Marinette was not having a fantastic day. An akuma had attacked last night in the middle of a physics project, meaning that she had to spend half the night dodging projectiles and the other half finishing the project! She had barely managed to finish before she fell asleep at her desk, and when she woke up she seriously wished she hadn’t slept at all. At least then she’d still be running on over-tired adrenaline. Now she just felt groggy.
By some miracle (namely, Tikki’s nagging) she wasn’t too late for school. She struggled through her first classes, using all her self-restraint to pay attention to the teacher and not the clock ticking down the minutes until lunch.
Alya noticed her distress, and began poking Marinette whenever she got too close to falling asleep.
“Girl, you have got to stop pulling all-nighters! Whatever it was could not have been worth all of this.” Alya whispered to the semi-conscious Marinette. All she got in response was a tired grunt.
Honestly, the day should have ended without too much of a mishap. Marinette even made it to her last class before lunch, one that she knew for a fact she wouldn’t be falling asleep in; physical education. Or, as the accident prone Marinette liked to call it, Humiliation 101.
Despite her clumsiness, the gym teacher had a soft spot for Marinette. He could see that the girl was trying, which was more than he could say for all his students.
They had a filler lesson planned for today, because they had just finished one of the health units. Girls vs Boys dodgeball. The class had… mixed feelings about this. On one hand, neither side was willing to admit defeat in the battle of the genders. However, both sides readily admitted that the girls were at a disadvantage.
“Ugh, I absolutely refuse! I am not risking this manicure around those things.” Chloé shrilled, waving one hand imperiously at the dodgeballs.
They weren’t the usual soft foam balls. Those had been destroyed by too many years of enthusiastic teenagers. Their replacements were proper, air-pump inflated, red rubber dodgeballs. Marinette winced. I would not like to be pegged with one of those.
“Come on, Chloé!” Alya protested. “You don’t want the guys to win, do you?”
“If Chloé forfeits, does that mean we win by default?” Kim asked, a grin already on his face. “Even with two extra players, there’s no way they could win. With only one extra player, they’re beyond doomed.”
“Says who?” Alix protested.
“Uh, evolution, actually.” Max interrupted. “Guys are stronger, faster, and have better reflexes. It’s nothing personal, just genetics.”
“I’d like to see you go head to head with Ladybug. Then we’ll see where your precious ‘genetics’ are!” Everyone turned in shock to see Chloé defending the girls. “You! Mr Nerdy Sticks-For-Limbs.” Well, defending them the way she knew best.
“Does this mean you’ll play?” Rose chirped.
“Fine,” Chloé sighed dramatically, not-so-secretly enjoying the spotlight. “Just so long as I don’t actually have to touch any of those things.”
The girls cheered and the guys groaned. Sabrina lifted her hand to Chloé for a high five, but quickly dropped it at her friend’s glare.
Despite what either side claimed, they were pretty evenly matched. What the girls lacked in upper body strength, they more than made up for with cunning strategies. The guys, for all their brawn, just weren’t quick enough.
Chloé wasn’t helping her side, though. She’d noticed Marinette’s zombie-like state, and was planning some sweet revenge.
She continued shouting taunts at the guys throughout the game, nimbly dodging every frustrated ball thrown her way, making her way to stand in front of Marinette. The poor girl was too tired to notice much of anything.
Chloé prepared her final taunt when she noticed that every guy left standing had a ball in their hands; Adrien, Nino, Max and Kim. Marinette lost control for a moment and gave in to a gigantic yawn.
“Oh, please. You idiots couldn’t hit me even if I was blindfolded! So much for the superior gender!”
Kim, Max and Adrien threw before Chloé had even finished taunting, fed up with her nonsense. Nino followed a second later, all of the balls aimed perfectly at Chloé’s…
She dodged to the side.
Marinette opened her eyes and saw red somethings flashing towards her face.
Before she could even comprehend where she was or what was happening, her Ladybug instincts kicked in. Marinette dropped like a stone, ducking under three red balls the same way she had dodged her own couch when Alya had been turned into a puppet Lady Wifi. She rose into a crouch to see Nino’s ball, aimed lower than the others, not a meter from her face. Her right hand flew forwards and caught the ball perfectly, the sound reverberating around the deadly silent gymnasium.
Marinette blinked, and stood up. This wasn’t an akuma attack, this was…
A disaster. Everyone was staring at her like she’d just grown a second head. She could feel her cheeks burning, and knew that she wasn’t very far from looking like the ball in her hand.
Their Gym teacher had dropped his clipboard. Alya, who’d been one of the first to get out and had been filming ever since, suddenly lost all ability to hold her phone upright. Everyone’s jaws were hanging open.
Chloé was the first to break the silence. “What the hell, Marinette?” Her face was twisted into annoyance, mad that her perfect plan had been ruined by the not-as-clumsy-as-everyone-thought Marinette. Then the rest of the class spoke at once.
“Oh my God, Marinette, that was awesome!” Alix cheered.
“You nearly gave me a heart attack!" Alya cried, pulling her friend into a smothering hug. "But damn, Marinette, you’ve been holding out on me, girl!”
“I am so sorry, Marinette. I had no idea you were behind Chloé!” That was Adrien, with the other three guys nodding behind him.
“Yeah, man. Not cool of her.” Nino added.
“But that was incredible!” Kim enthused, putting out his fist. Marinette bumped it with her own hesitantly, not sure what was going on. Her classmates crowded around her, demanding to know how she did it, or congratulating her, or apologizing for accidentally pegging a ball at her head.
Before Marinette could formulate any sort of response, the end of class bell rang. Taking advantage of her distracted classmates, Marinette ducked towards the exit.
“Gotta go bye!” She called back, grabbing her bag off the bench next to the door. As she swung past the door, she clipped the doorframe with her shoulder, spinning around with a shout of pain. She blushed even harder, if that was possible, and scrambled out of the school.
“How?” Alya couldn’t even finish her sentence, but they all knew what she was thinking. How could a girl like that, also be the girl who just annihilated the dodgeball game.
Adrien thought he might have a pretty good idea.