he needed to endure was done to make sure he could survive longer, while keeping his mouth shut during a seance of… Interrogation to find some data about Hawkmoth and his gang, or any weakness to use against the group.

 

Marinette doubted that it was a good idea to be popular in a big gang, especially one that needed to be included in rules in order to survive in Paris. Even if it was pleasurable to be feared and respected in a world of sexist brutes, the more threatening and known you were, the more problems you had on your hands.

 

Long gone was the bubbly girl she was as a teen. Two years in a gang made her paranoia become unstoppable sometimes. Every day, she reminded herself that she didn’t have any other choice but to follow orders, to save her life, as well as her family and friend’s existences. 

 

However, no matter what she needed to do during missions, there were always people that tried to make her life more difficult. Gang members were trying to hunt and hurt her to become famous themselves. And detectives -or anyone really- were trying to find her identity.

 

 

And that , Ladybug couldn’t let it happen.

 

 

Like how Parisians had rules set to stay alive, the Miracle Gang also had rules that were mostly the same for each gang in Paris. After all, such a big and famous gang needed organisation, a hierarchy, to make it work smoothly. 

 

Similarly to the rules for Parisians, those for gangs were absolute. Members needed to wear something to hide their secret identity. No children under twelve years old were involved in high profile missions. People always gave a report to an HQ, even if it wasn’t not the main one of the gang where the gang was formed, after a mission. Kills without reasons after claiming a district were prohibited. And finally, it was forbidden to try to control or have a gang fight in a neutral district.

 

Marinette, after becoming a spy, found herself liking order, goals and rules to follow. To not follow like an obedient sheep, but to remind her that her life could still stay stable, one way or another. And one particular rule in the gang was crucial to her.

 

As a member of the gang, always hide under a secret identity. If your secret is discovered, there are high chances that it means your deal with Hawkmoth is over.

 

Secrets identities were protected by two elements in the gang. Alliasses and masks. Marinette had chosen a full face mask, making it impossible to even see one part of her face. The dark red color mask had one black spot just under each eye hole, matching the general colours of her outfits during missions. While the mask itself seemed too thick and hard, the material was made to be like another layer of skin on Marinette’s face, never obscuring her sight or making it harder to breathe under it.

 

Her name as Ladybug might not look too threatening, but after some time people realised that the person behind the mask wasn’t there to show true love, but to use her luck to her advantage to win at the end of the night. She was known to be extremely resourceful, always having a plan under another one, using everything near her to win and fight. 

 

That popularity as a dangerous threat, strategist, spy and fighter at long distance might have been what attracted ChatNoir in the first place.

 

After a mission with him, Ladybug was forced to continue a partnership with ChatNoir. Then again, it wasn’t like she could say no to Hawkmoth or his son about missions and contracts after all. 

 

When Marinette received her new mission to do with ChatNoir, she only blankly stared at her phone.

 

The music was already starting, so she prepared her outfit to dance once more in this tragic, horrible choreography where she was the victim and threat at the same time. 

 

Chapter Text

 

“Change of plans.” ChatNoir heard Ladybug’s voice in his earpiece. “More guards than expected.” 

 

She was still a woman behind the mask. Despite any foolish thought to run with her family, she couldn’t get so far and get a welcome back gift.

 

“Plan B?” 

 

“No, stick to the plan, I'm going to do something.”

 

Not that she tried, but she was discouraged by the others’ attempts.

 

“All is clear. Go.” 

 

“Alright, mylady. Show time.” 

 

So, early in her days as a gang member she realized she was a pawn, and knew her place in the hierarchy.

 

“You will find the target fifteen feet south.” 

 

Being smart made her a target that was already leashed. 

 

“We make a great team mylady.” he said as he reached the target and secured it in his bag. 

 

“Less talking, ChatNoir.” 

 

He left, and found bodies laying on the floor in front of the door. 

 

“Are they--” 

 

“NO. They're alive, Chat” she interrupted.  

 

They met back in the car as they took off. 

 

“So remind me why we don't know each other’s identity? We could work in sync even outside of the suits!” 

 

“Stop right there, daddy can tell you better.” she scoffed. 

 

Hawkmoth didn’t want rebellions now, did he? 

 

ChatNoir didn't know how to stop, so on the drive back to the base, she had to hear his jokes and flirting. 

 

“Welcome back, Ladybug, ChatNoir.” Mayura said, waiting for them. 

 

Ladybug nodded to the woman, ready to give her report to her. It was said she was one of the few people who knew Hawkmoth’s identity. She wasn’t someone to mess with. 

 

“He’s been waiting.” she said unimpressed after she noted their reports in her tablet.

 

They all knew Hawkmoth hated waiting. 

 

“We are going to see my father now. Thanks, Mayura.”  

 

ChatNoir’s serious tone still surprised Ladybug from time to time. Everyone in the gang thought they were having daddy’s boy acting tough, but after that day no one ever tried. She knew he couldn’t be sappy all the time. Afterall, he wouldn’t be where he is now if it was the case. He had joked about the fact that cats were underestimated, but no one knew when they would scratch your skin. 

 

“Evening, father.”  

 

ChatNoir pulled her with him inside the office, followed soon by Mayura. Hawkmoth didn’t miss his son’s arm around the spy’s waist, glaring at it. 

 

“You came back I see. Success, I hope.” 

 

“Yeah, it went smoothly.” he said as he placed a bag on Hawkmoth’s office. 

 

Hawkmoth signalled for Mayura to check the bag, finding the precious jewel inside. She handed it to him as he began inspecting it with his expert eyes. 

 

“What a beauty.” he breathed, then signalled for them to leave. 

 

Ladybug sighed as she followed the order, making her way to her dorm.

 

ChatNoir followed her, which ironically enough looked similar to a military's barracks. Each room was shared with eighteen members of the same gender, making it obligatory for ChatNoir and Ladybug to separate at one point to go to their mutual rooms.

 

As Ladybug was a high ranking member, she had a room for herself. She threw her bag at the bedside, sighing before looking down at the bed. Checking the sheets for anything that wasn’t there before, she went for the pillow, pressing on it to find any hard object. She then shook the sheets in the air, trying to to get any dust or bugs off of it, looking over the mattress to do the same. When she was content, she laid down, staring at the ceiling above her. 

 

She had thirty minutes before she got to leave the headquarters and back to her apartment, after a safety check. A team in the gang needed to check the item out and the car first, before they deemed her guilt free, as not to let a mistake happen accidentally.  

 

Other girls had been in and out, some would stare at her for a few seconds as her door was wide open, before they left. Some stayed and minded their own businesses and didn’t spare Ladybug a word. On the opposite side of the corridor, Ladybug could see some members claiming the upper bed from the bunk bed, dangling their legs.

*** 

The same situation was happening to ChatNoir. He got his own room in the warehouse too, as he had to keep his stuff safe, and identity even safer. 

 

He got into the room, looking around for anything unusual or out of place, which were rarely to exist. He took off his mask after he locked his door and put it down on the nightstand beside his bed, pulling down his hoodie, and looking in the mirror. 

 

Blonde hair, green eyes, sharp cheekbones were factors to his good looks. Besides his beautiful face he was a charming young man, and a dangerous one he might add. 

 

He was born in this world, bonded with his father also in it, and lost his mother here, too.

 

He loved a girl in this world, too. 

 

ChatNoir laid down on the bed kicking off his boots, staring up at the ceiling before he closed his eyes, emitting a long sigh.

 

His dorm was nothing like his room at the mansion, but he liked it. The small space with posters up the wall and the small closet he stored some emergency clothes in was enough. The tiny bathroom had a shower head, a toilet seat and a sink where he could store medical kits  and make-up palette he needed in hard times.

 

He took the chance to decorate his room when his father didn’t seem to notice or care, Adrien didn’t know. No one got in his room after all, only Mayura, Hawkmoth never bothered. 

 

Like always his thoughts went back to Ladybug. Eating a snack, he knew that unlike her, he didn’t need to go through the checks in and leaving, since he would be stuck in the dorm for a while. 

 

Chapter Text

The Headquarters of the Miracle Gang looked over at any passerbys, looming over in a judgemental, cold stare. Watchtowers scanned across the short, muddy garden and a barbed wire fence bordered the property. 

 

Two days had passed since her last mission with ChatNoir. Strangely enough, Ladybug received a solo mission that she finally finished, causing her to come back to the headquarters to report yet again. 

 

Ladybug gave her fingerprint, facial recognition and retina scan, scanning herself into the building using her special chip. She moved up to the twelfth floor to report to Mayura, instead of standing next to some lower recruits who stopped at the ninth floor to report to some other official secretary.

 

Inside, everything was set out perfectly and pristine, not a single item out of place. When her report had been done, Ladybug left in the direction of the separated part that was used for the dorms. A dull sound rang out as Marinette walked out of the elevator, popping in from the corridor to scan the area. 

 

The rooms were extremely bare, a set of two bunk beds per room, with at most a cabinet crammed into the small room and a single ceiling light which unreliably flickered. Hawkmoth’s best agents received slightly larger dorms with a telecommunications service which ran straight to Mayura, as Marinette had in her room.  

 

She went to her room to take the bag that she had left there. After checking that everything was in there and nothing was added, she felt that she was ready to leave. Closing the door of her room behind her, Ladybug moved down the corridor to reach the lounge. 

 

The “lounge” was barely furnished. A fireplace and hard grey couch were the main pieces within the room. A bare circular table and two chairs were set to the left of the room and a small bay window on the right. She moved to the bay window and sat, staring out of the small square and thinking about how exactly she got there and the millions of rules she was taught to follow. 

 

***

 

Paris, even before gangs appeared, was separated into districts. They were used to establish clear separations of the city by the different clans, showing what was owned and controlled by them. The Headquarters of each gang were in their original district and if a gang’s original district was conquered, the rest of the districts owned by the gang were claimed as default. Therefore, main headquarters and arrondissements were the most protected.

 

“No doof would dream of attacking the headquarters of the Miracle Gang, let alone the main HQ in the first district. First, second, third, fourth, seventh, tenth and eighteenth districts. That supreme gang owns them all. ” Ladybug thought.

 

While Hawkmoth focused on the bigger projects, Mayura was there to be the main overseer of the building. It only took Hawkmoth a few years to win over that many districts. Ironically, Ladybug was happy that the twelfth district was a neutral zone, and no gang fights were allowed there. At least that district wouldn’t be controlled by Hawkmoth. 

 

Then she could go there to reflect without being constantly hounded and assigned missions assigned by Hawkmoth and Mayura.   

 

“It makes me feel important that I get missions personally as a high ranked member, unlike the low ranks.  But there are just way too many. The twelfth district is my place to relax,” Ladybug thought in reflection.

 

Ladybug’s interest wandered again, thinking about Hawkmoth’s office and the variety of expensive items she’d seen whilst walking by. 

 

“I had always assumed they were crazy special items, since I saw how his personal room and office looked so elaborate and decorated. I’ve tried to casually pass by and get a glimpse, but it’s too hard.”  

 

Ladybug shifted her leg slightly in mindless thought. 

 

“It didn’t take me that long to understand that Hawkmoth likes to control everything, from his elaborate and decorated office.” Ladybug thought bitterly. “The moment you are a higher rank and worth his ‘oh so precious time’, missions are assigned personally by either Hawkmoth or Mayura, depending on the importance of the mission. And the moment you get an item from your mission, it’s snatched off your hands.” 

 

Now that she thought about it, she had always assumed that warehouses were only used to stock extremely coveted items. However, with how a rumour also went around the gang that Hawkmoth used one or two warehouses for executions, interrogations or torture, it wasn’t surprising that the leader didn’t like to have people find what he might do there, or how some places were prohibited. Another one of his many ridiculous and pointless rules.  

 

Then again, most people in the gang thought that his rules were stupid. Like his identity one. Logically it makes sense and Ladybug personally had no problem following it, especially since she had so much at stake if her identity was revealed. But others had always said they despised that they couldn’t know each others’ identities. 

 

The low ranks longed to see past their custom masks and the high ranks wanted even more desperately to meet the others behind their captivating, personalised and themed costumes. But no matter what, the number two rule stayed absolute. And the number one rule was to show no fear.   

 

Ladybug snapped out of her trance, coming back to reality. 

 

Despite being safe in the lounge and the fortified Headquarters, the spy never let her guard down, and scanned the room quickly with a steely gaze, before standing up from the bay window and exiting.  

 

It was time to go home.

Chapter Text

The young designer went home late. She had fixed a quick dinner before succumbing to sleep, as she remembered the events the next day held...

***

Marinette looked at her cell phone frequently checking the time, going slow if you asked her.

“Would you take this patch to frost, Mari?”

She turned to her mother, holding a few pans to her. She took it and placed them in front of her carefully at the table, looking for the frost to get started on them quickly. 

 

“I’m sorry, you had to work around the bakery again, dear.” her mother smiled, “we’ll have lunch together in a few minutes now, don’t worry, no more work after this.”

 

“It’s ok, maman, I'd like to help you.” she busied herself quickly with the frosting again.

 

Sabien could see her daughter’s mind full to the brim. She had been on edge for a while now, and Sabine was worried about what could possibly bother her daughter that much, or even if she was just overworking herself again.

 

She went back to finish what she was doing, letting her daughter work in peace.

 

As peace wasn’t in Marinette’s dictionary, she still thought over a lot of things.

 

She had the day off to spend it with her family and friends. She wanted to enjoy it, but what had happened last night couldn’t leave her mind. 

 

She shook her head and found herself at her last piece, and twenty minutes already flew, she looked around for her mother but didn’t find her.



Marinette sighed and got up and went to wash her hands in the sink, and took off the apron and went up the stairs after she grabbed her stuff, slowly taking step by step to the apartment.

 

Startled by the sound of a squeal at the door, she went into the kitchen looking for her parents, fearing the reason for the sound she heard.

She stepped into the kitchen to find her parents pecking each other’s lips.

 

She turned around quickly.

 

“Guys!” 

 

“Oh, don’t mind your old pals, Mari.” she could hear the smile in her father’s voice, she smiled stupidly, too.

“Are you done? That was something I wasn't up to watching!”

 

“You can join us in a few minutes, we’ll be done by that.”

 

She heard the smack her mother gave him.

 

“Come and eat with us, you’re good, darling.”

 

“Next time get a room.” she teased and sat down at the table, as her father began to set the food down.

 

They laughed, starting to eat as the small family began to tell of their days.

 

Plan number two, dinner with friends…

 

It was like that, really, Alya just forced the four of them to have a night at her apartment with Nino, like that they were found sitting in the couple’s living room, setting up a movie on the TV, while the snacks and food were getting ready.

 

“You better like the food I cooked tonight.” Alya said with a grin, as she presented everyone with their plate, she didn’t cook much, so she liked it and had fun when she did.

 

“Alya, we always like free food.” Adrien said, with a stupid teasing grin.

 

 

She heard the smack her mother gave him.

 

“Come and eat with us, you’re good, darling.”

 

“Next time get a room.” she teased and sat down at the table, as her father began to set the food down.

 

They laughed, starting to eat as the small family began to tell of their days.

 

Plan number two, dinner with friends…

 

It was like that, really, Alya just forced the four of them to have a night at her apartment with Nino, like that they were found sitting in the couple’s living room, setting up a movie on the TV, while the snacks and food were getting ready.

 

“You better like the food I cooked tonight.” Alya said with a grin, as she presented everyone with their plate, she didn’t cook much, so she liked it and had fun when she did.

 

“Alya, we always like free food.” Adrien said, with a stupied teasing grin.

 

She smacked his head with a cushion.

 

Adrien chukled, and adjusted his sitting position to not spoil his clothes with his plate. He loved moments like these, away from his life, with friends who didn’t know what he did at night in the shadows.

 

He watched as the main character split ways with their family in the movie they were watching, to go to their dream college, something he couldn’t do, as he had his father choosing his study field and courses, and before that he was homeschooled.

 

He heard the jokes about the wasted youth, as his friends implied, he had his fair share of the thrill his friends wouldn’t dream of.

 

He took small bites from his plate, as Alya had made rice cooked with peas and carrot, and some beef, he liked the taste, and as Alya put it was a brilliant mix.

 

He noticed as his friends enjoyed the meal and the movie.

 

But there was something with Marinette, he noticed.

 

He kept on enjoying the movie, eating and drinking the tea after Alya paused the movie to make a large pot of tea for them. She seemed joyful that night, so everyone took it as a break, their chance to stretch their muscles, and visit the bathroom to refresh.

 

So an hour later they started playing a game.

 

It was the most fun Marinette had in a long time.

 

So had Adrien.

 

He followed her out, when Alya and Nino decided to have their own kind of fun.

 

“Hey Marinette, wait up.”

 

She stopped in her tracks, looking back at her friend.

 

“Wanna drop you off?” he offered her a smile.

 

“Aah, ok, I guess.” 

 

So there they were, in the car, heading to Marinette’s place.

 

“So, how have you been? You do a summer job, right?”

 

“I’ve been...alright. Yeah, my job is something else.” she sighed, “it’s getting harder by the day, and I just don’t know if I can bear it any longer.”

 

“A lot of people are wishing to be in your place, for sure I knew my father wouldn’t pass you up.” he chuckled at his joke.

 

“Yeah, sure.” she laughed nervously, recalling the day she got an internship at Gabriel.

 

“How’s your website?”

 

“It’s doing good, it’s been a lot of commissions lately,"

 

"You wait and see, tomorrow you’ll be as rich as me.” he laughed along with her.

 

As they reached their destination, he opened the door and got out of the car with her, making sure she got safely into her apartment building, but not before he planted a small kiss on her cheek.

“See you later, Marinette.”

“Later, Adrien.”

 

 

Chapter Text

Nino being worried was an understatement.

 

His brother was out in the streets, it was past 8 PM, and the sky casted its dark spell over Paris.

 

And with how nighttime was a favourite time for gangs to play, his baby brother was likely a target for his skinny shape. He had been with criminals, so he knew how they thought.

 

He kept on calling only to go straight to voicemail.

 

He was just as ready to go out looking for Noël himself.

 

What friends hangout late into the night?

 

He really needed to talk to his brother about those things, this couldn’t go on.

 

He went to the bathroom and splashed his face with water after getting rid of the glasses, his girlfriend was sleeping soundlessly on their bed, he looked at himself in the mirror.

 

His grown dark hair messy was framing his face, he was no longer the weak thin boy everyone thought he was.

 

He used a towel to dry his face and hand, then grabbed his phone to call Noël again, for the third ring, the door opened revealing a sweaty Noël, with messy hair and dirty clothes.

 

He dropped his eyes at the ground when he met his older brother’s gaze, and fidgeted with the keys in his hand.

 

“Where have you been?” Nino said harshly, not loud enough to wake Alya up.

 

“I told you, I was at a friend’s.” he said timidly, still couldn’t bring his eyes up. 

 

“Didn’t I say to be home before sunset?” 

 

“I didn’t realize it was this late, we were caught up on our fun, ok?”

 

“Noël, my lil bro, you know how dangerous it is out there in the dark, right?” He was now standing in front of him extending his arms to rub his hands on his brother’s forearms, softening his voice.

 

“Nino, stop babying me, I'm eighteen, ok?” 

 

“Look me in the eye, Noël.” Nino whispered, all his emotions poured onto his words, “look at me in the eyes, Noël.” he said louder.

 

Noel was exhausted, and really wasn’t up for any of Nino’s parenting habits, yet he looked up at his brother’s eyes.

 

The younger man sighed.

 

“Nino, I can take care of myself, I'm not a boy anymore.” he said, irritated.

 

“This house has rules, Noël. I would like, for your safety, to follow them. Night time is when the bad guys get freedom, they go lurking in the shadows waiting for prey. If any of them see you, you might not survive.” Nino spat, looking at him with red eyes.

 

“I can take care of myself! I'm not as weak as you think of me. So much faith you have in me…!" he raised his voice.

 

"Do you really think that I won't worry for you when I know that you are out there?" Nino shouted, not caring for the sleeping woman anymore.

 

“BRO, I’m alright! I’m not a child anymore, you can’t mother hen me forever!” he said darkly, his voice resonating even though he didn’t feel that way from his own ears.

 

“You are all I have left of our family, Noël. I will not let a stupid street fight take you away from me!” the older boy emotionally said. 

 

“You are not losing me, Nino.” Noël whispered, looking at the floor.

 

Nino pulled him into a hug harshly, holding him tight against his chest as he shed tears. Noël was surprised as he had never seen his brother this emotional before, making him hug him back, letting warmth engulf him.

 

It felt like forever since they separated, each went to their rooms.

 

Nino took off his t-shirt and threw it to the side. He laid down, a heavy sigh escaped his lips, before he turned on his side, looking over the beautiful woman who took his heart. She was another person he wouldn’t live without, they had gone through so much trouble already to be where they were.

 

He can’t let it go to waste.

 

“I can hear you thinking a mile away.” 

 

He heard her low and gravelly voice from beside him, he smiled and began to caress her hair out of her face, he propped himself up on his elbow, looking down at her.

 

“I’m sorry if we woke you up. I know you have an early morning.” he looked at her peaceful face, she could have fooled him with her closed eyes, if he didn’t know she was awake already. “... You are thinking about that day, don’t you?”  

 

She grimaced hearing his question, before turning to her other side, looking away from him. He knew the fight must have triggered memories back.

 

“What day?”

 

“Alya.” 

 

“But I know my father was just overbearing, he should know better, that I’ll be fine, he can’t protect me forever. Neither can you protect Noel forever, Nino.”

 

Alya sighed, recalling how her father said when she wanted to move out of the family house.

 

It was hell, he almost locked her in her room, and threatened Nino.

 

She felt like she never knew her father well.

 

“Alya, hey, look at me, it’s ok now.” 

 

Nino’s arm sneaked over her waist, his hand finding hers to hold. He pulled her to his chest to spoon, landing a small kiss by her ear.

 

“He apologised, Alya. It’s ok."

 

She snuggled more into him, taking the arm around her into her chest hugging it with the blanket, the young blogger sighed as she felt him kissing her temple.

Chapter Text

Nino looked at his reflection in the spoon on the table, Alya had just excused herself to the restroom, they had ordered their food already.

 

He was really nervous, if they had fun the date would end late, and might as well go home in the dark night.

 

But him making his girlfriend happy was worth everything.

 

He saw the waiter closing in with the tray of the food, he downed it carefully, as Nino thanked him.

 

It had been a while since they went on a date, it was always studying and work interfering into their time around.Now that university was out, they had more time for each other.

 

He can’t help it, his girlfriend was gorgeous, his breath hitched when he saw her walking back to their table. Her orange turtleneck dress she wore brought her hair tips out more, and the locks framing her face abandoned the glasses with contents. In other words, she was stunning.

 

She sat down with a big smile at him, and so they started to chat gently, sweetly, while eating.

 

Really cute to any passerby they looked at. 

 

They spent an hour, eating and deserting.

 

It was about right for them to leave already. They wanted to walk home after the date on foot, so they could enjoy more time out.The danger was a possibility, but he didn’t want to bother worrying.

 

He held her hand, darkness would have surrounded them if it wasn’t for the stores which provided dimmed lights. The calm night disturpped with no sound but their whispers and giggles, and the echoes of their shoes hitting the sidewalk. 

 

They looked happy to go, and passed many alleyways on their way without bothering to walk in them, except one ally that could lead them to their home faster.

 

One alleyway, disturbed the happy bubble of the couple, as they heard cries, and grunts the more they got closer.

 

Alya held her breath, as Nino tensed, too.

 

When they heard the faint sounds of thumps on the ground, Nino could only predict that they were from behind him.

 

The guy had a watch out.

 

Of course.

 

He held Alya's hand tighter, pulling her close, his ears strained to the softest sound, ready for an attack.

“Tsk, why is such a lovely young couple out at night, eh?”  

 

The moment Nino heard the gruffy voice, he stilled. 

 

It was a trick that he knew so well.

 

Some members used it often, making sure that their target knew that one person in the team was present, only to hide their partner somewhere for a surprise attack.  

 

“Why not show us what you have, and we won’t have a problem, eh?” he said, taking steps closer with boldness.

 

“Leave us alone, you thug.”

 

Alya was shocked, the darkness Nino emitted was unusual.

 

He heard the metal clap of the satchel he knew everyone in the gang had, they used it to hide and carry weapons.

 

He felt Alya hug his arm, breathing unevenly, he was too late to react, the knife was already pointing into his side, any wrong move would cut his skin.

 

“Now, now, a lovely lady, I admit.”

 

As Nino knew they wouldn't be back home unscratched, he could smell the alcohol in the man’s breath. Alya’s grip made it hard for him to punch the guy, so he had to think quickly for another solution.

 

The cinematographic student lifted his feet off the ground, luckily hitting the attacker in the shin. While Alya gasped, Nino got hold of the knife in the thug’s daze as he swayed. He pushed Alya off his arm and behind him, looking down at the crouched guy.

 

Out of the corner of his eyes he saw the guy’s partner rushing to get hold of the woman behind him. Nino swiftly spun on his feet and hit the backside of the man’s neck, knocking him out.

 

He looked at the other guy, who was furiously staring at him, taking cautious steps towards the target. As the lanky boy had the knife in his hand, the shuffling of clothes freaked Alya out. Praying for their safety, her eyes widened at the view of the weapon the low rank gang member got out next.

 

He ran at them, while Nino watched with intensity before dodging the man, copying his moves with the other guy and knocking him out as well.

 

They watched the unmoving bodies, sighing with relief. Alya buried her face into Nino’s shoulder to cry as he held her there. He soothed her, kissing her hair reassuringly.

They were startled when they heard a muffled groan, and a quiet cry.

“We need to call the cops for their victim, Alya.” he said quietly, looking over to the dark alley where the victim was knocked out cold on the ground, with a sigh he got his cellphone out to call the police. 

 

When he was sure they were on the way, he carried Alya back home, which was a few blocks away. 

 

Alya’s heart never quieted down, it was already two hours after the attack and she still couldn’t sleep, she would have loved to call her best friend Marinette, but she knew she was fast asleep already.

 

Chapter Text

 

An alarm on her phone awoke Marinette. She groaned, taking her phone on her nightstand. Marinette might have hated mornings since she was a child, but she knew that the moment she got a message, no matter the time it was sent, she needed to check it.

 

If it was Alya jokingly sending her a text to wake up, she could ignore it and come back to sleep. If it was for the gang… She knew that she needed to be ready soon for whatever mission they threw her way.

 

 

After all, like how Marinette hated mornings, Hawkmoth hated when she was late.

 

 

Marinette huffed, reading a notification she put up recently to let her know that she needed to prepare herself for a meeting with ChatNoir that evening. 

 

Just looking at his name made her think of him, about the evolution of their partnership that brought back the memory of their first mission together. 

 

Ladybug at that time had never done any mission with a partner, and knowing that she was going to do a mission with ChatNoir, one of the most feared and popular members of the gang, had made her skin crawl. She didn’t know if it was a way to test her, a proof that she was a powerful member worth being his partner, or to throw a knife in her back when the skillful fighter had the opportunity to do so during the mission.

 

The StoneHeart mission itself was simple. After taking the control of the fourth arrondissement, Hawkmoth wanted to make sure that he had allies in the district. A gang still needed to look powerful yet merciful for its citizens under their banner. 

 

When Mylène and Ivan Bruel, a married couple since they were nineteen, asked for the protection of the Miracle Gang against another gang, Ladybug and ChatNoir were asked to protect the couple. 

 

Ladybug had studied their case, and knew that they didn’t do anything bad. They planted trees and organised events to make people realise ecological problems since they were teenagers, and worked in normal fields to gain money. What made people send those death threats however, was what Mylène possessed. 

 

During one of his shows, Fred Haprèle obtained precious papers. Ladybug didn’t know what was written on them, but it was still worth threats for the poor woman that obtained the papers, as well as making Hawkmoth interested in them. Since those papers were the source of their bad luck, the couple had gladly accepted to give them to the Miracle Gang as a reward.

 

After they were certain that gang members from another territory were in the fourth district to kill the couple and obtain the papers, ChatNoir and Ladybug were introduced to each other. 

 

 

To say that their first meeting as partners was awkward was an understatement. 

 

 

They had both arrived at the same time on the roof they were asked to go. The moment ChatNoir noticed her shadow on the rooftop, he seemed to brighten like a child receiving a gift.

 

 

“Hey there! So you are the partner Mayura talked about. I’m ChatNoir.”

 

 

Silence started to form between them. They both knew that she was staring, observing every silent movement he made to make sure he wouldn't try anything against her.

 

 

“...Ladybug.” she simply said after a while.

 

 

Their awkward interaction was interrupted by screams. They looked at each other, before running on rooftops to try to get close to the building. Mylène and Ivan Bruel were meant to arrive at the Place des Vosges in ten minutes. The couple might be early, or the gang members might have lost patience before their target even arrived in the popular area. They weren’t as dumb as Hawkmoth have thought, since they didn’t wait to attack the couple in a very public and open space. From that fact, it meant that the members of the gang didn’t want to show off, bragging that they arrived into Hawkmoth’s territory only to kill in plain sight. 

 

Ladybug installed her spiner assets in a nearby building, while she noticed ChatNoir directly running headstrong inside. When she was ready, she checked the street and building in front of her, before understanding that the couple they meant to protect were caught from the streets only to be taken inside a building. After Ladybug asked the couple to close their eyes with the help of an earpiece they all had, ChatNoir arrived at the scene only to break the neck of one of the gang members with his baton and a quick move from the back. 

 

 

“Where are you, partner?” ChatNoir asked, fighting the two remaining enemies.

 

 

His question was answered by the sound of a window shattering before two bullets simultaneously pierced the enemies’ heads. ChatNoir’s whipped his head at the direction of the window, only to hear the telltale sound of a grappling hook hitting the building they were in, before Ladybug barged through the broken window. 

 

ChatNoir could only stay mesmerised by Ladybug while she silently checked up on Ivan and Mylène, probing them to stand and walk away with her. After they cleaned the area of the blood, they made sure to leave a message to make it clear that it was unacceptable that members from other gangs attacked their civilians. 

 

If it wasn’t an example for other gangs, Ladybug would have aimed at the kidnappers' knees instead of their heads. But when Hawkmoth himself ordered them to not let any enemy alive, she didn’t have any other choice.

 

With how well the situation went for a first mission as partners, in addition to the fear that the duo created, Hawkmoth had decided to let them work together. 

 

When Marinette looked back at her notification, she smiled. Having ChatNoir as her partner might have been something she didn’t like at first, but now she was glad to have him in her life.

 

Chapter Text

That was just the start of their story as partners. Mission after mission, they worked side by side. Situations always differed, as did responses, but the two were so in sync that the slight turn of a head or shift of the eyes was enough to understand each other’s moves. Within a matter of seconds, the enemy was defeated, making it simply too easy.

 

Except for… that one mission.

 

The mission that changed it all. It couldn’t necessarily be called a mission, since no one gave them an official task to do for the sake of the gang. Yet, it was still their mission to act and do what they were taught to do.

 

One day, as they were on their way up to reporting, they saw a couple of members, most likely from the Bahamut gang from the look of their suits, sneaking into headquarters. Ladybug was about to pull Chat aside to initiate a game plan when suddenly she found him charging full speed towards the intruders.

 

“WA-” Ladybug’s call was quickly stifled as she realised she needed to hide for a while to observe the situation and build a plan.

“Why hello there. I don’t believe you’re a part of the Miracle Gang, am I correct?” Chat said as he fought the intruders off. The opponents were quite a force to reckon with, Ladybug observed, as they caught Chat on a variety of attacks and dodged his own attempts. It was the roundhouse kick that made her realise their strength, Marinette recalled.

 

Chat Noir attempted a strong roundhouse kick, which looked like it might do some damage, when it was abruptly caught by one of the three intruders. Suddenly, he had been flipped over and sprawled on the cold, hard metallic floor. Ladybug gasped. ChatNoir’s roundhouse kicks were one of his strongest moves, as they could obviously do a lot of damage physically. It never failed.

 

Or at least, it used to.

 

Back when she had to fight solo, she would’ve tailed them for a while and called in help, distracting them with her attacks whilst she waited for backup. She’d start with something simple for combat, like an uppercut punch, whilst she got a feel for their fighting skills and would figure things out from there. It was a plan of sorts.

 

But Chat had run in carelessly and now she had less than thirty seconds to form a quick plan before they turned the corner and saw her. Help wouldn’t arrive in time, and she’d stopped running ever since she started to fight with Chat. She’d have to take this face on. But… how? She’d have to think about how to outsmart them.

 

Within seconds she had formulated a plan, and before the three could leave, she carefully aimed a timed smoke bomb. As it set off, Ladybug quickly rushed to Chat and planned to drag him away before she initiated a special weapon she had been preparing, but somehow something got stuck and the smoke cleared to find both of them frozen.

 

Within a split second, Ladybug and ChatNoir had stood up and were ready to fight. With the two of them combined, they were able to defeat the three intruders, but there was much struggle.

 

“That was too close,” Ladybug whispered to her partner later as they escorted the three to the prison where they waited for Hawkmoth’s decision of what to do with the intruders.

“I think it was fun,” ChatNoir replied, waggling his eyebrows in a teasing manner. Ladybug rolled her eyes and smirked, but her stomach didn’t fully settle.

 

That night, she lay awake in bed, her stomach still felt uneasy. And she might already know why. It was so… sudden. I thought I knew Chat, but that was so unpredictable, just running in like that. No warning, nothing. If he is always going to be like that, who knows if I can truly predict everything about him?

….I just don’t think I can fully trust him again, Marinette thought.  

From that day on, she felt continually guilty that she couldn’t fully trust Chat, but she had been taught from day one to be careful about who she trusted, and she wouldn’t let anyone be an exception.

It might be the reason as to why she also never thought about revealing her identity, and at any point where she might have felt close or considered revealing her identity was quickly pushed out of her mind as she remembered that fundamental principle she had based all her life, attitudes and ethics on.

Never. Trust. Anyone. Ever.

Chapter Text

 

Ladybug went through a lot of hardship since starting working under Hawkmoth. Some thought that she was favored from day one, some just wanted the respect and fear she got, the power she held.

 

ChatNoir was there, watching her since day one. It was true that at first, she always seemed clumsy, and extremely uptight, with her tense shoulders and a body that was ready to take anyone down to the ground.

 

He could still remember when she was still a newbie, someone he had recognized as one of the new recruits, with the 4th district newly claimed at that time. His first meeting with her was during his little speech to new recruits, the second one was when she was escorted to the training ground.

 

 

“Old man, I got you a new student.”

 

 

ChatNoir heard his father’s cold voice as he was training on a punching bag, he stopped to take a breath and drink from the bottle on the floor not too far. There she was, a slim figure not too tall, not too short. It was strange that his father let her be trained by Fu, one of their best teachers, if she was weak enough to be on the edge of breaking down.

 

After she introduced herself as Ladybug, Master Fu started with the warm up, before explaining that the styles of martial arts that he would teach her to know how to fight was more than a way to hurt people, but an art form as well. 

 

She was a quick learner, as he could see from the shadows, and she seemed to develop some sort of style of her own.

 

He watched her get beat, she tolerated it all, she was a bit clumsy and would trip a few times, being knocked down time and time again. But the stubborn girl would always got up.

 

 

“Why don’t we take a break for tea, young miss?” 

 

 

Fu smiled as she widened her eyes in surprise and let him lead her to a side table.

 

 

“Now poisons lesson.” 

 

 

At first, the sad look in her eyes told him everything. This girl wasn’t for this world.

 

However, ChatNoir knew that she had the needed instincts to survive.

 

And she sure had something special. 

 

He really loved her wit and strength, making her a mind of gold full of mysteries and surprises.  And yet, it was a fun time for him to test her limits himself first, when they started working together. They would go to train together some days, and he liked to pull pranks on her.

 

A sudden tap on the shoulder or one of his silly jokes would get her worked up. Sadly enough after a few times doing it, she didn’t seem to continue to play. If he had to guess, it was because she was taking everything seriously. Ladybug hated to throw herself in the fight blindly. She would take a hiding spot first to analyse everything, while he handled the fight head first in battles. Nevertheless, her weird sense of awareness around her made it easier for her to fight, no matter the situation.

 

For a long time, he wasn’t assigned permanently with anyone. ChatNoir would go solo most of the time, or with Mayura during big missions. Since they sometimes needed a “big fish” to do important ones, and that his father doesn’t go out much, he felt there was a reason why she was partnered with him.

 

Even if at first she was really formal, she started to warm up to him more ter ChatNoir saved Ladybug when she was almost hit once.

 

 

As time went on, their partnership grew stronger.

 

 

He liked her loose --not too loose-- and fun self, when she started to return some of the jokes, and slowly lowered her guard around him more.  Despite her hiding behind her mask, he still gets those small glimpses when she cracks. It might even be why he started understanding her more.

 

Or why he was happy to see her. 

 

 

“Fancy seeing you here, LB.” he said, as he saw her settle her stuff on a bench, as they were getting ready to train together, “you are five minutes late.”

 

“The world ended for it, I know.” she rolled her eyes at him, getting down on a knee to tie her training boot shoe laces, as he stood tall, looking down at her.

 

“If you wanted to propose my hand in marriage, you know that you need a ring for that, right?” Chat joked, grinning at the snort that came out of her. “You know the drill. We have a meeting in about three hours, you up for the quick training?” 

 

 

She smirked at him as she stood up and advanced to the mat where he was.

 

 

“I can’t believe Fu lets you use his training room.”

 

“I’m his favourite student what can I say.” he winked, dodging her attack, making her punch the air.

 

 

They seemed to dance in sync, dodging each other’s attacks, knowing the other’s moves. 

 

 

“ChatNoir, you are needed in the main hall, we are welcoming a new group into the gang.” Mayura’s cold voice announced in the room’s speaker. 

 

 

They stopped, looking at each other.

 

 

“See you at the meeting.” ChatNoir cheekily said, bowing. 

 

 

He would never say it out loud, but he hoped that the secretary would do her work from time to time, making it easier to understand that his planning changed. But ChatNoir only sighed, and left the room. 

 

 

He had a little speech to make.

 

Chapter Text

 

If everyone noticed that ChatNoir looked like a grumpy cat, no one said a word.

 

Needing to leave his little lady was always heartbreaking. If he had time and no reputation to save, he would have dramatically rolled on the floor like a child that didn’t get a poney for their birthday.

 

Alas, he was the great ChatNoir, third in command of the Miracle Gang, ruler over the third district, thief and fighter. 

 

So, he needed to settle for a frown that only a few people would have recognized as a pout.

 

The new recruits were all there in lines of five, in the lounge near the dorms. Some seemed to lower their gaze in fear, understanding who was in front of them. Others only blinked at him, as if he was another one of those mentors that would only scream at them to memorize the gang’s rules and to follow orders. 

 

He wasn’t there to be a tour guide, showing them every angle of the headquarters. He was there to judge their capacities before they even did their first missions. To know which ones would mostly stay lower ranks all their lives, or finding troublesome individuals to throw out before chaos even started. Maybe he would even feel as if some might have enough potential to be watched.

 

 

Like Ladybug, when she arrived.

 

 

ChatNoir had always found her secretive, almost making her Ladybug persona feel fake. But he wasn’t surprised that she was hiding behind multiple masks, wary of everything, with how many times she was challenged or just straight up attacked.

 

He, too, got attacked sometimes.

 

Being the boss’ son didn’t do him any favor. Some scumbags looked at him and deemed him unworthy. Hawkmoth might think of ruling over the gang as some kind of family business, but some members thought otherwise, and wished to take his place instead.

 

 

He had to fight to regain his place, or more accurately show people his power so that no one tried to step on him, thinking he was a weakling.

 

 

Stopping thinking about his teenage years, ChatNoir introduced himself, observing everyone’s reaction to his name. He started to talk about identities, something that for now, the low rank members in front of him could only use masks and fake names to protect. He might not know why a lot of people -like Ladybug- were admarant to hide their identities. But he had a good example in mind to explain how using someone else’s criminal persona was moderated in the gang.

 

 

 

“There was a guy, a few years ago, who thought it was funny to get a suit like mine, and it didn’t take long until he started copying me, spreading bad rumors and impressions that were completely false. They thought that they were playing with a kid, they got a warning, but they never stopped stealing my persona, want to know what happened to him?” 

 

“What happened to him?” someone dared to ask in the crowd.

 

“The guy was left alone bleeding from a stab wound and broken legs.” ChatNoir announced, as if it was nothing. It might have been, in his eyes.

 

 

He could see the cringe in some people’s faces, the thick air that surrounded them. This wasn’t his cue to stop yet, though.

 

 

“Now, that should teach you a lesson, your leaders are not people you could mock, if you value your life that is…”

 

 

He continued his little speech, before leaving the recruit’s to their mentor. Now that he thought about it, if the event had taken place years later, maybe someone would have posed as Ladybug too. But he was sure he could have recognized her.

 

After all, he loved her.

 

Unlike what his younger self expected when someone would talk about romance with him, it wasn’t love at first sight. 

 

It took him some time to truly get to know her better. She wasn’t like other members only looking for power, seeing ChatNoir as a good way to get it.

 

If he needed to explain what made him realise that he loved her, he would have said that it was a lot of different moments here and there. 

 

 

The way he saw her being that clumsy woman, that was still fierce and ready to protect what mattered to her. 

 

 

How he couldn’t watch her get hurt, his heart breaking every time he saw her wounded. He knew that she could handle it, but if he needed to come back with some bleeding wounds in order to protect her, he would do it again in a heartbeat. 

 

 

That time where he saw a fragile part of her that she buried when she was Ladybug, but had felt safe enough to show it to him.

 

 

That day during a mission near a border of the territory, he fought a guy off his back and stood up straight using his baton to knock several members off and onto the ground. 

 

The sound of a howl in pain made him spin around to see Ladybug kicking a person down, their eyes rolling back in their head. Ladybug stepped back clutching her abdomen, her dark red  turtleneck stained in blood, not that it was visible.

 

 

“I got what we needed, let’s go.” she said boldly.

 

 

Ladybug took steady steps away from ChatNoir only for him to follow her. Looking out for any surprise attack they could have, ChatNoir still helped her when it was clear that she had difficulty getting into the car. 

 

She kept whining, her wound kept bleeding. ChatNoir was horrified, and had to speed back to the base, to get her treatment.

 

Since that day, she hid her pain well, but not well enough from him. He took it upon himself to protect her. 

 

 

Bringing himself to the present, ChatNoir looked back at his watch, seeing as he would make Ladybug mad over being late. He could even imagine her cute pout under her mask.

 

 

He didn’t mind anything, the moment he was with her.

 

Chapter Text

 

Ladybug wasn’t surprised when ChatNoir couldn’t come back to the training room before the meeting. It wasn’t the first nor the last time that he needed to stop whatever he was doing to go meet the new recruits. 

 

It was difficult to believe that it all began for them when ChatNoir noticed her as well as her potential while doing his little speech for new meat in their clan. They might have started their partnership officially a few years after their first meeting, but it always made her smile to know that they had the opportunity to know each other better that way.

 

And while she had only understood it recently, this turn of events resulted in another revelation.

 

 

Her, Marinette Dupain-Cheng, Ladybug, might love ChatNoir romantically.

 

 

Entering the meeting room, Ladybug tuned out the voices of the other people already in there. Only a few minutes after her arrival, ChatNoir arrived, winking at her before he sat on his chair on the other side of the table. 

 

Just looking at him made her remember what she thought about just a few minutes ago, making her blush under her mask. 

 

It wasn’t sudden, her love for him. On the contrary. With how she internally feared everything, it took more time than she thought it would to understand her own feelings. It was little things here and there, or events that made her think of him differently. 

 

Such as the way she was almost always thinking about ChatNoir outside of missions. How she imagined how his civilian self looked like, how he spent his time, who his friends were, how many hearts he had broken with his devilish looks . She found him hot, but would never admit it out loud.

 

Those thoughts made her look closely at him, analysing him more.

 

If it wasn’t for Hawkmoth’s stupid rule, she wouldn’t mind knowing his identity. It took her days, weeks even, to get a grip around the fact that she truly wanted to tell ChatNoir that she loved him. Ladybug didn’t know what would be the punishment Hawkmoth would give to ChatNoir if his true name was revealed. However, she knew full well what would happen if it was her case. 

 

And how a relationship would work, when she couldn’t fully show who she really was to her other half?

 

No one could change her mind, since she could see ChatNoir having a bad boy persona with a soft heart. Just imagining him that way made her warm, wishing she could be naive enough to put herself in danger, if it meant that they could cuddle at her place without masks on their faces. 

 

She always found herself missing his jokes and flirting. When he stopped in the boss’ or any stranger’s presence, she didn't like his serious face.

 

How could she resist when he was there for her, when he-

 

Marinette squeaked, jumping slightly in the air when she felt someone kicking her side gently. In high alert, she scrutinized her environment, now fully awake… Only to realise that she was at Alya’s and Nino’s place, with her best friend staring at her.

 

Oh.

 

The young designer didn’t know how she was able to do it. And yet, she had daydreamed about ChatNoir to the point that she passed through the meeting, leaving the Miracle Gang headquarters, going back home and arriving at her friends’ place without even noticing. 

 

And from the look of Alya smirked at her, she did something stupid while she was stuck in her own mind. 

 

 

"Girl, I know he's handsome, just make a move already." the future journalist laughed, pointing her head in Adrien’s direction.

 

 

From that information alone, Marinette understood that while smiling dumbly and thinking about her partner, she was staring in front of her. In Adrien’s direction.

 

 

“Sorry, I was thinking about something for a while. I don’t even know how I survived all day with how deep in thoughts I was.” Marinette confessed sheepishly before snorting. “Besides Alya, me and Adrien? No, he's just a friend. "

 

“Sure sure, continue to tell yourself that.” Alya sighed, patting her friend’s head. “One day, the two of you would get out of that denial phase and see that we could do awesome double dates together.”

 

“What, are you tired of having your two thirds wheels when we hang out?”

 

“As if I didn’t have hot, alone dates with Nino either.” Alya smirked. “Speaking of Nino, I need to snatch him away from his best friend so that we can both start to cook today’s dinner. Use that opportunity wisely M, if you know what I mean.”

 

 

Alya wiggled her sculpted eyebrows suggestively at her best friend, earning a laugh from Marinette. The young woman left like promised, taking Nino with her in the kitchen. Shaking her head in fake desperation, Marinette sighed, never truly used to Alya’s schemes. 

 

While she didn’t mind, Marinette couldn’t fully control  her thoughts either, automatically coming back to ChatNoir. Maybe one day, if she could retire from the gang or if a miracle happened that didn’t put her in a bad situation, she would reveal her identity to ChatNoir. She could at least confess to him, even if it could only mean that he could only love her when she was Ladybug, and not her civilian self too. 

 

But all of it needed to wait. 

 

Because she wasn’t ready, and she knew that it wasn’t the right time to do it. They would both be busy soon, from missions, their personal lives and future projects that needed to be done for the Miracle Gang. 

 

Taking her glass on the small table in front of the couch, Marinette drank a little of it, thoughtful. If she remembered it right, ChatNoir had a meeting soon with the other commanders of the gang.

 

She hoped that it would be alright. 

 

Chapter Text

 

Adrien was making sure that his tie was perfectly done in the mirror of the elevator. He didn’t know why his father was adamant that they all wear format attires during family meetings, but he didn’t have the heart to refuse. 

 

The Agreste and Graham de Vanily families, with the union of Gabriel and Emilie, had started to do family meetings for years. They never fully felt like a family but prestence was written down into their veins, making it impossible for them to not pretend to be the family that everyone saw from the sideline. 

 

Journalists and alike believed that the death of Emilie Agreste might have separated the two families, but it only brought them together even more than before. For the public it was the mutual grief that reunited them again after years of coldness due to Emilie stealing the Graham de Vanily’s heirborn to use them as engagement rings during her wedding. The real reason behind their reunion was darker yet simpler than this.

 

 

Both families only wanted to get revenge.

 

 

The moment they added Emilie Agreste into the addition, enemies from other gangs made a grave mistake. Hawkmoth was even more determined to control more territory in Paris to make sure that everyone’s fate was in his hands, instead of the enemy’s. The Graham de Vanily family that for the most part controlled their cinematographic industry in London without caring about Paris, started to donate money to the Miracle Gang to make Hawkmoth’s gang more powerful than ever. 

 

Adrien had the possibility to be an actor for the Graham de Vanily Film in addition to his work as a model for the Gabriel fashion branch, making their family name even more powerful. As for their gang, they obtained a new ally.

 

 

Félix Graham de Vanily.

 

 

It all started with a family meeting such as this one. Adrien mused, leaving the elevator for the private office they were using for the occasion. At that time, Gabriel was even more paranoid and had only demanded his son to meet him when they were using their gang member personas. Félix had come as a copycat, pretending to be ChatNoir in an attempt to steal back his family’s heirloom. Alas, on the contrary of everybody else, Hawkmoth had seen through his tricks. Still impressed by his act, Hawkmoth had proposed to let Félix become a member of the gang. 

 

While they didn’t need to wear their protective outfits and criminal personas to meet anymore, Gabriel still made sure that their family meetings stayed secret. Before Adrien entered the room, he was checked by a guard in case he was bugged with or without his consent. With a smile, Adrien entered the room after thanking the guard for his hard work. 

 

 

“No need to thank a man that is doing his job, cousin.” Félix huffed the moment Adrien arrived.

 

“Hello to you too, Félix!” Adrien exclaimed cheerfully, listening to the front door closing behind him.

 

“Throw the happy persona away with me, will you? We have more important things to talk about and I don’t want my eyes to burn just looking at you.”

 

 

A grunt stopped them to continue their banter, Gabriel Agreste standing tall in front of a table where a map of Paris was laid. 

 

 

“There are some movements in the sixteenth arrondissement.” Gabriel announced, cut to the chase. 

 

“I thought that since the sixteenth and fifth districts were separated in two gangs between Pegasus’ and Bunnyx’s allies it was silent in that part of Paris.” Adrien admitted.

 

“It was, until a month ago. They are preparing for an attack and claiming a district as their own.” Gabriel explained. “With where their district is placed, they only have three choices. Attacking the Perfector Gang and claiming the seventh or eighth district, fighting for the second district against the Bahamut, or taking back the fifth district.”

 

“Unless they chose to take back the fifth district they would be next to our borders.” Félix hissed.

 

“We can’t do anything until it’s clear what district they are trying to control.” Adrien mused. “But we would need to prepare people in the first, seventh and eighteenth districts on the ouest side just in case.”

 

“Why not on the south border for the first district?” Félix asked.

 

“While we did take the fourth district from them, the Bahamut gang is more powerful than ever with Ryuuko as their second in command. They might be focused on their East border in hope to take back the fourth district for whatever reason they have, but the Rois wouldn’t dare to fight against them for the small area that is the second arrondissement.”

 

“To make sure that we aren’t attacked on both sides, Félix you would go to the border near Chimère’s territory in the eleventh district.” Gabriel declared. “Use your magic to make them believe that we are proposing a peace treaty for the next few months at least.”

 

“I need to talk to that vexen of Volpina, don’t I?” Félix grunted. “She’s just the representative of the gang, like the public face of a brand and she thinks she has some power over gang meetings.”

 

“At least with you around she would know her place.” Adrien said, turning to look at his father. “I guess you need Adrien in your plan if you ask Félix to be ChatNoir.”

 

“No. Félix would go as his own persona. You would do a mission as ChatNoir at the same time.”

 

 

Gabriel opened a dresser, revealing an elegant suit.

 

 

“You would need this.”

 

 

Adrien blinked at the set of outfits made for a ball and small weapons to hide under the coat, before a cheshire smile cut his face.

 

Oh this was going to be interesting. 

 

And if he was lucky, he might see his lady in a beautiful dress very soon.



Chapter Text

 

Ladybug silently grumbled, looking at the bags on her hotel bed. 

 

 

Five. Bags.

 

 

From the look of it, one of them contained an outfit, meaning that she wouldn't be able to use her usual suit for the mission. It also meant that she would finally do a mission focused on her main skill and job in the gang.

 

 

A spy mission.

 

 

After checking every corner and crannies in the bedroom for bugs and cameras like always, Ladybug checked the bags meticulously before opening them all. The vermilion, long dress in one of the longer bags told her that she would need to fit in a formal event. Sadly enough, she didn’t find any sniper assets, only close combat weapons as well as poisons and antidotes. It was easy to understand that she wouldn’t be outside of the event, killing in the distance but merging with the crowd in the party.

 

And Alya never got why she hated parties or crowds. Or buildings with too many windows or sits near them. It was one of the easiest ways she took down people during missions. She wouldn’t die that easily, thank you very much.

 

The letter in one of the bags already told her enough about her mission. While ChatNoir would need to distract and steal some jewelries from a young heir of one of the rich families in the event, she needed to gather some information about the influence of the neighbour gangs, and if she was lucky, find out who in the party had deals with them, showing their disloyalty of the Miracle Gang.   

 

Ladybug had a few hours to prepare herself, and she would use all the minutes given to her. Going into the bathroom, she took a shower with her mask and her panties on. She might have checked her hotel room, but that didn’t mean that she thought she was skilled enough to find all the possible bugs. Just to be sure, she took the habit of taking showers while making sure that her naked face or body would never be filmed somehow if she missed a camera.

 

After getting clean, Ladybug dried herself before putting a tight black suit on. It might look like some simple leggings and shirt close to the body, but it was a way to not directly put her skin on the dress given to her. Moreover, she already planned to use this, as well as a plain jacket to blend in the night after the mission. The dress was long enough to cover her fully, making it impossible to see that she was wearing that double outfit underneath it.

 

Putting her hair in a detailed French Twist, Ladybug took some make-up in a bag. She might not be able to put her mask off now, but she knew that she would have time to do it outside. When weapons were placed in every slot possible on her without people being able to notice them, she went to take her jacket, putting the hood on before placing her mask in one of the two bags she took with her. 

 

When she arrived in a corner that she knew wasn’t recorded by public cameras -often hacked by gangs even though they were first installed to protect people- she took out some mirror and started to work on her make-up. She might not be someone that often used it, since she had a full mask on her face half of the month, but she appreciated putting that make-up on. Either way, she knew that she wouldn’t even be accepted in the event if she didn’t cake her face with products. 

 

Two streets away from the entrance of the building she needed to go to, Marinette put on some transparent earpiece, activating it. The small buzz from it didn’t take long to stop before getting silent. Marinette couldn’t help herself to raise an eyebrow, used to have ChatNoir’s enthusiastic voice already on when she activated her earpiece. She finally entered after a red carpet and a check in with the invite and a proof of her identity -which was Charlène Aise for tonight- to make sure she wasn’t someone faking an identity to enter the event. Marinette slowly walked in the luxurious hallway. She might not have been personally trained like ChatNoir, but years of seeing Chloe Bourgeois walking in school halls during their middle school years had taught her ways to play the role of the rich woman who had the right to walk in this event like she was the host herself. 

 

It took ten minutes in the ballroom, talking with guests with trained politeness, for her earpiece to make a small sound that Marinette knew well. Pretending to touch her earrings, she pushed a small button on her earpiece, activating the program that permitted to hear and talk with the other owner of the set. 

 

 

“Well goodnight my fair lady. Isn’t it a nice day for an event such as this one?” ChatNoir asked cheerfully, the hint of flirting almost drowning everything else.

 

 

From the background sound after his voice resonated in her ear, Marinette knew that he was using a woman out there to ask her that question without looking suspicious by talking to himself. Marinette knew that strategy well, using it herself without hesitation.

 

 

“The event just started, we have a lot more to see tonight.” she answered both the man in front of her as well as her partner.

 

 

They had work to do.

 

Chapter Text

 

It went on and on for hours to at least get some information that they needed.

 

Marinette knew that if she had to spend two other hours in that ballroom, her poker yet pleased face would crumble into pieces.  

 

For a long time Ladybug and ChatNoir both listened to people around them or next to their partner in crime. Marinette might have felt vulnerable and uncomfortable there, surrounded by people more fake than gang members. No mask or blonde wig to protect her identity during the mission. Nevertheless, she knew that the faster she dealt with that mission, the easier it would be for her to leave, take that make-up off her face and come back home after taking multiple taxis and routes.

 

Did she already say that her paranoia was uncontrollable sometimes?

 

Nevertheless, Marinette was focused on her mission. Guest after guest, small talk and serious ones alike, she felt as if she talked with half the people out there. Checking the time before mentally listing the number of people she talked with, she looked around in search of her new prey. 

 

Although it was strange to do it that early in the event, people were already dancing in the center of the main room. Marinette let a small smile form upon her lips at the sight. The tomcat that was her partner always made sure to at least dance one time with her during missions happening in such events. Most of the time, they needed to participate in masked balls, ready to kill targets in the bathrooms or corners, spy or steal from guests. 

 

This time however, she knew that she wouldn't be able to dance with her Chaton. No mask to cover her face meant that she needed to make sure that no one, especially ChatNoir, recognised her as Ladybug. 

 

 

“Why am I alone tonight?” ChatNoir repeated, his voice in her earpiece waking Marinette from her thoughts. It seemed that his target was asking him why he came alone. “ I wanted to make sure that I have at least someone to dance with. Sadly enough, the person I wanted to invite here had other responsibilities. So this lonely gentleman needed to attend alone. But I’m not sad about such an event, since it brought me here to meet you.”

 

 

Marinette silently scoffed, while hearing the giggling sound of ChatNoir’s target. The sly cat knew that flirting was one of his ways to get closer to his targets, while making sure that he had an alibi and people in the event that could claim that he was where he should be if someone claimed that something was stolen or dead. 

 

And yet, she knew that those words were also meant for her.

 

 

I wish you were with me, Ma Lady. To dance and to attend this event together.

 

 

“Even though they might not be like you dear, I might try to convince that person to dance after all this when I meet them again. They at least owe me this, don’t you think?” ChatNoir continued, whispering as if he was telling a secret to his target. 

 

 

You still owe me my dance when we reunite at the hotel. We can put on some masks, have some music on and dance on the rooftop.

 

 

Knowing that there was no chance that she escaped this, she hummed, showing silently her affirmation. It might be something that she didn’t fully understand at the start of their partnership, but Marinette had slowly accepted his little ritual. Besides, she couldn’t deny anymore that she liked to see him bow dramatically, asking her hand for a dance, and letting him engulf her in his warmth for a few minutes, listening to him and the music. 

 

Having a new goal to finish that mission as quickly as possible, Marinette looked around, walking to a group of older women, ready to gather more information.

 

 

It only took her one hour to gather everything. From what she and ChatNoir both heard, it was enough to understand that thirty percent of the guest list was giving off money to gangs, with five percent for neighborhood gangs instead of the Miracle Gang.

 

 

Five percent, ten people from a list they mentally wrote down that needed to be killed, tortured or threatened in order to make them stop being actors for other gangs than the one controlling their district.

 

Marinette hated this.

 

But if she hid this information, while ChatNoir wouldn’t, it would only cause her more problems. If it wasn’t them that gave the information to Hawkmoth, someone else would and it would just be the same result. One way or another, Hawkmoth would make sure that the other gang never had his territory under their thumb. 

 

Knowing that she had everything that she needed, Marinette said some farewell to the last group of guests she talked to, also informing ChatNoir of her departure that way. 

 

If a young blond man was staring at the exit, a small hopeful smile formed on his face, no one noticed him. After all, a few people were leaving, including a woman with striking dark hair shining blue under the artificial light. And yet, Adrien was none the wiser, never knowing which person out there was his lady. 

 

He wished that it was also a masked ball tonight. At least he might have the opportunity to dance with his lady after they achieved their goal, enjoying in their own way the rest of the night. 

 

Chapter Text

 

Red was trying his best to not tap his feet on the floor while waiting. Showing that he was impatient -even if it was the case- was a way to prove a weakness. And as the Graham de Vanily heir, he couldn’t show any weakness. 

 

He might not be there as Félix, but he needed to be perfectly what he imagined the red fox of the Miracle Gang to be. He had manners and expectations for himself, after all.

 

And yet, he let his mind wander, let his emotions free inside his mind, while his cold eyes stared ahead. Hawkmoth called upon a meeting between the Miracle Gang and the Chimère, only for the leader, Crocs d’Or, and the representative of the gang, Volpina, to be late.

 

Did the people from the eleventh district forget that punctuality was one of the keys of a good impression? Red mentally huffed, thinking back of positive things. At least he didn’t need to pretend to be ChatNoir or Adrien for this mission. 

 

He still didn’t know why his cousin had chosen a cat , of all things, for the theme of his outfit. Félix hadn’t hidden his true feelings about it the moment he learnt about it. Then again, it wasn’t surprising, coming from the son of a guy that thought that a moth was threatening enough for the name of the leader of a gang. 

 

 

“A fox?” A female voice asked, only revealing Volpina near him. “Well, aren’t you a copycat! You know that foxes are one of our main symbols in the Chimère gang, right?”

 

 

The mention of being a copycat felt wrong, but Volpina didn’t know about his other identity as the fake ChatNoir or Adrien during missions. 

 

Unlike Volpina, Croc d’Or was a mystery. There was a reason why the Chimère gang had a representative. The leader was mostly in the shadows, only coming out to fight. It was only by luck that they won a district from that gang, with how the leader was a force to reckon with in battlefields. 

 

 

Félix was a strategist and a perfectionist. With how public Volpina was, and with how little care she hid her identity with her small mask that only covered her eyes, it wasn’t difficult to find that she was Lila Rossi.

 

 

If they were both in their civilian selves, he was sure she would be more talkative. Especially about his cousin. He could even imagine what she would have said.

 

 

Oh that's sad, I would have preferred your cousin to come. You know, we know each other so well since we are both models. Too bad that, being in different districts, we can't work together that often. We would be the perfect duo, don't you think?

 

 

And because his mother taught him better, he would restrain himself to fake gag.

 

 

Therefore, while only raising an eyebrow at his enemy, he said:

 

 

“Last time I checked, there isn’t any copyright on fox outfits made by the Chimère gang.”

 

“He’s right.” Crocs d’Or grunted while Volpina pouted. “What is the Moth’s offering, boy?”

 

 

Crocs d’Or slowly got out of the shadows of his alley, revealing a man in his forties. Most of his small yet muscular body was hidden by a coat made of -from what could Red knew from being linked to a fashion brand- fake bear fur. In addition to the hood in the form of a bear’s head, he wore heavy glasses that almost seemed stuck to his skull. He seemed to be a contemporary and stereotyped idea of the viking, if said viking thought that dark purple and brown was a good mix of colours. 

 

 

“A peace treaty, Crocs d’Or, for five months. No attack between both our gangs. Of course, it doesn’t involve possible allies from both parties.” Félix announced, straight to the point.

 

 

He knew that while Crocs d’Or understood the gibberish of high profile people out there in Paris, he prefered to know the basics, and fast, before doing anything. He wasn’t a fine strategist such as Red, but Crocs d’Or was still a powerful leader. Taking some small contract from his red coat, Red showed it to Volpina, knowing that she would be the one to read each paragraph, and analyse everything in hope to find loopholes to use.

 

He already made sure -sadly enough with the help of Mayura since she thought she needed to get her claws over everything- that there was nothing to use as their advantage. 

 

 

“I will come back next week. Same date, same hour, same alley, to take back this contract.” Red informed them. 

 

“Surrely, there must be a reason for this… Peace treaty.” Volpina hummed, mischief shining into her eyes, trying to make him slip information. “Hawkmoth might be preparing something big, if he needs peace for five months.”

 

“Tell us the truth, boy.” Crocs d’Or growled, showing his teeth. “Your chief isn’t the one to ask for peace, especially with a gang that he took a district from them a few years ago.”

 

“He just needs peace for a while, after he just finished something that he wanted to do for a long time. ” Red shrugged. “That’s all I know.”

 

 

And it was the truth. After years of searching, they had finally eliminated every gang member related -closed or not- to the death of Emilie Agreste. While it didn’t really feel like the end, an acceptance to his aunt’s fate, it was still, in his opinion, worth the blood spread. And after such hard work, Hawkmoth wanted a break, to try to pretend to recover.

 

 

It was the truth. 

 

 

Yet, not the full truth behind the peace treaty. 

 

 

However, from the nod Volpina sent to Crocs d’Or after reading his body language and the contract, it seemed that it was enough to blind them. 

 

Satisfied, Red left with the signed contract, not even needing to come back later for it.

 

One good thing done. Now, he just needed to give his report and get paid.



Chapter Text

Kagami crossed the road with furtive glances, constantly on high alert. Especially considering all that had been going on recently, Kagami couldn’t afford to slip up.  Spotting Marinette waving wildly a few paces away, she sprinted nimbly across to her friend.

 

“Put your hand down!” she hissed. “We don’t need the additional attention!”

 

“…Why? It’s not a crime to meet with friends, right?”

 

Kagami opened her mouth to protest before closing it slowly. 

 

“You….Think we’re friends?”

 

“Of course!” Marinette’s chipper voice helped lift her spirits and she broke out into a smile.

 

“…Thanks.”

 

“No need to thank me. Let’s get goin!”

 

And with that, they began their walk around the 4th district. It definitely wasn’t the longest stroll, since Kagami felt bittersweet as they came to the end of their walk and conversation.

 

“I’m really sorry, but I have practice. I need to go.”

 

“I can come with you, if you’d like?”  She offered with a smile.

 

“That…Would be nice.” Kagami smiled in return.

 

The two set off to practice in the park.  Marinette gently rested on a nearby bench as Kagami trained with her sword. The fencer was as swift as lightning, her slim figure darting quickly back and forth. Her raven hair was windswept in a way that complimented the shape of her oval face, with a strong curved line from her jaw to her chin. The girl’s almond eyes, both in colour and shape, arched slightly upwards and her pale rose lips were tightened in a bout of concentration.

 

The way her katana cut through the air and spun gracefully in action was captivating, and Marinette starred as Kagami performed a double twist, flipping through the air in a variety of practiced attacks. Marinette clapped at the most recent one but her friend barely stopped a second before continuing an advancement down the strip of the park adorned by trees.

 

Marinette knew better than to expect less of her friend, but it was still mesmerising how she moved. So, she sat back and watched.

 

-

 

“Seems like it was a good practice today.”

 

“Good? Please. It was barely subpar. I made so many reckless mistakes!”  Kagami continued to destructively criticise her performance skills when she was stopped by a sweet side hug. 

 

“I think it was good. C’mon, you’re undoubtedly the best, Kagami. Just own it.”

 

“I did do some average twists. It wasn’t good but it wasn’t terrible either…”

 

“Uh…that’s the spirit…I guess?”  Marinette couldn’t exactly figure out whether she was content or not.

 

“How bout I take you to a nearby cafe for some snacks and drinks?” 

 

“Sounds good.”

 

-

 

The two sat down across from each other, Marinette with her coffee and Kagami with her orange juice, a croissant and muffin to split between them.

 

Conversation once again flowed naturally as the girls happily zipped their drinks, remembering some of their favourite memories and inside jokes, smoothly adding in occasionally when the other forgot about a detail.  

 

Once again, Kagami felt a bittersweetness overwhelming herself as she looked down at her lap, fiddling with her ring. 

 

“I’m so so sorry but I actually have to go.  I need to leave the 4th district.”

 

“What for?”

 

“…A personal affair. Don’t worry about me. I’ll see you later, ok?” She lifted her gaze from the floor and repeated that smile she had given at the start, with slight difficulty. But Marinette knew the honesty in her smile and returned a beam.

 

“Ok, see you later. Take care!”  Marinette stood up for a quick hug goodbye before the two parted ways.

 

Kagami had to go…look after something.

Chapter Text

Kagami wasn’t the only one that had unfinished businesses to deal with.

 

Away from the fourth district, in the sixteenth, two commanders of a gang named Bunnyx and Roi Singe were in a car, driving away in the direction of the border they had with their ally. 

 

It seemed that so far, everything was working according to their plan. 

 

Bunnyx’s kits all over Paris brought back information to the core of their organisation called the Burrow. 

 

Red was seen with Volpina and Crocs d’Or with a contract in his paws. It wasn’t difficult afterwards to understand that the Miracle Gang would try to have a peace treaty with the Chimère in case the Rois win, get a district, and start to fight again for a district controlled by Hawkmoth this time.

 

Everyone, especially citizens, feared gang wars. The beloved streets of Paris became war zones, where corpses, blood and vomit made everything stink. However, while physical wars still existed, a new type of gang war started to be used.

 

 

Mental gang wars. 

 

 

People finally started to realise that wars only resulted in their members getting slaughtered just to have a few more kilometers square under their control. If they had less members, it also meant that they had less trusted people out there in their territories, especially when it doubled. Then, the winner of the massacre needed to promise protection and fairness to direct them all, just after killing people that the citizens knew or lived with.

 

Truly, Bunnyx knew why this circle continued, coming back centuries after centuries in the history of mankind. Humans had different reasons each time, but it always came back to money, power, domination and reproduction to start it all over again. And wars, even in the small squale that was Paris, were the embodiment of this circle that seemed to be rooted inside human nature. 

 

 

Nevertheless, when gang leaders discovered that brutal wars weren’t… Profitable, they started to use those mental wars.

 

 

Roi Singe called it the rich type of war. Similarly to social battles over some power, leaders and their team would try to find the weakness of the enemy, shaming them, pointing their mistake at their faces. Too much leaks made the enemy look and feel weak, until the bullied agreed to give up the control of their district. 

 

People had more chances to not step into someone’s guts while out in the streets, but they could still hate someone’s guts after digging into their secrets to make them weak. 

 

Bunnyx didn’t know what type of war she preferred to witness, but she still went with the flow. With her help as an informant for the Rois, her knowledge of history, her nest of information and connexions it wasn’t hard to make everything work in their ways.

 

She was almost ready to fake everything. The preparations for claiming new territories were asked to be slow to study the adversaries. With the way they all acted, it was easy to know what to do next. 

 

 

“Hey Bun’ we’re here.” Roi Singe announced, making Bunnyx notice that their car was in the parking lot of a small coffee shop. 

 

 

Before getting out the car, Bunnyx put back her hood with rabbit ears, closing her long leather coat shut as well. Roi Singe was still able to ruffle her hair, pretending to not notice her huffing while he reassured her that everything would be fine.

 

 

“It still has been a few years, Monkey.” she grumbled, checking that everything was alright before entering the shop. 

 

“He’s not going to throw one of his boomerang bombs at us because of that!” Roi Singe laughed, closing the door behind him.

 

“I would certainly not.”

 

 

At the new voice, the two friends turned to look at the third party. Pegasus was there, sitting in a seat at a table at the end of the shop. Seeing him, Roi Singe laughed before rapidly walking in his direction, only to slap the young man’s back.

 

 

“Max! It’s been a while!” Rois Singe exclaimed.

 

“Secret identities.” Pegasus simply warned. “We might own this place and use it as one of the secret meeting places near both our different borders but bugs still exist.”

 

“Right, sorry.”

 

“Then again, soon it won’t be our different borders anymore.”

 

“What?! Is a gang going to steal our territory?” Roi Singe screeched, jumping on a chair only to perfectly sit on it.

 

“He forgot, didn’t he?” Bunnyx asked, sending a deadpan stare at her friend.

 

“Affirmative.” Pegasus answered. “Roi Singe, we shall remind you that we stop the Divide Project to attack another gang. We would have sixty percent to win then.”

 

“But I thought that we needed to stay as two gangs for a while.”

 

“True. People are greedy and would want to get one part of our territory the moment we have more than one district under our control.” Bunnyx tried to explain. “That’s why we separated as the Rois and Poseidon gangs in the first place.”

 

 

They all knew the rules. They could get allies with other gangs that wouldn’t attack them. But the moment the Rois planned to get a new district under their banner they needed to do it alone. Peace treaties were meant to get allies, and create protection for future attack on their territories, not to get more troops to attack someone else. 

 

With how the main HQ and district needed to be more protected because losing it would mean they lose all their districts in one go, it was easier to fight for a smaller district than the main one. And to fight for a new district, they needed all their strength back. Especially against what enemy they chose to fight.

 

 

“Let’s do something that even the Miracle Gang apparently didn’t believe in, with how they set up their members over the borders.” Bunnyx grinned, making the two men next to her mimique her. “We will bring back The Rois Marin gang to fight the Bahamut.”

 

Chapter Text

 

Bunnyx had made sure that no one outside of the sixteenth and fifteenth arrondissements knew about the reunion of the Poseidon and Rois gangs to come back as their full potential. They wanted it to be a surprise to throw off the enemy. While fighting the Bahamut, every little thing needed to be used to win. 

 

They were already near the border for the seventh district. They might not have walls to determine each arrondissement, but people had started to paint the borders with colourful lines. It might have deteriorated the sight that was Paris’ streets, but citizens prefered to know when they shouldn’t cross specific streets in case they fall into the enemy’s territory without knowing it. The archeologist didn’t know if she needed to feel scared, or weird out when she crossed the line drawn on the floor. 

 

 

They were now in hostile territory. 

 

 

It was less suspicious and noticeable when there were only a few of them, walking in the streets. A group of dozens of gang members out there, it wouldn’t take long for people to notice, or to give a warning at the closer HQ. Some gangs like the Perfector might like to parade when they try to claim a new district, but Bunnyx and Pegasus’ plans would turn into infiltrations more easily. 

 

Small districts didn’t have extravagants HQ, and they intended to use it against the Bahamut. Since the main HQ was at the opposite side of the territory, it would take some time for the high ranks to come down here. 

 

 

Bunnyx knew that their teams couldn’t wait much longer. She might be specialised in discretion, but real gang wars were anything but. When they felt that they were deep enough in the Bahamut’s territory, yet still not far away from the border in case they needed to retreat, Bunnyx sent her orders to her gang. 

 

 

Like tsunamis destroying everything on the wake, gang members upon members floored the streets. Shops windows were broken in pieces, advertisements for the Bahamut gang ripped, tagged or replaced by Rois’s. The moment people on their side started to scream and use their weapons was the moment citizens started to scream as well. 

 

If it was a few years ago, the Rois wouldn’t have any mercy. They would have slaughtered everyone that wasn't on their side without remorse. After all, when gang members on the enemy side weren’t suited up, they couldn’t know if they crossed paths with a normal citizen, or a future enemy that wasn’t running to hide but to find their weapon and become their future enemy.

 

Nevertheless, the old ways weren't worth it.They might need to properly present themselves as a threat to bring the enemy in the streets and fight, but if they could have more citizens under their control, it would be better. 

 

After all, who would pay rents for places in the seventh district then?

 

The Rois continued to destroy more, walking ahead. Pegasus, using every possible technology that he could hack or create, had guided them, making sure that they were going in the right direction to go control the headquarters.

 

Their teams started to have difficulties to advance, with the Bahamut gang finally arriving. Bunnyx detached the parts of her metallic umbrella, forming a shield with the panel and a sword with the shaft. The enemies weren’t weak nor difficult to handle, and with Roi Singe covering their backs, they started to slice their way into the field. 

 

Soon enough, Pegasus informed them that the Poseidon part of the group was arriving to help them. In a few minutes, they wouldn’t be able to hide the fact that the Rois Marin were back, but it wasn’t the more pressing matter at that moment. They might be close to the headquarters, Pegasus confirming it, but they still didn’t notice the high profile member that was making sure the seventh district was controlled perfectly. 

 

 

“Rīdā!” Roi Singe screamed like he read into Bunnix’ mind. “Show yourself, coward!”

 

 

As if the man had heard him, screams of agony rang ahead. The commanders of the Rois Marin walked in the direction, ready to fight as they started to create holes in their troops. Roi Singe switched places with Bunnyx, holding his long baton tight into his hands. Ahead of them, he could see someone slashing their sword in such a rapid pace in the air that he could almost not see every move his new adversary did. 

 

The man a few meters away from them was only wearing red and black baskets, a short, a sleeveless shirt and a Hannya mask. They noticed that all the skin shown on the man was covered in tattoos. They both knew that the more a member wore them, the more dedicated and high in the hierarchy the member was in the Bahamut.

 

 

Bunnyx and Roi Singe grinned at each other. 

 

They found their leader. 

 

Time to make him beg for them to stop and take the district for themselves. 

 

 

Dodging or hitting with his baton everything that was coming his way, Roi Singe ran closer, ready to fight. 

 

The man that they presumed to be Rīdā striked his katana into his enemy’s legs, making them fall to their knees, under his mercy. Swiftly, he placed one of his feet on the hurt man’s torso, before lurching his sword downwards, sinking it in the man’s throat as if it was butter. 

 

Using his feet to make the body roll away, leaving blood on its path, Rīdā looked up in time to put his katana in the way of Roi Singe’s attack. After the tall man jumped back, rolling his baton between his weapon, Roi Singe was ready. 

 

 

“Shall we dance, my lord?” he sneered, ready to attack once more. 

 

 

Chapter Text

The metallic smell of blood wafted to their noses. Although they are used to it, it still was a nasty smell to them that made them frown. Bunnyx stayed behind to watch out for Roi Singe’s back while he fought.

 

“Shall we dance, my lord?” he had said.

 

The masked leader didn’t waste a second before he let out a battle cry and advanced towards the intruder in their land. Roi Singe quickly dodged the katana, already trying to figure out how his target moved. From the look of it, Rīdā was trying to disarm him first.

 

Roi Singe held his baton tightly, and went for the knees. It seemed that he might haven’t been the only one that could read others, since his opponent flipped, landed behind him before kicking the back of his knees. Roi Singe fell, feeling some weight on his shoulder blade. 

 

The blade of Rīdā’s katana.

 

He knew what was next.

 

However, his face never met the ground. The jock stood up quickly, spinning around to see his partner catfighting the mute assassin, his sword forgotten on the side.

 

She was better then he would ever admit, but he was glad she was by his side today.

 

The small woman had almost hit her enemy with the help of her weapon. However, before the hit could even touch Ryuuko, Bunnyx was knocked away, resulting in her hitting a wall. 

 

She lost her breath there for a moment.

 

Running to save his partner, the monkey man went and clashed his baton with the sword that was meant for the rabbit's heart. He pushed them back, away from Bunnyx. From the corner of his eyes, he could see someone helping her up.

 

Pegasus.

 

Roi Singe almost disarmed Rīdā, making him the winner. But distracted by his own thoughts, he didn’t see the hard kick in the abdomen aimed at him. He coughed blood, and was trying his best to hold his ground. His dazed state was quickly recovered and this time, he saw the next blow planned to hit him. 

 

Roi Since leaned to the left and swept his leg under Rīdā that simply jumped again to dodge before planning to step harshly into the leg that tried to make him fall. With how the monkey theme fighter tried to put some space between his mute opposant and him, the Bahamut member landed on their feet on the ground away from his leg by a few inches.

 

Wheezing, Roi Singe still predicted that the next blow was to his ribs. In an attempt to defend himself, he leaned back and dodged.

 

Rīdā was scarcely skilled, graceful, and really swift. He had a killer aura screaming to them that the game was over for any opponent that dared to fight against him. And yet, he seemed to get bored of the fight with the stupid monkey, looking down at him, without even panting from exhaustion. 

 

Pegasus observed their enemy’s moves carefully, as he was circling the monkey like a prey. 

 

“It’s not what I had heard about the leader of that district.” Pegasus noted out loud.

 

A tall skinny man with darker skin. His outfit was one of a serpent, green and blue in color with a tattoo themed of the said animal.

 

He didn’t understand if it was only rumours or was it the truth, but the man fighting Roi Singe wasn’t the same as the Rīdā he heard about.

 

It was rare when his notes were wrong. He couldn’t believe it was Rīdā to be the one here, the tattoos were different, the colors, but who would this be if not Rīdā. . .

 

“It’s Ryuuko.” Pegasus and Bunnyx breathed at the same time. They looked at each other in disbelief, knowing that they had to do something.

 

They watched as the pair were fighting without holding back, using every trick possible to make their opponent fall at their mercy. Some of the fights near them had stopped, attackers lurking around, watching their leader fighting with wit. Some of them were ready to step in at any time if needed. 

 

Not like Ryuuko needed help.

 

But Rois Marin’s jock was stubborn as well.

 

Ryuuko went forward and dodged the baton. During his jump, he rested his hand on Roi Singe’s head before holding onto his enemy’s shoulder blade, dislocating it.

 

Roi Singe’s scream of agony echoed in the battlefield, making some people shudder.

 

Ryuuko was ready to use his sword once again. But when another sword met his, he looked up to see the rabbit fighter, shielding her partner behind her. While Bunnyx’ small build was underestimated, she still clashed her sword with his. The dragon themed gang member was only protecting his land and he wouldn’t hesitate before killing another pest.

 

Although the dragon was fast and was trying to intimate her, punching him in the throat.

Bunnyx reciprocated the attacks perfectly.

 

At least for enough time for the boys to get out and retreat.

Chapter Text

“I don’t get how we weren’t informed of this,” Bunnyx yelled.

 

Roi Singe flinched while Pegasus kept a thoughtful frown on his face, leaning forward the table and resting his chin on his hand, while the other arm was gripping the other’s elbow.

 

They had left the warzone quickly after making sure the few members alive were out and safe. It was hard enough to walk in groups, with Bahamut’s members looking for revenge, but they made it at last.

 

The young leaders were in the meeting room, located in a skyscraper. Away from prying eyes and ears, the room  was soundproof, decorated with metal bars and no windows, with a vent for changing the air inside the room, where some of Max’s big, and high technology was placed.

 

Pegasus had his laptop in front of him, with the big removable screen he took everywhere with him. Inside of it resided Markov that, with time, became more of a friend than a simple smart robot he created.

 

The game and robot creator had made sure to install a safety system, with scanning rays for any unfavourable pressense, as well as an alarm inside every headquarters in their territory. After all, their gang was technology centered, where advanced robotics and programs were keys to control everything. To pretend that the headquarters were simple companies, members didn’t hide that they went there to work on projects, gathering in rooms full of computers.

 

“The members of the Burrow should have known about Ryuuko.” Bunnyx looked at them with deadly glare “He now knows we are one again, and might come after us. With how we dared to attack them, we are now a threat to him after all. He will not have second thoughts to eliminate us.”

 

Pegasus hummed, attracting Bunnyx’s attention. She looked at him from across the table expectedly.

 

“I got an email,” he said, “journalists are already telling the aftermath of the brutal war. In a few hours, everyone in Paris would know what happened.”

 

***

 

ChatNoir strode the corridors,  listening as another member was by his side, telling what seemed to be a mental list of news.

 

Everyone on guard duty heard and knew of what had gone wrong in the south of Paris.

 

It was a horrible massacre as everyone assumed, like every war Bahamut was a part of. Suddenly, Ladybug emerged from another corridor joining ChatNoir to his destination. She, too, with her blunt mask and confident stride, acted like a deadly member. They looked respectable due walking like that.

 

In no time they disappeared behind double doors, leaving the messenger left out. On the contrary of their usual family meetings, Hawkmoth seemed to have summoned a few other higher ranks in the gang, already proven by Ladybug’s presence next to Chat Noir.

 

“Father, if some gang of fools decided to attack such a strong leader, they might as well come to us next time.”

 

“You act like they won already.” Red scoffed at his dramatic behavior. “They would need to control a district on our borders first to do that.”

 

“They did take a lot of time to attack the dragons though.” Ladybug bemused, “they might take just as long for them to get in here.”

 

“And they won’t even get past the borders.” Red reminded her.

 

The chatting kept on, Hawkmoth listening patiently and looking at the screen of his laptop. Somehow, he got his hands on some footage of the fight, before and after.

 

“Ruuyko appearing was out of place, he should have been in the HQ.” Hawkmoth said for the first time through the meeting.

 

"Sure, he must have had business there." Red said. “Maybe there was-”

 

***

 

On the other side of the door, some people were guarding the main entrance of the meeting room. The murmurs of the great bloodshed hadn't quietened down yet, making it impossible for one of the guards to not notice the butterflies in his stomach. 

 

Carapace couldn’t stand such fights, hearing of past ones between the Miracle Gang and the Bahamut, only leaving a few survivors unwounded.

 

He feared for his life to go down the drain like that, one day. Carapace didn’t like the gang that much to the point of sacrificing himself. The only reason as to why he was there , was because he had a family he intended to keep safe and happy. He would do everything possible to not make them go sad over his mystery of a death.

 

He looked at the clock, it was still a few hours to the end of his shift.

 

***

 

Nino turned the key in the lock, opening the door. He knew that after Alya’s classes on Fridays, she got home spent, and just slept until he woke her up. He put down his keys on the bowl near the entrance, closing the door behind him. The young man went straight to the kitchen, putting the bags of take out on the table and washing his hands in the sink, filling a glass with water to drink after everything else was done.

 

He carefully took their food out onto plates and arranged them nicely. After he went to find Noël studying in his room, calling him to the table. As he suspected, he found Alya asleep.

 

“Alya?” he called, getting her hair out of her face. “Wake up babe. We are going to eat dinner.”

 

“Hmm, coming now.” he kissed her forehead again, smiling down at her.

 

“Are you ok, Nino?”

 

“Yeah, just reminding myself of how much I love you.”




Chapter Text

The dinner was quite lovely. They had taken their plates to eat in front of the TV after putting in some movie. 

 

Nino was happy to know that his girlfriend and brother went along well.At first, he thought they wouldn’t. However, they seemed to care for each other deeply, making him happy that everything turned out great in the end.

 

Nino wouldn’t trade this moment for the world. To see Alya yelling at the screen, frustrated at the idiots in love, feeling her snuggling more into his shoulder. To watch Noël supporting her through this fangirling over the happy couple when they finally kissed, sitting on the floor with his back to the sofa.

 

An hour later, the plates rested on the coffee table, Alya was wide awake from her afternoon nap. Because of her new energy boost, she decided that she could work on her assignments after the movie was done. 

 

“I can do the dishes.” Nino offered. “Go focus on your studies.”

 

"Thank you Nino." the young blogger smiled warmly at her boyfriend, pecking him on the lips.

 

The moment Alya left the room, Nino turned around to look at his brother.

 

“Noël, why don’t you do me a favour and do the dishes?” he told his brother with pleading eyes.

 

“Weren’t you the one offering to do them? Sorry dude, but no.” his brother shrugged him off.

 

“Dude, I’m tired, I had a long day… It’s not that much of a mess, com'n.”  his tone shifted to a more serious tone.

 

“Nino, do your crap, and leave me alone, it was Alya’s turn to do them anyway.” Noël groaned. “Did ya really think you were the only one tired tonight? You chose to be the nice boyfriend, so you do the dishes.” 

 

With those last decisive words, Noël left to walk in his room, shutting the door behind him. 

 

Nino lifted the dishes up with himself before stomping angrily to the kitchen area. If he was fast, he might be able to work on one of his projects.

 

The young DJ took a summer job, having fun creating music for it. He would work online for university so his other job couldn’t be an obstacle. 

 

He heard water running, assuming someone was in the bathroom. The young man glanced at the clock. Ten past ten. Huffing, he knew that it was already too late to work on his musical piece tonight. Just setting up the dining table to work there on his laptop would already take too much time.

 

“Nino?” he heard a muffled voice. 

 

Identifying the owner of the voice, he stopped working on the dishes. After cleaning dry his hands, he advanced to the bathroom.

 

“Noël? Everything’s ok?” 

 

“Forgot my towel in my bedroom. Can you get it for me, please?” embarrassment illuminating his voice.

 

“Sure, bro.”

 

Nino went  to grab the towel quickly before coming back to his chore. But he didn’t find it where Noel said it was. He went to open the drawers, knowing where his brother stored his things. Grabbing a gray towel, a tick sound stopped him dead.

 

Looking down, he saw the reason for the sudden sound, a purple card on the floor. If the man needed to guess, it probably had been stuck into the folds of the towel.

 

“Nino, never mind, the towel was here, just fell off the hanger.” he heard his brother shouting again.

 

He crouched and held the card in his hand. He couldn't predict how long he had been standing there staring down at the plastic card. Shuffling noises of the door’s knob seemed distant in his own ears while he returned everything to its place, pretending as if nothing happened.

 

“Nino, are you still here?” Noel asked, annoyed.

 

“I was getting you a towel before you changed your mind, dude.” he huffed while getting out of the room, letting out a ragged breath and slowly navigating his way to the couch. 

 

He sat down, turning on the TV, and leaned into the comfortable furniture more, closing his eyes for a second. Quiet steps proved that his brother followed him.

 

“Nino.” Noël whispered his name.

 

He ignored it, humming whilst pretending that the quest for more comfort on the sofa was more interesting. He heard a soft perfect then, as the front door was unlocked and closed soon after.

 

Surprised, Nino jolted on his feet, taking his coat and cap on. He opened the door following down the stairs, still hearing Noel's steps echoing not far away.

 

An hour later he was passing through the security in the headquarters.Getting lots of weird looks since he was mostly in civilian clothes, only wearing his mask on, Nino ignored everyone. He’d a goal and wanted to check if his suspicions were right.  

 

“Carapace, I thought your shift ended three hours ago.”  someone snarked at him.

 

“I forgot something in my lockers, if you excuse me.” 

 

He knew nobody started a shift without passing through the locker room. He just hoped to find what he was looking for. The skinny build of Timetagger right ahead made him know that he did.

 

“Do you have a problem?” he heard the familiar yet strange voice.

 

His little brother was pretending to be tough. To be older.

 

“Nothing much. Carapace.” he introduced himself, offering a handshake, which his brother didn’t accept and glared before going his way.

 

Ouch

 

His brother was just like him, fearing that it was real. They couldn’t deny that his only blood relative was a gangster anymore.

 

You never know, Nino. he thought, taking something from his locker and leaving. Hawkmoth could threaten anyone in his territory to make them join. Even Adrien could be a lower rank here.

 

He knew that it was a futile way to focus on something else than his own problem. Yet Nino started to think about his friend, mentally hoping that he was alright since he needed to go to the eight district to film a movie.

Chapter Text

Adrien usually never shuffled his feet, but today he felt too tired to physically fight the urge to do so. His chest felt tight. There was a wall of emotions pounding to get out from inside of him. It had been culminating from the start of his training to now, and he expected it to last until he died, in which it would then be passed to some other poor soul who had to experience that same suffering of no grasp of what a normal life would be.

 

Still, he guessed it would be better than being a fearful citizen. 

 

That’s a lie and you know it.   Adrien’s bitterness cut through his thoughts, sharp and harsh. 

 

The truth was… They may be fearful, but that was because they had something to lose. Something that he couldn’t get, like a job that didn’t include possible death in its contract or a loving family. He’s seen the way people would flinch when he walked by as ChatNoir. But what truly broke his heart was how tightly they held each other, families huddled together and protecting their precious children.  He longed to be held that tightly, to know the love of a family.  

 

He felt the corners of his eyes get wet. No, you can’t do this. Not now. Stay tough. MAN UP! But the tears began to build up.  

 

“AUGH! Stop it you idiot!”  He pressed his palms against his temples and shook his head hard, but the tears kept flowing.  

 

His cheeks felt warm as he saw some confused and fearful citizens staring at him from the corner of his eye. He slipped into an alleyway and took a deep breath, letting the silent tears fall.

 

“C’mon man,” he whispered to himself.  “Pull yourself together. If not for me then for Chloe.”  He forced himself to stop the tears and adjusted his outfit, stepping out of the hallway and strolling past the buildings of the seventh district.  

 

To comfort himself, Adrien thought about his past civilian life. Back before Paris showed its true side to him.  He’d wake up to a bright sunny sky, get ready and step out of the house as a bright boy ready to take on anything. 

 

Only to be brought back inside and given a pile of work. 

 

Adrien Agreste didn’t enjoy homeschool that much but he assumed that it was better than nothing. ChatNoir never realised how naive he was as a child, how much he had. A giant house, a bedroom full of anything he desired, a loving father. Well. Sort of a loving father. He was still grateful for that anyhow.

 

He was reaching the border between the seventh and eighth districts. As he crossed over, his mind ran through all the things he’d gotten to do in his civilian life. Until that one day his Father sat him down a month after Mother’s death, and laid down the truth.

 

“Adrien… there’s no easy way to tell you son.”

 

“What’s goin on?” Adrien’s chipper voice replied.

 

“I…Ok. So….it’s time you know.” Adrien’s face was suddenly struck with worry as he saw the concern on his father’s face.  “Well… I’m afraid your mother has tried to keep this hidden from you, but you’re getting to the age of gang training.”

 

“Father, no! I don’t think I’m ready! And I’ll be so far away from you, I don’t think I can do this!”

 

“I know you son. You can. And once you do, I’ll be waiting for you. A new empire is arising. And I have now taken control of the first district. Together, you and I son, we can rule the whole of Paris!”

 

Adrien didn’t want to do it. What happened to being good, protecting and standing for others in the district from people that tried to attack them , like his mother had always said? But something about the look his father gave him, a type of expectant pride that he would accept, prompted a burn in his chest, a longing to please his father.

 

“…Ok. I’m in.”

 

-

 

His thoughts were perturbed when Adrien caught sight of Chloe, who stood impatiently on a bridge tapping her foot. Behind her, Adrien could see the tents and the equipment for the outside scene they needed to do today.

 

“Took you long enough,” Chloe remarked, the annoyance clearly set on her face.

 

“Sorry.”

 

“Now stand by whilst I prepare my self-announcement.”

 

“Do we really have to-”

 

“SHUSH!  I’m starting!

 

“For many eons, Paris has longed for a proper gang.  One that was the best .  Truly.  And now we have been blessed with the best. Me . Be honored to breathe the same air as Chloe Bourgeois, queen of the Perfector gang!! Together, we travel the streets of Paris saving the lost and forgotten. I guide Paris as Queen Bee, a beautiful and extremely heroic member of the Perfector gang, being kind and generous and-”

 

“Can we just skip this part? I’m tired of it.”

 

“Fine!” Chloe still pouted at the cut off.

 

“The Perfector Gang is an exclusive group only for the most elite of members.  This includes Theo Barbados, Stormy Weather and Invisible, the best of the best, truly!  We-“

 

“Ok can we wrap it up now?”  The impatience in Adrien’s voice was prominent.

 

“Fine.  That’s it, you get a shortened version because you already know how amazing we are.  Now, let’s start filming.” 

 

With that, Chloe snapped into a quick position, nice and still.  She gave side glances at Adrien before making a sour face and snapping, “I said now!”

Chapter Text

 

The streets weren’t the quietest she’d ever seen them, but there was still something dark and brooding ready to strike soon. With all that happened recently, it wouldn’t be hard to believe that there was more going on than meets the eye.

 

Anyhow, Marinette wanted to focus on relaxing, before needing to deal with future problems later. Paris didn’t let her guard down fully, but it was better than anything. Yet as she approached the Liberty, she wanted to be a normal civilian even for a few hours.

 

“Thanks for coming,” Luka said.

 

With a strong build he was towering over her. Luka sported a red hoodie with jeans, which complimented his upswept black hair with its tips dyed green. His peach skin complimented his sky-blue eyes and pale pink lips.

 

The two found themselves reclining on chairs at the stern. Marinette closed her eyes and felt the gentle breeze on her cheeks as the sweet, delicate notes sung from Luka’s violin.

 

“I like that new violin.” she commented at the end of his piece. “It’s got a crisp and deep and rich sound.”

 

“It’s new,” he replied. “Just finished it off.”

 

“The scroll’s made out of spruce, the rest of willow and maple. I was hoping to make it like Stradivarius. It mightn’t be the exact same, but it was nice to put a lot of time, money, experience and knowledge into my pride piece.”

 

She stared at the way the light cast a glow on the dark rich instrument.  “It’s a Luka Couffaine original,” she whispered. He chuckled.

 

Luka played a new piece, while Marinette looked at the landscape around her.

 

“It’s so peaceful here.  I can just take in the beauty of the Seine, without worrying about anything.” the woman sighed

 

“That’s life in the neutral zone.  You should try it sometime.  So what’ve you been up to lately?” Luka asked.

 

“Mm…Well, I met up with my friend Kagami a while back. We met up for a walk and then I watched her practice and we went to a cafe after. She keeps wanting me to move to the Bahamut territory for some reason. If it’s not about that, it’s about how she wishes the gang would reclaim the fourth district.”

 

“That’s a bit odd. Maybe it’s her way to make sure you are safe since she’s from their territory?”

 

“Maybe.”

 

A small lapse of silence followed, before the soft notes of the violin rang out once more.

 

“Hey, where’s Juleka?”

 

“Juleka went out to buy some groceries on the eighth.”

 

-

 

Juleka felt a chill run up her spine.  She’d spent too long finding the grocery shop and had taken a shortcut to save time.

 

But something felt off about this alleyway.

 

Suddenly she heard a rustle, which was quickly followed by a grunt and a thud.

 

“Now you listen to me,” she heard a threatening voice whisper.  Fear gripped her tightly as she began to run, turning a corner only to fall onto the very source of the sounds.

 

Someone was looming over a poor woman, trapping her against a wall. The man was wearing a basic low-level gang member uniform and a bear mask.  Juleka turned to leave before she was noticed, but something within her made her stop and turn back around to the scene.  She couldn’t leave this poor woman defenseless.

 

Juleka could see she was shaking.  He was staring so threateningly at the woman that it was the perfect time to strike. She crept behind and attempted to punch him, only for him to quickly turn around and stopped her fist mid-swing.

 

“Well… Hello there.” He whispered with a snide smile.  

 

Within seconds, Juleka found herself flipped over and backed up against the wall, next to the woman. She felt those chills creep up her spine again, as he approached closer and closer.  But suddenly he wasn’t looking at her anymore as he was tapped on the shoulder.  Upon looking around, Marinette’s fist swiftly but forcefully met his face and he fell to the ground.

 

“Juleka!  Are you hurt?” She quickly ran to Juleka’s aid, along with her brother.

 

“Thank goodness you guys are here.” she pulled them tight into a hug.  “I was so scared.”

 

“How’d you end up here?” Luka asked.

 

“I was making my way back from the grocery store and I wanted to be quick so you wouldn’t worry about me. I took a shortcut, and, well…”

 

“Doesn’t matter.  At least you’re safe now, sis.”

 

“How’s you guys finding me?”

 

“Well after you were gone, we rushed to the eighth district and heard some noises coming from the alleyway as we passed.  And here we are.”  Luka gestured to the alley.

 

Marinette began her maternal loving procedure, checking Juleka all over for any scratches or injuries. Once she knew her friend was ok, she smiled and cast her eyes to the woman next to them.

 

“Hi, I’m Marinette. Can I come closer?” Marinette asked. When she obtained a nod from the woman, she moved closer to check up on her. “What’s your name?” 

 

“I’m Maria,” she took Marinette’s hand to be helped up. “Thank you so much for saving me.  I-”

 

“Hold that thought.”  

 

Marinette gave a blow to the man’s stomach, making him groan in pain. Before he could try to run away Marinette took some zip ties from her pocket and tied him.

 

“Sorry. Continue?”

 

“Uh… yes. I-I was just walking down the street when this man snatched me and pulled me into this small alley. He-He mugged and a-assaulted me. I wasn’t sure if I was even gonna make it out of there alive. So… Thank you again.”

 

“No problem,” Luka and Marinette chimed in unison.

 

“And you. What’s your name?” Maria looked to Juleka.

 

“Um.  Juleka.”

 

“Well, thanks for trying to save me Juleka.  Even if it didn’t end so well.”  They all chuckled for a bit.

 

“Would you like us to walk you home?” Marinette offered.

 

“Alright. Thanks.” Maria smiled at the three.

 

Chapter Text

 

Luka and Juleka left the alley with Maria in tow. Marinette didn’t come with them, using the excuse that she would need to head back to the other side of the district to come home. They said their goodbyes, the young woman looking fondly at her friends when they went to bring Maria to her place safely.

 

When she was sure that no one was around anymore, Marinette looked down at the man at her feet. 

 

“Let’s get you to your superiors, hm?” she said, hauling him up.

 

Marinette forced him to walk to the nearest headquarters. Arriving there, she kicked him, making him fall on the floor in front of the building. 

 

She moved away, hiding behind a tree as the guy was found by the patrol guards. After looking at him, seeing the state he was in, the guard  kicked him, before dragging him into the gates, laughing like mad men. Marinette couldn’t find it in herself to pity him seeing as she was a gang member herself that refused to attack innocent civilians for fun.

 

She exhaled loudly as the gangsters disappeared behind the metal gates. Looking around her, she mentally planned her way to go home, while making sure to walk a bit away from the HQ.

 

When she noticed the dim alleyway nearby, the street without too many people walking in it, she saw her chance to fly. But before she could do anything, a car honked loudly before stopping a meter away from her. It startled her, but a familiar person got out of it, calling her name.

 

“Woah, Adrien, everytime I think you showed all your cars off, I find you with a new one!” she scoffed.

 

“Marinette, I thought you knew me better.” he chuckled.

 

“I thought I did, too.” 

 

“Anyway, what are you doing here?” Adrien asked, leaning on his car holding the door still.

 

“What are you doing here?” 

 

“I was filming a few scenes for a movie, you?” he chuckled, before answering.

 

“Aah, I was meeting up with Luka.” she rubbed her forearm, looking away, as if she hadn’t carried a scumbag to the HQ.

 

From the concerned look he gave her, Adrien didn’t buy her lie. He still didn’t try to pry, since he believed it would only make her uncomfortable to talk about her ex.

 

“Hey, why don’t you get in?” He smiled warmly, inviting her to enter his car. “I can give you a ride to your place. Maybe getting dinner or some baker’s daughter can make us one of her special dishes.”

 

“Oh, do I know her?” she giggled, pretending to be ignorant of who he was referring to.

 

“Nope, but I do know she’ll welcome us with open arms in her kitchen.”

 

“Well, let’s go then.” 

 

She advansed, getting in. It always seemed to be more comfortable than the time before, from the soft leather seats to the sweet scented air.

 

“What do you want to eat for dinner?” Marinette asked.

 

“You don’t have to cook, I was joking. We could order a take out.” 

 

“Nah, where’s the fun in that?”

 

The young man drove the car to her place. Chatting comfortably, they tried their best to forget their problems.

 

“Just let me unlock the door.” she said when they arrived at her apartment building.

 

Adrien stood politely back, letting her open the door.

 

“There, please come in.” she said with the lock clicking, inviting him in. 

 

“Your place is really nice. Are those new?” she saw him looking at the carpets.

 

“Adrien, you say that every time you get here.” she facepalmed.

 

“Couldn’t be possible, they weren’t that red before.” he argued, failing to contain his smile.

 

She told him to get comfortable and choose a movie to watch, while she would cook something. They sat back on the couch eating, while watching a show on the TV.

 

Adrien zoned out after putting his plate in the sink. He couldn’t help but to think of his lady. If they could live in the same home, he would help her around, to share the load. And if he was lucky enough, he could play with the kids they would have too.

 

When they’d be ChatNoir and Ladybug, they’d still have some time to be a couple. He would pull her into his dorm, pinning her to the wall. Giggles escaping her throat, he would press his lips to hers, taking her giggles and sweet sounds in. He could already imagine her kissing him back just as eagerly.

 

With them just being partners, ChatNoir was already trying to stay closer to her, relishing in her warmth. He found her blurry red face adorable, taking pride to be the one making the mighty Ladybug blush like a sweet teenage girl. After every heated kiss they could have, he would lean back to her, kissing her more slowly, sweetly, making her melt into him. To show that he truly loved her with every kiss, every touch and word he would use.

 

“Adrien?” he heard Marinette’s voice calling him, breaking his daydream state. “Are you alright?”

 

“Will I ever be happy, Marinette?” he eventually asked after a few minutes in silence.

 

She forgot everything she was thinking of, taking in her friend’s sad eyes.

 

“You just have to follow the path that makes you happy, Adrien.” she told him softly, putting her hand on his shoulder before whispering in his ear. “Don’t care for your old man’s opinion. Just go be happy.” 

 

Seeing the ghost of his soft smile, she leaned back, taking her hands away from his shoulder. Returning to cleaning the dishes, she couldn’t stop herself from wondering the same question as Adrien. 

 

Will I ever be happy? 

 

When Adrien left her apartment that night, his Lady staying in his heart and mind free of its bindings, he smiled. He’d take the path that would make him happy. To have her, kids, their house. That day, Adrien decided that he’d do anything to make it happen.

 

Chapter Text

 

Gabriel crossed the hallway to his office, jerking the door open. Everything seemed to be the same as he left it, but he knew otherwise. 

 

He remembered the way ChatNoir showed off the new jewelry he found, glistening in the light. And what he said during the previous family meeting made him sure of the intention behind his son’s mask.

 

”Adrien will be the one taking after me,” Gabriel had told the head of the Graham de Vanilly family, Félix’ grandfather.

 

“Wise choice. We need to keep this into the family, Gabriel. Later in life he will provide us with more heirs. The gang needs to stay united.” the old man mused. “What do you think of that Adrien?”

 

“I think that’s a great idea. I already have a bride in mind.” he smiled.

 

“What do you mean, son?”  Gabriel narrowed his eyes.

 

“I thought about my future too, recently. And a family of my own.” Adrien leaned back on his chair, letting his father and his mother’s family take his decision in. 

 

“Don’t be foolish and commit yourself.” Felix hissed in his face, while his grandfather stared at him silently.

 

“It’s not foolishness. I want to live my life happily.” he glared. “Besides, don’t we just agree that I needed to have children? I need a wife for that.”

 

“Any girl will throw herself at you to sleep with you one night. Besides, you don’t need a wife to have heirs. Just a woman.” he snorted. 

 

“Well, unlike you, I don’t see women as things I can throw around, idiot.” he shot back.

 

“Silence.” their grandfather’s voice rang in the room, cutting the thick tension between the two blondes.

 

“Adrien, what such a thing possessed you to think of selecting someone already without talking about it with us first?” Gabriel asked his son firmly.

 

“I am talking about it now . And I don’t know, father. Maybe because it’s my life, therefore my choices to make?”

 

“Adrien, such a fine man you’ve grown up to be, your mother would’ve been proud of you.” the old man smiled at Adrien, “It is a pleasure to see that some young people still believe marriage is important, before having heirs. Who’s the lucky woman?”

 

“Ladybug.”

 

The name wasn’t a surprise in itself. Maybe Adrien thought he was so careful, but it was obvious when he was flirting with her. He was disappointed. And with how when his son had an idea stuck in his head he would do anything to make it happen, Hawkmoth   will have another talk with the bug.

 

He slammed his save shut when he couldn't find what he was looking for. That brat was rebelling using what he had taught him.

 

“Nathalie!” he shouted, making the woman appear hastily at the door frame.

 

“Yes, sir?” 

 

“Call Adrien down. NOW.” he screamed.

 

He heard her clearing her throat, and knew that his anger would be fueled by her next words.

 

“Unfortunately, he had gone out not long ago. I’m sorry, sir. Anything else I can do?”

 

He glared at her, sweeping everything on his desk onto the floor, panting, face flushed.

 

“Sir, may I recommend calming down?” 

 

“May you- How dare you recommend you to calm down like I was a child throwing a tantrum!” he screamed, doing exactly what he denied being. 

 

He fisted his hand hitting the surface of the empty desk.

 

“Nathalie.” Gabriel continued, his voice getting cold and distant. “He stole his mother’s ring.” 

 

He knew how important it was to have the ring in his sight. And not simply because the Graham de vanilly heir was trying his best to steal it back from him, always looking for an opportunity.

 

“We can take it back, Gabriel. We know Adrien well, he can’t hide forever.”

 

****

 

Adrien sat at the cafe, staring at the ring in his hand. He was awed, wondering how an old heirloom was still so beautiful. The ring was simple yet wonderful, looking as if the silver used for it didn’t deteriorate with time. Adrien knew that the second Graham de Vanily heirloom, the marriage rings, was meant to be his aunt’s heritage. So he decided to let them be. It was already enough for now if he could propose.

 

He started to fantasize about how the ring would look on his lady’s finger. But first, he was meeting with Nino. After all, no marriage couldn’t be done without the perfect witness and DJ.

 

****

 

“At last, the mighty ChatNoir decided to stop hiding like a coward and face me like a man.” Hawkmoth stated, raging while ChatNoir stood tall and proud.

 

“Huh, I wasn’t hiding, I had business to take care of.” he scoffed. “Did you just… Waited in my room all day for me to come back?”

 

“You need to get Ladybug out of your mind,” he told him without answering his son’s question, his face cooling to a mask blank of emotion. “If you truly love her you won’t risk her and her family.”

 

“Are you threatening her?” ChatNoir glared at the big bad moth that was his father. 

 

“Why wouldn’t I?” he smiled.

 

His smile grew wider when knew his son was boiling internally. After all, he didn’t know the girl behind the mask, so how could he protect her and her family like that?

 

“Adrien, if you know best for yourself and her, leave her alone.” his dark voice rang in his ears.

Gabriel turned away, one of the steps of his plan done. A few hours later, he was in his office in the Miracle Gang headquarters with Ladybug.

 

“Ladybug, I got you a mission.” Hawkmoth stared at her, sending chills down her spine.

 

Time for phase two of his plan.

Chapter Text

Grand-père, père yelled at me again.” a five years old Adrien showed up at his grandfather’s room at the mansion. Red eyed, the child threw himself at the old man's arms, asking to be comforted.

 

“Ah, mon petit , don’t cry because your father was mean.”

 

“He destroyed my toy.” he sobbed harder.

 

“I’ll buy you a new one.”

 

“Really?” he looked up at his grandfather with big, wide, sparkling eyes.

 

“For you, really.” he smiled, happy when Adrien wiped away his tears, grinning, with arms bound around the man’s neck.

 

Years later, Adrien still held a place in his grandfather’s soft heart. When he was overwhelmed, he knew where to go.

 

“Ah, all grown up and still crying to grand-père . Now, my boy, what’d get you frowning?” he said sitting on his vast comfortable seat.

 

“He is threatening her friends and family, and most of all he is threatening me with her.” he ranted, watching his grandfather opening a closet, only to offer him a bottle of liquid.

 

He took it eagerly, opening it and taking a swig of it, while his grandfather was sipping from his glass.

 

“So what, protect her.”

 

“I don’t know who she is.” he whined, taking another swig.

 

“Careful or you're gonna get drunk.” he warned.

 

“Let me get drunk please, my father is a jerk.” he hiccuped.

 

“Well, isn’t that old news?”

 

“What am I going to do? Am I going to be unhappy forever?” 

 

“Stop being a weak boy for your father to control, and take matters into your hands.” he took another sip, watching the mess that was his grandson.

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“Learn her identity.”

 

“And the ring? He wants it back.”Adrien whined, he took it out of his pocket, showing it as well as admiring it again.

 

“Your mother’s ring!” he gasped, “it holds more than you imagine, mon petit . Of course your father wants it back.”

 

Adrien looked at him, perplexed.

 

 “Drink water, Adrien. You need to be sober for story time.” 

 

****

Ladybug, under the curtain of the dark sky, had sat crouched on a rooftop opposite the Agreste mansion, watching a particular room closely. Signing, she recalled every detail of her new mission, which was weirdly involving none other than Adrien Agreste.

 

Hawkmoth knew she was friends with him in her civilian identity. Was he mocking her? Telling her she was his toy to control, even if the harmed party were her close ones? 

 

She wouldn’t put it past him. He was an ill twisted man after all.

 

She watched as the blonde got out of his bathroom, steam around him telling he took a hot shower. He laid down on his bed, turning off the lights. She waited a good while to make sure he was asleep before taking action.

 

She frowned, the cold midnight air ruffling her blonde wig. She wasn’t a thief, so why didn’t ChatNoir take the mission instead? He would have been better at doing the job. 

 

Her watch lit up. A sign she was waiting for to execute the plan.

 

She stood up before leaping, getting into the mansion’s gardens. Everything was too quiet, as if it was prepared for her. Cursing about hating climbing glass windows, she threw her rope, bounding it around a vent on the roof. Ladybug made sure it could hold her weight before starting climbing up. 

 

Strangely enough, she found the window cracked open. Suspicious, the spy still found it easy to navigate to his bed, as moonlight shone in the room. Adrien was on his back, with what seemed to be the ring Hawkmoth was looking for in his hands interwinding on his chest. It seemed too easy. She stared at his handsome face with a sad frown, slowly breaking his hands apart, holding the left one to slip off the ring.

 

Suddenly, her arm was held firmly in place, finding him staring up at her. 

 

She gasped.

 

Ladybug tried freeing herself. She had no business to do there anymore as she got the ring she was looking for.

 

“What are you doing here?” if someone told her Adrien would have a deep dark voice she wouldn’t have believed them. Was that really Adrien?

 

“Let me go, if you want to live to see the morning.” she hissed.

 

“I want my ring back.”

 

“And I want my arm.”

 

“What did I do to deserve my mother’s ring being stolen from me?” She could see his glare reflecting in the moonlight.

 

She felt bad for her sweet kind hearted friend. He didn’t deserve this. Ladybug didn’t like that either, but she had to. She used her free hand to get her small knife out, making it sparkle in Adrien’s sight.

 

“Are you going to kill me?” she heard his gasp, “wasn’t it enough for you taking my mother’s property?”

 

She freed herself at last, pinning his hands down on the bed, only to notice his shirtless chest. 

 

“You never saw me.” she hissed, moving away.

 

“Paris will always be unsafe with the likes of you on the loose.” she heard him say while watching her leaping out the window into the night.

 

She returned to the roofs, feeling her heart ache. Fumbling with it, seeing beautiful engraves, Ladybug stared at the ring, trying to see what was so special for Hawkmoth to want it. She slipped it on her finger, only to feel as if a button was pushed when her glove made contact with it. She felt metal on the inside of her finger, until a small key had sprang out of the ring.

 

She gasped, before figuring out how to turn the key back in. Another thirty minutes later, Ladybug was handing it to Hawkmoth, seeing the glint of victory in his eyes.

 

Chapter Text

“That ring, Adrien, has a key built into it.” Adrien’s grandfather had said a few hours earlier. “Your mother loved designing jewellery. She had made this to keep her and Gabriel's secrets safe, hiding them in her heirloom, away from her sister.”  

 

The grandfather looked down at his semi drunk grandson.

 

“Come on, boy, get up.” The older man stood up, his feet carrying him gracefully and steadily. He stopped at the staircase, looking over his shoulder to see Adrien following with wobbly steps.

 

“Papy, I don’t think I can get down those stairs.” he whined.

 

“Of course you can. Man up!”

 

Adrien forced himself down the stairs. He took a few steps without tripping, but  he almost tripped on some others. After a while, they made it to the room under the stairs, the old man calling a maid when they arrived.

 

“Make two cups of coffee and deliver it here with some bottles of water.” he ordered as he was opening the door. When the door was open and lights on, he invited Adrien in.

 

“See, mon petit, this was your mother’s workshop.” he explained. “And today, we are going to use it to do a little prank on your father.”

 

 

“Here,” Ladybug presented the ring to Hawkmoth, and almost flinched when he snatched it right away.

 

She turned to leave before he stopped her.

 

“Have I dismissed you yet?”

 

Turning back around with her arms by her sides, she shook her head.

 

“Words.” 

 

“No, sir.”

 

“Better. Tell me, how are your parents? Their bakery still good?”

 

Ladybug tried her best to not show her surprise at the sudden change of subject. 

 

“Yes.” she bit her lower lip.

 

“And that internship in Gabriel?” he smirked.

 

“It’s going well.” she voiced her answer with gritted teeth. He was only reminding her that, as much as she hated it, he knew it all. Every bit of life.

 

“You can go now.” he said after staring at her for a few moments.

 

Mayura watched her leave through the door, before turning back to Hawkmoth, who was looking at the ring.

 

“I told you. We got it. What now?” 

 

“We need to make sure he didn’t get the papers.” 

 

An hour later, Hawkmoth was frustrated as the key in the ring wasn’t unlocking nor opening the safe. He realised he may have underestimated his son.

 

“It’s fake, Nathalie.” he roughly let out a harsh whisper. Although, from one look at his face, it was very clear how he felt, behind his words.

 

His son was announcing a war, and he was not afraid to use whatever he could obtain to win.

 

 * * *

 

“You were right, papy.” he sighed on his phone, “He sent her to steal it. I’m glad that we made a copy of the key and let him steal it.”

 

“It’s ok, Adrien, you still have the upper hand. I always knew you were bright, just like your mother.” the older man declared, before sighing. “If only I could know what she saw in your father...”

 

“I can’t help but wonder, too.”

 

There was silence on the line for a few seconds, before Adrien spoke again.

 

“I said mean things to her. But I still want to marry her.” 

 

“Ah, my dear. Love is powerful that way.” the man said. “Come visit your old man more often, mon petit .”

 

“Yes, grandpa.”  Adrien smiled. “I have to go now. She is waiting for me to go out for a mission. Hopefully my father won’t make a scene in front of her.”

 

“Okay, take care. Try not to get hurt.”

 

He hung up, and stared at his screen. He was afraid his drunken self had made Ladybug uncomfortable, he didn’t know what he was thinking.  

 

Thirty minutes later, he smiled when he saw her standing there when he finally arrived in the lobby.

 

“Here you are, ChatNoir.” she said. “Let’s get this over with.”

 

 




Chapter Text

 

The mission itself was something usual. Get out of the headquarters, leave for an area controlled by the gang, do a mission, come back to give a report and get some sleep or food before repeating the process. 

 

The mission happened in the third district, something about finishing taking care of civilians helping other gangs. Since the ball mission, a few of the ten people in that gala that were declared as helpers for the enemies were already killed, or forced to stop their little secret exchanges. Another mission meant another person in that list that would need to be punished, one way or another that day.

 

And like always, ChatNoir was sneaking around while Ladybug hit from a distance on a rooftop. She was hidden, covering her partner’s back as she observed from up there, snipper in hand ready to fire. She had a clear sight of the fight down there after all.

 

Their target had hired a group of bodyguards. The rich man had hated some policy to follow Hawkmoth had added, making him start to be one of the actors giving money to the Chimère and Perfector gangs. Ladybug didn’t know why of all gangs, he chose the one that was known as a bunch of brutals humans and the other renowned to manipulate to get everything their way. 

 

 

“Like what you see?” ChatNoir joked, his voice echoing in their earpieces.

 

“Something like that.” Ladybug answered, before swiftly moving her weapon to hit a man trying to attack her partner, shattering some glass in the process. “Focus on the mission Chat. The faster we finish this-”

 

“-The faster we can report and have a break away from this. I know I know.” ChatNoir grumbled, finishing up the last bodyguard before running to get to the stairs and be near the office where their target should be hiding. “Maybe we can hang out. Talk about… Everything that happened recently.”

 

“I’m going to take a well deserved break from the criminal after this mission.” Ladybug snorted before frowning and lifting herself up. “Changing position, Chat. I don’t have any visual on you or the target.”

 

“Got it.” he huffed, looking around while he was waiting for Ladybug to move to another rooftop to be able to see the office and the floor he was in more clearly. “You know, we could hang out as civilians too.”

 

“Knowing who you supposedly are under the mask doesn’t mean I’m going to reveal my identity and be all buddy buddy with you as if nothing happened, Chat.”

 

“Oh, no need to have an identity reveal.” ChatNoir grinned, a plan forming in his head. “After all, I already know who you are.”

 

 

The next minute was done in silence. 

 

 

“...What?”

 

 

ChatNoir might feel a little guilty to use that trick against his future wife. But he didn’t lie either. He knew Ladybug, a part of her at least. He didn’t know the name or the face under the mask, but he was trying to. 

 

 

“For example, I know your favourite colour.”

 

 

She panicked. He sounded so honest, so loving. She took a step back, just as she felt a drizzle of rain, or was it the reason she heard footsteps from behind her? She turned around to find a masked person with a knife.

 

They had lured them to change positions, setting up the trap for her. She dodged the knife as it was aimed for her, taking a step aside and hitting the guy’s arm, making him let go of the knife.  

 

 

“Change of plan.” Ladybug grunted. “The moment the target is killed, come back to roof level. They planned to have some people outside too.”

 

 

After that, the mission was finished easily. They reunited on a rooftop a few streets away from the mess they had made. The moment they heard people screaming or alerting others that the attack had ended, Ladybug ushered ChatNoir inside a building that was still in construction and empty. 

 

 

“You did good out there.” he smiled, winking her way.

 

“You, too.” she answered curtly, plopping herself down on the floor of a random room, while he followed suit.

 

“About what I said earlier, I didn't mean to sound like a stalker.” he pushed his shoulders up, while tapping his claws on the floor under them. “But I love-”

 

“ChatNoir, I don’t want to make a mess out of this, please. Your love can’t be true.” she sighed, watching the change from a soft smile to a frown on his face, while he straightened himself up.

 

“We have been working together for two years, I should have proven that I’m not going after a teenager's first love that never happens.” he smirked, crossing his arms. 

 

“You can’t be serious,” her heart broke with every word she uttered. 

 

“Let me show you how serious I am,” he declared. “You know, I hesitated a lot, not knowing when would be the right time.But my determination to show it, to prove it to you grows every time I fall more for you. Because I don’t only want you as my partner in crime, but in life as well. To be able to protect you, even outside of our suits. That I can hold you for years on end, and never truly get accustomed to the jewel I hold in my arms.”

 

“What-”

 

 

ChatNoir didn’t let Ladybug finish her sentence, the man lowering himself on one knee in front of her. Fumbling around to search something in one of his pockets, he took out a small black box from one of them. 

 

Ladybug knew what that position, what that box meant. And yet, she could only stay silent, too stunned to even breathe.

 

ChatNoir’s eyes, even behind his cat mask, seemed to shine fondly at her when he finally looked at her face. And with the softer voice she even heard him use, he asked the question Ladybug never thought she would hear one day.

 

 

“Ladybug… Would you marry me?”

 

Chapter Text

“CHAT! STOP, AND GET UP OFF THE GROUND! NOW!” The steel in her voice was unlike anything Chat had heard before, and honestly Marinette wasn’t expecting it either.

“But- I just-” he began to protest, standing up and putting away the ring, which LB recognised from their recent heist.

“I’m sorry, Chaton, but you should know out of all people, this can’t happen.”

“But I know your identity and, so, I thought we could be together…” Although Chat was an expert liar, Ladybug could read him like a book. His certain tells, the twitch of his nose, his wandering eyes…it was almost too obvious.

“Ok, well if you’ve found out my identity then tell me, who am I?” Chat thought for a while, attempting to find one of the most ambiguous names to get a decent chance at being correct, but the sceptical face of hers told him to quit whilst he’s ahead.

 

He dropped his head in disappointment and shame. She pulled him into a hug.

“Kitty,” she whispered tenderly, “Maybe, if we knew each other behind the mask, and met as civilians, we could be together. Because the truth is…I love you too. But we just… can’t, not in this lifetime. It’s just too hard.”

“Okay,” he replies softly, body slightly shaking as tears pour down his face. She said through silent tears, even softer,

“This was all such a big mistake.”

-

 

ChatNoir was at his lowest of lows. After LB had sprinted away from the room, he walked to a nearby wall and slumped down until he was sitting.

 

Knees curled up to his chest, he put his hands on top of them and buried his face, the warmth of his saline tears flowing like a river down his cold face.

 

He had royally messed up.

The one thing that gave him comfort amidst the darkness returned his feelings, but…They couldn’t be together. Ever.

“Ever,” he repeated his thoughts, a slight growl in the word. “…ever.” This time his voice shook as he whispered it.

 

What a bittersweet love. There had always been a pain in his chest, but he had never felt this intense burning, this pain in him. It was crushing him as he gasped for air, but the sorrow consumed him, a crashing wave that swept him under. He gave up, spluttering, sniffing and gasping. He stayed there for a while. And just…Cried. 

 



Ladybug leapt across the rooftops, quiet as a mouse. But although her feet were light, her heart felt heavy.

 

How could she have left her partner like that? Face blotchy and wet, alone in that room, overwhelmed by the pain. Despite the redness of his eyes, she could see the helplessness and hurt as she glanced one more time before leaving the room.

 

The truth was that it hurt her too. And it really hurt. Not just the heartache but the fact that if Mayura or HawkMoth ever found out about this, it guaranteed that she’d never see him again.

 

Her cheeks were still wet with tears after a few minutes of running away from that room, from ChatNoir, the cold air quickly freezing her face. The wind bit but she couldn’t care less about it. Her mind was racing with a million thoughts.

 

The best way to clear her head was to go to the Seine.

 

-

 

A district away from Ladybug, ChatNoir shook with his final sobs. He had finally stopped crying, after he had nothing left to cry, actually feeling much better.

That was a lie. And deep down, he knew it too. He felt trash. But less trash than before, at least. He was determined to make it work. He had to try, right?

 

Standing up from the floor, he dusted himself off, inhaled deeply, walking out of the room.

Chapter Text

“Hey.”  Chat sat down next to LB, legs hanging over the ledge just before touching the water of the Seine.  “I used your tracker.”

 

“…Hey.”  LB’s eyes were downcast. “I know.”

 

“I…Know you said it couldn’t happen and that we can’t, but I mean…What if we could?  We could work it out together, right?”

 

“Chat, you know already, I can’t-”

 

“But we can ! Don’t you see?  You love me, I love you, we could be together!  There’s some way, surely!  I mean, just think about it!! There’s so many possibilities, if we’re really determined!”

 

“I don’t think-”

 

“Hawkmoth doesn’t notice half the stuff going on , it’s just Mayura we’d have to take care of!  We could, uh, run her ragged with a bunch more random assignments she needs to give out and take care of!  Or send her word of a gang coming soon but never specify when, so she can spend all her time preparing for it! That way she would have less time to focus on how we react around each other!

 

“Really, I-”

 

“C’mon, let’s just pretend for a while!  We can pretend we’re civilians!  At least let me have a fantasy!  I can just be Adrien Agreste, innocent citizen and-”

 

Chat’s eyes suddenly widened at the realisation of his identity being revealed.

 

“Oh.” was the only thing that left his mouth.

 

Ladybug clapped a hand over her mouth, her eyes as wide.

 

“This is…Bad,” she said upon removing her hand.  “Oh, this is bad.  I’m screwed. We’re both doomed.”

 

“What? What’s so bad about it?” he asked, so sick of the many lies surrounding them. He couldn’t possibly see how one truth being out, for her eyes to see, and ears to hear could be that horrible.

 

“What do you mean ‘what’s so bad’? An identity reveal means no more contract with Hawkmoth, Chat! What if he does something to you? You just revealed your identity to me and out in the open too!  Who knows who might’ve heard you!?”  Her calm statement had quickly escalated into a shout.

 

“Well if anything, they’re most likely gonna hear that more than my identity.”

 

Ladybug clamped her mouth shut in a straight line, looking at the Seine.

 

“Sorry, sorry. I’m just kinda freaking out.” she apologized, continuing to talk after a pause. “ I need some space.  I’ll…See you later.”

 

Like a lightning had struck him, he stood up, eyes heavy with unshed tears. He walked away, respecting her wish, hoping it would change soon. 

 

-

 

Ladybug didn’t trust herself to go back to the headquarters without blurting his name out. So, she concluded to pace across a rooftop instead .

 

“How-who-why- huh!?” she babbled.

 

She tried to talk to herself but a billion more thoughts rushed through her head.  She could barely think about one without seeing twenty others and hearing forty more whispers in her ear. But suddenly, all seemed to stop as one fleeting thought came to mind.

 

“Is this…A set up?”  Her eyes moved left to right as if reading the words written so clearly in her mind.  “What if… what if he wasn’t Adrien and it’s just a complete setup?  What if he’s doing something for HawkMoth?  Testing my loyalty?  Trying to out me?  Or find a way to get rid of me?  I mean, I wouldn’t put it past him…”. She trailed off in thought.

 

Stopping her paccing, she could only frown at the roof under her feet.

 

“Ok.” she decided, “I’ll just…Keep my distance from him for a while, whilst I figure things out and see if it’s a setup or not.”

 

Because if it was… It wouldn’t just be her reputation that was broken.

 

Chapter Text

Marinette woke up in a cold sweat. She couldn’t believe it. Her dream seemed so lifelike…Crystal clear.

 

The vision was seared into her mind. Adrien walked alongside Gabriel Agreste, both of them cackling as she was trapped against a door. She pounded on it, shouted, screamed, but even though her voice echoed through the halls, nobody came. They approached her, sharing the exact same evil grin. And then Adrien leans in and whispers five short words.

 

“You didn’t forget, did you?”

 

And now she knew exactly what he meant. If ChatNoir is HawkMoth’s son….Then HawkMoth is Gabriel.

The person she had admired, been inspired by and taken bits of his concepts from in her designs…Was a hardened criminal leading a gigantic gang and helping terrorise the streets of Paris.

 

She felt so stupid.

 

Had she really been obsessing over him this much? To think about his every move, every intent as a designer, only to realise that his true identity was someone who made others suffer, crushed by his cruel weight and power over this place.

 

She had applied to intern for him, since his creations had constantly taken her breath away. She had always wondered what spurred him to make each piece but… was it hate that fueled him to make what she thought was beauty?

Was Marinette really this gullible?

 

No, she tried to comfort herself. How was I supposed to know he’s a notorious villain? They don’t seem anything alike, it’s almost unbelievable.

 

The true weight of this really sunk in at that moment, and her shoulders suddenly slumped, as if the mental weight had become physical.

 

She put her head in her hands and felt them become wet with delicate tears as she felt her whole safety net fall away, any certainty about anything being ripped apart.

 

And that’s when he entered. It was swift and silent.

 

She could barely hear Adrien slip into her bedroom after being given the key.

“Hey,” he whispered gently. “Are you alright?”

She flinched at the sound of his voice, but quickly relaxed after realising that he couldn’t say anything about her Ladybug self when she was Marinette.

 

She still didn’t say anything in reply, so Adrien sat beside her and gently stroked her back. After years of being friends, he knew that all she needed right now was silence. After a while, he whispered,

“Mind if I cry too?”

“Why?” She asked quietly.

“I royally messed up. Not to go into too much detail, but I spilled the beans on something that was supposed to be a secret and now it’s gonna ruin everything. It was so stupid, and it was a complete accident, but now I’m worried that I’ve completely ruined the relationship with one of my closest friends.”

 

Tears started pouring down his face, and Marinette stroked his back instead, replicating his very simple yet comforting move.

 

He chuckled after a while, when the flow had slowed down slightly.

“We’re just a couple of sad little beans today, aren’t we?”

“Yeah. But it’s ok to be sad beans together. It’s ok.”

 

Marinette then hugged him from the side, leaning into his warm and comforting presence. She only moved because she could see at that moment that it wasn’t a trick.

 

He was just a hurt boy. And she knew Chat would never purposely try and deceive her, unless he had a very very good reason….

Her train of thought was stopped when Adrien leaned into her in response, stroking her hair slightly.

And they stayed there, two sad beans trying to comfort each other.

Chapter Text

Some time later, the two separated and changed into their criminal personas. It didn’t take long for the two of them to run into each other whilst trying to find one another within the headquarters.

 

“Oh. Hi.” one of them said shyly.

“Hi.”

Some silence lapsed, before Chat asked,

“Do you wanna talk about it?”

“That would be nice.”

 

The two ended up sitting in a hidden storage room that was practically empty.

“So…”

“So…” LB repeated. “This is awkward.”

“Yep.”

 

“I have an idea to break the ice, but it’s kinda out there, if you’re ok with that?”

“Sure, as long as you’re not proposing again or anything,” LB replied in jest, only for her face to fall as Chat dropped his head in shame. “Wait…were you gonna propose again?”

 

He slowly nodded his head, eyes still downcast.

“Oh, Chat…sweetie…come sit here. We did say we would talk about it.”

“I’m sorry,” he replied as he walked over. “I just…I love you, ok? And I know you love me, and so I wanna marry you right away, so we can run away together and not be living in constant danger anymore…and-“

“I get it. It’s ok. I love you too. But marriage isn’t exactly gonna suddenly solve all our problems. We need to spend time thinking this through. I know you don’t like this life of crime, and I certainly don’t either, but it’s what we’ve been given, and we need to make the most of it.”

 

“Oh!” A light bulb suddenly turned on in Chat’s head. “What if we plan what we could do for us first, but maybe, eventually, have a takedown of HawkMoth? He’s the one controlling everything and without him, no more problems anymore!”

“Isn’t he your dad? Would you be ok with that?” Ladybug asked, frowning. “Besides, even if he was out of the picture, that wouldn’t mean someone -like Mayura as the second in command- wouldn’t just.. Continue his legacy.”

“…oh…yeah. I forgot. Honestly sometimes he seems so cruel I don’t believe that it’s my father.”

 

“I’m really sorry. I can’t imagine that.”

“Like you said, we’ve got what we’ve got. It’s not ideal but there’s no problem we can’t solve, right?”

“Right.”

 

Some silence ensued.

 

“How about we stay secretly ‘in love’ for now. When this whole HawkMoth thing smoothes over, however it turns out, we will be together and there to comfort each other if something bad turns out. Unless another boss takes over. If they do, then we’ll just have to form a revolt.”

“Cause chaos, like we normally do,” he replied with a smirk.

“Exactly,” she replicated his smirk.

 

“Ok, I can be down for that.”

“I’m glad.” They both stood up, and Ladybug faced him front on, placing her arms on his shoulders.

 

“I love you. We can get through this.” He, in turn, placed his arms around her waist and pulled her in tighter.

“Love you too.” And then she kissed him. And he liked it.

 

The pair changed to hug and slow dance to silence for a while -or at least as much as they could while being in a storage room.

 

Later, the two separated, beaming at each other. “We need to go soon, people will be suspicious.”

“That was fun.”

“Glad you liked it. It’ll probably have to be the first and last time we can do that. At least for a while.”

 

She kissed him quickly on the cheek before walking to the door, swaying her hips ever so gently. Just at the exit, she looked over her shoulder and winked. Chat melted, winking back.

Chapter Text

 

Ladybug and ChatNoir weren’t the only one having problems recently. Or at least trying to find some solution to their problems.

 

A couple of districts over, Gwyn Margaret , walked around the streets of the 14th district, the streets eerily quiet.  Normally there would be some sort of chatter, but Paris had been a bit explosive and unpredictable lately, so all the civilians stayed home in fear of being the next victim.

 

The young woman sat down on a park bench and whistled loudly. A labrador quickly pulled his head out of the bushes and trotted over, sitting down in front of the woman as if to present himself.

 

She chuckled lightly. 

 

“Hi, Dave,” she said in a baby voice.  

 

The dog wagged his tail in response. As the two sat in silence for a while, Gwyn’s thoughts drifted back to work and how much she loathed her manager.

 

“Gwyniver Margaret,” her boss would say in a prim voice, and Gwyn would dig her nails into her palms to stop herself from slapping her because she used Gwyn’s full name.  “You’re behind schedule.  Where are your notes for Mr Williams’ book?  And you still need to meet up with the cover artist for that book titled Who Knows Where.  Pick up the pace!  Oh, and here’s the quarterly.  Happy Friday.”

 

She had sighed and slumped in her seat.  No matter how much effort she put into her work, she couldn’t keep up and was constantly in fear of losing her job.  It had been so hard for her to find this one, especially since her people skills weren’t great.  But she needed a job to feel like a civilian and not just as a gang leader.

 

Speaking of which, her gang life also had someone she loathed. She could already think back to the last time she needed to see his face.

 

“Silent Swift,” he sneered every time she approached.

“Nerium.” she returned in a harsh voice.  “Fancy seeing you here.”

“Well I do happen to be the leader of the Datura gang, and we own this district, if you remember?” He explained in a condescending voice, as Gwyn, in her Silent Swift persona, stopped herself from rolling her eyes to deliver a comeback.

“I’m not sure, you’re honestly so forgettable.”

“Mm, hilarious,” he fake chuckled in his prime manner. “Why are you here?”

 

“None of your business.  Just let me leave and I’ll be out faster than you can say ‘Nerium is a stupid name.’”

“Such a terrible hit.  Are you even trying?”

“Well, why try when the competition isn’t so fierce? And anyways, why would I be here voluntarily?  You lure innocent citizens in with the bells and whistles, and then BAM!” She clapped her hands loudly, one on top of the other as if it was the jaw of a crocodile.  “They’re dead.”

 

“We’re only teaching them to not judge a book by its cover,” he replied innocently, a snide grin glued to his pasty face following his remark.  His grey eyes were null and void, demonstrating his psychopathic nature.  The gentle squeak of Gwyn’s leather gloves sounded, as she wrapped her hand around the handle of her dagger.

 

“No need to fight, eh?” He whispered threateningly, his tall and thin body looming over a somewhat short Gwyn.  “I’ll let you go…this time.”


At that point, Gwyn snapped back to reality, awakened by the cold press of Dave’s nose into her left palm.

 

“At least your life isn’t paw-ful,” she remarked, cooing to him as his tail wagged.

 

Suddenly, a loud rustle was heard out of a nearby alleyway, and Gwyn shot up.   Her ripped jeans rubbed against her legs as she crept slowly towards the source of the sound, her blonde hair flopping into the way of her vision.  She quickly swerved it away and creeped around.

 

Carefully, she crept and pressed her body tightly to the wall, before peeking around the corner.  Noticing her new mentee in the street , she realised the time.  Luckily she had her costume on hand to change into and quickly did so before revealing herself.

“Oh.  It’s you.”  She stepped out from her corner.

 

-

 

Menthé Tour fiddled with her curly brown hair.  It still felt unreal to be the protégée of such an amazing leader as Silent Swift. She knew her mentor knew that the moment she started to babble and trip over herself, too focused on her leader to think about anything else.

 

“Cmon, we got some work to do.  I’ll give you a briefing on the way there.”  She began walking in big strides and Menthé rushed to keep up with her fast pace.

“A nearby house has the goods.  We’re going in.  It’s also near 19th so it’ll be a great way to taunt Nerium.”

“Why do you need me then?” She squeaked, afraid to speak up.

“You’re my protégée, aren’t you?  Plus kids are easier with lockpicking.  Breaking a window and stuff is too messy. ”

 

Menthé normally would be prideful and unafraid to scope out scenes and figure out how to own them, but something about Silent Swift’s command was unsettling, and she had her head deeply bowed to the pavement.  

 

“Anyways, we’re here. What're you waiting for?  Go!” Quickly, Menthé hurried to the front door.  She fiddled with her tools and spent an agonisingly long amount of time picking the lock, or at least, what was considered ping by gang standards.  She constantly was worried that Silent would drop her.

 

Soon enough, she relaxed as the door opened.

 

“C'mon Gardia,” she called Menthé with her criminal name as Silent Swift stepped into the house.  “We’re cleaning this place out.”

 

Chapter Text

 

It didn’t take long for Silent Swift and Gardia to find what they were looking for.

 

As quickly as they entered, the two girls left. They made sure that everything was back in place, as if they never went inside. In a place they established as safe beforehand, they changed in their civilian clothes without watching the other. Menthé left first, with her gang outfit inside a bag, while Gwyn started to walk in another direction.

 

Gwyn looked at the bag resting on one of her hips, with a particular file inside of it. Having to be recognized by the leader of the Datura gang, with how much she stayed in his territory was worth it, in the end. She didn’t know why that man would recognize her that easily in her civilian or criminal personas, or cross paths with her that often.

 

But from what Menthé told her, it shouldn’t be a surprise. The Datura gang was well known due to the manipulation done on members of the gang, as well as inside the gang itself. They needed that, if they existed and kept their territory since the creation of gangs in Paris. 

 

Silent Swift didn’t have any other choice but to arrive in the Datura gang as a civilian. One way that the gang made sure to control the nineteenth district was to make sure that foreheiners from outside their land were controlled the moment they entered the territory as if they were criminals getting out of prison. Everyone believed that everything from outside of the Datura control was bad, evil even. 

 

She tried to be discreet most of the time, but the moment she was doing something for her gang, she needed to wear her criminal outfit. And like last time, Nerium caught her when she was trying to do a mission in his territory. 

 

Maybe the moment someone new arrived, Nerium was informed. Maybe that was why he would check on what she was doing most of the time she was there to try to track the place where her target was. It was in time like those that she was glad that she had her job. It helped that she still worked on some editing project for her company that she needed to do in that district. 

 

 

And yet, no matter how they controlled and manipulated everything in their territory, no one noticed that they took a precious file from their secret base. 

 

 

If she didn’t feel as if every step she made was watched in the streets, Gwyn would have laughed at the irony of it all. 

 

 

Menthé suddenly called her. Making sure to put some headphones on, Gwyn accepted the call.

 

 

 

“Miss, I didn’t ask you earlier but…” Menthé started, trying to be vague as possible if someone tracked and listened to what they said. “How would it help us?”

 

“Well it would be a gift for that woman. I learnt from my job that sometimes you need to accept defeat and just try to find a compromise.”

 

We would give the file to Gozen, the leader of the Bahamut. We can’t fight them, so we’ll find a compromise so that they don’t attack us.

 

“Like when your company needed to become a branch from another one?” she asked worriedly. 

 

Would that mean that our district would be controlled by the Bahamut now?

 

“No, let’s not be that dramatic.” Gwyn said.

 

 

The young woman was coming near the borders. She was glad that she had taken with her some black scotch that she used to put on the written data in the file. That way even when they checked her bag, they wouldn’t be able to read what was on the paper. 

 

 

“I’ll go to that woman’s place, while I’m going home. It’s faster than sending an email.” Gwyn informed Menthé, after greeting the man that would check her official papers to come and leave the district and the stuff she had with her. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend, right? Besides with how all the gangs seem to move a lot recently, my boss would try to stop any project outside of our district. One less pain in my ass to travel that far, but that means I see that damn woman more often.”

 

I’ll go to the Bahamut HQ on my way home to talk to Gozen. With how things move a lot, it would be beneficial if we give information to the Bahamut about another of their enemies, to try to make them focus on them, instead of our territory. We would not have to come back to Datura’s territory anytime soon, especially after they realise that the file is gone. 

 

 

The man giving back her identity card only raised her eyebrow at her. Looking at him sheepishly, she put a hand on her phone as if she wanted to mute the conversation. She apologized, muttering something about not getting enough credit after she needed to handle her boss that long. Seeing that it seemed to be enough to stop him from being suspicious, the guard opened the door behind him, letting her pass.

 

 

“What would be the gift, anyways?” Menthé asked when Gwyn was finally outside of the territory.

 

“You remember that she loves mythology?” Gwyn asked. “Well some article about the story behind one might interest her. It’s better in her hands than others right?”

 

The file is about the Chimère gang. Something secret about them that might crack the myth behind it. The Datura gang might have it to get some leverage against one of their neighbour's enemies. But if it helps us, it would be better in the Bahamut’s hands. 

 

 

Everything went according to the plan. When the Bahamut received the information about the Chimère and the people commanding it, they accepted the peace treaty between the Orang gang and them. 

 

It might put in danger people related to the Chimère hierarchy, but in this game, Gwyn was ready to do everything to survive. 



Chapter Text

Lila walked confidently into the headquarters. Some birdies told her about the weird appearance of some Miracule Gang figures on the south of their territory. They hadn’t asked for permission. The treaty between their gangs implied that they didn’t attack each other for some time, not accepting strangers inside their territory as if it was nothing. 

 

She put on her hoodie in the locker room, before she made her quest up to the leader’s office. 

 

“Boss, we have a cat and a bug trespassing.” she declared, entering without knocking first.

 

“And what are they doing?” he sat back on the chair, looking up at her with interlocked hands and a culacating glare.

 

“Killing time on the rooftops.”

 

     :   :   :

 

“You ok, m’lady?” ChatNoir asked her after they had left the motionless bodies in some alleyway.

 

Gang members had tried to attack them, so ChatNoir knocked them out. He looked at his partner and found her distraught.

 

The Bahamut had supporters, while the gang itself seemed to prepare for something big. Hawkmoth sent them to talk to the Chimère’s leader once again , in hope that they could strengthen their alliance. 

 

But from the look of it, Crocs d’Or didn’t want to show up.

 

“We’re wasting our time.” He could feel the annoyance and the exhaustion in her tone. “I got somewhere to be, talk to you later.”  

 

Despite the concern that overwhelmed him, he let her go, respecting her space. Ladybug ran away, as her civilian self needed to wait for some guest in her home.

 

***

 

Alya stared at the paper in her hands, dumfounded. She hadn’t told Nino that she went to the hospital, the test’s results had arrived earlier today. From the start, she knew it wasn’t normal when she kept throwing up, or when her limbs got more sensitive to the cold. 

 

Happy tears fell down her cheeks. It was Nino’s child and she couldn’t be happier, she needed to tell Marinette.

 

A while later she was in the metro, on her way to Marinette’s apartment as they had agreed the day before. Marinette cherished those times where she could do a normal hangout once in a while, to eat brunch with her best friend. 

 

Alya had more to tell her than the new scoop in her university though, and she couldn’t wait. With how nervous she was, she almost missed her stop. But after a few pushes and maneuvering in the crowd inside the metro, she was in the fresh air again, breathing in. 

 

She smiled walking down the street, clutching her purse tight. Someone dumped her in a flash. It was an old woman with a quick pace that dropped a letter in her rush. Alya bent down and picked it up calling for the lady, but she found her nowhere. She sighed and let out a mutter about the rudeness of the woman, looking at the envelope in her hands. Trying to see if she could still give it to its owner somehow, she turned it to find a clue.

 

Her blood ran cold in her veins seeing her name on the receiver’s name part. She looked around again, trying to find the woman, without success.

 

Placing the letter in her purse, Alya decided to read it at her best friend’s place as she no longer felt safe in the street.

 

“Alya! So nice to have you over finally.” Marinette said as she opened the door to a pale Alya, rushing her in.

 

Alya sat on the couch, while the young designer went to get some drinks.She took it as a chance to open the envelope, scared of what she would find, what would a stranger tell her in a letter.

 

She stared at it, reading once and twice the words, trying to make sense of them. It was hard enough with tears forming in her eyes. Marinette looked at her friend, worriedly she set the tray down, and put her hand on Alya’s shoulder comfortingly.

 

“Alya, did something happen?” in the softest tone she said, trying to comfort her without prying on her friend too much. 

 

The blogger threw her arms around her friends, the letter long forgotten on the floor.

 

Marinette squeezed back,

“Why would someone tell me that my loved ones are into gangs, and warn me from danger?” She asked in a raspy voice, the disbelief she gave off was clear as a day.

 

“What do you mean, Alya?” her breath hitched.

 

She stared at Alya’s face, not knowing what to do. Had someone discovered her identity and told Alya?

 

“Someone had written me a letter telling me that my father is a criminal, can you believe it?” she huffed, staring hard into the piece of paper, Marinette took it from her, her blue eyes scanning it, reading carefully.

 

Her hands shook, reading the words, finding them the truer she went on, then finding the gang’s official seal. She couldn’t believe Alya was actually an heir in her own right to a powerful gang. Alya could only cry harder the more they stayed silent, Marinette holding her tighter.

 

“Marinette, if my father of all people could be a criminal…” Alya whispered. “Do you think Nino’s a criminal too? Remember when I told you about the date night? He- he was fighting that man and it was like he is used to it.” she sniffled.

 

“Alya-”

 

“And you know, he has a really good build, and my father had almost turned into a monster I didn't recognize when I told him about Nino. I- do I know them anymore?” Alya buried her face more into her shoulder.

 

“Alya, please, calm down.” Marinette’s stomach knotted with guilt.

 

In this messed up city, who wasn’t a gang member at this point? Or at least link to a member? Gangs were rooted in Paris’ history and families living in it for decades already.

 

Chapter Text

 

City of love, they had said.

 

It was more like the city of blood. The blood that ran, or the one on people’s fingers without any way to fully clean it.

 

Alya was determined to get to the root of the letter. Why didn’t her father say anything before? 

 

She was tired of lies and secrets. She knew a thing or two about the Chimère gang, they had a fox symbol, and they were just as sneaky and mysterious. 

 

She remembered herself wearing a fox outfit, her father would tell her to do things underhand, and those times were at a costume party so she could blend in. He told her to introduce herself as Rena Rouge. 

 

She was tricked, and she was only fourteen years old.

 

She felt stupid. Alya used to think of herself as smart and mighty. She had thought of her father as the best in the world. He was a normal cagekeeper in the zoo and her mother was a cook in a hotel, but what of those being true anymore?

 

The girls sat there, embracing and comforting each other. They had decided to forget about everything, even for a while, and watch TV and drink soda instead.

 

But Alya didn’t listen to what was shown on TV, her mind coming back to her family. Her father always made her do shady stuff, like pulling electricity off a building because he said it needed to be renovated, taking something from someone, or mixing drinks at parties. 

 

But it was more serious than that.

 

She was pickpocketing people or even poisoning their wine.

 

Did he use the twins for those missions now?

 

Did Nora know of the gang?

 

She felt her side being poked. Marinette was offering water to her and a plate of fruits. She probably paused the movie to get them from the kitchen without Alya even noticing it. She took what was offered and started to chew on a chopped apple.

 

The journalist saw the head acting roles kiss on the screen when she glanced at it. It didn’t take long for her to quickly go back to her train of thought.

 

Now, Nino was always worried about her, like when he made sure to make her sleep early to be in good shape for her classes. But sometimes he would vanish and stay out late saying it was a buzz in his workplace and he was busy every time. She let it slip most times and he made it up to her when she would do the same.

 

He did get a decent sum of money out of nowhere when they needed it. Nino would hide money from her, money from his secret job. She always thought they hadn’t kept anything from each other. 

 

Guess what, he did keep things.

 

She doesn’t know who to trust anymore.

 

“Alya, are you there?” she heard her friend’s voice, concern seeping from it. 

 

“Yeah, I’m good.” she almost whispered her response, her throat feeling tight all of a sudden.

 

“Are you hangry? We can order chinese.” Marinette went to grab her phone.

 

“I think I'll be going home, Marinette. I’m sorry.” she stood up, picking her stuff up and stuffing them into her purse, she wanted some time to herself.

 

She wanted to go to the store to buy some chocolates first though.

 

***

 

Alya unlocked the front door, only for her to find Nino and Noel, sitting in the living room in front of the big screen, and some video games on said screen. She wasn’t expecting him to be home, as he knew she was going to spend the night at Marinette’s. She would have thought of the scene endearing, but she couldn’t shake off the sight of possible blood on her boyfriend's hands. 

 

“Alya, I thought you were sleeping at Marinette’s.” she heard his excited yell for her.

 

“I changed my mind,” she looked at her feet, getting the shoes off them,”Besides, I missed you bébé.”  

 

“Me, too.” he batted his eyelashes at her.

 

“Ew, get a room, you two.”

 

Nino laughed and waved his brother off, following Alya to their bedroom.

 

“So, how was your time together?” he collapsed on the bed, using his elbow to hold his head up. He saw her going into the bathroom attached, hearing the water running not long after.

 

Alya came out later, drying her wet face before opening the closet to get her pajamas out. She looked at them for a while, sighing before taking off her blouse to wear a t-shirt. 

 

It didn’t take her long until she was at Nino’s side. She looked into his eyes, smiling a soft smile, before staring at the ring on her finger.

 

 “Say, Nino, aren’t we always honest to each other? No secrets kept?” 

 

“Sure, babe.” he looked confused, giving her time and space to express herself.

 

“There must be a secret, Nino. I can feel it. What are you hiding from me?” she leaned too close, hovering over him, her hands on each side of him, making him lay flat under her gaze.

 

“I’m not planning any surprises, no madam.” he sweated, looking up at her with a beating heart. “Who wants surprises anyways?”

 

“What surprise?” she raised her eyebrows, befuddled.

 

“NOTHING,” he flipped them, so he was on top now, diving to kiss her lips.

 

“Hey! Don’t distract me.” she pushed him away. Although she liked kissing him, they needed to talk.

 

“Alya, is something the matter?” he was lost at her behavior. He sat up, crossing his legs, waiting for her to talk, 

 

“Why not stop beating around the bush, Nino, where do you get the money from?” she asked softly.

 

“Als, you know I have a job.”

 

“But your income is suspicious.” she saw him frown, fiddling with his glasses.

 

“Why are we even talking about this? I don’t understand.”

 

Alya stared at him, before she said the six words that might change everything.

 

“Are you in a gang, Nino?”

 

Chapter Text

 

“Are you in a gang, Nino?” 

 

“Als, why are you even asking this?” His posture wasn’t laid-back anymore.

 

She pushed him onto his back. Looking down at his hazel eyes, she saw them dim with guilt.

 

“I swear, Als, I needed the money, and they threatened me to join. I was a middle school kid. I had no one.” his eyes stinging with tears. He looked up at her to find her sitting back, hugging her knees.

 

Oh, no, he messed up.

 

“Alya, you can’t tell anyone, I could die. You could die.” 

 

He rubbed her arms affectionately when he saw her cry.

 

“Oh, Alya.” he pulled her into his embrace, and she didn’t mind while her tears dried.  

 

***

 

“Alya, did you finish the article?” 

 

She was startled out of her daze. It’s been days since she’d talked with Nino. Finding out about his darkside was a sad episode, that she would gladly not relive in her life again. 

 

But she couldn’t stop thinking about it either. The young blogger looked at the screen where she was editing said article, preparing it to be published for the university news. 

 

“Take a break.” the woman said before turning her heels and leaving the young brunette to her thoughts. “But it can’t continue like this, Alya.”  

 

Alya took out her phone staring at the screen. With a sigh, she decided to call her friend.

 

“Girl, are you free tonight?” she asked.

 

“Yeah, sure. What’re you up to?” Marinette yawned.

 

“What do you think of getting wasted?” she tapped her foot against the tile floor, waiting for affirmation.

 

“Sure, when?” 

 

“In an hour, I’ll go home and change first. Meet you there as usual.”

 

***

 

The cold breeze brushed her bare neck, making her shiver. She still strode in the street, unafraid. She sported a pair of black pants with an orange tank top, and a leather jacket for warmth, her hair being pulled into a high ponytail. 

 

Like they had agreed, the tanned-skin woman found her friend a block away from the bar. They greeted each other, hugging before they headed to it. Alya only had her mind set on getting her head blown, with how she was tired of thinking hard, and acting like a supporting wife.

 

When they arrived, they immediately took booths. The black haired girl only asked for some soda, watching with a sad frown her friend ordering shots like crazy.

 

She could only be there for her.

 

“The signs were always there. Marinette. I was just so blind. He was already- when he asked me out for the first time in the filming class after school hours.” she inhaled, smiling. “He was so kind but a cute idiot, too.”

 

Her nose scrunched, raising the small glass to her lips. She coughed, not bearing the musky smell.

 

“I’m not feeling well, M.” she stood up and headed to the bathroom, a strong urge to vomit overtaking her.

 

Marinette followed her, finding her emptying her stomach in a toilet.

 

“We can go back to my place, Als.” Alya only could nod, rinsing her mouth, letting the young bluenette to guide her out of the club.

 

“What happened back there, Alya?”

 

“I think the sweat and smell of alcohol just set me off, don’t worry.” the young brunette brushed her friend off. 

 

Even for a short time, she had forgotten her problems. But she was grateful the drink never made it down her throat, she would have been devastated if it had harmed the bean inside of her.

 

***

 

“Got any juice?” Alya asked Marinette, while getting comfortable on the couch.

 

“Sure, let me check.”

 

Marinette had disappeared to the kitchen from the sound of the fridge’s door rutting along with the cupboard and the clinking of glasses echoing. 

 

“So, I have orange and mango juice, which one?” Marinette settled back on the sofa, while setting the tray on the coffee table. She had put two glasses of juices and a bottle of water.

 

Alya didn’t know why, but words came out of her mouth without being able to contain them. The feeling of being safe with Marinette, after those long days made her crack.

 

“My father never approved of Nino.” she sobbed, ignoring the question thrown to her, picking up a glass.

 

“Mango for me then.” the blue-eyed woman sighed in a quiet tone, taking the other glass and sipping on it.

 

“Nino wanted to give it time, but I was always coped up in my parents’ house. I wanted to leave so badly.” she sniffled, “I waited for when dad wasn’t home. I packed my things in boxes, and sent them to Nino’s newly rented apartment. A bigger one so that we could stay together.”

 

“Did it work?” the artist fiddled with her glass, staring into her glass.

 

“It was almost perfect. I wanted to see my dad, and tell him that I wanted to be independent, that I loved Nino, and that I wanted to be with him. So, I waited ‘till he came home. But his reaction was to lock me up, refusing that I leave. I never imagined I’d see my father this angry ever.”

 

Alya placed her head on Marinette’s shoulder.

 

“I called Nino, and he came to talk with my father.” she sipped from her juice again, letting herself sob and sniffle, Marinette handed her a few tissues, and she kept crying. “Dad threatened him. Nino didn’t give up and sneaked me out in the night, when dad was asleep. He had called a day later, apologising.”

 

She dried her tears, an angry look in her eyes this time replacing the sad one.

 

“But with time dad said he supported me, that I was welcome to come back at any time.” this time she looked at her friend, she saw tears matching hers. “He’s still not happy that I left the Chimère’s territory where my family lives though.”

 

“I’m sorry you had to endure this, Alya.” glasses abandoned on the table they embraced each other.

Chapter Text

 

When Alya finally left, Marinette had made sure to hug her best friend before coming back to her apartment. Numbly, the young designer went to the upper part of her place, only to fall on her bed, staring at the ceiling. 

 

Alya left for the fourth district and ran away from the Chimère. Just thinking about it brought back the belief that one day she could leave the Miracle Gang.

 

Marinette was hesitating. She knew that it might be dangerous, even lethal if Hawkmoth found it too soon before she did everything that was needed. 

 

Marinette huffed, laying on the floor of her balcony. That idea didn’t stay long at first, when she arrived in the Miracle Gang. She couldn’t deny that at the beginning, it was the only thing that plagued her mind, until it was easily crushed. You couldn’t do anything else than accepting your fate, and continuing to work in the gang, if you were one of those that were forced to join. 

 

She didn’t know why that idea came back to her, busting inside her mind as if it never truly left. And now, similarly to before, she couldn’t stop thinking about it.

 

Thinking about leaving the gang. Leaving Paris. France even.

 

She knew that it was impossible. Hawkmoth had a strong grip on her life, on her loved ones lives, on everything that she cared about in this realm. 

 

And yet.

 

It felt like she couldn’t breathe.

 

She had thrown mirrors out of her apartments for months now, in fear to look at that person in her reflection. The perfect twin, mimicking every movement she did, even if she didn’t truly recognize herself as her.  

 

If Marinette wasn’t someone she could feel as herself , Ladybug was even worse. With her blond wig and mask, she needed to pretend at every second. Faking being at ease in a Miracle Gang HQ. Pretending to silently accept everything that was thrown to her. 

 

Simulating indifference at every death she brought, at the blood on her hands.

 

Money and safety wasn’t enough to forget. 

 

ChatNoir might want her to fully be in the family behind the Miracle Gang. And even if Hawkmoth didn’t completely trust her, he couldn’t deny that she was a good asset in the gang. With her in the close group controlling the gang, they would have more strength, more control over the districts under their banner. And having her as ChatNoir’s wife would be one way to introduce her to all this.

 

She did love him. She really did. And she would have loved to be his wife, to call him her husband, no matter if it was Ladybug and ChatNoir, or Marinette and Adrien.

 

But at what cost?

 

To never feel like she fitted in the Agreste family, like an impostor?

 

Forgetting who she really was, even though it already started to slip from her mind?

 

To still be tricked, pushed away or eliminated the moment she wasn’t worth the trouble anymore by her own father-in-law?

 

No. 

 

It wasn’t… What she wanted. For a life, for her future, for their future as a couple. 

 

It might be called cowardice. Escaping everything that made her weak and doubtful of her future. And yet, the only thing that felt as a certitude was the need to leave. Getting away from Hawkmoth’s grip on her, of her life as a spy, a Miracle Gang member, of a murderer or whatever name should someone called her if they knew the all truth. 

 

She could just contact ChatNoir the moment she was settled somewhere, maybe with a disposable phone to make it harder for them to track her. She loved him, but it would be safer for the both of them that he didn’t know before she was away.

 

At least, if she ever left in the first place. And breaking their promise to be there for each other in the process.

 

Deep down, Marinette knew. She would never fully get away. Even if she accepted Kagami’s deal to leave the fourth district for the Bahamut territory, she understood that it wouldn’t be the end. She would still be linked to gangs, one way or another. Surrely, Hawkmoth would send someone to kill her -or at least her parents and friends living in his territory- no matter if someone needed to go to the Bahamut districts or not. The moment something strange was happening to her, Mayura would feel it miles away, and would make sure she was still one of their obedient killer sheeps. 

 

Marinette bit her lips, looking at the blue sky. She needed something more drastic. Hawkmoth would know where to look for her. If she wasn’t in Paris, he knew that she would go to some cities like Lille or Amiens. She left France entirely? He would firstly check places like China, Shanghai first, since she had some family there. London or England entirely was out of the option since Red’s family was from there. The Miracle Gang might only have power over some district in Paris, but it wouldn’t be hard to have someone in the Graham de Vanily family in her pursuit if she went to England. 

 

However, the more she thought about it, the more the idea seemed to be promising. It might be suicidal, but what was the point of living a life if she didn’t feel as if it was hers?

 

Yes, Marinette decided.

 

Soon, she would be out of Paris. 

 

She just needed a second pair of eyes to evaluate the problem. Someone that would still care for her, but won’t be as close to the problem as ChatNoir was. 

 

Taking her phone that was resting next to her, Marinette called one of her friends. When she finally heard her voice, her eyes turned cold, ready to set her plan into action.

 

“Kagami? I need your help.”

 

Chapter Text

 

“Did you finally accept to come to the Bahamut territory?” Kagami asked the instant she was inside Marinette’s apartment. 

 

 

The Tsurugi heir took off her shoes at the entrance, nodding to Marinette before going into the owner’s living room. Marinette sighed, before closing the front door. Kagami didn’t seem to ever hesitate, and after the first time she came to Marinette's place and was certain that she didn’t disturbed her in any ways, it almost felt like it was her apartment too. 

 

Marinette -after making sure that the windows and front doors were kept shut correctly- brought some orange juice as well as some fruits at the small table in front of the couch. Even if she knew that it was what Kagami usually wear, it still made Marinette feel like she didn’t fit, next to Kagami and her neat red and black suit. 

 

It didn’t take long for Marinette to know that Kagami was a member of the Bahamut. From the tattoos that she was trying to hide with her clothes, to her insistence about everything that was linked, close or not, to the gang, it felt like an obviousness. 

 

 

“It’s true that I want to leave the Miracle Gang area.” Marinette admitted, taking her glass of juice in her hands after sitting on the couch. “But I would use your offer for my parents, not me.” 

 

“Has your parents been threatened by Hawkmoth recently?” Kagami asked, clenching her own glass in her hands. 

 

“No. Not directly. I was threatened to lose my life, and in addition my loved one’s if I didn’t cooperate.”

 

 

Kagami put her glass on the table with more force than necessary, making the juice flow on the wood. She lifted herself up, ready to scream to do something -anything- but no words came out of her mouth when Marinette lifted a hand in the air in a clear stop motion.

 

 

“It was years ago, Kagami.”

 

“That means…” the fencer whispered, sitting back on the couch. “... That you were a Miracle Gang member for this long. And you still…”

 

 

The Bahamut member's eyes went cold, and while Marinette knew she would have been able to take the Tanto from Kagami’s hands, she let her friend put the knife close to her throat with one hand, while the other was gripping one of Marinette’s arms. 

 

 

“Tell me, fiend . Did you pretend to be my friend to get some information out of me? To have someone giving tips about Ryuuko to your leader?”

 

“You’re…!” Marinette screeched with wide eyes before she frowned. “I didn’t even know you were Ryuuko, Kagami! Why would you even say it before you are sure that I know that ? Identities are important in this mess!”

 

 

While talking, Marinette didn’t look at the knife near her throat, looking deeply into Kagami’s eyes.

 

 

“Yes, I knew that you were a Bahamut member. You don’t really hide that fact. But I didn’t mention anything about you, let alone anyone I care about in the gang. They already have my parents and friends as their targets in case I mess up. Do you really think I would put you even more in danger by saying that you are Ryuuko to the man I hate the most out there?”

 

 

Kagami stayed silent, her grip on her arm loosening.

 

 

“I know your civilian part as much as you know mine. Do you really think I would do such a low move, especially while I was forced to start a life in that gang?”

 

 

At this, the fencer retreated back her knife, and put it back where it belonged in a hidden pouch. Straightening her back once more, Kagami pushed herself a little away on the couch, looking at Marinette in a new light.

 

 

“No. You aren’t that type of woman.”

 

“Since you revealed your identity to me, it’s only fair that I reveal mine, don’t you think?”

 

 

With that in mind, Marinette stood up, walking in the direction of the little closet under the stairs of her apartment. Opening the door only revealed a very small room to stock what she needed in her daily life. However, after activating a switch, the walls turned to reveal weapons and a set of clothes ready to be used for missions. 

 

Marinette came back, only to throw the ladybug mask on the couch. Kagami stared at it silently, a myriad of emotions flickering in her eyes.

 

 

“It can’t be. You’re Ladybug? One of the most feared members in that gang, even if she’s not one of the people in command?”

 

“Aww thank you! From you it means a lot!” Marinette joked, giggling when Kagami looked at her with a deadpan face. 

 

“Why are you even showing me this? Not so long ago you were saying that identities were important.”

 

“Because in a few days, it won’t matter anyways.” Marinette said, falling on the couch, poking the mask next to her. “The moment I try to leave would be when they would track me down as well. Maybe to bring me back -if ChatNoir got in Hawkmoth way- or to kill me. Maybe with my loved one too, just out of spite.”

 

 

And for the first time in her life, Kagami wasn’t seeing the happy woman she knew as Marinette. The mask was slowly cracking away with the revelation, only leaving an exhausted woman in front of her.

 

 

“Do you understand why I couldn’t accept your offer Kagami? The moment they threatened me, it was impossible. It’s even worse now.”

 

“Then why would you even try to escape now?” Kagami dared to ask.

 

“Because it’s too much. I know that I will never come back to a normal life. Not after everything that I did. But I want that peace of mind, that control over my own life that I lost.” 

 

“Bring your parents to me, and I will protect them in my gang.” Kagami decided. “But would you leave Paris for another French city?”

 

“No. I’m leaving France. For New York City.”

 

Chapter Text

She was ready. 

 

Marinette didn’t even believe herself when everything was set up in only three days. Her luggages was ready, her fake identity as well to go to the airport. Pauline Matisse was a chestnut haired young woman, ready to start a new life in New York after living in Strasbourg almost all her life. She had taken a bus ticket to the Charles-de-Gaulle airport to go from the East city to Paris, ready to take a flight to America. She had to change her hair colour, since wings were a hassle in airports. But everything was worth it.

 

Having a plan, a fake identity ready and a place in a plane wasn’t the most difficult thing to do. If you had money and a passport things went smoothly. Especially when the Charles-de-Gaulle airport now has digital screens to do almost everything nowadays. Most of the work was done by passengers. From reserving the places in the plane, to putting the tickets on the luggages. The workers were mostly there to check if everything was still well done before getting in the plane before replacing the e-ticket with a real one.  

 

That was mostly why Marinette chose that airport, instead of the Paris-Orly airport. This one was more in the South, while the Charles-de-Gaulle airport was in the North-East. There wouldn’t be a problem to walk inside the Bahamut territory, or the neutral zone next to it to be able to get to the Paris-Orly airport. But Marinette knew that the moment something suspicious was happening, Hawkmoth would check that route first. 

 

After all, a lot of people, no matter where they are from, tried to dodge the bullet of becoming a potential gang member by leaving Paris via the twelfth district. However, while gang issues were prohibited in the neutral zone, it didn’t mean that gang members would make it possible to snatch people before they left their territory. 

 

And Marinette wanted to make sure that everything was on her side in this. It was more dangerous than being Ladybug. More than refusing to do a mission because she had too much going on at the same time.

 

It was treason. 

 

And Hawkmoth couldn’t let it slide the moment it happened. 

 

What hurt her the most were two things. The first one was that she couldn’t warn anyone that she left. Until her parents were safe in the Bahamut territory, Kagami couldn’t inform them that their little girl went to live in another country. It was the same for her friends. No one should know anything about her departure, in case Hawkmoth himself or one of his lackeys tried to… Interrogate them. 

 

As for Chat Noir, the less he knew, the better. Even just a little thing could crumble to dust all her work. And with him being strongly related to the commanders of the Miracle Gang, it wasn’t a good idea to have him in the know. Marinette might be able to send him a letter, when she would be ready. Maybe posting it on the other side of the USA. That way even if they tracked down the fact that the letter was coming from America, they would search in the wrong place.

 

As for the other thing that hurt her…

 

…It was the chip she needed to take down from inside her arm by herself. 

 

While she saw guts, cuts and dead people at least one a month, Marinette wouldn’t say that she could do a chirurgical process on herself as if it was nothing. For years now she needed to sew clothes and bodies, when missions went wrong. And yet, it wasn’t the same as opening her skin to reveal the chip they put there, before sewing it all back up.

 

Marinette knew that she couldn’t just put the tracker somewhere and let it there. She wouldn’t even be in New York yet that they would have already understood. The tracker wouldn’t have moved for hours to no end. So Marinette did something that she thought she never would. 

 

One of her colleagues from her university classes also lived in the eighteenth arrondissement like Marinette’s parents. While she used the excuse that she needed to check up on her parents, Marinette visited that woman. She gave her a necklace that she knew she would love so much that she would wear it everyday, with how it would match all of her outfits. 

 

A necklace… With a pretty GPS chip hidden in the gem at the center of it. 

 

She still felt sorry and regretful. No matter what, Marinette needed someone to wear that chip for some time at least. 

 

An unmoving tracker was more dangerous for her in the long run. Putting the chip on an animal or a car would have been less effective than a human. After all, their patterns on a GPS during the day were all different. No matter what the outcome would have been, she would still feel sick. Sick of having to push an innocent person in a deadly trap. But like all the people Marinette had seen last, her colleague would have been interrogated.

 

No matter if it was because of the chip that she was now wearing around her neck. Or the fact that they crossed paths in the metro to come back to the eighteenth district.

 

The young designer sighed, looking at her childhood room one more time.

 

There, she took her luggages, waiting for her with the rest of her necessities. 

 

Yes, Marinette was ready.

 

And when Paris’s ground became smaller and smaller in the portholes of the airplane, some weight lifted itself from her shoulder. 

 

Chapter Text

 

The flight already gave up the atmosphere in New York. Marinette only heard rumors, not truly believing them. But having a mechanical themed human trying to crash down her plane, only for heroes to save it before it happened, helped Marinette to accept those rumors as some truth. 

 

From what she could now see and hear, fights between heroes and villains were a daily occurrence. To be more specific, it was a daily fight between revolutionaries and gang members

 

Gangs were rooted strongly in big cities around America, especially New York City. Like Paris, the city was separated into territories that fought each other for more land once in a while. However, in contrast to Paris, people actively tried to have an out of gang war. The heroes -sometimes even using strange magic powers Marinette had never seen before- fought back against gang members to try to take back their freedom. 

 

And to know that people really tried to stop gangs from spreading and continuing their havoc in that city… Made Marinette smile the moment the airplane landed.

 

Marinette breathed the humid air in the second she left the busy airport, not believing that her plan had worked out successfully. It was surreal. Kagami, promising the safety of her parents, was letting her heart float lightly between her ribs.

 

It was a sunny afternoon, and she was ready to blend in. hearing the beautiful music of buskers on the street the more she walked closer to the city.

 

She took another deep breath, while advancing into the street with no fear like she had always felt walking the parisians streets. Hearing the cars’ noises was different, she called a taxi, trying to master her best english. The driver was a kind old man, he didn’t hold it against her and drove her to her hotel.

 

All throughout the taxi ride, she glared through the car’s window, ready to jump into action if something happened .  There was no doubt he’d realised she was gone and the girl knew it was only a matter of time before she was chased.

 

Marinette paid the driver and got out of the cab, speed-walking straight into the hotel.

 

“Name, please,” the concierge asked her primly.

 

“Uh…Holly Smith,” she said, remembering the name she’d booked the hotel under.

 

While the identity of Pauline Matisse was used to take the flight, she knew it would be dumb to use the same identity to book things up in the city. After all, Mayura would then only need to track down one identity to find her.

 

“Ah, yes.  Ms Smith.  Your room is 730, it’s already prepared for you.  Here’s your card along with the wifi password.  Have a wonderful stay.” The lady gave her a small courteous smile and ‘Holly’ returned it.

 

She went up to level 7 and found room 30, opening the door with the key card, dragging her bags in and walking to the queen size bed to belly flop on it.  The trip was absolutely exhausting.  She needed to plan her safety systems to keep away from Hawkmoth.  But for now, she’d just rest.

 

***

 

A few hours later knocks echoed in her room. She woke up alarmed, looking at anything that could help her defend herself as she walked closer to the door, inspecting it, straining her ears to hear the slightest of sounds. Another knock sounded.

 

“Who’s there?” she said, trying to intimate a firm British accent. 

 

“Ma’am, it’s room service.” she heard a meek voice.

 

“I didn’t order anything.” 

 

“We know, ma’am, we offer a meal to you as a welcome.” 

 

Marinette didn’t know how to feel, was this normal in America? Or had Hawkmoth tracked her already? She found some scissors and took them in one of her hands. It might not be the same as a knife. But with her force, it might be enough to go through the skin.

“Ma’am, would you like to accept it?” she heard again.

 

The young woman opened the door slowly, making sure to keep an eye out for anything suspicious. She only found a small woman, with a trolley that had on it some bottles of wine, a few pastries and a plate of fruit.

 

“I’m Jess, I work here. I also came to invite you to the party this evening that some of us are throwing off on the rooftop.” 

 

Marinette was taken aback. While Jess was kindly smiling at the brunette, she was still suspicious and unsure. 

 

“The party is around 8 in the evening, but you can come whenever. It would just be a bunch of young adults on a roof. Are you here to study abroad?” Jess tilted her head to the guest curiously.

 

“Huh?”

 

“I mean you’re young, you must have come here to study.” she said in a matter of fact tone.

 

“Oh, yeah, sure.” Marinette tried saving the act, and promptly agreed to attend the rooftop party.

 

***

 

So, there she was, snaking on the food Jess had brought her earlier, while trying to find an outfit for the party. After what seemed like forever, she chose the new soft red tank top she had bought for the trip, pairing it with black leggings. She stared at her wound on her arm, hiding it. It looked so fresh, despite it being a few days old.

 

She sighed at the ugly scar, while pulling on a cardigan to hide it, while she left her hair open and hid her eyes with her new glasses. Putting on some lip gloss, she was ready.

 

She took the stairs up to the roof like the American girl had instructed her before, getting relieved when she heard the upbeat music. She saw all the young people partying like there was no gang activity going on. Not in that city… Or anywhere else.

 

The newly brunette saw the worker from earlier on the roof upon arriving. Jess and her friends had welcomed ‘Holly’ that night and she knew she’d sleep happy.

 

Chapter Text

 

“She left.” Hawkmoth sneered.

 

The older man had reunited his commanders for a meeting. He hated to admit it, but Ladybug fooled him, at least for enough time to leave Paris. 

 

“We might not like it, but having Ladybug out there is problematic.” Mayura admitted. “She might not be a commander like us, but she’s still a powerful high ranked member of the gang. She’s feared, and since the start her missions always went well. Having one of the most famous gang members outside our territory for a long time is going to cost us.”

 

“Especially when other gangs would think that it’s a show of weakness and try to take back some of our territories as a souvenir of it.” Red continued.

 

“Didn’t you check her chip?” ChatNoir asked.

 

“We already did. It’s how we realised she’s gone in the first place. We already interrogated the girl that had it. She knew nothing.”

 

Silence settled in between them.

 

“Red, do what is needed.” Hawkmoth sneered once again.

 

The young man simply nodded, never needing a more elaborate task. 

 

After all, a broken contract between a civilian forced to join the gang and Hawkmoth always finished the same way.

 

But before the potential killing process, they needed to ask them all -using violence or not- to make sure they didn’t know something about Ladybug’s plan to leave.

 

After all, they were still a ladybug hunt to do.

 

***

On the other side of the North Atlantic Ocean, Marinette tried to get accustomed to her new life. Sometimes, some things here and there made her believe that one day, she could have a place to call it hers, while living with Adrien. It might not be possible right away, but she could still dream of a time where they would be both out of Hawkmoth’s claws, being able to live together.

 

Maybe, who knows, as husband and wife. 

 

With happy thoughts, she went into the coffeeshop that had a sign for hiring. After all, she would need to find a job eventually. She couldn't live in a hotel forever, and from her research she knew New York city was expensive to live in.

 

“Welcome to {cafe name}, I’m Aeon. How can I help you today, Miss?” the barista standing behind the counter smiled cheerfully at her, holding a note and a pen ready to take orders.

 

If she didn’t know any better, Marinette would have said that Aeon was a robot. While her movements were smooth, they were too calculated, too precise. It at least showed that Aeon was more than what met the eyes, with how everything she did or said were controlled beforehand.

 

 “I was actually wondering about the hiring sign.” she rubbed her arm, trying to act like a college student.

 

“Oh, have you worked before in a coffee shop?” the girl with the apron asked with a smile.

 

“I worked in a bakery before.” Holly smiled. “Here’s my CV.”

 

Well… Holly’s CV, not Marinette’s. But she at least made sure to use half lies. After all, she did work at her parents' bakeries for years. 

 

“If you can use a coffee machine and follow instructions, I think the job may land for you.” she smiled, reaching under the counter, “I’ll give you a form to fill-”

 

They were interrupted by a groan of frustration and boxes rattling on the floor. 

 

“Jess, are you ok?” Aeon left Marinette by herself, while going to the entrance where an annoyed Jess stood.

 

She only turned to look at them, finding Jess from that day at the hotel, was she everywhere?

 

“Oh, is that you Holly?” Jess abandoned the boxes and advanced to the brunette. 

 

It didn’t take long for the two young women to get their boss to come check Holly’s candidature. It took even shorter for her to get the job. She would have a preparation week to make sure that they wanted her, but Marinette was sure that after that time, they would fully accept her.

 

But work didn’t make her stop thinking. While she was kneading some dough for the pastries they were selling in addition to their coffee, Marinette’s mind came back to Paris. She couldn’t deny that not being there didn’t help her to see everything differently. From how on contrary to Americans, no one tried to take down gangs, rebelling against them. Or how her relationship with ChatNoir changed with time. 

 

Sometimes, a dark part of her unconsciousness wondered if ChatNoir’s proposition for marriage wasn’t a little sudden for her taste. She felt so bad to suddenly bail on him and the plans that they had made for the future. Yet, what choice did she have?  She couldn’t go back, either, no matter how badly she wanted to save him from all this nonsense.

 

With how the Miracle Gang is known to be a “family business”, that insecure part of her mind doubted his actions. 

 

Was everything just to continue ChatNoir father’s legacy and to secure an heir with one of the powerful higher, female ranks in the gang? 

 

Or was it just her brain letting her paranoia get the better of her?

 

Someone calling her made Marinette jump slightly, fully waking up. It wasn't the time nor the moment. She would have other moments to think about all of it, especially while the gang were so far away from her. She still felt uncertain about his motives, but she hoped more than ever that he was genuine, and loved her.  Because then maybe, she wouldn’t feel as alone in this giant town as she did now.




Or so she thought.




Because at the airport stood a dark figure, ready to do everything to find her before anybody else.

Chapter Text

 

‘Holly’ waved goodbye to a departing couple as they huddled together in a kind of side hug, each clutching their warm coffees on the cold, bleak day.

 

“I need to go outside,” Holly told Jess, and walked out of the store.  She needed to catch a breath and think for a bit.

 

She closed her eyes and felt the refreshing yet harsh cold bite at her skin. It would be able to shake her thoughts away for a bit. 

 

New York mentality, remember? She reminded herself, her inside voice strangely sounding like Alya’s . Just a regular college girl in New York. Holly got into an American college, while Marinette is still in Paris. Get a grip of yourself girl.

 

She took another deep breath in, shivering when the wind started to pick up once again. The coffee shop wasn’t in one of those big avenues, which reassured Marinette. Big streets meant crowds to fit in, but also easy ways to kill her on the spot. They would be able to put a sniper on one of those big buildings, ready to shoot her the moment she went outside.

 

The coffee shop was in a very small street where she could hide in the shadows as much as her enemies. It made her relax a little more when she needed to go outside to put the trash out, knowing that she had the same advantage as others.

 

Marinette wasn’t a fool. She knew that while the commanders of the Miracle Gang would deny it until their last breath, she was an important asset in the gang. If a rumor about Ladybug being away started to spread, the other gangs might think that it was the moment to attack, with how the Miracle Gang would portray itself to be weaker. 

 

And when it would happen, with the addition of them understanding that she wasn’t in Paris anymore, Hawkmoth would send gang members to take her back. 

 

Marinette could only hope that she would be ready, when the time would come.

 

***

 

A few days later in a big, luxurious hotel room, stood Mayura. Looking out of the giant glass windows, her mask covered the blank stare she used to gaze at New York City.

 

Another city, the same dance.

 

It had taken her more time than she had thought, but she knew that Ladybug was out there in that city. If it was in another situation, she would have been impressed by Ladybug's improved skills to clean her tracks. But alas, the time wasn’t right.

 

She was there to hunt.

 

And Hawkmoth never mentioned if she would need to bring Ladybug alive or not. For their own benefit, it would be reasonable to keep her alive. To not lose a powerful pawn, and to let Hawkmoth have his ways with her when she came back. After all, the man would prefer if she gives him a gift he could hurt, hear its screams and begs, instead of a corpse.

 

Mayura turned her back from the windows, sitting on a chair to report her last discoveries. She had hoped that ChatNoir would have the coldness that his father had, to hide his temper. However, the boy imitated his mother more. Impulsive, emotional, loyal to a fault. Blind by love. 

 

As she was working, who knew where he was, trying to foolishly find Ladybug before her. If he stepped out of the line too much, she was sure that she would be the one asked to show him the right way. By force if needed.

 

Mayura stopped tapping on her tablet, her head lifting itself to stare at the room. She came back to work after a few seconds, her mind focusing back on the task at hand.

 

What a waste, that boy.

 

***

 

After another leap to another building, ChatNoir was swift, taking cautious steps with how he wasn’t used to the city. He sighed, looking into alleyways and dark hidden corners. 

 

He was still in denial, not knowing why Ladybug would leave without telling him. He found himself on a roof to take a breath. 

 

Sitting there at the edge of the building, he stared into the traffic down below. 

 

There was a coffeeshop, and a barbershop not far away. His stomach growled, making him look away from the shops to try to shut his growing hunger as he hadn’t had the time to bother with breakfast in the morning. 

 

He stood up. Mayura could be anywhere, and he needed to find his lady first. But before he could fault away again, he stopped at the sight of a young woman with familiar blue eyes, emptying trash outside an alleyway. 

 

Was he missing home to the point that he was seeing his friends in strangers? The familial gestures of her stretching her muscles, pulling her hair in a bun and out of her face, made the young man realise that he wasn’t hallucinating. 

 

“Marinette?” 

 

He could swear she was his fashion-loving friend, if only it wasn’t for the brown hair. It’s been a while since he saw her. With Ladybug’s hassle of leaving, it stole every free moment he had to spend. What if Ladybug was Marinette and dyed her hair to stay out of radar? Ladybug had a blonde wig anyway, or had she bleached her hair?

 

He decided to leap to the ground to interact with this woman. And maybe he wanted to have some breakfast too, who knows?  

 

But the way she screamed his name, recognition shining in her blue eyes at the sight of him, he knew. 

 

The way she panicked the moment she saw him, the fact that no new yorker would know his name. Alya saying that she only got Marinette’s voicemail when she called, the week Ladybug ran away. Their figures were so similar, if he imagined a mask on her face.

 

It was enough to convince him. 

 

“gotcha, bugaboo.” he smirked down at her, and leaned closer to her ear.

 

Chapter Text

“Leave me alone.” Marinette said in a shaky voice.

 

“I know it’s you, Marinette.” ChatNoir declared, coming closer once more even after she pushed him away.

 

“Why are you here? Are you alone? Please leave.”

 

“Holly, are you ok?” she heard Aeon’s kind, but also worried voice.

 

ChatNoir moved to hide behind the doors, hitting Aeon with his baton. Surprisingly, it clinked with her head. He hissed slowly at Marinette’s gasp, checking if the woman was just unconscious or not.

 

Jess was there in no time. Without knowing what else to do, ChatNoir lifted a kicking and screaming Marinette to carry her away from the scene.

 

After a mere minute, she smelt the hideous smell of the sewers.

 

“Why would you hurt her!? She was a decent human being!” she angrily said, looking at him, disappointed. “You’re attacking innocent people for fun now?”

 

She’d have seen us otherwise.”

 

“Well, you shouldn’t have hit her that bad! You weren’t fighting a well-trained mafia boss, but a civilian, damnit! ” Marinette sighed, and looked up at him with teary eyes. "Please, let me go, Adrien.” 

 

On one hand, it could be seen as treason if he willingly made that mission fail by helping Ladybug to run. But on the other hand , she was the love of his life. And he promised himself that he’d do anything to help her, with or without a mask.

 

“What if I give up being a commander of the gang?” he asked. “What if I help you? Would you understand how serious I am to be there for you?”

 

“You are the future leader, you don’t get to choose.” 

 

Her words hit harder than intended, making him feel sick.

 

He was a puppet to Gabriel, when he thought he wasn’t. No matter what happened, she’d need to pay the consequences of her deciding to leave.

 

They both didn’t get to choose their future. Only Hawkmoth could.

 

I control my life. ” he hissed, removing his hood and mask. “And if we need to destroy the gang to fully make it happen, then so be it.”

 

Green eyes met blue ones.

 

She could feel herself melt under that gaze, only to shake it off when an echo resonated in the sewers. 

 

Ladybug’s and ChatNoir’s names were called. Adrien wore his mask again, pulling Marinette with him. However, they didn’t go far, since they arrived in front of a massive looking man, with Mayura standing behind him. 

 

“You were supposed to bring her to me, ChatNoir.” she sneered with an unamused frown..

 

Everything was a blur. Marinette started to run, taking advantage of the fact that she was a pretty fast runner. She got up into the streets, a little surprised that the sun had set already. 

 

After turning a corner without hearing them following her, she saw two heroes, Uncanny and Sparrow, while they were doing a patrol. She’d two choices. Ask for their protection, or seek a false sense of safety somewhere else.

 

She didn’t get to decide though. As Uncanny had flown down to carry her back into the rooftops.

 

“Are you ok?” 

 

She panted, with a red face and wide eyes staring at the heroes. Was this how it felt, having someone protecting you even when they didn’t know you? 

 

“I’m okay.” she stuttered. 

 

“Why are they chasing you anyway?” asked Sparrow bluntly.

 

“I was a prisoner under them. I escaped. They want me back.” she huffed, hoping for them to believe her.

 

It wasn’t long until she saw Mayura and the big man on the rooftop.

 

“Marinette, make it simple for everyone and come with us. You’ll be back to your high rank, without death as a consequence of your treason.” the purple suited woman announced.

 

Marinette was sure that those were lies in hope to distract her. She looked behind Mayura to find the man she loved getting into the roof, watching with an amused smirk to hide his conflicted feelings behind it.

 

“What? You're with them?” Sparrow raged, fisting the neckline of her blouse. “Did you just lie about being a captive?” 

 

“A captive?” the middle aged woman laughed. ”She willingly joined.”

 

“I was forced to if I didn’t want to see my family dead!” she screamed.

 

Uncanny helped her escape, recording her while Marinette answered questions about Parisian gangs. Before going back to help Sparrow, Uncanny thanked her, asking her to stay safe. Giving her a watch, she told her to press the button on it if she needed help.

 

Marinette was horrified when she discovered from her hiding spot that heroes and villains were surfacing to add more people into the fight. She hoped that the Miracle Gang didn’t obtain allies with this trip to the city. Marinette heard a scream only to find a young girl, probably the same age as her, with a man. He was pulling on her shirt, trying to use the chaos to have his way with an innocent passerby. 

 

Her mind didn’t give her much time, with her kicking the man, making him stagger to the side. She avoided his attack, hitting him in the back of his neck, knocking him cold.

 

The blonde girl tried hiding her chest with her arms. When some jacket was thrown at her, she looked up to the brunette, confused but grateful all the same. But her savior was injected with something with a syringe piercing the skin of her neck before she could warn her. Marinette fell, only to be caught by a strange man that held her bridal style. The young woman could see that the brunette’s eyes were unfocused, her body heavy. While Marinette leaned into the man’s chest unconsciously, she hissed a protest about going back somewhere before falling unconscious. 

 

“Don’t worry love, I’ll keep you safe when we’re back in Paris.” ChatNoir whispered, kissing her forehead.

 

And the first step to do that, was to kill those who followed Mayura in New York. After all, Ladybug’s identity was as important as Marinette herself.



Chapter Text

 

Hello everyone!! 

 

Unfortunately, our journey has come to an end.  We hope you enjoyed the fic!  

 

Regarding a possible continuation, there may be a second fic but not as soon as you might expect, as Avra and Charm need to write more of it before publishing.

 

You’ll notice that we said Avra and Charm (Thesnow3) only.  That’s because unfortunately Pebble will be leaving the collaboration.  Here’s some words from her:

 

Hey everyone! Sorry that I have to go but irl demands are building up a bit, especially towards the end of the year when everything wraps up.  I wanna thank you guys, our loyal readers, for sticking it out and coming on this adventure with us, as well as Charm and Avra for being such amazing writers and practically running the whole fic for me!  I will still be posting very slowly on my own personal fics so if you liked what I wrote, you could check out my other stuff.  For now, this is a goodbye.  Thanks and see you later lovelies!

 

After those lovely words, here’s some from the two remaining writers from this collaboration.

 

Hii, This is Charm or Snow, it’s been a pure pleasure to work with Avra, and Pebble. They encouraged me to become a better writer, and writing this gave me a different experience altogether. I had fun with this, and hopefully you felt the same reading the AU.

 

Hi guys. It’s Avra. Like my two dear friends and collaborators might have said before, thank you all for joining us in this adventure. It had been a long one, to say the least, since it all started with a prompt in an event in July, only for us to continue on our own, creating this AU. 

We might still do another story (with only Charm and I this time around) at one point, since it didn’t feel like there wasn’t a clear end for this AU. We also had some plans (like some Félix/Bridgette moments *coughing fit*) that we wanted to write. We hope that you liked that fic, and until next time!

 

 

We thank you all again for giving this AU a chance. Thank you for reading, we will see you all when we post our own fics, or for the second part of this AU!

 

Bye!