“Dude you have GOT to tell me! You can’t just leave me hanging on this one,” Nino loudly complained as he walked through the door to the classroom, Adrien was just behind him frantically tapping his phone.
“I told you it’s no big deal, okay?” The blond looked up from his phone to realize they were the first ones in the classroom, he stopped tapping on his phone and instead buried it deep within his bag, he sighed deeply as he plopped into his seat and threw his bag on the floor under his desk.
Nino rose a single brow. “Not a big deal? Do you honestly expect me to believe that?! This is huge dude!” He waved both his hands in the air between them gesturing all of Adrien before gesturing to his hand, which had held a phone until moments before. “You have a snap that was obviously snapped by Chat Noir!! How is that ‘no big deal’?” His voice turned to a mocking tone on the last few words to emphasize how stupid he believed Adrien had sounded.
“Well it wasn’t snapped by Chat Noir!” Adrien exclaimed, just as he did he heard voices nearing the classroom. “And can you please just drop it? I don’t want the entire school to think that I…”
“That you what?” Alya had her phone ready, mock-recording whilst lifting her eyebrow in much the same manner Nino had done moments prior.
Adrien immediately turned to give Nino a sharp look that said ‘do not freaking tell her’. Nino, however, just shrugged his shoulders signaling ‘I can’t stop her, you know that’. This caused Adrien to groan loudly and bury his head in his arms on his desk in defeat, if he couldn’t keep the secret in confrontation with the beast, he could at least try his best to avoid said beast.
Alya turned to Nino with a questioning look, abandoning her phone she pointed to the collapsed Adrien that was now sprawled over the table. Nino simply shrugged again, this time he took out his own phone and started scrolling promptly signaling that he didn’t want to be interrogated as it wasn’t his problem.
“You know that won’t work, both of you,” Alya spoke as she made her way past Nino to her seat. She had just gotten out her required items for the first class when students started piling in to the room.
She leaned over the desk as close to Adrien as she could, “you know I’ll find out what you’re hiding sooner or later right?” she whispered directly behind his left ear. He visibly shivered at the words and shot up into a sitting position.
“I-I’m not hi-hiding anything!!” He quickly realized his mistake when he heard giggles from around the room, he had been so used to cover up his secret identity it seemed like second nature to assume that Alya knew something about it. He had acted upon instinct, he mentally cursed himself for reacting too quickly.
“My, my it doesn’t seem that way. So mind telling me what it is or should we do this the hard way?” Alya was as cunning as ever, her voice was rimmed with an eerie sweetness that Adrien didn’t remember hearing before, he was more used to the stern journalist voice she so often used when trying to get an interview with his alternate persona.
Adrien whimpered as he tried to catch Nino’s eyes, his friend was clearly avoiding all eye-contact and focusing on his own phone. A hand grabbed the blond’s ear from behind making him frantic in his search for an escape, an excuse, anything.
His eyes landed on the girl who was just now entering the war zone.
Marinette’s eyes widened when she looked up from her phone to see the spectacle taking place in her seat, Alya was leaning over and pinching Adrien’s ear, she was looking fierce as always when she got wind of something juicy. The dark haired girl instantly felt sympathy for the blond. She then looked around at the rest of the room, most of the eyes were glued to the scene that unfolded on the front row, there were however also another scene unfolding on the front row. Chloe was making a huge fuss about how crude Alya was for using ‘physical violence’ on her beloved ‘Adrikins’.
Marinette gave up on Chloe and instead walked over to her seat, she made a point to avoid eye contact with Adrien, it would be too embarrassing for her to have eye contact first thing in the morning.
She was never prepared so early in the morning.
Alya was forced to let go of Adrien when Mari came up to claim her seat, she did however insist that she whisper one last thing in his ear before letting go. “You better not think this saves you, pretty boy, I’ll find out what’s going on through any means if necessary.” Adrien shivered at the thought of Alya wringing his phone out of his hand ad cracking the code right then and there only to look through his personal images, where she would find the proof she’s been searching for, for so long.
“So what’s got you hooked this time?” Marinette asked her best friend with an edge to her voice Adrien recognized immediately, it was the same tone his lady used when he was dying to try a new pun he had thought of. The thought almost made him laugh, it was however, difficult to chuckle at a private joke in this setting where the hawk already had her eyes on him.
He didn’t want to just give himself away.
Somehow the classes passed by in a breeze after that and Adrien actually managed to escape any interrogation Alya had planned out during the day, he had to go to his private piano and Chinese lessons at his home anyway. He had to use what little break time he had available to try to fix the problem.
He practically threw his bag on the bed before calling Plagg out to talk. “Plagg what do I do? Nino saw that stupid picture I took as Chat!! What if he tells Alya and she figure out who I am?” He was pacing in front of the bed making wide hand gestures as he spoke.
“I don’t see why you don’t just delete the photo.” Plagg sounded bored already, he had somehow found the time to help himself to a slice of cheese before plopping down onto Adrien’s bed.
Adrien looked totally baffled at the mention of deleting the photo he held so dear. It was the first ever picture he had taken with his lady, they were just about to start their patrol when he had asked if he could have a photo with her to commemorate their six-month anniversary as partners. She had looked confused at first before she just smiled and nodded, “Sure little kitty.” He had been ready to die from happiness at that moment.
Dying of happiness, it seemed so silly, nevertheless it had been the only thing on his mind in the few seconds he had taken the selfie. He had used snapchat to take it, just so he could add that little line of text making it clear what the occasion was.
That picture was now one of his most prized possessions, it was the first time he had seen her smile so sincerely, and knowing he was the reason made him all giddy inside. He was so in love with her he wasn’t sane around her anymore.
He realized he had zoned out and shook his head, he was trying to fix a problem not go all sentimental over a picture.
“I can’t just delete it, Plagg,” he defended, crossing his arms across his chest to further emphasize his point, but mostly to just balance himself, his mind was becoming more and more unstable these days.
“Why not? It would solve your problem, or at least most of it anyway.” The kwami had finished the piece of cheese and was now floating aimlessly around Adrien’s figure.
“It’s worth more than solving a single problem, Plagg! It’s my first picture with Ladybug, and as far as I remember it’s also the first time she’s smiled like that! How could I just delete that?!” He could feel the emotions brewing inside of him now, he had to control them before he said something horrible to his kwami. He knew this feeling well, it usually popped up whenever he tried getting a reluctant Nathalie to reschedule an appointment so he could go out with Nino.
“Your choice buddy, but I’m not going on television no matter how much Camembert you offer.” Plagg then flew up to the second level of the room to find a place to rest until needed again.
This left Adrien alone with his thoughts, he definitely couldn’t just delete the photo, he wanted to give it to Ladybug once he knew her identity, although he was beginning to doubt that he ever would anyway, after all it had been over half a year and he was no closer than he had been in the beginning.
Maybe that was a good sign, after all he was the one closest to her right? And if he had a hard time figuring it out it must be impossible for Alya who the duo usually made a point to avoid along with the rest of the press.
But now that his identity was in jeopardy of being discovered he wondered, just who was Ladybug? He was almost certain she had no problems keeping her identities completely separate, and he was also sure that she hadn’t had any close calls like the one he found himself in currently. Could Nino possibly figure it out on his own? He had only seen the picture for a few seconds, but it was obvious that it wasn’t a screenshot.
Oh god, it wasn’t a screenshot, did Nino use Snapchat on a regular basis? Would he notice the absence of the timer in the corner?
Adrien’s thought went wild as he brainstormed al the possible negative outcomes, all the worst possible scenarios.
He had to delete the photo before Alya had a chance to see it. Before he could do so, however, he was called down by Nathalie who announced that his Piano instructor had arrived and was ready to begin his private lesson.
The next day Adrien made sure to get to school in the nick of time, just so he could avoid any unnecessary questions about the photo Nino might have. It seemed though that he didn’t have to worry at all about Nino, he was absent.
Alya was, however, extremely present, in fact her presence was so heavy it weighed down on Adrien’s shoulders all throughout the first few lessons, during the tiny break between the first two subjects Adrien narrowly made his escape to go to the bathroom where he just stood and waited for time to pass.
It wasn’t that easy when lunch came. The second the bell rang Adrien was already halfway out the door, but a certain brunette was quick to grab his arm before he could make a clean getaway. “So Nino told me you have a certain celebrity’s snapchat, huh, Adrien?”
He stared at her with shocked eyes, in all the scenarios he had played out in his head yesterday, the idea of Alya thinking he was friends with Chat Noir on Snapchat was not present in any of them. His mind shut down for a few long seconds before he grew accustomed to reality again.
“Uhm…” He mentally face-palmed at his indecisiveness, he had chosen to go with it! Goddamn it Agreste do what your mind tells you!!
Alya didn’t look the least bit amused, her face was a hundred percent serious as she searched for any and all clues leading to the identity of one of Paris’ masked heroes. Adrien gulped, his eyes started searching for an escape in much the same way they had yesterday, this time they caught on to Marinette’s eyes, she looked interested in him, or his answer he guessed.
He mutely begged her for help, but she merely shook her head and glanced at Alya before shrugging, ‘no one can take on that monster and survive it’, Adrien would’ve laughed, if not for said monster having locked on to him as her target.
“Well… are you going to spill the beans?” The monster demanded a real genuine answer, and Adrien said the first thing that came to mind.
“I promised not to tell anyone.” His voice was almost non-existent and his gaze was directed at the floor, Marinette hadn’t shown any signs of wanting to help him. He tried to move out of the way of the students flowing towards the exit. Alya didn’t let him move a single inch, she emphasized her point by squeezing harder on his arm and pulling him away from the door, in the direction of their desks.
Adrien’s mind started brainstorming possible escape routes, but just as soon as one idea popped up another thought shot it down.
He was trapped.
“You know, I wasn’t sure whether to believe Nino or not, but you’ve just confirmed at least two things for me.” All alarms were flaring in his head at her statement, he could’ve told her that it wasn’t true, that Nino had been lying! He was so stupid sometimes, but now he really was screwed.
“Well, you know I wouldn’t lie to you, right?” He tried his best to keep his voice steady, but he was fairly certain the brunette could see straight through him at this point. He weakly added a laugh to emphasize his credibility, but he instantly regretted the decision when he caught her gaze.
She was staring at his eyes, no that’s not right, she was staring through his eyes straight into his soul.
Her next move hit a completely unguarded blond.
She let go of him entirely and went back to Marinette, who was just as surprised at her friend’s actions as he was. Adrien stood completely still for what seemed like minutes to him, did he really just escape Alya’s wrath? He couldn’t believe it, not for one second, it was too fishy, too uncertain.
Nevertheless, the time kept passing, and so the day came to an end. Adrien got up to go home, it was one of his rare days with the afternoon to himself, so he had planned to go out as Chat just so he could unwind, maybe even run into his lady.
But of course fate would have other plans with him. Two arms hooked under his own on both sides, and before he knew what was going on he was being pulled along by Nino and Alya towards Marinette’s house. Adrien tried his best to fight for his freedom, but his friends were significantly stronger when they were together.
Wasn’t he supposed to be stronger since he was a secret superhero, who went out nearly every night tossing around his body challenging his own boundaries. It didn’t seem to be the case though, so maybe Alya had gotten a workout herself while running around trying to film his other persona? That still left the mystery of how Nino was stronger than him, had he been working out secretly or something? Whatever it was it was a problem, Adrien was forced to comply.
His mind darted back to the lunch break and his near death experience, was this how Alya had decided to end it? He decided to go slack, figured he might as well give them a hard time with carrying up the stair, oh the stairs, he knew the layout of Marinette’s house included stairs, would it hurt to be carried up them?
Before he had time to think any further he was suddenly dropped. He complained loudly when he sat up only to be met with snickers from his three friends. Marinette had his bag in her hands. They were just outside the bakery, and apparently he had to walk up the stairs on his own to avoid suspicion from Marinette’s parents.
He grumpily got up and walked alongside his so-called ‘friends’, for some reason he didn’t feel like classifying them as such right now.
They reached Marinette’s bedroom without incident, and Adrien was promptly shoved onto the chaise while Alya took the desk chair. The other two stood and tried to look intimidating, Marinette didn’t succeed very well, Adrien thought she looked way more cute than stern, he would’ve laughed if it wasn’t for the situation.
“Phone.” The command was delivered with a stern voice, Alya didn’t leave any room for negotiation and Adrien knew it. He should have just deleted the photo, now he risked his friends uncovering his identity.
Marinette rummaged through his bag, her face changed completely for a second and she looked into the bag with wide eyes, then her gaze darted to Adrien’s eyes. Adrien hoped he had left a piece of a sandwich in his bag by mistake and that it was the reason for Mari’s sudden change of expression. He could explain a lot away but not the existence of a tiny fairy in his school bag.
She continued rummaging through for a few moments before looking up once again. “It’s not here.” Now it was Adrien’s turn to look at Mari with wide eyes, he knew for sure his phone was in his bag, unless it had been stolen that is, which he knew it hadn’t been as he had used it just before the last lesson.
“What?” Alya didn’t sound angry, but more surprised, Adrien was sure she had seen him put it in the bag before the start of the last class, she had probably also kept an eye on the damn thing throughout the lesson. Nino joined in on the confusion, he knew for a fact that Adrien always kept his phone in his bag.
“Are you sure Mari? It’s not in any of the side pockets either?” Alya sounded dumbfounded, just a few minutes’ prior had she been in the role of strict interrogator, but she had now been shaken forcefully out of that role.
Mari quickly checked all the side pockets and repeated her previous statement. “Shit, then what do we do Alya?” Nino asked, it seemed to Adrien that he had just been dragged along by the girl, as had Mari probably.
“We can’t do anything without his phone. Are you sure it’s not there Mari?”
“I’m one hundred percent positive, I’ve checked it all!” Mari shook the bag to emphasize the last bit of her sentence.
Alya ran a hand through her hair out of frustration, then she turned to Adrien who quivered under the weight of her gaze. “You got lucky, pretty boy. I’ll get to the bottom of this someday.”
She then turned around and exited the room dragging Nino with her, Adrien was once again puzzled at her behavior, in his flood of relief he momentarily forgot about the fact that Marinette had indeed stumbled upon something she found interesting in his bag.
She plopped it down in front of him directing his attention back towards her.
“So care to explain, Chat?” Her tone surprised him, it wasn’t Marinette standing over him, or at least it didn’t sound like Marinette.
It sounded like Ladybug, his lady. “It’s not what it seems?” He tried weakly raising his shoulders.
“Oh really? Cause it seems like you have a freaking Kwami in your bag, and oh god, if I’m wrong I just got into a lot of trouble. You are Chat right?” She had turned back into Marinette in a split-second, it baffled him how she could switch tones and confidence levels so swiftly.
Then it hit him, she didn’t just sound like Ladybug, she also acted like Ladybug, looked like Ladybug.