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Tandem

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“Don’t you think this all a bit unnecessary?” Ladybug questioned for about the 5th time since the duo had begun. They had been at it for hours, though to her it felt more like days. Perhaps he was forgetting that there was a real human girl on the other side of her polka-dotted mask. A real girl with a ton of real homework waiting for her back at home, Marinette thought with a grimace.

Chat stood up from his previously crouched position to clutch at his chest dramatically, mouth agape and eyes twinkling. “Absolutely not!” he replied, straightening next to her and realigning their feet. “Maybe you can live with a few cuts and bruises, but I have a more sensitive soul.”

This earned him a rather disgusted scoff from his partner, but he felt her fall in to place beside him none-the-less. Although Ladybug found the idea of running acrobatic combinations to be a bit overkill, she could agree it was time for Paris’ crime-fighting duo to step up their game.

The last few Akuma they had faced together where not your average villains, and each new fight took more out of the pair. Battles lasted longer, sometimes hours, and the physical toll was beginning to weigh on them both. Every morning, Marinette groaned as she rolled out of bed, the previous night’s bruises patterning their way down her body. Comparably, Adrien seemed to find new scars everyday (a big complication in his line of work.) If Hawkmoth wanted to be tough, then they had to be tougher.

The aim of this combo was to be both evasive and offensive. A perfect move to help avoid taking damage, as well as cripple their foes. Rolling his shoulders to ease the tension built up over the past few hours of exertion, Chat went over the motions in his head, visualizing every step before…

“Duck!”

The two heroes snapped into action. Both dove forward, springing to their feet within moments of each other. Chat hunkered down low, shifting his weight downward and coiling the muscles in his legs as Ladybug weaved around him. As soon as he felt the slim, strong hand brace itself onto the center of his back, he surged upward, helping Ladybug to spring into the air above him. Time seemed to slow, as they reached the point of their routine that neither of them had been able to manage in their previous attempts.

After vaulting off her partner’s back, Lady was supposed to swivel in the air and whip her yo-yo out at the imagined enemy before landing. Meanwhile, Chat was responsible for swatting any projectiles out of her airspace, all the while preparing himself to catch her before she hit the ground. Needless to say, it was that last bit that seemed to give them the most trouble.

As she arched into the air, Ladybug grabbed at her weapon, twisting her body to face the straw dummy they had managed to set up a few paces away. Quick as a shot, she flung her hand out, the end of her yo-yo zipping towards its target.

Her aim was true, but there was no time for celebration, as Ladybug quickly felt her body hurtling back towards the ground. I’m counting on you now, Kitty.

At her approach, the boy squared his stance. He knew no amount of apology on his part could redeem him if he managed to somehow drop her for the seventh time. Chat grasped at the falling heroine, quickly wrapping his arms around her waist and jerking her descent to a stop. Ladybug slid down his side, the duo almost toppling over before righting themselves.

The reaction was delayed. Finally, two held breaths were released and blue eyes met green in a triumphant flash. Ladybug extracted herself from Chat’s embrace, planting her hands on the sides of her head with a dazed look. Her partner just danced around, yeowling like the alley cat he was into the previously quiet night.

“I told you we would get it!” he exalted, dancing around her. “That was absolutely incredible!”

“Honestly, I’m just glad I didn’t end up on the ground again…” muttered Lady petulantly.

“Aww, c’mon now, I apologized for that!” Chat interjected, raising a hand. “Besides, we’ve got this down pat. In fact. I’d be surprised if I were ever drop you again.”

“Then I guess you wouldn’t mind if we ran it again?” Ladybug shot back at him confidently. Chat chuckled, watching her reset the target dummy before returning to their stating position.

“Suddenly my silly acrobatics don’t seem so silly anymore, hhmmm?” he teased.

Ladybug rightened her stance, standing until their feet where edged up against each other.

“If it keeps me from getting hit, then I guess I don’t mind your dramatics, Kitty.” He flashed her a grin. “You just mind where you put your hands when you catch me this time.”

Before he could reply with some cheeky quip, Ladybug yelled out the start word and the duo once again fell into the movement.

Over the next few weeks, they continued to come up with additional combinations, slowly implementing their new strategies into battle. Given time, the movements became effortless. The pair worked in tandem, reading the situations around themselves while slipping in and out of position without even having to say a word to one another.

Fight times dwindled, as did the number of injuries they sustained. And when Marinette woke up ache-free for the first time in what seemed like forever, she couldn’t help but silently thank Chat for his ingenious (if a bit dramatic) solution.

 


 

 

It was like a scene out of a cheesy high school drama.

Red rubber balls sat lined up in the center of the gymnasium, two dozen uniform-clad teenagers eying them with emotions ranging from trepidation to downright bloodlust. Their coach stood on the edge of the play space, reminding the antsy players of the game’s rules.

If a ball hits you: you’re out.

If someone catches your ball: you’re out.

If you hit someone in the head: you’re out.

You gotta love a game with only three rules.

Adrien’s classmates were practically snarling at this point, their bodies poised and ready to unleash hell. Despite the fact he had no prior experience with the game, he found himself getting keyed up right alongside them.

 Nino had been hyping the game up to his friend all year. Although it was such a student favorite, the hit or be hit game was reserved only to be played in the final week before school let out. (Rumor has it the reasoning behind this was so any students maimed during the brawl could have ample time to recover over the summer.)

From what he could see, the teams where pretty even, with each side of the gym holding a balanced ratio of boys to girls, as well as athletic to, well…. less athletic. Adrien took stock of the students beside him, their eyes flashing and their knuckles tensing. Even Marinette (the same Marinette who insisted on using a pink puffball-tipped pen in class) seemed armed and ready, a devious expression twisting her otherwise kind-looking features.

As the coach was finishing his spiel about the mercy rule, Adrien glanced across the gym to lock eyes with Nino, sputtering as he watched his friend slowly drag a finger across his neck.

Oh right, the unspoken fourth rule. There are no friends in dodgeball.

The whistle rang out, everyone shooting towards the center line with banshee like screams. Now, Adrien was quick on the draw (one could say he had almost cat-like reflexes) but he had barely made it halfway over before a ball went whizzing by his ear, stopping him dead in his tracks as his teammates surged past.

Within the first 45 seconds, half of the players were out as a result of the bloody front line confrontation. Marinette recognized this as a common occurrence, the beginning of dodgeball was always the most deadly. But she had managed to sprint her way to the center line, grab a ball, and hightail it back into safe(er) territory, all without feeling the familiar sting of red rubber on her skin.

Now she stood back, dancing on her toes as she tried to channel a bit of Ladybug into her movements. Suddenly, she spotted an opening. Marinette drew her arm back, whipping the ball forward to smack dead in Alix’s gut. The smaller girl shot her a poisonous glare, the air clearly knocked out of her, but Marinette didn’t have the opportunity to feel sorry before she was forced to swivel away from an incoming volley.

The game continued in a similar way for the next few minutes, the number of players dwindling until just the truly skilled or the truly lucky remained. For once in his life, Adrien believed himself to be part of the second group, his continued presence in the game attributed to the mere fact he was quick on his feet. Through the maelstrom of red rubber, however he somehow hadn't able to get his hand on a single ball, a problem he intended to remedy as he saw one roll nearby.

Before he was able to rush over and pick it up however, Adrien spotted Nino once again…only this time his friend was clutching tight to a ball, eye alight with malice and focused right on him. Thinking to beat him to the punch, Adrien booked it to where he had spotted the ball, stopping short when he nearly collided with a certain pig-tailed team member of his.

Marinette skidded to a halt, both she and Adrien hovering around the ball. Crush all but forgotten in her mid-game fury, she scooped it out from under him. Before Marinette had the chance to sprint off however, she noticed his green eyes alight on something over her shoulder.

“Duck!” He yelled, as she turned just in time to see Nino chuck a ball directly at the pair. Without thinking, she launched forward into a tuck, one red ball whizzing over her while another laid nestled in her curled form. Finally, she popped back up, a blond head rising right beside her.

Perhaps it was muscle memory, or just the adrenaline of the game, but neither Marinette nor Adrien registered anything out of the ordinary as they continued the oh-so-familiar movement. She circled him, looking for an opening across the court as he squatted down in anticipation. In a flash, her eyes locked onto their next target and she placed her free hand on the waiting shoulder blades beside her.

Adrien pushed up with all his might, aiding in the fluid motion of her action as he launched her into the air. In the split second she left the ground, he was already calculating the catch, body moving of its own accord as his hand shot out to grab a ball headed towards his chest. Dropping it immediately in order to free up his grasp.

Adrien angled his head up, watching her twist around and whip the ball towards the opposite side of the court, vaguely hearing a smack and cry before he expertly caught her in his grasp.

Mariette landed solidly, assessing the enemy side as the duo split apart. She realized they were the only ones left on their team, before her eyes narrowed in on Kim, the sole survivor of their onslaught. Picking up a ball once more as the boy to her left did the same, she let hers fly with deadly speed. It hit her unsuspecting opponent at the same time Adrien’s did, sending the large boy flying across the lacquered floor.

The harsh trill of the coach’s whistle rung out in the silent gymnasium. Everyone stood stock still, staring mouth agape at the two winners. Momentarily unaware of the scene they had just caused, the victorious duo turned towards each other, faces flushed and chests heaving as they brought their fists together.

That small bit of contact seemed to snap them out of whatever sort of trance they were in. Recognition dawned.

 Marinette’s eyes widened as the smile slid off her face. Adrien seemed to comprehend the situation a beat after her, arm falling numbly at his side as the puzzle pieces slowly clicked into place.

Suddenly, raucous applause filled the space, winners and loser alike rushing forward to gush about the pair’s display.  It was all a dull roar in the back of Marinette’s mind. Even as Alya grabbed her arm, exclaiming something in her ear, Marinette’s gaze never left Adrien’s eyes.

Chat’s eyes.

Oh my God, that didn’t just happen, she thought, her mind straining to comprehend the implications of Chat Noir and Adrien Agreste being one in the same.

Likewise, Adrien sensed more than felt Nino’s slapping him on the back. It was as if all the air had suddenly left the room, leaving him gasping. The crowd surged between them, but he could still feel her stare, the intensity of her gaze rivaled only by his own.

I just played a game of dodgeball with Ladybug, Adrien thought numbly, allowing himself to be swept towards the men’s locker room.

Shock morphed into delight as he snuck one last look at Marinette. She wore a strange expression, one that only made Adrien’s heart hammer impossibly faster.

Foremost on her features was bewilderment. Not surprisingly, as Adrien felt the same sense of overwhelming realization.  It was mixed with the same blushing expression he had come to expect from Marinette, all shy glances and stuttering lips.

 But underneath that was something else. Something Adrien could only describe as purely Ladybug. Sure it was subtle, but it was the same look his Lady got whenever they thwarted yet another villain. Seeing that same expression displayed in the features of the girl who sat behind him every day was enough to make his stomach drop.

Before he could stop himself, Adrien sent her a very chat-like wink, reveling in the way she flushed deeper before whirling around and hauling Alya off by the arm.

I just won a game of dodgeball with Ladybug, Adrien repeated giddily, an ecstatic smile stretching across his face as he turned to enter the locker room.

He changed in a blur, mechanically responding to the all back thumps and excited compliments he received about his earlier performance. Adrien’s mind was a million miles away.

Or perhaps just in the next room over, he thought slyly.

 He had found his Lady in just about the last place he had thought to look.

Chapter Text

Marinette almost found herself to be annoyed when the world didn’t immediately stop.

Bells rang, students shuffled from class to class, pencils did not pause their scratching. Birds flew by windows and people laughed and talked and sang.

So no, maybe it wasn’t the end of times.

But for her, it was the end of an era. An era where things made as much sense as they could for a teenage girl with a superhero secret identity.

If Marinette had thought her life was complicated before, oh boy when she in for it now.

‘If I’m Ladybug’ she thought dimly.

‘And Adrien is Chat….’

Her heart speed up wildly just stating the fact in her mind.

‘Then who’s pining after who?’ she finished with a confused huff.

Once the girls had returned to the locker room, Marinette had booked it, deflecting all the questions thrown her way by saying she had to use the restroom. Needing to be alone, she had ducked into one of the rarely used shower stalls, sliding down its tiled interior as she desperately attempted to suck air into her lungs.

Marinette sat with her knees to her chin, oblivious of the grimy floor and that fact the bell was set to ring in mere minutes. Her head spun, one half of her mind unable to process the situation she now found herself in and the other mentally kicking herself for not putting it together sooner.

Suddenly, the plastic shower curtain hanging inches from her huddled form was yanked to the side, revealing a very concerned Alya.

Her solitude hadn’t lasted long it would seem.

Alya stepped into the small space, closing the curtain behind her and hunkering down next to her friend.

“Marinette, what’s wrong girl? You just kicked butt out there!” the redhead said, pouring as much love and encouragement as she could into the words.

Marinette just groaned, burying her face in her hands.

“And the way you and Adrien moved together, it was almost like you guys had practiced…”

Oh if only you knew how right you were’ Marinette whispered in her mind, rubbing the back of her neck before taking a deep breath and glancing up at her friend. Alya gave her a reassuring smile, placing her hands on Marinette’s folded up knees.

“You don’t have to tell me right away what’s bothering you,” she began in a soothing tone, having gotten used to her friend’s anxiety attacks years. “But just know that I’m here to talk if you need it.”

Marinette blinked up at her friend.

Then, to her utter surprise, she found herself laughing. Tiny giggles that erupted into a full bellied howl as the whole situation came crashing down around her. After a moment’s hesitation, Alya joined in, chuckling as she pulled Marinette unsteadily to her feet.

The giggling duo grasped to each other, almost losing their balance as a hand flew out to steady themselves against the wall, instead coming to rest on a button.

Their screams turned to shrieks as the two girls struggled to dodge the shower of water raining down upon them. Marinette felt the tension in her belly loosen as she tumbled out of the stall, Alya clutching to her drenched form and wailing about her hair.

Locking eyes, the pair burst out again, laughing at each other’s drenched appearance. Deciding now was probably not the best time for a shower, they went off in search of a towel.

Leave it to Alya to make her laugh in the midst of a crisis. For perhaps the hundredth time, Marinette silently thanked whatever lucky stroke had delivered her best friend to her side.

Of course, Marinette’s momentary calmness dissipated as soon as stepped foot out of the gym. Every step she took down the hall carried her closer to the classroom, and by extension, closer to…

Did he expect her to act like Ladybug? Should she treat him the way she treats Chat?

Both options seemed wrong somehow.

Marinette skidded to a halt when the door came into view, Alya stopping short beside her. Urging her friend to go in ahead of her, Marinette took a moment to steady herself, mind still reeling at a mile per minute. She glanced around the empty hall, gathering all the false courage she could muster and striding purposely through the doorway.

She could feel his presence the moment she rounded the corner, could sense his eyes tracking her every step.

It took everything she had not to trip.

Marinette avoided looking at him, cursing the blush she could already feel cropping up on her neck as she hustled to her usual spot. She slid into the seat behind him, heart hammering as she stared at the back of his head.

‘Right there, he had always been just right there.’ Marinette marveled once again, scanning the back of his form.

Cha- Adrien’s hands clutched at the edge of the table. His body kept twitching, shoulders tensed up and hair on end. Suddenly, she realized he was having a hard time trying not to turn around in his seat to look at her.

‘Oh’ she thought, an unreadable emotion bubbling up in her chest as she noticed the situation he was currently facing.

See, while Marinette now had months of practice sitting through classes just a few feet away from her crush, Chat was now experiencing that exhilarating proximity for the first time.

She almost broke out into giggles again at the thought of him squirming in his seat, unable to see his Ladybug but knowing she was there. An almost sadistic sense relief washed over her as she realized whatever turmoil she was feeling right now was echoed in the boy before her.

Guess that’s just one more thing we share,’ she thought with a small smile.

 

 

 

It was the longest class Adrien could ever recall having.

‘Behind you,’ his subconscious reminded him once again.

How is it possible that only 5 minutes had passed?

When Marinette had entered the classroom, her blue eyes were cast forward, body rigid as she blew past him. Adrien tracked her every movement, soaking in the familiarity of his partner’s movements while silently willing her to glance at him. She didn’t.

‘Ladybug is right behind you’

10 minutes in. Nino had elbowed more than a few times already, finally snatching the pencil from his best friend’s hand when Adrien failed to stop tapping it rhythmically against the desk. He could feel her.

‘She’s always been there’

After 20 minutes of class, their instructor handed out worksheets. Marinette took hers with a polite “thank you”. Adrien almost combusted.

‘Ladybug does worksheets and she’s right behind you’

The rest of the lesson passed in a blur of hurried writing and barely contained adrenaline for the boy. As the time remaining in this period slowly ticked away, Adrien’s eyes never left the clock. Nino tried engaging him in conversation, but quickly dropped it when all he got in return was distracted, one word remarks.

‘Behind you’

Minutes turned to seconds. Adrien’s heart rate spiked.

The teacher announced there would be no homework, seeing as though exams were now over.

‘Ladybug’

The bell rang.

Adrien whipped around in his seat, surprised his neck didn’t snap with the intensity of the movement. His heart rate had sped back up, now doubling in intensity as he confirmed that Marinette was still, in fact, seated behind him.

She gave him a look he could recall seeing many times before, though never without a mask to cover it. As Chat and Ladybug, they had become accustomed to communicating without words, relying on each other to just know what need to be done based on facial expression alone. Adrien felt a swell of exhilaration at seeing such a familiar trait displayed on his classmate’s face.

‘Wait’ the look said, her eyes dashing to indicate the other people in the room. Marinette made a show of packing her things up slowly, an action that didn’t go unnoticed by the girl sitting beside her.

Apparently, Alya got the hint. With a quizzical expression, she scooped up her belongings and made to stand up. Glancing her blushing friend over before turning to narrow her eyes at Adrien (there was a silent threat there he realized), Alya exited the room, dragging a confused Nino out by the collar out with her.

The second the classroom door slid shut, Adrien’s sole focus snapped back to the girl in front of him. She was slumped over, face cradled between her folded arms on the desk.

Suddenly, all the questions he had been burning to ask her over the past hour became stuck in his throat. The quiet of the room enveloped the pair, magnifying the absolute insanity of the entire situation they now shared. He stared at her crown of black hair.

Trying desperately to grasp at his fleeting confidence, Adrien’s mind attempted to arrange a suave, Chat-worthy opening line.  He tried to think of something, anything to break the tension in the room. Drawing up a blank, all he could manage to squeeze out was…

 

“Ladybug, huh?”

 

‘Smooth going’ he thought to himself dejectedly, face flushing as he watched her shoulders stiffen up. Before he could get a chance to back-pedal however, the breath caught in his throat at the sight of her blue eyes peeking about from behind latticed fingers.

She took in his flustered appearance, swallowing a smile as she moved to prop her chin up on her folded hands. Something about watching Adrien Agreste utterly falling to pieces before her made Marinette’s heart soar.

“Hey Chat.” She replied softly, Ladybug’s effortless confidence overcoming Marinette’s usually shy demeanor as she glanced at him meaningfully.

A huge, goofy smile nearly split his face in half, only widening when he heard her let out a small snort at his reaction. Adrien was too over the moon to feel embarrassed.

 Marinette's chest ached, seeing the distinctively Chat-like expression displayed on the features of her long-time crush. Once again, the realization that the two most important guys in her life were actually one in the same came crashing in on her. Although this time it wasn't a frightening sensation. Instead, it caused a wave of giddy relief to sweep over her.

‘Oh great.’

She was giggling again.

Adrien/Chat joined in immediately, the tension in the room dissipating like a short-lived summer rain. Both students just keep glancing at each other, dissolving back into snorts of laughter anytime their eyes would meet.

This went on for quite a few minutes before tapering off slowly. Marinette wiped tears of hilarity from the corners of her eyes as Adrien shook his head in wonder. Before he could say anything further, his cell phone chimed.

Cursing softly, Adrien glanced the screen quickly before returning his gaze to Marinette.

“That’s…well it’s just….my driver and…”

“Go ahead, I understand.” she said, smiling as she slung her backpack over one shoulder. He gathered his things dejectedly, seriously considering if the ramifications for blowing off this afternoon’s session was worth a few extra minutes with her.

‘Of course it was,’ he thought. 

As if she could tell exactly what he was planning on doing (and honestly, Adrien wouldn’t put it past her) Marinette shook her head at him.

“I’ll see you later.” She reminded him, tapping at the studs sitting in the center of her earlobes.

‘One more thing I was too blind to notice’ Adrien marveled, twirling the silver ring around his knuckle.

“I look forward to it as always, My Lady.” He responding, relieved to find his confidence had returned as he held the door open for her with a flourish.

In their euphoria, neither of them had noticed the two eavesdropping students crouched down on the other side of the door, wildly shushing each other as they watched their best friends exit the classroom.

Marinette stepped into the hallway with a scoff, though (to his infinite pleasure) Adrien spotted a blush spread creeping up the back of her neck as she made her way down the corridor. Taking a few hurried steps to catch up with her, the duo turned a corner…

 

...leaving Alya and Nino the only ones in the now-deserted hallway.

Chapter Text

“I don’t get it-“

Alya shushed him harshly, before turning back to peek through the glass inlays off the classroom door.

“If you said they needed privacy, then why exactly are we spying on them?” Nino continued in a whisper, crouched behind her in the empty corridor. He could still hear them laughing.

Unable to quell his curiosity, Nino stretched his neck to steal a glance around Alya’s shoulder. The scene was blurry, smudges on the window obscuring most of the details from inside the classroom.

Best he could tell, they had yet to stand up or even move positions at all. Adrien and Marinette remained in their spots, occasionally glancing at each other before bursting out into fresh peals of laughter. The whole scene was so bizarre.

The pair watched this go on for a few minutes, Nino’s leg cramping under him as Alya’s intense gaze never left the door. Just as he had worked up the gall to speak again, her hand shot out, grabbing his collar for the second time today as she plastered him against the stone wall to their right.

“What the-“

“They’re coming!” Alya responded in a forceful whisper, pressing a finger to her mouth as she willed herself to disappear.

The classroom door swung open.

“I look forward to it as always, my Lady.”

Alya squeaked, her eyes going wide as Nino took his turn to shush her, hands flying out to cup themselves over her lips. First she drags them out here, next she tries to blow their cover? Rude.

Footsteps echoed through the hallway, slowly dying out Adrien and Marinette made their way into the courtyard.

After waiting a few seconds to insure the coast was clear, Nino slowly released Alya’s face…

What had they just witnessed?

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 “So you’re telling me you don’t find anything suspicious about their behavior, at all??”

“No, I mean…yes, but just calm down alright?”

Alya stopped pacing suddenly, swiveling to face him with a borderline psychotic expression. Nino threw his hands up, admitting fault in an attempt to divert her frustrated fury.

She sighed, resuming her frantic march around the living room. Nino absentmindedly wondered how long it would take her to wear a hole in the carpet. A minute passed.

“You should know by now to never tell me to calm down.” She muttered irritably, batting his feet off their comfy position atop her coffee table. “And get your feet down before my mother comes home and chasing you out with a switch.”

“Please, your mom loves me.” Nino replied cheekily. The two had been friends long enough, practically since kindergarten, that they had become accustomed to this particular brand of squabbling. Like siblings, or perhaps an old married couple.

Alya sunk to the floor, propping her chin on her hands with an expression Nino recognized as her “thinking face.”

She had been at it for 2 days, ever since Adrien and Marinette’s little stunt during gym class.

Nino hadn’t read too much into the incident. Everyone at school knew Marinette turned savage during dodgeball week, and it was only natural that Adrien was innately gifted at the game. The dude had like, 6 different lessons he attending each week, it wasn’t a stretch to assume he was uniquely athletic.

Alya, however, was another story.

Marinette hadn’t answered her phone at all on the evening after “the incident”, a fact that both worried and intrigued her.

Alya knew her best friend well enough to realize when she needed space. And now was not one of those moments.

“Dropped a tray at lunch? Sure, text me when you’re ready to talk about it!”

 “Got into a disagreement with your parents? Absolutely! I’ll be here when you need someone!”

“Just murdered the entire class in dodgeball before having what seemed like a hilariously heartfelt conversation with the love of your life?”

“Spill. Now.”

Alya had just stared at her wall of unanswered texts before succumbing to the call of her bed. She resolved to wrangle and answer from her petite friend in the morning.

Yet the next day came, along with their last Tuesday of the school year, and Marinette was suspiciously vague about what exactly gone on the day before. Alya kept throwing questions at her, hoping to get something out of her tight lipped best friend, but Marinette had just dodged her every advance, answering in vague phrases before assuring the skeptical redhead that everything was normal.

Of course Alya knew everything was not at all normal.

Because while Marinette remained suspiciously quite towards her, she had no problem talking to other people.

Well…really just one person, actually.

Alya had looked on in awe, watching as Marinette flawlessly navigated conversation after conversation with none other than one Adrien Agreste.

Just yesterday, her friend would have swallowed her own tongue if she had been forced to communicate with him for longer than ten seconds. Yet here they were, talking and teasing each other like they’d been doing it their whole lives.

Alya remembered sitting in the courtyard during lunch that first day back, watching them prattle on with a slack-jawed stare of disbelief written across her features. Nino shared the same incredulous look as he sat on the bench beside her.

He gestured vaguely at the scene in front of them (Adrien had just placed his hand on Marinette’s shoulder and she had yet to self-destruct!) and Alya responded with a snort of agreement, her eyes glued to the giggling duo across the yard.

“I’m not the only one seeing this right?” Nino said vacantly, taking of his glasses to scrub at them with the hem of his shirt.

Alya stood suddenly, turning to him as he replaced the spectacles across his nose.

“You’re coming over tomorrow and we are getting to the bottom of this.” She said resolutely, leaving no room for objection. Nino nodded in agreement, wanting to find some answers himself.

“I’ll text you later,” Alya continued, slinging her bag over one shoulder before continuing ominiously, “In the meantime, see if you can get anything out of Adrien.”

“I’ve got Marinette…”

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Yet here they stood.

Nearly 24 hours later and neither of them able to get any sort of explanation out of their tight-lipped best friends.

Alya’s fingers wove themselves into the shag carpeting, deep in thought as she ripped at the fibers.

“Maybe we’re overthinking this?” Nino suggested from his spot on the couch. Alya shook her curls furiously, locks of reddish brown hair fanning out onto the floor around her.

“There’s no way they just became that close overnight. No, you saw them Monday. One second they can’t even look at each other, and next thing you know he’s tossing her through the air like they’re some kind of...”

Nino looked over at Alya’s sharp intake of breath, watching as she scrambled to her feet. Inspiration had struck.

“FOLLOW.” She nearly yelled at him, house groaning as she hightailed it up the stairs to her bedroom.

More confused than ever, Nino trailed behind her.

He entered the room to find her furiously clicking through files on her laptop. Alya’s face was determined, her leg bouncing under the desk in preparation to find whatever it was she was looking for.

“I have it. Of course I have it! I have everything…”she muttered, fingers flying over the keyboard. Nino stood behind her, hands gripping the back of the office chair. With a playful scoff, he noticed she was scrolling through the Ladyblog archive.

‘Oh, you’ve gottta be…”

“Bro, is now really the best time to be updating your blog?” he asked her good-naturedly. Alya threw a hand behind her to blindly swat at him like a fly in her ear.

“Quiet you, can’t you see I’m busy formulating a wild theory?”

With just a few more keystrokes, she apparently came across whatever she was looking for. Alya grew eerily silent, pressing play on the video as she cranked the volume up as high as it would go.

The scene started with a shot of running feet, camera then angling up to capture a black figure leaping down from a lamppost. Fiery tennis balls shot their way across the frame, the sound of a panicked crowd mingling with a monstrous shriek echoing its way through Alya’s bedroom.

Nino recognized the scene, it was from one of the attacks in the park. He remembered seeing it featured on the front page of the Ladyblog nearly 2 months ago (yes he was subscribed, never let it be said he didn’t support his friends).

Alya had been ecstatic at getting the footage. She never seemed to be in the right place at the right time to accurately capture any of Ladybug and Chat Noirs grand battles, but luck had been on her side that day, giving her a front row seat to the action.

The video continued for some time. Most of it was just Alya swinging her cell phone around wildly, trying to capture as much as she could in the intensity of the incident, her own voice excitedly narrating the bits she was unable to get on screen.

Nino was just about to ask why she felt the need to watch this right now, when Alya leaned forward in her chair, glasses nearly pressed against the screen as she watched with rapt attention.

“Right here!” she hissed, pulling him in closer to get a good luck at the action.

The video buffered, showing Ladybug and Chat Noir perched side by side on a wide sidewalk. The camera zoomed in shakily, illumining the fact the heroes seemed to be strategizing, their mouths moving in low chatter as their eyes remained focused ahead.

Before they had the chance to enact whatever plan they may have come up with however, Ladybug reacted to something off-camera, screaming at her partner to duck as a flaming projectile shot towards them.

Beside him, Alya stiffened, leaning in impossibly closer as her nails dug into the skin of his forearm. Nino’s complaint died on his tongue as he registered what he was seeing.

He watched as the heroes began an incredibly synchronized, incredibly familiar combination.

No. Way.

Alya reached out numbly, rewinding the video to watch again. They might as well have just gone back to gym class.

No. Friggen. Way.

Nino held his breath, leaning over to click back to the website’s homepage. There, in a large banner across the top of the screen was a crystal clear picture of Ladybug and Chat Noir, welcoming viewers to the blog. All black pigtails and blonde mop-tops, with eyes of blue and green staring down the stunned pair from inside the computer.

Alya clutched at the arms of her office chair, chest heaving as she continued to stare at the image on the screen before her. She felt the strange desire to crawl into bed. To start her whole day, or perhaps her whole life over. Because never before had she been blind-sided but such an obvious truth.

“Just a reminder that you’ll never get into a good college if you’re locked away for a double homicide.” Nino breathed.

Alya swiveled slowly in her chair, staring up at him.

 Her shoulders were shaking with an emotion he couldn’t quiet identify, somewhere at the cross-section disbelief, elation, shock and rage. Alya stood.

“No, that’d be letting her off too easy…” She whispered. Nino immediately switched to ‘hold me back bruh’ mode, preparing himself to keep her from making any rash mistakes.

“Alya forreal, we can’t just march up to them and accuse them of what? Being superheroes? What if we’re wrong?”

“You saw the tape, you saw how they acted!”

“I’m not saying I don’t think it’s them, I’m saying we need to tread lightly in case it isn’t.”

Alya took a pause, so unused to hearing such rational words from her often passionately misguided friend that all sense of righteous fury fled from her body. She deflated.

“You’re right. We need to be smart about this.” Alya began tentatively, hands reaching out to grab the journal off her side table before leafing to a blank page.  Here she paused, letting out a breath she wasn’t aware she was holding.

“I’m listening…” Nino prompted. He swore he could hear the small clanking noise of metals gears turning in her head.

“It will take some waiting, and a lot of planning….” Rushed scribbles made their way across the lined page, Alya’s hand flying to fill the lined margins. She looked up at him. “We are going to need to keep an ear to the ground if we want any chance at talking to them.”

Nino squinted at her, puzzled.

“Why don’t we just take them aside after school tomorrow?” he asked genuinely.

“Because I don’t want to talk to Marinette and Adrien,” Alya answered, excitement creeping into her voice as she wrote INTERVIEW QUESTIONS in bold lettering atop the page.

 “We’re going straight to the source.”

Chapter Text

The morning after the reveal was one of the happiest Adrien could recall.

He rose before his alarm, a slow smile drawing its way across his sleepy face as he stretched his way awake. His brain made no desperate demand for ‘just five more minutes’. In fact, Adrien was downright chipper as he sat up in bed, nearly 45 minutes before his usual wake-up call.

Just enough time to get ready.

Adrien made a beeline to the shower, intent on making himself has presentable as possible.

Of course he looked presentable every day (that was just part of being an Agreste) but now there was a new sense of urgency to the practice.

‘Its different now.’ he thought, brushing furiously at his teeth. Wet hair tickled his ears with the frenzied motion. ‘This time she knows it’s me.’

True, Marinette saw Adrien nearly every day and had never complained about the way he put himself together.‘Quite the opposite in fact’ he recalled with a touch of smugness. But things had cosmically shifted between the two.

No longer was he Supermodel Adrien Agreste, able to make her swoon with just a smile alone. He was now Chat un-masked. An amalgam the two boys she had been chasing around both literally and metaphorically for the past 2 years.

And no longer was she just Marinette, his sweetly-shy classmate so blindly enamored with the glamourous notions she had about him. She was Ladybug, his devoted partner and perhaps the only person who knew him as a whole. As the combined sum of his two lives.

She was bold and inquisitive; Infinitely compassionate and dangerously gifted. She was Paris’ most renowned superhero, able to pull of amazing feats of heroism on a near daily basis while still seamlessly blending in with crowd of regular teenagers when the mask came of.

To put it lightly, she was quite honestly the most incredible person Adrien had ever had the pleasure of knowing.

And needless to say, he had to step up his game if he wanted to capture (keep?) her attention.

Of course that was easier said than done it would seem. An hour’s worth of work found Adrien still in his bathrobe, sitting cross-legged within his massive closet and on the verge of a complete breakdown. The entire contents of his wardrobe where scattered around him, piles of clothing he deemed not worthy of wearing around his Lady stacked up on the carpet.

Adrien let out a frustrated yell, flinging himself dramatically to the side with a defeated sigh. From his vantage point atop the armoire, Plagg groaned at his friend’s over the top display. He flew down to land on Adrien’s shoulder, lifting clumps of blonde hair to stare down the boy directly.

“You’re making this much harder than it has to be. Dressing yourself is simple. Just put clothing on your body and walk out the door.”

Adrien replied with another plaintive moan, rolling over as he draped a forearms across the bridge of his nose.

“I don’t recall if I mentioned this to you or not, but I’ll say it again just in case.” Adrien enunciated excruciatingly. “Marinette is Ladybug.”

“Yes, you might have clued me in on that once or a dozen times since yesterday.” Plagg replied with an equal amount of snark. “What I don’t see is why that has anything to do with what you wear to school.”

“Oh you don’t know anything.” Adrien lamented, pulling himself up into a sitting position as he surveyed the piles of designer clothing stacked up around him. He glanced at the wall clock, nearly choking as he saw the time displayed. “And I don’t have time to explain it to you!”

Adrien went into full panic mode, yanking his fingers through his mused up hair in a last-ditch effort to tame it as he frantically pulled clothes from the floor. At the sound of his driver’s final warning honk, Adrien stuffed himself into a simple black button down, grabbing his bag with a curse as he skidded his way out the door.

“You should know better than the sleep through your alarm.” Nathalie said in warning, handing Adrien his thankfully brief daily schedule as the teen rushed past her and down the main staircase.

“Won’t happen again!” he yelled over his shoulder, yanking the front door open.

Making his way to the silver sedan parked at the head of the driveway, Adrien felt an overwhelming mixture of excitement and trepidation at the day ahead of him.

If nothing else, at least he had gym class to look forward to.

 


 

 

She beat him to class.

Typical.

Marinette and Alya settled into their usual seats, the latter still ruthlessly grilling her best friend over the circumstances of the day before.

“17 messages I sent you Mari, and you couldn’t even respond once to let me know you were still alive??”

“I told you, I had a long shift at the bakery and ended up passing out early.”

That was a lie. Marinette had watched her phone blow up all night. She knew she was in the wrong frame of mind to answer, so she didn’t. Instead silencing her device in order to do some sorely-needed thinking about a certain classmate/ partner of hers.

‘Speak of the devil and so shall he appear’

It was at that moment the boys decided to show up. Marinette could feel Alya watching the pair of them closely, but she ignored her suspicious friend to return Adrien’s ecstatic smile.

“Mornin’!” she said cheerfully, delighted to hear no trace of stuttering in her greeting despite the fluttering in her chest. His grin grew wider.

“Good morning, Marinette.” Adrien responded, dropping into his seat before pivoting to face the girls. “Alya.”

“Agreste.”

Marinette elbowed her friend at her poisenous reply, turning to address Adrien once again. He looked especially nice today, she noted absently.

 

Black really was his color.

 

“Oh don’t mind her, she’s just grouchy I didn’t text her back last night.” Alya just stared in response, eyes darting between the two before settling on Nino in an 'are you seeing this??' expression.

The look went unnoticed by the other two teenagers, each of them prattling on about the day they had ahead of them. 

Unable to help herself, Marinette shifted her upper body towards towards the blonde, eyes narrowing as she issued her next challenge. “So I hear today’s dodgeball matchup is boys versus girls…you ready for round 2?”

Adrien hunkered forward, hands coming to rest on her desk and head cocked mischievously. He met her challenging gaze confidently and when he responded, there wasnt a trace of anyone besides Chat Noir sitting in front of her.

“While it’s my own personal prerogative to never target a lady…” he drawled out, unaware of the gaping stares thrown their way by Alya and Nino, “…I think I’ll make an exception for today’s game.”

“I’m taking you out first, sucker.”

“Bring it on, Princess.”

A moment passed before the two broke into good-natured laughs, Adrien shooting her one last smile before turning in his seat at the sound of the first bell. Marinette settled back in her own chair, still pointedly dodging Alya’s searching gaze as she attempted to focus on what their instructor was saying through the giddy delight she felt swirling around her head.  

This was bound to be good.

 


 

 

They were, of course, the last two on the court.

What had started as a battle-of-the-sexes dodgeball match had quickly morphed into a game of “stay the hell out of Marienette and Adrien’s line of sight”.

The pair was ruthless, so intent on getting each other out that anyone who happened to cross into their path of destruction was immediately eliminated.  The teens played a deadly match, chipping away at the opposition until it was finally just one on one.

The benched girls cried out for Adrien’s head, urging Marinette to win on for the ladies.

Likewise, the eliminated boys cheered on their champion, howling for Adrien to finish her off.

 

The coach just stood confused. Never had she seen students having more fun watching dodgeball than playing it.

 

“I can do this forever!” Marinette sung, spinning her way around each new projectile that came barreling towards her.

“Not with a ball in your gut you can’t!” Adrien taunted back, preparing another volley of deadly rubber fire.

Their classmates roared for blood, watching the two go at it for a few the next few minutes until…

Marinette watched with sadistic glee as Adrien twirled with eyes searching, only to find she had every single ball hoarded to her side of the court. She turned to her fallen teammates hoisting her arms up in a gesture of victory as the girls screamed their praise like a band of harpies. Lazily scooping up a ball, Marinette returned her attention to the boy across from her, delighting in the way his shoulders stood up stiffly, face twisted into a pout.

“Any last words?” she could help but say, taking small strides towards the center line in order to finish him off. Adrien just shook his head, extending his arms in a gesture she mistook for defeat as she wound up the shot.

Marinette let it fly… nearly falling over as she watched his hands snap towards his chest just in time to make the catch.

 Chat grinned.

“You’re out.” He said simply, letting the ball drop harmlessly to the ground as the whistle rung out.

Marinette let out a feral yell, one that was drowned out by the absolute pandemonium of the boy’s celebration. The winning team went nuts, flying off the bleachers with a childish chorus of “OHHH!” as they surrounded their victor, shoving Adrien around triumphantly as they jumped and paced.

Adrien took their praise with a toothy smile, accepting back thumps and fist bumps alike… but his real joy came from the salty look twisting at the features of his fallen Lady. Marinette stalked around her side of the gym, letting out her frustration out on every ball she encountered by kicking them blindly towards the celebrating group.

It wasn’t more than a few second before the rest of her losing team joined in, the gym dissolving back into chaos as the girls rained havoc upon their male classmates.

The whistle piped out again and again, but it was no use.

Soon both sides were at it, launching into a fierce, impromptu round of no-rules, no-outs dodgeball.

Their coach just looked on hopelessly, shrugging her shoulders in a clear statement of  “I don’t get paid enough to deal with this.” before sitting back and letting the pandemonium runs its course.

Students crossed freely between the line separating sides, jumping and tackling with screams and grunts and laughter as the entire class went at it. Marinette only had a moment to take in the turn of events before thundering over to where she saw a blonde head rise above the crowd, intent on exacting her revenge.

He must of sensed her approach, because Adrien whirled just in time to deflect her first blow, laughing as the bright red spitfire used the 2 balls in her grasp like boxing mitts, bringing them down upon him again and again. Adrien tangled his arms around the waist of the flailing girl, Marinette spitting out a stream of giggling trash talk as she continued to launch her assault.

 This went on for nearly 4 minutes, only ceasing when the bell signaling the start to their next period broke whatever spell had taken ahold. In a flurry of laughter and friendly threats, students dropped their weapons, filtering their way towards the locker rooms in a haze of breathless hilarity.

This time it was Alya doing the dragging, Marinette sending a very smug looking Adrien a final warning to watch his back as she was hauled off through a set of heavy metal doors.

 

The smile never left her face for the rest of the day.

 

Or the next…

Chapter Text

“Go Time” the text read, and suddenly Alya was flying around her room.

She and Nino had been waiting nearly 4 days for their chance to act, and of course her notebook chooses now to go missing.  The frantic teen stuck an arm blindly under her bed, groping around before moving to the next plausible spot.

“Gotcha!” Alya yelled triumphantly, wrestling the beat-up journal from between 2 filing cabinets. She took a moment to leaf through the pages, confirming her notes were still in there. Everything had to go perfectly if they wanted any chance of possibly unmasking Ladybug and Chat Noir.

From the street running beside her house, Alya heard the tell-tale ringing of a familiar bike horn.

“I’m coming.” She announced, poking her head out of her bedroom window to shoot Nino a sheepish smile.

“Tick-Tock Homegirl, you waste any more time and they’ll be gone before we even get a chance to go up to them!” He responded, absently spinning the pedals of his bike with anticipation.

The pair of them had spent the past few days keeping an ear to the ground about information on monster attacks. They had missed their chance yesterday, arriving at the scene just in time to watch Paris’ renowned heroes swing away. Not wanting a repeat performance, Nino had been listening to the closed circuit police channel through his earphones all morning. 15 minutes ago, he finally heard what he was waiting for, shooting a quick text to his conspirator before booking it over to her house.

Alya blew out the front door, tossing her bag into the basket affixed to the front of Nino’s bike before heaving herself onto the same pegs she had been standing on since they were 8.

“You’re getting heavier…” Nino grumbled softly, earning him a sharp slap on the back of the head as he began pedaling.

“Maybe you’re just getting weaker.” Alya shot back, grasping his shoulder with one hand while the other furiously scrolled through the Ladybug hashtag on twitter. Reports of an incident near Versailles had been surfacing, blowing up over the last few minutes as people live-tweeted the action. Alya kept refreshing the page, wind whipping through her hair as Nino swerved around a corner.

“Pick up the pace, it looks like things are really beginning to heat up!”

“Heres an idea, how about you pedal for once?”

“Absolutely not, I’m the brains of the operation.”

“Are you insinuating that I’m the muscle?”

“That’s hilarious.”

Their banter trailed off as a hideous shriek echoed across the empty street.

 The pair rounded another corner, skidding to a stop in the large, concrete plaza in front of the Château’s façade. There was a large crowd gathered, all of them eager to see Paris’ crime-fighting duo in action despite the fact there was a large, spider-like monster crawling its way across the clearing.

Alya hopped down from the bike, yanking her backpack onto her shoulder and booking it towards the palace, Nino just steps behind her. With a whoosh of exhilaration she spotted Ladybug, wielding what looked like a giant pair of polka-dotted scissors. Chat Noir was sprinting around their enemy, shouting taunts as he dodged the tangled webs shooting from the creatures crossed knitting needles.

“Hold this, I want to get some pics for the Ladyblog.” Alya said breathlessly, shifting her items to the boy beside her and unlocking her phone.

“We aren’t here for the Ladyblog.” Nino moaned in exasperation, watching his friend contort her body to snap some shots of the action going on before them. “We need to get our act together before-“

The monster dissolved in a bubbling purple froth, leaving a very confused-looking old woman in its place. Nino yanked Alya up by the arm, both of them sprinting over as they watched Ladybug toss her cleansing artifact into the air. All around them, the atmosphere burst in a brilliant display of light, cracks sealing, mortar flying back into its proper place and lampposts unbending themselves as the healing magic erased all signs of struggle.

“Thery’re leaving!” Alya cried between gulps of air, the duo’s feet pounding the sidewalk as they desperately tried to reach their targets.

“We won’t let them.” Nino huffed back. Keeping his eyes trained on the black and red figures making their way across the rooftops, Nino slipped his hand once more into Alya’s grasp, weaving them through a complicated maze of side streets.

After about a minute into their chase, Alya stopped up short, yanking Nino around a corner with a gulp. The two peeked around from their hiding place, watching as Ladybug and Chat Noir slid down into a sunny, but secluded alleyway.

“Got’em!” Alya whispered breathlessly.

She took a moment to straighten her cloths, brushing the hair from her face as her heart threated to beat its way out of her chest. ‘Here goes nothing’ she thought, snapping open her notebook as she rounded the corner.

“Ladybug! Chat Noir! What an unlikely coincidence to see you here!”

The heroes froze up at her greeting, eyes widening as they took in the two teens striding towards them. Ladybug seemed especially frazzled, brushing her bangs quickly downward in an attempt to further mask her face. ‘Interesting’

“Oh…ugh, hello! Ally, was it?” The polka dotted crusader ground out cautiously.

“Alya.”

‘sneaky, sneaky’

“Right right, of course.”

“And this is my boyfriend Nino.” Alya said flippantly, shoving the suddenly very confused boy in front of her before wrapping an arm around his waist. Again, both heroes looked visibly shocked before they carefully tailored their expressions in ones of mutual pleasantry. Chat still looked like he was hiding a grin, though.  

‘Very, very interesting,’ Alya thought, elbowing the boy beside her with an incline of her head. Play along her expression read, thankfully not going unnoticed by her “boyfriend”.

“Oh, ugh, yeah that’s me!” Nino replied, waving politely. “Nice to meet you Ladybug…Chat Noir.”

Cornered as they were, the masked heroes returned the greeting stiffly.

“Ah, so listen…” Ladybug began, eyes darting around desperately for an escape route, “It was really nice seeing you two but we really need to get going! Right, Chat?”

“Hmm?” Her leather clad companion quipped, eyes still never having left the sight of Alya’s arm wrapped around Nino. “Oh yeah we gotta go do… hero stuff.”

“Of course, of course!” Alya said wryly, taking a step closer. “I was just hoping to ask a few quick questions before you leave. It would really mean the worlds to my bloggers if I got a joint interview with Ladybug AND Chat Noir.”

“I really don’t think-“

“Just 3 questions is all she’s got for you guys.” Nino cut in, flashing a genuine smile that seemed to melt Ladybug’s resolve. Chat turned to her, shrugging his shoulder in a gesture of ‘why not?’.

“I think we can swing that, but please try and be quick.” He supplied, flinching a bit at the curious beep emitting from his partner’s ear. Ladybug looked about ready to melt into the sidewalk, Alya noted before drawing her attention back to the task at hand.

“Perfect! Ok my first question…”

 “How do you manage to keep your identities secret?”

The pair stiffened. Composing themselves within seconds, the boy was the first to respond.

“Well the costumes certainly help, plus we aren’t exactly the same people you see before you when we’re living our civilian lives.” He answered slowly, eyes flicking to his partner’s to confirm he had answered correctly.

“Wh-What he said.” Ladybug choked out.

Alya made a show of scribbling somethings down in her notebook, mind whirring at a mile per minute. She could sense the anticipation mirrored in the boy beside her, his face trying and failing to remain neutral. As planned, he ask the next question.

“So what would you do if say…your best friends found out your secret?” Nino drawled out “Assuming they don’t already.”

Chat launched into a fit of dramatic coughing, Ladybug reacting to the question with a brief look of fear before soldiering on.  Alya couldn’t help but noticed she avoided looking at her as she answered.

“Well, ugh. I would hope if they did somehow find out…” Ladybug let her eyes flicker up for just a second, “…that they would be accepting. That they would realize we kept the truth from them for their own well-being.”

“And I would want them to know that we wear the masks to protect ourselves as well…to preserve some measure of privacy.” Chat added, glancing at Nino meaningfully before rubbing the back of his neck.

Alya and Nino let out a synchronized breath, both of their brains processing at the speed of light. ‘Was this a mistake?’ She worried suddenly, watching the bewildered expressions on the faces of the two people she was now almost 100% sure were Adrien and Marinette. Perhaps a frontal assault wasn’t really the nicest tactic…

Another beeped pierced the weighty silence. The heroes stiffened readying themselves to bolt.

“We really need to-“

“No please, just wait!” Nino interrupted once more, shoving a suddenly conflict-ridden Alya forward. “We have just one more question.”

Alya swallowed her guilt, slowly closing her journal and affixing an un-decipherable expression across her features. She faced the two head on, stepping closer and closer until she finally chirped out casually…

“So how to you think you did on Mrs. Duchamp’s history final?”

If it were possible, the heroes’ eyes got incredibly wider. Nino shook his head playfully, joining a grinning Alya to stand just feet from the pair.

“See, we think we did pretty good, but you two have always been better at the subject than us.”

Silence fell in the alleyway, the 4 teens all holding their breath in anticipation. Alya wanted to reach out to Marinette, to hug her and assure her she could never be mad at her best friend, but she remained curiously rooted in place. The weight of the situation pressed down on the group until…

Chat exploded into a burst of green light, leaving a violently cackling Adrien in his place.

“Bro!” he exclaimed through the gut shaking laughter, striding forwards to clap hands with Nino, who had now also joined in with his friend’s contagious chuckling.

“You aren’t as slick as you thought, man!”

“Hey c’mon, it took you long enough.”

Alya watched the boys playfully jab at each other, acting as if the entire fabric of their relationship hadn’t just been altered. With a flash of trepidation, she turned back to the girl still standing in the corner of the alley. Alya saw Ladybug eye her with doubt, gut clenching with fear for just a minute before the expression change. This time it was Marinette looking at her, teeth working at her lip as she gave a small wave.

Before she knew what she was doing, Alya pitched forward, gathering Ladybug up with a giggle. Any sort of malcontent she might have felt when she first made her discovery faded away, leaving only a sense of wonder at just how incredible her best friend was. As she held her tight, Alya felt a magical prickle make its way down the girl’s body, pulling back to watch the spotted costume melt away.

“Hi Alya.” Marinette whispered tentatively, tucking a bit of hair behind her ear before peering up at the taller girl.

“Hi Marinette.” Alya responded, still shaking her head in wonder. “Or should I call you Ladybug now?”

Her friend snorted.

“I guess either would do. But Marinette is probably your best bet around school and stuff.”

“I would say so, wouldn’t want anyone else finding out my insanely awesome best friend and the insanely awesome Ladybug are in fact the same person.” Alya said with a wink, causing relief to flood Marinette’s features.

“You mean, you aren’t going to tell anyone?”

Alya looked at her with shock, gut clenching as she realized Marinette was truly worried that she would tell the world her secret. ‘Oh gosh, she thinks this is for the Ladyblog…’

“What? Absolutely not! I would never out you without your consent, Girly.”

At her words, Marinette seemed to release the tension in her shoulders, settling against her friend with a relieved giggle as she glanced over to where the boy still stood chatting. Alya looked over as well, watching the two bros recount stories of all the time Chat Noir had done something “sick”.

“Jeez, no wonder you killed at dodgeball!” Nino was saying, gesturing for Adrien to walk with him over to the girls’ side of the alley. He turned to clap Marinette on the shoulder. “You’re an actual beast, Mari. Who would have thought the shy girl who sits behind me in homeroom was capable of destroying a 50 foot spider?”

“I don’t know, it felt like more of a 60 footer to me.” She responded slyly, causing the group to crack identical grins.

Alya noticed Adrien’s gaze lingered on Marinette’s, the two exchanging a complicated look filled with something beyond relief.  ‘There was still more to be discovered here.’

“So what I’d like to know is just how long you two have been acting like complete strangers around each other at school with messing around together at night.” Alya drawled out suggestively, inciting twin blushes to cropped up on the faces of her un-masked friends.

“Yeah well… since when have you two been boyfriend and girlfriend?” Marinette shot back shakily, eying Alya and Nino while pointedly avoiding the gaze of the blonde boy to her left.

“Oh no, now you’re just avoiding the question. You know that was lie but you’re trying to avert my attention. Well then, how about you Agreste?” Alya swiveled to stare him down. “You want to tell me just how long you’ve been sneaking out with my best friend in your kinky leather catsuit?”

Adrien gave a sputter, crossing his arms defiantly as Marinette just buried her head in her hands with a groan. Nino was laughing again.

“For your information, we had no clue about each other until just a few days ago.” He said primly.

“Wait, during dodgeball?”

“Yeah.”

“So that’s why Marinette was freaking out while we were in the shower.” Alya said absentmindedly, earning her an elbow from the snickering Marinette and two equally wide looks from the boys across from her.

“Wait… what?”

 

The End.