Continuing Tales

Nine Lives

A Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir Story
by P-Artsypants

Part 14 of 18

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Eventually, they were both discharged from the hospital, and taken back home to the Dupain-Cheng bakery. Adrien's identity was not discussed again after that conversation. It wasn't the most pleasant topic, and they had enough to worry about. Marinette made sure to call him Emile in front of everyone else. Though, when they were alone, she'd stare at him with this dopey little grin and whisper, "Adrien..." just like the old days.

The first night home, the little family sat at dinner, everyone happy to enjoy the moment. But then Sabine addressed the elephant in the room. "When you two feel better, will you return to superheroing?"

Adrien and Marinette looked at each other. In truth, they didn't know. Marinette hadn't even had the chance to talk to Master Fu since the fall of Hawkmoth. It was all up to him.

"For a little while, perhaps," supplied Adrien. "Paris could always use heroes, and Marinette and I could always use our kwamis, but we will have to give them back to the Guardian at some point."

"The person who gave them to you?" Tom pried.

"Yeah," Marinette nodded, not really willing to give more information than necessary.

"Well…" Sabine looked to her husband, and they both nodded. "If you continue to fight crime, we'll support you."

"School comes first, of course," Tom added.

"Just please be safe, and shoot us a text if you're going to fight a criminal."

Marinette stood and placed a kiss on each of her parent's cheeks. "We promise, from now on, we'll be safe."

"…and up until this fiasco, we hadn't really gotten hurt permanently in a fight." Adrien rubbed his arm, "I'll have a better temper against anyone else."

Marinette gave a gentle kiss to his forehead. "No one blames you, Kitty. I certainly don't."

Adrien smiled genuinely in return.

The subject was dropped for the time being.

Marinette and Adrien returned to school, where they worked very hard together to catch up on their missing work. That first day back, they were showered with hugs and 'welcome back's. Alya had this twinkle in her eye looking at the duo, and Marinette figured it didn't have anything to do with them holding hands. It was the twinkle of 'now that you guys are up and walking around, I'm going to need a full interview' and she supposed she deserved it, and their fans deserved it. People would want to have a first person experience of the defeat of Hawkmoth.

The problem was, the truth wasn't something they wanted to divulge. 'Yeah, Hawkmoth surrendered, but Chat Noir got angry and Ladybug ended up getting hurt instead.' 'Why did Chat get angry?' 'He just hates Gabriel Agreste?'

In fact, it might be better to wait until after Gabriel's trial before they make any public statements. Perhaps Ayla would bite that.

Since Hawkmoth had been such a big threat and every akuma had been reported on, Gabriel was on his way to a speedy trial in just a few short weeks.

And Chat Noir and Ladybug were supposed to give testimonies.

"So the latissimus dorsi is covered by the…Adrien?" Marinette asked, as they were studying in her room. She sat at her desk, cross legged, while he laid stretched out on the floor, half a croissant in his hand. He had asked her to quiz him, but by the way he was drilling holes into the floor with his stare, she figured he had other things on his mind.

"Adrien?" She tried again.

"Mm? Oh sorry…I was…uh, where were we?" He started flipping through pages…in his history book. How long had he been zoned out?

"Hey, what's up?" She interrupted.

"Oh nothing, why would you think anything was up?" He grinned sheepishly.

"Because you love anatomy, almost as much as physics. I have a hard time believing you got bored."

He offered a thin lipped smile. "It's stupid..."

"Minou, nothing that's bothering you is too stupid to talk to me about. Are you feeling okay? Stitches bothering you?"

"No My lady, I'm healing just fine…" Still, he sat up and closed his book. "I just...I don't know if I can testify at my dad's—er, Hawkmoth's trial."

Marinette closed her book as well. There was no point in studying when this was way more important. "Why's that?"

"I would be extremely biased…"

"But you're also a key member in the investigation. I know he is, or was your dad. But, you can't let that part of your life cloud your judgement. You have to judge his actions as Hawkmoth, not what he did as a father. For example…he was always very kind to me as Gabriel, a little cold, but he really got my name out there in the fashion industry. He complimented my work and gave me genuine critiques, just because he saw promise in me. But I have to put all that to the side, because I'm standing as Ladybug, not Marinette. I know it's a poor comparison, but…"

"No. I understand what you're saying…but I even as Chat Noir…I think I'd be even more inclined to put him away for life. Or worse."

Oh right. They had talked. Gabriel had confessed something that had deeply troubled him. "Is it about his motive?"

Adrien only nodded.

"Dare I ask what it was?"

Adrien hunched his shoulders. "I don't really want to say it more than I have to. So can you wait until we talk to Master Fu?"

"Of course." She offered a smile. "Whatever makes you more comfortable."

He sighed, his shoulders heaving. "One other thing…"


"I want to tell someone my identity."

"Well…now that Hawkmoth isn't a threat anymore, and several people already know, I don't see a problem with it."

"No, not my Chat Noir identity…"

She fell silent in thought. "Well…this is your secret, Adrien. If you want to tell it, then it's up to you."

"I'm…just kind of scared."

"Do you love them? Do you trust them?"


"Then I think you should."

"I'm just…worried."

"They might be angry for a while. But if they really love you, they'll understand."

He exhaled loudly and stood. "I'm going to do it now, before I lose my nerve."

"Wait, now now? Kitty, it's 10pm!"

"I know, but it's not too late for Chat Noir." And without further adieu he called for his transformation. He flexed his claws and rolled his shoulders. "Feels nice to be in the suit. It's been awhile." He climbed up the ladder to her bed, and then her latch. "Don't wait up," he winked. And he departed into the night.

Over at Nino's apartment, he was still awake, clad in pajamas and pouring over the same paragraph for history homework over and over, hoping something would stick. So far, nothing had. And he was desperate for a distraction.

Then, there came a sudden tapping at his window.

He swiveled in his chair to catch Chat Noir standing on the fire escape. He quickly got to his feet and opened the window, letting him in.

"Hey dude-er, Emile? Chat?"

Chat smiled. "Dude is fine. Are you busy?"

"Ah, just doing homework, but I could use the company." He gestured to his bed for his friend to sit. "What's up?"

"Uh…" now that he was here, he was finding himself surprisingly tongue tied. He sat, smoothing the green comforter absently. "You remember the first time I came here? Well, like when I checked up on you after…"

"Yeah, that was really cool of you. You didn't tell Marinette about the—?"

"The crying? No. And even if I had, I know she wouldn't judge you."

"Well, maybe not for crying…but maybe for having you rock me like a baby…"

"You'd be surprised how many people do that during an akuma."

"Oh yeah! He's been arrested, no more akuma! You finally get a break!"

"Uh, yeah…" He released his transformation, and Nino only looked mildly surprised. "Break for you too, huh?"

Nino shrugged with an awkward grin. "So you know?"

"Yeah, just recently. And Rena Rouge."

"Cool cool…" he nodded, a very turtle-like motion.

"So uh…how are you doing? Since last time?"

Nino deflated. "Man, I miss him. Like, a lot. Alya and Marinette have moved on, and I guess good for them, but I can't…it sucks…but there's nothing I can do about it."

Adrien rubbed his face, feeling the guilt rumbling in his chest. "Listen…Nino…" He began, stalling.

The boy had his undivided attention.

"When you and Alya got together, you were originally on a date with Marinette, and Ladybug locked you and Alya in a cage together."

Nino narrowed his eyes, suspicious of the topic change. But he continued on, regardless. "Yeah, pretty unique story. But we usually leave out the date part…how did you know about that?"

"I was hiding in the bushes giving you advice."

"…no you weren't? That was Adrien…"

Might as well plunge headfirst into this. He exhaled forcefully. "I am Adrien."

Nino furrowed his brow, scrutinizing him. "That's a low blow dude."


"I wasn't going to say anything, because I assumed you weren't doing it on purpose, but like…you can't just take his place."

"I-I'm not!"

Nino poked him in the chest, hard. "Because you can't be Adrien. If you were, it would mean that Adrien didn't trust me." He shrugged in a way that was supposed to be nonchalant, but his whole body was shaking. "It would mean my best friend, my brother lied to me…about faking his death! That's so messed up! Do you see how messed up it is?!"

"I didn't mean to lie to you…"

"You waited until the very last moment possible to tell me you were leaving for Germany! You may have well just told me on the tarmac!"

"I knew you would get upset! I didn't want to hurt you…"

"So you faked your death instead?! And then hid the truth about it for months!? Months, Adrien. I've been struggling all this time, because Emile was like having you back again, and I was starting to…" He shuddered hard as he sobbed.

"Starting to what?"

"Starting to replace you! Emile was cool and funny…and he never had any obligations, so we could hang out all the time! Just how I had always wanted to with you!" He took off his glasses as he covered his eyes with his hand. "And all this time, you've been lying to me…"

"I didn't know I was going to fake my death that day." Adrien pleaded, his heart breaking. "I just took advantage of the situation…"

"Okay fine, so that was a spur of the moment decision. But why wait until now!? Was it not important to you? Am I not important?!"

"No! I mean—Yes! You are!"

"Then why the hell—"

"It needed to be convincing!"

Nino fell silent as Adrien just panted, trembling at his confession. It was the pure, awful truth.

"I needed to disappear. My father was sending me to Germany, against all my pleading and begging. And I knew he was watching me. If I were to run away, he would stop at nothing to find me. I had to make it so he wouldn't look for me. And there couldn't be any hint of doubt that I was gone. Everyone had to believe I was gone. If you…if you weren't heartbroken over me, it would be suspicious…"

Nino's shoulders tensed in anger, but he didn't say anything.

"When Marinette jumped after me, I had already turned into Chat Noir, and I rescued her…but she turned into Ladybug in my arms. She was hysterical. She wept and begged me to do anything to save Adrien. She said she loved him…and I felt like the scum of the Earth…but I only just told her who I was when we were in the hospital."

"How did she respond?" His voice was hollow, mostly neutral.

"She cried. She was disappointed that she didn't notice sooner…but the scar threw off everyone."

"Yeah…it did. The new kid, looked like a punk with a burn scar, piercings, an eyepatch and all black clothes. Who spat in Chloe Bourgeois' face. There was no way you could be Adrien. You…you did a good job."

"Nino, you know me. This is the real me. Adrien was the one that played by the rules. When I made Emile, I designed him off of Chat Noir. The person I can be when my actions don't reflect on anyone. I hope you still want to be friends with this version of me."

Nino was quiet before he inevitably sighed. "Yeah. We're still friends…but I'm still hurt."

"I'm really sorry Nino. You're my best friend, you know? No, my brother."

"Don't use my words on me, jerk." He scoffed. "You gonna tell Alya?"

"Eventually. I thought it was more important to tell you first. She'll probably punch me in the face."

He managed to chuckle. "Yeah, she would." He stood with a sigh. "Well. I have to get back to homework, okay?"

Adrien took that as a polite 'get out'. "Okay, I'll see you tomorrow?"

"Yeah. We have that anatomy test."

"Anatomy! It was anatomy!" He cursed to himself. "I gotta cram!" Adrien called his transformation and leapt off into the night.

Now in silence, Nino fell with a plop into his computer chair. He glanced over to the picture of Adrien on his desk, with a candle next to it. He had seen something similar in Marinette's room and thought it was a nice gesture.

With a smile, he blew the candle out.

Back at the bakery, Chat Noir crawled in the skylight, only to find the room dark and Marinette asleep in bed. He detransformed as he climbed down the ladder. He tried to weasel around her, without disturbing her, but found that she looked far too comfortable to resist. He'd cram in the morning.

Like a cat, he snuggled up against her back.

"It's not that much later," Marinette commented fondly.

"Yeah…it…didn't go well." He sniffed.

"Was it Nino?"

"Yeah," he whispered. "He was really mad."

"Well…you knew it would happen."

"Yeah, it just…it sucks! I did this for the good of Paris! I knew there was going to be consequences…but it's stupid that there are when I was trying to do the right thing!"

"Was it the right thing?"

"Yes! No! I don't know!" He exasperated, his voice breaking.

Marinette rolled over to face him, blushing when she realized how close they were. Regardless, she reached up and touched his cheek.

He continued. "I ran away, and I lied just so I could have my freedom. Maybe the right thing would be to turn in my Miraculous and go to Germany…but god I get sick to my stomach just thinking about it!"

"You did what was right for you, Minou. I'm sure we could have found another Chat Noir, but he wouldn't have been you. We wouldn't have been compatible…and this moment would never happen."

He moaned softly and let his forehead knock against hers. "I just hate that I keep hurting people…"

"We all hurt people, even those we love the most. But that's what makes us human. And striving to heal that hurt is what brings us closer together. Like…like building muscles."

He pulled away slightly. "What?"

"Sure! When you first start working out, your body activates actin and myosin to contract your muscles to work. But the more work you do, the muscles proteins get stretched thin and break, causing the body to create more proteins and strengthen your muscles, resulting in hypertrophy."

"Um…that's a bit of a stretch, don't you think?"

She shrugged with a little smirk. "I was only trying to come up with an analogy using our anatomy study guide."

"Oh I see, payback for ditching study time. Very funny."

"I can be, on occasion."

He hummed in her hair, nuzzling his nose on her scalp. "I'm sorry…for all the sleepless nights. And the heartache…"

"Adrien," she said firmly, staring him in the eye. "I have forgiven you. You don't need to keep apologizing for getting out of a painful situation. I love you, Kitty Cat. And I always will." She kissed him tenderly, in a way he deserved to be kissed.

"Can I stay?" He whispered.

"You didn't even have to ask."

The next day, Adrien and Marinette came up to school, hand in hand. Alya and Nino were waiting for them at the steps.

"Well well Well, I have to hand it to you, Emile. Ever since you started living at Marinette's she's been on time."

He smiled wickedly while Marinette paled.

"It's because I actually pull her out of bed by the ankles."

"And it was only recently that he actually would apologize for it." She added, wearily.

Adrien glanced over to Nino, who had been quiet. "Ah, hey dude."

"Hey." He responded shortly, before walking right up to him and embracing him tightly. "Brother."

Adrien returned the hug with gusto.

"Uh, what's happening?" Alya whispered.

"Something beautiful." Marinette whispered back.

Nino pulled away to look at his face. "Man, I still can't believe you're Adri—adic Sea is on the History Homework that I totally…ah forget it…" He tried to save, but totally failed.

The slip did not go unmissed by a sleuth like Alya. She released the sound of a dying whale, followed by a string of swears.

Adrien awkwardly rubbed his head. "Uh…I guess the…cat is out of the bag?"

She punched him squarely in the nose.

Nine Lives

A Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir Story
by P-Artsypants

Part 14 of 18

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