“Sometimes being a brother is even better than being a superhero.”
- Marc Brown
Chat leaps down onto the side street, landing quietly behind the girl. He’s impressed that her pigtails are still neat and that she doesn’t seem to be upset, especially with the akuma attack that just ended. She doesn’t look like she freaked out at all, while he had been panicking the entire time. He’d panicked throughout the whole fight, desperately searching for her as he and Ladybug dodged and wove through Pairs. He barely had time for their fist bump before he was rushing off to detransform, shove cheese at Plagg, and transform again.
He shakes his head and sighs. Of course she wasn’t scared. She never seems to be. He whistles and clasps his hands behind his back, taking long strides to catch up with her.
Her eyes light up when she turns to look at him. “Chat!”
He grins widely and holds out a fist. She bumps it excitedly and then grabs his arm and shakes it hard.
“I got to see you and Ladybug fight today!”
Chat laughs. “Did you stay out of the way?” He tugs on one of her pigtails.
Alexi scrunches up her nose and crosses her arms. “Of course I did! You told me to? Do you remember ?”
He scratches his head. “Must’ve hit my head harder than I thought,” he muses.
Her eyes widen, huge and green. “You okay?” she whispers.
He smirks at her and scoops her up into his arms. “Ladybug fixed me, that one memory is just a little stubborn.”
Alexi giggles and reaches up to ruffle his hair. “That’s because Ladybug always saves the day.”
“Yeah, she does.” Chat pulls his baton out. “Ready to go home, little miss?”
She furrows her eyebrows and pouts her lips, giving him the best puppy dogs eyes she can manage. Which are incredibly good. Good thing cats don’t like dogs.
“I think your brother is probably missing you,” he says with a chuckle. “And it’s getting late, no puppy face is going to stop your papa from sending out the entire police force to look for you.”
Alexi sighs. “Fine,” she grumbles. “Dree isn’t home yet though.”
“Doesn’t change the fact that your papa is.” Chat extends the pole lifting them both up to the rooftops. “Remember the rules?”
“Hold on tight, don’t let go, look adorable for the Ladyblog!” Alexi recites happily. “And extra adorable if Ladybug is around.”
He leaps onto the roof as her arms wrap around his neck. He tucks his baton away and snaps a finger gun at her. “You got it, kiddo.” He turns toward her house and crouches down like he’s about to run a race. “On your mark… Get set…”
“GO!” Alexi shouts.
Chat takes off like a bullet. He holds back a little, he doesn’t want to be too reckless while a seven year old is dangling from his neck, but he’s done this enough that he can still give Alexi a thrill. She’d complained the first few times that he’d been too slow. He loves a challenge.
Alexi shrieks as he makes a long leap across the gap between two buildings. Her arms tighten around his neck and he presses a hand to her back to make sure she’s secure, but it’s less of a shriek of fear and more of one of excitement. He can already tell she’s going to love adrenaline rushes.
She loosens her grip as Chat slows down. He’s approaching her house and the last thing he wants to be accused of is endangering her. She sighs and rests her chin on his shoulder.
“Do you have to go?” she asks.
Chat smiles and pats the back of her head. “I’m sure I’ll see you again soon, Lexi. You seem to be pretty good at slipping out. A real Houdini.”
Alexi giggles as Chat drops onto the front steps. He doesn’t even get a chance to knock or properly put Alexi down before the doors fly open.
“ Alexi! ”
Chat bends down and lets Alexi climb down. She immediately runs over and hugs Nathalie’s legs.
Nathalie’s perfect posture sags slightly and she runs a hand over her hair. “What were you doing out there?” she asks. Chat notices the slight tremble in her voice.
“I wanted to see Ladybug.” Alexi looks up to her with her wide puppy dog eyes. He has to admit, the girl knows how to use what she’s got.
Nathalie sighs. “You aren’t allowed to run out like that. How did you even get out?”
“I climbed out my window,” Alexis says honestly.
At least she hasn’t mastered lying yet. Because now they all know to watch her windows or lock them or make it so she can’t make a rope out of bed sheets and escape.
Nathalie closes her eyes and composes herself. “What would your father—”
Chat tenses. He glances inside to see Gabriel Agreste standing on the stairs. Gabriel gives Chat a long look before making his way down to the doorway.
“Are you allowed to sneak out?” Gabriel asks sharply.
Alexi hugs Nathalie’s legs a little tighter. “No,” she mumbles.
“Are you allowed to go anywhere without adult supervision?”
She bites her lip. “N-no.” Her eyes start watering as she sniffs.
Gabriel adjusts his glasses. “I’m not angry with you, Lexi.”
Chat stares at him. He shakes his head and starts to slowly slink away. He shouldn’t be intruding.
“Chat Noir,” Gabriel says suddenly.
Chat freezes and glances over his shoulder. “Yes?”
Gabriel nods seriously to him.
Chat swallows the lump in his throat and returns the nod. He smirks to Alexi and gives her a two finger salute. He leaps away just as Nathalie starts to close the doors and Gabriel kneels down to gently pull Alexi away from her legs.
Chat lands in the first abandoned alley. He drops his transformation and leans against the wall.
“Don’t die yet,” Plagg says. “I need cheese.”
Adrien snorts and swats Plagg away. “I need to breathe first.”
“Breathing is overrated.”
Adrien rolls his eyes. He leans his head against the wall and closes his eyes. That ranks up there on the list of terrifying things he’s gone through.
“You okay, kid?” Plagg asks after a minute.
“Terrified,” Adrien says with a forced laugh.
“Yeah, but she’s okay. You kept her safe and got her back. And she’s going to be waiting for you at home. Her and some camembert?”
Adrien straightens. “Hug from Lex, then camembert.”
Plagg shrugs. “That works for me.”
Adrien makes a quick pit stop at the school to grab his bag, practice had been cut short by the attack and too many people had left to continue it, before he makes his way home. He’d never stopped to seriously consider what would happen if Alexi got out during an akuma attack. He doesn’t think he’s ever seen Nathalie so unhinged. He didn’t know it was possible for Nathalie to be unhinged. And his father…
Adrien opens the door and announces he’s home to an empty hall. He shrugs and goes to the kitchen, slipping some camembert into his bag before Nathalie enters. He pulls out a random carton of juice.
“Hey Nathalie,” he says as he reaches for a cup.
“You’re home early,” she says. The worry that was in her voice earlier is gone now, but she’s more stiff than usual.
“Yeah, practice was cut short because of the attack.” Adrien pours a glass of orange juice. He offers it to Nathalie but she shakes her head.
“Your sister got out,” she says shortly.
He puts the cup down on the counter. “ During the attack?”
“Is she okay? Did we find her?” he asks frantically.
“She’s fine.” Nathalie puts a hand on Adrien’s shoulder. “Chat Noir brought her back almost immediately afterward.”
Adrien sighs and runs a hand through his hair. “I’ll have to have Alya thank him for me,” he murmurs.
“Could you talk to her?”
“Of course. Right now?” Adrien reaches for his juice.
“In a little while. Your father is with her right now.”
Adrien had anticipated every part of this conversation. He knew each step of this interaction and how he should react to it. He was not expecting this. “My father?”
A rare expression crosses Nathalie’s face. So rare that Adrien can’t read it. “Alexi was…upset. And I have no doubt your father will want to talk to you as well at some point.” She glances down to her tablet. “Your afternoon is free, although I suggest you start planning your research paper.”
Adrien is just trying to process the fact that his father is with Alexi . He looks up as Nathalie leaves the room. “Hey, Nat?”
Nathalie gives him a small smile. “Of course.”
Alexi enters without knocking. Plagg dives into the trash can, taking his cheese with him. “Dree!” she shouts.
Adrien spins around in his chair. “Hey, Lex.”
She launches herself onto his bed and lands on her stomach. “Are you doing homework again ?”
He glances at the paper he’s been failing to write for the past hour. He closes the document. “Nope.”
Alexi lights up. “Can I do your nails?”
“Only my toes, I have a shoot tomorrow.” Adrien pulls off his socks and sits down on the floor in front of his tv.
Alexi grabs the nail polish from under the bed and joins him. She carefully lines up all the bottles in rainbow order.
“So Nat said you went out today,” he says as she chooses a sparkly purple.
Alexi makes a face. “I just wanted to see Ladybug and Chat!” She shakes the polish aggressively. “I was careful, I promise.”
“Don’t doubt it. But you’re going to give Nat a heart attack if you keep sneaking out.”
“Do you want Nat to have a heart attack?” he teases.
“No,” she grumbles.
Adrien sighs. He’ll try again later and keep a closer eye out for her when he’s out. “Just purple?”
“And turquoise,” Alexi decides quickly. “Wiiiiiiiiith pink. Because Chloé taught me how to do fade-y things.”
“Where’d you go where’d you go where’d you go?” Adrien mutters. He grabs his phone and Plagg — despite protests — and runs out of his room. Alexi had said she’d be back in a few minutes. And it’s been twenty. Usually, he wouldn’t be too worried. She gets distracted, she wanders around the house. But she’s also been sneaking out more and more and his father—
His father turns to frown at him. “Where are you going?”
Adrien gulps and motions down the hall. “Just going to check on Lex.”
Gabriel raises an eyebrow.
Adrien sighs. “She’s not there, is she?”
“It would seem that she’s slipped out again.”
Adrien isn’t sure how his father is so calm about this. Especially with what happened last time. There’s no akuma attack this time and he’s starting to panic, and his father is standing here staring at him with a calm, cool, and collected look. How does his father not care more? “I’ll…go get her.”
Gabriel nods her. “Let me know if you need any help.”
Right, so he can send Nathalie or the Gorilla. Right. Adrien ducks his head and hurries down the stairs. He already has a map of Paris up on his phone. He has no idea where Alexi might be, but he knows where her favorite spots are and where she won’t be.
Plagg suggests transforming for once, but Adrien declines. He doesn’t want to balance Chat Noir and Adrien Agreste today. Besides, if Chat keeps bringing Alexi back it’ll start looking suspicious.
He groans and leans against the Ladybug and Chat statue.
“She’s a slippery one,” Plagg snickers.
“Bet you wish she was your chosen, huh?” Adrien whispers.
“She’s definitely less of a goody two shoes than you.”
“Shut up.” Adrien pushes off the base of the statue. He just has to keep looking.
He’s surprised to find her sitting with another pigtailed girl. He lets out a sigh of relief as Alexi bounces up and down. She lets out an excited laugh as Marinette gestures wildly with her hands. He walks up behind them and drops on the step next to Marinette.
“Nice view,” he says as she freezes and turns pink.
“A-a-adrien!” Marinette stutters.
“Hi, Dree!” Alexi leans across Marinette’s lap. “Nette was telling me ‘bout dresses!”
Adrien glances down to the sketchbook in Marinette’s lap. There’s a rough sketch of a dress on the page with sweeping skirts and puffy sleeves.
Marinette shrugs and tucks her hair behind her ear. “E-everyone wants to be a princess?”
“I got to help!” Alexi says proudly.
Adrien smiles and leans back to tug on Alexi’s pigtail. “That’s great! Did you have fun?”
“Yeah, but…” Alexi sighs. “Do we gotta go?”
“Sorry, Lex. Papa was looking for you, and you promised not to leave the house without supervision.”
She scrunches up her nose. “But I’m with Nette!”
Marinette ducks her head and smiles.
Adrien raises his eyebrows. “Did you leave the house with Nette or did you find her here?”
Alexi blows a raspberry as Marinette looks to Adrien with wide eyes and a very red face.
“Hmmmmm?” Adrien rests his chin in his hand. “Do you remember?”
“Nette was already here,” Alexi mumbles. She snuggles against Marinette’s arm.
Marinette pats her head. “Uh… I—” She chews on her lip for a second before turning to look at Adrien. “I b-babysit sometimes. Manon? I-I’ve talked about her?”
Adrien nods. He remembers Alya and Marinette talking about Manon a few times. Nino had met her too, and Alya had going on and on about Manon being akumatized. Not that Adrien ever interacted with the Puppeteer.
“If— if Alexi evver wants to come out and I’m free I could totally watch her for a bit? Or if you were just busy with shoots or something. Because I really wouldn’t mind, and I mean—” Marinette stops herself. She gives Adrien a half smile. “I figured I’d offer.”
Alexi gasps loudly. She looks to Adrien with stars in her eyes and bounces up and down excitedly. “Please please please please please please pleeeaaaase! ”
Adrien laughs. “We’ll talk to Papa and Nathalie okay?”
She jumps to her feet and runs behind them to hug Adrien tight around the neck. “Yes yes yes yes!”
He shoots Marinette a relieved smile. “Do you have my number?”
Marinette blinks quickly. “W-what?!”
“So I can text you after I talk to my father.” He motions to her pencil. “Can I see that?” She hands him her pencil and he scribbles the number on the corner of the page. “Thanks, by the way.”
“N-no problem! I’ll t-text you so you have mine.” she stutters. She shuts the sketchbook and holds it to her chest. “I’m happy to help, Alexi is great.”
Alexi lets go to hug Marinette instead. “I love you, Nette.”
Marinette smiles and hugs her back the best she can. “Love you too. But now you should probably go home.”
Alexi ‘pulls’ Adrien to his feet. She waves to Marinette as they start to walk home. Adrien glances down at his phone as it buzzes.
From: Unknown Number
Hey! This is Marinette
Just so you have my number and everything
Adrien smiles at the screen until Alexi tugs on his arm and says she wants something to eat on the way home. He thinks they can both sneak fries before they get back home.
Adrien looks up from his computer in surprise when there’s a knocking at his window. He yanks out his headphones and spins toward it, his heart stopping when he sees Ladybug standing there holding Alexi in one arm. She shoots him a dazzling smile as Alexi waves.
He almost trips over himself as he runs over to the window and yanks it open. “Alexi?! What are you doing it’s after midnight!”
Alexi shrugs. “I got bored.”
Of course she did. Adrien can’t wait until she’s a teenager and he can worry less about her disappearing to wander the city of Paris. He steps back so Ladybug can drop down into his room.
She puts down Alexi with a pat on the head. “She wasn’t too far, but I figured someone might be missing her.”
“Absolutely,” Adrien says quickly. He kneels down to hug Alexi tight. “Papa would’ve panicked. If you’re going to disappear on us, at least do it in the daylight.”
Alexi shrugs and pushes away from the hug. “But Paris is so pretty at night! There are less people too.”
“And there are more ways to get lost,” Ladybug adds. “Even Chat and I prefer being out during the day.”
Alexi stares up at her idol with large eyes. “You do?” she asks in wonder.
Ladybug nods. “Don’t tell, but even with his night vision, I don’t think Chat likes the dark very much.” She winks at Alexi. “Besides, all the interesting stuff happens during the day. Don’t you want to be awake for that?”
“Dree is awake all the time!” Alexi protests.
“Usually because I’m doing homework at night,” Adrien counters. And definitely not running across rooftops.
“Perks of being a teenager,” Ladybug says with a knowing smile. “But if you want to stay up all night as a teenager, you need to get your rest when you’re still growing.”
A determined look crosses Alexi’s face. “I’m going to bed!” she announces. She presses a quick kiss to Adrien’s cheek and hugs Ladybug’s legs tightly before running out of the room.
Adrien sighs and runs his hand through his hair as he gets to his feet. “Thank you.”
“Just doing my job,” Ladybug says, turning pink. “She’s very sweet.”
“Yeah,” he glances to the door. “And slippery. She hates being stuck in the house.”
“I’ll be sure to pick her up if I see her wandering around,” Ladybug promises.
“Really, thank you . So much. You saved us from a world of trouble.”
She averts her gaze for a moment. “Like I said, just doing my duty. Besides, she had a lot to say about Chat Noir.” A smirk plays at the corner of her mouth and it makes Adrien’s heart flip. “I should head back out.” He nods wordlessly as she climbs up onto the sill of his window. She looks over her shoulder at him with a smile. “Have a nice night, Dree.”
“Y-you too,” he says in a daze. It takes him a few moments to remember to close the window once she’s leapt away.
Chat skids to a stop next to Marinette’s balcony. He’d already thanked her a million times for taking Alexi to the park earlier, although she had insisted it was nothing. She keeps refusing payment for watching Alexi, saying it’s just a favor for a friend. He’s considering giving Alya the money and having her slip it to Marinette somehow.
He doesn’t know what it is, but there’s something about the way she acts with Alexi. Or just other people, but especially with Alexi. It’s so…different from how she usually acts around him. Or Adrien. She seemed to have no problem being confident around Chat. He’s not sure what it is about Adrien that makes her so uncomfortable.
Chat doesn’t know the trapdoor on her balcony has been opened until he hears Marinette softly calling his names. His ears perk up and he leaps over, balancing on the railing. “Yes, princess?”
Marinette rolls her eyes and climbs up onto the balcony. “What are you doing here?” she asks. “I saw you just…sitting there and staring.”
“Lost in thought,” he admits.
“You know it’s nearly midnight, right?”
“Aw, are you worried about me?” he teases.
Marinette scoffs. “More like worried for Ladybug. What is she going to do if her partner falls asleep mid akuma attack?”
“Kind of offended you think I’d stoop so low as to not be about to protect my Lady.”
Chat relaxes on the railing. “I saw you today, actually. With Alexi.”
Marinette’s expression softens. “You know Alexi?”
He laughs. “Saved her cute little butt a few times. You?”
“She’s my friend’s little sister. I was doing him a favor and took her to the park. Her brother is great, really, he’s…incredible—”
Chat does a double take.
“—but it’s nice to have friends. And friends your age. And Alexi’s homeschooled, so…” Marinette shrugs. “It keeps her from wandering around the city alone so much.”
“You’re a good friend,” he says softly.
Marinette turns pink. “I-I guess? It’s just a favor. Besides, if I was really a good friend, I wouldn’t be encouraging you. I’d be telling you to go to bed.”
Chat smirks. “Is that your way of telling me you want me to go away?”
“Yes.” Marinette crosses her arms. “My bed is very inviting and so is sleep. If only this stray cat would go away…” She gives him a pointed look.
He laughs. “Okay, okay. I’m going.”
“And you’ll go to bed?”
“Yes, I’ll go to bed.” He turns to leap off the railing. “Night, princess.”
Chat freezes when he sees her out of the corner of his eye. “No no no no,” he mumbles, the no’s blurring together into panicked sounds.
Ladybug follows his gaze and tenses. “Chat,” she says tightly, “get her out of here.”
He watches carefully for an opening. “Already on it, LB.” The moment he sees it, he runs toward Alexi on all fours, sliding underneath the akuma and snatching her up as he passes her. He wraps his arms around her tightly as he leaps away from the attack. He holds her tightly because he needs to make sure she’s in his arms and nowhere else .
“Ladybug!” Alexi shouts.
“I’ll go back to her in a minute,” Chat promises. “But I need to get you to—”
“You have to help Ladybug!” she protests, hitting his shoulder repeatedly.
He risks a look back to see Ladybug in the same spot they were hiding in before, but with the akuma looming. Too close, too close, too close. He swears silently and puts Alexi down. “Get out of here,” he says sharply. “As far as you can get. We’ll get you home after. Just be safe.” Then he swallows his panic and spins on his heel. Back into the fray.
He leaps on the akuma from behind, giving Ladybug the distraction she needed to get out of hiding. They barely get by for a few more minutes. And Alexi is still there , despite Chat motioning at her to leave with every chance he gets. She shrieks and falls to the ground, the akuma’s shot barely missing her.
His mind goes blank. He uses cataclysm on the first thing that he sees that might be useful.
Ladybug uses Lucky Charm almost as quickly, freeing and purifying the akuma as Chat runs over to Alexi. He skips the fist bump. It doesn’t matter right now.
He scoops up Alexi in his arms and hugs her as tightly as possible. He knows he’s surprised her by how tense she is and he can hear his ring beeping at him, but he can’t think anything other than ‘ too close ’.
Ladybug may fix everything, but that doesn’t change the fact that he never wants his sister to be possessed by an akuma. He doesn’t care if she’ll forget it after. She’s his baby sister and he won’t let that happen.
He won’t let himself think about what he would do if she was akumatized.
“Chat,” Ladybug says, putting a hand on his shoulder. “We have to go.”
Yes. They do. But he’s not letting go. He lifts his head from the crook of Alexi’s neck and hopes she can’t see any tears. “Let’s get you home,” he whispers.
“ Chat ,” Ladybug hisses warningly. Her earrings beep for emphasis.
He takes a shaky breath. “I know, my Lady.” He gives her a small smile. “Ready, Lex?”
Alexi tilts her head in confusion.
He extends his baton and lifts them to the rooftops. He starts making his way back home, but doesn’t rush it. They won’t make it, not with the few minutes he has left. He drops into the first abandoned area he sees.
Ladybug lands behind him just seconds later. “What are you—”
Chat’s ring beeps rapidly as a final warning, green light shining as his transformation is released. He sinks to his knees and hugs Alexi tight. She hugs back with less hesitation this time.
“Don’t do that, Lex,” Adrien whispers. “That’s too dangerous.”
“I’m sorry,” Alexi says. He can hear the confusion in her voice. “But I thought Ladybug—”
“Fixes everything,” Ladybug says with a sigh. “That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful.” Her miraculous beep again.
Adrien pulls away from Alexi. Alexi stares at him. She puts her hand on top of his head like she’s trying to see if he’s actually there.
He gives her a weak smile and taps her nose with his finger. “You scared me.” A lot. Too much. He keeps his eyes on Alexi. “My Lady, you should—”
Ladybug kneels down next to him and hugs him and Alexi tightly. “Not today, kitty.” She takes a quick breath. “Tikki, spots off.”
They’re bathed in pink light and she hugs him tighter. Adrien can’t see her face, but he’s glad she hasn’t left. He’s glad she’s still here.
After a moment, she says, “Okay, honestly, my eyes are closed and I’m a little afraid to look.” Her voice is playful, but he can hear the slight fear at the edge of it.
Alexi wiggles out of the hug. She gasps and throws herself back at Ladybug, knocking her into Adrien. “Nette!”
With her basically on top of him, he finally gets a good look at her face.
Marinette has her eyes squeezed tightly shut and her face scrunched up. It’s…almost unbearably cute.
He laughs. “It’s okay, Mari. It’s just me.”
She opens one eye a little bit. She looks at him and both eyes go wide. “Adrien?” she asks softly.
“I like your floppy hair better,” Alexi decides. She brushes Adrien’s bangs into his eyes. “But you’re still not as pretty as Nette.”
“No one is,” he says with a smile. Marinette turns pink. “Are you ready to go home, Lex?”
Alexi nods slowly. “Can I see Nette later?”
Marinette hugs Alexi quickly. “Promise not to go near any more akuma?”
Marinette pulls away and holds out her pinky. Alexi wraps her own pinky around it. “I’ll visit later. Ladybug’s honor.”
Nathalie doesn’t bother with her stone heart routine this time. She throws open the doors and bends down to put her hand on Alexi’s head when Alexi hugs her legs. She uses her arm to brace herself on the doorframe. “The Ladyblog—”
Adrien nods. Alya had been on the other side of the street. She got footage of Alexi on the scene, but she was too far away to get her out. He’d texted both his father and Nathalie as soon as him and Alexi started their way home, having already received frantic texts from them, Alya, Nino, and most people he knew. “Chat and Ladybug had her.”
His father shows up on the stairs, right on cue. Adrien doesn’t know what to expect, but he doesn’t think it’s his father hurrying down the rest of the staircase when he sees Alexi wrapped around Nathalie’s legs.
His father pulls Alexi off Nathalie and up into his arms. “I thought you said you wouldn’t sneak out anymore,” he says softly. Gently. Worried. Softer than Adrien’s heard in awhile.
“‘m sorry,” Alexi mumbles into his shoulder.
Adrien tenses when his father reaches out his free arm and pulls him into a one armed hug.
“As long as you’re both safe,” Gabriel says. “As long as you’re safe, nothing else matters.”